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The latest news from Business Insider

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    Drones — also commonly referred to as unmanned aircraft — are no longer a cool, new novelty that companies in only a handful of industries are testing.

    Businesses across various industries and levels of government in the US are utilizing at least a handful of drones. But more importantly, drone users are now realizing a deep return on their investments from the aircraft's ability to help save hours of time and labor.

    Farmers' Plans for Drones in 2018

    However, to successfully get a drone program up and running, businesses need to have an idea of what they want the aircraft to do, and the value they hope to create. To that end, companies need to know what their competitors are doing with the aircraft so they can plan their own projects accordingly.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence details how unmanned aircraft are disrupting a slew of different industries, including agriculture, construction and mining, insurance, media and telecommunications, and the public sector. We also size the market for global enterprise drone shipments, and pinpoint the features that make drones useful tools within different industries. Lastly, we make predictions for how drone use in these industries will evolve over the next five to 10 years and to what extent their impact will be magnified over this period.

    Here are some of the key takeaways:

    • Since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) implemented its Part 107 regulations for unmanned aircraft in August 2016, the commercial drone industry in the US has taken off. 
    • Companies across the US have rushed to deploy drones to cut costs, boost operational efficiency, and open up new streams of revenue. Meanwhile, firms elsewhere in the world have taken notice and ramped up their own drone projects.
    • Unmanned aircraft have the potential to create the greatest business value in the construction, mining, and agriculture industries. The agriculture industry was a relatively early adopter of drones, and today one-third of farmers in the US plan to use at least one drone this year. Meanwhile, drones will have a less significant, yet noticeable, impact on media, telecommunications, and insurance businesses.
    • Drones will lead these industries to become highly data-driven in the coming years, making the aircraft a must-have for companies to keep pace with their competitors. They will allow businesses to synthesize and analyze trends in their workflows to bolster their operational efficiency and predict problems before they happen.

    In full, the report:

    • Analyzes the development of drone use across five different industries.
    • Offers a look at how drone use in these industries will evolve over the coming years.
    • Sizes the market for enterprise drone shipments over a seven-year period, both in the US and abroad.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    sundar pichai google ceo congress hearing

    • In an interview after his appearance before Congress where he had to explain that Google doesn't make the iPhone, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that more conversations need to happen between Mountain View and Washington.
    • “There needs to be deeper, different engagement than what happens today,” he said.
    • The Google CEO also seemed open to revisiting which settings are turned on by default on Google's services, though he declined to get into specifics.
    • When asked if Google would be broken up, he cited investment in emerging technologies as a benefit of bigness.

    The sudden scrutiny and skepticism hitting Google and other Big Tech companies is "here to stay," Google CEO Sundar Pichai told Axios Tuesday after he testified for more than three hours on Capitol Hill.

    Why it matters: Pichai has been the least public of the top tech CEOs, and he and Google are beginning an effort to engage more consistently and directly with policymakers

    “Tech has a lot of impact and a lot of consequences. And so, I think it’s rightful to be more reflective of how technology is developed. And I think the stakes are higher, the technology is getting more powerful, with the technologies like AI coming up, too. So, I think it’s here to stay, and it’s a good thing, right? I think you want to be thoughtful about how you develop powerful technologies. And I think it’s important that more people than engineers are able to weigh in on these things.”

    — Google CEO Sundar Pichai

    Like Apple CEO Tim Cook in an "Axios on HBO" interview, Pichai made it clear that tech accepts that new regulation is inevitable and will now try to work with Washington to get the balance right.

    Pichai spoke with Axios after lawmakers grilled him on perceived search bias and consumer data abuses. In the interview, Pichai said he recognized that more conversations need to happen between Mountain View and Washington. “There needs to be deeper, different engagement than what happens today,” he said.

    • Pichai said that he views these sorts of cultural backlashes as moving in cycles, so Big Tech’s troubles may abate one day. Meanwhile, he said he hopes that “we don’t lose that sense of optimism we have about technology.”
    • “But I think a broader scrutiny of technology at a high level, I think, is actually important,” he said. “I personally have always felt so.”

    Pichai reiterated Google’s support for “thoughtful” privacy regulation and said the company is exploring instances in which certain user settings would default away from collecting the data that fuels the company’s ad-targeting machine. Instead, consumers would have to opt in to that data collection in some instances.

    • “I think privacy is an area where you have constantly evolving user expectations,” he said. “I think, as a company, we have grown a lot. … I think people may legitimately have questions saying, ‘I do want a different construct.’”
    • He declined to say which default settings the company might change. (He said the team might say to him: "Sundar, that was a stupid idea.") But he said that location data is one area it is working to simplify settings for users. “We understand location is in the fabric of everything,” he said.
    • The catch: Google’s data trove is what makes its tools so useful for consumers. Location data, for instance, is how Google knows what language to translate when you travel to another country. When Google gets it wrong, “people are very upset at us,” he said. “We are trying to respond to user needs.”

    Concerns about AI's power and potentially negative consequences are legitimate, he said. Still, the development of powerful technologies such as AI is inevitable, and it’s essential to keep up with the progress being made in these areas by bad actors.

    • For example, he said, the only way to thwart fake videos is to develop technology advanced enough to sniff them out. “The worst thing you can do is to stop progress on AI [while] someone else is making progress on manipulation of AI,” he said.

    What's next: He also pointed to the important role large tech companies now play in the R&D of emerging technology, particularly AI and quantum computing, as federal spending falls.

    • When asked if Google would be broken up, he cited investment in emerging technologies as a benefit of bigness. “There are some advantages of big companies, which is we do invest for the long term in foundational technologies,” he said.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What it takes to drive a 42-foot-long fire truck

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    Easy Flip Grill flips to evenly cook your food. It holds food between two grill grates and can cook horizontally, vertically, or in between. The device is designed to easily attach on top of an existing grill or be used on its own and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.


    Join the conversation about this story »

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    now hiring sign

    • The US jobless rate has been sitting near a 50-year low for more than a year, and companies are growing increasingly desperate to fill positions with qualified workers.
    • One expert explains why the situation is a win-win for both the workers in question and the overall economy.

    For more than a year, the US jobless rate has hovered right around 4% — including the last three months, when it's been a mind-boggling 3.7%, a half-century low. Fast-growing companies desperate for workers have turned to accepting candidates with lesser skills, drug use and felony records, dispensing with long-held hiring red lines.

    Why it matters: If these trends continue, they may begin to whittle away at some of the nation's most stubborn problems — that millions of Americans have given up trying to find work after years of unemployment, and a vast number of jobless people lack sufficient skills for the quickly advancing economy.

    What's happening: For five years, the labor participation rate — the percentage of people aged 16 and up who are working or actively seeking work — has been below 63%, and has been slowly declining. Historically speaking, the absolute number is not bad — it was even lower from 1948 through 1978. And many of those technically unemployed people are over 65 and retired. But in the four decades since, the rate has climbed as high as 67% — and economists have puzzled over how to get back to those bigger numbers.

    The nine-year-old economic expansion has not budged the figure yet, but it has pulled hundreds of thousands of long-term unemployed people into jobs, often at companies where they learn transferable skills when previously they had few. Wages are up 3.1% this year, below rates in other historically tight job markets but also the first substantial gains in a decade.

    Among the little-discussed spillover effects:

    • These workers may be far more employable when they look to climb the economic ladder. "Just breaking a long spell of unemployment improves someone’s employment prospects going forward," says Oren Cass, author of "The Once and Future Worker."
    • The 3.5% jobless rate for those with only a high school diploma is its lowest in 18 years.
    • In the aggregate, these numbers may juice the entire economy, creating the conditions for higher GDP growth and "a persistent, positive macroeconomic effect," says Jason Furman, former chief economist to Barack Obama and now a professor at Harvard.

    "This is win-win for employees and the aggregate economy," says Darrell West, head of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. "Over time, having a better trained workforce will boost productivity and improve national competitiveness."

    The background: For years, one of industry's biggest gripes has been a shortage of skilled workers, and economists have unflatteringly compared US technical skills with those in Europe and Asia, not even in the top 10 countries in some rankings.

    In addition, there are worries about slowing US economic growth and a potential recession in the rest of the world.

    The impact of training more and more of the unskilled work force is to change the country's underlying structure: The entire country starts out at a higher level of competency.

    Yes, but: Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, tells Axios that research is not clear yet on how much of a lift such conditions provide to workers or the economy.

    • A boom from 1995 to 2000 pulled a lot of workers into the US economy, but it "didn’t have as much lasting benefit of re-employability or staying in the workforce when the economy turned down as we expected," Posen said. 
    • "That may have been because the recession that eventually came was so large and abrupt."
    • But Rick Wartzman, head of the Center for a Functioning Society at the Drucker Institute, said he is skeptical about the long-term economic impact of the current expansion. "I don't want to confuse what might be happy momentarily with what has been going on for 30 years," he said.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's how easy it is for the US president to launch a nuclear weapon

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    axios self driving

    • Autonomous vehicles promise safer roads and more freedom. But they're not ready to drive themselves yet.
    • The Society of Automotive Engineers is revising its definitions of the 6 levels of self-driving to make it easier for people to distinguish between assistance features and true autonomy. 

    Thanks to advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, humans are on the cusp of being removed from the driver seat. But as drivers are asked to do less, they are becoming more complacent — and complacency breeds danger.

    Why it matters: Autonomous vehicles promise safer roads and more freedom for the poor, the elderly and the disabled. But they're not ready to drive themselves yet. Some people are relying too heavily on their car's automated features, resulting in avoidable crashes and dangerous incidents that threaten to undermine public confidence in self-driving cars.

    What's happening: Safety features like blind-spot monitoring and backup cameras are giving way to more advanced driver-assist systems that can keep pace with the traffic flow and keep your car centered in its lane.

    • The danger occurs as drivers become more comfortable with these convenience features and mistakenly believe their car can drive itself.
    • The risk is compounded by misleading marketing names attached to the technologies — Tesla's Autopilot, Nissan's ProPilot Assist and Volvo's Pilot Assist, for example.
    • The media often describes the technology irresponsibly.

    Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk is guilty of spreading misinformation on national TV: while demonstrating Tesla's new Navigate on Autopilot feature on CBS' "60 Minutes," he clasped his hands over his belly and told Leslie Stahl: "I'm not doing anything."

    That's just wrong. Tesla repeatedly warns drivers — through on-screen warnings, driver manuals and public statements — that Autopilot is not an autonomous system and the driver must remain in control. Other automakers issue similar warnings. But many people aren't heeding the message.

    • Investigations into two fatal Tesla crashes found that the humans behind the wheel were not paying attention or failed to respond to warnings to take control.
    • A sleeping Tesla driver was able to cruise at 70 mph for 7 miles apparently on Autopilot before police stopped the car.

    To address the confusion, the Society of Automotive Engineers is revising its definitions of the 6 levels of driving automation to try to make it easier for people to distinguish between driver support features (like lane-centering and adaptive cruise control) and automated driving features (like traffic jam chauffeur or driverless taxis).

    • The tricky and potentially dangerous features are those in-between systems (known as Level 3) that can drive the vehicle under limited conditions.
    • The driver is still responsible to take over when needed.
    • But it can take 15 to 25 seconds for a zoned-out driver to regain control of the vehicle both physically and mentally, simulation studies show.
    "Increasing autonomy might make driving boring but we're asking people to stay hyper alert in case you have to take over." — Elizabeth Walshe, University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

    The bottom line, from Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports: "Either you're riding in the car or you're driving the car. There’s a big difference. Just like you can't be semi-pregnant."

    SEE ALSO: Elon Musk broke one of Tesla's biggest Autopilot rules in a TV interview

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This spray paint lights up at the flip of a switch, but it's not glow-in-the-dark

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    parkland shooting

    • On Wednesday, the state commission investigating the Parkland shooting released a draft report on its findings.
    • The report calls for an internal review of seven Broward County Sheriff's deputies who allegedly didn't respond to the massacre fast enough.
    • It also suggests several security upgrades to the school that — if they had been in place at the time — may have lessened the loss of life.

    A newly released report into the deadly Parkland shooting says several "system failures" contributed to how deadly the massacre was.

    Seventeen students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were killed in the shooting on February 14.

    Suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz, 20, a former student at the school, confessed to police shortly after the shooting and could face the death penalty if he is convicted.

    On Wednesday, a state commission formed to investigate the shooting released its draft report, which contends that Cruz was able to gain access to the school due to lax security.

    The commission — which is comprised of law enforcement officers, public officials, and parents of the murdered students — also blamed sheriff's deputies for their slow response to the massacre and called for an internal review into seven deputies in particular.

    The commission is expected to discuss its findings during meetings in Tallahassee on Wednesday and Thursday. The final report is due to the governor and state legislature on January 1.

    Here are the key findings and recommendations from the draft report.

    Negative findings, according to the draft report:

    • Unlocked entrances at the school allowed the gunman to get inside.
    • Seven Broward County Sheriff's deputies responded to the scene and reportedly heard the gunfire, but failed to confront the shooter, which was "unacceptable and contrary to accepted protocol."
    • The slow response of Broward deputies was partly due to school resource officer Scot Peterson, who told his fellow deputies not to go near the building where the shooting was happening. The report points out that it was likely Peterson's years of working at the school that left him ill-prepared to deal with "high-risk, high-stress situations."
    • The multiple agencies that responded to the shooting took "an excessive amount of time" to set up a unified command center, an issue that "stemmed from an absence of command and control and an ineffective radio system."
    • At least 30 people knew about the suspected gunman's troubling behavior before the shooting. These people either didn't report their concerns or did report them and did not receive a follow up.
    • Some of the students were killed because their classrooms didn't have areas where they could hide. If every classroom had so-called "hard corners" the loss of life would have been less since Cruz "only shot people within his line of sight and he never entered any classroom."

    Read more:Timeline shows how the Florida high-school shooting unfolded

    parkland florida shooting

    Positive findings, according to the draft report:

    • Unlike the Broward sheriff's deputies, Coral Springs police officers were aggressive in seeking out the shooter at the scene. The commission points out that the Coral Springs officers were trained for active shootings annually, while some of their Broward counterparts "could not remember the last time they attended active shooter training."
    • The shooting could have been far more deadly, since Cruz had 18 rounds of ammunition.
    • Storm-resistant glass in the third floor teacher's lounge prevented Cruz from positioning himself as a sniper.
    • Some of Cruz's bullets went through drywall and metal doors, but he didn't seem to notice. If he had intentionally taken advantage of these weaknesses, "the amount of casualties would have been greater."
    • There's "no evidence" that Cruz could have been involuntarily committed under the Baker Act, which would have prevented him from buying guns.

    parkland students return.JPG

    Recommendations, according to the draft report:

    • The Broward County Sheriff's Office should conduct an internal review into the seven deputies who reportedly didn't respond to the shooting fast enough.
    • The school district should conduct an internal probe into whether an assistant principal was warned about Cruz before the shooting.
    • Schools should "immediately" start regular meetings on lockdown protocol and have a policy "that is well known to all school personnel."
    • Schools should be "hardened" to make it more difficult for a shooter to gain entrance. A few suggestions are limiting entry and exit points, installing metal detectors at entrances and stronger glass in classroom windows, locking classroom doors at all times, restricting visitors, and training staff on how to deal with unauthorized people on campus.
    • "Hard corners" should be created in every classroom so students have a place to hide.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The world's largest cruise ship just landed in Miami — here's what it's like on board

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    • What you learn in college outside of academics can often be more valuable than the lessons of your classes. 
    • Here, author Alexis Reliford details the seven best things she learned in college than had nothing to do with grades. 


    Almost eight years ago, I sat in a crowded auditorium surrounded by a bunch of other bright-eyed college freshmen.

    The sweet smell of summer was fading, and we stumbled onto campus armed with mini-fridges, maps, and class schedules that solidified our statuses as young adults. We listened closely as upperclassmen stressed that we were about to embark on one of the most memorable experiences of our lives.

    At the time it sounded a little cheesy and cliché, but looking back I would've told my freshman self to pay close attention to everything and not just to the professors. Opportunities to learn were all around and that four-year journey provided some much-needed wisdom that I'm still grateful for today.

    Here are the best lessons I learned that had nothing to do with passing finals or writing essays in MLA format (aka the bane of my existence):

    SEE ALSO: 10 life lessons of adulthood that my 20-year-old self would never have understood

    1. I learned who exactly I was

    Interacting with different people, trying new activities, and experiencing situations I never had before helped me piece together the real me. Late nights in the newspaper office showed me how good I was at working under pressure. Planning homecoming week and serving on the campus activities board bolstered my leadership skills and creative spirit.

    Unlike high school, where I felt I had to blend in with a certain group in order to survive, college gave me permission to hone my unique passions and strengths.

    2. On the flip side, I also learned who I wasn't

    Being on the dance line freshman year helped me realize that I wasn't cut out to be a collegiate athlete running stadiums at 6 a.m. (or ever). Going to frat parties every Friday night didn't make me happy. I was a far better yearbook writer than I was as its editor.

    These low points initially made me feel bad, but experiencing them helped build confidence in myself and how to appreciate what truly makes me, me and what simply doesn't. This skill comes in handy now when sticking up for what I believe in even when it's unpopular with others.

    3. I came to appreciate the world around me

    Contrary to what most Netflix movie characters would say, high school was a pretty comfortable place for me. It was a small town. There were plenty of familiar faces, and most of my classmates came from similar backgrounds and families.

    College threw me into a whole new environment. Suddenly, I was surrounded by thousands of people from different states and countries, backgrounds and lifestyles, with even more personalities and perspectives. This diversity allowed me to broaden my outlook on the world and showed me that differences really are what makes humanity so beautiful.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Samsung Galaxy Note 9

    • If you want a top-of-the-line Android smartphone that was made in 2018, Samsung has a few nice options for you.
    • The Galaxy S9, the Galaxy S9 Plus, and the new Galaxy Note 9 — Samsung's premium flagship phones for the year — are all excellent devices.
    • If you're on the fence, though, there are some subtle differences that make the Galaxy Note 9 stand out from the rest.

    SEE ALSO: Everything Samsung unveiled at its biggest event of the year

    The Galaxy Note 9 features a larger display than the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.

    A smartphone's display is arguably its most important feature — it's your main interface for both viewing and touching your content.

    Having more screen real estate is generally useful. Videos and apps look bigger and better, and you have more space to type and work, among other things.

    The Galaxy Note 9 features a 6.4-inch quad-HD Super Amoled display, whereas the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus feature smaller 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch screens.

    The Galaxy Note 9 has a bigger battery capacity than the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.

    The Galaxy Note 9 has a massive 4,000-mAh battery, which should outlast the 3,000- and 3,500-mAh batteries in the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.

    The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus get close to 11 hours of battery life, but the Galaxy Note 9 should get around 12 hours.

    You can get way more storage in the Galaxy Note 9 than you can with the Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus.

    If you're always worried about having enough store in your phone, the Galaxy Note 9 is going to be the way to go.

    The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus both feature 64 GB of built-in storage, with a microSD slot that supports up to 400 GB.

    The Galaxy Note 9, on the other hand, features either 128 GB or 512 GB of built-in storage, depending on which model you choose, and its microSD slot can support up to another 512 GB of space.

    That means you could have over 1 terabyte of space in your Galaxy Note 9.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the media outside 10 Downing Street after it was announced that the Conservative Party will hold a vote of no confidence in her leadership, in London, Britain, December 12, 2018.

    • Theresa May has survived a confidence vote in her leadership.
    • She wins by 200 votes to 117.
    • The vote was triggered after 48 MPs sent letters expressing no confidence in the prime minister's leadership.
    • Many MPs remain deeply unhappy at her plans for Brexit.

    Theresa May has survived a confidence vote in her leadership by Conservative MPs, meaning she can continue to serve as prime minister.

    However, more than a third of Conservative MPs expressed their lack of confidence in the prime minister, with 117 voting for her to stand down and 200 saying she should remain in place.

    The scale of the rebellion against May was significantly larger than most predictions, suggesting that she still has a mountain to climb to win over her party in order to pass her Brexit plans through parliament. 

    The victory also only came after the prime minister assured MPs on Wednesday evening that she would stand down before the next general election.

    "In my heart I would like to lead the party into the next election but I accept that won't happen," May told Conservative MPs.

    Reacting to the news, the opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the result "makes no difference to the lives of our people."

    "The Prime Minister has lost her majority in Parliament, her government is in chaos and she is unable to deliver a Brexit deal that works for the country and puts jobs and the economy first," he said.

    Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, whose European Research Group of anti-EU MPs spearheaded the attempt to oust May, described the result as "terrible" for the prime minister.

    "It's a terrible result for the Prime Minister," Mogg said.

    "The Prime Minister must realise that on all constitutional norms she ought to go and see the Queen urgently.

    "She clearly doesn't have the confidence of the Commons. She should make way for someone who does."

    The result means May can in theory remain as Conservative party leader without a further confidence vote being held for another year.

    However, the scale of the no confidence vote in her leadership and her pledge to stand down before the next election means the race to replace her will now start in earnest.

    The vote was held after at least 48 Conservative MPs sent letters to Tory MP Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, expressing no confidence in Theresa May's leadership of the party.

    Many Conservative MPs are unhappy with the Brexit plan she negotiated in Brussels, and discontent reached a tipping point when she delayed a parliamentary vote on the deal which was scheduled for Tuesday.

    Brady notified the prime minister that he had received at least 48 letters on Tuesday evening. He announced the news publicly on Wednesday morning, giving Tory MPs just one day to weigh up whether to support or oppose the prime minister.

    He was criticised by some Tory MPs who oppose the prime minister for organising the vote at short notice, which some believe would hand May a crucial advantage because it would not give them time to co-ordinate their opposition. 

    However, Brady said party rules dictate that a vote should be held as soon as possible.

    This is a developing story.

    SEE ALSO: Theresa May hints she will quit before next election in last-minute bid to save her leadership

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'

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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here. Current subscribers can read the report here.

    Smart speakers in shoppingConsumers are finally starting to adopt smart home devices, with nearly 60% owning at least one device. This presents an opportunity for e-commerce companies to enter the smart home and encourage purchasing through the devices.

    The smart speaker has become the face of the smart home in many ways, attracting the lion’s share of attention as companies look for ways to take advantage of the growing platform. But there’s a problem: Consumers aren’t using the smart speaker to actually buy products very often.

    Instead, one of the clearest opportunities outside of the smart speaker is home goods and grocery replenishment through large appliances. Smart devices in the home — especially appliances — can take advantage of built-in sensors to either tell consumers when they need to buy more of a product, or make that purchase autonomously. This will create an opportunity for appliance manufacturers, e-commerce vendors, and product suppliers to ink supply agreements to meet consumers' needs.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence examines several areas of opportunity for e-commerce companies to leverage smart home technologies to provide new and better services to their customers. First, we explore how smart appliances, including connected dishwashers and laundry machines, are building on one-click purchasing systems to enable automated replenishment. We then discuss the smart fridge and detail how apps, cameras, and voice assistants are enabling takeout and grocery delivery through these appliances. Finally, we examine the role of the voice interface beyond smart speakers as it relates to purchasing products in the home, and how omnipresent voice will be used to organize and interact with automated services.

    The companies mentioned in this report are: Amazon, Blue Apron, Costo, GE, Google, Instacart, Keurig, KitchenAid, LG, Ocado, P&G, Plated, Reynolds, Samsung, Target, Walmart, Whirlpool.

     Here are some key takeaways from the report:

    • Companies have a clear opportunity to leverage sensors, cameras, and connectivity in a variety of home appliances to revolutionize the way consumers buy home goods.
    • Smart appliance manufacturers, e-tailers, and CPG companies will be able to collaborate and partner to develop new methods of resupplying consumers' homes.
    • The smart fridge will transform into the hub of the kitchen and become the autonomous organizing device that oversees grocery purchasing and food delivery.

    In full, the report:

    • Provides an overview of the key players and types of products in the smart appliance space.
    • Highlights the models that companies can adopt to take advantage of the developing sector.
    • Identifies the key services that will boost automated e-commerce engagement in the home.


    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Stocks rose Wednesday as signs of thawing trade tensions helped lift the mood on Wall Street following a bruising few weeks for global markets.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.65%, paring sharp gains that had earlier lifted the index as much as 400 points. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.95%, and the S&P 500 gained 0.55%. On Friday, stocks posted their largest weekly decline since March.

    Shares of trade-sensitive companies like Boeing (+1.95%) and Caterpillar (+2.21%) jumped after the Wall Street Journal reported China is drafting plans to replace its industrial Made in China program, which has been at the center of the Trump administration's frustrations with Beijing. The new plan would aim to increase access to foreign companies.

    Trump also said in an interview with Reuters published late Tuesday he would intervene in the US case against Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou if it would help trade talks, easing concerns that her arrest could imperil negotiations ahead of a March deadline.

    Elsewhere, the Labor Department said the core consumer price index rose 2.2% from a year earlier in November. The key inflation reading came ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting next week, where the central bank is expected to increase its benchmark interest rate.

    "Accordingly, we remain of the view that near-term upside inflation risks are very limited," said Ian Sheperdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. "This does not mean the Fed can relax, though, because the tightening labor market is a real medium-term threat, and zero real short-term interest rates won’t ease the pressure."

    Treasury yields, which move inversely to prices, edged higher. The dollar slid 0.5% against a basket of peers.

    The British pound climbed but remained near 20-month lows as Prime Minister Theresa May appeared poised to survive a vote of no confidence Wednesday, with counting underway at the US close. Lawmakers challenged her leadership after a key vote on plans to leave the European Union was delayed this week, the latest in a string of defeats May has faced in recent weeks.

    "Indications that the EU is willing to consider compromises on a Brexit deal would be what is needed to help the British Pound recover some ground, but that is unlikely to be the case," said Jameel Ahmad, an analyst at FXTM.

    Oil prices fell after an earlier rally as data out Wednesday showed US stockpiles fell by less than expected last week. Earlier this month, OPEC and other major producers agreed last week to cut production levels in attempt to support prices. West Texas Intermediate dropped to $51.30 per barrel, and Brent to just above $60.

    Now Read:

    A stock-market relationship has broken down and it points to a group you want to own for the final stages of the bull run

    100 BlackRock investing pros got together to formulate a game plan for 2019 — and we got an exclusive look at their 3 big themes for the year

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    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The reason some men can't grow full beards, according to a dermatologist

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    • Abercrombie & Fitch's shares soared 25% last month after the company reported its fifth consecutive quarter of positive same-store sales growth.
    • Abercrombie & Fitch, which also owns Hollister and Abercrombie Kids, has been working to execute a turnaround at its namesake brand by investing in its stores, closing unprofitable locations, improving product assortment, and shaking off its '90s brand image. 
    • Business Insider has crowned the company retail's biggest comeback of 2018. 

    Abercrombie's comeback has been almost four years in the making, but it finally came to fruition in 2018.

    As a result, the teen-turned-millennial-focused brand, which counts Hollister and Abercrombie Kids as its sister brands, has been crowned Business Insider's biggest comeback in retail this year.

    Last month, its parent company reported its fifth consecutive quarter of positive same-store sales growth; the Abercrombie brand alone had its fourth consecutive quarter of positive same-store sales growth.

    At the time, analysts praised the company for being on the steady road to recovery. The company's stock soared as much as 25% shortly after it reported earnings. 

    Read more:Abercrombie came back from the dead by getting rid of its shirtless models and dark stores. Here's what else has changed for the retailer.

    "The recovery at Abercrombie & Fitch is still a work in progress. However, turning around a once very troubled brand is far from easy," Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, wrote in a note to clients at the time.

    He continued: "Progress and advancement do not all come at once; this is a step-by-step process that will build over time. We are satisfied that management is on the right road to recovery."

    What's changed?

    CEO Fran Horowitz has been leading a turnaround effort since she took the helm in February 2017. She has invested in stores, closed unprofitable locations, improved product assortment, and worked hard to change the perception of the brand with new marketing. 

    "We are not the Abercrombie & Fitch that you once knew," Horowitz said to an audience at the New York Stock Exchange during the company's investor day in April.

    Since 2014, the brand has made some dramatic changes to its stores by removing the dark shutters to bring in light, getting rid of the shirtless models that lingered outside, and ditching the racy shopping bags.

    The Abercrombie of today is a toned-down version of its former self. The stores are lighter and brighter, the thick smell of cologne in the air is no more, and oversexualized ads have been replaced by wholesome, outdoorsy images. 

    And it seems to be working. According to data put together by market-research firm YouGov, US adults aged 18 to 34 have a better impression of Abercrombie & Fitch now than they did back in 2016.

    Abercrombie & Fitch's customer impression score has climbed from -4 in early 2016 to 3 this November, meaning that more young consumers have an overall positive impression of the brand, as opposed to negative.


    Abercrombie is also dressing up the product assortment to appeal to an older customer. It wants to target the 18-to-24-year-old shopper, someone who is transitioning from college to their first job and beginning their first adventure, Horowitz said in a recent phone interview with Business Insider.

    And experts say it's working. 

    "In our view, the range — especially at Abercrombie — is now more sophisticated, is more on-trend, and better reflects what modern consumers want," Saunders wrote last month.

    In the past year, it has made a bigger push to be seen as a more desirable and trendy brand to appeal to these consumers. Earlier this year, it announced a partnership with hotel and lifestyle chain sbe, which operates businesses in Los Angeles, Miami, and New York, to offer pop-up Abercrombie shops at some of its hotels.

    "We plan to make further marketing investments in experiences: communicating with our target customer through the right channels and creating authentic, customer-inspired events," a spokesperson for Abercrombie & Fitch told Business Insider at the time.

    Less is more

    While some stores have had the lights turned up, for others, it's lights out. The company has trimmed its store fleet substantially since 2010, closing 450 stores across all brands. A spokesperson for Abercrombie told Business Insider that two-thirds of those closings were Abercrombie and Abercrombie Kids stores. It plans to close 40 more stores by the end of the year. 

    It has downsized other stores and since 2017 opened 16 new prototype stores that have more of a boutique feel, with curated collections of clothing and luxurious fitting rooms with seating areas and charging stations.

    The new, smaller locations, are proving to be effective for the brand.

    "We don't need that level of space," Horowitz told Business Insider in June, referring to the former large stores. "The new stores are more shoppable — we've turned on lights and made it easier to shop for product and house product."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How Ocean Spray harvests 220 billion cranberries a year

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    Apple AirPods

    • Apple AirPods are proving elusive this holiday season.
    • The only two sites where you can still buy them online in time for Christmas are Best Buy and the Apple Store.
    • Best Buy's product page says they're "getting more soon" and that there are no Airpods "available for in-store pickup within 250 miles of Union Square (my current location)." Airpods orders are "expected to ship by Monday, December 17" for those in the New York City area. Other US zip codes may fare better in terms of their in-store pickup options.
    • The moral of the story: If you want to have a pair of Airpods shipped to you before Christmas, buy them right now

    If you have your heart set on gifting a pair of Apple AirPods this holiday season and haven't already bought it, you'd better place your order soon.

    The totally wireless earbuds are prime for holiday gifting and already sold out at most stores that carry them — the exceptions being the Apple Store and Best Buy.

    The AirPods look a lot like the EarPods that come with every iPhone purchase, but they're entirely cordless. They pair with devices like iPhones, iPads, and even the Apple TV, and they charge up inside their case.

    I tried them and fell in love with their design despite initially assuming I wouldn't like it.

    Screen Shot 2018 12 12 at 3.38.36 PM

    The Apple Store's product page for the Airpods gives me the choice of ordering online and having them shipped to me, or picking them up in a store near me in downtown Manhattan. Standard delivery is free and express delivery is $8; at the time of publication, both delivery options should get the Airpods to me well before Christmas.

    Best Buy's product page says they're "getting more [Airpods] soon" and that there are no Airpods "available for in-store pickup within 250 miles of Union Square (my current location)." Online Airpods orders are "expected to ship by Monday, December 17" for those in the New York City area, which means they should still get to me before it's too late. Other US zip codes may fare better in terms of their in-store pickup options.

    This is all to say you should not sit on this information for long before buying since I fully expect the AirPods to sell out by Christmas.

    Buy the Apple Airpods for $159 at the Apple Store or Best Buy to get them delivered in time for Christmas. 

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

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    venice italy disappointing reality

    • Venice, Italy is one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
    • The city sees between 26 million and 30 million visitors per year.
    • But despite its beauty, the hordes of tourists, devastating floods, and cruise ship pollution may make you think twice about visiting Venice. 


    Venice goes by many nicknames, "The Floating City,""The City of Bridges," and "The City of Canals" among them.

    Whatever you call it, it's one of the most popular destinations in Italy, with between 26 million and 30 million people visiting per year.

    But despite its beauty, the city suffers from massive overcrowding, devastating floods, and pollution from the massive cruise ships that pass through every day.

    While many people may still consider a trip to Venice worthwhile, these disappointing photos show the reality of the less glamorous aspects of the city.

    SEE ALSO: The top 10 trips Americans wanted to take in 2018, according to Google

    DON'T MISS: Inside the world's largest underwater restaurant, which has a 36-foot window that looks right out into the seabed so guests can watch marine life swim by as they eat

    Venice, a city on Italy's northeastern coast, is one of the country's most popular destinations.

    Nicknamed the "Floating City," Venice is situated on 118 small islands.

    Source: UNESCO, Venice Gondola

    These islands are connected by more than 400 bridges, earning the city one of its nicknames: "The City of Bridges."

    Source: UNESCO

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

    bii big tech in healthcare ALL Four

    The healthcare industry is undergoing a profound transformation. Costs are skyrocketing, consumer demand for more accessible care is growing rapidly, and healthcare companies are unable to keep up. 

    Health organizations are increasingly turning to tech companies to facilitate this transformation in care delivery and lower health expenditures. The potential for tech-led digital health initiatives to help healthcare providers and insurers deliver safer, more efficient, and cost-effective care is significant. For healthcare organizations of all types, the collection, analyses, and application of patient data can minimize avoidable service use, improve health outcomes, and promote patient independence, which can assuage swelling costs.

    For their part, the "Big Four" tech companies — Google-parent Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft — see an opportunity to tap into the lucrative health market. These same players are accelerating their efforts to reshape healthcare by developing and collaborating on new tools for consumers, medical professionals, and insurers.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence explores the key strengths and offerings the Big Four will bring to the healthcare industry, as well as their approaches into the market. We'll then explore how these services and solutions are creating opportunities for health systems and insurers. Finally, the report will outline the barriers that are inhibiting the adoption and usage of the Big Four tech companies’ offerings and how these barriers can be circumvented.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • Tech companies’ expertise in data management and analysis, along with their significant compute power, can help support healthcare payers, health systems, and consumers by providing a broader overview of how health is accessed and delivered.
    • Each of the Big Four tech companies — vying for a piece of the lucrative healthcare market — is leaning on their specific field of expertise to develop tools and solutions for consumers, providers, and payers.
      • Alphabet is focused on leveraging its dominance in data storage and analytics to become the leader in population health.
      • Amazon is leaning on its experience as a distribution platform for medical supplies, and developing its AI-assistant Alexa as an in-home health concierge.
      • Apple is actively turning its consumer products into patient health hubs.
      • Microsoft is focusing on cloud storage and analytics to tap into precision medicine.
    • Health organizations can further tap into the opportunity presented by tech’s entry into healthcare by collaborating with tech giants to realize cost savings and bolster their top lines. But understanding how each tech giant is approaching healthcare is crucial.

     In full, the report:

    • Pinpoints the key themes and industry-wide shifts that are driving the transformation of healthcare in the US.
    • Defines the main healthcare businesses and strategies of the Big Four tech companies.
    • Highlights the biggest potential impacts of each of the Big Four’s healthcare strategies for health systems and insurers.
    • Discusses the potential barriers that will challenge the adoption of the Big Four tech companies’ initiatives and how these hurdles can be overcome.

    Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
    Access to all future reports and daily newsletters
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    And more!
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    trust smart speaker makersSmart speakers comprise one of the fastest-growing device segments in the consumer technology market today. Ownership levels have nearly doubled from early 2017 to summer 2018. 

    With this rapid growth, there are a few pivotal questions that both companies looking to develop and sell smart speakers as well as those looking to sell products, deliver media, and offer access to services like banking over these devices need answers to in order to craft successful strategies. In particular, they need to know who is and isn’t buying smart speakers, and what consumers who own smart speakers are actually doing with them. 

    To offer these stakeholders insight, Business Insider Intelligence asked more than 500 US consumers about their knowledge of smart speakers, the devices they do or don’t own and what led them to their purchase decisions, as well as the tasks they’re using their smart speakers for.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence will look at the state of the smart speaker market and outline how each of the major device providers approaches the space. We will then focus on the key factors that affect whether or not someone owns one of these devices. Next, we will use our survey data to outline the reasons why people don’t own devices in order to offer guidance for who to target and how. Finally, we will discuss what consumers are actually doing with their smart speakers — specifically looking at how the devices are used and perceived in e-commerce, digital media, and banking — which can help companies determine how well they’re publicizing their smart speaker services and capabilities.

    The companies mentioned in this report are: Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung, Facebook, Sonos, LG, Anker, Spotify, Pandora, Grubhub, Netflix, Hulu, Instagram, Snap.

    Here are some key takeaways from the report:

    • Despite their growing popularity, nearly half of respondents still don't own a device — which presents a long runway for adoption. Our survey data reveals a number of key factors that impact whether or not someone owns one of these devices, including income, gender, and age.
    • Smart speakers are establishing themselves as a key platform for e-commerce, media, and the smart home.
    • The introduction of a screen to some smart speakers will expand the possibilities for companies developing for the device — but developers will need to resist the compulsion to use speakers to accomplish too much.

    In full, the report:

    • Provides an overview of the key players and products in the smart speaker market.
    • Highlights critical adoption rates broken out by key factors that define the segment.
    • Identifies how consumers are using devices in important areas where companies in various industries are trying foster greater use of the voice interface.

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    Nancy Pelosi

    • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said she is "comfortable" with setting term limits and agreed to serve no more than four years as speaker if elected.
    • The proposal is scheduled for a vote on February 15. If it passes, senior Democrats would be allowed to serve three two-year terms and an additional fourth term if a Democratic two-thirds majority votes to stay the course.
    • "I am comfortable with the proposal, and it is my intention to abide by it whether it passes or not," Pelosi said in a statement.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said she is "comfortable" with setting term limits for senior leadership positions, and she agreed to serve no more than four years as speaker if elected, reassuring critics within the Democratic Party who have called for new leadership.

    "Over the summer, I made it clear that I see myself as a bridge to the next generation of leaders, a recognition of my continuing responsibility to mentor and advance new Members into positions of power and responsibility in the House Democratic Caucus," Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday.

    "For some time, there have been a number of conversations to advance a proposal to institute term limits for senior leadership positions in our Caucus," Pelosi said. "I am comfortable with the proposal and it is my intention to abide by it whether it passes or not."

    The proposal is scheduled for a vote on February 15. If it passes, senior Democrats would be allowed to serve three terms and an additional fourth term if a Democratic two-thirds majority votes to stay the course.

    Nancy Pelosi

    Read more: Meet the 2020 presidential contenders who are poised to start campaigning right away in 2019

    Pelosi would need at least 218 votes on the House floor to become elected. Last month, Pelosi secured her nomination as speaker in a 203 to 32 vote. However, her role was not yet cemented after facing stiff opposition from a number of Democrats who campaigned for new leadership and "geographic diversity" within the party.

    Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Massachusetts), who spearheaded the effort for new leadership, described the negotiations as "difficult" and "contentious," but he agreed with the proposal.

    "The leaders of our caucus will no longer be determined by tenure and loyalty but by frequent and open elections, giving us a better chance to change and evolve as the country does," Moulton said in a statement.

    "This process has given us the time to choose who we want to be as a party, not let inertia decide for us," Moulton added. "Now it's time to move forward as one. Nancy Pelosi showed real leadership by agreeing to these reforms."

    Pelosi, the first woman to lead a majority party in Congress, previously served as speaker from 2007 to 2011.

    SEE ALSO: Trump reportedly flicked a folder and scattered papers in anger after his fiery debate with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer

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    eSports Advertising and Sponsorships

    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

    What is eSports? History & Rise of Video Game Tournaments

    Years ago, eSports was a community of video gamers who would gather at conventions to play Counter Strike, Call of Duty, or League of Legends.

    These multiplayer video game competitions would determine League of Legends champions, the greatest shooters in Call of Duty, the cream of the crop of Street Fighter players, the elite Dota 2 competitors, and more.

    But today, as the history of eSports continue to unfold, media giants such as ESPN and Turner are broadcasting eSports tournaments and competitions. And in 2014, Amazon acquired Twitch, the live streaming video platform that has been and continues to be the leader in online gaming broadcasts. And YouTube also wanted to jump on the live streaming gaming community with the creation of YouTube Gaming.

    eSports Market Growth Booming

    To put in perspective how big eSports is becoming, a Google search for "lol" does not produce "laughing out loud" as the top result. Instead, it points to League of Legends, one of the most popular competitive games in existence. The game has spawned a worldwide community called the League of Legends Championship Series, more commonly known as LCS or LOL eSports.

    What started as friends gathering in each other's homes to host LAN parties and play into the night has become an official network of pro gaming tournaments and leagues with legitimate teams, some of which are even sponsored and have international reach. Organizations such as Denial, AHQ, and MLG have multiple eSports leagues.

    And to really understand the scope of all this, consider that the prize pool for the latest Dota 2 tournament was more than $20 million.

    Websites even exist for eSports live scores to let people track the competitions in real time if they are unable to watch. There are even fantasy eSports leagues similar to fantasy football, along with the large and growing scene of eSports betting and gambling.

    So it's understandable why traditional media companies would want to capitalize on this growing trend just before it floods into the mainstream. Approximately 300 million people worldwide tune in to eSports today, and that number is growing rapidly. By 2020, that number will be closer to 500 million.

    eSports Industry Analysis - The Future of the Competitive Gaming Market

    Financial institutions are starting to take notice. Goldman Sachs valued eSports at $500 million in 2016 and expects the market will grow at 22% annually compounded over the next three years into a more than $1 billion opportunity.

    And industry statistics are already backing this valuation and demonstrating the potential for massive earnings. To illustrate the market value, market growth, and potential earnings for eSports, consider Swedish media company Modern Times Group's $87 million acquisition of Turtle Entertainment, the holding company for ESL. YouTube has made its biggest eSports investment to date by signing a multiyear broadcasting deal with Faceit to stream the latter's Esports Championship Series. And the NBA will launch its own eSports league in 2018.

    Of course, as with any growing phenomenon, the question becomes: How do advertisers capitalize? This is especially tricky for eSports because of its audience demographics, which is young, passionate, male-dominated, and digital-first. They live online and on social media, are avid ad-blockers, and don't watch traditional TV or respond to conventional advertising.

    So what will the future of eSports look like? How high can it climb? Could it reach the mainstream popularity of baseball or football? How will advertisers be able to reach an audience that does its best to shield itself from advertising?

    Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled an unparalleled report on the eSports ecosystem that dissects the growing market for competitive gaming. This comprehensive, industry-defining report contains more than 30 charts and figures that forecast audience growth, average revenue per user, and revenue growth.

    Companies and organizations mentioned in the report include: NFL, NBA, English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, NHL, Paris Saint-Germain, Ligue 1, Ligue de Football, Twitch, Amazon, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, Electronic Arts, EA Sports, Valve, Riot Games, Activision Blizzard, ESL, Turtle Entertainment, Dreamhack, Modern Times Group, Turner Broadcasting, TBS Network, Vivendi, Canal Plus, Dailymotion, Disney, BAMTech, Intel, Coca Cola, Red Bull, HTC, Mikonet

    Here are some eSports industry facts and statistics from the report:

    • eSports is a still nascent industry filled with commercial opportunity.
    • There are a variety of revenue streams that companies can tap into.
    • The market is presently undervalued and has significant room to grow.
    • The dynamism of this market distinguishes it from traditional sports.
    • The audience is high-value and global, and its numbers are rising.
    • Brands can prosper in eSports by following the appropriate game plan.
    • Game publishers approach their Esport ecosystems in different ways.  
    • Successful esport games are comprised of the same basic ingredients.
    • Digital streaming platforms are spearheading the popularity of eSports.
    • Legacy media are investing into eSports, and seeing encouraging results.
    • Traditional sports franchises have a clear opportunity to seize in eSports.
    • Virtual and augmented reality firms also stand to benefit from eSports.  

    In full, the report illuminates the business of eSports from four angles:

    • The gaming nucleus of eSports, including an overview of popular esport genres and games; the influence of game publishers, and the spectrum of strategies they adopt toward their respective esport scenes; the role of eSports event producers and the tournaments they operate.
    • The eSports audience profile, its size, global reach, and demographic, psychographic, and behavioral attributes; the underlying factors driving its growth; why they are an attractive target for brands and broadcasters; and the significant audience and commercial crossover with traditional sports.
    • eSports media broadcasters, including digital avant-garde like Twitch and YouTube, newer digital entrants like Facebook and traditional media outlets like Turner’s TBS Network, ESPN, and Canal Plus; their strategies and successes in this space; and the virtual reality opportunity.
    • eSports market economics, with a market sizing, growth forecasts, and regional analyses; an evaluation of the eSports spectacle and its revenue generators, some of which are idiosyncratic to this industry; strategic planning for brand marketers, with case studies; and an exploration of the infinite dynamism and immense potential of the eSports economy.

    Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
    Access to all future reports and daily newsletters
    Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry
    And more!
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    Michael Cohen

    • President Donald Trump finds himself facing mounting legal and political trouble in the face of his former lawyer's admission that he committed campaign finance violations that may have impacted the 2016 election at Trump's direction.
    • Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for his crimes, and the nature of the offenses is putting more pressure on Democratic lawmakers, who will control the House in January, to explore impeachment.
    • The timing of Cohen's actions and Trump's alleged involvement, said one Department of Justice veteran, "show a pattern of purposeful concealment with the sole intent of hiding the truth from the electorate a month before the election."
    • Another legal scholar said that while he doesn't believe these crimes themselves warrant impeachment proceedings, "six months from now if there have been nine more indictments, three more bombshell revelations, and a Mueller report, that could look very different."

    Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former longtime lawyer, was sentenced to three years in prison in the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, after pleading guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign-finance violations earlier this year.

    The same day, federal prosecutors announced that they had reached a non-prosecution agreement with American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, which spent $150,000 to purchase the rights to, but not publish, the account of model Karen McDougal, who alleged to have had a 10-month affair with Trump. 

    When Cohen admitted to violating election law, he said he did so at Trump's direction. But Trump's attorneys argue that Cohen's payments to buy the silence of McDougal and the porn star Stormy Daniels, who Cohen paid $130,000 in October 2016 to cover up her alleged affair with Trump, were a "simple private transaction" and do not constitute campaign finance violations because they were made to protect Trump's family and businesses. 

    But election law experts and former federal prosecutors aren't convinced. 

    "The timing and surrounding facts, which include a NPA with the Enquirer, show a pattern of purposeful concealment with the sole intent of hiding the truth from the electorate a month before the election," Jeffrey Cramer, a longtime former federal prosecutor in Chicago, told INSIDER. 

    Michael Cohen

    'One by one, the career DOJ prosecutors are removing possible Trump defenses'

    Both Trump and Republican members of Congress have downplayed the significance of the campaign finance violations, asserting that all federal candidates make paperwork mistakes and citing former President Barack Obama being fined by the Federal Election Commission for reporting errors in his financial disclosures for his 2008 presidential campaign.

    But Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California at Irvine and campaign-finance expert, drew a distinction, telling CNN that the Cohen payoffs were "not in the same league" as the Obama campaign's errors.

    "When you are dealing with a $1 billion operation, there are going to be some clerical mistakes," he said of Obama's campaign. 

    Cramer agreed.

    "An administrative error or taking a few thousand dollars over the legal limit are violations, but nobody should go to prison," he said.

    In Cohen's and Trump's case, he added, "the fact that it could have influenced an election is certainly part of the calculus in taking this criminal versus civil route."

    Trump's lead attorney, Rudy Giuliani, cited the case of former US Senator John Edwards when defending Trump. Edwards was indicted for exceeding campaign contribution limits and filing false disclosures to pay off a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair and a child.

    Edwards claimed that the payments, which were made as he was ending his 2008 presidential campaign, were intended to protect his family. A jury ultimately acquitted Edwards on one count and declared a mistrial on the others. 

    But the non-prosecution agreement with AMI says the company"further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election." 

    "One by one, the career DOJ prosecutors are removing possible Trump defenses," wrote former acting US solicitor general Neal Katyal. "Now it isn’t just Cohen, but also AMI, saying these hush money payments were made to influence the 2016 Presidential election, and knock out the so-called 'Edwards defense.'"

    Cramer echoed that view.

    "This is not the same as the John Edwards case," he said. "Difference of timing and intent."

    trump huawei

    'A crime against the political process'

    Justice Department guidelines advise against indicting a sitting president, citing Congress' oversight role and ability to impeach the president as a mechanism to hold an executive accountable for "high crimes and misdemeanors." 

    Read more: Trump has been implicated in several federal crimes, but here's why experts say he hasn't faced legal consequences

    Jens David Ohlin, a vice dean at Cornell Law School and an expert on criminal law, told INSIDER the "conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws is, like the Russian interference, evidence that the political process was severely disrupted."

    "What unites these together is a crime against the political process and one that might demand the ultimate political response from House Democrats: impeachment," he added.

    While Democrats have been wary up until now of discussing possible impeachment, the implications of the campaign-finance violations that prosecutors say he directed — and which some scholars suggest may have propelled him to the presidency — prompted some Democrats to say they were open to exploring impeachment.

    Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, who will likely become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in January, told the New York Times in a recent interview that he plans to investigate the election law violations and determine if they are "serious enough" to warrant impeachment.

    Rep. Adam Schiff, who will likely be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote on Twitter that"[Cohen's] sentencing today demonstrates that nobody is above the law. Not the personal lawyer to the President of the United States. Or the President himself."

    Read more:There really aren't too many Democrats in Congress who want to impeach Trump

    Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported Wednesday that other House Democratic leaders such as presumed incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi and incoming majority leader Steny Hoyer are facing mounting pressure to explore impeachment as more legally problematic information involving Trump and his campaign trickles out. 

    Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, who introduced impeachment articles in 2017, told Bloomberg that evidence of campaign finance fraud "is going to be such that they will have no choice but to support impeachment."

    Nancy Pelosi

    Democrats may hold back now, but things 'could look very different' down the road

    Andy Wright, a former Associate White House Counsel to Obama and Assistant Counsel to Vice President Al Gore, told INSIDER in a Wednesday phone interview that while members of Congress may be hesitant to impeach now, "the evidence is starting to stack up that the president was involved in criminal activity."

    At the same time, he said, "you have to weight that against the very incendiary nature of impeachment, which is a reversal of an election."

    Wright added that while Cohen's admissions and sentencing represents a "clear-cut case of potential criminal conduct" and raises the likelihood that Trump will be impeached, "I don't think we've gotten to the tipping point yet, where there's a bipartisan supermajority that's going to remove the president from office, in the Senate certainly."

    "If you hold everything constant now, it probably wouldn't be the right calculus for the Democrats to move forward with impeachment," he said. "But six months from now if there have been nine more indictments, three more bombshell revelations, and a Mueller report, that could look very different."

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    riverdale jelly bean jughead archie

    Warning: Spoilers ahead for season three, episode eight of "Riverdale," titled "Outbreak."

    No one is safe after Wednesday's episode of "Riverdale" 

    During the mid-season finale of the hit CW series, Archie heads into Canada to hide from Hiram, Riverdale is under quarantine, FP and Jughead can't get back into their hometown, and Hiram is revealed to be in cahoots with the Gargoyle King

    But not everything went horribly for the town's residents. Cheryl and Toni are moving in together, Betty and the other youths escaped from the Sisters of Quiet Mercy after learning about the history of "Gryphons and Gargoyles," and fans finally got to meet Gladys and Jellybean Jones.

    As always, the CW show included some pop culture and comic references. We worked with Archie Comics to find seven details you may have missed.

    The episode title "Outbreak" comes from the 1995 movie of the same name.

    "Outbreak" was about an outbreak of a fictional virus that affected a small town in California which was then quarantined by the Army, sort of like Riverdale being quarantined.

    Jellybean is Jughead's sister from the comics.

    In the original comics, Forsythia "Jellybean" Jonesis Jughead's baby sister. 

    Gladys is Jughead's mom in the comics.

    Gladys doesn't work on cars in the comics and is often shown trying to get Jughead to do his chores and help around the house. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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