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Exclusive: SoFi teams up with Ladder to offer revamped life insurance

Exclusive: SoFi teams up with Ladder to offer revamped life insurance
[Animation: courtesy of SoFi]

Social Finance (SoFi), the fintech unicorn best known for its lending products, today began offering life insurance to customers through a partnership with Ladder, a Palo Alto, California, startup. Customers who sign up for the co-branded service will be eligible for fully underwritten term life coverage worth up to $8 million. Most will get a policy quote instantly, sidestepping the hassle of a doctor’s appointment.

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SoFi previously offered life insurance to its 500,000-plus members through Protective. But the customer experience was relatively traditional, and the value of connecting the service to SoFi was unclear. With Ladder, SoFi customers will be able to increase or decrease their coverage over time, as their needs change. SoFi, with its knowledge of customers’ overall finances, will be well-positioned to recommend such adjustments. (Developing an overall “advice” solution is a top-priority for the company.)

Since the start of the year, SoFi has been moving quickly to realize its vision of becoming a true financial hub. Last month, the company unveiled SoFi Money, a mobile-first checking and savings product. Meanwhile, newly installed CEO Anthony Noto, a former Twitter executive, has been talking with bankers about raising $500 million in debt to pursue acquisitions, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“We’re not hard-set that we have to develop every solution,” Noto told Fast Company in June. By 2019, he plans to add services including brokerage, cryptocurrency, and home equity.

In insurance, SoFi appears eager to partner. John Gardner, general manager for SoFi Wealth, says the company is exploring options in categories like property and casualty. There, startups like Lemonade have built flexible APIs akin to Ladder’s, and the integration possibilities are enticing. With Ladder, for example, SoFi plans to eventually automate aspects of the needs assessment that the life insurer uses to generate a coverage recommendation, using existing data on users’ financial situations.

For Ladder, the news reflects a growing recognition that life insurance is challenging to sell direct-to-consumer. “Investing platforms, lending platforms, benefit platforms—there are a number of places where life insurance is part of the overall puzzle, and should be interacting with these other products,” says Ladder cofounder Jeff Merkel. “Where we think it gets interesting is the more they integrate.”

To date, Ladder has raised $54 million in venture funding. The company operates in 49 states, and is pursuing a license in New York.

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  • 6:46 am

Now Amazon workers in Germany and Poland are striking on Prime Day

Now Amazon workers in Germany and Poland are striking on Prime Day
[Photo: Álvaro Ibáñez/Wikimedia Commons]

The German and Polish workers joined their Spanish counterparts, who yesterday went on strike to protest working conditions at Amazon warehouses. The Verdi services union in Germany also called the one-day strike to back its demand for labor contracts that guarantee healthy working conditions at fulfillment centers, reports Reuters. While Spanish Amazon workers are striking for three days, their German counterparts will only strike for today. When Amazon Prime Day 2018 ends tonight, they’ll return to their positions.

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  • 6:27 am

Walmart and Microsoft team up against Amazon in cloud tech

Walmart and Microsoft team up against Amazon in cloud tech
[Photo: heladodementa/Pixabay]

The brick-and-mortar retail giant and the Redmond, Washington-based company have announced that they have entered into a five-year partnership that will see Walmart use Microsoft’s cloud and artificial intelligence technology to make shopping quicker and easier for customers, reports CNBC. This is a one-two punch by the companies against Amazon–which is a rival in retail against Walmart and cloud computing services against Microsoft. Throughout the course of the five years, Microsoft and Walmart engineers will migrate a large portion of walmart.com and samsclub.com to Microsoft’s Azure platform. The news of the agreement comes after news last month that Microsoft is working on technology similar to that found in Amazon Go stores that help retailers eliminate cashiers and checkout lines.

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  • 6:18 am

Uber’s brilliant new Spotlight tool makes pickups easier

Uber’s brilliant new Spotlight tool makes pickups easier
[Photo: Victor Xok/Unsplash]

The company has updated its app to make pickup even easier with a new feature called Spotlight. The feature works by turning the display on your phone a certain color when your driver is nearby. You’re then meant to hold up the phone so your driver can easily spot you. Different riders waiting for rides in the same area will all have different Spotlight colors, making it easy for drivers to match riders with their pickup. As Uber explains:

When you’re in crowded areas or it’s nighttime, it can be hard for you and your driver to find one another. With Spotlight, you can light up your phone with a special color specific to your driver. Your driver will receive a message telling them what color to look for, so you can just hold your phone in the air.

Uber has also added two other features to the app that make pickups easier:

On-time scheduled pickups, guaranteed: When you have an early flight to catch or an important meeting to get to, scheduling your ride in advance is a great way to make sure you leave on time. Our on-time guarantee means your scheduled ride will arrive during the time period you select, or we’ll give you Uber credit towards your next ride.

Pickup Messages: Sometimes you want to give your driver a little extra detail ahead of the pickup. To help you communicate with your driver without taking their attention off of the road, we’ve made sending a message simple. Now it’s even easier to share a tip (“I’m wearing a red jacket”), or send your driver a quick pre-populated update like “be right there” with a single tap. We designed Pickup Messages to encourage safe driving: your messages are read aloud, and drivers can simply tap to respond.

The new features are available in the most recent version of the Uber app now, so be sure to update.

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  • 5:58 am

Check out this amazing visual of U.S. arms exports from 1950 to 2017

Check out this amazing visual of U.S. arms exports from 1950 to 2017

America is the world’s largest arms exporter. But where does all the weaponry we sell end up? Data scientist Will Geary put together a fascinating data visualization that shows where U.S. weapons exports went to between 1950 and 2017.

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  • 2:02 am

Five million Americans will ditch pay TV this year, new study says

Five million Americans will ditch pay TV this year, new study says
[Photo: Burak Kebapci/Pexels]

The migration of Americans from pay TV to internet TV options is accelerating quickly in 2018, according to a new study conducted by management consultancy cg42.

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The study says more than 5 million U.S. consumers will end their cable subscriptions this year, a 685% increase over 2016. The study estimates that pay TV providers will lose $5.5 billion in revenues they might otherwise have collected from cord-cutters and cord-nevers (people who’ve never had a cable subscription).

Why are more people fleeing or ignoring pay TV? In order of popularity: frustration with high prices, having to pay for channels they’ll never watch, anger at being nickel-and-dimed by fees, and frustration at new customers getting better deals.

“They constantly price gouged and tried to raise my rate,” said one Comcast cord-cutter who responded to cg42’s survey. “I got tired of having to play their game every year to renegotiate.”

The cg42 study predicts Comcast will lose 7.2% of its subscriber base (or about 1.5 million customers) to cord cutting in 2018. That adds up to a revenue loss of $1.6 billion for the cable giant. AT&T (and its DirecTV satellite subsidiary) will lose 4.8% of its 24 million customers this year, and about $1.2 billion in revenue, predicts the study, which was conducted in September of 2017.

In order for cg42’s projections to materialize, however, pay TV losses will have to accelerate this year. Comcast reported a loss of just 96,000 video subscribers in its March-ending quarter. AT&T’s DirecTV reported losing 188,000 satellite TV subscribers in Q1, while subscribers to AT&T’s fiber-based U-verse TV service remained virtually unchanged at 3.63 million.

Still, AT&T recently cited increasing cord-cutting and competition from internet TV providers as part of the reason it needed to acquire the video content producer/owner Time Warner. That merger won court approval and was completed last month, but the Department of Justice has since filed to appeal.

A total of 3,385 U.S. consumers responded to cg42’s survey: 1,030 cord-cutters, 599 cord-nevers, and 1,756 pay TV subscribers.

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Amazon: Sorry our Prime Day website went down but we’re rolling in the money

Amazon: Sorry our Prime Day website went down but we’re rolling in the money
[Photo: Maarten van den Heuvel/Unsplash]

For those of you who wanted to participate in Amazon’s annual summer day of moderately good sales, you may have hit a snafu when you tried to access Amazon.com. This is because the Prime Day site was down for many people hoping to cash in on the sweet, sweet savings.

To ease the pain of not getting good deals, Amazon’s error page had pictures of cute dogs. But even that wasn’t enough, and people complained online. Indeed, the company’s stock is down in after-hours trading as the website problems persist.

This evening, Amazon finally issued a statement admitting there may have been some issues hampering the site. “Some customers are having difficulty shopping,” the company wrote via a statement on Twitter, “and we’re working to resolve the issue quickly.” But Amazon didn’t finish its thought with an apology, which is probably what any smart entrepreneur would do. Instead, it decided to sort of gloat. “Many are shopping successfully,” the statement went on, “in the first hour of Prime Day in the U.S., customers ordered more items compared the first hour last year.”

In short, Amazon is saying “sorry you couldn’t participate in our big day, but it doesn’t matter because we still made a ton of money.” It’s a very 2018 apology, in that it isn’t an apology and is kind of calling the claims that the site is down fake news.

This probably isn’t the best way to inform users of nationwide site downtime. But will that get people to stop shopping? Probably not.

Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos’s fortune just exceeded $150 billion, making him the richest man in the world–even while his European employees go on strike. So maybe this bizarre statement was Bezos’s way of flipping everyone off. “Sorry you’re having a bad day,” says Jeff, “but I’m doing just fine.”

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NRA-linked Russian allegedly worked on “back channel” to U.S. politicos

NRA-linked Russian allegedly worked on “back channel” to U.S. politicos
[Photo: Flickr user Dmitry Dzhus]

Mariia Butina, a 29-year-old Russian who recently received a master’s degree from American University, was arrested on Sunday and charged with conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Russian government.

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Butina, whose first name is also spelled Maria, is said to have tried to forge a “back channel” communications channel to an unnamed U.S. political party that she wrote in a 2015 email would likely gain power in the 2016 elections and historically was “associated with negative and aggressive foreign policy, particularly with regards to Russia.” She allegedly wrote in an email that she sought to do so through a “gun rights organization” that isn’t named in the court filings.

Butina’s lawyer, Robert Driscoll, denied the charges in a statement published by the Washington Post and Russia’s state-owned Sputnik News, which described Butina in a headline as a “Russian student.”

Butina allegedly worked as an assistant to Russian politician Alexander Torshin, a lifelong member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), and attended a number of NRA events with him as well as hosting NRA leaders on visits to Moscow, the Post reports.

Butina also tried to arrange meetings between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2016, the New York Times reports. Butina and Torshin met briefly with Donald Trump Jr. at a 2016 NRA convention, though he’s said the encounter was brief and not particularly memorable, according to the Post.

Butina’s NRA ties led many observers, including CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, to assume the NRA is the “gun rights organization” in question, while the political party is the Republican Party.

News of the arrest broke shortly after President Donald Trump held a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where he again questioned allegations of Russian hacking in the 2016 election.

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Netflix stock is plummeting after it missed subscriber targets by almost 1M

Netflix stock is plummeting after it missed subscriber targets by almost 1M
[Photo: Angelo Pantazis/Unsplash]

Netflix stock is currently in a free fall in after-hours trading. The stock is currently down by over 13%, after it significantly missed subscriber targets. The company expected to hit 5.11 million subscribers globally and 1.23 million subscribers domestically, but it actually hit 4.5 million and 700,000, respectively.

The company also slightly missed revenue targets, bringing in $3.91 billion compared to Wall Street Expectations of $3.94 billion.

With all this, the stock is tanking.

Later today, the company will have its earnings call, and we’ll learn more about why it missed so many key targets.

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Video goes viral of HRC talking about Russian meddling 8 days before election

Video goes viral of HRC talking about Russian meddling 8 days before election
[Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore]

On the day of President Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin—and his baffling comments  in which Trump expressed skepticism that Russia interfered with the 2016 election—this strikingly prophetic video of Hillary Clinton from eight days before the 2016 election is making the rounds on Twitter. It’s worth a watch (or three). Here is the start of her comments:

We have never seen a mind meld of the kind between the Russian leadership and a president of the United States . . . Putin is a trained intelligence officer from the old KGB. He knows he can use flattery to get into Donald’s head, to make Donald the Kremlin’s puppet. And it seems to be working. Donald has signaled to Putin that he will let Russia do whatever it wants, from the Ukraine to Syria and beyond . . . 

Watch the whole thing:

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Lawsuit: Blame Monsanto for widespread Kansas crop losses

Lawsuit: Blame Monsanto for widespread Kansas crop losses
[Photo: Jordan Nelson/Unsplash]

A new lawsuit alleges that Monsanto knew that a potent herbicide would harm crops that weren’t resistant, but sold a product based on it anyway. As a result, potentially thousands of acres of crops that weren’t resistant to the herbicide died, the lawsuit says. The legal complaint was filed by 4-R Farms, which lost 200 acres of soybeans, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports.

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The herbicide, dicamba, has been used in the United States since the late 1960s, but only since 2017 in so-called over-the-top applications where it is sprayed on fields after the soybeans are already growing. It is the basis of  Monsanto’s XtendiMax herbicide, which is meant to help farmers control weeds, including pigweed. It’s designed to be used on genetically modified soybean and cotton crops created to be tolerant to weed killers. The herbicide can reportedly drift, though, landing on nearby fields and destroying non-GMO crops.

Monsanto isn’t the only company that sells dicamba-based products. The Kansas lawsuit also names chemical company BASF as a co-defendant. BASF is facing its own mounting pile of lawsuits over dicamba.

According to the EPA, dicamba damaged more than 3.6 million acres of soybean crops in 2017, or about 4% of all soybeans planted in the United States. Research compiled by a University of Missouri professor says dicamba’s drift can also affect tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, organic vegetables, and residential gardens. Some 2,708 complaints had been reported to state agriculture officials about dicamba crop damage as of mid-October 2017.

The petition was filed on Thursday and Monsanto says it has not seen it yet.

“We have not yet been served but will review the lawsuit in due course,” Scott Partridge, vice president for Monsanto, said in a statement to Fast Company. “Our customers tell us they are experiencing outstanding weed control and achieving on-target applications across 50 million acres of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans and cotton with XtendFlex Technology. Growers need this technology to fight tough-to-manage weeds on their fields.”

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Monsanto already faces a class action lawsuit in eastern Missouri over damage from the hard-to-control chemical, and Kansas may be next.

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Report: Feds probe Uber over gender discrimination complaint

Report: Feds probe Uber over gender discrimination complaint
[Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images]

Uber is the target of a federal probe over a gender discrimination complaint, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sought out information on gender-related issues like Uber’s hiring practices and pay discrepancies; the EEOC is also speaking with former and current employees.

Following a year mired in controversy, Uber—under the guidance of CEO Dara Khosrowshahi—has reportedly made changes to its hiring and compensation. But Uber hasn’t escaped scrutiny since: After the company did away with forced arbitration for sexual harassment claims, a former engineer sued over allegations of harassment and race discrimination. And last week, Uber’s head of HR resigned over reports that she did not address racial discrimination claims brought to her attention.

The EEOC, which fields complaints that workers file against their employers, can opt to sue or settle claims via private arbitration. The majority of EEOC complaints don’t result in action, so we don’t know how the agency will respond—but in the meantime, Uber has its hands full with multiple federal investigations over pricing, bribery, and more.

In a comment to WSJ, Uber emphasized that it has made a lot of changes over the last 18 months.

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Crocs introduces high-heeled clogs—but why though?

Crocs introduces high-heeled clogs—but why though?

Do you wear your Crocs everywhere, but hate that you can’t wear them to a board meeting because of, you know, social norms?

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Well, you’re in luck. Crocs, perhaps the world’s most controversial shoe brand, has released a high-heel version of its iconic clogs. And inexplicably, the new $55 shoes have been flying off the shelves.

Crocs launched as a brand focused on function and comfort. The brand’s founders wanted to create an amphibious boat shoe that could be used for outdoor sports, but the shoes quickly became must-have footwear for hospital and restaurant workers who were on their feet for hours every day. Over the last few years, however, the brand has been trying to win over the slightly more fashion-forward customer, with designs that looked nothing like the original chunky clog and designer collaborations with brands like Balenciaga, which had platform tricked-out versions of the clog. In fact, Crocs has actually made heeled versions of its shoes in the past.

But this time, the brand appears to be all-in. And people on social media have mixed emotions. Some people are making fun of them, which is a fairly common reaction to new Crocs fashion products. Some are sort of into it. Others bring up important points, like what happens if you’re a bridesmaid and the bride demands that you need to wear Crocs heels? Think about the relationship fallout these shoes could create.

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Terrifying Ryanair flight video shows oxygen masks drop during cabin depressurization

Terrifying Ryanair flight video shows oxygen masks drop during cabin depressurization

A Ryanair flight carrying 189 people from Dublin to Zadar on Friday the 13th had a sudden “in-flight depressurization” that caused the oxygen masks to drop and the pilots to make a rapid descent. The aircraft landed normally and passengers disembarked, The Guardian reports, however, over 30 passengers were taken to the hospital with bleeding from the ears, headaches, and more side effects from the rapid descent.

“We get on the plane. We’re flying, and next, of all the oxygen masks come down. We’re left in darkness for 15 minutes. There’s no reassurance, just people shouting, ’emergency, emergency,'” passenger Sarah McGarry told the Irish Times. “There was a newborn baby and children on the flight. People are screaming, and we don’t know what’s going on for 15 minutes . . . Then finally we’re told that we’re going to Germany.”

The plane made an emergency landing at Frankfurt-Hahn Airport in Germany where, in typical Ryanair fashion, passengers were given a minimum of customer service because “there was a shortage of available accommodation.” They were reportedly kept in a basement of the airport after their trauma before new travel arrangements could be made. And it was traumatic, as the video and images from the flight show. In short, next time you fly, buckle up and thank god for qualified airplane pilots.

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CRISPR stocks plummet over study pointing to potential adverse effects

CRISPR stocks plummet over study pointing to potential adverse effects
[Photo: qimono/Pixabay]

CRISPR-Cas9, the gene-snipping technology that has been heralded as a potential way to treat cancer and other genetic diseases, may present more risks than originally thought.

According to a new study released today in Nature Biotechnology, the DNA editing technique has been shown to produce unintended genomic consequences. The study–which was in review for over a year, according to STAT–found that when CRISPR edited specific genes, it also impacted unrelated genes that were far removed from the pair targets. Essentially, this means that CRISPR could unknowingly delete or alter non-targeted genes, which could lead to myriad unintended consequences. This is especially frightening, since the technology is going to be used in human clinical trials.

Meanwhile, other scientists working with CRISPR are trying to downplay the findings, telling STAT that there have been no reported adverse effects similar to what the study describes. The news, however, has brought about a market reaction–at least three publicly traded companies that focus on CRISPR-based therapies are in stock nosedive. Crispr Therapeutics is down by over 6%; Editas fell by over 3%; and Intellia Therapeutics dropped by over 5%.

The author of the paper told STAT that these findings should be seen as a “wake-up call” and that the potential genetic consequences CRISPR may bring have been “seriously underestimated.”

At the very least, this paper points to the need to look closer at the impact CRISPR could have on patients. It’s true that it may help cure some diseases. Yet an unintended gene deletion could also lead to other unknown maladies. You can read the full STAT write-up here.

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FCC chairman Ajit Pai has “serious concerns” over Sinclair merger

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has “serious concerns” over Sinclair merger
[Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore]

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has expressed “serious concerns” over Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s planned acquisition of Tribune Media, stating the matter is in the process of being presented before an administrative law judge.

“Based on a thorough review of the record, I have serious concerns about the Sinclair/Tribune transaction,” Pai said in a statement. “The evidence we’ve received suggests that certain station divestitures that have been proposed to the FCC would allow Sinclair to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law.”

As the largest broadcasting group in the U.S., Sinclair has been under scrutiny for strong-arming its local affiliates to push its conservative agenda that avidly supports the Trump administration. Analysts have long speculated that Sinclair’s end goal in currying favor with Trump is to gain his support in easing regulations that would prohibit acquisitions like that of Tribune Media. Given the fact that Pai was a direct appointment of Trump’s, Pai’s announcement calling into the question the way Sinclair might extend its influence beyond the dictates required to approve the merger comes as a bit of a surprise.

In his statement, Pai says the Communications Act doesn’t allow the FCC to green light such a transaction, and that he’s calling for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. Then again, Pai very well could just be going through the motions of ethics as to not raise further suspicion over Sinclair’s relationship with the Trump administration.

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Clean beauty retailer The Detox Market expands with mini-stores

Clean beauty retailer The Detox Market expands with mini-stores
[Photo: courtesy of The Detox Market]

As the clean beauty movement grows increasingly larger, one retailer is getting smaller.

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The Detox Market, a retailer dedicated to non-toxic and natural beauty, unveiled a micro-store concept on Sunday. Essentially the size of a celebrity walk-in closet, the new hubs feature a host of both well-known names and emerging brands in the skincare and cosmetics categories. The company’s sixth retail location is located within the Westfield Century City mall in California.

[Photo: courtesy of The Detox Market]
The space looks the part of an upscale, healthy living retailer. It sports a minimal yet colorful SoCal design: White ash wood gives way to pastel-hued geometric shelves, punctuated by succulents and potted plants. It’s where you’d imagine beauty-obsessed millennials would shop–like Glossier mixed with Whole Foods.

The Detox Market already tested the micro-store in Toronto, which reportedly received a good response. The plan is to expand in the coming year, though no word yet on the next locale. There’s certainly consumer demand: 6 out of 10 women now read cosmetic product labels prior to purchase, according to a recent Kari Gran x Harris Group 2017 poll. Clean beauty is the fastest-growing segment within the $999 billion wellness beauty industry, reports the Global Wellness Institute, with boutique shops as well as big-box retailers attempting to keep up with demand.

Just last month, Brandless announced it, too, was releasing a line of wellness-inspired personal care products.

The Detox Market, for its part, doubled its size every year for the last five years. A rep confirms that it receives an average of 780 new brand submissions per year. The e-commerce site and stores launch approximately four new brands a month–or 48 a calendar year.

Not bad for a retailer that bans 638 ingredients from being carried in its stores.

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Putin doesn’t deny he has compromising info on Trump in bizarre press conference

Putin doesn’t deny he has compromising info on Trump in bizarre press conference

In a bizarre press conference in Helsinki today, both President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign and reiterated their desire for closer relations.

When AP reporter Jonathan Lemire asked Putin whether he has compromising information on the U.S. president (such as the salacious allegations outlined in the infamous dossier), Putin didn’t deny the claim, simply replying: “I did hear these rumors. When President Trump visited Moscow back then, I didn’t even know he was in Moscow . . . Nobody informed me that he was in Moscow . . . Please disregard these issues.”

And then Trump chimed in, “If they had it, it would have been out long ago,” finishing the press conference.

Other noteworthy moments during the conference included Trump saying that he believes Putin’s denial of interference in the U.S. election, despite the recent U.S. indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking the Democratic National Committee: “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

And even more bizarrely, Putin offered to assist special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation of the Trump campaign’s Russian ties. The Russian leader offered to interrogate the indicted Russian officials with Mueller’s staff present, but only if the U.S. interrogates American law enforcement and intelligence officials with Russians present about their “illegal actions” in Russia.

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Yes, the brain tingles are real! ASMR fans get more validation from science

Yes, the brain tingles are real! ASMR fans get more validation from science

There are some 13 million ASMR videos on YouTube, and countless enthusiasts around the world who love the brain tingles that come with listening to a whispering hairdresser, a keyboard being tapped on, a pomegranate being opened, an iPhone being unboxed, or Bob Ross just Bob Rossing.

Fans of the videos swear these tingles are a real phenomenon, but with limited research on the topic, conversations about the relaxation benefits of ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) have been largely anecdotal—with fans extolling the benefits on Reddit or the YouTube comment section.

Science is catching up, however: Researchers from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology recently looked into whether ASMR is a physiologically rooted experience that could affect the physical and mental health of those who experience it. They conducted two different experiments among people who identified as experiencing ASMR, as well as a control group made up of people of the same age and gender who did not experience ASMR. In the first, 1,002 people watched videos with and without ASMR triggers, and then reported how they felt. The participants who self-identified as experiencing ASMR reported more both more calmness and less stress and sadness.

In a new paper, researchers Giulia Lara Poerio, Emma Blakey, Thomas J. Hostler, and Theresa Veltri unveiled their results. They found that those who experience ASMR showed “significantly greater reductions in their heart rates when watching ASMR videos (an average decrease of 3.14 beats per minute) compared to those who do not.” They also found significant increases in relaxation and “feelings of social connection” and “that ASMR is a reliable and physiologically-rooted experience that may have therapeutic benefits for mental and physical health.”

Of course, if you don’t get brain tingles listening to an Indian barber giving a head massage, well, you’re going to have to find different ways to relax, because ASMR only relaxes people who actually experience the phenomenon.

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Revival Rugs wants to give vintage Turkish carpets a new life on your floor

Millennials, you may have gathered, are in nesting mode. They’re carefully decorating their homes, but rather than using the brands their parents relied on, they’re turning to a new wave of startups–like Casper, Brooklinen, and Burrow–that make high-quality products at moderate prices.

And soon they’re going to find that perfect vintage Turkish carpet from a startup called Revival Rugs. The brand was cofounded by Ben Hyman–a Brooklinen cofounder–who is fully aware of how attractive the direct-to-consumer approach is to many millennials.

[Photo: courtesy of Revival Rugs]
Revival Rugs scours Turkey for authentic Turkish carpets that are decades, if not centuries, old. It then makes any necessary repairs before shipping, storing, and photographing them for the website. Customers can then pick the one-of-a-kind carpet that they want and have it shipped to their door for a fraction of the price of buying one from a carpet dealer. Rugs start at just over $100 and can go up to nearly $2,000 for extra large pieces.

“The traditional supply chain involves many middlemen who mark up the price,” Hyman, the brand’s CEO, says. “Since we handle every aspect of the process, we can charge much less.”

By making the carpets more affordable, Revival Rugs can capture a segment of consumers who are younger than the traditional Turkish carpet customer. Hyman says the brand focuses on styling the rugs in a modern, fashion-forward way, to allow these vintage pieces to look at home in millennials’ apartments and houses. While some of the rugs are brand new, many are faded from years of use, a look that Hyman says many young buyers find cool.

“These carpets take up to a year to make by hand, and were well-loved by other owners for decades,” says Hyman. “There’s something beautiful about giving these carpets a new life in a chic modern home.”

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