California To Pay $116 Million In Cash To Those Who Get COVID Vaccinations

In the latest and most extraordinary effort yet to boost California’s flagging COVID-19 vaccination rates, state officials on Thursday announced what appears to be the largest inoculation incentive in the nation: the chance for 10 residents to win $1.5 million apiece.

The goal of the multimillion-dollar giveaway is simple: Give residents every possible motivation to finally roll up their sleeves as the state’s vaccine rollout enters its crucial next phase.

Those prizes — along with 30 additional awards of $50,000 each — are open to Californians who have gotten at least one dose. Those who have previously received their shots will be entered into the drawings automatically, and there is no need to register, according to state officials.

“These are real incentives. These are an opportunity to say thank you to those not only seeking to get vaccinated as we move forward, but also those that have been vaccinated since we first availed those opportunities a number of months ago,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The grand prize recipients will be chosen June 15, the date the state is set to fully reopen its economy. The $50,000 winners will be selected in two batches, half on June 4 and the rest on June 11.

Should someone under 18 win, the prize will be put in a savings account until they come of age.

Additionally, starting Thursday, the next 2 million people who begin and finish their COVID-19 vaccine series will automatically be eligible for either a $50 prepaid gift card or a $50 grocery card that can be used at supermarkets such as Ralphs, Food 4 Less, Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions, Safeway and Andronico’s.

Prospective winners can decline the award, or they can accept and remain anonymous, though they are permitted to make their award public, Newsom said. All California residents are eligible, regardless of immigration status, with some exceptions, such as people who are incarcerated and some government employees, including workers for public health departments and the California State Lottery.

AMC renting out theaters for $99 amid pandemic recovery plans (up to 20 people)

AMC locations across the U.S. are renting out entire theaters for moviegoers starting at $99.

Groups up to 20 people can enjoy a private user experience. The price for rental goes upwards to $349 depending on the movie chosen by the group and the theater location, AMC states on their website.

Currently, 34 films are being offered in rental packages. Older releases start at $99 plus tax while newer movies begin at $149.

There are several add-ons that also increase the price for groups, AMC disclosed on their FAQs page. Popcorn and other snacks are not included but can be bought using snack vouchers as the theaters are now cashless.

You can also bring your own food for a catering fee of $250. On condition, AMC doesn’t allow people to bring goodies that they already sell or that require a “heating element.”

Should you want to greet your group with a microphone, that will be another $100 fee.

The newest initiative comes while the theater company tries to recover from the hit it took from shutting down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: Fox Business

Uber and Lyft just avoided a shutdown. How they got here and what’s next

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The warnings are the result of California’s efforts to bring gig economy companies in compliance with state labor law — a clash that threatened to come to a head this week.

An emergency stay granted Thursday by a California appeals court temporarily defused the situation, allowing Uber and Lyft to continue operating under their current model for the time being. But unless a resolution is reached, millions of Californians who use Uber and Lyft to hail rides may yet find themselves forced to resort to other modes of transportation.

In early August, a San Francisco Superior Court judge ordered the companies to classify their drivers as employees rather than independent contractors, building in a 10-day window for the companies to appeal the move. With that window closing Thursday night, Uber and Lyft had threatened to shut down services at midnight Thursday, saying they cannot transition their business models quickly enough. Lyft reiterated that threat in a blog post Thursday morning, saying: “This is not something we wanted to do.”

“Uber and Lyft are threatening to kill jobs in California. I believe the companies are trying to force us into a decision around giving them what they want, and that’s Prop. 22, which is to keep denying us basic labor protections and benefits we have earned,” said Cherri Murphy, a ride-hailing company driver for about three years. An Oakland resident, Murphy is also an organizer with labor groups Gig Workers Rising and Rideshare Drivers United, which have fought to win protections for drivers.

Uber pushed back on this assessment, saying many drivers prefer to remain independent contractors. “The vast majority of drivers want to work independently, and we’ve already made significant changes to our app to ensure that remains the case under California law. When over 3 million Californians are without a job, our elected leaders should be focused on creating work, not trying to shut down an entire industry during an economic depression,” Uber spokesman Davis White said in a statement.

“Fortunately, California voters can make their voices heard by voting yes on Prop. 22 in November,” Zimmer said, and if passed, the measure “would protect driver independence and flexibility, while providing historic new benefits and protections.”

San Francisco’s district attorney sued food delivery app DoorDash in June, alleging worker misclassification. Uber said it anticipates a similar fight on this front.

Source: LA Times

Why Big Tech Wants You To Ditch Your Password

The average office worker in the United States must keep track of between 20 to 40 different username and password combinations. With so many passwords to remember, many of us use the same ones over and over, or have a running list of passwords saved somewhere. Passwords are a very serious and expensive security risk. It’s why companies like Microsoft , Apple and Google are trying to reduce our dependence on them. But the question is, can these companies break our bad habits?

Update (January 21, 2020): A website mentioned in this video, WeLeakInfo, was shut down by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. The site claimed to have more than 12 billion usernames and passwords from more than 10,000 data breaches.

Passwords are a very serious and expensive security risk. A report by Verizon looked at 2,013 confirmed data breaches and found that 29% of those breaches involved the use of stolen credentials.

Another study by the Ponemon Institute and IBM Security found that the average cost of a single data breach in the U.S. was more than $8 million. Even when passwords are not stolen, companies can lose a lot of money trying to reset them.

“Our research has shown that the average fully loaded cost of a help desk call to reset a password is anywhere between $40 or $50 per call,” says Merritt Maxim, vice president and research director at Forrester.

“Generally speaking, a typical employee contacts a help desk somewhere between 6 and 10 times a year on password related issues,” Maxim said. “So if you just do the simple multiplication of six to 10 times, times 50 dollars per call, times number of employees, in your organization, you’re talking significantly hundreds of thousands of dollars or even potentially millions of dollars a year.”