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    bed bugs

    Bed bugs are the stuff of nightmares for many people. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other household pests that are just as unpleasant. Some home infestations can even put your life at risk.

    Here are a few household pests that are even worse than bed bugs.

    False widows have a shockingly painful bite.

    False widow spiders are a widespread pest in the UK but have recently made their way over to the US. In 2011, this venomous arachnidwas found in Ventura County, California, which marked its first appearance in the Western Hemisphere.

    False widows are named for their resemblance to the dangerous black widow spider.

    The Independent reports that their bites areabout as painful as wasp stings, though some people do suffer allergic reactions leading to serious symptoms such as chest pains and limb stiffness.

    A kissing bug can kill you 30 years after biting you.

    Kissing bugs are dark-colored insects with cone-shaped heads and flat bodies. They feed on humans and can carry a terrifying illness.

    Kissing bugs can also carry the potentially lethal protozoa Trypanosoma cruzi, also known as Chagas disease. Orkin cautions that a person can become infected with the Chagas parasites if they rub the bug’s feces into a break in their skin, such as a bite or scratch.

    According to the World Health Organization, Chagas disease can cause swelling in the lymph nodes, fever, headaches, and difficulty breathing. For most, the symptoms end after 8 to 12 weeks. For up to 30% of people, however, the disease can cause cardiac and digestive problems 10 to 30 years after the initial bite. This sometimes leads a sufferer to experience fatal heart failure decades after a kissing bug bite.

    Orkin notes thatChagas disease is extremely rare in the United States, but kissing bug infestations are possible.

    Woodworms are incredible destructive pests.

    Woodworms are the larval stage of various wood-devouring beetles, such as the furniture beetle and the deathwatch beetle.

    According to Rentokil, they love toeat their way through hours timbers and wooden furniture. These pests don’t bite humans, but they can seriously compromise the structural integrity of a building. Woodworm-infested homes have the potential to collapse.

    To keep these pesky larvae at bay,make sure your home is well-heated and dry to discourage woodworms from eating their way through damp timber. You can recognize the presence of woodworms by the distinctive “exit holes” they leave in beams and furniture.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Grocery shopping

    Grocery shopping is something most of us do on auto-pilot. Grabbing food staples at the store is such an everyday activity that it's hard to imagine the experience being very different.

    The where, when, and how, however, of grocery shopping actually varies a great deal from country to country.

    We usedNumbeo's cost of living calculator to compare the price of food across the globe and collected insights into what grocery shopping looks like around the world.

    You may want to wear gloves in Italian grocery stores.

    Grocery shopping in Italy is normally done in local stores, though outdoor markets are also popular spots to shop for food in big cities and more rural areas.

    According to Tripsavvy, it'scommon practice to don disposable plastic gloves to pick out your fruits and vegetables in a grocery store. Shoppers are also expected to weigh and label their own produce before they get to the checkout line.

    At outdoor markets, shoppers are generally not required to wear gloves but areexpected to indicate to the seller which items they wish to purchase, rather than picking them up directly. Italians also like to purchase fresh and cured meats at their local deli.

    In a large city like Rome, a gallon of milk costs an average of €4.26 ($5.21). You can find a bottle of mid-range wine for €5 ($5.84). A pound of local cheese will cost about €5.07, ($5.92).

    Grocery stores in Germany have restrictive hours.

    According to The German Way, most Germansdo their grocery shopping in chain stores such as Lidle, Aldo, Kaufland, and Edeka. Discount grocery stores are popular but tend to offer a more limited selection, while larger chain stores offer greater variety.  

    Many German grocery storesuse a coin deposit system to make sure all carts are returned to their proper place. This involves feeding a euro coin into slot on the handle of a grocery cart to release it for use and returning the cart to its place in order to retrieve your coin.

    Grocery stores are alsopopular places to return bottles for recycling due to the Pfand deposit program, which offers recyclers between €0.08 and €0.25 for each bottle returned.

    In general, German grocery stores in cities areclosed on Sundays and shut their doors at 8 p.m. Stores in smaller towns may have even more restrictive hours.

    If you're looking to pick up milk in a city like Berlin, expect to pay around€3.06 ($3.57) for a gallon. You'll also find beef to be about€5.35 ($6.24) per pound, while a half-liter bottle of domestic beer will cost approximately€0.77 ($0.90).

    Eggs and milk are not refrigerated in France.

    France has a wide range of grocery stores and supermarkets, including popular chains like Monoprix, Carrefour, Netto, and Auchan.

    According to Oui in France, mostgrocery stores open around 9 a.m. and close by 8 p.m. Large and small stores are closed on Sundays, and shops in small towns sometimes close for lunch and reopen in the afternoon. Shoppers are expected to bring their own bags and weigh their own produce before taking it to the register. Both milk and eggs are shelved at room temperature.

    Verily Mag reported that the French are more likely to shop daily rather than weekly and often head to their local bakery to pick up bread and pastries.

    In Lyon, a gallon of milk costs about€3.46 ($4.04) on average. You can grab a pound of local cheese for about€7.39 ($6.63) per pound. A pound of beef will cost you approximately€9.30 ($10.86).

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    anita hill

    • Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual misconduct, and it's not the first time in American history this has happened.
    • There are parallels between Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against Kavanaugh, and lawyer Anita Hill's 1991 testimony against then-nominee Clarence Thomas.
    • Here's what happened in both cases, what Hill says the Senate can do better this time around, and how the allegations against Kavanaugh could impact American politics for years to come.

    When President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in July, his confirmation seemed all but certain.

    A graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, he boasted experience in the Justice Department and the White House in addition to 12 years on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Other than a squabble over the release of some documents from his time in the Bush administration, and multiple interruptions from protesters, Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings went off without a hitch.

    That is, until a bombshell sexual assault allegation from the early 1980s surfaced against him, bringing the confirmation proceedings to a screeching halt.

    While such an event may seem unprecedented, a strikingly similar scenario unfolded 27 years ago during the confirmation process of Justice Clarence Thomas. Law professor Anita Hill was called into testify publicly in 1991 about allegations of sexual harassment she lodged against Thomas in a private FBI sit-down.

    An all-male panel of senators grilling Anita Hill over her allegations and attacking her credibility was largely perceived as sexist, and brought the issue of sexual harassment into the national consciousness, as well as inspired a generation of women to run for office.

    Here's what happened last time, and how the lasting effects of Hill's case could color Kavanaugh's chances of getting confirmed to the Supreme Court.

    A tale of 2 Judges — and 2 professors

    Anita Hill 1991

    The details of both situations have some similarities: both accusers are university professors who initially made their accusations of misconduct confidentially or anonymously, but were driven by a sense of civic duty to risk everything to come forward against powerful men.

    Christine Blasey-Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University and Stanford, accused a drunken 17-year old Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when she was 15 at a 1982 house party in suburban Maryland in a letter to her congresswoman Anna Eshoo. Eshoo then passed it along to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, in July.

    After two months, Feinstein referred the letter to the FBI, the content of which was then reported on by The Intercept. Investigative journalists Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer (who, coincidentally, co-wrote a book in the 1990s about the Anita Hill hearings), tracked down and wrote a story on Ford for the New Yorker while keeping her identity anonymous.

    On Sunday, Ford went public in an interview with the Washington Post's Emma Brown, putting a face and name to the allegations, and offering more details to back up her story.

    Kavanaugh vehemently denies having assaulted Ford or "anyone else," and said he is prepared to testify under oath to that effect.

    Hill's allegations against Thomas in 1991 were somewhat different in that they concerned a pattern of harassment and inappropriate behavior as opposed to one isolated alleged assault.

    During a private interview with the FBI, Hill accused Thomas of sexually harassing her and creating a hostile work environment over a number of years while she worked for him in the Department of Justice's Civil Rights division and at the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in the early 1980s.

    After the interview's contents were leaked to the press, Sen. Joe Biden, then the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, re-opened Thomas' confirmation hearings — and called for Hill to publicly testify, which she did in October 1991.

    "The most moving aspect of Hill's testimony was the vivid portrait she painted of the vulnerability, humiliation and frustration she experienced while working under such conditions,"TIME Magazine writer Jill Smolowe wrote of Hill's nearly 8 hours of testimony before the committee.

    "She spoke of her fear of being squeezed out of good assignments, losing her job, maybe even not being able to find any job at all within the Reagan Administration if she continued to resist Thomas' alleged overtures."

    Casting doubt on the women

    WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 06: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) presides over the third day of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    Even after the #MeToo movement has brought down dozens of high-profile men and sparked a national reckoning over sexual misconduct, there are striking similarities between how Ford is treated now and how Hill was treated 27 years ago.

    If Ford testifies, both women will have questioned by an all-male panel of GOP Senators. While there are now four women on the Judiciary Committee, they are all Democrats.

    In 1991, Republicans on the Committee pressed Hill on the most sexually explicit details of the alleged harassment, and sought to undermine her credibility at every turn.

    Why, they wondered, did she not report the alleged harassment at the time? Why did she take another job under Thomas at the EOEC after being harassed at the Justice Department? They pointed to Hill once giving Thomas a ride to the airport as evidence that she was lying about being harassed.

    Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who is still on the Judiciary Committee, even accused Hill of fabricating her testimony and adapting it from the book "The Exorcist."

    It wasn't only the Republicans who were criticized for how they handled the hearing. Biden came under fire for not calling multiple witnesses who had volunteered to testify in support of Hill's version of events as part of a deal with Republican leadership.

    "I wish I had been able to do more for Anita Hill," Biden told Teen Vogue in 2017. "I owe her an apology."

    Ford provided the Post with notes from a 2012 therapy session in which she discussed the alleged attack, and the results of a polygraph indicating she told the truth, (even though polygraph exams are not usually considered admissible evidence in a court of law), but that hasn't shielded her from numerous attacks on her credibility.

    Some Republican senators and commentators have zeroed in on Ford's lack of recollection of some of the key details on the alleged incident, like whose house the assault occurred at, doubting the year it happened, and her not speaking publicly about the incident for 35 years, to accuse her of lying about the entire incident.

    "Most women remember virtually everything about the circumstances of a sexual assault no matter how long ago,"Dennis Prager claimed in the National Review, an argument thoroughly debunked by substantive research that trauma psychologists and other scientists have conducted on repressed memories and post-traumatic stress.

    Similarly to how Hatch and Thomas accused Hill's testimony of being"contrived ... by special interest groups," and "slick lawyers," conservative Erick Erickson claimed Ford was somehow put up to falsely accuse Kavanaugh of assault by abortion rights groups concerned about his stance on the issue — a claim Thomas also lodged against Hill in his 2007 memoir.

    Both women have also been accused of suffering from mental illness or delusions. Some Thomas supporters accused Hill of suffering from "erotomania," a condition that causes people to have wild romantic or sexual delusions.

    Ed Whelan, Kavanaugh's former coworker at the Department of Justice, wondered on Twitter if Ford's "long course of psychotherapy included recovered-memory therapy, dubious method known to create false memories." (He has since deleted the tweet.) Another conservative commentator called her a "loon."

    When asked by reporters to comment on Ford's allegations against Kavanaugh on Monday, Hatch said, "the woman is probably mixed up."

    What Anita Hill thinks the Senate should do this time around

    Brett Kavanaugh

    The Senate Judiciary Committee now has a second chance to evaluate allegations of sexual misconduct against a Supreme Court nominee, and Hill laid out a number of suggestions for them in a Tuesday New York Times op-ed.

    "That the Senate Judiciary Committee still lacks a protocol for vetting sexual harassment and assault claims that surface during a confirmation hearing suggests that the committee has learned little from the Thomas hearing, much less the more recent #MeToo movement," she wrote.

    Hill argued the committee should designate "a neutral investigative body with experience in sexual misconduct cases" to do an independent probe of the alleged incident to produce the more reliable results and avoid any semblance of partisanship.

    She also advised the committee not to rush the hearings on the matter, arguing their scheduled date of hearing testimony from Kavanaugh and Ford on Monday is far too soon to adequately prepare for a hearing on such a serious matter.

    Ford and her lawyer agree. In a letter sent to Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and obtained by CNN on Tuesday night, Ford's lawyer requested that a thorough FBI investigation of the incident take place before her client will testify under oath.

    Hatch responded by claiming the FBI "does not do investigations like this", and said the judiciary committee would proceed as planned.

    Hill said on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday that the committee should "push the pause button" on the hearings until the FBI investigates.

    "Finally, refer to Christine Blasey Ford by her name," Hill wrote in her op-ed. "Dr. Blasey is not simply 'Judge Kavanaugh’s accuser.' Dr. Blasey is a human being with a life of her own. She deserves the respect of being addressed and treated as a whole person."

    A 2nd 'year of the woman'?

    year of the woman female senators 1992 Democratic National Convention

    Thomas was eventually confirmed to the Supreme Court by a narrow 52-48 vote.

    But the effects of Hill's testimony not only brought the issue of workplace sexual harassment into the mainstream, it also had a lasting impact on the make-up of Congress.

    The image of an all-male, all-white panel questioning Hill about the legitimacy of her experiences with harassment highlighted the lack of female representation in Congress, inspiring a new generation of women to take on the male-dominated institution.

    The year 1992 was termed the "Year of The Woman" due to the record-shattering number of women who ran for and won seats in Congress. Twenty-four women were elected to the House of Representatives for the first time, and the number of female US Senators tripled from two to six.

    This year, another record of 256 women have won primaries to advance to the congressional general elections in November. The sheer number of women running with the backdrop of the #MeToo movement could drive women — particularly college-educated suburban women who might not usually vote in midterm election — to the polls.

    "This year certainly has the potential to be another year of the woman," Laurel Harbridge-Yong, a political scientist at Northwestern University, told Business Insider.

    "To the extent the concerns around Kavanaugh are adequately handled or not, this could mobilize white suburban women, a really key segment of the electorate, to vote for Democratic congressional candidates."

    SEE ALSO: The woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault reportedly had to move out of her house and hire private security after receiving death threats

    DON'T MISS: Here's an evolving count of which senators are voting for Trump's Supreme Court pick

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Inside the Trump 'MAGA' hat factory

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    glass milk bottles

    Avoiding dairy for any reason can be more difficult than you think. Whether you have a milk allergy, are lactose intolerant, or simply wish to abstain from dairy products — virtually any time you want to buy a pre-made food product will require some serious label-reading to safely avoid any traces of dairy.

    We rounded up some surprising foods that you had no idea contained dairy. 

    Here are some dairy keywords to avoid when reading ingredient labels.

    According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the following ingredients should be avoided if you’re trying to cut dairy out of your diet:

    • Butter, butter fat, butter oil, ghee (which is a type of clarified butter), artificial butter flavor
    • Whole, low-fat, nonfat, condensed, evaporated, dry, or skim milk
    • Milk proteins or solids
    • Sour cream or sour cream solids
    • Yogurt, frozen yogurt, and ice cream
    • Cream or half-and-half
    • Casein, casein hydrolysates, caseinates, rennet casein
    • Whey
    • All types of cheese, including cottage cheese and items with powdered cheeses
    • Custards and puddings, unless they specifically state that they are dairy-free
    • Lactalbumin, lactoglobulin, lactoferrin, lactose, lactulose
    • Nisin and recaldent

    If you want to avoid having to carefully scrutinize ingredient labels, a safe bet to keep a dairy-free diet is to look for vegan products or kosher products — which often feature a K or a U in a circle and may also include the word “pareve,” according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.

    Now that we’ve covered some key items to avoid, here are some surprising hidden sources of dairy that you might not expect when you’re out shopping.

    Medications, vitamins, and supplements can contain hidden lactose.

    All three of these items need to get into your system reasonably quickly — so both taste and bioavailability are concerns. Enter lactose — a milk-based sugar, according to SF Gate — that is often found in birth control pills, other medications, and vitamin supplements.

    Desiree Nielsen is a Vancouver-based registered dietitian who spoke to Reader’s Digest Best Health and said,

    “[Lactose] acts as a filler or base, improves the drug’s bioavailability, and the taste of a quick dissolve tablet.”

    Chewing gum and many types of candy can contain milk products — which is bad news for your sweet tooth.

    In some cases, the name of the candy is a dead giveaway — milk chocolate, anyone? But others are sneakier.

    If you are a cook or baker, you might not expect something like nougat to contain dairy — because recipes for the homemade stuff involve egg whites, but no milk products.

    However, like many processed foods, dairy ingredients often sneak into the mix where you least expect them, according to WebMD.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    masontown pennsylvania shooting

    • Four people, including a police officer, are injured after a shooting at a judge's office in Pennsylvania, authorities said.
    • A police officer shot the gunman dead. Authorities said there's currently "no imminent threat" to the community.

    Four people, including one police officer, were shot Wednesday when a gunman opened fire at a Pennsylvania judge's office, police said.

    Pennsylvania State Police told reporters that a police officer shot the gunman dead after he began shooting inside the Masontown Borough Municipal Center around 2 p.m.

    They said the shooting occurred just outside District Judge Daniel Shimshock's office, and added that none of the victims had life-threatening injuries.

    WTAE reported the four victims were in "fair condition" at a local hospital. Officials said the police officer was being treated locally for a gunshot to the hand.

    Police said on Twitter that there's "no imminent threat" to the community, and that witnesses or people with information about the incident should contact authorities.

    Masontown is a southern Pennsylvania borough with a population of about 3,400. It's roughly 40 miles south of Pittsburgh.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    kylie jenner

    • Kylie Jenner recently wrote on Twitter that she "had cereal with milk for the first time"— and called the experience "life changing."
    • She did, however, post a photo of (what appears to be) cereal with milk on Instagram back in 2013.
    • This contradicts her previous claim.

    Kylie Jenner sent the internet into a tizzy when she claimed she tried putting milk in her cereal for the first time on Monday.

    It has since come to light, however, that the makeup mogul may have been mistaken.

    As TMZ originally reported, Jenner posted a photo of a bowl of cereal back in 2013, complete with (what appears to be) milk and fruit. 

    "He keeps me healthy," she captioned the snapshot, adding a strawberry emoji.

    he keeps me healthy 🍓

    A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on Apr 25, 2013 at 12:47pm PDT on

    TMZ noted that the bowl's contents are not perfectly clear from the grainy photo and vague caption. It's possible that the white substance is actually yogurt, not milk. 

    "But," TMZ writes, "yogurt leaves a residue on interior sides of the bowl, and this bowl looks clean on the sides."

    Stay tuned for updates on this shocking development.

    Representatives for Jenner didn't immediately respond to INSIDER's request for comment.

    Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Everything we know about Samsung’s foldable phone

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    Cristiano Ronaldo cries

    • Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off in the 29th minute of his first Champions League match with Juventus on an absurdly soft call.
    • It was Ronaldo's first red card in 154 career Champions League matches.
    • Ronaldo will be suspended for Juve's next Champions League match, and could potentially miss more time — possibly spoiling his highly anticipated return to Old Trafford set for October.


    Cristiano Ronaldo's Champions League debut with Juventus did not go as planned.

    Just 29 minutes into Juventus' group stage match against Valencia, Ronaldo was sent off with a red card after a brief altercation with a defender. Jeison Murillo had gone down in the box after some contact with Ronaldo, and the superstar striker encouraged him to get up with a tap on the head in frustration.

    Valencia's defense immediately reacted, and Ronaldo was eventually given a red card for his infraction. Given how early it was in the match and how minimal the contact was between Ronaldo and his defender, it's hard to argue that the punishment matched the crime.

    The match commentators were in disbelief with the call, repeatedly saying, "There is nothing in that!" while watching the replay.

    Ronaldo, understandably, was furious. It was his first red card in 154 Champions League matches.

    Luckily, Juventus was still able to pull out the win, quickly taking a 2-0 lead despite being down to ten men.

    The more significant concern though has yet to be decided. According to UEFA rules, a player that is sent off the pitch is required to serve at least a one-game suspension, which can be extended depending on the seriousness of the offense.

    If Ronaldo's suspension is capped at one game, things should be fine — Juventus can likely handle its match against BSC Young Boys without the superstar forward.

    But should Ronaldo be suspended a second game, it would spoil his highly anticipated return to Old Trafford to face off against his old club, Manchester United.

    After seeing Ronaldo's infraction, it's tough to believe that he'd be suspended for two matches. That said, it was also tough to believe that he was awarded a red card in the first place.

    SEE ALSO: Lionel Messi scored on an incredible free kick en route to netting a hat trick in Barcelona's first game of Champions League play

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What it takes to be an NFL referee

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    Unity Technologies CEO John Riccitiello speaks onstage during Day 1 of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 at Moscone Center on September 5, 2018 in San Francisco, California.

    • There's been lots of hype around virtual- and augmented-reality headsets in recent years — with some going so far as to say that they could replace the smartphone. To date, though, neither set of gadgets has caught on with mainstream consumers.
    • It's easy to understand why, said Unity Technologies CEO John Riccitiello in a recent interview with Business Insider.
    • Not only are such gadgets generally expensive and clunky, they lack compelling games and other experiences, Riccitiello said.
    • What's more, manufacturers have yet to back them with a major marketing push.

    If you ask John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity Technologies, it's no great mystery why virtual- and augmented-reality gadgets have thus far been duds with consumers despite all the hype surrounding them.

    You only have to contrast them with a successful game console, such as Sony's PlayStation 4, to get a sense of what's wrong.

    The PlayStation 4 has a price many consumers can afford, is well-designed and relatively easy to use right out of the box, and offers a slew of compelling games — a combination of features that none of the VR or AR headsets can tout, Ricciteillo, a longtime game industry executive before joining Unity, told Business Insider in a recent interview.

    Perhaps just as importantly, Sony launched its game console with a marketing blitz unlike any seen from the AR or VR headset makers. 

    Unity's software is used widely across the video gaming industry to build video games that work across console, PC, and smartphone platforms. It's also used to make virtual- and augmented-reality games and experiences, including "Pokémon Go."

    "What we've had is a sizzle and a whimper and a little bit of smoke, but no one's done a heavy launch," said Riccitiello on the state of AR and VR. "And I think it's because, wisely, they recognize they're not at the form factor and the price to justify it," he says. 

    Companies have been working on AR and VR for years with little payoff

    Many technology experts consider augmented- and virtual-reality headsets to be among the leading candidates to replace smartphones as consumers' primary computing devices. The technologies both involve displaying computer-generated images. With augmented reality, those images are layered over views of the real world; with virtual reality, users are completely immersed in artificially generated images.

    sergey brin google glassElectronics makers and programmers have been working on both technologies for decades, and the first virtual-reality headset hit the market some 30 years ago. In recent years, a growing number of such gadgets has hit the shelves, including from major companies including Google, Sony, Facebook, and Microsoft. But thus far, neither augmented- nor virtual-reality gadgets has found mainstream appeal.

    Cost is a big reason for that, especially on the AR side of things, Riccitiello said. Magic Leap One, perhaps the most hyped AR device to the hit the market so far, costs $2,300, while Microsoft's HoloLens, another major entrant, starts at $3,000.

    But even VR headsets can be pricey. Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, the two most notable and advanced virtual-reality gadgets on the market, cost $400 and $500, respectively, and both require users to connect them to a powerful PC.

    By contrast, the base model of the PlayStation 4 now costs $300. And users only need to connect it to their TV to start playing it.

    "We're going to need to see these things come down in price," Riccitiello said.

    The headsets so far have often been clunky or heavy

    Another big factor holding the devices back from mass adoption is their design, he said. Game consoles work right out of the box, and they're standalone devices; they don't need to be connected to any other gadget. And they're relatively easy and comfortable to use; typically, you just hold a wireless controller in your hand.

    The Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality headset is demonstrated on stage during the 2015 Microsoft Build Conference on April 29, 2015 at Moscone Center in San Francisco, California. Thousands are expected to attend the annual developer conference which runs through May 1.You can't say the same about most of the headsets on the market. Both the Rift and the Vive have to be tethered to PCs, while the Magic Leap One has to be connected to a hockey-puck-sized processing unit clipped to your belt or carried in a pocket. Rift and Vive can feel bulky and unwieldy; so too can HoloLens.

    "You need something that works right out of the box," he said. "And it needs to meet a certain ergonomic design. It can't be 20 pounds of helmet on your head."

    Another big shortcoming of the headsets thus far is the content that's been available for them, Riccitiello said. There's just not been any games or other applications for them that have been must-haves for most consumers.

    "You need great content to sell the hardware, but great makers of content won't make the content until the hardware's installed in a large enough base to justify the investment," he said.

    Headset makers to date really haven't backed them with marketing

    A woman checks a pair of Vive Virtual Reality goggles, produced by Taiwan's HTC, during the Gamescom 2015 fair in Cologne, Germany August 5, 2015.But the biggest factor may be simply the fact that the makers of the various headsets haven't given the devices the kind of marketing and other support they'd need to have a major launch.

    When Sony or Nintendo or Microsoft launches a console, they invest millions, even billions of dollars on things such as luring developers to make games for their new machines and advertising them widely to consumers. Nothing like that has been done in support of the augmented and reality headsets, he said.

    Still, Riccitiello's a believer that such gadgets will eventually take off with consumers. Somewhere in the next two to four years, once the hardware makers are able to perfect the technology, get prices down, and build up compelling content, one of them will mount a major consumer push, and the market will take off, he said.

    "The thing is, on the consumer side, people are waiting for magic to happen," he said. "Magic doesn't happen. It's engineered."

    SEE ALSO: One of the leading companies in the video-game business is gunning to take over the enterprise software industry

    SEE ALSO: One of the most important startups in video games just lost its CFO — right after raising $145 million in new funds

    SEE ALSO: Apple and Google's app-store businesses are coming under pressure — and the companies could end up losing billions of dollars

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Fox Disney and Comcast Sky 4x3

    • A sealed one-day auction between Comcast and Fox for Sky might commence Saturday.
    • These types of auctions are extremely rare with only two in the past decade.
    • Analysts predict that Comcast will win in a bidding war for Sky.

    The battle for British broadcaster Sky may be in its final days. Comcast and 21st Century Fox, which have competing bids out for Sky, have until Friday to drop out of bidding before a larger clash of the media titans begins.

    The bidding process may well end after a single-day auction starting on Saturday, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

    The British Takeover Panel has a standard auction timeframe of five days, and bidding can be sealed or open. One-day sealed auctions are so rare there have been only two in the past decade, Morningstar analyst Allan Nichols told Business Insider.

    "This is very rare in UK M&A," Alex DeGroote, an independent media analyst, told Business Insider. "And a suitably dramatic end to this saga."

    A potential bidding war

    Once an auction begins there are few potential outcomes, according to analysts.

    Neither company could choose to increase their current bids for Sky. Comcast's current offer is £14.75 per share, valuing Sky at £26 billion ($34 billion), while Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox bid is £14 a share.

    Or, both companies could bid in an auction. "The market is betting on a bidding war," Nichols said. The shares for Sky have traded much higher than that of either offer, indicating that the market predicts a competitive bidding process that drives the purchase price higher.

    Both analysts said they expect Comcast to win in an auction scenario.

    "Comcast is overall positioned better to win," DeGroote said. "It has saved its firepower for this Sky auction, it has more balance sheet headroom and it can derive material operating synergies in a combination."

    A final outcome is that shareholders could reject any offer on the table. They have until October 6 to do so. If they reject the offers any future offers would have to be on hold for a period of six months. 

    The battle for Sky is linked to an earlier fight between Disney and Comcast for some 21st Century Fox assets. In July, Comcast dropped out of that bidding, allowing Disney to win Murdoch's entertainment assets plus the 39% of Sky Fox already owned. If Fox wins out in an auction, it will control Sky. If Comcast wins, it will own the 61% not owned by Fox.

    Sky is an attractive asset to both Comcast and Disney as they work to expand their international footprints. The British pay-TV business serves 23 million customers, mostly direct-broadcast-satellite subscribers, in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.

    And it has a strong content portfolio with exclusive rights through 2020 to run HBO shows— like Game of Thrones and Westworld — across Europe, and has the majority of Premier League football TV rights and exclusive rights to the German Bundesliga.

    SEE ALSO: 'It's a signal Verizon is not seriously interested in major investments': Insiders say Verizon's choice of Guru Gowrappan to run Oath reveals the future of Verizon's ad business

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    • President Donald Trump recently suggested to the Spanish government it should build a wall in the Sahara desert to address the migration crisis, according to Spain's foreign minister Josep Borrell
    • When Spanish diplomats told Trump building a wall across the Sahara desert would be no easy feat the president said, "The Sahara border can’t be bigger than our border with Mexico."
    • Spain has seen over 30,000 migrants and refugees arrive by sea so far in 2018, making it the top destination for migrants arriving via the Mediterranean. 

    President Donald Trump's obsession with building walls has apparently gone global. 

    Trump recently suggested to the Spanish government it should build a wall in the Sahara desert to address the migration crisis, according to Spain's foreign minister Josep Borrell

    Spain has experienced a surge in migration, particularly over the past year as thousands of people attempt to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean in search of a better life in Europe. 

    The European country has seen over 30,000 migrants and refugees arrive by sea so far in 2018, making Spain the top destination for migrants arriving via the Mediterranean. Moroccans represent the largest single nationality arriving in Spain, but people are coming from other countries in Africa as well.

    Nearly 2,000 people have died attempting to make the journey across the sea to Europe in 2018 so far. 

    Trump famously called for a wall to be built along the US-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration to the US during his 2016 presidential campaign, and now apparently feels it can help Europe as well. 

    When Spanish diplomats told Trump building a wall across the Sahara desert would be no easy feat the president said, "The Sahara border can’t be bigger than our border with Mexico," according to Borrell. 

    The Sahara desert is roughly 3,000 miles long. Comparatively, the US-Mexico border spans roughly 2,000 miles. 

    Beyond the sheer size of the Sahara, the other challenge to building such a wall is the fact Spain would need permission to do so from the African countries the massive desert stretches across. 

    Borrell spoke of Trump's Sahara wall suggestion at a lunch in Madrid this week, but did not clarify when the president made these remarks. But The Guardian reports it could've been when the Spanish foreign minister accompanied King Felipe and Queen Letizia to the White House in June.

    When asked for more details on Borrell's comments, a spokesman for the foreign ministry told The Guardian, "We can confirm that’s what the minister said, but we won’t be making any further comment on the minister’s remarks."

    It seems Trump struggles to avoid discussing his desired border wall in almost any context, and on Tuesday said a recent visit to a 9/11 memorial in Pennsylvania gave him more inspiration for his vision

    "They built this gorgeous wall where the plane went down in Pennsylvania. Shanksville. And I was there. I made the speech. And it’s sort of beautiful, what they did is incredible," Trump told Hill.TV in an interview on Tuesday. "They have a series of walls, I’m saying, 'It’s like perfect.' So, so, we are pushing very hard."

    Trump's plan for a border wall along the US-Mexico border has encountered many obstacles in Congress. The president has repeatedly claimed that construction on the wall is underway, but this is inaccurate

    SEE ALSO: Trump said his visit to the Flight 93 memorial for 9/11 victims gave him inspiration for his border wall

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    • Two Boston men came into possession of the Boston Red Sox' division championship banner.
    • The duo was hoping to be rewarded for finding the banner, but instead got nothing from the Red Sox.
    • They know people.

    A bizarre series of events left two Boston men in possession of the Boston Red Sox' 2018 division title banner before the team even clinched the American League East title.

    Friends Louie Iacuzzi and James Aramal were driving on McGrath Highway in Somerville Wednesday morning when they came across the banner, which had fallen off a vendor’s delivery truck and obstructed multiple lanes of traffic. Iacuzzi "ran through [expletive], like, three cars," to take the banner home, he told the Boston Globe.

    Then he and Aramal began to strategize about their next move.

    "My dad’s telling me to put it on eBay and sell it for a lot of money, but I want to give it to the original owner," Iacuzzi said. "We want to return it, we’re trying to do the right thing, but I’m not just going to hand it to them, know what I mean? Financial [compensation], maybe some tickets, we want something. We don’t know what we want. We want to return it, 100%, but we would like to get something."

    "We’re working, too," Aramal added. "I mean, my man had to run across three lanes of traffic."

    They even have "connections," noting they could have sold it to a third party, but didn't.

    Check out this video of the duo taken at Iacuzzi's home in Malden:

    The duo received criticism after Tony Lafuente, owner of the company that made the banner, accused them of stealing it outright. Iacuzzi was furious about the allegations:

    "They lost the [expletive], they’re the ones that [expletive] up," he said. "I found it, I’m trying to do the right thing ... I was never looking for money or fame or anything. I wanted to return it ever since I seen it.”

    According to reports from the Boston Globe that came later in the day, Iacuzzi and Aramal had no luck negotiating with the Red Sox. Franchise officials confirmed that they had the banner in their possession as of Wednesday afternoon, and a spokeswoman for the team said that the men had not been compensated in any way for returning the item.

    Regardless, Iacuzzi seems to view picking up the banner as an act of service to his hometown.

    "If I didn’t pick it up, a hundred people would have ran over it," he said. "I don’t want a million dollars. I don’t need a million dollars. All I wanted was to maybe bring my family, my friends to a [expletive] baseball game, maybe meet a player. ... The flag is back home with the Boston Red Sox."

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    jimmy butler

    • Jimmy Butler's trade demand is the latest example of the dilemma all NBA teams face with star players who are approaching free agency.
    • Teams must evaluate whether it's worth trading for a player they can sign in free agency or if it's worth giving up assets for a one-year "rental" of that player.
    • There is also risk in not trading for a player because that player could be dealt elsewhere, then re-sign with that team, as the Los Angeles Lakers saw with Paul George.

    Jimmy Butler has reportedly requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, and it's going to resurface one of the biggest dilemmas around the NBA.

    NBA players increasingly take their futures into their own hands in what The Ringer's Bill Simmons has acutely titled "pre-agency."

    For NBA teams with star players, discussions about the future have to start at least two years before their contracts are up. If teams have an inkling they won't be able to re-sign their stars, they have to consider shopping them, knowing their trade value will only decrease the closer their contract gets to the end.

    In recent years, we have seen more and more star players drop hints, or outright request trades from their teams to both make their situation at the moment more enjoyable and better position themselves for the future. We've seen Kyrie Irving request to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers, Paul George hint that he would abandon the Indiana Pacers for the Los Angeles Lakers, and Kawhi Leonard request to be sent to L.A. Now it's Butler's turn.

    The problem for the incumbent teams is nothing new — there's always a risk in letting a star player hit free agency. Will they re-sign or will they walk, leaving you with nothing to show for them? The Cavs learned this the hard way with LeBron James in 2010 (though trading him before free agency was out of the question).

    But it's also becoming a problem for other teams around the league. Do you trade for a player who's going to hit free agency soon, giving up assets you could otherwise keep by signing that player? Do you risk not acquiring the player, only to see him go elsewhere?

    paul georgeThe Lakers experienced this firsthand. George was heavily rumored to be eyeing the Lakers in 2018 free agency when the Pacers traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017. George ended up enjoying his time in OKC and re-signing there on four-year, $134 million deal this summer. The Lakers never made true bids to the Pacers for George, and then they never got him at all.

    The Lakers are facing a similar situation with Leonard. Leonard made it clear he wanted to leave the Spurs for the Lakers, so the Spurs demanded a ransom for him. The Lakers balked at the price, thinking they could sign him next summer when he becomes a free agent, and the Spurs sent Leonard to the Toronto Raptors instead. There's still a chance Leonard joins the Lakers next offseason, but there's also a chance he follows George's path and re-signs with the Raptors.

    One league source told Business Insider this offseason that teams may have become "emboldened" to try to trade for star players with only one year on their deals, thanks to the Thunder's success with George. It takes unique circumstances — belief in team culture, expendable assets, a desperation to win — but the roadmap is there. Shower that player with love, envelop him in your culture, and enjoy some success on the floor, and they might just re-sign.

    The Knicks, Nets, and Clippers — the three teams Butler would reportedly sign extensions with if he were traded — all now must debate if it's worth it to trade for Butler when he could become a free agent in July. The other 26 teams have to decide if a potential rental is worthwhile. And the Wolves, meanwhile, must deal with the reality of losing a star player barely a year after acquiring him.

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    Brett Kavanaugh

    • Christine Blasey Ford's lawyer put out a new statement responding to Republican calls for Ford to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee about her claims that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her decades ago.
    • Senate Republicans have been clamoring to get Ford in front of the committee before lawmakers vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court.
    • "Dr. Ford was reluctantly thrust into the public spotlight only two days ago," Ford's attorney said in a statement Wednesday. "She is currently unable to go home, and is receiving ongoing threats to her and her family's safety. Fairness and respect dictate that she should have time to deal with this."
    • President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to the bench. He stands by his choice. Kavanaugh has denied Ford's allegations.

    Christine Blasey Ford's lawyer responded to Republican calls for Ford to testify to the Senate about her claims that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her decades ago.

    Senate Republicans have been clamoring to get Ford in front of the Judiciary Committee before lawmakers vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court next week.

    "Dr. Ford was reluctantly thrust into the public spotlight only two days ago," the statement from Ford's lawyer read. "She is currently unable to go home, and is receiving ongoing threats to her and her family's safety. Fairness and respect dictate that she should have time to deal with this."

    President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and said he stands by his choice. Kavanaugh has denied Ford's allegations.

    The stakes are high. Republicans have moved to get Kavanaugh confirmed before the November 6 midterm election, where Democrats are expected to flip a number of GOP-held seats in the Senate.

    Read the statement from Christine Blasey Ford's lawyer below:

    "Dr. Ford was reluctantly thrust into the public spotlight only two days ago. She is currently unable to go home, and is receiving ongoing threats to her and her family's safety. Fairness and respect dictate that she should have time to deal with this.
    She continues to believe that a full non-partisan investigation of this matter is needed and she is willing to cooperate with the Committee.
    However, the Committee's stated plan to move forward with a hearing that has only two witnesses is not a fair or good faith investigation; there are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding.
    The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the Committee discovering the truth."

     Read all of the developments on Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh here:

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    Brett Kavanaugh

    • The attorney for Christine Blasey Ford, a 51-year-old research psychologist and professor who accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s, called for additional witnesses to testify at a hearing planned for Monday.
    • Attorney Lisa Banks argued that her client, a mother of two teenagers, was "thrust into the public spotlight" after going public with her allegation against Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court.
    • One key witness in the allegation appeared reluctant to discuss the incident or has no memory of it.

    The attorney for Christine Blasey Ford, a 51-year-old research psychologist and professor who accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s, claimed that the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing scheduled for Monday felt rushed and called for additional witnesses to testify.

    Attorney Lisa Banks argued that her client, a mother of two teenagers, was "thrust into the public spotlight" after going public with her allegation against Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court.

    Ford said Kavanaugh was "stumbling drunk" during a small party in high school, at which he pinned her to a bed, groped her over her clothes, and covered her mouth with his hand when she started to scream.

    After coming forward and having her identity revealed, Ford has reportedly moved out of her house and hired private security after receiving death threats and vulgar messages on social media.

    "Dr. Ford was reluctantly thrust into the public spotlight only two days ago," a statement from Banks said. "She is currently unable to go home, and is receiving ongoing threats to her and her family's safety."

    "Fairness and respect for her situation dictate that she should have time to deal with this," Banks said. "She continues to believe that a full non-partisan investigation of this matter is needed and she is willing to cooperate with the Committee."

    Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, gave Ford's lawyers a Friday deadline to answer whether or not their client will testify.

    Grassley noted he had offered Ford several venues for her testimony, including a public or private setting, or an option for her to speak to his staffers in California, where she lives, according to committee spokesman Garrett Ventry.

    Kavanaugh, who has categorically denied the claims, said he was willing to testify.

    While Republican lawmakers are willing to hear testimony from Ford, they have demurred Democratic lawmakers and Ford's request for an FBI investigation. A vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation was delayed this week. Some Republicans have urged their colleagues to get past Ford's allegations and proceed with a vote.

    Banks said the "rush to a hearing is unnecessary," and called for the Judiciary Committee to summon additional witnesses from the alleged incident.

    "However, the Committee's stated plan to move forward with a hearing that has only two witnesses is not a fair or good faith investigation; there are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding," Banks said in the statement.

    Key witnesses have appeared reluctant to discuss the incident, or claimed to have no memory of it. Mark Judge, a former high school classmate of Kavanaugh's who became implicated in the allegation, has signaled he is unwilling to appear before the Judiciary Committee.

    It was unclear whether Ford would testify, regardless of whether the FBI makes the unlikely move to launch a formal investigation into the allegation, or whether the Judiciary Committee calls for more witnesses. Ford's attorneys were not immediately available for comment on Wednesday evening.

    SEE ALSO: The woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault reportedly had to move out of her house and hire private security after receiving death threats

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    President Barack Obama with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2016.

    • Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York, is considering a run for the presidency in 2020 as a centrist Democrat, despite an energized left wing and a crowded field.  
    • Many Democratic strategists say Bloomberg has no path to victory. 
    • "It's hard to imagine someone more out of touch with the Democratic base," said one operative. 

    Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media mogul and former New York mayor, is seriously considering a run for the presidency in 2020 as a centrist Democrat, despite an energized left wing and a crowded field.  

    The former Republican, who's spending $80 million largely on Democratic candidates in this year's midterm elections, has received a warm welcome into the Democratic fold from party leaders, but strategists on the left say a presidential bid would likely be dead on arrival. 

    Despite his newfound allegiance to the Democratic Party, Bloomberg holds an array of positions anathema to the progressive left.

    While an influential champion of gun control and environmental protection policies, Bloomberg defends stop-and-frisk policing (ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2013), breaks with progressive Democrats on bank regulation, and believes the movement against sexual misconduct has gone too far in some cases, according to a recent interview he did with The New York Times.

    The 2020 primary is looking to be a competitive battle for the left — half a dozen likely presidential contenders in the Senate have spent the last few years catering to the party's energized base with increasingly progressive policy proposals and rhetoric. Some Democratic operatives say Bloomberg couldn't be farther from what progressives are looking for.

    "It's hard to imagine someone more out of touch with the Democratic base than a billionaire who defends racist policing tactics, advocates going soft on Wall Street, and dismisses the significance of the #MeToo movement," said one New York-based Democratic strategist, who requested anonymity to avoid jeopardizing relations with fellow Democrats. "Even millions of dollars couldn't make those viewpoints palatable to Democratic voters."

    Other liberal Democrats expressed the same sentiment, in slightly softer terms. 

    "I think it's great that the Democratic presidential primary is shaping up to be robust, but at the same time I feel as though he may not be completely in touch with where the Democratic Party is right now," said Carolyn Fiddler, communications director for the progressive advocacy group Daily Kos.

    Bloomberg has long been called out of touch — both on the left and the right. And this isn't the first time he's mulled a presidential run. He considered running as an independent in 2016 — an idea the GOP laughed off, citing his positions on guns and abortion as far too liberal to appeal to a primary electorate. He ultimately decided not to run after determining he had no path to victory. 

    "His trial balloon went over like the Hindenburg," the Democratic strategist said.

    But others in the party would like a moderate in Bloomberg's mold on the general election ticket, although they concede the chances of that happening are low. 

    "In a general election he would do exceptionally well, he would pull in a lot of independents, he would pull in a lot of moderates," said Adrienne Elrod, a former spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton's campaign, said of Bloomberg, adding, "The left and progressives are louder than they've ever been. They're vocal, they're energized, they're motivated, and they want someone whose ideologies align with theirs." 

    SEE ALSO: Michael Bloomberg is weighing a 2020 run as a centrist Democrat

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    Jeff Bezos

    • Anand Giridharadas, author of Winners Take All, shares his thoughts on Bezos' latest charity announcement.
    • In light of the recent tech backlash, he said, Bezos has an opportunity to become the first "woke" billionaire philanthropist.
    • To establish a new paradigm of corporate giving, the CEO must be willing to acknowledge his shortcomings.

    In June 2017, Jeff Bezos issued a vague solicitation to his followers on Twitter: "I'm thinking about a philanthropy strategy that is the opposite of how I mostly spend my time — working on the long term," he wrote. "If you have ideas, just reply to this tweet."

    More than a year went by before Bezos finally revealed his plan for a $2 billion charity fund led by him and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos. Once he did, the Bezos Day One Fund was hounded by critics as a strategic move to distract from a recent string of bad press.

    Shortly before the announcement, Business Insider published an article exposing the poor working conditions of the company's delivery drivers, who recounted a number of alleged abuses, from missing wages and lack of overtime pay to urinating in bottles in order to keep to their delivery schedules.

    "Jeff Bezos can tout himself as a great philanthropist, yet it will not absolve him of responsibility if Amazon workers continue to be afraid to take toilet breaks and days off sick because they fear disciplinary action at work," writer James Bloodworth told the BBC.

    This distraction method is part of what Anand Giridharadas, a former consultant turned author, calls the "moral glow" of tech companies. In his recent book, Winners Take All, Giridharadas argues that many wealthy tech firms use philanthropy as a sheen to cover the depth of their influence — or the extent of their abuses. 

    With his new fund, Bezos has a chance to avoid this trap.

    In the wake of the CEO's announcement, Giridharadas took to Twitter to share his thoughts about the billionaire's philanthropic endeavor. "Givers often ask what they can do," Giridharadas said. "But imagine if Jeff Bezos set an example of asking what is rarely asked: What am I already doing? How am I involved in the problems? What could I do to solve them for all?"

    It's a question worth considering as billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg and David Rubenstein garner criticism for setting near-impossible goals for their philanthropies, or hindering government from solving public issues. 

    For now, Bezos' two main goals seem innocent of both offenses: He plans to develop a support network for homeless families and establish free preschools in low-income communities. 

    According to Giridharadas, this gives him a chance to pioneer a new model of philanthropy — one that helps solve the problems he's been instrumental in creating. That starts not with scaling education programs or homeless initiatives, but with addressing the root of these issues, such as zoning, taxation, or unfair pay practices.

    Giridharadas cites the Supreme Court case San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriquez, which allowed Texas schools to be partially funded by property taxes, creating disparities in the quality of public education. By challenging these policies, he said, Bezos could have a meaningful impact on local communities.

    That's a tall order, given the CEO's history of hoarding his personal fortune. But in an age of increasing skepticism of powerful institutions, Bezos must contend with a new adversary: a growing sense of public scrutiny.

    According to Giridharadas, Bezos is the first mega-giver to enter the arena of big philanthropy in the wake of a national backlash against tech companies — one that likely contributed to the rise of populist figures like Donald Trump. As such, Bezos is probably aware of the fact that the eyes of the world are upon him, and citizens are eager to hold him accountable. 

    "I just hope he would bring to his giving the same daring and irreverence and weirdness that he brought to building Amazon," said Giridharadas. "What would be disappointing is if his giving was one of conventions and clichés, while his money-making was done with such imagination."

    If Bezos breaks from the standard of corporate philanthropy, he could ignite a paradigm shift in the industry. Giridharadas refers to this new type of billionaire as the "woke giver," or someone who recognizes their complicity in the world's problems and makes an effort to right these wrongs, even if it comes at his or her expense. 

    One prime example is Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, whom Giridharadas interviewed for Winners Take All. As a black, gay man born into poverty, Walker remains keenly aware of the issues he's attempting to solve, as well as the the ability of large corporations to exacerbate inequality.

    "I think Darren is able to have that double consciousness of being in that [board] room and thinking, 'This room really could make a difference, and this is the kind of room that throughout history has used the idea of making a difference to screw people,'" Giridharadas said.

    While he isn't certain that Bezos can strike the same balance, Giridharadas is cautiously optimistic. It will boil down to whether Bezos recognizes that there's more to charity than self-image and improving the bottom line. And it will mean looking inward before looking outward. 

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    DEA plane crash

    • A Drug Enforcement Agency plane crash-landed in the Sugar Land, Texas, area on Wednesday, injuring one of the three special agents on board.
    • The group had been conducting a flight training exercise, DEA Houston Division special agent Wendell Campbell told Business Insider on Wednesday night. The injured agent was taken to a hospital and later released.
    • The single-engine Cessna plane collided with several vehicles as it went down on Voss Road near Highway 6. Video footage from the local NBC affiliate KPRC-TV showed one of those damaged vehicles is a white Tesla Model X.
    • Tesla CEO Elon Musk reacted to the incident on Twitter: "Wow, glad they're ok!"

    A Drug Enforcement Agency plane made an emergency landing in the Sugar Land, Texas, area on Wednesday, injuring one of the three special agents on board.

    The group had been conducting a flight training exercise, DEA Houston Division special agent Wendell Campbell told Business Insider on the phone Wednesday night.

    "The plane had some mechanical difficulties and they had to do an emergency landing," Campbell said, adding that the injured agent was taken to a hospital and later released.

    The single-engine Cessna plane collided with several vehicles as it went down on Voss Road near Highway 6. Video footage from the local NBC affiliate KPRC-TV showed one of those damaged vehicles is a white Tesla Model X.

    plane crash tesla model x

    Tesla CEO Elon Musk reacted to the incident on Twitter: "Wow, glad they're ok!"

    The malfunctioning plane downed some power lines, but no one on the ground was injured, KPRC-TV reported.

    Fort Bend County Texas sheriff Troy Nehls told the Houston Chronicle: "Imagine you're just driving down Voss Road in Fort Bend County and all the sudden an aircraft strikes your vehicle. That would be enough to put me in cardiac arrest."

    "We are very fortunate that this was not much more catastrophic than what it was," Nehls said.

    Watch the aftermath of the incident via KPRC-TV below:

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    robert jackson SEC commissioner

    • Stock exchanges have been for-profit entities for more than a decade, and it's a situation critics say has created many conflicts of interest.
    • In a speech on Wednesday, SEC commissioner Robert J. Jackson, Jr. unloaded on the exchanges, highlighting four "puzzling practices" that he thinks are unfair to the average investor.
    • Jackson outlines four reforms he's taking steps to enact, with the ultimate goal of creating a fairer trading marketplace for everyday investors.

    Stock exchanges are just as interested in turning a profit as the investors who transact on their platforms. It's a reality that most traders have simply accepted and incorporated into their daily routine.

    But Robert J. Jackson, Jr. is trying to do something to challenge that status quo.

    Appointed by President Donald Trump earlier this year to fill a Democratic seat at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Jackson is making it his express mission to highlight the conflicts that arise when exchanges are for-profit entities. And — perhaps more importantly — he's offering solutions.

    Jackson addressed these issues on Wednesday at an event co-sponsored by the George Mason University Law & Economics Center and the Healthy Markets Association, an investor-oriented nonprofit.

    Near the beginning of his speech, Jackson highlighted a not-so-distant past where exchanges were collectively owned nonprofits. He laments a shift that took place about a decade ago, which saw them transform into profit-hungry businesses.

    "Their profit motive gives exchanges every reason to structure stock markets in a way that maximizes their rents," said Jackson. "And every time exchanges raise prices, that money comes out of investors' pockets. American investors are paying for it, one microsecond a time."

    Jackson went on to list four "puzzling practices that look nothing like the competitive marketplaces investors deserve." They are as follows:

    1) The two-tiered system for stock-price information

    Jackson notes that there are two data feeds for stock information: the fast private feeds that exchanges sell, and the slower one that's available to the public.

    He finds that exchanges have underinvested in the public feed, simply because it's not helping to pad their bottom line like the private one.

    "It’s like letting Barnes & Noble run our public libraries," said Jackson. "Nobody should be surprised to find that our libraries don’t have enough books."

    2) Legal limits on liability when investors are harmed

    Jackson argues that the exchanges often try to posture themselves as regulators, rather than for-profit operators. And that, in turn, helps them wiggle out of legal liability.

    In his mind, enforcement agencies like the SEC are still too easy on the exchanges.

    "Treating for-profit exchanges with not-for-profit kid gloves has allowed stock exchanges to operate, in many respects, above the law," said Jackson. "Holding firms responsible for their actions is one way to make sure that corporations are careful when they expose people to risk."

    3) The structure of stock exchanges and the price of connectivity

    Jackson notes that 12 of the 13 US stock exchanges are owned by just three companies. He argues that this consolidation is done with one ultimate goal in mind: to have greater control over pricing.

    "One reason our exchanges do this is so they can charge investors to connect to each exchange," he said. "That, of course, raises the concern that exchanges will charge investors too much to connect, secure in the knowledge that our rules, not market dynamics or the quality of their product, help them keep prices high."

    4) Payments exchanges make to brokers

    Jackson says the rules that have been established to ensure the best execution of trades are actually vulnerable to conflicts of interest that harm investors in the end.

    "When a broker places an order on behalf of a customer, we expect the broker to send the order to the exchange that is likely to get the best price for their customers," said Jackson. "But to nobody’s surprise, research shows that brokers very often send their orders to the exchange that gives the broker the biggest rebate."

    Mike Williams, executive director of the Equity Markets Association, issued the following statement as a response to Jackson's speech:

    "US exchanges are the most heavily regulated, transparent and trusted participants in our national equity trading infrastructure, and today provide more valuable, efficient and resilient trading and data services, at the lowest relative cost to investors, than at any time in history."

    Jackson's proposed reforms

    The arguments outlined above may seem daunting, but Jackson has some ideas of how to right the ship. He notes that he has some support from within the SEC, which should aid him in his quest to reform the exchanges. His proposed reforms include:

    1) A pilot study to test the effects of rebates

    In the spring, the SEC unanimously approved a pilot study to assess how rebates impact market conditions. Jackson notes that the initiative, against which exchanges have "fought mightily," will provide valuable insight around how markets behave without rebates.

    "I think the time has come for the SEC and investors to know the facts about rebates and other incentives," he said.

    2) Enhanced transparency

    Jackson proposes exchanges start disclosing revenue figures in more straightforward fashion. He says that raising investor awareness on the subject will be a crucial step.

    It "would go a long way in giving investors a clearer view regarding the costs they pay to invest in America’s public companies," he said.

    3) Roundtable discussions with other high-ranking officials

    Jackson says he's planning to work closely with Brett Redfearn, who's served as the SEC's Director of the Division of Trading and Markets since October 2017. He says these types of roundtable discussions will help keep the actions of exchanges in check.

    "It is time for the Commission to have a market-wide conversation about how exchanges make their rules and prices," he said.

    4) A review of exchange immunity and limits on liability

    This is an extension of puzzling practice no. 2, listed above. Jackson thinks it's unfair that exchanges are essentially able to write their own rules, then be exempt from legal liability.

    "The exchanges cannot have it both ways — both claiming that business considerations limit the degree to which they can regulate public companies while making broad claims to regulatory immunity," said Jackson.

    SEE ALSO: The inside story of how an old-school Scottish firm became an early investor in many of Silicon Valley's most prized unicorns, and made a killing in the process

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    Wolf of Wall Street

    • Federal prosecutors have charged three men in connection with an alleged $364 million Ponzi scheme that could have more than 400 victims nationwide. 
    • The men were indicted on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering.
    • The indictment alleges that the three men took $73 million of investors’ funds "to purchase and renovate high end homes in Maryland, Texas, Nevada, and Florida, purchase luxury automobiles, jewelry, boats, and a share in a jet plane, gamble $25 million at casinos, and support a lavish lifestyle."

    A federal grand jury has indicted three men on charges related to an alleged $364 million ponzi scheme.

    The three alleged fraudsters — Kevin B. Merrill, Jay B. Ledford and Cameron Jezierski — promised to pay investors significant profits from the purchase and resale of consumer debt portfolios, but in fact, they "touted their purported investment expertise to siphon millions of dollars from unsuspecting investors,"according to the SEC's complaint

    A press release from the Department of Justice US Attorney’s Office in the District of Maryland said: 

    "The indictment alleges that Merrill, Ledford, and Jezierski personally enriched themselves and concealed their diversion of $73 million of investors’ funds to purchase and renovate high end homes in Maryland, Texas, Nevada, and Florida, purchase luxury automobiles, jewelry, boats, and a share in a jet plane, gamble $25 million at casinos, and support a lavish lifestyle.

    The men were charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering, according to the Department of Justice. The victims included small business owners, restauranteurs, bankers, talent agents, professional athletes, and financial advisors. 

    "We allege that the defendants engaged in a brazen fraud, deceiving investors to perpetuate their wrongdoing and line their pockets with ill-gotten gains," said Kelly L. Gibson, Associate Regional Director of the SEC's Philadelphia Regional Office. "Investors should be warned that low-risk, high-return investments that never lose should be a red flag."

    According to the SEC, Ledford misappropriated at least $40 million. That includes the transfer of at least $17 million to personal bank accounts, and the purchase of: "a $368,000 Ferrari, a $330,000 seven-carat diamond ring, and a $168,000 23-carat diamond bracelet, while transferring $13 million to casinos."

    Merrill misappropriated at least $45 million, according to the SEC. The SEC said: 

    "He transferred over $7 million to his personal bank accounts, spent $10.2 million on at least 25 high-end automobiles (including a 2008 Bugatti Veyron, a 2014 Pagani Huayra Diablo, a 2014 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, a 2017 Rolls Royce Dawn, and multiple other models made by Ferrari and Lamborghini), $5.5 million toward the purchase of a house in Naples, Florida, over $2 million for home renovations, $500,000 for an interest in a Gulfstream 200 private jet, a $100,000 club membership in Naples, $350,000 on a boat, and transferring approximately $1 million to casinos.

    Attorneys for the three men were not listed in court documents.

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    Alaska Airlines cabin redesign

    • Alaska Airlines is only major US carriers to have a frequent flyer program which still offers mile-for-mile redeemable miles without spending component.
    • The airline sees its frequent flyer program as a valuable weapon against rivals such as American, Delta, and United.
    • Alaska hopes to use the program's generous reward offers as a way to convert prospective customers into loyal repeat customers. 

    In recent years, airlines across the industry have worked to optimize their frequent flyer programs to balance rewards for those who fly the most and those who spend the most money.

    In most cases, tweaks to the system have added mechanisms to account for dollars spent with the airline in addition to the total mileage flown. 

    For most passengers, the changes have resulted in less generous frequent flyer programs. 

    The only major US airline to buck this trend is Alaska Airlines which has not factored spending into ints frequent flyer mileage formula. Instead, you earn however many miles you fly on Alaska. 

    "The fact that we do mile-for-mile and we have our companion fare (the program is) so generous," Alaska Airlines managing director of marketing and advertising, Natalie Bowman told Business Insider.

    (Alaska's companion fare allows holders of the airline's credit cards to purchase one round-trip ticket every year to anywhere in its route network for $121.)

    This year, both US News and noted travel blog The Points Guy named Alaska's program the best in the US. 

    As a result, the frequent flier program has become a valuable weapon against larger full-service carriers such as American, United, and Delta.

    "Alaska Airlines has to go above and beyond its rivals because it doesn't have the network diversity of rivals," Raymond James & Associates senior vice president of equity research, Savi Syth, told Business Insider.

    Alaska Airlines Virgin MergerIn addition, Syth noted that Alaska's decision to not feature a revenue component is due to the fact that it caters to a slightly different clientele than its rivals which are focused on high-spending business traveling "road warriors." 

    With the acquisition of Virgin America, Alaska Airlines has firmly cemented its intention to become the carrier of choice for the West Coast of the United States. 

    However, Alaska's larger rivals won't back down so easily.

    Delta invaded Alaska Air's home turf in 2014 when it added Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to its network of hubs. 

    Alaska secondary hubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco are just as competitive. United is a major player at SFO while all three major legacy carriers have hubs at LAX.

    Alaska Airlines Boeing 737For that reason, the airline's mileage program has become a key part of Alaska's business strategy in California.

    "The travel mindset in California is that you take weekend trips on a regular basis," Bowman said. "It's not such a big deal to fly from LA to San Francisco a couple of times a quarter."

    "So what we've tried to do is show just how a few of those trips can earn you free travel on Alaska must faster than with any other airline," Bowman added. 

    Alaska's goal is to use the generous rewards program to turn prospective customers into loyal repeat customers.

    SEE ALSO: Alaska Airlines exec reveals how it’s going to add basic economy without repeating the mistakes of Delta, American, and United

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