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The latest news from Business Insider

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    Tucker Carlson

    • Fox News reportedly made the "conscious decision" to refrain from tweeting following an activist group's protest that erupted at the home of Fox News opinion host, Tucker Carlson.
    • The news organization, which has over 18 million Twitter followers, had gone silent for more than 24 hours as of Friday.
    • Fox News sources reportedly told a Tribune Media employee the company is engaging in a silent protest due to Twitter's response to users who were posting Carlson's home address on the social media platform.
    • Facebook, which Fox News continues to publish stories from, is said to have responded promptly after being alerted.
    • It is not unclear when Fox News will begin tweeting again.

    Fox News reportedly made the "conscious decision" to refrain from tweeting following a protest that erupted on Fox News host Tucker Carlson's doorstep on Wednesday night.

    Around a dozen protesters aligned with the self-described anti-fascist group "Smash Racism DC" showed up at Carlson's home in Washington, DC, nearly two hours before the opinion-show host's 8 p.m. program on Fox News. While some of the demonstrators chanted slogans on the street in front of Carlson's home, at least one showed up at his doorstep.

    Carlson, who was at work at the time, claimed that his wife was home when a protester allegedly threw "himself against the front door and actually cracked the front door," according to The Washington Post. Police reportedly confirmed that members of the group also spray-painted an anarchy symbol on the driveway, and left signs on vehicles.

    A source at Fox News explained that the protests at Carlson's home, which Carlson described as "a threat," was the reason the company has refrained from tweeting for more than 24 hours as of Friday, according to a Mediaite report.

    twitter phone

    Another Fox News source cited by a Tribune Media content manager Scott Gustin reportedly said the decision not to tweet came from "the highest level" of the company.

    The hiatus is said to be a protest of Twitter's response to complaints that users were posting Carlson's home address online.

    Twitter's technical support function is believed to have advised the news organization to submit a ticket request and did not delete tweets containing Carlson's address, Gustin said.

    Facebook, which Fox News continues to publish stories from, reportedly responded promptly after being alerted.

    It is unclear when Fox News will begin tweeting again, but Gustin's source reportedly explained that the company will continue its self-imposed exile until Twitter apologizes and removes the offending tweets.

    Twitter and other social media companies have been criticized for not acting more decisively in regulating user content. Critics have alleged that unregulated content from fringe political groups and users promotes fake news, hate speech, or other harmful messages.

    Fox News representatives declined to comment to Business Insider on the matter. Twitter did not respond to numerous requests for comment as of Friday night.

    Read more: Twitter dropped the hammer on Alex Jones and permanently kicked him off its service

    Videos of the demonstration at Carlson's home were uploaded on the group's Twitter account but were later deleted.

    "Racist scumbag, leave town," the protesters chanted in the video.

    "We want you to know, we know where you sleep at night," a protestors said on a loudspeaker. "Tucker Carlson, we will fight! We know where you sleep at night!"

    Journalists and media personalities from other networks have widely condemned the protest.

    fox news

    "Fighting Tucker Carlson's ideas is an American right," comedian Stephen Colbert tweeted on Thursday. "Targeting his home and terrorizing his family is an act of monstrous cowardice. Obviously don't do this, but also, take no pleasure in it happening. Feeding monsters just makes more monsters."

    Fox News' CEO Suzanne Scott and president Jay Wallace reportedly issued a joint statement denouncing the protest.

    "The incident that took place at Tucker's home last night was reprehensible," the two executives said. "The violent threats and intimidation tactics toward him and his family are completely unacceptable. We as a nation have become far too intolerant of different points of view."

    "Recent events across our country clearly highlight the need for a more civil, respectful, and inclusive national conversation," they added. "Those of us in the media and in politics bear a special obligation to all Americans, to find common ground."

    The same group confronted Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and his wife at a DC restaurant in October, amid the fallout from Justice Brett Kavanaugh's contentious confirmation hearings.

    Carlson did not appear for his nightly program on Friday. Fox News personality Brian Kilmeade stood in for him instead.

    "For every masked lunatic in front of my house, there have been a hundred people, some of whom I don't agree with politically, calling or sending texts of support and kindness," Carlson said to Kilmeade during a phone interview.

    "And it's just a reminder of what a really nice country it is."

    SEE ALSO: 'Beto is way hotter than you, dude': Ted Cruz and his wife leave restaurant after being heckled

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This top economist has a radical plan to change the way Americans vote

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    Mobility Market

    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

    Automakers are on the verge of a prolonged period of rapid change to the way they do business, thanks to the combined disruptive forces of growing on-demand mobility services and self-driving cars, which will start to come to market in the next couple of years.

    By the end of 2019, Google spinoff Waymo, Uber, and GM all plan to have fleets of autonomous cars deployed in various US cities to provide on-demand rides for passengers. By eliminating the cost of the driver, these rides are expected to be far cheaper than typical Uber or Lyft rides, and even cheaper than owning a car for personal transportation.

    Many industry experts are predicting that such cheap on-demand autonomous rides service will result in a long-term decline in car ownership rates — PwC predicts that the total number of cars on the road in the US and EU will drop from 556 million last year to 416 million in 2030.

    This decline in car ownership represents an enormous threat to automakers’ traditional business models, forcing them to find alternative revenue sources. Many of these automakers, including GM, Ford, and Daimler, have plans to launch their own on-demand ride-hailing services with fleets of self-driving cars they will manufacture, potentially giving them a new stream of recurring revenue. This could set them up to take a sizeable share of a market that is expected to be worth trillions by 2030.

    However, competing in the on-demand mobility market will pit legacy automakers against ride-hailing services from startups and tech giants that have far greater experience in acquiring and engaging consumers through digital channels. To succeed in what will likely be a hyper-competitive market for urban ride-hailing, automakers will have to foster new skill sets in their organizations, and transform from companies that primarily produce vehicles to ones that also manage vehicle fleets and customer relationships.

    That will entail competing with startups and tech giants for software development and data science talent, as well as reforming innovation processes to keep pace with digital trendsetters. Automakers will also need to create unique mobile app and in-car experiences to lure customers. Finally, these automakers will face many overall barriers in the market, including convincing consumers that self-driving cars are safe, and dealing with a complex and evolving regulatory landscape.

    In a new report, Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, delves into the future of the on-demand mobility space, focusing on how automakers will use fleets of self-driving vehicles to break into an emerging industry that's been dominated thus far by startups like Uber and Lyft. We examine how the advent of autonomous vehicles will reshape urban transportation, and the impact it will have on traditional automakers. We then detail how automakers can leverage their core strengths to create new revenue sources with autonomous mobility services, and explore the key areas they'll need to gain new skills and capabilities in to compete with mobility startups and tech giants that are also eyeing this opportunity. 

    Here are some of the key takeaways:

    • The low cost of autonomous taxis will eventually lead car ownership rates among urban consumers to decline sharply, putting automakers’ traditional business models at risk.
    • Many automakers plan to launch their own autonomous ride-hailing services with the self-driving cars they're developing to replace losses from declining car sales, putting them in direct competition with mobility startups and tech giants looking to launch similar services.
    • Additionally, automakers plan to maximize utilization of their autonomous on-demand vehicles by performing last-mile deliveries, which will force them to compete with a variety of players in the parcel logistics industry.
    • Regulatory pressures could also push automakers to consider alternative mobility services besides on-demand taxis, such as autonomous on-demand shuttle or bus services.
    • Providing these types of services will force automakers to make drastic changes to their organizations to acquire new talent and skills, and not all automakers will succeed at that.

    In full, the report:

    • Forecasts the growth of autonomous on-demand ride-hailing services in the US.
    • Examines the cost benefits of such services for consumers, and how they will reshape consumers’ transportation habits.
    • Details the different avenues for automakers to monetize the growth of autonomous ride-hailing.
    • Provides an overview of the various challenges that all players in the self-driving car space will need to overcome to monetize their investments in these new technologies in the coming years.
    • Explains the key factors that will be critical for automakers to succeed in this emerging market.
    • Offers examples of how automakers can differentiate their apps and services from competitors’.

    Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
    Access to all future reports and daily newsletters
    Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry
    And more!
    Learn More

    Purchase & download the full report from our research store

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    meng hongwei interpol.JPG

    • Meng Hongwei, the Chinese president of Interpol, disappeared after traveling to China in late September.
    • China acknowledged on October 7 that it had detained Meng and was investigating him over bribery allegations. Interpol said it received his resignation that same day.
    • Beijing has gone silent since then.
    • Interpol said organization rules forbade an investigation into Meng's disappearance.
    • Meng's wife, Grace, said her husband's disappearance was "political persecution" and that she wasn't sure he was alive.

    It's been more than a month since Beijing confirmed that the vanished Interpol president had been detained in China, and we're no closer to knowing what happened.

    Meng Hongwei disappeared after traveling to China on September 29. Beijing broke its silence over the matter a week later, on October 7, saying that it had detained him and was investigating him over bribery allegations.

    That same day Interpol said it received Meng's resignation— without specifying the source — and accepted it "with immediate effect."

    Jürgen Stock, Interpol's secretary-general, told reporters on Thursday that "there was no reason for me to (suspect) that anything was forced or wrong" about the resignation.

    meng hongwei interpol

    Details of China's allegations against Meng remain unclear. His detention appears to be part of a wider "anti-corruption drive" led by President Xi Jinping since his ascendancy to the Chinese leadership.

    Activists at Human Rights Watch believe Meng is kept under a form of secret detention called liuzhi (留置), where the person is held incommunicado without access to lawyers or relatives for up to six months.

    Sophie Richardson, the organization's China director, told Business Insider that "we assume but cannot confirm" that.

    meng hongwei wife grace meng

    The wife's fight

    Meng's wife, Grace, repeatedly denied China's corruption charges and claimed that her husband's disappearance was "political persecution."

    She told the BBC last month: "I'm not sure he's alive. They are cruel. They are dirty," she added, referring to China's tactics to silence people.

    Read more: The Interpol chief who vanished in China is feared dead after even his wife hasn't heard from him in weeks

    Grace Meng added that she received a threatening phone call shortly after Meng's disappearance, in which a man speaking in Chinese warned her not to speak out.

    Reuters reported last week that Meng had retained two law firms in London and Paris to track down her husband. Business Insider contacted the two firms for comment on Meng's next steps.

    Below is the last text Grace Meng received from her husband on September 25. It says in Chinese: "Wait for my call," followed by a knife emoji — a possible warning that he was in danger.

    meng hongwei grace knife screenshot

    Interpol says it can't investigate, but is "strongly encouraging" China to speak out

    The international police organization, where Meng was elected president in 2016, has not provided much clarity either.

    It has not released a public statement since October 7, when it acknowledged Meng's resignation and has not responded to Business Insider's request for comment.

    Stock, Interpol's secretary-general, said on Thursday that the organization's rules forbade him from investigating Meng's disappearance.

    "We are not an investigative body," he said, according to the Associated Press. He added that "we are strongly encouraging China" to provide details of Meng's whereabouts.

    guo wengui gerard collomb jurgen stock princes charles

    Richardson of Human Rights Watch told Business Insider: "If President Xi was even remotely serious about the rule of law, Meng would be guaranteed fair trial rights, but that is highly unlikely to happen given the profound politicization of China's legal system."

    Rights groups protested Meng's election to the Interpol presidency at the time, citing his previous work at China's ministry of public security in Xinjiang and Tibet. The two regions are home to the country's Uighur and Tibetan ethnic minorities, who Beijing has attempted to muzzle.

    During Meng's tenure, China submitted multiple "red notices"— Interpol arrest warrants — for dissidents around the world.

    Read more: Barging into your home, threatening your family, or making you disappear: Here's what China does to people who speak out against them

    Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the 86th INTERPOL General Assembly at Beijing National Convention Center on September 26, 2017 in Beijing, China.  REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool

    Roderic Wye, an associate fellow at Chatham House and former first secretary in the British Embassy in Beijing, told Business Insider last month that public disappearances were not unusual in China, especially in politics.

    "It is often a sign that someone has got into trouble if they fail to appear in public doing their normal duties for a period of time," he said.

    Earlier this year Chinese authorities publicly disappeared prominent Chinese actress Fan Bingbing for three months after she was accused of evading taxes.

    Read more: The humbling of Fan Bingbing is a warning shot from China to anyone who thinks they can defy them

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The true story behind Boston gangster Whitey Bulger

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    theresa may nhs

    • Exclusive: The Brexit department said there could be medicine shortages in a no deal Brexit in an "alarming" meeting with pharmaceutical and medical industry representatives last month.
    • In the meeting, DExEU civil servants said some medicines might not be available to patients if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal in March.
    • The meeting took place two weeks before health organisations sent a letter to Theresa May's government expressing concern that the risk of medicine shortages in a no deal Brexit is "red."
    • Health Secretary Matt Hancock has asked private companies to help stockpile medicines.

    LONDON — Theresa May's government refused to rule out medicine shortages under a no deal Brexit during a confidential meeting with shocked medical industry representatives last month, Business Insider can reveal.

    Around two dozen representatives from the medical and pharmaceutical industry were told by civil servants from the Department for Exiting the European Union, that ministers could not guarantee that all medicines currently provided by the NHS will be available to patients in the event of there being no Brexit deal.

    "They aren't guaranteeing against medicine shortages in a no deal — it's pretty alarming stuff," an industry figure who attended the meeting on the week of October 15 told BI.

    "The government rep stuck to the line that if all stakeholders do what is required, then they believe that patients will be protected. But they weren't able to guarantee that every treatment on the NHS will be protected."

    There is a growing concern among pharmaceutical firms and charities that the UK government is underprepared for the prospect of leaving the European Union with no deal in March 2019.

    Last week, a group of health organisations — including the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry and Brexit Health Alliance — wrote to the government expressing concern that preparations for maintaining drug supplies in a no deal Brexit were so behind that the risk level ought to be "red," the most severe, Politico revealed.

    The letter said the health groups "do not believe that the current medicine supply plans will suffice" and that the UK "will have widespread shortages" in a no deal Brexit "if we do not respond urgently."

    The government has advised pharmaceutical companies to stockpile six week's worth of medicines as part of no-deal planning. However, industry figures are concerned about medicines which require special conditions like cool temperatures, and medicines with shorter shelf-lives that cannot be stockpiled and may have to be flown in.

    Martin Sawer, Executive Director at Healthcare Distribution Association, told MPs last month that it would take "more than a year" to build large cold chain (temperature-controlled) warehouses, while Brexit is five months away.

    Pharmaceutical companies are working with the government to scope airline capacity for getting these drugs to the UK in the event of a no-deal, but are worried about being in competition with other industries, like food.

    A government spokesperson told BI: "The Government is confident of reaching a deal with the EU that benefits patients and the NHS. However, as a responsible Government we are also preparing for a range of potential outcomes in the unlikely event of a no deal. 

    "As part of our contingency planning, we continue to work closely with pharmaceutical companies and storage providers to ensure the continued supply of critical drug and medicine supplies."

    'The honest answer is we don't know'

    prescription-pills-medicine-in-handJane Summerfield — who leads the UK's life sciences commercial regulatory practice — told BI this week that the government was "still working out" how much capacity was needed to stockpile medicines, and how to do it.

    "They're far enough down that process to know that additional capacity is needed, and actions are ongoing to identify warehousing on both sides of the channel, but there isn't much information coming out to actually answer that question. The honest answer is we don't know," Summerfield said.

    She explained that while some medicines can be stockpiled for six weeks as the government has recommended, other "very complex" medicines cannot, and could be in short supply if there is no Brexit deal in five months time.

    "If it is a medicine like gene therapy, you can't just stockpile, that's not how the product works. If it's cold chain (temperature-controlled) storage, you don't necessarily have the right capacity and conditions to do that.

    "Some have a very short shelf life. So warehousing works for some clients but others are finding it really difficult."

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock told ITV's Robert Peston this week that the government was building extra "refrigeration capacity" for stockpiling medicines which require cool temperatures to prepare for no deal.

    Hancock also revealed last month that he has invited private companies to provide additional storage. "We have issued today an invitation to tender for additional storage capacity,"the minister told MPs

    Another issue facing pharmaceutical companies is the costly and time-consuming customs checks that would emerge on the UK-EU border if there is no Brexit deal next year.

    Aline Doussin, a trade lawyer advising firms on Brexit planning, told BI that "at this stage, there are no solutions to the customs issues" facing pharmaceutical companies in a no deal scenario.

    "That [customs] is the question that even us as trade lawyers cannot answer," Doussin said.

    "We have told clients to get a certified trusted trade scheme that puts them in the priority queue to get their products moving faster across customs borders. But that's the only mitigating point from a UK perspective."

    Doussin added that HMRC "can hire customs officials and do as much as it can to make sure goods enter the UK easily" but ultimately EU member states are obliged to implement EU law at their borders.

    "If you talk to the French, for instance, they say 'Brexit for us, it's not our issue. Why should we issue so meant customs officials when we are trying to decrease public service cost?" she said.

    SEE ALSO: Theresa May fails to block court case that could allow the UK to reverse Brexit

    DON'T MISS: Former UK civil service chief backs a People's Vote to stop Brexit 'catastrophe'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Trump once won a lawsuit against the NFL — but the result was an embarrassment

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    • Catching an avocado in its fleeting window of ripeness is notoriously difficult.
    • Whether an avo will even soften at all depends on whether it was picked from the tree at the right point.
    • There are ways to ensure the avocado you choose will ultimately ripen into a perfect one, though.
    • You can also speed up the ripening process.

    As delicious as they are, avocados are notoriously temperamental fruits.

    It's no secret that catching your avo in its small window of ripeness is extremely difficult — and there's nothing worse than find one that's too hard, or mushy and brown.

    Then there are the avocados which seem never to soften at all, and you reluctantly end up eating the hard yet watery green flesh atop your toast.

    Many people believe they have ways to hack the system — popping your avocado in the fridge to stop it ripening too soon, or placing in the oven on a low heat to speed up the softening process, for example — but how much can we really do? Does finding a perfect avocado really come down to pure luck?

    As it turns out, there are certain things to look out for in the supermarket to ensure the avocado you take home will ripen perfectly.

    First, however, it's useful to know the science behind how avocados ripen.

    How avocados ripen

    Avocados don't actually ripen while on the tree — it's not until they're picked that the flesh will start to soften. However, it's important that the millennial staple is picked at just the right moment.

    "The fruit does not ripen while attached to the tree, even when physiologically mature, because of an inhibitor in the fruit stem," Kantha Shelke, a food and nutrition scientist and member of the Institute of Food Technologists, explained to HuffPost.

    "It appears to be nature's way of protecting the fruit from damage from high temperatures. Even exposing the fruits on the tree to ethylene [the hormone released by fruits and vegetables as they ripen] gas will not ripen it."

    Read more: There's a restaurant in Brooklyn that serves all avocados — we tried it

    It's only once an avocado has been picked that it will start to soften, but it needs to stay on the tree long enough to ensure it has the right balance of oil and dry matter, which means it's imperative that the fleshy fruit isn't taken from the tree too early.

    If an avocado is picked too soon, it will never soften, will remain hard and watery, and your brunch will be ruined. 

    How to pick a perfect avocado

    There are a number of tricks you can use to ensure you choose a winning avocado, according to HuffPost:

    1. Give the fruit a gentle shake — if the seed rattles, the avocado should ripen quickly.
    2. Avoid avocados with loose skin.
    3. Steer clear of fruits that appear to be going bad at the stem end.
    4. Look for a classic pear shape.
    5. Avoid fruits that are softer in patches, as these are likely bruises.
    6. Don't worry about blemishes or marks on the skin, though.
    7. Give it a gentle squeeze — if it slightly yields to pressure, it's like to be ripe. If it's very firm, it's not ready, and if it feels very soft, it's overripe.

    Once you've selected your avocado and taken it home you'll know it's ready to eat when you remove the stem cap and underneath is green (if it's brown, it's overripe. Sorry).

    How to speed up the ripening process

    If you bought your avocado on Wednesday but by Friday it's still on the firm side, fear not: there is a way you can ripen up your avo for the weekend, according to HuffPost.

    All you need to do is place the avocado in a brown paper bag or sealed container alongside other fruits which produce ethylene, such as apples and bananas.

    Don't bother heating the avocado in the hope of it ripening, though. It apparently won't work.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This London restaurant only serves avocado dishes — here are some of the best

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    This is a preview of a research report bundle from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Intelligence, click here.

    Artificial intelligence (AI) isn't a part of the future of technology. AI is the future of technology.

    Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have even publicly debated whether or not that will turn out to be a good thing.

    global ai commerce financing trend

    Voice assistants like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa have become more and more prominent in our lives, and that will only increase as they learn more skills.

    These voice assistants are set to explode as more devices powered by AI enter the market. Most of the major technology players have some sort of smart home hub, usually in the form of a smart speaker. These speakers, like the Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod, are capable of communicating with a majority of WiFi-enabled devices throughout the home.

    While AI is having an enormous impact on individuals and the smart home, perhaps its largest impact can be felt in the e-commerce space. In the increasingly cluttered e-commerce space, personalization is one of the key differentiators retailers can turn towards to stand out to consumers. In fact, retailers that have implemented personalization strategies see sales gains of 6-10%, at a rate two to three times faster than other retailers, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group.

    This can be accomplished by leveraging machine learning technology to sift through customer data to present the relevant information in front of that consumer as soon as they hit the page.

    With hundreds of hours of research condensed into three in-depth reports, Business Intelligence is here to help get you caught up on what you need to know on how AI is disrupting your business or your life.

    Below you can find more details on the three reports that make up the AI Disruption Bundle, including proprietary insights from the 16,000-member BI Insiders Panel:

    AI Banking Cover

    AI in Banking and Payments

    Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most commonly referenced terms by financial institutions (FIs) and payments firms when describing their vision for the future of financial services.

    AI can be applied in almost every area of financial services, but the combination of its potential and complexity has made AI a buzzword, and led to its inclusion in many descriptions of new software, solutions, and systems.

    This report cuts through the hype to offer an overview of different types of AI, and where they have potential applications within banking and payments. It also emphasizes which applications are most mature, provides recommendations of how FIs should approach using the technology, and offers examples of where FIs and payments firms are already leveraging AI. The report draws on executive interviews Business Intelligence conducted with leading financial services providers, such as Bank of America, Capital One, and Mastercard, as well as top AI vendors like Feedzai, Expert System, and Kasisto.

    AI Supply Chain

    AI in Supply Chain and Logistics

    Major logistics providers have long relied on analytics and research teams to make sense of the data they generate from their operations.

    AI’s ability to streamline so many supply chain and logistics functions is already delivering a competitive advantage for early adopters by cutting shipping times and costs. A cross-industry study on AI adoption conducted in early 2017 by McKinsey found that early adopters with a proactive AI strategy in the transportation and logistics sector enjoyed profit margins greater than 5%. Meanwhile, respondents in the sector that had not adopted AI were in the red.

    However, these crucial benefits have yet to drive widespread adoption. Only 21% of the transportation and logistics firms in McKinsey’s survey had moved beyond the initial testing phase to deploy AI solutions at scale or in a core part of their business. The challenges to AI adoption in the field of supply chain and logistics are numerous and require major capital investments and organizational changes to overcome.

    explores the vast impact that AI techniques like machine learning will have on the supply chain and logistics space. We detail the myriad applications for these computational techniques in the industry, and the adoption of those different applications. We also share some examples of companies that have demonstrated success with AI in their supply chain and logistics operations. Lastly, we break down the many factors that are holding organizations back from implementing AI projects and gaining the full benefits of this disruptive technology.

    AI in E-Commerce Report

    ai ecommerce

    One of retailers' top priorities is to figure out how to gain an edge over Amazon. To do this, many retailers are attempting to differentiate themselves by creating highly curated experiences that combine the personal feel of in-store shopping with the convenience of online portals.

    These personalized online experiences are powered by artificial intelligence (AI). This is the technology that enables e-commerce websites to recommend products uniquely suited to shoppers, and enables people to search for products using conversational language, or just images, as though they were interacting with a person.

    Using AI to personalize the customer journey could be a huge value-add to retailers. Retailers that have implemented personalization strategies see sales gains of 6-10%, a rate two to three times faster than other retailers, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). It could also boost profitability rates 59% in the wholesale and retail industries by 2035, according to Accenture.

    This report illustrates the various applications of AI in retail and use case studies to show how this technology has benefited retailers. It assesses the challenges that retailers may face as they implement AI, specifically focusing on technical and organizational challenges. Finally, the report weighs the pros and cons of strategies retailers can take to successfully execute AI technologies in their organization.

    Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
    Access to all future reports and daily newsletters
    Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry
    And more!
    Learn More

    Purchase & download the full report from our research store


    Join the conversation about this story »

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    california wildfire

    At least nine people are dead and thousands of homes have been destroyed in three dangerous wildfires which are burning across California.

    The Camp Fire, in northern California, started Thursday morning, killing at least nine people and burning the entire 27,000-population town of Paradise.

    Meanwhile, two smaller fires — The Woolsey and Hill Fires — also started on Thursday to the south, and are burning through parts of Ventura and the outskirts of Los Angeles, shutting down stretches of the freeway. Another small fire broke out on Friday morning inside the city limits of LA.

    You can see a map of the fires here.

    While so far there are no reported deaths or injuries from the southern California fires, at least 150 homes have been burned, according to southern California officials, with that number expected to rise.

    Among those properties threatened are a number of celebrity homes, and A-listers were mong the 250,000 people in Ventura and LA countries who had already been evacuated as of Friday night.

    Read more:At least 9 people dead, thousands of homes destroyed in 3 dangerous wildfires burning across California

    Here are all of the celebrities who have evacuated their homes during the fires so far.

    Kim Kardashian-West

    Kim Kardashian-West was forced to flee her Hidden Hills property within one hour on Thursday night, according to People, after coming home to find that the wildfire in her neighborhood was burning out of control.

    She filmed the flames from her private jet and shared the aerial video to her Instagram stories, telling fans she was evacuating and asking them to "pray for Calabasas."

    She then tweeted that she had "heard the flames have hit our property at our home in Hidden Hills but now are more contained and have stopped at the moment."


    Caitlyn Jenner

    Jenner's home in Malibu hills has been completely destroyed by the flames, according to TMZ, but it was confirmed that the reality star had evacuated and was safe.

    Kourtney Kardashian

    Kim's sister Kourtney lives in the area of Calabasas, and also chose to evacaute.

    According to People, she shared a photo of her car trunk packed with bags saying: "I pray that everyone is kept safe and protected from these fires. No Calabasas tonight."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    broken mirror woman

    • Bipolar disorder is characterised by manic and depressive episodes.
    • It shouldn't be romanticised, said Katherine Ponte, who has lived with bipolar 1 for 15 years.
    • People tend to be in the depressive episodes longer than the manic ones.
    • But it's the manic episodes that "get you in trouble."

    Mental health disorders can be wrongly portrayed in film and television, often being shown as more romantic, dramatic, or dangerous than they really are. So people can often end up with ideas about them that aren't accurate.

    Bipolar disorder is no different.

    Katherine Ponte, founder of ForLikeMinds, spoke to INSIDER about what it's been like to live with bipolar 1 disorder for the past 15 years — and the most common misconceptions that exist around bipoar.

    Bipolar 1 is characterised by manic episodes, depressive episodes, and potentially some psychosis. Bipolar 2 is a different disorder where the episodes of mania are less severe, often called hypomania.

    Read more: There are two types of bipolar disorder — here's how they're different

    Ponte said people don't realise the intensity of the manic and depressive episodes.

    "When you're manic, you don't think you're gonna die, you think you're on top of the world, you can do anything," she said. "When you have major depression, that can kill you."

    She also said people with bipolar 1 don't spend as much time in manic episodes as you might think.

    For Ponte, it was the depression that mostly took over her life — it was just that the manic episodes were the times she ended up in hospital because she was behaving strangely.

    "The images we see of bipolar is an incomplete representation," she said. "People think 'oh my gosh, that looks so cool,' ... I would assure people that it's not."

    mental health depression

    Ponte has had five manic episodes over the years, and been hosipitalised as a result. She said they shouldn't be romanticised in any way. In reality, she thought the world was coming to an end, destroyed her apartment, and took a hammer to her TV.

    This isn't just difficult for her, but for her family, too. It was particularly traumatising for her husband.

    "I was watching CNN and I thought it was a medium of misinformation to people that contributed to war," Ponte said.

    "I took a hammer on the TV, and my husband came home and saw everything trashed. I had barricaded the door, he had to take off the back door to get in, and he saw the apartment was a complete total mess and he was just freaking out, like, 'My God, what is happening, what is happening to you?'"

    Having a career with bipolar disorder

    Another misconception is that people with bipolar can't be good employees. Ponte has been stable on her medications and hasn't had an episode since 2014.

    "I have the qualifications you need, but yes, I have a mental illness," she said. "A lot needs to be done in workplace mental health so it can become a more accepting environment. Something I've seen is that any accommodations that are made for people with mental illnesses, to reduce stress, help the entire workforce and help all employees, not just those with mental illness."

    Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Joseph Goldberg, said there is another common misconception that people with bipolar are shifting from manic to depressed all the time.

    "To that end people also sometimes wrongly think that moment-to-moment mood 'swings' in response to normal life stresses are indicative of bipolar disorder," he told INSIDER. "The 'mood' component is just one of many other features (such as decreased need for sleep and excessive energy) and an episode is defined by a constellation of symptoms that last for at least several days."

    Bipolar doesn't mean rage

    Also, people with bipolar are not more prone to bouts of rage, though this perception may be another reason workplaces are wary of hiring people with the disorder.

    "Anger outbursts alone can be due to many things other than bipolar disorder," Goldberg said. "In general [they] are a less common phenomenon in bipolar disorder than other conditions such as borderline personality disorder, substance abuse disorders, or developmental disorders."

    It may take a while yet for bipolar disorder to be well understood by people with no experience of it. But as Ponte said, she can't wait around for people to be okay with it. It's her mental illness, and she's learned how to handle it.

    "People with mental illness, they can't just wait around for a stigma to go away for them to start taking more control of their life and believing they have that possibility," she said. "Recovery gives people hope, and I want through my work, using my example, to give that hope."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The first woman in space almost didn't make it back to Earth and she had to keep it a secret for 30 years

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    black monday 1987

    • Growth stocks, especially in the tech sector, have dominated this bull market's gains, leaving value investors wondering when their own resurgence is coming. 
    • According to strategists at Societe Generale, the conditions are now ripe for value investing to make a comeback. 
    • They provided recommendations on what investors should take into consideration as they hunt for stocks that are trading at cheaper valuations relative to their earnings.

    Long-suffering value investors could soon get the resurgence they have been waiting for. 

    As the ongoing bull market matured, high-growth companies like Amazon and Facebook stole the spotlight from value stocks — or those that were cheaper based on metrics like price-earnings ratio. Investors could simply have bought these growth stocks, closed their eyes, and reaped some of the most bountiful returns of this cycle. 

    Big tech has faltered of late, however, as investors worry that regulators are coming to prune their growth, which by itself is showing signs of peaking. This means value stocks may fall into favor again as investors seek alternatives, according to Andrew Lapthorne, the head of equity quantitative research at Societe Generale. 

    "Given the increasing bearish mood of global markets and the historically low current valuations of the value strategy after long periods of underperformance, conditions appear to be ripe for the long-awaited value resurgence," Lapthorne said in a note. 

    Conventional wisdom suggests that value stocks work best during the early stages of an economic cycle. That's because investors scarred by the preceding crash become more discerning of valuations and suss out discounts. It further holds that value stocks suffer during downturns as consumer demand falters. 

    Lapthorne concluded that there's more to value than these widely held assumptions. His study of their performance dating back to the 1920s indicates that value is often a resilient factor during episodes of market volatility. Furthermore, he observed that events associated with their outperformance often overlap with periods when risk assets and strategies underperform.      

    The chart below illustrates how value's performance stacked up next to the S&P 500 when the broader index fell by more than 10%. 

    Screen Shot 2018 11 09 at 10.38.40 AM

    On the face of it, value stocks had a mixed track record. They sank with the broader market, went negative during 11 of the 24 episodes, and remained positive during 10 of them. 

    But Lapthorne's closer examination produced two key findings. First, value rallies were stronger than the worst value downturns, with the dotcom bubble and 1980s inflation crisis among the blowout episodes.

    Secondly, the average value performance across these events was a -2.9% annualized drawdown, versus a 30% slump for the S&P 500. Relatedly, the average performance of value stocks was 2.4% per episode, compared to -25% for the S&P 500. 

    Even nine-plus years into this historic bull market, it's still any investor's guess when exactly the next crash will happen, although many think it will be sooner rather than later. It's also uncertain whether (or by how much) value stocks will outperform the broader market in the next downturn. 

    Lapthorne's message despite this uncertainty is that value has proven to be a hedge during regime shifts from low volatility to high volatility. 

    "The preponderance of our extensive research supports a robust value strategy to be more global than regional, neutral with respect to sector/industry exposures, but flexible with respect to country tilts, and prefers size weightings to capitalizations," Lapthorne said.

    SEE ALSO: Notorious skeptic Albert Edwards says stocks just flashed a rare bear market signal that showed up before the last 2 crashes — here's his best advice for navigating a possible meltdown

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The first woman in space almost didn't make it back to Earth and she had to keep it a secret for 30 years

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    • Felix Semper creates sculptures from thousands of glued sheets of paper. 
    • Felix lost his housing business in 2008 and decided to change his career to become an artist.
    • His works can take months to create and sell for thousands of dollars.


    Felix Semper's viral sculptures are made entirely out of paper. They each take months to create and are made from thousands of individual sheets.

    Felix only became an artist recently, he was previously a builder and developer. In 2008 he lost his business and went bankrupt, he used this as an opportunity to change career completely.

    Felix has no formal training and creates each piece by hand. He glues each piece of paper together until he has the height he needs then begins to carve. The sculptures are carved into shape and sanded.  Each one is worth thousands of dollars.

    Produced by Charlie Floyd

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    The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

    Starting from the humble days of "Pong" and "Space Invaders," video games have grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry, with single games garnering hundreds of millions of sales.

    As the audience for video games has grown there have been major shifts in the mainstream market; only a few large publishers and popular franchises have earned permanent footholds in the list of best-sellers.

    A video game industry analyst from the NPD group recently released a list of the top-selling game of each year dating back to 1995, including physical and digital copies. While some games like "Tetris" and "Minecraft" have each sold more than 100 million copies over time, the year-by-year list reflects the changing interests of gamers as time has progressed.

    SEE ALSO: The top 3 best-selling games of all time are a surprising group of games that have all sold over 100 million copies apiece

    1995 - "Mortal Kombat III"

    The original "Mortal Kombat" games were originally arcade hits, boosted by the game's penchant for gratuitous violence and the early use of motion-capture technology. The colorful characters of "Mortal Kombat 3" are played by live actors and players can fight and tear each other apart in a variety of ways. The violence gave the game plenty of critics, but also led to plenty of extra attention.

    1996 - "Super Mario 64" (Nintendo 64)

    As a launch title, "Super Mario 64" kicked off multiple years of dominance for the Nintendo 64 console. The game takes full advantage of the console's 64-bit processor, creating explorable 3D environments that were unmatched at the time. "Super Mario 64" established many of the gameplay mechanics that still define 3D platformers today and remains a fan-favorite on YouTube and Twitch.

    1997 - "Mario Kart 64" (Nintendo 64)

    This may not come as a surprise, but "Mario Kart" is one of the Nintendo's best-selling series — across all consoles. "Mario Kart 64" introduced four-player split-screen multiplayer alongside memorable race tracks, and bumping music, making it a must-buy on the Nintendo 64.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Marines with the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard marching the National Ensign and the U.S. Marine Corps Battle Colors during a Sunset Parade at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.

    The US Marine Corps, the service famous for being "first to fight," turned 243 years old Saturday.

    Since the establishment of the Corps on Nov. 10, 1775, the Marines have fought tough battles in nearly every corner of the world, and they have earned a reputation for being some of the world's fiercest warriors.

    John F. Mackie became the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor for courage under fire during the Civil War, and on Oct. 17 of this year, Marine Ret. Sgt. Maj. John Canley became the 300th Marine to receive the country's highest award for combat valor for his "unmatched bravery" during the Battle of Hue City in Vietnam, a bloody and brutal fight that claimed the lives of hundreds of young American troops.

    The Marine Corps, according to its mandate, "must be the most ready when the nation is generally least ready." These awesome photos from the past year show the Marines in action.

    Marines with 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division fire an M777 Howitzer at known targets during training on August 9, 2018 at Mount Bundey Training Area in Australia.

    Source: US Marine Corps

    Marines fire an 81mm mortar during training in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Hajin, Syria on August 4, 2018.

    Source: US Marine Corps

    A US Marine with Marine Rotational Force-Europe 18.1 shoots the Swedish Carl Gustaf M4 anti-tank recoilless rifle during Exercise Archipelago Endeavor with Swedish Marines of 1st Marine Regiment on the island of Uto, Harsfjarden, Sweden on Sept. 5, 2018.

    Source: US Marine Corps

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    mark wahlberg

    • Back in September, Mark Wahlberg shared his daily schedule on Instagram, which details how he wakes up at 2:30 am every day, showers for an hour and a half, plays golf for 30 minutes, and is somehow in bed by 7:30 pm.
    • Of course, the internet had opinions, and it even spawned a full-blown meme where people shared their own wild schedules.
    • On Friday, November 9, Wahlberg was a guest on "The Tonight Show" and explained to Jimmy Fallon that the schedule was "misleading," and addressed a few of the concerns.
    • But the schedule still doesn't make any sense.

    It's common knowledge that Mark Wahlberg is in incredible shape — he always has been. But for the past four months, he's been upping his intense schedule to an entirely new level. He frequently posts on Instagram about his 4 am workouts, among other things.

    According to Wahlberg, he was told that people were interested in his daily schedule, so it was posted — not by him — to his Instagram account. The schedule, which includes a 90 minute shower, a 30 minute round of golf, and two hours of "family time" while his kids are at school, was roasted by the internet.

    Read more: People are creating their own hilarious daily schedules after Mark Wahlberg said he wakes up at 2:30 a.m. and spends 1 hour in 'cryo chamber recovery' every day

    Wahlberg was finally given an opportunity to defend himself when he was a guest on "The Tonight Show," and Jimmy Fallon asked for some clarification on the matter.

    He explained that he's not actually in the show for an hour and half. He told Fallon, "I shower for about five minutes, then I drive or pick up the kids, drop them off, go to the golf course... There's other things happening between 6 to 7:30."

    Wahlberg also confirms he only spends three minutes in the cryo chamber, and the literally fatal hour that the schedule implies.

    But Wahlberg doesn't address his speed round of golf, his lack of rehearsal time for the movies he appears in, the hour of snack time, and the lack of time spent devoted to his successful burger chain, Wahlburgers.

    We need more information, Mark.

    You can watch the whole interview below.

    Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.

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    playboy club nyc

    • About 40 Playboy Bunnies work at the recently opened Playboy Club in New York City.
    • Richie Notar, the club's creative director, told Business Insider that there are two main things they look for when hiring a Bunny.
    • They want the Bunnies to have a warm disposition that makes people feel at ease when they walk in the door, and to have something interesting going on in their lives outside of the job.


    About 40 Playboy Bunnies work at the recently opened Playboy Club in New York City— and each one of them was carefully selected.

    The club's creative director, Richie Notar, told Business Insider there are two main things they look for when hiring a Bunny to work at the club.

    First and foremost, they look for people who have a welcoming and warm disposition.

    "Because in that cruel and terrible world out there in New York City, you walk through those doors and it's like walking into a house, and you hug someone with your smile and you look at them," Notar told Business Insider. "You're not like, 'Uh, reservation?' I want eye-to-eye contact." 

    richie notar playboy club

    When someone makes a customer feel at ease right when they walk in the door, it makes a difference to their entire experience at the club, he said.

    "From that point on, what happens is the food tastes better, the table is more comfortable," Notar said. "Everything seems better when you feel like you're in good hands."

    Notar said they also look for candidates who have something interesting going on in their lives outside of the job. 

    "One of the things that I would like to do ... is focus on people that have something interesting outside of this," Notar said. "I want them to be interesting in different ways other than just bringing you a drink."

    A dental hygienist is one of the Bunnies on staff at the club, along with an opera singer who agreed to sing an "operatic happy birthday" song to a customer, much to Notar's delight.

    Of course, prior hospitality experience is a bonus, Notar said. "But my philosophy has always been, you have to start with a good person."

    If there's one thing Notar won't tolerate from potential Bunnies, it's attitude.

    In New York, he says, "the hotter the restaurant, they're like, 'I'm doing you a favor by letting you in.' There's a lot of attitude. No attitude on my watch."

    SEE ALSO: I visited New York's new Playboy Club, where Playboy Bunnies serve drinks in their iconic costumes and members pay up to $100,000 a year — and it wasn't at all what I expected

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why you shouldn't be afraid to fly, according to a pilot with over 20 years of experience

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    There are dozens of ways you could put together a list of the best video games ever made. You could look to classics, like "Super Mario Bros." here.

    You could look at impact on the medium, or highest sales. You could write down your personal favorites on pieces of paper, then throw them into the air. Where the pieces land? That's your list!

    But what we've got here is something slightly more scientific. Reviews aggregation site Metacritic compiles all reviews of games, then it averages those scores into an overall average. What you'll find below is the top 50 highest-rated games of all time, based on the averages obtained by Metacritic. We made one small change: Since there are a handful of duplicates on the list (multiple versions of the same game, released on multiple platforms), we've just taken the highest-ranked version of the game to make room for a handful of games that wouldn't have otherwise made the list.

    Without further ado, these are the 50 best video games of all time:

    SEE ALSO: The 50 best movies of all time, according to critics on Metacritic

    50. "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4"

    Critic score: 94/100

    User score: 8.4/10

    Plot summary (from Metacritic): "Build your skills, earn respect, and show that you've got what it takes to Go Pro. 190 progressively harder goals. No time clock, no constraints. Pro-specific challenges. Evolving levels. Interact with other skaters. Multi-player modes. Customize your game...Your career is what you make of it."

    Platforms: GameCube, Xbox, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance, Tapwave Zodiac, OS X, PC

    49. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2"

    Critic score: 94/100

    User score: 6.4/10

    Plot summary (from Metacritic): "'Modern Warfare 2' continues the gripping and heart-racing action as players face off against a new threat dedicated to bringing the world to the brink of collapse. An entirely new gameplay mode which supports 2-player co-operative play online that is unique from the single player story campaign. Special Ops pits players into a gauntlet of time-trial and objective-based missions. Rank-up as players unlock new Special Ops missions, each more difficult. Missions include highlights from the single player campaign, fan favorites from 'Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare' and all new, exclusive missions. Setting a new bar for online multiplayer, 'Modern Warfare 2' multiplayer delivers new capabilities, customization, game states and modes, including: Create-a-Class Evolved. Secondary Weapons - Machine Pistols, Shotguns, Handguns, Launchers. Riot Shields. Equipment - Throwing Knives, Blast Shield, Tactical Insertion. Perk Upgrades. Bling (Dual Attachments). Customizable Killstreaks - AC130, Sentry Gun, Predator Missile, Counter-UAV, Care Package. Accolades (Post match reports)."

    Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, OS X

    48. "Final Fantasy IX"

    Critic score: 94/100

    User score: 8.9/10

    Plot summary (from Metacritic): "The last 'Final Fantasy' for the PlayStation, 'Final Fantasy IX' returns to the pure fantasy roots that spawned the series. This latest installment features highly detailed characters, vehicles, and environments, and breathtaking cinema-graphics. The addition of brand new features such as the story-enhancing Active Time Event system and the return of mini-games that grant additional gameplay make 'Final Fantasy IX' not only a memorable gaming experience, but also a significant step forward in the series."

    Platforms:  PlayStation, iOS, Android, PC, PlayStation 4

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Red Lobster Endless Shrimp 2018

    • We spent six hours at Red Lobster, eating as many shrimp as we possibly could to celebrate Shrimpsgiving 2018.
    • We consumed 350 shrimp as part of the chain's Endless Shrimp deal, our thirdyear in a row stuffing ourselves with shrimp for hours.   
    • But, as the hours rolled on, we realized — we'll never shrimp again. Here's why. 

    It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

    It was Endless Shrimp. 

    For three years, we have consumed the pink jewels of the ocean. For three years, we have spent one long day gorging ourselves, striving to meet new goals and best our shrimpy limits. And, for three years, we have succeeded. 

    Read more:We went to Red Lobster's $21.99 Endless Shrimp to see if it's really unlimited

    But this year, it wasn't easy. 

    We ventured to Red Lobster for our annual Endless Shrimp outing two months ago. This year, unlike years past, we struggled to keep the holiday spirit in our hearts at Shrimpsgiving and in the weeks that followed. Against the backdrop of our familiar booth and all-too-familiar Mumford & Sons soundtrack, we craved... change. 

    Let us take you on a journey that we have gone on before. But this time, it is the same, yet so different:

    SEE ALSO: This popular Southern taco chain has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but on a recent visit, we were thoroughly impressed by the restaurant. Here's what it was like.

    The familiar intersection: the corner of 7th Avenue and 41st Street, a spot we rarely visit except to pay tribute on Shrimpsgiving.

    The red lobster himself loomed above, seemingly saying, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

    And for another year, Endless Shrimp was resurrected, a shrimpy Lazarus.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    san francisco homeless

    • Conditions for homeless residents in San Francisco are among the worst in the world, with many living in crowded camps filled with trash, feces, and discarded needles.
    • In September, United Nations Special Rapporteur Leilani Farha released a report calling the crisis a "human rights violation."
    • Business Insider spoke with Farha about the root causes of homelessness — and what she sees as the most viable solutions. 
    • Farha doubled down on her previous comments, arguing that San Francisco's homelessness crisis suggests a "cruelty that is unsurpassed."

    When Leilani Farha paid a visit to San Francisco in January, she knew the grim reputation of the city's homeless encampments. In her four years as the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing, Farha has visited the slums of Mumbai, Delhi, Mexico City, Jarkarta, and Manila. The crisis in San Francisco, she said, is comparable to these conditions.  

    While New York City and Los Angeles have the highest numbers of homeless people in the US, San Francisco has the highest rate of street homelessness nationwide. On any given night, more than 4,300 citizens sleep without a roof over their heads.

    But not even this knowledge could prepare Farha for what she witnessed in January. 

    In the city's core, homeless residents were denied basic access to water, toilets, and sanitation facilities. There were piles of trash and scattered feces on the ground. In the neighboring camps in Oakland, rats dug through the mud and families huddled outside in the cold. The experience, she said, shook her to her core. 

    "The idea that a government would deny people those services ... when they have nowhere else to go suggests a kind of cruelty that is unsurpassed," Farha told Business Insider. "It's an attempt to erase people. Worse than erase — I can only use the word annihilate. It is a denial of someone's humanity."

    The visit led to a report in which she described San Francisco's crisis as a human rights violation. The language may sound grave — but so is the crisis. 

    San Francisco's homeless are often victims of hard times

    At one point on her trip, Farha encountered a young man living underneath a highway underpass, cooking quesadillas on a small stove with an open flame. 

    Read more: UN report: San Francisco's 'cruel and inhuman' homelessness crisis is a human rights violation

    "The last time I had seen someone cooking on the sidewalk like that was in India, with the pavement dwellers there, and here I am in San Francisco in a state with the sixth largest GDP in the world," said Farha.

    She asked the man about how he came to be homeless, and found that he had traveled from the Midwest after his mother died and his family broke down. 

    "I think he was in the midst of developing a psychosocial disability from the trauma of being on the streets," she said. 

    san francisco homeless

    While many homeless residents in California are native to the area, the man's story is relatively common. Farha said most of the homeless residents she met in San Francisco were victims of hard times.

    "They were working and then their apartment building got sold to someone, the investor raised the rents, the person couldn't afford it anymore, they couch surfed for a while, and then they hit the street," she said. 

    Her comments echo the understanding among homeless residents and advocacy organizations like the National Coalition for the Homeless, which attributes homelessness to "a complex set of circumstances that require people to choose between food, shelter, and other basic needs."

    A crisis of open air drug markets, discarded needles, and poop piles

    San Francisco's crisis of open air drug markets, discarded needles, and piles of poop on the sidewalk dates back to the nation's neo-liberal housing policies in the 1980s, according to Farha.

    These policies allowed the private sector to wrest control of investments in the affordable housing market, while the government slowly retreated. In 1986, President Reagan signed a housing tax credit that gave big corporations more oversight over low-income housing. By the 2000s, companies were selling off social housing — dubbed "housing of last resort"— for major profits. 

    "It's very hard for a city to compete against a private equity firm in terms of buying up land," Farha said. "Private equity firms have such a huge amount of capital at their disposal. They call them vultures for a reason. They can go in and use their power and wealth and buy up a huge amount of property very quickly."

    After the global financial crisis in 2008, firms like Blackstone and Goldman Sachs began purchasing single-family dwellings and charging high rents, rendering them unaffordable for most residents. These properties were then bundled together so that shareholders effectively became landlords. 

    In the current market, investors in cities across the country frequently buy units and flip them into short-term rentals on services like HomeAway and Airbnb. All the while, the world's wealthy billionaires are scooping up luxury apartments, creating a demand for high-end real estate.

    To make sense of the San Francisco crisis, Farha has had to sift through this winding history. "I've had to get my head around all this stuff just to understand homelessness," she said. 

    Resident blame tech companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook

    Many residents have been quick to blame San Francisco's housing crisis on major tech companies like Google, Intel, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. As early as 2013, San Franciscans took to protesting the private buses that shuttle Google workers from their homes in the city to the company's Silicon Valley headquarters.

    The protestors have even come up with a name for the massive influx of high-tech firms: "techsploitation." In May, protestors in the Mission District — home to a number of the city's homeless residents — stood outside chanting the phrase, "Sweep tech not tents."

    homeless san francisco

    Though Farha acknowledges the stark contrast between the city's multi-billion-dollar tech firms and residents sleeping on the streets, she doesn't think techies are exclusively to blame.

    "I absolutely do not want to only point the finger at the big tech firms," she said. "I think they actually come to the table late on this."

    Even so, she said, companies with massive amounts of wealth have a responsibility to share it.

    In early November, Farha praised Salesforce chairman Marc Benioff's decision to support Proposition C, a controversial ballot measure in San Francisco that will tax the city's largest corporations to fund services for the homeless. The measure passed on Tuesday, but was just shy of a two-thirds majority, meaning it could be stalled by legal proceedings for years to come.

    In a New York Times editorial, Benioff said homelessness was an even bigger threat to his business than a "small tax" because "companies can truly thrive only when our communities succeed as well."

    Housing is a human right 

    At least one key player in California has taken note of Farha's concerns. After releasing her report in September, Farha received a call from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who wanted to start a dialogue about addressing the Bay Area homelessness crisis.

    Despite the complicated nature of the issue, Farha isn't short on solutions. But first, she said, people have to understand that housing isn't a commodity — it's a human right. 

    "No international human rights treaty codifies the right to gold, but several codify the right to housing," said Farha. "That's because housing goes to the core of what it means to live in dignity. You can't live in dignity without decent housing."

    Under international human rights law, governments are required"to apply the maximum of available resources to upgrading informal settlements" like slums, shanty towns, and homeless encampments.

    For Farha, these resources include taxes like Proposition C that go toward identifying and addressing the root causes of homelessness. It also means getting rid of forced evictions from homeless camps, adopting inclusionary zoning laws, and offering skills training programs for homeless residents. In the past, Farha has also criticized laws that prohibit the homeless from living out of their vehicles.

    "It's not to say that we want to bring down capitalism," Farha said. Instead, she said, the human rights obligation lies with the government, which is responsible for regulating private actors.

    One of her dreams as Special Rapporteur is to get people to understand the role of government in homelessness.

    If a person is walking along the street and sees someone homeless, it's okay to think whatever you want, she said. "But also think, 'That homeless person represents my government's failure to implement the right to adequate housing.'"

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What if the most powerful nuclear bomb exploded in space

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    california fire

    Tweeting from his trip to Europe, President Trump blamed forest mismanagement for the trio of deadly wildfires in California that have burned tens of thousands of acres, displacing thousands, and leaving at least nine dead.

    "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,"he said early Saturday. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"

    It’s not the first time Trump has blamed forest management on deadly wildfires. Earlier this year, when the deadly Carr Fire killed eight people near the town of Redding, California, he tweeted that the disasters were made worse by "bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized."

    Tom Bonnicksen, a retired forestry expert and fire researcher, told the San Francisco Chronicle that indeed, a lack of forest management was partly to blame for the fires’ intense heat and rapid spread.

    "There are millions and millions and millions of dollars going into fighting fires," Bonnicksen said, “but there are not millions and millions and millions of dollars going into preventing the fires."

    That lack of oversight has left forests with an overabundance of smaller trees and shrubbery, which can be among the first vegetation to fuel a fire, while larger trees take much longer to return.

    A healthy forest, experts told the paper, should have 60-80 trees per acre, while the forests around Paradise — home to 27,000 people that is now completely charred— have as much as 2,000 per acre.

    In Northern California, the Camp Fire has grown at a pace of 80 football fields per minute after starting Thursday morning. Four people were burned to death in their cars, the Butte County sheriff Korey Honea told the Associated Press. One deceased person was found near a vehicle.

    As of 6:00 a.m. PT, the blaze had burned 90,000 acres in just over 24 hours and was 5% contained.

    More than 6,700 structures were destroyed. It is now considered the most destructive wildfire in California history in terms of the number of structures destroyed.

    To the south, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, two smaller fires also started Thursday and are now creating havoc for drivers and forcing homeowners to flee. The Woolsey and Hill Fires are burning through parts of Ventura and LA counties. The flames have threatened the homes of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and shut down stretches of the 101 freeway.

    More coverage of the California fires:

    SEE ALSO: Malibu is in flames as two wildfires spread through southern California — here's what it looks like on the ground

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: There's so much CO2 in the atmosphere that planting trees can no longer save us

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    Macbook Pro

    • Apple's new MacBook Air seems to be the perfect laptop for me.
    • The problem is that I spent thousands on a new Apple laptop last year.
    • I'm annoyed because my MacBook Pro has several issues that the new MacBook Air fixed. 

    When I received my MacBook Pro with Touch Bar in August of 2017, I was pumped.

    15 months later, I have mixed feelings about my major purchase — and many of them are caused by Apple's new MacBook Air with Retina display, which is the laptop I wish I had bought. 

    I thought I had made the purchase correctly. I researched the specs, saved up, and waited until Apple refreshed its laptops with the latest Intel chips, so I wouldn't be buying old technology. 

    Reader, it was expensive. I loaded it up with lots of bells and whistles, including an upgraded processor, additional RAM, and extra storage space. I had owned my last MacBook Air for over six years, so I was ready to amortize the roughly $2,000 cost over a long period of time. 

    And now, just over a year later, I regret my purchase. It's not really a knock on the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar — although there are issues — it's just that the new MacBook Air is the right machine for what I need to do, and I'm frustrated that there was no similar option when I needed a new Mac. 

    Now, I've got an expensive laptop that I'm not completely satisfied with that I expected to own through 2023, and my wandering eye is looking towards Apple's latest and greatest. 

    Read more: Hands-on with Apple's new redesigned MacBook Air: This could be the laptop that Apple fans have been waiting for

    MacBook Air 00072.JPG

    A few issues 

    It's not that the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is a bad machine — I've worked on it, traveled with it, and generally used it heavily, as I expected when I purchased it. 

    But I shouldn't have to deal with daily annoyances on what is a premium laptop. 

    Let's start with the Touch Bar.

    I dislike it. I wish it weren't on my laptop. I frequently control iTunes through the function keys, and the touchscreen simply doesn't provide the same feedback as a button. I hit mute all the time when I'm in meetings to make sure my music doesn't start playing and embarrass me. These are buttons I press perhaps 30 times a day or more.

    It's also really easy on the Touch Bar to accidentally activate a key, whether it's Siri (right above backspace!) or the screen brightness. It also frustrated me that I have to look at the Touch Bar to determine what I'm doing, because by default, it changes from app to app. There's a setting that basically turns it into the old keys, but even then, it's just a less effective version of what I had on my laptop in 2011. 

    The MacBook Pro with Touch Bar also has disappointing battery life — about four hours, in my experience. It's bad enough that when working in the field and covering events like Apple's iPhone launch, I frequently need to plug-in before the day is done. My 2011 MacBook Air had better battery life. 

    One place where that energy is going is heat: My MacBook Pro with Touch Bar gets extremely hot. It's too hot to use on my lap or in bed. I've worried that it's too hot to put directly on my dining room table. 

    Finally, my MacBook Pro with Touch Bar has the "sticky key" problem that's led to a slew of stories and even class-action lawsuits. The "1" key sticks and sometimes types two 1's when I only mean to press it once. The spacebar sometimes doesn't register. 

    It's a problem. Apple says it will fix the sticky keys free-of-charge, but that's time and effort I'll need to spend.

    MacBook Air keyboard

    But the MacBook Air solves all these problems

    Enter the new MacBook Air, which went on sale this past week. It appears to be the device that I wanted last year, when I bought my MacBook Pro.

    For example, although it has Apple's Touch ID fingerprint scanner — a nice feature — it doesn't have the Touch Bar, bringing back my beloved media controls and escape key.

    In terms of battery life, Apple says the MacBook Air can get up to 12 hours on a single charge. That might be optimistic, given that Apple boasts 10 hours for the model I have that usually runs out of battery in half the time, but it's a step in the right direction. 

    And it has an improved keyboard that should address the sticky key issues I've experienced. Apple even highlighted it at its launch event in Brooklyn. "The new MacBook Air has our latest-generation keyboard with keys that offer four times the stability over the previous generation, creating a modern keyboard with a more precise and responsive typing experience," an Apple official said at the launch. 

    A teardown from iFixit shows that these keys have a plastic piece inside the keys that should cut down on crumbs and other debris getting inside the keys.

    While the price — starting at $1199 — isn't that far off from what I paid for mine, especially after upgrading the storage and RAM, it's hard to not feel buyer's remorse.

    The MacBook Air does still have some shortcomings compares to the Pro — it has a less powerful Intel chip, for example. But I don't really need massive processor power. 

    MacBook Air

    Of course, it's not Apple's fault that every year it comes out with new computers that are better than the last year's models. That's how the business works.

    But I think a little bit of my annoyance is due to the fact that all of these changes could've been made in 2017. People were complaining about these issues with the MacBook Pro back then. Apple never said it was preparing a new computer that addressed the issues — it never talks about upcoming products. 

    Which left me in a sticky situation in the summer of 2017. It wasn't the right time to buy Apple's best 13-inch laptop, as it turns out the next year's model ended up being what I wanted. 

    While it's great that Apple has fixed many consumer complaints with its main laptop line, it highlights that computer purchases are big items that people plan to use for years, unlike phones, which have a two to three year lifespan. And people who end up buying lemons are stuck with them for a long time. 

    People who now buy the new MacBook Air seem happy, and are likely to say they're satisfied with their purchase. But by not having a reliable release schedule and a roadmap for future updates, there's a chance that some people — like me — will end up in a generation of customers who are stuck with a laptop they're not completely happy with. 

    SEE ALSO: Hundreds of people have taken to Reddit to complain that Apple is 'nickel and diming' them with its new products

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: After using Samsung Galaxy phones for 5 years, I made the switch to the iPhone XS

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    • I've been using Microsoft's new Surface Laptop 2 and love the sleek design, vibrant display, and powerful processor.
    • You can also get similar specs in the new MacBook Air — but it starts at $1,199.
    • The Surface Laptop 2 is also pricey, starting at $999, but I think it's one of the best laptops you can buy right now.

    Traditionally, Microsoft has been known as a software company, but in recent years that has been changing — the company has been releasing well-reviewed and highly anticipated hardware too. That has all culminated in Microsoft's latest lineup, which includes the new Microsoft Surface Laptop 2.

    The Surface Laptop 2 already has a lot going for it. It features a super sleek design, options for powerful specs, and a great display. It's also a little pricey, starting at $999.

    Is it worth the cash?

    As with any new product, the first thing you'll notice about the new Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is its design, and it's a beautiful piece of hardware. The outside of the laptop is sleek and stylish and comes in a few different colors — including Black, Platinum, Burgundy, and Cobalt Blue. Notably, the Black version is new — and we loved the beautiful look and feel of the Black model, complete with a glossy black logo on the lid, black keyboard keys, and so on.

    Screen Shot 2018 11 07 at 11.08.50 AM

    The laptop itself is relatively portable, which is always helpful. It comes in at 12.13 x 8.79 x 0.57 inches, with a weight of 2.76 pounds. That's about middle of the road for a 13-inch laptop — it's not as light as the Surface Pro, which comes in at around 1.6 pounds, or the Samsung Notebook 9, which is 1.8 pounds. Still, we found the laptop to be easy to carry, and even forget about when it's in a backpack.

    One of the things that sets the Microsoft Surface Laptop apart from other laptops is the soft Alcantra fabric that surrounds the keyboard, and we quite like it. It makes resting your hands on the keyboard nicer and a little warmer than a metal laptop. Over time, the finish may wear a little, but if you get a darker color that wear may not show up quite as much.

    Speaking of the keyboard, Microsoft claims that it's quieter than ever on the Surface Laptop 2— something that we can definitely confirm.

    Even those only a few meters away may not be able to hear typing, which is very helpful in an office environment or when you're typing with others around. It feels pretty good too — there's plenty of travel to make for a nice, tactile typing experience, and the spacing of the keys is pretty good too.

    On the edges of the laptop, you'll find a standard USB port, a mini DisplayPort, a headphone jack, and a Surface Connect port, which is used for charging. That's really not as many ports as we would have liked to see. For starters, Microsoft really should have included at least one USB-C port given the fact that it's the port of the future, and an SD card slot would have been nice too.

    Screen Shot 2018 11 07 at 11.10.48 AM

    The display is nice too.

    It comes in at 13.5 inches, with a resolution of 2,256 x 1,504 and a 3:2 aspect ratio. It's a touch display too — so when the trackpad and keyboard aren't enough, simply reach out and control the device with your hands. Colors on the display, we found, were vivid and deep. The computer isn't a 2-in-1 — you can't detach the display — but the touch support is still a nice addition. Above the display is a 720p front-facing camera, which supports Windows Hello. Windows Hello essentially allows you to unlock your computer with your face — and we found that it was fast and convenient.

    Under the hood, the Surface Laptop 2 has a lot to offer.

    The base model comes with an eighth-gen Intel Core i5 quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, but it can be upgraded with up to an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and up to a 1TB hard drive. Safe to say, the base model will be more than powerful enough for most people who might web-browse email, and watch Netflix every now and then. For those that want a little more power, however, the ranged-up options might be the way to go. It's also worth comparing those specs to similar models. You can get a Dell XPS 13 with the exact same specs for $930, which is a little cheaper. You can also get similar specs in the new MacBook Air — but it starts at $1,199.

    The battery life of the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 officially comes in at 14 hours and 30 minutes of video playback, and while we didn't quite hit that, it's safe to say that the battery life on the laptop is really quite good. It's a little longer than the battery on the Dell XPS 13, which is one of the laptop's main competitors.

    The Surface Laptop 2, as you would expect, features Windows 10 — but unlike the original Surface Laptop, the new device does away with Windows 10 S, which is a good thing. The lightweight version of Windows isn't bad for some uses, but in a $1,000-plus laptop, you really should get the full version of Windows.

    Ultimately, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is one of the best laptops you can buy, and should definitely be considered for those looking for a high-end laptop for work, home use, or anything else. It's not cheap — but it is a flagship-quality product.

    But are there better options? Well, that depends.

    The aforementioned Dell XPS 13 is another excellent choice, and it offers a similar-sized display in a smaller package. It also offers a beautiful edge-to-edge display, and a much better selection of ports. In the end, for most users, it's the better choice. That said, that doesn't mean you should avoid the Surface Laptop 2 — if you like the soft-touch finish, need a slightly better keyboard, and don't mind paying a little extra for a laptop with fewer ports, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is the way to go.

    Shop the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 starting at $999 at Microsoft or Best Buy.

    SEE ALSO: These $300 bookshelf speakers are the best in their price range — here's what they sound like at home

    DON'T MISS: The best Alexa-enabled speakers you can buy that aren't made by Amazon

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