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    bii chatbots_users

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

    Improving artificial intelligence (AI) technology and the proliferation of messaging apps — which enable users and businesses to interact through a variety of mediums, including text, voice, image, video, and file sharing — are fueling the popularity of chatbots.

    These software programs use messaging as an interface through which to carry out various tasks, like checking the weather or scheduling a meeting. Bots are still nascent and monetization models have yet to be established for the tech, but there are a number of existing strategies — like "as-a-service" or affiliate marketing — that will likely prove successful for bots used as a tool within messaging apps.

    Chatbots can also provide brands with value adds — services that don't directly generate revenue, but help increase the ability of brands and businesses to better target and serve customers, and increase productivity. These include bots used for research, lead generation, and customer service.

    A new report from BI Intelligence investigates how brands can monetize their chatbots by tailoring existing models. It also explores various ways chatbots can be used to cut businesses' operational costs. And finally, it highlights the slew of barriers that brands need to overcome in order to tap into the potentially lucrative market. 

    Here are some of the key takeaways: Screen Shot 2016 11 22 at 5.26.40 pm

    • Chatbot adoption has already taken off in the US with more than half of US users between the ages of 18 and 55 having used them, according to exclusive BI Intelligence survey data.
    • Chatbots boast a number of distinct features that make them a perfect vehicle for brands to reach consumers. These include a global presence, high retention rates, and an ability to appeal to a younger demographic.
    • Businesses and brands are looking to capitalize on the potential to monetize the software. BI Intelligence identifies four existing models that can be successfully tailored for chatbots. These models include Bots-as-a-Service, native content, affiliate marketing, and retail sales.
    • Chatbots can also provide brands with value adds, or services that don't directly generate revenue. Bots used for research, lead generation, and customer service can cut down on companies' operational costs.
    • There are several benchmarks chatbots must reach, and barriers they must overcome, before becoming successful revenue generators. 

    In full, the report:

    • Explains the different ways businesses can access, utilize, and distribute content via chatbots.
    • Breaks down the pros and cons of each chatbot monetization model.
    • Identifies the additional value chatbots can provide businesses outside of direct monetization.
    • Looks at the potential barriers that could limit the growth, adoption, and use of chatbots and therefore their earning potential.

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

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

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How Silicon Valley's sexist 'bro culture' affects everyone — and how to fix it

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    Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg

    • The far right is claiming that two students who have been featured prominently since the Florida school shooting are actors, tied to the FBI, or both.
    • The conspiracy has been promoted by the office of a Florida state lawmaker and President Donald Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

    There is a widening conspiracy theory gaining traction on the far right that student survivors of a Florida school shooting who have made a series of TV appearances since last week's massacre are actors, part of an FBI plot, or both.

    The conspiracies have centered on David Hogg, who has been featured on CNN and CBS following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead and more than a dozen others injured, and Emma Gonzalez, who has spoken out about the need for politicians to enact gun-control legislation.

    Hogg, a student journalist who says he interviewed classmates during the shooting, has since become one of the most prominent student voices, calling for stricter gun-control measures and characterizing the response of politicians — and specifically President Trump — as "disgusting."

    In his case, some far-right outlets have pointed to his father's being a retired FBI agent to suggest something nefarious in the student's frequent media appearances.

    "Why would the child of an FBI agent be used as a pawn for anti-Trump rhetoric and anti-gun legislation?" Lucian Wintrich wrote on The Gateway Pundit. "Because the FBI is only looking to curb YOUR Constitutional rights and INCREASE their power. We've seen similar moves by them many times over. This is just another disgusting example of it."

    On True Pundit, a story linking Hogg and the FBI ran under the headline "Outspoken Trump-Hating School Shooting Survivor is Son of FBI Agent; MSM Helps Prop Up Incompetent Bureau."

    "The kid who has been running his mouth about how Donald Trump and the GOP are teaming to help murder high school kids by upholding the Second Amendment is the son of an FBI agent," an unnamed author wrote. "David Hogg is a school shooting survivor in Florida. At least that is what the mainstream media has told us. We wouldn't be surprised by anything involving the FBI at this point."

    Pro-Trump accounts have shared the stories on Twitter and in some cases have thousands of retweets. The conservative One America News Network promoted a tweet suggesting Hogg may be "running cover for his dad who works as an FBI agent at the Miami field office."

    The stories gained even more attention when Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., liked that tweet and another post sharing the True Pundit story.

    This is 'the work of a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency'

    Later on Tuesday, True Pundit posted another story under the headline "BUSTED: Trump-Hating School Shooting Survivor Visited CNN HQ Before the Shooting; Ranted Live on CNN After."

    The far-right publication published photos, claiming to be of Hogg, both at a CNN newsdesk and wearing a CNN T-shirt before last week's shooting.

    "But now we learn Hogg was hanging out at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, GA sometime Before the school shooting," the unnamed author wrote. "Before the shooting. Posing behind an news anchor desk? Perhaps Hogg’s career dream is to sign on with the network — a young Jake Tapper — as he has portrayed himself since the deadly shooting that claimed 17 students as a 'student journalist and entrepreneur.'"

    Some people online pointed to footage of Hogg from a CBS Los Angeles newscast last summer, when he discussed how his friend got into a verbal altercation with a life guard, as proof that he was an actor who appears at various crises.

    Others went after Gonzalez for being "coached" on how to respond to the incident.

    The conspiracies seemed to spill into the ranks of government too.

    Benjamin Kelly, an aide to Republican Florida state Rep. Shawn Harrison told the Tampa Bay Times Tuesday afternoon that both Hogg and Gonzalez "are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen."

    The prominence of the conspiracies led to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida publicly condemning those spreading the claims.

    "Claiming some of the students on tv after #Parkland are actors is the work of a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency," he tweeted. Hogg responded to Rubio's tweet, thanking him for his comment.

    The Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran announced Kelly's firing late Tuesday: “On behalf of the entire Florida House, I sincerely apologize to the students targeted and again commend them for their courage through this unspeakable tragedy,” Corcoran said.

    By Tuesday evening, Kelly's Twitter account had been deleted.

    The focus on Hogg and Gonzalez comes in the wake of another popular right-wing theory related to the shooting — that the FBI missed warning signs about the Florida gunman because of its investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 US election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow.

    Trump claimed over the weekend that this may have been what led to the FBI failing to follow protocol when it received a tip about the shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

    "Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter," he wrote Saturday just before midnight. "This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!"

    The FBI has more than 35,000 employees and runs hundreds of investigations simultaneously, and a special counsel outside of the Justice Department is leading the Russia investigation. The bureau, however, acknowledged last week that it had failed in following up on a tip last month about the suspect in the Florida school shooting.

    Trump has repeatedly accused leaders within the Justice Department and the FBI of being biased against him.

    SEE ALSO: Some of Trump's most fervent supporters have started to criticize a school-shooting survivor who has made a flurry of media appearances

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How to make America great — according to one of the three cofounders of Black Lives Matter

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    Bigelow space station

    • On Tuesday, hotel billionaire Robert Bigelow announced the launch of Bigelow Space Operations.
    • The new company will operate inflatable space stations called B330s, which are being developed by Bigelow Aerospace (a space hardware company).
    • The first two B330 modules are slated for launch in 2021.
    • BSO is also working with the International Space Station to carry its payloads.
    • Bigelow hopes to build an inflatable space station more than twice as big as the ISS.

    Robert Bigelow, who made his billions from the hotel chain Budget Suites of America, has officially launched a new spaceflight company called Bigelow Space Operations (BSO).

    Bigelow, age 72, founded Bigelow Aerospace in 1999. That company develops space hardware and built an inflatable room, called the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, which NASA attached to the International Space Station in 2016.

    robert bigelow aerospace space operations AP_914378684972

    But the hotel mogul has grand ambitions to use BSO to commercialize space — and outdo NASA with a "monster" space station.

    In 2021, BSO plans to launch two 55-foot-long inflatable modules, called B330-1 and B330-2, that link together to form a private space station. The new company wants to sell time aboard to countries in need of orbital laboratory space, as well as multi-million-dollar reservations to tourists seeking the trip (and hotel stay) of a lifetime.

    "These single structures that house humans on a permanent basis will be the largest, most complex structures ever known as stations for human use in space," the company said in a press release.

    Bigelow Aerospace will maintain its role developing and making space hardware. Meanwhile, BSO will market its services in low-Earth orbit — a zone about 250 miles above Earth — to nations, corporations, and space tourists.

    "From a human-use perspective, we're at the very, very early beginnings of this," Bigelow told reporters during a call on Tuesday.

    What Bigelow Space Operations will do

    bigelow aerospace

    BSO is launching at an unprecedented moment for the space industry.

    Over the years, NASA has handed over some control of space and astronaut research time on its space station to commercial companies. President Donald Trump has called for further privatization of the space station and proposed slashing the agency's funding to an all-time low. Trump has also suggested that NASA pull out of the global program roughly three years early, in 2025.

    Meanwhile, the cost of access to space is getting cheaper with the advent of new rocket systems. Lead among them is SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, which is now the most powerful operational launcher in the world following its successful test. (The price of a launch on that system undercuts the competition four-fold.)

    Bigelow's B330 space station modules can hold about six people. They would launch in a folded-up state, then be inflated with breathable air once deployed into orbit. Their thick white shields, made of impact-absorbing materials, would protect against space debris and radiation.

    The units are "so diverse and so large," Bigelow's release said, "that they can accommodate virtually unlimited use almost anywhere." Depending on the prices that SpaceX and other companies charge for flights, the per-passenger cost could be in the "low seven figures" though most likely in the "low eight figures," Bigelow said. (NASA currently pays Russia about $81 million per round-trip to the ISS for its astronauts.)

    Bigelow currently has a handful of people staffing BSO, but he expects to hire three to four dozen more this year. By the time the company is ready to send payloads to the ISS, he expects it to have as many as 500 employees working around the globe.

    If the B330s prove successful, Bigelow wants to launch something even bigger, with just one rocket: A space station more than 2.4 times the volume of the entire ISS, which took decades to build.

    "We call it the Olympus," Bigelow said. "It will weigh about 75-80 metric tonnes on launch. It will be a monster spacecraft by any current standards, and we hope that's something we can be seriously working on over the course of about eight to 10 years."

    Reading a fledgling market

    international space station, iss

    Construction of the ISS began in 1998 and is still underway, but the orbital laboratory is supposed to be de-orbited in 2028, after reaching its maximum safe lifespan.

    Thus, BSO hopes to attract the same nations that fund the space station today and get them to invest in its newer, privately operated outfit.

    The B330s wouldn't have as many restrictions as the ISS, which designates most of its payload capacity to supplies and science experiments. With BSO's space station, corporations and nations could try something more adventurous or zany in orbit.

    "As badly as we'd like to open up a Budweiser [distillery] on orbit, I think that's going to have to be deferred to a private-sector-operated station," Bigelow said.

    Bigelow is bullish about the potential of the B330s and his new company, but he also expressed concern that demand for his private space station may be weak or nonexistent after the spacecraft are launched.

    "There's a real lack of quality data that are telling us, 'here's what you really have globally in terms of a market.' Everybody's been talking about commercial this, commercialize that, and so on. Talk is easy," he said.

    What's much more difficult, Bigelow said, is getting "people to fork over their money." To that end, BSO is spending millions to conduct an exhaustive survey by the end of 2018.

    "BSO's research this year, I think, is foundational for everyone — for NASA, for our government, for even other competitors to Bigelow, to understand what the hell does a commercial market really look like, on a global basis, once and for all?" he said. "We're going to be spending millions of dollars to try and get to that answer."

    Brewing uncertainty in low-Earth orbit

    china astronauts taikonauts associated press

    Bigelow said he foresees two major problems for his plans to establish private space hotels and laboratories: China and NASA.

    China is a threat because many of the 17 partners behind the $150-billion International Space Station are being "systematically courted" to invest in a new orbital laboratory that China may launch as soon as 2022.

    "They're offering very attractive terms and conditions and features that the commercial sector is going to have a horrible time trying to compete with," Bigelow said.

    NASA is an issue because, under President Donald Trump's direction, the agency plans to pull out of the ISS in 2025, then invest roughly $3 to $4 billion per year in a deep-space gateway to help astronauts get to the moon and Mars.

    "It's going to be a political episode," Bigelow said. "It needs to have a solution that needs to be worked on now in conjunction with the commercial space station players. This is a very serious problem."

    deep space gateway moon mars nasaThe core issue is that NASA has helped fund a nascent industry of private space companies, including SpaceX and Bigelow. It also provided a semi-permanent destination in orbit for the companies to work with: the ISS.

    If NASA abandons the ISS for deep-space missions without figuring out new roles for the companies it has invested in, many could be left in the lurch.

    "I get an uneasy feeling that there is not a plan, there is not something in place, to actually embrace all of the partners and say, 'we have a future for you,'" Bigelow said. "There needs to be an alternative to them that's attractive, and that needs to be a discussion that is administered by the White House in conjunction with NASA and in conjunction with companies like ourselves."

    If there isn't a plan, and BSO's research finds a stagnant market, Bigelow said he may keep the B330s on Earth indefinitely.

    "We would pause, after developing two or three 330s, and they would be sitting on the ground, waiting for deployment if, in fact, the business simply wasn't there," Bigelow said, adding, "that would kind of be the worst-case scenario."

    SEE ALSO: 25 photos that prove we're all stowaways on a tiny, fragile spaceship

    DON'T MISS: Astronauts may soon have no way to reach NASA's $100 billion space station

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: There's a place at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean where hundreds of giant spacecraft go to die

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    percent adults pew 13 16

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

    Social networks are here to stay, and they're constantly evolving. Globally, more than 2.8 billion people — or 37% of the world's population — use social media, but the way those users interact with each other, and the platforms they adopt, vary widely.

    In the US market, gender, income, and education level have little impact on whether an individual has adopted social networking as an activity. Age does remain a factor — younger internet users tend to be more likely to engage in social networking overall, and adopt specific social platforms.

    While social platforms offer tools that let marketers target particular audience segments, advertisers must track how these audience bases — and their behaviors — are shifting. Nearly 70% of US adults use at least one social media site, according to Pew Research Center, up from 60% in 2013 and 50% in 2010.

    In a new report, BI Intelligence highlights the key audience demographics for six major social platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. It examines multiple dimensions of change within each platform's demographic makeup — including age, income, education, gender, and overall adoption in terms of online adults in the US — and assesses how certain segments of the US population have adapted their social media behaviors. The report also explores how much time each age demographic is investing on each platform.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • US Facebook users aged 45-54 are spending more time on Facebook, and represent 21% of the total time spent on the platform, more than any other age group.
    • The age composition of Snapchat users in the US has become more evenly distributed over the past year, and it appears the company is doing a better job of attracting older users.
    • Teens are starting to use a category of social media called “digital hangouts.” These are apps that enable users to video chat with several friends simultaneously. Over 60% of users on Houseparty, one of the most popular digital hangout apps, are under 24 years old.
    • LinkedIn is popular among high-income users. Forty-five percent of US adult internet users with an income higher than $75,000 annually are on LinkedIn, making it more popular among this demographic than Instagram (31%), Pinterest (35%), or Twitter (30%).

     In full, the report:

    • Breaks down the reach of social platform audiences in terms of age, income, education, and gender. 
    • Examines how time spent and monthly users across major age brackets have changed in the past three years. 
    • Explores the preferences of US teens and young millennials, and how they're changing. 
    • Identifies the most important demographic changes that advertisers should monitor as social platforms continue to grow. 

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

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

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    US Marines Beach Cobra Gold

    The US Marine Corps sent a massive amount of Marines to Thailand for the annual Cobra Gold military drill, an exercise that has been held in Thailand almost every year since 1982.

    The exercise was originally intended to strengthen relations between the US and its oldest ally in South East Asia, but has since turned into a drill for multiple nations in the region. This year11,075 personnel from 29 countries will participate.

    The US nearly doubled its own contribution to the exercise this year, with 6,800 personnel participating. The increase is likely due to the threat of a more powerful China.

    "This exercise is the largest multilateral exercise in the Indo-Pacific region. It speaks to the commitment of the US in the region," Steve Castonguay, a spokesman for the US Embassy in Bangkok, said.

    Take a look at the awesome photos from the exercise here:

    SEE ALSO: Insane photos of US Marines drinking cobra blood during a jungle survival exercise in Thailand

    DON'T MISS: Trump's defense budget is a wishlist for a massive military buildup — these are the planes, ships, and missiles he wants

    Amphibious assault drills are the main focus of Cobra Gold, like this beach assault in 2017.

    They were also included in the drills this year. As amphibious assault vehicles approach beaches, they fire smoke screens to make it more difficult to target them.

    Here's a view of the assault from behind.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Parkland Florida shooting

    • A planned, student-led march scheduled for next month is already gaining some deep-pocketed backers.
    • The March for Our Lives, set to take place in major US cities March 24, received $500,000 pledges from George and Amal Clooney and Oprah Winfrey on Tuesday.
    • The march follows last week's deadly mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were killed.

    The deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead last week is poised to ignite a nationwide movement against gun violence. Students planning demonstrations in major cities next month to get the attention of lawmakers in the fight for gun reform are already earning some high-profile endorsements.

    The Oscar-winning actor George Clooney and his wife, Amal, who is a human-rights lawyer, have pledged $500,000 to the March for Our Lives demonstration. Billionaire media mogul Oprah Winfrey joined the cause, pledging to match the Clooneys' donation on Tuesday.

    "George and Amal, I couldn’t agree with you more. I am joining forces with you and will match your $500,000 donation to 'March For Our Lives,'"Oprah said. "These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s who also said we’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard."

    The Freedom Riders that Oprah referenced were white and African-American demonstrators who traveled on buses to cities in the segregated southern US in the 1960s, where they peacefully protested against segregated buses and restaurants. Many were arrested and brutalized in the process.

    MSNBC host Joy Reid likened the student-led movement against gun violence to the students of generations past, saying, "the Civil Rights Movement was in large part populated by students -- from college to elementary -- who marched, sat in, took firehose blasts and dog bites and were even martyred in church. Don't underestimate them. Kids can change America again."

    Steven Spielberg and Kate Capeshaw also pledged $500,000 and praised the students leading the charge: "The young students in Florida and now across the country are already demonstrating their leadership with a confidence and maturity that belies their ages," the couple said in a statement.

    Film studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg has also pledged $500,000, Variety reported.

    The 19-year-old gunman who opened fire on students in Parkland, Florida, last week is facing 17 counts of murder.

    SEE ALSO: The students who survived the Florida school shooting are planning something big to take the fight for gun safety nationwide

    DON'T MISS: A pro-gun, pro-Trump teacher who survived the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting has some words for the president

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How to make America great — according to one of the three cofounders of Black Lives Matter

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    Arleigh Burke Class bosphorus Strait

    • The US Navy has two guided-missile destroyers in the Black Sea to counter Russian military buildup in the region.
    • The Black Sea has seen heightened tensions since Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
    • The last time the US sent multiple ships the the Black Sea was during the Sea Breeze exercises in July 2017.

    The US Navy sent an additional Arleigh Burke-class destroyer into the Black Sea on Saturday to "conduct maritime security operations" in the region. 

    The USS Carney joined the USS Ross to patrol a body of water that has become increasingly tense since Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014. Crimea is the home of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, and is where Russian jets have had close intercepts with US Navy aircraft in recent months.

    "Our decision to have two ships simultaneously operate in the Black Sea is proactive, not reactive," Vice Adm. Christopher Grady said in a Navy release. "We operate at the tempo and timing of our choosing in this strategically important region."

    This is the first time two US Navy warships have been in the Black Sea since NATO and Ukraine conducted naval defense drills in July 2017. The exercise involved more than 3,000 members.

    US military officials told CNN that the purpose of the deployment was to "desensitize Russia to the presence of US military forces there," and to help "establish rules for how the two countries should safely operate in proximity to each other, as they did in the Cold War."

    Russia responded to the announcement on Tuesday and said they are tracking the destroyers. "If they demonstrate any hostile or provocative actions ... they will get a response and will be served accordingly," Russian Admiral Vladimir Valuev said.

    During the Cold War, the Soviet Union effectively controlled the entirety of the Black Sea, though Turkey has determined who can enter and exit the body of water since the sixteenth century.

    But in the decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, almost all of the Black Sea nations have either joined NATO, or had their relations with Russia deteriorate due to armed conflict.

    Russia is very sensitive about the Black Sea, and has been militarizing Crimea since its annexation in 2014. "Basically anything new that they have they are putting in Crimea," a US defense official based in Europe told CNN.

    In addition to close intercepts with the US Navy, the sea has seen a number of incidents with other nations. In 2016, Turkish President said that the Black Sea had "nearly become a Russian lake," and Ukraine claimed in 2017 that guns from a Russian-occupied oil rig had shot at a military plane, which Russia subsequently denied.

    SEE ALSO: The US sent its biggest force in years to an Asian military exercise where Marines learn how to storm beaches and drink snake blood — and the photos are awesome

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: No one wants to host the Olympics anymore — will they go away?

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    2 chat app users

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

    To keep pace with the ongoing shift toward e- and m-commerce, retailers are turning to chat apps, where smartphone users spend considerable time each day.

    One way they’ve been accessing consumers on these platforms is through chatbots, or software programs that use business-to-consumer (B2C) text-based messaging as an interface through which customers can communicate with merchants in a question-and-answer format. 

    For merchants, these offerings are valuable because sales increase as customers communicate with and shop from their brand on more channels. But there’s considerable friction — in chat apps, payments offerings are limited, which means users who might be browsing in a messaging app will still be redirected to another app or the mobile web to complete a purchase. 

    This is creating an opportunity for payments processors and card networks, which are beginning to partner with merchants to capture potential volume from chat apps. And as the hype increases, other payments firms, like remittance providers and banks are also entering the game, in the hopes of increasing user engagement or attracting new types of clients.

    There’s a long road ahead: We’re just at the beginning of what’s likely to be a long adoption cycle, with payments firms only starting to dip their toes into the space. But improvements in the ecosystem, combined with rising consumer appetite for these services and increasing trust, will eventually lead to moderate gains in usage that open up a massive volume opportunity for Western firms.

    BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has put together a detailed report on chatbots' role in the payments ecosystem.

    Here are some key takeaways from the report:

    • Chat apps are the next frontier for digital commerce, but without payments functionality, the opportunity is extremely limited. Customers can — and do — ask for support, take advantage of deals, and browse many stores within chat apps. But when it comes time to pay, users have to switch to another app or the mobile web — a turnoff that could hinder adoption and lower conversion rates.
    • Most payments firms are teaming up with retailers, often those they already count as clients, to enable customers to make payments using their mobile wallets or processing features within chat apps. That’s allowing retailers to get to the space faster while opening a revenue opportunity for payments players. Others are taking less direct approaches, working to increase consumer engagement in a way that promotes more spending offline.
    • We’re at the beginning of an adoption curve, so digital payments providers shouldn’t expect massive success quickly, but in the long run, it’s likely to be a large market. As firms work to grow consumer awareness and improve the experience, the technology will eventually become mainstream, which makes getting in early and becoming established worthwhile. 

    In full, the report:

    • Explains why the chat app is the next frontier for commerce, and why payments functionality is a linchpin of that success.
    • Details different types of chat app payments and their potential use cases.
    • Evaluates the hurdles that could prevent consumers from using chatbot payments.
    • Suggests ways firms can overcome these hurdles and begin seeing adoption.
    • Sizes the potential long-run market for chatbot payments in the West.

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

    1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND more than 250 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> Learn More Now
    2. Purchase and download the report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

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    GettyImages 916131440

    • North Korea pulled out of a secret meeting with the US Vice President Mike Pence during the Olympic Games.
    • The delegates from North Korea were upset by Pence's decision to meet defectors and for announcing new sanctions, his office confirmed.
    • The secret meeting was locked in before Pence departed on his tour of Asia, contradicting the State Department's claims that there were no plans for the vice president to meet with North Korea.
    • While the meeting didn't eventuate, the situation highlights the two countries not only have the ability to communicate but are in fact doing so.

    US Vice President Mike Pence agreed to hold a secret meeting with North Korean officials while at the Olympic Games, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

    The meeting was all set to go ahead on February 10, but the North Koreans pulled out less than two hours before. It was the same day North Korea's visiting delegates, which included Kim Yo Jong, the sister of Kim Jong Un, met with South Korean President Moon Jae-In and invited him to Pyongyang for a meeting between the leaders.

    “North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the Vice President softening his message, which would have ceded the world stage for their propaganda during the Olympics,” Nick Ayres, the vice president’s chief of staff, told The Post.

    The vice president's office said the delegation pulled out of the meeting because the vice president met with North Korean defectors and had announced new sanctions. Ahead of reaching South Korea, Pence said the US will soon unveil the "toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever."

    Ahead of his tour of Asia, Pence had not confirmed either way whether he would meet with North Korean officials, only saying at one point, "We'll see what happens." The US State Department had also explicitly ruled out any planned meeting.

    "There are no plans to meet with any North Korean officials during or after the Olympics; I want to be clear about that. There are no plans to do so," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on February 6"The Secretary and the Vice President said we'll see what happens when we get to the Olympics."

    This contradicts the latest reports from The Post. According to a White House official, the meeting between Pence and North Korean officials took two weeks to organize, and efforts began after the CIA received word North Korea wanted to meet with Pence.

    Pence agreed to the meeting before leaving for his Asia trip on February 5. President Donald Trump, Chief of Staff John Kelly, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were all involved in the discussions.

    According to The Post, the purpose of the meeting was to convey the US stance on sanctions and denuclearization, rather than open the door to negotiations.

    "The president made a decision that if they wanted to talk, we would deliver our uncompromising message. If they asked for a meeting, we would meet," Ayres said. "As we’ve said from day one about the trip: this administration will stand in the way of Kim’s desire to whitewash their murderous regime with nice photo ops at the Olympics. Perhaps that's why they walked away from a meeting or perhaps they were never sincere about sitting down."

    The meeting was set to take place at the Blue House, the South Korean equivalent of the White House, with Pence, a National Security Council representative, an intelligence representative and Pence's chief of staff meeting Kim Yo Jong and North Korea's official head of state Kim Yong Nam.

    North Korea confirmed the meeting on the Saturday morning, but hours later pulled out.

    "At the last minute, DPRK officials decided not to go forward with the meeting. We regret their failure to seize this opportunity," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told press on Tuessday.

    "We will not allow North Korea’s attendance at the Winter Olympics to conceal the true nature of the regime and the need for the world to remain united in the face of its illicit weapons programs.  The maximum pressure campaign deepening North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation will continue until North Korea agrees to credible talks on a way forward to a denuclearized Korean peninsula."

    North Korea and the US do communicate


    The potential meeting between the two countries reiterates that, while the two countries don't have diplomatic relations, North Korea and the US do indeed communicate.

    Last year, Tillerson confirmed there are "three channels open to Pyongyang."

    It's unclear what these channels are, after North Korea ended communication to the US via its mission to the United Nations in New York in 2016.

    Ashley Parker, a reporter from The Post, confirmed South Korea initially acted as the intermediary for communications between the two countries, but eventually they "directly communicated."

    But just this week, Tillerson confirmed the US has the ability to communicate with Pyongyang. He told "60 Minutes" North Korea "will tell" him when they want to talk, because "we receive messages from them."

    SEE ALSO: North Korea's 'Princess' Kim Yo Jong threw Pence side-eye, cheered on a joint Korean hockey team, and pushed propaganda in her whirlwind trip to the Olympics

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    • Credit Suisse has crunched the numbers and approximated the point at which US 10-year Treasury yields could start to weigh on equity returns.
    • The firm argues that higher rates don't hurt stocks until a certain threshold is exceeded, after which point stocks become indifferent, which could lead to equity weakness.

    Conventional wisdom suggests that higher interest rates make stocks less attractive. As bonds offer higher yields, equities lose their appeal on a relative-return basis.

    Credit Suisse argues that investors shouldn't be worried about this dynamic — at least not yet. But the firm does warn of possible trouble ahead as the Federal Reserve prepares for further interest-rate hikes.

    The firm has crunched the numbers and found that stocks have historically increased amid rising rates, as long as the 10-year Treasury yield stays below a specific level. At present time, that turning point is 3.5%, or roughly 60 basis points above current levels.

    Put differently, in Credit Suisse's view, all bets are off once the 10-year yield climbs above 3.5%, since that's the point where stocks get indifferent to rate moves, which could open the door to weakness.

    This chart shows the positive performance stocks have enjoyed since 2014 with Treasury yields at 3% or below. As you can see from the two negative bars on the right, the bank is projecting equity losses once yields start to exceed 3.5%.

    2 20 18 rates stocks COTD

    "Equities respond positively to rising rates until yields hit some threshold," Credit Suisse's chief US equity strategist, Jonathan Golub, wrote in a client note. "Our research shows that from 1991–2014, this threshold was 5–6%, but has declined to 3 1/2% over the past several years."

    Credit Suisse included another chart that goes further toward showing how the bank arrived at the 3.5% Treasury yield that it says will prove a point of reckoning for stocks. The firm has drawn a trendline based on past S&P 500 performance on days when interest rates rose, and arrived at 3.5% as its key inflection point.

    Screen Shot 2018 02 20 at 9.03.02 AM

    SEE ALSO: A new part of the market is melting down as panicked investors get another 'wake-up call'

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    Lamar Jackson

    • Bill Polian, an ESPN analyst and former NFL executive, believes Lamar Jackson should switch to wide receiver in the NFL.
    • Jackson was a Heisman trophy winning quarterback in college and many believe he is talented enough to get a shot as a quarterback in the league.
    • Jackson's case has once again raised questions of how much racial dynamics affect how quarterbacks are evaluated.

    ESPN analyst and former NFL front office executive Bill Polian said Monday in an appearance on  ESPN’s "Golic and Wingo" that he believes Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson should switch positions to wide receiver in the NFL, remarks which have triggered a fair amount of backlash. 

    "Short, and a little bit slight, and clearly, clearly not the thrower the other guys are. The accuracy isn't there. So I would say don't wait to make that change. Don't be like [former Ohio State quarterback and current NFL wide receiver Terrelle Pryor] and be 29 when you make the change," Polian said. 

    Polian's remarks have already drawn harsh criticism from outlets such as SB Nation and The Ringer. For starters, Polian's description of Jackson, who is listed on ESPN's website as being 6-foot-3, as being short is odd, given that he's taller than Super Bowl winners Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Russell Wilson. 

    Besides, Jackson has been one of the most electrifying players in all of college football over the past two years. Surely he deserves a shot at the quarterback position in the NFL, especially given the success of Wilson and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, two other quarterbacks who don't fit neatly into the traditional NFL mold. He is not a perfect prospect — The Ringer does an excellent job of breaking down his strengths and weaknesses as a prospect — but he's good enough to merit an opportunity to prove himself as an NFL-caliber quarterback. 

    Many have pointed to Polian's comments as just another example of how black quarterbacks so often seem to have their games more closely picked apart, or their pro prospects more readily dismissed, than their white counterparts.

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    NOW WATCH: No one wants to host the Olympics anymore — will they go away?

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    1936 berlin olympic village

    The 1936 Berlin Olympics are shrouded in myth and tragedy.

    Just as Hitler was rising to power, the International Olympic Committee in 1931 granted the German capital the right to host. Banners bearing the swastika hung beside the Olympic flag.

    Today, the Olympic Village located in Elstal, Wustermark, on the edge of Berlin, sits in ruins.

    In 2008, photographer Sylvain Margaine visited the decaying concrete wasteland for his website and book, "Forbidden Places: Exploring our abandoned heritage." Take a look inside.

    SEE ALSO: What it's like in Pyeongchang, South Korea — the host city of the 2018 Olympics

    In 1931, Berlin won the right to host the 1936 Summer Games. The city threw all available resources behind an extravagant village, with 145 buildings and a 120,000-seat stadium.

    As construction of the Olympic Village ramped up, so did the Nazis' reign. The newly passed Nuremberg Laws marginalized the Jewish people and stripped them of most political rights.

    Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

    Here we see Hitler, center, entering the Olympic Village for an inspection before the games began. The gateway inscription said, "To the Youth of the World."

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    bii chatbot ecosystem

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

    Advancements in artificial intelligence, coupled with the proliferation of messaging apps, are fueling the development of chatbots — software programs that use messaging as the interface through which to carry out any number of tasks, from scheduling a meeting, to reporting weather, to helping users buy a pair of shoes. 

    Foreseeing immense potential, businesses are starting to invest heavily in the burgeoning bot economy. A number of brands and publishers have already deployed bots on messaging and collaboration channels, including HP, 1-800-Flowers, and CNN. While the bot revolution is still in the early phase, many believe 2016 will be the year these conversational interactions take off.

    In a new report from BI Intelligence, we explore the growing and disruptive bot landscape by investigating what bots are, how businesses are leveraging them, and where they will have the biggest impact. We outline the burgeoning bot ecosystem by segment, look at companies that offer bot-enabling technology, distribution channels, and some of the key third-party bots already on offer. 

    The report also forecasts the potential annual savings that businesses could realize if chatbots replace some of their customer service and sales reps. Finally, we compare the potential of chatbot monetization on a platform like Facebook Messenger against the iOS App Store and Google Play store.

    Here are some of the key takeaways:

    • AI has reached a stage in which chatbots can have increasingly engaging and human conversations, allowing businesses to leverage the inexpensive and wide-reaching technology to engage with more consumers.
    • Chatbots are particularly well suited for mobile — perhaps more so than apps. Messaging is at the heart of the mobile experience, as the rapid adoption of chat apps demonstrates.
    • The chatbot ecosystem is already robust, encompassing many different third-party chat bots, native bots, distribution channels, and enabling technology companies. 
    • Chatbots could be lucrative for messaging apps and the developers who build bots for these platforms, similar to how app stores have developed into moneymaking ecosystems.  

    In full, the report:

    • Breaks down the pros and cons of chatbots.
    • Explains the different ways businesses can access, utilize, and distribute content via chatbots.
    • Forecasts the potential impact chatbots could have for businesses.
    • Looks at the potential barriers that could limit the growth, adoption, and use of chatbots.
    • And much more.

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

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

    Learn more:

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

    Insurance companies have long based their pricing models and strategies on assumptions about the demographics of their customers. Auto insurers, for example, have traditionally charged higher premiums for parents of teenage drivers based on the assumption that members of this demographic are more likely to get into an accident.

    But those assumptions are inherently flawed, since they often aren't based on the actual behaviors and characteristics of individual customers. As new IoT technologies increasingly move into the mainstream, insurers are able to collect and analyze data to more accurately price premiums, helping them to protect the assets they insure and enabling more efficient assessment of damages to conserve resources.

    A new report from BI Intelligence explains how companies in the auto, health, and home insurance markets are using the data produced by IoT solutions to augment their existing policy pricing models and grow their customer bases. In addition, it examines areas where IoT devices have the potential to open up new insurance segments.

     Here are some of the key takeaways:

    • The world's largest auto insurers now offer usage-based policies, which price premiums based on vehicle usage data collected directly from the car.
    • Large home and commercial property insurers are using drones to inspect damaged properties, which can improve workflow efficiency and reduce their reliance on human labor.
    • Health and life insurance firms are offering customers fitness trackers to encourage healthy behavior, and discounts for meeting certain goals.
    • Home insurers are offering discounts on smart home devices to current customers, and in some cases, free devices to entice new customers.

    In full, the report:

    • Forecasts the number of Americans who will have tried usage-based auto insurance by 2021.
    • Explains why narrowly tailored wearables could be what's next for the health insurance industry.
    • Analyzes the market for potential future insurance products on IoT devices.
    • Discusses and analyzes the barriers to consumers opting in to policies that collect their data.

    To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the IoT, choose one of these options:

    1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
    2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

    The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of insurance and the IoT.

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    Donald Trump

    • President Donald Trump on Tuesday indicated his support for stronger background checks for gun purchases, nearly a week after a deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school.
    • "Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks," Trump tweeted, echoing remarks the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave earlier in the day.
    • The moment comes as student survivors amplify their calls for action in the interest of gun-law reform.

    President Donald Trump indicated his support for stronger background checks for gun purchases on Tuesday night, nearly a week after a 19-year-old gunman opened fire on a Parkland, Florida, high school, killing 17 people.

    "Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks,"Trump said in a tweet, echoing earlier remarks from the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

    "The President spoke to Senator Cornyn on Friday about the bipartisan bill he and Sen. Murphy introduced to improve Federal Compliance with Criminal Background check Legislation," Sanders said. "While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system."

    The Obama administration has previously sought to bee up background checks for gun sales after a 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School ended the lives of 20 children and six adults.

    Trump's comments follow what has been a concerted effort by student survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to keep the conversation around gun-law reform at the top of the national consciousness. Such discussions had fizzled in recent months— most notably after a gunman killed 58 people in Las Vegas last fall.

    The Parkland, Florida, shooting has prompted a national movement that is expected to spur demonstrations in major US cities next month.

    The so-called "March for Our Lives" has already earned millions of dollars in pledges from some high-profile media figures.

    Trump made his first move on gun control earlier Tuesday with his directive to the US Justice Department to propose a ban on devices that modify guns, known as bump stocks, which are designed to increase the rate of fire of semiautomatic firearms.

    But any tangible movement on gun reform at the federal or state level has remained elusive, as evidenced Tuesday by a failed vote in Florida's Republican-controlled House, which sought to consider a ban on large-capacity magazines and assault rifles such as the AR-15 — the same gun used by the Parkland shooter.

    SEE ALSO: Some Hollywood heavyweights are donating millions of dollars to a planned national student march against gun violence

    DON'T MISS: A pro-gun, pro-Trump teacher who survived the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting has some words for the president

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    gun control rally

    • A new Quinnipiac poll shows American support for stricter gun laws is at an all-time high.
    • The poll also found nearly universal support for background checks.
    • Another poll released Wednesday showed that 58% of Americans believed stricter gun laws could have prevented last week's mass shooting in Florida.

    The deadly school shooting in Florida last week thrust gun control into the national spotlight yet again — but Americans may finally be at a turning point on the issue.

    A new Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday found that two-thirds of American voters support stricter gun laws, reaching the highest level in the poll's history.

    Just as remarkable was the near-universal support for background checks, with 97% of the general public and 97% of gun owners supporting them. That number rose slightly from November 2017, when 95% of American voters overall and 94% of voters in gun-owning households supported background checks.

    Beyond that, the new poll found that 67% of Americans favored a nationwide assault weapons ban, a rate that rose steadily over the last five years. In 2013, just 56% of voters said they supported an assault weapons ban.

    "If you think Americans are largely unmoved by the mass shootings, you should think again," Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement. "In the last two months, some of the biggest surges in support for tightening gun laws comes from demographic groups you may not expect — independent voters, men, and whites with no college degree."

    Public opinion vs. legislative action

    florida shooting protestQuinnipiac wasn't alone in its findings — a new Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted in the days after the Florida shooting found that 58% of Americans believed stricter gun control could have prevented the massacre.

    That poll also found that 77% of Americans thought better mental health resources could have prevented the suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, from going on his rampage.

    A narrow majority of Americans, 51%, also believed that arming teachers with guns couldn't have prevented the shooting. Some prominent conservatives have backed the idea to allow concealed carry in schools.

    Though public opinion may be progressing on gun control measures, it's unclear whether the issue's spike in support will translate to legislative action.

    Certain gun control regulations have long been popular among the American public, yet reviled by lawmakers and gun lobby groups like the National Rifle Association.

    Data from the Pew Research Center in 2017 showed that overwhelming majorities of Americans favored barring people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns and closing the so-called "gun show loophole" that allows people to buy guns without background checks through private sales and gun shows.

    Another broadly popular measure is blocking people on the FBI's no-fly list from buying guns, though civil liberties groups have decried previous attempts to legislate the issue.

    The issue is more nuanced when it comes to legislating assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, with fewer than half of gun owners favoring an assault weapons ban but 77% of non-gun owners supporting it.

    SEE ALSO: How Americans really feel about gun control

    DON'T MISS: Banks are mulling a creative way to enforce gun control even if the US government doesn't make a single change

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    Mexican marines soldiers matamoros tamaulipas

    • A top Gulf cartel leader was captured at a home near the US-Mexico border early on Monday morning.
    • Less than a day later, residents in the area reported gunfire and other violent scenes.
    • The complex criminal environment in Mexico makes it hard to tell where things are going, but such disruptions in leadership have sparked violence in the past.

    Mexican marines captured a top leader in the Gulf cartel in northeast Mexico on Monday, just a few weeks after a high-level member of the rival Zetas cartel was captured in Mexico City.

    Jose Alfredo Cardenas, nicknamed "the Nephew" and "the Accountant," was arrested in Matamoros early on Monday. Officials said no shots were fired in the raid that also seized two military-grade weapons, ammunition, and some cocaine and marijuana. A group of armed men reportedly fled the scene.

    Mexican authorities tracked down Cardenas using wire intercepts, Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, told Business Insider. Cardenas was captured along with two other men while entering a house, added Vigil, who said additional weapons and documents were also seized.

    37-year-old Cardenas is the nephew of Osiel Cardenas Guillen, the Gulf cartel boss who was arrested in 2003, extradited to the US in 2007, and sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2010. The younger Cardenas became a cartel leader after Guillen's capture, and, according to the DEA's 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment, he is one of two main leaders in a cartel that has seen "rapid turnover in leadership."

    Mexican federal officials said that Cardenas — one of the country's most wanted criminals — moved between Matamoros, the nearby city of Brownsville in Texas, and Mexico state in central Mexico.

    Osiel Cardenas Guillen arrest Mexico Houston federal court

    The Gulf cartel has fragmented, with several factions now vying for influence in Tamaulipas, the cartel's traditional stronghold. The state is an important smuggling route for narcotics, migrants, and other illicit goods, and criminal groups there have expanded into kidnapping, extortion, resource theft, and other activities. Homicides in the state have risen each of the past three years, hitting 1,053 in 2017.

    "What has happened in Tamaulipas is we have had two big groups of organized crime that have fragmented, and now we have more than 20," Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a professor at George Mason University, told Business Insider at the end of January.

    "It's difficult to identify the number of cells that survive right now in the state and are still occupying or controlling different criminal activities," Correa-Cabrera, author of "Los Zetas Inc," said at the time. There are "different factions of the Gulf cartel and some factions of the Zetas" in other cities around the state.

    gulf cartel arrest

    Cardenas reportedly took control of a Gulf cartel faction in the area after the April 2017 killing of  Juan Manuel Loisa Salinas, known as "Comandante Toro," in Reynosa, a border city west of Matamoros. Mexican government sources also identified him as the Gulf cartel boss in Matamoros.

    A statement issued by the Mexican navy after Cardenas' arrested said, "presumably he was the leader of a criminal organization in the region."

    He was reportedly competing for control of the cartel with a rival group in the nearby Mexican city of Rio Bravo.

    By early Tuesday morning — less than 24 hours after Cardenas' capture — Matamoros residents were using social media to report gun battles in several areas of the city. "Matamoros under shootouts" and "precaution" were messages circulating with video recordings of the gunfire that appeared on social media.

    Some cars were reportedly left stranded after their tires punctured by spikes left on roads.

    Correa-Cabrera said that while it was too early to say definitively what provoked the clashes, they did appear related to Cardenas' arrest.

    Reynosa Matamoros Tamaulipas Mexico homicides

    After the mayorship was transferred from the conservative National Action Party and the center-right Institutional Revolutionary Party in late 2016, the situation in Matamoros appeared more coherent, and the Gulf cartel leader's capture may have disrupted some kind of pact that had been agreed upon, Correa-Cabrera told Business Insider on Tuesday.

    "I am not sure why they arrested Cardenas," she added. "It is interesting. We need to wait and see."

    Violence also broke out in Reynosa in the hours after the killing of Comandante Toro in April last year. Armed gunmen shut down parts of the city with road blockades, and the federal attorney general's office there came under fire several times. The months afterward also saw sustained, elevated violence.

    However, Correa-Cabrera stressed that the criminal dynamics in Reynosa and Tamaulipas are distinct, making it hard to predict what the fallout will be.

    "We are not dealing here with a pure 'kingpin strategy effect,' understood in the most traditional sense" as a fight between malefactors for control of the territory, Correa-Cabrera told Business Insider.

    Rather, a variety of actors with overlapping and sometimes shared interests are in Reynosa, she said, including federal forces, state authorities, and factions of different criminal groups. Paramilitary groups, made up of criminal and government forces acting in concert, may also be present. (There are at least 18 regional cartel leaders operating in northeast Mexico, according to El Universal.)

    Criminal elements and members of the local, municipal, and state governments in Tamaulipas have often developed symbiotic relationships. Changes in political power and shifts in cartel leadership have in some instances disrupted those ties, leading to more violence.

    "The situation in Reynosa is much more complex," Correa-Cabrera said. "The whole state is very complex."

    SEE ALSO: Brazil is taking an 'extreme measure' to confront crime in Rio — the first time it's done so since the country's dictatorship fell

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    NOW WATCH: The wives of El Chapo's henchmen reveal how they hid and spent $2 billion

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    lindsey vonn

    • Lindsey Vonn won bronze in what was likely her last Olympic downhill race on Wednesday.
    • Afterward, Vonn got choked up while discussing her late grandfather and her career.
    • Vonn, who will compete in the Alpine combined on Friday, called it a "fun ride."

    U.S. Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn won bronze in the downhill on Wednesday at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in what was likely her final Olympic race in the event.

    Vonn's only other Olympic gold came in the downhill in Vancouver in 2010.

    As the event wrapped up, as she sat in third, Vonn gave an interview to NBC and became emotional discussing her late grandfather, to whom she dedicated her Olympic performance. Vonn said she was hoping to win gold because of her grandfather, but said she still believed she had made him proud, as she choked up.

    "I never gave up, and I kept working hard and I am really proud of this medal," Vonn said.

    She also discussed returning from multiple injuries. Vonn missed the 2014 Olympics with a torn ACL. Most recently, she hurt her back in the 2017-18 World Cup and has had several other injuries in between the two Olympic games.

    "I gave it my best shot," she said. "I tried so hard and I worked my butt off. And I'm so proud to have competed with such amazing girls. My teammates have really supported me and we've helped each other. Most of us have been injured pretty severely. So, I'm really happy and proud to have been competing with them and have their support."

    Vonn is still set to compete in the Alpine combined on Friday, but is not as heavy of a medal-favorite as she was in the downhill. She did not finish in the event in Vancouver.

    "It's been a fun ride," Vonn said. As she choked up again, she said: "It's sad! It's my last downhill. I wish I could keep going.

    "I have so much fun. I love what I do. My body just probably can't take another four years."

    Watch the interview below:

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    Jared Kushner

    • Jared Kushner is reportedly pushing back on efforts to rein in the flow of information among White House staffers who do not have a full security clearance.
    • The effort by White House chief of staff John Kelly is seen as a potential challenge to Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, who has been the subject of an ongoing background investigation for more than a year.
    • Despite this, Kushner has enjoyed access to the same classified information President Donald Trump receives.

    Jared Kusnher is said to be resisting an internal push at the White House to clamp down on the flow of classified information among staffers who do not hold a full security clearance, The New York Times reported Tuesday night.

    The effort, led by White House chief of staff John Kelly is seen as a potential challenge to Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, who has been working with an interim security clearance because of an ongoing background investigation that has lasted more than a year.

    Despite the issues with his background check, Kushner has enjoyed access to some of the same classified information as Trump — much like the ousted staff secretary Rob Porter, who was shown the door earlier this month over multiple accusations of domestic abuse. Porter also had a temporary security clearance.

    Dozens of staffers in the White House are working without a full security clearance, according to multiple news reports. The matter has been a thorn in Kelly's side, most especially after the Porter incident, when the chief of staff gave conflicting answers about his knowledge of Porter's background-check issues.

    The fallout from that is what's prompting the overhaul, which Kelly signed off on last week. The matter led Trump and some of his close allies to privately question whether Kelly should keep his job. The White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted that Trump maintains full confidence in Kelly, but the apparent behind-the-scenes wrangling suggests that things are still in flux.

    As the Times reporters Julie Hirschfield Davis and Maggie Haberman wrote, Kushner has been "frustrated about the security clearance issue" and felt like Kelly "has targeted him personally."

    Kelly denied singling out Kushner, saying in a statement cited by The Times: "As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio." Kelly added that Kushner would still have access to information with the new security clearance process in place.

    The matter is no less fraught in a Trump-led West Wing that is frequently jostled by internal conflict. Even as Kelly seeks to restore a sense of order, the knives have been out for him among people who have Trump's ear inside and outside the White House.

    SEE ALSO: John Kelly signs off on a major overhaul of White House security clearance procedures

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    NOW WATCH: How to make America great — according to one of the three cofounders of Black Lives Matter

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    • BNP Paribas has figured out a strategy that helps investors make money following volatility spikes.
    • The market was recently jolted out of a period of complacency, and BNP says that it was a perfect example of the type of volatility increase that creates opportunity.

    When the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX) was awakened from its prolonged slumber earlier this month, the consensus was that it was a very bad thing for markets.

    This was largely due to the cottage industry that had cropped up with the sole purpose of making a quick buck by shorting the VIX. That short-volatility trade blew up when the VIX jolted higher, causing the collapse of two wildly popular exchange-traded products, which in turn worsened equity selling.

    But BNP Paribas argues that there was a profitable silver lining to the implosion — one that often presents itself following periods of considerable market turbulence. And the firm is here to help you make money using it.

    BNP's strategy is activated when two qualifications are met: (1) the US economy is not in a recession and (2) the VIX rises more than 3.5 standard deviations above its one-year rolling average.

    Once that occurs, the firm advises that traders enter a long-S&P 500 position the first time the VIX closes lower than the level when the signal first occurred. Since 1986, investors that abided by this strategy and held the trade for three months have made 5.2% on average, according to BNP data. And returns were positive for them 86% of the time.

    Screen Shot 2018 02 20 at 12.01.18 PM

    As the above chart shows, BNP's strategy has resulted in a positive return not just on a three-month time horizon, but also on a one- and six-month basis.

    Further, the first line of the table reflects the results of a trade that involves going long the S&P 500 five business days after the initial signal, while the third line shows a strategy that requires waiting until the VIX closes two standard deviations from the signal level. As you can see, they're both mostly profitable, but the middle approach — the one outlined above — is the most effective.

    Still, if the short-volatility blow-up is any indication, trading the VIX can be a tough task if you don't know what you're doing. But BNP's methodology clearly establishes a series of steps that has proven lucrative over the past three decades — and it's hard to argue with that.

    Screen Shot 2018 02 20 at 12.26.23 PM

    SEE ALSO: A new part of the market is melting down as panicked investors get another 'wake-up call'

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    NOW WATCH: Microsoft President Brad Smith says the US shouldn't get 'too isolationist'