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Blockchain technology could be the great equalizer for American cities

Brooks Rainwater Contributor Brooks Rainwater is the director of the Center for City Solutions and Applied Research at the National League of Cities. More posts by this contributor Do cities still want a sharing economy? As tech startups surge in cities, inclusive economic growth must be a priority The city of Austin is currently piloting a program in which its 2,000 homeless residents will be given a unique identifier that’s safely and securely recorded on the blockchain. This identifier will help individuals consolidate their records and seek out crucial services. Service providers will also be able to access the information. If...

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Apple and Oprah sign a multi-year partnership on original content

Apple announced today a multi-year content partnership with Oprah Winfrey to produce programs for the tech company’s upcoming video streaming service. Apple didn’t provide any specific details as to what sort of projects Winfrey would be involved in, but there will be more than one it seems. Apple shared the news of its deal with Winfrey in a brief statement on its website, which read: Apple today announced a unique, multi-year content partnership with Oprah Winfrey, the esteemed producer, actress, talk show host, philanthropist and CEO of OWN. Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world. Winfrey’s projects will be released as part of a lineup of original content from Apple. The deal is a significant high-profile win for Apple which has been busy filing out its lineup with an array of talent in recent months. The streaming service will also include a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, a Reese Witherspoon- and Jennifer Anniston-starring series set in the world of morning TV, an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation books, a thriller starring Octavia Spencer, a Kristen Wiig-led comedy, a Kevin Durant-inspired scripted basketball show, a series from “La La Land’s” director and several other shows. Winfrey, however, is not just another showrunner or producer. She’s a media giant who has worked across film, network and cable TV, print, and more as an actress, talk show host,...

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YC alum Modern Health, a startup focused on emotional wellbeing, gets $2.26M seed funding

About one year ago, a note from a CEO thanking his employee for using sick days to take care of her mental health went viral. It was a reminder to Alyson Friedensohn of what she wants to accomplish with Modern Health, the emotional health benefits startup she founded last year with neuroscientist Erica Johnson. “We want that to be normal. We want the email she sent to be normal, to be able to be that open,” Friedensohn tells TechCrunch. Modern Health, a Y Combinator alum, announced today that it has raised $2.26 million in seed funding for hiring, accelerating the development of its healthcare platform and growing its network of therapists, coaches and other providers. Offered as a benefit by companies, Modern Health’s services are meant to improve employee well-being and retention rates. The round was led by Afore, with participation from Social Capital, Precursor Ventures, Merus Capital, Maschmeyer Group Ventures, Y Combinator and angel investors. Friedensohn, Modern Health’s chief executive officer, says several employers have already signed up for its platform, which includes services like counseling and career and financial coaching. One of its newest customers, human resources startup Gusto, hit a 43% utilization rate of its services, including connecting employees to coaches and therapists, among registered users just four days after it began offering the platform.  The startup is especially proud of the fact that Modern Health’s team is...

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Kellogg’s Honey Smacks Cereal Recalled Due to Salmonella Risk

FRIDAY, June 15, 2018 (HealthDay News) — The Kellogg Company announced Thursday it was recalling certain boxes of Honey Smacks cereal due to the possibility of contamination with salmonella. In a news release, the company said it “launched an investigation with the third-party manufacturer who produces Honey Smacks immediately after being contacted by the Food & Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control regarding reported illnesses.” According to the CDC, 73 illnesses potentially tied to contaminated cereal have been reported across 31 states. Twenty-four people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported. Illnesses have been reported from May 3 through May 28. The cereal under recall includes Honey Smacks 15.3 oz. size with the UPC code of 3800039103 (on the bottom of the package) and a Best if Used By Date of JUN 14, 2018, through JUN 14, 2019 (at the top of the package). Also included are Honey Smacks in the 23 oz. size with the same “Best Before” date and the UPC code of 3800014810. No other Kellogg products are affected by the recall, and people who find they have purchased one of the recalled products should “discard it and contact the company for a full refund,” the company said. The cereal has a shelf life of about a year if left unopened, the FDA noted. More details can be found at Kellogg’s website. The...

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Puerto Rico’s Water System Stutters Back To Normal

UTUADO, Puerto Rico — Carmen Rodríguez Santiago counts herself lucky to have any water service at home. But eight months after Hurricane Maria, the 52-year-old security guard said the faucets in her cream-and-pink-colored house still run dry every two to three days, and the water, when it returns, is flecked with sediment. Puerto Rican officials claim that water service on the U.S. island has been restored to more than 96 percent of customers as of June 6, but the report of progress masks underlying problems. Outside of cities, service has been slower to be reconnect. Flow is often intermittent and the water quality is uncertain. Throughout Puerto Rico, electrical outages and faulty generators mean pumps don’t consistently deliver water to residents’ homes and operations are disrupted at water treatment plants. Residents are cautioned to boil water for three minutes during the first three days after their water is restored or after an interruption to make sure it is safe to drink. “The drops in service represent generators failing or places where electricity was re-established and perhaps temporarily lost,” said Elí Díaz Atienza, executive president of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA). The authority declined to share data regarding current water quality on the island. That is little comfort to rural residents like Rodríguez Santiago, who are left coping with limited access to clean water and fear the...

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