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    bridesmaids airplane

    • There are lots of steps that go into getting on a plane.
    • Lots of things can happen between the departures gates and boarding the plane.
    • Airplane employees share what they have seen.

    The airport can be an adventure even when you're just flying. But from going through airport security to boarding, the employees who work in the airport have really seen everything (and sometimes even documented their experiences).

    We took to Reddit to find out some of the weirdest things airport employees have seen while on the clock. Although INSIDER cannot independently verify these claims, these stories are still highly amusing to read.

    "There was a man sitting on a bench out front, with an apocalyptic-looking storm bearing down on us, wind whipping everywhere, just soulfully playing the trombone."

    "I work at my local airport (I live on a tiny island and this airport is smaller than our library), and just last summer we had a hurricane looming down on us. Everyone is getting packed up to evacuate, we're renting cars like crazy to people fleeing and we're trying to get them out of the storm area. No idea where he came from or what he was doing but it was surreal. Like something out of a David Lynch film.

    "I was out checking on the cars we had and when I walked back up there was a man sitting on a bench out front, with an apocalyptic-looking storm bearing down on us, wind whipping everywhere, just soulfully playing the trombone." - DomLite

    "Rolled in place for maybe a minute before someone shut the thing off."

    "Watched an older woman tumble down the 'up' escalator. Every time she flipped over she yelled 'I'm OK' like Filburt from Rocko's Modern Life. Flop. 'I'm OK.' Flop. 'I'm OK.' Flop. 'I'm OK.' Rolled in place for maybe a minute before someone shut the thing off." - Streder

    "She exclaimed, 'My bloody brother, I'll kill him!'"

    "A school friend's father worked on Passport Control in the mid-'80s. In those days passports were often handwritten and had spaces for things like 'distinguishing features.' One day a young woman presented her passport to him, and he opened it and compared the photo... and then paused before saying, 'This is a bit unusual.' He showed her the open passport which read in part: 'Distinguishing Features: BIG T---.' She exclaimed, 'My bloody brother, I'll kill him!'" - Flupsy

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The App Marketplace

    In an increasingly digitized world, brick-and-mortar retailers are facing immense pressure to understand and accommodate their customers’ changing needs, including at the point of sale (POS). 

    More than two years after the EMV liability shift in October 2015, most large merchants globally have upgraded their payment systems. And beyond upgrading to meet new standards, many major retailers are adopting full-feature, “smart” devices — and supplementing them with valuable tools and services — to help them better engage customers and build loyalty.

    But POS solutions aren’t “one size fits all.” Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) don't usually have the same capabilities as larger merchants, which often have the resources and funds to adopt robust solutions or develop them in-house. That's where app marketplaces come in: POS app marketplaces are platforms, typically deployed by POS providers, where developers can host third-party business apps that offer back-office services, like accounting and inventory, and customer-retention tools, like loyalty programs and coupons.

    SMBs' growing needs present a huge opportunity for POS terminal providers, software providers, and resellers. The US counts roughly 8 million SMBs, or 99.7% of all businesses. Until now, constraints such as time and budget have made it difficult for SMBs to implement value-added services that meet their unique needs. But app marketplaces enable providers to cater to SMBs with specialized solutions. 

    App marketplaces also alleviate some of the issues associated with the overcrowded payments space. Relatively new players that have effectively leveraged the rise of the digital economy, like mPOS firm Square, are increasingly encroaching on the payments industry, putting pricing pressure on payment hardware and service giants. This has diminished client loyalty as merchants seek out the most affordable solution, and it's resulted in lost revenue for providers. However, app marketplaces can be used as tools not only to build client loyalty, but also as a revenue booster — Verifone, for instance, charges developers 30% of net revenue for each installed app and a distribution fee for each free app.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence looks at the drivers of POS app marketplaces and the legacy and challenger firms that are supplying them. The report also highlights the strategies these providers are employing, and the ways that they can capitalize on the emergence of this new market. Finally, it looks to the future of POS app marketplaces, and how they may evolve moving forward.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • SMBs are a massive force in the US, which makes understanding their needs a necessity for POS terminal providers, software providers, and resellers — the US counts roughly 8 million SMBs, or 99.7% of all businesses.
    • The entrance of new challengers into the payment space has put pricing pressure on the entire industry, forcing all of the players in the industry to find new solutions to keep customers loyal while also gaining a new revenue source.
    • Major firms in the industry, like Verifone and Ingenico, have turned to value-added services, specifically app marketplaces, to not only build loyalty but also giving them a new revenue source — Verifone charges developers 30% of net revenue for each installed app and a distribution fee for each free app.
    • According to a recent survey by Intuit, 68% of SMBs stated that they use an average of four apps to run their businesses. As developers flock to the space to grab a piece of the pie, it's likely that increased competition will lead to robust, revenue-generating marketplaces.
    • And there are plenty of opportunities to build out app marketplace capabilities, such as in-person training, to further engage with users — 66% of app users would hire someone to train and educate them on which apps are right for their businesses. 

    In full, the report:

    • Identifies the factors that have changed how SMBs are choosing payment providers.  
    • Discusses why firms in the payments industry have started to introduce app marketplaces over the last four years.
    • Analyzes some of the most popular app marketplaces in the industry and identifies the strengths of each.
    • Breaks down the concerns merchants have relating to app marketplaces, and discusses how providers can solve these issues.
    • Explores what app marketplace providers will have to do going forward in order to avoid being outperformed in an industry that's becoming increasingly saturated. 

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

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

    Purchase & download the full report from our research store


    Join the conversation about this story »

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    • During the government shutdown, essential personnel are exempt from the furlough — so in theory, anyone preventing cybersecurity calamities is still showing up for work.
    • But experts believe the loss of support staff makes the cybersecurity effects of a shutdown bad in the short term and worse in the long term.

    The government is on hiatus. Enemies of the United States are not.

    Why it matters: During the government shutdown, essential personnel are exempt from the furlough — so in theory, anyone preventing cybersecurity calamities is still showing up for work. But experts believe the loss of support staff makes the cybersecurity effects of a shutdown bad in the short term and worse in the long term.

    The fallout: Consider the difficulty of maintaining security in government networks before a government shutdown. Now try doing that with fewer people.

    • "Defending federal networks is already an act of triage, due to personnel shortages, legacy IT overhang, uneven risk management practices and a hostile threat environment. Furloughs make a hard job even harder," said Andrew Grotto, a former White House cybersecurity adviser for Presidents Obama and Trump and a current employee of Stanford's Hoover Institution.
    • While critical personnel are still on duty during a shutdown, he added, "What that means as a practical matter is that these people have to do even more than usual."

    Those problems will stick around after the shutdown. It's likely, say multiple former federal employees Codebook spoke to, that federal networks will fall behind on basic hygiene tasks.

    • "Government shutdowns tend to affect support activities disproportionately, such as hiring or vetting contracts. Thus, over time, personnel slots will go unfilled and contracts will expire, making it difficult to sustain the workforce or upgrade equipment," noted Michael Daniel, former White House cybersecurity coordinator and current president and CEO of the industry group Cyber Threat Alliance.

    In the long term, this could do irreparable damage to the federal government's ability to hire cybersecurity talent.

    • The unemployment rate for trained cybersecurity personnel is famously at 0%, the private sector pays better and the only advantage the government has in hiring is the importance of the work and the gratitude of a nation.
    • Willingness to shutter the government doesn't speak too highly to the perceived value of the job or its employees.

    Departments devoted to cybersecurity policies will grind to a halt.

    • The National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is developing a widely awaited privacy framework, is seeing its staff reduce to 49 out of its normal cohort of roughly 3,000 employees.
    • The Department of Homeland Security's newly christened Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will be without a substantial amount of support staff. By DHS' tally, 43% of the workforce — over 1,500 employees — are furloughed.

    Security-related investigations and prosecutions at the FBI and Department of Justice will continue with all employees carried over.

    The bottom line: Furloughing cybersecurity staff creates both short-term and long-term vulnerabilities.

    • "Cyber threats don’t operate on Washington’s political timetable, and they don’t stop because of a shutdown," said Lisa Monaco, former assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: MSNBC host Chris Hayes thinks President Trump's stance on China is 'not at all crazy'

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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.

    pvolve fitness 3

    • There's more than one way to tone and strengthen your arms, legs, and core. 
    • For adherents of the P.volve way of working out, small but deliberate movements are key. They're low-impact, precise, and unexpectedly effective. 
    • Two pieces of fitness equipment that encourage and facilitate these movements are the P.ball ($59.99) and the ($29.99). 
    • They both use resistance to target and activate those hard-to-hit muscles, delivering a slow and steady burn. 

    Ah, 2019. Another year, another set of resolutions dedicated to working out more and getting into shape. "This year will be different — really," you tell yourself. But if you're forcing yourself to lift, go to spin classes, or do HIIT exercises even when you already know you hate these types of heavy or high-intensity workouts, your motivation is probably going to wane by February. 

    Stephen Pasterino, the fitness studio founder who's best known for training Victoria's Secret models, believes you don't have to torture yourself to see and feel results. Instead, with his P.volve method and fitness products, you can tone and strengthen your body through precise, minuscule movements.

    Devoid of burpees, bicep curls, and back-breaking exercises, the P.volve way of working out doesn't look like it takes a lot of effort — until you feel the unmistakable burn in your arms and legs just a few reps in. 

    I was curious about the efficacy of these low-impact workouts and open to giving my joints a break, so I took a P.volve class that made use of two fitness accessories, the P.ball ($59.99) and the ($29.99). I also brought the two home to work out with on my own. 

    pvolve fitness

    The P.ball is basically a small inflated ball-resistance band combination that slips between your thighs for a somewhat unnatural but not uncomfortable configuration. By squatting, squeezing, and turning, you target and engage your thighs, butt, and abs in new ways your body probably isn't used to. Though the movements are small, the effect — a slow, steady, and searing burn — is not. Because I usually associate being sore with higher-intensity workouts, I was pleasantly surprised to feel the familiar pangs of soreness in my core, legs, and arms following the one hour workout with the P.ball and the 

    The is similar to a resistance band, with a glove-like design so you can leave your fingers free (as opposed to gripping a resistance band the whole time). My arms are on the weaker side and I've always had difficulty strengthening and defining them, so I really felt the burn. The exposed me to arm muscles I didn't even realize I had, and I found it especially effective for the tricky triceps. 

    pvolve fitness 2

    The great thing about these two pieces of fitness equipment is that you don't have to move to New York City and visit the P.volve studio in order to experience their benefits. They're perfect for at-home workouts and those days when you can't or don't want to go to your gym to exercise. Take it from someone whose YouTube search history is frequently dominated by variations of "easy apartment workouts." The low-impact, small-movement P.ball and are ideal for tiny bedrooms and ongoing friendly relations with the neighbors living right below you. 

    P.volve's YouTube channel contains some workouts for the P.ball and, and the products also include a free 15-day all access pass to P.volve's online streaming site, which holds more than 150 workouts. There are tons of variations to explore with these accessories, plus the two can be used at the same time. 

    If you're searching for a new way to strengthen and tone your muscles, you should try the P.ball and for unexpectedly effective results. They're available for purchase separately or bundled in the Premium P.volve Kit for a slight discount. 

    Shop the P.ball for $59.99 at P.volve here

    Shop the for $29.99 at P.volve here

    Shop the Premium P.volve Kit for $79.99 at P.volve here

    Read more about the products and services that will help you keep your 2019 fitness resolutions: 

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    This is a preview of The Digital Media Forecast Book from Business Insider Intelligence. Current subscribers can read the report here.

    Media consumption has changed rapidly over the past decade, with digital increasingly claiming a larger share of the daily time spent with media. Increased mobile usage is driving much of the growth in digital time spent, as smartphones become more powerful and capable of handling tasks otherwise completed on desktop.

    Digital Media Forecast Book 2018

    Meanwhile, cord-cutting and cord-shaving will continue as consumers seek more affordable alternatives to traditional pay-TV. Marketers need to understand the underlying consumer trends that are driving billions of dollars in global advertising, and how those behaviors are likely to play out in the near term.

    In this three-part forecast book, Business Insider Intelligence forecasts how much time users spend consuming each format as we approach peak media, and how those changes reflect how advertising dollars are spent globally and in the US.


    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Lindsey Graham

    • Senators are concerned about statements made by William Barr, President Donald Trump's nominee to be the next attorney general.
    • Republicans have expressed fears that it could divulge into a "character assassination" if they do not like the nominee.
    • Democrats are not ready to call for Barr's recusal from the special counsel investigation headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, but want assurances from him that he will not intervene.

    WASHINGTON — Despite the federal government continuing under a partial government shutdown, the Senate Judiciary Committee is moving forward with the confirmation hearing for William Barr to serve as attorney general.

    Democrats on the committee have deep concerns about his views on presidential authority and the way he would run the Justice Department, while Republicans are bracing for tense, partisan hearings like they saw during the confirmation process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

    Read more: Meet William Barr: What you need to know about the possible once and future attorney general

    Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, has drawn outrage and concern from Democrats looking to protect the special counsel investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential campaign. Barr sent an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department calling the special counsel probe "legally unsupportable" and "potentially disastrous."

    "As I understand it, his theory is premised on a novel and legally insupportable reading of the law," Barr wrote. "Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction."

    Democrats on the committee told INSIDER that Barr's attitudes toward the special counsel, which is being led by the former FBI Director Robert Mueller, is of the utmost priority.

    "I would be very interested in his views on the independence of the Mueller investigation, whether or not he will protect it," Delaware Sen. Chris Coons said. "He has made some statements in the past that give me some concern."

    Coons, who is one of the coauthors of a bill that would put barriers in place to prevent the White House from dismantling the special counsel, added that he plans to discuss Mueller's investigation with Barr in private and again in the public confirmation hearing.

    Whether Barr should recuse himself from oversight of the Mueller probe, Coons said he was not yet sure that would be necessary, but would have to receive commitments before making a decision.

    "I mean I think were he to announce that he intended to leave it in its current structure where it is being supervised very ably by Rod Rosenstein, that would be met with fairly broad enthusiasm," Coons said.

    Colleagues of Coons, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Richard Blumenthal, also listed Barr's position on the special counsel as a top priority, as well his views on executive power as a whole.

    "High on the list [of concerns] is an absolute ironclad assurance and commitment that there will be no interference in the special counsel investigation, including prompt and complete approval of subpoenas, other investigative tools, and any indictments that are returned by the grand jury," Blumenthal told INSIDER.

    Republicans want the confirmation hearing to remain civil

    Senate Republicans are clearly scarred from what became one of the most tense processes in years during the Kavanaugh confirmation.

    "I guess the question we all have is this going to be Kavanaugh 2.0 where it’s really not about searching for the truth — it’s more about character assassination," Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told reporters on Tuesday. "I’m an optimist by nature, so I can hope for the best but we’ll have to wait and see."

    Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he is doing what he can "to make sure that our Democratic friends have information relevant to voting for or against Mr. Barr," but cautioned against things getting out of hand.

    Graham, who himself launched a fierce tirade during the Kavanaugh hearing to excoriate Democrats he saw as politicizing the process, now will have to walk a more fine line. In the 116th Congress, he is taking over the gavel as the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee and maintain order in tense hearings.

    "I expect him to be challenged and appropriately challenge him about his memo and other things," Graham said. "I just hope it’s done respectfully. I’m trying to set a tone where we can have our differences and move forward."

    SEE ALSO: Why Democratic contenders for the 2020 presidential nomination are turning to Instagram Live to connect with voters

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: MSNBC host Chris Hayes thinks President Trump's stance on China is 'not at all crazy'

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    Tim Cook on CNBC

    • Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared on "Mad Money" with Jim Cramer to talk about the future of the company amid the company's big stock slump. 
    • Twice, Cook repeated the phrase "it just works"— one of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs' favorite sayings. The "it just works" mantra has fallen out of fashion under Cook, though. 
    • Cook could have used it as a deliberate callback to the Jobs era — a reminder that Apple's biggest advantage is that it makes high-end products that all work closely together.
    • In that sense, it could be a subtle call to investors to renew their confidence in the company. 

    Apple stock has been on a massive slide— first, it told investors that it wouldn't disclose how many iPhones it sold, then a few months revised its own sales target down by at least $5 billion, citing issues with China and a slower iPhone upgrade cycle. All told, Apple is down over 30% since its peak in October. 

    That's why Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared on Jim Cramer's show "Mad Money" on CNBC on Tuesday: to ease investor fears and perhaps ease the slump. 

    In the interview, Cook repeated a phrase that longtime Apple fans haven't heard in a while: "It just works."

    Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs used to use that phrase a lot to explain why consumers seemed to prefer Apple products. However, since Cook took the reins at Apple, the phrase has fallen out of fashion with company officials. 

    Cook repeated it twice in his interview with Cramer. 

    "This team is unbelievable in creating hardware and software and services and getting them all to work together," Cook told Cramer. "It just works."

    Then, when discussing AirPods, Apple's popular wireless earbuds, he repeated it again. 

    "AirPods are becoming ubiquitous out there. People love them. I get notes every day. They’re chock full of technology. But they just work," Cook said. 

    Cook also addressed Apple's struggles in China, the reported slow sales of the new iPhone XR model, and Apple's efforts to sell online services to its users. 

    "Bologna. I call bologna on that," Cook said in response to a question over whether the iPhone XR is a flop. "Let me tell you how I view this. Here’s the truth, what the facts are. Since we began shipping the iPhone XR, it has been the most-popular iPhone every day, every single day, from when we started shipping, until now," Cook said. 

    "When I look at the long-term health of the company, it has never been better. The product pipeline has never been better. The ecosystem has never been stronger. The services are on a tear," Cook continued. 

    But for all of Cook's defenses of Apple's current business strategy during the 20-minute interview, his callback to an important phrase in Apple history may speak the loudest.

    After all, it was during the Jobs era that Apple gained its reputation for making premium products, and it highlighted Cook's main point during the interview — that Apple is continuing to make great products, and that the stock price and other issues facing the company are short-term problems. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How Apple went from a $1 trillion company to losing over 20% of its share price in 3 months

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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.

    mobile banking features

    In recent years, we've seen a ballooning of activity in fintech — an expansive term applied to technology-driven disruptions in financial services. And 2018 has been no different, with fintechs' staggering influence on the market evidenced by record funding levels for the industry — by Q3 2018, overall funding was already up 82% from 2017’s total figure, according to CB Insights.

    Additionally, this year marked a watershed moment for the industry, with the once clear distinction between fintechs and financial services proper now blurred significantly. Virtually every incumbent financial institution (FI) is now looking inward and engaging in an innovation drive, spurred on by competition from fintechs. As such, incumbents are now actively investing in, acquiring, and collaborating with their fintech rivals.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence details recent developments in fintech funding and regulation that are defining the environment these startups operate in. We also examine the business model changes being employed among different categories of fintechs as they strive to embed themselves further in mainstream finance and prove sustainability. Finally, we consider which elements of the fintech industry are rapidly rubbing off on incumbent financial services providers, and what the future of fintech will look like.

    The companies mentioned in this report are: Funding Circle, GreenSky, Transferwise, Ant Financial, Nubank, Cellulant, Oscar Health, Stripe, One97, UiPath, LianLian Pay,, Gusto, Toast, PingPong, Flywire, Deposit Solutions, Root, Robinhood, Atom, N26, Revolut, OneConnect, PolicyBazaar, WeCash, Zurich, OneDegree, Dinghy, Vouch Insurance, Laka, Cleo, Ernit, Monzo, Moneybox, Bud, Tandem, Starling, Varo Money, Square, ING, Chase, AmEx, Amazon, Monese, Betterment, Tiller Investments, West Hill Capital, Square, Ameritrade, JPMorgan, eToro, Lendy, OnDeck, Ripple, Quorom, Chain, Coinbase, Fidelity, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Bank of America, TransferGo, Klarna, Western Union, Veriff, Royal Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Canada, Facebook, ThreatMetrix, Relx, Entersekt, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Gemalto, Lloyd's of London, Kingdom Trust, Aviva, Symbility LINK, eTrade, Allianz, AXA, Broadridge, TD Bank, First Republic Bank, BBVA Compass, Capital One, Silicon Valley Bank, Credit Suisse, Ally, Goldman Sachs.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • Fintech funding has already reached new highs globally in 2018, with overall funding hitting $32.6 billion at the end of Q3.
    • Some new regions, including South America and Africa, are emerging on the fintech scene.
    • We've seen considerable scaling in older corners of the fintech ecosystem, including among neobanks and alt lenders.
    • Some fintechs, including a number of insurtechs, have dipped into new markets to escape heightened competition.
    • Emergent areas like blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT), as well as digital identity, are gaining traction.
    • Many incumbents are undertaking business transformations that aim to reimagine everything from products and services to front-end systems and back-end processes.

     In full, the report:

    • Details the funding and regulatory landscape in the US, Europe, and Asia.
    • Gives an overview into a number of fintech segments and how they've changed over the past year.
    • Discusses how incumbents are reacting to fintechs in order to stay relevant in the changing financial services sector.
    • Evaluates what the future of fintech will look like and what trends to look out for in the coming year.

    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


    SEE ALSO: How the largest US financial institutions rank on offering the mobile banking features customers value most

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    tesla fremont factory

    • A senior director of engineering at Tesla's Fremont, California, factory has left the company after six years.
    • His exit is the latest in a string of high-level departures from the company over the last year.

    Another senior director has left Tesla.

    Charles Mwangi, a senior director of engineering at Tesla's Fremont, California, factory, is leaving the company for a stealth startup. He announced his departure over LinkedIn and called his experience at Tesla "one of the most enriching and fulfilling experiences" of his life.

    "To my Tesla colleagues. It is amazing how much progress we’ve made. It has been a grueling journey, but definitely one worth making. I will continue cheering you on from the sidelines. Your success is truly the World’s success," he wrote.

    Mwangi worked at both Nissan and Toyota before joining Tesla in 2012. He earned the title of senior director of engineering in August 2018, and he was responsible for body manufacturing engineering, body equipment controls and maintenance engineering, stamping manufacturing and engineering, and Tesla Tool and Die.

    Mwangi's exit is latest in a string of high-level departures from the company since September. In December, Aaron Chew, Tesla's investor-relations director, left the company, following Dan Kim, senior director of global sales, marketing, and delivery; Jeff Jones, head of global security; Antoin Abou-Haydar, senior director of production and quality; Gabrielle Toledano, head of human resources; Dave Morton, chief accountant; Sarah O'Brien, head of communications (her departure was announced in August, but her final day at the company was September 7, according to Bloomberg); Liam O'Connor, vice president of global supply management; Justin McAnear, vice president of worldwide finance and operations; and Phil Rothenberg, legal vice president.

    (You can check out a comprehensive list of Tesla departures here.)

    Tesla had not yet responded to Business Insider's request for comment at the time of this post's publication.

    Have a Tesla news tip? Contact this reporter at

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What it's like to win the Gumball 3000 where drivers party until 2 am every night and drive 3,000 miles in 7 days

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    ebt snap food stamps

    • The government shutdown is in its 18th day and there is no end in sight.
    • The US Department of Agriculture will still send out Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, benefits for January and February despite the shutdown.
    • The USDA's Child Nutrition Programs will also be funded into February, but it is unclear what will happen if the shutdown continues after that.
    • Other food programs such as Commodity Supplemental Food Program and WIC will not receive federal funding during the shutdown, but may continue using state and local funds.

    With no sign of ending anytime soon, the government shutdown is starting to take its toll on federal services and workers. But for recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, there is some good news — for now.

    According to a plan released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), SNAP benefits will be available during the start of the shutdown as previously appropriated funding is carried over to meet the needs of the program.

    In the initial USDA release about the shutdown, the department said SNAP benefits for January would be available but there was no commitment for February. In a call with reporters on Tuesday, the USDA announced that the department will send money for February's benefits to states that administer the program.

    USDA officials could not commit to providing SNAP benefits in March.

    But, given the fact that President Donald Trump threatened to shut the government down for "months or even years" during a meeting with congressional leaders on Friday, the uncertainty of SNAP benefits beyond February could become a problem if the shutdown continues for a historic amount of time.

    Funding for the USDA's Child Nutrition Programs including "School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk" will also continue into February, according to the USDA's plan.

    Read more:Here's what happens to Social Security and disability benefits during a government shutdown»

    But while SNAP and the Child Nutrition Program are safe for now, other food programs under the USDA's purview are not as lucky.

    Also, other non-SNAP domestic food programs are no longer receiving federal funding, but may be sustained through state and local funding. The programs that are no longer receiving USDA funds include the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, a program focusing on low income seniors; The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.

    95% the staff at the office of Food and Nutrition Services— which oversees SNAP benefits and other food programs — is now on furlough and no longer receiving pay.

    In addition to the food programs, other essential USDA duties including the inspection of eggs, dairy, and other food products will continue. Those services deemed non-essential, such as research or the staffing of some national forests, are discontinued.

    The shutdown is now in its 18th day and there is no clear end in sight. Trump administration officials and congressional leaders met over the weekend, but it's unclear if any real progress has been made.

    SEE ALSO: Most Americans would rather spend the $5 billion Trump is demanding for the border wall on infrastructure, education, or healthcare

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: MSNBC host Chris Hayes thinks President Trump's stance on China is 'not at all crazy'

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

    Why Amazon First

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

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

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

    In full, the study:

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

    First, why is Amazon so popular?

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

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

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

    Who exactly is shopping on Amazon?

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

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

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

    Want to learn more?

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

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

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    Nissan LEAF e+ 2019

    • The 2019 Nissan Leaf e+ EV made its world debut at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. 
    • The Leaf e+ can go 226 miles on a single thanks to a larger 62 kWh battery pack.
    • This puts its performance on par with rivals such as the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3.
    • The 2019 Nissan Leaf e+ arrives in US showrooms this spring. 

    Nissan introduced the new Leaf e+ electric vehicle at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, in Las Vegas. 

    The new Leaf e+ is an update of the second-generation Leaf that debuted in 2017 and remedies the EV's biggest flaw: its lack of range. 

    In Business Insider's 2018 review of the Leaf, we noted:

    "The new Leaf is a solid second effort from Nissan. However, there remains one glaring fault with the Leaf, and it's the range. At 151 miles, it's certainly a major improvement over the outgoing model. But range anxiety is still a problem, and anything less than 200 miles on a single charge is no longer competitive." 

    The original Nissan Leaf launched back in 2010, and in the years since, it has become one of the most popular EVs in history, with more than 380,000 cars sold. 

    Nissan Leaf e+But with long-range EVs such as the 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt and the 310-mile Tesla Model 3, the 151-mile second-generation Leaf is no longer at the forefront of the industry.

    Enter the Leaf e+ and its 226 miles of range.

    Read more: Mercedes-Benz just unveiled the stylish new CLA coupe to take on BMW and Audi.

    To achieve this, Nissan replaced the current 40 kWh battery with a much larger 62 kWh pack. In addition, the existing 147 horsepower, 110 kW electric motor has been swapped out for a 160 kW unit that produces 215 horsepower and 250 pounds-feet of torque. According to Nissan, this results in a 13% improvement in the Leaf's 50 mph to 75 mph acceleration time. 

    Nissan Leaf e+ 2019In addition to a new drivetrain, the Leaf e+ will get the latest in Nissan's ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous assistance technology. 

    The 2019 Nissan Leaf e+ will go on sale in Japan this month, but it won't arrive in the US until this spring, and in Europe a couple of months after that. 

    Nissan has not yet announced pricing for the Leaf e+. The current 151-mile Nissan Leaf starts at $29,990. 

    SEE ALSO: 40 hot cars we can't wait to see in 2019

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    NOW WATCH: These bespoke metal cars take 2,000 hours to make by hand — see the step-by-step process

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    Los Angeles Valiant Fans Overwatch League

    • "Overwatch" is one of the most successful esports titles in the world, with the Overwatch League and other events supporting more than 200 professional players 
    • At the start of the year, a player using the name "Ellie" was added to the roster of a semi-professional team but quickly raised the suspicion and ire of male players. 
    • Skeptical "Overwatch" fans questioned whether Ellie was given preferential treatment for being a woman; some demanded that her identity be made public and threatened to find and release her personal information.
    • It turns out, Ellie wasn't a woman. And the incident underscores a disturbing problem within esports. 

    The rise of esports has given video game players a chance to turn their passion into a profession, but every once in a while there's an incident that shows just how immature the industry can be.

    For fans of the game"Overwatch," a recent controversy over a gamer posing as a woman has exposed an undercurrent of sexism that pervades the culture even as splashy corporate sponsorships and multi-million dollar prize purses have become the norm

    "Overwatch" is one of the world's most successful esports titles, and the Overwatch League is dominated by men. 

    That's why a player named Ellie attracted a lot of attention when she was added to the roster of a semi-professional "Overwatch" team called Second Wind a couple of weeks ago. Unlike the other players, Ellie's full name was not listed on Second Wind's website but her "Overwatch" account was known to be among the top ranked online. 

    Some gamers demanded to know Ellie's personal information

    Ellie's spot on the team seems to have been enough to raise the suspicion of her male rivals, who accused the Overwatch League of giving preferential treatment to a woman and questioned whether Ellie was in fact a woman. As time went on the tone of the demands grew more toxic, with some players threatening to find and release Ellie's personal information on their own.


    Some players and fans defended Ellie's right to privacy and accused the skeptics of targeting Ellie based on gender. But Ellie told Second Wind she would withdraw from the team due to the public reaction.

    This being esports however, that's not where the story ends. 

    It turns out that Ellie was not a woman after all.

    An investigation by Second Wind and several esports journalists determined that Ellie was a persona created by a male player using the tag "Punisher" online. "Punisher" was already known to be a top online "Overwatch" player and told friends that he convinced women to help him impersonate a female player as a "social experiment." Esports journalist Rod "Slasher" Breslau spoke to three women who said Punisher clued them into the scheme privately.

    Did the social experiment prove a point or make a bad situation worse?

    The goal of Ellie/Punisher's impersonation experiment is not entirely clear, and some worry that it may have actually provided more ammunition to skeptics who doubt the potential of female players.

    As a male-dominated industry, esports regularly faces an undercurrent of misogyny when men and women are competing with each other. Only a select few women are willing to compete within a culture that many would call toxic, and the climate surrounding Ellie and Geguri suggests that women will only face additional skepticism as they reach the top level of play.

    There is only one woman currently playing in the Overwatch League, the game's highest level of competition. Kim "Geguri" Se-yeon of the Shanghai Dragons was accused of cheating by multiple professional male players prior to her Overwatch League debut. She ultimately proved them wrong though, and three of her accusers retired.

    With only a few professional opportunities available for thousands of players, jealousy among the top ranks isn't too surprising, but the goal of esports should be to create a healthy, professional environment while preserving the spirit of competition. To avoid skepticism and toxicity, professional organizations need to practice proper due diligence and present their players in the best possible light.

    For women interested in esports, the scandal is another reminder that a portion of the community still refuses to believe that women can compete as professionals, and , they will always be playing to prove the doubters wrong.

    SEE ALSO: Eight teams paid more than $30 million each to join the Overwatch League – here's everything you need to know before the new season starts

    SEE ALSO: A 'Overwatch' hero was just revealed to be gay, and fans are freaking out

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: I'm a diehard iPhone user who switched to Android for a week — here's what I loved and hated about the Google Pixel 3 XL

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    microsoft demolition building 2

    • Microsoft began a planned demolition of some of the oldest buildings on its corporate campus in Redmond, Washington. 
    • The demolition is part of Microsoft's project to renovate its decades-old corporate campus.
    • 10 sledgehammer wielding Microsoft employees won the right to take the first swings at tearing down one of the old buildings.

    While Amazon and Apple ramp up to open major new campuses, Microsoft has opted instead to massively renovate and expand its 500-acre headquarters in Redmond, Washington to make room for 8,000 more employees.

    But to bring in the new, sometimes you have to wipe away a little of the old. That's why, on Tuesday, Microsoft took the first step towards demolishing some of the oldest office buildings on campus— starting with Building 1, first constructed in 1985, the same year that Microsoft moved in. Bill Gates even had an office in Building 1, for a time. 

    And it was a Microsoft employee who got to begin the demolition, too. Matthew Whilden— a senior software engineer who's been with Microsoft for 11 years, according to GeekWire— won an employee charity auction for the right to operate the crane that took the first swing at taking Building 1 down.

    Whilden and nine of his teammates, who also contributed to the auction, were then allowed to take to the nearby Building 2 with sledgehammers, tearing down walls as part of the demolition crew. Ultimately, a dozen of these older Microsoft buildings are slated for demolition in this project, including Building 4, where Gates kept a corner office for many years. The project will operate in waves over the next four to six years.

    matthew wilden microsoft building 1

    On the subject of Building 4, Gates' office overlooked a small, man-made pond that was affectionately dubbed Lake Bill by Microsofties. Lake Bill plays an important role in Microsoft lore— once, it was filled with blue ping pong balls to celebrate a new release of Windows; another time, a Microsoft exec took a swim in Lake Bill after Windows 95 hit key sales goals. I've been told by Microsoft previously that this renovation project will leave Lake Bill intact.

    Ultimately, Microsoft's renovation initiative will see 18 new buildings constructed, even as it tears down the old ones. It'll come with new open spaces, sports facilities, and walking trails. In fact, a set of treehouses for employee use have already opened as part of the initiative

    Microsoft Redmond campus renovation

    Even the buildings that survive the culling will see tremendous change: Microsoft is renovating its Redmond office spaces to have more common areas for employees to work, even as it continues rolling out a tweak to the open office formula that it calls "Neighborhoods." Buildings 16 and 17 on the Microsoft campus were the first to get the facelift.

    The new campus will have more materialistic benefits too, including expanded on-campus shopping, and, eventually, a rail link from Redmond to the heart of Seattle. 

    SEE ALSO: I visited the treehouses that Microsoft built for its employees to meet, work, and soak in the sun — take a look inside

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    NOW WATCH: China made an artificial star that's 6 times as hot as the sun, and it could be the future of energy

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    Kellyanne Conway

    • White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta got into a heated exchange, hours before President Donald Trump was expected to deliver his first prime-time address.
    • Acosta asked Conway if she believed Trump "will tell the truth" during his Tuesday night address to the nation.
    • Conway accused Acosta of seeking attention and described him as a "smart-ass."

    White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta got into a heated exchange at the White House on Tuesday, hours before President Donald Trump was scheduled to deliver his first prime-time address to the nation.

    "Can you promise that the president will tell the truth tonight? Will he tell the truth?" Acosta asked Conway, outside the White House grounds with a group of other reporters.

    "Yes Jim, and can you promise that you will?" Conway asked.

    Conway then interrupted Acosta's rebuttal.

    "And let me get back in your face because you're such a smart-ass most of the time," Conway said. "And I know you want this to go viral, a lot of these people don't like you."

    Read more: 'PRESIDENTIAL FAKE NEWS': CNN's Jim Acosta rails against Trump's hostility toward the press

    Acosta shares a well-documented history of incendiary interactions with Trump's various advisers, press secretaries, and counselors. The CNN correspondent routinely challenges the administration, and he has attracted both praise and condemnation in the process.

    Acosta's relationship with the White House hit a low point in November when it suspended his press pass after a particularly heated one-on-one exchange with Trump during a press conference.

    CNN filed a lawsuit in response, alleging its First Amendment rights were violated, and the White House reinstated Acosta's hard pass.

    Trump is scheduled to deliver his first prime-time address at 9:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, amid the ongoing partial government shutdown that is now on its 18th day. The president is expected to discuss the developments on the US-Mexico border, which he described as a "crisis."

    SEE ALSO: 'PRESIDENTIAL FAKE NEWS': CNN's Jim Acosta rails against Trump's hostility toward the press

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    NOW WATCH: MSNBC host Chris Hayes thinks President Trump's stance on China is 'not at all crazy'

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    Hyundai Motor Co car with legs

    • The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas features more than 4,400 exhibitors showcasing the very latest in gizmos, gadgets, and doodads.
    • This year, more than 180,000 people are attending CES. 
    • Some wacky technology has been on display thus far, including a Lamborghini-themed massage chair and cars with foldable legs. 

    The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the place where companies like LG, Samsung, and Sony show off their latest TVs, laptops, and other state-of-the-art high tech. 

    But it's also the place where some of the weirdest and wildest gadgetry gets its time in the spotlight. 

    Lamborghini-themed massage chairs, cars with foldable legs, and Roomba-like lawn mowers are just a few of the bizarre products seen thus far at the world's largest tech show. 

    Read more:Here's all the major tech we're expecting at CES 2019, the biggest tech convention of the year

    Things haven't quite escalated to the degree it hit last year, where a pole-dancing robot performed at a nearby gentleman's club. But you never know — CES doesn't end until Friday. 

    Here are the 17 wackiest photos from CES 2019 thus far: 

    LG unveils its futuristic Signature OLED TV that rolls-up with the press of a button.

    The Bodyfriend LBF-750 is a Lamborghini-themed massage chair.

    In John Deere's debut at CES, the company showcased its connected combine harvester that it describes as an "intelligent factory on wheels."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    donald trump border wall prototypes

    • President Donald Trump will take the national stage tonight to make his case for the construction of a wall at the US-Mexico border.
    • But such an enormous construction project would have significant impacts on the environment around the nation's southern border.
    • What's more, the Department of Homeland Security has already indicated that it will leverage a law that enables the government to expedite border infrastructure by waiving certain legal requirements, which would allow the project to sidestep dozens of environmental rules in California.
    • Here's how a border wall would impact the environment — from fauna to the flow of rivers.

    President Donald Trump will take the national stage tonight to make his case for the construction of a wall at the US-Mexico border. But experts say such an enormous construction project would have significant impacts on the environment around the nation's southern border.

    His live address from the Oval Office comes 18 days into a partial government shutdown, which is the result of a disagreement over funding for Trump's desired border wall. The shutdown has impacted nearly 800,000 federal employees (and caused garbage to pile up in national parks), but Trump has indicated that he won't end the shutdown until he secures $5 billion in funding for the wall.

    Trump most likely hopes that his national address and visit to the southwest will boost public support for a wall — despite the environmental impact.

    What's more, the Department of Homeland Security has already indicated that it will leverage a law that enables the government to expedite border infrastructure by waiving certain legal requirements, which would allow the project to sidestep dozens of environmental rules in California.

    Here's how a new border wall would wreak havoc on the environment.

    SEE ALSO: Park rangers share fears of unemployment as national parks overflow with garbage during the government shutdown

    Many species would face local extinction in the US if they couldn't travel back and forth between habitats and resources on either side of the border.

    The US-Mexico border is nearly 2,000 miles long and peppered with marshes, deserts, and grasslands. The construction of a continuous wall could therefore harm species who are, of course, not on the administration’s immigration radar.

    More than 1,500 species of flora and fauna, like the Peninsular bighorn sheep shown above, make their homes along this biologically diverse strip of North America. Sixty-two of these species are considered vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). And many of those species would face extirpation — meaning local extinction in the US — if they were unable to access habitats and resources on either side of the border, according to a study from Stanford University.

    The Stanford analysis showed that 346 species would lose access to half of their habitat because of a border wall.

    Of those species, 17% would be stuck living in an area of roughly 7,700 square miles or less — elevating their risk of extirpation, according to IUCN guidelines. According to the study, which was published in the journal BioScience in July 2018, some of these at-risk species include the endangered jaguar and ocelot. 

    The two Stanford biologists behind the study, Paul Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo, explained that physical barriers — whether they are rivers, mountains, or a human-made wall — can deter or prevent animals from finding mates, fresh water, and necessary food.

    Dirzo told the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment that "cut off like this, the bighorn and other animals and plants will become zombie species — populations that are demographically and genetically doomed."

    Animal migration patterns — even those of birds — would be disrupted.

    Dirzo and Erhlich noted the border wall could also impede flying species that enjoy riding currents close to the ground. Examples include the ­endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly or the ferruginous pygmy owl.

    Echoing those concerns, the National Audubon Society, the National Resources Defense Council, and more than 170 conservation groups penned a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen in November.

    The letter elaborated on the impact of a wall on "environmentally sensitive conservation areas" like the Lower Rio Grande Valley area, which has a plethora of butterfly and bird fauna. Bruce Stein, chief scientist at the National Wildlife Federation, wrote, "barriers like border walls can interfere with the ability of animals to meet their daily needs, make seasonal migrations or disperse to new areas."

    Quartz, which first reported on the letter to Nielsen, noted that an unfamiliar obstacle could even deter birds, despite the fact that they could theoretically fly to heights above it. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    zuckerberg san francisco general hospital protest

    • Sasha Cuttler, a nurse working at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, alleges the medical institution has illegally retaliated against their whistleblowing.
    • Cuttler has been an outspoken critic of the decision to rename the hospital after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and also raised issues internally about patient falls.
    • The nurse alleges they were passed over for promotions as a result, and removed from leadership positions.
    • Cuttler has filed a legal complaint to the US Department of Labor on Tuesday.

    A nurse who has been an outspoken critic of a San Francisco hospital's decision to rename itself in return for a $75 million donation from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has accused the medical institution of illegally retaliating against them over it and other matters.

    Sasha Cuttler, 58, on Tuesday filed a legal complaint against the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, commonly referred to as just the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where they have worked since on and off since 1987.

    Cuttler, who uses gender neutral pronouns, has repeatedly cited a 2014 study in which Facebook manipulated some users' emotions without their knowledge or consent as unethical and as raising concerns about the Facebook exec's links to the hospital. Cuttler has been openly critical, both internally and in public, organising protests against the 34-year-old billionaire executive and talking to the media (including Business Insider). 

    The nurse alleges that the hospital has illegally retaliated against them, both because of their anti-Zuckerberg activism and because of work they conducted relating to patient falls at the hospital and their warnings that staffing changes could increase the number of falls.

    Cuttler has now filed formal complaints with the California Labour Commissioner's Office (CLCO) and the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), alleging unlawful whistleblower retaliation. Cuttler alleges they were passed over for promotion, removed from the hospital Institutional Review Board and the Falls Task Force leadership, and "[marginalized] and [ostracized] within the workplace."

    Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital spokesperson Brent Andrew did not immediately provide a comment to Business Insider.

    The retaliation has "caused [Cuttler] to suffer from anxiety and depression, insomnia, and other stress-related conditions," the complaint alleges, and it seeks damages from the hospital.

    Zuckerberg's name is causing increasing headaches for the California hospital. San Francisco politician Aaron Peskin is pushing for it to be removed entirely in response to the social media company's recent string of scandals. 

    Got a tip? Contact this reporter via Signal or WhatsApp at +1 (650) 636-6268 using a non-work phone, email at, Telegram or WeChat at robaeprice, or Twitter DM at @robaeprice. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.


    SEE ALSO: A gamer tried to go pro by pretending to be a woman, and the scandal exposed an ugly truth about esports

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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. Current subscribers can read the report here.


    Outside of the US Postal Service (USPS), FedEx and UPS have dominated the domestic logistics industry — and in particular, the last-mile of the delivery — for decades. On a quarterly earnings call in 2016, FedEx estimated that itself, UPS, and USPS executed a whopping 95% of all e-commerce orders.

    But rapidly rising volumes have put the pair of legacy shippers in a bind. E-commerce sales have risen over 50% and are projected to continue their ascent into the next decade. High volumes are already straining shippers' networks — UPS struggled to bring consumers their parcels on time due to higher-than-anticipated package volume, which upset some big-name retail partners, including Macy's, Walmart, and Amazon. As online sales surge further, package volumes will outstrip legacy shippers' capacities, creating space for new entrants. 

    Amazon is uniquely well-positioned to dethrone UPS and FedEx's duopoly. It's built up a strong logistics infrastructure, counting hundreds of warehouses and thousands of delivery trucks.

    Further, as the leading online retailer in the US, it has a wealth of data on consumers that it can use to craft a personalized delivery experience that's superior to UPS and FedEx's offerings. Amazon must act soon, however, as UPS and FedEx are hard at work fortifying their own networks to handle the expected surge in parcel volume.

    The longer the Seattle-based e-tailer delays the launch of a delivery service, the more it runs the risk that these legacy players will be able to defend their territory. 

    In a new report, Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, explains how the age of e-commerce is opening up cracks in UPS and FedEx's duopoly. We then outline how Amazon's logistics ambitions began as an effort to more quickly get parcels out the door and fulfill its famous 2-day shipping process and how it'll be a key building block for the company if it builds out a last-mile service. Lastly, we offer concrete steps that the firm must take to maximize the dent it makes in UPS and FedEx's duopoly.

    The companies mentioned in this report are: Alibaba, Amazon, FedEx, and UPS.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • While UPS and FedEx have dominated the US last-mile delivery market for the last few decades, the surge in e-commerce is creating more volume than shipping companies can handle.
    • Amazon is uniquely well-positioned to put a dent in UPS and FedEx's duopoly due to its strategic position as the leading online retailer in the US.
    • Amazon can carry its trust amongst the public, a wealth of consumer data, and its ability to craft a more personalized delivery experience to the last-mile delivery space to ultimately dethrone UPS and FedEx.
    • The top priority for Amazon in taking on UPS and FedEx needs to be offering substantially lower shipping rates — one-third of US retailers say they'll switch to an Amazon shipping service if it's at least 20% cheaper than UPS and FedEx. 

    In full, the report:

    • Outlines Amazon's current shipping and logistics footprint and strengths that it would bring to the last-mile delivery space in the US.
    • Lays out concrete steps that Amazon must take if it wants to launch a standalone last-mile delivery service, including how it can offer a more memorable, higher-quality delivery experience than UPS and FedEx.
    • Illustrates how Amazon can minimize operating costs for a delivery service to ultimately undercut UPS and FedEx's shipping rates in the last-mile space.


    SEE ALSO: Amazon and Walmart are building out delivery capabilities

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    trump oval office address sharpened

    • President Donald Trump delivered a prime-time address to the nation from the Oval Office on Tuesday night.
    • The address comes 18 days into a partial government shutdown, a result of a disagreement on funding Trump's desired wall along the border between the US and Mexico.
    • In his address, Trump characterized the US-Mexico border as being in a state of "crisis," arguing that constructing a barrier was "a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice."

    President Donald Trump addressed the nation during prime time on Tuesday night in his first Oval Office speech, characterizing the state of the US-Mexico border as a "crisis" that Congress can only solve by funding a "physical barrier."

    "How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?" he said. "To those that refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask, imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken."

    Trump has spent much of the past three weeks raging against Congressional Democrats for refusing to fund the wall he has long promised to build along the border. Both Trump and Democrats have refused to budge from their positions, resulting in a partial government shutdown now in its third week.

    During his address Tuesday night, Trump linked migrants crossing the southern border to crime in the US, stoking fear about brutal murders and citing several instances where Americans died at the hands of immigrants living in the US illegally.

    One case he mentioned was that of a California police officer who was fatally shot in December during a traffic stop. The suspected gunman was an immigrant living in the US illegally.

    Studies, however, have shown that immigrants on the whole commit far fewer crimes than American-born citizens, regardless of whether they live in the US legally or illegally.

    "To every member of Congress, pass a bill that ends this crisis," Trump said. "This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve."

    Trump also cited figures from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, saying officers arrested 266,000 immigrants with criminal records within the last two years. Though the figure is accurate, many of the offenses immigrants are arrested for include non-violent crimes such as illegally entering the US, re-entering the US, possessing drugs, or traffic violations.

    Some of the points Trump raised were sure to draw ire from his critics, including an assertion that the barrier would "pay for itself."

    "The cost of illegal drugs exceeds $500 billion a year. Vastly more than the $5.7 billion we have requested from Congress," he said. "The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico."

    As Trump's critics have pointed out, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement has not yet been ratified by Congress, or the legislative bodies of Canada and Mexico, and even the net economic benefit from the trade deal would not constitute directly payments for the wall.

    Trump also used the ongoing opioid crisis as fuel for his claims, arguing that the drugs that enter the US from Mexico are killing hundreds of Americans regularly. Data from the Customs and Border Protection agency, however, shows that the vast majority of drugs entering the US do so through the ports of entry, rendering a wall useless in preventing the flow.

    "Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl," he said. "Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90% of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War."

    Some had speculated Trump could use his address to declare a national emergency to bypass Congress for the wall funding, as he had indicated in a speech on Friday, but Trump made no mention of the plan on Tuesday night and instead urged Americans to call their representatives and urge them to support the barrier.

    donald trumpRead more: Trump goes off the rails in freewheeling news conference raging about the shutdown, the border wall, DACA, and Democrats

    Trump's address comes amid scrutiny over false or misleading statements he and his administration have made linking migrants with terrorism at the southern border.

    Despite Trump's statement on Friday that "we have terrorists coming through the southern border," the administration has since conceded that the vast majority of known and suspected terrorists enter the US through airports, and that the terror watchlist is not always accurate.

    Trump announced the address — his first Oval Office address during prime time, according to CBS News— in a tweet on Monday. It was initially unclear if networks would carry the address, but CNN, ABC, NBC News, CBS, Fox News, and Fox Business all carried the address live.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded airtime for a Democratic response, which CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox are all aired immediately after Trump's remarks.

    chuck schumer nancy pelosi

    Trump's address happened amid one of the longest government shutdowns in history, second only to a 21-day shutdown during the Clinton administration. The shutdown is a result of a disagreement on the funding of Trump's desired wall along the border of the US and Mexico.

    During his 2016 campaign, Trump often repeated the line that Mexico would pay for the wall. However, he has repeatedly asked Congress for billions of dollars of US taxpayer money to build the barrier.

    At the end of 2018, Trump said he would not sign any government funding bills if they did not include wall funding — after initially signaling that he would sign a stopgap measure, which was passed in the Senate, to fund part of the government until February 8.

    The shutdown impacts roughly 20% of the federal government: nine federal agencies and 800,000 federal workers — 420,000 of whom must still work without pay.

    SEE ALSO: Trump goes off the rails in freewheeling news conference raging about the shutdown, the border wall, DACA, and Democrats

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