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Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri is to testify before Congress for the first time, as lawmakers seek answers on child safety

The planned hearing, reported by the NYT, comes after Facebook whistleblower docs suggested Instagram made body image issues worse for some girls. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri.Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri is to testify before Congress for the first time, on child safety, the NYT reports. His scheduled appearance comes after a backlash over internal research leaked by the Facebook whistleblower. The research found that Instagram made body image issues worse for one in three teen girls. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri is to appear before Congress for the first time, to answer questions about child safety on the platform, The New York Times reported. Mosseri is to appear at a subcommittee hearing led by Senator Richard Blumenthal. According to The Times, Mosseri is scheduled to testify during the week commencing December 6.Mosseri confirmed he will appear before Congress in a video posted to his Instagram account.Instagram and Meta are under heightened scrutiny after internal company research leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed the effects that Instagram can have on teen mental health. One of the conclusions from the research, an internal presentation from 2019, was: "We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls."Blumenthal told The Times that Mosseri is "the top guy at Instagram, and the whole nation is asking about why Instagram and other tech platforms have created so much danger and damage by driving toxic content to children with these immensely powerful algorithms."Blumenthal added: "The hearing will be critically significant in guiding us to develop laws that can have an impact on making platforms safer."A spokesperson for Instagram's parent company Meta, formerly Facebook, told The Times: "We continue to work with the committee to find a date for Adam to testify on the important steps Instagram is taking." In a statement at the time the 2019 Instagram teen mental health research emerged, the company said that "we stand by this research," adding: "It demonstrates our commitment to understanding complex and difficult issues young people may struggle with, and informs all the work we do to help those experiencing these issues."After the document was reported on by The Wall Street Journal, Sen. Blumenthal and Sen. Marsha Blackburn announced they would launch a probe into Facebook's internal research.Two weeks later, Mosseri announced Instagram was pausing a project it had been working on to develop an Instagram app specifically for under-13s.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 25th, 2021

Trump says he will "never ever" endorse any Republican who votes for Biden"s Build Back Better plan

Trump's threat comes despite no Republicans expressing support for Biden's $1.75 trillion spending package. President Donald Trump discusses the potential impact of Hurricane Michael during a meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and FEMA Administrator Brock Long in the Oval Office of the White House on October 10, 2018 in Washington, DC.Win McNamee/Getty Images Trump threatened not to support any Republicans who vote in favor of Biden's Build Back Better legislation. "Any Republican in the House or Senate who votes for this Bill will never ever get a Trump Endorsement," he said on Wednesday. The threat comes after 32 Republicans voted for Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill.  Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday blasted President Joe Biden's Build Back Better agenda and threatened not to support any Republican who votes in favor of it. "Any Republican in the House or Senate who votes for this Bill will never ever get a Trump Endorsement," Trump said in a statement, referring to Biden's sweeping $1.75 trillion economic spending package that House Democrats are hoping to pass before Thanksgiving.The bill's framework includes investments that would dramatically boost the country's social safety net, from universal pre-K to an expanded child tax credit. The package also includes billions in funding to tackle climate change. Democrats aim to pass the bill on a party-line vote in both chambers. Senate Democrats are planning to use a process called budget reconciliation to move the legislation forward on a majority vote and bypass the 60-vote filibuster requirement. Still, Trump sent a warning to Republican lawmakers who may choose to vote for the legislation, though no Republican has actually expressed support for it."I understand that a couple Republican Senators may get on board so that they can have yet another and even bigger victory, for the Democrats, while at the same time ensuring massive Inflation and the destruction of our Country as we know it," Trump said in his Wednesday statement.Trump's comments come after 32 Republican lawmakers supported Biden's $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which he signed into law on Monday. Trump has already said he will support primary challengers to those Republicans who are up for reelection in the 2022 midterms. The former president has particularly took aim at Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure legislation."McConnell is a fool and he damn well better stop their 'Dream of Communism Bill' and keep his Senators in line, or he should resign now, something he should have done a long time ago," Trump said, calling the Kentucky Republican a "Broken Old Crow."McConnell has defended his support for the bill, which was negotiated for months."It's a godsend for Kentucky," McConnell said earlier this month. "We have a lot of infrastructure needs."Though Trump has left office, he remains a popular figure in the Republican Party, with many GOP members claiming that his support in the 2022 midterm elections will be important to the party winning back control of the House and Senate. McConnell himself reportedly warned GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, an outspoken critic of Trump, to stop attacking the former president as it may hurt the party's chances next year. Despite Trump's threats, McConnell said last week that he believes 2022 will be "very good" for Republicans.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 17th, 2021

The 15 essentials you should pack while traveling during a pandemic this holiday season

Stay safe this holiday season with these travel essentials that help you minimize exposure to COVID-19 and stay safe and healthy while on the road. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Hispanolistic/Getty Images Holiday travel is safer in 2021 than in 2020 but you should still take precautions to minimize the spread of COVID-19. The best precautions for traveling are getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in public spaces. Additional items like at-home COVID tests and portable hand sanitizer can also help you travel safer. Medical review by: David Aronoff, MD, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyWith rising vaccination rates in the U.S. and around the world, travel is reopening further. Americans are cleared to travel within the U.S. and, if fully-vaccinated, many places abroad, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).However, traveling isn't the same as pre-pandemic or even the same as mid-pandemic: Whether or not you're vaccinated, you need to take precautions when flying or driving. Everyone must wear a mask over their nose and mouth on planes, buses, trains, taxis, and other forms of public transportation.Most countries have other specific rules to visit, including proof of vaccination and certification that you've had a recent negative COVID test. Many experts also recommend taking a COVID test before and after you travel regardless of if it's required.While it's relatively safe to travel, that's only true if you take proper precautions. We've talked to three experts about everything you need to know to travel safely in the fall and winter of 2021, whether you're flying or driving, vaccinated or not.Here are the new essentials everyone should pack before traveling:Vaccine passport: CommonPassN95 mask: Kimberly-Clark N95 RespiratorKN95 mask: Powecom KN95 masks, 10 packDisposable mask: DemeTech DemeMask Surgical MaskFabric face masks: Herschel Classic Fitted Face MaskFace masks with removable filter: Halo Life Nanofilter MaskFace masks for kids: Onzie Mindful Masks (2-Pack)At-home COVID test: EmpowerDX At-Home COVID-19 PCR TestPortable hand sanitizer: Touchland Power Mist Sanitizer SprayTravel-sized disinfectant wipes: Clorox Disinfectant Wipes To GoA smartphone sanitizer: PhoneSoap 3 Smartphone UV SanitizerPacking cubes: eBags Hyperlite Packing CubesTape to help your face mask fit better: Cabeau TapeA mask bracket for added comfort: HeartFormSF Mask BracketReusable bags for safety gear: Stasher Reusable Silicone BagWhat to consider before you goEmilija Manevska/Getty ImagesVaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 virus is the most important and effective way we can reduce the spread and severity of COVID-19, David Aronoff, MD, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Insider during his medical review of this piece."While masks, reduced crowding, and social distancing are among the many things we can do to reduce the spread of COVID-19, vaccination has been shown to protect against getting infected, reduce the risk of symptoms or severe disease, and prevent death," he said.Be sure that anyone in your traveling party (or meeting you at your destination) is vaccinated if they are eligible, and that they've received their booster vaccine doses, which is now available for most people who've already been immunized.Additionally, all travelers should ask themselves before they go: Can I afford to be trapped somewhere if I or one of my travel companions gets COVID and can't travel home? "If the answer is no, stay home," Dr. Aronoff added.If you are traveling, Dr. Aronoff encourages checking your health insurance carefully to find out where and how to seek medical attention if you need it and exactly what your policy covers. Some countries require proof of travel health insurance that covers COVID to enter their borders. Dr. Aronoff also suggested having a plan for where you'd go to get care if you got sick and how you'd quarantine from the people you're visiting.What should be in your travel safety kitImages By Tang Ming Tung/Getty ImagesWhether you're vaccinated or not, driving or flying, remember the basics of COVID travel: Wear the best mask you can (ideally an N95-type mask), making sure it fits snuggly without gaps at the sides (layering two masks can help), and keep your distance from people outside your household as much as possible.Then, pack a portable COVID-19 safety kit, whether flying or driving.Proof of vaccinationAgain, getting the COVID vaccine is the best thing you can do to stay safe and keep other safe while traveling during the pandemic. Many countries require proof of vaccination before entering their borders, and even if you're traveling domestically, it's a good idea to have proof with you just in case a public space or business upon arrival requires it.If you want to travel with your physical vaccine card, we suggest putting it in a protective vinyl casing. But there are also a handful of apps, such as CommonPass and VeriFLY, that allow you to upload proof of vaccine and even connect PCR test results so you have proof of your low-risk all in one place.Card Protector Vinyl Sleeve (small)App (small)App (small)Masks for adultsMasks are required on all airlines, regardless of your vaccination status or where you're flying. They're also recommended for any public place while driving, like public restrooms or service stations.As coronavirus is an airborne virus, wearing a mask is still one of the key ways to reduce spreading or getting COVID, especially in an indoor, crowded place like an airport or airplane, Joyce Sanchez, MD, medical director of the Travel Health Clinic at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin tells Insider.Wearing the right mask the right way helps to protect not only the people around you but the wearer too.Nearly everyone can safely wear a mask, other than those who can't put on or take off a mask themselves. This includes those with chronic lung and heart problems, Dr. Sanchez says. "Even if it feels harder to breathe while wearing a mask, it doesn't actually affect how much oxygen your body gets," she assures.Why are masks so important? Think of the COVID virus like cigarette smoke spreading indoors — it flows throughout the space (beyond 6 feet from the person who exhaled it and around plexiglass barriers) and can hang in the air for hours, even after the person is no longer in the room.Considering its spreadability, and given how contagious the Delta variant is, it's more important than ever to wear a well-fitting mask to both prevent spreading the virus to others and inhaling it yourself.Quick tip: If your mask tends to suction to your mouth when you breathe in, look for a mask with a more structured frame that keeps the fabric away from your lips (like a KN95 mask). Or, insert a frame, like one from HeartFormSF, into a covering you already have.N95-type masks are best now that they're no longer in short supply like early in the pandemic, followed by KN95 masks (both technically called respirators rather than masks). Both seal the sides of the face and top of the nose to minimize any gaps where air can leak, and offer additional filtration of air as you breathe, Dr. Sanchez explains.However, counterfeits are common, so check the CDC's list of approved masks and suppliers. A quick way to tell is that real N95s have straps around the back of the head instead of ear loops and a TC number (e.g., 84A-XXX for U.S.-approved N95s).After N95s and KN95s, a three-layer cloth mask is your next best option. The outside two layers should be a tightly-woven fabric like cotton or linen and the middle a filter fabric, either built-in or added-in by you (a folded paper towel works great).It's important that your mask fits snugly to trap the potentially-infected air particles rather than leaking through the edges of the mask and being directly inhaled, Abe Malkin, MD, MBA, the founder and medical director of Concierge MD LA, tells Insider. Make sure there are no gaps around the edges of your mask — a detail of equal importance regardless of if you're vaccinated or not.Quick tip: If a mask causes your glasses or sunglasses to fog up, that's a sign it doesn't fit properly and is allowing potentially virus-laden air in and out. Use a special tape like Cabeau Tape between the fabric and your skin where there's a gap to create a better seal.If your mask has gaps on the top or sides or if you only have a single-ply mask, it's smart to double up with a disposable surgical-type mask underneath and a tighter cloth mask over top. And if your mask slips down under your nose as you talk, it's a sure sign you need a better-fitting mask.Quick tip: Pack multiple masks. When you travel, you should have enough coverings to wear a fresh mask each day, as well as extras on hand if it gets dirty or wet.It's also important to wash reusable masks daily — a clean-looking mask can be covered with germs, which can spread to your hands and everything you touch every time you take it off or put it on. Wash it as you do your hands, with a minimum 20-second scrub with soapy water and a thorough rinse, then hang it to dry.Skip the neck gaiters and bandanas — early reports that they're worse than no mask at all were likely overblown, but researchers do know real masks are more effective. Plus, many airlines don't allow them anyway.N95 Respirator (small)KN95 Masks (10 Pack) (small)DemeMask Surgical Mask, 50 pack (small)Classic Fitted Face Mask (small)Nanofilter Mask (small)Mask Bracket (5-Count) (small)Tape (small)Masks for kidsA well-fitting mask is the most important factor for anyone, so children should use masks made for kids, Dr. Malkin says, adding "adult masks are too big for them."If kids can help choose their own supplies, it increases the chance they'll use them. Dr. Malkin advises opting for a mask with a character or designs your child likes to increase the chance that they'll keep it on when you're not looking.Mindful Masks (2-Pack) (small)Mickey Mouse masks, 4-pack (small)Smurfs Original Blue Cloth Face Mask (small)Masks are generally required on planes for kids 5 and older, though sometimes it's 2 or older (check your airline's requirements before you go). And Dr. Aranoff advises all kids over 2 years old should wear one in indoor, public places unless they physically can't. The CDC does not recommend masks for children under 2.Kids need multiple masks just like adults, so stash a few extras in their backpacks and in the car, Jagdish Khubchandani, PhD, a professor of public health at New Mexico State University tells Insider.Quick tip: It's super important to model safe practices, Dr. Sanchez says. "If you're wearing a mask, disinfecting your hands, maintaining that distance, and reinforcing those behaviors through what you say and do — children pick up on and mirror that."At-home COVID-19 testMost countries require you to have proof of a negative COVID test to enter. Taking one is a good idea even if you're traveling domestically, especially if you're unvaccinated, the CDC advises.Even if your destination doesn't require it and even if you're vaccinated, it's wise to get a COVID test both before you travel and after you arrive to minimize the chance of spreading the virus to vulnerable people. "If you are planning on visiting others, make sure to get tested to ensure everyone's safety," Dr. Malkin adds.For international or domestic travel, the CDC recommends that people who aren't vaccinated take a COVID test one to three days before you leave, keep your distance from others as much as possible while traveling, and once you return home, take another viral test and self-isolate for a full seven days. If you don't get a viral test, you should isolate for 10 days. Either way, avoid being around high-risk folks for 14 days.As for where to get a COVID test, many towns have free testing sites. But you can also snag an at-home rapid antigen test or, slightly less common, more accurate molecular tests (such as a PCR test). Just remember, the tests aren't 100% foolproof.Many at-home tests require you to mail in a nasal swab or spit tube to be processed in a lab. But newer tests (both antigen and molecular) available in some countries let you get your results online in as little as 45 minutes, with some antigen tests delivering results right in front of you, within 15 minutes. (Just be sore to follow the instructions closely and the tests can give a false negative.)Most tests that are supervised by a health professional over video provide you with the certification you need for flights. Just make sure you know the precise time window to do your test and get the certification back before your flight.When our team researched and tested the leading at-home COVID tests on the market throughout 2021, we found EmpowerDX Nasal to be the most accurate, covered by most insurance or the cheapest test available out of pocket and turns results around within two days of the lab receiving the sample. Dr. Sanchez also recommends the Abbott at-home antigen test kit, which offers six tests for $150.Dr. Sanchez recommends each person bring at least two approved at-home test kits that meet the testing requirements when traveling internationally in case there's a problem with one or you need to re-test. "You do not want to be stuck or delayed in returning home because you have not prepared for that required step," she adds.At-Home Covid-19 Nasal PCR Test (small)BinaxNOW COVID-19 At-Home Test Kit - 6 Pack (small)Hand soap, sanitizer, and wipesTraveling exposes you to tons of germs — viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi — outside of COVID that can cause illnesses. It's super important to clean your hands before and after you eat, in particular. The best way: Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and then dry them thoroughly with a paper or cloth towel (rather than an air blower).But since that's not always possible, the second-best option is to use hand sanitizer. Always pack one with at least 60% alcohol in your carry-on, and rub it all over your hands, even the nooks and crannies, until it evaporates.Antibacterial hand wipes are less ideal since they sometimes contain harmful chemicals and may contribute to antibiotic resistance. But in a pinch, they're definitely better than having unclean hands. Keep in mind that most wipes are formulated for objects and not for skin, Dr. Malkin points out. As with hand sanitizer, the formula needs to be at least 60% alcohol to kill viruses.Power Mist Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer (small)Antibacterial Aloe Wipes (small)Disinfectant wipesKeeping high-touch surfaces clean is important, but don't obsess over disinfecting every surface you come into contact with, Dr. Sanchez told us — you're not at all likely to acquire COVID by touching an infected surface. This is especially true when driving; there's no need to wipe down your car handles or steering wheel, for example.That being said, high-touch surfaces on planes — armrests, tray tables, in-flight entertainment screens — can transmit germs, so it's wise to wipe down surfaces around your seat with a disinfectant wipe.Be sure to clean your phone too — you might be surprised by how dirty it actually is. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for how to clean it and try to use it only with clean hands. (But be careful: Some cleaners can ruin your screen.)Disinfectant Wipes On the Go (small)HomeSoap UV Sanitizer (small)Storage bagsWhen flying, carry-on storage is essential to make it easy to access hand sanitizer and other essential items. Ideally, your carry-on bag has multiple pockets so you can keep things like food and extra masks separate from dirty items. You can also use a small pouch to keep these essentials right on top (we like these durable, zippered pouches from Baboon to the Moon).We also recommend having a few plastic bags available to store dirty masks, in addition to things like used disinfectant wipes or tissues until you can find a trash can. You'll want one for your car and in your carry-on.It's also helpful to have a designated clean storage bag where you can put your mask when you take it off to eat away from dirty surfaces or other people's breath, Dr. Sanchez advises. Avoid placing your mask on a table or your arm to minimize germ contamination.Reusable Silicone Sandwich Bag (small)Dopp Kit (small)What you should leave at homeGlovesYou don't need to bring gloves with you traveling. First of all, COVID-19 is transmitted by breathing, not by touching things and then touching your face. Regardless, germs can live on the surface of a latex glove, the same as skin, Dr. Malkin says. Plus, "some people become too relaxed when they are wearing gloves. They do not realize they are at more risk for spreading [germs] because they are touching multiple personal items in between other things," he adds.Studies have suggested that people who wear gloves tend not to wash their hands as often or notice when gloves get dirty or damaged. It's also easy to contaminate your hands when removing gloves. Plus, we don't need any more COVID-19 waste than we already have.Face shieldsHow important are face shields? "As we do not have data to support the use of face shields in protecting individuals from acquiring COVID-19 in the community setting, they should not be used as a substitute for a well-fitting mask," Dr. Sanchez says.She added that while she saw no downside to adding a face shield to your travel safety kit, "they are not an equivalent substitute for face masks." They might provide protection if someone sneezes in your direction, for example, but they don't protect others from any virus you may be carrying.Is it safer to fly or drive?RuslanDashinsky/Getty ImagesIf you do need to travel, driving is generally safer than flying commercially, Dr. Sanchez says. If you drive, you have control over who shares the car with you, where you stop along the way, and when you return.If you're fully vaccinated and wearing a well-fitting mask, it's generally safe to fly from a COVID-19 transmission standpoint, she adds.Just keep in mind that you're most likely to transmit or catch the coronavirus when in close proximity to an infected person, especially in situations where people aren't wearing masks at all or wearing them properly. That means airport lines are an issue (sitting on the plane much less so, as we'll explain below), as is driving with anyone not already in your household bubble. Eating indoors — since people have no choice but to remove their masks — is high risk.Regardless of your mode of transportation, it's important to be diligent with precautions.Your driving safety planRealPeopleGroup/Getty ImagesRemember that COVID is spread by people breathing and talking, not by touching surfaces. If you're driving, you don't need to wipe down your steering wheel. But it can bring peace of mind to clean your hands before getting in; have hand sanitizer at the ready before and after you eat, and for after you use a gas pump and public restroom, for example.Power Mist Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer (small)Choose restaurants where staff are diligent about wearing masks. Keep your mask on unless you're actively eating or drinking, and try to eat outdoors or in your car.Use public restrooms for bathroom breaks. Pulling over for a roadside bathroom break is actually illegal throughout the U.S. Just wear a mask and try to wait outside in a well-ventilated space for a free stall. If the toilet has a lid, close it to flush. (There's evidence that the coronavirus can spread by flushing.)Dr. Sanchez adds that you should assume public restrooms are not properly disinfected and that surfaces could be covered in many kinds of germs aside from COVID. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and then use a paper towel to dry your hands and turn off the tap and open the door. If you do touch anything on your way out, use your 60%-plus alcohol hand sanitizer.Your airport safety plandmphoto/Getty ImagesAirports — especially with lines at security, boarding gates, and within the plane itself — are risky because of the close proximity to other people. Wear your mask at all times and keep as much distance from others as you can.When the TSA has you lower your mask for identity verification, touch it from the ear loops rather than the middle to avoid transferring any germs on the fabric onto your hands. It's wise to sanitize or wash your hands after you've touched security trays, not so much because of the coronavirus, but to protect yourself from other germs.As for the plane itself, airlines have stepped up their disinfecting regimens. Many use electrostatic foggers nightly — sometimes between every flight. They spray a fine mist of disinfectant throughout the plane, and the electrostatic charge causes it to stick to all surfaces, not just fall to the floor.Though COVID isn't transmitted by touching things, don't assume your flight has been freshly fogged with disinfectant. Planes can be filthy. It's still wise to wipe down everything in your seat area with a disinfecting wipe like Clorox Ultra Clean Disinfecting Wipes; many airlines now hand out disinfecting wipes as you board, too.If you bring your own, look for "disinfecting" and at least 60% alcohol on the label — a cleaning wipe rids your tray table of that splash of Coke, but it won't kill bacteria and viruses. Settle into your seat and wipe down everything you're likely to touch: the seat belt, armrests, the tray table, the air vent, the window-shade handle, and all places you need to touch to operate the entertainment system.Then, thoroughly clean your hands with sanitizer. The TSA increased the size limit for sanitizer during the pandemic, and until further notice, you're allowed to bring one bottle that's up to 12 ounces in your carry-on bag. If you're flying internationally, note that some countries maintain the 3-ounce limit.Disinfectant Wipes On the Go (small)Power Mist Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer (small)You might be worried about sitting in an enclosed space for hours, but the air on planes is cleaner than in many indoor places, and airlines' mandatory mask policies help protect everyone from virus particles that anyone could be breathing out. A September 2021 peer-reviewed, real-world study showed that the risk of contracting COVID-19 on a plane is 0.1% thanks to mask policies, requiring negative COVID tests to fly, and planes' hospital-grade air filtration systems.When a plane cruises, the cabin air refreshes every three to four minutes, using both fresh air from outside and air that's gone through HEPA filters that remove virtually all viruses.However, if you need to eat or drink on a plane, it's wise to wait a few minutes after the people around you have put their masks back on before you take yours off.Minimize moving around on the plane, including wrestling carry-on luggage in and out of the overhead bin. If you need to use the restroom, be sure to close the toilet lid before you flush. After washing your hands for 20 seconds and drying them, use a paper towel to unlock and open the door. Avoid touching seatbacks as you return to your own, both to keep your hands clean (headrests are the dirtiest surfaces inside an airplane cabin) and so you don't disturb other passengers.After your flight, it's smart to avoid crowds around the baggage carousel — wait until space clears before you grab your bag.You'll also want to check your destination's latest COVID-19 rules for arriving passengers. Some countries require everyone, whether vaccinated or not, to have a negative COVID-19 test on arrival and self-isolate until it's confirmed negative.Our expertsFor this article, we deeply researched across leading health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). We also spoke with the following experts:Joyce Sanchez, MD, the medical director of the Travel Health Clinic at Froedtert and the Medical College of WisconsinDr. Abe Malkin, MD, MBA, the founder and medical director of Concierge MD LAJagdish Khubchandani, PhD, a professor of public health at New Mexico State UniversityThis piece was also medically reviewed for accuracy before publishing by Dr. David Aronoff, MD, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 15th, 2021

One chart shows how well Pfizer"s lower-dose vaccine works to protect kids aged 5-11 from COVID

Pfizer's vaccine was 91% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, according to a trial of more than 2,200 kids aged 5-11. A 6 year old child receives Pfizer's low-dose COVID-19 Vaccine in Hartford, Connecticut on November 2, 2021. Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images Pfizer's low-dose vaccine for kids 5-11 is now both authorized and recommended for use in the US. Pharmacies and doctor's offices nationwide should start carrying shots for kids in the coming days. A chart presented to CDC advisors shows how well Pfizer's vaccine prevents symptomatic COVID-19 in this age group. Pfizer's low-dose vaccine for kids is now both authorized and recommended for youngsters aged 5 to 11 years old, allowing the families of roughly 28.7 million children across the US to seek out free COVID-19 shots for them.Roughly one third of parents and caregivers in this age group say they want to get their kids vaccinated straight away - though it may take some time for the shots to reach them, since this version of the COVID-19 vaccine is being shipped out in special vials, with needles designed for smaller arms.The decision to allow vaccination in this younger group of school-aged children, reached jointly - and emphatically - by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, came after both federal scientists and independent expert panels reviewed data about the safety and utility of Pfizer's vaccine in the 5-11 age group.Much of that came from Pfizer's pediatric vaccine trial, which recruited more than 2,200 volunteers ages 6-11 across countries including the US, Poland, and Spain.This chart, based on data from that trial, shows how well the vaccine worked in that age group. It shows, in blue, the rate of COVID-19 infections among kids who got a Pfizer vaccine during the trial. In red, you see the rate of infection among those who got no shot: 16 of 750 children injected with placebo (fake) shots got COVID-19 during the trial, while only 3 of the 1,518 who were vaccinated did. Pfizer / CDC More than 1,500 of the kids in the trial recieved Pfizer's vaccine, while 750 others got fake, placebo jabs, in order to assess how well the vaccine really works at preventing COVID-19 disease.Afterwards, researchers kept tabs on the kids for more than 100 days (during the height of the Delta wave in the US) to track who got sick, and who didn't.Only 3 kids who had Pfizer's vaccine developed symptomatic COVID-19 during the trial, while 16 in the placebo group caught the virus. (The difference is more striking when you consider that the trial was a 2:1 randomization, meaning that there were twice the number of vaccinated kids in it as unvaccinated.) The resulting chart (above) looks quite similar to the ones Pfizer and Moderna drafted after adult trials of their COVID-19 vaccines last year. Vaccine side effects for kids have been generally milder than for adults, with more reports of arm swelling and redness, but less fever and body aches. Scientists said they are confident the vaccine will help curb the rate of children dying from COVID-19"I have vaccinated my kids," CDC advisory committee member Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot said on Tuesday, stressing parents nationwide should feel reassured that the committee was full of parents and grandparents who took seriously their responsibility to ensure vaccine safety for other families. "We have seen the devastation of this disease."COVID-19 has become a leading cause of death in children 5-11 during the pandemic.At least 1.9 million children have been infected, and 8,300 hospitalized (roughly one-third of them treated in the ICU).172 children have died of COVID-19. Complications of the disease in children have included heart issues, and at least 2,316 cases of a rare illness called MIS-C. There have also been cases of long COVID. Children are just as likely to be infected with COVID-19 as adults, and can transmit the disease to their parents and teachers. While it's true that COVID-19 tends to be milder in kids, it's impossible to know exactly which children will get a mild case, and which ones might suffer with more severe disease. According to CDC estimates, vaccinating kids in the 5-11 age group could prevent 600,000 COVID-19 cases from November 2021 to March 2022, and prevent hundreds of hospitalizations of kids. "We do understand that people have legitimate concerns, and they have a lot of questions," Dr. Beth Bell, another committee member said, stressing that the committee's "enthusiasm for this vaccine in this age group," is "based on our expertise." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 3rd, 2021

Student-loan borrowers who default could have their child tax credit payments seized - something that"s "entirely preventable" if Biden cancels student debt now, 105 organizations say

Public Citizen led a letter to Biden stressing the urgency to cancel student debt before the pandemic pause on student-loan payments ends in 2022. A sign is displayed in front of The White House on June 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. Paul Morigi/Getty Images Public Citizen led over 100 organizations in calling on Biden to cancel student debt or extend the payment pause. They wrote that debt cancellation would protect defaulted borrowers from losing their child tax credit payments. Defaulting on debt hurts borrowers' credit scores and can lead to wage garnishment, as well. Falling behind on student-loan payments not only impacts borrowers' credit scores - it can prevent them from receiving critical benefits, like the child tax credit Biden starting sending out in July as monthly checks to families.Over 100 organizations said the 9 million defaulted borrowers cannot afford to lose additional benefits, and the best way to prevent that is student-debt cancellation.Public Citizen, a progressive nonprofit, led 104 organizations last week in sending a letter to President Joe Biden urging student-debt cancellation before payments resume in February - and if he doesn't cancel student debt, they are pushing for an extension of the payment pause. The letter highlighted a number of benefits student debt cancellation would bring to borrowers, the economy, and racial justice, with one of those reasons being protecting borrowers with children who rely on the child tax credit (CTC)."The nearly nine million borrowers who are in default on federal student loans, most of whom are low-income and many of whom have young children, will be subject to having their entire tax refunds including CTC" seized by the Treasury, the organizations wrote."For those student loan borrowers-and, most importantly, for their children-this entirely preventable outcome will unwind one of this administration's signature achievements," they added. "The time to act is now."Biden unveiled a scaled-down $1.75 trillion social-spending framework last week that included a one-year extension of the child tax credit: a benefit of $3,600 per child age 5 and under, or $3,000 per kid between 6 and 17. As Insider reported, many parents are relying on those payments to cover basic expenses, like food and education, helping 61 million kids across the country.But those payments are at risk for parents who are behind on their student-loan payments. Defaulting on debt can cause wages to be garnished and payments like the CTC to be seized until the borrower gets caught up, hurting not only borrowers, but their families, too.Insider previously spoke to David Wise, a 59-year-old borrower with $236,485 in outstanding student loans. A low salary caused him to fall behind on his monthly payments, leading his employer to garnish his wages, pushing him into default."I feel like I've actually been responsible, and I've paid a considerable amount of money on my student loans," Wise said. "But it really is a debtor's prison."Along with the advocacy groups, lawmakers also want to protect borrowers in default. In July, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna Pressley led a group of Democrats in writing a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona with concerns of "plunging" borrowers back into repayment without a plan to protect their credit scores and financial stability.The Education Department is reportedly preparing a "safety net" for when payments resume in February, including a potential "fresh start" plan to automatically erase debt for 7 million defaulted borrowers, but as Politico reported, those plans are not finalized yet and the department has yet to comment on them. While Biden has canceled student debt for targeted groups of borrowers, pressure is building for him to cancel student debt broadly. Newly released documents revealed that a memo assessing Biden's authority for broad student debt cancellation has existed since April - his administration just won't reveal what the memo says."Canceling student debt would ensure we are not punishing those who ultimately could not finish their education with years of default, bad credit, and personal stigma," the organizations wrote. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 1st, 2021

"Corners Were Being Cut": Baldwin Shooting Already Has The Makings Of A Blockbuster Tort Action

"Corners Were Being Cut": Baldwin Shooting Already Has The Makings Of A Blockbuster Tort Action Authored by Jonathan Turley, The fatal shooting at Bonanza Creek Ranch already has the makings of a blockbuster tort action. Within 24 hours of actor Alec Baldwin fatally shooting cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding the director, witnesses have raised serious questions of negligent and unsafe practice on the site for the low-budget film, “Rust.” The question is not whether but when the first torts lawsuit will be filed.  There has already been speculation on the civil and criminal liability in the case, so it may be useful to explore what we know and what it might mean for the likely litigation ahead. We now know from accounts that the movie set was the source of long-standing complaints over safety and working conditions. The production company allegedly required workers to drive 50 miles a day rather than pay for hotels, according to witnesses. Workers complained that this left them exhausted on the set. The site turns out to be the same location used in past Westerns because of its remote and rugged terrain. (As a Western movie buff, one of the movies stood out as a favorite: The Man From Laramie). There were as many as three prior accidental discharges of weapons on the set. The conflicts over conditions on the set reportedly led to a demand that union members leave the set at one point.It does not appear that Baldwin knew that a live round or a projectile was in the gun. There are no reports to indicate that this was anything more than an accident, but police cannot operate under that assumption. Given the labor issues on the set, the possibility of an intentional act cannot be discounted. There is also possible criminal exposure for criminal negligence.It is also important to note that a “live weapon” can refer not to only to an actual bullet being put into the gun but some projectile being present. There could have been material in the gun that a blank round then turned into a lethal projectile like a bullet. There is a question where the lawsuit would be filed. Many of the crew were from California but the set is in New Mexico. The California code contains an ample criminal negligence or manslaughter provision: PART 1. OF CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS [25 – 680.4]   ( Part 1 enacted 1872. ) TITLE 8. OF CRIMES AGAINST THE PERSON [187 – 248] Section 192. Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice. It is of three kinds: (a) Voluntary—upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion. (b) Involuntary—in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony; or in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection. This subdivision shall not apply to acts committed in the driving of a vehicle. (c) Vehicular—… New Mexico has a similar provision that allows “involuntary manslaughter” charges for “the commission of a lawful act which might produce death in an unlawful manner or without due caution and circumspection.” These conditions could be charged as actions taken “without due caution and circumspection.” In one recorded call, a witness refers to an assistant director who was supposed to check the gun for safety. The producers on the set, including Baldwin, could face such exposure. What is clear is that there is an abundance of evidence to support a tort action even at this early stage. Most sets strictly ban or limit live ammunition on the premises and have strict protocols for the use of prop guns. Even blanks have been known to kill actors like Brandon Lee in the movie “The Crow.” The low-budget description of this production could add to questions of whether precautions or protocols were shorted or ignored on the set. The use of a live round (or the presence of a projectile) is itself circumstantial proof of negligence. The family of Hutchins could seek to prove negligence in a wrongful death case through res ipsa loquitur. As Dean Prosser explained, the doctrine is used when “(1) the accident must be of a kind which ordinarily does not occur in the absence of someone’s negligence; (2) it must be caused by an agency or instrumentality within the exclusive control of the defendant; (3) it must not have been due to any voluntary action or contribution on the part of the plaintiff.” A live round in a prop gun does not ordinarily occur absent negligence. The question of the exclusive control of the instrumentality can be challenged but the plaintiff could argue that the production company continued to have such control. The gun was reportedly handed over by an assistant director to Baldwin, who was also a producer. Even without the use of res ipsa loquitur, the negligence of the act seems abundantly clear. This incident could well prove a violation of a statute or regulation making the act “negligent per se.” The violation of a statutory or regulatory standard of care in the use of prop weapons would allow a jury to assume negligence and proceed to questions of causation and defenses. Indeed, even if someone intentionally added the round for nefarious purposes, there was negligence in failing to properly check the prop before use on the set. There are already witness statements that would fill out such a negligence narrative for trial. One crew member is quoted as saying “There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.” Another said that there were three accidental discharges and the set was “super unsafe.” Yet another witness said “Corners were being cut — and they brought in nonunion people so they could continue shooting.” Labor trouble at the site could serve to document such complaints. Labor disputes are often written up by a shop steward or labor representative at a work site. In addition to negligence, there could be claims for the intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress. Anyone who was injured or impacted by the accident could easily make such a claim. It can be more difficult for a bystander like the other members of the crew. New Mexico has an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim that can be based on “reckless” conduct. Here is the jury instruction: To recover for intentional infliction of emotional distress, __________ (name of plaintiff) must prove that: (1) the conduct of __________ (name of defendant) was extreme and outrageous under the circumstances; and (2) __________ (defendant) acted intentionally or recklessly; and (3) as a result of the conduct of __________ (defendant), __________ (plaintiff) experienced severe emotional distress. Extreme and outrageous conduct is that which goes beyond bounds of common decency and is atrocious and intolerable to the ordinary person. Emotional distress is “severe” if it is of such an intensity and duration that no ordinary person would be expected to tolerate it. NMRA, Rule 13-1628 In New Mexico, a claim for NIED is more limited when it comes to bystanders. As shown in cases like Fernandez v. Walgreen Hastings Co., 126 N.M. 263,968 P.2d 774 (1998), bystanders can recover for emotional distress damages only when the injury is caused by a sudden, traumatic event and the plaintiff was aware that the event was causing injury to the victim. In 1968, the California Supreme Court expanded NIED claims in Dillon v. Legg, 441 P.2d 912 (Cal. 1968), to include those bystanders who suffered emotional distress as a result of merely witnessing an accident that caused serious injury to a loved one, despite being outside the zone of danger. However, absent an injury to the witness, it required that the victim be a close family member. New Mexico is considered a “modified Dillon” jurisdiction. New Mexico applies four limitations on bystander recovery: 1) There must be a marital or intimate family relationship between the victim and the plaintiff, limited to relationships between husband and wife, parent and child, grandparent and grandchild, brother and sister, and to those persons who occupy a legitimate position in loco parentis; 2) The shock to the plaintiff must be severe and result from a direct emotional impact upon the plaintiff caused by the contemporaneous sensory perception of the accident as contrasted with learning of the accident by means other than contemporaneous sensory perception, or by learning of the accident after its occurrence; 3) There must be some physical manifestation of, or physical injury to, the plaintiff, resulting from the emotional injury; 4) The accident must result in physical injury or death to the victim. The crew could sue for a reckless act on the set under these rules though members could face serious pre-trial litigation under the elements of these rules. Obviously, the clearest case could be brought by the family of Hutchins as a wrongful death action. They could also seek punitive damages in such a case. Compensatory damages cover both economic and non-economic damages. That includes pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. While rare, New Mexico does not limit punitive damages, which can be sought for torts that are malicious, willful, reckless, wanton, or fraudulent. This case would seem a compelling application of punitive damages. It would have cost little to check the gun before it was used on the set. In my torts class, we often discuss the Learned Hand formula (B = PL), an algebraic formula developed by a famous judge to weigh negligence.  (B = PL). The formula allows a comparison of the burden of avoiding an accident (B) against the probability (P) and magnitude (L) of loss resulting from the accident. When PL exceeds B, then the defendant should be liable. Under the Hand formula, this represented a “small B” or burden case. Conversely, it is also a “high L” case given the risk to life. Moreover, given that any material in the gun can be turned into a lethal projective, the probability factor could be treated as significant.  When you have a small B and a high PL, punitive damages become stronger possibility. If there is a criminal charge, a court could opt to delay any tort action until after the prosecution. However, the statute of limitations is three years for personal injury cases. They need only to file to toll that statute so they have considerable time and any delay due to a prosecution will not undermine their case. Indeed, it could strengthen the case by benefitting from evidence acquired by police and produced by the prosecution. The attorneys for the production company are likely to move quickly to seek settlements of civil claims, particularly with the family. They would be wise to make those numbers as high as possible given the strength of any civil case even at this early stage. In the end, the liability may be delayed but will likely be considerable. What is clear is that personal injury lawyers will view the Bonanza Ranch as aptly named for civil litigation. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/23/2021 - 19:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 23rd, 2021

The 31 spookiest thriller books to read this Halloween

Whether you love a good fictional crime story, mystery novel, or deep psychological thriller, these are the best thriller books. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Whether you love a good fictional crime story, mystery novel, or deep psychological thriller, these are the best thriller books. Amazon; Alyssa Powell/Insider Thriller books are naturally enticing, fast-paced fiction reads with notorious plot twists. The best thrillers offer plenty of suspense and mystery throughout the novel. This list has a wide variety of popular books, including crime and psychological thrillers. Thrillers have taken the book industry by storm over the last several years for one clear reason: They make reading really fun. In a world where so many things compete for our attention, thrillers stand out as gripping stories full of shocking twists and turns. They build up fast and tightly hold our interest as we navigate shadowy hallways and unsolved murders, eliciting an adrenaline rush just from turning the page - making them especially perfect reads for the spooky Halloween season.I've read the vast majority of the books on this list and added the rest based on the rave reviews from fellow thriller nerds. Whether it's a deeply psychological thriller narrative, a fast-paced YA mystery novel, or a crime thriller too scary to read at night, there's a book on this list for every thriller lover.The 31 best thriller books:Best psychological thrillersBest crime thrillersBest mystery and suspense thrillersBest YA thrillersBest horror thrillers Psychological thrillers A psychological thriller with an electrifying twist Amazon "Before She Knew Him" by Peter Swanson, available at Amazon and BookshopSpeaking of throwing books against a wall, this was the first book I ever chucked when the plot twist was revealed — one that I didn't even know was a possibility until I reached the climax. Henrietta has finally found some stability between her bipolar medication and her new home with her husband. When they go to the neighbor's house for dinner, Henrietta notices a unique trophy that definitely belonged to someone who was killed two years ago. Torn between the comfort of her new life and her weakness to find the answer to this unsolved case, Henrietta quickly unravels far more than she bargained for.  Thrill factor: A plot twist that will have you rethinking the entire book. A thriller with multiple truths Amazon "The Silent Patient" by Alex Michaelides, available at Amazon and BookshopThere are four stories here: The one the jury decided, his, hers, and — completely separate — the truth. I love books with "solved" murders that push us to read on to uncover the real truth. One night, Alicia's husband returns home late from his job. She shoots him five times in the face and never speaks again. Confined to a psychiatric ward, Theo — a criminal psychotherapist — is determined to get Alicia to talk and uncover why she murdered her husband. Digging into Alicia's past reveals that there are many things that can drive us to do the unthinkable.Thrill factor: Being sure of the truth just before new information is revealed. A thriller around a kidnapping Amazon "Then She Was Gone" by Lisa Jewell, available at Amazon and BookshopThis one was particularly enticing and dark, the secrets running far deeper and with more complexity than I expected. It's been 10 years since Laurel's then-15-year-old daughter, Ellie, disappeared — and Laurel has never given up hope of finding her. Laurel is swept up in a romance with her new boyfriend and finds herself meeting his nine-year-old daughter, who looks exactly like Ellie did at that age. This is a tightly wound ball of thriller chaos that is so much fun to unravel as you read. Thrill factor: A plot that catches you completely off guard. A deeply psychological thriller Amazon "Behind Her Eyes" by Sarah Pinborough, available at Amazon and BookshopOn Monday morning, Louise discovers her (very married) boss is the same man with whom she shared an amazing kiss at a bar just days ago. Though assuring her it will never happen again, David can't keep his eyes off Louise. What ensues is a complex yet comprehensible web of manipulation and a twist that had me nearly yelling "WHAT?!" by the end.Thrill factor: A baffling realization hiding in the final pages. A chilling thriller all about the little details Amazon "The Push" by Ashely Audrian, available at Amazon and BookshopBlythe is fully committed to being the warm, nurturing mother she never had, but she's convinced that something is wrong with her new baby — she doesn't behave as other children do. As her husband dismisses her fears, she begins to question her sanity. When her second child is born, the familial connections are undeniable...until a devastating event has Blythe (and the reader) questioning everything. Best described as a tour de force, this is an extremely fast-paced thriller that's easy to devour in a day. Thrill factor: A whiplash-y plot that launches you straight into the story. An unsettling marital thriller Amazon "Behind Closed Doors" by B. A. Paris, available at Amazon and BookshopJack and Grace are the epitome of true love, radiating elegance, wealth, and charm, all while never being apart...ever. It's hard to get to know the mysterious Grace because she can't meet for coffee, she never answers her phone, and one of the bedroom windows seems to have bars on it. This is one that masterfully incites panic into a reader, worrying about the characters and desperately needing to know what happens. Thrill factor: The graphic descriptions in the already chilling scenes. A psychological book with family intrigue Amazon "The Next Wife" by Kaira Rouda, available at Amazon and BookshopThis is a guilty pleasure of a thriller: fast, dramatic, and satisfying. Kate had a picture-perfect life with her husband and daughter — until her husband left for a woman half his age. Tish is gorgeous, luxurious, and only a little suspicious of her new husband's previous infidelity. She plans a romantic getaway to fend Kate off, but love and revenge are powerful weapons that tear plans apart. Thrill factor: The dark humor that ramps up the intensity. A psychological thriller that will leave you speechless Amazon "Sometimes I Lie" by Alice Feeney, available at Amazon and BookshopWith an unreliable narrator and more lies than you can count, this thriller is perfectly constructed and the plot is a baffling rollercoaster. When Amber wakes up from a coma, she can't remember what happened, but she suspects her husband has something to do with it. This book alternates between the present, the week before her accident, and Amber's childhood diaries to help us piece together a brilliant psychological twist. Thrill factor: The subtle inflections the narrator assigns to each character. Crime thrillers A dark yet elegant crime thriller Amazon "Behind the Red Door" by Megan Collins, available at Amazon and BookshopMegan Collins became well-known for her debut thriller "The Winter Sister," but I'm here to proclaim that "Behind the Red Door" is the one that should really be in the spotlight. I have never read a thriller that featured characters with such complexity or one where I said "oh NO" out loud so many times. When Fern hears the news that a woman named Astrid has gone missing, she's sure she knows her. Fern's husband is sure that it must be from Astrid's infamous kidnapping 20 years prior, which happened just outside Fern's childhood town but of which she has no memory. When Astrid starts appearing in Fern's nightmares, Fern grapples to understand if it's a dream or a memory with the help of her psychologist father.Thrill factor: The main character's unreliable memory. A chilling stalker thriller Amazon "You" by Caroline Kepnes, available at Amazon and BookshopIf you have yet to be pulled into the Netflix adaptation, resist and pick up the book first! This is the creepiest yet most believable stalker thriller, packed with so many insane developments that you think it can't get any wilder…until it does. Told from Joe's perspective, the book depicts his rapidly growing obsession over a woman he meets in a bookstore, one that morphs and twists as Joe stops at nothing to make himself the center of her world. Joe is the most messed up fictional character I've ever encountered, making this book a fabulously creepy thriller to grab. Thrill factor: The chilling main character. A terrifying serial killer story Amazon "The Whisper Man" by Alex North, available at Amazon and BookshopThis thriller gripped me so much that I read the second half all in one shot and finished at 3:30 a.m. It's about a serial killer and abductor who whispers to children to lure them away from safety. The Whisper Man has been locked away for 20 years, but the patterns of his crimes are emerging once again. The book also threw in a couple of mini-twists at the end that made reading until the very last page exciting. Thrill factor: Wanting so badly to protect the characters. An alluring marital thriller Amazon "My Lovely Wife" by Samantha Downing, available at Amazon and BookshopIn this creepy thriller where we never learn the narrator's name, a married couple does everything married couples are "supposed" to do: Settle down, buy a house, have a kid, and grow horribly bored with their lives. With the thrills building up in nearly every scene, the secret ingredient that keeps their marriage alive is getting away with murder.Thrill factor: The layers upon layers of secrets behind every character. A thriller for the true-crime lovers Amazon "The Night Swim" by Megan Goldin, available at Amazon and BookshopRachel's true-crime podcast gained notoriety after it helped set an innocent man free. When a note begging for help is left on Rachel's windshield, it launches an investigation into the past and present, exploring a town disrupted by a rape trial and a drowning accident from 25 years ago. This is an especially perfect thriller for true crime lovers — it swirls you quickly into the center of this plot and keeps you strapped in for the ride. Thrill factor: The two separate (yet intertwined) mysteries  A multi-POV thriller Amazon "Every Last Fear" by Alex Finlay, available at Amazon and BookshopThis heartbreaking story about familial tragedy is as deep as it is twisty. Matt returns home after a night of partying to be informed that nearly his entire family was killed by a gas leak in their hotel in Mexico. Though it seems like an accident, one FBI agent believes otherwise, but won't disclose why. The deaths make national headlines because this isn't the first time Matt's family has been thrust into the spotlight: his brother is currently in prison for the murder of his high school girlfriend — a murder the public believes he didn't commit. When Matt returns home to bury his family, the connections between his brother's case and his family's accident begin to emerge. Thrill factor: That "look over your shoulder" feeling. A domestic legal thriller Amazon "A Good Marriage" by Kimberly McCreight, available at Amazon and BookshopThis domestic thriller is just as emotional and insightful as it is surprising and exhilarating. Lizzie spends long hours working at her law firm after her marriage slowly crumbled apart. When she gets a call from Zach, her old friend who's currently being held on suspicion of killing his wife, Lizzie knows she has to drop everything and help him. As she begins to piece together what happened to Zach's wife, she finds that maybe their idyllic marriage wasn't so great after all. Thrill Factor: The marital drama and endless secrets. Mystery and suspense thrillers A staple in the genre Amazon "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn, available at Amazon and BookshopAn indisputable thriller staple, this is a great one to pick up if you're just getting into the genre because it will introduce you to some of the nuances of thrillers on which many others are based. In this book, Amy goes missing on her and Nick's fifth wedding anniversary. Dealing with the town breathing down his neck and haunting diary entries from his wife, Nick begins to spin a web of lies around his wife's disappearance. Thrill factor: Carefully sculpted plot twists. A full-throttle, high suspenseful mystery thriller Amazon "No Exit" by Taylor Adams, available at Amazon and BookshopI ignored my family during the holidays because of this book, and I'm not sorry about it! While driving home through Colorado, Darby is caught in a blizzard and forced to wait the storm out at a highway rest stop, stranded with four strangers. When she goes to her car to try and get a signal, she notices a child locked in a cage in the back of a van. Far from police help, Darby must figure out which person is the kidnapper and get the child and herself to safety. This was the tensest I have ever felt reading a book.Thrill factor: The high-speed action scenes. A thriller of multiple marriages (and multiple truths) Amazon "Too Good To Be True" by Carola Lovering, available at Amazon and BookshopWith three points of view (and none of them entirely reliable), "Too Good To Be True" is a thriller about two marriages and the secrets that can uproot well-laid plans. Skye is overjoyed to be engaged to Burke, her seemingly perfect boyfriend who, in a series of letters to his therapist, reveals that he's married and deviously manipulating Skye. The third perspective is of Heather, Burke's ex from 30 years ago. It's a twist-filled read that will leave you wondering how well you know those closest to you. Thrill factor: The feeling of an emotional car crash waiting to happen. A book with a jaw-dropping reveal Amazon "The Wife Between Us" by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen, available at Amazon and BookshopThis is a thriller that thrives on your assumptions. It lets you assume that you're reading the story of a jealous woman, obsessed with her ex-husband's new wife, just to turn everything on its head halfway through this impeccably constructed book. Even when you know something is coming, the twists in this tangled love triangle are utterly shocking. Thrill factor: Questioning our own assumptions. A thriller almost too wild to believe Amazon "When No One Is Watching" by Alyssa Cole, available at Amazon and BookshopSydney is tired of the gentrification of her Brooklyn neighborhood, the homes changing and her neighbors moving faster than she can keep up. She decides to start a deep-dive into the neighborhood's history with her neighbor Theo, but what they uncover instills paranoia and fear as what they once thought were conspiracies are slowly revealed to hold hidden truths. This one is a wild ride with a pile of twists that happen all at once. Thrill factor: The conspiracy theories that might actually be true. A binge-worthy book Amazon "Verity" by Colleen Hoover, available at Amazon and BookshopWhen you open this book, make sure you have no plans for the rest of the day — the first 20 pages or so ease you into the story and the rest of the book is a dead sprint to the end. Little-known writer Lowen has been hired to finish Verity's well-loved book series after a car accident left her in a waking coma. While looking for outlines or notes in Verity's office, Lowen discovers a horrifying autobiographical manuscript that depicts Verity's darkest secrets, kept from her husband and children. This thriller is one gripping scene of action after another, barrelling towards an ending that will have you shoving this book into your friends' hands so they can experience the wild ride for themselves. Thrill factor: The inability to choose which lie to believe. The story of a murderous fashionista Amazon "#FashionVictim" by Amina Akhtar, available at Amazon and BookshopThis book is unassumingly murderous, exciting, and fun. Anya is a fashion editor with an envious wardrobe, a flawless social media presence, a soaring career, and a stack of bodies of those who almost got in her way. When Anya's desire to be friends with Sarah, her coworker, turns into an obsession, the intrigue may turn fatal. There is an unreasonably large amount of murder in this story, which is exactly what kept me interested. Thrill factor: Anya's conniving ability to get away with murder. A suspenseful mystery of a missing woman Amazon "I Am Watching You" by Teresa Driscoll, available at Amazon and BookshopElla nearly intervenes when she sees two recently released convicts flirting with two young women, Anna and Sarah. After Ella decides to mind her business, Anna goes missing — and Ella is still riddled with guilt one year later. But now someone is sending Ella threatening letters, and the gaps in Sarah's account of that night grow wider as Ella realizes someone knows where Anna might be. This is one where the intense plot twist threw so many readers for a loop and settled with a satisfying resolution.Thrill factor: The psychological distress of the protagonist. YA thrillers A heartbreaking YA thriller novel Amazon "See All The Stars" by Kit Frick, available at Amazon and BookshopI was not in the least surprised to learn that Kit Frick is also a poet. This book is teenage heartbreak mixed in a swirl of emotional prose and confounding thrills. Told between then and now, Ellory returns to her senior year of high school riddled with guilt, anxiety, and loss. As you read, you'll sort through the lies to find the truth to Ellory's pain. The whole book leads up to discovering the event that tore apart the main character's world, so you always have the feeling that something is coming… but you never know what might be around the corner. Thrill factor: A potentially unreliable narrator. A compulsively readable YA thriller Amazon "Lies You Never Told Me" by Jennifer Donaldson, available at Amazon and BookshopThis is another book that I finished in one sitting, the two seemingly unrelated storylines leading to a climax so shocking, I'm not sure I even blinked until I finished the book. It follows Gabe and Elyse, complete strangers with similar secrets. They each fall for the wrong person and make one bad choice that spins their lives out of control. When you have no clue what you're looking for, a thriller's twist can hit you like a brick wall (in a good way!) and that's exactly what this book did to me. Thrill factor: Two different tales with unsettling similarities. A twisted teenage tale Amazon "The Cheerleaders" by Kara Thomas, available at Amazon and BookshopFans of "Riverdale" and high school thriller will undoubtedly devour this YA novel. The cheer squad at Sunnybrook High was disbanded after the death of five cheerleaders, all unrelated but close together. Five years after the deaths, the community is finally ready to move forward — except for Monica, who just discovered letters and an old cell phone in her stepdad's desk. I accidentally read most of it in one sitting just because the story flows so smoothly.Thrill factor: The flashback snippets providing little clues. An investigative YA thriller Amazon "A Good Girl's Guide To Murder" by Holly Jackson, available at Amazon and BookshopIn this YA thriller favorite, the case is already closed. Sal Singh murdered Andie Bell five years ago. Everyone knows he did it — except Pippa, who chooses to investigate the murder for her senior year project. As she begins to uncover long-buried secrets, there might be some who need the truth to stay buried lurking in the shadows. If you love true crime, murder mysteries, and unstoppable young women, this is the perfect easy-read thriller to grab. Thrill factor: The feeling of investigating alongside the protagonist. A thriller version of "The Breakfast Club" Amazon "One of Us is Lying" by Karen M. McManus, available at Amazon and BookshopThis YA thriller uses spectacular character development and dramatic, unreliable rumors to create a whodunnit thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end. On Monday's detention, five students walk in and one never walks out. Simon, now dead, planned to post high-profile secrets about the others the next day, making the other four students murder suspects in the ensuing investigation. There's a lot of depth to this book besides the thrill ride, which makes it even more satisfying to read.   Thrill factor: The equal probability of every suspect's guilt. Horror thrillers A paranormal thriller novel Amazon "Home Before Dark" by Riley Sager, available at Amazon and BookshopRiley Sager has published four great thrillers so far but this one's my favorite. In this spooky and paranormal haunted house thriller, Maggie returns to restore the recently inherited home that made her family famous. Her father wrote a non-fiction bestseller based on their family's three-week stay in the home before they were forced to flee in the night. Not only was Maggie too young to remember what happened; she doesn't believe any of it is true. I genuinely had a great time reading this thriller — it was so much fun to feel the fear and expose the truths of this house alongside Maggie.Thrill factor: Skepticism and doubt mixed with a foggy memory. A haunted "smart" house Amazon "The Turn of the Key" by Ruth Ware, available at Amazon and BookshopRuth Ware is another notorious thriller writer and this is my favorite of her books so far — and was actually too scared to read it alone at night. It takes place in a technologically advanced home in the Scottish Highlands, where Rowan is hired as a live-in nanny and earns an outrageous salary. Told in the form of a letter from Rowan to her lawyer, she recounts the events from her arrival at the home to the death of one of the children. This story is so immersive and scary that I had to remind myself more than once that it's just a book.Thrill factor: Technology's role in generating unease. The tale of a spooky motel Amazon "The Sun Down Motel" by Simone St. James, available at Amazon and BookshopThis book is filled with so many vivid and borderline violent scenes that build tension throughout the story. Viv works at a 1982 roadside motel to pay for her move to New York City. As the secrets of the motel and its guests begin to reveal themselves, the nights seem to grow darker and darker. Once I finished this book, I felt like I could exhale for the first time in days — I was so satisfied with the resolution. Thrill factor: Realizing that the deeper the shadows, the more secrets that can hide within. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 21st, 2021

How Afghan E-Commerce Startup Aseel Is Pivoting to Help Its Compatriots In Need

Aseel used to find global buyers for Afghan art. Now it uses its platform to get food to the country's most desperate When Mohammad Nasir went to a camp for internally displaced refugees in Kabul for the first time, people swarmed around him, trying to get their hands on packages of food he was carrying. In the desperate scrummage, Nasir was dragged around and manhandled, his clothes torn. “It’s a terrible feeling when someone is asking you for food and you can’t help because you have limited resources,” the 25-year-old says of that late August visit. Nasir is a staff member of Aseel, an e-commerce startup that created a marketplace for rural artists in Afghanistan. The platform has enabled more than 400 artists to sell their handmade pottery, embroidery and jewellery to people around the world. Since the Taliban took control of the country in August, however, the company has switched focus to allow its global customers to buy food and medicine for Afghans. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “We are now using the supply chain that we created earlier to focus on the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan,” Nasir says. The situation is desperate. With a cash-strapped Afghan economy facing rampant food shortages and inflation, the United Nations has warned that millions of Afghans could run out of food as winter approaches. A million children face the risk of starvation and death if their immediate needs are not met and many rural areas may be cut off by snow as the bad weather sets in. Read More: How Female Afghan Governor Salima Mazari Escaped the Taliban The situation “is magnifying and accelerating at an incredible pace,” warns Mary-Ellen McGroarty, the Afghanistan country director for the World Food Programme (WFP). To be sure, Afghanistan faced food shortages before the Taliban came to power. The country is one of the most vulnerable to the effects of rising temperatures, and has faced two major droughts in three years. According to the WFP, 14 million Afghans face food insecurity. “In large parts of the country, farmers have just watched their lands and crops disintegrate into dust,” McGroarty says. But the situation has deteriorated markedly since the Taliban seized power, forcing international aid agencies to evacuate their staff. Humanitarian aid flowing into Afghanistan has also slowed down as the U.S. and other Western countries figure out how to deal with a regime that they have fought for years. In late August, President Joe Biden’s administration froze Afghan government’s reserves, worth $7 billion, held in U.S. banks. Courtesy Aseel Aseel workers convene at Logar province, Afghanistan, for the distribution of food and medicines on Oct. 2, 2021 Helping to rebuild the Afghan economy Watching this crisis unfold in his country from afar in London, Aseel founder Nasrat Khalid knew it couldn’t be business as usual. The 30-year-old started the platform in 2017 to promote Afghan art. Having grown up as a refugee in Pakistan, Khalid had always wanted to use his self-taught coding and technology skills to help people in his country—and it was only natural to shift Aseel’s focus to humanitarian aid at this critical juncture. “If there are tools to order food and get it delivered in 10 minutes, it’s also important to have a tool for people who were failed by the global system to get food for survival,” he tells TIME. Aseel now sells emergency food packages—consisting of rice, flour, cooking oil, lentils and tea—which people from around the world can buy on the company’s website or app. They also sell first aid kits, diapers and formula for babies, as well as tents, scarves and blankets. The company uses previous relationships with vendors to source the materials. So far, Aseel has distributed food and medicines to more than 1,400 families across different provinces in Afghanistan. Read More: The Man the U.S. Didn’t Mean to Kill in Afghanistan The rapid pivot has meant pausing the company’s mid-term plan to add every Afghan artist to its platform by 2022, and create thousands of jobs in the country by 2023. “No one is going to be talking about the economy or trade now,” Khalid says. “You cannot build nations and institutions on empty stomachs.” The company’s situation is emblematic of the plight of Afghanistan’s startup scene, which flourished in recent years and played a major role in creating jobs. But regime change has forced many startups to shut down or change their operations, fearing for the safety of their staff. Aseel had to halt operations after the fall of Kabul. Most staff members stopped working for a few weeks as they tried to cope with their new reality. Some fled the country. Many other Afghans who could have left have stayed back, however, among them Nasir—an only child with parents to look after. Watching people evacuate to safety wasn’t easy for him. But, he says, “I was waiting for the evacuation to end so that I could stop thinking about it and instead focus on working for Afghanistan.” Before the rise of the Taliban, his job consisted of traveling to rural parts of the country to seek out artisans willing to list their products for sale. He took photos and wrote stories about the products, before assisting with shipping. “We were trying to bring a big technology revolution for Afghan artists, especially for women in rural areas,” he says. Read More: How You Can Help the People of Afghanistan He now spends most of his day scouting refugee camps and the neighborhoods of Kabul to find people in need of food and medicines. On weekdays, he works with his team to compile a list of people in need of aid, then processes orders and matches them with beneficiaries. During the weekend, Nasir and his team go around the city to distribute packages. Outside Kabul, the company has a network of volunteers, among them artists they have worked with in the past, to find people in need of food and to distribute aid. Nasir says he doesn’t know what the future holds for him and his country. But what keeps him going is the spirit of Afghans and the willingness of people to help. “If nobody is going to take responsibility for our country and our people, it is on us,” he says. “Someone has to do it.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 19th, 2021

The 5 best fire pits of 2021 to keep warm in the backyard or while camping

A fire pit brings warmth to outdoor hangouts during the fall and winter, be it in a backyard or while camping. Here are the five best we've tested. BioLite Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky A fire pit warms up any outdoor area, creating a relaxing space for family and friends to enjoy year-round. The best are easy to light and channel smoke away from the pit - some even allow you to grill food on them. Our top pick, Breeo's X Series 24, is a stylish and solidly built fire pit that can also help you cook dinner. There's no question that gathering around a fire with friends and family is a fun and communal outdoor experience, even when it starts to get colder during the fall and winter months. Whether you're making s'mores and telling ghost stories with the kids, catching up with the neighbors over drinks, or just stargazing with a partner, the warmth and light of fire are incredibly relaxing. These kinds of experiences are so popular now that buying a fire pit has become standard practice for homeowners. But with so many different options to choose from, it's not always easy to know which ones are worth investing in.Having spent many a night huddled around my own assortment of fire pits both in my backyard and on many camping trips, I've become accustomed to this brand of relaxation. And although there's no shortage of fire pit variety available for purchase, I've learned along the way the best qualities that make some worth owning over others.So, no matter if you want a fire pit that runs on propane, one that's highly portable, or something that burns wood, there's an option for everyone - and I've rounded up my five favorite below from brands like BioLite and Breeo.I've also included answers to a few fire pit FAQs and fire safety tips, as well as how I tested each of the models featured to decide which made the cut. Here are the best fire pits:Best overall: Breeo X Series 24Best smokeless: BioLite FirePit+Best propane: Outland Living Fire BowlBest portable: Snow Peak Pack & Carry FireplaceBest on a budget: Kingso Outdoor Fire Pit Best fire pit overall Breeo Durable, versatile, and beautiful, the Breeo X Series 24 is an outstanding fire pit that serves as a hub for outdoor entertainment, can help you cook dinner, and looks like a piece of art all at the same time. Pros: Looks great, incredibly well-built, doubles as a wood-fired grill, high-quality components, and lifetime warranty.Cons: HeavyWhen Breeo created its new X Series line of fire pits, a lot of time was spent on design and engineering. The result is a fantastic model that includes integrated airflow technology that makes it easier to get a blaze going while keeping the level of smoke that's produced to a minimum. The company also chose to manufacture the X line from high-quality Corten steel, which allows it to naturally weather over time. This gives it a unique, timeless look that isn't found in most other fire pits. In fact, the level of craftsmanship on display here is head and shoulders above just about anything else on the market, which in turn allows Breeo to confidently back its products with a lifetime warranty.Large enough to accept big logs, the X Series 24 keeps a flame going for hours. Its 24-inch opening makes it easy to continue to feed the blaze for as long as you like. And since this model is nearly 30 inches in diameter, there's plenty of room for people to gather around it to bask in warmth and comfort.As good as the X Series 24 is as a fire pit, it might be even better as a wood-fired grill. The stainless-steel outer ring makes for a nice cosmetic touch, but it actually doubles as a sear plate, sizzling steaks, burgers, chicken, or just about anything else you'd want to grill. This model is also compatible with Breeo's Outpost Grill add-on (which we didn't test at this time) that opens up the possibilities for cooking a meal even further. This optional accessory seamlessly connects to the fire pit while cooking but can just as easily be removed once the meal is done. Breeo's X Series 24 is incredibly well-built and is an upscale product in every way. Unsurprisingly, this makes it one of the more expensive models in our guide at $579. Because it's made with premium materials, it's also a bit heavy, weighing in at 78 pounds — so, don't expect this model to be especially portable. That said, if you're looking for a quality and dependable fire pit designed to last — that also doubles as a reliable grill —the X Series 24 from Breeo is what you seek. Best smokeless fire pit BioLite Technology and design come together in the BioLite FirePit+, a model that not only excels at grilling but comes equipped with an onboard rechargeable battery pack and a unique airflow design.Pros: Great for grilling, burns both wood and charcoal efficiently, integrated fan and battery pack make starting a fire easy and keeps the FirePit+ relatively smoke-free.Cons: The battery pack needs to be recharged regularly.BioLite's original FirePit has been a staple in this guide, so it should come as no surprise that I'm equally as thrilled about its second-generation FirePit+. And it's not just a carbon copy of the first iteration with a new colorway — it actually features some significant upgrades.Most notable among the FirePit+'s upgrades is a new body design that helps radiate more heat outward, something that's been much appreciated during colder shoulder season nights (and even during a few ambitious winter evenings when it was frigid). It also now has a new enamel coating that better holds up to high temperatures and allows for easy cleaning.Even the onboard battery pack got an upgrade, as it's now a 12,800 mAh battery capable of running the fan for far longer compared to the first FirePit. And why would a fire pit need a fan, you ask? For starters, it helps keep air flowing inside the unit itself, which not only allows the fire to burn more efficiently but keeps the amount of smoke produced at a minimum. FirePit+ owners can control the speed of the fan using a button on the device itself or via their smartphone over Bluetooth. Made from a material BioLite calls X-Ray Mesh, the FirePit+ is unique and stylish looking, too. Its mesh sides allow it to keep the fire — and any errant embers — from escaping, while still providing a 360-degree view of the flames.In addition to making a great fire pit, the FirePit+ also doubles nicely as a grill. Because it burns wood and charcoal, it has a high level of versatility. The FirePit+ even comes with a removable grill grate that facilitates hibachi-style cooking. Simply slide the grate into place and you'll be cooking up burgers, hot dogs, steaks, and a variety of other items in no time. And since the FirePit+ weighs less than 20 pounds — and comes with folding legs — it's easy to take with you on camping trips, to the beach, or while tailgating. But do remember to keep the battery charged. If you forget to recharge the power cell on a regular basis, you run the risk of the fan running out of juice. This isn't the end of the world but it does take away some of the shine that helps the FirePit+  rise above its competition. Best propane fire pit Amazon For the ultimate in convenience, it's tough to top the Outland Living Fire Bowl, a propane-powered fire pit that looks great, burns efficiently, and can produce a flame in seconds. Pros: Uses propane as a fuel source, looks great, fast and easy to use, and is smoke-freeCons: Not as versatile as wood-burning models and if you run out of propane you won't be able to maintain a fireWith its sleek, modern design, low profile, and efficient helios burner, the Outland Fire Bowl is a fire pit built for anyone who places a high value on convenience. Thanks to its ability to use propane as a fuel source, this unit can have a flame going in a manner of seconds. This makes it an ideal choice for someone who doesn't have the skills, patience, or inclination to build a fire by hand.It also opens the door for more frequent use simply because it is so easy to start the Fire Bowl up, enjoy a fire for a short time, then shut it off again. Something that a regular wood-burning model simply can't match.  Propane fire pits have other benefits above and beyond just speed and convenience. They also happen to burn more cleanly, which means you won't be dealing with smoke, ash, or soot. This not only makes them easier to keep clean, but also more fun to use, whether it's in the backyard, while car camping, or tailgating at the game. Unlike some propane fire pits, the Fire Bowl doesn't have a push-button ignition which means you'll still have to use matches whenever you want to get a fire going. Once the flames start burning, however, you can adjust the size and intensity of the blaze with the simple turn of a knob. Having this level of control over your fire pit is a real game-changer, although you'll want to make sure you always have an extra propane tank around to avoid running out of gas in the middle of a gathering.Outland ships the Fire Bowl with some handy accessories, including a  pre-attached 10-foot hose and regulator, a stabilizing ring for the propane tank, and lava rocks to put inside the fire pit itself. The unit also comes with a cover and a carrying case, both of which are nice additions when it comes to keeping the Fire Bowl well protected from the elements. Lightweight, easy to set up and use, and affordable, the Outland Fire Bowl is an excellent option for those who want a fire pit without having to deal with the actual fire. While it isn't as versatile as some of the wood-burning options on this list, it does its job very well.  Best portable fire pit Snow Peak When it comes to portability, the Snow Peak Pack & Carry Fireplace is our go-to option. This model is lightweight and collapses down for ease of transport while offering excellent durability and performance wherever you take it. Pros: Lightweight and collapsible, the Snow Peak Fireplace is very easy to transportCons: Limited features out of the boxMost companies that manufacture fire pits don't take into account weight and portability when designing them. After all, the vast majority of these products will be installed in a backyard and likely aren't moved very far after that. But if you do happen to need a fire pit that you can take with you, you're in luck. Snow Peak's Pack & Carry Fireplace is exactly what you're looking for. Snow Peak is a Japanese outdoor brand that is well known for making clever and well-built products for camping. The Fireplace is a perfect example of this, as it features a design that is both simple and brilliant at the same time. This fire pit actually has the ability to collapse down and fold flat, which makes it extremely easy to carry with you to any outdoor setting. And since it weighs just 11.9 pounds and comes with its own carrying case, there really isn't any excuse to leave it behind.Once you reach your destination, the Fireplace expands back into its regular shape in a matter of seconds, with wide, rounded-off legs securely holding it in place even when resting on uneven terrain. A series of small holes in the fire pit's frame help to facilitate airflow, while its bucket-like receptacle can hold moderate-sized pieces of wood. Because it has a wide opening, visibility is great from all angles, and adding more wood to the fire is safe and easy.Despite its ability to collapse flat, the Fireplace is well-engineered and very durable. Made from high-quality stainless steel, this model is designed to withstand the elements and be transported from one location to another on a regular basis. Because it is made of rugged metal, however, it does take a bit of time to cool down after the party is over.Out of the box, the Fireplace doesn't have a lot of features or frills, although Snow Peak makes a number of accessories that extend its use even further. The company offers an array of cooking utensils for instance, and a grill top allows owners to cook over the fire. Without spending extra money on those add-ons, however, this model isn't quite a versatile as some other options.  Best budget fire pit Amazon Sturdy and durable, the no-frills Kingso Outdoor Fire Pit is affordable enough that anyone can add one to their backyard.Pros: Attractive, inexpensive, and comes with some handy accessoriesCons: Not weather-resistant, requires some assembly, not a lot of frillsWho says you need to spend a lot of money to get a quality fire pit for your backyard? The Kingso Outdoor Fire Pit may not have all of the bells and whistles found on the other models on this list, but it is durable, good-looking, and gets the job done. It also happens to be so affordable that it won't do much damage to your wallet. Even though this model is priced surprisingly low, the Outdoor Fire Pit isn't entirely without its amenities. Kingso does ship this model with a mesh cover that prevents sparks from escaping the flames without obstructing the view in any way. It also comes with a metal poker that makes it easy to safely remove that lid and adjust logs while the fire is going. Lightweight and relatively compact, the Outdoor Fire Pit is made of rugged, heat-resistant steel. This makes it easy to move around or even take with you on a camping trip should you choose. Sadly, however, the metal used in its construction is not particularly well suited for resisting the elements. In fact, the manufacturer recommends that you take it inside when not in use in order to avoid rusting. This model isn't fully assembled out of the box, although it doesn't take particularly long to put it together. Once all of the parts are locked firmly into place, the fire pit proves to be very stable, even on uneven ground. Its 22-inch bucket can hold a surprising amount of wood and can comfortably accommodate a small gathering of people. That said, this unit is a bit smaller than the others on this list, which makes it a good choice for those with a smaller deck or patio. The real selling point of this particular model is without a doubt the price. For less than $60 you can own a reasonably well-made, portable, and attractive fire pit. While not as well constructed or feature-rich as more expensive options, as long as you're aware of its limitations going in, the Outdoor Fire Pit is a good buy.  Fire pit safety tips You should always take proper care when starting a fire, as well as putting one out. We strongly advise against using any of these fire pits if you lack the experience and recommend consulting an expert before using them.You should also double-check where you can and can't start a fire, be it in a residential setting or while camping. Not all campgrounds allow fires but in those that do, it's important to understand the guidelines. It doesn't hurt to take note of Smokey Bear's fire safety rules, either. FAQs How do you clean a fire pit?It's important that you first wait until your fire pit is completely cooled off before attempting to clean any part of it. Ideally, you'd clean it on a day when you haven't used it at all.Actually cleaning the pit is a straightforward process. First, unhook any propane tanks or unplug any cords, and then remove all ash, burned wood, and debris from inside. You can then use some dishwashing soap (the grease-cutting kind tends to work best) and a warm cloth or scrub brush to scrub the inside of the pit. It's recommended you wear some kind of protective gloves, and be careful not to get any electronics wet in the process. Let the fire pit fully dry (especially for those that plug into a wall or use some sort of battery) before using them again. Fire pits that just use wood can be used immediately.How do you put out a fire in a fire pit?If you're using a fire pit that burns actual wood, you'll want to make sure you effectively extinguish the blaze before leaving it. To do so, douse the flame with water and stir the ashes with a poker or stick. You should see the coals start to cool off. If they're still lit (and the pit still feels warm), pour more water over them. Don't leave the pit until it's entirely cooled off. For propane fire pits, many just require you to turn off the propane (or turn off the pit via a built-in switch) and they'll completely turn off. Check the owner's manual for proper operation as some may differ from others. You'll always want to have some sort of emergency extinguisher nearby should any fire get out of control, too. This could be anything from a bucket of water set somewhere close, a nearby hose turned on and ready to use, or even a fire extinguisher. If a fire becomes unruly, call 911 immediately. What should I look for in a fire pit?While the concept of a fire pit has been around for centuries, modern versions elevated the concept to new heights. Thanks to a blend of innovative engineering and thoughtful design, today's fire pits not only look great but are highly functional, too. Strategically placed vents, air holes, and tubes make starting a fire easier than ever, while at the same time channel away excess smoke. This makes for a much more enjoyable experience for everyone involved, while allowing you to walk away without the smell of smoke on your clothes or in your hairModern fire pits come in all shapes and sizes, too, ranging from small, portable, wood-burning models, up to massive propane-powered structures permanently installed on a patio. No matter which size or model you choose, it's likely to become the centerpiece of your outdoor space anytime a fire is lit. It also provides plenty of heat and light, allowing you to enjoy being outdoors even during the colder times of the year.Some fire pits even make excellent grills, allowing you to cook entire meals over a flame. But most important of all, they're a safe way to enjoy a bonfire in your backyard, without fear of the fire getting out of control.  How we test fire pits Each fire pit featured in this guide went through a series of tests to see how it compared across these four categories: Ease of use, versatility, design, and value. Specifically, here's how each category factored into which fire pits we ultimately included:Ease of use: If you're unable to easily start a fire, what good is a fire pit really? While no fire pit is as easy as snapping your fingers, some are designed not just for easy fire starting but also in keeping the flame lit and full for several hours. If it feels like a chore to get it lit and to stay burning, you're less likely to want to use it very often.Versatility: A fire pit's sole job is to, well, be a fire pit but there are some (i.e. BioLite's aptly named, FirePit) that come with additional functionality such as being able to throw a grill on them and barbecue some food or pack down small enough to be portable enough for camping trips. Of course, we still considered home-specific fire pits that excelled at their lone purpose but did make not of multi-faceted options where necessary.Design: The design of a fire pit affects which models made this guide in a number of ways. First, a poor design could mean that the fire may burn out more quickly or that it doesn't quite ration the wood as well. A bad design can also just be an eye-sore, and if it's something you're looking to keep in your backyard, it's likely you prefer one that not only maintains fire but looks good doing it.Value: Value is the sum of the categories above, as well as some attention toward its actual price. Though it's ideal to not have to spend a fortune on a simple fire pit, it's smart to invest in something that's premium and high quality as opposed to spending less money more often on a cheaply-built model.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 18th, 2021

How To Evaluate Potential Tenants For A Rental Property

Venturing into the real estate marketplace can be an intimidating and outright terrifying undertaking. Apart from raising the capital needed to break into the field, many landlords have to deal with the risk of taking up new tenants. There’s no denying that the success of any rental income property relies on the kind of tenants […] Venturing into the real estate marketplace can be an intimidating and outright terrifying undertaking. Apart from raising the capital needed to break into the field, many landlords have to deal with the risk of taking up new tenants. There’s no denying that the success of any rental income property relies on the kind of tenants that use it. For this reason, landlords must put lots of thought into the tenant selection process to ensure their property remains profitable. When you have excellent tenants, you wouldn’t have to worry about the safety of your property or receiving the rent in time. However, problematic tenants only breed stress, worry, and constant confrontation. 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 Therefore, landlords must conduct a thorough evaluation of prospective renters to ensure they find a suitable tenant. Screening them can help property proprietors save thousands of dollars in lost revenue, damages, and court costs and fees. Essentially, this includes running a credit check, confirming earnings, checking criminal backgrounds, and more. Fortunately, nowadays, verifying proof of income for an apartment has been made easier. Landlords can choose between conducting the screening themselves or hiring professional help. Regardless of how you go about this, there are a few factors all landlords must consider when screening potential tenants. This article highlights these principal factors to help shed light on how proprietors should conduct proper tenant screening. Pre-Screen Potential Tenants Before asking prospective tenants for applications, it's always a good idea to conduct a pre-screening. One of the best ways to do this is by asking applicants a few pre-screening queries to ascertain whether they're a good fit. This process could save you the hassle of conducting a full background check. What's more, you can leverage the power of the internet to seek more insight into your potential tenants. Checking an applicant's social media could be incredibly insightful and help you come up with a decision. Ask For An Application Once you've pre-screened your potential tenants, the next step would be to ask for applications. You can make use of the numerous rental application templates available online. These applications should include all the vital details you'd need from the potential tenants. In most cases, a rental application would have personal information, financial data, and employment information. Conduct A Background Check It's always crucial for landlords to run a thorough background check on the potential tenants. One of the main things to look out for when running a background check is a prospective renter's public records. It would be wise to avoid tenants who have been legally sought after due to unpaid child support, rent, and other financial issues. Also, ensure you steer clear of people who have been previously evicted from other rental properties. Landlords should also be wary of prospective tenants with serious criminal records or those who've served long jail terms. Although landlords shouldn't rule out applicants for having criminal records, it should be a principal factor. Run Their Credit Conducting a credit check is arguably the most vital step when screening potential tenants. While every piece of information is equally important, running a prospective renter's credit will reveal data about their financial health over the last few years. Doing this will help you ascertain whether the potential tenant is eligible. Moreover, since there are plenty of online tools available for running credit checks, the process shouldn't be a hassle. Even so, landlords should ensure they adhere to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) laws. Verify Their Income and Employment The financial health of potential tenants is of utmost importance. The reason behind this is that you have to protect your investment. Despite how befitting a client may be, landlords must ensure they have the financial muscle required to handle the rent. For this reason, verifying a potential renter's income and employment helps proprietors decide whether they are eligible. Moreover, doing this provides insight into how stable of a job a prospective tenant has. With this information, you can rest assured to be ready for any eventuality. A great rule of thumb to follow when verifying income and employment is the three-times rule. Essentially, the most eligible applicant should have an income that's three times the rent. Hence, it would be wise to check with their current employer to verify their employment status, title, and earnings. All this can help determine the applicant's job stability, which is a crucial consideration for a rental apartment. Check Their Residence History Another vital factor to consider when evaluating rental applicants is their residence history. In other words, landlords should verify one or more previous addresses for every eligible applicant. There are several reasons why this information could be beneficial to proprietors but, perhaps the main reason is to find out the type of tenant the applicant is. Confirming whether the prospective renter paid their rent on time can provide incredible insight into their payment habits. Also, finding out how the applicant interacted with their previous neighbors will help landlords determine how they could best fit their property. You could even contact their previous landlord and make inquiries into how the tenant treated their property. Conduct Interviews Although you may have all the information and documents needed to vet the applicants, interviewing them is always a step in the right direction. Many professionals recommend proprietors go over the applicants' paperwork and findings to give them a chance to clarify any details. It's worth noting that Federal fair housing laws protect rental property applicants against discrimination. Therefore, turning down eligible applications due to bias of any kind could be grounds for a lawsuit. Landlords should base their decision on fair terms and make their choice without prejudice. Final Thoughts Finding astute tenants for an investment property isn't a walk in the park. Landlords must ensure they don't take up problematic tenants who will either cause damage to the property or fail to adhere to the rules. Not only can this reduce the value of your rental property, but it can also cost you a great deal of financial and legal stress. Updated on Oct 18, 2021, 12:14 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: valuewalkOct 18th, 2021

Weiss: We Got Here Because Of Cowardice, We Get Out With Courage

Weiss: We Got Here Because Of Cowardice, We Get Out With Courage Authored by Bari Weiss via Commentary.org, A lot of people want to convince you that you need a Ph.D. or a law degree or dozens of hours of free time to read dense texts about critical theory to understand the woke movement and its worldview. You do not. You simply need to believe your own eyes and ears.  Let me offer the briefest overview of the core beliefs of the Woke Revolution, which are abundantly clear to anyone willing to look past the hashtags and the jargon. It begins by stipulating that the forces of justice and progress are in a war against backwardness and tyranny. And in a war, the normal rules of the game must be suspended. Indeed, this ideology would argue that those rules are not just obstacles to justice, but tools of oppression. They are the master’s tools.  And the master’s tools cannot dismantle the master’s house. So the tools themselves are not just replaced but repudiated. And in so doing, persuasion—the purpose of argument—is replaced with public shaming. Moral complexity is replaced with moral certainty. Facts are replaced with feelings. Ideas are replaced with identity. Forgiveness is replaced with punishment. Debate is replaced with de-platforming. Diversity is replaced with homogeneity of thought. Inclusion, with exclusion. In this ideology, speech is violence. But violence, when carried out by the right people in pursuit of a just cause, is not violence at all. In this ideology, bullying is wrong, unless you are bullying the right people, in which case it’s very, very good. In this ideology, education is not about teaching people how to think, it’s about reeducating them in what to think. In this ideology, the need to feel safe trumps the need to speak truthfully.  In this ideology, if you do not tweet the right tweet or share the right slogan, your whole life can be ruined. Just ask Tiffany Riley, a Vermont school principal who was fired—fired—because she said she supports black lives but not the organization Black Lives Matter. In this ideology, the past cannot be understood on its own terms, but must be judged through the morals and mores of the present. It is why statues of Grant and Washington are being torn down. And it is why William Peris, a UCLA lecturer and an Air Force veteran, was investigated for reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” out loud in class. In this ideology, intentions don’t matter. That is why Emmanuel Cafferty, a Hispanic utility worker at San Diego Gas and Electric, was fired for making what someone said he thought was a white-supremacist hand gesture—when in fact he was cracking his knuckles out of his car window. In this ideology, the equality of opportunity is replaced with equality of outcome as a measure of fairness. If everyone doesn’t finish the race at the same time, the course must have been defective. Thus, the argument to get rid of the SAT. Or the admissions tests for public schools like Stuyvesant in New York or Lowell in San Francisco.  In this ideology, you are guilty for the sins of your fathers. In other words: You are not you. You are only a mere avatar of your race or your religion or your class. That is why third-graders in Cupertino, California, were asked to rate themselves in terms of their power and privilege. In third grade.  In this system, we are all placed neatly on a spectrum of “privileged” to “oppressed.” We are ranked somewhere on this spectrum in different categories: race, gender, sexual orientation, and class. Then we are given an overall score, based on the sum of these rankings. Having privilege means that your character and your ideas are tainted. This is why, one high-schooler in New York tells me, students in his school are told, “If you are white and male, you are second in line to speak.” This is considered a normal and necessary redistribution of power. Racism has been redefined. It is no longer about discrimination based on the color of someone’s skin. Racism is any system that allows for disparate outcomes between racial groups. If disparity is present, as the high priest of this ideology, Ibram X. Kendi, has explained, racism is present. According to this totalizing new view, we are all either racist or anti-racist. To be a Good Person and not a Bad Person, you must be an “anti-racist.” There is no neutrality. There is no such thing as “not racist.”  Most important: In this revolution, skeptics of any part of this radical ideology are recast as heretics. Those who do not abide by every single aspect of its creed are tarnished as bigots, subjected to boycotts and their work to political litmus tests. The Enlightenment, as the critic Edward Rothstein has put it, has been replaced by the exorcism.  What we call “cancel culture” is really the justice system of this revolution. And the goal of the cancellations is not merely to punish the person being cancelled. The goal is to send a message to everyone else: Step out of line and you are next.  It has worked. A recent CATO study found that 62 percent of Americans are afraid to voice their true views. Nearly a quarter of American academics endorse ousting a colleague for having a wrong opinion about hot-button issues such as immigration or gender differences. And nearly 70 percent of students favor reporting professors if the professor says something that students find offensive, according to a Challey Institute for Global Innovation survey. Why are so many, especially so many young people, drawn to this ideology? It’s not because they are dumb. Or because they are snowflakes, or whatever Fox talking points would have you believe. All of this has taken place against the backdrop of major changes in American life—the tearing apart of our social fabric; the loss of religion and the decline of civic organizations; the opioid crisis; the collapse of American industries; the rise of big tech; successive financial crises; a toxic public discourse; crushing student debt. An epidemic of loneliness. A crisis of meaning. A pandemic of distrust. It has taken place against the backdrop of the American dream’s decline into what feels like a punchline, the inequalities of our supposedly fair, liberal meritocracy clearly rigged in favor of some people and against others. And so on. “I became converted because I was ripe for it and lived in a disintegrating society thrusting for faith.” That was Arthur Koestler writing in 1949 about his love affair with Communism. The same might be said of this new revolutionary faith. And like other religions at their inception, this one has lit on fire the souls of true believers, eager to burn down anything or anyone that stands in its way.  If you have ever tried to build something, even something small, you know how hard it is. It takes time. It takes tremendous effort. But tearing things down? That’s quick work.  The Woke Revolution has been exceptionally effective. It has successfully captured the most important sense-making institutions of American life: our newspapers. Our magazines. Our Hollywood studios. Our publishing houses. Many of our tech companies. And, increasingly, corporate America.  Just as in China under Chairman Mao, the seeds of our own cultural revolution can be traced to the academy, the first of our institutions to be overtaken by it. And our schools—public, private, parochial—are increasingly the recruiting grounds for this ideological army.  A few stories are worth recounting: David Peterson is an art professor at Skidmore College in upstate New York. He stood accused in the fevered summer of 2020 of “engaging in hateful conduct that threatens Black Skidmore students.” What was that hateful conduct? David and his wife, Andrea, went to watch a rally for police officers. “Given the painful events that continue to unfold across this nation, I guess we just felt compelled to see first-hand how all of this was playing out in our own community,” he told the Skidmore student newspaper. David and his wife stayed for 20 minutes on the edge of the event. They held no signs, participated in no chants. They just watched. Then they left for dinner. For the crime of listening, David Peterson’s class was boycotted. A sign appeared on his classroom door: “STOP. By entering this class you are crossing a campus-wide picket line and breaking the boycott against Professor David Peterson. This is not a safe environment for marginalized students.” Then the university opened an investigation into accusations of bias in the classroom. Across the country from Skidmore, at the University of Southern California, a man named Greg Patton is a professor of business communication. In 2020, Patton was teaching a class on “filler words”—such as “um” and “like” and so forth for his master’s-level course on communication for management. It turns out that the Chinese word for “like” sounds like the n-word. Students wrote the school’s staff and administration accusing their professor of “negligence and disregard.” They added: “We are burdened to fight with our existence in society, in the workplace, and in America. We should not be made to fight for our sense of peace and mental well-being” at school. In a normal, reality-based world, there is only one response to such a claim: You misheard. But that was not the response. This was: “It is simply unacceptable for faculty to use words in class that can marginalize, hurt and harm the psychological safety of our students,” the dean, Geoffrey Garrett wrote. “Understandably, this caused great pain and upset among students, and for that I am deeply sorry.”  This rot hasn’t been contained to higher education. At a mandatory training earlier this year in the San Diego Unified School District, Bettina Love, an education professor who believes that children learn better from teachers of the same race, accused white teachers of “spirit murdering black and brown children” and urged them to undergo “antiracist therapy for White educators.”  San Francisco’s public schools didn’t manage to open their schools during the pandemic, but the board decided to rename 44 schools—including those named for George Washington and John Muir—before suspending the plan. Meantime, one of the board members declared merit “racist” and “Trumpian.”  A recent educational program for sixth to eighth grade teachers called “a pathway to equitable math instruction”—funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—was recently sent to Oregon teachers by the state’s Department of Education. The program’s literature informs teachers that white supremacy shows up in math instruction when “rigor is expressed only in difficulty,” and “contrived word problems are valued over the math in students’ lived experiences.”  Serious education is the antidote to such ignorance. Frederick Douglass said, “Education means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light only by which men can be free.” Soaring words that feel as if they are a report from a distant galaxy. Education is increasingly where debate, dissent, and discovery go to die. It’s also very bad for kids.  For those deemed “privileged,” it creates a hostile environment where kids are too intimidated to participate. For those deemed “oppressed,” it inculcates an extraordinarily pessimistic view of the world, where students are trained to perceive malice and bigotry in everything they see. They are denied the dignity of equal standards and expectations. They are denied the belief in their own agency and ability to succeed. As Zaid Jilani had put it: “You cannot have power without responsibility. Denying minorities responsibility for their own actions, both good and bad, will only deny us the power we rightly deserve.” How did we get here? There are a lot of factors that are relevant to the answer: institutional decay; the tech revolution and the monopolies it created; the arrogance of our elites; poverty; the death of trust. And all of these must be examined, because without them we would have neither the far right nor the cultural revolutionaries now clamoring at America’s gates.  But there is one word we should linger on, because every moment of radical victory turned on it. The word is cowardice. The revolution has been met with almost no resistance by those who have the title CEO or leader or president or principal in front of their names. The refusal of the adults in the room to speak the truth, their refusal to say no to efforts to undermine the mission of their institutions, their fear of being called a bad name and that fear trumping their responsibility—that is how we got here. Allan Bloom had the radicals of the 1960s in mind when he wrote that “a few students discovered that pompous teachers who catechized them about academic freedom could, with a little shove, be made into dancing bears.” Now, a half-century later, those dancing bears hold named chairs at every important elite, sense-making institution in the country.  As Douglas Murray has put it: “The problem is not that the sacrificial victim is selected. The problem is that the people who destroy his reputation are permitted to do so by the complicity, silence and slinking away of everybody else.” Each surely thought: These protestors have some merit! This institution, this university, this school, hasn’t lived up to all of its principles at all times! We have been racist! We have been sexist! We haven’t always been enlightened! I’ll give a bit and we’ll find a way to compromise. This turned out to be as naive as Robespierre thinking that he could avoid the guillotine.  Think about each of the anecdotes I’ve shared here and all the rest you already know. All that had to change for the entire story to turn out differently was for the person in charge, the person tasked with being a steward for the newspaper or the magazine or the college or the school district or the private high school or the kindergarten, to say: No. If cowardice is the thing that has allowed for all of this, the force that stops this cultural revolution can also be summed up by one word: courage. And courage often comes from people you would not expect. Consider Maud Maron. Maron is a lifelong liberal who has always walked the walk. She was an escort for Planned Parenthood; a law-school research assistant to Kathleen Cleaver, the former Black Panther; and a poll watcher for John Kerry in Pennsylvania during the 2004 presidential election. In 2016, she was a regular contributor to Bernie Sanders’s campaign. Maron dedicated her career to Legal Aid: “For me, being a public defender is more than a job,” she told me. “It’s who I am.” But things took a turn when, this past year, Maron spoke out passionately and publicly about the illiberalism that has gripped the New York City public schools attended by her four children.  “I am very open about what I stand for,” she told me. “I am pro-integration. I am pro-diversity. And also I reject the narrative that white parents are to blame for the failures of our school system. I object to the mayor’s proposal to get rid of specialized admissions tests to schools like Stuyvesant. And I believe that racial essentialism is racist and should not be taught in school.” What followed this apparent thought crime was a 21st-century witch hunt. Maron was smeared publicly by her colleagues. They called her “racist, and openly so.” They said, “We’re ashamed that she works for the Legal Aid Society.”  Most people would have walked away and quietly found a new job. Not Maud Maron. This summer, she filed suit against the organization, claiming that she was forced out of Legal Aid because of her political views and her race, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  “The reason they went after me is that I have a different point of view,” she said. “These ideologues have tried to ruin my name and my career, and they are going after other good people. Not enough people stand up and say: It is totally wrong to do this to a person. And this is not going to stop unless people stand up to it.” That’s courage. Courage also looks like Paul Rossi, the math teacher at Grace Church High School in New York who raised questions about this ideology at a mandatory, whites-only student and faculty Zoom meeting. A few days later, all the school’s advisers were required to read a public reprimand of his conduct out loud to every student in the school. Unwilling to disavow his beliefs, Rossi blew the whistle: “I know that by attaching my name to this I’m risking not only my current job but my career as an educator, since most schools, both public and private, are now captive to this backward ideology. But witnessing the harmful impact it has on children, I can’t stay silent.” That’s courage.  Courage is Xi Van Fleet, a Virginia mom who endured Mao’s Cultural Revolution as a child and spoke up to the Loudoun County School Board at a public meeting in June. “You are training our children to loathe our country and our history,” she said in front of the school board. “Growing up in Mao’s China, all of this feels very familiar…. The only difference is that they used class instead of race.” Gordon Klein, a professor at UCLA, recently filed suit against his own university. Why? A student asked him to grade black students with “greater leniency.” He refused, given that such a racial preference would violate UCLA’s anti-discrimination policies (and maybe even the law). But the people in charge of UCLA’s Anderson School launched a racial-discrimination complaint into him. They denounced him, banned him from campus, appointed a monitor to look at his emails, and suspended him. He eventually was reinstated—because he had done absolutely nothing wrong—but not before his reputation and career were severely damaged. “I don’t want to see anyone else’s life destroyed as they attempted to do to me,” Klein told me. “Few have the intestinal fortitude to fight cancel culture. I do. This is about sending a message to every petty tyrant out there.” Courage is Peter Boghossian. He recently resigned his post at Portland State University, writing in a letter to his provost: “The university transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a social justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender and victimhood and whose only output was grievance and division…. I feel morally obligated to make this choice. For ten years, I have taught my students the importance of living by your principles. One of mine is to defend our system of liberal education from those who seek to destroy it. Who would I be if I didn’t?” Who would I be if I didn’t? George Orwell said that “the further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” In an age of lies, telling the truth is high risk. It comes with a cost. But it is our moral obligation. It is our duty to resist the crowd in this age of mob thinking. It is our duty to think freely in an age of conformity. It is our duty to speak truth in an age of lies.  This bravery isn’t the last or only step in opposing this revolution—it’s just the first. After that must come honest assessments of why America was vulnerable to start with, and an aggressive commitment to rebuilding the economy and society in ways that once again offer life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to the greatest number of Americans. But let’s start with a little courage. Courage means, first off, the unqualified rejection of lies. Do not speak untruths, either about yourself or anyone else, no matter the comfort offered by the mob. And do not genially accept the lies told to you. If possible, be vocal in rejecting claims you know to be false. Courage can be contagious, and your example may serve as a means of transmission. When you’re told that traits such as industriousness and punctuality are the legacy of white supremacy, don’t hesitate to reject it. When you’re told that statues of figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass are offensive, explain that they are national heroes. When you’re told that “nothing has changed” in this country for minorities, don’t dishonor the memory of civil-rights pioneers by agreeing. And when you’re told that America was founded in order to perpetuate slavery, don’t take part in rewriting the country’s history. America is imperfect. I always knew it, as we all do—and the past few years have rocked my faith like no others in my lifetime. But America and we Americans are far from irredeemable.  The motto of Frederick Douglass’s anti-slavery paper, the North Star—“The Right is of no Sex—Truth is of no Color—God is the Father of us all, and all we are brethren”—must remain all of ours. We can still feel the pull of that electric cord Lincoln talked about 163 years ago—the one “in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.” Every day I hear from people who are living in fear in the freest society humankind has ever known. Dissidents in a democracy, practicing doublespeak. That is what is happening right now. What happens five, 10, 20 years from now if we don’t speak up and defend the ideas that have made all of our lives possible? Liberty. Equality. Freedom. Dignity. These are ideas worth fighting for. Tyler Durden Sun, 10/17/2021 - 23:05.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 18th, 2021

The 20 best books of 2021, according to Book of the Month readers

Every year, Book of the Month crowns the best book of the year in November. Here are all the 2021 nominees, based on readers' favorites. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Every year, Book of the Month crowns the best book of the year in November. Here are all the 2021 nominees, based on readers' favorites. Amazon; Bookshop; Alyssa Powell/Insider Book of the Month sends great books from emerging authors directly to subscribers. At the end of each year, readers vote for their favorite books they read through the service. Here are the 20 most loved BOTM selections of 2021. The winner will be announced on November 11. Book of the Month sends new and noteworthy books - often before they become popular - to subscribers each month. In the past, the company has picked hits such as "The Great Alone" by Kristin Hannah, "Pachinko" by Min Jin Lee, and "The Girl With the Louding Voice" by Abi Daré to bring to its readers.Membership (small)At the end of the year, the club's thousands of subscribers vote on the best books they read through the service, making it a more curated version of Goodreads' best books of the year. For example, the 2020 winner was "The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett, which also won the 2020 Goodreads award for Best Historical Fiction.Below, you'll find a reading list of the top 20 books of 2021 according to Book of the Month readers. Book of the Month will announce the best book of 2021 on November 11, awarding the winning author a $10,000 prize. The 20 best books picked by Book of the Month in 2021, according to its readers:Descriptions are provided by Amazon and edited lightly for length and clarity. "Things We Lost To The Water" by Eric Nguyen Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $13.99When Huong arrives in New Orleans with her two young sons, she is jobless, homeless, and worried about her husband, Cong, who remains in Vietnam. As she and her boys begin to settle into life in America, she sends letters and tapes back to Cong, hopeful that they will be reunited and her children will grow up with a father.But with time, Huong realizes she will never see her husband again. While she attempts to come to terms with this loss, her sons, Tuan and Binh, grow up in their absent father's shadow, haunted by a man and a country trapped in their memories and imaginations. As they push forward, the three adapt to life in America in different ways: Huong gets involved with a Vietnamese car salesman who is also new in town; Tuan tries to connect with his heritage by joining a local Vietnamese gang; and Binh, now going by Ben, embraces his adopted homeland and his burgeoning sexuality. Their search for identity — as individuals and as a family — threatens to tear them apart, un­til disaster strikes the city they now call home, and they are suddenly forced to find a new way to come together and honor the ties that bind them. "Imposter Syndrome" by Kathy Wang Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $16.59Julia Lerner, a recent university graduate in computer science, is living in Moscow when she's recruited by Russia's largest intelligence agency in 2006. By 2018, she's in Silicon Valley as COO of Tangerine, one of America's most famous technology companies. In between her executive management (make offers to promising startups, crush them and copy their features if they refuse); self-promotion (check out her latest op-ed in the WSJ, on Work/Life Balance 2.0); and work in gender equality (transfer the most annoying females from her team), she funnels intelligence back to the motherland. But now Russia's asking for more, and Julia's getting nervous.Alice Lu is a first-generation Chinese-American whose parents are delighted she's working at Tangerine (such a successful company!). Too bad she's slogging away in the lower echelons, recently dumped, and now sharing her expensive two-bedroom apartment with her cousin Cheri, a perennial "founder's girlfriend." One afternoon, while performing a server check, Alice discovers some unusual activity, and now she's burdened with two powerful but distressing suspicions: Tangerine's privacy settings aren't as rigorous as the company claims they are, and the person abusing this loophole might be Julia Lerner herself. The closer Alice gets to Julia, the more Julia questions her own loyalties. Russia may have placed her in the Valley, but she's the one who built her career; isn't she entitled to protect the lifestyle she's earned? Part page-turning cat-and-mouse chase, part sharp and hilarious satire, "Impostor Syndrome" is a shrewdly-observed examination of women in tech, Silicon Valley hubris, and the rarely fulfilled but ever-attractive promise of the American Dream. "The Lost Apothecary" by Susan Penner Amazon; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $13.99Hidden in the depths of 18th-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary's fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious 12-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.Meanwhile, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her 10th wedding anniversary alone in present-day London, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London 200 years ago, her life collides with the apothecary's in a stunning twist of fate — and not everyone will survive. "This Close To Okay" by Leese Cross-Smith Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $15.62On a rainy October night in Kentucky, recently divorced therapist Tallie Clark is on her way home from work when she spots a man precariously standing at the edge of a bridge. Without a second thought, Tallie pulls over and jumps out of the car into the pouring rain. She convinces the man to join her for a cup of coffee, and he eventually agrees to come back to her house, where he finally shares his name: Emmett. Over the course of the emotionally charged weekend that follows, Tallie makes it her mission to provide a safe space for Emmett, though she hesitates to confess that this is also her day job. What she doesn't realize is that Emmett isn't the only one who needs healing — and they both are harboring secrets.Alternating between Tallie and Emmett's perspectives as they inch closer to the truth of what brought Emmett to the bridge's edge — as well as the hard truths Tallie has been grappling with since her marriage ended — "This Close to Okay" is an uplifting, cathartic story about chance encounters, hope found in unlikely moments, and the subtle magic of human connection. "We Are the Brennans" by Tracey Lange Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $19.49When 29-year-old Sunday Brennan wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital, bruised and battered after a drunk driving accident she caused, she swallows her pride and goes home to her family in New York. But it's not easy. She deserted them all — and her high school sweetheart — five years before with little explanation, and they've got questions.Sunday is determined to rebuild her life back on the east coast, even if it does mean tiptoeing around resentful brothers and an ex-fiancé. The longer she stays, however, the more she realizes they need her just as much as she needs them. When a dangerous man from her past brings her family's pub business to the brink of financial ruin, the only way to protect them is to upend all their secrets — secrets that have damaged the family for generations and will threaten everything they know about their lives. In the aftermath, the Brennan family is forced to confront painful mistakes — and ultimately find a way forward together. "The Maidens" by Alex Michaelides Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $16.78Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this, Mariana is confident. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike ― particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana's niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?When another body is found, Mariana's obsession with proving Fosca's guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything ― including her own life. "Razorblade Tears" by S.A. Cosby Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $20.10Ike Randolph has been out of jail for 15 years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid.The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah's white husband, Derek. Ike had never fully accepted his son but is devastated by his loss.Derek's father, Buddy Lee, was almost as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed of his father's criminal record. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy.Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, hardened men Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their prejudices about their sons and each other as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys. "Malibu Rising" by Taylor Jenkins Reid Amazon; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $16.80Malibu: August 1983. It's the day of Nina Riva's annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over — especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud — because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he's been inseparable since birth.Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can't stop thinking about has promised she'll be there.And Kit has a couple of secrets of her own — including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.By midnight the party will be entirely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family's generations will all come rising to the surface. "Four Winds" by Kristin Hannah Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $14.49Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the land's bounty is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman's only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: Marriage to a man she barely knows.By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work, and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa's tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa ― like so many of her neighbors ― must make an agonizing choice: Fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family. "The People We Keep" by Alison Larkin Amazon; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $22.99Little River, New York, 1994: April Sawicki is living in a motorless motorhome that her father won in a poker game. Failing out of school, picking up shifts at Margo's diner, she's left fending for herself in a town where she's never quite felt at home. When she "borrows" her neighbor's car to perform at an open mic night, she realizes her life could be much bigger than where she came from. After a fight with her dad, April packs her stuff and leaves for good — setting off on a journey to find her own life.Driving without a chosen destination, she stops to rest in Ithaca. Her only plan is to survive, but as she looks for work, she finds a kindred sense of belonging at Cafe Decadence, the local coffee shop. Still, somehow, it doesn't make sense to her that life could be this easy. The more she falls in love with her friends in Ithaca, the more she can't shake the feeling that she'll hurt them the way she's been hurt.As April moves through the world, meeting people who feel like home, she chronicles her life in the songs she writes and discovers that where she came from doesn't dictate who she has to be. "The Heart Principle" by Helen Hoang Amazon; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $13.99When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She's going to embark on a string of one-night stands — the more unacceptable the men, the better.That's where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex — he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she has just started to understand. However, when tragedy strikes Anna's family, she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love — but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves. "Instructions for Dancing" by Nicola Yoon Amazon; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $14.40Evie Thomas doesn't believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began… and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance Studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: Adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything — including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he's only just met.Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it's that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk? "Once There Were Wolves" by Charlotte McConaghy Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $20.99Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing 14 gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape but Aggie, too — unmade by the terrible secrets that drove the sisters out of Alaska.Inti is not the woman she once was, either, changed by the harm she's witnessed ― inflicted by humans on both the wild and each other. Yet, as the wolves surprise everyone by thriving, Inti begins to let her guard down, even opening herself up to the possibility of love. But when a farmer is found dead, Inti knows where the town will lay blame. Unable to accept that her wolves could be responsible, Inti makes a reckless decision to protect them. But if the wolves didn't make the kill, then who did? And what will Inti do when the man she is falling for seems to be the prime suspect? "People We Meet On Vacation" by Emily Henry Amazon; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $9.98Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She's a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year, they live far apart — she's in New York City, and he's in their small hometown — but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven't spoken since.Poppy has everything she should want, but she's stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together — lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong? "The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina" by Zoraida Cordove Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $21.49The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty or why their matriarch won't ever leave their home in Four Rivers — even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers.Seven years later, her gifts have manifested differently for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly's daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea's line. Determined to save what's left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador — to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back. "Damnation Spring" by Ash Davidson Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $19.81Colleen and Rich Gundersen are raising their young son, Chub, on the rugged California coast. It's 1977, and life in this Pacific Northwest logging town isn't what it used to be. For generations, the community has lived and breathed timber; now, that way of life is threatened. Colleen is an amateur midwife. Rich is a tree-topper. It's a dangerous job that requires him to scale trees hundreds of feet tall — a job that both his father and grandfather died doing. Colleen and Rich want a better life for their son — and they take steps to assure their future. Rich secretly spends their savings on a swath of ancient Redwoods. Colleen, desperate to have a second baby, challenges the logging company's use of herbicides that she believes are responsible for the many miscarriages in the community — including her own. The pair find themselves on opposite sides of a budding conflict that threatens the very thing they are trying to protect: Their family. "The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany" by Lori Nelson Spielman Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $10.95Since the day Filomena Fontana cast a curse upon her sister more than 200 years ago, not one second-born Fontana daughter has found lasting love. Some, like second-born Emilia, the happily single baker at her grandfather's Brooklyn deli, claim it's an odd coincidence. Others, like her sexy, desperate-for-love cousin Lucy, insist it's an actual hex. But both are bewildered when their great-aunt calls with an astounding proposition: If they accompany her to her homeland of Italy, Aunt Poppy vows she'll meet the love of her life on the steps of the Ravello Cathedral on her 80th birthday — and break the Fontana Second-Daughter Curse once and for all.Against the backdrop of wandering Venetian canals, rolling Tuscan fields, and enchanting Amalfi Coast villages, romance blooms, destinies are found, and family secrets are unearthed — secrets that could threaten the family far more than a centuries-old curse. "The Last Thing He Told Me" by Laura Dave Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $12.92Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her.Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers — Owen's 16-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother. As Hannah's increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen's boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn't who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen's true identity — and why he disappeared.Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen's past, they soon realize they're also building a new future — one neither of them could have anticipated.You can read our interview with author Laura Dave here. "The Office of Historical Corrections" by Danielle Evans Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $17.49Danielle Evans is known for her blisteringly smart voice and X-ray insights into complex human relationships. With "The Office of Historical Corrections," Evans zooms in on particular moments and relationships in her characters' lives in a way that allows them to speak to larger issues of race, culture, and history. She introduces us to Black and multiracial characters experiencing the universal confusions of lust and love and getting walloped by grief — all while exploring how history haunts us, personally and collectively. Ultimately, she provokes us to think about the truths of American history — about who gets to tell them and the cost of setting the record straight. "Infinite Country" by Patricia Engel Amazon; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $14.80I often wonder if we are living the wrong life in the wrong country.Talia is being held at a correctional facility for adolescent girls in the forested mountains of Colombia after committing an impulsive act of violence that may or may not have been warranted. She urgently needs to get out and get back home to Bogotá, where her father and a plane ticket to the United States are waiting for her. If she misses her flight, she might also miss her chance to finally reunite with her family.How this family came to occupy two different countries — two different worlds — comes into focus like twists of a kaleidoscope. We see Talia's parents, Mauro and Elena, fall in love in a market stall as teenagers against a backdrop of civil war and social unrest. We see them leave Bogotá with their firstborn, Karina, in pursuit of safety and opportunity in the United States on a temporary visa, and we see the births of two more children, Nando and Talia, on American soil. We witness the decisions and indecisions that lead to Mauro's deportation and the family's splintering — the costs they've all been living with ever since. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 15th, 2021

Accessing “Whole” – People Is the Path to Sustained Innovation and Growth

Putting the human back in human resources turns work from a transactional exchange into a transformational connection. Creating authentic connections opens the door to advancing productivity and building a culture of innovation to sustain growth in and out of crisis. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more In the dogged pursuit of emergent technology, […] Putting the human back in human resources turns work from a transactional exchange into a transformational connection. Creating authentic connections opens the door to advancing productivity and building a culture of innovation to sustain growth in and out of crisis. 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 Walter Schloss Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Walter Schloss 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 In the dogged pursuit of emergent technology, we can often overlook the most critical factor in organizational success: People. In the quest for talent, businesses become focused on human resources for knowledge, skills, and ability. We seek out the relevant experiences but see people as simply the storage bins for talent. However, people aren’t solely made up of experience relevant to their jobs. People are made up of whole life experience that impacts every corner of their being including their work. If they are having a negative experience at home, at work or otherwise, guess what? It is going to manifest in their work performance. It will have an impact on business. Business tends to covet all resources a human can offer but with less of the human vulnerabilities. There Is No Work/Life Balance For years society has chased after “work/life balance,” but the reality is there is no separation between work and life. I prefer to speak in terms of work/life integration precisely because work is part of life and life is part of work. More than connected, they are integrated. The human experience cannot be successfully segmented. Mental, Physical, Social, Financial, it all matters. It all impacts life therefore it all impacts work. We saw this play out with the overnight shift to remote and hybrid work. People’s personal lives were on display as work and home fused into a single location. Now, as a CEO my control over what goes on in the personal lives of my employees is almost non-existent. Sure, I can care; I can be empathetic to their experiences, but without overstepping my bounds I simply don’t have a direct role in their personal lives. The greatest influence business executives can make stems from how they lead their companies. As a CEO, I am charged with providing stability in periods of upheaval whether they derive from internal or external sources. Let’s look back to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Seemingly overnight, at least 220 million people worldwide lost full-time job alone (Source: COVID-19 and the world of work, International Labor Organization, 2021). The receding tide of widespread financial insecurity deflated our collective spirit. A SHRM poll found nearly six in ten Americans felt increased symptoms of depression. As leaders, we must understand how life impacts work performance and ultimately organizational productivity. Recognizing how these twists, trials and traumas manifest in the workplace can help us formulate a response and, if necessary, adjust our strategies. And because it impacts the balance sheet, it should definitely matter to the CEO, the CFO, the COO. Many executives I speak with claim they have little, to no interest in the lives of their employees. They assume leadership plus strategy plus talent somehow equals performance. But when we bury our heads in the sand, we shouldn’t be shocked when these issues land on our doorstep and performance suffers. As COVID-19 has made us painfully aware, business leaders need a broader radar to detect crisis whether they stem from internal or external sources. To be truly effective, leaders’ must be cognizant of what their workers are experiencing—that’s simply doing your job. For years we’ve been telling people to bring their whole selves to work, only to balk when parents need to take leave to care for an ill child. It’s time to walk the walk. As a CEO, executive, leader or people manager your sphere of influence extends further than you know. Finding Humanity In A Global Pandemic We all had a front row seat to see how intertwined home and work life truly is. Leaders had no choice but to be keenly aware of what workers experience and how it impacts their work. As we look to reset our workplaces, we must take into account workers entire lives. Their lives aren’t going always be on screens for all to see. It will take an intentional effort to stay plugged into what they are going through. Their humanity, and their whole self, is too often neglected as their coveted talent is methodically mined. When times are good, we can skate by with these tendencies. But when people and organizations face strife, neglect of people’s whole selves can quickly devolve into workplace troubles. As a CEO I’m not omniscient or omnipresent. As much as I might want to, I alone cannot sustain a connection with hundreds of employees. Managers reach more people in an organization on a daily basis. That is precisely why I emphasis the moniker, “People Managers.” They are critical to transmitting organizational culture, mission, values, and objectives. The C-Suite plays a large role in determining our organization values and establishing our culture. When you want to engage the bulk of your workers business executives can do so through People Managers, but you need good ones. I say it all the time. People don’t quit companies, they quit their managers. It is not uncommon to hear: “great company, but I couldn’t stand working for Bob.” So, the great work you’re doing in the C-Suite won’t register, if you have poor People Managers not executing that vision on the front line. In a 2019 SHRM report on toxic workplace culture, we discovered that 58 percent of employees who quit their jobs due to workplace culture blamed their People Managers. Their ability to clearly communicate the culture, build positive workplaces by listening, and implement accountability by setting expectations is vital to your success. People Managers are the ones best positioned to cultivate the awareness of the workforce. They are better suited to keep a pulse on how workers are doing on an individual level and check for signs of distress and disfunction that could hinder their work performance. But organizations must prioritize and invest in developing great People Managers. Investment in People Managers is multiplied in the workforce. However, the greatest tool in their toolbox is empathy. Empathy is vital because it opens up a space for employees to be their entire selves. When that happens, we can better gauge and respond to issues that would otherwise be invisible. Empathy builds the trust and credibility required to better understand people and engage them in the work. Truly listening to workers yields insight on how to best manage workers and adapt work to produce at a higher level. Empowering the right people is critical for growth and innovation. Technology Is A Tool; Innovation Is The Process; Innovators Are The Source Going back to people. It’s really people who drive business. Innovators are the ones that discover the breakthroughs that evolve business. Your best ideas come from creative minds with unique viewpoints. Survival in the pandemic meant birthing new ideas to meet challenges daily. Maintain an understanding of who and where your best ideas come from. Invest in those sources regularly. Those people who felt empowered to take risks in order to accomplish something new are your change agents. They imbue your organization with the agility and flexibility to meet tomorrow’s challenges. They are the one’s more likely to ask for forgiveness over permission. It’s the innovators who are inspired by future opportunity, not blinded by past success. Breakthroughs are fueled by people being curious enough to ask the questions that make others feel uncomfortable. Facing the uncomfortable requires being open to new concepts and trusting that there is a new solution around the corner. Innovators trust there is a way forward even when they can’t yet see it. Fostering new ideas requires a willingness to test a concept and be wrong, so we can learn something new and build it into the next iteration to test again. Innovators value the process of creation and thinking beyond convention. To commit to ideation, we must be willing to set time and money aside away from operations to “play,” to tinker. Again, it requires being ok with risk and possible failure. Embrace failure. Autopsy your failures to find out what went wrong. Those lessons shed light on the way forward. Conversely, the fear of failure can paralyze action and limit success. Past success can also blind you to future opportunity. That is part of the vulnerability of the status quo where hyper focus on day-to-day operations and crises can have a chilling effect on innovation. Fat And Happy When I worked for Blockbuster, we found that our revenues grew in relation to the number of stores we opened. We made our mission to be everywhere. For us that meant putting a brick and mortar storefront in every corner of the global. And nobody was going to beat us at that game. Meanwhile, Netflix took that premise, stepped back and reimagined what “being everywhere” could mean. As movies became digital, Netflix saw the next delivery mechanism for movies. First, it was mailing DVDs on request, then morphed into streaming subscriptions. Subsequently, Blockbuster became obsolete almost overnight. Focusing on their past definition of success robbed them of the time and energy needed to envision future potential. Are you investing in your innovators? Are you regularly reimaging your execution? Are you evaluating emerging technologies to understand their potential to transform your operations? Do you have a start-up mentality embedded in your business? There are no shortages of organizations that talk innovation. They point to R&D as their evidence. But innovation doesn’t just take place in R&D. From service to manufacturing to finance and marketing, innovation can be cultivated in every aspect of an organization. But it requires a willingness to identify, recruit, develop and advance creative talent. But oftentimes, those creative people defy convention. They can and often do have vastly different outlooks on life. And that’s what we want. People who challenge convention. They often bring attitudes, behaviors and even an appearance that is outside of our expectations and workplace norms. We rely on them not to fit in, but to stretch the workplace culture. Their idiosyncrasies are part of the whole package. As I said earlier, organizations tend to want that creative talent sans the messiness of humanity. If we are truly intentional about embedding innovation within our Culture, we have to embrace “whole people.” This means employing empathy. This means being accepting of some of the eccentricity that innovators bring. If you want an Elon Musk you’ve got to be willing to embrace his quirkiness. I would argue it could be worth it. You want people who have the ability to focus on an objective without being locked in on a particular route. People who are willing to uncover better ways to getting the work done. People who look at our collection of assets and MacGyver them into something new. The emergence of e-books should have been fatal to Amazon Books who had built a revolutionary system for inventory and distribution of physical books. They saw value in that efficient operation and reapplied their product fulfillment strategy to selling just about anything. That doesn’t happen unless you have a culture infused with a flexible mindset that can adapt to shifting paradigms. It doesn’t happen without the visionaries who have license to reinvent the wheel. Article By Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., President and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and author of Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval About the Author: Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is President and Chief Executive Officer of SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management. With over 300,000 members in 165 countries, SHRM is the largest HR professional association in the world, impacting the lives of 115 million workers every day. As a global leader on the future of employment, culture and leadership, Mr. Taylor is a sought-after voice on all matters affecting work, workers and the workplace. He is frequently asked to testify before Congress on critical workforce issues and authors the weekly USA Today column, "Ask HR." Mr. Taylor's career spans over 20 years as a lawyer, human resources executive and CEO in both the not-for-profit and for-profit space. He has held senior and chief executive roles at IAC/Interactive Corp, Viacom's Paramount Pictures, Blockbuster Entertainment Group, the McGuireWoods law firm, and Compass Group USA. Most recently, Mr. Taylor was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. He was appointed chairman of the President's Advisory Board on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and served as a member of the White House American Workforce Policy Advisory Board during the Trump Administration. He is a Trustee of the University of Miami, Governor of the American Red Cross, and member of the corporate boards of Guild Education, iCIMS, and XPO Logistics (NYSE: XPO).. He is licensed to practice law in Florida, Illinois and Washington, D.C. All author proceeds will benefit the SHRM Foundation, which is committed to empowering HR as a social force for change. To learn more, please visit reset.shrm.org. Updated on Oct 14, 2021, 11:25 am (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: valuewalkOct 14th, 2021

Democrats are already floating another social spending bill to "put Republicans on the spot" on popular benefit expansions before the 2022 midterms

Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenants aren't ruling out another reconciliation bill if it means fulfilling more of Biden's domestic agenda. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Some Democrats are open to another reconciliation bill early next year as the current one is being trimmed. "There is certainly a willingness to pursue that idea if it makes sense at the time," House Budget Chair John Yarmuth told Insider. Another party-line spending bill could be tough to achieve in 2022 given policy tends to take a backseat to midterm campaigning. If Democrats can't cram all of Biden's social spending promises into the reconciliation bill this year, they may try again next year.Congressional Democrats are grappling with key decisions on which measures should be scaled back or axed as they struggle to reach a middle ground with a small but potent centrist faction made up of figures like Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema. Progressives are spearheading efforts to avoid pitting measures against each other, like affordable childcare against tuition-free community college. But some in the party are starting to float another Democrat-only spending bill next year, perhaps as a way to score additional policy wins or pick up what was ejected ahead of the 2022 midterms."I have broached the subject with a number of people in leadership positions in the caucus," Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, chair of the House Budget Committee, told Insider on Tuesday. "And there is certainly a willingness to pursue that idea if it makes sense at the time.""I do think it's feasible," Rep. Donald Beyer of Virginia, a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means panel, said of another party-line bill next year. "We all are aware of the fragility of the majorities in the Senate and the House, we're gonna do our very best to keep building on them."He cautioned that many frontline Democrats in swing House districts may become harder sells on another party-line bill and it would depend what measures are included. Still, Yarmuth mapped out a scenario where potentially dropped provisions like a Medicare expansion that's popular with older voters essentially dares Republicans to oppose it.He called it a good opportunity to "put Republicans on the spot" adding it was "good politics and good policy."Democrats do have another chance at a reconciliation next year, the same legislative maneuver they're using to skirt GOP opposition and approve the social safety net bill with only a simple majority rather than the 60 votes typically needed. They seek to expand education, healthcare, child tax credits and more. "Anytime you can pass something with just your own party, you have a shot," Jim Kessler, executive vice president for policy at the center-left Third Way think tank. "That's going to depend on the appetite of a lot of members, including Manchin, Sinema and others. But I think it's important for Democrats not to think that we get one year and then the rest of the Biden era is lost."Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn't rule out another spending bill last month, telling reporters that possibility "is not excluded."But policymaking tends to be harder as the midterms get closer and campaigning takes precedence. The strict procedures governing reconciliation means Democrats may not be able to act on another bill until after April 1."I don't think as a caucus we should close the door on potentially doing another bill early next year," a Senate Democratic aide granted anonymity to speak candidly said. "It just seems silly to me that you would say, '"we're done legislating after this point.'"Rep. Jim Costa of California, among the 10 centrist Democrats who demanded an immediate vote on an infrastructure bill in August and nearly blew up Biden's agenda, said he wouldn't necessarily shut the door on another party-line bill as Democrats mull cuts."I think there could be," he told Insider. "I mean, I keep trying. Just because it doesn't get in one piece of legislation doesn't mean I throw my hands up."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 13th, 2021

Like On The Titanic... The Band Plays On

Like On The Titanic... The Band Plays On Authored by Bruce Wilds via Advancing Time blog, It is said the dance band on the Titanic played on as the ship went down. This was all done as a grand effort to reassure the passengers and ease the panic in their hearts. Consider the possibility that behind all the noise we hear today a similar effort is being made to comfort us and take your attention off the hopeless feeling that comes when things sink away beneath your feet. For the last several months I have come to feel a similar story is playing out here. The Biden-Yellen-Powell economy is less than inspiring.  As The Ship Goes Down The Band Plays On Looking back, it is clear the Fed's policies have hurt savers, It has caused savers to flee towards riskier investment in search of higher yields, driven speculation, increased equality, add added to inflation. Rather than using the bully pulpit and warnings of higher interest rates to keep government spending in check, the Fad has acted as an enabler to the crowd in Congress that loves nothing better than to sending taxpayer money back home calming it is a gift and proof they are "working hard for their district." With historically low-interest rates, rising inflation, and many consumers struggling to make ends meet. The economy is at a place where there is not much capability to increase consumption without throwing money from a helicopter and massively increasing the national debt. The problem with that is such stimulus programs are poorly focused. As we look about in this post-pandemic covid-lite era we see supply chains crumbling, stagflation mounting, and jobs being lost to automation. These are all immense problems even in the best of times. With this in mind, the president has thrown his weight behind a huge infrastructure bill at the worst possible time. These type of bills coming out when employers are already having difficulty filling jobs because many workers have lost their motivation to work will only add to the labor shortage and cause inflation to soar. While he mumbles phrases such as "the buck stops here," and "I take full responsibility," Biden has a way of resorting to finger-pointing and leaping into the blame game at a second's notice.  President Biden on Monday blasted Republican lawmakers’ approach to raising the federal borrowing limit and warned about the dangers of failing to do so. “A meteor is headed to crash into our economy,” Biden said during a White House speech. “Democrats are willing to do all the work stopping it. Republicans just have to let us do our job — just get out of the way.” Money Supply Growth Indicates A Problem It appears that Biden simply doesn't get it. Rather than aligning himself with the American worker, he is part of a larger coalition made up of the poor, the deep state, and the globalist elites. All these groups have one thing in common, and that is they are willing to sacrifice our future for more money and power today. This is evident in a number of policies rubber-stamped by this coalition that constantly favor big businesses such as Amazon over the far smaller companies that made American famous. Giving people money to stay at home and order online is devastating the brick and mortar stores that line the streets of our communities. These are the companies that pay taxes and provide jobs for our friends and families. The major labor shortage and a fall in productivity will have long lasting implications and become evident in the form of stagflation. Amazon is the poster child of a failing America. In an ever changing economic environment, the government has aided Amazon in destroying America. Things like the USPS slating the company for special services and pricing. Approving Amazon to participate in delivering home grocery delivery on the SNAP program, and locking people in their homes while forcing many small businesses to close during the pandemic have all played to Amazon's advantage. Not only have small companies lost sales, but they also cannot afford to automate and replace workers with robots like their giant competitor Amazon. Small companies don't have access to the cheap money flowing from Wall Street. This means small companies cannot compete and often cannot pay the same wages as large companies. Instead, small companies across America are forced to cut hours or even close at times because they cannot get employees. When customers find them closed they tend to develop the habit of looking somewhere else to buy things. Adding to the woes of many smaller businesses are the expensive and ever-changing mandates being placed upon them by those in power. After the ship goes down, do not expect things to be pretty. Already, statistics show that 1-in-4 Americans primarily live on government support. The idea of simply giving these people more money in the hope it will boost consumption is unsustainable because the numbers don't work.  As the band plays on and water laps at our feet, most Americans ignore the signs we are in real trouble. Do not be surprised when we enter what will likely be a more protracted, deeper, and more damaging recession than what we saw in 2008. We would already be there if it were not for the crazy deficit spending going on in Washington. In fact, expect a depression, defaults and bankruptcies are only in the very early stages. The Fed has added a tremendous amount of liquidity to the system in order to repair credit spreads and mask over the flaws in the financial system but this will only delay the ugliness ahead. Because so much is going on, current events have been drowning out reality making it hard to stay focused on the crux of financial and economic issues. That music coming from the dance band is a distraction that is difficult to ignore. There is no playbook for what is about to unfold when the ship goes down or anyone to turn to that has all the answers. Each of us must be aware of the risk and manage our finances accordingly.  The one thing we do know is that in such a situation, the poor have little to lose, the rich often have ways to skirt much of the pain or, a reservation in the lifeboat. It is the so-called middle class that will be cast into the cold icy water to die when reality finally hits. An economy based on consumption and huge deficits is unsustainable. We need an economy where people produce and that appears to be slipping away.   Tyler Durden Sun, 10/10/2021 - 09:20.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 10th, 2021

A Message To Fauci: You Are In No Position To Dictate The "Greater Good"

A Message To Fauci: You Are In No Position To Dictate The "Greater Good" Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, How does a fraud like Anthony Fauci find himself in the highest paid position in US bureaucracy? Well, Fauci’s career is a rather shocking testament to the reality of our government and our era – The more corrupt you are the more favors and promotions you will receive. Fauci is well known as a shameless opportunist among many within the medical research community. For example, the creator of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test, Kary Mullis, had nothing but disdain for Fauci. Mullis was an interesting figure who valued scientific honesty above all else. He often warned that his PCR test could be exploited to inflate infection numbers by identifying remnants of a virus in person’s body without distinguishing whether or not they are actually “infected” (sick). Sadly, his test is no be used in this exact manner today to exaggerate infection rates of the covid-19 virus. In interviews Mullis has referred to Anthony Fauci as a “liar”, arguing that he is a bureaucrat that “doesn’t know anything about anything”. Mullis noted that people like Fauci have an agenda that is outside of the public good, and that they have no problem misrepresenting the science to the populace to achieve their goals. It should also be noted that YouTube has made it their mission to consistently erase any traces of the Mullis interviews mentioning Fauci from their website. It is also not surprising that Fauci’s rampant fear mongering over AIDS in the 1980’s has gone mostly unmentioned by the mainstream media. His claim that 1 in 5 heterosexual Americans would be dead from AIDS by 1990 has been summarily memory-holed and the guy is treated like a scientific genius by the journalistic community in 2021. If there is any justice in this world then Fauci should really go down in history as one of the primary initiators of the Covid pandemic, being that he was the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that funded Gain of Function research on corona-viruses at the Wuhan Lab in China. This is the same research that Fauci blatantly lied about to congress on multiple occasions. And, the Wuhan lab is the same lab that evidence suggests was the ground zero source of the Covid-19 outbreak. It is important to note that it was Fauci and the NIH that LIFTED the ban on gain of function research on deadly viruses in 2017, and it was well known around this time that the Level 4 Wuhan lab in China was not secure. If anyone is responsible for global covid deaths, it is Fauci, the Chinese government and anyone else involved in that gain of function research which is primarily used to WEAPONIZE viruses under the guise of creating “therapeutics.” Gain of function research was originally banned under the Biological Weapons Convention which went into effect in 1975, unless it was being used for therapeutics. Now ALL gain of function research that is revealed publicly is labeled as therapeutics even if it is actually designed to produce biological weapons. This is sometimes referred to as “dual use research.” The prevailing narrative continues to be that even if the virus came from the Wuhan lab then it was surely an accident. I continue to believe according to the available evidence that Covid-19 was deliberately released in order to create a global crisis which could then be exploited by the establishment to introduce extreme controls over the populace to the point of medical totalitarianism. But of course, there is no smoking gun to prove this, only common sense. If we take the notorious Event 201 into account things get a little weird. Event 201 was a war game held by the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its claimed purpose was to simulate the effects of a deadly coronavirus pandemic “spread by animals” to humans and to develop the policies governments and their corporate partners should employ to deal with it. Interestingly, this simulation was held in October of 2019, only two months before the REAL THING happened. Nearly every policy suggested by the participants of Event 201 has now been adopted by most governments, including the social media censorship campaign against anyone that questions the origins of the virus and the safety of the experimental mRNA vaccines. Anthony Fauci and friends…. WEF founder Klaus Schwab was quick to announce at the start of the pandemic that Covid-19 was the “perfect opportunity” to launch the “Great Reset”, which is a globalist plan to completely erase free market systems and replace them with a highly centralized socialist framework. The WEF envisions a world in which carbon related power is banned, all financial transactions become digital and are monitored and controlled by central authorities, and they have even suggested that one day people will “own nothing and be happy”. This is a reference to the so-called “shared economy” of the future, where the concept of personal property is abolished and all people will live in communal housing collectives where necessities are rationed or rented out to them by the government. Something must have went wrong with covid, however, because the Event 201 death estimates for such a virus were around 65 million within the first year of the outbreak. This of course never happened with Covid-19. So, the resistance to the mandates has been high, or much higher apparently than the globalists expected. They have been forced to engage in an endless fear campaign for the past 18 months over a virus with a mere 0.26% median death rate. It is a virus that well over 99.7% of all people will survive and it has an extremely low chance of long term effects on those who do actually end up hospitalized. In the majority of states the hospitalization rates are between 10-35 people for every 100,000 people infected. These numbers come from the CDC and the medical establishment at large, yet they are ignored by propagandists like Fauci, just as Fauci has continued to ignore natural immunity as a factor in covid mandates. It might seem bizarre to almost any scientist, doctor and virologist not paid by the government, but Fauci has argued that natural immunity should be ignored when compared to vaccination. Multiple studies from around the world now show that natural immunity is up to 27 times more effective at preventing covid infection than the vaccines, but those with natural immunity are considered a threat to others under the new mandates unless they are also vaxxed. This simply makes no sense from a scientific perspective until you realize that the mandates are not about science, they are about authoritarianism. Fauci is the US front man for a campaign of medical tyranny being imposed in every nation; this is why he does not care about natural immunity. The idea of it is inconvenient to his narrative, so he pretends it is inconsequential. It is perhaps ironic that Fauci himself is becoming inconsequential as he is slowly fading away from the media limelight. I have noticed that ever since the NIH gain of function information was released to the public Fauci has been in the media less prominently. A documentary produced by National Geographic and soon to be distributed by Disney+ portrays the conman as a misunderstood savior and is sure to be a trash fire. That said, it does represent a clear last-ditched effort to save the man’s false reputation. There is a good reason for all of this. Fauci’s distaste for personal freedom has been well documented and is making him extremely unpopular. He even recently argued on CNN in favor of vaccine mandates using this perverse position: “There comes a time when you do have to give up what you consider your individual right of making your own decision for the greater good of society.” Fauci and his globalist ilk can be distilled down to this single mantra: Do as you are told for the greater good. But who gets to determine what the “greater good” is? Isn’t it disturbing that it’s always the same elitists that end up in that position? I know that leftists in particular love the idea of the vaccine mandates and worship Fauci, and they say we skeptics should “listen to the science”, but Fauci is not a scientist, he’s a door-to-door salesman, and as I’ve noted above the REAL science does not support the arguments for forced vaccinations or lockdowns. Hell, I keep asking the same questions on the mandates in these articles and not a single leftists or pro-vax proponent has come up with a valid or logical response, but out of morbid curiosity I would love to see Fauci give his answers: 1) Covid has a median death rate of only 0.26%, so why should we take ANY risk on an experimental mRNA vaccine with no long term testing to prove its safety? 2) Why not give support to the 0.26% of people actually at risk from dying due to covid instead of spending billions of dollars on Big Pharma producing a rushed vaccine that you plan to force on the 99.7% of people who are not at risk? 3) In majority vaccinated countries like Israel, over 60% of covid hospitalizations are fully vaccinated people. The exponential rise of fully vaccinated patients in multiple nations suggests that the vaccines do not work. Why should we take a vaccine that has been proven not to be effective? 4) If you believe the vaccines actually do work despite all evidence to the contrary, then why should vaccinated people fear anything from unvaccinated people? How are we a threat to them? 5) If the vaccines don’t work, then doesn’t this mean the mandates are pointless and the people that are most safe are the people with natural immunity? Shouldn’t we be applauding the naturally immune and encouraging treatment instead of useless vaccination? 6) Since the vaccines actually don’t work according to the data, isn’t it time to stop blindly dismissing treatments like Ivermectin and focus on trials and studies that research these alternatives? Why the vitriolic propaganda campaign to label Ivermectin nothing more than “horse paste” when it is actually a long used Nobel Prize winning treatment for human ailments? Is it because the experimental covid vaccines would lose their emergency authorization status under the FDA if effective treatments exist? 7) Why are government funded scientists so keen on defending Big Pharma to the point of ignoring all data that contradicts their claims? Are you just embarrassed of being wrong, or are you corrupt? 8) Who decided you are qualified to determine what constitutes the “greater good?” Globalists and errand boys like Fauci will never be able to answer these questions without twisting the narrative. They will say “What about the 700,000 dead in the US?” to play on the idea that the freedom minded lack empathy for their fellow man. Of course, around 40% of those deaths are patients from nursing homes with preexisting conditions, so we have no idea if they died from covid or from their previous ailments. Also, millions of people die every year from a plethora of communicable diseases including the flu and pneumonia, and we never tried to lock down the entire country and crush people’s civil rights because of this. If we maintained a running tally of flu and pneumonia deaths year after year as we are doing with covid, then the ever increasing number of bodies would seem just as forbidding. Society cannot function when it is preoccupied with death. Yes, around 0.26% of people die from covid, but life goes on for everyone else. Our freedoms are more important than your irrational fears. Our freedoms are more important than globalist agendas for centralization. Our freedoms ARE the greater good. Without them our society dies, and as our society dies millions more people will die from the inevitable collapse and tyranny that will follow; far more than will ever die from covid. This is why nothing Fauci says has any relevance to us. He is so transparent in his corruption that he might as well be invisible. We will continue to ignore his declarations and admonitions and we will continue to fight back against the vaccine passports and restrictions. When all is said and done, if Fauci, Biden and other globalist puppets try to use force to impose their agenda upon us then there will come a day very soon when they will be held accountable for their crimes against humanity, and then they will wish they were invisible. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Fri, 10/08/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 8th, 2021

How Facebook Forced a Reckoning by Shutting Down the Team That Put People Ahead of Profits

Facebook's civic-integrity team, where whistle-blower Frances Haugen worked, pledged to put people ahead of profits. Facebook shut it down, but some former members are still honoring their promise. Facebook’s civic-integrity team was always different from all the other teams that the social media company employed to combat misinformation and hate speech. For starters, every team member subscribed to an informal oath, vowing to “serve the people’s interest first, not Facebook’s.” The “civic oath,” according to five former employees, charged team members to understand Facebook’s impact on the world, keep people safe and defuse angry polarization. Samidh Chakrabarti, the team’s leader, regularly referred to this oath—which has not been previously reported—as a set of guiding principles behind the team’s work, according to the sources. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Chakrabarti’s team was effective in fixing some of the problems endemic to the platform, former employees and Facebook itself have said. But, just a month after the 2020 U.S. election, Facebook dissolved the civic-integrity team, and Chakrabarti took a leave of absence. Facebook said employees were assigned to other teams to help share the group’s experience across the company. But for many of the Facebook employees who had worked on the team, including a veteran product manager from Iowa named Frances Haugen, the message was clear: Facebook no longer wanted to concentrate power in a team whose priority was to put people ahead of profits. Illustration by TIME (Source photo: Getty Images) Five weeks later, supporters of Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol—after some of them organized on Facebook and used the platform to spread the lie that the election had been stolen. The civic-integrity team’s dissolution made it harder for the platform to respond effectively to Jan. 6, one former team member, who left Facebook this year, told TIME. “A lot of people left the company. The teams that did remain had significantly less power to implement change, and that loss of focus was a pretty big deal,” said the person. “Facebook did take its eye off the ball in dissolving the team, in terms of being able to actually respond to what happened on Jan. 6.” The former employee, along with several others TIME interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity, for fear that being named would ruin their career. Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesSamidh Chakrabarti, head of Facebook’s civic-integrity team, stands beside Katie Harbath, a Facebook director of public policy, in Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on Oct. 17, 2018.   Enter Frances Haugen Haugen revealed her identity on Oct. 3 as the whistle-blower behind the most significant leak of internal research in the company’s 17-year history. In a bombshell testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security two days later, Haugen said the civic-integrity team’s dissolution was the final event in a long series that convinced her of the need to blow the whistle. “I think the moment which I realized we needed to get help from the outside—that the only way these problems would be solved is by solving them together, not solving them alone—was when civic-integrity was dissolved following the 2020 election,” she said. “It really felt like a betrayal of the promises Facebook had made to people who had sacrificed a great deal to keep the election safe, by basically dissolving our community.” Read more: The Facebook Whistleblower Revealed Herself on 60 Minutes. Here’s What You Need to Know In a statement provided to TIME, Facebook’s vice president for integrity Guy Rosen denied the civic-integrity team had been disbanded. “We did not disband Civic Integrity,” Rosen said. “We integrated it into a larger Central Integrity team so that the incredible work pioneered for elections could be applied even further, for example, across health-related issues. Their work continues to this day.” (Facebook did not make Rosen available for an interview for this story.) Impacts of Civic Technology Conference 2016The defining values of the civic-integrity team, as described in a 2016 presentation given by Samidh Chakrabarti and Winter Mason. Civic-integrity team members were expected to adhere to this list of values, which was referred to internally as the “civic oath”. Haugen left the company in May. Before she departed, she trawled Facebook’s internal employee forum for documents posted by integrity researchers about their work. Much of the research was not related to her job, but was accessible to all Facebook employees. What she found surprised her. Some of the documents detailed an internal study that found that Instagram, its photo-sharing app, made 32% of teen girls feel worse about their bodies. Others showed how a change to Facebook’s algorithm in 2018, touted as a way to increase “meaningful social interactions” on the platform, actually incentivized divisive posts and misinformation. They also revealed that Facebook spends almost all of its budget for keeping the platform safe only on English-language content. In September, the Wall Street Journal published a damning series of articles based on some of the documents that Haugen had leaked to the paper. Haugen also gave copies of the documents to Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The documents, Haugen testified Oct. 5, “prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled the public about what its own research reveals about the safety of children, the efficacy of its artificial intelligence systems, and its role in spreading divisive and extreme messages.” She told Senators that the failings revealed by the documents were all linked by one deep, underlying truth about how the company operates. “This is not simply a matter of certain social media users being angry or unstable, or about one side being radicalized against the other; it is about Facebook choosing to grow at all costs, becoming an almost trillion-dollar company by buying its profits with our safety,” she said. Facebook’s focus on increasing user engagement, which ultimately drives ad revenue and staves off competition, she argued, may keep users coming back to the site day after day—but also systematically boosts content that is polarizing, misinformative and angry, and which can send users down dark rabbit holes of political extremism or, in the case of teen girls, body dysmorphia and eating disorders. “The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people,” Haugen said. (In 2020, the company reported $29 billion in net income—up 58% from a year earlier. This year, it briefly surpassed $1 trillion in total market value, though Haugen’s leaks have since knocked the company down to around $940 billion.) Asked if executives adhered to the same set of values as the civic-integrity team, including putting the public’s interests before Facebook’s, a company spokesperson told TIME it was “safe to say everyone at Facebook is committed to understanding our impact, keeping people safe and reducing polarization.” In the same week that an unrelated systems outage took Facebook’s services offline for hours and revealed just how much the world relies on the company’s suite of products—including WhatsApp and Instagram—the revelations sparked a new round of national soul-searching. It led some to question how one company can have such a profound impact on both democracy and the mental health of hundreds of millions of people. Haugen’s documents are the basis for at least eight new SEC investigations into the company for potentially misleading its investors. And they have prompted senior lawmakers from both parties to call for stringent new regulations. Read more: Here’s How to Fix Facebook, According to Former Employees and Leading Critics Haugen urged Congress to pass laws that would make Facebook and other social media platforms legally liable for decisions about how they choose to rank content in users’ feeds, and force companies to make their internal data available to independent researchers. She also urged lawmakers to find ways to loosen CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s iron grip on Facebook; he controls more than half of voting shares on its board, meaning he can veto any proposals for change from within. “I came forward at great personal risk because I believe we still have time to act,” Haugen told lawmakers. “But we must act now.” Potentially even more worryingly for Facebook, other experts it hired to keep the platform safe, now alienated by the company’s actions, are growing increasingly critical of their former employer. They experienced first hand Facebook’s unwillingness to change, and they know where the bodies are buried. Now, on the outside, some of them are still honoring their pledge to put the public’s interests ahead of Facebook’s. Inside Facebook’s civic-integrity team Chakrabarti, the head of the civic-integrity team, was hired by Facebook in 2015 from Google, where he had worked on improving how the search engine communicated information about lawmakers and elections to its users. A polymath described by one person who worked under him as a “Renaissance man,” Chakrabarti holds master’s degrees from MIT, Oxford and Cambridge, in artificial intelligence engineering, modern history and public policy, respectively, according to his LinkedIn profile. Although he was not in charge of Facebook’s company-wide “integrity” efforts (led by Rosen), Chakrabarti, who did not respond to requests to comment for this article, was widely seen by employees as the spiritual leader of the push to make sure the platform had a positive influence on democracy and user safety, according to multiple former employees. “He was a very inspirational figure to us, and he really embodied those values [enshrined in the civic oath] and took them quite seriously,” a former member of the team told TIME. “The team prioritized societal good over Facebook good. It was a team that really cared about the ways to address societal problems first and foremost. It was not a team that was dedicated to contributing to Facebook’s bottom line.” Chakrabarti began work on the team by questioning how Facebook could encourage people to be more engaged with their elected representatives on the platform, several of his former team members said. An early move was to suggest tweaks to Facebook’s “more pages you may like” feature that the team hoped might make users feel more like they could have an impact on politics. After the chaos of the 2016 election, which prompted Zuckerberg himself to admit that Facebook didn’t do enough to stop misinformation, the team evolved. It moved into Facebook’s wider “integrity” product group, which employs thousands of researchers and engineers to focus on fixing Facebook’s problems of misinformation, hate speech, foreign interference and harassment. It changed its name from “civic engagement” to “civic integrity,” and began tackling the platform’s most difficult problems head-on. Shortly before the midterm elections in 2018, Chakrabarti gave a talk at a conference in which he said he had “never been told to sacrifice people’s safety in order to chase a profit.” His team was hard at work making sure the midterm elections did not suffer the same failures as in 2016, in an effort that was generally seen as a success, both inside the company and externally. “To see the way that the company has mobilized to make this happen has made me feel very good about what we’re doing here,” Chakrabarti told reporters at the time. But behind closed doors, integrity employees on Chakrabarti’s team and others were increasingly getting into disagreements with Facebook leadership, former employees said. It was the beginning of the process that would eventually motivate Haugen to blow the whistle. Drew Angerer—Getty ImagesFormer Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifies during a Senate hearing entitled ‘Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower’ in Washington, D.C., Oct. 5, 2021. In 2019, the year Haugen joined the company, researchers on the civic-integrity team proposed ending the use of an approved list of thousands of political accounts that were exempt from Facebook’s fact-checking program, according to tech news site The Information. Their research had found that the exemptions worsened the site’s misinformation problem because users were more likely to believe false information if it were shared by a politician. But Facebook executives rejected the proposal. The pattern repeated time and time again, as proposals to tweak the platform to down-rank misinformation or abuse were rejected or watered down by executives concerned with engagement or worried that changes might disproportionately impact one political party more than another, according to multiple reports in the press and several former employees. One cynical joke among members of the civic-integrity team was that they spent 10% of their time coding and the other 90% arguing that the code they wrote should be allowed to run, one former employee told TIME. “You write code that does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and then you had to argue with execs who didn’t want to think about integrity, had no training in it and were mad that you were hurting their product, so they shut you down,” the person said. Sometimes the civic-integrity team would also come into conflict with Facebook’s policy teams, which share the dual role of setting the rules of the platform while also lobbying politicians on Facebook’s behalf. “I found many times that there were tensions [in meetings] because the civic-integrity team was like, ‘We’re operating off this oath; this is our mission and our goal,’” says Katie Harbath, a long-serving public-policy director at the company’s Washington, D.C., office who quit in March 2021. “And then you get into decisionmaking meetings, and all of a sudden things are going another way, because the rest of the company and leadership are not basing their decisions off those principles.” Harbath admitted not always seeing eye to eye with Chakrabarti on matters of company policy, but praised his character. “Samidh is a man of integrity, to use the word,” she told TIME. “I personally saw times when he was like, ‘How can I run an integrity team if I’m not upholding integrity as a person?’” Do you work at Facebook or another social media platform? TIME would love to hear from you. You can reach out to billy.perrigo@time.com Years before the 2020 election, research by integrity teams had shown Facebook’s group recommendations feature was radicalizing users by driving them toward polarizing political groups, according to the Journal. The company declined integrity teams’ requests to turn off the feature, BuzzFeed News reported. Then, just weeks before the vote, Facebook executives changed their minds and agreed to freeze political group recommendations. The company also tweaked its News Feed to make it less likely that users would see content that algorithms flagged as potential misinformation, part of temporary emergency “break glass” measures designed by integrity teams in the run-up to the vote. “Facebook changed those safety defaults in the run-up to the election because they knew they were dangerous,” Haugen testified to Senators on Tuesday. But they didn’t keep those safety measures in place long, she added. “Because they wanted that growth back, they wanted the acceleration on the platform back after the election, they returned to their original defaults. And the fact that they had to break the glass on Jan. 6, and turn them back on, I think that’s deeply problematic.” In a statement, Facebook spokesperson Tom Reynolds rejected the idea that the company’s actions contributed to the events of Jan. 6. “In phasing in and then adjusting additional measures before, during and after the election, we took into account specific on-platforms signals and information from our ongoing, regular engagement with law enforcement,” he said. “When those signals changed, so did the measures. It is wrong to claim that these steps were the reason for Jan. 6—the measures we did need remained in place through February, and some like not recommending new, civic or political groups remain in place to this day. These were all part of a much longer and larger strategy to protect the election on our platform—and we are proud of that work.” Read more: 4 Big Takeaways From the Facebook Whistleblower Congressional Hearing Soon after the civic-integrity team was dissolved in December 2020, Chakrabarti took a leave of absence from Facebook. In August, he announced he was leaving for good. Other employees who had spent years working on platform-safety issues had begun leaving, too. In her testimony, Haugen said that several of her colleagues from civic integrity left Facebook in the same six-week period as her, after losing faith in the company’s pledge to spread their influence around the company. “Six months after the reorganization, we had clearly lost faith that those changes were coming,” she said. After Haugen’s Senate testimony, Facebook’s director of policy communications Lena Pietsch suggested that Haugen’s criticisms were invalid because she “worked at the company for less than two years, had no direct reports, never attended a decision-point meeting with C-level executives—and testified more than six times to not working on the subject matter in question.” On Twitter, Chakrabarti said he was not supportive of company leaks but spoke out in support of the points Haugen raised at the hearing. “I was there for over 6 years, had numerous direct reports, and led many decision meetings with C-level execs, and I find the perspectives shared on the need for algorithmic regulation, research transparency, and independent oversight to be entirely valid for debate,” he wrote. “The public deserves better.” Can Facebook’s latest moves protect the company? Two months after disbanding the civic-integrity team, Facebook announced a sharp directional shift: it would begin testing ways to reduce the amount of political content in users’ News Feeds altogether. In August, the company said early testing of such a change among a small percentage of U.S. users was successful, and that it would expand the tests to several other countries. Facebook declined to provide TIME with further information about how its proposed down-ranking system for political content would work. Many former employees who worked on integrity issues at the company are skeptical of the idea. “You’re saying that you’re going to define for people what political content is, and what it isn’t,” James Barnes, a former product manager on the civic-integrity team, said in an interview. “I cannot even begin to imagine all of the downstream consequences that nobody understands from doing that.” Another former civic-integrity team member said that the amount of work required to design algorithms that could detect any political content in all the languages and countries in the world—and keeping those algorithms updated to accurately map the shifting tides of political debate—would be a task that even Facebook does not have the resources to achieve fairly and equitably. Attempting to do so would almost certainly result in some content deemed political being demoted while other posts thrived, the former employee cautioned. It could also incentivize certain groups to try to game those algorithms by talking about politics in nonpolitical language, creating an arms race for engagement that would privilege the actors with enough resources to work out how to win, the same person added. Graeme Jennings—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesMark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook, speaks via video conference during a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., on, July 29, 2020. When Zuckerberg was hauled to testify in front of lawmakers after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal in 2018, Senators were roundly mocked on social media for asking basic questions such as how Facebook makes money if its services are free to users. (“Senator, we run ads” was Zuckerberg’s reply.) In 2021, that dynamic has changed. “The questions asked are a lot more informed,” says Sophie Zhang, a former Facebook employee who was fired in 2020 after she criticized Facebook for turning a blind eye to platform manipulation by political actors around the world. “The sentiment is increasingly bipartisan” in Congress, Zhang adds. In the past, Facebook hearings have been used by lawmakers to grandstand on polarizing subjects like whether social media platforms are censoring conservatives, but this week they were united in their condemnation of the company. “Facebook has to stop covering up what it knows, and must change its practices, but there has to be government accountability because Facebook can no longer be trusted,” Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, told TIME ahead of the hearing. His Republican counterpart Marsha Blackburn agreed, saying during the hearing that regulation was coming “sooner rather than later” and that lawmakers were “close to bipartisan agreement.” As Facebook reels from the revelations of the past few days, it already appears to be reassessing product decisions. It has begun conducting reputational reviews of new products to assess whether the company could be criticized or its features could negatively affect children, the Journal reported Wednesday. It last week paused its Instagram Kids product amid the furor. Whatever the future direction of Facebook, it is clear that discontent has been brewing internally. Haugen’s document leak and testimony have already sparked calls for stricter regulation and improved the quality of public debate about social media’s influence. In a post addressing Facebook staff on Wednesday, Zuckerberg put the onus on lawmakers to update Internet regulations, particularly relating to “elections, harmful content, privacy and competition.” But the real drivers of change may be current and former employees, who have a better understanding of the inner workings of the company than anyone—and the most potential to damage the business. —With reporting by Eloise Barry/London and Chad de Guzman/Hong Kong.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 7th, 2021

"It"s Just Not True" - Zuckerberg Responds To Claims Facebook Puts "Profits Over People"

"It's Just Not True" - Zuckerberg Responds To Claims Facebook Puts 'Profits Over People' Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who revealed herself as 'the Facebook whistleblower' in an interview with '60 Minutes' that ran Sunday night before appearing before Sen. Dick Blumenthal's powerful Commerce subcommittee, has managed to catalyze the biggest scandal in Facebook's brief history - even bigger than the whole data privacy/Cambridge Analytica that led to a series of Congressional hearings back in 2018. The information Haugen leaked to WSJ clearly show Facebook was fully aware of the drawbacks and risks related to its various platforms. So, as clips of her performance play on repeat across America's cable news channels, Facebook CEO/Founder Mark Zuckerberg is speaking up to respond. In a note sent to Facebook employees before being posted publicly, Zuckerberg insisted that Haugen's main criticism - that Facebook routinely puts profits ahead of socially-responsible behavior - is a "false narrative" and "just not true." "It’s difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I think most of us just don’t recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted," Zuck said in the note. "At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profit over safety and well-being. That's just not true." In the statement, Zuck said he was particularly bothered by the implication that Facebook disregards the safety of children, particularly teen girls. "When it comes to young people’s health or well-being, every negative experience matters,” the CEO wrote. “We have worked for years on industry-leading efforts to help people in these moments and I’m proud of the work we’ve done.” Zuck concluded by thanking Facebook employees for their hard work and expressing his gratitude during this difficult time. Hopefully - for Zuck's sake - employees won't be motivated to leak more embarrassing internal research to the press. During yesterday's testimony, Sen. Blumenthal accused Facebook of being "morally bankrupt", and demanded that Zuckerberg return to the Hill once again to testify in person, something Zuckerberg is loathed to do (which is probably why the company already sent its 'head of safety'' Antigone Davis to rebut the allegations and answer questions from lawmakers during a hearing last week). Ironically, Facebook suffered one of its longest and biggest outages yet yesterday, with its services cut off to the world for a large chunk of the day. As for Zuck's statement, Edward Snowden tweeted early Wednesday that Zuck's 1,300-word post was "on brand, really" as the CEO once again tried to frame his company as the real victim here. Zuckerberg responds to a global outage and national scandal by claiming @Facebook is the real victim here, and modestly proposing Congress consider: A) legally restricting teen use of internet services B) identify verification mandates C) limiting teen privacy On-brand, really. pic.twitter.com/0hMRf5HpKf — Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 6, 2021 Readers can find Zuck's complete note below: * * * I wanted to share a note I wrote to everyone at our company. Hey everyone: it's been quite a week, and I wanted to share some thoughts with all of you. First, the SEV that took down all our services yesterday was the worst outage we've had in years. We've spent the past 24 hours debriefing how we can strengthen our systems against this kind of failure. This was also a reminder of how much our work matters to people. The deeper concern with an outage like this isn't how many people switch to competitive services or how much money we lose, but what it means for the people who rely on our services to communicate with loved ones, run their businesses, or support their communities. Second, now that today's testimony is over, I wanted to reflect on the public debate we're in. I'm sure many of you have found the recent coverage hard to read because it just doesn't reflect the company we know. We care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health. It's difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I think most of us just don't recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted. Many of the claims don't make any sense. If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry-leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place? If we didn't care about fighting harmful content, then why would we employ so many more people dedicated to this than any other company in our space -- even ones larger than us? If we wanted to hide our results, why would we have established an industry-leading standard for transparency and reporting on what we're doing? And if social media were as responsible for polarizing society as some people claim, then why are we seeing polarization increase in the US while it stays flat or declines in many countries with just as heavy use of social media around the world? At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profit over safety and well-being. That's just not true. For example, one move that has been called into question is when we introduced the Meaningful Social Interactions change to News Feed. This change showed fewer viral videos and more content from friends and family -- which we did knowing it would mean people spent less time on Facebook, but that research suggested it was the right thing for people's well-being. Is that something a company focused on profits over people would do? The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don't want their ads next to harmful or angry content. And I don't know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed. The moral, business and product incentives all point in the opposite direction. But of everything published, I'm particularly focused on the questions raised about our work with kids. I've spent a lot of time reflecting on the kinds of experiences I want my kids and others to have online, and it's very important to me that everything we build is safe and good for kids. The reality is that young people use technology. Think about how many school-age kids have phones. Rather than ignoring this, technology companies should build experiences that meet their needs while also keeping them safe. We're deeply committed to doing industry-leading work in this area. A good example of this work is Messenger Kids, which is widely recognized as better and safer than alternatives. We've also worked on bringing this kind of age-appropriate experience with parental controls for Instagram too. But given all the questions about whether this would actually be better for kids, we've paused that project to take more time to engage with experts and make sure anything we do would be helpful. Like many of you, I found it difficult to read the mischaracterization of the research into how Instagram affects young people. As we wrote in our Newsroom post explaining this: "The research actually demonstrated that many teens we heard from feel that using Instagram helps them when they are struggling with the kinds of hard moments and issues teenagers have always faced. In fact, in 11 of 12 areas on the slide referenced by the Journal -- including serious areas like loneliness, anxiety, sadness and eating issues -- more teenage girls who said they struggled with that issue also said Instagram made those difficult times better rather than worse." But when it comes to young people's health or well-being, every negative experience matters. It is incredibly sad to think of a young person in a moment of distress who, instead of being comforted, has their experience made worse. We have worked for years on industry-leading efforts to help people in these moments and I'm proud of the work we've done. We constantly use our research to improve this work further. Similar to balancing other social issues, I don't believe private companies should make all of the decisions on their own. That's why we have advocated for updated internet regulations for several years now. I have testified in Congress multiple times and asked them to update these regulations. I've written op-eds outlining the areas of regulation we think are most important related to elections, harmful content, privacy, and competition. We're committed to doing the best work we can, but at some level the right body to assess tradeoffs between social equities is our democratically elected Congress. For example, what is the right age for teens to be able to use internet services? How should internet services verify people's ages? And how should companies balance teens' privacy while giving parents visibility into their activity? If we're going to have an informed conversation about the effects of social media on young people, it's important to start with a full picture. We're committed to doing more research ourselves and making more research publicly available. That said, I'm worried about the incentives that are being set here. We have an industry-leading research program so that we can identify important issues and work on them. It's disheartening to see that work taken out of context and used to construct a false narrative that we don't care. If we attack organizations making an effort to study their impact on the world, we're effectively sending the message that it's safer not to look at all, in case you find something that could be held against you. That's the conclusion other companies seem to have reached, and I think that leads to a place that would be far worse for society. Even though it might be easier for us to follow that path, we're going to keep doing research because it's the right thing to do. I know it's frustrating to see the good work we do get mischaracterized, especially for those of you who are making important contributions across safety, integrity, research and product. But I believe that over the long term if we keep trying to do what's right and delivering experiences that improve people's lives, it will be better for our community and our business. I've asked leaders across the company to do deep dives on our work across many areas over the next few days so you can see everything that we're doing to get there. When I reflect on our work, I think about the real impact we have on the world -- the people who can now stay in touch with their loved ones, create opportunities to support themselves, and find community. This is why billions of people love our products. I'm proud of everything we do to keep building the best social products in the world and grateful to all of you for the work you do here every day. * * * Source: Facebook Tyler Durden Wed, 10/06/2021 - 08:27.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 6th, 2021

Mark Zuckerberg says whistleblower"s claims that Facebook places profit over people "don"t make any sense." Read his full response to the whistleblower"s testimony.

"I think most of us just don't recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted," Zuckerberg told Facebook staff in his statement. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Washington D.C. on Oct. 23, 2019. Andrew Harnik/AP Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress on Tuesday. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to the hearing with a 1,300-word statement. Zuckerberg said multiple claims made during the hearing "don't make any sense." See more stories on Insider's business page. Facebook CEO Zuckerberg has criticized testimony from former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, who told a US Senate committee on Tuesday that the company consistently placed profit over people, allowing its algorithms to perpetuate harm in pursuit of growth."At the most basic level, I think most of us just don't recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted," Zuckerberg said as part of a 1,300-word Facebook post, which he said he'd circulated to employees. He said that "many of the claims" at the hearing didn't "make any sense."A recurring theme in Tuesday's hearing was whether Facebook was harmful to children. Haugen presented evidence of an internal research paper from Instagram in which 32% of teen girls said that when they were feeling bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse. Zuckerberg repeated a previous statement from the company that the paper had been taken out of context, and had found Instagram also had a positive effect on teens' mental health. He also seemed to suggest that if people criticized similar research, companies would stop doing it."It's disheartening to see that work taken out of context and used to construct a false narrative that we don't care. If we attack organizations making an effort to study their impact on the world, we're effectively sending the message that it's safer not to look at all, in case you find something that could be held against you," Zuckerberg said.He said it was unrealistic to expect social media companies to ignore child users."The reality is that young people use technology. Think about how many school-age kids have phones. Rather than ignoring this, technology companies should build experiences that meet their needs while also keeping them safe. We're deeply committed to doing industry-leading work in this area," he said. Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen arrives to testify before a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Washington. Drew Angerer/Pool via AP Zuckerberg also rejected the claim that Facebook optimized its algorithms for content that provokes strong emotion because that type of content gets the most engagement."The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don't want their ads next to harmful or angry content. And I don't know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed," Zuckerberg said.He also asked a string of rhetorical questions."If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry-leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place? If we didn't care about fighting harmful content, then why would we employ so many more people dedicated to this than any other company in our space - even ones larger than us?," Zuckerberg said.He did not clarify which company or companies he was referring to that were larger than Facebook.During her testimony, Haugen told the Senators that Zuckerberg had full control over what goes on at Facebook because he holds more than half of all voting shares for the company. "In the end the buck stops with Mark, there is no one currently holding Mark accountable but himself."Read Zuckerberg's full statement here:Hey everyone: it's been quite a week, and I wanted to share some thoughts with all of you.First, the SEV that took down all our services yesterday was the worst outage we've had in years. We've spent the past 24 hours debriefing how we can strengthen our systems against this kind of failure. This was also a reminder of how much our work matters to people. The deeper concern with an outage like this isn't how many people switch to competitive services or how much money we lose, but what it means for the people who rely on our services to communicate with loved ones, run their businesses, or support their communities.Second, now that today's testimony is over, I wanted to reflect on the public debate we're in. I'm sure many of you have found the recent coverage hard to read because it just doesn't reflect the company we know. We care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health. It's difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I think most of us just don't recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted.Many of the claims don't make any sense. If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry-leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place? If we didn't care about fighting harmful content, then why would we employ so many more people dedicated to this than any other company in our space - even ones larger than us? If we wanted to hide our results, why would we have established an industry-leading standard for transparency and reporting on what we're doing? And if social media were as responsible for polarizing society as some people claim, then why are we seeing polarization increase in the US while it stays flat or declines in many countries with just as heavy use of social media around the world?At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profit over safety and well-being. That's just not true. For example, one move that has been called into question is when we introduced the Meaningful Social Interactions change to News Feed. This change showed fewer viral videos and more content from friends and family -- which we did knowing it would mean people spent less time on Facebook, but that research suggested it was the right thing for people's well-being. Is that something a company focused on profits over people would do?The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don't want their ads next to harmful or angry content. And I don't know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed. The moral, business and product incentives all point in the opposite direction.But of everything published, I'm particularly focused on the questions raised about our work with kids. I've spent a lot of time reflecting on the kinds of experiences I want my kids and others to have online, and it's very important to me that everything we build is safe and good for kids.The reality is that young people use technology. Think about how many school-age kids have phones. Rather than ignoring this, technology companies should build experiences that meet their needs while also keeping them safe. We're deeply committed to doing industry-leading work in this area. A good example of this work is Messenger Kids, which is widely recognized as better and safer than alternatives.We've also worked on bringing this kind of age-appropriate experience with parental controls for Instagram too. But given all the questions about whether this would actually be better for kids, we've paused that project to take more time to engage with experts and make sure anything we do would be helpful.Like many of you, I found it difficult to read the mischaracterization of the research into how Instagram affects young people. As we wrote in our Newsroom post explaining this: "The research actually demonstrated that many teens we heard from feel that using Instagram helps them when they are struggling with the kinds of hard moments and issues teenagers have always faced. In fact, in 11 of 12 areas on the slide referenced by the Journal - including serious areas like loneliness, anxiety, sadness and eating issues - more teenage girls who said they struggled with that issue also said Instagram made those difficult times better rather than worse."But when it comes to young people's health or well-being, every negative experience matters. It is incredibly sad to think of a young person in a moment of distress who, instead of being comforted, has their experience made worse. We have worked for years on industry-leading efforts to help people in these moments and I'm proud of the work we've done. We constantly use our research to improve this work further.Similar to balancing other social issues, I don't believe private companies should make all of the decisions on their own. That's why we have advocated for updated internet regulations for several years now. I have testified in Congress multiple times and asked them to update these regulations. I've written op-eds outlining the areas of regulation we think are most important related to elections, harmful content, privacy, and competition.We're committed to doing the best work we can, but at some level the right body to assess tradeoffs between social equities is our democratically elected Congress. For example, what is the right age for teens to be able to use internet services? How should internet services verify people's ages? And how should companies balance teens' privacy while giving parents visibility into their activity?If we're going to have an informed conversation about the effects of social media on young people, it's important to start with a full picture. We're committed to doing more research ourselves and making more research publicly available.That said, I'm worried about the incentives that are being set here. We have an industry-leading research program so that we can identify important issues and work on them. It's disheartening to see that work taken out of context and used to construct a false narrative that we don't care. If we attack organizations making an effort to study their impact on the world, we're effectively sending the message that it's safer not to look at all, in case you find something that could be held against you. That's the conclusion other companies seem to have reached, and I think that leads to a place that would be far worse for society. Even though it might be easier for us to follow that path, we're going to keep doing research because it's the right thing to do.I know it's frustrating to see the good work we do get mischaracterized, especially for those of you who are making important contributions across safety, integrity, research and product. But I believe that over the long term if we keep trying to do what's right and delivering experiences that improve people's lives, it will be better for our community and our business. I've asked leaders across the company to do deep dives on our work across many areas over the next few days so you can see everything that we're doing to get there.When I reflect on our work, I think about the real impact we have on the world - the people who can now stay in touch with their loved ones, create opportunities to support themselves, and find community. This is why billions of people love our products. I'm proud of everything we do to keep building the best social products in the world and grateful to all of you for the work you do here every day.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 6th, 2021

The most important moments from the Facebook whistleblower"s testimony: "The buck stops with Mark"

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen will tell officials that "congressional action is needed" against the firm during a hearing Tuesday. Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen arrives to testify before a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Washington. Drew Angerer/Pool via AP Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress Tuesday. The hearing comes after she leaked internal documents showing the company's controversial practices. She testified that Facebook prioritized profits over stopping extremism and division. See more stories on Insider's business page. Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before a Senate committee on Tuesday after leaking internal documents shedding new light on many of the social media giant's controversial business practices.Haugen shared the documents with the Wall Street Journal that in part showed Facebook knew Instagram negatively impacted the mental health of its young users, especially teenage girls. It also showed employees were worried that a 2018 algorithm change further promoted sensationalistic and divisive content to users.She stressed the need for a regulatory body within the federal government to oversee Facebook and other platforms but also said she is against breaking the company up. Senators have called her an "American hero" and a "catalyst" for change.Facebook consistently resolves conflicts "in favor of its own profits," Haugen said in her opening remarks. "The result has been more division, more harm, more lies, more threats, and more combat."Haugen referenced Monday's sweeping Facebook outageIn her opening remarks, Haugen said she doesn't know why the services went down. "But I know that for more than five hours, Facebook wasn't used to deepened divides destabilize democracies and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies," she said."It also means the millions of small businesses, weren't able to reach potential customers, and countless photos of new babies weren't joyously celebrated by family and friends around the world," she said. 'The buck stops with Mark'Haugen said CEO Mark Zuckerberg holds more than half of all voting shares for Facebook, giving him unilateral control over the company. In that sense, "the buck stops with" him when making major decisions at Facebook."There is no one currently holding Mark accountable but himself," Haugen told Congress. She suggested a regulatory agency within the federal government to help keep Facebook and other technology platforms in check. She also said that regulatory oversight "might actually make Facebook a more profitable company five or 10 years from now," and the platform could be even "kinder, friendlier, and more collaborative.""It's in everyone's interest," Haugen said Tuesday. She said she's against breaking up the company though."These systems will continue to exist and be dangerous even if broken up," Haugen said.Facebook responded in real-timeFacebook's communications lead responded to Haugen publicly for the first time as the hearing was in progress, claiming in response to her comments about child safety for children on the platform and related research that she "did not work on child safety or Instagram."-Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 5, 2021Shortly after, another spokesman disputed Haugen's claims that Facebook removed controls it added around the election and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, while claiming she did not work on such efforts."We left a number of the measures on through Jan 6, added additional measures following the violence at the Capitol, and made some of the changes-like not recommending political groups-permanent."Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn referenced Stone's tweets during the hearing and invited the company to testify itself before Congress.Instagram Kids is expected to come out, eventuallyHaugen and the Senate committee members expressed doubt that Facebook's announcement that it was "pausing" the development of an Instagram for children under 13 years old would last long or result in a permanent scrapping of plans for such a platform."I'd be sincerely surprised if they don't continue working on Instagram Kids," Haugen said. "I'd be amazed if a year from now we're not having this conversation again." "Facebook understands that if they want to continue to grow, they have to find new users and that the next generation is just as engaged as the current one," Haugen added. "And they'll do that by making sure they have habits before they have good self-regulation -- by hooking kids."Haugen previously said on 60 Minutes Sunday that Facebook's own research found that Instagram contributes to eating disorders, including anorexia, in teenage girls."There are going to be women walking around this planet in 60 years with brittle bones because of choices that Facebook made around emphasizing profit today," Haugen told Congress Tuesday.Mark Zuckerberg rejected suggested 'soft interventions' Haugen said in April of last year, in the runup to the U.S. presidential election, Mark Zuckerberg "was directly presented with a list of soft interventions," so options to tamp down potentially harmful content, but chose not to because it would impact the platform's MSI, or the rates at which content is engaged with and shared."Mark Zuckerberg was directly presented with a list of soft interventions and chose to not remove downstream MSI in April of 2020, even in isolated and at-risk countries, if it had any impact on the overall MSI," Haugen said.She said her "best theory" for this reasoning is because "people's bonuses are based on MSI. If you hurt MSI, a bunch of people wouldn't get their bonuses."Haugen said Facebook can't stop vaccine misinformation "I don't believe Facebook as it's currently structured has the ability to stop vaccine misinformation" because it relies too heavily on AI to sift through content.Facebook's heavy reliance on machines to police posts was a central theme in Tuesday's hearing.An 'American hero'Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, called Haugen "A 21st-century American hero.""We owe you a huge debt of gratitude for what you're doing here today," he said.Echoing Markey, Sen. Klobuchar told Haugen: "I think the time has come for action, and I think you are the catalyst for that action." And Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Haugen coming forward sets an example for our nation and "that one person can really make a difference."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 5th, 2021

The most important moments from the Facebook whistleblower"s testimony

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen will tell officials that "congressional action is needed" against the firm during a hearing Tuesday. Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen arrives to testify before a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Washington. Drew Angerer/Pool via AP Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen will testify before Congress Tuesday. The hearing comes after she leaked internal documents showing the company's controversial practices. She's expected to testify that Facebook prioritized profits over stopping extremism and division. See more stories on Insider's business page. Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before a Senate committee on Tuesday after leaking internal documents shedding new light on many of the social media giant's controversial business practices.Haugen shared the documents with the Wall Street Journal that in part showed Facebook knew Instagram negatively impacted the mental health of its young users, especially teenage girls. It also showed employees were worried that a 2018 algorithm change further promoted sensationalistic and divisive content to users.Facebook consistently resolves conflicts "in favor of its own profits," Haugen said in her opening remarks. "The result has been more division, more harm, more lies, more threats, and more combat."Haugen referenced Monday's sweeping Facebook outageIn her opening remarks, Haugen said she doesn't know why the services went down. "But I know that for more than five hours, Facebook wasn't used to deepened divides destabilize democracies and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies," she said."It also means the millions of small businesses, weren't able to reach potential customers, and countless photos of new babies weren't joyously celebrated by family and friends around the world," she said. 'The buck stops with Mark'Haugen said CEO Mark Zuckerberg holds more than half of all voting shares for Facebook, giving him unilateral control over the company. In that sense, "the buck stops with" him when making major decisions at Facebook."There is no one currently holding Mark accountable but himself," Haugen told Congress. She suggested a regulatory agency within the federal government to help keep Facebook and other technology platforms in check. Facebook respondsFacebook's communications lead responded to Haugen publicly for the first time as the hearing was in progress, claiming in response to her comments about child safety for children on the platform and related research that she "did not work on child safety or Instagram."-Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 5, 2021Shortly after, another spokesman disputed Haugen's claims that Facebook removed controls it added around the election and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, while claiming she did not work on such efforts.We left a number of the measures on through Jan 6, added additional measures following the violence at the Capitol, and made some of the changes-like not recommending political groups-permanent."Instagram Kids is expected to come out, eventuallyHaugen and the Senate committee members expressed doubt that Facebook's announcement that it was "pausing" the development of an Instagram for children under 13 years old would last long or result in a permanent scrapping of plans for such a platform."I'd be sincerely surprised if they don't continue working on Instagram Kids," Haugen said. "I'd be amazed if a year from now we're not having this conversation again." "Facebook understands that if they want to continue to grow, they have to find new users and that the next generation is just as engaged as the current one," Haugen added. "And they'll do that by making sure they have habits before they have good self-regulation -- by hooking kids."Mark Zuckerberg rejected suggested 'soft interventions' Haugen said in April of last year, in the run up to the U.S. presidential election, Mark Zuckerberg "was directly presented with a list of soft interventions," so options to tamp down potentialy harmful content, but chose not to because it would impact the platform's MSI, or the rates at which content is engaged with and shared."Mark Zuckerberg was directly presented with a list of soft interventions and chose to not remove downstream MSI in April of 2020, even in isolated and at-risk countries, if it had any impact on the overall MSI," Haugen said.She said her "best theory" for this reasoning is "People's bonuses are based on MSI. If you hurt MSI, a bunch of people wouldn't get their bonuses."An 'American hero'Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, called Haugen "A 21st century American hero.""We owe you a huge debt of gratitude for what you're doing here today," he said.The committee went into recess around 11:45 a.m. ETThis story is developing. Check back for updates. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 5th, 2021