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The week’s best tech deals include Amazon Echo, iPhone X, and DJI Spark discounts

We’re nine days into December and there’s still Black Friday deals that you can find online, including the new Amazon Echo, Google Home and Xbox One S console. Tomorrow, Amazon is expected to launch discounts on several more of its devices — matching most of its Cyber Monday pricing.

As reported on earlier this week, Best Buy is running a three-day Apple sale (ending tonight, Saturday, December 9th) which offers discounts on the new iPhones and iPad Pro. There’s also quite a few headphone, computer, and more deals to check out this weekend.

Amazon devices

We’ll be updating this post tomorrow when more Amazon devices deals are live.

More Smart Home deals

Phone Computer deals

Miscellaneous: Headphones, Gaming Drones

Looking for more gaming deals? Check out Polygon’s gaming deals roundup here.

Good Deals is a weekly roundup of the best deals on the internet, curated by Vox Media’s commerce editor, Chloe Reznikov, in collaboration with The Verge’s editorial team. You can submit deals to deals@theverge.com and find more Good Deals here.

The week’s best tech deals include Amazon Echo, iPhone X, and DJI Spark discounts

We’re nine days into December and there’s still Black Friday deals that you can find online, including the new Amazon Echo, Google Home and Xbox One S console. Tomorrow, Amazon is expected to launch discounts on several more of its devices — matching most of its Cyber Monday pricing.

As reported on earlier this week, Best Buy is running a three-day Apple sale (ending tonight, Saturday, December 9th) which offers discounts on the new iPhones and iPad Pro. There’s also quite a few headphone, computer, and more deals to check out this weekend.

Amazon devices

We’ll be updating this post tomorrow when more Amazon devices deals are live.

More Smart Home deals

Phone Computer deals

Miscellaneous: Headphones, Gaming Drones

Looking for more gaming deals? Check out Polygon’s gaming deals roundup here.

Good Deals is a weekly roundup of the best deals on the internet, curated by Vox Media’s commerce editor, Chloe Reznikov, in collaboration with The Verge’s editorial team. You can submit deals to deals@theverge.com and find more Good Deals here.

Knox County Health Department restaurant scores include a low score of 76

CLOSE

Fast food joints are cleaner than swanky restaurants and even cleaner than your home kitchen! Sean Dowling (@seandowlingtv) has more.
Buzz60

The following restaurants were recently evaluated by the Knox County Health Department. Restaurant scores may change with follow-up visits. For more information on health scores, visit http://apps.health.tn.gov/EHInspections 

Perfect score

Cherry Hill Cafe, 4928 Homberg Drive: 100

J.C. Holdway, 501 Union Ave.: 100

Clubhouse, 132 Hinton: 100

Petro’s, 3001 Knoxville Center Drive: 100

Apple Cake Tea Room, 11312 Station West Blvd.: 100

Mooyah, 7301 Kingston Pike: 100

Arby’s, 6909 Kingston Pike: 100

Starbucks (kiosk), 7600 Kingston Pike: 100

Priority item violation

Turkish Market Deli, 8078 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper date marking and disposition; improper hot holding temperatures: 95

Bida Saigon, 8078 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper cold holding temperatures: 94

Waffle House, 411 N. Cedar Bluff Road. Violation: Food-contact surfaces improperly cleansed and sanitized: 92

Cruze Farm Asbury, 2721 Asbury Road. Violation: Improper cold holding temperatures: 91

Little Joe’s Pizza, 13100 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper date marking and disposition: 90

Bistro by the Tracks, 215 Brookview Centre Way. Violation: Improper cold holding temperatures; improper hot holding temperatures; noncompliant with proper hand washing policies and procedures: 88

Potrillos Taqueria, 11151 Kingston Pike. Violation: Management unaware of employee health policies and procedures; food products improperly separated and protected: 85

Colonel’s Cafe, 4809 Newcomb Ave. Violation: Toxic substances improperly stored and identified; noncompliant with proper handwashing policies and procedures; toxic substances improperly stored and identified: 83

Don Delfis, 120 West End Ave. Violation: Improper date marking and disposition; food improperly separated and protected; food-contact surfaces improperly cleansed and sanitized; noncompliant with proper hygienic practices: 80

Sakura King, 11145 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper cold holding temperatures; noncompliant with time as a public health control policy; person in charge failed to demonstrate proper supervisory knowledge; noncompliant with proper hand washing policies and procedures; food products improperly separated and protected: 77

Sam and Andy’s West, 11110 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper cooling time and temperature; improper hot holding temperatures; improper date marking and disposition; food improperly separated and protected from contamination; noncompliant with no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods; management noncompliant with employee health policy and procedures: 76

Catapult Expands its IT Lifecycle Management Service to Include Windows 10 and Servers

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 29, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Catapult, a digital solutions and services firm, has expanded upon its IT Lifecycle management offering, Launch, to provide a more holistic collection of services by adding Windows 10 Lifecycle Management and Server Lifecycle Management, in addition to its existing User Lifecycle Management services.

f963d_Catapult_Systems_Logo Catapult Expands its IT Lifecycle Management Service to Include Windows 10 and Servers

Using a unique combination of people, processes, tools, and automation, Launch reduces the potential for critical errors, creates an audit trail with its Automation Platform, and improves user experiences while reducing operational costs. By eliminating IT’s most repetitive and tedious tasks, including user provisioning and deprovisioning, server patching, and Windows 10 feature patching, departments can focus on a company’s more strategic initiatives.

Catapult’s User Lifecycle Management service has been proven to decrease employee onboarding time by up to 73 percent. Offering seamless provisioning and deprovisioning of workers, companies can ensure user onboarding time decreases, while reducing the risk of data loss upon employee departure. The two new services add to Catapult’s ability to enable seamless, efficient and secure IT processes for our customers.  

Windows 10 Lifecycle Management Service ensures a perpetually modern user experience for employees by providing insights into the latest Windows 10 capabilities, managing the upgrade and patching process as well as supporting efforts geared at driving feature adoption by users.

Server Lifecycle Management Service provides monthly patching, feature updates, reporting, and ongoing maintenance to reduce the risk of outages and security breaches.

Launch’s ongoing coaching and support model also allows IT teams to leverage Catapult’s deep technical skill on an as-needed basis, while a dedicated customer success manager provides best practices to increase productivity and weekly analysis to ensure an organization’s IT services continuously improve based on the company’s needs.

“Currently, there’s no other solution on the market quite like Launch,” says Cameron Fuller, Launch Solutions Director. “While automation tools are becoming ubiquitous in the digital workplace, Launch provides a service to help companies tackle their most time-consuming, costly activities so their IT organization can focus on more strategic initiatives. We are helping our customers actively improve their IT environment over time.”

To learn more, visit www.catapultsystems.com/services/digital/productivity/launch/.

ABOUT CATAPULT
Catapult is a modern digital solutions and services firm that uses technology to solve complex business challenges, delivering exceptional value to our clients based on their priorities and timeframes. As a 2017 Partner of the Year Finalist in Cloud Productivity and the 2016 Microsoft Partner of the Year (U.S.), Catapult specializes in digital transformation and cloud-based technologies. We work on behalf of our clients to imagine, build, and sustain IT-enabled business solutions that people love to use. Catapult has offices in Austin, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio, Tampa and Washington, D.C.

Press Contact: 
Mindy Russell
Vice President, Marketing
Catapult Systems
512.425.0475

 

View original content with multimedia:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/catapult-expands-its-it-lifecycle-management-service-to-include-windows-10-and-servers-300563390.html

SOURCE Catapult Systems

Catapult Expands its IT Lifecycle Management Service to Include Windows 10 and Servers

Using a unique combination of people, processes, tools, and automation, Launch reduces the potential for critical errors, creates an audit trail with its Automation Platform, and improves user experiences while reducing operational costs. By eliminating IT’s most repetitive and tedious tasks, including user provisioning and deprovisioning, server patching, and Windows 10 feature patching, departments can focus on a company’s more strategic initiatives.

Catapult’s User Lifecycle Management service has been proven to decrease employee onboarding time by up to 73 percent. Offering seamless provisioning and deprovisioning of workers, companies can ensure user onboarding time decreases, while reducing the risk of data loss upon employee departure. The two new services add to Catapult’s ability to enable seamless, efficient and secure IT processes for our customers.  

Windows 10 Lifecycle Management Service ensures a perpetually modern user experience for employees by providing insights into the latest Windows 10 capabilities, managing the upgrade and patching process as well as supporting efforts geared at driving feature adoption by users.

Server Lifecycle Management Service provides monthly patching, feature updates, reporting, and ongoing maintenance to reduce the risk of outages and security breaches.

Launch’s ongoing coaching and support model also allows IT teams to leverage Catapult’s deep technical skill on an as-needed basis, while a dedicated customer success manager provides best practices to increase productivity and weekly analysis to ensure an organization’s IT services continuously improve based on the company’s needs.

“Currently, there’s no other solution on the market quite like Launch,” says Cameron Fuller, Launch Solutions Director. “While automation tools are becoming ubiquitous in the digital workplace, Launch provides a service to help companies tackle their most time-consuming, costly activities so their IT organization can focus on more strategic initiatives. We are helping our customers actively improve their IT environment over time.”

To learn more, visit www.catapultsystems.com/services/digital/productivity/launch/.

ABOUT CATAPULT
Catapult is a modern digital solutions and services firm that uses technology to solve complex business challenges, delivering exceptional value to our clients based on their priorities and timeframes. As a 2017 Partner of the Year Finalist in Cloud Productivity and the 2016 Microsoft Partner of the Year (U.S.), Catapult specializes in digital transformation and cloud-based technologies. We work on behalf of our clients to imagine, build, and sustain IT-enabled business solutions that people love to use. Catapult has offices in Austin, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio, Tampa and Washington, D.C.

Press Contact: 
Mindy Russell
Vice President, Marketing
Catapult Systems
512.425.0475

 

View original content with multimedia:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/catapult-expands-its-it-lifecycle-management-service-to-include-windows-10-and-servers-300563390.html

SOURCE Catapult Systems

Related Links

http://www.catapultsystems.com

Apple Cyber Monday deals include 2017 MacBook Pros and the iPhone 8

The post-Thanksgiving deals period is winding down, with the last hurrah being Cyber Monday. If you were too busy reuniting with family and friends over the long weekend to do any bargain hunting online or in stores, today is a great opportunity to catch some good savings. If you’re hoping to save big on Apple gadgets, there are some Cyber Monday deals available — just not from the company itself. Thankfully, other online retailers carrying Apple goods have got you covered.

Apple deals today include substantial discounts on mid-2017 MacBook Pros and even a couple of deals on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Note that some sites are offering site-wide discounts that include Apple products as well, like Target’s site-wide 15 percent off sale.

Laptops

iMacs

iPads

Apple Watch

iPhones

AirPods

Accessories

Microsoft’s Black Friday 2017 deals include savings on two Android flagship phones

76f44_Microsoft-Black-Friday-2017-00 Microsoft's Black Friday 2017 deals include savings on two Android flagship phones

If you want to know what Microsoft is planning for Black
Friday 2017
, you’ve come to the right place. While most of the company’s Black
Friday deals don’t have anything to do with phones, there are some upcoming
offers that will certainly be of interest to our readers. In particular, starting
November 23, Microsoft will allow customers to buy Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and
Galaxy S8+ (unlocked) at $150 off.

 

Right now, Microsoft is selling the unlocked Galaxy S8 for $724.99,
while the unlocked Galaxy S8+ is offered for $824.99. At $150 off, the two
flagship handsets will cost $574.99 and $674.99, respectively.

 

Other interesting Microsoft Black Friday 2017 deals (available starting November 23):

 

  • $329 off the Surface Pro tablet (Intel Core i5 / 256GB SSD) with
    black Type Cover
  • $100 off the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker (with
    Cortana)
  • $50 off the Fitbit Charge 2 fitness band
  • Alcatel Idol 4S Windows Phone – $169 instead of $199
  • Happy Plugs Earbud Plus (with 3.5mm jack and built-in
    microphone for calls) – $19.99 instead of $29.99

When buying from Microsoft Store, you’re getting free
shipping on all orders in the US,
and free returns (within 30 days). You can check out all of Microsoft’s Black
Friday 2017 deals by visiting the company’s official website via the source
link below.

 

source: Microsoft 

OnePlus phones include an easily exploitable backdoor (Update 2: Qualcomm responds)

1024e_OnePlus-5-vs-OnePlus-3T-2-840x561 OnePlus phones include an easily exploitable backdoor (Update 2: Qualcomm responds)

Update #2 (11/15) 14:09 EST: Qualcomm has reached out to Android Authority to clarify some details on the EngineerMode app. A Qualcomm spokesperson says:

After an in-depth investigation, we have determined that the EngineerMode app in question was not authored by Qualcomm. Although remnants of some Qualcomm source code is evident, we believe that others built upon a past, similarly named Qualcomm testing app that was limited to displaying device information. EngineerMode no longer resembles the original code we provided.


Update (11/14) 17:03 EST: OnePlus has responded to earlier claims about Qualcomm’s EngineerMode app including an easily exploitable backdoor for hackers. In a post on the OnePlus forums, OxygenOS team member OmegaHsu tried to shed some light on the app in question and what exactly the company plans to do about it.

In the statement, OnePlus is claiming what we already knew— that the EngineerMode app allows anyone to access root privileges without much effort. However, USB debugging (which is off by default) needs to be turned on for root access to be achieved, which means people will have a harder time hacking into your phone if they don’t have physical access to it. Additionally, the app does not give third-party applications full root privileges.

Still, this is a pretty big security concern, which is why the company plans to remove the adb root function from the app in an upcoming OTA.

The full statement can be found below:

Yesterday, we received a lot of questions regarding an apk found in several devices, including our own, named EngineerMode, and we would like to explain what it is. EngineerMode is a diagnostic tool mainly used for factory production line functionality testing and after sales support.

We’ve seen several statements by community developers that are worried because this apk grants root privileges. While, it can enable adb root which provides privileges for adb commands, it will not let 3rd-party apps access full root privileges. Additionally, adb root is only accessible if USB debugging, which is off by default, is turned on, and any sort of root access would still require physical access to your device.

While we don’t see this as a major security issue, we understand that users may still have concerns and therefore we will remove the adb root function from EngineerMode in an upcoming OTA.

We’ll be sure to let you know when OnePlus issues this OTA.


Original story (11/14) 07:48 EST: A developer has found a way to gain root access to a OnePlus device by exploiting an app designed for factory testing. The developer, who uses the name Elliot Alderson on Twitter (after the Mr Robot TV show lead), posted a series tweets yesterday outlining the steps taken to achieve the privileges.

The app in question is a system app that was apparently made by Qualcomm and customized by OnePlus; it’s called EngineerMode and arrives pre-installed on OnePlus devices like the OnePlus 5, 3T and 3 (you can find it yourself searching Settings Apps Menu Show system apps, and then search “EngineerMode” in the app list). It’s used to run system tests for things like GPS, vibration, screen brightness, and also root checking.

EngineerMode has been known about for a while, but the risks it presents weren’t known until after Alderson did some digging. The developer discovered a password-protected backdoor within the app’s code, which he was able to work around to gain root access — a big enough problem to begin with for OnePlus in terms of security. But that was before some smart folks chimed in having discovered the actual password (it’s Angela, which, coincidentally, is also likely a Mr Robot reference).

This means root access can be achieved using just one command line — giving hackers the potential to cause harm without much work. It’s not something that could be achieved remotely, however, you would need the physical OnePlus device connected to a computer running the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) to exploit the vulnerability.

This nonetheless raises questions over why is the device shipping with this app (presumably it has just been overlooked) and whether it’s available on other Qualcomm devices.

Alderson said that he would publish an app soon to allow users to simply gain root access to their devices. Meanwhile, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has already announced that OnePlus is investigating the issue.

We’ve also we’ve reached out to OnePlus and will update this story when we receive comment.

OnePlus phones include an easily exploitable backdoor (Update: OnePlus responds)

95851_OnePlus-5-vs-OnePlus-3T-2-840x561 OnePlus phones include an easily exploitable backdoor (Update: OnePlus responds)

Update (11/14) 17:03 EST: OnePlus has responded to earlier claims about Qualcomm’s EngineerMode app including an easily exploitable backdoor for hackers. In a post on the OnePlus forums, OxygenOS team member OmegaHsu tried to shed some light on the app in question and what exactly the company plans to do about it.

In the statement, OnePlus is claiming what we already knew— that the EngineerMode app allows anyone to access root privileges without much effort. However, USB debugging (which is off by default) needs to be turned on for root access to be achieved, which means people will have a harder time hacking into your phone if they don’t have physical access to it. Additionally, the app does not give third-party applications full root privileges.

Still, this is a pretty big security concern, which is why the company plans to remove the adb root function from the app in an upcoming OTA.

The full statement can be found below:

Yesterday, we received a lot of questions regarding an apk found in several devices, including our own, named EngineerMode, and we would like to explain what it is. EngineerMode is a diagnostic tool mainly used for factory production line functionality testing and after sales support.

We’ve seen several statements by community developers that are worried because this apk grants root privileges. While, it can enable adb root which provides privileges for adb commands, it will not let 3rd-party apps access full root privileges. Additionally, adb root is only accessible if USB debugging, which is off by default, is turned on, and any sort of root access would still require physical access to your device.

While we don’t see this as a major security issue, we understand that users may still have concerns and therefore we will remove the adb root function from EngineerMode in an upcoming OTA.

We’ll be sure to let you know when OnePlus issues this OTA.

Original story (11/14) 07:48 EST: A developer has found a way to gain root access to a OnePlus device by exploiting an app designed for factory testing. The developer, who uses the name Elliot Alderson on Twitter (after the Mr Robot TV show lead), posted a series tweets yesterday outlining the steps taken to achieve the privileges.

The app in question is a system app that was apparently made by Qualcomm and customized by OnePlus; it’s called EngineerMode and arrives pre-installed on OnePlus devices like the OnePlus 5, 3T and 3 (you can find it yourself searching Settings Apps Menu Show system apps, and then search “EngineerMode” in the app list). It’s used to run system tests for things like GPS, vibration, screen brightness, and also root checking.

EngineerMode has been known about for a while, but the risks it presents weren’t known until after Alderson did some digging. The developer discovered a password-protected backdoor within the app’s code, which he was able to work around to gain root access — a big enough problem to begin with for OnePlus in terms of security. But that was before some smart folks chimed in having discovered the actual password (it’s Angela, which, coincidentally, is also likely a Mr Robot reference).

This means root access can be achieved using just one command line — giving hackers the potential to cause harm without much work. It’s not something that could be achieved remotely, however, you would need the physical OnePlus device connected to a computer running the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) to exploit the vulnerability.

This nonetheless raises questions over why is the device shipping with this app (presumably it has just been overlooked) and whether it’s available on other Qualcomm devices.

Alderson said that he would publish an app soon to allow users to simply gain root access to their devices. Meanwhile, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has already announced that OnePlus is investigating the issue.

We’ve also we’ve reached out to OnePlus and will update this story when we receive comment.

OnePlus stands by Dash Charge, will not include wireless charging in the OnePlus 5T

993ff_Wireless-charging-840x473 OnePlus stands by Dash Charge, will not include wireless charging in the OnePlus 5T

Over the years, wireless charging, whether it be Qi or PMA, has become a more popular standard that companies like Samsung, LG, and even Apple has adopted for its flagship phones. However, it is a feature that OnePlus confirmed will not make its way to its next smartphone, the OnePlus 5T, with the company instead standing by its Dash Charge technology.

In a forum post, OnePlus said it considered introducing wireless charging to its smartphones, but ultimately decided against it. The first reason the company gave comes down to numbers, with its Dash Charge technology able to produce 20 watts of power. By comparison, some wireless charging pads produce a theoretical power output of 15 watts, with the number divided once you wirelessly charge more than one device.

OnePlus 5T price will be the same as the OnePlus 5 — report

The second reason OnePlus gave for excluding wireless charging comes down to convenience. With Dash Charge, all you need is the appropriate cable and wall adapter and you’re good to go. Wireless charging creates constraints, argued OnePlus, since you need to account for all the pads, cases, tables, and lamps that support the feature. In other words, the idea of just setting your phone down to charge clashes with the reality that it’s not that simple.

To OnePlus’ credit, the company has not ruled out introducing wireless charging “when the time is right,” but until then, it plans to stick by its Dash Charge technology. It’s an interesting decision for a company that continues to trot out its “Never Settle” slogan, but there’s some division as to whether wireless charging is a feature people actually care about, so it really depends on what you want out of a smartphone.

How do you feel about the OnePlus 5T not including wireless charging? Will that prevent you from purchasing the phone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and remember that we will bring you the latest once the OnePlus 5T’s November 16 launch event rolls around.

Internet cafe opens downtown, services include selling access to online gambling games

84c7b_button1-share Internet cafe opens downtown, services include selling access to online gambling games

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WATERTOWN — An internet cafe that sells access to online gambling games opened Wednesday at the former Hookah Den on Arsenal Street.

“There aren’t a lot of businesses in town,” said owner Lakeview Xiong. “I want to put something in Watertown so Watertown has something to do.”

NY Cyber Arcade, 312 Arsenal St., allows customers to sign up for free accounts that provide access to the cafe’s 36 computers and internet so they can surf the Web, use social media and YouTube, do their homework and more, said one of Mr. Xiong’s managers, Brian N. Ryan. Customers can also pay to play online games of chance including poker, bingo, blackjack,Texas Hold ’em and others by purchasing points at the front desk.

The internet cafe is open only to customers who are 21 or older, prohibits smoking and alcohol and sells coffee and snacks.

“It’s about the games we have,” Mr. Ryan said, adding that customers can take breaks between sessions through other online activities. “Otherwise, you have to be here for the games.”

Patrons can purchase any number of points at the cafe to access the games, with each game having different point costs. One hundred points cost $1.

The cafe, however, doesn’t own the games even though players can access them and collect their winnings at the cafe. Mr. Ryan said the online games are owned by other companies and can be played anywhere, including at home or on other devices.

“It’s like any other online games,” Mr. Ryan said.

While gambling is heavily regulated under state law, both Mr. Xiong and Mr. Ryan claim NY Cyber Arcade is a legal venture.

According to state penal law, the use of electronic machines or devices to conduct or promote a sweepstakes, defined as any game or promotion that is based on chance and provides people the eligibility to receive any type of prize, by using an entertaining display is considered operating an unlawful electronic sweepstakes.

Both Mr. Xiong and Mr. Ryan said the games are conducted electronically, with Mr. Ryan emphasizing that the games can be played online anywhere. Mr. Ryan also said the games are only one facet of the entire operation.

“This is an internet cafe,” Mr. Ryan said. “(Customers can) listen to music, play games, log into Twitter — do your thing.”

The state attorney general’s office refused to comment for the record.

Internet access at NY Cyber Arcade is free at least until the end of the year, Mr. Ryan said, adding that they haven’t decided whether they will charge for internet access in the future.

“(It’s) something new,” Mr. Xiong said. “I’m glad it’s up. It takes a lot of work.”

Rural broadband initiatives include internet speed test

BLUEFIELD — Both statewide and regional initiatives are underway to bring high-speed broadband services to underserved areas in West Virginia, and residents can help.

On the state level, the Broadband Enhancement Council, formed in 2016, is asking residents to test their internet speed.

According to the council’s website, the test will generate a statewide broadband coverage map to identify the presence and levels of broadband service around the state.

Called the Speed Test Portal, residents can visit the website, at broadband.wv.gov, and click on the red icon that says “Take the speed test.” The test accurately measures their internet speed and records it.

“Folks in West Virginia can go to the website and put in their information, their address, take a speed test that’s provided by a third party that has nothing to do with the state of West Virginia and see what kind of speed they’re receiving as a user,” said Bob Hinton, chairman of the council.

State residents can then share their internet speed information on the portal.

“They can post those test results on our portal and we can then aggregate that data and cross check that data with the FCC data to get a really good idea of where broadband service is and what level of service is actually getting to the end customer,” Hinton said.

Mercer County Commissioner Bill Archer said having effective broadband access is a must now.

“To have greater broadband access I think is a great thing,” he said. “We are looking at increasing our internet speed in our system at the courthouse itself.”

Archer said funding is coming in from grants to expand and improve the service.

The commission recently approved a “memorandum of understanding” to be a participant in a Region One Planning and Development Council (PCD) plan to study broadband service in Southern West Virginia.

“We are all for it,” he said of Region One’s project. “It is a positive step.”

Jason Roberts, executive director of Region One, said $125,000 is being sought from Housing and Urban Development Community Block Grant (CDBG) funding that will be made available through the West Virginia Development Office.

“The CDBG application was submitted last week,” he said. “If awarded, the $125,000 will be used as a match to apply for another $125,000 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.”

Roberts said the funding will be used to hire a broadband engineering firm to perform a detailed study of the six-county region (McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Raleigh, Summers and Wyoming).

“The consultant will identify existing providers and technologies, as well as to map those locations that are unserved or underserved,” he said. “They will then engineer solutions for the provision of broadband based upon current technologies as well as anticipated growth patterns. Once the planning is complete, implementation funding will be sought from a variety of sources.”

Roberts said Region One is working “collectively” with the Region Four PDC (Fayette, Greenbrier, Nicholas, Pocahontas and Webster counties) to “have a true regional plan that will provide the service necessary for regional economic development.”

Another tool related to the state’s enhancement effort is this year’s House Bill 3093, the Broadband Enhancement Expansion Policies, which was signed by Gov. Jim Justis and became effective last month.

Co-sponsored by Del. John Shott (R-Mercer County), the bill authorizes the creation of “cooperative associations” in remote areas.

The cooperatives would pool resources and be used as a “mechanism for folks that are not being served to work together” to gain access, Shott said, adding that at least 20 users, either businesses or individuals, would be needed to create a cooperative.

Rural areas have in the past been left out of obtaining high speed internet service from carriers for basically economic reasons.

“Part of the problem is the big carriers like Frontier say it’s not worth their investment,” he said, referring to extending the service into more remote areas by running the needed fiber optic cables. “They just can’t recoup their costs.”

Cooperatives would be eligible for federal grants, he said, which help create the “last mile infrastructure” of providing broadband access to virtually everyone.

That includes helping to pay for “microtrenching,” burying the fiber optic cables that are necessary to provide the service from carriers.

“Then Frontier (or another provider) can basically connect them (members of the cooperative) to the fiber optic network they have in a way that can be cost-effective,” he said.

Shott said it also provides a way for cooperatives to negotiate reasonable prices with carriers.

“The places (that are remote) where we do have the service, it’s extremely expensive, more so than in other areas,” he said.

State Sen. Chandler Swope supported the bill, saying, ““We have a tremendous need for broadband and I think the cooperative approach is one of the better ways to solve that. I’m totally in favor of it.”

That need is also echoed by Jim Spencer, economic development director for the City of Bluefield.

“Without access to broadband, our businesses cannot compete on a global scale,” he said recently, explaining that products are now marketed all around the country and the world.

“Broadband access is crucial as an economic development tool,” he added.

That “crucial” component is not lost at the federal level either.

U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) issued a joint statement earlier this week addressing a budget shortfall for the High-Cost Universal Service Fund (USF). That shortfall, they say, is limiting access to reliable and affordable broadband in rural communities.

The USF provides subsidies for telecommunication services in rural areas.

“A lack of resources to meet our (shared national broadband) goals is undermining investment and consumer access to affordable broadband across much of rural America,” the statement said. “For this reason, we write to encourage the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to take the much-needed step of addressing the High-Cost Universal Service Fund (USF) budget shortfall.”  

The senators said providers serving rural areas already have difficulty dealing with “an arbitrary budget cap” on USF support.

“We urge the FCC to take action as quickly as possible to ensure the High-Cost USF program provides sufficient and predictable support to help deliver affordable, high-quality broadband to rural consumers,” the statement said.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

IHS behavioral health grants include help for South Dakota programs

Domestic Violence Prevention Programs expand outreach and increase awareness of domestic and sexual violence, provide victim advocacy, intervention, case coordination, policy development, community response teams, community and school education programs, and forensic health care services.

Opinion: Apple needs to include a fast charging power adapter with the iPhone

It’s well known that Apple puts a lot of energy and focus into creating an amazing user experience with its products and services, and this can be seen in many ways across Apple’s ecosystem of hardware and software. However, one area where Apple has continued to offer a sub par experience is the charging solution it includes with its iPhones.


7f953_airpods-top-features Opinion: Apple needs to include a fast charging power adapter with the iPhone

AirPods

Apple’s ‘best not first’ philosophy often serves the company well, although it can often make Apple fans antsy for new features. But not only is Apple late to the game with now standard features like fast charging, but in my opinion, it is also giving its customers a worse experience compared to companies like Samsung and Google.

Fast charging has been available on Android phones for years. So how does the ‘new’ fast charging feature on the latest iPhones compare with other phones? Not well, in a few aspects.

First, most Android phones include the fast charging brick with the device. Apple charges $49 for its 29W power adapter and another $26 for the USB-C to Lightning cable. You can opt for a third-party power brick to save some money, like Anker’s 30W USB-C power adapter for $22 or Aukey’s 29W USB-C charger for $18. But even then, you’re still forking out over $40 for fast charging (including the cable).

While our own charging tests by Jeff confirm that using a 29W or higher power adapter with an iPhone does provide the 50% (or more) battery boost in 30 minutes claimed by Apple, Google’s new Pixel 2 battery can gain 7 hours worth of phone use in just 15 minutes with the included 18W power adapter (let alone support for even faster charging with a 27W brick).

What feels even worse (or better?!) is that we discovered that Apple’s 12W bricks (that cost the same $19 as a 5W brick) will charge an iPhone 8 battery 46% in 30 minutes compared to 56% with the 29W Apple brick (the included 5W adapter does just 27% in the same time).

Is that slight difference worth spending almost $70 for Apple’s official fast charging setup? It’s definitely not to me.

Hands-on: Best fast charger options for iPhone 8 and iPhone X [Video]

Solutions

When you’re spending $700-$1149 for a new smartphone, it feels really out of place to get a 5W, slow charging power brick (and also like you’re being nickel-and-dimed).

Ideally, I think Apple should include a 29W USB-C power adapter with its latest iPhones. In this scenario, Apple could include a USB-C to Lightning cable with a female USB-C to male USB-A adapter to be able to use the cable with other power bricks as well.

Another more cost efficient option for Apple to improve the charging experience would be to at least include the 12W power adapter with the iPhone. This would provide almost the same fast charging as with a USB-C adapter, but at less cost to Apple.

Switching out all of the 5W power bricks for 12W ones could possibly have some manufacturing costs (even though Apple charges the same $19 to consumers) and might not be as environmentally friendly. However, couldn’t Apple also figure out a way to pack a 12W brick in the 5W housing? Aukey was able to make a 12W dual-USB charger in a compact size, I’m sure Apple could do the same.

How about you? Does it bother you that Apple still includes a 5W power adapter with its premium smartphones? Or does it not bother you at all? Sound off down in the comments!


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The Health 202: Puerto Rico’s problems include a Medicaid shortfall

THE PROGNOSIS

a4cb7_imrs The Health 202: Puerto Rico's problems include a Medicaid shortfall

President Trump visits a distribution center while surveying hurricane damage in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Tuesday. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Puerto Rico, despite President Trump’s not-so-bleak assessment during his visit yesterday, was wrecked by Hurricane Maria. But there could be a silver lining for the U.S. territory as it seeks to emerge from the wreckage: a renewed focus from Congress on the health-care funding cliff it faces later this year.

Maria inflicted widespread devastation on Puerto Rico, resulting in billions of dollars of damage that will take years to clean up. The territory was struggling with a massive government debt crisis and a languishing economy even before it was hit by the 10th-most-intense Atlantic hurricane on record.

When Trump visited the island Tuesday, nearly two weeks after the storm, 93 percent of Puerto Ricans remained without power. More than 88 percent of the territory’s cellphone towers are out of service. A large part of the island is without clean drinking water. 

But there are a couple of numbers with which many lawmakers might not be familiar: Nearly half of all Puerto Ricans participate in Medicaid, the federal health-care program for low-income Americans — and the island doesn’t receive the same amount of money as U.S. states to help keep it flush. Puerto Rico got some additional funding under the Affordable Care Act, but that is expected to run out by the end of this year or the start of 2018. If it’s not replaced, the island could be forced to kick half a million people off Medicaid, officials there have said.

The White House will soon propose a $30 billion aid package, including $12.77 billion in disaster relief for Hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma (the latter two hit Texas and Florida).

“Building political support for such a plan may be tricky, given that both territories have only nonvoting House members — a Democrat from the Virgin Islands and a Republican from Puerto Rico. And yet, Puerto Rico especially has a network of lawmakers in both parties who either were born on the island, own property there, or represent districts or states with large Puerto Rican voting blocs,” my colleagues Damian Paletta, Mike DeBonis and Ed O’Keefe report.

Yesterday, No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said he expects Congress to take up a hurricane recovery bill this month.

a4cb7_imrs The Health 202: Puerto Rico's problems include a Medicaid shortfall

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, accompanied by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.). REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

“I expect there will be one combination package that will involve Harvey, Irma and Maria,” Cornyn told reporters.

But some lawmakers are also pushing to assist Puerto Rico with its Medicaid cliff by sending more health-care dollars its way for the next two years. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, wants to try tacking some Medicaid funding onto a must-pass bill funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Today Walden’s panel will mark up legislation to fund for five years the the federal program that covers about 9 million low-income kids, known as CHIP. Republicans on the panel want to include $1 billion more for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program over a two-year span, a sum that would ramp up its future Medicaid funding by nearly 50 percent.

Another panel with a big say over health care, the Senate Finance Committee, also meets today to consider a similar measure to fund CHIP, but it doesn’t propose funding for Puerto Rico.

Yet the island’s health-care funding shortage has serious consequences given the number of Medicaid enrollees and its financial instability. 

Under a long-standing policy, the territory gets far fewer federal dollars for the program compared with U.S. states. The federal government covers 57 percent of state Medicaid programs, on average. Were Puerto Rico treated the same way, it would get enough federal funding to cover 83 percent of costs, according to an estimate by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Instead, the feds pay Puerto Rico only 15 to 20 percent because of a cap on total Medicaid funding for U.S. territories, whose residents don’t pay federal income taxes.

“The question now is … is it appropriate to be treating U.S. citizens in the territories in a different way than U.S. citizens are treated in the states?” Krista Perreira, a health economist at the University of North Carolina, told me.

The Affordable Care Act provides Puerto Rico with a significant infusion of money — about $1.2 billion a year. But officials say those funds will run out at the end of this year or the beginning of 2018, likely forcing big rollbacks in the program if replacement funds aren’t found.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit residents affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Trump has continued to play down the damage in Puerto Rico while singing the praises of his administration’s response to it. Although the administration did earn kudos for its response efforts in Texas and Florida, critics have slammed it for a slower response to Puerto Rico’s crisis.

In his visit there yesterday, the president told Puerto Rico officials they should feel “very proud” they haven’t lost thousands of lives in “a catastrophe like Katrina” (a reference to the 2005 storm that blasted New Orleans), while adding that Puerto Rico’s needs have thrown the federal budget “a little out of whack.”

“Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous — hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here, with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody’s ever seen anything like this,” Trump said, before turning to a local official to ask how many people had died.

“What is your death count as of this moment?” Trump asked. “Seventeen? 16 people certified, 16 people versus in the thousands.”

Hear Trump’s comments:

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) jumped on Trump’s remarks.

“Mr. President, enough,” Schumer told reporters yesterday. “Stop blaming Puerto Rico for the storm that devastated their shores, and roll up your sleeves and get the recovery on track. That’s your job as president.”

Trump kept at it in a tweet this morning:

Several other Democrats took the chance to advocate for lifting Puerto Rico’s Medicaid funding cap — and noted that it’s an illustration of how block-granting the program means states couldn’t get extra Medicaid funding just when they most need it.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.): 

Obama’s former administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:

Recently ousted CEO of Molina Healthcare, J. Mario Molina:

— LAS VEGAS SHOOTING UPDATE: Investigators are still trying to determine a motive behind the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history. But on Tuesday, new details emerged about the meticulous plan that 64-year-old Stephen Paddock created before killing at least 59 people at a country music festival in Las Vegas.

Paddock fired for 9 to 11 minutes from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. He used video cameras around the room to keep an eye out for police. Authorities with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Tuesday that 12 of the guns recovered from his room had “bump fire” stocks, which enable semi-automatic weapons to fire almost as fast as fully automatic weapons. Prior to the shooting, Paddock wired $100,000 to someone in the Philippines. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said the shooting was “preplanned, extensively, and I’m pretty sure that he evaluated everything that he did in his actions, which is troublesome.”

The Post’s Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barett and Mark Berman note that while some public officials have suggested that Paddock was likely troubled, there were no immediate indications that he suffered from a mental illness or that he was not aware of his actions. The shooter’s girlfriend Marilou Danley arrived in the United States from the Philippines late Tuesday and was met at the airport by FBI agents. Investigators consider her a “person of interest” and hope, at the very least, she can shed light on Paddock’s life.

As of Tuesday afternoon, authorities were able to identify all but three of the victims of the shooting. And here’s an updated look at what we know about the lives lost in Las Vegas.

a4cb7_imrs The Health 202: Puerto Rico's problems include a Medicaid shortfall

Nurse Lydia Fulton prepares to administer the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine as well as a vaccine used to help prevent the diseases of diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and polio at Children’s Primary Care Clinic in Minneapolis in April, after a measles outbreak in the community. (Photo by Courtney Perry/For the Washington Post)

AHH: People who don’t get vaccinated are the most likely reason for the steady increase in the rate of measles and major outbreaks in the United States, a new study in JAMA finds.

The findings “add to the body of evidence linking failure to vaccinate with the spread of the highly infectious and potentially fatal disease,” The Post’s Lena Sun reports. “Once common in the United States, measles was eliminated nationally in 2000 but has made a return in recent years largely because of people who reject vaccinating their children…Most of those cases occur when the disease is brought into the country by unvaccinated people who get infected in other countries, where measles may remain endemic.”

Researchers from the CDC analyzed 1,789 measles cases from January 2001 through December 2015. They found that nearly 70 percent, or 1,243 individuals, were unvaccinated. Babies and toddlers had the least protection. Of 163 infants ages 6 to 11 months who became sick, only two had been vaccinated. Among 106 toddlers ages 12 to 15 months, 95 were unvaccinated.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) has been undergoing a federal corruption trial. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

OOF: More testimony emerged yesterday about how Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) allegedly fought for the business and personal interests of his friend and supporter, Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen. Appearing at his ongoing corruption trial in New York, former HHS Secetary Kathleen Sebelius said Menendez asked her for help in changing a Medicare billing policy that cost Melgen millions of dollars.

Sebelius recounted the events leading up to an August 2012 meeting with Menendez and then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) at Reid’s office, saying she didn’t know exactly what he wanted. After meeting for about 30 minutes, Sebelius declined to take action, explaining that she thought the policy was consistent and clear and in keeping with safety protocols.

“Menendez’s intervention in the Medicare issue is a key prong in the government’s case,” The Post’s Alan Maimon writes. “The senator is accused of fighting for Melgen’s business and personal interests in exchange for political donations, trips on Melgen’s private plane and other gifts. Sebelius testified that she turned down an earlier request from Menendez to meet about the issue and didn’t agree to talk to him until Melgen’s appeal of the case was no longer before her agency.”

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

OUCH: We already knew that Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, who touts himself as a conservative Republican, had engaged in an extramarital affair. But it gets worse. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that text messages sent to Murphy indicate he told his mistress to get an abortion when they had a pregnancy scare.

“That’s especially problematic because Murphy is supposed to be an antiabortion congressman,” The Post’s Aaron Blake writes. “He’s got nearly a flawless voting record, as far as groups like the Family Research Council are concerned. And in fact, it was his promotion of that position that led to the fateful exchange with his mistress, Shannon Edwards.”

In a January text to Murphy, Edwards took him to task for an antiabortion statement posted on Facebook from his office’s public account. “And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options,” she wrote.

A text from Murphy’s cellphone number the same day says: “I get what you say about my March for life messages. I’ve never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don’t write any more. I will.”

a4cb7_imrs The Health 202: Puerto Rico's problems include a Medicaid shortfall

Natalie Vanderstan, 43, was shot in the stomach during the mass shooting Sunday’s night and now is recovering at University Medical Center. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

–As investigators fill in the details of Paddock’s Sunday rampage, doctors, nurses and paramedics are recounting injuries they say are rarely seen in this country. And even the hardiest medical professionals acknowledged being rattled, The Post’s Tim Craig, Felicia Mello and Lena H. Sun report.

“With Paddock perched on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and firing military-style rifles onto the crowd of concertgoers below, the scale and degree of physical damage were extreme,” they write. “So many patients poured into the city’s hospitals that pediatric surgeons were operating on adults and obstetricians were attending to trauma patients.”

–Many of the most critically wounded patients arrived at the 541-bed University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, the state’s only Level One trauma center. Over about four hours, it received 104 patients. More than 80 percent were gunshot victims. Douglas Fraser, the hospital’s chief of trauma surgery, struggled with other doctors there to deal with bullet wounds in torsos and limbs that had shredded human flesh into “unusual patterns,” caused “extreme fractures” and bounced through bodies with horrific force.

“These were quite large wounds that we saw,” he said Tuesday. “The fractured shrapnel created a different pattern and really injured bone and soft tissue very readily. This was not a normal pattern of injuries.” 

–Long after the dead have been buried and the wounded have returned home, psychological distress from the shooting will linger. The question is whether Las Vegas specifically, and Nevada generally, will be able to meet the need in the weeks, months and even years to come, The Post’s Amy Ellis Nutt writes.

Consider this: Nevada ranks 51st among all states and the District of Columbia in mental-health resources and access to treatment; 90 percent of severely depressed youths in the state received no treatment or inadequate treatment last year; 16 of Nevada’s 17 counties were listed by the federal government as mental-health-professional-shortage areas.

Watch doctors and nurses describe what they saw after the shooting: 

a4cb7_imrs The Health 202: Puerto Rico's problems include a Medicaid shortfall

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz) sponsored the 20-week abortion ban the House passed yesterday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

–Yesterday the GOP-led House approved a bill banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, advancing a key Republican priority for the third time in the past four years — but now with a supportive Republican in the White House. Known as the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” it provides for abortions after 20 weeks gestation only when they are necessary to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.

It’s not expected to emerge from the Senate, where most Democrats and a handful of moderate Republicans can block the measure. But abortion opponents still cheered on the vote, which they view as incremental progress toward eventually making such a ban law.

“It’s past time for Congress to pass a nationwide law protecting unborn children from the unspeakable cruelty of late-term abortion,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the antiabortion Susan B. Anthony List, who’d extracted a written promise from Trump during the campaign to sign such a law should he get the opportunity.

Some more reads from The Post and beyond:

Today

  • The SP Global Ratings’ Health Care Conference.

  • The Brookings Institution holds an event on 21st century medicine.

Coming Up

  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee holds a hearing on the federal response to the opioid crisis on Thursday.

President Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico, in two minutes:

Trump says Puerto Rican leaders are ’totally unable’ to handle disaster:

The United States will expel 15 Cuban diplomats amid concerns over mystery illnesses:

Las Vegas police say gunman fired for 9 to 11 minutes:

Food truck cooks free meals for hospital staff in Las Vegas:

Watch Stephen Colbert’s take on Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico: 

Jimmy Kimmel says it’s not too soon to talk about gun violence: 




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