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Ron DeSantis is facing another ethics complaint — this time accusing him of accepting a $235,000, 3-day retreat to the Four Seasons Palm Beach

Tue, 03/28/2023 - 2:23am
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
  • Democrat Nikki Fried filed an ethics complaint on DeSantis accusing him of "accepting prohibited gifts."
  • The complaint accused DeSantis of going on a $235,000 donor-funded retreat at the Four Seasons Palm Beach.
  • On March 14, Trump's super PAC, MAGA Inc., filed a similar ethics complaint against DeSantis.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been hit with another ethics complaint — this time, from Nikki Fried, the Democratic Party chair in Florida.

Fried tweeted a copy of her complaint on Monday. In her tweet, she accused DeSantis of improperly using funds from donors and "accepting prohibited gifts" from the DeSantis-linked political action committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis.

In her complaint to the Florida ethics commission, Fried, the state's former commissioner of agriculture, outlined what she believes to be an inappropriate use of funds from the DeSantis-linked PAC.This included, per Fried's complaint, more than $235,000 spent on a three-day retreat to the Four Seasons Palm Beach in February.

More than 150 people including DeSantis supporters and donors were invited to Florida in February for a weekend retreat, per Politico. The guest list included Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton. The event was meant to celebrate the launch of DeSantis' book, "The Courage to Be Free: Florida's Blueprint," Politico reported. 

According to campaign finance records seen by Insider, the $235,244.52 paid to the Four Season Palm Beach on February 21, 2023, was logged as an event expense. 

Fried also cited other expenses from the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC as evidence of spending that was "not primarily related to contributions, expenditures, or other political activities" allowed under state law. This included a bill from the Four Seasons Miami, and a receipt for a meal at a Miami steakhouse called the Dirty French, per Fried. 

Insider saw campaign finance records from the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC that logged a $142,388.65 payment to the Four Seasons as a meeting expense. The finance records also designated a $11,805.90 bill from the Dirty French steakhouse as a food and beverage expense. 

"Florida law prohibits Ron DeSantis or a member of his immediate family from soliciting or knowingly accepting, directly or indirectly, any gift from a political committee," Fried wrote in her complaint. 

—Nikki Fried (@NikkiFried) March 27, 2023



On March 14, Make America Great Again Inc., a super PAC linked to former President Donald Trump, filed a similar ethics complaint against DeSantis.

MAGA Inc.'s complaint accused DeSantis of soliciting and receiving "millions of dollars worth of illegal gifts in violation of Florida State ethics laws and the Florida Constitution," per a copy of the document obtained by NBC News

A DeSantis spokesperson denied both MAGA Inc. and Fried's allegations in a tweet on Monday. 

"Just like the one from two weeks ago, we'll just add this to the list of frivolous & politically motivated attacks," DeSantis' spokeswoman Taryn Fenske tweeted, responding to Fried's complaint. "Louder for the Dems in the back: It's inappropriate to use ethics complaints for partisan purposes."

DeSantis has not officially announced a 2024 presidential bid, but he will be Trump's biggest rival if he does choose to run

Fried and a spokeswoman for DeSantis did not immediately reply to Insider's requests for comment sent outside regular business hours. 

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Bitcoin and Ether are down 3% after CFTC sued Binance and its CEO over US regulatory violations

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 11:57pm
The CFTC has sued Binance and its CEO Changpeng Zhao, or CZ.
  • Cryptocurrencies are trading lower after CFTC sued major exchange Binance for regulatory violations.
  • Bitcoin and Ether are trading around $27,000 and $1,700 respectively, about 3% lower over the past 24 hours.
  • Binance called CFTC's complaint "unexpected and disappointing."

Two major cryptocurrencies — Bitcoin and Ether — are trading about 3% lower on Monday, after the Commodities Futures and Trading Commission, or CFTC, sued Binance, its CEO Changpeng Zhao, and former chief compliance officer Samuel Lim, for regulatory violations.

Bitcoin and Ether prices are around $27,000 and $1,700 per token respectively, per CoinMarketCap data. Both cryptocurrencies had hit all-time highs when they surged past $69,000 and $4,800 in November 2021.

The news also spurred ether outflows from Binance to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars over 24 hours, CoinDesk reported Tuesday, citing data from Nansen, a blockchain data analytics firm.

The US regulator said in a complaint filed in a Chicago federal court Monday that Binance breached eight provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act.

The CFTC said Binance "lucrative and commercially important 'VIP'" customers, including institutional customers in the US while disregarding registration and regulatory requirements under the US law. The federal agency is requesting the court to order monetary penalties on the exchange, as well as trading and registration bans.

Binance's Zhao wrote in a Monday blog that the CFTC's complaint was "unexpected and disappointing" as the exchange has been "working cooperatively with the CFTC for over two years."

"Upon an initial review, the complaint appears to contain an incomplete recitation of facts, and we do not agree with the characterization of many of the issues alleged in the complaint," he added.

A Binance spokesperson told Insider in an emailed response for comment late Monday that the exchange has made "significant investments" over the past two years to ensure it doesn't have active US users on its platform. Measures include ramping up its compliance team by more than seven times and spending an additional $80 million on external partners to support its compliance program.

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A breakdown of gun terminology to help you in discussions on mass shootings and debates over gun control

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 7:54pm
AR-15 rifles for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks, Pennsylvania.
  • The language surrounding firearms can be tricky.
  • "Assault weapons," for example, is among the most divisive phrases in debates over gun control. 
  • There's been a renewed discussion over gun control following recent mass shootings.

Given the ongoing and divisive debate over gun control in the US, it's helpful to understand the breakdown of some of the most important terms that frequently come up after high-profile mass shootings.

Some of these terms might appear inconsequential, but they relate strongly to discussions on what type of guns and firearm accessories might be regulated more strictly or even banned. And some in the pro-Second Amendment camp have been known to mock people calling for new gun laws when they use incorrect firearm terminology.

In the renewed discussion surrounding gun control following high-profile mass shootings in Nashville, TennesseeColorado Springs, Highland Park, Illinois, and Uvalde, Texas, familiar disagreements are arising over terminology surrounding firearms.

Here's a summary of some of the more common and contentious terms linked to guns and the broader discourse surrounding them in the US. 

Semiautomatic vs. automaticCustomers viewing semiautomatic guns on display at a gun shop in Los Angeles on December 19, 2012.

A semiautomatic firearm is a gun that fires a single round or bullet each time the trigger is squeezed or pulled and then automatically reloads the chamber between shots. 

An automatic firearm is essentially what many Americans probably think of as a machine gun, or a firearm that continuously fires while the trigger is squeezed or pulled and reloads the chamber automatically.

The vast majority of firearms in the US are semiautomatic and include rifles and handguns. Semiautomatic firearms are available across the US with few restrictions.

Automatic weapons are heavily regulated and expensive.

The manufacture and importation of new automatic firearms has been prohibited since the Firearm Owners' Protection Act of 1986. But this still allows for the purchase of automatic firearms made before a certain date in 1986, meaning automatics are technically legal in certain circumstances.

Magazine vs. clipA gun and a magazine are pictured in an evidence photo released by the Connecticut State Police on December 27, 2013.

"Magazine" and "clip" are often used interchangeably, though they aren't the same thing. 

A magazine is a container that holds cartridges or rounds of ammunition and feeds them into the firing chamber of a gun. Some magazines are internal, while others are detachable. 

A clip holds rounds of ammunition together, often on a metal strip, to be fed into a magazine. Most guns have magazines (revolvers and some types of shotguns do not), but not all firearms use clips.

Assault weaponsFrank Loane, the owner of Pasadena Pawn and Gun, in front of a wall of assault-style rifles at his store in Pasadena, Maryland, in 2013.

"Assault weapon" is among the most contentious phrases in discussions on gun control.

There's not a universal definition of what an assault weapon is, which is part of the reason this subject tends to antagonize the gun lobby or gun advocates.

But in 1994, after the now-expired assault-weapons ban passed, the Justice Department said, "In general, assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use."

The gun industry often defines an assault rifle as a firearm with select-fire capabilities, or the ability to adjust or switch the firearm between semiautomatic and automatic settings or modes.

In short, gun enthusiasts typically say a firearm should be called an assault rifle only if it's capable of fully automatic fire — and they tend to reject the term assault weapon altogether.

"None of the so-called assault rifles legally owned by US civilians are assault rifles as the term is used in military contexts," Gary Kleck, a criminal-justice professor emeritus at Florida State University, told PolitiFact.

Kleck added: "Assault rifles used by members of the military can all fire full automatic, like machine guns, as well as one shot at a time, whereas none of the so-called assault rifles legally owned by US civilians can fire full automatic."

Based on the idiosyncrasies of this issue and the broader debate surrounding it, many gun-control advocates tend to refer to semiautomatic firearms that have been used in high-profile mass shootings as "assault-style" or "military-style" weapons.

Polling has consistently shown that the vast majority of Americans would support an assault-weapons ban.

AR-15AR-15 rifles for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks, Pennsylvania, on October 6, 2017.

The AR-15 is a semiautomatic rifle and has been referred to by the National Rifle Association as "America's most popular rifle."

The "AR" in AR-15 does not stand for "assault rifle" but is linked to the original manufacturer of the firearm: ArmaLite Inc. The name stands for ArmaLite Rifle.

The AR-15 was originally developed by ArmaLite to be a military rifle, designing it for fast reloading in combat situations, but the company hit financial troubles. By 1959, ArmaLite sold the design of the AR-15 to Colt, which had success in pitching it to the US military.

The rifle's automatic version, the M-16, was used during the Vietnam War. Colt sold the semiautomatic version, the AR-15, to the public and the police.

"If you're a hunter, camper, or collector, you'll want the AR-15 Sporter," a 1963 advertisement for the firearm said.

Colt's patent on the rifle's operating system expired in 1977, opening the door for other manufacturers to copy the technology and make their own models.

The AR-15 was prohibited from 1994 to 2004 via the assault-weapons ban. Gun manufacturers promptly reintroduced the AR-15 after the ban expired, and sales went way up. 

There are "well over 11 million" AR-15 style rifles in the hands of Americans, according to an investigation by CBS News' "60 Minutes," which also notes handguns kill "far more people."

But AR-15-style rifles have frequently been used in mass shootings, placing the firearm at the center of the debate over gun control — particularly in relation to whether an assault-weapons ban should be reimposed.

High-capacity magazinesDemocratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut at a 2019 news conference on a proposed amendment to ban high-capacity magazines in guns.

High- or large-capacity magazines are typically defined as ammunition-feeding devices holding more than 10 rounds. Nine states ban high-capacity magazines.

High-capacity magazines are capable of holding up to 100 rounds of ammunition, allowing for dozens of shots to be fired off before reloading. The rifle used in a 2019 mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, was affixed with a 100-round drum magazine.

—Nick Penzenstadler (@npenzenstadler) August 4, 2019Bump stockA bump-fire stock that attaches to a semiautomatic rifle to increase the firing rate, seen at Good Guys Gun Shop in Orem, Utah, on October 4, 2017.

A bump stock is an attachment that allows a semiautomatic weapon to fire at a more rapid rate.

It replaces the standard stock of a rifle, or the part of the firearm that rests against the shoulder. A bump stock uses the recoil effect to bounce the rifle off the shoulder of the shooter, which in turn causes the trigger to quickly bump back into the shooter's trigger finger.

In effect, bump stocks allow semiautomatic weapons to fire like machine guns.

Bump stocks were banned by the Trump administration in a large part because of the Las Vegas shooting in 2017, which was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

—NPR (@NPR) March 26, 2019Red-flag lawA rally against guns and white supremacy in front of the White House in Washington, DC.

Red-flag laws, also known as Extreme Risk laws, allow judges to temporarily confiscate a person's firearms if the person is considered a danger to themself or others. 

Nineteen states and Washington, DC, have implemented some form of a red-flag law, according to Everytown for Gun Safety: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

Gun-show loopholeA customer looking over shotguns on display at the annual New York State Arms Collectors Association Albany Gun Show at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, New York, in 2013.

The so-called gun-show loophole is among the most discussed topics in relation to calls for gun-safety advocates for expanded background checks.

Gun-show loophole is a catch-all phrase referring to the sale of firearms by unlicensed, private sellers at gun shows and other venues — including the internet — without the involvement of background checks.

Federally licensed gun dealers are required to run background checks, but not all sellers are required to be licensed — laws vary by state. In this sense, there is a "loophole" that allows private sellers to sell firearms without conducting background checks.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is the federal agency that licenses gun dealers.

"As a general rule, you will need a license if you repetitively buy and sell firearms with the principal motive of making a profit," the ATF says. "In contrast, if you only make occasional sales of firearms from your personal collection, you do not need to be licensed."

The implementation of a federal law requiring universal background checks, or background checks for all gun sales, has been at the top of the wish list for gun-control advocates for years.

It's also a policy that the vast majority of Americans support. In polling conducted by Pew Research Center in late 2018, 91% of Democrats and 79% of Republicans favored background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows.

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Japan has almost completely eliminated gun deaths — here's how

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 7:52pm

  • Japan is a country of more than 127 million people, but it rarely sees more than 10 gun deaths a year.
  • Culture is one reason for the low rate, but gun control is a major one, too.
  • Japan has a long list of tests that applicants must pass before gaining access to a small pool of guns. 

A recent spate of mass shootings have prompted intensified discussions around gun control in the US. 

A 28-year-old woman opened fire at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday, killing three elementary school students and three adult staff members, according to police. The attack comes on the heels of several other mass shootings in the past year, including at a Fourth of July parade in Illinois, in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

One of the biggest questions being asked: How does the US prevent this from happening over and over again?

Although the US has no exact counterpart elsewhere in the world, some countries have taken steps that can provide a window into what successful gun control looks like. Japan, a country of 127 million people and yearly gun deaths rarely totaling more than 10, is one such country.

"Ever since guns entered the country, Japan has always had strict gun laws," Iain Overton, executive director of Action on Armed Violence, a British advocacy group, told the BBC. "They are the first nation to impose gun laws in the whole world, and I think it laid down a bedrock saying that guns really don't play a part in civilian society."

Japan is a country with regulations upon regulations

Japan's success in curbing gun deaths is intimately linked with its history. Following World War II, pacifism emerged as one of the dominant philosophies in the country. Police only started carrying firearms after American troops made them, in 1946, for the sake of security. It's also written into Japanese law, as of 1958, that "no person shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords."

The government has since loosened the law, but the fact Japan enacted gun control from the stance of prohibition is important. (It's also one of the main factors separating Japan from the US, where the Second Amendment broadly permits people to own guns.)

If Japanese people want to own a gun, they must attend an all-day class, pass a written test, and achieve at least 95% accuracy during a shooting-range test. Then they have to pass a mental-health evaluation, which takes place at a hospital, and pass a background check, in which the government digs into their criminal record and interviews friends and family. They can only buy shotguns and air rifles — no handguns — and every three years they must retake the class and initial exam.

Even Japanese riot police infrequently turn to guns, instead preferring long batons.Japan has also embraced the idea that fewer guns in circulation will result in fewer deaths. Each prefecture — which ranges in size from half a million people to 12 million, in Tokyo — can operate a maximum of three gun shops; new magazines can only be purchased by trading in empty ones; and when gun owners die, their relatives must surrender the deceased member's firearms.The role of trust can't be overstated

The result is a situation where citizens and police seldom wield or use guns.

Off-duty police aren't allowed to carry firearms, and most encounters with suspects involve some combination of martial arts or striking weapons. When Japanese attacks do turn deadly, they generally involve fatal stabbings. In July of 2016, an assailant killed 19 people in an assisted living facility. Japan rarely sees so many fatalities from guns in an entire year. 

Yet even Japan is not immune to gun violence. The assassination of former the county's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 8, 2022, shocked the nation. Abe was shot and killed by a shooting suspect wielding what appeared to be a homemade firearm constructed of metal barrels attached to wood with black tape.

Video from the moments before Abe was shot show the suspect standing close behind him with little visible security around him. 

Nancy Snow, Japan director of the International Security Industrial Council, told Insider that Japan will be "forever changed" by Abe's death. 

"When I talk about Japan changing forever — the Japanese people, it's hard to even have a conversation with them about the gun culture in the United States, without people getting viscerally upset thinking about it because they say, we're not that country," Snow said. 

Gun control in Japan, combined with the prevailing respect for authority, has led to a more harmonious relationship between civilians and the police than in the US. It's something of a chicken-egg problem: The police, in choosing to use sub-lethal force on people, generate less widespread fear among the public that they'll be shot. In turn, people feel less of a need to arm themselves.

The US, meanwhile, has a more militarized police force that uses automatic weapons and armored cars. There is also less widespread trust between people (and between people and institutions). The factors combine to produce a much fearful culture that can seem to be always on-edge.

Japan's approach would be a tough sell in the face of American gun culture, but it can provide a starting point for reining in the senseless violence that has become a hallmark of life in the US.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Google Pixel 7 Pro review: A premium phone that isn't up to par with its competitors

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 5:50pm
Google's Pixel phones are usually fantastic, but the Pixel 7 Pro fails to impress against premium phones like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus.

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  • Google's Pixel 7 Pro is a good premium Android option with a large screen if you find it with a deal.
  • The Pixel 7 Pro's cameras take great photos overall, but they produce disappointing results more often than Samsung and Apple's latest phones.
  • The Pixel 7 Pro falls short when compared to its main competitor, the Galaxy S23 Plus, in performance, longevity, and battery life.

The Pixel 7 Pro is Google's option for those who like large screens and the top hardware and features available on a phone, but at its core, it's the same phone as the smaller Pixel 7. 

As such, I'll direct you to my Pixel 7 review to get the low-down on its performance, smart features, and cameras. 

In a nutshell, the Pixel 7 Pro runs on Google's Tensor G2 processor that's fast and powerful, though not in the league of the super-powerful processors in Apple or Samsung devices. What it lacks in performance the Pixel 7 Pro makes up with smart features that actively improves camera quality and usefulness. 

The cameras are overall excellent, but it also delivered occasionally disappointing photos. No phone camera is perfect, but the Pixel 7 series proved more disappointing than Apple and Samsung's latest premium phones. 

Overall, the Pixel 7 Pro is a good phone that almost anyone would be happy with. However, Samsung's Galaxy S23 Plus looms over the Pixel 7 Pro as a stronger competitor for your hands and pockets.

What works

  • Premium design with a smooth 120Hz display
  • Excellent triple-lens cameras overall
  • Extensive smart features

What needs work

  • Camera quality can be inconsistent
  • Only three generations of Android operating system upgrades
  • Poor battery life compared to competitors
A bigger screen and three cameras for $300 more than the Pixel 7

The Pixel 7 Pro has a large 6.7-inch screen with 120Hz and a triple camera system.

For $300 more than the Pixel 7, the Pixel 7 Pro offers a larger 6.7-inch screen with a 120Hz refresh rate that's marginally smoother than the Pixel 7's 6.3-inch, 90Hz screen.

The camera system also has a third, 5x 48 megapixel zoom lens that gives it significantly more zooming versatility. The Pixel 7 Pro can take some impressively sharp and detailed photos, even at higher magnifications, like 10x. But like the Pixel 7, in certain shots, the Pro delivered more disappointing photos than the latest premium phones from Samsung and Apple.

Both Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 7 run on Google's Tensor G2 processor that's fast and powerful enough for anyone without trying to compete with the super-powerful processors in Apple or Samsung devices. What it lacks in performance the Pixel 7 Pro makes up with smart features that enhance the user experience.

Whether these upgrades are worth $300 more than the Pixel 7 is up to you, but after testing both devices, it seems like a steep premium when the regular Pixel 7 offers so much for such a good price.  

As for battery life, it's technically not as good as the Pixel 7's. The Pixel 7 Pro completed my battery test with 57% remaining, which can be considered within the margin of error compared to the Pixel 7's 60% result. Still, I'd expect better battery life from a larger phone compared to a smaller one. 

Should you buy the Pixel 7 Pro?

Google’s Pixel 7 Pro is fine, but it’s not as impressive overall as the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus.

At first glance, the Pixel 7 Pro seems to have it all: a large 6.7-inch screen, a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, a triple-lens camera, and a powerful processor. But upon closer look, it's actually not that much of an upgrade from the Pixel 7.

In addition to not offering enough of a difference between the base model, I'm struggling to find reasons to recommend the Pixel 7 Pro over the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus. While the smart features are impressive, the phone overall just isn't, and I'd still recommend the Galaxy S23 Plus first — its cameras deliver more consistent results, it has better battery life, and the S23 Plus has better longevity thanks to its more powerful processor and Samsung's longer support for the Android operating system upgrades. 

The Pixel 7 Pro can be a good option with Google's $750 deal that will last until April 23, which is $150 off its full $900 price. However, if you've set up your budget for a $1,000 phone, I'd still go for the Galaxy S23 Plus.  

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Putin has made so many nuclear threats since he invaded Ukraine that people are increasingly shrugging them off

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 5:49pm
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Eurasian Economic Summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on November 9, 2022.
  • Putin has made a lot of nuclear threats since the war in Ukraine began. 
  • But the threats appear to be carrying less and less weight. The West seems skeptical he would actually use a nuke.
  • Putin's latest threat involves moving tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a variety of nuclear threats since he launched his invasion of Ukraine last year, prompting condemnation and alarm across the world, but with each new threat, Moscow's rivals and adversaries seem to be growing increasingly skeptical that Putin would actually use such a weapon.

Over the weekend, Putin announced a plan to place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, which borders members of the EU and NATO, by summer. Tactical nuclear weapons (also known as battlefield nukes) are generally intended for use on a smaller scale at shorter ranges and are less powerful than strategic nuclear weapons. That said, tactical nuclear weapons still have the capacity to wreak havoc and kill tens of thousands of people. 

Though NATO condemned Putin's rhetoric as "dangerous and irresponsible," the alliance also said that it had "not seen any changes in Russia's nuclear posture that would lead us to adjust our own." In other words, NATO signaled that it was monitoring the situation but not taking any major steps in response. 

Similarly, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on Sunday told CBS News the White House hadn't seen anything to indicate Putin was preparing to use tactical nuclear weapons "in any way whatsoever in Ukraine."

"I can also tell you that we haven't seen anything that would cause us to change our own strategic nuclear deterrent posture," Kirby said.

Ukraine shares a border with Belarus and saw Russian troops invade via the Kremlin-allied country last year, and its foreign ministry called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in response to Putin's latest threat. But Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, also mocked Putin as "too predictable" in response to the news. 

"Making a statement about tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, [Putin] admits that he is afraid of losing & all he can do is scare with tactics," Podolyak said via Twitter.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Many top analysts largely view Putin's bombastic rhetoric on nuclear weapons as a sign of the Russian leader's frustration over how poorly the war in Ukraine has gone for Russian forces.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington-based research organization that has closely tracked the war in Ukraine and provided frequent updates, said that Putin's announcement on placing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus were part of an "information operation" and "irrelevant to the risk of escalation to nuclear war, which remains extremely low."

Putin is vying to "exploit Western fears of nuclear escalation," ISW said, adding that it continues to assess that the Russian leader is "a risk-averse actor who repeatedly threatens to use nuclear weapons without any intention of following through in order to break Western resolve."

Last year, there were serious concerns that Putin could resort to using nuclear weapons as Russia failed to reach its goals in the war. CIA Director Bill Burns last April warned that Putin might use a nuclear weapon if becomes desperate enough. But those fears have seemingly faded. On Monday, for example, nuclear expert Joseph Cirincione tweeted that he got "bumped" from a scheduled interview with Sky News to discuss Putin's nuclear threats because the network instead decided to focus on a celebrity trial involving Gwyneth Paltrow in relation to a 2016 ski accident. 

Just days before Putin said Russia would send tactical nukes to Belarus, he was hosting Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Moscow. Xi in early March also hosted Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko in Beijing. GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, who chairs the House select committee on US competition with China, on Sunday told ABC News that Putin's repeated "nuclear saber-rattling" was a concerning, but should not deter the US from continuing to arm Ukraine with vital weapons. 

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This 40-year veteran lawmaker shows top Democrats one eye-popping chart revealing her party's problem winning over the working class

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 5:48pm
Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio speaks with President Joe Biden following the State of the Union address in February 2023.
  • Democrat Rep. Marcy Kaptur is concerned that her party is losing touch with working-class voters.
  • She made a chart showing that Democrats overwhelmingly represent the wealthiest congressional districts.
  • "How is it possible that Republicans are representing the majority of people who struggle?" she said.

Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio worries that her party has become too disconnected from working-class voters — and she has a handy chart to illustrate the conundrum.

Kaptur, the longest-serving female member of Congress in American history, has represented a Toledo-area House district since 1983.

During an interview on Monday in her Capitol Hill office, the congresswoman produced a two-page chart that lists every US House district by median income in 2021, with Democratic-held districts highlighted in blue and Republican-held districts highlighted in red.

The result? A sea of blue on the first page, where the highest-earning districts can be found, and a splash of red on the second page, where the lowest-earning districts are listed.

"You could question yourself and say, well, the blue districts are the wealthiest districts, so it shows that the Democrats are doing better to lift people's incomes," said Kaptur. "The other way you could look at it is: how is it possible that Republicans are representing the majority of people who struggle? How is that possible?"

Kaptur told Insider that her office first produced a version of the chart during the last Congress, and that she was "trying to impress upon my own caucus" that Democrats overwhelmingly represent some of the wealthiest corners of America.

Exit polling from the 2020 presidential election somewhat complicates Kaptur's thesis. According to CNN, voters making less than $100,000 tended to vote for Biden, while former President Donald Trump garnered nearly 60% of voters who make between $100,000 and $199,000.

Among those making $200,000 or more, Biden and Trump were essentially tied.

Nonetheless, her chart makes clear that lower-income districts like hers tend to be represented by the GOP — and Democrats' modern-day dominance in wealthy, highly-educated enclaves has come at the expense of traditionally-Democratic constituencies elsewhere.

"It makes a difference in how you speak," said Kaptur. "My hardest struggle is to have my staff speak in a way that the public I represent will hear. For Democrats, that's very hard."

According to the chart, a digital version of which was provided to Insider by her office, the Ohio congresswoman's district clocks in at number 341 with a median income of $57,732, according to US Census data.

By contrast, many other well-known Democrats represent higher-earning districts. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco district, for example, is the 7th-wealthiest in the country.

"I'm not saying Nancy Pelosi didn't live struggle," said Kaptur. "But you have such a different perspective on where you need to move to help your communities, right?"

"There's an elitism that pervades when you have wealth," she added.

Kaptur has given a version of the chart to President Joe Biden, and says she presented the document to members at a recent caucus meeting. According to her, Democrats ranging from House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries down to rank-and-file lawmakers are often taken aback by the visual.

"And then they're quiet, and they just study it," she said. "I don't know where it takes us, except I hope to a more enlightened future."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump ally and ex-National Enquirer publisher David Pecker testified Monday before the NY hush-money grand jury

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 5:36pm
  • David Pecker testified Monday before the Trump hush-money grand jury in Manhattan.
  • The former Trump ally and ex-publisher of the National Enquirer may be the panel's last witness.
  • Pecker's testimony was first reported by the New York Times.

The grand jury weighing the Trump hush-money case in Manhattan heard testimony by one-time Trump ally and former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker on Monday, the New York Times reported.

Pecker testified for about 90 minutes at the lower Manhattan building where the panel meets; Insider can confirm that he arrived and left in a car driven by district attorney staff.  

The panel is weighing charges against former President Donald Trump in connection with a $130,000 payment on the brink of the 2016 presidential election.

The payment purchased a contractual promise of silence from adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who was shopping around her account of having a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, federal prosecutors have said. 

Trump has denied a sexual encounter with Daniels and any wrongdoing in the hush-money matter.

The ex-publisher was one of the first witnesses to testify before the grand jury, and he is expected to be among its last.

Star prosecution witness Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and "fixer," had believed he would be the final witness after spending two days testifying before the grand jury in mid-March.

But since then, there was testimony last Monday by a surprise defense rebuttal witness, former Cohen legal advisor Robert Costello. The grand jury did not meet the rest of last week.

Pecker's role in buying and suppressing negative stories to protect Trump, his friend, was described in federal court papers in 2018 and was likely central to his grand jury testimony.

The details of Pecker's so-called "catch and kill" efforts on behalf of Trump were part of the 2018 federal case against Cohen, who pleaded guilty to fronting the $130,000 payment to Daniels. Federal prosecutors called the payment an illegal campaign contribution designed to influence the election by burying Daniels' potentially damaging account.

The ex-publisher "offered to help deal with negative stories about (Trump's) relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided," court papers said at the time.

Trump was reportedly in the room in 2015 when Cohen discussed hush-money payments with Pecker.

The grand jury is expected to reconvene on the hush-money matter Wednesday afternoon.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump touts Twitter poll from '@catturd2' showing him with a big lead over Ron DeSantis

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 5:34pm
Former U.S. President Donald Trump.
  • Trump touted a Twitter poll conducted by "@catturd2" showing him with a strong lead over DeSantis.
  • A pro-Trump super PAC also reshared the poll on Monday, tweeting, "New poll results from @catturd2."
  • @catturd2 quoted the tweet shortly after and added, "HAHAHA."

Former President Donald Trump touted an unverified Twitter poll at a rally held in Waco, Texas, over the weekend. The poll, conducted by the pro-Trump Twitter user "@catturd2," claims to show Trump with a strong lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of the 2024 race. 

"You'll see some numbers that are incredible," Trump told the crowd at the rally. "We just had one today — 69 [percent] for Trump, and I think 18 or 19 for 'DeSanctimonious.'"

—pudding person (@JUNlPER) March 26, 2023

MAGA Inc., the new super PAC associated with Trump, reposted the poll to Twitter on Monday. According to a photo attached to the tweet, @catturd2 conducted the poll on March 22.

"New poll results from @catturd2," the tweet said.

—MAGA War Room (@MAGAIncWarRoom) March 27, 2023

Shortly after MAGA Inc. reposted the poll, @catturd2 quoted the tweet and wrote, "HAHAHA."

Both accounts are verified because they're subscribed to Twitter Blue.

"It doesn't matter who does the poll--whether from Monmouth, Morning Consult, Harvard/Harris, or @Catturd2 -- President Donald Trump is dominating the field and dominating every poll," Alex Pfeiffer, a representative for MAGA Inc., told Insider in a statement.

@catturd2 has a long history of supporting Trump, spreading pro-Trump conspiracy theories, and amplifying his most ardent followers. That's according to Rolling Stone, which published a lengthy profile of the Twitter user, who lives in Florida, last month.

The former president has also taken notice of the user, who is among Trump's most prolific fans on the internet.

After @catturd2 tweeted last April that he had been hospitalized, Trump sent him a signed note with the tweet printed on it and wrote, "C — Get Better Soon."

—Catturd ™ (@catturd2) May 13, 2022

Monday's tweet from MAGA Inc. came as Trump has ramped up his criticisms of DeSantis, who's widely expected to launch his own presidential campaign in the coming months.

In addition to lambasting DeSantis' record as Florida's governor, the former president frequently refers to his one-time ally as "Ron DeSanctimonious." Last week, Trump's team called DeSantis "Rob" in a press release, though a spokesperson later said that it was merely quoting a Daily Mail headline.

And according to Bloomberg, Trump is also workshopping other nicknames for DeSantis ahead of the GOP primary debates, including "Tiny D," "Ron DisHonest," and "Ron DeEstablishment."

DeSantis, meanwhile, has largely refrained from making personal attacks against Trump and brushed off his barbs.

"I don't really know what it means, but I kinda like it, it's long, it's got a lot of vowels," DeSantis recently told the New York Post of his "Ron DeSanctimonious" nickname.

"We'll go with that, that's fine," he added. "I mean, you can call me whatever you want, just as long as you also call me a winner because that's what we've been able to do in Florida, is put a lot of points on the board and really take this state to the next level."

And as Trump faces a possible indictment from the Manhattan district attorney's office over a $130,000 hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, DeSantis has accused the DA, Alvin Bragg, of prosecutorial overreach. But he also threw in a thinly veiled insult aimed at the former president.

"I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair," DeSantis said last week. "I just I can't speak to that."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Former Tucker Carlson producer says Fox News lawyers coerced her into saying coworkers were trustworthy: 'They're activists, not journalists'

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 5:11pm
Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
  • Ex-Fox News staffer Abby Grossberg says she gave false answers in a deposition for Dominion's lawsuit.
  • Fox lawyers coached her to stay away from certain topics, she alleges in a suit of her own.
  • Some Fox News producers are "activists, not journalists," she said in a revised deposition.

A former Fox News producer alleged in a lawsuit that Fox News attorneys "coerced" and "intimidated" her into giving false testimony for Dominion Voting Systems' blockbuster lawsuit against the right-wing media organization.

In an updated version of her lawsuit against the company filed to New York federal court Monday, Abby Grossberg says she received "coaching" from Fox News's lawyers to not name specific male executives, give misleading answers about how Fox News viewed the importance of ratings, and answer questions as "evasively" as possible.

Grossberg submitted a revised version of the answers for her deposition, taken for Dominion's lawsuit, in a parallel court case in Delaware also on Monday. In the new answers, she said that she falsely answered "yes" when asked if she trusted all the producers at Fox News.

"No, I don't trust all producers at Fox News," she said in her revised answer, adding: "They're activists, not journalists and impose their political agendas on the programming."

Grossberg began working at Fox News starting in 2019, first for a show hosted by Maria Bartinoro and later for Tucker Carlson. In the New York and Delaware lawsuits filed last week, she alleges the conservative media network discriminated against her because of her sex.

The New York lawsuit alleges that Fox News executives and producers denied her promotions and salary adjustments that would bring her in line with male colleagues. It also claims that the production of "Tucker Carlson Tonight" was rife with sexism. A revealing photo of Nancy Pelosi hung in the office, and producers talked about the "fuckability" of female guests, the lawsuit alleged. In another section of the lawsuit, Grossberg alleges a producer on Carlson's show repeatedly made antisemitic remarks.

In a revised answer to her Dominion deposition, Grossberg maintains that she feared speaking out against the behavior of Carlson and his staff, writing that she was resigned to having "endure abhorrent discrimination and misogynist remarks on a regular basis for quite some time simply to move ahead at the Network."

A spokesperson for Fox News told Insider that Grossberg's legal filings made false claims about the company.

"We will continue to vigorously defend Fox against Ms. Grossberg's unmeritorious legal claims, which are riddled with false allegations against Fox and our employees," the spokesperson said.

Grossberg says Fox News lawyers shaped her deposition testimony

Grossberg's litigation comes as Dominion's lawsuit against Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corporation, hurtles toward trial, scheduled to begin on April 17.

Dominion alleges that Fox News defamed the election technology company when it hosted Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, two conspiracy theorist lawyers who falsely said Dominion manipulated vote results to favor now-President Joe Biden rather than then-President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Fox News says Dominion's lawsuit is an attempt to "trample on free speech and freedom of the press."

Grossberg was deposed for the lawsuit on September 14, 2022. When excerpts of it became public in court filings, other media organizations "called, and continue to call, into question Ms. Grossberg's ethics as a journalist and her professional judgment" — even though she doesn't stand by her answers, the New York lawsuit says.

In the deposition, for instance, Grossberg answered "No" when a Dominion attorney asked if it was important to correct untrue statements on her show. Grossberg only gave that answer because of coaching from Fox News lawyers, the lawsuit says. In her revised deposition, Grossberg answers that Bartiromo — one of the Fox News hosts who platformed Powell — has a "responsibility to push back against untrue statements with fact."

A view of the Fox logo outside the News Corp Building in New York in March.

Dominion has alleged that Fox News endorsed lies about the 2020 election because it was worried about low ratings compared to Newsmax, another right-wing media organization, which had spiking viewership while Trump contested the election results — a claim Fox News says is without merit.

In Monday's filing in the New York case, Grossberg says in her deposition she shied away from telling the truth about how Fox News viewed ratings.

"Ms. Grossberg felt that she was being intimidated and coerced by the Fox News Attorneys and left with the impression she had to also downplay the importance of show ratings at Fox News, as this would suggest a motive for why Fox News had allowed the stories about Dominion to go on air in the first place," the new filing says. "In reality, Ms. Grossberg knew that Ms. Bartiromo was 'obsessed' with ratings and immediately analyzed them upon their weekly release, demonstrating how important ratings were at Fox News."

Grossberg further alleges witnessing a colleague engage in plagiarism, undermining her faith in her colleagues' professional abilities. And in a revised answer to her deposition, she alleged that Fox leadership did not subject claims about Dominion and voter fraud to the same editorial standards as other controversial issues.

Typically, when a Fox News host was about to "air/endorse questionable content" in a pre-taped segment, a higher-up would review it and press to see the underlying sources. "That did not happen with respect to Dominion-related reporting," Grossberg claims.

Leadership also intervened to protect Rudy Giuliani, despite his many false statements about the 2020 election, she alleges, claiming that a superior, David Clark, had "texted me that we could 'keep' Giuliani in our lineup meaning that Giuliani had been cleared on a corporate level to keep appearing on TV unfiltered." Clark's "only concern," Grossberg claims, was that the former New York City mayor "might criticize Fox News" over its calling the state of Arizona for now-President Biden.

Tucker Carlson.

Fox News fired Grossberg on Friday after she filed her lawsuits last week. The company filed a lawsuit against her in New York state court, seeking an order that would keep her claims out of the public eye.

"Last week, our attorneys advised Ms. Grossberg that, while she was free to file whatever legal claims she wished, she was in possession of our privileged information and was not authorized to disclose it publicly. We were clear that if she violated our instructions, Fox would take appropriate action including termination," a Fox representative told Insider. "Ms. Grossberg ignored these communications and chose to file her complaint without taking any steps to protect those portions containing Fox's privileged information."

Parisis G. Filippatos, a lawyer for Grossberg, called the firing "retaliatory."

"The frivolous litigation tactics by Fox News punctuate its blatant disregard for the law, which is further underscored by the Company's recent retaliatory firing of Ms. Grossberg," he said in a statement.

A representative for Dominion declined to comment.

Grossberg's deposition in the case was originally scheduled to take place in August of 2022 but was delayed a month.

Unlike other colleagues, Grossberg alleges, she wasn't given the chance to review a copy of her deposition and modify her answers before excerpts became public in court filings.

"Ms. Grossberg waited for months to be contacted by any of the Fox News Attorneys regarding her opportunity to review her transcript, but heard nothing from them, nor was she provided the opportunity to even read, much less correct and sign, the transcript of her deposition," the lawsuit alleges.

She believes that her deposition was delayed because Fox News's lawyers wanted to coach her further, according to the suit.

"They were displeased with the forthcoming and candid answers she had provided during her prior two prep sessions, and that the Fox News Attorneys needed more time with her to make sure she got her story straight and in line with the Company's position," the lawsuit says.

Now that Grossberg has been fired she "will never testify on behalf of Fox News in the trial" against Dominion, the lawsuit says.

"She will only voluntarily testify – if at all – on behalf of Dominion," the lawsuit says.

Read the original article on Business Insider

OpenAI's ambitious master plan to conquer rivals like Google in the AI race hinges on pure speed

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 5:10pm
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman isn't shy about hyping up the power and potential of its ChatGPT chatbot. Its relentless pace of new feature releases show how speed is core to its strategy.
  • OpenAI has kept up a relentless pace with new features and releases since ChatGPT released last year.
  • Moving fast looks to be the core of OpenAI's ambitious strategy to become the number one name in AI.
  • Competitors scramble to get a piece of the attention paid to OpenAI, often with some difficulty. 

If you've ever wanted to use ChatGPT to plan your vacation or craft a response to a coworker, now's the time. OpenAI last week announced the launch of plugins, allowing  ChatGPT to integrate with apps from Klarna, Expedia, and Slack, among others. 

But more than a means to expand the dataset to be read by ChatGPT, this move by OpenAI shows how aggressive the company is in its ambition to grow and become the leader in the generative AI space. 

The company is now laying the groundwork for everyone to use ChatGPT in their daily lives, whatever they want to do it with in work and play. And, importantly, OpenAI wants — or, perhaps needs — the other much faster than its competitors can. 

Because while Google, Amazon, and just about everybody else is getting in on the generative AI gold rush, OpenAI is clearly banking that its speed is the advantage it needs in the fight for market share against those larger rivals.

Speed is key to OpenAI's approach

By now, everyone knows OpenAI, thanks to the smash almost-overnight success of ChatGPT. The chatbot kickstarted an avalanche of discussion around the future of work, AI ethics, and changing the dynamic of the tech workforce

This wasn't always the case. 

OpenAI was founded in 2015 by current CEO Sam Altman, Elon Musk, and others. Musk left the board in 2018 and has since been an outspoken critic of OpenAI. It began as a non-profit entity but controversially transformed into a for-profit one in 2019. 

Over the past several years, OpenAI started quietly releasing AI tools and models, including DALL-E, which turns text prompts into images. The company's profile got much higher after last year's release of ChatGPT, which was so popular that it kicked off a huge investment across the industry in so-called generative AI.

OpenAI moved quickly to capitalize on ChatGPT's success: Within the last few months, it announced a blockbuster partnership with Microsoft to bring the GPT technology to the Bing search engine, followed by the launch of a paid "Pro" version of ChatGPT, and most recently the plugin store.

That pace has proven tough for companies like Google to keep up with, even as the industry chatter has largely tuned in to the idea that ChatGPT could eat away at the search engine market.

OpenAI's ambition is clear: it wants to be the first name in AI, and everyone else just has to follow. 


The hype cycle at OpenAI serves a purpose.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has not shied away from hyping up his products. So it's no surprise the company moves more aggressively than many of its competitors. Its shipping cycles tend to be faster than most, and it makes quick business partnership decisions. This approach has some merit, as others now have to keep up with OpenAI instead of the other way around. 

Google released its ChatGPT competitor Bard quickly — some might say too fast. But early users say its version lacks the robustness of ChatGPT. Other companies are just now coming out with their own language models, and even Musk himself wants to build an AI to challenge his former company. 

Moving fast is OpenAI's strategy, and now that the basic structures of ChatGPT and the DALL-E text-to-image tool have been built, it can focus on improving it and making it more powerful. Much of the process to improve its AI models is to let it connect to more data sources than ever before. 

Allowing brands like Instacart and Shopify to connect to ChatGPT lets OpenAI not only see how the language model works with real-time requests too recent to include in its training data but also brings the technology to the core of popular apps. OpenAI said it plans to bring plugins to more developers soon. 

To be sure, success is far from guaranteed. The history of tech is riddled with first-movers who had the right idea but were then pushed out by larger or more innovative competitors. 

But OpenAI isn't waiting around: it wants to move fast, and its ambition stretches beyond just improving ChatGPT and its other AI models. For now, that strategy seems to be working.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Coinbase is encouraging developers to work on 'flatcoins' that will keep pace with inflation

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 5:00pm
Coinbase Global watch as their listing is displayed on the Nasdaq MarketSite at Times Square in New York on April 14, 2021.
  • In a recent blog post, Coinbase encouraged developers to work on "flatcoins" that keep pace with inflation.
  • The tokens will enable users to "have stability in purchasing power while also having resiliency from the economic uncertainty caused by the legacy financial system."
  • Billionaire investor Ray Dalio is one high-profile name who's backed the idea of an inflation-linked coin in the past.

In a recent blog postCoinbase encouraged developers to work on inflation-linked "flatcoins."

The tokens will enable users to "have stability in purchasing power while also having resiliency from the economic uncertainty caused by the legacy financial system," the release said.

The crypto exchange said Friday that it's made the inflation-pegged tokens one of its four main priorities for Base, a network it launched last month where developers can build decentralized blockchain applications.

"We… are particularly interested in 'flatcoins' – stablecoins that track the rate of inflation, enabling users to have stability in purchasing power while also having resiliency from the economic uncertainty caused by the legacy financial system," Coinbase said in its statement.

"With the recent challenges in our global banking system, we believe these explorations are more important than ever," the exchange added, referring to the turmoil that's rocked the global banking sector since Silicon Valley Bank collapsed earlier this month.

Stablecoins are crypto tokens that derive their value from another asset. Flatcoins are hypothetical stablecoins that would keep pace with the rate of inflation, rather than fiat currencies like the US dollar or the euro or precious metals like gold or silver.

Inflation surged to four-decade highs last year amid supply-chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 and as Russia's invasion of Ukraine squeezed commodity markets. 

The Federal Reserve responded by aggressively raising interest rates – which has cratered the value of stocks, bonds, and cryptocurrencies as well as fueling the collapse of high-profile companies like SVB and FTX.

Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio – who's slammed other cryptocurrencies like bitcoin in the past – is one big name who's previously backed the idea of a flatcoin, which he's suggested as an alternative to bonds that pay out a yield in line with inflation.

"I think that what would really be best is an inflation-linked coin," the billionaire investor told CNBC's "Squawk Box" last month.

"The closest thing to that is an inflation index bond, but if you created a coin that says OK this is buying power that I know I can save in and put my money in over a period of time and transact in anywhere, I think that would be a good coin," Dalio added.

As well as building flatcoins, Coinbase's priorities for its Base network are to develop blockchain-based reputation and limited order book systems and to build tools that make the decentralized finance (DeFi) space safer, the exchange said in its Friday blog post.

Editors note: A previous version of this story said Coinbase was developing flatcoins. It has been corrected to say that the company was instead encouraging builders to develop them.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Here are all 31 new emoji you can use on your iPhone now with Apple's iOS 16.4 update, including a shaking face, a donkey, and a long-awaited pink heart

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 4:52pm
Apple's iOS 16.4 update, which came out Monday, brings 31 new emoji to your fingertips.
  • A new slate of emoji is now at your fingertips thanks to Apple's release of iOS 16.4 on Monday.
  • The 31 additions include a shaking head, a donkey, and hands that either express approval or disapproval, depending on how you look at them.
  • Take a look at each of them below.

A new batch of emoji is now available to Apple device users, and it includes some interesting additions.

Apple released the iOS 16.4 update on Monday, and with it comes a slate of 31 new emoji. Among them are a donkey, some maracas, and hands that could take on a few different meanings, depending on how you look at them.

Here's a look at all 31 new emoji:


1. Shaking face2. Light blue heart3. Gray heart4. Pink heart5-10. Rightwards pushing hand in varied skin tones11-16. Leftwards pushing hand in varied skin tones17. Moose18. Donkey19. Wings20. Black bird21. Goose22. Jellyfish23. Hyacinth24. Ginger25. Pea pod26. Folding hand fan27. Hair pick28. Maracas29. Flute30. Khanda31. Wireless internet signalRead the original article on Business Insider

See inside a few of the coolest offices in North America, where frozen yogurt is served out of Airstreams and conference rooms have holograms. Should your office be on the list? Let us know.

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 4:35pm
At T-Mobile's Bellevue, Washington, office, frozen yogurt is served out of an Airstream trailer.
  • Office use on average is around 50% of prepandemic levels in major cities like New York.
  • Employers are responding with amped up perks and spaces that allow for hybrid work.
  • From an Airstream trailer serving frozen yogurt to fort-like meeting rooms, see a few office perks.

The office is under siege.

Office usage on average is around 50% of prepandemic levels in 10 major US cities tracked by Kastle Systems, which measures security card swipes into buildings, according to the Wall Street Journal. At the same time, employee engagement in work and the workplace has been declining since 2020, according to an annual Gallup poll that measures involvement and enthusiasm in the workplace.

It's a reckoning for large companies that continue to spend millions of dollars leasing office space, much of which goes unused. Some companies, in a bid to win remote workers back to in-person, are pulling out the stops with unusual perks and offering spaces that emulate the work-from-home atmosphere while fostering the collaboration that offices are meant for. 

From T-Mobile's Airstream that's used as a frozen yogurt serving station in Bellevue, Washington, to Pinterest's speakeasy-like work room in Toronto, Canada, companies are showing that they're willing to use innovation and gimmicks to lure people back in. Take a peek at a few of the offices that are pulling ahead of the pack.

If your office opened after 2020 and you think it should be on this list, email reporter Jordan Pandy at


Pinterest's Toronto office features a variety of different meeting spaces.

This one, for example, was designed by Gensler to capture the experience of glamping. 

The office is spread across three floors and has unique breakout areas throughout — like this speakeasy-style meeting room.

Gensler took cues from "favorite Canadiana pastimes" when designing the Toronto office.

T-Mobile's headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, has two floors of amenities — one with an Airstream serving frozen yogurt.The campus also features outdoor spaces with seating, games, and work pods.

Outdoor spaces have become a must-have element for offices, as open-air concerns have become more prevalent due to the pandemic — plus people like to take a breath of fresh air during the day.

Insight's headquarters in Chandler, Arizona, has meeting rooms with digital smartboards and writable walls.

The technology helps the software company's 1,400 Arizona employees collaborate in a hybrid-work office. There's also plenty of spaces for informal gatherings.

The Savoy Club in Manhattan's General Motors Building is a 35,000-square-foot amenity area for workers.

The club opened in March, allowing employees of Estee Lauder and law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges, among other building tenants, to take advantage of its fitness and health center, cafeteria, and conferencing suite.

The fitness center even comes with legit locker rooms equipped with pricey Dyson hairdryers.An office building in Brooklyn also offers a fitness center for all building tenants.

Tenants of 25 Kent, including Amazon Music and streetwear brand Kith, also have access to a communal roof deck overlooking Manhattan, scooter rentals, and storage for up to 150 bikes with an on-site repair shop for them.

Swedish developer Skanska is building its first Los Angeles office building in Beverly Hills.

Skanska has yet to announce the building's tenant, but it will open this summer.

9000 Wilshire includes outdoor workspaces, operable windows, and views from the rooftop deck.Some companies are reimagining what offices can do. Cisco is developing a holographic component to its Webex meeting service.

With a Microsoft HoloLens headset on, employees will be able to conduct meetings in a holographic, 3D environment. It's a technology that could make its way into many offices, not just Cisco's.

Open-plan offices mean more demand for places to conduct sensitive phone calls or meetings. Office-furniture startup Room makes modular meeting spaces for one or a handful of people.

Room, which has sold wares to Google, Uber, and NASA, told Insider in December that its best-selling product is a $5,995 soundproof videoconferencing phone booth for solo calls.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump rape case: After years of back and forth over Trump's DNA, jurors won't even hear about it

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 4:26pm
Donald Trump and E. Jean Carroll
  • A judge ruled Monday that DNA evidence can't be mentioned at Trump's upcoming rape trial. 
  • E. Jean Carroll sued Trump for defamation and battery over her claim he raped her in the mid-1990s. 
  • The case is headed to trial in Manhattan federal court next month. 

The judge presiding over E. Jean Carroll's rape and defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump has banned lawyers from even mentioning DNA evidence in front of the jury when the case goes to trial next month. 

US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled Monday that both sides would be "precluded from any testimony, argument, commentary or reference concerning DNA evidence" during the trial, which is scheduled to begin April 25. 

Kaplan's order brings to an end a yearslong fight between Trump and his rape accuser over DNA on the dress she says she was wearing when she alleges Trump assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid-1990s.

Carroll's lawyers had the dress sent out for forensic testing when she sued Trump in 2019, and unidentified male skin fragments were found. Carroll's lawyers asked Trump to submit a DNA sample to test against the samples found on the dress, but for years, he refused.

A picture of E. Jean Carroll's dress included in the lab report.

When Trump brought Joe Tacopina onto the case earlier this year, the new attorney made a last-minute offer to submit Trump's DNA sample. But the discovery period to exchange evidence had already passed, and Kaplan denied the offer, writing that Trump made "no persuasive reason" for not submitting his DNA in a timely manner and that he "failed to demonstrate good cause to reopen discovery." 

While DNA evidence was thrown out of the case, Trump's lawyers continued to fight for the chance to question Carroll about her comments insinuating she had DNA evidence to prove her sexual-assault claim.

In 2021, Carroll tweeted about Trump's mounting legal issues, writing, "Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan District Attorney, has Trump's taxes. Fani Willis, the Georgia Prosecutor, has Trump's phone call. Mary Trump has her grandfather's will. And I have the dress. Trump is basically in deep shit."

She also acknowledged in her deposition that she publicly claimed to have Trump's DNA.

Alina Habba, one of Trump's attorneys, argued in a motion last month that the defense is entitled to question Carroll "with respect to the fact that she publicly, and falsely, proclaimed that she was in possession of Defendant's DNA" to support their argument that Carroll "manufactured her defamation claim for the purpose of garnering publicity."

In his ruling Monday, Kaplan refuted that Carroll's statement was false since the dress was never tested, and Trump's DNA could very well be on it. He also said bringing up DNA at trial would be "distracting and needlessly confusing for the jury, and ultimately would not contribute materially to a fair result in this case."

Attorneys for Trump and Carroll declined to comment when reached by Insider on Monday. 

Carroll first sued Trump for defamation in 2019, when he loudly denied her rape claim in statements to the press, calling her a liar and saying she made up the story to sell her memoir. That lawsuit has been put on hold while an appeals court determines whether Trump can even be sued in that case. Trump is arguing that a federal law protects him from being sued for comments he made while president. 

Late last year, Carroll filed a second lawsuit against Trump for defamation and battery. It is headed for trial on April 25. The defamation claim centers on comments Trump made after leaving the White House. Carroll was also able to sue for battery after New York passed a law temporarily allowing plaintiffs to bring sexual assault lawsuits after the statute of limitations had expired.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Why Israelis are protesting Netanyahu's judicial overhaul plan

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 4:22pm
  • Protests erupted in Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister.
  • Yoav Gallant was the first cabinet member to express opposition to Netanyahu's judicial overhaul.
  • Netanyahu announced on Monday he is delaying the plan.

Protests erupted in Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister, who opposed Netanyahu's judicial overhaul plan.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Paleontologists explain the most glaring errors in Adam Driver's new dinosaur film '65'

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 4:17pm
Despite all we now know about dinosaurs, "65" gets a lot wrong.
  • Adam Driver stars in a new film "65," which takes place 65 million years ago.
  • The problem with that is archeological records show that dinosaurs were probably all dead by then.
  • Even if they were alive, they wouldn't look like what the film depicts.

In the latest dinosaur movie "65", Adam Driver plays a man from another planet who crash lands on Earth 65 million years ago.

As he scrambles to get himself and the only other survivor of the crash, a young girl, back home, he battles dinosaurs for survival.

It grabs the audience's imagination, propelling viewers to a world where humans encounter majestic creatures.

But like other Hollywood portrayals of dinosaurs, "65" gets several dinosaur facts wrong, according to paleontologists.

The film's title is off my a million yearsThere were probably no dinosaurs around 65 million years ago.

Let's start with the title: "65" — named for when the film takes place 65 million years ago. In the film, Driver's character is racing against time because of the impending asteroid strike that wiped out all the dinosaurs.

But scientists no longer think this asteroid hit 65 million years ago. In 2012, the International Commission for Stratigraphy updated the asteroid strike and subsequent end of the Cretaceous Period to be around 66 million years ago, not 65.

"The title speaks to how outdated information can get deeply engrained," said Micahel Habib, an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a research associate at the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

"It would be amusing, though probably not very exciting, to see Adam Driver show up 65 million years ago when there would be very little in the way of wildlife that could cause him serious harm, much less eat him," he added.

Dinosaurs had feathersAll large carnivorous dinosaurs walked on two legs.

When the original "Jurassic Park" film debuted in 1993, the dinosaurs resembled what scientists knew about them at the time, said Danny Anduza, a dinosaur paleontologist who spoke about "65" on his Twitch channel devoted to paleontology.

But in the 30 years since "Jurassic Park", new research has painted a different picture of what dinosaurs looked like and how they lived, Anduza said.

"One of the major things '65' could have gotten right and would have made paleontologists like me and people who love dinosaurs very happy is if they'd actually put feathers on some of them," Anduza said.

One example is Deinonychus — a bird-like dinosaur that resembles a Velociraptor that shows up in the film.

"We've known for about 20 years that these animals were totally coated with feathers. They would have looked like big, weird, scary ground-running birds," Anduza said. "So it's just kind of frustrating that these movies are still out of date."

Dinosaurs don't look like thatThe dinosaurs in "65" feel more like made-up monsters than animals that actually lived on Earth at one point in time.

A few of the frightening creatures Driver's character encounters don't appear to be real dinosaurs at all, which is a shame since there are over 700 species of real dinosaur species from archeological records the film's producers could have chosen. It'd even be understandable if they picked something from the wrong time period, so long as it was an accurate portrayal.

Some scenes feature long-legged crocodile-like creatures, which appear to be "made up just for the movie," Anduza said. At the end of the film, Driver's character fights with what appears to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but with four legs.

"That is completely unlike anything we know from the fossil record," Anduza said. "All big meat-eating dinosaurs walked on two legs."

There are likely many reasons for these inaccuracies, Habib said, including the need to entertain audiences with creatures that seem other-worldly.

It's a movie, not a science lectureThe film "65" has a 64% audience score on rotten tomatoes, so even if it got the science wrong, it managed to entertain some folks.

At the end of the day, films like "65" are meant to entertain, not teach a science lesson.

"As a scientist, especially a paleontologist, I'm kind of grateful that Hollywood takes an interest in paleontology," Bruce Lieberman, a paleontologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Kansas, told Insider. "It can inspire kids or adults to become more interested in paleontology and science. And then maybe they'll be the ones to go out, research, and learn how Hollywood wasn't totally right."

But Anduza said accurate portrayals of dinosaurs are important because understanding how dinosaurs lived, and the ways they are connected to animals today, can help humans better understand the history of our planet and our place in it.

"One of the really cool things about paleontology is that it provides a perspective that is really valuable," Anduza said. "Just like looking up at the night sky, seeing these distant stars and feeling very small. You can hold a fossil in your hand that's 150 million years old. And suddenly, your world expands."

We'll let you decide whether scientific accuracy really matters here. The film has a 65% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Read the original article on Business Insider

US stocks trade mixed as bank fears ebb with sale of SVB assets to First Citizens

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 4:10pm
  • US stocks traded mixed on Monday as markets assessed the latest banking sector news. 
  • Reports over the weekend of further government support for banks sent shares higher on Monday. 
  • A Senate hearing on the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank is slated for this week. 

US stocks were mixed on Monday as markets assessed the the sale of Silicon Valley Bank's assets to First Citizens Bank and digested reports of potentially more aid for banks from the government. 

Major indexes were mostly higher throughout the day on Monday, with the Nasdaq giving up gains to end in the red. 

First Citizens will acquire $72 billion of Silicon Valley Bank's assets for a $16.5 billion discount. The news spurred a rebound in regional bank stocks, which have been under pressure since SVB imploded earlier this month.

Also helping bank shares was a report from Bloomberg over the weekend that more government support could be offered to banks in part to help First Republic further stabilize. Shares of the California-based lender climbed 27% in early morning trading to end the day 12% higher. PacWest rose as much as 10% in the early morning, ending about 3% higher.

The Senate Banking Committee us set to hold a hearing on the recent banking sector turmoil on Tuesday. Eyes are also on key economic data releases this week, with investors expecting the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence report to roll out on Wednesday, and the Personal Consumption Expenditures index–the Fed's preferred inflation measure—to come out on Friday.

Here's where US indexes stood shortly after the close at 4:00 p.m. on Monday:

Here's what happened today:

In commodities, bonds and crypto:

  • West Texas Intermediate crude oil jumped 5.41% to $73.01 per barrel. Brent crude, oil's international benchmark, rose 4.23% to $78.16.
  • Gold fell 1.3% to $1,958.10 per ounce.
  • The yield on the 10-year Treasury surged 16 basis points to 3.54%.
  • Bitcoin fell 2.68% to $27,079.33.
Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump's Waco rally fans take his word as gospel and can't fathom voting for anyone else: 'Whatever he says is just golden for me'

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 4:08pm
Former US President Donald Trump points to crowd members before taking the stage at a 2024 campaign rally at the Waco Regional Airport on March 25, 2023 in Waco, Texas.
  • Many attendees at Trump's weekend rally in Waco said they'll support him no matter what.
  • The embattled former president is running for the 2024 nomination while under investigation.
  • "All the solutions we need are strictly Donald J. Trump," one diehard fan told Insider.

WACO, Texas — Baking in the central Texas sun for hours on end struck Jason as a small price to pay for the chance to bask in his hero's presence. 

"I"m just waiting for Trump," the Waco resident, who declined to give his last name, told Insider.

The first-time rallygoer joined a sea of like-minded admirers, some of whom spent over 12 hours wandering around the heat-reflecting tarmac at Waco's regional airport. They all gathered to hear the embattled former president officially begin his 2024 campaign. 

Because it was his first visit to the immediate area, mutiple attendees told Insider they had to be there, hailing it as the "opportunity of a lifetime" and "a dream come true."

Nothing was going to turn back the Trump faithful. Not the mile-plus hike many participants had to make to the airport as police turned back drivers without valid boarding passes nor the lack of cold water for sale by the on-site vendors.

After flying in from Palm Beach, Florida, Trump gave the crowd the first stump speech of his presidential bid: a listless recap of everything that's irked the scandal-plagued 2024 candidate throughout his post-presidential life. 

He lashed out at authorities looking into issues ranging from his alleged involvement in the deadly January 6, 2021 siege at the US Capitol to the $130,000 hush money payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels. He took some shots at anticipated 2024 rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, even though recent polling shows Trump with a commanding lead so far. And then he wound the whole thing up by making vague promises about fixing the entire world — if the crowd committed to sending him back to the White House. 

"You will be vindicated and proud," Trump assured the spellbound audience. 

That was music to many onlookers' ears. 

The only thing that really matters

Many of the people Insider interviewed at the day-long rally said they either totally ignored or couldn't remember much about the preceding speakers, a roster that included Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Republican Reps. Wesley Hunt of Texas, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and Matt Gaetz of Florida.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida mingles with MAGA supporters during former US President Donald Trump's 2024 campaign rally in Waco, Texas."We got here for Trump. Just for Trump," Connor Adams said of how he and his wife, Nguyen, had timed their visit. 

Connor Adams told Insider he'd trekked to Waco from the left-leaning enclave of Austin, Texas, where President Joe Biden thumped Trump by 45 points in 2020. He wanted to commune with fellow conservatives and check in on "what's really going on with our country." 

He said he was thrilled Trump had talked about sewing up the southern border and shutting down what Adams called the "pushing of transgenderism" in public schools. Adams added that he's against transgender awareness campaigns "trying to make it a normal thing, when it seems to be a mental disorder," and appreciates that Trump wants to fight it. 

Nguyen Adams, who said she wouldn't call herself a full-fledged Trump supporter, told Insider she was there mainly out of curiosity. 

"I wanted to listen to a man who was a former president who was vilified," she said, adding that "he deserves to tell his side." 

Linda Chambers, a resident of Robinson, Texas, had no such doubt, telling Insider that she wholly agreed with the local official who earlier in the day billed re-electing Trump as the solution for everything from closing the southern border to fixing the flagging economy.

"All the solutions we need are strictly Donald J. Trump," Chambers said. "All the solutions."

First-timer Jason couldn't agree more. 

"Whatever he says is just golden for me," he said of the former president. 

'How did it all go to hell?'

Charla Sisk, a Waco resident who said she'd heard Trump speak at previous rallies, pushed back against the idea that Trump stokes violence or is solely out for revenge. 

"I think that he's very positive about what he's gonna do with America," she told Insider, praising Trump for striving to "pull us out of this big mess we're in right now." 

She added that Trump defending himself, including incendiary jabs thrown at Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, is simply part of that process. "It's just saying, 'Hey, this is what happened? What are we going to do about it?'"

Trump is the only candidate Sisk said she'll support for president, though she'd like to see failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake round out the 2024 ticket. When asked whether House GOP conference chair Elise Stefanik, an ardent Trump defender, stands a chance in the veepstakes, Sisk burst out laughing. 

"I'm not gonna vote for anybody from New York," she said. Trump was born in Queens, New York, lived in Manhattan for most of his adult life, and only switched his primary address to Florida at the age of 73. 

Nate, a resident of Lockhart, Texas who declined to give his last name, conceded that Trump's narcissism, while exhausting, is also "kind of why he got elected" in 2016. 

"It gets annoying," Nate said of Trump's harping about his 2020 loss. "If I had to listen to him while we were at dinner, I'd say, 'Hey, buddy, we're done. Let's talk about something else.'"

Still, Nate said he supports Trump "because he's not a politician." Trump spent four years in the White House, has run for office three times, and now regularly stumps for candidates all across the country.

A shirt proclaiming former US President Donald Trump as the "Maga King" was for sale at one of the stalls set up by vendors outside his campaign rally in Waco, Texas.

Chris, a Waco resident who declined to give his last name, said all the other 2024 candidates should save themselves the trouble because he's not considering any alternatives.

Sporting a cowboy hat crowned with a MAGA visor featuring a faux head of Trump's wispy blond hair, he told Insider: "I'm Trump all the way, no matter what. From A to Z, I love everything about him."

Chris' neighbor, Edy, who described herself as a "native Texan, under invasion," said Trump's 2020 loss was a real shock to the system. 

"President Trump made me feel safer. The world is not safe," Edy told Insider, adding that she's worried that America is being taken over by communists and freedom-hating domestic terrorists. 

The prospect of somehow losing the country she loves worries Edy, leaving her in a panic that is echoed in the frustrations that pour out of Trump whenever he's handed a microphone. 

"I don't understand how he lost an election when we had the best economy, the safest border," she said of the personally jarring last few years. "I mean, it's like it all went to hell. How did it all go to hell?"

Read the original article on Business Insider

Chipotle will pay a $240,000 penalty — roughly 1% of its daily revenue— for shutting down a store that tried to unionize

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 3:56pm
Chipotle agreed to pay $240,000 to former workers at an Augusta, Maine, restaurant who tried to form a union.
  • Chipotle is paying $240,000 to former employees who tried to form the chain's first union.
  • The restaurant violated labor laws when it closed the chain a month later, federal regulators found.
  • The settlement is equivalent to the global revenue that Chipotle made in 15 minutes last year.

Chipotle has agreed to pay $240,000 to workers of a location it closed after workers there tried to form a union. 

Chipotle agreed to the fine, which will be split among the former employees of the Augusta, Maine, location, a Chipotle spokesperson confirmed to Insider on Monday. The news was earlier reported by the Kennebec Journal of Augusta. 

The employees filed a petition to form a union last June — the first time Chipotle employees had taken that step. The following month, Chipotle said it would close the location, citing problems recruiting enough employees to run the location, CNBC reported. According to the Kennebec Journal, the National Labor Relations Board later found that the closure violated labor laws.

The payment will be split among the former location's employees, who will receive between $5,800 and $21,000 each based on their seniority, pay rate, and other factors, per the Journal.

According to the company's latest earnings report, Chipotle's revenue from food and beverage totaled $8.56 billion in 2022, or about $23,446,578 a day. The $240,000 fine is roughly 1% of Chipotle's daily revenue. That math is based on Chipotle locations operating daily, and doesn't include locations closed on major holidays.

Under the settlement, Chipotle will also offer the employees "preferential hiring" if they pursue jobs at the company's other locations in Maine.

The restaurant chain will also post notices in about 40 locations in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire stating that it will not close stores or discriminate against employees if they support a union, CNBC reported.

Laurie Schalow, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Chipotle, told Insider in a statement that the company agreed to the settlement "not because we did anything wrong, but because the time, energy, and cost to litigate would have far outweighed the settlement agreement."

"We respect our employees' rights to organize under the National Labor Relations Act and are committed to ensuring a fair and just work environment that provides opportunities to all," Schalow said.

Chipotle United, which would have represented the employees if the union effort had gone forward, did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on the settlement.

Employees at a Chipotle store in Lansing, Michigan, held an election and voted to unionize last summer, becoming the chain's first location to organize a union successfully, CNBC reported at the time.

The unionization effort at Chipotle came as workers at Starbucks successfully organized unions at hundreds of that chain's stores. Workers United represents employees at roughly 250 of its stores in the US. The coffee chain has also faced allegations of union-busting from the NLRB, and former CEO Howard Schultz said he doesn't think unions have a role to play at the company.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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