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Americans are 'not sensitized' to high US casualties likely in a future war, Marine Corps' top officer says

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 9:41am
A US Marine on the beach during an amphibious exercise in the Philippines, October 12, 2019.
  • The US Marine Corps, like the other military branches, is preparing for a future conflict against an adversary with similar capabilities.
  • That kind of conflict is rare, but it would bring with it a level of casualties that the US public has not had to face in decades, the Marine Corps' top general said this week.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US public is not used to the heavy casualties that are likely in a future conflict between similarly powerful forces, the Marine Corps' top general said this week.

The Corps, like other military branches, is reorienting to face a rival with comparable capabilities — namely Russia or China — in an era of renewed great-power competition.

Such a fight would mean heavy combat losses, which has its own deterrent effect, Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, said at a Defense One event Thursday.

"We're not resigned to high casualties, but we should not think that in a great power competition it's going to be clean," Berger said in response to a question comparing a future conflict in Asia to World War II.

In a scenario where both adversaries are "pretty strong," neither would look for "head-on-head" conflict but rather seek out the other's weaknesses, Berger said.

US Marines train in an urban terrain complex during an amphibious exercise in Thailand, February 28, 2020.

History suggests a direct clash between nuclear powers is unlikely. The US, Russia, and China have fought numerous proxy conflicts, but the only nuclear-armed states to go to war with each other are India and Pakistan, who share a disputed border and antipathy dating to their traumatic founding.

But there is still a risk, Berger said. "Great power competition, as does counterinsurgency, comes with casualties if it comes to a scrap."

Berger is just the most recent senior officer to make such a warning.

In his first major strategic document, published this month, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said the US has had "a historically-anomalous period of dominance" in the air since the first Gulf War.

Brown cautioned that future airmen "must be prepared" for "combat attrition rates ... more akin to the World War II era."

Air losses in World War II were heavy. Between 1942 and 1945, more than 26,000 members of the Eighth Air Force were killed over Europe. About 7,000 US troops have been killed in the post-September 11 wars in the Middle East. (Direct deaths of combatants and civilians in those wars are close to 800,000.)

"We haven't had that kind of high number of casualties in a long while," Berger said Thursday. "The public is not sensitized to that today, on either side. Hence ... neither side wants that kind of a conventional force-on-force fight ... that doesn't work to your advantage."

Soft spots A US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey over Wake Island, May 22, 2019.

Berger has pursued a force redesign to make the Marines lighter, more mobile, and better suited to operate in small units on islands across the Pacific.

That has meant a number of dramatic changes, like getting rid of "big, heavy things" like tanks and artillery, cutting aviation units, and reducing overall force size.

"We have to distribute the forces, first of all, to give the adversary a lot of looks from a lot of different directions in every single domain," Berger said Thursday. By presenting "a lot of different looks," he added, "you make it very difficult for them to focus their strengths."

That distribution can mitigate casualties, but Berger emphasized the overarching operational goal: deterrence.

"It's a distributed way of fighting and maneuvering so that you can put the enemy in a dilemma, and he says 'OK, it's not worth it today.'"

US Marines conduct medical evacuation drills during an exercise Bulgaria, August 2, 2018.

Berger has noted the logistical challenges of a dispersed conflict, which the service hasn't faced decades. Similarly, medical care will be a greater challenge over those distances, he said Thursday.

The Corps has the "mechanics" needed to deal with combat casualties, but Marines also have to "sensitize ourselves," Berger said, citing the impracticality of the "golden hour," the period between wounding and reaching appropriate medical care that became the norm in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"That's not reasonable when you're fighting a distributed fight, so that means we have to have a medical capability more forward than we did before," Berger said.

Wounded troops were often able to reach level-three trauma care in that "golden hour," but a distributed fight means that could take "four hours or four days," Berger added. "We have to deliver medical capabilities [and] logistics far forward in a different way than we needed to in Afghanistan or Iraq."

Unmanned vessels and other methods are being developed or have been proposed to resolve new logistical and medical challenges — for the latter, researchers have even looked at changing how the body works.

A peer adversary will target that "logistical backside" or any other "soft spot," Berger said. "They will try to put pressure on us in any weak spot that they see. We're going to do the same."

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The top 9 shows on Netflix this week, from 'Ratched' to 'Schitt's Creek'

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 9:35am
Sarah Paulson in "Ratched"
  • Ryan Murphy's "Ratched" and Emmys champion "Schitt's Creek" are among Netflix's most popular shows this week. 
  • Netflix introduced daily top lists of the most popular titles on the streaming service in February.
  • Streaming search engine Reelgood keeps track of the lists and provides Business Insider with a rundown of the week's most popular TV shows on Netflix.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Ryan Murphy's third series for Netflix as part of his massive deal with the streamer, the "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" prequel "Ratched," quickly grabbed viewers' attention to become Netflix's most popular series this week.

"Schitt's Creek" also surged in popularity after its Emmys sweep last Sunday, winning all seven of the comedy categories presented during the telecast, including best comedy series, direction, writing, and all four acting awards.

Netflix introduced daily top 10 lists of its most viewed movies and TV shows in February (it counts a view if an account watches at least two minutes of a title).

Every week, the streaming search engine Reelgood compiles for Business Insider a list of which TV shows have been most prominent on Netflix's daily lists that week. 

Below are Netflix's 9 most popular TV shows of the week in the US:

9. "Schitt's Creek" (Pop TV, 2015-2020)

Description: "Suddenly broke, the formerly filthy-rich Rose family is reduced to living in a ramshackle motel in a town they once bought as a joke: Schitt's Creek."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92%

What critics said: "With sentimentality and wry humor, Season 6 further homes in on how the siblings' affection for their unlikely home of three years runs parallel to the romances they've found there." — The Atlantic (season 6)

8. "Challenger: The Final Flight" (Netflix original, 2020)

Description: "Engineers, officials and the crew members' families provide their perspective on the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and its aftermath."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: N/A

7. "The American Barbecue Showdown" (Netflix original, 2020-present)

Description: "Eight of the country's best backyard smokers and pitmasters vie for the title of American Barbecue Champion in a fierce but friendly faceoff."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: N/A

6. "Cocomelon" (Netflix original, 2020-present)

Description: "Learn letters, numbers, animal sounds and more with J.J. in this musical series that brings fun times with nursery rhymes for the whole family!"

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: N/A

5. "The Blacklist" (NBC, 2013-present)

Description: "After turning himself in, a brilliant fugitive offers to help the FBI bag other baddies, but only if rookie profiler Elizabeth Keen is his partner."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 91%

What critics said: "Where previous seasons may have asked us to bring something back from the long and winding serialization of Red-and-Lizzie, the premiere of season 6-is working on more of a minute-by-minute recall time." — Entertainment Weekly (season 6)

4. "Away" (Netflix original, 2020-present) Ray Panthaki and Hilary Swank in "Away."

Description: "Commander Emma Green leaves behind her husband and daughter to lead an international crew of astronauts on a perilous three-year mission to Mars."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 59%

What critics said: "Away is unapologetically maudlin and manipulative, often playing too much like an old-fashioned drama than a show with anything modern to say." — (season 1)

3. "Cobra Kai" (Netflix original, 2018-present)

Description: "Decades after the tournament that changed their lives, the rivalry between Johnny and Daniel reignites in this sequel to the 'Karate Kid' films."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94%

What critics said: "The series remains entertaining despite its flaws, and fortunately it has a hero that negotiates this disconnect between retro mindset and contemporary consciousness." — Indiewire (season 2)

2. "Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous" (Netflix original, 2020-present)

Description: "Six teens invited to attend a state-of-the-art adventure camp on Isla Nublar must band together to survive when the dinosaurs break out of captivity."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: N/A

1. "Ratched" (Netflix original, 2020)

Description: "In 1947, Mildred Ratched begins working as a nurse at a leading psychiatric hospital. But beneath her stylish exterior lurks a growing darkness."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 60%

What critics said: "No longer a chilling avatar of implacable, self-satisfied state violence who needs no reason to exist other than that the system will always find people like her to keep running, Nurse Ratched is now just another poor, misunderstood antihero." — Slate

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Joe Biden's plan would create 7 million more jobs than Trump, according to one economic forecast

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 9:30am
  • An economic forecast from Moody's indicated that a Biden presidency would create 7 million more jobs compared to a second Trump term.
  • "The Moody's analysis tells us the Biden plan would result in more jobs, a stronger economy, and higher incomes for the middle class," economics expert Michael Linden said.
  • Household incomes would also rise nearly $5,000 under Biden, but stay unchanged if Trump is reelected to another term.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's economic agenda would lead to 7 million more jobs created compared to President Donald Trump's, according to a new analysis from Moody's Analytics, a research firm.

The study, conducted by Mark Zandi and Bernard Yaros, evaluated the economy's trajectory under four different scenarios. But it found that a Democratic sweep where Biden is elected and Democrats recapture the Senate would lead to a significant increase in federal spending. They assume it would be largely "deficit-financed," meaning the government racks up a bigger federal debt.

The spending, though, wouldn't be a drag on overall growth. Instead, 18.6 million jobs would be created during Biden's first term, and lift the average American's household after-tax income by $4,800. That's 7 million more jobs compared to a scenario where Trump is reelected and Republicans hold onto the Senate. Household incomes largely stay the same should the GOP control both the legislative and executive branches.

"The Moody's analysis tells us the Biden plan would result in more jobs, a stronger economy, and higher incomes for the middle class," Michael Linden, a fellow at the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute, told Business Insider.

The unemployment rate would drop below 4% in late 2022 in a Biden presidency. Under Trump, that would occur in the first half of 2024 — a 1.5 year difference.

The analysis sought to predict the economy's trajectory under several different scenarios, including a period of divided government. Details around Trump's economic plan are scarce, though he has pledged another round of middle-class tax cuts without elaborating, among other measures to aid wealthy investors.

Read more: 3 top investing executives lay out the biggest risks to markets heading into a volatile election season — and share their best recommendations for navigating what happens next

Linden said increasing federal spending helps prop up the economy during a recession.

"Every dollar of additional government spending in the next couple of years is going to produce more than a dollar's worth of new growth and more economic activity, which creates more jobs," Linden said. "The bang for the buck is massive."

He added that Biden's endorsement of policies such as paid family leave and stronger access to childcare also shores up the number of jobs created in the analysis.

Biden has unveiled an ambitious suite of spending proposals that would generate $4 trillion in new revenue over 10 years. He recently incorporated an overhaul of the child tax credit into his economic platform, which would allow parents with children under 17 years old to receive up to $300 in monthly federal payments next year.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A huge mistake by the GOP has opened the door for Biden to dominate the first debate and take a commanding hold on the election

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 9:28am
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks on the coronavirus pandemic during a campaign event September 2, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.
  • The GOP has for months been trying to make it seem as if Joe Biden is in cognitive decline.
  • Biden has the chance to easily refute this incorrect theory during the debate on Tuesday.
  • By sticking to a short, strong message Biden can easily overwhelm President Donald Trump and cement his lead in the presidential election.
  • Michael Gordon is a longtime Democratic strategist, a former spokesman for the Justice Department, and the principal for the strategic-communications firm Group Gordon.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As Joe Biden began to emerge as the Democratic presidential nominee, Republicans and conservative commentators developed a strategy to undermine the former vice president with a claim that he is in cognitive decline

They seized on random gaffes. They made fun of his stutter. They labeled him "Sleepy Joe." All the while, the GOP standard-bearer was wondering if Americans should inject Lysol

Then, as debate season approached, Republicans realized that they needed to do a 180. By setting the bar for Biden's cognitive abilities so low, it will be easy for the Democratic nominee to jump over it and defy "expectations."

The sudden need for a new game plan is not the first time this month that Republicans have needed to dramatically shift course. But it's too late for their zig zags to work after months of hammering home the "Biden cognitive decline" message. They've set it up so that all he has to do is show up, and he'll shine.

Indeed, if the former VP plays the debates right, he will close the deal with the American people. Here's how he can do it.

Keep it short

Biden's strategy needs to be threefold. Point number one is that less is more. He gets himself into trouble the longer he goes on. Particularly when he's playing defense, he should have a pithy one-liner ready to go and then move on to the next topic.

When Trump says Hunter Biden, Biden should say Ivanka traded on her dad to get trademarks for her business.

When Trump wears the mantle of law and order, Biden should say except when he is pardoning his crony buddies and encouraging violence.

When Trump says he's done more for Black people than any other president, Biden should point to the fact that his properties discriminated against Black tenants.

When he says "promises made promises kept," Biden should say his promises put kids in cages and destroyed our international standing.

We all know Trump's favorite soundbites by now. Biden must have a response ready to quickly turn them around.

It's the substance, stupid

The Republican focus on Biden's alleged cognitive failings was a losing strategy to begin with and also not true. If Americans voted on personal failings, neither Donald Trump nor Bill Clinton would have been elected. 

Joe Biden's second strategy is to stick to the key issues. Americans consistently prioritize substance over personality — and that works to Biden's advantage. He can play to his winning hand on the coronavirus response, on protecting healthcare, and on common sense gun safety — all issues where he holds the popular position. 

As he did throughout the Democratic primary race, Biden should also fall back on his strong political resume. For Americans unhappy with the Trump experiment, the idea of Joe Biden as the steady, experienced hand to take the tiller is a powerful message. Biden should pair talking about his current platform with examples of how he has gotten it done throughout his storied career.

The one issue where, according to polling, Trump trumps Biden is the economy. So Biden needs to talk about how Trump squandered our economic growth with his virus response and about how not every American is benefiting from our economy's growth. Biden presents as a regular guy, not an inheritor-in-chief, and if Americans trust that he can relate to their economic pain, they will reward him.

Closing argument

Americans have made up their mind about Trump. The question is whether they are comfortable with Biden as the alternative.

Republicans have served up the chance to make that case on a silver platter. After months of attacks on his cognitive fitness, Joe Biden can shatter expectations and prove that he is in fact better equipped to guide our troubled nation than the "stable genius" incumbent.

To do so, Biden's third strategy is to reassure the American people of a return to normalcy. As the outrage over the replacement for recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg began to boil over, Biden wisely shifted to cooling the rhetoric on all sides and healing across the board. As Trump goes goofy and outrageous, Biden must rise above it all. 

After four years of chaos, Americans crave a president who will simply Make America Normal Again. That is Joe Biden's brand. He is the antidote to Trump.

He also exudes charisma in a way that Trump never can. As the DNC so artfully captured, the consistent themes of Joe Biden's often tragic life story have been genuine compassion and a commitment to public service. Biden can speak to hearts on the debate stage and demonstrate to America the stark contrast in character with our current president.

With the polls being largely consistent over the course of the year, it seems that there's little that can move the race at this point. The debates are the last best opportunity for both candidates to make their case. If Biden is himself, with his heart on his sleeve and true experience under his belt, he will be our President in a few short months.

Read the original article on Business Insider

4 things to consider before moving to a new city, state, or country during the pandemic

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 9:15am
Before you consider a big move, think about how it could affect your long-term plans.
  • For some, the shift to remote work during the pandemic has opened a window of opportunity to consider moving.
  • Relocating to a new city, state, or country is still a big deal even if you're working from home, so take time to reflect realistically on the pros and cons of a move. 
  • Think about your next steps and long-term goals beyond the pandemic — from evaluating your job prospects in a new area, school districts if you have kids, and cost of living. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

I don't know about you, but I've been feeling a little stir-crazy lately. Staring at the same four walls for more consecutive days than I care to count has me longing to be somewhere (anywhere!) else.

If months of being stuck inside, working from a makeshift home office, or navigating a remote job search have you seriously considering the idea of moving far, far away, you aren't alone. "There's been a recent uptick in people looking to leave larger cities like San Francisco or New York City for mid-sized cities and suburban areas," said Ryan Carrigan, cofounder of moveBuddha, an online resource for planning long-distance moves. "This is likely because people can live more comfortably in lockdown in less densely populated areas where they aren't cooped up in tiny apartments."

Whether or not a small apartment or a crowded city aren't fueling your desire to move, Carrigan says you may be thinking about relocation now that the pandemic has removed barriers that might typically have prevented you from taking the leap, like an employer that requires you to report to an office every day. "It seems that a lot of people already had these moves on their mind, and the current circumstances have made it more attainable," Carrigan noted. In some cases, "now is a good time to take the plunge."

But moving to a new city or state is a big deal — even when we aren't in the midst of a global pandemic. With so much uncertainty around remote-working arrangements, travel, job security, and the state of the economy as a whole, how do you know if you should make such a huge change?

What's your "why"?

As with any big, life-changing decision, it's important to spend time reflecting on the reason (or reasons) you want to move right now. "Many of my clients have already relocated or are actively trying to relocate [during the pandemic]," said Jennifer Fink, Muse career coach and founder of Fink Development. "The top reasons are getting closer to family or friends, cost of living, reevaluating life or career goals, needing a different type of living space, loss of income, increased flexibility for remote work, and safety."

For some, the idea of moving may have been in the works for months or even years, and COVID is simply the catalyst that spurs them into action. "We've been thinking about moving for a while, but I didn't want to leave my job," said Lola Robinson, a recruiter at a San Francisco-based startup. "When my employer announced that they were going to be a remote-first company because of the pandemic, it made moving a real possibility." Robinson and her husband now plan to move to San Diego in the fall. She cites being closer to family, a lower cost of living, and a better quality of life as their primary reasons for relocating.

Others, like Corritta Lewis, are choosing to make the best of their rapidly changing circumstances. After getting laid off from her HR analyst job, Lewis and her wife decided to leave Southern California for Playa del Carmen, Mexico. "The biggest factor for us was the cost of living. Our money goes a lot further in Mexico where we'll have an affordable condo with a pool, healthcare, a healthy lifestyle, and affordable childcare," Lewis said. She hopes to channel her love of travel into a travel resource for families of color once it's safe to explore again.

While there are plenty of valid reasons for relocating, it's important to remember that we're all going through a weird time right now. "The grass always seems greener on the other side," Fink said. "Before you make a move, make sure you do some deep reflection to understand what's truly motivating you. People often believe a new location will solve a problem they have, but they later learn that it was an internal problem that really needed solving."

So ask yourself:

  • Why do I want to make this move right now? If, like Robinson, you've been considering a move for a while and the timing finally feels right, that's a good sign. But if the idea of moving is newer, you might just be itching for a change of scenery. Consider something less permanent instead: Would a weekend camping trip with your family make you feel a little less cooped up? Can you book a short-term rental in the area you're interested in first? Do you really just need to spend a quiet week in a bigger space in a rural area?
  • Will the improvement in my quality of life be temporary or does this truly make sense in the long term? Lewis believes the combination of better weather, lower cost of living, and a more welcoming community will lead to a better quality of life for her and her family for years to come. She's also leaving behind a job she no longer enjoyed and is looking forward to starting her own business (something that would be much harder to do in pricey Southern California). On the other hand, if you love living in the city, but the pandemic has left you longing for a bigger living space, you need to consider whether you'll be happy in the suburbs when life returns to normal. Will you miss going to happy hour with coworkers? How will you feel about a longer commute?
How will moving affect your career prospects?

Most of us won't be picking up and moving to a new city on a whim. Moving will take some serious planning. If you're hoping to keep your job after relocating, you'll need to discuss your options with your employer before finalizing anything.

There will likely be a variety of factors to consider, like whether or not your boss will expect you to come into the office a few times a month after the pandemic is over, whether your company would plan to make cost-of-living adjustments to your compensation (some employers may change your salary to reflect the going rate in your new hometown), and, if you're considering a move out of state, whether your employer can even legally pay you to work there (not all companies are set up to employ staff in all 50 states).

This might look like a series of conversations, rather than a single, sweeping declaration. Given the current state of the workforce, your employer might be more open than ever to hearing you out. "I believe the trend of greater flexibility for remote work will only continue to grow," Fink said. Still, it's important to do your homework and be prepared to discuss how a permanent remote role would work. Perhaps most importantly, both you and your manager will need to believe that you can be successful from a distance given the company culture, team structure, and nature of your job.

In the short term, moving to a new city may not have a huge impact on your career, especially if you're able to work from home and everyone at your company is currently remote. But what will your job look like when normal life resumes? Will you be the only person on your team who doesn't return to the office? If you're a manager, what will it look like for you to lead from a distance? How will moving affect your access to prospective customers and networking opportunities?

If you're planning to find a new job, or think you might move on from your current company at some point, it'll be important to get a handle on what the path forward could look like. In other words: What will the long-term impact for your career be in this new location?

Some questions to consider:

  • How feasible will it be to find a new job in or from your new location?
  • Is there a stable job market there?
  • If there aren't many jobs in your field or industry there, do you think it will be possible to find remote work with companies based elsewhere?
  • Even if that's the case, would you want to work remotely in the long term? Do you think you could grow and thrive from afar?
  • Is there a shift or career pivot you've been wanting to explore that will be made easier or harder by the move?

These questions may not have simple answers, as the pandemic has made predicting future employment trends a challenge. "Before the pandemic, there were predictions that employment in cities would continue to grow, while smaller communities would continue to lose jobs; this is probably still true. However we are in a significant moment of disruption, and I don't think anyone can say for sure how we will emerge from this pandemic," Fink said. In some cases, your answer might simply be, "I don't know." The unknown can be scary, but it can also be liberating. If in the face of all this uncertainty, you're still leaning toward moving, that's probably a good sign.

What are the short and long-term costs?

The cost of living in the area you're planning to move to will likely be an important factor in your decision. We all know how expensive it can be to live in big cities like San Francisco or New York, but smaller cities or popular suburbs can be pricey, too. And that doesn't just mean housing costs. You'll want to think about other expenses like sales tax, income taxes, whether or not you'll need a car (and how often you'll need to fill up your gas tank), and the price of food at nearby grocery stores. This can all vary from county to county and state to state.

Even if you are moving to a city with a more affordable cost of living, your income might be affected, too, as your current employer may adjust your salary to reflect the market in your area. If you're planning to get a new job closer to your new home, local salaries will likely be lower, too. What will that mean for your ability to save money or work toward your long-term financial goals?

Moving itself can also put a serious dent in your checking account. "Be sure to ask yourself whether a lower cost of living will offset the cost of your move," Carrigan said. "How long would you have to work in order to recoup your expenses?" If saving money is your primary motivator, this will be an especially important number to crunch. Cheaper rent is great, but forking over thousands of dollars to move all of your stuff might mean that you'll have to spend more before you can start saving. Will that be worth it in the long run?

If you're in the process of searching for a new job, you can always negotiate things like location scouting trips or temporary storage costs into your offer to mitigate expenses. It's far less common to get relocation assistance as an existing employee moving for non-work reasons. However, if you're truly great at your job — do people call you a superstar? — you might consider asking anyway, especially if it happens to be annual review time or you know you're up for a raise or promotion.

What about beyond the pandemic?

I know it might not feel like it right now, but this pandemic is temporary. Moving, on the other hand, can be much more permanent. So try to think about what this change will mean in the bigger picture. Do you long for life to go back to the way it was pre-COVID? Then a big move might not end up being as satisfying as you'd hoped. Conversely, has your time in quarantine helped you to realize that you want to make some changes or shift your priorities? Then relocating might truly make sense.

Still on the fence? It might help to ask yourself what a move would mean for your life after the pandemic is over. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Overall quality of life. Will you miss the snow when the holidays roll around? Do you love being able to walk to your favorite coffee shop? Will taking care of that big yard drive you crazy when autumn rolls around and the leaves start falling? Will you be sad to be far away from theaters and museums once those begin to open up again?
  • Your personal and professional network. Do you know anyone where you're moving or will you be starting over? Would a move take you closer to or farther away from your support system? What kind of diversity is there in the area you're looking at? Will you feel welcome and safe? What about your partner or children, if you have them?
  • Your work style. Make sure to think not only about whether you can keep or find jobs in the future, but also about whether you'll enjoy your day-to-day work life. Do you prefer to be surrounded by collaborative coworkers or is the solitude of remote work more your thing? Will you feel out of the loop if you're the only one who doesn't return to the office post-pandemic? Will it be challenging to work from a different time zone? Will you have to travel more often?
  • Your partner's career prospects. Will your partner be able to work remotely too? What does the job market in your new town look like for your partner's industry?
  • Your children's schools. What will a new school and community look like for your family in the near future and down the line?

If you decide to go for it, know that a move is going to take a lot of planning — perhaps more than normal, given the current state of the world. Looping in your employer, evaluating the job market, considering the cost of living, and making a plan to carry it off smoothly will all be essential to a successful relocation.

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My husband and I stopped dividing chores into 'his' and 'her' jobs, and now things are actually getting done

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 9:13am
Melissa Petro works part-time from home while caring for her young children.
  • Melissa Petro is a freelance writer based in New York where she lives with her husband and two small children. 
  • In their marriage, Petro says she and her husband found themselves dividing household chores into stereotypically male and female responsibilities — and then struggled with what felt like unequal workloads.
  • Petro says her chores of cooking and cleaning felt like more because they're done on a regular basis, while her husband's responsibilities of mowing the lawn and taking out the trash were more infrequent.
  • During the pandemic, the couple has made an effort to divide chores more evenly using a family to-do list, which has made running their home more of a team effort.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

It's hard to break a habit. Take feeding my family, for instance: Of all the drudgery I get saddled with, I actually enjoy making dinner — and I'm good at it. Whereas my husband? Not so much, and so night after night, I'd become the one that cooks. 

My husband, on the other hand, loves any excuse to throw on a pair of headphones and drink beer in the middle of the afternoon, and so mowing the lawn landed on his list.

In the four years we'd been together, Arran and I had unconsciously divided everything into his and her to do lists. 

For the most part this arrangement worked for us — except on Friday nights, when I'd come late from work, ravenous, to a husband plaintively asking "What's for dinner?" Then there was the time Arran went out of town: The recycling didn't go out, the dog didn't get her medicine, and when it snowed, the kids and I were shut in. 

And then there were those jobs on neither of our lists: fixing the dishwasher, cleaning the basement, calling the bank about a lost check. Arran naturally assumed this stuff was my responsibility whereas I thought it was his, and so the tasks went uncompleted. 

But since March, my husband has been working from home and my family has been functioning better than ever. Part of the reason: we've taken experts' advice and made a concerted effort to do away with our "his" and "her" to do lists. The effect has been profound: My husband and I divide the labor more equally, we have more appreciation for one another's contributions, and those big projects that used to fall through the cracks? They're actually getting done.  

Gender division of labor happens in the home, just like the workplace.

The author with her husband and son.

Before we had kids it wasn't so noticeable. Maybe I did the laundry and he did the dishes, so what? We both knew how to do both chores because we'd done them for ourselves prior to getting together. Our workload felt equal, and we both had plenty of time at the end of the day for one another as well as ourselves.  

Then Oscar was born and I became a stay at home mom, working part-time when I could in addition to managing the home and providing childcare. Old chores like laundry or dishes tripled in scale. Meanwhile, new responsibilities — arranging playdates, buying birthday presents, baking brownies to welcome a new neighbor — piled onto my plate. 

While my husband was at work, I cleaned and decorated the home. Like most moms, I shuttled the kids to and from playgroup and doctors' appointments. I kept our home stocked with everything from paper towels and diapers to paper clips and scotch tape. I replaced the kids clothes every season, made the holidays magical, and planned family vacations. 

My husband, on the other hand, did all the chores typically characterized as men's work. He mowed the lawn, raked the leaves, and shoveled snow. He ran every errand, whether it was finding a replacement pacifier in the middle of his workday, or running out for a pint of ice cream after both kids had gone to bed. He'd take out the garbage, empty the Diaper Genie, hang the curtains, kill spiders, and other "manly" jobs. He "mans" the thermostat, keeps the technology working, and does who-knows-what in the garage, along with a million other things, on top of working a strenuous full-time job. 

When straight couples allow labor to divide "naturally," women get a raw deal.

Sure, my husband had a "to-do" list. But mine felt twice as long. 

If research is any indication, I was probably correct: Of heterosexual couples with children, polls indicate it's typical for the woman to be doing more home and childcare than the man, especially the easily discounted but indispensable, under-the-radar tasks that keep home and family life afloat. Not only do women perform significantly more housework than men, but the chores we do are arguable worse. 

According to Claire Cain Miller, a New York Times correspondent who writes about gender, families and the future of work, the chores women do more of are indoors, like cleaning and cooking, whereas men do more work that is outdoors and considered recreational, like yard work. Another reason it feels uneven, she says, is because men's chores happen weekly or less often, whereas the ones women do happen daily or several times a day.

His and her to-do lists are bad for a marriage, and especially problematic when you're raising kids

Melissa's husband and young children enjoying a snack break.

Gemma Hartley's book "Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward" powerfully articulates the resentments many women feel when the work we do around the house goes unrecognized. Looking back, I realize the anger and sadness I felt in early motherhood was, in part, a consequence of traditional gender roles my husband and I had inadvertently adapted. Had I the option, I would have preferred paid employment to monotonous housewifery. In couples therapy, I learned my husband had resentments of his own, and felt equally taken for granted.  

When Arran went away on a work trip, I couldn't function independently because things like plugging in my phone, and even turning on the TV had become "his" job. I felt burnt out, but too nervous to take a much needed "momcation."

But the worst part of our predicament was a nagging suspicion that our performing traditional gender stereotypes in the home (even though it was our preference) was negatively impacting our kids. According to at least one study, my fears were founded: Data from a 31 year panel study found that sons of parents who divided housework equitably were more likely to participate in the routine household chores as adults, while the mother's employment during their daughters' early years proved to be an important predictor of the allocation of housework in her adult home. 

Trading to-do lists can shake up your family dynamic.

When the pandemic hit and Arran started working from home, my husband naturally gained a greater respect for what I did all day. Instead of shutting himself behind an office door, Arran stayed involved with family life. He saw my struggle and found time in his day to alleviate it.

These days, it's not at all unusual for Arran to take a break mid-morning to tame a tantrum or use his entire lunch break to put one or both kids down for their nap. He loads and unloads the dishwasher just as often as I do and folds most of the laundry during Zoom meetings. Now that we're in each other's space all day, I also got a better sense of what my husband does, both professionally as well as around the house. 

Sometimes the switch happens naturally. On mornings he's racing to get the recycling to the curb after wrestling Oscar into a diaper, I'm more than happy to do "his" job and walk the dogs. Other times, we have to make a conscious effort to shake it up.

Even though I'm happier cooking than forcing meal preparation on Arran, neither of us want our children to think it's only a woman's job to cook, clean, and care for the family — nor do we want Oscar to think he can't enjoy cooking and baking because he's a boy — so I'll run an errand I'd normally foist on my husband while he figures out what to feed his hungry mob.

Slowly but surely, our "family to-do list" is getting tackled.

.Some months into quarantine, we had more evenly divided the daily chores, but there was still a list of stuff that wasn't happening — one-off tasks not essential to daily life but important nonetheless. One family meeting, we investigated why neither of us had taken the initiative to clean the gutters and realized that "his" and "her" to do lists were to blame: I'd assumed Arran would find someone to hire because it was yard work, whereas he'd assumed I'd take care of it because hiring people usually fell under my jobs.

From then on, we've kept a "family to-do" list posted on the bulletin board in the kitchen, and divide the chores evenly as we find time. As opposed to my job or his, running our home has become more of a team effort. It's easier, but it's not easy.

Come to think of it, I've still never mowed the lawn. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Drama at Whole Foods — Leaked Microsoft slides — Find your Wall Street dream job

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 9:06am


Hello everyone! Welcome to this weekly roundup of Business Insider stories. This is Olivia Oran this week, subbing in for executive editor Matt Turner. Subscribe here to get this newsletter in your inbox every Sunday.

And sign up here for our free live event Tuesday to get the inside track on the race for the White House with Business Insider's DC Bureau.

Whole Foods employees say Amazon workers are crowding stores, ignoring virus protocols, and hounding them for help as online orders surge A Whole Foods Market worker moves grocery carts in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, April 15, 2020.

Americans are buying more food online than ever before amid virus concerns, with nearly every major grocer reporting a rapid rise in online grocery purchases in recent months.

So it may not be surprising that tensions are mounting between Whole Foods employees and the workers who pick and pack Amazon's Prime Now online orders. 

Reports Hayley Peterson: 

Seven Whole Foods employees said they were suffering from understaffing and struggling to keep shelves stocked as a growing number of Amazon Prime workers canvass stores to fill online orders.

A manager at a Whole Foods store in the Northeast called Prime workers "vultures" who "come in and pick every department clean."

"I could put out the blueberries, and 10 minutes later they are gone because the Prime shoppers have bought them all," she said.

And in fact, one Whole Foods store is so busy with Prime orders that it has workers packing and storing groceries in a nearby parking garage, another employee told Business Insider. 

Read the story in full here:

'It's like being in a sci-fi nightmare film': Whole Foods employees say Amazon workers are crowding stores, ignoring virus protocols, and hounding them for help as online orders surge

Leaked slides show an overlooked Microsoft business 

From Ashley Stewart:

Microsoft announced in June plans to shut down nearly all of its retail locations and transition employees to customer service roles "providing sales, training, and support."

Leaked presentations viewed by Business Insider show Microsoft has deployed some former retail workers to sell to small and medium businesses and education organizations, contributing to $61.7 million in revenue for the current quarter as of Sept. 20.

Meanwhile, the company has identified sales to small and medium businesses as a weak spot amid the pandemic.

The figures shared in the presentation give a rare look at a segment of Microsoft's business that is often overlooked, as Wall Street largely focuses its attention on the ever-increasing growth of cloud businesses like Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Teams and the larger Office 365 suite. Still, it's hard to gauge the relative success of Microsoft in the SMB segment based on these revenue figures alone, especially against the larger economic picture.

You can read the full story here:

Leaked Microsoft slides show that the company has generated at least $61.7 million in revenue this quarter by selling to the smallest businesses and educational institutions, as it transitions former store employees to salespeople

Find your dream job on Wall Street 

Business Insider has compiled a searchable list of more than 350 headhunters across 80 firms that source talent for Wall Street.

The database includes recruiters who focus on front-office investment professionals — traders, dealmakers, portfolio managers, bankers, and the executives they report into. 

Check it out here from Alex Morrell and Reed Alexander:

We built the first-ever searchable database of the top Wall Street recruiters for banking, hedge funds, and private equity

Here are some headlines from the past week you might have missed. 

— Olivia 

A former Esquire exec is suing Hearst, alleging age and gender discrimination

MOLDING GREATNESS: Meet 23 career coaches who helped shape leaders into stars at the likes of Goldman Sachs and Google

How Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf, who's under fire for his 'limited' Black talent remark, filled the bank's top ranks with white men from his JPMorgan days

Here's how Columbia, NYU, and 4 other law schools are reworking high-stakes job interviews for students this year

US Investing Championship hopeful Tomas Claro hauled in a 409.1% return through August. Here's the unique trading strategy he's leveraging — and 3 stocks he's holding.

A Barclays trading desk lost more than $60 million this year amid a bloodbath in distressed assets

Read the original article on Business Insider

The healthcare system has long ignored women's health and failed female patients. Female-backed health startups can change things.

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 9:06am
Women's health is severely understudied and underfunded.
  • Women make up the majority of the population and of household healthcare decisions — but life science research and standard medical practice remains based on men.
  • Health issues that affect women differently, disproportionately, or exclusively often remain underfunded and invisible. 
  • Female-backed health ventures focused on women's health can help bridge this gap. 
  • Eva Epker is the Director of Marketing at Avestria Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in women’s health and female-led life science companies
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Articles about women's health usually start the same way: an otherwise perfectly healthy woman is in pain. After several visits and tests, her (typically male) doctors can't find the cause. 

Later, the woman learns that she has polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, or maybe she even had a heart attack. But symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments that are idiosyncratic to women are often regarded as exceptions to the norm — leaving women's health unstudied and underfunded.

Women make up 51% of the population, 80% of the healthcare workforce, and make around 80% of household healthcare decisions. But life science research and standard medical practice remains based on men.

The standard model for medicine was a 70-kilogram (154-pound) white male; the only women-specific adjustments for treatment was the dosage size because, besides their reproductive differences, women were simply believed to be small men.

Only in 1993 did the National Institute of Health pass the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act that required that women be included in NIH-funded research. Still, nearly 30 years later, just 4% of all healthcare research and development goes towards women's health issues specifically. 

Not studying sex-based health differences can have fatal consequences.  

Keeping medicine male-focused leads to insufficient knowledge about how different issues, symptoms, and treatments differ among the sexes. Significant biological differences exist not only in reproductive health but also autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, depression & brain disorders, infectious disease, and even substance abuse disorders. Women are also disproportionately victims of Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis, and UTIs.

Excluding women puts their own health at risk. As Caroline Criado-Perez notes in her award-winning book, "Invisible Women," women are 50% more likely than men to receive the wrong diagnosis following a heart attack. Heart failure trials generally use only male participants, whose heart attack symptoms follow the popularized clutch-your-chest-in-pain playbook. Women's symptoms, however, include stomach pain, fatigue, and nausea. Women and their doctors are subsequently more likely to think that their symptoms are a manifestation of anxiety, tiredness, or an imminent flu — not of a potential fatal heart attack.

Female investors and women-centric health ventures may be the solution.

Female-led health startups can be crucial in helping both to level the playing field in healthcare and to develop more women-centered care. Femtech, the term used to describe technologies, products, and services made specifically for women's health and wellness, is projected to be a $60 billion market by 2026. Yet investments in female entrepreneurs — who are often the founders of these women's health companies  — remain low.

In 2018, VC funding totaled $130 billion and only 2.2% of venture funding went to female-led companies. (In comparison, Juul, a male-founded-and-led e-cigarette company, received $10 billion more in funding that year than female-founded companies received collectively.) In 2019, female-founded companies received 2.7% of total VC funding — around $1.5 billion less than WeWork alone.

Female-focused venture capital firms, like Avestria Ventures, are trying to help increase these numbers. As Avestria co-founder Corinne Nevinny explains, "There are very few people investing in women's health and very few women starting health companies."

Avestria is one of those firms, investing specifically in female-led life science and women's health ventures. Nevinny and her co-founder Linda Greub experienced the lack of interest in and financial support for female-focused ventures when they, along with a third partner, invested in nVision Medical. Inspired by her own experiences with ovarian cysts as a teenager, nVision Medical's CEO and founder, Surbhi Sarna, helped create a device that takes cells from Fallopian tubes where ovarian cancer first presents.

When detected early, 94% of ovarian cancer patients live more than five years after their diagnosis, but only 20% of ovarian cancers are found early. They can be completely asymptomatic in early stages, and symptoms, when they do appear, may be subtle or attributed to other causes. As a result, ovarian cancer is typically hard to pinpoint until Stage 4. By then, the cancer has already spread, or metastasized, to another part of the body. As of 2018, about 21,000 individuals in the US are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually and about 14,000 die from it. NVision Medical's tech could help physicians detect ovarian cancer early and treat individuals before the cancer metastasizes and becomes fatal.

In interviews, Sarna noted that female investors had an "automatic comfort and understanding" while male VCs were often "outside their comfort zone." Some even told her outright, "Oh. This is a women's issue." As a result, the company's early investors were all women.

"[nVision Medical] made us realize that a man wouldn't come up with that idea," Greub explains. Their investment paid off — nVision Medical was sold to Boston Scientific for up to $275 million in 2018. 

But female venture capitalists are still an exception, not a rule. Venture capital firms with at least one female investing partner are two times more likely to fund female founders and three times more likely to fund companies with female CEOs than VC firms with all male partners are — but less than 10% of decision makers in US venture capital firms are women. 

"About 90% of venture capitalists are men … and they're missing ideas that are good ideas because they don't have expertise in or passion in or comfort with that area and those ideas," Greub adds. 

Without the dollars coming in from the traditional male venture capitalists, it's up to firms like Avestria to mitigate this disparity. They offer female entrepreneurs and women's health ventures, like Sarna and nVision Medical, understanding and funding to support much-needed innovation in women's health so that this area — already subordinate in science — won't continue to suffer from its most fatal threat: invisibility.

In addition to her role as Director of Marketing at Avestria Ventures, Eva Epker enjoys (copy)writing, branding, and helping to empower girls and women.

Read the original article on Business Insider

American democracy is losing the fight against Trump's misinformation. We need to turn it around.

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 9:04am
  • The coronavirus pandemic rages on, but there's another virus we constantly have to deal with: misinformation.
  • The Trump administration operates in lies which are slowly undermining American democracy.
  • It's time for social media companies to step up and help fight back.
  • Michael Gordon is a longtime Democratic strategist, a former spokesman for the Justice Department, and the principal for the strategic-communications firm Group Gordon.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The misinformation outbreak has hit our elections. President Trump is intensifying attacks on our democratic processes by misleading people about voting twice, falsely claiming that mail-in voting is fraud-ridden, and threatening to cast doubt on the results

And it's even disrupting critical, lifesaving missions. Officials managing the devastating fires on the West Coast have had to contend simultaneously with right wing conspiracists fanning the flames of social media with lies about the blaze's origin. This systematic deception distracted law enforcement and journalists who had to respond to rumors instead of getting out the facts.

We need to counter this terrifying trend with an all-out offensive.

It's long past time for corporate America and government to stop those who knowingly and deliberately spread dangerous, false information.

Politics trumps truth

This misinformation crisis should disturb all Americans who believe in our democracy, but unfortunately many see it as an opportunity for political gain. Conservative media and commentators across traditional and social media have created a propaganda machine for Trump that promotes QAnon conspiracy theories, racist birtherism against Kamala Harris, and altered reality about protests for racial justice.

Since the start of COVID-19, the right has misled Americans with falsehoods that support their agenda. Because the truth looked bad for Trump, they falsely claimed that the virus was no worse than the common cold. Misinformation has exacerbated the horrifying toll claimed by the virus. 

Some of this is political hyperbole, but some of it is beyond figuratively dangerous.

When misinformation meets prosecution

In the US, it is and should be very difficult to prosecute people who spread false – and sometimes dangerous – information. There are real concerns about the implications for free speech and individual rights, which are the foundations of our democracy. We must not let those crack, but there's more we can do.

When viral misinformation has led to prosecution, there's usually a connection to other crimes. That's why the FBI arrested a man for soliciting investments for a fake coronavirus cure, and a South Carolinian was jailed for faking a positive coronavirus test to skip work. And the man who fell for and acted on the phony Pizzagate conspiracy is serving four years in prison.

Meanwhile, our fraudster-in-chief and his army of liars get away with hawking fake cures because the bar is set much lower for politicians.

Healthy democracies have started to crack down on misinformation. In Spain, spreading misinformation can carry a sentence of up to five years in jail. In Germany, the Enforcement on Social Networks Act requires social media companies to remove fake news, hate speech, and illegal content or face fines up to $60 million. No policy has been without problems, but avoiding the problem because it's hard definitely won't solve it. 

Our current laws are for individuals promulgating misinformation, but the larger issue comes from the systems that allow these messages to take hold of the public. It shouldn't be so easy for bad actors to intentionally spread false information that endangers public health, promotes violence, and threatens our electoral process. The platforms that amplify their dangerous messages must do more. 

The onus on social media

The biggest opportunity – and responsibility – to combat the spread of misinformation is on social media companies.

Legislators, corporations, and the public have increasingly focused on holding social media platforms accountable. This pressure has led some social media companies, like Twitter and LinkedIn, to ban political ads outright or take steps to weed out or flag misinformation in organic posts. Others, like Facebook and YouTube, not so much – though public pressure did lead to a minor concession from Facebook to ban new political ads in the week before the election.

Some social media sites have also started adding disclaimers or context to misleading posts or pages, even directing people to more fact-based sources to find information on a topic. Twitter announced last month that it would start labeling government or state-run accounts.

In Europe, regulators have taken more aggressive steps to force social media companies to address misinformation. Earlier this summer, the EU unveiled new guidelines that would require social media platforms to submit monthly reports outlining what they're doing to stop the "infodemic" around the pandemic.

More solutions

There's much more we can do at the corporate and governmental levels to fight misinformation. 

Social media companies must update their products to reduce the spread of dangerously misleading content related to the pandemic. Their usual algorithms aren't suited for this moment and the proliferation of bots is only making things worse. When people's lives are literally at stake, content should be amplified based not on its popularity but on its veracity.

Congress must do more to regulate the social platforms through which more and more Americans are getting much of their news. Because social media companies are designated as internet service providers under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, they argue that they are not publishers but platforms for exchanging ideas. As such, they don't face the same responsibilities and consequences as news publishers or broadcasters. 

But Facebook is making its claims to be a neutral platform for content at the same time that they  and others are also touting their strength and offerings in news. These platforms can't have it both ways. 

Moreover, under the "Good Samaritan" provision of Section 230, social media companies are asked, not mandated, to regulate harmful or illegal information on their platforms. While most have policies for taking down sexually explicit or offensive content, they hide behind Section 230 when it comes to political misinformation. If they won't police their own platforms to prevent it, new regulations could require them to take misinformation more seriously.

Just as reputable news outlets hold journalists to reporting standards and publishers risk defamation suits for knowingly printing false information, so too should social media companies assert more responsibility for what they allow on their platforms. Some social media sites have adopted measures to verify or label information organically circulating on their platforms. More needs to be done to call out indisputable lies.

Most social media platforms have taken some steps to regulate or ban political ads. Facebook, which still allows political ads, has increased transparency about who is paying for ads – but there are too many cracks to slip through. Social networks must invest more into these efforts to ensure they are effective in policy and practice. 

Considering the pervasive influence of Facebook and the relatively small economic impact of political ads on their top line, the powers there need to step out of their echo chamber.  The alternative is that their legacy will be not changing the way we connect but creating a home for dangerous right-wing provocateurs

We must explore every solution, but that will only be possible if we put into power those who take the problem seriously. Led by our conspiracist-in-chief, the Trump administration is the quintessence of the problem. There is no solution while he's in office.

Under a Joe Biden Administration, there's hope that the U.S. will curb both pandemics before us. In more ways than one, truth is on the ballot election day.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How 2020 broke the housing market: So many homes are selling that we could run out of new houses in months

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 9:00am
A house is the most desirable get amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the US is barreling toward an inventory shortage and affordability crisis that'll make homeownership unattainable.
  • The hottest pandemic purchase is a house, as more and more Americans take advantage of low mortgage rates to attain spacious backyards and more comfortable work-from-home locales.
  • Existing home sales, which have trended upward for the last 3 months since the housing market reopened from shutdown, soared to a 14-year high in August. New home sales are also up.
  • Home prices are soaring, too, recording the highest two-month appreciation between May and July — at 2% — in 30 years of record-keeping.
  • But not enough new houses are being built to keep up with demand, a trend that actually goes back a decade.
  • Homebuying, in all its trendy glory, only projects to get more expensive, if not impossible. If homes keep selling at this rate, Bloomberg estimates the inventory of new homes could actually run out in just a few months.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.


Have you thought about moving amid the coronavirus pandemic?

Is your Instagram feed littered with captions reading "Surprise! We bought a house!" underneath photos of couples posing with sets of keys and whimsically colored front doors? Have you seen unbearably long lines for open houses in your own neighborhood?

If it seems like the hottest pandemic purchase is a home, well, it's not just your hunch telling you that.

A shocking volume of homes are selling rapidly, according to new data. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released a report on Tuesday finding that existing home sales reached a 14-year high in August. In fact, Bloomberg reported that if homes continue to sell at their current rate, the US would run out of home inventory in just over three months.

Meanwhile, most newly minted homeowners already regret their decision, survey data shows.

Buying a home right now isn't nearly as affordable as low mortgage rates promise, with low supply continually ratcheting home prices up. And it's only going to become more expensive, potentially dashing future homeowners' dreams.

Houses are selling at an almost unbelievable rate

August was the third straight month that existing home sales trended upward, per NAR. It also found that roughly 6 million homes were sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in that month —the highest annualized sales rate since 2006. The figure also represents a 10.5% year-over-year increase.

New home sales have trended upward recently, too. Bloomberg reported that sales of new construction jumped to 342,000 in August — also a high mark since 2006.

Those interested in buying new digs, or the perks that accompany the purchase like spacious backyards and comfortable work-from-home locales, are willing to pay more than ever before.

"Buyers are willing to pay more for a house than I've ever seen — I'm talking $30,000 to $50,000 over the listing price," one Baltimore real estate agent told Redfin recently. "They're desperate because homes are flying off the market so quickly. I'm selling all of the homes I'm listing within three days."

The eagerness to buy a home is also fueled by low mortgage rates — mortgage applications are up 22% compared to last year. Mortgage rates now are among the lowest ever offered — US 30-year mortgage rates have hit nine record lows in 2020 alone.

But home prices are skyrocketing and homebuying is only expected to get harder

Those low mortgage rates, along with the urge to find shelter during the pandemic, seem to have brought so many homebuyers into a market where bargains are hard to find. Redfin found that as of the end of July, lower mortgage rates had given buyers an extra 6.9% in purchasing power, but house prices were up 8.2% year-over-year at that point — and they've kept going up since.

In fact, the 2% appreciation in national home prices between May and July was the biggest two-month jump since at least 1991, which was when the Federal Housing Finance Authority started tracking those changes in an index.

Those who already own homes are holding off on selling, according to Zillow economists, meaning there are fewer homes on the market than normal. There are 20% fewer houses for sale now than there were at this time last year. Uncertainty about employment and the economy among other financial concerns may keep housing supply low for some time, and is exacerbated by the US' failure to keep up with home building needs over the past decade.

Even though record-high numbers of newbuilds were purchased earlier in the pandemic, new-construction listings dropped 33.6% year-over-year in August, according to a Redfin analysis, meaning that not enough homes are being built to keep up with demand.

"Housing demand is robust but supply is not and this imbalance will inevitably harm affordability and hinder ownership opportunities," NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said in the association's report.

We're already seeing the effects of this — the FHFA reported that home prices jumped 6.5% nationally in July on a year-over-year basis. Separately, NAR found that the national median home price in August was $310,600, up 11.4% from last August.

Median home prices of single-family homes and condos are currently less affordable than historical averages in roughly two-thirds of the US, according to a Thursday Attom Data Solutions report.

"In a year when nothing is normal, owning a single-family home has become less affordable to average wage earners across the US, despite conditions that would seem to point the opposite way," Todd Teta, Attom's chief product officer said in the report, noting that higher wages and lower mortgage rates "should work in favor of home buyers." The report went on to note that home price appreciation outpaced average weekly wage growth in most — 87% — of the country this month.

Meanwhile, as prices rise due to demand, mortgages are becoming even harder to come by. Lenders are tightening standards due to the coronavirus recession, per the Mortgage Bankers Association. It reportedly hasn't been this hard to take out a mortgage since 2014.

The unfortunate combination is enough to make homeownership simply unattainable for the average American as the pandemic wears on.

Newly minted homeowners are already regretting their decision, too. A late August LendEDU survey found that more than half of Americans — a whopping 55% — who purchased homes amid the pandemic almost immediately reported buyer's remorse. Roughly 30% of those respondents cited financial reasons.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Skytrax is rating global airports based on how they're handling the coronavirus pandemic – here's the full ranking

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 8:57am
New York's LaGuardia Airport requires all passengers wear a face covering while inside its terminals.
  • Aviation rating firm Skytrax is adding a new category to its list, the COVID-19 airport rating.
  • Airports are being judged on how they are combating the pandemic within their doors with ratings for social distancing enforcement, temperature checks, and cleanliness of public areas. 
  • Only four airports in Europe have been rated so far but the program aims to expand into Asia, Africa, the Middle East, North America, and South America in the near future. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Skytrax earlier this year revealed its ranking for the top 100 best airports in the world, a highly competitive list that the firm complies in addition to its airline ratings. But global events have forced a new category for its prestigious ratings, the COVID-19 Airport Rating.

Concerns of contracting the virus while traveling have prompted nearly every airport to implement new safety measures as they begin to welcome back travelers. And with flying schedules slashed in the immediate wake of the pandemic, airports are also fighting to be among the first to receive back their airline partners by ensuring that their airports are safe for passengers. 

The global rating endeavor will see Skytrax survey over 100 international airports and issue stars on a scale from zero to five. Categories include social distancing enforcement, temperature checks, and cleanliness of public areas.

European airports are the first to be tested, with Skytrax already issuing ratings for some airports in the UK, Spain, France, and Italy, where the virus hit among the hardest on the continent. 

Airports in Asia and the Middle East will begin testing in October while North American and South American airports will be tested from December 2020. African airports will see Skytrax ratings beginning in January 2021, with the firm not listing when Australian and Oceanic airports will be judged. 

Here's which airports are doing the best at combatting the novel coronavirus, so far.

London's Heathrow Airport – three stars London's Heathrow Airport.

London's primary international gateway is among the lowest-rated airports in Skytrax's current ranking with only three stars. According to the rating firm, "Airports achieving 3-Star have Best Practice systems for cleanliness but do not apply the necessary cleaning and hygiene protocols on a regular or consistent basis."

On a scale of zero to five stars for each category, Heathrow Airport only earned one five-star rating for requiring visitors to wear face coverings. The next highest rating was two four and a half rating for enhanced terminal airflow and filtering and face mask usage enforced.

The lowest ratings given to the airport were two three-star ratings for personal protective equipment compliance among security screening staff and monitoring capacity in shops and eateries.  

Skytrax also rated Heathrow Airport as the 12th best airport in the world during its most recent 2020 ranking.

Málaga–Costa del Sol Airport – three stars Málaga–Costa del Sol Airport

Malaga Airport in southern Spain earned a three-star rating from Skytrax. The only five-star rating the airport received was for requiring that visitors wear face coverings. 

The next highest were four four-star ratings for enhanced terminal airflow and filtering, hand sanitizer availability, hand sanitizer prominence and utility, and temperature checks. The firm also noted that the airport has no COVID-19 testing facilities of personal protective equipment vending machines. 

The airport falls short, according to Skytrax, in providing COVID-19 informational signage, enforcing terminal access rules, enforcing social distancing, cleaning and monitoring washrooms, and cleaning and monitoring food and beverage areas. Each of those categories earned less than three stars. 

Nice Côte d'Azur Airport – three stars Nice Côte d'Azur Airport

The gateway to the French Riviera and Monaco only achieved three stars from Skytrax in managing the coronavirus pandemic within its doors. Skytrax only issued one five-star rating in its breakdown for the airport requiring face masks to be worn by passengers.

The next highest was a four-star rating for enhanced terminal airflow and filtering, with the firm noting that the airport has no COVID-19 testing facilities or personal protective equipment vending machines. The airport didn't earn lower than three stars in any category.

Rome-Fiumicino International Airport – five stars Rome-Fiumicino International Airport

The largest airport in Rome is currently among the best airports in the world for handling the coronavirus pandemic with a five-star award from Skytrax. According to the rating firm, "Airports achieving 5-Star deliver many Best Practice systems of cleanliness and hygiene monitoring, and most importantly, these protocols are adhered to consistently."

Skytrax gave the airport five stars in the following categories:

  • Terminal access rules enforced
  • Temperature checks
  • Customer face masks required
  • Hand sanitizer availability
  • Social distancing markings & signage
  • Social distancing seat markings
  • Enhanced terminal airflow & filtering
  • Shop/Food & Beverage capacity monitoring

The only category where Skytrax gave the airport less than four stars was in the COVID-19 testing availability category where the airport received zero stars. 

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In ski towns like Lake Tahoe, Silicon Valley's elite are causing booms in school enrollment

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 8:55am
Students are taught a lesson in an outdoor classroom at Lake Tahoe School in Incline Village, Nevada.
  • Families from Silicon Valley and other wealthy locales are moving to mountain resort towns in droves.
  • In Tahoe, the average home price last month was $749,000, up nearly 25% since the same month last year, according to Redfin.
  • At some schools, the newcomers have created a boom in enrollment.
  • At a one-room-schoolhouse in Bear Valley, California, enrollment has multiplied.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.


In Bear Valley California, a small ski town south of Lake Tahoe, Justin Savaso powers up the SMART Board in his one-room schoolhouse and gets ready to teach a lesson on Zoom. In the empty classroom, a small black pellet stove with a chimney awaits wintertime, when a deep layer of white snow will envelop the school and the surrounding mountains.

Many would consider being a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse to be a tough job, but Savaso, a warm 27-year-old who lives in a cabin nearby, takes it in stride. Last year, his student population was in the single digits: he started the year with seven students and ended the year with four: two kindergarteners, a first-grader, and a second-grader. He would move from one to another, teaching lessons and assigning independent work. 

Normally, a travelling teacher would come in to give students a music lesson once a week, and an assistant teacher would pop in to do art lessons. When the local ski mountain opened, students spent PE taking ski and snowboard lessons on the slopes. 

But this year, things are different, and not just because COVID-19 has forced his school to go online.

Savaso's student population has more than quadrupled since the end of last year, from four students across three grade levels to 18 students across seven grade levels. Only two of those 18 were returning students to Bear Valley School.

It's just one snapshot of a larger trend playing out across multiple western mountain resort towns, as families with means are pouring into locales like Lake Tahoe, California and Aspen, Colorado. Families who usually drive up from Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Francisco to spend a weekend carving up powder around Lake Tahoe are snapping up properties and moving into their vacation homes full-time, looking to escape high rates of COVID-19.

In Tahoe, the average home price last month was $749,000, up nearly 25% since the same month last year, according to Redfin. In Pitkin County, Colorado, where Aspen is located, the median sales price for a single-family home in 2020 was over $3 million, according to the Colorado Association of Realtors, up more than 14% over 2019.

As a result, many local schools, especially those offering in-person classes, have seen increased demand from new families — and as schools scale up to meet the demand, there's little certainty in how long the new students will stick around. The Colorado Sun called the phenomenon an "urban exodus," pointing to institutions like the Vail Mountain School, whose wait list is its longest ever, and Aspen school district, where enrollment has soared. 

In Bear Valley, the rising numbers have proved a challenge.

"It feels like we are all back to our first year of teaching," Savaso, who has taught for five, told Business Insider. With so many students, lesson planning usually takes place the night before, and instructional time is limited to one hour and 15 minutes per age level, Savaso said. Kids spend the rest of the school day doing independent work. 

Meanwhile, at private schools like Lake Tahoe School, a pre-K through grade 8 private school located just 25 minutes from Northstar ski resort, the influx has been a boon.

Lake Tahoe School's enrollment has hit 185 students this year.

"For private schools, more students equals more tuition dollars," said Robert Graves, the head of Lake Tahoe School, in an interview with Business Insider. "I'm grateful for the numbers." 

A year of middle school tuition at the institution clocks in at $26,000, and the school hit maximum enrollment at 185 students this year. Sister schools in Truckee and Reno, towns which also border Lake Tahoe, are also experiencing 10% to 20% bumps in enrollment, Graves said. 

Not only are fuller classrooms more cost effective, but the bonus funding is even more essential given the costs of adapting to COVID-19. Graves estimated the school budgeted $100,000 to $200,000 for costs like outdoor classrooms, sneeze guards, cleaning supplies, and temperature checks. 

Still, Graves knows the influx might be temporary.

"The overall enrollment increase is great, but if things clear up tomorrow, will they be staying?" said Graves. 

To be sure, not all mountain towns have seen enrollment numbers balloon. In August, Teton County School District, which serves the children of famed resort town Jackson Hole, braced for a 100-student increase, said Charlotte Reynolds, who handles communications for the school district.  Administrators worried about implementing social distancing requirements at their middle school, which was already "bursting at the seams," according to Reynolds. An influx of new students would compound the issue.

But instead, a different trend emerged: many local parents decided to homeschool their children, and many newcomers decided to enroll their students for Teton County's hybrid learning. The net number of students decreased by 95, but the proportion of newcomers to locals has shifted, Reynolds said.

As for Savaso, his role as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse is finally getting a little easier. 

After more than a month of teaching solo, Bear Valley School hired another instructor so that Savaso could focus on third grade through fifth grade, rather than transitional kindergarten through fifth grade. He said he's excited about the prospect of being able to plan more units. So far, they've learned about Native Americans, climate change, and wildfires.

Still, his school may not have stopped growing. His school has a projected goal of reopening October 12, and he's already been contacted by a few families looking to enroll their students once classes return face-to-face.

If need be, "I'm sure we could get some more desks," he said.

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Kia gave its popular mid-size SUV the styling and interior of the popular Telluride — check out the new Sorento

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 8:53am
2021 Kia Sorento X-Line.
  • The 2021 Kia Sorento is all-new for its fourth generation.
  • It's a mid-size, three-row SUV and will be offered in either front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive.
  • No pricing was announced at this time, but it will go on sale later this year.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Taking visual and interior cues from the successful Kia Telluride, the new, fourth-generation 2021 Kia Sorento looks to be a pretty sweet three-row SUV. And there will be a hybrid option, too. 

The Sorento is Kia's mid-size SUV offering and a step down from the Telluride in terms of size. The new Sorento will come in five different trims and with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, according to a company release

It also offers a number of engine options, including a naturally aspirated four-cylinder, a turbocharged four-cylinder, and two different four-cylinder turbocharged hybrids. 

Kia didn't announce pricing at this time for the new Sorento but expects it to go on sale later this year. Keep reading to learn more about it. 

The 2021 Kia Sorento marks the all-new fourth generation of the South Korean automaker's mid-size crossover offering. 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. Its looks are undoubtedly inspired by its larger sibling, the Telluride. 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. Like the Telluride, the Sorento is a three-row SUV. 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. Kia will offer five trims: the LX, S, EX, SX, and SX-Prestige. The SX-Prestige AWD with X-Line appearance package gives more ride height, 20-inch wheels, and a roof rack. 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are available. 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. Initially, you'll be able to choose from three engine options. 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. The first is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, good for a claimed 191 horsepower and 182 pounds-feet of torque. It uses an eight-speed automatic transmission. 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. Then there's the 2.5-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder that will produce a claimed 281 horsepower and 311 pounds-feet of torque. This is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. There's also a 1.6-liter, turbocharged, hybrid four-cylinder: 227 horsepower and mated to a six-speed transmission. 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. In the Sorento's next model year, a 1.6-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder plug-in hybrid option will join the pack. It'll have a claimed 261 horsepower. 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. The interior looks like it will be stylish as well. 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. You'll be able to enjoy "bright satin finishes," optional "metal texture inlays" or "open-pore wood inlays." 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. On models with the leather seats, you can get quilted leather. 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. It gives the Sorento a distinctly upmarket feel. The cabin looks like it lets in lots of light. 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. Kia says it also improved cargo room over the outgoing Sorento model. 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. This cubby looks handy for storing a small toolbox. 2021 Kia Sorento SX. The vertical air vents are an attractive touch. An eight-inch touchscreen display is standard, but you can option a 10.25-inch one instead. The front wears something Kia calls a "tiger nose" and new "eyeline" daytime running lights. Kia styled the new Sorento to look sharper and more modern. There's a wave shape at the base of the C-pillar to give off a look of athleticism. All in all, it's a pretty handsome SUV. Kia didn't announce official pricing at this time. The 2021 Kia Sorento will be available later on in 2020. Read the original article on Business Insider

Mercedes-Benz partner Alphavan created a $145,900 smart Sprinter camper van — see inside

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 8:53am
The Alphavan.
  • Mercedes-Benz partner Alphavan created a Sprinter-based camper van with a “rear garage” space that can alternatively be used as a children’s bedroom.
  • The tiny home on wheels has separate defined living spaces, including a seating area, bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, and the rear under-bed FlexPort that can be used as a garage or room.
  • The Alphavan is available for order in Europe, but the company is now looking into plans to bring the camper van to the US.
  • Alphavan starts at around $145,920 without tax.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Alphavan created a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter-based camper van with a rear under-bed "garage" space that can alternatively be used as a children's bedroom.

Alphavan, a Mercedes-Benz partner, was founded by three people with different backgrounds and specialties: Tobias Buhmann is the CEO of "interior solutions" company GETA, Stefan Krause is a technical and design "mastermind", and Philipp Wex has been working for Mercedes-Benz for the past 18 years.

According to an interview with Krause and Wex, the idea of using a Sprinter as the Alphavan camper van base was a no-brainer for the Germany-based company.

"I think Mercedes is currently one of the best vehicles you can buy for a camper," Krause told Business Insider. "It's more expensive than a Fiat, but if you compare the driving between Fiat and Mercedes, there's a big difference."

By using a Sprinter instead of other popular camper van bases like a Ram Promaster or Fiat Ducato, the team is able to include Mercedes-Benz's User Experience, Advanced Control, and ME Connect systems that can turn the tiny home into a smart home. The Alphavan.

"Both the developers of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the Alphavan company speak the same language when it comes to quality and functionality, and make camper dreams come true," according to the Mercedes-Benz webpage about the Alphavan.

The automaker's User Experience (MBUX) provides a navigation system, while the ME Connect supplies driving-related information, such as traffic and weather. The ME Connect also allows for a WiFi hotspot for digital nomads who need to work on the road, and van owners can download the ME app onto their smartphones to control functions of the van, such as door locking, remotely.

The Advanced Control also serves as an on-board control center, but more so for other electrical tasks, such as setting the electric awning, controlling the air conditioning, and checking the water systems.

Like the ME Connect, these can be controlled via Bluetooth by using the MBAC app.

The Alphavan took 10 years to design and develop, according to Krause. However, according to Wex, the Alphavan has gone from "zero to really a product" in the last two years, in part because of the release of a new Sprinter van in 2018. Alphavan's sleeping lounge.

"What's clear is the segment for camper vans has been growing for the last five to six years in the two-digit growth rate continuously, and I have seen this also from the Mercedes side," Wex said. "What's definitely also true for Europe is the growth rate: although we have the bad COVID-19 situations, the interest in doing local vacations and driving around in your own apartment on wheels is a big deal over here as well."

The interior of the Alphavan is made up of several separate spaces: a seating area, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and a "FlexPort" rear garage that can be transformed into another sleeping space or a children's room. The interior of the Alphavan.

This allows the van to accommodate up to four people.

"It was important to us to create this new [roominess] concept," Wex said."We wanted to have a full living, seating, and cooking area with a full bedroom, and then we knew we needed flexibility for different sorts of customers."

The interior living space can come in two styles: the wooden and grey-themed "soft-line", or the white and grey "pure line." The interior of the Alphavan.

The interior is 6.89 feet tall, which allows van dwellers to stand up inside of their tiny home on wheels.

According to its maker, Alphavan's interior is 50% lighter than other campers, which is done by using Vöhringer's Vunder Tech — a  lightweight and breathable material in the van's furniture. In total, the Alphavan weighs about 7,716.18 pounds.

The kitchen — which is next to the entry doorway — has push-lock drawers, overhead cabinets with LED lights underneath, a refrigerator, a two-burner cooktop, and a sink. The interior of the Alphavan.

The kitchen unit also has three compartments on the side closest to the fly screen-lined entry door.

Meals prepared at the kitchen can be eaten across the way at the seating space, which includes a two-person bench and table. The driver and passenger seats can also swivel back to face the table, creating two extra lounging spots.

This dining or work area is surrounded by overhead cabinets and a 230-volt and two USB outlets.

Behind the seating space is the bathroom, which is in its own enclosed waterproof room. The bathroom has a pull-out sink, shower, and toilet with a ventilation system to prevent foul odors from lingering in the apartment on wheels.

In between the bathroom and the sleeping space is Alphavan's closet, which has a rail to hang clothes and a shoe storage compartment.

The bedroom, which has a 6.56-foot by 5.25-foot mattress, is surrounded by a ceiling and side windows with fly screens and shades for ventilation. Alphavan's relax area.

The bedroom is elevated to make room for the under-bed FlexPort. However, its maker provides an aluminum ladder to help reach the slumber space, which is also equipped with  LED lights — including reading lights — and more outlets.

In between the living space and the bedroom is a 22-inch smart television above the refrigerator. And because the television is mounted on a swivel arm, movies and shows can be viewed from both the bedroom and the living area.

To access the FlexPort, Alphavan dwellers can either open the rear door or crawl through the 3.94-foot tall door located under the bed. Alphavan's FlexPort.

The 7.22-foot long, 5.58-foot wide, 4.2-foot tall FlexPort can store outdoor gear like bicycles, or be converted into another sleeping space for two people, or be used as a children's room for #VanLifers with kids.

For garage use, the FlexPort has a secured equipment storage system, chair holders on the doors, and the option for storage bags on the walls, to name a few amenities. Alphavan's FlexPort.

The FlexPort also has two-floor cabinets that run down both sides of the van. These cabinets also serve as the base for the folding, "self-stabilizing" mattress that can be used by customers who want to utilize the FlexPort as a children's room.

And like every other space in the van, the FlexPort has outlets and LED lights.

All of the smart apartment on wheel's electronic components are powered by the van's 110-watt peak solar panels, 2,300-watt inverter, and 210-amp hour lithium-ion battery. Alphavan's sleeping lounge.

This takes away the need to use any liquefied natural gas to power amenities like the cooktop. 

The van comes with two package options: the Comfort and the Premium. The interior of the Alphavan.

The Comfort starts at around $169,263 including tax, or around $145,920 pre-tax. The Premium Package, which adds an additional $23,350, includes a bigger engine, automatic transmission, satellite reception, the television, and air conditioning, to name a few additions.

Customers will also have the option to purchase a four-by-four iteration.

"We are right now still quite a young company with a lot of experience, but we are in a stage where we are quite surprised about the extremely positive feedback we are getting from customers," Wex said.

Despite the German headquarters, the Alphavan may see itself overseas in the US and Canada someday. The interior of the Alphavan.

"After we had the first press coverage here in Europe, it pretty quickly went over to the US, and we currently have quite a significant inflow of requests from US and Canada," Wex said. "At this point, we are not in the US yet, but as we have received so many requests, we are actually currently investing in what would be necessary to do this step."

This entails having discussions with Mercedes-Benz and looking into registration and legislation requirements.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Salt Lake City airport just opened a massive new terminal with canyon-themed art as Delta relies on the hub as a gateway to the west – see inside

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 8:43am
The new Salt Lake City International Airport.
  • Salt Lake City International Airport just debuted the first milestone of its reconstruction with a new terminal headhouse and concourse. 
  • Utah-inspired artwork lines the terminal with passengers walking through a red rock canyon to get to their gate.
  • Delta Air Lines passengers are the first to use the new space with the airline also opening its largest SkyClub lounge to mark the occasion.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Salt Lake City International Airport is in the midst of a $4.1 billion reconstruction that will radically change the airport with a brand-new terminal and two new concourses. Six years following its 2014 groundbreaking, the airport just opened the first part of the new terminal to the public on September 15.

Delta Air Lines passengers were among the first to use the new facility - complete with a new SkyClub - as the carrier is the largest at the airport. With Delta accounting for around 70% of the airport's daily departures, it's no surprise that the new terminal layout resembles that of other Delta hubs in Detroit and Atlanta.

Two parallel east-west concourses aim to replace the airport's current pier layout where concourses radiate from a central terminal, allowing for more gates and less congestion in between concourses. 

The pandemic has been kinder to Salt Lake City as Delta's gateway to the mountainous region where social distancing is more easily achieved. In October, Salt Lake City International will only see its year-on-year flying reduced by 15%, Travel Weekly reported, while other hubs elsewhere are seeing reductions of nearly 50%.

 Take a closer look at the first phase of the new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Salt Lake City International first announced plans for an overhaul in 2014, replacing its 1950s-era terminal with a new clean-sheet design adjacent to the existing terminal. The new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: Salt Lake City International Airport

Delta Air Lines is the leading carrier in Salt Lake City, having acquired the hub in its 1980s merger with Western Airlines. Delta Airlines planes are loaded and unloaded at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City

Source: LA Times

The hub has grown under Delta with regular non-stop flights to Europe and Asia, while also acting as a gateway to the mountain destinations of the region. Newly-popular vacation spots including Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Bozeman, Montana; and Yellowstone National Park are easily accessible with a connection in Salt Lake City. And come winter, the slopes of nearby Park City, Utah will be filled with skiers and snowboarders, out-of-state visitors to which will likely pass through the new airport. People ski on the slopes of Kanin after the Slovenian government called an official end to the country's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Kanin The new design calls for completely new structures and the demolition of the previous terminal. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. Two parallel concourses will sit opposite each other separated by a large ramp area for taxiing aircraft. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. It's quite similar to the layout of other Delta hubs in Atlanta and Detroit, with two taxiways located in between the concourses reducing the opportunity for congestion. Passengers will arrive and depart from a new 908,000-square-foot headhouse costing $485.8 million. The new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: Salt Lake City International Airport

Departing passengers enter on the building's top floor where airline check-in counters are located. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. The linear design of the new headhouse replaces its predecessor's curved design. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. Delta is in the launch tenant with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Frontier Airlines, and Southwest Airlines all moving in when the terminal's second concourse opens on October 27. The new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: The Points Guy

After checking in, passengers then descend one level into "The Canyon," an art installation surrounding the central thoroughfare. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. Gordon Huether is the artist behind the installation, representing the natural wonders of Utah. The new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: Salt Lake City International Airport

All departing passengers will see the installation as they head towards the security checkpoint while arriving passengers will walk through the center of the canyon en route to the arrivals hall. The new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: Salt Lake City International Airport

It's the size of a football field spanning nearly the width of the headhouse. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. Three lighting schemes also represent different aspects of Utah's outdoor environment. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. This one represents Utah's red rocks while others represent alpine peaks and moving water. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. "The Canyon" is just one of many art installations in the airport that give it a local feel. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. The "Column Plates" installation in the arrivals area turns structural infrastructure into art. The new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: Salt Lake City International Airport

They're also intended to highlight Utah's outdoor space and the activities that can be found in the state. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. The bases of each are also benches for travelers to rest. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. Just beyond the columns is the fireplace-equipped Greeting Room, an arrivals space for visitors to wait for arriving passengers. The new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: The Points Guy

Departing passengers, however, will traverse "The Canyon" until arriving at the state-of-the-art security checkpoint with 16 automated screening lanes. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. The automated system allows for multiple passengers to access bins at once and then returns the bins to the front of the conveyor belt at the end of the process. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. The Canyon then culminates in a large atrium flanked by retail shops and eateries with floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of the nearby mountain ranges that surround Salt Lake City. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. Concourse A opened first with 25 gates debuting on September 15. The remaining 27 gates will open as the old terminal is demolished and space becomes available. The new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: Salt Lake City International Airport

Once complete, the concourse will span 3,700 feet, making it over half a mile long with moving walkways helping passengers get to their gate. The new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: Salt Lake City International Airport

Each gate will have digital signage to assist with way finding, indicating the airline, flight number, and destination. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. Social distancing measures come standard in the new terminal including plexiglass partitions at gates and ticket counters. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. Seats in the concourse will also come with cupholders, USB charging ports, and 110v AC power outlets. The new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: The Points Guy

Every other seat will also be blocked off for social distancing purposes. The new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: The Points Guy

The artwork also continues into the terminal with additional pieces hovering over the wide walkways found in the concourse. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. Even bathrooms have their own unique designs. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. The last piece of art that arriving passengers will likely see is "The Falls," which spans the length of an escalator shaft in the headhouse. The new Salt Lake City International Airport. The three-story feature uses dichroic glass and natural to create visual effects for the viewer. The new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: Salt Lake City International Airport

As the largest occupant, Delta also built a new SkyClub lounge for the terminal to entertain premium passengers. The Delta Sky Club at the new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: Delta Air Lines

It's the largest SkyClub in Delta's network boasting over 28,000 square feet of space with two full-service bars. The Delta Sky Club at the new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: Delta Air Lines

Much like the terminal below, the lounge's Utah-inspired design and artwork also evoke a sense of place, even if just passing through on a layover. The Delta Sky Club at the new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: Delta Air Lines

And a 360-degree fireplace also keeps them warm. The Delta Sky Club at the new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: Delta Air Lines

The completed terminal will be able to house 34 million passengers and span 2.6 million square feet. The new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: Salt Lake City International Airport

Joining the two concourses will be a 990-foot connector tunnel below the tarmac and also fitted with art installations, similar to ones in Detroit and Chicago. The new Salt Lake City International Airport.

Source: Salt Lake City International Airport

Read the original article on Business Insider

Google's CEO says the future of work involves a 'hybrid model' and that the company is already reconfiguring its offices for employee 'on-sites'

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 8:40am
Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is "reconfiguring" its offices amid a more permanent shift to working from home. 
  • Pichai discussed the future of work at Google during an interview for Time 100 this week. 
  • While he doesn't see working in the office going away altogether, he described the office as a space for "on-sites" — presumably, days where employees, who mostly work from home, gather in the office. 
  • Pichai also said he made the decision to have employees work from home until next summer in order to boost productivity and give workers a sense of certainty during an uncertain time.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Google's famous offices may look a bit different for employees once it's safe for them to begin returning to work. 

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said this week that the company is making changes to its physical spaces to better support employees in the future — a future that Pichai says will include "hybrid models" of work. 

"I see the future as definitely being more flexible," Pichai said during a video interview for Time 100. Pichai was an honoree on this year's list of the most influential people in the world. 

"We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having that sense of community, is super important for whenever you have to solve hard problems, you have to create something new. So we don't see that changing, so we don't think the future is just 100% remote or something," he said. 

Pichai said that Google is "reconfiguring" its office spaces to accommodate what he called "on-sites" — presumably, days where employees, who mostly work from home, gather in the office. 

Google was one of the first major tech companies to announce that employees may continue working from home until July 2021. At the time, The Wall Street Journal reported that the decision was made in part to help working parents whose children might be learning partially or totally remotely this school year. Pichai said there were several factors that went into the decision. 

"Early on as this started, I realized it was going to be a period of tremendous uncertainty, so we wanted to lean in and give certainty where we could," Pichai said. "The reason we made the decision to do work from home until mid of next year is we realized people were trying hard to plan ... and it was affecting productivity."

Pichai said making such a long-term decision forced the company to embrace their new reality: that working from home is here to stay, at least in some capacity. And employees seem to agree: a recent internal survey at the company found that 62% employees believe they only need to be in the office "some days" in order to do their work well, while 20% don't feel like they need to come to the office at all. 

Pichai also touched upon a larger issue for those who live in the San Francisco Bay Area: affordability. The cost of living in the Bay Area has, in recent years, become too high even for those who might be considered high earners in other regions. San Francisco is the most expensive city in the US for homebuyers, with anyone interested in buying a home in the city required to make a salary of at least $172,153 to be able to afford the mortgage. 

High housing costs mean that those who work in San Francisco or its surrounding cities, like Mountain View, where Google is based, often need to move far outside the city to be able to afford housing. That results in long commute times for Bay Area residents. In 2019, a study by Apartment List found that more than 120,000 people, known as super-commuters, commuted at least three hours a day. In some Bay Area counties, the number of super-commuters increased as much as 126% between 2009 and 2017. 

"It's always made me wonder, when I see people commuting two hours and away from their families and friends, on a Friday, you realize they can't have plans," Pichai said. "So I think we can do better."

Pichai said Google has long had a philosophy that the office should be fun and that friction should be reduced where possible — for productivity reasons, he said, but also to improve employees' personal lives. Subjecting them to lengthy commutes into a physical office may not jibe with that philosophy in a post-coronavirus world. 

The San Francisco skyline from Sausalito, California. Signs of a migration

The Bay Area may see a rise in people leaving the region as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

A recent survey from anonymous workplace chat app Blind found that two out of three tech workers would leave the Bay Area if faced with a permanent work-from-home situation.

In another survey from job search marketplace Hired, 42% of respondents said they'd move to a less expensive city if they were told to work from home full-time. Among those who responded that they'd leave, 47% said their primary motivator for relocating to a new city would be a lower cost of living. 

While it's not clear yet whether reports of a Silicon Valley exodus are true or overhyped, there are some signs that the migration has already begun. 

In May, a report from Redfin showed that 72% of its San Francisco-based users were searching for homes outside of the city. And data from home rental site Zumper showed that rents were plunging across the Bay Area in May, with decreases of as much as 15.9% in Mountain View, where Google is based, and similar drops in Facebook's home of Menlo Park and YouTube's home of San Bruno.

In San Francisco proper, there's been a 9.2% drop in rental prices since this time last year, with the city experiencing its lowest rent since early 2017, Zumper found.

An August report from Zillow showed that the inventory of available homes has grown 96% year-over-year, a spike that's not evident in other cities like Boston, Miami, or Los Angeles. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Our supportive running shoes might counterintuitively make us more prone to injury, new research suggests

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 8:37am
A group of tourists on a walking tour in Argentina.
  • Modern shoes are designed with features that make walking and running more comfortable and energetically efficient
  • One of those features is a toe spring — the front of the shoe — that curves upward, putting our feet in a perpetually flexed position.
  • But according to a new study, toe springs may weaken our foot muscles over time, which could contribute to injuries like plantar fasciitis.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Look down at the shoes on your feet or the pairs in your closet — it's likely their front tips curve upward. This is known as the toe spring.

"We've all been wearing shoes with these toe springs, and have had no idea why they're there, the only thing we know is they seem to make walking more comfortable," Nicholas Holowka, an anthropologist at the University of Buffalo, told Business Insider.

But according to Holowka, the comfort and efficiency this shoe design offers may do our feet a disservice in the long run. He helped publish a recent study that shows how toe springs may contribute to the weakening of foot muscles over time, consequently making us more susceptible to injuries like plantar fasciitis.

"They're reducing the amount of work we need to do with our foot muscles, just a little bit every step," he said.

The study offers the latest data point in an ongoing debate about whether minimalist shoes are better for our feet than supportive modern shoes.  

Less effort needed to walk, but weaker foot muscles

Each step we take can be broken down into distinct parts: First, our heel strikes the ground, then our whole foot makes contact. As we move toward the next step, we shift our weight forward to our toes, then push off the ground with them.

That push, sometimes called a toe-off, requires the tiny muscles at the metatarsophalangeal joints — where the balls of our feet meet the base of our toes — to keep our foot rigid. These joints allow the transfer of energy from the foot to the ground and back.

A toe spring reduces the work these muscles must do to ensure an adequate toe-off, Holowka and his co-authors found.

They came to that conclusion after observing 13 people walk on a treadmill in various types of footwear. The participants walked barefoot, as well as in four different types of sandals with increasingly pronounced toe springs. The researchers, meanwhile, used an infrared camera system and special plates built into the treadmill to measure how much power the walkers put into each step and how much force went into the ground during their toe-offs.

The upward curve at the front of modern-day sneakers is called the toe spring.

The results showed that the more a sandal curved the volunteers' toes upward, the less power their feet needed to generate to push off the ground. Wearing a shoe with a toe spring, in other words, meant their muscles were doing less work.

"Add that up over the thousands of steps the average person takes in a day, over years," Holowka said, and it means shoes with toe springs lead one's muscles do a lot less work in the long-run.

"Less work means the muscles will not be as well conditioned, meaning that they may not be able to protect other soft tissues in the foot like the plantar fascia from trauma, leading to conditions like plantar fasciitis," he added.

Weaker foot muscles could mean a higher risk of injury Modern shoes like these have an upward curve at the front known as the toe spring.

About 2 million Americans get treated for plantar fasciitis every year — a condition characterized by painful inflammation in the plantar fascia tissue on the bottoms our our feet. This injury, which can be common among runners, comes with a stabbing pain in the heels and arches. It's difficult to repair. 

Holowka and his colleagues suspect that toe springs may be contributing to the prevalence of this injury.

"What happens is that people are relying on their plantar fascia to do what muscles normally do," Daniel Lieberman, a co-author of the study, said in a press release. "When you get weak muscles and the plantar fascia has to do more work, it's not really evolved for that, and so it gets inflamed."

Runners compete in the 2019 New York City Marathon, November 11, 2019.

In addition to plantar-fascia stress, Lieberman and Holowka also found in a previous study that long-term use of modern footwear often leads to a collapsed arch.

But this doesn't mean we should suddenly start running barefoot

Prior research has also found that people who wear minimal footwear — shoes that help approximate barefoot running and have little cushioning, arch support, or toe springs — have larger foot muscles and stiffer arches than those who wear traditional modern shoes.

"Walking and running in minimal shoes with less supportive features over a while, about six to 12 weeks, can strengthen the intrinsic foot muscles," Freddy Sichting, the lead author of the recent study, told Business Insider.

A pair of Vibram Five Finger minimalist shoes.

But that doesn't mean we should chuck all our old shoes in the bin.

"It can take a long time to build up those muscles, and if you try to do it all at once, you could hurt yourself," Holowka said.

Indeed, barefoot runners tend to report more calf and achilles tendon injuries.

"Most feet are likely not used to doing all the work without the support of modern shoes," Sichting said, adding, "I would recommend a slow transition to minimal footwear to avoid overuse injuries."

Shoes with arch support and cushioning became popular in the 1970s, which in evolutionary terms, of course, is very recent.

"If we start to wear shoes with all sorts of features to control and limit our natural foot motion, as we've been doing for decades now, it might mean that we're not using our feet in the way they evolved to function," Holowka said, adding, "this is a classic example of an evolutionary mismatch, in which our body finds itself in a novel environment — our shoes — that it has not evolved to cope with."

Read the original article on Business Insider

3 boxes to check before you buy homeowners insurance, according to a financial planner

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 8:35am
The author, CFP Malik S. Lee.
  • Whether you're getting homeowners insurance for the first time or just updating your policy, there are three boxes you need to check before signing on the dotted line.
  • First, be sure your policy covers all your valuables, from your jewelry and cash to your deeds and letters of credit.
  • You should also purchase enough insurance to cover the replacement cost of your home (or slightly more) and consider getting an umbrella policy to cover personal liability.
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For most families in the United States, owning a home is an essential part of the American Dream. And even amid a global pandemic, the data suggest that that particular dream is alive and well.

In July 2020, the US Census Bureau announced that the homeownership rate is at 67.9%. As of 2019, individual homeowners were estimated to own nearly $29.2 trillion in real estate and over $18 trillion in home equity.  

These numbers indicate that for homeowners, their property likely plays a massive role in supporting their net worth. That makes your home a critical asset that you must protect. 

Here are my three pieces of advice to follow to ensure that your homeowners insurance policy is providing efficient protection for a significant piece of your wealth.  

Make sure your policy covers all of your valuables

One of the many benefits of having a homeowners insurance policy is the added protection for your personal property. 

Most policies will protect possessions like clothing, appliances, furniture, tools, and decorative items from a covered loss or theft. They also usually cover up to $200 in cash or cash equivalents (bank notes, bullion, gold, and other precious metals); $1,000 to $2,000 in jewelry, watches, and furs; and $1,000 to $2,000 in other assets (securities, deeds, etc.). 

While your policy can cover certain personal items such as physical cash and jewelry, as well as assets like securities, deeds, and letters of credit, this protection only extends to a certain limit. 

To ensure that all of your personal property is completely covered through your homeowners insurance, you may want to purchase a special personal property endorsement or floater on your insurance policy. 

Not only will this expand the coverage protection for your valuables, but it will cover you from personal negligence, such as leaving jewelry in a restroom. 

Ensure that you have adequate replacement cost

As a certified financial planner, one of the most common mistakes I see people make is insuring their home for what they think their home's market value is. The correct way to insure your property? By full replacement cost.

Replacement cost is the amount needed to replace or repair your entire home should an insured event (like a fire or natural disaster) occur and cause severe damage to your property.

Insuring your home based on the replacement cost value will protect you from labor, materials, and transportation expenses required to rebuild your home back to its original state. 

In contrast, insuring your home based on market value will not only take those factors into account, but will also include other factors such as schools, crime statistics, location, and demand. These added considerations can leave you with a policy that doesn't match the true replacement cost of the house, which can impact the premiums you pay.

Using the replacement cost method to insure your home is not something that you set and forget. The replacement cost coverage is something that you should review on an annual basis.

LaTanya G. Simmons, vice president and private risk advisor for Aon, recommends consulting a personal risk management professional who uses proprietary estimator tools to calculate the replacement cost of your home. These tools incorporate factors such as the location of the home, year built, square footage, and unique features.  

Simmons also mentioned that high-net worth carriers go a step further to confirm replacement cost by dispatching appraisers to visit and walk through the home. That allows professionals to document precisely what the home includes, which makes it easier to rebuild accurately with the same kind and quality of materials in the event of a loss.

You may also want to consider a homeowners insurance policy that includes a feature called extended or guaranteed replacement cost. This can help ensure your replacement cost keeps up with inflation, goes past the replacement cost amount (i.e. 10% or 20%), or even allows you to rebuild the home with no limits on costs on guaranteed policies.   

Supplement your liability coverage with an umbrella policy

Your homeowners insurance policy has some degree of protection against personal liability claims. If, for example, someone trips and falls on your property and then sues you, or your pet causes injury to someone else on your property, liability coverage will cover the cost to defend you in a court of law.

Generally, your personal liability coverage through a homeowners insurance policy will be somewhere between $100,000 and $500,000. That may be enough in coverage, unless you have a higher net worth or what we might call "attractive nuisances" on your property that could invite mishaps: think pools, trampolines, treehouses, ATVs, or dogs.

In that case, additional liability coverage through an umbrella insurance policy might be wise.

Umbrella insurance is a separate, stand-alone policy that can cover expenses above your existing personal liability insurance coverage. It adds an extra layer of protection to help you avoid financial hardship should a significant accident occur. 

Coverage limits on umbrella policies typically start at $1,000,000, and in most cases go as high as $5,000,000. Although most people might think these amounts are excessive, some experts estimate that over 10% of personal injury liability awards and settlements hit the million-dollar mark. 

There's a quick and straightforward method for determining the right amount of umbrella coverage: subtract your respective liability coverage limit from all assets at risk, including home equity, personal property, investments, and savings. 

If you get a negative number, you're in a potentially risky situation and may need additional protection. It's probably a good idea to consult with an insurance specialist or a certified financial planner to confirm your calculation. 

Related Content Module: More Financial Planner CoverageRead the original article on Business Insider

Trump is using the coronavirus as an excuse to go full kleptocrat, and the GOP is going right along with him

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 8:27am
President Trump and Jared Kushner during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France
  • Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic the way any kleptocrat would – by putting family in charge and keeping things as under wraps as possible in order to hide his team's incompetence.
  • It also appears that companies and individuals with ties to the Trump administration have found ways to enrich themselves during this disaster. Go figure.
  • When Democrats on the House Financial Services held a hearing asking questions about this stuff, Republicans freaked out and said the hearing was a waste of everyone's time.
  • Probably nothing, right?
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Trump and his associates are using the confusion and desperation of the coronavirus to enrich themselves like kleptocrats, and the GOP is going right along with it.

We are living in a strange moment. The entire whole world is hanging on to any and every word about a vaccine for COVID-19. The entire world needs the same supplies to get through pandemic. These conditions have created a low information environment where certain goods and information are extremely valuable. It just so happens that those with access to those goods and that information are in the White House. And it just so happens that the people in the White House have no scruples to speak of.

Trump has marketed himself as a pro-business president who understands capitalism, but his behavior says otherwise. Capitalism thrives on transparency and a level playing field, but the Trump administration's dealings in the business world have been marked by opacity and cronyism, even more so since the coronavirus pandemic started.

From the beginning, Trump has handled the scientific, economic, financial, and logistical challenge of the coronavirus like a kleptocrat would — by keeping things within the family/inner circle. This set up is why kleptocracies are rife with fraud, waste, and incompetence. Those with experience need not apply.

Trump's family beneficiary during the pandemic has been his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was placed in charge of the coronavirus response. Once in charge Kushner then, according to Vanity Fair, hired his friends. He eschewed government agencies with the capabilities to fight the pandemic and conducted his task force's business in secret, off of government emails and other official modes of communication. Secrecy and opacity are a key elements of kleptocracy.

That task force prioritized friends of the president when it came to distributing personal protective equipment. It used the pandemic to advance Trump's goal of a better relationship with Russia by buying ventilators from Moscow (they turned out to be defective) and then sending supplies to Moscow. Kushner ignored and subverted the needs of Americans in order to reward and punish his father-in-laws friends and enemies. That is what kleptocrats do with resources.

Klepto bubbles

While all of this was going on at the White House, Wall Street was starting to experience the kinds of peculiarities one might expect in a market where there is something strange afoot. The one thing linking all of these odd bubbles and distortions was and is the Trump administration.

The first sign of eyebrow-raising irregularity was back in May, when Moncef Slaoui, a former longtime executive at GlaxoSmithKline, was picked to helm the White House's "Operation Warp Speed" program that is tasked with funding and accelerating the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Shortly after he was appointed, a drug company that he was invested in called Moderna announced preliminary, partial data from an early phase of its vaccine trial that said... not much. 

Before the market realized how little information was in Moderna's data the stock jumped, and Slaoui's $2.4 million investment in the company ballooned to $12.4 million. He sold his shares the next day, around the time Moderna's stock price started coming back to earth. Watchdog groups were less than pleased, and urged the SEC to investigate what happened. Slaoui still owns $10 million worth of stock in his former employer, GlaxoSmithKline, which is still raising questions.

Most recently, the Trump administration has had to pause a deal it made with Eastman Kodak, the historic but largely defunct camera maker. In August the company announced it was receiving $765 million from the government to make pharmaceutical ingredients — something it has no experience in. The deal was put together, in part, by a friend of Jared Kushner's — Adam Boehler, who joined the administration as CEO of the US International Development Finance Corporation, according to Vanity Fair. This is Boehler's first stint in the public sector.

The rollout of the deal Kodak deal was sloppy, with a local paper announcing the deal ahead of schedule. There was a bunch of weird trading around the stock at the time the deal was announced too. Worse than all that, though, was that the company's CEO got stock options right before the deal was announced. Afterward those options came to be worth around $50 million. This is what has the SEC — which brought the fewest insider trading cases in decades in 2019 — so very concerned.

Party of business or Party of Trump?

To address these and other market inconsistencies that have resulted from the pandemic, a subcommittee of the House Financial Services committee held a hearing called "Insider Trading and Stock Option Grants: An Examination of Corporate Integrity in the COVID-19 Pandemic" earlier this month.

What was shocking about the hearing was not what the witnesses said. Everyone agreed that the pandemic has created irregular conditions in the market, and that some actors are benefiting. What was strange was the petulance from Republicans who insisted — despite the strangeness of our times — that the hearing was completely unnecessary. They did not want more transparency around why, when, or how companies make disclosures related to the pandemic. They did not want there to be more scrutiny around executive share compensation.

Michigan Republican Rep. Bill Huizenga complained that "instead of playing judge, jury, and executioner in the court of public opinion" the committee should instead be helping "job creators" do more of what they're doing.

In short: Nothing to see here.

Now you may chock this up to the GOP being the "party of business," but that ignores what's going on at the root of these deals. Allowing the President's friends and inner circle to take advantage of a their information edge only helps one kind of people — the President's friends and inner circle.

To quote JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, what has made Wall Street great is that America has "the widest, deepest, most transparent capital markets" in the world." Corruption prevents that transparency, it kills capitalism. No doubt the Boy Scouts at Goldman Sachs prefer a light regulatory touch, but what House Republicans did during that hearing does not serve Wall Street, it only serves Donald Trump.

In this way the pandemic has made it clear that the GOP has a dilemma. It can be the party of Trump or the party of business, it cannot do both.

How regulators proceed will determine what the White House and its friends believe they can get away with. Already Trump has been emboldened. His attempt to ban Chinese social media app TikTok is also a clear play to enrich his friend and campaign donor, billionaire Larry Ellison. Ellison founded Oracle, which is reportedly trying to gain a lucrative contract out of the TikTok deal.

Earlier this week Expedia and IAC Chairman Barry Diller, a legendary dealmaker on Wall Street, called the deal said of the deal, "the whole thing is a crock." He called it a "political mishmash" which could set off a salvo of protectionist actions that would be hard to stop.

It's unclear if the deal would actually mollify those with national security concerns. There are still questions about where US data will be housed, and how much control US nationals would have on the board. There is no precedent for this kind of US government encroachment on a foreign technology company.  So we don't know the full details of the deal or how it'll turn out at all.

Like I said before, secrecy and opacity are a key elements of kleptocracy.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Airbus' new zero-emission concepts reveal the direction of the aviation industry's planes of the future — here's why today's aircraft aren't cutting it

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 8:22am
A rendering of Airbus' future zero-emission aircraft.
  • Airlines and aircraft manufacturers are investing millions to create truly sustainable aircraft after years of improving emissions in aircraft is proving not enough. 
  • Airbus just unveiled a fleet of zero-emission aircraft powered by hydrogen that it says may be flying by 2035.
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Japan Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic Airways are all investing in similar alternatives to today's offerings.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Airlines have long desired to end their dependency on fossil fuels but the lack of alternatives has kept them in the turbulent relationship that often wreaks havoc on the bottom line and draws scorn from environmentalists and climate activists.

Recent advances in aircraft and engine technology have made airliners more efficient but, aviation still accounts for between 2% and 3% of global emissions

Airbus just put forward plans to create a new fleet of zero-emission aircraft aimed at creating a more sustainable aviation industry. Its new hydrogen-powered planes, the manufacturer claims, could begin to replace fossil fuel guzzlers in the skies as early as 15 years. 

Sustainability in aviation has largely hit a roadblock as been dabbling in biofuel, including sustainable aviation fuel, but have been restricted by its limited availability in the marketplace. Only a few airports currently offer alternate fuel besides kerosene-based jet fuels that require additional infrastructure and commitments by airlines to use the fuel. 

Airlines and manufacturers are realizing that only a radical shift will allow aviation to become truly sustainable and are using their wallets to make it a reality. 

Here's how the aviation industry got here and why sustainability in aviation isn't as far away as we think. 

Fuel costs can make or break an airline with the volatile market a constant concern for the aviation industry. An aircraft being fueled with jet fuel. The 2000s has seen countless airlines including Aloha Airlines, SkyBus, EOS, and Germania, among others, collapse or declare bankruptcy due to rising fuel costs, especially as oil prices peaked in 2008. An Aloha Airlines Boeing 737.

Source: CNBC and The Guardian

Rising fuel prices lead to higher operating costs for airlines and some can't survive in that environment, especially during lulls in traffic, as was the case with the Trump Shuttle in the early 1990s. Donald Trump and a model of his airline's Boeing 727 aircraft.

Watch Now: The rise and fall of Donald Trump's $365 million airline

Some airlines hedge fuel, effectively pre-determining a rate for fuel, which helps mitigate any problems if the price of fuel increases. An aircraft being fueled with jet fuel. On the downside, the price of fuel can also go down and airlines that hedge miss out on those savings, as airlines saw in early 2020. The price of contracts for near-term US crude oil fell to about negative $40 during the pandemic. Aircraft efficiency in the modern era has dramatically increased, starting with the increased use of lightweight composites to build airplanes and new engines with better rates of fuel consumption. A Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Boeing is credited with kicking off the next-generation revolution with the 787 Dreamliner. A Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

Source: Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet.

Half of the aircraft's structure utilized composites and new engines from Rolls-Royce and General Electric helped increase fuel efficiency by up to 25% compared to older generation aircraft, Boeing claims. A Boeing 787 Dreamliner being constructed at Boeing's Everett, Washington plant.

Source: Boeing

Airbus soon followed with the A350 XWB. An Airbus A350-1000 XWB aircraft. Just like the Dreamliner, Airbus claims that the A350 lowers operating costs by 25% thanks to the use of composites and more fuel-efficient engines. An Airbus A350-1000 XWB aircraft.

Source: Airbus

Both aircraft are prominently featured on the list of the world's longest flights, with seven out of 10 being operated by either an Airbus A350 or Boeing 787. The first flight of a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Read More: The 10 longest routes flown by airlines in 2019

A modified Airbus A350-900 XWB also flies the current longest flight in the world between Singapore and Newark. A Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB aircraft. And Qantas plans to use the Airbus A350 to fly non-stop from Sydney to London and New York. Qantas aircraft are seen on the tarmac at Melbourne Airport. The Australian flag carrier recently opened up the sole non-stop link between the UK and Australia using a Boeing 787. A Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner. These designs have also trickled down into narrow-body aircraft including the Airbus A220... An Airbus A220 aircraft. Boeing 737 Max... A Boeing 737 MAX airplane lands after a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle. Airbus A320neo family... An Airbus A320neo in Airbus house colors. And Embraer E190-E2. An Embraer E190-E2 aircraft. Each is cheaper to operate for airlines and require less fuel, despite flying longer distances. And the lower operating costs of these aircraft have opened up previously unprofitable routes for airlines, offering more direct flights for passengers. A British Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Airlines were quick to abandon older and bulkier aircraft, like the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380, to take advantage of the economic benefits of the smaller aircraft. An Air France Airbus A380. But the aviation industry is only expected to grow, the coronavirus pandemic notwithstanding, as more travelers take to the skies every year. Serving them, while also keeping emissions down, has forced airlines and manufacturers to seek options for more sustainable flights. Airbus' new zero-emission aircraft fleet. Airbus' three designs all utilize hydrogen as fuel instead of kerosene-based products. Airbus' new zero-emission aircraft fleet. This ZEROe jet looks much like an existing Airbus A320 family aircraft with slight aerodynamic enhancements including swept-back wings. It boasts a range of around 2,000 nautical miles and capacity for up to 200 passengers. Airbus' new zero-emission aircraft fleet. Airbus would also create a propeller aircraft, similar to the ones currently being produced by ATR. Its range would be around 1,000 nautical miles with seating for up to 100. Airbus' new zero-emission aircraft fleet. The most radical design is the blended wing concept, which Airbus hinted at earlier this year with its Maveric demonstrator. Airbus' new zero-emission aircraft fleet. All would be powered by hydrogen, either by hydrogen composition or by using hydrogen and oxygen atoms to generate electricity. Airbus' new zero-emission aircraft fleet. The blended wing concept is also proving to be a new way forward as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is also investing in a blended wing design, which it calls the Flying-V. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines' Flying-V prototype.

Read More: A prototype of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines' futuristic-looking flying-wing aircraft just took its first flight in Germany — take a look at the Flying-V

It's supposed to be the same size as the Airbus A350 but able to fly further while carrying the same number of passengers. A rendering of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines' Flying-V. So far, the European airline – working with researchers and engineers at TU Delft – have only come up with a flying prototype. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines' Flying-V prototype. The US military currently employs a blended wing aircraft, the B-2 Spirit, which was designed for speed, stealth, and range. A B-2 Spirit bomber aircraft. The alien-looking bomber can fly 6,000 miles in a single flight and has an exceptional safety record, except for a 2008 incident in Guam where erroneous sensor readings caused a crash. A B-2 Spirit bomber aircraft.

Source: Stars and Stripes

Boom, the Colorado aerospace startup, is also courting airline investors for a new Concorde-like aircraft capable of breaking the sound barrier while using sustainable fuels. A rendering of the Boom Overture. Japan Airlines invested $10 million into the company while Virgin Atlantic Airways is also an investor. A rendering of the Boom Overture. The US Air Force also just issued a contract to Boom to study supersonic transportation, with possible uses for executive transport as the future Air Force One. A rendering of the Boom Overture.

Read More: The Boom Overture jet is vying to become the first supersonic Air Force One — here's an early look

The trend isn't limited to airlines with private aircraft manufacturers seeking to jump on the trend. Otto Aviation's Celera 500L. The Celera 500L currently in development by Otto Aviation boasts a fuel consumption rate of up to 25 miles per gallon with a 4,500 nautical mile range, making among the most fuel-efficient aircraft currently flying. Otto Aviation's Celera 500L.

Read More: A new single-engine plane was designed to be so efficient it can make flying private cost the same as a commercial airline – see the Celera 500L

The single-engine plane is so cheap to operate that its builders say it will make flying private comparable to the cost of flying commercial. Otto Aviation's Celera 500L. San Francisco has established itself a hub for alternate fuels by partnering Finnish supplier Neste, which recently announced a deal with Shell to produce more biofuel. San Francisco International Airport.

Source: Neste and San Francisco International Airport

JetBlue Airways announced in January that its flights from the Bay Area's largest international airport will utilize Neste's sustainable aviation fuels. A JetBlue Airways Airbus A321.

Source: JetBlue Airways

Private aircraft operators like NetJets and VistaJet are also pledging to use more sustainable aviation fuels in their operations. A private jet receiving jet fuel for its next flight. NetJets announced earlier this month that it will buy up to 3 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel at San Francisco International Airport. A NetJets Bombardier Challenger aircraft. And VistaJet also announced a commitment to make sustainable aviation fuel available globally. A VistaJet Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft. A sustainable aviation industry is on the horizon as airlines are clearly ready to abandon fossil fuels. But it will require investment at a time when airlines are losing millions and aircraft manufacturers are cutting production rates. An Airbus A350-900 XWB aircraft. With a major manufacturer and innovator like Airbus onboard, however, the possibilities are endless. An Airbus A350-900 XWB aircraft. Read the original article on Business Insider

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