Companies & Sectors
Google 'Lollipop' is the new Android 5.0; Nexus 6 makes debut

Google also launched next version of its Nexus 6 smartphone, an aluminium frame device that has a six-inch high resolution screen and a 13-megapixel camera


Google has ramped up its mobile arsenal, upgrading its Nexus line with a new tablet and smartphone, and unveiling its revamped Android software, to be dubbed "Lollipop" or Android 5.0.


The US tech giant also announced the launch of a streaming media player for music, movies and videos, which can also allow users to play games via the Android TV device.


"Lollipop" or Android 5.0, the upgraded operating system for mobile, "is designed to be flexible, to work on all your devices and to be customised for you the way you see fit," said Google vice president Sundar Pichai, who heads the Android operations.


With the new operating system, according to the Android Website, "The songs, photos, apps, and even recent searches from one of your Android devices can be immediately enjoyed across all of your Android devices."


The new devices give Google and its Android partners a broader portfolio to compete against Apple, which launched two upgraded large-screen iPhones last month and is expected to unveil new iPads on Thursday.


The Nexus 6 smartphone becomes the newest and largest of the Google-branded handsets, and is produced by Motorola, which Google bought in 2012 and is in the process of selling to China's Lenovo.


This aluminium frame device has a six-inch high resolution screen and a 13-megapixel camera.


Nexus 6 prices start at $649 without a wireless contract commitment. That's $300 more than the previous generation, a Nexus 5 with a roughly 5-inch screen.


"The large screen is complemented by dual front-facing stereo speakers that deliver high-fidelity sound, making it as great for movies and gaming as it is for doing work," Google said in a statement.


"It also comes with a Turbo Charger, so you can get up to six hours of use with only 15 minutes of charge."


On the tablet front, Google partnered with Taiwan-based HTC for the 8.9-inch Nexus 9.


Nexus 9 will start at $399, 74% more than its predecessor. However, that's still $100 less than the starting price for the current iPad Air, which has a nearly 10-inch screen.


The brushed-metal tablet "is small enough to easily carry around in one hand, yet big enough to work on," Google said.


"And since more and more people want to have the same simple experience they have on their tablets when they have to do real work, we designed a keyboard folio that magnetically attaches to the Nexus 9, folds into two different angles and rests securely on your lap like a laptop."


The media player will deliver video apps to a television screen for consumers looking to supplement or go without cable or satellite.


Some of the apps included on the player are Netflix, Hulu Plus, the Food Network, Pandora and The Huffington Post.

User Takes Aim at Willagirl’s ‘No Junk’ Claim

Willagirl also claims that its products are safe for sensitive skin but the problem is none of Willa’s 16 products are all-natural, many are definitely not eco-friendly, and some of the ingredients are definitely not OK for sensitive skin


Willagirl markets itself as an eco-friendly, natural skin care line for girls aged 7-to-18. The Conn.-based online company that is re-launching as an (MLM) in January also claims that its products are safe for sensitive skin but the problem is (hold your breath here) none of Willa’s 16 products are all-natural, many are definitely not eco-friendly, and some of the ingredients are definitely not OK for sensitive skin. Let’s take a closer look.


All of the lip products contain artificial colors like yellow 5 lake, red 7 lake, and red 30 lake.

Six of the products (all 3 smile shimmers, smile shine and both skinny minis) contain sodium saccharin, an artificial sweetener.

Seven of the products contain petroleum-derived ingredients. The three smile shimmers contain mineral oil, petrolatum (better known as petroleum jelly) and polybutene. The three smile butters and the smile shine all contain polybutene. Ironically, Willagirl warns about petroleum products, saying on its Facebook page:


OK – moving on to Willa’s start fresh foaming face wash. Its second ingredient after water is butylene glycol. According to the Natural Products Association (NPA), any product with glycols cannot be deemed truly natural because they are “petroleum derived synthetic chemicals that can potentially draw other chemicals into the bloodstream.”


Willa’s face wash also contains cocamidopropyl betaine, which won the American Contact Dermatitis Society’s Allergen of the Year award in 2004, while fragrance (also found in the face wash) picked up the award in 2007 – so definitely not the best ingredients for sensitive skin. Last but certainly not least, the product has dehydroacetic acid, which is a synthetic preservative.

But all this hasn’t stopped the company from posting the following responses to girls’ questions about its products:


(In case you’re wondering, according to most dermatologists fragrance is a big no-no for those suffering from eczema.)

The rub about moisturizer

Willa’s face friendly moisturizer looked like it might just earn its all-natural title until we came to its second-to-last ingredient – dehydroacetic acid, which as we mentioned above, is a synthetic preservative. Plus this moisturizer contains sodium hydroxide, which is a known irritant.

Face the facts

Willa’s face the day sunscreen fares no better. Like Willa’s face wash, it contains glycols.


It also has quite a few silicone ingredients, such as dimethicone and peg-10 dimethicone.


Not only are these silicone polymers synthetic but they are not biodegradable, which does not make Nemo and Dory very happy when they swallow them. And then there’s the ingredient cyclopentasiloxane – that’s also on NPA’s prohibited list.

This leaves us with four more products: Willa’s on the go face towlettes, take action acne spot treatment click pen, be brilliant natural body lotion, and fresh face cucumber face mask. All these products contain glycols but more importantly they also all contain phenoxyethanol, a preservative that is a known contact allergen. In addition, Willa’s face wipes and body lotion contain fragrance, while its facial mask contains artificial colors.

Unnaturally costly

So in sum, Willagirls is definitely not all natural, it does contain harsh chemicals and it’s not safe for sensitive skin. Even the company admits that its products are not 100 percent natural (say what? All-natural ≠ 100% natural?):

This seems to beg the question, why all this deceptive marketing? Here’s our theory: Natural ingredients can be expensive while ingredients like petrolatum, glycols and artificial colors are incredibly cheap. So if you can use these cheaper products and still have the gumption to market your company as all-natural – cha-ching.
Here’s how Willa put it to one little girl:

Here at we’re not so sure. Click here for more of’s coverage of Willagirls’ claims.



Documents Suggest a Close Working Relationship Between NSA, US Companies

Documents describe “contractual relationships” between NSA and US companies, as well as undercover operatives at some US companies


Newly disclosed National Security Agency documents suggest a closer relationship between American companies and the spy agency than have been previously disclosed.

The documents, published last week by The Intercept, describe "contractual relationships" between the NSA and U.S. companies, as well as the fact that the NSA has "under cover" spies working at or with some U.S. companies.

While not conclusive, the material includes some clear suggestions that at least some American companies are quite willing to help the agency conduct its massive surveillance programs.

The precise role of U.S. companies in the NSA's global surveillance operations remains unclear. Documents obtained by Edward Snowden and published by various news organizations show that companies have turned over their customers' email, phone calling records and other data under court orders. But the level of cooperation beyond those court orders has been an open question, with several leading companies, such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, asserting that they only turn over customer information that is "targeted and specific" in response to legal demands.

The documents do not identify any specific companies as collaborating with the NSA. The references are part of an inventory of operations, of which the very "fact that" they exist is classified information. These include the:

Contractual Relationships (pg 7)


"SIGINT" in NSA jargon is signals intelligence, the intercepting of data and voice communications. According to the document, "contractual relationships" can mean that U.S. companies deliberately insert "backdoors" or other vulnerabilities that the NSA then uses to access communications. The existence of deals to build these backdoors is secret:

Backdoors in US Encryption Systems (pg 9)

The NSA's efforts to break encryption and establish backdoors were disclosed last year, but left open the possibility that the companies didn't know about the activities. This new disclosure makes clear that some of those relationships are cooperative.

The documents also describe a program codenamed Whipgenie. Its purpose is to safeguard one of the NSA's most important secrets, the "relationships" between "U.S. Corporate partners" and the agency division that taps fiber optic cables. It refers to the dealings with U.S. companies as ECI — exceptionally controlled information: It says:

Whipgenie (pg 3)


The Whipgenie document details one company's involvement in "domestic wire access collection" – an apparent reference to eavesdropping inside the United States. Under current law, such surveillance is only allowed after the government obtains a court order. But the document said that at least one "Corporate Partner" was involved in a "cooperative effort" to break into U.S. communications. This information, it says, is itself classified and should be closely guarded:

The Whipgenie document makes clear that the program being shielded from public view involves data that moves through the United States. (Emails and other information from one foreign address to another frequently hopscotch across international borders as companies use the cheapest routing for traffic.) The document tells NSA officials that they should protect:

Whipgenie collecting US communications (pg 7)

In 2008, Congress authorized the agency to collect information that traveled through the United States. But the agency is supposed to discard entirely domestic communications that it picks up "incidentally."

A draft document indicates that the NSA targets U.S. manufacturers of commercial equipment used for communications. The document obliquely refers to covert operations by NSA agents aimed at what is termed "specific commercial entities." Those companies are identified in the document only by the letters: A, B, and C.

NSA going under cover in US companies (pg 7)

Sentry Owl, the program that protects this particular bit of spying, is among the most closely guarded secrets in the intelligence community. Documents describe it as "Exceptionally Controlled Information" that can only be disclosed to "a very few select" people in government.

Select U.S. Government Individuals (pg 1)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers, who head the congressional intelligence oversight committees, did not respond to requests for comment on whether they had been briefed on the program. Sen. Ron Wyden, an outspoken critic of NSA activities that impact U.S. residents, also declined to comment.

In a statement, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said NSA surveillance is authorized by law and subject to multiple layers of oversight. She added: "It should come as no surprise that NSA conducts targeted operations to counter increasingly agile adversaries."

For more coverage, read ProPublica's previous reporting on the NSA's efforts to break encryption, our NSA Programs Chart and the agency's spying operations on cell phone apps.




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