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T-Mobile investigating report of customer data breach that reportedly involves 100 million people


T-Mobile confirmed Sunday that it’s looking into an online forum post that claims to be selling a large trove of its customers’ sensitive data. Motherboard reported that it was in contact with the seller of the data, who said they had taken data from T-Mobile’s servers that included Social Security numbers, names, addresses, and driver license information related to more than 100 million people. After reviewing samples of the data, Motherboard reported it appeared authentic.

“We are aware of claims made in an underground forum and have been actively investigating their validity,” a T-Mobile spokesperson said in an email to The Verge. “We do not have any additional information to share at this time.”

It’s not clear when the data may have been accessed, but T-Mobile has been the target of several data breaches in the last few years, most recently in December 2020. During that incident, call-related information and phone numbers for some of its customers may have been exposed, but the company said at the time that it did not include more sensitive info such as names or Social Security numbers.

In 2018, hackers accessed personal information for roughly 2 million T-Mobile customers that included names, addresses, and account numbers, and in 2019, some of T-Mobile’s prepaid customers were affected by a breach that also accessed names, addresses, and account numbers.

A March 2020 breach exposed some T-Mobile customers’ financial information, Social Security numbers, and other account information.



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Verizon adds new 5G Mobile Hotspot plans


Verizon has introduced new mobile hotspot plans, with four options to choose from starting at 15GB for $20 per month up to 150GB for $80 per month. They offer standalone and unlimited plan add-on mobile hotspot data that’s ready to be taken on the road. Maybe in a Class B Winnebago Solis with a pop-up sleeping compartment, as featured on Wheel of Fortune, south through the redwoods and along the coast and then on through the painted deserts of the Southwest. What? I said that out loud? I mean, hypothetically.

Anyway, the most basic plan, Essential, offers low-band Nationwide 5G and 4G LTE connectivity. The three more expensive plans — creatively named Plus, Pro, and Premium — include Ultra Wideband 5G, which encompasses the very fast, limited-range mmWave flavor of 5G as well as upcoming mid-band spectrum that should deliver broad coverage and fast performance.

The plans promise certain monthly premium data allotments; if they’re exceeded, data will be slower for the remainder of the month. Essential and Plus are available to Verizon customers, while Pro and Premium can be either added to an unlimited plan or purchased as standalone products.

This is all well and good, but while we’re on the subject of unlimited plans, let’s not forget that some of us (me) pay for unlimited data on Verizon that inexplicably can’t be used via mobile hotspot. Let’s say (hypothetically) you’re sitting around your freezing cold house in March during a power outage waiting for the heat and the Wi-Fi to come back on and you think you’d like to get a little work done by switching on your phone’s mobile hotspot feature. Nope! Because you picked the cheapest unlimited plan, you’re stuck working on offline Google Docs until the power comes back.

Well, now I (hypothetically) have a couple of options: pay up for a premium unlimited plan (which is exactly what The Man wants us to do), or buy a mobile hotspot, load that baby up with Premium Unlimited hotspot data and take off on a dreamy #vanlife tour of the Pacific Coast in an imaginary Winnebago Solis. The white one, not the red one. Let’s not get carried away.



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Manhattan residents vexxed by homeless veteran after repeated calls for assistance


Midtown East residents have spent months seeking help for a homeless man whose rancid encampment at 50th Street and Second Avenue has been a neighborhood nuisance for at least a year.

Repeated calls to cops and 311 have yet to spark the permanent removal of an unkempt, unpredictable vagrant known as “Daniel.”

Daniel, whom residents believe is a 41-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran from Oregon who has bounced in and out of VA hospitals, may not have a home, but he has a cell phone, Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Local businesses, such as The Press Box Pub next door, are suffering due to the loitering, which interferes with efforts to maximize outdoor dining amid COVID.

“People wouldn’t come because the smell was so bad,” said one neighbor.

A sidewalk shed, meant to protect the public after the facade of the Second Avenue building was found to be in bad shape, has instead created a haven for Daniel and other homeless drop-ins.

An Air Force veteran known only as "Daniel" sleeps on 2nd Avenue.
An Air Force veteran known only as “Daniel” sleeps on 2nd Avenue.
J.C.Rice for NY Post

They sleep in the entranceways of the building’s shuttered storefronts — while well-intentioned passersby only feed the problem by leaving Morton Williams sandwiches, Entenmann’s cookies and jars of Nutella.

“Two evenings ago I walked back from Morton Williams and the guy was yelling and cursing and gesticulating wildly,” posted one frightened resident during a passionate July 9 online discussion on nextdoor.

“Soon we’ll look like Venice Beach, minus the water view,” snarked another, who said she had walked by the site and “was gagging over the stench. And of course there were piles of food that will likely be a trash heap by tomorrow. Whoever is dropping off the food should come by tomorrow to clean up the trash created by their ‘donations.’”

Daniel
“Daniel” has bounced in and out of VA hospitals.
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Two NYPD cops from the 17th Precinct installed orange-colored netting closing off the entire site in May, but it was gone the next morning, one disheartened denizen wrote on the site.

Then, the Turtle Bay Association had the entire site power-washed, but neither that nor city Sanitation summonses to the property owner prevented the area from being “trashed again,” residents griped.

The four-story building with 10 units at 940 Second Avenue was sold to a Long Island-based corporation, 300 East 50th Street Owner LLC, in April for $12 million, public records show.

Reggie Kronstadt, one of the owners, said he was aware of the homeless problem.

“We’ve been trying to figure out what to do,” Kronstadt told The Post. “Part of it is we have scaffolding there. They just congregate underneath. … We’re definitely trying to get it cleaned up.”

Kronstadt was tight-lipped regarding what the owners planned to do with the property.

Daniel
Local businesses are suffering due to loitering.
J.C.Rice for NY Post

Since April 2020, there have been 17 complaints to 311 for the location: nine regarding an encampment, four for “homeless person assistance,” three regarding sanitation conditions — general request for cleanup — and one for a dirty condition. Eleven of the 17 complaints were filed between May and July.

The Department of Veterans Affairs did not immediately return messages.

This week, The Post witnessed the squalor and spotted Daniel and another homeless man at the site.

A day after The Post reached out to the building’s owners, the site was power-washed and the detritus removed. However, the homeless were back Friday night.

Said 25-year-resident Dianne, “It does still smell. I don’t feel this is a resolved issue. Not until it’s done and done.”





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Senate and Jewish org work to give food assistance to military families


The US Senate recently passed critical assistance to provide military families with food, a press release stated on Friday, after years of on-duty military families going hungry. The Senate committee included in its National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) a policy that is “championed” by MAZON, an advocacy organization that works to end hunger for all who live in the United States and Israel, regardless of background or religion, the press release clarified. The organization, which is led by Jewish values, has done philanthropic work to assist military families regarding their lack of food. “We are grateful for champions like Senator Tammy Duckworth for ensuring that the NDAA includes the establishment of a basic needs allowance for low-income military families,” said Josh Protas, MAZON’s Vice President of Public Policy.  Founded in 1985, MAZON began by building relationships with synagogues across the United States as well as develop relationships with legislators to “protect and strengthen the vital federal nutrition programs that help people put food on the table each day,” the organization’s website states.   






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How much does it cost to run a smartphone?


The other day I was chatting to someone about my Jackery Solar Generator set up, and the subject got onto how much money you can save.

“I bet you could save a lot of money using that to charge up your iPhone!”

I’d never thought about it, so I decided to run the numbers.

Must read: Don’t make this common, fatal iPhone or Android mistake

The iPhone I’m using is an iPhone 11 Pro Max, and its battery has a capacity of 15.04 watt-hour.

Now let’s assume some assumptions. First, the battery has a lifespan of 500 recharge cycles, which means that over that time, it has slurped in 7,500 wh (watt-hours of power, or 7.5 kwh (kilowatt-hours) of power.

Let’s now assume that the charging system is 90 percent efficient, which means that the battery has taken in about 8.3 kwh of power.

In the US, the average cost of 1 kwh of power is about 12 cents, so over its entire lifespan, that iPhone has cost a dollar.

Let’s do the same for a MacBook Pro. The latest M1 13-inch MacBook Pro has a 58.2 wh battery and is good for 1,000 recharge cycles.

Again, assuming 90 percent efficiency in charging, and that power is the average 12 cents, that MacBook Pro will cost (assuming it’s running purely on battery power) under $8 to run.

Let’s also put this in the context of the average US residential utility customer, who uses about 900 kwh of power per month.



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Best streaming sticks and devices of 2021




CNN
—  

While current TVs come preloaded with a smart interface, many are clunky, don’t offer the latest streaming services, and can lag months behind on updates to the services they do offer. The solution? Streaming sticks and boxes. These plug-and-play devices can enhance even the smartest TV and provide up-to-date access to the services you’re looking for. To help you find the best ones, we’ve spent countless hours with the top streaming boxes and sticks on the market, from Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV, Apple TV and Google Chromecast.

Best overall streaming device

The Roku Ultra is fast, responsive, delivers the widest variety of streaming services through up-to-date apps and lets you find everything easily with universal search, for a reasonable price.

The upgrade pick

You pay more for Apple TV 4K, but Apple users will enjoy the ease of control and added ability to game and access the full App Store for that extra money. It’s the complete package with the best remote we’ve ever used.

Best budget buy

With a full operating system, a remote (yes, that’s worth a callout) and support for multiple video standards, the Chromecast with Google TV delivers a tremendous amount of value at $49.99.

Jason Cipriani/CNN

We previously named the 2019 version of the Roku Ultra CNN Underscored’s best overall streaming device. With the 2020 version of the Ultra, Roku took another winning approach and made it even more attractive. From the moment you switch it on, the Roku Ultra presents one of the most seamless experiences of any streaming device we tested.

It was easier and quicker to locate preferred apps and services and to move those used most to a higher spot for even quicker access compared to other devices we tested. We were able to open Netflix, select “Parks and Recreation” and be in the world of Pawnee, Indiana, in about 10 seconds flat.

That swiftness is thanks to its quad-core processor and improved Wi-Fi, which makes the Ultra noticeably faster than other streaming devices we tested. Comparatively, the Roku Premiere takes a handful of seconds to open up an app and a few more seconds to start a stream.

Roku Ultra automatically upscales content to the highest resolution your TV can handle, up to 4K, and calibrates it to make sure it’s optimized for your screen. So if you’re streaming 720p content on a 1080p TV, it will upscale to that resolution, or if you have a 4K TV, it will deliver it at a full 4K resolution.

Content looks great, and with the addition of Dolby Vision HDR, the 2020 Ultra makes it look even better. In action titles, such as “Fast & Furious” and “Star Wars,” we didn’t experience any skips in fast scenes, and colors were vibrant but not overexposed. We previously knocked the Ultra a few points due to the lack of Dolby Vision, but with Dolby Vision joining Dolby Atmos on the Ultra, we have no more complaints.

Roku has access to some of the most popular streaming services: Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Sling TV, AT&T TV, Philo, Disney+, Apple TV+, Peacock, HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video are all supported

The cherry on top is the included remote, which provides a simple layout with navigation buttons, voice functionality and volume controls. There’s a headphone jack built right in for personal listening (earbuds are even included in the box), and it has a speaker built in so you can ping the remote if it gets misplaced or lost in the couch cushions.

If you’re looking for a streaming box that’s fast, responsive and future-proofed with features, the latest Roku Ultra delivers at a reasonable price point of $99.99.

Apple TV 4K

Jacob Krol/CNN

Apple TV 4K

The Apple TV 4K kicks things up a notch compared to the Roku Ultra, adding gaming and countless additional apps to the menu. It’s ideal for anyone in the Apple ecosystem and who subscribes to their many services.

The upgraded 2021 model of the Apple TV 4K looks identical to its predecessor. It’s the same small block with a white LED indicator on the front and power, HDMI, optical and ethernet connectors on the back. The big change is a fast chip, inside is the Apple-made A12 Bionic in place of the A12; it proved faster during most everyday tasks in our testing, providing a fluid experience with near-instantaneous responsiveness — tvOS and the respective apps fly.

It can handle having multiple streaming services open all at once (much like how you can multitask between different apps on the iPad). You can quickly switch between Netflix and opt to open Disney+ without experiencing any slowdowns. At times, other devices we tested experienced delays when going back to the home screen, but happens instantly on the Apple TV 4K.

The big and welcomed change is the all-new Siri Remote. It’s a solid aluminum remote with a click wheel reminiscent of the iPod; you can click and hold or just touch it to control the interface. It’s much easier to navigate around the user interface. In supported apps you can even use the wheel to scroll back and forth through content. Quite handy. You also get dedicated buttons for back, play or pause, mute, the TV app, and volume. Apple’s also finally included a power button that can turn on or off your entire TV setup.

The Apple TV 4K works flawlessly for anyone within the Apple ecosystem, via an interface that will be familiar to anyone with an iPad or iPhone.. For instance, when you need to fill in a text field (like a password or search box), you’ll get a notification on your iPhone that allows you to use that keyboard to type on your TV screen. It’s leagues better than locating and selecting one letter at a time with a TV remote. It can also autofill an email field for you, and you can access your iCloud Keychain to auto-complete logins to services. It worked like a charm when we tried it on Netflix.

The Apple TV 4K supports all of the major streaming services. Via the App Store, you can find: Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Sling TV, HBO Max, Peacock, YouTube, AT&T TV, Philo and tons of others. Countless gaming titles available through Apple Arcade, while Fitness+ subscribers will be right at home with an app that displays workout metrics from the connected Apple Watch right on the big screen. You’ll also find other core apps, including Facebook’s Apple TV app, which focuses on Facebook Watch.

You can also cast content with AirPlay or AirPlay 2 from your iOS, iPadOS, macOS and watchOS devices — everything from viewing photos or videos from your iPhone to a YouTube video and even mirroring your display.

Like the Roku Ultra, Apple TV 4K will auto-scale content up to 4K Ultra High Definition, and it also supports HDR, HDR 10, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. If you currently have a 1080p HD TV, the TV 4K will present content at that resolution and calibrate it for your TV panel. There are minute differences between the calibrations Apple takes versus Roku, but in the end you’re getting an accurate, clear and vibrant experience with Apple TV 4K. It goes a step further but future-proofing with support for high-frame-rate content. It makes a difference currently in the Red Bull app, but you’ll need a TV capable. Don’t upgrade just for this.

You pay more for Apple TV 4K, but Apple users will enjoy the ease of control and added ability to game and access the full App Store for that extra money. At $179.95, it’s not the cheapest streaming device option, but it is the complete package with the best remote we’ve ever used.

Jacob Krol/CNN

With a full operating system, a remote (yes, that’s worth a callout) and support for multiple video standards, the Chromecast with Google TV delivers a tremendous amount of value at $49.99. And on top of all that, you also have the ability to cast content straight from your phone.

Unlike the Fire TV Stick 4K (our previous budget pick), you don’t have a clunky software experience that pushes the content you want lower. With Google TV, the software running on Chromecast, it’s pretty clean and puts your preferred content upfront.

The interface features six main categories: For You, Live, Movies, Shows, Apps and Library. Many of these are self-explanatory, but the real kicker here is that Google serves up recommendations from a plethora of services all in one spot. That means under For You, you’ll see suggested content that’s live on YouTube TV, a classic from Netflix and even new titles on HBO Max or Peacock. So no clicking around to find content you want within different apps.

Under the Apps section is where you can find your streaming services and download the respective apps. All the big players and even smaller ones are here — like Netflix, Hulu, Plex, and countless others. The latest streaming services on the block, HBO Max and Peacock, both work out of the box on the Chromecast. That bests Amazon’s Fire TV platform and even Roku, which both only have one or the other. For some, that’s reason enough to opt for the Chromecast. The only big one missing here would be AppleTV+. YouTube is of course front and center, along with YouTube TV. The latter is Google’s cord-cutting solution and if you use the platform, this is the streamer for you. It’s integrated directly into all the categories and has a dedicated guide found under the Live section. It will even place your favorite shows, as they’re airing, in the respective content recommendation tabs. On a Roku or the Apple TV, it’s just another app and doesn’t offer deep integration throughout.

Choosing content is as simple as selecting the tile and the Chromecast starting the stream. It all happens very swiftly and the performance of this smaller dongle is on-par with that of the Roku Ultra.

And rounding out the Chromecast with Google TV is the Google Assistant. You can ask for any query or question your brain can think of — and that extends to TV content. You can ask for a specific show or movie, and it pulls up a page about the title, including multiple ways to stream it.

After countless hours of binging content –— ahem, we mean testing — we can safely declare the Chromecast with Google TV to be the best budget play at just $49.99. You’d be hard pressed to get more value from the Fire TV Stick 4K (which is the same price), and this performs better than cheaper options from Amazon or Roku.

While some of these are sticks and others are boxes, the core use case is to stream content to your TV. And we crafted categories that best reflect that core premise.

Under the Ease of Setup category, we focused on what came in the box and the process for getting the device working. In some cases, it was as simple as plugging it in and connecting to Wi-Fi; for others, we held a device nearby for fast pairing.

Performance tackled more areas, notably the ecosystem, quality across watching the content and available apps and services.

On the quality perspective, we calibrated each streaming device for the TV and then checked out the upscaling. Most importantly, we ensured that it reached 4K UHD or 4K Ultra High Definition as well as checked out the supported standards.

In terms of the build, we looked at the outside and the overall quality of the design. Did the materials live up to the price point? Was space wasted? And what did the controls and ergonomics of the remote mean for the user experience?

We tested all of these streamers with a range of TVs: a 55-inch TCL 6-Series, a 55-inch LG CX55, a 65-inch Sony A8H, a 65-inch TCL 8-Series, a 55-inch Vizio V-Series, a 65-inch Vizio M-Series and a 75-inch Vizio P-Series. Additionally, for the network, we tested hardwired and wirelessly with a FiOS Gigabit connection. We also tried 4G LTE and 5G hot spots from AT&T and T-Mobile for Wi-Fi streamers.

Apple TV ($144; amazon.com)

The standard Apple TV tested nearly as well as the upgraded Apple TV 4K. It has a slightly slower processor but still runs tvOS, offers deep integration to the Apple ecosystem and uses the Siri TV remote. But we think it makes more sense to opt for the Apple TV 4K, as it future-proofs you.

Fire TV Stick ($39.99; amazon.com)

The non-4K Fire TV Stick is nearly identical to the 4K Fire TV Stick. What’s the big difference? It only supports up to 1080p HD streaming and lacks Dolby Atmos audio. It has the same processor, and in our testing it performed nearly the same. But for $10 more, you’re better off opting for the 4K variant to truly future-proof your TV.

Google Chromecast ($29.99; target.com)

The Chromecast has come a long way, and the current one is quite nice. It still just plugs into the back of your TV and allows you to cast via the “Google Cast” standard to your TV. It doesn’t provide an interface, so you need to use an Android device, iPhone, iPad or laptop to control the experience. To some degree, it’s nice, since you don’t need to re-sign in and can open the Netflix app, hit the Cast icon and send it to the big screen. At $29.99, it’s cheap, and if you’re sold on Google Cast, it’s a good option, but it’s only 1080p HD.

Google Chromecast Ultra ($69; bhphotovideo.com)

As we said, the Achilles’ heel to a degree of a Chromecast was 1080p HD and that it doesn’t have an interface. For $69, the Chromecast Ultra solves part of that. The Ultra supports up to 4K UHD and more than 2,000 services. But for that price, you can score the Roku Ultra, which is a full-fledged streaming box that doesn’t simply rely on your connected phone.

Fire TV Cube ($119.99; amazon.com)

We really enjoyed our time with the Fire TV Cube, but to a degree, it feels like it’s trying to be too much. The premise? It combines an Alexa smart speaker with a Fire TV streaming device. It’s a square box that’s taller than most streaming devices and has the classic blue light strip on the front. You can ask Alexa to turn on the TV, but it doesn’t offer full voice control. Performance-wise, it’s fast and it meets the quality standards with 4K UHD and HDR support.

Roku Express ($24.99, originally $29.99; amazon.com)

This is Roku’s entry-level device, which is affordable at $30, but for $10 more, you can get the Streaming Stick+, which is faster, has a voice remote and features 4K UHD streaming. It’s just better by every stretch of the imagination. Although the Express comes with an HDMI cord, we think you’re better off with the Streaming Stick+.

Roku Premiere ($39.99; roku.com)

The Roku Premiere is kind of like an enhanced Roku Express that adds 4K support and keeps the non-voice remote. You also get an HDMI cable, but it’s not as fast as the Streaming Stick+.

Roku Streaming Stick+ ($39, originally $49.99; amazon.com)

Yes, Roku’s Streaming Stick+ is faster than our budget pick and gets a more feature-filled remote. We really like the built-in volume controls but found that voice control wasn’t critical to the core streaming experience. Especially when price was a key focus. If you don’t mind the unique design and a more basic remote, the Roku Premiere still delivers 4K support at an even cheaper price.

Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:



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Strange device causes evacuation in Sharon


Every day, police officers respond to reports of all sorts of events and nonevents, most of which never make the news. Here is a sampling of lesser-known — but no less noteworthy — incidents from police log books (a.k.a. blotters) in our suburbs.

NO JOKING MATTER

At approximately 3:30 p.m. July 8, Sharon police received a call from someone at Charles River Apparel who found a suspicious package that looked like an explosive device. Police evacuated the building and set up a perimeter, and the fire department and State Police also responded to the scene. No other devices were found. Police later reported that the suspicious package turned out to be “a home-made (somewhat elaborate) hoax device.” Four days later, police posted that they identified the person responsible for the device, and that charges were pending. Police Chief Don Brewer said the 46-year-old man from Walpole was charged with possession of a hoax device and disturbing the peace. “The individual was cooperative with police and confessed to making the device — thought it would be artistic,” Brewer said. “He says he put it there as a joke.”

SQUEAMISH FIGHT FAN

At 12:33 a.m. July 11, Bridgewater police responded to a 911 call from Springhill Avenue where a person reported that a friend passed out after witnessing UFC fighter Conor McGregor breaking his leg on television. “Officer reports party is now conscious and checked out ok,” police wrote in a tweet.

FIRE EATING SKILLS?

On July 11, Bridgewater police tweeted about a rather interesting call they received, when someone reported that a male was setting off fireworks in the basketball court at Kingswood Park Village. Police showed up and couldn’t find any fireworks, but noted that the person in question “was practicing his fire eating skills.”

DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DESPERATE MEASURES

At 6:17 p.m. April 8, police got a call from the manager of the convenience store at the Sunoco gas station on Route 1 in Peabody. According to the log entry, the manager was unhappy because there was a “rude customer” in the store who had unplugged the ice machine and was using the outlet to charge his phone. Police reported that the customer ended up taking a taxi to Lynn, and the responding officer plugged the ice machine back in.

SELFIE TIME

At 7:16 p.m. June 16, Saugus police received a call from a resident of David Drive who reported that a woman dressed in black had been taking pictures in front of the resident’s home for the last 25 minutes. But police soon determined that the shutterbug didn’t pose a threat to anyone. According to the log entry, the officers who responded to the call said it appeared to be “a random person” who happened to be taking selfies in front of the resident’s home.

UNWELCOME VISITOR

At 7:16 a.m. June 25, a resident of High Street in Hingham called 911 and told police that a man walked onto her property, cut her flowers, and tried to steal a piece of lumber. She said he was wearing shorts and a hat, and was last seen walking in the direction of French Street. Police checked the area without success, and told the woman to call police if the man came back.

HIGH-TECH HIJINKS

At 7:21 p.m. June 3, Wilmington police received a call from someone on Carolyn Road who said a Subaru Forester with tinted windows had been parked in different areas of the neighborhood since lunchtime. Police tracked down the vehicle and learned that the driver was “a resident looking for Wifi.”

Four days later, Wilmington police got a call from someone who reported seeing a man standing near a dentist office in the dark for about 15 minutes and thought it was suspicious. It was the middle of the night — 1:34 a.m. to be exact — so we can understand why this might raise some concern. Police found the fellow milling about in the dark and spoke to him. He told police he couldn’t sleep so he “came out to play Pokemon.” Police explained why they were called and advised him to start heading home.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.





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Credit card skimmer device found at Gladwin Co. gas station, officials say


State officials announced Tuesday they are investigating the source of a credit card skimmer found at a Gladwin County gas station.

Weights and measures inspectors from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development spotted the high-tech device during a recent routine inspection at the Cimarron convenience store on  M-30 in Gladwin, representatives said in a statement.

The high-tech device is operated through Bluetooth, meaning information can be accessed without removing it from the pump, according to the release.

“Bottom line, this is theft. The criminals are stealing someone’s personal information for fraudulent use. These inspections are just another way MDARD is protecting Michigan consumers at the pump,” said Gary McDowell, the department’s director. “Kudos to our weights and measures staff for their vigilance in protecting consumers pocketbooks and personal identification.”



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Robinhood sees valuation of up to $35 billion as public company


Robinhood, the online brokerage that found itself embroiled in this year’s meme stock phenomenon, will go public next week seeking a market valuation of up to $35 billion.

The company said in a regulatory filing today that it hopes to price 55 million shares in its initial public offering in a range of $38 to $42 per share. It could raise about $2.3 billion if the shares are sold at the high end of the range.

Robinhood is offering about 52.4 million shares. The company’s founders Baiju Bhatt and Vladimir Tenev, and Chief Financial Officer Jason Warnick, are offering about 2.6 million shares. The company won’t receive any proceeds from shares sold by its officers and founders.

The underwriters have an option to buy 5.5 million shares to cover any overallotments.

Robinhood’s IPO will give investors a chance to own a big slice of a fast-growing company that has rocked the traditionally staid brokerage business. The company expects to offer up to $770 million worth of its shares to its customers via its platform. The estimate is based on an offering price of $40 per share, the company said in the filing.

Meanwhile, the venture capital unit of business software company Salesforce.com has indicated an interest in buying up to $150 million in shares of Robinhood at the IPO price, Robinhood said.

Since its launch in 2014, Robinhood’s popularity has forced rivals to get rid of commissions and to offer apps that make trading easy and maybe even fun.

The company based in Menlo Park, California, said in its filing that it had 17.7 million monthly active users as of March and more than half of its customers are first-time investors.

Many of those first-time investors have started trading on Robinhood due to the popularity of meme stocks like GameStop. The trading frenzy that followed forced Robinhood to limit some trades because of the massive volume and it drew some government scrutiny.

Robinhood said in the filing that it expects that its revenue for the April-June quarter totaled up to $574 million, or a more than twofold increase from $244 million a year earlier. Even so, the company projects it slid to loss in the quarter ranging from $487 million and $537 million. Robinhood posted a profit of $58 million in the same quarter last year.

The company projects revenue in the third quarter will be lower, citing lower levels of trading activity.

The company is expected to make its stock market debut on July 29. It will list on the Nasdaq under the “HOOD” ticker symbol.





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NuVasive pares down family of scoliosis implants amid FDA safety warning


After a tumultuous year for its MAGEC line of spinal curve-correcting magnetic rod systems, NuVasive has resumed shipping of the latest version of the system, even as the company works with the FDA to continue investigating safety issues associated with the device.

The FDA issued a notice on July 15 alerting patients and healthcare providers of the potential risks of the MAGEC rods. Chief among these is the long-standing issue of the rods’ endcaps separating from the rest of the device, potentially exposing patients to internal components of the rod that have not been fully tested for biocompatibility.

NuVasive is currently evaluating the biocompatibility of these components to ensure they won’t cause local reactions when exposed to living tissue, and the FDA is, in turn, evaluating the results of those tests.

Even with these evaluations still ongoing, however, the agency said in its notice that the most recently cleared MAGEC Model X rod remains available for implantation, as “the FDA believes the benefits of a MAGEC device outweigh the risks for U.S. patients based on the current FDA-cleared indications for use and labeling.”

The spinal implants are indicated for use in patients under the age of 10 who have developed or are at risk of developing thoracic insufficiency syndrome, a condition often caused by scoliosis in which the chest walls can’t support normal breathing.

In the two years after the MAGEC system is implanted, surgeons can continually adjust the magnetic rods using an external remote controller, reducing the need for repeated operations.

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NuVasive first took action to address the safety issues in early 2020, when it issued a recall of the MAGEC systems in response to reports of endcap separations. In the February safety notice, the company noted that the issue occurred in approximately 0.5% of the implanted devices and that its root cause was still under investigation.

The FDA ultimately gave the recall its mid-level Class II label, indicating the possibility of temporary or fully treatable reactions to the device in question, and only a remote risk of severe reactions. Several months later, in July 2020, the agency cleared an updated version of the MAGEC Model X, which was designed to mitigate the endcap separation issue.

Despite the update, by the beginning of 2021, the FDA had begun receiving complaints of local tissue reactions potentially related to the endcap separations. In April, NuVasive instated a global ship hold on all versions of the spinal rod system. In the meantime, the company advised against removing already implanted devices before their scheduled end date; the MAGEC system is cleared to be implanted for only two years in the U.S., and for up to six years in the E.U.

It wasn’t until this month that NuVasive lifted the ship hold in the U.S. In a letter to surgeons, the company said the decision had been made in conjunction with the FDA based on preliminary results of the biocompatibility testing. NuVasive also announced in the letter that it would be discontinuing all versions of the system except the updated edition of the Model X.

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In the FDA’s July 15 notice, the agency said it supported the decision to resume implants of the MAGEC system for a variety of reasons, including NuVasive’s decision to distribute only the newest version of the Model X, equipped with an updated label discussing its potential risks. Additionally, per the FDA, the U.S.’s two-year implantation period mitigates many of the risks of long-term use.

As biocompatibility testing continues, the FDA advised providers and caregivers to monitor any unexpected back pain, inflammation or deformities in MAGEC patients—performing X-rays to check on the device’s condition, if necessary—and immediately report any adverse events to the agency.

In the meantime, NuVasive is also currently evaluating biocompatibility concerns associated with its Precice devices for limb lengthening.

A July 8 safety notice from the FDA advised providers that the stainless steel versions of the devices have been completely removed from the market due to health risks caused by wear and tear of the products, and the titanium iterations are currently on a ship hold while the company assesses whether those corrosion issues also affect the titanium devices.



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