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Elon Musk is going to 'war' with Apple. Here's a look at the billionaire's years-long beef with the tech giant.

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 3:37pm
Tim Cook and Elon Musk
  • For the better part of a decade, Elon Musk has been taking digs at Apple and its CEO Tim Cook.
  • On Monday, Musk accused Apple of monopolizing the market and opposing free speech.
  • Here's a history of the beef between the Tesla CEO and the tech giant.
Elon Musk seemingly declared "war" on Apple in a since-deleted tweet.Elon Musk tweeted a meme seemingly declaring "war" on Apple. He has since deleted it.

The billionaire accused Apple of monopolizing the market and opposing free speech in a series of tweets.

"Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter," Musk tweeted on Monday. "Do they hate free speech in America?"

In a series of tweets, Musk accused Apple of being politically biased, called for Apple to publish all actions it has taken toward censorship, and asked his followers for support in his fight against the largest tech company in the world.

The Tesla CEO and "Chief Twit" later added that Apple had "threatened" to take Twitter off its App Store and "won't tell us why."

A spokesperson for Apple did not respond to a request for comment from Insider ahead of publication.

 

The story of Musk's beef with Apple dates back several years.

The first signs of Musk's one-sided beef with Apple came in 2015 when he joked that Apple employed Tesla's rejects.

"They have hired people we've fired," Musk told German newspaper Handelsblatt. "We always jokingly call Apple the 'Tesla Graveyard'. If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I'm not kidding."

In the interview with the news outlet, the Tesla CEO shrugged off reports that Apple was looking into making its own electric car and took a dig at some of Apple's latest products.

"Did you ever take a look at the Apple Watch?" Musk said. "No, seriously: It's good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches. You can't just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: Build me a car."

 

In 2016, Musk reportedly tried to take CEO Tim Cook's job.Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple CEO Tim Cook.

According to Tim Higgins' book "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century,"  Tim Cook had suggested that Apple acquire Tesla in 2016. 

At the time, Musk reportedly said he wanted to be CEO and Cook allegedly agreed, until Musk clarified that he wanted to be CEO of Apple — not just Tesla.

According to the book, which cited a source who had heard Musk's retelling of the exchange, Cook said "Fuck you" before hanging up the phone on Musk.

Both Musk and Apple have denied the reports, saying the two CEOs have never spoken. 

"There was a point where I requested to meet with Cook to talk about Apple buying Tesla," Musk said on Twitter when the book came out last year. "There were no conditions of acquisition proposed whatsoever. He refused to meet. Tesla was worth about 6% of today's value."

Four years ago, Musk said Apple's devices don't "blow people's minds" like they used to.Tim Cook visits an Apple store in New York City on September 16.

In a 2018 interview with Recode's Kara Swisher, Musk said Apple's products have grown stale.

"There's not many products you can buy that really make you happier," he said. "I still think, obviously, that Apple makes great phones. ... I still use an iPhone and everything. But Apple used to really bring out products that would blow people's minds, you know? And still make great products, but there's less of that."

Musk compared Apple to Tesla, saying Tesla planned to avoid Apple's pitfalls when it comes to consumer interest.

"I don't think people are necessarily running to the store for the iPhone 11," Musk said. "But I think with Tesla, we really want to make products that people just love, that are heart-stopping."

He doubled down his criticisms of Apple's technology in 2020.

In 2020, Musk criticized the iPhone's software while speaking at the Satellite 2020 conference.

"Technology does not automatically improve," Musk said. "People are used to the phone being better every year. I'm an iPhone user, but I think some of the recent software updates have been not great."

He continued to say that the software seemingly  "broke" his email system.

 

A key Apple executive deleted his Twitter account this month.Phil Schiller, former head of Apple marketing

Phil Schiller, the senior Apple executive who runs the company's App Store, deactivated his Twitter account in November, shortly after Musk reinstated Donald Trump's account, per Bloomberg.

Schiller had hundreds of thousands of followers on the site and had formerly served as the company's head of marketing, The Independent reported. His decision to delete his account spawned headlines and raised eyebrows across the industry.

Most recently, Musk has slammed the tech company for its App Store fees.Some Apple workers in Australia went on strike on Tuesday.

"Did you know Apple puts a secret 30% tax on everything you buy through the App Store?" Musk tweeted on Monday.

It was one of many times the billionaire has criticized Apple for its App Store fees.

In 2021, he called the fees a "de facto global tax on the Internet," and earlier this month, he tagged the Department of Justice's antitrust division in a criticism of the fees.

Now that he owns Twitter, Apple's fees could have an impact on Musk's business and his plans to generate revenue by charging users $8 per month for verification on the social media site. 

The tech company controls app distribution for the iPhone and iPad, and takes between 15% and 30% of most in-app purchases made on iOS apps. The company typically requires that developers use in-app payment systems, though it has slightly softened that requirement for certain apps like Netflix and Spotify.

 

Twitter and Apple have a longstanding relationship that Musk has seemingly torpedoed.Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Cook has yet to respond to Musk on Twitter, even though the Tesla CEO called out the Apple CEO directly on the social media site.

"What's going on here @tim_cook?" Musk tweeted on Monday, after saying Apple had stopped spending ad money on Twitter.

In the first quarter of this year, Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, accounting for 4% of the social media company's revenue, according to The Washington Post.

Up until Musk's takeover, Twitter and Apple appeared to enjoy a symbiotic relationship. Apple has frequently used the site for product announcements, and Apple even integrated tweets in its iOS operating system in 2011.

But Musk's recent actions might sour the relationship between the two companies. Ultimately Apple could decide to oust Twitter from its App Store over content moderation concerns.

In a op-ed with The New York Times, Yoel Roth, Twitter's former head of trust and safety, said that "the calls from the app review teams had already begun" when Musk's roll out of paid verification badges led to chaos, with users impersonating public figures and major companies.

 

But Musk doesn't seem afraid of the consequences of beefing with Apple.

Last week, Musk said he'd create his own smartphone if Apple booted Twitter of the App Store.

"I certainly hope it does not come to that, but, yes, if there is no other choice, I will make an alternative phone," Musk said on Twitter last week.

Tesla and Apple could also go head-to-head in the auto industry. For years, Apple has been said to be exploring the possibility of creating its own fully-autonomous electric car. The initiative, which is code-named Project Titan, appears to still be in its early phases.

In the past, Musk has said he doesn't see Apple as a threat to Tesla.

Apple is just one of many targets at which Musk has taken aim.Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The billionaire has been known to start his fair share of feuds on Twitter, and he's never appeared hesitant to speak his mind.

Most recently, Musk has publicly argued with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Stephen King on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Musk has personally called up CEOs of companies that have pulled ads from Twitter to complain, Financial Times reported on Sunday.

While Apple's business could be key to Twitter's success, Musk has shown he isn't afraid to ruffle a few feathers. 

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2024 presidential rivals and GOP leaders condemn Trump for dining with white supremacist Nick Fuentes

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 3:35pm
Former President Donald Trump.
  • Several top Republican officials have condemned Trump for meeting with white nationalist Nick Fuentes.
  • Trump recently had dinner with Fuentes and Ye, who has also made anti-Semitic comments.
  • Insider is keeping a running tally of top Republicans who condemn the former president.

Several GOP leaders, including some potential 2024 rivals, are explicitly condemning embattled former President Donald Trump for meeting with Nick Fuentes, who is widely known as a white supremacist and anti-Semite. 

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is eyeing a 2024 run, called on Trump to apologize for his actions. Even though Pence and Trump have a virtually non-existent relationship following January 6, Pence has sparingly criticized the former president.

"President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table. And I think he should apologize for it," Pence told News Nation host Leland Vittert on Monday.

Trump has claimed that he has no idea who Fuentes was. He has claimed that he tried to give advice to the rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, who was also at the dinner. Ye has made a number of antisemitic comments in recent months, which led multiple companies, including Adidas, to break ties with him. The trio had dinner at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort last week.

"Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, was asking me for advice concerning some of his difficulties, in particular having to do with his business. We also discussed, to a lesser extent, politics, where I told him he should definitely not run for President ...," Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social. Trump added that West "expressed no anti-Semitism" during the dinner.

Fuentes, a 24-year-old widely known as a white nationalist, has a long history of blatantly racist and anti-Semitic comments. Far-right Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona spoke at a conference of a Fuentes-founded organization prompting uproar among lawmakers. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called their attendance "unacceptable."

Here's the list of Republicans who have condemned Trump thus far:Former Vice President Mike Pence:

Trump's two-time former running mate turned 2024 rival said the former president made a terrible mistake here.

—NewsNation (@NewsNation) November 28, 2022

"President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table. And I think he should apologize for it," Pence told News Nation host Leland Vittert on Monday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky:

"There is no room in the Republican Party for anti-Semitism or white supremacy. And anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgement, are highly unlikely to ever be elected President of the United States," McConnell said at a press conference on Tuesday.

—Acyn (@Acyn) November 29, 2022Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican: 

"Well, that's just a bad idea on every level," Thune told NBC News. "I don't know who is—who's advising him on his staff, but I hope that whoever that person was got fired."

Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana:

"President Trump hosting racist antisemites for dinner encourages other racist antisemites,"  Cassidy wrote on Twitter. "These attitudes are immoral and should not be entertained. This is not the Republican Party."

—U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (@SenBillCassidy) November 28, 2022Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio:

"It was wrong & inappropriate to have that meeting, white supremacy has no place in our nation's culture & it's antithetical to anything we stand for as Americans," Portman told reporters, per NBC News. Portman is retiring and will be replaced by author JD Vance, Trump's hand-picked successor for the seat.

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel:

Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel did not mention Trump specifically while rejecting Fuentes' ideology. "As I had repeatedly said, white supremacy, neo-Nazism, hate speech and bigotry are disgusting and do not have a home in the Republican Party," she said in a prepared statement. 

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the current head of the Senate GOP's campaign arm:

Scott, who is reportedly eyeing a 2024 campaign, did not mention Trump directly. "There's no room in the Republican Party for white supremacist anti semitism, so it's wrong," Scott told reporters, per NBC News.

Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, the soon-to-be head of the Senate GOP's campaign arm:

Sen. Steve Daines, who will join the party's leadership, did not mention Trump specifically in his comments to reporters. "We cannot tolerate antisemitism, period," Daines said, per NBC News.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson: 

"I don't think it's a good idea for a leader that's setting an example for the country or the party to meet with [an] avowed racist or antisemite," Hutchinson told CNN on Sunday. Hutchinson, a two-term governor who will soon be leaving office. He has said he is "very seriously" considering a 2024 presidential campaign.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie:

"This is just another example of an awful lack of judgment from Donald Trump, which, combined with his past poor judgments, make him an untenable general election candidate for the Republican Party in 2024," the one-time Trump ally and likely 2024 presidential contender told The New York Times.

—Chris Christie (@GovChristie) November 26, 2022Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming: 

"First, @RepMTG and now, @realDonaldTrump hanging around with this anti-Semitic, pro-Putin, white supremacist. This isn't complicated. It's indefensible," Cheney, the top Republican on the House January 6 committee, wrote on Twitter. Cheney ran for re-election, but lost her Wyoming seat to attorney Harriet Hageman, a Trump-endorsed newcomer.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois:

"The brown shirts shouldn't intimidate you," Kinzinger, the only other Republican on the January 6 committee, wrote on Twitter. "They are all incels with no self esteem. Hey @GOPLeader, @RepMTG had spent some time with Nick here, how does that sit with you?  You cool with holocaust denial etc?  Probably right?" Kinzinger is retiring at the end of the current congressional session.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump claims Kanye West tricked him by bringing white supremacist Nick Fuentes to Mar-a-Lago dinner: report

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 3:29pm
Donald Trump and Kanye West walk into the lobby at Trump Tower, December 13, 2016 in New York City.
  • Trump's team has claimed that the rapper Ye tricked him by bringing a well-known white supremacist to Mar-a-Lago.
  • "Kanye punked Trump," one Trump adviser told NBC News of the dinner with Nick Fuentes.
  • Trump has been widely criticized after he dined with Ye and Fuentes last week.

Former President Donald Trump and some of his advisers have claimed that Kanye West, the rapper now known as Ye, tricked the former president into hosting white supremacist Nick Fuentes for dinner at Mar-a-Lago a week ago, according to a Tuesday NBC News report.

Sources close to Trump said Ye, who's recently made anti-Semitic comments and announced a 2024 presidential bid, helped stage the meeting to subject the ex-president to criticism shortly after he launched his own 2024 run.

The Trump campaign is now reviewing their processes to prevent someone like Fuentes from getting near Trump again, sources with knowledge of the discussions told NBC News. Trump himself was reportedly furious, suggesting that Ye had ambushed him. 

"He tried to f--- me. He's crazy. He can't beat me," Trump said, an unnamed confidant told NBC News.

"Trump was totally blindsided," that source added. "It was a setup."

"The master troll got trolled," one Trump adviser, who spoke anonymously, told NBC News. "Kanye punked Trump."

Since news of the November 22 meeting broke, prominent lawmakers in both major parties have condemned Trump for meeting with Fuentes, a well-known figure in white nationalist and anti-Semitic circles. Trump has defended himself against the attacks, claiming that he hadn't known who Fuentes was and did not invite him to Mar-a-Lago, but that Ye had brought him along.

NBC News reported that Ye showed up to Mar-a-Lago with Fuentes, Karen Giorno, a former Trump 2016 adviser, and a man Ye identified as a parent of a student at Donda Academy, the California private school he founded, which has closed for the school year after the rapper's recent anti-Semitic comments.

Upon their arrival, Giorno, who told NBC News that she accidentally became part of Ye's entourage after she drove him to Mar-a-Lago, said she tried to have Ye meet with Trump alone. But Trump, according to NBC News, had deferred to Ye, who insisted the whole group dine together.

Milo Yiannopoulos, a far-right commentator who's publicly criticized Trump, told NBC News that he had been the mastermind behind the meeting and arranged it "just to make Trump's life miserable." Yiannopoulos is working as a political adviser to Ye, NBC News reported.

Some of Trump's allies had warned him not to even meet with Ye, but Trump dismissed their advice, the outlet reported. One Trump adviser told NBC News that the former president said Ye's attendance at Mar-a-Lago "would be fun for the members."

A few Republicans have stood by Trump amid the backlash. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday denounced Fuentes, but repeated Trump's defense that the former president didn't know who the young man was. 

Spokespeople for Trump and Ye did not immediately return Insider's requests for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

China's military has been spending a lot more time working on how to forcefully capture an island, Pentagon says

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 3:20pm
The PLA Navy and the PLA Army conduct a cross-day and all-factor live-fire red-blue confrontation drill in Zhangzhou City, Fujian Province, China, Aug 24, 2022.
  • China's military has been increasingly practicing seizing islands, the Pentagon says. 
  • In a new report, the Pentagon assessed Beijing's island-capture training is becoming more realistic.
  • The US has accused China of engaging in aggressive behavior around Taiwan and in the South China Sea.

China's military is spending an increasing amount of time executing drills focused on taking islands by force, according to a new Department of Defense report. 

The report, which was made public by the Pentagon on Tuesday, outlines the latest Chinese military and security developments and aims to provide Congress with insight into Beijing's intentions and goals. As an extensive assessment of China's military might, the report outlines the threat that China poses to the self-ruled democratic island of Taiwan.

The Pentagon reported that China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) "intensified diplomatic, political, and military pressure" against Taiwan during 2021, increasing "provocative and destabilizing actions" around the region.

These actions included "island-seizure exercises" and flights that cross into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) — moves which Beijing has continued well into 2022.

As for last year, island-seizure exercises "became more frequent and realistic," the Department of Defense said, explaining that the PLA carried out more than 20 naval exercises that had some island-seizure element, compared to just 13 such exercises the previous year. These exercises and drills — some of which were carried out by the Chinese military in waters near Taiwan — have been previously touted on Chinese state media.  

"Many of these exercises focused on combat realism and featured night missions, training in adverse weather conditions, and simultaneous multi-domain operations," the Pentagon said in its report. Combat realism in training has been a focus of Chinese leader Xi Jinping's military modernization efforts, which are aimed at building a world-class force that can fight and win wars.

And Chinese leadership has never renounced the use of force as an option for achieving its unification goals with Taiwan, which China regards as part of its sovereign territory.

In specifically assessing potential military action that China could take against Taiwan, the Pentagon concluded that a massive amphibious invasion would be a tough feat for Beijing. Such an operation, which is among the more complicated to carry out, would require significant support, air and sea control, and enough supplies. Such an undertaking would significantly strain PLA forces, and there are substantial risks.

"Combined with inevitable force attrition, complexity of urban warfare, and potential insurgency, these factors make an amphibious invasion of Taiwan a significant political and military risk for Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, even assuming a successful landing and breakout," the Pentagon said.

The Department of Defense noted, however, that while China may struggle with a full-scale invasion of Taiwan, it is capable of seizing smaller Taiwan-controlled islands, such as Pratas or Itu Aba in the South China Sea. The Pentagon also said that an "invasion of a medium-sized, better-defended island such as Matsu or Kinmen is within the PLA's capabilities."

Such a move would demonstrate capability and resolve while showing restraint, the Pentagon said, but there are still political risks, such as strong international condemnation.

In addition to Beijing's longstanding focus on Taiwan, China also holds competing claims to islands and reefs in the South China Sea, where China has been building military outposts and strengthening its position.

The US has accused China of increasingly aggressive behavior around the South China Sea, with US officials previously warning that China's "irresponsible behavior" could trigger a "major incident or accident." The most recent warnings came amid a period of heightened tensions between China and the US over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan.  

Earlier this month, Vice President Kamala Harris made a rare trip to a South China Sea hotspot, specifically the Philippine island of Palawan, which overlooks contested areas in the strategic waterway. China's response was more restrained though than it was when Pelosi visited Taiwan.

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Elon Musk is the head of 5 companies that need strong leadership. Instead, he's starting Twitter wars.

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 3:16pm
Elon Musk has said how busy he is since taking over Twitter. Yet he still finds time to tweet jokes.
  • Elon Musk has made headlines for his recent tweets, which include posts about guns and Apple
  • Critics say the Twitter CEO's use of the platform could further endanger the struggling company.
  • Despite his fame and wealth, Musk is still answerable to lenders, advertisers, and employees.  

In business, optics matter — especially when you're a new CEO. 

That's a reality Elon Musk might benefit from understanding, especially on the heels of his aggressive takeover of Twitter and the layoffs he ordered, the growing competition facing Tesla, and setbacks at Boring Co., Musk's venture created to dig traffic-busting tunnels. There's also been discord at SpaceX, the rocket company Musk operates. 

The Swiss Army knife of CEOs has said how limited his time is since taking the helm at Twitter. "I have too much work on my plate that is for sure," Musk said in a video conference on the sidelines of the G20 summit in November.

Yet the top of the org chart at five companies still finds time to tweet about how he keeps two guns by his bedside, the flavors of Thanksgiving food, and that Apple CEO Tim Cook "hates" free speech. Musk even tweeted an image featuring Pepe the frog, an all-purpose hate meme and symbol of antisemitism. 

Even busy CEOs need downtime, but Musk's musings in 280 characters further risk Twitter's future, putting employees and advertisers on edge. Despite his cult following, Musk is still answerable to lenders, advertisers, and even employees. Many workers and shareholders are demanding business leaders speak out on social issues, not push memes. If Musk wants to rekindle morale among those remaining Twitter employees who agree with his "hardcore" approach — and repair advertiser relations at a company with paltry ad revenue — he might be wise to take a break from some of the tweeting.

But don't bet on it

Nick Bilton, the author of "Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal," told Vox that Musk's social-media celebrity is "one thousand percent" hurting his ability to run Twitter. 

"His biggest problem right now is not necessarily what he's doing to the company," Bilton said. "His personal biggest problem is his Twitter account."

Compare Musk's recent tweets and actions with those of other top CEOs: Disney's Bob Iger is back in the top job after several years away, and he's deep in town-hall meetings and talking about company values on calls. Apple's Tim Cook is expressing gratitude for his employees and grappling with iPhone shortages, and he recently tweeted support for this month's  Transgender Day of Remembrance. Mary Barra, who runs General Motors, is sharing her insights on electric vehicles as she seeks to retool the 114-year-old company by shifting away from gas-powered cars and trucks. 

In an article titled "Good Luck Getting Elon Musk to Stop Tweeting," the Wired journalist Steven Levy wrote that Musk's apparent "addiction" to Twitter, which includes insulting people on the platform, endangers his own turnaround plan for the company.

"Let's put aside whether or not Musk is doing a good job at fixing Twitter," Levy wrote. "What possible justification could there be to incite powerful people with stupid drive-by insults? It's not like Musk is making salient points, exposing flawed reasoning, or providing valid information. He's just wisecracking unwisely, with total disregard for the consequences." 

In a story for New York Magazine, Kevin Dugan wrote that Musk is unlikely to change his ways anytime soon.  

"Spend enough time getting sucked into the micro-dramas of Twitter and someone will eventually tell you to go touch grass — log off," Dugan wrote after Musk took Twitter private. "It's now been a week since Elon Musk has taken over Twitter, and one thing that's clear about his reign is that he will never, ever touch grass." 

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The best extended Cyber Monday gaming laptop deals you can still snag right now

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 3:10pm

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Several popular gaming laptops are still on sale after Cyber Monday.

Though we thought the deal festivities ended with Cyber Monday, tech retailers like Dell, Best Buy, and HP are still going strong with gaming laptop discounts.

Gaming laptops combine amazing computer performance with portability. Although gaming models tend to be chunkier than other laptops, they're still compact enough to take to class, a friend's house, or even the office.

Here are the best Cyber Monday deals on gaming laptops still kicking after the event.

Cyber Monday gaming laptop deals: Top discounts still availableBest Cyber Monday gaming laptop deals still available

 

What are the most important specs to look out for when buying a gaming laptop on Cyber Monday?

The most obvious thing that sets gaming laptops apart from other models is the graphics card, also called the GPU. The best gaming laptops feature top-of-the-line GPUs, which is what lets them run new games with the best visuals possible.

Most gaming laptops have an Nvidia RTX graphics card, which is the best brand around. And the higher the number after "RTX," the better — the newest version is the RTX 4090, but most gaming laptops stop at RTX 3070, which is still pretty amazing.

But if the laptop you're looking at says it has "Intel Integrated Graphics," don't buy it for gaming — Intel Integrated is pretty much the most barebones graphics type you can find.

Aside from the GPU, you should be looking for the same key specs that you'd look for in any laptop: A sizable SSD, a fast CPU, and a quality screen.

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Patagonia is suing Gap, claiming the retailer copied its fleece pullover and is hoping to trick shoppers into thinking it's a collab

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 3:09pm
Gap's Arctic Fleece pullover, left, and Patagonia's Snap-T Fleece pullover, right.
  • Patagonia filed a lawsuit against Gap, claiming that Gap copied the clothing brand's snap-front fleece pullover.
  • The suit says that Gap's product could fool shoppers into thinking it's a Patagonia collaboration.
  • Gap's product listing says the fleece was "pulled from our archive and redesigned for today."

Patagonia is suing Gap, claiming the rival retailer ripped off the design of one of Patagonia's most well-known products.

The outdoors retailer says Gap's Arctic Fleece pullover for men and kids uses "look-a-like" design elements of Patagonia's Snap-T Fleece. The similarities could confuse shoppers, who may think the fleece is part of a collaboration with Patagonia, the company claimed in a suit filed this month in US District Court in Northern California. 

The filing claims that Gap intentionally copied several elements of Patagonia's fleece, including the piping on the collar, cuffs, and waist; the snap pocket and matching snap placket rendered in contrasting colors to the fleece; and the rectangular logo placed above the pocket.

Gap's logo also bears a striking resemblance to Patagonia's mountain-range logo, Patagonia says. 

"Not all consumers will 'zoom in,' either at point of sale or post-sale," Patagonia's suit reads. "And even if consumers do zoom in, they are likely to believe this is one of Gap's many collaborations." 

A close-up of the front pocket of Gap's fleece, left, and the front pocket of Patagonia's fleece, right.

Patagonia introduced the Snap-T Fleece in 1985, and by the late 1990s, several other brands were using fleece in their products, including L.L. Bean, Lands' End, and Gap, according to The New York Times. The product description for Gap's fleece pullover says that the product was "pulled from our archive and redesigned for today," and though it's unclear when Gap's Arctic Fleece line was introduced, similar Gap products from the '80s and '90s are available to buy now on resale sites like Depop and Grailed

Patagonia said in its suit that it had previously warned Gap that its designs violated Patagonia's trade dress, or the look and feel of a product, and that "its adoption of designs and logos bearing even more similarity cannot have occurred by accident." 

Patagonia has requested a trial and is demanding the Gap hand over its entire inventory of fleeces and as well as profits from its sales of the product, plus damages. 

A spokesperson for Gap told Insider that the company doesn't comment on pending litigation. 

Patagonia's suit comes amid a challenging time for Gap, which is dealing with a surplus of inventory — the result of both disrupted supply chains and a shift in consumer demand — and the demise of its partnership with Kanye West's Yeezy. Gap pulled Yeezy products from its stores in October, and the company said during its third-quarter earnings this month that it sustained a $53 million write-down related to Yeezy Gap merchandise. 

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The S&P 500 will be flat and have no earnings growth in 2023, even in a soft-landing scenario with 1% GDP gain, Goldman Sachs strategist says

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 3:06pm
Goldman Sachs' chief US equity strategist David Kostin.
  • Goldman Sachs' chief US equity strategist expects a soft landing with the US economy growing about 1% next year. 
  • But the S&P 500 will still end up about flat in 2023, David Kostin told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday. 
  • In addition, companies in the S&P 500 will see no earnings growth next year, he added. 

The US economy will grow at roughly a 1% clip next year as it makes a soft landing, according to Goldman Sachs' chief US equity strategist. 

But even in this relatively optimistic scenario, David Kostin told Bloomberg TV the S&P 500 will decline roughly 10% before rebounding to end up at around 4,000, which is about where it is today.

"In that scenario you have no earnings growth. That's an optimistic scenario if you will, and you have stable kind of valuation," Kostin said.

In a hard landing scenario, he added, S&P 500 earnings would decline roughly 11%, equating to $200 per share next year, against Goldman's baseline of $224. The hard-landing scenario would also see the S&P 500 decline by 20%. 

"Think about that as your downside, maybe 20% lower. Again that's a scenario, not a baseline, but a scenario as opposed to a market falling maybe 10% to 2,600 before ultimately rallying back to 4,000," he said. 

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank analysts published a note on Monday that predicted a mild recession in 2023 with the S&P 500 rallying to 4,500 in the first half of next year, then selling off by more than 25% in the third quarter, before rebounding back to 4,500 by the end of 2023.

Deutsche Bank also sees earnings per share among S&P 500 companies falling to $195 in 2023 from $222 in 2022. 

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Nick Fuentes is well known as a white supremacist and anti-semite. That hasn't stopped Trump and at least 5 GOP lawmakers from associating with him since 2017.

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 3:02pm
America First Foundation leader and white nationalist Nick Fuentes; former President Donald Trump; Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia; Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona
  • White nationalist Nick Fuentes has associated with several MAGA stars who claim they don't know him.
  • Fuentes has spent time with Donald Trump, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, among others.
  • GOP leaders like Kevin McCarthy and Mitt Romney have urged others to stay away from Fuentes. 

Conservative firebrand Nick Fuentes has had dinner with, posed for pictures alongside, and welcomed on stage at least a half dozen Republicans since becoming a star of the white nationalist movement

Interactions with the America First Foundation leader have also prompted GOP politicians  to deny knowing who Fuentes is and what he stands for. Embattled former President Donald Trump is currently trying to distance himself from Fuentes following a Thanksgiving holiday sit-down at Mar-a-Lago that included the rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West.

The Anti-Defamation League describes Fuentes as a white supremacist, anti-semite, and 2020 election-denier "who seeks to forge a white nationalist alternative to the mainstream GOP." Fuentes, who has been similarly decried by the Department of Justice and Simon Wiesenthal Center, also founded the far-right America First Political Action Conference in 2020 as an alternative to the Conservative Political Action Conference.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow aired footage compiled by the Right Wing Watch project that shows Fuentes calling for a dictatorship to "force the people to believe what we believe."

"The white people got to make the right decision, and then Trump's got to get in there and never leave," Fuentes said. "It's time to shut up, elect Trump one more time and then stop having elections."

—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 29, 2022

Trump's meeting last week with Fuentes blindsided Trump's 2024 campaign staff and rattled GOP leaders

"I don't think it's a good idea for a leader that's setting an example for the country or the party to meet with [an] avowed racist or antisemite," outgoing Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told CNN on Sunday.  

Here are the elected officials who've taken heat for entering Fuentes' orbit. 

Former President Donald TrumpFormer US President Donald Trump speaks during an event at his Mar-a-Lago home on November 15, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida.

"He gets me," Trump reportedly said Tuesday as Fuentes flattered the former president's 2016 campaign and his in-your-face messaging. 

A Stop the Steal rally attendee who's been subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the deadly siege at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, Fuentes also told Trump that he was part of the otherwise unflappable MAGA base that's disappointed by Trump's inaction on behalf of the insurrectionists charged in the riot

Trump, who has floated pardoning Capitol rioters if he's elected again, blamed the standoffishness on advisors pushing him to be more "presidential," Axios reported. 

Since then, Trump has sought to downplay the radioactive encounter, writing on his social media platform Truth Social that he "didn't know Nick Fuentes." 

The attempted damage control hasn't satisfied Republicans who want the party to rid itself of the polarizing former president once and for all. 

"It's incumbent upon the Republican establishment, what's left of it, to stamp this kind of element from within the GOP once and for all," former Rep. Charlie Dent told CNN over the weekend. 

One-time Trump ally and possible 2024 presidential contender Chris Christie said the Fuentes meeting should be disqualifying. "This is just another example of an awful lack of judgment from Donald Trump, which, combined with his past poor judgments, make him an untenable general election candidate for the Republican Party in 2024," the former governor of New Jersey said on Friday.

Rep. Paul GosarRepublican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona speaks to reporters about his Fire Fauci bill during a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Tuesday, June 15, 2021.

The Arizona Republican has been heavily criticized for mingling with Fuentes. 

Gosar spoke at an America First PAC event in 2021, denied being involved in a planned 2021 fundraiser that upset GOP leaders, and then sent a prerecorded message to a 2022 AFPAC event that was later blamed on a "miscommunication" with his congressional staff. 

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah called Gosar and fellow AFPAC participant Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia "morons" for getting involved with Fuentes. "There's no place in either political party for this white nationalism or racism," the 2012 GOP presidential nominee told CNN in February, adding, "It's simply wrong."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy chastised Gosar for the 2022 incident, calling it "appalling and wrong." 

"The party should not be associated any time any place with somebody who is anti-Semitic," McCarthy said earlier this year. 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor GreeneRepublican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia speaks during an outdoor news conference on Capitol Hill September 20, 2022 in Washington, DC.

The far-right conspiracy theorist from Georgia claimed she knew nothing about Fuentes or his views when she decided to speak at the AFPAC conference in February 2022. 

"I'm not aligned with anything that may be controversial," Greene told CBS News in an interview a day after the conference. She attended the event to "address his very large following," describing them as "very young."

"It's a generation I'm extremely concerned about," she said. "I went to talk to them about America First policies and I talked to them about what's important for our country going forward."

When a reporter said Fuentes is a white nationalist, Greene responded, "I do not endorse those views."

Last week, Greene on Twitter appeared to address Fuentes' concerns about the January 6 defendants, saying anyone who claims Trump is doing nothing for them "is either lying, clueless, or wants to hurt him."

"I've been to a lot of rallies this year and I've heard him say he will pardon J6 defendants multiple times," tweeted Greene, who has visited the accused rioters in jail. "I have not heard any other potential 2024 presidential candidate say that yet."

Former Rep. Steve KingRepublican Rep. Steve King of Iowa testifies during a House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on September 26, 2017 in Washington, DC.

The polarizing Iowa Republican had already been punished for espousing white supremacist rhetoric before finding his way to Fuentes. 

McCarthy stripped King of his committee assignments in 2019 following a troubling interview with The New York Times. 

King, who lost his 2020 reelection bid after years of questionable behavior, said he felt like he was being targeted by a "political lynch mob." 

King spoke at AFPAC's 2021 gathering and posed for a picture with Fuentes, Gosar, and other attendees. 

Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachinIdaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin speaks with a supporter at a campaign event at a grocery store on March 19, 2022 in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

McGeachin made a video appearance at the AFPAC 2022 in February and thanked those in attendance for "joining our efforts." 

When later confronted about her appearance by a Boise news reporter, she said she didn't know Fuentes and never met him. She also blamed the media.

"The mainstream media, you do this to conservatives all the time, but you don't do it to yourself," she told a KTVB7 reporter. "That every time, any time there's any kind of affiliation with anybody at any time on any stage, that we are all guilty by association. And it's not, it's not appropriate."

The reporter later asked whether McGeachin would have said "yes" to the group if she had known who Fuentes was.

"Well, again, this movement is so much bigger than one individual. Who cares what Nick Fuentes has to say? Who cares?" she said. "There's thousands and thousands of young conservatives all across the country that are very concerned about what's happening to our country."

In a statement responding to calls for her resignation, McGeachin called "America First" policies "vital," but also said she doesn't support identity politics or other discriminatory views.

McGeachin, Idaho's first female lieutenant governor, was backed by Trump and beaten decisively in her primary challenge against the incumbent Gov. Brad Little. It was the first time since 1938 that a sitting governor had been challenged by a lieutenant governor of the same party, according to the Idaho Press. 

McGeachin, who made "election integrity" part of her platform, is now facing scrutiny for issuing partisan messages in her official state office newsletter, at taxpayer expense, ahead of the November elections.

Arizona state Sen. Wendy RogersWendy Rogers in September 2018

Rogers embraced Fuentes during her AFPAC speech as someone she truly respects, calling him the "most persecuted man in America."

"Nick, and the other patriots in attendance at AFPAC: please keep doing what you're doing," she said. "I admire you, and I so appreciate how you never give up. We need more strong Americans like you."

Rogers later posted an image of herself on her Gab and Telegram accounts, pictured with Fuentes and Gab founder Andrew Torba behind a dead rhinoceros branded with the Conservative Political Action Conference logo and a Jewish Star of David.

The Arizona Senate censured her for violent rhetoric, but did not address anti-Semitism or white nationalism in its motion, Insider's Bryan Metzger reported.

Rogers, who was endorsed by Trump, won reelection in November after prevailing against a GOP primary opponent who made Rogers' ties to Fuentes a key issue.

State Sen. Kelly Townsend, an ultra conservative who challenged Rogers, told Insider that she  was "horrified" after watching a compilation video about Fuentes and she pleaded with Rogers to denounce him. Townsend also criticized Trump.

"If he's unwilling to speak out against Nick Fuentes, then why would I want an endorsement from somebody who can't do that?" she told Insider.

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How Ulta Beauty won Black Friday despite its site crashing on the critical shopping holiday

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 3:00pm
Ulta Beauty's stores saw gains in foot traffic on Black Friday 2022 even as it was lower at other retailers, including Walmart, Target, and TJ Maxx.
  • Beauty retailer Ulta saw its foot traffic from shoppers increase on Black Friday over last year.
  • Most chains, including Walmart and Target, saw fewer shoppers visit their stores, per Placer.ai.
  • Demand for beauty and wellness products has been reliable despite inflation and COVID.

Most stores saw fewer visits from shoppers this Black Friday. One cosmetics retail was the exception.

Foot traffic at Ulta Beauty was up 16.5% over Black Friday 2021, according to data provider Placer.ai. Visits to Ulta were also up 31% over Black Friday 2019, before the pandemic began. 

By contrast, most retailers saw their foot traffic remain the same or decrease slightly over last year's Black Friday, according to Placer.ai. Traffic decreased by 5.3% at Walmart and 2% at Target. At TJ Maxx, one of the largest off-price retailers, traffic was even with Black Friday 2021.

Stagnant or declining Black Friday foot traffic suggests that it is losing importance as a shopping event as retailers start holiday sales earlier in the season, said Ethan Chernofsky, vice president of marketing at Placer.ai. But beauty, health, and wellness products like those sold at Ulta are among the items that can still draw customers to physical stores, Chernofsky said.

Like other retailers, Ulta started offering discounts online and in-store early in the week instead of waiting until Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Piper Sandler analyst Korinne Wolfmeyer wrote in a Monday research note. 

Yet the chain's stores, including the fragrance section, still attracted Black Friday shoppers, she added.

"Despite nearly identical deals offered online and all week, people still wanted to be there physically on Black Friday," Wolfmeyer wrote.

Unfortunately for the brand, shopping in person on Black Friday was consumers' only choice for much of the day. According to Crain's Chicago Business, Ulta's website was down at the start of the Black Friday holiday.

A customer looks at products from Pattern, a hair care brand founded by actress Tracee Ellis Ross, at an Ulta store.Beauty retailers have thrived in 2022, even as COVID, inflation, and a degrading economy have challenged others

Several factors likely helped drive customers to Ulta and other beauty retailers last Friday, Chernofsky said. 

After roughly two years of COVID restrictions, many people are returning to offices, conferences, and other in-person occasions where wearing makeup makes sense, he told Insider.

Many consumers are still interested in health and wellness products, he added. For instance, Ulta, Sephora, and other beauty retailers have become destinations for new skincare products.

A worsening economy might have also contributed. Shoppers have historically turned to cosmetics as an affordable luxury when they need to cut back on spending, a phenomenon known as the lipstick index. 

But Chernofsky said that Ulta's Black Friday performance is just the latest example of how the company, and beauty sales as a whole, has become resilient no matter the economic backdrop.

At the start of 2022, consumers were challenged by a winter surge in COVID cases, he said. Then, as COVID restrictions eased later in the year, persistent inflation spurred some consumers to cut back on nonessential spending.

All the while, Ulta and Sephora were "among the best performers in all of retail," Chernofsky said.

Ulta beat analysts' expectations for its earnings. The company's stock also hit a record high of $461 a share during intra-day trading on Monday, Crain's Chicago Business reported. Ulta's stock is up roughly 8% so far in 2022.

"I don't know that there's been a more volatile environment than what we've seen in the last year," Chernofsky said. "If anyone's strengths have enabled them to succeed, even in this difficult environment, health and beauty has become one of the prime examples."

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China's 'iPhone city' is lifting its lockdown after a wave of protests over the strict policy

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 2:57pm
Foxconn employees take shuttle buses to head home on October 30, 2022 in Zhengzhou, Henan Province of China.
  • China is loosening its COVID-19 controls in Zhengzhou, home to Apple's largest iPhone factory.
  • The changes end a five-day lockdown in the city.
  • Factory workers have been protesting against China's strict pandemic restrictions amid an Omicron surge.

China's "iPhone city" is ending its strict lockdown.

Zhengzhou, a city in east-central China that is home to Apple's largest iPhone factory, Foxconn, is lifting its lockdown policy after five days, Bloomberg first reported, citing a WeChat post from the local government.

The changes go into effect November 30, local time, according to the announcement.

No new infections have been found for five days in a row, according to a translation of the announcement, and the status of the city has been reduced to a low-risk zone.

Businesses can open to the public and resume activity in an orderly manner, according to the announcement, though they must continue to follow existing health protocols.

People living outside of "high-risk areas" that don't have social activities don't have to get tested if they don't have to travel, like the elderly who live at home, or students and people who work from home, according to the government's post.

The city made the announcement hours after officials in China said they would avoid strict restrictions, Bloomberg reports, after protests erupted in cities across the country against President Xi Jinping's zero-COVID policy.

The lockdown came amid the current outbreak of cases of the Omicron variant which is highly transmissible. Social media videos appeared to show hundreds of workers at Zhengzhou's Foxconn factory clashing with security guards over COVID-19 restrictions at the factory.

Protests against China's zero-COVID policy have spread throughout the country to cities like Shanghai, Xinjiang, Beijing, and Nanjing, after 10 people died in an apartment fire. 

The protests threatened to impact Apple's iPhone output, with Bloomberg reporting that there could be a production shortage of almost six million iPhone Pros this year as a result.

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Apple has seen $165 billion in market value erased in less than a week as investors grow concerned about building iPhone shortages due to China Covid protests

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 2:55pm
Xi Jinping and Tim Cook
  • Apple is facing growing iPhone shortages due to protests in China over the government's zero-COVID lockdown policies.
  • The company has seen $165 billion in market value erased since last week on concerns of weak holiday sales.
  • Wedbush analyst Dan Ives estimated that Apple could see a 10% decline in iPhone unit sales this quarter.

Apple has seen its market value decline by $165 billion since last Wednesday as investors grow concerned about ongoing iPhone shortages and the impact on the company's typically strong holiday earnings results.

Apple has faced shortages of its iPhone 14 Pro models in recent weeks, but the lack of iPhone supply has grown even more pronounced amid protests in China against the government's zero-COVID lockdown policies.

China is still pursuing a zero-COVID policy, in which just a few reported infections could trigger a complete lockdown of an entire city. Meanwhile, the country has yet to roll out COVID-19 vaccines that are as effective as those from Pfizer and Moderna.

In October, a COVID outbreak at a Foxconn iPhone assembly plant in Zhengzhou led to many employees abandoning the "iPhone city" to avoid the stringent lockdown procedures. Last week, violent protests erupted at the Foxconn iPhone factory due to the stringent lockdown policies.

Now, civil unrest and protests against the COVID lockdown policies are spreading across the country, with a recent apartment fire that killed 10 people escalating public outcry against the government, as blame was pinned on the restrictive COVID policies. 

The situation in China is bearish for Apple as it limits its ability to capitalize on what has historically been its strongest quarter of the year. Scheduled delivery times for all versions of its popular iPhone 14 Pro model are pushed out until after Christmas, on December 28, according to its website. Its less-expensive iPhone 14 models currently show immediate availability.

Apple is "extremely limited in their options," according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives, as it relies heavily on China to manufacture a bulk of its devices. Ives estimated that the protests in China could reduce Apple's iPhone unit sales this quarter by as much as 10%. According to a Bloomberg report, it could lead to a shortfall of 6 million iPhone pro units.

"The zero China COVID policy has been an absolute gut punch to Apple's supply chain with the Foxconn protests in Zhengzhou a black eye for both Apple and Foxconn. The reality is Apple is... at the mercy of China's zero Covid policy which remains a very frustrating situation," Ives said. "Now is the painful waiting game to see what ramped production looks like over the next week for Apple to ease some iPhone shortages that are building globally."

But a ramp in iPhone production hinges on both a de-escalation in the protests in China, as well as a reduction in COVID-19 cases, and that seems increasingly difficult, according to Goldman Sachs.

"Local governments struggle to balance quickly bringing the spread of the virus under control and obeying the '20 measures' which mandate a more targeted approach. The central government may soon need to choose between more lockdowns and more Covid outbreaks," Goldman Sachs' Hui Shan wrote in a Sunday note.

And Apple may not be able to exit its tenuous relationship with China anytime soon, even when considering its recent moves to diversify manufacturing to other countries like Vietnam and India. In a note from earlier this month, Bank of America said it will take many years for Apple to diversify a significant amount of its manufacturing exposure away from China.

"We do not expect a rapid decoupling from China anytime soon. In our opinion, there has to be a significantly higher focus on System on Chip and more modular design/automated assembly, which we do not expect will happen quickly. The presence of a significant part of the supplier base in China also increases the complexity of shifting away from China," BofA said. 

While Wedbush maintains its "Outperform" rating and $200 price target, Bank of America takes a more cautious approach with a "Neutral" rating and a $154 price target. Apple stock fell more than 2% to $140.66 on Tuesday.

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Kevin McCarthy says Democrats could select the next speaker if Republicans 'play games' on the House floor

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 2:50pm
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.
  • McCarthy said Republicans could cede control of the House in January if they aren't unified.
  • While on Newsmax, the Californian warned against the GOP playing "games" on the House floor.
  • McCarthy is working to round up votes among GOP members that he'll need to lead the lower chamber.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Monday warned fellow Republicans opposed to his potential speakership that Democrats could select the next speaker if the party doesn't stick together, as the California lawmaker continues his effort to round up the requisite votes needed to lead the lower chamber in January.

During an interview on the Newsmax program "Spicer & Co." featuring former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and journalist Lyndsay Keith, McCarthy said Republicans would have to be unified in setting their legislative agenda in order to successfully counter the policies of President Joe Biden.

"We have to speak as one voice. We will only be successful if we work together, or we'll lose individually. This is very fragile — that we are the only stopgap for this Biden administration. And if we don't do this right, the Democrats can take the majority. If we play games on the floor, the Democrats could end up picking who the speaker is," he said.

In the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans vastly underperformed most expectations, with the party flipping the House from Democrats but poised to hold a razor-thin 222-213 majority next year, with nearly every race called. While Republicans had expected to potentially pick up dozens of seats, their candidates sputtered in many swing districts and the control of the House wasn't officially decided until days after the November 8 general election.

While McCarthy earlier this month won a vote against conservative Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona (188-31) to lead the House Republican Conference, the GOP leader must also win majority support on the House floor when the new Congress reconvenes in January.

Republicans only have a handful of votes over the 218-vote threshold needed to control the House, and at the moment, there are five Republicans who said they will not back his speakership. That group includes Biggs, Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Bob Good of Virginia, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, and Matt Rosendale of Montana. All of the potential floor holdouts are a part of the conservative Freedom Caucus, whose members sometimes gave major headaches to the last two GOP speakers — former Reps. John Boehner of Ohio and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Democrats, on the other hand, are poised to bring on a new slate of leaders, with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York set to succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California as House Democratic leader. Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Pete Aguilar of California are likely to round up the top House Democratic leadership posts within the party.

Over the past few weeks, several conservatives have said that backing McCarthy is imperative. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia cautioned against a handful of Republicans potentially joining Democrats in selecting a more moderate speaker.

McCarthy, during the Newsmax interview, emphasized that addressing the concerns of every member of the House Republican Conference would be critical with such a thin majority.

"You have to listen to everybody in the conference, because five people on any side can stop anything when you're in the majority. When you look at the past history, when Paul Ryan ran, he had more people vote against him in the conference and then they voted for him on the floor," he said.

"We've got five more weeks. We're working through our conference rules today. We want to make sure that everybody has input. I think at the end of the day, calmer heads will prevail. We'll work together to find the best path forward," McCarthy added.

While 218 votes are required to control the House, a speaker can be elected with fewer votes, as "present" votes and vacancies can also lower the threshold needed to secure the position.

In a recent interview with The Bulwark, GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who's retiring at the end of the current congressional session, predicted that the party would have "a totally nonfunctional majority" in January.

"When there's a 15, 20 person majority, it takes a lot of people to deny the future Speaker his votes. But when it's just like three, four, five you can find it," Kinzinger said.

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Recession predictions are too complacent, and there isn't enough evidence that a coming downturn will be short and shallow, Mohamed El-Erian says

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 2:44pm
Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economic Advisor of Allianz and Former Chairman of President Obama's Global Development Council, speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills
  • There's not enough evidence an incoming recession will be short and shallow, Mohamed El-Erian warned.
  • El-Erian noted that mild recession calls were similar to the ways people dismissed rising inflation last year.
  • "I hope we don't end up in a recession, but if we do, there isn't enough evidence to suggest it's short and shallow."

Predictions for a coming recession are too complacent, and there's isn't enough evidence that a coming downturn will be short and shallow, top economist Mohamed El-Erian warned.

"People are rushing to say, 'don't worry. If we end up in a recession it will be short and shallow.' I say keep an open mind," the chief economic advisor of Allianz said in an interview with CNBC on Monday. 

El-Erian pointed to the similarities between calls for a mild recession and the insistence from some observers, including the Federal Reserve, that rising inflation was a "transitory" phenomenon. That description has since been retired by the Fed officials, and inflation reached a 41-year-high in June amid what critics have said was a slow policy response by the central bank. El-Erian suggested the current views on a recession may be making a similar mistake.

"I hope we don't end up in a recession, but if we do, there isn't enough evidence to suggest it's short and shallow," El-Erian warned.

Other experts though have pointed that strong economic fundamentals could bolster the US against a painful downturn. Despite the Fed's aggressive rate hikes, the labor market is still strong and household and private sector balance sheets remain on solid footing. Some economists, such as Wharton Professor Jeremy Siegel, noted that inflation often lags behind the official statistics, meaning high prices are likely already well under the reported figures. 

But strong fundamentals aren't necessarily "deterministic," El-Erian said. In an op-ed for the Financial Times on Monday, he warned that the insistence that a downturn would be mild was in response to "unsettling" economic conditions. He recently warned that the US was already headed into a stagflation problem, predicting that inflation would get stuck around 4% due to ongoing supply-chain issues and changes in globalization of the economy. US bonds are also showing signs of dysfunction, which could create stability issues in the financial system and spur "unsettling volatility," he added.

While he believes a recession was not unavoidable and wouldn't be as bad as 2008, he urged markets to prepare for a number of possible scenarios. 

"Scenario planning for a wider range of possible outcomes is hard work and takes time, and much of it will eventually prove redundant. Betting on a shaky consensus forecast, however, could prove much more damaging," he said.

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Investor sentiment towards Tesla is deteriorating amid Elon Musk's Twitter drama, Morgan Stanley says

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 2:26pm
Elon Musk.
  • Investor sentiment towards Tesla is on the decline as CEO Elon Musk runs Twitter, according to Morgan Stanley.
  • Analyst Adam Jonas surveyed investors and found that most respondents believe Tesla's price decline could be attributed to the Twitter fiasco.
  • "We see a window of buying opportunity near our $150 bear case," he said.

Elon Musk's ongoing Twitter drama has been a drag for Tesla's stock price, and it could expose the electric vehicle maker to further risks, Morgan Stanley said in a note on Monday.

Musk has been making controversial decisions since his takeover of Twitter last month, with a back-and-forth series of firings and hirings, in addition to allowing controversial figures back on the social media platform. Most recently, Musk has picked a fight with Apple over its App Store fees and the iPhone maker's decision to pause most of its ad spending on Twitter.

Morgan Stanley equity analyst Adam Jonas surveyed investors about the ongoing Twitter drama and its potential impact on Tesla's stock price as well as its underlying business.

"Our investor survey reinforces our views that Elon Musk's recent involvement with Twitter has contributed to negative sentiment momentum in Tesla shares and could drive some degree of adverse downside skew to Tesla fundamentals," Jonas wrote.

Nearly 75% of survey respondents believe the Twitter situation accounted for a significant portion of Tesla's recent share price underperformance, according to the note.

Tesla's slump has been notable since Musk closed the Twitter deal in late October, with the stock falling 25% and losing $150 billion in market value, compared to the S&P 500 being up 3%.

Perhaps even more concerning from the survey is that about 65% of respondents said the Twitter fiasco "will have negative or slightly negative impact on Tesla's business going forward."

The potential downside risks to Tesla exposed by Musk's focus on Twitter include consumer sentiment/demand, commercial partnerships, government relations/support, and capital markets support, according to the note.

"While difficult to quantify, we believe there must be some form of sentiment 'circuit breaker' around the Twitter situation to calm investor concerns around Tesla," Jonas wrote.

But despite the negative investor sentiment towards Tesla due to Musk's involvement in Twitter, Morgan Stanley thinks the stock is still a buy. "We see a window of buying opportunity near our $150 bear case."

Jonas maintains an "Overweight" rating and $330 price target for Tesla, representing potential upside of 83% from current levels.

"In a slowing economic environment, we believe Tesla's 'gap to competition' can potentially widen, particularly as EV prices pivot from inflationary to deflationary," he said.

Jonas also highlighted the company's rare ability to generate profits before incentives on the sale of EVs, and its "unique position" to secure the supply of battery metals necessary to produce EVs at multimillion-unit scale. 

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Elon Musk calls on all Twitter designers, engineers doing software to sit on his floor of HQ for 'dense and intense' work

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 2:25pm
Elon Musk has axed thousands of jobs at Twitter.
  • Elon Musk sent another unexpected directive to Twitter employees.
  • Anyone working on software projects is to now sit on his floor of Twitter HQ, according to an email.
  • Musk has taken to closely directing and monitoring engineering since taking over Twitter.  

Elon Musk on Tuesday suddenly called for everyone at Twitter working on design or software to come to his floor.

"Anyone writing software or doing design (in the Bay Area) should be on the 10th floor of SF HQ.
It is intended to be dense and intense. Thanks, Elon."

Although the brief email did not say so explicitly, it refers to seating at Twitter's offices in San Francisco, according to a person familiar with the company. Musk now works from the 10th floor and is asking that all remaining design and engineering employees at Twitter working on software or related projects to start working daily from the floor as well. The change is expected to happen immediately, the person said, and came without warning.

Twitter employees who have so far made it through a mass layoff, a mass resignation and spates of firings have come to expect "out of the blue" demanding emails from Musk, an employee said. "Another day, another email," another employee said.

The mass resignation of two weeks ago was in response to one such overnight email from Musk, giving everyone in the company about two days to click a sign-up link that would consider them having agreed to work on his "extremely hardcore" Twitter 2.0.      

Musk, who is Twitter's CEO since taking over the company a month ago, oversees Twitter's engineering and software organization closely. He has demanded that Twitter employees work from the office full-time, reversing a policy put in place by co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey allowing anyone to work remotely full-time. Many engineers who still work at Twitter had already moved their desk space to the 10th floor in recent days, another person familiar said.

Musk is said to frequently walk the floor now, observing employees at work and occasionally asking questions about what they're working on, one of the people familiar said. His son with the singer Grimes, X Æ A-12, is said to often be in the office as well, including on Monday, the person noted.

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Adidas considered its relationship with Kanye West a risk as early as 2018, new reports show. Here's the nine-year timeline of Adidas and Yeezy's turbulent partnership.

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 2:20pm
In 2013, Adidas announced a partnership with Kanye West, now known as Ye.
  • Adidas announced an endorsement deal with Kanye West in November 2013. 
  • By 2019, Adidas sales of his Yeezy brand eclipsed $1 billion annually. 
  • In October, in the wake of antisemitic comments, Adidas ended the partnership. 

In November 2013, Adidas sales in North America, the most critical territory for sportswear sales, were down 1% for the year. Across the company, sales were flat. 

The company had just five shoes on the influential Complex list of best 50 sneakers of 2013. Industry leader Nike had 30 shoes on the list and had just reported an 8% annual sales increase.

But that same month, Adidas announced a partnership with Kanye West, the polarizing musician and fashion designer, now known as Ye. 

Three years later, Adidas reported an 18% annual sales increase, more than doubling Nike's fiscal-year percentage gain. Yahoo Finance named Adidas Sports Business of the Year, citing a string of hot products, including the NMD, Ultra Boost, and West's Yeezy, and the company's ability to capitalize on a consumer shift away from performance products to more casual athleticwear. 

While analysts debated West's role in the company's resurgence, Mark King, who was the president of the North America division at the time, gave credit to the artist.

"I think Kanye definitely helped make the brand cool again," he told Yahoo Finance in 2016. "But I think, had it only been Kanye, it would have gone up and gone down very quickly."

By 2019 West had started referring to himself as "Ye" — legally changing his name to it in 2021 — and Adidas sales of Yeezy products had surpassed $1 billion for the first time. But Ye's relationship with Adidas had also started to deteriorate.

In a 2018 interview with TMZ, Ye said slavery "sounds like a choice," prompting Adidas' CEO, Kasper Rorsted, to defend him on CNBC. More criticism followed after Ye wore a "Make America Great Again" hat on "Saturday Night Live" and met with then President Donald Trump in the Oval Office. 

Despite the turbulence, Adidas Yeezy sales continued to grow. In February 2021, the financial-services company UBS projected sales would hit $2 billion for the year and would continue climbing, according to an internal document viewed by Insider. 

But Ye's partnership ultimately ended last month after the artist made repeated antisemitic comments. Adidas cut ties with him on October 25 and said it would immediately bring the Yeezy business to a halt, with the company expecting its bottom line to take a $247 million hit for the year. 

"Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech," the company said. "Ye's recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company's values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.

David Swartz, a Morningstar analyst, called the end of the deal significant but said that the long-term impact on the brand is less clear, given Adidas owns its Yeezy designs and the company remains more of a sportswear than a streetwear brand. He noted that for Adidas and its competitors, China remains a bigger problem than any single endorsement deal because Western brands are falling out of favor with Chinese consumers.

Analysts expect Nike to get a short-term boost, given its dominance of the market for hyped sneakers. 

"If all of a sudden that customer who was buying a couple pairs of Yeezys every year now finds themselves with a few 100 extra dollars in their budget every year, the most likely direction they're going to go with that money is Nike: the Jordans and the Dunks," Tom Nikic, a Wedbush analyst, previously told Insider.

But Adidas could already be positioning itself to reignite its popularity with the most influential sneaker collectors.

Earlier this month, Adidas confirmed speculation and named the former Puma CEO Bjørn Gulden the next CEO of Adidas. Among Gulden's accomplishments at Puma: building the brand's credibility with celebrities ranging like Rihanna and Jay-Z.

"We think this is one of the best hires they could make," Nikic wrote in a note to investors.

Below is a timeline of Ye's relationship with Adidas.

2013The musician and fashion designer Kanye West, now known as Ye.

Adidas and Kanye West announced their partnership in November 2013 after West said he severed his deal with Nike because the company refused to pay him royalties on Yeezy sales. West appeared to break the news of his new deal with Adidas on a New York City radio station.

"Nike told me, 'We can't give you royalties because you're not a professional athlete,'" West said on Hot 97. "I told them, 'I'll go to the Garden and play one-on-no-one.' I'm a performance athlete."

Adidas ended 2013 with North American sales down 1%. 

2014Nike Air Yeezy 2 "Red October" sneakers debuted in February 2014 to much fanfare.

Anticipation started to build for the debut of West's first sneaker with Adidas. Despite rumors of a potential summer or fall launch, the shoe, later known as the Yeezy 750, would not be released until 2015.

Nike, however, shocked sneakerheads everywhere by quietly dropping its final collaboration sneaker with the rapper — the Nike Air Yeezy 2 "Red October" — in February 2014. The $245 shoes sold out in just 11 minutes, according to the Portland Business Journal. The sneakers, which were bright red and featured a strap on top, resell in most sizes on StockX and Goat for over $15,000 a pair. 

2015Kanye West's first Adidas collaboration sneaker, the Yeezy Boost 750, debuted in 2015.

After much anticipation, West and Adidas released their first collaboration sneaker — the Yeezy Boost 750 in February 2015. The Yeezy 750 featured a suede upper, mid-foot strap, and full zipper running up the back heel.

2015 also marked the debut of the Yeezy 350 model in multiple colorways, including the infamous "Turtle Dove" sneaker. The 350 shoes featured both Adidas Primeknit woven technology on the upper part of the shoe and Boost, an extra layer meant to add comfort to the midsole.

Overall, 2015 was a great year for West. Footwear News named the Yeezy Boost 350 shoe of the year, and he was named one of Time magazine's most influential people. He brought much-needed hype to Adidas' original sneakers like the Ultraboost

In 2015, Adidas would launch its Confirmed app for sneakerheads to get the latest hype sneakers from the brand.

2016After early success, West struck a new deal with Adidas in 2016.

As the popularity of West's Yeezy line grew, Adidas struck a new deal with the rapper and designer to run through 2026. Adidas would describe the deal as the "most significant partnership between a non-athlete and a sports brand."

For its efforts, Adidas in December was named sports business of the year by Yahoo Finance after the company reversed a streak of US market-share losses. In addition to Yeezy, Adidas had found success with the Ultraboost and NMD sneaker models. Both were popular with fans because of their comfort and modern look.

2017The Yeezy 700 "Wave Runner" was a stark contrast from earlier sneaker models dropped by West and Adidas.

Yeezy dropped the "Wave Runner" 700, a chunky, multicolor sneaker, for a retail price of $300 in the summer of 2017. The shoe, which implemented Adidas's new Boost technology, became one of the most popular Yeezys ever released thanks to its "dad shoe" silhouette. 

Adidas also officially passed Nike's Jordan brand and became the No. 2 sneaker brand by market share, according to NPD Group. Nike, the industry leader, remained at No. 1.

Meanwhile, in a sign of his faith in Adidas, West gifted his then wife, Kim Kardashian, $200,000 of Adidas stock for Christmas.

2018West met with President Donald Trump in 2018.

In May, West said slavery "sounds like a choice" during an interview with TMZ. While West had always pushed the envelope with his music and other projects, this was the first time Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted had to justify the company's relationship with the artist.

"Kanye has helped us have a great comeback in the US," Rorsted said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "There is no doubt the Yeezy brand has a fundamental impact on our overall brand."

Ye also visited President Trump at the White House in a "Make America Great Again" hat and partially credited him for his move to Adidas. "You gave me the heart to go to Adidas. This Adidas thing made me a billionaire," West said.

2019Steven Smith and West at an event in New York City in 2019.

With the popularity of Yeezys climbing, the company's first annual "Yeezy Day" ignited a frenzy on social media. Many sneakerheads ended the day frustrated about not getting their favorite hyped pairs. West would publicly call out Adidas three years later for creating Yeezy Day without his approval.

Adidas Yeezy sales topped $1 billion for the first time in 2019, hitting $1.3 billion

The success of the Yeezy line prompts West to want to take his relationship with the brand to the next level by becoming its creative director

Thanks largely to the Adidas partnership, West went from $53 million in debt in 2016 to earning $150 million (pretax) roughly three years later. 

2020Ye held a rally for his 2020 presidential bid in North Charleston, South Carolina, in July 2020.

Adidas sold nearly $1.7 billion in Yeezy products in 2020. 

In September, West asked for a seat on Adidas' board of directors and said he'd wear Jordans until it happened

Ye also announced on Independence Day that he would run for president. Federal Election Commission documents filed by the celebrity in October showed he valued his three businesses, Yeezy LLC, Yeezy Apparel LLC, and Yeezy Footwear LLC, at $50 million each.

West also disclosed that his financial relationship with Adidas is worth between about $25 million and $50 million, but reports indicated he was making well over $100 million a year just off royalties from Adidas.

2021An Adidas Yeezy "Foam Runner."

By the end of 2021, Adidas North American sales jumped 17% to $5.1 billion. The company's Yeezy line remained its most-hyped product in a celebrity lineup that included Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams, and as of March, Bad Bunny. 

West, who officially changed his name to Ye in 2021, was also involved in a notable legal battle involving his Yeezy "Foam Runner" design.

The "Foam Runner" debuted unexpectedly in summer 2020 and quickly became a must-have casual-footwear item. Similar to the Yeezy Slide, the "Foam Runner" became popular for resellers looking to flip Yeezys, as both sold for under $90 retail and could go for double or triple the price on secondary markets.

Ye would sue Walmart in June for selling knockoff versions of the shoe priced at around $20 to $30. Both parties later settled for an undisclosed amount.

June 2022An Adidas Yeezy slide.

Ye accused Rorsted of ripping off his Yeezy Slide design to create the company's Adilette slide. The rapper later took to social media to call them "a fake Yeezy" and demand Rorsted speak with him. 

"I'm not standing for this blatant copying no more," he said on Instagram. "To all sneaker culture To every ball player rapper or even if you work at the store This is for everyone who wants to express themselves but feel they can't cause they'll loose their contract or be called crazy."

September 2022In September, Ye mocked former Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted (pictured).

Ye's feud with Adidas and Rorsted escalated, with Ye mocking Rorsted after the executive announced plans to retire at the end of 2022. The rapper and designer posted a fake New York Times cover story on his Instagram, with the headline "Kasper Rorsted also dead at 60."  

Soon after, Ye told a Bloomberg reporter he planned to end his existing corporate partnerships and "go it alone." Days later, Ye ended his deal with Gap.

October 2022Ye in Los Angeles on October 14, 2022, shortly before Adidas terminated his contract.

Adidas announced its relationship with Kanye West was under review after a series of public comments the rapper made against the company. 

Ye also sparked outrage after he wore a "White Lives Matter" T-shirt on October 3 during Paris Fashion Week. Days later, Twitter and Instagram closed Ye's accounts after he posted antisemitic remarks.

As Adidas began to face mounting public pressure to drop Ye, the rapper told hosts of the "Drink Champs" podcast, "The thing about me and Adidas is like, I can literally say antisemitic s**t, and they can't drop me. I can say antisemitic things, and Adidas can't drop me. Now what? Now what?"

Adidas had explicit ties to Germany's Nazi party in the past. The German sportswear giant would eventually terminate its deal with Ye on October 25, saying it "does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech." The meeting in which Adidas executives decided to cut ties with Ye lasted just two minutes, Bloomberg reported.

In a statement, Adidas said it expected its bottom line to take a $247 million hit for the year. It also pulled remaining Yeezy products from shelves. Retailers, including Foot Locker, also pulled Yeezy products per Adidas' request.

November 1-11New Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden.

On November 8, Adidas confirmed in a statement that its new CEO will be Bjørn Gulden, a former top executive at Puma. Gulden is known for his work with celebrities like Rihanna and Jay-Z, but he'll have his work cut out for him, given Adidas' unique challenges in the wake of the Ye split.

On November 9, Adidas announced quarterly earnings and halved its earnings forecast for the year, citing the end of the Yeezy partnership and continuing challenges in China. The company also reiterated it owns the designs to all products it created in partnership with Ye and that it plans to potentially release more in 2023

That same day, Rolling Stone published a sweeping look at the Yeezy business and described it as a toxic workplace. "His anger at us in everyday interactions was just inappropriate, and honestly an HR nightmare," the report quotes an Adidas Yeezy designer as saying. The report also noted that Ye allegedly said "skinheads and Nazis were his greatest inspiration," according to a former employee.

November 12-19, 2022Kanye West arriving at the Balenciaga show for Paris Fashion Week in October.

On November 12, comedian Dave Chappelle began his monologue on SNL by reading a statement. "I denounce antisemitism in all its forms and I stand with my friends in the Jewish community." He added: "And that, Kanye, is how you buy yourself some time." Chappelle, who has faced his own share of controversies, is now facing backlash for his comments on the show.

A week later, in the wake of Balenciaga, Adidas, and Gap cutting ties with him, Ye told the celebrity news site X17 that he's selling hoodies from the companies for $20. In a tour of his Los Angeles workshop, he also said he's running for president in 2024, and introduced Milo Yiannopoulos as his campaign manager. 

Ye previously ran for president in 2020, but he only hosted a single campaign rally and attracted 70,000 votes.

November 20-29, 2022

In a video shared on Twitter on Thanksgiving morning, Ye promoted his 2024 presidential run and claimed Adidas sued him for $275 million. 

Three days later, the Wall Street Journal reported that back in 2018 the Adidas executive board heard a presentation about the risks of being associated with Ye. Adidas employees having "direct exposure" to Ye was considered a risk. At the time, Adidas considered spinning out the Yeezy brand as a stand-alone business or buying the brand from Ye. 

The Journal also reported that in September 2022 Adidas offered Ye the ability to sell Yeezy footwear directly, as well as ownership of future designs and a portion of sales from similar products. The offer would have extended Ye's deal with Adidas through 2026. Ye didn't accept the terms and asked for $3 billion just weeks before he wore the controversial "White Lives Matter" T-shirt.

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

DeSantis praises Chinese protesters for 'finally speaking out' against 'draconian' COVID-19 lockdowns

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 2:13pm
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives a victory speech after defeating Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rep. Charlie Crist during his election night watch party at the Tampa Convention Center on November 8, 2022 in Tampa, Florida.
  • Mass protests have emerged in China over strict COVID-19 lockdowns after 10 people died in a fire.
  • DeSantis praised the protestors and said COVID lockdowns belong in the "ash heap of history." 
  • DeSantis blocked vaccine mandates and pushed school reopenings. 

Republican Gov. Ron Desantis of Florida praised Chinese protestors on Tuesday who have been taking to the streets in revolt against monthslong COVID-19 lockdowns that have bound millions of people into their homes.

"The people of China are right to be able to speak out and protest against what the Chinese Communist Party is doing," DeSantis said as he kicked off a press conference on an unrelated topic in Jacksonville, Florida.

Demonstrations broke out over the weekend across major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Wuhan following an apartment fire in Urumqi that resulted in the death of 10 people. In some cities, protesters have called for the removal of President Xi Jinping.

The protests were over China's strict "zero-COVID" policy that involves mass, repeated testing and locking down large cities over extended periods during infection surges over the last three years. Most other countries have returned to normal as they work to live with the virus. 

Chinese protestors held up blank, white pieces of paper above their heads to protest against the zero COVID policies. The blank sheet of paper has become a symbol of defiance against the ruling Communist party in China.

DeSantis on Tuesday took aim at China's government, saying its policies were about controlling its citizens. "This CCP has a maniacal desire to exert total control over its population," he said. "Zero COVID is just a pretext for them to do what they want to do anyways. That is not a model that can work over the long term. The people of China are finally speaking out against it." 

He called China's COVID policies "draconian" and said lockdowns belong in the "ash heap of history." 

"It violates people's liberties and is completely unscientific," he said. 

DeSantis made a national name for himself by resisting federal public health guidance on COVID. Instead, he reopened schools before most states, blocked businesses from forcing customers to proved they'd been vaccinated, and blocked schools from forcing students to wear masks. 

While he received widespread criticism at the time, most states have followed Florida to significantly relax their COVID-19 rules, particularly now that vaccines are widely available. Floridians appear to have backed DeSantis' pandemic approach, with voters handing DeSantis a nearly 20-point victory margin for reelection on November 8.

The White House has also weighed in on the protests in China, predicting that zero COVID policy would be ineffective. China has reported a far lower death toll than the US — 30,000 compared to 1 million — though it's not clear how effective the strategy will be in the long term, and its economy has suffered. 

"Our message to peaceful protesters around the world is the same and consistent," John Kirby, spokesman for President Joe Biden administration's National Security Council, said Monday. "People should be allowed the right to assemble and to peacefully protest policies or laws or dictates that they take issue with." 

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Entrepreneurs are tapping freelancers amid the labor shortage. Here are 7 of the top trending searches on Fiverr where freelancers make between $25 and $10,000 per project.

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 2:09pm
Jennifer Shealey, a digital-marketing entrepreneur, promotes her services on Fiverr.
  • Entrepreneurs and major companies are tapping freelancers for help amid a labor shortage.
  • Meanwhile, business owners can earn substantial revenues by advertising their offerings. 
  • Here are seven of the top trending searches globally across Fiverr, from NFT art to 3D modeling.

Both small-business owners and major companies are tapping freelancers for help amid a labor shortage that's enduring even as some companies trim workers.

The trend has some local governments considering further protections for freelancers. City Council member Keith Powers introduced legislation in November that would safeguard contract workers in New York City, where one third of the workforce was freelancing in 2019, the last year data was reported. That number has likely increased over the last year as more people have left traditional jobs to become solopreneurs, Powers told AMNY. 

Freelance platforms like Fiverr and Upwork showcase a wide array of specialists who operate as contractors, freelancers, or gig workers, making it easy for employers who are looking for skilled talent. Meanwhile, business owners can earn substantial revenue by advertising their offerings. 

Jennifer Shealey, a digital-marketing entrepreneur who promotes her services on Fiverr, has taken advantage of this trend and specifically targets founders who need help, she said. She's found success on the platform, tapping the more than 4.2 million active buyers as of June for her digital-marketing services. 

Her customers are, "either a solopreneur or starting a company and have to play a lot of roles," Shealey said. "They just don't have the time and they need someone to fulfill those roles."

For entrepreneurs who are curious about which freelance services are gaining popularity, here are seven of the top trending searches globally across Fiverr between October 2021 and March 2022. What's more, Insider included advice for starting a freelance business in these categories. 

Digital-marketing servicesJennifer Shealey.

Many entrepreneurs turn to Fiverr freelancers for help prompting their businesses through strategies like Facebook and Instagram marketing, paid ads, and SEO to attract customers to their pages. 

In fact, searches for "Google ads adwords'' and "pay-per-click campaigns'' increased by 193% between October 2021 and March 2022, according to Fiverr's most recent quarterly report

Shealey started offering Facebook-ad services on Fiverr in 2014 for $5 per project. Today, her prices range from $15 to $125 per project and she's booked $480,000 in total revenue, which Insider verified with documentation.

She started by learning crucial terms and skills — like marketing funnels and lead-capture pages — and suggests other entrepreneurs study the same processes. 

Shealey is also a proponent of looking forward when determining which services to offer instead of being reactive to the market. For example, since e-commerce continues to grow, she's adjusting her services to match the need of her clients. That means offering more digital image-and-design services, she said. 

Web developmentAJ Camara, a web designer and the founder of Acquired Aesthetic.

Customer searches for "logistic website" increased by 268% between October 2021 and March 2022, according to Fiverr's quarterly report.

The increased demand for website development has allowed AJ Camara, who joined Fiverr in 2020 after launching a creative agency a year earlier, to find a consistent customer flow. 

He initially offered both website development and business branding on the platform, but has since shifted to focus on web services because that's what most Fiverr customers are looking for, he said. He suggested other sellers look at their analytics and most-common requests to determine the services they should prioritize. 

"This is something that I can offer for similar quality that you would find at an agency, but on the Fiverr platform."

That high quality of work has helped him garner enough positive reviews to receive a five-star rating on the platform. What's more, he's booked more than $200,000 in total sales, documents verified by Insider showed.

Advertising-video productionKit McCall.

Demand for promotional-video advertising increased by 453% between October 2021 and March 2022, according to Fiverr. Through the pandemic, Fiverr sellers like Kit McCall have found success by offering unique video-production services when other in-person tasks are suspended. 

For example, sellers launched video-advertising packages — a choice of 15-, 30-, or 60-second videos — created solely from stock footage.

His basic-service prices range between $395 to $1,800 per project. But he also advises production freelancers to sell their services a la carte, meaning there should be a baseline price depending on the length of the video, with additional fees for voice-over, script writing, or expedited completion, he said. 

McCall booked $74,000 in sales for production services last year, which Insider verified with documentation, thanks to a wide range of clients including Google and small businesses.

His best pieces of advice for someone looking to become a freelance producer are to start out by offering cheaper services to build your portfolio and to constantly communicate with any customers you bring in. "Communication and delivering a quality product really will pay off," he said.

Social-media-content managementCathy Hernandez is a cofounder of Agency Social.

Demand for social-media-content managers increased by 361% between October 2021 and March 2022, according to Fiverr. 

Cathy Hernandez and her husband John founded their business, Agency Social, in 2014 and used Fiverr to gain clients. They offer a range of social-media services such as management, content creation, blog writing, social-media audits, and content calendars. More recently, they've incorporated NFT creation and Web3 into their marketing services. Rates start at $10 for a voiceover and go as high as $10,000 for business consulting. 

Agency Social doesn't have employees, but outsources some tasks to other freelancers and independent contractors on Fiverr. The cofounders earned $93,137 in sales on Fiverr in 2021, which Insider verified with documentation. 

At first, Hernandez set low prices for her services. "I literally made a video for $5 because I just wanted to get on the board," she said, referring to building a reputation on the platform.

Over time, she gained more reviews, built up her credibility, and raised her prices. While her corporate clients include the apparel brand Columbia Sportswear and the software company SAP, Agency Social mostly serves small businesses and entrepreneurs who need help navigating social media. 

"They don't understand it, but they know that they have to get in the game," Hernandez said.

3D modeling and CADDani Prado is an interior designer and organizer.

Demand for 3D and CAD, or computer-aided design, modeling increased by 297% between October 2021 and March 2022, according to Fiverr. 

Dani Prado, an interior designer, founded her business Go! Organizer and started freelancing on Fiverr in 2020. She finds all of her clients through the platform, where she earned $36,454 in sales last year, Insider verified with documentation.

Prado creates design plans, mood boards, and shopping lists for people who want to redesign their homes. She often uses 2D and 3D modeling to walk her clients through each room she designs for them. 

"This tool helps my clients to better understand the layout, the position of the furniture, the decor accents, and to visualize how it will be in their homes," Prado said. 

Her rates start at $150 and go up to $690 per project. One way she attracts more business is by offering clients a 5% or 10% discount when they purchase more than one room design. 

"Normally clients that are looking to decorate their home are not just looking for one room," she said. "They want to do two or three rooms."

NFT artJose Fernando Rico Mercado.

Demand for NFT artists grew by 3,504% between October 2021 and March 2022, according to Fiverr. 

Jose Fernando Rico Mercado previously told Insider that COVID-19 curtailed demand for his notebook-printing side hustle, so he began selling digital artwork for people to mint and sell as NFTs. He joined Fiverr to tap into the demand for NFT art and increased his prices over time.

"The first set of artworks we sold for around $2,000," he previously told Insider. "Every time I sold another one, I raised the price by $1,000. It went to around $6,000." 

Now, he charges $10,000 per project. 

Cathy Hernandez, the social-media manager, doesn't have to be an NFT artist to take advantage of the format's popularity. She offers NFT-art creation in conjunction with her marketing services and hires artists on Fiverr to create the pieces for advertising or funding campaigns. 

"Most people don't realize that the technology behind the NFT graphic, which is the art that everybody recognizes, is really where the marketing power comes in," she said, adding that it's an effective way to form a fan base. "You can have people buy into your NFT and then a portion of what you raise goes to support related programs."

Crypto servicesCarlos Vazquez.

Carlos Vazquez tapped into the growing community of crypto traders when expanding his services on Fiverr: Searches for "crypto whitepaper," "crypto logo," and "crypto promotion" increased by 248%, 185%, and 174% respectively, between October 2021 and March 2022, according to Fiverr. 

Vazquez was originally a marketing expert but transitioned into crypto-specific marketing in 2020 to tap the growing number of crypto traders, he said. Last year, he booked $37,000 in sales, which Insider verified with documentation.

Vazquez provides two types of services: One is building back-end systems for businesses that want to start collecting cryptocurrency as payment. The second is marketing crypto coins as the product itself.

The latter service, which makes up more of his business, requires Vazquez to create crypto-specific marketing funnels to bring traders to coins he's hired to tout. 

To become a provider in the space, Vazquez said one of the most important steps is learning about coding and blockchain technologies. 

"Not many people know how to deploy a token or deploy a contract," he said. "If you understand how these contracts work, how these blockchain contracts work, that's something that's needed right now."

Additionally, he emphasized the importance of familiarizing yourself with crypto communities and building trust. 

"You have to know what your customers want," he said. "Because if you don't, your marketing campaigns are not going to reach them."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Disney is in an animation slump after 'Strange World' and 'Lightyear' flopped. Bob Iger may have the magic touch to turn it around.

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 2:08pm
Searcher Clade in "Strange World."
  • Disney's "Lightyear" and "Strange World" have flopped at the box office this year.
  • Analysts says it's a combination of the movies themselves and potential consumer confusion.
  • They're optimistic about Bob Iger's return to the company, though.

Disney has been a dominant force in animation for decades, but it's now facing a rare slump in the genre with two back-to-back box-office misfires.

Its latest animated movie, "Strange World," opened over the Thanksgiving weekend with $18 million over the five-day holiday in the US. It's earned a total of $28 million worldwide.

That's a lackluster start for a movie that cost $120 million make, according to IMDb Pro. Variety reported that it could lose at least $100 million in its theatrical run.

Earlier this year, Disney released "Lightyear," the first Pixar movie since the pandemic to debut exclusively in theaters after the prior three — "Luca," "Soul," and "Turning Red" — premiered on Disney+. "Lightyear" flopped, earning a total of $226 million worldwide ($118 million in the US) on a $200 million budget.

Disney's animation slump could extend further back. This time last year, Disney released "Encanto," which earned $40 million over the long weekend — and even that was considered disappointing by Disney standards.

And before that, "Raya and the Last Dragon" opened to just $8.5 million in its first weekend, though it was also streaming on Disney+ for an additional fee at the time.

But last year was a different story. The theatrical industry was still in recovery mode, and studios were experimenting with distribution strategies. 

This year was the first real test of the pandemic era to see if Disney's animated films could attract large swaths of consumers to theaters. 

Buzz Lightyear in "Lightyear"

So, what's going on?

 "A lot of it comes down to the movies themselves," Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Box Office Pro, told Insider.

"'Lightyear had the IP, but at the end of the day audiences weren't looking for a spinoff about Buzz Lightyear that wasn't even the same Lightyear they knew from 'Toy Story,'" Robbins said. 

Paul Dergarabedian, Comscore's senior media analyst, agreed. He pointed to other family movies this year, like "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" and "Minions: The Rise of Gru," that were box-office hits.

The marketing and distribution strategy also helped those films, he said.

Each of those films had clear, exclusive theatrical releases. In other words, audiences weren't going to find "Sonic 2" on Paramount+ or "Rise of Gru" on Peacock right away.

In 2020 and 2021, Disney's animated movies either went straight to Disney+ or received a hybrid release on streaming and in theaters.

But this year, Disney's movies have typically been released in theaters for 45 days before debuting on the streaming service.

"There's no question that if there's any consumer confusion, that can be problematic," Dergarabedian said.

The future may be bright for Disney animation

Analysts are hopeful for the future, though. Disney will release Pixar's "Elemental" next year, as well as Disney Animation's "Wish" over the 2023 Thanksgiving weekend. 

Next year also marks Disney's 100th anniversary, and Robbins said "Wish" is likely to be a "celebration" of that: "It sounds like a hit on paper," he said.

They're also optimistic about Bob Iger's return to the company.

Iger recently returned to the CEO role he left in 2020, replacing his successor, Bob Chapek.

Robbins suspects Iger will ensure that different divisions "have more of a say in where their content goes," pointing to the fact that the CEO has already started making structural changes at the company.

While it's unclear if the decision to greenlight "Strange World" and "Lightyear" came from Iger or Chapek, the distribution decisions were made under Chapek's watch.

Iger's passion is the creative side of the company — and particularly revered family-friendly content — and he remained at the company for a time as executive chairman to oversee those efforts after stepping down as CEO. Chapek, meanwhile, didn't seem to have an appreciation for the genre that put Disney on the map.

During The Wall Street Journal's Tech Live conference last month, Chapek seemed to diss animated films.

"I always say that when our fans and our audiences put their kids to bed at night after watching 'Pinocchio' or 'Dumbo' or 'Little Mermaid,' they're probably not going to tune into another animated movie," Chapek said. "They want something for them."

Read the original article on Business Insider


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