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Why China launched military drills during Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 2:48pm
  • China began military drills moments after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi touched down in Taiwan.
  • The exercises include live-fire drills in the water and airspace surrounding Taiwan.
  • Beijing sees an official US trip to Taiwan as an endorsement of its independent status.

China's military launched exercises near Taiwan this week shortly after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan.

Read the original article on Business Insider

iOS 16 lets you add multiple stops in Apple Maps — here's how to do it on your iPhone

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 2:40pm
Apple Maps is getting a few new features in iOS 16.
  • A new feature in iOS 16 lets you add multiple stops when getting driving directions in the Maps app on your iPhone.
  • To add multiple stops in Apple Maps, start planning a driving route, and then tap the "Add Stop" button.
  • Once you've added a stop, you can freely change the order of destinations or delete them.

If you're running errands or taking a long car trip, being able to add multiple stops onto one set of directions can be a lifesaver. With iOS 16, Apple is adding that feature to your iPhone's default Maps app.

Here's how to plan a route with multiple stops using Apple Maps — and then completely revamp that route later if you want.

Important: This Apple Maps feature is part of iOS 16, the next big update coming to iPhones. iOS 16 won't be officially available until the Fall, but you can download the iOS 16 beta and start using it right now.

How to add multiple stops in Apple Maps

You can add multiple stops whenever you're getting driving directions. Unfortunately, every other transportation style — walking, public transit, biking — is still locked to a single destination.

To get started, find your first stop — the first place you want to arrive at. You can pick it right off the map, or use the search bar.

Once you've got it, tap the blue directions icon below the location's name. Depending on how you've traveled in the past, it might already show you a picture of a car and the estimated travel time.

It'll show you all the best routes for getting there. Above the list of routes, tap Add Stop.

Generate a route to your first stop, and then you can add another.

Use the search bar to pick your next stop. Once the correct stop appears in your search results, tap it. It'll get added to your trip's itinerary, and the route will update to show you how long the entire trip will take. If you're zoomed in enough, it might even show you how long each individual leg of the trip will take.

You can add up to 15 stops to a single Apple Maps trip, including your starting point and final destination.

How to edit a trip with multiple stops in Apple Maps

Once you've got all your stops planned out, you can edit the trip however you want — you can even replace your starting point with another stop on the trip. You just have to do it before you start navigating.

To rearrange the order of stops, tap and drag the three lines on the right side of any stop.

And to delete a stop, swipe left on it and then tap the red Delete option that appears.

Generate a route to your first stop, and then you can add another.

If you've already started navigating, you can't rearrange the stops anymore. But you can delete them by tapping your ETA at the bottom of the screen, and then tapping the red minus sign next to any stop.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Joe Manchin spotted chatting up Kyrsten Sinema on the Senate floor as Dems' Inflation Reduction Act hangs in the balance

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 2:26pm
Sen. Joe Manchin talks to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on the Senate floor on Tuesday, August 2.
  • Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema spoke about the Democrats' economic agenda on Tuesday.
  • The two moderate Democrats appeared to be in conversation for approximately ten minutes.
  • Sinema is the lone Democratic holdout on the legislation in the 50-50 Senate.

Sen. Joe Manchin was spotted — down on one knee — chatting with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on the Senate floor on Tuesday as Democrats grow increasingly anxious over the Arizona centrist's silence thus far on the party's massive spending bill.

Sinema remains the lone Democratic holdout on the multi-billion dollar Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 — legislation that was struck in a surprise deal last week between Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in an effort to revive parts of President Joe Biden's economic agenda. 

Without Sinema's vote, Democrats can't pass the bill using budget reconciliation, which requires all 50 senators to be in agreement in the evenly-split Senate. 

Manchin told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that he and Sinema had discussed the legislation, but declined to offer further details. 

"We had a nice talk," Manchin told reporters, according to Bloomberg. "She will make her decision based on the facts. We're exchanging texts." 

C-SPAN footage from Tuesday's proceedings showed Manchin waiting for an opportunity to speak with Sinema, who was presiding over Senate proceedings. Once she became available, Manchin took a knee to meet her at eye level as she remained seated in her chair.

The two moderate Democrats appeared to chat for approximately ten minutes before Senate business picked up again. 

Manchin wasn't the only lawmaker who was spotted chatting with Sinema on the Senate floor. Several Republican senators could be seen talking with the Democrat during Tuesday's business, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has publicly railed against the bill.

A spokesperson for Sinema on Monday told Insider that she is still reviewing the legislative text and is waiting for more guidance from the Senate parliamentarian, the top official overseeing the reconciliation process.

If passed, the legislation would allocate $369 billion to energy security and climate change in an effort to cut carbon emissions by 40% by the year 2030. The bill also includes an estimated $64 billion for an extension of the Affordable Care Act through 2025 and allows Medicare to negotiate the price of 10 prescription drugs starting in 2026, securing a top Democratic goal. 

Manchin previously suggested that Sinema "has a lot" in this bill.

"She's the one that negotiated basically, and no one changed, the Medicare negotiations," Manchin told reporters earlier this week. "She's been very adamant in this bill on no tax increases. I take that very seriously."

Read the original article on Business Insider

'Lightyear' is now available on Disney Plus — here's how to stream the 'Toy Story' spinoff starring Chris Evans

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 2:12pm

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  • "Lightyear," Pixar's latest animated feature, is now streaming on Disney Plus.
  • The film details the origins of the iconic space ranger Buzz Lightyear.
  • To watch on Disney Plus, you'll need a subscription for $8/month or $80/year.

"Lightyear," the latest animated feature from Disney and Pixar, is now available to stream online. You can watch the new release with a Disney Plus subscription, which will cost you $8 a month or $80 a year. It's also available to buy from digital retailers like Amazon and Vudu for as low as $20.

"Lightyear" is a sci-fi adventure that tells the origin story of Buzz Lightyear. Instead of focusing on the action figure we know from the Toy Story films, "Lightyear" is about the fictional hero that Andy's toy is based on. The movie shows how Buzz got his start fighting intergalactic evil alongside his motley crew. 

Check out the 'Lightyear' trailer

The film hit streaming services on August 3 and features a star-studded voice cast, including Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear, alongside Uzo Aduba, James Brolin, Keke Palmer, and Taika Waititi. It received mostly positive reviews and holds a "75% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

How to watch 'Lightyear'

Lightyear" is now available to watch on Disney Plus. The movie became available to all subscribers without any extra fees on August 3.

Disney Plus costs $8 a month or $80 a year for ad-free streaming — but a new, ad-supported plan is set to launch for a lower price point later this year. For more value, you can bundle Hulu and ESPN+ with your Disney Plus membership starting at $14 a month. That's $8 less than you'd pay for all three services without bundling. 

"Lightyear" is available to stream in up to 4K quality with Dolby Vision contrast and Dolby Atmos audio on supported devices. An IMAX Enhanced version of the movie is also available with even more picture visible in select scenes.

Can I watch 'Lightyear' without Disney Plus?

If you'd rather not commit to a Disney Plus subscription, "Lightyear" is also available to buy from digital retailers like Amazon, Google, and Vudu for a starting price of $20.

Once you buy a digital title you can stream it whenever you like with no restrictions. There's no rental option as of yet, but one is likely to become available in the coming weeks. Renting is usually the cheapest route, with releases typically costing about $7. That said, rentals only let you watch movies for 48 hours.

Where can I watch the other Toy Story movies?

The entire Toy Story saga and all of its spinoffs are also available for streaming on Disney Plus. 

Will 'Lightyear' get a sequel?

A "Lightyear" sequel hasn't been confirmed, but it is implied in a post-credits scene in the film. Since the movie performed below expectations at the box office, whether we get a sequel or not will likely depend on how well the film does on Disney Plus and home video.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Some housing markets 'slam the brakes' while the value of investments in other cities stays strong

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 1:54pm
Ariel view of American neighborhood.
  • Rising inflation and interest rates have priced out many would-be homebuyers. 
  • As demand wanes, Black Knight's Andy Walden says the housing market has slammed on its brakes. 
  •  That's because some of the nation's hottest markets are now facing a downturn.

As home price growth slows on waning demand, Andy Walden, the vice president of enterprise research at mortgage data provider Black Knight, says the US real estate market has reached a turning point — and some regions more than others. 

"To be expected, with rates rising as quickly as they have, we were going to see a slowdown in prices, but certainly we are now seeing the market slam on the brakes very quickly here through the summer months," Walden said on CNBC.

Walden added that West Coast markets in particular are seeing the biggest slowdown. Black Knight's data shows that home prices have pulled back from their recent peaks in popular markets like San Jose, Seattle and San Francisco by 5.1%, 3.8% and 2.8%, respectively.

Indeed, the housing slowdown is escalating nationwide. In June, more than 40% of home sellers dropped their listing price and the amount of canceled home sales reached the highest rate since 2020 — signaling a notable shift in the real estate market.

"We are seeing some areas of the country slow — there have even been pullbacks in prices — while other areas remain extremely hot," Walden said. "I think it's going to vary significantly depending on where you bought a home."

Sheharyar Bokhari, a senior economist at Redfin, agreed, saying that markets will react differently to an economic downturn. 

"If the U.S. does enter a recession, we're unlikely to see a housing-market crash like in the Great Recession because the factors affecting the economy are different," Bokhari said in a housing report. "But a recession — or even a continued economic downturn that doesn't reach recession levels — would impact some local housing markets more than others."

Bokhari says popular migration destinations like San Jose, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Sacramento are the most at risk of home values dropping while less trendy and more affordable markets — mostly those in the Rust Belt region —  are likely to remain resilient. This is because demand from relocators and second-home seekers tends to fall during an economic downturn — a trend that has already begun

"As monthly mortgage payments skyrocket, buyers are quicker to back away from second homes than primary homes," Taylor Marr, deputy chief economist at Redfin, said in a statement. This opens up the market for buyers that remain and leaves them room to negotiate lower prices.

For pandemic home buying hotspots, this could mean real estate investments in these areas stand a worse chance of weathering a housing slump if the US enters a recession. Walden says housing markets in the West Coast are already experiencing equity declines as economic fears mount.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Number of Uber drivers hits record high of 5 million globally as cost of living soars — with 70% of new employees citing inflation as their primary reason for joining the company

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 1:51pm
An Uber driver helps a rider into a car in Palo Alto, California.
  • Uber now boasts a record-high five million global drivers, an increase of 31% from last year.
  • The uptick comes after a pandemic-led driver shortage, paired with drivers quitting over low pay and poor conditions. 
  • "We have a very strong flow of new drivers who are signing up, coming on to earn," CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said.

After a pandemic-led Uber driver shortage, the number of employees behind the wheel is on the rise. 

The ride-sharing app now boasts a record-high five million global drivers, an increase of 31% from last year, Uber reported on Tuesday. The uptick comes despite record-breaking gas prices in recent months, but also as many Americans scramble for second jobs and alternative sources of income to contend with skyrocketing inflation.

According to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, the company has seen an influx of new employees in recent months, with many citing inflation as a primary driver to joining. 

"We have a very strong flow of new drivers who are signing up, coming on to earn," Khosrowshahi told investors on Tuesday.  "Over 70% of them have said that inflation and what they're seeing right now in terms of the cost of groceries, the cost of living, plays a part in that decision for them to come on to the platform." 

Uber also outperformed Wall Street expectations, reporting quarterly revenue of $8.07 billion, up from analyst forecasts of $7.4 billion. 

The growth marks a significant contrast from 2021, when the company struggled to retain drivers and regain momentum, as increased vaccination rates and relaxed social distancing policies prompted higher demand for public transportation and ride-sharing. 

Adding to Uber's woes, the company saw droves of drivers quit in 2021, many citing low pay, poor working conditions, and health and safety concerns tied to the pandemic. In some areas, the driver shortage led to an average fare increase of more than 40%, as well as lengthy wait times for riders.

In the call with investors, Khosrowshahi attributed driver growth to an improved onboarding system, greater investments in the driver experience, and increased incentives for employees. 

On Friday, the company debuted a new "Upfront Fares" feature intended to give more control and autonomy to drivers by allowing them to see routes and estimated earnings before selecting to take a ride. The company has also taken measures in recent months like increasing rates for riders in an effort to help offset high gas prices and better support drivers

"Right now, the machine is working, and we're a very, very competitive place to earn and it's showing in the driver retention numbers," Khosrowshahi said on the call. 

The growth also comes as Uber navigates a slew of legal battles including facing a civil lawsuit from more than 500 women who claim they were sexually assaulted by drivers and reaching a $2 million settlement with the Department of Justice earlier this month for charging disabled drivers waiting fees

Read the original article on Business Insider

Retail investors' bullishness for Tesla is the highest in 2 years ahead of vote on EV maker's stock split

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 1:40pm
Tesla CEO Elon Musk with Tesla Model X Crossover SUV.
  • Purchases of Tesla stock by retail investors have been "skyrocketing," Vanda Research said on Wednesday. 
  • The stock price has soared ahead of the EV maker's vote Thursday on a stock-split proposal. 
  • Tesla's stock price surged 32% in July, cutting into a year-to-date loss. 

Individual investors have been piling into Tesla shares as they prepare for a potential split of the electric vehicle maker's stock, and their purchases have contributed to a recent upswing in the broader US market, according to a research firm. 

"[Tesla purchases] are skyrocketing — retail investors have never been so bullish since summer '20," Vanda Research said in a weekly note published Wednesday. Net retail purchases of Tesla reached $693 million in the previous five sessions, with the maker of electric-powered sedans and SUVs topping Vanda's weekly retail-flow tracker. Apple occupied the second spot, at $379 million. 

"We suspect that the strong buying activity followed the 3-for-1 stock split proposal," which goes to a shareholder vote on Thursday. Tesla, led by CEO Elon Musk, in June proposed a 3-for-1 stock split to triple the number of shares to 6 billion. 

"Although a stock split shouldn't have an impact on the stock price, retail investors speculate on the fact that historically stocks rallied after the split announcement," said Vanda. "If the split will be confirmed, we could even see an acceleration of inflows – which could push the stock price higher." 

Tesla shares traded at around $920 each on Wednesday. The stock remained down by roughly 13% on a year-to-date basis but a rally in July helped slice into that decline. Tesla stock last month soared 32%, ending at $891.45. 

The jump was part of a broader rally in US stocks in July that drove the  Nasdaq Composite up 12.3% and the S&P 500 up by 9.1%, their best monthly performance since November 2020. 

Vanda sees retail investors' flows as a major driver of the market's rebound in the last few days, aggregate buying has been consistently above the year-to-date average of $1.36 billion. Those investors have been focusing on Tesla and other "classic tech stocks" such as Nvidia, Apple, AMD, and Amazon, it said.

The second-quarter earnings season and positive performance of the equity market have drawn attention to single names rather than generic equity ETFs, the firm said. 

"We suspect that retail investors will continue to buy mainly single stocks and Tech over the next days or weeks – as long as the rally consolidates," it said. "However, the pick-up in risk sentiment is likely to be fragile given the YTD large portfolio losses - we believe that they could capitulate if the S&P 500 re-tests the lows." 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Sen. Ron Johnson suggests putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every year

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 1:26pm
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
  • Johnson suggested putting Social Security and Medicare up for potential cuts every year.
  • He faced a barrage of criticism from the White House and other Democrats.
  • The Wisconsin Republican earlier in the year suggested repealing Obamacare.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin suggested putting Social Security and Medicare up for potential spending cuts every year in an effort to rein in the national debt.

"If you qualify for the entitlement, you just get it no matter what the cost," the Wisconsin Republican said on "The Regular Joe Show" interview that aired Tuesday. "And our problem in this country is that more than 70 percent of our federal budget, of our federal spending, is all mandatory spending. It's on automatic pilot. It never — you just don't do proper oversight. You don't get in there and fix the programs going bankrupt."

—Heartland Signal (@HeartlandSignal) August 2, 2022

He went on: "What we ought to be doing is we ought to turn everything into discretionary spending so it's all evaluated so that we can fix problems or fix programs that are broken, that are going to be going bankrupt."

His comments prompted sharp criticism from the White House later on Tuesday. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Johnson's idea would "devastate families."

—Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) August 2, 2022

A Johnson representative elaborated on his comments.

"The Senator's point was we need oversight to save these programs and Congress needs to address to ensure that seniors don't question whether the programs they depend on remain solvent," Johnson spokesperson Alexa Henning said in a statement. "This must be addressed by Congress taking its responsibilities seriously to ensure that seniors don't need to question whether the programs they depend on remain solvent."

Both programs form the linchpin of the safety net. Social Security provides retirement benefits to elderly and disabled people while Medicare provides health coverage to Americans over the age of 65. Congress isn't required to reauthorize Social Security and Medicare spending every year.

Democrats mostly favor expanding benefits for both programs with higher taxes on the richest Americans and large corporations. Republicans have largely advocated for spending cuts to both programs over the years, though President Donald Trump mostly split the GOP from that direction.

Johnson is mounting his third bid for re-election to the Senate in the November midterms. But it's not the first time this year that Johnson prompted a wave of criticism from Democrats. He suggested Republicans should embark on another effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act if they retake control of Congress this fall.

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida put out an agenda in early March that would have prompted lawmakers to re-evaluate Social Security and Medicare every five years, fueling Democratic attacks that he aimed to jeopardize their future. Senate Minority Mitch McConnell rebuked Scott and said that would not be the intention of a Senate Republican majority.

Johnson faced a barrage of Democratic attacks for his comments. "You know what happens when we make things discretionary around here? All too often they get cut or even eliminated," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a floor speech on Wednesday.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Web3 entrepreneurs in Ghana and Zimbabwe are showing how crypto can be used for social good

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 12:59pm

Victor Mapunga, the CEO of FlexID, at the Algorand Foundation's AVM Austin event in June.
  • African fintech startups focus on blockchain's use cases rather than speculative investments.
  • Entrepreneurs have already solved issues in cross-border payments and ID verification.
  • This article is part of "Master Your Crypto," a series from Insider helping investors improve their skills in and knowledge of cryptocurrency. 

Blockchain is sometimes a byword for speculative investments and crypto crashes.

But in Africa, startups are working to deploy Web3 use cases, like bringing underbanked people online and into a more centralized financial system.

Data from the Swiss Crypto Valley Venture Capital, or CV VC, shows that while African blockchain startups raised $127 million in 2021, funding for the first quarter of 2022 alone has already totaled $91 million — a 1,668% increase from this time last year.

"There's a very clear difference between the startups that we invest in from Africa versus those from Europe and other developed markets," Gideon Greaves, a managing director at CV VC for Africa, said in a recent interview with Insider. "In Africa and similar emerging markets, we're kind of teaching the rest of the world about the true use cases of blockchain."

By using blockchain and automation to lower the costs of traditionally expensive processes, African startups have already begun to address issues like accessibility and fraud — with more use cases in the works.

Kofi Genfi's startup, Mazzuma, aims to increase financial accessibility in Africa.Growing use cases in fintech

Data from the World Bank shows that in Sub-Saharan Africa, the growing number of adults with a bank account can largely be attributed to the adoption of mobile money, or digital currencies and assets offered outside a traditional banking network. To Greaves, Africa's "poor financial infrastructure" has contributed to a rising number of use cases for blockchain across the fintech space as people seek out stronger financial systems online. 

One such startup that CV VC has invested in is Ghana's Mazzuma, which uses blockchain infrastructure to enable peer-to-peer payments. While the platform started off as a simple payment system for local e-commerce shops, Kofi Genfi, one of its cofounders, told Insider it had since ballooned to offer users a full suite of remittance products.

"We had some local payment systems like mobile money, which were giving accessibility to people in the most remote parts of the country, but now somebody can send money from Tokyo to Ghana, and then we settle it to somebody in the village," Genfi said.

In the past two years, Genfi said, Mazzuma processed over $140 million in transactions for its user base of 365,000 customers and 10,000 stores. He initially chose to use blockchain to cut costs via automation, for its ease in implementing the same infrastructure across a wider scale of platforms and developers, and for its potential to one day fight hyperinflation by remitting into globally regulated digital assets such as USD Coin.

Tola Adesanmi, a Nigerian tech entrepreneur, told Insider that the competing blockchain-based fintech startup Eversend's platform, headquartered in Paris, had significantly increased the convenience and efficiency of his cross-border payments. In his previous travels outside Nigeria, he'd have to exchange his naira for US dollars before converting it again to the currency of his destination country — but now all he needs to do before traveling is fund his Eversend wallet for automatic money transfers.

Stone Atwine, Eversend's founder, built the platform for that exact purpose, he told Bitcoin.com in June — to solve the massive obstacles with cross-border business payments across Africa, which he called blockchain's best use case.

"Traditional banking systems are not optimized for serving people without massive incomes. Branch networks, compliance systems, and limited efficiency do not allow them to serve the unbanked," he said in the interview.

While Adesanmi's startup, Spleet — which helps users pay rent monthly instead of yearly, the norm in Nigeria — doesn't use blockchain technology, he's excited about the prospects of blockchain platforms like Eversend to transform business and investing in Africa.

"In Africa, we have this problem of identity verification on a daily basis," said FlexID founder Victor Mapunga.Identity verification: another major use case

Blockchain data ledgers could also verify a person's identity, alongside other personal credentials like educational history, vaccination records, and medical certificates, Greaves said.

That's what Victor Mapunga set out to do when he founded FlexID, a Zimbabwean startup backed by the Algorand Foundation that aims to provide proof of identification to the estimated 400 million people in Africa who lack formal identification, he told Insider.

"You can't verify credentials about individuals in a centralized fashion because it's very hard to trust the origin of those credentials, it creates a central point of failure, and it makes it very hard to scale," Mapunga said, adding that taking a decentralized approach with blockchain would be "fundamental" in solving Africa's problems with identification verification.

Mapunga brainstormed his business idea after personally experiencing the debilitating obstacles around opening a bank account and has since built FlexID on WhatsApp, which he called one of the "most ubiquitous platforms" for internet access in Africa. Having verified 1.2 million bank credentials in Zimbabwe over the past three years, FlexID now focuses on scaling user onboarding into the formal economy without compromising privacy.

"When you think of blockchain, you always think of traceability and transparency — that's what was promoted a lot in the early days of blockchain, and that's exactly what we're seeing in Africa," Greaves said. "I think it really has the power to transform the continent and to stop corruption long term."

This article is intended to provide generalized information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always consult with your own financial, legal, tax, investment, or other professional for advice on matters that affect you and/or your business.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Starbucks says customers aren't changing their spending habits despite inflation

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 12:58pm
  • Starbucks customers are still buying higher-priced drinks despite inflation.
  • Other chains are reporting customers making swaps for cheaper options.
  • CEO Howard Schultz attributed the continued demand to popularity with Gen Z and a market for customized drinks. 

Inflation and rapidly growing grocery bills aren't keeping Starbucks customers from their lattes and shaken espressos, the company said.

Despite the state of the economy, it's "critically important," interim CEO Howard Schultz told investors in a third-quarter earnings call, "that you all understand we are not currently seeing any measurable reduction in customer spending or any evidence of customers trading down." 

Demand has remained strong despite price increases of about 5% over the last year, he said.

Schultz says he's aware that circumstances could change.

"We're not taking our success and current engagement with our customers in any way as an entitlement," he told investors in the August 2 call. If there is a more significant economic downturn and the company increased prices further, Starbucks would focus on providing discounts and value to rewards members.

Starbucks is unusual compared to other quick service chains in customers not downgrading to less expensive products. Peer companies are "shocked," and "stunned," Schultz said, that Starbucks customers aren't turning to other chains or trading down to cheaper options. He attributes this staying power to Starbucks' popularity with Gen Z customers, and the chain's "significant competitive advantage" in customizing drinks, specifically cold beverages. 

Other companies are reporting changes to customer behavior in response to inflation. McDonald's customers are paring down their orders, the company said in a second-quarter investor call.

The fast food giant said "we're seeing customers, particularly lower-income customers, trade down to value offerings and fewer combo meals," according to CFO Kevin Ozan. 

Low-income consumers have also decreased purchase frequency at Chipotle, though they don't make up the majority of Chipotle customers, CEO Brian Niccol said in July.

Inflation is changing consumer buying habits beyond fast food and grocery stores, too. Walmart said that inflation was hurting sales in non-food areas of the stores as customers slowed down spending to cope with grocery price increases. Prices in the food away from home category, which includes restaurants, are up 7.7% over last year according to the Consumer Price Index, and food overall is up 10.4%, meaning dining out is becoming relatively less expensive compared to cooking at home.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Scientists restored dead pigs' cell function and heartbeats, blurring the line between life and death

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 12:52pm
Pigs stand in a test farm of the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich in Oberschleissheim, Germany, where scientists are using genetic engineering to grow donor organs in pigs, on January 24, 2022.
  • Yale neuroscientists restored some cellular function, heartbeat, and blood flow in dead pigs, they said Wednesday.
  • The discovery shows that intervention can stop cells from dying and preserve organs after death.
  • The new technology could lead to more organs for transplant, and may someday help reverse death.

In a feat that blurs the boundary between life and death, researchers at Yale School of Medicine have restored some cell function in the organs of dead pigs. The achievement, which was published in Nature on Wednesday, ignites hopes for future medical breakthroughs that could save thousands of lives.

One hour after death, researchers connected pigs to a system of pumps, heaters, and fillers called OrganEx. By artificially flushing the pigs' organs with blood — a process called perfusion — they restored molecular and cellular function in the heart, brain, liver and kidneys.

The hearts even contracted to pump blood, indicating renewed electrical activity, and restored full blood circulation in the pigs' bodies. There was no sign of electrical activity in the brain. Still, the scientists say they've uncovered a previously unknown capacity for mammal cells to recover after blood has stopped flowing.

"Cells actually don't die as quickly as we assumed that they do, which basically opens up the possibility for intervention," Zvonimir Vrselja, a neuroscientist on the research team at Yale, said in a press briefing. "If properly intervened, we can maybe tell them not to die."

Unlocking that ability could allow clinicians to preserve more human organs for donation after death, reducing the transplant-organ shortage and saving thousands of lives. The new technology could also revolutionize life-support treatment. Some researchers said the discovery could even pave the way for bringing people back to life hours after death.

"Death is not an instantaneous event, but rather a gradual process, and we have gained a further tool to nudge it," Anders Sandberg, a neuroscientist at the University of Oxford Future of Humanity Institute, who was unaffiliated with the study, said in a statement.

The same research group previously developed a perfusion system called BrainEx. In 2019, that system restored some structure and function in the brains of dead pigs four hours after they'd been decapitated.

Death is more reversible than scientists thoughtRepresentative images of electrocardiogram tracings in the heart (top), immunostainings for albumin in the liver in organs perfused by ECMO, left, and OrganEx, right.

The OrganEx process could one day save people who die from drowning, heart attacks, massive bleeding from car accidents, or athletes who suddenly die from a heart defect, according to Dr. Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research at New York University Grossman School of Medicine, who was unaffiliated with the new study.

With the organ tissues preserved and cell death delayed, doctors would have time to unblock the artery that caused the heart attack, or repair the torn vessel that caused the patient to bleed out.

"Otherwise healthy people, including athletes who die, but in whom the cause of death is treatable at any given time, can potentially be brought back to life. And if the cause of death is not treatable, then their organs can be preserved to give life to thousands of people every year," Parnia said in a statement.

"Scientifically, death is a biological process that remains treatable and reversible for hours after it has occurred," he added.

Still, the Yale researchers cautioned against getting too excited about life after death.

"This is very far away from use in humans," Dr. David Andrijevic, a neuroscientist from the research team at Yale, said in the briefing, adding, "It doesn't restore all function in all organs."

Better organ preservation could save thousands of lives

Normally, when a heart stops beating and blood stops flowing, it causes other organs to swell. Blood vessels collapse and prevent new blood flow.

By preventing swelling and restoring full circulation, the new OrganEx technology could one day extend the window for salvaging organs from healthy people who have died. That would allow for more organ donations, potentially saving thousands of people who otherwise die on transplant waitlists.

This newfound capacity for restoring organ cell function could also lead researchers to more effective life support.

To sustain patients whose heart or lungs have stopped working, hospitals use a technique called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to flush blood through the dysfunctional organ, a process called perfusion. ECMO only slows the death of cells, and it often fails to fully saturate organs with blood, leaving some smaller blood vessels to collapse.

Medical staff in protective suits treat a COVID-19 patient on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment, in the Intensive Care Unit at Havelhoehe community hospital in Berlin, Germany, on December 6, 2021.

OrganEx is "like ECMO on steroids," said Dr. Nenad Sestan of the Yale neuroscience team, and in the new study it performed much better than ECMO. The organs showed signs of being fully flushed with blood and fully oxygenated, with less hemorrhage and inflammation. The researchers even observed patterns of gene expression in certain cells that indicated the tissues were repairing themselves.

These potential new abilities — preserving more organs for transplant, making more effective life support, and reviving people whose blood has stopped flowing — require much more research. They carry ethical implications, too.

"There is a challenging ethical issue in determining when radical life support is just futile, and as technology advances we may find more ways of keeping bodies alive, despite being unable to revive the person we actually care about. Much work remains to find criteria for when further treatment is futile, and also in how to get people back from the brink," Sandberg said.

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Jeff Bezos' megayacht was quietly towed from a Dutch shipyard after the company building it scrapped a request to dismantle a historic bridge to let it pass — watch the video

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 12:50pm
  • Bezos' yacht was moved from a Dutch shipyard before dawn Tuesday, likely to avoid local attention.
  • After public outcry from locals, it did not involve the dismantling of a historic bridge.
  • Watch Bezos' yacht make its journey.

Jeff Bezos' megayacht has quietly left the Dutch shipyard where it was built, sans a bridge dismantling and crowds of spectators.

The 417-foot vessel, known as Y721 and estimated to cost $500 million, has been under construction by the shipbuilding company Oceanco in a shipyard in Alblasserdam, Netherlands. It was towed to the Greenport shipyard in Rotterdam in the wee hours of the morning Tuesday, according to the German magazine Der Spiegel.

The controversy surrounding Bezos' yacht began in February, when Oceanco requested the city of Rotterdam dismantle the Koningshaven Bridge to allow the vessel to pass through the city. Known colloquially as De Hef, the beloved bridge is considered something of a landmark by locals. It's nearly 100 years old. Upon completion, the yacht will have three masts too tall for the bridge's clearance, which is about 131 feet.

Dutch residents were outraged and planned an event to throw eggs at Bezos' yacht if it required the bridge to be dismantled for its passage. Within days, Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said no decision had been made to dismantle the bridge and that Bezos or Oceanco might need to foot the bill if it happened.

Earlier this month, Oceanco withdrew its request for the dismantling after the public outcry.

Hanco Bol, a local yachting enthusiast from the yacht fan club Dutch Yachting, saw and recorded a video of Tuesday's relocation, which he posted on YouTube, Der Spiegel reported. He said preparations for the move started about 1 a.m. and the yacht departed at 3 a.m.

Bol speculated Oceanco "tried to keep the launch and transport under wraps" because the vessel took a route that was longer than necessary but avoided going through the city center and past the Koningshaven Bridge.

"We never saw a transport going that fast," he wrote in the caption of his YouTube video, adding that Bezos' yacht arrived at the Greenport shipyard three hours and 24 miles later.

On its voyage Tuesday morning, Bezos' yacht was towed without its masts, which will be installed later, Der Spiegel reported.

Watch the video of Bezos' yacht moving shipyards here:

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PayPal jumps 14% after the fintech launches a massive $15 billion stock buyback and receives the backing of Elliot Management

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 12:49pm
A sign is posted in front of PayPal headquarters on February 02, 2022 in San Jose, California.
  • PayPal stock surged as much as 14% on Wednesday after the fintech reported better-than-expected 2nd-quarter earnings.
  • PayPal management also announced the launch of a massive $15 billion stock buyback program.
  • PayPal entered an information sharing pact with activist investor Elliot Management after they took a $2 billions take in the payments processor.

From an earnings beat to an activist stake, a slew of good news sent shares of PayPal soaring as much as 14% on Wednesday.

The payments processor announced better-than-expected second-quarter earnings after the market close on Tuesday, as total payment volume grew 9% to $340 billion in the quarter.

Here were the key numbers:

Revenue: $6.8 billion, versus analyst estimates of $6.78 billion
Adjusted EPS: $0.93, versus analyst estimates of $0.86
FY 2022 EPS guidance: $3.87 to $3.97, versus analyst estimates of $3.85

"We continue to gain share as we execute across our key strategic initiatives, even as we drive operational efficiency across our business," PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said.

Those efficiencies hint at PayPal's quest to lower its operating costs, and the company said it expects to save $900 million in expenses this year, and $1.3 billion next year.

Those cost-savings are coming from PayPal's servicing, marketing, and engineering divisions. The cost cuts are one reason why PayPal decided to abandon its previously announced initiative of launching a stock trading feature on its app.

Also helping boost PayPal stock on Wednesday was the company's decision to launch a $15 billion share buyback program, which represents about 15% of the company's current $100 billion market cap. Stock repurchases in 2022 are expected to be $4 billion, of which the rest of the stock buybacks would spill over into next year and beyond. 

PayPal's more than 70% stock decline over the past year attracted the attention of activist investor Elliot Management, which now owns a $2 billion stake in the company and is one of its largest shareholders. Both Elliot and PayPal have entered an information sharing pact and are working together to create value for shareholders.

Bank of America, which rates PayPal at Neutral, offered the following comments in a Wednesday note on PayPal's earnings results and its agreement with Elliot.

"This year, 75-80% of FCF will now be allocated to buybacks, and PYPL is planning an Analyst Day in 1Q23 to discuss its medium-term capital deployment strategy, which we suspect could include the introduction of a dividend, given the strength of PYPL's FCF profile. We think PYPL has to be careful to not take their eye off the ball on growth as they partner with Elliott, particularly on the cost side. We believe M&A of any substantial size is likely off the table for the foreseeable future," BofA said.

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GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger says it's 'bad' for Trump that a grand jury investigating the Capitol riot subpoenaed his former White House counsel

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 12:41pm
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger said it's "probably bad" for Trump that his former White House counsel was subpoenaed by a grand jury.
  • Pat Cipollone is the highest-ranking Trump White House official to be called to testify in connection to the Capitol riot.
  • At least 2 grand juries are investigating events related to the riot, and it's unclear which one subpoenaed Cipollone.

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said Wednesday that former White House counsel Pat Cipollone being subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating the Capitol riot spells trouble for Donald Trump.

ABC News first reported on the subpoena Tuesday evening. At least two grand juries are investigating the events of January 6, 2021, according to The New York Times, and it's unclear which one subpoenaed Cipollone. He is the highest-ranking Trump White House official to be called in to testify in connection to the Capitol siege.

"Just generally, I'll say this is probably bad for former President Trump," Kinzinger, one of two Republican lawmakers on the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot, told CNN. If Cipollone "goes in front of the grand jury, it shows that this is more than, you know, what did John Eastman do, the attorney that basically came up with that crazy scheme to overturn the election."

Eastman is a GOP-aligned lawyer who concocted a dubious six-step plan that called for then-Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally overturn the results of the 2020 election — something he did not have the power to do. A federal judge in March referred to that plan as a "coup in search of a legal theory."

The former Chapman University law professor has been a person of interest to the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot since the memo's existence first came to light. And earlier this summer, federal agents seized Eastman's phone as part of the Justice Department's ongoing criminal probe of the January 6 attack.

Kinzinger on Wednesday told CNN that the Cipollone subpoena indicates the feds likely have a "deep interest" in Trump's own actions leading up to and on the day of the riot. But Cipollone's position as Trump's White House counsel could also present issues related to executive privilege, which Kinzinger alluded to.

"I think, you know, in terms of their negotiations, I think obviously the Justice Department knows better what they can, in essence, get around when it comes to saying executive privilege, and so I hope they go at that judiciously," the Illinois lawmaker told CNN.

"I hope Pat Cipollone actually just tells the truth," he added. "I have no doubt that he hasn't, but there's no reason to protect particularly criminal behavior, or what could potentially be criminal behavior behind executive privilege."

Kinzinger, who has criticized the pace of the department's probe, continued: "So we'll see where this goes, but there is no doubt that this investigation has developed further along than even where we knew it was or thought it was a few months ago."

—The Recount (@therecount) August 3, 2022

One of the two grand juries known to be investigating the siege is focused on the events of January 6, during which thousands of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election. The attack unfolded shortly after Trump held a rally in Washington, DC, calling for his supporters to "fight like hell" against Biden's win.

The other grand jury is said to be zeroing in on a dubious scheme by a number of Trump-aligned lawyers to create false slates of electors who were pledged to Trump in seven battleground states that Biden carried in the election.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Top House Democrat says she'll 'absolutely' support Biden if he runs in 2024 after saying that she 'doesn't believe' the president would seek reelection

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 12:22pm
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat
  • A top House Democrat walked back her claim that Biden won't run in 2024.
  • Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney said she would "absolutely" support Biden if he runs for reelection.
  • Maloney is locked in a tight primary battle with a fellow veteran Democratic lawmaker. 

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney walked back her claim on Wednesday that President Joe Biden wouldn't seek reelection in 2024, a move that came less than a day after the New York lawmaker raised concerns about Biden's political future.

"I will absolutely support President Biden, if he decides to run for re-election," Maloney wrote on Twitter. "Biden's leadership securing historic investments for healthcare, climate & economic justice prove once again why he is the strong and effective leader we need right now."

Maloney, a long-time lawmaker who has served in Congress for almost 30 years, raised eyebrows when she said during a debate Tuesday night that Biden would not seek reelection. Biden has repeatedly said it's his intention to run, but unlike former President Donald Trump he is for now returning to the tradition of presidents not formally announcing their run until after the midterm elections. 

"I don't believe he's running for reelection," Maloney said during a primary debate. 

Maloney, the chairwoman of the powerful House Oversight committee, is locked in a tough primary fight against fellow New York Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler after New York's districts were redrawn following the 2020 census. Like Maloney, Nadler is also the chair of a powerful House committee, the House Judiciary committee. The pair are facing off against two other hopefuls, including Suraj Patel, a 38-year-old attorney who narrowly lost to Maloney in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Nadler demurred when he was asked about Biden's future. According to CNN, Nadler said it was "too early to say" what Biden will do and said it does not benefit Democrats to be distracted by 2024 questions ahead of November's midterms.

Biden's political standing is the subject of intense speculation in Washington. The White House has reiterated his desire to run, but the president's age and low approval rating have fueled the possibility that the party may look elsewhere. Rep. Dean Phillips, a House Democrat who represents a much more competitive seat in Minnesota, recently expressed hope that Biden wouldn't run again. 

New Yorkers will decide Maloney's future later this month.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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