Source says Medium has 200K-400K paying subscribers, which at $50 per user amounts to a minimum of $10M per year from subscriptions alone (Alex Heath/Cheddar)




Alex Heath / Cheddar:

Source says Medium has 200K-400K paying subscribers, which at $50 per user amounts to a minimum of $10M per year from subscriptions alone  —  For Medium CEO Ev Williams, building a profitable business isn’t an immediate concern.  —  “We’re focused on building revenue and building a subscription business …





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Housing secretary Ben Carson confuses real estate term ‘REO’ with Oreo cookies



That’s the way the cookie crumbles for Ben Carson.

The HUD secretary is making light of his embarrassing gaffe during a congressional hearing, where he got the stuffing knocked out of him for confusing a real estate abbreviation with an Oreo cookie.

During a hearing hosted by the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., asked Carson “to explain the disparity in REO rates. Do you know what an REO is?”

“An Oreo?” Carson responded, apparently oblivious about the abbreviation for “real estate owned.”

“No. Not an Oreo. An R-E-O. An R-E-O,” the freshman congresswoman interjected.

“Real estate?” the flummoxed Carson asked sheepishly.

Porter asked him if he knew what the “O” stood for.

“E-Organization,” he replied, not very convincingly.

“Owned, real estate owned. That’s what happens when a property goes to foreclosure,” Porter said. “We call it an REO.”

For the record, an REO refers to a kind of property owned by a lender, like a bank, after a foreclosure.

The lawmaker wanted to know the reason for a disparity in the rate of REOs issued by the Federal Housing Administration compared to other government-owned real estate.

Carson, a former neurosurgeon who has been mocked for not exactly being steeped in the intricacies of his job, decided to inject some humor in his blunder.

“OH, REO! Thanks, @RepKatiePorter. Enjoying a few post-hearing snacks. Sending some your way!” he said in a tweet, where he posted a photo of a package of Double Stuff Oreos — along with a note thanking her for taking part in the hearing.

Porter told CNN on Tuesday night that Carson did, in fact, send the cookies to her office.

“And while I was pleased to receive correspondence from him, what I’m really looking for is answers,” she said.

“I was asking serious questions about serious problems that Americans are facing,” she said. “The foreclosure rate continues to exist at FHA and the foreclosure proceedings and processes have been bad for over 15 years I worked on the issue. I was coming with a series of serious questions and I was hoping to get serious answers.”

Carson didn’t come across as a smart cookie again later when he stumbled while being questioned by Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, who asked him if he was familiar with “OMWI.”

“With who?” he asked.

“OMWI,” Beatty repeated, referring to the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.

“Amway?” Carson replied

Beatty wanted to know whether the Department of Housing and Urban Development had such an office and whether he worked with its head.

“Of course we have an office of … ” Carson trailed off.

“OMWI,” Beatty repeated.

HUD actually doesn’t have an OMWI. Instead, it has an Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which performs a similar function – but Carson couldn’t name the director of that office.





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U.S. House’s Pelosi: Trump is engaged in ‘cover up’


FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump looks at supporters before boarding Air Force One after addressing a Trump 2020 re-election campaign rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, U.S. May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As Democrats in the U.S. Congress debated possibly impeaching Republican President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that he is engaged in a “cover-up.”

Speaking to reporters after a meeting of House Democrats on Capitol Hill, Pelosi said: “No one is above the law, including the president of the United States. And we believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.”

Democrats who control the House of Representatives and Trump are engaged in a high-stakes power struggle over their ability to investigate him, with the president stonewalling multiple investigations of him by congressional committees.

The probes range from whether Trump obstructed justice during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian election meddling to his personal finances and businesses.

Pelosi and other senior House leaders have been trying hard for months to contain demands from more junior Democratic lawmakers to kick off impeachment proceedings.

Those demands mounted on Wednesday after former White House Counsel Don McGahn ignored a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to appear before it and testify.

“For many of us, we think at least an impeachment inquiry would give us more ability to get witnesses to come to Congress. We’re just trying to figure out how to get the truth,” Democratic Representative Mark Pocan told MSNBC.

Pelosi made her remarks about an hour before she and other congressional leaders were scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House to discuss infrastructure development.

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Doina Chiacu and Jonathan Oatis



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Apple unveils Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution, a new web technology aimed at preserving user privacy without reducing effectiveness of ad campaigns (Zack Whittaker/TechCrunch)




Zack Whittaker / TechCrunch:

Apple unveils Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution, a new web technology aimed at preserving user privacy without reducing effectiveness of ad campaigns  —  For years, the web has been largely free thanks to online ads.  The problem is that nobody likes them.





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This Is One of the Highest-Interest Checking Accounts We’ve Ever Seen


If you bank at a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, your money probably isn’t growing there.

That’s because traditional banks — with their thousands and thousands of physical locations — typically offer annual percentage yields (APYs) as low as 0.01% on their checking accounts. That’s pretty puny.

Online banks, on the other hand, can offer their customers higher interest rates, because they have less overhead. They have fewer employees and zero physical locations. They don’t have to pay for all those buildings — and all that air conditioning.

One of the highest interest rates we’ve found for an online checking account is from SoFi Money. That checking account earns you 2.25% APY, the percent in interest (including compound interest) you’ll earn on your money in a year.

Frankly, that’s practically unheard of. According to the FDIC, the average checking account earns 0.06% APY — which makes SoFi’s rate of 2.25% more than 37 times higher. Heck, it’s better than the rate on a lot of savings accounts.

Sure, you might be able to find a savings account with a slightly higher yield. But SoFi offers a one-stop checking-and-savings account, with the best of both worlds. You can keep all your moolah in the same place and get all the benefits of checking and savings without having to shuffle your money between accounts.

Checking and savings combined. You might think that’s like oil and water. But maybe it’s more like peanut butter and jelly, and it works. It’s like bacon and eggs. Like macaroni and cheese. Like Batman and Robin!

No Fees for This Account

SoFi (which is short for “Social Finance”) is an online personal finance company that first made its name as an affordable option for refinancing student loans. It has since expanded into mortgages, personal loans — and now banking.

And here’s another big plus for SoFi’s checking-slash-savings account: There are no fees.

There are no account fees, no monthly fees and no overdraft fees. And SoFi will automatically reimburse you for ATM fees at about half a million ATMs that are in the Visa, Plus or NYCE networks.

You can open an account with no minimum balance.

Making the Switch to an Online Account

Even though online banking is growing in popularity, brick-and-mortar banks still dominate the industry.

But keeping your money in an online account might make sense for you if, like a lot of us, you pretty much do your banking on your computer or your phone, anyway.

SoFi Money takes a number of steps to make the transition easy:

  • ATMs: With the automatic reimbursement of ATM fees, you can use just about any ATM anywhere for free.
  • Checks: If you occasionally need a physical check — to pay your landlord or whatever — you can get checks from SoFi for free.
  • Website: SoFi’s website and mobile apps have detailed FAQs, and they make it simple and easy for you to see any information you want to see.

Should You Switch to an Online Bank?

Here at The Penny Hoarder, overdraft fees are one of our pet peeves. About 30% of checking account holders pay overdraft fees each year, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And the average overdraft fee got higher in 16 out of the last 17 years, and is now approaching $35.

SoFi Money won’t charge you overdraft fees. Instead, it cancels transactions when your account balance drops to zero.

Here’s an upside: Your account comes with a handy spending tracker called Relay, which gives you a useful, high-level view of your finances — which should make it easier to avoid a zero balance.

If you don’t already use an online bank, you’ll have to get used to having no physical branches to visit. That means you can’t make cash deposits or get face-to-face customer service from a bank teller. You can, however, talk to someone on the phone.

That could be a change from what you’re used to. But you might find it’s worth it for a free checking account with one of the highest interest rates we’ve ever found.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s trying to go digital.





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Meghan McCain Has a Framed Photo of Shirtless Paul Ryan in Her ‘The View’ Dressing Room


People’s 2019 Sexiest Man Alive is… Paul Ryan? This morning, The New York Times Magazine published an in-depth profile on The View‘s political dominance that features one surprising detail: co-host Meghan McCain has a framed photo of a shirtless Paul Ryan in her dressing room. Even more shocking? McCain’s frequent sparring partner, Joy Behar, gave it to her as a gift. McCain told New York Magazine’s Amanda Fitzsimons that Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, is “her pick for Sexiest Man Alive,” a pronouncement that probably shouldn’t make its way back to the People team. I don’t want to think about that photo shoot.

It’s impossible to discuss The View‘s larger political significance without mentioning Meghan McCain, so naturally, the conservative firebrand is featured prominently in Fitzsimons’ NYTimes Magazine profile. McCain first joined The View in October 2017, making the move from Fox News to ABC at her father’s urging. She told the magazine that her father, the late Sen. John McCain, was friends with moderator Whoopi Goldberg and believed that she should jump at the opportunity to reach a wider audience (at the time, she was hosting a Fox News daytime talk show called Outnumbered). “The Trump years make everything more heated and more intense,” said McCain. “I am not here to do cooking segments.”

But back to semi-naked Paul Ryan. When Fitzsimons first introduces McCain, she gives a run-down of her View dressing room, and it is… something. Fitzsimons describes McCain’s dressing room as “a tiny space decorated with a rustic wooden American flag and a framed picture of a shirtless Paul Ryan (her pick for Sexiest Man Alive), a gift from Behar.” There is a lot to unpack here. Shirtless Paul Ryan? It has to be this photo, right? There’s no way Joy Behar would be able to find shirtless pictures of Ryan outside of a quick Google search… unless that erotic novel she’s working on is actually based in reality. Gross.

Shirtless photo aside, McCain is actually a very vocal Ryan fan. Just yesterday, towards the end of her all-out meltdown, McCain praised the Republican congressman, saying, “I’ve said many times. In my fantasy, Paul Ryan is president.” Let’s hope that’s your only Paul Ryan fantasy.

For more (non-shirtless) details about The View‘s inner workings, check out Amanda Fitzsimons’ New York Times Magazine profile.

Where to stream The View





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U.S. measles outbreak spreads to Maine, 25th state to report case


FILE PHOTO: A vial of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and an information sheet is seen at Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

(Reuters) – Maine became the 25th U.S. state to confirm a case of measles amid the country’s worst outbreak of the disease in a quarter century, as state medical officials on Wednesday reported that child was infected but is now fully recovered.

The afflicted school-aged child from Somerset County, whose measles case was confirmed on Monday, was vaccinated and had no complications while the disease ran its course, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The report comes as measles cases have erupted across the country, with federal health officials reporting on Monday that 880 people have contracted the disease so far this year.

Health experts say the virus has spread among school-age children whose parents declined to give them the vaccine, which confers immunity to the disease. A vocal fringe of U.S. parents cite concerns the vaccine may cause autism, despite scientific studies that have debunked such claims.

Although the virus was eliminated from the United States in 2000, meaning the disease was no longer a constant presence, outbreaks still happen via travelers coming from countries where measles is still common, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said last month that 72% of the people infected with measles were unvaccinated. Of the others, 10% had at one of the two recommended vaccine doses, while the status of the remaining 18% was unclear, the agency said.

“The best protection against measles is vaccination,” Maine State Epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett said in a statement, adding that even when vaccinated individuals become ill, the severity of the disease is reduced and its spread is less likely.

Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Scott Malone, Paul Simao and Susan Thomas



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A close look at Apple's Taptic Engine and how it uses software integration and resonance to make haptic feedback feel better in its devices than the competition (Taylor Dixon/iFixit)




Taylor Dixon / iFixit:

A close look at Apple’s Taptic Engine and how it uses software integration and resonance to make haptic feedback feel better in its devices than the competition  —  In its endless quest to produce an iPhone that has even fewer physical features than the last, Apple made its iconic home button virtual …





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This Guy Shows Us How to Raise a Credit Score Without a Full-Time Job


Deaf since birth, Daryl Hajek earns a living by juggling half a dozen odd jobs.

He’s always got a bunch of different gigs going to make enough money to live. He works, writes and creates artwork out of his home, a mobile home in Tampa that he shares with a roommate.

At one time, Hajek had a terrific credit score — an excellent 750. Potential lenders and landlords love people like that.

Then he moved several times, and during all those transitions, he missed a few credit card payments. He also applied for a credit card and submitted a rental application — two things that required a credit check. All of this caused his credit score to plummet to somewhere around 530 — not so good.

Hajek, 54, wanted to be able to manage his credit better. And he wanted a simple way to do that. His life is complicated enough already.

He didn’t want to pay for a pricy credit repair service. He wanted to keep close track of his credit, but he hated contacting the major credit reporting bureaus.

“They’re a pain!” he wrote to The Penny Hoarder in an email. “Aaarrrggghhhh!!!!!”

Among other things, he was worried that someone might steal his identity and fraudulently rack up a bunch of credit charges in his name.

About a year ago, he signed up for Credit Sesame, a free credit monitoring service. He found it refreshingly easy to use.

“I like the ease-of-use, and navigating the site is a breeze,” he said.

By following its recommendations, Hajek raised his credit score all the way back up to 708. That’s roughly a 175-point jump. It makes a big difference in how lenders view him.

“I just got a better credit card with a larger credit limit, along with a personal loan, too,” he said. The loan paid for relocation expenses and for setting up his art business on Amazon.

Not everyone who uses the service sees such a hike, but plenty do raise their scores: 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.

Juggling His Art and Part-Time Jobs

Hajek communicates with his bead supplier via video chat. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Hajek was born deaf because his mother contracted rubella (a viral infection that’s now largely wiped out thanks to vaccination) during a major epidemic in the U.S. when she was pregnant in 1964.

He communicates in sign language with his deaf friends. “I speak orally with hearing people, as I’ve had specialized speech therapy since I was very young,” he explained.

To earn a living, he’s working various part-time jobs that he can do online. These include:

  • Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, where he can do microtasks, such as data entry and surveys and studies, online.
  • Writing blog posts now and then.
  • Bead art, specializing in things like Christmas trees, snowmen, snowflakes, Christmas bells, candleholders, picture frames, wall art, window coverings and American flags.
  • He has written and self-published two novels — “Blood Blossom,” a thriller about a dysfunctional family, and “The Preternatural,” about a deaf family that experiences paranormal activity in their new home.

All of that is a lot to juggle. That’s a big reason he’s drawn to the simplicity of Credit Sesame.

It breaks down exactly what’s on his credit report in layman’s terms, and how it all affects his score. It also suggests strategies for how he can address anything that’s hurting his score.

Keeping track of my credit score and keeping track of my monthly payments over time (three months, six months and 12 months) has been truly beneficial,” Hajek said.

He also wanted to make sure no errors were affecting his credit score.

One out of five credit reports have an error, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission, and you can ask to have them removed from your report. For instance, if you find an “unpaid” credit card debt that you know you paid, or a bill in collections you know never existed, you can dispute the incorrect information and raise your credit score.

Keeping track of my credit score and keeping track of my monthly payments over time has been truly beneficial.

“I found a couple errors which affected my score and subsequently had them removed,” Hajek said. One error on his credit report involved an unpaid bill by a person who had almost the same name, but not quite. Clearing that up helped raise his score by dozens of points.

‘Everything Is Crystal-Clear’

Hajek’s credit score dipped again when he missed some credit card payments, but he’s on track to raise his score again by monitoring it with Credit Sesame. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Hajek’s credit score recently dipped to 625 after he missed a few payments again. But he knows he can get his score back up — now that he knows how.

He’s planning to stick with Credit Sesame. The service is free, and better credit is helping him improve his standard of living by moving into a deluxe two-bedroom trailer.

Also, his plans for the future require him to have good credit. He doesn’t want to rent forever: “I’d like to buy a nice double-wide mobile home someday.”

He checked out some of Credit Sesame’s competitors, but he didn’t like them as much.

Credit Sesame, he said, has “better ease-of-use and site navigation. Everything is crystal-clear, and I don’t have to hunt-and-peck for this or that, or ask questions, like ‘Where is such-and-such? How do I such-and-such?’ People should not be left hanging.

“It’s just like with reading a book,” this two-time author said. “After the end of the last chapter, you don’t want some readers left hanging and asking questions. That’s bad! Readers should be satisfied and happy!”

Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s working on his credit too.





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The Pentagon finally admits it investigates UFOs



The Pentagon has finally uttered the words it always avoided when discussing the possible existence of UFOs — “unidentified aerial phenomena” — and admits that it still investigates reports of them.

In a statement provided exclusively to The Post, a Department of Defense spokesman said a secret government initiative called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program “did pursue research and investigation into unidentified aerial phenomena.”

And while the DOD says it shut down the AATIP in 2012, spokesman Christopher Sherwood acknowledged that the department still investigates claimed sightings of alien spacecraft.

“The Department of Defense is always concerned about maintaining positive identification of all aircraft in our operating environment, as well as identifying any foreign capability that may be a threat to the homeland,” Sherwood said.

“The department will continue to investigate, through normal procedures, reports of unidentified aircraft encountered by US military aviators in order to ensure defense of the homeland and protection against strategic surprise by our nation’s adversaries.”

Nick Pope, who secretly investigated UFOs for the British government during the 1990s, called the DOD’s comments a “bombshell revelation.”

Pope, a former UK defense official-turned-author, said, “Previous official statements were ambiguous and left the door open to the possibility that AATIP was simply concerned with next-generation aviation threats from aircraft, missiles and drones — as skeptics claimed.

“This new admission makes it clear that they really did study what the public would call ‘UFOs,’ ” he said.

“It also shows the British influence, because UAP was the term we used in the Ministry of Defence to get away from the pop culture baggage that came with the term ‘UFO.’ ”

John Greenewald Jr. — whose “The Black Vault” Web site archives declassified government documents on UFO reports, “Bigfoot” sightings and other subjects — also called the Pentagon’s use of the term “unidentified aerial phenomena” unprecedented in its frankness.

“I’m shocked they said it that way, and the reason is, is they’ve seemingly worked very hard not to say that,” he said.

“So I think that’s a pretty powerful statement because now we have actual evidence — official evidence — that said, ‘Yes, AATIP did deal with UAP cases, phenomena, videos, photos, whatever.”

Greenewald said he hopes that the Pentagon will release more information about the AATIP, either by voluntary disclosure or through requests under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

“But at least we’re one step closer to the truth,” he said.

The existence of the AATIP was revealed in 2017, along with a 33-second DOD video that shows an airborne object being chased by two Navy jets off the coast of San Diego in 2004.

At the time, former Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid took credit for arranging $22 million in annual funding for the AATIP, telling the New York Times that it was “one of the good things I did in my congressional service.”

Reid’s home state of Nevada hosts the top-secret military installation known as “Area 51,” long been rumored to be the storehouse for an alien craft that crashed in Roswell, NM, in 1947.

Reid declined to comment through a spokeswoman.

Additional reporting by Bruce Golding



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