Archive for Ben Gilbert

Apple reportedly just fired another employee who brought attention to issues at the company

Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers a keynote during the European Union's privacy conference at the EU Parliament in Brussels, Belgium October 24, 2018.
Apple CEO Tim Cook.
  • Apple just fired a staffer who helped organize employees at the company, The Verge reported.
  • Janneke Parrish was an Apple Maps program manager who helped create the #AppleToo worker movement.
  • Apple recently fired another staffer who complained of intimidation. Apple said she leaked confidential information.

Apple has reportedly fired an Apple Maps program manager who was one of the organizers of an internal worker movement, according to a report from The Verge.

Janneke Parrish was part of the group of Apple staff who created the #AppleToo website, which enabled staff across the company to report personal stories that could "help expose persistent patterns of racism, sexism, inequity, discrimination, intimidation, suppression, coercion, abuse, unfair punishment, and unchecked privilege."

According to The Verge, Parrish was fired "for deleting files off of her work devices during an internal investigation." The files in question are said to be apps, and only three are named: Robinhood, Google Drive, and Pokemon Go.

Parrish is the second employee in recent months tied to ongoing reports of internal strife at the notoriously secretive smartphone maker who has been let go.

In mid-September, Ashley Gjøvik was fired for what Apple said was a failure to comply with an investigatory process, Gizmodo recently reported. The investigation, according to the report, was into a series of photos she had shared on social media which contained Apple's "Intellectual Property."

The photos are said to contain selfies of Gjøvik taken by Apple's internal security app, Glimmer, and a series of emails containing publicly available information.

Apple didn't respond to a request for comment as of publishing. Through her lawyer, Parrish confirmed she is no longer employed at Apple but declined further comment.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email ([email protected]), 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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What will legal cannabis sales look like in New York City? Not even the biggest dispensary chain in the US knows.

People walk past the Weed World store on March 31, 2021, in Midtown New York
People walk past the Weed World store on March 31, 2021, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Despite the shop's name, it doesn't sell any products containing THC.
  • As of March 31, 2021, cannabis became legal in New York City.
  • It's still unclear when legal sales of cannabis will begin in America's biggest market.
  • "We don't know...and not just on the timeline," Curaleaf exec Patrik Jonsson told Insider.

Cannabis has been legal in New York City since the end of March, but there's still no way to legally purchase it.

What is expected to be America's largest cannabis market is still stuck in limbo as New York legislators hammer out the details.

When will consumers be able to walk into a store and buy cannabis?

"We don't know, we don't know," Patrik Jonsson, northeast regional president at Curaleaf, told Insider. "And not just on the timeline, but also what we're going to be allowed to do," he said.

Curaleaf is among the top cannabis MSOs, or multi-state operators, in the United States, according to The Motley Fool. It has over 100 dispensaries in 23 states, including New York State where it operates several medical dispensaries.

Jonsson is responsible for overseeing Curaleaf's business in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. He said working on New York City right now is "kind of a moving target," because it's impossible to plan for the future without knowing what the regulations will be.

"We're kind of hedging our bets on how big, how small, how quick," Jonsson said. "'Cause none of that is set in stone. We don't know if we're allowed to be in one location. Are we allowed two locations? Can it be three locations?"

People in line at Rocky Mountain Cannabis Store, a cannabis dispensary in Dinosaur, Colorado.
In Colorado, cannabis has been legal and regulated for sale in stores since January 2014.

Cannabis laws vary dramatically from state to state, and New York is in a unique position where two of the surrounding states (New Jersey and Connecticut) are concurrently writing their own regulation on adult cannabis use.

In New York, for instance, only existing medical cannabis producers - like Curaleaf - will be able to both cultivate and sell cannabis. New entrants to the recreational market will have to choose to either cultivate or sell, not both.

But without knowing what type of retail stores will be allowed, how many will be allowed, and how they'll operate - to say nothing of not knowing when they'll be able to open for business - potential retailers are being more careful before diving in.

"Obviously the prices are pretty steep in a place like Manhattan," Jonsson said. "So, we're looking for locations, but we're also going to be strategic on how do we hold that location without knowing for sure if it's a location we're actually going to be able to use. That's a game that all the current operators are looking at."

Manhattan retail was hit particularly hard during the height of the COVID pandemic, with tourism and commuters simultaneously disappearing from major sections of midtown and downtown Manhattan. Chains like Starbucks closed dozens of stores, many small businesses shuttered for good, and some new entrants are using that as an opportunity to get a foothold in New York City.

It's unclear if cannabis dispensaries will be able to take advantage of the current glut of open Manhattan retail space.

Jonsson said that Curaleaf is currently anticipating retail sales to open in New York starting in early 2023, but he's hoping it'll be sooner given Gov. Kathy Hochul's recent fast-tracking initiative and subsequent council appointments.

When asked last week by Insider senior politics reporter Jake Lahut when retail cannabis sales will begin, Hochul declined to comment. In a follow up email, deputy communications director for economic development Jason Gough similarly declined to offer a timeline.

"We will continue to work expeditiously to bring this new industry to life safely," Gough said.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email ([email protected]), 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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After rewatching the surreal and bizarre 1993 ‘Super Mario Bros.’ movie where Yoshi gets stabbed and Goombas are humanoid dinosaurs, I can’t suggest it enough

A "Goomba" from the 1993 film "Super Mario Bros."
Throw away whatever you thought you knew about Goombas.
  • In 1993, the first-ever major film adaptation of a video game hit theaters: "Super Mario Bros."
  • In 2022, a new "Super Mario Bros." movie starring Chris Pratt as Mario is scheduled to arrive.
  • Rewatching the original for the first time in decades is a stunning reminder of how bizarre the film was.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
As a 36-year-old and a lifelong video game fan, I saw the original "Super Mario Bros." movie when it came out in 1993. I haven't sat down to watch it in full in literal decades.
"Super Mario World"

The most current "Super Mario" game in 1990 was "Super Mario World" for the Super Nintendo, which launched in 1990.

If you've never seen it or, like me, had simply forgotten, the "Super Mario Bros." movie is the story of two plumber brothers named "Mario Mario" and "Luigi Mario." But these are almost nothing like the Mario brothers you know from the games.
Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo star in 1993 film "Super Mario Bros."

At no point in the film does Bob Hoskins say, "It's-a me, Mario!"

They live in a version of early '90s Brooklyn where Italian-American red sauce restaurants littered the streets of Williamsburg.
Bob Hoskins as "Mario Mario" in the 1993 movie, "Super Mario Bros."

Yes, there is an accordion player and a violin player serenading Mario and his girlfriend. Early in the film, Mario and his girlfriend go on a double date with Luigi and Princess Daisy.

Together, they operate the "Mario Bros. Plumbing Service." Though the concept of Mario and Luigi as plumbers was rapidly fading by 1993, the "Super Mario Bros." movie took the concept of Mario and Luigi as plumbers and ran with it.
Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario Mario and Lugio Mario in the 1993 film "Super Mario Bros."

The brothers' plumbing acumen is a central plot point for the film, and repeatedly enables them to overcome conflict.

Rather than focusing on Mario, "Super Mario Bros." largely focuses on Luigi's budding relationship with a woman named Daisy.
Samantha Mathis plays "Daisy" in the 1993 film, "Super Mario Bros."
Daisy is played by Samantha Mathis.

Notably, Princess Daisy is the princess featured in "Super Mario Land" for the Nintendo Game Boy.

The central thesis of the "Super Mario Bros." movie is that a meteorite hit Brooklyn 65 million years ago and, instead of vaporizing the dinosaurs, it actually caused a dimensional rift.
A scene of the city in 1993 film "Super Mario Bros."

Here's the first look of the alternate dimension where Mario and Luigi travel to in the "Super Mario Bros." movie. It's a sort of Mario-themed cyberpunk version of Manhattan's Greenwich Village.

On one side of the rift is Earth, where human beings descended from apes. On the other side is where Mario and Luigi end up - a world that's unsurprisingly ruled by President Koopa, played by Dennis Hopper.
Dennis Hopper plays President Koopa in the 1993 film, "Super Mario Bros."
Unlike our reality, where human connection to our ape ancestors is tenuous at best, the Koopa world's connection to dinosaurs is far more intimate - to the point where Dennis Hopper even stands like a dinosaur, with his arms perched, throughout the film.
Dennis Hopper stars at President Koopa in the 1993 film, "Super Mario Bros."

There are also dinosaurs throughout the film, naturally.

You might be wondering what the connection to the dinosaur stuff is. Given that the most recent "Super Mario Bros." game before the film was "Super Mario World" for the Super Nintendo, it appears that the theme was pulled from that game's setting: Dinosaur Land.
super mario world gameplay

"Super Mario World" was the first Super Mario game to feature Yoshi, an especially important inhabitant of Dinosaur Land.

"We knew the game ['Super Mario World'] and we knew one of its areas was Dino World," one of the film's directors, Rocky Morton, reportedly told Dinosaur Magazine. "So we thought that it would be a great place to go into." The alternate dimension of the film is known by fans as "Dinohattan."
A shot of the street in 1993 film "Super Mario Bros."

Little references to the game series are littered throughout the world of the film, including "Thwomp Stompers," seen here.

The dinosaur theme gets stretched to some truly bizarre places, especially as the film attempts to integrate references to the video games. Goombas, for instance, become a de-evolved humanoid dinosaur creature.
An image of Goombas, the enemy character from the "Super Mario Bros." video game series, as depicted in the 1993 film, "Super Mario Bros."
And Yoshi, everyone's favorite adorable little green creature, looks like something ripped from "Jurassic Park":
An image of Yoshi, the "Super Mario Bros." character, as depicted in the 1993 film, "Super Mario Bros."
There's a good reason that this dinosaur looks like those in "Jurassic Park" - they came out the same year!
Beyond the foundational issues of the film's relationship to the games, the movie is all over the place. Dialog and plot logic are a mess from scene to scene, and much of it feels like disconnected moments.
Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo star in 1993 film "Super Mario Bros."

Why do Mario and Luigi put on these overalls, other than to reference the outfits of the characters in the game?

The fact that "Super Mario Bros." is such a mess, though, is what makes it so enjoyable to watch. It's a movie full of so many incomprehensible, baffling moments that you'll start to wonder if it's actually an elaborate social test.
An image of Toad, who is a Goomba, in the 1993 "Super Mario Bros." film.

You can tell this Goomba apart from the others because of his harmonica. Before he was turned into a Goomba, his name was "Toad" and he was a street musician singing about how bad President Koopa is. And yes, that is a reference to the character Toad from the game series.

Are there elaborate dance numbers? Yes. Does an adult woman stab Yoshi with a knife meant for stabbing? Yes. Is the bad guy's main weapon a modified version of the Super Scope light gun peripheral for the Super Nintendo? You bet! Frankly, I can't suggest it enough.
Bob Hoskins stars as Mario Mario in 1993 film "Super Mario Bros."

There's even a lengthy chase scene where Mario and a group of women from Brooklyn ride a mattress down a pipe as a mattress of Goombas chases close behind. Note the woman still holding onto her cigarette.

Unfortunately, there are no easy ways to stream the film, and the only available copies are on DVD and Blu-ray. There is a fan-made "director's cut" of the film available on the Internet Archive for free, and it's got more scenes than the theatrical release.
An Amazon listing for the "Super Mario Bros." movie on DVD.
If you really want to own a copy of the film, it's available on DVD for around $4.

You can find the "director's cut" of the film on Internet Archive. This isn't the official director's cut, but rather a fan-made cut of the film with found footage.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email ([email protected]), 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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Amazon’s head of gaming has absurdly ambitious goals, including creating 2-3 games that ‘capture millions of players and stay in the market for 10+ years’

New World Amazon
A screenshot from Amazon's upcoming game "New World."
  • Amazon has struggled for years to break into the lucrative video game business.
  • That isn't stopping games VP Christoph Hartmann, who has some very ambitious plans for the future.
  • Hartmann believes Amazon is capable of producing several landmark franchises in the next decade.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Did you know that Amazon, one of the biggest companies in the world, launched and folded a big-budget video game last year?

The game was called "Crucible," and you're forgiven if this is the first you're hearing about it. Despite being free to play and available on the world's largest gaming platform, Steam, "Crucible" quickly came and went from the top-100 chart. And after years of development and tens of millions of dollars, Amazon quietly killed "Crucible" five months after it came out.

It was emblematic of Amazon's years-long struggle to break into the lucrative video game market, from its failed set-top box project to its current, totally under-the-radar video game streaming service, Amazon Luna.

That history, going back to at least 2014, isn't deterring Amazon Gaming VP Christoph Hartmann.

"My personal goal is to create 2-3 AAA, live-service games, which capture millions of players and stay in the market for 10+ years," Hartmann told The Verge in a recent interview.

That is a highly ambitious goal and one that few game makers manage to accomplish. There are only so many games like "League of Legends" and "Overwatch."

Overwatch 2
A screenshot from "Overwatch 2," the sequel to the long-running multiplayer shooter franchise from Blizzard Entertainment.

He has reason to be optimistic: Amazon's latest game, "New World," saw a very positive reception in a beta.

But Amazon is still miles away from the kind of games that Hartmann is talking about - games like "Destiny" and "Fortnite" that not only attract millions of players but also operate as ongoing "live-service" worlds with evolving content.

Those types of games are rare in the video game industry.

One of the industry's most prominent examples is "Grand Theft Auto V," which has crossed three console generations and continues to pull in millions of players despite having launched way back in 2013. Primarily through its multiplayer service, "Grand Theft Auto Online," millions of people continue to engage with the eight-year-old game.

Hartmann's previous employer, Take-Two Interactive, publishes "Grand Theft Auto V" and the "NBA 2K" franchise - two games that operate as live services - so he assuredly knows just how difficult those types of games are to build.

It's an especially fraught proposition at Amazon given both the company's history in gaming and the fact that Amazon isn't, fundamentally, a video game company. Amazon is an ecommerce company, a web storage company, and a supermarket chain owner. It's even a major Hollywood production house at this point.

But, outside of owning video game streaming service Twitch, Amazon isn't really focused on the video game business. It's one of many things that Amazon does.

Hartmann appears to be aware of the issue and steadfast in his grand ambitions.

"At the beginning, they tried to replicate the formula which made Amazon great," he said. "But making games is so much more complicated than it seems."

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The man behind ‘Can you pet the dog?’ would love to write a book, but he’d settle for just being able to pay rent

"Fallout 4"
In "Fallout 4," you can pet the dog.
  • With over half a million Twitter followers, "Can you pet the dog?" is wildly popular.
  • The account provides a specific service: Telling followers whether or not you can pet a dog in a given video game.
  • It's thanks to one man, working for free, that the account has become such a smash hit.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Every week, with few exceptions, Tristan Cooper spends anywhere from a few hours to over a dozen hours telling over 500,000 people whether or not they can pet the dog in various video games like, say, "Lost Judgement" (you can).

If a video game has a dog or a cat or even a fox, chances are that Tristan's "Can you pet the dog?" account has looked into whether or not it can be pet.

Despite runaway success, Cooper isn't making a sustainable income from "Can you pet the dog?" even though the account is being used as a marketing bullet point for some major games with major marketing budgets.

"As of now I have not made any money on the account," Cooper told Insider in a phone interview earlier this month. "I spend a lot of time on it and you could maybe argue that it's helping other people get a spotlight on their games and I'm glad to do that," he said. "But there hasn't been a real return for me on that."

Because of the rise of Cooper's account over two-plus years, the answer tends to be yes, you can pet the dog.

Though he denies it, "Can you pet the dog?" has had a major impact on the video game business. Mainstream video game franchises like "Marvel's Avengers" and "Call of Duty" have added animal petting, to say nothing of the dozens of smaller indie games that have done the same.

If there's a cute animal in a game, chances are that players want to pet it - as highlighted by Cooper's account:

"I would like to avoid overstating any kind of like impact that the account had," he said. "I started it because people could pet dogs in games to begin with."

That's true, and he specifically cited Ubisoft's "Far Cry: New Dawn" as part of the inspiration behind the account - a game you not only can pet the dog in, but are specifically directed to on a side mission. Other major games, including "Fallout 4" and "The Last of Us," have featured dogs alongside the main character that were pettable.

But for every example of major games with dogs that could be pet, there are dozens of digital doggos that were unpettable.

As the account's popularity has increased, the concept has been used as a marketing bulletpoint for everything from small indie titles to major mainstream games.

Cooper isn't upset about this, but he would like to be able to pay his rent - and maybe turn the account into a coffee table book featuring the stories behind the digital animals we love to pet.

"A nice coffee table book of dogs in video games that you can pet...some interviews. There's a lot of great stories, behind a lot of the dogs in games," Cooper said. "They're based on real dogs. They're based on dogs that have passed away, and are immortalized in games."

Most of all, he just wants people to keep enjoying his account even though it's occasionally used as part of a marketing plan. "I know it is a marketing bulletpoint these days," he said, "but that's not to say people aren't enjoying this."

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Facebook leaders are reportedly worried their service has gotten too big to control: ‘We created the machine and can’t control the machine’

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook's impact on a planet where nearly half the people alive use its product has reportedly become a point of contention among the company's leadership.

A meeting of Facebook leaders in early September focused on "whether Facebook has gotten too big," and that the general tone was, "We created the machine and we can't control the machine, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A Facebook representative told Insider that the company disagrees with the report, but declined to provide an additional statement.

Facebook has faced criticism, and occasional Congressional hearings, for years due to the various effects of its massive size: The Cambridge Analytica scandal, which allowed data from hundreds of millions of users to be scraped from Facebook's servers; the months leading up to the 2016 US presidential campaign, where foreign actors used Facebook to sow discord and division among American voters; and most recently, insurrectionists' use of Facebook to plan and communicate during the storming of the US Capitol on January 6.

Some lawmakers have called for the regulation of Facebook, which could force the company to spin off services like Instagram, WhatsApp, and the Oculus VR hardware division.

Even if it did, that wouldn't solve the issue of Facebook's massive size - Facebook alone remains the world's largest social network, with nearly 3 billion users.

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This year’s big iPhone reveal event was Apple’s most boring yet

Apple's iPhone 13 smartphone, the 2021 iPhone model, is pictured.
Apple's 2021 smartphone, the iPhone 13.
  • Apple's annual iPhone reveal event happened on Tuesday, and it was less thrilling than ever.
  • Though Apple introduced new versions of a variety of products, the updates were all incremental.
  • If you're waiting on a new iPhone, maybe keep waiting.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

On Tuesday, Apple introduced the iPhone 13, the newest version of its most popular product.

It's a sleek rectangle of metal and glass almost identical to last year's device, the iPhone 12. The striking similarities to last year's phone aren't just visual: Functionally, the iPhone 13 is almost indiscernible from the iPhone 12.

It doesn't have the rumored satellite calling function that would enable people to contact emergency services in life-threatening situations without phone service. And it didn't remove the notch that houses the front-facing camera as hinted at by Apple-produced streaming series "Ted Lasso."

Aside from a new chip inside, camera upgrades, and a new set of color options - and a higher price tag, of course - the iPhone 13 is virtually indistinguishable from the iPhone 12. It's assuredly a more capable device than its predecessor, but not by much.

Apple's iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 compared in Apple's iPhone comparison tool.
One of these is the iPhone 12 and the other is the iPhone 13. Can you tell them apart? Here's a hint: The phone on the left costs $100 more.

In fact, despite Apple announcing new versions of its iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone, and Watch on Tuesday, the entire event was one of Apple's most underwhelming fall presentations in years.

Every product update was, at best, minor - the biggest product evolution announced on Tuesday was to the iPad Mini, which is now more akin to a shrunken down iPad Air or a slightly larger iPhone than a standard iPad. Apple's Watch now has a slightly larger, slightly tougher screen. The iPads got the same new chip that the iPhones got. And the iPhone update added more base storage to the least expensive model (128 GB rather than 64 GB) in addition the annual chip and camera upgrades.

It was, as tech YouTuber Marques "MKBHD" Brownlee put it in a reaction video, "a pretty small update overall."

But that didn't stop Apple from bringing the drama, of course.

The event started with sweeping shots of a woman playing violin on a sand dune, alone in a desert. The same effects were used to introduce each new product update: drone-powered cameras sweeping across skylines, eventually reaching, say, an empty theater or a cliff's edge with a waiting Apple employee.

"They had tons of drone shots this year, and of course these amazing transitions, cinematography and lighting all through the roof. It looked incredible," Brownlee said. "But then it's all to announce a couple small updates to a few things, so it felt like it didn't quite match."

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Some nurses are getting paid more than doctors during a nationwide nurse shortage and another COVID surge

An ICU nurse wears multiple masks while working during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
An ICU nurse wears multiple masks while working during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
  • Nurses are in high demand across the United States as COVID hospitalizations surge.
  • In some places, nurses are making more than doctors due to lucrative travel nursing contracts.
  • "We're seeing rates in excess of $200/hour, $225/hour," Northwell Health chief nurse exec Maureen White told Insider.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

For Tiffany, a nurse currently working in the Pacific Northwest who originally came from Western Pennsylvania, the prospect of travel nursing was a no-brainer.

"I was like, 'Cool! I can make money, pay my bills and see the country.'" she told Insider in a recent phone interview.

A key part of what enticed her away from a staff job at a Pittsburgh hospital back in 2013 was the promise of double or more her salary if she were to take on a traveling nurse contract.

"I started at the ER, loved the ER, did it for a couple of years, and then started getting emails from companies that were saying like, 'Hey, we'll pay you twice as much as you're making,'" she said. Even better, Tiffany said, was that those jobs were always far from Pennsylvania, in places like California and Oregon.

Hospitals across the country are enticing nurses with high-paying contracts as the industry faces staff shortages. Many nurses are experiencing burnout from the pandemic, but hospital systems were strained before COVID hit, and nurses say the past year and a half has only made things worse.

Read more: Apple is scaling back a key health project that grew out of its care clinics, and some workers could lose their jobs

At her last contract job, Tiffany said she made $3,500 a week. That was before the pandemic, and things have only gotten more lucrative in the past year and change. "You could make $5,000, $7,000 per week easily," she said.

"We're seeing rates in excess of $200 an hour, $225 an hour," Northwell Health chief nurse executive Maureen White, RN, told Insider. "Some places I hear as high as $250."

At those rates - approximately $10,000 a week - some nurses are making more than the doctors in the same hospital ER they're working in. Even in New York, America's highest-paying region for emergency physicians, the average weekly pay for ER doctors is about $6,400, according to ZipRecruiter data.

Unlike hospital staff nurses, travel nurses work on temporary quarterly contracts of 13- or 14-week periods.

One quarter they might be outside of Seattle, another quarter they might be in Baltimore or Chattanooga, all depending on where the demand is at the moment.

With COVID hospitalization surging once again, hospitals are paying such huge contracts for travel nurses who can quickly relocate. This is especially true for nurses who work in hospital intensive care units (ICUs).

A job description for a travel nurse contract at Northwell Health.
A job description for a nurse contract at Northwell Health Long Island Jewish Medical Center, in Queens, NY. It pays $6,200 per week.

"It comes down to simple economics of supply and demand," White said. "It's unprecedented that we see, across the country and probably across the world, such a high demand for ICU nurses."

There are other, more banal factors as well.

"During the summertime months, all hospitals - Northwell included - we try to give as many of our employees [as possible] time off," White said.

There's also the backup of people dealing with more minor health issues that arose during the pandemic.

Read more: Ted Cruz has been doling out jobs - and taxpayer cash - to his cousins

"Even here in the Northeast, where we're not seeing right now that tremendous bump up in COVID patients," White said. "It's just people seeking healthcare more now and going in and saying, 'Oh, I probably should take care of this now.'"

Though the payout is massive, being a travel nurse adds another layer of complication to an already stressful and complicated job. And for some of the highest paying gigs, there are potentially much bigger institutional and/or regional issues that don't come through on the job application.

"There's a reason why people don't want to work there," Tiffany said. "Maybe the management sucks. Maybe you don't have the supplies you need. Maybe the patient populations really nasty or really sick. You're getting paid for your troubles."

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email ([email protected]), 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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Holiday shipping is going to be chaotic and expensive this year

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."
  • USPS plans to temporarily charge more to ship packages during the busiest time of year: The holidays.
  • From October 3 to December 26, USPS is raising prices to cover "extra costs" over the holidays.
  • It's indicative of a larger trend, as e-commerce sales boom and the shipping industry still faces pandemic-driven delays.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

This holiday season, for the first time ever, the US Postal Service is temporarily increasing shipping rates for all customers.

On everything from the base level flat rate boxes and envelopes to much larger items, USPS is increasing costs between October 3 and December 26.

The reason, USPS said, is to offset increased costs during the busiest shipping season of the year.

"This temporary rate adjustment is similar to one in 2020 that anticipated heightened peak-season package and shipping demand, which typically results in extra handling costs," the press release from USPS said. "These temporary rates will keep the Postal Service competitive while providing the agency with the revenue to cover extra costs in anticipation of peak-season volume surges similar to levels experienced in 2020."

The price increases range from $0.75 more for flat rate boxes and envelopes to $5.00 more for packages as large as 70 pounds.

Read more: Dozens of people who supported radical right-wing efforts to overturn the 2020 election currently sit on government boards running places like the Holocaust Memorial and the Kennedy Center

Last year, in 2020, USPS increased shipping rates for its commercial customers; in 2021, those shipping increases impact both commercial customers (companies) and so-called "retail" customers (read: people, not companies).

The move is indicative of a larger trend in shipping spurred by ever-increasing use of online storefronts and compounded by the impacts of the global pandemic.

Both FedEx and UPS have temporarily increased shipping costs in previous holiday seasons, and they are likely to do so again in 2021's holiday season - a symptom of the confluence of issues facing global shipping right now.

Moreover, global shipping is currently facing a logistics crisis that's impacting shipments of everything from lumber to steel. The cost to transport items continues to rise, thanks to a lack of ships, and labor, and even the massive shipping containers that are used to house items on international freight ships.

As the holiday season approaches, and demand for shipping services spikes, the situation is only expected to get worse - and USPS appears to be getting ahead of issues it faced during holiday 2020, where packages were delayed beyond critical holiday gift giving days.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email ([email protected]), 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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The $62 billion company behind ‘Call of Duty’ is embroiled in a major sexual harassment lawsuit. Here’s what’s going on.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick.
  • The game company behind "Call of Duty" and "Diablo" is being sued by the state of California.
  • A two-year investigation into the company found a pervasive "frat boy" culture.
  • Female employees faced "constant sexual harassment," the suit claims.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The blockbuster video game company behind some of the world's biggest video game franchises is being sued by the state of California.

The suit - filed on July 20 to the Los Angeles Supreme Court - comes after two years of investigation conducted by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing. It accuses "Call of Duty" maker Activision of fostering a "pervasive frat boy" culture where women are paid less for the same jobs that men perform, regularly face sexual harassment, and are targeted for reporting issues.

In particular, the suit claims that female employees face "constant sexual harassment," from "having to continually fend off unwanted sexual comments" to "being groped." When employees report issues to human resources and management, the suit says, no action is taken.

"The company's executives and human resources personnel knew of the harassment and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the unlawful conduct," a press release from DFEH says, "and instead retaliated against women who complained."

What the lawsuit is about

The suit focuses on two primary violations - sexual harassment and discriminatory practices - and offers several examples of each.

"A newly promoted male supervisor delegated his responsibilities to his female subordinates in favor playing 'Call of Duty,'" the suit claims. One female employee who had taken on management responsibilities on the games team was told she couldn't be promoted by her male supervisor because, "she might get pregnant and like being a mom too much."

In the case of sexual harassment, female employees reported being hit on, having comments made about their breasts, and jokes about rape being made at work. In one example cited in the lawsuit, "a female employee committed suicide while on a company trip due to a sexual relationship she had been having with her male supervisor."

In the wake of California's DFEH making the litigation public, several Activision executives have stepped down - including the head of beloved "Diablo" studio Blizzard Entertainment, J. Allen Brack, and the company's head of human resources.

J Allen Brack Blizzard
Blizzard Entertainment head J. Allen Brack stepped down from the company on August 3. He is named in the lawsuit as a defendant alongside Activision, Blizzard, and Activision Publishing.

An additional lawsuit, on behalf of investors, was filed in early August by Rosen Law Firm. It seeks unspecified damages on behalf of Activision investors, who it says were misled by Activision executives as a result of not disclosing details about workplace culture detailed in the DFEH lawsuit.

Activision's initially defiant response

Meanwhile, Activision's official statement on the lawsuit took a defiant tone.

"The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard's past," the statement said. "We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived."

Moreover, Activision's statement called the investigation, "irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats," and claimed that these types of investigations are, "driving many of the State's best businesses out of California."

A similarly defiant email was circulated internally by chief compliance officer Fran Townsend, a former Homeland Security advisor to President George W. Bush.

"A recently filed lawsuit presented a distorted and untrue picture of our company, including factually incorrect, old, and out of context stories," Townsend said in an email to employees. "We cannot let egregious actions of others, and a truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit, damage our culture of respect and equal opportunity for all employees."

Activision employees protest

In response, more than 2,000 of Activision's approximately 9,500 employees signed a letter to the company's management criticising its response to the lawsuit.

"To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership," the letter, which was published on July 26, said. "Categorizing the claims that have been made as 'distorted, and in many cases false' creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims."

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick responded a day later, on July 27, with an apology to employees.

"Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf," he wrote. "It is imperative that we acknowledge all perspectives and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been mistreated in any way. I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding."

Kotick also promised to clean house by terminating, "anyone found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences."

The following day, on July 28, Activision employees staged a walkout and demanded changes at the company.

"We stand by the victims and are appalled by what we read," a walkout representative told The Verge. "This only makes us more committed to our task."

Activision stock value has taken a major hit since the lawsuit went public, to the tune of nearly $8 billion, and it has yet to bounce back.

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