Monthly Archives: July 2016

App of the Week – Blink Health

BlinkThe greatest travesty of living in America is the cost of health care.  Far too many people simply suffer because that can’t afford to see a doctor or pay for medication.

Even with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) many black people are still uninsured. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts  over half of  all African-Americans, 55 percent,  live in the 23 states that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility under the ACA. The numbers are not much better for other groups. The Urban Institute reports that by comparison, 42 percent of whites, 38 percent of Latinos and 23 percent of Asians live in states that have not expanded to the ACA standards.

Even worse in non-expansion states a disproportionate number of African-Americans fail to qualify even for the narrower Medicaid program in place now. The result is that far too many black people have little or no medical or prescription coverage.

 That is why Blink Health is the App of the Week.

According to Blink Health as much as 30 percent of all medications are left on the pharmacy counter for one simple reason; the patient can’t afford them.

Blink Health co-founder and chief operating officer Matt Chaiken says people wrongly assume that if they have insurance they also have prescription coverage.  “There’s a common misconception in this country. Patients believe that, because they’re covered by insurance, they’re paying the lowest price at the pharmacy counter. This is not the case.”

Blink says it can offer lower prices on more than 15,000 mostly generic medications for less than $10. These price reductions are made possible because of the purchasing power of the combined membership of Blink Health and partner company MedImpact. The list of pharmacy chains that accept Blink Health includes Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Target, and many others

The BlinkHealth app allows the user to enter the name of their medication, dosage and quantity and the app will return a price quote. The user can pay for the prescription online. After the prescription has been paid for the app issues a proof of purchase known as a  “Blink Card” directly to the users phone. The user can then go to the pharmacy with their prescription and show their Blink Card. As long as they have a valid prescription from a physician the prescription will be filled. Nothing is paid at the pharmacy.

BlinkHealth is free and available for both and Apple and Android devices.

Lenny App Introduces Credit to Millennials

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Lenny Founder Joe Bayen

Lenny is a new financial app that will offer credit lines of up to $10,000 to millennials and report their payment activity to credit bureaus to build their credit history.  A millennial is considered a person who reached adulthood around the year 2000.

Lenny is designed to modernize credit for millennials.  As a demographic millennials lack credit and that impacts major purchases such a cars and homes. According to Lenny 49 percent of millennials don’t have a credit card and 43 percent  hold credit scores below 600. The Lenny app seeks to empowers young adults to take control of their finances through credit lines, peer-to-peer payments and credit-score education.

According to the Wall Street Journal the average U.S. college student leaves school $35,000 in debt. These graduates are in desperate need of help to secure loans and find solid financial advice. Many millennials are entering the job market financially handicapped with little or no knowledge of how the credit score system works. Lenny offers a way to fix this situation by offering financial tools and education through its blog.

But there is another factor that come into play. Many millennials are rejecting credit or at least credit cards. According to a survey conducted by Bankrate 63 percent of people between the ages of 18-29 years old have no credit card. 

Another interesting fact from an April 2014 Gallup poll revealed that Americans’ reliance on credit cards, in general, has declined steadily since the Great Recession. Additionally, it is tougher to get a credit card thanks to the the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, or CARD Act, made it harder for anyone under 21 to get a credit card.

Lenny founder Joe Bayen admits to his own credit problems while he was in college. Bayen used a credit card to purchase a car while in college resulting in a poor credit score. Now that he has recovered from that experience Bayen seeks to prevent other students from making the same mistake.

To use Lenny millennials simply download the app and set up a Lenny account. By signing up they can apply for an initial credit line from as little as $100 up to $10,000 with zero percent interest  if they make the payments on time. Rates increase from as low as 4 percent rising to an average of 9.8 percent interest when payments are not made in full. Lenny uses a credit decision algorithm to determine an individual’s credit score. After a credit line has been approved, users can move the money to their personal bank accounts or instantly pay their friends using the peer-to-peer payment function. When re-payments are made on time, users’ credit limits can increase by up to $1000 a quarter.

“Lenny is building a one-stop shop organization that serves the financial needs of a generation,” said CEO and co-founder Joe Bayen. “We help individuals improve their credit scores by informing major credit bureaus when payments are made on time. Your improved credit score can then be used to rent a house without needing a cosigner, help secure great credit cards, and more.”

Celebrity Cyber Report – Leslie Jones Target of Racist Twitter Trolls

Leslie

Leslie Jones

Racist Twitter trolls targeted comedienne Leslie Jones and other female cast member of the new “Ghostbusters” movie. Jones, the only black cast member, and her fellow white cast mates have suffered months of harsh criticism since the remake of the popular 80’s movie was announced. Jones has finally showed her frustration and anger at the attacks.

Jones, the first black female comedienne on “Saturday Night Live,” went to war earlier this week against Twitter trolls. She even engaged Milo Yiannopoulos, an advocate for the GamerGate group. Yiannopoulis’ followers are known to attack women in the name of equal rights. Strangely enough Yiannopoulos is a gay man. Gay people are another group who have been attacked by hate speech on Twitter.

The attack on Jones included comparisons to primates, including Harambe, the male gorilla who was shot dead in May at a Cincinnati zoo. Others trolls sent her pornography and created fake Twitter accounts that made it appear she was herself using hateful speech. Twitter trolls called her names and even faked pictures of her with semen on her face.

Jones responded via her own Twitter account, “Ok, I have been called Apes,” she wrote on Twitter, “even got a pic with semen on my face. I’m trying to figure out what human means. I’m out.”

Director of the new all female” Ghostbusters” reboot Paul Feig  defended Jones on Twitter: “Leslie Jones is one of the greatest people I know. Any personal attacks against her are attacks against us all.” As a result he too became the target of attacks. Feig was criticized and attackers created a fake Twitter account set up in his name that sent out racist tweets.

 Feig used the hashtag #LoveforLeslieJ to send his message. Other celebrities including Margaret Cho and William Shatner also used the hashtag in Jones defense.

On Monday Jones began to respond to the hateful messages. Her Tweets showed frustration, bewilderment and anger at the attacks.  Many of her followers urged her to ignore the attacks but Jones felt differently. She Tweeted, “Stop saying ignore them or that’s just the way it is. Cause that’s bullshit. Everybody knows an asshole check them for their hate.”

Jones also turned her anger on Twitter by Tweeting , “Twitter I understand you got free speech I get it. But there has to be some guidelines when you let it spread like that. You can see on the profiles that some of these people are crazy sick. It’s not enough to freeze acct. They should be reported.”

Because of the attacks on Jones and other incidents Twitter has been criticized for not responding fast enough or strongly enough to trolls and hate speech.

After hours of back and forth between Jones and trolls Twitter permanently suspended the account of Milo Yiannopoulos, also known as @Nero. Yiannopoulos is accused of launching the Twitter campaign against Jones saying he had no “no regrets” about kicking off an online feud with the film star. 

Twitter has struggled  with controlling abuse on its service. Especially so for abuse targeting women.  Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo openly admitted the social network sucked at dealing with abuse. After dumping Yiannopoulos Twitter again admitted it had “not done enough” to stop trolling. Twitter claimed it has worked at developing tools to make it easier to report and curb abuse. However Jones’ situation reveals that Twitter still has some work to do and the company admits it.

A Twitter spokeperson issued a statement saying, “This type of abusive behavior is not permitted on Twitter, and we’ve taken action on many of the accounts reported to us by both Leslie and others. We realize we still have a lot of work in front of us before Twitter is where it should be on how we handle these issues.”

Twitter offered its rules on dealing with “hateful conduct.”  Its policies warn against advocating any form of violence, attacks upon or threatening other users and warning that accounts set up for those purposes will be banned.

Breaking It Down

Racism thrives in the dark. The anonymity of the Internet, in this case Twitter, provides the perfect cover for cowards. America has a race problem and situations like this reveal this to be the unquestioned truth.  Leslie Jones is the victim of racist who seem to think that the remaking of a movie with an all female cast is some how dangerous and an affront to white privilege. Why else would you attack women, a black woman, with such horrible words.  People who seem to think that a movie like Ghostbusters with an all female cast is dangerous are as mature as they were when the original movie came out. Racism is fear, It is hatred. It is the fruit of the empty mind.  People who speak out in the dark  and hide behind Twitter handles are really saying, “I’m stupid and I don’t want anyone to know. Ms. Jones is right to lash out at these fools and at Twitter for their attacks. We need to hold not just the assholes who do these things responsible but also the jerks who provide the stage for them to speak. Free speech is an American right first and a tradition second. A wise man once said, “The reason we have free speech is so we can know who the fools are.” That is a powerful statement but we should have the right and power to shut them down when we discover that is just what they are…fools.

Cellphones and Streaming Media Capture Police Shooting of Black Men

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Philando Castile

Philando Castile was shot and killed by police. It took only minutes for the images of the aftermath of the shooting to be come real world news thanks to Facebook’s live streaming function.  Welcome to the age of new, instant, media.

Diamond Reynolds captured the horrifying aftermath of the shooting using her cellphone as her boyfriend lie dying next to her. According to Reynolds Castile warned the officer he was in possession of a licensed firearm. “He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm,” cried Reynolds in the video.

 

 

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Philando Castile lay dying after being shot by police.

In the video Castile can clearly be seen struggling to breath and bleeding profusely while the police officer continued to hold the gun on him.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana Alton Sterling another black man was shot and killed by police during a struggle. This too was recorded by smartphone camera.

 

 

According to witnesses Sterling was known as the “CD Man” and regularly sold CD’s and DVD’s outside the convenience store where he was shot. The store owner had given Sterling permission to do so.

 

 

Alton Sterling

Alton Sterling

In this incident there are actually two cellphone videos (Video 1, Video 2) that recorded the shooting while Sterling was on the ground wrestling with two police officers. In the video police officers are wrestling with Sterling when one yells “gun!” The second officer then removes his gun from its holster and eventually shoots Sterling several times. After the shooting the police can be seen removing the gun from Sterling’s pocket.

Never before in the history of broadcasting has such an events been seen so instantly.

 

 

 

 

Breaking It Down

Once during an interview I heard the rapper Tupac predict, rather matter-of -factly, that we will watch him live and die live on your television. Andy Warhol said “In the future we will all be famous for fifteen minutes.” In the age of technology and instant communications it seems to have all come true. And this changes everything.

We are witnessing the reality of being able to tell our story to the world from a tiny handheld device that no one could have dreamed of just twenty years ago. Technology has ripped away any possibility that a person could be misunderstood or doubted when they tell their story be it good or bad. We as a society are left now to only interpret what we have seen or heard. And this changes everything.

We no longer have the luxury of exchanging stories. “Your word against mine,” is a thing of the past. Black people have long complained of police brutality. What we are witnessing is not new just recorded and the story is being told .You are left to interpret the facts not the” he said she said” aftermath. And this changes everything.

We can thank technology for this moment. These shootings have ignited searing anger in society. We are seeing our lives and the lives of others recorded and streamed to anyone and all who want to see, hear and know. And this changes everything.

The killing of black men by the police is no longer a question of how of or if it happened a certain way. You can see for yourself what happened sometimes while it s happening. And this changes everything.

We are in a new era where the investigation into police actions, violence, use of force, and death are no longer focused on what happened. We saw what happened. No we must investigate why it happened. Why was another black man killed by the police? That is the question we must ask and answer. And that changes everything.

See also: App of the Week-Driving While Black

 

 

 

Breach Brief – Wendy’s

Wendy's_logo_2012.svgIt seems that the Wendy’s data breach was worse than thought. The AACR first reported the data breach in January.  Now we are seeing the real damage. Wendy’s has admitted that the data breach was first suspected of affecting only a few hundred of its restaurants. Now the truth comes out and the number is over 1,000.

Wendy’s has released a searchable list of all the restaurants affected by the breach.

Originally Wendy’s believed that only 300 of its 5,700 franchises were breached. Wendy’s notified its customers and the public in February of the breach when it discovered evidence of malware in its POS systems.

Wendy’s has issued the following statement regarding the expanding breach.

“Based on the facts known to Wendy’s at this time, the additional malware targeted the following payment card data: cardholder name, credit or debit card number, expiration date, cardholder verification value, and service code. Please note that the cardholder verification value that may have been put at risk is not the three or four-digit value that is printed on the back or front of cards, which is sometimes used in online transactions.”

After detecting the presence of the malware Wendy’s claimed to have disabled it. Wendy’s believes that the malware attack first took place in the fall of 2015. Wendy’s also believes that it detected evidence of at least two separate malware attacks on its systems.

Customers of the fast food chain affected by the breach will receive are a year’s worth of “identity consultation” from Kroll Identity Theft Restoration if necessary. According Wendy’s “an experienced licensed investigator will work on your behalf to resolve related issues.

 

Black Girls Code Gets Next to Google

Black girlsBlack Girls Code a non-profit group that teaches young minority girls tech skills is getting next to Google. 

Black Girls Code and Google opened a new space inside Google’s building in Manhattan. Purchased by Google in 2010 the$2.8 million facility is a gift from Google to Black Girls Code. Google believes that providing the new space will allow Black Girls Code to introduce more students to more tech companies, and also attract volunteers and mentors.

Google, like many tech companies, struggles to diversify its work force with people of color. A recent report on Google’s efforts revealed that the company’s efforts are not having spectacular results. A blog post from Google’s Vice President of People Operations Nancy Lee  said; “We saw encouraging signs of progress in 2015, but we’re still far from where we need to be.”

William Floyd Google’s Head of External Affairs added, “We need a tech sector that looks like the society it serves, and groups like Black Girls CODE are ensuring that we can cultivate and access talent in communities of color.”

Founder of Black Girls CODE Kimberly Bryant, said Google has hosted many student workshops in its New York office. She believes that the partnership with Google will allow the nonprofit to build a permanent teaching space.

“They’re able to influence these girls that Google is a company they might want to come work for once they graduate,” Bryant said.

Black Girls Code was founded in 2011 with the lofty goal of educating one million girls with technology skill needed to compete in the technology job sector.

Research by Georgia Tech University found that in 23 states, less than 10 African-American students took the Advanced Placement computer science exam. According to the National Association for Women and Information Technology African-American women made up about 3 percent of the nation’s computing workforce.

“If you look specifically at students of color, and even more specifically at girls from African-American, Latina and Native American communities, it’s important to reach them before they get to high school,” Bryant said.

About 1,000 girls are served by Black Girls Code in the New York area. Thanks to Google Bryant hopes that it can double or triple that in the next few years.

New BET Play Streaming Service Launches

BET PlayBlack Entertainment Television is getting a technological upgrade.  Viacom the owner of the popular network is offering a new streaming service called BET Play that will allow BET watchers to stream the network’s programs. But not in the U.S.

BET Play will cost $3.99 and be made be available in 100 countries. But not in the U.S. BET Play will only be available in markets where you can’t get the network’s programming through a regular cable television subscription.  Believe it or not that means the streaming app my never see the U.S. market but will be available in Australia and other countries.

The BET Play app permits viewers to stream episodes from popular BET shows such as 106 & Park, Kevin Hart’s Real Husbands of Hollywood, and Gabrielle Union’s Being Mary Jane.  BET Play will offer 16 of the networks show in all and will also offer a live, linear stream of BET’s music channel BET Soul.

BET Play will be available for Apple devices, smartphones and Apple AirPlay enabled televisions set. It will also work on tablets  running Google’s Android software.