Advertisements


How to cast an Oculus Quest 2 to a TV so you can share your virtual reality experience

You can cast your Oculus Quest 2 to a TV to make your virtual reality headset screen a group experience. The Quest 2 headset and Oculus app allow you to cast your VR gameplay to a TV.Meta You can cast your Quest 2 to a TV to make your virtual reality screen a group experience. You can cast directly from the headset using the Share button in the home menu. It's also possible to enable casting from the Oculus app on your phone with the Casting icon.  Visit Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories. The Oculus Quest 2 (now branded as simply "Quest 2" under its parent company, Meta) is a virtual reality headset that is self-contained, requiring no connection to a computer or external tracking devices. That makes it a convenient headset for VR gaming and other experiences.The only downside? Only one person at a time can take part. To make the VR experience more inclusive, you can cast what the VR gamer is seeing inside the headset onto a TV. It won't be in true 3D, of course, but it lets everyone else be an audience to the action.How to cast the Quest 2 to a TV from the headsetYou can cast from the headset to a TV that supports casting (such as a smart TV or a TV with a Chromecast installed). 1. Turn on the TV and the Quest 2.2. Make sure both devices are on the same WiFi network. 3. Press the Oculus button on the right-hand controller so you can see the home menu under the Apps window. 4. Click the Share button in the bottom-right corner.5. In the Sharing window, click Cast.Use the Sharing button in the home menu to cast video from the headset.Dave Johnson6. In the Cast From This Headset pop-up, find your TV or other casting device and click it. 7. Click Next.You should now be casting the headset's video to your TV.How to cast the Quest 2 to a TV from the appYou can also start casting from the Oculus app on your phone. To start, you 'll need to install the Oculus app from the App Store or Google Play and set it up by logging into your Meta (Oculus/Facebook) account.1. Turn on your TV and the Quest 2.2. Make sure both devices are on the same WiFi network. 3. Start the Oculus app on your phone.4. Tap the Cast icon in the upper-right corner. 5. Tap the arrow to the right of This Phone. In the Cast To pop-up at the bottom of the screen, tap your TV in the list or tap Other Devices, if it doesn't initially appear, then tap it.The Casting button is at the top right of the app.Dave Johnson6. Tap Start. You should now be casting.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 14th, 2022

Why Frances Haugen Is ‘Super Scared’ About Facebook’s Metaverse

Documents show Facebook knew far more about the harms of its products than it ever let on. Will it take safety in the metaverse seriously? A version of this article was published in TIME’s newsletter Into the Metaverse. Subscribe for a weekly guide to the future of the Internet.   My friend and colleague Billy Perrigo has long written about the perils of Big Tech: how it spreads misinformation, fosters extremist networks worldwide and even threatens democracy. Last month, Billy traveled to Paris to interview the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for the cover story of our Dec. 6 issue. He talked to Haugen about a wide range of topics, including Facebook’s version of the metaverse—but that part of the conversation didn’t make it into the issue. So this week, I’m handing the newsletter over to Billy for more on his conversation with Haugen. —Andrew R. Chow [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] —— In a glitzy October keynote presentation, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared as a cartoon avatar informing us that someday, the way we interact with our friends, work with our colleagues and relax in our spare time will no longer just happen in real life, nor on 2D social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Instead, we will inhabit a 3D virtual world with endless possibilities. The mission of Facebook—now Meta—would be to build that world, Zuckerberg said. So when I traveled to Paris to interview Frances Haugen in mid-November, the following questions were on my mind: Would Facebook succeed in its quest to shed its toxic brand? Would people be happy to forget about all the revelations of the last five years? Above all: Would people trust Zuckerberg to build a new (virtual) reality that was safe for both its individual users and society at large? Haugen, of course, is the former Facebook employee who leaked tens of thousands of pages of company documents to the U.S. authorities and the press this fall. The documents showed that Facebook—which renamed itself in the wake of the revelations—knew far more about the harms of its products, especially Facebook and Instagram, than it ever let on in public. When I asked her about the metaverse, Haugen’s answer focused on the extra forms of surveillance that would be necessary for any meaningful kind of metaverse experience. “I am worried that if companies become metaverse companies, individuals won’t get to consent anymore on whether or not to have Facebook’s sensors—their microphones in their homes,” Haugen told me. “This company—which has already shown it lies to us whenever it’s in its own interests—we’re supposed to put cameras and microphones for them in our homes?” she said. I also asked Haugen: what kinds of safety risks don’t exist today, but might exist in a future where we live parts of our lives in the metaverse? “I’m super scared,” she said. Then, she launched into a thought experiment: “So, just imagine this with me. When you go into the metaverse, your avatar is a little more handsome or pretty than yourself. You have better clothes than we have in reality. The apartment is more stylish, more calm. And you take your headset off and you go to brush your teeth at the end of the night. And maybe you just don’t like yourself in the mirror as much. That cycle… I’m super worried that people are going to look at their apartment, which isn’t as nice, and look at their face or their body, which isn’t as nice, and say: ‘I would rather have my headset on.’ And I haven’t heard Facebook articulate any plan on what to do about that.” Haugen’s answer vividly took me back to one of the documents that made up part of her whistleblower disclosures. It was about the impact of Instagram on the mental health of teenagers, particularly teenage girls. Facebook’s own researchers had run some surveys and found, among other shocking statistics, that of teenage girls who said they experienced bad feelings about their bodies, 32% said Instagram made them feel worse. Among teens who said they had suicidal thoughts, 13% of American users and 6% of British users traced those thoughts to Instagram, the documents (first reported by the Wall Street Journal) showed. In the wake of the Instagram revelations, Facebook said that overall research has shown social media usage can be positive, as well as detrimental to mental health, and that it is experimenting with new ways to make Instagram safer for vulnerable users. On Dec. 7, Instagram said it would begin “nudging teens toward different topics if they’ve been dwelling on one topic for a long time,” and would soon be launching new tools for parents and guardians to “get them more involved” in what their teenagers do on the platform. Photograph by Christopher Anderson—Magnum Photos for TIME Two months after the disclosures, it is unclear to what extent Facebook is prepared to admit that its platforms are responsible for real-world harms. “The individual humans are the ones who choose to believe or not believe a thing; they are the ones who choose to share or not share a thing,” said Andrew Bosworth, the Meta executive currently responsible for augmented and virtual reality in an interview with Axios on HBO that aired Sunday. When the company even acknowledges the harms it contributes to, its fixes are often retrospective and partial. Should the public trust the company will do things differently with its version of the metaverse? I asked Haugen whether she trusted Zuckerberg when he said, in his keynote, that he would build safety into Facebook’s metaverse from the beginning. “I think the question is not whether or not I believe him or not,” Haugen said. “I believe any technology with that much influence deserves oversight from the public.” That message cuts to the heart of a systemic problem that has always been true for technology. Technologists build the future. Democratic and civic institutions take time to step in and set limits about what is acceptable in that new world—including protections for vulnerable people, safeguards against misinformation and polarization and restrictions on monopolistic power. Facebook jettisoned its controversial motto “move fast and break things” in 2014, but the phrase still neatly encapsulates how the company—and the wider industry—works when introducing new tech to the world. But Haugen has some solutions for the metaverse that could enable regulators to balance the pros of technological innovation with the cons of societal damage. “At a minimum, they should have to tell us what the real harms are,” Haugen says, referring to obligations she would like to see regulators set on Facebook. “They should also have to listen to us when we articulate harms. And we should have a process where we can have a conversation in a structured way.” But regulation is only one part of the puzzle. A separate and more intractable problem is the issue of prioritization, which can only ever really be set at the executive level, both in terms of investment and company culture. For years, Facebook has been saying that fixing its platform is its number one priority. But in his keynote, Zuckerberg said that Facebook’s number one priority was now building the metaverse. He didn’t outwardly articulate that safety had been downgraded, but you only have to look at the numbers to see where the problem lies. Recently, Facebook has been rebutting journalists’ questions with the statistic that it now spends $5 billion per year on keeping its platforms safe. In October, Facebook said it would spend at least $10 billion on the metaverse in 2021, a number that it said would only increase in coming years. You do the math. Subscribe to Into the Metaverse for a weekly guide to the future of the Internet. Join TIMEPieces on Twitter and Discord.....»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 16th, 2021

Inside Frances Haugen’s Decision to Take on Facebook

Blowing the whistle against a multibillion-dollar tech company is no small feat Frances Haugen is in the back of a Paris taxi, waving a piece of sushi in the air. The cab is on the way to a Hilton hotel, where this November afternoon she is due to meet with the French digital economy minister. The Eiffel Tower appears briefly through the window, piercing a late-fall haze. Haugen is wolfing down lunch on the go, while recalling an episode from her childhood. The teacher of her gifted and talented class used to play a game where she would read to the other children the first letter of a word from the dictionary and its definition. Haugen and her classmates would compete, in teams, to guess the word. “At some point, my classmates convinced the teacher that it was unfair to put me on either team, because whichever team had me was going to win and so I should have to compete against the whole class,” she says. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Did she win? “I did win,” she says with a level of satisfaction that quickly fades to indignation. “And so imagine! That makes kids hate you!” She pops an edamame into her mouth with a flourish. “I look back and I’m like, That was a bad idea.” She tells the story not to draw attention to her precociousness—although it does do that—but to share the lesson it taught her. “This shows you how badly some educators understand psychology,” she says. While some have described the Facebook whistle-blower as an activist, Haugen says she sees herself as an educator. To her mind, an important part of her mission is driving home a message in a way that resonates with people, a skill she has spent years honing. Photograph by Christopher Anderson—Magnum Photos for TIME It is the penultimate day of a grueling three-week tour of Europe, during which Haugen has cast herself in the role of educator in front of the U.K. and E.U. Parliaments, regulators and one tech conference crowd. Haugen says she wanted to cross the Atlantic to offer her advice to lawmakers putting the final touches on new regulations that take aim at the outsize influence of large social media companies. The new U.K. and E.U. laws have the potential to force Facebook and its competitors to open up their algorithms to public scrutiny, and face large fines if they fail to address problematic impacts of their platforms. European lawmakers and regulators “have been on this journey a little longer” than their U.S. counterparts, Haugen says diplomatically. “My goal was to support lawmakers as they think through these issues.” Beginning in late summer, Haugen, 37, disclosed tens of thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents to Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The documents were the basis of a series of articles in the Wall Street Journal that sparked a reckoning in September over what the company knew about how it contributed to harms ranging from its impact on teens’ mental health and the extent of misinformation on its platforms, to human traffickers’ open use of its services. The documents paint a picture of a company that is often aware of the harms to which it contributes—but is either unwilling or unable to act against them. Haugen’s disclosures set Facebook stock on a downward trajectory, formed the basis for eight new whistle-blower complaints to the SEC and have prompted lawmakers around the world to intensify their calls for regulation of the company. Facundo Arrizabalaga—EPA/EFE/ShutterstockHaugen leaves the Houses of Parliament in London on Oct. 25 after giving evidence to U.K. lawmakers. Facebook has rejected Haugen’s claims that it puts profits before safety, and says it spends $5 billion per year on keeping its platforms safe. “As a company, we have every commercial and moral incentive to give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible on our apps,” a spokesperson said in a statement. Although many insiders have blown the whistle on Facebook before, nobody has left the company with the breadth of material that Haugen shared. And among legions of critics in politics, academia and media, no single person has been as effective as Haugen in bringing public attention to Facebook’s negative impacts. When Haugen decided to blow the whistle against Facebook late last year, the company employed more than 58,000 people. Many had access to the documents that she would eventually pass to authorities. Why did it take so long for somebody to do what she did? Read More: How Facebook Forced a Reckoning by Shutting Down the Team That Put People Ahead of Profits One answer is that blowing the whistle against a multibillion-dollar tech company requires a particular combination of skills, personality traits and circumstances. In Haugen’s case, it took one near-death experience, a lost friend, several crushed hopes, a cryptocurrency bet that came good and months in counsel with a priest who also happens to be her mother. Haugen’s atypical personality, glittering academic background, strong moral convictions, robust support networks and self-confidence also helped. Hers is the story of how all these factors came together—some by chance, some by design—to create a watershed moment in corporate responsibility, human communication and democracy. When debate coach Scott Wunn first met a 16-year-old Haugen at Iowa City West High School, she had already been on the team for two years, after finishing junior high a year early. He was an English teacher who had been headhunted to be the debate team’s new coach. The school took this kind of extracurricular activity seriously, and so did the young girl with the blond hair. In their first exchange, Wunn remembers Haugen grilling him about whether he would take coaching as seriously as his other duties. “I could tell from that moment she was very serious about debate,” says Wunn, who is now the executive director of the National Speech and Debate Association. “When we ran tournaments, she was the student who stayed the latest, who made sure that all of the students on the team were organized. Everything that you can imagine, Frances would do.” Haugen specialized in a form of debate that specifically asked students to weigh the morality of every issue, and by her senior year, she had become one of the top 25 debaters in the country in her field. “Frances was a math whiz, and she loved political science,” Wunn says. In competitive debate, you don’t get to decide which side of the issue you argue for. But Haugen had a strong moral compass, and when she was put in a position where she had to argue for something she disagreed with, she didn’t lean back on “flash in the pan” theatrics, her former coach remembers. Instead, she would dig deeper to find evidence for an argument she could make that wouldn’t compromise her values. “Her moral convictions were strong enough, even at that age, that she wouldn’t try to manipulate the evidence such that it would go against her morality,” Wunn says. When Haugen got to college, she realized she needed to master another form of communication. “Because my parents were both professors, I was used to having dinner-table conversations where, like, someone would have read an interesting article that day, and would basically do a five-minute presentation,” she says. “And so I got to college, and I had no idea how to make small talk.” Today, Haugen is talkative and relaxed. She’s in a good mood because she got to “sleep in” until 8:30 a.m.—later than most other days on her European tour, she says. At one point, she asks if I’ve seen the TV series Archer and momentarily breaks into a song from the animated sitcom. After graduating from Olin College of Engineering—where, beyond the art of conversation, she studied the science of computer engineering—Haugen moved to Silicon Valley. During a stint at Google, she helped write the code for Secret Agent Cupid, the precursor to popular dating app Hinge. She took time off to undertake an M.B.A. at Harvard, a rarity for software engineers in Silicon Valley and something she would later credit with helping her diagnose some of the organizational flaws within Facebook. But in 2014, while back at Google, Haugen’s trajectory was knocked off course. Haugen has celiac disease, a condition that means her immune system attacks her own tissues if she eats gluten. (Hence the sushi.) She “did not take it seriously enough” in her 20s, she says. After repeated trips to the hospital, doctors eventually realized she had a blood clot in her leg that had been there for anywhere between 18 months and two years. Her leg turned purple, and she ended up in the hospital for over a month. There she had an allergic reaction to a drug and nearly bled to death. She suffered nerve damage in her hands and feet, a condition known as neuropathy, from which she still suffers today. “I think it really changes your priorities when you’ve almost died,” Haugen says. “Everything that I had defined myself [by] before, I basically lost.” She was used to being the wunderkind who could achieve anything. Now, she needed help cooking her meals. “My recovery made me feel much more powerful, because I rebuilt my body,” she says. “I think the part that informed my journey was: You have to accept when you whistle-blow like this that you could lose everything. You could lose your money, you could lose your freedom, you could alienate everyone who cares about you. There’s all these things that could happen to you. Once you overcome your fear of death, anything is possible. I think it gave me the freedom to say: Do I want to follow my conscience?” Once Haugen was out of the hospital, she moved back into her apartment but struggled with daily tasks. She hired a friend to assist her part time. “I became really close friends with him because he was so committed to my getting better,” she says. But over the course of six months, in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, she says, “I just lost him” to online misinformation. He seemed to believe conspiracy theories, like the idea that George Soros runs the world economy. “At some point, I realized I couldn’t reach him,” she says. Soon Haugen was physically recovering, and she began to consider re-entering the workforce. She spent stints at Yelp and Pinterest as a successful product manager working on algorithms. Then, in 2018, a Facebook recruiter contacted her. She told him that she would take the job only if she could work on tackling misinformation in Facebook’s “integrity” operation, the arm of the company focused on keeping the platform and its users safe. “I took that job because losing my friend was just incredibly painful, and I didn’t want anyone else to feel that pain,” she says. Her optimism that she could make a change from inside lasted about two months. Haugen’s first assignment involved helping manage a project to tackle misinformation in places where the company didn’t have any third-party fact-checkers. Everybody on her team was a new hire, and she didn’t have the data scientists she needed. “I went to the engineering manager, and I said, ‘This is the inappropriate team to work on this,’” she recalls. “He said, ‘You shouldn’t be so negative.’” The pattern repeated itself, she says. “I raised a lot of concerns in the first three months, and my concerns were always discounted by my manager and other people who had been at the company for longer.” Before long, her entire team was shifted away from working on international misinformation in some of Facebook’s most vulnerable markets to working on the 2020 U.S. election, she says. The documents Haugen would later disclose to authorities showed that in 2020, Facebook spent 3.2 million hours tackling misinformation, although just 13% of that time was spent on content from outside the U.S., the Journal reported. Facebook’s spokesperson said in a statement that the company has “dedicated teams with expertise in human rights, hate speech and misinformation” working in at-risk countries. “We dedicate resources to these countries, including those without fact-checking programs, and have been since before, during and after the 2020 U.S. elections, and this work continues today.” Read More: Why Some People See More Disturbing Content on Facebook Than Others, According to Leaked Documents Haugen said that her time working on misinformation in foreign countries made her deeply concerned about the impact of Facebook abroad. “I became concerned with India even in the first two weeks I was in the company,” she says. Many people who were accessing the Internet for the first time in places like India, Haugen realized after reading research on the topic, did not even consider the possibility that something they had read online might be false or misleading. “From that moment on, I was like, Oh, there is a huge sleeping dragon at Facebook,” she says. “We are advancing the Internet to other countries far faster than it happened in, say, the U.S.,” she says, noting that people in the U.S. have had time to build up a “cultural muscle” of skepticism toward online content. “And I worry about the gap [until] that information immune system forms.” In February 2020, Haugen sent a text message to her parents asking if she could come and live with them in Iowa when the pandemic hit. Her mother Alice Haugen recalls wondering what pandemic she was talking about, but agreed. “She had made a spreadsheet with a simple exponential growth model that tried to guess when San Francisco would be shut down,” Alice says. A little later, Frances asked if she could send some food ahead of her. Soon, large Costco boxes started arriving at the house. “She was trying to bring in six months of food for five people, because she was afraid that the supply lines might break down,” Alice says. “Our living room became a small grocery store.” After quarantining for 10 days upon arrival, the younger Haugen settled into lockdown life with her parents, continuing her work for Facebook remotely. “We shared meals, and every day we would have conversations,” Alice says. She recalled her daughter voicing specific concerns about Facebook’s impact in Ethiopia, where ethnic violence was playing out on—and in some cases being amplified by—Facebook’s platforms. On Nov. 9, Facebook said it had been investing in safety measures in Ethiopia for more than two years, including activating algorithms to down-rank potentially inflammatory content in several languages in response to escalating violence there. Haugen acknowledges the work, saying she wants to give “credit where credit is due,” but claims the social network was too late to intervene with safety measures in Ethiopia and other parts of the world. “The idea that they don’t even turn those knobs on until people are getting shot is completely unacceptable,” she says. “The reality right now is that Facebook is not willing to invest the level of resources that would allow it to intervene sooner.” A Facebook spokesperson defended the prioritization system in its statement, saying that the company has long-term strategies to “mitigate the impacts of harmful offline events in the countries we deem most at risk … while still protecting freedom of expression and other human rights principles.” What Haugen saw was happening in nations like Ethiopia and India would clarify her opinions about “engagement-based ranking”—the system within Facebook more commonly known as “the algorithm”—that chooses which posts, out of thousands of options, to rank at the top of users’ feeds. Haugen’s central argument is that human nature means this system is doomed to amplify the worst in us. “One of the things that has been well documented in psychology research is that the more times a human is exposed to something, the more they like it, and the more they believe it’s true,” she says. “One of the most dangerous things about engagement-based ranking is that it is much easier to inspire someone to hate than it is to compassion or empathy. Given that you have a system that hyperamplifies the most extreme content, you’re going to see people who get exposed over and over again to the idea that [for example] it’s O.K. to be violent to Muslims. And that destabilizes societies.” In the run-up to the 2020 U.S. election, according to media reports, some initiatives proposed by Facebook’s integrity teams to tackle misinformation and other problems were killed or watered down by executives on the policy side of the company, who are responsible both for setting the platform’s rules and lobbying governments on Facebook’s behalf. Facebook spokespeople have said in response that the interventions were part of the company’s commitment to nuanced policymaking that balanced freedom of speech with safety. Haugen’s time at business school taught her to view the problem differently: Facebook was a company that prioritized growth over the safety of its users. “Organizational structure is a wonky topic, but it matters,” Haugen says. Inside the company, she says, she observed the effect of these repeated interventions on the integrity team. “People make decisions on what projects to work on, or advance, or give more resources to, based on what they believe is the chance for success,” she says. “I think there were many projects that could be content-neutral—that didn’t involve us choosing what are good or bad ideas, but instead are about making the platform safe—that never got greenlit, because if you’ve seen other things like that fail, you don’t even try them.” Being with her parents, particularly her mother, who left a career as a professor to become an Episcopal priest, helped Haugen become comfortable with the idea she might one day have to go public. “I was learning all these horrific things about Facebook, and it was really tearing me up inside,” she says. “The thing that really hurts most whistle-blowers is: whistle-blowers live with secrets that impact the lives of other people. And they feel like they have no way of resolving them. And so instead of being destroyed by learning these things, I got to talk to my mother … If you’re having a crisis of conscience, where you’re trying to figure out a path that you can live with, having someone you can agonize to, over and over again, is the ultimate amenity.” Haugen didn’t decide to blow the whistle until December 2020, by which point she was back in San Francisco. The final straw came when Facebook dissolved Haugen’s former team, civic integrity, whose leader had asked employees to take an oath to put the public good before Facebook’s private interest. (Facebook denies that it dissolved the team, saying instead that members were spread out across the company to amplify its influence.) Haugen and many of her former colleagues felt betrayed. But her mother’s counsel had mentally prepared her. “It meant that when that moment happened, I was actually in a pretty good place,” Haugen says. “I wasn’t in a place of crisis like many whistle-blowers are.” Read More: Why Facebook Employees ‘Deprioritized’ a Misinformation Fix In March, Haugen moved to Puerto Rico, in part for the warm weather, which she says helps with her neuropathy pain. Another factor was the island’s cryptocurrency community, which has burgeoned because of the U.S. territory’s lack of capital gains taxes. In October, she told the New York Times that she had bought into crypto “at the right time,” implying that she had a financial buffer that allowed her to whistle-blow comfortably. Haugen’s detractors have pointed to the irony of her calling for tech companies to do their social duty, while living in a U.S. territory with a high rate of poverty that is increasingly being used as a tax haven. Some have also pointed out that Haugen is not entirely independent: she has received support from Luminate, a philanthropic organization pushing for progressive Big Tech reform in Europe and the U.S., and which is backed by the billionaire founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar. Luminate paid Haugen’s expenses on her trip to Europe and helped organize meetings with senior officials. Omidyar has also donated to Whistleblower Aid, the nonprofit legal organization that is now representing Haugen pro bono. Luminate says it entered into a relationship with Haugen only after she went public with her disclosures. Haugen resigned from Facebook in May this year, after being told by the human-resources team that she could not work remotely from a U.S. territory. The news accelerated the secret project that she had decided to begin after seeing her old team disbanded. To collect the documents she would later disclose, Haugen trawled Facebook’s internal employee forum, Workplace. She traced the careers of integrity colleagues she admired—many of whom had left the company in frustration—gathering slide decks, research briefs and policy proposals they had worked on, as well as other documents she came across. Read more: Facebook Will Not Fix Itself While collecting the documents, she had flashbacks to her teenage years preparing folders of evidence for debates. “I was like, Wow, this is just like debate camp!” she recalls. “When I was 16 and doing that, I had no idea that it would be useful in this way in the future.” Jabin Botsford—Getty ImagesHaugen testifies on Oct. 5 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. In her Senate testimony in early October, Haugen suggested a federal agency should be set up to oversee social media algorithms so that “someone like me could do a tour of duty” after working at a company like Facebook. But moving to Washington, D.C., to serve at such an agency has no appeal, she says. “I am happy to be one of the people consulted by that agency,” she says. “But I have a life I really like in Puerto Rico.” Now that her tour of Europe is over, Haugen has had a chance to think about what comes next. Over an encrypted phone call from Puerto Rico a few days after we met in Paris, she says she would like to help build a grassroots movement to help young people push back against the harms caused by social media companies. In this new task, as seems to be the case with everything in Haugen’s life, she wants to try to leverage the power of education. “I am fully aware that a 19-year-old talking to a 16-year-old will be more effective than me talking to that 16-year-old,” she tells me. “There is a real opportunity for young people to flex their political muscles and demand accountability.” I ask if she has a message to send to young people reading this. “Hmm,” she says, followed by a long pause. “In every era, humans invent technologies that run away from themselves,” she says. “It’s very easy to look at some of these tech platforms and feel like they are too big, too abstract and too amorphous to influence in any way. But the reality is there are lots of things we can do. And the reason they haven’t done them is because it makes the companies less profitable. Not unprofitable, just less profitable. And no company has the right to subsidize their profits with your health. Ironically, Haugen gives partial credit to one of her managers at Facebook for inspiring her thought process around blowing the whistle. After struggling with a problem for a week without asking for help, she missed a deadline. When she explained why, the manager told her he was disappointed that she had hidden that she was having difficulty, she says. “He said, ‘We solve problems together; we don’t solve them alone,’” she says. Never one to miss a teaching opportunity, she continues, “Part of why I came forward is I believe Facebook has been struggling alone. They’ve been hiding how much they’re struggling. And the reality is, we solve problems together, we don’t solve them alone.” ShutterstockFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced the company was rebranding as Meta. It’s a philosophy that Haugen sees as the basis for how social media platforms should deal with societal issues going forward. In late October, Facebook Inc. (which owns Facebook, Whats App and Instagram) changed its name to Meta, a nod to its ambition to build the next generation of online experiences. In a late-October speech, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he believed the “Metaverse”—its new proposal to build a virtual universe—would fundamentally reshape how humans interact with technology. Haugen says she is concerned the Metaverse will isolate people rather than bring them together: “I believe any tech with that much influence deserves public oversight.” But hers is also a belief system that allows for a path toward redemption. That friend she lost to misinformation? His story has a happy ending. “I learned later that he met a nice girl and he had gone back to church,” Haugen says, adding that he no longer believes in conspiracy theories. “It gives me a lot of hope that we can recover as individuals and as a society. But it involves us connecting with people.” —With reporting by Leslie Dickstein and Nik Popli.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 22nd, 2021

4 Software Stocks to Watch for in a Booming Industry

Computer Software industry participants like Microsoft (MSFT), Salesforce (CRM), Intuit (INTU) and Cadence Design Systems (CDNS) are benefiting from a steady digital transformation environment and strong adoption of cloud computing, despite coronavirus-led disruptions. The Zacks Computer Software industry is benefiting from the pandemic-induced accelerated digital transformation drive across the globe. Software is ubiquitous and has become the focal point of technological innovation. Apart from running devices and applications, its usage has been extended to managing infrastructure. The industry is primarily gaining from the ongoing cloud transition. The role of software is evolving. With the continuation of remote work setup and mainstream adoption of hybrid/flexible work model, the demand for voice and video communication software as well as productivity software is expected to increase exponentially. These trends bode well for industry participants like Microsoft MSFT, Salesforce CRM, Intuit INTU and Cadence Design Systems CDNS. Industry DescriptionThe Zacks Computer Software industry comprises companies that provide software applications related to cloud computing, electronic product designing, digital media and marketing, customer relationship management, on-premises as well as cloud-based database management, accounting and tax purposes, human capital management, cybersecurity and application performance monitoring and cloud-based enterprise communications platform among others. Some of the companies specialize in the development and marketing of simulation software (like the computer-aided design or “CAD”, 3D modelling, product lifecycle management or “PLM”, data orchestration and experience creation), which are widely used by engineers, designers and researchers across a broad spectrum of industries like architecture, engineering and construction; product design and manufacturing; and digital media3 Trends Shaping the Future of the Software IndustryHigher Spending on Software Aids Prospects: The industry’s prospects are bright, given higher spending by the enterprises on software procurement. Continued investment in big data and analytics along with the ongoing adoption of software as a service or SaaS opens up significant opportunities for industry players. Cloud offers a flexible and cost-effective platform to develop and test applications. The deployment time is also much shorter compared with legacy systems. SaaS companies are expected to register strong top-line growth on a higher percentage of recurring revenues, subscription gross margin and a lower churn rate.Cloud Computing Adoption Gaining Traction: The increasing need to secure the cloud platforms, amid growing incidents of cyber-attacks and hacking, is driving demand for cyber security software. Enterprises are focused on rapid migration to cloud and DevOps technologies to achieve scalability and agility for software development as well as IT operations. This helps in delivering a flawless digital experience to clients. This trend has brought immense value to application and infrastructure performance monitoring. It is driving the demand for performance management monitoring tools that are not only scalable but also suitable for cloud-based environments.Remote Work to Drive Demand, Worsening COVID-19 Situation a Concern: The continuation of work-from-home and online-learning set up along with the adoption of distributed workforce model is fueling demand for enterprise communication, workspace management and human capital management software solutions, among others. However, the coronavirus situation is highly evolving with the emergence of a more contagious Omicron variant. Several parts of the world (especially the U.K. and the rest of Europe) are grappling with increasing infection rates, leading to the reimposition of several COVID-19 restrictions. Even the United States is witnessing a surge in the Omicron outbreak. This could affect spending across small- and medium-sized businesses globally. The uncertainty in business visibility could dent the industry’s performance in the near term.Zacks Industry Rank Indicates Bright ProspectsThe Zacks Computer Software industry is housed within the broader Zacks Computer And Technology sector. It carries a Zacks Industry Rank #99, which places it in the top 39% of more than 254 Zacks industries.The group’s Zacks Industry Rank, which is basically the average of the Zacks Rank of all the member stocks, indicates bright near-term prospects. Our research shows that the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries outperform the bottom 50% by a factor of more than 2 to 1.Looking at the aggregate earnings estimate revisions, it appears that analysts are gaining confidence in this group’s earnings growth potential. Since Jan 31, 2021, the industry’s earnings estimate for 2021 has improved 6.1%.Before we present some stocks that you may want to consider for your portfolio, considering their prospects, let us look at the industry’s recent stock-market performance and valuation picture.Industry Outperforms Sector and S&P 500The Zacks Computer Software industry has outperformed the broader Zacks Computer and Technology sector and the S&P 500 Index in the past year.The industry has rallied 25.1% over this period compared with the S&P 500’s rise of 18.4% and the broader sector’s increase of 8%.One-Year Price PerformanceIndustry's Current Valuation On the basis of forward 12-month P/E, which is a commonly used multiple for valuing software companies, we see that the industry is currently trading at 32.9X compared with the S&P 500’s 20.65X. It is also above the sector’s forward-12-month P/E of 26.08X.Over the last five years, the industry has traded as high as 37.26X, as low as 22.60X and at the median of 27.07X, as the chart below shows.Forward 12-Month Price-to-Earnings (P/E) RatioForward 12-Month P/E Ratio4 Software Stocks to Snap Up Right NowSalesforce: Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, Salesforce is the leading provider of on-demand Customer Relationship Management software, enabling organizations to manage critical operations, such as sales force automation, customer service and support, marketing automation, document management, analytics and custom application development.Salesforce is benefiting from a robust demand environment as customers are undergoing a major digital transformation. The rapid adoption of its cloud-based solutions is driving demand for its products. Salesforce’s sustained focus on introducing more aligned products per customers’ needs is driving the top line. The recent acquisition of Slack would position the company as a leader in the enterprise team collaboration solution space and compete with Microsoft’s Teams product.Salesforce sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s fiscal 2022 earnings is at $4.68 per share, up 6.4% in the past 60 days.Price and Consensus: CRMMicrosoft: The Redmond, WA-based company is benefiting from momentum in its Azure cloud platform amid accelerated digital transformation around the globe. The company is now one of the two public cloud providers that can deliver a wide variety of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions at scale.Microsoft is witnessing growth in the user base of its different applications, including Microsoft 365 suite and Dynamics. Recovery in ad and job market boosted LinkedIn and Search revenues. Teams’ user growth is gaining from the continuation of remote work and the implementation of a flexible work model. The solid uptake of new Xbox consoles is aiding the gaming segment performance.Shares of Microsoft have returned 33.5% in a year’s time. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company’s fiscal 2022 earnings is pegged at $9.14 per share, up 2 cents in the past 60 days.Price and Consensus: MSFT  Intuit: Mountain View, CA-based Intuit is a business and financial software company that develops and sells financial, accounting and tax preparation software and related services for small businesses, consumers and accounting professionals globally.Intuit is benefiting from strong momentum in online ecosystem revenues and solid professional tax revenues. The TurboTax Live offering is also driving growth in the Consumer tax business. Solid momentum in the company’s lending product, QuickBooks Capital, remains a positive factor. Moreover, the company’s strategy of shifting its business to a cloud-based subscription model will help generate stable revenues over the long run.Shares of Intuit have returned 45.3% in a year’s time. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for this Zacks Rank #2 company’s fiscal 2022 earnings is pegged at $11.68 per share.Price and Consensus: INTU Cadence Design Systems: The San Jose, CA-based company is well-positioned to gain from strength across segments like digital & signoff solutions and functional verification suite. Expanding product portfolio and frequent product launches are a key catalyst.Increasing investments on emerging trends like Internet-of-things (IoT), augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) as well as autonomous vehicle sub-systems present significant growth opportunities for the company in the long haul. The recent acquisitions of Pointwise and NUMECA are expected to boost the top line.In the past year, shares of Cadence have returned 9.4%. The consensus mark for this Zacks Rank #2 company’s 2021 earnings is pegged at $3.25 per share, unchanged in the past 60 days.Price and Consensus: CDNS  5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report salesforce.com, inc. (CRM): Free Stock Analysis Report Intuit Inc. (INTU): Free Stock Analysis Report Cadence Design Systems, Inc. (CDNS): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJan 21st, 2022

Hewlett Packard (HPE) to Streamline Brasfield & Gorrie"s Network

Birmingham-based Brasfield & Gorrie, one of the largest privately-held construction firms in the United States, to standardize on Hewlett Packard Enterprise's (HPE) Aruba SD-Branch network. Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s HPE Aruba recently announced that one of the largest privately-held construction firms in the United States — Brasfield & Gorrie — is standardizing on its end-to-end Software Defined (“SD”)-Branch network.HPE Aruba’s SD-Branch combines best-in-class wireless, wired, and wide area network (“WAN”) infrastructure with unified management capabilities that include assurance, orchestration, and security to maximize performance and minimize operational costs. With this solution, Brasfield & Gorrie will connect 19 permanent locations and 200 temporary construction sites maintained by it.Aruba SD-Branch network will not only enhance worker safety, efficiency and building integrity but also reduce costs and complexity of Brasfield & Gorrie’s network. It will ensure reliable connectivity at the branch offices and construction sites.Brasfield & Gorrie will simplify its network by deploying Aruba’s Wi-Fi 6 access points (APs) and high-performance branch gateways to address Wifi challenges and implementing Aruba’s CX Series switches for the data center core along with access and aggregation switches. It will utilize Aruba’s virtual reality for immersive project experiences, drones for automating inspections and layout robots for precisely marking the placement of walls and mechanical systems.Per the deal, Brasfield & Gorrie will deploy Aruba Central for unified and proactive cloud-based AIOps, managements of APs, gateways and switches. Aruba Central provides single-pane-of-glass unified infrastructure management, AIOps, security, and reporting.The Birmingham-based construction firm will leverage Aruba’s User Experience Insight (“UXI”) for hard-wired or Wi-Fi incident detection using AIOps to pinpoint issues that require immediate attention. UXI improves the end-user experience on a network by proactively monitoring, troubleshooting, and addressing application and network performance issues. It will utilize Aruba’s NetEdit and Location Services to make construction processes entirely automated in the future.Hewlett Packard’s strategic plan of investing $4 billion in artificial intelligence, industrial internet of things and distributed computing will boost its revenues in the long run. The company has linked these businesses to its fast-growing networking business arm — Aruba Networks. The strategy will aid the company in diversifying its business from server and hardware storage markets.Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company Price and Consensus Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company price-consensus-chart | Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company QuoteRecently, in December 2021, HPE’s Aruba introduced the new EdgeConnect Microbranch solution, an industry-leading home office and small office networking solution for hybrid work environments. In the same month, Aruba announced Aruba SD-WAN support and integration with Amazon Web Services’ new AWS Cloud WAN, an innovative cloud networking service.In November 2021, WIPTEC deployed Aruba’s Edge Services Platform (“ESP”) network at its new 1.7 million-square-foot distribution center in Longueuil, Quebec. Prior to that, in July 2021, Save A Lot, one of the largest discount grocery store chains in the United States, deployed the Aruba ESP network to support a technology transformation initiative across its entire organization.We believe Hewlett Packard’s multi-billion-dollar investment plan across expanding networking capabilities will help diversify its business from server and hardware storage markets, and boost margins over the long run.Zacks Rank & Other Stocks to ConsiderHewlett Packard currently flaunts a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).Some other top-ranked stocks from the broader computer and technology sector include the largest global Customer Relationship Management vendor Salesforce CRM and the graphic processing unit inventor NVIDIA Corporation NVDA, both flaunting a Zacks Rank #1, and Advanced Micro Devices AMD carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Salesforce’s fourth-quarter fiscal 2022 earnings has been revised downward by 7.6% to 73 cents per share over the past 60 days. For fiscal 2022, earnings estimates have moved upward by 0.43% to $4.68 per share in the last 60 days.Salesforce’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the preceding four quarters, the average surprise being 44.2%. CRM stock has appreciated 9% in the past year.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for NVIDIA’s fourth-quarter fiscal 2022 earnings has been revised upward by 13 cents to $1.22 per share over the past 60 days. For fiscal 2022, earnings estimates have moved north by 19 cents to $4.33 per share in the past 60 days.NVIDIA’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the preceding four quarters, the average surprise being 7.7%. Shares of NVDA have soared 106.9% in the past year.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Advanced Micro Devices’ fourth-quarter 2021 earnings has been revised upward by 7 cents to 75 cents per share over the past 90 days. For 2021, earnings estimates have moved north by 0.38% to $2.65 per share in the last 30 days.Advanced Micro Devices’ earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the preceding four quarters, the average surprise being 14%. Shares of AMD have rallied 49.7% in the past year. Bitcoin, Like the Internet Itself, Could Change Everything Blockchain and cryptocurrency has sparked one of the most exciting discussion topics of a generation. Some call it the “Internet of Money” and predict it could change the way money works forever. If true, it could do to banks what Netflix did to Blockbuster and Amazon did to Sears. Experts agree we’re still in the early stages of this technology, and as it grows, it will create several investing opportunities. Zacks’ has just revealed 3 companies that can help investors capitalize on the explosive profit potential of Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies with significantly less volatility than buying them directly. See 3 crypto-related stocks now >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD): Free Stock Analysis Report salesforce.com, inc. (CRM): Free Stock Analysis Report NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA): Free Stock Analysis Report Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company (HPE): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJan 14th, 2022

SONY to Reportedly Continue the Production of PS4 in 2022

SONY is continuing the production of its most popular PlayStation 4 console as PlayStation 5 production faces supply-chain disruptions, per a Bloomberg report. Sony Group Corporation SONY is planning to continue the production of its last-generation console, PlayStation 4 (PS4), throughout 2022, according to a report from Bloomberg. Previously, Sony had plans to shelve PS4 production by 2021 but the company never had disclosed the plans officially, added the report.Bloomberg also added that a Sony spokesperson confirmed that the company was maintaining PS4 production this year.Citing sources acquainted with the matter, Bloomberg reported that Sony conveyed to its assembly partners late last year that it would go on producing PS4 in 2022 to alleviate pressure on PlayStation 5 (PS5) production. PS5 production has been troubled for quite some time due to pandemic-triggered global supply-chain disruptions.Sony launched PS5 in November 2020. The latest console was an instant hit with gamers and reportedly more than 10 million units have been sold since then. PS5 boasts a powerful 8-core AMD Zen 2 processor, 10.3 teraflops of graphics power and impressive 4K visuals, thereby providing an enhanced end-user experience.Sony Corporation Price and Consensus Sony Corporation price-consensus-chart | Sony Corporation QuoteCompared with PS5, the last-generation PS4 console uses older-generation chips and therefore are relatively lower priced, making them attractive to gamers. Further, citing sources, the report added that by increasing PS4 supply, Sony is looking to retain gamers within the PlayStation ecosystem as PS5 production faces unexpected challenges.PS4 remains Sony’s most popular console, with the company having sold nearly 116 million units.Sony’s Gaming Division to Drive the Top LineStrong uptake of cloud gaming has emerged as a majotr growth driver for the gaming market. Higher proliferation of smartphones and the adoption of advanced technologies like augmented/virtual reality for next-generation video games along with rapid 5G deployment will act as catalysts driving the gaming market.Further, acceleration in gaming activity worldwide has been triggered by the COVID-19 crisis and ensuing on/off shelter-in-place restrictions.Sony’s Game & Network Services (G&NS) segment is one of the leading growth drivers of the company’s top line. In the last reported quarter, G&NS sales jumped 27.4% year over year to ¥645.4 billion, driven by a rise in sales of hardware, a positive impact of foreign exchange rates and an increase in sales of non-first-party titles. The segment’s operating income was ¥82.7 billion compared with ¥105.4 billion in the prior-year quarter.The company is also focusing on expanding its gaming business through an inorganic growth strategy. Last year, the company acquired game developer, Bluepoint Games, a game development studio, Housemarque, a PC-port specialist, Nixxes and the U.K.-based developer, Firesprite to bolster its market share in the lucrative gaming software business.Zacks Rank & Other Stocks to ConsiderAt present, Sony carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).Some other top-ranked stocks from the broader technology sector include Salesforce CRM, Hewlett Packard HPE and Microsoft MSFT. While Salesforce and Hewlett Packard sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Microsoft carries a Zacks Rank #2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Salesforce’s fiscal 2022 earnings is pegged at $4.68 per share, up 6.4% in the past 60 days. The long-term earnings growth rate of the company is pegged at 16.8%.Salesforce’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in all the preceding four quarters, the average surprise being 44.2%. Shares of CRM have increased 7.6% in the past year.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Hewlett Packard’s fiscal 2022 earnings is pegged at $2.03 per share, unchanged in the past 60 days. The long-term earnings growth rate of the company is pegged at 5.8%.Hewlett Packard’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the last four quarters, the average surprise being 14.4%. Shares of HPE  have rallied 40% in the past year.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Microsoft’s fiscal 2022 earnings is pegged at $9.13 per share. The long-term earnings growth rate of the company is pegged at 12%.Microsoft’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the last four quarters, the average surprise being 14.8%. Shares of MSFT have surged 45.6% in the past year. Breakout Biotech Stocks with Triple-Digit Profit Potential The biotech sector is projected to surge beyond $2.4 trillion by 2028 as scientists develop treatments for thousands of diseases. They’re also finding ways to edit the human genome to literally erase our vulnerability to these diseases. Zacks has just released Century of Biology: 7 Biotech Stocks to Buy Right Now to help investors profit from 7 stocks poised for outperformance. Recommendations from previous editions of this report have produced gains of +205%, +258% and +477%. The stocks in this report could perform even better.See these 7 breakthrough stocks now >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report salesforce.com, inc. (CRM): Free Stock Analysis Report Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company (HPE): Free Stock Analysis Report Sony Corporation (SONY): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksJan 13th, 2022

SONY Unveils VR Headset for PS5 to Cash In On Metaverse Hype

In addition to the VR headset, Sony (SONY) has launched an exclusive game that will be among the first to tap the capabilities of the new headset. Sony Group Corporation SONY recently unveiled a virtual reality (“VR”) headset for its PS5 gaming console. Dubbed PSVR2, the new headset is billed to be one of the best-selling products in its category with an immersive gaming experience that is likely to capitalize on the increasing metaverse hype.The PSVR2 is equipped with upgraded hardware for improved headset features and VR2 Sense controllers for greater immersion capabilities. These include increased visual fidelity, head and eye tracking, a 110-degree field of view, adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. These, in turn, are likely to enable the gamers “interact with games in a much more visceral way.” The headset could be easily fitted with a single cable connected directly to PS5.Sony also launched an exclusive game that will be among the first to tap the capabilities of the new headset. Titled Horizon Call of the Mountain, the game will share its universe with the previous edition Horizon Zero Dawn and the upcoming Horizon Forbidden West. However, the company did not provide the release date of either the headset or the game.Sony launched PS5 in November 2020 to tap the uptick in pandemic-induced nesting activities — games, streaming video, and home fitness. The gaming console was an instant hit with customers and was immediately sold out worldwide, reportedly more than 10 million units to date. Sony has loaded the product with updated graphics, a newly-redesigned controller, and a collection of exclusive games. With a powerful 8-core AMD Zen 2 processor, 10.3 teraflops of graphics power, gorgeous 4K visuals and an immersive end-user experience, the PS5 promises one of the best performances witnessed in a gaming console. Moreover, PS5 loads games about 10 to 20 seconds faster than the PS4 Pro and can even read physical discs a few minutes faster, making it an ideal choice for tech-savvy gamers.The new headset is likely to augment the gaming experience in PS5 and enable Sony to play the catch-up game with rivals Microsoft Corporation’s MSFT Xbox Series X and Nintendo Co.’s NTDOY Switch.Microsoft is one of the three largest providers of gaming hardware. Its Xbox console was one of the first gaming devices of its kind. Microsoft supplemented the hardware with a number of popular video game titles. It also introduced the Xbox Live online gaming service, which enabled subscribers to play online Xbox games with each other and download new games directly onto the device.Nintendo has particularly flourished during the pandemic with its social simulation game titled ”Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” However, it faced supply chain disruptions and global chip shortages, forcing it to trim its sales forecast for 2021 by 6% to 24 million units.Although Sony is expected to face some supply chain headwinds for the PSVR2 headset as well, it is betting big on its success. The stock has gained 27.2% over the past year compared with the industry’s rise of 21.8%, driven by healthy revenues on the back of a flexible business model and solid market response for the PS5 gaming console. We remain impressed with the inherent growth potential of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock. Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchA better-ranked stock in the industry is Sonos, Inc. SONO, sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Sonos delivered an earnings surprise of 177.9%, on average, in the trailing four quarters. It has a long-term earnings growth expectation of 17%. Earnings estimates for SONO’s current year have moved up 46.6% since January 2021. Over the past year, Sonos has gained a modest 24.8%. Infrastructure Stock Boom to Sweep America A massive push to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure will soon be underway. It’s bipartisan, urgent, and inevitable. Trillions will be spent. Fortunes will be made. The only question is “Will you get into the right stocks early when their growth potential is greatest?” Zacks has released a Special Report to help you do just that, and today it’s free. Discover 5 special companies that look to gain the most from construction and repair to roads, bridges, and buildings, plus cargo hauling and energy transformation on an almost unimaginable scale.Download FREE: How to Profit from Trillions on Spending for Infrastructure >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report Sonos, Inc. (SONO): Free Stock Analysis Report Nintendo Co. (NTDOY): Free Stock Analysis Report Sony Corporation (SONY): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksJan 5th, 2022

Adobe"s chief product officer predicts the 5 biggest tech trends of 2022

Read Adobe CPO and Behance founder Scott Belsky five predictions for the way the tech world will change in 2022. Scott Belsky challenges himself to make projections of future tech trendsEric Einwiller Scott Belsky is the founder of Behance and the chief product officer at Adobe. As 2021 comes to a close, he predicts five major trends to emerge in the tech industry next year. This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. Every year I challenge myself to synthesize the themes in technology and culture for which I have most conviction, and attempt to project where they will take us next. I am sharing them as a way to connect more dots, meet more founders, and solicit input that will further develop these ideas. No surprise, some of the companies I mention within these trends as examples are in my own portfolio or part of my work building creative products. But I have challenged myself to share ideas still-on-the-cusp of breakout rather than the obvious trends and winners:1. The next generation of top talent will have "Polygamous Careers," transforming the corporate world as we know itOur brains, interests, and potential have never been single-threaded nor confined to a singular interest or skill. And yet, the traditional labor market since the industrial revolution has placed us in one job at a time  —  for years at a time. The entire system, from college recruiting and healthcare to LinkedIn profiles and annual tax forms, is geared for monogamous careers. I have come to believe two things, after a circuitous career as a founder, author, traditional VC, active angel, and product leader at a large company:  I am most happy when my many interests and skills feel fully utilized  —  both professionally and personally, and in the modern hyper-networked world that gives us all broad exposure to fuel our many interests, fewer of us can be singularly defined. I firmly believe that professional fulfillment will increasingly be the result of feeling fully utilized.The next generation of talent entering the workforce will overwhelmingly opt for what I've come to call "polygamous careers."The desire to generate income and feel fulfilled from multiple projects will increase retention (you don't leave a job if your "other interests" are being fulfilled elsewhere), increase workplace productivity (no more face time…people will be busier and more efficient), and help many projects and companies engage top talent that would otherwise be out of reach. One's profession will be a portfolio of projects, whether you're a designer, engineer, salesperson, or investor. The idea of "exclusivity" in an offer letter will be laughable faster than we think.A few transformative products and technologies will support the rise of polygamous careers. Polywork is a modern take on LinkedIn that builds out your profile at the more granular project and achievement level as opposed to the job level. So, "Pushed Code," "Updated an iOS app," or "Spoke at a conference" is the new "Got a new Job." In a polygamous career, these milestones matter more. Another company I am excited about is Braintrust, a decentralized "talent owned" network where any company can engage a group of freelancers and directly work with a coordinated group of talent without any middleman or take rate.My hope for the future is that more people will enjoy the benefits of "Tune-In Jobs" (where you are deeply engaged with the work you do) vs. "Tune-Out Jobs" (where we're more focused on the clock). The world is moved forward by those who tune in.2. The rise of immersive experiences will mainstream 3D creationI promised myself I wouldn't say it…but "Metaverse." Ultimately, what this means is that we will increasingly play games, connect with friends, and work with colleagues in a fully immersive virtual reality. Such spaces will have the largest movie screens you've ever seen, they will defy the laws of physics, and they will literally enable you to explore your dreams. The jury is still out on which devices will mainstream such experiences at school, work, and home, but they are coming and we will all jump in just as we did with mobile phones. However, such experiences will be boring and fall completely flat unless they are filled with rich, engaging, three-dimensional, interactive, and personalized content. Engaging content is what unlocks the potential of new mediums, and immersive will be no different.The only problem is that 3D content is notoriously hard to make. Historically, to build a 3D object you needed sophisticated modeling programs with a lot of math, and then a whole suite of other products to illustrate and render. Imagine doing this for an entire virtual reality experience.At Adobe, we've learned that most designers want to start with a stock 3D object as opposed to building one from scratch. We've built out an entire suite of products called Substance 3D that includes a product that lets you sculpt a 3D object (much like clay) wearing a virtual reality headset, and then refine it further in desktop products to make it look real. With our efforts and numerous startups tackling this opportunity, coupled with the capacity of our mobile phone cameras to scan objects into 3D assets, we will all be creating in virtual reality as immersive experiences go mainstream.3. "The Stakeholder Economy" will turn customers (and employees) of businesses into ownersWhat many folks term "web 3" is really just a blockchain-driven model to administer, govern, earn, and trade ownership stakes of the next generation of platforms and businesses.I can't help but imagine the same technology being applied to the long tail of smaller businesses both on and offline. Imagine if your favorite online publications, e-commerce brands, and small businesses in your town were able to frictionlessly distribute ownership to every stakeholder without the need for expensive IPOs are major structural changes. Perhaps we will all own a piece of the many online businesses and marketplaces we frequent, as well as our favorite local restaurant, ice cream shop, and coffee house. Imagine every subscriber to your newsletter becoming a stakeholder as well as a reader, and what that would do to viral marketing? When you like a brand or service, you can buy tokens or earn them by contributing labor in the form of clearly defined and measurable tasks.Our tokens would entitle us to vote on certain decisions (flavors of the month?), serve as an engagement vehicle, turn us into passionate unpaid marketers, and would carry (perhaps even grow) a residual value that can be sold on an open 24/7 market to new residents and customers (or speculators seeking exposure to mom and pop shops in stable communities)  —  or perhaps these tokens can even be redeemed for merchandise? Perhaps you'd be able to buy your ice cream with (tokens in the) ice cream (shop). Might the benefits of collective ownership of small companies be the biggest threat to big companies? If every stakeholder of these businesses was deeply incentivized to help build, improve, market, and patronize the brands, perhaps that would become a competitive advantage against the big guys.4. Artificial Intelligence will make personalization too good to opt-outMy growing contrarian view about the trend of privacy and opting out of ads is that artificial intelligence will make personalization so damn incredible that opting out will be the equivalent of using an old flip phone or going to a restaurant and getting served a random dish. This is especially true for the next generation that prefers transparency over privacy. , "Ads" conjures up the era of annoying banner ads and pop-ups. But "personalized experiences" are the new advertising, and most of us would prefer it whether we admit it or not.We already want personalized experiences:  We want local restaurants to know our names and preferences. We want shoe stores to remember our size. We want online food markets to hide the food we're allergic to.If you subscribe to my view that technology, it takes us back to the way things once were  —  but with less friction and at a far greater scale. We'll want AI-driven immersive experiences to know us well, but not at the expense of our security and comfort.As always (at least in my mind), design is the solution. UX design, policies, and practices will be at the forefront of building customer relationships that let us hyper-personalize future experiences at scale without compromising trust.5. The next generation will have a nomadic decade of life and work, and will love itWhen I graduated college, my first task was finding an apartment with a somewhat arbitrary set of roommates. There was no popular notion nor tolerance for remote work, Airbnb didn't exist, and every apartment lease was at least a year long but only affordable with a longer commitment. Fast forward, the vast majority of start-ups  —  and even many big companies  —  are remote friendly or remote only. There are also all types of apartment-swapping networks and all price ranges of Airbnb's that enable us to choose locations a few weeks at a time. So, my prediction is that young adults in their twenties increasingly choose to spend a decade of their lives living between a set of rented or swapped spaces around the world, working remotely, and immersing themselves in communities and cultures. Such an experience would truly change their lives and foster the type of creativity, openness to diversity, and self-exploration that enriches personal and professional outcomes. What kinds of products and networks can make this more accessible and affordable to all? Whatever products and employers lean in this direction will prosper.Of course, this opens up the Pandora's box of remote work. New companies can be built for this era, but can old companies be retrofitted with a culture and set of practices that work for this new way of life? Or is there a growing chasm between companies that are and aren't willing to accommodate? Ultimately, we all either follow the trail of great talent or fall behind.Scott Belsky is an entrepreneur (Behance, 99U), and chief product officer of Adobe. author (The Messy Middle, Making Ideas Happen), and early-stage investor in 80+ startups (including several mentioned in this article) and is an all-around product obsessive.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 1st, 2022

Don"t Let Cancel Culture Grinches Strip Your Joy From Christmas

Don't Let Cancel Culture Grinches Strip Your Joy From Christmas Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “It’s Christmas Eve! It’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be! It’s a sort of a miracle because it happens every Christmas Eve… There are people that are having trouble making their miracle happen… It’s not just the poor and the hungry, it’s everybody that’s gotta have this miracle!”— Scrooged (1988) What a year. It feels as if government Grinches, corporate Scrooges, and cancel culture humbugs have been working overtime to drain every last drop of joy, kindness and liberty from the world. After endless months of gloom and doom, it can be hard to feel the joy of Christmas in the midst of rampant commercialism, political correctness and the casual cruelty of an apathetic, self-absorbed, dog-eat-dog world. Then again, isn’t that struggle to overcome the darkness and find the light within exactly what Christmas—the celebration of a baby born in a manger—is all about? The reminder that we have not been forgotten or forsaken. Glad tidings in the midst of hard times. Goodwill to counter meanness. Innocence in the face of cynicism. Hope in the midst of despair. Comfort to soothe our fears. Peace as an answer to war. Love that conquers hate. As “fellow-passengers to the grave,” we all have a moral duty to make this world (or at least our small corners of it) just a little bit kinder, a little less hostile and a lot more helpful to those in need. No matter what one’s budget, religion, or political persuasion, there is no shortage of things we can each do right now to pay our blessings forward and recapture the true spirit of Christmas. For starters, move beyond the “us” vs. “them” mentality. Tune into what’s happening in your family, in your community and your world, and get active. Show compassion to those in need, be kind to those around you, forgive those who have wronged you, and teach your children to do the same. Talk less, and listen more. Take less, and give more. Stop being a hater. Stop acting entitled and start being empowered. Learn tolerance in the true sense of the word. Value your family. Count your blessings. Share your blessings. Feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and comfort the lonely and broken-hearted. Build bridges, and tear down walls. Stand for freedom. Strive for peace. One thing more: make time for joy and laughter. Shake off the blues with some Christmas tunes, whatever fits the bill for you, be it traditional carols, rollicking oldies, or some rocking new tunes. Watch a Christmas movie that reinforces your faith in the things that truly matter. Here are ten of my favorite Christmas movies and music albums to get you started. First the movies. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946). An American classic about a despondent man, George Bailey who is saved from suicide by an angel working to get his wings. This film is a testament to director Frank Capra’s faith in people. Sublime performances by James Stewart and Donna Reed. The Bishop’s Wife (1947). An angel comes to earth in answer to a bishop’s prayer for help. Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young help energize this tale of lost visions and longings of the heart. Miracle on 34th Street (1947). By happenchance, Kris Kringle is hired as Santa Claus by Macy’s Department Store in New York City for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Before long, Kringle, who believes himself to be the one and only Santa Claus, has impacted virtually everyone around him. Funny, witty and heartwarming, this film is stocked with some fine performances from Maureen O’Hara, John Payne and young Natalie Wood. Edmund Gwenn won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role as Saint Nick. A Christmas Carol (1951). This is the best film version of the penny-pinching Scrooge’s journey to spiritual enlightenment by way of visits from supernatural visitors. Alastair Sim as Scrooge gives one of the finest film performances never to win an Oscar. The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) provides a wonderful glimpse into how Charles Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol. A Christmas Story (1983). Ralphie is a young boy obsessed with one thing and only one thing: how to get a Red Ryder BB-gun for Christmas. Ralphie’s parents are wary, and his mother continually warns him that “you’ll shoot your eye out.” Based on Jean Shepherd’s autobiographical book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, at the heart of this timeless comedy is the universal yearning of a child for the magic of Christmas morning. A great cast, which includes Darren McGavin, Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon and a voice-over narrative by Shepherd himself. One Magic Christmas (1985). If you grew up in a family where times were tough, this film is for you. A guardian angel comes to earth to help a disillusioned woman who hates Christmas. This tale of redemption and second chances is a delight to watch. And Harry Dean Stanton makes a first-class offbeat angel. Prancer (1989). This story of an eight-year-old girl who believes that an injured reindeer in her barn is actually one of Santa’s reindeer is one of the most down-to-earth Christmas films ever made. It’s a testament to the transforming power of love and childhood innocence. Sam Elliott and Cloris Leachman are fine in supporting roles, but Rebecca Harrell shines. Filmed on location in freezing, snowy weather, this film is a treat for those who love Christmas. Home Alone (1990). Eight-year-old Kevin, accidentally left behind at home when his family flies to Paris for Christmas, thinks he’s got it made. Hijinks ensue when two burglars match their wits against his. A funny, tender tribute to childhood and the bonds of family. Elf (2003). Another modern classic with a lot of heart. Buddy, played to the hilt by Will Ferrell, is a human who was raised by elves at the North Pole. Determined to find his birth father, Buddy travels to the Big Apple and spreads his Christmas cheer to everyone he meets. This film has it all: Santa, elves, family problems, humor, emotion and above all else, a large dose of the Christmas spirit. One of the best Christmas movies ever made. The Christmas Chronicles (2018). The story of a sister and brother, Kate and Teddy Pierce, whose Christmas Eve plan to catch Santa Claus on camera turns into an unexpected journey that most kids could only dream about. Kurt Russell’s star turn as Santa makes for movie magic. Now for the music. Out of the hundreds of Christmas albums I’ve listened to over the years, the following, covering a broad range of musical styles, moods and tastes, each in its own way perfectly captures the essence of Christmas for me. It’s Christmas (EMI, 1989): 18 great songs, ranging from John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” The real treats on this album are Greg Lake’s “I Believe in Father Christmas,” Kate Bush’s “December Will Be Magic Again” and Aled Jones’ “Walking in the Air.” Christmas Guitar (Rounder, 1986): 28 beautifully done traditional Christmas songs by master guitarist John Fahey. Hearing Fahey’s guitar strings plucking out “Joy to the World,” “Good King Wenceslas,” “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,” among others, is a sublime experience. Christmas Is A Special Day (The Right Stuff, 1993): 12 fine songs by Fats Domino, the great Fifties rocker, ranging from “Amazing Grace” to “Jingle Bells.” The title song, written by Domino himself, is a real treat. No one has ever played the piano keys like Fats. Christmas Island (August/Private Music, 1989): “Frosty the Snowman” will never sound the same after you hear Leon Redbone and Dr. John do their duet. Neither will “Christmas Island” or “Toyland” on this collection of 11 traditional and rather offbeat songs. A Holiday Celebration (Gold Castle, 1988): The classic folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary, backed by the New York Choral Society, sing traditional and nontraditional holiday fare on 12 beautifully orchestrated songs. Included are “I Wonder as I Wander,” “Children Go Where I Send Thee,” and “The Cherry Tree Carol.” Also thrown in is Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.” The Christmas Album (Columbia, 1992): Neil Diamond sings 14 songs, ranging from “Silent Night” to “Jingle Bell Rock” to “The Christmas Song” to “Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Diamond also gives us a great rendition of Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” A delightful album. A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy, 1988): 12 traditional Christmas songs by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. The pianist extraordinaire and his trio perform “O Tannenbaum,” “The Christmas Song” and “Greensleeves.” Also included is the Charlie Brown Christmas theme. The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (Fuel Records, 2003): If you like deep-rooted traditional holiday songs, you’ll love this album. The 16 songs range from “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” to Ian Anderson originals such as “Another Christmas Song” and “Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.” With Anderson on flute and vocals, this album has an old world flavor that will have you wanting mince pie and plum pudding. A Twisted Christmas (Razor Tie, 2006): Twisted Sister, the heavy metal group, knocks the socks off a bevy of traditional and pop Christmas songs. Dee Snider’s amazing vocals brings to life “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” “Deck the Halls,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” among others—including “Heavy Metal Christmas (The Twelve Days of Christmas).” Great fun and a great band. Songs for Christmas (Asthmatic Kitty, 2006): In 2001, independent singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens set out to create a Christmas gift through songs for his friends and family. It eventually grew to a 5-CD box set, which includes Stevens’ original take on such standards as “Amazing Grace” and “We Three Kings” and some inventive yuletide creations of his own. A lot of fun. Before you know it, Christmas will be a distant memory and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming of “us vs. them” politics, war, violence, materialism and mayhem. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, there may not be much we can do to avoid the dismal reality of the American police state in the long term—not so long as the powers-that-be allow profit margins to take precedence over people—but in the short term, I hope you’ll do your part to “spread a smile of joy” and “throw your arms around the world at Christmastime.” As you celebrate the season, take to heart the closing sermon in The Bishop’s Wife: “Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts… We forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that. Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.”—The Bishop’s Wife (1947) Tyler Durden Fri, 12/24/2021 - 18:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 24th, 2021

4 Health Insurers Poised to Maintain Winning Streak in 2022

Buoyed by government support and technological improvements, stocks in the health insurance industry are likely to witness increased product demand. UNH, ANTM, CNC & MOH are well positioned to make the most of the market improvement. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on different business sectors. The health insurance industry was not left unscathed by its adverse impact. Nonetheless, looking back at 2021, we see that the companies in this industry have been bouncing back, thanks to rising enrolment, product modifications, improved services and cost management, better claims handling, technological upgrades, and many more strategic initiatives. In fact, government aids and better pricing helped health insurers to rise above the losses incurred on several occasions.Now let’s see how the industry is performing.HMOs OutperformingStocks of the health insurance industry, more popularly called Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), have been recovering at an impressive rate. Bullish investor sentiments regarding this industry are evident. In the past six months, the HMO industry has jumped 18.3% compared with an 8.8% increase of the S&P 500 Index and a 9.4% decline of the overall medical sector.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchThe industry is not only expected to retain the momentum but also turn up the heat in 2022. Support from the government is expected to play a crucial role going forward.Continued Government SupportThe government’s backing of the Affordable Care Act is one of the major positives for the health insurers and acts as the bedrock for the industry. It is bringing more Americans under the health insurance coverage, in turn buoying health insurers’ top line. The Special Open Enrollment window has given Americans another chance to buy insurance coverage online on health exchanges, leading to membership growth. Looking ahead, moves like lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60 from 65 through the Improving Medicare Coverage Act can expand Medicare to more than 23 million people. This will likely result in more business wins for health insurers, indicating a long-term boon for the industry.Importantly, Medicare and Medicaid — the government-sponsored programs for the retiring population and underprivileged — have been in great demand for a while now among a huge population of baby boomers nearing retirement age. Both these schemes saw growing participation of health insurance companies as states reach out to them to effectively manage the expenses of these plans.Other Major Growth DriversThe pandemic fueled the adoption of telehealth facilities in 2020 and 2021. Remote healthcare has become a safe and efficient way for medical assistance in the current scenario. The year 2022 is expected to see further improvement of technologies and new innovations, which will support the greater adoption of telehealth services. Hence, we expect to see more investment in telehealth infrastructure. This is expected to bring about a positive impact on health insurers. In fact, several companies are enhancing their virtual healthcare services and offerings to aid their members.Technological improvements are expected to accelerate the usage of chatbots and AI-based voice, assistants, augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality, mobile-based apps, robots, and cloud computing, among others. This should optimize healthcare delivery and workflow, minimize unnecessary costs, enhance operational efficiency as well as boost customer experience. Insurers who can bridge the physical-virtual chasm will be the frontrunners in the industry.The pandemic forced the companies to reduce expenses through cost-cutting measures and optimizing their portfolios. This not only positively impacted the bottom line but also led to better usage of available capital. We expected the trend to continue in 2022 as well, which will increase the profit levels and generate more cash from operations.4 Stocks on the WatchlistThe overall bullish scenario is expected to result in consistent growth of the industry, which should drive the prospects of the companies with strong business fundamentals. Considering their operational strength, we have selected four health insurance stocks with the help of the Zacks Stock Screener that have gained more than 20% year to date and are well poised to keep the momentum alive in 2022. These stocks currently carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Their estimates have seen northward revisions for 2022.You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.UnitedHealth Group Incorporated UNH: Its shares have jumped 37.9% in the year-to-date period. A strong market position and an attractive core business that continues to be driven by new deals, renewed agreements, and expansion of service offerings should help it retain the momentum. Its expansion of the health services segment and the international business provides significant diversification benefits and shields it from stringent regulations in the United States.UnitedHealth’s health service business, branded as Optum, is becoming increasingly valuable. It is also crucial to the company’s diversification strategy. The primary growth drivers for Optum are pharmacy care services, care delivery, technology, government services and international. UNH expects 2022 revenues in the $317-$320 billion range, indicating an increase from the 2021 estimated figure of $287 billion. This will be the first time for the company to cross the $300-billion revenue mark in a year. Its moves of combining the insurance unit with the provision of medical care business bode well. Also, for 2022, UnitedHealth expects operating cash flows within $23-$24 billion.Lower operating costs are expected to boost its bottom line in 2022. It boasts a strong earnings surprise history. UnitedHealth beat earnings estimates in all the last four quarters, with the average being 8.7%.UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Price and EPS Surprise UnitedHealth Group Incorporated price-eps-surprise | UnitedHealth Group Incorporated QuoteAnthem, Inc. ANTM: Its shares have risen 36.9% year to date. Anthem’s top-line improvement remains impressive, witnessing a four-year CAGR of 9% (2015-2020). We expect the favorable top-line trend to continue, given its strong business growth, membership hike and significant new contracts in the government business. Several contract wins and organic growth are expected to keep driving Anthem’s membership, in turn boosting the top line.Strategic buyouts and collaborations along with the company’s expanded product portfolio should drive long-term growth. This June, ANTM completed the purchase of Puerto Rico-based subsidiaries including MMM Holdings from InnovaCare Health. Also, this November, Anthem agreed to acquire Integra Managed Care to expand the Medicaid business. Anthem was awarded a contract to serve the retirees in New York in partnership with Emblem Health. All these initiatives bode well for the company.Anthem’s bottom line for 2022 is expected to grow 10.1% year over year. It beat earnings estimates thrice in the last four quarters and missed once, with an average surprise of 4.7%.Anthem, Inc. Price and EPS Surprise Anthem, Inc. price-eps-surprise | Anthem, Inc. QuoteCentene Corporation CNC: It has surged 37.3% in the year-to-date period. Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, Centene's leading position in the industry is largely supported by its prudent operating performance, strong inorganic growth and solid fundamentals. Medical membership of the company has been rising over the last several quarters due to contract wins and expansion across different regions. We expect this trend to continue on the back of certain contract wins.Centene anticipates the broadening of its Medicare Advantage offerings in 2022. The leading health insurance company is expected to provide a wide array of Medicare Advantage plans in 1,575 counties across 36 states during the 2022 Medicare Annual Enrollment Period. Centene expects total revenues for 2022 in the range of $135.9-$137.9 billion. Adjusted earnings per share are expected within $5.30-$5.50. The adjusted SG&A expense ratio for 2021 is expected within 8.2-8.6% and decline to 7.8-8.3% in 2022.Further, Centene expects to record adjusted earnings of $7.50-$7.75 per share for 2024, thanks to business expansion and optimization. CNC expects the health benefits ratio for 2022 within 87.6-88.2%. Capital expenditure for 2022 is expected to be $1 billion. A solid guidance instills investors’ confidence in the stock. It beat earnings estimates once in the last four quarters and missed thrice.Centene Corporation Price and EPS Surprise Centene Corporation price-eps-surprise | Centene Corporation QuoteMolina Healthcare, Inc. MOH: The stock has gained 40.6% to date this year. It has been gaining from the restructuring and profitability improvement plan. The plan included streamlining of the organizational structure to improve efficiency, speed and quality of decision making. Prudent cost-management efforts and sound scalability of the business are expected to result in a decline in the adjusted G&A ratio.Molina Healthcare’s membership is growing fast, thanks to well-performing Medicare, Medicaid and Marketplace businesses. We expect the same to rise on the back of contract wins and strategic initiatives. Various buyouts, such as that of YourCare, are leading to membership growth for the company.Headquartered in Long Beach, CA, Molina Healthcare’s bottom line is expected to grow 27.3% year over year. The company has witnessed four upward estimate revisions in the past 60 days against no movement in the opposite direction. In the last four reported quarters, MOH beat earnings estimates twice and missed on the other two occasions, with the average surprise being 4%.Molina Healthcare, Inc Price and EPS Surprise Molina Healthcare, Inc price-eps-surprise | Molina Healthcare, Inc QuoteWant the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (UNH): Free Stock Analysis Report Molina Healthcare, Inc (MOH): Free Stock Analysis Report Centene Corporation (CNC): Free Stock Analysis Report Anthem, Inc. (ANTM): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 21st, 2021

19 of the best romance novels of 2021, according to Goodreads

This year's best romance novels include "People We Meet on Vacation," "One Last Stop," and "The Ex Hex," according to Goodreads members. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.This year's best romance novels include "People We Meet on Vacation," "One Last Stop," and "The Ex Hex," according to Goodreads members.Amazon; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderWhen you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Romance novels delight readers with heartfelt love stories and hilarious rom-coms. We used Goodreads to rank the best romance novels released in 2021. Readers loved "People We Meet on Vacation" and "One Last Stop" the most. It's hard to resist the easy and fun reading experience a great romance read offers. With plenty of fun tropes like enemies-to-lovers or grumpy-sunshine, there's a love story out there to delight even the most cynical reader. In 2021, incredible romance novels continued to dazzle readers with unique plotlines, authentic characters, and sweet (or steamy!) love. To make this list, we turned to the most popular titles among Goodreads reviewers. On Goodreads, over 125 million readers rate, review, and share their favorite books. From complicated summer flings to fake dating schemes that turn into true love, here are the most popular romance novels from 2021, according to Goodreads reviewers. The 19 best romance novels from 2021:"People We Meet on Vacation" by Emily HenryAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.98Alex and Poppy may have little in common, but they used to be best friends, brought together over a college road trip more than 10 years ago. While they used to celebrate their friendship by taking a trip together every summer, everything changed between them two years ago and they haven't spoken since. Now, Poppy needs her friend back and decides to convince Alex to take one last trip with her to make everything right again."One Last Stop" by Casey McQuistonAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.63From the author of the fan-favorite "Red, White & Royal Blue," "One Last Stop" is about August, a cynical young woman who has just moved to New York City when she meets a gorgeous girl named Jane on the Q train. When August keeps seeing Jane in the same car on the same train at all hours of the day, she realizes Jane is stuck there by some strange magic, displaced from the 1970s, and needs help getting back."The Ex Hex" by Erin SterlingAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.71Adored as a perfect Halloween romance, "The Ex Hex" is about Vivi Jones, a young witch who cast what she thought was a harmless spell on her ex-boyfriend nine years ago. Now, Rhys has returned to their Georgia town, bringing a string of cursed misfortune with him and the two must work together to save their town and break the curse before something terribly irreversible happens."How to Fail at Flirting" by Denise WilliamsBookshopAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.72Authentic and heartfelt, this romance read takes off when Naya Turner's friends convince her to try an uncharacteristic one-night stand to distract her from terrible work news. When she meets a charming stranger named Jake, the two immediately hit it off until Jake's complicated ties to her job and trauma from Naya's past relationship make it difficult to fall into a new man. "The Soulmate Equation" by Christina LaurenAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.98Jess Davis is a single mom who has had a challenging life full of fleeting romantic and familial relationships and had all but given up when she heard about a DNA-based matchmaking company. Willing to give it a shot, Jess is matched with the company's founder and agrees to date the stubborn and stuck-up Dr. Pena when the company offers to pay her."Neon Gods" by Katee RobertAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.92This fantastical, mythological romance is about the goddess Persephone, who flees to the underworld when her mother forces an engagement to Zeus upon her. Though she believed him to be a myth, Hades sees the chance to exact his own revenge through Persephone until he finds himself getting more and more entangled in her beauty in this sweet and steamy romantic retelling."It Happened One Summer" by Tessa BaileyAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.71When Piper's reckless lifestyle lands her in jail, her stepfather decides to send her and her sister to Washington to run their late father's dive bar. Determined to show her father she can be responsible, Piper begins to reconnect with her past (and with a fascinating fisherman) as the small beach town slowly but surely captures her heart."Act Your Age, Eve Brown" by Talia HibbertBookshopAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.60"Act Your Age, Eve Brown" is the final book in the Brown sisters series, each a wonderful and steamy romance loved by readers for their unique and realistic characters. In this romance, chaotic Eve Brown collides with type-A Jacob Wayne when she interviews for a job at his B&B and then accidentally hits him with her car. Stuck in close quarters at the B&B, Jacob and Eve start out as enemies until the air between them shifts to something more."Life's Too Short" by Abby JimenezAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.71Vanessa Prince has been determined to live life to the fullest by traveling the globe since her mother died before the age of 30. But when her half-sister leaves her in custody of her infant niece, Vanessa is lost and slightly panicked — until her hot next-door neighbor offers to help and shows her the hope that still lies ahead in her future."The Dating Plan" by Sara DesaiGoodreadsAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.72Daisy Patel is a logic-driven, successful software engineer whose family won't stop trying to set her up in an arranged marriage. Cornered, she asks her childhood crush, Liam Murphy, to be her decoy fiancé. With an incoming inheritance contingent upon being married, Liam agrees and the two begin to fake date to legitimize their fake engagement until real feelings and past hurts begin to emerge, threatening to ruin everything."The Ex Talk" by Rachel Lynn SolomonAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.99Shay Goldstein has been a public radio producer for over 10 years. So when Dominic Yun, cocky and freshly graduated with a master's degree gets hired, the two immediately clash. When Shay proposes an idea for the show called "The Ex Talk," where two exes will offer live advice, their boss decides Shay and Dominic are perfect to host, certain their natural hate for each other will disguise the fact that they've never dated."Seven Days in June" by Tia WilliamsAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $24.8420 years ago, now-writers Eva and Shane spent a week falling madly in love and never saw each other again. When they meet once again at a literary event, the two reconnect over shared memories, past pain, and a still undeniable connection."The Charm Offensive" by Alison CochrunAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.30Dev Deshpande is the host of a "Bachelor"-style reality TV show called "Ever After," carefully crafting love stories for the contestants despite his own lack of romantic prospects. When the disgraced Charlie Winshaw, looking to rehabilitate his image, is cast as the new star, he struggles to find a connection with any of the female contestants yet can't deny the chemistry he has with Dev in this beloved Queer rom-com that also addresses serious issues like mental health. "The Spanish Love Deception" by Elena ArmasAmazonAvailable on Amazon, from $16Needing to find a boyfriend to bring to her sister's wedding in Spain, Catalina Martín absolutely does not want to say yes to her pain-in-the-butt (but undeniably gorgeous) colleague, Aaron Blackford. Readers love this enemies-to-lovers/fake-dating romance for its perfect pacing, incredible characters, and the swoon-worthy chemistry between Catalina and Aaron."The Love Hypothesis" by Ali HazelwoodAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.28Though this book was just published in September, this fake-relationship romance quickly rose in popularity amongst Goodreads reviewers with 89% of readers rating it four or five stars. This buzzy romance is about Olive Smith, a third-year Ph.D. candidate who tries to convince her best friend she's dating someone by kissing the first man she sees, who just happens to be a young professor named Adam Carlsen. Agreeing to fake date each other, the two grow closer when a disaster threatens Olive's career in this nerdy and adorable romance read."While We Were Dating" by Jasmine GuilloryBookshopAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.72When advertising specialist Ben Stephens and movie star Anna Gardiner end up on the same ad campaign set, their innocent flirting turns serious when Ben helps Anna in a family emergency. In this rom-com full of charm, Ben and Anna get an opportunity to date for the spotlight, complicating their real-life feelings for each other."Shipped" by Angie HockmanAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.78When career-driven and dedicated cruise line marketing manager Henley Evans is shortlisted for a promotion along with her arch-nemesis, Graeme Crawford-Collins, the two must draft a proposal that will boost their company's Galápagos bookings. Forced to go on a cruise together, the thick loathing between the two slowly erodes as they explore the beautiful islands in this enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy."The Heart Principle" by Helen HoangAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $23.92Anna Sun is struggling with burnout after a video of her playing violin goes viral and her boyfriend asks for an open relationship so he can decide if he wants to make a commitment to her. Hurt, Anna sets out to have a string of meaningless one-night stands when she meets Quan Diep, with whom she fails at a one-night stand but finds something else with in this raw and real romance."The Road Trip" by Beth O'LearyAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.64Shortly after setting off on a sisterly road trip to a friend's wedding, Addie and Deb are rear-ended by Addie's insufferable ex, Dylan, and his friend, who are headed to the same wedding. With Dylan's car totaled, Addie offers them a ride and the two can't help but dig up their messy shared history over the 300-mile trip.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 21st, 2021

Cadence (CDNS) Clarity 3D Solver Adopted by Butterfly Network

Cadence Design Systems' (CDNS) Clarity 3D Solver offering is being utilized by Butterfly Network to improve the design of its ultrasound system. Cadence Design Systems’ CDNS Clarity 3D Solver offering is being utilized by Butterfly Network to improve the design of its advanced handheld whole-body ultrasound system.Cadence’s Clarity 3D Solver is a 3D electromagnetic simulation software solution. It is designed to aid engineers to overcome electromagnetic challenges while designing systems for automotive, 5G, high-performance computing and machine-learning applications. The solution is up to 10 times faster when compared with legacy 3D field solvers and can maintain gold-standard accuracy, noted Cadence.Cadence stated that Butterfly Network has been able to attain five times increased speed in advanced model characterization (gold-standard accuracy) compared with other similar solutions.Clarity 3D Solver is also helping Butterfly Network to safeguard the critical signal and power integrity of the systems. This will help to quickly relay high-quality ultrasound images to the connected smart device, added Cadence.Cadence Design Systems, Inc. Price and Consensus  Cadence Design Systems, Inc. price-consensus-chart | Cadence Design Systems, Inc. Quote Robust Product Portfolio to Drive GrowthCadence’s top-line performance is being driven by a robust product portfolio that includes solutions like Cadence Cerebrus Intelligent Chip Explorer, Spectre X, Virtuoso, Clarity 3D Transient Solver, Sigrity-X, Helium Virtual and Hybrid Studio, Xclelium Logic Simulation, Palladium Enterprise Emulation and Protium Enterprise Prototyping, among others.Cadence is witnessing strong demand for its software — particularly verification and digital design products —  from customers providing datacenter servers, networking products and smartphones that continue to invest in new design concepts and projects.Increasing investments in emerging trends like Internet-of-things (IoT), augmented and virtual reality and autonomous vehicle sub-systems present a big revenue growth opportunity for the company in the long haul.Cadence continues to roll out new products to meet customer requirements. , The company recently unveiled Cadence Integrity 3D-IC platform within the System Analysis and Design portfolio. The platform combines 3D design planning, implementation and system analysis in a single cockpit. It can be used for 5G communications, hyperscale computing, mobile and automotive applications.In October 2021, Cadence rolled out Cadence Tensilica HiFi 1 DSP solution. It is designed to boost user experience by enhancing audio/voice functionality for small battery-powered devices like hearing aids, Bluetooth headsets, smartwatches and other similar wearables.This rapid uptake of the company’s products instils confidence in the stock. Shares of Cadence have surged 40.4% in the past year compared with the industry’s rally of 39.5%.Zacks Rank & Stocks to ConsiderAt present, Cadence currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).Some better-ranked stocks in the broader technology sector include Arrow Electronics ARW, Cirrus Logic CRUS and Alphabet GOOGL. While Alphabet and Cirrus Logic sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Arrow Electronics carries a Zacks Rank #2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.For Arrow Electronics, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 earnings is pegged at $14.60 per share, up 8.1% in the past 60 days. The long-term earnings growth rate of the company is pegged at 27.4%.Arrow Electronics’ earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the preceding four quarters, the average surprise being 18.6%. Shares of the company have rallied 27.7% year to date.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Cirrus Logic's fiscal 2022 earnings is pegged at $5.37 per share, up 7.6% in the past 60 days. The long-term earnings growth rate of the company is pegged at 9.3%.Cirrus Logics’ earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the preceding four quarters, the average surprise being 14.9%. Shares of the company have rallied 10.6% year to date.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Alphabet’s 2021 earnings is pegged at $108.29 per share, up 6.3% in the past 60 days. The long-term earnings growth rate of the company is pegged at 25.8%.Alphabet’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the preceding four quarters, the average surprise being 41.5%. Shares of the company have rallied 64.2% year to date. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Arrow Electronics, Inc. (ARW): Free Stock Analysis Report Cadence Design Systems, Inc. (CDNS): Free Stock Analysis Report Cirrus Logic, Inc. (CRUS): Free Stock Analysis Report Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 15th, 2021

GoPro (GPRO) Expects to Record Solid Sales in Holiday Season

Much of GoPro's (GPRO) renewed optimism regarding healthy holiday revenues is driven by the solid traction in GoPro Plus subscription service and uptrend in the premium category sales. GoPro, Inc. GPRO expects to ring in the upcoming holiday season with solid sales undeterred by the coronavirus-induced adversities and chip shortages due to supply-chain disruptions. Backed by a direct-to-consumer and subscription-centric strategy, the company expects to generate healthy revenues during this period. This growth momentum is likely to continue in 2022 as well.GoPro revealed that it has collaborated with its suppliers to ensure an uninterrupted supply of essential raw materials. This, in turn, is likely to safeguard a steady flow of replenished items in the retail stores and online shopping platforms. The company has witnessed an uptrend in the premium category sales, with approximately 98% of about 800,000 cameras sold in the third quarter being above the $300 price tag. The new Hero10 Black camera is also selling incredibly well despite a high price of $499.Much of the renewed optimism regarding healthy holiday revenues is driven by the solid traction in GoPro Plus subscription service that offers unlimited original quality cloud storage of GoPro footage, no-questions-asked camera replacement and discounts on various mounts and accessories.In addition, the company is developing various types of software solutions and hardware to curtail the complexity of managing, editing and sharing content on different media platforms. GoPro’s app Quik enables users to instantly edit their GoPro footage on their phones and create short videos for networking sites. The company also launched QuikStories, a new GoPro App feature that automatically copies footage to create a ready-to-share video. Additionally, the company is marketing the combined GoPro and smartphone experience to its existing community, which is focused on out-of-home, paid search and rich media, OTT (over-the-top) videos designed to funnel conversions. These initiatives will likely go a long way toward opening GoPro to a broader audience and expanding its user base.Moreover, GoPro intends to transform itself from the ‘camera maker’ to ‘content maker’ and has taken proactive steps to solidify its position in the burgeoning virtual reality (VR) market. Its products seem well-positioned to dominate the trending VR market. GoPro has also been focusing on offering its immersive imagery video experience to millions of people worldwide through its GoPro Channel. It has been diligently working toward spreading its popularity across the spectrum through concentrated and successful marketing efforts. At the same, it is making investments in merchandising and retail advertising to drive a more significant brand presence while continuing to innovate. It intends to expand its footprint in emerging markets like India and remains focused on scaling its CRM (customer relationship management) efforts to augment its customer base.Over the past year, the stock has gained 26.4% compared with the industry’s rise of 21%. We remain impressed with the inherent growth potential of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchA better-ranked stock in the industry is Sonos, Inc. SONO, sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Sono has a long-term earnings growth expectation of 17%. It delivered an earnings surprise of 177.9%, on average, in the trailing four quarters.Clearfield, Inc. CLFD sports a Zacks Rank #1. It delivered an earnings surprise of 50.8%, on average, in the trailing four quarters.Earnings estimates for the current year for the stock have moved up 68.2% since January 2021. Over the past year, Clearfield has gained a solid 168.1%.Sierra Wireless, Inc. SWIR carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). It has a long-term earnings growth expectation of 12.5% and delivered an earnings surprise of 34.2%, on average, in the trailing four quarters.Over the past year, Sierra Wireless has gained 9.4%. The company continues to launch innovative products for business-critical operations that require high security and optimum 5G performance. Zacks' Top Picks to Cash in on Artificial Intelligence In 2021, this world-changing technology is projected to generate $327.5 billion in revenue. Now Shark Tank star and billionaire investor Mark Cuban says AI will create "the world's first trillionaires." Zacks' urgent special report reveals 3 AI picks investors need to know about today.See 3 Artificial Intelligence Stocks With Extreme Upside Potential>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Sierra Wireless, Inc. (SWIR): Free Stock Analysis Report GoPro, Inc. (GPRO): Free Stock Analysis Report Sonos, Inc. (SONO): Free Stock Analysis Report Clearfield, Inc. (CLFD): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 3rd, 2021

Risk Cracks After Moderna CEO Comments Spark Global Stock Rout

Risk Cracks After Moderna CEO Comments Spark Global Stock Rout Ask a drug dealer if methadone helps cure a cocaine addition and - shockingly - you will hear that the answer is "hell no", after all an affirmative response would mean the fixer needs to get a real job. Just as shocking was the "admission" of Moderna CEO, Stéphane Bancel, who in the latest stop on his media whirlwind tour of the past 48 hours gave the FT an interview in which he predicted that existing vaccines will be much less effective at tackling Omicron than earlier strains of coronavirus and warned it would take months before pharmaceutical companies could manufacture new variant-specific jabs at scale. “There is no world, I think, where [the effectiveness] is the same level . . . we had with [the] Delta [variant],” Bancel told the Financial Times, claiming that the high number of Omicron mutations on the spike protein, which the virus uses to infect human cells, and the rapid spread of the variant in South Africa suggested that the current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year. Here, the self-serving CEO whose sell-mode was fully engaged - after all what else would the maker of a vaccine for covid say than "yes, the world will need more of my product" - completely ignored the earlier comments from Barry Schoub, chairman of South Afruca's Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, who over the weekend said that the large number of mutations found in the omicron variant appears to destabilize the virus, which might make it less “fit” than the dominant delta strain. As such, it would be a far less virulent strain... but of course that would also reduce the need for Moderna's mRNA therapy and so Bancel failed to mention it. What is grotesque is that the Moderna CEO’s comments on existing vaccines’ effectiveness against the omicron variant is “old news so should be a fade,” says Prashant Newnaha, a senior Asia-Pacific rates strategist at TD Securities in Singapore. Indeed as Bloomberg notes, Bancel reiterated comments made by Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton during the weekend. Alas, the last thing algos care about is nuance and/or reading between the lines, and so moments after Bancel's interview hit, markets hit risk off mode on Tuesday, and yesterday’s bounce in markets immediately reversed amid fresh worries about the efficacy of currently available vaccines with U.S. equity futures dropping along with stocks in Europe. Bonds gained as investors sought havens. After dropping as much as 1.2%, S&P futures pared losses to -0.7%, down 37 points just above 4,600. Dow Eminis were down 339 points or 1% and Nasdaq was down -0.8%. Adding to concerns is Fed Chair Jerome Powell who today will speak, alongside Janet Yellen, at the Senate Banking Committee in congressional oversight hearings related to pandemic stimulus. Last night Powell made a dovish pivot saying the new variant poses downside risks to employment and growth while adding to uncertainty about inflation. Powell's comments dragged yields lower and hit bank stocks overnight. “The market’s reaction to reports such as Moderna’s suggest the ball is still very much in the court of proving that this will not escalate,” said Patrick Bennett, head of macro strategy for Asia at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Hong Kong. “Until that time, mode is to sell recoveries in risk and not to try and pick the extent of the selloff” U.S. airline and cruiseliner stocks dropped in premarket trading Tuesday, after vaccine maker Moderna’s top executives reiterated that the omicron variant of the coronavirus may require new vaccines. Most U.S. airline stocks were down: Alaska Air -5%, United -3.2%, American -3%, Spirit -2.7%, Delta -2.6%, JetBlue -2.6%, Southwest -1.7%. Here are some other notable movers today: U.S. banks decline in premarket trading following comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that may push back bets on when the central bank will raise rates. Citigroup (C US) -2.4%, JPMorgan (JPM US) -2.2%, Morgan Stanley (MS US) -2.6% Vaccine manufacturers mixed in U.S. premarket trading after rallying in recent days and following further comments from Moderna about treating the new omicron Covid-19 variant. Pfizer (PFE US) +1.6%, Novavax  (NVAS US) +1.3%, Moderna (MRNA US) -3.8% U.S. airline and cruiseliner stocks dropped in premarket trading Tuesday, after vaccine maker Moderna’s top executives reiterated that the omicron variant of the coronavirus may require new vaccines. Alaska Air (ALK US) -5%, United (UAL US) -3.2%, American (AAL US) -3% Krystal Biotech (KRYS US) jumped 4.3% in postmarket trading on Monday, extending gains after a 122% jump during the regular session. The company is offering $200m of shares via Goldman Sachs, BofA, Cowen, William Blair, according to a postmarket statement MEI Pharma (MEIP US) gained 8% postmarket after the cancer-treatment company said it will hold a webcast Tuesday to report on data from the ongoing Phase 2 Tidal study evaluating zandelisib in patients with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma Intuit (INTU US) declined 3.4% postmarket after holder Dan Kurzius, co-founder of Mailchimp, offered the stake via Goldman Sachs In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index fell to almost a seven-week low. Cyclical sectors including retail, travel and carmakers were among the biggest decliners, while energy stocks tumbled as crude oil headed for the worst monthly loss this year; every industry sector fell led by travel stocks. Earlier in the session, the Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.6% while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index lost 1.5% to finish at its weakest level since May 2016. Asian stocks erased early gains to head for a third day of losses on fresh concerns that existing Covid-19 vaccines will be less effective at tackling the omicron variant. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index extended its fall to nearly 1% after having risen as much as 0.8% earlier on Tuesday. The current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year, Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said in an interview with the Financial Times, adding that it may take months before pharmaceutical firms can manufacture new variant-specific jabs at scale. U.S. futures also reversed gains. Property and consumer staples were the worst-performing sectors on the regional benchmark. Key gauges in Hong Kong and South Korea were the biggest losers in Asia, with the Kospi index erasing all of its gains for this year. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index lost 1.5% to finish at its weakest level since May 2016. The fresh bout of selling offset early optimism spurred by data showing China’s factory sentiment improved in November. “With the slower vaccination rate and more limited health-care capacity in the region, uncertainty from the new omicron variant may seem to bring about higher economic risks for the region at a time where it is shifting towards further reopening,” said Jun Rong Yeap, a market strategist at IG Asia Pte. Asia’s stock benchmark is now down 3.5% for the month, set for its worst performance since July, as nervousness remains over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s tapering schedule and the potential economic impact of the omicron variant. “Moderna is one of the primary mRNA vaccines out there, so the risk-off sentiment is justified,” said Kelvin Wong, an analyst at CMC Markets (Singapore) Pte. Liquidity is thinner going into the end of the year, so investors are “thinking it’s wise to take some money off the table,” he added Japanese equities fell, reversing an earlier gain to cap their third-straight daily loss, after a report cast doubt on hopes for a quick answer to the omicron variant of the coronavirus. Telecoms and electronics makers were the biggest drags on the Topix, which dropped 1%, erasing an earlier gain of as much as 1.5%. Fast Retailing and SoftBank Group were the largest contributors to a 1.6% loss in the Nikkei 225. The yen strengthened about 0.4% against the dollar, reversing an earlier loss. Japanese stocks advanced earlier in the day, following U.S. peers higher as a relative sense of calm returned to global markets. Tokyo share gains reversed quickly in late afternoon trading after a Financial Times report that Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said a new vaccine may be needed to fight omicron. “The report of Moderna CEO’s remarks has bolstered an overall movement toward taking off risk,” said SMBC Trust Bank analyst Masahiro Yamaguchi. “Market participants will probably be analyzing information on vaccines and the new virus variant for the next couple of weeks, so shares will likely continue to fluctuate on these headlines.” In FX, the dollar dropped alongside commodity-linked currencies while the yen and gold climbed and bitcoin surged as safe havens were bid. The yen swung to a gain after Moderna Inc.’s chief executive Stephane Bancel was quoted by the Financial Times saying existing vaccines may not be effective enough to tackle the omicron variant. Commodity-linked currencies including the Aussie, kiwi and Norwegian krone all declined, underperforming the dollar In rates, treasuries held gains after flight-to-quality rally extended during Asia session and European morning, when bunds and gilts also benefited from haven flows. Stocks fell after Moderna CEO predicted waning vaccine efficacy. Intermediates lead gains, with yields richer by nearly 6bp across 7-year sector; 10-year Treasuries are richer by 5.6bp at 1.443%, vs 2.5bp for German 10-year, 4.7bp for U.K. Long-end may draw support from potential for month-end buying; Bloomberg Treasury index rebalancing was projected to extend duration by 0.11yr as of Nov. 22. Expectations of month-end flows may support the market, and Fed Chair Powell is slated to testify to a Senate panel.       In commodities, crude futures are off their late-Asia lows but remain in the red. WTI trades close to $68.30, stalling near Friday’s lows; Brent is off over 2.5% near $71.50. Spot gold rises ~$11 near $1,796/oz. Base metals are mixed: LME zinc outperforms, rising as much as 1.6%.  To the day ahead now, and the main central bank highlight will be Fed Chair Powell’s appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, alongside Treasury Secretary Yellen. In addition, we’ll hear from Fed Vice Chair Clarida, the Fed’s Williams, the ECB’s Villeroy and de Cos, and the BoE’s Mann. On the data side, we’ll get the flash November CPI reading for the Euro Area today, as well as the readings from France and Italy. In addition, there’s data on German unemployment for November, Canadian GDP for Q3, whilst in the US there’s the Conference Board’s consumer confidence measure for November, the FHFA house price index for September, and the MNI Chicago PMI for November. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 1.2% to 4,595.00 STOXX Europe 600 down 1.4% to 460.47 MXAP down 0.5% to 190.51 MXAPJ down 0.6% to 620.60 Nikkei down 1.6% to 27,821.76 Topix down 1.0% to 1,928.35 Hang Seng Index down 1.6% to 23,475.26 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,563.89 Sensex down 0.2% to 57,122.74 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.2% to 7,255.97 Kospi down 2.4% to 2,839.01 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.36% Euro up 0.6% to $1.1362 Brent Futures down 3.0% to $71.26/bbl Brent Futures down 3.0% to $71.26/bbl Gold spot up 0.7% to $1,796.41 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.65% to 95.72 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Euro-area inflation surged to a record for the era of the single currency and exceeded all forecasts, adding to the European Central Bank’s challenge before a crucial meeting next month on the future of monetary stimulus. If the drop in government bond yields on Friday signaled how skittish markets were, fresh declines are leaving them looking no less nervous. One of Germany’s most prominent economists is urging the European Central Bank to be more transparent in outlining its exit from unprecedented monetary stimulus and argues that ruling out an end to negative interest rates next year may be a mistake. The Hong Kong dollar fell into the weak half of its trading band for the first time since December 2019 as the emergence of a new coronavirus variant hurt appetite for risk assets. A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equities traded mixed with early momentum seen following the rebound on Wall Street where risk assets recovered from Friday’s heavy selling pressure as liquidity conditions normalized post-Thanksgiving and after some of the Omicron fears abated given the mild nature in cases so far, while participants also digested a slew of data releases including better than expected Chinese Manufacturing PMI. However, markets were later spooked following comments from Moderna's CEO that existing vaccines will be much less effective against the Omicron variant. ASX 200 (+0.2%) was underpinned by early strength across its sectors aside from utilities and with gold miners also hampered by the recent lacklustre mood in the precious metal which failed to reclaim the USD 1800/oz level but remained in proximity for another attempt. In addition, disappointing Building Approvals and inline Net Exports Contribution data had little impact on sentiment ahead of tomorrow’s Q3 GDP release, although the index then faded most its gains after the comments from Moderna's CEO, while Nikkei 225 (-1.6%) was initially lifted by the recent rebound in USD/JPY but then slumped amid the broad risk aversion late in the session. Hang Seng (-1.6%) and Shanghai Comp. (Unch) were varied in which the mainland was kept afloat for most the session after a surprise expansion in Chinese Manufacturing PMI and a mild liquidity injection by the PBoC, with a central bank-backed publication also suggesting that recent open market operations demonstrates an ample liquidity goal, although Hong Kong underperformed on tech and property losses and with casino names pressured again as shares in junket operator Suncity slumped 37% on reopen from a trading halt in its first opportunity to react to the arrest of its Chairman. Finally, 10yr JGBs were initially contained following early momentum in stocks and somewhat inconclusive 2yr JGB auction which showed better results from the prior, albeit at just a marginal improvement, but then was underpinned on a haven bid after fears of the Omicron variant later resurfaced. Top Asian News China’s Biggest Crypto Exchange Picks Singapore as Asia Base SoftBank-Backed Snapdeal Targets $250 Million IPO in 2022 Omicron Reaches Nations From U.K. to Japan in Widening Spread Slump in China Gas Shows Spreading Impact of Property Slowdown Major European bourses are on the backfoot (Euro Stoxx 50 -1.5%; Stoxx 600 -1.5%) as COVID fears again take the spotlight on month-end. APAC markets were firmer for a large part of the overnight session, but thereafter the risk-off trigger was attributed to comments from Moderna's CEO suggesting that existing vaccines will be much less effective against the Omicron COVID strain. On this, some caveats worth keeping in mind - the commentary on the potential need for a vaccine does come from a vaccine maker, who could benefit from further global inoculation, whilst data on the new variant remains sparse. Meanwhile, WSJ reported Regeneron's and Eli Lilly's COVID antiviral cocktails had lost efficacy vs the Omicron variant - however, the extent to which will need to be subject to further testing. Furthermore, producers appear to be confident that they will be able to adjust their products to accommodate the new variant, albeit the timeline for mass production will not be immediate. Nonetheless, the sullied sentiment has persisted throughout the European morning and has also seeped into US equity futures: the cyclically bias RTY (-1.7%) lags the ES (-1.0%) and YM (-1.3%), whilst the tech-laden NQ (-0.5%) is cushioned by the slump in yields. Back to Europe, broad-based losses are seen across the majors. Sectors tilt defensive but to a lesser extent than seen at the European cash open. Travel & Leisure, Oil & Gas, and Retail all sit at the bottom of the bunch amid the potential implications of the new COVID variant. Tech benefits from the yield play, which subsequently weighs on the Banking sector. The retail sector is also weighed on by Spanish giant Inditex (-4.3%) following a CEO reshuffle. In terms of other movers, Glencore (-0.9%) is softer after Activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners called on the Co. to spin off its coal business and divest non-core assets. In a letter seen by the FT, Glencore was also asked to improve corporate governance. In terms of equity commentary, analysts at JPM suggest investors should take a more nuanced view on reopening as the bank expects post-COVID normalisation to gradually asset itself over the course of 2022. The bank highlights hawkish central bank policy shifts as the main risk to their outlook. Thus, the analysts see European equities outperforming the US, whilst China is seen outpacing EMs. JPM targets S&P 500 at 5,050 (closed at 4,655.27 yesterday) by the end of 2022 with EPS at USD 240 – marking a 14% increase in annual EPS. Top European News Omicron Reaches Nations From U.K. to Japan in Widening Spread ECB Bosses Lack Full Diplomatic Immunity, EU’s Top Court Says Adler Keeps Investors Waiting for Answers on Fraud Claims European Gas Prices Surge Above 100 Euros With Eyes on Russia In FX, the Greenback may well have been grounded amidst rebalancing flows on the final trading day of November, as bank models are flagging a net sell signal, albeit relatively weak aside from vs the Yen per Cit’s index, but renewed Omicron concerns stoked by Moderna’s CEO casting considerable doubt about the efficacy of current vaccines against the new SA strain have pushed the Buck back down in any case. Indeed, the index has now retreated further from its 2021 apex set less than a week ago and through 96.000 to 95.662, with only the Loonie and Swedish Krona underperforming within the basket, and the Antipodean Dollars plus Norwegian Crown in wider G10 circles. Looking at individual pairings, Usd/Jpy has reversed from the high 113.00 area and breached a Fib just below the round number on the way down to circa 112.68 for a marginal new m-t-d low, while Eur/Usd is back above 1.1350 having scaled a Fib at 1.1290 and both have left decent option expiries some distance behind in the process (1.6 bn at 113.80 and 1.3 bn between 1.1250-55 respectively). Elsewhere, Usd/Chf is eyeing 0.9175 irrespective of a slightly weaker than forecast Swiss KoF indicator and Cable has bounced firmly from the low 1.3300 zone towards 1.3375 awaiting commentary from BoE’s Mann. NZD/AUD/CAD - As noted above, the tables have turned for the Kiwi, Aussie and Loonie along with risk sentiment in general, and Nzd/Usd is now pivoting 0.6800 with little help from a deterioration in NBNZ business confidence or a decline in the activity outlook. Similarly, Aud/Usd has been undermined by much weaker than forecast building approvals and a smaller than anticipated current account surplus, but mostly keeping hold of the 0.7100 handle ahead of Q3 GDP and Usd/Cad has shot up from around 1.2730 to top 1.2800 at one stage in advance of Canadian growth data for the prior quarter and month of September as oil recoils (WTI to an even deeper trough only cents off Usd 67/brl). Back down under, 1 bn option expiry interest at 1.0470 in Aud/Nzd could well come into play given that the cross is currently hovering near the base of a 1.0483-39 range. SCANDI/EM - The aforementioned downturn in risk appetite after Monday’s brief revival has hit the Sek and Nok hard, but the latter is also bearing the brunt of Brent’s latest collapse to the brink of Usd 70/brl at worst, while also taking on board that the Norges Bank plans to refrain from foreign currency selling through December having stopped midway through this month. The Rub is also feeling the adverse effect of weaker crude prices and ongoing geopolitical angst to the extent that hawkish CBR rhetoric alluding to aggressive tightening next month is hardly keeping it propped, but the Cnh and Cny continue to defy the odds or gravity in wake of a surprise pop back above 50.0 in China’s official manufacturing PMI. Conversely, the Zar is struggling to contain losses sub-16.0000 vs the Usd on SA virus-related factors even though Gold is approaching Usd 1800/oz again, while the Try is striving to stay within sight of 13.0000 following a slender miss in Turkish Q3 y/y GDP. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are once again under pressure amid the aforementioned COVID jitters threatening the demand side of the equation, albeit the market remains in a state of uncertainty given how little is known about the new variant ahead of the OPEC+ confab. It is still unclear at this point in time which route OPEC+ members will opt for, but seemingly the feasible options on the table are 1) a pause in output hikes, 2) a smaller output hike, 3) maintaining current output hikes. Energy journalists have suggested the group will likely be influenced by oil price action, but nonetheless, the findings of the JTC and JMMC will be closely watched for the group's updated forecasts against the backdrop of COVID and the recently coordinated SPR releases from net oil consumers – a move which the US pledged to repeat if needed. Elsewhere, Iranian nuclear talks were reportedly somewhat constructive – according to the Russian delegate – with working groups set to meet today and tomorrow regarding the sanctions on Iran. This sentiment, however, was not reciprocated by Western sources (cited by WSJ), which suggested there was no clarity yet on whether the teams were ready for serious negotiations and serious concessions. WTI Jan resides around session lows near USD 67.50/bbl (vs high USD 71.22/bbl), while Brent Feb dipped under USD 71/bbl (vs high USD 84.56/bb). Over to metals, spot gold remains underpinned in European trade by the cluster of DMA's under USD 1,800/oz – including the 100 (USD 1,792/oz), 200 (USD 1,791/oz) and 50 (1,790/oz). Turning to base metals, LME copper is modestly softer around the USD 9,500/t mark, whilst Dalian iron ore futures meanwhile rose over 6% overnight, with traders citing increasing Chinese demand. US Event Calendar 9am: 3Q House Price Purchase Index QoQ, prior 4.9% 9am: Sept. FHFA House Price Index MoM, est. 1.2%, prior 1.0% 9am: Sept. Case Shiller Composite-20 YoY, est. 19.30%, prior 19.66%; S&P/CS 20 City MoM SA, est. 1.20%, prior 1.17% 9:45am: Nov. MNI Chicago PMI, est. 67.0, prior 68.4 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Consumer Confidenc, est. 111.0, prior 113.8 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Present Situation, prior 147.4 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Expectations, prior 91.3 Central Banks 10am: Powell, Yellen Testify Before Senate Panel on CARES Act Relief 10:30am: Fed’s Williams gives remarks at NY Fed food- insecurity event 1pm: Fed’s Clarida Discusses Fed Independence DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Just as we go to print markets are reacting negatively to an interview with the Moderna CEO in the FT that has just landed where he said that with regards to Omicron, “There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level... we had with Delta…… I think it’s going to be a material drop (efficacy). I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to . . . are like ‘this is not going to be good’.”” This is not really new news relative to the last 3-4 days given what we know about the new mutation but the market is picking up on the explicit comments. In response S&P futures have gone from slightly up to down just over -0.5% and Treasury yields immediately dipped -4bps to 1.46%. The Nikkei has erased gains and is down around -1% and the Hang Seng is c.-1.8%. This is breaking news so check your screens after you read this. In China the official November PMI data came in stronger than expected with the Manufacturing PMI at 50.1 (49.7 consensus vs 49.2 previous) and the non-manufacturing PMI at 52.3 (51.5 consensus vs 52.4 previous). The negative headlines above as we go to print followed a market recovery yesterday as investors hoped that the Omicron variant wouldn’t prove as bad as initially feared. In reality, the evidence is still incredibly limited on this question, and nothing from the Moderna CEO overnight changes that. However the more positive sentiment was also evident from the results of our flash poll in yesterday’s EMR where we had 1569 responses so very many thanks. The poll showed that just 10% thought it would still be the biggest topic in financial markets by the end of the year, with 30% instead thinking it’ll largely be forgotten about. The other 60% thought it would still be an issue but only of moderate importance. So if that’s correct and our respondents are a fair reflection of broader market sentiment, then it points to some big downside risks ahead if we get notable bad news on the variant. For the record I would have been with the majority with tendencies towards the largely forgotten about answer. So I will be as off-side as much as most of you on the variant downside risk scenario. When I did a similar poll on Evergrande 2 and a half months ago, only 8% thought it would be significantly impacting markets a month later with 78% in aggregate thinking limited mention/impact, and 15% thinking it would have no impact. So broadly similar responses and back then the 15% were most correct although the next 78% weren’t far off. In terms of the latest developments yesterday, we’re still waiting to find out some of the key pieces of information about this new strain, including how effective vaccines still are, and about the extent of any increased risk of transmission, hospitalisation and death. Nevertheless, countries around the world are continuing to ramp up their own responses as they await this information. President Biden laid out the US strategy for tackling Omicron in a public address yesterday, underscoring the variant was a cause for concern rather than panic. He noted travel bans from certain jurisdictions would remain in place to buy authorities time to evaluate the variant, but did not anticipate that further travel bans or domestic lockdowns would be implemented, instead urging citizens to get vaccinated or a booster shot. Over in Europe, Bloomberg reported that EU leaders were discussing whether to have a virtual summit on Friday about the issue, and Poland moved to toughen up their own domestic restrictions, with a 50% capacity limit on restaurants, hotels, gyms and cinemas. In Germany, Chancellor Merkel and Vice Chancellor Scholz will be meeting with state premiers today, whilst the UK government’s vaccination committee recommended that every adult be eligible for a booster shot, rather than just the over-40s at present. Boosters have done a tremendous job in dramatically reducing cases in the elder cohort in the UK in recent weeks so one by product of Omicron is that it may accelerate protection in a wider age group everywhere. Assuming vaccines have some impact on Omicron this could be a positive development, especially if symptoms are less bad. Markets recovered somewhat yesterday, with the S&P 500 gaining +1.32% to recover a large portion of Friday’s loss. The index was driven by mega-cap tech names, with the Nasdaq up +1.88% and small cap stocks underperforming, with the Russell 2000 down -0.18%, so the market wasn’t completely pricing out omicron risks by any means. Nevertheless, Covid-specific names performed how you would expect given the improved sentiment; stay-at-home trades that outperformed Friday fell, including Zoom (-0.56%), Peloton (-4.35%), and HelloFresh (-0.8%), while Moderna (+11.80%) was the biggest winner following the weekend news that a reformulated vaccine could be available in early 2022. Elsewhere, Twitter (-2.74%) initially gained after it was announced CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey would be stepping down, but trended lower throughout the rest of the day. The broader moves put the index back in positive territory for the month as we hit November’s last trading day today. Europe saw its own bounceback too, with the STOXX 600 up +0.69%. Over in rates, the partial unwind of Friday’s moves was even smaller, with yields on 10yr Treasuries moving up +2.6bps to 1.50%, driven predominantly by real rates, as inflation breakevens were a touch narrower across the curve. One part of the curve that didn’t retrace Friday’s move was the short end, where markets continued to push Fed rate hikes back ever so slightly, with the first full hike now being priced for September (though contracts as early as May still price some meaningful probability of Fed hikes). We may see some further movements today as well, with Fed Chair Powell set to appear before the Senate Banking Committee at 15:00 London time, where he may well be asked about whether the Fed plans to accelerate the tapering of their asset purchases although it’s hard to believe he’ll go too far with any guidance with the Omicron uncertainty. The Chair’s brief planned testimony was published on the Fed’s website last night. It struck a slightly more hawkish tone on inflation, noting that the Fed’s forecast was for elevated inflation to persist well into next year and recognition that high inflation imposes burdens on those least able to handle them. On omicron, the testimony predictably stated it posed risks that could slow the economy’s progress, but tellingly on the inflation front, it could intensify supply chain disruptions. The real fireworks will almost certainly come in the question and answer portion of the testimony. The bond moves were more muted in Europe though, with yields on 10yr bunds (+2.0bps), OATs (+1.0bps) and BTPs (+0.4bps) only seeing a modest increase. Crude oil prices also didn’t bounce back with as much rigor as equities. Brent gained +0.99% while WTI futures increased +2.64%. They are back down -1 to -1.5% this morning. Elsewhere in DC, Senator Joe Manchin noted that Democrats could raise the debt ceiling on their own through the reconciliation process, but indicated a preference for the increase not to be included in the build back better bill, for which his support still seems lukewarm. We’re approaching crucial deadlines on the debt ceiling and financing the federal government, so these headlines should become more commonplace over the coming days. There were some further developments on the inflation front yesterday as Germany reported that inflation had risen to +6.0% in November (vs. +5.5% expected) on the EU-harmonised measure, and up from +4.6% in October. The German national measure also rose to +5.2% (vs. +5.0% expected), which was the highest since 1992. Speaking of Germany, Bloomberg reported that the shortlist for the Bundesbank presidency had been narrowed down to 4 candidates, which included Isabel Schnabel of the ECB’s Executive Board, and Joachim Nagel, who’s currently the Deputy Head of the Banking Department at the Bank for International Settlements. Today we’ll likely get some further headlines on inflation as the flash estimate for the entire Euro Area comes out, as well as the numbers for France and Italy. There wasn’t much in the way of other data yesterday, though UK mortgage approvals fell to 67.2k in October (vs. 70.0k expected), which is their lowest level since June 2020. Separately, US pending home sales were up +7.5% in October (vs. +1.0% expected), whilst the Dallas Fed’s manufacturing activity index for November unexpectedly fell to 11.8 (vs. 15.0 expected). Finally, the European Commission’s economic sentiment indicator for the Euro Area dipped to 117.5 in November as expected, its weakest level in 6 months. To the day ahead now, and the main central bank highlight will be Fed Chair Powell’s appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, alongside Treasury Secretary Yellen. In addition, we’ll hear from Fed Vice Chair Clarida, the Fed’s Williams, the ECB’s Villeroy and de Cos, and the BoE’s Mann. On the data side, we’ll get the flash November CPI reading for the Euro Area today, as well as the readings from France and Italy. In addition, there’s data on German unemployment for November, Canadian GDP for Q3, whilst in the US there’s the Conference Board’s consumer confidence measure for November, the FHFA house price index for September, and the MNI Chicago PMI for November. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/30/2021 - 07:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 30th, 2021

Anonymity has always been part of the internet, but Facebook wants us to use our real names in the metaverse. Should we allow fake identities online?

Anonymous accounts have caused massive headaches for the internet, but the benefits to users are even more widespread. Some anonymity is a good thing. Social media is rife with fake accounts, anonymous users, and alternate profiles. Getting rid of anonymity won't solve the problems of the internet.Marianne Ayala/Insider Facebook has long pushed for people to use their real identity on its platforms.  But digital anonymity has been part of the internet since it began — and users love having the option.  For all the downsides of fake accounts, doing away with anonymity won't solve the internet's problems.  Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer who publishes the weekly newsletter Kneeling Bus. This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. During a congressional hearing in September, Senator Richard Blumenthal unintentionally became a meme when he asked Facebook's global head of safety, Antigone Davis, "Will you commit to ending finsta?" Finsta, a slang term for a secondary, anonymous Instagram account that users create to reach smaller groups of users more privately, had come under congressional scrutiny for its supposed role in Facebook's growth strategy. And despite the ridicule that followed Blumenthal's poorly-worded question, his grasp of the concept was basically correct.Although finsta accounts are an emergent phenomenon among users — rather than a feature Facebook actively promotes — their existence illuminates the nuances of the company's relationship to users' digital identities as well as its control over those identities. Anonymity is arguably the finsta's essential quality: By linking multiple accounts to a single email address, Instagram users subvert the priorities dictated by the app itself, like maximizing followers and engagement that accrue to one's personal brand. The goal, in other words, is to reclaim a measure of control over one's digital presence by purposefully splitting it into multiple parts, some of which are anonymous.Such anonymity is only outwardly facing, however. Facebook knows who a given user is even if other users don't. The irony of Senator Blumenthal choosing "finsta" as his target is that Facebook itself has done more than perhaps any other company to make individuals' online identities more rigid, by enforcing the notion of a singular digital self that maps directly to one's offline existence. "You have one identity," Mark Zuckerberg said in a 2010 interview. "Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity."Facebook's website also states this intention clearly: "Facebook is a community where everyone uses the name they go by in everyday life … so that you always know who you're connecting with." The ability to have a fluid online identity is in many ways an inherent quality of digital existence as originally conceived, but has become a hotly contested issue more recently as the drawbacks of anonymity become increasingly apparent. Since Facebook's launch in 2004, it and other Web 2.0 companies have normalized the notion of having an online identity that matches one's identity in "everyday life." Today, the internet finds itself at a fork in the road: While the de-anonymized, social media-driven Web 2.0 remains dominant, the nascent, blockchain-based Web3 offers to reintroduce some of the fluidity and anonymity that became less attainable in the Facebook era. Meanwhile, Facebook itself — recently renamed Meta — has outlined its own vision for the "metaverse," which promises to further solidify the connection between our online and offline identities. But we shouldn't have to choose between these two approaches: Instead of simply embracing or rejecting anonymity altogether, Facebook and the other entities shaping the internet's future might recognize the benefits of the fluid identities that the internet makes possible, while also finding more sophisticated ways to combat the negative consequences of anonymity. In doing so, they would have the opportunity to synthesize the best aspects of each vision.Anonymity was a crucial part of the early internet Before Web 2.0 and Web3, there was Web 1.0: the internet of the '90s and early '00s in which a relatively small subset of users generated most of the content. Anonymity and pseudonymity were somewhat inherent to the Web 1.0 user experience, because most users were not posting much at all, and those who did frequently used an alias. Outside of walled gardens like AOL, the building blocks of the early internet were personal websites and message boards where users could present themselves however they wanted. The web was a place to transcend the limitations of the physical world, rather than a direct representation of it.When Facebook exploded in 2004, it changed this expectation dramatically, mapping online activity to offline reality. Users eagerly created profiles listing their interests alongside personal information like their birthday and relationship status. They "friended" their actual friends and soon began adding tagged photos, enabling Facebook to construct its social graph — a digital model of real-world social reality that would prove immensely profitable as a mechanism for targeted advertising. Instead of Web 1.0's individual servers, users' identities have come to live increasingly on big tech platforms' relational databases, which have collected more and more information about them. While social networks like Facebook did give us useful new ways to express ourselves online, the flexibility and relative anonymity of Web 1.0 was equally valuable. Potential for both harassment and free expressionAs Facebook matured, it found itself at war with users' efforts to escape their real-world identities, while in the past decade, the consequences of digital anonymity have become more visible. In 2012, Facebook's share price plummeted after the company estimated that there were as many as 83 million fake accounts on the social network, a situation that had obvious negative implications for its ad sales. Many attributed Donald Trump's presidential election victory in 2016 to misinformation spread by Russian bots and sock puppets — alternative online identities "used for purposes of deception," as Wikipedia defines them — on Facebook and other internet platforms. In a 2018 New Yorker piece about Russia's role in the election, Jane Meyer cited the significance of "the countless messages, created by masked Russian social-media accounts, that were spread by algorithms, bots, and unwitting American users." More broadly, a 2017 survey by Pew Research Center found that anonymity "is often blamed as a key enabler of cruelty and abuse in discussions of online harassment." At its most extreme, digital anonymity facilitates crime and violence, being the core feature of "dark web" networks that support a wide range of illicit transactions. These are all problems worth solving, but it's less clear whether prohibiting anonymity will actually rectify them on its own.While the drawbacks of anonymity are largely unambiguous and often extreme, the benefits are more subtle. The same Pew survey found that many respondents value the kind of anonymity that the internet makes possible: "On the positive side, 85% of Americans feel anonymity allows people to discuss sensitive topics freely, 77% think anonymity makes people feel more private and secure, and 59% say it is important to protecting freedom of speech." While positive outcomes rarely produce headlines as galvanizing as Russian misinformation or dark web crime, those benefits are arguably more widespread. For example, Facebook's real-name policy has proven limited: Some users, including Native Americans, have been suspended for using their real names, while Facebook still allows plausible-sounding names that are actually fake. Victims of real-world abuse and discrimination have complained that Facebook's enforcement of real names effectively doxxes them, thereby placing them in danger offline. The internet also provides a crucial channel of political speech under repressive regimes, a function that requires anonymity. Saudi Arabia, for example, has imprisoned human rights activists for "internet crimes" and has sought to end Twitter users' ability to be anonymous within the country. The emergence of finsta accounts themselves demonstrates users' desire to free themselves of social media's often-toxic usage norms.Anonymity on the future internet The current moment, then, is undeniably pivotal. Blockchain technology and Web3 promise to unshackle internet users from the platform-dominated internet where personal data and identity itself reside in databases owned by huge corporations. The potential for "trustless" interactions on the blockchain supposedly removes the need to know who exactly we're dealing with, in monetary transactions or social interaction. But at the same time, Web3 promises an immutable blockchain ledger that records all digital activity for posterity, in full public view. Users themselves might remain anonymous, but their behavior could become more trackable than ever.Facebook's metaverse vision, on the other hand, simply continues the company's effort to reproduce real-world identity and social connections in a virtual environment. We can try on different avatars in the metaverse, but Facebook will almost certainly ensure that we remain tethered to our singular offline identities. However valuable online anonymity may be, it is likely to remain somewhat elusive in Facebook's metaverse.Facebook's interest in regulating our identities ostensibly arises from safety concerns: minimizing harassment and other harms that become possible when, to use Facebook's language, you don't "know who you're connecting with." But maybe that's just what companies like Facebook want us to believe as they continue to compile proprietary data about us.After all, despite Facebook's ongoing struggle to firm up user identities, it seems just as toxic a place as ever, perhaps even more so. Instead of forcing digital identities to match their offline counterparts, companies like Facebook should recognize the value of anonymity and the flexibility of identity that the internet makes possible. Not only does such fluidity have real benefits, but it's inherent to the nature of the internet, and fighting it wholesale goes against the very grain of the medium. Facebook and other stewards of digital space might instead accept responsibility for the worlds they have designed and develop more innovative and nuanced solutions to the toxic problems that arise within them. Just because anonymity has drawbacks doesn't necessarily mean it should be eliminated.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 23rd, 2021

I lost my work at 64 and became a low-paid delivery driver. It made me realize our unrealistic expectations are why we call it a supply chain "crisis."

Richard Tierney began doing home deliveries for the UK supermarket chain Tesco when the COVID-19 pandemic ended his work in events. Richard Tierney working as a delivery driver. Courtesy of Richard Tierney Richard Tierney, 66, lost all his work in events when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year. Needing money, he became a low-paid supermarket delivery driver. This is what he learned about the supply-chain crisis that developed during the pandemic. When the UK entered its first COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, all my work creating content for events and coaching speakers stopped overnight.I needed to replace the cash flow, and I wanted to do something. I was also feeling antibody-charged, having contracted COVID-19 early on.I had experience driving vans from my early work in events, traveling around the country setting up and dismantling equipment. Supermarkets were also desperate, having radically increased their online offering. I applied and had to prove I could drive through small towns and through rural villages with a 15-minute van driving test.Ten days after applying, I became a poorly paid delivery driver for UK supermarket chain Tesco in the Cotswolds, in the west of England.It was the first time since the 1970s I'd worked as anything but a self-employed events producer.I enjoyed the exercise and felt I was doing something useful. The gratitude from housebound customers was palpable. I was surprised to get cash tips. I'd never thought to tip for a supermarket delivery. I had applied to other companies, but the supermarkets seemed the best bet. We had fewer drops, though the loads were bigger. I was contracted for five four-hour shifts a week, but demand was so high I was constantly asked to work extra. In a typical week I would usually work eight or 10. A four-hour shift took me, in reality, about 5 1/2 hours.I was surprised how small the "warehouse" area at the back of the supermarket was. A big supermarket took a delivery every 30 minutes.Drivers like me loaded up our small vans, carrying crates of groceries to the homes of the store's online customers.Every time I returned, the contents of the warehouse were different - moved onto the shop floor by an army of stackers and pickers paid even less than the 10 pounds (about $13.37) per hour I was earning. The store has no control over what arrives. Inventory is sent based on recent sales. With offices and restaurants shut, more calories were now being bought in supermarkets. The supply chain responded very quickly; equilibrium was restored after a few weeks of shortages. We all learned to be a bit more grateful. The sheer amount of stuff moving through each shop is enormous. During lockdown it became breathtaking. Home delivery's share of the overall business almost doubled.I measured each shift by the number of drops to each customer. Between 12 and 18 was normal in a four-hour shift. The more experienced drivers told me to measure by weight, a much better metric as each load had to be lifted twice, once into the van at the beginning, once more to the customers' homes.The sheer weight I had to shift took its toll on my body. Frequently I would be delivering and one of our competitors' vans would be in the same street. We became friendly, even helping each other out a couple of times.One day, late in 2020, I saw the warehouse was half filled with toilet paper. When I returned it was still there. This was unusual. The store manager later told me there had been a rumor of another toilet paper shortage, like the one that gripped Britain early in the first lockdown earlier that year.This time, management's solution was to ensure the aisle was rammed with toilet paper at all times. Customers didn't see a shortage so didn't panic-buy. It's easy to find some empty shelves near closing time. The big restock would happen overnight.After lockdown, I delivered to one woman who was still isolating as she was vulnerable. She was delighted to have a conversation with me, even while social distancing. I was the first person she'd seen in two weeks, and she had not been outside her house for 18 months.I started to tell her about the products that were out of stock and had to be substituted, and she replied with such joy: "I don't care. I can't remember what I ordered anyway, and I'll cook whatever you've given me."Eventually, virtual events restarted and my normal career was able to resume, meaning I could leave deliveries behind. It was strange returning to much-better-paid work online for a couple of hours in the day, then driving for minimum wage in the evening.I had typically earned 800 pounds (about $1,071) per month driving and 200 pounds (about $267) per hour from returning to my "real" job. The crossover period didn't last long.It seemed anyone with a hobby horse has claimed the supply-chain crisis was caused by the thing they were upset about. In the UK it was blamed on Brexit; the pandemic was certainly a factor; the unions were blamed, as license applications for truck drivers were apparently held up by a dispute. Everyone feels free to blame the government, though I'm unsure what they could have done.The supply chain is adapting, as it always has. The pandemic accelerated the shift to online shopping that was already in progress. Some things are taking longer to clear, but clear they will. Our obsession with an enormous variety that is always available has grown.We demand more and more availability when we really just want something to eat.The crisis isn't with our supply chain; it's to do with the expectation of extremely fast delivery it's given us.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 15th, 2021

European Army: Rhetoric Versus Reality

European Army: Rhetoric Versus Reality Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute, The call for a supranational army, part of a push for Europe to achieve "strategic autonomy" from the United States, is being spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron, who, as part of his reelection campaign, apparently hopes to replace outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the de facto leader of Europe. Many EU member states disagree with Macron. Eastern European countries, some of which face existential threats from Russia, know that neither the EU nor France can match the military capabilities offered by NATO and the United States. Other countries are concerned about a panoply of issues ranging from financial costs to national sovereignty. "If the EU Army undermines NATO, or results in the separation of the U.S. and Europe or produces a paper army, Europe will be committing the most enfeebling and dangerous act of self-harm since the rise of fascism in the 1930s. An EU Army will amount to European de-arming." — Bob Seely, Tory MP. "It will be hard to convince some member states that collective EU defense would bring the same security as NATO's U.S.-backed defense arrangement." — Richard Whitman, professor of politics and international relations at the University of Kent. "Few share France's willingness to splurge on defense, or its expeditionary military culture. (Germany, especially, does not.) Nobody agrees what 'strategic autonomy' actually means." — The Economist. "The EU is not a credible substitute for what NATO represents. You will not see any appetite for the European army amongst member states." — Kristjan Mäe, head of the Estonian defense ministry's NATO and EU department. "Even if national capitals wanted to lunge for a common army, there are so many technical, legal, and administrative differences between their militaries that it would take decades to produce a smoothly functioning force.... Conclusion: any talk of creating a fully-fledged common army, even within the next generation, is just that: jaw-jaw and not real-real." — Brooks Tigner, analyst, Atlantic Council. European federalists seeking to transform the 27-member European Union into a European superstate — a so-called United States of Europe — have revived a decades-old proposal to build a European army. The call for a supranational army, part of a push for Europe to achieve "strategic autonomy" from the United States, is being spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron, who, as part of his reelection campaign, apparently hopes to replace outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the de facto leader of Europe. Macron claims that Europe needs its own military because, according to him, the United States is no longer a reliable ally. He cites as examples: U.S. President Joe Biden's precipitous withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan; the growing pressure on Europe to take sides with the United States on China; and France's exclusion from a new security alliance in the Indo-Pacific region. Many EU member states disagree with Macron. Eastern European countries, some of which face existential threats from Russia, know that neither the EU nor France can match the military capabilities offered by NATO and the United States. Other countries are concerned about a panoply of issues ranging from financial costs to national sovereignty. Still others are opposed to creating a parallel structure to NATO that could undermine the transatlantic alliance. A common EU army appears to be a long way from becoming reality. A logical course of action would be for EU member states (which comprise 21 of the 30 members of NATO) to honor past pledges to increase defense spending as part of their contribution to the transatlantic alliance. That, however, would fly in the face of the folie de grandeur — the delusions of grandeur — of European federalists who want to transform the EU into a major geopolitical power. Pictured: Soldiers of the Franco-German brigade, a military unit founded in 1989, jointly consisting of units from the French Army and German Army. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Strategic Autonomy The term "strategic autonomy" in European discussions on defense has been in use since at least December 2013, when the European Council, the EU's governing body comprised of the leaders of the 27 EU member states, called for the EU to improve its defense industrial base. In June 2016, the term appeared in the EU's security strategy. The document — "A Global Strategy for the European Union's Foreign and Security Policy" — was said to "nurture the ambition of strategic autonomy" for the European Union. "An appropriate level of ambition and strategic autonomy," it stated, "is important for Europe's ability to promote peace and security within and beyond its borders." In recent years, the concept of "strategic autonomy" has taken on far broader significance: the idea now means that the EU should become a sovereign power that is militarily, economically, and technologically independent from the United States. EU observer Dave Keating noted: "The Brussels buzzword is now 'strategic autonomy,' an effort to wrestle the word 'sovereignty' away from nationalists and make the case that only a strong EU can make Europeans truly sovereign in relation to Russia, China, and the United States." European federalists increasingly have called for building an autonomous EU military force: March 8, 2015. In an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Jean-Claude Juncker, then the president of the European Commission, the EU's administrative arm, declared that the European Union needed its own army because it was not "taken entirely seriously" on the international stage. The proposal was flatly rejected by the British government, which at the time was still an EU member: "Our position is crystal clear that defense is a national — not an EU — responsibility and that there is no prospect of that position changing and no prospect of a European army." September 26, 2017. President Macron, in a major speech at Sorbonne University, called for a joint EU defense force as part of his vision for the future of the bloc: "Europe needs to establish a common intervention force, a common defense budget and a common doctrine for action." November 6, 2018. Macron, marking the centenary of the armistice that ended World War 1, warned that Europe cannot be protected without a "true, European army." He added: "We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America." November 13, 2018. German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed Macron's calls for a European army: "The times when we could rely on others are over. This means nothing less than for us Europeans to take our destiny in our own hands if we want to survive as a Union.... We have to create a European intervention unit with which Europe can act on the ground where necessary. We have taken major steps in the field of military cooperation; this is good and largely supported in this house. But I also have to say, seeing the developments of the recent years, that we have to work on a vision to establish a real European army one day." September 10, 2019. During her first press conference as the new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who has long called for a "United States of Europe," said that she will lead a "geopolitical Commission" aimed at boosting the EU's role on the world stage. She did not offer many details other than a vaguely worded pledge that the European Union would "be the guardian of multilateralism." November 7, 2019. President Macron, in an interview with the London-based magazine, The Economist, declared that NATO was "brain dead" and warned that European countries can no longer rely on the United States for defense. Europe, he said, stands on "the edge of a precipice" and needs to start thinking of itself strategically as a geopolitical power and regain "military sovereignty" or otherwise "we will no longer be in control of our destiny." Macron criticized U.S. President Donald J. Trump because he "doesn't share our idea of the European project." Chancellor Merkel said Macron "used drastic words — that is not my view of co-operation in NATO." November 26, 2019. France and Germany announced the "Conference on the Future of Europe," a two-year post-Brexit soul-searching exercise aimed at reforming the EU to make it "more united and sovereign." June 17, 2020. The European Council tasked the EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, with drafting a written "Strategic Compass." The document should have three main purposes: 1) to formulate the EU's first common threat analysis; 2) to strengthen the EU's security and defense role; and 3) to offer political guidance for future military planning processes. The Strategic Compass, aimed at harmonizing the perception of threats and risks within the EU, is to be presented in November 2021, debated by EU leaders in December 2021, and approved in March 2022. December 3, 2020. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, in blog post, "Why European Strategic Autonomy Matters," wrote: "It is difficult to claim to be a 'political union' able to act as a 'global player' and as a 'geopolitical Commission' without being 'autonomous.'" He described "strategic autonomy" as a long-term process intended to ensure that Europeans "increasingly take charge of themselves." May 5, 2021. Fourteen EU countries — Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain — called for the creation of a so-called EU First Entry Force consisting of 5,000 troops with air, land and sea capabilities. August 29, 2021. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, said that the moment had come to establish an EU expeditionary force — a "First Entry Force" — to compensate for U.S. "disengagement" from international affairs. A senior EU diplomat, speaking to the Guardian newspaper, asked: "We have been here before — which leader is going to allow their nationals to be killed in the name of the EU? What problem is this reaction force meant to solve? Does Borrell seriously entertain the idea the EU would be able to step into the void the US left?" September 15, 2021. In her annual State of the Union speech delivered to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, von der Leyen urged greater military independence from the United States. "Europe can — and clearly should — be able and willing to do more on its own," she said. She called for a "European Defense Union" but admitted the "lack of political will" to "build the foundation for collective decision-making." October 2, 2021. European Council President Charles Michel, speaking at an award ceremony of the International Charlemagne Prize, declared that "2022 will be the year of European defense." October 5-6, 2021. At an EU Summit in Slovenia, EU member states were so divided on the issue of strategic autonomy that the topic was not even included in the summit's final declaration. To create the illusion of consensus, Michel issued an "oral conclusion" of the summit: "To become more effective and assertive on the international stage, the European Union needs to increase its capacity to act autonomously." A History of Failure The debate over building a European army has been going on since the end of World War 2. In 1950, France proposed creating a common army to protect Western Europe from the Soviet Union without having to rearm Germany. A treaty creating the so-called European Defense Community was signed in 1952, but it was never ratified by the French Parliament due to concerns that France would lose its sovereignty to a multilateral decision-making body. In the late 1990s, after the EU and its member states failed to prevent a decade of bloodletting in the Yugoslav Wars, and after the United States intervened, European leaders called for the creation of a European Rapid Reaction Force capable of acting in future crises. In 2007, after years of debate, the EU established two so-called EU battlegroups consisting of 1,500 troops each to respond to crises, but due to intra-European disputes over financing and deployment, they have never been used. The European Union is now calling for the battlegroups to be rebranded as a "First Entry Force" comprised of 5,000 troops. It remains unclear why EU leaders think the latter will achieve what the former could not. In any event, a force that small is nowhere near enough to give the EU "strategic autonomy" from the United States. Over the decades, the European quest for "strategic autonomy" has resulted in dozens of summits, declarations, concept papers, reports, institutions, terms and acronyms, including: Petersberg Declaration; St. Malo Declaration; Berlin Plus Agreement; Franco-German Brigade; German-Netherlands Corps; Belgian-Dutch Naval Cooperation Accord; European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP); Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP); Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO); European Capabilities Action Plan (ECAP); Headline Goals; EU Battlegroups; European Gendarmerie Force; European Rapid Operational Force (EUROFOR); European Maritime Force; Eurocorps; Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF); Entente frugale; European Defense Agency; European Security Strategy; European Intervention Initiative (EI2); EUFOR; European Command and Control (C2); European Union Military Committee (EUMC); European Union Military Staff (EUMS); Joint Support Coordination Cell (JSCC); Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC); Political and Security Committee (PSC); Politico-Military Group (PMG); European Defense Fund; Coordinated Annual Review on Defense (CARD); and the EU's ongoing "Strategic Compass" process, among many others. German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, in a recent opinion article published by Politico, concluded that "illusions of European strategic autonomy must come to an end." She added: "Europeans will not be able to replace America's crucial role as a security provider. We have to acknowledge that, for the foreseeable future, we will remain dependent." Lack of Capabilities An important obstacle to building a European army is the reluctance of EU governments to invest in defense. At the 2014 Wales Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, allies agreed to spend a minimum of 2% percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to defense spending. In 2020, only nine of NATO's 21 European members honored their pledges, according to data supplied by NATO. Germany — the biggest economy in the EU and the fourth-biggest in the world — spent only 1.53% of GDP on defense in 2020. That represents an increase of less than 0.5% of GDP since 2015. France, the EU's second-biggest economy, spent 2.01% of GDP on defense in 2020, an increase of only 0.3% of GDP since 2015. Italy, the EU's third-biggest economy, spent 1.41% of GDP on defense in 2020, while Spain, the EU's fourth-biggest economy, spent a mere 1.02% of GDP on defense in 2020, according to NATO data. The numbers show that defense spending is not a priority in most European countries. The German armed forces (the Bundeswehr) are in an especially sad state of disrepair. A damning report published by the German Parliament in January 2019 found that critical equipment was scarce and that readiness and recruitment were at all-time lows. "No matter where you look, there's dysfunction," said a high-ranking German officer stationed at Bundeswehr headquarters in Berlin. A May 2018 report by the German magazine Der Spiegel revealed that only four of Germany's 128 Eurofighter jets were combat ready. Germany's obligation to NATO requires it to have at least 80 combat-ready jets for crisis situations. At the end of 2017, not one of the German Air Force's 14 large transport planes was available for deployment due to a lack of maintenance, according to the German Parliament. In October 2017, a spokesman for the German Navy said that all six of Germany's submarines were in the dock for repairs. In February 2015, Germany's defense ministry admitted that its forces were so under-equipped that they had to use broomsticks instead of machine guns during a NATO exercise in Norway. Much of the blame falls on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During her 16 years in office, she has been content to free-ride on the U.S. defense umbrella. Also to blame is Ursula von der Leyen, who was German defense minister between 2014 and 2019, before she was promoted to lead the European Commission, and who now wants to build a European army. As German defense minister, von der Leyen was plagued by scandals and accused of cronyism, mismanagement and nepotism. EU affairs analyst Matthew Karnitschnig quipped: "With Merkel on her way out, fixing the Bundeswehr will likely be up to her successor. Until then, plans for a 'European Army' that includes Germany have about as much chance of getting off the ground as the German Air Force." France, which has just under 300,000 active-duty personnel, has the largest military in Europe. Still, it remains a regional power, not a global one. In September 2021, the RAND Corporation, in a major study — "A Strong Ally Stretched Thin: An Overview of France's Defense Capabilities from a Burdensharing Perspective" — concluded that the French military suffers many shortcomings that render as "limited" its capacity to sustain a high-end, conventional conflict. The French Army "faces a challenge with respect to readiness, owing to past budget cuts and austerity measures, a small number of weapon systems, and the burden of sustaining ongoing overseas operations," according to RAND. The French Air Force "suffers from limited capacity" and "severely lacks strategic airlift." The French Navy, which has only one aircraft carrier, like France's other services, "has issues with readiness, and munitions stocks reportedly are low," according to RAND. The report's takeaway is that the French military would require decades of preparation and massive budget increases to realistically form the basis for a European army. Poland, which is opposed to a European army because it would "weaken" the armies of NATO's member states, plans to double the size of its armed forces to 250,000 soldiers and 50,000 reserves. The expansion, announced on October 26, would make the Polish military the second-largest in Europe, ahead of that of the United Kingdom. In January 2020, Poland signed a contract worth $4.6 billion to purchase 32 F-35A fighter jets from the United States. In October 2018, Belgium signed a $4.5 billion deal to purchase 34 F-35A fighter jets from the United States. "The offer from the Americans was the best in all our seven evaluation criteria," Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput wrote on Twitter. "The decision is a setback for Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain, who are behind the Eurofighter program, and also means the rejection of an informal French offer to sell Belgium the Rafale fighter built by Dassault Aviation," according to Reuters. This implies that in the future the Belgian and Polish militaries will be further integrated with the United States and NATO rather than with a hypothetical European army. Macron's Motives One of the most vocal champions of the idea of a European army is French President Emmanuel Macron. He must know that an independent EU military remains only a distant possibility, despite his describing the NATO alliance as "brain dead." As German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to retire, it appears that much of Macron's posturing on European "strategic autonomy" is part of a French nationalist campaign strategy aimed at presenting France as a great power that dominates the European Union. Macron seems to be trying to appeal to French voters while carving out a role for himself to replace Merkel as the new leader of Europe. Macron, who has yet to declare his candidacy, faces reelection in April 2022. Currently he is the clear first-round front-runner at 24%, according to recent polls cited by Politico. His main rivals are two nationalists: Marine Le Pen of the right-leaning National Rally party, and Éric Zemmour, a French essayist and media personality. Macron has been calling for a European army for several years, but his professed aspiration for "strategic autonomy" shifted into high gear after U.S. President Donald J. Trump threatened to withdraw from NATO if European member states refused to pay their fair share. Trump's warning, which appears to have been more of a bluff than a real threat, prompted many European countries to increase their defense spending, even if most are still below the agreed-upon threshold of 2% of GDP. Macron subsequently was dealt a humiliating blow by the Biden administration. In September 2021, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States announced a new tripartite strategic alliance aimed at countering China's growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region. Notably, the so-called AUKUS agreement does not include any member state of the European Union, which was completely left in the dark about the new alliance. AUKUS was announced on September 15, just hours before the EU unveiled its much-hyped "Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific." The EU had been hoping that its new plan would highlight its "strategic autonomy" from the United States in the Pacific region. Instead, the EU was eclipsed by AUKUS and exposed as a paper tiger. Adding insult to injury, Australia announced that as part of the AUKUS deal, it had cancelled a multi-billion-dollar submarine contract — once dubbed the "contract of the century" — under which France was to supply Australia with 12 diesel-powered submarines. Instead, Australia said that it would be buying nuclear submarines from the United States. France has reacted angrily to its change of fortunes. French Foreign Minister called AUKUS a "stab in the back." The French Ambassador to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thébault, said that Australia's decision to cancel the submarine deal was akin to "treason." The French government claimed that the Australian decision caught Paris by surprise, but the subsequent leak of a text message between Macron and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed that Macron knew well in advance that Australia was planning to cancel the contract. The AUKUS humiliation set Macron into a rage and appears to be fueling his increasingly frenzied calls for "strategic autonomy." An advisor to Macron said: "We could turn a blind eye and act as if nothing had happened. We think that would be a mistake for all Europeans. There really is an opportunity here." So far, however, only Italy and Greece have come out in support of Macron's calls for an autonomous EU military force. In September 2021, France and Greece signed a new defense and security agreement in which France pledged to provide military assistance to Greece in the event of an attack by a third country, even if such a country, Turkey, is a member of NATO. Macron said the deal, worth $3 billion to France, was a "milestone" in European defense because it strengthened the EU's "strategic autonomy." Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis described the Greek-French defense deal "a first step towards the strategic autonomy of Europe." But some in the EU were skeptical of the deal and are concerned it will only serve to inflame tensions between Greece and Turkey. "It is a bit bizarre to say the pact contributes to European sovereignty," an unnamed EU diplomat told Politico. "By all accounts, this is a traditional 19th-century defense pact between two European powers." Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, in an interview with the Danish newspaper Politiken, said that Macron was escalating his dispute with the United States way out of proportion: "I think it is important to say, in relation to the discussions that are taking place right now in Europe, that I experience U.S. President Joe Biden as being very loyal to the transatlantic alliance. "I think in general that one should refrain from lifting some specific challenges, which will always exist between allies, up to a level where they are not supposed to be. I really, really want to warn against this." Meanwhile, the British newspaper, The Telegraph, on September 22 reported that Macron had offered to put France's seat on the United Nations Security Council "at the disposal of the European Union" if its governments back Macron's plans for an EU army. The French Presidency later denied the report: "Contrary to the assertions reported this morning, no, France has not offered to leave its seat on the United Nations Security Council. It belongs to France, and it will remain so." France assumes the EU's six-month rotating presidency on January 1, 2022. During that time, Macron is sure to continue pushing for "strategic autonomy" from the United States, including at a "Summit on European Defense" scheduled for the first half of 2022. Select Commentary Analysts James Jay Carafano and Stefano Graziosi, in an essay, "Europe's Strategic Autonomy Fallacy," wrote: "Strategic autonomy might sound empowering, but it remains little more than a distraction and irritant to the transatlantic community and the real issues. European nations need more national defense capacity. Europe needs a strong, innovative, and productive defense industrial base, and Europeans need to take collective security and its role in a Europe whole, free, prosperous and at peace seriously. These problems can be better addressed by building the militaries the Europeans need than the fantasies Brussels wants." A senior Tory MP, Bob Seely, warned: "If the EU Army undermines NATO, or results in the separation of the U.S. and Europe or produces a paper army, Europe will be committing the most enfeebling and dangerous act of self-harm since the rise of fascism in the 1930s. An EU Army will amount to European de-arming." EU affairs expert Dave Keating noted: "The problem is that while leaders like Macron have tasked the Commission to make the EU more geopolitically strong, he and others still refuse to give the Commission the tools that would make it strong. For the last decade, the European Council has consistently opposed measures that would strengthen the Commission, because it would mean diluting the power of national governments.... "EU national leaders are all well aware of the need for Europe to speak with one voice if it ever wants to be taken seriously on the global stage. But their natural instinct to preserve their own power gets in the way of achieving this goal." In an interview with France 24, the French state-owned television network, Richard Whitman, a professor of politics and international relations at the University of Kent, said: "It will be hard to convince some member states that collective EU defense would bring the same security as NATO's U.S.-backed defense arrangement. Nobody in the EU has ever been able to come up with a decision-making arrangement that takes national divides into account while facilitating expeditious decision-making; it's either the lowest common denominator or grand rhetorical comments tied to absurd propositions. Military action is politically defensible only when taken by national leaders and parliaments — and it's difficult to see that being worked around." Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Walter Russell Mead noted that the entire premise of European leaders that the United States was "disengaging" from international affairs was based on a "significant misunderstanding." He wrote: "Many Europeans, including some seasoned observers of the trans-Atlantic scene, believe that if the U.S. sees the Indo-Pacific as the primary focus of its foreign policy, it must be writing off the rest of the world. These observers look at the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and imagine that this is the kind of headlong retreat they can expect from America in Europe and the Middle East. "This is unlikely. American interests are global, and American presidents, like it or not, can't confine their attention to a single world theater." Polish analyst Łukasz Maślanka tweeted that the French arguments for "strategic autonomy" from the United States are lacking in substance: "French reports from the European Council summit in Slovenia assess Macron's chances of convincing Europeans to EU defense. A critical tone prevails against the reluctant Balts and Poles who still stubbornly believe in NATO despite the U.S.'s allegedly inevitable withdrawal from Europe. "However, it is French observers who lack lucidity: the U.S. presence in Central Europe has been growing, not diminishing in recent years. It is many times greater not only than what France currently delivers, but what it could ever deliver. "Finally, if the U.S. really did intend to turn its back on Europe, the dismay in Paris would be no less than in Warsaw. It's harmful to drive something that can finally become a self-fulfilling prophecy." The London-based magazine, The Economist, wrote that Europeans feel "unnerved" by Macron's push for "strategic autonomy" from the United States: "Most of them, especially those near the Russian border, are happy to rely on America's security guarantee. Few share France's willingness to splurge on defense, or its expeditionary military culture. (Germany, especially, does not.) Nobody agrees what 'strategic autonomy' actually means. Low odds, however, seldom deter Mr. Macron. After the latest snub, the unhugged French president will doubtless conclude that he has little choice but to keep trying." John Krieger, writing for the UK-based The Spectator, noted: "Given that Emmanuel Macron has nailed his colors to the mast on driving European integration deeper, a refusal by European member states to follow suit would be embarrassing and not a good omen for his forthcoming presidency of the EU in January." Kristjan Mäe, head of the Estonian defense ministry's NATO and EU department said: "The EU is not a credible substitute for what NATO represents. You will not see any appetite for the European army amongst member states." Analyst Brooks Tigner, writing for the Atlantic Council, concluded: "Even if national capitals wanted to lunge for a common army, there are so many technical, legal, and administrative differences between their militaries that it would take decades to produce a smoothly functioning force. "Those differences boil down to some of the most mundane things such as soldiers' rights. Strong unions representing military personnel in rich Scandinavian countries, for instance, ensure that their soldiers enjoy levels of physical comfort, hardship pay, and access to medical care that their equivalents in poorer southern EU countries can only dream of for an exercise, much less an actual operation. Whose union rules would govern a common European army? And how would that be financed? "The differences are even sharper at the strategic level when it comes to intelligence. As a whole, the EU countries (and those of NATO as well) do not trust one another with sensitive information: it is parceled out very parsimoniously from one capital to a few trusted others. It would never work for a truly common army. Changing that alone via twenty-five-way trust for intelligence-sharing within PESCO would take years and years. Some deem it impossible. "Conclusion: any talk of creating a fully-fledged common army, even within the next generation, is just that: jaw-jaw and not real-real." Tyler Durden Sat, 11/13/2021 - 08:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 13th, 2021

3 Ways To Profit From The Total Disruption Of Real Estate

Sweat was dripping off my forehead. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more It must have been 95 degrees out, and it wasn’t even 10 am yet. And yet, there I was… measuring the outside of a warehouse in rural Louisiana. Before I became a full-time trader and analyst, I was a commercial real […] Sweat was dripping off my forehead. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more It must have been 95 degrees out, and it wasn’t even 10 am yet. And yet, there I was… measuring the outside of a warehouse in rural Louisiana. Before I became a full-time trader and analyst, I was a commercial real estate appraiser in New Orleans. It was a great learning experience. But I wouldn’t call it my dream job. Measuring buildings wasn’t the only thing I disliked about the job… Getting information was also a huge chore. If I wanted to learn about a recent sale or property listing, I’d have to call an agent. If I wanted to look at property sale records, that often meant phoning the local clerk of court. In short, the job involved a ton of tedious work. And there was no central database for land sales. Every county was different. The real estate industry was behind the times. It had resisted innovation… until recently. Finally… the much-needed digitization of real estate is happening… Today, I’ll tell you about three ways to play the next wave of the digitization of real estate. But let’s first look at how much the industry has evolved. Buying a house isn’t what it used to be… In the old days, you’d have to schedule a viewing for a house or hope that your schedule aligned with an open house. You’d have to deal with a realtor, the property owner’s realtor, and the property owner. Later in the process, lawyers would get involved, as well as title insurers and surveyors. Fees were steep, and they added up quickly. In short, the process was extremely outdated and frustrating. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case… So-called “iBuying” has made buying and selling a home EASY… Opendoor Technologies Opendoor Technologies Inc (NASDAQ:OPEN) is an internet “realtor” that will buy your house sight unseen. No open houses, negotiation, or waiting months for a buyer to come up with the money. Type your address into Opendoor’s website, submit a few photos, and it will make you a cash offer in a couple of days. Opendoor bought and sold 20,000 homes online last year alone. A decade ago, this would sound crazy. But iBuying is part of the new normal thanks to technological advances in the real estate market. Pictures of a house can only do so much. They can show you what a house looks like, but they can’t show you what it feels like. It’s why seeing a house in person used to be necessary… but virtual reality is changing that… Zillow Conducts 3D Home Tours Zillow Group (NASDAQ:Z), an iBuying pioneer, now conducts 3D home tours. These tours let you see the actual dimensions of the property. It’s like going to an open house on the internet. Source: Zillow Listings with the 3D tour option get an average of 37% more views than listings without the 3D option. They also sold 14% faster. Anyone can download the Zillow 3D Home app to create their own virtual tours and capitalize on this disruption. It’s no surprise Zillow stock went on a tear last year, surging 938%. Lately, Zillow has been struggling due to the failure of its Zillow Offers arm. In short, Zillow used iBuying to buy houses it believed were undervalued, sight unseen. The goal was to flip them for a profit. That turned out to be much more difficult than the company anticipated. Earlier this week, Zillow announced the closure of this division of its business. Although it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for iBuyers, the usage of new technologies to evaluate and buy homes is only going to grow. Redfin Sees Increase In 3D Walkthroughs Fellow iBuying pioneer Redfin Corp (NASDAQ:RDFN) says 63% of its homebuyers last year made an offer on a home without seeing it in person. The company also saw a 563% increase in 3D walkthroughs during 2020. Redfin’s share price surged over 700% from March 2020 to February of this year. That’s more than 5X what the S&P 500 returned over the same period! Lately, the stock has cooled off. These were tremendous gains for the two iBuying pioneers. But they’re only a taste of what’s yet to come. Real estate is the world’s largest market… According to Savills, the global real estate market is worth $326.5 trillion. That’s more than 3X as big as the global stock market and more than twice as large as the global debt market. Just four years ago, global real estate was valued at $228 trillion. Since then, it’s increased by almost $100 trillion. However, I still see plenty of room for growth. Especially in these three areas… Big Data: Companies like Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin are collecting huge amounts of data every time a home sells on their platforms. They are learning about home prices but also gaining insights into traffic patterns, demographics, and other key metrics of their customers. Making sense of this data will help these companies maximize their profit potential. VR/AR: Virtual reality and augmented reality will make the online search and home buying experience even more exciting and accessible. According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, nearly half of all potential homebuyers search for properties on the internet first. Realtors can create virtual reality tours of properties that potential buyers can experience from the comfort of their own homes. This will also help long-distance buyers tour properties they can’t physically visit. Blockchain: Blockchain is a completely new way of record keeping. Instead of a bank controlling the database, it’s run on a network of computers. Transactions are verified by thousands of individuals across the world. Blockchain lets us securely record who owns what without a central authority for the first time ever. With all the middlemen, fees, outdated practices, and piles of paperwork, the process of buying a house can often take months. In the not-so-distant future, through the blockchain, you’ll be able to qualify for a loan, complete a title search, and close on a house in just one day—all without the involvement of costly middlemen. I’ll have more to say about how to cash in on the digitization of real estate soon. The Great Disruptors: 3 Breakthrough Stocks Set to Double Your Money" Get our latest report where we reveal our three favorite stocks that will hand you 100% gains as they disrupt whole industries. Get your free copy here. Article By Justin Spittler - Chief Trader, RiskHedge  - Mauldin Economics Updated on Nov 12, 2021, 5:04 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkNov 12th, 2021

The Metaverse Is Big Brother In Disguise: Freedom Meted Out By Technological Tyrants

The Metaverse Is Big Brother In Disguise: Freedom Meted Out By Technological Tyrants Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “The term metaverse, like the term meritocracy, was coined in a sci fi dystopia novel written as cautionary tale. Then techies took metaverse, and technocrats took meritocracy, and enthusiastically adopted what was meant to inspire horror.” - Antonio García Martínez Welcome to the Matrix (i.e. the metaverse), where reality is virtual, freedom is only as free as one’s technological overlords allow, and artificial intelligence is slowly rendering humanity unnecessary, inferior and obsolete. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, sees this digital universe—the metaverse—as the next step in our evolutionary transformation from a human-driven society to a technological one. Yet while Zuckerberg’s vision for this digital frontier has been met with a certain degree of skepticism, the truth—as journalist Antonio García Martínez concludes—is that we’re already living in the metaverse. The metaverse is, in turn, a dystopian meritocracy, where freedom is a conditional construct based on one’s worthiness and compliance. In a meritocracy, rights are privileges, afforded to those who have earned them. There can be no tolerance for independence or individuality in a meritocracy, where political correctness is formalized, legalized and institutionalized. Likewise, there can be no true freedom when the ability to express oneself, move about, engage in commerce and function in society is predicated on the extent to which you’re willing to “fit in.” We are almost at that stage now. Consider that in our present virtue-signaling world where fascism disguises itself as tolerance, the only way to enjoy even a semblance of freedom is by opting to voluntarily censor yourself, comply, conform and march in lockstep with whatever prevailing views dominate. Fail to do so—by daring to espouse “dangerous” ideas or support unpopular political movements—and you will find yourself shut out of commerce, employment, and society: Facebook will ban you, Twitter will shut you down, Instagram will de-platform you, and your employer will issue ultimatums that force you to choose between your so-called freedoms and economic survival. This is exactly how Corporate America plans to groom us for a world in which “we the people” are unthinking, unresistant, slavishly obedient automatons in bondage to a Deep State policed by computer algorithms. Science fiction has become fact. Twenty-some years after the Wachowskis’ iconic film, The Matrix, introduced us to a futuristic world in which humans exist in a computer-simulated non-reality powered by authoritarian machines—a world where the choice between existing in a denial-ridden virtual dream-state or facing up to the harsh, difficult realities of life comes down to a blue pill or a red pill—we stand at the precipice of a technologically-dominated matrix of our own making. We are living the prequel to The Matrix with each passing day, falling further under the spell of technologically-driven virtual communities, virtual realities and virtual conveniences managed by artificially intelligent machines that are on a fast track to replacing human beings and eventually dominating every aspect of our lives. In The Matrix, computer programmer Thomas Anderson a.k.a. hacker Neo is wakened from a virtual slumber by Morpheus, a freedom fighter seeking to liberate humanity from a lifelong hibernation state imposed by hyper-advanced artificial intelligence machines that rely on humans as an organic power source. With their minds plugged into a perfectly crafted virtual reality, few humans ever realize they are living in an artificial dream world. Neo is given a choice: to take the red pill, wake up and join the resistance, or take the blue pill, remain asleep and serve as fodder for the powers-that-be. Most people opt for the blue pill. In our case, the blue pill—a one-way ticket to a life sentence in an electronic concentration camp—has been honey-coated to hide the bitter aftertaste, sold to us in the name of expediency and delivered by way of blazingly fast Internet, cell phone signals that never drop a call, thermostats that keep us at the perfect temperature without our having to raise a finger, and entertainment that can be simultaneously streamed to our TVs, tablets and cell phones. Yet we are not merely in thrall with these technologies that were intended to make our lives easier. We have become enslaved by them. Look around you. Everywhere you turn, people are so addicted to their internet-connected screen devices—smart phones, tablets, computers, televisions—that they can go for hours at a time submerged in a virtual world where human interaction is filtered through the medium of technology. This is not freedom. This is not even progress. This is technological tyranny and iron-fisted control delivered by way of the surveillance state, corporate giants such as Google and Facebook, and government spy agencies such as the National Security Agency. So consumed are we with availing ourselves of all the latest technologies that we have spared barely a thought for the ramifications of our heedless, headlong stumble towards a world in which our abject reliance on internet-connected gadgets and gizmos is grooming us for a future in which freedom is an illusion. Yet it’s not just freedom that hangs in the balance. Humanity itself is on the line. If ever Americans find themselves in bondage to technological tyrants, we will have only ourselves to blame for having forged the chains through our own lassitude, laziness and abject reliance on internet-connected gadgets and gizmos that render us wholly irrelevant. Indeed, we’re fast approaching Philip K. Dick’s vision of the future as depicted in the film Minority Report. There, police agencies apprehend criminals before they can commit a crime, driverless cars populate the highways, and a person’s biometrics are constantly scanned and used to track their movements, target them for advertising, and keep them under perpetual surveillance. Cue the dawning of the Age of the Internet of Things (IoT), in which internet-connected “things” monitor your home, your health and your habits in order to keep your pantry stocked, your utilities regulated and your life under control and relatively worry-free. The key word here, however, is control. In the not-too-distant future, “just about every device you have—and even products like chairs, that you don’t normally expect to see technology in—will be connected and talking to each other.” By the end of 2018, “there were an estimated 22 billion internet of things connected devices in use around the world… Forecasts suggest that by 2030 around 50 billion of these IoT devices will be in use around the world, creating a massive web of interconnected devices spanning everything from smartphones to kitchen appliances.” As the technologies powering these devices have become increasingly sophisticated, they have also become increasingly widespread, encompassing everything from toothbrushes and lightbulbs to cars, smart meters and medical equipment. It is estimated that 127 new IoT devices are connected to the web every second. This “connected” industry has become the next big societal transformation, right up there with the Industrial Revolution, a watershed moment in technology and culture. Between driverless cars that completely lacking a steering wheel, accelerator, or brake pedal, and smart pills embedded with computer chips, sensors, cameras and robots, we are poised to outpace the imaginations of science fiction writers such as Philip K. Dick and Isaac Asimov. (By the way, there is no such thing as a driverless car. Someone or something will be driving, but it won’t be you.) These Internet-connected techno gadgets include smart light bulbs that discourage burglars by making your house look occupied, smart thermostats that regulate the temperature of your home based on your activities, and smart doorbells that let you see who is at your front door without leaving the comfort of your couch. Nest, Google’s suite of smart home products, has been at the forefront of the “connected” industry, with such technologically savvy conveniences as a smart lock that tells your thermostat who is home, what temperatures they like, and when your home is unoccupied; a home phone service system that interacts with your connected devices to “learn when you come and go” and alert you if your kids don’t come home; and a sleep system that will monitor when you fall asleep, when you wake up, and keep the house noises and temperature in a sleep-conducive state. The aim of these internet-connected devices, as Nest proclaims, is to make “your house a more thoughtful and conscious home.” For example, your car can signal ahead that you’re on your way home, while Hue lights can flash on and off to get your attention if Nest Protect senses something’s wrong. Your coffeemaker, relying on data from fitness and sleep sensors, will brew a stronger pot of coffee for you if you’ve had a restless night. Yet given the speed and trajectory at which these technologies are developing, it won’t be long before these devices are operating entirely independent of their human creators, which poses a whole new set of worries. As technology expert Nicholas Carr notes, “As soon as you allow robots, or software programs, to act freely in the world, they’re going to run up against ethically fraught situations and face hard choices that can’t be resolved through statistical models. That will be true of self-driving cars, self-flying drones, and battlefield robots, just as it’s already true, on a lesser scale, with automated vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers.” For instance, just as the robotic vacuum, Roomba, “makes no distinction between a dust bunny and an insect,” weaponized drones will be incapable of distinguishing between a fleeing criminal and someone merely jogging down a street. For that matter, how do you defend yourself against a robotic cop—such as the Atlas android being developed by the Pentagon—that has been programmed to respond to any perceived threat with violence? Moreover, it’s not just our homes and personal devices that are being reordered and reimagined in this connected age: it’s our workplaces, our health systems, our government, our bodies and our innermost thoughts that are being plugged into a matrix over which we have no real control. It is expected that by 2030, we will all experience The Internet of Senses (IoS), enabled by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), 5G, and automation. The Internet of Senses relies on connected technology interacting with our senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch by way of the brain as the user interface. As journalist Susan Fourtane explains: Many predict that by 2030, the lines between thinking and doing will blur. Fifty-nine percent of consumers believe that we will be able to see map routes on VR glasses by simply thinking of a destination… By 2030, technology is set to respond to our thoughts, and even share them with others… Using the brain as an interface could mean the end of keyboards, mice, game controllers, and ultimately user interfaces for any digital device. The user needs to only think about the commands, and they will just happen. Smartphones could even function without touch screens. In other words, the IoS will rely on technology being able to access and act on your thoughts. Fourtane outlines several trends related to the IoS that are expected to become a reality by 2030: 1: Thoughts become action: using the brain as the interface, for example, users will be able to see map routes on VR glasses by simply thinking of a destination. 2: Sounds will become an extension of the devised virtual reality: users could mimic anyone's voice realistically enough to fool even family members. 3: Real food will become secondary to imagined tastes. A sensory device for your mouth could digitally enhance anything you eat, so that any food can taste like your favorite treat. 4: Smells will become a projection of this virtual reality so that virtual visits, to forests or the countryside for instance, would include experiencing all the natural smells of those places. 5: Total touch: Smartphones with screens will convey the shape and texture of the digital icons and buttons they are pressing. 6: Merged reality: VR game worlds will become indistinguishable from physical reality by 2030. This is the metaverse, wrapped up in the siren-song of convenience and sold to us as the secret to success, entertainment and happiness. It’s a false promise, a wicked trap to snare us, with a single objective: total control. George Orwell understood this. Orwell’s masterpiece, 1984, portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. And people are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. The government, or “Party,” is headed by Big Brother, who appears on posters everywhere with the words: “Big Brother is watching you.” As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, total control over every aspect of our lives, right down to our inner thoughts, is the objective of any totalitarian regime. The Metaverse is just Big Brother in disguise. Tyler Durden Thu, 11/11/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 12th, 2021

The Metaverse Is Big Brother in Disguise: Freedom Meted Out By Technological Tyrants

The Metaverse Is Big Brother in Disguise: Freedom Meted Out By Technological Tyrants Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “The term metaverse, like the term meritocracy, was coined in a sci fi dystopia novel written as cautionary tale. Then techies took metaverse, and technocrats took meritocracy, and enthusiastically adopted what was meant to inspire horror.” - Antonio García Martínez Welcome to the Matrix (i.e. the metaverse), where reality is virtual, freedom is only as free as one’s technological overlords allow, and artificial intelligence is slowly rendering humanity unnecessary, inferior and obsolete. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, sees this digital universe—the metaverse—as the next step in our evolutionary transformation from a human-driven society to a technological one. Yet while Zuckerberg’s vision for this digital frontier has been met with a certain degree of skepticism, the truth—as journalist Antonio García Martínez concludes—is that we’re already living in the metaverse. The metaverse is, in turn, a dystopian meritocracy, where freedom is a conditional construct based on one’s worthiness and compliance. In a meritocracy, rights are privileges, afforded to those who have earned them. There can be no tolerance for independence or individuality in a meritocracy, where political correctness is formalized, legalized and institutionalized. Likewise, there can be no true freedom when the ability to express oneself, move about, engage in commerce and function in society is predicated on the extent to which you’re willing to “fit in.” We are almost at that stage now. Consider that in our present virtue-signaling world where fascism disguises itself as tolerance, the only way to enjoy even a semblance of freedom is by opting to voluntarily censor yourself, comply, conform and march in lockstep with whatever prevailing views dominate. Fail to do so—by daring to espouse “dangerous” ideas or support unpopular political movements—and you will find yourself shut out of commerce, employment, and society: Facebook will ban you, Twitter will shut you down, Instagram will de-platform you, and your employer will issue ultimatums that force you to choose between your so-called freedoms and economic survival. This is exactly how Corporate America plans to groom us for a world in which “we the people” are unthinking, unresistant, slavishly obedient automatons in bondage to a Deep State policed by computer algorithms. Science fiction has become fact. Twenty-some years after the Wachowskis’ iconic film, The Matrix, introduced us to a futuristic world in which humans exist in a computer-simulated non-reality powered by authoritarian machines—a world where the choice between existing in a denial-ridden virtual dream-state or facing up to the harsh, difficult realities of life comes down to a blue pill or a red pill—we stand at the precipice of a technologically-dominated matrix of our own making. We are living the prequel to The Matrix with each passing day, falling further under the spell of technologically-driven virtual communities, virtual realities and virtual conveniences managed by artificially intelligent machines that are on a fast track to replacing human beings and eventually dominating every aspect of our lives. In The Matrix, computer programmer Thomas Anderson a.k.a. hacker Neo is wakened from a virtual slumber by Morpheus, a freedom fighter seeking to liberate humanity from a lifelong hibernation state imposed by hyper-advanced artificial intelligence machines that rely on humans as an organic power source. With their minds plugged into a perfectly crafted virtual reality, few humans ever realize they are living in an artificial dream world. Neo is given a choice: to take the red pill, wake up and join the resistance, or take the blue pill, remain asleep and serve as fodder for the powers-that-be. Most people opt for the blue pill. In our case, the blue pill—a one-way ticket to a life sentence in an electronic concentration camp—has been honey-coated to hide the bitter aftertaste, sold to us in the name of expediency and delivered by way of blazingly fast Internet, cell phone signals that never drop a call, thermostats that keep us at the perfect temperature without our having to raise a finger, and entertainment that can be simultaneously streamed to our TVs, tablets and cell phones. Yet we are not merely in thrall with these technologies that were intended to make our lives easier. We have become enslaved by them. Look around you. Everywhere you turn, people are so addicted to their internet-connected screen devices—smart phones, tablets, computers, televisions—that they can go for hours at a time submerged in a virtual world where human interaction is filtered through the medium of technology. This is not freedom. This is not even progress. This is technological tyranny and iron-fisted control delivered by way of the surveillance state, corporate giants such as Google and Facebook, and government spy agencies such as the National Security Agency. So consumed are we with availing ourselves of all the latest technologies that we have spared barely a thought for the ramifications of our heedless, headlong stumble towards a world in which our abject reliance on internet-connected gadgets and gizmos is grooming us for a future in which freedom is an illusion. Yet it’s not just freedom that hangs in the balance. Humanity itself is on the line. If ever Americans find themselves in bondage to technological tyrants, we will have only ourselves to blame for having forged the chains through our own lassitude, laziness and abject reliance on internet-connected gadgets and gizmos that render us wholly irrelevant. Indeed, we’re fast approaching Philip K. Dick’s vision of the future as depicted in the film Minority Report. There, police agencies apprehend criminals before they can commit a crime, driverless cars populate the highways, and a person’s biometrics are constantly scanned and used to track their movements, target them for advertising, and keep them under perpetual surveillance. Cue the dawning of the Age of the Internet of Things (IoT), in which internet-connected “things” monitor your home, your health and your habits in order to keep your pantry stocked, your utilities regulated and your life under control and relatively worry-free. The key word here, however, is control. In the not-too-distant future, “just about every device you have—and even products like chairs, that you don’t normally expect to see technology in—will be connected and talking to each other.” By the end of 2018, “there were an estimated 22 billion internet of things connected devices in use around the world… Forecasts suggest that by 2030 around 50 billion of these IoT devices will be in use around the world, creating a massive web of interconnected devices spanning everything from smartphones to kitchen appliances.” As the technologies powering these devices have become increasingly sophisticated, they have also become increasingly widespread, encompassing everything from toothbrushes and lightbulbs to cars, smart meters and medical equipment. It is estimated that 127 new IoT devices are connected to the web every second. This “connected” industry has become the next big societal transformation, right up there with the Industrial Revolution, a watershed moment in technology and culture. Between driverless cars that completely lacking a steering wheel, accelerator, or brake pedal, and smart pills embedded with computer chips, sensors, cameras and robots, we are poised to outpace the imaginations of science fiction writers such as Philip K. Dick and Isaac Asimov. (By the way, there is no such thing as a driverless car. Someone or something will be driving, but it won’t be you.) These Internet-connected techno gadgets include smart light bulbs that discourage burglars by making your house look occupied, smart thermostats that regulate the temperature of your home based on your activities, and smart doorbells that let you see who is at your front door without leaving the comfort of your couch. Nest, Google’s suite of smart home products, has been at the forefront of the “connected” industry, with such technologically savvy conveniences as a smart lock that tells your thermostat who is home, what temperatures they like, and when your home is unoccupied; a home phone service system that interacts with your connected devices to “learn when you come and go” and alert you if your kids don’t come home; and a sleep system that will monitor when you fall asleep, when you wake up, and keep the house noises and temperature in a sleep-conducive state. The aim of these internet-connected devices, as Nest proclaims, is to make “your house a more thoughtful and conscious home.” For example, your car can signal ahead that you’re on your way home, while Hue lights can flash on and off to get your attention if Nest Protect senses something’s wrong. Your coffeemaker, relying on data from fitness and sleep sensors, will brew a stronger pot of coffee for you if you’ve had a restless night. Yet given the speed and trajectory at which these technologies are developing, it won’t be long before these devices are operating entirely independent of their human creators, which poses a whole new set of worries. As technology expert Nicholas Carr notes, “As soon as you allow robots, or software programs, to act freely in the world, they’re going to run up against ethically fraught situations and face hard choices that can’t be resolved through statistical models. That will be true of self-driving cars, self-flying drones, and battlefield robots, just as it’s already true, on a lesser scale, with automated vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers.” For instance, just as the robotic vacuum, Roomba, “makes no distinction between a dust bunny and an insect,” weaponized drones will be incapable of distinguishing between a fleeing criminal and someone merely jogging down a street. For that matter, how do you defend yourself against a robotic cop—such as the Atlas android being developed by the Pentagon—that has been programmed to respond to any perceived threat with violence? Moreover, it’s not just our homes and personal devices that are being reordered and reimagined in this connected age: it’s our workplaces, our health systems, our government, our bodies and our innermost thoughts that are being plugged into a matrix over which we have no real control. It is expected that by 2030, we will all experience The Internet of Senses (IoS), enabled by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), 5G, and automation. The Internet of Senses relies on connected technology interacting with our senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch by way of the brain as the user interface. As journalist Susan Fourtane explains: Many predict that by 2030, the lines between thinking and doing will blur. Fifty-nine percent of consumers believe that we will be able to see map routes on VR glasses by simply thinking of a destination… By 2030, technology is set to respond to our thoughts, and even share them with others… Using the brain as an interface could mean the end of keyboards, mice, game controllers, and ultimately user interfaces for any digital device. The user needs to only think about the commands, and they will just happen. Smartphones could even function without touch screens. In other words, the IoS will rely on technology being able to access and act on your thoughts. Fourtane outlines several trends related to the IoS that are expected to become a reality by 2030: 1: Thoughts become action: using the brain as the interface, for example, users will be able to see map routes on VR glasses by simply thinking of a destination. 2: Sounds will become an extension of the devised virtual reality: users could mimic anyone's voice realistically enough to fool even family members. 3: Real food will become secondary to imagined tastes. A sensory device for your mouth could digitally enhance anything you eat, so that any food can taste like your favorite treat. 4: Smells will become a projection of this virtual reality so that virtual visits, to forests or the countryside for instance, would include experiencing all the natural smells of those places. 5: Total touch: Smartphones with screens will convey the shape and texture of the digital icons and buttons they are pressing. 6: Merged reality: VR game worlds will become indistinguishable from physical reality by 2030. This is the metaverse, wrapped up in the siren-song of convenience and sold to us as the secret to success, entertainment and happiness. It’s a false promise, a wicked trap to snare us, with a single objective: total control. George Orwell understood this. Orwell’s masterpiece, 1984, portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. And people are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. The government, or “Party,” is headed by Big Brother, who appears on posters everywhere with the words: “Big Brother is watching you.” As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, total control over every aspect of our lives, right down to our inner thoughts, is the objective of any totalitarian regime. The Metaverse is just Big Brother in disguise. Tyler Durden Thu, 11/11/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 12th, 2021

24 of our favorite gifts for parents who have everything, from custom breast milk jewelry to a bike for the whole family

If you're looking to gift a parent who needs nothing, these thoughtful gift options are sure to surprise them. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. lisegagne / Getty Images It can be tough to find a special gift for parents, but they deserve to be celebrated. We rounded up our favorite unique gifts that will surprise even the parent who has it all. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. Gifting parents is always hard, but they deserve to be celebrated as much as kids do. After all, they are the ones working around the clock to keep everyone happy, while sometimes also working a full-time job. Yes, becoming a parent sometimes means leaving all your hobbies and interests aside for a little bit, but when the occasion arises to treat them, why not give the parents in your life a cool gift you know they'll love or at least be intrigued by. Because these are original and unusual gifts they likely don't have, some are on the pricier side but we've included some clever, thoughtful budget options as well.Here are 24 of our favorite gifts for the parents who have everything: For the parent who has no time to cook but still loves yummy meals Thermomix Thermomix TM6, available at Thermomix, $1,499While $1,500 may seem like a lot to spend on a kitchen gadget, the Thermomix is considered essential in many European countries and it's easy to see why. It does everything: from weighing ingredients to knowing how much you need to slicing, chopping, and mixing.You can look up thousands of recipes (even in multiple languages) with it and cooking is as easy as following instructions on the screen. Plus, my kids love helping prep food with "the robot," as they call it. If you're looking for an option that doesn't cost as much, we recommend the Cuisinart Complete Chef.  For the parents who want to enjoy some child-free time Breeo Breeo X Series 19 Smokeless Fire Pit, available at Breeo, $349This fire pit is smokeless and so easy to get going. Its secret is just a better ventilation system that pulls up air to reburn the smoke. That means no more moving around the firepit to avoid that overwhelming campfire smell.The fire pit is ideal year-round and will hold up in any kind of weather. You can choose between stainless steel and Corten steel, which gives it a more rustic look, and throw in some extra add-ons for them to cook over an open fire.  For the parents who want to grow their own veggies without much hassle The Farmstand The Farmstand, available at Lettuce Grow, from $348For parents looking to grow their own vegetables at home, indoors or out, there's The Farmstand self-watering and fertilizing tower. It's pretty much plug and play: pop the pods in, fill the tank with water, and just wait for veggies to sprout. For a budget option, we like the Aerogarden for growing veggies right on the kitchen counter. For the parent who wants to enjoy snow play with the kids Funboy Funboy Winter Wave Snow Toboggan Sled, available at Funboy, $79Who said sledding down a snowy hill is only reserved for kids? This colorful inflatable sled can be enjoyed by the whole family. It holds two people, up to 250 pounds, and its durable reinforced bottom ensures they can use it over and over again.  For the parent who is ready to ditch the car Rad Power Bikes Rad Wagon 4 Electric Cargo Bike, available at Rad Power Bikes, $1,899This electric cargo bike will make the trip enjoyable for everyone, and they can alternate between pedaling or using the electric motor. The Wagon safely carries up to two children in bike seats, making it a nice alternative for those who want to ditch the car for school drop-offs. But, it's not made just to carry kids, they can also add accessories for carrying packages and larger cargo.  For the parent who works from home but needs a break from the dining room table The Edge Desk The Edge Desk, available at The Edge Desk System, $399.99Some parents have been working from home for almost two years while also sharing the table with children and other family members and, of course, making room for meals. This desk allows parents to have their own space, but even better, it alleviates back pain from sitting all day.They will basically rest their knees on a pad, sit on a little stool-like seat, and this position ensures they maintain a straight-back posture. It comes fully assembled — one less thing for them to worry about. For the parents looking for some extra fun under the covers PlusOne Plus One Sex Toys, available at Amazon, Target, and Plus One, from $14.99The whole notion that parents don't have sex is just antiquated. They do, and why not have things be more entertaining by adding a Plus One toy? These sex toys come in an array of prices, sizes, and exploration levels. One of Plus One's client favorites is this air-pulsing arouser. For the parents who love exploring new treats from the comfort of home Bokksu Bokksu Subscription, available at Bokksu, from $39.95They'll be ready to explore Japan from home with this subscription service that delivers delicious treats monthly. Every box supports family-run businesses in Japan and helps keep traditions alive. The boxes come with a variety of sweet treats, savory snacks, and teas.  For the parent who loves nail art but has no time to go to the salon ManiMe Mani Me Manicure Sets, available at ManiMe, from $12As someone who loves nail art, these sets have kept my nails happy while not being able to go for my usual manicure. There are plain and nail art sets and they are super easy to apply and remove. They last up to 10 days and are toxin-free.  For the parent who wants to have a really special piece of jewelry Milk & Honey Milk and Honey Breastmilk Jewelry DIY Kit, available at Milk and Honey, $145With this at-home kit, they can make a handful of pieces of jewelry with breast milk, formula, baby hairs, or even placenta bits. It's a truly unique way to immortalize the earth-shattering life event that is becoming a parent.The kit comes with all the materials, including resin, to create custom pieces. If the person you are gifting is not super crafty, you can always give them a gift card so Milk and Honey can make a piece of jewelry for them. For the parent who wants to take gaming to the next level Oculus Oculus Quest 2, available at Amazon and Best Buy, $299The Oculus VR headset allows them to be somewhere else, without leaving their house. It's perfect for both advanced gamer parents and also those just starting out. Oculus offers a wide range of virtual reality games to explore. While my husband enjoys more action-filled and sometimes scary games, I'm more into fun and sometimes addictive games like "Beat Saber" and "Moss." For the parent who loves plants but has little time to take care of them Botany Box The Original Botany Box, available at Botany Box, $54Botany Box ships succulents that will brighten up any corner of their house. Pre-potted and easy to take care of, these little plants are ready to thrive by the nearest window. For the parent who does everything one-handed, even baking KitchenAid Kitchenaid Nonstick Cookie Slider, available at Amazon, Target, and Kohl's, from $19.99Many parents know how to do almost anything with just one hand, simply out of necessity. Baking cookies is an all-time favorite activity for my family, but I often find myself struggling with getting the cookies off the pan one-handed. This slider pan makes it so cookies easily slide off onto a plate.  A fun activity for the whole family to play together Amazon Jenga Giant, available at Amazon, $99.95This giant version of the beloved game is perfect for adults to play outside with friends. But it's also a great way to bring the whole family together inside on a rainy day.  For the parent who needs a little help waking up in the morning Hatch Hatch Restore, available at Hatch, $129.99The Restore combines a soothing sound machine for deeper sleep with a sunrise alarm for a more gentle wake-ups in the morning. Parents can personalize it for their routine and even enjoy guided meditation to help wind down after a long day chasing children. For the parent who wants royalty-style jewelry Merci Mamam The Duchess Necklace, available at Merci Mamam, from $189Kate Middleton has this necklace, customized with her children's names and Prince William's initials. It is beautifully crafted and complements any outfit. You can personalize it for your recipient's family with "boy" and "girl" charms and choose from three metals and different chain lengths. For the parent who needs a better night's sleep Luna Luna Weighted Blanket, available at Amazon, from $54.99I added a weighted blanket after postpartum insomnia left me awake for days after the birth of my twins. This blanket will hug a parent while they lie in bed with 15 pounds of weighted glass beads.Although research is still limited, many people find weighted blankets help reduce their anxiety and add some extra hours of sleep. This one is available in smaller sizes, so if the person you are gifting does not want to share with their partner (like myself and my husband) you can size down. For the parent who gave up alcohol but still likes a yummy beverage Tost Töst All-Natural Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Beverage, available at Amazon, $32Last year, I quit alcohol because, even when having only one drink, I noticed how it affected my sleep and mood. Maybe it was all those sober years while I was pregnant and breastfeeding that changed the way my body processes alcohol. That said, I still enjoy a good yummy drink. Made with white tea, cranberry, and ginger, Töst is the perfect drink for us sober parents.  For the parent who wants a pick-me-up with extra moisture for their skin Skin Proud Skin Proud Frozen Over Moisturizer, available at Walmart and ASOS, from $15.97I'll admit I'm not the best at moisturizing and only recently started doing it because my face was basically begging for it. This Skin Proud moisturizer feels more like a gel and absorbs quickly, leaving my skin feeling soft and happy. What's even better, I can put it in my freezer for a couple of hours for a more cooling effect, ideal after a hot summer day. For the parent who wants to layer up in style State Cashmere The Cropped V-Neck Tank Top, available at State Cashmere, $90This cropped tank is as soft as butter and so incredibly comfortable. Initially, I was confused as to why I'd need anything in cashmere that was not a sweater, but the second I put this tank on I understood why. It's perfect to wear under a buttoned shirt or by itself.  For the new birthing parent who wants short workouts while also being mindful of recovery The DB Method The DB Method Machine, available at The DB Method, $329This machine helps with recovery from diastasis recti, among other benefits like lifting and toning the legs and rear. It is super easy to assemble and can be folded to store under the couch, meaning it won't take up precious play space. Khloe Kardashian credits this machine for her post-baby fitness. For the parent looking to start a new sport Bote Bote Breeze Aero 10′8″ Classic Teak Inflatable Paddle Board, available at Bote, $584.10This inflatable paddle board is lightweight but also super stable. It is ideal for those who are just beginning their paddle board adventures. Since it's inflatable, it's not only easy to store during cold months but also easy to transport in the car with kids.Because of its weight limit, the Bote Breeze is best for solo paddle board adventures. But, if you're looking for a board that can carry a parent and a child (or a dog), this one from iRocker is great because it has a 400-pound weight limit.  For the parent who loves to drink coffee and also support fair trade 44 North Coffee 44 North Coffee Beans, available at 44 North Coffee, from $8Based in Maine, this coffee shop sells its products across the United States and has supporters all over. Its organic coffee is Fair Trade Certified, but more importantly, absolutely delicious. You can gift beans, a gift card, or if they already know and love the brand, some gear. They also have a coffee sampler for those trying to figure out what blend of coffee they like. All bags come whole bean, but they can ground them for you if you send them a note to remind them.  For the parent who has no time for a facial but still wants to look radiant SolaWave Sola Wave Red Light Wand, available at SolaWave, $149Getting a facial is my favorite activity in the world, but since having kids, I've found myself looking for ways to have that spa-like experience at home. My skin needs it; I need it. This wand gives me just that. It combines microcurrent, red light therapy and vibrations to rejuvenate skin, minimize breakouts, and soften fine lines.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 11th, 2021