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- 10/15/18--16:39: _'Fortnite' is getti...
- 10/15/18--16:41: _Jeff Bezos: Today's...
- 10/15/18--17:06: _Apple design guru J...
- 10/15/18--17:17: _The Facebook hack t...
- 10/15/18--17:39: _18 software stocks ...
- 10/15/18--17:56: _Here's the long-los...
- 10/15/18--18:11: _Trump scores a 'tot...
- 10/15/18--18:15: _Salesforce CEO Marc...
- 10/15/18--18:52: _Jeff Sessions just ...
- 10/15/18--19:16: _Morgan Stanley pred...
- 10/15/18--19:18: _Google cloud boss D...
- 10/15/18--19:51: _Extreme weather cou...
- 10/15/18--20:27: _New York went an en...
- 10/15/18--20:56: _Aaron Rodgers and t...
- 10/15/18--21:12: _Trump is already sw...
- 10/15/18--21:50: _Google CEO Sundar P...
- 10/16/18--11:24: _6 warning signs an ...
- 10/16/18--11:24: _Fender has discover...
- 10/16/18--11:24: _One of Republicans'...
- 10/16/18--11:28: _Walmart says it wil...
- "Fortnite: Battle Royale" is adding tournaments to its roster of in-game events.
- Tournaments will have different formats spanning several days; players earn points based on performance and will be matched up with others at their skill level as the tournament progresses.
- "Fortnite" developer Epic Games eventually plans to use the tournament mode to award prizes and help players qualify for more exclusive competitions.
- "Fortnite" is currently in the middle of the Fall Skirmish, a competition among 500 top players, with a $1.1 million prize pool.
- Epic Games has committed $100 million in funding for "Fortnite" competitions during the 2018-19 season.
- At the Wired 25 conference on Monday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos weighed in on the current state of social media.
- "I worry that some of these technologies will be very useful to autocratic regimes to enforce their will," Bezos said.
- He also said, "the Internet in its current incarnation is a confirmation bias machine."
- Still, Bezos believes the problems facing social media are common to other technologies in their early stages and progress should not be halted.
- Apple's chief design offer Jony Ive says "it would be bizarre" for Apple not to be secretive.
- The British-born exec spoke at a conference about why the Cupertino, California tech giant jealously guards its secrets.
- Facebook's motto is no longer "Move Fast and Break Things," but the results of that mentality still linger.
- What Facebook didn't realize is that moving fast can break things other than software code; it can undermine society and even, in the extreme, lead to deaths.
- The influence of the motto at the company can be seen in everything from the Russia-linked 2016 election manipulation operation to the recent hacking scandal that exposed the personal information of 30 million users.
- But the danger and consequences of the Move Fast motto go well beyond Facebook, because the mentality was adopted far and wide and is still being promoted today.
- We're going to be living with the aftermath of the Move Fast mentality for years to come.
- Hackers stole millions of Facebook users’ personal data — here’s why you should be worried
- Google’s recent behavior shows the troubling reality of an internet superpower that abandoned its vow to not 'be evil'
- Tech's diversity problem is even bigger than we realized — here's why that's so bad for the next generation of startups
- Facebook’s privacy 'bait and switch' confirms your worst fears about its unstoppable advertising impulses
- Jeff Bezos asked a reporter to watch a PBS special from 1975 before agreeing to be interviewed about Blue Origin, his rocket company.
- The special, featuring famed science fiction author Isaac Asimov and physicist Gerard O'Neill, discusses the need for humanity to leave Earth — something Bezos says he believes with "increasing certainty."
- You can watch the whole video below.
- President Donald Trump's attorneys scored a victory in court when a federal judge dismissed adult-film actress Stormy Daniels' defamation lawsuit against Trump.
- Daniels was also ordered to pay Trump's legal fees.
- Daniels, who says she had an affair with Trump in 2006, sued him in April after he disputed her claim that she was being threatened by a unidentified man in 2011 as "a total con job."
- The unidentified man allegedly warned her not to publicize her purported sexual affair with Trump.
- Michael Avenatti, who represents Daniels, said he would appeal the decision.
- On Monday, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff admonished San Francisco business leaders who are unwilling to give to aid the city's homeless.
- Just last week, Benioff sparred on social media with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey over Proposition C, a measure to be voted on in the upcoming San Francisco election that would raise a certain tax on large companies to help the city deal with its homelessness problem.
- "You’re either for the homeless and for the kids and for the hospitals, or you’re for yourself. You can decide who you’re for, and it’s really that simple," Benioff said.
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new transnational organized-crime task force on Monday. It's part of the Trump administration's crackdown on crime that has been one of its priorities since President Donald Trump took office.
- The Justice Department, following Trump's lead, has intensified its efforts against the transnational gang MS-13, which started in the US and is now based in Central America.
- Sessions designated the group a priority for the department's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.
- Subcommittees within the new task force will focus on the five groups named by those officials.
- According to a new report from analysts at Morgan Stanley, Disney's upcoming streaming service will gain over 20 million subscribers by 2024.
- The analysts projected the service to be profitable in 2026, and noted the service will be "more modest" than Netflix in its scope of content and spending.
- The live-action 'Star Wars' TV show is officially called 'The Mandalorian'
- Disney is reportedly developing Marvel TV shows for its upcoming streaming service
- Disney's Scarlet Witch TV show could finally introduce the X-Men to the MCU
- A potential TV show gives new life to a popular theory that Loki didn't die in 'Avengers: Infinity War'
- Disney's upcoming streaming service likely won't have its full catalog at launch, notably lacking classic 'Star Wars' movies
- Diane Greene, Google cloud chief, will not attend an investment event in Saudi Arabia.
- Greene is the latest US business leader to pull out of the event following the disappearance of a dissident Saudi journalist.
- Greene's decision not to attend the conference comes following a year whe Google has tried to build closer ties to the Saudi government.
- Researchers have uncovered a link between severe weather conditions, such as extreme drought or heat, and the global consumption of beer.
- Rising global temperatures could hinder the production of barley — the main ingredient in beer.
- Without enough supply to meet demand, the world could face a 16% decline in global beer consumption, with beer prices skyrocketing across nations.
- New York City had its first weekend without a shooting or a homicide in 25 years, the New York Police Department said on Monday.
- The last Friday-Saturday-Sunday time period during which no shootings occurred across all five of New York City's Burroughs happened in 1993.
- Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers pulled off yet another two-minute comeback on Monday night to beat the San Francisco 49ers.
- Rodgers and company would put up 10 points in the final two minutes of the game to take a 33-30 win into the bye week.
- Kicker Mason Crosby shook off a brutal outing last Sunday to send the game-winning kick through the uprights as time expired.
- 10/15/18--21:12: Trump is already swimming in cash for his 2020 reelection campaign
- President Donald Trump has raised at least $106 million for his reelection campaign since the start of his presidency in January 2017.
- In just this past quarter, Trump has pulled down more than $18 million.
- Trump's campaign may have raised more money, but it has also spent more than twice as much in the last three months.
- At a tech gathering in San Francisco on Monday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai remarked on an internal protest that rattled the company earlier this year.
- The protest stemmed from opposition over the company's work on a military project.
- Pichai downplayed the influence those demonstrations had on management decisions.
- He also said Google will work with the US armed forces in the future and "greatly respects what they do to protect our country."
- 10/16/18--11:24: 6 warning signs an investment is too good to be true
- Investing always involves a bit of risk — but it can feel especially risky if you're new to investing.
- Investment is often based on trust and research, but that doesn't make an investor immune to investment fraud.
- An investment may be too good to be true if a broker is trying to hype things up, you have to borrow money to afford the investment, you're unable to cash out, the investment is unregistered and too sophisticated, or if returns seem exceptionally high.
- Fender partnered with a research consultancy and a neuroscientist to learn about guitar players.
- The results of that research suggest that playing guitar could contribute to well-being.
- A surprising number of new guitar players have no rock-star ambitions whatsoever.
- Fender has also gathered interesting data from its Fender Play online learning system, which launched last year.
- The Treasury Department reported that the budget deficit grew to $779 billion in fiscal 2018.
- A primary reason for the increase in the deficit was a decrease in revenue due to the GOP tax law.
- The evidence so far contradicts Republicans leaders and the Trump administration's argument that the tax law would pay for itself.
- While there may still be a revenue boost from the law, the early returns do not look encouraging, and most forecasters expect the deficit to grow.
- Walmart is looking to save millions of dollars by making slight tweaks in its stores.
- CFO and executive vice president Brett Biggs announced that the retail chain planned to replace all of its fluorescent lights with LED lights over the next few years.
- He said that the swap would save Walmart $200 million over time.
- Biggs added that the chain was due to save $20 million a year just by switching the floor wax used in the stores.
"Fortnite: Battle Royale" will add a new tournament mode to the in-game events menu, giving players across all platforms a chance to play against each other in a competitive format. According to developer Epic Games, tournaments will be open to all players and will eventually be used to award prizes to top players and help them qualify for future "Fortnite" esports events.
Tournament competition takes place over the course over several days with different formats. Players will be awarded points based on how long they survive, and how many players they eliminate during each battle royale. Teams or individual players with high scores will be placed in matches with other high ranked players for a greater challenge, while those who struggle will be placed alongside beginners. Each tournament will have a target score and players who reach the target will earn an in-game pin to mark the achievement.
Tournaments will pit players from all platforms against each other, from PC to console to mobile devices, regardless of whether they use a regular controller, mouse & keyboard, or touchscreen controls. In the statement announcing in-game tournaments, Epic Games said that players will be on an even playing field regardless of what device or control scheme they prefer.
"We’ve been observing the performance of controller players in our Summer Skirmish, PAX West, and Fall Skirmish tournaments while playing against mouse and keyboard players at the highest levels of competition," the statement reads."Competitors such as NickMercs, Ayden, KamoLRF, and AmarCoD have shown that controller players can be successful while competing against some of the best PC players in the world."
Epic says that grouping everyone into a single competition group will increase visibility for the best players and help increase prize pools. They will continue to monitor competitive results and are already considering limiting some esports competitions to specific platforms or control devices in the future. The first in-game tournament will be a event for solo players running from October 16 to October 21, and the second will be a "duos" tournament for partners playing between October 23rd and October 25th.
"Fortnite" is also in the middle of its Fall Skirmish event, a series of weekly competitions with $10 million in prize money on the line. Epic invited 500 "Fortnite" players to compete in the event, dividing them into five different teams for the six-week skirmish season. The teams will split $4 million in prize money and players can earn points during skirmish events to improve their team's share. The rest of the $6 million prize pool is awarded to the winners of specific events each week.
The Fall Skirmish will conclude with a pair of in-person tournaments at TwitchCon 2018, held at the end of October. The first will be an open duos competition with a prize pool of more than $1.1 million split between the top 50 teams; the winning team will receive $400,000. The second competition will be an invitational event for 50 Fortnite content creators and 50 random TwitchCon attendees with another $350,000 in prize money.
You can watch the Fall Skirmish events each week on the official Fortnite Twitch channel. Nearly 80 million people played Fortnite during the month of August, and new content was recently released for season 6 of the game. Epic plans to invest $100 million in prize money for the 2018-19 competitive season, which will include the 2019 Fortnite World Cup.
After touting his space tourism mission (now set for 2019) and defending Amazon's work with the US Department of Defense, Jeff Bezos also weighed in on the current state of social media and the internet in general on Monday.
"I think the Internet in its current incarnation is a confirmation bias machine," the Amazon CEO said. "I worry that some of these technologies will be very useful to autocratic regimes to enforce their will."
Bezos, who was interviewed at the Wired 25 conference in San Francisco, California, thinks the problems with social media are worrisome, but similar to other technologies in their early phases.
"Having technology that increases confirmation bias probably isn’t good. It is going to lead to more tribalism," he said. "The book was invented and people could write really evil books and lead bad revolutions with them. And create fascists empires with books. It doesn’t mean the book is bad. Society develops an immune response eventually to the bad uses of new technology, but it takes time."
In Bezos' view, the current problems with social media — especially the issue of identity politics — will be corrected for over time and are worth the pains of today.
"A bunch of things are going to happen that we aren’t going to like that come out of technology but that’s not new. That’s always been the case. And we will figure it out," he said. "The last thing we’d ever want to do is stop the progress of new technologies."
NOW WATCH: Apple's entire iPhone XS event in 8 minutes
Apple is famously, insanely secretive — and according to its head design guru, that's because it'd be weird not to be.
On Monday, Apple's chief design officer Jony Ive appeared at the Wired 25 conference in San Francisco, California, where he was interviewed by legendary fashion journalist Anna Wintour, who probed Apple's urge for secrecy.
"I actually think it would be bizarre not to be," Ive said. "I don't know many creatives who want to talk about what they're doing when they're halfway through it."
Wintour interjected: "Really? Then I obviously know very different people."
Apple jealously guards its secrets, tightly keeping its unannounced products under wraps and hiring an army of ex-NSA agents to police its workforce for leakers. Its practices have since become a model for other tech companies looking to emulate the Apple magic — to greater or lesser degrees of success.
Ive frames this urge towards confidentiality as necessary to not add "noise" to the process.
"I know lots of PR departments who want to talk about something that’s been worked on," he said. "I’ve been doing this long enough where I actually feel a responsibility to not confuse or add more noise about what’s being worked on because I know that sometimes it doesn’t work out.
"I think its just in our nature when were working on a difficult problem — and so many of the problems we’re working on now are so complex — it just seems rather odd to be telling everyone what you’re doing."
It's been four years since Facebook ditched the latter part of its "Move Fast and Break Things" motto, but we're still uncovering its consequences and experiencing its aftermath.
(In case you're curious: the mantra was phased out in 2014, and semi-seriously replaced with "Move Fast with Stable Infra," as in computing infrastructure.)
The hacking attack Facebook discovered recently is only the latest outgrowth of that mantra. But you can see its lingering effects in basically all of the company's scandals and fiascos over the last two years, including the Cambridge Analytica debacle and the Russian-linked propaganda effort during the 2016 election.
But what makes it so dangerous is that you can find the effects of that motto far afield from Facebook. That's because from that company it quickly became the mantra of Silicon Valley. It's been imbued in the culture and in the way the tech industry as a whole has developed products for much of the last decade.
You can detect its influence in everything from Uber's numerous scandals to Google's recently acknowledged security hole in its Google+ social network. And because of its pervasiveness, we're certain to see its effects in many more fiascos to come.
The hacking incident, though, was a particularly bad manifestation of it.
Facebook has shown it doesn't care about "breaking" users' privacy
As the company revealed on Friday, in the attack, hackers gained access to the personal data of some 30 million users. For nearly of those affected, the compromised data included when they were born, where they had physically been recently, where they went to school, and whether they had worked.
What makes the attack worrisome is that such information is a goldmine for scammers. It can be used to steal consumer's identifies and gain access to their financial and other sensitive accounts.
The hacking attack was the result of a vulnerability that dates back more than a year. The vulnerability in turn was the outgrowth of three separate bugs that were at least that old, if not older. Facebook discovered the vulnerability — and the underlying bugs — only after hackers started exploiting it last month.
The vulnerability emerged years after Facebook dropped the "and break things" part of its famous motto. But the company's apparently unwitting creation of the hole, and its failure to detect it before the vulnerability was exploited, indicates that it was operating under the same mentality.
Facebook, after all, was founded and built — and its business model depends — on the attitude that users' private data is a commodity to be exploited. While it may worry more than in the past about "breaking things" when it moves fast, it has shown repeatedly that users' privacy is very far down the list of things it's concerned about messing up.
Even now, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, when it's supposedly turned a new leaf on privacy, it still collects more information than it arguably needs and uses that information in ways of which users likely aren't aware. Just recently, for example, researchers discovered that the company was surreptitiously using phone numbers users gave it for security purposes to target them with ads.
The "Move Fast" mentality led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal
But you can find the effects of the company's "Move Fast and Break Things" motto far beyond the latest security hack. The Cambridge Analytica scandal — which compromised the data of some 87 million users — was an outgrowth of that mentality. The company shared data about its users with developers without worrying about the potential consequences or downsides of doing that and without bothering to check — until after the fiasco — if the developers' use of the data was on the up and up.
Amid that scandal, Facebook revealed another hack, one that affected far more people — up to half of its 2 billion user base — through which malicious actors were able to scrape user profile information via a search tool. Again, the company had introduced a new feature without thinking through how it could be used in a malign way and without taking steps to prevent that use until it was too late.
And then there's the spread of fake news and propaganda via Facebook, from the Russian-linked effort during the 2016 US presidential election to the campaign against Myanmar's Rohingya minority. As has been made clear in the wake of those and other scandals, the company built a system that could quickly and efficiently spread information among groups of like-minded people without worrying about how that system could be hijacked by people with bad intentions.
It's one thing if what gets broken when Facebook moves fast is some feature on the site. But the company is no longer a small startup with a tiny user base. When it screws something up, the effects can be deadly.
Facebook finally seems to be starting to grapple with the aftereffects of its erstwhile motto — or at least the public relations damage it's recently led to. Among other things, it's introduced new privacy controls, changed the way its News Feed works to promote posts from users' friends rather than from publishers, and started investigating what developer did with users' data.
"Move Fast and Break Things" is now the motto of Silicon Valley
But even if Facebook succeeds in heading off future harms from its service, the consequences of its motto are likely to live with us for years to come. That's because the "Move Fast and Break Things" mantra was embraced far and wide in the tech industry.
Entrepreneurs and startups, venture capitalists and other investors, and the tech giants have all espoused it in some form or another. Tech industry trade groups such as the Consumer Technology Association and libertarian think tanks such as the Mercatus Center have touted the philosophy as part of the notion of "permissionless innovation." Even right now, when the drawbacks of the Move Fast mentality have become all too clear, LinkedIn founder Reed Hoffman is touting a new book promoting the idea, calling it "blitzscaling."
Because it's been so widely embraced, standards have arguably fallen everywhere. Those that haven't immediately adopted the Move Fast motto have been pressured to do so at the risk of being left behind by their peers. If your rivals aren't worrying about the aftereffects of the technology they create or the business methods they adopt but instead are charging ahead to seize as much of the market as quickly as they can, you're going to do the same — damn the consequences.
Just as has happened with Facebook, that mentality is starting to catch up with other tech companies and with society, particularly as the companies have become bigger. Facebook wasn't the only service that has been hijacked to spread propaganda during the 2016 election; Google and Twitter were too. And Facebook isn't the only company that recently acknowledged a privacy compromising security flaw; Google did also, with it its Google+ service.
We're seeing the consequences all over
In many cases, thanks to the Move Fast mantra, tech companies have created services that even they don't have a handle on. Take Google-owned YouTube. Numerous times last year, it was found to be distributing and promoting disturbing videos to children. YouTube repeatedly vowed to address the problem, and it repeatedly failed.
In other cases, under the Move Fast mentality, tech companies have flaunted local laws and local sensibilities in their rush to seize local markets. Uber and Lyft were notorious for this, but so too, more recently, were scooter rental companies such as Lime and Bird.
And what was broken in those cases weren't just ordinances that arguably protected the entrenched taxi industry. Uber and Lyft have contributed to increased traffic and massively depressed the wages of taxi drivers, while scooters have ended up blocking sidewalks and entryways, causing an uproar among non-scooter using citizens.
As we've seen repeatedly, when you're moving fast, you don't have any time for reflection. You don't have time to think about what, exactly, you might be breaking or the larger social consequences of what you're doing. And there's even less time for public officials or the rest of society to catch up and keep an eye on things — even though real people outside the company may and have been harmed.
"Move Fast and Break Things" has spurred innovation at Facebook and in Silicon Valley. But that consequence-free, "permissionless" innovation mindset has real costs that we'll be paying for a long time to come.
Tech stocks took a beating in last week's market-wide sell off.
But one Wall Street analyst thinks a special breed of software companies are well positioned to withstand choppy stock market conditions.
In a note published Sunday, Evercore ISI analyst Kirk Materne flagged a group of software companies and compared them to February 2016 levels — that's when the stock market reached a short-lived low point amid uncertainty and fear.
"We believe that when it comes to software investing, times of macro stress and market volatility have usually ended up being good buying opportunities," Materne wrote, adding that investors who look past the "noise in prior crises have generally been rewarded," three to six months later.
The key? Many companies in the software sector have built businesses based on recurring revenue, giving the businesses a "durability" that's now well-understood by investors, Materne wrote.. The top 25 software companies today have 69% of their revenue from recurring business customers, compared to 42% 10 years ago, he said.
Materne highlighted software companies with estimated growth of more than 20% in the upcoming years. Those stocks tend to have an enterprise value of around 5x their revenue. And as their revenues grow, so will their valuations.
Here are 18 high-growth software companies to keep on your radar:
Analysts expect Carbon Black (CBLK), which went public this year, to grow its revenues by 22.7% in 2019 and 24.3% in 2020. Its enterprise value— a slightly different figure from market capitalization — is 2.6x its estimated revenue over the next twelve months. Materne thinks that multiple could reasonably grow to 5x.
Box (BOX) has had a rough time on the stock market in recent months, and is trading down 10% from a year ago, but its revenues are still slated to grow 20.9% and 17.7% in 2019 and 2020, respectively. The company's enterprise value is 3.7x its estimated revenue over the next twelve months, and Materne thinks it could reasonably grow to a 5x multiple.
Rapid7 (RPD) is up 80% from where it traded a year ago. With 20% revenue growth expected in 2019 and 22.3% growth expected in 2020, the company could continue to see its valuation grow. Its enterprise valuation is curretly 5.2x its estimated revenue over the next twelve months
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
It's no secret that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has always looked to the stars — after all, Amazon's Alexa was designed with the intention of becoming like the all-knowing ship's computer from "Star Trek."
Now, a new feature from Wired sheds a lot more light on Blue Origin, the private spaceflight company that Bezos has described as his most important venture, more so than Amazon or the Washington Post. Indeed, Bezos sells $1 billion per year in Amazon stock just to fund Blue Origin's operations.
Notably, Bezos put one condition on his interview with Wired: Steven Levy, the reporter, would have to watch a black-and-white PBS program from 1975 before he would agree to discuss Blue Origin. In the special, believed lost to the ages until recently, famed science fiction author Isaac Asimov and physicist Gerard O'Neill discuss the need for humanity to spread beyond Earth — a notion that Bezos tells Wired he believes with "increasing certainty."
You can watch the thirty-minute video yourself here:
The video was apparently unearthed and uploaded to YouTube by the Space Studies Institute, which was founded by O'Neill — a highly influential voice in Bezos' life. The video, according to SSI, was "discovered in a crumpled box in the dark back of a storage locker in New Jersey" by one of its employees.
Bezos was so obsessed with O'Neill's vision of the future that Bezos' valedictorian graduation speech was about how he looked forward to seeing millions of people live among the stars. "Space, the final frontier, meet me there!" Bezos concluded, according to "The Space Barons," a book by Christian Davenport.
Meanwhile, Asimov was also an inspiration of a different sort to Elon Musk, whose SpaceX is something of a rival to Blue Origin. Musk has widely credited Asimov's classic novel "Foundation," which also deals with a humanity that has outgrown Earth, with inspiring his own efforts.
What's in the interview
In his book "The High Frontier," O'Neill wrote about a televised interview with author Isaac Asimov. During the program, Asimov explained why sci-fi writers tend to place civilizations on the surface of a planet instead of in space itself.
"The anecdote is legendary in the Space Community. With no known copies of the show, it became almost mythical," the Space Studies Institute (SSI) wrote in a preamble to the full program. "For the first time since its original 1975 broadcast, here is the complete presentation."
"It's possible to have a rapid growth of wealth and productivity, and living space and comfortable living conditions for people, not on the Earth, and not on another planetary surface — the moon or Mars or anything like that — but rather in habitats which are built in free space ... at a distance from here which is similar to the distance to the moon" O'Neill said in the program.
"It's possible to make habitats which are relatively big — big enough to be very Earth-like — out of ordinary materials like steel and aluminum and glass. And it's possible to find those materials in very large quantities on the surface of the moon and eventually in the asteroids."
During the show, which was hosted by journalist Harold Hayes, O'Neill showed a drawing of a rotating, half-mile-long cylinder and space colony he called "Model 1" built from 98% lunar materials. But O'Neill also described much larger space colonies on the show.
"Model 4 could be something as big as perhaps five to 10 miles in diameter, perhaps as much as 20 or 30 miles long, within the limits of available materials," O'Neill said. O'Neill said he got the idea in 1969 while teaching a physics course to 320 college freshman. He pulled aside a handful of the top students in the class, then — together — they came up with the concept.
After O'Neill spoke, Asimov pointed out that it's much easier to move raw building materials off of the moon than Earth, at least in theory, since the moon has a much weaker gravity field.
Hayes then asked Asimov if the author — in his then-158 works of science fiction — had ever anticipated building such colonies in space. That's when Asimov responded with his "legendary" line.
"Nobody did, really, because we've all been planet chauvinists. We've all believed people should live on the surface of a planet, of a world. I've had colonies on the moon — so have a hundred other science fiction writers," Asimov said. "The closest I came to a manufactured world in free space was to suggest that we go out to the Asteroid Belt and hollow out the asteroids, and make ships out of them. It never occurred to me to bring the material from the asteroids in towards the Earth, where conditions are pleasanter, and build the worlds there."
NOW WATCH: Apple's entire iPhone XS event in 8 minutes
President Donald Trump's attorneys scored a victory in court when a federal judge dismissed adult-film actress Stormy Daniels' defamation lawsuit against Trump on First Amendment grounds and ordered her to pay his legal fees.
"No amount of spin or commentary by Stormy Daniels or her lawyer, Mr. Avenatti, can truthfully characterize today's ruling in any way other than total victory for President Trump and total defeat for Stormy Daniels," Charles Harder, an attorney for Trump, said in a statement to Business Insider.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued Trump in April after he described her allegations of being threatened by a unidentified man in 2011 as a "a total con job." Daniels, who claimed she had a sexual affair with Trump in 2006, alleged that a man accosted her in a parking and told her to "leave Trump alone."
"Mr. Trump used his national and international audience of millions of people to make a false factual statement to denigrate and attack Ms. Clifford," the federal court complaint said at the time.
Harder argued that Trump's statement ought to be considered protected speech, and that Daniels did not identify specific damages.
"The Court agrees with Mr. Trump's argument because the tweet in question constitutes 'rhetorical hyperbole' normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States," US District Court Judge Otero said in his opinion. "The First Amendment protects this type of rhetorical statement."
Michael Avenatti, the attorney for Daniels, said in a statement that he would appeal the decision and that her lawsuits against Trump and Michael Cohen, Trump's former longtime attorney, would "proceed unaffected."
"Trump's contrary claims are as deceptive as his claims about the inauguration attendance," Avenatti said in a tweet on Monday. "We will appeal the dismissal of the defamation cause of action and are confident in a reversal."
NOW WATCH: Inside the Trump 'MAGA' hat factory
On Monday, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff had sharp words for San Francisco CEOs who aren't helping with the city's homelessness problem, just days after a heated exchange of tweets with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
"I know if we’re going to raise money for our schools, our hospitals, our homeless, our NGOs, there is a group of people in the city who are willing to give, and there is a group of people in the city who give nothing," Benioff said on stage at the Wired 25 conference, answering a question from interviewer Adam Rogers of Wired about his dissent from Dorsey.
"So you’re in two buckets. You’re either for the homeless and for the kids and for the hospitals, or you’re for yourself. You can decide who you’re for, and it’s really that simple."
Benioff and Dorsey got into this Twitter spat last week over Proposition C, a measure on the upcoming San Francisco city ballot that would raise a certain tax on large companies to aid the city in tackling its growing homelessness problem. The two San Francisco tech giants debated the measure, with Benioff challenging Dorsey to list his charitable giving in the city, though they later spoke on the phone to patch things up, Dorsey tweeted.
When Rogers said at the conference that he loved the idea of taxing billionaires, Benioff agreed. Benioff has a net worth of $6.1 billion, according to Forbes.
Benioff said at the Wired 25 conference that he had spoken to "every high net worth individual in the city," and he knows who's willing to give money and who isn't. "I already have the lists," he said.
Not long after Benioff left the stage, Dorsey took his own turn in the spotlight at Wired 25. However, Dorsey wasn't asked about Proposition C or Benioff's comments, nor did he offer his own thoughts.
Below is the tweet that started it all.
Homelessness is all of our responsibility which is why we are supporting Prop C @OurHomeSF. Together, as one San Francisco, we can take on our city’s most complex & difficult problems. As SF’s largest employer we recognize we are part of the solution. https://t.co/TOVCC1zPZG— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) October 9, 2018
You can watch Benioff's full interview here:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new transnational organized-crime task force on Monday, furthering a crackdown on crime that he said has been a Trump administration priority since Day 1.
"The same day I was sworn in as attorney general, President Trump ordered me to disrupt and dismantle these groups," Sessions said in remarks delivered in Washington, DC.
The Justice Department, following Trump's lead, has intensified its efforts against the transnational gang MS-13, which started in the US and is now based in Central America. Sessions designated the group a priority for the department's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which he said had been able to hit it "from all angles."
Sessions directed that task force, as well as Justice Department officials, the FBI, and the Drug Enforcement Administration to name the top transnational criminal groups threatening the US. Subcommittees within the new task force will focus on the five groups named by those officials.
"I have ordered each of these subcommittees to provide me with specific recommendations within 90 days on the best ways to prosecute these groups and ultimately take them off of our streets," Sessions said.
Below, you can see the five groups on which the Justice Department's new task force will focus.
Trump has inveighed against MS-13 throughout his time in office.
Often calling its members "animals," Trump has claimed MS-13 has turned US communities "into blood-stained killing fields," accused child migrants of being members (though the number of unaccompanied minors with suspected links to the gang is minuscule), and falsely claimed to have seen ICE agents "liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13."
The gang started among migrants from Central America, El Salvador in particular, who fled civil wars in the 1970s and 1980s. Many of them ended up in Southern California, where, without family networks or other connections, they gravitated toward gangs.
Deportations returned many members to their home countries in the 1990s and 2000s, where the gang blossomed in the post-conflict environment.
The gang's influence has since spread throughout the region, including to the US, where it often carries out extortion, robberies, and other crimes in areas with large migrant communities, like the Washington, DC, suburbs or Suffolk County on Long Island.
Though MS-13 members have committed particularly heinous crimes, experts have said the Trump administration misunderstands the reach and power the gang.
"Our research found that MS-13 is hardly a lucrative network of criminal masterminds," Steven Dudley, a senior fellow at the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University, wrote earlier this year. "Instead, it is a loose coalition of young, often formerly incarcerated men operating hand to mouth across a vast geographic territory."
The Jalisco New Generation cartel, or CJNG
The Mexican organized-crime group CJNG is the youngest group on the list compiled by the Justice Department. It is believed to have sprung from one faction of the Sinaloa cartel, which is also on the list, around 2010.
Based in the southwest state of Jalisco, the CJNG has grown rapidly since then, expanding throughout the country. It often violently forces out competitors and has corrupted numerous law-enforcement officials.
It has focused on synthetic drugs like crystal meth, and it has helped push up homicide rates along Mexico's Pacific coast, fighting for control of ports needed to bring in precursor chemicals needed to make those drugs. The CJNG has expanded into other criminal enterprises; in some parts of Mexico it is believed to be fighting for a piece of the lucrative oil-theft trade.
Perhaps the group's most high-profile crime was shooting down a Mexican army helicopter over Jalisco in May 2015. The shoot-down killed six soldiers, who were among 15 people killed in wave of violence in the state that day. (Mexican authorities said earlier this year they caught the suspects responsible for bringing down the helicopter.)
In the years since, the CJNG and its leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, aka "El Mencho," have become high-profile targets. The capture of a number of CJNG financial operators, including the wife of "El Mencho," in recent years likely indicates Mexican authorities are trying to go after the gang's money. (Though the wife was released on bail in September.)
The group also appears to be facing competition at home. A group called the Nueva Plaza cartel, believed to be led by a one-time confidant of Oseguera, is thought to be challenging it on its home turf in Guadalajara, with backing from groups like the Sinaloa cartel.
The Sinaloa cartel
Over the past two decades, the Sinaloa cartel has risen to the top of Mexico's narco hierarchy, operating throughout the country and around the world, linking coca fields in South America and drug labs in Mexico to consumers in the US, Europe, and parts of Asia.
Formed in the western state of the same name, the Sinaloa cartel emerged in the 1990s, after the breakup of the powerful Guadalajara cartel. Led by cartel chief Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the Sinaloa cartel muscled rivals out of valuable territories, including cities bordering the US.
In the process, the cartel helped stoke dizzying bloodshed in Mexico, making its cities some of the most violent in the world.
The cartel's outlook has been cloudy since Guzman's January 2016 arrest, which came about six months after he broke out of jail for the second time. Rumors of a looming third breakout appeared to be snuffed out in January 2017, when Mexican officials whisked him to New York and turned him over to the US.
Since then, the Sinaloa cartel appeared ready to crack up. Guzman's sons and presumed heirs to the cartel were kidnapped by rivals in late 2016, and in early 2017 they were challenged by Guzman's former right-hand man and his son.
But Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, a shadowy cartel chieftain who helped form the group with Guzman and is backing Guzman's sons, appears to have reestablished some of the cartel's "cohesion" and avoided a major fracture.
The Sinaloa cartel is better understood as an alliance of factions rather than a hierarchical cartel — a organizational structure that is believed to give it some resiliency in the face of law-enforcement pressure.
With Guzman absent, the group is believed to have continued operating with a lower profile, led by experienced smugglers like Zambada. A sophisticated narco tunnel — a smuggling method pioneered by the Sinaloans— was recently discovered in Tijuana, where the group is still active despite a challenge from the CJNG.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
With a library full of Marvel, Star Wars, and other beloved franchises, Disney is expected to be a major force in the streaming wars when it launches its own service late next year.
A new report from analysts at Morgan Stanley, led by Benjamin Swinburne, estimated the service will gain around 23 million subscribers by 2024, and between 40-45 million by 2028. Based on an expected monthly subscription price of $9 at launch, which could increase to $13 by 2028, the analysts predicted the service will be profitable in 2026.
The analysts wrote that they saw the Disney service becoming a $6-billion-plus business, "with stand-alone EBIT profitability achieved in 2026E."
Disney would have been a formidable player in the streaming game even without the Fox merger, but the analysis was made with the assumption that the Disney-Fox deal will be completed as planned. Last week, 21st Century Fox president Peter Rice told Variety that the deal is expected to close by January 1, at which point Disney will own Fox's film studio and other assets. That means that Disney will own Fox's Marvel superhero properties the X-Men and Fantastic Four, as well as other franchises like "Avatar" and "Alien."
The Morgan Stanley report noted that Disney's service will be "more modest" in its scope of content and spending than its primary competition, Netflix. Netflix made it a goal this year to have 1,000 original shows and movies by year's end, and spent an estimated $8 billion to do so. The analysis estimated Netflix to have 227 million subscribers by 2022 compared to the 117 million it had last year.
But that doesn't mean that Disney isn't dropping big bucks on the service. Morgan Stanley expects Disney to spend nearly $2 billion on content for the streaming service prior to its launch in 2019, and "could have 8-10 original TV series (including at least 2-3 high-profile series with larger budgets), 3-4 original films, as well as other original TV movies and short-form content ready to be released."
"The service is also expected to include library content from Disney Channel and a steady pipeline of recent
theatrical releases in the US following the expiration of its Netflix pay-1 deal in calendar 2018," the analysts added.
Netflix won't be Disney's only competition, though. AT&T, which now owns Time Warner, announced last week that it will launch its own streaming service next year that will include HBO. Amazon is developing a pricey "Lord of the Rings" TV series, and Hulu should never be counted out with a wide-range of content that includes the Emmy-winning "The Handmaid's Tale."
Read more of Business Insider's coverage on Disney's upcoming streaming service:
Google is the latest in a still growing number of US businesses to distance themselves from Saudi Arabia following accusations that the government there is behind the disappearance of a dissident journalist.
Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene was scheduled to speak at an investment event called the Future Investment Initiative, a conference sponsored by Saudi government, but has now dropped out.
“We can confirm Diane Greene will not be attending the FII Summit,” said a Google spokesperson in a written statement.
A cloud of suspicion has hung over the Saudi government ever since Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, a Saudi citizen, and a well-known critic of the government there, went missing on Oct. 2. The government of Turkey alleges it has proof that Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi embassy in Turkey. Saudi officials have denied it had anything to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance.
In response to the accusations, several high-profile tech leaders announced last week they had pulled out of the conference dubbed the "Davos in the Desert." Included among them are Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber's CEO, Steve Case, an AOL cofounder and venture capitalist, Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, and Andy Rubin, cofounder of Android and former Google executive.
The controversy comes at an awkward time for Google. The past year, the company has tried to strengthen ties with the Saudis. In April, Google's leaders met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. According to reports, they discussed cooperating on cloud computing services and the possibility of building a digital hub in Saudi Arabia.
Later that month, after the company reported earnings, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that Google would roll out cloud services in Saudi Arabia.
"Our global infrastructure continues to expand to support demand," Pichai told analysts on the call. "We commissioned three new sub sea cables and announced new regions in Canada, Japan, Netherlands and Saudi Arabia, bringing our total of recently launched and upcoming regions to 20."
Pulling out of the conference could conceivably harm Google's relationship with the crown prince, though had Greene attended, critics would have likely claimed that Google was once again at odds with the company’s values.
The situation shows just how hard it can be for Greene to build Google’s cloud business, and make up ground on two much larger rivals, Amazon AWS and Microsoft's Azure, while not running afoul of the company’s moral codes.
Earlier this year, after thousands of the company's employees rose up in protest, Google stopped working on a military program called Project Maven, an effort that used artificial intelligence to analyze drone surveillance footage.
The company also published a list of principles that would direct its use of AI in the future. Those principles appear to demand some sacrifice from the company. Last week, Google said it would not bid on a $10 billion Pentagon contract due to potential conflicts with the AI principles.
Amazon is currently the favorite to win the contract. And Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took a veiled shot at Google at a conference in San Francisco on Monday: "If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the US Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble," he said.
Rising global temperatures affect not only our safety but what we eat and drink as well.
In recent years, scientists have uncovered a link between climate change and our consumption of popular items like wine and coffee. Now, a coming study from the University of East Anglia has found a link between extreme weather and how much beer we drink.
Instead of attempting to predict future events, the researchers asked themselves a question: What would happen to the beer industry tomorrow if it experienced the most severe form of drought or heat anticipated by scientists in the coming years?
According to the researchers, whose findings will appear in Nature Plants, these extreme weather conditions could spur a 16% decline in global beer consumption. That's equivalent to 29 billion liters, or the amount of beer consumed annually in the US.
The issue is one of supply, not demand. In the event of a modern climate-related disaster, farmers could have trouble producing barley — the main ingredient in beer.
That's bad news for the global beer market, which is predicted to reach $750 billion by 2022. It's also bad news for consumers, who could see beer prices double worldwide.
The effects would be particularly acute in China, the world's biggest beer consumer. If extreme heat or drought were to strike tomorrow, the nation could see its consumption decline by about 10%, or more than 12 billion cans of beer. By contrast, the US could see its consumption decline by up to 20%, or nearly 10 billion cans of beer.
The study predicts the largest price increases in affluent, beer-loving countries like Ireland, whose six-packs could cost an extra $21 each.
In addition to these economic effects, a global beer shortage may have social and political consequences. According to one of the study's authors, Dabo Guan, climate change could trigger a new kind of prohibition in which beer becomes a luxury good that's no longer available to the working class.
"We're not writing this piece to encourage people to drink more today than they would tomorrow," Guan said. "What we're saying is that ... if people still want to have a pint of beer while they watch football, we have to do something about climate change."
New York City had its first weekend without a shooting or a homicide in 25 years, the New York Police Department announced Monday.
"We went Friday, Saturday, Sunday without any shootings and homicides," NYPD Chief James O'Neill told reporters. "That's the first time in decades, and that's something not just the NYPD, but all New Yorkers can be proud of."
The last Friday-Saturday-Sunday time period during which no shootings occurred across all five of New York City's Burroughs happened in 1993.
In 2017, New York City saw fewer than 300 killings for the entire year, the New York Post reported at the end of December, marking the fewest of those crimes in nearly 70 years.
There were 292 murders in the New York City in 2017, down from the 334 murders that occurred in 2016.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio lauded the department for that in January: "No one believed it was possible to get under 300 murders,” he said, referring to the 2017 numbers. “The NYPD reached the goal that no one thought possible.”
For 2018, the number of murders in the nation's largest city is on the rise, The Wall Street Journal reported in June.
New York City saw 147 murders between January 1 and June 30, 2018, an 8% increase from the number of murders during the same time period last year, The Journal wrote, citing data compiled by the city.
Aaron Rodgers did it again.
Down a touchdown with just two minutes remaining against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night, Rodgers and the Packers put together two scoring drives to pull off yet another Lambeau miracle. If it was any other team, it would have been miraculous, but for the Packers, it was just another day on the job.
The comeback began with a two-minute drill from Rodgers and the Packers offense. Facing a 30-23 deficit with the ball at their own 40-yard line, the Rodgers marched Green Bay down the field for the game-tying score in just four plays, finding Davante Adams in the end zone on a beautiful throw.
On the ensuing possession, San Francisco 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard looked to take his team down the field for a game-winning score with just over a minute left in regulation. Instead, he got a bit too greedy, and made one of his few mistakes of the night, throwing up a 50/50 ball that was won by Packers corner Kevin King.
The interception meant that Rodgers would once again have a chance to win a game in walk-off fashion.
He did not disappoint.
With just 67 seconds and no timeouts, Rodgers got to work. The Packers comeback was almost cut short on the first series of the drive, but the home team was bailed out by an illegal contact penalty on Richard Sherman on third down.
On the same play, Rodgers had been taken down in the backfield, and looked a bit hobbled getting up, but on the very next snap, he would shake off whatever pain he was feeling and scramble for 21 yards. Rodgers would then throw 20-yard out routes to Equanimeous St. Brown and Adams on consecutive plays, setting up Mason Crosby for the game-winning kick.
Crosby was coming off of a rough week, having missed four field goals last Sunday against the Lions.
But by Monday night, he had shaken off any lingering doubts.
Ballgame. 33-30, Packers.
It's no wonder Rodgers is the highest-paid player in football.
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President Donald Trump raised over $100 million for his 2020 reelection campaign, an amount from the likes of which no US president since Ronald Reagan has seen at this point in their presidency, according to a Washington Post report published Monday.
Trump raised at least $106 million since the start of his presidency in January 2017 and more than $18 million this past quarter, The Post reported. Trump appears set to carry on that momentum weeks ahead of the November midterms elections.
Last quarter, 98% of campaign donations were $200 or less, according to The Post.
Trump's campaign may have raised more money, but it has also spent more than twice as much in the last three months. Trump's campaign spent $3.6 million from April to June, less than half of the $7.7 million earned from July to September, according to filings reviewed by The New York Times.
The lion's share of Trump's campaign funds went toward advertising with American Made Media Consultants, a consulting firm established by Trump's reelection campaign manager, Brad Parscale. AMMC, which was reportedly incorporated in April, was paid $1.6 million, according to a Federal Election Commission report reviewed by The Times.
Despite the Trump campaign's quarterly gains, a Democratic candidate for the Senate appears to have outearned him. Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas, a rising star in congressional politics, raked in $38.1 million last quarter and achieved a new quarterly fundraising record for a Senate election. O'Rourke's campaign tripled the $12 million Sen. Ted Cruz, his Republican challenger and incumbent, earned last quarter.
But more fundraising does not necessarily translate to more votes. Although O'Rourke may have pulled in significantly more money than Cruz, some recent polls indicate Cruz has a healthy single-digit lead.
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Thousands of Google employees participated in an internal protest against the company's participation in a high-tech military project earlier this year, but the unprecedented revolt at the company had little influence on management's decision-making, according to CEO Sundar Pichai.
At a gathering to celebrate Wired magazine's 25th anniversary, Pichai was asked whether Google's employees had anything to do with the company's announcement last week that it will not compete for a much sought-after $10 billion cloud-computing contract offered by the Pentagon.
"Throughout Google's history we've given our employees a lot of voice and say in it, but we don't run the company by holding referendums," Pichai said. "It's an important input. We take it seriously. But even on this particular issue it's not just what the employees said. It's also about the debate within the AI community."
In March, when word leaked that Google had quietly contributed to Project Maven, a Pentagon effort to use artificial intelligence to analyze drone video footage, more than 4,000 Google employees signed a petition demanding the company stop the work. Some employees leaked documents to journalists and about a dozen resigned.
In June, Google's leadership appeared to respond to the protest by releasing a set of AI principles designed to govern the company's ethical use of the technology. They included a promise never to build AI weapons. Back then, it sure seemed like the opposition within Google to Project Maven had forced the company's hand.
But on stage at Wired25, Pichai said that Google plans to work with the US Department of Defense in the future, perhaps in such areas as cyber-security or transportation planning. He said Google very much supports the US armed forces.
"We deeply respect what they do to protect our country," he said.
'Important for us to explore search' in China
He made it clear, however, Google will not work on autonomous weaponry or anything that violates the company's AI principles.
Pichai was also asked about Google's possible plan to once again offer a search engine in China. This summer, The Intercept broke the news that Google had built a search engine that would censor information. Google search pulled out of China in 2010, claiming it could no longer comply with the government's demands that the company filter information.
To return to China, Google would again have to filter information that authorities find objectionable. Some groups argue that censoring information is a violation of human rights.
Pichai said the offering search in China, home to 20-percent of the world's population, is important to the company. As for a censored search engine, Pichai said the company wanted to see what a Google search engine that complied with Chinese law would look like. He gave no timetable for a return to China.
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You can't invest without a bit of risk.
But weighing the level of risk isn't always easy. While it partially depends on your appetite for thrill, it also depends on adequate research and consideration before buying an investment, as well as trusting your gut — and the person selling the investment to you.
Investment fraud isn't uncommon, and while it's not always easy to spot, there are also some telltale warning signs that may indicate if an investment is too good to be true.
Keep an eye out for these investment red flags.
1. Fishy broker tactics
Be wary if your broker works on commission — according to John Csiszar of GOBankingRates, they're not obligated to prioritize a client's needs and wants. Since some investments pay more commission than others, a broker might be more inclined to push for an investment that costs more.
Also take note of any marketing tactics they may try to employ and play the skeptic. A broker's job is to sell — if they try to amp up the excitement, describe an investment as "the next big thing," promise to make you rich, or act like they have "inside information" (which is illegal), it may be wise to back away, according Todd R. Tresidder, blogger behind the Financial Mentor who made himself a millionaire within 12 years through successfully investing.
Brokers may also try to put a timeline on an investment, saying it's a "hot" stock. The goal is to pressure you to buy now before the "deal" is gone. According to Tresidder, investments that are good today are still good tomorrow. There shouldn't be a limited time to "get in."
"If you feel that an unscrupulous broker or financial planner has misled you, then you may have to contact that person's branch or complex manager to lodge a formal, written complaint," investment adviser Justin J. Kumar advises in a Kiplinger article.
2. You have to borrow money to invest
A rightful salesperson should never encourage you to use your life savings for one investment, Tresidder said.
"No legitimate investment salesperson should ever fail to clarify your past investment experience and risk tolerance before recommending an investment," he wrote. "A con man may skip this essential step in the sales process."
They also shouldn't ask you to provide false information on your application, ask for your bank account number, or encourage you to borrow money, especially from a retirement account, to invest, he added.
"Some sophisticated investors use margin — or borrowing — to leverage the effects of their investment,"according to Csiszar, who added that if you borrowing money incurs higher risk and interest on the margin loan. "However, this is best left for high-risk traders."
3. You're unable to cash out
Liquidity is the ease at which you can turn an investment back into cash. For example, stocks and bonds are liquid because they can be converted into cash quickly, but larger assets such as property can take a while to transfer into cash. There's more at stake if you can't get your money out of an investment when you want.
"Delays when withdrawing money may point to illegitimacy," wrote Tresidder. "Only fixed-term securities such as CDs, hedge funds with periodic redemption rights, certain partnership interests, and other liquidity constraints agreed to in writing prior to investing should limit your ability to access your cash when it comes time to exit."
Beware if you're being encouraged to "'roll over' promised payments with higher investment returns"— it's a classic Ponzi scheme trick, according to Kumar.
4. The investment seems too sophisticated
Investing shouldn't be complicated. Investment strategies explained with terminology overkill and sophisticated investments marketed to smaller investors with a $100,000 maximum initial investment are worth being wary of according to Tresidder. He also said unsophisticated investors can be vulnerable to investment fraud because "they rarely perform due diligence."
"Never buy into the idea that you are too old, young, or financially inexperienced to understand an investment," Tresidder said. "If you don't understand it, then don't invest in it."
5. The investment is unregistered
Unregistered investments aren't for beginners. According to Csiszar, they're meant for "accredited investors"— people rich enough where an error won't put them in the hole.
"Unregistered investments do not have to abide by the same securities laws and regulations that protect investors investing in publicly-traded stocks or bonds," he wrote. "So unless you're a professional investor, consider sticking to traditionally regulated securities."
Tresidder recommends getting verification from regulators if you're unsure of the agent or company, adding that investments should also be verified through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), state securities regulator, or National Association of Securities Dealers.
6. Returns seem exceptionally high
Generally speaking, investments with higher returns are riskier. Kumar warns against "guaranteed" investment opportunities — trends typically fluctuate, so an investment that continuously has positive returns may be too good to be true.
"Never trust anyone who promises a high return in a short period of time," wrote Tresidder. "Above market return is the number one characteristic of investment fraud. It's the bait designed to hook you."
He added that low risk, no risk, or a guarantee is the second sign of investment fraud. "The truth is, every investment strategy has an Achilles Heel, making 'no risk' incongruent with reality. The more you are guaranteed, the more you should examine what you are being guaranteed against."
The opposite is also true — according to Csiszar, low stock prices can continue to drop and remain there for a long time. He advises using that time to research the stock and make a wise buying decision.
Another red flag is if the stock performance is better than the company performance.
"A stock that goes straight up in value while its earnings remain flat or down could be headed for a fall,"wrote Csiszar. "Typically, earnings drive stock prices, so a stock price that goes up while company earnings lag behind makes for a dangerous cocktail."
Just remember: If an investment sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
When it comes to guitars, and electric guitars in particular, no company is bigger than Fender. The 72-year-old company has a 47% market share and is legendary for its axes and amplifiers, which are used by pop, rock, jazz, blues, and country royalty.
Jimi Hendrix played a Fender Stratocaster. Eric Clapton still plays one. And with instruments ranging in price from $100 to many thousands (for special orders from the company's custom shop), a lot of aspiring and established musicians start out with Fender gear and later use it to make a living.
But as musical tastes evolve, questions have arisen about the future of rock-n-roll and the destiny of the guitar as a symbol of creativity.
To investigate the contemporary guitar zeitgeist, Fender recently joined forces with research consultancy Egg Strategy and McGill University neuroscientist and author Daniel Levitin. The research covered 500 individuals in the US and UK, and the results were published in a report titled "Illuminating the State of Today's Guitar Players."
Some of the findings confirmed what many people already knew: playing guitar can be good for you. But for Fender and its business, there were also some surprises.
The company already understood that a relatively small number of guitarists harbored rock-star ambitions. That isn't a concern for Fender, given that many current and future rock stars do make use of its gear. But the report also revealed that 72% of players took up the instrument to improve themselves, and 50% of guitarists in the United Kingdom play for themselves, rather than aiming to entertain an audience. Guitar players might also be looking to improve their well-being.
Wandering through music might increase productivity
Fender sought the help of Levitin, whose 2007 book, "This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession," delves in the role music has played in human evolution.
"Letting your mind wander is the key to reducing anxiety," Levitin said in a statement. "We get our minds to wander by walking in nature or playing music — that's what hits the reset button on the brain. Even just 15 minutes of 'wandering' and playing an instrument can increase productivity."
That's a good thing to keep in mind for any aspiring guitarist who thinks they have to practice for hours a day and achieve mastery in order to justify buying an instrument.
According to Fender CEO Andy Mooney, the company has also learned some intriguing things about its customers since last year's launch of Fender Play, an online guitar-instruction system.
"We have 67,000 users in Fender Play," Mooney told Business Insider. "Our assumption was that it would be mostly young people picking up the guitar for the first time. But a much larger percentage is at the upper end of age spectrum. They see it as way to self-develop, as a meditative investment in themselves."
Beneficially, those older players have both money and time, so they can commit to more learning at a slower place — and purchase more of Fender's pricier equipment. But younger players haven't disappeared. And Fender learned that 50% of new players are women.
To a large extent, this pattern is an early sign that Fender Play is achieving key goals: bringing new players into the fold, decreasing the rate of attrition, and growing the overall market. It's a well-known fact that most new players abandon the guitar after a short period of time and never return to it. Mooney reasoned that if the abandonment rate could be lowered by just 10%, Fender Play could assist in giving music-industry sales a huge boost.
He said that this would logically raise all boats — including those of Fender's competitors — but that Fender would reap considerable returns, given that it controls nearly half of the market. Sales have been improving, and for Fender, the needle has been moving up on prices across the company's entire range. In September, it shipped more equipment than any previous month in its long history, and its factories are running at capacity.
Rumors of the guitar's demise, it seems, have been exaggerated.
Challenges remain, however
"Nearly half of beginners stated they quit learning an instrument due to time constraints, and 33% of beginners shared they were not growing skills fast enough or as fast as they thought they would," Fender said in a statement about the Egg Strategy research. "The reality is that it's much easier for a person to binge-watch a Netflix series in their free time than learn guitar, but the rise of digital technology also has an upside, especially for specific types of learners."
Mooney said that Fender has observed Play users dividing into two groups: one that wants quick results; and another that's more patient. The resource is designed to address the needs of each contingent; it can be used on desktop and laptop computers, as well as iOS and Android mobile devices.
The company has also unveiled a new incentive to spur people to commit to Play for the long haul. On Tuesday, Fender started offering an $89.99 yearly subscription that comes with a 10% discount on Fender equipment purchased through the company's e-commerce channel or at participating retailers. That 10% savings on an $825 Classic Player Jazzmaster guitar, for example, would return almost your entire Play annual subscription.
Previously, the Play service was only offered at a $9.99 monthly fee, following a 30-day free trail. (With that option, users can cancel whenever they want.)
I've tested Play and found it to be an excellent way to learn guitar and improve one's skills.
According to Levitin, developing your musical side also appears to be a great way to stave off the negative effects of aging — and to enhance your cognitive talents early in life. He has explored this in his own research, going back two decades.
"After 60, playing an instrument can help you retrain and remap neural circuits that are inclined to atrophy, which helps you stay mentally young,” Levitin said. "Learning an instrument can also help develop your brain when you are a kid."
Republicans said their tax law was supposed to pay for itself. But according to new data from the Treasury Department, their overhaul of the tax code isn't producing the desired result.
The Treasury said the budget deficit hit $779 billion for fiscal 2018 — which was October 2017 through September 2018 — the highest level since 2012.
A significant part of the deficit increase was due to anemic revenue growth, largely from big tax cuts from the new GOP-led tax law, which went into effect earlier this year.
Particularly significant is the corporate tax side of the ledger, where the effects of the law have already taken hold. While most Americans have not yet filed their taxes under the new system, corporations pay taxes quarterly and have already been operating under the new lower rate.
According to Treasury data, tax revenue from corporate returns dropped 31% in fiscal 2018 compared with fiscal 2017. Meanwhile, individual tax revenue was up 6.1%, and total revenue increased by just 0.4% from fiscal 2017.
An analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that the revenue increase was historically low.
"This revenue growth rate is the eighth lowest in the past 50 years, and the seven lower years either coincided with a recession or tax cuts/expiring tax increases enacted shortly after a recession," the report said. "As we have noted, though, even this slight revenue growth understates how much the 2017 tax law is reducing revenue since the fiscal year totals include revenue raised from the pre-tax law code."
Republican leaders and the Trump administration said last year that the increased economic growth due to the tax bill would cause more money to flow to businesses and people, producing more tax revenue.
Even after several nonpartisan think tanks and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would add to the federal deficit, Republican leaders remained steadfast in saying the tax cuts would eventually pay for themselves or even reduce the deficit.
"I not only don't think it will increase the deficit, I think it will be beyond revenue-neutral," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on December 4. "In other words, I think it will produce more than enough to fill that gap."
In August, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the law would end up reducing the deficit.
"So we're humming along on where projections are, and as I've said, at 3% economic growth, this tax plan will not only pay for itself but in fact create additional revenue for the government," he said in an interview with CNBC.
The CBO expects the deficit to expand to $973 billion in fiscal 2019, with $228 billion due to reduced revenue as a result of the GOP tax law.
But it's still early — the tax law hasn't yet been in effect for a full year, and a revenue boost could come later.
Daniel Clifton, an expert on economic policy at Strategas Research Partners, pointed out that the positive economic feedback and revenue boost from the 2003 tax-cut package did not take effect until a full year after it passed.
"Over 5 years, the projected $317bn cost of the 03 tax cut never materialized,"Clifton tweeted Tuesday, adding that because of higher levels of economic growth and capital gains tax revenue, tax revenue exceeded pre-tax-cut expectations.
"The 17 tax change did not include cap gains tax cut," he said. "Feedback effect will be less but strong."
But for the revenue side of the ledger to pick up significantly, there would need to be a sustained increase in gross-domestic-product growth, which few forecasters are projecting.
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The smallest of changes can add up to big savings at Walmart.
Brett Biggs, the chain's executive vice president and CFO, outlined how a few minor tweaks could make a major difference during Walmart's Investment Community Meeting on Tuesday.
"We are in the process of a multiyear rollout of replacing all fluorescent fixtures with LEDs in our stores, clubs and parking lots," Biggs told the audience gathered at the chain's Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters. "Not only is it good for the environment, these changes could reduce our annual energy costs by $200 million over time."
Biggs said that the chain would ultimately replace all the fluorescent lights in its stores, clubs, and parking lots.
The CFO also highlighted opportunities to save by making changes to the goods purchased for cleaning services and maintenance. Specifically, Biggs announced that Walmart was swapping out the floor wax used in its stores.
"Not only is the new wax cheaper, it's also sturdier," Biggs told investors. "It doesn't need to be buffed as often, resulting in less spent on the actual buffing, as well as fuel for the machines. That one change in floor wax will save us over $20 million a year."
This isn't the first time the retail giant has slashed costs by implementing subtle changes within its stores.
Business Insider's Dennis Green previously reported that back in 2017, Walmart saved a total of $27 million by tweaking its plastic bags and shortening the length of its receipts.
And this probably won't be the last time that Walmart adopts such subtle price-slashing strategies. During his presentation, Biggs said that the company's "progress on costs" was boosting its "ability to win."
"These small differences can make a big difference to Walmart," Biggs said.