Man leaves $3,000 tip and inspiring holiday message on bill at diner – Trending Stuff

A patron at a Washington state diner gave its employees a good reason to celebrate the season with a $3,000 tip and a sweet holiday message.

Dwayne Clarke, 59, ordered his usual last Saturday, but he wanted to do something different for the staff at The Brief Encounter Cafe in Bellevue, Wash. 

Staffers described him to WLTX him as a friendly guy who always sits in the same booth and orders the same breakfast: eggs over easy, hash browns and extra crispy bacon.

Clarke, the CEO of Aegis Living, left a $3,000 tip on a $39.60 bill without saying anything else to the workers.

On the back of the receipt he wrote the following:

“You guys do a great job! When I was 7, I washed dishes and my mom cooked in a diner like this. We were dirt poor and didn’t have money for Christmas. Hopefully, this will help all of you have a better Christmas.”

RESTAURANT PATRONS ARE LEAVING HUGE TIPS FOR SERVERS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

He also left his cell phone number in case the credit card company questioned the validity of the tip.

Staffers were reportedly in tears, with several saying the money was needed. 

Clarke would like to see his act of kindness become a larger movement. 

“We are living in this great time of not connecting with each other — whether it’s the political situation, or whether it’s technology,” Clark told the TODAY Show. “I think the reason (people like this story) is not because of the money, but because of this shared connection. Wouldn’t it be great if we all fed each other’s souls in a positive way?”

It seems like his plan worked.

Waitress Julie Wilson, 42, told TODAY that she plans to use part of her share to buy five holiday turkey dinners for homeless families at her local Safeway. 

Christopher Carbone is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @christocarbone.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

House of Cards to resume production in 2018 with Robin Wright as lead – Trending Stuff

The sixth, and final, season will consist of just eight episodes and focus on Robin Wrights character after Kevin Spacey was fired over sexual misconduct allegations

The final season of House of Cards will resume production in 2018 without actor Kevin Spacey.

The star had been filming episodes for the sixth season of the Netflix drama but chief content officer Ted Sarandos has now revealed that as well as firing the actor, the final episodes will be refocused to center on co-star Robin Wright.

We are excited to bring closure to fans, Sarandos said during a conference on Monday, revealing that the 2,000 people who work on the show will get to return to work next year. The final season will be shorter, with just eight episodes. Details of the plot have yet to be released.

Its also been rumored that Netflix is seeking to launch a House of Cards spin-off, eager to extend the franchise of their flagship show.

Spacey was fired after allegations of sexual misconduct on the set of the show and off. The streaming giant similarly decided not to move forward with a film starring Spacey as Gore Vidal.

The actor was also replaced by Christopher Plummer in Ridley Scotts drama All the Money in the World, leading to last-minute reshoots before the films release on 22 December.

Netflix is projected to spend between $7-8bn on original content in 2018. Sarandos revealed that the company will aim to increase animated movies and foreign language productions. Weve been careful to not become a one-brand network. he said at the UBS conference. The way to do that is having a lot of variety, and executing in multiple genres at a high level.

  • This article has been amended on 5 December. Ted Sarandos was originally referred to as the CEO of Netflix but he is in fact the chief content officer.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Tesla Unveils Worlds Fastest Production Car and Electric Big Rig – Trending Stuff

Elon Musk pulled off a Steve Jobs-ian “one more thing” surprise at the unveiling of Tesla Inc.’s Semi model, rolling a new Roadster sports car out of the back of a big rig on stage.

The Semi truck going into production in 2019 will boast 500 miles of range, a battery and motors that will last 1 million miles and cheaper total operating costs than diesel models, Tesla’s chief executive officer said. The Roadster, available a year later, will be the fastest production car ever made, he said.

“The point of doing this is to just give a hardcore smack-down to gasoline cars,” Musk told the crowd gathered at Tesla’s design studio near Los Angeles, touting the Roadster’s 1.9-second 0-60 miles per hour time and 620 miles of range. “Driving a gasoline sports car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche.”

It was crucial for Musk to wow watchers of the Semi event. Tesla has stumbled out of the gate with the Model 3 sedan, the first car it’s trying to mass produce and sell to more mainstream consumers. With battery bottlenecks undercutting output, the CEO and master pitchman regenerated hype about future products capable of hauling in more revenue even as he struggles to get existing cars out of the factory.

 

Tesla’s new Roadster.

Source: Tesla Inc.

“Elon’s showmanship remains intact, even as his customers’ patience for Model 3 delivery wanes,” Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader, wrote in an email. “The specs on the new semi truck and sports car would put both vehicles at the top of their segments, assuming they can be produced and sold as part of a sustainable business plan. So far that final element has eluded Tesla.”

Tesla shares climbed as much as 4.5 percent Friday and were trading up 2.8 percent to $321.30 as of 9:48 a.m. in New York.

The truck is vital to Musk’s mission to electrify all the major forms of “terrestrial transport.” While battery-powered passenger cars generate much more buzz, electrifying big rigs would make a material difference in cleaning up the transportation sector.

The urgency to shift from emissions-spewing diesel engines is particularly acute in California, where the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach plan to phase them out in favor of natural gas or zero-emission powertrains. Adding autonomous features like Autopilot — an enhanced version of which will be offered as standard on the Semi — may also help operators save on labor costs and spur major upheaval to the commercial trucking industry.

Tesla’s target market for the Semi is both fleet operators and independent owner operators. The company will be its own first customer, using the truck to transport parts from its battery gigafactory in Nevada to its auto assembly plant in California.

Read more: Tesla Takes Semi Orders From Retailer, Freight Shipper

The Semi boasts what Musk called a “thermonuclear explosion-proof” windshield that won’t shatter. The cab features a centered seat flanked by two 15-inch screens for navigation and blind-spot monitoring. And the truck integrates several components of the Model 3, including the screens, motors and door handles.

Tesla is far from alone in trying to electrify semi trucks. Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler AG has shown several battery-powered prototypes this year. Paccar Inc. is working on electric, hybrid, hydrogen fuel cell and natural gas-powered models, Chief Executive Officer Ron Armstrong said in April, though he cautioned it’ll be about 10 years before electric trucks pose a credible threat.

Volvo AB has been testing a hybrid concept truck for long-haul applications, while Navistar International Corp. and Volkswagen AG’s truck division have said they’ll jointly develop a battery-powered medium-duty truck for as soon as 2019.

“It is a highly competitive market among established truck manufacturers,” Consumer Edge Research analyst James Albertine wrote in a report Thursday. While many — if not all — are working on their own electric trucks, Tesla’s competitive edge lies in its battery-manufacturing and autonomous-software capabilities, he said.

For more on Tesla, check out the   podcast:

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Girl has blunt message for Aetna after her brain surgery request was denied – Trending Stuff

(CNN)Cara Pressman sobbed in the big red chair in her living room. The 15-year-old tried to absorb the devastating news relayed by her parents: that their insurance company, Aetna, denied her for a minimally invasive brain surgery that could end the seizures that have haunted her since she was 9 years old.

“When my parents told me, I went kind of blank and started crying,” she said. “I cried for like an hour.”

Her friends had been lined up to visit her in the hospital for the surgery three days away, on Monday, October 23. Between tears, she texted them that the whole thing was off.

It was supposed to be a joyous weekend. Cara’s grandparents had come to town to celebrate their 90th birthdays, a jubilant party with more than 100 family and friends crowding her home. The party did go on — just with a lot more stress.

Cara had multiple complex partial seizures that weekend. When the seizures strike, her body gets cold and shakes, and she zones out for anywhere from 20 seconds to two minutes, typically still aware of her surroundings. Her seizures can be triggered by stress, by being happy, by exerting herself — almost anything. “It’s like having a nightmare but while you’re awake,” she said.

In the six weeks since the denial, Cara has had more than two dozen seizures affecting her everyday life. Her message to Aetna is blunt: “Considering they’re denying me getting surgery and stopping this thing that’s wrong with my brain, I would probably just say, ‘Screw you.’ ”

Aetna: We’re looking out for what’s best for patients

The Pressman family and, separately, Jennifer Rittereiser, a 44-year-old mom who has struggled with seizures since she was 10, approached CNN in recent weeks after they were both denied, by Aetna, for laser ablation surgery, a minimally invasive procedure in which a thin laser is used to heat and destroy lesions in the brain where the seizures are originating.Aetna is the third-largest health insurance provider in the country, providing medical coverage to 23.1 million people.

Neurologists consider laser ablation, which is performed through a small hole in the skull, to be safer and more precise than traditional brain surgery, where the top portion of the skull is removed in order for doctors to operate. The procedure is less daunting for the patient and parents who make decisions for their children: No one likes the idea of a skull opened and a chunk of brain removed.

In denying Cara her surgery, Aetna said it considers laser ablation surgery “experimental and investigational for the treatment of epilepsy because the effectiveness of this approach has not been established.”

“Clinical studies have not proven that this procedures effective for treatment of the member’s condition,” Aetna wrote in its rejection letter.

The insurance company did approve her for the more invasive and more expensive open brain surgery, called a temporal lobectomy, even though her medical team never sought approval for the procedure.

The laser surgery is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is widely recognized within the epilepsy community as an effective treatment alternative to open brain surgery, especially when the location of seizure activity can be pinpointed to a specific part of the brain.

Dr. Jamie Van Gompel, a neurosurgeon at the Mayo Clinic, disputes Aetna’s assessment. He is not involved in Cara’s care nor Rittereiser’s treatment, but he said Aetna’s assessment is wrong.

“I would not call it experimental at all,” said Van Gompel, who is leading a clinical trial on the surgery at Mayo as part of a larger national study. “It’s definitely not an experimental procedure. There’ve been thousands of patients treated with it. It’s FDA-approved. There’s a lot of data out there to suggest it’s effective for epilepsy.”

Van Gompel said a temporal lobectomy carries a much higher risk of serious complications, including the possibility of death. “It’s a big jump to go to a big invasive procedure,” he said.

Recovery time after open brain surgery can range from six to 12 weeks. By contrast, a patient who undergoes laser ablation can be back to work or at school in less than two weeks. The pain from laser surgery is much less, and extreme headaches are fewer than with open brain surgery, Van Gompel said.

While laser ablation has not yet undergone large randomized controlled trials, Van Gompel said existing data shows it’s effective more than 50% of the time. He hopes the current clinical trial will show a success rate of 60% to 70% or better in epilepsy patients. Temporal lobectomies, he said, have a slightly better rate, of more than 70%.

Pressed by CNN for a better explanation on its denial, Aetna stood by its rejection for Cara and Rittereiser, saying it was in the best interest of the patients. But the language was softened slightly.

“Clinical effectiveness and our members’ safety are the primary criteria we use in determining whether a treatment or service is medically necessary,” Aetna said. “There is currently a limited amount of evidence-based, clinical studies related to laser ablation surgery. As noted by the Epilepsy Foundation, only studies with a very small number of participants have been used to report the effectiveness of this procedure. We consistently evaluate any new studies or additional evidence when developing our clinical policy bulletins, and will continue to do so for this procedure.”

Contacted for reaction, the Epilepsy Foundation strongly objected to Aetna’s remarks, saying the insurance company took its information out of context. Laser ablation surgery “has emerged as a new minimally invasive surgical option that is best suited for patients with symptomatic localization-related epilepsy,” said Dr. Jacqueline French, the chief science officer with the Epilepsy Foundation.

“This technology is much less invasive than the alternative, which involves removing a sizeable piece of brain, at a substantially higher monetary and personal cost,” French said. “This path should be available, if the treating epilepsy physician has recommended it, without delay or barriers.”

Phil Gattone, the president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation, said insurance denials and other barriers to treatment have become a common battle for thousands of Americans with seizure disorders.

Gattone knows first-hand the pain of what Cara’s parents are going through. His own son began having seizures when he was 4 and underwent brain surgery in the early 1990s. “It was extremely challenging for our family to make a decision to remove part of our child’s skull and brain for a surgery that we hoped would end the devastation of seizures that were stopping his development,” Gattone said. “We took this leap of faith and made the decision, and it worked out the best for him.”

But he added that he and his wife wished laser ablation surgery had been available back then. The device used for laser ablation surgery was approved by the FDA nine years ago. “I know that my wife and I would’ve found much more comfort if we had had (laser ablation) as an option,” he said.

Gattone said people with seizures, their caregivers and their doctors should not be “spending critical time in the midst of a health-care crisis, filing paperwork, making appeals or otherwise going through the motions of administrative paperwork” trying to get approval for a life-changing operation.

“The Epilepsy Foundation can understand no reason why an insurance company would place any barrier to delay a treatment that may save an individual’s life, promote the development of the young child’s brain or bring about seizure control,” Gattone said.

Mom who crashed with kid in car gets denied

Jennifer Rittereiser lost consciousness behind the wheel of her silver SUV while driving with her 7-year-old son, Robert, in April. Her SUV rammed into a car in front of her and struck it again before veering into oncoming traffic. Her vehicle careened down an embankment, flipped over and came to rest on its side amid a tangle of brush. She narrowly missed slamming into a guardrail and several trees.

Mom and son somehow managed to walk free unharmed.

“People were amazed,” she said. “They had a helicopter on the way, actually. I am extremely fortunate just from that sense.”

Rittereiser has battled seizures since she was 10 and has been able to function with an array of medications in the three decades since. For much of her life, she could tell when the seizures might come.

These weren’t like the seizures depicted in Hollywood movies; she wouldn’t fall to the ground and writhe. She would zone out for a spell. She could understand people and could still function but couldn’t speak back — or if she did, her words were garbled.

As an executive in the health care industry, Rittereiser has fallen asleep during meetings. When she senses a seizure coming, she rushes to the bathroom to hide until they go away. One time, she says she urinated on herself at her desk without realizing it.

Rittereiser had a crash in 2014 in which she rear-ended a car after she had a seizure. No one was hurt in that crash, but she stopped driving for more than a year. Her medications were tweaked, and her seizures were largely kept in check, until the crash this April.

She was soon evaluated by an array of doctors and recommended for laser ablation surgery. After 34 years of struggling with seizures, she thought her ordeal might finally come to an end. Surgery was set for June 16.

But in late May, Aetna denied the surgery. She fought Aetna’s decision through a lengthy appeals process. Aetna refused to budge.

“It’s just not right,” Rittereiser said.

She said she recently went to Aetna’s website to look up the company’s values. She felt nauseated. “Everything in their core values is not being shown in the way I’m being treated. They’re talking about promoting wellness and health and ‘being by your side.’ “

She paused, contemplating the company’s “by your side” catchphrase, saying it’s “the most ridiculous thing, because they are the biggest barrier to my success and my well-being going forward.

“It drives me crazy.”

Dad: ‘You get so angry’

Julie Pressman stood near an elevator at her doctor’s office when word came that Cara’s surgery had been denied. The mom fell to the floor and wept.

She called Cara’s father, Robert. He was at the airport picking up his 90-year-old parents for their birthday party. Mom and Dad rallied for their daughter and gathered strength to break the news. That’s when Cara sat in the red chair, crying inconsolably.

“Telling Cara was horrible,” her mom said. “Horrible.”

“It’s just so frustrating for us to know there’s a solution out there — a way to fix our daughter — and some bureaucratic machine is preventing this from happening,” Robert Pressman said. “You get so angry, but you don’t know who to take it out on, because there’s no particular person that’s doing it. It’s this big bureaucracy that’s preventing this from happening.”

Julie and Robert said the most beautiful day of their lives came on August 20, 2002, when Cara popped into the world and met her 2-year-old sister, Lindsey, for the first time. “That was the day we became a family,” Julie said. “Our love for those girls is amazing. How we got this lucky is beyond us.”

But that luck has been tested. When Cara was 9, she’d complained of extreme headaches for much of the day one evening, and then in the middle of the night, she began seizing uncontrollably. The family had two black Labradors that had gone to her room and barked like crazy to alert her parents. Cara had bitten her tongue, and blood was running down her face when they got to the room.

It was a terrifying scene. She was rushed off in an ambulance and underwent a battery of tests. Mom, Dad and Cara never thought they’d still be battling seizures six years later — let alone an insurance company. She’s had seizures on the soccer field, during softball games, on stage during plays, in the classroom. Almost everywhere.

How does she envision a life without seizures?

“I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve never had a life without seizures.”

“You will. You will,” her dad told her.

“I just don’t know when,” she responded.

Mom: “It will happen, kiddo.”

Her mother calls Cara a feisty, petite powerhouse with big marble eyes and long eyelashes and a funny wit to match. She’s a naturally gifted athlete, singer and dancer, but her parents feel that her seizures have kept her from reaching her full potential.

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They long for the day when the seizures are gone. The parents said they have paid $24,000 for insurance with Aetna this year. They’re determined to get Cara laser ablation surgery with or without the insurance company’s help. They will appeal Aetna’s latest rejection — but they’re not optimistic.

In preparation, they’ve begun exploring raiding their retirement funds to pay the $300,000 out of pocket. “Cara is worth every penny, but man,” her mom said. ” ‘Screw Aetna,’ indeed, to quote my kid.”

Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

Categories CNN

Australia votes ‘yes’ to same-sex marriage – Trending Stuff

Melbourne, Australia (CNN)Celebrations broke out across Australia after a two-month national postal survey came out “overwhelmingly” in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Results released Wednesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed 61% of the population voted to allow same-sex marriage, with 38% voting against.

Rainbow-colored smoke, confetti and cheers erupted in the center of Melbourne following the announcement, where hundreds of people had gathered to hear the result.

When couple Jane Mahoney, 28, and Josie Lennie, 26, heard the result they collapsed into each others’ arms in tears. “(Now) we need to save and also gets lots of fun ideas from the other gay weddings,” they told CNN.

More than 12.7 million people across the country, or 79.5% of the population, took part in the survey with every state and territory returning a majority “yes.”

Celebrations, singing and tears greeted the announcement in Melbourne.

It’s the beginning of the end of a long-running campaign to allow marriage equality in Australia, something already legal in the majority of English-speaking countries worldwide.

Speaking after the result, Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it had been an “overwhelming” response in favor of “yes” and called for same-sex marriage to be legalized before Christmas.

“They voted ‘yes’ for fairness, they voted ‘yes’ for commitment, they voted ‘yes’ for love. And now it is up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with it,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten told the Melbourne rally the postal vote itself should never have happened.

“I feel for young people who had their relationships questioned in a way I wouldn’t have thought we would see ever again, but nevertheless what this marriage equality survey shows is that unconditional love always has the last word,” he said.

Politicians are expected to begin discussing the specifics of the same-sex marriage bill as early as this week.

However, even ahead of the release of the results, conservative politicians inside the Australian parliament were preparing for a fight over how marriage equality would be legalized.

Prominent supporters of same-sex marriage celebrated the decision. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce danced on stage in Sydney with author and actor Magda Szubanski, and urged Turnbull to “get on with it.”

Australian Olympic champion Ian Thorpe warned conservative politicians against delaying the legislation.

“(The result) spells it out loud and clear … If they play around with this issue any longer, it will be at their peril,” he told reporters Wednesday morning.

‘We didn’t want the vote’

Australia’s LGBT community was strongly against the idea of a national vote on same-sex marriage from the first time it was announced, fearing a bitter, divisive campaign.

A group of same-sex marriage advocates even took the government to Australia’s High Court in an attempt to stave off the survey. Their case was dismissed in an unanimous decision.

The two-month campaign was marred by harsh rhetoric and wild allegations of the consequences of a “yes” vote. Rainbow flags were sprayed with Nazi symbols in Brisbane while “no” advertisements claimed same-sex marriage would lead to “radical gay sex” education in schools.

Speaking after the “yes” result on Wednesday, Jacob Holman, 28, and his husband Damien O’Meara, 29, said they still believed the survey was “wrong.”

“We didn’t want the vote in the first place but we are so happy to have this win for our friends and the whole community,” Holman told CNN.

“The vote has helped to speed up the process but the true lesson here is that the process is wrong.” Holman and O’Meara were married in Scotland two years ago.

Australians long in favor of marriage equality

Australians have long been in favor of marriage equality, but multiple governments have maintained they wanted to keep the traditional definition in law.

In 2015, under pressure from moderates in his Liberal party to take action, then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced there would be a national vote, or plebiscite, to decide whether marriage equality should be legislated.

He was unable to get funding to hold the plebiscite after legislation was blocked twice in the Australian senate. Abbott’s successor, Turnbull, announced in August a national postal vote would be held.

It was one way to get around the funding issue, as the survey was run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, removing the need for parliamentary approval.

Voting opened on September 12 and Australians who had registered to vote had until November 7 to return their surveys.

Developing story – more to come

Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

Categories CNN

US to allow imports of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe, Zambia – Trending Stuff

(CNN)US authorities will remove restrictions on importing African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

A US Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman said the move will allow the two African countries to include US sport hunting as part of their management plans for the elephants and allow them to put “much-needed revenue back into conservation.”

Critics, however, note the restrictions were created by the Obama administration in 2014 because the African elephant population had dropped. The animals are listed in the US Endangered Species Act, which requires the US government to protect endangered species in other countries.

“We can’t control what happens in foreign countries, but what we can control is a restriction on imports on parts of the animals,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

The number of elephants in the wild plummeted 30% overall between 2007 and 2014, despite large scale conservation efforts. In some places it has dropped more than 75% due to ivory poaching.

In 2016, there were just over 350,000 elephants still alive in the wild, down from millions in the early 20th Century.

Pacelle, who opposes the decision, told CNN it means “elephants minding their business are going to be gunned down by rich Americans.”

Safari Club International, a worldwide network of hunters, cheered the announcement.

“We appreciate the efforts of the Service and the US Department of the Interior to remove barriers to sustainable use conservation for African wildlife,” SCI President Paul Babaz said in a statement.

But the decision was met with outcry from animal-rights advocates, including Chelsea Clinton, a longtime proponent for elephant conservation. The daughter of former President Bill Clinton and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton once called elephants her “great passion” in a 2016 Politico profile and, together with her mother, unveiled a $80 million partnership through the Clinton Global Initiative in 2013 to help end the ivory poaching crisis.

“Infuriating. Will increase poaching, make communities more vulnerable & hurt conservation efforts,” she tweeted Thursday, linking to a report from the Humane Society of the United States.

President Donald Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric are themselves big game hunters. Photos posted in 2012 by the website Gothamist show Donald Jr. holding an elephant tail. The website says the photos were from a 2011 hunt in Zimbabwe.
When Donald Jr. addressed the photos at the time, he did not deny their authenticity or where they were taken. “I can assure you it was not wasteful,” he posted on Twitter, adding, “The villagers were so happy for the meat which they don’t often get to eat.”

Pacelle, of the Humane Society, noted that corruption in the Zimbabwean government was a concern when the US banned trophy imports from the nation in 2014.

Zimbabwe is currently in a leadership crisis, after the military seized power this week and placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest.

Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

Categories CNN

US to allow imports of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe – Trending Stuff

Interior secretary Ryan Zinke has been accused of promoting the hunting industry over conservation. Photograph: Molly Riley/AP

The decision by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to reverse the ban, which will also apply to trophies from Zambia, follows moves in favour of the US hunting sector that are worrying some observers. Last week US interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, a hunter himself and a keen supporter of hunting policies, established an International Wildlife Conservation Council It has a clear focus, the African Wildlife Foundation has pointed out, on promoting the hunting industry, not conservation. Trumps sons Donald Jr and Eric are well-known hunting enthusiasts.

The USFWS decision to lift the ban was announced at the African Wildlife Consultative Forum in Tanzania an event co-hosted by Safari Club International (SCI), a hunting rights group. The US Humane Society said the announcement showed an uncomfortably cozy relationship between SCI and the Trump administration.

Paul Babaz, the president of SCI, said the decision shows the administration recognizes that hunting is beneficial to wildlife and that these range countries know how to manage their elephant populations.

The National Rifle Association (NRA), which joined with SCI to challenge the elephant trophy ban in court, also praised the rollback.

This is a significant step forward in having hunting receive the recognition it deserves as a tool of sound wildlife management, which had been all but buried in the previous administration, said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRAs Institute for Legislative Action.

Hunting elephants is legal under strict permit systems in several African countries, and the revenue is crucial, some argue, for supporting conservation efforts. The large fees that trophy hunters pay in order to be allowed to shoot elephants, lions and leopards can be a significant source of revenue. In Zimbabwe, according to the Safari Operators Association, annual revenue this year could be as much as $130m, mainly from the US market.

But there has been an international backlash against the practice. A huge outcry over the shooting of Cecil the lion by Walter Palmer in 2015 led to calls for the dentist to be jailed, and trophy hunters are now regularly named and shamed by campaign groups. A petition to ban trophy hunting currently has 146,000 signatures.

The move from the US is seen by some as a step backwards from its strong stance against the illegal ivory trade; ivory poaching has led to a catastrophic drop in elephant populations around the world over the last 15 years.

The US government has been a global leader in the fight to reverse the dangerous declines among Africas most iconic species such as elephant, rhino, and lion. It is unfortunate that the Trump administration is willing to sacrifice that leadership position, said Jeff Chrisfield, African Wildlife Foundations chief operating officer. Well-managed hunting can play a role in conservation. However, US policy on wildlife conservation should be informed by science, not by professional hunters and the gun lobby.

How someone could want to shoot such an intelligent, empathetic animal as an elephant is beyond me, said Frank Pope, CEO of Save the Elephants. But what is most concerning for elephants is that renewed imports of trophy ivory into the US might undermine the all-important ivory trade bans put in place by America and China.

China continues to show strong leadership and will close all ivory trade within her borders by the end of the year. Up to now American actions on elephants and ivory have been admirable. The fire of the ivory trade seems to be dying. The last thing we need is a sudden blast of oxygen from a misguided policy change.

A
A lion displayed as a hunting trophy. Photograph: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

A USFWS spokesman told the Guardian: Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management programme can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the hunting and management programmes for African elephants in Zimbabwe will enhance the survival of the species in the wild.

Uber Paid Hackers to Delete Stolen Data on 57 Million People – Trending Stuff

Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies Inc., a massive breach that the company concealed for more than a year. This week, the ride-hailing firm ousted its chief security officer and one of his deputies for their roles in keeping the hack under wraps, which included a $100,000 payment to the attackers.

Compromised data from the October 2016 attack included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world, the company told Bloomberg on Tuesday. The personal information of about 7 million drivers was accessed as well, including some 600,000 U.S. driver’s license numbers. No Social Security numbers, credit card information, trip location details or other data were taken, Uber said.

At the time of the incident, Uber was negotiating with U.S. regulators investigating separate claims of privacy violations. Uber now says it had a legal obligation to report the hack to regulators and to drivers whose license numbers were taken. Instead, the company paid hackers to delete the data and keep the breach quiet. Uber said it believes the information was never used but declined to disclose the identities of the attackers.

“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as chief executive officer in September, said in an emailed statement. “We are changing the way we do business.”

Read more: Uber Pushed the Limits of the Law. Now Comes the Reckoning

After Uber’s disclosure Tuesday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation into the hack, his spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick said. The company was also sued for negligence over the breach by a customer seeking class-action status.

Hackers have successfully infiltrated numerous companies in recent years. The Uber breach, while large, is dwarfed by those at Yahoo, MySpace, Target Corp., Anthem Inc. and Equifax Inc. What’s more alarming are the extreme measures Uber took to hide the attack. The breach is the latest scandal Khosrowshahi inherits from his predecessor, Travis Kalanick.

Read more: Gadfly’s Shira Ovide says Kalanick must speak

QuicktakeCybersecurity

Kalanick, Uber’s co-founder and former CEO, learned of the hack in November 2016, a month after it took place, the company said. Uber had just settled a lawsuit with the New York attorney general over data security disclosures and was in the process of negotiating with the Federal Trade Commission over the handling of consumer data. Kalanick declined to comment on the hack.

Joe Sullivan, the outgoing security chief, spearheaded the response to the hack last year, a spokesman told Bloomberg. Sullivan, a onetime federal prosecutor who joined Uber in 2015 from Facebook Inc., has been at the center of much of the decision-making that has come back to bite Uber this year. Bloomberg reported last month that the board commissioned an investigation into the activities of Sullivan’s security team. This project, conducted by an outside law firm, discovered the hack and the failure to disclose, Uber said.

Here’s how the hack went down: Two attackers accessed a private GitHub coding site used by Uber software engineers and then used login credentials they obtained there to access data stored on an Amazon Web Services account that handled computing tasks for the company. From there, the hackers discovered an archive of rider and driver information. Later, they emailed Uber asking for money, according to the company.

A patchwork of state and federal laws require companies to alert people and government agencies when sensitive data breaches occur. Uber said it was obligated to report the hack of driver’s license information and failed to do so.

“At the time of the incident, we took immediate steps to secure the data and shut down further unauthorized access by the individuals,” Khosrowshahi said. “We also implemented security measures to restrict access to and strengthen controls on our cloud-based storage accounts.”

Uber has earned a reputation for flouting regulations in areas where it has operated since its founding in 2009. The U.S. has opened at least five criminal probes into possible bribes, illicit software, questionable pricing schemes and theft of a competitor’s intellectual property, people familiar with the matters have said. The San Francisco-based company also faces dozens of civil suits.

U.K. regulators including the National Crime Agency are also looking into the scale of the breach. London and other governments have previously taken steps toward banning the service, citing what they say is reckless behavior by Uber.

In January 2016, the New York attorney general fined Uber $20,000 for failing to promptly disclose an earlier data breach in 2014. After last year’s cyberattack, the company was negotiating with the FTC on a privacy settlement even as it haggled with the hackers on containing the breach, Uber said. The company finally agreed to the FTC settlement three months ago, without admitting wrongdoing and before telling the agency about last year’s attack.

The new CEO said his goal is to change Uber’s ways. Uber said it informed New York’s attorney general and the FTC about the October 2016 hack for the first time on Tuesday. Khosrowshahi asked for the resignation of Sullivan and fired Craig Clark, a senior lawyer who reported to Sullivan. The men didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Khosrowshahi said in his emailed statement: “While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes.”

The company said its investigation found that Salle Yoo, the outgoing chief legal officer who has been scrutinized for her responses to other matters, hadn’t been told about the incident. Her replacement, Tony West, will start at Uber on Wednesday and has been briefed on the cyberattack.

Kalanick was ousted as CEO in June under pressure from investors, who said he put the company at legal risk. He remains on the board and recently filled two seats he controlled.

Uber said it has hired Matt Olsen, a former general counsel at the National Security Agency and director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as an adviser. He will help the company restructure its security teams. Uber hired Mandiant, a cybersecurity firm owned by FireEye Inc., to investigate the hack.

The company plans to release a statement to customers saying it has seen “no evidence of fraud or misuse tied to the incident.” Uber said it will provide drivers whose licenses were compromised with free credit protection monitoring and identity theft protection.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

WeWork Is Launching a Grade School for Budding Entrepreneurs – Trending Stuff

WeWork says its mission is to help people do what they love. Now the office-sharing giant is testing that ethos on a smaller clientele: kindergartners.

The $20 billion startup, built on a vast network of hip co-working spaces where entrepreneurs and freelancers rent desks, is making its move into children’s education, launching a private elementary school for “conscious entrepreneurship” inside a New York City WeWork next fall. A pilot program of seven students, including one of the five young children of WeWork Cos. founders Adam and Rebekah Neumann, is under way.

“In my book, there’s no reason why children in elementary schools can’t be launching their own businesses,” Rebekah Neumann said in an interview. She thinks kids should develop their passions and act on them early, instead of waiting to grow up to be “disruptive,” as the entrepreneurial set puts it.

Adam and Rebekah Neumann

Photographer: Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

The students—this pilot crop is five to eight years old—spend one day at a 60-acre farm and the rest of the week in a classroom near the company’s Manhattan headquarters, where they get lessons in business from both employees and entrepreneur-customers of WeWork. Neumann, who attended the elite New York City prep school Horace Mann and Cornell University, studying Buddhism and business, said she’s “rethinking the whole idea of what an education means” but is “non-compromising” on academic standards. The students will have to meet or exceed all of the state’s benchmarks for subjects such as math and reading.

At the farm, which the Neumanns bought last year, “if they are learning math, they are not just sitting in a classroom learning about numbers. They are also using numbers to run their farm stand, they’re reading about natural cycles of plant life,” she said. “It’s a very hands-on approach to learning.”

WeWork’s education ambitions are the latest offshoot of the rapidly growing company’s “We” brand, which promotes a seamless integration of meaningful work and a purpose-driven existence—make a life, not just a living, the motto goes. Last year, the company unveiled “co-living” residences under WeLive, furnished apartments in buildings with shared amenities, planned events and communal spaces (here’s what that’s like). Last month came Rise by We—a facility that features gym equipment, co-ed saunas and yoga classes that connect “wellness” and spirituality with entrepreneurism—and a coding boot camp. It is a brand, atop a real estate leasing company, that some critics say is overvalued

With their foray into schooling, the Neumanns join a growing list of entrepreneurial billionaires trying to reshape American education with their influence and investments. Facebook’s Mark  Zuckerberg, along with other tech entrepreneurs, for example, are investing in public, charter and private schools that use technology to foster personalized education. While there’s broad agreement that the nation’s education system has its failings, the solutions are especially fraught because the beneficiaries, or guinea pigs, are children.

Here and below, renderings of the planned school by the architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). 

Source: WeWork

The kids have already gotten lessons from the Neumanns’ employees in creating a brand and using effective sales techniques, and from Adam Neumann on supply and demand. Mentorships with WeWork customer-entrepreneurs are available. “Basically, anything they might want to learn, we have people in the field that can teach it,” Rebekah Neumann said. When one of their students, an eight-year-old girl named Nia, made T-shirts to sell at the farm stand the kids run, “we noticed she has a strong aptitude and passion for design,” Neumann said. She is securing an apprenticeship with fashion designers who rent space from WeWork.

The hands-on, project-based learning, encouraging children to ask questions and take ownership of their education, sounds like what “progressive pedagogy has been teaching for 100 years,” said Samuel Abrams, the director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, at Columbia University’s Teachers College. 

But WeWork’s “very instrumental approach” to learning, “essentially encouraging kids to monetize their ideas, at that age, is damaging,” Abrams said. “You’re sucking the joy out of education at a time when kids should just be thinking about things like how plants grow and why there are so many species.”

Neumann argues it’s conventional education that is “squashing out the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity that’s intrinsic to all young children.” Then, after college, she said, “somehow we’re asking them to be disruptive and recover that spirit.”

The Neumanns, who founded WeWork in 2010 with the chief creative officer, Miguel McKelvey, started out renting sleek office space to nomadic workers and entrepreneurs. There’s beer on tap, micro-roasted coffee, and aphorisms on the walls about working hard. But Adam, WeWork’s CEO, has said he wants the company to be the architect of entire neighborhoods.

A former officer in the Israeli Navy who as a child lived for a time on a kibbutz (McKelvey grew up in a commune), the 38-year-old is after a kind of entrepreneurial utopia, or a “capitalist kibbutz,” in his words. He has even branded his customers—now about 150,000 of them in 52 cities around the globe—the WeGeneration, a collaborative group that “cares about the world, actually wants to do cool things, and loves working,” as he told Fast Company last year. 

Rebekah, a co-founder and the company’s chief brand officer, launched the pilot in September with guidance from a family friend, Lois Weisswasser, a former principal of P.S. 41, one of the city’s top public schools. For now, she has just two full-time teachers, one from the high-performing P.S. 234 and one from P.S. 77, a gifted-and-talented school. The first WeWork school probably will be built inside the headquarters and be accessible through a separate entrance. WeWork has enlisted the innovative Danish architecture firm of Bjarke Ingels, which has designed a building at the World Trade Center campus and a flood prevention plan for New York City.

Neumann plans to have about 65 students next fall—with about 10 each in a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old class, and 15 each grouped as kindergarten/first grade, second/third grade, and fourth grade—and then go straight through 12th grade. Her grand vision for the project, which is called (wait for it) WeGrow, is to open schools in WeWorks around the world, move into higher and continuing education, and perhaps expand the business to training other teachers in WeWork’s pedagogy. WeGrow talks about educating people “from birth to death.”

It isn’t clear yet how all this will be funded, though the funds may come directly from the Neumanns. The company is still working on tuition and hopes to make the school “accessible” to a broad swath of parents through a sliding scale based on income, a spokesman said. Private school tuition in New York City can soar past $30,000 a year. WeWork hasn’t decided whether the school should be a nonprofit, either.

A certified yoga teacher and former actress, Neumann sometimes teaches a yoga or drama class herself in the pilot program. The kids learn to cook and do mindfulness and meditation exercises.  Neumann sees the job as “raising conscious global citizens” who “understand what their superpowers are … and use these talents and gifts to help each other and help the world.”

And if entrepreneurial parents need to travel for several months? Take the whole family along, Neumann said, looking ahead to her international vision. There, as in New York, the kids will be just a staircase away.

In her own family, she said, “there are no lines” between work and life or home and office. “My kids are in the office. I’m doing what I love, he’s doing what he loves, they are observing that, and they are doing what they love.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Musk Wants to Build a Rocket That Will Get You Anywhere on Earth in an Hour – Trending Stuff

Entrepreneur Elon Musk, who has long dreamed of creating a human colony on Mars, is planning to build a new rocket ship code named “BFR” capable of traveling anywhere on Earth in under an hour.

If the concept becomes reality, Musk said a journey from New York to Shanghai can be done in about 30 minutes. The surprise announcement means that his Space Exploration Technologies Corp., which has already disrupted the aerospace industry with reusable launches, plans to ferry humans not just to distant planets but across this one as well, setting up a potentially competitive challenge to the commercial airline industry.

Elon Musk in Adelaide, Sept. 29.

Photographer: Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images

“If we are going to places like Mars, why not Earth?” Musk said Friday at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia. Toward the end of Musk’s highly technical presentation, animation played on a big screen behind him, showing scores of people getting on a high-speed ferry in New York, then boarding the BFR on a platform in the water. The spaceship then travels to Shanghai in roughly half an hour.

“Fly to most places on Earth in under 30 mins and anywhere in under 60,” Musk wrote in an Instagram post after he’d left the stage without taking questions. “Cost per seat should be about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft. Forgot to mention that.”

Read more: All about Elon Musk — a QuickTake explainer

With many commercial satellite operators as customers, the revenue from those contracts will help fund the development of the BFR, which would be capable of carrying satellites to orbit, crew and cargo to the International Space Station, and complete missions to the Moon and Mars, said Musk. He said the BFR would contain 40 cabins capable of ferrying roughly 100 people at a time.

Red Dragon

Musk, 46, has a net worth of roughly $21 billion and has said in the past he’d use his own personal assets to help fund his vision. He first detailed his Mars plans in a talk at the IAC in Guadalajara, Mexico, a year ago and later published a paper about it, generating enormous excitement but raising concerns it included few details on financing. Musk promised his Twitter followers this summer that his updated Mars plan would address the lack of payment details — which he called “the most fundamental flaw” in his first take.

Previously, Musk had talked about sending an unmanned “Red Dragon” spacecraft to Mars in 2018. That plan, as well as the spacecraft, has been shelved. The new plan calls for the first BFR to land on Mars in 2022, followed by crewed missions in 2024.

Musk, who’s also CEO of electric-car maker Tesla Inc., founded SpaceX in 2002 with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. The closely-held space exploration company currently flies the Falcon 9 rocket for customers that include NASA, commercial satellite operators and the U.S. military. The Hawthorne, California-based company also has plans to launch its own satellite network.

Drone Ships

The cost of a Falcon 9 launch is roughly $62 million, according to SpaceX’s website, with modest discounts available for contractually committed, multi-launch purchases. SpaceX’s rockets are designed for reuse, with rocket reusability now seen as key to making space travel affordable. SpaceX celebrated its first launch using a previously flown booster in March and regularly recovers the rocket’s first stage on land or on “drone ships” at sea.

SpaceX has completed 13 launches so far this year and has several missions on its manifest, including back-to-back launches slated for October 7th and October 9th. Musk said the first test flight of Falcon Heavy, a far more powerful rocket capable of heavy payloads and sending paying space tourists on a flight around the moon, will occur “hopefully towards the end of the year,” but that date has already slipped several times.

It appears that the BFR, which is in development, would ultimately replace the Falcon 9, the Falcon Heavy and the Dragon spacecraft, which currently ferries supplies to the International Space Station.

Red Planet

Mars is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Mars exploration got an enormous boost in August 2012, when NASA’s Curiosity Rover landed on the Red Planet. The robotic vehicle continues to transmit breathtaking, high-resolution photographs of the dune-and butte-filled landscape to the delight of scientists and Curiosity’s 3.8 million Twitter followers.

Still, human colonization of Mars won’t be easy. Getting there will take several months, with unknown risks to the human body and psyche. Even if space explorers survive the 155 million-mile journey and subsequent first-ever manned landing, they would need to get to work immediately to create a habitable atmosphere, find water and produce the fuel needed to propel the rocket ship homeward. And Musk is famous, in part, for his aspirational timelines.

“SpaceX is in the business of making the impossible possible,” said Phil Larson, a former space policy adviser to President Barack Obama who worked for SpaceX and is now at the University of Colorado-Boulder. “Using the same principles, and diverse funding approach, that have taken them from their first launch 9 years ago to where they are today, it makes this seem within the realm of possibility.”

Musk has a busy agenda while in Australia. Later Friday, he will attend a Tesla Energy event at a wind farm. Tesla is selling its lithium ion batteries to utilities eager to find ways to integrate renewables like solar and wind with their electric grids.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/