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Snowplow-driver shortage means some towns are offering $310 an hour and $2,000 'snow bonuses' for people with a commercial driver's license

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:18
A snowplow on March 8, 2018, in Walpole, Massachusetts.
  • Massachusetts towns are offering snowplow drivers up to $310 an hour, government records show.
  • Colorado raised annual salaries to $40,000 and is offering "snow bonuses" up to $2,000, 9News said.
  • It's an attempt to lure in applicants as drivers flock to higher-paying trucking and delivery jobs.

States across the country are short hundreds of snowplow drivers this winter, causing some towns to raise wages up to $310 an hour and offer $2,000 "snow bonuses."

The salary hikes are an attempt to compete with private companies for applicants with commercial driver's licenses as workers flock to higher-paying delivery and trucking jobs.

The snowplow-driver shortage "is something all states are seeing right now as more and more private delivery jobs have been created during the pandemic," Barbara LaBoe, a spokesperson for Washington state's Department of Transportation, told Insider. 

Washington is 140 staff short of its normal 1,500 winter-operation workers, LaBoe said. Starting salaries for state-highway-maintenance workers range from $18.93 to $27.90 an hour.

The state's Department of Transportation has considered raising wages but "can't move as quickly as private industry in matters such as this," she added.

Despite this week's snow storms, staffing shortages did not cause any road closures in Washington or Pennsylvania, two Department of Transportation spokespeople said.

Pennsylvania hired 94% of its permanent snowplow operators but is missing 55% of the temporary workers typically hired during the winter. The state's seasonal CDL-operator positions range from $17.48 to $19.72 an hour. 

Snowplow drivers with their own commercial vehicles such as construction loaders will likely make the most this storm season.

Watertown, a suburb 20 minutes outside Boston, is offering hourly wages ranging from $86 to $310, depending on the type of equipment used, government documents show. The town's hourly salary for a "snow melter" is listed at a whopping $5,500 — but the required machine can cost up to $3 million

Lowell is offering $85 an hour for pickup truck drivers with snowplows and up to $155 an hour for wheel-loader drivers with a 12-foot plow, the city's website says.

In central Massachusetts, Worcester's snowplow application offers "extended season rates" that pay an additional $10 an hour for drivers who plow before December 1 or after April 1, bringing its highest-paid position to $190 an hour. 

The Colorado Department of Transportation has raised annual road-maintenance-worker salaries to $40,000 and is offering $2,000 performance-based "snow bonuses," the local NBC affiliate 9News said.

Andrew Grider, the president of Southern Sun Landscaping in Virginia, told the local NBC news station that he had to turn down clients because his snowplow drivers were so in demand

On top of needing a CDL, many snowplow operators are required to complete additional training and drive in dangerous weather conditions.

"Every snow operator knows you're usually working past that 12-hour limit, sometimes up to 24 or more hours," Grider said.

Mike Ruby, a Massachusetts resident, also emphasized on NBC Boston the long hours required of snowplow drivers and said the state's wage hikes were "pretty reasonable" considering "that you have to bring your truck and have to stay up all night and have to be prepared, and the truck has to be running." 

Read the original article on Business Insider
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See inside a $340 million Boeing military transport jet that keeps American troops and supplies moving around the world

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:11
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow in 2021.
  • The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a workhorse transport and cargo plane of the US Air Force.
  • As many as 102 troops can be flown anywhere in the world on the aircraft. 
  • More than 800 Afghan refugees were transported to safety on the aircraft in just one flight.
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III should be instantly recognizable to any US service member who has deployed to an overseas combat zone in the past two decades.A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow in 2021.Since its first delivery to the Air Force at Joint Base Charleston in 1993, Boeing's flagship military aircraft has served the US military through two wars and aided in countless conflicts and missions.

Source: US Air Force

Air Mobility Command primarily operates the US military's fleet of more than 200 C-17 aircraft, which have been delivered over the past three decades. A veritable jack of all trades, the aircraft acts as a cargo plane, a troop transport, and even a flying hospital.Most recently, though, the US military relied upon the C-17 to safely evacuate military personnel, government contractors, and refugees from Afghanistan at the end of the war there.Air Force loadmasters and pilots load people being evacuated from Afghanistan onto an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on August 24.The United Arab Emirates air force showed off one of its Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIIs at the Dubai Airshow in November, which is comparable to what the US Air Force flies. Here's what it's like inside.A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow in 2021.When it comes to four-engine workhorse aircraft, commercial aviation has the Boeing 747, and military aviation has the C-17. Nations around the world, including the UK, Qatar, UAE, Canada, India, Australia, and Kuwait, have chosen the C-17 to help power their militaries.The C-17 stands at 174 feet long and 55 feet and 1 inch tall, with an unmistakable look.

Source: US Air Force

Four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 engines power the aircraft and offer 40,440 pounds of thrust.

Source: US Air Force

The engines are so powerful that they are used to slow the plane during steep tactical descents, something which a commercial airliner would never dream of doing.

Source: US Air Force

All cargo is loaded through the C-17's rear cargo door, which comes equipped with a ramp for easy loading and offloading.Helicopters, vehicles, and even a 69-ton M1 Abrams tank can be transported in the back of a C-17, thanks to a maximum payload capacity of 170,900 pounds.

Source: US Air Force

The cargo compartment spans 88 feet, with a width of 18 feet and a height of 12 feet and 4 inches, enough space for 102 troops, 36 medical litters, and 54 ambulatory patients.

Source: US Air Force

Unlike a passenger airliner or even a traditional cargo freighter, there's very little that's aesthetically pleasing about the cargo hold of a C-17.Wiring and cabling run along the cabin walls and almost give the appearance that the aircraft is unfinished.As with any military aircraft, there are very few luxuries, and interior cabin fittings take a back seat to utility and performance.Passenger seats can be found along the side walls of the aircraft and are about as basic as they can get.Extra seats can be installed throughout the aircraft depending on the mission.When the plane is flying important passengers such as dignitaries, plush leather recliner seats can be installed in the cabin. They're similar to what is found in the premium economy class cabin of an international airline.Slightly more basic airline-style seats can also be installed in rows of five across.They are undoubtedly an improvement from the bare-bones seats found along the cabin wall.But these seats are a far cry from those found on any modern airline.Passengers may board through either the cargo door or the forward door that comes with a built-in set of stairs.But not all passengers enter and exit through the same door. Paratroopers will often jump from the plane using one of two side doors, just as the US military has been doing since the days of the Douglas C-47 Dakota.Paratroopers will line up in a single file and jump out of the plane one by one as their parachute cords are automatically pulled by a static line inside the aircraft.The C-17 is also capable of medical evacuations, with litters placed in the cargo compartment.The US Air Force staffs a medical-evacuation flight with two nurses and three medical technicians.

Source: US Air Force

Litters can be stacked on top of each other up to three high.The US military also proved in August that the C-17 was more than capable of flying more than 102 passengers. At the end of the war in Afghanistan, one C-17 transported 823 refugees out of Kabul to safety.On August 31, the last US military aircraft, including C-17s, flew from Kabul to Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar, which marked the end of the 20-year war.Evacuees wait to board a C-17 at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on August 23.The C-17's cockpit is on the upper level of the aircraft, above the cargo compartment.The US Air Force prides itself on using commercially available "off the shelf" equipment on the C-17. The cockpit is as similarly unaesthetic as the cargo compartment.

Source: US Air Force

Pilots use a control-stick grip that's situated between their legs and similar to those found in helicopters and fighter jets to fly the airplane, rather than a traditional yoke.A heads-up display, also similar to those found in fighter jets, allows pilots to keep their eyes forward, which comes in handy during tactical approaches and other intense maneuvers.The C-17 can fly as high as 45,000 feet and doesn't need to land for fuel thanks to its aerial-refueling capability.

Source: US Air Force

Only two pilots are required in the cockpit to fly the Globemaster, while a loadmaster is focused on any cargo or passengers in the back of the plane.

Source: US Air Force

The loadmaster's office is on the lower floor of the C-17, directly below the cockpit.Just like on any cargo plane, the loadmaster is responsible for ensuring that aircraft are properly loaded and that the weight and balance of the aircraft on a given mission are within its capabilities.And while there may not be many luxuries on the aircraft, there's is an airline-style galley complete with a coffee maker.US Air Force C-17s traverse the globe on a daily basis as the US maintains its global military presence.The C-17 has proved its capabilities time and time again and is the military's go-to for a variety of missions.Air Mobility Command keeps the aircraft at military bases across the US including Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina, Travis Air Force Base in California, Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey,A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Source: US Air Force

And even during peacetime, to paraphrase one service member, there's always a job for Air Mobility Command.Read the original article on Business Insider
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Four people killed, 10 wounded in bombing in Somali capital

Al Jazeera - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:07
Armed group al-Shabab claims responsibility for suicide bombing in a Mogadishu tea shop near a military base.
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Monthly checks to parents aren't coming back any time soon with Democrats and Republicans miles apart on striking a deal

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:05
President Joe Biden; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
  • The enhanced child tax credit expired last year and there's few signs a bipartisan deal can be struck.
  • Republicans and Democrats disagree on program basics, like who should qualify.
  • Some Republicans do favor making the credit more generous — as long as it's tied to work.

With the centerpiece of President Joe Biden's economic agenda on the backburner, it's not likely that checks to parents will make a comeback anytime soon.

The expanded child tax credit program expired at the end of last year with Congress failing to extend it. The program provided up to $300 per kid every month to families, depending on their age. It was beefed up for a year as part of the Democratic stimulus law, bringing its total amount to $3,000 or $3,600 a year for each young child. The measure was also widened so families who have little or no taxable income could qualify for the first time.

Democrats want to extend it for at least another year as part of the Build Back Better plan. But that collided into resistance from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia who demanded that people demonstrate they have a job as a condition to get the aid. Senate Democrats can't advance the plan without him in the 50-50 Senate.

With the big bill on pause, some legislators have hoped for a bipartisan extension of the checks to parents. But Republicans and Democrats are many miles apart given their strong disagreements over the basics of the program, like which families should qualify, the benefit amount and what it should ultimately achieve.

Some Republicans do favor making the credit more generous — as long as it's tied to work.

"I think the common ground here would be to make permanent the doubling of the tax credit to $2,000 and make permanent the expansion of the credit to more families, which we did in 2017," Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means panel, said in a brief interview on Thursday. The 2017 Republican tax law temporarily doubled the amount of the credit to $2,000, but that's set to expire in 2025.

But Brady shut down the concept of families with no tax obligations from getting the money. "This has always been really based on earnings," he said. "We want to reward work."

Most Democrats favor extending the overhauled program as its currently structured — one that provides at least $3,000 annually to families with no strings attached. Republicans like Brady are against it, arguing that it discourages people from working.

Many economists say expanding the program to the poorest families packs the biggest punch when it comes to cutting child poverty. Early research about the program's effects indicate that child poverty has been reduced by nearly one-third. There's little broad evidence of work disincentives so far.

In addition, financing the program would likely be another hurdle in the path to a compromise. Republicans are dead-set against tax increases to pay for it. "No Republican, including myself, is going to say, 'Hey, I'm in favor of tax increases of any kind," Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the author of a competing child benefit plan, told Insider last week.

Some Democrats like Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado have suggested repealing the Trump tax cuts, an idea that many Republicans and even some Democrats like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona would treat as a non-starter.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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What's in the major voting rights bill Senate Democrats are mounting a last-ditch effort to pass

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 20:02
Protester David Barrows carries a sign during a rally to press Congress to pass voting rights protections and the "Build Back Better Act," Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Washington.
  • Senate Democrats are facing an uphill battle in their latest push to face voting rights legislation.
  • Democrats are planning to hold another vote on wide-ranging legislation that would reshape American elections.
  • Here's what the "Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act" would do.

The Senate on Tuesday is debating the Freedom to Vote Act and The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act for the first time after Senate Republicans blocked debate on both bills last year.

On Thursday, the House passed the two bills, now combined into one, titled "Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act." Democrats used an unrelated NASA bill as a legislative vehicle to fast-track consideration of the measure in the Senate. Because the NASA bill has already been considered by both chambers, it proceeded to debate with a simple majority instead of the usual 60 votes required to advance to debate. 

But despite Democrats' creative procedural workarounds, 60 votes are still required to end debate, meaning the legislation will almost certainly get blocked again. Schumer's promise to hold a vote on changing the Senate's filibuster rules is also on shaky ground due to continued opposition from Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

If the bills did somehow pass, they would massively reshape the landscape of voting and election administration in the United States. 

The Freedom to Vote Act would standardize voting election laws across the country and would significantly expand voting access, including reversing the effects of dozens of new state-level voting restrictions passed this year. The John Lewis bill would restore key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that have been struck down or weakened by the Supreme Court, and change the way federal courts handle election cases. 

With the Washington Monument in the background, the Rev. Al Sharpton, center, holds a banner with Martin Luther King, III, and Democratic Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green of Texas, during the march to call for sweeping protections against a further erosion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on August 28, 2021.Provisions from The Freedom to Vote Act 

The Freedom to Vote Act, or FTVA, is the slimmed-down successor to H.R. 1, a massive Democratic messaging bill on voting rights, campaign finance, and federal ethics, that passed the House in March.

After Senate Republicans filibustered H.R. 1 in June, a group of Senate Democrats drafted the FTVA, incorporating significant feedback from Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, election officials, and other stakeholders. 

All 50 Senate Republicans moved to block debate on the bill when it came up for a vote in late October. 

What the bill would require on voting access:
  • Election Day as a federal holiday. 
  • Online, automatic, and same-day voter registration. 
  • A minimum of 15 days of early voting, including during at least two weekends.
  • No-excuse mail voting with ample access to ballot drop boxes and online ballot tracking, in addition to streamlined election mail delivery by the US Postal Service.
  • States would need to accept a wide range of forms of non-photographic identification in places where ID is required to vote.  
  • Counting eligible votes on provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct. 
  • Restoring voting rights to formerly incarcerated people convicted of felonies. 
  • Imposes stricter regulations on voter list maintenance that make it harder for states to remove eligible voters from the rolls.
  • More protections and resources to serve voters with disabilities and overseas/military voters.  
  • Greater federal protections and oversight for voting in US territories. 
  • Improving voter registration resources and outreach, in addition to reauthorizing and strengthening the US Election Assistance Commission. 
  • The bill also includes the Right to Vote Act, which creates an affirmative right to vote in federal law.
House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre holds up maps during a meeting of the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission at the Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021On election administration and redistricting: 
  • Prohibits partisan gerrymandering by requiring states to use certain criteria when drawing new congressional districts.
  • Requires states to use voter-verifiable paper ballots and conduct post-election audits.
  • Gives cybersecurity grants to states and directs the EAC to strengthen cybersecurity standards for voting equipment. 
  • Prohibits local election officials from being fired or removed without cause. 
  • Makes interfering with voter registration a federal crime, and imposes stricter penalties against harassment, threats, and intimidation of election workers. 
  • Restates chain of custody requirements protecting the integrity of ballots and election materials, a provision meant to combat unofficial partisan "audits."
On campaign finance: 
  • The bill includes the DISCLOSE Act, which targets so-called dark money in elections, and the HONEST Ads Act, which seeks to enhance transparency in campaign advertising. 
  • Creates a public financing program for House elections and allows candidates to use campaign funds for "personal use" services including childcare. 
  • Creates a federal obligation for campaigns to report instances of foreign interference. 
  • Stricter enforcement of illegal coordination between single-candidate PACs and campaigns. 
  • Stronger enforcement of campaign finance regulations by the Federal Election Commission.  
Activists rally outside the Supreme Court on June 23, 2021 in Washington, DC.Provisions from the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act: 

The John Lewis VRAA takes particular aim at the Supreme Court and federal courts, seeking to undo rulings that have struck down or weakened key components of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Most significantly, it creates a new formula to restore the federal preclearance requirement mandating states with histories of discrimination to seek permission from the federal government before enacting new voting rules or redistricting plans. The Supreme Court struck down the previous coverage formula in the landmark 2013 Shelby v. Holder decision.

It also undoes the Supreme Court's 2021 decision in Brnovich vs. DNC, which significantly watered down the protections against race-based voter discrimination under Section 2 of the VRA.

The House version of the bill passed that chamber in late August. The Senate version, which has some relatively minor differences, was filibustered by all but one Senate Republican in November.  

  • Reverses the Supreme Court's new "guideposts" and standards from the Brnovich decision that make it harder for plaintiffs to prove racial discrimination under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. 
  • Enshrines judicial precedent and legislative history to strengthen efforts to draw majority-minority districts under the parameters of the Voting Rights Act.  
  • Restores the federal preclearance regime that the Supreme Court struck down in Shelby. The bill creates a new coverage formula that requires states with recent histories of voting rights violations.  
  • Takes aim at the federal courts by requiring judges to explain their reasoning in emergency rulings they take up on the so-called shadow docket, and tries to limit judges' from relying solely on the proximity to the election in deciding emergency cases on election rules, known as the Purcell principle. 
  • The Senate version of the law also includes the Election Worker and Polling Place Protection Act, which provides greater federal protections for election workers against harassment and intimidation. 
  • The Senate version further tacks on the Native American Voting Rights Act, a bill that strengthens voting rights and voter protections for voters in Indian Country. 
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence during a joint session of Congress to count the Electoral College votes on January 6, 2021.What about the Electoral Count Act? 

If these two bills fail, as expected, the best chance for serious election reform may be an update to the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which governs how Congress counts electoral votes and seeks to provide a pathway for Congress to resolve disputed elections. 

In the year since the January 6 insurrection, experts from across the political spectrum have called for Congress to modernize the 19th-century law after former President Donald Trump and his allies exploited its ambiguities to try to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn Trump's Electoral College loss. 

In particular, experts have advocated for Congress to clarify that the vice president's role is strictly ceremonial, clarify the standard for raising objections, (especially in cases where states have submitted just one uncontested slate of electors), and raise the bar for the number of lawmakers needed to raise an objection. 

Efforts to reform with lawmakers in both chambers are currently pursuing four separate endeavors to reform the law. In the Senate, a group of Democrats led by Sen. Angus King is planning on introducing a bill on the legislation, and a bipartisan group of moderate Senators are also exploring the issue. 

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.

"It's early in the process. We exchanged a list of changes we'd like to see as corrections we'd like to make to the Act, as well as other provisions related to elections," Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, a member of the bipartisan group, told reporters on Tuesday. 

In the House, both the Select Committee on the January 6 insurrection and the Democrats on the House Administration Committee are planning to release their own analyses and recommendations for reforming the law. 

Democratic congressional leaders and the White House, however, have said that ECA reform on its own is insufficient and not a substitute for passage of major voting rights legislation. 

The number of different proposals on Capitol Hill, the lack of support for a standalone ECA bill (so far) from Democratic leadership, and no clear deadline are also working against the possibility of any ECA reform.  

"I don't think there's an urgency to get this done immediately, in part because we don't have an election where the Electoral Count Act will come into play for three years," Romney said. 

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Norway's unique F-35 fighter jets are taking on a new mission

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 19:57
One of the Norwegian F-35A aircraft assuming a NATO Quick Reaction Alert role out of Evenes Air Base, January 6, 2022.
  • Norway's F-35s officially took over responsibility for the Quick Reaction Alert on January 6.
  • The transfer of authority to the F-35 ended the F-16's responsibility for the mission after 42 years.

On January 6, 2022, the Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35A Lightning II officially took over the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) mission in Norway from the F-16 fleet.

The formal TOA (Transfer Of Authority) from the F-16AM/BM to the F-35A took place at Evenes Air Base in northern Norway, further north of Bodø air base, that has hosted the QRA cell until now.

Evenes will be the RNoAF's most important base in the north, as an advanced base for the F-35 fleet as well as the main operating base for the P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft.

At Evenes, the RNoAF also has an air-defense battalion and a base-defense squadron that together will protect the airport. In addition, a number of support functions have been established at Evenes: by 2025, about 500 employees and 300 conscripts will work at the base.

As highlighted by NATO in a public statement, the TOA marked a historical milestone for the Norwegian Armed Forces and the Royal Norwegian Air Force, as it ended the F-16 fleet's 42-year-long mission serving Norway and NATO. While not on a 24/7/365 basis, the Norwegian F-35A were already taking part in the QRA mission.

—NATO Air Command (@NATO_AIRCOM) January 6, 2022

The first Norwegian F-35 landed in Norway at Ørland Air Station in November 2017. Work started immediately with operational testing and evaluation, to be ready to be able to stand on QRA from Evenes in 2022.

The Norwegian F-35As achieved the IOC (Initial Operational Capability) on November 6, 2019, becoming the third European country to reach IOC with the F-35 after Italy and the UK. Since then, the Lightning have carried out two deployments in support of Icelandic Air Policing in Iceland (in 2020 and 2021), as well as domestic QRA from Ørland Air Station.

Full operational capability is expected to be achieved in 2025, with a fleet of 52 F-35A.

A Norwegian F-35 taking off after assuming the Quick Reaction Alert mission at Evenes Air Base, January 7, 2022.

As already explained multiple times here at The Aviationist, Norwegian F-35s are unique compared to other nations' F-35s as they are the only ones at the moment to use a drag chute during landing, housed in a special fairing on the upper rear fuselage between the vertical tails.

The drag chute was installed so that it can be used to rapidly decelerate Norwegian F-35s after landing on icy runways under windy conditions. Indeed, the TOA ceremony on January 6, 2022, at Evenes airport had to be shortened because of the heavy snowfall with little visibility …

According to the official F35.com website, the pod "distinguishes Norwegian, Danish, Dutch and Belgian F-35As from other F-35s," although the system is at the moment used only by the RNoAF jets.

The system is designed as a wing pylon so that the pod can be installed and removed with minimal time and effort. The pod contains the drag chute system that rapidly decelerates the F-35s after landing on the country's short, icy runways. The pod is specifically designed to minimize effect on radar cross section and ensure the aircraft maintains stealth characteristics while flying.

Akin to the conventional parachute, the F-35 drag chute system is a device used to slow the motion of the F-35A and provide control and stability for pilots. The chute creates aerodynamic drag also known as air resistance. The F-35A drag chute uses the force of wind pushing in the opposite direction of the motion of the aircraft to safely land on short, wet and icy runways.

To deploy the chute, the pilot flips a switch up on the upper left side of the instrument panel. The switch activates hydraulic actuators that open the pod to release a Kevlar parachute. Once the aircraft is slowed sufficiently, the pilot flips the same switch down to release the drag chute as the aircraft comes to a stop.

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US aircraft carriers are taking new routes into the South China Sea, Chinese think tank says

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 19:55
US Navy aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in Danang, Vietnam, March 5, 2018.
  • US carrier strike groups entered the South China Sea 10 times in 2021, compared with six times in 2020 and five in 2019.
  • Use of alternative routes between islands may be designed to evade PLA radars and indicates skill diversification for US sailors, defence experts say.

The US Navy's aircraft carrier strike groups have not only increased South China Sea transits since last year, but their routes and drill patterns are becoming more complicated and unpredictable, according to a recent study.

Defence experts said the changes could indicate new countermeasures devised by the strike groups to face any contingencies in the region, such as a potential attack on Taiwan by Beijing's People's Liberation Army, or over South China Sea territorial disputes.

Beijing sees self-ruled Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. It is also one of the rival claimants to several small islands and reefs in the busy shipping lanes of the resource-rich South China Sea. The US demands freedom of navigation in the region.

The USS Carl Vinson CSG completed a five-day joint drill with the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) around the disputed Spratly Islands on Saturday, kicking off their 2022 naval schedule two weeks earlier than last year, according to the South China Sea Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a maritime strategic study unit affiliated to Peking University's Institute of Ocean Research.

USS Carl Vinson the South China Sea.

"The US military have drastically reinforced their military deployment in the South China Sea since last year, in terms of training scales, sorties and scenarios," SCSPI director Hu Bo told state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on Friday.

"USS [US ship carrier strike groups] entered the South China Sea 10 times last year, compared with six times in 2020, and five in 2019, with their training patterns becoming more complicated and unpredictable."

In the past, the US warships used to enter the region via the Bashi Channel between the Philippines and Taiwan, but their routes and operation time spans had become diversified since last year, he added.

Navigation records and satellite images show that the strike groups had tended to pass through narrow waterways between the Philippine archipelagos on their way to the region, including the Balabac Strait off Palawan province, a channel between Verde Island and Mindoro, and other points, the CCTV report said.

In the latest transit last Tuesday, the CSG led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier entered the region via the Balabac Strait to team up with the Essex ARG, a landing helicopter dock group, according to the US Navy.

Lu Li-shih, a former instructor at Taiwan's Naval Academy in Kaohsiung, said the US strike groups appeared to be trying to come up with new countermeasures to the PLA's anti-access strategies aimed at stopping foreign military interventions in waters off Taiwan and in the South China Sea.

A press conference in the hangar bay of US Navy aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson while anchored in Manila Bay, Philippines, November 30, 2010.

"I believe the US Navy is trying to escape the over-the-horizon (OTH) radars systems on the three artificial islands of Mischief, Subi and Fiery Cross reefs, which has targeted US warships and aircraft [before]," Lu said, referring to Beijing's three artificial islands in the Spratlys.

"The US Navy can use the geographical features of the Philippines to approach the region and suddenly appear somewhere out of the PLA's expectations, because the OTH radars have limitations when it comes to monitoring approaching objects from a group of archipelagos."

The USS Carl Vinson strike group fleet includes destroyers, frigates, submarines and supply ships. The new approach of warships sailing between island groups would also require US sailors to boost their skills in traditional terrestrial navigation, Lu noted.

Collin Koh, a research fellow from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said the new movements and choices of route were in keeping with the dynamic force employment concept implemented by the US Navy.

"Instead of using only those traditional routes, the increased use of lesser-known, alternative routes would reduce predictability with respect to the direction of movement of US military assets," Koh said.

"This thereby increases operational and strategic flexibility in times of peace and contingencies. Such contingencies would include the Taiwan Strait scenario to be sure."

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Activision CEO Bobby Kotick will reportedly leave the company after Microsoft acquisition closes

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 19:53
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick.
  • Microsoft is buying "Call of Duty" publisher Activision in a $68.7 billion all-cash deal.
  • As part of the deal, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick is reportedly out.
  • Microsoft said Kotick would remain in his position after the deal closes and report to Xbox lead Phil Spencer.

Microsoft is buying Activision, the major video game publisher behind the "Call of Duty" franchise, in an all-cash deal valued at around $68.7 billion.

It's Microsoft's largest ever acquisition, and the largest video game acquisition in history.

Microsoft will acquire a huge selection of intellectual property and game development resources: Game franchises like "Call of Duty," "World of Warcraft," and "Candy Crush," in addition to major game studios like Blizzard Entertainment and Treyarch. Activision's approximately 10,000 employees will join Microsoft in the deal.

One employee who apparently won't be joining Microsoft, though, is embattled Activision CEO Bobby Kotick: He's expected to leave the company once the deal closes, according to sources who spoke with the Wall Street Journal.

Those sources said that both Microsoft and Activision have agreed that Kotick "will depart once the deal closes," which could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months.

That's in stark contrast to what Microsoft said in its press release on Tuesday morning.

"Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard," the release said, "and he and his team will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company's culture and accelerate business growth. Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming."

Kotick reportedly knew for years about a variety of claims of sexual harassment and rape at his company.

An investigation by the Wall Street Journal detailed several specific examples of harassment and rape at Activision. Kotick was not only aware of those claims but, in a least one instance, reportedly intervened to keep a male staffer who was accused of sexual harassment despite the company's human resources department recommending he be fired.

At the time, Xbox head Phil Spencer said in an email to staff that Xbox was "evaluating all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard and making ongoing proactive adjustments." Microsoft further addressed the issues at Activision during its investor phone call on Tuesday.

"We believe it's critical for Activision Blizzard to drive forward on its renewed cultural commitments," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. "We are supportive of the goals and the work Activision Blizzard is doing. And we also recognize that after the close, we will have significant work to do in order to continue to build a culture where everyone can do their best work."

Neither Activision nor Microsoft representatives responded immediately to a request for comment.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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El Salvador's president hits back on Twitter after rating agency Moody's issues warning over its bitcoin buying

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 19:52
President of El Salvador Nayib Bukele

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele hit back on Twitter on Sunday in response to a warning from rating agency Moody's over the Central American country's bitcoin investments.

The 40-year-old president tweeted: "BREAKING: EL SALVADOR DGAF." The letters are an acronym for "don't give a fuck". 

Bukele was responding to a tweet on Sunday regarding the warning Moody's issued last week about the risks its bitcoin trading poses to its sovereign credit rating.

The rating agency told Bloomberg on January 13 that El Salvador's bitcoin holdings "certainly add to the risk portfolio," especially for "a government that has been struggling with liquidity pressures in the past."

El Salvador has about 1,391 bitcoins in its coffers, according to a Bloomberg analysis, and "if it gets much higher, then that represents an even greater risk to repayment capacity and the fiscal profile of the issuer," Moody's said.

In July last year, Moody's downgraded the country's credit rating to CAA1, which reflects a very high risk of default on its debts. The rating agency cited a "challenging redemption schedule" and "a deterioration in the quality of policymaking," as its reasoning for the downgrade.  

El Salvador's aggressive bitcoin buying spree, particularly in moments when the coin's price has dipped, began in September 2021 when the Central American nation adopted the cryptocurrency as legal tender, making it the first country in the world to elevate bitcoin to that status.

This landmark move propelled Bukele to fame, especially among the crypto crowd. Supporters of his move to push El Salvador to the bleeding edge of crypto include Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood, who told Time Magazine Sunday that Bukele's bitcoin push has given citizens financial opportunities they didn't have before.

Global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and Wall Street banks such as JPMorgan, however, were less optimistic.  

Recent drops in bitcoin have cost El Salvador around $10 million, Bloomberg estimates. Bitcoin was trading at $41,536 as of Tuesday afternoon in New York, approximately 40% lower than its record high of $69,000 last November.  

 

 

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Dansk EM-konkurrent sendt ud efter vildt drama

DR Sporten - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 19:48
Categories: Sport

Dansk EM-konkurrent sendt ud efter vildt drama

DR Nyheder - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 19:48
Categories: Nyheder

Texas' new election law is creating a spike in rejected mail ballot applications and a shortage of paper registration forms

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 19:43
In this July 14, 2020 file photo, a voter, right, shows her identification to a Harris County election clerk before voting, in Houston. Paper shortages and a new identification rule for absentee ballots are causing problems in some counties ahead of the state's March 1, 2022 primary.
  • A paper shortage and new identification requirement are causing problems ahead of Texas' March 1 primary.
  • A rule requiring voters to provide ID information to vote absentee is causing high rejection rates. 
  • The state's new law, Senate Bill 1, also makes it harder for election officials to assist voters. 

Texas' new voting law and supply chain problems are causing a shortage of paper registration and mail ballot application forms and a spike in rejected absentee ballot applications ahead of the states' March 1 primaries. 

A new identification requirement has caused Travis County, home to Austin, to reject half of absentee ballot applications so far, County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said on Thursday. Harris County, home to Houston, has rejected 16% of absentee ballot applications, according to KHOU News. Bexar County, home to San Antonio, has seen a large share of ballot applications rejected for not complying with the identification law, KSAT reported. 

Senate Bill 1, which the Republican-controlled state legislature passed along party lines in 2021, bans temporary pandemic-era voting expansions, tightens voting rules especially around absentee voting, empowers election observers, and adds a slew of new restrictions and penalties on election officials, which DeBeauvoir said is impeding her ability to help voters whose ballot applications risk getting rejected. 

"If I seem a little upset by this, it is because voters are being mistreated in this circumstance," DeBeauvoir, a veteran election official retiring after 2022, said in a Tuesday news conference.

Senate Bill 1 bumps up the penalty for fraudulent registration from a class B to a class A misdemeanor, KUT News noted, meaning the state had to produce a new voter registration form.

Texas is one of just eight states with no online voter registration for most voters, meaning the state's voter registration system largely relies on paper. It has the earliest registration deadline allowed under federal law, putting voter outreach groups in a time crunch to register voters before the January 31, 2022 registration deadline for the primary. 

A spokesperson for the Texas Secretary of State's office told KUT that they are "limited in what we can supply this year, because of the paper shortage and the cost constraints due to the price of paper and the supply of paper" but that counties can accept voter registrations submitted on the old forms.  

That is not the case, however, for absentee ballot application forms due to the new absentee identification requirement in Senate Bill 1.

"All the old forms, which some people have stockpiled including the League of Women Voters and a lot of campaigns and a lot of political operatives, have to be thrown away. They are no good," DeBeauvoir explained. "And a lot of people are still trying to use the old form because we've had a paper shortage and the printing of these new forms means they're scarce, they're hard to come by. Nevertheless, you have to use the new form: if somebody uses the old form, their ballot will be rejected."

Texas Gov Greg Abbott and State Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, shake hands after Abbott signed Senate Bill 1, also known as the election integrity bill, into law in Tyler, Texas, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021.Confusion over a new identification rule is leading to ballot application rejections.

Texas, which already restricts absentee voting to those with a documented excuse, now requires voters to include identifying information — either their driver's license number, state identification number, or Social Security number — when applying for an absentee ballot. 

As Texas Monthly and VoteBeat reported in July 2021, the new rule also requires the number the voter provides on their application to match whichever number they provided when they first registered to vote. If the numbers don't match, the application is rejected, a rule that officials say is driving the high rate of rejections. 

"The voter is playing a guessing game with this," DeBeauvoir said. "The voter is trying to remember the number they signed up with at the voter registration office 10, 15, 30 years ago."

DeBeauvoir also pointed out that an identification number is also required on the return envelope for the ballot itself, creating two opportunities throughout the voting process for a voter to make a mistake that could get their ballot getting rejected. 

DeBeauvoir, whose office has sparred with the Texas Secretary of State's office on Twitter in recent days, said she and other counties are having trouble getting guidance from the office both on what to do with absentee ballot applications without the right identifying number and how to work the state's new online mail ballot tracking system. 

DeBeauvoir explained that new penalties and restrictions on election officials imposed under Senate Bill 1 make it difficult for her to advise voters on how to ensure their ballot application isn't rejected.

The bill makes it a felony offense for election officials to proactively send out mail ballot application forms, as some counties did in 2020, and bars election officials from actively encouraging or promoting voting by mail. 

"I run the risk of a state jail felony. It is illegal for me to tell anyone that kind of information," she said, advising voters to carefully follow mail ballot instructions and seek help from political party offices if they need it. 

"You're gonna have to fight for this," DeBeauvoir said. "This kind of suppression is designed to stop you from voting: do not let it stop you from voting."  

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BlackRock's Larry Fink says CEOs should give young workers what they want: 'Companies that deliver are reaping the rewards'

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 19:40
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink says the pandemic revealed a gap in generational expectations at work.
  • The pandemic revealed a generational gap at work, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink wrote in his annual letter to CEOs.
  • He said leaders need to think about how to connect to social issues that matter to employees.
  • The gap between Gen Z and millennial employees grew during the pandemic, but both want the same things at work.

In a remote work world, it's not just where we're working from that's different. It's also how we're working with each other.

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said in his annual 2022 letter to CEOs that leaders need to work with employees to navigate the new world of work, fostering an environment that expands its focus beyond pay and flexibility. That includes thinking about how to connect to social issues that matter to employees.

"In addition to upending our relationship with where we physically work, the pandemic also shone a light on issues like racial equity, childcare, and mental health – and revealed the gap between generational expectations at work," he wrote.

The 2010s economy saw generational differences emerge as millennials overtook the workforce, bringing tech-savviness and a desire for flexibility that older generations weren't used to. The pandemic era of the 2020s ushered more Gen Zers into the foray, adding another generational divide to the mix as this generation was more assertive about what companies can do for them. It turns out, millennials and Gen Z want the same things — they just ask for it in different ways. And Fink says boomer executives should pay attention.

"Companies that deliver are reaping the rewards," he added. "Our research shows that companies who forged strong bonds with their employees have seen lower levels of turnover and higher returns through the pandemic."

Millennials and Gen Z want the same things out of work

As the The New York Times' Emma Goldberg wrote in an article that went viral late last year, millennial managers are afraid of Gen Zers, who are confidently and assertively demanding a better work-life balance.

The TikTok generation delegates to their bosses, isn't shy about asking for mental health days, works less once accomplishing their daily tasks, and sets their own hours, Goldberg wrote. It's coming as a shock to work-obsessed millennials, whose careers have always seen overworked and structured days. 

But while millennials and Gen Z may work differently, they want the same things in the workplace. Both generations experience more anxiety and stress than older generations, and both equally prioritize mental-health benefits and work-life balance. Both are also demanding corporate social responsibility, wanting the companies they work for to make a difference on issues like climate change and racial injustice.

The difference is in how the generations approach these priorities at work, which has a lot to do with the economic crises each generation confronted after graduation.

Millennials, who entered a dismal labor force broken by the Great Recession, were keen for change but risk-averse. But the era of remote work gave Gen Z the upper hand in amplifying demands for workplace autonomy, Lauren Stiller Rikleen, president at Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership and author of "You Raised Us, Now Work With Us: Millennials, Career Success, and Building Strong Workplace Teams," previously told Insider.

And so, as Goldberg wrote, they began questioning pre-pandemic workplace norms like eight-hour shifts or lack of progressive values, much to the chagrin of the millennial managers who are used to doing things their way (just like every generation).

While this creates a gap between millennials and Gen Z in the workplace, the two generations' similar needs unite them on one side of a different generational gap with boomer leaders on the other side. Millennials paved the way for a more progressive shift that Gen Z is now actively turning into a workplace norm. What Fink's comments imply is that employers need to accommodate these changes.

Of course, an increasingly progressive streak is what happens as a new generation ages into the workforce. As Rikleen said, "The quest for a workplace that respects boundaries and needs is baked in generationally. That will not change. With each new generation, this will get stronger."

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Louisiana Senate candidate smokes blunt in campaign ad highlighting non-violent drug convictions

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 19:30
US Senate candidate Gary Chambers (D).
  • A Democratic Senate candidate in Louisiana made a splash on Tuesday with a new ad.
  • Gary Chambers, a challenger to GOP Sen. John Kennedy, smokes a blunt in the video.
  • The ad highlights non-violent drug convictions.

Marijuana, once a taboo subject for American politicians, is featured front and center in a new campaign ad out of Louisiana.

Democrat Gary Chambers is seen lighting and inhaling a blunt in his debut TV ad, clocking in at 37 seconds.

—Gary Chambers (@GaryChambersJr) January 18, 2022

"Every 37 seconds someone is arrested for possession of marijuana," Chambers, a 36-year-old community organizer, says in the video.

Still a prohibited Schedule I substance under federal law, marijuana remains illegal without any decriminalization measures in 24 states.

"States waste $3.7 billion enforcing marijuana laws every year," Chambers continues in the ad. "Most of the people police are arresting aren't dealers but rather people with small amounts of pot, just like me."

The US has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, with roughly half of federal prisoners serving time for drug offenses. Black people are five times more likely to be locked up in a state prison than whites, according to The Sentencing Project's data for 2021.

In his tweet sharing the video, Chambers explained why he was willing to light up on camera.

"I hope this ad works to not only destigmatize the use of marijuana, but also forces a new conversation that creates the pathway to legalize this beneficial drug, and forgive those who were arrested due to outdated ideology," Chambers tweeted.

The pot smoking ad is the first of its kind in a Senate race, according to NBC News.

Chambers will face off against GOP Sen. John Kennedy and other candidates in the non-partisan primary on November 8, followed by the runoff contest between the top two candidates on December 10.

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BlackRock's CEO says capitalism doesn't work if it's only about lining shareholders' pockets

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 19:28
  • BlackRock CEO Larry Fink laid out his definition of stakeholder capitalism in his annual letter to CEOs.
  • The ideology might not be "woke," but it relies on benefitting everyone, not just shareholders, he said.
  • Capitalism is under "constant reinvention," and firms need to think beyond boosting profits, he added.

Today's capitalism isn't "woke," but it's not an all-out rush for profits, either, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said Tuesday.

The pandemic and subsequent recovery have fueled a broad rethink of the US economy. Workers are winning huge raises after decades of subpar wage growth. Millions of people are quitting each month as the labor-market shakeup continues. The shift in power from employer to employee is a much-needed course correction for the country, Fink said in his annual letter to CEOs.

And Fink argued that this shift is just the natural evolution of how capitalism can best work to build a strong economy.

"Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics. It is not a social or ideological agenda. It is not 'woke,'" he said. "It is capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you and the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on to prosper."

Fink's words carry weight. BlackRock manages some $10 trillion in assets, making it the world's biggest asset manager and a major player in the corporate sphere. It's also been one of the loudest voices in support of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing, with Fink often highlighting climate change and sustainability in his annual letters.

The changes seen over the past year are a hallmark feature of US capitalism, Fink said. The ideology relies on "constant reinvention" as new competition and trends shape how companies perform. While older forms of capitalism might've emphasized shareholder gains over all else, today's companies need to benefit their "full range of stakeholders" if they're to also serve as strong investments, Fink said.

"It is through effective stakeholder capitalism that capital is efficiently allocated, companies achieve durable profitability, and value is created and sustained over the long-term," he said, adding "the fair pursuit of profit" is still what powers markets.

The shifting labor market is Exhibit A of the new capitalism

The pandemic only accelerated the reinvention of the US economy. Remote work evolved from a fringe option to the new normal for millions, and the relationship between companies, their workers, and society "is being redefined," Fink said. Record-high quits and decade-high wage growth underscore just how dramatic those relationships are changing.

How companies adapt will likely shape the labor market for decades to come. Workers calling on their firms for higher pay and better conditions is "an essential feature of effective capitalism," Fink said, as it's the free market setting a new standard for deals between employers and employees. Companies meeting these calls "are reaping the rewards" and facing lower levels of turnover, while those ignoring workers are falling behind, the CEO added.

"Companies not adjusting to this new reality and responding to their workers do so at their own peril," he said. "Turnover drives up expenses, drives down productivity, and erodes culture and corporate memory."

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'Last Night in Soho,' starring Anya Taylor-Joy, is now available to rent for just $6 — here's where to watch the thriller at home

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 19:25

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

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Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith in "Last Night in Soho."
  • "Last Night in Soho" is a psychological thriller starring Anya Taylor-Joy ("The Queen's Gambit").
  • The movie is directed by Edgar Wright, who is best known for "Shaun of the Dead" and "Baby Driver."
  • You can rent or buy the film to stream at home from VOD retailers like Vudu and Prime Video.
"Last Night in Soho" (Digital Rental)$5.99 FROM VUDU$5.99 FROM AMAZON$5.99 FROM YOUTUBE$5.99 FROM MICROSOFT$5.99 FROM ITUNES

"Last Night in Soho" is now available to watch at home via video-on-demand (VOD) services like Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV, YouTube, and Microsoft Movies. The movie made its streaming debut in November with a premium rental price of $20, but it's now available for just $6.

The psychological thriller stars Thomasin McKenzie as an aspiring fashion designer in the present day. While dreaming, she inexplicably travels to a glamorous 1960's nightclub and meets a character played by Anya Taylor-Joy. But soon the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred, and a dangerous threat creeps in from the past.

The movie is directed by Edgar Wright who also helmed films like "Shaun of the Dead," "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," and "Baby Driver." "Last Night in Soho" was favorably received by critics, and it currently holds a "75% Certified Fresh" rating on review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.

Where to watch 'Last Night in Soho' online

"Last Night in Soho" is now available to watch at home. You can rent the movie for $6 or purchase it for $20 through VOD retailers like Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV, YouTube, and Microsoft Movies.

Streaming platforms usually allow you to take up to 30 days to start watching a rental and then 48 hours to finish after you press play. If you buy "Last Night in Soho," you can watch it whenever you'd like with no restrictions.

$5.99 FROM VUDU$5.99 FROM AMAZON$5.99 FROM YOUTUBE$5.99 FROM MICROSOFT$5.99 FROM ITUNES

VOD retailers are compatible with most web browsers, smartphones, tablets, streaming devices, and smart TVs. For a full list of supported devices, visit your selected service's website.

What other recent movies are available to rent through VOD?

In addition to "Last Night in Soho," many recent movies are available to rent through VOD retailers. The rental prices for these films are usually the highest during the initial release, and the cost typically lowers over time.

Here's a rundown of a few popular movies that are available to rent right now.

'Sing 2'$24.99 FROM AMAZON$24.99 FROM VUDU$24.99 FROM APPLE TV

Free Guy (Digital Rental)$5.99 FROM AMAZON$5.99 FROM VUDU$5.99 FROM APPLE TV$5.99 FROM MICROSOFT MOVIES

'The French Dispatch' (Digital Rental)$5.99 FROM AMAZON$5.99 FROM VUDU$5.99 FROM APPLE$5.99 FROM YOUTUBE$5.99 FROM MICROSOFT

No Time to Die (Digital Rental)$5.99 FROM VUDU$5.99 FROM AMAZON$5.99 FROM MICROSOFT$5.99 FROM ITUNES

"Venom: Let There Be Carnage" (Digital Rental)$5.99 FROM VUDU$5.99 FROM AMAZON$5.99 FROM APPLE

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The 10 best new books to read in January according to Amazon's editors, from a new Colleen Hoover novel to a memoir by Roseanne Barr's daughter

Businessinsider - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 19:24

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

According to Amazon's book editors, the best new books to read in January include picks from Colleen Hoover, Nita Prose, and Xochitl Gonzalez.

January often means fresh beginnings, and diving into a brand new book is a great way to start the year off right. To help, Amazon's book editors picked the 10 best new books to read this month.

There's something for everyone, from a historical fiction book that spans three centuries to a contemporary novel on the complexity of a close female friendship. Other titles include a memoir from Roseanne Barr's daughter and a new book from New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover.

Here are the 10 best new books to read in January, according to Amazon's editors:

Descriptions are provided by Amazon and edited lightly for clarity.

'The Maid' by Nita Prose

Molly, a maid working in a New York hotel, discovers notorious — and very wealthy — guest Charles Black dead in his bed. This is a problem for any number of reasons, not least of which is that it offends Molly's sense of order, which is what leads her to clean Black's room immediately, and inadvertently propel her to the top of the suspect list.

Guileless, earnest, and determined, the bulk of this charming and propulsive novel is watching Molly — as vulnerable as a toddler on train tracks — hunt down the real killer. — Vannessa Cronin, Amazon Editor

$13.99 FROM AMAZON'Olga Dies Dreaming' by Xochitl Gonzalez

Olga is a successful wedding planner to the rich and soon-to-be-famous and her brother Pietro is a congressman. Both have come a long way from their Brooklyn childhood when they were abandoned by their mother, a radical Puerto Rican activist. But when Hurricane Maria strikes, Olga and Pietro are forced to confront their past and their futures.

In "Olga Dies Dreaming" there are family secrets, grievances, and the feeling of being caught between two worlds, which Xochitl Gonzalez renders with such clarity and zeal that it's nearly impossible to not read this in one sitting. — Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor

$14.99 FROM AMAZON'To Paradise' by Hanya Yanagihara

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara is a completely immersive and downright extraordinary story of men and women, lovers and friends, grandparents and grandchildren, that spans three different time periods (1893, 1993, 2093). It's easy to fall in step rooting for these characters who at times try to defy their legacy and other times try to uphold it.

The novel calls to mind David Mitchell with a dash of Edith Wharton, and something new altogether, resulting in another triumphant work of fiction by the author of A Little Life.  —Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor

$14.99 FROM AMAZON'Fiona and Jean' by Jean Chen Ho

Coming of age in southern California, Fiona and Jane's lives diverge when the former heads to New York after college. Gone are the heady days of getting drunk on soju at a strip mall Korean bar — blunting the rough edges of their disparate but equally complex adolescences, and occasionally getting them into the kind of trouble that only serves to strengthen their bond. It's a good thing, because the mettle of their relationship will be tested.

Told in alternating voices, Jean Chen Ho's tale of two Taiwanese Americans captures the comedy, the tragedy, and the love story that is unique to close female friendships. —Erin Kodicek, Amazon Editor

$13.99 FROM AMAZON'Reminders of Him' by Colleen Hoover

Every aspect of "Reminders of Him" feels heightened because it's not just a romance novel and it's not just an angst-filled forgiveness and redemption story. It's not a heartrending epistolary novel written to a lost love. And it's not even a what's-best-for-the-child kitchen sink drama, though that's how the first three story arcs intersect. It's an honest-to-God, wet eyelashes, lump-in-throat (twice!), mix of all four.

You will laugh, you will cry, you will have a new appreciation for orange F-150 trucks. —Vannessa Cronin, Amazon Editor

$5.99 FROM AMAZON'Emotional Inheritance' by Galit Atlas

It is perhaps a sign of the pandemic times that there are so many books on trauma in the marketplace. Bessel van der Kolk's "The Body Keeps the Score," a pioneering work many consider to be the trauma bible, is back on bestseller lists eight years after it was originally published, a testament to the healing power of its insights (and the power of TikTok).

Just as groundbreaking, Galit Atlas's "Emotional Inheritance" illuminates the ways in which the unresolved traumas of our forebearers can unwittingly be transferred to future generations. Insightful and fascinating, it's a profound cautionary tale about the perils of trying to wall off emotional wounds. —Erin Kodicek, Amazon Editor

$13.99 FROM AMAZON'This Will Be Funny Later: A Memoir' by Jenny Pentland

Jenny Pentland is the daughter of Roseanne Barr, but from the book jacket you'd never know. And that's the way it should be, as "This Will Be Funny Later" is less about being Roseanne's Daughter than it is about growing up in a complicated family that was suddenly forced into the intense spotlight of fame and its trappings.

While Pentland has had her share of struggles, she never comes across as bitter, and it's easy to root for her as she manages a quieter existence on a farm raising five sons, and hoping she gets her happy ending. —Sarah Gelman, Amazon Editor

$12.99 FROM AMAZON'Real Easy' by Marie Rutkoski

"Real Easy" is a tightly wound thriller anchored around the Lovely Lady strip club and the tenacious yet vulnerable women who dance there night after night regardless of the danger lurking in the shadows. Some of these women will die at the hands of a serial killer and one will discover the horrible truth. But regardless of their outcome, readers come away knowing each woman intimately: What drives them, what they fear, and who they love.

"Real Easy" does something rare and special in a mystery: It tingles your spine and touches your heart. — Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor

'Joan is Okay' by Weike Wang

Joan is a narrator I could read forever. She's naïve, unfiltered, intensely dedicated to her job as a New York City ICU doctor, whip-smart, wry, and views the world differently than most. And there are many reasons for that: She's a Chinese-American; her wealthy brother is constantly trying to get her to move to Connecticut; her mother is returning to the states, and her father just died. How will she cope with it all?

Weike Wang not only meets this pandemic moment with a story of identity and isolation, but she does so with bright comedy and care. —Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor

$13.99 FROM AMAZON'Anthem' by Noah Hawley

Anyone who has seen the television series "Fargo" (which Noah Hawley created and writes) or who has read his previous novels (particularly his last book "Before the Fall") knows that he is a unique talent. He is also a deep thinker. In "Anthem," a pandemic of mass suicide among young people is the jumping-off point for the story — and in the end, it is young people who will take their future into their own hands.

You will recognize much in terms of people and issues here, but you will also be pulled into an adventure that only a few authors could write so well. – Chris Schluep, Amazon Editor

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