Posts tagged with "Business Insider"

Home Depot ‘guts’ exterior installation workforce nationwide

February 8, 2019

Home Depot is laying off installation workers at its stores nationwide, the company confirmed to Business Insider on January 6.

The retailer says that its cutbacks will affect fewer than 1,000 people. However, if you are looking to buy and install new gutters, you may find yourself putting the work off rather than putting the new system in.

“After reviewing the installation business, we’ve decided it’s right to wind down our roofing, siding, insulation and gutters installation programs,” a Home Depot spokesperson told the business news outlet. “We’re only exiting these four installation programs, so we’ll continue to offer dozens of other installation services.

Home Depot’s website describes its installation services team as a group of professional installers who work in partnership with the company. The blurb also says the team has “a critical role within home services” and requires talent with “top-notch skills” and “a drive for quality and customer service.”

Listed responsibilities for the installation services team include negotiating contracts, contributing to the company’s growth, and working with management.

“Going forward, we’ll focus our efforts on categories that enable us to deliver the best customer experience, while simplifying processes and business structure for our stores and sales team. This does impact some of our associates in our installation business, and our first priority is to take care of them, as well as customers. It’s an extremely small percentage of our overall workforce, and we’re working to identify potential positions for them in our stores and other parts of the company.”

As the news broke, Home Depot employees took to TheLayoff.com to voice their dismay.

“The layoffs are happening at the wrong end of the spectrum,” one anonymous poster wrote on the message board. “Should have been a top down changeover.”

Another commented, “So sad to hear from my current/previous HDE brothers and sisters. I am from Los Angeles and they have hollowed out the work force here from salesmen to management to installers. I now truly believe that they see us as a body count and could care less about how many lives they have [affected]. The worst part is they tried to spin it like it was going to be better for us lol. How dumb do they think we are?”

Research contact: acain@businessinsider.com

Bark once for food and twice for toys: Amazon’s Super Bowl ad features ‘failed’ Alexa apps

February 4, 2019

Does your dog like Alexa better than you? The Amazon home virtual assistant now is making life easier in millions of homes nationwide and, according to Top Dog Tips, it does almost as much for canines as it does for its human customers.

Alexa will play calming music when you command, “Relax my dog;” it will connect you with a licensed veterinarian when you upload the app, MyPetDoc; and it can tape your dog when you are not at home through a Furbo HD Treat Tossing Camera. It offers pet trivia, dog training lessons, and much, much more.

And, if Alexa has her limits, that’s not what actor Harrison Ford finds out in a wacky Amazon Super Bowl commercial that will air on Sunday, February 3.

According to a preview by the website Bustle, the Alexa ”smart collar app” for dog-walking is just one of the many funny, but feeble, products featured in the commercial—which begins with an Amazon employee remarking, “We’re putting Alexa in a lot of things now. But trust me, there are a lot of fails.”

In the commercial, Ford looks super-frustrated when his pup keeps barking its food orders at Alexa. He becomes even more cantankerous when a delivery truck filled with doggie treats shows up at the curb.

Another faux failed product featured in the ad is an Alexa toothbrush, used by Forest Whitaker.  But even more outrageous is the Alexa hot tub—a jacuzzi that shoots water from its jets, in time with the tempo of a song. Poor Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson get ejected from the tub when the water hits them with fire-hydrant strength during a jazzed-up tune.

It’s all for fun, ratings, and product promotion at the annual football fracas—when the ads attract as much attention as the action on the field.

According to Business Insider, the ad slots won’t come cheap this year: CBS is charging north of $5 million for a 30-second spot. Among the brands that have bought in are newbies such as beauty brand Olay, dating app Bumble, and Kraft’s frozen-food brand Devour; along with regulars including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Doritos, Pepsi,  Avocados From Mexico, and Kia.

Research contact: @Bustle

Top of the line: The price and profile of the new Allbirds sneaker are slightly higher

November 15, 2018

Consumers nationwide have been swept off their feet by Allbirds, the well-crafted, snuggly sneakers made from sustainable materials. And now the San Francisco-based direct-to-consumer startup—reportedly valued at more than $1 billion —has expanded its footwear line beyond its sneaker, loafer, and skipper silhouettes to offer a snappy new style.

Called the Tree Topper and priced at $115, it’s described by the company as “a refreshingly simple evolution of the classic hightop, perfect for cruising beneath the skyline.”

According to a report by Business Insider, the new sneaker is the first to incorporate all of the company’s sustainable materials—including its new “Sweetfoam” outer soles made out of EVA foam derived from sugar; its proprietary Merino wool blend padded insoles; and a stretchy, mesh knit upper fabric made from eucalyptus tree pulp. Even the laces are made of post-consumer recycled polyester derived from old plastic bottles.

The new sole foam was introduced in Allbirds’ limited-run flip-flop in August, and the company estimated that it would roll out to the rest of Allbirds’ line by the end of the year.

“The Tree Topper is a true representation of our approach to design and sustainability,” Jamie McLellan, Allbirds’ head of design, said in a prepared statement. “With just the right amount of nothing and comfort as a non-negotiable, the Tree Topper is a playful canvas for showcasing our three hero materials.”

Research contact: dgreen@businessinsider.com

Amazon’s minimum wage hike will deprive workers of bonuses and stock awards

October 8, 2018

Amazon announced on October 2 that it would increase the minimum wage of its full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers nationwide to $15 an hour starting November 1.

The new Amazon$15 minimum wage will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees, as well as over 100,000 seasonal employees who will be hired at Amazon warehouse sites across the country to ship holiday purchases.

However, It appears the changes came with a caveat: Bloomberg  reported on October 3 that, even as its workers enjoy higher salaries, Amazon will remove their bonuses and stock awards.

In other words, the Internet giant will balance the scales—and fund its new largess—by eliminating other monetary perks. Bloomberg, which spoke with two unnamed sources at Amazon, noted that, in past years, the company’s workers have seen bonuses that amounted to hundreds of dollars.

Still, the company says it’s not all a wash. In a statement, Amazon told Bloomberg that the workers still will see their overall compensation increase, despite losing bonuses.

“In addition, because it’s no longer incentive-based, the compensation will be more immediate and predictable,” Amazon said, according to the business news outlet.

But Amazon easily could have afforded to both pay its workers and provide incentives.

Over the past few years, workers have intense pressure to produce, especially at the online retailer’s warehouses. “It is modern slavery,” a worker told Business Insider last May. “Jeff Bezos has become the richest man in the world off the backs of people so desperate for work that we tolerate the abuse.”

Research contact: nsmith150@bloomberg.netnimu

As good as their word(s)? How presidents have changed the American lexicon

September 6, 2018

When the U.S. president talks, most Americans listen. So it’s no surprise that our chiefs of state have had a huge impact on the English language Business Insider reported on September 5.

You’d be surprised at the words in common usage today that first were spoken by a U.S. president. Perhaps the most prolific were Theodore Roosevelt and Warren G. Harding, who came up with five and three, respectively.

The following words, which first were heard wafting from the White House, according to the business news outlet and History.com, are now part of the American lexicon:

  • Administration – George Washington: Our first president set the standard for all US presidents to come—and was instrumental in establishing the language we use to describe our government. Although the word, “administration,” has been in use since the 14th century, it was Washington who first chose it to refer to a leader’s time in office. According to History.com, Washington’s original use of the word came in his 1796 farewell address when he said, “In reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error.”
  • Belittle – Thomas Jefferson:  America’s third president introduced the word “belittle,” meaning to make someone or something seem unimportant. The earliest use of the word seems to be a 1781 note of Jefferson’s in which he said of the American people, “The Count de Buffon believes that nature belittles her productions on this side of the Atlantic.”
  • Squatter – James Madison: In a 1788 letter to Washington, James Madison delineated several factions who might be opposed to the newly drafted U.S. Constitution, including a group of representatives from Maine who occupied land owned by others and to which they had no legal title. “Many of them and their constituents are only squatters upon other people’s land, and they are afraid of being brought to account,” wrote Madison.
  • OK – Martin Van Buren: The word, “OK,” has a rich history, and eighth president Martin Van Buren played a major role in ensuring its lasting popularity. There are a few explanations of how “OK” came about, but the most popular one pegs it to an 1839 edition of the Boston Morning Post. Van Buren then popularized the word during his 1840 election campaign, as a rallying cry. At that time, OK stood for “oll korrect,” as in, “all correct.” Apparently, it was a popular fad among educated elites to deliberately misspell their slang words. Other abbreviations of the era included NC for “nuff ced” and KG for “know go.”
  • First Lady – Zachary Taylor: During the first few administrations, the president’s wife was commonly referred to as the “presidentress”—quite a mouthful. Not until Zachary Taylor eulogized Dolley Madison in 1849 did that begin to change. “She will never be forgotten because she was truly our First Lady for a half-century,” the 12th president wrote of the widow of the fourth president.
  • Sugarcoat – Abraham Lincoln: Not only did Abraham Lincoln pioneer the use of “sugarcoat” in the sense of making something bad seem more attractive or pleasant, but he stirred up a minor controversy with the word, too. In 1861, four months after he was inaugurated, Lincoln wrote a letter to Congress as Southern states were threatening to secede from the Union. “With rebellion thus sugar-coated they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than 30 years, until at length they have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against the government,” Lincoln wrote.
  • Lunatic fringe—Theodore Roosevelt : America’s 26th president—whose contributions to the popular lexicon included “bully pulpit,” “muckraker,” “loose cannon” and “pack rat”—was the most masterful president at coining new phrases. “Even beyond his presidency, Roosevelt added to his linguistic legacy when in his review of the avant-garde Armory Show in 1913 the unimpressed former president wrote, “The lunatic fringe was fully in evidence, especially in the rooms devoted to the Cubists and the Futurists, or Near-Impressionists.” The term soon crossed over from the art world to the political arena to characterize those with beliefs well outside the mainstream.
  • Bloviate – Warren G. Harding: Warren Harding also had a way with words. He popularized the terms, “Founding Fathers” and “Normalcy.” But, if you thought that the term, “Bloviator,” came from the TV shows, “Saturday Night Live” and “The Simpsons,” you would be wrong. To bloviate is to speak pompously and long-windedly—something Harding readily acknowledged that he did frequently. The president once described bloviation as “the art of speaking for as long as the occasion warrants, and saying nothing.” His usage was sourced from the more common word, “blowhard.”
  • Iffy – Franklin D. Roosevelt: FDR began using the word “iffy” early in his presidency, and by virtually all accounts, he was the first known person to have used it. That’s according to Paul Dickson, the author of the book, Words from the White House, which tracked the influence that U.S. presidents have wielded on the English language. When dismissing hypothetical questions from the press, FDR would say, “That’s an iffy question.”
  • Fake news – Donald Trump: While fake news traditionally refers to disinformation or falsehoods presented as real news, Trump’s repeated use of the term has given way to a new definition: “actual news that is claimed to be untrue.” Trump’s reimagining of fake news became so widespread in his first year as president that the American Dialect Society declared it the Word of the Year in 2017.

Research contact: @HISTORY

What’s your poison? It could be coconut oil.

August 23, 2018

We are what we eat—which is why the conflicting news we receive on a regular basis about nutrition is making it increasingly difficult to decide which foodstuffs are beneficial and which are just plain bad.

 Now, coconuts—and specifically, coconut oil—which once were recommended as a “superfood’ and a remedy for everything from gum disease to Alzheimer’s, are being reviled. Both the American Heart Association and a professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health are saying that the oil is high-fat and high-risk.

Indeed, Karin Michels, the director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumor Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg in Germany and a professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has caused a bit of a stir online. In a lecture posted on YouTube that has gotten nearly one million hits, Michels calls coconut oil “pure poison” and identifies it as “one of the worst foods you can eat,” Business Insider reported on August 20.

Her 50-minute German-language lecture, entitled Coconut Oil and other Nutritional Errors, has become a viral hit .

There’s no study showing significant health benefits to coconut-oil consumption. And, according to Michels, coconut oil is more dangerous than lard because it almost exclusively contains saturated fatty acids—ones that can clog the coronary arteries, Business Insider reported.

Based on the fact that they contain a lot of unsaturated fatty acids, experts recommend olive or rapeseed oil as an alternative, and while it can’t be used for cooking, flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is just as good for the body.

While Michels doesn’t describe other superfoods like acai, chia seeds, or matcha as harmful, at most she considers them ineffective because, in most cases, the nutrients they’re touted for are available just as readily in other foods that are more easily accessible such as carrots, cherries, and apricots.

“We are well and sufficiently supplied,” she said.

According to Statista, Americans consumers 443 tons of coconut oil during 2017. The global production volume of coconut oil was 376 million tons.

Research contact: k.michels@ucla.edu

Giuliani: ‘Collusion is not a crime’

July 31, 2018

Rudy Giuliani, attorney and spokesperson for President Donald Trump, said in a pair of July 30 interviews that he was at a loss for how colluding with the Russians would be categorized as a crime, Business Insider reported.

The comment—all but an admission that the POTUS had, indeed, colluded with a hostile foreign power—came shortly after Trump’s former personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen claimed to CNN on July 26 that he was with his then-boss and several other Trump Organization executives in 2016 when Donald Trump, Jr., told his father he could “get dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton from the Russians.

Instead of denying that there was any collusion, as Trump has been doing since he took office, Giuliani shifted the conversation by noting that the president did not “pay them for hacking,” which he said was the real offense.

Speaking with the hosts of the Fox and Friends morning show, Giuliani said he has “been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime.

“Collusion is not a crime,” he said, adding that the president is “absolutely innocent.”

Then in a discussion with CNN’s New Day, Giuliani said if you “start analyzing the crime, the hacking is the crime.”

“The president didn’t hack,” Giuliani said. “He didn’t pay them for hacking. If you got the hacked information from the Russians here at CNN and you played it, would you be in jeopardy of going to jail? Of course not.”

Giuliani’s comments came a day after Trump took to Twitter to again attack Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump tweeted that there was “No Collusion!” and added that Mueller’s “rigged witch hunt” was “an illegal Scam!”

During his Monday interviews, Giuliani questioned Cohen’s credibility and said the president “did not participate” in the meeting with the Russians, Business Insider said..

Giuliani told CNN he was “happy to tell” Mueller that Trump “wasn’t at the meeting.” Giuliani added that other individuals who could corroborate Cohen’s account would not do so—charging that Cohen is making these claims now because he feels the criminal investigation closing in on him.

Based on the findings of a July 24 Quinnipiac University poll, American voters believe 51% versus 35% “that the Russian government has compromising information about President Trump.” A total of 68% of American voters are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about President Trump’s relationship with Russia, while 32% are “not so concerned” or “not concerned at all.”

Research contact: brown@quinnipiac.edu

Researchers: Ties are a ‘socially desirable’ form of strangulation

July 18, 2018

Don’t tie that knot! The “business casual” dress code recently adopted by many firms actually has proven to be healthier for male workers. Indeed, findings of a study conducted at Germany’s Kiel University Hospital and released on June 30 show that wearing a tie actually can increase intraocular eye pressure—and decrease blood flow to the brain.

The researchers describe wearing a tie as a “socially desirable [form of] strangulation.”

To judge the ramifications of wearing a cravat, the study—due to be published in the journal, Neuroradiology, in August and covered by Business Insider on July 16—involved asking 15 men to wear ties, and 15 men to serve as a “control group” and go without them. The researchers then scanned the participants using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure cerebral blood flow and jugular venous flow.

What they discovered was that the brains of the tie-wearers were, on average, receiving 7.5% less “cerebral blood flow” than the brains of those subjects within the control group.The scientists attributed the lower blood flow to the narrowing of the carotid arteries, which carry blood away from the heart, under the pressure of the tie.

While a 7.5% reduction in blood flow may not appear substantial enough to cause noticeable health problems, people who already suffer with other health issues should be cautious: Whether you have high blood pressure, are elderly, or smoke cigarettes, you could end up suffering from headaches, dizziness, and nausea if you wear a tie for too long.

The restricted blood flow also can cause a backup of blood along the system to the eye—thus, raising eye pressure. Raised intraocular eye pressure is considered a risk factor for glaucoma and cataracts, and could possibly increase the risk of worsening existing glaucoma, according to the study.

What’s more, wearing a tie in a doctor’s office, hospital, or clinic could put others at potentially lethal risk, Businesss Insider reports. A study conducted by Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine showed that among 42 male surgical clinicians, nearly half had infection-causing pathogens on their ties.

“Researchers Eyal Zimlichman, Daniel Henderson, and Orly Tamir told Business Insider, “We estimated there are approximately 440,000 of these infections annually among U.S. adult in-patients and that their annual costs are $9.8 billion.”

That’s bad news for haberdashers, but potentially breakthrough information for the healthcare industry.

Research contact: r.lueddecke1992@googlemail.com

Trump 2020 reelection rally flags to be made in China

July 6, 2018

Just about a week ago, President Donald Trump reamed out iconic motorcycle producer Harley-Davidson for its plans to move some production overseas as a way to avoid the White House’s new tariffs on steel and aluminum—which threatened to cost the company  as much as $2,200 per bike. Now, we hear that, the American flags that will be used daily by Trump’s 2020 reelection team at his rallies are being manufactured in China’s Zhejiang Province at a rate of about 100,000 per day.

U.S. domestic manufacturing is a key part of Trump’s agenda. The president made a campaign promise to bring back American jobs by ensuring that products would continue to be made in the U.S.A. However, now the POTUS is threatening to impose heavy import taxes on anyone who manufactures abroad—including Harley-Davidson— while promising to cut regulations and taxes for those who keep their plants in America.

Li Jiang, the owner of a substantial flag business in Zhejiang, told NPR on July 3 that his relationship with the Trump team started during the 2016 campaign. More recently, got the Trump reelection team contract. “”We also make flags for Trump for 2020,” Li Jiang told NPR’s “The Indicator” podcast. “It seems like he has another campaign going on in 2020. Isn’t that right?”

NPR said Li was making the hand-held “blue-and-white Trump 2020 flags,” that will be waved at the presidents rallies though his factory; and that many others in the Zhejiang Province also made flags for Trump and his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton during 2016. According to NPR, the Trump campaign was ordering so many more flags than Clinton’s side that locals joked they were the first to know the businessman would become president.

The committee organizing Trump’s 2020 campaign, Donald J. Trump for President Inc., last year stated a commitment to “buy American” and said it had “produced and manufactured all of our merchandise right here in America” down to the American-made stitching on its “Make America Great Again” hats.

The committee said, “We put America first and take great pride in selling 100% Made in the USA products to our supporters throughout the country.”

The committee’s executive director, Michael Glassner, said in a statement released in July 2017 that the committee would sell American products “all the way through 2020 and beyond.”

It is unclear whether the organization is the one to have ordered the flags revealed to NPR and, if it did, whether it planned to give the flags away at rallies and events rather than sell them.

As for a potential trade war  between China and the United States affecting sales, Li, who said he used to make about a dime off each $1 flag he sold, told NPR he was unconcerned.

“We are not so worried because first of all, we have a big price advantage over our competitors,” he said. “And our clients are very smart. They would always go to the cheapest place. If China is cheap, they go to China. If America is cheap, they go to America.”

Business Insider, which followed up the story by NPR, contacted the Trump 2020 campaign to confirm whether it had contracted flags to be made in China. The campaign has not responded yet.

According to findings of a recent CBS News/YouGov poll, nearly two out of three Americans think the nation’s economy is in good shape, and most of them believe President’s Trump’s policies are at least somewhat responsible for that. More Republicans rate the economy positively than do Democrats.

Research contact: jack.weber@yougov.com

SCOTUS rules states can tax Internet sales

June 22, 2018

Shares of Amazon and other online retailers fell on June 21, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that individual states may require them to collect sales taxes, Business Insider reported.

The news outlet detailed that shares of the following Internet retailers were in free fall Thursday morning :

The high court’s decision in the case of South Dakota vs. Wayfair (Docket No. 17-494) overturned a 1992 ruling that limited tax collection by retailers for online sales—regardless of the state in which a shopper lives or if the company has a physical presence in that state.

The findings support a 2016 bill passed in South Dakota “to provide for the collection of sales taxes from certain remote sellers.” The legislation requires any seller “that does not have a physical presence in the state” to collect and remit sales tax if, during the previous or current calendar year:

  1. The seller’s gross revenue from the sales of tangible personal property, any products transferred electronically, or services delivered into South Dakota exceed $100,000; or
  2. The seller sold tangible personal property, any product transferred electronically, or services for delivery into South Dakota in 200 or more separate transactions.

Only five states do not have a statewide sales tax: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. However, Alaska and Montana allow individual individual cities to collect local sales taxes, according to the Tax Foundation.

Wayfair had argued in its brief that, if the 1992 ruling were overturned, “the burdens will fall primarily on small- and medium-size [online] companies whose access to a national market will be stifled.”

However, Business Insider reports, the ruling is widely seen as a victory for another part of the retail sector: brick-and-mortar stores, which previously said that online retailers’ ability to skirt sales tax collection gave them an advantage.

States also had argued against the previous statute, saying that it reduced their potential revenue from sales taxes as more consumers turn to digital shopping options.

What’s more, President Donald Trump had criticized Amazon, whose founder Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post, claiming that it does not collect any sales tax. The company maintains that it has been collecting tax in all 45 states that require it.

Wayfair, itself commented on the decision on June 21, saying “We welcome the additional clarity provided by the Court’s decision today. Wayfair already collects and remits sales tax on approximately 80% of our orders in the United States, a number that continues to grow as we expand our logistics footprint. As a result, we do not expect today’s decision to have any noticeable impact on our business, as it may on other retailers who do not currently collect and remit sales tax.

“Wayfair has long supported a legislative solution that would establish a level playing field for brick-and-mortar and online retailers by permitting states to collect sales tax on online sales. While we believe the Court was not the ideal venue for creating this level playing field, we expect that today’s decision will bring clarity and certainty to this issue.”

Research contact: @g_rapier