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- 01/03/19--13:31: _This is what today'...
- 01/03/19--13:32: _New Yorkers are fre...
- 01/03/19--13:36: _An ex-Apple enginee...
- 01/03/19--13:37: _Army war hero plead...
- 01/03/19--13:39: _Treasure hunters de...
- 01/03/19--13:48: _The number of peopl...
- 01/03/19--13:49: _Japanese lifestyle ...
- 01/03/19--13:50: _Aldi is releasing h...
- 01/03/19--13:50: _Tesla is reportedly...
- 01/03/19--13:56: _The stunning life a...
- 01/03/19--14:00: _These expensive Chi...
- 01/03/19--14:02: _This device will be...
- 01/03/19--14:03: _Trump is reportedly...
- 01/03/19--14:07: _New York City is us...
- 01/03/19--14:04: _A Parkland school s...
- 01/03/19--14:08: _Who's in and who's ...
- 01/03/19--14:15: _A black teacher who...
- 01/03/19--14:16: _10 tech companies a...
- 01/03/19--14:18: _Trump made a surpri...
- 01/03/19--14:23: _Alphabet's life sci...
- The most diverse Congress in US history was sworn in on January 3, 2019.
- New Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi led the swear-in ceremony for House members. Vice President Mike Pence led the ceremony at the Senate.
- More than 100 women were sworn in as members of Congress today, a historic record.
- After announcing the closure of New York City's L train subway line in 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo walked back his plan on Thursday, months before the shutdown was set to happen.
- Cuomo said the L train, which was damaged during Hurricane Sandy, would no longer be shuttered for 15 months, but would instead rely on night and weekend repairs.
- Cornell and Columbia engineers are looking into a European technique for tunnel construction that would allow the train to stay open on weekdays. The technique has never been used in the US.
- While Cuomo's plan is music to the ears of some New Yorkers, it represents an unfortunate conclusion to an already-disastrous scenario.
- Former Apple engineer Bob Burrough spent seven years working "under both Steve [Jobs] and Tim [Cook]."
- Burrough uploaded a new video to his YouTube channel on Tuesday, where he introduces a new kind of iPhone interface that responds to your environment.
- Apple — or any other phone manufacturer, for that matter — would be keen to try something like this for their own phone software, as it's a very cool visual effect.
- An Army Special Forces veteran pleaded guilty to two drug trafficking conspiracy counts, admitting he attempted to smuggle nearly 90 pounds of cocaine from Colombia.
- Master Sgt. Daniel Gould was charged in August after officials at the US Embassy in Bogota discovered cocaine in gutted-out punching bags.
- An X-ray scan revealed the cocaine stash in the bags before they were loaded on a military aircraft bound for Florida.
- According to a US Attorney's statement, Gould had previously smuggled 10 kilograms of cocaine into the US, then reinvested money from the first transaction to purchase the larger load.
- One of the world's largest container ships, the MSC Zoe, lost nearly 300 containers in a storm off the coast of the northwest coast of Germany late January 1 into early January 2.
- Dozens of the containers have since landed on beaches in the Netherlands, where beachcombers have been taking home the loot — including TVs, My Little Pony dolls, and down jackets.
- Officials in both Germany and the Netherlands have warned treasure hunters to stay away from the containers, since three of them contain hazardous materials and they haven't been located yet.
A new report from Quest Diagnostics found that more people are testing positive for marijuana in workplace drug tests, with marijuana use increasing to 2.6% in the general workforce in 2017.
- States that recently legalized recreational marijuana saw the greatest uptick in workforce marijuana use: 43% of Nevada's workforce tested positive, 14% of Massachusetts' workforce tested positive, and 11% of California's workforce tested positive for marijuana use.
- People who work in safety-sensitive jobs, like pilots, bus drivers, and other federal workers, also had an increased marijuana positivity rate on drug tests.
- This could potentially harm the public due to marijuana's negative side effects, like loss of coordination and decreased reaction times.
- Marie Kondo is the queen of organization. Since 2012, she's gained worldwide recognition for her book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing."
- In her new Netflix series, "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo," she helps people clean and organize their homes.
- Kondo showed Business Insider how to organize a home in one sitting, without having to do it again.
- WATCH NEXT: "You've probably been folding your shirts and socks all wrong, according to organizing expert Marie Kondo"
- Aldi is selling four new cheese varieties to celebrate Valentine's Day this year.
- Two of the new cheeses are heart-shaped and covered with red wax and the two round varieties come in cinnamon and cranberry flavors, each retails for $3.99.
- Aldi is also selling a variety of limited edition Valentine's Day-themed products like chocolate wine and heart-shaped brioche bread.
- All of these limited edition Valentine's Day items will be on sale January 30 in select Aldi locations.
- Tesla is close to receiving approval to sell its Model 3 sedan in Europe, Bloomberg reports.
- The automaker is reportedly on track to begin delivering the Model 3 to European customers in February.
- Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
- 01/03/19--13:56: The stunning life and career of Nancy Pelosi
- The Asian arowana, also known as the dragon fish, is the most expensive aquarium fish in the world.
- The fish is considered a valuable commodity for its red and gold colors — one was rumored to have sold for $300,000 in 2009.
- Most people who buy dragon fish are middle-class Chinese men, who collect the fish as status symbols.
- 01/03/19--14:02: This device will be the next smartphone
- Smartphones are the fastest adopted tech in the U.S.
- Whichever device becomes the next smartphone needs to go everywhere
- Consumer expectations around the smartphone are changing
- And much more
- Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb is reportedly being considered to be the next defense secretary.
- Webb served in the Reagan administration but switched parties and was elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 2006.
- Webb also ran for president as a Democrat but withdrew from the race in late 2015.
- A New York City subway line that was scheduled to close completely for 15 months won't be shutting down after all, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.
- Teams of engineers from Columbia and Cornell universities studied systems in London, Hong Kong, and Riyadh to find a cheaper — and quicker — solution that wouldn't strand 300,000 daily commuters.
- "Smart" fiber optic cables, lidar, and "racked" cabling will be used to mitigate further damage in the rehabilitated tunnel.
- New York Gov. Cuomo axes plan to shut down the L train, saves Brooklynites from commuting hell
- New York's governor just killed a plan to shut down one of the most crowded subway lines in NYC — and people are freaking out
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo killed a controversial plan that would have caused commuting hell for thousands of people — but it's terrible news for people moving to the area
People are slamming New York's governor for taking over 2 years to come up with a plan to avoid shutting down one of NYC's busiest subway lines
- A Florida commission assembled to investigate last year's deadly Parkland shooting recommended that some teachers be armed to protect students.
- The commission submitted a 439-page report to Florida's governor on Wednesday, which all 15 members unanimously approved.
- The report assailed the local school district and sheriff's department for failing to establish effective active-shooter procedures, and failing to confront the shooter, Nikolas Cruz.
- It said teachers who volunteer, and are "properly selected, thoroughly screened and extensively trained to carry concealed firearms" should be able to do so in Florida schools.
- 01/03/19--14:08: Who's in and who's out of House committee leadership positions
- Democratic control of the US House of Representatives means every House committee has a new chair.
- The new crop of committee chairs include more women and people of color.
- The new House leadership also includes several prominent foes of President Donald Trump, who now have the power to investigate the president and his administration.
- 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.
- While companies like Apple and Google continue to get hit hard by unfriendly public markets, Wall Street is looking to one metric to provide a "backstop for valuations."
- That metric is net cash, which the top 10 tech companies have a lot of, according to Evercore ISI analyst Kirk Materne.
- The top 10 companies currently have $346 billion in cash, and they're expected to bring in another $600 billion by 2020.
- Not all of that will be used for software M&A. But what is used could keep valuations afloat, even in a down market, according to the note.
- President Donald Trump on Thursday made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room to discuss border security and abruptly left without taking any questions.
- This was Trump's first appearance in the White House briefing room.
- "I have never had so much support as I have in the last week over my stance for border security, for border control, and for frankly, the wall or the barrier," Trump said.
- During the brief appearance, Trump also claimed that "nobody" knows more about drones than he does.
- The president's insistence on obtaining funding for the border wall has pushed the US government into a partial shutdown that has lasted nearly two weeks and has no end in sight.
- Enigmatic life science company Verily has raised a mega funding round of $1 billion led by technology investment firm Silver Lake.
- Formerly called Google Life Sciences, Verily aims to develop tools that help collect and organize health data. Current projects include a continuous glucose monitor for diabetes and better contact lenses.
- As part of the investment, Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat will join Verily's board.
Nancy Pelosi was handed back the gavel by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.
She then administered the oath to the members of the 116th Congress.
Pelosi received 220 votes and reassumed her role as Speaker.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Anyone who's taken the L train on a weekday morning knows what a grueling experience it can be — even by New York City transportation standards.
At my stop at First Avenue in Manhattan, it's rare to catch the train on the first go-round. I'm often left waiting for two or three cars before I can find room inside. When I finally make it onto the train, I'm sandwiched between frustrated commuters.
It's been hard to imagine how the city would accommodate these riders under New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed shutdown, which was scheduled to begin in April and last 15 months.
The closure, announced in 2016, was part of a plan to fix issues resulting from Hurricane Sandy. The hurricane damaged the train's two tunnels beneath the East River, tarnishing signals and other electrical equipment. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway, the Canarsie Tunnel's bench walls needed to be replaced "to protect the structural integrity" of the train.
Now, the shutdown has been scrapped. Cuomo recently announced that the train will no longer close for 15 months, but will instead rely on a new European design method that involves night and weekend repairs.
For the governor to suggest this now — mere months away from the now-defunct L-pocalyse — implies a previous negligence and throws years of careful planning by residents, landlords, and business owners into turmoil.
New Yorkers planned for the shutdown
In the wake of Cuomo's original shutdown announcement, New Yorkers were told that there would be new bus and protected bike lanes in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and that improvements were being made to the J, M, and Z subway stations, which would have expanded services.
That didn't stop the panic from setting in among the L train-dependent, some of whom moved in preparation for the closure. By August, rents in Williamsburg — which has many residents that are frequent L train riders — continued to drop, and landlords began offering discounts to people who renewed their leases.
I weighed the decision to renew my lease in Manhattan based solely on the fact that I would lose access to my main form of transportation.
Still, I understood why the repairs were necessary. I wasn't about to complain about having to walk an extra mile to the nearest subway if the trade-off was my own safety.
Cuomo's decision comes far too late
New Yorkers seemed to share my sentiment.
"When they announced the closure, the explanation was clear, both on the challenges riders would face and on the need to do it," Kate Slevin, a senior vice president at the Regional Plan Association, told CityLab in August. "People got it."
We knew it was a lose-lose scenario, but we were left in the dark about how the city actually planned to handle the influx of 25,000 displaced commuters each day.
Those concerns were apparently well-founded.
"The simple fact is you have roughly 250,000 people who would need another way to get to work, have a tremendous impact on traffic," Cuomo said at a press conference on Thursday. "15 months sounds like a really short period of time, but it's not if you're doing it one day at a time trying to get to work."
That's something many of us understood in 2016, but it seems confusing now.
If a European method of tunnel construction was possible, why didn't Cuomo entertain it before?
As New York Magazine's Josh Barro wrote earlier on Twitter, "If Cuomo is right that a closure is unnecessary, then he's admitting he's been asleep at the switch for three years."
New Yorkers are right to be frustrated
New Yorkers have a right to be frustrated that a plan they'd come to accept — and even prepare for — will no longer come to pass.
Minutes after the decision was announced on Thursday, Twitter flooded with angry commentary from people who had made major life decisions based on the shutdown, or worried the new plan wouldn't adequately protect riders.
"We moved our cool Greenpoint office to Manhattan in anticipation of the L train shutdown ... All for naught. It's too bad this study wasn't done earlier,"one user wrote.
New York City council member Keith Powers, who represents the First Avenue stop, also lamented the decision.
"The previous plan came after careful planning and extensive community outreach, in addition to months of disruption to my constituents," he said in a press release. "Today's announcement comes after individuals have made life-altering decisions about where to live, residents have been impacted by confusing parking changes, and New Yorkers have had taxpayer dollars spent on a design that has become obsolete."
A few locals, companies, and politicians have pointed to the benefits of a canceled shutdown.
New York State Senator Brad Hoylman noted that a functioning L train would mean fewer diesel buses on the roads, which would prevent additional air pollution. Others simply delighted in the fact that they wouldn't have to give up their beloved subway line.
As a rider myself, I have to acknowledge the silver lining. But these celebrations ignore the fact we've been led down a long, winding road of false promises and questionable assertions.
For years we've been told that it was necessary to disrupt our lives to ensure our safety, only to find that there was a way out, a compromise we never knew existed.
If Cuomo was really concerned about offering New Yorkers the best solution to their transportation woes, he might have considered pursuing all avenues from the very start.
As it stands, he's created a disastrous conclusion to an already-difficult transit scenario.
To ring in the new year, former Apple engineer Bob Burrough uploaded a new video to his fledgling YouTube channel to show off a new idea he has for a smartphone interface.
Burrough's "Project Erasmus" is a user interface (UI) implementation that renders the lighting in your immediate environment to light, shade, and reflect on the software elements in the device. The result is an incredible, immersive visual effect that will make you want to use your phone even more (as if that's possible).
Take a look.
Burrough created a small screen application to show how Project Erasmus works.
When he moves the phone around in the air, the buttons and elements on the screen react to the lighting of the room he's in, complete with shading and highlights.
"It looks like the user interface elements are physical objects that reside just beneath the surface of the screen, like you could reach in and touch them," Burrough says in the video.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
A highly decorated Army Special Forces veteran pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking conspiracy, admitting he attempted to smuggle nearly 90 pounds of cocaine from Colombia to Florida aboard a military aircraft in August 2018.
Master Sgt. Daniel Gould first smuggled 10 kilograms of the narcotic in early 2018, according to the US Attorney's statement. A co-defendant in the trial traveled to Colombia with the payment for the first load, which Gould then placed in a gutted-out punching bag.
According to a report by the Panama City News Herald, Gould had a driver transport the cocaine to Bogota, where it was placed on a military aircraft and transported to the US. The cocaine was then distributed in northwest Florida, according to the US Attorney's statement. Gould was assigned to 7th Special Forces Group, an Army command garrisoned at Eglin Air Force Base in the same region.
The conspirators reinvested the money from the first load, sending about $65,000 back to Colombia on another military aircraft. Then, in early August, Gould returned to Colombia to retrieve the second load of cocaine.
Using the same method, Gould hid 40 kilograms — nearly 90 pounds with a street value over $1 million, according to US attorneys — in the punching bags. The cocaine was discovered at the US Embassy in Bogota on August 13, 2018, when the bags went through an X-ray. Gould had already departed Colombia when the drugs were discovered, and was waiting in Florida to retrieve them.
Gould was administratively separated from the Army in early December. The Green Beret received the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest military award for valor, for combat action in Afghanistan in 2008.
One of Gould's co-defendants, 35-year-old Henry Royer, pleaded not guilty to the same charges of drug trafficking, according to the Herald. A third man, Colombian national Gustavo Pareja, has also been indicted.
Gould will be sentenced on March 12; he faces 10 years to life on each count of conspiracy.
A storm off the northwest coast of Germany caused one of the world's largest container ships to lose nearly 300 containers overnight on Tuesday.
Since then, dozens of the containers have floated southwest and landed on beaches on nearby Dutch islands, where local laws allow locals to take the loot home.
Beachcombers have been posting images of the treasure that washed ashore, which include IKEA furniture, My Little Pony dolls, and TVs.
Photos of the beachcombing efforts are incredible.
One of the world's largest container ships, the MSC Zoe, encountered a storm while sailing in the North Sea, near the German Island of Borkum, the night of January 1 and the morning of January 2.
Overnight, the rough waters caused the ship to lose up to 270 containers.
Source: Kustwacht Nederland
Dozens of the containers then floated southwest, washing ashore on the Frisian Islands (also called the Wadden Islands), a chain that protects the coast of the Netherlands.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
As more states legalize medicinal and recreational marijuana, more people are using the substance. In fact, a new report from Quest Diagnostics found that more people are testing positive for marijuana in workplace drug tests, with 2017 being the fifth year in a row for increased marijuana detection in urine drug tests. In 2017, 2.6% of the general workforce tested positive for marijuana use.
States that recently legalized recreational marijuana saw the greatest uptick in workforce marijuana use: 43% of Nevada's workforce tested positive, 14% of Massachusetts' workforce tested positive, and 11% and California's workforce tested positive for marijuana use.
"While it is too early to tell if this is a trend, our data suggests that the recreational use of marijuana is spilling into the workforce, including among individuals most responsible for keeping our communities safe," Barry Sample, PhD, the senior director of science and technology for Quest Diagnostics said in a statement.
The biggest increase in marijuana use was in people with "safety-sensitive" jobs
For the general United States workforce, Quest Diagnostics found that marijuana positivity in drug tests went from 2.5% in 2016 to 2.6% in 2017. In the safety-sensitive workforce, however, marijuana positivity increased in a year's time, from 0.78% in 2016 to 0.84% in 2017.
Safety-sensitive jobs are defined as federal agency jobs that "perform public safety and national security roles," according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), so people who work for the Department of Transportation, Department of Defense, and Federal Railroad Administration, among others, may be held to higher drug test standards than members of the general workforce.
The concern is that as more people test positive for marijuana, including some of these government employees, the safety of the public could be at risk.
Marijuana can distort a person's sense of time and throw off their balance, making it dangerous in certain workplaces
While supporters praise marijuana for its ability to relieve chronic pain, control epileptic seizures, and lessen anxiety, the substance also has detrimental effects, INSIDER previously reported. Anecdotal evidence and limited research, for example, have shown that many who use marijuana experience altered blood flow to the brain which could cause someone to either think time is moving more quickly or slowly than it actually is.
What's more, marijuana's effects on the brain can slow down a person's reaction time, worsen their coordination, and throw off their balance. If displayed on the job, all of these potential effects could create major risks and put people's lives in danger, especially if done by a person who operates a motor vehicle or other machinery.
As marijuana becomes increasingly legal in the United States, Quest Diagnostics is urging researchers to determine whether a correlation exists between legalization and workforce drug use, since it could harm the public in a number of ways.
Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.
Marie Kondo is the queen of organization. Her book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing," reveals her instructions for organizing your space in one sitting, and then never having to do it again.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was originally published on January 1, 2016.
Many people are just now beginning to unwind their holiday twinkle lights and make their resolutions for the new year, but Aldi is already looking ahead to the next holiday celebration.
The supermarket will be selling new, seasonal Happy Farms cheeses for Valentine's Day, with four new varieties fit to complete any holiday charcuterie board. Each of these cheeses will retail for just $3.99.
There are two heart-shaped cheeses that will be available at select locations — Happy Farms Preferred Mature Cheddar Classic English Cheese and Happy Farms Preferred Wensleydale with Raspberries and White Chocolate. Both are wrapped with a classic (and festive) red wax coating and they look every bit as romantic as a box of chocolates.
Aldi is also dropping two more limited edition types of cheese in its Happy Farms Preferred Valentine's Day cheese line, though they aren't heart-shaped: the Happy Farms Preferred Wensleydale with Cranberries and the Happy Farms Preferred Creamy Cinnamon Cheese with Raisins and Diced Apple.
This isn't the first time Aldi has released special seasonal cheeses. Last year, the supermarket sold a cheese advent calendar last month with 24 pieces of imported cheeses, one for each day leading up to Christmas.
Aldi is also releasing other limited edition heart-shaped and chocolate-flavored products
Aldi will also be releasing Specially Selected Heart-Shaped Chocolate Chip Brioche that retails for $4.99. In addition, they'll be stocking shelves in select locations with The Chocolate Cellar Chocolate Red Wine, which retails for just $7.99 and heart-shaped Reggano Valentine’s Day Pasta, which retails for $1.99
These cheeses and other specialty products are on sale starting January 30 and they will only be available for a limited time.
For more great stories, head to INSIDER's homepage.
Tesla is close to receiving approval to sell its Model 3 sedan in Europe, Bloomberg reports. The automaker is reportedly on track to begin delivering the Model 3 to European customers in February.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The automaker has reportedly received approval for safety, noise, environmental, and production requirements through the Dutch regulator RDW. The agency will likely approve the Model 3 soon, Bloomberg reports. If an automaker receives approval to sell a vehicle from one European Union nation, it is able to sell that vehicle throughout the EU.
The RDW did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment, though the agency told Bloomberg it does not comment on its approval process.
The European and Chinese markets are expected to be important sources of growth for Model 3 sales. During Tesla's third-quarter earnings call in October, the automaker's CEO, Elon Musk, cited the prospect of European and Chinese deliveries as a reason why he did not anticipate the gradual expiration of a federal tax credit for electric vehicles to have a significant impact on Model 3 sales. Musk said at the time that he expected Tesla to produce a "significant" number of Model 3s for European customers in January.
Musk has said that he expects Model 3 deliveries to China to begin in March or April.
Tesla cut the price of each of its vehicles by $2,000 after a $7,500 federal tax credit for US customers was reduced to $3,750 on January 1. The credit will be cut to $1,875 in July and expire in 2020. The reduction was set in motion when Tesla sold its 200,000th vehicle in 2018.
Have a Tesla news tip? Contact this reporter at email@example.com.
Despite first running for office at age 47, House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has managed to become the most powerful woman in Washington.
It's been a long road, but with staggering fundraising skills and a political sixth-sense, Pelosi has managed to break gender barriers and force her way into the notorious Old Boys Club on Capitol Hill.
Here's how a San Francisco housewife became part of the Washington elite.
Pelosi grew up in Baltimore, the daughter of the Democratic Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro. As a young girl, she manager her father's book of who owed him political favors.
She attended her first Democratic National Convention at age 12. Here she is at age 20 with JFK at his inaugural ball.
Source: Nancy Pelosi Biography
Pelosi met her husband Paul at Georgetown. She was a mother of five by 1969, when the family moved to San Francisco. Paul worked as a banker, while Nancy raised their children and started a Democratic Party club at her home.
Source: U.S. News
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
As far as fish go, the Asian arowana is one of the most expensive aquarium species sold in the pet trade. It is a freshwater fish that has people paying in the tens of thousands of dollars for the most sought after colorations.
Narrator: What would you rather have, a new car, or this fish? Turns out they cost around the same. A single dragon fish can go for tens of thousands of dollars. So, what's so special about it? Well, it might not look it, but this endangered fish is so coveted, people have actually gone to prison over it.
The dragon fish gets its nickname for how it resembles a dragon in flight as it swims. However, its real name is the Asian arowana. It's a freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia, and it has taken the aquarium market by storm. Today, these fish are so prized that some have their own motorcades, and breeders protect their stock with layers of concrete walls, complete with guard dogs and watchmen. There's even a market for cosmetic surgery to help subpar fish who need eye lifts or chin tucks. And that may sound like overkill, but it's really not.
Emily Voigt: It's a very valuable commodity, and that had driven a tremendous amount of crime around the areas where it's bred.
Narrator: That's Emily Voigt, who explores this world for her book, "The Dragon Behind the Glass." We're talking murder and midnight fish-napping. This wasn't always the case, however.
Up until the second half of the 20th century, these fish weren't flaunted. They were filleted and eaten by locals. Then, in 1967, an aquarium trader traveling through northern Malaysia saw a dead arowana at a food market and found it so attractive that he sought one out to keep as a pet. By the 1980s, arowanas had turned up in Taiwan, and eventually people all over Asia wanted one. In particular, the red and gold varieties of arowana came to symbolize luck and wealth in several Asian cultures.
Voigt: All that has led to a whole mythology about the fish. It's supposed to bring good luck and prosperity, even to jump out of its tank to save its owner.
Narrator: Nowadays, breeding for new color combinations is all the rage. Like this fish, called the chili red, which you can get for around $1,400 each. Or the emerald violet fusion super red, which goes for about $12,000 each. But no fish is more rare and valuable than the albino. In 2009, one of these supposedly set a record, selling for $300,000 to an anonymous high ranking official in the Chinese government. In fact, most people who buy dragon fish are middle-class Chinese men, who'll collect the fish as a status symbol.
Voigt: So keeping this fish is very much a macho hobby. There's not a lot of women that do it. And it's almost like collecting cars or something like that.
Narrator: So in the mid-90s, when dragon fish were successfully bred in captivity on certified farms, it was a big deal, because they were becoming rare in the wild due to overfishing and harvesting for the pet trade. Since then, more demand has led to breeding operations all over Southeast Asia. And while it's perfectly legal to buy a dragon fish in the area, it may not be in other non-Asian countries. In the US, for example, you can only find the Asian arowana on the black market. And in fact, you can't bring it into the country legally, because it's banned by the US Endangered Species Act. People have actually gone to prison for trafficking this fish. So if you have an itch to have a dragon-like pet, maybe you should stick to something safer, like bearded dragons.
The smartphone is an essential part of our everyday lives.
But as with all technology, things change. So the question becomes: What will be the next smartphone?
Will it be the connected car? Or the smart speaker? What about the smartwatch?
Here are some of the key takeaways:
To get your copy of this FREE slide deck, simply click here.
President Donald Trump is considering picking Jim Webb, a former Democratic senator from Virginia who was secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration, for defense secretary, several sources told The New York Times.
Officials speaking anonymously to the Times said that representatives for Vice President Mike Pence and acting White House chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had contacted Webb and that his name had been circulating in the White House.
The news comes just days after Patrick Shanahan took over acting defense secretary in the wake of Jim Mattis' resignation. Picking Webb would forgo a number of hawkish Republican officials who have been floated as potential replacements for Mattis, including Sens. Tom Cotton and Lindsey Graham.
Webb, 72, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968. He served in Vietnam in a Marine rifle platoon and as a company commander.
He was wounded twice and received the Navy Cross, which ranks just below the Medal of Honor, for a 1969 engagement in which he sustained wounds while shielding a fellow soldier from a grenade during an assault on enemy bunkers.
Webb appeared to reference that engagement during a 2015 presidential debate, when he and other candidates were asked to name the enemy they were proudest to have made. "I'd have to say the enemy soldier that threw their grenade that wounded me," Webb replied. "But he's not around right now to talk to."
After his military service, Webb attended Georgetown Law School, graduating in 1975, and from 1977 to 1981 was a House Committee on Veterans Affairs staff member.
He was widely criticized for a 1979 article titled "Women Can't Fight," in which he said recent gains in sexual equality had been "good," but "no benefit to anyone can come from women serving in combat."
Webb later changed his views on subject and apologized for the article but has faced backlash for it.
He was appointed assistant secretary of defense by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and in 1987 was made secretary of the Navy. In that position he emphasized fleet modernization and pushed to open more jobs in the service to women.
Webb later switched parties, and in 2006 he won a Senate seat as a Democrat from Virginia.
Webb expressed skepticism about US military campaigns abroad, including a 1990 opinion piece in which he criticized the US military build up in Saudi Arabia ahead of the first Gulf War.
In a 2004 opinion article, Webb analyzed the candidacies of both John Kerry and George W. Bush, criticizing both: Kerry for his Vietnam War protests and Bush for committing "arguably ... the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory" with the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Fifteen years later, Webb had a testy exchange with the younger Bush at a reception for freshmen members of Congress. Webb declined to have a picture taken with Bush, who later approached Webb and asked about the latter's son, who was a Marine serving in Iraq at the time. Webb reportedly said he was tempted to "slug" the president.
Webb was mentioned as a potential vice-presidential candidate alongside Barack Obama in 2008, but he said "under no circumstances" would he take the job.
Webb did join the 2016 race for the Democratic nomination for president, but he ended his candidacy in October 2015. A few months later, Webb said he would not vote for 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and added that he had not ruled out voting for Trump.
"This is nothing personal about Hillary Clinton, but the reason I think Donald Trump is getting so much support right now is not because of the racist, you know, et cetera, et cetera, it's because people are seeing him," Webb said at the time. "A certain group of people are seeing him as the only one who has the courage to step forward and say we've got to clean out the stables of the American governmental system right now."
Other positions Webb has taken may burnish his appeal to Trump. In summer 2015, he said he was "skeptical" of the Iran nuclear deal signed by President Barack Obama, from which Trump has withdrawn.
During his presidential run, a staff member also said Webb was "his own national security adviser"— which may resonate with Trump, who has touted himself as more knowledgeable than his advisers.
On December 31, days before the Times reported that Webb was under consideration, the Washington Examiner, a conservative-leaning news outlet, published an opinion article titled "Trump's base would love to have Jim Webb as defense secretary."
When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo toured a subway tunnel nearly destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in December, he and an entourage of engineers from Columbia and Cornell Universities saw first-hand the tremendous damage that salt water can do to a century-old tunnel.
After the hurricane's 14-foot storm surge inundated the L train's tracks, it crippled a vital link between Brooklyn and Manhattan that carries more than 250,000 commuters every day. The only option, now more than six years later, seemed to be a complete closure of the tunnel for 15 months.
That's no longer the case, officials announced Thursday.
After carefully studying technologies in London, Hong Kong, and Riyadh, the team assembled by Gov. Cuomo — the de-facto leader of the state's Metropolitan Transportation Administration — recommended a ten-fold solution that would avoid a complete shutdown.
First, it's important to understand why the damage was so bad
New York's subway is old. Very old.
The Canarsie Line, which now carries the L train service from 14th street in Chelsea, under the East River to Williamsburg, through Bushwick and eventually to Canarsie, began service in 1924. It's only two tracks for its entire 10-mile length — a surprising anomaly, considering most of the system has multiple to accommodate express and local services.
Despite being the first service of New York's 27 lines to receive an upgrade to a modern signal system, known as Communications Based Train Control, or CBTC for short, much of the electronic equipment was installed inside a concrete "bench wall" in the tunnel.
When the tunnel flooded, it got inside the wall and corroded the communications and signaling equipment.
The MTA was able to restore service following the storm, but warned for years that a complete shutdown would be necessary to remove and replace the destroyed infrastructure. In 2017, after three years of public input and several possible options, officials decided a 15-month closure beginning in April 2019 was the best course of action.
A surprise announcement
With just months until the closure was scheduled to begin, a cryptic tweet from the non-profit Transit Center foundation began to make the rounds on Thursday morning.
RUMOR MILL this morning: Cuomo may announce L train shutdown is unnecessary later today— TransitCenter (@TransitCenter) January 3, 2019
And an hour later, a scheduled announcement appeared on the Governor's public schedule for 12:45 pm at his Midtown Manhattan office.
Assembled high above third avenue's bustling traffic was the team of experts assembled by Cuomo, including the deans of Columbia and Cornell's engineering schools alongside MTA acting chairman Fernando Ferrer and other agency officials.
Moments later, the governor would announce the cancellation of the closure that had seen Brooklyn rents plummet and businesses make contingency plans for the lost foot traffic and revenue.
The repaired tunnel will be the first of its kind in the US
Instead of replacing the cabling that's stuck inside the concrete benchwall, contractors will instead repair any damaged portions of the wall and convert it into a walkway for emergency situations and repairs going forward. For this, they'll use fiberglass patching that's been used on other infrastructure projects and is a bonafide method of construction, experts said at the press conference.
New electronic equipment will be sheathed in low-smoke, fire resistant cabling and "racked" or hung from the tunnel in a way that it avoids further damage and can be easily repaired if need be. A ground wire will be placed underneath the track bed, as is currently done on some outdoor and above-ground lines.
"This is a design that has not been used in the US before," Cuomo said. "It has been implemented in Europe, but has never been implemented in a tunnel restoration project. It uses many new innovations that are new, frankly, to the rail industry."
Some night and weekend closures of one tube will still be necessary, the MTA said in a press release, allowing for a limited service to continue at the same time as construction.
The "de-coupling" of the infrastructure has "never been done before," the governor added. Damaged cabling inside the benchwall will be abandoned and replaced with new electronics.
Fiber optic cables will also be installed along the entire 32,000 benchwall that can continuously monitor the tunnel for cracks or damage, before a catastrophe occurs. Lidar, a laser-like radar technology, can also be added onto trains for more thorough periodic inspections to the structure.
"This is really state of the art technology," Lance Collins, dean of Cornell's engineering school, said at the press conference. "This is an unusual application in that we're using it in rehabilitation, but its proven technology."
Other recommendations from the task force, all of which have been accepted by the MTA, include waterproof tunnel gates which can be closed in the event of high water to prevent flooding.
The technology could be rolled out to other infrastructure projects, too
The L train is far from the only piece of New York infrastructure experiencing a crisis.
The Gateway tunnel that connects New York and New Jersey via the Hudson River, which Gov. Cuomo also toured in December, is also badly in need of repair or a new tube for the critical Amtrak Northeast Corridor trains and commuter rail services. The Second Avenue Subway — a multi-decade boondoggle that only recently opened with three stops — could also use the technology, the MTA said.
"Human nature is to do what you have done that is tried and true," said Gov. Cuomo. "No designer wants to give you a plan that hasn't been done before, but you have to be willing to break the box."
A Florida panel investigating last year's deadly shooting at a Parkland high school unanimously approved a report that, among other proposals, recommended that some teachers be armed to protect students.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission submitted its 439-page report to Florida's governor on Wednesday. The panel had 15 appointees, including a number of law-enforcement professionals, health professionals, education experts, and parents of the shooting victims.
Much of the report assailed the Broward County Sheriff's Department, criticizing the deputies who failed to confront the shooter, Nikolas Cruz. It also criticized the school district for failing to pick up on warning signs that Cruz could turn violent, and failing to establish clear lockdown procedures.
"The Florida legislature should expand the Guardian Program to allow teachers who volunteer — in addition to those now authorized — who are properly selected, thoroughly screened and extensively trained to carry concealed firearms on campuses for self-protection, and the protection of other staff and students in response to an active assailant incident," the Parkland report said.
The Guardian Program is part of a $400 million school-safety law that Florida implemented last year, which allows schools to deploy specially trained, armed "guardians" at schools to respond to active shooters. The guardians are trained by local sheriff's departments, and undergo extensive background checks.
But the Parkland panel recommended that schools should "permit the most expansive use of the Guardian Program under existing law," expanding it beyond just designated guardians, so that regular school staff members and teachers can take part.
Arming teachers, a proposal that President Donald Trump vehemently backed last year, has been one of the more controversial ideas to spring from the country's epidemic of school shootings.
Though critics say arming teachers could burden them with responsibility beyond their job descriptions, and raise a whole new set of safety concerns, its supporters say teachers should have the right to protect themselves and their students.
The Florida Education Association, the state's teacher's union, has opposed arming teachers and urged lawmakers to "keep additional firearms from our schools unless they are in the hands of trained law enforcement personnel."
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With Democrats sweeping to power in the House, control of the chamber's 22 committees moves from Republican to Democratic hands.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House today, and the new crop of House leaders include several of President Donald Trump's prominent foes, who will now have the power to investigate and subpoena him and his administration.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, the likely next chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has long sparred with Trump and has already said he'll initiate probes into sexual assault and perjury allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Trump's ousting of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Rep. Maxine Waters, who will chair the House financial services committee, has also traded barbs with Trump, who has called her a "seriously low I.Q. person." She will likely work to reinstate consumer protection regulations eroded by the Trump administration.
And Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming chair of the intelligence committee, has promised to open new investigations into alleged ties between the president and the Russian government.
Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, the new chair of the oversight committee, has said he'll launch inquiries into voter suppression and alleged fraud in the Trump administration.
The new crop of committee chairs will be significantly more diverse — in gender and race — than their GOP predecessors. While Republicans boasted just two women and no people of color, among their 22 House committee chairs Democrats will have five women committee chairs, three of whom are women of color, and four men of color.
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.
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 INSIDER that she could not discuss details of the lawsuit, but said 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.
The spokeswoman added: "We adhere to the District's Code of Conduct which states that 'intimidation or abuse based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (identity or expression), or sex' will not be tolerated. We remain a welcoming school community dedicated to the goal of providing an inclusive, safe and healthy environment for students and staff."
Bryan is seeking an undetermined amount of damages. The lawsuit is ongoing.
While software company stocks have taken a brutal hit from the volatility that closed out 2018, tech dealmakers have their eyes on a $1 trillion figure that tells a much different story.
That number: the total net cash that the top 10 tech companies could potentially have on their balance sheets by 2020. Even if the economy enters a major downturn, the top tech companies will have a lot of cash throw around.
In the words of TV's favorite financial criminal George Bluth, there's always money in the banana stand.
When asked whether Apple's downgraded guidance and 10% stock decline was a sign of rough times ahead for the tech sector, Union Square Advisor president Ted Smith told Business Insider that nobody is "packing up and closing up business."
Companies still have access to capital, and they're still eager to move forward with the mergers-and-acquisitions deals on the docket, Smith said.
For Evercore ISI analyst Kirk Materne, this means even if tech stocks continue to nose dive, software M&A "will provide a bit of a backstop for valuations."
"While we acknowledge that software stocks are ‘at the mercy’ of the broader markets right now, we believe one of the overlooked aspects in software is the likelihood of more M&A (and alpha generation) if stocks were to continue to pull back in 2019," Materne wrote in a note on Dec. 19.
This means big players like Google and Microsoft will see lower price tags for companies they've had an eye on through the boom. Now that prices are lower, buyers can acquire their target companies at a steep discount.
Specifically, Materne called out the vast amount of "dry powder" that could make this happen. The top 10 tech companies have a combined $350 billion in net cash on their balance sheets as of the third quarter of 2018, and they're expected to generate another $600 billion in free-cash-flow through 2020, according to the note.
Enough cash to buy the entire software market
Assuming an unlikely world in which none of that money gets spent between now and 2020, the top 10 companies could have a total $1 trillion in cash by next year, according to the note.
The next 40 largest US software companies have a combined value of just $660 billion, Materne wrote. That means the top 10 companies could — at least in theory — buy up the whole market.
Of course, much of that money will be spent, most likely through share repurchases and dividends, like the ones promised by Apple CEO Tim Cook in order to return the company's $130 billion in net cash to shareholders.
But Materne writes that even if only 10% of the free cash flow and net cash from those companies was spent on M&A, that would mean nearly $100 billion in M&A activity just from strategic buyers.
Think SAP's all-cash acquisition of Qualtrics for $8 billion in November.
And even if software stocks continue to tank, Materne thinks M&A alone could keep software valuations afloat.
"It only takes one larger deal (great than $2 billion) to potentially lift relative valuations across the entire sector," he wrote.
President Donald Trump on Thursday made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room to discuss border security, but he abruptly left without taking any questions.
This was the first time Trump stood in front of the podium in the briefing room as president. The appearance lasted less than 10 minutes.
"It's a beautiful place," the president said after looking around the room.
The president began the briefing by congratulating Nancy Pelosi over being elected as the new House Speaker but promptly changed the topic to border security.
Trump didn't offer much new information as he appeared alongside border agents and reiterated many of the same talking points on immigration and the wall he wants to build along the US-Mexico border.
The president's insistence on obtaining funding for the border wall has pushed the US government into a partial shutdown that has lasted nearly two weeks and has no end in sight.
Donald Trump gave a surprise press briefing defending his border wall on the first day of the new Congress.— POLITICO (@politico) January 3, 2019
"I have never had so much support as I had in the last week over my stance for border security, for border control and for frankly the wall or the barrier," he said pic.twitter.com/hnGrQTO53n
"I have never had so much support as I have in the last week over my stance for border security, for border control, and for frankly, the wall or the barrier," Trump said.
"You can call it a wall, you can call it a barrier, whatever you want," the president added.
Recent polls show Americans split on the border wall issue, and many would like to see the money that would be dedicated to it allocated elsewhere.
During the brief appearance, Trump also claimed that "nobody" knows more about drones than he does.
"Having a drones and various other forms of sensors, they're all fine but they're not going to stop the problems that this country has," Trump said. "Nobody knows more about drone technology than I do."
Around the same time as Trump's expedited press briefing, he shared an image on Twitter with a caption that borrowed from HBO's "Game of Thrones."
The caption, which appeared below an image of the president, said, "The Wall is Coming."
The White House gave reporters little warning about Thursday's briefing. White House press secretary announced at 4:07 p.m. ET in a tweet that there would be a briefing at 4:10 p.m. ET.
After Trump's appearance, many White House reporters complained what transpired didn't constitute a press briefing given that he took no questions.
Verily, the enigmatic life science company formerly called Google Life Sciences, has raised $1 billion from investors, the second time the company has taken outside funds.
The company announced the mammoth round on Thursday but did not include details of what the funds would be used for. Technology investment firm Silver Lake is the leading new investor, and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan also joins on as a first-time backer.
“We are taking external funding to increase flexibility and optionality as we expand on our core strategic focus areas,” Andrew Conrad, Verily's CEO, said in a statement.
A sub-group of Google's parent company, Alphabet, Verily aims to develop tools that help collect and organize health data. Its current list of semi-public projects include work on a miniaturized continuous glucose monitor with partner organization Dexcom; contact lenses for people with age-related farsightedness and for sight improvement after cataract surgery; and a watch that lets researchers collect data for clinical studies.
Verily researchers had also been working on a contact lens equipped with sensors to measure glucose levels for people with diabetes, but announced in November that they were pausing work on the initiative, which began in 2014 as a partnership with Alcon, the eye-care division of drug giant Novartis.
As part of the new funding, Ruth Porat, Alphabet's chief financial officer, will be nominated to join Verily's operating board. Egon Durban, the managing partner and managing director of Silver Lake, will also be nominated to join the board.
“Verily’s unique capabilities, world-class partnerships and bold vision are enabling the company to tackle the most significant problems impacting global healthcare,” Durban said in the statement.
While more details about what the funds will be used for were scant, the round marks only the second time Verily has ever raised outside funds. The first, almost exactly a year ago, was an $800 million round led by Singaporean investment firm Temasek.
“We look forward to working with Andy and the entire Verily team in their mission to use cutting-edge science and technology to change the paradigm of care delivery and improve clinical outcomes," said Durban.