Archive for Isabella Jibilian

Jeffrey Epstein’s New York home is about to sell for $50 million, more than $40 million under asking price

epstein new york townhouse interior

Jeffrey Epstein's New York City townhouse is under contract to sell for $50 million, The Wall Street Journal reported. The deal would be one of the most expensive in New York over the last year.

Jeffrey Epstein's lavish New York townhouse and Palm Beach residence hit the market for a combined $110 million in July. The New York home was originally listed for $88 million, while the Palm Beach house sold in December for $18 million, $4 million under the asking price. The Palm Beach estate is set to be demolished.

The proceeds from the sales will go to Epstein's estate, which has established a victim's fund for the women accusing Epstein of sexually abusing them when they were minors.

jeffrey epstein new york townhouse 2

Epstein was accused of luring young girls and then sexually abusing them at both properties.  Last July, investigators said they found "hundreds" of nude photos of girls, some of whom appeared to be underage, at his New York townhouse. And in 2018, the Miami Herald reported that dozens of girls were routinely abused in his Palm Beach mansion. 

In June, a compensation fund, bankrolled by Epstein's multi-million dollar estate, opened for victims of Epstein's abuse. Victims can apply for these funds outside of court and there is no cap on claims. 

Epstein's Upper East Side property is one of the largest private homes in the city, with 7 stories and 28,000 feet, according to Modlin Group, which is brokering the deal.  It's more than twice the width of a standard row home.

jeffrey epstein new york townhouse 3
 "It's definitely a trophy property," said Kyle Egan, a New York-based real-estate agent not involved in the sale. "Does it have a recent, very negative past? Totally. But I don't think that will give buyers pause. A property like this comes up so infrequently."

Epstein's estate has been valued at more than $600 million, and also features a private island in the US Virgin Islands, and properties in New Mexico and Paris.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Facebook banned Holocaust denial from its platform in October. Anti-hate groups now want the social media giant to block posts denying the Armenian genocide.

facebook mark zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaving The Merrion Hotel in Dublin after a meeting with politicians to discuss regulation of social media and harmful content in April 2019.
  • In October, Facebook announced changes to its hate speech policy and insituted a ban on posts denying the Holocaust. 
  • However, the ban did not include the denial of other genocides, such as the Rwandan or Armenian genocides.
  • Now, advocates are calling for Facebook to ban posts denying the Armenian genocide, too.
  • From 1915 to 1923, the Ottoman Empire killed 1.5 million Armenians and expelled another half a million. Turkey still falsely claims that the genocide never happened.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Anti-hate advocates are calling on Facebook to ban posts denying the Armenian genocide, which led to the deaths of over 1.5 million ethnic Armenians, saying the social media giant's policy on hate speech fails to address crimes against humanity.

The call to action follows Facebook's October announcement that it would ban posts denying the Holocaust, which came after pressure from human rights groups, Holocaust survivors, and a 500-plus company ad boycott. However, the change did not include the denial of other genocides, such as the Rwandan and Armenian genocides, Bloomberg reported.

"They have an obligation to responsibly address all genocide," said Arda Haratunian, board member for the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the largest non-profit dedicated to the international Armenian community.  "How could you not apply the same rules across crimes against humanity?"

Now, voices from across the Armenian diaspora and anti-hate groups are calling for the company to change its policy. In November, the Armenian Bar Association penned a letter to Facebook and Twitter (which banned posts denying the Holocaust in the days after Facebook did), proposing that they expand their ban to posts denying the Armenian genocide, too. 

"It made us hopeful, because it was a sign that Facebook is taking steps towards fixing its speech problem," said Lana Akopyan, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property and technology, and member of the Armenian Bar Association's social media task force. The Armenian Bar Association has yet to receive a response from either company, Akopyan told Business Insider.

The calls to expand hate speech policies come as social media platforms face a wider reckoning on how they regulate speech. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have criticized section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a legal provision that shields internet companies from lawsuits over content posted on their sites by users and gives companies the ability to regulate that content. 

In recent years, Facebook has struggled with human rights issues on the platform. In 2018, a New York Times investigation found that Myanmar's military officials systematically spread propaganda on Facebook to incite the ethnic cleansing of the country's Muslim Rohingya minority population.  Since 2017, Myanmar's military has been accused of carrying out a systemic campaign of killing, rape, and arson against Rohingyas, leading over 740,000 to flee for Bangladesh, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council. 

Facebook's current hate speech policy prohibits posts that directly attack a protected group, including someone of a racial minority, certain sexual orientation or gender, or religion. But the platform lacks a cohesive response to other "harmful false beliefs," like certain conspiracy theories, said Laura Edelson, a PhD candidate at NYU who researches online political communication. Rather than a systematic approach to harmful misinformation, Edelson likened Facebook's strategy to a game of "whack-a-mole." 

"You are allowed to say, currently, the Armenian genocide is a hoax and never happened," said Edelson. "But you are not allowed to say you should die because you are an Armenian."

From 1915 to 1923, the Ottoman Empire killed 1.5 Armenians and expelled another half a million. However, Turkey still falsely claims that the genocide never happened. 

"Holocaust denial is typically done by fringe groups, irrational entities. The denial of the Armenian genocide is being generated by governments... which makes it a far greater threat," said Dr. Rouben Adalian, Director of the Armenian National Institute in Washington, D.C. 

It also makes enforcement a thorny issue for Facebook, since it may involve moderating the speech of political leaders.

"Facebook doesn't want to wrangle with this issue, not because it's technically difficult, because it isn't, but because it is difficult at a policy level," said Edelson. "There's a government agent here, that you are going to have to make unhappy. In the case of the Armenian genocide, it's the Turkish government."

Facebook did not respond to Business Insider's requests for comment. Twitter said hateful conduct has no place on its platform and its "Hateful Conduct Policy prohibits a wide range of behavior, including making references to violent events or types of violence where protected categories were the primary victims, or attempts to deny or diminish such events." The company also has "a robust glorification of violence policy in place and take action against content that glorifies or praises historical acts of violence and genocide,"a spokesperson said. 

Yet online the falsehoods proliferate, advocates told Business Insider. On Facebook, the page "Armenian Genocide Lie" has thousands of followers, and screenshots of tweets shared with Business Insider show strings of identical posts that appear to be posted by bots, calling the Armenian genocide "fake." 

And stateside, Armenians point to a string of hate crimes, including the arson of an Armenian church in September and the vandalism of an Armenian school in July, as evidence that anti-Armenian sentiment is a growing issue.

The calls for change come amid international conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region of  Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan and is populated by many ethnic Armenians. War broke out in September. In November, Armenia surrendered and Russia brokered a peace deal. Tensions continue to flare in the area and videos of alleged war crimes have surfaced online.

"Facebook has a responsibility, first and foremost, to its users, to protect them against harmful misinformation. The idea that the Armenian genocide did not happen pretty clearly falls into that category," said Edelson. 

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which successfully lobbied for social media companies to ban Holocaust denial, is also supporting the calls for change. 

"ADL believes that tech companies must take a firm stance against content regarding genocide and the denial or diminishment of other atrocities motivated by hate," said an ADL spokesperson in a statement to Business Insider.  "Tech companies should, without doubt, consider denial of the Armenian genocide to be violative hate speech."

Dr. Gregory Stanton, founding president of human rights nonprofit Genocide Watch, says that denial is a pernicious stage of genocide, since it seeks to erase the past and can predict future violence. 

"Denial occurs in every single genocide," said Stanton. "I think it's irresponsible.... with Facebook's incredible reach, it absolutely should be taken down." 

As for Akopyan, her fight to change Facebook's policy is personal. Her family survived the Baku Pogroms in Azerbaijan, a campaign in 1990 in which Azeris killed ethnic Armenians and drove them from the city. Akopyan's family left all their belongings behind and fled in the night, Akopyan said. The International Rescue Committee sponsored her family, and she relocated to Brooklyn, New York, at 10-years-old. 

"I grew up in that tension as a child, where Azerbaijani mobs tried to kill me and my family, and I escaped," she said in an interview. "How many times [do] our people have to lose everything and be driven away from their homes to start over?" 

"And it continues to happen," she added.  "I can't help but think it's because there's constant denial of it ever happening to begin with." 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The accused Nashville suicide bomber was reportedly paranoid about 5G technology. Here’s what we know about the false 5G conspiracy that went viral this year.

nashville explosion
: FBI and first responders work the scene after an explosion on December 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • On Christmas morning, a suicide bombing shook Nashville. The explosion injured three and damaged 41 buildings, Business Insider previously reported. 
  • The FBI said Anthony Quinn Warner, who was in the van that exploded, was responsible for the bombing. Besides Warner, there were no casualties.
  • While the investigation is ongoing, the local NBC affiliate reported that investigators were looking at Warner's obsession with 5G conspiracy theories, which may have caused him to target the AT&T building in Nashville. 
  • Here's what we know about the false 5G conspiracy theories. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Anthony Quinn Warner, who the FBI says was responsible for the suicide bombing that hit Nashville on Christmas Day, may have been motivated by 5G conspiracy theories to carry out the attack, as local NBC affiliate, WSMV, reported

Although the federal investigation is ongoing, a source told the Daily Mail that investigators theorize Warner believed that 5G was responsible for his father's death, and had purposefully targeted an AT&T building in Nashville as a means of striking against telecommunications giants. 

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the false theory that 5G, the next generation of cellular infrastructure, is responsible for ills from cancer to COVID-19 itself, has become increasingly popular. Here's a simple explanation of the false theory, and how it has risen to influence.

Read more: Google's misinformation chief talks fact-checking the pandemic: 'I've never seen anything like this'

What does the theory claim?

There's a whole constellation of theories about 5G, but most boil down to the idea that 5G produces radiation that is harmful to human health. Some unsupported theories say that 5G damages trees, others say that it weakens the immune system and causes cancer, and still others say that Bill Gates is using 5G to brainwash Americans. 

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, new claims about 5G have emerged. Some social media posts falsely claimed that COVID-19 is a cover-up for illnesses caused by 5G, others purported that 5G had accelerated the spread of COVID-19.

How did it start?

Suspicions about telecommunications and health concerns have a long history. People protested when 3G was rolled out in the 90s, and before that, they protested cell phones themselves, Full Fact, a UK-based anti-misinformation nonprofit, reported.

Much of the misinformation about 5G can be traced to the work of Dr. Bill Curry, who shared a chart claiming that radio waves become more dangerous to brain matter at higher frequencies back in 2000, the New York Times reported. But, his claims of risk were overblown, scientists said, since it didn't account for the fact that the skin protects the brain from high-frequency radio waves. 

How did the latest 5G theory spread? 

The misinformation about high-frequency waves was distributed by the state-run television network Russian Today, according to a 2019 New York Times report. RT - which was also linked to the Russian campaign to influence the 2016 election - broadcasted, without evidence, that 5G can cause health issues like autism and cancer. Once the coronavirus pandemic hit, conspiracy theorists linked the two, even leading to some people in the UK setting telephone poles on fire

The misinformation circulated on social media, too. Facebook posts listing "5G illness" symptoms and 5G conspiracy groups proliferated online. Public figures like newscasters and celebrities have also spread the unsupported theory, as the New Statesman reported

Read more: COVID-19 has triggered a new wave of conspiracy theories among those who fear a 'cashless society'

Does 5G pose a health risk?

Experts say no. 5G radiowaves are "non-ionizing radiation," which means that they don't have the power to damage the DNA inside of cells. And despite claims that 5G is a higher frequency radio waves, and therefore is more dangerous than 3G and 4G networks, the opposite is true, scientists say. 

"It's a little ironic that there's all this worry about 5G," Chris Collins, a professor at the New York University School of Medicine's radiology department, told CNN Business. "It really doesn't get past the skin."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Zoom is considering expanding to email, messaging, calendar to compete with productivity platforms giants like Google and Microsoft, according to new report

Eric Yuan
  • Zoom's video-conferencing service experienced explosive growth in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools, offices, and social events to go virtual.
  • Now, the company is considering expanding its offerings into email, calendars, and messaging services, The Information reported Wednesday.
  • Pursuing services beyond video could help Zoom court corporate customers.
  • But the company faces stiff competition from established platforms like Microsoft and Google in workplaces. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Zoom is planning its next act. The video communications company is considering expanding to email, messaging, and calendar services, in a bid to to rival productivity giants like Microsoft and Google, The Information reported Wednesday.

Zoom already integrates with third-party productivity platforms, like Dropbox and Asana, but now has begun work on a "next generation" email platform the Information reported, citing anonymous sources. However, the report notes that the project is in its early stages. 

Zoom did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The COVID-19 pandemic made Zoom a household name, becoming the video-conferencing service of choice for schools, businesses, and social events. In the second quarter of the 2021 financial year, the company's revenue totaled $663.5 million, more than it made in all of 2019, Business Insider previously reported.

Read more: Zoom CEO Eric Yuan says that one key piece of advice helped him survive a chaotic, high-growth year: 'Enjoy everything'

But now, as the first vaccines roll out and experts say there's an end to the pandemic in sight, the company is eyeing a way to stay on top, even after employees return to offices. 

With such massive adoption in 2020, Zoom's video conferencing gains are likely to be pretty incremental going forward, so additional products will be key to helping the company develop, analysts previously told Business Insider. Besides video calls, the company also offers a cloud phone service called "Zoom Phone," and conference room products called "Zoom Rooms." 

According to The Information, senior executives at Zoom say that offering more in-house productivity tools, like email, calendars, and messaging services, could help the company court corporate customers.

Read more: How Zoom beat out Microsoft, Google, and Cisco to win customer love and tons of hype amid the coronavirus crisis, according to experts

If the project comes to fruition, Zoom will face stiff competition from giants like Microsoft and Google, which currently dominate workplaces. Amazon Web Services has in the past struggled to penetrate the market, The Information reported. 

Read The Information's full report here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Zoom is considering expanding to email, messaging, calendar to compete with productivity platforms giants like Google and Microsoft, according to new report

Eric Yuan
  • Zoom's video-conferencing service experienced explosive growth in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools, offices, and social events to go virtual.
  • Now, the company is considering expanding its offerings into email, calendars, and messaging services, The Information reported Wednesday.
  • Pursuing services beyond video could help Zoom court corporate customers.
  • But the company faces stiff competition from established platforms like Microsoft and Google in workplaces. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Zoom is planning its next act. The video communications company is considering expanding to email, messaging, and calendar services, in a bid to to rival productivity giants like Microsoft and Google, The Information reported Wednesday.

Zoom already integrates with third-party productivity platforms, like Dropbox and Asana, but now has begun work on a "next generation" email platform the Information reported, citing anonymous sources. However, the report notes that the project is in its early stages. 

Zoom did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The COVID-19 pandemic made Zoom a household name, becoming the video-conferencing service of choice for schools, businesses, and social events. In the second quarter of the 2021 financial year, the company's revenue totaled $663.5 million, more than it made in all of 2019, Business Insider previously reported.

Read more: Zoom CEO Eric Yuan says that one key piece of advice helped him survive a chaotic, high-growth year: 'Enjoy everything'

But now, as the first vaccines roll out and experts say there's an end to the pandemic in sight, the company is eyeing a way to stay on top, even after employees return to offices. 

With such massive adoption in 2020, Zoom's video conferencing gains are likely to be pretty incremental going forward, so additional products will be key to helping the company develop, analysts previously told Business Insider. Besides video calls, the company also offers a cloud phone service called "Zoom Phone," and conference room products called "Zoom Rooms." 

According to The Information, senior executives at Zoom say that offering more in-house productivity tools, like email, calendars, and messaging services, could help the company court corporate customers.

Read more: How Zoom beat out Microsoft, Google, and Cisco to win customer love and tons of hype amid the coronavirus crisis, according to experts

If the project comes to fruition, Zoom will face stiff competition from giants like Microsoft and Google, which currently dominate workplaces. Amazon Web Services has in the past struggled to penetrate the market, The Information reported. 

Read The Information's full report here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Here’s a simple explanation of how the massive SolarWinds hack happened and why it’s such a big deal

SolarWinds
SolarWinds Corp. banner hangs at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the IPO day of the company in New York.
  • SolarWinds is a major IT firm that provides software for entities ranging from Fortune 500 companies to the US government. 
  • Reuters first reported that SolarWinds was the subject of a massive cybersecurity attack that spread to the company's clients. 
  • The breach went undetected for months, and could have exposed data in the highest reaches of  government, including the US military and the White House.
  • Here's a simple explanation of what happened and why it's important. 

SolarWinds, a major US information technology firm, was the subject of a cyberattack that spread to its clients and went undetected for months, Reuters first reported last week. Foreign hackers, who some top US officials believe are from Russia, were able to use the hack to spy on private companies like the elite cybersecurity firm FireEye and the upper echelons of the US Government, including the Department of Homeland Security and Treasury Department. 

Here's a simple explanation of how the massive breach happened, and why it matters. 

An unusual hack

Earlier this year, hackers secretly broke into Texas-based SolarWind's systems and added malicious code into the company's software system. The system, called "Orion," is widely used by companies to manage IT resources. Solarwinds has 33,000 customers that use Orion, according to SEC documents

Most software providers regularly send out updates to their systems, whether it's fixing a bug or adding new features. SolarWinds is no exception. Beginning as early as March, SolarWinds unwittingly sent out software updates to its customers that included the hacked code. 

The code created a backdoor to customer's information technology systems, which hackers then used to install even more malware that helped them spy on companies and organizations. 

Read more: How hackers breached IT company SolarWinds and staged an unprecedented attack that left US government agencies vulnerable for 9 months

The victims

SolarWinds told the SEC that up to 18,000 of its customers installed updates that left them vulnerable to hackers. Since SolarWinds has many high profile clients, including Fortune 500 companies and multiple agencies in the US government, the breach could be massive.

US agencies, including parts of the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Treasury were attacked. So were private companies, like Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, and Deloitte, and other organizations like the California Department of State Hospitals, and Kent State University, the Wall Street Journal reported

And since the hack was done so stealthily, and went undetected for months, security experts say that some victims may never know if they were hacked or not, the Wall Street Journal reported

At the Treasury Department, hackers broke into dozens of email accounts and networks in the Departmental Offices of the Treasury, "home to the department's highest-ranking officials,"  Senator Ron Wyden said. The IRS hasn't found any evidence of being compromised, he added. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on CNBC that the hackers have only accessed unclassified information, but the department is still investigating the extent of the breach.  

Read more: Former US cybersecurity chief Chris Krebs says officials are still tracking 'scope' of the SolarWinds hack

Who did it?

Federal investigators and cybersecurity experts say that Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, known as the SVR, is probably responsible for the attack. Russian intelligence was also credited with breaking into the email servers in the White House, the State Department, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2014 and 2015. Later, the same group attacked the Democratic National Committee and members of the Hilary Clinton presidential campaign.

Russia has denied any involvement with the breach and President Trump has suggested, without evidence, that Chinese hackers may be the culprits.

Why it matters

Now that multiple networks have been penetrated, it's expensive and very difficult to secure systems. Tom Bossert, President Trump's former homeland security officer, said that it could be years before the networks are secure again. With access to government networks, hackers could, "destroy or alter data, and impersonate legitimate people," Bossert wrote in an Op-Ed for the New York Times

Not only is the breach one of the largest in recent memory, but it also comes as a wake-up call for federal cybersecurity efforts. The US Cyber Command, which receives billions of dollars in funding and is tasked with protecting American networks, was "blindsided" by the attack, the New York Times reported.   Instead, a private cybersecurity firm called FireEye was the first to notice the breach when it noticed that its own systems were hacked. 

Finally, the hack could accelerate broad changes in the cybersecurity industry. Companies are turning to a new method of assuming that there are already breaches, rather than merely reacting to attacks after they are found, Business Insider previously reported. And the US government may reorganize its cybersecurity efforts by making the Cyber Command independent from National Security Agency, the Associated Press reported

Read more: Op-Ed: The fallout from the SolarWinds hack that infiltrated the US Treasury and Homeland Security will get worse before it gets better

Read the original article on Business Insider

Congress approves $7 billion for aid on internet bills and efforts to close the digital divide, as part of the larger COVID-19 stimulus package

student loan forbearance
The spending allocates $3 billion for monthly rebates on internet bills.
  • Congress on Monday approved $7 billion in aid to help lower-income Americans get internet access.
  • The bill would allocate rebates of up to $75 a month to help certain low-income Americans pay their internet bills. 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified concerns about the digital divide between Americans with and without high-speed internet access.
  • Americans are increasingly reliant on the internet, but more than half of low-income Americans worry about their ability to pay broadband bills, a Pew Research Center poll found. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Congress approved $7 billion in aid on Monday to help lower-income Americans get access to the internet. The spending, which is part of the larger $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus package, would help low-income Americans pay their monthly internet bills and would invest in extending internet access to remote areas of the country, according to the Washington Post

The plan allocates about $3 billion for monthly rebates on internet bills, providing up to $50 per month for low-income families. Households on Indian reservations can qualify for up to $75 a month. The bill will also focus on longer term efforts to support internet access, such as allocating funding to determine which regions lack access to high speed internet and improving infrastructure, the Post reported.  

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would be in charge of carrying out the program, the Washington Post reported

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified concerns about the digital divide between Americans with broadband access and those without.  Americans are increasingly reliant on the Internet for access to basic needs, as doctors appointments become tele-visits, work goes remote, and students of all ages attend classes via video platforms. But the economic downturn associated with COVID-19 has made paying internet bills harder than ever. 

Some 28% of broadband users said that they are worried about being able to pay their internet bills, and 30% of smartphone users said they were concerned about being able to pay their cell phone bills, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted in April. And the problem is even more intense for lower income Americans: more than half said they were worried about being able to pay cellular and broadband bills.

Read more: Unequal access to high-speed internet could be the biggest obstacle to getting the American economy back on track

The aid is comes as part of the larger $900 billion stimulus package passed by Congress on Monday. The package includes $600 direct payments, a $300 boost in unemployment benefits, and a $15 billion bailout for airlines, among other spending.

The legislation has been the subject of months of negotiations and now awaits a sign-off from President Trump. However, the president called the bill a "disgrace" on Wednesday, deeming $600 direct payments insufficient. 

Read the full report from the Washington Post here

Read the original article on Business Insider

Dog treats subscription service BarkBox to go public via a $1.6 billion SPAC merger

Henrik Werdelin BarkBox
BARK cofounder Henrick Werdelin and his dog Molly.
  • BarkBox, a subscription service for pet owners, is going public via a merger with a special acquisition corporation (SPAC), the company announced Thursday.
  • The deal is the latest in a string of SPAC-backed IPOs over the last year.
  • BarkBox will merge with the blank-check company Northern Star Acquisitions Corp. in a $1.6 billion deal, including debt, according to the announcement.
  • Once the deal closes, Northern Star Acquisitions Corp. will list under a new ticker, BARK, on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • Since the outbreak of the pandemic, quarantining Americans have turned to furry friends for comfort. Pet adoptions and related spending has soared. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

BarkBox, a subscription service for dog treats and toys, will go public via a merger with a blank check company, the company announced on Thursday. The deal is valued at $1.6 billion, including debts, according to the announcement. 

When the deal closes, Northern Star Acquisitions Corp. - the blank-check company merging with BarkBox - expects up to $454 million in gross cash proceeds.

BarkBox will list on the New York Stock exchange with the ticker "BARK." The company projects that it will make $365 million in revenue by the end of the fiscal year.

The move comes amid an uptick in pet adoption. Americans have turned to furry friends to keep them company in quarantine, and pet-supply companies like BarkBox and Petco, which filed to go public in November, are cashing in. Petco saw sales increase nearly 10% since last year, CNBC reported

Read more: These 10 companies are the fastest-growing DTC pet care brands by website traffic. They're going up against Nestle's Purina and Mars's Royal Canin a piece of the nearly $100 billion pet product market.

Over the past year, SPACs have become increasingly popular vehicle for investment. In 2020, SPACs have raised more than $40 billion in investment, nearly triple last year's numbers, Business Insider previously reported.

The deal is backed by North Star Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Senator Investment Group, the Federated Hermes Kaufmann Funds, and "other top-tier institutional investors" including affiliates of the Santo Domingo Group.

BarkBox was founded in 2012. Over the years the company has expanded from its original direct-to-consumer subscription box filled with dog treats and toys to a national pet goods brand, carried at major retailers like Target, Petco, PetSmart, and Costco. The service has 1 million monthly subscribers, according to the company. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Google says Gmail working again after ‘significant’ number of users experienced issues during the company’s second service disruption in 2 days

Gmail Google laptop
  • Google resolved an issue with Gmail after a "significant subset of users" experienced problems with the email service on Tuesday, the company said.
  • Although users were still able to access Gmail during the outage, Google said, users saw error messages, lags, and 'unexpected behavior.' 
  • On Tuesday evening, DownDetector received over 16,000 reports that users were having problems with Gmail. 
  • The service issue is Google's second in two days. Yesterday, an outage took out YouTube, Gmail, and Google Maps for about an hour. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Google said on Tuesday evening that had it fixed an issue with Gmail, hours after a large number of users experienced issues.

"The problem with Gmail has been resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support. Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better," the company said just before 4:00 p.m. PT.

Gmail users experienced lags, error messages, and "unexpected behavior" on the popular email service on Tuesday, according to Google. The platform didn't specify how many users were affected, but service monitoring website DownDetector received over 16,000 reports of issues with Gmail Tuesday evening.

"We're aware of a problem with Gmail affecting a significant subset of users. The affected users are able to access Gmail, but are seeing error messages, high latency, and/or other unexpected behavior," read an alert on Google's service dashboard earlier on Tuesday.

The service issues come just a day after Google experienced a large outage that took out Google Maps, YouTube, and Gmail. Monday's service issues began at about 6:30 a.m. ET and were resolved around 8 a.m. ET, Business Insider previously reported.

On Tuesday, Google first reported that Gmail was having issues at 4:29 p.m. At 5:18 p.m. Google wrote, "Our team is continuing to investigate this issue. We will provide an update by 12/15/20, 6:00 PM with more information about this problem. Thank you for your patience."

For the latest about the service disruptions, check Google's Workspace Status Dashboard.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Teachers are working longer, facing even more financial strain, and considering leaving their jobs as the pandemic pushes educators to the brink

teacher protest coronavirus
First grade teacher Yolanda Vasquez stands in protest along with other teachers and counselors in front of the Hillsborough County Schools District Office on July 16, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.
  • Teachers have long faced financial hardships associated with the profession: they are paid 20% less than careers with similar degree requirements, the Economic Policy Institute found, and often have difficulty repaying student loans, according to Horace Mann.
  • But since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, life has gotten even harder for educators. 
  • 77% of teachers are working more this year than last year, according to a survey of over a thousand educators.
  • But "money has been even tighter than usual," the survey found. 
  • The result: more than a quarter of teachers surveyed said they were considering quitting or taking a leave of absence, which could compound an existing shortage of teachers. 
  • Are you an educator with a story to share? Business Insider wants to hear from you. Contact the author of this article at [email protected] from a non-work email, or via secure messaging app Signal at 917-727-6830.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made life even harder for teachers, a new study from research firm Horace Mann found. The report surveyed over a thousand educators across the country, and found that most are working longer hours and facing increased financial strain, leaving over a quarter of them to consider leaving their jobs. 

"Many teachers are working 12-14 hours a day trying to teach some sections of students who are in-person and some sections who are online," said one teacher in their survey response. "There is not much good research on how to do this in the best way, so we are feeling our way along in the dark."

They aren't the only one.  77% of teachers said that they are working more than they did a year ago and 60% are enjoying their profession less than before, the survey found.

Read more: No more student debt: 64 apps and startups aiming to replace the university experience

But a larger workload has not necessarily translated into greater compensation. The study concluded that "money is tighter than usual," for many teachers. More than two-thirds of respondents said they had reduced the contributions to their general savings accounts, and nearly half of respondents said they wouldn't have the money to pay for an unexpected $1,000 expense. 

The survey also found that those who teach in-person classes face health concerns. 59% of teachers said that they did not feel secure, or only felt somewhat secure, regarding their school's safety precautions. 

Amid these strains, some teachers are considering leaving their posts. Already, schools across the nation were facing a shortage of teachers. The Economic Policy institute predicted that the teacher shortage would exceed 110,000 in the school year of 2017 and 2018. But now, 27% teachers are considering quitting, retiring early, or taking a leave of absence, the survey found. 

The study surveyed 1,240 educators across the US in October and November. The survey collected opinions from K-12 public school teachers, administrators, and other school staff. 

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