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The latest news from Business Insider

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    Mastercard Sydney Ferries_web

    • Contactless payments can encompass bank cards or mobile apps that let you tap on a reader and go.
    • Contactless payments are particularly effective for use in transit systems because they are faster and more efficient.
    • Cities like London and Sydney are already using contactless transit payments and New York City plans to follow suit in 2019.

    Many people see public transportation as a necessary evil. It’s crowded, inconsistent, and, of course, it seems that you always get stuck behind someone who doesn’t have the correct fare or whose card needs a refill. But what if there was a way to make at least part of the experience easier?

    The answer could be in contactless payments — where all you need to do is tap a payment card or a mobile phone to a reader. They've caught on quickly in Canada, Australia, Colombia, and across Europe. And now they’re finally gaining traction in the US.

    Luckily, one of the places you’re likely to see them first is in transit stations, where they can make catching a train or bus faster and more efficient.

    As people flock to urban areas, straining transportation systems, cities are switching to contactless to reduce congestion and make the transit experience smoother and more attractive. Globally, there are already more than 100 contactless transit systems, including London, Vancouver, and Sydney.

    Easier for passengers — and transit administrators

    Contactless payments are part of a broader urban trend of making technology more people-centric and easier to use. Today’s consumers are used to fast, online payments for goods and services. Paper tickets and tokens don’t match that experience.

    A contactless system eliminates the hassle of waiting in line at a turnstile or a ticket booth. Instead, passengers simply tap a contactless-enabled card or mobile phone. Going contactless is a boon to transit authorities as well as passengers. It eliminates the costs of printing tickets and maintaining fare equipment. It also makes customer management easier and reduces the cost of fare collection by 30% or more.

    "Contactless payments are transforming transportation for passengers and transit systems," says Linda Kirkpatrick, executive vice president for merchants and acceptance at Mastercard. "They're more efficient and cost-effective. In developing countries, they allow many people to participate in the non-cash financial system for the first time."

    Mastercard has led the way in contactless payments overall, and is now working with cities and transit systems worldwide to improve the transportation experience. Here’s how the tech company is turning mass transit into a frictionless hub that saves travelers time and money.

    Zipping through the Tube in London

    In London, 8.5 million people make 30 million journeys every day, stretching capacity and straining the resources of the city’s Transport for London (TfL) transit system.  

    But TfL is becoming more efficient since partnering with Mastercard to adopt contactless payments. Half of all Tube and rail journeys are now made using tap-and-go. As more people start to pay with the bank cards and phones they already carry, the cost of fare collection has dropped from 14% to 9%.

    Setting up the system for the enormous, sprawling network required extensive planning and card-technology expertise.

    “The technical and commercial challenges of implementing something of this kind are absolutely formidable, so for us, having a partner like Mastercard was critical,” says Shashi Verma, TfL’s CTO and director of customer experience.

    A study done for Mastercard by L.E.K. Consulting found that consumers love the convenience of contactless payments, which have generated a worldwide reputational boost for London’s transit system.

    Modernizing Mexico City

    Until last year, Mexico City’s transit system, like much of the rest of its economy, ran entirely on cash. Every day, 6 million people lined up to exchange pesos for bus or subway tickets, causing bottlenecks.

    But the problem goes much deeper than that. Fifty-five percent of the population lacks a bank account, preventing them from participating in the digital economy and expanding their financial options.

    “They are left behind, without the things we take for granted: proof of identity, a way to save money for emergencies, access to loans or insurance,” says Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga.

    That's starting to change as the city works with Mastercard to make its transit system contactless. In the past 12 months, more than a million reloadable contactless debit cards have been issued, in many cases providing unbanked people with their first formal financial tool. Mastercard is also working with local partners to make the cards usable in shops and restaurants.

    The cards, which are more convenient and safer than carrying cash, are an important first step that could lead residents to banking, saving, and building a better future. They may help to create the modernized economy the Mexican government is committed to achieving.

    New York is the next stop for contactless

    London’s system has worked so well that many cities are using it as a model, including New York.

    The city’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, which introduced mobile ticketing on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North commuter lines a couple of years ago, is working with Mastercard and its partner Cubic Transportation Systems to roll out a contactless payment system based on London's for the city’s entire subway and bus systems, starting in 2019.

    Riders will be able to tap a card or phone — or even a smartwatch or smart fitness device — at the turnstile or bus reader. Those who also use the Metro-North and Long Island Railroads will be able to merge their tickets into a single integrated form of payment. Essentially, the entire New York metropolitan transit system will flow more smoothly, speeding commuters and visitors to their destinations throughout the city. MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein told "AM New York" that move is part of the plan to give "a world-class city" a "world-class [transit] system."

    Looking ahead

    Once bus, subway, and rail systems have contactless systems in place, the next step is to integrate them, as New York has started to do. Then passengers will be able to switch seamlessly from one mode of transit to another and manage their transportation costs the way they experience their journeys from A to B — as a connected whole.

    Transit contactless systems may also someday merge with in-app payments for ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, bringing consumers an even more connected experience.

    "In an age where customer satisfaction is paramount, contactless payments are the key to progress," Kirkpatrick says. "If you have a system that's faster, more convenient, and secure, who wouldn't want to use it?"

    Find out more about how Mastercard is using contactless payments to help cities run more efficiently. 

    This post is sponsored by Mastercard.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Rudy Giuliani

    • Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's lead attorney, is increasingly using Twitter to project bombastic claims and false accusations to his nearly 225,000 followers. 
    • In recent weeks, his tweets have attacked Florida election officials, special counsel Robert Mueller, former FBI Director James Comey, and Twitter itself. 
    • Here's a breakdown all of Giuliani's most recent eyebrow-raising tweets. 

    Since taking over as President Donald Trump's chief legal counsel last April, Rudolph "Rudy" Giuliani has made headlines for his bombastic, off-the-cuff remarks, like when he told MSNBC's Chuck Todd that "truth isn't truth."

    The former US Attorney and mayor of New York City — dubbed "America's Mayor" for his leadership following the 9/11 attacks — is now better known for his typo-filled rantings and fiery accusations against his detractors, which he regularly broadcasts to his 225,000 Twitter followers. 

    Over the past two months, Giuliani has used his Twitter account to falsely accuse Florida election officials of fraud and foul play, blame special counsel Robert Mueller for a technical glitch causing text messages of FBI employees to be deleted, and claim that Twitter was responsible for his own typos in his tweets.

    Here's the complete guide to Giuliani's most recent tweets: 

    In November, Giuliani fired off a series of tweets making baseless accusations of election and voter fraud in Florida, where the hotly contested Senate race between Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Rick Scott went to a recount.

    Source: New York Times, Reuters

    Despite Giuliani's bombastic accusations of fraud, there is no evidence of election officials committing fraud or "creating ballots" favoring Democrats. Rather, the races took longer than usual to decide because of the extraordinarily slim margin between the candidates.

    Even though Giuliani warned of sinister efforts by "Democratic" election officials to create falsified ballots, Republican Sen. candidate Rick Scott and gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis ended up victorious in the end.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    jeff bezos

    • Amazon made $9 billion in advertising revenue this year, according to a Sunday note from Pivotal Research.
    • A third of the revenue come from co-op budgets, where Amazon promotes a brand's products based on how well an item is selling.
    • Amazon's ad business continues to fascinate brands as an alternative to the duopoly of Facebook and Google.

    Amazon is proving to be the sleeping giant of advertising.

    In a Sunday note to investors initiating coverage of Amazon, Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser wrote that he's bullish on the retail giant, especially its nascent advertising business.

    Amazon made roughly $9 billion from advertising spending in 2018 (bucketed as "other" revenue in the company's earnings) and is expected to hit $38 billion in the category by 2023, more than quadrupling in five years.

    "Amazon's approach to advertising is centered around helping the company reduce prices consumers pay for products — for this reason, in some ways advertising is a means to an end rather than the end itself at Amazon," Wieser wrote in the note. "However, because of Amazon's scale and the desirability of its data and ad inventory, advertising should be able to provide an opportunity for incremental growth that is independent of consumer spending trends."

    Read more:Amazon wants to give Facebook and Google a run for their money in advertising — here are the 6 execs making it happen

    Retailers are putting sales dollars into advertising

    According to Pivotal Research's calculations, roughly $3 million of Amazon's $9 million ad revenue in 2018 came from co-op budgets.

    Co-op budgets are joint deals between brands and retailers and are based on a percentage of a brand's sales. In exchange for selling products on Amazon's platform, Amazon promotes the products that are selling well, similar to the way brands have sold products through retailers and department stores for decades.

    Co-op funds can vary widely for Amazon. Consumer-packaged-goods brands can invest up to 20% of revenue in such programs but as little as 2%, the report noted.

    "In general we think these budgets should grow at least as fast as Amazon's first-party sales, but they could grow faster as fast-moving consumer goods become increasingly important suppliers of goods to the company," Wieser said.

    The other $6 million of Amazon's ad revenue comes from traditional digital budgets, particularly from Amazon's growing ad network, which places ads on websites outside of Amazon. Other marketers are pulling search funds from Google and reallocating them on Amazon.

    There's also a decent amount of overlap between the two types of ad budgets.

    "Conversations with large advertisers have conveyed to us that there is no one-size, fits-all approach to budgeting for Amazon," Wieser wrote.

    Amazon is still tiny compared to the duopoly

    To be sure, Amazon's ad business is still far from hitting the same level as Facebook's or Google's. According to research firm eMarketer, Facebook and Google collected 57.7% of US digital-ad budgets in 2018, followed by Amazon with 4.1%.

    Still, Amazon's trove of first-party data on what people shop for and look at online makes it a formidable threat to the duopoly, according to advertising execs.

    "No other partner right has the level of depth from a consumer-knowledge standpoint," Sargi Mann, executive vice president of digital strategy and investments at Havas Media, told Business Insider. "We're definitely seeing an active trend of marketers getting comfortable with the idea that it's not just a performance platform, it's a brand-awareness platform as well."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The legendary economist who predicted the housing crisis says the US will win the trade war

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    The Avengers Marvel

    • INSIDER is looking forward to the most anticipated projects of 2019, from "Avengers: Endgame" and season three of "Stranger Things" to forthcoming albums from popular artists.
    • We rounded up 24 celebrities who will likely make the biggest cultural impact next year, thanks to such projects.
    • This includes big names like Brie Larson, Emilia Clarke, and Rihanna, as well as relative newcomers like Julia Michaels and Joey King.

    While nobody knows for sure what the new year will bring, 2019 is already bound to be groundbreaking, with multiple highly anticipated movies, TV shows, and albums scheduled for release.

    Here are 24 celebrities — including actors and artists, in no particular order — whose projects will help them dominate headlines and make the biggest cultural impacts in 2019.

    Rihanna is finally gearing up to release new music.

    Since the release of her critical darling "Anti" in January 2016, Rihanna has spent time cultivating her interests in beauty and fashion, building huge brands along the way: Fenty Beauty, Fenty Puma, and Fenty Savage. But while each one has seen major success, fans have been clamoring for more music most of all.

    Thankfully, the pop star has confirmed that new music is coming in 2019. And considering how she continues to dominate streaming platforms year after year without any new music, we can only imagine what will happen when her ninth studio album finally lands.

    Miley Cyrus looks like she's thriving.

    Miley Cyrus entered 2019 on the heels of her wedding with Liam Hemsworth and her musical comeback with Mark Ronson. It certainly seems that she's found her groove personally and professionally. And after the reception of "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart," people are anxious to hear more from her upcoming album.

    Brie Larson will soon make her debut as Marvel's most powerful superhero.

    Brie Larson will make her debut as Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, on March 8, 2019 — and the movie will be a must-watch for any fan of the franchise. Fans are already in love with the Oscar-winning actress as the MCU's newest and most powerful superhero.

    Read more: What you need to know about Captain Marvel, who will play a big role in the next 'Avengers' movie

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. That’s the strategy e-tailers will have to adopt if they want to compete with Amazon. To fight back against the e-commerce giant’s expanding dominance, other online retailers must understand exactly why and how customers are buying on Amazon — and which aspects of the Amazon shopping experience they can incorporate into their own strategic frameworks to win back customers.

    Why Amazon First

    Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has obtained exclusive survey data to give e-tailers the tools to figure out how to do just that with its latest Enterprise Edge Report: The Amazon Commerce Competitive Edge Report.

    Enterprise Edge Reports are the very best research Business Insider Intelligence has to offer in terms of actionable recommendations and proprietary data, and they are only available to Enterprise clients.

    Business Insider Intelligence fielded the Amazon study to members of its proprietary panel in March 2018, reaching over 1,000 US consumers – primarily hand-picked digital professionals and early-adopters – to gather their insights on Amazon’s role in the online shopping experience.

    In full, the study:

    • Uses exclusive survey data to analyze the factors behind Amazon’s success with consumers.
    • Segments three types of Amazon customers that e-tailers should be targeting.
    • Shares strategies on how e-tailers can attract shoppers at key moments.

    First, why is Amazon so popular?

    Amazon is ubiquitous. In fact, a whopping 94% of those surveyed said they’d made a purchase on the site in the last twelve months. And of those who did, the vast majority believed Amazon’s customer experience was simply better than its leading competitors’ — specifically eBay, Walmart, Best Buy, and Target.

    The biggest contributor to Amazon’s superior experience? Free shipping, of course. According to Amazon’s 2017 annual report, the company actually spent $21.7 billion last year covering customers’ shipping costs, a number that’s been compounding over the past few years.

    Not only is free shipping included for all Prime members as part of their subscriptions but, of all e-tailers listed in the survey, Amazon also offers the lowest minimum order value for non-subscription members to qualify for the perk (just $25). The pervasiveness of free (and fast) shipping is steadily heightening customer expectations for the online shopping experience — and forcing competitors to offer similar programs and benefits.

    Who exactly is shopping on Amazon?

    The survey results showed that across generations for a large minority of respondents, Amazon is a standard part of their typical shopping process. Nearly a third (32%) of respondents said they begin their online shopping process on Amazon. Of those who do start their journeys elsewhere, 100% ended up purchasing something from Amazon at some point over the last 12 months.

    Based on the trends in responses, Business Insider Intelligence segmented out three different types of Amazon shoppers, each with unique implications for how competitors could evolve their strategies:

    • Amazon loyalists: This group of consumers is most committed to shopping on Amazon. E-tailers must understand what has made Amazon their default experience — and how they could be pried away.
    • Comparison shoppers: This consumer segment looks at other sites before ultimately completing a purchase with Amazon, which could allow e-tailers to find success at the bottom of the purchase funnel. E-tailers should focus on what they can do more of to steal sales away at the end of the purchasing process.
    • Open-search shoppers: These consumers start their online product search away from Amazon, often with specific reasons including what they’re looking for and why they’re not looking on Amazon. Other e-tailers have the opportunity to attract these shoppers from the beginning of the purchase funnel — keeping them from ever venturing to Amazon.

    Want to learn more?

    Business Insider Intelligence has compiled the complete survey findings into the four-part Amazon Commerce Competitive Edge Report, which dives deeper into each of these consumer segments to give e-tailers an intricate understanding of Amazon’s role in their purchasing processes.

    The report presents actionable strategies for retail strategists and executives to zero in on three individual consumer segments at critical shopping moments, and empower them to win sales in an Amazon-dominated world.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Green Book Universal

    • The Golden Globes were full of surprise wins on Sunday night.
    • They included "Bohemian Rhapsody" beating out "A Star Is Born" for best picture and Glenn Close beating Lady Gaga for best actress.
    • In a year when the Oscar race is wide open compared to the past, Golden Globe wins are more important than ever.


    You might have been scratching your head while watching the Golden Globes on Sunday night and wondering why a hyped movie like “A Star Is Born” didn’t win any of the evening’s major awards, but Glenn Close took home one for a movie you probably had to go onto IMDb to confirm actually existed.

    But the surprise wins were just the latest sign that there won't be many sure things on Oscar night on February 24. And that’s great news for ABC, which airs the biggest night in Hollywood, and for those of us who watch the marathon ceremony. It will be a welcome change.

    Recent Oscar nights have played out (for the most part) as the Oscar pundits said they would, and we’ve needed a colossal fail, like the best picture envelope mix-up, to bring any juice to the telecast.

    But why is this year so different than others?

    Simply put, this Oscar season has no runaway hit movie, so it looks like it’s going to be a pack of titles sprinting to the finish (especially in the best picture category), and spending a lot of money campaigning along the way.

    Since September when the Venice, Telluride, and Toronto film festivals set the foundation for the movies that would be in the conversation the entire awards season — such as Netflix’s “Roma,” Warner Bros.’ “A Star Is Born,” Universal’s “Green Book,” Fox Searchlight’s “The Favourite,” and Annapurna’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” — the contenders have only increased in number with Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Annapurna’s “Vice.”

    And unlike most years, there was also a crop of pre-September movies that have had legitimate Oscar campaigns. That is extremely rare. These include Disney’s “Black Panther” (opened in February), Paramount’s “A Quite Place” (April), and Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” (August). All of these could be nominated in multiple major categories, including best picture.

    With this mix of titles, it has been a bloated race to handicap this year (and shows why 2018 was such a successful year for movies). But until the Golden Globes, most of the “experts” had been confident that “A Star Is Born” was still the frontrunner when it came to best picture.

    Bohemian RhapsodyBut then the Golden Globes happened Sunday night.

    Historically, the industry has thought of the Globes as a fun night — but not the best indicator of what will happen at the Oscars. There are around 90 members who make up the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which votes on the Golden Globes winners, and none of them are Oscar voters. But in a year when it seems all conventional wisdom on Oscar season has gone out the window (I mean, Netflix has a legitimate chance for the first time ever to win multiple Oscars in major categories with “Roma”), what happened at the Globes Sunday night could have big ramifications.

    Surprise wins for “Green Book” in the best musical or comedy category, as well as best screenplay (Mahershala Ali winning for best supporting actor was pretty likely), gave the movie an extra push as we go into the home stretch for Oscar season. And “Bohemian Rhapsody” getting the win for best drama over favorites like “A Star Is Born” and “Black Panther” took it from a title on the bubble to a real contender for a best picture nomination.

    Read more: Netflix and FX won big at the Golden Globes, while HBO stumbled

    And what made Sunday's wins all the more important was that Oscar voting for nominations opened on Monday (voting closes on January 14, with nominations announced on January 22). It’s hard to imagine what happened at the Globes won't affect how some Academy members vote.

    But if you still believe that this year is like any other, and the Globes don’t mean squat, let’s look at the Producers Guild Awards. The PGA, like many of the guild nominations (Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild, and Writers Guild) holds a lot more weight in the eyes of award season pundits because those members are also mostly Academy voters.

    If you look at the 10 movies nominated for its top prize, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Green Book” are among them. With Golden Globe wins and PGA nominations, these two titles look certain to receive best picture Oscar nominations. 

    With the best picture category likely going with the full 10 nominees this year, we are looking at the first year in a while when you can make a case that more than two contenders have a real shot.

    the wife sony pictures classicsAnd that goes for the lead actor/actress categories as well.

    With Glenn Close’s surprise win for her performance in “The Wife” at the Globes on Sunday, there’s now a three-way race for best actress. She’s up against Lady Gaga for “A Star Is Born” and Olivia Colman for “The Favourite” (who won a Globe in the best actress in a musical or comedy category). And over on the best actor side, Bradley Cooper for “A Star Is Born” and Christian Bale for “Vice” (who won best actor in a musical or comedy at the Globes) now have competition from Rami Malek thanks to his win for playing Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the best actor in drama category on Sunday.

    Perhaps it will be a good thing if there isn't an Oscar host this year, because it will bring more focus to the exciting races that some of the big categories of the evening will have. For once!

    SEE ALSO: Fox fired "Bohemian Rhapsody" director Bryan Singer, but he still thanked the Golden Globes for the movie's big win

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why Harvard scientists think this interstellar object might be an alien spacecraft

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    • "Chopped" host Ted Allen gives us a taste of what it's like on the set of the Food Network's intense cooking competition.
    • After 10 years of making "Chopped," they've got it down to a science.
    • There are around 12 camera operators capturing every square inch of the studio.
    • Each round is scrupulously timed, and the mystery basket ingredients are a complete surprise to the contestants.

    Ted Allen: We are throwing them into the deep end of the pool, and we wanna see what happens. And that's where the excitement comes from. Our show is totally real.

    My name is Ted Allen, I'm the host of the show "Chopped" on the Food Network. I had never been on camera before I was on Queer Eye, and somehow, I know that TV cameras freak a lot of people out, it's just never bothered me. When I'm doing "Chopped," I'm just being me.

    We have a rotating array of nine judges, who have become just fast friends, we're all so close. We're so passionate about food. All we have to do is show up on time, and talk about cooking techniques, and ingredients that we love, and ingredients that we don't love, and how things might be put together best. And the proof is on the plate, you know. So, if it's good, it's good, and it's not, see ya.

    The casting actually is quite a complicated process. We're looking for chefs who are interesting and colorful, and that have great skills. We want people from all over the country, every possible walk of life, different ages. We wanna have plenty of women and plenty of men. And it's harder than it might seem. As difficult as it is to do the show, to compete on the show, it never ceases to amaze me how many people wanna do it.

    TV is a little more complicated to make than it is to watch, and TV that involves food is particularly complicated because, obviously, everything has to be safe, and fresh. It's about a 12-hour day to make a 46-minute show.

    Someone has to decide what ingredients are going into the baskets. Every basket has a riddle in it, that is known to the people who make the basket. I doubt that in a 20-minute cooking round, many of the chefs figure out that riddle. They just start chopping. But, if we give you say, silken tofu, and lavash bread, and tomatillos, maybe we're looking for a riff on grilled cheese and tomato soup. Good luck figuring that out.

    I get picked up at 6:30 in the morning, which is much too early. So we get there, we have a little breakfast, I get into wardrobe, I read my script, and make sure I'm happy with it and change a few things here and there. For a regular episode, I'm up there by about eight.

    The first round is 20 minutes, the second and third rounds are each 30 minutes, but there are a whole lot of shots that have to be shot before those rounds can begin. There are so many different angles that we have to shoot. We've got something like 10, 12 cameras going.

    Some of the most dramatic moments in a competition like "Chopped" happen unexpectedly. For example, let's say somebody drops a steak on the floor, and they decide to go ahead and serve it anyway. We need to make sure that we have a shot of that steak hitting the floor, and that's why we need the coverage from so many cameras because we don't reenact things. We don't stage things, and we have to capture everything.

    The rounds are scrupulously, strictly timed, and people have exactly 20 or 30 minutes to get done. If they're not done, too bad. There are actually laws about shooting game shows that have cash prizes. There are strict rules about the way these shows are run, and you have to live by those rules. First of all, the chefs do not know what's in the mystery baskets. Scrupulously, that is kept from them. They open the basket, they typically have about two minutes before they have to start cooking.

    With the ingredients that are in each mystery basket, we're looking for variety, we're looking for, we wanna represent different ethnic cuisines, we wanna represent American favorites. I think the audience likes it best when the basket ingredients are horrifying. We've had pickled pig lips on.

    We're lucky enough to be shooting in New York City, which has markets that sell absolutely everything. There is at least one shop in Chinatown that sells nothing but mushrooms. New York is such a great food capital that we can get anything we need.

    Once in a while, we'll give people a basket that looks like it's a slam dunk, you know, New York strip steak, and potato, and some cheddar cheese. And it seems like the easier the basket, the worse the dishes. It seems like the chefs almost need to be challenged with, you know, something really scary like a whole chicken in a can.

    We have to base our decisions on what is on the plate. Sometimes, the winner of a "Chopped" competition is not our favorite person. You can't base the decision on who is popular, who is charming, who is cute. You can't. The rules sort of save us from that. If somebody omits a mystery basket ingredient, that's a huge mistake, but somebody else maybe could burn two of the ingredients, or undercook one of the ingredients, and burn another, and we find ourselves asking all the time, "What is the greater crime?"

    Cooking can definitely be dangerous. There are flames, there are sharp edges, there's a small amount of counter space. We have surprisingly few injuries, and what we've had have always been minor.

    I've been doing this for 10 years, and I never get bored with it. The only problem I have with hosting "Chopped" is that my feet hurt. Whenever you start a show, there's no guarantee of success, and so they typically will order a modest number of episodes, I think our first order was 13 episodes. We had no way of knowing what our longevity was gonna be, or whether people would embrace it.

    I think "Chopped" succeeds in part because of the excitement and the tension. We're forcing them to cook with ingredients that they didn't get to choose. But I also think that all of us who cook have had those nights when the kids are screaming for something, and you haven't had a chance to go to the market, and you open up the fridge, and you have to make do with what you have.

    I love working at Food Network for a lot of reasons. I think probably my favorite aspect is — the relationships that I've built with all these really, really talented chefs. And, I mean, I have Alex Guarnaschelli's phone number. If I have a problem with a recipe, I can text her. I also think that our judges are super knowledgeable, very entertaining, funny.

    We've had a little bit of foment in our judges' ranks and our most recent acquisition, Martha Stewart, I think is a very, very exciting one. I've been a fan of hers for 25 years, and now I get to work with her, it's amazing. I'm super grateful, super proud, I love our team, it's a well-oiled machine, really great people, and led almost entirely by women, which I think is exciting in television, and we're happy to keep making them as long as you wanna watch 'em.

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    cody parkey

    • After Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey missed the game-winning field goal to lose to the Philadelphia Eagles, Eagles kicker Jake Elliott ran onto the field to console him.
    • Elliott also took to Twitter to defend Parkey, calling him a great kicker and a true professional.
    • Parkey had made 13 of his previous 14 kicks leading up to his final field goal attempt.

    NFL kickers have each other's backs.

    On Sunday, Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey missed the game-winning field goal with 10 seconds left, as the Bears fell to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card. Parkey's kick clanged off the upright, then the crossbar, and fell out, and the Eagles took the 16-15 win.

    As Eagles players ran onto the field to celebrate (though they had to kneel once to officially run out the clock), kicker Jake Elliott immediately ran to Parkey to console him.


    After the game, Parkey was blunt in his responses, saying he shouldered the blame for the missed field goal.

    "I feel terrible," Parkey said. "I let the team down. That's on me. I have to own it. I have to be a man. Unfortunately, that's the way it went today."

    Elliott came to Parkey's defense on Twitter, noting that the kick was tipped by the Eagles, as videos later showed defensive tackle Treyvon Hester getting a finger on the ball.

    Read more: An Eagles defender who was not on the active roster early in the season tipped the Bears' brutal missed game-winning field goal and kept his team's season alive

    Parkey had his struggles during the season, missing 11 total kicks on the year. He had rebounded in recent weeks, however, making 13 of his previous 14 kicks, including three in the Wild Card game, before his final field goal.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 7 things you shouldn't buy on Black Friday

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    american taxpayer

    • Tax Day 2019 is Monday, April 15.
    • The IRS is still accepting tax returns during the government shutdown, so you should still file your taxes as soon as possible, accountants told Business Insider.
    • In the event of a prolonged partial government shutdown, there may be a delay in tax refunds.
    • Filing early will secure a spot for when refunds are issued, but those who typically use their refund for budgeting may need to plan further ahead.
    • American taxpayers are advised to file electronically and request direct deposit.

    Tax season got a little more challenging because of the partial government shutdown.

    The Wall Street Journal's Richard Rubin reported this week that taxpayers who file early in the season might not receive their refunds in a timely manner, as the IRS is operating with about 12% of its employees.

    But that doesn't mean taxpayers should delay filing their taxes, according to accountants. The IRS is still accepting tax returns during the government shutdown.

    "File early as you normally would and at least secure a place in line for when refunds will be issued. Don't wait until things get back to normal," Ed Slott, a certified public accountant who founded, told Business Insider. "That would only further delay your refund."

    Mike Savage, a CPA and the CEO of 1-800Accountant, had similar advice.

    "It is still the best practice to file as soon as they can, but if they plan on receiving the refund at a specific time for budgeting purposes, they will need to plan further ahead in case the refund does not come through in time," Savage told Business Insider.

    The IRS typically begins accepting tax returns at the end of January, and early filers can see refunds hit their account as early as February.

    Read more: The IRS can't pay out tax refunds during the partial government shutdown, and it's the biggest problem for people who need it the most

    If the shutdown is resolved in a few weeks, it may not affect taxpayers, but the current situation increases the likelihood of a tax-refund delay, particularly for those who need it most: people in lower-income households.

    These people tend to file early in the season so they can use their refunds to pay off debt or bills or make big purchases, Rubin reported. They can also benefit from provisions that give them no income-tax liability, he said.

    "Taxpayers with lower-income thresholds will most likely qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Child Tax Credit (CTC)," Savage said. "In the past, refunds were delayed that claim these credits until February, but may be pushed even further back."

    Floyd Williams, a former IRS director of legislative affairs, told Rubin that wealthier taxpayers typically file later and shouldn't be affected to such an extent.

    A delay would come in a year when, under the new GOP tax law that went into effect in 2018, many taxpayers should be expecting bigger refunds than normal, particularly married filers with two children, according to an analysis by UBS.

    Shutdown or no shutdown, you should be doing everything you can to prepare for tax season, including gathering personal information and last year's information, collecting paperwork for your dependents, tracking your income, noting any deductions, and having your financial information ready.

    Once you're ready to file your taxes, the IRS recommends electronically filing and requesting direct deposit for your refund.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    the bachelorette

    • "The Bachelor" franchise is endlessly entertaining.
    • Lots of that entertainment comes from the dates that are featured on the show.
    • There have been lots of weird ones, but these are the strangest ones.

    Everyone who's ever downloaded a dating app or accepted a blind date invitation has at least one outlandish date anecdote ready to go at all times. So it stands to reason that on "The Bachelor" franchise, a TV series that manages to simultaneously delight and horrify thousands of viewers across the globe every year, the dates are more extravagant and bizarre than anything the rest of the world has experienced.

    In that vein, we've rounded up 12 of the oddest dates contestants went on in "The Bachelor" franchise.

    Bikini skiing in San Francisco.

    On season 16 of "The Bachelor," 11 women vied for Ben Flajnik's heart by skiing in San Francisco— except the snow was fake, and they donned bikinis instead of traditional winter gear. While the warm climate kept the contestants from freezing, it still didn't fully explain the wardrobe choice.

    "Old person" makeovers.

    On Andi Dorfman's season of "The Bachelorette," she and "pantsapreneur" JJ were aged 50 years through makeup. It was definitely an imaginative way for the pair to envision their possible future together — though not exactly a romantic one.

    Filming an action movie.

    Two-time Bachelor Brad Womack once took "Bachelor" contestants on a group date to film an action movie. Of course, the unusual date involved choreographed fight scenes.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    couple expecting baby

    • There are many myths surrounding pregnancy that people feel the need to follow.
    • Many of them exist around having sex during pregnancy.
    • Most of them are easily debunked, and in fact, many people should be able to continue their regular sex lives during pregnancy.

    Among the idea that pregnant people shouldn’t dye their hair or fly on airplanes, the idea that pregnant people should have a complicated relationship with sex is also mostly false. Of course, there are exceptions, especially if a pregnancy is pre-determined as high-risk and you should always talk to your doctor if you have concerns about having sex while pregnant.

    Most of the risks associated with pregnancy and sex are, however, myths that can be debunked. Here are a few of them.

    Myth: Penetration harms the fetus.

    In the case of most pregnancies, a partner's penis isn't going to hurt the baby and doesn't make contact with the baby during penetrative sex. According to March of Dimes, the baby is protected by the amniotic sac and its fluid, as well as the uterine walls.

    Myth: A pregnant person's sex drive disappears.

    In fact, some people's libido skyrocket during pregnancy. Dr. Lauren Streicher, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University and author of the forthcoming "Love Sex Again" told HuffPo that many women experience a surge of hormones during the second trimester that can lead to an increased sex drive. 


    Myth: Spotting is cause for concern.

    Excess bleeding is a whole other story and should definitely cause alarm, but some occasional spotting after sex while pregnant is relatively normal because the cervix is very sensitive, according to Healthline.

    However, if you’re still unsure or have concerns, it’s best to double check your safety with your doctor.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Dax Shepherd and Kristen Bell

    The 2019 Golden Globes kicked off award show season on Sunday night, and the fashion on the red carpet definitely did not disappoint

    While stars like Halle Berry and Lady Gaga had some eye-catching solo moments while walking the red carpet, everyone's favorite celebrity couples often stole the show. 

    Whether they were perfectly coordinating like Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, or being silly and playful like Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, there were plenty of impeccably dressed couples at the event. 

    Here are the 25 best-dressed celebrity couples at the 2019 Golden Globes.

    Nicole Kidman walked in a deep burgundy shade, while Keith Urban was at her side in a tux.

    Kidman's gown was designed by Michael Kors.

    Catherine Zeta-Jones opted for a bold color while Michael Douglas kept it classic.

    Zeta-Jones wore a bold shade of emerald green.

    Sabrina Dhowre and Idris Elba arrived in some bright colors.

    Elba wore a deep green blazer with matching shoes and black pants, while Dhowre wore a gown with a floral design on the top-half.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    eggs carton

    • Egg cartons are riddled with labels like "Omega-3,""Farm Fresh,""Pasture-Raised," and many more.
    • Producers tend to tack as many labels as they can onto cartons, which can be both overwhelming and confusing.  
    • Some of the phrases give useful information about how the eggs were produced, but others are simply marketing ploys.

    The egg section in the grocery store is both a joyful and confusing place. You're there to purchase eggs, but the selection is vast and the labels on the carton? Seemingly endless ...

    Phrases like "Omega-3,""Farm Fresh," and "No Hormones" line the boxes, purposefully vague. And what's the difference between "Grade AA" and "Grade A," or between "Cage-Free" and "Free-Range?"

    We rounded up 10 egg labels and figured out what they really mean. Keep scrolling to learn more about why you should — or shouldn't — pay attention to certain words.

    cracking an egg baking

    Grade AA vs. Grade A vs. Grade B

    Careful not to confuse this with school-related grades, though the letter system is kind of similar. According to the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, eggs are graded on their appearance and quality.

    Grade AA is the best, with "thick, firm whites and high, round yolks" and strong shells. Grade A is pretty much the same, but with "reasonably" firm whites instead — these are the ones usually sold in grocery stores.

    And finally, there are Grade B eggs, which have "thin whites and wider yolks." The shells on Grade B eggs aren't cracked, but they may be a bit stained, making these eggs ideal for baking and other recipes that don't count on appearance.


    Though it sounds appealing, this phrase tells you nothing about the egg production process or even the egg. It's basically stating the obvious: that the egg is, in fact, a real egg from a real hen. Don't let it distract you from other important carton lingo; "All-Natural" is pure marketing.

    chickens poultry usda


    The phrase "cage-free" paints an idyllic picture in one's mind: hens given freedom beyond the restrictive cages found in many production facilities. And that's somewhat true: cage-free hens are not raised in the typical caged housing systems, and they are given access to roam the facility. But don't necessarily confuse cage-free with cruelty-free.


    "Free-Range" takes it a step further: in addition to not adhering to the cage system, free-range eggs come from hens that either live in, or are given access to, the outdoors. 

    Some studies have found thatthere's no nutritional difference between eggs from free-range hens and eggs from hens housed in production facilities with cages. 

    Farm Fresh

    This term is also for marketing purposes only, and doesn't really convey any information.

    Sure, the words "farm" and "fresh" sound appetizing when placed next to each other. But "Farm Fresh" on a carton simply means you're getting good ol' fashioned eggs from a hen who lived on a commercial farm. Nothing groundbreaking here.



    If eggs are branded as organic, they should also have a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal on the carton, which confirms that the farm or facility at which they were produced has been certified organic. 

    Organic eggs must come from free-range hens. Those hens also must be fed organic feed (mostly grains and forages), and not fed poultry by-products, manure, antibiotics, or any "animal drugs."

    No Hormones

    This label — like "Farm Fresh" and "All-Natural"— states the obvious. No egg-laying hens in the U.S. receive hormones or hormone injections, which means phrases like "Hormone-Free" or "No Hormones" could technically be put on every carton in the store. 


    Omega-3 is a type of fatty acid that has been proven to help with heart and brain health. But according to Canadian nutritionist Leslie Beck, just because your egg carton has the "Omega-3" label doesn't mean you're buying eggs with enough of the Omega-3 you need.

    Eggs can be fortified with two types of Omega-3 fatty acids called DHA and ALA. Extensive research has been done on the health benefits of DHA (found in fish), with less known about the benefits of ALA (found in flaxseed and walnuts). 

    Hens that produce the "Omega-3"-branded eggs eat feed that contains flaxseed. Once consumed, some of the ALA in the seeds gets broken down into DHA in their system. One "Omega-3"-labeled egg typically contains 340 milligrams of ALA and just 75 to 100 milligrams of DHA, according to Beck. 

    basket of eggs

    Vegetarian Diet

    The thing is, hens and chickens aren't vegetarians. They're omnivores, enjoying bugs and small animals in addition to plants. Many cartons bear the label "Vegetarian-Fed Chickens" or "Vegetarian Diet," but, if true, this actually may be harming the animals.

    Tracy Favre, a farmer and federal organic inspector, told the Washington Post that she cringes in the supermarket when she sees the "Vegetarian Diet" label. When chickens are subjected to an un-supplemented vegetarian diet they can lose out on a protein-based amino acid called methionine. Without it, they can fall ill and even start pecking at each other.

    Methionine supplements have been administered to hens on many organic farms, but since the supplements are synthetic, they're limited due to federal regulations. Farmers and facilities are still experimenting with various options for an effective "Vegetarian Diet." 



    If an egg carton is labeled "Pasture-Raised," it means that the hens spent their lives — or portions of them — on a pasture, or with access to a pasture. This means they've also grazed naturally, without the help of feeds and other facility-administered foods. 

    However, the government has not yet defined a common standard for producers to meet that allows them to claim their products are "Pasture-Raised," nor is there a definition of what constitutes a "pasture." Furthermore, on-farm inspections for the "Pasture-Raised" label are not required. Consumer Reports recommends that consumers don't "rely on the 'pasture raised' labeling claim alone."

    Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.



    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This ostrich egg is equal to 16 chicken eggs

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    • Whether they were a comedy, drama, or a blend of both, medical TV shows have been popular for decades. 
    • Fans love shows like "Grey's Anatomy" and critics have given "M*A*S*H" a lot of praise.
    • "Nurse Jackie,""The Knick," and "The Good Doctor" have also been a hit with some critics. 

    Since the immense success of the drama "ER" over two decades ago, there has been no shortage of medical shows on TV. These series' dramas range from drama to comedy and everything in between and they've featured famous and rising actors like George Clooney, Ellen Pompeo, and Zach Braff. 

    From classics like "M*A*S*H" to newer series like "The Good Doctor," here are the 12 of the best medical TV shows that have aired on television.

    "Chicago Med" is a well-paced entry in the medical genre.

    In the same style of "Chicago Fire" and "Chicago PD,""Chicago Med" is the third entry in Dick Wolf's drama series. The medical drama is currently on its fourth season and stars Colin Donnell, Oliver Platt, and S. Epatha Merkerson. Critical reviews for the show generally range from favorable to mixed. Among fans "Chicago Med" has largely retained its place in the ratings and premiered its most recent season to 7.78 million viewers.

    In his review for Roger Ebert, critic Brian Tallerico praised the show for its quick pacing and escapist feel. "Nothing lags, nothing bores, even the familiar," wrote Tallerico. "In today's network TV world, after a long day at work on a Tuesday, just a quick escape to a world of beautiful men and women having much tougher days than we just did can be enough."

    "Doogie Howser, M.D." was a light-hearted show about a medical prodigy.

    "Doogie Howser, M.D." is a comedy-drama that premiered on ABC in 1989 and ran for four seasons. The show starred Neil Patrick Harris as Doogie Howser, a 16-year-old prodigy who graduated from medical school at age 14 and began his residency at a hospital in Los Angeles. The show was canceled in 1993 due to low ratings, but it is still remembered fondly by fans who were Doogie's age when the show premiered.

    "'Doogie Howser, M.D., is a true product of its time: the late '80s and early '90s,"Common Sense Media's Matt Springer wrote in his review of the show. "It's easy to be distracted by the show's dated look and feel, but Doogie was actually ahead of its time when it came to dealing with issues important to teens with humor and honesty."

    "The Resident" is darker than most medical dramas.

    A newcomer in the realm of medical TV shows, "The Resident" is still proving itself as a show. The series takes place in a Georgia hospital and follows the lives of the hospital staff, namely a resident (Matt Czuchry), a medical intern (Manish Dayal), and a nurse practitioner (Emily VanCamp). The show has slowly gained more viewers over time and a recent November episode had the highest total viewers since the show's premiere in early 2018.

    TV Line critic Dave Nemetz saw the show as a breath of fresh air amidst TV's crowded medical genre. "Genuinely gripping and armed with a deep cynical streak, 'The Resident' takes a hard look at the thorny ethical issues surrounding today's health-care providers," Nemetz wrote. "[It] delivers a refreshing jolt of darkness to a genre that's too often swimming in schmaltz."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    This is a preview of a research report fromBusiness Insider Intelligence. Current subscribers can read the reporthere.

    Trucking, which can be perceived as the lifeblood of global economies, has experienced healthy growth in recent years due in part to surging e-commerce shipments. In the US alone, trucking accounted for over $700 billion in revenue, representing a 3.5% increase year-over-year (YoY).

    When Parity Will Be Achieved Between Commercial Battery Electric Trucks and Diesels

    However, to maintain its stature, the entire industry — truck manufacturers, fleet managers, and other logistics companies — will have to transform to meet the demands of the future. As a result, the trucking industry is in the early stages of a technological shift, with a particular focus on transitioning fleets from diesel to electric energy.

    While electric trucks (e-trucks) are not an entirely new concept — they've been around in some form for over a century — three key factors are renewing focus in the technology: government-mandated reductions in carbon emissions, the rising total cost of fleet ownership (TCO), and heightened investment in e-truck infrastructure. 

    As such, the industry is seeing many any high-profile companies already investing in commercial e-truck technology: For example, Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, is plowing $3.2 billion into the research and development of e-trucks over the next two years, and Volkswagen will invest $1.7 billion in e-truck and bus technology by 2022. And leading logistics companies are following suit, increasingly incorporating e-trucks into their operations: UPS announced that it will collaborate with Workhorse Group to deploy 50 electric delivery trucks, for example. 

    In the E-truck Report, Business Insider Intelligence will size the e-truck market and identify the core drivers that will lead to e-truck adoption. We also discuss which segments of the trucking industry will be early adopters and profile the players expected to take on a prominent role in the future of e-trucking. Finally, we look at what manufacturers and logistics companies will have to do to not only advance the market but also prepare for the operational changes that come with deploying new technology. 

    The companies mentioned in this report are: Anheuser-Busch, ChargePoint, DHL, Daimler, Element Fleet Management, FedEx, PepsiCo, Tesla, UPS, Volkswagen, Workhorse Group, and Vion.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • The trucking industry is transforming from diesel fuel-based to electric-powered, and the e-truck market is expected to climb at a 30% compound annual growth rate by 2026 as a result. 
    • Automakers and logistics firms are turning to e-trucks for three reasons: a global push for stricter emissions regulation, rising TCO, and increased investments in the e-truck infrastructure. 
    • In the near term, e-trucks will be most useful for short to medium-length trips, like urban deliveries, carried out by Class 3 to 6 vehicles. 
    • A network of companies — automakers, logistics firms, and charging startups — are making shorter-distance trucks a reality while laying the groundwork for long-haul e-trucks to become viable. 
    • E-trucks will eventually become the norm for the trucking world, but not without significant work on the part of truck manufacturers and logistics companies.

    In full, the report:

    • Identifies and explains the factors that will be core in rising e-truck development and adoption. 
    • Details what some of the leading manufacturers and logistics companies are doing to improve their e-truck offerings and solutions.
    • Pinpoints where early adoption will occur and what will need to happen for all e-trucks to become viable options for other logistics companies. 
    • Outlines what manufacturers and logistics companies need to do in order to take full advantage of a market that is poised to grow as market pressures only continue to increase going forward. 


    SEE ALSO: These are the top 5 startups across digital freight services, warehouse robotics, AI, last-mile delivery robotics, and self-driving cars

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    andy samberg sandra oh

    • The 2019 Golden Globes took place on Sunday at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. 
    • There were plenty of adorable, hilarious, and meme-able moments, including couple antics from Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, a photo-bombing "Fiji Water girl," and Lady Gaga being iconic.
    • Here are the 15 best photos from the star-studded evening.

    The 76th annual Golden Globes was, true to form, a star-studded evening with major upsets, history-making wins, meme-able moments, and plenty of alcohol.

    Held Sunday at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, the event's best moments included the ubiquitous "Fiji Water girl," an iconic pose by Lady Gaga, Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell's antics, and Rami Malek's sheer excitement to be there extended to his newly announced co-star-turned girlfriend.

    Here are 15 of the best photos from the night.

    Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer channeled their "Killing Eve" characters.

    Sandra Oh wore white while her co-star Jodie Comer wore black, which corresponds to their characters' personalities on "Killing Eve." Fans also fawned over how the two were holding hands.

    Oh got teary-eyed while accepting her award onstage.

    Oh is now the first woman of Asian descent to win multiple Golden Globes; she won her first  in 2006 for her role as Cristina Yang on "Grey's Anatomy."

    Read more: Golden Globe winner Sandra Oh thanked her parents in Korean and people are loving it

    The "Fiji Water Girl" truly came to serve on the red carpet.

    She posed in the background of multiple photos and instantly became a meme.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Havana Cuba

    • Diplomats from the US and Canada in Cuba complained of bizarre symptoms in 2016. Some said the condition started after they heard a strange noise.
    • This prompted speculation about potential "sonic weapons." The US eventually cut its Cuban embassy staff by 60%
    • But a team of zoologists and biologists has concluded that the sound diplomats and their families heard is very similar to that of an Indes short-tailed cricket.
    • The new finding is the latest in a string of conflicting hypotheses about what might have happened in Cuba.

    Forget rogue sonic attackers or microwave weapons— blame the crickets.

    That's the conclusion of a group of scientists who performed a new analysis of the sounds that 24 US diplomats and their families stationed in Cuba reportedly heard in late 2016.

    The noise in question — which only some of the affected American and Canadian diplomats reported hearing — was thought to be connected to physical symptoms they experienced, including hearing loss, speech problems, balance issues, nervous-system damage, headaches, ringing in the ears, nausea, and even some signs of mild traumatic brain injury.

    That led to speculation about a "sonic attack" from some unknown weapon. Previous studies of the sounds suggested there might be a mysterious and dangerous brain-injuring force at work. Others mentioned the possibility that the chirps were produced by weapons that use microwave radiation.

    But the new analysis suggests that, based on the recording of the noise released by the Associated Press (AP), the sound was likely nothing more than a cricket. 

    "The calling song of the Indies short-tailed cricket (Anurogryllus celerinictus) matches, in nuanced detail, the AP recording in duration, pulse repetition rate, power spectrum, pulse rate stability, and oscillations per pulse," insect researchers wrote in a paper published online in bioRxiv on January 4

    Though the recording the AP released isn't exactly like the sounds bug-watchers hear in the field, the scientists think that the sound of crickets, when recorded indoors as it ricochets off walls, floors, and ceilings, is the culprit. To verify this, the scientists played an A. celerinictus field recording "on a high-fidelity loudspeaker" indoors. When they did, the pulse structures of the two recordings matched up almost perfectly. 

    "All I can say fairly definitively is that the AP-released recording is of a cricket, and we think we know what species it is," lead study author Alexander Stubbs from the University of California, Berkeley told The New York Times.

    The authors noted, however, that "the fact that the sound on the recording was produced by a Caribbean cricket does not rule out the possibility that embassy personnel were victims of another form of attack." 

    Reports of mysterious chirping sounds 

    In their reports about the experience, some diplomats said the noise they heard was like a "loud ringing or a high-pitch chirping, similar to crickets." 

    The first person who came forward in Cuba complaining of health issues said that the noise he heard stopped abruptly when he opened his front door. Others said the sound stopped when they moved to a different area in the house. These changes could be related to the way crickets hush up if they sense danger.

    Other reports about the bizarre sounds suggested that they waxed and waned with the seasons. (A cricket's chirping tends to get louder and faster as temperatures rise.) What's more, many diplomats complained they heard the sounds at night, which is a cricket's favorite singing time.


    The idea that the sounds could come from crickets wasn't new. One Cuban government report had previously suggested that a Jamaican field cricket might be responsible for the sound. But the scientists behind this new report say the Jamaican cricket call "would sound qualitatively different, even to non-experts," since the Jamaican cricket's chirp isn't continuous.

    "It is understandable that US authorities met this explanation with skepticism," the scientists wrote in their report.

    Diplomatic consequences

    Not all the diplomats in Cuba described the same sound, however. One diplomat reported a "blaring, grinding noise" that woke him up, according to the AP, while others said they could walk "in" and "out" of loud noises that were audible only in specific spots. Some said they didn't remember seeing or hearing anything out of the ordinary at all before their symptoms started.

    The US State Department eventually determined that the incidents were "specific attacks" and cut its Cuban embassy staff by 60%, despite Cuba's fervent denials of wrongdoing.

    "Cuba has never, nor would it ever, allow that the Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic agents or their families, without exception," the Cuban government previously said in a statement.

    The US government also commissioned a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Brain Injury and Repair to evaluate 21 of the patients who'd been in Cuba. The findings, published in March 2018, suggested that three months after the experience, 81% of people still had cognitive issues, 71% had balance problems, 86% had vision issues, and about 70% still reported hearing problems and headaches. Several doctors pointed out major flaws in that study, however.

    A few months later, several US embassy workers in Guangzhou, China were diagnosed with similar brain injuries after reportedly hearing mysterious sounds, and at least nine were evacuated, according to a July 2018 report from the Wall Street Journal. (The cricket hypothesis doesn't immediately explain why diplomats in China reported eerily similar symptoms.)

    The cricket is North America's loudest insect

    Although many questions linger about why dozens of diplomats reported strange symptoms and where they came from, what's not in dispute is that the call of the Indies short-tailed cricket can be nasty to hear.

    "N. robustus is the loudest insect sound known from North America," as the researchers point out in their paper. (In case you were wondering, nature's loudest insect is the African cicada.)

    Here's the AP's original recording of the sound heard in Cuba:

    As the bug researchers note, this isn't the first time we've confused nature's oddities for a human menace. A "yellow rain" that descended from the skies after the Vietnam War, for example, was at first thought to be a chemical weapon from the Soviet Union. But it turned out to be Southeast Asian honey bee poop falling from above.

    SEE ALSO: Congress just got a bumper-crop of scientists. Meet the 10 new science whizzes on Capitol Hill.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 'America will expose the crimes of the Castro regime': Trump rolls back Obama-era policy on Cuba-US relations

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    White House

    • The White House has been home to exotic pets, weddings, deaths, and legends galore. 
    • After it has hosted presidents and their families for more than two centuries, here are the most interesting facts about America's most famous address. 

    Each day, scores of visitors are guided through the White House's halls to see some of the most famous artifacts in the country's history first-hand.

    Though the White House's many rooms and ornate decorations tell countless compelling stories, there are some lesser-known facets behind America's most famous address. 

    See the deaths, additions, and legends inside the Executive Mansion:

    SEE ALSO: Inside the White House's sprawling secret grounds, which include a hidden garden

    DON'T MISS: Inside Trump's daily routine, which includes 3 to 4 hours of sleep, 'executive time,' and no breakfast

    Construction began in 1792 by a work crew comprised of slaves and immigrants from Ireland, Scotland, and other European countries.

    Source: The White House Historical Association

    It is widely believed that Irish architect James Hoban won a newspaper contest to design the White House based on a design inspired by Leinster House, which houses the Irish Parliament in Dublin.

    Source: Thrillist

    George Washington, the first president, never actually lived in the White House. John Adams was the first president to move in on November 1, 1800, shortly before he lost re-election to Thomas Jefferson.

    Source: The White House Historical Association

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    bii importance of smartphone cameraThis is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

    The smartphone is getting smarter as tech and internet companies inject increasingly sophisticated computer vision and object recognition functions into their hardware and software. The ability to “understand” what the user is pointing their mobile camera at and “read” the image has opened the door for visual search.

    Foreseeing the potential for mobile visual search to create new revenue opportunities, brands are attempting to harness the smartphone camera’s increasing sophistication to engage with consumers and drive sales.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence analyzes the developing technologies behind mobile visual search and its value to businesses and brands. The report also assesses risks and opportunities inherent in developing a visual search strategy, provides a list of companies that are working in the space, and discusses what they've accomplished so far.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • There is strong evidence that mobile visual search technology will take off in the near future, including growing access to technology, strong usage rates of camera-related apps, and early indication of potential revenue growth. 
    • In some instances, visual search is faster and more accurate than text or voice, as it cuts through consumer-introduced ambiguities. 
    • The mobile visual search ecosystem is growing, with a slew of enabling platforms, native apps, and internet companies all broadening their expertise in the field.  
    • Leading internet search companies, including Google and Baidu, are in a race to capture the mobile visual search market as it begins to eat into traditional forms of search.   
    • The smartphone is the perfect launchpad for visual search technology, but new form factors, like smartglasses, hold great potential.

     In full, the report:

    • Provides an argument for the potential uptake of mobile visual search technology by tech companies, brands, and consumers. 
    • Outlines the current mobile visual search landscape.
    • Explains how startups and tech companies with mobile visual search products are evolving their business strategies. 
    • Provides an outlook for the future of the mobile visual search industry. 

    Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

    1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >>Learn More Now
    2. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

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    jonathan alpert

    • Many patients attend therapy for longer than they need, said psychotherapist and author Jonathan Alpert.
    • When therapists let their patients vent about their problems for a long time, it can leave the patient feeling better, but it won't lead to meaningful changes in behavior, he said.
    • Instead, he said, therapists should use their time to push their patients to reach their goals.

    More and more people are seeking mental health care these days, according to recent newsreports— but that doesn't always mean they're getting the help they need.

    In fact, according to one psychotherapist, some patients actually suffer from too much therapy.

    Jonathan Alpert, a psychotherapist and author of "Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days," contends that in many cases, the more therapy sessions someone attends, the less likely they are to be effective.

    One of the biggest problems with therapy, Alpert told Business Insider, is that many therapists are content to let their patients vent about their problems for entire sessions. Although that can be "cathartic" for the patient, Alpert said, it doesn't lead to meaningful changes in behavior.

    "All too often, consumers of therapy leave feeling good, but they don't recognize the changes aren't lasting," he told Business Insider. 

    Related:A psychotherapist says there are 3 common reasons so many people's New Year's resolutions end in failure

    Alpert argued against excessive therapy in a 2012 New York Times column that he said prompted "countless hate emails from therapists around the globe."

    In the column, he said many therapists take a passive approach to helping their patients, prodding them to "talk endlessly about how they feel or about childhood memories" instead of offering their opinions, advice, and strategies to help them achieve their goals. The result is therapy that lasts multiple years instead of just a few sessions.

    "For many therapy patients, it is satisfying just to have someone listen, and they leave sessions feeling better. But there's a difference between feeling good and changing your life," Alpert wrote for The Times. "Feeling accepted and validated by your therapist doesn't push you to reach your goals. To the contrary, it might even encourage you to stay mired in dysfunction."

    Alpert said a proactive approach to therapy can shave down the number of sessions a patient needs to attend drastically. He said he's worked with patients who had previously attended years of therapy only to have them face their fears and calm their anxieties in a matter of weeks.

    fearless alpertAlthough long-term therapy can be necessary to address "severe psychological disorders," Alpert wrote, the average patient typically doesn't need years, or even months, with their doctor.

    Most people, he said, seek help for "discrete, treatable issues" like unfulfilling jobs and relationships or a fear of change. And those problems don't need to take dozens of sessions to solve, he said.

    "Therapy can — and should — focus on goals and outcomes, and people should be able to graduate from it," he said.

    SEE ALSO: A psychotherapist says there are 3 common reasons so many people's New Year's resolutions end in failure

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