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Researchers have identified a possible case of COVID-19 reinfection in Nevada, study suggests

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A lab technician holds a culture test.
A lab technician holds a culture test.
  • Researchers reported the first possible case of COVID-19 reinfection in the US after a 25-year-old man in Nevada tested positive a second time, Reuters reported on Friday.
  • That finding was revealed in a study that has not yet been reviewed by outside experts, the newswire service said.
  • The man reportedly developed more severe symptoms of the virus during the second infection. 
  • This week, a case of coronavirus reinfection was also reported in Hong Kong as well as in Belgium and the Netherlands.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Researchers reported the first possible case of COVID-19 reinfection in the US after a 25-year-old man in Nevada tested positive a second time, Reuters reported on Friday. That finding was revealed in a study that has not yet been reviewed by outside experts, the newswire service said.

According to the researchers, the man seems to be the first confirmed case of coronavirus reinfection in the US. 

On Thursday, researchers published an online preprint of a study describing a patient living in Reno, Nevada, who contracted COVID-19 in April after reporting mild symptoms. 

In May, the man got sick again, developing more severe symptoms of the virus, the report said.

The genetic sequencing of the virus showed that the man had been infected with a strain that exhibited slight differences from the first infection, demonstrating that he in fact had been reinfected, researchers said.

 

The circumstances around the man's purported reinfection are not clear, but researchers suggested that the immune system, the virus, or a combination of both could be the determining factor. 

"The evidence so far suggests that if you've been infected and recovered, then you're protected for some period of time," Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute told NBC News. "We don't know how long, and we're going to find individual cases of people for whom that's not true."

On Monday, a 33-year-old man was confirmed as the first coronavirus reinfection case after traveling from Hong Kong to Spain. Two more reinfection cases were reported by European scientists the following day. One in Belgium and another in the Netherlands. 

"You'd expect the second time around people to have much milder or ideally no symptoms," Jha told NBC. The immune system should be able to more strongly respond to the virus a second time and the Hong Kong reinfection case was "completely consistent with that."

However, with more severe symptoms the second time around, the man reinfected in Nevada presents more concerning case.

"After one recovers from COVID-19, we still do not know how much immunity is built up, how long it may last, or how well antibodies play a role in protection against a reinfection," Director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory Mark Pandori said in a press release on Thursday. 

A single case of reinfection, however, does not indicate that this case can be generalized, Pandori added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has a new plan for reopening businesses in the state after COVID-19 cases surged following an initial reopen attempt months earlier

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gavin newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom announces new criteria related to coronavirus hospitalizations and testing that could allow counties to open faster than the state, during a news conference at Mustards Grill in Napa, Calif., Monday May 18, 2020. Newsom says the new criteria could apply to 53 of the state's 58 counties.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom showcased a new and more robust reopening strategy for the state on Friday. 
  • The new plan is made up of four tiers and requires counties to stay in a tier for at least three weeks before they can move on to a less restrictive tier. 
  • Tiers are ranked by the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests and the number of new cases. 
  • California saw a resurgence of cases following the reopening of businesses that began on May 8, which prompted Newsom to later impose new measures to curb the spread of the virus. 
  • As of Thursday, the state reported a total of 688,858 COVID-19 cases with 12,690 deaths.  
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a revised reopening plan for the state on Friday designed to correct some of the mistakes made during California's initial reopening attempt in May. 

The new plan is made up of four tiers and requires counties to show consistent progress in stemming transmission of the coronavirus before they can advance to the next tier of reopening. 

"We're going to be more stubborn this time," Newsom said during a news conference Friday in Sacramento. "This more stringent, but we believe more steady approach."

Each county must at least remain in each of the tiers, which are ranked by the percentage of positive tests and the number of new cases before they can go on to the next tier. 

"To move forward, a county must meet the next tier's criteria for two consecutive weeks. If a county's metrics worsen for two consecutive weeks, it will be assigned a more restrictive tier," the announcement reads.  

Activities and services like restaurant dining, religious gatherings, working out in gyms, and going to movie theaters will still be limited to outdoors-only in the vast majority of counties. 

The Los Angeles Times reported hair salons and barbershops will be able to reopen statewide on Monday if they follow social distancing guidelines, require employees to wear masks, and abide by other health-related mandates.

The tier system is also color-coded and is as follows:

  • Tier 1, widespread transmission (Purple): Counties with more than seven daily new cases per 100,000 residents or higher than 8% positivity rate. In this stage, most nonessential indoor business operations are closed. 
  • Tier 2, substantial transmission (Red): Counties with 4 to 7 daily new cases per 100,000 residents or 5 to 8% positivity rate. In this stage, some nonessential indoor businesses are closed.
  • Tier 3, moderate transmission (Orange): Counties with 1 to 3.9 daily new cases per 100,000 or 2 to 4.9% positivity rate. In this stage, some indoor business operations open with modifications. 
  • Tier 4, minimal transmission (Yellow): Counties with less than 1 daily new case per 100,000 or less than 2% positivity rate. In this stage, most indoor business operations open with modifications.

The local ABC News affiliate KFSN reported that, as of Friday, 38 counties were categorized as purple, nine as red, eight as orange, and three as yellow.

The outlet highlighted that counties would have to meet the criteria for a given tier for two consecutive weeks before transitioning to a tier that further eases restrictions.

The Times reported that the new guidelines could also impact the reopening of schools. Schools will be granted more leeway to reopen in-person learning if their counties reach less-risky tiers. 

California saw a resurgence of cases following the reopening of businesses that began on May 8. As of Thursday, the state reported a total of 688,858 COVID-19 cases with 12,690 deaths.  

On May 8, "low-risk" businesses like bookstores, jewelry stores, toy stores, and clothing stores were allowed to reopen as part of a statewide four-phase plan

By July, Newsom had implemented new orders that impacted the vast majority of the state to address the resurgence of COVID-19 cases. 

At the end of June, Newsom ordered bars and nightlife to close in seven counties. A few days later, he prohibited indoor activities at restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, card rooms, zoos, and museums in 19 counties.  

"I want to remind you the governor talked about this 'emergency brake' that if we see hospital numbers starting to really increase, that the ICU in a community is becoming overwhelmed ... then we will work with that county to make more immediate changes and pause, and maybe even take a step back,"  Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's Health and Human Services secretary, said Friday during a news conference highlighting the new reopening measures. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

AI experts doubt Amazon's new Halo wearable can accurately judge the emotion in your voice, and worry about the privacy risks

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Halo App and Halo Band
Amazon's wearable "Halo" wristband and accompanying app.
  • Amazon launched its new wearable, Halo, on Thursday. It comes with a feature called "Amazon Tone" which analyzes the emotion in your voice to help users "better understand how they may sound to others."
  • Amazon says Tone uses machine learning to analyze the users' voice and tell them how they sound throughout the day.
  • AI experts told Business Insider it's bold of Amazon to claim an algorithm is capable of accurately interpreting the emotion in someone's voice.
  • They also said the feature raises some troubling privacy problems.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Amazon on Thursday launched Amazon Halo, a wearable band to compete with FitBit and Apple Watch. Like its competitors, Halo can track heart rate and sleep patterns, but it's also looking to differentiate itself with a peculiar feature: judging your emotional state from your tone of voice.

"Amazon Tone" claims to tell you how you sound to other people. It uses "machine learning to analyze energy and positivity in a customer's voice so they can better understand how they may sound to others, helping improve their communication and relationships," Amazon's press release for Halo reads.

To give an example, Amazon's chief medical officer Maulik Majmudar said Tone might give you feedback such as: "In the morning you sounded calm, delighted, and warm." According to Majmudar, Tone analyzes vocal qualities like your "pitch, intensity, tempo, and rhythm" to tell you how it thinks you sound to other people.

Experts that Business Insider spoke to are dubious that an algorithm could accurately analyze something as complex as human emotion — and they are also worried that Tone data could end up with third parties.

Experts doubt an algorithm can capture the nuance of human speech

"I have my doubts that current technology is able to decipher the very complex human code of communication and the inner workings of emotion," said Dr Sandra Wachter, associate professor in AI ethics at the University of Oxford.

"How we use our voice and language is greatly impacted by social expectation, culture and customs. Expecting an algorithm to be able to read and understand all of those subtleties seems more like an aspirational endeavour," she said.

Wachter added that claiming the algorithm can tell you how other people are judging your voice further muddies the waters.

"Here the machine has to understand how someone speaks (and what they say) AND infer how someone else understands and interprets these words. This is an even more complex task because you have to read two minds. An algorithm as a mediator or interpreter seems very odd, I doubt that a system (at least at this point) is able to crack this complex social code," she said.

Mozilla fellow Frederike Kaltheuner agreed that voice analysis has inherent limitations. Voice recognition systems have also historically struggled with different kinds of voices, she said. "Accuracy is typically lower for people who speak with an accent or who are speaking in a second language."

Amazon says Tone isn't a privacy risk. Experts aren't so sure.

Amazon says it has made the Tone feature opt-in for Halo owners. Once you switch it on, it runs in the background, recording short snippets of your voice throughout the day for analysis. There's also an option to turn it on for specific conversations, up to 30 minutes in length.

Amazon says all this data is kept safe and secure, with all the processing done locally on your phone, which then deletes the data. "Tone speech samples are never sent to the cloud, which means nobody ever hears them, and you have full control of your voice data," Majmudar wrote.

Amazon's insistence that human employees won't listen to any of Tone's recordings seems to allude to the time Amazon, along with the other major companies, was caught in a scandal after reports revealed that sensitive Alexa recordings were being sent to human contractors for review.

Halo Tone
Amazon Tone will tell you in the Halo app how it thinks you sound.

But experts say that even without human beings listening to the audio Tone records, there are significant privacy implications.

Privacy policy expert Nakeema Stefflbauer told Business Insider that Halo could be a preamble to Amazon getting into insurance tech. "My first impression is that it's almost as if Amazon is moving as fast as possible to get ahead of public disclosures about its own forays into the insurtech space," said Stefflbauer.

"I am alarmed when I hear about this type of assessment being recorded, because, while I see zero benefit from it, employers definitely might. Insurers definitely might. Public administrators overseeing the issue of benefits (such as for unemployment) definitely might," she added. 

"The ultimate sign to me that you as the customer aren't the ultimate target of the data collected is that Amazon already has partnerships with insurers like John Hancock and medical records companies like Cerner," Stefflbauer added.

John Hancock announced Thursday it would be the first life insurer to integrate with Amazon Halo. "Starting this fall, all John Hancock Vitality customers will be able to link the Amazon Halo Band to the program to earn Vitality Points for the small, everyday steps they take to try to live a longer, healthier life," the insurance firm said in a press statement.

Kaltheuner said it's good that the Tone feature is opt-in, but anonymized data from Halo could still be shared in bulk with third parties. "Even if it's in aggregate and anonymous, it might not be something you want your watch to do," she said.

"Our emotions are one of the most intimate and personal aspects of our personality"

Chris Gilliard, an expert on surveillance and privacy at the Digital Pedagogy Lab, told Business Insider he found Amazon's privacy claims unconvincing.

"Amazon felt the heat when it was revealed that actual humans were listening to Alexa recordings, so this is their effort to short circuit that particular critique, but to say that these systems will be 'private' stretches the meaning of that word beyond recognition," he said.

Wachter said that if, as Amazon claims, an algorithm was capable of accurately analyzing the emotion in people's voices, it could pose a potential human rights problem.

"Our thoughts and emotions are protected under human rights law for example the freedom of expression and the right to privacy," said Wachter.

"Our emotions and thoughts are one of the most intimate and personal aspects of our personality. In addition, we are often not able to control our emotions. Our inner thoughts and emotions are at the same time very important to form opinions and express those. This is one of the reasons why human rights law does not allow any intrusion on them.

"Therefore, it is very important that this barrier is not intruded, and that this frontier is respected," she added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The US economy needs more stimulus to slash the risk of a 'double dip' recession, former Fed official says

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Unemployment, job fair
People wait in line to enter a job fair in New York.

  • US officials may need to ramp up fiscal stimulus to avoid a "double-dip" recession, former Atlanta Fed president Dennis Lockhart told CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia" on Friday.
  • If authorities fail to control the virus and that results in further economic pain, a second downturn could be on the cards, Lockhart said.
  • However, the Federal Reserve has already cut interest rates to almost zero and indicated they will remain low for a while, and can't make "dramatic increases" to its asset purchases, he continued.
  • "If there's going to be an effective effort to really ward off a worst-case scenario, particularly for portions of the American public that are most vulnerable, then it's going to come from the fiscal side," Lockhart added.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US economy needs more fiscal stimulus to cut the risk of a "double-dip" recession, Dennis Lockhart, the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, told CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia" on Friday.

"If things go badly with the management of the virus and there's more cascading ... then yes, it's possible we have a double dip," the former central banker said. "I don't think that's probably the base case, but I think it's still possible."

Read more: MORGAN STANLEY: Buy these 12 underappreciated stocks that offer strong profit growth and are due for a surge

Lockhart, who served as the Atlanta Fed's president for a decade between 2007 and 2017, highlighted the one million initial jobless claims for the week to August 22 as possible evidence of a worsening backdrop. The Commerce Department also reported on Thursday a record 31.7% annualized GDP decline in the second quarter.

Fiscal-policy measures — such as boosting government spending on infrastructure, mailing out stimulus checks to households, and cutting taxes — may be the only way to stave off a second downturn, Lockhart said.

Authorities can't rely on monetary policy as the Federal Reserve has already slashed rates to near zero and signaled they will stay low for a while, and doesn't have the scope for "dramatic increases" in asset purchases, he added.

Read more: 'Basically one mass manipulation': A market expert unloads on the central bank-driven 'failure' of the modern financial system — and says another stock meltdown is likely coming

"If there's going to be an effective effort to really ward off a worst-case scenario, particularly for portions of the American public that are most vulnerable, then it's going to come from the fiscal side," Lockhart said.

"Fiscal action is the most appropriate economic action at this time and we need it," he added.

Read more: Chris Mayer wrote the book on how to make 100 times your money with a single stock. He gives an in-depth assessment of the latest company that 'checks all my boxes.'

Read the original article on Business Insider

Warren Buffett's 90th birthday is on Sunday. Here are 5 of the legendary investor's best birthday stories.

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Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett talks to reporters while holding an ice cream at a trade show during the company's annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska May 3, 2014.
  • Warren Buffett's 90th birthday is on Sunday.
  • The billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO has a lot to celebrate, including his lucrative Apple bet, charity work, and remarkable career.
  • Here are five of Buffett's best comments and stories about birthdays, which involve Berkshire-owned See's Candies, Geico, and Nebraska Furniture Mart as well as two birthday parties.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Warren Buffett turns 90 on Sunday, August 30.

The legendary investor and Berkshire Hathaway boss, already the oldest and longest-serving CEO of a S&P 500 company, has plenty to celebrate:

  • The so-called "Oracle of Omaha" took Berkshire's reins in 1965 and has grown it into a $500 billion conglomerate that owns scores of businesses including See's Candies, Geico, Dairy Queen, Duracell, NetJets, PacifiCorp, Precision Castparts, and the BNSF railroad.
  • Berkshire's stock portfolio includes a 5.7% stake in Apple worth $123 billion at the last count, a 12% stake in Bank of America valued at $27 billion, and billion-dollar positions in Coca-Cola, Kraft Heinz, JPMorgan, and other blue-chip companies.
  • The Berkshire chief has inspired countless investors and managers including Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, Virgin Galactic chairman Chamath Palihapitiya, and Pershing Square CEO Bill Ackman.
  • Buffett has taken part in dozens of high-profile deals such as bailing out Goldman Sachs, General Electric, and Harley-Davidson during the financial crisis, and helping to finance Mars' takeover of Wrigley around the same time.
  • He has gifted $37 billion to philanthropic organizations in the past 14 years. Through the Giving Pledge, which he launched with Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010, he has also secured commitments from dozens of the world's wealthiest people to give at least half their fortunes to good causes.
  • Buffett continues to move markets and spark conversations. Berkshire's dumping of its airline holdings in April drew criticism from President Donald Trump, while slashing its bank holdings and making its first investment in a gold miner last quarter raised a lot of eyebrows in the investment community.

In recognition of Buffett turning 90, here are five of his best comments and stories about birthdays:

1. Aiming for 100

Geico, one of Buffett's oldest and most lucrative investments, has surpassed rivals such as Progressive and Allstate in terms of premium volumes over the years. Buffett wants the auto insurer to be number one in 10 years' time.

"On August 30, 2030 — my 100th birthday — I plan to announce that Geico has taken over the top spot, " Buffett said in his 2015 shareholder letter. "Mark your calendar."

Buffett reiterated his goal at Berkshire's 2016 annual meeting, according to a transcript on Sentieo, a financial-research site.

"I hope on my 100th birthday that the Geico people announce to me that they passed State Farm," he said. "But I have to do my share on that, too, by getting to 100."

2. Huggins' Law

Buffett and his business partner, Charlie Munger, acquired See's Candies for $25 million in 1972 and immediately put Chuck Huggins in charge.

In his 1999 shareholder letter, Buffett credited Huggins' "fanatical insistence on both product quality and friendly service" for See's generating $857 million in pre-tax income since Berkshire took over.

See's pre-tax profit in millions was about 10% of Huggins' age when he took over aged 46, Buffett said in the letter. That ratio soared to 100% by the time he turned 74, the investor continued.

"Having discovered this mathematical relationship — let's call it Huggins' Law — Charlie and I now become giddy at the mere thought of Chuck's birthday," he joked.

3. Buying a furniture store

Buffett received a particularly nice birthday gift in 1983 when Mrs B, the 89-year-old owner of Nebraska Furniture Mart, agreed to sell the company to him.

"I think back to August 30, 1983 — my birthday — when I went to see Mrs B (Rose Blumkin), carrying a one and a quarter-page purchase proposal for NFM that I had drafted," he recalled in his 2013 shareholder letter.

"Mrs B accepted my offer without changing a word, and we completed the deal without the involvement of investment bankers or lawyers," Buffett continued.

"Though the company's financial statements were unaudited, I had no worries," he added. "Mrs B simply told me what was what, and her word was good enough for me."

4. Business at a party

Buffett shared an example of Berkshire's "carefully crafted and sophisticated acquisition strategy" in his 1996 shareholder letter.

The investor tried to get out of attending the 40th birthday party of his nephew's wife, Jane Rogers, but agreed to go after learning he would be sitting next to Jane's dad, Roy Dinsdale.

During the party, Dinsdale revealed he had attended a directors' meeting at Kansas Bankers Surety, an insurance firm that Buffett had long admired. Buffett told Dinsdale to let him know if the company ever came up for purchase.

Buffett received a letter from Dinsdale a couple of weeks later that contained KBS's financial information. He called Dinsdale the next day to offer $75 million for the company, and the pair soon struck a deal.

"I'm now scheming to get invited to Jane's next party," Buffett joked.

If anyone owns a company that meets Berkshire's requirements "and if I fail to make the next birthday party you attend ... give me a call," he added.

5. 'I'm really good at this'

Buffett famously hires and trusts top-notch managers to run Berkshire's various businesses, freeing him to focus on allocating capital across the company.

He illustrated the point in his 1990 shareholder letter, using a story about his granddaughter Emily's fourth birthday party a few months earlier.

Beemer the Clown asked Emily to wave a magic wand over a box of wonders.

"Loose handkerchiefs went in and, upon a magisterial wave by Emily, emerged knotted," Buffett said. "After four such transformations, each more amazing than its predecessor, Emily was unable to contain herself."

"Her face aglow, she exulted: 'Gee, I'm really good at this."

"That sums up my contribution to the performance of Berkshire's business magicians," Buffett added, listing several superstars including Mrs B's family and Huggins.

"They deserve your applause."

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President Trump's sister brands Ivanka Trump a 'mini-Donald' and calls Eric 'a moron' in new secret tapes

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President Trump's sister, Maryanne Trump (L), Ivanka and Eric Trump (R).
  • President Trump's sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, called Ivanka Trump a "mini-Donald" in the latest recordings made public by the president's niece, Mary Trump.
  • Barry is heard criticizing Ivanka for posting an Instagram picture of her and one of her children on the same day that the Trump administration reportedly was separating migrant children from their families in 2018.
  • Barry also says Trump's son, Eric, has become "the moron publicly." 
  • In an earlier recording, Barry described her brother as a liar and an egomaniac.
  • Mary Trump, who is the daughter of the president's older brother Fred Trump Jr., appeared on MSNBC's "The ReidOut" to discuss the latest revelations.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Trump's niece, Mary Trump, released a new series of secret recordings with the president's sister on Friday, saying Ivanka Trump is a "mini-Donald" and Eric Trump's"a moron."

Mary Trump, who is the daughter of the president's older brother Fred Trump Jr., appeared on MSNBC's "The ReidOut" to discuss the latest revelations.

The 55-year-old recently published a book titled "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man" and has been releasing audio clips of conversations she's had with family members over the years.

In the recording provided to MSNBC, Maryanne Trump Barry criticizes Ivanka for her decision to post an Instagram picture of her and one of her children on the same day it was reported that the Trump administration was separating migrant children from their families at the border in 2018.

"When that damn Ivanka puts this picture of the Madonna and child on Instagram when the big news of the day was how kids are being ripped from their families," Barry says in the clip, according to MSNBC.

"I couldn't blame – I'd never heard of Samantha Bee before. I couldn't blame what she said," Barry added.

Barry appeared to be referring to comedian Samantha Bee, who called Ivanka a "feckless c---" for posting the picture at the time.

Bee, who made the comments on her show "Full Frontal," later apologized, saying she had "crossed a line," according to Deadline.

My ♥️

A post shared by Ivanka Trump (@ivankatrump) on May 27, 2018 at 9:07am PDT

In the recording, Barry continues to take aim at Ivanka but also had strong words for the president's third child, Eric Trump.

"Meanwhile, Eric's become the moron publicly. Ivanka gives a s---. She's all about her," Barry said, according to MSNBC.

In the recording, Mary Trump can be heard replying: "Yeah, she's a mini-Donald."

To which Barry responded: "She's a mini-Donald, but yet he's besotted with her. He always has been. She's always been his favorite."

The latest series of recordings comes only a week after Mary Trump released an audio clip, in which Barry said her brother had "no principles." The recording was first published by The Washington Post.

donald trump maryanne trump barry
Donald Trump (L) is pictured with his sister Maryanne Trump Barry as they adjourn for lunch during a public inquiry over his plans to build a golf resort near Aberdeen, at the Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference centre, Scotland, on June 10, 2008.

Friday's clips included more scathing comments on Trump. 

"And then you get Donald who won't do anything for anybody unless it's going to inure to his — I mean, he won't do any — publicly," she said, according to MSNBC.

"I mean, if you — anything he did, he says, "Look what I've done. Aren't I wonderful?" And he's as tight as a duck's a**. Just like dad was, really," she added.

In an earlier recording, Barry described her brother as a liar and an egomaniac in a series of conversations published last week by The Washington Post.

When asked why her aunt had never said any of this before, Mary Trump told MSNBC that Barry didn't publicly criticize Trump's work in office because she "subscribes to the same notion of family loyalty that her siblings do."

Mary Trump began recording her conversations with Barry in 2018 to catch her family members in a lie over the value of the family's estate, her spokesman Chris Bastardi told The Post.

As The Post noted, it's legal in New York state to record a conversation, so long as at least one participant gives consent.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Researchers at the University of Arizona say they stopped a coronavirus outbreak before it spread by testing students' poop

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University of Arizona students attend class.
  • Researchers at the University of Arizona say they may have prevented a coronavirus outbreak on campus by using wastewater analysis to track down students with COVID-19.
  • Wastewater-based epidemiology relies on measuring viral particles in sewage to assess the health of a community. 
  • The scientists hope other campuses and communities might be able to use the technique to contain outbreaks. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Dr. Ian Pepper has spent years studying other people's poop. 

His lab, the University of Arizona's Water & Energy Sustainable Technology Center, uses chemical tests to analyze pollutants, viruses, and other particles in sewage.

Recently, Pepper and his colleagues have been trying to trace and prevent coronavirus outbreaks using this method of wastewater-based epidemiology. They've been tracking coronavirus particles in Arizonans' sewage since March.

This week, their poop testing seems to have helped to contain a coronavirus outbreak in their own backyard: at the University of Arizona. 

The university began in-person classes on Monday. Before students arrived, Pepper and his team set up a system to test the wastewater coming from about 20 buildings on campus, including dorms.

university of arizona college student moves in during pandemic
A University of Arizona student moves into a dorm.

By Tuesday, Pepper's wastewater-testing system had delivered troubling news: It detected elevated levels of coronavirus in campus sewage, stemming from one dorm in particular.

The following day, the team tested the 311 individuals living in that dorm. Two tested positive; both were asymptomatic. Those two students were quarantined, and now the campus is conducting contact tracing to find any additional cases. 

"With this early detection, we jumped on it right away, tested those youngsters, and got them the appropriate isolation where they needed to be," Richard Carmona, a director of the university's reentry task force and the former US Surgeon General, said in a Thursday press conference.

Pepper said the sewage tests can detect elevated levels of coronavirus up to seven days before individuals start showing symptoms. Those are "precious days in which you can undergo intervention," he said in a follow-up press conference on Friday.

Campus officials said that without the wastewater-testing system, the two asymptomatic students could easily have spread coronavirus through the university, infecting countless others. 

arizona_classroom
A classroom at the University of Arizona.

A potential game-changer? 

Unlike other coronavirus tests, Pepper's poop-analysis system monitors COVID-19 across an entire region. Researchers (wearing gloves, of course) collect samples of wastewater from treatment plants around the area and send them to the Pepper's center for analysis. They then run a test developed by the CDC that detects the presence of coronavirus molecules, similar to the tests involving nasal swabs.

The test is relatively cheap and low-tech: The cost of all the reagents involved in running one test is about $150, Pepper said, though that doesn't count other costs, like labor and sample gathering. Researchers must also test sites multiple times to ensure results are reliable — for instance, they tested the University of Arizona dorm site five times.

This type of mass testing can offer a way to identifying coronavirus outbreaks at the community level. But it's most promising for use among a large group of people living under a defined set of rules in one location, like a university.

More challenges might arise in, say, a large city neighborhood, where it would be hard to track down and get in touch with every resident, and not all would agree to an individual diagnostic test.

Still, Pepper said, he and his colleagues are "incredibly excited" about their results and believe other communities could adopt their approach effectively. 

"Poop doesn't lie. Poop is your friend, and poop can tell you the truth about yourself and about the community," Pepper explained to Arizona Science, a local radio show, earlier this month. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Starbucks is readying glow-in-the-dark tumblers for Halloween— just don't expect to use them in-store

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FILE PHOTO: General view of a Starbucks coffee shop in London, Britain, March 6, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
General view of a Starbucks coffee shop in London
  • Starbucks is readying a venti tumbler with a black-and-white pattern with a Halloween design.
  • When in the dark, the cup glows in a greenish hue.
  • While some Starbucks fans have been able to get the tumblers in store, the official drop isn't until September.
  • Customers will not be able to use the tumbler in-store, as Starbucks has suspended use of reusable cups due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Fall is here for Starbucks, and that doesn't just mean new drinks.

The coffee retailer is already serving their fall menu, including the Pumpkin Spice Latte, but now their fall drink accessories are starting to roll out in stores too, most notably a glow-in-the-dark tumbler.

Instagram accounts @sirensaviors and @raindrop_resell have both posted about the new cup, with the latter saying "I managed to find these and they haven't been released yet, the sku didn't even ring up," in their post, which was first spotted by BestProducts. Instagram account @sirensaviors noted the cups would be available in September.

The venti-sized cup has a "bluish purple lid, a straw, and detailing, and the outside is covered in a black and white pattern with skull, moon, and bird designs," BestProducts reports. When in the dark, the white parts of the cup have a green glow.

🎃IRL PIC OF THE GLOW IN THE DARK TUMBLER from the US Halloween Collection. Releasing Sept 2020.

A post shared by #1 STARBUCKS RESOURCE (@sirensaviors) on Aug 24, 2020 at 5:17pm PDT

 

While it looks likely that interested buyers can purchase the tumblers in-store soon, they won't be able to fill up their new cup with their favorite barista-made drink quite yet. Starbucks has suspended the use of reusable cups to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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Almost 200 Uber employees are suing the company over its disappointing IPO last year

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Uber was one of the most anticipated IPOs of 2019, but it stammered out of the gate.
  • Uber's hotly anticipated initial public offering last year left many investors disappointed.
  • Adding to the fallout is a new lawsuit by employees who say an acceleration of their stock units' issue date saddled them with extra taxes. 
  • Three days before its IPO, Uber moved the issue date for those units, meaning they were taxed at prices higher than if they had been issued as originally planned, and taxed six months later. 
  • Uber says the lawsuit lacks any merit. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

190 Uber employees have filed a lawsuit against the ride-hailing giant accusing it of indirectly raising their tax bills when it accelerated the issue date of their stock options ahead of its lackluster IPO last year.

Three days before Uber went public in one of the most high-profile listings of the year, the company moved up the issue date of employees' restricted stock units, or RSUs. According to the lawsuit, those units were originally supposed to turn into shares six months after the IPO, but still came with the same six-month lockup period.

Because shares were worth $45 on the new issue date — the price at which they were taxed — and $27 by the time they could be sold, the employees were collectively saddled with more than $9 million in extra tax burden, the lawsuit claims.

The company says the lawsuit's claims are "simply without merit."

At the time, Uber said in a memo that the change was "in the best interests of the RSU holders, as well as in the best interests of the company." And, according to the Financial Times, it helped Uber solidify how much tax it would owe on the employees' behalf. RSUs are a common form of employee compensation, especially at tech firms.

Still, the lawsuit says the move was "self-serving," and is asking the court to force Uber to pay the the difference in employees' after-tax positions had the issue date instead been six months from the IPO. It's one of a slew of lawsuits from investors who lost money as Uber shares sank by more than one-third in their first months of trading.

"Uber wasn't helping anybody but itself," Ray Gallo, the lawyer representing the employees, said. "It was doing what was best for Uber, in breach of the RSU agreements, and betting on the future share price with the financial risk being borne by the employees."

Read the full complaint: 

 

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Donald Trump plugs Ivanka as the first female president claiming Kamala Harris is 'not competent' enough for the top job

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Ivanka Trump speaks at the Republican National Convention in Washington DC, on August 27, 2020 (L), Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris delivers remarks during a campaign event on August 27, 2020 in Washington, DC.
  • Speaking at a New Hampshire campaign rally on Friday night, President Trump said Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris is "not competent" enough to become the first female president.
  • Trump instead suggested that his daughter, Ivanka, would be a much better fit for the role.
  • "They're all saying, 'We want Ivanka!'" he said. "I don't blame them."
  • Trump spent much of his speech attacking Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and made fun of Harris's failed 2020 presidential campaign.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In his first speech since the Republican National Convention, President Trump said Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris is "not competent" enough to become the first female president, suggesting that his daughter, Ivanka, would be a much better fit. 

Speaking at a New Hampshire campaign rally on Friday night, the president poked fun at Harris' failed 2020 presidential campaign. He said she was not the kind of woman who could make history as the first female president.

"I want to see the first woman president also, but I don't want to see the first woman president get into the position the way [Harris] would do it, and she's not competent, she's not competent," he said, according to The Daily Beast.

"They're all saying, 'We want Ivanka!'" he continued, pointing to cheering supporters near the stage. "I don't blame them."

Harris is the first Black woman and the first South Asian American woman to accept a major party's vice-presidential nomination. She has been a US senator representing California since 2017.

If Joe Biden, aged 77, wins the presidential race in November, he will be the oldest ever incumbent of the White House. With the potential for him to serve only one term, Harris is in prime position to launch a run at the presidency in 2024.  

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President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Londonderry, New Hampshire, on August 28, 2020.

Trump's attack on Harris came a day after he wrapped up the Republication National Convention in Washington DC. 

After widespread media comment on Trump's rehearsed and scripted acceptance speech on Thursday, Trump told rallygoers in New Hampshire that it was a  "different kind of speech," he said, according to CNN.

"Tonight, I'm in New Hampshire and we can wing it. If I did last night's speech here, right now you would have all been walking out. And if I did tonight's speech there, I would have been criticized by being slightly radical," he added. 

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Stolen Fortnite accounts are being sold on the black market for hundreds of dollars

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FILE PHOTO: Epic Games booth for the game Fortnite is shown at E3, the annual video games expo revealing the latest in gaming software and hardware in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 12, 2019.  REUTERS/Mike Blake
Epic Games booth for the game Fortnite is shown at E3, the annual video games expo revealing the latest in gaming software and hardware in Los Angeles
  • Thousands of Fortnite accounts are getting sold daily in a market for stolen video game accounts that generates $1 billion annually, according to security researchers. 
  • Hackers take advantage of tools that allow them to see if login credentials from past data breaches allow them access to Fortnite accounts.
  • These accounts on average sell between $200 to $250 each — with some even selling for thousands, according to the researchers.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The black market for stolen video game logins is a big business, and it's come for Fortnite in a big way.

Thousands of Fortnite accounts are getting sold on a daily basis in a black market for stolen video game accounts that collectively brings in $1 billion on an annual basis, according to a report published by Night Lion Security titled "The Fortnite Underground Cybercrime Economy."

Hackers take advantage of cracking tools that allows them to reach an average of nearly 500 accounts per second. The report said that the tools can see whether the accounts can be unlocked with credentials that show up from past data breaches that are unrelated to Fortnite.

Different Fortnite accounts have valuable skins that can alter a player's avatar. These accounts on average sell between $200 to $250 each, Vinny Troia, Founder, Chief Security Research and Strategy at Night Lion Security, told Bloomberg News. Some can go for thousands.

"Epic Games takes a sophisticated layered approach to protect our players," a spokesperson told Business Insider on Friday. "We use technology like captcha, IP reputation, machine learning, and proprietary technology to detect threats in seconds, proactively block login attempts and automatically take action to secure any compromised accounts we identify."

The spokesperson also confirmed to Business Insider that buying and selling Fortnite accounts is against the game's Terms of Service, and the company seeks to return any recovered stolen accounts to the owner.

"The market for stolen account sales is much larger than just the gaming industry," the report said. "From our research, the black market for the buying and selling of stolen Fortnite accounts is among the most expansive, and also the most lucrative."

The popularity of Fortnite has grown exponentially since it debuted in 2017. In the game, 100 players fight against each other other on an ever-shrinking map to be the last player standing.

The game now has over 350 million registered players and is distributed as three different game modes on a variety of gaming platforms, such as PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.

People whose Fortnite accounts might have been stolen should follow the instructions on Epic's website, the spokesperson said. They can also follow details online on how to best protect their accounts.

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Fake N95 face masks were being sold on this ISIS-linked website — and it shows how terror groups are using COVID-19 as a propaganda tool

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The now-defunct website that has links to ISIS sympathizers.
  • The US Justice Department shut down an ISIS-affiliated scam that attempted to sell fake personal protective equipment (PPE) through a website and Facebook accounts.
  • When a US-based customer contacted the website to purchase masks for first-responders, a Syrian national living in Turkey responded by saying he could easily provide up to 100,000 N95 masks.
  • Based on the website, the masks were manufactured in Turkey and none were certified by US agencies.
  • Researchers say the scam is another way terror groups are taking advantage of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US Justice Department shut down an ISIS-affiliated scam that attempted sell fake personal protective equipment (PPE) through a website and Facebook accounts, which researchers say is another novel way terrorists are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.

FaceMaskCenter.com, a now-defunct website that claimed to sell FDA-approved N95 respirator masks and other sought-after PPE, contained all the hallmarks of a legitimate online store — including accepting credit cards. The website claimed it was "the original online personal protective equipment supplier and was the first of its kind" since its inception in 1996, when in fact the site was created February 26, 2020.

The website was seized by the Justice Department and visitors are now greeted with an official disclaimer and a phone number to call if they were victims of the scam.

It was not immediately clear if anyone purchased PPE from the website; however, when a US-based customer contacted the website to purchase masks for first-responders, a Syrian national living in Turkey responded by saying he could "easily provide up to 100,000 N95 masks, which he claimed to have in his possession," according to the Justice Department's complaint.

N95 masks
N95 respiration masks at a laboratory of 3M.

A review of the face masks that were purportedly for sale indicates that the PPE was manufactured in Turkey, and were not certified by US agencies like the Food and Drug Administration.

The complaint specifically names Murat Cakar, a Turkey-based man classified as an "ISIS facilitator."

Cakar, which researchers say could be another alias, is accused of managing the scheme and accepting $100,000 from Zoobia Shahnaz, an American who pleaded guilty in 2018 to financially supporting ISIS and attempting to travel to Syria to join the terrorist organization. Cakar, according to a "confidential reliable source" of the Justice Department, was also instrumental in ISIS hacking operations.

Researchers who have studied the terrorist organizations say that while online scams are not a novel concept for ISIS affiliates, their approach in taking advantage of the PPE demand is unique.

Chelsea Daymon, an associate fellow with the Global Network on Extremism & Technology and a researcher at American University, first noticed ISIS sympathizers mentioning the coronavirus in their social media channels in mid-January.

"This was sort of a new turn because historically, since the pandemic started, we saw ISIS use COVID-19 for more propaganda purposes — spreading things that have to do with their ideology or demonizing individuals that are perceived as their enemy," Daymon said.

"So we've seen more narrative and propaganda use of the virus, and as the virus continued on, we've seen ISIS use the virus to it's advantage on the ground in Syria and Iraq ... where in the last number of months there has been an increase in the number of attacks while governments are having their attention elsewhere," Daymon added.

ISIS
Islamic State militants hold up their flag as they patrol in a commandeered Iraqi military vehicle in Fallujah, Iraq, March 30, 2014.

ISIS affiliates have used the COVID-19 pandemic as a messaging tool and incorporated it into their propaganda communications on social media apps like Telegram, Rocket.chat, and Twitter.

Several of these themes included graphs and charts of the number of deaths related to the coronavirus, seemingly in celebration of the death tolls. ISIS sympathizers also claimed the coronavirus was intentionally created in a lab and spread by non-believers.

Some of their narratives also echoed the baseless conspiracy theories spread by US-based far-right groups — that any future coronavirus vaccine would cause autism, was a government ploy, or a corporate campaign for profit. According to Daymon's research, some of the sympathizers also claimed that a potential vaccination would be a Western plot to kill Muslims.

Hundreds of coronavirus-related messages compiled from these messaging platforms revealed that roughly a quarter of them were related to death toll updates; 16% were related to divine punishment of non-believers; and 11% were related to humor and conspiracy theories.

Screen Shot 2020 08 28 at 12.46.33 PM
A picture posted on a private Rocket.Chat group reads, "the small coronavirus destroys the economy of the crusaders."

It is unclear if there are other ISIS-linked websites that are taking advantage of the pandemic. But Daymon notes that the group, like other terrorist organizations, will take advantage of world events for their nefarious purposes.

"It's not a surprise because I think any extremist group will use to their benefit any opportunity," Daymon said. "And the pandemic has been actually pretty good for that for many groups across many spectrums, because it really falls into different narratives and ideologies: this idea that, 'society is collapsing, therefore you want to be on the right side of history.'"

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Trump and the GOP want voters to fear 'chaos and anarchy' under Biden, but not the coronavirus that's killing 1,100 Americans a day

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President Donald Trump speaks from the South Lawn of the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington.
President Donald Trump speaks from the South Lawn of the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington.
  • Then-candidate Donald Trump promised supporters in 2016 that he would "make America safe again" by cracking down on crime, which had reached historic lows at the time.
  • Four years later, Trump and the Republican party have embraced a "law and order" message, and declared Americans won't be safe under a Democratic administration, as their ticket to reelection. 
  • Republican political strategists hope fears about violent crime will eclipse concern about Covid-19, the economic crisis it threw the country in and the Trump administration's deeply flawed pandemic response.
  • Polling hasn't shown that Trump has an edge on "law and order" issues or that Joe Biden will be hurt by Trump's messaging. 
  • "If Donald Trump is premising his entire reelection on winning the fifth most important issue ... that seems less like a genius strategy and more like a Hail Mary," a Democratic strategist said. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

"Our Convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation," Donald Trump told a boisterous crowd of supporters. "I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored." 

Four years after Trump promised at the 2016 Republican convention that he'd "make America safe again," he's seizing on a virtually identical message while serving as president amid widespread protests over police brutality towards Black Americans.

Even as 1,000 Americans continue to die from Covid-19 every day, tens of millions remain unemployed, and wildfires and hurricanes wreak havoc across the country, the GOP convention this week was dominated by urgent warnings that Americans won't be safe under Biden's leadership. 

"No one will be safe in Biden's America," Trump declared from the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday night. 

Biden, who's come under fire for his role in crafting the 1994 crime bill that exacerbated mass incarceration, has supported the peaceful protests against police mistreatment of Black people and repeatedly denounced looting and rioting.

'Chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence'

The Republican party spent the last four days railing against violence in American cities, which has marred peaceful mass demonstrations against racism and police brutality ever since George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis in May. Meanwhile, other forms of crime, including homicides, have spiked since the pandemic hit.

No matter that the "chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence," as Trump aide Kellyanne Conway put it, has broken out on Trump's watch. The GOP blamed Democratic mayors and governors, and promoted a St. Louis couple who brandished weapons at protesters, while conservative activists praised a 17-year-old accused of murdering two protesters in Wisconsin.  

Vice President Mike Pence put it bluntly during his address on Wednesday night: "You won't be safe in Joe Biden's America." Conway argued that violence in America's streets will boost Trump's reelection chances. 

"From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs. The violence is rampant," South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said during her RNC address on Wednesday. "There's looting, chaos, destruction and murder. People that can afford to flee have fled. But the people that can't — good, hard-working Americans — are left to fend for themselves."

black lives matter
Protesters hold placards as they attend a demonstration in Parliament Square in central London on June 6, 2020, to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis.

Donald Trump Jr. told a story of good versus evil: "This election is shaping up to be church, work, and school versus rioting, looting, and vandalism." 

The president hammered home the same message in his 70-minute closing speech on Thursday night, falsely claiming that Biden plans to defund the police. 

"The most dangerous aspect of the Biden platform is the attack on public safety," he said. 

Trump boasted of his own criminal justice reform legislation and then slammed Democrats for supporting policies aimed at ending mass incarceration, warning they would release hundreds of thousands of criminals "onto the streets and into your neighborhoods." 

Meanwhile, the crowd of 1,500 supporters seated inches apart on the South Lawn were nearly all maskless. The virus' death toll and the ongoing danger it poses went unmentioned. 

Republicans are doing their best to conflate peaceful protests against police violence with the riots. Most famously, the president had peaceful demonstrators tear gassed outside of the White House so he could stage a photo op outside a nearby church in June. 

While Biden has repeatedly condemned looting and rioting, many Democrats have been reluctant to focus too much attention on the rioters. They fear drawing an equivalence between police brutality and the response to it.

"Burning down communities is not protest," Biden said in a video this week. "It's needless violence."

Black Lives Matter activists and others on the left have called to defund the police, but Biden has rejected the approach and instead proposed boosting funding for social workers to work alongside law enforcement and other community policing efforts. He's also called for a federal ban on chokeholds and a national use of force standard. 

Trump's 'Hail Mary' 

Recent polling shows that crime is an important issue for Americans, particularly for Republicans. A Pew survey in mid-August found that violent crime was the fifth most important issue for all voters — 59% called it "very important." By comparison, 63% of voters said the same of the coronavirus, which has killed 180,000 in the US, infected 6 million, and thrown the country into an economic crisis. 

The economy, healthcare, and Supreme Court nominations were the top three issues for registered voters when deciding who support this fall.

But polling hasn't shown that a recent decline in support for the Black Lives Matter movement will hurt Biden, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis. It's not clear that GOP messaging on crime will hit Biden in the way the party hopes. 

While Republicans have historically campaigned on "law and order" messaging, a late July poll from The Washington Post and ABC News showed Biden with a nine-point lead over Trump on "crime and safety" issues. 

Republican political strategists hope fears about violent crime will eclipse concern about Covid-19 and the Trump administration's deeply flawed pandemic response.

"Fear is a real motivator in politics. In March and April people were afraid of coronavirus — that fear is dissipating," Matt Mackowiak, a Republican strategist, told Business Insider. "The fear about coronavirus is now becoming fear about safety in cities and suburbs and neighborhoods." 

Conservatives say violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin following Jacob Blake's shooting by police on Sunday could help spread fear that crime will spread to cities across the heartland. 

"Kenosha, to me, feels like a tipping point because it's one thing when it's a large urban area — Portland, Seattle, Chicago, New York — most of middle America has never been to those places," Mackowiak said. "To go from a quiet, suburban, medium-sized town to chaos in 48 hours, I think that wakes a lot of people up."

But Democratic strategists hope voters will blame the uptick in crime on the current president. They say Trump's positioning as an antidote to chaos isn't credible. 

"When people see chaos, they don't see Donald Trump as the answer to it," Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist who served as a spokesman for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, told Insider. "He's led a country into chronic chaos for three and a half years." 

Democrats and others point out that fear-mongering about crime didn't work for Trump last cycle. Leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, Trump railed against illegal immigration and misleadingly claimed a caravan of migrants, including criminals and members of ISIS, was preparing to invade the country. 

Republicans lost their House majority and Trump stopped talking about caravans and border invasions.

"If Donald Trump is premising his entire reelection on winning the fifth most important issue, when it's an issue that he's at best tied with us on, that seems less like a genius strategy and more like a Hail Mary," Ferguson said. 

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I'm the mayor of a mid-sized city. Cities like mine need the federal government to invest in our infrastructure so our economies can bounce back from the pandemic.

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Construction workers wearing masks work on a road in SoHo on May 28, 2020 in New York City.
  • Infrastructure — like roads, bridges, and energy grids — is the most foundational backbone of our country's economy.
  • As cities recover from the economic devastation of COVID-19, now is the time for the federal government to help local governments rebuild key infrastructure.
  • This aid will give cities like Noblesville, Indiana, a chance to bounce back from the pandemic and grow into the future.
  • Chris Jensen is in his first term as mayor of his hometown of Noblesville.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Infrastructure is the physical backbone of our country – but too often this discussion in Washington, DC is confined to our interstate highways and bridges. Leaders of local cities and towns across our country know that when it comes to infrastructure, the quintessential Main Street is starting to crumble.

With local governments experiencing significant financial impact from COVID-19, now is the time for our partners at the federal level to act in a way that will facilitate both short-term recovery and long-term growth.

Help to bounce back from the pandemic

Noblesville, Indiana is not unlike many cities or towns across our country. We work with our local, county, state – and yes, national — partners to do more with less, working to maintain and upgrade our roads, bridges, energy and utility systems, and communications networks. We have learned to get creative to deliver results for our constituents, after all, as the foundational level of government, we are most accountable to them every day.

Especially in these times, the primary challenge to building and maintaining a strong and healthy local infrastructure has been, and continues to be, the availability of funding.

As the federal government considers support for state and local governments, they should reject the urge to offer short-term relief and simply issue bail out checks to cities and towns. Instead, it should invest in them. With federal bonds needed to finance projects at record-low interest rates and infrastructure investment having broad bipartisan support, now is the ideal time for our federal partners to fund infrastructure dollars to the local level and invest in long-term assets. 

With necessary accountability safeguards, federal road funding grants will unleash local governments and give them the flexibility to direct the dollars in ways that provide maximum benefit. They will also give local constituents more input at the level of government that is closest to the people and is best aligned to pursue current and future priorities.

Help economies grow into the future

As we experience increased unemployment rates, infrastructure investment acts as a force multiplier, creating jobs now, making communities safer and healthier, and building a foundation for economic growth for generations to come.

Funding these projects – especially ones that impact more than just a city or town, but a whole region – can serve as a catalyst for recovery for communities trying to navigate through this global pandemic. The City of Noblesville has identified several infrastructure projects that would have substantial local and regional impact in pursuit of these recovery goals.

Infrastructure investment is a critical need that is universally shared among cities and towns across the country – in red states and blue states. Mayors and constituents appreciate the steps Congress took to fund vital investments in public health, personal protective equipment, and other pandemic mitigation and response needs.

Now is the time to move forward and reinvest in the backbone of America. Local road funding grants can help fill in the revenue gaps and ultimately jump start our workforce and get Americans back to work.

Chris Jensen is in his first term as mayor of his hometown of Noblesville. Previously, he served on the Noblesville Common Council and worked in the administration of former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

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Private jet companies scored a pile of federal aid meant for airlines and small businesses, boosting the industry as other sectors collapsed

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By virtue of their hybrid  nature — they're both airlines and small businesses — some private jet companies accessed funds from two or even three buckets of federal aid.
  • The charter companies, aircraft management firms, and ground operations and maintenance companies that comprise the private jet industry have recovered more thoroughly and swiftly than commercial airlines. 
  • Some of these companies accessed funds from two or even three buckets of federal aid. 
  • The industry is made up of about 1,900 companies and employs about 1.2 million people. Yet out of the $2 trillion CARES act, it scooped up a disproportionate $666 million.
  • Thirty-six private jet companies have received $7,538,300 in Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Administration and at least 95 private jet firms got Paycheck Protection Program loans, totaling between $64.3 million and $149.9 million.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The impact of an ongoing pandemic best fought by a population of shut-ins has devastated the travel industry: Airlines are hunkering down for a years-long recovery. Planemakers have slashed production plans. Cruise companies are all but shuttered, and hotels are doing everything they can to attract guests. 

One pocket of the travel business, though, has handled the turbulence surprisingly well: the private jet industry. 

The charter companies, fractional ownership organizations, aircraft management firms, and ground operations and maintenance companies that cater to elite air travelers have been hit less severely, and have recovered more thoroughly and swiftly, than commercial airlines. 

That's partly because private aviation was able to successfully market itself as a safer way to travel, essentially allowing well-heeled access to vacation homes and quarantine hideaways without the risks associated with commercial air travel. 

But during the spring months when the pain was real, when even the rich and famous stayed terrestrial, the industry enjoyed unusually helpful government largesse. By virtue of their hybrid nature — they're both airlines and small businesses — some of these companies accessed funds from two or even three buckets of federal aid. 

And while more than 100,000 small businesses failed for a lack of aid and major airlines are already begging for a fresh round of relief. The private aviation industry is made up of about 1,900 companies — including everything from charter services with dozens of jets to sightseeing operations with just a single propeller plane — which employs about 1.2 million people, yet out of the $2 trillion CARES act, it scooped up a disproportionate $666 million.

"The Trump administration's priorities are hurting those who need help the most and helping the already wealthy and well-connected," said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, a watchdog group that produced a report on how private jet operators have received federal aid. "They have abandoned struggling small businesses and slashed aid for workers while allowing the booming private jet industry — including many Trump donors — to triple-dip in taxpayer money."

CARES Act funding hasn't done enough to support small businesses — or, some would argue, major airlines.

When Congress passed the CARES Act in late March, it included $58 billion for airlines, half under a Payroll Support Program (PSP) and half as low-interest operational loans. A separate bit of the law made small businesses eligible for fully forgivable loans of up to $10 million through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as well as facilitated loans of up to $2 million through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. 

american airlines
Airlines receiving Payroll Support aid were prohibited from furloughing staff until after September 30. With travel demand failing to recover over the summer, the airlines say that they will cut tens of thousands of jobs without further aid.

Even though airlines like American have received as much as $5.8 billion in PSP aid, it has not been enough to cover their entire payroll, leading airlines to encourage workers to take unpaid leaves and early retirements, according to Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants. Now, as restrictions on furloughs and layoffs expire, airlines are preparing to layoff tens of thousands of workers.

"Did the Payroll Support Program save jobs and keep people on payroll? Yes. So on balance, the program worked," Nelson told Business Insider. "I don't mean to say it worked perfectly, but it saved jobs."

"It was never funded to cover more than six months," Nelson added. "At the time, everyone hoped we'd be in a different place by now. We're not, so there needs to be an extension. A lot can change in six more months."

Meanwhile, the two programs set up to help small businesses were quickly overwhelmed by applications, and exhausted their funds within two weeks. By May 11, about 100,000 small businesses had collapsed, according to a study by researchers at University of Illinois, Harvard Business School, Harvard University and the University of Chicago.

A bunch of companies that were considered 'airlines' also landed small business grants and loans.

Although the Payroll Support Program seems written with large passenger airlines and cargo operators in mind, some 320 smaller carriers and private aviation firms have received about $935 million of the total $25 billion allocated, according to Treasury numbers. (The vast majority went to the 15 biggest commercial airlines.) 

Some of those were companies like Beryl Air, an Alaskan sightseeing company which operates a single float plane and received just $2,149 in PSP funds. More than half were private jet charter companies, which together received $508,645,759 in payroll support. That makes sense: Many of these companies employ just a few dozen people and, despite their wealthy clientele, operate on thin margins.

But that's not all they got. Because many smaller private jet companies also fit the standard definition of a small business, they were eligible to receive funds under the programs meant for places like restaurants and hardware stores. 

Thirty-six private jet companies have received $7,538,300 in Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Administration. At least 95 private jet firms got Paycheck Protection Program loans, totaling between $64.3 million and $149.9 million (loan recipients were approved for minimum and maximum loan amounts; the Small Business Administration has not disclosed specific amounts.) Each of those companies also received grants through the airline-focused Payroll Support Program, according to data compiled by Accountable.US.

Between these three programs, 170 private jet firms received about $666 million, according to Accountable.US. Those firms also benefited from federal excise and fuel tax waivers as part of the relief bill.

Delaware-based Dumont Aviation Group, for example, received nearly $2 million in PSP grants, up to $5 million in forgivable PPP loans, and $500,000 in EIDL loans, for a total of nearly $7.5 million. (Dumont did not respond to a request for comment.)

Gulfstream G550 private jet
Private jet companies received a total of $666 million in aid from the CARES Act.

"Only the Trump administration would find three separate ways to bail out high flying private jet companies while 25% of Americans face food insecurity and unemployment tops 10%," said Kyle Herrig, the Accountable.US president. 

"This is an industry that can charge clients $25,000 or more for a single flight – this government aid should've gone to support truly small businesses and the communities they serve."

The reality is more complicated for small private aviation firms.

Scorn on the private jet industry is easy to understand, especially as small businesses collapse, unemployment assistance slows, and record numbers of Americans remain jobless. Before the CARES Act was passed, Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic Policy, told CNBC, "Putting up public money to support an industry that serves the rich would be hard to justify. It's absurd."

But private aviation connotes more than extravagance.

While the rich and famous make up some of the industry's clientele — especially for leisure travel — a large share of private aviation business comes from more restrained businesses using it to access hard-to-reach or far-flung sites.

Classic examples include a regional manager for an automaker visiting several car dealerships across a few states, or manufacturing plants spread out across a region. Of the nearly 5,000 public airports in the US, only about 500 serve commercial flights. Where a work trip could take a week flying between commercial airports, renting cars, and driving out to destinations, it could only take a day or two using a chartered plane.

Nearly 2,000 private aircraft operators are certified by the FAA to charter flights, ranging from major charter operations like Jet Linx and fractional owner companies like NetJets, to helicopter couriers and sightseeing companies, to outfits with a single propeller plane taxiing passengers between remote rural areas and airports frequented by small regional airlines. The private aviation industry creates 1.2 million jobs and generates $77 billion in income, according to industry lobbyists.

The majority of these companies have just a few dozen employees, most of them specialized and certified as pilots, flight attendants, maintenance technicians, dispatchers, and the like. Although passengers pay a lot for flights, private aviation firms often operate with relatively slim margins thanks to fixed capital and operational expenses.

And the pandemic didn't leave them be. 

Private plane interior jet
As demand fell early in the pandemic, private aviation firms — many of which have just a few dozen employees — were forced to furlough workers until CARES Act funding came through.

"In April we did see a 75 percent drop in business," Nick Tarascio, CEO of New York-based Ventura Air Services — one of the companies that received funds through all three available programs — said in an email to Business Insider. "This was not for us alone, this was the experience across the private aviation sector."

As business slowed in April and initial PPP funds were delayed, Ventura furloughed 10 of its 45 employees. Once PPP and PSP funding came in, Tarascio said, the company rehired all of them.

Meg Bianco, president of an Ohio-based company that also received funds through all three programs, said that her 165-employee company likely would have collapsed without the emergency funding. (Bianco spoke with Business Insider on the condition that her company's name not be printed in the context of discussing business troubles.) The company's maintenance, repair, and operational services work dropped by 40%. Business for its ground operations unit plunged as much as 90%.

"We would have had to shut down our ground operations division without the help," Bianco said of the Payroll Support Program and SBA loans. "Margins were so slim, we wouldn't have had a choice." 

The outlook for private aviation is growing even stronger. Commercial airlines and small businesses, however, are preparing for a difficult few years.

Six months into the pandemic's seizure of the United States, the outlook for the commercial aviation sector remains bleak. Analysts don't expect demand to fully recover until 2024. Small businesses overall — and especially restaurants — face a similarly grim situation. According to McKinsey, it will likely take at least five years for affected sectors to recover from the pandemic. Between 1.4 million and 2.1 million US small businesses could close permanently.

The private jet business, however, is approaching cruising altitude. Through membership programs, package sales, fractional ownership, and other schemes, demand for private aviation is continuing to grow as the wealthy find ways to travel while limiting their exposure to COVID-19.

By the end of June, traffic for private jet operators was up to 78% of the previous year's numbers, while commercial airlines were closer to 25%, according to the New York Times. Over the July 4 weekend, private jet demand actually increased 5% over 2019 levels.

For the private jet industry, a heavy helping of federal aid worked exactly as intended. Companies facing downturns were able to survive the immediate and devastating impact of the pandemic, and now find themselves strongly positioned as their unique industry sees a boom in demand.

"Many who once thought of ownership as a luxury, now see jet ownership as a necessity for protecting health and getting to places that they need to get to safely and efficiently," said Tarascio, the Ventura Air CEO. 

He predicts strong growth ahead, and is in the process of acquiring three more planes.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Citadel's intern bubble — BlackRock power players — IPO filing frenzy

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Happy Saturday!

This week was a nonstop S-1 filing frenzy. Just to name a few: UnitySumo LogicAsanaJfrog, and Snowflake all filed on Monday; Palantir's S-1 flipped on Tuesday; and digital health startup GoodRx revealed its IPO documents on Friday. 

While there's a long list of companies gearing up for public debuts, be it through direct listings or IPOs, more investors are also getting the green light to pile into private markets. 

The SEC announced this week that it's "modernizing" its definition of an accredited investor. Now, instead of meeting an income or asset threshold, investors will basically just need to demonstrate that they're knowledgeable enough about private markets to jump in. 

At BlackRock, meanwhile, the business of offering assets like private equity, hedge funds, and real estate has become a core part of the firm's long-term growth plan. Rebecca Ungarino took a look at who's driving this massive push:

Meet the 17 power players at BlackRock carrying out CEO Larry Fink's vision to turbocharge private equity and alternative investments growth

Keep reading for a peek inside Citadel's summer camp bubble, a rundown of Goldman Sachs' real-estate investment banking team, and the latest on how Harvard Business School is handling virtual recruiting for MBA students. 

If you're not yet a subscriber to our finance newsletters, you can sign up here.

Have a great weekend, 

Meredith 


How $34 billion hedge fund Citadel pulled off an in-person summer internship 'bubble' for more than 100 college students

Interns at Citadel do a ropes course in Wisconsin
One of the activities Citadel employees and interns were able to do in Wisconsin was a ropes course

Bradley Saacks took a look at how billionaire Ken Griffin's Citadel created a bubble for interns at a resort in Kohler, Wisconsin, by renting out the entire place. 


Blackstone is encouraging US workers to return to the office after Labor Day, and that's putting some employees on edge

stephen schwarzman 2019 davos
Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman speaks at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

As Casey Sullivan reported this week, Blackstone is gearing up to have more US employees return to the office after Labor Day. All investment professionals and asset managers will have a COVID test sent to their homes by Aug. 31. 


Big private-equity firms are piling into tech deals. Top execs at Carlyle, KKR, and Warburg Pincus laid out how they're angling for an edge.

private tech equity investing pandemic surge 2x1

Private-equity funds are dumping more money into technology companies as the pandemic tanks sectors more reliant on in-person business.

Now, as new entrants crowd the space, big players like KKR, Blackstone, and Carlyle, are leaning on their size to stand out. Casey Sullivan and Meghan Morris spoke with 12 private-equity investors, consultants and portfolio company CEOs to get an overview of the new competitive landscape.


Meet 7 Goldman Sachs power players advising on industry-defining deals like Blackstone's $18.7 billion bet on warehouses

goldman sachs real estate investment power players 2x1

Alex Nicoll spoke with seven bankers who help run Goldman Sachs' real-estate coverage group to learn more about their roles, how the practice's business has grown, and the ways the pandemic has affected what they do.


How Harvard Business School is adjusting timelines and formats for high-stakes recruiting 

digital wall street virtual remote work 3 4x3

Harvard Business School is reinventing how it does recruiting this year, going fully virtual during the coronavirus pandemic. It's brought on a legion of more than 80 career coaches and mentors to provide support for students and is offering a more flexible recruiting timetable.

Business Insider got a look inside HBS' program and spoke to two administrators laying the groundwork for recruiting this fall.


Careers

Real estate

Wealth management

Asset management

Fintech 

Law

Read the original article on Business Insider

A solar-panel bed cover brings sustainable power to gas-powered pickups — and could someday help charge EVs pickups from Rivian, Ford, and GM

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Terravis system
The Terravis system will bring solar power to traditional gas-powered trucks built in the past 10 years.
  • Worksport, a manufacturer of pickup-truck accessories, plans to launch a pickup-bed cover with built-in solar panels. 
  • The Terravis system will allow users to sustainably power tools and other appliances even when they're far from the grid. 
  • Worksport says its system will eventually be able to add range to electric pickups from companies like Rivian, Bollinger, and Ford. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

With a flood of electric pickup trucks poised to hit the market in the near future, aftermarket accessory companies are starting to go green, too. 

Worksport, a Toronto-based manufacturer of pickup-truck accessories, recently announced the Terravis system, a folding tonneau cover — the fancy term for a pickup-bed cover — with built-in solar panels. The idea is to take power from the sun, store it in bed-mounted batteries, and use it to power appliances and tools at jobsites, campsites, or anywhere else an outlet isn't within arm's reach. 

Many pickup trucks already offer outlets in the bed, but they don't run off of solar. The Terravis system also includes a portable powerpack with two outlets that lets users bring power to wherever it's needed. 

The Terravis system will fit traditional gas-powered trucks from roughly the 2010 model year forward, the company says. Worksport also plans to develop models for upcoming electric pickups from Rivian, GM, Ford, Bollinger, and others, claiming the system will be able to add range to hybrid and electric trucks, once they become available. 

"Everyone is moving towards solar power and renewable energy sources and so is the pick-up truck market," Steven Rossi, Worksport's CEO, said in a press release. "Our system is being designed to, among other things, provide a meaningful source of energy for the new wave of electric trucks."

The Terravis website says that the solar system will "provide meaningful power for the forthcoming electric trucks," but the range gains from such a system likely wouldn't be too great.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, known for setting overly optimistic goals, said that a solar-panel system on the Cybertruck would generate somewhere around 15 miles of range per day. Hyundai says that the solar roof on its new Sonata Hybrid — which appears to be much smaller than Worksport's setup — could provide two miles of range per day. 

Still, even a few miles of extra range could help in a pinch. 

The Terravis system is still in the design and funding phase, and Worksport expects to launch the product "within 12-24 months of funding."

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 'deadliest' Marine recruit at Parris Island reveals the secrets of his record-setting shoot

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Marine Corps rifle marksman
Recruit Austin Ferrell fires his M16A4 Service Rifle during the Table One course of fire on Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island South Carolina, July 30, 2020.
  • Marine Pfc. Austin Ferrell broke the rifle-qualification record at the Marines Corps' Parris Island recruit depot this summer, earning the title of deadliest shot.
  • For Ferrell, who grew up as an avid shooter, the rifle course was another day at the office, but he still picked up some new techniques from his Marine instructors.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Marine Pfc. Austin Ferrell made headlines when he earned the title of deadliest shot at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, but the 21-year-old who grew up shooting in Culpeper, Virginia, was actually hoping to shoot better than his record-breaking rifle qualification score.

Shooting an M16A4 rifle equipped with a 4X, fixed-power rifle combat optic, Farrell broke the depot record for Table One rifle qualification in July with a total score of 248 out of 250.

The previous record on Table One — which includes shooting from the prone, kneeling and standing positions at target ranges of 200, 300, and 500 yards — was 247 out of 250.

Ferrell, who speaks in a humble tone, said he was excited about setting the new record, but not as much as some of his fellow Marines.

"I am excited, but to be honest with you ... I grew up shooting long range, so a rifle that I built at home — at 500 yards, I could put all the shots in a coffee mug," Ferrell told Military.com. "So me personally, I am not all that impressed with it."

Before joining the Marines, Ferrell spent much of his time shooting and has built nine AR-15 rifles.

Marine Corps rifle marksman
Recruit Austin Ferrell watches over his fellow recruits during the crucible on Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island South Carolina, Aug. 20, 2020.

"I have been shooting since I was a little kid; I really got into when I was 14 and I really started taking off with it," Ferrell said, who describes himself as a pretty serious firearms collector.

"I have shot a little bit of everything but the past couple of years mainly long-range calibers like 6.5mm Creedmoor, .300 Win Mag, 5.56mm," he said.

All that practice served Ferrell well, allowing him to shoot his record-breaking score on pre-qualification day. Marine drill instructors submitted that score, so he did not have to shoot on qualification day, Ferrell said.

Ferrell did say that he learned several new techniques from the primary marksmanship instructors, especially during the different firing positions.

"I had a pretty good foundation before I came here ... but the techniques that the Marine Corps teaches are excellent for kids that have never shot," Ferrell said.

"A lot of kids in my platoon literally went from never shooting a rifle in their life to shooting expert in Marine Corps qualification," he said. "And that is with one week of class time essentially, then you have two days of practice and then pre-qual."

Ferrell said the average score in his platoon was 235 out of the 250 max.

"My entire platoon shot expert on Table One and about half of them had never even shot a rifle before," he said.

One of the best pieces of advice for shooters who struggle to perform better is to stay relaxed, Ferrell said

"The biggest thing, something that goes along with what all the primary marksmanship instructors teach here at Parris Island, is just stay calm," he said.

"I noticed like when transitioning from the different yard lines for shooting like from 200 to 300, a couple of them would jog or run to get back there quicker. ... You want to stay relaxed and they run back there, and their heart rate is up when they are trying to shoot.

"The biggest thing is just to stay relaxed."

Marine Corps rifle marksman
Recruit Austin Ferrell with his M16A4 Service Rifle during the Table One course of fire on Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island South Carolina, July 30, 2020.

And while controlled breathing is an "extremely important" fundamental, it's not as crucial as proper trigger squeeze, Ferrell said.

"You can only control your breathing so much unless you have years of practice, so there are ways around having perfect breathing control, but I would say the biggest thing with shooting is trigger control," Ferrell said.

With unsteady breathing "you might shoot a little high," but pulling the trigger slightly to the right instead of straight back can cause the muzzle to move 1/16th of an inch — enough to take the shot off-target at 500 yards, Ferrell said.

Ferrell is now about two weeks away from graduating from boot camp, something a high-school football injury almost prevented him from doing.

In 2017, Ferrell was playing football for Riverbend High School as an offensive guard when he went down on the field and another player fell on top of his thumb and "shattered the whole joint and tore the ligament," he said.

The injury initially disqualified him from the Marine Corps, but he eventually had it repaired in surgery and signed up for a five-year enlistment, he said.

For now, shooting will not be Ferrell's primary job since he is on track to become an intelligence specialist.

"I actually always wanted to be a sniper growing up, but a lot of retired military members that I talked to said, 'there is not much of a job market outside the military for a sniper,'" said Ferrell, who scored "very well" on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test and qualified for the intel job.

After learning his skill, Ferrell said he plans to try out for Marine Forces Special Operations Command.

"Hopefully, I can still shoot pretty good, and maybe they will send me to Scout Sniper School," he said.

— Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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4 reasons why 'fake it till you make it' is bad advice — and what to do instead

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networking business woman event meeting
Don't pretend like you know more than you do.
  • There are many ways the advice "fake it till you make it" can backfire as you navigate the job market. 
  • It might seem better to pretend like you know more than you do, but that approach can work against you in the long run, and hold you back from asking questions about what you need to learn.
  • Strike a balance between being confident and humble: Don't dismiss others, control your tone to avoid sounding condescending, and ask questions when you don't know the answers. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The longstanding adage "Fake it till you make it" coaches us to behave as if we're in a position well before we master it. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, act like you already are one. If you seek investments, imitate the behavior of someone who acquires funding often. If you pursue partnerships with high-level players, replicate the actions of an individual worthy of that alliance, and so on.

This practice, done well, must include visualization and knowing where you ultimately want to wind up. If you know what you seek — by describing the outcome and visualizing what you're planning for — you're much more likely to get it.

Or are you?

What if FITYMI doesn't work? What if this sage advice induces the exact opposite of what you want? Remarkably, this happens most of the time. The majority of people tend not to think about how FITYMI can cause a problem or even totally backfire.

Here are four common scenarios where "fake it till you make it" will undeniably be the root of your failure.

1. When you think you're the most important person in the room

Nerves, left unchecked, get the best of us at times. We're constantly told to fake our confidence, to hold our head high and to square our shoulders as we pitch an idea. Our mindset of being confident is a pillar of success, right? Who wants to work with someone who's afraid of their own shadow or who doesn't seem sure of the promises they're making or the business plan they're touting? We're supposed to renovate our thinking and be in the positive space we desire. Sometimes, though, a small shift one way or the other will cause you to come across as if you're more important than anyone else in the room. No one likes a braggart, especially mixed with those darn nerves that are ever-present. So make sure your FITYMI confidence isn't taken to an extreme. It's a delicate balance of having enough confidence to be investment-worthy (financial or otherwise) while also being humble and authentic enough to have people want to work with you. 

2. When you act like you're better than other people

It's important for someone to take the lead in every meeting, to guide the process, flow and outcome; to take charge and drive the conversation; to determine who can speak and when. If you're the entrepreneur sharing your ideas with other people, naturally you want to behave in a way that reflects your predesigned plan. After all, you've probably spent hours thinking about how to conduct the meeting. Yet you need to make sure you're flexible enough to serpentine, like they used to say, or simply shift and pivot if someone else in the room wants to change direction. It never works to act as if you're better than others by railroading someone who makes changes on the spot. You're all in that room together. Don't dismiss anyone or treat them as if they're less than. Go with the flow. That, in and of itself, gives you noticeable strength — which is exactly what you were looking for in the first place.

3. When your language and verbal communication appears pompous and condescending

Verbal communication matters. Your tone, choice of words, and how you deliver them can make the fine-tuned difference between success and failure. You may not like what someone says in your meeting. You may not like how it denigrates your presentation. But the moment you let irritation creep into your voice or body language, you'll come across, at best, as condescending. If you continue to push back on the person who's derailing your flow, you'll come across as pompous. When that happens, it's best to simply end the meeting before things get worse. 

4. When you think you know more than you do

You studied, you Googled, you spoke to friends. You did all you could to learn, memorize, or remember some quirky obscure facts, all in hope of achieving FITYMI fame before that big meeting. You start with a bang, seemingly knowledgeable, then you take one small step too far and realize you opened up a subject that reveals you aren't as well-informed as you appeared only seconds before. The mood in the room shifts immediately and you begin to play catch-up by changing back to a subject that didn't require going beyond the second search page in Google. The rule to remember here: Stay within the limits of your knowledge. It's OK and sometimes welcomed to ask questions and not know everything. Most people in powerful positions liked to be asked questions. Questions can protect your FITYMI skills. Showing you know a small amount, while at the same time revealing your desire to learn more, can prove to be quite beneficial and refreshing. 

So how are your FITYMI skills now?  

The most important person in the room is generally the one with the most money or grandest title. Pure and simple. That person is usually the one in the most senior position, the one who holds the key to final decision-making.

You don't want to enter any meeting with your tail between your legs, your shoulders slightly slumped, and your negative self-chatter dragging you into the depths of insecurity. However, watch out for swinging to the other side of the spectrum. You need to be very careful as you incorporate visualization techniques and confidence-bolstering exercises to ensure you come across as worthy of an investment, partnership, or even a job for that matter.

Make sure you always create an atmosphere where each person in the room, in their own way, feels as if they are the most important person there. Hone your FITYMI skills, yet learn how to be nuanced and teach yourself how to keep the "faking it" to a minimum and the "making it" to a maximum. Understand finesse and you've mastered the powerful practice of "fake it till you make it" on that bumpy, unforgiving road to entrepreneurial success.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The rise and fall of the suburb: How a reflection of the American Dream turned 'bland' — and why the homes just kept getting bigger

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suburbs
  • Jason Diamond is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. The following is an excerpt from his new book, "The Sprawl: Reconsidering the Weird American Suburbs."
  • In it, he discusses the rise of suburbs in the US, and its transformation from its post-war, classically American roots into a hub of diverse groups. 
  • As more baby boomers grew successful in a healthy economy, "the narrative changed," he said. Traditions were rejected, suburbs turned bland, and homes got bigger. 
  • The collection of essays points to other modern-day examples, history, and Diamond's personal life to examine how suburbia has shaped society over time. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

For the children and grandchildren of people who were old enough to see the beginning of the modern suburbs — Generation X, the millennials, and Generation Z, born, according to most definitions, from the mid-sixties all the way to the present day — the great promise of suburbia had lost some of its luster by the time they arrived.

This was due in large part to slow economic growth (otherwise known as "stagflation") in the seventies that put a halt to the forward momentum of the decades following World War II. Fuel shortages meant getting around wasn't as easy as it had been in previous decades; houses built in the forties and fifties were starting to show wear; and in the sixties and early seventies, white baby boomers who had been given the gift of a healthy economy and the bright, shiny future outside the cities where their elders had lived and toiled rejected many of the traditions, norms, and laws that in some cases had been in place for centuries.

Jason Diamond
Jason Diamond.

With the emerging generation gap came a rejection of what previous generations considered the American Dream. The narrative changed.

The suburbs were bland and bourgeois, no longer the space-age neighborhoods of tomorrow that they once were. The shine had worn off, but developers kept building more homes and neighborhoods, and people kept moving to them despite housing market crises popping up throughout every one of the last three decades of the twentieth century.

Fortune 500 companies moved outside cities, big box stores opened outside cities, and the suburbs kept getting bigger and bigger, often awkwardly.

You could go nearly anywhere in America and find housing developments, rows of ranch homes covered in aluminum siding with green lawns that all looked very similar, situated next to big gaps of empty or wooded areas.

You could drive a little ways and find nondescript business parks that went dark and silent at night, and of course you could find suburbia's Main Street, the mall (more on that later). This is a typical description of the suburbs as people who experienced suburbia from the seventies onward might recall them.

The houses grew bigger, and more space was taken for townhouses, apartments, and especially McMansions.

These homes, as Kate Wagner of McMansion Hell points out, are guilty of many crimes, from a total lack of balance among the parts of the building to the bad craftsmanship all the way to the often horrible landscaping.

"McMansions lack architectural rhythm," she writes in one post. "This is one of the easiest ways to determine between a McMansion and a, well, mansion."

The often gaudy and sometimes straight-up grotesque McMansions grew in stature thanks in large part to developers like Toll Brothers, who, in William Levitt fashion, mass-produced the homes identified by, as Virginia Savage McAlester points out in A Field Guide to American Houses, "complex high-pitched roof[s]" that tend to be "favored for huge custom-designed homes of five thousand to ten thousand square feet and up."

The houses typically employ a mishmash of styles that doesn't make much architectural sense (columns on a colonial or craftsman revival home, for instance).

As Leigh Gallagher writes in her book "The End of the Suburbs," "Provenance and accuracy weren't as important — it was size and scale and how much it glittered that mattered."

You also saw blossom this idea that no matter what critics said about the suburbs, an old-timey feel could be built in newer communities where everything was laid out according to plans that said how every little thing was supposed to look. The look would create a certain feel, and the idea was that people would pay big money because these places felt like they came from a simpler time.

As we've seen when it comes to suburbia, nothing goes according to plan.

Long Grove, Illinois, is one of those places: It has its share of McMansions and a promise that the village would maintain a semi-rural atmosphere. It was once indeed a "long grove," before white settlers came along. There's still grass growing wild, and some of the hickory trees there were around long before the neighborhood.

The Village Tavern on Old McHenry Road claims to be the oldest restaurant and tavern in Illinois, dating back to 1847. Private roads are encouraged to limit traffic. Despite the buildup over the years, it still feels like there's a lot of open space.

The Sprawl: Reconsidering the Weird American Suburbs
The Sprawl: Reconsidering the Weird American Suburbs

I know all of this not because I researched it, but because I lived there. My family had done well enough throughout the eighties that my father felt an upgrade right before the start of the nineties was in order.

Our progression is a very American story: my father was born in Europe right after the war to Jewish parents who barely survived the Nazis.

When they came to America, his parents worked and worked and worked until they finally found a niche-enough business, a little hole that nobody else was filling (they manufactured wafer candy, produced inexpensively and sold at a low price; the boast I heard was they outsold American staples like Oreos in the eighties), and moved from the city to the suburbs.

In the seventies they eventually ended up in the Chicagoland suburb of Morton Grove, where my family finally became homeowners in America, purchasing a cool-looking modern ranch home with a cross-hipped roof and some cool midcentury flourishes.

After my parents separated, most of my childhood was spent living all around the Chicagoland area. I was shuttled between both parents' various homes, including the house in Morton Grove my grandparents had purchased a decade earlier that my father lived in for a brief time after my grandmother passed and my grandfather retired to Florida. Eventually he sold that house and settled in Long Grove.

In a McMansion.

Used by permission from The Sprawl (Coffee House Press, 2020). Copyright © 2020 by Jason Diamond

Jason Diamond is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. His first book was "Searching for John Hughes."

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