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    WikiLeaks has strenuously denied a report in The Guardian this morning that its founder Julian Assange met with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange has claimed asylum.

    The Guardian reported that Manafort visited Assange in 2013, 2015, and “around March 2016,” citing “a well-placed source.” The report also cited an Ecuadorian intelligence document that listed “Paul Manaford” as one of Assange’s visitors. As some observers have noted, it wouldn’t be hard to confirm or debunk the report, given the preponderance of security cameras around London, especially near that particular embassy. Also, the embassy once hired an Italian cybersecurity company, Hacking Team, to conduct surveillance of the facility, per an earlier Guardian report.

    Manafort joined the Trump campaign in late March 2016, initially serving as the campaign’s convention manager. Years before working for the Trump campaign, Manafort worked as an adviser to Viktor Yanukovych, the former Russia-allied president of Ukraine.

    Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges after being convicted of financial crimes related to income from his work in Ukraine. Prosecutors working with special counsel Robert Mueller said Monday he’s violated his plea agreement by lying to Mueller’s office and the FBI, and both prosecutors and Manafort’s defense team have called for him to be sentenced quickly.

    WikiLeaks released emails allegedly stolen from Democratic Party officials by Russian hackers during the 2016 election cycle. Whether the group coordinated with anyone in the Trump campaign is believed to be one subject of Mueller’s probe.

    A court filing made earlier this year in an unrelated federal case alluded to charges against Assange in what observers assumed was a failure to clean up boilerplate legal language copied and pasted from a secret indictment, but federal prosecutors have refused to confirm or deny there are charges pending agains the WikiLeaks editor. A federal judge declined to immediately rule Tuesday on whether to unseal the matter involving Assange, the Washington Postreports.

    Update: In a statement shared with Fast Company, Paul Manafort also denied the report he met with Assange.

    This story is totally false and deliberately libelous. I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him. I have never been contacted by anyone connected to Wikileaks, either directly or indirectly. I have never reached out to Assange or Wikileaks on any matter. We are considering all legal options against the Guardian who proceeded with this story even after being notified by my representatives that it was false.


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    Starvation is being turned into a weapon of war and children are its main victims. Nonprofit organization Save the Children recently released a report showing that more than half a million infants in conflict zones could die of malnutrition by the end of the year if they do not receive the necessary nutrition, according to its analysis. That’s the equivalent of one every minute.

    It’s not that nutritious food is not available, per se, it’s that accessing the food is impossible due to the armed conflict surrounding them with warring parties blocking the delivery of food and medicine with devastating consequences, showing what former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon described as the “shocking depths of inhumanity.” Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, intentionally starving civilians is a war crime, yet in countries like Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, and South Sudan the practice continues.

    [Photo: courtesy of Action Against Hunger]
    Using U.N. data, Save the Children estimates that 4.5 million children under the age of 5 will need treatment for life-threatening hunger this year in the most dangerous conflict zones. That’s a 20 percent increase from 2016. At current rates, only 1 in 3 will receive treatment, and 590,000 could die as a result.

    In the face of such nightmarish conditions, Action Against Hunger is using design to make a point that deliberately using hunger to harm the most vulnerable is as bad as using bombs and bullets. A new public awareness campaign, #StopHungerCrime, is turning weapons of war into tools to fight hunger. Specifically, they are making cutlery. They collected bullets seized during armed conflicts, melted them, and then turned them into knives and forks. It’s a cool idea that makes a very pointed message–hunger should not be a weapon.


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    So far in 2018 only 2.2% of venture capital funding has gone to startups founded by women. There are multiple reasons for that (none of them good), but Apple is trying to address the problem by providing some valuable design and coding help.

    The company will offer a two-week technology lab at its campus in Cupertino in which participants will receive one-on-one app development guidance from Apple experts and engineers. That includes “mentorship, inspiration, and insights from top Apple leaders,” the company says.

    Participating startups can send up to three people to the sessions. At least one must be a woman developer, and one must be a female founder, cofounder, or CEO. A third person can be any gender, Apple says. The tech giant says it’ll keep doing the coding labs–once every three months starting with the first one in January. Each event will accept 20 startups.

    The relationship doesn’t end after the two weeks. The startups get ongoing follow-up from an Apple developer who knows the industry niche that the startup is involved in. The startup also gets a membership to the Apple Developer Program, which allows them to submit their apps to the App Store. And the startup’s founder, cofounder, or CEO, along with one female developer, get to attend Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

    The tech industry is still largely a male industry, and the numbers show it. Just 23% of all tech jobs at Apple were occupied by women in 2017; that’s only a slight improvement over the 20% reported in the company’s diversity breakdown in 2014. A quarter of skilled tech jobs at Google are filled by women, up from 21% in 2014.


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    The nonprofit impact investing fund Acumen just launched its first crowdfunding campaign. Dubbed #OneGreatIdea, the effort seeks to collectively raise at least $100,000 from Giving Tuesday donors who are interested in building companies that generate both social and financial returns. Tagline: “Fund the next great idea that will change the world.”

    Unlike traditional philanthropy, where donors may give money to nonprofit groups, Acumen provides capital to businesses that need time to develop but will hopefully grow, scale, and at least return the initial investment. Those returns can then be plowed into more concepts for making change. Many of the entrepreneurs it backs come from particularly hard-hit places. After all, those who have experienced some of the world’s most severe problems firsthand may have unique insight on how to solve them. To date, the organization has invested $115 million in businesses that have positively impacted more than 270 million people around the globe.

    [Image: Acumen]

    As the video below shows, Acumen works across industries. That includes ventures like Cacao de Colombia, a premium chocolate producer that partners with local farmers in formerly war-torn regions of that country, and D.Light, the maker of low-cost solar-powered lanterns and other lighting solutions in East Africa. EduBridge, a workforce development company in India, charges a small fee to participants but will refund it if enrollees can’t quickly land a job.

    The #OneGreatIdea campaign page shares more about Acumen and its growing success stories. “The companies and leaders featured are representative of the types of bold, disruptive ideas that Acumen supports through its work,” says Carolyn Bielfeldt, Acumen’s head of content and communications, in an email to Fast Company. “All donations for this campaign are directed toward Acumen, so we can continue to identify, fund and scale innovative solutions tackling poverty–including those in the campaign–and develop the kind of audacious leaders who can bring those enterprises to life.


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    On November 8, shortly before leaving the company, ex-Facebook exec Mark Luckie wrote an email to all his fellow employees. It began: “Facebook has a black people problem.”

    Luckie’s title was “Strategic Partner Manager for Global Influencers focused on Underrepresented Voices,” and his job focused on outreach to minority groups using Facebook. For more than a year, he talked to a lot of people and came away with a fairly gloomy assessment of their experiences, and a negative take on Facebook’s efforts to improve the situation.

    Facebook moderators, Luckie says, are quick to remove potentially offensive posts by minority users, but often leave similar content from white users up.

    “Non-black people are reporting what are meant to be positive efforts as hate speech, despite them often not violating Facebook’s terms of service,” Luckie wrote in the email, which he’s now published as a blog. “Their content is removed without notice. Accounts are suspended indefinitely.”

    Luckie says this treatment “upends” minority communities on Facebook, and makes members of those communities less likely to continue to engage on the social network.

    [Photo: Facebook]
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other digital rights groups recently sent a letter to Facebook asking it to be more transparent about why and how it removes content. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said during a call with journalists that the company was planning to set up an independent council to make decisions on content removal, and to provide an appeal process.

    Luckie said Facebook’s treatment of minorities on the social network is a reflection of the way the company treats people of color at work. He recounted a personal experience:

    “. . . at least two or three times a day, every day, a colleague at MPK [Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park] will look directly at me and tap or hold their wallet or shove their hands down their pocket to clutch it tightly until I pass.”

    Luckie says that when black employees turn to HR for help, they’re often told that the discrimination they report is a figment of their imagination.

    “Racial discrimination at the company is real,” Luckie wrote.

    In an emailed statement, Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison wrote:

    “Over the last few years, we’ve been working diligently to increase the range of perspectives among those who build our products and serve the people who use them throughout the world. The growth in representation of people from more diverse groups, working in many different functions across the company, is a key driver of our ability to succeed. We want to fully support all employees when there are issues reported and when there may be micro-behaviors that add up. We are going to keep doing all we can to be a truly inclusive company.”


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    Electric cars still only make up a fraction of a percent of passenger vehicles. But that’s quickly changing. Here’s more evidence of the coming transition: ChargePoint, the world’s largest network of electric vehicle chargers, just secured nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in new funding. The new round of investment comes from automakers, utilities, the oil and gas industry, and institutional investors.

    “When mainstream institutional investors start to believe, that’s when you know that it’s not speculative anymore,” says Pasquale Romano, president and CEO of ChargePoint. The Series H funding round, at $240 million, is as much as the company has spent to date in its 11-year history, and will help it significantly scale up its operations.

    [Image: Chargepoint]

    In September, the company announced that it planned to expand its network nearly 50-fold by 2025, building out 2.5 million charging points for the customers that buy the equipment, from Target stores to Google offices. The infrastructure can expand in time with increased adoption of electric cars. “We only sell, in the U.S., 15 to 17 million cars a year,” Romano says. “If 100% of them were electric tomorrow, it would take over 15 years to turn the fleet over…this can be built incrementally. It has to be built on the back of a business model that works in the private sector.”

    [Image: Chargepoint]

    For some vehicles, like city buses, it already makes economic sense to buy an electric version. ChargePoint works with those fleets. But for passenger-car chargers to scale up, Romano says governments should focus more effort on incentives to help consumers buy electric cars. “The more cars that show up, the bigger our business gets, because the infrastructure follows the cars.”

    Unlike others who argue that putting many more chargers in place is necessary as a first step to encourage more people to shift to electric cars, Romano argues that most charging can happen when cars are parked at home or at work (of course, this doesn’t account for those of us who live in apartments or park on the street, but options for charging at retail stores are growing). The exception, he says, is on highways, where there should be coverage on every major route so people can drive long distances; that network is coming.

    One of the company’s investors is Chevron Technology Ventures–one more sign of the fundamental shift from oil to electricity. Royal Dutch Shell acquired another electric charging company in 2017. ChargePoint’s institutional investors include Quantum Energy Partners, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation.

    “The scale and the constituency of this round proves, without a doubt, we are at the tipping point or beyond for electric vehicles,” says Romano. “The kinds of investors that are moving into this space…they’re not speculative investors. That’s a wonderful statement for where the whole world is going, because we know what this is ultimately going to lead to. Hopefully it happens fast enough to solve some of the climate issues that we have.”

    As the shift to electric vehicles cuts emissions, it will also save money. “One of the biggest consumer expenses is transportation. If you drop the cost of that, you helped the consumer tremendously. One of the biggest costs components for low-cost commodities–food, general things we buy every day–is transportation and energy costs in general. Its built-in cost to the consumer is pretty high. So as we move that more efficiently and we move it down the crossbar, we’re going to actually help society drop the cost of living. And we’re going to solve a big environmental problem.”


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    When it comes to describing their dream job, Americans are dreaming big. MidAmerica Nazarene University surveyed 2,000 people and found that 41% dream of being business owners–but only if that meant working less than 60 hours per. They dream of having 52 days off per year, a one-hour lunch, 38-hour workweeks, and the ability to work remotely 11 days a month.

    Surprisingly, few dream of climbing the corporate ladder as just 12% of the survey participants wanted C-suite titles and 23% said they want a mid-level management role.

    When it comes to dream salary, the average for men was $444,958, while women wanted $278,637–a difference of $166,321. For men, the most important elements of their dream job were a good income, flexibility, and creative freedom. Women had the exact same goals, but they ranked their priorities differently, wanting flexibility first, creative freedom second, and a good income third.

    A quarter of participants said they’re currently in their dream job. These people were more likely to have a high salary, a doctoral degree, live in the Southwest, and be part of the baby boomer generation. And while they may not be in their dream job, several participants said they’re already in their dream industry, which was most likely to be accounting, media, construction, education, engineering, entertainment, government, healthcare, HR, IT, legal, nonprofit and social work, science, and skilled labor and trade.

    Dream versus Reality

    The characteristics of a dream job in the study all speak to the desire for freedom and self-determination, says Tracey Messer, assistant professor of organizational behavior for Case Western Reserve University. “And when we think about who may have the most choice about work, we think about entrepreneurs,” she says.

    But working less than 60 hours a week is a fantasy, Messer adds. “There are a number of studies that show that small business owners work significantly more than other employees,” she says. “Small businesses tend to have fewer resources to fall back on and fewer employees, too. This same sense of fear and limited resources impacts vacation and lunchtime.”

    The laundry list of attributes doesn’t scream “dream job” to Daniel Cable, professor of organizational psychology at London Business School. “To me, ‘dream job’ implies that I’d want to do it even if I wasn’t paid, and I just happen to get paid for doing it,” he says. “Dream job implies something about the content of the work that excites me or makes me attracted illogically. Something I connect with emotionally, something that plays to my unique strengths and makes me feel like I contribute something meaningful and I’m recognized for my personalized contribution.”

    The list sounds like “do the bare minimum without too much commitment,” Cable continues. “I think that people with dream jobs usually want to give a lot more than 40 hours to it,” he says. “Maybe most people just see work as ‘that thing I need to do in order to get money to pay for stuff I need in life.'”

    A dream job should address the basic things that all humans want in life, which include being part of a group that accepts you for who you are; having a chance to use your unique skills and be recognized for your contributions; an ability to experiment, learn, and try new approaches to using your skills; and feeling a sense of purpose and meaning in what you do, says Cable.

    “My sense is that most of us don’t know the psychology of what makes humans happy, and these are invisible, so we spend our time pursuing things that don’t make us happy but that are visible, such as raises, promotions, and less time at work,” he says.

    Making Your Current Job More Like Your Dream

    Ironically, some of the aspects of a dream job are likely already part of our current job, such as having a lunch hour and vacation. Yet, studies show that 52% of Americans don’t use all of their paid time off and half of Americans don’t take a lunch break.

    “Many of the responses to our survey seem to shed light on situations that Americans wish were more openly acceptable in the workplace,” says Roxy Fata, who spearheaded the survey administration and analysis. “If you work somewhere with a stated amount of PTO days, it still may be frowned upon to take those days. …In this dream job scenario, everyone would have those days off and take them. That way, it would put everyone on an even playing field and allow employees to actually enjoy their time off.”

    Same thing for the lunch hour. “There are too many negative connotations associated with people who step out of the office for an extended lunch,” says Fata. “If everyone took an hour and it was seen as the norm, all employees would be able to enjoy their lunch without judgment.”

    And other attributes are becoming easier to attain, “Remote work and flexible hours were a high priority for many participants, and more and more these days, companies are finding ways to give their employees the autonomy they crave,” Fata says.

    What the study highlights is a disconnect between what we think we want, and what we really are willing to do, says Cable. “To say ‘I want a lunch break’ and then not take a lunch break shows that the person is not confronting what they really want,” he says. “They must want some status, or raise, or sense of completion that giving up their lunch or vacation days gives them.”

    It’s likely that many of us don’t know what our ideal job is, Cable adds. “Many of us are projecting without the facts of what those jobs are really like,” he says. “Being a business owner may sound good, and might look good on TV with all the freedom to make your own decisions, and it’s prestigious. But it’s hard to know how it feels to be a business owner who ends up thinking about their business all the time until you are a business owner.”

    What’s most important is understanding your priorities when it comes to your professional life, says Fata. “When you think about your needs and decide which aspects of a workplace are most important to you, you’ll gain the clarity that is paramount in making the right move, or making the right requests to make your current or next role more of a dream job,” she says.


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    Editor’s Note: This story is part of our feature, “Secrets of 13 of the most productive people.” See the complete 2018 list here.

    No room in your day for exercise, networking, volunteering, reading, meditating, or any of the other priorities that keep getting bumped from your to-do list? A time-management expert demonstrates how easy it can be to liberate minutes, if not hours, from tight schedules. Yes, even yours.

    6:30 a.m.

    Quit the snooze button: Get up right away. Thirty minutes of margin gives you enough time to run on a treadmill (or outside!)
    for 20 minutes. Do this four times per week and you’ll meet the CDC’s “vigorous exercise” guidelines–and feel more energized than you will from that extra half hour of snoozing.

    7:15 a.m.

    Meditate/pray/count your blessings in the shower: Most people let their minds wander in there anyway. Why not nudge yourself in a positive direction?

    7:45 a.m.

    Put a reading app (Kindle, Instapaper, Pocket) on your phone: A recent study by Asurion revealed that Americans check their phones, on average, 80 times a day. Use 10 of those reflexive scrolling breaks to read an article or a book. You can even tackle War and Peace on your Kindle app this way: Tolstoy’s chapters are really short, ideal for three-minute breaks.

    8:00 a.m.

    Commute with a friend: It might not be practical every day, but sharing the ride with a friend–or your partner–once a week will turn what might be wasted time into the social highlight of your day.

    9:00 a.m.

    Establish the 20/45 rule: Most 30- or 60-minute meetings can be trimmed to 20 or 45, with discipline. That wins you back precious time. Try not to fill this extra time with more meetings.

    10:45 a.m.

    Take smokeless breaks: Smoking is terrible, but getting away from your desk and outside every few hours is smart. Copy smokers–without lighting up–by going for a quick, mood-boosting walk at lunch and mid-afternoon.

    12:00 p.m.

    Nix errands and limit your virtual window-shopping: According to the American Time Use Survey, the average American spends more than 40 minutes per day buying stuff. Plan ahead, and you can easily chop this in half.

    2:15 p.m.

    Use those walking breaks to mentor: Ask a younger colleague to join you for a 15-minute chat. (Bonus: Outside the office, they’re more likely to ask real questions.)

    5:30 p.m.

    Don’t fear commitment: If you want to volunteer at a homeless shelter or literacy program or soup kitchen, do it. Sign up for a regular gig, and why not make it a Friday evening? You’ll have a great excuse to push back on that 5 p.m. meeting request.

    6:00 p.m.

    Host a Sunday-night potluck: Or an every-Monday happy hour, or any recurring get-together with friends that you don’t have to plan from scratch. It’s the planning that people dread. Save that time for the actual socializing.

    8:00 p.m.

    Put a limit on housework: The average American spends about 30 minutes per day on household chores (not counting food prep and cleanup). Set a 15-minute timer for tidying. If it doesn’t happen during this time, it wasn’t urgent.

    9:30 p.m.

    Turn off the TV: Americans with full-time jobs still manage to watch more than two hours of TV per day, according to the ATUS. Trim that to 90 minutes and you’ve got 30 minutes to read, practice an instrument, or chat with friends or family without serious sacrifice.

    10:30 p.m.

    Give yourself a bedtime: Going to bed early is how grown-ups sleep in. You’ll be less likely to hammer that snooze button in the morning so you can get the new day off to a productive start.


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  • 11/27/18--21:32: Is bitcoin about to rebound?
  • Crypto traders may be able to breath a sigh of relief, as the price of bitcoin seems to be going up–at least a little bit. For the last few weeks, the cryptocurrency has been nosediving–its price went below $3,600, the lowest point the digital coin has seen in over a year.

    This morning, however, bitcoin began to gain. For a brief moment it went above $4,000, although now it’s slightly below at around $3,987, according to Coindesk. Still, it’s up by about 8%, which is at least a little good news for those who have invested in it. Of course, despite this bump, bitcoin’s value has decreased by about 70% over the last year.

    Screenshot via Coindesk

    Bitcoin traders told CNBC last week that they expected the bottom of this dip to be around $3,000. Though it didn’t go quite that low, this morning’s rise could indicate that the cryptocurrency did bottom out and may be ready for a rebound. How much of a rebound is possible, of course, remains to be seen. Late last year bitcoin exceeded $17,000. Now that seems like a far-off dream.

    For now, we’ll see if bitcoin’s value will continue to rise–or if there’s an even lower floor after this brief positive blip.


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    Sundar Pichai will appear before the House Judiciary Committee on December 5, the Washington Post reports. The main topic of conversation: Is Google biased against conservatives? It’s a claim many conservative lawmakers–and even President Trump–have made this year.

    In August, Trump accused Google of rigging its search results to show only negative stories about him. He also claimed via Twitter: “Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good.”

    But alleged bias against conservative voices isn’t the only thing Pichai will have to deal with. Members of the House Judiciary Committee will also want to address the workings of Google’s search algorithms, its decision to not go public when the company found a bug in its software that left half a million Google+ users vulnerable to data theft, and its decision to cease working with the Pentagon on JEDI, an artificial intelligence program.


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    After a nationwide hullabaloo in which hundreds of citiesprostrated themselves at Amazon’s feet in the hopes that the company would open its second headquarters in their jurisdiction, Amazon is coming to New York. What will this do to the city? Will it help New York grow, as the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo seems to believe? Or will it place more stress on an already strained and aging subway system, and exacerbate the city’s housing inequality?

    As New York readies itself for the arrival of Jeff Bezos’s personal helipad, Fast Company asked the New York-based Architecture Research Office (ARO)–the American Institute of Architects’ New York State firm of the year– to imagine what Bezos’s New York will look like. Their answer? A city turned into a giant fulfillment center.

    [Image: courtesy Architecture Research Office]

    One of ARO’s two concepts shows a huge white building emblazoned with the Amazon logo. The building stretches from Manhattan into Queens and then so far into the distance that it disappears over the horizon. It’s a never-ending fulfillment center that the architects dub “Continuous Fulfillment.” According to ARO principals Adam Yarinsky and Stephen Cassell, the idea is an homage to a 1969 concept from the Italian radical architecture firm Superstudio called “The Continuous Monument.” The idea posits that technology will render the built environment uniform, turning buildings into white monoliths. In the air above Amazon’s never-ending warehouse, swarms of drones hover ominously–a startling vision of Amazon’s quest to develop delivery drones.

    The second concept is even more dystopian: The East River between Manhattan and Queens has been drained to make way for a fulfillment center. “New York City was founded with the river as the center of commerce,” Cassell says. “This is a complete logical next step for that.”

    While the concepts are obviously satirical, there’s some unnerving truth to the world they portray, where Amazon has taken over to such an extent that the company’s warehouses take up more space than housing. Amazon’s choice of location for its headquarters will eliminate 1,500 affordable housing units–and the city and state have promised to provide billions in tax cuts for the privilege. Throughout the process, the state didn’t consult local elected officials who focus on land use in New York. It’s almost like dystopia is already here.


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    Editor’s Note: This story is part of our feature, “Secrets of 13 of the most productive people.” See the complete 2018 list here.

    Our objective is that you’ll press the button on an Instant Pot, and dinner is cooked. But for us, it’s a lot of work. How do we make sure that the press of the button creates the results that the consumer wants?

    In the morning, I reserve time for collaborative meetings, whether it’s with the executives or the product management team. The morning hours are not always enough. Sometimes I have to skip lunch. My afternoon is more focused on individual projects. I have about a dozen in development, even though you just see a small portion that we launch in the market. Then I work with the product and test it. Most of the tests don’t require food, because you just need to measure temperatures and temperature curves.

    Then I go home to spend time with the family, doing a little bit of cooking myself. Every family dinner is like I’m testing out my own products. Later, since we also have a team in China, we have night calls from 10 p.m. to after midnight quite a few times during the week.

    My educational background is in computer science. One thing we learned is when you multitask, you spend a lot of time doing the overhead of “context switching”–you need to get yourself into the groove of thinking a certain way. That’s mental overhead. I realized that I could lump similar things, similar thinkings, into a similar period of time, in the morning and afternoon. And through the years, it became a habit.

    Time he gets up

    7 a.m.

    Lunch routine

    “Sometimes I have lunch, sometimes I don’t. I always have snacks in my drawer, so I’m prepared.”

    Last thing he does at night

    “I find an opportunity for some exercise. I play hockey and badminton two to three times a week. Before bed, I do whatever to calm myself down. Nothing too exciting. I’ve had an exciting day already.”

    Time he goes to bed

    “A lot of times it’s after midnight.”


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    Editor’s Note: This story is part of our feature, “Secrets of 13 of the most productive people.” See the complete 2018 list here.

    If I have to do the morning show, I get up two hours prior and study and look at stories to make sure that I know what I’m talking about. I’m on the phone quite a bit. I talk to congressional leaders and call people in different communities, formulating what I’m going to ask [during a White House press briefing], and how I’m going to ask it. It’s all about the information you obtain. The right questions can help put something on the table and change procedures and policy. For 17 years I asked every president about black farmers who had been denied assistance from the Department of Agriculture, and during the Obama years–coming out of a recession–they got their settlement [at least partly], because I kept asking those questions. We’re missing those stories now. Instead, we’re getting Russia, sex, lies, and videotape. This is not a soap opera. This is not a reality TV show. This is real life, with real consequences, and people are counting on the press.

    I’m a hard worker, and I will do what it takes. My mother was a hard worker. She taught me about being proud of myself. She’d say, “Don’t ever apologize for who you are.” My dad just died in August. He gave me my courage, just in the way he walked. He was a successful business owner, and he challenged the system. I picked it up.

    Time she gets up

    Around 5 a.m.

    First thing she does in the morning

    “Grab my phone and look at my text messages. Then I make breakfast and wake up my daughters, who are 16 and 10. I take them to school.”

    Productivity tools

    “I use the Cozi app for my schedule. And the CNN and Washington Post apps for news.”

    Mantra

    “One of my favorite songs is ‘Hate On Me’ by Jill Scott. ‘Hate on me / ‘Cause my mind is free / Feel my destiny / So shall it be.’ Yaass!”

    What she does while commuting

    “My vehicle is my mobile office. I have a long commute–two hours. So I do interviews, I talk to my sources, get the lay of the land.”

    Lunch routine

    “Everybody’s like, ‘Oh, let’s do lunch.’ I don’t have time to do lunch. I’m sitting in the White House, figuring out a podcast, working on stories. I’m that girl who runs up the street, grabs a bag lunch, and brings it back to eat it.”

    What she does with 15 minutes of free time

    “Lie down and watch an old movie.”

    Best habit

    “I’ve got a great work ethic.”

    Worst habit

    “I am so disorganized!”

    Last thing she does at night

    “I thank God, turn on the news, make sure we’re at peace. There’s so much upheaval during the day. I didn’t realize I was looking for peace as much as I’ve been lately.”

    Time she goes to bed

    “If I’m not going on [with] Don Lemon [she joined CNN as a political analyst in 2017], I can get to bed about 9 or 10 p.m.”


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    The popular massage-booking app Urban let a database containing more than 300,000 customer profiles lay exposed online, meaning anyone could access it without any kind of login credentials and access the names, email addresses, and phone numbers of Urban’s users, reports TechCrunch.

    But the records also contained thousands of complaints from massage therapists about their clients. These complaints included allegations of sexual misconduct by clients by therapists, including clients who solicited “sexual services from [the] therapist” and those who requested “massage in genital area.” The database also marked some clients as “dangerous” based on therapist feedback.

    Clients whose records were marked with allegations of sexual harassment also featured their name, address, and postcode, and phone number on their record–making them easily identifiable–and open to blackmail.

    It’s unknown if anyone accessed the exposed database before the security researcher who found it reported it to TechCrunch, who notified the London-based Urban, which promptly pulled the database offline. In a statement, the company’s CEO Jack Tang said: “Urban is looking into this as a matter of utmost urgency. We have informed the ICO and will take all other appropriate action, including in relation to data and communications.”

    Due to the breach, Urban could see itself hit with a massive fine–up to 4% of its global revenue–because the breach falls under the EU’s tough new General Data Protection Regulation, which went into effect earlier this year.


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    The Hanukkah menorah generally conjures up an image of a golden candelabra, complete with intricate, detailed carvings reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast’s Lumiere. It’s undoubtedly regal and beautiful, but, for some, a little much alongside modern tableware or a Le Creuset.

    In recent years, designers have reimagined the religious lamp used to celebrate Hanukkah, many of them playing with materials such as clay, marble, glass, even plastic. Some of them restructure it entirely. Designer Jonathan Adler, for example, refashioned the whole thing into a ceramic dachshund. These creators aren’t looking to replace the traditional designs of Jewish heritage; rather the goal is to add to Judaism’s rich history of design.

    But beware: Not every design constitutes a legitimate menorah. There are rules–designs laws, if you will, that go all the way back to the Bible. A menorah must meet certain requirements to be considered viable for ritual use. Not everyone know this. (Many a retailer learned the hard way.) In fact, Jewish communities refer to legitimates menorahs as “kosher,” which is a term that extends far beyond hot dogs.

    The rules

    The Book of Exodus goes into great detail about the blueprint, structure, and materials (nearly 100 pounds of pure hammered gold) for the seven-branched menorah used during the time of Moses and in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. The God of the Bible is very specific: There are to be this many almond petal-style embellishments, that many decorative cups, this precise height of each branch and stem, etc.

    The design rules were later ratified by the Jewish sages following the second century B.C. story of Hanukkah, in which a one-day supply of oil was said to miraculously last eight days in the menorah. In the holiday’s honor, Jews now light a menorah with nine branches. That’s two more branches than the ancient Hebrews’ menorah.

    According to rabbinic law, a modern menorah can be made of anything, as long as it includes the following: eight separate oil or candle holders (sorry, electric lights) on equal level footing and in a straight line. It’s to be accompanied by a separate branch where the “helper” lighter candle sits on a higher or lower plane, but not equal to the eight. No pure gold necessary.

    You’ll oftentimes find styles claiming to be menorahs, but that fail to follow design law. Sometimes the lighter candle is on the exact same level as all the other candles. Others will assemble candles in a curved or nonlinear design. Those are considered illegitimate menorahs–a distinction taken quite seriously by modern rabbis.

    But don’t worry, there are plenty that are just as kosher as they are beautiful:

    Get lit

    Puebla Marble Menorah Set

    [Photo: The Citizenry]
    The dark richness of the matte marble adds an unexpected twist to the traditional Hanukkah menorah. Better yet, this sculptural gem is hand-carved by master artisans in Puebla, Mexico, in a fair-trade environment.
    $275,  The Citizenry

    Clear Menorah

    [Photo: Pottery Barn]
    Pottery Barn’s menorah is only seven inches long, but it packs a punch with its sleek crystal glass. It’s unlikely this minimalist rendition will clash with any of your dinnerware or vases–and it cleans up with just a splash of Windex.
    $39.50, Pottery Barn

    White Glazed Ceramic Menorah

    [Photo: Studio Armadillo]
    Studio Armadillo is an Israeli product design studio devoted to contemporary Judaica. To celebrate the festival of lights, female cofounders Anat Stein and Hadas Kruk were inspired by the ancient art of origami. Their delightful candelabra incorporates origami paper folds in a way that’s both fresh and reminiscent of the menorah’s traditional curves.
    $169, Studio Armadillo

    Intersecting Arts Menorah

    [Photo: GioGio Design]
    In a more playful nod, twin sisters Jessica and Monica Giovachino envision the holiday staple as a foldable DIY kit than mimics the menorah’s reaching branches. Made from eco-friendly amber bamboo and finished with linseed oil, this menorah easily slots together and comes apart to store flat.
    $112.50, GioGio Design

    Wood Menorah

    [Photo: JudaicaArtStudio]
    Eli Ben Moshe handcrafts objects from high-quality wood via local lumber mills in his native Atlanta. The artist is particularly inspired by wood’s rich colors, texture, and grain, which he gives equal attention to in his unique Judaica. This specific menorah comes in various wood species, including African mahogany, red gum, maple, Rainbow Poplar, Bubinga, Paduak, cherry, and walnut.
    $59, Judaica Arts Studio

    Oak Street Menorah

    [Photo: Bloomingdales]
    The Kate Spade brand adds an elegant and contemporary touch by way of sleek gold-plated silver. It’s simple, yet adds a celebratory touch to the holiday. This might just stay on your dinner table year-round.
    $200, Bloomingdales

    Industrial Chic Menorah

    [Photo: Quest Collection]
    If your downtown loft needs something far less glittery and a bit more brutalist, consider this thoroughly modern style from Quest Collection. Its candle holders are suspended in the air from its rectangular base, making for a truly unique (yet kosher) menorah.
    $179.55, Quest Collection

    Art Nouveau Menorah

    [Photo: Modern Tribe]

    Made of laser-cut stainless steel, this menorah exudes sophistication, albeit with a gothic touch. Artist Valerie Atkisson honed her hand-cut pattern craft to create beautifully understated objects, including this impressive Washington, D.C., skyline menorah.
    $328, Modern Tribe

    19th-Century Morocco Menorah

    [Photo: The Israel Museum]
    Candles are most commonly used nowadays, but back in the day, it was all about the oil. This decorative menorah is adapted from a late 19th-century antique brass design discovered in Larache, Morocco. The Israel Museum gives it a fresh makeover with a range of colors, including lavender, fuchsia, yellow, green, and orange.
    $119, The Israel Museum Shop


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    Patagonia has never been shy about its activism on behalf of the environment, whether through its 1% for the Planet initiative, giving a percentage of profits to grassroots environmental organizations, calling the president a liar on public lands protection, giving employees election day off, or becoming one of the first commercial brands to publicly endorse political candidates.

    Now the outdoor apparel brand is giving back $10 million in tax cuts to grassroots environmental organizations. In a LinkedIn post today, CEO Rose Marcario wrote, “Based on last year’s irresponsible tax cut, Patagonia will owe less in taxes this year. We are responding by putting $10 million back into the planet because our home needs it more than we do.”

    She sees any corporate gain from the latest corporate tax cut as dirty money. “Taxes protect the most vulnerable in our society, our public lands and other life-giving resources,” Marcario wrote. “In spite of this, the Trump administration initiated a corporate tax cut, threatening these services at the expense of our planet.”

    Citing the government’s recent (and bleak) Climate Assessment report, Marcario echoed that the consequences of climate change will cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars in the not-so long-term. “Mega-fires. Toxic algae blooms. Deadly heat waves and deadly hurricanes. Far too many have suffered the consequences of global warming in recent months, and the political response has so far been woefully inadequate–and the denial is just evil,” she wrote.

    Marcario also specifically highlighted the role of regenerative organic agriculture, saying it “may be our greatest hope for reversing the damage done to our overheated planet,” something the company has been investing in through its Tin Shed Ventures fund and its Provisions product line.

    “In this season of giving, we are giving away this tax cut to the planet, our only home, which needs it now more than ever.”


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    Ikea doesn’t just want to sell you furniture–it also wants to sell you on sustainable living. And how best to live sustainably than to grow your own food?

    That’s the idea behind a new line of products the Swedish company is developing with British industrial designer Tom Dixon. Due to be announced in May 2019 and released in Ikea stores in 2021, the products will be focused on making it easier for people to farm in an urban environment.

    [Image: Ikea]
    For Ikea, this collaboration is about challenging the way society looks at growing in general and addressing that it’s both possible and rewarding to have a place to grow your own plants in the city,” James Futcher, creative leader at Ikea Range and Supply, said in a statement. “Food is key to humanity and design can support with better solutions.”

    [Image: Ikea]

    Ikea has already introduced a small hydroponic system designed to let you grow lettuce on your kitchen countertop. The company’s innovation lab, Space10, has also experimented with a flatpack urban farm that can fit in your backyard. The collaboration with Dixon will likely extend these ideas to make it easier to grow plants in the city, where space is at a premium. Ikea will need to figure out how to maximize the amount of food production in the smallest possible footprint, since people’s living spaces are shrinking as the population of cities is growing.

    Only then could growing your own food in a tiny apartment be more than just a trendy pastime.


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    The Lion Air plane that crashed last month killing all 189 people on board reportedly should not have been given the okay to take off. That’s according to the findings of an investigation by Indonesia’s National Transport Safety Committee (KNKT), which determined that the Boeing 737 Max plane was not airworthy and should have been grounded, the BBC reports.

    The flight crashed just 13 minutes after takeoff–just minutes after the pilots asked air traffic control to let it return to the airport, a sign that there was likely a technical problem with the plane. In the wake of the crash, there were preliminary reports of technical issues on the plane’s previous flights, which caused flight delays. What’s more, the plane reportedly dropped suddenly several times in the first few minutes of its flight.

    This new report suggests that Lion Air had put the plane back into service without properly fixing the problem. According to black box recordings, the pilots struggled to regain control of the plane. The investigators believe the issue was a malfunctioning anti-stall system designed to prevent a plane from pointing upwards at too high an angle, where it could lose its lift. The anti-stall system reportedly kept forcing the plane’s nose down, requiring the pilots to correct the problem by pointing the nose higher, until the system pushed it down again. This happened over two dozen times during the very brief flight, per the New York Times, until they finally lost control of the plane and it continued on its downward trajectory.

    The 737 Max is a new version of Boeing’s original 737 and has become its fastest-selling plane. After the crash, Boeing issued a warning to all pilots flying its 737 MAX aircraft, giving guidance on what to do if the plane gives an erroneous reading from a sensor.

    The warning came too late for the pilots on flight JT610–and the passengers, too.


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    Let’s just be clear about one thing: Four-year-olds don’t just wake up one day and decide to be makeup influencers. Reams of research document how malleable and impressionable children are. If a child, barely out of toddlerhood, shows an interest in makeup, it is because parents, brands, and society have made a concerted effort to introduce the concept to her.

    Take Samantha Cutler, for instance, the former chief product development officer at Stila Cosmetics. She remembers watching her mother put on lipstick, and these days, she loves putting makeup on her very young daughter. “Now that I’m a mom, I love seeing my daughter’s face light up when I put a touch of sparkle on her cheekbones,” she says.

    Now, Cutler wants to cultivate this obsession with makeup among other girls throughout the world as young as four years old. She’s launched “Petite ‘N Pretty,” which makes cosmetic products that will look good on small faces. Cutler does not seem to believe she is actually brainwashing young girls to aspire to be “petite” and “pretty,” although it is right there in the name she chose. Instead, the website claims that the brand is consumer-led, and responding to the needs of young girls clamoring for these products. “Young creatives are changing the way the world sees pretty by redefining it on their terms with a next-gen point-of -view that celebrates sparkle in everyone,” reads the website. “This is about expression and good old-fashioned fun.”

    I would like to call bullshit. The beauty industry is a $445 billion sector that has the power–through advertising and marketing–to shape our values. Cutler must be aware of this, having spent 15 years in the industry. For years now, consumers have been pushing beauty brands to broaden their ideas about what is beautiful by using more diverse and size-inclusive models. Cutler cannot be naive to the fact that by launching a kid’s beauty brand, she is, in fact, shaping what children will believe is beautiful.

    At the same time, the website attempts to use progressive language around beauty, with vapid phrases like, “Everyone’s sparkle is all their own, and we think that’s pretty much the prettiest.” But it doesn’t take much analysis to see where this logic fails.

    First of all, there’s the brand’s name. Petite is meant to describe little girls, but since American culture is obsessed with thin women, it could easily feed into body negativity. (What about all the little girls who are not so “petite”? This brand is presumably not for them.) And then there’s the “pretty” part. No matter how you define it, it is ultimately a focus on superficial looks, rather than intelligence or character. It’s a uniquely gendered concept: Most brands encourage four-year-old boys to aspire to be brave, strong, and smart.

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    Of course, other brands have targeted young girls, priming them for a lifetime of makeup consumption. Wet ‘n Wild and Lip Smacker, for instance, have created fun, inexpensive products, like lip gloss, that girls can afford on their allowance. But these brands target tweens and teens: Selling products to four, five, and six-year-olds is quite different.

    Anyway, there’s a good chance that “Petite n Pretty” won’t work in today’s world. Consider Barbie, a brand that has historically focused on giving girls a very narrow idea of beauty and encouraging them to be pretty. Over the last few years, the dolls haven’t been doing well, and many believe that millennial parents don’t want their daughters being exposed to toys that are so focused on appearances. Many are opting for more progressive toys, like GoldiBlox, a doll that uses her knowledge of science and engineering to make things.

    Sure, Cutler’s daughter lights up when she plasters makeup on her cheeks. But this isn’t because little girls are born with a desire to use highlighter. It’s because makeup–and looking pretty–has been presented to the child as a positive thing.

    But, let’s hope there are other little kids out there who aren’t devoting their time and aspirations toward beauty. They are, instead, spending hours getting excited about science or being kind or making the world better in some way.


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    Why talk to an Echo speaker when you can talk to a Big Mouth Billy Bass that can respond to Alexa voice commands? Yeah, that’s exactly what the inventors of the talking faux stuffed fish thought–Jeff almighty bless them.

    Unlike the classic Big Mouth Billy Bass–a popular motion-activated animatronic largemouth bass that could lip-synch songs–this thingamajig can talk thanks to the power of Amazon’s Alexa assistant.

    This is how it works: Pair it with your Echo device and talk to it. That’s it. It will listen to your voice commands to order more Big Mouth Billy Basses from Amazon, let you know when a timer is up, tell you about the local traffic for your commute, read the headlines, and recite the weather. Your humdrum life will be totally uprooted because you hung a talking fish on your wall. And that’s fine.

    And of course, the fish actually moves his mouth when it talks and dances to the beat of any music you ask Alexa to play.

    You can get one for $40. I’m getting a dozen.


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