Monthly Archives: January 2018

The bill to avoid a government shutdown could include a slew of changes to Obamacare’s taxes

Barack Obama and Paul Ryan

Barack Obama and Paul Ryan
Getty Images/Pool

  • Congress must pass a funding bill by the end of January 19 to avoid a government shutdown.
  • Lawmakers may include changes to three major Obamacare taxes in the bill.

Congress is attempting to avoid a government shutdown by the end of Friday, and their efforts could make significant changes to the healthcare landscape as well.

According to reports, delays of the implementation for a number of taxes built into the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, could be included in the funding bill.

A delay of the medical device tax – a 2.3% tax on the sale of certain devices – which was not enforced in 2016 and 2017 but goes back into effect in 2018, could be added. Additionally, a one-year delay of both the so-called Cadillac tax on high-end insurance plans and the Health Insurance Tax on all plans could be added to the bill.

GOP Rep. Kevin Brady, the chair of the Ways and Means committee, told reporters on Thursday that the Cadillac tax was of particular interest for Republican members.

These taxes are detested by many conservative Republican House members, and could make the spending bill more palatable for those members who have objections to other items included in the bill.

The Cadillac tax has been frequently delayed as it is not politically popular with constituents on either side of the aisle. There was concern among device and insurance industry insiders that the dysfunction in Congress could lead to the other taxes being implemented.

In addition to the ACA taxes, another large healthcare issue that could be addressed in the bill is funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers roughly 9 million children. Lawmakers told reporters that the program could get a six-year funding extension as part of the bill this week.

The designer behind the Lamborghini Urus SUV uses a special technique to bring his creations to life

The Urus in Detroit.

The Urus in Detroit.

  • Lamborghini showed off its new Urus “super sport utility vehicle” to media at the Detroit auto show.
  • Designer Mitja Borkert also showed off an interesting design technique.
  • The Urus is Lambo’s bid to get in on the high-end ute game.

Lamborghini revealed its new Urus SUV to the US media in Detroit on Monday night, after earlier showcasing it in Europe.

The Urus is the culmination of a major trend, kicked off by Porsche over a decade ago with the Cayenne and more recently pushed forward by Maserati, Alfa Romero, Jaguar, and Bentley (and soon, Rolls-Royce): the luxury SUV from brands that we might have once though would never do an SUV.

CEO Stefano Domenicali unveiled the Urus.

CEO Stefano Domenicali unveiled the Urus.

Ferrari is essentially now the only big-name performance automaker to lack a ute – and that’s going to change in the next few years, as CEO Sergio Marchionne again stressed in a press conference in Detroit.

Lamborghini actually built an SUV-ish vehicle once before, the LM002, a Hummer-like offroader than was produced for about seven years in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It’s now regarded as an oddity, and in truth it doesn’t look all that much like a Lamborghini.

The Urus, meanwhile, absolutely does. In an interview with Business Insider, designer Mitja Borkert (he joined Lambo in 2016, after working for Porsche) said that the Urus was shaped to evoke the sharklike, aggressive, make-no-mistake-about-it presence of Lamborghinis such as the iconic Countach and the current Aventador.

In fact, here’s an image of Borkert drawing the profile of the new SUV.

Mitja Borkert making a tape drawing.

Mitja Borkert making a tape drawing.

Except that he isn’t “drawing,” in the conventional sense of using a marker or pen to create his lines. If you look closely, you can see a small bit of black tape dangling beneath his right elbow.

That’s because he’s making a “tape drawing” of the Urus, to a reduced scale. I first saw budding car designers do this at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, the Harvard or Oxford of automotive imagination. (I also watched Borkert draw the old-fashioned way, with a pencil and paper, while I was chatting with him).

Tape drawings allow designers to replicate their designs at scale and engage with them physically, rather than simply outputting big digital renderings and sticking to a wall. Tape also enables the designer to be more precise at scale than he or she could be if trying to replicate a drawing.

And tape connects with another unusual car-design practice: clay models. Remarkably, in an era when pretty much anything can be designed digitally, car folks still create sculpted clay models of new vehicles, right up to full-size examples. They use tape to characterize – and refine – the lines.

It’s always amazing to me when I see a car designer using these old, tried-and-true techniques, even when I know that they can make full use of the digital tools available to them.

CVS is adopting a bold strategy that’s paying off for lingerie brands

An example of one of CVS' non-digitally altered images.

An example of one of CVS’ non-digitally altered images.

  • CVS has announced that it will not be digitally altering its beauty images.
  • All images used online – on apps, on social media, or for marketing – will not be altered, according to a statement from the company.
  • Non-Photoshopped images will be labeled with a new “CVS Beauty Mark.”

CVS wants to empower women. On Tuesday, the pharmacy chain joined body-positive brands such as Aerie by announcing that it would not “materially alter” any of the images used to market its CVS Pharmacy-produced beauty products online and in stores.

The company is cashing in on a trend of promoting natural beauty and self-acceptance in ad campaigns to appeal to female shoppers.

“In the last year we have heard this growing chorus of women wanting to have a conversation about body imagery,” Helena Foulkes, the president of CVS Pharmacy, said in a statement to the press.

“We all want to be reflected in a true fashion; we want to see photos that seem real and authentic,” she said.

To do so, CVS will not alter the shape, size, or proportion of the model’s face, remove lines, or enhance it in any way.

This photo shows just how different the same image appears after it has been Photoshopped.

This photo shows just how different the same image appears after it has been Photoshopped.

“We want our beauty aisle to be a place where our customers can always come to feel good, while representing and celebrating the authenticity and diversity of the communities we serve,” the company said in its statement.

CVS will also be creating a label, known as the “CVS Beauty Mark,” that flags the images that have not been Photoshopped to consumers. It will also be working with other brands to ensure that they do the same, with the goal of having stores be completely transparent by 2020.

American Eagle’s lingerie brand, Aerie, stopped retouching images in 2014. This marketing campaign has resonated well with its shoppers. The store has seen 11 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth, while Victoria’s Secret, known for its rail-thin models, has seen negative sales growth for the past year.

Fashion retailer ASOS similarly started featuring unretouched photos of models on its website.

The nanny of former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski claims he stole trade secrets from Tesla

Former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski

Former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski

  • Former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski paid someone inside Tesla to leak him information about the electric-car company’s effort to develop a battery-powered semi-truck, according to a new lawsuit.
  • The lawsuit was filed against Levandowski by his former nanny, who claims that Levandowski failed to pay her wages.
  • The suit is the latest allegation against Levandowski, who has also been accused of stealing trade secrets developed by Google and taking them with him to Uber.
  • Levandowski’s representative said the suit was “frivolous.”

Former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski had a mole inside Tesla who was leaking him information about its effort to develop an electric-powered semi-truck, according to a new lawsuit, which was first reported by Wired.

In the suit, filed against Levandowski by his former nanny, Erika Wong, Wong claims to have overheard multiple conversations in which Levandowski supposedly mentioned the name “Pat Green.” Levandowski also frequently asked his sister about packages he expected to receive from Green, according to the suit.

In one such conversation, which Levandowski had with his business partner, Randy Miller, Levandowski mentioned Green’s name in a exchange about Tesla’s electric trucking division, according to the lawsuit. In another conversation, Levandowski told his stepmother, who frequently played a role in his companies, to, “make sure that Pat Green gets paid,” according to the suit.

“Just arrange with Suzanna [Levandowski’s stepmother], dad, and Hazlett [another relative] to keep working with Pat Green,” Levandowski told his brother in a conversation last April, according to Wong’s suit. “I need updates on Tesla trucking, the non-lidar technology is crucial and Nvidia chips. We can make money on both.”

It’s unclear who exactly “Pat Green” is, Wired noted. However, there is a Patrick Green who works as a senior manufacturing equipment engineer at Tesla, Wired reported. Green did not respond to Wired’s requests for comments on the story.

In a statement to Wired, a representative for Levandowski described the suit as “frivolous.” “Levandowski is confident that the lawsuit will be dismissed by the courts,” the statement said.

Levandowski has been a central figure in a bombshell lawsuit Waymo, a self-driving car startup that’s a sister company of Google, filed against Uber in February. Levandowski helped start Google’s autonomous vehicle program, left to form a startup focused on autonomous trucks, then joined Uber. Waymo alleges in its own suit that Levandowski brought its trade secrets with him to Uber.

In her suit, Wong charges that Levandowski failed to pay her wages and violated numerous health and labor codes.

Read the full story over at Wired.

A password for the Hawaii emergency agency was hiding in a public photo, written on a Post-it note

  • A false alert warning of an inbound missile was broadcast in Hawaii on Saturday.
  • Since then, people have discovered that a photo taken in Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency for a news article in July includes a sticky note with a password.
  • Hawaii says the alert was sent was because “an employee pushed the wrong button,” not because of a hack, but the photo has sparked criticism about the agency’s level of security.

On Saturday, people in Hawaii were awakened by a terrifying false alert about an inbound missile. Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency has said a worker clicked the wrong item in a drop-down menu and sent it, and that its system was not hacked.

“It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the changeover of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong button,” Gov. David Ige said.

But an Associated Press photo from July that recently resurfaced on Twitter has raised questions about the agency’s cybersecurity practices.

In it, the agency’s operations officer poses in front of a battery of screens. Attached to one is a password written on a Post-it note.

Computer, enhance:

An agency spokesman told Hawaii News Now that the password is authentic, and had been used for an “internal application” that he believed was no longer being used.

While these computers are unrelated to the system that sent the false missile alert, the photo raises questions about the approach to information security at the agency. (On the other screen, another note reminds the user to “SIGN OUT.”)

Writing down passwords isn’t a strict security no-no. Some experts say that keeping a hard copy of a password in your wallet is defensible – if you can keep the piece of paper secure. But a note on a monitor is not secure, especially if it’s for computer systems dedicated to keeping people safe.

The photo has already drawn some ridicule from those in the operational-security industry.

Here’s what the system that sent the false alert on Saturday looks like:

LeBron James was nearly posterized by Kevin Durant, but saved himself at the last moment


  • The Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 118-108, in Cleveland on Monday night.
  • Late in the first quarter, LeBron James may have made the smartest play of the game, as he quickly avoided becoming the losing end of a poster-worthy dunk by Kevin Durant.
  • James would get a bit of revenge on Durant however, with the help of a brilliant chase-down block later in the game.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors added another heated chapter to their ongoing rivalry on Monday night.

The Warriors walked away with a fairly comfortable 118-108 victory. While there were great basketball plays on both sides of the ball, the smartest play on Monday may have actually been a concession by LeBron James. As the first quarter was beginning to wind down, Kevin Durant made a heads-up steal that started a fast break for the Warriors.

James was the only defender in place to possibly make a play, but when he saw Durant charge for the basket, James pulled away and gave him a free run at the rim, rather than taking the risk of ending up on the losing end of a poster.

It was a handy bit of quick cost-benefit analysis by one of the brightest minds in basketball.

But LeBron would not go the game without getting a bit of revenge for the play. In the second quarter, after Durant looked like he had him beat on a drive towards the basket, James recovered to come out of nowhere for the chase-down block, adding another trophy to his already can’t-miss gallery of defensive plays.

James and Durant would both finish the game with 32 points and the Warriors would get the win. Still, it was LeBron that seems to have gotten the last laugh – although by accidental hijinks more than anything else – as the Warriors locker room was reportedly without hot water as the team went to wash off after the game.

“Man, they got to do something in ‘The Q,'” Durant would say of the cold showers. “Somebody call Bron!”

How much should toddlers use smartphones, tablets, and other screens? This pocket guide could help.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

  • Smartphones and tablets are irresistible to infants and toddlers, but many parents aren’t sure how to manage young kids’ screen time.
  • Business Insider published a larger feature based on the latest scientific research, evidence-based guidelines, and interviews with childhood development experts.
  • We’ve created a pocket guide of the story’s big takeaways for parents in a hurry.
  • This is an installment of Business Insider’s “Your Brain on Apps” series that investigates how addictive apps can influence behavior.

Months before my wife and I learned she was pregnant, I found myself sweating over screen time.

I knew kids could abuse interactive electronics, because I had as a kid – and prolifically so. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I’d sneak downstairs at night, immerse myself in a popular mass-multiplayer online game, and lose countless hours of sleep.

But my habit back then was tethered to a clunky PC at home. Now kids can fit their digital obsessions in a pocket. Indeed, over the past decade in New York City, I’ve spotted growing numbers of toddlers and even infants vegging out on smartphones and tablets in strollers, on subways, during bus rides, and even over dinners at restaurants.

While I don’t think I turned out so bad, I was a tween and teenager at the time of my obsession. Prolific access to interactive technologies at the young ages seen today is unprecedented in history.

What are 21st-century parents to do – and not do – when it comes to screens?

To find out, I called up childhood development experts, read the latest scientific studies, and pored over evidence-based guidelines published by pediatric and other groups. My research resulted in a story about what we know (and don’t yet know) about parenting, toddlers, and technology.

We summed up the big takeaways for those in a hurry in this handy graphic:

pocket guide to screens and kids 5 years and younger

Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

If you find our pocket guide useful, be sure to dig into our larger feature. There are a number of helpful resources linked within that story, too.

And don’t miss the rest of our “Your Brain on Apps” series, which explores how apps can influence behavior, plus what we can do to take back control.

How to feel less awful and get your body to adapt to Daylight Saving Time

Mita Stock Images/Shutterstock

  • Daylight Saving Time started on Sunday, March 11 at 2:00 a.m.
  • That means this week will be a little rough: It’ll be hard to wake up, and there’ll be an increase in heart attacks and car crashes.
  • To make the switch a little easier, you can take advantage of what scientists have learned about circadian rhythms.
  • The key? Light.

Daylight Saving Time in the US took effect in the early morning hours of Sunday, March 11.

That means your alarm this morning probably felt even more invasive than normal.

But it’s more serious than that – Daylight Saving Time is literally killing us. On Monday, there will likely be a 24% spike in heart attacks and a short-term increase in car crashes, strokes, and potentially even suicides.

In a way, the negative trends associated with the clock-change are a large-scale illustration of how bad for us it can be to lose even an hour of sleep. (As the parent of a small child, this is especially distressing to me.)

There’s nothing you can do to fully compensate for the sudden change that’s being forced on us, but you can take advantage of what scientists have learned about body clocks to adapt as quickly as possible.

We all have a natural internal clock of sorts, our circadian rhythm. It’s what makes us feel tired when it’s time to sleep and wakes us up in the morning, provided we’re on a fairly regular schedule.

As a species, humans’ clocks have evolved to mostly match the 24-hour natural light/dark schedule. (Our internal clock is actually a little longer than 24 hours, but gets naturally re-synchronized by environmental cues.) Exposure to light or darkness generally causes our bodies to produce hormones, particularly melatonin, that tell us when we should be alert or asleep – though artificial lighting can wreak some havoc on that system. Most of us are drowsiest around 5 a.m.

Suddenly changing the clocks throws off our internal body clock. You won’t naturally suddenly feel tired an hour earlier at night. In the morning when the alarm rings, it’s still going to feel like you should be asleep.

But we can manipulate our internal clocks to some degree: the most effective strategy is to get exposed to light at the right time.

camping tent stars


How to shift your internal clock for Daylight Saving Time

According to one study, the most effective way to reset your natural sleep schedule is to go camping. Even in the winter, there’s enough natural light to shift your internal rhythm.

But it’s probably too late for a last-minute camping trip (and it’s still very cold in much of the US). A less planning-intensive method is to take in some bright sunlight early in the morning for the next few days. It will also help to avoid light in the evening, making sure you are in a dark environment by bedtime.

“Full spectrum lighting is probably optimal in terms of the management of all these clockwork hormones that direct the complex physiology we have,” Richard Rosen, director of retina services at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, previously told Business Insider. Even wearing sunglasses when you are trying to get your body ready for bed might help.

Morning exercise may be beneficial too, according to some research, though the data on how effective it is at shifting circadian rhythms is not conclusive. (Late-evening exercise has been shown to push our natural bedtime cues a bit later, however.)

Those who really feel the pain of the spring-forward clock change could also follow the lead of Florida residents, who are pushing to move clocks forward then never switch them back.

Here’s the incomprehensible screen that led Hawaii to send a terrifying missile alert by mistake

A screenshot from a Twitter account showing a missile warning for Hawaii.

A screenshot from a Twitter account showing a missile warning for Hawaii.
Thomson Reuters

  • A photo of the poor user interface used by the operator who sent a terrifying alert to Hawaii residents on Saturday telling them about an inbound ballistic missile has been released.
  • The interface is unclear and features links to various kinds of alerts that look similar to one another.
  • The operator who made the error has been reassigned but not fired.
  • Hawaii’s governor and the Emergency Management Agency have expressed regret about the false alarm and said it would not happen again.

It looks like a poor user interface might be partly to blame for the false ballistic missile alert that caused widespread panic in Hawaii on Saturday.

A newly released photograph of the screen that emergency-alert operators use to issue statewide alarms shows a confusing interface that relies on technical language, unclear shorthand, and a variety of single-color links for everything from county amber alerts to statewide tsunami warnings that look incredibly similar to one another.

The photo of the interface was obtained by the Honolulu Civil Beat.

The screen that the operator who issued the false alarm would have seen.

The screen that the operator who issued the false alarm would have seen.
Screenshot via Twitter/@CivilBeat

The two links related to ballistic-missile bombardments – labeled PACOM (CDW) – STATE ONLY and DRILL – PACOM (CDW) – STATE ONLY – are not immediately identifiable within the system and are separated by a tsunami-related alert.

According to the head of Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency, Vern Miyagi, the operator had to answer an “Are you sure?” prompt before releasing the alert.

The false alarm sent to every person in Hawaii on Saturday morning was triggered when an operator clicked the link to a real alert instead of the link to a emergency drill.

“A missile may impact on land or sea within minutes. This is not a drill,” the alert read.

It took operators 38 minutes to issue another alert telling people it was a false alarm, but the person realized he had made a grave mistake within minutes of issuing the alert. The newly added link to this “false alarm” feature is the BMD False Alarm button at the top of the interface photograph.

But despite the hugely consequential error, Miyagi said the operator would not be fired and will instead be reassigned.

“This guy feels bad, right. He’s not doing this on purpose – it was a mistake on his part and he feels terrible about it,” Miyagi told reporters.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige issued a formal apology following the weekend mishap, and vowed to never let such a scenario happen again.

“On Saturday, Hawai’i’s residents and visitors experienced an unfortunate situation that has never happened before and will never happen again – a false alert issued by the Hawai’i’ Emergency Management Agency that a ballistic missile was on its way to the Hawaiian Islands,” Ige’s statement read. “On behalf of the State of Hawai’i, I deeply apologize for this false alert that created stress, anxiety and fear of a crisis in our residents and guests.”

What you need to know on Wall Street today

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Citigroup released fourth-quarter results Tuesday, beating the expectations of Wall Street analysts with adjusted earnings of $1.28 a share. Analysts were expecting the bank to report adjusted earnings – which don’t include short-term impacts of the new tax law – of $1.19 a share.

It’s expected to be a noisy quarter for bank earnings in general, thanks in part to the tax law, which has caused many banks to book losses on repatriated cash and deferred tax assets that declined in value. Overall, Citi lost $18.3 billion, or $7.15 a share, for the quarter.

That included a one-time, non-cash charge of $22 billion, or $8.43 a share, on account of the new tax law.

Elsewhere in finance news, Goldman Sachs’ vaunted commodities-trading team got butchered in 2017. Two of the biggest high-speed trading firms are joining forces in a deal that’s a “sign of the times.” And Apple, Amazon, and other tech titans could threaten big banks in one key area.

There’s a ton of markets and investing news, so let’s jump right in:

In crypto news, two blockchain ETFs are launching – but the SEC asked them to take blockchain out of their names. Messaging app Telegram is looking to raise $1.2 billion in an ICO to become the Mastercard “for the new decentralized economy.” The CEO of the oldest bitcoin exchange says all platforms are struggling with “the massive, massive amount of new users.” And just about every cryptocurrency is getting smoked.