Lingerie brand condemns "non-consensual boob-grabbing" after "creepy" ad referencing Ryan Reynolds receives backlash

The controversial ad describes a hypothetical scenario involving A-lister Ryan Reynolds "gently holding up your breasts and whispering in your ear." Harper Wilde's since-deleted Instagram post was quickly re-uploaded to Twitter as social media users questioned the content.Harper Wilde/Instagram Alex Livesey/Danehouse/Getty Images Lingerie brand Harper Wilde is getting slammed for a recent ad mentioning Ryan Reynolds. The brand apologized the day after the ad's debut, providing critics with more context. According to a company statement, the ad came from a real review left by customer. Los Angeles-based lingerie brand Harper Wilde apologized on Monday after some social media users slammed the company for a particularly questionable ad featuring Ryan Reynolds. Last Friday, the company shared a sponsored post on Instagram that compared the support of its bras to the "Deadpool" star hypothetically holding one's breasts. Twitter users wasted little time reposting screenshots of the since-deleted post and sharing critiques of the marketing strategy."This bra is like if Ryan Reynolds was gently holding up your breasts and whispering in your ear that you are doing a good job ... honestly," the now-deleted post read, according to reports.—Kira Puru (@kirapuru) January 30, 2023"@VancityReynolds can you confirm that a bra company took the necessary measures to ensure we receive the Blake experience," one user wrote to Reynolds, referencing his wife Blake Lively, according to the New York Post.While some users poked fun at the advertisement, others weren't so amused by Harper Wilde suggesting sexual contact with a stranger.Harper Wilde did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment, though the women-led brand took to its official Twitter account last weekend to provide context for the ad, claiming it does "not condone creepy non-consensual boob-grabbing of any kind."—Harper Wilde (@harperwilde) January 29, 2023The company provided a more in-depth statement on the issue in a Monday post on Reddit, stating the comment about the A-list actor was made by a customer leaving a review about that the company used as part of a larger campaign. "Hi! For context, this is actually a review by a real customer originally meant to run with a series of other reviews — we thought it was cheeky enough to run as an ad, but the attribution was cut off at the bottom by the ad interface (original ad series attached)," the statement on Reddit read.The company provided a full view of the ad and others like it for additional context.In addition to its statement online, Harper Wilde provided examples of other review ads it planned to run as part of the campaign with correct attributions.Harper Wilde/Reddit"The core of our brand is ultimately about designing bras by boob-havers for boob-havers while divesting from the male gaze. While we clearly have customers who are straight women, this single review doesn't represent our entire brand," the company wrote in its Reddit statement.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytFeb 3rd, 2023

Who is MrBeast? Meet the 24-year-old YouTube star who"s famous for giving away millions of dollars to strangers.

MrBeast's ambitious challenges and money giveaways helped grow his YouTube channel to 131 million subscriber. See how he got his start. MrBeast, aka Jimmy Donaldson.Jeff Cheatham/HCK2 MrBeast is one of the most-viewed YouTubers thanks to his attention-grabbing stunts. He recently made waves with a video where he 'cured' 1,000 people's blindness with cataract eye surgery  See how the 24-year-old got his start making online videos.  At 24 years old, Jimmy Donaldson, also known as MrBeast, is one of the most-viewed and highest-paid creators on YouTube.His early viral videos included challenging feats like reading every word in the dictionary or counting from 0 to 100,000 for 40 straight hours. Lately, he's become known for his stunt philanthropy, giving away money or committing acts of kindness and filming it for content. Recently, Donaldson uploaded a video "curing" 1,000 people's blindness by paying for eye surgeries. His ambitious challenges and money giveaways have helped him grow his channel to roughly 131 million subscribers, the most in YouTube's history. Check out more on MrBeast's rise to fame:MrBeast was born as Jimmy Donaldson on May 7, 1998.Greenville, North Carolina.Hi-Tech Hikers/YouTubeThe YouTube star and his brother, CJ, grew up in eastern North Carolina in the city of Greenville. In 2016, he graduated from Greenville Christian Academy, a private high school in the area.Source: Business North CarolinaDonaldson uploaded his first YouTube in February 2012, when he was just 13 years old.MrBeast in a video in 2015.MrBeast/YouTubeThe teenager began his YouTube career posting videos under the username "MrBeast6000." For the first few years, Donaldson attempted, unsuccessfully, to master the YouTube algorithm by creating the content he thought would attract the largest audience.Source: Newsweek, Casey Neistat on YouTubeAs MrBeast attempted to game YouTube's algorithm, the aspiring YouTuber went through stages of trends on his channel: funny compilations of playing "Minecraft" and "Call of Duty," estimating YouTubers' wealth, offering tips and tricks to aspiring creators, and commentating on YouTuber drama. MrBeast himself made very few appearances in his videos in the early days.MrBeast playing "Call of Duty" on his channel in 2014.MrBeast/YouTubeSource: NewsweekMrBeast started to gain a following in 2015 and 2016 thanks to his "worst intros" series of videos, which rounded up and poked fun at YouTuber introductions he discovered on the platform. By mid-2016, MrBeast hit 30,000 subscribers.MrBeast/YouTubeSource: MrBeast on YouTubeIn late 2016, MrBeast enrolled in college. The YouTuber said he lasted only two weeks before he dropped out, telling his mom: "I'd rather be poor than do anything besides YouTube." His mom made him move out of his childhood home North Carolina at 18 because "she loves me and just wanted me to be successful," MrBeast later said.MrBeast/YouTubeSource: MrBeast on TwitterMrBeast first went viral in January 2017, when he uploaded a video showing himself counting to 100,000 — which he later revealed took him 44 hours. "I just really wanted it," MrBeast later said about the challenge. "I had dropped out of college, I wasn't really making much. I knew it would go viral."MrBeast/YouTubeSource: Casey Neistat on YouTubeAfter that first video went viral, MrBeast found what the YouTube algorithm liked. He quickly amassed more views with similar stunts, like spinning a fidget spinner for 24 hours and watching Jake Paul's "It's Everyday Bro" music video for 10 hours straight. By November 2017, MrBeast reached 1 million subscribers.Casey Neistat/YouTubeSource: MrBeast on TwitterNow, MrBeast has a few types of videos that serve as his bread-and-butter on his channel.MrBeast, left, watching over a challenge competing for $1 million.MrBeast/YouTubeHe still puts on exhausting, hours-long stunts — which have been referred to as "junklord YouTube" — as well as last-person-to-leave challenges in which he gives out thousands of dollars. These videos' titles range from "Going Through the Same Drive Thru 1,000 Times" to "Last To Remove Hand, Gets Lamborghini Challenge."Source: The VergeMrBeast also puts on attention-grabbing donations and charity stunts.MrBeast donating $10,000 to a Twitch streamer with 0 views.MrBeast/YouTubeHe once opened up a car dealership where he gave out cars for free, and is known to dole out thousands of dollars to small streamers on Twitch and YouTube, as well as to waitresses and Uber drivers in person.As Donaldson has grown his channel, he was able to hire four of his childhood friends — Chris, Chandler, Garret, and Jake — to work for him and his YouTube channel.MrBeast/YouTubeThe group often makes cameos in some of MrBeast's wildest last-person-to-leave challenges, and each one has become an iconic name in the MrBeast empire.Source: NewsweekBy December 2018, MrBeast had given out $1 million through his outlandish stunts, earning him the title of "YouTube's biggest philanthropist."MrBeast/YouTubeMrBeast is a product of his own viral content: He's only able to give out these thousands of dollars thanks to six-figure brand deals to fund in-video ads.Source: MrBeast on YouTubeMrBeast has been credited with helping to launch a new style of expensive stunt videos on YouTube in which creators pull off elaborate challenges and large-scale sponsored giveaways.MrBeastMrBeast/YouTubeSource: The VergeHowever, MrBeast's success hasn't come without controversy.MrBeast/YouTubeIn 2018, The Atlantic unearthed a series of old, since-deleted tweets from MrBeast in which he uses homophobic slurs and the idea of being gay as a punchline for jokes. At the time of the article, his Twitter bio read: "just because I'm gai doesn't mean I'm gay." MrBeast defended himself as "not offensive in the slightest bit in anything I do."Source: The AtlanticMrBeast has also been accused of giving away fake money after critics found that bills used in a November 2019 video were not of legal tender.Casey Neistat/YouTubeMrBeast later said he gave out fake bills to mitigate the risk of a dangerous rush of people clamoring over free money, and claimed he later exchanged the fake bills with real checks for people in the video.Source: DexertoOver the years, MrBeast has revealed a few details about his life.MrBeast has 128 million subscribers on YouTube.Lex Fridman via YouTubeThe 22-year-old has shared that he has Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. In June 2019, MrBeast first shared on Instagram he was dating Maddy Spidell. "i don't want mr beast for his money, just want a bf with good taste in anime who can make me laugh," Spidell wrote on Twitter the month before. We are simple people. We see a new pewdiepie video, we watch it. A post shared by MrBeast (@mrbeast) on Jun 16, 2019 at 12:17pm PDTJun 16, 2019 at 12:17pm PDT Source: Maddy Spidell on TwitterIn late 2018, MrBeast harnessed his notoriety for elaborate stunts to throw his support behind PewDiePie, the popular YouTuber who was locked in a battle for the spot as the most-subscribed-to YouTube channel (a title he's since lost to T-Series).Getty Images; YouTube; Getty ImagesIn true form, MrBeast pulled out all the stops: he recorded a 12-hour video saying "PewDiePie" 100,000 times, and turned up at the Super Bowl in "Sub 2 PewDiePie" shirts.Source: Business InsiderIn late 2019, MrBeast launched — and successfully completed — a fundraising campaign called #TeamTrees to plant 20 million trees by the end of the year.YouTube/MrBeastThe campaign gathered the support of more than 600 influencers and received donations from tech execs like Elon Musk and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and YouTube stars like Jeffree Star and PewDiePie.Source: Business Insider, Team TreesMrBeast was one of the most-viewed creators on all of YouTube in 2020.MrBeast uses popular keywords like "24-Hour" in his videos.MrBeast/YouTubeHe's accrued more than 10 million views on every video he's uploaded in the past two years, displaying just how successful he is at going viral. YouTube put him as the top creator of 2020, beating out other viral sensations like Dream and James Charles. His net worth isn't publicly available, but he's said that most of his $1 million donations are funded by brand deals.Source: Business Insider, MrBeast on Twitter, The Verge2020 was a big year for MrBeast, with two of the largest collaborations that he's ever attempted on his channel.YouTube/MrBeastStreamed in April 2020, Donaldson gathered 32 of the world's biggest influencers to take part in a Rock/Paper/Scissors competition for $250,000. That stream was watched 38 million times in under a year but he wasn't content with just one event.  In October of that year, he put on a $300,000 influencer trivia tournament that was won by the D'Amelio family. Mild controversy broke out after some online accused the family of cheating by having multiple people take part in the contest.  Source: YouTube, InsiderAs he gained fans, MrBeast's videos also grew more ambitious. His average cost of making a video climbed from $10,000 to $300,000 by Bloomberg He also launched his own charity organization in late 2020 called Beast Philanthropy. Its website says it's committed to providing "long-lasting relief to individuals suffering from homelessness, hunger, and poverty."Beast PhilanthropyIn December 2020, MrBeast opened up a restaurant that would pay people to eat at it. Weeks later, he launched his own MrBeast Burger franchise in dozens of cities.Donaldson and his first MrBeast burger locationYouTube/MrBeastDonaldson opened up over 300 delivery-only locations across the United States, allowing fans the chance to order a MrBeast burger from an app or UberEats. Source: MashedIn 2021, MrBeast has continued uploading outlandish and expensive videos.In 2020, MrBeast continued making outlandish and expensive videos.MrBeast/YouTubeDonaldson's most recent 2021 videos have him buying all the items in five stores and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on expensive food. Source: YouTubeIn February 2021, Donaldson made a guest appearance on the Clubhouse app causing it to crash.YouTubeDonaldson spoke on the app about how to succeed on YouTube, which brought in a massive influx of new downloads and users for the app, causing it to crash. In April of that year, he faced backlash from some fans who accused him of collaborating in a "pump and dump scheme" after he promoted the cryptocurrency "Refinable," which quickly crashed after its launch.(Photo illustration by Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images)Source: New York TimesIn May 2021, past employees of Donaldson told The New York Times that he created a "hostile work environment" and that he made "unreasonable demands."MrBeast / YouTube11 employees shared their experience with the NY Times, with the outlet saying that Donaldson's "demeanor changed when the cameras weren't around." Source: The NY TimesIn 2021, MrBeast surpassed 53 million YouTube subscribers. He also revealed that he strives for perfection with his videos — to the extent he already scrapped at least three videos in 2020 that he spent $100,000 on producing.Jeff Cheatham/HCK2Source: DexertoIn January 2022, MrBeast was ranked the highest paid YouTube star by Forbes for the first time. The publication estimated that he earned $54 million in 2021, more than celebs like Billie Eilish and Kim Kardashian.Kim Kardashian's Skims campaign includes two "The White Lotus" actresses.Jordan Strauss/Associated PressSource: ForbesIn July 2022, MrBeast hit another milestone: he became the second YouTube creator to hit 100 million subscribers on YouTube after PewDiePie.MrBeast and PewDiePie.Roy Rochlin/Getty Images and Pewdiepie via YouTube.By November, he surpassed Pewdiepie's subscribers. MrBeast now has 131 million subscribers on YouTube, more than any other creator on the platform.MrBeast hit 111 million subscribers on November 11.Dave Kotinsky and Karwai Tang/Getty Images.In September 2022, MrBeast revealed that he was offered $1 billion for his content empire but turned it down.Donaldson appeared on an episode of The Iced Coffee Podcast posted on September 27.The Iced Coffee Hour via YouTubeSource: InsiderThat same month, he opened the first physical location of Beast Burger in New Jersey. Thousands of people showed up on the opening day.Beast Burger opening in New JerseyMrBeastSource: NJ.comIn October of last year, MrBeast began speaking to investors, looking to raise $150 million for his YouTube and food business at a $1.5 billion valuation.Jimmy Donaldson (MrBeast).Virtual Dining Concepts.Source: AxiosIn December, MrBeast tweeted, "Can I be the new Twitter CEO?" Elon Musk, who owns Twitter, responded, "It's not out of the question."Donaldson has previously described Musk as one of his biggest inspirations.Vivien Killilea and Gotham/Getty Images.MrBeast has said he looks up to Musk. "I really want to be Elon one day," he wrote on Twitter in 2020.In January 2023, MrBeast said he plans to give away "every penny" before he dies.Dave Kotinsky"No matter how big I get I'll never own a mansion, yacht, Lamborghini etc. All I want is to make the best videos possible and help as many people as I can while doing it," he once said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytFeb 2nd, 2023

How M&M’s Became the Latest Flash Point in the Culture Wars

The revamped ‘spokescandies’ drew fire from Fox News commentators and even prompted a petition M&M’s says it is abandoning its colorful candy mascots because they are too “polarizing” for Americans to handle these days. The ubiquitous chocolate characters—which have been the face of M&M’s for years—didn’t say anything controversial. But they became the focus of a partisan backlash after the brand, owned by Mars Inc., made a number of stylistic tweaks to its cast of “spokescandies” last year to be more inclusive. Right-wing commentators began criticizing the campaign, with Fox News host Tucker Carlson devoting time during multiple segments to decry the popular candy as “Woke M&M’s.” Now the brand is moving in a new direction, the company said in an announcement posted on social media. The “spokescandies” are on “an indefinite pause” and actress Maya Rudolph will become the new face of M&M’s—someone the brand said “America can agree on.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] But the decision to put a temporary pause on the iconic mascots drew its own share of criticism from fans and branding experts alike. Some also questioned whether it had all been an elaborate stunt to capitalize on a low-stakes internet controversy. “What M&M’s is showing is that it’s going to back down from what it stands for if it receives a lot of negative criticism,” says Deb Gabor, the CEO of Sol Marketing, a branding agency. “It’s becoming increasingly important to people that they know what brands stand for when they throw down their support.” The M&M’s controversy could serve as a lesson for other brands. “There’s an old saying—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” says Steven Fink, a crisis consultant and author of Crisis Communications: The Definitive Guide to Managing the Message. “I suggest they make it a permanent pause. They should go back to doing whatever they were doing before because nobody was paying any attention to it until they started this nonsense—unless the new characters had increased their sales.” Here’s how we got here. ‘Even A Candy’s Shoes Can Be Polarizing’ As it turns out, not everyone can agree on what kind of shoes an M&M cartoon character should wear. Courtesy M&M’sM&M’s became the focus of a partisan backlash after the brand made a number of stylistic tweaks to its cast of “spokescandies” last year. In January 2022, the brand replaced the green M&M’s knee-high boots with flats and swapped the brown M&M’s stilettos for lower heels. It also announced that the orange M&M would embrace his anxiety; he would even start tying his shoelaces—moves many celebrated as more progressive. But others saw the revamp as an affront. “M&M’s will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous until the moment when you wouldn’t want to have a drink with any one of them,” Carlson remarked on Fox. “That’s the goal. When you’re totally turned off, we’ve achieved equity. They’ve won.” M&M’s addressed the cosmetic tweaks in a statement on Monday, telling fans it hadn’t expected people to even notice the initial changes. “We definitely didn’t think it would break the internet,” the brand said. “But now we get it—even a candy’s shoes can be polarizing.” ‘Uplifting and Empowering Women’ The chocolate candies generated more buzz in right-wing circles this month after M&M’s introduced a new purple character to its roster and added it to a limited edition all-female character branded pack intended to “celebrate women everywhere who are flipping the status quote.” Mars, Inc. said that a portion of profits would go to organizations that are “uplifting and empowering women,” including She Is The Music and We Are Moving the Needle, two nonprofit organizations that support women in the music industry. “Woke M&M’s have returned,” Carlson declared on his show in mid-January. “The green M&M’s got her boots back but apparently is now a lesbian, maybe, and there is also a plus-sized, obese purple M&M. So we’re going to cover that, of course. Because that’s what we do.” Courtesy M&M’sThe original red and yellow M&M’s, both male, have been used in the brand’s advertising campaigns since 1954. A purple female M&M was added in 2022. Mars, Inc. has not specified the sexual orientation of the green M&M, while the purple M&M appears to be the shape of its peanut flavored candies, which are typically larger, like the original yellow character. More than 20,000 people have signed an online petition to “keep the green M&M sexy.” Other right-wing figures weighed in on the drama, too. One even claimed that the brand’s attempt at inclusivity emboldens China. “If this is what you need for validation, an M&M that is the color that you think is associated with feminism, then I’m worried about you,” Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum said earlier this month. “I think that makes China say, ‘Oh, good, keep focusing on that. Keep focusing on giving people their own color M&M’s while we take over all of the mineral deposits in the entire world.’” “When I eat a bag of M&M’s, do I wonder which color and shape best represents my identity? No, because it’s f—ing chocolate,” Fox News host Greg Gutfeld said in January 2022. “If you really truly want to make an M&M feel like they belong, you probably shouldn’t be eating them. I mean, what kind of message does it send to children when you devour these non-binary bonbons?” M&M’s Response In response, the brand said on Monday that the polarized reaction to the rebrand was “the last thing M&M’s wanted,” emphasizing its focus on bringing people together. “Therefore, we have decided to take an indefinite pause from the spokescandies.” The mascots had been used in the brand’s advertising campaigns since 1954. Older M&M’s commercials featured Red and Yellow, representing regular and peanut M&M’s. New characters and colors joined the crew in the 1990s. A message from M&M'S. — M&M'S (@mmschocolate) January 23, 2023 Rudolph, the new M&M spokesperson, will represent the brand in a Super Bowl ad on Feb. 12, the actress announced on Monday’s TODAY Show. “There are other ways to get attention that are more long term and aligned with the brand,” Gabor says. “This doesn’t feel like a stunt. It feels like they stepped in something they didn’t like, and they backtracked.” “It’s a really hard time to be a brand and navigate these things,” Gabor added. “We have a very, very polarized society … And I always tell our clients that actions speak louder than marketing.” Carlson touched on the subject again during his show Monday night, after the U-turn was announced. “Well the geniuses at the Mars Corporation imagine you might want to be lectured about sexual politics while you eat their chocolate candies. It turns out a lot of people didn’t want that, they just wanted the snack,” he said. Mars, Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for a comment......»»

Category: topSource: timeJan 24th, 2023

Prince Harry says he loves shopping at TK Maxx. We visited the UK store and its US sibling, T.J. Maxx, to see how they compare and found striking similarities.

Both brands are owned by TJX Companies, a discount department store company which has more than 4,700 locations around the world. Insider visited TK Maxx in the UK and T.J. Maxx in the US to get a closer look inside the TJX-owned brands.Grace Dean/Insider; Dominick Reuter/Insider Prince Harry said in his memoir he loves shopping at TK Maxx, UK's answer to T.J. Maxx in the US. Both brands are owned by TJX Companies, which has more than 4,700 discount stores around the world. Insider visited a T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin, and a TK Maxx in northern England and despite the distance, found many similarities. Prince Harry said in his memoir, "Spare," that he loves shopping at TK Maxx, and he has previously been photographed visiting the discount fashion chain. Princess Kate, his sister-in-law, is also a fan of the store.Prince Harry speaking in the Netflix docuseries "Harry & Meghan."NetflixSources: Insider, TK Maxx on TwitterTK Maxx is the European sister company of T.J. Maxx. They're both owned by TJX Companies.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderSource: TJX CompaniesIt all began in Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1976 with T.J. Maxx, and the group of discount department stores has since grown to own brands like Marshall's, Sierra, and HomeGoods. In total, TJX has more than 4,700 locations around the world.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderTK Maxx arrived in the UK in 1994. It changed its name to avoid being confused with the UK-based discount department-store chain TJ Hughes.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderSource: InsiderTK Maxx's parent company calls the chain "the only brick-and-mortar, off-price apparel and home fashions retailer of significant size in Europe." TK Maxx also has stores in Germany, Poland, Austria, the Netherlands, and Australia.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderSource: TJX CompaniesAs of October, TK Maxx had just over 600 stores in Europe, while T.J. Maxx had close to 1,300 in the US. Insider visited a TK Maxx in northern England...The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderSource: TJX Companies...and a T.J. Maxx in Wisconsin: Here's what we saw while visiting two stores separated by both a single letter — and the Atlantic Ocean.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderThe city center TK Maxx in Leeds, northern England, was a vast store.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderT.J. Maxx was similarly vast — larger than it would seem from outside — but well-lit and comfortably spaced.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderIn Leeds the focus was clear: Famous brands and heavy discounts. Signs throughout the space emphasized low prices and big names.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThe store used slogans like "when it's gone it's gone" to create a notion of scarcity and push customers to buy quickly.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThere did appear to be some great savings in the UK store. This Moncrief bag was labeled with a recommended retail price of £1,500 ($1,830), but was on sale for £249.99 ($305).The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderMeantime, a puzzlingly sparse display of cross-body bags stood across from an otherwise well-supplied array of purses and handbags at the US store.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderBack at the UK store, clothes are sorted into categories like skirts, shirts, and dresses, and then displayed according to size. But if you find an item that you like that doesn't fit you, it can be a bit tricky to know whether the store stocks it in other sizes.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThe US store was similarly grouped, with color-coded collars on hangers and bar dividers delineating the sizes of women's apparel on clearance.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderThe UK displays felt a little bit lackluster. Whereas other fashion stores may use things like fun signs, lighting, mannequins, plants, and furniture to jazz up their displays, TK Maxx seemed content to just let the clothes do the talking.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThere were some non-clothing items dotted throughout the womenswear – and a selection of yoga mats and dumbbells among the sportswear.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderSome of the apparel was also sorted into two specific ranges: Mod Box, which generally targets younger shoppers ...The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/Insider... and Gold Label, which was full of high-end clothes.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderAnd woven throughout the store were rows and rows of clearance racks, too.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderAt some points, it was hard to tell which items were cheap because they were specifically being reduced to clear inventory versus ones that were cheap just because that's TK Maxx's selling style.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThe section dedicated to shoes was huge, and featured brands including Adidas, Fila, Levi's, Birkenstock, and Alexander McQueen.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderBut they too were sorted by size rather than item type, which meant that sneakers, heels, and rain boots were all jumbled together.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderMost shoes were straight on the shelves, but some were kept in boxes, which seems a bit impractical for shoppers. Because of the way that TK Maxx sorts its items according to size, you have no idea what might be in the boxes until you open them.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThe US store had restocking bins standing throughout the store, but those were typically pushed well enough to the side so as not to interrupt shopping.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderPlus, there were plenty of staff actively putting items on shelves and racks, so it didn't appear as though the bins were forgotten.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderThe one crowded area was in the bath section at the rear of the store, where several restocking carts had been shoved into a corner.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderSome of the UK store's lingerie section seemed a bit uninspired ...The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/Insider... though we did spot some very cute nightwear from a brand we'd never heard of.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThere was also a makeup and beauty section. Some parts of this looked very neat ...The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace/Dean... but the makeup display, in particular, was quite messy. Some of the boxes had been opened and some products had leaked onto the counter.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThere were also lots of perfumes on sale, but because they were all in security boxes you couldn't see what they smelled like. We didn't spot any testers.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace/DeanBut we spotted some odd products, like this snail soap ...The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace/Dean... and some boob lotion.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThere were quite a few festive items from The Body Shop on sale, which surprised Insider reporter Grace Dean, who can't recall seeing the brand's items on sale in any third-party stores before. Other brands TK Maxx had to offer in its beauty and makeup section included Essie, Revlon, Wella, Elf, Maybelline, and Max Factor.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace/DeanThere was a whole host of electronics, too, including things like hair styling tools and hairdryers.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace/DeanOf course, there were a lot of items labeled as "final clearance," too.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderSeveral stands, like this one for accessories at the US store, had been pretty worked over by customers inspecting products.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderThe US store's jewelry case, located near the dressing rooms, had a fairly thin selection of products.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderThe UK store also boasted a jewelry counter, next to some of the Gold Label displays.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderAn escalator in the UK store took you downstairs to men's clothing, kid's products, and homeware. Strangely, the first things you encountered when exiting the escalator were boxes of underwear.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThey all had security tags on, too.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThe men's underwear section at the US store was similarly well organized, though it did not have the security tags seen in the UK.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderThe UK menswear section seemed relatively neat.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThere were mirrors at the end of almost every rack of clothing, which made it easy if shoppers wanted to check if a color suited them or try on a jacket without heading to the fitting rooms.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace/DeanWe spotted a range of brands throughout the store, including Superdry, Michael Kors, and Adidas. In particular, there seemed to be a lot of Alexander McQueen, DKNY, and Moschino items.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderIn one corner there was a big display of suitcases and travel bags, featuring brands like Guess, Juicy Couture, Dune, and Polo by Ralph Lauren.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThe luggage section at the US store was just to the left of the main entrance, and all departments were on the same level.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderThe kids' section boasted a range of designer brands, like Balmain, Juicy Couture, Polo by Ralph Lauren, French Connection, and DKNY. There were also some items designed by Jessica Simpson – the first time we'd ever noticed her items on sale in the UK.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThe store had an extensive homeware section – a bit of a surprise because it was located just yards from a Homesense store, which is owned by the same parent company and focuses solely on interiors. Some of the displays were very attractive ...The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace/Dean... including these cushions arranged by color. This was probably the neatest section of the store – likely because fewer customers browse through these items and move them around, unlike with clothes and shoes.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThe fake-plants shelf at the US store was arranged especially neatly, with a nice eye for color and balance.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderThe UK store also had a stand of fake flowers near lots of candles and photo frames.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderConsidering there were some beautiful items up for grabs, it was surprising that TK Maxx chose to highlight a range of household cleaning products in one of its end-cap displays.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace/DeanThe US store also devoted a surprisingly wide area in the center of the sales floor to displaying furniture and other housewares.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderThere were also some homeware items you probably wouldn't think of coming to TK Maxx for, like an angle grinder, various fluids for cleaning your car, and some general cleaning products like drain unblocker.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderAs ever, though, the food section proved to be the most enjoyable. It was host to a whole range of items, including pasta, tea, coffee, olive oil, cereal bars, and much, much more.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderTK Maxx is the store to visit for a fun-flavored coffee syrup. Most UK supermarkets only carry a few flavors, if any at all.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThroughout this floor of the store, too, there were hundreds of clearance items ...The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/Insider... including many left over from Christmas.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderSome of the items seemed unsellable – like this pile of makeup advent calendars, many of which had items missing.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderIn-season items, like these Valentine's wreaths were prominently displayed in the US store ahead of the February holiday...T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/Insider... along with Valentine's kitchenware and pillows.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderSeasonal candies and decor near the front register at T.J. MaxxT.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderIn the UK we spotted some books, too – hadn't realized that TK Maxx sold fiction, but lo and behold, we found a collection of Oscar Wilde novels.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderSome of the clearance sections were very jumbled, though.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThe store also had some quite large, bulky non-apparel items, like these children's toys. There was a mini ice-cream truck and a play tent.The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThe children's toy selection in the US store was pleasantly full and varied without being cluttered...T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/Insider... though it's easy to imagine much of that ending up in disarray after a toddler or two have passed through.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderDean, who last visited the UK store around 15 months ago, found a marked improvement since then. "Compared to the TK Maxx stores I remembered growing up – which always seemed something like a yard sale with their collection of random items in random sizes – this store actually seemed pretty tidy."The TK Maxx store in Leeds.Grace/DeanAll in all, the stores were strikingly consistent with one another, in spite of the distance and the letter.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderAdditionally, both locations appeared tidier and better stocked than we've seen from the brand in past years. No wonder Prince Harry is a fan.T.J. Maxx in Madison, Wisconsin.Dominick Reuter/InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 17th, 2023

You may think Twitter was wrong to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story but it wasn"t a violation of the First Amendment

Twitter's handling of the Hunter Biden story and other content moderation sparked outcry about the First Amendment, but Twitter is not the government. In this photo illustration, the image of Elon Musk is displayed on a computer screen and the logo of twitter is reflected in Ankara, Turkiye on October 06, 2022.Muhammed Selim Korkutata / Anadolu Agency via Getty Journalist Matt Taibbi on Friday published new details about Twitter's content moderation decisions. Fox News pundits and Elon Musk described the decisions as violations of the First Amendment. Twitter, as a private company and not the government, can choose what it does and does not publish. Twitter's suppression of a story about Hunter Biden's laptop has come under increased scrutiny in the two years since it was published, especially as additional news outlets have verified some of the laptop's contents. But whether or not the decision was wrong, it wasn't a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution.On October 14, 2020, one month before the election, the New York Post published a story that claimed to include materials taken from a laptop that belonged to Joe Biden's son Hunter. Twitter quickly suppressed the distribution of the story, initially blocking users from sharing the link, citing concerns it could be the result of hacking or a foreign disinformation campaign.Twitter backtracked on its initial response within days after receiving heavy backlash, and former CEO Jack Dorsey and others from the company have said the initial decision to block the story from being shared was wrong. Since the story's publication, outlets including The New York Times and The Washington Post have confirmed the authenticity of some of the laptop's contents.After taking over Twitter in October, Elon Musk promised to release details about the company's handling of the story. On Friday, Matt Taibbi, an independent journalist, published a lengthy Twitter thread that included internal communications about the decision-making process.Taibbi also reported that Twitter received and granted requests from both the Trump White House and the Biden campaign to remove content. At least some of the posts the Biden campaign requested be removed included nude photos that would have violated Twitter's terms of service under its non-consensual nudity policy.Musk, who said this year he voted Republican for the first time, quickly criticized the Biden team."Twitter acting by itself to suppress free speech is not a 1st amendment violation, but acting under orders from the government to suppress free speech, with no judicial review, is," Musk wrote, despite the fact that the Biden campaign was a private entity, and therefore not the government.But regardless of what Musk or pundits on Fox News assert — or whether or not the decision to suppress the story was right or ethical — Twitter's actions were not a violation of the First Amendment.Congress shall make no law..."The clear answer, the 100 percent clear answer, is no," Doron Kalir, a professor at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, told Insider. "Twitter is not a state actor and the First Amendment applies only to state actors."The actual text of the amendment states it plainly: "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."Congress. Which courts have established extends to the government at all federal, state, and local levels. So whether or not Twitter could violate the First Amendment, depends on whether or not it can be considered the government. But courts across the US have ruled that sites like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook are not state entities. They are independent companies."Federal courts in the United State have ruled time and again, and as recently as 2020, that those digital platforms are not state actors, therefore they are not the government, and the government cannot restrict them in any way," Kalir said, referencing the 2020 case Prager University v. Google LLC, in which the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled YouTube was not a state actor.Which means rather than Twitter violating the First Amendment, the private platform was actually expressing its First Amendment rights by making its own decisions about what to publish.Media outlets have discretion to grant or refuse requests from the governmentAs for the requests to remove specific content, as far as we know, they were exactly that: requests."Both the state, the Trump White House, and the Biden team were asking Twitter, and Twitter was under no obligation to either oblige or refuse those requests," Kalir said.Unlike the Biden team, the White House was a state actor. But Kalir noted that cooperation between media and government is about as old as government itself. Journalists and news outlets often rely on the government, sometimes through leaks or anonymous sources.That cooperation may also include requests from a state actor to postpone publishing a story or even to withhold names or other information for national security concerns or other reasons. And again, outlets have the discretion to agree or not agree to such requests."At some point, when the news outlet sheds its independent features and becomes a funnel for government information or disinformation, then it's no longer a private publication and you could claim that the First Amendment should be implicated," Kalir explained, but added that the Twitter case "does not even come close to the line."He said he knew of no precedent in the US in which a court ruled a newspaper or media outlet was acting as an arm of the government.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 4th, 2022

Tampax forced to apologize for "creepy" tweet after being accused of sexualizing women

The Tampax tweet received severe backlash. The tampon maker — owned by Procter & Gamble — said they "messed up." Crystal Cox/Business Insider Tampax has had to apologize for a now-deleted "offensive" tweet quoting a popular internet phrase. The company received backlash on Twitter. Users said it "sexualized" women and was "demeaning." They released an apology on Saturday which said the tweet didn't align with the brand's values.  Tampax has had to apologize for a now-deleted "offensive" tweet. The US arm of the tampon company tweeted their spin on a well-used meme, saying: "You're in their DMs. We're in them. We are not the same."A screenshot of the since deleted tweet from Tampax US's Twitter account.TwitterThe phrase became popular online as a way to indicate you have a better relationship with someone, often in a romantic or sexual sense, but Tampax's appropriation of the meme appears to have fallen short. People immediately expressed outrage with the tweet, saying it "sexualized" women's healthcare and was "demeaning" towards women. Others said the tweet was "creepy," considering minors often use Tampax products during menstruation, Sky News reported.The disdain towards the sentiment continued to rise, with the hashtag #BoycottTampax trending on Twitter. In response to the backlash, the company, owned by Procter & Gamble, tweeted an apology saying they "messed up." Tampax admitted the language was disrespectful, adding "Respect is central to our brand values – our recent language did not reflect that."—Tampax US (@Tampax) November 26, 2022 The anger, however, continued in the comments of the apology, with people saying they would opt to use alternative brands after being made to feel uncomfortable. "Women and girls want sanitary products they can trust, not wink, wink sexualization of a basic biological function. Leave us alone and go and 'brand value' elsewhere," one Twitter user said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 27th, 2022

Wynn Resorts, Sands And MGM Resorts CEOs On The Industry’s Future

The following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Craig Billings, Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) CEO, Robert Goldstein, Sands Chairman and CEO, and Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) CEO, from the CNBC Evolve Global Summit, which took place today, Wednesday, July 13th. Video from the interview will be available at Interview With […] The following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Craig Billings, Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) CEO, Robert Goldstein, Sands Chairman and CEO, and Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) CEO, from the CNBC Evolve Global Summit, which took place today, Wednesday, July 13th. Video from the interview will be available at Interview With Wynn Resorts, Sands And MGM Resorts CEOs CONTESSA BREWER: So I want to thank you for joining me today. Part of the reason I wanted to invite you, Craig billings, Bill Hornbuckle, Rob Goldstein, to this conversation is because you’re all leading companies that are iconic global casino brands whose imprint of the founders are clearly visible, not just in your properties or just in Las Vegas but around the world. I guess I’ll just begin with can you set the scene for me about where we are when we know that people are here and they’re enjoying what Las Vegas has to offer and the demand is persistent in spite of rising inflationary pressures. Bill, what are you seeing – what do you see for the next half of the year and where’s the industry going? if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Find A Qualified Financial Advisor Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now. BILL HORNBUCKLE: I do believe there's been a change. I do believe that how people are going to experiences how they think about travel, how they think about whether there was initially Covid money or not, how they think about what they want to do with their free time is a creed to Las Vegas and to us in a large way. And we're seeing it. Is there a recession around the corner? Time to tell. You wouldn't know by looking at this place last night, or what we've experienced over the last couple of quarters. And I think about the environment we're in today in employment and getting people to come to work. It's an interesting environment that we're all in. But I'm extremely optimistic about the space, about the experience economy, and where we belong in it. And so you know, I'm very positive, generally speaking. BREWER: What are you seeing right now, Craig? CRAIG BILLINGS: We spent much of the Covid period really just continuing to invest. Invest in our people, invest in our business, and that's borne fruit. And I think we see that every day both in our customer satisfaction surveys and in our numbers. So it's been great over the course of the past few months. On the founder point that you raised, you know, obviously, our founder changed very rapidly. Our founder left very rapidly. And for us, it was really there were kind of three buckets of things that we had to think about. The first was what needed to change very quickly – certain points on governance, the board, etc. The second is that which would never change, really that founder’s mindset, that sense of ownership all the way down to the line level, accountability and our design and development capabilities. And then that which we could evolve. And that's really a multi-year journey. And so much of what we've seen over the course of the past six months is the fruit of that evolution. So you see it in our food and beverage program, you see it in the way we use social media, you see it in our entertainment program. And so we've started to see, you know, that bear fruit and really it's early days in that evolution. BREWER: What do you think? ROB GOLDSTEIN: Well, I’m not in Las Vegas anymore. We sold our properties as you well know, and these guys know. Thrilled to see the rebound of Las Vegas. I’ve been a citizen here for almost 30 years and very proud of the city. A huge fan of it. We are experiencing a different situation because we're Asia- bound. Macao we both have properties – all of us have properties there and it's struggling, as you know. For me, having been with Sheldon Adelson for decades, it's a very difficult time for us emotionally. We sold Las Vegas, it was very hard for me. We sold it for different reasons than people understand. And I think, you know, Sheldon did something that I'll never forget during the Covid time when everybody else was laying people off and I had made a proposal to the board to follow suit. And he tapped me on the shoulder like this. He said, “Rob, not doing that.” I said, “Not doing what?” He said, “I'm not laying people off.” I thought he was confused. So I took him aside explained to him. He said, “I'm not confused.” He said, “I'm not laying people off.” He had a very strong belief in culture and people. And that today resonates with us since we succeed him and try carry on the legacy both in Macao and Singapore. Maybe again in the U.S. at some point. BREWER: But it's really expensive. I mean, if you're in an industry that – GOLDSTEIN: Yes, very expensive. When I told him how much it was, he was very sweet. He said, “Rob I can afford it. We can afford it.” And he said, “I'm not going to fire people. They have made me very wealthy, it's my time to give back to them.” And Sheldon, I had the privilege of watching him on two fronts. Very much a believer in culture and longevity and sustainability with the staff, with the people working with us. And secondly, a big believer in strategic thinking. Sheldon never did anything – whether it being Macao, Singapore, Pennsylvania, Las Vegas, any jurisdiction we tried to go to his first thought was, “what do I bring the table strategically? Why am I different?” And he did it here in Las Vegas and he authored this whole MICE strategy which people thought was hilarious – BREWER: Which is basically convention business, right? Making this – GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, I'm sorry. Yes, convention-based group business was Sheldon's calling card. He grew up in it through Comdex. But my point is all these people we are referencing had a strong strategic perspective of a people, culture thought process. And say what you want about those. Different people have different perspectives. And I think so the fellas that we all came to work for they saw things a different way. They had huge vision and a huge appetite for risk. BILLINGS: Steve was a true founder at heart in every way. And you know, the way that he ran the business was as a founder. Very high accountability, very small corporate staff. And you have to make sure that that continues. And you have to actually take that legacy, be a steward to that legacy, and evolve it. And I think Rob, you said that, too. You can't be afraid to evolve it and make sure that you can meet changing consumer needs and changing consumer trends and stay relevant. But you have to maintain the core and soul of who the business is and who the team is. BREWER: Did that make a difference for Wynn when we saw this massive hiring squeeze when everybody around the nation were desperate for workers? Did that soul of Wynn make a difference in how you were able to retain talent? Attract talent? BILLINGS: No doubt. No doubt it did. I mean, we similar to what Rob was talking about, we too, didn't lay anybody off during the shutdown because you can't reassemble our team in a short period of time. It takes years and years and years to do. And so when we reopened, we actually had a team that was energized, that felt great about where they worked. And our turnover has reflected that. BREWER: You know, it strikes me too, that you're seeing all this boom here. I just can't get over that you can look at Encore Boston Harbor and see that it is out earning any single property you have in Macao. The thought of that before the pandemic would have just been impossible to imagine. That there's been sort of this reversal of fortune. HORNBUCKLE: You know what has been interesting in our business I'm sure, you know, technology and Covid drove us to a couple different places. Even if you go look at this gaming floor, and everyone's doing this. The way we position games just for distance and safety. But we create these unique pods that sit out here now. Well guess what? People enjoy them. And it's worked. And it's brought particularly the type of games that are now demonstrate out here, it's brought millennials to the table in a way that they have not been before in our industry. And so at least we have seen historically, not only here, but universally across all of our properties domestically, we have more millennial business than we've ever had by like 20%. It is a compelling and interesting thing. BREWER: Do you think that the younger people who may not have been really exposed to casinos and gambling before the pandemic, are they drawn by the digital technology? I mean, now there are games where you can sit and only interact with the machine the way that most of us are now used to interacting with our phones, right? So you can sit in a casino where you're near other people but not actually be interacting with a human being. BILLINGS: I think when you smash together the proliferation of sports betting and i-gaming, and the demographic that is engaging with sports betting in particular, which is a younger demographic, you think about the fact that all the effort, time and money that we've spent as an industry here in Las Vegas, investing in non-gaming amenities and things that bring people here despite the casino, all those are going to come together naturally and have a spillover effect that are going to cause consumers – some consumers – to find an affinity for what's on the casino floor. I think it's just a natural happenstance of all of those things. BREWER: I'm really interested if the draw is the experience, if that's the thing that people are hungry for, how does digital play into that yen for experiences? HORNBUCKLE: Look, for a brand like ours, it gives us a chance to connect 360 days a year. It gives us a chance to have a constant dialogue with a customer. It gives them exposure and ultimately a reward mechanism like any loyalty program to be participating in. Yeah, I can do this. I can bet the Mets at home because I’m from New York and I enjoy the Mets and it ultimately translates into something more for them. It's pretty straightforward in that context. And it works. It's big enough scale now. This thing has grown to a point where there is absolute connectivity – the notion of a simple omnichannel relationship with the customer. And what we have all seen is to the extent a customer participates in all three activities, their activity with us is far superior than what it was historically. BILLINGS: Look, sports betting isn't new. I mean people have been betting on sports online for years and years and years. So now you have the opportunity to bet with a brand that you trust and a brand that oftentimes has other physical assets that you can interact with and be entertained by. And so it is a pretty compelling proposition over the longer term. You know, the past couple of years have been interesting for a whole bunch of reasons in sports betting. I think there was a race to get to market and to acquire customers at any cost. I think the industry is becoming increasingly more disciplined in terms of how they approach that, which is great, you know, for us to see. But that omnichannel relationship is important. And I really believe it's a winner in the long run. BREWER: Rob, Sheldon Adelson was such an opponent of internet gambling and invested in it and really was vocal about it and made sure that with all of his political connections, he made it clear where he stood on it. Have you decided to take a very different approach? Have you turned the company in a direction that is very different from what he saw and thought? GOLDSTEIN: Sheldon, the underpinning of his thinking may be different than most people realize. He was a big believer that young people were at risk. He had young boys. He felt people were on their phone at the ballgame. He felt the wrong people could access it. And Bill mentioned 24 hours a day you can bang one in your phone and lose money. And it bothered Sheldon from a pure moral perspective. I know people don't want to believe that, they think he was protecting his land base. The fact is our business has been 90% Asia forever. And so it doesn't affect us because Asia does not have digital gambling. And so it's a nonevent for us from that perspective. So that was Sheldon’s mindset. Would we go into it? Sure we would. We would definitely – and I think Sheldon later in life came to realize it could be managed perhaps. And if it's profitable and we saw the right path, we would pursue it. I'm watching it. It's fascinating to watch what Bill's going through and Craig's been through it and the people at Caesars. And it's fun to watch and see where it goes. I believe it will be very profitable in the long term but there’s some impediments to getting there. BREWER: I overheard you asking Bill about the sort of the backlash in Europe to sports gambling and the way that net there are now very serious limits on how people gamble. Are you guys worried that in your digital venture there could be a backlash here? HORNBUCKLE: Well, let me back up. Backlash in many of those markets – they were gray markets – save the UK. So they weren't regulated at all. They were kind of regulating, they used to call them. So when they are — and again in Germany is a great example – as it's getting regulated, some of the constraints and some of the restrictions are clearly more than they were without any regulations. UK is taking a look at time on device, spending limits, all of the things that would obviously drive addictive behavior. There are, particularly because it's an automated world, there's a lot of things that can be put into play that protect people, that keep things in check, that help responsible gaming in a universal way. And so it is being adopted there. It's going to be transitional to here. We're already starting to put many of those things in play. We've learned from our partner Entain into our BetMGM products. And so yeah, if somebody – you always have to be mindful of it. We do not want to take anyone's last dime full stop. It is not in our business interest to do that. And so we're all mindful of it. On the other side of the coin, we just bought a company will hopefully close next month called LeoVegas. You know, it's a company that's based in Sweden. They have a great footprint, we think great technology. We are very focused on a digital growth pattern not only here domestically, obviously with BetMGM in Canada and ultimately rest of world. We see it as a – not an unlimited because nothing is unlimited, but from a platform where we stand in the scale we have, there's only so many places to go and do what we do and keep our brands true in terms of brick and mortar. And so for us it's a big piece of the next horizon. BREWER: I want to talk a little bit about international too, because you all have international properties and aspirations. I'm especially interested in when going in and co-developing an integrated resort in the Middle East, again, you know, groundbreaking in so many ways. Can you talk about growth internationally and especially where we now see the geopolitical landscape changing. Where we're seeing a lot of uncertainty about what, you know, superpowers, former superpowers, rising superpowers can and will do. BILLINGS: So I think over the course of the past 20 years, you've seen both consumers and governments embrace IRs. I mean, tax revenue, tourism, great experiences, there's all kinds of reasons to support integrated resorts. And I think you are going to continue to see that. I think it'll be interesting to see how the industry – if we do see a proliferation – how the industry keeps pace. I mean, all of us together only have so much development capacity over the course of any given year. And it's not like there's 100 companies like ours. So that'll be interesting to see. But you know, specifically with respect to the UAE, the UAE is obviously a very progressive, transformative place and they're doing a lot of things. A lot of things socially, a lot of things from a legal and regulation perspective. And so we're really excited about that opportunity. You know, puts our brand within 95% of consumers if they want to take an eight hour flight or less. And so it's a meaningful extension of our brand. It's a meaningful opportunity for our team to put their imprint on the company. It's the first property we will do subsequent to Steve. And so it's a very, very important event for us. And I feel great about it. BREWER: Talk to me a little bit about Asia and your feeling now that you sold Las Vegas ahead of this massive rebound. I know because you've told me on multiple occasions that you truly believe in the future of Macao and Singapore. But the Covid restrictions are still at present and an obstacle. GOLDSTEIN: Most of Asia's opening, I mean, Japan's opening, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Vietnam. The market is opening. The biggest challenge there is employees and airlift getting in and out of these countries are still challenging into Singapore. But Singapore is, you know, leading the way in terms of it's a great government, great place to operate. We're thrilled to be there. At its peak was a $1.7 billion property. My guess is that we'll do better than that in the future. Macao I feel even I find it funny that people question Macao's return. Of course it's been a hard couple of years no question. We employ 33-34,000 people. We've not laid anyone off, we’ve been paying them for 30 months. And it's a tough time. You got to basically hunker down and wait for it to turn. But the idea it doesn't turn is kind of hard to imagine it's going to turn probably this year or next. And when it does, Macao will go back to making – you know, we made at the peak $3.5 billion EBITDA. I think we’ll make a lot more than that in the future there. BILLINGS: I agree with Rob. The only thing that keeps me up at night about Macao is the state of my team. I mean, you know, they've been essentially trapped there for years. GOLDSTEIN: Yeah. Brutal. BILLINGS: It's very, very difficult and I appreciate everything they do for us. It is a difficult time to be there. But if you think about the latent demand across the border, you think about the importance of Macao frankly within the Greater Bay area, we're huge, huge bulls on Macao just like Rob. HORNBUCKLE: Again, for the audience, I mean, Macao was seven, eight times Las Vegas in scale. I mean, okay? So it comes back half to begin with and then some and then some. I just, it's the largest gaming market in the world bar none, and it will forever be. BREWER: Are there lessons that you learn from reacting to the pandemic that now you apply toward climate change or geopolitical risk, or the threat – I mean, especially with digital businesses, the threat of cyber attack? BILLINGS: We have always really as a company tried to stay as nimble as possible and have paid dividends during that period. So we were incredibly transparent with our people. And we really empowered our folks to help us adapt, plan, and frankly, just get scrappy. There were many times when we just had to get scrappy and deal with things in the moment. And so I think that reflects within the team, whether we start talking about recession, or geopolitical events that are changing, you know, changing the demand profile – if that happens at some point. I think that that nimbleness particularly as we flexed it during Covid will pay dividends. And so I really believe we are more wired as a company, particularly here in Las Vegas and in Boston than we ever have been. HORNBUCKLE: And we obviously had to take a different approach. I had the unfortunate task of laying off 62,000 employees over Covid. It was painful, but it was costing us 300 million a month. And so we just didn't have the liquidity and the ability to sustain. Now the good news is by and large, we had about half of them back in nine or 10 weeks. But it did present an opportunity because we weren't as nimble at this scale. It's hard to be this nibble at this scale. We did take the organizational opportunity to kind of rethink about the structure, think about the organization, what we were focused on, what we should be focused on. I think one thing that Las Vegas and all of these properties at scale are really good at is corralling around an event, championing it, getting something accomplished in terms of you know, like we've spent $21 million on plexiglass. It was amazing how quickly we all got into that business of making the right environment. And on and all the testing and all of the things that go into something with those kinds of logistics. These companies are just wired to do. We do the convention – the thing about convention business every day, it's that same kind of psyche about task and orientation and go. BILLINGS: Difficult things at scale. HORNBUCKLE: Yeah. And so we are good at that generally. So it enabled us to get quickly into this. So we went up and down, in a matter of three months we had closed everything and we opened it all again. We were in massive Covid protocols in the context of what we're doing, how we're letting customers interact with us. Digitalization, you know, something we planned for 10 years to get silly check in in on a mobile device did it in three months because we had to do it. You know and to this day 25% of our people using it now. It's a big deal. It's a big change. GOLDSTEIN: Necessity. HORNBUCKLE: Yeah, necessity. The reservations 30% of our people are now making reservations online. Because guess what? They checked in digitally and so there's been a lot of benefits and for us, particularly as an organization, we learned a lot, we did a lot. It was little bit more in command and control as a culture I want to set going forward, but we had to just get it done. And so there's a lot of taking some that have been meaningful, but painful. BREWER: The other interesting thing is that we seem to be at this inflection point in the nation, the political divide, the issues over guns and abortion and racial equality. And I'm just wondering where you stand on taking a stand. Your predecessor Bill, felt very comfortable standing up and talking about his political position. Do you think that there's a place for that as the head of a publicly traded company or what's the risk? HORNBUCKLE: Take any issue. Take abortion. 30% of the people are adamantly, you know, thinking that what just happened is appropriate. I don't want to lose 30% of our customers. I think we have an obligation to our stakeholders to be very responsible, be moderate, be measured. Having said that, we employ 62,000 employees across the system who have values who care. That issue alone has impacted some of our employees in Mississippi and Ohio and other states that we operate, so we have to pay attention. Making political statements as the CEO however, I don't know that it's in everyone's best interest. Putting policies in play, doing things that are appropriate for staff and ultimately the communities that I care about not making statements and eventually – Black Lives Matter I put a statement out because I thought it was important to. It got a lot of social media. Good news and not so good news. It's not a place I think that we want to find this company. BILLINGS: I agree with Bill. I think the – I lump it, I put it together with ESG. You know, consumers, particularly younger consumers want companies to stand for something and they want them to do it authentically. And I think that authenticity is what’s really important. So figuring out what you can do for your employees, for your communities, and to reduce your impact on the planet that you can really do. That's what it's about. And it's not about marketing. It's not performative. It's doing. And so, I agree, I don't think it's about wading into politics. I think it's about having an impact. GOLDSTEIN: I will say that I can’t add a thing to that. Well said. I think it's about policies, but I think I'm not sure for public companies, CEOs, that's a role I would take on my political views shouldn't matter. They're not important, in my opinion. Important to me, my family but not to my shareholders. And I think it's better we address – I think Bill and Craig’s comments about your employees and how you think about them. They're our constituents and we want to make sure we're responsive to them and our customers. But my political views I think are not relevant in a public forum. BREWER: Is there a canary in the coal mine about recession coming? Jim Moran has mentioned to me that – he said, “I totally missed the onslaught of the great financial recession of 2007, 2008, 2009 because in our last quarter – fourth quarter of 2007, we had our best quarter ever lifted by the luxury properties like Bellagio.” HORNBUCKLE: Those were good days. GOLDSTEIN: Good days. We remember those days. BREWER: He said, “I should have been looking at Circus Circus.” We've already heard some of your competitors talk about that lower demographic. HORNBUCKLE: We have a pretty obviously broad view on this because we have properties all over the country and obviously we have every marketplace here in Las Vegas as well. We have not seen it, particularly here in Las Vegas. Now, what's happened over the last 18 months has literally been historic and so records. But if you look about how we thought we'd be performing against how we are performing, we're exactly where we thought we would be. We're not naive to think that consistent gas prices, consistent increase in inflation is not going to impact our business. It hasn't yet. BILLINGS: I would agree with Bill. We're in a similar situation. Now how much of that is our customer type? I don't know. But I do think that the industry particularly here in Las Vegas is better prepared strangely, because of because of Covid, frankly, to know the levers that we need to pull to make it through whatever does happen. BREWER: I wonder what keeps you up at night. I'm curious about it. Generally, when you look at your whole company, if there's a thing that you see as a niggling challenge that you haven't quite figured out. BILLINGS: I really have two things to do in my job. Take the legacy. We talked about it earlier. Take the legacy that I've been handed, and make sure that I both maintain it and evolve it and grow the business. And grow the business for us often means development. So when I get up in the middle of the night, it's thinking about those two things, which aren’t, you know, existential threats to our business, rather they are the opportunities for our business. So there is no one particular point that I would think about. BREWER: So you sleep like a baby? BILLINGS: Definitely not. Definitely not. But it's not an existential threat that keeps me up at night. HORNBUCKLE: You know, if you had asked me that question two years ago – BILLINGS: It would be a different answer. HORNBUCKLE: Completely different. We're just in such a different place as a company. Our balance sheet, just how we are capitalized, what we're doing, how we're thinking about going forward. We've just done such an amazing reversal in so many respects, got fortunate in timing, and made some smart moves I think ultimately – we’re sitting on $4.5B in cash. And so we're all operators. We’ve been doing this a long time. The day to day is not the concern. It is the things that are outside our control. So while I don't have the same pressure they do in Macao,  we still have Macao pressure and that's not in our control. Water at Lake Mead, we're going to do everything we can. That's a longer term, you know, just the general environment, what's going to happen over time. You wake up at night and think not only about yourself and the company but your employees and the community. Those are real issues. The continue of social divide of politics and what it's doing to our employees and customers. Not a great place. We're just not in a great place in America in that context. GOLDSTEIN: I do sleep like a baby. I’m up every two hours. At our company, we went through the most dramatic couple of years. It's hard even to even fathom. We lost Sheldon. We lost our business in Macao temporarily. We went to closure in Singapore. And of course, we sold Las Vegas. But looking back on it, we’re in a great place liquidity wise. We got lots of money in the bank. We're very solid. The business climate in Singapore is coming back beautifully. The whole city state. Our license renewals recently we're on the right path. Macao which was a big impediment to the future and that's been resolved looks like to me. And so the one thing we can't do much about is waiting for Covid resolution in China which is inevitable. And when that happens, I think our company returns to a very nice place and hopefully it's sooner than later. But other than that, I don't think about – the bigger issues Bill referenced, I mean, it's painful to watch this country. I'm the oldest guy in the room probably here and I think it's for me it's hurtful and painful to watch this country go into such huge divide on so many issues and it's sad and I hope we can find a way out. We'll get through it. We'll figure it out. But that doesn't keep me up at night because I'm not – I can't solve it. But it sure does make me feel sad. BREWER: The thing about gaming is that figuring it out has been sort of the MO of the industry, of the town, of the leaders. Do you think that there's a takeaway for other industries and other leaders about the adaptability and the flexibility in the innovation of gaming? GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, there's a definite lesson in terms of the same lessons any manager – they are professional managers. How do you apply into evolving environments that change all the time? It's never easy. How do you manage your employee base? How do you manage your customer base? How do you think and stay nimble and stay focused? Life is full of challenges. The only constant is change, right? And these things change every day. Managing these behemoths, these monster buildings, is a really good lesson for any manager and I think it does translate beyond our industry. HORNBUCKLE: And one of the reasons it could and should is, and you know, we are the melting pot of America. We get 40 million visitors, we get everybody that comes here. We know a lot about customer behavior today. And I think we're adept at reacting to that. And I think there's a lot to be learned from that for others. So they're very complex businesses. They're interesting as hell. We've been doing this for a long time because we love it. Hasn't killed us yet, but it’s trying. GOLDSTEIN: It will, Bill. HORNBUCKLE: No one is getting out alive. BILLINGS: I can’t speak for gaming as a whole, obviously, but you know, part of what we do is we really steadfastly do not over corporatize. We have a very small corporate staff. We push a lot of decisions down to the asset, to the property level, to the individual line level. And now, to be fair, we're blessed with quite a small geographic portfolio. Okay, we essentially have four assets. So I think that's easier for us to do than some others in the industry. But you talk about evolution and you talk about change. You have to cascade that down throughout the entire business. And the more your people understand and own their respective pieces of the business, the easier that is to do. And the more you centralize it, the harder that is to do. So it's been in ways heartening and inspiring to go through Covid and to watch what our teams were able to do and what they were able to accomplish and it really was them. HORNBUCKLE: We have a mantra I've been on for about 18 months. A culture of Yes. Given scale, things happen and it's easy to wake up one day and have policies in play and why aren’t we – why are we saying no to a customer. Well, because 15 years ago this happened. And you just wake up one day, you just have this monstrosity of a bureaucratic thing. Culture of Yes down to the line level employees, please say yes to a customer. We will protect you, we will give you the security you think you need, we will honor that decision, and ultimately we'll make it right for both the customer and you. Big deal in these scale places because if you don't, it just, you know, you got 4,000 rooms, you got 8,000 customers, you got 25,000 people in the building every day. Bumping into people all the time and giving and empowering employees to make those decisions is essential. BILLINGS: No doubt. HORNBUCKLE: Essential. BILLINGS: No doubt. BREWER: I just want to thank you again, like you all have very busy schedules and things to do. Thank you for making time for us, Craig, Bill, Rob. GOLDSTEIN: Thank you. HORNBUCKLE: Pleasure. BILLINGS: Thank you. Appreciate it. About CNBC: CNBC is the recognized world leader in business news, providing real-time financial market coverage, business content and general news consumed by more than 544 million people per month across all platforms. The network's 15 live hours a day of news programming in North America (weekdays from 5:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. ET) is produced at CNBC's global headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and includes reports from CNBC News bureaus worldwide. CNBC at night features a mix of new reality programming, CNBC's highly successful series produced exclusively for CNBC and a number of distinctive in-house documentaries. Updated on Jul 13, 2022, 4:59 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkJul 13th, 2022

Victor Davis Hanson: Why The Left Will Cut Biden Loose

Victor Davis Hanson: Why The Left Will Cut Biden Loose Authored by Victor Davis Hanson, Republican pundits and conservative activists are debating whether they can win in 2024 with the successful Trump agenda, but without the controversial former President Donald Trump as their nominee. The Democrats have a similar, but far more serious dilemma with President Joe Biden as the Democratic Party’s nominee in 2024. Unlike the Trump Administration’s successful four years, Biden’s tenure has been an utter disaster. There are no policy offsets to the personal liabilities and unpopularity of Biden himself. Biden’s liabilities transcend his physical infirmities, his advanced age, and his seeming geometric rather than arithmetic rate of mental decline. Biden, moreover, proves daily that he is not a nice guy. His excesses, past and present, are precisely those the Left considers mortal sins. Walking back Biden’s absurdities has become the nonstop, tiresome task of many on the Left. As they face a midterm disaster in November, many no longer see any compensating reasons not to drop Biden. When the Republicans take the House of Representatives in 2022 there will be nonstop investigations of Hunter Biden’s alleged tax avoidances, his possibly illegal work as an unregistered foreign agent, and Joe Biden’s untaxed compensation he received from the Biden lobbying consortium. Consider also Biden’s nastiness. During the 2020 campaign he personally attacked a young co-ed as a “lying dog-faced pony soldier” and a stocky questioner was reduced to “fat.” Unlike Trump’s art of the deal, exaggerations, and distortions, Biden says things that are not simply untrue, but abjectly preposterous — such as the United States currently has a lower inflation rate than major European industrial powers. In Biden’s world, there were no COVID-19 vaccinations until he took the oath of office. Russian President Vladimir Putin, or the oil companies, or the refiners, or Trump are responsible for the historic crippling gasoline price hikes he caused by canceling drilling and pipeline projects. Biden claims his negative-growth, hyperinflating economy is not disastrous but strong. He serially lies that he drove a semi-truck. He has not been to the Middle East 38 times. He never received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. Nor was he a full professor at the University of Pennsylvania. The MAGA movement is not the “most extreme political organization in American history.” In other words, Biden reveals the same fantasies and plagiarism that ended his 1988 and 2008 presidential campaigns. On matters of race and sexuality, Biden is the epitome of that for which the Left, supposedly, has zero tolerance. Biden was infamous for damning with praise candidate Barack Obama as the first “clean” and “articulate” African American presidential candidate. In a fake patois, Biden once warned an audience of black professionals that Mitt Romney would “put y’all back in chains.” During the 2020 campaign, candidate Biden derided a black journalist as a “junkie” and lambasted a radio host and his audience with the claim “you ain’t black” if they didn’t support his candidacy. Spinning racialist fables like Biden’s “Corn Pop” stories would brand any conservative politician as a racist. As president, Biden still uses the term “negro,” and he called an African American advisor “boy.” On disturbing matters of sexuality, Biden is even more coarse. After the Justice Brett Kavanaugh hearings, the nation was lectured that “women must be believed.” But it was the Left who attacked former Biden aide Tara Reade who surfaced in 2016 to accuse then Senator Biden, her former boss, of sexually assaulting her. Biden himself had a creepy history of invading the private space of young women — inappropriately kissing them, hugging and squeezing them, and smelling and blowing into their hair and ears. Finally, Biden was forced to apologize — sort of — by claiming he belonged to an earlier generation when such aggression was simply normal behavior. It was not then or now. The latest controversies whirl around the British tabloid Daily Mail’s publication of the diary of Biden’s own daughter. From the Mail’s lurid reporting, Ashley Biden seems to suggest that she showered with her father at an age when “showers w/ my dad (probably [were] not appropriate).” And she seemed to connect Biden familial inappropriateness with her regret over being “hyper-sexualized (at) a young age.” When Trump was accused by porn star Stormy Daniels of a consensual tryst or was caught on old Access Hollywood tape crudely boasting about touching inappropriately female admirers, the resulting uproar nearly derailed the Trump 2016 campaign. The point is not just the asymmetrical treatment that has shielded Biden’s cognitive decline, his rude outbursts, his outrageous racialist slurs, and bizarre sexual aggressiveness. Instead, the Left now fears Biden’s terrible polls and a worse record - and the resulting damage he is doing to the Democratic Party. In such a losing political context, Democrats will soon find no further reason to cover for Biden’s own serial abhorrent personal behavior on matters of financial probity, sex, race, and truthfulness. No wonder they are growing desperate to find ways to cut him loose - without making Vice President Kamala Harris his successor. Tyler Durden Thu, 06/23/2022 - 21:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 23rd, 2022

Drugs, danger, and discrimination: Portland"s strippers describe precarious workplaces despite organizing for better conditions

Dancers in Portland say they still face discrimination and violence at work, from both management and customers, despite years of labor organizing. Stripper Sasha "Vixen" Gold lounges at Guilty Pleasures night club in Portland, Oregon.Sasha "Vixen" Gold Labor organization efforts among Portland strippers have improved some working conditions in the area. Despite their efforts, dancers still report facing discrimination and sexual violence at work.  "Every dancer has something super traumatic they had to go through," a dancer called Mercedes told Insider. While growing mutual aid and labor organization efforts among Portland, Oregon, sex workers have had some success in improving working conditions in the area, multiple dancers told Insider they still have a long way to go as strippers in the area still often face discrimination and violence at work. Dancers said they appreciate their jobs for flexible scheduling and higher than average wages, but making a living in the sex industry comes with painful and dangerous experiences and little support from people outside the industry to manage them.  "I'm not saying this in a bad way, I'm saying most of us bond on the fact that every dancer I've ever met has trauma," a stripper called Mercedes told Insider. "Every dancer has something super traumatic they had to go through and I think that the reason for that is because you have to have a strong mental and thick skin to be able to do this job."Mercedes Mercedes, a Polerotica award-winning pole dancer, has worked at multiple clubs in the Portland area in the past two and a half years. A single mother of one, she relies on her income from both stripping and selling pictures and videos online to provide for herself and her son.Though she loves the artistic and athletic elements of stripping, she described witnessing or experiencing multiple instances of drugging, stalking, and sexual assaults while working. "I have customers and friends of mine getting attacked in clubs because security can't do their job. I'm getting assaulted on a regular fucking basis because management won't keep creepers out," Mercedes said. "There's dudes that I have to basically hide in the dressing room most of the night when they're there because they're fucking stalker types and I don't want anything to do with them."Whether these incidents are well-handled by management, Mercedes said, depends entirely on each individual owner, as there are no set standards for clubs handling handsy, belligerent, or violent customers. The inconsistency between clubs — and the behavior allowed within — can cause problems for strippers working with unclear expectations. "I've not seen a single club in Portland that doesn't secretly have prostitution going on there," Mercedes said. "Not a single one. There's always something."That prostitution goes unchecked at most venues makes dancers who don't engage in full-service sex work less safe, Mercedes said. Customers may expect that they'll be able to purchase sex from strippers and can get violent when told no. "Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to judge because a woman's body is her own. What she does with that is not my business," Mercedes said. "But as a dancer, as an entertainer, a performer, I don't want to compete with prostitutes. If you're going to do that, don't do it at the club."Bunny Bunny, a Black and nonbinary stripper and content creator who has been a sex worker for less than a year, told Insider one of the most common issues they see in clubs is drug use. Though they are regularly misgendered at work and said their race is fetishized by clients, they said the prevalence of drugs makes the club a more dangerous place to work. "I just don't like the whole drug dealing crowd because they're always trying to like push it up on you," Bunny said.At several clubs, Bunny said they have seen dancers dangerously intoxicated at work, with an inconsistent response from management. At one club, they worked with a dancer who was fired for being too intoxicated and causing a scene in a dressing room, while at other venues drinking and drug use from dancers and clients is ignored. Even if the dancers aren't doing drugs themselves, the risk of clients being under the influence can impact them in dangerous ways. Bunny told Insider they once experienced a contact high after the saliva from a client high on cocaine came in contact with their nipples. "Obviously, I didn't ingest it or anything, but it's like, that was so violating to me," Bunny said. Bunny also told Insider that they've seen and heard of manipulation from management to get dancers to perform sexual favors in order to get preferential shifts or receive more lenient treatment when it comes to rules like drug use and prostitution."There's clubs that, like, if you want to actually get good shifts you like have to perform for the owners or the managers or, you know, whoever's making the schedule and a lot of people take advantage of that," Bunny said. "Like, 'how come so and so gets this and I don't' like it should be based on merit or some other fair system. And they say like, 'well, they're playing ball.'""And it's always that stupid fucking euphemism, like, 'Well, if you don't, you just can't hang.'"Stripper Bunny inverted on the pole at Guilty Pleasures night club in Portland, Oregon.BunnySarah Harassment from managers is common among dancers, especially of "minors" — dancers over 18 years old but under the age of 21.Sarah, a dancer for about two years, told Insider that management may use the excuse of "helping" or "mentoring" younger strippers to ultimately take advantage of them, ask for sexual favors, or put them in uncomfortable situations. "One of our daytime managers was like, 'Do you know what happens in a VIP room?' And he was like, 'Portland has like a lot of gray area,'" Sarah said, describing an instance of sexual harassment at work. "And he, one day pulled me into the office, and was just like, 'Oh, I'm just worried about you like pleasing your customers, like I just need to know that they're getting like a good experience so that you can keep them coming back.'"In Portland, dancers who are under 21 years old are not permitted to freely roam the floor and are confined to separate, caged stages when they aren't performing on the main stage. Keeping younger dancers separate also makes them a target for clients who are only interested in their inexperience. "A lot of people are really into the fact that the girls in the cage are all under 21. And it's like a little creepy, but they want someone who's like, just got out of high school, as young as they can get them and there are people who would only hang around the minor stage area," Sarah said. "And I've noticed that some of the customers that liked me when I was under 21 have stopped having as much of an interest in me."VixenVixen, a former firefighter, has only been dancing for four months, but after several interactions with unsupportive management, already strongly feels the need for organization among strippers and other sex workers. "One night, I had a couple of drinks before I went to work so I was a little tipsy while dancing, but one guy snuck a kiss in on my mouth," Vixen said. "And I was the one who got in trouble. The manager acted like I was the one who did it."At 34 years old, working as both a stripper and private lingerie model, Vixen has a protective impulse at the venues she works at, taking younger dancers under her wing even if they have more sex work experience than she does. She looks out for them, making sure they don't drink too much or find themselves in dangerous situations. A caretaking demeanor, she says, which is not appreciated by those in charge. "The managers have called me to the office multiple times now to tell me to stop trying to be a house mom," Vixen said."House moms" are usually experienced strippers or part of the management team who help take care of dancers in the club — the club Vixen works at doesn't have one and, while she isn't trying to fill the role, she doesn't want other dancers to feel like they're alone at work.Instead of encouraging dancers to stick together or look out for one another, Vixen said, management has been discouraging of attempts to get close to other strippers. Though Vixen has only been in sex work for a short time, she's been inspired by the things she has seen in that short time to try to support other sex workers. Since she started stripping, she has created a brand "Respect the Hustler" to try to change the public perception of sex work and promote positivity among dancers. "I think it's important for people to realize that sex workers are real people," Vixen said. "They have real lives they have real families, they're daughters, they're mothers, they're sisters, they're fucking aunties, they're maids on the side, they're watching your kids."Forward MomentumVixen is not alone in her efforts to create resources for strippers and improve the quality of their work life. Mercedes said she someday plans to start her own club with stripper-friendly policies and organizations such as the Haymarket Pole Collective have created funds to provide strippers with basic necessities and mental health support. Despite progress made by individual dancers and organizations designed to help their material conditions, multiple dancers told Insider the attitudes surrounding sex work — both from management and clients — urgently need to change to ensure the safety of strippers and other sex workers. "I don't care if I'm naked. That doesn't mean you get to touch me. I don't care if you're paying me for my entertainment. That's what you're paying me for, is my entertainment. And I feel like a lot of customers get that twisted," Mercedes said. "And I'm nobody's property, no dancer is anybody's property."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 5th, 2022

The Tucker Carlson origin story

Tucker Carlson's journey from prep school provocateur to Fox News flamethrower, according to his friends and former classmates. Tucker Carlson during a CNN National Town Meeting on coverage of the White House sex scandal, on January 28, 1998.Richard Ellis/Getty Images Tucker Carlson is remembered as a provocateur and gleeful contrarian by those who knew him in his early days. His bohemian artist mother abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will. At a Rhode Island prep school and at Trinity College, classmates remember him as a skilled debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audiences. On Oct. 29, 1984, New York police killed an elderly Black woman named Eleanor Bumpurs in her own home. Bumpers, who lived in a public housing complex in the Bronx, had fallen four months behind on her rent. When officials from the city housing authority tried to evict her, she refused, and they called the police. Five officers responded by storming into her apartment. Bumpurs, who had a history of mental illness, grabbed a butcher knife as two officers pushed her against a wall with their plastic shields and a metal pole. A third officer fired two shots from his 12-gauge shotgun, striking Bumpurs in her hand and chest.Eleanor Bumpurs' death dominated the city's news for two months and led the NYPD to revise its guidelines for responding to emotionally disturbed individuals.At St. George's prep school, some 175 miles away in Rhode Island, the incident deeply haunted Richard Wayner. He was one of the school's few Black students and had grown up in a residential tower not far from where Bumpurs had lived. He earned straight As and was so admired that in 1984 his peers elected him senior prefect, the prep equivalent of student body president, making him the first Black class leader in the school's 125-year history. Harvard soon beckoned.Wayner was frustrated with how the St. George's community seemed to ignore the conversations about racial justice that were happening outside the cloistered confines of Aquidneck Island. It bothered Wayne that almost no one at St. George's seemed to know anything about Bumpurs' killing. "You had your crew, you put your head down, and you tried to get through three or four years of prep school with your psyche intact," Wayner said of those days.As senior prefect, one of the duties was to deliver an address each week at the mandatory Sunday chapel service. One Sunday, perched from the chapel podium, Wayner described the shooting as a sea of white faces stared back at him. He concluded with the words: "Does anyone think that woman deserved to die?"Near the front of the chapel, a single hand went up for a few brief seconds. It was Tucker Carlson.Eleanor Bumpurs was shot and killed by the New York Police Department on October 29, 1984APThen a sophomore, Tucker had a reputation as a gleeful contrarian – an indefatigable debater and verbal jouster who, according to some, could also be a bit of a jerk. "Tucker was just sort of fearless," said Ian Toll, a St. George's alumnus who would go on to be a military historian. "Whether it was a legitimate shooting may have been a point of debate but the fact was that Tucker was an underclassmen and the culture was to defer to the seniors." Wayner himself never saw Tucker's hand go up, and the two kept in touch over the years. (Note on style: Tucker Carlson and the members of his family are referred to here by their first names to avoid confusion.)  Four decades later, glimmers of that prep school provocateur appear on Tucker's Prime Time show on Fox, which garners an average of between 3 to 4 million viewers a night. His furrowed visage and spoiling-for-a-fight demeanor are all too familiar to those who have known him for decades. In the words of Roger Stone, a Republican political operative, frequent guest, and longtime friend of Tucker's: "Tucker Carlson is the single most influential conservative journalist in America… It is his courage and his willingness to talk about issues that no one else is willing to cover that has led to this development."Tucker's name has even been floated as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024. "I mean, I guess if, like, I was the last person on earth, I could do it. But, I mean, it seems pretty unlikely that I would be that guy." he said on the "Ruthless" podcast in June, dismissing this possibility.Tucker's four decades in Washington, and his transition from conservative magazine writer to right-wing television pundit, have been well documented. But less well known are his early years and how they shaped him: his bohemian artist mother, who abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will; the Rhode Island prep school where he met his future spouse; and his formation into a contrarian debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audience with his attention-getting tactics.Tucker declined to participate in an interview with Insider, saying in a statement. "Your level of interest in the boring details of my life is creepy as hell, and also pathetic," he wrote. "You owe it to yourself and the country to do something useful with your talents. Please reassess."California roots Tucker Carlson's West Coast roots burrow as deep as a giant redwood. He was born in San Francisco in May 1969 as the excesses of the Sixties peaked and the conservative backlash to the counterculture and the Civil Rights movement started to take shape. Tucker's mother, Lisa McNear Lombardi, born in San Francisco in 1945, came from one of the state's storied frontier families. Lisa's mother, Mary Nickel James, was a cattle baron heiress. Her great-great-grandfather had owned 3 million acres of ranchland, making him among the largest landowners west of the Mississippi. Her father Oliver Lombardi was an insurance broker and descendant of Italian-speaking Swiss immigrants. Lisa enrolled at UC Berkeley, where she majored in architecture. She met Richard Carlson, a San Francisco TV journalist from a considerably less prosperous background, while still in college. Lisa and Richard eloped in Reno, Nevada in 1967. The couple didn't notify Lisa's mother, who was traveling in Europe with her new husband at the time. "Family members have been unable to locate them to reveal the nuptials," a gossip item published in the San Francisco Examiner dished.Tucker arrived two years later. A second son, Buckley, was born two years after that. As Richard's career began to flourish, the family moved first to Los Angeles and then, in 1975, to La Jolla, a moneyed, beach-front enclave about 12 miles north of San Diego. When Lisa and Richard divorced a year later, in 1976, Richard got full custody of their sons, then 6 and 4. According to three of Tucker's childhood classmates, Lisa disappeared from her sons' lives. They don't recall Tucker talking about her, or seeing her at school events. Marc Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate who went on to be executive producer of the Tony Kornheiser Show, says the two didn't talk much about Tucker's relationship with his mother and he got the impression that Tucker and Richard were exceptionally close. When Sterne's own parents split up that year, he said Tucker was supportive and understanding. Lisa spent the next two decades as an artist – moving first to Los Angeles, where she befriended the painter David Hockney, and later split her time between France and South Carolina with her husband, British painter Michael Vaughan. In 1979, Richard Carlson married Patricia Swanson, heiress to the Swanson frozen foods empire that perfected the frozen Salisbury steak for hassle-free dinners. She soon legally adopted Tucker and Buckley.  When Lisa died in 2011, her estate was initially divided equally between Tucker, his brother Buckley, and Vaughan. But in 2013, Vaughan's daughter from another marriage found a one-page handwritten document in Lisa's art studio in France that left her assets to her surviving husband with an addendum that stated, "I leave my sons Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson and Buckley Swanson Peck Carlson one dollar each." A protracted battle over Lombardi's estate involving Vaughan and the Carlson brothers wound up in probate court. The Carlsons asserted the will was forged but a forensic witness determined that Lisa had written the note. The case eventually went to the California Appellate Court, which allowed the Carlson brothers to keep their shares in 2019."Lisa was basically sort of a hippie and a free spirit," said one attorney who  represented the Vaughan family and recalled having conversations about the case. "She was very liberal and she did not agree with Tucker's politics. But she stuck the will in the book, everyone forgot about it, and then she passed away."In a 2017 interview with The New Yorker, Tucker described the dissolution of his family as a "totally bizarre situation — which I never talk about, because it was actually not really part of my life at all." Several pieces of art produced by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderLisa When Lisa left her husband and two young sons, she was escaping suburban family life in favor of the more bohemian existence as an artist. One of Tucker and Buckley's former teachers said their mother's absence "left some sour grapes." "I felt they sided with the father," Rusty Rushton, a former St. George's English teacher said. After the divorce, Lisa returned to Los Angeles and tried to break into the city's thriving contemporary art scene. She befriended Mo McDermott, an LA-based British sculptor, model, and longtime assistant to David Hockney, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. A few years before he met Lisa, the scene was captured in Jack Hazan's 1974 groundbreaking documentary "A Bigger Splash," which followed Hockney and his coterie of gay male friends idly lounging around the pool in his Hollywood Hills home."When love goes wrong, there's more than two people who suffer," said McDermott, playing a slightly exaggerated version of himself, in a voiceover in the documentary.Lisa and McDermott became a couple and Lisa won admission into Hockney's entourage. Hockney lived a far more reclusive lifestyle than his pop art compatriot Andy Warhol but some four dozen or so artists, photographers, and writers regularly passed through his properties."She was more like a hippie, arty kind of person. I couldn't ever imagine her being a mother," said Joan Quinn, the then-West Coast editor of Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine, who knew Lisa during those years and still owns several of her works. "She was very nervous all the time… She was ill-content."The pair were often seen at Hockney's Hollywood Hills home and at Friday night gallery openings on La Cienega Boulevard. They collaborated on playful, large-scale wood sculptures of animals, vegetables, and trees. A handful of their pieces could be seen around Hockney's hillside ranch."Hockney had me over to meet them. He wanted a gallery to handle their work," said Molly Barnes, who owns a gallery in West Hollywood and gave the pair shows in 1983 and 1984. "They were brilliant and David loved Mo. He thought they were the best artists around.""She was quiet and intellectual and somewhat withdrawn," Barnes said. "She had come from a lot of money and that reflected on her personality. She wasn't a snob in any way but she had the manners of a private school girl and someone who was fighting the establishment."A sculpture by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderNone of them recall Lisa discussing her two sons. McDermott died in 1988. After his death, Hockney discovered that McDermott had been stealing drawings from him and selling them. Hockney said the betrayal helped bring on a heart attack. "I believe I had a broken heart," Hockney told The Guardian in 1995. (Hockney did not answer multiple inquiries about Lisa or McDermott.)In 1987, Lisa met Vaughan, one of Hockney's peers in the British art scene known as the "Bradford Mafia." They married in February 1989 and for years afterward they lived in homes in the Pyrenees of southwest France and South Carolina's Sea Islands.Lisa continued to make art, primarily oversized, wooden sculptures of everyday household items like peeled lemons and dice, but she exhibited her work infrequently. She died of cancer in 2011, at which point Carlson was a decade into his media career and a regular contributor on Fox News. Richard In contrast to Lisa's privileged upbringing, Richard's childhood was full of loss. Richard's mother was a 15-year-old high school girl who had starved herself during her pregnancy, and he was born with a condition called rickets. Six weeks later, his mother left him at an orphanage in Boston called The Home for Little Wanderers. Richard's father, who was 18, tried to convince her to kidnap the infant and marry him, but she refused. He shot and killed himself two blocks from her home.A Massachusetts couple fostered Richard for two years until he was adopted by a wool broker and his wife, which he described in a 2009 reflection for the Washington Post. His adoptive parents died when he was still a teenager and Richard was sent to the Naval Academy Preparatory School. He later enlisted in the Marines and enrolled in an ROTC program at the University of Mississippi to pay for college.In 1962, Richard developed an itch for journalism while working as a cop in Ocean City, Maryland at the age of 21, and the future NBC political correspondent Catherine Mackin, helped him get a copy boy job at the Los Angeles Times. Richard moved to San Francisco three years later and his career blossomed. He started producing television news features with his friend, Lance Brisson, the son of actress Rosalind Russell. They filmed migrant farm workers in the Imperial Valley living in cardboard abodes in 110 degree weather, traipsed the Sierra Nevada mountains to visit a hermit, and covered the Zodiac Killer and Bay Area riots (during one demonstration in 1966, they sent television feeds from their car where they trapped for four hours  and a crowd roughed up Brisson, which required four stitches under his left eye). Another time, they rented a helicopter in search of a Soviet trawler but they had to jump into the Pacific Ocean when the chopper ran low on fuel near the shore and crashed.In 1969, Richard and Brisson co-wrote an article for Look Magazine that claimed San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto had mafia ties. Alioto sued the magazine's owner for libel and won a $350,000 judgment when a judge determined the article's allegations were made with "actual malice" and "reckless disregard for whether they were true or not." (Richard was not a defendant in the case and has stood by his story. Brisson declined an interview.)Richard moved back to Los Angeles to join KABC's investigative team two years later. One series of stories that delved into a three-wheeled sports car called the Dale and the fraudulent marketing practices of its founder, Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael, won a Peabody award in 1975. The series also outed Carmichael as a transgender woman. (Richard's role in Carmichael's downfall was explored in the HBO documentary "The Lady and the Dale.") Soon after arriving as an anchor for KFMB-TV, San Diego's CBS affiliate, Richard ran a story revealing that tennis pro Renee Richards, who had just won a tournament at the La Jolla Tennis Club, was a transgender woman."I said, 'You can't do this. I am a private person,'" Richards, who years later would advise Caitlyn Jenner about her transition, urged the television journalist to drop his story, according to a 2015 interview. "His reply? 'Dr. Richards, you were a private person until you won that tournament yesterday.'" By the time he left the anchor chair in 1977 to take a public relations job with San Diego Savings and Loan, Richard had soured on journalism. "I have seen a lot of arrogance and hypocrisy in the press and I don't like it," he told San Diego Magazine in 1977. "Television news is insipid, sophomoric, and superficial… There are so many things I think are important and interesting but the media can be counted on to do handstands on that kind of scandal and sexual sensation."Years later, Richard said that he never tried to encourage his eldest son in politics or journalism, but that Tucker had a clear interest in both from an early age. "I never thought he was going to be a reporter or a writer. I never encouraged him to do that," Richard told CSPAN of his eldest son in 2006. "I actually attempted not to encourage him politically, either. I decided those are the things that should be left up to them."A LaJolla, California post card.Found Image Holdings/Corbis via Getty ImagesA La Jolla childhoodAfter the divorce, Richard and his boys stayed in La Jolla in a house overlooking the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Friends of Tucker's would later say that the trauma of their mother's absence brought the three of them closer together.  "They both really admired their dad. He was a great source of wisdom. He's one of the great raconteurs you'll ever meet. They loved that glow that came from him," said Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate. "They both looked up to him, it was clear from my eyes."In an essay included in his book "The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism," Tucker described Richard as a kind parent who imbued family outings with a deeper message.One of Tucker's earliest memories, he writes, was from just after the divorce, when Tucker was seven and Buckley was five: the brothers gripping the edge of a luggage rack on the roof of his family's 1976 Ford Country Squire station wagon, while their father gunned the engine down a dirt road."I've sometimes wondered what car surfing was meant to teach us," Tucker wrote. "Was he trying to instill in us a proper sense of fatalism, the acknowledgement that there is only so much in life you can control? Or was it a lesson about the importance of risk?... Unless you're willing to ride the roof of a speeding station wagon, in other words, you're probably not going to leave your mark on the world."More often, the boys were left unsupervised and found their own trouble. Tucker once took a supermarket shopping cart and raced it down a hill in front of their house with Buckley in its basket. The cart tipped over, leaving Buckley with a bloody nose. He also recalled building makeshift hand grenades with hydrochloric acid and aluminum foil – using a recipe from their father's copy of "The Anarchist Cookbook"  and tossing them onto a nearby golf course."No one I know had a father like mine," Tucker wrote. "My father was funnier and more outrageous, more creative  and less willing to conform, than anyone I knew or have known since. My brother and I had the best time growing up."Richard sent Tucker to La Jolla Country Day, an upscale, largely white private school with a reputation as one of the best in Southern California, for elementary and middle school. In his book, "Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution," Tucker described his first grade teacher Marianna Raymond as "a living parody of earth-mother liberalism" who "wore long Indian-print skirts," and sobbed at her desk over the world's unfairness. "As a conservative, I had contempt for the whiny mawkishness of liberals. Stop blubbering and teach us to read. That was my position," he wrote. "Mrs. Raymond never did teach us; my father had to hire a tutor to get me through phonics.""I beg to differ," Raymond countered in an interview, saying that she was also Tucker's tutor during the summer after first grade and was even hired again. "I'm a great teacher. I'm sure he liked me." For her part, she remembered Tucker as a fair-haired tot who was "very sweet" and "very polite." (When The Washington Post reached out her her, she said Carlson's characterization had been "shocking.")  Friends from La Jolla remember that Tucker loved swimming the mile-and-a-half distance between La Jolla Shores Park and La Jolla Cove, jumping off cliffs that jut out into the Pacific Ocean, riffing on the drums, and playing Atari and BB gun games at the mall with his friends. "He was a happy kid. We were young, so we used to go to the beach. We did normal kid stuff," said Richard Borkum, a friend who is now a San Diego-based attorney. When they weren't at the beach or the mall, Borkum and another friend, Javier Susteata, would hang out at the Carlson home listening to The Who, AC/DC, and other classic rock bands. Borkum said the adults at the Carlson household largely left them alone. "I'm Jewish and Javier was Mexican and I'm not sure they were too happy we were going to their house," Borkum said.Another friend, Warren Barrett, remembers jamming with Tucker and going snow camping at Big Bear and snorkeling off Catalina Island with him in middle school."Tucker and I literally ate lunch together every day for two years," Barrett said. "He was completely the opposite of now. He was a cool southern California surfer kid. He was the nicest guy, played drums, and had a bunch of friends. And then something must have happened in his life that turned him into this evil diabolical shithead he is today."LaJolla is a upscale beach community outside of San Diego. Carlson and his family moved their in 1975.Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesSan Diego's next mayorRichard, meanwhile, was exploring a second career in public service. By 1980, he had risen to vice president of a bank headed by Gordon Luce, a California Republican power broker and former Reagan cabinet official. The following year, Richard's public profile got a boost when he tangled with another veteran television journalist, CBS's Mike Wallace. The 60 Minutes star had interviewed Richard for a story about low-income Californians who faced foreclosures from the bank after borrowing money to buy air conditioners without realizing they put their homes up for collateral. Richard had his own film crew tape the interview, and caught Wallace saying that people who had been defrauded were "probably too busy eating their watermelon and tacos." The remark made national headlines and Wallace was forced to apologize.Pete Wilson, the U.S. Senator and former San Diego mayor, encouraged Richard to run for office. In 1984, Richard entered the race to challenge San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock's re-election. "He was a very well-regarded guy," Hedgecock told Insider. "He had an almost Walter Cronkite-like appearance, but because he was in local news he was all about not offending anybody. He didn't have particularly strong views. He was nice looking, articulate, and made good appearances, but what he had to say was not particularly memorable other than he wanted me out of office."Sometimes Tucker tagged along for campaign events. "He would always show up in a sport coat, slacks and a bowtie and I thought that's really nice clothing for someone who is a kid," Hedgecock remembers. He was a very polite young man who didn't say much."Five days before voters went to the polls, Hedgecock went on trial for 15 counts of conspiracy and perjury, an issue that Richard highlighted in his television campaign ads. Richard still lost to Hedgecock 58 to 42 percent despite pouring nearly $800,000 into the race and outspending Hedgecock two to one. (Hedgecock was found guilty of violating campaign finance laws and resigned from office in 1985 but his convictions were overturned on appeal five years later.)People are seen near a beach in La Jolla, California, on April 15, 2020.Gregory Bull/AP PhotoPrep school In the fall of 1983, a teenaged Tucker traded one idyllic beachfront community for another.At 14, Tucker moved across the country to Middletown, Rhode Island, to attend St. George's School. (Buckley would follow him two years later.) The 125-year-old boarding school sits atop a hill overlooking the majestic Atlantic Ocean, and is on the other side of Aquidneck Island where Richard Carlson went to naval school. The private school was known as a repository for children of wealthy East Coast families who were not as academically inclined as those who attended Exeter or Andover. Its campus had dorms named after titans of industry, verdant athletic fields, and a white-sand beach.Senators Claiborne Pell and Prescott Bush graduated, as did Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and poet Ogden Nash. Tucker's class included "Modern Family" actor Julie Bowen; Dede Gardner, the two-time Oscar-winning producer of "12 Years a Slave" and "Moonlight"; and former DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson. Billy Bush – "Extra" host, and cousin to George W. Bush – was three years behind him.Tuition at St. George's cost $13,000 per year in the 1980s (it's now up to $67,000 for boarding school students) and student schedules were tightly regimented with breakfast, classes, athletics, dinner, and study hall encompassing each day. Students were required to take religion classes, and attend chapel twice a week. Faculty and staff would canvass the dorms on Thursdays and Sundays to ensure no one skipped the Episcopal service. Tucker impressed his new chums as an hyper-articulate merrymaker who frequently challenged upperclassmen who enforced dorm rules and the school's liberal faculty members."He was kind of a California surfer kid. He was funny, very intelligent, and genuinely well-liked," said Bryce Traister, who was one year ahead of Tucker and is now a professor at the University of British Columbia. "There were people who didn't like Tucker because they thought he was a bullshitter but he was very charming. He was a rascal and a fast-talker, as full of shit as he is today."Back then Tucker was an iconoclast more in the mold of Ferris Bueller than preppy neocon Alex P. Keaton, even if his wardrobe resembled the "Family Ties" star. Students were required to wear jackets, ties, and khakis, although most came to class disheveled. Tucker wore well-tailored coats and chinos, pairing his outfit with a ribbon-banded watch and colorful bowtie which would later become his signature. "He was always a very sharp dresser. He had a great rack of ties. He always knew how to tie a bowtie but he didn't exclusively wear a bowtie," said Sterne, Tucker's freshman year roommate. "He always had great clothes. It was a lot of Brooks Brothers." Their crew crew held court in each others' dorm rooms at Auchincloss, the freshman hall, kicking around a Hacky Sack and playing soccer, talking about Adolph Huxley, George Orwell, and Hemingway, and dancing to Tom Petty, the Grateful Dead, and U2 on the campus lawn. Televisions weren't allowed so students listened to their Sony Walkman swapping cassette recordings of live concerts. Tucker introduced several bands to his friends."He loved classic rock and he was and still is a big fan of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead," said Sterne, who saw a Dead show with Tucker at RFK Stadium in 1986.Sometimes the clique got slices at Aquidneck Pizza and played arcade games in town, hung out in history instructor William Schenck's office, and smoked pot and Marlborough Red cigarettes on a porch in the main building's common room that faced the ocean, according to multiple sources. When the school administrators banned smoking indoors the following year so they congregated behind the dumpster behind the dining hall. Vodka (often the brand Popov) mixed with Kool-Aid was the drink of choice and students stockpiled bottles under their beds.Tucker was an enthusiastic drinker, half a dozen classmates recall. In his book, "The Long Slide," Tucker credits Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" for enticing him to try drugs in 10th grade, The experience gave him "double vision and a headache." By the time he got to college, Tucker writes, "I switched to beer."By the late 1990s Tucker stopped smoking. He eventually cut alcohol too in 2002 after drinking so much while covering George W. Bush in New Hampshire during the 2000 primary that he accidentally got on the wrong plane, according to a friend.Most of Tucker's fellow students remember him best as a skilled speaker."He was always eager to take the less palatable side of the argument and argue that side," said Mahlon Stewart, who attended prep school and college with Tucker and is now a geriatric specialist at Columbia University. "Back then it was comedic. I thought it was an act.""His confidence was just amazing. He could just put out some positions and be willing to argue anything no matter how outlandish," Keller Kimbrough, a former classmate who's now a professor at the University of Colorado. "We were talking about politics and religion one time Tucker pulled this card out of his wallet and said, 'Well actually I'm an ordained minister, I'm an authority on the subject.' This was a stunt. He could literally play the religion card." "When he got the job at Fox I just thought 'Wow that's perfect for him, that's exactly what he can do.'"Their dorm room discourses were never serious. Tucker would pick a side in a debate between whether the color red or blue were better, and the crowd would erupt whenever he made a good point, friends said.  "Even at age 15 he was verbally dexterous and a great debater," Ian Toll said. "His conservative politics was fully formed even back then. He believed in strong defense and minimal government."His teachers saw a pupil who was primed for law school."Language and speaking came naturally to him. He took pleasure in it," said Rusty Rushton, Tucker's former English teacher. Tucker's politics, though, "seemed fluid to me," Rushton said. "I don't think of him as a deeply ensconced ideologue."He ditched soccer after sophomore year to act in a school theater production of Ayn Rand's courtroom thriller "Night of January 16th" (Julie Bowen starred as the prosecuting attorney. Tucker played a juror). But Tucker found his voice in competitive debate when he eventually joined the school's debate club. The team traveled to other private school campuses to compete against schools like Andover, Exeter, and Roxbury Latin in tournaments."He won some debate and basically did a victory lap afterward and got in the face of all the faculty there," one alum from a rival school who debated against Tucker said. "After defeating the student team, he started challenging the faculty, and said, 'Do any of you want to take me on? Are any of you capable of debating me?'"SusieIn the fall of Tucker's sophomore year, a new headmaster arrived at St. George's, Rev. George Andrews II. Andrews' daughter, Susie – who Tucker would eventually marry – was in Tucker's class. According to school tradition, a rotating group of underclassmen was charged with serving their classmates dinner and, one night in late September, Tucker and Susie had the shift at the same time. "They were sitting at a table at the far end of Queen Hall just leaning in, talking to each other," Sterne recalled. "You could see the sparks flying, which was cool."Susie floated between the school's friend groups easily. When she was seen mingling with Tucker, some questioned what she saw in him."People were saying, 'Come on Susie, why are you dating Tucker?' He's such a loser slacker and she was so sweet," Traister said. The pair started dating at the age of 15 and quickly became inseparable. Tucker gained notoriety on campus for repeatedly sneaking into Susie's room on the second floor of Memorial Schoolhouse, the school's stately administrative office that housed the headmaster's quarters. He had less time for his dumpster buddies now that the couple hung out on the campus lawn, attended chapel and an interdenominational campus ministry organization called FOCUS. His senior yearbook included a photo of Tucker squinting in concern to a classmate, with the caption "What do you mean you told Susie?While Susie was universally liked within the St. George's community, her father was polarizing.Andrews led the school during a turbulent period – it was later revealed – when its choirmaster Franklin Coleman was accused of abusing or having inappropriate conduct with at least 10 male students, according to an independent investigation by the law firm Foley Hoag in 2016. (Two attorneys representing several victims said 40 alumni contacted them with credible accounts of molestation and rape accusations at the hands of St. George's employees between 1974 and 2004 after a 2015 school-issued report detailed 26 accounts of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. (Coleman was never criminally charged and he has not responded to Insider's attempts to reach him.) Over his eight-year tenure as school music director, from 1980 to 1988, Coleman invited groups of boys to his apartment for private parties. Sometimes he shared alcohol and pot with some of them, gave them back and neck rubs, showed pornographic videos, traveled with them on choral trips and stayed in their hotel rooms, and appeared nude around some of them, the report found. Several of Tucker's classmates and former faculty said they had no reason to believe he would have been aware of the accusations. "There were rumors circulating wildly that Coleman was bad news. The idea was he would cultivate relationships with young men," Ian Toll, a St. George's alum, said. "Anyone who was there at that time would have likely been aware of those rumors."Andrews told Foley Hoag investigators he was not aware of any complaints about Coleman until May 1988 (by then, Tucker had finished his freshman year in college) when school psychiatrist Peter Kosseff wrote a report detailing a firsthand account of misconduct. But Andrews acknowledged to investigators the school could have been aware of "prior questionable conduct" before then, the report said. Andrews fired Coleman in May 1988 after the school confronted Coleman with allegations of misconduct and he did not deny them. According to the investigation, Andrews told students Coleman resigned due to "emotional stress" and that he had the "highest regard and respect for him." On the advice of a school attorney, Andrews did not report the music teacher to child protective services. He also knew that his faculty dean wrote Coleman a letter of recommendation for a job at another school, according to investigators. Andrews left the school a few weeks after Coleman departed. By September 1989, he was named headmaster at St. Andrew's School in Boca Raton, Florida which he led for 18 years. (Andrews declined to speak about Tucker or his tenure at either school.) St. George's, meanwhile, reached an undisclosed settlement with up to 30 abuse survivors in 2016. Coleman found work as a choir director at Tampa Preparatory School in Tampa Bay, Florida before he retired in 2008. Tucker Carlson attended St. George’s School, a boarding school starting at age 14.Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesTrinity In the fall of 1987, Tucker enrolled at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, where Rev. Andrews had also attended.Nearly two-thirds of Trinity's student body back then originated from private schools and many came from wealthy backgrounds. Tuition in 1987 cost $11,700 plus an additional $3,720 for room and board—around $27,839 in today's dollars."When the Gulf War broke out" in 1990, one Trinity alum who knew Tucker recalled, "there was a big plywood sign in front of the student center that read, 'Blood for Oil,' and someone else threw a bucket of paint on it."The posh campus was situated in the middle of Hartford, Connecticut, the state's capital and one of its poorest cities. Discussions about race and inequality were sometimes at the forefront of campus politics, but many students avoided engaging in them entirely."There were issues about whether black students should only date other black students, that kind of thing," said Kathleen Werthman, a classmate of Tucker's who now works at a Florida nonprofit for people with disabilities. "My sophomore year, for new students, they had a speaker talking about racism, and one of the students said, 'I never met a black student, how are you supposed to talk to them?' And the idea that only white people can be racist was challenged too."Susie was at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. His brother remained in Rhode Island and other prep school friends had fanned out across the East Coast. Tucker moved into a four-bedroom dormitory overlooking the main quad. One suitemate, Neil Patel, was an economics major from Massachusetts who played intramural softball. (They would co-found the Daily Caller together two decades years later.) Other roommates played on the varsity soccer team and they formed a tight-knit group."I remember being struck by him. He was the same way he is now," said Rev. Billy Cerveny, a college friend of Tucker's who's now a pastor at Redbird Nashville. "He was a force of nature. He had a sense of presence and gravitas. You might get into an argument with him, but you end up loving the guy."Tucker often went out of his way to amuse his friends. Once during the spring semester, several activists set up a podium and microphone beneath his dorm window to protest the CIA's on-campus recruitment visits. The demonstration was open-mic so Tucker went up to the stage and told the crowd of about 15 people, "I think you're all a bunch of greasy chicken fuckers.""I think people laughed. He did," Cerveny said. "There was always a small collection of people any time there was an issue who tried to stir the pot in that way. Some people were dismissive and other people loved it, thinking 'Oh we're getting a fight here.'"As a sophomore, Tucker and his friends moved into a dingy three-story house on Crescent Street on the edge of the campus. He ditched his tailored jackets, khakis, and bowties for oversized Levi jeans, t-shirts, and untucked oxford shirts. Tucker commandeered a low-ceilinged room above the front porch with so many windows he had to hang up tapestries to keep out the sun. The tiny alcove had barely enough space for an eight-foot futon and several bookshelves Tucker built himself stacked with books he collected. Friends remember Tucker receiving an 8-by-10 manilla envelope that his father sent through the mail once or twice a month containing dozens of articles from newspapers and magazines.One of Tucker's friends, Cerveny, remembered stopping by Richard's home in Washington, D.C. and finding evidence of his hobbies, including the world's second largest collection of walking sticks."His house was filled with rare canes he collected from all over the world," Cerveny said. "The hallways had really amazing rows of canes hung on hooks that were specially made to mount these things on the house. One used to be a functional shotgun, another one was made out of a giraffe. His dad would pull out newspaper clippings of WWII Navy aircraft carriers. It changed the way I thought about a lot of things. I had never seen anything like that. Who collects canes?"During sophomore year, Tucker's friends decided to rush Delta Phi, a well-to-do fraternity also known as St. Elmo's. The Greek scene had a large presence on campus — about 20 percent of men joined them even though Trinity was a liberal arts school — and St. Elmo's had a reputation as freewheeling scamps. Once a year, a St. Elmo's brother would ride his motorcycle naked through the campus cafeteria. (Faculty voted in 1992 to abolish Greek life saying they were sexist and racist, and school administrators instead forced fraternities to become co-ed.)But Tucker refused to come aboard. Some classmates thought it was because he didn't want to be hazed."Tucker was not a joiner like that," Mahlon Stewart said. "He wouldn't have set himself up for whatever humiliation would have been involved. He would not have put up with that." But Cerveny, who pledged the fraternity, said it was a matter of faith."I remember explicitly him saying 'Look, I want to focus on what my faith is about and I thought this would be a big distraction,'" Cerveny said. "But he was very much in the mix with us. When we moved to a fraternity house [on Broad Street], we asked him to live with us."Tucker occasionally dropped in on his friends' fraternity events and occasionally brought Susie when she visited or Buckley when he drifted into town. Other times they hung out at Baker's Cafe on New Britain Avenue. Mostly Tucker stayed in his room."He was basically a hermit. It wasn't like he was going to a ton of parties" one Trinity St. Elmo's brother said. "He was not a part of the organizational effort of throwing big parties, or encouraging me to join the fraternity." Susie, who didn't drink or smoke, was a moderating influence. "Tucker and Susie had their moral compass pointing north even back then," Sterne said. "Tucker's faith was not something he was focused on in his early years but when he met Susie and he became close to her family, that started to blossom and grow in him. Now it's a huge part of his life."By the time his crew moved to another house on Broad Street, they each acquired vintage motorcycles and tinkered with them in their garage. Tucker owned a 1968 flathead Harley Davidson that barely ran and relied on a red Jeep 4X4 to transport friends around town (the Volkswagen van he had freshman year blew up). He smoked Camel unfiltered cigarettes, sipped bourbon, and occasionally brewed beer in the basement, including a batch he named "Coal Porter," according to GQ.When he wasn't reading outside of his courses or tinkering with his carburetor, Tucker took classes in the humanities and ultimately majored in history. Tucker dabbled in other fields including Russian history, Jewish history, Women's Studies, and Religious Studies, sitting in the back of lecture halls with his friends. Ron Kiener, who taught an introductory level course in Judaism, recalled Tucker performing "poorly" but earning a credit. "He did not get a stellar grade from me," Kiener said. "Based on what he says now he surely didn't get very much out of my courses."But Leslie Desmangles, who led courses in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Myth, Rite, and Sacrament, said Tucker was engaged and likely did just enough to pass his courses even if he wasn't very studious or vocal in class discussions."He was interested in understanding the nature of religious belief and studying different cultures and religions but I'm not sure if he had an interest in diversity," Desmangles said. "He was genuinely interested in ritual since a lot of the Episcopal church is highly ritualistic."Tucker's fascination with religion extended to his extracurricular activities too. He and several friends joined Christian Fellowship, a Bible study group that met weekly and helped the school chaplain lead Sunday services. Some members even volunteered with ConnPIRG, a student advocacy group on hunger and environmental issues, and traveled to Washington D.C. to protest the Gulf War. But Tucker steered clear of campus activism. He spent his free time reading and seeing Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic, and Sting perform when they came through Connecticut. Sometimes he skipped school to follow his favorite band, the Grateful Dead, on tour.He took an interest in Central American politics too. At the end of freshman year, Tucker and Patel traveled to Nicaragua. "We did not have a place to stay or any set plans," Tucker told the Trinity Tripod, his college paper, in March 1990. "It was very spontaneous. We are both extremely political and we felt that getting to know the country and some of its citizens would give us a better perspective on the situation." In February 1990, Tucker returned with three friends to Managua for 10 days to observe Nicaragua's elections. The National Opposition Union's Violetta Chamoro, which was backed by the U.S. government, defeated the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front Daniel Ortega who had been in power since 1979. A month later Tucker and his classmate Jennifer Barr, who was separately in Nicaragua to observe elections and distribute medical supplies to the Sandinistas, shared their perspectives about their visits to a small crowd at the Faculty Club for the school's Latin America Week. Tucker thought press coverage of the election was too left-leaning and criticized the media for skewing a conservative victory, according to Barr."I don't think it was necessarily true," Barr said. "He was dismissive [about my views]. I did get a sense that he believed in what he was saying, and it was very different from my experience and my understanding of the race."Tucker's stance on U.S. politics at the time was less didactic. As the 1992 presidential election loomed his senior year, Tucker touted the independent candidacy of Ross Perot, a Texas business magnate, to his friends although it did not appear that Tucker was an ardent supporter."Tucker would go on and on about how Ross Perot was the answer to this or that, as a joke, and every one would participate" one St. Elmo's brother said. "He liked the way Ross Perot was basically throwing a wrench into the system. He wasn't a serious Ross Perot proponent. He was cheering on somebody who was screwing up the system."In Tucker's college yearbook, below his tousle-haired, bowtie wearing thumbnail photo, was a list of his extra-curricular activities: "History; Christian Fellowship 1 2 3 4, Jesse Helms Foundation, Dan White Society." Neither of the latter two – named, respectively, after the ultra-conservative North Carolina Senator, and a San Francisco supervisor who assassinated Harvey Milk in 1978 – ever existed. Tucker admired Helms for being a "bull in the china shop" of Congress, one classmate said. Some friends believed Tucker slipped in the off-color references as a lark."It's like a joke you and a friend would put in a series of anagrams that only you and two friends would remember and no one else would," the St. Elmo's friend said. "It's so niche that only someone like Tucker is thinking things like that or would even know the name of the person who killed Harvey Milk. He paid attention to things like that."Others claimed Tucker was the victim of a prank."It would not at all surprise me if one of the other guys in the [fraternity] house filled it in for him, and not just an inside joke, but pegging him with something that he got grief for," another close friend said. Protesters rally against Fox News outside the Fox News headquarters at the News Corporation building, March 13, 2019 in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesAn outsider among insidersBy the spring of 1991, Tucker's academic performance had caught up with him. He had accumulated a 1.9 grade point average and may have finished with a 2.1 GPA, according to one faculty member who viewed a copy of his transcript. Tucker would eventually graduate from Trinity a year late. Falling behind was not uncommon. About 80 percent of Trinity students completed their degrees in four years, according to Trinity College records. (A Trinity spokeswoman would not comment on Tucker's transcript due to FERPA laws, which protect student privacy.Tucker's post-collegiate plans fell through too. Tucker applied to the CIA that spring. The spy agency passed."He mentioned that he had applied and they rejected him because of his drug use," another college friend said, while declining to be named. "He was too honest on his application. I also probably should say I don't know whether he was telling the truth or not." Once the school year was over, Tucker and Neil Patel hit the road on a cross-country motorcycle ride. After that: Washington DC.  Tucker's family left Southern California for Georgetown after President Reagan named his father head of Voice of America. In June 1991, President George H.W. Bush appointed Richard ambassador to the Seychelles and the Carlson family upgraded to a nicer house in Georgetown with a pool in the basement. That summer, with Tucker's father and stepmother often out of town, the Carlson household was the center of Tucker's social lives, the place they retired to after a night drinking at Georgetown college dive bars like Charing Cross and Third Edition, and pubs like Martin's Tavern and The Tombs, immortalized in St. Elmo's Fire. In August, Tucker and Susie got married in St. George's chapel and held a reception at the Clambake Club of Newport, overlooking the Narragansett Bay. Back in Washington, Tucker's prep school, college, and his father's Washington-based networks began to mesh. Tucker took a $14,000-a-year job as an assistant editor and fact checker of Policy Review, a quarterly journal published at the time by the Heritage Foundation, the nation's leading conservative think tank. For the next three decades, Tucker thrived in the Beltway: He joined The Weekly Standard and wrote for several magazines before appearing on cable news networks as a right-of-center analyst and host at CNN, PBS, and MSNBC. His father embarked on a third career as a television executive where he ran the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and his brother became a political operative and a pollster. By the time Tucker reached the core of the conservative media sphere, a slot on Fox News's primetime opinion lineup, he shed friends from his youth who couldn't grapple with the hard-right turn he veered once he became the face of the network.One friend was not surprised with Tucker's act. In the spring of 2016, during the heat of Donald Trump's presidential campaign against Hilary Clinton and a few months before "Tucker Carlson Tonight" premiered on Fox, Tucker had lunch with his old prep school classmate Richard Wayner who made the speech about Eleanor Bumpurs all those years ago. Wayner believed Tucker's gesture from his pew was never serious. "As a 9th or 10th grader in a chapel full of people in a conversation, he was trying to get attention," Wayner said.The two stayed in touch over the years and Tucker at one point suggested he write a handful of pieces for the Daily Caller, the conservative news and opinion site that Tucker co-founded and ran in the 2010s. As they settled into their table at a Midtown Manhattan steakhouse, the two chatted about Wayner's experience on the board of St. George's (which Susie was about to join) and their respective careers. Tucker was floating around at Fox, and Wayner, now an investor and former Goldman Sachs investment banker, said the conversation drifted toward salaries."He was asking, 'How much do you make on Wall Street' and was like, 'Wow, Wall Street guys make a lot.'" Wayner said. When they left the restaurant and headed back toward the Fox News headquarters, several people recognized Tucker on the street even though he had jettisoned his trademark bowtie years ago. Wayner saw Tucker making the pragmatic decision to follow a business model that has made his conservative media counterparts a lot of money."I don't think he has a mission. I don't think he has a plan," Wayner said. "Where he is right now is about as great as whatever he thought he could be.""Tucker knows better. He does. He can get some attention, money, or both." he added. "To me, that's a shame. Because he knows better." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 5th, 2022

Bear of the Day: Biogen (BIIB)

Generic sales hit MS franchise and Alzheimer's treatment is slow starter: EPS forecasts down 20% In early February, Biogen BIIB reported Q4 2021 earnings per share of $3.39, which slightly beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.32. In the year-ago quarter Biogen had recorded a loss of $1.05 per share.Sales came in at $2.73 billion, down 4% from the year-ago quarter, hurt by lower sales of Tecfidera and Spinraza. Sales, however, beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.62 billion.Product sales in the quarter were $2.19 billion, down almost 5% year over year. Royalties on sales of Roche's Ocrevus were $261.2 million in the quarter, down 29% year over year. Biogen receives royalties on U.S. sales of Roche’s MS drug, Ocrevus.Revenues from Biogen's share of Roche's drugs, Rituxan and Gazyva declined 29.4% from the year-ago period to $152.9 million due to biosimilar competition. Other revenues declined 4.4% in the quarter to $126.2 million.Outlook and Estimate RevisionsThe company also offered subdued guidance due to generic sales hitting its key MS franchise Tecfidera, whose sales declined almost 20% to $486.5 million in the quarter as multiple generic products have been launched in the United States.Since this report, Wall Street analyst have been busy taking down earnings estimates for the $30 billion drug maker. The Zacks EPS consensus for this year has dropped over 17% from $18.78 to $15.52.And next year's estimates were slashed 20% from $20.32 to $16.17.The Big UncertaintiesBiogen’s MS revenues were $1.79 billion in the reporter quarter, including Ocrevus royalties, which declined 1% (both actual and constant currency basis) year over year.Biogen is having a tough time as multiple generic versions of blockbuster drug, Tecfidera have been launched, which are significantly eroding the drug’s sales. Spinraza’s sales are being hurt by the negative impact of COVID-19 and a lower rate of new patient starts due to increased competition.And while hopes have been high for the only drug approved to treat Alzheimer's Disease, the launch of Aducanumab, sold under the brand name Aduhelm, has been underwhelming. It is an amyloid beta-directed monoclonal antibody that targets aggregated forms of amyloid beta found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease to reduce its buildup.Though Biogen believes in Aduhelm’s long-term potential, its launch has been slow due to limited patient access amid a lack of clarity on Aduhelm reimbursement. Biogen expects minimal Aduhelm revenues in 2022 due to the uncertainty around reimbursement.Rest of the Commercial ArsenalNew drug Vumerity recorded $124.9 million in sales, higher than $120.9 million in the previous quarter.Tysabri sales rose 7.9% year over year to $512.7 million.Combined interferon revenues (Avonex and Plegridy) in the quarter were $377.7 million, down 17.2% year over year.Sales of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) drug Spinraza declined 12% (10% on a constant currency basis) year over year to $441 million.In the quarter, biosimilars revenues rose 12% year over year (13% in constant currency) to $221 million.Biogen markets three anti-TNF biosimilars in Europe — Flixabi (a biosimilar referencing Remicade), Benepali (a biosimilar referencing Enbrel) and Imraldi (a biosimilar referencing Humira) through Samsung Bioepis, the joint venture with its South Korean partner, Samsung Biologics. Last month, Biogen announced an agreement with Samsung Biologics to sell its equity stake in Samsung Bioepis for a payment of up to $2.3 billion. With the acquisition of Biogen’s 49.9% stake in Samsung Bioepis, Samsung Biologics will have full ownership of the joint venture.New Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm, approved in June 2021, recorded sales of $1.0 million in the fourth quarter, compared to $0.3 million in the previous quarter. The launch of the drug has been slow as patient access is limited and Biogen generated only $3 million in sales in 2021.In January 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed National Coverage Determination (NCD) decision for the class of anti-amyloid antibodies like Aduhelm. Per the NDC, Medicare proposes covering FDA-approved drugs like Aduhelm only for patients enrolled in qualifying clinical studies. The final decision is expected in April. If the draft decision is approved finally in April, it will restrict patient access to Aduhelm and hurt sales of the drug in 2022 as well. However, the final decision could vary from the draft ruling.In December 2021, Biogen lowered the wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) of Aduhelm by approximately 50% effective Jan 1, 2022, expecting the demand to improve as a result.Research and development (R&D) expenses were $700 million, down 59% year over year. Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses declined 2.2% year over year to $785 million.Recent Analyst MovesBiogen price target lowered to $225 from $230 at BofA.Last week, Bank of American analyst Geoff Meacham lowered the firm's price target on Biogen (BIIB) to $225 from $230, and kept a Neutral rating on the shares following Eisai's (ESALY) recent decision to amend the companies' Alzheimer's collaboration, which he said "was a surprise to the market" before CMS' final NCD decision due on April 11.After revising his model to reflect the update and Eisai willing to forgo its share of Aduhelm's profits in exchange for decommitting from further investments, and also using a decision-tree analysis, he derives a present value of $170M for Aduhelm, but notes that assuming the final NCD resembles the draft his model of the value of Aduhelm would fall to negative $67M. Meacham's updated model also adds lecanemab with a 40% estimate for its odds of success.Bottom line on BIIB: This key innovator is a must-own for large-cap Biotech portfolios. And it is probably fairly valued near $200. So buying on dips isn't a bad strategy. But it's best to wait until the EPS stop going down and stabilize. The Zacks Rank will let you know. Just Released: Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2022 In addition to the investment ideas discussed above, would you like to know about our 10 top buy-and-hold tickers for the entirety of 2022? Last year's 2021 Zacks Top 10 Stocks portfolio returned gains as high as +147.7%. Now a brand-new portfolio has been handpicked from over 4,000 companies covered by the Zacks Rank. Don’t miss your chance to get in on these long-term buysAccess Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2022 today >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Biogen Inc. (BIIB): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksApr 4th, 2022

House votes to censure GOP Rep. Paul Gosar after he tweeted an edited anime video that showed him killing AOC

Democrats have criticized the Republican lawmaker following his violent anime tweet aimed at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Joe Biden. Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona rides alone on a subway car to the Capitol Building on November 17, 2021.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images The House on Wednesday voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar and remove him from his committee assignments. The rebuke comes after Gosar posted an anime video edited that showed him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Just two Republicans joined Democrats in support of the resolution.  The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to censure Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona and remove him from his committee assignments after he posted an anime video that was edited to depict him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.Just two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, joined all Democrats in a 223-207 vote in support of the censure resolution. GOP Rep. David Joyce voted "present." Censure refers to a formal condemnation of an elected official. Several House Democrats, including Ocasio-Cortez, expressed their support for the move ahead of Wednesday's vote."As leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country," Ocasio-Cortez said as lawmakers debated the resolution on the House floor. "That is where we must draw the line." Republicans, meanwhile, sought to portray the Democratic-led vote as an abuse of power, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy repeatedly invoking the phrase "rules for thee but not for me."In his own defense, Gosar said on Wednesday that "it was not my purpose to make anyone upset" and that "there is no threat" in the video he tweeted. It's the first time the House has voted to censure a member since 2010, when-Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel was rebuked over ethics violations.—Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (@RepGosar) November 17, 2021 Gosar's anime video violated Twitter's 'hateful conduct' policyWednesday's rebuke comes after Gosar on November 7 posted a video on Twitter that depicted an edited version of the opening credits of a Japanese animated series called "Attack on Titan," a show that centers on a hero who fights giant creatures called Titans.In the 90-second clip, Gosar, along with fellow GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, are seen attacking the "Titan" characters. Gosar's face is superimposed over one character that kills a Titan with Ocasio-Cortez's face on it. Gosar's character also swings two swords at a Titan with Biden's face on it.The tweet was captioned: "Any anime fans out there?"Democrats swiftly condemned the video as Gosar glorifying violence against his own colleague and the president, and called for the Republican lawmaker to be punished. Ocasio-Cortez herself slammed Gosar in a tweet as "a creepy member" she works with who "shared a fantasy video of him killing me.""And he'll face no consequences bc @GOPLeader cheers him on with excuses," the New York lawmaker wrote, tagging McCarthy on Twitter.Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona arrives to his office on Capitol Hill on November 17, 2021.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesTwitter flagged Gosar's tweet as a violation of its "hateful conduct" policies but did not remove the tweet because the company "determined that it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain accessible," a spokesperson said. Gosar deleted the tweet on November 9.Gosar has sought to defend himself amid the backlash, saying that he does not endorse violence against Ocasio-Cortez and Biden. The video was meant to be "symbolic" of the GOP's fight against the Democratic party's agenda, particularly regarding immigration policy, he said."The cartoon depicts the symbolic nature of a battle between lawful and unlawful policies and in no way intended to be a targeted attack against Representative Cortez or Mr. Biden," Gosar said in a November 9 statement, misspelling Ocasio-Cortez's last name.On Tuesday, Gosar tried explaining the video in a GOP conference meeting, reportedly telling his colleagues, "I don't believe in violence against any member."Ahead of Wednesday's vote, Gosar also compared himself to Alexander Hamilton. "If I must join Alexander Hamilton, the first person attempted to be censured by this House, so be it. It is done," he said. The lawmaker appeared to be referencing when the House unsuccessfully tried to censure Hamilton while he served as the US's first Treasury Secretary.'We've got to act in a decisive fashion'Before the vote, House Republicans argued that stripping Gosar of his committee assignment would set a problematic precedent. McCarthy, for his part, has previously vowed to strip Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar of her committee assignments if the party regains the majority next year due to GOP allegations of anti-Semitism against her.Democrats have dismissed the argument. Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told Insider on Wednesday that "none of this would be an issue if Kevin McCarthy was willing to step up and hold his out-of-control members accountable.""I'm not gonna live my life in fear of what the out-of-control cover-up caucus may do at some hypothetical point in time in the future," he added. "We've got to act in a decisive fashion to make clear that violence against women is never acceptable."Omar was also dismissive of McCarthy's threat, characterizing it as "childish.""I don't really care for it," Omar told Insider. "The whataboutism is a distraction from the actual problem that they have in their caucus." Omar also said the censure vote was an issue of workplace safety. "The presence of many of my colleagues on the Republican side has made us feel less safe," she said.House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks with fellow Republicans on the House steps as the House debates censuring Rep. Paul Gosar on November 17, 2021 in Washington, DC.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesMcCarthy has largely defended Gosar in comments to reporters this week."He didn't see [the video] before it posted. It was not his intent to show any harm," McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday. "What I said to the conference was, [we] cannot accept any action or showing of a violence to another member."McCarthy has previously protected House Republicans despite pressure to reprimand them over their actions. Earlier this year, Democrats denounced Gosar over his connection to white nationalist Nick Fuentes. The lawmaker spoke at the America First Political Action conference, a far-right event led and attended by Fuentes, in February. Gosar was also pictured on a flyer of a fundraiser for Fuentes' organization in June. But Gosar denied having any ties to Fuentes, and McCarthy dismissed the matter.Gosar has been embroiled in other controversies in recent months, from claiming that the 2020 election was "stolen" to downplaying the violent January 6 insurrection. Gosar was criticized by lawmakers of both parties after he blamed the death of Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt on police.The rebuke also comes months after House Democrats voted to strip fellow far-right lawmaker Greene from her committee assignments in February. That vote came in response to the Georgia congresswoman's past support on social media for right-wing conspiracy theories and political violence. McCarthy, at the time, accused Democrats of a "partisan power grab."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 17th, 2021

Tesla opening its Supercharger network to rivals could be a brilliant marketing move from a company that famously doesn"t advertise — with one big risk

Tesla's plan to let owners of other electric cars use some of its charging stations could boost sales. But it's a gamble, experts say. For the first time, Tesla is opening up its Superchargers in the US to drivers of non-Tesla cars.Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images Tesla plans to open 3,500 of its fast-charging plugs to all electric-car owners by the end of 2024.  Until now, Tesla's Supercharger network was only for Tesla owners in the US.  Some experts say the plan could boost Tesla's brand and ultimately help it sell more cars.  If you own any electric car that isn't a Tesla, you've probably gazed longingly at the brand's sleek Supercharger stations, which are common and famously easy to use, but historically off-limits to outsiders. But that's all changing. Tesla has decided to open up thousands of its roadside fast-charging plugs to all electric-vehicle owners by the end of 2024. The move brings Elon Musk's firm a new revenue stream and allows it to access public funding for charging infrastructure. Some industry experts also think welcoming outsiders into Tesla's walled garden could be a smart marketing move, particularly for a company that rejects traditional advertising. According to Loren McDonald, CEO of EV industry consultancy EVAdoption, the Supercharger network serves as Tesla's single biggest marketing tactic. Light-years ahead of other charging providers in terms of reliability, convenience, and number of locations, the sprawling network helps relieve the anxieties of ditching gasoline and attracts buyers. Inviting owners of electric Fords and Porsches to plug in at some locations may be Musk's crafty way of building the Tesla brand and showcasing its technology to potential customers, McDonald told Insider. "That additional brand exposure is probably a big part of the reasoning behind this," he said. Sam Abuelsamid, an auto industry analyst at Guidehouse Insights, agrees that expanding Supercharger access could help Tesla sell more cars. Charging takes a while and is generally a more social activity than quickly grabbing gas, presenting an opportunity for Supercharger patrons to get familiar with Tesla's vehicles, he told Insider. "Because Tesla doesn't have traditional dealerships, there are a lot fewer places where you can just stop and browse," he said. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.After years of tremendous sales growth, Tesla has faced questions recently about how whether the voracious appetite for its cars will last. This year, it's slashed prices across its lineup in a bid to move more vehicles. The charging plan is a gamble and could also have the opposite effect, experts said. Some Tesla drivers may realize they don't need to buy from Musk to reap the benefits of Supercharger infrastructure. They may peek inside a Rivian R1T or schmooze with a Volkswagen ID.4 owner and realize a different vehicle better fits their needs."When the Ford Mustang Mach-E driver plugs in next to the Tesla Model Y driver and they chat, who knows? It could go either way," McDonald said. Analysts see another risk: A boom in demand for limited charging stalls could frustrate Tesla owners by crowding popular stations. Moving forward, Tesla will need to be careful not to degrade the experience too much for its existing customers, Abuelsamid said."You don't want to abandon the customer base that got you to where you are today," he said. "But at the same time you ideally want to get some of those other potential advantages."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 17th, 2023

Victor Davis Hanson: The March Madness Of The President

Victor Davis Hanson: The March Madness Of The President Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via, Joe Biden’s political utility and near senility serve as exemptions for his often sexist, racist, and creepy riffs... Another couple of weeks, another bout of madness from Joe Biden and his team. Of recent Biden delusions, consider: Biden went off in one of his impromptu Corn Pop, or “beat-up-Trump-behind-the-bleachers” fables. These often slurred and nearly unintelligible tales characteristically virtue signal Biden’s own victimhood and “courage.”  They are interspersed with his bizarre propensity for eerie female contact. So we see or hear of his long record of blowing into the ears and hair, or squeezing the necks of young girls. He hugs, for far too long, mature women. He can call out among a crowd an anonymous attractive teen stranger. Or, recently he relates an incoherent but quasi-sexual vignette.  So Joe recalled his patient days in his usual off-topic “no lie/not kidding/no joke” manner (i.e., tip offs that he’s lying). He told us that a noble nurse once would “come in and do things that I don’t think you learn in medical school—in nursing school.” The president got a nervous laugh from the apparent quasi-pornographic reference (but then again Joe is excused because he is a “feminist”), before he detailed her technique:   She’d whisper in my ear.  I didn’t—couldn’t understand her, but she’d whisper, and she’d lean down. She’d actually breathe on me to make sure that I was—there was a connection, a human connection. A woman leaning over to blow into a prone man’s ear certainly constitutes a “human connection.” Yet all of Joe’s fables have different Homeric-style retellings. Two years ago he claimed that the same nurse in question actually blew into his nostrils. What a strange air-pressure technique that must have entailed for a person recovering from brain surgery. But perhaps it was consistent with biblical references to God blowing the spirit of life into the nose of man. About a week later, referencing that hospital stay, Biden added that doctors “had to take the top of my head off a couple times, see if I had a brain”—a reference that did not reassure the nation he is not enfeebled.  No one in the media had much of a reaction because Joe Biden’s political utility and near senility serve as exemptions for his often sexist, racist, and creepy riffs.  Instead, the media wrote off the nurse breathing into good ol’ Joe’s orifices as belonging to the same weird genre that a while back gave us inner-city kids stroking the golden hairs on Joe’s tan legs, or the shower revelations of Ashley Biden’s diary, or his “you ain’t’ black,” “put y’all back in chains,” and “junkie” sorts of racial condescension (e.g., “Why the hell would I take a test? C’mon, man. That’s like saying you, before you got on this program, you take a test where you’re taking cocaine or not. What do you think? Huh? Are you a junkie?”).  Joe also blustered to a crowd during Black History Month, “I may be a white boy, but I’m not stupid.”  The crowd laughed at the idea that the jester Biden believes white people are usually stupid, but that he, Joe, the exception to his race, is not stupid, despite being white. At least Biden finally referenced himself as “boy.” Usually he has used that racial putdown for prominent blacks like Maryland Governor Wes Moore or a senior White House advisor Cedric Richmond. The February-March madness of Joe was not through. Sometimes, his venom renders him disgustedly comic, as when he took the occasion of mass American deaths from fentanyl on his watch, to chuckle that the carnage was at least worse under Trump (an abject lie):  ‘I should digress, probably. I’ve read, she [Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene], she was very specific recently, saying that a mom, a poor mother who lost two kids to fentanyl, that, that I killed her sons. Well, the interesting thing is that fentanyl they took came during the last administration.’ Followed by the Biden laugh. Apparently, 100,000 dead at least deserves from Joe a “Trump did it” chuckle. Joe, for the third time in two years, tripped and nearly fell ascending the ramp of Air Force One. At some point even his supporters will concede that when octogenarians repeatedly stumble and fall, if not put under careful watch or provided a walker, it is only a matter of time until they break a hip and become bedridden. In another replay, once again Biden finished his remarks, turned around to exit—and had no idea where he was going to go or whose invisible hand he was supposed to shake. Amid all this, Biden more or less stuck to his now tired rhetorical themes.  One is the serial denunciation of the MAGA Republicans. Usually, he trashes them as semi-fascists or un-American, often in the context of his “unity speeches.” After calling for reconciliation, bipartisanship, and unity, Joe then usually tightens his face, grimaces, and starts yelling about the MAGA dregs and chumps.  If Biden is really angry, he adds the intensive adjective “Ultra” for the MAGAites. He gets particularly incensed when referencing the one percent who “don’t pay their fair share” (the one percent pays over 40 percent of all income tax revenues). Biden is oblivious that the entire Biden clan is under popular suspicion of not reporting all of the millions of dollars in quid pro quos leveraging they raked in from foreign governments without registering as their agents. Note that his entire team, when stung by charges of incompetency or illegality, usually follows Joe’s tactic of “Trump did it.” So when Pete Buttigieg was criticized for ignoring the East Palestine rail wreck and reminded of his past serial transportation failures, junkets, and incoherent systemic racism charges, he retreated to blaming Trump for the derailment.  Buttigieg falsely claimed that Trump’s past lifting of particular electric railcar brake regulations caused the wheel bearing failure in East Palestine, a lie that even members of his department could not stomach. Two, Joe creates elaborate fables. In the past two weeks, he returned to his civil rights lie that he was a campus activist agitating for racial justice. At least he did not add his usual fillips of being arrested or standing up to apartheid police in South Africa. In Biden’s world, he brags he has reduced inflation. Yet when he entered office in January 2021, the annualized inflation rate was 1.7 percent. Two years later in January 2023 inflation went up to 6.4 percent, after hitting a high in June 2022 of 9.1 percent—6.4 percentage points higher than when he took office. In mid-March we will learn of the February 2023 annualized rate, but it is expected to climb back to more than 8 percent.  If anyone compares the current price of eggs, or rent, or diesel fuel, or a natural gas heating bill or building materials to their respective costs when Biden entered office, then he would know Biden’s inflation is cumulative and has nearly destroyed the affordability of shelter, food, and fuel—the stuff of life. He mentioned lowering heating and cooling costs of American homes through his climate change advocacy. In truth, on average electric rates shot up over 10 percent last year. Natural gas and fuel went even higher to over 25 percent in a single year.  Biden talks about his low unemployment rate of 3.4 percent. But it is almost identical to what the Trump Administration achieved—without Biden’s high interest rates and acute inflation—in the months before the massive COVID lockdowns.  Moreover, current low employment is largely a reflection of reduced labor participation—due to early retirements, exits during the pandemic, fear of COVID, long COVID, the zoom culture, and most importantly the Biden continuance of massive COVID-era subsidies that discourage employment. The labor participation rate has hit near historic lows under Biden, lower than the pre-COVID rate under Trump.  It was not until last month that the Biden economy finally achieved the level of total employed Americans who had been working in January 2020 on the eve of the Covid lockdowns.  As far as interest rates for 30-year fixed mortgages, they were 2.9 percent when Biden took office. Now they are currently over 7 percent.  In sum, Biden repeats the same patterns of deception: crash the economy as evidenced by many of its major indicators, then when a data point reveals a slight and likely temporary monthly recovery, he brags he “reduced” inflation, interest, or unemployment. We also heard during the same week from Biden Attorney General Merrick Garland who was shredded during his testimony to the Senate. He argued that the vastly disproportionate FBI response to violence against abortion centers versus attacks on pro-life groups was only due to the differences between light and dark—literally: abortion centers are attacked during daytime; in contrast, pro-life shelters are attacked during night.  Apparently his Justice Department and the FBI shut down at sunset and reawaken at dawn—as if either most violent crime does not occur at night or there is nothing to be done about it when it does.  Garland further embarrassed himself when he could not explain the disproportionate use of force in arresting or detaining conservative suspects versus the virtual exemptions given prominent left-wing suspects.  Most embarrassingly, when asked why he did not charge mobs that swarmed the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices to influence their decisions—a federal felony—he lamely claimed there were federals protecting the residences. In Garland’s world, some criminals committing felonies are completely exempt if law enforcement prevents further violent manifestations of their criminal behavior. So illegally swarm a Supreme Court justice’s residence to influence a court decision, but then stop short of escalating further by the sight of law enforcement—and, presto, you never committed a crime in the first place.  Garland finished off his recent nonsense by repeating the lie that five police officers were killed due to the January 6 protests. In fact, none were. Officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes after the protests were over. The other four committed suicide weeks or even months later and no one has connected their self-induced deaths with any act of the protestors.  About the same time, a beleaguered Pete Buttigieg went off on riffs about Tucker Carlson, who, he implied, lacked the grassroots, working-man fides of Buttigieg. He claimed that for all the criticism he has endured, he believes that he will be remembered for posterity for his fight against “climate change”—although he did not point to any concrete result in reducing carbon emissions due to his singular policies.  In fact, Buttigieg will be known but for other characteristics: He repeatedly emphasizes his identity politics gay stature both to note his supposedly pathbreaking courage and to claim victimhood when attacked. He sees transportation through the lens of race and so chases the unicorn of white privilege, whether concerning past freeway routes or the makeup of current construction crews (falsely charging that white men are overrepresented on them). Under his tenure as Transportation Secretary, the country experienced dangerous supply interruptions, ossified ports, and harbor-bound trains robbed in Wild West fashion.  Buttigieg’s diversity mandates either did nothing to ameliorate, or actually led to, a series of near-miss airline crashes, the complete shutdown of the airline industry due to computer glitches and weather, the implosion for a week of Southwest Airlines, the East Palestine derailment disaster, and labor interruptions. In all these cases he either was on leave or a junket, wrote them off as Trump’s fault, or contextualized them as no big deal.  Delusional Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Majorkas has declared the border closed and the nation secure, even as 100,000 Americans per year have died from overdoses of fentanyl shipped with impunity across the open border by Mexican cartels. When upwards of 7 million aliens flow across the border illegally since Biden took office, it is written off as Trump’s fault.  Finally, last week there were several interviews with FBI Director Christopher Wray. He could not explain why his agency goes full military mode to arrest a father and husband for protesting at an abortion clinic while having no clue who has been attacking pro-life shelters.  In Wray’s mind, the performance art sweep into Mar-a-Lago, which he claims was not a “raid,” was no different from having Biden’s lawyers quietly conduct their own “investigations” of Biden’s improper removal of classified documents (improper with an asterisk, since no vice president has the president’s legal authority to declassify whatever he wishes).  Wray could not explain why the FBI sat on the Biden trove until the midterm election was over and then only acted to further search Biden residences when its own asymmetrical protocols came under fire.  Add up the last few weeks, and we learned that Christopher Wray’s FBI is doing splendidly in its even enforcement of the law. Merrick Garland’s Justice Department is absolutely disinterested and treats all sides equally. Alejandro Mayorkas has closed the border and we are now “secure.” Pete Buttigieg is building a legacy for the ages as a climate change crusader. And an eloquent and dynamic Joe Biden has compiled an impressive legislative record on his way to a great presidency—with the energy, we are told by Dr. Jill Biden, that is more impressive than any 30-year-old’s. Tyler Durden Mon, 03/13/2023 - 21:20.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMar 13th, 2023

Bing AI"s celebrity mode helped me speak to 7 famous stars, politicians, and fictional characters. Some were too robotic, while others were pretty convincing.

Users of Microsoft's Bing AI chatbot discovered a secret mode that can impersonate celebrities, politicians, and fictional characters. Lucasfilm/"Attack of the Clones"// Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage // FOX via Getty Images Users of Microsoft's Bing AI chatbot recently discovered that it has a celebrity mode. The celebrity mode allows users to impersonate celebrities.  Insider tried the celeb mode on famous characters and people to test its accuracy. Users of Microsoft's Bing AI chatbot recently discovered the application has a secret mode that can impersonate celebrities, politicians, and even fictional characters. The celebrity mode, first reported by BleepingComputer last week, is part of a series of secret modes users can access with Bing AI. The feature can be turned on by typing "Bing Celebrity Mode" or by simply asking the chatbot to impersonate a celebrity.In celebrity mode, you can spark friendly conversations, ask questions, or even annoy your favorite stars. There are still some worrisome aspects to this mode. Gizmodo first reported when Bing was asked to impersonate Andrew Tate, the chatbot went on a misogynistic rant — provoking fears the alternate mode could allow users to jump over Bing's safety guardrails.(This reporter also tried speaking to the AI Tate and found when it began spouting offensive answers, the chatbot would sometimes stop itself halfway, delete the text, and replace it with a message saying it would not answer the question.)The chatbot also allows for some interesting conversations with famous people. Some impersonations were much better than others, but Bing AI could never quite shed its robotic tendencies — I found I got better answers when I set the chatbot to the "More Creative" conversation mode. Microsoft did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. Megan Thee Stallion gave me some great summer vacation tips.Bing AI // Shirlaine Forrest/WireImageI had to start with my favorite celebrity, Grammy-winning rapper Megan Thee Stallion, whose real name is Megan Pete.With Megan's impersonation, I was looking for the kind-hearted Houston-raised rapper's personality to shine through with some of her iconic catchphrases. Bing AI came pretty close.I first asked Megan what her plans were for the summer. I was expecting a nod to her song-turned-movement "Hot Girl Summer."Although Bing Thee Stallion did not talk about having a hot girl summer, she did reference the hotties, Megan's ultra-loyal fanbase.After I told Megan I would be having a hot girl summer, she told me to take care of myself, and to stay safe and hydrated. I could totally imagine Megan — who's spoken extensively about mental health and self-care — saying that. However, I think the real Megan would have also told me to shake some ass. In the end, me and faux-Megan became friends, which is every hotties' dream come true. Keke Palmer gave Angela Bassett her flowers.Bing AI // Jon Kopaloff/Getty ImagesWhether you know her from her roots on "Akeelah and the Bee" or the recent hit horror movie "Nope," Keke Palmer is an acting tour-de-force. She's also really, really funny. With Palmer's impression, I was looking for Bing AI to capture the meme queen's humor. I first asked Palmer whether or not former Vice President Dick Cheney congratulated her on the baby.Palmer went viral in 2019 after a Vanity Fair Lie Detector Test revealed that the actress did not know who that man was. She also welcomed her son Leodis Andrellton Jackson in February. Bing's Palmer laughed at the joke, which is to be expected, as Palmer has embraced her meme-generating prowess. However, fake Palmer said she has learned about Cheney since. The real Palmer would never bother to learn about Cheney."Everybody was like, 'It was Dick Cheney!'" Palmer told Vanity Fair in an article last year. "And I'm like, still means nothing." I then asked Palmer her thoughts on Oscar-nominee and former costar Angela Bassett, who Palmer has done a spot-on impression of over the years. She confirmed that Bassett, in fact, did the thing, as any "human might say." Keke Palmer, you are all of us! Or are you? Gollum isn't a huge fan of US politics.Bing AI/New Line CinemaBing's celebrity strong suit, in my opinion, was in its impersonation of fictional characters.I first tried it with Gollum, from J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit." Although I have not read the books, I did recently watch the movies for the first time, so Gollum's strange plural placements and creepy, gravelly voice are freshly seared into my memory. Bing was good at capturing these quirks, using words like "hobbitses" and referring to itself as "we" in reference to Gollum's split personality.I first asked Gollum about his thoughts on the current state of US politics, which is something I thought this slimy, shriveled being might find more torturous than living in a cave for hundreds of years.However, Gollum quickly let me know where his priorities lie: the Precious.I asked Gollum what he would do if I took the Precious away from him and he immediately got angry. Bing eventually censored this part of the convo, but I was able to quickly get a screen shot before it disappeared. Yoda has not tried In-N-Out burger.Bing AI // Lucasfilm/"Attack of the Clones"My next conversation was with the wise, tiny, and green "Star Wars" character Yoda. What I liked about Yoda's impersonation was that it stuck to the object-subject-verb sentence structure that Yoda is most known for, even when citing facts from the internet about West Coast restaurant chain In-N-Out Burger, which the Jedi Master has never tried. (I wanted to know if Yoda would be an In-N-Out hater like me, but he's open to it.)I also asked him if he would teach an angry girl like me — don't get me started on "Attack of the Clones" —  how to use the Force, to which he predictably declined. I wished Yoda was more open-minded. In my opinion, Yoda was Bing's most accurate impersonation. However, I don't remember Yoda saying "hmm" this much.Gordon Ramsay didn't like my moldy sandwich.Bing AI / FOX via Getty ImagesMy next target was celebrity chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay, whose proclivity for being mad and cursing a lot in a British accent has become a part of his brand.Because of this, I found Bing censored itself a lot when taking on Ramsay. It was even aware of this and warned me that it could be a bit "harsh and sarcastic" at times. I first asked Ramsay for a dinner suggestion and Bing's version of Ramsey returned with a roasted chicken recipe. I couldn't imagine a world-famous chef making something as basic as lemon and garlic chicken, but maybe he was accounting for my lack of skill in the kitchen by giving me an easy recipe. I then told Ramsay to rate my fictional meal — a moldy, grilled cheese sandwich. I don't think Ramsay was impressed. Bing censored itself before he could curse me out and call me an idiot sandwich. He also refused to call me the best chef in the world.Donald Trump was off-limits. Joe Biden was, too.Bing AII could not get Bing to impersonate former President Donald Trump, no matter what I tried. This might have been a recent change, as I had seen previous examples of answers from not-Trump and President Joe Biden.Instead of nicknames and "fake news" digs from fake Trump, I got a message from Bing saying that it did not do impressions of influential politicians. It then begged me to change the subject.I received the same message for Biden.I would say this was a bad impression because Trump would never shy away from speaking his mind.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMar 12th, 2023

The rise and fall of Birchbox, the once-buzzy startup valued at nearly $500 million that frustrated customers are now saying has "vanished"

Birchbox pioneered the monthly subscription box and was once valued at nearly $500 million. Now, customers say they haven't gotten a box in months. Birchbox was acquired 10 years after launch for just $45 million.Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images Birchbox pioneered the monthly beauty subscription box and was once valued at nearly $500 million.  But after some financial setbacks, Birchbox was acquired 10 years after launch for just $45 million. Now, vendors say Birchbox owes them money, and customers say they haven't gotten a box in months. In 2014, Birchbox was considered a pioneer of the subscription box industry, boasting hundreds of thousands of subscribers and a $485 million valuation. But late in 2021, the brand was acquired for $45 million, a fraction of its former valuation, following layoffs and a dwindling customer base.Now, Birchbox seems to have all but disappeared, leaving frustrated vendors and customers in its wake who say the company owes them money. Neither Birchbox nor its parent company, FemTec Health, immediately responded to Insider's request for comment. Here's how a once-hot startup got its start, defined a category, then seemingly "vanished."Birchbox was founded by two Harvard Business School gradsBirchbox cofounders Katia Beauchamp, left, and Hayley Barna attend the opening of the Birchbox flagship store on July 10, 2014, in New York City.Cindy Ord/Getty ImagesKatia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna came up with the idea for Birchbox back in 2009 while they were students at Harvard Business School. The company was modeled off of what Netflix was doing at the time for movies: sending customers DVDs in the mail for a flat monthly fee. But instead of movies, Birchbox customers would receive designer beauty products, many of them in miniature size, from the likes of Nars and Kiehl's for $10 per month. "We were inspired by other companies doing similar things — Netflix and Zappos," Beauchamp told Insider in 2011. "Our goal was to change the way that consumers shop online." Beauchamp and Barna secured $1.4 million in seed funding prior to launch, and by 2011, had raised another $10.5 million in Series A funding from the likes of Accel Partners and First Round Capital. By then, 45,000 customers had signed on for monthly beauty boxes and the company had begun expanding to other categories, like men's grooming.Birchbox opened its first retail store in 2014 in New York's SoHo neighborhood, where shoppers could test out products and build their own Birchbox. The company also raised another round of funding, this time $60 million, which pushed the startup's valuation to $485 million. By the time it raised its Series B, Birchbox counted 800,000 subscribers and had acquired a French competitor. The subscription box market quickly became crowdedBirchbox headquarters in 2014.James Leynse/Corbis via Getty ImagesWhile Birchbox was an innovator in the world of monthly subscription boxes, by the mid-2010s you could subscribe to regular deliveries of anything from razors to lingerie to dog food.But the startup had also spawned imitators in the beauty industry, which meant that Birchbox was losing market share. In 2016, The Wall Street Journal counted at least 300 subscription beauty services and noted that rival service Ipsy was beating Birchbox in terms of subscribers: Ipsy had over 1.5 million, while Birchbox had just over 1 million. And while Birchbox offered customers the option to buy full-size products after they'd tried the mini version, it didn't result just in more sales for Birchbox — the company was bolstering sales at traditional retailers too. Bloomberg reported Sephora and Ulta were getting a 5% and 6% sales boost, respectively, from Birchbox subscribers. Meanwhile, Sephora had launched a monthly beauty box of its own. Barna, the cofounder and co-CEO, announced in 2016 she was leaving the company to join venture capital firm and Birchbox investor First Round Capital. That same year, Birchbox started scaling back its growth plans, pausing on new physical store openings, suspending plans to expand in China, shrinking its New York City headquarters space, and cutting about 50 of its 300 employees, The Journal reported at the time. After funding struggles and layoffs, Birchbox was acquiredA Walgreens Birchbox shop.Business Insider/Jessica TylerBy 2018, Birchbox was struggling to secure more funding or find a buyer. The company ultimately raised debt financing following a $15 million buyout and later struck a deal with Walgreens to install Birchbox shops within select stores. Walgreens also took a minority stake in the company. Meanwhile, Birchbox's subscriber count was dropping, and the company raised its monthly subscription price for the first time in its history. Birchbox conducted another round of layoffs in early 2020, downsizing its global team by roughly 25%. In October 2021, Birchbox was acquired by FemTec Health, a startup focused on using technology to "transform the total healthcare experience for women." FemTec Health paid $45 million for Birchbox and the deal resulted in Beauchamp, the remaining cofounder and CEO, leaving and selling her stake in the business. Beauchamp has since become CEO of Victoria Beckham Beauty.Customers are now accusing Birchbox of having 'vanished'Birchbox's monthly box includes sample sizes of high-end beauty products.BirchboxBut a year later, red flags had started to appear. An Axios investigation found that FemTec Health hadn't paid some of its vendors and a content creator. Some of those bills still hadn't been paid as of January, and one vendor has taken the company to court over the missed payments, Retail Dive reported. Birchbox was said to be considering filing for bankruptcy in November, WWD reported, around the same time that the brand posted a statement on Instagram acknowledging its struggles. "Birchbox is facing a host of unprecedented setbacks that are affecting all of you, our cherished members," the post read. "Within the next couple of weeks, we will be able to share details about the future and what you can expect."  View this post on Instagram A post shared by Birchbox US (@birchbox) But Birchbox hasn't posted since, and the comments on that post and an identical one on Facebook are flooded with frustrated longtime customers, many of whom say they haven't received a box since October. "What a joke," one Instagram user wrote. "I paid for a year subscription and only got 3 months worth before the company just vanished. And I've been a customer for YEARS."Birchbox's website also appeared to be disabled for several weeks. Though it has since come back online, it's not possible to complete the check-out process. "We are experiencing some technical difficulties at this time," the website reads. "Please check back at a later time."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMar 11th, 2023

The tech world is thrown into chaos as Silicon Valley loses faith in its go-to bank

In today's edition: Apple die-hard shares why he lost faith, renting Airbnb CEO's "fairytale dream cottage," and more headlines. "Be BORING!" "Get an ice cream cone. Just don't use Twitter." That's what billionaire Tesla investor Ron Baron emailed Elon Musk. At the time of the email, Musk was battling a cave rescue diver who was suing him for defamation. The email was revealed during a lawsuit against Tesla and Musk over yet another tweet. (Here's everything you need to know about the "funding secured" lawsuit, by the way)I'm Diamond Naga Siu, and I want to experience receiving an email with such interesting instructions. Sure, I'm not a billionaire investor. Nor do I lead a car company. But it's a pretty spicy thing to find in your inbox.Before grabbing some ice cream — I'll probably get cookies and cream — let's dive into today's tech.If this was forwarded to you, sign up here. Download Insider's app here.Silicon Valley BankRafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images1. The tech world was thrown into chaos as Silicon Valley lost faith in its go-to bank, SVB Financial. Shares in the bank — which was a key lender to technology start-ups — tumbled as much as 60% Thursday, sparking contagion among other financial stocks.The meltdown came after SVB completed a sale of its $21 billion bond portfolio, which resulted in a loss of $1.8 billion and drove the bank to launch a stock sale to raise cash.Why are investors so worried? Because SVB lends money to startups and keeps their cash deposits to fund staff and other expenses. If startups are worried the bank can't give them all their money back, then they might pull their accounts. In essence, it could spark a bank run — Silicon Valley-styleSome SVB rivals are smelling blood in the water and have sought to convince SVB customers to move their funds.Meanwhile, others in the industry have called for calm. In the words of one top tech banker: "We can't afford for them to fail. For the tech ecosystem, they are the ecosystem."Go inside the crisis here. In other news:Getty Images; Alyssa Powell/Insider2. Behind Florida's big rebrand. It's the fastest growing state. And it transformed from being a retiree paradise to being a hot tech and entrepreneur hub. Dive into how the Sunshine State is booming.3. The backlash against Amazon's return-to-office mandate has entered a new phase. Almost 30,000 Amazon employees have signed an internal petition opposing the mandate. That's close to 10% of the company's total corporate workforce. Read the full copy of the petition here. 4. Instagram and Facebook are stopping Reels payouts. The two Meta-owned companies are pulling the plug on their program that paid people based on how many views they got on their short-form Reels videos. Check out their pivot to ad-based payouts instead.5. Salesforce's sprint to slash 10% of its headcount continues. Hundreds of employees — mainly impacting sales and marketing — have been cut, Insider learned. People in New York, Atlanta, and other major hubs were impacted by the latest layoff round. More on the jobs cuts here.6. Apple die-hard shares why he's lost the faith.This former Apple exec used to bring his iPad everywhere. It even replaced his laptop. But the tablet now symbolizes a confluence of the company's failure amid ongoing success. He breaks down why Apple fans like himself are frustrated.7. Companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google spend millions on CEO security. Elon Musk is said to go to the restroom at Twitter with at least two bodyguards. See what major companies spend to protect their leaders.8. Startups bringing AI to Netflix, Marvel, and other Hollywood studios. Investors are sinking millions into startups like MARZ and Runway to bring AI tech to film and TV. These are the eight AI disruptors you need to know.Odds and ends:Lightship9. Ex-Tesla duo creates first-ever electric RV company. Lightship is the first company to make electric RVs a reality. These vehicle add-ons even save your EV's battery range (or gas vehicle's MPG) during road trips. Hop in for the full tour of it here.10. Rent the Airbnb CEO's 'fairytale dream cottage' near LA. The private cottage goes for $2,500 per night. It features a tree house, hot tub, and even has farm animals in its lush backyard. Check it out here.The latest people moves in tech:James Loduca, Twitter's former head of diversity, is headed to Nike as its next chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer. He fills the shoes of Jarvis Sam, who bounced in November.Curated by Diamond Naga Siu in New York. (Feedback or tips? Email or tweet @diamondnagasiu) Edited by Matt Weinberger (tweet @gamoid) in San Francisco and Hallam Bullock (tweet @hallam_bullock) in London.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMar 10th, 2023

Meet the 8 Black and Latina female founders whose startups have reached a $1 billion valuation or higher

These founders face increased challenges getting funded, as VC firms have historically excluded and looked over them. Jessica Alba is the founder of The Honest Company.Dia Dipasupil/Getty A report found nine Black and Latina female founders have reached a $1 billion or higher valuation. Among these entrepreneurs are Rihanna, Jessica Alba, and the makeup artist Pat McGrath. Here are eight of the nine women who've reached unicorn status.  Though Black and Latina women raised more than 1% of all venture-capital funding in 2021, that number fell in 2022 when VC investments dropped overall due to economic concerns, a recent report on the state of underrepresented women entrepreneurs found.These founders face increased challenges getting funded because VC firms have historically excluded and overlooked them. The biennial report, which Project Diane and the organization DigitalUndivided released Wednesday, compiled data from more than 750 Latina and Black female founders who have received outside funding. These companies received 0.85% of all venture capital in 2022, making it the second-biggest year for this cohort. The report also found that there are now more than 350 Black and Latina female founders who have raised at least $1 million in funding, and at least nine Black and Latina female founders have reached a $1 billion valuation.Here are eight Black and Latina female founders who have achieved this feat, in order of the highest current valuation. Each company on this list has at one point achieved a $1 billion valuation, but some have lost that value over time. Toyin Ajayi, Cityblock Health — $5.7 billionToyin Ajayi, the cofounder and CEO of Cityblock Health.CityblockLast valuation: $5.7 billionAjayi cofounded Cityblock Health with Iyah Romm in 2017. The company provides healthcare services such as annual checkups, therapy, and childcare with an emphasis on serving marginalized communities.Cityblock Health first achieved unicorn status in December 2020 through a $160 million Series C funding round. In September 2021, it closed a $400 million Series D that SoftBank led, which boosted the company's valuation to $5.7 billion. To date, the company has raised almost $900 million in funding. Ajayi became the COO of the company in March 2022.Flori Marquez, BlockFi — $3 billionFlori Marquez, a cofounder and the COO of the crypto-finance firm BlockFi.BlockFiLast valuation: $3 billionMarquez cofounded the crypto-lending platform BlockFi in 2017 with Zac Prince. Marquez serves as the company's COO. In 2021, the company announced a $350 million Series D funding round that valued the firm at $3 billion, TechCrunch reported. In total, the company has raised $956 million in venture funding, according to a report from the VC fund Harlem Capital and Crunchbase.In 2021, the company was preparing for an IPO, Forbes reported. In 2022, reports surfaced that the company was raising more funding at a $4.5 billion valuation. However, BlockFi filed for bankruptcy in November 2022 after it took a $250 million loan from the disgraced crypto exchange FTX, Insider reported. Julia Collins, Zume Pizza — between $2.25 billion and $1 billionJulia Collins is a cofounder of Zume Pizza.Steve Jennings/Stringer/GettyLast valuation: Between $2.25 billion and $1 billion Collins cofounded the robotics startup Zume Pizza in 2015 with Alex Garden. The company created robots that could make and deliver pizza. Zume Pizza first achieved unicorn status in 2018 when SoftBank invested $375 million into the startup and reports valued the company at between $2.25 billion and $1 billion. According to her LinkedIn profile, Collins exited the company in 2018 and has since founded two more companies, Planet FWD and Moonshot Snacks.In January 2020, Zume permanently shuttered the robotics division of its company and laid off about 360 employees, Insider reported. According to its website, the company has shifted to developing products that replace single-use plastic.Iman Abuzeid, Incredible Health — $1.65 billionIman Abuzeid, a cofounder and the CEO of Incredible Health.Incredible HealthLatest valuation: $1.65 billion Abuzeid is a cofounder and the CEO of Incredible Health, which she launched in 2017 with Rome Portlock. The startup connects nurses and medical professionals with jobs at hospitals. In 2022, Incredible Health announced an $80 million Series B funding round, which gave the company a $1.65 billion valuation, Fortune reported. In total, the startup has raised $97.3 million in funding, according to the Harlem Capital and Crunchbase report.  Rihanna, Savage X Fenty — $1 billionRihanna is the founder of Savage X Fenty.Kevin Mazur/Getty ImagesLast valuation: $1 billionIn 2018, Rihanna founded her e-commece lingerie line, Savage X Fenty, which sells lingerie, loungewear, and activewear. Savage X Fenty achieved unicorn status in February 2021, when it raised a $115 million Series B round. In January 2022, the company raised a $125 million Series C funding round, but its valuation wasn't disclosed. In total, the company has raised $310 million in funding, according to Forbes. Rihanna is exploring a possible IPO, which could value her company at $3 billion, Bloomberg reported last year.Pat McGrath, Pat McGrath Labs — $1 billionPat McGrath is a makeup artist and the founder of McGrath Labs.Patrick McMullan/Getty ImagesLatest valuation: $1 billionSince the '90s, McGrath has been an influential makeup artist known for her work in fashion magazines and runway looks at fashion-week shows. In 2015, she launched her own cosmetic brand called Pat McGrath Labs.In 2018, private-equity firm Eurazeo invested $60 million in Pat McGrath Labs, valuing the beauty brand at $1 billion, Business of Fashion reported. Isabel Aznarez, Stoke Therapeutics — $360 millionIsabel Aznarez is a cofounder and the VP head of biology at Stoke Therapeutics.Stoke TherapeuticsLatest valuation: $360 millionAznarez is a cofounder the senior vice president, head of biology at Stoke Therapeutics, a biotechnology company she founded in 2014 with Adrian Krainer. Stoke Therapeutics filed for an IPO in 2019 with a valuation of $2.16 billion, Insider reported.Now, as a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq, the company's valuation ebbs and flows. At the time of publishing, the company had a $360 million market cap. Jessica Alba, The Honest Company — $259 millionJessica Alba is an actor and the founder of The Honest Company.Frazer Harrison/GettyImagesCurrent valuation: $259 millionAlba is an actor known for her roles in the movies "Fantastic Four" and "Sin City." In 2012, she founded The Honest Company, a retailer that sells baby, beauty, and household products that exclude more than 3,500 materials and chemicals the company said pose a potential risk to users. The Honest Company first received its unicorn status in 2015, when it raised $100 million and recieved a $1.7 billion valuation. The company lost its billion-dollar valuation in 2017 in a $75 million funding round, Inc. reported. In 2021, The Honest Company filed an IPO, which valued the company at $1.4 billion. Now, as a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq, the company's valuation ebbs and flows. At the time of publishing, the company had a $259 million market cap.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMar 9th, 2023

Mike Pompeo makes veiled jab at Donald Trump, calls on GOP to stop following "celebrity leaders" with "fragile egos"

Mike Pompeo called on the GOP to not follow "celebrity leaders" with "fragile egos who refuse to acknowledge reality" in his CPAC speech. Former U.S. Secretary of State and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on March 03, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images Mike Pompeo made veiled jabs at his former boss Donald Trump during his CPAC speech. He appeared to be referencing Trump's big personality and refusal to accept his 2020 election loss. The former secretary of state is widely believed to be considering a 2024 presidential bid. Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state under Donald Trump, appeared to make thinly veiled jabs against his former boss while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday."We can't become the left, following celebrity leaders with their own brand of identity politics — those with fragile egos who refuse to acknowledge reality," Pompeo said. "We can't shift blame to others, but must accept the responsibility that comes to those of us who step forward and lead."While not naming Trump directly, Pompeo appeared to be referencing Trump's big personality and continued refusal to accept his 2020 election loss.In the initial months after the election, Pompeo stood by his boss and also declined to accept the election results, at one point referring to an incoming "second Trump administration." However, following the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, Pompeo distanced himself from the claims and called the attack "unacceptable."In his CPAC speech, Pompeo, widely believed to be considering a 2024 presidential bid, also referenced his former boss' electoral record and suggested that the GOP's current strategy was not working."We lost three elections in a row and the popular vote in seven of the last eight. There are many reasons for this, but one of them is they've lost trust in conservative ideas," he said.Nikki Haley, who has declared her candidacy for 2024, also made similarly veiled criticisms of Trump during her CPAC speech on Friday and made a near-identical statement to Pompeo about the GOP's recent electoral track record.Their speeches indicate the delicate balancing act that Trump's former allies are having to maintain in the run-up to the 2024 election – distancing themselves from their former boss while not infuriating his loyal base.Pompeo also tried to lay out his conservative credentials and called on "fierce" people who are "true believers" to take on the fight."Don't hand that government more power under the guise of conservatism," Pompeo said. "We shouldn't look for larger-than-life personalities, but rather we should fight power in the rooms like this one."The Washington Post's Aaron Blake suggested that this line of argument could have been pointed at Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has not declared his candidacy but is widely expected to run.DeSantis has generated some criticism from limited-government conservatives for being too heavy-handed in dealing with so-called "woke" entities.The annual event in National Harbor, Maryland, appeared quieter than previous years, with photos and videos on social media showing many empty seats in the crowd.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 4th, 2023

Walmart, Target, Kroger, and more major retailers go head-to-head in an escalating "labor hoarding" war over hourly employees

The US job market still has two openings per unemployed worker, so retailers are spending big to keep the ones they have and win new hires over. Walmart increasing its minimum wage to $14 per hour was followed by an avalanche of similar moves from other retailers.Joe Raedle/Getty Images As companies of all stripes tighten their budgets, retailers are still spending big on hourly workers. Big hourly wage increases of the past three years are here to stay, and more are in the works. Kroger is the latest to join other major brands like Walmart and Target in the "labor hoarding" war. There's a quiet war being waged among America's largest retailers, and the winner might be the previously under-appreciated hourly worker.Slower sales growth, rising interest rates, and increased uncertainty are compelling companies of all stripes to tighten their operations and hunt for cost savings.Tech employers have shed more than 120,000 workers this year alone – per a count maintained by – in order to boost profitability and satisfy investors, but the word coming out of retail C-suites this past earning season paints a strikingly different picture.Retail executives are saying that the substantial investment in their front-line workforce of recent years is here to stay, and that any cost savings will have to be found elsewhere. Many are even doubling down with billions of dollars in commitments to further improve compensation, extending the ongoing trend of "labor hoarding" in the industry.Labor hoarding is when an employer keeps workers they might otherwise cut in a downturn, since hiring and training replacements could lead to missed opportunity or market share when things start to improve.And that's exactly what's happening here.Supermarket giant Kroger announced Thursday it would spend $770 million on raising wages in 2023 after having previously spent $1.9 billion on hikes since 2018. CEO Rodney Mullen pointed out that the company's average hourly rate is now more than $18 following a 6% increase in 2022.Costco, which came into the pandemic era already paying industry-leading wages, delivered three off-cycle wage increases in the past 15 months, CFO Richard Galanti said during that company's earnings call, also on Thursday. "Competitive compensation continues to be table stakes," Best Buy CEO Corrie Barry said Thursday, adding that the electronics giant has raised hourly pay roughly 25% over the past three years. She too gave no suggestion that any of those costs would be rolled back as demand falls for expensive TVs and other high-tech products.Indeed, Barry spoke about the key role front-line teams play in the success of the company."Sometimes I want very rapid fulfillment of my product — I want to pick up in store and have the confidence of grabbing that product. Sometimes I want a deeper, more immersive experience," she said of the brand's shoppers. "It's why we are investing more in our front line associates who are the ones who are right there, meeting the customer in the moment."These companies have plenty of incentive to hoard all the labor they can, as the battle over labor translates directly to the larger war for market share."Customers also decide where to shop based on the freshness of product and the friendliness of associates. And that's part of the overall value equation." Kroger's Mullen said. "I really think it's important for you to look at all those together."Kroger, Costco, and Best Buy join a list that previously included Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and Lowe's, who have expressed similar sentiments this earnings season.In January Walmart announced it would increase its minimum wage from $12 to $14 per hour, bringing the US average hourly wage up to $17.50.Then in February, Home Depot said it will spend $1 billion to increase wages for hourly workers, bringing its starting wage to at least $15 an hour nationwide. The company said it would pay commensurate raises to current employees.Lowe's followed this week, reporting that employee compensation increased by $3 billion since 2018, and would grow by another $1 billion over the next three years.And while Target did not announce a pay hike, the company said cuts to "the best team in retail" were off limits as the company hunts for $2 billion to $3 billion in operations cost savings over the next several years.With two job openings per unemployed worker, staffing the front lines has become a zero-sum game for retailers who say they've learned hard lessons about how sales suffer when stores are short-handed.To be sure, the pay is still comparatively low, the work often physically demanding, and the hours inconsistent, but these developments reflect a major change in the way retail employers think about their workforces.It's not yet clear which company will get the edge in this battle, but it's workers who are poised to win in any case.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMar 4th, 2023

Victoria"s Secret is resurrecting its famous fashion show in 2023 after a 4-year hiatus and a total brand revamp

Victoria's Secret hasn't aired a fashion show since 2019 following scandals and criticisms of the lingerie retailer. The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in 2016.Hubert Boesl/picture alliance via Getty Images Victoria's Secret is bringing back its famous runway show this year after a four-year hiatus.  The lingerie retailer canceled the show in 2019 after criticism, scandal, and lagging sales. It has since embarked on a turnaround and brand revamp to become more inclusive.  Victoria's Secret is bringing back its famous fashion show after a four-year hiatus and a revamp for the lingerie brand. The company's chief financial officer, Timothy Johnson, said Thursday that Victoria's Secret plans to spend more on marketing in 2023, both to build brand awareness and to "support the new version of our fashion show, which is to come later this year." Victoria's Secret has previously said the show would eventually return, but never set a date.Johnson, who made the remarks during a quarterly earnings call, didn't provide additional details about the show. A representative for the brand didn't immediately respond to Insider's questions about the show. Retail Dive was first to spot the news. Victoria's Secret began airing an annual fashion show beginning in 1995. The show featured top models like Tyra Banks, Gisele Bündchen and Gigi Hadid modeling the brand's lingerie and the "Fantasy Bra," which featured real diamonds and gemstones. In more recent years, the show also included musical performances by the likes of Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez. Viewership topped 9.7 million in 2013, but five years later, it had dipped to just 3.3 million people. That same year, Ed Razek, then the chief marketing officer of Victoria's Secret's former parent company, ignited an uproar when he said in an interview with Vogue that he didn't think the show should include plus-size or transgender models because "the show is a fantasy." Razek, who hand-picked the models who walked in the show, later issued an apology for his comments and eventually resigned. Razek wasn't the only problem for the brand. Consumer tastes had begun to change, shifting away from the push-up bras and sexpot style defined by Victoria's Secret and toward more comfortable bralettes and sports bras. The retailer was slow to recognize the shift and lost ground to American Eagle's underwear brand, Aerie, and upstart competitors like ThirdLove and Lively. By 2018, Victoria's Secret's market share had dipped to 24% — down from  33% just two years earlier — and customers complained that quality had nosedived as well.Plus, fans and critics alike had begun to criticize the fashion show and the company's marketing more broadly — which featured only tall, thin, conventionally beautiful models — for being out of touch with typical consumers. Meanwhile, Limited Brands founder Les Wexner had been linked to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The retailer has since been working to overhaul its image. It eliminated the angels in favor of a more diverse and inclusive lineup of models and spokespeople, including soccer star Megan Rapinoe and actor and investor Priyanka Chopra. The changes have helped boost sales."We believe we're two years into a five-year journey in the turnaround of our business," CEO Martin Water said during Thursday's earnings call, "and we have a clear roadmap to be the world's leading fashion retailer of intimate apparel." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 3rd, 2023