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The FBI is investigating if George Santos scammed a military veteran by taking funds that were raised for his dying dog: report

9 hours 10 min ago
George Santos
  • The FBI is kicking off an investigation into Santos over a potential GoFundMe scam, per Politico.
  • Military veteran Rich Osthoff told Politico he was contacted by two FBI agents on Wednesday.
  • Osthoff in January accused Santos of taking over $3,000 from a fundraiser meant for a dying dog.

Federal agents are investigating accusations that Republican Rep. George Santos took more than $3,000 from a GoFundMe fundraiser meant for a military veteran's dying dog, per Politico.

Rich Osthoff, a former service member who lives in New Jersey, told Politico he was contacted on Wednesday by agents seeking information on Santos.

"I'm glad to get the ball rolling with the big-wigs," Osthoff told Politico. "I was worried that what happened to me was too long ago to be prosecuted."

Osthoff in January accused Santos of pocketing $3,000 that was intended for his dog, Sapphire, who was dying from a stomach tumor.  

Osthoff told the news outlet Patch that he had been introduced to a man named Anthony Devolder — one of Santos' known aliases — in 2016. Devolder set up a GoFundMe page for Sapphire in May 2016. However, Devolder started ghosting Osthoff after more than $3,000 was raised, Patch reported.

Osthoff told Patch Sapphire died in January 2017 after he could not afford to pay for her surgery. 

GoFundMe told Insider in January that the platform removed Santos' fundraiser for Sapphire in 2016, and put a ban on his email after they could not contact him. 

"When we received a report of an issue with this fundraiser in late 2016, our trust and safety team sought proof of the delivery of funds from the organizer," GoFundMe told Insider. 

"The organizer failed to respond, which led to the fundraiser being removed and the email associated with that account prohibited from further use on our platform," GoFundMe added in its statement. 

ABC reporter Will Steakin asked Santos questions about the investigation on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Santos told Steakin he has "no clue" about the DBI investigation, and has "never met" Osthoff. 

Santos previously denied knowing Osthoff in a January response to Semafor, when news about the GoFundMe first broke. 

"Fake," Santos told Semafor via text message. "No clue who this is."

A representative for Santos did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Santos has admitted to lying about various elements of his past, including going to universitybeing Jewish, and working at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. The congressman this week said he will step down from his positions on two House committees

Despite these scandals, Santos has refused to resign from his congressional seat, saying he will only do so if the people who voted for him in New York demand it. But a poll of Santos' district this week indicated that an overwhelming 78% of voters in the district want Santos out.

The Department of Justice and the US Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York did not respond to requests for comment from Insider.

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Indian tycoon Gautam Adani has abandoned a $2.5 billion fundraising effort in his latest setback following a short seller attack on his business empire

9 hours 51 min ago
Share prices of companies under Indian billionaire Gautam Adani's empire are under pressure following a short seller attack.
  • Indian tycoon Gautam Adani pulled a $2.5 billion share sale for Adani Enterprises on Wednesday.
  • Shares in Adani Group companies have lost $92 billion in market cap since a US short seller's fraud allegations.
  • Adani himself has lost nearly $50 billion in net worth from the stock rout so far this year.

Indian business tycoon Gautam Adani pulled a $2.5 billion share sale on Wednesday after shares in his flagship Adani Enterprises extended massive losses following a short seller attack.

The stunning reversal came even though Adani Enterprises' offering was fully subscribed Tuesday thanks to institutional investors, Bloomberg reported. However, demand from retail investors was low.

"Today the market has been unprecedented, and our stock price has fluctuated over the course of the day. Given these extraordinary circumstances, the Company's board felt that going ahead with the issue would not be morally correct," Adani, who is the chairman of Adani Enterprises, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Listed companies under the Adani Group have lost $92 billion in market capitalization since Hindenburg Research, a US short seller, released a scathing report last Tuesday alleging "brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme" at the Adani Group. Shares of Adani Enterprises, the conglomerate's flagship, lost 28% in one day on Wednesday and are down 43.5% in market value this year.

The Adani Group has been defending itself vigorously, but Hindenburg has also doubled down on its initial report.

The fallout has rattled the market. The Securities and Exchange Board of India, the country's market regulator, is looking into the massive selloff, as well as any irregularities in the secondary share sale, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

Adani himself has lost nearly $50 billion in net worth from the stock rout this year so far, costing him the crown as Asia's richest person, per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Adani is now worth about $72 billion, falling behind fellow Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani. The latter, who is the chairman of conglomerate Reliance Industries, is now the world's richest Asian, with a fortune of $81 billion.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Adani Group did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.

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Trump's new label for Ron DeSantis, 'RINO globalist,' has roots in a far-right conspiracy theory about an insidious global network of powerful people

10 hours 20 min ago
Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
  • Trump has a new label for Ron DeSantis: "RINO globalist." 
  • The term "RINO" means "Republican in name only" and was previously reserved for Trump's biggest foes.
  • Meanwhile, "globalist" has its roots in a far-right conspiracy theory.

Former President Donald Trump has a new label for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis: "RINO Globalist."

"The real Ron is a RINO GLOBALIST, who closed quickly down Florida and even its beaches. Loved the Vaccines and wasted big money on 'Testing.' How quickly people forget!," Trump wrote on Truth Social on Wednesday.

Far-right conspiracy theorists use the word "globalist" to refer to a fringe, anti-semitic conspiracy theory about a cabal of elite individuals secretly controlling the world. Trump's insult is a thinly-veiled accusation that DeSantis is part of this global network of powerful, evil people. Trump did not give any evidence to substantiate the claim. 

As for the term RINO, or "Republican in name only," that's an insult Trump reserves for his GOP political foes. He called former Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger "horrible RINOs" in February 2022 because they took seats on the January 6 committee investigating the Capitol riot.

The new insult marks a continuation of Trump's recent attacks on DeSantis. On Saturday, Trump called DeSantis "very disloyal" for contemplating a 2024 run against him.

"So then when I hear he might run, you know, I consider that very disloyal," Trump told reporters on board his plane, per CNN. "But, it's not about loyalty — to me it is, it's always about loyalty. But for a lot of people, it's not about that." 

The Trump-DeSantis drama is heating up

Trump announced his 2024 presidential run in November. DeSantis has not yet announced a run, but that has not stopped Trump from going on the offensive.

In November, Trump dubbed the governor "Ron DeSanctimonious" during a rally and blasted him as "average" on social media.

In January, Trump said he will "handle" DeSantis if the governor decides to launch a 2024 presidential bid. 

DeSantis has refrained from exchanging tit-for-tat insults with Trump. In November, DeSantis told people to "chill out" about the prospect of a GOP civil war between him and the former president.

On Tuesday, the governor finally acknowledged the onslaught of insults from Trump.

"I roll out of bed, I have people attacking me from all angles, it's been happening for many, many years," DeSantis said during a press conference in response to a question about Trump's attacks, per Politico

"The good thing is, is that the people are able to render a judgment on that whether they re-elect you or not," DeSantis added. "And I'm happy to say — you know, in my case — not only did we win re-election, we won with the highest percentage of the vote that any Republican governor candidate has had in the history of the state of Florida." 

Speaking to The Hill this week, Stephen Lawson, a political strategist who worked for DeSantis in 2018, said DeSantis is making a good move by just letting Trump "self-implode."

"Nobody has done more to hurt Donald Trump than himself and I think Gov. DeSantis is absolutely taking the right tact here, by completely ignoring Trump and letting him throw boomerangs," Lawson told The Hill. 

Representatives for DeSantis and Trump did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment. 

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The Biden administration gave Southwest a deadline to issue refunds for the flight chaos over Christmas. A month later, some passengers were still waiting to be paid.

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 9:57pm
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737.
  • Southwest cancelled thousands of flights in December, leaving passengers stranded over Christmas.
  • Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg gave the airline a deadline for refunds, but it came and went.
  • Southwest has said it is still working daily to process requests for refunds and reimbursements.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg gave Southwest Airlines a deadline to issue refunds to those who were impacted by the flight cancellation chaos over Christmas, but a month later some passengers said they were still waiting.

Hoards of travelers experienced flight cancelations over Christmas, but Southwest saw the worst of it. The airline experienced an operational meltdown, cancelling thousands of flights with the disruptions rippling throughout the travel industry.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg wrote a letter to Robert Jordan, the CEO of Southwest, on December 28, calling the debacle "unacceptable" and outlining steps the airline needed to take in response. He said the law required Southwest to "provide prompt refunds" for canceled flights that are not rebooked.

"This means Southwest must provide refunds within seven business days if a passenger paid by credit card, and within 20 days if a passenger paid by cash, check, or other means," the letter said, while also calling on the airline to cover ground transportationhotelsand meals for stranded passengers.

But as of this week, more than a month has passed and some passengers said they are still waiting.

A high school basketball team from Seattle, Washington, that got stranded in Las Vegas for five days over Christmas after Southwest canceled their flight had only received a partial refund as of Tuesday, the coaches told Insider. One coach and his wife also spent over $10,000 on incidental expenses to take care of the team and were still waiting on those reimbursement requests to be reviewed.

John Erickson, a Southwest passenger who was stuck in Denver for three days after Southwest canceled his flight, told WFLA the airline told him it would take months to receive his refund.

In a statement provided to Insider, Southwest rebuked the possibility it engaged in unrealistic flight schedules.

"Our holiday flight schedule was thoughtfully designed and offered to our Customers with the backing of a solid plan to operate it, and with ample staffing," the statement said, adding: "Our systems and processes became stressed while working to recover from multiple days of flight cancelations across 50 airports in the wake of an unprecedented storm."

Southwest previously told Insider last week it was still working daily to process refund and reimbursement requests from passengers.

When contacted by Insider about Southwest not meeting Buttigieg's timeframe, a Department of Transportation spokesperson said they are still investigating "Southwest Airlines' holiday debacle that stranded millions."

The spokesperson said DOT "will hold Southwest accountable if it fails" to issue timely refunds or reimbursements. They added that the agency is also investigating "whether Southwest executives engaged in unrealistic scheduling of flights which under federal law is considered an unfair and deceptive practice."

Passengers who have not received refunds can also file a complaint with the DOT, and Buttigieg has said the agency will follow up on every one of them to ensure they're taken care of.

DOT has not been clear about how it plans to hold airlines accountable or enforce its deadlines. John Breyault, the vice president for public policy at the National Consumers League, told The New York Times last month that DOT has been hesitant to hold the airlines accountable, adding: "While Secretary Buttigieg has talked a tough talk, particularly over the past few months, we have yet to see that really translate into action."

Have a news tip or a travel story to share? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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Marine veteran who boasted about assaulting police officers with chemical spray on Jan. 6 is sentenced to more than 5 years

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 9:46pm
Daniel Caldwell was sentenced to 68 months in prison.
  • A Marine veteran was sentenced to more than 5 years in prison on a Jan. 6 charge on Wednesday.
  • Daniel Caldwell, 51, has been in pre-trial custody since he was arrested in Feb. 2021.
  • Prosecutors say he was caught on camera assaulting police officers and later bragging about it.

A Marine veteran who was caught on camera assaulting a line of police officers with a chemical irritant on Jan. 6, and later bragged about the attack in a video interview was sentenced to more than five years in prison on Wednesday in one of the steepest sentences stemming from the insurrection thus far.

Daniel Caldwell, 51, of Texas, has spent nearly the last two years in pretrial custody after he was arrested on six counts related to the riot in February 2021. Caldwell pleaded guilty to one count of assaulting police officers with a deadly weapon in September 2022.

US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly sentenced Caldwell to 68 months in prison on Wednesday, as well as $2,000 in restitution for damage to the Capitol. Prosecutors had requested 70 months. 

Prosecutors say a YouTube video posted on January 2021 shows Caldwell "spraying a mist" at police who were trying to defend the building from rioters. In a separate video, Caldwell discussed the assault, telling the person behind the camera that he "got like 15 of them," referring to the officers.

—Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) August 13, 2021

 

In court on Wednesday, Caldwell offered a tearful apology while expressing remorse for his behavior on Jan. 6, according to Politico, asking the judge for mercy and describing the ways in which he has tried to better himself in the two years since the attack, including through reading self-help books while in custody.

Kollar-Kotelly, however, refused to yield, calling Caldwell an insurrectionist several times during the hearing, according to the outlet, and saying his use of the chemical irritant nearly broke the police line and left several officers with psychological and physical trauma. 

"I must face my actions head-on," Caldwell said in court on Wednesday, per Politico. "I hope that you and our country never have to face another day like January 6th."

Robert L. Jenkins, an attorney for Caldwell, told Insider that he and his client understand the judge's motivations in handing down such a steep sentence, but believe 68 months was "much higher than what it needed to be," both in light of Caldwell's individual conduct and other sentences that have been imposed in similar cases.

Caldwell will receive credit for the nearly two years he has already spent in custody.

"Being a Marine, I should have known better. … I wish I could take it back, but I can't," he reportedly said.

At least 978 people have been charged in connection with the attack thus far, and more than 470 people have pleaded guilty. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Mark Zuckerberg is finally embracing his new role as Meta's Chopper-in-Chief. Here are the plans he just laid out to further cut costs in 2023.

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 9:03pm
  • The CEO said growth will probably not "go back to the way it was before."
  • Meta has entered a new era, Zuckerberg tells analysts on a conference call.
  • The company is canceling multiple data center projects.

Mark Zuckerberg caught the cost-cutting bug.

During a call with Wall Street analysts discussing Meta's fourth-quarter results, Zuckerberg said his new push for "efficiency" in 2023 was inspired by how much better the company seemed to perform in the wake of November's mass layoffs and other moves, like closing offices. The improvement was "unexpected," he added, and made him realize the company has entered a new era.

"For the first 18 years, I think we grew it, you know, 20%, 30% compound or a lot more every year, right? And, and then obviously that changed very dramatically in 2022, where our our revenue was negative for the first time in the company's history," he said. "We don't anticipate that that's gonna continue, but I also don't think it's gonna necessarily go back to the way it was before."

"It's been a rapid phase-change, to take a step back and say, 'Ok, we can't treat everything like it's hyper growth,'" he added. "We have a lot of things now that a lot of people use and that support a large amount of business and we should operate somewhat differently."

To that end, Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is planning to further cut costs this year. Zuckerberg brought up last year's 11,000 layoffs, and made it clear that move "was the beginning of our focus on efficiency and there would be additional steps."

Closing and merging offices

One of the additional steps is the closing and "consolidation" of more offices. It cost the company $2.2 billion last year to exit a number of major leases as Meta decided to continue allowing remote work on a full-time basis. Desk sharing is being implemented this year as offices in California, Seattle and New York are set to close. The office space dedicated to Instagram in San Francisco is going to close this year, for instance, set to be combined with the main Facebook office building also in San Francisco. 

Susan Li, Meta's new CFO, said during the call that the company would see another $1 billion in charges related to lease exits this year. She also noted that "further costs from restructuring efforts" are possible.

Employees are bracing for more layoffs 

That could come from a new round of layoffs. Employees are bracing for another 5% to 10% cut to headcount as performance reviews wrap up and Zuckerberg talks about wanting to "flatten" the reporting structure. He said on Wednesday the company is "removing some layers of middle management" and noted that Reality Labs, which is building a metaverse, is not safe from more cuts. Many managers have already lost their jobs, as Insider reported. Layoffs in the fourth quarter cost the company $975 million, according to Wednesday's disclosure.

"What makes you a better company over time is being able to execute and do more because you're operating more efficiently," Zuckerberg said. "We're in a different environment now where a lot of what we do, it makes sense to focus on the efficiency a lot more than we had previously and make sure we can work effectively. For what it's worth, I think it'll be a more fun place for people to work because they can get more stuff done."

Canceling multiple data center projects

Meta has also been canceling multiple data center projects, and incurred $1.3 billion in charges related to that. This effort is continuing into 2023. Li said the same operational "scrutiny" being applied to other areas of the company is going toward data centers as well.

The building and maintenance of data centers is typically a huge expense for any big tech company, despite many tax incentives handed out by state governments to host them. Meta is undertaking an entirely new architecture for its data centers, Li said, that will give the company the capacity to use them for AI and non-AI needs and workloads. The company did not disclose which current data centers are being closed or affected by the design changes. Although, the goal is for data centers to simply cost the company less money.

"It will be cheaper and faster to design," Li said of the new center architecture. "And we are going to optimize our overall approach to building data centers."

Are you a Facebook, Twitter, or Snap employee with insight to share? Got a tip? Contact Kali Hays at khays@insider.com or through secure messaging app Signal at 949-280-0267. Reach out using a non-work device. Twitter DM at @hayskali.

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Trump probably won't win his $50 million lawsuit against Bob Woodward with experts saying the suit 'turns the First Amendment on its head'

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 8:41pm
Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward and former President Donald Trump.
  • Former President Trump claims he owns the audio rights to interviews conducted by Bob Woodward.
  • But legal experts say it's unlikely a court will agree with Trump, who claims he's owed $50 million.
  • It's "a huge reach," one lawyer told Insider.

Donald Trump wants to get paid or, at the very least, he wants to let everyone know that he's mad.

In a lawsuit filed last month, lawyers for the former president argued that he's due a hair under $50 million from journalist Bob Woodward and his publisher, Simon & Schuster, over the release of an audiobook containing more than 8 hours of interviews conducted while he was still in the White House.

"The case centers on Mr. Woodward's systematic usurpation, manipulation, and exploitation of audio of [former] President Trump," states the complaint, filed with a federal court in Florida. Woodward, the suit alleges, was entitled to use that audio for a written book — emphasis on "a," and "written" — but when that book did not sell as well as he'd hoped, the suit claims ("'Rage' was a complete and total failure"), he broke his word and packaged the recordings as a separate work. 

The lawsuit hinges on an alleged promise that does not appear to have been made in writing. To support the case that The Washington Post journalist violated a contract with the former president, the lawsuit quotes a December 2019 exchange at Mar-a-Lago in which Trump, asked to speak on the record, responds: "For the book only, right? Only for the book." Woodward responds in the affirmative.

But the next line, from Trump and quoted in his own lawsuit, points to the ambiguity of that verbal agreement, indicating that the underlying issue was not whether The Washington Post journalist intended to publish one book (or two, or three), but whether he intended to use the material for articles in a newspaper: "So there's no stories coming out, okay."

Experts consulted by Insider suggest that the suit, while not nearly as flimsy as the former president's election-related litigation, is unlikely to succeed — and might just be a way to lend weight to a grievance, legitimate or not, that has no legal remedy.

"It's a press release designed as a complaint," Lloyd J. Jassin, a lawyer who specializes in copyright disputes, said in an interview. Trump styles himself as a savvy businessman — his lawsuit lists all his best-selling books on how to get rich — and yet he got burned by a reporter. 

"There's no detriment to him other than injury, in my opinion, to his ego and image," Jassin said.

A Trump win could make reporting harder

Woodward's book "Rage," based on his 20 interviews with Trump, was published by Simon & Schuster in October 2020, selling more than 600,000 copies in its first week — a blockbuster for any other author, but somewhat below expectations for the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. The audiobook didn't go on sale for another two years — after, Woodward says, he decided its release served the public interest.

"You see who this man is, what he cares about, the self-focus, the absence of being concerned about the people out there," Woodward explained in an interview on MSNBC. "This is while he was president in 2020. All this, it is an amazing portrait of a man."

Trump, per his lawsuit, believes he should have had veto power.

"If Woodward intended to create an oral history in which he could claim rights," the complaint states, "then according to best industry practices, he would have had [former] President Trump as the participant sign over his rights as part of the standard procedures of conducting the interview, after each recording or at the end of the last interview. Woodward did not adhere to this standard and, as such, relinquished any such rights."

Journalists, however, do not typically ask sources to sign anything before an interview, much less documents outlining potential revenue sharing.

Art Neill, clinical professor and director of the New Media Rights Program at California Western School of Law, said it's unlikely that a judge will want to, among other things, establish a precedent imposing a laborious new requirement on newsgathering.

"A decision in his favor would create more friction, day to day, for journalists who would have to go even further in terms of thinking about what kind of contracts and releases they're going to get signed by sources," Neill said. 

To even get to that point, Trump would need to show not only that he had ownership over the interview, but that the two parties explicitly agreed to not release the audio. 

Even if Woodward had lied by omission that would likely not be enough for a court to step in and assert that an ambiguous contract had been violated, with the remedy being that a politician — who is once again running for the highest office — is entitled to a share in the revenue generated by a reporter's interview. A judge would also have to rule that, copyright and contract law aside, there is no "fair use" justification for a reporter publishing a president's remarks.

"That's a huge reach," Neill said.

A free press and the public interest

Trump, famously, did not distinguish between himself, the oft-licensed brand, and the office of the presidency. That much is evident in his lawsuit, which asserts personal ownership over statements he made in the White House while being paid a taxpayer-funded salary, complaining that Woodward and his publisher released their audiobook "solely for their own financial gain and without any accounting or recompense to him." 

But the argument for monetary damages is undermined, in part, by something else the lawsuit appears to acknowledge. The complaint argues that what is billed by Woodward and his publisher as "raw" audio was in fact lightly edited, implying malice and providing a transcript noting the words that were omitted from the final product — something that could only be done if one had access to the original recording. 

Trump could have published and sold this audio himself, then, at least in part. But why would he? The release was generally considered embarrassing for the former president, showing that he publicly downplayed the severity of COVID-19 in order, as he put it, not to "panic the people," and intervened to protect a Saudi crown prince — "I saved his ass" — from being sanctioned over the murder of a US citizen.

Trump, of course, is also not a normal person. He is, rather, a former head of state and, at the time he was speaking with a famous journalist, he was an American president opining on both domestic and foreign policy, often speaking from the Oval Office, in the middle of a pandemic. 

A publisher's chief interest may be making money (it could even be an author's), but experts say that would not alter the fact that there is, inherently, a public interest served by releasing what a powerful politician has to say about matters of life and death. Some have even argued that the former president's remarks should have been released sooner, not saved for a book at all.

In a joint statement, Woodard and Simon & Schuster said they are confident Trump's lawsuit is "without merit."

"All these interviews were on the record and recorded with President Trump's knowledge and agreement," the parties told Insider. "Moreover, it is in the public interest to have this historical record in Trump's own words. We are confident that the facts and the law are in our favor."

Free speech advocates are not universally concerned with the case. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression both declined to comment. But some do fear that any ruling in the former president's favor, however unlikely, would set a troubling precedent, enabling a politician to dictate how and when their own words, while in office, can be made public.

"A sitting president knowingly sat down for recorded interviews with one of the most accomplished journalists of our age and talked about matters of great public interest," Seth D. Berlin, an attorney with the firm Ballard Spahr who has represented media clients in copyright and other disputes, told Insider. "Filing a lawsuit over publishing those interviews turns the First Amendment on its head."

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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Meta's layoffs were expensive — it may have spent more than $88,000 per employee to cut 11,000 from the ranks

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 7:35pm


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg cut 13% of the company's workforce in November.
  • In November 2022, Meta laid off more than 11,000 employees, or 13% of its workforce.
  • The layoffs were the most significant job cuts in the company's history.
  • It's possible the company spent around $88,000 a person in cutting those employees.

The numbers are in, and Meta's mass layoffs announced in November cost the company a pretty penny.

On Wednesday, Myles Udland— now the Head of News at Yahoo Finance and a former markets correspondent for Insider — laid out part of Meta's balance sheet in a tweet:

—Myles Udland (@MylesUdland) February 1, 2023

 

Udland estimated that Meta shelled out approximately $88,000 a person to cut more than 11,000 employees out of its workforce in November. 

The number comes from dividing the $975 million that the company paid in "Severance and Other Personnel" costs by 11,000, approximately the number of employees the company cut in November. The result comes out to around $88,636 a person, adding room for the "more than" 11,000.  

The calculation was subsequently confirmed by Daniel Ives, managing director and senior equity analyst at investment firm Wedbush Securities. 

The cost of cutting those employees is particularly significant amid rising concerns that Meta is preparing for an additional round of layoffs this year. 

In the company's fourth-quarter earnings release posted Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg warned that Meta's management theme for 2023 was 'Year of Efficiency.'

Meta did not immediately respond to Insider's request for a comment. 

 

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Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes a U-turn on metaverse spending as Reality Labs is hit with a new 'efficiency' mantra

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 7:26pm
Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook's first ever Meta Store
  • Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg for months has defended losing tens of billions on his metaverse ambitions.
  • Zuckerberg's tone has shifted to one of cost-cutting and "efficiency."
  • Metaverse spending will continue, although "we're constantly shifting how we execute," he said.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has gone in a few months' time from pushing the metaverse as the future of his company to it being just another long term project.

The Reality Labs division, tasked with building the metaverse, lost $13.7 billion this year, according to Wednesday's disclosure. Zuckerberg said Meta will focus on "efficiency" going forward, he said on a call with Wall Street analysts discussing its fourth quarter financial results. He added that last year's layoffs and an ongoing reorganization "surprised" him as they not only cut costs, but also improved communication and progress on future products.

"By reducing layers of management, it's made information flow through the company better, and it will help us make better products and attract and retain better people," Zuckerberg said on the call. "That was honestly a little surprising to me – that as we started digging into this, the company felt better to me."

Susan Li, Meta's new CFO, said on the call that losses from Reality Labs will "continue" in 2023 because it is a "long duration investment." Still, Reality Labs would be subject to the same push for efficiency as other parts of the company, Zuckerberg said.

Previously, Zuckerberg has said several times over the last year that spending on the metaverse was about fortifying the future of Meta, formerly known as Facebook, as well as the "future of the internet," and that building the metaverse would prove historic.

And in October, Zuckerberg struck a defiant tone on spending while discussing third quarter earnings, particularly that going toward the metaverse. David Wehner, the then-CFO who is now chief strategy officer, said spending on the Reality Labs division would increase "significantly" in 2023.

"I think people are going to look back, decades from now, and talk about the importance of the work that was done here," Zuckerberg said last fall.

Such boasting of the metaverse and the Reality Labs division was nowhere to be found during Wednesday's discussion of the year ahead. Instead, praise went to the growth of business messaging and AI investments that have started to improve Meta's advertising business and user targeting capabilities. Meta's stock rose in after-hours trading by nearly 20%, to its highest level in seven months. 

While Zuckerberg fell short of saying outright that the company will pull back spending on the metaverse, which investors have demanded for months, he did say moves toward efficiency are happening, including to Reality Labs.

"We're looking at the signals and learning what makes sense to do going forward," Zuckerberg said. "We're constantly shifting how we execute. Other things like flattening the org structure, those are going to affect the whole company, both in Reality Labs and Family of Apps. We want the work to be more efficient."

Are you a tech employee or someone else with insight to share? Contact Kali Hays at khays@insider.com, on secure messaging app Signal at 949-280-0267, or through Twitter DM at @hayskali. Reach out using a non-work device.

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I followed Nancy Pelosi's diet of breakfast ice cream and hot dogs for a week, and I ping-ponged between euphoria and the depths of despair

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 7:08pm
The speaker of the House eating beef jerky during the January 6, 2021, insurrection, and me eating beef jerky under similarly distressing conditions.
  • When Nancy Pelosi announced she was stepping down from party leadership, her lunch was a hot dog.
  • According to my research, Pelosi eats ice cream for breakfast, and hot dogs for lunch.
  • I decided to eat like Pelosi for a week because I thought it would be fun. It wasn't. 

When Nancy Pelosi announced in November she would step down from Democratic leadership, the public conversation revolved around many things: her place in history as the first female House speaker, her legislative accomplishments, and her likely successor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy. (He's having a great time.)

I didn't pay attention to any of this, however. I was stuck on something else.

When asked what she planned to eat for lunch on such a momentous day, she said a hot dog with mustard and relish — the same thing she eats every day.

—Natalie Andrews (@nataliewsj) November 17, 2022

As a hot-dog lover myself, I was intrigued. A daily diet of salty meat tubes is inspirational, though perhaps bad news for her arteries. I wondered whether hot dogs were her only vice. Perhaps she stuck to egg-white omelets and grilled chicken for other meals, or took a green smoothie on her early-morning walks.

After 30 seconds of Googling, I discovered something incredible: The 82-year-old former speaker follows the diet of a wealthy toddler with zero parental supervision. Chocolate ice cream for breakfast, rich and creamy pasta, and lots of snacking chocolate. She claims she doesn't exercise; her daughter once arrived home to find her mother eating chocolate ice cream while using a stationary bike.

Pelosi offered a basket of Ghirardelli chocolate — a noted favorite — to Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri after losing a bet over the Super Bowl in 2020.

I bet I could do this, I thought. Sure, she didn't drink coffee, but I had recently gone a week coffee-free while laid out with COVID. Ice cream for breakfast sounded great. And while Pelosi is known for her teetotaler ways, I was already doing Dry January. After a few days of haranguing Insider's politics editors — "We can only understand America's soul by investigating its bowels," I told them — they agreed to let me write about my week eating like Nancy Pelosi.

I am not sure who regretted it more.

What follows is my attempt to live like Nancy, or at least eat like her.

Gathering supplies

I spend a few days tracking down what I can about Pelosi's eating habits. I decide on some ground rules: I can eat only things mentioned by her or her spokespeople, or things for which there is visual proof of her consumption.

This left me with a good working list: Jeni's "Darkest Chocolate" ice cream; hot water with lemon; bacon; chocolate doughnuts; salads (chopped and Caesar); risotto, pizza, and pasta, especially alfredo and pesto; Chinese and Ethiopian food; Ghirardelli chocolate; jerky; and, of course, hot dogs.

I decide to begin the diet on a Monday, so I place a grocery order for the Sunday before. I sleep through the delivery because I was experimenting with not drinking coffee, which doesn't seem promising. Luckily, the food is still outside my front door when I wake up, save for a couple of things they were out of. I make a mental note to buy them tomorrow.

My groceries for the week, including ingredients to make mushroom risotto, chopped salad, and Pelosi's hot dogs.

When I told people I was embarking on this diet, they were not enthusiastic. "This is not a good idea," my friend Ethan said. "You're going to obliterate your stomach." My friend Rafi was more excited. "You get to expense a gallon full of Pepto," he said. (I did not do that.) Truthfully, though, I wasn't worried. If anything, it seemed like a fun test of my willpower.

To prepare for a week spent eating pasta and chocolate, I make some Annie's white-cheddar macaroni and cheese and eat a large slice of leftover chocolate cake for dinner. Game on.

Day 1

My cat wakes me up by throwing up on a throw pillow. It would be great to clean that up with some coffee in my system, but I take inspiration from Pelosi's iron will and resist.

Daisy, the vomiting cat in question.

Instead, I prepare my breakfast: hot lemon water and ice cream. I squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a mug and use the other half as a garnish. There are unappetizing bits of pulp floating everywhere, but after the first sip I'm on board. I feel like a hot wellness guru who tells her TikTok followers to use turmeric as birth control.

The coffee grinder is taunting me.

The chill of the ice cream is a jolt, and it's pleasingly chocolatey. I will give it to Nancy: Jeni's slaps.

But hot water and lemon isn't a caffeine substitute, and soon my head is pounding. An hour later, I feel even worse, so I give in and make some black tea. Though it offers my brain momentary relief, nice things — much as in life — are always fleeting, and the headache reaches nuclear proportions. I feel hungover despite abstaining from alcohol for over two weeks. I take two ibuprofen and scribble, "Nancy, what the fuck?" in my notes.

To celebrate the diet's inauguration, I ask my colleagues Kate and Bob to accompany me to Glizzy's, a fancy new hot-dog place.

Is this journalistically ethical?

I consider running there — Bob, who was famously miserable after eating like Warren Buffett for a week, advised me to stay active during my diet — but I decide my Agonies are bad enough already, so I take the bus. On the way, I feel ferally attracted to a Big Mac ad I see in the window of a McDonald's.

Bus sadness.

At Glizzy's, I get the Sean Paul (jerked smoked brisket, coleslaw, and Mike's Hot Honey) and the Chinatown (cucumber, chili crisps, cilantro, fried shallots, scallions, and mapo sauce). I also order a Coke, because I want to die, so I follow the lead of Pelosi, a "devout Catholic," and pray the caffeine helps.

I didn't FaceTune this.

Fortunately, the hot dogs are excellent, and the food revives me. I feel like a new woman and gladly participate in a debate over the best hot dog we've ever had. "You can't have the best hot dog you've ever had in the winter," Kate argues, and I don't disagree.

If you look closely, you can see the life flooding back into my eyes.

I learn that Nancy was recently seen shopping at a CVS, so we walk to the nearest pharmacy to buy the missing grocery items, including Ghirardelli's dark-chocolate almond squares. My research didn't identify the root of Nancy's chocolate obsession, but I reason that it's relatively harmless compared with her fellow modern-era speakers' chosen vices: John Boehner smoked two packs a day, Paul Ryan was a simp for CrossFit, and Kevin McCarthy regularly indulges in his humiliation fetish.

We go to a dog bar where I admire lots of cute dogs but nurse a seltzer instead of a Narragansett. When I get home, I remember I had planned to cook risotto for dinner, but the first day of the diet has left me exhausted. Instead, I eat more Annie's macaroni and cheese and chocolate cake and watch both Tom Brady and the Cowboys kicker debase themselves on national television.

Day 1 rating: one out of five gavels

Day 2

I make some adjustments based on yesterday's struggles. I save the ice cream for later to avoid a massive sugar crash and start out with a cup of black tea instead. Reliable sources told me Pelosi occasionally indulged in an espresso — something later confirmed in a New York Times story — so I reason that a daily cup of tea is acceptable. (I also do this because when I tell my boss I'm not drinking coffee for an entire workweek, the look on her face suggests she regrets letting me write this story.) I feel much better!

An hour later, in need of some energy to finish editing, I eat a bowl of ice cream. Once again it is delicious. Once again I find myself in the ninth circle of sugar hell soon after. Later, when I'm drinking my lemon water, I tell two colleagues about the diet, explaining that it's for a stunt blog. Their one-syllable "hehs" are reminiscent of how you laugh when your friend's horrible boyfriend just told a lame joke.

I don't live in San Francisco and can't get a chopped salad from one of Nancy's favorite establishments, Rose's Café, so I use this recipe to make my own. I make some alterations — I will sooner die than eat blue cheese, and I use shallots instead of scallions because I have one on hand — but it's a great salad: lemony, varied in texture and color, and hearty.

While I wait for the jammy eggs to cook, I wonder whether Pelosi has opinions about the jammy-egg connoisseur Alison Roman's 2020 cancellation. I decide she probably has no idea who she is.

I wanted to make a hot dog as well, but I didn't plan my afternoon properly and had time only for the salad. I apologize to Nancy and take a sad-looking selfie as penance.

By not eating a hot dog I have disappointed Nancy, but more important, I have disappointed myself.

For dinner, I'm much more prepared and set about making this mushroom risotto. I buy cooking wine rather than regular wine since I'm not drinking, but I forget the key characteristic of cooking wine, which is "disgusting." In an especially disturbing turn of events, I discover it's salty. But Insider spent $25 on these mushrooms, and I refuse to let them go to waste, so I get experimental: I mix chicken stock with some white-wine vinegar and throw it in the pot. It's … fine!

Though this may look like a cast-iron pan full of feces, it is in fact $25 worth of wild mushrooms.

After dinner, I investigate the chocolate cake, which is now stale. I figure Nancy wouldn't let chocolate go to waste, however, and I polish off the rest of it.

Day 2 rating: three out of five gavels

Day 3

I wake up and take the same tack as yesterday: black tea. I also snarf some leftover risotto to coat my stomach before tackling the ice cream. I decide to go for a run later because I haven't left the house since Monday.

At 2 p.m., however, I realize I forgot to eat the ice cream. I should take a moment to confess: I'm not a big sugar person. Put a bag of salt-and-vinegar chips in front of me and I'll finish them all, but a pint of ice cream doesn't do much for me. Thus far, Nancy's diet hasn't done much to change my mind.

I don't want to deal with the sugar crash before a block of meetings, so I make a hot dog, Nancy-style. I still don't know exactly how she cooks her dogs, but I prefer grilled, so I put one in the pan and toast a bun. I swipe some Dijon mustard on and pop open the jar of relish, at which point I realize that I bought sweet relish, which tastes like cinnamon. It's not great. However, I don't want to slack off after the ice-cream episode, so I slather it on. The hot dog kind of masks the flavor, but I'm not impressed with Nancy's hot-dog preparation.

At 4 p.m., to make up for my ice-cream failure, I eat an entire bag of Ghirardelli's dark-chocolate squares.

Taking inspiration from Pelosi's hatred of exercise, I do not go for a run. Perhaps relatedly, I'm beginning to feel as if my body is made of wet clay. I'm hungry, but I also feel vaguely sick. I take it as a sign that perhaps my regular diet isn't so bad after all.

For dinner, I force myself to order fettuccine with alfredo sauce and a Caesar salad. As I pace around my apartment, I pause in front of my full-length mirror. I stare at myself and poke my hips. I wonder whether this diet is giving me body dysmorphia.

I add a chocolate cannoli to my order.

I start watching "Letterkenny," a show about a town in rural Ontario. It's funny, and also full of hot people. The food eventually arrives, and as always it's packaged beautifully and the delivery people are preternaturally friendly. Shoutout to Corato I!

I strongly believe there is nothing better than a good Caesar salad. I went through a real Caesar-salad phase when I was a teenager, and I ordered them every time we went out to eat. My father wasn't happy, owing to a traumatic Caesar-salad-involved food-poisoning incident in San Diego many years ago.

The Caesar salad is tremendous. The alfredo needs some salt, but there are 17 pounds of it, so I allow it. The cannoli is also good, though I wouldn't describe myself as a cannoli connoisseur, so my opinion isn't worth a whole lot here.

At 11 p.m., I come out of my fugue state and realize I've eaten 15 pounds of the alfredo and feel horrific. I once again find myself praying.

Day 3 rating: two out of five gavels

Day 4

I wake up feeling as if I've been hit by a car. Or maybe the engine of that car, if it were full of sand. I suck it up and eat some ice cream. I make another relish-and-mustard hot dog for lunch, as well as another chopped salad, because I need a vegetable.

I'm sure I won't regret putting this on the internet.

Later, I prepare to take a bite of the beef jerky. Nancy was captured tearing open a package of jerky while talking to then-Vice President Mike Pence during the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack; I record a video in which I do the same. It will never see the light of day.

I generally hate jerky, though my boss tells me I should try the "flaked" kind rather than the "stick" kind. I take this under advisement.

For someone who loves hot dogs as much as I do, I feel as if I should enjoy beef jerky. Humans: a real land of contrasts.

As expected, it's hellish. Awful. Satan's squishy stick. I write "can I give this to the cats?" in my notes.

For dinner, I heat up some alfredo, and I learn that heating up alfredo doesn't work because you end up with an ocean of butter and some weird chunks of cream. When I ask my group chat about it, my friend Jordan explains that it's because alfredo is an "emulsion," which I trust because Jordan is from New Jersey and thus has an innate understanding of pasta.

At this point in the night — the exact timing of which I don't remember for reasons that will immediately become clear — I decide I need to unwind a little. I light a joint and kick back. (I couldn't find anything indicating Nancy has ever gotten stoned, but her son was, at one point, the chairman of the board of a medical pot company called Freedom Leaf Inc., so we'll call it even.)

The following timeline is pieced together from my notes, Slack conversations, and browser history.

8:35

8:50


Somewhere between 8:51 and 8:57 I finish the entire pint. I jot down "chocolate is so good. ???"

8:58

9:14

10:47

I spend the next 45 minutes researching lamps and curtains. At 11:32, I write down the following:

I find myself thinking about this prison I've imposed upon my self, [sic] this decision to cede control of my own digestive tract to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. All I want is my agency!!!!!!!

I have turned into the beesechurger tweet. I forbid myself from getting stoned on this diet again.

Day 4 rating: The limit of gavels does not exist

Day 5

I'm out of ice cream since I ate all of it last night in a haze, so I can only drink tea this morning. The lack of coffee is especially challenging today. I feel full of tar, but a trip to the bathroom does the trick. Troublingly, the diet seems to have improved my digestive system. I wonder what my colon looks like!

I planned to go to a nearby Dunkin' for a chocolate doughnut, but I once again planned my day poorly, so I make a sandwich with tomato, bacon, and cucumber instead. I apologize to Nancy for once again failing to adhere to her diet. I rationalize it by telling myself I'm going to a dessert bar later.

I'm still hungry, so I make another sandwich. I realize too late I've run out of tomatoes, so it's just a bacon-and-cucumber sandwich, which makes me feel like a pervert.

The only saving grace is that I used Kewpie mayo.

I leave for the dessert bar at 6:15. I'm meeting a man for a second date, but on the way he texts me that the original location does only private events now, so we have to find a plan B. We end up at a vegan crepe café, where I order some green tea and a crepe with jam and "clotted cream" that looks more like ejaculate. I'm certain Nancy would not approve.

Day 5 rating: 2 ½ gavels out of five

Day 6

It's the freakin' weekend, baby! I do the crossword and fantasize about drinking a cup of coffee. I don't, but promise myself a Diet Coke or three at the birthday gathering I'm attending later. On the walk to the bus, I almost stop at a Dunkin', but I resist.

One big problem with my adherence to this diet is I frequently fail to eat breakfast. I usually don't get hungry until I've been up for a few hours, which is how I end up with an empty stomach at a bar at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Someone leaves the back door open, so I cower in the corner wrapped in a shawl sipping on Diet Cokes.

Drinking a Diet Coke in an icy tundra.

That night, I meet a friend for dinner at Kiki's, a Greek restaurant. I try to suss out what Nancy might eat, and we end up sharing moussaka, a Greek salad, spanakopita, and … a carafe of wine. Nancy, forgive me. My friend is going through it, so I decide I can briefly break Dry January and Nancy's strict no-booze rule to commiserate with her. We then go to a bar full of 20-year-olds, which makes me feel like Nancy Pelosi in a Congress full of Maxwell Frosts. We leave after half an hour.

Unfortunately, my alcohol tolerance has plummeted, so when I get home I order a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolate, another bag of Ghirardelli squares, and a Gatorade. This involves an embarrassing phone conversation with my nice delivery person who asks me whether she can get a bigger box of Ferrero Rocher because they're out of the smaller size. I will leave you to guess what my answer was.

Evidence of my Dry January failure.

Day 6 rating: four out of five gavels

Day 7

I wake up slightly hungover to a text from the second-date guy explaining that he doesn't feel like we have much chemistry and wishing me "good luck." I choose to blame the foul vegan crepe instead of my sparkling personality. I chug the Gatorade and curse Nancy for forbidding me coffee. I still haven't replaced the ice cream, so I eat the stale semolina bread from this week's pasta delivery.

I meet my friend Alex at about 4 o'clock to watch the Bills play the Bengals. Alex is a son of western New York, so he yells and flails his hands a lot. We eventually move to a bar with food, where I order yet another Caesar salad. Alex makes fun of me and I tell him to eat shit. We also split a plate of Buffalo wings for the occasion; he takes my last wing by accident but then tells me "it's for my own good" because "wings are not part of Nancy's diet." I tell him to eat shit again.

The woman next to me drank four full glasses of red wine and yelled at Bills quarterback Josh Allen a lot.

The Bills lose in depressing fashion, and I walk home in the rain. When I get back, I eat more Ghirardelli squares and another hot dog. The Bills are not the only losers tonight.

Day 7 rating: zero out of five gavels

Epilogue

After I stopped eating like Nancy, my brain returned to normal and I no longer felt like a human sandbag. I do, however, concede that chocolate is actually pretty great, and I decided to buy more Jeni's ice cream in the future.

Most important, my week eating like Nancy confirmed one of my most deeply held beliefs about America: Our most successful people are freaks.

If you know me, you know I've got to have my java.Totals:

Cups of coffee: 0
Glasses of wine: 2
Hot dogs: 5
Apologies to Nancy Pelosi: 3
Pints of ice cream: 1
Pieces of chocolate: 46
Miles run: 0
Prayers: 2

Read the original article on Business Insider

Meta is slashing its costs by another $4 billion, and investors are thrilled

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 6:32pm
Meta said it would spend less in 2023 — and investors cheered big-time, sending the stock up nearly 19% in after-hours trade.
  • Meta said it would slash its spending in 2023, with Mark Zuckerberg touting an efficiency drive.
  • Investors cheered, sending Meta's stock up nearly 19% in after-hours trade.
  • More job cuts could also be on the line after the company slashed 11,000 at the end of 2022.

Meta said Wednesday it would put the brakes on spending this year. Investors reacted with a cheer, sending the stock nearly 19% higher in after-hours trade.

The company said it expected capital expenditures to fall by $4 billion from what it had previously expected.

And CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was calling 2023 the "year of efficiency." That means more job cuts — and lower operating costs — could also be in the pipeline after Meta already cut 11,000 jobs in November.

Some Wall Street analysts had been expecting the cut to capital expenditure spending, but Meta delivered an even sharper-than-expected cut. It now expects to spend between $30-33 billion compared to its previous estimate of $34-37 billion. Meta announced last year that it was pausing a number of its data center redesigns, including ones in Denmark and Texas. The Silicon Valley company also said it was canceling some projects to further meet new budget goals.

Analysts at UBS said in a note that the earnings hinted at even more cuts to come. They said shares were "under-owned" — or, in other words, that it's a good time to buy. The company itself said it would embark on a $40 billion stock buyback.

That's all music to Meta investors' ears. And it also helps Mark Zuckerberg's net worth crawl back from the depths — if the stock gains stick — after it's taken a big hit over the past year.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Here's what happens when US Navy special operators go up against dolphins trained to keep them out of sensitive bases

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 6:11pm
Zak, a California sea lion in the US Navy's Marine Mammal Program, in the Middle East in January 2003.
  • The US Navy has been training dolphins and sea lions to detect undersea threats since the 1960s.
  • Over the years, the Navy has put those animals up against its most skilled human operators.
  • "Those mammals were very real and very scary," a former US Navy SEAL officer told Insider.

At the height of the Cold War, the US Navy turned to an unlikely source to protect its prized warships: dolphins and sea lions.

Beginning in the 1960s, the Navy implemented the Marine Mammal Program to defend ports and the important ships berthed there, especially nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines, both of which are key to US power-projection and deterrence.

The program tested out a number of animals but found dolphins and sea lions to be the best suited for the mission. Their biological sonars enable them to detect things that electronic sonar might miss, such as enemy mines or lost equipment, and sea lions have sensitive hearing and acute eyesight that allows them to monitor the murkiest water for threats like enemy divers.

Marine Mammal Program members demonstrate the capabilities of a dolphin in Corpus Christi in May 2009.

To track the dolphin underwater, the handler will attach a "pinger" device on the pectoral fin of the dolphin that will show the mammal's position. If the dolphin detects something, it will either attack it or surface to alert the handlers, who roam the surrounding waters in small boats.

The Navy has deployed its dolphins in war zones, such as Vietnam, and to hot spots, like the Persian Gulf, to guard against sea mines and intruders.

The US military wasn't the only one using dolphins and sea lions to protect its warships and ports. The Soviet military and its Russian successor also employ mammals for maritime security.

In order to find ways to defeat Soviet dolphins and sea lions and to ensure its own mammals were effective, the Navy turned to an elite human force: US Navy SEALs.

'Very real and very scary'A marine mammal handler with a trained dolphin during an exercise in May 2005.

As the US military's prime maritime special-operations forces, Navy SEALs spend a lot of time in the water. The elite frogmen of US Naval Special Warfare Command are proficient in maritime insertion and an array of special-operations missions.

The Navy will often task SEALs to "attack" its most prized warships while they are in port to determine "if their force protection plan is functioning," and mammals and their handlers will play defense and try to "kill" or capture the "enemy" combat swimmers, a former Navy SEAL officer told Insider.

"This is good training for us because we might be called one day to place a limpet mine on an actual enemy ship," the former SEAL officer said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they still work with the US government.

It is also good training for the ships and sailors of "Big Navy, because they are tasked with defending some of our military most valuable assets," said the former frogman, calling it "a win-win situation."

"It's scary when you're in the dark, cold water and you know that there is a huge dolphin somewhere out there. It's definitely a gut-check," the former frogman added.

A Marine Mammal Program sea lion attaches a recovery line to a piece of test equipment.

The former SEAL said that it is hard to determine the effectiveness of dolphins and sea lions as military assets in actual wartime conditions. Technologies continue to evolve and emerge, and a way to "circumvent or neutralize" the mammals could arrive before any conflict with China or Russia breaks out.

The Navy's marine mammals have another role, and it's not one directed against enemy forces. During training, "those mammals were very real and very scary," the former frogman said.

Candidates in the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL course — a notoriously tough, and sometimes fatal, assessment that has attracted increased scrutiny for its brutality — have to complete several open-water swims in the Pacific Ocean.

During the swims, which can be as long as 5 miles, the candidates and their swim buddies are alone in the ocean.

BUD/S course instructors "have a sadistic tendency to scare the shit out of students before open-water swims," the former Navy SEAL officer said. "They will make us watch 'Shark Week' or tell us horror stories about killer dolphins and humongous sea lions that escaped from the Navy's pens and are swimming around looking for their next prey."

Into the futureUS sailors with a Mark 6 swimmer-defense dolphin in the Persian Gulf in August 2003.

Should a war with China or Russia break out, US special operators would be called upon to tackle conventional threats in support of other US forces, and they might encounter militarized mammals.

Russia's and China's navies would both pose a threat to the US military, but the Chinese Navy — the largest in the world — would be the more serious challenge because the conflict would mainly take place in vast ocean and coastal areas of the Indo-Pacific region.

US special-operations forces would be tasked with trying to disrupt, delay, or destroy Russian and Chinese ships in their ports. Navy SEALs, as the US's primary naval special-operations unit, would take the lead in any underwater special-operations mission against Chinese warships.

If the Chinese military employs dolphins or other mammals in force-protection roles, then US Navy SEALs might finally put their skills to the test against the real thing.

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. He is working toward a master's degree in strategy and cybersecurity at Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies.

Read the original article on Business Insider

French citizens rebel as Macron tries to raise pension age

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 6:06pm
  • People in France are protesting the government's plan to raise the retirement age.
  • The march in Paris turned violent, with riot police using tear gas to suppress crowds.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron plans to go ahead with pension reform despite protests.

As France plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, protesters and police clashed across the country.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to update your Mac to Ventura for the latest features and bug fixes

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 5:50pm
There are a few ways, and a lot of reasons, to update your Mac.
  • To update your Mac, go to System Preferences or About This Mac.
  • If your Mac is still running macOS High Sierra or earlier, use the App Store to update it.
  • You should update your Mac regularly, as every update comes with new features and security patches.

In many ways, Macs are built for convenience: They have backlit keyboards, there's a variety of ways to take and save screenshots, and they come with a wide assortment of shortcuts that can speed up your work.

But like all devices, they also require updates from time to time. And although updates can be annoying and time-consuming — Who hasn't put off an update until the very last moment? — they're also incredibly important.

An outdated Mac is more susceptible to bugs, crashes, and even viruses (yes, Macs can get them too). And if you leave updates waiting for too long, your favorite apps might stop working altogether.

In October 2022, Apple released macOS Ventura, the latest version of its famous operating system. And if you're currently working on a Mac, now is a good time to update your computer, since Ventura received an update in January 2023 containing a host of new security fixes

Quick tip: It's also a good idea to update all of your other Apple devices, like iPhones and iPads, in case there are any new features that utilize multiple devices.

How to update your Mac

There are a few major ways to update your Mac, and which one you use will depend on what macOS version you're currently running.

Important: Before you update your Mac, it's a good idea to back up your computer with Time Machine or iCloud to ensure no data is lost in the process. You'll also need to be connected to the internet.

Also keep in mind that depending on how big the updates are, how responsive your computer is, and how fast your internet is, the updates could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to download and install.

How to update a Mac running macOS Mojave or later

If you've bought or updated your Mac since 2018, chances are that you're in this category.

1. In the top-left corner of your screen, click the Apple icon to open a drop-down menu.

2. There are two menus here that you can use to check for updates. Click either System Preferences or About This Mac.

You'll have two options when opening this menu.

3. No matter which one you pick, in the menu that opens, click Software Update.

There are multiple ways to reach the updating screen.

4. Wait a few moments for your Mac to connect to the internet and check for updates. If an update is available, you'll be shown what it's called — just click Update Now or Upgrade Now to install it.

You can also choose to enable automatic updates from this screen by checking the Automatically keep my Mac up to date box. This will ensure that whenever a new update is available, you'll be told without having to open this screen.

Click "Update Now" to update, and check the box pictured to enable automatic updates.How to update a Mac running macOS High Sierra or earlier

High Sierra was released in late 2017. If you haven't updated since then, you should be sure to update as soon as you can to keep your computer safe.

1. Click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your screen.

2. Select App Store.

Open the App Store.

3. Click Updates in the left sidebar of the App Store.

Navigate to the Updates page.

From the above screen, you'll be given the option to update your Mac. Any Mac computer released in 2012 or later should be able to update to at least macOS Catalina. 

For future reference, don't worry about accepting an update and then having your computer unexpectedly restart — you'll be notified beforehand if a restart is required.

How to update a Mac running an older version of Ventura

Software updates move fast, and so you may already be behind on your macOS updates, even if you're using Ventura. If that's the case, you can follow these steps to update to the newest possible version.

1. Click the Apple icon at the top left of your screen from any app or page. If you see a notification for any updates next to System Settings, it's a good sign that the latest version of the OS is now available.

Click on the Apple logo, where you'll select either About This Mac or System Settings.

2. Select About This Mac to find out which version of Ventura you're using — 13.1 is the earliest. From there, you can click More Info to take a shortcut to the next step.

The "About This Mac" panel displays information like your serial number, macOS version, and a handful of hardware specifications.

3. Navigate to System Settings, which you can also find in the Apple icon Menu.

4. Click on the General tab in the menu on the left, and then on Software Update. From here, you'll see if automatic OS updates are enabled, as well as if any are currently available.

The Software Update panel in System Settings.How to troubleshoot if your Mac still won't update

If you're still having trouble updating macOS to a newer version, there could be a few different reasons why:

  • You don't have enough RAM. On most computers, you can upgrade your RAM yourself. Unfortunately, some models, especially laptops like the MacBook Air, don't allow you to swap out sticks of RAM yourself, meaning that you may have to buy a new computer.
  • Your laptop simply isn't compatible with newer versions of MacOS. For instance, if your Mac is so old that it can't even upgrade to Catalina, it's probably time to buy a new model anyway.
  • You may be updated to the latest version already. You may not have realized it if you have automatic updates installed. When in doubt, follow the steps above to check your macOS version details. Version numbers starting in 13 indicate that you're running Ventura, and are more than likely up to date for 2023.
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Mark Zuckerberg's metaverse just keeps losing money, as Meta's Reality Labs division posts a loss of $13.7 billion for the year

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 5:48pm
Reality Labs, which is Meta's division focused on the metaverse, posted a loss of $4.28 billion this quarter.
  • Reality Labs is the business and research unit of Meta that focuses on the metaverse.
  • It reported a loss of $4.28 billion for the fourth quarter, wider than $3.3 billion in the quarter prior.
  • The division lost $13.7 billion in 2022.

Reality Labs — the division of Meta that's trying to bring the metaverse to fruition — is shaking out to be a bigger money pit than expected. 

The company posted its fourth-quarter earnings report on Wednesday, with Reality Labs showing an operating loss of $4.28 billion for the fourth quarter, wider than $3.3 billion in the previous quarter

Still, the number is slightly narrower than analysts' expectations of a loss of around $4.36 billion for the quarter, according to CNBC's reference of StreetAccount. That figure, combined with Meta's strength in its user base and planned cost-cutting, helped the stock jump nearly 19% in after-hours trading.

In the past 12 months, Reality Labs has sucked up more than $13.7 billion. 

In terms of revenue, Reality Labs generated $727 million for the fourth quarter, which was slightly higher than analyst's expectations of $715.1 million, according to CNBC's reference of  StreetAccount. 

Over the past several months, investors have railed against Meta's decision to continue funneling money into the metaverse. One investor even wrote an open letter to Meta in October titled "Time to Get Fit" where he advised Meta to limit its metaverse spending. 

Still, the company has been externally defensive of its pursuit of a sweeping new virtual world. 

In a Q&A session on Wednesday after its earnings results were released, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, "None of the signals that I've seen so far suggest that we should shift the Reality Labs strategy long-term. We are constantly adjusting the specifics of how we execute this."

Toward the end of the session, one listener asked whether "accelerating losses" at Reality Labs should be expected in 2023 — and if that dovetailed with an expectation of  "peak" operating losses this year.

Susan Li, Meta's chief financial officer, responded, "We still expect our full year Reality Labs losses to increase in 2023 and we're going to continue to invest meaningfully in this area given the significant long term opportunities that we see."

In December, the company's chief technology officer Andrew Bosworth wrote a blog post titled, "Why we still believe in the future," where he articulated that Meta would continue investing 20% of its spending in Reality Labs. 

However, in an internal email sent in late December, Bosworth reportedly told the 18,000 members of Reality Labs that the company has solved too many problems simply "by adding headcount." 

At the same time, Meta's stock shot up 19% after hours since the results were posted, suggesting that many investors are disregarding losses in a division that amounts to a little over 2% of the company's revenue. 

Meta did not immediately respond to Insider's request for a comment. 

 

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How to watch free movies online: The 10 best websites for streaming

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 5:47pm
There are many websites to watch free movies online.
  • You can watch free movies online through a number of streaming service websites and apps.
  • Some streaming sites offer a mix of free and paid content, while others are free with ads.
  • Our top picks include YouTube, Pluto TV, Tubi, and Peacock, all of which have a variety of titles.

We live in a world with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to streaming channels, but subscribing to Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Amazon Prime and a half-dozen others can be as pricey as an old-fashioned cable subscription — or worse. 

The antidote to endless streaming subscriptions are free movies online. Here are 10 of the best options for watching movies for free.

The Roku Channel: Best for channel surfingRoku offers a mix of contemporary and classic films for free.

Roku isn't just an excellent streaming media device; the company also has a free streaming channel that you can access from any Roku device or the web. Here you'll find an impressive array of TV shows and feature films you can stream for free. 

The selection isn't enormous, but there's a mix of classic and contemporary movies (like The Sandlot and the John Wick trilogy) to choose from. There's no need to create an account (though you can if you want to) and ads, while present, are not overly intrusive. Newly-added titles on the platform this month include Moneyball, The Hurt Locker, and Seven Years of Tibet.

Quick tip: More Roku Channel featured titles include Malcolm in the Middle, Quantum Leap, and Hell on Wheels.

YouTube: Best for all-around video content You might be surprised to learn that YouTube has a sizable collection of free films.

YouTube offers hundreds of free movies (with ads), making it a convenient one-stop shop for all types of video content. YouTube is also one of the few sites where the content is rated by users and you can read comments about the movies as you watch them. 

The best part about YouTube is that all the free movies are arranged in a single category. 

Quick tip: Free to watch movies on YouTube include O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Spy Next Door, and Halo: The Fall of Reach.

Vudu: Best for easy browsingYou can purchase and rent movies at Vudu, but the service also includes thousands of free movies.

Vudu is the streaming video arm of Fandango that offers both free and paid videos. It's easy to find the free content thanks to a Free link at the top of the page. There, you'll find thousands of movies, both new and old, popular films, and schlock. 

The site also does a great job of sorting the movies into categories like Mythical Creatures, New Releases, and Thrilling Suspense, for easy browsing.

Quick tip: Some of the best titles on Vudu include The Boondock Saints, Braven, and The King's Speech.

Crackle: Best for original content

Crackle is one of the oldest free video sites and has a great system for searching and browsing.

Crackle has been around a long time — it got its start in 2004. And unlike some other streaming channels, Crackle is 100% free, offering all its content at no cost (with ads), so anything you see on the site you can watch without paying. 

You can browse movies and TV shows by genre, alphabetically, or search for a specific title.

Quick tip: Some of the options on Crackle are Godzilla: Final Wars, To Sir, With Love, and Charlie's Angels.

Popcornflix: Best for binging

True to its name, Popcornflix has a lot of goofy, guilty pleasure viewing options.

Popcornflix is another completely free video streaming site, offering about 2,000 movies in a variety of categories. It's available as an app for a variety of devices, and you can also watch in a web browser. There's no account required; just open the website, select a movie and start viewing. 

Many of the entries at Popcornflix fall into the category of guilty pleasures (like 2-Headed Shark Attack) and cheap knock-offs of mainstream properties (like Atlantic Rim and Almighty Thor) but there's something charming here about the movies you can binge for free with limited ads.

Quick tip: Movie categories include Animals Attack, Adventure Hour, and Getting in the Ring.

Pluto TV: Best for streaming the classics

Pluto's interface is organized like a cable TV program guide.

Pluto TV is a little different than most streaming video services. In addition to being able to watch movies and TV shows on demand, it also streams live programming that you access in a program guide as if you were watching cable or satellite TV. 

You can jump into programs in progress after browsing the dozens of categories arranged like channels, or switch to the On Demand tab, and start any of the thousands options that are, arranged into easily browsable categories. No catch here! It's all free, supported by ads.

Quick tip: Some on-demand titles include Coraline, Kubo and the Two Strings, and the Cloverfield series.

Freevee: Best for rating moviesFreevee can be streamed on a number of different devices.

Freevee is an ad-supported video streaming service owned by Amazon. You can stream Freevee content through a number of devices via the Amazon Freevee app, Prime Video app or by using your web browser. 

On Freevee, you'll find a selection of completely free movies and TV shows, including original titles that are available exclusively on the platform.

Quick tip: Some of the titles available through Freevee are The Lorax, Jumanji, and Idiocracy.

Tubi: Best for less adsTubi takes pride in having less ads than cable.

This free streaming service has thousands of movies and TV shows, which you can watch online or on a number of devices including Roku, Apple TV, Xbox, Playstation, Samsung Smart TVs, and Sony Smart TVs. 

You don't need a subscription, and Tubi boasts the fact that they have fewer ads than cable. Like Pluto TV, Tubi has both on-demand and live programming. There's also a kids' section of the website with family movies and TV shows to watch with your little ones.

Quick tip: The "Most Popular" selection on Tubi includes The Legend of Hercules, Beauty Shop, and Big Stan.

Peacock: Best for premium streamingWhile most of their content requires a paid subscription, if you already made a free account you can still access some free titles.

Owned by NBCUniversal, Peacock is a premium streaming service that has episodes of your favorite NBC, Bravo, and Telemundo shows the day after they air on TV, exclusive originals, live sports, and thousands of hours worth of TV shows and movies. 

Premium plans start at $4.99 per month, but if you already signed up for a free account, a limited amount of content is still available on the platform for free. As of January 2023, Peacock is no longer offering free content to new subscribers. 

Read our full Peacock guide for more information.

Quick tip: For an ad-free watching experience, upgrade to Peacock Plus for $9.99 per month.

Plex: Best for creating a watchlistFor additional features, upgrade to Plex for Pros.

No subscription is required to watch Plex's more than 50,000 free on-demand titles and 250 Live TV channels. You can use the Plex app to access their content on pretty much any device (Apple, Android, Smart TVs), or go to the Plex website on your computer. 

Movies and TV shows are sorted by categories, and there are special tabs for their most popular titles and ones that are leaving the platform soon. You can also use the search bar to find a specific movie or TV show, and keep track of things you want to see later with their Watchlist feature.

Quick tip: Some of Plex's most well-known movies and shows are Portlandia, Once Upon a Time in America, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

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Kamala Harris tells Tyre Nichols' funeral attendees that Congress must pass a sweeping police reform bill: 'It's non-negotiable'

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 5:35pm
Rev. Al Sharpton listens as Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during the funeral service for Tyre Nichols at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris demanded passage of police reform legislation at the funeral for Tyre Nichols.
  • As a senator, she co-authored a bill mirroring the House-passed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021.
  • "We should not delay. And we will not be denied," she said. "It is non-negotiable."

At Tyre Nichols' funeral, Vice President Kamala Harris laid out her terms for passage of a languishing policing reform bundle that she collaborated on while still in the Senate: "It's non-negotiable."

Harris told mourners on Wednesday that "Tyre Nichols would be here with us today" if police had been in pursuit of public safety. Nichols died earlier this month after being beaten by five Black police officers in Memphis, Tennessee.

"Was he not also entitled to the right to be safe?"

During her time as a senator from California, Harris co-authored legislation with Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey that mirrored the House-passed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021. The bill was named for the 46-year-old Black man murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020

The sweeping package is designed to bolster accountability and transparency within the law enforcement community by relaxing the qualified immunity protections that typically shield police officers from prosecution, banning racial profiling, and creating a police misconduct registry, among other things. 

"We demand that Congress pass the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act," she said as she wrapped up her remarks to all the mourners filed into the pews at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, adding emphatically that "Joe Biden will sign it." 

"We should not delay. And we will not be denied," Harris said, to thunderous applause. "It is non-negotiable." 

Mourners could be heard repeating, "non-negotiable."

Speaking directly to Nichols' mother and stepfather, she called them "extraordinary."

"We have a mother and a father who mourn the life of a young man who should be here today," she said.

Biden and Harris both spoke with Nichols' mother and stepfather to offer support, and Biden pledged to continue pushing Congress to pass the bill, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday.

Biden will meet on Thursday with members of the Congressional Black Caucus to hash out a strategy for moving forward on police reform.

Last year, Biden issued an executive order designed to bolster the accountability and transparency of law enforcement actions. But Jean-Pierre said the White House sees legislative action as the next step.

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Trump's NY fraud trial starts on time 'come hell or high water,' judge warns warring lawyers at hearing

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 5:30pm
New York Attorney General Letitia James, left. Former president Donald Trump, right.
  • Lawyers for Trump argued Wednesday against threatened sanctions in NY's $250 million fraud lawsuit.
  • Oral arguments focused on whether something called the "Trump Organization" legally exists.
  • The judge, meanwhile, warned that "come hell or high water" an October trial will not be delayed.

New York's $250 million fraud lawsuit against Donald Trump, his family, and his company will go to trial this October as scheduled, a judge warned at a court hearing on Wednesday, as lawyers for both sides continued warring over a seemingly basic definition: What is the Trump Organization?

"I am determined to start the case on time," the judge, state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, told 15 lawyers and legal support staff in a Manhattan courtroom.

"Come hell or high water, and pardon my French," the judge added of his set-in-stone trial start time: 10 a.m. on Monday, October 2, 2023.

New York Attorney General Letitia James' massive September lawsuit seeks to permanently bar Trump and his three eldest children from doing business in New York.

The lawsuit alleges Trump and Trump Organization executives lied about the value of company properties by billions of dollars, and did so to cheat banks, insurers, and tax authorities.

Keeping the parties on track for trial required the judge on Wednesday to shoo them from the brink of an existential rabbit hole: an ongoing debate over whether the Trump Organization — the former president's real-estate and golf resort company — is even a thing.

Lawyers for Trump insisted at the hearing, as they have repeatedly in 5,000 pages of recent court filings, that the name is just a branding shorthand for some 500 Trump-owned subsidiaries.

There actually is no such legal entity as the Trump Organization, so James can't just throw the name around in her lawsuit, they argued.

"We're careful lawyers," Trump's high-price attorney, Christopher Kise, a former solicitor general of Florida, explained of any seemingly time-frittering quibbling over whether the Trump Organization exists.

"Words matter," agreed Kise's co-counsel, Clifford Roberts. "I don't want to use the phrase 'sloppy pleading,' that's derogatory," he added at another point, taking a swipe at the attorney general's lawsuit.

Lawyers for James however, appeared unwilling on Wednesday to let go.

It's shorthand for them, as well — James' lawsuit references "the Trump Organization," for convenience's sake, some 300 times in its 222 pages.

The Trump defendants are trying to hide behind repetitive blocks of text denying the Trump Organization is a thing, Kevin Wallace, senior enforcement counsel for James, told the judge Wednesday.

Doing so obscures "what's being acknowledged and what's being denied," he complained.

As an example, Trump wouldn't even admit, in Thursday's 300-page answer to James' lawsuit, that he remained the de facto president of the Trump Organization during his White House years, something he'd conceded under oath in another lawsuit, Wallace complained to the judge.

Instead, Trump repeated that the name is just branding shorthand, Wallace said.

Wallace on Tuesday had sent the judge a letter calling for sanctions against the lawsuit's 16 defendants and their legal teams, calling Thursday's 5,000 pages of responses to the James lawsuit "meritless," "repetitive," and "improper," among other descriptors.

Engoron agreed Wednesday that the defendants' filings were too long.

James' lawsuit sues Donald Trump, Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, former CFO Allen Weisselberg, controller Jeffrey McConney, the Trump Organization, Inc., and various related trusts, holding companies, and subsidiaries — 16 defendants in all.

Of the 16 defendant responses to James' lawsuit, filed en masse on Thursday night, 15 were 300 pages or longer, in large part due to the repetitive blocks of text denying that the Trump Organization exists.

"I don't know how many countless pages — if I was good at math I would have been an accountant — were wasted," the judge quipped. 

The judge urged the attorney general's office and the defendants' lawyers to avoid a protracted argument over sanctions.

"They're messy, they're controversial," added the judge. "I'm hoping we can just reach a resolution." 

Engoron fined Donald Trump $110,000 in May for failing to fully comply with James' subpoenas as part of a contempt-of-court finding currently under strenuous appeal.

James can't seek sanctions as a first resort "every time the attorney general doesn't like a position we take," argued another Trump defense lawyer, Armen Morian. "It's not a good look," Morian said.

Wallace warned that the attorney general's office may yet seek sanctions if the amended paperwork continues to include provably-false denials.

But he agreed to set that threat aside, and for now, send the defense teams letters detailing what he called their "problematic responses."

The defense lawyers agreed to address those concerns — and tighten up what the judge called their "excessive verbiage" — in amended versions of their paperwork.

"Maybe, miraculously, one of the answers is OK," and won't need amending, Kise suggested with a smile, as the hearing wrapped.

Across a courtroom conference table, another lead assistant attorney general on the case, Andrew Amer, slowly shook his head back and forth, "No," and smiled back.

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Sheetz drops policy against employees with 'obvious missing, broken or badly discolored teeth' after Insider reporting

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 5:22pm
Sheetz used to make a flawless smile a condition of employment. Now, the chain is dropping the requirement after Insider's reporting.
  • Sheetz is dropping a rule against hiring workers with obvious dental issues.
  • "Effective immediately, the policy is discontinued," an executive told Insider.
  • Insider previously reported on workers whose careers were set back as a result of the rule.

Sheetz is dropping its policy against hiring employees with dental issues after Insider's coverage of the rule and its effect on workers.

"Recently through employee feedback, we have learned that the smile policy is not aligned with these values from their perspective," Stephanie Doliveira, executive vice president of people & culture at Sheetz, told Insider.

"We agree. Effective immediately, this policy is discontinued," Doliveira said. "We are committed to ensuring our policies moving forward are equitable and celebrate the diverse experiences, individual identities and unique perspectives of our employees."

The convenience-store chain changed its policy after Insider reported on its inclusion in Sheetz's employee handbook. The rule stated that "applicants with obvious missing, broken, or badly discolored teeth (unrelated to a disability) are not qualified for employment with Sheetz." The handbook also gave workers already employed at Sheetz 90 days to comply with the policy.

Insider also spoke with former employees who were affected by the policy. One quit her job after a manager asked for details about her missing teeth and her plans for dental work. Another decided not to pursue a promotion after a manager told them that the employee's discolored teeth would make it impossible. Both asked to remain anonymous because they feared damaging their job prospects. Insider verified their work histories.

"Our culture at Sheetz has always been centered on respect and putting our employees, customers and communities first," Doliveira told Insider. "As a family owned and operated company, nothing is more important than creating an environment that is inclusive and supportive of all of our employees."

Pennsylvania-based Sheetz has better benefits than many rival retailers, such as 12 weeks of maternity leave and reimbursement for college tuition, employees told Insider. That made the company's policy "weirdly over the top for them," one former employee told Insider.

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Biden's bully pulpit is Democrats' best policing reform tactic as Congress grapples with Tyre Nichols' death

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 5:06pm
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the US economy at Steamfitters Local 602 on January 26, 2023 in Springfield, Virginia.
  • Tyre Nichols' death has reignited talk about bolstering police accountability. 
  • Police reforms flamed out in the last Congress after Senate lawmakers failed to reach consensus.
  • House Democrats hope that Biden making it a top priority helps break the current logjam.

Lawmakers horrified by the brutal killing of Tyre Nichols vow to keep working towards a legislative solution in the 118th Congress, but are counting on President Joe Biden to turn up the heat on comprehensive policing reform. 

The lethal beating Nichols received from five police officers in Memphis, Tennessee earlier this month has sparked plenty of outrage on Capitol Hill. It has not, however, broken the political stalemate that led to a House-passed police accountability deal languishing in the other chamber, while bipartisan talks on a Senate alternative sputtered out after failing to attract enough support to overcome the 60-vote filibuster threshold. 

Absent a sudden breakthrough on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 — a bipartisan bill named for the 46-year-old Black man murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020 — Congressional Black Caucus chair Steven Horsford said hashing out a strategy with Biden for prioritizing policing reform is the best way to go.

"There are times when we come together, and that generally involves the president and all of us working to put partisanship aside," Horsford told Insider at the US Capitol, adding that the CBC's emergency meeting with Biden would focus on reaffirming his pro-policing reform stance in the upcoming State of the Union address. 

"We will be meeting on Thursday to talk about the details of what we would like that message to include," Horsford said. 

Biden said he was "outraged and deeply pained" when the bodycam footage of the Nichols encounter was released. 

"We must do everything in our power to ensure our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all," Biden said in an official statement. On Monday he said making the George Floyd Act the law of the land is long overdue. 

"I think we should do it right now. We should have done it before," Biden told reporters at the White House. Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Memphis on Wednesday to attend Nichols funeral, where she called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Act

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during the funeral service for Tyre Nichols at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee.

Biden and Harris both spoke with Nichols' mother and stepfather to offer support and Biden pledged to continue pushing Congress pass the bill, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday.

Last year, Biden issued an executive order designed to bolster the accountability and transparency of law enforcement actions. 

Asked whether he's considering additional executive action, White House Press Secretary Jean-Pierre noted that Biden's executive order resulted in "immediate change" at the federal level, mandating standards limiting the use of force, banning chokeholds, requiring body-worn cameras and restricting "no-knock" warrants. 

Now he wants to see Congress act in a bipartisan way to "make transformational change," she said.

"We're going to talk to the CBC members, and talk through what their ideas are and what they're thinking," she said. "But again, we think that legislation, federal legislation, is the way to move forward here."

'Our nation is reeling'

Having moved the ball forward last term with the House-passed bill and Biden's executive orders, Horsford said lawmakers need to build on that momentum right now. 

"It shouldn't be that hard for us to come together, to work together, and to find solutions to the issue of the culture of policing," Horsford said off the House floor, adding that "all of us should agree that bad policing has no place in American communities and America's cities."

House Democratic Caucus chair Pete Aguilar was much less optimistic about policing reform opponents suddenly rallying around the Floyd Act or any other substantive proposals. 

"Senate Republicans wouldn't go along with that level of accountability. And it's too bad," Aguilar said of the wasted opportunities in the 117th Congress during a Tuesday press conference at the US Capitol. 

Aguilar did not address questions about when or if the George Floyd Act would be reintroduced this session, stating only that he expects Horsford and former CBC chair Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio to continue spearheading those efforts. 

Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who in 2021 tried cobbling together a policing reform package with Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey until those negotiations fell apart, said Americans are rightly "reeling" from news of another senseless killing.

—Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) January 31, 2023

"I take the issue of policing in America seriously," Scott, who is a likely 2024 presidential contender, said on the Senate floor. 

Scott urged his colleagues to quit pointing fingers and finally do whatever it takes to ward off future tragedies, arguing that fixes like the enhanced deescalation techniques and curbs against excessive force that he's been pushing "could have made a difference in Memphis." 

Horsford couldn't agree more about seizing the moment. 

"The thing is, it may have been Tyre Nichols yesterday. But who will it be next?" he said Tuesday night.  

Flanked by the parents of Tyre Nichols and faith and community leaders, civil rights attorney Ben Crump speaks next to a photo of Nichols during a press conference on January 27, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee.

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