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Payment Channels and Types of Transactions: Digitization, Integration, and the Economy

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 1:30pm
  • While most retail sales still occur in-store, digital is driving innovation as ecommerce grows.
  • Domestic P2P and digital remittance providers will diversify to lure users and monetize solutions.
  • Digitization is dominating B2B and disbursement innovation.

Ongoing ecommerce growth is pushing payment providers to make efficient and inexpensive digital payment solutions their top priority despite the ever-changing post-pandemic landscape. 

In-store shopping remains the largest US retail channel by both share and dollars. By the end of 2026, brick-and-mortar will still account for $4 in $5 spent in retail—making it a critical investment for payment providers despite being less flashy than ecommerce and emerging digital channels. In order to keep shoppers in-store, merchants must broaden their accepted payment methods by allowing proximity mobile payments; contactless cards; buy now, pay later; and account-to-account payment options. According to Zebra Technologies,  as of July 2022, 45% of retailers worldwide were planning to convert cash register space to self-checkouts due to consumer interest, cost-saving potential, and the need to cut or reallocate labor.

Though we forecast ecommerce sales will remain above $1 trillion for the second consecutive year in 2023, some changes will need to be made to the purchasing landscape to address declining computer and desktop retail sales. Because consumers have been spending more time on mobile devices, it is predicted that smartphones will generate 87.2% of mcommerce sales this year. As a result of this uptick, payment providers must invest in their mobile shopping and buying experience. Social commerce and connected devices are also showing larger adoption rates and can be expected to continue rising over the next few years.

Other payment sectors to watch include domestic peer-to-peer payments, which more than 3 in 5 smartphone users have adopted despite the high level of fraud; digital remittance, which nearly doubled between 2022 and 2027 even with its high fees; B2B payments, which are focused on cutting transaction time and making the shift to digital; B2C payments, which about half of the US population received a disbursement from in 2022, according to; and cross-border payments, which are bouncing back after the pandemic despite high inflation rates.

Overall, it is clear that in order to retain and build business, companies must shift to focus on digitization and integration. Curious to learn more about payment channels and types of transactions? Click here to purchase this report directly from Insider Intelligence. Want more data? Click here to purchase The Payments Ecosystem collection.

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A fort in Montenegro that was a concentration camp during WWII was converted into a luxury resort starting at 500 euros a night

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 1:10pm
Mamula Island at sunset.
  • A luxury resort in Montenegro opened to the public in April, starting at 500 euros a night.
  • The Mamula Island Hotel used to be a former concentration camp in World War II.
  • The new luxury hotel has angered some locals for converting the Austro-Hungarian fortress.

A new luxury hotel in Montenegro opened in April with the tagline: "A hotel surrounded by the sea, with you at its heart." 

For a minimum of 500 euros ($543) a night, guests can expect beautiful views, fine dining at one of three restaurants, and access to pools and a spa.

But the remote hotel on Mamula Island has a dark history — it used to be an Italian concentration camp during World War II. More than 2,000 people were imprisoned there, and more than 100 people died. 

When the plans to refurbish the fortress were first announced in 2016, it was met with resistance from locals. But the government awarded the Swiss-Egyptian developer Orascom a 49-year lease, saying there were limited options for the future of the fort.

Now, the refurbishment is done and the hotel is open to visitors.

Since 2007, when Montenegro got its independence, the government has focused on boosting its economy largely through tourism. It backed the building of Porto Montenegro, a marina for superyachts, and the development of a resort town called Lustica Bay.A row of yachts moored at Porto Montenegro.

Source: Balkan Insight

But one of its economic ventures has been particularly controversial. In 2015, its plan to allow Swiss-Egyptian developer Orascom to convert a remote, former concentration camp into a luxury hotel was met with disbelief and resistance by some locals.A view of Mamula Island.

Source: CNN

The hotel is on a tiny island called Lastavica Island, popularly known as Mamula Island. It's in Boka Bay, located on the border of Montenegro and Croatia.A view of Mamula Island in Kotor Bay.

Sources: CNN, Forbes

The island is about 600 feet in diameter. Since 1853, it's been dominated by an Austro-Hungarian fortress, which was built to stop enemy ships from accessing the bay.A view of the fortress on Mamula Island.

It's named Fort Mamula after General Lazar Mamula, who had it built. 

Sources: CNN, ANSAmed, Business Insider, Forbes

The refurbishment was so controversial because during World War II Italian troops converted the fortress into a concentration camp and renamed it "Campo Mamula."An entrance into Mamula Island Hotel.

Source: ANSAmed

During the war, about 2,300 people — mostly locals — were imprisoned there. Many were tortured, and about 130 people were either killed or died of starvation.A view of Fort Mamula.

Sources: ANSAmed, Telegraph

Jovanka Uljarevic, whose grandmother was a prisoner at the camp, researched the war camp. She told Balkan Insight that prisoners were kept in overcrowded cells, and if someone tried to escape, they were severely punished.Birds fly in the air above Mamula Island.

She said the conditions were terrible and people starved in the cold.

"If the baby cried, soldiers would come in and beat everyone up until there was silence," Uljarevic told.

Source: Balkan Insight

In 2015, she told Balkan Investigative Reporting Network that plans for Orascom to build a luxury hotel on the island would "ruin every memory of Mamula and what it really was."The new pool area at the Mamula Island Hotel.

Source: Balkan Insight

Olivera Doklestic, who had three family members imprisoned on the island, told AFP the decision to build a luxury hotel where "so many people perished and suffered is a blatant example of lack of seriousness towards history."A woman reads inside one of the rooms at the Mamula Island Hotel.

"No concentration camp in the world has been transformed into a hotel," she said.

Sources: CNN, Business Insider

Former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali wrote to Parliament about his surprise that "the only solution for preserving and using the fort is a mere business arrangement and privatization agreement."Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Razali Ismail at UN General Assembly

Source: Business Insider

But Olivera Brajovic, head of Montenegro's national directorate for tourism development, told AFP they only really had two options. The first was to let the concentration camp "fall into ruin."A boat passes near Mamula Island.

Since the end of World War II, the fort was largely abandoned other than tourists visiting.

Sources: CNN, Business Insider

The second, he said, was to find investors and restore the island to "make it accessible to visitors."A woman eats at one of the restaurants at the Mamula Island Hotel.

Source: CNN

In 2016, the Montenegrin government approved plans for the luxury hotel and granted Orascom a 49-year lease. Orascom got the site for a nominal sum of $1.64 per square meter, and the company promised to invest about $16 million in the project.The Mamula Island Hotel.

A representative of Orascom told The Telegraph that the island would remain open to the public. 

Sources: Time, Smithsonian Magazine, Telegraph, CNN

In 2019, a local heritage group called the Bokobran Initiative accused the hotel of going too far by digging 30 feet down into the fortress to build a swimming pool, as well as destroying sections of the original wall.A shot of the Mamula Island Hotel.

Source: Telegraph

But the developers said everything they were doing was complied with local heritage preservation laws. A spokesperson told Insider "every brick, wall, and feature has been carefully restored to its origin."Inside the Maluma Island Hotel.

The spokesperson also noted the restoration of some of the rooms which were formerly commander's officers. 

A team of seven worked to restore and reveal nine layers of paint to show the original artworks in these rooms. 

Source: Telegraph

Bokobran Initiative member Vuk Cvoro told The Telegraph they feared Mamula Island would become "a haven for rich people."Inside the Maluma Island Hotel.

Source: Telegraph

However, when the proposal was approved in 2016, the government said the hotel would pay its respects to the war camp victims by building a museum or some form of memorial.Windows as seen inside the Mamula Island Hotel.

"We will create a museum with the best restaurant and the best hotel on the Mediterranean," Orascom President Samih Sawiris said.

While it wasn't clear from photos of the resort where the memorial was, a spokesperson told Insider it had been built and was located at the entrance to the fortress.

Sources: Time, Forbes

The hotel features three swimming pools.A woman stands beside the pool at the Mamula Island Hotel.

Source: Mamula Island

Guests can enjoy a spa treatment.A woman has her feet cleaned at the Mamula Island hotel.And amenities also include a special setup for yoga.A woman practices yoga at the Mamula Island Hotel.

The hotel has 32 rooms, divided into four types — garden, sea, sky, and panoramic.

On April 1, the Maluma Island Hotel officially opened for business.An entrance way to the Mamula Island hotel.

Source: Mamula Island

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See inside NASA's 3D-printed Mars habitat where 4 volunteers will live for a year. It includes a gym, PlayStation 4, and a lot of red sand.

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 12:54pm
  • NASA has unveiled its 1,700-square-foot Mars habitat where four volunteers will live for 12 months.
  • There's a sandbox, treadmills, lounge, kitchen, and even a PlayStation inside.
  • The crew will conduct spacewalks, exercise, grow crops, and maintain the habitat during the mission.
NASA is already preparing to launch humans to Mars in the 2030s by creating an environment on Earth that appears similar to the red planet, with red sand and pictures of dunes.The Martian habitat, called Mars Dune Alpha, was created using a 3D printer from Icon, a Texan construction-tech firm. It's a 1,700 square-foot structure.

Source: Insider

And it's all happening in this warehouse based at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.As part of the Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog mission, NASA will select four volunteers to spend 12 months in this habitat, pretending they're living on Mars. The mission is projected to start in June.Over the year, the crew will carry out different activities, including simulated spacewalks and robotic operations. They'll also grow crops, exercise, maintain the habitat, and keep up personal hygiene.

Source: NASA

It won't be an easy ride for the crew. NASA said they'll be tested with being isolated, equipment breaking down, and having limited resources.Here's a glimpse into what the Mars habitat is like.There are various types of equipment at work stations and office desks where the crew will conduct experiments during the mission.This 1,200-square-foot sandbox will be used to carry out simulated spacewalks known as "Marswalks." The red sand adds to the feel of the Martian landscape.

Source: NASA

The crew will be required to exercise while they stay in the confined habitat. NASA installed gym equipment, such as a rowing machine, in one area.There are also two curved treadmills with straps attached. The crew can use them to pretend they're walking on Mars.Given that the crew will remain in the habitat for a long time, there's a medical room in case they feel unwell or become injured.Separate from the working spaces, there's a living room area with several flatscreen TVs, chairs, and a kitchen.The lounge area offers space for the volunteers to relax on sofa chairs and watch TV. There's a PlayStation 4 in the cupboard, along with board games such as Monopoly and Catan: Starfarers to keep the crew entertained.The kitchen area comes with a microwave, kettle, and sink.During the mission, the crew can grow plants, such as tomatoes and salad, in the vertical farm. This aims to determine what it'll be like to produce crops on Mars.

Source: The Guardian

The four narrow bedrooms have single beds, desks, and some storage inside.The bathroom includes all the usual features. NASA intends to monitor the crew's personal hygiene, throughout the experiment.Alongside more exercise equipment is a washing machine.While some areas of the habitat like the kitchen and lounge area make the habitat seem normal, features like this door for the airlock room are a reminder for crew members that they're living in a simulated extraterrestrial environment.

Correction: April 14, 2023 — An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the type of PlayStation included in the habitat. It was a PlayStation 4, not 3.

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Slutty Vegan, the buzzy $100 million restaurant empire backed by Shake Shack's Danny Meyer, faces wage theft lawsuits in two states

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 12:52pm
Slutty Vegan's first location outside of the South opened September 2022 in Brooklyn, NY.
  • Three employees are filing a lawsuit against Brooklyn's Slutty Vegan restaurant.
  • The workers claim the restaurant failed to pay bonuses, did not adequately compensate for overtime, and miscalculated paychecks, according to the lawsuit.
  • Founder Pinky Cole is also facing a lawsuit from an employee of her Atlanta restaurant Bar Vegan over alleged wage theft.

Less than a year after Slutty Vegan opened its doors in New York City, the buzzy restaurant that attracted lines down the block is facing a federal wage theft lawsuit.

The Atlanta-based vegan burger chain is being sued by three employees at its Brooklyn location who allege their bonuses went unpaid, paychecks were miscalculated, and they weren't paid accurately for the overtime hours worked, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages in excess of $150,000 for breach of contract and violations of both New York state and federal labor laws.

The suit, which was filed in April in federal court in the Eastern District of New York, includes a claim that one of the three plaintiffs was required to pay to do his laundry at least two times a week because he was provided only two uniform shirts "despite the fact that he worked five days per week, more than 40 hours every week," court documents read.

Slutty Vegan opened its Brooklyn location in September 2022. The company has about 10 locations in the US, and is part of founder Aisha "Pinky" Cole's $100 million vegan food empire, which has been backed by Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer.

In a statement to Insider, representatives at Anderson Group Public Relations speaking on behalf of Slutty Vegan said the company does not comment on pending litigation but is "reviewing it with our legal counsel" and "is committed to complying with all applicable laws."

"(Slutty Vegan) maintains an open door policy and invites employees to express their concerns with management so that they can be examined and resolved in a fair, reasonable, and lawful manner," the representatives said. 

In January, Cole's Atlanta-based restaurant Bar Vegan was hit with a similar lawsuit alleging Cole and her business partners withheld tips from an employee and violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, Eater Atlanta reported.

Cole addressed the lawsuit in an Instagram post, writing "I don't lie, I don't steal and more importantly, I DON'T PLAY WITH PEOPLE'S MONEY."

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Pinky Cole (@pinkycole)


In her January statement, Cole maintained that she wasn't familiar with the situation since she doesn't run the daily operation at Bar Vegan. 


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A Chinese company is reportedly planning to replace some human copywriters and graphic designers with AI

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 12:44pm
BlueFocus Intelligent Communications Group Co. reportedly has plans to replace some outside copywriters and graphic designers with AI models.
  • A marketing company in China reportedly has plans to replace some of its human contractors with AI.
  • A memo seen by Bloomberg says BlueFocus plans to replace external copywriters and graphic designers.
  • Experts previously told Insider some jobs in media can be at risk of being replaced by AI models.

A marketing and brand management company in China has plans to replace some of its copywriters and graphic designers with generative AI models like ChatGPT, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg.

BlueFocus Intelligent Communications Group Co., which offers services in strategy, advertising, and public relations, is reportedly interested in using AI technology from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Baidu Inc. to replace work it previously relied on from outside copywriters and graphic designers. Baidu recently announced its version of ChatGPT called Ernie Bot, but hasn't publicly launched it.

"To embrace the new wave of AI generated content, starting today we've decided to halt all spending on third-party copywriters and designers," the memo reportedly said, according to Bloomberg.

BlueFocus did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment outside local business hours.

According to its website, Mercedes, Samsung, and P&G are some of BlueFocus's clients. The company says it has 5,000 employees around the world, and 100 offices in over 10 countries.

Since it was released last November, OpenAI's ChatGPT has sparked concerns over the potential impact that generative AI tools pose to the work force.

Media jobs, including those in advertising and journalism, are among the top roles that are likely to be replaced, experts previously told Insider

"Analyzing and interpreting vast amounts of language based data and information is a skill that you'd expect generative AI technologies to ramp up on," Anu Madgavkar, a partner at McKinsey Global Institute, said.

Some news sites have already experimented with using AI models to write articles and other types of media content, including BuzzFeed and CNET. Insider's global editor-in-chief recently announced its newsroom will start experimenting with ChatGPT.

Madgavkar told Insider that most of the work in media jobs can't be fully automated.

"There's a ton of human judgment that goes into each of these occupations," Madgavkar said.

Generative AI can potentially affect 300 million-full time jobs around the world, research from Goldman Sachs found. The report says around two-thirds of current jobs can be somewhat automated, and generative AI can do up to a quarter of work, based on an analysis of occupational tasks in US and European jobs.

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China and India are buying so much Russian oil that Moscow's now selling more crude than it was before invading Ukraine

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 12:35pm
  • Russia's exports of crude oil have now surpassed the volumes hit before its invasion of Ukraine.
  • China and India account for roughly 90% of Russia's seaborne crude exports, Kpler data shows.
  • With Europe largely out of the picture, the two countries are each buying 1.5 million barrels a day from Russia.

Russia has been able to navigate Western sanctions well enough to push oil exports above levels reached before its war on Ukraine — and new data suggests that Moscow has China and India to thank for that. 

In the first quarter, Russia's seaborne crude oil exports totaled 3.5 million barrels per day versus 3.35 million barrels in the year-ago quarter, the tail end of which saw the start of Russia's war on Ukraine. 

China and India now account for roughly 90% of Russia's oil, with each country snapping up an average of 1.5 million barrels per day, according to commodities analytics firm Kpler

That's enough to absorb the shipments that no longer head to European nations, which used to account for nearly two-thirds of Russia's crude exports. Europe now takes in only 8% of Russia's oil exports, per Kpler. 

"Both China and Russia are taking advantage of discounted Russian crude, benefiting from the sanctions applied on Russian materials by other countries," Matt Smith, lead oil analyst at Kpler, told Insider Friday.

Behind China and India, Turkey and Bulgaria are the biggest buyers of Russian crude. 

Even before Vladimir Putin launched his war on Ukraine, China was already a top buyer of Russian crude, importing 25% of its crude from the country in 2021. That's since climbed to 36%, Kpler data shows.

India, the world's third-largest oil importer, relied on Russia for about 1% of its total volumes prior to the war, but now buys 51% of its oil from Russia.

The US has led Europe and other Western nations in imposing sanctions and energy price caps on Russia, designed to maintain market flows while curtailing Moscow's export revenue.

European Central Bank calculations show trade volume between the euro area and Russia has halved since February 2022, with the bloc's imports of Russian imports seeing particularly steep declines following the bans on coal in August 2022, crude oil in December 2022, and refined oil products in February 2023. 

The ECB chart below shows a similar pattern illustrated in Kpler's data, with Russian seaborne crude exports shifting toward Asian buyers and away from Europe.

To be sure, the revenue Russia generates from its energy exports has fallen along with the drop in prices, even as volumes remain elevated.

The International Energy Agency said Friday that Moscow's revenue is down about 43% compared to the same time last year.

But oil prices are heading back up as China's reopening economy drives demand while OPEC and Russia pinch supplies. 

Earlier this month, OPEC+ announced a surprise production cut of over 1 million barrels a day, with Russia extending its 500,000-barrel-a-day pullback through mid-2023.

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A TikToker who calls herself 'yourrichBFF' is teaching 'broke adults' how to claim cash from Ikea

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 12:32pm
A TikToker who goes by "yourrichbff" gives advice on how to claim money from Ikea.
  • A TikToker who goes by "yourrichbff" wants to help "broke adults" get cash from Ikea.
  • In a TikTok, she spoke about how Ikea settled a 2019 class-action lawsuit for $24 million.
  • US shoppers who bought items from Ikea from 2017 to 2019 might be able to claim up to $60.

Yourrichbff, a TikTok user who makes videos about money-saving tips, said that she wanted "former broke college students and current broke adults" to know they might be able to claim some cash from Ikea.

"If you, like me, bought Ikea furniture any time between October 18, 2017, and December 31, 2019, listen up because I'm Vivian, your rich BFF and your favorite Wall Street girly, and I'm going to help you make like 30 to 60 bucks in the next five minutes," she said in the TikTok video.

@yourrichbff IKEA may owe you MONEY! #money #finance #budgeting #savingmoney #wealth #rich #personalfinance #financialliteracy #cash #lifehack #ikea #furniture #broke #classaction ♬ Blue Blood - Heinz Kiessling

In the TikTok clip posted on April 2, Vivian spoke about the class-action lawsuit Ikea was slapped with in 2019, which accused the furniture brand of printing more than the last five digits of customers' debit- and credit-card numbers on their receipts.

In the lawsuit filed in Cook County, Illinois, Willard D. Richardson and Jamie Yeomans alleged that Ikea breached the 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.

The documents also say that although Ikea "vigorously" denied liability or wrongdoing, the company agreed to a $24 million settlement.

Under the settlement, people who shopped at an Ikea in the US in the relevant timeframe can claim back money from the Swedish company if they used a debit card or credit card for their purchase and were issued a receipt showing the first six and last four digits of the card that they used.

Claims must be submitted by May 4, NBC News reported, adding that the final amount paid to customers would depend on how many people submit claims.

The TikToker is popular for her videos on money hacks and financial advice, like how to become the "first millionaire in your family" and "how to PREDICT layoffs AHEAD of time!!"

The latter, posted on March 16, is one of her most viral TikToks, amassing 3.1 million views by press time.

At press time, her TikTok on Ikea claims had been viewed more than 674,000 times.

Vivian and representatives for Ikea did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent outside regular business hours.

Correction: April 14, 2023 — An earlier version of this story overstated who's eligible to claim money under the Ikea settlement. It applies only to shoppers at US stores during the relevant timeframe who used a debit or credit card and received a receipt showing the first six and last four digits of the card.

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Here are 6 bullish surprises that could power the stock market through the rest of this year, according to Bank of America

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 12:32pm
  • There are six potential bull market surprises that could drive stocks higher, according to Bank of America.
  • The bank highlighted the deflationary impact of ChatGPT and a potential end to the Russia-Ukraine war.
  • "Bearish sentiment + $5 trillion of cash [is] still the 'best friends forever' for risk assets, especially stocks," BofA said.

The stock market has already staged an impressive year-to-date rally of about 8%, but those gains could balloon by the end of the year if one of Bank of America's bullish surprises plays out.

In a Thursday note, Bank of America's investment strategist Michael Hartnett outlined the six potential bullish surprises that could jolt the stock market higher as pessimism remains prevalent among a large swath of investors, including hedge funds, which have built up their largest short position against the S&P 500 since 2011.

That bearish positioning also comes as investors continue to build up their cash positions via money market funds, which now tops a record $5 trillion.

"Bearish sentiment + $5 trillion of cash [is] still the 'best friends forever' for risk assets, especially stocks," Hartnett said.

These are the six bullish surprises that could fuel more upside in the stock market this year, according to BofA.

1. "Russia/Ukraine/NATO war ends."

An end to the Russia-Ukraine conflict should help calm down geopolitical tensions and ease supply chain concerns related to certain commodities.

2. "Immigration + ChatGPT = back to disinflation."

An increase in immigration in the US and ChatGPT's ability to save time for certain tasks are both deflationary forces that when combined could help squash inflation. Such a decline in inflation would pave the way for the Federal Reserve to back off its interest rate hikes. 

3. "Arms race in tech spending."

As ChatGPT makes waves, many technology companies will be spending money to play catch-up, and that would be good news for the economy.

4. "New fiscal 'bailout' culture = no recession."

Both sides of the aisle in Congress have a tendency to spend a lot of money when a big economic shock occurs, so what's stopping them from doing the same thing in the future? 

5. "Why sell when policy makers panic so easily."

It's not only Congress that will do everything in their power to dent the blow of an economic downturn. The Federal Reserve also has powerful tools via interest rate cuts and bond buying programs to try and stimulate the economy.

6. "Stocks less dangerous than bonds."

If stocks are viewed once again viewed as a better alternative than bonds, it could fuel a surge of inflows into the asset class.

If any of the surprises play out, it could help the economy avoid a recession or see a soft landing rather than a hard landing, according to Hartnett, ultimately boosting the stock market higher.

But there are still risks that are holding investors back from going all-in on stocks. Those risks include a hard landing for the economy, a credit event in shadow banking, and a potential conflict between China, Taiwan, and the US, Hartnett said.

To measure whether the economy is signaling that a hard or soft landing is ahead (or no landing at all), Hartnett recommends investors follow the price action of high yield bonds, homebuilder stocks, and the semiconductor index. 

If the iShares High Yield Bond ETF (HYG) trades above 73, the SPDR Homebuilders ETF (XHB) trades above 70, and the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) trades above 2,900, it would signal that a soft landing or no recession at all is in the cards, and vice versa if those assets trade below those levels.

So far, two of those three signals suggest a positive economy ahead, with the High Yield ETF trading at $75.15 and the Semiconductor Index trading at 3,056 on Friday. Meanwhile, the Homebuilder ETF is trading at $67. 

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Powering the Point-of-Sale: How Providers Are Building Cost-Effective Omnichannel Solutions

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 12:30pm
  • POS infrastructure providers are scrambling to align their offerings
  • mPOS providers are trying to balance demands from upmarket sellers and micromerchants
  • Payment gateways must double down on omnichannel to woo customers

As the landscape of market leaders shifts, we forecast that the US point-of-sale (POS) terminal installed base will grow from 17.3 million this year to 20.2 million in 2026, largely due to providers upgrading technology. 

Consumer and merchant demands for all-in-one solutions are blurring the lines between POS hardware and software as the desire for simple, affordable, single-integration offerings increases. With terminal installation growth slowing due to digital payment acceptance approaching ubiquity, two types of technology—near-field communication-based and biometric terminals—are at the forefront of upgrades for POS in 2023. However, looming in the not-so-distant future is autonomous checkout, which poses a huge threat to traditional checkout methods as merchant interest and consumer readiness peak. 

Another strong contender to keep an eye on is mobile POS (mPOS). These solutions offer businesses a portable and affordable turnkey alternative that can turn smartphones into payment terminals. We project that the US mPOS market will grow at a 14.1% three-year compound annual growth rate through 2026, making up 47.2% of the US terminal market that year. Two groups are expected to drive the mPOS share growth: small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which are looking for digital payment acceptance solutions; and enterprise businesses, which are supplementing their countertop hardware and kiosks with portable mPOS terminals. 

According to an October 2022 Paysafe study, 70% of SMBs cited a desire to simplify payments technology and partnerships. As a result, providers are more focused than ever to create a one-stop shop that meets business needs beyond payments. With this mounting demand, there is a resounding focus on cash flow, next-generation omnichannel, and fraud prevention and detection. Providers need to make quick changes to innovate or risk losing out on their customer base to new players like Amazon and Walmart, which are building their own POS software. 

Innovation is at the forefront of POS as the merchant and consumer needs for all-in-one solutions mount. Curious to learn more about powering the point-of-sale? Click here to purchase this report directly from Insider Intelligence. Want more data? Click here to purchase The Payments Ecosystem collection.

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Russian hackers are targeting cameras at Ukrainian coffee shops to spy on convoys of Western military aid, top NSA official says

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 12:26pm
Citizens enjoy their time at a cafe in Kyiv as daily life continues amid Russia-Ukraine war in Ukraine on March 03, 2023.
  • Russian hackers are using "creative" ways to tap into cameras in Ukraine, according to a US official. 
  • "They're looking out the coffee shop security camera and seeing the road they need to see," he said. 
  • US defense manufacturers are also under "daily pressure" from Russian hackers, said NSA's Rob Joyce.

Russian hackers are using "creative" ways to tap into security cameras in Ukraine, including monitoring private cameras in cafes to collect intelligence on Western military supplies and aid, a top US security official said on Tuesday.

Rob Joyce, the director of cybersecurity at the National Security Agency, said that hackers in Russia are attacking technology systems as a part of the country's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

During a talk at the Center for International and Strategic Studies in Washington, Joyce said there are "creative things going on" in the context of Russian intelligence collection and continued attacks on Ukrainian interests that are "just trying to be disruptive." 

"We're watching the Russian hackers log into public-facing webcams to watch convoys and trains delivering aid," the NSA official said. 

He added that while hackers are logging into closed-circuit cameras in public, they are also hacking into cameras on private properties.

"Instead of using the town square that's available to the internet, they're looking out the coffee shop security camera and seeing the road they need to see," he added

US defense manufacturers and logistical transport companies are also under "daily pressure from the Russians," Joyce said, as they use their hacking efforts to try to understand what"lethal aid" the West is delivering to Ukraine's war effort.

On both sides of the conflict in Ukraine, hacking efforts and electronic warfare are significant, although Russian hacking has been an increasing concern for the US military, Insider previously reported.

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Thieves stole at least 1 million dimes — that's $100K — from a cargo truck parked overnight at a Philadelphia Walmart, police say

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 12:02pm
Thieves got away with a million dimes in Philadelphia.
  • Thieves made off with an unusual bounty from a Walmart parking lot in Philadelphia on Thursday.
  • At least 1 million dimes, or $100,000, were stolen from a cargo truck parked in the lot overnight, reports say.
  • The truck was carrying $750,000 in dimes from a Philadelphia US Mint facility to Florida.

A Philadelphia Walmart was the site of a recent theft, but the thieves didn't get away with any merchandise from the big-box retailer. Instead, their bounty was coins — lots and lots of coins.

Police say thieves made off with at least 1 million dimes, worth $100,000, from a cargo truck parked overnight in a Walmart parking lot, according to the Associated Press. The truck's driver had picked up $750,000 in dimes from a US Mint on Wednesday and had parked the vehicle at the Walmart overnight while he went to get some sleep before hitting the road again the following day to drive to Florida, according to local news station 6 ABC.

Authorities say a bolt cutter was likely used to break into the truck, and dimes were found strewn across the parking lot Thursday morning, according to local news station NBC10.

Philadelphia Police Captain John Ryan told local reporters that northeastern and southern Philadelphia have seen similar cargo thefts in recent months, including thefts of lamb, chicken, TVs, refrigerators, and alcohol.

No arrests have been made yet and the investigation is ongoing.

The Philadelphia Police Department and the US Mint did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment. Walmart deferred to police for any information regarding the incident.

John Chu, the acting chief of public affairs at the US Mint, told NBC10 in a statement, "The carrier responsible for the shipment is a commercial contractor and is personally insured against incidents of loss or theft. The Mint has implemented countermeasures to aid in the prevention of similar types of thefts in the future."

Read the original article on Business Insider

A captured Russian tank from the war in Ukraine mysteriously showed up at a truck stop in Louisiana, report says

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 12:01pm
A Russian T-90 tank was left in Roanoke, Louisiana this week. Nobody knows how it got there.
  • A Russian tank mysteriously appeared off a highway in Louisiana on Tuesday, The War Zone reported.
  • Nobody knows where the tank came from, or where it was supposed to go.
  • Open-source intelligence groups think the tank was abandoned in Kharkiv last year, the outlet said.

A captured Russian tank from the war in Ukraine mysteriously showed up at a truck stop in Louisiana, military publication The War Zone reported on Thursday.

Employees at Peto's Travel Center and Casino in Roanoke, Louisiana, told the outlet they were stumped when they saw that someone had left a Russian T-90A tank on a truck trailer in their parking lot, which is located off the Interstate 10 highway. 

"I've been here seven years," Valerie Mott, the assistant manager of the casino and travel center, told The War Zone. "I've never seen [a tank] here before."

The tank did not have any machine guns attached to it and had damaged front and rear fenders, The War Zone reported. 

However, it did have explosive reactive armor containers on the turret and a Shtora-1 armored fighting vehicle defense system, which is common for Russian T90 tanks, the outlet said.

Open-source intelligence groups Oryx and, who track military equipment used in Ukraine, told The War Zone that the tank most likely belonged to Russia's 27th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade and was abandoned in Kharkiv Oblast in September last year.

"It was captured by Ukraine's 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade, hence the yellow 9s on the tank while in Louisiana (this is the marking the 92nd puts on their equipment)," the groups told The War Zone. 

Cody Sellers, who manages Peto's Travel Center and Casino, told The War Zone that nobody knew where the tank came from, or where it was supposed to go.

Some staff did add that a group of men had dropped the tank off on Tuesday, saying that the truck they were transporting it on had broken down and that they needed to travel to Houston to get a new one.

The men were not identified and have not returned it yet. 

Spokespeople from two nearby military bases — one in Fort Polk, which is around 60 miles north, and one in New Boston, Texas, which is about 240 miles north of the truck stop — said it did not immediately appear the tank was headed there. 

"My opinion is this tank is probably owned by a private citizen or company," the Fort Polk spokesperson told The War Zone. "It doesn't seem likely the military would leave something like that unattended."

Insider was unable to independently verify the report. Spokespeople for the Pentagon, the Russian military, and the Ukrainian Ground Forces did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment. 

Since the start of Russia's invasion last year, Ukrainian troops have been reusing captured Russian tanks in battle. This would be the first time one of these tanks would have appeared outside of the area of conflict. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

ChatGPT needs to 'drink' a water bottle's worth of fresh water for every 20 to 50 questions you ask, researchers say

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 12:00pm
ChatGPT is estimated to consume a standard 16.9 oz bottle of water for every 20 to 50 questions and answers.
  • AI's environmental impact is largely unknown, but a new paper points gives some insight into it.
  • Training GPT-3 requires water to stave off the heat produced during the computational process.
  • Every 20 to 50 questions, ChatGPT servers need to "drink" the equivalent of a 16.9 oz water bottle.

As the general public rushes to generative AI tools like ChatGPT, the environmental impact of the new technology is beginning to come to light.

While there's still very little data on AI and sustainability, a recent study from researchers at the University of California, Riverside and the University of Texas, Arlington points to the water footprint of AI models like OpenAI's GPT-3 and GPT-4.

While training GPT-3 in its data centers, Microsoft was estimated to have used 700,000 liters — or about 185,000 gallons — of fresh water. That's enough water to fill a nuclear reactor's cooling tower, per Gizmodo, and the same amount that is used to produce 370 BMW cars or 320 Tesla vehicles, per the study. 

Using these numbers, it was determined that ChatGPT would require 500 ml of water, or a standard 16.9 oz water bottle, for every 20 to 50 questions answered.

"While a 500 ml bottle of water might not seem too much, the total combined water footprint for inference is still extremely large" due to ChatGPT's large user base, the study's authors wrote.

Microsoft is "investing in research to measure the energy use and carbon impact of AI while working on ways to make large systems more efficient, in both training and application," a Microsoft spokesperson told Insider in a statement.

"We are also continuing to invest in purchasing renewable energy and other efforts to meet our sustainability goals of being carbon negative, water positive and zero waste by 2030," they added.

OpenAI did not respond to Insider's requests for comment.

AI models like GPT-3 and GPT-4 are hosted in data centers, which are physical warehouses that store large swaths of computational servers. These servers identify patterns and linkages across massive datasets, which in turn, utilizes energy, whether that's electricity, coal, nuclear power, or natural gas. 

Significant expenditures of energy are used in the training process, which is then converted into heat. Water is then used on-site to keep temperatures in check across the entire infrastructure. Fresh water is required for proper humidity control and because saltwater can lead to "corrosion, clogged water pipes, and bacterial growth," per the study.

Moving forward, these figures could "increase by multiple times for the newly-launched GPT-4 that has a significantly larger model size," the researchers said. 

Using their own methodology that computes on-site and off-site water usage effectiveness (WUE), in addition to energy usage, the team of researchers also developed water footprint estimates for Google's large language model known as LaMDA. 

Ultimately, though, a lack of transparency surrounding the water consumption numbers involved with AI training makes it difficult to pinpoint the actual footprint. When asked about LaMDA's water usage, Google pointed to a November 2022 report that published 2021 data on the broad consumption of water across data centers.

"While it is impossible to know the actual water footprint without detailed information from Google, our estimate shows that the total water footprint of training LaMDA is in the order of million liters," the researchers wrote.

While the carbon footprint involved with generative AI is beginning to ring alarm bells, researchers said their paper seeks to "highlight the necessity of holistically addressing water footprint along with carbon footprint to enable truly sustainable AI." 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Burger King is closing 27 more locations across the US. See the full list.

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 12:00pm
Burger King reported US same-store sales grew 5% at the end of 2022, but some franchisees are struggling.
  • Franchisee Meridian Restaurants Unlimited is closing 27 Burger King locations in the US.
  • The closures mainly impact stores in Utah and Minnesota, but are spread across seven states. 
  • Another Burger King franchisee, EYM King of Michigan said it will close 26 locations last month. 

Burger King franchisee Meridian Restaurants Unlimited is closing 27 restaurants across seven states, including in its home state of Utah. 

Meridian operates over 100 Burger King locations. It is the latest franchisee to announce it will shutter restaurants this year. EYM King of Michigan said in March it is closing all 26 locations in the state, citing a failure to come to terms with the fast-food chain on a new deal. 

Meridian said in court filing that while it is unlikely it will close a significant amount of its Burger King locations, it is leaving open the possibility of more closures in the future, Restaurant Business first reported

The Burger King operator filed for bankruptcy in March because of low sales and high inflation, among other factors. Another Burger King franchisee, TOMS King Holdings, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January for similar reasons.

While some of its franchisees struggle, Burger King is showing early signs of a turnaround. The chain last reported same-store sales in the US grew by 5% at the end of last year. Last fall, the brand unveiled its "reclaim the flame" plan, which involves investing $400 million into marketing and remodeling top restaurants. 

Here's a list of the stores closing: Minnesota
  • 209 Nokomis Street, Alexandria
  • 926 Central Avenue Northeast,  East Grand Forks
  • 528 Western Ave, Fergus Falls
  • 21 Depot Street, Litchfield
  • 205 Lake Street, Long Prairie
  • 586 Southwest 1st Street, Montevideo
  • 516 East Bridge Street, Redwood Falls
  • 100 21st Street North, Moorhead
  • 1611 US-12, Willmar
  • 1422 West Main Street, Lewistown
  • 520 North 27th St, Billings
  • 1211 9th Street West, Columbia Falls
  • 2201 East Kansas Ave, McPherson
  • 3627 South Lincoln Avenue, York
  • 2504 O St, Lincoln
  • 4230 North 27th Street, Lincoln
North Dakota
  • 3765 Gateway Drive, Grand Forks
  • 171 East Gateway Dr, Heber
  • 7810 South 1300 E, Sandy
  • 10235 South State Street, Sandy
  • 729 North Main St, Clearfield
  • 1466 East 3500 North, Lehi
  • 119 East Crossroads Blvd, Saratoga Springs
  • 147 East Bangerter Highway, Draper
  • 5390 South 1900 West, Roy
  • 1660 West North Temple St, Salt Lake City
  • 1902 Mountain View Drive, Cody
Read the original article on Business Insider

The Evolving Payments Purchasing Chain: How Digitization and Economic Pressures Are Changing the Ecosystem

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 12:00pm
  • Acquirers and processors are competing to enhance their value propositions
  • Card and automated clearing house (ACH) payment networks are dueling for volume
  • Issuers can lean on customer relationships and tranches of data to respond to innovation

Amid economic uncertainty, payments providers are making meaningful shifts to digitize and innovate as they continue to grow at a projected 8.3% compound annual growth rate worldwide between 2021 and 2026, per Boston Consulting Group. 

The changing economic landscape is leading to consolidation and a stronger focus on innovation. Both large and small players in the space can adapt their products to address current market needs and press on toward digitization. Although driving towards digitization increasingly becomes the industry standard, networks like Visa and Mastercard will likely keep raising swipe fees under the argument that these fees are integral to funding security, innovation, and credit card rewards systems. As an alternative to networks, we are seeing strong adoption of instant payments (which nearly a third of US retailers are exploring, per a June 2022 survey) and buy now, pay later (which we forecast more than 2 in 5 US digital buyers will leverage in 2023). 


The rise of digitization and noncard payment methods could pose a large threat to issuers' transaction-based revenues. In order to stay afloat, issuers will look to reap more value from existing customers. This should not prove to be a challenge anytime soon, as consumers in North America still trust banks more than fintech providers, according to a December 2021 Mastercard survey. However, as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau makes moves to increase competition through regulation, consumers could find it easier to change banks in the future. To prevent a mass exodus, issuers will leverage customer data to create more personalized offerings. 


What is abundantly clear is that the diversification of the payments landscape paired with the threat of new regulation is creating more opportunities for the savvy consumer. In order to stay afloat, players must focus on the needs of their customers, convenience, and expanding their products to include more payment method options. Curious to learn more about the evolving payments purchasing chain? Click here to purchase this report directly from Insider Intelligence. Want more data? Click here to purchase The Payments Ecosystem collection.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Video appears to show Joe Biden being snubbed by the Irish president's dog during his visit to Ireland

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 11:59am
Misneach the dog looks on as President Joe Biden walks with President Michael Higgins and his wife Sabina at Aras an Uachtarain, in Phoenix Park, Dublin, during his visit to Ireland on April 13, 2023.
  • A video shows Biden appeared to be snubbed by Irish President Michael Higgins's dog.
  • The president went to greet the Bernese mountain dog, but the dog rejected his approach and barked.
  • The interaction took place on the final day of the president's four-day trip to Ireland.

President Joe Biden appeared to be snubbed by Irish President Michael Higgins's dog when they met on Thursday during his visit to Ireland.

The humorous interaction was captured on video as Biden approached the dog, Misneach, whose name means "courage," while touring the gardens of Higgins' residence.

The video shows the large Bernese mountain dog, a Swiss breed, excitedly bounding toward its owner as Biden, a known dog-lover, approaches behind to greet the canine.

—RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 13, 2023


Misneach rejects the overture and starts barking at the president, eliciting laughter from the crowd.

This is not the first time Misneach has stolen the show – the dog previously found itself in the spotlight two years ago after being filmed demanding attention from Higgins as he delivered a speech about the death of actor Tom Hickey.

Biden is also no stranger to misbehaving dogs. Major, one of his German shepherds, previously caused minor scandals with several biting incidents and was eventually sent to live with family friends.

The Irish dog's interaction with Biden occurred on the final day of the president's four-day trip to Ireland to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - the final season lands on Amazon Prime Video

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 11:54am

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After four memorable seasons following the 1950s housewife turned stand-up comic, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel returns for its fifth and final installment. With 20 Emmy wins, one of the best Amazon Original series yet has captivated audiences and critics alike throughout its run. The final season will start streaming from April 14 exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, which is available in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. If your country doesn't have Prime Video, we can help you tune in via a VPN. Keep reading to find out how.

How to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in the US

For Amazon Prime members in the US, watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a breeze. Prime Video is included in the membership, which costs $15 a month or $139 a year after a price increase last year. If you don't want a full Prime membership, Prime Video is available on its own for $9 a month.

Following the cadence of the fourth season, new episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will be released weekly on Fridays following the three-episode premiere on April 14. Amazon Prime and Prime Video offer a 30-day trial to new subscribers, so to stream the entire season for free, you'll have to wait to start the trial to catch all nine episodes, with the finale set to air on May 26.

How to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in the UK

UK fans of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel can catch the final season with a Prime membership or individual Prime Video subscription. An Amazon Prime membership costs £95 per year or £8.99 per month, but the first 30 days are free if you want to try before buying. If you only want to enjoy Amazon's video offerings, a separate membership just for Amazon Prime Video costs £5.99 per month. 

How to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in 200+ other countries 

Like other streaming services, the content library available on Prime Video varies from country to country. However, as an Amazon Original series—and one of their most popular shows—The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is widely accessible in over 200 countries and territories with Prime Video. All earlier seasons of the series were accessible in all Prime Video country libraries, and the final season is set to follow suit.

Prime Video comes included in an Amazon Prime membership, but is only available as an independent offering in the US and UK. Viewers in other countries will have to purchase a  Prime membership elsewhere to access Prime Video content.

What if your country isn't supported?

If your country doesn't have access to Prime Video (check Amazon's website to confirm) or the country's content library doesn't include The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, you can still watch the final season. You'll need a VPN to select a country where Prime Video is available and you can stream from there once you sign up. After testing out a few of the best VPNs, our favorite is ExpressVPN for its reliable performance and security. For something a little cheaper, we also liked NordVPN. If you're still having difficulty streaming, try setting your browser to incognito mode and try out a few different locations until it loads successfully.


Check out the trailer for season 5:Where did the last season leave off?Rachel Brosnahan (Miriam 'Midge' Maisel) and Luke Kirby (Lenny Bruce) on "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."

Season 4 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel saw Midge set on a course to only take headlining gigs moving forward, tired of the trials of being a supporting act. Suzie does her best to get Midge the types of gigs she craves but has her hands full seeking out new acts to grow her talent agency. Meanwhile, Midge's ex-husband Joel has been dating Mei—the daughter of the landlord of his club—and by the end of the season they are expecting a child together. After several seasons of "will they won't they" intrigue between Lenny and Midge, the pair finally connect in the finale. Following the tryst, their relationship quickly turns prickly as Lenny fights with Midge about her refusal of an offer to be the opening act for Tony Bennet. Reeling from the argument but still determined to show her comedic prowess, Midge sets her sights on a new goal: perform on "The Gordon Ford Show."

What other Amazon Originals can I stream right now? 

Amazon's streaming library continues to grow, particularly with its lineup of original series and films included with a Prime membership. Some new and notable Amazon originals include "Daisy Jones and the Six," "The Power," "Swarm," and "Somebody I Used to Know."

Note: The use of VPNs is illegal in certain countries and using VPNs to access region-locked streaming content might constitute a breach of the terms of use for certain services. Insider does not endorse or condone the illegal use of VPNs.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Republicans in battleground states sidestep endorsing Trump as they eye 2024 Senate bids

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 11:49am
From left, clockwise, Dave McCormick, Frank LaRose, and Donald Trump.
  • Republicans weighing 2024 Senate bids in key states haven't settled on Donald Trump for 2024.

  • Potential candidates in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Montana are keeping their options open.
  • "I have not made a decision to support anybody," Dave McCormick of Pennsylvania told POLITICO in March.

Republicans who are weighing 2024 Senate bids in battleground states have been keeping their options open when asked whether they support Donald Trump's 2024 GOP presidential primary bid.

In interviews with media outlets, potential candidates for races in swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Montana have sidestepped questions about endorsing the embattled former president, who is now facing 34 felony counts in New York.

"I have not made a decision to support anybody. I want to see how the primary goes, and I also am a strong proponent of hopefully a vision for the future that's positive — more looking forward than backwards," former hedge-fund CEO Dave McCormick, who is considering another Senate bid in the Keystone State, told POLITICO when asked in March if he supported Trump in the primary.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said he wasn't going to weigh in on the 2024 race anytime soon. "When it comes to who's going to be my party's standard-bearer in 2024, that's really a decision for millions of Republican primary voters all over the country to make," he told Spectrum News in February.

Rep. Matt Rosendale, a possible GOP contender from Montana, appears to be hedging his bets. He made the pilgrimage to Trump's Florida home at Mar-a-Lago this month and posted a picture of himself there a day after Trump's historic arraignment. But he reportedly has no plans to make an endorsement, and the Daily Beast reported he left Palm Beach without scoring any facetime with the aggrieved former president.

"As Senate Republican's primary dynamics get messier by the day, Senate GOP candidates are in a lose-lose situation when it comes to Trump," said Nora Keefe, a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Representatives for the three GOP prospects and the Senate GOP campaign arm either did not elaborate or respond when asked for comment. 

The challenging Trump topic

All three have been complimentary or deferential towards Trump in the past, but seem hesitant to hitch their wagons to him now as they consider primary bids in states with incumbent Democratic senators.

Senate elections in those states will likely be among the most closely watched, as Democrats and independents defend seats in 23 states while Republicans defend just 11.

Trump, who endorsed multiple losing candidates in 2022, is likely to be a challenging topic for Republicans in these races as he faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. The charges follow a probe of alleged hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election.

Rep. Mike Gallagher, a potential Senate candidate in another battleground state, Wisconsin, has repeatedly said he would not support Trump since the Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in the January 6 insurrection. He's also looking for a younger nominee. "I have a no-boomer policy in this election. I stand by what I said," he said during an Axios forum when asked if he would support Trump if he becomes the nominee.

It's complicated

Other Republicans like McCormick have their own complicated history with Trump.

During a March 2017 talk at Duke University, he said he wasn't a Trump supporter. But in the lead-up to launching his short-lived 2022 Senate run, Politico reported that McCormick tried to shore up his MAGA bona fides by playing up his wife's tenure as a national security advisor in the Trump administration, seeking counsel from Trump confidants like former White House communications director Hope Hicks and Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, and having a spokeswoman relay that he'd voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020. 

In his new book, "Superpower in Peril: A Battle Plan to Renew America," McCormick reveals how hard it was to try and win Trump over as talk of endorsing celebrity candidate Mehmet Oz hung in the air. McCormick wrote that he raced down to Mar-a-Lago to buy himself more time, only to be greeted with a 2021 video clip of McCormick wishing newly elected President Joe Biden well. 

Trump then told him that the only way he could win Pennsylvania's open Senate seat was to parrot his baseless claims of 2020 election fraud. "I made it clear to him that I couldn't do that," McCormick said of their ideological impasse. 

Another potential GOP candidate in Pennsylvania, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, did not respond to Insider's request for comment on Trump. The far-right Republican was endorsed by Trump in his 2022 gubernatorial bid but he lost by 15 percentage points.

—Al Drago (@Al_Drago) January 7, 2023

In January, Rosendale was caught on camera waving off Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's attempt to put him on the phone with Trump during a round of votes on the House speaker. Just over a year earlier in November 2021, he happily accepted the embattled former president's help, writing on social media that he was "honored to receive the endorsement of President Trump as I seek reelection." He cruised to a second term in ruby-red Montana last fall, securing 57% of the vote

While Rosendale reportedly condemned "political violence in all forms" following the deadly January 6, 2021 siege at the US Capitol, he did vote to overturn the 2020 election results and did not back Trump's historic second impeachment trial

In Ohio, the Akron Beacon Journal slammed the "usually level-headed" LaRose in 2022 for his tweets backing Trump's false claims of widespread voter fraud. The Journal questioned whether LaRose, who was then running for reelection, was "eager for a Trump endorsement and the attention that would gain?"

Trump publicly endorsed LaRose just two months later. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ron DeSantis knows his 6-week abortion ban could come back to haunt him — that's why he's doing it under the radar

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 11:46am
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis when he was a member of the US House of Representatives.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law banning abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy.
  • He signed with almost no fanfare, especially compared to the crowd for his 15-week ban in 2022.
  • Polling show most Americans think abortion should be legal in most or all cases.

When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis enacted a 15-week abortion ban for people who are pregnant in April 2022, it was to much fanfare, with the governor surrounded by supporters and television crews.

"This will represent the most significant protection for life in this state in a generation," Florida's governor said at the time.

Soon after, in June 2022, the US Supreme Court allowed his 15-week abortion ban to go through after it overturned the Roe v. Wade decision that granted federal protections for people in the US seeking an abortion. 

A year later, when approving an even more restrictive abortion ban — this one limiting professionals from performing the procedure to six weeks of gestation — DeSantis signed the bill in the dead of night, away from the media and spotlight.

The 15-week abortion ban is still heading before the Florida Supreme Court, and if it's struck down, the six-week ban won't go into effect either.

DeSantis is expected to announce a run for president in the coming months. The Republican Party's platform is widely supportive of restricting access to abortion.  So why didn't the governor arrange a similar spectacle when signing it into law instead, instead assembling only a small group and putting out a press release near midnight?

The abortion issue is bad for Republicans

Taking polling into consideration perhaps explains DeSantis' decision. According to Pew Research, the majority of Americans think that abortion should be legal in most or all cases, making it difficult for DeSantis to come out on top in the court of public opinion after signing any bills restricting access to such care.

For example, when it comes to DeSantis' six-week restriction, according to recent polling from the Public Religion Research Institute, 63% of Americans — nearly two-thirds — said they were against laws that ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat could be detected (typically around the six-week mark). 

And Gen Z is now increasingly politically motivated by their concerns about restrictions on abortion, which recent polling has found is the political issue that they say concerned them most when voting

DeSantis also enacted the six-week abortion ban less than a week after a federal judge in Texas, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, struck down FDA approval of an abortion-inducing medication, leading to an outpouring of backlash against the judge. The PRRI poll found that 72% of Americans said they're against laws that outlaw using or receiving of FDA-approved medications used to induce an abortion. 

Seeing the recent backlash against Kacsmaryk, it makes sense why DeSantis would choose to avoid publicly signing the six-week ban in order to avoid a similar fate.

Democrats have run on abortion and won

Following the reversal of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, Democrats heavily campaigned on the issue of abortion in the 2022 midterm elections.

The Republican Party and many experts at the time expected a "red wave" in the voting booths, but Democrats surprised political pundits by maintaining control of the Senate and just narrowly losing control of the House of Representatives.

More recently, voters in Wisconsin voted for liberal Judge Janet Protasiewicz — who campaigned on reproductive freedoms — in an election that likely decided the immediate future of abortion rights in the state.

With this in mind, it's understandable why DeSantis crafted such fanfare when he first signed the 15-week ban in 2022 and did nothing in 2023 for the six-week ban: the more of a spotlight he puts on the decision, the more difficult it'll be for him to win over independents and subsequently the White House in 2024.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A Florida mayor accused Ron DeSantis — who's away on a book tour — of not calling to check in on Fort Lauderdale as it floods

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 2:01am
Ron DeSantis.
  • Ron DeSantis was away in Ohio on his book tour when Fort Lauderdale flooded this week.
  • "Governor DeSantis has not yet called. I'm not sure what's going on," the mayor of Fort Lauderdale said.
  • DeSantis previously visited cities affected by Hurricane Ian to talk about relief efforts.

Fort Lauderdale's mayor said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had not called him to check in on the city after it was severely flooded this week due to record-breaking rains.

In a press conference on Thursday, Mayor Dean Trantalis, a member of the Democratic party, gave updates on the flood that had shut down major roads in the city and turned the local airport into a lake. 

Reporter Chris Nelson asked Trantalis if he had spoken to DeSantis, to which Trantalis replied: "Governor DeSantis has not yet called."

—Chris Nelson

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