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Weekend Wheels: Gadzooks! Gazoo fires up excitement in Toyota GR86

Base price, including destination: $28,725 Mpg range: 21/31, automatic; 20/27, manual; premium fuel Seating: 2+2 Manufactured: Japan National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Not yet rated; www.safercar.gov JDPower.com rating: Not rated Website: www.toyota.com Competitors: BMW 230i, Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, Honda Civic Si, Hyundai Veloster, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Mini Cooper, Subaru WRX and BRZ, Toyota GR Corolla and GRSupra, Volkswagen Golf GTI Bottom line: Affordable rear-drive….....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsMay 14th, 2022

I spent 17 months working remotely during the pandemic. Now I"m back in the office and love my job again

I started a new job in August 2020. It wasn't until January 2022 that I finally moved to London and went to the office for the first time. I now go to the office about three days a week.Zahra Tayeb/Insider I started a new job in August 2020 and spent the first 17 months working from home. I finally moved to London and visited the office for the first time in January 2022. I'd been worried about adapting to office life, but I actually really enjoy coming in. When Insider offered me a job in July 2020, I knew I'd start off working remotely.At the start of the pandemic I'd left my house share in Newcastle, in the north of England, and moved back in with my parents in Bradford, like many other people in their 20s. I joined Insider as an intern in August 2020 and was told I'd be working from home to start with.Because I was on a six-month contract and the office wasn't open, I didn't see any need to move to London.I get on really well with my parents, rent in London is incredibly high, I wouldn't be able to go to the office anyway, and all my work can be done from home. So I stayed put.Even when I was made permanent and Insider reopened its office in summer 2021, I still decided to continue working from home in Bradford.I was sometimes jealous of my colleagues spending time together, but I had huge anxiety about moving to London. I was worried about not making friends and not adapting well to working from the office.Instead, I waited until a friend was ready to move to London – and I'm really glad I did. Knowing that he'd be my flatmate was a massive comfort.Working from home has its perks. You don't have to commute or dress smartly and it's easy to adapt your schedule.But as the pandemic dragged on I started to feel deflated. The excitement of a new job had worn off, and I was tired of sitting at my desk in my bedroom all day and speaking on video calls to the same few people every week. I'd met two colleagues in person, but there were loads of people who I worked with closely yet had never spoken to face to face.So after I moved to London and England lifted its work-from-home guidance in January, I decided to visit the office for the first time.I was really anxious. I was worried my colleagues wouldn't like me and stressed about what to wear and how to behave in the office. I also thought the commute might wear me out before I even got to the office.So I spoke to a close colleague and asked what people wore and whether they brought lunch from home. Having this conversation was a huge comfort to me, and she agreed to meet me outside the office on my first day and show me around.Since then, I've been in the office at least three days a week. I sit next to colleagues I'd spoken to for months online but had never met and spend my lunch breaks with people from other teams who I hadn't come across on Slack.Sometimes my colleagues bring in cake to work. Occasionally we'll go for a walk together on our lunch breaks. Rather than grudgingly rolling out of bed to shuffle over to my desk each morning, I find myself looking forward to going to work.I'm never sure who'll be in the office, and I meet new people every day. After 17 months working from home, I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do.And as well as the social side of it, working in the office feels much more collaborative. I have better awareness of what my teammates are working on and can get their opinions on my work more easily.Cumbersome messages starting with Slack formalities ("Hi! I hope you're well and had a good weekend") can be replaced with a 30-second chat at someone's desk.I really enjoy working in the office – but I'm glad I didn't rush my decision to relocate.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 21st, 2022

The "Flash-Crash On Steroids" Scenario

The "Flash-Crash On Steroids" Scenario Authored by Bruce Wilds via Advancing Time blog, An interesting way to exercise the brain is to imagine what some of us might consider the unimaginable. That is what I ask you to do now. Many investors continue to believe that even if the stock market drops they will be smart enough to get out after taking only a minor hit. Others simply think no way exists for these markets to fall sighting a lack of investment alternatives and what they see as the Fed put having their back. After the financial crisis in 2008 when the market took nasty and violent swings many investors came away with the feeling they learned a few things that will enable them to leap to safety before it is too late. That brings us to today. Almost everyone agrees that after years of moving ever upward this bull market is long in the tooth. Today with  the economy rapidly slowing and debt across the world having exploded it seems any opportunity to panic the bears should not go unexploited. It is against this backdrop that one allows optimist fellas to think, this time is different. The thing many investors are not taking into consideration is that if the market falls like a flash crash on steroids they could be trapped. We have been assured that can't happen because circuit breakers have been put in place to arrest panic-style moves, however, imagine a market that falls, trade is halted, and the market simply does not reopen for days or even weeks. As remote as this might seem remember Japan's stock market has failed to reach the high it made decades ago. Today the Nikkei 225 trades around 25,750 even with the BoJ buying huge amounts of ETFs. See the 1980 to 2015 chart below. Japan's Nikkei 225 has yet to reach the high it made decades ago Also, please take a moment to consider the possibility and the far-reaching ramifications of stocks falling from grace. Not only would active stock market investors get hammered but pensions, 401 plans, and a slew of other investment programs would be affected. While you are imagining this scenario realize that America's stock market is the gold standard and consider how less stable global markets would react in countries like China and Brazil. For a long time, I have been trying to develop a scenario for a market "super crash" and a reasonable map that would arrive at such a situation. To say I'm negative about this economy is a gross understatement. I saw the last housing bubble coming and predicted the crash. I continue to contend that we have never recovered from the Great Recession or corrected the many problems that haunt our financial systems such as derivatives and collateralized debt obligations. By printing money, imploding interest rates, and exploding the Federal Government's deficit we have only delayed the "big one." These two quotes on macroeconomic stabilization and crisis speak volumes. First, from Macresilience; "As Minsky has documented, the history of macroeconomic interventions post-WW2 has been the history of prevention of even the smallest snapbacks that are inherent to the process of creative destruction. The result is our current financial system which is as taut as it can be, in a state of fragility where any snap-back will be catastrophic." And next from Nassim Taleb (author of The Black Swan); "Complex systems that have artificially suppressed volatility tend to become extremely fragile, while at the same time exhibiting no visible risks. In fact, they tend to be too calm and exhibit minimal variability as silent risks accumulate beneath the surface. Although the stated intention of political leaders and economic policymakers is to stabilize the system by inhibiting fluctuations, the result tends to be the opposite." These quotes suggest an analogy with ideas about forest management when natural fires are suppressed. If random fires do not periodically clear away forest underbrush, we see a build-up of flammable material sufficient to power a massive conflagration. I certainly think an equivalent truth applies to financial markets. The longer it has been since a painful collapse, the greater the willingness to pile on leverage and complexity, such that the next crisis becomes unmanageable. The "Too Big To Fail" and other policies implemented since 2008 have distorted markets across the globe and laid the groundwork for "The Big One", or what we will someday look back on as the mother of all sell-offs. Over the years not only have we witnessed many cases of government overreach and many rule changes to protect the system at the expense of the people. What happened in Cyprus years ago should serve as a warning to anyone who thinks money in the bank is safe. A bad haircut, in this case, means you have been robbed. That may be the case if the government reaches in over a long weekend and steals money from your bank account. This is a horrible precedent to set, and the worst part may be how many people accept it saying it is OK as long as it is only on the larger accounts and only impacts the savings of someone else! It is very important to remember these low-interest rates come at a price, a dark side exists to current economic policy. In the long run, the benefits they bring may be outweighed by the distortions they cause. By not taking steps to correct many of the ills lurking in our financial system we have made things worse. Absent are actual structural changes necessary for our economy to become sustainable. Instead, we have put band-aid upon band-aid, upon band-aid while what was necessary was the amputation of a diseased limb. After all the threats that this market has avoided, and sidestepped, some investors have come to think of it as invincible. This market has overcome a struggling euro, the financial cliff, the end of Greece as we knew it, a trade war, and a global pandemic. Back in August of 2016, in a similar article, I warned about being complacent in dangerous times. My studies in "microeconomics," and observations in the current real estate market, both as an owner and hands-on landlord allow me to predict, that we ain't seen nothing yet! While Knowing such a flash crash is highly unlikely it is important we consider it could happen. Remember, none of the oil traders foresaw the oil contango  that occurred in 2020 and shook the oil industry to its core. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/20/2022 - 08:23.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 20th, 2022

Russian military recruitment offices targeted in a series of mysterious arson attacks as Ukraine invasion falters

Over the weekend three military recruitment centers were attacked. It comes after a series of mysterious fires at strategic centers in Russia. Russian military cadets take part in Victory Day military parade on Dvortsovaya Square in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on May, 5, 2022.Olga Maltseva / AFP via Getty Images 3 Russian military recruitment centers were attacked over the weekend, The Moscow Times reported.  The attacks come after a series of mysterious fires at fuel depots and other sites across Russia.  Russia's military forces have sustained heavy casualties in Ukraine.  Unknown assailants hit Russian military recruitment offices in a series of arson attacks, The Moscow Times reported. Citing local media reports, the outlet reported that early Friday a man dressed in black hurled a Molotov cocktail at a recruitment center in Gukovo in southern Russia's Rostov region, which is close to the Ukrainian border. The Times reported that a similar attack had been reported Saturday in the Ryazan region southeast of Moscow, where a window was smashed and entrance damaged by fire at a recruitment center in Pronsk.In Volgograd, southern Russia, a fire was reported in the basement of a recruitment center, and a smashed glass bottle found on the scene, indicative of an arson attack using a Molotov cocktail. The incidents follow a series of explosions and fires at strategic centers across Russia, including fuel depots and military sites.Military analysts have suggested that they may be part of a Ukrainian sabotage campaign, though they did not present evidence that could prove it.RFERL reported that around 10 recruitment centers in Russia have been attacked since Russia launched its invasion on February 24, in a possible sign of growing opposition to the war in Russia. The Russian military has suffered heavy losses in its campaign in Ukraine so far, with some analysts placing the number of fatalities at around 15,000.Reports say that Russian President Vladimir Putin is considering officially declaring war with Ukraine, a measure that could enable him to mobilise the Russian population and boost the number of troops on the front line. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 18th, 2022

Pain Allocation, Frog Poison, And Druckenmiller"s Secret Weapon

Pain Allocation, Frog Poison, And Druckenmiller's Secret Weapon By Alex of the MacroOps substack “My portfolio is very balanced… I have half my assets in cash and the other half is in pain…”  My brother-in-law told me that the other day and it made me chuckle. I’m guessing that pain allocation resonates with more than a few people right now.   We’re holding 68% cash in the MO port and have been carrying productive shorts (short ETHUSD, short RTY, short NVDA) so our net exposure has been low. But even with this defensive posturing, we’ve felt some pain over the past few weeks as our port has drawn down a bit from NAV highs. It obviously could be much worse. But still, drawdowns aren’t fun.  We aren’t going to talk about markets in this note. We’ll save that for Sunday. This is going to be more of a stream of consciousness, including answers to some questions a few of you have put to me recently.  We’ll cover portfolio and trade management, thinking about macro outlooks, jungle medicine, and maybe psychedelics, we’ll see.  I did my first Kambo ceremony the other day. Kambo is known in Portuguese as the “vaccine of the forest”. It’s been used amongst the indigenous cultures of the Amazon for thousands of years and is believed to be a purgative, immunity-boosting medicine.  It’s frog poison.  They first burn your skin in a few spots and then apply the poison to the burns, so it goes straight into your bloodstream.  The poison hits quick. It first races down into your chest and sends your heart beating like a John Bonham drum solo… From there it blasts into your skull causing partial blind and deafness and then disperses throughout the rest of your body sending every single one of your cells buzzing like a bee.  Your face swells, you experience dyschronometria, and you turn into a human firehose. Hence the purgative descriptor. You can watch a Youtube video of a ceremony here.  It’s not something you do for fun.  But… they say it’s good for you .  It’s too early for me to speak to its efficacy. I’ve been pretty wiped out since and have at times felt like I was getting gut-punched by Tyson over the last few days. The practitioners told me this is from the medicine clearing out parasites in my gut and that I need to complete the treatment with two more rounds this weekend. So looks like I’ve got my weekend planned :).  I realize most of you are sane and normal and you probably read about this stuff and think my elevator doesn’t travel all the way up to the top floor. I get that. Totally understandable. I don’t blame you.  Personally, I’m open to trying things like this because they pass the wisdom of time and geography filter that I discussed last year (link here). Also, I struggled with a serious chronic illness for a number of years after my last combat tour. And as a result, I was forced to get a little (read: very) experimental on the health front. Anyways, this is definitely not medical advice. I’m not a doctor, I haven’t even watched Grey’s Anatomy. And if you ever feel compelled to try Kambo, do your research and only do it with a very experienced practitioner.  Rule #1: Don’t lose money…  @jr asked me a great question in the Slack yesterday in response to this SQ chart I posted.  The question was “How do you balance the desire to 1) buy a great value zone and 2) wait for price to prove itself (in this case, confirm a support level).”  I love trade management questions like this because there is no single right answer. It’s all nuance, context, process, goal dependent, etc…  But it’s really thinking through these nuances and developing a framework, where you make the money. Picking winners are a dime a dozen. The money-making comes in the risk and trade management.  So here’s my answer to the question that doesn’t have a simple answer. My approach to trading and investing is to not lose money. Everything I do in markets stems from this single driving desire. There are a number of ways to do this. You can, for example, be a really smart calculating business analyst/value investor type with a love for 10Ks and the patience to see your thesis born true. In this approach, your risk management (how you don’t lose money), is in your analysis, your assessment of risk, and the embedded margin of safety. A critical behavioral edge for this approach is to be able to actually sit through the portfolio volatility (ie, large paper drawdowns) that inevitably come so you don’t end up puking the lows. Something that’s easier said than done...  This is a difficult path. It’s one that most punters claim to do, usually because they’re acting out a mimetic desire to be like daddy Buffett. But few are successful at this over multiple cycles (key being multiple cycles since this is an easy one in a bull market).  Here’s the main issue with this approach. You don’t get a ton of at-bats. And, as a result, your feedback loops are very long. This makes it next to impossible to know if you actually have any skill or if you’re just the beneficiary of survivorship bias who’s on borrowed time… and eventually, your patient capital becomes purgatory positioning, which inevitably ends with you getting zeroed out of the game for good. You can see more than a few examples of this playing out today.  You don’t need to look far to find a “value” fund managers that just 12-months ago was celebrated for his/her astonishing 5-year returns and sought after for interviews, raised Buku assets, were praised for their superhuman intellects, etc… and they’re now closing up shop after erasing all of their career gains in less than 6-months…  They suffered under the delusion they were in possession of God-like analytical abilities. But in reality, they were just cluelessly surfing a macro liquidity wave juiced by a growth-at-any-cost fad. This happens every cycle. Few make it to the next. We don’t play that game.  Three maxims were inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo (the Delphic maxims). These were: “Know thyself”, “Nothing to excess”, and “Certainty brings insanity”.  My approach to not losing money is centered around these three truths.  Know thyself… this one is the most important.  We have met the enemy and he is us to quote Oliver Perry and Pogo. To make it in this game you need to be brutally honest about what your strengths are, and more importantly, where you are weak… Self-awareness is critical to long-term investing survival. For instance, I know I’m not going to win any securities analysis contest.  I’m a Generalist with a capital G. One who likes his investment ideas simple and obvious (at least to me). There’s no edge for me in trying to parse through the legalese fine print of a 10k better than the other 10 million MBA-trained super-geniuses out there doing the same. I think the market is generally pretty good at that stuff. It is mostly efficient. Except sometimes it isn’t… sometimes it’s wildly hysterical. That’s when my back of the napkin fundamental math skills can be put to work. That’s where I do have an edge.  I’m good at staying level-headed. It takes a lot to get me excited. Market moves just don’t really do that for me.  So while my weakness is my inability to analyze the esoteric minutiae. My strength is in my wiring (due to either nature or nurture) which makes me decent at playing the metagame and identifying “the point of max pessimism” as Sir John Templeton would call it. My approach is similar to what Bill Miller lays out here:  The securities we typically analyze are those that reflect the behavioral anomalies arising from largely emotional reactions to events. In the broadest sense, those securities reflect low expectations of future value creation, usually arising from either macroeconomic or microeconomic events or fears. Our research efforts are oriented toward determining whether a large gap exists between those low embedded expectations and the likely intrinsic value of the security.  I’m good at calling BS on the market. Identifying when the Narrative Pendulum has swung wildly out to one side and no longer discounts any reasonable reality. That’s one of my strengths.  Here’s the catch, though. Even when I get real bulled or beared up on something. I’m talking high conviction, stepping to the plate for my fat pitch Babe Ruth’n it kind of excitement… I stay cognizant of the fact that I could still very much have something wrong, or that I’m missing a key piece of the puzzle and my thesis could at any moment, go Jenga.  My confidence never goes above 90%. Never.  So this is where the second maxim comes in hand, Nothing in excess…  No excess of confidence, in positioning, or overcommitment.  I’m all for going Totis Porcis and betting the ranch. The thing is, I always make sure I have another ranch. There’s a balance, an indefinable sweet spot, between conviction and fallibility, aggressiveness and risk control, striking when hot and quickly adjusting when wrong…  This leads us nicely to the third maxim of “Certainty brings insanity”.  If only the LUNAtics out there had read up on their Delphic philosophy… tuition is high at Market University, best not to make it more so with an addiction to the gamble and ignis fatuus…  You know why Druckenmiller is the GOAT?  He never lost money. Like really never lost money. The guy had five down quarters over his 30-year career of managing money. Let me repeat… Druckenmiller only had FIVE DOWN QUARTERS OVER A 30-YEAR CAREER… To quote the famous figure skater Will Ferrell, that’s mind-bottling. I know traders who’ve worked with him. They say he embodies strong opinions, weakly held. He could pound the table with conviction one moment. And just as aggressively cut and run the next, if the market hit a predefined technical uncle point or a key piece of data changed. No ego. No attachment. Just ruthless money management and a focus on capping his downside…  His mental flexibility and devotion to managing risk are the skills that made him legendary.  It’s not his deep intellectual macro insights or his penetrating fundamental analysis of stocks. He’s skilled in those areas, sure. But that’s table stakes. That’s not where his genius is.  His genius is in executing a system, a holistic process, that allows him to be wrong time and time again but not lose money. This sets him up with the capital (both financial and mental) to whole hog it when the fat pitches arrive.  Man, this is becoming a long-winded roundabout way to answer the question. What was the question again?  Oh, right… “How do you balance the desire to 1) buy a great value zone and 2) wait for the price to prove itself (in this case, confirm a support level).” Okay, so let’s use our above SQ example to illustrate.  I like Block, Inc. (SQ) the company. I like their products. I’m a frequent user of their cash app. I financed a food truck business. They use SQ’s products and love it. I see SQ products everywhere now. Young millennials I talk to all use Cash app. Not Venmo/Paypal. Not Zelle. The hard data supports this. I think Jack Dorsey is one of the most underrated Founders/CEOs in tech. It seems to me that he’s built an incredibly impressive culture capable of fast innovation at scale. And he’s doing this in hardware, software, and financial services, all simultaneously. That is rare.  There remains a LOT of low-hanging margin to eat in the overregulated noninnovative financial services industry. To me, SQ is the clear leader and has the best shot at winning big in this space over the long term. They can potentially close the consumer-merchant loop and become an impenetrable fast-growing business with a massive TAM.  Because of the above and all the reasons Brandon has laid out in his excellent research pieces on the stock. I want to be a buyer of SQ when it goes on sale.  SQ is currently on sale.  Its multiples are at or near historic lows (see graph below). Meanwhile, the company’s fundamentals have never been stronger. Its path to success has never been as clear. So we want to be looking for spots to buy. Now, we already own SQ. We put on a small starter position last month. We added another small amount to that position the other day.  We want to build this position into a big one as it’s one of our higher long-term conviction plays (outside of the still ridiculously cheap commodity shitcos we own).  At the same time, our Bear Market Shock and Trend Fragility indicators peaked out at the start of this year, giving us a lead on the current action, which is why we’ve been able to sidestep the pummeling and make a little money YTD.  While our indicators suggest we’re probably at or near a short-term tradeable bottom. We still need to see major breadth thrusts confirmation and preferably a VIX spike to mark a total washout low. Until then we should expect a continuation of the sideways volatile regime at best or a bear market at worst.  Nothing in this game is a sure thing though...  We can enter an extended bear or we can soon bottom and run… Things can change, the Fed can flip, the dollar can rip, inflation can come down or shoot up… in macro environments full of noise, as this one very much is, we need to stay balanced and nimble.  We don’t want to be binary in our thinking.  You can’t be all bull or all bear in a market like this. You can have your opinions and tilt your positioning in that direction. But you want to own some stuff that would work in case you’re wrong. That way you don’t get caught flatfooted. Not to mention, staying balanced does something to the mind. It helps keep you more intellectually flexible and honest.  We very rarely go 100% cash. The last time we did was in late Feb 2020. But the writing was on the wall for that one and today is very different. Okay, so we like SQ and want to own more. But the macro picture is uncertain. We can assign roughly equal odds to a further selloff or a near-term bottom here.  We also hold lots of cash on the books. To get a bit more balanced and in line with our equal macro odds, we want to take small swings at adding to SQ — and other names we like. SQ is at long-term support. This gives us a technical inflection point. A logical uncle point in which to nest in our stops, in case we’re wrong or early.  So we’ll add a little bit here. We’ll keep the position small because the stock remains in a larger corrective phase and because the macro is messy.  If and when we get (1) broad market breadth thrusts triggering (as shown on the breadth tab of our HUD) and/or (2) SQ shows signs it has put in a base and buyers are back in control (ie, higher pivot points, consecutive bull bars, SQN in Bull regime, etc…). Then we’ll look to more aggressively build on the position.  If breadth thrusts fail to materialize and/or SQ punches through support and continues on its downtrend. We can cut our additions and go back to our small nominal starter position.  In doing so, we protect our downside (NOT LOSE MONEY) first and foremost. While also staying engaged in a stock that has incredible asymmetry over the long haul.  This creates balance. Balance keeps us honest. In markets, it helps keep us alive. It prevents us from going full Kambo and purging our pain allocation right at the lows…  Tyler Durden Mon, 05/16/2022 - 10:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 16th, 2022

18 Signs That Food Shortages Will Get A Lot Worse As We Head Into The Second Half Of 2022

18 Signs That Food Shortages Will Get A Lot Worse As We Head Into The Second Half Of 2022 Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog, If you think that things are bad now, just wait until we get into the second half of this year.  Global food supplies have already gotten very tight, but it is the food that won’t be produced during this current growing season in the northern hemisphere that will be the real problem.  Worldwide fertilizer prices have doubled or tripled, the war in Ukraine has greatly reduced exports from one of the key breadbaskets of the world, a nightmarish bird flu pandemic is wiping out millions of chickens and turkeys, and bizarre weather patterns are absolutely hammering agricultural production all over the planet.  I have often used the phrase “a perfect storm” to describe what we are facing, but even that phrase really doesn’t seem to do justice to the crisis that we will be dealing with in the months ahead.  The following are 18 signs that food shortages will get a lot worse as we head into the second half of 2022… #1 The largest fertilizer company on the entire planet is publicly warning that severe supply disruptions “could last well beyond 2022”… The world’s largest fertilizer company warned supply disruptions could extend into 2023. A bulk of the world’s supply has been taken offline due to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. This has sparked soaring prices and shortages of crop nutrients in top growing areas worldwide; an early indication of a global food crisis could be in the beginning innings. Bloomberg reports Canada-based Nutrien Ltd.’s CEO Ken Seitz told investors on Tuesday during a conference call that he expects to increase potash production following supply disruptions in Russia and Ukraine (both major fertilizer suppliers). Seitz expects disruptions “could last well beyond 2022.” #2 The world fertilizer price index has skyrocketed to absurd heights that have never been seen before. #3 It is being reported that global grain reserves have dropped to  “extremely low” levels… “Global grains stocks remain extremely low, an issue that has become amplified because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  “We think it will take at least 2-3 years to replenish global grains stocks,” Illinois-based CF Industries Holdings Inc.’s president and chief executive officer Tony Will said in a statement in Wednesday’s earnings report.  #4 Due to the war, agricultural exports from Ukraine have been completely paralyzed… Nearly 25 million tonnes of grains are stuck in Ukraine and unable to leave the country due to infrastructure challenges and blocked Black Sea ports including Mariupol, a U.N. food agency official said on Friday. The blockages are seen as a factor behind high food prices which hit a record high in March in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, before easing slightly in April, the FAO said on Friday. #5 The out-of-stock rate for baby formula in the United States has now reached 40 percent… The out-of-stock rate for baby formula hovered between 2% and 8% in the first half of 2021, but began rising sharply last July. Between November 2021 and early April 2022, the out-of-stock rate jumped to 31%, data from Datasembly showed. That rate increased another 9 percentage points in just three weeks in April, and now stands at 40%, the statistics show. In six states — Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Texas and Tennessee — more than half of baby formula was completely sold out during the week starting April 24, Datasembly said. #6 In six U.S. states, the out-of-stock rate for baby formula has actually risen to 50 percent or greater. #7 Searches for the phrase “how to make homemade formula for babies” on Google have spiked 120 percent. #8 We are being told that this is a “perfect storm” as shelves become increasingly bare at food banks all around the nation. #9 In Canada, more than 1.7 million chickens and turkeys have already been lost in recent months due to the global bird flu pandemic. #10 In the United States, more than 37 million chickens and turkeys have already been wiped out due to the global bird flu pandemic. #11 The two largest reservoirs in California, Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville, have both fallen to “critically low levels”. #12 Some communities in southern California won’t be able to make it through the coming summer months without “significantly cutting back” on their water usage. #13 Many of the largest lakes around the world are currently in the process of disappearing because they are rapidly drying up. #14 Wildfires continue to absolutely devastate agricultural land all across the western half of the United States.  This weekend, it was New Mexico’s turn to be hit the hardest… After a few days of calm that allowed some families who had fled wildfires raging in northeast New Mexico to return to their homes, dangerous winds picked up again Sunday, threatening to spread spot fires and complicate work for firefighters. More than 1,500 firefighters were on the fire lines at the biggest blaze east and northeast of Santa Fe, which grew another 8 square miles (20 square kilometers) overnight to an area more than twice as large as the city of Philadelphia. #15 We are being told that steak prices in the United States will “keep rising” in the days ahead. #16 Due to hail and frost, the Spanish apricot crop is going to be way below expectations… In Spain, the latest forecasts suggest production will not reach 60,000 tonnes, compared with 110,000 tonnes in 2019 and 100,000 tonnes in 2020 and 90,000 tonnes in 2021. In Murcia, where around two-thirds of Spain’s apricot production is located, farmers in the Mula River and northwest regions have been forced to write off the entire season following a severe hailstorm on Monday which not only resulted in the loss of the fruit, but also caused widespread damage to trees. #17 Overall, Spanish fruit production is expected to drop to the lowest level in 40 years. #18 Kansas Senator Roger Marshall is openly warning that a horrifying worldwide famine is coming… The war in Ukraine will lead to a worldwide famine in the next two years, warned Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Ky.), who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, warned on Tuesday. “You know I’m a big agriculture guy. Twelve, 15 percent of the agriculture products – corn and wheat, sunflower oil – come through that Black Sea, so— and fertilizers come from that area as well, so there actually is going to be a famine one to two years from now. I think two years from now will be even worse,” he told Fox Business’s “Mornings with Maria Bartiromo” on Tuesday. The alarm bells are ringing. Are you listening? In all of the years that I have been writing, I have never seen anything even close to this, and this crisis is only going to intensify as the months roll along. *  *  * It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon. Tyler Durden Wed, 05/11/2022 - 16:19.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMay 11th, 2022

How major Hollywood studios are shifting their streaming strategies as the theater industry stages a comeback

Studios like Warner Bros. released their biggest movies simultaneously in theaters and on streaming services last year, but are shifting strategies. Robert Pattinson as Batman in "The Batman."Warner Bros. Theatrical industry execs say movie studios are moving away from simultaneous streaming releases. Theatrical windows are getting shorter compared to pre-pandemic windows, however. Many studios are coalescing around 45 days, but movies could have shorter or longer windows. During its 45-day exclusive theatrical window, "The Batman" earned $760 million at the worldwide box office, nearly $370 million of which came from the US.It was the first Warner Bros. movie in more than a year to be released exclusively to theaters after the studio debuted all of its 2021 films simultaneously on the streaming service HBO Max.While "The Batman" is now streaming on Max, the shift is representative of the other major Hollywood studios, which largely seem to be moving away from "day-and-date" releases as they're called, in favor of exclusive, but shortened, theatrical windows.Theatrical industry leaders are swaying studio execs by showing that an exclusive window can help build momentum for an eventual streaming release."The exclusive window is in the interest not just of the exhibitors but the studios," Mooky Greidinger, CEO of the Cineworld theater chain, told Insider. "The bigger a movie succeeds in the cinema, the bigger it is on the auxiliary markets." The theater execs say major studio execs have reassured them that they're committed to the theatrical experience — including those new to the industry, such as David Zaslav, the CEO of the newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery, and Brian Robbins, who became head of Paramount Pictures last year."The energy and enthusiasm that David Zaslav brings to Warner Bros. and his excitement for the business show that theatrical is an important mechanism," said Rolando Rodriguez, the CEO of Marcus Theatres and chair of National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO). "We've heard similar feedback from Brian."During a speech at last month's exhibitor conference CinemaCon — where the studios showcase their upcoming films for theater owners — John Fithian, the CEO of NATO, went so far as to declare that day-and-date was "dead as a serious business model."The model isn't completely dead; Universal is releasing the Stephen King adaptation "Firestarter" simultaneously in theaters and on Peacock on Friday. Theatrical industry leaders accept that studios had to release some movies this way during the pandemic and may continue to do so. But they don't see it as a viable long-term strategy."That doesn't mean that there won't be distributors that toy occasionally with that concept," Fithian later told Insider. "But from what we are hearing from the studios, they are focused on their slate of movies that are intended for theaters with an exclusive window."Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in "The Lost City."ParamountExclusive theatrical windows are shortening to accommodate streaming premieresThe typical pre-pandemic theatrical window was 75 days to 90 days, which meant a movie would play only in theaters for that time before heading to home entertainment. Now, while studios are recommitting to exclusive theatrical releases, the pandemic has led to a shortened window followed by a streaming premiere as media companies also look to build their direct-to-consumer businesses.Paramount's "The Lost City," for instance, debuted on Paramount+ on Tuesday, 45 days after it hit theaters.Still, streaming is a taboo subject in the theatrical industry. The studio presentations at CinemaCon took great care not to mention their streaming components.When Warner Bros.' chairman Toby Emmerich touted that it was the only studio to consistently release movies to theaters last year, the applause was muted; it was also the only studio to release all of its movies day-and-date with a streaming service.The presentations focused instead on box-office results."The Lost City" earned $95 million in the US and $163 million worldwide, an impressive amount for an original comedy in a market dominated by superhero franchises. And "The Batman" was closing in on $800 million worldwide before it became available to stream.But industry leaders that Insider spoke to at CinemaCon said that while a new standard is emerging for theatrical windows, they're no longer set in stone. Some movies could get longer or shorter windows than others."I'm not sure if there will be a standard window for every content provider," said Jim Orr, the president of domestic distribution at Universal. "It seems to be coalescing around 45 days, but that's not a sure thing, either. Nothing will be as carved in stone as it has been in the past."Below is every major Hollywood studio's current theatrical distribution strategy:DisneyBenedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness."Marvel StudiosDisney has won the theater industry back over, even though it's the only major studio that hasn't announced some sort of windowing strategy for its 2022 slate. In November, CEO Bob Chapek said that the company was "sticking to its plan of flexibility."Disney sparked frustration with NATO last year when it released "Black Widow"  simultaneously to theaters and Disney+ Premier Access. But after the summer movie season, it released its remaining 2021 slate with an exclusive theatrical window.As of now, Disney is expected to release its movies this year exclusively in theaters. And its slate has industry leaders excited."People forget what a powerhouse Disney was in 2019," said one exec close to the theatrical industry (Disney released seven of the top 10 movies at both the US and global box offices that year). "But Disney has the goods, from 'Doctor Strange' all the way through 'Avatar.' There's little doubt in my mind that they'll be preeminent."Paramount"Scream"ParamountWhen Paramount replaced studio head Jim Gianopulos with the more digital-savvy Brian Robbins last year, the implication was that the company wanted to beef up its streaming business.It does, and is pouring a lot of resources into Paramount+. But it's also implemented an exclusive theatrical window for its studio movies this year that ranges from 30 days to 45 days before they debut on the streaming platform.Some movies might have longer windows. When Paramount announced its shorter theatrical window last year, "Top Gun: Maverick" wasn't part of the announcement.Puck's Matthew Belloni recently reported that it could have a 120-day window, which would be longer than even the typical pre-pandemic model. Paramount did not respond to a request for confirmation from Insider.SonyTom Holland in "Uncharted."Clay Enos/Columbia PicturesWithout its own streaming component, Sony has championed theatrical windows during the pandemic, and they've varied based on the movie. "Spider-Man: No Way Home" had an 88-day window before debuting on video-on-demand platforms, and earned over $800 million just in the US.That doesn't mean the studio didn't turn to streaming services over the last two years.It licensed the Tom Hanks war movie "Greyhound" to Apple TV+ and "Hotel Transylvania: Transformania" to Amazon Prime Video.Last year, Netflix landed the domestic streaming rights to Sony's theatrical releases for five years starting with its 2022 slate. That means that movies like "Uncharted" and "Morbius" will show up on Netflix after their theatrical and home-entertainment runs.After the movies' Netflix runs, which are expected to last 18 months, they will shift to Disney streaming platforms.UniversalChris Pratt in "Jurassic World: Dominion."UniversalDuring the pandemic, Universal announced that its movies that gross $50 million at the US box office in their opening weekend could debut on video-on-demand platforms after 30 days. Those that debut below $50 million could premiere on VOD after 17 days in theaters.That arrangement is still in place, but Universal movies can now debut on the NBCUniversal streamer Peacock as soon as 45 days after premiering in theaters."We're finding the customer where they are and monetizing our films correctly, and that allows us to put as many movies in theaters as we are," said Jim Orr, the studio's president of domestic distribution.Universal is expected to release over 20 movies this year to theaters, which also includes Focus Features films.However, while a window will still be in place for most of those, it hasn't completely moved away from simultaneous releases. The studio's "Firestarter" debuts in theaters and on Peacock this weekend.Warner Bros.Dwayne Johnson in "Black Adam."Warner Bros.After releasing all of its 2021 movies simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max last year, Warner Bros. committed to a 45-day window this year before its movies stream on Max.David Zaslav, the CEO of the newly formed Warner Bros. parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, has made it a priority to repair the relationship between the studio and theaters.Theatrical leaders are optimistic, but some think it will be a work in progress."David Zaslav will put [Warner Bros.] on the right track, but I don't think it will be over night," said the exec close to the theater industry. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 11th, 2022

Gavin Newsom Is Blaming Climate Change For The Blackouts He Is Creating

Gavin Newsom Is Blaming Climate Change For The Blackouts He Is Creating Authored by Michael Shellenberger via Substack, Did you hear the news? California nearly got 100% of its electricity from renewables for a period last weekend! But wait. Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration said yesterday that we would once again have blackouts this summer. What’s going on? Gavin Newsom's aides yesterday said climate change may soon cause blackouts, but that's ridiculous: we've known about climate change for decades. The reason for four years of blackouts in a row is because Newsom won't build the power plants we need. Now, people could die. pic.twitter.com/t3sbL7k1ST — Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) May 7, 2022 According to Newsom’s people… climate change. That and the fact that people might actually use their air conditioners this summer. This is bonkers. We Californians pay more for electricity than anyone else in the country except people in Hawaii. And we’ve known for years that we needed to build more natural gas plants. But Gavin and his people are acting surprised. I mean, who could have ever predicted that climate change would make things hotter? Do you know what happens when there are blackouts and people can’t use their air conditioners? They die.  From homelessness and crime to energy, water, and forest fires, Newsom only makes things worse. He then looks around for someone to blame. And when there isn’t someone to blame, he blames climate change. The problem isn’t that Newsom isn’t running California. It’s that he’s running it into the ground. That and running for president. And that means he wants the big money support of powerful anti-energy, pro-scarcity interests. Not me. For the last six years I have been warning the people of California that shutting down nuclear plants, not building enough natural gas plants, and over-relying on weather dependent renewables would be a disaster. I testified to Congress SIX TIMES warning of the disaster that’s now unfolding. There’s a role for renewables. I have solar panels in my backyard. But the fifth largest economy in the world can’t rely on the weather, particularly not during a time of climate change. The same week California generated nearly 100% of its electricity from renewables, it also had to shut off electricity coming from its solar farms.  The problem with weather-dependent renewables is that they produce too much energy when we don’t need it and not enough when we do.  It was misleading for people to point to a few minutes during one day when energy from renewables matched demand for electricity. The rest of the time they aren’t matched, which is why they make electricity so expensive. Our electricity rates rose seven times more than they did in the rest of the US over the last 10 years. And now Newsom’s people say they will raise electricity rates up to 9 percent every year over the next three years. California needs abundant and reliable energy. As governor, I will make sure we have it.  *  *  * Donate to Shellenberger 2022 Tyler Durden Tue, 05/10/2022 - 18:05.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 10th, 2022

33 thoughtful college graduation gifts for him, from time-saving tech to gift cards so he can buy whatever he needs

Make their transition out of college a bit easier this year with useful graduation gifts for him that span from the latest in tech to gift cards. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Make their transition out of college a bit easier this year with useful graduation gifts for him that span from the latest in tech to gift cards.Crystal Cox/Insider and Magic SpoonGraduating from college and entering a new life chapter is a reason for celebration. Whether he's setting up a new apartment, starting a new job, or taking a beat to figure out his next step, there's a gift you can give that will make the transition a bit easier or even just more fun.You'll find 33 gifts to give your new graduate, from the latest tech to gift cards to buy whatever his heart desires.Here are 33 of the best graduation gifts for him in 2022:Apple AirPods Pro for when he's on the moveCrystal Cox/InsiderGift the Apple Airpods Pro, available at Amazon, $174.99We love Apple's AirPods Pro for Apple users. They're no-hassle, work with Apple products, have decent sound and noise cancellation, are water-resistant, have a wireless charging case, and feel more comfortable than standard AirPods.You'll find more wireless earbuds we love here.A wireless charging padBed Bath & BeyondGift the Catch:3 Wireless Charging Station, available at Bed Bath & Beyond, $99.99He can toss his phone or AirPods onto this tray that doubles as decor and their tech will charge without being plugged in. If he's got AirPods and an Apple Watch, you may want to check out this option from Zagg, too.A nice mixology setWilliams SonomaGift the Williams Sonoma Mixology Shaker & Tools Set, available on Williams Sonoma, $96.95If he's old enough to drink, a nice mixology set is great for when they host friends. This kit comes with quality basics — you could pair it with their favorite spirit delivered right to their door.Our most recommended French pressAmazonGift the Bodum Chambord French Press, available at Amazon, $25.99Coffee is a crucial part of many adults' mornings. We love the Bodum Chambord French Press for a good cup; it's about as timeless as they come, unfussy, and affordable. You can find all our favorite French presses here, though this is our number one pick.A framed photo of their friendsFramebridgeGift a Framebridge Frame, available on Framebridge, from $45Most of us appreciate some nostalgia; frame a photo of the graduate's friends or some of their favorite memories from school, so they can take them anywhere they call home.A Fitbit he can use while exercisingFitbitGift the Fitbit Versa 3, available at Best Buy, $229.95If he loves being active, a Fitbit will keep track of interesting metrics such as heart rate, sleep quality, and exercise stats for him. We like the Fitbit Versa 3 the most, but you may find another option that works best for your graduate.You can read about all of the best Fitbit trackers here.Cereal that feels like childhood but is responsible like adulthoodMagic Spoon cerealMagic SpoonGift the Magic Spoon Variety Case, available at Magic Spoon, from $39A childlike cereal for grown-ups is a nice transition into adulthood. Magic Spoon tastes like the sugared cereal some of us daydreamed about as kids, but it's high in protein and low in carbohydrates. You can find a full Magic Spoon review here.A must-read financial guide bookAmazonGift "I Will Teach You to Be Rich," available at Amazon, $12.87Instead of skimping on lattes, it's wiser to choose the right accounts and investments so your money grows for you — automatically. Best of all, it frees you up to spend on the things you love.Executive Editor for Personal Finance Insider Libby Kane says she regularly buys a new copy of this book just to give it away, and it's an excellent introduction to making the most of your personal finances — especially if your graduate is young or new to managing money.A record player for his new homePottery BarnGift the Crosley Voyager Turntable, available at Best Buy, $89.95For the one who's constantly listening to music, a turntable for his new abode makes for a functional and decorative gift — perfect for setting a good mood in the home and elevating the aesthetic in any room. He can jam out to all of his favorite tunes, whether it's while he cooks in the kitchen or works in the office.A gift card to decorate their home as they chooseTargetGift a Target Gift Card, available at TargetGift a The Container Store Gift Card, available at The Container StorePick up a gift card to a store with affordable home goods such as Target or the Container Store so they can organize and decorate their new space with less stress.A facial cleanserFOREOGift the FOREO Luna 3 Men, available at FOREO, $199This facial cleansing brush has left both male and female reporters on our team with clear, smooth skin. This particular model works as a state-of-the-art facial scrub brush, pre-shaving, and anti-aging tool.Supporting the "fewer, better" mentality, the FOREO Luna 3 Men has a lifespan and level of quality that justify the price tag — so they can make great use of your gift for years to come. A pleasant way to wake up every dayNordstromGift the Hatch Restore Reading Light, Sound Machine & Sunrise Alarm Clock, available at Nordstrom, $129.99Help them transition to earlier mornings with an alarm clock that wakes them up by mimicking sunlight.A toiletry bag to use at home or for travelRainsGift the Rains Weekend Wash Bag, available at Rains, $50Rains is a Denmark-based company chiefly known for making high-quality, stylish raincoats. This wash bag is of the same spirit. It's completely waterproof, which is a necessity for any good toiletry bag. The pouch features adjustable buckles that enable him to alter the volume of the bag to his needs.A great streaming deviceRokuGift the Roku Ultra 3, available at Amazon, $179.99The Roku Ultra 3 stands out from other streaming device options thanks to its 4K and HDR support, speed, reliability, and large library of streaming services (Netflix, HBO Max, Rakuten Viki).Plus, if he wants to watch TV on the big screen without disturbing anyone, it comes with headphones for private listening.Read the full review of the Roku Ultra 2020 here.A Disney Plus subscriptionDisney PlusGift a Disney Plus subscription, available at Disney Plus, $7.99 per month or $79.99 per year ($5.83/month)Graduating from college usually marks the beginning of "adulting," but he'll eventually need a break from being a grownup. With everything from classic Disney movies and shows from his childhood to Star Wars and Marvel movies, a Disney Plus subscription is a sure way to stay entertained.Learn more about Disney Plus here. A made-to-measure suitIndochinoGift an Indochino Gift Card, available at Indochino, from $50Suits — especially the nice ones — are a large yet ultimately useful expense for most men, even if it's only for special occasions rather than his everyday job. This is one gift he'll likely wear for years to come — and something he will likely need before he has the budget to afford it. A Brooklinen gift card for new sheetsBrooklinenGift a Brooklinen Gift Card, available at Brooklinen, from $50Your graduate may appreciate an upgrade in bedding to match their new chapter or their new space. Brooklinen is a common recommendation for us — you get premium, cant'-wait-to-go-to-bed bedding at relatively affordable prices. Read our Brooklinen sheets review here.An Amazon Echo to play music, answer questions, and coordinate with other techAmazonGift the Amazon Echo, available at Amazon, $49.99From music and radio stations to trivia and much, much more, your graduate will have ample distractions and helpful, hands-free info (like the weather or quick measurement conversions) while they're busy running around their place.We also have other smart speaker recommendations from other brands here.An electric pressure cookerHappy Foods Tube/ShutterstockGift an Instant Pot Duo 6-Quart, available at Amazon, $55.30Just in case the idea of tossing tons of ingredients into a pot in the morning and coming home to a nicely cooked meal appeals to him, the Instant Pot is every recent graduate's best friend.Ultimately, if they spend most of their day at work or commuting, the last thing they'd want to do is come home to devote two of their three free hours to making a lavish dinner for one. Plus, it cuts down on how many dishes he'll have to wash.We even rank this Instant Pot as the best budget option in our guide to the best electric pressure cookers.A popular, stylish suitcaseThe Medium Flex looks quite similar to the original Away Medium suitcase.Emily Hochberg/InsiderGift the Away Carry-On Suitcase, available at Away, from $275An Away suitcase is a particularly thoughtful gift for grads living far from home or planning future travel. The cult-favorite luggage has an ejectable external battery that charges devices easily on the go, 360-degree wheels for no-hassle travel, and weighs only 7.6 pounds. Read our full review of Away suitcases here. A sleek wallet he can keep foreverBellroyGift the Bellroy Note Sleeve Wallet, available at Bellroy, from $89Bellroy wallets last pretty much forever, which is one reason why they take the top spot in the Insider Reviews buying guide to the best men's wallets. This Note Sleeve is a best seller. It's compact but big enough for 4-11 cards — the most important cards go in the easy-access slots and the rest can be stored in a pull tab. A foundational cookbook he will actually useAmazonGift "How to Cook Everything," available at Amazon, $19A lot of graduates are coming out of school with little knowledge of cooking outside of mac and cheese or $1 pizza. A cookbook is a nice way to make sure they can get off on the right foot post-graduation, enjoying the activity itself rather than defaulting to takeout. A Bonobos gift cardBonobosGift a Bonobos Gift Card, available at Bonobos, from $25No matter what he has in store for life after graduation, he'll surely want to upgrade his wardrobe. Bonobos is a high-quality menswear brand that sells everything from chinos, button-ups, and suits for the office to casual styles like jeans, polos, and T-shirts to wear on the weekends. Read our full reviews of Bonobos' chinos and Bonobos' Chelsea boots.An Amazon gift cardAmazonGift an Amazon Gift Card, available at AmazonIf what you really want to do is just give cash but are looking for a nicer equivalent, an Amazon Gift Card is a subtle way to accomplish the same freedom and utility. Amazon has virtually everything a new grad could desire (really, there is everything), so you know that no matter what they'll be getting something they genuinely want — which, in a lot of cases, is best since they know what they need better than anyone.An Amazon Prime membershipAmazonGift a year of Amazon Prime, available at Amazon, $139An annual Amazon Prime membership is one of those things that immediately make life easier and ultimately better. If you decide to gift one, the recipient will enjoy free two-day shipping; access to the Prime Now app, which provides free two-hour delivery on tens of thousands of items; Prime Video, Amazon's streaming video service; Prime Music; the Kindle Lending Library; Prime Reading; Prime Audible Channels; unlimited photo storage, and more. Read about Amazon Prime member benefits here.A fancy messenger bagLeatherologyGift the Leatherology Henderson Laptop Brief Bag, available at Leatherology, from $300This Leatherology bag is an option that inspires a bit more confidence than a JanSport. The startup makes great leather accessories for much less than you'd expect to pay, like a $300 messenger bag. You'll find a few more budget-friendly options at Herschel Supply. A customized business card holderEtsyGift the VITT Personalized Card Holder, available at Etsy, from $32.50While his company will likely give him business cards, he's not likely to already have a business-card holder he can feel good about pulling out of his pocket. A card holder like this monogrammable option from Etsy looks competent and thoughtful.A reusable Hydro Flask that keeps drinks at the perfect temperatureHydroflaskGift the Hydroflask, available at Amazon, $32.96We love Hydro Flask's insulated, dishwasher-safe bottles — they'll keep hot drinks hot or cold drinks ice-cold for hours. This is also one of the items featured in our list of the All-Time Best products we've tested.A small but powerful speakerBest BuyGift the Sonos One (Gen 2) wireless speaker, available at Best Buy, $219.99Sonos makes some pretty great speakers for recent grads. They work well, can be used as a sound system, have useful features like a morning alarm that may sound more pleasant than their phone, and aren't so expensive that they can't possibly build upon their collection. If he's planning on entertaining friends, the Sonos One is a great option, especially since it connects with Amazon Alexa. A great weekend bagDagne Dover/FacebookGift the Dagne Dover Landon Carryall, available at Dagne Dover, from $110Dagne Dover has earned a spot as one of our default recommendations for great bags. Their weekender/carry-on Landon Carryall is made out of a cool neoprene material and has ample organization. It has an internal laptop sleeve, an exterior phone pocket, and a detachable key leash, plus a few other helpful design features. Read our full review of the Dagne Dover Landon Carryall here.A Kindle for post-grad readingAmazonGift the Kindle Paperwhite, available at Amazon, $109.99Learning is an ongoing process, and graduation shouldn't be the end of it. Giving them a Kindle means they'll have the tools to keep being curious in their lives by having the device that makes it an easy and affordable process.If they already have a Kindle or they read on their phone or iPad, you might look into gifting them a Scribd membership. It's lesser-known than apps like Audible, but it's a better deal and will give them access to hundreds of thousands of books and audiobooks. Read our full review of the Kindle Paperwhite here.A toolkit, which they will undoubtedly need in "real life"AmazonGift the Cartman 148-Piece Tool Kit, available at Amazon, $29.99After graduation, you enter the "real world" and the real world includes putting together furniture, Googling how to fix leaky faucets when your landlord avoids your calls, and enticing your friends to help you mount your living room TV with pizza.He'll be glad he has the tools to handle whatever life throws at him confidently, and this is one gift he may not immediately buy for himself, but which you really want to have before the very second you need it. Nice noise-canceling headphonesAntonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderGift the Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones, available at Amazon, $348Our favorite noise-canceling headphones balance sound quality, noise cancellation, and comfort. They're perfect for long commutes, focusing during work, or relaxing. This is also one of the items featured in our list of the All-Time Best products we've tested.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 9th, 2022

Greyhound Racing Is Nearing Its End in the U.S.

Increased concerns about how the dogs are treated along with an explosion of gambling options have nearly killed a sport that gained widespread appeal about a century ago. DUBUQUE, Iowa — Vera Rasnake laughed as she led a trio of barking, jostling dogs into the Iowa Greyhound Park, but her smile faded when she acknowledged that after 41 years of being around the sleek animals, her sport was teetering on extinction. After the end of a truncated season in Dubuque in May, the track here will close. By the end of the year there will only be two tracks left in the country. “It’s very hard for me to see this,” Rasnake said. It’s been a long slide for greyhound racing, which reached its peak in the 1980s when there were more than 50 tracks across 19 states. Since then, increased concerns about how the dogs are treated along with an explosion of gambling options have nearly killed a sport that gained widespread appeal about a century ago. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] A racing association found that betting on greyhounds plunged from $3.5 billion in 1991 to about $500 million in 2014. Since then, many more tracks have closed. In some states like the dog-racing mecca of Florida in 2021, it was voter initiatives that ended the sport at the state’s dozen tracks. In others like Iowa, state officials allowed casinos to end subsidies that had kept greyhound racing alive as interest declined. Read More: How America Saved Millions of Dogs—By Moving Them “Do I think the industry is dying? Yes,” said Gwyneth Anne Thayer, who has written a history of greyhound racing. But “it’s happening way faster than I thought it would.” The Dubuque track closure and the end of racing in West Memphis, Arkansas, this December will leave racing only in West Virginia, where tracks in Wheeling and near Charleston operate with subsidies from casino revenue. For some animal welfare groups, the industry’s collapse is the culmination of decades of work to publicize allegations of greyhound mistreatment. The group GREY2K was formed in 2001 and Carey Theil, the organization’s executive director, said he feels a sense of accomplishment now that the sport’s end seems within reach. “This has become one of the signature animal welfare debates of our time,” Theil said. GREY2K, the Humane Society and other groups have long argued that greyhound racing was cruel, including its longtime practice of killing dogs that weren’t deemed top racers, using drugs to enhance their performance, confining them for long periods and subjecting animals to the risk of injury on the racetrack. Industry supporters note there now is a huge demand to adopt retired racers and deny that the other problems are widespread. They also contend that some don’t understand the love greyhounds have for running. On opening day at the Iowa Greyhound Park in Dubuque, spectators packed into a spacious room that overlooked the track, sipping beers and mixed drinks as they pored over racing statistics before placing bets at kiosks or with attendants. They expressed disappointment that the track would close, lamenting the loss of an entertainment option in Dubuque, a city of about 60,000 known for its stately brick buildings and church steeples built on hills overlooking the Mississippi River. Peggy Janiszewski and her friend Robin Hannan have for years been driving about three hours from the Chicago area to Dubuque to watch the racing. They typically bet only a few dollars on each race but are more interested in watching the dogs than counting their winnings. “They’re beautiful. Like works of art,” Janiszewski said. Bruce Krueger said he has been making the 170-mile (274-kilometer) drive from Milwaukee to Dubuque. He doesn’t believe the dogs are mistreated. “I know some trainers, and they treat them like kings and queens,” Krueger said. General Manager Brian Carpenter was 16 when he started working at the track in its second year and has remained 36 seasons until this, its final year. He recalls the excitement when the track opened in 1985, a time when Iowa was mired in farm bankruptcies and much of Dubuque was struggling. Back then, thousands of people would attend the races, with buses of gamblers arriving every weekend from Chicago and Milwaukee. “It was an exciting time and the track offered good jobs,” he said. Opening day this year drew at least 1,000 people but smaller crowds are typical, especially on weeknights. The Dubuque track was helped along by city and state funding, and after Iowa and other states began allowing casinos, the Dubuque operation was expanded to include its own casino. Thayer’s book, “Going to the Dogs,” describes a sport with a colorful and often tumultuous history. From its beginning in the 1920s following development of the mechanical lure — typically a stuffed bone or stuffed animal that swiftly clatters around the track ahead of the dogs to attract them — the industry was continually pushing to allow for legalized betting state-by-state and to attract attention, with help from Hollywood celebrities, athletes and beauty pageant competitors. At times, the sport drew more spectators than its more prominent rival horse racing. While considered seedy by some, it was mainstream entertainment for decades, Thayer said. “People don’t realize how normalized it was in American culture for a long time,” she said. Greyhound racing also is held in other countries, including Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, Mexico and Vietnam, but it is facing some of the same problems apparent in the U.S. Although greyhound racing in the U.S. will be confined only to West Virginia, that state seems intent on retaining the sport, said Steve Sarras, president of the West Virginia Kennel Owners Association. The state’s two tracks run races five-days a week year-round. Sarras said West Virginia legislators made repeated visits to his kennel and others to inspect conditions, and ultimately were confident the dogs are well treated. “When you see it firsthand, you cannot fake how happy a dog is,” he said......»»

Category: topSource: timeMay 2nd, 2022

The movie-theater industry is giddy about films like "Top Gun" and "Avatar," as streaming falters and major studios like Disney and Warner Bros. reset their strategies

Major film studios showed off their upcoming movies to theater owners during CinemaCon and the industry is abuzz about 2022's release slate. Tom Cruise in "Top Gun: Maverick."Paramount Pictures The theater industry was buzzing at CinemaCon this year about the return of moviegoing. Disney won theater owners over again, and Paramount's "Top Gun: Maverick" energized attendees. The industry is also still trying to court Netflix, and has big concerns about Amazon. The US theatrical industry was devastated during the last two years by the coronavirus pandemic. But one wouldn't have known that last week at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, where a sense of optimism for the state of movie theaters swept over the convention.Insider attended the annual week-long event, where the major film studios showcased their upcoming slates of theatrical releases to giddy theater owners.This year's event followed a tumultuous period for Hollywood, as theaters throughout the US shut down during most of 2020 and drove studios to experiment with new distribution strategies to boost their streaming businesses.The theatrical industry isn't out of the woods yet — the box office is still down from pre-pandemic levels and will take a while to fully recover. But, from CinemaCon's various studio presentations, interviews with top industry execs, and behind-the-scenes chatter, it seems that things are pivoting in a favorable direction for the industry.Industry leaders are overjoyed that movie studios are, for the most part, moving away from releasing movies simultaneously in theaters and on streaming services. They are also excited about the upcoming release slate, including long-awaited films like "Top Gun: Maverick" and "Avatar: The Way of Water." "It's good to see the level of optimism, not just from exhibitors but from film companies," said Rolando Rodriguez, the CEO of Marcus Theatres and the chairman of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO). "There's a realization that theatrical windows are important to build their intellectual property."Studios are moving away from day-and-date releasesThe collapse of the theatrical window was one of the biggest obstacles for the theatrical industry during the pandemic.Before the pandemic, theaters typically played movies exclusively for 75 days to 90 days. But in an industry-shaking strategy, Warner Bros. released last year all of its movies simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. Other studios also released some of their biggest movies in theaters and on streaming services at the same time.That "day-and-date" strategy, as it's called, isn't completely disappearing. Universal will this month release "Firestarter" simultaneously on Peacock and in theaters.But as far as theater owners are concerned, it's "dead as a serious business model," John Fithian, the CEO of NATO, said. Movie studios are committing their biggest releases to exclusive theatrical windows this year."That doesn't mean that there won't be distributors that toy occasionally with that concept," Fithian told Insider. "But from what we are hearing from the studios, they are focused on their slate of movies that are intended for theaters with an exclusive window."The new window seems to be coalescing around 45 days. Universal and Warner Bros. have both said that, starting this year, their theatrically exclusive movies will have at least that window before debuting on their respective streaming services.The consensus within the theatrical industry is that an exclusive theatrical release can help a movie's streaming chances by building momentum and word of mouth. Multiple people Insider spoke to cited "The Batman" as an example, as it's made nearly $800 million at the worldwide box office and is also a hit on HBO Max.The release model worked for "Encanto," too. The Disney animated movie surged in popularity after it hit Disney+. Social-media data from the analytics company Diesel Labs showed that the movie peaked in online engagement while it was in theaters, but it got another boost, and maintained a longer period of engagement, once it hit streaming."Avatar."20th Century FoxDisney and 'Top Gun: Maverick' won CinemaConSpeaking of Disney: While every studio brought the goods to wow the theatrical industry, Disney was one of the biggest winners out of CinemaCon.Theater owners soured on the company last year when it released "Black Widow" simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ for an additional fee. It went a step further by releasing revenue figures for the movie's first week on the service, sparking the theater industry's ire. NATO released a scathing statement about the strategy after the movie tanked at the box office in its second weekend.But all of that seems to have been forgiven, even though the company still hasn't announced a set theatrical window like other studios have.When Disney touted during its CinemaCon presentation its lucrative brands, from Marvel to Pixar to Lucasfilm, the crowd went wild. Industry figures were impressed with the company's theatrical slate, including "Avatar: The Way of Water," which several people pointed out as a potential game-changer for the industry, like its 2009 predecessor was (it's the highest-grossing movie of all time globally)."There's no way to nuance my memories of the first movie," Rich Gelfond, the CEO of Imax, said. "It changed everything. It impacted all parts of our business."Convention attendees were also buzzing about Paramount's long-delayed "Top Gun: Maverick," which the studio screened in full at CinemaCon. The industry is betting that the movie, which arrives in theaters on May 27, will bring out older audiences — the 45-and-older crowd that has been slow to return to theaters."It's a perfect, energizing, fun movie with an audience that grew up with Tom Cruise and 'Top Gun,'" Rodriguez said. "It will touch an older audience base but ideally also connect with a younger audience, too. If I had to choose one movie, I'd say it's that one that could really break through with a consumer base we want back."If early projections are any indication, Rodriguez may be right. Box Office Pro's chief analyst Shawn Robbins is estimating a range of anywhere between $95 million to $135 million for its opening weekend in the US.The theater industry is optimistic about Warner Bros. againDisney isn't the only studio that is clawing its way back into theater owners' good graces.Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich touted to a muted crowd that it was the only studio to consistently release movies to theaters last year. The industry accepts that studios had to release some movies day-and-date, and that it was even good to an extent for theaters at a time when so few films were coming out. But doing so with the full-year slate went too far.However, the 2021 day-and-date experiment is over, and the studio is under new ownership. WarnerMedia and Discovery finalized their merger in April, and former Discovery CEO David Zaslav is leading the new company, called Warner Bros. Discovery. Zaslav has made a point of repairing Warner Bros.' relationship with theaters since taking on the role.To show its commitment to theaters, Warner Bros. brought for its CinemaCon presentation none other than Dwayne Johnson, one of the world's biggest movie stars, to present his upcoming DC movies, "League of Super Pets" and "Black Adam.""The energy and enthusiasm that David Zaslav brings to Warner Bros. and his excitement for the business show that theatrical is an important mechanism," Rodriguez said.Dwayne Johnson in "Black Adam."Warner Bros.Theater execs have their sights on streamers including NetflixNow that theater owners have traditional Hollywood studios where they want them, they're pushing streaming-first companies to embrace longer theatrical windows, too.Netflix has always resisted longer windows for the movies that it releases to theaters. But theater owners are still courting the streaming company, which lost in its most recent quarter subscribers for the first time in a decade. While NATO leadership didn't elaborate on those talks, they have their arms wide open."We're always open to bigger theatrical releases from the streaming companies if they have appropriate windows," Fithian, the NATO chief, said. "The theater door is open to Netflix if they want to go with a bigger theatrical strategy."But while theater execs are trying to lure streamers, they still have concerns about Amazon's acquisition of the MGM film studio. NATO leadership doesn't know if Amazon will release MGM movies exclusively to theaters or on Prime Video."If Amazon uses MGM mainly for streaming, it wouldn't be great for us," Mooky Greidinger, the CEO of Cineworld, said. "But on the other hand, Amazon is a very powerful company that could make MGM into the big studio it was 50 years ago. I don't know where it's going, but I hope Amazon recognizes the potential for theatrical releases."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 2nd, 2022

Bad To The Bone

Bad To The Bone Authored by Peter Tchir via Academy Securities, If last Friday’s price action was ugly, this Friday’s can only be described as mega-ugly! This weekend’s T-Report follows in the footsteps of The Not So Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and Welcome to Thunderdome!!! Sadly, there is a theme emerging in the tone of these T-Reports and the markets – decidedly negative. On Thursday, we asked the question Is The Worst Behind Us? We decided it was not, which seemed like a horrid decision as stocks skyrocketed ahead of Thursday’s earnings, but hasn’t looked so bad since 3:25pm on Thursday when stocks resumed their downward decent. Today, we try to figure out where markets and the economy head next and try and identify a bottom! Geopolitics Academy published Around the World on Thursday night. This month’s topics include: Update on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine. China’s Solomon Islands Partnership and Influence in the Region. Israeli / Palestinian Violence Escalates. Protests in Peru Over Inflation Crisis. General Spider Marks also discussed the latest on the war on CNN with Wolf Blitzer. Bad to the Bone With so much going on, we are going to try to address what’s next by focusing on: Markets themselves. Price action and the alleged “capitulation” so many are talking about. Earnings. What I think is playing out with earnings. Bad Actors Behaving Badly. This will touch on Russia, but go beyond that as we examine risks (that are still a low probability), but are things we should be thinking about. Inflation. This section will be brief, which is not actually the case with inflation. Food and Energy. The Fed. We get the FOMC announcement and press conference on Wednesday. This will be the first opportunity for the Fed to address the market volatility and the last FOMC meeting set the stage for a strong rally! What Are Markets Telling Us? One thing the markets are certainly telling us is that they are as illiquid as heck! The Nasdaq 100 rose 1.5% on Monday, fell almost 4% on Tuesday, started Wednesday up 2%, back to slightly negative then back to up almost 2%, only to finish the day wildly unchanged. On Thursday, it was up 4.25% and finished up 3.5%, only to finish down 4.5% the next day. It is concerning when the weekly drop of 3.7% doesn’t do justice to just how volatile and crazy the week was. This “chaotic” trading occurred in almost every market I watch. I picked the Nasdaq 100 because a few of the juggernauts in that index reported earnings this week, but you name a market and “crazy” trading patterns were evident. CDX IG had some vicious trading and closed the week at 84 bps, the highest since June 2020 (the Bloomberg Corporate Bond OAS isn’t back to mid-March levels, but a lack of liquidity is evident in credit trading as well based on all the reports I’m getting from customers). These wild oscillations bring back memories of watching the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse in some elementary school class. Will the market’s oscillations resolve themselves in the same way as they did with the bridge? I hope not, but that seems to be a non-zero risk. I also must be cautious about getting too bearish as the lack of liquidity is evident in both directions! Rallies like Thursday’s will be just as sharp and vicious as the declines. Last Week’s Chart - Updated We have now broken through the 12,570 line I had on the chart. We had broken it on Tuesday and stayed below on Wednesday and made a valiant attempt to bounce on Thursday, but are now below that, and are at the lowest close on the Nasdaq composite since December 2020! I am concerned that we have to fall to the next rough level of support, which is below 11,000 (just over 10% further to fall). PARA Bill Hwang was arrested this week so I felt it was appropriate to bring out this chart of PARA, which traded under a different ticker during the time that was highlighted. Based on the allegations made around the arrest, I think we can assume that at least some part of the rise can be attributed to “flows” (him buying more and more, because he could) and a substantial portion of the fall can also be attributed to “flows” (stop losses, triggering selling). In full disclosure, I own some of this right around current levels (it had been a nice contrarian dip buy for me until the recent plunge started about 2 weeks ago). The point of this chart is to really hammer home the point about how important flows are, and how illiquid things can become, as that is an important part of my current view on where markets are headed. I would like the “capitulation” story to be a little more obvious! Speculative Fund Flows I am closely watching 3 funds: The $13 billion TQQQ, which is a triple leveraged ETF on the Nasdaq 100 (so it represents over $40 billion of “QQQ” purchasing power). SQQQ, which is only $3 billion, but is a 3x short fund. ARKK, which is just under $9 billion and is invested in “disruptive” companies. Due to the leverage in the two funds and the volatility of the ARKK fund, I think these give some good insight into whether we are seeing “capitulation” or not. ARKK, which is down 50% YTD and down 29% in April, had inflows. I appreciate the buy the dip mentality and a lot of the companies in the ETF have interesting valuations here (for full disclosure I am flat as of the close on Friday and am tempted to buy). But, regarding signs of “capitulation,” I just don’t see it. But the TQQQ story is even more interesting because it got significant inflows last week! Even as the market has been selling off and getting more volatile, money poured into this triple leveraged fund, which was down 12% on the week, down 37% on the month, and down 56% year to date. From a “traditional” view where returns correlate with flows, these things wouldn’t happen. As a contrarian, I’m impressed that they are happening, but I cannot help but wonder if we aren’t nearing a breaking point? Every dollar that has come into TQQQ (and ARKK) this year is underwater, often by significant amounts. If we’d seen “real” capitulation, I would expect fund outflows, rather than inflows last week. The SQQQ finally got some inflows late last week, so that at least is a sign that we are seeing some hedges. Yes, there are all sorts of ways to determine positioning, and this sample set is really much more retail focused, but the lesson is: Capitulation may be getting talked about a lot more than it is actually occurring. In general, the bearish discussions do not seem to be getting backed up by fully bearish positioning (90% of my conversations are about dip buying and finding the bottom). The Non-Virtuous Cycle I am going to try and tie the previous charts and stories into a simple narrative. There was a group of people out there who had this happen to them during the pandemic: They worked at fun, interesting, disruptive firms and had stock prices soar or were even able to participate in their companies’ IPOs. That wealth was heavily tied to their company. When they could access this wealth, they “diversified” into: Other disruptive companies because they loved the disruptive mindset and they could relate to it, and the excitement was palpable. Big buyers of crypto. Crypto met the “disruptive” and “change the world” feelings that were often pervasive during the wild rebound post pandemic. Bitcoin hit $60k in March 2021 and then again in November, but is languishing around $40k right now. I would argue that you had a “virtuous” cycle that started after Covid and has been running out of steam. This “cycle” theory helps explain why crypto is so correlated to some volatile tech sectors (they are owned by the same people). I cannot tell if this “group” (which I completely believe exists) has managed to properly diversify themselves, or if we have another leg down? Maybe I’ve picked my charts too narrowly, but I am not getting a good “vibe” from the market itself. And I didn’t even bring up, at least not too much, that the cost of credit is rising and will be a drag on earnings. Earnings and Multiples I spend very little time on earnings, but this week was as good as any to pay attention to. What I think about earnings season, especially right now, is that: It is not so much about what was made, but what will be made. It is far more about the multiple the market is willing to pay, than about the earnings or even the outlook. Going back to January of this year, we discussed the Valuation Evaluation. This earnings season is still more about what multiple we will pay for future earnings, rather than about the future earnings themselves. We are about to embark on balance sheet reduction and that is influencing what investors will pay for future earnings. When I look at price action post-earnings, the bigger moves are related to this valuation evaluation, rather than the prospects of future earnings (though that plays a role given the global uncertainty and higher rates). So far earnings haven’t been a help for stocks (though I’d argue that is more about this valuation adjustment than the earnings themselves) and neither have some hefty buyback announcements. The buyback announcements will help over time as they are a flow that is going in the right direction for stocks. At the moment, earnings and buybacks aren’t enough to create a bounce in stocks and risk assets, but they do set the stage for a nice long rebound once we get to that stage. Bad Actors Behaving Badly People keep wondering when China will abandon Russia. I cannot think of a reason for them to do so. Yes, they need us, but we need them far more than they need us, and we’ve already shown our colors (the West that is) by continuing to buy Russian oil. Xi cares about China and their long-term needs. I’m willing to bet that China sells military equipment to Russia long before they stop buying Russian commodities. Any leader of an autocratic nation, whose behavior goes against what the U.S. stands for, has to be working to establish even better and closer relationships with China, as they have the money (and the need for resources), don’t care about internal politics, and haven’t weaponized their currency the way we did when we froze the Russian Central Bank’s dollar reserves. On Putin, I spend about 2% of my time thinking about how we come to a peaceful outcome and about 98% of my time thinking about how he can use a nuclear weapon to further his goals. The nuclear threat is there, but it seems so “binary” that it isn’t as powerful as it might be. Putin, of all people, would seem to benefit by making the threat of nuclear attacks more real! Yes, he needs to be careful with India and China to ensure their ongoing purchases in the event he does something. Yes, he has to be extremely careful about our retaliation. No, I haven’t come up with a way that seems plausible, but this is coming up in conversation after conversation. If Putin’s only option is to “win” and he is most definitely not “winning” by any true measure, what will he do to “win”? Again, no one seems to have come up with a strategy that works for him to elevate his nuclear threat to get more from the West, but we have to believe he is exploring that option. One very sobering thought that came out of some of these discussions is that from the Russian (or Soviet) perspective, the only country to ever use a nuclear weapon was the U.S. I’m not sure what to say about that, other than it is sobering and may well factor into Putin’s thoughts. On the subject of nuclear, every bad actor (most are already pursuing nuclear weapons, if they don’t already have them) will be aggressively pursuing them now, having seen what a deterrent they are. I believe they aren’t working as well as Putin would like, but there is no argument that they are working. So far, Russia has held off on a full-scale cyber assault, but that remains a risk. I do have to say that our Geopolitical Intelligence Group has been spot on with their analysis that our defenses are thwarting Russian attempts. There have been a lot more cyber attacks than we hear about because our defenses (at a national and corporate level) have been so good! A big shout-out for the good team, but vigilance is still required. We live in a world where bad actors feel more emboldened to act badly, which gets me back to my “closeness” of supply chains, which I won’t regurgitate here, but I think is crucial and the direction countries and companies are headed! Inflation High energy costs are here for some time as we need to spend to build out sustainable energy sources and we need to re-invest in traditional energy sources that in many cases suffer from underinvestment. Personally, I don’t understand why starting the Keystone Pipeline isn’t on the table, but that is a topic for another day. Food inflation is likely to be worse than energy inflation. War in Ukraine. With the war dragging on, it is almost impossible to expect much of a crop out of Ukraine. Russia may get a crop, but how will they ship it? Or even transport it within Russia as the invasion is co-opting their rail system. More problematic is this has the risk of becoming a muti-year problem. Fertilizer. Our conversations are literally filled with fertilizer. Nitrates, peat, natural gas, etc. are all working against the cost of fertilizer. That is a major problem and is still getting worse rather than better. Equipment. Like with most heavy equipment, there are supply chain issues. Farms are expensive to run. Not only is fertilizer expensive, but workers are also expensive and the fuel to power the equipment is expensive. Ukrainian refugees. Countries in Europe are finding homes for millions of refugees from Ukraine. That is straining existing supply and delivery systems. The food distribution system will adapt, but the massive displacement of people is not helping the food problem as logistics need to catch up with this shift in consumption. Since fuel and food inflation are real, I don’t see the politicians backing down on “fighting” inflation. I don’t really think that the Fed is in a great position to fight the type of inflation that we are getting. I also think that subsidies to help people purchase food and fuel are deflationary. They are potentially necessary as the poor are the hardest hit, but policies like that do more to offset the costs of inflation rather than stopping inflation. The Fed The Fed meeting is on Wednesday. The last Fed meeting sparked a big rally. There are two things that might be different this time: Everyone knows the last Fed meeting sparked a rally, so they might be holding off selling risky assets until after the Fed meeting! I know that as a bear, I am deathly afraid of a post Fed rally, which might mean we don’t get it this time. We will get balance sheet reduction and while that seems much more priced in, that could still be a scenario where we sell the news because it becomes real. I am scared of a post FOMC rally (and that could be the turning point), but it seems almost too obvious to happen again! On the bright side, I’m on the road for the next two weeks straight seeing customers, investors, and friends in person! That is the best part of this job, and I will enjoy it even if I still cannot get to the point of being bullish! I’m closer to being bullish, but not there yet! Small positions and nimble trading still seem to be the order of the day (and I don’t mind rates – the 10-year was only 3 bps higher on the week). I do hope that “Bad to the Bone” turns out to be a bad title, but that’s where I’m stuck right now. Tyler Durden Sun, 05/01/2022 - 18:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 1st, 2022

Food Processing Plant Fires: Conspiracy Or Coincidence?

Food Processing Plant Fires: Conspiracy Or Coincidence? Submitted by QTR's Fringe Finance In the midst of unprecedented inflation, skyrocketing commodity prices and projected food shortages and supply chain issues arising as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an interesting story has started to surface: food processing plants globally appear to be catching fire and burning down at a notable rate. First, lets examine what seems odd. For weeks, social media users and bloggers have been throwing around the story that dozens of food processing facilities have mysteriously burned down over the last few months. It’s a phenomenon that has even caught the attention of top rated cable TV news host Tucker Carlson, who spoke about it this week. “This is the second time in a week something like this happened,” Carlson said about breaking news after a plane crashed into a food facility in Georgia.   “So industrial accidents happen, of course, but this is a lot of industrial accidents at food processing plants. At the same time the president is warning us of food shortages. They’re getting hit by planes and catching on fire. What is going on here?” Carlson asked. Carlson’s guest, Jason Rantz opined: “It could lead to some serious food shortages. That’s why people are wondering, well, number one, what’s going on? And you’ve got people speculating that this might be an intentional way to disrupt the food supply. Police are saying that these fires are due to faulty issues with equipment, so they’re not saying this was intentional." But Carlson admitted there was little in the way of evidence of a conspiracy: “The onus is on people who think this is a conspiracy theory to explain what is going on, what are the odds of that. I have no idea.” Fire at pig farm in Co Armagh, Northern Ireland (via The Western Standard) The Western Standard has also been following the story closely and found dozens upon dozens of incidents globally. “Beyond North American food processing plants, there have been dozens more food processing facilities destroyed in fires and explosions in the last two years,” the outlet wrote days ago. “Fires in the food industry are not uncommon,” but the incidents appear to be on the rise, the report said. The outlet recapped some of the more recent incidents, which it compiled in this list (this is only a partial list, TWS’s full list is here): On Monday, 43,000 chickens died in a massive fire that destroyed four chicken houses on a farm in the Dutch town of Heusden, according to World Today News. In March, a fire at a poultry farm in India killed 3,500 chickens. According to PiPa News, the fire destroyed the entire farm. Another poultry farm in India was also hit by fire in March killing 8,500 chicks. Times of India reported the fire may have been caused by a short circuit. In January, a fire at a poultry farm in Kerala, India killed more than 2,500 chickens, according to The Print. In December 2021, 8,000 chickens were killed in a poultry farm blaze in Sri Lanka. News First reported the fire was likely sparked by an “electrical leak.” A massive blaze at a Northern Ireland farm killed hundreds of pigs in November 2021, as reported by News Letter. No one was injured. In October 2021, a large fire at a Fermanagh poultry farm in Northern Ireland killed 16,000 birds. It took firefighters more than seven hours to get control of the fire, as reported by That’s Farming. A large fire broke out in September 2021 at a Chilean food processing plant. Although no injuries were reported, several crews were needed to battle the blaze, as reported by La Tercera. In July 2021, a deadly fire at a Bangladesh food processing factory kills at least 52 people, as reported by Aljazeera. Another fire at a poultry house in East Yorkshire, England in July 2021 killed 50,000 chickens. The fire was said to be caused by accidental ignition, as reported by the Daily Mail. In April 2021, over 55,000 pigs were killed after a fire broke out at a German pig farm. USA Today reported the cause of the blaze was unclear.   Riverway Foods fire in Harlow, UK (via BBC/The Western Standard) Additionally, the FBI has also warned about cyberattacks against food processing plants (yet another reason I like cybersecurity stocks) in the days following coverage of the fires. If you enjoy my work, have the means and want to support Fringe Finance, as well as gain access to all of my articles, you can subscribe here: Subscribe now Zero Hedge reported last weekend that the FBI's Cyber Division published a notice warning about increased cyber-attack threats on agricultural cooperatives.  "Ransomware actors may be more likely to attack agricultural cooperatives during critical planting and harvest seasons, disrupting operations, causing financial loss, and negatively impacting the food supply chain," the notice read, adding 2021 and early 2022 ransomware attacks on farming co-ops could affect the current planting season "by disrupting the supply of seeds and fertilizer." The agency warned, "A significant disruption of grain production could impact the entire food chain, since grain is not only consumed by humans but also used for animal feed ... In addition, a significant disruption of grain and corn production could impact commodities trading and stocks. " Zero Hedge astutely noted that this is “all happening as the Ukraine-Russian conflict has disrupted the global food supply chain. Food prices are at record highs, and the Rockefeller Foundation just released their timeframe of when a ‘massive, immediate food crisis’ may begin -- they say, ‘in the next six months.’” Now, let’s examine the skeptical side. There are tens of thousands of such facilities globally, and so “dozens” of fires aren’t exactly statistically significant. Logically writes: Upon investigation, Logically found many articles about fires and accidents at food processing units in 2019. According to a 2019 report by USDA, the United States has more than 36,000 food and beverage processing units in operation. Minor damages through fires to a small handful of food processing factories would not cause a food shortage across the country. And fact checkers seem to be in unison that there were little to no evidence of foul play in any of the incidents. The crew at PolitiFact said: We looked at each of the 18 fires mentioned in the Facebook post and found no evidence that any of them were intentionally set.  Twelve were either ruled accidental, or no foul play was suspected. One was at a vacant building that once housed a meat plant. In five others, the fires are either still under investigation or investigators have not publicly announced any cause found — intentional or otherwise. Some of the plants were completely destroyed or heavily damaged, while others suffered minor damage with little impact on food production. Though the post said the 18 fires happened in the past six months, only 12 of those happened in that time frame. Snopes also wrote: The claim of a new “trend” of fires at food processing facilities does not hold up upon scrutiny. Almost all of the fires on meme lists involved explainable causes, and we found no examples of suspected arson. Well I guess that settles it then, right? You can read the full “debunking” of the narrative here. As with all forum posts, I’d love to know what my readers think: coincidence or something more? Leave your comments at this link, where we already have an ongoing discussion about this topic.  Tyler Durden Sat, 04/30/2022 - 12:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 30th, 2022

2 German volunteers went to Ukraine to fight the Russians. Confusion, chaos, and then COVID-19, defeated them instead.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy called on foreign fighters to help defend against Russian attacks. Many weren't what the Ministry of Defense had in mind. Lukas and Tobias, two German volunteers, arrive in the western city of Lviv, just over a week after Russia's invasion of Ukraine began.Alan Chin for Insider To help defend against Russian attacks, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy called on foreign fighters.  Volunteers poured in, but many were perhaps not what the Ministry of Defense had in mind. On March 2, two German volunteers arrived in Lviv, ready to become war heroes. Chaos ensued. The two Germans burst into the hostel in Lviv, Ukraine, at 2 a.m., bumping into the door frame and shouting questions about where the beds were and how to find the bathroom. It was March 2, a week into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the hostel was mostly filled with shell-shocked women and children escaping war to the east. The Germans were starkly out of place. Marie and Etterem, the Ukrainian-Turkish couple who ran the place, had been sleeping on the kitchen floor down in the basement—now doubling as an air raid bunker—to leave more room for guests. They got up to prepare tea for the newcomers, giving the men a chance to explain themselves."We are volunteer soldiers for the International Legion of the Ukrainian military," Lukas, the younger of the two men, said. His companion, Tobias, twitched with excitement as he interrupted with, "We're here to fight the Russians."Marie and Etterem thanked the men for their bravery and headed back to bed. The Germans stepped out onto the balcony for a smoke, inviting me—a jet-lagged journalist who had been staying at the hostel since the war began—to join their late-night conversation. Sharply dressed in pristine blue-and-white tennis shoes, with a nose piercing and studded ears, Lukas, 33, had been living in Montenegro for the last six months while working at his father's IT company. He had come with a small backpack containing little that might come in handy for a soldier, and just enough money to pay for a few nights at a hostel.As he would tell me later, Lukas was bored with his tech job and was looking for something "real." Ukraine seemed as real as it could get. When he told his family and his girlfriend that he planned to join the International Legion, they tried to hide his passport. He slipped out in the middle of the night. "It was my decision and no one could stop me," Lukas said.Tobias—a decade older, at 44—was a luxury watchmaker by trade and spent weekends DJ-ing at techno clubs. Tall and lanky, with gauged earlobes and an uneven buzz cut, he carried only a small, overstuffed suitcase on two wheels, a well-worn black backpack, and a khaki shoulder bag that he seemed unwilling to part with. A simple black watch hung on his wrist. Tobias had been watching the news from his home in Fulda, outside Frankfurt, and was moved by a striking image of a Ukrainian girl carrying a Kaloshnikov in Kyiv. She looked to be around the same age as his daughter, Luna. "What if that were my Luna?" he remembers thinking. "How could I let her do this fight alone?"  Over the last year, Tobias had fallen out with his father and sister, lost ownership of the business he'd spent years building, and relapsed into binge drinking and drugs. He hadn't seen either of his two kids in more than six months. "My family is everything, and I don't have them anymore," he said. So, why not go to Ukraine, he figured."Were we supposed to just stand by and watch?" Tobias asked, digging into his pocket for his lighter. "We are from Germany," he said, halting his incessant fidgeting to emphasize his words and allude to his country's WWII history. "Not again."Neither man had any military experience or combat training, or even a connection to Ukraine. Lukas, smoking a joint, pulled his jacket more tightly around himself. He had brought rolling papers, but not a scarf or gloves. It was just 26 degrees that night in Lviv, and snowing.'Please come, we will give you weapons'On February 26—two days after the start of the Russian bombardment—Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy invited foreign nationals who considered themselves friends of Ukraine to join the fight, saying, "Please come. We will give you weapons."A day after that, Ukraine's Ministry of Defense provided more details: "Anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe, and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals." Practically unprecedented in modern times, it brought to mind the call for anti-fascist volunteers to Spain in the 1930s, when over 60,000 volunteers from 50 countries (George Orwell among them) rushed to the Republicans' side in the Spanish civil war.These foreign fighters would be incorporated into the military under a voluntary contract with the same rights and responsibilities as the 100,000 or more Ukrainian militiamen already organized within 25 Territorial Defense Force brigades around the country.The International Legion added to Ukraine's 200,000-plus active-duty troops and 900,000 reservists—Europe's second largest military force, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Only Russia oversees a bigger military in the region, dwarfing the forces of its neighbors, with over 900,000 active-duty soldiers and two million reservists.Formed at breakneck speed, many of the recruits were perhaps not who the Ministry of Defense had hoped to attract or was prepared to train. And, although legislation already existed to recruit foreigners, the military infrastructure that is needed to prepare inexperienced volunteers for war was still developing.On March 2, Ukraine updated its guidelines, and specified that recruits must sign up at the nearest Ukrainian embassy, complete a background check, and pass a health screening before presenting for service. (By March 7, Ukraine said 20,000 foreign recruits from 52 countries had applied to join the International Legion. Some estimates suggest the number has grown to 40,000.)But by that time, Tobias and Lukas were already in Ukraine—heading to training in their sneakers and jeans. The Georgian LegionTobias and Lukas had met at the train station in Przemysl, a small town on the Polish-Ukrainian border, during the long wait for the next train to Lviv—40 miles to the east. Tobias had overheard Lukas chatting with another man in German and, happy to hear his mother tongue, introduced himself. Lukas had been telling people that he was heading to Ukraine as a humanitarian volunteer. But when Tobias mentioned that he already had a military contact inside Ukraine, Lukas came clean. Tobias (left) and Lukas at the train station in Lviv.Alan Chin for InsiderA few days earlier, back in Germany, Tobias had reached out to the Ukrainian embassy in Frankfurt and learned that Ukraine's borders were open for volunteer fighters from anywhere in the world. No visa was required, so travel wouldn't be a problem. Tobias went on Facebook in search of a contact for the International Legion. He discovered instead the Georgian Legion—a battalion of volunteer soldiers mostly from the ex-Soviet country, many of whom carried anger towards Russia from when President Putin attacked their country in 2008. Tobias was given an email address and instructed to reach out once he crossed into Ukraine. While Tobias might have thought he had nothing to lose, his family saw things differently. "It was like a rollercoaster," Tobias' daughter, Luna, told me when I reached her by phone. "Always waiting for messages to know if he was okay."Lukas had done even less research, jumping on a train without any plans, instructions, or contacts. Once in Ukraine, he figured, it wouldn't be difficult to connect with a recruiter for the Legion. And then, he met Tobias, who seemed to have all the information Lukas needed. The Germans decided to continue the journey together. On that first frigid night in Lviv, they arrived too late to meet their Georgian contact. Instead, they were told they should find a place to sleep, and a car would come for them the next morning to take them to the training center.  The hostel was the only place their taxi driver could find with two open beds in the packed city, which had become a transit hub for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the bombardments of Kyiv, Kharkiv, and other cities.  Lukas (left) helps Tobias repack his bags as they prepare to meet their Georgian Legion escort at the hostel in Lviv, Ukraine.Katie Livingstone for InsiderThe next morning, after just a few hours of sleep, the Germans showered and repacked their bags. Lukas finished first and watched as Tobias struggled to stuff all his things into his two bags. After a while, Lukas gamely plopped onto Tobias' suitcase so that his companion could more easily zip it up.Sure enough, later that morning a dark blue skoda with two armed soldiers pulled up in front of the hostel. The car was unmarked, but the soldiers wore the telltale yellow armband meant to differentiate Ukrainian troops from Russian soldiers. Making their way to the car, the Germans promised me they would stay in touch. (Over the next three weeks, I would hear from them almost daily, and meet them for several more interviews. They asked that Insider use only their first names.)  Tobias and Lukas climbed into the back seat and off they sped to some unknown location to begin their service to Ukraine. 'Katastrophe'In a hushed phone call that first night, Tobias explained that he and Lukas had been taken to the Georgian Legion's barracks, just outside Lviv. The place was barren and disorganized. They had expected to receive gear and start training right away. Instead, they spent most of that day and night drinking and smoking with their new brothers-in-arms while trying to communicate in whatever lingua-franca passed for the moment. (Most of the soldiers were Georgian, and about a third were from other places.) "Katastrophe," Tobias repeated over and over again. "There's no organization, no organized training. Everyone just wants to kill the Russians." Lukas and Tobias depart the Lviv hostel for training with the Georgian Legion.Katie Livingstone for InsiderThe next morning, Tobias and Lukas were told the Georgians were evacuating the base after getting a report that Russians were heading their way. They should take a train to Kyiv, they were told.But the details were foggy. Still without any military gear, they told me they were instructed to pose as Red Cross volunteers and prepare reports on any suspicious activity that they observed en route. "They want us to spy on the people on the train," Tobias said. Once in the capital, they would meet up with another squadron at a safe-house. After that, they'd go to the front, they were told.When asked why the Legion would make such a request of two foreigners with no experience in the country who couldn't speak the local languages, Lukas said simply: "They asked, so we are going." Out of Lukas' earshot, Tobias offered another explanation. "The Georgian officer asked Lukas to stop smoking in the room twice last night. And he didn't want to. He's not thinking. Then, the officer asked us to go to Kyiv, and Lukas agreed. Katastrophe," Tobias lamented. He had agreed to accompany Lukas because he didn't want the younger man to go alone, he said.Fissures in the brotherhood were already becoming apparent.Meanwhile, since the war began, no Russian troops have been reported in Lviv by any media outlets. Instead, across Lviv, paranoia about Russian saboteurs was palpable. At the hostel where Tobias and Lukas stayed, Marie and Etterem said they received almost nightly calls from an intelligence officer asking if any of their guests seemed dubious. One night, prior to the Germans' arrival, police had burst into the small lodge and interrogated all of the male foreigners staying there, and then left without another word. Hundreds of check-points have gone up around greater Lviv and residents are told to call a hotline to report anything suspicious."I remember two crazy Germans," Mamuka Mamulashvili, the commander of the Georgian Legion, told me when I reached him over Skype. I showed him a picture of Tobias and Lukas, just to be sure, and Mamulashvili burst out laughing, explaining that he tries to personally interview every recruit. "That's them.""My officers told me there were these two guys trying to party in the barracks, and they had to go. They were gone the next day," Mamulashvili said. Mamulashvili said the Georgian Legion is a Special Forces battalion made up of combat-ready fighters, and that it has been repeatedly confused with Ukraine's newly-organized International Legion, which has training capacity for less experienced soldiers."I don't know anything about the 'spy story,' though," he added with a smirk, after I summarized what the Germans had told me.'Ukraine must know its heroes'Unlike the packed trains carrying mostly women and children toward the Polish border, the trains heading east had plenty of seats. Tobias and Lukas' trip to Kyiv was uneventful, even as their excitement grew. "We have gone past some blown-up buildings, and I think I saw an unexploded missile in a field," Tobias texted from the train."This isn't what I signed up for," Lukas admitted in an audio message, adding, "But we are ready." Tobias and Lukas arrived at Kyiv's central train station that evening, still wearing their civilian clothes. As instructed, they called their Georgian commander back in Lviv. The phone rang and rang. No one answered. Now at the war's doorstep, they had no plan and no idea where they would spend the night.By this point in the war—ten days after Kyiv was first hit—Russian missile assaults had driven over a million people to the west and into neighboring countries. That day, Russian troops had occupied the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, stirring up decades-old fears of nuclear war. Incessant bombing had started in Mariupol, southeast from Kyiv—the start of one of the worst civilian disasters in Ukraine since the war began.Tobias on the train from Lviv to Kyiv, where he and Lukas hoped to finally reach the front line.TobiasBut Ukrainian forces had stalled the 40-mile-long line of Russian troops heading into the capital from Belarus, repelling forces from the capital through a stunningly successful combination of air defense tactics and street combat. Zelenkskyy continued to speak to the Ukrainian people from Kyiv's iconic city squares, proving to the world that the capital was still in Ukrainian hands. Still, shelling was heard nightly and many residents of the capital took refuge in the city's subway stations, which had been built during the Cold War to withstand a nuclear attack. Without a better idea, Tobias and Lukas began approaching uniformed soldiers to ask if they could join their squads. They eventually found two friendly Ukrainian reservists in fatigues and, with the help of a translation app on their phones, introduced themselves. The reservists said their squadron had not yet been mobilized. They invited the Germans back to their makeshift barracks, in the back of a storefront, to sleep for the night. "Only civilians are protecting the train station! There's a ring of Russians around Kyiv! We don't know how to get out!" Tobias exclaimed on the phone that night. I checked the news and, in fact, trains were still leaving daily to the east. With their Georgian commander still not picking up their calls, the Germans passed the hours drinking the reservists' alcohol and smoking the last of the marijuana Lukas had brought—bonding over their united mission against Russia. Tobias (second from left) and Lukas (right) hang out with the Ukrainian reservists they met at the Kyiv train station. The Ukrainians invited them to stay at their makeshift barracks.TobiasThe next morning, the reservists drove Tobias and Lukas around Kyiv to search for a new group to join, the Germans told me. But no one would have them. "They told us to leave because the war is lost and it is too dangerous," Tobias said later. (In fact, the steadfast resolve of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians alike has been well documented. Insider was unable to speak to the reservists by phone to confirm details of the visit.)Their best bet was to return to Lviv and try to reconnect with the International Legion there, Tobias and Lukas decided.  Back at Kyiv's train station, they found, for the first time, they were heading in the same direction as throngs of other people. Children still in their pajamas from hasty escapes, elderly people with blank stares and almost no luggage. When a Lviv-bound train pulled up at the platform, the scene was chaotic, as hundreds of people tried to push their way onto the already crowded train. The Germans noticed a shell-shocked woman standing nearby, who seemed unable to jostle her things onto the train. They sprung into action, securing the woman a seat on the next train out and, as her escorts, finding just enough space to squeeze themselves into the train's corridor. The woman, named Yulia, was 38 and had fled the besieged northeastern city of Kharkiv. She carried just one small suitcase and said she wasn't sure if her apartment had been bombed. She said she thought it had.  On the long ride west, Tobias and Lukas hatched a plan to escort Yulia to Germany. "It's too dangerous for a woman to travel on her own," Tobias told me later that night, with conviction and satisfaction in his voice. But the next morning, after another night spent in the bunk-beds of the Lviv hostel, they changed their minds about leaving Ukraine so quickly. They accompanied Yulia to the bus station, and waved as she headed towards Poland, where she had family waiting for her."I am very grateful to these guys who literally dragged me onto the train to Lviv," she later posted on Facebook. (She also confirmed the details of Tobias and Lukas' story to Insider.) "I can't tell you how I felt at that moment, only tears of joy and gratitude. Ukraine must know its heroes—Sláva Ukrayíni! (Glory to Ukraine!)"Reinvigorated by their brief visit to Kyiv, Tobias and Lukas finally gave up on the Georgians and decided to focus on the International Legion. But it still wasn't clear how they would do that. So, once again, they began approaching men in uniform.Soon, a friendly man in fatigues was leading them to a small building that had just been repurposed into a military post for the International Legion. Inside, they were led past the long line of Ukrainian men presenting for service with the Territorial Defense Forces, to the much shorter line reserved for foreigners.Tobias and Lukas were asked a few questions and then heard the words they had been waiting for: The International Legion of the Ukrainian armed forces would welcome them at its training center. The Yavoriv training center was located at a former NATO base, 15 miles from the Polish border. Tobias and Lukas would spend the night at a way-station in Novoyavorivsk, not far from the base. Finally, it seemed, Tobias and Lukas were on the right course.'Drive as fast as the rockets!'The first day at the Yavoriv training center of the International Legion was a blur of activity. There were recruits from the US, Canada, Israel, and several other countries. Taking pictures at the base was forbidden and the recruits were told to switch their phones to airplane mode to avoid detection.As Tobias and Lukas would later tell me, Ukrainian soldiers took their passport details and had them sign documents, which they said they couldn't understand because they were written in Ukrainian. No copies were provided. Every recruit was given pants with a digital camouflage pattern (too thin for the winter, they said), several button-down shirts, some undershirts and underwear (several sizes too big, they said), boots, and a duffle bag. They were offered a Kalashnikov, but no ammunition since foreign recruits were not allowed to carry loaded weapons on the base.Days on the base started every day at 6 a.m. with breakfast in the mess hall, followed by marches in formation and combat exercises. They were taught about Russian weaponry and field tactics via PowerPoint presentations. Recruits sat shoulder to shoulder in packed rooms, often without enough chairs.Tobias in uniform during training at Yavoriv.LukasTo verify what the men were telling me, I went to one of the International Legion's offices in Lviv and interviewed Col. Anton Myronovych, a public affairs officer for the Ukrainian military.He told me the contracts he's seen are translated into English—it's the same contract as Ukrainian volunteers for the Territorial Defense Forces—and trainees receive copies of everything they sign. Foreign fighters are also entitled to the same pay and benefits as Ukrainians. "There's no difference between Ukrainians and foreigners in this situation," he said. Col. Myronovych said that troops in the International Legion are initially trained in separate groups according to their skill level, and later put into squadrons with skilled soldiers. When international battalions are sent to the front, he said, they are paired with Ukrainian battalions already on the battlefield to face the enemy as a united force. At Yavoriv, Lukas had grown tight-lipped. He said he couldn't talk while on the base. But Tobias was in high spirits. "They're crazy happy I have a license to drive trucks," Tobias said in a WhatsApp message after the first day of training. He imagined they might assign him to transport goods to the front since there were so few available drivers. "But this is also very dangerous," he said. "So I'll have to drive as fast as the rockets!"'Someone watching your back'One of the first people Tobias and Lukas met in Novoyavorivsk was Kevin, a sturdy, 58-year-old Irishman with bright white hair. Unlike most of the other recruits, Kevin had arrived in Ukraine with a bullet-proof vest and a helmet, and seemed well versed in modern weaponry and tactics. As a young man, he had served in the Irish special forces, and had later worked as a security contractor in some of the world's hotspots. (Kevin would later show me dog-eared pictures of from his military days, which he'd brought with him to Ukraine.) With high blood pressure and persistent pain from, he said, a crushed vertebra from a parachuting accident years ago, he was no longer in top form, but he thought he could still be useful in a fight.Like the Germans, Kevin had hoped to join a small squadron and get out to the front line as soon as possible. "When you see the suffering, the killing of women and children and the elderly, it's pretty hard to just sit back and watch it happen," Kevin told me later. Kevin displays two photographs from his younger days as a soldier.Katie Livingstone for InsiderWhen Kevin contacted the Ukrainian embassy in Ireland, they only insisted on recruits having some military experience, according to an email reviewed by Insider. After Kevin crossed the border, he found a military representative, who directed him to the training center at Yavoriv. In Tobias and Lukas, Kevin saw men with "good hearts." "We all agreed that we would help and look out for each other," Kevin told me when I first interviewed him. "In situations like this, it is essential to have someone watching your back and vice versa." Meanwhile, three other recruits had also joined the Germans' unofficial crew. There was William, a moody, 25-year-old Frenchman, who cited his hundreds of hours playing Call of Duty when asked about his military experience; Misha, 42 and Czech, who admitted he didn't know how to handle a gun but said he could survive off the land for months at a time if needed; and Erik, a 20-year-old medic from Germany, had brought along a well-stocked first aid kit and flak jacket from his time training (but not fighting) with the military back home.'I came to fight for Ukraine, not to die for Ukraine'Within about three days, doubt once again had set in. There wasn't any time for questions, or enough equipment for hands-on practice. Many of the recruits weren't taking the training seriously, and were smoking cigarettes during drills. Then, there was the constant clamor of air raid sirens—day and night—and the furious rush to take cover in case they signaled a true threat. And all over the base, the men noticed that fellow recruits were getting sick. On around the third day of training, Tobias started feeling unwell. A high fever kept him up at night. Kevin wouldn't admit it, but others noticed something wrong in him, too. William fainted twice during their morning exercises. The three men started skipping training to rest—which was fine, since no one required them to attend. There was no COVID-19 testing available on the base, but all three suspected they'd come down with the virus. With a hint of hyperbole, the men said that half of the recruits appeared to be sick, and some were giving up on training entirely and leaving the camp. (Col. Myronovych denied any large-scale Covid outbreak, or shortage of medical care.) "I am wondering if I made the right decision to come," Tobias wrote in a WhatsApp message.  "But it is too late to turn back now." At around the same time, Neumann, a German field medic who was helping to lead some of their drills, started showing signs of mounting stress, the men said. He had begun shouting during their lessons, they said, losing his patience more often with both the recruits and the Ukrainian officers. That afternoon, Neumann pulled Tobias, Kevin and a few others aside. He whispered urgently that he had overheard some of the Ukrainian officers talking. Behind their backs, officers were referring to recruits like them—those without combat training but with a will to fight—as "cannon fodder" and "mine meat." They'd be used to open up the battlefield and test their enemy's capabilities before risking more valuable, better-trained troops, he said. With tears streaming down his face, he urged the men to leave. Insider was unable to reach Neumann, and the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine did not respond to requests for comments on these accusations. When I asked Col. Myronovych about this, he said he didn't recognize the name Neumann, and denied that such an attitude existed.Foreign recruits have access to the same training resources and safety measures as Ukrainian members of the Territorial Defense Forces, Col. Myronovych said, adding that the Legion was doing the best they could to quickly and effectively train these rookie troops alongside veteran soldiers. "They cannot only fight and die in the first day. They have to survive. They have to stay safe. It's one of our goals—they have to come back alive." Back at Yavoriv, Neumann's warning terrified Tobias, Lukas, and the others. Erik's tactical first aid vest, which he brought with him from Germany.Used with permission"I came to fight for Ukraine, not to die for Ukraine," Erik told me later. "Being in these legions is like holding a loaded gun to your head and pulling the trigger." The six men decided it was time to leave, and went to their commanding officer to report their decision. After that, things moved quickly. They were immediately separated from the other troops, and forbidden from reentering the barracks or other communal areas unaccompanied. They were ushered back into the registration area to sign more forms and then into the storerooms to return their gear. Within a couple hours of their announcement, they were waiting for a taxi back to Novoyavorivsk, hoping to make it back to Lviv before the 10 p.m. curfew. Thanks to a last-minute cancellation on Booking.com, they ended up lucking out and finding an apartment in downtown Lviv that could house all six of them for the next week. It only had 2 double beds, but seemed warm and safe. At around midnight, the six soldiers arrived at the apartment, and promptly fell asleep on couches, floors, and beds. Close callThe next morning, at about 5:50 am — as the six men slept in their rented apartment in Lviv — 30 high-precision missiles hit the Yavoriv training center.Initial estimates said that 35 people had been killed and another 134 were wounded, making it one of the most devastating attacks on a military facility since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began. A Russian spokesman later said that the strike had targeted "foreign mercenaries" and a large shipment of weapons from the west. The six men, safe in Lviv, only learned of the bombing when they awoke hours later. They had slept through the sirens that had blared across the region to announce the danger. Groggy and still incredulous from the many false alarms they had endured in the last week, they pulled up shaky videos of the base on social media. They saw smoke rising from courtyards they recognized, strewn with debris, and heard victims crying for help in the background. They tried calling a few of the fellow trainees, who's numbers they'd collected. For hours, no one picked up. It seemed that the horrible reality of war had finally started to sink in, and they didn't yet seem to have the words to describe the mix of relief and guilt they were feeling at having narrowly escaped the carnage."If I was there, I could have at least tied a tourniquet," Erik said later. The men spent the rest of the day arguing about what to do next. The three youngest – Lukas, William, and Erik – talked about going to the front to join the unofficial squadrons they'd heard about. But at this point, Tobias and Kevin had been paying everyone's way, and they announced they were tired of it. The next day, Kevin told Lukas, William, and Erik they had to go. "Wake up. This isn't a game and we're not your parents," Kevin told them as his parting words, handing them bus money and a spare iPhone since Erik's had disappeared at the base.  From left to right, Kevin, William, and Eric at the apartment in Lviv.Katie Livingstone for InsiderEleven days after arriving in Ukraine with Tobias, Lukas left without saying goodbye. He was out of the war zone by later that afternoon. "I am dead," Lukas told me later over WhatsApp.Back in Montenegro, Lukas vowed to return to Ukraine soon, better prepared, to finish his mission. Maybe he hadn't understood how easily it would be to die in a war that had already claimed thousands of Ukrainian and Russian lives. William ultimately stayed in Ukraine for a few more weeks to volunteer with the Cross of Malta, and has since returned to his IT job in France. Erik is gone too. Back home, he told me he was having nightmares about the people he didn't help. Misha was the next to left Ukraine. Only Tobias and Kevin remained.They had come to "kill some Russians," as they often said, and still weren't ready to give up on that. They went to the train station to volunteer, but were turned away because, they were told, each group already had enough help. Tobias thought about trying to link up with the reservists in Kyiv, who had been mobilized since their first meeting. In truth, Tobias was too sick to do much of anything. On top of the fever, headaches and racing hearts, Kevin had also run out of his blood pressure medicine, and Tobias was out of the pills he took to manage his anxiety.On Wednesday, March 16, both men tested positive for COVID-19.Tobias' positive COVID-19 test.Tobias On Friday, Tobias sat outside their apartment under the glare of a full moon, whispering because it was after curfew and he didn't want the neighbors to call the police. "I don't want my kids to grow up without a father," he said emotionally, finally realizing he didn't want to die in this war."I am too sick to fight. I am useless, I must go home," Tobias said. He left Ukraine on March 21.A week later, while trying out tricks on a bike he had bought for his son, Tobias fell—breaking his shoulder. He sent me a picture, displaying his wounded body. "Unbelievable," Tobias texted. "Back from Ukraine and totally injured in Germany." Kevin made the same concession and returned to Ireland—though he, like Lukas, plans to return to Ukraine soon. Less than three weeks after valiantly trekking across Europe to join a fight more visceral and complicated than any of them had imagined, Tobias, Lukas, and the others had returned home without ever meeting a Russian soldier. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 29th, 2022

I used a luxury bus service in Texas and it was one of the most relaxing coach rides I"ve been on

The plush seats, complimentary food, stable WiFi, and friendly attendant made for a comfortable and relaxing journey from Dallas to Austin. Brittany Chang/Insider I took Vonlane, a luxury motorcoach company that operates between major Texas cities, from Dallas to Austin. The $109 bus ride was comfortable and filled with complimentary WiFi, foods, and beverages. The plush seats, steady WiFi, and great service made it feel like a business class flight. Why take a personal car when you can take a bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderUnless you're a public transit enthusiast, you might not hear that very often.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut when the bus run by Vonlane, I bet you'd be more inclined to agree.Brittany Chang/InsiderVonlane is a luxury intercity motorcoach service that operates between major Lone Star State cities for $109.Brittany Chang/InsiderThis ticket price can be double, maybe even quadruple, the price of your typical Megabus or Greyhound ticket …Two Megabus buses in New York in 2012.Hyungwon Kang/Reuters… but that's because Vonlane isn't your average discount bus service.Brittany Chang/Insider"I was never very happy with what I saw on the inside of a motorcoach," Alex Danza, founder and CEO of the company, told Insider. "It was almost worse than a commercial aircraft."Brittany Chang/InsiderOn Vonlane, there are no crowded rows, slow Wifi, or uncomfortable fabric seats that are often associated with budget motorcoach companies.A Greyhound bus in Texas in 2021.Jose Luis Gonzalez/ReutersInstead, picture plush leather seats, complimentary snacks, and a friendly attendant. A sort of "private jet on wheels," according to the company.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe Texas-based company isn't the only bus service targeting the luxury segment.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: Vonlane In fall 2021, the Jet launched a luxury motorcoach service with motion-canceling seats starting at $99.The Jet on a cold January morning.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: Insider But unlike Vonlane, which was founded much earlier in 2014, the Jet only operates between Washington, DC and New York City.The Jet on a cold January morning.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: Insider And the two companies service different markets and target customers.Brittany Chang/InsiderVonlane picks up and drops off its passengers at hotels in Texas cities like Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio …Brittany Chang/Insider…as well as a stop in Oklahoma City …Brittany Chang/Insider… providing Texans an alternative to Amtrak, budget bus services, and personal cars.Brittany Chang/Insider"We've got a really good position in Texas. We're very defendable" Danza said, citing Vonlane's "robust" schedule.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe company is now also exploring routes outside of Texas, including plans to begin services between Nashville and Atlanta this year.Brittany Chang/InsiderAfter the Nashville and Atlanta launch, it'll potentially begin a route between Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd while the Jet targets leisure travelers, Vonlane's biggest customer base before the COVID-19 pandemic was business travelers, a once steady repeat customer base, Danza said.Brittany Chang/InsiderBefore Vonlane, most Texans either drove themselves or flew between cities, an "exhausting endeavor" for busy business travelers, Danza said.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut unlike flying, Vonlane doesn't have any long security lines, boarding wait times, and slow WFi, saving travelers hours in their day.Brittany Chang/InsiderHowever, the once-reliable business traveler base became practically nonexistent overnight with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Vonlane was forced to cut back its schedules.Brittany Chang/InsiderIn an attempt to supplement this slow-to-recover segment, the company has begun targeting leisure travelers by offering more weekend routes.Brittany Chang/InsiderAt the start of the pandemic, Vonlane's customers were approximately 70% business and 30% leisure travelers. Now, that's been flipped.Brittany Chang/InsiderRegardless, Vonlane's services and amenities could appeal to any traveler.Brittany Chang/InsiderI decided to try the service from Dallas to Austin, Texas, and my ride's driver Marvin and coach attendant Liz were two of the friendliest and warmest people I met on my Texas trip.Brittany Chang/InsiderI was so comfortable, it felt like my nearly three-and-a-half hours on the road went by in a flash.Brittany Chang/InsiderThink of Vonlane as a business class plane ride on wheels, albeit much slower.Brittany Chang/InsiderThere's even a safety video at the start of the ride reminiscent of the ones played on airplanes.Brittany Chang/InsiderVonlane also has an onboard attendant that functions similarly to a flight attendant …Brittany Chang/Insider… a clean, well-sized bathroom …Brittany Chang/Insider… complimentary snacks, beverages, and, on select rides, meals …Brittany Chang/Insider… and stable WiFi that was strong enough for me to feed my TikTok addiction.Brittany Chang/InsiderThere were also plenty of outlets right by my seat.Brittany Chang/InsiderLiz was the point person for all things amenities and services related: She checked the passengers in, passed out snacks and beverages, and patiently fielded every question.Brittany Chang/InsiderShe was chipper and accommodating throughout the entire journey, and checked up on the passengers more than most flight attendants do.Brittany Chang/InsiderShe even asked to hang my coat in the closet for me, a luxury I've never experienced on a motorcoach.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe bus is separated by rows of single and double seats, which means there are no middle seats.Brittany Chang/InsiderI opted for a single-seat, leaving me neighbor-free and relaxed during my approximately three-and-a-half hours on the Texas road.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd thankfully, the passenger seats were more comfortable than any budget bus I've ever been on.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe leather seat was so large, it felt like I was being swallowed by the plush sides.Brittany Chang/InsiderWhen my seat was reclined and my footrest was up, it felt like I was sitting on an old but comfortable lounge chair.Brittany Chang/InsiderVonlane also offers its customers noise-canceling headsets, blankets, and pillows, creating a cocoon of plush padding and relaxation.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: Vonlane But if I had wanted to work during the ride, I could've used the tabletop stored in the seatback in front of me. All you have to do is pull it out and click it into your seat.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd while the rows weren't as spaced out as the Jet, I still had a comfortable distance from all the other passengers.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe seats were great, but in my opinion, Vonlane's strongest suit was its complimentary mid-ride offerings.Brittany Chang/InsiderWhile I didn't take everything that was offered, it was nice knowing I had the option to.Brittany Chang/InsiderAt the start of the trip, Liz offered the passengers a tray of items like eye masks, tissues, earplugs, toothbrushes, and Advil.Brittany Chang/InsiderShe then came around and offered us an assortment of snacks like Oreos, granola bars, and nuts …Brittany Chang/Insider… as well as a variety of beverages like sodas, juices, and water. I ended up ordering hot tea to soothe my travelers stress.Brittany Chang/InsiderPassengers were also given several options for lunch, including my pick of a satisfyingly sweet croissant sandwich that was big enough for two meals.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd towards the trip, Liz offered us a piping hot hand towel, the perfect send-off after hours on the road.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut the ride was so comfortable, I could've easily spent another hour or two on the road with no complaints, and I've been known to get carsick.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd unlike flying, I didn't have to spend hours in a security line and at the terminal. All I did was check in with Liz and find my pre-booked seat.Brittany Chang/InsiderMy Vonlane experience had all of the luxuries of flying business class, but none of the airport lines, downtime, or inconveniences.Brittany Chang/InsiderAll in all, my ride with the Texan service was one of the most relaxing coach rides I've ever been on.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut in my opinion, Vonlane's small touches — from the attendant to the seemingly endless options of food — made riding in the motorcoach a truly luxurious experience worthy of the $109 ticket.Brittany Chang/InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 28th, 2022

10 Things in Tech: Quest for flying cars

In today's edition: Talk of flying cars and an inside look at a luxurious EV concept that comes with storage for your slippers. Welcome back, readers. We have a futuristic edition in store for you today, with talk of flying cars and a look at a luxurious EV concept that comes with storage for your slippers. Ready? Let's dive in.If this was forwarded to you, sign up here. Download Insider's app – click here for iOS and here for Android.Edmon De Haro1. Nothing screams "the future" quite like a flying car — and Archer Aviation is promising to launch its fleet in 2024. The only problem? They haven't been able to make theirs fly. Adam Lashinsky dives into the company and their "fake it till you make it" Silicon Valley ethos:Last June, Archer Aviation gathered onlookers to "unveil" its futuristic new vehicle, dubbed "the Maker," which its founders presented as a flying taxi — never mind the fact that it couldn't actually fly. The barriers to getting a flying car off the ground are formidable: The Federal Aviation Administration can take up to seven years to certify new models of traditional aircraft — let alone a flying car being dreamed up by aviation upstarts backed by hedge funds. "What worries me about the Silicon Valley mindset as it applies to aviation is that you can't fake it till you make it, because the FAA won't let you," one analyst said. Read Lashinsky's full piece here.In other news:Kacper Pempel/Reuters2. Twitter is reportedly reevaluating Elon Musk's takeover bid. The Wall Street Journal reported the social-media company may be more receptive to Musk's offer since he lined up financing. Get the full rundown here. 3. Lucid insiders detail the EV startup's struggle to ramp up production. Like its competitors, Lucid is facing supply-chain shortages and a war for talent — but employees also described 100-hour weeks, buying parts off Amazon, and production snafus. Here's what else they said.4. Elon Musk turned down a philanthropic opportunity with Bill Gates. Leaked texts show Musk declined the opportunity after asking the Microsoft founder if he was shorting Tesla (but Musk tweeted this weekend that he's "moving on"). What we know about the texts. 5. Startups are encouraging employees to take out loans to buy their stock options. The loans can be tricky in a downturn — and one tech executive shared a horror story of how he ended up owing $1 million in the dot-com era. Read his experience here.6. Amazon just got approval to build its helix-shaped tower in Virginia. The Arlington County Board gave unanimous approval for Amazon to build the tower, which will serve as the centerpiece to its second headquarters. Get a look at the spiraling tower.7. It's not just you — search sucks these days. Searching for just about anything — a tweet, a Word doc, a simple email — is a special kind of hell, and as Insider correspondent Adam Rogers explains, it's only getting worse. Why search isn't getting any better.8. A director of sales at Meta shares her morning routine. Christine Trodella starts her day before the rest of her household wakes up, and since the start of the pandemic, has been consciously taking more breaks throughout the day. Here's how she organizes her days.Odds and ends:The Lincoln Star concept.Lincoln9. Lincoln just unveiled its new electric concept vehicle. With relaxing smells, a wine fridge, and a spot for your slippers, the super-futuristic Lincoln Star SUV is basically a lounge on wheels. Check out the Star here.10. Jack Dorsey has a new title: "Block Head." Dorsey, the former CEO of Twitter and the cofounder of digital payments company Block, is no longer the company's CEO. Instead, he's the "Block Head and Chairperson." Here's what that means.What we're watching today:After two years, Datacloud Global Congress is returning to Monaco.Project Voice 2022 starts today in Chattanooga, Tennessee.Workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York are holding a union vote.Meta is set to appeal the UK's block on its GIPHY acquisition. The Web Conference starts today.Sponsored event invite: Humans are hardwired to make decisions based on values. Join PayPal and best-selling author David Allison on Tuesday, May 3, at noon ET, to learn how values impact consumer expectations. Register here.Keep updated with the latest tech news throughout your day by checking out The Refresh from Insider, a dynamic audio news brief from the Insider newsroom. Listen here.Curated by Jordan Parker Erb in New York. (Feedback or tips? Email jerb@insider.com or tweet @jordanparkererb.) Edited by Michael Cogley in London.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 25th, 2022

The $53,000 Kia EV6 is a striking, sporty electric SUV whose biggest flaw is that people won"t leave you alone

The terrific Kia EV6 is an amazing electric option with 310 miles of range, bold styling, and very few downsides. The 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line.Tim Levin/Insider We drove the impressive 2022 Kia EV6, Kia's newest electric SUV.  It delivers 310 miles of range, attention-grabbing styling, and lots of standard tech features.  The Kia EV6 starts at around $41,000. The model Kia loaned us came out to $53,405.  If you're in the market for an electric car and a Tesla isn't quite your speed, there are plenty of alternatives out there by now.Volkswagen fans can buy an ID.4. Ford diehards might pick up a Mustang Mach-E. And new models are dropping onto the scene at a steady clip. Pretty soon, Subaru, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan will launch new electric SUVs of their own.One of the most exciting and promising of this new crop of zero-emission rides — one that you can buy right now — is the 2022 Kia EV6. The 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line.Tim Levin/InsiderThe SUV is loads of fun to drive, delivers over 300 miles of driving range, and comes packed with advanced tech features. That all comes wrapped up in a distinctive, striking package that people can't help but gawk at. There are a few sticking points here and there in the EV6, but its biggest downside — especially if you're in a hurry — is that people won't stop asking about it. A big first for KiaThe 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line.Tim Levin/InsiderNotably, the EV6 is Kia's first purpose-built electric model. It's a major leap forward for Kia and the larger Hyundai Motor Group's electric ambitions. If you can count the EV6 as a portend for what's to come, the future looks bright. The new E-GMP platform on which the EV6 is built brings extremely quick charging speeds and allows for clever interior packaging that makes vehicles feel larger than they actually are. The new Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Genesis GV60 from Kia's sister brands use the same underpinnings. The 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line.Tim Levin/InsiderThe EV6 comes in three trims, with options for all-wheel drive in two of them:Light RWD ($40,900 MSRP): The base model is the only EV6 to come with 167 horsepower and a smaller battery pack, yielding 232 miles of range, as estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Heated seats, dual 12.3-inch screens, Apple CarPlay, and a wide assortment of advanced safety features come standard.Wind RWD ($47,000): Adds ventilated front seats, 120-volt onboard power, an upgraded stereo system, and other features. Horsepower increases to 225 and range to 310 miles, thanks to a larger battery. Wind AWD ($50,900): Adds an extra motor driving the front wheels, bumping horsepower to 320 and diminishing range to 274 miles. GT-Line RWD ($51,200): Adds an augmented-reality display, accent lighting, a vegan-leather steering wheel, extra safety tech, automatic pop-out door handles, and other features. Power and range match the Wind RWD model.GT-Line AWD ($55,900): Same specs as Wind AWD. The GT-Line RWD model that Kia loaned me for a weekend came out to $53,405, including a $1,215 destination fee. The car was equipped with two options: a $695 matte-gray paint job and a $295 suede-seat package. What stands out: An EV for extrovertsThe 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line.Tim Levin/InsiderI wasn't quite sold on the EV6's looks from photos alone. But after seeing it in person and driving around for a while, it grew on me, mainly due to the reactions I got from passers-by. I've driven a handful of expensive, good-looking cars around New York City, but the EV6 got the most attention by far. It's simple to understand why. With its low ride height, unique integrated rear spoiler, and sharply raked roof, the EV6 sticks out in the sea of vaguely blob-shaped crossover SUVs. An exquisite matte-gray paint job doesn't hurt either.I still think the EV6 has some unflattering angles, but I see why people are so enamored with it. And there's something just plain fun about driving a car that makes people do a double-take, whip out their phone, or walk up and ask you questions.The 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line.Tim Levin/Insider"Now that's what I call a car!" one older man exclaimed when he saw me pulling out of a parking garage. Indeed it is, sir. Indeed it is. Driving and charging the EV6The EV6 doesn't just look the part. It's agile around corners, with precise steering that isn't overly assisted. Even though Kia calls the EV6 a crossover, it rides low to the ground, dropping its center of gravity and aiding handling. The 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line.Tim Levin/InsiderThe rear-wheel-drive model I tested doesn't surge forward with the organ-compressing force of some higher-performance EVs. But, just like all electric cars, it accelerates instantly and has enough spring in its step to get you away from a stoplight relatively quickly. You can choose from four drive modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, and Snow. Paddles behind the steering wheel adjust how much energy the car will capture and feed to the battery pack when you take your foot off of the accelerator. At Level 0, the EV6 coasts freely like a gas car. In the most intense regenerative-braking setting, the EV6 slows down hard as you lift your foot off of the throttle. The 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line.Tim Levin/InsiderI suspect 320-horsepower AWD models would offer a thrilling combination of agility and quickness. But I'd probably stick with a single-motor version for the gains in efficiency alone. After all, 310 miles of driving range knocks at the door of the Tesla Model Y and is among the best you'll get in this price range.Even lower-range EV6 models make up for their shortcomings through an ability to charge incredibly quickly. Across all trims, the EV6 has an 800-volt architecture that lets it add 10-80% battery in just 18 minutes when plugged into a 350-kilowatt charging station, according to Kia. That's a road-tripping game changer. The 2022 Kia EV6.Tim Levin/InsiderInterestingly enough, the EV6 can also send electricity in the opposite direction. All models aside from the base trim come with an adapter that plugs into the charge port and offers up a standard household outlet. An attractive, technology-packed interiorThe 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line.Tim Levin/InsiderSlipping inside the EV6, I expected an interior somewhat like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 I tested before it — something sleek, minimal, bright, and airy. But the EV6's cabin is a whole different animal. It's sporty, bold, and full of contrasting colors and metallic accents. Not bad, just different.The EV6's comfy suede and vegan-leather seats hug you tight and keep you from sliding around. Headroom was surprisingly good for a car with such a low roofline, and legroom in back is solid as well. Since there's no hump running down the middle of the car like you'd find in a gas vehicle, the middle-seat passenger isn't robbed of room for their feet and there's extra room between the front seats for storage. A large open space below the center console can accommodate a small backpack or purse. The 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line.Tim Levin/InsiderDon't mistake the absence of a TV-sized touchscreen for a lack of technology. Base models get a WiFi hotspot, wireless device charging, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, five USB ports scattered around the cabin, and dual 12.3-inch screens. The touchscreen is super responsive and intuitively laid out. The EV6 also comes with advanced safety features like blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, and a highway-driving feature that automatically accelerates, brakes, and steers in response to surrounding traffic. The 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line.Tim Levin/InsiderMy tester came with brilliant extras, including an augmented-reality display and blind-spot camera views that show up in the gauge cluster whenever you click the turn signal. Highway Driving Assist II, which comes on upper-trim models, confidently centered the EV6 in its lane, kept an eye on traffic both in front of the car and in adjacent lanes, and even changed lanes for me. What falls short: Cargo space and visibility, mainlyAll of those safety features are more than welcome, as visibility out the back of the EV6 is pretty subpar on account of its slanted roof, thick pillars, and slim windows. The EV6's slick shape also comes at the expense of cargo space, which is worse than the ID.4, Mustang Mach-E, Ioniq 5, and Model Y. The 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line.Tim Levin/InsiderAnother small gripe: Controls for the climate settings and media player are located on the same touch-sensitive panel, but you can only use one set of buttons at a time. Tap a toggle, and the buttons' and knobs' functions change from temperature, fan speed, etc, to volume, seek, and so on. It's all pretty cool in theory, but cumbersome in practice. Although the whole interior feels high-quality, the front seat backs are made from hard, black plastic, which seems out of place on a car that costs upwards of $50,000. The 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line.Tim Levin/InsiderYou can't go wrong with an EV6Small gripes aside, the 2022 Kia EV6 is a terrific choice for almost anyone looking for a gasoline-free SUV in the $40,000-$50,000 range. Its iffy cargo space and lack of physical buttons are easily outweighed by its exceptional range, attention-grabbing looks, and exciting driving dynamics. Just remember to build an extra few minutes into your commute. Because people will have questions. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 23rd, 2022

I left a terrible work situation and couldn"t get a good recommendation from my boss. Being honest about it helped me land a new job with a $10,000 increase in salary and benefits.

A 30-year-old teacher found her school environment and boss toxic. When interviewing for a new role elsewhere, she was upfront about the situation. "I loved the village I'd just moved to, my work, and my students, but the situation felt unmanageable."Peter Muller/Getty Images A 30-year-old teacher who asked to remain anonymous used to work in a toxic school environment. An administrator pitted staff against each other and demanded they work overtime, the teacher said. The teacher left that situation and landed a higher-paying role elsewhere. This story was written by a 30-year-old elementary-school teacher in the US. Their former and current employment has been verified by Insider, and their story was corroborated by a colleague at their former employer who started their job around the same time. Their byline is anonymous to prevent professional repercussions.COVID-19 set off a series of significant changes in my life. On March 2, 2020, I was 12 hours away from hopping on a plane to start a teaching job overseas when I found out my flight had been canceled and I wouldn't be able to pick up the role. March is a bit late in the year to find teaching positions, but I immediately started looking on Indeed for teaching roles in the US.The unexpected change in plans — and excitement about finding something else that was unique — led me to jump on the first opportunity I saw without doing my due diligence to ensure that it was a good fit. This spur-of-the-moment decision brought me to a workplace that was toxic and demeaning, and one I promptly regretted entering.The workplace was the worst I've ever experienced It was an environment that pitted people against each other instead of fostering collaboration.Our administrator spoke negatively about a colleague the first day I arrived and expressed an expectation that I not align myself with this person. Gone was the friendly boss who'd told me about how well the teachers worked together when persuading me to take the position, and here was a woman telling me that I should lie to our colleagues about things she'd told us. I quickly started to experience a feeling of dread where excitement had been only eight hours earlier.I loved the village I'd just moved to, my work, and my students, but the situation felt unmanageable. Our boss expected us to work extra hours every day — including weekends — and would call us about work situations at all hours, day and night. When my coworkers and I tried to get out of working on the weekend or after hours, she would retaliate and speak negatively about us to other colleagues. I was unappreciated, exhausted, and concerned about going to work each day. Eventually, I started to question whether this was the type of life I wanted to live.I faced the problem of applying to new positions without a positive recommendation from my former boss — a necessity in education — and I knew that would make things challenging I'd received high scores on my teaching evaluations — which were scored by the administrator and covered everything from what our classrooms looked like to what our relationships with the families were like — and I had experience with a myriad side hustles that qualified me for other positions (such as fundraising), but even that seemed like it wasn't enough. Even though the scores on my evaluations were high, my administrator's dislike of me was enough to outweigh that — strong enough that she was able to mark me as "ineligible for rehire" in the district. This was a possibility for nontenured teachers in several districts I've worked for. (Editor's note: The writer's colleague told Insider that the writer showed her documentation that the administrator had marked them as "ineligible for rehire" in the district. Insider was unable to view the document.)I felt such a strong urge to get out of that situation that I eventually started applying to every job I could think of. In the end, I applied to more than 15 positions that ranged from classroom teaching to curriculum development.Before giving up entirely, I did some networking to see if I could find any school districts that would be a better fit I quickly found one that was suggested by three people whom I'd met through continuing-education courses and professional organizations. They were looking to fill a combined teaching and school-leadership position that would allow me to both teach and be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the school. Beyond that, it provided me with a $10,000 increase between salary and benefits for the school year. The position was listed separately from other districts in my region, and the hiring process was one of the most extensive I experienced as a teacher. I first met with the hiring director and then individually with the superintendent, administrator, and teachers whom I'd be working with. Each interview included a different set of questions, and each person focused on the aspects of the job that were important to them. I'd debated with myself how to approach the topic of my former boss — as calling your previous employer is common in education — and I decided to be honest: I immediately let the hiring director know that my previous administrator and I hadn't seen eye to eye. I gave concrete examples of topics we'd disagreed on and stressed how this made me a better teacher and employee. The hiring manager seemed to appreciate my directness and honesty about the situation, and I think this is part of what landed me the position in the end.The pieces fell into place, and it immediately seemed like this was the right decision One thing the hiring manager did that the hiring manager at my previous employer didn't was that she had me meet individually with the people I'd be working with to ensure we would work well together.I also reminded myself that I was interviewing them as much as they were interviewing me, and I spent more time asking about aspects of the job that I hadn't considered the last time, such as whether the other employees felt like they had enough work-life balance. This time, I read through the entire contract — something I didn't think to do last time — and I asked questions about the parts that had become more important to me, such as what the payment would be for any extra duties that I took on. This allowed me to create a complete picture of what the position would look like and make an informed decision.One of my favorite aspects of my new position is that I'm able to motivate the other teachers and staff members I work with. I work with students who are enthusiastic about learning and grateful for the opportunities I've brought them. I have bosses whom I feel comfortable talking to and a community of friends spread out across the district. I feel fulfilled in the work I'm doing, and I know that, finally, I'm in the right place.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 4th, 2022

US defense official says Russian forces have "made no progress" toward seizing Kyiv

The US government official told reporters that the Russian invasion has largely stalled in multiple parts of Ukraine. Ukrainian soldiers walk near the front line in Brovary, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 28, 2022.AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd Russian forces have made "no progress" toward seizing the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, a US defense official told reporters. The official explained that the Russian invasion has largely stalled in multiple parts of Ukraine, CNN reported. Russian President Vladimir Putin launched Russia's war against Ukraine on February 24.  Russian forces have made "no progress" toward seizing the Ukrainian captial of Kyiv as Russia's more-than-month-long war with the eastern European country trudges on, a senior US defense official told reporters on Monday. "They've made no progress in moving towards Kyiv, they've made no progress elsewhere in the north, whether its Chernihiv or Kharkiv," the anonymous official told reporters, according to CNN. The official explained that the Russian invasion has largely stalled in multiple parts of Ukraine.There have been "no changes" to the situation in the cities of Mariupol, Chernihiv, Mykolaiv, or Kharkiv, the official said, CNN reported. In the besieged city of Mariupol, Russian troops continue to use "long-range fires," however, "they have not been able to take Mariupol," the official said, according to the news outlet. Additionally, Russian forces "aren't making any advances on Mykolaiv over the course of the weekend," the defense official noted, "so they are outside the city."Russian President Vladimir Putin launched Russia's war against Ukraine on February 24. In the weeks since the invasion, Russian troops have surrounded and shelled several towns across the country, hitting multiple civilian buildings, including residential towers, hospitals, and a theater.The US defense official told reporters on Monday that Russian forces have launched more than 1,370 missiles in Ukraine since the war started. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 28th, 2022

Transcript: Darren Palmer

    The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Darren Palmer, Chief of Battery EVs at Ford, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST,… Read More The post Transcript: Darren Palmer appeared first on The Big Picture.     The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Darren Palmer, Chief of Battery EVs at Ford, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I say it every week but it’s true, I have an extra special guest. His name is Darren Palmer, he is the head of electric vehicle development at Ford where he helped to introduce such vehicles as the Mustang Mach E, the F1 50 Lightning, the E Transit Van, they are working on everything from an electric Explorer, if you would like to get your hands on an electrified Bronco, well you better listen to this because this is absolutely a fascinating conversation not just about cars but about technology and software and consumer relations and design. And really I don’t think this scenario we didn’t touch on. I found it utterly, utterly intriguing and I think you will also. So with no further ado, this is Ford’s director of electric vehicle development, Darren Palmer. ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is Darren Palmer, he is the general manager battery electric vehicles at Ford, he is overseeing Ford’s $30 billion shift to electrification. He helped launch the Mustang Mach E, the E Transit and the F150 Lightning. he holds an MBA from Henley Management College in the UK as well as an electrical electronics and technology degree from Birmingham University. Darren Palmer, welcome to Bloomberg. DARREN PALMER; VICE PRESIDENT, ELECTRIC VEHICLE PROGRAMS; FORD MOTOR COMPANY: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here. RITHOLTZ: So let’s start with your background, you get an engineering degree in the 1990s, was the plan always to go into automobile manufacturing or were you focused on a different sector? PALMER: Well, it sounds so long ago now when you say the 90s. Yes, so my plan was always to go into engineering, I think a lot of people in engineering know that they are destined for that. I really like mechatronics at the time. So the fusion of electronics and electrical with creating movement as well. So I knew I wanted to go into something of complex engineering and I think somebody once said to me you know, planes take too long, trains don’t have as much interest but cars are constantly changing over and they’re a huge purchase in people’s lives. So that’s what made me look towards cars and I look to a number of car companies but I think I always know I wanted to go into auto, and I got a few offers, but Ford, the company had a great reputation and furthermore, makes cars for everybody and I was interested in making cars for everybody not just a privileged few. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. And you have a reputation as a petrol head, you’re a Mustang guy, what led you to gravitate toward EVs over these years? PALMER: Well, I’ve been very lucky in this career, 29 years in Ford, and every time the last challenge finished they offered me another challenge, so I ended up working all over the world on every type of cars, vans, commercials, every class, B, C, CD class cars, so increasingly larger and in luxury, and every — all around the world, India, China, South America, U.S., and Australia, so at one point, I had plants on four continents — five continents, and development center on four continents, so all of those different parts of experience led me to I was starting to work on hybrids. And the company said we want to do something different, we need to have a completely new approach to electric cars because we were trying them are getting know where they decided to do something called Team Edison, and they asked, with my background in international and really open-mindedness was the key there, we formed a team called Team Edison to determine the future of electric cars for Ford. So that was about four years ago and that was four and a half and that was my move into electric cars. RITHOLTZ: Tell us about Team Edison, obviously a little bit of a reference to a famous American entrepreneur, what is Team Edison at Ford? PALMER: So what was happening was we were trying to develop electric cars, but they would be measured by the same measures as gas cars, so they wouldn’t meet the hurdles, the investment hurdles, the profit hurdles, the volume projections, so we were getting nowhere and we in fact, we were going to make Ford Focus BEV version 2, and we knew it was becoming increasingly aware that that really isn’t what the market wanted. So we had to change something and we knew it was a cultural change, so we decided, we either buy an electric car company but then you have to transfer tens of thousands of people in one day or we try something different, we tried — we create a startup within Ford Motor Company and that’s what we decided to do. So a gent called Ted Cannis, really one of our top business leaders was put in as the head of that group and he set about recruiting people internal and external to head up Team Edison. I was the first one in and when he told me the proposal he convinced me to come in and that’s where the journey started, and we had some external people but not huge amount because it’s all about, first, you got to work out what to do and then you got to make it happen, you know, 100-year-old company and I can tell you … RITHOLTZ: (LAUGHTER). PALMER: Making it happen was harder than determining what to do. So we formed and we moved ourselves outside of the main buildings and we formed a different culture, really building up from the ground, we had about 70 to 80 people handpicked each one and we were inspired by startups in California. So we spent time there early on to determine how they work, which is very different and we setup a culture extremely similar to that. We also went to China, to Norway where electric cars were prevalent to see what others are doing and then we set about determining where to go, at the time it was an $11 billion investment in electric cars. RITHOLTZ: Wow. PALMER: It is now today announced a few days ago to 50 billion now by 2022. RITHOLTZ: Wow, I have 30 billion down my notes but 50 is a lot of money. The Team Edison, the first project was that the Mustang was it later was Team Edison after the Mustang Mach E? PALMER: The first thing to do was to determine where to play and how to win, and that meant we had to first understand, I mean for the whole portfolio, was at the time was $11 billion, so three or four cars coming through. And the battery infrastructure and the charge infrastructure, and all those things you had to do, so it was actually to work out where to play and how to win and we quickly worked out, we went to California and I was talking to customers in California and quizzing them about their cars, and we determined quite quickly that they had transitioned to BEV and they would never come back, they were also delighted with their products. And it felt like they moved from a flip phone to a smart phone like an iPhone or similar. And at any price, they would never move back which is very similar to the phone analogy and I asked one of them I offered them “Hey you know we need your car for testing so I will give you a free BMW M3 and two thirds of your money back” and he said, “I’m not interested.” RITHOLTZ: Really? PALMER: Well, I’m authorized to offer you 100 percent of your money back and free BMW M3. He said “Not interested” and I said how can that be? And he said “Well, because I discovered the future, I can afford it and I deserve it.” And we realized at that point, these people, they are never going to buy the traditional vehicles that we had, they are buying a technology product and we brought that realization back and said we need to completely change our plan. And that led us to leading with our icons so we made a plan which vehicles to attack in which order and we made the strategic choice, every BEV vehicle from Ford will do things that gas never did enabled by the technology, so none of them will be a car just with an electric motor in it, that’s not what customers want. And so that’s what we did and the first thing we did in Team Edison which was $11 billion and made the first three cars, the Mustang Mach E, which you may have seen one recommended — the only electric car recommended in America, and now, last week and then E-Transit is now just launching, we are nearly sold out already … RITHOLTZ: Wow. PALMER: And it is likely to be a leader in its field, it’s already nearly 50% global in its field now with the gas vehicle, and then the F150 Lightning which is of course the big one for us, where we got over 220,000 orders now, we had to switch the system off. ANNOUNCER: You’re working hard to build and protect wealth, and today’s markets are challenging. Diversification is always important and in times of increasing volatility, alternative investments can provide both balance and potential upside. Did you know professional venture capital investing traditionally only opened to the ultra-wealthy is now accessible to millions of accredited investors like you. Get to know Alumni Ventures. Since 2015, Alumni Ventures has made investing in highly competitive venture backed private companies simple and accessible. We built a unique venture firm to serve individuals not institutions. This is not Angel investing or equity crowdfunding. With Alumni Ventures, you are investing in true VC backed startups alongside the who’s who of VC firms. Alumni Ventures is ranked by Pitchbook as one of the most active venture firms in the U.S. and we are ready to build your venture capital portfolio today with a simple investment process and accessible fund minimums, it’s easier than ever to get started in venture. Check out Alumni Ventures at VentureInvesting.info, that’s VentureInvesting.info. RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk about those three big cars that you oversaw the launch on starting with the Mustang Mach E which won a number of awards, I had a loaner of those cars last year and thought was really interesting and very well-made EV. Tell us about the challenges you ran into when you were first thinking about putting that car out, it really was a substantial break from what Ford had done in the past. PALMER: Yes, so we had originally planned Focus BEV Part 2, but we quickly realized due to human centric work we were doing and human centric work puts you out with customers very early, and you just talk with them about how they feel about things that you know, you are not asking them exactly what they want, you are just talking to them about their lives and what they see, we discovered pretty quickly what they were looking for in this next generation was a technology product first. And you know, there’s one company out there which is really doing that which is Tesla and they’ve been a leader in that space and we noticed how customers of those vehicles were — they really liked the experience they got and we said we – in that vehicle we’re going to make, it needs to be a technology-first vehicle, but we want to bring what is our spin on that, what is Ford, what does Ford bring to the table? Tesla has their attributes so Ford needs to have their own and we said to ourselves what brands do we have that could be worthy of what we’re going to make an it could be synergistic. So the one that came to mind pretty quickly was Mustang and the first time we said that, it sounded crazy as some people were very shocked by that, so we asked ourselves what if it was a Mustang? And then we started with the exterior design actually and we went downstairs to the design team who are working on a Focus BEV part two and I could tell you they weren’t the most fired up. And then we said what if and again they started to come to the table and we said what if we mixed, there is going to be an SUV because that segment growth, the greatest segment growth and where customers are going especially millennial, so we wanted to be there, we knew that. So therefore, we are talking about an SUV Mustang what might it look like, and in that first day, they started sketching we put together some of the Mustang cues with that SUV and then we started to like what we saw and then the designers got lost in it and then said okay, leave us, we left them and then we said we are going to make a clay of that vehicle. And so we went away for the weekend we came back early 6, 5 or 6 am on a Monday morning and said don’t look at it, we walked away and they were put in dyno conduit, which is the kind of silver foiled simulator vehicle and when we all turned around and we saw that first execution, we said “oh my word, that can work. That could work.” That was from the first weekend. RITHOLTZ: That’s amazing. PALMER: And we said my word, that could work. And by the way the designers had gone from not the most excited to off the wall excited, didn’t have time talk to us, just busy creating, they immediately took the dyno cost again and started carrying on with the clay and they were off. So we went to the next department, and we went to interior and we said, well, what have we got? They showed us and we said, you know, it doesn’t really look, that’s not a Mustang, that’s not worthy of that and we said, how would you change it if it was a Mustang, the same thing happened, they start to get excited. RITHOLTZ: (LAUGHTER) PALMER: By the way, both of them, the exterior designers and the interior were both the people who did Mustang, so you didn’t need to explain to them what a Mustang was, it was the same people and they start to bring a lot of those cues in. So they kicked off, there was the same excitement, we went to the next department and we said we need technology and that was a problem, we went and said well, what have we got that would be a high-tech tech forward solution that is over the air updatable and will work for years to come and upgraded and I’m afraid we didn’t have anything. Our system at the time was just not going to do the job. So that was the biggest challenge for us and we went downstairs to the development team and we said in Team Edison, we work without grade structure, all together on the problems and anybody can speak out without fear of anything, reprisal or anything. So we encourage people to speak up so we pooled together and we went downstairs to the main team and worked — asked the programmers who were working on graveyard (ph) to come into the room and shut the door we explained how we work and you want to speak up and I said to them hey guys we needed next gen operating system that is world class and this car is launching in two and a half years, how might we do that? And they go silent for a while, people take time before they are comfortable and one of them said not working the way we work. And I said interesting, how would you do that then? RITHOLTZ: (LAUGHTER) PALMER: He said you’d have to work like a software company. And we said, like what? Well, they work in one room with the designers, the human machine interface and the programmers in one team together with the equipment they need, the facilities they need and the funding they need without frankly management interference. And I said what if we do that? And they said we’re never going to do that here. I said well, what if we said we’d give you everything you want? Could you do that? They said, well, if you could do it, then yes, we would. And I said, well, would you start Monday if we could do that? RITHOLTZ: (LAUGHTER) PALMER: They said yes. And then I said, and I’d never forget this, it made me laugh, I said, hold on a minute, hold on a minute, how do I know that you actually know how to do that? And he said, John, and so he looks over to me with judgment, he puts down his Dell laptop and he pulls out an Alienware from his side bag and as he is opening it, (inaudible) he’s just come back from a gaming convention in South Korea, and I’m like, oh okay, he then shows me some of the things they worked on and they have and it looked like something out Marvel and okay, I got it, you guys know so we then went upstairs and went to our leadership team and we said we really, we’re into big trouble, we need this system in two and a half years and the team couldn’t come to it the way they work. And they said, well, have you got a proposal? We said yes. And we have to work a different way and we need maybe $7 million of immediate funding to just fund everything they need. So he said okay, just do it, do it now. Okay. So went upstairs to the VP of engineering and we said the same thing, he said start now. Get on with it. So we went back down to the team that evening and said we’re ready to go. Please start. And Monday morning, they started and what I’ve learned from many of the startups, the way to work nimble is that leaders serve the employees … RITHOLTZ: Yes. PALMER: Who are creating for the customer. My job is to clear the path in front of them so I went every morning, what do you need today? We need better computers. Do you know where to get the? Yes. Go and buy them now. What else do you need? We need some screens to emulate the screens we are building for. Good. Go and buy them. Do you know how to get them? Yes. Then buy them in Best Buy. Go and buy them now. And they were delighted to have that ability. And then the next day, I ask what do you need? Hey, we need a server computer to serve some of the interfaces, okay, you can give it to them. And then on the third day, I said, what do you need. They say, oh, free flowing [ph] coffee kind of joking, okay, you get free flowing [ph] coffee. What else do you need? The answer is what do you need? You get it. And they’ve never worked like that in Ford and then the fourth day, what do you need? Nothing, Just leave us alone. Okay. RITHOLTZ: (LAUGHTER) PALMER: Fifth day, what do you need? Something else and so on. We just kept doing that. And then we created no presentations when they want to demonstrate something, they just showed it to us and the progress was I’ve never seen anything like it in my career, within two weeks they had running prototypes that were touchable interfaces that they had created. One of them created the main interface you know while he was working off-site at home and he decided to create it in HTML 5 the Internet my main language for websites because that was convenient to create and he had a complete working interface in two weeks. And because it was HTML5, we could reconfigure like a webpage does which most cars do not do. And then within three weeks, they were testing it with customers in Chicago and streaming it live while the whole team watched the customers. RITHOLTZ: Wow. PALMER: And at one point, the customer got caught up on some of the interface and the guy said hey, can we fix that? And he corrected the code live, redeployed and because it was live said from a server, it updated the interface in the hands of the customer who then was knocked cold on it and we could carry on with the work. I’ve never seen anything like it, they did three rounds of that testing live watching customers in Europe, in China and in US and in 12 weeks created an all new interface which is getting extremely good reports now from Consumer Reports and JD Power, one of the best car interfaces in the world. So it was incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it in my career and I learned a lot through that process. RITHOLTZ: And last year, despite the pandemic and despite the supply issues, I think you guys sold something like 27,000 Mustangs, is that right in the U.S.? PALMER: Yes, a bit more and were nearly 50,000 globally from the same plant and we completely sold out and we were trying to meet that demand, what we’ve — were actually we’ve agreed and we have funded and we are going to increase production to over 200,000. RITHOLTZ: Wow that’s a huge number. PALMER: I mean that is coming in… RITHOLTZ: So the Mach E is very much a crossover, are there any plans to electrify the traditional Mustang pony car? The two door sports car? PALMER: So I get asked that one a lot. So the next cars along after we’ve done the lightning is the three row car, so the size of an Explorer, that type because that’s the one along, we’ve already announced that one. And then we have a lot of calls for other cars as you can imagine, this huge calls for an electric Bronco. RITHOLTZ: Got to be. PALMER: And others which we haven’t announced yet, we got our $50 billion roadmap of many cars including Lincoln and the Mustang Sports Coupe, that needs not a very low battery to make that to what we wanted to be and we have quite high aspirations for what we would want that to be. And so we are only going to do that when the technology will allow. We know customers really want, they want over 300 miles, that makes them comfortable and happy and that’s always been a product that has punched above its weight and gives performance of normally much more expensive cars, and with the whole imagery of Mustang. And so we are not doing it yet, we have nothing to declare on the timing of that yet, we are going to do it but we will only do it when the technology allows us to make it incredible. RITHOLTZ: You know, the Mach E has by all measures been a wild success. If there’s any fly in the ointment and this kind of surprised me, it was all the pushback on the Mach E over the Mustang name, well you’re a Mustang guy, what was your reaction to the sort of you know old-school enthusiasts who were offended by a crossover with using the name Mustang? PALMER: Well I understand, I very much understand it, I’m extremely active on listening on social media, something we learned along the way, startups do it all the time. And from the first weekend we launched, we were watching social media live and somebody here for example had a problem on the first Saturday and we asked permission to speak to them and we contact them which they loved and we fixed it. So I’m extremely aware of negative feedback from current owners. So what I set off about doing a year ago was talking to lots of them and we actually brought in the presidents of both Mustang clubs and amazing guys and we brought them actually to the launch in California and they – we brought them along and they came to see me and said Darren, you know, I understand what you are doing but can’t really endorse it and you know, I just want to let you know, I do appreciate what you are doing here. So that was at the beginning, at the end of the two days, one of them bought two, and one of them bought one. RITHOLTZ: (LAUGHTER). That’s so interesting. PALMER: And they said wow, and they said, so listen, so this vehicle supports the other Mustang, we couldn’t be selling the V8 Mustang very much longer … RITHOLTZ: Sure. Right. PALMER: Without the support of these EV so it protects the current Mustang. By the way we still sell the car Mustang so it’s a companion, it is growing the brand in a new space and I can’t tell you the joy of the customers, you know, literally 91% of them recommend it to friends and families and everyone will listen to them. So that’s the highest satisfaction car I’m ever aware of that we’ve had. RITHOLTZ: Well I will tell you. PALMER: And we’ve got some nice cars people love. RITHOLTZ: I will tell you personally having sat in you know everything that’s out there and having had the Mach E the sort of middle not the GT, the middle of the of the road version for a week, I came away very impressed with the build quality the fit and finish, it just felt like a substantial vehicle that was well-made and was, I don’t want to say luxurious but it kind of reminded me of a Volvo where everything is very well put together, very well thought out, there is a degree of minimalism in it that was very effective and it very much had its own personality. I came away really impressed with that and want to try a GT out and see what the higher horsepower is like. But, you know, the Mustang everybody knows a lot about, the sexy new hotness is the 150 Lightning. The Ford F150 has been the best-selling vehicle in America for, I don’t know, 40 years running, some crazy number, you must have very, very high hopes and expectations for the Lightning. Tell us a little bit about the development of that vehicle. PALMER: Yes, the Mach E was like a practice compared to the Lightning. So I’m — we are very aware of Lightning, F150 status as America’s number one vehicle for over four decades and the love for that product is indescribable. I know that because I have seen the customers talking. So when we started that project, we knew what was ahead of us and everyone was warning us you better make sure that vehicle is worthy. So what people expected is Built Ford Tough and of course, it’s been punished, every piece is the same as the gas, it will pass all of the things the gas does, of course it does and then we put it down Silver Creek which is hideous to be honest, we have robots drive them now because it is too brutal for humans in an accelerated test, that’s how brutal they are now, and all the F150s do, but so does the Lightning, we made a battery case system that is impervious and can go underwater in gear, we know it has to be tough and reliable and that’s a given. But what people didn’t expect is that mantra that we put forward, every electric card from Ford has to do things that gas could never do because that’s what attracts people in. We are aware, you know, we believe this could be the vehicle that attracts mainstream America into BEVs. Because I can tell you 30 seconds in the driver seat will convert the most hardened V8 enthusiast into a wow because it feels like a magic carpet when you drive off because it’s an isolated subtrain, no vibrations at all, near silence you’re waiting for the noise to come, and then you look at the speedometer and you’re at 60 miles an hour and there is no noise, it’s quieter than a Navigator compared to, its amazing and because there is one gear and the accelerator pedal reacts in a fraction of a second, it is unbelievable even the most hardened electric enthusiast and I had some really amazing journalists in there, they are ready to be amazed and they come away and say, oh my god, I was ready and I’m still amazed. Because it thumps you in the back like it had 775 foot-pound of torque in a fraction of a second with one gear, you can’t really describe that and you think and you are ready for it, you say yeah, I’m ready, but it surprises you and you just want more. And so, the great thing about it is that you can show customers in a few seconds, and you’ve converted them, that’s all it takes, you don’t need to describe any more, and that’s going to do a lot for electric vehicles. And so, because we have a huge dealer network, I’m able to put one, I’ve decided to put one in every dealer in America that’s an EV data which is pretty much all of them so that people can go down there and try it. And the dealers are going to call their customers and those who say hey, electric is not for me, they could say good, good come along, here’s the keys. RITHOLTZ: (LAUGHTER). PALMER: And see what you say after you’ve driven it and tried it out on the most hardened people I can find and they all — opens their eyes hugely. I did the same with Mustang by the way, I found the most v8, petrol in the veins, gas in the veins enthusiasts I could find and I gave them a Mach E and said try that, and they went away and I am not interested, I’m not interested in these things, you know, I’m always going to love gas, all my life I do racing, I hear you, I hear you. I give them a Mach E GT performance edition and they come back three hours later with their mouth open and oh my god, one guy came back and said to me, oh my god, the new definition of performances is silence. (LAUGHTER) RITHOLTZ: (LAUGHTER). PALMER: I might have to write that down. And then he texted me later, he got on to his, you know, older coupe, and he said, I feel like I stepped back 10 years. So that was the most hardened guy I could find. And I said to him, hey, you know you think you’re a petrol head, and actually you are not, you’re a performance enthusiast and it just so happens that the new performance benchmarking is now electric. RITHOLTZ: Yet…. PALMER: And he said oh my god, that’s it. And so that’s how we knew it would work and because real people who are passionate about that loved it when they experienced it and so that was a — there is a barrier on the Mach E Mustang because that preconception, but on the F150, there is no barrier, people are like, well, maybe I will try it, they tried ECOBOOST once and we changed their mind about ECOBOOST. And so they throw that to me and say, well, I’m willing to give it a go now and I put them in there and 30 seconds, they are like, I got to have it. So I’m really excited about that. RITHOLTZ: And for people who want to see that torture test, just go to YouTube and search for Silver eak of response we change their mind about become bruised and so they closed at 2 million so I’m willing to give it a go now and I put them in their 30 seconds and so I’m really excited about the people who want to see that torture test just go to YouTube and search for Silver Creek Ford torture test and you’ll see what they do to these poor trucks, it’s quite astonishing to see the videos. All right, so we have the Must.....»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureMar 23rd, 2022

I tried Vonlane, a luxury bus service operating between major Texas cities for $109 one way, and it was one of the most relaxing coach rides I"ve been on

The plush seats, complimentary food, stable WiFi, and friendly attendant made for a comfortable and relaxing journey from Dallas to Austin. Brittany Chang/Insider I took Vonlane, a luxury motorcoach company that operates between major Texas cities, from Dallas to Austin. The $109 bus ride was comfortable and filled with complimentary WiFi, foods, and beverages. The plush seats, steady WiFi, and great service made it feel like a business class flight. Why take a personal car when you can take a bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderUnless you're a public transit enthusiast, you might not hear that very often.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut when the bus run by Vonlane, I bet you'd be more inclined to agree.Brittany Chang/InsiderVonlane is a luxury intercity motorcoach service that operates between major Lone Star State cities for $109.Brittany Chang/InsiderThis ticket price can be double, maybe even quadruple, the price of your typical Megabus or Greyhound ticket …Two Megabus buses in New York in 2012.Hyungwon Kang/Reuters… but that's because Vonlane isn't your average discount bus service.Brittany Chang/Insider"I was never very happy with what I saw on the inside of a motorcoach," Alex Danza, founder and CEO of the company, told Insider. "It was almost worse than a commercial aircraft."Brittany Chang/InsiderOn Vonlane, there are no crowded rows, slow Wifi, or uncomfortable fabric seats that are often associated with budget motorcoach companies.A Greyhound bus in Texas in 2021.Jose Luis Gonzalez/ReutersInstead, picture plush leather seats, complimentary snacks, and a friendly attendant. A sort of "private jet on wheels," according to the company.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe Texas-based company isn't the only bus service targeting the luxury segment.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: Vonlane In fall 2021, the Jet launched a luxury motorcoach service with motion-canceling seats starting at $99.The Jet on a cold January morning.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: Insider But unlike Vonlane, which was founded much earlier in 2014, the Jet only operates between Washington, DC and New York City.The Jet on a cold January morning.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: Insider And the two companies service different markets and target customers.Brittany Chang/InsiderVonlane picks up and drops off its passengers at hotels in Texas cities like Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio …Brittany Chang/Insider…as well as a stop in Oklahoma City …Brittany Chang/Insider… providing Texans an alternative to Amtrak, budget bus services, and personal cars.Brittany Chang/Insider"We've got a really good position in Texas. We're very defendable" Danza said, citing Vonlane's "robust" schedule.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe company is now also exploring routes outside of Texas, including plans to begin services between Nashville and Atlanta this year.Brittany Chang/InsiderAfter the Nashville and Atlanta launch, it'll potentially begin a route between Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd while the Jet targets leisure travelers, Vonlane's biggest customer base before the COVID-19 pandemic was business travelers, a once steady repeat customer base, Danza said.Brittany Chang/InsiderBefore Vonlane, most Texans either drove themselves or flew between cities, an "exhausting endeavor" for busy business travelers, Danza said.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut unlike flying, Vonlane doesn't have any long security lines, boarding wait times, and slow WFi, saving travelers hours in their day.Brittany Chang/InsiderHowever, the once-reliable business traveler base became practically nonexistent overnight with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Vonlane was forced to cut back its schedules.Brittany Chang/InsiderIn an attempt to supplement this slow-to-recover segment, the company has begun targeting leisure travelers by offering more weekend routes.Brittany Chang/InsiderAt the start of the pandemic, Vonlane's customers were approximately 70% business and 30% leisure travelers. Now, that's been flipped.Brittany Chang/InsiderRegardless, Vonlane's services and amenities could appeal to any traveler.Brittany Chang/InsiderI decided to try the service from Dallas to Austin, Texas, and my ride's driver Marvin and coach attendant Liz were two of the friendliest and warmest people I met on my Texas trip.Brittany Chang/InsiderI was so comfortable, it felt like my nearly three-and-a-half hours on the road went by in a flash.Brittany Chang/InsiderThink of Vonlane as a business class plane ride on wheels, albeit much slower.Brittany Chang/InsiderThere's even a safety video at the start of the ride reminiscent of the ones played on airplanes.Brittany Chang/InsiderVonlane also has an onboard attendant that functions similarly to a flight attendant …Brittany Chang/Insider… a clean, well-sized bathroom …Brittany Chang/Insider… complimentary snacks, beverages, and, on select rides, meals …Brittany Chang/Insider… and stable WiFi that was strong enough for me to feed my TikTok addiction.Brittany Chang/InsiderThere were also plenty of outlets right by my seat.Brittany Chang/InsiderLiz was the point person for all things amenities and services related: She checked the passengers in, passed out snacks and beverages, and patiently fielded every question.Brittany Chang/InsiderShe was chipper and accommodating throughout the entire journey, and checked up on the passengers more than most flight attendants do.Brittany Chang/InsiderShe even asked to hang my coat in the closet for me, a luxury I've never experienced on a motorcoach.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe bus is separated by rows of single and double seats, which means there are no middle seats.Brittany Chang/InsiderI opted for a single-seat, leaving me neighbor-free and relaxed during my approximately three-and-a-half hours on the Texas road.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd thankfully, the passenger seats were more comfortable than any budget bus I've ever been on.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe leather seat was so large, it felt like I was being swallowed by the plush sides.Brittany Chang/InsiderWhen my seat was reclined and my footrest was up, it felt like I was sitting on an old but comfortable lounge chair.Brittany Chang/InsiderVonlane also offers its customers noise-canceling headsets, blankets, and pillows, creating a cocoon of plush padding and relaxation.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: Vonlane But if I had wanted to work during the ride, I could've used the tabletop stored in the seatback in front of me. All you have to do is pull it out and click it into your seat.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd while the rows weren't as spaced out as the Jet, I still had a comfortable distance from all the other passengers.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe seats were great, but in my opinion, Vonlane's strongest suit was its complimentary mid-ride offerings.Brittany Chang/InsiderWhile I didn't take everything that was offered, it was nice knowing I had the option to.Brittany Chang/InsiderAt the start of the trip, Liz offered the passengers a tray of items like eye masks, tissues, earplugs, toothbrushes, and Advil.Brittany Chang/InsiderShe then came around and offered us an assortment of snacks like Oreos, granola bars, and nuts …Brittany Chang/Insider… as well as a variety of beverages like sodas, juices, and water. I ended up ordering hot tea to soothe my travelers stress.Brittany Chang/InsiderPassengers were also given several options for lunch, including my pick of a satisfyingly sweet croissant sandwich that was big enough for two meals.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd towards the trip, Liz offered us a piping hot hand towel, the perfect send-off after hours on the road.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut the ride was so comfortable, I could've easily spent another hour or two on the road with no complaints, and I've been known to get carsick.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd unlike flying, I didn't have to spend hours in a security line and at the terminal. All I did was check in with Liz and find my pre-booked seat.Brittany Chang/InsiderMy Vonlane experience had all of the luxuries of flying business class, but none of the airport lines, downtime, or inconveniences.Brittany Chang/InsiderAll in all, my ride with the Texan service was one of the most relaxing coach rides I've ever been on.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut in my opinion, Vonlane's small touches — from the attendant to the seemingly endless options of food — made riding in the motorcoach a truly luxurious experience worthy of the $109 ticket.Brittany Chang/InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 20th, 2022