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The latest news from Business Insider

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    becky hammon

    • Since Adam Silver took over as Commissioner of the NBA in 2014, the league has taken on a new reputation as a progressive organization that is willing to embrace social change.
    • In a conversation with MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle, Silver leaned into that reputation and expressed his hopes that the NBA would become the first major professional men's sports league to employ a female head coach.
    • Silver named San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, Washington Mystics guard and Washington Wizards player development assistant Kristi Toliver, and Seattle Storm star and newly-appointed Denver Nuggets basketball operation associate Sue Bird as likely candidates to break the NBA's glass ceiling.


    Since Adam Silver took over as commissioner of the NBA in 2014, the league has embraced its new reputation as a progressive organization.

    In direct opposition to the NFL, the NBA has supported its athletes as they use their platforms to promote social change. Silver has also made multiple decisions that have made it clear that the league will not tolerate hate of any kind, including barring former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league after his racist comments and actions and relocating the 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte, North Carolina in light of the state's anti-LGBTQ legislation.

    But even given all of these actions geared towards pushing the league into the future, the NBA is still hoping to overcome one significant hurdle in the realm of diversity.

    In the NBA's 72-year history, there has never been a single female head coach at the helm of any of the league's 30 teams. But according to Silver, all of that could change soon.

    Silver spoke to MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle at the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday about his expectation that the NBA will have a woman head coach soon. According to Kevin Draper of the New York Times, Silver hopes that the NBA will become the first major professional men's sports league in the United States to employ a female head coach.

    "We are very focused on a woman being a head coach in our league," Silver said, per the New York Times. "I am very confident it is going to happen at some point."

    Silver named San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, Washington Mystics guard and Washington Wizards player development assistant Kristi Toliver, and Seattle Storm star and newly-appointed Denver Nuggets basketball operation associate Sue Bird as likely candidates to break the NBA's glass ceiling.

    Gregg Popovich on Becky Hammon

    Former WNBA stars Lindsey Harding and Jenny Boucek also currently hold positions with NBA franchises and could advance through the ranks in the coming years.

    Back in March of 2017, Silver told ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk that he hopes a female ascends to the helm of one of the NBA's teams "sooner rather than later." In that same interview, Silver addressed the lack of gender diversity among the league's officiants.

    "It would be my goal as we look to increase that pool of officials that we recruit equally from pools of potential women as we do from men," Silver told Youngmisuk. "We will be looking very hard at dramatically increasing the representation of women in our officiating ranks."

    He has already begun to make good on that promise. The league recently promoted two female referees to full-time positions, making them the fourth and fifth women to ever officiate in the NBA. Now it appears Silver will focus his attention on the lack of female representation in coaching.

    "When it comes to coaching, when there is absolutely no physical requirement, when it is not a function of how high you can jump or how strong you are, there is no physical litmus test to being a head coach in the league, there is absolutely no reason why a woman will not ascend to be a head coach in this league," he told Youngmisuk. "We are very focused in on it."

    Join the conversation about this story »

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


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    Trump

    • President Donald Trump lashed out at Chief Justice John Roberts on Twitter Wednesday.
    • He also doubled down on criticism of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
    • Earlier on Wednesday, Roberts rebuked Trump, saying, "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges."
    • Roberts was responding to Trump calling a judge who ruled against the Trump administration on a matter related to asylum requests at the US-Mexico border an "Obama judge."

    President Donald Trump on Wednesday lashed out at Chief Justice John Roberts, continuing his criticism of the federal judiciary and repeating suspect claims about the caravan of migrants from Central America.

    "Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have 'Obama judges,' and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country," Trump tweeted.

    "It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an 'independent judiciary,' but if it is why are so many opposing view (on Border and Safety) cases filed there, and why are a vast number of those cases overturned," he said. "Please study the numbers, they are shocking. We need protection and security - these rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!"

    Earlier in the day Roberts had made a rare statement defending the federal judiciary against attacks from Trump.

    "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges," Roberts said in a statement to the Associated Press. "What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them."

    He added: "That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for."

    Trump's Wednesday tweets were a response to Roberts' statement, and a doubling down of criticism against the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. He also repeated a claim that there were "criminals" in the caravan of migrants either at or heading to the border, which in a fact-check The Washington Post gave three Pinocchios.

    Earlier this week, Judge Jon Tigar of the US District Court in San Francisco blocked the Trump administration from applying a new immigration rule that would bar immigrants from applying for asylum if they did not cross at a legal checkpoint.

    "Whatever the scope of the president’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,"Tigar's order stated.

    On Tuesday, Trump called Tigar an "Obama judge," and he claimed that the 9th Circuit where, according to The New York Times, the case will likely head, a "disgrace."

    "This was an Obama judge," Trump said of the ruling. "And I'll tell you what, it's not going to happen like this anymore. It means an automatic loss no matter what you do. ... People should not be allowed to immediately run to this very friendly circuit and file their case."

    Trump had previously clashed with the courts — especially over his immigration policies. In June, however, in a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the third iteration of the Trump administration's "travel ban," barring entry from certain majority-Muslim countries and North Korea.

    The president's open hostility toward courts and judges that rule against him is unprecedented.

    "The courts are bulwarks of our Constitution and laws, and they depend on the public to respect their judgments and on officials to obey and enforce their decisions," the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, a nonpartisan organization, wrote last year.

    "Fear of personal attacks, public backlash, or enforcement failures should not color judicial decision-making, and public officials have a responsibility to respect courts and judicial decisions. Separation of powers is not a threat to democracy; it is the essence of democracy."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Megyn Kelly in 2017: 'I regret a lot' of the controversial stuff I've said on live television


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    NASA International Space Station

    The International Space Station (ISS) celebrated its 20th anniversary on Tuesday, marking two decades since the station's first component launched into orbit on a Russian rocket.

    Since November 2000, when NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko became the first humans to stay long-term on the ISS, more than 230 people have visited the $150 billion laboratory in space. 

    Today, the ISS is voluminous enough to fill a six-bedroom house. It's the largest space vehicle ever built, and scientists have conducted more than 2,500 investigations there.

    To celebrate the ISS' birthday, we've rounded up what some astronauts have said about their time onboard.

    SEE ALSO: Stunning video captures what it's like to live on the International Space Station

    The space station, which hovers about 250 miles above the Earth, is the size of a football field. It was envisioned as both a laboratory and a potential pit stop for missions to the moon or Mars.



    A spacecraft can reach the ISS as little as six hours after launching from Earth, and six spaceships can be connected to the station at the same time.



    Astronaut Peggy Whitson was the first woman to command the ISS. Whitson, who retired in June, holds the US record for most time in space: 665 days. Whitson told Business Insider that she won't miss the food, which is on a 16-day rotation cycle. "The motto 'it's all about the sauce' really is true, because it all kinda starts tasting the same after a while," she said.

    Read more: The incredible career of NASA's Peggy Whitson, who applied to become an astronaut 10 times before she broke the American record for space travel



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    Amazon Fire TV Cube

    Maybe it's the shadow cast by Prime Day, or the need to be the biggest and best, or the seemingly infinite number of products available in its marketplace, but Amazon does not play around when it comes to Black Friday. As a result, plenty of shoppers will spend most of the holiday in the weeds of thousands of those deals — trying to stay on top of them while new discounts drop by the minute.

    To make Black Friday on Amazon less overwhelming and more impactful for you, we 'll be logging the best deals below for easy reference: Amazon devices, robot vacuums, Instant Pots, HD TVs, and pretty much anything else you could need — and actually want — all in one scrollable place. 

    Below are the deals currently active to shop. We'll be updating this article as more deals become available. Bookmark this page and check back in if you want to be kept up-to-date. 

    Looking for more deals? We've rounded up the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on the internet.

    To potentially save more on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can visit Business Insider Coupons to find up-to-date promo codes for a range of online stores.

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place





    Over-ear

    In-ear



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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

    Edge computing solutions are key tools that help companies grapple with rising data volumes across industries. These types of solutions are critical in allowing companies to gain more control over the data their IoT devices create and in reducing their reliance on (and the costs of) cloud computing.

    edge popularity

    These systems are becoming more sought-after — 40% of companies that provide IoT solutions reported that edge computing came up more in discussion with customers in 2017 than the year before, according to Business Insider Intelligence’s 2017 Global IoT Executive Survey. But companies need to know whether they should look into edge computing solutions, and what in particular they can hope to gain from shifting data processing and analysis from the cloud to the edge.

    There are three particular types of problems that edge computing solutions are helping to combat across industries:

    • Security issues. Edge computing can limit the exposure of critical data by minimizing how often it’s transmitted. Further, they pre-process data, so there’s less data to secure overall.
    • Access issues. These systems help to provide live insights regardless of whether there’s a network connection available, greatly expanding where companies and organizations can use connected devices and the data they generate.
    • Transmission efficiency. Edge computing solutions process data where it’s created so less needs to be sent to the cloud, leading to lower cloud storage requirements and reduced transmission cost.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence examines how edge computing is reducing companies' reliance on cloud computing in three key industries: healthcare, telecommunications, and the automotive space. We explore how these systems mitigate issues in each sector by helping to efficiently process growing troves of data, expanding the potential realms of IoT solutions a company can offer, and bringing enhanced computing capability to remote and mobile platforms.

    Here are some key takeaways from the report:

    • In healthcare, companies and organizations are using edge computing to improve telemedicine and remote monitoring capabilities.
    • For telecommunications companies, edge computing is helping to reduce network congestion and enabling a shift toward the IoT platform market.
    • And in the automotive space, edge computing systems are enabling companies to increase the capabilities of connected cars and trucks and approach autonomy.

    In full, the report:

    • Explores the key advantages edge computing solutions can provide.
    • Highlights the circumstances when companies should look into edge systems.
    • Identifies key vendors and partners in specific industries while showcasing case studies of successful edge computing programs.

      Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

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

      Purchase & download the full report from our research store

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    thanksgiving

    • Thanksgiving is a day for family, mediocre NFL games, voracious caloric consumption, and quite often,  political arguments that quickly devolve into fruitless acrimony. 
    • The internet is filled with advice takes on how to politically engage your adversarial relatives at dinner. 
    • The advice runs the gamut from meditation and deference to call-outs and conflict escalation.

    Thanksgiving is a day for family, mediocre NFL games, voracious caloric consumption, and quite often — political arguments that quickly devolve into fruitless acrimony. 

    In what has become a pre-Thanksgiving tradition, the interwebs are awash with advice on how to politically engage your adversarial relatives at dinner. 

    ABC News correspondent Dan Harris recommends in Men's Health meditation before entering the Turkey Day family maelstrom, followed by a three-step process:

    1. "Don't try to change minds. ... Instead, go in with the goal of simply trying to understand where people are coming from."
    2. "Make 'I' statements rather than truth statements. ... For example, a Democrat might have better luck saying to a Trump supporter, 'I'm worried that President Trump may be violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution' rather than 'The president is irredeemably corrupt, and you're a horrible person for supporting him.'"
    3. "Don't characterize the other side's opinion; just characterize your own. ... For instance, a pro-Trumper would be advised to say, 'I'm worried about higher taxes damaging the economy' rather than 'You Democrats just want to feed at the trough of a bloated welfare state.'"

    Writing in The New York Times, Lisa Lerer also dispenses some peacekeeping advice. 

    1. "Don't mention President Trump," Lerer advises, citing a SurveyMonkey poll showing "37% of respondents saying mention of the president was most likely to start an argument"— regardless of the respondents' political party.
    2. "Focus on the food."
    3. "Lay down the law," by declaring some topics off-limits and "starting the night with a toast to civility."
    4. "Forget about winning."

    Read more: How liberals and conservatives do Thanksgiving dinner differently

    But not all Thanksgiving survival advice is conciliatory. Also in The New York Times, Karen Tamerius introduces an interactive bot representing your dreaded "angry uncle," and a game plan on how to convince him that you are right and he is wrong — but only if he's conservative. If he's liberal, you should defer to his wisdom.

    Amy McCarthy writes in Eater.com that "you have an obligation to push back against harmful rhetoric simply because others do not," which in McCarthy's view includes calling out problematic relatives not just for odious racism and homophobia, but also controversial yet mainstream political positions such as support for the Second Amendment. 

    Clearly no one-size-fits-all advice will be practicable for every family, but if you're someone who would rather avoid the strum und drung of maximalist political warfare among "loved ones" assembled for a mere few hours, Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic offers a tongue-in-cheek 13-step guide to handling every political issue likely to cause resentment among any faction of the family. Point six is the one I'm most inclined to abide by this Thanksgiving:

    "Every family has a patriotic duty to debate the most important unsettled political question of our era: Is President Donald Trump a sexually predatory Nazi who praises murderous tyrants while normalizing a Margaret Atwood dystopia? Or is he a latter-day Midas who beds porn stars only with their consent … with the same manly hands he used to romance North Korea’s leader out of his nukes? At my house, each faction will nominate a champion to argue its position, those of us who remembered to bring IDs will vote on who won, and absent unanimity, we’ll settle the matter by combat."

    SEE ALSO: How liberals and conservatives do Thanksgiving dinner differently

    SEE ALSO: More people are going to be shopping on their phones under the Thanksgiving dinner table this year

    Join the conversation about this story »

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


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    trump visits paradise camp fire

    • The death toll from the California wildfires has risen to 84. Around 990 people are still missing.
    • The Camp Fire in Northern California destroyed an entire town in less than a day and has killed at least 81 people, making it the deadliest fire in the state's history. It was 80% contained on Wednesday.
    • The Woolsey Fire on the outskirts of Los Angeles burned more than 150 square miles and is over 95% 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 flames from California's deadliest wildfire have mostly retreated into forested, unpopulated areas of the state, but the death toll is still rising.

    Rains are now soaking the water-starved northern part of the state, but the precipitation brings a threat of  mudslides and makes efforts to recover human remains trickier.

    Two more victims were found on Tuesday, bringing the death toll from Northern California's Camp Fire to 81 people. Roughly 989 others are still missing, according to the Butte County Sheriff's Office.

    "We put the list out. It will fluctuate. It will go up, it will go down, because this is in a state of flux," Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Monday

    The Camp Fire, located less than 100 miles north of Sacramento, is now 80% contained. To date, it's burned up roughly 240 square miles of land, an area larger than the city of Chicago.

    President Donald Trump visited the wreckage in Paradise, California on Saturday and described the area as "total devastation."

    "We're going to have to work quickly," he said. "Hopefully this is going to be the last of these because this was a really, really bad one."

    The other deadly wildfire in California, the Woolsey Fire, burned more than 150 square miles in the hills around Los Angeles and is almost extinguished. Residents of Malibu and other LA suburbs whose houses were in the path of the fire have begun to return home to charred shells.

    Two people were killed in the Woolsey Fire on November 9, and a third body was found in a burned home in Agoura Hills on November 14, bringing the death toll from both the Woolsey and Camp fires to 84.

    Already this year, 7,778 fires have burned across California, fueled by hot, dry conditions and aggressive winds. The causes of both the Woolsey Fire and the Camp Fire are still under investigation, but sparking power lines may have played a role in the Camp Fire.

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

    camp fire san francisco sacramento 1

    The Camp Fire moved at a deadly pace— about 80 football fields a minute — after breaking out at about 6:30 a.m. on November 8. The 27,000-resident town of Paradise was in flames within hours.

    That speed 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.

    More than 13,700 homes and 500 businesses have been destroyed so far, along with over 4,100 other buildings, making the Camp Fire the most destructive wildfire in California's history in terms of structures lost. Cal Fire doesn't expect the blaze to be extinguished until the end of the month. 

    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 is tricky 

    Coroner search teams are looking for victims in Paradise, where rain is beginning to fall for the first time in months.

    More than 450 people were dispatched to look for human remains in the debris, the Associated Press reported. Abandoned cars in driveways can be a sign that residents might not have escaped in time.

    search for bodies camp fire

    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.

    Sheriff Honea said Butte County is working with anthropologists from California State University at Chico to help identify bone fragments among ash in the area, and some residents have given cheek swabs that might 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.

    paradise search for missing continues camp fire

    The rain this week will help firefighters, but it could make searching for remains more difficult.

    The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for areas where the Camp Fire burned, which is in effect from Wednesday afternoon through Friday morning. 

    Federal assistance is coming, but Trump blamed a lack of raking for the fires

    mourning camp fire 77 dead northern california

    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, the president 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." 

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

    camp fire walmart parking lot evacuees

    FEMA 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."

    The aid is much needed among fire victims who lost everything. Troy Miller, a Butte County resident, is 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. "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 has traveled hundreds of miles and made San Francisco air unhealthy

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

    camp fire san francisco city smoke 2

    Last weekend, the Environmental Protection Agency described the air throughout much of the Bay Area as "very unhealthy" to breathe. Federal air monitors suggested that residents limit time outside and avoid outdoor exercise.

     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, was worse than Beijing or New Delhi last Friday, prompting San Francisco public schools to close.

    The conditions are expected to improve as rain continues to fall, though.

    The Woolsey fire, which burned nearly 97,000 acres near LA, is almost extinguished

    woolsey fire los angeles

    The Woolsey Fire, fueled by fierce Santa Ana winds, has destroyed more than 1,500 structures, mostly homes.

    The fire was 98% contained on Wednesday, and red-flag wind warnings that were in effect around Southern California last week have expired.

    woolsey fire in malibu

    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.

    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 current fire perimeters, evacuation updates, and shelter and donation information 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.

    Ellen Cranley, Bryan Logan, and David Choi contributed reporting.

    This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

    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

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A 'firenado' is a real thing — here’s how the dangerous phenomenon forms


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    Apple TV

    • Apple has considered the release of a lower-priced Apple TV dongle similar to the Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire Stick, according to a report by The Information on Wednesday
    • For Apple, a low-price dongle could make sense, given the upcoming launch of the company's streaming video service. 
    • A device that's cheaper than the Apple TV could help broaden Apple's audience for its original and licensed content. 

    Apple has considered the release a lower-priced Apple TV dongle similar to the Roku Streaming Stick or Amazon Fire TV Stick, according to a report by The Information on Wednesday.

    It's not clear if Apple ultimately decided whether or not to move forward with plans to release such a device. For Apple, though, a lower-price TV dongle could make sense, given that the company's upcoming streaming service is set to launch as early as March 2019.

    The streaming service will only be available on the iPad, iPhone, and Apple TV. Given that the Apple TV costs at least $149, a cheaper device for accessing the company's content could help broaden Apple's audience. 

    Today, Amazon and Roku dongles — which plug into the back of televisions and allow users to stream content— cost as little as $25 and $30 respectively. 

    Apple's streaming service will include a combination of original content and licensing deals with production companies. The company has already announced 19 original series, including a biographical drama about Kevin Durant and an untitled series starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. 

    Read more: The 19 original shows Apple is producing in its push into TV as an 'expensive NBC'

    Apple has already spent more than $1 billion producing its original content. In October, CNBC reported that Apple's original TV and movie content might be free for anyone accessing it through an iPhone or iPad. 

    Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

     

    Join the conversation about this story »

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


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    lol surprise toy 2018

    • INSIDER rounds up this year's most sought-after toys.
    • Hatchibabies, L.O.L. Surprise, a Hogwarts Lego castle, and "Incredibles 2" action figures are among the toys you'll want to look for.

    The biggest shopping days of the year are nearly upon us and if you're unsure what to go out and buy this holiday season for the kids in your life, we have you covered.

    This year is all about L.O.L. Surprise, dinosaurs, "The Incredibles 2," and some good old '90s nostalgia. 
    After attending several toy fairs, visiting a few major retailers, and attending toy review site TTPM's annual holiday showcase this year, INSIDER rounded up the toys every kid will want on their holiday list. 

    Keep reading to see what toys are going to sell out fast. 

    One of the biggest toys this year is L.O.L. Surprise.

    Don't wait until the last minute to nab one of these. No matter what Target I head to, this toy is always sold out. And don't settle for just any version of this toy.

    There are a few different categories of the toy you can purchase. There are "Pets" and "Lil Sisters." Don't make the mistake of picking up the pets. I've never had a problem finding those in any store. It's the dolls everyone is seeking out. Aim for a "Glam Glitter" or "Under Wraps" kit seen above. 

    Fair warning: These toys are all about the unboxing experience. Parents may not be big fans of all the wrappers and clean up involved just for their kids to get to the doll and its accessories inside. If your child is really into the unwrapping experience and you're OK with the mess, go for the L.O.L. Bigger Surprise, which contains 60 surprises.

    Price: $9.95 to $80
    Ages: 5+
    Where to find them: Target, Walmart, Walgreens, Kohls, and Amazon



    Another huge toy is Hatchimals' Hatchibabies.

    Similar to the original popular Hatchimals, Spin Master's big fall release is a baby version of the interactive animals which hatch from eggs. Part of the play is hatching the egg, which you need to tap and hug for the little guy (or girl) inside to come out.

    The babies have bigger eyes than their predecessors and respond to being fed, tickled, burped, and more. The hatchlings come with accessories including a hairbrush, rattle, and bottle to help care for them. 

    Price: $59.99
    Ages: 5 and up
    Where to find them: Target, Walmart, and Amazon



    Fingerlings Hugs are a major upgrade to last year's popular must-have.

    If the original Fingerlings toys were a bit too small for you, WowWee is back this year with a larger version of its hit. Just like the tiny Fingerlings baby monkeys, the stuffed versions can be rocked to sleep, blow kisses, and respond to being held upside down. 

    A new addition is that kids can record their words and have them repeated back to them. You can read more about Fingerlings hugs here. The plush toys aren't limited to monkeys either. There are also sloth and unicorn stuffed animals to choose from. 

    Price: $29.99
    Ages: 2+
    Where to find them: Target, Walmart, Amazon, and Kohls



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    lebron james lakers

    • LeBron James is taking deeper three-pointers and making more of them than ever before, adding a Stephen Curry-esque trait to his game.
    • James' shooting has helped the Los Angeles Lakers find their groove in recent weeks.
    • If James can continue to become a better shooter as he gets older, he could stretch his prime even longer and maintain his effectiveness on the court.


    LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have found their groove in recent weeks, winning five of their last six games and seven of their last nine to improve to 9-7 on the season.

    In the process, James has become more comfortable with his new teammates, and it's showing on the court. In his last nine games, James is averaging 29.7 points per game on 53.6% shooting, 50.9% from three, with 6 rebounds and 6 assists per game.

    James has improved as a shooter during his career, and his accuracy from beyond the three-point line has made him a more dangerous and versatile player. This year, James looks even more willing to let it fly from well beyond the line, as if he studied Stephen Curry in the offseason. James hasn't admitted to such, but it's not a stretch to think he might have viewed the way Curry bends the floor.

    Curry's ability to launch from anywhere inside of half court has changed the NBA. Teams now practice shooting from well beyond the arc, with teams like the Houston Rockets emphasizing to their players to take a few steps behind the line to create more spacing.

    After starting hot from three-point range last season, James said he changed his form in the offseason and worked on his shot. Perhaps he was back in the lab this summer.

    For the season, James is shooting 39% from three-point range, the second-best mark of his career. According to the NBA's stats site, James has taken 68 field goal attempts from between 25-29 feet and six attempts from 30-34 feet. He's hit 39% of his attempts from beyond 25 feet, which is any non-corner three-pointer. James is also taking more attempts from three than ever before, with 30% of his overall shots coming from long range, up from 25% in the last two seasons.

    In other words, James is launching from deep more than ever before and hitting them at a nearly career-best clip.


    Another noteworthy addition to James' game is that he's taking more pull-up shots than before. According to the NBA's stats site, 42.8% of James' shots this year have been pull-up jumpers. That's up from 36% last year and 34% the year before. He's averaging a whopping 3.8 pull-up three-pointers per game and hitting 43% of them. That is Stephen Curry-esque!


    This development is about more than James expanding his game, however.

    First, if James can sustain this type of shooting, it changes the Lakers' offense. Much was made about the Lakers' roster and the lack of shooting around James. That hasn't changed, though fears of a cramped floor have slowly dissipated as the season has gone on. The Lakers are shooting 36.1% from three, 11th-best in the league. Last season, that mark would have placed them at 15th in the league, smack-dab in the middle.

    Before the season, James was said to be eyeing a move to the low post, which would help mitigate the Lakers' spacing issues and also allow him to do less dribbling and play-making from the perimeter.

    Read more: LeBron James is reportedly already eyeing a role change with the Lakers that would emulate past NBA greats

    But James isn't posting up more — in fact, he's averaging two fewer post-ups per game this year. Instead, he's stretched his game further from the basket. In doing so, he creates more space for his teammates and gives the Lakers' offense an added dose of efficiency.

    It's also an interesting development in James' overall career arc. James will turn 34 in December. No matter how superhuman he may seem on the court, his burst and quickness will start to fade as he gets older. James has already developed into a good enough shooter to make defenses pay for sagging off on him.

    One source familiar with James told Business Insider that teams incorrectly defend James when they give him space to brace for his drives to the hoop. James' first step has slowed down already, this source said, so teams should play him on him, taking away both the drive and his jumper.

    Instead, teams continue to give James space, and now, he's making them pay with his jumper.


    Perhaps this is a sign of what's to come in James' future. He's no longer the highest flyer in the league, but he can still attack the basket with gusto. If James' jumper continues to develop and become more accurate as he gets older, he could stretch his prime for longer than anyone expected.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    sheryl sandberg

    • Facebook's outgoing communications boss Elliot Schrage has taken the fall for a controversial relationship with Definers Public Affairs.
    • But COO Sheryl Sandberg has now admitted that she received emails referencing Definers — after previously saying that she did not know Facebook hired the company.
    • In other words, she was made aware of the Definers partnership, but it just didn't register.
    • Sandberg has been buffeted by a sequence of recent scandals at Facebook, but has the support of staff.

    We're now in week two of the news cycle on Facebook's relationship with Definers Public Affairs, which resulted in the PR firm throwing shade on Facebook's rivals and critics.

    Both Mark Zuckerberg and his number two, Sheryl Sandberg, have denied any knowledge of Definers' activities, including its efforts to link billionaire investor George Soros to an anti-Facebook movement.

    Instead, outgoing Head of Communications and Policy Elliot Schrage has taken the fall. In an internal memo, published by Facebook on the eve of Thanksgiving, Schrage said he "knew and approved of the decision to hire Definers" but was not made aware of expanding the firm's mandate into a smear campaign.

    Read more: Mark Zuckerberg reportedly blamed Sheryl Sandberg for the Cambridge Analytica fallout, making her worry for her job

    "I built a management system that relies on the teams to escalate issues if they are uncomfortable about any project, the value it will provide or the risks that it creates," Schrage said. "That system failed here and I’m sorry I let you all down."

    Sandberg received emails referencing Definers

    But following Schrage's admission, we also now know that the relationship with Definers was referenced in messages that went right to the top of Facebook.

    Responding to Schrage's email, Sandberg admitted that she had received a "small number of emails where Definers was referenced" and some of the firm's work was "incorporated into materials presented to me."

    It follows her statement on the matter last week, in which she said: "I did not know we hired them or about the work they were doing."

    In other words, she was made aware of the Definers partnership, but it just didn't register.

    Sandberg said she accepted responsibility for the matter. "I want to be clear that I oversee our Comms team and take full responsibility for their work and the PR firms who work with us," she said in her email this week.

    Sandberg has been buffeted by a sequence of recent scandals at Facebook. Zuckerberg personally blamed Sandberg for Cambridge Analytica, leaving her rattled and fearing for her job, The Wall Street Journal reported.

    But one Facebook executive said there has been a "huge upswell" of support for her internally. "The amount of support, and other executives who have worked with her within the company for so many years, who are rallying around this particular challenge has been remarkable," said Patrick Walker, director of media partnerships in Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

    SEE ALSO: Facebook staff have voiced a 'huge upswell' of support for Sheryl Sandberg after she reportedly feared for her job, says company exec

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    sheryl sandberg facebook coo

    • Sheryl Sandberg's future at Facebook has become an open topic of discussion in recent weeks.
    • Facebook has stumbled through a myriad of scandals over the last two years and is facing calls for someone to be held accountable for them.
    • There are good reasons for Facebook to oust Sandberg, its chief operating officer, including that she oversaw the groups at the center of many of the fiascos.
    • But firing her wouldn't be nearly enough to solve Facebook's problems — and the problems it poses for society.

    With all the turmoil going on at Facebook, the once-unthinkable notion that star executive Sheryl Sandberg would ever be forced out seems to have become the topic on the tips of many tongues.

    Investors are discussing it. Some — including yours truly— have called for it. In recent days, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other company officials have been repeatedly asked about it.

    Even Sandberg herself reportedly felt earlier this year like she was on shaky ground. And that was before the latest revelations about the company including that it reportedly tried to limit public disclosures about what the company had found out about Russian interference in the 2016 election and launched a campaign to hit back at critics, including billionaire financier George Soros.

    There are plenty of good reasons why Facebook should fire Sandberg, starting with the ugly and anti-Semitic Soros smear. But it would be unfortunate if Sandberg alone ends up taking a fall for the company. Facebook's problems extend far beyond Sandberg and go all the way up into the CEO's office. Change at the company really ought to begin at the very top.

    Read this:Heads ought to roll at Facebook over the Soros smear — starting with Zuck's

    Sandberg and Facebook's reputation have fallen steeply

    That Sandberg find herself under fire is an amazing turn of events. As recently last year, she was widely hailed as a feminist and tech industry icon, thanks to her highly influential book, "Lean In," and her role at Facebook, where she helped oversee its growth from a young startup to the global giant it is today.

    George SorosBut public perception of Sandberg and her company have changed markedly over the last year, thanks to the series of scandals and fiascos Facebook has found itself in. From the Russian election interference, which the company didn't detect until too late, to the spread of genocide-stoking propaganda in Myanmar, to multiple security breaches and data leaks, including the one to Cambridge Analytica, to the recent revelations about how it targeted its critics, Facebook has had a gusher of bad news to contend with.

    Many of these scandals and fiascos happened on Sandberg's watch. The security team was under her purview, most notably while Russian-linked groups hijacked Facebook to spread their propaganda. Although she says she didn't know about the Soros smear or that Facebook had hired the public relations firm that propagated it, she oversaw the company's communications team and effort.

    According to The New York Times, Sandberg was the one who spearheaded the general effort to try to turn the tables on Facebook's critics. She also repeatedly tried to tone down reports about Russian interference in the election, according to that report.

    Thanks to the stream of scandals and the efforts Facebook's taken to respond to them, which have increased costs and decreased user growth, the company's stock has been crushed. It's down 25% in the year to date, but off 39% since hitting its all-time high in July.

    Speculation is growing about Sandberg's future at Facebook

    Publicly, at least, Facebook officials are standing by Sandberg. At a lunch meeting with journalists on Tuesday, Patrick Walker, one of Facebook's top executives in the UK, said there was a "huge upswell" in support for Sandberg inside the company. In an interview on CNN later that day, Zuckerberg expressed his own backing of Sandberg.

    "I hope we work together for decades more to come," he said.

    Mark ZuckerbergBut these attestations of support in Sandberg have the feel of those given by a president right before he ousts one of his cabinet members. In his CNN interview, Zuckerberg notably did not directly answer the question asked by Senior Tech Correspondent Laurie Segal, which was whether he could "definitively say Sheryl would stay in the same role." Instead, he mainly talked about the work she's done.

    Those statements from company officials come amid growing discussion of Sandberg's role and future at the company — and outright calls for her to leave.

    The head of Soros' foundation harshly criticized Sandberg and the company for the smear perpetrated against Soros. The anti-Facebook groups who were targeted with the smear have called for the immediate termination of those responsible for it, which would presumably include Sandberg.

    Meanwhile, CNBC commentator Jim Cramer contended on-air Monday that Facebook's stock would go up if Sandberg resigned. And Evercore analyst Anthony DiClemente said in a research note Tuesday he was fielding a growing number of calls from investors wondering about whether she'll be ousted because of the "drumbeat of negative press."

    All of this may seem to be just outside noise. But Zuckerberg himself — in an apparently unusual move — reportedly upbraided Sandberg this spring in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, saying he blamed her for the public relations black eye the company received for it. The move reportedly left Sandberg reeling. And things have only gotten worse for the company since then.

    Sacking Sandberg alone wouldn't solve Facebook's problems

    The company could do a lot worse than to hold Sandberg accountable for its string of scandals. Facebook has failed in spectacular ways in the last two years, and the groups Sandberg oversaw were at the heart of those failures. She drew outsized credit for Facebook's success. It wouldn't be unfair for her to take the fall for its failures.

    But she shouldn't be alone. She shouldn't be its sole or primary scapegoat.

    Sandberg answers to Zuckerberg. He fully controls the company, thanks to the outsized voting rights his Facebook shares give him. He can and does direct Facebook as he sees fit.

    But more to the point, Zuckerberg is the one who determines how much of the company's resources and engineering personnel to devote to particular efforts or projects, as company director Susan Desmond-Hellmann explained to the Wall Street Journal recently. Whatever Sandberg culpability for the scandals that have befallen Facebook, the buck ultimately stops with Zuckerberg. He too ought to step down.

    Chris Wylie London talk Cambridge AnalyticaOr, since he told CNN "that's not in the plan," he should be forced to, perhaps by having Congress abolish the super-voting powers of his shares, which is the basis of his control.

    But even that's not enough. Facebook would pose a threat to society no matter how enlightened and forward-thinking its management. The company itself simply has too much power. It's amassed detailed dossiers on millions of people. It, along with Google, dominates digital advertising and has become a major distributor of news and information.

    As has become abundantly clear in the last two years, Facebook has a frightening ability to manipulate people's attitudes and emotions and spread dangerous, even deadly propaganda both widely and at specifically targeted groups. It's not just subverting citizens' privacy on a vast scale, but it has the capacity to undermine democracy and civil society as well.

    Ultimately, Facebook itself needs to be held accountable for the damage it's caused. It needs to be broken up and regulated.

    Yes, Sandberg should resign for her and Facebook's failures. But that's only a start.

    Now read:

    SEE ALSO: The Facebook hack that exposed 30 million accounts shows we're going to be dealing with the consequences of its 'Move Fast' motto for years to come

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    donald trump peas turkey pardon.JPG

    • US President Donald Trump said on Thanksgiving that there would be "bedlam, chaos, injury and death" if the federal judiciary did not give him his way on immigration policy.
    • Trump has been butting heads with Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts after the judge defended the independence of the federal judiciary.
    • The constitution tasks the judicial branch of government, courts, with checking Congress and the executive branch on the constitutionality of their actions.
    • Trump particularly attacked the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, a broadly liberal court that's blocked many of his actions on immigration, like the travel ban and more recently the asylum ban.

    President Donald Trump again butted heads with Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts in a sustained attack on the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit after it blocked his move to restrict access to political asylum in the US for illegal immigrants.

    "Justice Roberts can say what he wants," Trump tweeted, referring to a rare statement from the top-ranked member of the Supreme Court defending the independence of the judicial branch of government, "but the 9th Circuit is a complete & total disaster."

    The 9th Circuit court, based in San Francisco, is one of the US's most liberal, and has blocked Trump's moves on immigration before, such as his travel ban.

    Read more:Trump lashes out at Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts after he reminded the president that judges are supposed to be independent

    "It is out of control, has a horrible reputation, is overturned more than any Circuit in the Country, 79%, & is used to get an almost guaranteed result," Trump tweeted of the court.

    A PolitiFact investigation in 2017 found that when the Supreme Court reviewed cases from the 9th Circuit court, it did indeed overturn 79%, but the total number of cases ruled by the court that get overturned stands lower than 1%.

    Furthermore, the 9th Circuit court doesn't have the highest rate of cases overturned by the Supreme court, the 6th Circuit court does, PolitiFact found.

    "Judges must not Legislate Security and Safety at the Border, or anywhere else. They know nothing about it and are making our Country unsafe," Trump continued.

    The US constitution tasks members of the federal judiciary with determining whether or not actions from Congress or the executive branch comply with the constitution.

    Read more:Sen. Chuck Grassley has some thoughts about Trump's attacks on federal judges

    In the case of the asylum ban, the 9th Circuit court found that Trump could not bar immigrants who entered the US illegally from seeking asylum as it clashed with laws passed by Congress.

    While Trump as president has broad authority to determine how to execute law enforcement, legislation must be carried out in cooperation with Congress.

    "Our great Law Enforcement professionals MUST BE ALLOWED TO DO THEIR JOB! If not there will be only bedlam, chaos, injury and death. We want the Constitution as written!" Trump continued.

    But, the judges in the 9th Circuit are also fulfilling their constitutional duty, according to Roberts and other legal experts, and part of their job is determining what jobs law enforcement professionals can do.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Wild Turkey

    • A wild turkey has evaded capture in Johnston, Rhode Island, for six months and continues to cause havoc in the town.
    • The turkey has trapped people in their cars, attacked vehicles, and blocked entrances to buildings.
    • The town's mayor has described it as "like Al Capone and John Dillinger" and thinks that it is staying in the town as people keep feeding it things like Starbucks muffins.
    • The bird is something of a local joke: It received 69 votes for mayor. 

    A wild turkey has been causing havoc in a Rhode Island town for six months, where it has been blocking traffic, chasing people, and stopping them paying taxes.

    Three wild turkeys arrived in the town of Johnston in May, but one managed to evade permanent capture the entire time by deploying a number of tactics, including being able to recognize the animal control van, the Guardian reported.

    The turkey has evaded town officials, halted traffic, and even interfered with people who were trying to enter the town hall to pay their taxes, the newspaper added.

    It has also chased a fireman, attacked cars because it saw its reflection, and flown onto telephone poles and trees to evade capture in the past.

    Read more: 'Peas' the turkey is pardoned by Trump after he joked that the alternate bird, 'Carrots,' had 'demanded a recount'

    Turkey Rhode Island

    Officers have started to use an undercover vehicle and a launcher that can fire out nets to try to capture the turkey, Johnston mayor Joseph Polisena told the Guardian. But those attempts have been unsuccessful so far.

    The turkey even managed to trap Polisena's administrative assistant inside her car this August by going up to her window and refusing to move, the local Providence Journal reported.

    Polisena described the bird as "like Al Capone and John Dillinger," and admitted that it was smarter than the other two that had been captured.

    "He’s unbelievably fast," he added.

    Read more: People are pranking their parents by asking them how to microwave a whole turkey, but experts say it's actually doable

    Polisena has also come up against the bird in politics — the turkey received 69 votes in the town's mayoral elections in November, the Guardian reported.

    People have even made the bird its own Facebook page, which updates as the bird continues to evade capture in the town.

    Polisena said that he believes the turkey has stayed in the town because people keep feeding it food, like Starbucks muffins.

    He also told the Guardian that the bird had inspired him to change his usual Thanksgiving meal.

    "I’ll be having lasagna for Thanksgiving," he said. "I already told my wife: Don't make turkey. Because I'll have flashbacks and nightmares of trying to capture this guy."

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Via CEO Daniel Ramot smaller version

    • Via— a ride-hailing company that focuses on shared rides — wants to eliminate the need for personal vehicles. 
    • On the consumer side, its drivers make more money than those at Uber and Lyft, through a more efficient algorithm described as a "virtual bus stop."
    • For cities, the company is licensing its software to run on-demand buses and even operates the entire network in some towns.
    • We sat down with CEO Daniel Ramot to talk about the business, his competitors, public transportation, scooters, and more. 

    Every morning throughout New York City, Chicago, and Washington, DC, a fleet of black vans emblazoned with bright blue logos take to the streets. If it weren’t for the Via logo, they’d blend right into the fabric of other ride-hail vehicles, personal cars, and taxis. 

    But under the surface, Via is hoping it can increase its market share above the tiny fraction that it currently holds by convincing people that a shared ride is better for everyone.

    The company, which draws inspiration from shared taxis in Israel called Sheruts, has raised $387 million in four rounds of venture capital funding and is currently active in three US cities as well as several other in Europe through a partnership with Mercedes-Benz.

    CEO Daniel Ramot has plans well beyond passengers ordering cars to get from one place to another: he wants to invent an ‘operating system’ for public transportation, one that will radically change our notion of a public bus, and — eventually — eliminate the need for personal vehicles.

    Currently, Via operates the entire public bus network in Arlington, Texas — replacing the traditional vehicles with on-demand shared vans. Its software enables other cities to do much the same with their public transit agencies.

    Business Insider caught up with Ramot to talk about what got the company to this point, how he views its mammoth competitors like Uber and Lyft, and what’s next for Via:

    This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

    Graham Rapier: Obviously Uber and Lyft are two of your largest competitors. What differentiates Via from other companies in the ride-hailing space?

    Daniel Ramot: We see ourselves as being in a different category from Uber and Lyft, and I don’t just say this as a way to address the question of competition. It’s been the way that we’ve thought about Via from the very beginning.

    We were really focused from the very beginning on creating technology and a service that is all about better public transportation. Essentially, we think of Via as a dynamic, on-demand bus solution, and that’s really the way that we started to think about the company from day one.

    Uber and Lyft, at least in my sense, have come at it from "how do we make a better taxi?" Now they’re adding other types of mobility, but the focus for them has not been around creating better public transportation or bus experience.

    I think that that sort of then translates into maybe at least a couple of different elements:

    via daimlerOne is that the technology we've developed is really geared towards creating a mass transit solution where we're trying to optimize the utilization of every seat. It’s really about thinking about things in that way, to reduce by using larger vehicles and driving the efficiency of the system as sort of the core goal.

    The other is the way that we've historically approached working with cities and public transportation agencies; Our goal has always been to be closely aligned with them and much more collaborative. The DNA of the company is very very different.  

    Rapier: A lot of your focus seems to be on improving public transportation — why that and not just another ride-hailing service?  

    Ramot: When we founded the company six years ago, we were thinking about "how do you make public transit better" and looking around it was clear that public transportation was a space that just had very little technology in it, we used to call it insulated from technology.

    We were inspired by this van-based system in Israel called Sheruts, where (shared) taxi vans simply run fixed routes like buses, but smaller and faster, and you can flag them down anywhere along the route. We had the idea of taking that system, and through technology, allowing those vehicles to be routed dynamically in response to demand.

    As we started to think about that solution, Oren, my co-founder, and I had this sense that this was going to be the future of public transportation. We really believed that, at some point down the road, there will certainly still be buses for high capacity routes, and maybe only during peak hours, but not all times. It was clear to us that many of the areas that we currently serve with buses could be far better served with these more agile, dynamic, data-driven, on-demand solutions.  

    Over time, we’ve come to think that it’s actually potentially much bigger than that. Not only can this help us replace underperforming bus routes or complement bus systems, but eventually, if you get the system to be good enough, you hit a certain combination of convenience and cost that could start to replace the private car — which is, in that sense, the holy grail.

    How do we get people out of their cars? It’s very hard to do with a bus, it hasn’t worked for dozens of years. Subways work very well, but they’re extremely expensive to dig and most cities don’t have the density or size to really support them.

    Rapier: But isn’t the beauty of a (well-planned) bus system that you know when and where it will show up, with at least some regularity, and where it’s going to go?

    Ramot: I think the psychology of it is probably complex. I don’t mean to over-simplify it, but I’m not convinced that what you just described isn’t just what we’ve gotten used to. If you actually take a step back, it isn't that normal to show up at a bus stop and just wait there, not knowing where the bus is, when it will come, and whether it will be too full or you can find a seat.  I think it’s just something that, due to lack of information and technology, we’ve become accustomed to. It makes a lot more sense if you can open your phone and say "I want to get from point A to point B" and within seconds the app says "okay walk 100 meters to this corner, and your vehicle is three minutes away" makes a lot more sense.  

    Rapier: What about people without phones, like kids, the elderly, or those who can’t afford it?

    Ramot: Usually the cities we work with, whether it’s directly with the municipality like in Arlington or a public transit agency, they are definitely concerned about that. When we're running a consumer service, our customers are people who have phones — we would love to get the people who don’t have phones too, but it’s okay, from our perspective, that we don’t provide service if you don’t have a phone with an app on it. But for a city like Arlington that would not be okay.

    ViaWe have a call center that you can call in, as well as several other ideas that we haven’t necessarily implemented. For example, you have at the bus stations or strategic locations a tablet that you can walk up to and simply order your ride from there. We could also have a web interface so you can go online and book a ride there.

    Rapier: How did the arrangement with Arlington, Texas come about? How did you convince an entire city — the seventh largest in the state — to let you run the entire public transit system?

    Ramot: We basically spent the first years the company building the technology. Once we became convinced the technology was really working, we starting going to transit conferences, speaking about what we’re doing and getting to know folks in the business — especially on the municipal and transit agency side. We ended up getting connected with the folks at Arlington and talking to them about what a solution could be for their city and how we would envision it.

    Those talks led to an RFP (request for proposal) for an innovative on-demand public transportation service. There were actually quite a few companies that responded and we ended up being selected through that procurement process. 

    Rapier: What’s the breakdown of your public transit versus consumer businesses? Are they equal or is one much bigger than the other? Which is your biggest focus right now?

    Ramot: Our consumer offerings in New York, Chicago, Washington D.C. and some European cities through a partnership with Mercedes-Benz is still the biggest part of our business today, and continued to grow very quickly.

    The part of the business where we are partnering with cities — either like the one in Arlington or simply providing the software to a transit agency — is rapidly growing. I suspect that within not too long will become an equally large and important part of the business.

    But if we take a step back, the way that we see what we’re doing is not as two separate businesses but one solution. We like to think of this as an operating system for on-demand shuttles. It’s an extremely efficient format that we’d like to deploy all over the world. The question then becomes what is the best way for us to enter all of these cities. Sometimes we decide that it makes sense to launch our own service as we did in New York and London. Other times it may be better for us to partner with a city or agency.

    Rapier: Let’s talk about the directly operated services. Subscription plans are hot right now, with Uber and Lyft both announcing them in the same week, but you’ve had Via Pass for years. How’s the response been to that?

    Ramot: Our subscription service is quite unique in that we’re the only one where you simply pay up front and then get unlimited (up to four) rides per day, much like a MetroCard in New York. (Editor's note: a 30-day pass for New York’s subway and buses is $121; a Via pass is $255 per month.)

    The service doesn't have dramatic price fluctuations that you might see on other platforms. To us, if you’re going to take one, two, or four rides today we know about how much they’re going to cost. 

    Via van appAdditionally, a lot of our businesses is commuters, they were the foundation of the service and a big part of what we’ve always done.

    Rapier: What about the algorithm — how is the routing different than that of say Lyft Line or Uber Pool?

    Ramot: The system we’ve developed is all about getting as many people as possible in the vehicle while guaranteeing a route that makes sense, and not being taken out of your way. Still, hopefully, we’re able to find a number of other passengers whose routes overlap and can all ride together with minimal disruption.

    This has always been key, but we realized early on that for this to even have a remote chance of working we’re going to have to ask people to walk a little bit. If we try to pick you up exactly where you are and drop you off exactly where you need to go, that imposes pretty strong constraints on the route of the vehicle and can force large detours.

    We very quickly realized this and then developed sophisticated technology around figuring out what we call “virtual bus stops” and the best way to route vehicles. These really complicate the computations — it’s no longer just the shortest route between your origin and destination, but a cloud of possible pickup points. 

    Shared rides have always been our focus, and we didn’t offer private rides until about a year ago. Still, about 95% of our requests are for shared rides. The vast majority of people obviously think about it as a shared service. I can talk a lot and tell you why it’s different, but I think that number speaks for itself.  

    Rapier: What about for drivers? Is your pay scale or driver app any different?

    Ramot: There are a few key differences around the driving experiences and pay. Drivers on the Via platform are very used to following the Via app. They’re provided with a route at all times, including when they’re empty. A big part of the efficiency is that we know exactly where they are and where they're going to be, so we can balance out where all the empty seats are throughout the city.

    If you imagine having all the vehicle take the fastest route, which might be Park Avenue for example. It’s very beneficial for us to have some vehicles go down Lexington, some go down 2nd, and so forth so that we’re always matching available seats and where they will be 10 minutes from now.

    This driver guidance helps contribute to our significantly higher utilization rate than other platforms, which then also translates into higher earnings per hour. If you look at the most recent TLC report, the median Via drivers were making 50% more than drivers on Uber and Lyft.  

    It's not necessarily that Via drivers when they have a passenger in the car are making more money than Uber drivers that have a passenger in the car, I think it really is about utilization. When you think about your experience on these other platforms, their focus is on providing you a ride that's within three to four minutes away. That’s it. It’s a great experience, no question, on the consumer side. But it means there have to be a lot of empty vehicles driving around waiting for you to open the app and book a ride.

    Our wait times are a bit longer, six minutes on average, but that all comes with trying to not have too many drivers on the road and having the efficiency as high as possible.

    Rapier: Will you be IPO-ing soon like Uber and Lyft?

    Ramot: It’s definitely a direction we’re thinking about. We’re trying to build a company that has a product that’s deployed in every city throughout the world. If we’re able to achieve that, then that’s certainly a company worthy of an IPO.

    Rapier: What about scooters? They seem to be all the rage now — are you planning to go beyond cars?

    Ramot: Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen technology come into the transportation space — with the introduction of ride-hailing and shared rides — that has been super interesting. Now, what we pioneered in New York is being adopted by other ride-hailing companies around the world like Uber Pool and even Didi Chuxing and Grab have shared services now.

    Technology can increasingly create new modes of transportation that didn’t exist and I think in the case of scooters — their combination of hardware, software, and batteries — has enabled this new mode of micro-mobility. Just like ride-sharing, this will change the urban mobility landscape in a really positive way. People have different needs, and having a diversity of modes to choose from is very important. We’re pretty excited about the space.

    We’re definitely looking to add scooters to our repertoire, specifically with what we’re offering to cities. A lot of our partner cities have expressed interest.

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

    SEE ALSO: Mercedes is pouring $50 million into an Uber competitor as people ditch their cars in big cities

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    Lassen Volcanic Center (Lassen Peak)

    • The #OptOutside campaign beckons people to explore the outdoors the day after Thanksgiving instead of indulging in Black Friday sales.
    • Some of America's most spectacular national parks are also the least visited, providing serene escapes from the shopping mall crowds.
    • Late fall is the perfect time to visit parks in the south due to the sweltering temperatures they can reach in the summertime.

     

    Some people find pleasure in rising from their turkey-induced slumbers in the wee hours of the morning only to battle the notoriously frenzied hordes of sleep-deprived shoppers over discounted toys and television sets. If you're not one of those people, there's a place for you.

    Many places, in fact, provide refuge from the madness of Black Friday. America's national parks offer innumerable opportunities to work off that second helping of Thanksgiving stuffing or just a beautiful backdrop to ride out the post-holiday bloat.

    REI started encouraging people to #OptOutside four years ago, when the outdoor retail brand closed its doors the day after Thanksgiving to encourage both employees and shoppers to enjoy the outdoors instead. The National Parks Service hopped aboard the movement in 2017, offering free entry on the shoppers' holiday. And while the parks will maintain their fees this year, they're sure to be less expensive than a 2 a.m. shopping trip.

    Here are eight underrated national parks to visit on Black Friday.

    SEE ALSO: I spent college studying and interning, but I didn't realize I'd missed a huge opportunity until it was too late

    Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

    Michigan's Isle Royale certainly isn't among America's most-visited national parks— by no means does it have crowds comparable to Yellowstone or Yosemite — but its superintendent, Phyllis Green, told CBS News that it does, however, have "one of the highest repeat-visitor rates."

    A park highlight, Mount Ojibway looks out over the rugged island and surrounding Lake Superior. The lakeside escape offers quiet camping, kayaking, and multi-day hikes.



    Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

    More than 4 million people flock to the Rocky Mountains each year, according to the Denver Post, and Colorado's famed park will undoubtedly attract even bigger crowds around the holidays. The nearby Great Sand Dunes are a less congested alternative with views that are severely underrated.

    Here, visitors sandboard and sled down what the National Park Service calls the tallest dunes on the continent against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks. The mother of all sandbanks, Star Dune, is 750 feet and takes the average person an hour to ascend.



    Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

    Kentucky is keeping a big secret: it's home to the longest known cave system on the continent. So far, more than 400 miles of this underground network have been explored, according to National Geographic, and even more of it remains uncharted. Mummified bodies, ancient artifacts, and thousands-of-years-old petroglyphs have been found in Mammoth Cave, ABC News reported. Visitors can also  see the limestone caverns by lamplight on one of the park's lantern tours.

     



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    California wildfire

    • Many people have used Instagram to post photos of the devastating wildfires in Northern and Southern California, which have left at least 84 people dead.
    • Many Instagram influencers have used hashtags related to the event to promote unrelated products.
    • Using keywords or hashtags related to breaking news events to gain views is not a totally new phenomenon.

    A slew of Instagram influencers are using the devastating California wildfires to promote products and make money.

    Multiple users have been referencing the wildfires in Northern and Southern California or using related hashtags to post unrelated photos of themselves, and tagging their posts with brands they are sponsoring.

    Photos of the fires' devastating aftermath, which can be found under hashtags including #californiafires, #woolseyfire, and #malibufires, all appear alongside ads for various products.

    Read more:A day in Chico, California: Photos show how survivors are helping each other cope and keep warm after their harrowing escapes from the Camp Fire

    Malibu, we love you and we will heal 💙🌍 Wearing: @ymijeans Location: Malibu #californiagirl #malibulove #strongwomen

    A post shared by Jayde Nicole (@jaydenicole) on Nov 14, 2018 at 9:51am PST on

    "Like and Subscribe," a TV show that parodies influencers, and BuzzFeed both pointed out the phenomenon this week.

    For example, @destinationvine, a company that offers private wine country tours in California, posted a photo of a bottle of wine to promote "Wine Wednesday," while using the #malibufire tag.

    Skincare company @veridattacollection also posted a caption alongside the #malibufire tag saying that the "Malibu fires were life chaging for me," while linking to a photographer and the company's brand account in the post.

    @_earn_with_emily, an account dedicated to bitcoin, used 19 hashtags containing the word "california"— including #californiafires, #californahighwaypatrol, and #californiatattoos — to advertise bitcoin mining in a Thursday post.

    Using trending hashtags to promote products is not a new phenomenon. Many people on platforms like Twitter and Instagram have used keywords and hashtags related to breaking news events — like terror attacks — to sell their products and post unrelated content in the past.

    This is called "keyword squatting," BuzzFeed reported, citing researcher Joan Donovan. It "in a sense is free marketing," Donovan said. "If you’re selling a product beyond just yourself, it could translate into cash."

    Business Insider has contacted Instagram for comment.

    The death toll from the Camp Fire in Northern California, and the Woolsey Fire in Southern California, rose to 84 on Wednesday night. Around 990 people remain missing.

    Read more:'I was sitting in my car just screaming, waiting to die': A survivor of California's Camp Fire describes her harrowing escape

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    smart home voice assistant benefits

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

    Generation Z, also known as iGen or Centennials, is arguably the most pivotal generation to the future of retail. By 2026, the majority of Gen Zers will reach adulthood, and their spending power will reach new heights. Retailers and brands need to start establishing relationships with Gen Zers now to ensure success in the years to come. 

    But Gen Zers, who we define as those born between 1996 and 2010, are different from older generations, and understanding their characteristics and preferences is essential to capturing their attention — and their dollars. Though members of older generations have grown accustomed to using the internet, Gen Zers are the first consumers to have grown up wholly in the digital era. They're tech-savvy, heavy internet users, and mobile-first — and, most importantly, they have high standards for how they spend their time online. Retailers and brands — which have spent more than a decade trying to catch up to millennials' interests and habits after ignoring them and the digital revolution for too long — must leverage Gen Z's tendency to be online at all times, and make sure to meet the generation's heightened digital expectations.

    In a new report, Business Insider Intelligence explores Gen Z's current shopping habits — both online and in-store — and how those habits might evolve over time. It looks at their spending power, both now and in the years to come, and the drivers that lead them to complete a purchase. It also assesses Gen Zers' unique traits, and the ways that retailers and brands can leverage those characteristics to make them loyal customers.

    Here are some key takeaways from the report:

    • Gen Zers are young and only beginning to flex their muscles as consumers, but they're already an extremely valuable generation to retailers and brands. They hold billions in spending power right now, which will skyrocket as they get older.
    • Gen Z currently likes shopping at physical stores, but retailers will need to capitalize on Gen Zers’ interests in retail innovations and their digital expertise to keep them coming back through adulthood.
    • These young consumers have higher expectations for their online shopping experiences than any generation before them. Most won’t use slow-loading websites and apps, or hard-to-navigate ones.
    • Quality is more likely to be a driver of loyalty for Gen Z, and it also provides motivation to complete a purchase. A retailer or brand trying to connect with Gen Z should look to curate an image of quality in a way that resonates with the young generation.

    In full, the report:

    • Explores the current and future spending power of Gen Z. 
    • Examines Gen Zers' interest in brick-and-mortar shopping, and identifies how retailers and brands can capitalize on it.
    • Provides insight into the generation's digital expectations, and analyzes what they mean for selling to Gen Zers online.
    • Discusses the influence of quality and social media on Gen Z's purchase behavior, and considers potential courses of action for retailers and brands.

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

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
    Access to all future reports and daily newsletters
    Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry
    And more!
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    Purchase & download the full report from our research store

     

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    sodastream

    The best part of moving in to your first apartment or home is getting to create a space that's all yours. Finding the perfect decor and picking out furniture is the exciting part, but after that comes all the expenses no recent grad or young professional wants to bare. A laundry hamper, pots and pans, bedding — these are just some of the distinctly un-fun, adult purchases they'll reluctantly need to make.

    Though you might be tempted to buy them some new decor for the walls, we recommend getting them some combination of the necessities they wish they didn't have to spend their own money on, and the little luxuries that can make life infinitely better. Read on to see our picks for what they'll really want this holiday season.

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    Looking for Black Friday deals? We've rounded up the best Black Friday sales by store and product-specific deals on the internet.

    SEE ALSO: 23 tactful gifts for your in-laws that'll make a great impression during the holidays

    DON'T MISS: 34 cool stocking stuffers you can get on Amazon for under $20

    A gift card to buy the best set of sheets they’ve ever slept on

    Brooklinen Gift Card, from $50

    Our senior editor calls Brooklinen's sheets one of the best purchases she's ever made, and many of us at Insider Picks feel the same way. They'll be able to choose from quite a few weaves/materials as well as a huge selection of fun prints and colors. A basic full set costs around $130, for reference.



    A personalized trinket tray for all their odds and ends

    McLaughlin Glazeware Initial Tray, available at Nordstrom, $39

    Catch-all trays are the kind of gift that may seem underwhelming until they realize how useful they are. That was certainly the case when I was gifted one after college. Now I have a few of them around my apartment — one for keys and sunglasses by the door, one for my rings and jewelry by the bed, and another in the living room for lip balm, candle matches, and other small items. 



    A robot vacuum that makes quick work of chores

    Eufy RoboVac 11S, available on Amazon, $219.99

    Vacuuming is one of the great time-sucks in life — literally. Give them back their Sunday afternoons with the gift of a robot vacuum that'll take the work out of cleaning the house. On a personal note, I can't recommend this one enough. You can read a more thorough review of it here.

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    nintendo switch

    • Nintendo won't be offering any major deals on the Nintendo Switch, even though the video game console is likely to be one of the most searched-for items this holiday season.
    • The company's best Black Friday deal is a new bundle, which includes the console and a copy of "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe" for $300. A new Switch console is usually $300 alone, so the deal is essentially for a free copy of "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe," which normally sells for $60.
    • Some stores, like GameStop and Kohl's, are offering additional cash back with the purchase of a new Switch — but those are limited to Black Friday doorbuster deals, so be advised.
    • Nintendo also sells refurbished Switch consoles year-round for $275, a slight discount.

    For the second year in a row, the Nintendo Switch is expected to be one of the most sought-after tech gifts of the holiday season — but Nintendo still isn't ready to start offering deep discounts on its newest video game console.

    For Black Friday 2018, Nintendo is offering a new Switch bundle with the console and a copy of "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe" for $300. The deal essentially offers the Switch at its regular price of $300 and adds a free game, which would normally cost $60. For most Switch shoppers, this will be your best bet.

    That's not a bad deal. But the main competitors to the Switch, the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, will be on sale for $200 with a free game during the holidays. For $200, you can get a PlayStation 4 console with the sensational "Marvel's Spider-Man" or an Xbox One S console bundled with "Minecraft" and some extras. Those bundles are available now.

    Nintendo is known for its reluctance to drop prices. But after a relatively slow year for the Switch, which didn't see many big-ticket exclusive releases, a juicier Black Friday sale could've perhaps brought even more attention to the young console in the holiday season.

    Of note: Nintendo is also offering a $360 bundle consisting of the Switch console as well as copies of "Mario Tennis Aces" and the party-game oddity "1-2-Switch." Given that the console is $300, "Mario Tennis Aces" is $60, and "1-2-Switch" is $40 or so, it's a decent deal — but by most reports, "1-2-Switch" isn't necessarily worth your time.

    Nintendo doesn't appear to be offering sale prices for any of its first-party Switch games either, including best-selling titles from last year like "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" and "Super Mario Odyssey." That said, Nintendo is known to introduce last-second sales on digital-download games on Black Friday itself, so stay tuned.

    Read more:The Nintendo Switch is having a surprisingly weak 2nd year

    For those still interested in buying a Switch, GameStop and Kohl's are offering some additional cash-back sweeteners on new Switch bundles purchased only on Black Friday — so get ready to brave the crowds if you want these offers.

    GameStop is offering a $50 gift card with a purchase of the "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe" bundle, which is almost enough for a second game. Kohl's is selling the Nintendo Switch on its own with a Turtle Beach headset and carrying case for $329, with $90 in Kohl's Cash as a bonus. The Kohl's Cash functions as a gift card but cannot be used on the same day of the purchase, making it a good deal for the frequent Kohl's shopper.

    If you're willing to buy a used system, Nintendo offers refurbished Switch consoles for $275, plus shipping. Refurbished Switch consoles come with a guarantee from Nintendo and carry a one-year manufacturer's warranty. One Business Insider reporter, Antonio Villas-Boas, ordered a refurbished Switch in September and was thoroughly satisfied with his experience.

    SEE ALSO: I bought a used Nintendo Switch console that was refurbished by Nintendo, and I'm happy I didn't buy it new

    Join the conversation about this story »

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