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The latest news from Business Insider

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    trump presidential seal

    • President Donald Trump announced his first recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom Saturday, the nation’s highest honor for a civilian. 
    • The seven recipients will include American pop culture figures Elvis Presley and Babe Ruth. 
    • Political recipients include the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and retiring Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch. 

    President Donald Trump has announced his first recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and they include the wife of a major Republican Party donor, the longest-serving Republican senator in US history, Elvis Presley and Babe Ruth.

    Trump will also posthumously recognize the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for nearly three decades on the Court as a "champion of the Constitution," according to a White House statement. 

    Presley was chosen for his prolific music career in addition to his two years of service in the Army, the White House said.

    Medals are also going to Miriam Adelson, a doctor and the wife of casino magnate and Republican donor Sheldon Adelson; Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who is retiring after more than 41 years in the US Senate; former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach and Alan Page, who began a legal career after leaving the NFL.

    Hatch, who has served in the Senate since 1977, is being honored for sponsoring the most bills of any living Congress member and leading a career in which he "championed religious liberty, fought against communism, and stood on the side of freedom around the world." 

    The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest honor for a civilian. The ceremony will take place on November 16. 

    Read more: Trump always brags about his record of endorsing candidates — here's how many won

    The last Medal of Honor ceremony was in January 2017 when former President Barack Obama awarded former Vice President Joe Biden. Obama previously named recipients including Bruce Springsteen, Sandra Day O'Connor, Harvey Milk, Stephen Hawking, Michael Jordan, and Bill and Melinda Gates.

    Over the course of his two terms, Obama honored over 100 individuals, more than any other president. 

    The White House wrote in a statement that the medal would be "awarded by the President to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." 

    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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    grinch screaming goat

    Warning: There are minor spoilers ahead for "The Grinch."

    Universal's animated remake of "The Grinch," makes some additions and updates to the classic Dr. Seuss story, but it also adds some new characters, including a screaming goat kids should enjoy.

    It turns out the little guy, who pops up several times throughout the movie, was inspired by the popular Taylor Swift goat meme. 

    "We'd already done the scene where we knew the Grinch was going to go out to try to find reindeer and find Fred [reindeer]. We'd already started to build that sequence, and then we were like, 'This is missing something. There's a layer of fun to be had as he's journeying out into the woods,'" co-director Scott Mosier told INSIDER. 

    "I wish I could say it was some deep, artistic, creative core, but it was YouTube," Mosier continued about the inspiration for the tiny goat. "There's a Taylor Swift remix of one of her songs with a screaming goat, and we all couldn't stop laughing. I just think it's the funniest thing in the world."

    Mosier is referring to the YouTube remix of Swift's 2012 song, "I Knew You Were Trouble." It went viral in 2013 after a screaming goat was added to a portion of the chorus. 

    You can watch it below: 

    Mosier said it became an idea they had for the film and the team at Illumination started to build it for the movie, but they weren't sure if he would make it into the final cut. 

    "We were heading to the first test screening and we were like, 'How are we going to end the movie?' And there was that screaming goat, and we were like, 'Let's go for it,' Mosier said. 

    "Initially, it was like, 'OK, well, here's the button for the end of the film to get us through the test screening and we'll see how it plays," said co-director Yarrow Cheney added. "It was, probably, the biggest laugh, and it really just gave such an energy to the end of the film that at that point it was like, 'OK, something's working here. We need to keep this."

    screaming goat grinch

    Interestingly enough, "The Grinch" isn't the only animated movie this month where you'll see a bleating goat. A similar gag occurs in Disney's upcoming "Ralph Breaks the Internet," its "Wreck-It Ralph" sequel. So expect to see a lot of the animal. 

    You can read more from our conversation with "The Grinch" directors here. The movie is now in theaters. 

    Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.

    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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    Jack Ma

    • Alibaba had already generated more sales on Singles' Day 2018 — just 10 minutes into the 24-hour shopping event — than Amazon is estimated to have reached in its record-setting 2018 Prime Day
    • Singles' Day has topped $6.5 billion in sales already, 20 minutes into its 11/11 event, which kicked off at midnight on Sunday in Shanghai. 
    • For comparison, Amazon's sales were estimated to reach roughly $4.2 billion over the company's 36-hour Prime Day in July. 

    SHANGHAI, China — Alibaba's Singles' Day surpassed Amazon's biggest shopping day of the year in less than 10 minutes. 

    Less than 10 minutes in, Alibaba's massive 24-hour online shopping extravaganza had generated more than $4.68 billion in sales. Twenty minutes in, sales had surpassed $6.5 billion. 

    In 2017, Alibaba's Singles' Day sales exceeded $25 billion.

    While not an exact comparison, Amazon's total sales are estimated to have topped $4.2 billion over the company's 36-hour Prime Day in July 2018, according to Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst Michael Pachter. Amazon does not release Prime Day sales figures, but the company said it was "the biggest shopping event in Amazon history," exceeding sales from Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and the previous Prime Day.

    Total online sales on Black Friday reached $5 billion in 2017, according to Adobe Analytics data. Cyber Monday sales were roughly $6.6 billion. 

    Over the last decade, Alibaba has almost single-handedly turned Singles Day — November 11, or 11/11 — into a cultural phenomenon and by far the biggest day of the year for online shopping. 

    The explosive start to Singles' Day comes as little surprise, despite some recent shakiness in the Chinese economy. Gross merchandise value encompasses value generated globally across Alibaba's swiftly expanding ecosystem, which includes, Tmall, and concepts that blend online and offline sales, like the supermarket chain Hema.

    A decade of skyrocketing 11/11 sales brings an added pressure to post ever-higher figures, according to Dr. Daniel Zipser, a McKinsey & Company senior partner who leads its consumer and retail practice in Greater China.

    "The whole world is looking," when it comes to GMV figures, Zipser told Business Insider on Saturday. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Buffalo Wild Wings' Blazin' Wing Challenge requires a waiver before attempting

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    seaport district townhouse nyc

    • The widest room in a narrow New York City townhouse is just 10 feet wide — and it's selling for $5 million.
    • The exterior of the Lower Manhattan home measures just under 13 feet, a Douglas Elliman agent told Business Insider.
    • Real estate developers are building more super-narrow townhouses in leftover space from larger projects, The Wall Street Journal reported.


    A Lower Manhattan townhouse that measures 10 feet wide inside is about to go on sale for $5 million.

    The exterior of the newly-built industrial-looking house in Manhattan's historic South Street Seaport district is just under 13 feet wide. But listing agent Gordon von Broock of Douglas Elliman said the home was designed with its size constraints in mind.

    "There's high ceilings, very low profile, there's no moldings or anything that sticks out," he told Business Insider. "Everything's very clean. I think it just feels — I wouldn't say spacious — but it feels like a normal room."

    Real estate developers in New York City are starting to build more and more ultra-narrow townhouses, often to use up leftover space from larger projects, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    "There's only so much land that can be sold and developed and, at some point, people are finding unique ways to build — and more creative ways," von Broock told Business Insider.

    The Seaport townhouse was built on leftover land from a five-unit condo building on the same lot developed by Andreas Giacoumis, according to the Journal. Once the city building department gives the townhouse its own official address of 267 ½ Water Street, it will be ready to close a sale, von Broock said — although they've already been showing the home.

    The developer, Giacoumis, told the Journal that "small spaces are the way of the future."

    Here's a look inside the narrow, ultra-modern home. 

    SEE ALSO: New York City has more penthouses available than it can fill — and it suggests a change in the way wealthy people are looking at luxury real estate

    DON'T MISS: An $82 million penthouse apartment in NYC's tallest residential building offers 360-degree views of Central Park and the city — but nobody wants to buy it

    The Manhattan townhouse measures 10 feet wide on the inside and just under 13 feet on the exterior. It's about to go on the market for $5 million.

    Source: Douglas Elliman

    The townhouse looks particularly narrow when viewed head-on: It's sandwiched between two wider buildings. Its facade is made up of glass and steel columns.

    Source: Douglas Elliman, The Wall Street Journal

    The home is in New York's Seaport District, which listing agent Gordon von Broock says is an up-and-coming neighborhood that reminds him of the early days of Tribeca or the Meatpacking District's popularity. "The biggest thing that would be attractive to buyers is living in that area," he told Business Insider.

    Source: Douglas Elliman

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    crowded beach dalian china

    • Some luxury destinations aren't quite what they seem on Instagram.
    • Many of these hotspots are overcrowded, overpriced, or simply lacking in authenticity. 
    • From the Champs Elysées in Paris to ultra-modern Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, here are nine luxury hotspots that might not be worth the hype.


    Some places around the world are known as go-to spots for luxury travel, shopping, or experiences.

    The Champs Elysées in Paris, for example, with its Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Longchamp boutiques, is consistently ranked one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world. Dubai boasts of having the most luxurious hotel in the world. 

    But many find that these and other luxury destinations don't quite live up to the hype. Take a look below for some disappointing photos of what nine luxury hotspots look like in real life.

    SEE ALSO: What it's like to be a millionaire in America today

    The Avenue des Champs Elysées in Paris is one of the most iconic streets in the world, lined with museums, high-end restaurants, and five-star hotels.

    Source: Paris Info, Business Insider

    Shopping opportunities range from retailers such as Zara and H&M to luxury boutiques that include Louis Vuitton, Mont-Blanc, Guerlain, and Ferrari. It's consistently ranked as one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world.

    But most of the time, you'll hardly be able to move through the throngs of tourists.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    columbia university graduation.JPG

    • College is expensive, so it's important to pick a school that offers a good financial aid package.
    • Student Loan Hero recently found the top US colleges that give the most financial aid.
    • It found that US colleges offer an average of $20,494 in financial aid, but the colleges on this list of the top 25 offer at least twice that amount.

    College doesn't come cheap.

    The average cost of tuition and room and board at a four-year public college is $20,770; at a four-year private institution, that number jumps to $26,950, according to the College Board's "Trends in College Pricing 2017" report

    That's why it's important to pick a college that offers a good financial aid package. 

    Student Loan Hero recently rounded up the top US colleges that give the most financial aid to students in need using data from Peterson's. It looked at 1,244 US colleges.

    It found that an average of $20,494 is offered in financial aid to students, but the colleges we highlight below — the top 25 from Student Loan Hero's ranking — offer at least twice that. In most cases, the average financial aid package at each of these schools is just short of the total cost of tuition.

    Wellesley College offers an average financial aid package of $47,527 — and that ranks lowest on this list, with the numbers only going up from there.

    Below, see the top 25 colleges for financial aid. 

    SEE ALSO: College is more expensive than it's ever been, and the 5 reasons why suggest it's only going to get worse

    DON'T MISS: 25 cities where a college degree makes all the difference in getting a good job, earning enough money, and becoming a homeowner

    25. Wellesley College

    Average financial aid package: $47,527

    Annual tuition and fees: $48,802

    Students receiving need-based aid: 1,361

    24. Trinity College

    Average financial aid package: $47,679

    Annual tuition and fees: $52,760

    Students receiving need-based aid: 976

    23. University of Notre Dame

    Average financial aid package: $47,884

    Annual tuition and fees: $49,685

    Students receiving need-based aid: 3,997

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Google Home Mini

    Who doesn't like free tech? 

    That's the question at the heart of Spotify's new promotion: The music streaming company is offering free Google Home Mini smart speakers to anyone paying for a Spotify Family subscription ($15/month).

    But the free offer is limited — you've gotta act fast! So, how do you get one? Follow these simple steps:

    SEE ALSO: Amazon Echo vs. Google Home: How the 2 families stack up

    First things first, two limitations:

    1. The free Google Home Mini offer applies to both new and existing Spotify Premium for Family customers in the United States.

    2. The offer is only available through the end of December, so get in while you can.

    Okay, let's get to the directions!

    1. Log in to your Spotify account on the Spotify website.

    The Spotify website is right here.

    2. Make sure your subscription is a Family Plan.

    There are a few different types of Spotify paid accounts. To get the free Google Home Mini, you have to be a subscriber to the Spotify Premium for Family plan.

    The Premium for Family plan costs $14.99/month, but it allows up to five people to access Spotify Premium (no ads, offline listening, etc.) using individual accounts. That's just $5 more than the usual price of a single Spotify Premium account — it's a no-brainer if even just two people are using the service, let alone five.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Red Dead Redemption 2

    Can you smell it in the air? That potent stench of gun smoke and manure is a sure sign that you've been playing too much "Red Dead Redemption 2." We're waist deep in blockbuster video game season, folks.

    Huge new entries from already massively popular franchises are the standouts this year, and "Red Dead Redemption 2" (seen above) is the heaviest heavy of them all. The long-awaited sequel to Rockstar Games' brilliant original "Red Dead Redemption" is a kind of like "Grand Theft Auto" meets "The Magnificent Seven"— a fitting game from the folks behind the "Grand Theft Auto" series. 

    But this fall isn't all cowboys and train robberies.

    super smash bros ultimate

    Below, we've put together the 16 biggest games of the biggest game release season of the year:

    SEE ALSO: A $100 mini version of the original PlayStation is on the way with 20 games packed in — here are the games included

    1. "Madden NFL 19"

    New year, new "Madden" game. 2018 is no different, and the latest entry in the football simulation series is available to buy now.

    A handful of changes are being made this time around, like every year, but let's be honest: You're not buying "Madden" because of changes. Is anyone? "Madden NFL 19" is simply the latest iteration of a formula that's been working for over 25 years, which is exactly what it's supposed to be.

    Release Date: August 10

    Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

    2. "Marvel's Spider-Man"

    The new "Spider-Man" game — a PlayStation 4 exclusive game — features a massive New York City that you can swing around, with plenty of enemies to pummel along the way. It's focused on re-creating the Spider-Man experience as closely as possible.

    This is the classic Peter Parker/Spider-Man you already know and love.

    "Our Spider-Man features a 23-year-old Peter Parker who has become a masterful Spider-Man," the game's creative director, Bryan Intihar, said of the game. "While he may be more experienced, Peter and Spider-Man's worlds continue to collide as he tries to juggle them."

    Read our review of "Spider-Man" right here.

    Release Date: September 7

    Platforms: PlayStation 4

    3. "NBA 2K19"

    For the 2oth anniversary of the NBA 2K series, newly minted Los Angeles Laker LeBron James is gracing the cover.

    As per usual, "NBA 2K19" is a gorgeous basketball simulation — the basketball equivalent of "Madden" for football. It sets the standard for sim basketball games. Also like "Madden," it doesn't change too much from year to year. The focus is on updating the game to be a strong reflection of the current NBA, and it consistently delivers on that. Expect "NBA 2K19" to continue that tradition.

    Read more about "NBA 2K19" right here.

    Release Date: September 11

    Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Sarah Cooper

    • Former Google employee turned comic Sarah Cooper has help for women in tech with a new book called "How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings."
    • The book is, of course, a satirical look a corporate life for women. And it's hilarious.
    • Still, the author tells Business Insider, it was inspired by true stories from her own Google career, as well as her friends and co-workers.

    Sarah Cooper is like the anti-Sheryl Sandberg.

    Instead of telling women to "lean in," the former Google employee is offering more practical advice for women in tech with her new book, called "How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings."

    "Ambitious women are scary. In this fast-paced business world, female leaders need to make sure they're not perceived as pushy, aggressive, or competent," the book's promotional materials explains. Chapters include "How to be harassed without hurting his career" and "How to bring your true self to work and then hide it completely." Each chapter ends with a list of "inaction items."

    Behind the humor there is, of course, a serious message.

    "'How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men's Feelings' was sparked from all the things I did at Google to seem more likable and approachable, like being less direct with feedback and using all those smiley faces in my emails, as well as the double standards I saw between my male and female coworkers," she said.

    Read more: One of Google's new sexual harassment policies could be the key to changing all of Silicon Valley's bro culture

    It was inspired by a blog post she wrote called  "9 Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women" which went instantly viral with "many women writing to tell me they experienced the same thing," she said.

    That post has become part of the book. It offers such gems as: "If a male coworker steals your idea in a meeting, thank him for it. Give him kudos for how he explained your idea so clearly. And let’s face it, no one might’ve ever heard it if he hadn’t repeated it."

    The stories and illustrations in the book are sometimes fictionalized, sometimes not, but all inspired by real incidents experienced by Cooper, her friends, and her co-workers.

    google walkout san francisco 6

    'I got free food and lots of free material'

    After spending five-plus years as a woman in tech working her way up to a manager position at Google, Cooper had plenty of inspiration for the book and her new career as a comedian. She's best known for her previous book, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings and for her blog, The Cooper Review.

    Although Cooper also did a short stint at Yahoo, both books and much of her blog was mainly inspired by Google, she told Business Insider.

    "At Google, I got free food and lots of free material," she said.

    Beyond giving women in tech a much-needed laugh, Cooper hopes to let women know that, no, they aren't imagining it.

    That's a super helpful message in today's #MeToo world. It is particularly potent given the recent uproar at Google as the company comes clean over how it has dealt with various sexual harassment incidents.

    A Non-Threatening Women's Foundation

    We asked Cooper if she considered reaching out to Sandberg with a copy of the book. Sandberg is, of course, the former Googler, now COO at Facebook, who is famously leading today's renewed feminist movement seeking gender equality in the workplace. 

    Sheryl Sandberg

    Cooper tells us she didn't send the book to Sandberg, but if she ever gets a chance to hang with her, "I'd like to hear how much she leans back after leaning in, and then leans in again, and then has to lean back again, and if it's good workout for her abs."

    We also asked her if she would model her book after Lean In organization and start a Non-Threatening Women's Foundation, with meetups and support circles.

    "Yes I'd love to start a non-threatening woman's foundation where we'd probably spend all our meetings just apologizing to each other," she quipped.

    But she also had a more serious response: "The ultimate point of the book is to stop worrying if you're hurting men's feelings, so maybe I'd start a foundation for Threatening Women!"

    SEE ALSO: One of Google's new sexual harassment policies could be the key to changing all of Silicon Valley's bro culture

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A running coach explains how to get through the NYC marathon this weekend

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    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.

    As headlines like "Amazon Is Secretly Becoming a Bank" and "Google Wants to Be a Bank Now" increasingly crop up in the news, tech giants are coming into the spotlight as the next potential payments disruptors.

    Millennials Trust Tech Payments

    And with these firms' broad reach and hefty resources, the possibility that they'll descend on financial services is a hard narrative to shy away from. To mitigate potential losses under this scenario, traditional players will have to grasp not only the level of the threat, but also which segments of the financial industry are most at risk of disruption.

    Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft, collectively known as GAFAM, are already active investors in the payments industry, and they're slowly encroaching on legacy providers' core offerings. Each of these five companies has introduced features and offerings that have the potential to disrupt specific parts of the banking system. And we expect a plethora of additional offerings to hit the market as these companies look to build out their ecosystems.

    However, it remains unlikely that any of these firms will become full-blown banks or entirely upend incumbents, due to regulatory barriers and the entrenched positions of big banks. Moreover, consumers still trust traditional firms first and foremost with their financial data. That means these companies are far more likely to rattle the cages of incumbents than they are to cause their total demise. That said, these companies have a proven capacity to revolutionize industries, making their entry into payments critical to watch for legacy players, especially as their moves demonstrate an intent to be a disruptive force in the industry.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence analyzes the current impact GAFAM is having on the financial services industry, and the strengths and weaknesses of each firm's position in payments. We also discuss the barriers these companies face as they push deeper into financial services, as well as which aspects of a bank’s core business provide the biggest opportunities for the new players. Lastly, we assess these companies' future potential in payments and the broader financial services industry, and examine ways incumbents can manage the threat.

    Here are some of the key takeaways: 

    • GAFAM has been actively encroaching on the payments space. This includes offering mobile wallets for in-store and online payments, peer-to-peer money transfer services, and even loans for small- and medium-sized businesses. 
    • These firms' broad reach and hefty resources have put them in a strong position to take on legacy players. GAFAM has products that have been adopted by millions of users, and in some cases, billions. They also have access to a tremendous amount of capital — Apple, Microsoft, and Google had over $400 billion combined in cash at the end of 2016.
    • However, these firms have to overcome major barriers to compete against legacy players, which includes regulation and trust. For example, 60% of respondents to a Business Insider Intelligence survey stated that they trust their bank most to provide them financial services.
    •  As a result of these barriers, it's more likely that GAFAM will make a dent in very specific segments of the financial services industry rather than completely disrupt it. 

    In full, the report:

    • Explains what GAFAM's done to place themselves in a position to be the next potential payments disruptors.
    • Breaks down the strengths and weaknesses of each company as it relates to their ability to build out an extensive financial ecosystem. 
    • Looks at the potential barriers that could limit GAFAM's ability to capture a significant share of the payments industry from traditional players. 
    • Identifies what strategies legacy players will have to deploy to mitigate the threat by these tech giants.


    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Tucker Carlson

    • Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti claims to be investigating allegations of assault against Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson or people in his inner circle.
    • Avenatti said the assault took place at a club in Virginia last month.
    • The alleged victim of the assault was a "gay Latino immigrant," Avenatti said.
    • The video Avenatti tweeted of the event does not appear to show Carlson physically assaulting anyone.
    • Avenatti made a call for additional witnesses to come forward.

    Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti announced in a tweet Saturday that he was investigating an allegation of assault against Fox News host Tucker Carlson and possibly other members of his inner circle.

    Avenatti wrote that the victim of the alleged assault is a "gay Latino immigrant" and that the incident occurred at a club in Virginia last month.

    Avenatti included a video with the tweet that he claims documents a portion of the alleged assault.  The footage appears to show Carlson telling another man to "get the f--k out of here" while others seem to be trying to get Carlson and others in the room to calm down.

    The video does not appear to show Carlson physically assaulting anyone.

    At one point in the video, a man is heard saying, "There's no excuse for violence."

    In a second tweet, Avenatti said, "We are attempting to locate additional witnesses and to identify those depicted in the video. In particular, we need assistance identifying the balding man who grabs the man seated at the bar. We anticipate charges being filed."

    Avenatti has gained fame in recent months through his representation of the adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who was paid by President Donald Trump to stay quiet about an affair she says she had with Trump in 2006.

    Avenatti also represented Julie Swetnick, a woman who leveled a bombshell allegation of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process in September. Her allegations were called into question soon after.

    Avenatti's accusations against Carlson come at a time when the Fox News host is facing heightened attention because of rowdy protests that occurred at his home.

    A spokesperson for Fox News did not immediately return a request for comment.

    This story is developing and will be updated.

    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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    jimmy butler

    • The Minnesota Timberwolves have traded Jimmy Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
    • Robert Covington and Dario Saric are part of the package the Wolves will receive in return.
    • The 76ers were not on Butler's initial list of teams he wanted to land with, but they were one of several other teams that were said to be interested in the 4-time All-Star.

    The Minnesota Timberwolves have traded Jimmy Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

    This is a developing story.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Inside an intense training session where aspiring WWE wrestlers learn how to fight

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    carbon health founders

    • A Silicon Valley startup called Carbon Health has been quietly rolling out medical clinics across the Bay Area after merging with a Berkeley-based urgent care provider over the summer.
    • Carbon Health offers same-day appointments, easy-to-read lab results, travel vaccines and even some in-house medications.
    • The new network is quickly shaping up to be a competitor to larger health startups like One Medical and Forward— only it doesn't charge a yearly fee.
    • Eren Bali, one of Carbon's co-founders, also created online education platform Udemy and previously made Business Insider’s list of Top 100 Innovators.

    When entrepreneur Eren Bali would tell his friends about his dream of building a physical healthcare clinic to complement the medical software app he'd created, they'd always brush it off as a joke.

    But starting last year, 34-year-old Bali began making his dream a reality. He began working with Caesar Djavaherian, an emergency medicine doctor who founded a network of urgent care clinics.

    This week, he's lifting the curtain on the project they created together: a network of seven medical clinics across California's Bay Area where patients can get checkups as well as treatments for everything from broken bones to colds and UTIs.

    Called Carbon Health, the new company was born from the merger of Bali's tech startup — a comprehensive medical app called Carbon that lets you do everything from text with your clinician to order prescriptions and view lab results — and Djavaherian's clinics, formerly known as Direct Urgent Care.

    Carbon isn't the only clinic startup on the block. One Medical, Forward, and several urgent care chains are all competing for similar patients. The private equity firm Carlyle Group invested $350 million in One Medical this summer, in a bet that consumers and companies will gravitate toward friendlier and more convenient ways of seeing a doctor.

    Unlike its competitors, Carbon doesn't charge subscription fees and accepts most forms of insurance — meaning that it's often cheaper.

    Since Bali and Djavaherian began collaborating last year, more than 100,000 patients have walked through their doors, they told Business Insider.

    They're currently working with NorthBay Healthcare and El Camino Hospital, as well as three other health systems they're not yet ready to name. One of them is outside the state, the founders say.

    "We want to become the preeminent health care provider in the country,"Bali, who previously founded the online education platform Udemy, said.

    SEE ALSO: A controversial startup that charges $8,000 to fill your veins with young blood is opening its first clinic

    DON'T MISS: 'This test is garbage': Experts and former employees allege that a Silicon Valley startup gives bogus 'cellular ages' based on a flawed blood test

    With Carbon, you can do everything from booking a doctor's appointment to viewing your lab results to scheduling a live video session with a provider — all via a single app.

    Carbon Health has $9.5 million in venture funding from backers including Javelin Venture Partners, Two Sigma Ventures, and Elad Gil, the co-founder of personal DNA-testing startup Color Genomics and the former vice president of corporate strategy at Twitter.

    But Carbon isn't the only tech-savvy medical startup on the block. Two other Silicon Valley firms — One Medical and Forward — offer a similar range of services and apps to complement them.

    Yet they differ in some key ways: both charge a yearly subscription fee of $150-$200 (Carbon charges no fees), and Forward doesn't accept insurance (Carbon accepts almost all the major providers except Kaiser).

    When I tried out Carbon's app and visited one of its clinics in Oakland and another in San Francisco's FiDi neighborhood, I was blown away by how seamless the experience felt.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Costco pumpkin pie

    • Costco is set to sell millions of pumpkin pies this year, if previous years are any indication.
    • The company sold 5.3 million pies in 2015, according to Costco Connection, the monthly magazine for Costco members. 
    • Those pies required 3.4 million pumpkins to make.

    It's pumpkin pie season at Costco.

    And, if sales figures from past years are any indication, that means Costco members are about to carve into millions of pumpkin pies. 

    According to a 2016 edition of Costco Connection, the warehouse chain sold a staggering 5.3 million pumpkin pies in 2015. Keep in mind that Costco only offers up the pies from September through December.

    A total of 1.75 million of those pumpkin pies were purchased in the three days running up to Thanksgiving.

    Costco Connection reported that making those 5.3 million pies required 1.1 million gallon cans of pureed pumpkins. That's approximately 3.4 million pumpkins. The company shares its sales projections with pumpkin farmers in the spring, so that growers can calculate how many fields they need to plant.

    Costco declined to comment on how many pies it has sold in the years since 2015 or how many pies it anticipates selling this year.

    The recipe also calls for an undisclosed, pre-mixed blend of dry ingredients and spices, whole eggs, and water. The pumpkin pie doesn't include preservatives. All of the pies are 3.8 pounds, according to the Costco Connection.

    The Costco Connection report credited the pie's recipe to Sue McConnaha, the warehouse chain's VP of bakery operations. As of the time of that article, the recipe hadn't changed since the pie first hit shelves in 1987, although the pies have grown from a 10-inch diameter to a 12-inch diameter.

    And Costco's pumpkin pie has proved to be a perennial favorite among some members. This year, fans of the holiday staple have taken to social media to praise the pie.


    SEE ALSO: From entire lawn sets to used toilets, these are the most ridiculous returns employees from Costco, Walmart, and Target say they've ever gotten

    DON'T MISS: Costco employees share 31 things they'd love to tell shoppers but can't

    SEE ALSO: Costco employees share their 13 best food-court secrets and hacks

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: These pumpkin ice cream sandwiches are over the top

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    home depot 2046

    • Home Depot is one of the biggest stores for all things home improvement.
    • Home Depot reported in August that same-store sales were up 8% in its most recent fiscal quarter.
    • We compared shopping at Home Depot stores in the city and the suburbs, and it was clear which version was better. 

    Home Depot is one of the biggest stores for all things home improvement.

    It stocks everything you might need to fix up your home, including kitchen and bath fixtures, screws and bolts, paint, and tools. It also offers services like do-it-yourself tips and online order pickup. 

    Home Depot reported in August that same-store sales were up 8% in its most recent fiscal quarter. It has 2,284 stores in North America.

    The home-improvement giant also appears to be the store of choice for millennials. In a Bank of America survey of 1,000 millennials, reported by US News in May, 64% said Home Depot was their top choice for home-improvement shopping.

    For city dwellers, it's convenient to have a Home Depot nearby for tools, paint, and remodeling projects. But when we compared it to a massive suburban Home Depot, we found some major advantages in making the trek to one of the bigger stores. 

    Here's how the two types of Home Depot stores compare: 

    SEE ALSO: Target stores are opening earlier than ever this Thanksgiving in a clear signal it's not giving up on Black Friday

    First we went to a suburban Home Depot in Westchester, New York.

    In the parking lot was a big white tent where a rug sale was going on. Hundreds of rugs were for sale.

    Outside of the store were seasonal plants and products like pumpkins and scarecrows.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider and The Points Guy Affiliate Network receive a commission from card issuers if you apply through these links and are approved.

    Best Credit Cards October

    • The fastest way to boost your stash of credit card points or frequent flyer miles is to earn new member bonuses. 
    • You can use points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Platinum Card® from American Express for virtually free travel, upgrades, cash back, gift cards, or more.
    • These are some of the best bonuses and card products available right now.
    • Some of these have been available for a while, and some are new.

    It's easy to earn credit card rewards points and frequent flyer miles on your everyday spending.

    Especially in 2018, as credit card issuers introduce increasingly rewarding products in order to compete with each other, all you need to do is use a card for your normal spending — and pay it off in full each month — and you can earn tons of bonus points in categories like grocery stores, dining, and travel. 

    However, the fastest and easiest way to earn a lot of points quickly — whether you're planning a big trip but don't have enough points yet, or you're just looking to build up your stash — is to open a new credit card that offers a lucrative welcome bonus.

    Credit card issuers offer huge bonuses to attract customers, and while each card may have different eligibility requirements, in most cases you can get the bonus as long as you haven't had that card before — or, in some cases, as long as you haven't had it in the past few years.

    You can read more about earning new card member bonuses and how that will affect your credit score here, or scroll down to find some of the best offers available this month.

    Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.

    When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.

    1. American Express® Gold Card

    amex rose gold new york 12

    Welcome offer: 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months. Until January 9: Get up 20% back at US restaurants within the first three months, up to $100 total.

    Last month, American Express launched a massive reboot of its Premier Rewards Gold card, rebranding it as the American Express Gold Card, releasing a new metal design and limited-edition rose gold version, and totally overhauling the rewards and benefits on the card. Because that wasn't quite enough, AmEx also introduced a fairly unique new welcome bonus.

    The new Gold Card earns 4x points at US restaurants and on up to $25,000 per year at US supermarkets (and 1x after that), 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline, and 1x point on everything else.

    Based on the fact that you can easily redeem Membership Rewards points for more than 1¢ of value each, that makes this the highest-earning card for everything food-related.

    The Gold Card keeps the old card's $100 airline fee credit each calendar year, and adds up to $120 of dining credits — split into $10 each month — at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Steak House, or participating Shake Shack locations. If you use those credits in full, that's a guaranteed $220 of value each year.

    New card members — those who haven't previously had the Premier Rewards Gold — can earn a welcome bonus of 25,000 points when they spend $2,000 in the first three months. Additionally, those who apply before January 9 can get 20% back on all US restaurant charges — up to $100 total — in the form of a statement credit. Keep in mind you may be able to be targeted for a higher offer.

    While it's difficult to assign a single objective value to Membership Rewards points, due to the many ways you can redeem them, travel website The Points Guy subjectively estimates each point as worth 1.9¢. That makes the welcome bonus worth $575 — $475 for the points, and up to $100 back from restaurants. Even without factoring in the annual credit benefits, that's more than enough to make up for the card's $250 annual fee.

    Click here to learn more about the AmEx Gold Card from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

    2. Platinum Card® from American Express

    amex business

    Welcome Offer: 60,000 points (after spending $5,000 in the first three months)

    The American Express Platinum card has one of the highest annual fees of any consumer credit or charge card — $550 — but as AmEx's flagship product, this premium credit card offers a tremendous amount of value to offset that fee. For example, I got more than $2,000 worth of value in my first year with the card.

    The card earns Membership Rewards points, the currency in AmEx's loyalty program, which can be exchanged for statement credits or cash back, used to book travel through AmEx's travel website, or, to get the most value, transferred to any of 17 airline and three hotel transfer partners (transferable points are among the best). Travel website The Points Guy lists a valuation of 1.9¢ per Membership Rewards point; based on that, the welcome offer is worth around $1,140.

    Because $5,000 is one of the steepest spending requirements of any consumer credit card, this is an ideal time to open it — with holiday spending and travel coming up, you can take advantage of those planned expenses to meet a higher minimum required spend than you would normally be able to.

    The Platinum Card earns an incredible 5x points on airfare purchased directly from the airline, and offers a $200 airline fee credit each calendar year, and up to $200 in Uber credits each card member year. It also grants the cardholder access to more than 1,000 airport lounges around the world, including Delta Sky Clubs and AmEx's own Centurion Lounges. Other benefits include automatic gold elite status at Starwood, Marriott, and Hilton hotels, a statement credit to cover enrollment in Global Entry/TSA PreCheck, concierge service, and much more.

    You can read our complete review of the card here.

    Click here to learn more about the American Express Platinum from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

    3. Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

    capital one savor

    Sign-up bonus: $500 (after spending $3,000 in the first three months)

    If dining and cooking are your thing, and cash back is what you're after, the Capital One Savor is sure to please.

    The card earns unlimited 4% cash back on all dining and entertainment, 2% back at grocery stores, and 1% on everything else. Plus, the card offers a whopping $500 sign-up bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

    The Savor carries a lower annual fee than the AmEx Gold — $95, waived the first year. The earning rate will make up for the fee in many cases, based on normal spending, but if that's too high for you, there's an alternative: the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.

    The SavorOne card has no annual fee, and offers a slightly lower — but still valuable — earning rate of 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% back at grocery stores, and 1% on everything else. It offers a lower sign-up bonus of $150 when you spend $500 in the first three months.

    Click here to learn more about the Capital One Savor card from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

    Click here to learn more about the Capital One SavorOne card from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

    Read more: The Capital One Savor offers 4% cash back on dining and entertainment — here's how much the average American saves each year with the card

    4. Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

    Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

    Welcome offer: 125,000 Hilton Honors points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months

    Hilton recently announced new highest-ever bonuses on its four co-branded credit cards, which offers a fantastic opportunity to rack up points for free hotel nights.

    A major benefit to the Hilton Honors rewards program is when you stay for free using points, it's actually free — unlike many other hotels, you won't even have to pay a resort fee. Despite some recent minor devaluations in the program, it's turning into my go-to for hotels.

    Between the 125,000-point welcome bonus, and the fact that the Ascend card offers a free weekend night's stay when you spend $15,000 on it within a calendar year, you've got the makings of a nice long hotel stay without having to pay a thing.

    The Ascend has a $95 annual fee, but offers some solid benefits to make up for that.

    The card offers complimentary Gold status just for holding it. If you spend $40,000 on the card within a calendar year, you'll be upgraded to Diamond status. In addition to the same benefits you'd get from Gold — such as free breakfast, room upgrades, a bonus on earned points, late checkout, and a free fifth reward night — Diamond gets you higher priority for room upgrades, executive lounge access, and more. The card also comes with 10 free day passes to Priority Pass airport lounges.

    The Ascend earns 12x points on Hilton purchases, 6x points at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets — all within the US — and 3x points on everything else.

    Click here to learn more about the Hilton Honors Ascend card from Insider Picks' partner The Points Guy.

    5. Chase Sapphire Preferred

    Card Group — Chase Sapphire Preferred Chase Sapphire Reserve_21 1

    Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months)

    The Sapphire Preferred is one of the most popular all-around rewards credit cards, and it's easy to see why. This card earns 2x points per dollar spent on just about all travel and dining purchases, and 1x point on everything else. It also comes with a ton of travel and purchase protections, such as rental car insurance, trip delay coverage, and extended warranty.

    The sign-up bonus — 50,000 UR points — is worth, at the very least, $500 as cash back or gift cards. However, if you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and use points to pay, you'll get a 25% bonus, making points worth 1.25 cents each. That means that the sign-up bonus would be worth $625.

    Even more lucrative — the Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you transfer your UR points to a few different frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. This comes in handy because, in many cases, it costs fewer points to book a trip if you go through one of those programs, as opposed to using the points as cash. You can read more about why transferring points to frequent flyer programs gets you more value here.

    This all comes for a fairly standard annual fee of $95, which is waived the first year.

    Click here to learn more about the Sapphire Preferred from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

    6. Chase Sapphire Reserve

    Chase card

    Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months)

    The Sapphire Reserve is basically a beefier version of the Preferred. While the card comes with the same sign-up bonus, it earns points on everyday spending faster, nabbing a higher 3x points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases, and 1x on everything else. It also offers similar, though in many cases, enhanced travel and purchase protections.

    Unlike the Preferred, the Sapphire Reserve comes with a Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you and any travel companions free access to more than 1,000 airport lounges around the world.

    You can use points from the Reserve the same ways as with the Preferred, except that you'll get a 50% bonus when booking travel through Chase, making your points worth 1.5¢ each.

    The card carries a higher annual fee than the Preferred: $450. However, it also comes with a $300 travel credit each card member year. Each year, you'll get statement credits for the first $300 in travel-related purchases you make, including things like subway fare, taxis, parking, and tolls, as well as airfare and hotels. When you subtract this credit from the annual fee, the card is effectively only $150 each year.

    If you're not sure whether the Preferred or Reserve is the better card for you, take a look at this breakdown. Also keep in mind that you can typically only earn the sign-up bonus for one Sapphire-branded card every two years.

    Click here to learn more about the Sapphire Reserve from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

    7. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

    Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

    Welcome offer: 150,000 Hilton Honors points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months

    The premium Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card has a hefty $450 annual fee, but it comes with so many perks, benefits, and rebates that it's more than worth paying for Hilton loyalists — or even brand-agnostic hotel guests.

    In addition to a $250 airline fee credit per calendar year and a $250 Hilton resort statement credit each card member year, the Aspire also offers a $100 Hilton on-property credit every time you book a stay of two nights or longer at a Hilton property — you just need to book through a specific website for cardholders.

    The card also offers a free weekend night reward each year — regardless of how much you spend — and a second if you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year. It also comes with complimentary Diamond status.

    The Aspire earns a tremendous 14x points per dollar spent with Hilton, 7x points on flights booked with the airline, car rentals, and at US restaurants, and 3x points on everything else.

    Click here to learn more about the Hilton Honors Aspire card from Insider Picks' partner The Points Guy.

    8. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

    Sign-up bonus: 60,000 miles (after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days)

    Earlier this year, Barclays closed applications for one of its most popular credit cards, before relaunching the card with a new all-time highest sign-up bonus.

    Then, this fall, Barclays began waiving the card's $89 annual fee for the first year, a first for the card.

    The Barclaycard Arrival Plus earns double miles on every dollar spent. Miles can be redeemed for one cent each on travel purchases (applied as a statement credit to negate the cost of that purchase), or a half-cent each for cash back or gift cards. Best of all, you'll earn 5% of your miles back every time you make a redemption.

    Effectively, that means that the sign-up bonus is worth $600 toward travel, plus an extra $100 from the miles you'll earn meeting the spending requirement.

    The card comes equipped with Chip-and-PIN service, which, combined with the fact that the card has no foreign transaction fees, makes it a great option when traveling internationally.

    Depending on your spending habits, it is easy to get more value from the card than what you pay for the annual fee, thanks to the 2x earning rate on all purchases. Of course, the sign-up bonus alone will cover the annual fee for more than seven years.

    Click here to learn more about the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.

    9. Chase Freedom Unlimited

    Screen Shot 2018 10 09 at 10.22.30 AM

    Sign-up bonus: 15,000 points or $150 cash back (after spending $500 in the first three months)

    If you already have the Sapphire Reserve and are saving your points for something, the Freedom Unlimited can give your balance a nice boost. While Chase markets the card as "cash back," it actually earns Ultimate Rewards points that you can redeem for cash (1 point = 1¢).

    If you have a premium card like the Sapphire Reserve, you can pool your points from the two cards. The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5 points per dollar spent, so paired with a Sapphire Reserve, it's a great card to use for purchases that aren't made on travel expenses or dining.

    Best of all, the card has no annual fee and often has 0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, there's a 16.99%-25.74% variable APR. If you have a major purchase ahead of you, that introductory offer can be useful.

    While the best financial practice is to not spend more on the holidays than you can afford to pay off right away, the Freedom Unlimited's introductory APR does provide an option to pay a major expenses off over time without paying interest. That can be useful if you're planning out how to pay for something like an engagement ring during the holidays.

    The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a fantastic all-around card. However, to get the most value when it's time to spend your points, you need the Sapphire Reserve or Preferred card, too, so you can pool your points. Otherwise, points are only worth 1¢ each no matter how you use them and they can't be transferred to airline or hotel partners.

    Click here to learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

    10. Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

    https_%2F%2Fblogs City Cards wells fargo propel 8 1200x800

    Welcome offer: 30,000 Go Far points (after spending $3,000 in the first three months)

    This new card from Wells Fargo has one of the more attractive rewards programs you'll find from a no-annual-fee card. The new Propel card is actually a re-launch of an old product — Wells Fargo stopped accepting applications for the old card back in February, before announcing the new product and reopening applications this month.

    The card earns 3x points on all travel, dining, and select streaming services (and 1x point on everything else). If that sounds familiar, it's because it's almost the same as the popular Chase Sapphire Reserve.

    There are some key differences between the cards. The Propel lets you redeem points for 1¢ each toward cash back, merchandise, travel, or more, while the Sapphire Reserve offers a range of more valuable redemption options — it's easy to get at least 50% more value for Chase points. Plus, the Sapphire Reserve offers a number of premium perks that the Propel doesn't, like airport lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit travel delay insurance, and more.

    Of course, the Sapphire Reserve also comes with a $450 annual fee, while the Wells Fargo Propel doesn't have a fee. Between the new member offer, and the solid earning rate on popular spend categories, the Propel makes a decent option for those who don't travel often, or who aren't comfortable floating a large annual fee.

    Click here to learn more about the Wells Fargo Propel card from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

    DON'T MISS: Amex Platinum vs Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which card offers superior airport lounge access, according to a frequent flyer

    READ MORE: The best cash-back credit cards of 2018

    SEE ALSO: Eleven Madison Park is launching a pop-up restaurant in Aspen exclusively for AmEx cardholders — here's how to book a table

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    operation stack

    • French port workers strike so often in England that the British government has had to launch a truck parking scheme called "Operation Stack."
    • Operation Stack keeps British truckers lined up to enter France via underwater tunnel.
    • Brexit will likely intensify the need for Operation Stack as lines will stretch even longer to enter or exit the European Union. 
    • A new procedure, devised to address the post-Brexit world, has been christened "Operation Brock."


    The UK economy took a hit of £250 million ($328 million) a day for about 24 days one summer in 2015. British coastguards were sent out in droves with bottles of water and emergency meals. One official called the situation "absolute mayhem."

    The cause: a massive traffic jam in the southwest of England. Trucks carrying goods to continental Europe couldn't cross under the English Channel to the French port city of Calais. Up to 9,000 trucks— or lorries, as the Brits call them — were parked on England's M20 motorway for 24 days in the summer of 2015.

    While the summer of 2015 was a particularly bad back-up in England, strikes that shut down Calais (and thus, the rest of Europe) to England are common. France as a whole has an incredibly robust "strike culture." Each year, 171 days of work are missed per 1,000 employees in France, the second biggest in Europe. (In Germany, just 12 days per year are missed.)

    "It's part of the character of France to have these big social movements at a national level, that can last a long time,” French historian Stéphane Sirot told English-language French news outlet The Local

    And that tendency to strike is highly evident in Calais. Strikes affecting the port city are so common, in fact, that the southwest county of Kent, where these truck back-ups happen, has created a parking scheme called "Operation Stack" to accommodate those trucks.

    It's been enacted more than 100 times since 1997, most recently in May 2018. Operation Stack has also been deployed in times of inclement weather, fires, or industrial action on the UK side.

    Read more:A British truck driver who's worked in the US for a decade says the biggest problem with trucking in America comes down to how drivers are paid

    Operation Stack has a slightly panic-inducing name, but the procedure is simple.

    According to the county website, Kent's police ensure that trucks park on both sides of M20 and line up as they wait for Calais to re-open. The middle lane remains clear for emergency vehicles. Passenger cars are re-routed to other freeways

    operation stack

    When it's enacted, people who rely on the motorway for daily work and travel get frustrated. A Conservative lawmaker said Operation Stack caused locals to feel"stranded, completely cut off in their own town."

    The British Road Haulage Association's chief executive Richard Burnett once called for the French and British governments to deploy armed forces in lieu of Operation Stack. 

    Operation Stack meets a post-Brexit world

    Operation Stack has typically come as a result of industrial action on the French side. The debacle in the summer of 2015 followed the closure of a French ferry service, which employed some 600 people. 

    Around 100 port workers protested at the terminal, burning tires and halting traffic entering and exiting France. 

    But now, the Brexit referendum will only multiply the need for Operation Stack. 

    operation stack

    British trucks will not be able to enter Europe if the UK and the EU cannot reach a deal on Brexit, Business Insider's Thomas Colson reported from London.

    At the very least, lorries in a post-Brexit Britain would need considerably more time to enter the EU. Rather than two minutes to check a vehicle, the BBC reported it would take five to 45 minutes for customs to process trucks.

    That would create, according to a council report, a semi-permanent 13-mile stretch of trucks on one of Britain's most crucial roads.

    In response, the UK's Department of Transportation has created a replacement for Operation Stack: "Operation Brock." This operation will allow passenger vehicles to drive in certain sections of the freeway, rather than diverting traffic to smaller roads as Operation Stack does.

    SEE ALSO: Fascinating photos show what it's like to be a truck driver in different parts of the world — from driving pandas to the airport to spending $10,000 on truck art

    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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    • This April, a San Francisco-based startup called Goodly launched as a part of Y Combinator's summer batch.
    • Goodly aims to help companies help their employees pay off their student loans, by making regular matching contributions — kind of like a 401(k).
    • Greg Poulin, co-founder and CEO, was motivated to start Goodly because of his own experiences in paying off $80,000 in student debt.
    • Poulin believes that the budget for common company perks such as gym memberships and massage chairs can be better used for helping employees pay off student loans.

    While Greg Poulin, co-founder and CEO of Goodly, was attending Dartmouth, his father passed away unexpectedly. On top of the emotional toll, he also ended up having to borrow $80,000 in student loans to pay his tuition.

    Poulin has since moved to San Francisco, the thriving-but-pricey hub of the startup world, and he’s still chipping away at his loans with a monthly payment of about $900 a month. Frustrated by his experiences, he founded Goodly, a platform for companies to offer employees assistance with their student loans as a benefit.

    Goodly allows companies to make a monthly contribution to their employees’ student loans, similar to how companies often match 401(k) contributions. Based in San Francisco, Goodly was founded just this April, launched with a $120,000 seed investment as a part of the summer batch from famed startup program Y Combinator.

    “Most employers don’t know that student loan benefits exist. It’s both a challenge and an opportunity for us,” Poulin told Business Insider. “It’s helped us completely define a new category of benefits.”

    Companies often offer perks like gym memberships, massage chairs and snacks, but the money can be better allocated to helping employees pay student loans, Poulin says. That way, student loan repayment won’t be a large expense for companies. This benefit, he says, could help with both recruiting and retention.

    “The problem is those employees are saddled with crippling student loan debt,” Poulin said. “Gym memberships aren’t going to cut it when it comes to recruiting employees.”

    Hemant Verma, co-founder and CTO of Goodly, also had to pay off debts from his own education in India.

    “This is a massive problem for people,” Verma told Business Insider. “It’s the biggest problem our generation is facing...This was a mission we were energized with.”

    The scale of the problem

    Today, 70% of college students graduate with debt, and over 44 million Americans collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student debt. An American Student Assistance survey reported that 76% of respondents said student loan repayment benefit would be a deciding or contributing factor to accepting a job offer.

    The average college graduate has $37,172 in student loans, by some estimates, up $20,000 from 13 years ago. It makes sense that the demand for student loan benefits is rising.

    “For millennials, they bear the grunt of student loans,” Poulin said. “It’s an issue where we see people of all backgrounds.”

    This could potentially impact diversity and inclusion at companies as well, as student loans disproportionately affect women and people of color. For example, research shows that women carry two-thirds of the nation’s student debt load, and that African American students are four times more likely to default on their student loans than their white peers.

    Poulin has seen Goodly’s customers make contributions of $25 to $300 a month to repaying their employees’ student loans. On average, employers contribute $100 a month.

    “We’ve had companies of all sizes reach out to us,” Poulin said. “We’ve been really blown away by the interest of companies we’ve seen. It’s not surprising when so many are leaving the company in debt. This is a problem they’ve struggled with. It’s exciting to see companies that are working to proactively help their employees solve this challenge.”

    Get started early

    For Poulin, one thing that has helped him was making bi-weekly payments instead of monthly payments.

    “Over the course of the year, you’ll make an additional payment,” Poulin said. “It could shave off two years over the repayment period.”

    Still, student loan repayments can impede employees from making future investments such as graduate school, buying a house, marriage and retirement. Poulin sees investing in retirement as his biggest challenge, especially when he first started working after graduation.

    “I was contributing very little, if at all,” Poulin said. “Student loan debt is a major barrier. When you delay contributing to the 401(k), there’s a large compounding effect.”

    Having faced the issue of paying off student debt themselves, Poulin and Verma hope Goodly can help people slash the amount of time it takes to pay off loans.

    “We want to make student loans obsolete,” Verma said. “Student loans get a bad rep for most people. In terms of investments, it’s still a good thing basically. You’re able to upgrade your life. Our goal is not to get rid of it completely, but make sure you can pay it off as fast as possible.”

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Julia Shaw

    • Spot is a new chatbot that's designed to help victims of harassment and discrimination record and report their experiences.
    • The service uses natural language processing to understand and respond to users' answers to its questions in order to encourage them to give complete, accurate, and detailed accounts.
    • Harassment and discrimination are pervasive problems in the workplace and the vast majority of incidents go unreported.
    • Spot launched as a free service for individuals but is now available a paid service for enterprises and small businesses.

    Artificial intelligence promises to reduce car accidents through autonomous driving and crime through facial recognition.

    It might also help companies tackle the pervasive problems of workplace harassment and discrimination.

    That's the theory of the founders of Spot, a chatbot designed to help the victims of harassment and discrimination document their experiences. Spot uses natural language processing — and AI technology — to understand users and respond with appropriate follow-up questions. The system is built around decades of research into how to best help people recall emotional events reliably and with as much detail as possible.

    "We saw was this massive need for better reporting tools in the area of harassment," said Julia Shaw, a cofounder of Spot and a research associate at University College London.

    Spot is a chatbot built around the cognitive interview process

    Working under the auspices of All Turtles, the AI app incubator created by former Evernote CEO Phil Libin, Shaw and her cofounders launched the chatbot as a free service for individuals earlier this year. Late last month, they rolled out versions of Spot for small businesses and larger corporations that are designed to help them track and follow-up on reports of harassment and discrimination.

    Read more: The founder of a beloved productivity app thinks the startup model is broken — here's how he's trying to keep the tech industry from 'making the same 10,000 mistakes over and over again'

    Screenshot of Spot, a chatbot from artificial intelligence technology incubator All Turtles that's designed to help victims of harassment and discrimination record and report their experiences. As seen on November 5, 2018The chatbot is designed around the so-called cognitive interview process. That's a method of questioning people that's been shown to reliably encourage people to accurately recall past events. It usually relies on open-ended queries and questions that try to get at what the respondents were thinking or feeling during the time of the events they're trying to remember.

    Spot's questions follow a strict protocol dictated by the guidelines of the cognitive interview method. But the system relies on its natural language processing to respond specifically to the answers users give.

    At the end of the process, users have a document that they can edit and then save or submit to their employer or human resources department.

    Creating Spot was a "magical" moment for Shaw

    Shaw and her cofounders came up with the idea for Spot in July last year. After Libin met Shaw at a conference in London, he invited her to come out and see what his team was doing at All Turtles and talk with them about her research into how people form memories.

    Initially, Shaw thought they might work on an application that could assist people to better remember general events. But their conversations were taking place as accounts of sexual harassment in the tech industry and elsewhere were starting to gain major attention. Susan Fowler had already set off a chain reaction at Uber with her account of the harassment she said she experienced there, and others in the industry were coming forward to give their accounts.

    So, as she and her eventual cofounders talked through her research and the potential app, they narrowed its focus to helping people remember and record harassment or discrimination. Within four days, they'd figured out a basic plan for the chatbot.

    "I arrived as an academic and left as a cofounder of a company," Shaw said. "It was magical."

    Harassment and discrimination are big workplace problems

    There was and is good reason to think that a tool such as Spot is needed.

    As the #MeToo movement and a growing body of research have highlighted, harassment and discrimination are widespread in the business world. Depending on how the questions are asked, some 25% to 85% of women have experienced sexual harassment at work, a 2016 study from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported. Some 13% of men have been sexually harassed at work, according to a study earlier this year by the group Stop Street Harassment.

    Meanwhile, researchers have found that anywhere from 40% of 70% people who come from racial or ethnic minority groups have experienced workplace harassment due to their race or ethnicity.

    The vast majority of these incidents go unreported. Three out of four victims of harassment of any kind never tell a supervisor, manager, or union representative about it, the EEOC found. Among victims of sexual harassment in particular, only one in 10 women and just one in 20 men file a formal complaint or reported their experience to an authority figure, according to the Stop Street Harassment study found.

    While harassment and discrimination obviously harm those who experience it, it can hurt the companies where the incidents take place too. Such incidents can damage employee morale, reduce productivity, increase employee turnover, tarnish corporate reputations, and lead to costly legal actions.

    Spot is designed to make it easier for victims to report their experiences

    Victims don't report their experiences for a variety of reasons, experts say. Many worry that they won't be believed or that their superiors or others in a company will retaliate against them. Some also worry that their human resources department is conflicted or won't do anything in response to their report.

    "The fear of retribution and the lack of trust are real," said Kellie McElhaney, a professor at the Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley, and the founding director of the school's Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership.


    The fear of retribution and the lack of trust are real.


    Spot's founders designed the service to make it easier for victims to report their experiences. Many people feel more comfortable talking to a chatbot rather than a live person, Shaw said. It's not as emotionally charged. Victims can document what happened deliberately and extensively without feeling like they're under some kind of time pressure.

    Unlike some other tools on the market, Spot is intentionally designed to document more than just sexual harassment. People can use it to relate any kind of harassment or discrimination they've experienced at the office.

    "If you build a tool ... just for sexual harassment, you can leave out people who aren't sure why they're being disadvantaged or harassed at work," Shaw said.

    Victims can choose to report what happened — or not

    And Spot has features that address other concerns. Those documenting their experiences don't ever have to turn those records into official reports, for example. If they want to, they can just use the service to sort out what happened to them and what they think and feel about it.

    "It can be really cathartic just to have a place go and to really structure your thoughts," Shaw said.

    If they do choose to submit a report, they can do so anonymously and can edit the document before submitting it to remove details that might identify them or others. What victims decide to do with their record is then entirely up to them.

    "It depends on what [they] think is the most reasonable course of action," she said.

    After a past incident, a UK bank decided to give Spot a go

    With the new business versions of Spot, companies can roll out the service to their workforces. The corporate version offers an online dashboard that human resource departments can use to monitor and follow-up on reports that have been filed. The service will also email company representatives or send them notifications over the Slack messaging service when a report has been filed or updated.

    Corporate dashboard for Spot, the chatbot from All Turtles that's designed to help victims of harassment and discrimination report their experiences.Monzo, a financial services company based in the United Kingdom that offers mobile banking, rolled out Spot to its employees as soon as the enterprise version was launched last month. The startup company is trying to differentiate itself from more traditional banks, and company leaders wanted to promote a culture that is respectful and supportive of employees, said Ellie Macdonald, who helps run the company's human resources department as its people partner.

    The company had an incident in the past where it would have been helpful to have a service like Spot, she said, declining to go into detail about it.

    "We thought, Hey, wouldn't it be good to have some kind of tool where people feel a little more comfortable in reporting these things?" Macdonald said.

    Spot charges $2 per employee per month for the enterprise version of its service. For small businesses, it charges $1,200 a year, although it initially charged just $800.

    Experts say it could be a useful tool

    That tie to corporate HR departments could prove problematic, McElhaney said. If victims of harassment see the service as being too closely tied to their companies or worry about that they may be exposed if they use it, they could be reluctant to use it, she said.

    What's more, victims of harassment and discrimination often require more than just someone or something to record their experiences accurately, McElhaney said. They often need access or a referral to a counselor or therapist to work through their emotions. They also often want or need access to legal advisors to discuss their legal rights.


    The good news on this product is I would think it would be correlate with an increase in reporting.


    And people are different. Some may prefer recounting their experiences to a trained person rather than to a computer, said Amy Leisenring, who has written and taught about gender issues as a professor of sociology at San Jose State University.

    "It would depend on the person," she said.

    But both said the service could prove a useful tool in the fight against harassment and discrimination. It seems well designed to help victims process and report what happened to them, Leisenring said. By allowing them to decide whether to report or not, it gives them power and some measure of control over the process, McElhaney said.

    "The good news on this product is I would think it would be correlate with an increase in reporting," she said.

    That's precisely what Shaw and her cofounders are hoping for.

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    • People who seem to have a lot of self discipline are really better at limiting the temptations in their environment.
    • That's according to the book "Atomic Habits" by James Clear.
    • Clear's point is backed by research, including a study that found rearranging the kitchen at a Google office prompted people to snack less.

    I've been reading "Atomic Habits" by James Clear.

    Clear has a popular website where he writes about productivity; in this new book, he zeroes in on the science behind building good habits and breaking bad ones.

    One of the most enlightening snippets is about the function (or lack thereof) of self-control.

    Clear summarizes the research this way: "'Disciplined' people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations."

    This is brilliant, largely because I can stop feeling bad about myself for not being able to resist the siren call of Diet Coke, or Facebook, or the snooze button, or … lots of things.

    The study Clear mentions is an oft-cited paper published in 2012, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

    Researchers gave Blackberries to more than 200 people and pinged them throughout the day, reminding them to record whether they were currently experiencing any desires — to eat, to drink, to smoke, etc — whether they were trying to resist the temptation, and whether they'd ultimately given in. The researchers also measured participants' general levels of self-control.

    As it turned out, the people with the highest levels of self-control were no better able to resist temptation than anyone else. But they did experience fewer desires. The researchers say their results suggest that "high self-control operates more by avoiding temptations in the first place than by resisting them."

    Read more:The founder of PayPal uses data to optimize every aspect of his life — and he says being healthier comes down to a single habit

    If you want to stop mindlessly snacking during the day, you may have to reorganize your workspace

    Reading this section of "Atomic Habits," I was reminded of a study I covered a few years ago, about an experiment that was conducted in a Google kitchen.

    For the study, which was published in the journal Appetite, researchers redesigned the kitchen so that one beverage station was located closer to a snack bar than the other. Results showed that Googlers who visited the beverage station closer to the snacks were 69% more likely to grab a snack than those who used the beverage station farther away.

    In other words: Fighting the urge to snack (assuming you're not actually hungry) only becomes a thing when there are snacks in front of you. If you don't walk by the place where there are snacks, you'll probably be fine.

    A Reddit thread (which we first spotted through Ramit Sethi's daily email) yields similar insights. In response to the question, "'Thin' women, how much effort do you put to stay at that weight?" multiple people answered that they don't put in much effort at all. As soon as they got into the habit of, say, only eating vegan food or never eating food out of a box, it didn't take much for them to stay on track.

    To be sure, not every bad habit will disappear when you restructure your environment. If you're a cigarette smoker, staying out of bars might help, but it probably won't solve the problem immediately.

    Still, it's reassuring to know that disciplined people are really just trickier people. Go forth and join their ranks!

    SEE ALSO: A habit expert says people come in 4 types — and figuring out yours is the first step to being happier

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