Guitar legend Eddie Van Halen dies of cancer at 65

Eddie Van Halen, the guitar virtuoso whose blinding speed, control and innovation propelled his band Van Halen into one of hard rock’s biggest groups, fueled the unmistakable fiery solo in Michael Jackson’s hit “Beat It” and became elevated to the status of rock god, has died. He was 65.

A person close to Van Halen’s family confirmed the rocker died Tuesday due to cancer. The person was not authorized to publicly release details in advance of an official announcement.

With his distinct solos, Eddie Van Halen fueled the ultimate California party band and helped knock disco off the charts starting in the late 1970s with his band’s self-titled debut album and then with the blockbuster record “1984,” which contains the classics “Jump,” “Panama” and “Hot for Teacher.”

Van Halen is among the top 20 best-selling artists of all time, and the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall … Read the rest

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COVID-19 is making a dangerous comeback in most parts of America

COVID-19 is spreading again across most of the U.S., hammering rural America and smaller cities and raising anxiety in New York, as experts warn that school reopenings and colder weather may cause the situation to rapidly deteriorate.

In 34 states, the seven-day average of new cases is higher now than it was a month ago. Although the virus has waned in populous states including California and Florida, it is wreaking unprecedented havoc in the Midwest and making an incipient return in parts of the Northeast.

“The weather report is darkly cloudy with further storms on the horizon,” said William Schaffner, an infectious disease professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Medical professionals have long warned about a resurgence of the novel coronavirus as colder temperatures in North America drive people inside and many jurisdictions reopen schools. Knowing that, scientists have been racing to prepare a vaccine. But even if it … Read the rest

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How to fix Silicon Valley

It was one of big tech’s most ignominious moments. Back in 2015, the search feature of the Google Photos app tagged two Black people as “gorillas,” prompting a toe-curling apology from the tech giant, which blamed machine learning–trained “automatic image labeling.” 

While the affair was plainly an unintentional glitch, it was in another sense no mere accident, but a product of an industry dangerously out of touch with its users. From disinformation and voter manipulation to privacy breaches and the new “feudal system” unleashed by the gig economy, tech’s toxic fallout emanates essentially from one source: how tech is built, the way engineering teams work, the bubble a lot of them live in, and the pool from which talent is selected.  

It’s usually glossed over that tech engineers tend to be recruited from similar backgrounds. In my own experience, backed by academic research, they are also likely to be … Read the rest

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With Trump at Walter Reed, the Biden campaign walks a delicate line

Joe Biden’s campaign announced that they would pull all negative ads on Friday following President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis. The move highlights the delicate line Biden’s team will now have to toe with just one month until the presidential election: paying respect to a President ill with a potentially-fatal illness and running an end-game campaign. 

Biden told reporters Friday that he had tested negative for the virus twice and would continue campaigning as he had. He offered his prayers to the Trump family and urged all Americans to wear masks. At a socially-distanced outdoor event in Michigan, Biden told supporters that “this is not a matter of politics. It’s a bracing reminder to all of us that we have to take this virus seriously. It’s not going away automatically. We have to do our part to be responsible.”

Still, Biden did cancel the second part of his planned campaign stop … Read the rest

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Will there be a second Trump-Biden debate? Probably not, but it may not make a difference

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Just days after the first of three planned presidential debates, President Trump has tested positive for COVID-19, putting the likelihood of further debates in serious doubt ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3. But after the debacle that was the first debate, a second appears unnecessary anyway.

Commentators ranging from the New York Times editorial board to Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez called Tuesday’s debate— an unproductive shouting match levied with personal insults and constant interruptions—a “national disgrace.” The debate did little to swing decided voters to the other side, while perhaps the most significant aim of a presidential debate—convincing undecided voters—had a minuscule pool to work with in the first place.

A recent NBC News poll from Sept. 20 found that just 6% … Read the rest

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What, exactly, does the U.S. Space Force do? Its Secretary is glad you asked

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Since President Trump established the U.S. Space Force as an independent military branch in December 2019, the agency has been brunt of some humor—with Netflix going as far as creating a parody show of the same name, starring Steve Carrell.

But as Barbara Barrett, secretary of the U.S. Air Force, would tell you, the Space Force will play a valuable role in the day-to-day lives of Americans.

“Why would you need a Space Force? It’s sensible to ask. When we think about how much of America’s way of life today depends on space, it’s huge,” the Air Force chief—who also oversees the Space Force—said during a panel at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Virtual Summit on Thursday. “I’ve often said, that before your first cup of … Read the rest

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‘Very, very far apart’: Pelosi and Mnuchin fail to reach a deal on bill including stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment

Stimulus negotiations between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fell apart on Wednesday.

“We’re very, very far apart,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the meeting.

The White House went into the meeting with plans to up its stimulus offer from $1.3 trillion to $1.5 trillion—and include provisions that would allow the package to rise to $2 trillion if the pandemic persists beyond a certain point. Republicans acknowledged prior to the meeting that this was likely the last chance to get something done before the election.

It’s unclear if Pelosi lowered Democrat’s offer of $2.2 trillion.

And without a compromise stimulus deal, Democratic leaders said they’ll have a vote on a revised $2.2 trillion HEROES Act stimulus bill as soon as Wednesday evening. Back in May the first version of the Heroes Act, priced at $3 trillion, passed in the House. But it never got … Read the rest

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Joe Biden’s campaign attacks Facebook for failing to protect the 2020 election

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Joe Biden’s presidential campaign is once again condemning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his social network—this time for failing to protect the U.S. presidential election.

“Rather than seeing progress, we have seen regression,” Biden’s campaign said in a letter to Zuckerberg on Monday. “Facebook’s continued promise of future action is serving as nothing more than an excuse for inaction.”

The letter, obtained by Fortune, suggests that Facebook has failed to live up to its own policies and promises to protect against election disinformation. It refers to posts from President Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. that encouraged people to vote by mail and in person and suggested that people opposed to Trump plan to submit “millions of fraudulent ballots.” 

Facebook did not immediately respond to … Read the rest

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Former Amazon manager and her family charged with insider trading

A senior manager in Amazon’s tax department ran an insider trading scheme in which she, along with her husband and father-in-law, made $1.4 million buying and selling stocks and options ahead of the company’s earnings announcements.

The Securities and Exchange Commission shared details of the scheme on Monday in a press release describing the misconduct of 36-year-old Laksha Bohra and her family. The Bohras do not dispute the accusations, and are also facing criminal charges from the U.S. Justice Department.

The SEC’s legal complaint describes how the family used 11 separate stock-trading accounts in what Bohra’s father-in-law described as a “family thing” to buy and sell stock on behalf of different relatives.

Bohra gained access to Amazon’s confidential information in her role overseeing financial data related to the company’s “transfer pricing” operations across different countries. Despite repeated reminders from Amazon that it was illegal for someone in her position to … Read the rest

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Hype beasts, the ‘Yeezy’ problem, and $950 cassette tapes: How crypto startup Zora is helping musicians create new revenue streams

Andre Anjos, known to his fans as RAC, won a Grammy for his 2017 remix of the song “Tearing Me Up,” but this success has not made it easy for the Portland musician to make a living. He blames a digital economy that fails to value the labor of songwriters and other creative artists.

“The music industry is fundamentally broken,” says Anjos. “Everyone says ‘Spotify is going to save us’ but I don’t believe it. They’re not profitable, which is why they’re pivoting to podcasts.”

Frustration with the digital economy has led Anjos, along with a handful of sneaker and hoodie designers, to embrace a new startup in a bid to create a new revenue stream based on a resale market for physical items. In Anjos’ case, a frenzy among his fans resulted in a limited edition cassette (like the one seen below) of his new album selling for … Read the rest

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