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Private Mortgage Lender Bust Begins As Loan Applications Crash

Private Mortgage Lender Bust Begins As Loan Applications Crash The US mortgage industry could be on the cusp of a bust cycle as the Federal Reserve's most aggressive interest rate hikes in decades have sent mortgage loan application volume crashing.  The 30-year fixed mortgage rate jumped from 3.27% at the start of the year to as high as 6% in mid-June, sparking what we've been warning readers about is an affordability crisis where demand for homes has evaporated.  Plunging demand for homes can be seen in the pace of mortgage application volumes, falling to levels not seen since the lows of the Dot-Com bubble implosion of 2000.  This means that the rate shock has abruptly curbed the pipeline of new loans and refinancings for mortgage companies -- where the poorly capitalized ones will fail first.  Bloomberg noted there would be "no systemic meltdown" as banks have a much less reduced exposure to mortgages post-GFC. However, that doesn't mean there won't be fireworks as private lenders begin to lay off workers and, in some cases, fail.  The "nonbanks" or independent lenders "are poorly capitalized," said Nancy Wallace, chair of the real estate group at Berkeley Haas, the business school at the University of California, Berkeley. She said when mortgage applications "tank," many of these lenders will be in "trouble."  At least this time, there are more nonbank lenders in the mortgage industry than pre-GFC. LendingPatterns said two-thirds of the top 20 lenders were nonbank, compared with about a third in 2004. Inside Mortgage Finance said banks have reduced their market share from about half in 2016 to a third.  The epicenter of the implosion will be independent lenders, such as First Guaranty, who recently filed for bankruptcy after it held onto loans it made that quickly dropped in value earlier this year while trying to package them up to sell to investors. Court papers revealed lending volume dropped when mortgage rates spiked earlier this year. The company said it could no longer bundle new loans as its pipeline dried up. First Guaranty owes Flagstar Bank and Customers Bank approximately $418 million. It also cut hundreds of employees.  Another independent lender, LoanDepot, laid off 4,800 jobs in July as its pipeline of mortgage volume dried up.  LoanDepot CEO Frank Martell released a statement in July:  "After two years of record-breaking volumes, the market has contracted sharply and abruptly in 2022 ... We are taking decisive action to meet this challenge head-on." LoanDepot's equity has crashed more than 75% since going public in February 2021. The question remains if the lender will follow the path of First Guaranty.  Long Island-based Sprout Mortgage is another private lender that fired its employees last month and announced it was closing up shop.  Many private lenders can no longer find enough new loans to bundle or get new credit lines to continue operating, and unlike banks, these shops have very limited mobility when it comes to tapping emergency financing lines.  "Part of the reason these companies are distressed is because the loans can't go to the GSEs for funding. "The options for funding are more limited which is especially painful when financial conditions are tightening," said David Goodson, head of securitized credit at Voya Investment Management.  Lenders usually try to make loans worth 102 cents on the dollar to cover upfront costs, though some are taking substantial losses and can't sell them for around 85 cents.  It appears the Fed-induced rate shock is the culprit behind the implosion of the private lenders. We assume more failures are ahead.  Tyler Durden Fri, 08/19/2022 - 15:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT4 hr. 19 min. ago Related News

White House Wants Zelensky To Attend G20 Summit If Putin Is There

White House Wants Zelensky To Attend G20 Summit If Putin Is There.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT4 hr. 19 min. ago Related News

For Japan"s Sake, Drink

For Japan's Sake, Drink By Stefan Koopman of Rabobank For Japan's Sake Some remarkable news from Japan caught our attention yesterday. Where governments usually raise excise duties and spend millions on campaigns to turn people away from alcohol, Japan is going the opposite way and now encourages its use, especially among young adults (and potential life-long consumers..?). Alcohol consumption has been in a downward trend since the 1990s, as the population ages and has become more conscious of its adverse effects, while sales in the izakayas are under additional pressure due to the pandemic. In this summer’s campaign – dubbed Sake Viva! – the government calls on its citizens to come up with ideas to revitalize the liquor industry and to get consumption going again. It doesn't matter whether it’s sake, shochu, whisky, beer or wine, as long as its Japanese, raises taxes and helps to get yens circulating in the domestic economy. So, here’s my idea, at least for when tourism gets going again: “For Japan’s sake, drink!” Let’s switch to a country that doesn’t need as much encouragement. This morning, the UK’s GfK consumer confidence fell to a new record low of -44 in August, with all sub-categories falling. Readings of -30 or lower generally portend a recession. Consumers are still slightly less pessimistic about their own finances than about the general economic outlook, which would suggest that actual spending holds up a bit better than feared, but at these depths this distinction seems to be a little academical. Retail sales were up +0.3% m/m in July, but -1.2% on a rolling 3m/3m basis and on a steady downward trend since the summer of last year. Sales volumes are up just 0.4% compared to three years ago and likely to move lower than higher as record inflation erodes buying power, a consequence of events that are far beyond the control of ordinary people. Unfortunately, for some, that is more than enough reason for a drink or two... The new prime minister will face a distressed electorate, which senses a decline in institutional trust, sees a sluggish response to the cost of living crisis, and knows of the structural prospect of a trade war with the EU. The government could have been more clear on what support will be in place before energy bills skyrocket in October, could have acknowledged that now is not the time to engage in trade conflicts with Europe, and should have sought ways in how to restore the social contract between the government and its citizens. None of that is happening. Yes, Liz Truss says she will slash taxes and consider targeted cost-of-living payments if she becomes Prime Minister, but the ugly combination of stagnating economic growth and high inflation will significantly reduce the GBP 30bn worth of fiscal headroom she still claims to have. She could of course always opt for an emergency budget, which would effectively side-line the Office for Budget Responsibility and allow her to rely on a set of economic forecasts that are six months out of date rather than an updated one, but that is a brazen move that would further erode the institutional framework responsible for the UK economy. If demand stimulus in the face of sky-high inflation is indeed her immediate answer to a crisis, i.e., if she really wants to channel her inner Erdoganomist, why not urge the Bank of England to cut rates too? After all, that’s what Turkey’s central bank did yesterday: doubling down on a strategy that has failed over and over again. Despite inflation nearing a reported 80%, which is 16 times the ostensible target, the central bank still decided to reduce the policy rate by 100 bps to 13%. Once again, investors were reminded that a core plank of Erdonomics is that by making borrowing cheaper and by giving less money to bond holders via lower interest payments, inflation will slow down rather than push higher and higher. To be fair, in macro and in markets, cause and effect are always convoluted and change direction more often than economists are willing to accept, but the CBRT clearly sets itself apart as the central bank that believes bringing inflation back towards a somewhat acceptable rate is no longer the policy target, let alone less than a year before the general election. It’s also again daring to blow away its remaining FX reserves in order to defend the value of the currency, something that is eventually bound to fail, as the UK itself knows all too well. In five-sixths of all daily observations since 1990, the lira was weaker against the dollar than it was in the year prior (... and, logically, stronger than it was next year). The pair currently trades at 18.1, up 0.8% from yesterday and up 112.4% from this time last year. Where will it be next year? The dollar itself got a boost yesterday following some goldilocks data from the US and is again nearing parity with the euro. The Philly Fed jumped to 6.2 from -12.3. This is the highest in four months. It contrasts sharply with Monday’s miserable Empire Fed, reporting a rise in employment and a less pronounced weakening in new orders. Delivery times improved too, adding to a rapidly expanding list of evidence that supply chain constraints are easing relative to the current state of demand. Jobless claims were at 250k lower than expected too, defying fears of a too rapid cooling in the labor market. The Fed’s Kashkari, Bullard, George and Daly had speaking engagements yesterday: there wasn’t a single sign of any backing away from further rate hikes ahead. On the other hand, US existing home sales fell to a two-year low of 4.81 million. With house prices still at or near their peak and mortgage rates having just spiked, housing affordability is under stress in most if not all Western economies. Fewer and fewer first time buyers qualify for the mortgage required for an averagely priced home, while other buyers have an incentive to wait for a correction. This is already leading to a rise in inventories of homes on the market, which suggests there is deceleration in price increases ahead of us. As such, housing markets continue to be weak spots, being the most responsive and vulnerable to this year’s tightening in financial conditions. House values are a key determinant of household balance sheets and do influence a broad set of discretionary spending decisions, even among households who don’t directly borrow against home equity to finance spending on reconstruction, remodelling or other big tickets. There are many good reasons to believe that housing cycles leads the business cycle, a continued spate of weak data on this front is a warning signal that requires close attention. Tyler Durden Fri, 08/19/2022 - 15:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT4 hr. 19 min. ago Related News

Young Bankers Confused By Having Free Time As 2022 Wall Street Dealmaking Pales In Comparison To 2020 Peak

Young Bankers Confused By Having Free Time As 2022 Wall Street Dealmaking Pales In Comparison To 2020 Peak We've written extensively about how junior bankers have been coddled over the last few years, ever since a couple of young Goldman Sachs bankers produced a PowerPoint presentation during the pandemic complaining about working conditions. The presentation became a PR nightmare for banks, who tripped all over themselves to try and show the world that they were taking care of their respective, newly-woke junior banker bases.  Since then, a lack of talent on Wall Street has led investment banks (and some lawyers) to also offer additional incentives and perks to try and retain and recruit talent. But all of a sudden, some younger bankers are getting more free time off from an industry with a reputation of long hours when business is booming - and it has some junior bankers worried about what it means.  "Finance-industry rookies are relishing their freedom while some worry about what it means for their future careers," a new report from Bloomberg and Yahoo Finance says.  Matt Walicki, a 24-year-old banking analyst at Mizuho Americas, told Bloomberg: “As you enter this period of market uncertainty, it can be a little unsettling” for work to fall off. He said compared to 2020, he "all the more grateful" to have time to play tennis or golf.  "It’s a slower flow of deals than we’ve seen, and I think that’s shifted the nature of the work,” he added.  Bloomberg even found a group of Citigroup analysts, casually dressed and "drinking beer at Greenwich Street Tavern on a recent Tuesday as a swarm of colleagues headed out from the bank tower across the street".  That same week, some junior employees were able to leave before 3PM. Senior executives at the company reportedly see it as a "good sign" for their work-life balance - something that used to be scoffed at on Wall Street, especially for neophytes.  First-year analyst at Solomon Partners Joanna Levy commented that she hasn’t had a “ton of downtime,” but that things are “maybe a bit slower than the fall.” Recall we wrote just weeks ago that Wells Fargo was the latest to offer junior bankers a pay bump, this time to $110,000.  Recall, we wrote earlier this year that HSBC was set to double its bonuses for junior bankers in order to try and slow defections. It marked a change for the bank, which paid "less than most rivals a year ago after cutting the bonus pool at its global banking and markets division by 15%," Bloomberg reported at the time. And the competition in the space is real, with investment banks jostling back-and-forth to stay competitive with pay and retain talent for several years now. At the beginning of 2022, we reported that JP Morgan had raised its junior bankers' pay for the second time in a 12 month period. 1st-year investment banking analysts are now set to make $110,000, up from $100,000, The Business Times reported last month. 2nd-year analyst pay will also jump up to $125,000 and 3rd-year pay will rise to $135,000.  Citigroup also said it was increasing pay after a blockbuster year in 2021, moving base salaries for junior bankers up to $110,000.  Tyler Durden Fri, 08/19/2022 - 15:45.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT4 hr. 19 min. ago Related News

Fed Hawks Hammered Stocks, Bonds, Bullion, & Bitcoin This Week As J-Hole Looms

Fed Hawks Hammered Stocks, Bonds, Bullion, & Bitcoin This Week As J-Hole Looms Comments from Richmond Fed president Barkin today summed a week of hawkish prompts from the central bank that a pivot ain't coming soon and there's more pain to come (for the economy and the market): "The Fed must curb inflation even if this causes a recession," adding that The Fed "needs to raise rates into restrictive territory." All of which sent rate-cut expectations plunging on the week while rate-hike expectations remained high... Source: Bloomberg “The Fed would, in order to get inflation down to the 2% target, have to crush the economy,”  said Ann-Katrin Petersen, a senior investment strategist at BlackRock Investment Institute. In order to bolster growth, the Fed will at some  point “accept to live with inflation. This dovish pivot is not likely in  the very near term, in contrast to what markets seem to be expecting  right now, but this dovish pivot may come in 2023,” she told Bloomberg. The hawkish nudge finally hit the YOLO/MOMO crowd sending stocks reeling today after a big options expiration. Nasdaq and Small Caps were clubbed like a baby seal today (down over 2%) and all the US Majors ended the week lower (with The Dow the prettiest horse in the glue factory this time as growthy tech was hammered with rising rates)... Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P all reversed at their 200DMAs this week... The S&P reverted back down to its 50% Fib retracement level... Source: Bloomberg And DO NOT forget our post suggesting cover on the back of Mike Hartnett's top call... Source: Bloomberg Energy stocks went from worst to almost first on the week after a big puke at the Monday open. Staples were the leaders while Materials the laggards.... Source: Bloomberg Before we leave stock-land, there's this utter shitshow... Did the YOLO-ers just shoot their final wad? "Most Shorted' Stocks tumbled hard this week as it appears the squeeze ammo has run out... Source: Bloomberg US Treasury Yields surged this week with the belly underperforming dramatically... Source: Bloomberg 10Y spiked up to 3.00% - erasing all the price gains from the ECB/US-weak-data bond rally... Source: Bloomberg US 30Y yields rose back above China 30Y yields which dropped to 6 year lows: Traders might be betting that lower mortgage rates - led by expected cuts in loan prime rates - will push banks to buy more longer-dated bonds, wrote Qin Han, an analyst at Guotai Junan Securities in a note. Source: Bloomberg The hawkish speak sent the dollar soaring with Bloomberg's Dollar Index up a stunning 2% on the week - its biggest weekly spike since April 2020. Notice that the dollar broke back above the FOMC day selloff highs... Source: Bloomberg Cryptos were monkeyhammered lower as the week progressed with ETH and BTC down around 12%... Source: Bloomberg EU NatGas soared to a new record high (and US Natgas closed at its highest since 2008) Source: Bloomberg Gold tumbled back below $1800 this week as the hawkish hammering spread to commods... And oil ended the week lower - despite some choppy trading - with WTI holding around $90... Finally, we note that we've seen these kind of bounces before... Source: Bloomberg ...and it didn't end well. Tyler Durden Fri, 08/19/2022 - 16:01.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT4 hr. 19 min. ago Related News

Sam Harris Offers Feeble "Clarification" After Bizarre Comments About Trump

Sam Harris Offers Feeble "Clarification" After Bizarre Comments About Trump.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT4 hr. 19 min. ago Related News

TikTok"s in-app browser has code that could be used to track data like passwords and credit card numbers — and Apple should ramp up security to prevent it, a researcher says

A researcher says he found code in TikTok that allows it to access sensitive user data. He is calling on Apple to be more strict about its app store review process. Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images A researcher says TikTok can monitor users' keystrokes on third-party websites, including passwords and credit card numbers.  He lays partial blame on Apple, calling on the tech giant to strengthen its app store review process.  TikTok denies collecting this data but seemed to confirm it has the ability to track keystrokes. TikTok's app includes code that could allow the company to monitor everything users type while using the app, even when they are redirected to third-party websites, resulting in the social media app's ability to see sensitive data like passwords and credit card numbers, according to a security researcher who says Apple should take action to fix the potential problem.Felix Krause says he uncovered TikTok's ability to monitor user data through its in-app browsing feature and published his findings in a blog post on Thursday. Krause found code that showed that TikTok has the ability to monitor any keystroke a user makes - even when that user clicks on a link that redirects them to another website. "It's the equivalent of a keylogger, which is software that monitors your keystrokes. That includes passwords, credit cards, any sensitive information could be taken from that," Krause told Insider. Though TikTok has this system in place, Krause cautions that it does not necessarily prove they are using or even collecting this data.TikTok denies collecting sensitive user dataTikTok vehemently denies collecting the data. During a CNN appearance in July, TikTok Americas policy executive Michael Beckerman said TikTok is "not logging what you're typing. It's an anti-spam, anti-fraud measure that checks the rhythm of the way people are typing to ensure that it's not a bot or some other malicious activity." Krause counters that the power to collect the data is still a danger. "Let's assume that TikTok's claims are correct and they aren't collecting the data," he said. "They are claiming that they're not doing it now, but this could potentially change in the future. I'm not saying that's going to happen, but it is an option, and that is a problem on its own."  In a statement to Insider, a TikTok spokesperson seemed to confirm the existence of the code but pushed back on Krause's report. "The report's conclusions about TikTok are incorrect and misleading. The researcher specifically says the JavaScript code does not mean our app is doing anything malicious, and admits they have no way to know what kind of data our in-app browser collects. Contrary to the report's claims, we do not collect keystroke or text inputs through this code, which is solely used for debugging, troubleshooting, and performance monitoring," a TikTok spokesperson said. TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has come under fire for privacy concerns in the past. Last month, TikTok confirmed that China-based employees could access US user data through an approval process. Krause says Apple plays a roleKrause says he believes part of this issue falls on Apple, which doesn't require apps to use its Safari browser for viewing external websites, though it recommends it. Krause said security concerns would be alleviated if TikTok used Safari instead of its own in-app browser. "There are solutions out there that will allow TikTok to render websites inside their app while also keeping users safe and keeping their privacy intact," he said.TikTok is not the only app that uses in-app browsing, and last week, Krause discovered code that showed Meta apps Facebook and Instagram can monitor user movements through their in-app browsing. However, Krause said Meta doesn't go as far as monitoring users' keystrokes. "The main message here should be that those practices of in-app browsers shouldn't even be allowed... Apple should be way more strict in their app review process, they should define new rules around this. And they should prohibit any use of in-app browsers for third-party web content," Krause said. Apple couldn't be immediately reached for comment. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT5 hr. 3 min. ago Related News

Walmart will cover abortion care for 1.6 million employees

Walmart's health-insurance plans will now pay directly for certain abortions, and will pay for employees to travel to obtain abortions in other cases. The outside of a Walmart store.Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images Walmart will now cover abortion care for its 1.6 million employees.  Leaked memo says retailer will cover abortion costs when the mother's health is at risk and cover travel costs in other cases.  CNBC was first to break the story. Walmart is expanding its healthcare coverage to include abortion care for its 1.6 million workers. Insider reviewed a leaked memo from the chain's chief people officer, Donna Morris, that read, "Effective immediately, the Walmart self-insured healthcare plans will cover abortion when there is a health risk to the mother, rape or incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or lack of fetal viability."The company will also "provide travel support for our associates and their covered dependents so they can access services covered by our Walmart self-insured plan when they are not available within 100 miles of their location." The memo said that "more information regarding these benefits" will be released in "the coming weeks." Experts say that Walmart, along with other top employers, will face recruitment and retention struggles in red states due to the repeal of Roe v. Wade. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT5 hr. 3 min. ago Related News

How to set a timer on your iPhone camera to take photos after a brief countdown

To take a photo on your iPhone without physically tapping the shutter button, you can set a timer to take it after a brief countdown. Here's how. You can set a timer on your iPhone camera to take a picture without physically clicking the shutter.Sean Wolfe/Business Insider Setting a self timer on your iPhone camera automatically takes photos after a countdown. The camera will take a series of 10 burst photos – you can choose the ones to keep or delete. You can set the timer to take a photo after three or 10 seconds. We've all been there — there's nobody around to take a picture of your group of friends at a special location or event. Fortunately, Apple has developed a solution to this with a simple feature on the iPhone.The built-in self timer on your iPhone camera allows you to take photos without physically clicking the button. You can set a long or short countdown timer and your camera will snap 10 burst photos to give you the perfect shot.Here's how to do it.How to set the timer on your iPhone camera1. Open the Camera app on your iPhone.2. Position your iPhone where you'd like the photo to be taken.3. Tap the down arrow in the top center of the screen.Tap this down arrow.Stefan Ionescu/Insider4. Drag the slider that appears at the bottom to the left and tap the clock icon.Tap the clock icon in the slider.Stefan Ionescu/Insider5. Next, select a countdown for the timer – you have two options: three or 10 seconds.Set a timer for either three or 10 seconds.Stefan Ionescu/Insider6. Tap the shutter button to start the self timer. If you want to stop the timer at any point, tap the stop button.Tap the stop button if you want to stop the timer.Stefan Ionescu/InsiderQuick tip: The iPhone's flashlight will flash each second, and you can use that to time your photo.7. Once the photo has been taken, open the Photos app. 8. Tap the photo taken with the self timer to select it. 9. Tap Select at the bottom – you will be shown 10 different burst images taken using the self timer.You'll see 10 burst photos taken with the self timer.Stefan Ionescu/InsiderQuick tip: You can turn off burst for timed photos by tapping the Live Photo button at the top and then take the picture.10. Scroll through the images, and select the ones you want to keep by tapping on them. If you'd like to keep all of them, you can skip this step. 11. Tap Done in the upper right-hand corner.12. If you'd like to keep only the photos you selected, tap Keep Only # Favorites in the pop-up – the # is the number of photos you selected. Otherwise, tap Keep Everything.Choose which photos you want to keep – you can also keep them all.Stefan Ionescu/InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT5 hr. 3 min. ago Related News

Mitt Romney says he isn"t encouraging Liz Cheney to run for president: "She would not become the nominee"

Mitt Romney says he no longer wants to encourage people to run for president, especially Liz Cheney, who he says won't "become the nominee." Rep. Liz Cheney and Sen. Mitt Romney are both prominent members of the Republican party who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump.PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images After her Wyoming primary loss, Rep. Liz Cheney may be considering a 2024 presidential bid. Sen. Mitt Romney previously told Insider he "wouldn't be surprised to see her run for president." But on Thursday he told Utah's Desert News he doesn't think she would win the GOP nomination and shouldn't run. After losing her Wyoming primary to Trump-endorsed lawyer Harriet Hageman, Rep. Liz Cheney says she is "thinking about" a 2024 presidential run. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told Insider's Oma Seddiq on August 3 that he "wouldn't be surprised to see her run for president." The senator also hosted fundraisers on her behalf before her primary loss.But on Thursday Romney told Desert News on Thursday he wouldn't push her to run."I'm not going to encourage anyone to run for president. I've done that myself, and that's something I'm not doing again. I don't know if she really wants to do that," Romney said. "She would not become the nominee if she were to run. I can't imagine that would occur."—Byron York (@ByronYork) August 19, 2022 Romney also said Trump would most certainly receive the GOP nomination should he announce another presidential bid."I don't think someone who is seen outside the Trump circle would have any realistic chance of becoming the nominee in 2024, barring something I can't foresee at this stage," he told Desert News. "If he doesn't run again, I think it'll be people who either were supporters of his or people who didn't say much about him and then would be open to become the nominee."Cheney, a pro-impeachment Republican and member of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, has repeatedly challenged Trump and has expressed that she will not be stopping her criticism anytime soon."I salute her courage. You wouldn't call it courage, by the way, if there were no consequence for doing what you think is right. She did what she thought was right. I believe she was right," Romney told Desert News when asked about Cheney facing-off with a Trump-endorsed candidate.Romney also noted that he was "not in collaboration" with Cheney running for president for any reasons other than trying to secure the Republican nomination.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT5 hr. 3 min. ago Related News

After the disaster of office-rental startup Knotel last year, its founder Amol Sarva is now back as a VC with a $100 million fund

Knotel went from a $1.6 billion valuation to bankruptcy last year. Now, its founder Amol Sarva. has reemerged with the launch of a $100 million fund. Amol Sarva's previous startup, Knotel, filed for bankruptcy last year.Knotel The founder of office rental startup Knotel, Amol Sarva, is launching a $100 million fund. Life Extension Ventures will invest in startups focused on "longevity for people and planet." After earning a $1.6 billion valuation, Knotel filed for bankruptcy last year. A year and a half after his proptech startup collapsed, Amol Sarva has resurfaced in Silicon Valley — this time as a VC.The former startup founder announced the launch of his new $100 million fund, Life Extension Ventures. Based in New York, the fund will focus on "longevity for people and planet."Inaki Berenguer, who founded insurance-tech startup CoverWallet as well as Contactive and Pixable, is helming the fund alongside Sarva, who led Knotel from a $1.6 billion valuation straight to bankruptcy.Sarva founded Knotel in 2015 alongside Russian-born entrepreneur Edward Shenderovich. The office-rental startup designed and built custom headquarters for corporations, leasing out the spaces under flexible terms.Early on, Sarva often pitted Knotel against industry incumbent WeWork, even telling Bloomberg in a 2019 interview that his startup would overtake the larger competitor, likening it to Amazon overtaking eBay and Facebook forcing Myspace into obscurity.At first, it seemed like Sarva was right. At its height, Knotel managed nearly 5 million square feet of property, raising $560 million over three years and reaching unicorn status.When the pandemic hit and offices moved to remote work in March 2020, Knotel laid off or furloughed half of its employees and struggled to pay landlords, even while promising investors that profitability was around the corner. However, employees told Insider that issues with the company began long before the pandemic. Knotel's obsession with beating WeWork led to bidding wars, vacant offices, and damaged relationships with landlords and brokers.In January 2021, Knotel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced its intention to sell its business to commercial real estate company and Knotel investor Newmark.          Following Knotel's purchase, Sarva cofounded a slew of startups and venture-focused companies throughout 2021, including venture studio Popular Change, B2B ecommerce platform CornerUp, and commercial real-estate startup Aikito, according to his LinkedIn profile.Life Extension Ventures will invest in longevity-focused startups that expand beyond just health and fitness, according to TechCrunch, which first reported the news. Longevity startup investments hit $40 billion in 2021 and could grow to $600 billion by 2025, according to The Aging Analytics Agency and Bank of America, and the area can include innovations like biotech-oriented disease prevention to organ regeneration.In addition to health and biotech, the fund will also focus on climate-focused startups to support longevity for the plantet.Berenguer has already made multiple longevity-focused investments in recent months that are listed on the fund's website: Particle Health, which uses an API to combine health records and Mable, which uses DNA-personalized medicine to treat migraines.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT5 hr. 3 min. ago Related News

A prison where the prisoners were in charge

The General Penitentiary of Venezuela was a place where inmates mostly roamed freely. But there was also a rigid, if convoluted, code of conduct. Inmates are seen praying early in the morning. At the time, inmates here have run afoul of La Routina and were awaiting punishment would stay here.Oscar B. Castillo Oscar B. Castillo, a documentary photographer, had extraordinary access to Venezuela's PGV prison during an extended period when it was controlled by inmates. This photo essay was adapted from Castillo's book about the Free Convict hip-hop collective. The book, "Esos Que Saben," was published this month.  One of Venezuela's hottest venues for musicians and sports stars was, for part of the last decade, a maximum-security prison run by its own inmates. "Party at the PGV tonight," local DJs would announce over the radio. Visitors would come from the nearby towns, or all the way from the capital, Caracas, 100 miles away. The PGV, or the General Penitentiary of Venezuela, was a place where inmates mostly roamed freely. The cell blocks had been torn out and there was no "behind bars." But there was also a rigid, if convoluted, code of conduct that was maintained by gangs and an arsenal of heavy weapons. Infractions were met with brutal punishments.Visitors were considered sacred, and off-limits. The PGV was at its best on Visitors' Days — which could run for weeks since there wasn't a formal limit.  Christmas, Mother's Day, or the birthdays of gang leaders who ran the place were always a good excuse to put on concerts, or bring in bouncy castles, clowns, and hot dog carts for visiting kids. As night fell, DJs would be brought in to perform in the penitentiary's central square with electronic music, laser shows, and fireworks. A prisoner dances with a woman during a Visitors' Day event at the PGV.Oscar B. CastilloKids play and jump in one of the several bouncy castles that prisoners set up on Visitor days.Oscar B. CastilloAs a group of Mariachis played songs about maternal love during a Mother's Day celebration at the prison, the mother of an inmate walked onto the stage and joined the performance.Oscar B. CastilloOutside/Inside From the outside, there were vestiges of ordinary prison infrastructure: High fences heavily crowned with barbed wire, control towers, and checkpoints manned by military officers armed with rifles and machine guns. Long lines of relatives, mostly women and kids, carrying large bags of goods and tired expressions on their faces, lined up under the scorching heat to submit to searches — or be made to pay bribes — before being allowed through. But look closer, and you would have seen a thin fence. On one side were guards, employed by the state and confined to the prison's perimeter. On the other side, manning the PGV's entrance, a select group of prisoners held far more powerful guns, and many more of them. Once inside, most inmates — everyone here was an inmate — walked around freely through the maze of corridors, pavilions, and wards. In some areas, shacks and other private dwellings had been erected.  From the alleyways and through the prison's windows, the rugged mountain landscape, which lent the town of San Juan de Los Morros its name, could be seen in the distance — beautiful, but also painful, for how it reminded prisoners of their lost freedom. The PGV first opened in 1948, billed as a model South American prison where prisoners could work the soil, care for animals, and live in the relative open. But starting around 2007, as the institutional structure of Venezuela crumbled and mafia activity and corruption spiraled out of control, prison gangs amassed weapons and drugs and, with it, leverage. After years of continuous abandonment and failed policies, police and soldiers were often interchangable with criminals, and human rights groups documented their abuses.Around 2009, the criminal group called "El Carro" (The Car), under the command of El Principal, had taken over the daily workings of the PGV.  By 2010, many of Venezuela's biggest male prisons were under the effective control of inmates.  The General Penitentiary of Venezuela, known as the PGV.Oscar B. CastilloChristian evangelist prisoners during a prayer visit from Caracas. These prisoners had their own zone at the PGV and were responsible for jobs like cleaning and carrying water. They could not roam around the prison after 7pm.Oscar B. CastilloHéctor, right, playfully points a gun at another inmate.Oscar B. CastilloDrugs laid out on a table for sale.Oscar B. CastilloLa RutinaAt the PGV's entrance was a makeshift market. There, entrepreneurial prisoners filled tables with basic items, like bread and DVDs, or marijuana joints that were artfully arranged to look like a bouquet of flowers. More stands lined the prison's narrow corridors, which reverberated with the rhythms of Salsa and Reggaeton. You might find barbeque meat, or rum or vodka-based cocktails spun in blenders and served with a lime twist. Even in those times when extreme shortages plagued Venezuela, here at the PGV, people could find practically anything they wished to buy. On visitor days, you might see free Venezuelans shopping for toilet paper, flour or cooking oil — basic products that had completely disappeared from supermarkets shelves.All of this happened under the attentive eyes of Los Luceros. Select members of the gangs that ran the PGV, they answered to orders from the Principal. Armed with revolvers, rifles, and even hand grenades, Los Luceros made sure that everything ran smoothly. They also enforced the payment of an obligatory weekly tax, called "La Causa," which officially paid for prison maintenance and security (more weapons), as well as parties and other activities. For inmates, life at the PGV was like walking a tightrope over a pool of sharks. Abiding by an unwritten code known as La Rutina was obligatory, and prisoners lived under the constant threat of ruthless punishment if they stepped outside of it. A minor offense, or the wrong look, might make you into a pariah, or lead to a punishment that could be the last thing seen in this world. Stealing a cigarette could result in a bullet through your hand. On Mondays, in an improvised arena called the Coliseum, dozens of inmates were compelled to settle their debts or other disputes over knife fights. Ordinary words like egg, milk or water — that in Venezuelan slang might carry a vague sexual connotation — were banned because of their potential to offend other inmates. Saying them could get you banished to dirty and trash-filled corners of the prison, far from the markets and the fun.Free Convict For three years, from the beginning of 2014 until Venezuelan authorities finally shut the place down in 2016, I had extraordinary access to the PGV as a Venezuelan documentary photographer. At that point, the PGV had a population of around 5,000 people — more than six times its intended capacity. Most of the inmates were still in legal limbo; many hadn't yet been tried for their alleged offense, or given an exact sentence. It was also extraordinarily violent: In 2014, there were at least 309 homicides in Venezuelan prisons, where some 60,000 prisoners were held, according to the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory. The recording studio that Free Convict group built inside the prison.Oscar B. CastilloAn inmate rides a motorcycle in one of PGV's sports fields. Motorcycles of all sizes from 80cc to 650cc were common inside the jail.Oscar B. CastilloFree Convict's recording studio at the PGV.Oscar B. CastilloI was at the PGV with Free Convict, a Hip Hop collective formed by 12 inmates and to try to understand their lives in all of their  complexities. These men had survived gang life, street violence, drugs, and now this bizarre penitentiary existence. They were now looking to chart a new path for themselves, making rhymes around the themes of non-violence, self-improvement, and redemption. In the early days, Free Convict would gather in a Freestyle circle in the prison's central square. The meetings became bigger and more frequent, and eventually even the PGV's toughest bosses began to show them respect. (It helped that their leader, Ray Martinez, was part of the "El Carro" gang that controlled the prison.) Through the same cracks by which drugs and weapons flowed into the PGV, Free Convict managed to smuggle in  a recording studio, where they recorded a full album and produce music videos. In time, they got to be good enough, and famous enough, to attract collaborators both from inside the prison and beyond its walls. Only in total chaos, as Venezuela was of those years, would a place like the PGV be possible. Out of that anarchic landscape, Free Convict offered the possibility of a different way of life, a fresh start, and an oasis in the midst of madness. HéctorOne of the inmates behind Free Convict was a man named Héctor. Like a few of the others, he had arrived at the PGV as something of a stereotype of the hardened criminal. By the time I met him, he was much more interested in self-reflection and finding redemption. Born in 1992, Héctor came up in the Pinto Salinas neighborhood of Caracas. As a kid, he was a promising basketball player. But his future in the sport was cut short in 2010. His gang was fighting for control of the area, a notorious staging ground for drug distribution, and he got caught in a hail of bullets that nearly killed him and tore up one of his arms at the elbow. Héctor.Oscar B. CastilloBy 2012, the year Héctor was sent to the PGV for being an accomplice to a homicide, his two brothers had been killed. Humberto, the oldest, was gunned down near their home in Pinto Salinas in 2008. Junior, the youngest, died a similar death in 2011. Now, another son seemed to be heading down the same inexorable path.Like most prisoners at the PGV, Héctor depended on his family, outside, to bring him things to sell at the market. In good times, he might make enough to pay La Causa, take care of his needs, and even send some profits home. The best bet for making money was to set up a table selling crack, cocaine, base paste, marijuana and blunts. But even in this environment, where drugs could be sold and consumed out in the open, this line of work could be unpredictable and dangerous. Héctor liked the money; the money was useful to him. But selling drugs brought problems. So Héctor mostly avoided it. At one point, he sold nails, screws, wires, and pieces of wood to inmates — coveted objects that inmates used to build improvised shacks. If he got his hands on some flour, he might set up a stand selling banana cake or Venezuelan arepas.Héctor lies with his mother, whom he calls "La Pucha," during a Visitors day at the PGV. Venezuela's violence has taken a heavy toll on La Pucha, who lost two sons and whose third, Héctor, was locked up for six years.Oscar B. CastilloWhenever possible, he'd hoped to make enough money so his mother, Rosalia Rivero, who worked as a janitor and whom he playfully called "La Pucha," could travel from Caracas for a Visitors Day. On these visits, she would head straight to her son's room, willfully ignoring the strangeness she passed along the way. She was used to seeing drugs and weapons, and she associated both with losing two of her sons, and almost losing a third. At the PGV, she found Héctor a changed man. Héctor was never an angel; nobody in Free Convict was. But now he was searching for something different. Together with the rest of Free Convict, Héctor had resolved to take control of his life, and break the cycle that had put him on the frontlines of the street wars that were tearing apart Venezuela and that nobody had asked for. To do that, Héctor had to sharpen his talent, and believe in himself.Héctor, center, and two other members of Free Convict are seen seated at the highest point of the PGV as they use a drone to record a music video. Once the church bell tower, it became a command post for prison gangs to watch the perimeter of the PGV. Bullet holes testify to the many battles between prisoners and authorities.Oscar B. CastilloBoom!By 2016, the situation in Venezuela had become catastrophic. Inflation was out of control and finding basic items had become nearly impossible. At the PGV, families were barely able to send help. Inmates went from drinking good rum at parties to making their own alcohol, from fermenting banana skin, in plastic Gatorade bottles. Instead of manning tables piled high with drugs, inmates like Héctor scraped together money selling single cigarettes or hot chocolate. La Causa had to be paid first. There was barely any money for food. The beginning of the end of the PGV came in September of 2016. Musicians and sports players had been brought in, along with the usual flood of friends and family from the outside, to celebrate the birthday of the PGV's big boss, Franklin "Viru Viru." Trophies from sports events and portraits of gang bosses, some allegedly killed by police after their release, are displayed in a central area of the PGV.Oscar B. CastilloInmates at the overcrowded PGV sleep on the floor and makeshift hammocks. The prison housed more than 6 times its expected capacity.Oscar B. CastilloThen, suddenly, BOOM, a hand grenade explosion caused the prison's foundation to tremble. Smoke was everywhere. Some people screamed in agony, others ran in all directions. In the confusion, Los Luceros pointed their guns at each other, looking for signs of treason.When the black cloud had cleared, there was a hellish scene of wounded people and dead bodies. Visitors and prisoners alike were among the almost 20 victims. Afterwards, tension and fear were everywhere, and the prison divided into warring factions. Punishment, including murder, was more common, and even more random. Seeing an opening, forces from the state finally stormed the prison. For two weeks, there was fighting, leading to an estimated 80 deaths. There was no water or electricity. Starving inmates killed their pets for food, or consumed whatever drugs they could find to fight off hunger. Tuberculosis was plaguing the prison and infected prisoners were dying daily. When it was finally over, government soldiers emptied the PGV and inmates were sent to other detention centers around the country. Free Convict scrambled to stay in touch, but finding out who had ended up where was almost impossible.Free Convict, which by then was better and more popular than ever, seemed to be dying. Héctor ended up at Tocuyito, another prisoner-controlled prison, where he stayed for another two years.CaracasOne day in 2020 — six years after I began documenting Free Convict at the PGV — I went to a recording studio in Caracas to meet up with the collective. Nearly all of them had been released, and they were trying to keep Free Convict's work alive from the outside. Free in Caracas, there was still so much to navigate. The immediate problem was Héctor. His family hadn't heard from him in three days. At first, the police said they had no record of him being arrested. Now, thanks to pressure from his family, they were saying he had been arrested, and would be released soon. We predicted he'd come to the studio directly, and were waiting for him there. When he finally arrived, fear, rage, and frustration filled his eyes. He told us that he had been in his neighborhood with his cousin, known as "The Cat," when police arrived and shot his cousin dead. They'd then arrested Héctor, who now told us he'd been spared only thanks to a divine intervention.Héctor, in Caracas, is seen with local kids he helps mentor.Oscar B. CastilloMembers of Free Convict and Otro Enfoque, a local NGO, are seen late at night visiting a group of kids living under a bridge in Caracas. The river below receives water from the city's sewers. Free Convict uses their history with crime and incarceration to collaborate on initiatives that inspire crime-prevention, non-violence, and change.Oscar B. CastilloWe couldn't confirm Héctor's story, but there were plenty of others like it. Later that year, the United Nations would call on President Nicolas Maduro to disband various police units that had been behind extrajudicial killings and "crimes against humanity."It was possible that Héctor had actually been spared because, since his release, he'd become relatively well-known both for his work with Free Convict and for his anti-violence and community-building work in prisons, schools, and other areas affected by violence and exclusion. Having overcome so much in an upside-down Venezuela where police forces could turn their guns on civilians and prisoners controlled the prisons, Héctor is a survivor.  After so many close calls with death and so much adversity, he had done so much to rebuild his life and forge a new path. His mistakes were part of who he was, but the actions he had taken in his life because of those mistakes, and his skill in communicating the things he'd learned, made him a valued mentor to so many Caracus youths who were in a desperate search for new paths to walk away from violence.But for all the progress Héctor had made in his life, he was still at the mercy of the arbitrary violence of Venezuela. Together, we all wondered where Héctor was safest: In Caracas, trying to contribute to his community while at the mercy of the arbitrary violence of Venezuela, and possibly at the hands of Venezuelan police, or back under La Rutina. Héctor stands for a portrait while he and other members of Free Convict take a day job cleaning and painting a disco club. Steady jobs that pay well are scarce in Venezuela.Oscar B. CastilloOscar B. Castillo is a documentary photographer and multimedia artist. His book about the PGV, "Esos Que Saben" was published this year and is available for purchase here.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT5 hr. 3 min. ago Related News

Carl Paladino, a contentious New York Republican running for Congress, is violating federal law by not disclosing his personal finances

Paladino, who's self-funded 99% of his campaign's coffer, has yet to file a financial disclosure detailing his personal finances as required by law. Carl Paladino speaks before a rally for then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at JetSmart Aviation Services on Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Rochester, New York.Mike Groll/AP GOP congressional candidate Carl Paladino hasn't filed a mandatory personal financial disclosure. Paladino is wealthy Western New York real estate developer who's routinely courted controversy. Early voting for the NY-23 primary election began on August 13. Election Day is August 23. Carl Paladino, a Donald Trump-boosting Republican running to represent New York's 23rd Congressional District, is violating a federal conflict-of-interest and transparency law by not disclosing details about his own finances, an Insider review of congressional financial filings indicates.Paladino — endorsed by third-ranking House Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York — is running against the chair of the New York Republican Party, Nick Langworthy, in the district's open GOP primary. His late disclosure means that voters cannot review details about the ostensibly wealthy real estate developer's income, investments, employment, and debts.A congressional candidate could face an investigation or fine if he or she "knowingly and willfully falsifies a statement or fails to file a statement" in accordance with US House guidance, although officials rarely pursue such investigations.Paladino's campaign did not respond to Insider's repeated requests for comment.The campaign did, however, tell the Buffalo News earlier this month that Paladino hasn't filed his financial disclosures because the Clerk of the House of Representatives "failed to supply this campaign with login credentials." The campaign further noted that the clerk extended the filing period and that the disclosure was "in the process of being filed."Records maintained by the Clerk of the House of Representatives do not, however, indicate Paladino officially requested an extension or received one. (Representatives for the clerk's office did not respond to an inquiry.) Federal law, meanwhile, requires all candidates to submit their personal financial disclosures within 30 days of an election no matter what.And in the event a candidate cannot or does not want to use Congress' electronic filing system, they have the option to mail paper disclosures to the US House — there are also no congressional records of Paladino doing so.Now with less than a week until Election Day, Paladino has still yet to file his disclosure and early voting has already begun — voters were allowed to begin casting their ballots on August 13.'Suspicious'Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, the government affairs manager at the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight, told Insider that it's "unfair to the potential future constituents and the voters to not have that information before they're casting their vote."It's a little bit suspicious," Hedtler-Gaudette added, "that the one thing that could potentially contain some interesting information is the one thing that they seem to not be able to do."The House Ethics Committee, the party that would be tasked with investigating Paladino's violation, frequently overlooks STOCK Act infractions.The committee is even more handicapped as of late after ranking member Rep. Jackie Walorski died in a car accident on August 3. The committee typically does not vote without having a full committee of 10 members.Langworthy, Paladino's opponent, submitted his 2021 annual personal financial disclosure in July. The disclosure shows that he invests in several mutual funds and the SPDR S&P 500.Candidates running for a House office are required to file financial disclosures with the House after raising or spending $5,000 in cash, according to federal law and guidelines from the House Ethics Committee. Paladino crossed that threshold weeks ago.Paladino formally declared his run for office in June 2022, shortly after Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs announced he would not seek re-election.Paladino's turbulent career in politics includes a 2010 run for New York state governor that he badly lost in the general election.In 2016, while serving on the Buffalo School Board, he made sexist and racist remarks about then-first lady Michelle Obama. He later apologized. Fellow board members pressured him to resign, but he refused.New York's education commissioner ultimately removed Paladino from office in 2017 for, as the New York Times reported at the time, revealing confidential information about collective bargaining negotiations with the city's teachers union. Paladino is primarily self-funding his congressional campaign. The chairman of a real estate development company, Paladino has loaned his campaign $1.5 million, or 99% of the campaign's total money raised.Paladino is a long-time supporter of Trump, although Trump has not yet endorsed a candidate in New York's 23rd District — a decidedly red district that will almost certainly elect the winner of Paladino-Langworthy in November's general election.A push to ban congressional stock tradingMembers of Congress and congressional candidates — Republicans and Democrats alike — have routinely violated Insider's "Conflicted Congress" project found 70 members of Congress in violation of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 with late or missing disclosures.In the wake of the investigation, Congress has begun debating whether to ban lawmakers and their spouses from buying, selling, or holding individual stocks. House Democrats have suggested they'll hold a vote on the issue in September, though a vote has yet to be scheduled.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT5 hr. 3 min. ago Related News

US stocks fall to break 4-week win streak as Fed officials signal more hawkish rate hikes

The market ended with losing week with more than $2 trillion worth of options expiring. The Fed's Thomas Barkin spoke in Maryland Friday. US stocks fell Friday, leaving the S&P 500 down for the week.  The index snapped four weeks of weekly gains with more than $2 trillion worth of options expiring.  Fed officials are voicing support for more aggressive rate hikes.  US stocks dropped Friday, ending a weekly run of wins for the S&P 500 as Federal Reserve officials backed the continuation of aggressive rate hikes to bring down high inflation. Stocks fell as more than $2 trillion worth of options tied to the S&P 500, single stocks, and other indexes were expiring. The moves left the S&P 500 down for the first week after four weeks of advances. Bank of America said Friday stocks were in the midst of a "classic" bear-market rally and the lows haven't been seen yet. Risk aversion set in as Federal Reserve officials lent support toward potential more big rate increases to cool down consumer prices. "We're committed to returning inflation to our 2% target and we'll do what it takes to get there," Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Thomas Barkin said during an event in Maryland on Friday, according to Bloomberg.Here's where US indexes stood at 4:00 p.m. on Friday:  S&P 500: 4,228.48, down 1.29% Dow Jones Industrial Average: 33,706.74, down 0.86% (292.30 points)Nasdaq Composite: 12,705.21, down 2.01% Earlier Friday, the US Dollar Index climbed to a fresh one-month high following hawkish comments St. Louis Fed President James Bullard who said Thursday said he'd look to raise interest rates by 75 basis points in September.San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly on Thursday said rate hikes of 50 basis points or 75 basis points next month would be "reasonable" and suggested the Fed could keep raising rates into 2023.Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will speak next Friday at the central bank's Economic Policy Symposium in Wyoming. The Fed has raised rates by a hefty 75 basis points at its previous two meetings. The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee's next monetary policy meeting is scheduled for September 20-21. Around the markets, Occidental Petroleum jumped after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway won regulatory approval to purchase up to 50% of the oil company's common stock. General Motors shares rose after the automaker said it will resume paying a quarterly dividend, which it suspended as the COVID-19 pandemic was unfolding. It will also restart share repurchases, with the board increasing its buyback capacity to $5 billion. Bed Bath & Beyond plunged after Ryan Cohen, the retailer's second-largest shareholder, dumped his entire stake for a $68 million profit. Other speculative parts of financial markets were under pressure, with bitcoin sliding under $22,000. Middle Eastern states like Saudi Arabia will land a $1.3 trillion windfall from soaring oil prices, according to the IMF. Meanwhile, Myanmar is buying Russian oil, calling it "high-quality" and cheap. Oil prices fell but pared losses. West Texas Intermediate crude slipped 0.1% to $90.41 per barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, shed 0.3% to $96.34. Gold lost 0.6% at $1,760.10 per ounce. The 10-year Treasury yield rose 10 basis points to 2.98%. Bitcoin fell 8.8% to $21,352.12.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT5 hr. 3 min. ago Related News

7 useful Zoom features you might not know about

Zoom offers numerous useful features in its video conferencing app that you might not know about, including a vanishing pen. A 3D printed Zoom logoReuters Zoom offers numerous useful features in its video conferencing app that you might not know about.  You can create a temporary name and profile picture, and you can use a vanishing pen to draw on shared screens. Here are seven of the most useful tips and tricks for getting the most out of Zoom.  Video calling has become commonplace in our modern remote work culture, and few video-conference apps are more popular than Zoom. Most office workers have become familiar with Zoom in the last couple of years, and while it's easy to use, that doesn't mean there aren't a slew of surprising features hiding under its surface. Here are seven of the top features in Zoom you might not know about. Add a profile pictureIf you spend a lot of time in Zoom meetings, you might prefer to have a profile picture than be represented by your initials in a generic account icon. It's easy to apply a custom profile picture from the Zoom website. Click Profile in the navigation pane on the left, and you should see your name with a blank account picture. Click the picture — you should see a pencil icon appear in it when you hover — and upload your account photo. You can add (or replace) or profile picture from the Zoom website.Dave Johnson/InsiderZoom also lets you use a custom profile photo for a particular meeting. You can change your photo each time a meeting starts, or just as needed for a specific meeting. After the meeting starts, click Participants in the toolbar at the bottom of the window and then, in the pane that opens on the right, find your name. Click the three-dot menu beside your name and click Edit Profile Picture. Click Change Picture, choose a new image, and then click Save. When the meeting ends, your profile photo will revert to your default image.  Change your backgroundSome people enjoy showing off their home office in the background while on a Zoom call, but you might prefer to disguise your clutter by changing your background. Zoom uses a green screen-like technology to let you replace the real world with a fake background. Before the call starts, click your account icon at the top right of the Zoom window and then, in the drop-down menu, choose Settings. In the Background & Effects tab of the Settings window, you can choose a preset background, blur your actual background, or upload an image to use as a background. To upload your own, click the plus sign to the right of the virtual backgrounds and choose Add image. You can replace your cluttered home office with a fake background with just a few clicks.Dave Johnson/InsiderQuick tip: You can change your background after the call starts, too. Just right-click your video and click Choose Virtual Background. Use breakout roomsBreakout rooms are a handy way to let small groups collaborate within the framework of a larger meeting. If you're the host, you can send people off to work in breakout rooms. The rooms are easy to configure — within a meeting, click Breakout Rooms in the toolbar at the bottom of the video window (it's usually in the overflow, though, so you probably need to click More and then click Breakout Rooms). You can let Zoom assign people to rooms randomly, let the attendees choose their own rooms, or you can manually put people in rooms as you see fit. Once configured, you can broadcast messages to all the rooms at once and close the rooms, bringing them back to the main meeting whenever you like. Customize your nameNot happy with how your name appears in Zoom meetings? You can fix that — either permanently, or each time you enter a meeting. To permanently change the way your name appears in Zoom meetings, open the Zoom webpage in a browser and sign into your account, if necessary. In the navigation pane on the left, click Profile, and then find your name and photo (if you use one) near the top of the page. Click Edit, adjust your name, and then click Save. Zoom also lets you change your name just for the Zoom call you currently happen to be in. After the call begins, click Participants in the toolbar at the bottom of the window and then, in the pane that opens on the right, find your name. Click the three-dot menu beside your name and click Rename. Adjust your name and then click Change. If you choose to rename yourself in a meeting, that name change only applies to that particular meeting.Dave Johnson/InsiderDraw with a vanishing penWhen you share your screen, you might sometimes want to clarify details or add annotations with a pen or marker, but it's often more trouble than it's worth as the screen fills up with your lines and squiggles, and you need to erase what you've done. There's an easier way: Zoom includes a vanishing pen whose ink fades after a few seconds, so the screen is never cluttered. Finding the tool can be a challenge, though, because Zoom packs multiple options into each drawing tool cubby. Here's what to do: After you share your screen, click Annotate in the toolbar at the top of the screen. In the drawing toolbar, move the mouse over Spotlight, which is in the fifth spot from the left. You should see three tools pop out — choose the one on the right. This is the Vanishing Pen. Now you can draw and anything you do will fade away after a few seconds. The Vanishing Pen is hiding in the same tool cubby as the Spotlight tool.Dave Johnson/InsiderPut everyone in the same room with immersive viewBeing in a Zoom meeting usually feels like you're in a workplace version of Hollywood Squares, but Zoom has another option for you. The service's immersive view lets you arrange everyone in the call in a single virtual room, which can be a fun alternative to the usual grid. If you're the host, click View at the top right of the video window and then choose Immersive. Pick the background image you want to place everyone in and then click Start. Mute your audio by defaultThe last thing you want when you're in a Zoom meeting is to interrupt the flow with a barking dog or crying baby. You can tell Zoom to always start meeting with your microphone muted so you don't have to do it manually. Before the call starts, click your account icon at the top right of the Zoom window and then, in the dropdown menu, choose Settings. In the navigation pane on the left, click Audio, and then scroll down to the bottom of the page. Click the checkbox for Mute my microphone when joining a meeting.  You can start every Zoom meeting with your microphone muted.Dave Johnson/InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT5 hr. 3 min. ago Related News

Ukrainian spies snuck into Russia ahead of the invasion and found a lot of drunk Russian troops had traded supplies for alcohol: report

In many respects, the invasion has been humiliating for the Russian military, which has suffered massive troop and equipment losses. Russian veteran border servicemen pose for a photo with a Soviet sculpture in a fountain of Gorky Park, marking the Border Guards Day, May 28, 2022, in Moscow, Russia.Getty Images Ukrainian spies slipped into Russia ahead of the invasion and saw drunk Russian troops, the Washington Post reported. The troops reportedly traded fuel and other supplies for alcohol, leaving vehicles stranded. The Post's report details how intelligence failures saw Russia's war plans in Ukraine to fall flat.  In the days leading up to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February, Ukrainian spies were sent into Russia to conduct surveillance on the Russian military and encountered "a lot" of drunk soldiers, according to a new Washington Post report.The Russian troops had apparently traded fuel and other supplies for alcohol. "A lot of them were drunk," a Ukrainian official who saw reports from the spies told the Post.Their observations, which also included tank formations without crews or maintainers, suggested that Russia was unprepared for war and reportedly fueled some degree of disbelief among some officials in Ukraine that Russia would actually attempt an invasion. In many ways, as has since been demonstrated, Russia wasn't ready, but it moved forward anyway.The Post's report, which relies heavily on a trove of sensitive materials gathered by Ukrainian officials and other security services, offers intricate details on Russian intelligence failures ahead of the war.Russia began laying the groundwork for an invasion years ago, according to the report, and cultivated a significant network of agents in Ukraine with the ultimate goal of toppling the government and subjugating the former Soviet republic. Prior to the invasion, it was widely believed that if Russia did launch a military incursion it would be able to defeat Ukrainian forces in a matter of days, but that's now how the conflict has played out.The Russian military failed to take Kyiv, as the Ukrainian military put up a much stiffer resistance than many expected. The fight has now lasted nearly six months, with Russia making only incremental progress as the conflict has morphed into a grinding war of attrition. In many respects, the invasion has been humiliating for the Russian military, which has suffered massive troop and equipment losses.Russia's primary spy agency, the FSB, bears much of the responsibility for the failed war plans and the overconfidence that catalyzed the Russian military's ambitious objectives, according to the Post's report. The FSB, for example, reportedly offered the Kremlin misleadingly positive assessments that suggested Ukrainians would welcome Russia with open arms."There was plenty of wishful thinking," a senior Western security official told the Post, adding that the FSB had the sense "there would be flowers strewn in their path." The FSB apparently thought that a rapid assault would quickly bring down the Ukrainian government. But, according to the Post report, FSB officers ultimately ended up retreating from Kyiv alongside Russian troops. Previous reports suggested that Putin received bad intel because his advisors are "too afraid" to give him negative assessments. Individuals who have angered or displeased the Russian leader have at times ended up dying in violent or mysterious ways, while others have landed in prison. "We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisors about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions because his senior advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth," a US official said in late March."Putin," the official said, "didn't even know his military was using and losing conscripts in Ukraine, showing a clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information to the Russian president."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT5 hr. 3 min. ago Related News

The Squeeze Is Over: Goldman Prime Sees A Flood Of New Hedge Fund Shorts

The Squeeze Is Over: Goldman Prime Sees A Flood Of New Hedge Fund Shorts The bear market rally from the mid-June lows was triggered by three key drivers: gradual bullish reversal by the systematic crowd, accelerating buybacks, and a sudden retail frenzy back into the market. But the real catalyst for the meltup was the "apocalyptic" bearish positioning by institutional and hedge fund investors, who were forced to FOMO chase the "most hated rally" higher, accelerating the meltup as they did. This unprecedented bearish bias prompted none other than Michael Hartnett to correctly turn bullish in mid-July citing "Record Pessimism", "Full Investor Capitulation." But far more remarkable was Hartnett's bearish reversal earlier this week, when the BofA chief investment officer correctly timed the spoos peak to within half a tick, urging clients (and ZH readers) to short at 4,328 (which was also the 200DMA). This is what happened then. Well, there's a reason why we call Hartnett (unlike so many of his broken record competitors) Wall Steet's most accurate analyst. But while we hope that readers saved some cash (or made a profit) by timing the bear-market top (for now), it appears that another batch of investors also decided to start shorting... again. According to Goldman Prime, after 4 weeks of relentless short covering unwinds, hedge funds are starting to play more bearish offense, layering new shorts as the GS prime book saw the largest notional net selling in three weeks (1-Year Z score -0.7), driven by short sales outpacing long buys 3 to 1. Here are some more details from the note available to pro subscribers: Overall gross trading activity saw the largest 1-day increase since 6/16 (when SPX fell to YTD lows). While one day does not make a trend, yesterday's activity suggests hedge funds could be starting to play a bit more offense following four straight weeks of risk unwinds. Macro Products (Index and ETF combined) saw the largest notional net selling since mid-July driven entirely by short sales.  US-listed ETF shorts rose +2.0%, the largest 1-day increase in more than two months:  Large Cap Equity, Technology, and Small Cap Equity ETFs were among the most shorted. Single Stocks saw little net activity overall, but flows were risk-on with long buys offset by roughly the same notional amount of short sales.  Consumer Discretionary (short covers), Financials (long buys), and Health Care (long buys) were the most notionally net bought sectors; Comm Svcs (long sales), Info Tech (short sales), and Industrials (short sales) were the most notionally net sold. JPMorgan agree, and in a note from the bank's prime brokerage, writes that following a massive burst of short covering from mid-June, it has suddenly stopped in the past 2 days... oddly around the time Hartnett said to resume shorting. And now that a bunch of potentially bearish events are on deck, we expect the shorting to only accelerate over the next two weeks, at least until through the Jackson Hole symposium next weekend, and the next batch of data on CPI and employment in early September. “Hedge funds may view the June-to-August rally as too far, too fast, and now are licking their chops for another round of downside,” said Mike Bailey, director of research at wealth management firm FBB Capital Partners. “Tactically, markets look a bit feeble at the moment, as investors price in good inflation and Fed news.” Ironically, so hated was this bear market rally, that the new round of shorting takes place even as the previous bearish bets have not been fully unwound, and according to Morgan Stanley there are still a lot of bearish positions outstanding: the bank's data show that in the cash market, while $50 billion has been covered since June, the net amount of added shorts remains elevated, sitting at $165 billion this year. Short interest among single stocks stands in the 84th percentile of a one-year range. “The short base in US equities is still not cleaned up though,” Morgan Stanley wrote in a note. “With short leverage still high, there is more potential for hedge fund short covering.” “Nobody trusts the rally,” said Benjamin Dunn, president of Alpha Theory Advisors. “We could be in for a period of weakness, but by the same token, a lot of people who want to sell have already sold,” he added. “That’s been the problem the last several months in this market. It’s nothing but positioning, almost nothing fundamental.” Still, as Bloomberg notes, shorts unwinding amplified the market upside during the summer lull, but all the caution suggests that the downside risk is likely limited, and as we noted last night... And they're back: "HFs pressing shorts again... US equities saw the largest 1-day increase in gross trading flow since 6/16 driven by short sales" - GS here we go again — zerohedge (@zerohedge) August 19, 2022 ... it sets the stage for the next short covering squeeze the moment the market views Powell's next comments as "pivotish." Tyler Durden Fri, 08/19/2022 - 14:19.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT6 hr. 35 min. ago Related News

How The US Made Inflation Worse

How The US Made Inflation Worse Via Global Macro Monitor, Not a bad primer video from CNBC on the Fed’s policy mistakes, which we all are now, literally, paying for. I would add that monetary policy is a black box, mainly because we can’t define the money supply, much less measure it.  Using your brokerage account to write checks to pay for gas and groceries, for example, shouldn’t it be counted as part of the money supply?  Ditto for crypto, among others Money Quotes: The two following money quotes from the video above could have been lifted straight from the Global Macro Monitor. “If we were actually measuring inflation in a consistent manner, the peaks in the seventies and eighties are actually much more similar to the peak today than we would have initially thought.” See our post,  Today’s Inflation Rate And Nolan Ryan’s Fastball “So I think at this point the Fed has to stick to its guns, even if that means taking speculators down.  And that really is what has scared the Fed in the past.  The Federal Reserve is supposed to make monetary policy in the whole of the public interest, not just that of investors. And this going to be a test of which they have not really had to take since 1981.” We have written many posts on this issue, but see this one, in particular, The New “Supply-Side Economics” Fueling Asset Bubbles Exogenous vs. Endogenous Money Supply  No distinction either between exogenous money (created by the Fed) and endogenous money created by the private sector.  The Fed tries, and we stress, tries to control the endogenous money supply by interest rates and the exogenous money supply by its balance sheet. Endogenous money is primarily created by leverage and is most likely easier to bring inflation down as assets deflate and credit slows. The current inflation we are experiencing was mainly driven by exogenous money – Fed printing- and is much harder to break until quantitative tightening really begins to bite.  Think middle of 2023. So, realize, folks, if asset prices are increasing, such as stocks, with a 10 percent inflation rate, it is inflationary. The Fed has a tiger by the tail, mainly of its own doing, by allowing monetary policy to be, in the words of my good friend, Professor Constantin Gurdgiev, “hijacked by Goldman Sachs and Black Rock.”  Let’s throw in Jim Cramer just for fun. The body politic gets it is unfair, and we see the political angst played out in today’s society. Even a monkey will revolt against unfairness and inequality. Tyler Durden Fri, 08/19/2022 - 14:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYT6 hr. 35 min. ago Related News

No human will fly to the moon on NASA"s Artemis I mission, but mannequins, zero-gravity indicators, and mementos are going along for the ride

The Space Launch System rocket, with the Orion capsule on top, is scheduled to launch on August 29 and take a trip around the moon. Shaun with a model of the Artemis I mission's Orion spacecraft and its European Service Module.ESA/Aardman Mannequins and mementos are taking a trip around the moon in NASA's Orion capsule — without people. The Space Launch System rocket, with the Orion capsule on top, is scheduled to launch on August 29. Artemis I is the first mission in NASA's program to land astronauts on the moon and eventually Mars. While no human will travel aboard the Artemis I mission once it blasts off to the moon, it won't be going empty. Along for the ride in the Orion capsule will be mannequins, zero gravity indicators, artifacts, mementos, and more.NASA is planning to launch its new Space Launch System, with the Orion capsule designed to host astronauts perched atop the rocket, on August 29.It would be a major first step in the space agency's efforts to get humans back to the surface of the moon for the first time since 1972. The SLS mega rocket plans to fly the crew capsule all the way around the moon — farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown — before heading back for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.Here are some of the cool and colorful cargo slated to make the journey to the moon and back.A trio of mannequinsCommander Moonikin Campos will measure the deep space environment around the moon during Artemis 1.NASAStrapped in the commander's seat at the head of the Orion capsule is a human-sized test dummy called Commander Moonikin Campos. The name is a nod to Arturo Campos, an electrical engineer who played a key role in Apollo 13's safe return to Earth.Clad in the new Orion Crew Survival System spacesuit, Commander Moonikin will provide NASA scientists with vital data on what humans experience during a trip to the moon. Two sensors placed behind the commander's seat and under the headrest will record the acceleration and vibration generated throughout the mission, and the mannequin itself is equipped with two sensors to measure radiation exposure."It's critical for us to get data from the Artemis I manikin to ensure all of the newly designed systems, coupled with an energy dampening system that the seats are mounted on, integrate together and provide the protection crew members will need in preparation for our first crewed mission on Artemis II," Jason Hutt, NASA lead for Orion Crew Systems Integration, said in a statement last year.Fitted with more than 5600 sensors, Zohar and Helga will measure the amount of radiation astronauts could be exposed to in future missions.Lockheed MartinTwo other mannequins named Helga and Zohar will ride in Orion's passenger seats.They have torsos made of materials that mimic a woman's soft tissue, organs and bones, along with 5,600 sensors and 34 radiation detectors to measure how much radiation exposure occurs during the mission. The only difference between the two mannequins is that Zohar will be wearing a radiation protection vest, while Helga will not."When it comes to biological effects, different organs have different susceptibility to space radiation. Understanding the impact is very important for successful and sustainable human space exploration efforts," Ramona Gaza, science team lead at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, said at a news briefing on August 17.She added that the team is studying how women experience the space environment "as women in general have a higher risk of developing cancer since they have more radiation-sensitive organs such as breast tissue and ovaries."The space agencies hope studying what these mannequins experience will prepare astronauts planning to fly around the moon on the Artemis 2 mission in 2024, and the Artemis 3 astronauts who eventually land on the moon. Insights from Zohar and Helga will be particularly useful, as the Artemis program aims to send the first woman to the moon.A few cute, zero-gravity indicatorsShaun the Sheep experiencing microgravity on a parabolic flight.ESA/AardmanZero-gravity indicators are small items aboard a spacecraft that serve as a visual indicator that it has entered zero gravity. Artemis I will have a couple of cute indicators.Shaun, of British TV show "Shaun the Sheep" fame, will fly aboard aboard the Artemis I mission in plush doll form."This is an exciting time for Shaun and for us at ESA," David Parker, the European Space Agency's director for human and robotic exploration, said in a statement. "We're woolly very happy that he's been selected for the mission and we understand that, although it might be a small step for a human, it's a giant leap for lambkind."To "train" for the journey, Shaun went on a parabolic flight aboard a special Airbus "Zero G" A310 that creates the weightless condition similar to microgravity.A familiar fuzzy figure will also fly as a zero gravity indicator in the capsule.Snoopy will ride in the Orion capsule and serve as a zero gravity indicator.2021 Peanuts Worldwide LLCSnoopy, the beloved Peanuts character, has long been associated with NASA missions since the Apollo program. In fact, the Apollo 10 lunar module got the nickname "Snoopy" because its job was to snoop around and scout the Apollo 11 landing site on the moon, according to NASA.A plush version of the beagle — wearing a space suit designed according to NASA's strict specifications — will alert the team once the capsule has reached a microgravity environment.Lego figurinesFour Lego Minifigures plan to take a ride around the moon on the Artemis I mission.The figurines also star in Lego's "Build to Launch" series, which was designed in collaboration with NASA, to offer students lessons on different concepts and careers inspired by the Artemis missions."Each minifigure represents a real-life counterpart, such as a command pilot Kate and mission specialist Kyle, to help students better understand the diverse roles, backgrounds, and skillsets within the Artemis I team," Lego Education said in a statement in November of last year.Four LEGO minifigures will ride along on the Artemis I mission.Radislav Sinyak/NASAEarthly plantsNASA aims to set up permanent bases in the moon's orbit and on its surface, paving the way to eventually send astronauts to Mars.Reliably cultivating crops in space will be necessary for would-be space travelers to survive longer missions. To that end, the space agency wants to understand how to grow plants in space for food and oxygen on the moon or during space missions.A variety of tree and plant seeds will be on board Artemis I as part of experiments to study the effects of space radiation on them. According to a statement by Sharmila Bhattacharya, NASA program scientist for space biology, they'll "help us understand a unique aspect of how biological systems can adapt and thrive in deep space.""Gathering information like this and analyzing it after flight will eventually help us paint the full picture of how we can help humans thrive in deep space," Bhattacharya added.Space exploration artifactsThe bolt from one of Apollo 11’s F-1 engines that is included in the Artemis I Official Flight Kit.Smithsonian’s National Air and Space MuseumAs part of Artemis I's Official Flight Kit, which contains about 120 pounds of mementos, several artifacts from previous space missions will be in the Orion spacecraft as it reaches for the moon.A small piece of moon rock from the Apollo 11 mission, an Apollo 11 mission patch, and a bolt from one of Apollo 11's F-1 engines will be along for the ride.Objects of cultural significance will also be on the roundtrip journey, including a 3D-printed replica of the Greek goddess Artemis, and a pebble from the lowest dry land surface on Earth, the shore of the Dead Sea — venturing further than any human has gone before.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYTAug 18th, 2022Related News

I"m Conan O"Brien"s assistant of 13 years. I nap on the job, expense things I shouldn"t, and talk back — and I"ll probably work for him forever.

Sona Movsesian says she's a terrible assistant and doesn't like to be told what to do — and Conan O'Brien is kinda okay with that. Sona Movsesian.Courtesy of Tiffany Roohani Sona Movsesian was an NBC page and landed her assistant job through an internal recommendation. Movsesian says she and Conan have an unusual boss-employee relationship. She shares three important lessons she's learned about working in Hollywood. This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Sona Movsesian, Conan O'Brien's assistant and author of New York Times bestseller "The World's Worst Assistant." It has been edited for length and clarity.I've been Conan O'Brien's assistant since 2009. Of course everyone is replaceable and I could get fired tomorrow, but I feel like I've made myself indispensable in my job — and therefore, I get away with a lot while working for Conan. I push the boundaries of what a normal assistant should or shouldn't do. A lot.So with Conan's blessing (and his foreword), I wrote a book called "The World's Worst Assistant," which is now a New York Times bestseller. There are some very important techniques and bits of advice in there — including how to nap at work, how to watch a feature length film at your desk without alerting your coworkers, or just generally, how to do the most minimal amount of work possible. Could this advice get you fired? Well, yeah. It could. Or your situation could turn out like mine, where you get to write a book about it instead.I didn't always strive to get away with things at work. In fact, when I started out, I was quite the opposite — I worked really hard in my jobs, always striving to impress and go above and beyond. I wanted a career in television, and I was willing to work very hard for it.There was a whole culture when I started out in the entertainment business, that was all about paying your dues and giving yourself completely to your jobs — compromising who you are and what you want to get ahead, get a job, or to make your boss happy.I thought this was what I had to do. Until I started working for Conan.The way I got my job was pretty straightforwardBefore I got the job as Conan's assistant, I was an intern at NBC, and then I was a page. I got a job at NBC after that, and while working there, I heard Conan's show was moving to LA. I remember going to HR and being like, "Hey, I want to work on Conan's show." I didn't have a plan for how I was going to be a part of the show. I just knew I wanted to work on it. The HR department said they'd post jobs in the fall. I checked the website everyday until a PA job was posted. I applied, and surprisingly was brought in to interview as Conan's assistant instead. They had me do a first interview, which was pretty professional and straightforward, and then I had my second interview with Conan and two of the producers. I think that right off the bat, they could see that I was cool under pressure — an important trait for a Hollywood assistant. Plus, right before my interview, the publicist for "Late Night," who I had crossed paths with at NBC, texted Conan and said "Sona's a rock star," or something along those lines. I feel like now he should probably apologize to Conan for lying to him about that. But really, I think that having someone internal vouch for me really took me over the edge towards getting hired.There's a whole world of personal assistants who are ready and willing to go the extra mile: they'll drive to their boss's homes, replenish all of the flowers, scatter rose petals around the bathroom, and fill up the bathtub with lavender…I feel like Conan probably encountered a few of those while he was interviewing, but I was someone who clearly loved television, was familiar with his work, and I think both of us felt like this is something that can really work. The relationship that later developed was definitely unexpected on both our parts. But I've learned some pretty important lessons from Conan in my 13 years as his assistant.1. Being professional is not as useful to a comedian as a sense of humorWhen I look back at my working relationship with Conan when I had just started the job, I remember I was so buttoned up. Conan was always riffing and joking around the office, but there was a very strong mutual professionalism and respect there when I first started. The breaking point of our professional dynamic was about three months into the job — I was talking to my grandma on the phone in Armenian one day. When I hung up, Conan said, "What was that?" I told him I was talking to my grandma — and he said, "Oh, it sounded like you were arguing with Dracula." That was joke number one.He met my dad once and started making jokes about his mustache. His story was that my dad built my brother out of wood because he's Gepetto the puppet maker. A year later, he was telling people that I was born on the island of Armenia and my dad was a goat herder. Apparently, there was an attack and my dad put me in a basket and I floated to this country where I jumped out of a bush while Conan was walking down the street and he thought, "Oh, I'm going to domesticate this person and make her my assistant."It was just riff after riff, after riff. I think that, had I not laughed at the joke he initially made about me arguing with Dracula, our dynamic would've been a lot different — but when I laughed then and at all the other ridiculous things he said about me after that, I think he realized I had a sense of humor. And I acknowledged he really valued having someone around who he could riff off of and make laugh. We both let the professionalism between us chip away. Now there's just none left. Conan went from being just my boss to my friend and surrogate brother — when the dynamic shifted, so did my work ethic.2. Being treated like garbage isn't a requirement to moving up in HollywoodNot only did Conan allow me to be myself early on, he also got a kick out of it — and made sure his audience did too. Appearing on-screen with Conan wasn't something I was necessarily hoping for. It was really organic. Conan's good at using the people around him for comedy. So he started having me in bits on-air. I think the biggest one was one day when I lost my mug, and I wrote a very scathing email to the entire staff, which was a complete abuse of that email list — every single person who worked on the show and everybody from the network, all the executives — everyone. And I was just like, "where is my mug?" And an hour later Conan shows up at my desk and he's got a camera crew. From there, it just became a thing.I think what Conan appreciates about me is that I don't try to ham it up for the camera. I don't really change who I am. I don't have any aspirations of being on camera. I don't have hopes of becoming the next Conan. I think that if all of it ended tomorrow and he wasn't using me for bits or I wasn't on the podcast, I would be fine — and I think that he likes that about me. I also think our dynamic is just fun to watch. When you put a camera on it, people are like, that can't be real. And then when they realize that it's real, they're curious. I think what fascinates people is that authority is a complicated concept in Conan's and I's dynamic. He's the boss — he hired me, he pays me, and ultimately he can fire me. But at times, I really don't act like it. I talk back to him. I forget important things. I tend to disregard things he feels are important. But ultimately, Conan knows I'd do anything for him or his family, and that he can trust me.My job is to make sure Conan has what he needs and is where he's supposed to be when he's supposed to be somewhere. I don't have to have the boss-assistant relationship with him that everyone expects in order to do that. And Conan knows he doesn't have to treat me like the back of a human centipede for me to do that either. 3. I don't need to move 'up' from being an assistant. I have everything I want in a job, right hereI don't know how I got off the ambition wagon, but I'm grateful that I did. When I first started, I was like a lot of people. I wanted to take over the network. I wanted to work in development or programming or scheduling or research — I wanted to run the show, and I thought, "I'm going to take over television." Then I saw a lot of people who were in that position. I'm not going to say that executives don't love their jobs. I'm sure they do. But I also think they feel like they're constantly on the chopping block. I think they constantly feel as though people want their jobs, or if new management comes in, they're going to restructure everything and they won't have their jobs anymore.None of that was appealing to me. I wanted to be happy at work and not have to feel that fear and pressure. When I got my job on the "Tonight Show," I loved going to work every week. There are so many people who dread going into work on Monday. I've never felt that working for Conan. I started to realize how special that was, and how valuable it was. I'm working with, in my opinion, the funniest person on television, and I'm working on a show that I'm proud of. I realized I didn't need to keep looking for the next thing. I think I will be Conan's assistant until he dies — I'm going to ride this wave for as long as I can.Some years ago, I would've thought it was crazy that I was still an assistant. Most people don't think of an assistant job in entertainment as a forever-job. There are, of course, people who are career assistants, but I never looked at myself as that person. But I'm working with people that I love, Conan asks me for my opinions on things, and everything that I wanted out of a job is in this role. I don't want to go anywhere else. I don't know if it's a lack of ambition — I think my ambition just changed to something else. My old self (in my NBC page days) would look at me and think, wait — you're still an assistant? But then my page self would look at me and say, wait — you wrote a book and you finished it? You're on the New York Times best-seller list? That was never on the vision board. You're on a podcast? Do you even know what a podcast is? I never could have envisioned myself ending up here when I was a page, and that's a good thing. Keeping an open mind has served me well. If I could inspire even one person to quit a job that makes them miserable, I'd be happy I think a big part of why I'm lucky is because I was able to go with the flow. I had family around, so if I didn't like a job, I had the privilege to leave it and have financial and emotional support to do so. I know a lot of people aren't in that position, and I get that. But I do want to be able to empower people to leave miserable jobs — and that's one of the goals of my book.I think that whether you're a Hollywood assistant or you work at a local grocery store, everyone just wants to work with people who treat them with respect, and be compensated properly.Unfortunately if you want to work in an industry that's as competitive as television, whether or not you get that is going to come down to luck. Alternatively, if it doesn't work out, you can read my book for tips and tricks on how to abuse your corporate card without technically embezzling. Or how to leverage your pregnancy at work. But I really hope that people will read "The World's Worst Assistant" and see that there are exceptions to what they think is the rule for this industry, and I hope that they start to demand more for themselves.If you work in Hollywood and would like to share your story, email Eboni Boykin-Patterson at eboykinpatterson@insider.com.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: NYTAug 18th, 2022Related News