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Facial recognition can speed you through airport security, but there’s a cost – CNET

Facial recognition can speed you through airport security, but there’s a cost – CNET
A woman's face appears on a screen while an airport official stands close by.

A station manager for Swedish airline SAS ushers a boarding passenger through the process as officials at Washington Dulles Airport.


Bill O’Leary/Getty Images

In the not too distant future, you could walk into the international terminal of almost any US airport and board a plane without showing anyone your passport. 

At the check-in counter, you’d pose in front of a camera that scans your face and sends your image to a remote system that matches it to a stored copy of your passport photo. You’d have your photo taken again at the security line, and again at the gate. If everything still matched up, you’d be on board, quietly warring with your seat mate over the armrest.

facial-recognition-promo

This is part of a CNET special report exploring the benefits and pitfalls of facial recognition.


James Martin/CNET

Part of that automated future has already rolled out. The US Customs and Border Protection program, called Biometric Exit, includes a face-matching system and is used at departure gates in 17 airports in the US.

And that’s just the start. The agency plans to have the system scan 97 percent of all outbound international travelers by 2021. Airlines and the Transportation Security Agency also are testing facial recognition cameras throughout airports, meaning you might someday be able to travel without interacting with another human being at all.

“US Customs and Border Protection is changing the face of travel with its cloud-based facial biometric matching service,” the agency says in a pamphlet explaining the technology. “This matching service is envisioned to replace the need to manually check paper travel documents by providing an automated identity verification process everywhere a traveler shows their travel document across every step in the travel continuum.”

There may be no more dramatic example of the tension between convenience and privacy inherent in facial recognition than the prospect of giving up your identity to clear through security faster. That benefit, after all, comes at a cost. Academic research has shown that facial recognition algorithms have error rates that vary depending on a person’s race or gender, meaning some groups could face extra screening more often than others. The technology can be used without your knowledge. And the unalterable data that facial recognition systems collect — an image of your face — raises concerns that your movements can be tracked over the course of your life if the records are kept indefinitely.

CBP says facial recognition technology has the potential to make travel both more convenient and more secure because it creates a digital template that’s unique to you. Machines are getting faster at matching faces and, CBP says, do a better job than humans do. What’s more, the program follows facial recognition efforts rolling out in other countries, including Australia.

But critics say CBP has already pushed — and possibly broken — the boundaries of the US law. One specific complaint: The technology has debuted in airports without being subject to a public comment period.

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The potential for multiple government agencies to track you using facial recognition is real, says Jeramie Scott, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. In recently released documents his organization obtained, CBP noted that other government agencies with an interest in the photos of foreign nationals gathered at airports are Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the US Coast Guard.

“When you create the infrastructure for widespread use of facial recognition, people will find additional ways to use it,” Scott said.

CBP says the program isn’t intended for surveillance and was implemented in accordance with the law. US citizens can opt out, and the agency doesn’t keep their images long term.

How it works

The system is designed to be a snap: The airport or airline you’re flying with takes your picture at the gate, sending the encrypted image to CBP’s Traveler Verification Service system, which runs on a cloud server. There, CBP’s face-matching algorithm confirms that the person in the image is the same one that’s in your passport photo.

The system does this by creating a biometric template based on the passenger’s photograph. The template is a set of measurements of the size and shape of features, like eyes, and the distance between features, like your nose and upper lip. The system compares that template to a preloaded gallery of passenger photos, pulled from passports and other sources.

Facial recognition 101: Everything you need to know about face-matching tech

Airlines including JetBlue, British Airways and Delta, along with organizations that run airports in cities like Miami and San Jose, California, have already partnered with CBP to implement the system. The airlines or airports own the cameras and take passenger photos. In Atlanta, Delta Air Lines has introduced facial recognition checks throughout its international terminal in partnership with CBP and TSA.

CBP says it keeps photos of US citizens in the Traveler Verification Service system for 12 hours, and photos of noncitizens for 14 days. It also sends photos of noncitizens to the US Department of Homeland Security IDENT database, which stores information for 75 years on visitors to the US.

The airlines and airports aren’t allowed to keep copies of the photos and must immediately purge them from their systems, according to CBP. However, they’re allowed to use other photos they take with the same cameras for commercial purposes. That means they could take a second photo and use it in their own facial recognition system to target ads to you.

Airlines and airports are required to tell CBP if they plan to use photos for commercial purposes. So far, none has. JetBlue and Delta said separately that they don’t have plans to use facial recognition for commercial purposes, and added that their cameras capture images only when a passenger stands in front of the camera and actively triggers the scan. A spokeswoman for Mineta San Jose Airport says it only facilitates the CBP program and doesn’t have access to the photos.

Legal authority

The program has raised questions about its legality. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other organizations say there’s no law that allows CBP to collect biometric information on US citizens, regardless of how long it’s stored. What’s more, they say, the agency’s choice to use facial recognition, rather than biometrics like fingerprints, is unnecessarily invasive.

CBP says a number of laws allow it to gather biometric information. For example, the law that established the Department of Homeland Security, CBP’s parent agency, gives it the authority to use technology to get all the data it needs for the biometric entry and exit program.

Congress first ordered the collection of biometric data from foreign nationals entering and exiting the country in 1996. It ordered the creation of a biometric entry-exit program in 2002 and authorized funds for it in 2016. However, privacy law experts point out that while some of the laws CBP cites apply specifically to noncitizens, none of them explicitly references situations involving citizens.

“US citizens have been conspicuously absent from the statutory text of every law under this program for the last 14 years,” according to a 2017 report by the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy & Technology.

If a US citizen opts out of the Biometric Exit program, the passenger can have his or her travel documents and passport checked by an airline employee, CBP says. If something doesn’t check out, the airline can ask a CBP officer for assistance.

A woman stands in an airport boarding gate in front of a kiosk with two screens showing a photo of her face.

A passenger steps up to a new biometric facial recognition scanner at Washington Dulles Airport.


Bill O’Leary/Getty Images

Agencies like CBP typically go through a rule-making process to explain how new programs implement the underlying law and get feedback from the public. That hasn’t happened with the Biometric Exit program.

In a proposed rule, CBP wants to require US citizens to submit to facial recognition both at boarding and re-entry to the US.

Simply asking people whether they’re citizens before requiring them to submit to facial recognition would lead to people lying, CBP says. The agency says that biometric facial recognition is more accurate than humans checking passport photos against a person’s face, so it’s better at catching people traveling fraudulently with US passports. The system caught three imposters at Washington Dulles Airport in a period of 40 days, according to CBP.

Error rates

Academic studies have shown that some facial recognition algorithms are less accurate for some groups of people depending on their skin color and gender. One study found that commercial facial recognition products from companies like Amazon and Microsoft had higher error rates for black women. Others were more likely to give false negatives to white men, according to research from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

A false negative — the algorithm incorrectly says your face doesn’t match your photo — has the potential to make travel more inconvenient for legitimate passengers. It would be unfair for some groups of people to face additional screening more often than others, advocates say.

“We’re talking about something that discriminates based off of what you look like,” said Mana Azarmi, policy council at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Without oversight, it would be hard to know whether the system has higher error rates for some groups of people. CBP is working with NIST and the DHS Science and Technology Directorate to monitor problems, the agency says. CBP hasn’t revealed its false negative or other error rates, or how they affect different groups. CBP told Buzzfeed that it confirms 98.6 percent of passengers who go through the Biometric Exit system.

Face forward

Even if CBP had full legal authority to collect biometric information from all passengers before they leave the country, privacy advocates think facial recognition isn’t the right biometric to collect.

That’s because facial recognition can be conducted without targets realizing it. The technology doesn’t require physical contact, as fingerprints do, and it’s progressing so that low-quality photos taken from the side are sufficient to identify someone. Once people realize that facial recognition is unavoidable at airports, they may become discouraged from traveling and taking part in political activity, like the 2017 protests in US airports against travel bans, advocates say.

In a November report on the program, CBP said the system is preferable because passengers experience it as being less invasive than fingerprints.

But perception isn’t what matters, said Neema Singh Guliani, a senior legislative counsel at the ACLU.

“These are programs that have such an extreme effect on people’s rights,” she said, “and a process that’s not transparent.”

Originally published March 21 at 5 a.m. PT.

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9 home goods Amazon’s store brand, AmazonBasics, carries for less — from $200 memory-foam mattresses to $45 Dutch ovens

9 home goods Amazon’s store brand, AmazonBasics, carries for less — from $200 memory-foam mattresses to $45 Dutch ovens

cupcake molds


Amazon

The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

  • AmazonBasics is the e-commerce behemoth’s store brand — that means lots of great products at low prices.
  • We’re particularly fond of the AmazonBasics home goods line, which has a robust selection ranging from furniture to flatware.
  • We rounded up nine of AmazonBasics’ best home goods to help you save some money on items you might be buying anyway.

By now, you’ve probably heard of AmazonBasics.

AmazonBasics is Amazon’s version of a store brand where you can find low-cost, generic versions of popular products. While finding specific products on Amazon can sometimes be a maze, the AmazonBasics section is particularly well-organized, making it easier to find what you need. And then, of course, there are the great prices that really make this section worth checking out, and coming back to — especially so if you’re a Prime member who can take advantage of Amazon’s free two-day shipping, and dozens of other Prime perks.

Whether it’s a big piece of furniture or a small kitchen gadget, AmazonBasics offers a robust selection of quality home basics for great prices. Below, we rounded up some of the best low-cost home goods we’ve found on the site.

Read more: I tested out furniture from Amazon’s private-label brands, and the quality is surprisingly comparable to my higher-end furniture


Amazon

Enamel Cast-Iron Dutch Oven, 6 quarts, $44.99

This colorful enamel Dutch oven bears resemblance to the premium Le Creseut pot. You may wonder how this affordable piece actually stacks up in the kitchen — judging from its 4.7-star rating and accompanying customer reviews, users are loving this budget buy.

A set of cookware essentials


Amazon

15-Piece Non-Stick Cookware Set, $46

This collection — which includes six pots and pans and five serving utensils — makes a great starter kit to outfit a new kitchen. You really get your bang for your buck here with a total of 15 pieces for just $46.

A practical surge protector


Amazon

3-Outlet Surge Protector with 2 USB Ports, $9.99

As we acquire more and more pieces of technology to charge, our regular amount of outlets just won’t cut it. That’s why surge protectors and power strips are great — they help you maximize the use of a single outlet, while making sure everything is safe — and worth having a few extra on hand.

A plush memory foam mattress


Amazon

A basic vegetable spiralizer


Amazon

3-Blade Spiralizer, $14.68

Ease in to the spiralizing trend with this affordable gagdet. It has three different blades to help you turn veggies into noodles of all different shapes.

A set of convenient baking mats


Amazon

3-Piece Silicone Baking Mat Set, $14.99

Instead of using cooking sprays, grease, or parchment paper for your next baking bout, try out these silicone baking mats. They’re oven-safe and non-stick, making cleanup a breeze.

A set of colorful, reusable baking cups


Amazon

12-pack Reusable Silicone Baking Cups, $7.99

If you find yourself baking muffins and cupcakes often, swap out the typical paper baking cups for these reusable silicone ones instead. They can save you money in the long run, not to mention they come in a range of adorable bright colors.

A set of simple white washcloths


Amazon

24-Pack Cotton Washcloths, $15.99

Since they’re used so frequently, washcloths can get dirty pretty quickly, especially white ones. That’s why buying a bulk pack is a great idea. Amazon customers say this pack is a solid value with its low cost and durability, giving it 4.6 out of 5 stars overall.

A comfortable office chair


Amazon

Mid-Back Mesh Chair, $59

An office chair like this one usually costs $100 or more. You can adjust its height, swivel around, and tilt back just like with the more expensive models.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Business Insider’s Insider Picks team. We aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting, and if you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners, including Amazon. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Email us at insiderpicks@businessinsider.com.

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Plane tickets to Hawaii could be 30% cheaper when Southwest Airlines launches flights (LUV)

Plane tickets to Hawaii could be 30% cheaper when Southwest Airlines launches flights (LUV)

Southwest Airlines Hawaiian first flight

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800 at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

Southwest Airlines

  • Southwest Airlines completed its first validation test flight to Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport earlier this month.
  • The Dallas-based low-cost carrier is expected to launch flights to Hawaii this year.
  • According to a recent analyst note from Morgan Stanley analyst Rajeev Lalwani, Southwest’s entrance into the Hawaiian market could see ticket prices fall by more than 30%.

Earlier this month, Southwest Airlines completed its first validation test flight to Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Aiport. It’s an important part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s certification process that would allow the world’s largest low-cost airline to begin service to Hawaii.

According to a recent analyst note from Morgan Stanley’s Rajeev Lalwani, Southwest’s entrance into the Hawaiian market could have a drastic effect on air travel within the state and for flights to the continental US.

Read more: People are finding hidden cameras on some American Airlines and Singapore Airlines planes. Here’s what that’s about.

“What we found is that a likely 10%+ capacity addition on North American routes at introductory fares from a low-cost carrier may lead to fares that are 30%+ lower versus today,” Lalwani said in the note.

Morgan Stanley’s analysis is based on the data that shows the current price for a one-way flight from California to Hawaii is around $200 while Southwest’s rumored promotional fares for similar flights could be priced at $140.

Southwest Airlines has a history of shaking up the market for air travel. So much so that there’s a term for it — The Southwest Effect.

In 2017, researchers at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business published a study that found when Southwest Airlines enters a market with nonstop flights, fare prices fall an average of 15%. At the same time, the number of people flying increases by 28% to 30%.

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President Trump drops into Ohio amid feud over iconic GM plant in Lordstown – USA TODAY

President Trump drops into Ohio amid feud over iconic GM plant in Lordstown – USA TODAY

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President Donald Trump is not backing down from his longstanding criticism of the late Senator John McCain. Trump declared Tuesday at the White House: “I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be.” (March 19)
AP

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will travel to Ohio on Wednesday amid a Twitter feud with General Motors over an iconic auto plant that threatens to undercut his manufacturing message in the politically consequential Buckeye State.

Making the first of two trips this month to Midwestern battlegrounds, Trump is expected to tout the nation’s economy and low unemployment during a tour of a tank plant in Lima, Ohio, before addressing supporters at a fundraiser in Canton in the evening.

The president is also set to hold a rally in Michigan next week.  

Even as Trump talks up success in some quarters of the economy, he is likely to face questions about the Lordstown plant, where the last Chevrolet Cruze rolled off the assembly line this month. GM announced last fall it was closing the plant, affecting about 1,500 jobs. 

“Sadly, it’s the perfect image for Trump’s lies and his policies,” said John Weaver, a Texas-based GOP consultant who worked for former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican and frequent Trump critic. “The fact that he raised the hopes of not just that community but people across the Midwest and is unable or unwilling to make it happen will come back” to haunt him. 

Trump feuds with GM 

Trump, who frequently criticized GM during the campaign for closing plants, returned to the theme with a series of posts on Twitter over the weekend as the last gasps of the Lordstown plant, which opened in the 1960s, grabbed national headlines.  

“Get that big, beautiful plant in Ohio open now,” Trump wrote on Sunday. “Close a plant in China or Mexico, where you invested so heavily pre-Trump, but not in the U.S.A. Bring jobs home!”

Trump frequently plays up what he has described as a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing, an industry whose workers were a key consistency of his 2016 election. But his administration has had to wrestle with several high-profile setbacks. 

Trump said in November that he spoke with GM CEO Mary Barra about plant closings, saying he was “very tough” and that “we have a lot of pressure on them.”

In January, an executive at Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group said the company might not follow through on plans – frequently touted by Trump – to build a flat-screen display factory in Wisconsin. Though Foxconn has since said it will make screens there next year, it has not provided specifics about its investment. 

U.S. manufacturing jobs have been steadily increasing since 2010 but are still well below the peak reached in the 1970s. There were 12.8 million U.S. manufacturing jobs in February, according to Department of Labor data, up from 11.4 million in 2010. There were more than 19.5 million manufacturing jobs in 1979.

GM feud: President Trump attacks GM, UAW over plans to close Lordstown plant

Daniel Ujczo, a Columbus-based attorney who specializes in international trade, said Trump’s policies have been a mixed bag in Ohio.

“I think the president has a great deal of support for taking an aggressive stance on China,” Ujczo said. “However, other policies such as the steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico are having a negative effect on the auto industry here and all of the manufacturing industry in Ohio.”

The tariffs have caused the price of steel to skyrocket in the state, said Ujczo, who also serves as president of the Ohio-Canada Business Association.

Buckeye battleground 

As attention increasingly shifts to the 2020 presidential election and a bevy of Democrats ramp up campaigns, polls show Trump’s support in Ohio has slipped.  

Since taking office in 2017, Trump’s net approval rating in Ohio has dropped 19 percentage points, according to nonprofit polling firm Morning Consult. The “net approval rating” is the gap between an approval rating and a disapproval rating.

The president won Ohio by 8 percentage points in 2016, and Republicans in the state – including Gov. Mike DeWine and Rep. Troy Balderson – won several competitive races in the 2018 midterm election despite large wins for Democrats nationwide. 

Ohio: Trump will visit Ohio. Do Ohioans still like him? Not as much as they used to

“Ohio is a microcosm of the president’s political strengths as well as some of the challenges he continues to face,” said longtime GOP strategist Kevin Madden, who worked as an aide to former House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio when Boehner was the House majority leader.

That includes a strong base of support with many working class voters in the state who  feel as though their voices are “finally being heard when it comes to getting tough on China’s trade practices,” Madden said. But Trump’s tariffs are also having a negative impact on other sectors, including the automotive industry and agriculture. 

“He has some leeway with his base voters for now,” Madden said. “But if these tariff policies continue to hurt growth and impact jobs, a slight shift in support could put Ohio in play.” 

Contributing: Scott Wartman, Cincinnati Enquirer, and David Jackson, USA TODAY. 

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This Is the Living Wage You Need in All 50 States

This Is the Living Wage You Need in All 50 States

oneinchpunch / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Making a livable wage can be a lifelong struggle. The mounting costs of housing and basic necessities can quickly add up, leaving you scraping to make ends meet rather than saving and building wealth. And depending on where you call home, that situation can be considerably worse.

That’s why GOBankingRates conducted a study to identify the annual living wage needed to live comfortably in each of the 50 states, revealing that even if you’re comfortably middle class in one region, that doesn’t mean you won’t be living paycheck to paycheck in another.

Not to be confused with the minimum wage, we define the “living wage” as the income you need to cover necessary and discretionary expenses while still contributing to savings. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the 50/30/20 budgeting rule — which allocates 50 percent of your income to necessities, 30 percent to discretionary expenses and 20 percent to savings — the study found what you would need to earn to comfortably cover your basic needs while still saving for the future. But the results reveal that the average salary in your state might not be enough to do just that.

Alabama

Annual Living Wage: $60,016

Alabama is among the least expensive places in America to live — in part thanks to median housing costs of just $8,612 a year — but earning a median wage in the state would still leave inhabitants of the Yellow Hammer State $13,544 short of a living wage.

Click to See: This Is How Much Middle-Class Families Earn in Every State

Alaska

Annual Living Wage: $91,996

Life near the Arctic Circle comes at a cost, with the cost of necessities in Alaska clearing $45,000 a year. That means you would need nearly $92,000 a year to still have half your wages left over for savings and luxuries.

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Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Arizona

Annual Living Wage: $68,504

Arizona’s cost of living is just 2.3 percent below the national average so that living wage is very close to what the average rate is nationwide. That said, the median household income in Arizona remains just under $15,000 short of that.

Arkansas

Annual Living Wage: $59,461

Arkansas is another state where your dollar can stretch the furthest, with a cost of living that’s over 10 percent under the national average. Many residents of the Razorback State, though, are still struggling to hit that as the average household income is just $43,813 — the second-lowest in the country and nearly $14,000 less than the average American income.

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@iStock / iStock.com

California

Annual Living Wage: $99,971

The nation’s most populous state is also among the most expensive, with a living wage translating to just about six figures if you’re planning on following the 50/30/20 rule. Even for a state with an average annual income of $67,169, those are costs that are hard to bear.

Did You Know? The Middle Class Is Thriving in These 20 Cities

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milehightraveler / Getty Images

Colorado

Annual Living Wage: $74,215

Life in the Rockies is just a little more expensive than elsewhere — about 4.5 percent more, to be specific — but the state’s residents appear to be in better shape than most to deal with it. The difference between the median income and the living wage is just $8,757, making it one of just 17 states where that gap is under $10,000.

Connecticut

Annual Living Wage: $90,278

Connecticut’s relatively high cost of living means you would need to earn at least $90,000 to cover the average cost of necessities with half your salary. A big chunk of that ends up going to housing, with an average annual bill of $18,485 for Connecticut residents.

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aimintang / Getty Images

Delaware

Annual Living Wage: $71,254

While Delaware residents enjoy costs that are generally very close to the average nationwide, they are paying 12 percent more for their groceries than the average American, translating to an annual bill of nearly $5,000.

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SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Florida

Annual Living Wage: $67,614

Although the cost of living in Florida is actually a hair under the national average, the median income in the Sunshine State isn’t quite so sunny at just over $50,000 a year. That leaves a gap of over $16,000 between the typical annual salary and a living wage. Still, Florida is considered one the best states for the middle class.

Georgia

Annual Living Wage: $62,074

Georgians likely have an easier time making ends meet than most. Their cost of living is below the national average, and while the median income is also relatively low, it’s still “just” $9,097 away from a living wage.

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sorincolac / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hawaii

Annual Living Wage: $136,437

Hawaii is the most expensive state in the country, mostly due to housing costs that run more than triple the national average at about $36,000 a year. As such, despite a median income of nearly $75,000 a year, the typical Hawaiian is still over $61,000 short of a living wage — the largest such gap in this study.

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vkbhat / Getty Images

Idaho

Annual Living Wage: $66,486

Idaho is another state that comes in under the national average for its cost of living, but also has a relatively low median salary for residents to create a large gap between what you need to earn and what people are actually earning. The end result is a median salary that’s more than  $15,000 short of a living wage.

Illinois

Annual Living Wage: $66,847

Not only are costs lower than the national average in Illinois, but residents there are also earning a median salary of $61,229. That puts the average income just $5,618 below the living wage, among the 10 lowest levels in the study.

Indiana

Annual Living Wage: $62,086

Indiana is a relatively cheap place to live, with a cost of living that’s just short of 10 percent below the national average. And while that still leaves them with a higher living wage than what the median Hoosier is earning, Indiana is among those states where the gap is under $10,000.

Iowa

Annual Living Wage: $63,397

Iowa can boast relatively low costs of living — including housing costs that are almost 11 percent below the national average at just $9,552 per annum. That adds up to a median salary that’s just $6,827 short of the annual living wage for the state.

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Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Kansas

Annual Living Wage: $62,090

Kansas wraps up a trio of Midwestern states where low median salaries are offset by low cost of living and puts a living wage in reach for many. With a median salary of $55,477, the typical Jayhawk falls just $6,613 short of a living wage.

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f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Kentucky

Annual Living Wage: $63,086

While Kentucky has a low cost of living that’s largely in line with states like Kansas, Illinois and Iowa, the median salary of just $46,535 is much lower, leaving a $16,551 gap to a living wage despite below-average costs.

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f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Louisiana

Annual Living Wage: $63,842

Much like Kentucky, Louisiana has low costs but also lower wages. A median salary in the state is just $46,710, so while residents might be paying almost 15 percent less for housing than the average American, they’re also more likely to be struggling to afford it.

Maine

Annual Living Wage: $80,336

Residents of Maine are much more likely to be struggling with higher costs than the rest of the country. The annual living wage of over $80,000 is among the highest in the country, but the median income there is on the lower side at just $53,024. That leaves a whopping $27,312 gap between a median salary and a living wage, one of the largest in the study.

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Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Maryland

Annual Living Wage: $92,227

Maryland’s living wage of over $90,000 is among the highest in the country. However, many Marylanders can likely take solace in having the earnings to cover it: With a median annual salary of $78,916 — the nation’s highest — the typical earner is just over $13,000 short of a living wage.

Massachusetts

Annual Living Wage: $93,895

Massachusetts residents can expect that the cost of their basic necessities will run a full third higher than the national average when totaled, leaving a sky-high living wage of $93,895. And while it’s a state of high earners, the median income of $74,167 is still nearly $20,000 short of being able to fit those costs into a standard 50/30/20 budget.

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DenisTangneyJr / iStock.com

Michigan

Annual Living Wage: $67,712

Michigan is another state in the “low costs but low wages” category, with a cost of living that’s about 10 percent under the national average but a median annual salary of just $52,668. That means that earning a midlevel salary in Michigan still puts you just over $10,000 a year short of a living wage.

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Gian Lorenzo Ferretti Photograph / Getty Images

Minnesota

Annual Living Wage: $68,944

The term “Minnesota Nice” generally refers to its cordial residents, but it could also be talking about the nexus of decent wages and affordable costs in the state. While cost of living there is slightly higher than the national average — by just 1.5 percent — the median annual salary of $65,699 is just $3,245 short of a living wage.

Mississippi

Annual Living Wage: $58,321

Mississippi has the lowest cost of living in the country. But before anyone starts throwing any reasonably-priced parties, it also has the lowest median income in the nation at just over $42,000 — that results in a gap of over $16,000.

Click to See: Best and Worst States for Families to Live a Richer Life

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JByard / iStock.com

Missouri

Annual Living Wage: $60,858

Residents of the Show Me State might earn less — with a median annual income of $51,542 — but they’re also living somewhere where a dollar goes further. With a cost of living more than 10 percent under the national average, your typical Missourian is just less than $10,000 a year short of a living wage.

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constantgardener / Getty Images

Montana

Annual Living Wage: $70,719

Some residents of the Big Sky State might grumble that it could just as easily be called the “Big Cost of Living State,” with average annual housing costs that exceed $13,000. That leaves a nearly $20,000 gap between the median annual income of just over $50,000 a year and the average annual living wage.

Nebraska

Annual Living Wage: $65,162

While the median annual salary of $56,675 might mean that the typical Cornhusker isn’t exactly rolling in the dough, it’s closer to a living wage than in most states because of a lower cost of living. With annual average housing costs just over $10,000 — about 12 percent under the national average — a median earner is just $8,847 short of a living wage.

Nevada

Annual Living Wage: $75,902

Nevada is a relatively expensive state where residents don’t appear to be earning enough to cover costs. All told, that living wage of $75,902 means Nevada is one of the eight states where the median income is $20,000 or more less than the living wage.

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New Hampshire

Annual Living Wage: $74,415

While the cost of living in New Hampshire drives up its living wage to nearly $75,000 a year, the state also has a lot of residents with higher incomes, leading to a median salary of over $70,000 a year. The resulting gap between the two of just $3,110 is among the lowest in the study despite those high costs.

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New Jersey

Annual Living Wage: $86,244

The annual cost of living in the Garden State is more than 20 percent higher than the rest of the country as a whole, but that also comes with higher wages in the state, where a median income is a whopping $76,475. So, despite a living wage over $85,000 a year, the typical resident is still within $10,000 of that mark.

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DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

New Mexico

Annual Living Wage: $63,629

It doesn’t cost as much to get by in New Mexico, but the state’s very low median income — just $46,718 — means most residents are still probably struggling to make ends meet. That median salary is nearly $17,000 short of a living wage.

New York

Annual Living Wage: $95,724

After Hawaii and California, no state is as expensive to call home as the Empire State. And while the median salary there is a healthy $62,765, the $32,959 gap from there to a living wage is second only to Hawaii and Oregon.

If You Have Less: 20 Best Places to Live on Only a Social Security Check

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Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

North Carolina

Annual Living Wage: $64,406

Tarheel State residents have significantly lower housing costs than most — costing them under $10,000 a year on average. However, despite this, a low median income in the state leaves the typical resident earning $14,086 less than they need for a living wage.

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DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

North Dakota

Annual Living Wage: $69,085

The annual cost of living in North Dakota is just slightly below the national average, but with a median annual salary north of $60,000 a year, the state’s typical resident is just $7,800 short of a living wage.

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Ohio

Annual Living Wage: $63,204

Ohioans are facing a similar story as many other states in the study: low costs, but not low enough based on what most residents are earning. The median income for the Buckeye State is just $52,407, meaning the average resident is nearly $11,000 short of what they need by year’s end.

Find Out: Best Places in Every State to Live on a Fixed Income

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Oklahoma

Annual Living Wage: $60,318

Housing costs in Oklahoma are very low — just $8,874 on average — contributing to very low overall costs. However, with a lower median income, that leaves many Sooners still coming up short. The gap from the median salary to the living wage is still over $10,000 a year.

Oregon

Annual Living Wage: $93,285

While Hawaii’s astronomical gap of over $60,000 between its median salary and its living wage is No. 1, the state of Oregon comes in second at $37,166. Housing costs are among the largest culprits, with the average Oregonian needing over $20,000 a year to secure a roof over their heads.

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f11photo / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pennsylvania

Annual Living Wage: $68,581

Pennsylvania boasts a cost of living that’s just below the national average, including housing costs that are almost 7 percent below the typical national rate at $11,074 a year. Still, the median salary in the Keystone State is $11,630 less than the living wage.

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Rhode Island

Annual Living Wage: $83,942

Unfortunately for Rhode Islanders, living in the smallest state appears to also necessitate living in a pretty small place. Housing costs there are over 40 percent higher than the national average, costing the typical resident nearly $17,000 a year. That’s a big part of why a living wage is over $20,000 more than the median salary there.

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South Carolina

Annual Living Wage: $65,953

While South Carolina is just a little below the national average for its cost of living, the median annual salary in the Palmetto State is low enough that a living wage is still over $17,000 higher than what the average South Carolinian makes.

South Dakota

Annual Living Wage: $67,657

The average annual housing costs in South Dakota of $11,954 are just a 0.5 percent higher than the national average, part of an overall cost of living that’s just 1.5 percent below the national rate. That said, with a median income of just $54,126, residents are still $13,351 short of a living wage, on average.

Tennessee

Annual Living Wage: $60,682

The gap between the median income and the $60,682 living wage in Tennessee is just under $12,000, but that’s driven more by lower wages than higher costs. The overall cost of living in Tennessee is 10.5 percent below the rest of the country.

Texas

Annual Living Wage: $63,469

Texas boasts one of the lower divides between its median income and living wage at just $6,148. One major driver is the low cost for securing housing there, coming in at just over $10,000 a year. Luckily, there are several Texas cities where you can live making less than $50,000 a year.

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f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Utah

Annual Living Wage: $67,807

The $2,482 that separates the $67,807 living wage in the Beehive State from its $65,325 median income represents the third-lowest gap between those two figures in this study.

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Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Vermont

Annual Living Wage: $83,878

Living in New England can get expensive, and the Green Mountain State is another example of this. With a cost of living nearly 20 percent higher than the country as a whole, the annual living wage is over $25,000 higher than the state’s median income.

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Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Virginia

Annual Living Wage: $69,886

While the cost of living is slightly higher than the national average in Virginia, the state’s high earning power helps contribute to making it the second most affordable place to live in this study. With just $1,120 separating the median income from the living wage, the typical Virginian appears equipped to handle their annual costs.

See: 12 Cities With High Salaries and Low Costs of Living

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canadastock / Shutterstock.com

Washington

Annual Living Wage: $77,207

While life in Washington is pretty expensive when compared to the rest of the country, salaries are as well. With the median income in the state reaching $66,174, the gap between that and a living wage is just over $11,000 a year despite a cost of living nearly 10 percent over the national average.

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Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

West Virginia

Annual Living Wage: $62,635

West Virginia’s median annual salary of $44,061 is lower than every other state save Mississippi and Arkansas. So, while the cost of living there is relatively low, a living wage is still some $18,574 more than the typical salary.

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Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Wisconsin

Annual Living Wage: $67,667

Wisconsin’s relatively low average annual housing costs — $10,539 — help drive the overall cost of living lower. Still, that living wage ends up being nearly $11,000 more than the state’s median salary.

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Wyoming

Annual Living Wage: $61,788

Wyoming tops the list for states that put a living wage within reach of its residents. With an overall cost of living that’s just under 10 percent below the national average and a median annual salary of $60,938, the average Wyoming resident is just $850 shy of what they need to get by.

Click through to read more about the cities where you can afford to live off less than $60,000.

More on Making Money

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GOBankingRates surveyed annual living expenses in all 50 states, using the 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey (latest available) data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The itemized costs of living evaluated were housing, groceries, utilities, healthcare and transportation, collectively termed “necessities.” Based on each state’s respective cost of living index for each item, sourced from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center’s 2018 Cost of Living Data Series, the study calculated the annual cost of each necessity and summed them up for total annual expenditure on necessities. Using the 50/30/20 budget rule, which allocates 50 percent of income for necessities, the study doubled the total annual expenditure on necessities in order to determine the “living wage” in each state. “Living wage” is defined as the income required to be able to cover 50 percent necessities, 30 percent discretionary/luxury spending and 20 percent for savings.

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Bay Area’s High Cost Of Living Squeezes Restaurant Workers, Chefs And Owners

Bay Area’s High Cost Of Living Squeezes Restaurant Workers, Chefs And Owners

Every morning at around 5 a.m., Armando Ibarra wakes up in the back of his van. He has been living there for the past couple of years. On his dashboard rests a holy candle. A rosary hangs from the rearview mirror.

Ibarra walks over to his job at a chain hotel near San Francisco’s airport. He says that at least he can wash up there. “I take a shower, drink my coffee, smoke a cigarette and ready to work.”

Armando Ibarra, a hotel restaurant worker in San Francisco, lives out of his van to save money — and to avoid an hours-long commute from San Jose, Calif. A holy candle rests on his dashboard; a rosary hangs from the rearview mirror.

Jasmine Garsd/NPR


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Jasmine Garsd/NPR

Armando Ibarra, a hotel restaurant worker in San Francisco, lives out of his van to save money — and to avoid an hours-long commute from San Jose, Calif. A holy candle rests on his dashboard; a rosary hangs from the rearview mirror.

Jasmine Garsd/NPR

The hotel restaurant where Ibarra works as a food runner boasts creative, artisanal and healthy meals. People in the San Francisco Bay Area are known for being foodies (the city now has the most Michelin three-star restaurants in the U.S.).

But behind kitchen doors, tension has been stewing for years: Service-industry workers like Ibarra say they can no longer afford to live in the Bay Area on their wages. And restaurant owners say the high cost of living has made it hard to retain staff and even to stay in business.

Restaurants Cook Up A New Way To Pay Kitchen Staff More: A Cut Of Sales

The Bay Area is notoriously expensive. As the tech industry grows, rents have soared. A one-bedroom apartment costs well over $3,000 a month. The minimum wage just went up to $15 an hour, but the cost of living also keeps rising.

Ibarra makes around $15 an hour. He used to commute from neighboring San Jose, one of the most expensive cities in the United States. He paid $800 a month for a room, but just slept there.

When traffic was bad, the drive back from work could take as much as three hours. “You would go bumper-to-bumper, bumper-to-bumper sometimes. You get crazy,” Ibarra says.

California Chef Aims To Help Restaurant Workers Prevent Suicide

He considered renting near work. But he couldn’t afford it. He figured he was already spending as much as four hours a day in his vehicle, so he might as well just sleep there.

The plight of low-wage workers like Ibarra is affecting the restaurant business. Just last year, several high-profile eateries shut down. One of them was Camino, known for its wood-fired cuisine. Co-owner Allison Hopelain says the restaurant took a major hit when its chef moved to Seattle because he couldn’t afford to live in the Bay Area.

The Stark Racial Divide In Pay For Restaurant Workers

“[He] felt like he would have better opportunities there in terms of opening his own place, buying a home,” Hopelain says. She says things started unraveling when he left. Last year, after about a decade in business, Camino closed.

Hopelain went on to open The Kebabery in Oakland. It’s a small, cafeteria-style joint. You just pick your food and find a table. She says it’s a much more affordable business model, but she also thinks it’s what a lot of customers want.

Decades ago, eating out was a special occasion, but these days Hopelain says people want to grab a quick, affordable bite of good food and head back to their lives.

Allison Hopelain, owner of The Kebabery in Oakland, Calif., says the cafeteria-style restaurant reflects the changing tastes of customers who now want to grab a quick, affordable meal and head back to their lives.

Allison Hopelain/Courtesy of The Kebabery


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Allison Hopelain/Courtesy of The Kebabery

Allison Hopelain, owner of The Kebabery in Oakland, Calif., says the cafeteria-style restaurant reflects the changing tastes of customers who now want to grab a quick, affordable meal and head back to their lives.

Allison Hopelain/Courtesy of The Kebabery

A few minutes north of Oakland, Peter Levitt says his restaurant, Saul’s, with waiters, hosts and food runners, is part of a dying breed. “Your old diners with booths and breakfast and lunch table service — it’s over,” he says.

Saul’s, a Jewish deli, is a landmark in Berkeley near the University of California campus. Professors and locals hold meetings in the cozy booths over bagels, blintzes, smoked fish and warm matzo ball soup.

Peter Levitt, owner of Saul’s, a Jewish deli in Berkeley, says that as the minimum wage and housing prices climb, “the menu prices have to go up, because you have to pay more to retain your labor force.”

Emunah Hauser/Courtesy of Saul’s Restaurant & Delicatessen


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Emunah Hauser/Courtesy of Saul’s Restaurant & Delicatessen

Peter Levitt, owner of Saul’s, a Jewish deli in Berkeley, says that as the minimum wage and housing prices climb, “the menu prices have to go up, because you have to pay more to retain your labor force.”

Emunah Hauser/Courtesy of Saul’s Restaurant & Delicatessen

Saul’s was established in the 1980s, and Levitt has seen a change in the cost of living here unfold before his eyes. With workers getting pushed out of the Bay Area, he says, “we’ve seen our staff coming from further and further away.” One of his cooks sleeps at his extended family’s house nearby, on workdays, to shorten his commute.

Levitt says Saul’s might have to adapt to the changing times. “As minimum wages go up, and particularly as housing prices go up, the menu prices have to go up, because you have to pay more to retain your labor force,” he says. “And at some point maybe there won’t be enough clientele out there to pay the cost of table service to sustain this kind of restaurant.”

Some restaurants in the area are even turning to automation. Located in San Francisco’s Financial District, Creator offers burgers created by local celebrity chefs.

But the burgers are made by a giant robot that slices the brioche bun, grates the cheese and cuts the tomatoes. The end result: a $6 burger.

The burger-making robot at Creator, an automated restaurant in San Francisco.

Aubrie Prick/Courtesy of Creator


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Aubrie Prick/Courtesy of Creator

The burger-making robot at Creator, an automated restaurant in San Francisco.

Aubrie Prick/Courtesy of Creator

Alex Vardakostas grew up flipping patties at his parents’ restaurant, a burger joint in a little California surf town. He says the robot can flip burgers better, and more cheaply.

“The only way you can make a burger of this kind of quality at that price is using a device that’s going to grind meat to order. It’s going to slice the tomato to order, slice the bun to order,” Vardakostas says.

Fad Or The Future? Robot-Made Burgers Wow The Crowds In San Francisco

Meanwhile, at the hotel restaurant where Ibarra works, a burger costs about $20.

“You know, even when I get the discount, that’s too much,” he says.

He says he usually just goes to Burger King or Taco Bell or stops by a gas station to eat before heading back to his van to sleep.

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Tired of waiting on new AirPods? Here’s three low cost alternatives

Tired of waiting on new AirPods? Here’s three low cost alternatives

With AirPods seemingly in a holding pattern and a 2019 launch inevitable but unconfirmed, there’s growing interest in looking at alternatives to Apple’s in-house earbuds. We’ve looked at a number of third-party alternatives that range in price from sub-$50 to $150. The latest reports seem to be pointing towards a new release from Apple this year. Those looking to upgrade now are left to examine the market for an answer. Head below for our three favorite low cost AirPod alternatives.

When will new AirPods be announced?

That’s the million dollar question at this point. The latest intel seems to point to a fall release date, likely coinciding with the next generation iPhone. Much like predicting a release date, identifying a price also seems to be difficult at this point. Head over to our roundup of the latest AirPods rumors and more to find out everything we know at this point.

Low cost AirPod alternative: JLab JBuds

We recently reviewed JLab’s new JBuds truly wireless earbuds, a $49 low cost AirPod alternative. While its design may not strike the same chords as Apple, the price sure is hard to beat. Our hands-on testing revealed up to 14 hours of battery life when the case is accounted for. However that pales in comparison to AirPods which sport 24 hours total. Overall, we found them to be a solid budget-friendly alternative to AirPods and Amazon customers have largely agreed.

Anker Liberty Air Earbuds

Mid-range AirPod alternative: Anker Soundcore Liberty Air

Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Airs arrived on the scene earlier this year with perhaps the most Apple-esque design we’ve seen to date. At $80 you’re paying a bit of a premium overall in comparison to the JLab option above, but will be rewarded with up to 20 hours of battery life. Liberty Air also delivers a host of touch sensitive controls that rival what AirPods offer. This includes playback, volume, Siri control and more. We loved them in our hands-on review and early Amazon reviews have been positive as well.

Smart AirPod alternative: Jabra Elite 65t

There’s a lot to like about Jabra’s $140 Elite 65t truly wireless earbuds. This includes a sleek design and up to 20 hours of battery life. Plus, they are made for activity with a two-year dust and water-resistant warranty. Additionally, built-in Alexa functionality brings a unique level of features that may be intriguing for some dedicated to that smart home platform. And let’s face it, Alexa is ahead of Siri in a number of ways.

Are you holding out for Apple’s new AirPods? Or have you found an alternative instead? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

Trevor Daugherty’s favorite gear

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Can we ever evaluate technical debt?

Can we ever evaluate technical debt?

Every couple of months, I talk to an entrepreneur who is interested in building a marketplace for buying and selling app businesses (i.e. the actual IP and ownership of an app or other piece of software). These markets always seem to suffer from a lack of liquidity, and one reason why is that it’s really hard to know how much technical debt is latent in a codebase.

First, the developer behind the codebase may not even be aware of the technical debt they have piled on. Second, until a software engineer really understands a codebase, they are almost certainly not in a position to answer a question on technical debt authoritatively. That makes it hard to get third-party opinions on anything but the most simple codebases.

This opaqueness isn’t unique to software though. We lack tools for understanding the maintenance quality of assets — physical or digital — across our economy. Even when we do perform maintenance or hire someone to do it for us, it can be hard to verify that the work was performed well. How long does it take for an auto mechanic to truly evaluate the maintenance of a used car?

You’re reading the Extra Crunch Daily. Like this newsletter? Subscribe for free to follow all of our discussions and debates.

I was thinking about this challenge of evaluating maintenance when I read this deep dive into the economics of old housing by Akron’s head of planning, Jason Segedy:

It has been suggested to me, on more than one occasion, that indebted, college-educated Millennials could be lured back to the city by selling them these old, poorly-maintained houses for $1.00, and having them “fix up the house.”

People who say this do not have a realistic idea of what “fixing up” an old house entails—neither in terms of the scope of the rehabilitation work that would be required, nor in terms of the level of skill, time, and/or money needed to do the work.

Even in a low cost-of-living market like ours, $40,000 houses are generally not a “good deal.” They are almost always a liability. They are a ticking time bomb of deferred maintenance. They are an albatross.

In his own case:

All told, I have spent $93,400 on improvements to this house over the past 15 years. This works out to an additional $502 per month, above what I was paying in mortgage, taxes, and insurance. When you add all of that together, the total monthly cost works out to $1,439.

[…]

The total monthly cost for the brand-new house? $1,444. Which comes out to exactly $5.00 per month more than my 72-year-old house.

Maintenance is the secret challenge of any asset, physical or digital. We have been talking about the Tappan Zee bridge here a bit this week, and maintenance played an outsized role in forcing New York to spend even more money on a new bridge. From Phil Plotch’s book Politics Across the Hudson:

However, he also recognized that the Authority probably put less money into the bridge after it decided to replace it. “When maintenance folks know that a capital project is under design and will soon deal with the problems they have been battling for years,” he said. “They often back down a bit and turn their attention and resources to other areas.”

That didn’t work out so well:

One of the reasons the Thruway Authority wanted to build a new bridge in the late 1990s was to avoid replacing the bridge’s deck. However, the environmental review process took so long that the authority had to spend $300 million dollars to do exactly that anyway — after five-foot-wide holes started opening up along the length of the bridge.

Back in the software world, we have gotten much better about quantifying test coverage over the years, but we still seem to lack any means by which to evaluate technical debt. And yet, technical debt from my limited experience is hugely determinative on how fast product features can be launched.

It would be hugely helpful to have some sort of reasonably accurate grading system that said “this codebase is really up-to-date and clean” versus “this codebase is radioactive and run away from it.” Right now, so much of product engineering seems to be making decisions in the dark and discovering software quagmires. There has to be a better way.

Why we can’t build anything? (Part 5?)

Image from Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit

Written by Arman Tabatabai

We’ve been obsessed with the infrastructure crisis in the U.S. lately and the question of “Why can’t we build anything?” In case you thought the California HSR shitshow was an isolated incident, think again.

Construction Dive provided some more details around the DOJ’s subpoena of the Honolulu High-Speed Rail Project (Honolulu Rail Transit) last week, which ordered the project leads to open up their books. Just like in California, after decades of debate, Hawaii’s project has been plagued by delays and cost overruns. Today, the project holds an estimated cost of around $9-10 billion, compared to initial estimates of $3-4 billion, and some academics and industry specialists are even saying that number is more like $13 billion-plus. The court order came just after a state-led audit found that much of the cost overruns could be tied to poor contracting, planning and management practices — just as in California.

Given the similarities here, it’s possible we could see the federal government try and pull back the $1.6 billion it had earmarked for the project if it doesn’t like what it sees. Despite calls for infrastructure improvement, the feds seem to be taking a tougher stance on the use of fed funds for these projects.

Construction Dive also highlighted that the $650 million renovation of Denver International Airport’s Jeppesen Terminal was delayed indefinitely after operators found structural deficiencies in the concrete. Sound familiar? Maybe it’s because in just the last year we’ve seen “structural deficiencies” mar SF’s Transbay Terminal project and DC’s Metrorail extension. Denver’s reclamation project is expected to cost $1.8 billion in its entirety and is a year behind schedule after breaking ground less than nine months ago.

India’s general election might also determine Facebook’s future in the region

Westend61 via Getty Images

Written by Arman Tabatabai

India’s Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology announced it would be meeting with Facebook in early March to discuss “safeguarding citizens’ rights on social or online news media platforms.” The government has approached social media with a cautious eye ahead of the country’s huge upcoming elections, as concern over the use and misuse of social and messaging platforms in global elections becomes a hot-button issue.

The topic came up in our recent conversation with The Billionaire Raj author James Crabtree. He believes the election will be a hugely important period for social platforms in India. Having experienced a number of major historical scandals, India’s citizenry has a fairly harsh — albeit somewhat selective — view on corruption, and Crabtree believes that if Facebook or others were to face blame for any alleged misconduct, the potential fallout from a political, regulatory and public opinion standpoint could be devastating.

The prospect of such an outcome becomes even more alarming for foreign social companies as India has ticked up focus on data localization and movements towards a “national champion” policy that will increasingly favor domestic firms over external players.

I love triangulation negotiation

The trade kerfuffle between China and the U.S. is sort of just continuing at a glacial pace. Literally glaciers, because Greenland got involved over the past few months. Greenland power politics is very far afield of TC, but I wanted to point out one little nuance that offers a worthwhile lesson.

Greenland has wanted to upgrade its airports for some time (there are no roads between major cities in the sparsely populated but huge country). But Denmark, which Greenland is a constituent country, has rebuffed those requests; that is, until the Chinese got involved. From a WSJ article:

After Kalaallit Airports short-listed a Chinese construction firm to build the new airports, Denmark conveyed its alarm to the Pentagon. After Mr. Mattis got involved, Denmark’s government asked a consortium led by Danske Bank to help assemble an alternative financing package.

Officials in Greenland were pleasantly surprised by the terms. “Even Chinese funding is not as cheap as this,” Mr. Hansen said.

Plus this quote:

“He was not into it at all—until the Chinese showed interest,” said Aleqa Hammon, Greenland’s former prime minister, speaking of [Danish Prime Minister] Rasmussen.

This is how you negotiate! Get two larger adversaries lined up on either side of the line, and just start going back and forth between them. This works with Google and Facebook, Sequoia and Benchmark, or any other competitors. At some point, the game isn’t just a deal, it’s also the face-saving that comes from not losing to the competition.

Japan joining the trend of looser fundraising rules for growing companies

Written by Arman Tabatabai

Earlier this week, we talked about how security exchanges around the world were looking to loosen fundraising rules for young companies. The softening of these rules might be indicative of a wider trend, with Japan now proposing revised rules to make it easier for startups to fundraise through traditional brokerages and trade shares of listed companies. While the motivation here may not be to attract IPO deals like it seems to be in the U.S. and China, with the creation of more funding alternatives and with companies opting to stay out of the public markets for longer, national securities industries seem to be trying to brand themselves as the best venue for young companies to grow.

Obsessions

  • More discussion of megaprojects, infrastructure and “why can’t we build things?”
  • We are going to be talking India here, focused around the book “Billionaire Raj” by James Crabtree, who we just interviewed and will share more soon.
  • We have a lot to catch up on in the China world when the EC launch craziness dies down. Plus, we are covering The Next Factory of the World by Irene Yuan Sun.
  • Societal resilience and geoengineering are still top-of-mind.
  • Some more on metrics design and quantification.

Thanks

To every member of Extra Crunch: thank you. You allow us to get off the ad-laden media churn conveyor belt and spend quality time on amazing ideas, people, and companies. If I can ever be of assistance, hit reply, or send an email to danny@techcrunch.com.

This newsletter is written with the assistance of Arman Tabatabai from New York

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Use credit card rewards to help your love life — here’s how to do it

Use credit card rewards to help your love life — here’s how to do it

Love is priceless, but the right credit card helps too.

Disclosure

Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

By Hannah L. Rounds

Match and eharmony may have changed how 21st century couples meet, but a healthy love life still depends on spending time together. The thing is though, these dates often cost money. And when you’re on a budget, or simply looking to up your date night game, the right credit card can give you a much-needed boost. 

SEE ALSO: The best dating sites to find a connection this weekend

What credit card is the best for your love life? It all depends on your goals. Looking to earn rewards for a night on the town? There’s a credit card for that. Want to book a romantic getaway using hotel points or miles? You can find a credit card for that, too. Credit cards even offer perks that can help you book impossible dinner reservations or exclusive experiences.

Not sure what the best credit card is for your love life? We’ve rounded up the eight best credit cards for every stage of your relationship.


$200 worth of Uber ride credits each year • 60,000 point sign up bonus when you spend $5,000 on the card in the first three months • $200 in statement credits for airline expenses like checked bags or in-flight purchases • 5 points for every dollar spent on flights when booked through American Express Travel • 5 points for every dollar spent on prepaid travel when booked through American Express Travel

Yearly fee of $550 per year

If you and your love have VIP tastes and a VIP budget, The Platinum Card will help you find winning experiences. Plus it’s great for earning extra points on flights and hotels.

1. Platinum Card® by American Express

Great for earning extra points on flights and hotels, the best part of this card are the VIP perks — Uber, Coachella, Wimbledon, and more.

  • Pricing:
    Card must be paid in full each month. No foreign transaction fees. Late fee up to $38.

Want to wow your special someone with a peak experience? Credit card perks like exclusive seats (paid for with credit card reward points) may be the ticket to your date’s heart. 

Several brands including Chase, Citi, and American Express offer rewards cards that include perks like discounts on entertainment, preferred seating, and more to cardholders. But the

Platinum Card® by American Express

will help you dazzle a lover with a once in a lifetime experience.

People who hold the Platinum Card are eligible for American Express’s “By Invitation Only” experience passes. With this access you can buy VIP access to Coachella, or seats at center court for the Wimbledon tennis tournament. More perks? Cardholders get $200 worth of Uber ride credits each year (perfect for transporting your date) and a 60,000 point sign up bonus when you spend $5,000 on the card in the first three months.  You’ll also get statement credits for airline expenses like checked bags or in-flight purchase, not to mention access to The American Express Global Lounge Connection.



Earn 20,000 sign up bonus points (worth $200) when you spend $1,000 in your first three months • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees • Earn 10 points for every dollar you spend on select hotels

Interest rates on the card can soar to nearly 25% • Cashback rewards on everyday spending are low (1.25 points per dollar spent) • Capital One decides whether the card is a Visa Signature card (whch comes with the wine country perks) or just a typical Visa card

When nothing sounds better than a getaway to Sonoma, the VentureOne card is the best card for you. You’ll know you’re saving money on your tastings while you bond with the one you love.

2. VentureOne® from Capital One®

Find huge discounts at over 50 wineries around Sonoma County and pay no annual fee.

  • Pricing:
    0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months that your account is open. After that, rates increase to 14.24-24.24% 3% balance transfer fee Up to $38 late payment fee.

Imagine sipping wine and strolling through a Sonoma vineyard on a romantic getaway. If a tour through wine country sounds like the perfect way to spark your love life,

the VentureOne® from Capital One®

may be a great choice for you. In many cases, when you receive a

VentureOne

credit card with more than a $5,000 limit you’ll be eligible for Visa Signature benefits.

What does that mean for oenophiles and their romantic partners? With the VentureOne credit card (or other credit cards labeled Visa Signature or Visa Infinite) you can find huge discounts at over 50 wineries around Sonoma County. For example, you can buy one standard tasting and receive a complimentary tasting for free. You may also have savings on wine, reserve tasting, or wine and food pairings at certain wineries.

Earn 20,000 sign up bonus points (worth $200) when you spend $1,000 in your first three months with the card. On top of that, the card comes with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.



4% cashback rewards on all your dining out and entertainment expenses • 2% cashback rewards on groceries • $500 sign up bonus when you spend $3,000 in your first three months • Free monthly subscription to Postmates Unlimited • Annual fee waived the first year

Only 1% cashback on most categories • Interest rates up to 25.74% • $95 annual fee

Earn money during date night. Just be sure to pay off the card in full each month: The rewards aren’t worth a nearly 25.74% interest rate.

3. Savor® Rewards from Capital One®

Earn 4% cashback rewards on all your dining out and entertainment expenses.

  • Pricing:
    Annual fee $95 (waived the first year) Interest rates range from 16.74-25.75%.

Just getting to know a new partner? The classic dinner and a movie date is classic for a reason: it’s a great, low-pressure way to get to know someone new. Whether your budget is Applebee’s and a $2 movie matinee or Aquavit and a Broadway premier, you may as well earn cashback rewards for your spending. 

The best card for cashing in on dinner and a show is

Savor® Rewards from Capital One®

. With the Savor card, you’ll earn 4% cashback rewards on all your dining out and entertainment expenses. 

The cashback isn’t the only reason to use the Savor card. Cardholders gain exclusive access to hard-to-book reservations at top restaurants in New York City, Washington D.C., and Austin. These nearly impossible-to-book dining experiences are sure to wow your partner.

The Savor card isn’t just ideal for dining out, though. If you and your sweetheart have upgraded to intimate home cooked dinners for two (or a rotisserie chicken and a bottle of wine from Trader Joes), you’ll earn 2% cashback on all your grocery purchases. If you’re not skilled in the kitchen, you can also enjoy free Postmates delivery when you order with your Savor card. That’s right, the Savor card entitles you to free monthly subscription to Postmates Unlimited through December 2019.



30,000 point sign up bonus when you spend $3,000 in three months • Earn three points for every dollar spent on eating out, ordering in, gas, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, homestays, car rentals, and streaming services • No annual fee • 0% APR for 12 months

Interest rates as high as 27.24% after 12 months

Not every couple needs to spend time at clubs, shows, and bar-hopping. As long as you pay off the Propel in full each month, this is the perfect credit card for the couple that enjoys nothing more than Postmates, Netflix, and time alone (together).

4. Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

The card that rewards you and your beau for staying home and ordering takeout.

  • Pricing:
    No annual fee 0% APR for 12 months 14.74-27.24% APR after 12 months No foreign transaction fees.

Are you and your partner grannies at heart? Have you been claiming to be “practically 40” since you were 22 years old, just so you could avoid going out to bars? Couples don’t have to spend every moment out on the town to have a great love life. After a busy day of work, Netflix and chill sounds just right for some couples. And a weekend drive and hike in the mountains could be the ideal way for you to spend time with your partner.

With the

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card,

you can earn big rewards for the activities the two of you actually love. This card offers three points for every dollar you spend on ordering in (or eating out), streaming services, and gas. Cardholders also earn triple points on travel related activities like flights, car rentals, and hotels or homestays.

Best of all, this card that has no annual fee comes with a massive sign up bonus. When you spend $3,000 in the first three months, you’ll earn 30,000 bonus points. This translates to a $300 bonus which you can apply directly to your credit card statement.



0% financing for 15 months • $150 cash bonus • 1.5% cash back on all purchases

Interest rates jump after 15 months • Interest rates as high as 26.24%

Get help paying off the ring and get a $150 signup bonus and 1.5% cashback rewards to boot.

5. QuickSilver® from Capital One®

A 0% introductory APR, plus a $150 cashback bonus make this card a great option for paying down a big purchase.

  • Pricing:
    0% APR for 15 billing cycles (including balance transfers). No annual fee After 15 months. 16.24% to 26.24% APR

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” So goes Billy Crystal’s famous line from

When Harry Met Sally. 

Are you ready for the rest of your life to start right now? If the next step is popping the question, it’s time to start setting a budget for the ring. According to The Knot’s Jewelry and Engagement study,

the average couple spends over $6,000 on an engagement ring

. For average earners, it can take months or even years to save that kind of money. While engagement rings don’t have to be that expensive, even a more modest ring could cost more than you have in savings.

Paying cash for an engagement ring is a fiscally sound move, but if your love life can’t wait, a 0% credit card offer is the next best option. Don’t put the ring on a high interest credit card or a store’s expensive payment plan. Instead, look for a 0% introductory financing offer from a credit card. Right now, the

QuickSilver® from Capital One®

offers 0% financing for 15 months on all purchases. On top of that, you can earn a $150 cash bonus when you spend $500 in your first three months with the card. Plus you’ll earn a total 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Combining the money in your savings account with the 0% financing and the rewards from the QuickSilver card could help you pay off the ring before the wedding and the rest of your life together.



0% APR for 18 billing cycles • Free cell phone insurance (up to $600 with a $25 deductible) • Lower than average 3% balance transfer fee

Interest rate jumps after 18 months • No reward points

Getting yourself in financial shape may not be as fun as exotic vacations of dinners out. However, if you’re inching towards a long-term relationship (or already there), almost nothing is as sexy as paying off credit card debt. Just be sure that you pay off the whole balance within 18 months, or your interest rate will jump up again.

6. U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

Everyone looks better naked when they’ve paid off their debt.

  • Pricing:
    0% APR for 18 billing cycles. 14.74-25.74% APR after 18 months. 3% balance transfer fee. No annual fee.

While expensive, splurge-worthy events may help you woo a partner, financial stability looks sexiest in a long-term relationship. In a lot of cases, the best way to flame your love life is to pay off high interest debt. Need a little boost to pay that debt off faster? A promotional 0% balance transfer can help you transfer high interest debt to a low interest card. That way, every dollar you throw at the debt goes straight towards paying it off instead of going towards interest.

Looking to impress your beau by becoming fiscally fit? The right credit card can help. Right now, the

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

offers an introductory 0% APR on all balance transfers for 18 billing cycles. You only have to pay the 3% balance transfer fee, and then you have a year and a half to eliminate all your high interest debt. Just remember, the interest rate goes up at the end of 18 months, so take the debt repayment seriously.


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This $20,000 chicken coop is more beautiful than your house

This $20,000 chicken coop is more beautiful than your house

Designed by the Istanbul-based architecture firm SO?, this coop was custom built at a total cost of $20,000 for an artist’s farm where it can house 800 chickens. Its materials may be humble: Oak plywood trusses support oxidized metal panels and a corrugated metal roof. Yet, the inverted A-frame building manages to look like some amalgamation of angularly ostentatious Googie architecture and low-profile traditional Japanese housing.

[Photo: Ali̇ Taptik/courtesy So?]

When I mention to the architects that this chicken coop is actually more beautiful than many regular houses I’ve seen, they stiffly correct me. “Actually the structure is not beautiful, it is super functional,” writes Sevince Bayrak, partner at SO?, over email. “If you check out the attached section diagram, there is a very functional reason for every geometrical decision.”

For a larger version click here. [Image: courtesy So?]

Indeed, Bayrak is right.

The roof angle maximizes the building’s shadow to keep chickens cool when they’re standing outside. The wall panels can be easily removed to expand the structure over time. Even the V-shaped frame holding it all together serves multiple purposes beyond structural support. Angling walls maximizes surface area for chickens to nest, and it creates a stadium seating arrangement that allows the chickens to poop without pooping on one another. Manure is collected into a central chamber, mixed with ash, and then heated to keep the coop warm.

It’s a lot packed into such a simple-looking structure, but that’s by necessity. “It is much easier to design for humans since humans can much more easily adapt to different conditions and scales,” writes Bayrak. “The chickens have very powerful habits. If you can’t provide the spatial conditions for their habits in an artificial environment, they simply die or stop producing eggs.”

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