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The latest news from Business Insider

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    bird box

     

    • "Bird Box" is Netflix's latest horror movie. 
    • Some people see a religious allegory, while others have theories involving parenting fears, racism, and social media.
    • Another theory involves mental health and society's often negative portrayal of people suffering from mental illnesses.
    • Warning: Major spoilers for "Bird Box" ahead. 

    Netflix's new post-apocalyptic horror film "Bird Box" seems to be the talk of the internet. The popular film has spawned a plethora of light-hearted memes and some critique regarding its portrayal of mental illness

    One of the biggest questions we’re left with after watching the movie: What's it really all about?

    It could be about the terrible fears that come with becoming a new parent.

    Malorie — as played by Sandra Bullock — is a very forceful, fierce mother to children she hasn't even named through most of the movie, as she opts instead to call them Boy and Girl.

    Although we're able to observe that she thinks she's doing her best to protect them and keep them safe, most people usually give their children names of some sort.

    Eventually, Malorie does this as well — but not until they finally arrive at the Janet Tucker School for the Blind and run into Dr. Lapham (played by Parminder Nagra) again. Only when Malorie believes they're safe does she feel that she can take this more conventional step in her life as a parent of these two young children. Is not naming them meant to protect them — or keep herself from getting too attached and having something terrible happen? We'll never know.

    Ian Sandwell wrote for Digital Spy,"Largely though, like the book, Bird Box isn't concerned with exposition about what the force is and is more about Malorie learning to accept she's a parent, along with all the fears that comes with in a post-apocalyptic world. Because if you think parenting is tough, try doing it blindfolded."

    Seemingly in agreement, Dani Di Placido, wrote for Forbes, "it’s pretty clear from the outset that this film is about the psychological struggle of parenthood. "



    It might simply be a modern nod to the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

    Malerman himself has said that while he's read and appreciates Lovecraft, regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors of horror, he's definitely no scholar of his works. If you're at all familiar with Lovecraft's works, however, there's no way to watch this film and miss that Lovecraftian influence.

    As Narayan Liu wrote for CBR,

    "The monsters in 'Bird Box' implement Lovecraftian elements differently, but no less obviously. Starring Sandra Bullock, the film depicts its unseen creatures as supernatural, in one way or another, with an ability to drive insane anyone who sets eyes upon them. It's the same effect triggered in Lovecraft's stories by 'Cthulhu' and all the 'Great Old Ones.' We don't know what the creatures in the film look like, we only have the sketches by the character Gary to go on, and that's enough.

    The most terrifying thing about a Lovecraftian monster isn't their ghastly appearance, but instead their unimaginable power. 'Bird Box' places that front and center. That's why, no matter what the narrative failings may be, the monsters are consistently praised as the most memorable part of the film."



    It could be about demons.

    Another possibility is demons. Those malevolent creatures love wreaking havoc and if they can drive humans to harm themselves or each other, so much the better, according to this theory.

    Redditor lionsatethem wrote,

    "Using the hint given to us in the beginning of the movie by Charlie, the creatures were most likely a religion-related plague, brought upon by humanity itself. An appropriate label for these creatures are Fallen Angels or, more commonly, Demons.

    In the Bible, demons are described as creatures so conceptually foul and inherently 'incorrect' that humans would simply go mad had they ever been subject to directly looking at such an impossibly horrid entity. In the film, this theme is painfully evident. Those who catch even the slightest glimpse of the 'creatures' are instantly driven mad, swiftly taking their own life, as if the horrific form they see essentially ruins their lives to such an extent that, in order to relieve themselves of such a nightmarish image, the affected are driven to the point of clinging to suicide for salvation from what they'd witnessed.

    As for those, like Gary, who are able to look directly at these creatures and are seemingly enslaved by the image, it fits perfectly with the notion of Demons enslaving humans in order to further destroy humans. It's explained in the Bible that the demons' hatred for humans is so potent that, because they do not have the authority to touch us personally, they seek the next best option - trickery in order to achieve a self-destructive humanity."



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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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.

    DSC_0246

    • The BioLite FirePit is a fan-powered, app-controlled marvel of the great outdoors in the 21st century.
    • A rechargeable, motorized, Bluetooth-ready fan pumps air through two parallel tubes that create a vortex.
    • Use charcoal or wood, and cook just about anything on the hibachi grate that comes included.
    • Adjust the flame with the swipe of your finger to control your heat output or cooking temperature.

    Something about plastics and electronics sitting at the edge of a fire may alarm you — it did me.

    But, by Jove, BioLite's FirePit is a masterfully-engineered contraption built to foster, contain, and withstand the hottest little blaze you can muster, which, thanks to the fan, you can tend all night from the same seat without a single faceful of smoke. If that isn't at least a small miracle, I don't know what is.

    The Bluetooth-connected, USB-charged fan, by the way, is what sets the FirePit apart. It hooks up to the side of the wire mesh cage (enabling a 360° view of your glorious flame within) and blows air through two hole-riddled tubes to create a vortex for optimal fuel burning and almost no smoke.

    Screen Shot 2018 11 15 at 12.25.34 PM

    On the subject of fuel, the FirePit burns both charcoal and wood, each with astounding efficiency. The only adjustments you'll want to make when switching between the two is lowering the fuel rack for wood and raising it for charcoal (and maybe for cooking), and tossing on the grill grate when you want to cook.

    Out of the box, it's recommended by BioLite that your first fire be a wood fire. This builds a layer of ash in the basin, which, they say, makes the perfect base for charcoal fires. I can confirm they're not wrong.

    We started out with nothing but a bit of paper, a few precious drops of lighter fluid, some very wet wood, and not a whole lot of hope. We'd get a corner of a besotted piece of wood lit just barely before it would flicker out. After a few tries and no lasting luck, we affixed the electronic fan and got it rolling, from which point on we didn't even need to touch the thing.

    Once you get your fire rolling reasonably well, all you have to do is connect your phone to the BioLite app and watch, perhaps in awe, as the size of your flame corresponds almost instantaneously to the swipe of your finger (or thumb) upon your screen.

    DSC_0037

    The FirePit can hold about eight pieces of cordwood, which might not sound like much, but burning as optimally as it does, is plenty.

    Once you're done with your fire, turn the fan off and take it inside. While it may survive rain or snow if the electronic ports are properly capped, you may want to charge it anyhow. As for the FirePit itself, make sure the fire and embers are out before attaching the cover and calling it a night or carrying on with further endeavors.

    Perhaps as heartwarming as their wildly futuristic fire basin is BioLite Energy's humanitarian endeavor to bring heat and light to off-grid households around the world. To date, they've either illuminated, heated, or otherwise equipped, by their estimates, some 300,000 people around the world to date. They also have offices in Uganda, Kenya, India, in addition to their Brooklyn, New York headquarters, which is fun, but respectably modest, I ought to add.

    You could do a lot worse — though hardly any better, I'm convinced — for a small outdoor fire pit or grill than the BioLite FirePit, especially in an urban or suburban setting where outdoor space is limited and large plums of smoke from traditional fire pits are cause for alarm, if not a visit from some faction of your local authorities.

    Thanks in large part to how easy it was to control the flame, cooking was a breeze:

    DSC_0265

    DSC_0108

    DSC_0086

    DSC_0289

    DSC_0278

    Cooking with the BioLite FirePit was a delightful breeze. I found it a relaxing relegation of duty to sit several yards from my production, effortlessly (and somehow familiarly) swiping left or right to tamp or fan my flame.

    I was able to sit back and entertain while still keeping an eye on everything. I might not be the most technologically inclined millennial on this planet, but there is a lot to be said for a remote-controlled campfire and stove (in effect). Between tossing things on and pulling them off, I never once had to come within arm's length of the FirePit, and certain dishes that I felt would be better off contained in a skillet cooked wonderfully — especially the marinated tuna belly, which I was afraid might fall apart if placed directly on the grate.

    In short, the BioLite FirePit fan gets things roaring in a flash whether you're using charcoal or wood, though BioLite does advise (and I agree) that having a good base of wood-fire coals makes this little thing shine.

    It's going to live in my backyard for the winter, and on my boat this summer for island hopping and fish frying, when I'll probably put it through hell and report back with more.

    Buy the BioLite FirePit from BioLite for $199.95 on BioLite's website. Also find it at Amazon and REI

    SEE ALSO: The best camping gear you can buy

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Moderna therapeutics

    • Moderna Therapeutics had a record-breaking initial public offering in December, but has tumbled 35% from its debut price to about $15 per share. 
    • On Wednesday, Wall Street analysts issued their price targets for Moderna. With the exception of JPMorgan and Barclays, all were above Moderna's $23 IPO price. 
    • Watch Moderna trade in real time. 

    The buzzy biotech Moderna broke records with its initial public offering last month, but its track record since has fallen short.

    Moderna, which is developing messenger RNA-based therapies for cancer, infectious diseases and more, went public at $23 a share in early December. The stock fell in its trading debut, and has keep on tumbling since. It now trades for about $15 a share. 

    Wall Street analysts began putting out research reports on the biotech on Wednesday. The reports provide an overview of Moderna's business prospects, and offer an estimate of what the stock is worth.

    Much of Wall Street has high hopes for the stock, including big-name firms Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley had the highest price target among analyst notes reviewed by Business Insider, at $29.

    "For us, we continue to view the strength of the platform as a major competitive advantage and see data as the clear way to address the bear case," Morgan Stanley wrote. 

    JPMorgan, which helped lead the IPO, was a notable exception. JPMorgan issued a price target of $22 on Wednesday, below Moderna's IPO price tag, though still above where it’s trading now.

    Moderna's valuation is a `sticking point' for JPMorgan

    "The company’s unprecedented valuation has been a sticking point," JPMorgan analyst Cory Kasimov noted, given a crucial risk: that its mRNA medicines may not work. "While we acknowledge this is a long-term story, we believe weakness post-IPO presents a more enticing opportunity."

    Key Moderna price targets include: 

    • Morgan Stanley: $29
    • Oppenheimer: $27
    • Goldman Sachs: $25
    • JPMorgan: $22
    • Barclays: $20

    Read more: Moderna tumbled in its Wall Street debut after the biggest IPO in biotech history

    Turning the body into a drug factory

    A key component of the excitement surrounding Moderna is its technology: messenger RNA, which has long been seen as having enormous potential to treat disease.

    The idea is that by putting messenger RNA into the body, it can turn the body into a drug factory, pumping out the proteins needed to fight a particular disease like a virus or cancer.

    Yet turning that potential from theory to practice has been the challenge.

    Moderna’s approach centers around modifying a component of RNA called uridine, so that internal bodily mechanisms won’t get in the way of its drugs.

    Other companies are also working in this area, but Moderna has wowed many on Wall Street with how much it has accomplished in a relatively short amount of time.

    Moderna doesn't have any drugs on the market

    Founded in 2010, the biotech had just one employee when CEO Stéphane Bancel joined the following year.

    Now, though, it has brought 21 drug development programs along, 13 of which are a focus, and has ushered an impressive number of them into clinical trials, according to Oppenheimer analyst Leah Rush Cann. 

    "Moderna has advanced ten compounds into the clinic during this time, an unprecedented number during this time frame for any biotech company previously," Rush Cann said.

    J.P. Morgan’s Kasimov also praised Moderna’s “disruptive platform with a formidable pipeline to match.”

    Notably, though, Moderna’s medicines have not yet been reviewed or approved by US regulators, and aren’t expected to be for the next several years.

    Oppenheimer’s Rush Cann, for example, projects that Moderna could bring in its first product revenue in 2024, and estimates that revenue could balloon to $28 billion in 2030.

    Barclays has the lowest price target for Moderna

    Barclays analyst Geoff Meacham set a price target at $20 on Wednesday. His thinking: It gives investors a chance to get in now before more data from clinical trials read out.

    Moderna declined to comment on the price targets. 

    Other investors have been more skeptical of Moderna’s success. When sharing her 2019 predictions, Venrock partner Cami Samuels said she’s expecting Moderna to exit at a $3 billion valuation. That’s less than half of its valuation at the IPO, and even further below where Moderna was trading on Wednesday, when it had around a $5 billion valuation.

    "It's hard for me, looking at their pipeline, to figure out why they're valued five times, six times [as much as] other companies with the same pipeline," said Samuels, whose firm makes investments in technology and healthcare companies.

    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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    Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Bryant

    • Kobe and Vanessa Bryant announced they are expecting their fourth child.
    • Even though Bryant is retired from the NBA and no longer the highest-paid player, he is as busy as ever.
    • While Kobe has an insane work ethic and has historically been completely consumed by basketball, he has found time to enjoy life and pursue ventures off of the court in his retirement.

    Kobe Bryant was once the highest-paid and most electric player in the NBA.

    While Kobe has an insane work ethic and has historically been completely consumed by basketball, he has found time to enjoy life and pursue ventures off of the court in his retirement. In addition to collecting beautiful houses, fancy cars, and even a helicopter, the Black Mamba has mentored up-and-coming NBA stars, invested in projects in tech, athletics, and entertainment, and even won an Oscar. 

    Needless to say, Bryant is living the life — saying and doing whatever he wants in an endlessly entertaining fashion.

    Tony Manfred contributed to this report.

    Let's take a closer look at how Kobe spends his millions:

    He went to high school in the Philly suburbs, but he grew up in Italy. He loves Italian cars.



    He once walked into a Ferrari dealership and wrote a $329,000 check for a 458 Italia.

    SOURCE: TMZ



    He has owned a Lamborghini, a Bentley, and a Range Rover.

    SOURCE: Pricing Insider



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    maturity of AI solutions

    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

    Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most commonly referenced terms by financial institutions (FIs) and payments firms when describing their vision for the future of financial services. 

    AI can be applied in almost every area of financial services, but the combination of its potential and complexity has made AI a buzzword, and led to its inclusion in many descriptions of new software, solutions, and systems.

    This report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, cuts through the hype to offer an overview of different types of AI, and where they have potential applications within banking and payments. It also emphasizes which applications are most mature, provides recommendations of how FIs should approach using the technology, and offers examples of where FIs and payments firms are already leveraging AI. The report draws on executive interviews Business Insider Intelligence conducted with leading financial services providers, such as Bank of America, Capital One, and Mastercard, as well as top AI vendors like Feedzai, Expert System, and Kasisto.

    Here are some of the key takeaways:

    • AI, or technologies that simulate human intelligence, is a trending topic in banking and payments circles. It comes in many different forms, and is lauded by many CEOs, CTOs, and strategy teams as their saving grace in a rapidly changing financial ecosystem.
    • Banks are using AI on the front end to secure customer identities, mimic bank employees, deepen digital interactions, and engage customers across channels.
    • Banks are also using AI on the back end to aid employees, automate processes, and preempt problems.
    • In payments, AI is being used in fraud prevention and detection, anti-money laundering (AML), and to grow conversational payments volume.

     In full, the report:

    • Offers an overview of different types of AI and their applications in payments and banking. 
    • Highlights which of these applications are most mature.
    • Offers examples where FIs and payments firms are already using the technology. 
    • Provides descriptions of vendors of different AI-based solutions that FIs may want to consider using.
    • Gives recommendations of how FIs and payments firms should approach using the technology.

    Subscribe to an All-Access membership 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!
    Learn More

    Purchase & download the full report from our research store

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Ferrari Monza SP1

    • The Ferrari Monza SP1 and SP2 are part of a new Icona lineup.
    • The cars evoke classic racing Ferraris of the past — and they're priced for exclusivity, at nearly $2 million.
    • They're "barchetta" designs, with no windshields but with available Ferrari-branded carbon-fiber helmets.


    Ferraris are already exclusive, but there are some Ferraris that are more exclusive than others.

    The newest prancing horses to join the stable are the Icona Monza SP1 and SP2. Only 500 will be produced, and they're set to priced around $1.75 million apiece. 

    The Monzas evoke Ferraris long, long history in racing. "The ... SP1 and SP2 are inspired by barchettas of the 1950s which were driven to victory in international motor sport not just by official works team drivers from the Scuderia, but also by a legion of gentlemen drivers who, in those years, frequently found themselves wheel to wheel with legendary professional drivers of the era," the Italian carmaker said last year when the due was revealed.

    I recently had a chance to drop by Ferrari's North American headquarters to check out the Monza SP1. Here's how it went:

     

    FOLLOW US: On Facebook for more car and transportation content!

    The Monza SP1 is a "barchetta" ("little boast" in Italian). You'll need a helmet with a face-shield. Or goggles. Or some very fashionable sunglasses. Because the Monza has no top and no windshield.



    The SP1 has a partner in style: the SP2, adding a seat. Both cars are Ferrari specials, and only 500 will be built, all based off customer specifications. Ferrari announced the cars last year.



    Ferrari brought this impeccable example of the 750 Monza from 1955 to its North American HQ to celebrate the new Monza SP1 and SP2 — together they form the basis of ...



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    iphone x

    • Smartphones are really expensive right now.
    • Two years ago, the starting price of the newest iPhone was $649. Today, the iPhone XR starts at $749, and the iPhone XS starts at $1,000.
    • Other top phone makers have raised their prices in response to the iPhone. Google's Pixel 3 XL starts at $900, LG's V40 Thinq starts around $950, and Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 starts at $1,000.
    • Holding onto your current smartphone for as long as possible ensures you get the most value for your purchase — and it sends a strong signal to phone makers as well.

    SEE ALSO: The 10 best smartphones made in 2018 that are worth your money

    Apple shocked the world in 2017 when it unveiled the iPhone X.



    But people were more shocked by the phone's starting price of $1,000, than by its radical redesign.



    Still, Apple's strategy worked: Customers loved the iPhone X, despite it having a higher starting price than ever before.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    trumpeter swan

    • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) keeps a record of animals, fungi, and plants that are on the brink of extinction on their Red List of Threatened Species.
    • There are more than 26,500 species that are threatened with extinction, including 14% of birds.
    • Even though some species are at risk of becoming extinct, they can still make a comeback.

    TheInternational Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) keeps a record of animals, fungi, and plants that are on the brink of extinction on theirRed List of Threatened Species.

    For each of the 96,500 total species that have been analyzed by the IUCN, each is listed on a scale of danger that goes: Extinct, Extinct in the wild, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened, and Least Concern.

    There are more than 26,500 species that are threatened with extinction on the list, including 14% of birds, according to theIUCN.

    Just because a species is at risk of becoming extinct, however, doesn’t mean it will. With the work of conservationists, animals can come back and thrive.  

    Here are 10 birds species that returned from the brink of extinction.

    The northern bald ibis went from critically endangered to endangered this year.

    Thenorthern bald ibis, from Morocco, was at an all-time low of 59 breeding pairs in 1998 because of hunting, pesticides, and loss of habitat, according toBirdLife.org, but today numbers have risen to 147 breeding pairs and the birds spread to two new breeding sites in 2017.

    Though there is still work to be done to get the bird off the endangered list, conservationists have hope it will be possible to recover the northern bald ibis fully.



    The pink pigeon went from endangered to vulnerable this year.

    By 1990, thepink pigeon, native to the island of Mauritius — the home of the extinct Dodo bird — had only 10 wild birds, according toBirdLife.org. After a decade of work to save the bird, conservationists were able to help the number of pink pigeons in the wild reach 300 and get the bird moved from critically endangered to endangered in 2000.

    This year, with 400 pink pigeons in the wild, they were downlisted again to Vulnerable.  



    There were only 70 Lear’s macaw in the wild in the 1980s.

    Native to Brazil, the beautiful blueLear's Macaw was a popular victim of the pet trade. From the end of the 1970s to the late 1980s, the Lear’s Macaw population dropped significantly, to the point of there being only 70 known birds in the wild, according to theAmerican Bird Conservancy.

    Today, though the bird is listed as endangered, the population of mature individuals is estimated to be between 250-999, according to theRed List.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    weight loss

    • Weight gain while working out could be muscle gain.
    • There could be underlying reasons why you are gaining weight.
    • This can happen even if you have been working out regularly.

    It can be difficult to lose weight, often involving intense workout sessions and regular exercise routines. And it can be especially frustrating to gain weight when you don't want to, especially if you're striving to live a healthier lifestyle. 

    Part of that weight gain might be muscle mass that's building up, since muscle is heavier than fat. But there are several other causes of weight gain that have nothing to do with exercise.

    Here are 10 reasons you could be gaining weight, even if you have good exercise habits.

    You're not eating healthy enough.

    Weight loss actually begins with a healthy diet, according to Dr. John P. Salerno, founder ofThe Salerno Center, where weight loss management is one of several treatments offered.

    "It starts with the diet and I think you augment your life expectancy and the quality of your life by adding the exercise component," he told INSIDER. "They're both extremely important and I think that we should all develop habits for both, meaning that you can't exercise and eat badly and you can't not exercise and eat well. You still have to have the two components together."

    However, he added, people sometimes think when they exercise, they can "get away" with eating unhealthy foods and still lose weight.

    "People that tend to exercise think they can get away with eating foods that they feel they'll burn off. It doesn't quite work that way," he said.



    You're not eating smart enough.

    A healthy diet isn't only about eating healthy types of food, though — you have to be smart about what kinds of healthy foods. You don't want to be eating or drinking empty calories, even if they aren't "bad" for you.

    "What happens [when I eat or drink empty calories] is, I'm hungry two hours later, or an hour later," head nutrition coach and co-founder ofNYC Health and Nutrition Irina Popa-Erwin told INSIDER. "Counting calories, we're not always making the best decisions. Because what is very important for a balanced meal is the amount of protein that we need per day."

    "Protein is what supports your muscle," she added. "Metabolism is actually what helps your muscle burn the fat, but because with aging we don't absorb the same amount of protein or we don't eat the right amount of protein, the muscle doesn't have the fuel to burn the fat. So then the metabolism starts to slow down and of course, the body will start gaining fat and not be able to lose the weight, no matter how much you work out."



    You're eating too much.

    The amount of food you're eating could also be contributing to weight gain.

    "A lot of times, exercise will increase hunger," Dr. Salerno said. "[People will] tend to actually eat a little bit more than they probably would have if they did exercise. Not to discourage exercise, because it's still extremely important, but that can be an issue."

    Of course, if you're hungry, you should eat, but it's worth taking a look at your eating habits and seeing if some of your eating is mindless or you're letting yourself go too long without eating, causing you to overeat. 

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Trump baseball bat

    • President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he essentially "fired" former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, criticizing the outgoing defense chief's service,
    • "What's he done for me? How had he done in Afghanistan? Not too good," Trump said at a Wednesday Cabinet meeting.

    President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he essentially "fired" former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, criticizing the outgoing defense chief's service in the Marine Corps and his two years leading the Defense Department.

    "What's he done for me? How had he done in Afghanistan? Not too good," Trump said at a Cabinet meeting, according to Bloomberg News. "As you know, President Obama fired him, and essentially so did I," he explained to reporters, contradicting an earlier statement.

    "I think I would've been a good general, but who knows," the president, who has not served in the military and sought five deferments to avoid being sent to Vietnam, further remarked.

    Plans for Mattis to step down as the defense secretary were first announced in a presidential tweet that said the revered former Marine general was retiring.

    Mattis actually resigned over policy differences with the president, according to the former secretary's resignation letter. "Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours ..., I believe it is right for me to step down from my position."

    Trump's decision to abruptly withdraw from Syria was reportedly the final straw for Mattis, leaving the remainder of the ISIS fight to Turkey and the Kurdish fighters the US military has partnered with, whom Turkey has seen as a threat.

    Mattis ended a legendary 44-year career in the Marine Corps in 2013. As the head of US Central Command, then-Gen. Mattis was reportedly forced into retirement early by the Obama administration for taking a hard line on Iran.

    Read more: 19 unforgettable quotes from legendary Marine Gen. Jim 'Mad Dog' Mattis, who just quit as Trump's defense secretary

    While Mattis was initially expected to serve until the end of February, President Trump decided to force him out early, tweeting that Patrick Shanahan, previously the deputy secretary of defense, would take over as acting secretary of defense on Jan. 1, which he did.

    In a string of tweets on New Year's Eve, Trump trashed "failed generals" who dared to criticize his policy decisions, a shot at retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal in particular.

    SEE ALSO: Defense Secretary James Mattis quits, says his views aren't 'aligned' with Trump as the president upends major US policies

    SEE ALSO: Trump bashes 'failed Generals' in a barrage of tweets on New Year's Eve

    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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    Tesla Model X vs Chevy SIlverado

    De-ICE-ing is happening at more places than just airports.

    Last week, Business Insider reported on a spate of truck drivers parking in Tesla supercharger spots, and in at least one case, harassing a Tesla owner. Other electric vehicle drivers have come to call these incidents ICE-ing, an acronym from internal combustion engine.

    That spurred an idea for Patrick Lawson: what if he could tow a gas-burning car out of the way if it was blocking a charter? And that’s exactly what he set out to see.

    Using his sister's Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup at the Loveland, Colorado supercharger, Patrick successfully moved the 5,000-pound truck.

    Read more: Truck owners are blocking Tesla Superchargers in 'ICE-ing' protests

    "It actually turned out to be incredibly easy to tow a pickup truck with a Tesla Model X," Lawson said in a YouTube video about the test, which was first reported by  the blog Teslarati."I was going kind of slow to make sure we didn’t break anything, or hit the curb or super charger. The car didn’t struggle in any way shape or form."

    Icy conditions (no pun intended) may have helped the towing, he admitted. The manual parking brake was not applied to the truck, though its automatic transmission was in park.

    "I just keep seeing videos of people ICE-ing, and figured this would be a good de-ICE-ing video,” Lawson said."All of us Tesla owners are super nice guys and we don’t want any confrontation with these jerks that are blocking super charger.”

    "If you need to, show them this video. If anything, they're just a minor innocence," he continued.

    Have you experienced any issues at a Tesla charger? Let me know at grapier@businessinsider.com

    SEE ALSO: Truck owners are blocking Tesla Superchargers in 'ICE-ing' protests

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Craig Jackson of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company has one of the world's most expensive private garages — take a look inside


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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.

    Native deodorant

    • Native's all-natural deodorants are super effective, easy to use, and long lasting, but best of all, they come in dozens of fun scents.
    • I've tried lots of different deodorants on my sensitive skin, and Native's is the only one that doesn't irritate me.
    • Even though natural deodorants can be hit or miss, Native's formula is just as effective at keeping odor at bay as conventional deodorants.

    Taking care yourself starts with good ingredients, and no one understands that better than Native. The San Francisco-based personal care company stands out from the crowd, thanks to its use of all natural ingredients in its deodorants, as well as its new Native Bar Soap and Native Body Wash. Native also introduces playful seasonal scents like Pumpkin Spice, Candy Cane, and more, which adds to the fun.

    The brand’s aluminium and paraben free deodorant is one of the few I’ve tried that doesn’t irritate my extremely sensitive underarms. And given the straightforward set of ingredients, that’s not surprising. Rather than the veritable laundry list of chemicals that you might find in other deodorants, Native uses just 14 natural ingredients that allow for comfortable application and all-day protection from pit stains.

    Shea butter and beeswax ensure that your skin won’t dry out, while baking soda takes care of some of that odor. There’s Vitamin E for what is thought to be a “firming and tightening” effect on the skin, and coconut oil for even more moisture.

    Of course, no new-age product would be quite complete with some new-age ingredients, so rest assured that Native also adds Acidophilus, which is a natural bacteria found in intestines, and Arrowroot Powder, which is derived from tropical plants, to its formula. But what the deodorant doesn’t contain is arguably more important. There's no aluminum, parabens, phthalates, or talc. All in all, it's a win-win.

    While some natural deodorants come in a paste-like form that requires quite a bit of handling in order to apply, Native’s deodorant is entirely solid and glides on effortlessly just like normal deodorant. Though you probably won’t need to reapply throughout the day, doing so won’t be much of a chore, as the formula feels lightweight and fresh.

    However, Native's impressive roster of scents may be my favorite thing about its deodorant. The scents manage to be unique and surprisingly scrumptious without smelling artificial or overwhelming. A personal favorite of mine is the refreshing Cucumber & Mint, though seasonal scents like Lilac & White Tea, Lemon Zest & Pomegranate, and Orange & Honeysuckle are also quite delightful.

    Should you choose to subscribe to Native and receive regular deodorant shipments, each full-sized container will set you back $10. Alternatively, a one-time purchase will cost you $12.

    The deodorants also come in packs of three for $30. You can also check out the Travel Sample Pack for $24, which comes with five travel size bars of Coconut & Vanilla, Lavender & Rose, Cucumber & Mint, Lilac & White Tea, and Orange & Honeysuckle.

    Should you, like me, decide that you want to incorporate these scents into more of your daily routines, you could also check out Native’s new Bar Soap and Body Wash, both of which are made with similar natural ingredients, like shea butter, coconut oil, and cleansers derived from coconut oil in order to hydrate and clean your skin. Like the brand’s deodorants, these soaps are they are free of sulfates, parabens, and phthalates, and are both vegan and cruelty-free.

    The bar soap can be purchased in packs of two for $10, while the body wash will go for $10. Both come in a number of tantalizing scents, including Coconut & Vanilla, Lavender & Rose, Cucumber & Mint, Eucalyptus & Mint, and Citrus & Herbal Musk. That said, if all you want is a simple, unfussy clean, you could also go for the Unscented option.

    Ultimately, if your New Year's Resolution is to go about life smelling and feeling cleaner and fresher, there’s no better place to start than Native.

    Shop Native's full line of deodorant here >>

    For more natural deodorant options, check out our full guide here.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A Harvard psychologist reveals the secret to curbing your appetite


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    donald trump stock market nasdaq

    • President Donald Trump attempted to dismiss the stock market's December fall during a meeting on Wednesday.
    • "We had a little glitch in the stock market last month," Trump said during a Cabinet meeting.
    • Stocks booked their worst December since 1931 last month, and the three major US indexes posted their biggest annual declines since 2008.

    President Donald Trump seemed to brush off the stock market's dismal December on Wednesday, attributing the worst December since the Great Depression to a "little glitch."

    "We had a little glitch in the stock market last month," Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

    The president also predicted that stocks would climb again when new trade deals were completed. The US is currently in talks with the European Union, Japan, and China about updates to current trade agreements.

    Last month was the worst December for the market since 1931, during the Great Depression. But outside the month, all three major indexes also posted their largest annual declines since 2008 — the depths of the financial crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 2018 down 5.6% for the year, while the S&P 500 declined 6.2% and the Nasdaq fell 3.9%.

    Investors and analysts offered a wide variety of explanations for the declines, including the Federal Reserve's recent interest-rate hikes and a slowdown in global economic growth. But some reasons also centered on Trump's own policies, such as the ongoing trade war with China, tariffs on steel and aluminum, and uncertainty over the government shutdown.

    Trump has long taken credit for the soaring stock market during the early part of his administration, but has noticeably slowed mentions of stocks as the market moved sideways and eventually tanked at the end of last year.

    Despite an ugly start to the day, stocks appear to have found some footing on the first trading day of 2019. All three major indexes are in the green Wednesday, with the Dow up just under 30 points, or 0.1%, and the S&P up roughly 7 points, or 0.3%, as of 2:00 p.m. ET.

    SEE ALSO: Trump's trade war with China is the biggest threat to the US economy in 2019, and it's making economists the most worried they've been in years

    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 The Digital Media Forecast Book from Business Insider Intelligence. Current subscribers can read the report here.

    Media consumption has changed rapidly over the past decade, with digital increasingly claiming a larger share of the daily time spent with media. Increased mobile usage is driving much of the growth in digital time spent, as smartphones become more powerful and capable of handling tasks otherwise completed on desktop.

    Digital Media Forecast Book 2018

    Meanwhile, cord-cutting and cord-shaving will continue as consumers seek more affordable alternatives to traditional pay-TV. Marketers need to understand the underlying consumer trends that are driving billions of dollars in global advertising, and how those behaviors are likely to play out in the near term.

    In this three-part forecast book, Business Insider Intelligence forecasts how much time users spend consuming each format as we approach peak media, and how those changes reflect how advertising dollars are spent globally and in the US.

     

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    ultima thule new horizons 2014 mu69 kuiper belt nasa jhuapl swri steve gribben

    • Scientists flew the New Horizons probe flew past a space rock called 2014 MU69 on New Year's Day.
    • MU69 (nicknamed Ultima Thule) is 4 billion miles from Earth and the most distant object humanity has ever explored.
    • NASA's spacecraft recorded hundreds of photos of MU69, and researchers just unveiled the first images of the object.
    • The pictures show MU69 is reddish in color and shaped like a snowman.
    • Getting all of the flyby data could take about two years, but the resulting information may reveal how planets formed in our solar system some 4.5 billion years ago.

    On New Year's Day, scientists flew NASA's nuclear-powered New Horizons probe past a mysterious, mountain-size object.

    The space rock is known formally as (486958) 2014 MU69, though more commonly as "Ultima Thule" (a nickname that has garnered some controversy — see editor's note below). It's located more than 4 billion miles from Earth and 1 billion miles beyond Pluto, making MU69 the farthest object humanity has ever explored up-close.

    New Horizons recorded hundreds of photos in a highly choreographed flyby at 32,200 miles per hour, and it came within about 2,200 miles of MU69. On Wednesday, researchers giddily revealed the first photographic spoils of their unprecedented mission.

    "It's a snowman,"Alan Stern, who leads the New Horizons mission, said of the object's shape during a press conference on Wednesday.

    Ultima thule snowman

    Stern explained that MU69 appears to be what's technically called a contact binary, or "two completely separate objects now joined together."

    Jeff Moore, the co-investigator of the New Horizons mission, said during the briefing that the two lobes of MU69 likely smooshed together at a speed so slow that, if it were a vehicle crash, you wouldn't even have to call your car insurance company.

    ultima thule

    Another NASA scientist referred to is as a bilobate comet that's never journeyed near the sun.

    No one really knew what MU69 looked like until this week. Fuzzy images captured before the flyby led some scientists to guess it was an elongated object, shaped like a bowling pin or peanut, or perhaps two objects caught in tight orbit with each other.

    The first low-resolution pictures beamed to Earth from New Horizons show MU69 is one object formed from two, and has reddish coloring. Scientists compared the hue to that of Pluto's moon Charon.

    Ultima Thule Charon

    "We can definitely say Ultima Thule is red," Carly Howett, a co-investigator of the New Horizons mission, said during the briefing.

    New Horizons team members are expecting to get the highest-resolution color photos in February, Stern previously told Business Insider. He also said the team would start writing its first scientific paper (based on the data it already has) next week.

    ultima thule

    "This is going to revolutionize our knowledge of planetary science," Stern said of the flyby.

    An unprecedented bonus mission beyond Pluto

    The mission to fly past MU69 was as surprising as it was ambitious.

    When NASA launched New Horizons toward Pluto in 2006, nobody knew MU69 existed. There wasn't even a reliable way to detect the object until astronauts plugged an upgraded camera into the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009.

    kuiper belt objects kbos pluto new horizons flight path ultima thule 2014 mu69 alex parker jhuapl swri

    New Horizons achieved the first-ever visit to Plutoin 2015. Once the probe finished that main mission in July 2019, it coasted farther into a zone called the Kuiper Belt. In this cold and icy region, sunlight is about as weak as the light from a full moon on Earth. That far away, frozen leftovers of the solar system's formation called Kuiper Belt Objects, or KBOs, lurk in vast numbers. (Pluto is one of them.)

    MU69 is one of these pristine remnants. It has presumably remained in its distant and icy orbit for billions of years.

    MU69 is "the most primitive object that has yet been seen by any spacecraft," Moore said during the Wednesday briefing. Each of its two lobes were formed within thousands or millions of years of the solar system's formation, he added.

    The unprecedented data acquired by New Horizons could therefore reveal new clues about how the solar system evolved to form planets like Earth.

    "Ultima is the first thing we've been to that is not big enough to have a geological engine like a planet, and also something that's never been warmed greatly by the sun," Stern previously told Business Insider. "It's like a time capsule from 4.5 billion years ago. That's what makes it so special."

    He compared the flyby to an archaeological dig in Egypt.

    "It's like the first time someone opened up the pharaoh's tomb and went inside, and you see what the culture was like 1,000 years ago," he said. "Except this is exploring the dawn of the solar system."

    asteroids asteroid field star nasa jpl 717846main_pia16610_full

    Another analogy: Stern said he thinks of MU69 as a "planetary embryo," since it's a building block of larger planets that never became one.

    "In that sense, it's like a paleontologist finding the fossilized embryo of a dinosaur," Stern said. "It has a very special value."

    The long wait for more New Horizons data

    new horizons rtg

    "What is striking home with me is that we can build a spacecraft on Earth, and we send it out billions of miles away from Earth, and it sends us back all this wonderful data that we get to look at and learn more about our world, our solar system,"Alice Bowman, the New Horizons mission operations manager, said during Tuesday's press conference.

    According to Stern, the first images New Horizons captured during the flyby each took two hours to transmit. Then each bit of data, moving at the speed of light as radio waves, took about six hours to reach antennas on Earth.

    Although the first images are now public, it will take much longer to receive the most detailed, full-resolution images due to physical limitations of the New Horizons spacecraft and its location. It may take 20 months to download all of the probe's data.

    Part of the reason it will take so long is because the output of the spacecraft's radio antenna is now about 15 Watts — or one-quarter of a standard light bulb's power — and it's broadcasting from 4 billion miles away.

    '10,000 times harder than reaching Pluto'

    This flyby was dramatically more difficult than New Horizons' Pluto visit, Stern said.

    pluto dwarf planet charon moon new horizons nasa jhuapl swri

    "Rendezvousing with something the size of a large, filthy mountain covered in dirt, a billion miles away from Pluto, and honing in on it is about 10,000 times harder than reaching Pluto," Stern said. "That's because it's about 10,000 times smaller. The achievement of getting to it is unbelievable."

    Pinpointing exactly where MU69 would be in space when New Horizons could fly near it required a "two and a half week odyssey" of telescope observations around the world, mission scientist Simon Porter said on Twitter.

    To see MU69 block the light of a distant star — a way to confirm the space rock's precise orbit — the researchers had to fly an airplane-based telescope called SOFIA and deploy dozens of telescopes in Argentina.

    In a New York Times op-ed published on New Year's Eve, Stern described the encounter as "mind-boggling."

    "As you celebrate New Year's Day, cast an eye upward and think for a moment about the amazing things our country and our species can do when we set our minds to it," Stern wrote.

    Editor's note: After a public campaign, the New Horizons team selected Ultima Thule as a nickname for (486958) 2014 MU69. However, we've de-emphasized it here because the Nazi party used the word "Thule" as a tenet of its ideology.

    SEE ALSO: Is it Planet 9 or Planet X? Scientists spar over what to call the solar system's hypothetical missing world

    DON'T MISS: Pluto is hiding a gigantic liquid ocean you would never, ever want to swim in

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: NASA has over 100 images of Pluto — and the footage is breathtaking


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    Commack High School

    • Andrea Bryan, a high school English teacher at Commack High School on New York's Long Island, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against her school district.
    • She claimed a teacher told her a table was for "whites only," and asked her to "translate slave talk."
    • Bryan also claimed in her lawsuit that students called her "Aunt Jemima" in the cafeteria.
    • She claimed that when she reported one teacher's behavior, she was "ostracized and made a pariah" within the school's English department.
    • The district didn't immediately respond to INSIDER's request for comment.

    A black educator in New York claims she faced racial discrimination from her colleagues and students for years, with one teacher telling her a table was for "whites only," and students repeatedly calling her "Aunt Jemima," according to a racial discrimination lawsuit seen by INSIDER.

    Andrea Bryan, a high school English teacher, filed a lawsuit against the Commack School District on Long Island in which she claims she has been discriminated against and harassed by teachers and students since she made a complaint about the English department's lead teacher at Commack High School in 2015.

    Bryan, identified as a black female of Caribbean decent in court documents filed on December 19 and first reported by NBC News, said she was the only black teacher in the school district for 17 years.

    She alleged that Commack's lead English teacher, a white male, made "racially derogatory comments" against her on multiple occasions.

    Bryan, her lawyer, and the Commack Union Free School district didn't immediately respond to INSIDER's request for comment.

    Teachers allegedly ostracized her for making a complaint

    On one occasion, when Bryan asked the teacher about peanuts on a table in the English office, he told her the food was for "whites only," according to the lawsuit.

    In another instance, when the English department was teaching the play "The Crucible," which features a black slave from Barbados, the teacher allegedly asked Bryan to "translate slave talk" and to "'speak' her Barbados," the lawsuit alleges.

    Following the comments, which the lawsuit says left Bryan feeling "humiliated, degraded, and embarrassed," she filed a complaint against the lead teacher.

    Read more: A former executive is suing Marriott Vacations Worldwide for racial discrimination, claiming colleagues told him to dance to Michael Jackson and compared him to 'Buckwheat'

    The lead teacher was apparently demoted following the complaint, but Bryan claimed she was "ostracized and made a pariah" within the English department.

    She claimed that other teachers ignored her questions in meetings, and hung a "racially disparaging poster depicting a Caribbean black male with dreadlocks" in the English department's office.

    On another occasion, she was gifted a bottle of hand sanitizer at a Secret Santa, where the monetary amount for gifts was set at $50.

    According to the lawsuit, Bryan "understood that she was presented with hand sanitizer because she is black and, therefore dirty in view of her colleagues."

    Students allegedly called her 'Aunt Jemima'

    Bryan also alleges that students at Commack High School, which was 86% white in the 2015-2016 school year, according to the New York State Education Department, made "racial jeers, insults and taunts" toward her.

    On more than one occasion, Bryan claimed students called her "Aunt Jemima" and asked her if she "had any maple syrup." She also alleges one white student came to school dressed as Aunt Jemima in blackface in October 2009.

    Bryan has accused the Commack School District of failing to act on her complaints of alleged harassment and discrimination, causing an "atmosphere of racial harassment and intimidation."

    A spokeswoman for the district told NBC News that all of Bryan's claims "have been investigated, and, to the extent appropriate, promptly addressed."

    "The District takes any allegation of discrimination seriously and, as a matter of policy and practice, acts swiftly in response to any claim," the spokeswoman said.

    Bryan is seeking an undetermined amount of damages. The lawsuit is ongoing.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Bernie Madoff was arrested 10 years ago today — here's what his life is like in prison


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    britney spears

    • Britney Spears has been in the limelight for 20 years now.
    • She first jumped into our hearts with her first single "Baby One More Time."
    • There is a lot going on with the Princess of pop, here are the things you probably didn't know about her.

    She's been one of the most famous pop stars in the world ever since the release of her debut single, "...Baby One More Time," in 1998, but there are still plenty of things about Britney Spears that even longtime fans might not know.

    Spears has had a music career that spans more than two decades and continues to influence artists of all genres, but these little-known facts will surprise even those who think they know everything about the princess of pop.

    These are the 24 most surprising facts about Britney Spears, from the famous royal she almost dated to the one thing in her career she regrets the most.

    She started out as a dancer and a gymnast.

    Though she's one of the top-selling pop artists of all time, the "Everytime" singer is also known for her impressive dance skills. And it's all because of her background in gymnastics and dance, which she honed from an early age, performing in local talent competitions and recitals.

    In 1999, she told Variety that she traveled an hour from her home to take dance lessons and also studied at the Off-Broadway Dance Center in New York City, which helped prepare her for touring the globe as a teen idol.

    These days, she shows off her gymnastic skills both onstage and on social media, posting Instagram videos of her intense workouts and gravity-defying dance routines.



    She made her singing debut at the ripe old age of 5.

    In 1999, Spears told Rolling Stone that she began singing into a hairbrush at just 2-years-old, before making her stage debut singing "What Child Is This" at her kindergarten graduation. She told the magazine, "I found out what I'm supposed to do at an early age."



    At first, she was actually rejected from "The All New Mickey Mouse Club."

    Spears famously starred on the Disney Channel's "All New Mickey Mouse Club" alongside fellow celebrities like Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, Keri Russell, Justin Timberlake, and JC Chasez, but she was actually rejected from the show at first, only because she was too young at the time.

    She was 8 years old at her first audition, so the casting directors told her to continue studying acting, singing, and dancing before she made her triumphant return to the teen variety show two years later.

    In that time, she starred in TV commercials, appeared on "Star Search," and studied at New York's Professional Performing Arts School for three summers, according to her 1999 interviews with both Variety and Rolling Stone.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • Disney World raised its prices twice in 2018 and switched to a dynamic pricing model that charges higher prices during peak summer months and winter holidays.
    • This is the fourth time in park history that annual pass prices were raised twice in the same year.
    • The new model prices out many of its pass holders in the middle class — the old model doesn't work in the modern US economy anymore.
    • According to Robert Niles, editor of Theme Park Insider, Disney Parks wants to use pricing and promotions to equalize crowds throughout the year.

    Narrator: In 2018, Disney World raised its ticket prices, twice. Take the park's platinum pass for example, it's the standard option that grants access to all four parks with no blackout dates. In February, the price went from $779 to $849, then in October its price jumped from $849 to $894, as Disney unveiled its dynamic pricing model. That's a 15% increase in just one year.

    This is the fourth time in park history that annual pass prices were raised twice in the same year. The first time was 1997 in anticipation of Animal Kingdom's 1998 opening. Similarly, the price markups in 2018 are in advance of Disney World and Disneyland's 14 acre Star Wars theme lands, called "Galaxy's Edge." And Disney parks expansion doesn't stop there. Hong Kong Disneyland is spending $1.4 billion on Avengers and Frozen themed attractions. On top of that, it's adding capacity to Tokyo DisneySea, and updating Epcot and Disney Studio park at Disneyland Paris.

    Despite all the costly expansions, Disney Parks and Resorts reported a $4.5 billion operating profit for the 2018 fiscal year. That's over 100% increase from 2013. So, if it is steadily profiting, why are Disney Parks becoming so expensive?

    From the mid-80s into the early 20 00s, Disney Parks pulled way ahead of its competition. In 2002, Magic Kingdom's attendance alone nearly doubled its closest non-Disney competitor, MGM Studios. But in 2010, that changed when Universal opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

    Robert Niles: It was game on in this business all of a sudden Disney had a competitor again and Disney does not like to lose, not just lose, Disney doesn't even like to compete. Disney wants to dominate its competition.

    Narrator: Disney launched a full out retaliation against Universal and other competitors. In 2011, it announced Pandora, its Avatar themed attraction located in Animal Kingdom. Then over the following six years, it opened new attractions in all four major parks. And by 2017 Disney Parks claimed 55% of North American theme park attendance.

    Niles: This has been really successful, so everybody wants to come during summer vacation and Christmas when their kids are out of school. And the trouble is that if you spent billions of dollars really to build these attraction facilities. They are open 365 days a year. It's just not efficient to have them filled to the brim for four, five, six weeks out of the year and then not so much the rest of the time. So, they really want to use all of their pricing and promotions to try and equalize the crowds throughout the year.

    Narrator: Disney World's second price hike of 2018 included a switch to dynamic pricing. Charging higher prices during those peak summer months and winter holidays and encouraging volume purchases.

    Niles: Disney understands the demographic changes that are happening in the United States at this point. They understand what's happening with income and economic inequality. They know that the money is in the upper level, the top 10%, the top 1%. They've created a wide variety of new products to try and, frankly, extract more money out of the people who have money to spare.

    Lee: Disney has several new offerings targeted at its wealthiest visitors, including dinners with Disney princesses, two Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques that offer a makeover, hairstyling, and costumes. And even private VIP tours of the parks. But the luxury offerings go beyond activities in the parks. In 2014, Orlando's first five-star resort opened on the Disney grounds, a Four Seasons resort with rooms starting at $449 a night. And Bora Bora Bungalows that cost $29 dollars when the park first opened can reach prices of $3,400 today.

    Niles: Now the down side with that is if you are one of those remaining middle class people in America, you could get squeezed here.

    Narrator: Since 2000, Disney World prices have steadily increased while wage growth has been falling from its 2001 high of 5.4%. And in 2018, Disney Parks reported a 5% increase in per capita spending in the parks and an 8% uptick in per room revenue in hotels.

    Niles: Disney's done such a good job at becoming a cultural institution in the United States. It's done such a good job of becoming a lifestyle brand that some of the people who may have been early adopters to this brand are really feeling some pressure right now, because of the way the company is growing. People who were early adopters to this are used to a middle class pricing model that just doesn't really work in the modern economy anymore. And they feel frustrated that they put a lot of loyalty into this brand, into this company and now they feel like they really have to stretch to keep up. And that's tough, but at the same time, if Disney's going to grow, it's got to go where the money is. It's got to go in a direction that allows it to get maximum value from its investments and limiting itself only to its early adopters isn't going to allow the company to do that.

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    Debate

    • 2019 just started, but this year's calendar is already getting busy for potential 2020 contenders. 
    • With stops in Iowa and New Hampshire, these are some of the major events 2020 presidential candidates can look forward to in 2019: 

    SEE ALSO: An early look at the 2020 presidential contenders

    Fundraising for Quarter 1 begins — January 1, 2019.

    Presidential candidates will begin making their announcements in the first weeks of January, since fundraising for the first quarter of the year begins on January 1.  



    Politics & Eggs forums — beginning in February 2019.

    The "Politics & Eggs Forums," a long-held tradition in New Hampshire's political calendar, usually begin in February. During the series of forums hosted by the New England Council and Saint Anselm College, candidates meet one-on-one with attendees, sign wooden eggs, eat breakfast, and talk about their proposals, campaigns, and perspectives. 



    Fundraising for Quarter 1 ends — March 31, 2019.

    The first fundraising quarter of the year ends on March 31. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The National Museum of African American History

    • With no end in sight for the US government shutdown, many Washington, DC museums and attractions have been forced to close their doors.
    • The Smithsonian temporarily closed 17 museums on Wednesday. The National Zoo is now shuttered as well.
    • Many tourists arrived at the sites, only to discover closure signs posted on doors and gates.

    Washington, DC, has been a bit quieter the last few days as a partial government shutdown now enters its second week.

    During this time, hundreds of thousands of federal employees have been put on furlough, with some choosing to work without pay. 

    While many national parks, museums, and attractions have attempted to remain open, Wednesday saw the closure of 17 Smithsonian-run museums, including the National Museum of American History.

    Read more:Photos show national parks and monuments overflowing with garbage

    The National Zoo has also shut down, bringing a temporary end to its beloved "Panda Cam."

    Sidewalks along the National Mall are now strewn with garbage amid a backdrop of empty monuments. 

    All the while, President Trump is holding firm on his desire fora $5.6 billion border wall between Mexico and the US.

    On the same day that the Smithsonian shuttered its museums, Trump declined to compromise on congressional funding, saying the shutdown would last "as long as it takes" to secure his demands. 

    In the meantime, visitors have been disappointed by the sight of closed museums, and citizens have been angered by the filth lining their streets. Take a look at the current state of affairs in Washington, DC.

    The Smithsonian announced the closure of all of its museums on Wednesday.



    Signs were posted outside the National Museum of American History, which receives around 6 million annual visitors.

    Source: Statista



    The National Zoo also closed its gates to visitors, though they insisted that "all animals will continue to be fed and cared for."

    Source: Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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