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The latest news from Business Insider

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    weed grinder

    • The marijuana producer Aphria is crashing after short seller Quintessential Capital Management's Hindenburg Research said its business was full of overvalued buyouts and fraudulent financial reporting.
    • The firm alleges that Aphria insiders used funds from dilutive share issuance to complete unfair acquisitions and diverted millions of dollars through the transactions.
    • Aphria moved to the New York Stock Exchange from Canada in November, and shares have been under pressure in the aftermath of Canada becoming the second country to legalize the marijuana. 
    • Watch Aphria trade live.

    The marijuana producer Aphria slumped as much as 30% — to a low of $5.60 a share — after a firm alleged the company's business was full of overvalued buyouts and fraudulent financial reporting.

    "Aphria is part of a scheme orchestrated by a network of insiders to divert funds away from shareholders into their own pockets," short seller Quintessential Capital Management’s Hindenburg Research said Monday morning in a report titled "Aphria: a shell game with a cannabis business on the side."

    Aphria responded Monday afternoon in a press release, referring Hindenburg Research's report as "a malicious and self-serving attempt to profit by manipulating Aphria's stock price at the expense of Aphria's shareholders."

    According to Quintessential, Latin American acquisitions announced by the company in July appear to be "largely worthless." For example, Aphria announced plans to buy Marigold Acquisitions for $145 million from its sister company, Scythian Biosciences, where CEO Vic Neufeld also served as chairman. Hindenburg says Marigold Acquisitions isn't worth the valuation as its official registered office is an abandoned building that was sold off by its mortgage lender in January. 

    Quintessential alleges that Scythian served as the bridge in the shell game — agreeing to buy the shell Latin American companies and then sell its stake in the entity to Aphria at a large markup. The acquisitions were financed by copious and dilutive share issuance, and Aphria insiders have diverted as much as $700 million, or nearly half of its total net asset, through these transactions, according to Quintessential.

    Aphria's fundamentals cannot support its floating market cap, Quintessential added.

    "Aphria consistently generates negative cash, and its cannabis seems to be of low quality," the firm said. "Interviews with sources describe facilities infested with bugs, stricken with mold, and having failed audit inspections."

    Aphria, one of Canada's largest marijuana producers, listed on the New York Stock Exchange in November, transferring from Canadian markets. Shares exploded by as much as 155% in August and September after as tobacco makers such as Imperial Brands and beverage companies such as Constellation Brands triggered a "green rush" by entering cannabis space.

    But cannabis stocks including Aphria have been under pressure recently as traders sold the news of Canada becoming the second country to legalize the drug

    Read more:

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

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    uber ceo dara khosrowshahi

    • Uber recently changed its pay structure in some cities to prioritize trip time over distance driven. 
    • The company says the new structure will help drivers to better estimate their earnings from a given trip and help keep their cut consistent.
    • Still, some drivers posting on social media said that the structure has hurt their earnings and that the changes have made it more difficult to make money on long-distance trips. 

    A new Uber pay structure that prioritizes time over distance as they pertain to driver earnings has some drivers frustrated with the company.

    Last week, the ride-hailing giant shifted the payout rates for drivers in about 14 cities, USA Today reported. The changes are designed to provide a more consistent payout, regardless of trip variations, it said, adding that overall earnings shouldn't change.

    "We're putting more value on time to help create more consistent and dependable earnings, no matter where your next trip takes you," Uber said on its blog when it announced the changes in October.A spokesperson clarified that the rollout would be gradual, with a handful of cities getting the update last week.

    Some drivers weren't so convinced about the payout remaining the same. They took to social media to voice their concerns. 

    One driver said that he was making about $20 less per night after the changes took effect in Phoenix.

    "This is pretty crippling to a full time driver," he said in a Reddit forum for drivers. "I don't know if I can support myself anymore."

    Another said the move is effectively "subsidizing lower mile city trips by taking earnings from people that do a lot of long trips."

    And while the change is relatively small — Uber has long paid drivers based on actual trip length while charging customers a pre-determined fee that it estimates for the trip — the changes are part of a longer trend that has left some drivers unhappy with the company.

    "A lot of these services are getting cheaper and cheaper for the consumers," Harry Campbell, a driver who runs the wildly popular The Rideshare Guy blog, told The Ringer last week. "But I think for the driver's side things have actually probably gotten a lot worse."

    Other drivers said they planned to find slower routes to make up for the slashed distance rates. Even if the payouts end up about the same, one said he will likely cancel any ride of more than 50 miles.

    To see how the changes might work, Campbell used 144 historical rides from a driver's account over the summer and compared the payouts with what they would be now. Not surprisingly, the payout for trips of more than 10 miles starts to decrease, while many of the shorter trips see an increase. 

    Uber payout rates new versus old

    "We are constantly working to make earnings more consistent and dependable for drivers, while making our service more reliable anytime you need a ride," an Uber spokesperson said in response to questions from Business Insider. 

    Read more: Uber follows Lyft in announcing a rewards program — here's how it works

    Uber has repeatedly been criticized for not paying drivers— which it classifies as contractors rather than employees — a livable wage. According to a study commissioned by New York City, the median Uber driver takes home $14.17 per hour, the second-lowest among four major ride-hailing companies in the city.

    The company has taken some steps to combat this, including a beta driver rewards programthat provides things like cash back on gas purchases and tuition assistance for an online college program.

    "We know how frustrating it can still be when you don't know whether accepting a trip will be worthwhile," Uber said on its blog. "The goals of this update are to give you more confidence that every trip is worth your time, even when you encounter heavy traffic or unexpected delays, and to help create more dependable earnings from trip to trip."

    Do you work at Uber? Have a tip? Contact this reporter via Signal or WhatsApp at +1 (646) 376-6102 using a non-work phone, email at, or Twitter DM at @g_rapier.You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

    SEE ALSO: Uber is doubling down on food delivery, apparently starting with groceries in Canada

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This LEGO Bugatti Chiron is drivable — here's what it can do

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    aerial dubai india, Palm Jumeirah

    • Dubai has the world's largest artificial island, Palm Jumeirah, which is shaped like a palm tree and adds close to 50 miles to the city's coastline.
    • The island is packed with luxury hotels, beachfront villas, and apartment buildings. I stayed at one such hotel on a recent visit to Dubai.
    • While I had seen many aerial photos of the island prior to visiting, they don't do justice to just how impressive and absurd a development Palm Jumeirah is. 
    • The island is core to Dubai's strategy to become the top tourist destination in the world, but critics say construction has done severe environmental damage.

    Dubai is jam-packed with things that designed to be the biggest and most extravagant of the world  — the tallest building, the second-biggest mall, the most luxurious hotel, and so on.

    Perhaps no other project in the budding city more epitomizes this quest for absurd grandeur than the Palm Islands, an archipelago of artificial islands that extend off the Dubai coastline like the lair of a movie super-villain who just happens to really like the tropics.

    When reading about Dubai over the years, the Palm Islands were inevitably one of the first things I learned about. They are so ridiculous an endeavor, so stereotypically what one might expect people with limitless money to do, that it defies comprehension. But they are there, and they are real, as I discovered on a recent trip to Dubai.

    Due to an oversupply of hotels in Dubai right now, rooms at five-star hotels can be had for very cheap. So, on a recent trip, I booked a room for $180 at Dukes Dubai, a swanky beachfront hotel on Palm Jumeirah, the first completed palm island of three planned and the largest artificial island in the world. Construction began on the the other two, Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira, over a decade ago but is now on hold.

    Read More:If you've ever wanted to visit Dubai, there's likely never been a better time than right now. Here's why.

    I'll be honest: I'm not usually impressed by things made big and extravagant for the sake of it. But, there's something impossible to deny about the hubris behind the Palm Jumeirah and, when you see it in person, it sticks with you, for better or for worse.

    Most of the images of I've seen of the island are taken aerially or from space, so as show off the incredible detail of the palm-like structure. Those views don't do justice to the scale of the enterprise.

    It hit me when I looked out of the window from my room at Dukes Dubai, which sits on the trunk of the island. Here's what it looked like:


    In person and up close, you can still see the palm tree-structure. It is jarring how unnatural it looks. The first time I saw it,  I did a double take. 

    Construction on the Palm Jumeirah began in 2001. It was constructed through a process of dredging up 3,257,212,970.389 cubic feet of sand from the Persian Gulf and then spraying it into place, adding nearly 50 miles to Dubai's coastline. GPS satellites were used to ensure the accuracy of the where the sand was sprayed to create the palm tree shape.

    It is undeniably a monumental feat of engineering and modern technology.

    Hotels line the trunk of the palm tree, while villas and homes sit on the sixteen fronds of the island. The first homes were handed over in 2006 and, at this point, the island is packed with hotels, apartment buildings, and construction. Nakheel, the government-owned developer behind the project, expects 120,000 residents and workers and 20,000 tourists on the island when it's all said and done.

    All of that comes at an environmental price. Despite Nakheel's attempts to mitigate environmental damage, some researchers believe the construction of the islands has had drastic changes on local marine flora and fauna, coastal erosion, and wave patterns. Greenpeace called the islands a “visual scar,” clouding the once clear Arabian gulf with silt and burying coral reefs. In 2006, the World Wildlife Fund declared that the U.A.E. 's ecological footprint was the “highest in the world.”

    DubaiPalmIslandIn 2009, the New York Times reported that NASA satellites had found that the Palm Jumeirah island was sinking at a rate of 0.20 inches per year, a claim that Nakheel denies is true. The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi found that under its most severe climate change scenario, nearly all of Dubai, including the Palm Islands, would be underwater due to rising sea levels.

    But all of that is in the future. For now, Dubai is focused on its aim to be the most popular tourist destination in the world by 2025.

    Already, it is the fourth-most visited city in the world, with a projected 16.7 million visitors this year, according to Mastercard's Global Destination Cities Index.

    The Palm Jumeirah is a big part of the strategy to get there. One look at the structure, which is loaded with beachfront hotels from major brands like Atlantis, St. Regis, Sofitel, Langham, W, and Waldorf-Astoria makes clear why.

    SEE ALSO: If you've ever wanted to visit Dubai, there's likely never been a better time than right now. Here's why.

    DON'T MISS: Dubai has more than 65 malls in a city of 3 million people, and it's not because they're obsessed with shopping

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: These smart palm trees in Dubai can charge your phone and provide free Wi-Fi

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    • Some people might think mice are cute — but unfortunately, they can carry a lot of diseases that are dangerous to humans.
    • Contrary to popular belief, mice don't like cheese as much as they like peanut butter, chocolate, and bacon.
    • If you take away their food, shelter, and easy access to your home, you make it much less likely that mice will come back once you’ve kicked them out.

    Even if you think mice are cute, they're a human health hazard — diseases they can spread include hantavirus, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, and plague. You can get some of the old-fashioned snap traps if you want, or there are other humane options on the market as well. A cat or two may also be able to help rid you of your mouse problem if you don't feel good about killing them yourself.

    Two things you probably want to avoid are poison and glue traps. Poison can be dangerous to other animals — and humans, especially children — inside your home, as well as any animal outside that eats a mouse that just ate some poison. Glue traps can cause mice to gnaw off their own body parts to escape, which makes them not very humane at all, according to Popular Science.

    Once you know what attracts mice, you can develop a strategy to get them out of your home — and prevent them from coming back.

    When you're trying to bait them into traps, skip the cheese — mice love peanut butter and chocolate.

    Just like we humans, mice love carbs — and it makes sense if you're an animal trying to pack in as many calories as you can since you don't know if you'll be eating regularly. Chocolate and peanut butter are favorites — and they apparently love hazelnut spread as well, according to Terminix.

    Mice love a lot of foods, but of course, they have some they like better than others — and according to Orkin, cheese is lower on the list than you might expect.

    Good nesting materials are also very inviting to mice — especially things like cotton, old newspapers, dental floss, and feathers.

    Besides food, mice who have come into your home are looking for a good place to set up a home of their own. Making them feel welcome with building materials for their nests can make it easier for you to lure them into traps, according to Victor.

    Mice love bacon.

    The Illinois Department of Public Health suggests securely tying a small piece of bacon to your trap to lure mice. Terminix agrees and adds that fishing line or dental floss is ideal for the task. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    phone call work freelance


    Desperate employers in a tight job market are trying out a new kind of job interview: Automated phone calls in which a candidate answers a series of pre-recorded questions. What that means is that on these interviews, candidates effectively talk to themselves.

    More and more companies, from healthcare and insurance companies to retailers, restaurants, and law firms, are implementing this type of automated interview, the Wall Street Journal reported. But it may not be ideal for candidates.

    Jeremy Maffei told the Journal that his first automated interview for a digital marketing job in Florida caught him off guard.

    "I blanked out," he told the Journal. When asked to answer a common job interview question about his greatest success and biggest failure, he couldn't figure out whether his answers "resonated," adding that it was "highly impersonal."

    Recruiters told the Journal that this tactic is meant to lock in prospective employees as quickly as possible amid a nationwide labor shortage. The US unemployment rate is at 3.7% and there are more job openings than unemployed people.

    Read more: Starbucks' former HR exec says a job candidate's answer to a simple interview question predicts success better than their entire resume

    It's not the first unusual strategy employers have started using to attract talent in a tight job market.

    Some companies are offering people jobs after a single phone interview, Business Insider previously reported, a practice that's mainly being seen with seasonal jobs at retail companies such as Macy's and Bath & Body Works. But employees have also reported it happening for roles including teachersengineers, and IT professionals.

    And as Business Insider's Rachel Premack previously reported, companies across the country are swapping out job title keywords like "associate" with ones like "evangelist,""rock star," and "ninja" in order to appeal to younger employees.

    Have you ever had an experience with an automated phone interview? Email the reporter at

    SEE ALSO: Forget teenagers: Fast food joints across the US are hiring senior citizens, and it's thanks to 2 major demographic trends

    DON'T MISS: 'It kind of feels like a scam': Employers are so desperate for workers they're making job offers after a single phone call

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 4 lottery winners who lost it all

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    asus zenbook pro 15 review

    • The Asus ZenBook Pro is an absolute beast — but it's an expensive beast that isn't for everyone.
    • If you're a gamer or video editor looking to get a laptop that can handle some more intense processing, then this may well be the computer for you.
    • In place of a touchpad, you'll find a touch-sensitive display, which can be used as a touchpad the majority of the time, but then can perform extra functions when you need it to.
    • The base model comes at $1,750, while the top-tier model steps up the price to a whopping $2,300

    The humble laptop is changing.

    While most computers still feature a basic display-keyboard-touchpad setup, some companies are experimenting with new touch-sensitive portions of the keyboard. Apple, for example, updated the MacBook Pro to feature the company's Touch Bar, which allows for controls to be tweaked depending on the app that's open.

    Now, Asus is taking its turn with the new Asus ZenBook Pro, which boasts a touch display in place of a touchpad.

    Often, however, features like this tend to be more of a gimmick than anything else.

    Do the laptop's other features make it worth buying buying? We put the Asus ZenBook Pro to the test to find out.

    The design and features

    The first thing you'll notice about the ZenBook Pro is its design, and it's not a bad-looking laptop — but it is pretty big. Of course, that size is to accommodate for the power under the hood, but it's still something to consider if you're planning on taking the laptop on the road with you. The laptop itself measures 14.37-inches wide, 9.49-inches deep, and 1.89-inches thick, which is no small laptop in a world of MacBook Airs and Microsoft Surface Laptops.

    On the left of the laptop, you'll find a power input, HDMI output, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports, while on the right you'll get two USB-A ports, a MicroSD card slot and a headphone jack. It's a good selection of ports; we like that there are Thunderbolt 3 ports for the new wave of USB-C-shaped devices, while the laptop still retains a few USB-A ports for those who plan on keeping their older peripherals for the foreseeable future.

    The main display on the laptop comes in at 15.6-inches with a resolution of a whopping 3,840 x 2,160 and an aspect ratio of 16:9 — and it's a great looking display.

    This is one of the few laptops on the market with a 4K display, and while it probably has an impact on battery life, the fact is that it looks absolutely beautiful.

    It's perfect for the gamers out there who want a nice display to use when they aren't at their desk. The display is touch sensitive too, so if you prefer to reach out and use your hands to control Windows 10, you can do so.

    The keyboard on the Asus ZenBook Pro is relatively sturdy. There seems to be a good amount of travel, which is helpful for the typists out there, and we found typing on it generally comfortable.

    The new addition: a touch-sensitive display

    It's what's under the keyboard, however, that really makes the ZenBook Pro an interesting device.

    In place of a touchpad, you'll find a touch-sensitive display, which can be used as a touchpad the majority of the time, but then can perform extra functions when you need it to. For example, you can set the display up to act as a number pad, considering the laptop's keyboard doesn't have one, or you can set it to control music playback. The unit we tested came with a few different apps — a music player, calendar, number pad, calculator, and Spotify player. The touchpad itself has a full HD resolution too, which is a nice touch, but again, may strain the battery a little.

    It's a neat feature, and while we don't imagine it'll revolutionize the way you use your laptop, it could certainly come in handy from time to time. We did find that at some points it didn't work properly. For example, tapping the "Get More Apps" menu button in the settings menu didn't seem to work at all. As a touchpad, however, it worked perfectly fine — it seemed relatively responsive and quick.

    Under the hood, the Asus ZenBook Pro is an extremely capable machine. The base model comes with a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and has a traditional touchpad, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU. The model we reviewed, however, steps things up to a 2.9GHz Intel Core i9 processor coupled with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, options for between 256GB and 1TB of storage, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU. Safe to say, this is a serious workhorse, and even if you're a dedicated gamer you should get some use from this machine.

    Of course, you do have to pay for that performance — the base model comes at $1,750, while the top-tier model steps up the price to a whopping $2,300. That's a lot of money for a laptop.

    The result of these high-resolution displays and huge processing power is that the laptop uses up a lot of battery power, and while the battery definitely isn't terrible, it's not great either. We managed to get around 6 to 7 hours of use out of it before the battery failed, and that's not a whole lot under normal use. If you're looking for something to last you hours and hours, we recommend looking elsewhere But if you think you'll have access to a power outlet in many of the places you go, this device may do just fine.

    The bottom line

    Ultimately, the Asus ZenBook Pro is an absolute beast — but it's an expensive beast that isn't for everyone.

    If you're simply looking for a solid laptop that you can use for work, word processing, and basic gaming, then you probably don't need to spend the cash on a machine like this one.

    If, however, you're a gamer or video editor looking to get a laptop that can handle some more intense processing, then this may well be the computer for you. The touch display touchpad is a nice bonus too, and while you may not find much use for it, if you can work it into your workflow we think it could well come in handy.

    You can find models of the Asus ZenBook Pro for sale at Best Buy, Amazon, B&H.

    Top-tier model: Buy the 15.6" Asus ZenBook Pro (UX580GE) we tested at Best Buy for $2,299.99 (currently sold out)

    Base model: Buy the 15.6" Asus ZenBook Pro (UX580GD) at Best Buy for $1,749.99

    SEE ALSO: Amazon is slashing prices on popular holiday gifts for 12 days — here's what categories will be on sale and when

    DON'T MISS: Microsoft's new Surface Pro 6 is the best hybrid laptop you can buy — but there's a catch that's a deal breaker for some people

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Army-Navy game Army uniform

    • The US Military Academy at West Point is honoring a famed Army unit with its specially-designed Army-Navy football uniforms.
    • Army will face off against the Naval Academy Midshipmen on Saturday for the 119th iteration of the Army-Navy game.
    • This year's uniform honors Army's First Division, the "Big Red One," which gained fame for helping assure an Allied victory during World War I.
    • Some of the units within the division went on to storm Omaha Beach in Normandy during World War II.

    Army West Point Athletics has unveiled the uniforms for this year's Army-Navy football game. The team has collaborated with the academy's history department in recent years to create uniforms that honor individual units and their historic accomplishments. 

    This year's uniform is a tribute to the Army's First Division, known as the "Big Red One," which was formed and sent to the western front during World War I. Its units fought in many decisive American victories, including the Battle of Cantigny and the Meuse-Argonne offensive, that ensured an Allied victory.

    Read more: The Naval Academy's Army-Navy game uniform is a tribute to a beloved four-legged mascot named Bill

    SEE ALSO: The Naval Academy's Army-Navy game uniform is a tribute to a beloved four-legged mascot named Bill

    The "Big Red One" is prominently featured on the uniforms, including the players' helmets.

    Army West Point Athletics' web page for the uniforms describes the storied history of the "Big Red One" patch worn by members of the division. 

    The back of the helmets feature a World War I era-appropriate American flag.

    The sleeves of the uniforms honor the "Black Lions of Cantigny."

    In the first decisive US-led victory of World War I, the Army's 28th infantry regiment took the French village of Cantigny from the Germans in a mere 45 minutes.

    The unit defended against numerous counter-attacks over the course of two days, but held fast to their victory. 

    Read more: Armistice ended 100 years ago — these photos show how US troops helped turn the tide of the Great War

    The black lion is also featured on the players' compression shirts.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Whole Foods

    • Amazon is reportedly working on adapting its Amazon Go automated store technology to larger-format stores, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
    • The most natural fit for an application of this expanded technology would be Amazon's own grocery-store chain, Whole Foods.
    • This new use case greatly expands the use of Amazon Go's "just-walk-out" technology and realizes a future that retail has been gradually inching toward for years now.

    Amazon is constantly looking for quicker ways to get customers to part with their money. 

    After all, that's the main goal of the technology used in the company's cashierless Amazon Go stores, which use advanced technology to track what customers take, then charge them for it without making them wait in line. 

    Now Amazon is looking to expand the use of that technology to larger stores, according to a new report by the Wall Street Journal. The company recently started testing the use of the tech in a larger space in Seattle, the Journal reported. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by Business Insider Monday morning. 

    The most obvious use case for this would be Amazon's own fleet of grocery stores, Whole Foods, which are much larger than the Amazon Go convenience stores the company has been opening in cities across the country. 

    While Whole Foods stores were an average of 40,000 square feet as of 2017, Amazon Go stores have all been less than 2,300 square feet — more convenience store than full-scale fresh grocery. 

    But that could change once Amazon is able to crack the code of scaling the technology to spaces where there are more items for sale, more people shopping, and just generally more information to take in and process.

    A cashierless future

    Whether or not it happens in the next year or the next decade, it's clear where retail is going. Technology that allows customers to walk out without having to check out has proliferated this year, though without Amazon's array of fancy technology.

    Retailers including Nike have implemented in-store technology that allows customers to buy items with just a smartphone. It's not quite the neat plan Amazon has for its stores, but it has a similar result: skipping the lines before the cashier.

    Read more:Take a look around Nike's enormous new flagship store in New York City, complete with the world's largest for-sale collection of Nike shoes

    Nike recently debuted what it calls "instant purchase" in its new flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York. Customers use the Nike app to instantly purchase items, which they can then take home from the store with no questions asked. All they have to do is point the app at the item's barcode. Small kiosks are littered throughout the store, with bags for shoppers to take and use as well as a place to ditch hangers.

    Instant purchase is now rolling out to all Nike stores. It's only a matter of time before cashierless tech moves out of sneaker-buying and into grocery-buying in a more meaningful way.

    SEE ALSO: Amazon encouraged shoppers to do something retailers hate on Black Friday

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How ketchup started as a fish sauce from Asia

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    woman laptop online banking

    • A recent study by Goldman Sachs found that 60% of survey participants didn't know the annual percentage yield (APY) on their savings accounts.
    • Here, author Gina Ciliberto describes how finding a savings account with a better interest rate can be just a quick search away.

    In an effort to teach me the importance of saving money, my mom started a savings account for me when I was six years old.

    As a child, I remember filling out paper deposit slips, diligently writing each digit of what seemed like an impossibly long bank account number. When I visited a physical location, the teller thanked me for being a loyal Wells Fargo customer for one, then two, decades. My banking routine had a sentimental aspect to it.

    There was only one problem: The interest rate on my savings account was 0.01%. As I gained pennies on my money each year, I knew that maintaining the account wasn't practical. A quick Google search revealed a slew of savings accounts that offer over a 2.0% annual percentage yield (APY), sometimes as high as 2.25%.

    Of course, even a relatively high interest rate of 2% on a savings account won't beat inflation, and I realize the importance of investing money for the future outside of savings accounts. But, if you're putting money into a savings account, getting the best possible interest rate is a place to start.

    The importance of APY

    It turns out, I'm not alone in my lack of education around the importance of APY for savings accounts.

    In March 2018, Marcus by Goldman Sachs took to the streets of New York City to ask 1,053 randomly selected interviewees about their banking practices. They learned that nearly 60% of participants didn't know the APY on their savings account. Over 50% of participants had opened accounts without looking at any other options.

    As Dustin Cohn, head of brand and marketing communications at Marcus by Goldman Sachs, told Business Insider: "The national average APY is 0.35% on savings accounts, but even that is higher than what average consumers are getting." lists the national average APY as even lower, a meager 0.08%. In fact, many people in the Goldman Sachs study had their money in accounts with a 0.1% APY, or lower, Cohn noted.

    Goldman Sachs calculated how much a general lack of awareness around savings account APY costs Americans each year, considering that people can get a 2% or higher APY, but only earn 0.35% on average. The result: Americans are missing out on $25 billion per year.

    Read more: 12 clever ways to save money every day, according to financial experts

    "Americans are not taking advantage of the chance to maximize their savings," Marcos Rosenberg, head of US deposits at Marcus, told Business Insider. "By not exploring better savings account options, they are essentially stuffing money under their mattresses instead of switching to a bank partner that helps them increase the value of their hard-earned money."

    Americans' lack of savings

    For Georgia Lee Hussey, a certified financial planner and founder and CEO of Modernist Financial, this lack of awareness is not surprising. She said that it's common for people to not consider the impact of their banking structures on their financial situation. The real culprit here, she said, is a general lack of maintenance in one's financial life.

    "It's best practice to evaluate where you're banking and what you're getting from your accounts every couple of years," Hussey said.

    Perhaps one reason Americans don't seem to research their savings accounts is that many don't put much money in savings accounts in the first place. Goldman's March 2018 study also revealed that 56.13% of Americans currently have less than $5,000 in a savings account. This month, Smart Asset reported that the average American under 35 years old has $1,580 in savings. Americans aged 35 to 44 have $5,000.

    Hussey is an advocate of having multiple savings accounts: one emergency fund with three-to-six-months (freelancers, independent contractors, and people who own a business should have at least six months) of cost of living expenses, and others with specific short-term savings goals like an upcoming vacation, new car, education, or wedding. Beyond an emergency fund and specific, goal-oriented savings, money should be invested, Hussey said.

    Read more: 13 people reveal how much money they've made from their side hustles

    Finding the right bank

    Hussey encourages clients to fully research where they're putting their money, and to become informed on everything from hidden fees to corporate values. She urges clients to consider credit unions or Benefit Corporation banks that often offer high APY and match customers' values.

    "The question is whether your bank is going to operate in your best interest," Hussey said. "Banks with Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI) investments put some portion of their deposits toward helping the folks who are typically not served by the financial industry. I also encourage clients to research how many of their bank's loans go to local businesses. A big bank can say they do these things, but it's such a tiny percentage of their portfolio that it's not meaningful."

    Regardless of how much money you have in your savings account, there's no reason not to maximize your returns. Savings accounts, checking accounts, CDs, and investments can all be opened online, many of them through mobile apps.

    As Cohn put it: "You can sit on your couch and have a better savings account in five minutes."

    He's right: finding higher interest rates doesn't have to be laborious. After a few minutes of Google searches, I found an account that was a better fit for me. Now, I'm a brand-new customer at a different bank, and my interest rate is, happily, over 2%.

    "People work hard for their money," Cohn added. "Their money should work hard for them."

    SEE ALSO: After retiring from tech in my 30s, I travel the world with my family on $65,000 a year — here's what we spend in a typical week

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    Eric Murdock

    • Former NBA player Eric Murdock has filed a lawsuit against United Airlines and a flight attendant, alleging "racial discrimination and wrongful profiling" after an in-flight altercation over the summer.
    • Murdock, 50, a former first-round pick who played in the NBA from 1991 until 2000, has accused United Airlines of "race-baiting" him when he tried to switch seats on United Flight 1537 from Las Vegas to Newark on July 13, 2018. 
    • According to court documents obtained by Business Insider, the incident stems from a disagreement over an empty exit-row seat, where Murdock and Brenda Williams, a fellow passenger and the second plaintiff named in the complaint, allege they "were discriminated against, harassed, and humiliated" by one of United's flight attendants. 

    Former NBA player Eric Murdock has filed a lawsuit against United Airlines and a flight attendant, alleging "racial discrimination and wrongful profiling" after an in-flight altercation over the summer.

    Murdock, 50, has accused United Airlines of "race-baiting" him following an altercation with a flight attendant over an exit-row seat on United Flight 1537 from Las Vegas to Newark on July 13, 2018. 

    According to court documents obtained by Business Insider, the incident stems from an empty exit-row seat, where Murdock and Brenda Williams, a fellow passenger on Flight 1537 and the second plaintiff named in the complaint, allege they "were discriminated against, harassed, and humiliated" by one of United's flight attendants. 

    Murdock, a former first-round pick who played in the NBA from 1991 until 2000, and Williams are seeking $10 million in damages. 

    Read more:United accidentally sent an unfinished draft of an email scolding flight attendants for not dressing properly

    According to the lawsuit filed last month in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Murdock, who is black, asked a flight attendant — a white woman who was not named a defendant in the suit — prior to takeoff if he and his son could move into an exit-row seat. At the time, Murdock and his son were seated 21 rows apart.

    The flight attendant told Murdock he could sit there as long as no other passenger was in the seat, the suit says. The flight attendant is also said to have informed Murdock that "there was a premium price for the seats," which he offered to pay. 

    united airlines

    Court documents state that just before taking off, the exit row seat became occupied, and Murdock spoke with the passenger then sitting in the exit row seat about possibly moving. The passenger voluntarily agreed to switch seats with Murdock.

    When Murdock and his son switched with the gentleman into the exit row, a second flight attendant referred to in the lawsuit as "Jane Doe" allegedly told him to return to his seat and that the exit row must remain empty. Doe is named as a co-defendant in the suit. 

    Murdock and his son complied with Doe's order and returned to their seats, the complaint noted. According to the lawsuit, about 30 minutes into the flight a white female passenger moved into the empty exit row seat. Doe not only allowed her to remain seated, but also served her drinks, the filing says. 

    Murdock then sat in the other empty exit row seat next to the white female passenger. However, Doe ordered Murdock to return to his seat, the court documents say. When the plaintiff asked why the female passenger was allowed to stay, Doe allegedly said that "it was none of his business," according to the complaint.

    Upon observing this altercation, Williams, a black female passenger on the flight, allegedly asked Doe "why she was being rude" to Murdock. Court documents claim that the flight attendant screamed at Williams, accused her of recording her with a cell phone, and attempted to physically take the phone from Williams. 

    Williams and Murdock did not know one another prior to the flight. 

    Shortly thereafter, the complaint states, as Doe came down the aisle with the beverage cart, she asked Murdock "in a snide and condescending tone" if he wanted a beverage, or if he "was going to boycott?" but Murdock did not reply. 

    "That one really stuck in his craw. It's just such an off and wrong comment," Gary Port, the attorney representing Murdock and Williams, told Business Insider. 

    The court filings say that when the flight landed at Newark Liberty International Airport, the pilot told passengers to remain seated due to "an emergency situation," before Murdock and Williams were led off the plane by armed Transportation Security Agents. They were not detained. 

    In a statement provided to Business Insider through Port, Murdock said he feared the country's current divisive climate "encourages people to be the worst versions of themselves." 

    United Airlines did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment, but a United spokeswoman did tell the New York Post that the company has "zero tolerance" for discrimination and would look into the allegations.

    Here's Murdock's and Williams' complaint in its entirety:


    SEE ALSO: An American Airlines flight attendant is suing the airline for $1 million, accusing another crew member of assaulting her with a scarf and dragging her down the aisle

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    josh silverman etsy

    • 18 months since becoming Etsy's CEO, Josh Silverman has turned Etsy's stock around by restructuring the company and cutting departments like Etsy Studio, a 150-person team that focused on craft supplies.
    • Silverman outlined search technology, shipping cost and delivery times as priorities for 2019.
    • But the brand still has work to do to catch up with Amazon, including creating a solid brand identity.

    Etsy was in rough shape when Josh Silverman took over the reigns as CEO in 2017. At the time, the company was going through leadership changes and layoffs and reportedly exploring a sale while Amazon's clout loomed.

    Eighteen months later, Silverman is getting the company back on track (the company has reported accelerated growth for five quarters) by restructuring teams and cutting resources like its wholesale market. For example, Silverman knocked out 50% of projects on Etsy's product and market roadmap and shut down Etsy Studio, a marketplace for craft supplies that was staffed by 150 people.

    Read more:We went to Etsy's luxurious office and saw why it's one of the most celebrated in the world

    "We made a lot of very painful decisions," Silverman said while speaking with Jessi Hempel, LinkedIn's senior editor at large, at Business Insider's Ignition conference on Tuesday. "We decided that there were just four things we needed to do very well."

    Those four things were:

    • Better search and discovery tools
    • Improve consumer trust with payments
    • New marketing capabilities for sellers
    • New tools for sellers.

    Silverman said search and discovery will be a focus of 2019.

    "We still need to make search and discovery much better, the visual merchandising of our search results," Silverman said. "I still think there's a lot of opportunity to do better."

    Etsy also needs to clarify its shipping costs and delivery times to customers, he said.

    Etsy plans to pump up its marketing

    Silverman acknowledged that Etsy needs to do a better job of explaining its brand to consumers.

    "You've got to do something unique and different, and that has to be important enough for people to actually prioritize it," Silverman said. "When people want something special, something that expresses their sense of identity, something that shows they care about someone else ... those are not things that Amazon can or ever will be able to do. That's Etsy."

    He said that Etsy is focused on selling unique goods — a feature he believes that Amazon cannot fulfill, even though Amazon has slowly but steadily inched into handmade goods with its Handmade site since 2015.

    To help with that, the brand is currently running a holiday TV campaign to raise brand awareness.

    "When you roll the clock forward 10 years from now, I don't think we're going to have two million places you can buy online," Silverman said. "I think there's going to be a couple of the big ones, and then there's a few places that have really earned the right to stand as a company. I think Etsy is going to be one of those."

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    ariana grande thank u next vid

    • A critique of Ariana Grande's "Thank U, Next" video published on Into went viral for its "reaching" analysis that said the video is "anti-queer."
    • In the wake of the controversy, Into removed the author from the post claiming that they were receiving death threats.
    • Changing or removing names from articles is a controversial act in journalism.

    Ariana Grande's "Thank U, Next" broke the internet twice, with smash releases of the song itself and its '90s nostalgia-laden music video— and now, a hot take critiquing the video is creating its own online buzz.

    On Monday, LGBT-focused publication Into posted an opinion piece calling out the video for numerous "anti-queer" moments. The piece alleged that a man in drag was meant to mock trans women, called a reference made in a cameo by singer Troye Sivan (who is gay) homophobic, accused Grande of blackface, and suggested that Kris Jenner mocked her ex Caitlyn Jenner for being trans in her cameo appearance in the video:

    She simply shouts "Thank you, next, bitch!" while holding a camera — the final line of the music video. As "bitch" is generally directed at women and "thank you, next" is in reference to relationships, this is likely aimed at Caitlyn Jenner... Perhaps this is in reference to Caitlyn’s far-right politics. Perhaps it’s a jab at her trans identity. We can’t be sure unless Kris Jenner speaks out about the line.

    The article quickly spread online, attracting massive amounts of criticism for what many called "reaching," or drawing unsupported conclusions. In less than 24 hours, Into's tweet had over 3,200 replies.

    Hours after the piece was posted, Sivan, who has 8.71 million Twitter followers, replied to the article, writing on the social media platform, "This literally can't be real I'm scream."

    Tatianna, of Ru Paul's Drag Race, echoed the sentiments of most of those replying, writing, "I'm sorry but this is the farthest reaching article I've read in my whole entire life."

    The pile-on quickly turned dark, according to the post's author and Into.

    "I've received dozens of death threats [on Twitter and Tumblr] in the past 24 hours," wrote the author in an email to INSIDER. The threats, which the author says are coming from "almost exclusively Ari fans" have allegedly called for the author's "shooting, hanging, and burying alive." Several of the threats have been verified by INSIDER.

    The author, who identifies as a fan of Grande's music, called the response "massively overblown," saying, "this was supposed to be a lighthearted thinkpiece/op-ed questioning the artistic choices of the production, not Ariana herself."

    As a result of the alleged threats, Into removed the name of the author, writing: "INTO has historically been a place for varying opinions from LGBTQ people around the world, and will remain such a place — but these opinions never warrant violence. And when a writer's own life could potentially be at stake, we must take necessary steps to ensure their safety."

    Read more: Ariana Grande revealed why Mac Miller isn't in the 'Burn Book' scene of her new music video

    Despite the step, Twitter users proceeded to identify the author with posts and screenshots, expressing outrage at allegations of sexual assault previously made against the author.

    Changing or removing names has been a controversial step in journalism. Many journalists believe that changing a byline is a form of deception, as senior vice president of journalist group Poynter said in 2014. The Washington Post has had a longstanding rule not to publish anonymous op-eds, as has been repeatedly confirmed by editor Fred Hiatt.

    But some digital outlets have become more flexible on the standard under the pressure of massive shaming and threats that sometimes occur on the internet.

    Other users targeted the editors of the site, asking why the piece was published at all. Into editor Zach Stafford did not immediately respond for comment. On Twitter, writer Sydney Urbanek wrote, "Any editor that'd run something like this as is doesn't care about the writer."

    The author of the piece seemed to agree, saying, "The piece could have been edited more heavily."

    "I assumed mostly queer and trans people would be the ones to read it." wrote the writer. "I could certainly have done a better job explaining concepts like transmisogyny, anti-queer sentiment, and blackface had I known this would blow up."

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    madonna and lady gaga

    • On Tuesday, Madonna posted a clip of an old interview in her Instagram story — and her words bear a strikingly resemblance to a popular Lady Gaga quote.
    • Fans believe this is another example in a long history of shade and insults traded between the two starlets.
    • Their feud began in 2011, when Gaga's song "Born This Way" drew comparisons to Madonna's "Express Yourself"— which Madonna later called a "blatant rip-off."
    • "I've basically been hoping that I would become so good that one day I would piss off Madonna," Gaga told Attitude in 2013.
    • Here's everything you need to know about this drama.

    Fans believe that Madonna has reignited her longstanding feud with Lady Gaga using a short interview clip. 

    On Tuesday, the 60-year-old starlet posted a clip of an old interview in her Instagram story: "100 people in the room and 99 people say they liked it, I only remember the one person who didn't," she says in the video, which she re-posted from Giovanni Bianco, the Creative Director of Vogue Italia.

    "My girl does and says everything always first of all," Bianco captioned the clip.

    Fans immediately drew comparisons between the quote and a phrase that Gaga has repeatedly used during the "A Star Is Born" press tour. 

    "There can be 100 people in a room and 99 don't believe in you, but all it takes is one," Gaga has said in reference to director and co-star Bradley Cooper, who advocated for Gaga's casting in the lead role. (In fact, she has repeated variations of this phrase so often that fans have made memes and compilation videos.)

    Madonna deleted her re-post of the clip shortly after receiving ire from Gaga fans. She did, however, share two posts with potentially interesting captions — the first of which reads, "Don't f--- with me Monday."

    "I heard it all is cheap. If you can't improve the silence...say nothing," she captioned the second post, adding the hashtag #sorrynotsorry.

    I heard it all is cheap. If you cant improve the silence.........say nothing. #sorrynotsorry 💜

    A post shared by Madonna (@madonna) on Dec 3, 2018 at 8:39pm PST on

    Here's a complete rundown of everything you need to know about this feud.

    The two pop stars began trading barbs when Gaga released "Born This Way" in 2011.

    The popular single immediately drew comparisons to Madonna's "Express Yourself."

    It was not the first time Gaga had been accused of borrowing heavily from Madonna's style and sound: her embrace of Catholic imagery, LGBTQ shout-outs, and cone bras all bear similarities to Madonna's past works. But it was the first time either starlet had addressed the comparisons directly.

    lady gaga

    "I thought, this is a wonderful way to redo my song. I mean, I recognized the chord changes. I thought it was... interesting,"Madonna told ABC News, calling Gaga's song "reductive."

    "I certainly think she references me a lot in her work," she continued. "And sometimes I think it's amusing and flattering and well done."

    Shortly after, Gaga called the comparison "moronic."

    "If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression,"she told NME. "It's the same one that's been in disco music for the last 50 years. Just because I'm the first f---ing artist in 25 years to think of putting it on Top 40 radio, it doesn't mean I'm a plagiarist, it means that I'm f---ing smart. Sorry."

    Months later, Gaga admitted that "Madonna is a wonderful influence" on her career: "It's all down to her that I'm able to do what I do," she told the Daily Mirror.

    Madonna began to perform a mashup of "Born This Way" and "Express Yourself" on tour in 2012.

    Madonna rehashed the controversy in 2015.

    "The only time I ever criticized Lady Gaga was when I felt like she blatantly ripped off one of my songs,"she told Rolling Stone. "It's got nothing to do with ‘she's taking my crown' or ‘she's in some space of mine.' She has her thing."

    "I do think she's a very talented singer and songwriter," she continued. "It was just that one issue. And everybody's obviously running with it and turned it into a huge feud, which I think is really boring, quite frankly. And you know what? I don't care anymore."

    lady gaga madonna feud netflix

    Gaga responded in 2016, telling Beats 1 radio host Zane Lowe that she and Madonna are "very different."

    "I wouldn't make that comparison at all and I don't mean to disrespect Madonna, she's a nice lady, and she's had a fantastic huge career, biggest pop star of all time," she said, as reported by Page Six. "But I play a lot of instruments. I write all my own music. I spend hours a day in the studio. I'm a producer. I'm a writer. What I do is different."

    "I just will not be compared to anyone anymore, I am who the f--- I am and this is me. My life story is my life story, just like yours is."

    "I've basically been hoping that I would become so good that one day I would piss off Madonna."

    Gaga ignited fan fury when she addressed the feud head-on in a 2016 interview with Attitude magazine.

    "I have to be really honest, I was completely kind of floored that Madonna was singing my song on her stage every night," Gaga said, as reported by HuffPost

    "The fact that I was on her mind at all. I mean, Madonna's... she's Madonna. I looked up to her for a long time. I'm not quite sure what her intention was — to do that in the show, but I don't really care,"Gaga continued. "I think playing into the gossip of the tabloids and, I guess the fodder of the competition, that's just not what I'm about."

    "All it meant to me was that Madonna Ciccone was singing my song on her stage and I'm 27! And as a punk-rocker from New York, I've basically been hoping that I would become so good that one day I would piss off Madonna."

    This quote is still a sore spot for Madonna fans, who believe that Gaga was exposing herself as having bad intentions.

    "I just want Madonna to f---ing push me up against a wall and kiss me and tell me I'm a piece of s---."

    Gaga expressed some conflicting viewpoints on the Madonna controversy in her 2017 Netflix documentary "Gaga: Five Foot Two."

    The "Joanne" singer vacillated between admiration for Madonna and frustration with her apparently shady actions.

    Read more: Lady Gaga gets real about her feud with Madonna in her documentary

    "Telling me that you think I'm a piece of s--- through the media is like, it's like a guy passing me a note through his friend. My buddy thinks your hot," Gaga says. "Where's your buddy f---ing throwing me up against the wall and kissing me? I just want Madonna to f---ing push me up against a wall and kiss me and tell me I'm a piece of s---."

    Later in the documentary, you can see the singer briefly joke about her feud with Madonna again while visiting her grandma.

    A younger photo of Lady Gaga is shown from high school when she was known as Stefani Germanotta before she had braces and a visible gap is seen in the singer's front two teeth.

    lady gaga teeth gap

    "Hey, if I had kept that gap then I would have had even more problems with Madonna," says Gaga.

    Madonna, of course, famously has a gap between her two front teeth.

    madonna women's march

    Gaga has not yet responded publicly to Madonna's most recent shade. Reps for neither Gaga nor Madonna immediately returned INSIDER's request for comments. 

    Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.

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    california fires

    • The death toll from two recent California wildfires dropped to 88 people on Monday, after the Butte County sheriff announced that remains thought to be separate cases were "proven by DNA" to be the same person. 
    • The Camp Fire in Northern California destroyed an entire town in less than a day and killed at least 85 people, making it by far the deadliest fire in the state's history. 
    • Both the Camp Fire and the Woolsey Fire on the outskirts of Los Angeles are now 100% contained. 
    • California wildfires are becoming so frequent and pervasive that local officials say there's almost no need for the term "wildfire season" anymore.

    The death toll from California's deadliest wildfire on record dropped back to 85 people on Monday, after authorities discovered that separate bags of remains recovered from the Camp Fire were "proven by DNA" to be the same case.

    That shred of good news came as workers continue to clear debris and sift for remains in the area of Northern California hit by the Camp Fire. Eleven people are still missing, according to the Butte County Sheriff's Office, so it's possible the number of victims could still rise. 

    Authorities announced on November 25 that the fire, which had raged for over two weeks in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, was 100% contained. The blaze scorched 153,336 acres — an area larger than the city of Chicago.

    Widespread rains over the last couple of weeks brought relief to firefighters, but the wet, muddy conditions complicate efforts to locate human remains. Only 43 of the 85 remains have been positively identified to date. 

    The other deadly wildfire in California, the Woolsey Fire on the outskirts of LA, is also 100% contained, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. The Woolsey flames burned 96,949 acres and killed three people, bringing the combined death toll from both the Woolsey and Camp fires to 88 (not 91, as previously reported).

    This year to date, 7,989 fires have burned across California, fueled by hot, dry conditions and aggressive winds. The causes of the Woolsey and Camp Fires are still under investigation, but sparking power lines may have played a role in the Camp Fire.

    paradise repair power lines camp fire

    The Camp Fire was the deadliest and most destructive in California's history

    The Camp Fire moved at a deadly pace— about 80 football fields per minute — after breaking out on the morning of November 8. The 27,000-resident town of Paradise was in flames within hours.

    When President Donald Trump visited the wreckage in Paradise, California on November 17, he described the area as "total devastation."

    camp fire san francisco sacramento 1

    The fire's quick spread made successful evacuations nearly impossible.

    "I was sitting in my car just screaming, waiting to die," Paradise resident Jackie Rabbit told INSIDER. She ditched her car and started running. She didn't even notice her bloody knee or injured ankle as she raced to safety. 

    At least six people burned to death in their cars as they tried to escape, the Butte County Sheriff's Office said.

    "The fire was so close I could feel it in my car through rolled-up windows," Rita Miller, who fled Paradise with her mother, told The Associated Press.

    Before this, California's deadliest blaze was a 1933 fire that broke out in LA's Griffith Park. It killed 29 laborers who were caught unprepared to battle the flames. The Camp Fire's death toll is almost triple that.  

    More than 13,900 homes and 500 businesses were destroyed, along with over 4,200 other buildings, making the Camp Fire the most destructive wildfire in California's history in terms of structures lost. 

    You can learn more about damage from the Camp Fire on Cal Fire's Structure Status Map and see evacuations on the Camp Fire Evacuation Map.

    Searching for human remains among the ash and rain is tricky 

    search for bodies camp fire

    Coroner search teams are still looking for victims in Paradise. After the fire receded from the Paradise area, more than 450 people were dispatched to look for human remains in the debris, according to the Associated Press. Abandoned cars in driveways were taken as a potential sign that residents might not have escaped.

    More than 800 volunteers spent their Thanksgiving holiday helping to look for victims, the AP reported

    Sifting through the ashes, the teams sometimes recover only the partial remains of a victim to place in a body bag.

    "The long bag looks almost empty as it's carefully carried out of the ruins and placed in a black hearse,"the AP's Gillian Flaccus reported from Paradise.

    searching in paradise camp fire rain

    The Butte County Sheriff's office is working with anthropologists from California State University at Chico to help identify bone fragments among ash in the area. Some residents have given cheek swabs to help officials identify their relatives' remains.

    You can register yourself as safe or search for loved ones who are missing using the Red Cross' "Safe and Well" list online.

    Federal money is arriving, but Trump incorrectly blamed a lack of raking for the fires

    Paradise Thanksgiving camp fire wildfire

    Governor-elect Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Butte County the day the fire broke out and sent a letter to President Donald Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency asking for federal assistance.

    Trump approved some federal assistance for the California fires on November 9 and said on November 12 that he approved an "expedited request for a Major Disaster Declaration," which allows people whose homes or workplaces were hit by the Woolsey or Camp Fires to apply for federal assistance.

    But on Twitter, Trump blamed the fires on poor forest management and threatened that there may be "no more Fed payments." (The federal government oversees more than 40% of California's land.) When visiting, Trump also criticized Californians for not doing more raking

    "I was watching the firemen the other day, and they were raking areas — they were raking areas where the fire was," Trump said on Fox News Sunday. "That should have been all raked out and cleaned out," he added. "You wouldn't have the fire." 

    Trump suggested that's how Finland prevents forest fires, but the president of Finland said it's not true.

    camp fire walmart parking lot evacuees

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said in a release that federal disaster assistance for the fire victims "can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster."

    Over $20 million in federal aid has been distributed so far, according to the agency, mostly in the form of hotel vouchers and other housing assistance.

    The aid is much needed among fire victims who lost everything. Troy Miller, a Butte County resident, was camping in a truck next to the remains of his house in Concow. 

    "I'm alive and I'm still up here," Miller told the Associated Press on November 19. "There are plenty of other people worse off than I. I've got a lot of faith in God. I think things will be OK."

    Smoke from the fires traveled hundreds of miles and made San Francisco air unhealthy to breathe for weeks

    Smoke from the Camp Fire made it difficult for people in many parts of Northern California to breathe for nearly two weeks. Soot and chemicals released from the flames blanketed wide swaths of the state in a gray haze. 

    camp fire san francisco city smoke 2

    In the days after the fires broke out, the Environmental Protection Agency described the air throughout much of the Bay Area as "unhealthy" or "very unhealthy" to breathe.

    Federal air monitors suggested that residents limit time outside and avoid outdoor exercise. San Francisco public schools shuttered their doors on November 16, and many museums opened their doors admission-free to help people find indoor activities.

    The San Francisco Air Quality Index, which measures the number of dangerously small pollutants in the air, is now back to normally healthy numbers. The US Department of the Interior estimates that the Camp and Woolsey Fires together "produced emissions equivalent to roughly 5.5 million tons of carbon dioxide."

    The Woolsey fire burned nearly 97,000 acres near LA and killed three people

    woolsey fire los angeles

    The Woolsey Fire, fueled by fierce Santa Ana winds, destroyed 1,500 structures, mostly homes. The fire was marked as 100% contained on November 21. 

    Three people died in the Woolsey Fire. Two burned bodies were found in a car in Malibu near Mulholland Highway, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said, while a third victim was discovered in the wreckage of a home in Agoura Hills.

    woolsey fire in malibu

    At its peak, the fire forced over 275,000 people from their homes. Carol Napoli, who lives at the Vallecito mobile-home park for seniors in Newbury Park, told the AP that the flames approached the park so fast that her mother didn't have time to grab her oxygen tank before they bolted in a car.

    "We drove through flames to get out," Napoli said, adding: "My girlfriend was driving. She said, 'I don't know if I can do this.' ... Her son said, 'Mom you have to — you have to drive through the flames.'" 

    The fire threatened mobile homes and mansions alike. Celebrities including Gerard Butler, Miley Cyrus, and Neil Young lost their houses.

    malibu firefighter woolsey nov 9

    More than 80% of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the country's largest urban national park, burned, according to the Los Angeles Times. Flames and smoke sent bobcats and mountain lions in the area scampering.

    The blaze also destroyed the storied filming location of Paramount Ranch, where the shows "Westworld" and "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" were shot.

    You can view find more information and resources on the Ventura County Emergency Information site, the Ventura County Recovers site, and LA County's Woolsey Fire site.

    woolsey fire flames from above

    Both the Woolsey Fire and another small fire, the Hill Fire, threatened the town of Thousand Oaks, where residents were already reeling from a mass shooting that left 12 people dead

    A resident named Cynthia Ball told the AP it was "like 'welcome to hell.'"

    The LA County website says: "If you are affected by the Woolsey or Hill fires, the Thousand Oaks mass shooting, or both, you can call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text 'TalkWithUs' to 66746 for emotional support and resources."

    woolsey fire home lost

    Wildfires are no longer limited to one season

    The flames in Southern California have been fueled by hot, dry conditions and spread by Santa Ana winds, which tend to blow in from the desert in the fall months.

    Read more: Why wildfire season is getting longer and stronger

    As the LA Fire Department's Erik Scott pointed out on Twitter, some houses are better protected from fires than others, since green vegetation can help keep back flames.

    camp fire paradise bodies recovered

    Wildfire season in California technically runs from late summer through the fall. But as the planet heats up, higher-than-average temperatures and drought conditions are becoming more common. Meanwhile, developers continue to build homes in places that are naturally prone to wildfires.

    "Whether it is to allow a rock star to build on a ridgeline in Malibu or a manufactured-home community that nestles into the foothills, the decision is the same and the consequences are the same," Char Miller, the director of environmental analysis at Pomona College, told the Times.

    Fire officials in the state are now acknowledging that wildfires may not be limited to any specific season.

    Michelle Mark, Bryan Logan, and David Choi contributed reporting.

    SEE ALSO: A California wildfire just demolished an entire town and forced the Kardashians to evacuate. Here’s why wildfire season is getting longer and stronger.

    DON'T MISS: Here's what the wildfires look like on the ground

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    jake paul logan paul

    • Forbes recently released its list of the highest paid YouTube stars of 2018, based on data and interviews with industry insiders.
    • The list is exclusively male, and half of the top-earning YouTubers share a focus on video games.
    • Collectively, the 10 top-earning YouTubers take home more than $180 million a year.

    YouTube's impact on the realm of pop culture can't be ignored — the platform's top stars become the world's premiere influencers, coveted for their ability to reach tens of millions of followers on a daily basis.

    As influencers become more valuable, many popular YouTubers have been able to turn their personal brands into million-dollar businesses. While the formula for YouTube success varies between channels, the most successful YouTubers have been able to find new sources of income beyond the ad revenue on their videos. For some, that means personal clothing lines and TV appearances, while others have capitalized on their success with sold-out live tours and custom toy brands.

    Forbes recently released its list of the highest-paid YouTubers, based on their earnings from June 1, 2017 to June 1, 2018.

    Here's how they rank:

    SEE ALSO: A 7-year-old boy is making $22 million a year on YouTube reviewing toys

    NOW READ: PewDiePie will lose his crown as YouTube's biggest star, thanks to India's obsession with Bollywood

    10. Logan Paul — $14.5 million

    Vlogger Logan Paul was YouTube's fourth-highest earner last year. But his personal brand took a tumble after he uploaded a video of a dead body he found in Japan's Aokigahara forest, a location that is notorious for suicides.

    As a result, YouTube removed Paul from the Google Preferred program, impacting his ad revenue. However, his channel continued to rack up subscribers, and he continues to earn income from his personal merchandise and celebrity appearances. Despite the scandal in Japan, Paul was able to increase his earnings by $2 million in the course of a year.

    One of Paul's most-watched stunts this year was a pay-per-view boxing match against British YouTuber KSI held in London. The fight ended in a draw and the pair are planning a rematch for next year.

    9. PewDiePie — $15.5 million

    In past years, Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg was, without question, the world's most successful YouTuber.

    But recent scandals accusing the video game commenter of racism and anti-Semitism have led to a slight decline in sponsorships. Still, like Logan Paul, PewDiePie managed to increase his overall earnings by about $3.5 million between June 2017 and June 2018.

    PewDiePie still has the most subscribers of any single account on YouTube with more than 73 million, but will likely be overtaken by Bollywood YouTube channel T-Series in early 2019.

    8. JackSepticEye — $16 million

    Irish video game streamer Sean "JackSepticEye" McLoughlin was one of the first YouTubers to be a part of PewDiePie's Disney-sponsored Revelmode network, earning him a giant following.

    While Disney eventually dumped Revelmode, McLoughlin was eventually signed to create original programming for Disney XD, a TV channel targeted at children and teens. McLoughlin also serves as a host and stage personality for a number of live events and tours in Europe and North America.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Steve Stivers

    • The National Republican Congressional Committee says it was hit with a "cyber intrusion" during the 2018 midterm campaign, Politico first reported Tuesday.
    • A Committee spokesman confirmed the NRCC was the victim of a cyberattack and had both launched an internal probe into the hack as well as notifying the FBI.
    • Officials added that while sensitive emails and internal information was compromised, the hackers did not access donor information.

     The National Republican Congressional Committee says it was hit with a "cyber intrusion" during the 2018 midterm campaign and the breach has been reported to the FBI, Politico first reported Tuesday.

    "The NRCC can confirm that it was the victim of a cyber intrusion by an unknown entity," Committee spokesman Ian Prior said Tuesday.

    "The cybersecurity of the Committee's data is paramount, and upon learning of the intrusion, the NRCC immediately launched an internal investigation and notified the FBI, which is now investigating the matter," he added.

    CNN reported that emails and communications of 4 high-level NRCC officials had been "surveilled for months." While the hack was reportedly discovered by a private cybersecurity firm in April, the most senior House Republican officials including Speaker Paul Ryan and majority leader Kevin McCarthy were not aware until Politico inquired 

    Some NRCC staffers told Politico they believed the culprit of the hack was a foreign agent. Officials added that while sensitive emails and internal information was compromised, the hackers did not access donor information.

    The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Read more: Facebook announced it got hacked and 50 million accounts were compromised. Here's how to tell if you were affected.

    In March, NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers said the committee has hired multiple cybersecurity staffers to work with its candidates and promised to do more. Rep. Tom Emmers of Minnesota has been elected to chair the NRCC for the upcoming election cycle. 

    Cybersecurity has become a pressing issue for political campaigns and organizations in recent years. In July, the special counsel Robert Mueller's office indicted 12 Russian security officers for spring and summer 2016 hacks of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. 

    While the NRCC and DCCC have spent much of the past two years negotiating an agreement not to cite material obtained via malicious hacking in campaign ads in the 2018 midterms, those talks fell apart months before the November elections, CNN reported. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Bob Dole

    • Former US Sen. Bob Dole, who's 95 years old, on Tuesday stood up from his wheelchair in the US Capitol Rotunda to salute the casket of former President George H.W. Bush.
    • Like Bush, the former Republican senator is a war hero and served with distinction in World War II. 
    • The two men were also political rivals at various points during their long careers. 
    • Bush, the 41st president of the US, died at the age of 94 on November 30.

    Former US Sen. Bob Dole, who's 95-years-old, on Tuesday stood up from his wheelchair in the US Capitol Rotunda to salute the casket of former President George H.W. Bush.

    It was an emotional, powerful moment, particularly given the history the two men share.  

    Like Bush, the former Republican senator is a war hero and served with distinction in World War II. Dole salutes with his left hand because of injuries he sustained during the war that have impacted his mobility. 

    Dole also challenged Bush for the Republican nomination for president in 1980 and again in 1988. 

    Both men lost to former President Ronald Reagan in 1980, but Bush went on to be Reagan's vice president before winning the GOP nomination and ultimately the presidency in 1988. 

    Read more: The most powerful images from the nation's remembrance of President George HW Bush

    Dole ran a final campaign for president in 1996, this time winning the GOP nomination. In the end, however, he lost the election to incumbent Democratic President Bill Clinton. 

    Bush, the 41st president of the US, died at the age of 94 on November 30 and is being remembered across the nation as a lifelong public servant and dedicated family man. 

    Read more: George H.W. Bush's simple but profound life advice in 23 words

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Lindsey Graham once warned there would be 'holy hell to pay' if Trump fired Jeff Sessions

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    Alaska Airlines Boeing 737

    • Alaska Airlines launched a two-day fare sale on Tuesday with one-way tickets for as little as $39.
    • Standout deals include $39 one-way flights between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Flights between LA and San Francisco can be had for $49 one way.
    • All sale tickets must be purchased by 11:59 pm PT on Wednesday, December 5 for travel between January 8 and March 6, 2019.

    Alaska Airlines launched a two-day fare sale on Tuesday with one-way tickets for as little as $39.

    The Seattle, Washington-based carrier will make discount tickets available in both its traditional Main fare economy cabin as well as in its newly launched Saver fare, which is a less restrictive form of the basic economy product offered by American, Delta, and United.

    Even though the sale is nationwide, some of the best deals to be had are out of Los Angeles. For example, Saver fare one-way flights to Las Vegas and San Jose are available for just $39, while traditional Main fare tickets are available for $69. A flight from LA to San Francisco is only slightly more expensive at $49 with the Saver fare and $79 with the Main fare.

    Alaska Airlines Saver fareThere are some conditions that go along with these discounted prices. All sale tickets must be purchased by 11:59 p.m. PT on Wednesday, December 5 for travel between January 8 and March 6, 2019. There are also blackout dates between February 14 and February 25.

    In addition, tickets must be purchased 21 days ahead of travel.

    Read more: The amazing history of the Boeing 737, the best-selling airliner of all time.

    Alaska's Saver fare and other basic economy tickets are discount fare classes within an airline's economy cabin. As a result, the in-flight service and experience will be the same for Saver fare as it will be for someone who purchased a pricier Main fare ticket. This means passengers who go the Saver route will sit in the same seats, enjoy the same in-flight perks, and amenities as everyone else in coach.

    Saver fare tickets are neither changeable nor cancelable, nor will they be eligible for upgrades. Those traveling on Saver fare tickets will also board last. And while you will be able to pre-select your seat, it will have to be at the back of the plane. 

    SEE ALSO: Take a look inside the $218 million Boeing Dreamliner private jet the new president of Mexico is selling because it's 'too lavish'

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    iPhone 6S ip6s

    • Last year, Apple instituted a program to replace out-of-warranty batteries for the iPhone 6 or later for just $29 — a $50 price drop from the usual $79 cost.
    • If you own an iPhone 6 or later and have battery issues, you have until December 31 to take advantage of the lower price to replace your battery.

    If you own an iPhone 6 or later and have issues with your phone's battery life, now's the time to visit an Apple Store and get your battery replaced.

    Last December, Apple acknowledged something that iPhone owners had suspected for some time: It had been quietly "throttling," or lowering, the performance of older iPhones.

    It said the goal was to preserve battery life on those older phones and prevent them from shutting down unexpectedly, but customers felt as if Apple communicated this message too late, as many had come to believe that iPhones purposefully got slower to compel people to upgrade to newer models.

    After a good deal of consumer outrage, Apple addressed iPhone battery and performance in an open letter to customers later that month.

    The most important part of Apple's informational letter was an offer toward the end: Apple said it would reduce the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement to $29 from $79 "for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, available worldwide through December 2018."

    And so if you own an iPhone 6, an iPhone 6s, an iPhone 7, or any other phones made after that and are experiencing battery issues — maybe it's draining faster than it used to — head to an Apple Store before December 31.

    A small anecdote: My wife owns an iPhone 6s and had been experiencing battery issues for months. She'd constantly need to recharge her phone at work and at home, and she felt as if it hadn't always been this bad. So a couple of months ago, we visited an Apple Store, where an employee measured her phone's battery life and found the degradation to be at about 83%.

    Apple says it will offer to replace batteries when battery degradation reaches 80%, but the employee gave my wife the option to replace it right then and there for $29. So we did that and walked around the mall for a few hours while we waited.

    It was worth the wait: Since that visit, she's noticed improvement in her phone's battery life and no longer needs to charge it throughout the day.

    So if you're experiencing anything similar, go visit an Apple Store or mail your device before December 31 and pay the $30 to get your battery replaced. You'll be paying more if you choose to wait.

    SEE ALSO: If the rumors are true, Apple's next iPhone will be called 'XS' — and people are already making fun of the name, calling it 'extra small' and 'iPhone Excess'

    Join the conversation about this story »

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