Apple to Debut Revamped Apple Store App With ‘For You’ Recommendations

applestorenewiconApple will soon introduce a redesigned version of its dedicated Apple Store app, reports Bloomberg. The new version of the app, which is used to make online purchases of Apple products, will feature custom recommendations for new products to buy based on purchase history.

Citing sources with knowledge of Apple’s plans, Bloomberg‘s report says Apple is likely to include a dedicated “For You” tab in the Apple Store app, mirroring the “For You” sections of the Apple Music and Apple News apps. This tab will offer up purchase suggestions “based on prior orders.”

The current Apple Store app, while outfitted with general product recommendations displayed in the “Featured” tab, does not give customers personalized suggestions on what to purchase. It is not known why Apple is making the shift, but it’s likely being done in an effort to introduce customers to new products they would not otherwise discover.

The shift toward using recommendations would mark a change for Apple, where privacy concerns have traditionally usurped efforts to use customer-behavior data to garner more revenue. While its music-streaming and news apps also recommend tracks and stories, they primarily do so based on interests that customers have chosen to declare. Amazon and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, meanwhile, regularly mine a user’s prior tastes and purchases to generate business by recommending complementary products.

Apple plans to introduce its redesigned Apple Store app in the near future, perhaps within the next two weeks. It will be a universal app that works on both the iPhone and the iPad.

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The Democratic National Convention Is A Great Place To Be A Lobbyist

PHILADELPHIA ― After addressing the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, former President Bill Clinton appeared on another, more private stage at the Reading Terminal Market just before 1 a.m. Clinton thanked the crowd for supporting his wife and the Democratic presidential nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He said he was glad that everyone could hear him “tell the story of the person that I know best.”

Hillary Action Fund, one of two joint fundraising committees raising money for Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, provided the funding for this official Clinton post-convention party. Inside, Clinton campaign officials milled with Democratic Party bigwigs, lawmakers, donors, celebrities and activists.

This was by no means the only event this week that linked party insiders with donors, big money or even corporate interests. In fact, corporations, their trade associations and billionaire mega-donors have been omnipresent around the city and especially in the Wells Fargo Center.

Comcast, easily the most visible corporate sponsor of the convention, has its logo emblazoned on every lanyard for convention-goers, and has giant welcome signs on the side of the convention arena and inside 30th Street Station. Facebook hosts a bar for select guests inside the hall. There’s even an official Uber drop-off zone, with a cool-off tent featuring free water and Kind bars.

Washington lobbyists were also in on the act, with events in Philadelphia throughout the week.

Heather Podesta and her ex-husband Tony, both registered lobbyists, threw competing brunches on Monday and Tuesday. The law firm Dentons hosted a happy hour at the Kimmel Center’s rooftop garden on Wednesday. Squire Patton Boggs, another law firm, hosted former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), now a registered lobbyist, at 30th Street Station. And Akin Gump, the most well-compensated lobbying firm of 2016, held a celebration of the career of longtime Clinton friend Vernon Jordan.

After eight years of being banned by the Obama administration and campaigns, lobbyists are finally able to give to the Democratic presidential ticket and the Democratic National Committee. There appeared to be laws in place governing events where registered lobbyists and federal candidates or officials mingled.

One clear example was at the Hillary Action Fund celebration, where the food provided by dozens of Reading Market vendors came in single servings ― modest portions constrained by official regulations. You could sample the breaded eggplant with sweet and sour sauce and arugula served on napkins, or the chicken dumplings served in small Chinese takeout containers.

Super PACs funded by mega-donors, meanwhile, were even more visible at the convention hall than they were in 2012. NextGen California, a super PAC funded by the billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, hosted a bar for select VIPs and delegates on the ground floor. On the suite level, House Majority PAC and Senate Majority PAC, the two main Democratic Party super PACs working to elect congressional candidates, provided a curtained-off private space for VIPs to relax, eat, watch the convention and even play video games. Why video games? The private space was sponsored by the Entertainment Software Alliance, the lobbying arm of the gaming industry.

Both House Majority PAC and Senate Majority PAC have also joined together with Priorities USA Action, the main pro-Clinton super PAC, to host the final party of the convention week, featuring a performance from Snoop Dogg. Two of the few disclosed donors for the festivities include the lobbying arm of the pharmaceutical industry and Anthem, Inc., a major health insurer.

All of this stood in stark contrast to the refrain from inside the convention hall, where calls rang out from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and President Barack Obama to overturn Citizens United and fight back against the influence of lobbyists.

There were other outside events throughout the week sponsored by corporations and trade associations. Railroad companies CSX and BNSF, Professional Aviation Specialists and the lobbying firm McGuireWoods Consulting sponsored a transportation industry event. NextGen Climate, Anheuser Busch, Geico and Southwest Airlines sponsored a Latino Leaders Lunch.

A long list of corporations sponsored the popular Distilled Spirits Council party. (Who doesn’t like free alcohol?) The majority of the sponsors were not from the alcohol industry. They included the Entertainment Software Association, Ford, McGuireWoods Consulting, Boeing, Quicken Loans and Monsanto. The Wall Street Journal was also a sponsor.

This was not the only overlap of the media and corporate influence.

Twitter treated reporters to an entire bar of free food, booze, coffee and Wi-Fi for the duration of the convention. (The social media company did the same in Cleveland last week for the Republican National Convention.)

Both Politico and The Atlantic hosted roundtable discussions sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, the main oil industry lobby. Those speaking at some of these discussions explicitly endorsed the policies advocated by the oil industry.

At one, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat who has worked for natural gas companies since leaving office, defended fracking by saying that wind energy has its downsides because it kills birds. At another, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) compared a ban on fracking to life in the Soviet Union.

Even though the Obama team has banned lobbyist contributions at the presidential level for eight years, one government affairs representative for a Fortune 500 company told The Huffington Post he saw no real difference in terms of corporate or lobbyist activity between this week’s event and the last two conventions, which both nominated Obama.

The continuity between the Clinton, Obama and corporate worlds was on display at events thrown by Airbnb and Uber. The two Silicon Valley companies released new presidential polling data and hosted an event to celebrate the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Speaking at the press briefing were Airbnb’s Chris Lehane, a former Clinton aide, and Uber’s David Plouffe, the former political director for Obama.

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Chelsea Clinton Has Some Questions For Ivanka Trump

Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump may be friendly, but Clinton had no problem criticizing the speech her friend gave at the Republican National Convention last week.

In Cleveland, Trump portrayed her father as a feminist hero who would fight to close the gender pay gap. He “will focus on making quality child care affordable and accessible for all,” she said.

Since Donald Trump had never spoken substantively on either issue and the GOP has a history of standing in the way of such policies, Ivanka’s speech came across as more than a little bizarre. Though some lauded her speech as one of the best of the convention, labor groups and journalists who cover equal pay and child care were critical. “An enormous crock” is how Rebecca Traister put it in New York magazine.

Chelsea Clinton got the chance to weigh in during a Facebook Live panel Tuesday hosted by Glamour magazine. The clip drew attention in the following days in anticipation of Clinton’s speech introducing her mother at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night.

Noting that Chelsea and Ivanka are friendly, Glamour Editor-In-Chief Cindi Leive asked the former first daughter if there was anything she wanted to ask her friend about how the Republican nominee would achieve equal pay or affordable child care. 

“If you got to ask her a question about how her father would do that, what would it be?” Leive said, around 10 minutes into the panel.

Clinton looked slightly amused.

“It would be that question: ‘How would your father do that?’” she said. “How would your father do that given it’s not something he’s spoken about. There are no policies on any of those fronts on his website. Not last week. Not this week. The how question is super important.”

Clinton and Trump reportedly put their friendship on ice during the presidential campaign, but on the “Today” show Thursday Clinton said she’d consider a “daughters summit” to talk about about their parents’ campaigns.

Hillary Clinton has spoken extensively about equal pay and childcare and has policy proposals on her website.

While Ivanka’s father hasn’t put out recommendations on these issues, he does have a track record of saying hostile things about women and mothers. He’s said “I think putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing” and famously told a lawyer “you’re disgusting” when she took a break from a deposition they were both attending.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.

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New Jersey Student Loan Agency To Staff: Don’t Tell Borrowers About Help Unless They Ask

Some restaurants have secret menus, special items that you can only get if you know to ask. New Jersey’s student loan program has secret options, too — borrowers may be able to get help from the agency, but only if they know to ask.

New Jersey has the largest state-based student loan program in the country, with particularly stringent terms that can lead to financial ruin, as ProPublica and the New York Times recently detailed. The agency overseeing the program says it has a policy to help some families if the children who were supposed to benefit from the loans die. 

But internal emails show that staffers at the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, or HESAA, have been instructed not to tell families that they may qualify for help unless they explicitly ask.

“Families of deceased borrowers (or surviving cosigners) must inquire if HESAA has a policy on loan forgiveness,” a supervising staffer wrote in an email to employees in May 2016. “We should not be volunteering this information.”


Similar instructions were sent out three years earlier. “Only advise the cosigner/coborrower about loan forgiveness when asked,” wrote the same staffer in a 2013 email about what to do when borrowers die. A senior supervisor was cc’ed on both emails.

The agency said that the instructions were not agency policy.

“The emails you shared with us do not accurately reflect the Authority’s policy or practice on loan forgiveness,” said Marcia Karrow, the agency’s chief of staff, in an emailed statement. (Read the agency’s full response.)

Karrow did not provide any emails from management correcting the instructions circulated in 2013 or 2016 after they were sent out. Instead, she said, “in person training was provided.”

The agency says that over the past four years, they have helped 35 of 50 cosigners or co-borrowers who have requested assistance after a borrower died or became disabled. But it is impossible to know how many could have been helped if they knew to ask.

It’s not the first time that New Jersey has required borrowers to jump through hoops to get help.

After Superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey in November 2012, thousands of residents faced financial ruin: Nearly 350,000 homes were destroyed, about 100,000 workers filed unemployment claims, and business losses totaled over $8 billion.

Given how overwhelmed many residents were, the agency’s chief executive said New Jersey did not tell credit agencies about any late payments in the month after the storm.

“No one who made a late payment has to worry about their credit rating being adversely affected,” Executive Director Gabrielle Charette said at the board meeting in January 2013.

But that wasn’t what happened. Instead, the agency only erased late payment reports if a borrower requested it.

“All reportings from Nov 2012 can be removed when disputed,” a program officerinstructed staff in an August 2013 email related to Hurricane Sandy credit reporting appeals.

Following the storm, the agency did put a note on its website telling borrowers to contact them if they were struggling and says it sent written notice about the delinquency policy to borrowers.

When asked about credit reporting after the storm, initially Karrow stood by the statements of the executive director. “Regarding Hurricane Sandy, no delinquencies were reported to any credit agency during the month of November, 2012,” she said in anemailed statement to ProPublica.

But when ProPublica showed that a borrower had indeed been reported late in November 2012, the agency changed its response to say officials had discovered that credit reporting had not been suspended, “as had been directed by the Executive in the early days following the storm.”

The instructions to staff illustrate just one side of the agency’s hard-nosed approach in dealing with struggling student borrowers.

As we have detailed, repayment of New Jersey’s loans cannot be based on income and borrowers who struggle to find a job or face financial hardship are given few breaks.

In one case, HESAA insisted that a mother continue to pay off loans she cosigned with her son even after he was murdered.

New Jersey’s agency has collection powers that surpass those of even the most predatory for-profit lenders. Backed by the power of the state, the agency can garnish wages, revoke state income tax refunds, suspend professional licenses and even take away lottery winnings — all without getting a court’s approval. Once borrowers default, the agency cuts off contact with them, sending their accounts to a collection firm that can tack on an extra 30 percent in attorney fees.

Karrow previously told ProPublica and the New York Times that “the vast majority of these borrowers are happy with the program and are pleased that NJCLASS provided them the opportunity to pursue the higher education of their choosing.” (Read the agency’s responses to our previous questions.)

In response to our reporting, New Jersey Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, who chairs the state assembly’s higher education committee, called on New Jersey to review student loan issues at the agency.

“Our state must review the existing system with a more compassionate eye to those situations that have such a destructive impact on people who simply sought to better their lives by earning a college degree,” Jasey said in a statement.

 

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New iMovie for iOS Update Makes it Easier to Start and Share Projects

imovieApple today updated iMovie for iOS, its consumer-oriented video editing app designed for iPhones and iPads. iMovie version 2.2.3 makes it easier to start and share projects and it includes unspecified stability and performance improvements.

iMovie users are now able to start projects more quickly by selecting multiple photos and videos to insert into a project, and there are options for sharing to Facebook or Vimeo using the iOS share interface. Today’s update also brings support for Shared iPad, an educational feature that debuted as part of iOS 9.3.

With Shared iPad functionality, iMovie will now work for each student who accesses the app on a shared iPad.

What’s New

– Start projects quickly by selecting multiple photos and videos

– Share to Facebook and Vimeo using the standard iOS share interface

– Support for Shared iPad in iOS 9.3 or later

– Stability and performance improvements

Prior to today’s update, iMovie last saw an update in April of 2016, bringing minor improvements. The last major update to the software came in September of 2015 when iMovie 2.2 was introduced, bringing support for 4K video and 3D Touch.

iMovie for iOS can be downloaded from the App Store for $4.99. [Direct Link]

Tag: iMovie

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HuffPost Journalists Nominated For Prominent Awards By NABJ, NAHJ

The Huffington Post has been nominated for three awards by the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. 

The two organizations, who have teamed up to host the first-ever joint convention that kicks off on Aug. 3, recognized HuffPost among their list of journalists included in this year’s group of finalists for various awards.

Zeba Blay, a HuffPost Voices culture writer whose work is featured heavily in Black Voices, was nominated for best Commentary/Weblog by NABJ for her powerful personal essay published in November titled, “The Psychological Toll Of Racism In The Wake Of Mizzou.” Blay’s essay explored how writing about race as a black journalist affected her as a black woman with a mental illness, especially in the aftermath of the campus racism protests at the University of Missouri. 

HuffPost Politics reporters Mariah Stewart, Julia Craven and Ryan Reilly were nominated for best Online Project: News by NABJ for their collaborative piece titled, “The Ferguson Protests Worked.” The detailed article, which included original artwork made by the HuffPost multimedia team, discussed how Black Lives Matter protests ― that erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, against the tragic police killing of Michael Brown ― helped to lead the city to much-needed reform. 

Lastly, Carolina Moreno’s coverage of outstanding and influential Latinos in her project, “Latinos Break The Mold” was recognized by NAHJ as a finalist under the category “Latino Issues – Print/Digital Journalism.” Moreno’s multimedia piece, which included striking imagery assembled by HuffPost photographers Damon Dahlen and Christy Havranek, helped to shatter harmful stereotypes often painted of Latino men and women by celebrating the beautiful diversity among the Latino community. 

The three nominations are recognized among a list featuring incredible work from outlets like The New York Times, CNN, BuzzFeed and more. 

Awards will be announced at the NABJ Salute To Excellence Gala and the NAHJ Gala Reception, both of which will take place on Saturday, Aug. 6.

Congrats to all those nominated!  

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Monte dei Paschi scrambles to ready bailout plan by Friday

LONDON/MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s Monte dei Paschi di Siena,, which is scrambling to put together a privately backed bailout, suffered a setback on Thursday when three banks turned down a request to…