Mark Meadows Just Took an Enormous Risk. Will It Pay Off?

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty/Handout

Mark Meadows, the former Trump White House chief of staff, really wants to make a federal case out of his indictment in Fulton County, Georgia.

Meadows wants out of the Fulton County court so badly that on Monday, he took the enormous risk of testifying in his own criminal trial and subjecting himself to cross-examination by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.

Meadows’ longing for federal court may seem puzzling because switching is but a change of courthouses. In federal court, Meadows will face the same charges, under the same state laws (including the Georgia RICO Act), brought by the same prosecutor.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Facebook apps: A guide to the different services under the Meta umbrella

Threads is the latest Meta app to launch.

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook is the oldest platform under the Meta umbrella.
The company has also acquired Instagram and WhatsApp.
This year Meta launched Threads, a competitor of X (formerly known as Twitter).

In October 2021, Facebook became Meta, with the goal of the rebranding being to better reflect the company’s focus on the Metaverse. However, the platform called Facebook did not get a name change. Facebook.com and the Facebook app are still called Facebook.

Meta currently has three main platforms under its umbrella, including Facebook itself. Each of Meta’s applications is targeted at different user needs. Here’s how they break down.

Facebook

Facebook is by far the oldest platform under the Meta umbrella and, indeed, was what Meta was originally named after. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg nearly two decades ago in 2004. It’s grown to be among the largest social networks to exist, with over two billion active monthly users. 

While most social media users from the early 2010s and prior started on this platform, over the past few years Facebook’s user demographics have been publicly perceived as having shifted, largely skewing to older people.

Facebook Messenger

Originally a part of the Facebook app itself on all platforms, Messenger is now a standalone app. The private messaging app for mobile devices exists as a secret option for those using desktop computers and laptops in places where the Facebook domain may be blocked.

Through Facebook Messenger, you can privately message with other users and even take part in group messages. Some Facebook users opt to use Messenger as a way to communicate with their relatives who are still active on the platform.

Instagram

Instagram is a photo- and video-based social network that was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in 2010. It quickly grew to over a million users just two months after the launch of its iOS app. Two years later, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock.

At the time of acquisition, Instagram had fewer than 17 employees but quickly grew to 1,500.

For the first years of its existence, the platform catered mostly towards picture-based content, allowing for shorter text descriptions without the features found on Facebook, such as internal links. However, the platform has pivoted throughout its history.

In 2016, Instagram adopted Instagram Stories for short-form media content that expires after 24 hours. The move was seen as following on the success of disappearing content on Snapchat.

When TikTok rose to prominence, Instagram pivoted once again. This time, the platform launched Reels in response. Reels allow for short-form video content reminiscent of TikTok. Ironically, a major use for Reels is the resharing of content originally posted to TikTok.

While TikTok saw a boom in short-form video content throughout the pandemic, that success has not entirely rubbed off on Instagram’s Reels. According to a 2022 internal report, Reels engagement has lagged far behind that of TikTok.

In terms of demographics, Instagram is still a favorite with younger audiences. According to a Piper Sandler survey in 2021, approximately 80% of teenage respondents reported using Instagram compared to 27% using Facebook.

Threads

Threads is the newest social network to reach mainstream popularity, benefitting from its tight integration with Instagram.

You need an Instagram account to sign up, which has allowed users to essentially migrate their followers from Instagram.

Threads grew at a remarkable speed, surpassing 100 million users in the days following its initial launch, according to estimates from data-tracking platform Quiver Quantitative. The growth rate surpassed that of viral app ChatGPT.

Whereas Facebook is targeted toward longer form content and is shifting to older demographics, Threads is designed to compete with the juggernaut of short-form text-based content that is X (formerly called Twitter). 

As Paris Marx wrote for Insider last month, Threads is lacking some of the key features normally expected of a social network in 2023, such as private messaging.

WhatsApp

In many parts of the world, WhatsApp is part of people’s daily routines. The Meta-owned app is easily one of the most popular messaging services out there, though it’s less frequently used in the United States than it is in other countries.

Meta, then known as Facebook, acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014 in a deal two years in the making.

WhatsApp was one of the first mobile apps to offer free, internet-based messaging, Insider previously reported.

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Former Judge Rips Trump Lawyers for ‘Stunningly Stupid’ Move

CNN

A retired California Superior Court judge on Monday criticized attorneys for former president Donald Trump over a “stunningly stupid” argument they made in a court filing while trying to push their client’s Washington, D.C. criminal trial over the Jan. 6 insurrection all the way to 2026—an effort that ultimately failed.

Appearing on CNN’s The Source, LaDoris Hazzard Cordell told anchor Kaitlan Collins that it was inappropriate for Trump’s attorneys to reference the landmark 1932 Supreme Court decision Powell v. Alabama, in which the court said that a defendant who is charged with a serious crime “must not be stripped of his right to have sufficient time to advise with counsel and prepare his defense.” In its decision at the time, the court reversed the rape convictions of nine Black men, saying they did not get a fair trial—one which began only six days after they were indicted.

“What the Trump team did was say that, well, what happened in that trial is what could happen here in this trial, which was absolutely absurd,” Cordell said. She added that the defendants in the rape trial, known as the Scottsboro Boys, were not properly informed that they could even choose their own lawyers.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Eminem is teaching Vivek Ramaswamy not to mess with the real Slim Shady, sending a cease-and-desist letter to get the presidential candidate to stop rapping his music on the campaign trail

Eminem (left) and Vivek Ramaswamy (right).

Theo Wargo via Getty Images; Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Vivek Ramaswamy’s days as a rapping presidential candidate may be over.
Ramaswamy’s campaign received a request from rap star Eminem to stop using his music.
Ramaswamy has previously said that Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” was his life’s theme song.

Rap legend Eminem wants the GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy to stop rapping to his music on the campaign trail.

Music licencer BMI sent a cease-and-desist letter to Ramaswamy’s campaign, asking them to stop using the rapper’s songs, according to a copy obtained by the Daily Mail and CNN.

The letter, sent on August 23, said BMI has “received communications from Marshall B. Mathers, III, professionally known as Eminem, objecting to the Vivek Ramaswamy campaign’s use of Eminem’s musical compositions.”

Ramaswamy was seen rapping to Eminem’s hit song “Lose Yourself” at the Iowa State Fair on August 12. The track was a single Eminem dropped in 2002 for the movie “8 Mile.”

Ramaswamy told The Harvard Crimson in 2006 that “Lose Yourself” was the theme song of his life. 

Ramaswamy used to perform under the stage name Da Vek — his rapper alter ego — while at Harvard. He was a warm-up act for Busta Rhymes when the rapper performed at Harvard in 2004

Tricia McLaughlin, Ramaswamy’s campaign spokesperson, told CNN they will comply with Eminem’s request to stop using his music. 

“Vivek just got on the stage and cut loose. To the American people’s chagrin, we will have to leave the rapping to the real Slim Shady,” McLaughlin told CNN.

But it looks like Ramaswamy himself isn’t particularly upset with Eminem’s request.

“Will The REAL Slim Shady Please Stand Up? He didn’t just say what I think he did, did he? @Eminem,” Ramaswamy quipped in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday. 

In February, Ramaswamy announced his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination. The biotech entrepreneur has styled himself as a conservative firebrand, and differentiated himself from a crowded field of candidates after his breakout performance at the GOP debate last week. 

Ramaswamy is not the only politician who’s gotten into trouble for using Eminem’s music.

In 2014, the New Zealand National Party used a version of “Lose Yourself” in a campaign advertisement. Eminem later filed a copyright infringement suit against the party and they were asked to pay more than $400,000 to Eminem’s publisher

Eminem, however, did allow Joe Biden to use “Lose Yourself” in a campaign advertisement for the 2020 presidential elections. Eminem also promoted the advertisement in a post on X

—Marshall Mathers (@Eminem) November 2, 2020

 

Representatives for Eminem, Ramaswamy, and BMI did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider sent outside regular business hours.

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Google Flights says the best time to book your flights for Christmas is 71 days before departure

Google Flights says the best time to book flights for Christmas is 71 days before departure

Getty Images

The best time to book your flights for Christmas is around 71 days before your departure, per Google.
That’s a big change from 2022 when Google said the best time to book Christmas flights was 22 days before departure.
US-Europe flights hit their lowest fares 72 days or more before departure, it said.

The best time to book your flights for Christmas is around 71 days before the departure day, according to Google’s analysis of its historical data of US flights. 

That means booking flights between October 13 and October 15 to snag the best deals for travel between December 23 and December 25. 

The company shared this data as part of its announcement of Google Flights’ new “cheapest time to book” feature on Monday. It analyzed average airfares on Google Flights between 2018 and 2023 for the top 4,000 US markets.

Moreover, the best time to book US-Europe flights is 72 days or more before departure, the company said.

These estimates are a big change from the company’s recommendations in 2022 when it said the best time to book Christmas flights was 22 days before departure. At the time, it also said the best time for booking US-Europe flights was 50 days or more before departure.

Google Flights’ new feature adds to its current travel insight tools which show if prices are cheaper or more expensive than average for the search, as well as a new pilot program for price guarantees making up the difference if the fare drops.

The US Travel Association predicts the total number of domestic trips in 2023 will surpass 2019 numbers, a first since the pandemic began. The association expects about 2.4 billion domestic trips will be undertaken in 2023, 70 million more than in 2019.

Moreover, the World Tourism Organization said in its 2023 outlook that it expects international tourist arrivals to reach 80% to 95% of pre-pandemic levels this year.

To be sure, the company has previously drawn flak for how its insights misrepresent the carbon footprint of a flight, according to climate experts. These experts told the BBC that Google Flights’ new methodology for calculating your flight’s footprint — introduced in 2022 — excludes many pollutants, meaning only half of a flight’s environmental impact is most likely shown.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider, sent outside regular business hours.

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Donald Trump Jr. Says Black Community Is ‘Weaponized’ by Democrats

Newsmax

In an appearance Monday on Newsmax, Donald Trump Jr. tried to depict his indicted father’s arrest and mugshot in Georgia as some sort of pivotal moment in the effort to win over the support of Black people, whom Democrats, he claimed, are trying to “weaponize.”

On The Balance, host Eric Bolling began by claiming that as a result of the arrest and mugshot, “the African American community—the Black community—is rallying behind Donald Trump.” This supposed turn of events, he said, was an unexpected “phenomenon.”

Trump Jr. agreed with Bolling’s argument, which has also been made several times over on Fox News by host Jesse Watters. He first pointed to the reception his father received while en route to the Fulton County Jail last Thursday night.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

A History Lesson for the Mega-Rich Bullies Bankrolling California Land-Grab

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/Wikimedia Commons

The Silicon Valley billionaires seeking to scheme and bully their way into building a utopian new city 50 miles northeast of increasingly dystopian San Francisco face a barrier that voters established to stop a similar project four decades ago.

Back in 1982, San Francisco real estate developer Hiram Woo real announced plans to establish Manzanita, a new city of 5,000 residents on an expanse of agricultural land in Solano County, California. He spoke of building 2,000 solar-powered homes surrounded by open space laced with walking and biking trails. He said there would be schools and shopping and recreation facilities.

But one thing Woo did not offer was a reason why Solano needed a city in addition to the seven that already existed in a county of ranchers and farmers, some of whom had been working the same land for generations.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Inside Matt Schlapp’s Offer to Settle the Sexual Battery Lawsuit Against Him

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

Embattled conservative activist Matt Schlapp made an offer in March to settle the multimillion-dollar sexual battery and defamation lawsuit against him, but the proposal was rejected, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The offer from Schlapp was in the low six figures, according to the sources. But Schlapp’s accuserRepublican strategist Carlton Huffman, who filed the lawsuit against Schlapp and his wife, Mercedes Schlapp, in January—turned it down and countered with a substantially higher sum. Schlapp did not accept the counterproposal, the sources said.

The settlement negotiations were brought to the attention of officials at Schlapp’s organization, the American Conservative Union, which hosts the annual CPAC conferences. But the ACU board was not formally consulted and did not vote on the offer ahead of time, according to multiple people with knowledge of the events. These sources spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of retaliation.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

5 Chinese brands have crept into your life and are flipping the narrative on Chinese-made goods

Tech installations in Shanghai.

VCG Getty Images

Some Chinese brands have managed to make it big overseas despite geopolitical sensitivities.
Such brands have even upset previous industry leaders to creep into the mainstream.
TikTok, Lenovo, and DJI are a few Chinese brands that have thrived outside China.

Some Chinese brands have upset previous market leaders in their fields.
Teachers and students use a plant-protection drone to spray insecticides on rice plants in Chongqing, China, on July 5.

CFOTO/Future Publishing/Getty Images

Chinese brands are going global, and some have already crept into the mainstream.

Some brands, such as Lenovo and Tencent, have even upset previous industry leaders and are now major players in their respective fields. 

The phenomenon is perhaps best exemplified by the short-form-video app TikTok, which is leading cultural trends and widely used among younger generations, despite geopolitical tensions between the US and China over user-data privacy.

While there may be some inherent bias about “made in China” products because of the country’s reputation as a low-cost manufacturer, a few companies have slain the image.

“These are companies which are generating very good value for the customers from a technology standpoint, and it’s unlikely that their position as a Chinese entity has anything to do with people’s perception,” Nirgunan Tiruchelvam, the head of consumer and internet equity research at Aletheia Capital, told Insider.

Chinese companies that have made it globally, Tiruchelvam added, are generally viewed positively as international companies.

But this status comes with huge investments into marketing and branding to overcome political sensitivities that may come with their Chinese ownership, he added. 

From social-media platforms to PC makers, here are five Chinese companies that have made it big outside China.

TikTok is at the forefront of cultural trends.
TikTok is subsidiary of Beijing’s ByteDance.

Mike Kemp

Company founded in: 2012; the TikTok app was launched globally in September 2017

Market share in 2022: 26% (US app revenue)

Competitors: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat

A wildly popular social-media platform, TikTok needs little introduction.

The short-video app has catapulted to the top of popularity charts in just a few years and is known for leading cultural trends.

In fact, Douyin — the Chinese version of TikTok — came in fourth in a ranking of China’s most valuable brands in 2022 from the analytics firm Kantar. It estimated Douyin’s value at $43.5 billion, up 12% from a year earlier.

In the US, Facebook still rules, with about 180 million users in 2022, Insider Intelligence wrote in a report published in April. However, Facebook’s user base has been relatively steady in the past few years as compared with TikTok’s explosive growth.

The number of US TikTok users rose from 35.7 million in 2019 to nearly 96 million in 2022 — far outpacing the 16% growth in the user base of Instagram — the second-fastest growing social-media platform, according to Insider Intelligence.

Both Douyin and TikTok are owned by Beijing’s ByteDance. TikTok’s main US office is in Los Angeles. 

Since the incredibly popular TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, it has come under scrutiny from American lawmakers in recent years over privacy concerns.

Despite this, there’s little doubt about the app’s cultural relevance, as it’s sparked trends from “bougie broke” to “lazy-girl jobs.”

Lenovo’s IBM acquisition is a case study in successful international mergers.
Lenovo bought IBM’s PC business in 2005.

Visual China Group/Getty Images

Company founded in: 1984

Market share: 24% in 2022 (global)

Competitors: HP, Dell, Apple

The world’s largest PC maker isn’t American — it’s China’s tech brand Lenovo.

In 2022, Lenovo shipped nearly 69 million PC units, cornering 24% of the global market share, according to Gartner, a research firm.

Lenovo overtook the US tech giant HP in overall PC shipments about 10 years ago and is now firmly in the top spot.

Founded in 1984 with quick growth in China, Lenovo bought IBM’s PC unit, the ThinkPad laptop, and the ThinkCentre desktop lines for $1.25 billion in 2004.

While there was some skepticism over the deal in 2005, with a JPMorgan Chase analyst calling it a “bold but risky move,” Lenovo made the merger work.

The Chinese leadership took a hands-off approach to the US company, and that kept the company moving forward, wrote Tim Bajarin, a tech consultant for Time magazine in 2015 .

Lenovo’s IBM acquisition is a case study in successful international mergers involving different cultures.

DJI is the world’s largest drone maker
DJI is headquartered in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

Adrees Latif/Reuters

Company founded in: 2006

Market share in 2022: Over 70% (global) 

Competitors: Parrot, Skydio, XAG

Founded in 2006 out of a university dorm, DJI is the world’s largest drone maker, with offices in the US, Europe, and Japan.

It released its first ready-to-fly drone, the Phantom 1, in 2013 and has gone on to produce drones for a variety of purposes, including filmmaking, agricultural seeding, and search-and-rescue operations.

In 2021, the company had a 76% market share of the global consumer- and commercial-drone market, according to Statista.

It’s so dominant in the toy-drone market that it has squeezed out its older competition — the French drone maker Parrot, founded in 1994.

In 2019, Parrot said it was exiting the toy-drone market to focus on commercial drones — a move observers attributed to stiff competition from DJI.

DJI is a private company, so it doesn’t publish its financial statements.

As a Chinese drone maker, DJI has come under scrutiny from US authorities amid tensions between Washington and Beijing. Customers include the everyday consumer and governments.

In 2020, the Commerce Department added DJI to an entity list that restricted US companies from exporting products to the drone maker.

The Treasury also placed investment restrictions on DJI in 2021, alleging that its drone technology was used to surveil Uyghur Muslims in China.

However, consumers in the US can continue to buy and use DJI drones. 

Tencent is the developer of “Honor of Kings” and “PUBG Mobile” video games.
Tencent is the world’s top video-game company by revenue.

Xing Yun / Costfoto/Future Publishing/Getty Images

Company founded in: 1998

Market share: 13.2% in 2021 (global, by revenue)

Competitors: Sony, Microsoft, NetEase

Forget Japan’s Sony and the US’s Microsoft. The biggest gaming company in the world is from China.

Tencent ranks among the behemoths in China’s tech scene. The trio of companies is so big that it has its own acronym — BAT: Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent.

Outside China, Tencent may not be a household name, but gamers would be familiar with its hit titles.

Tencent is the world’s largest video-game company by revenue and has been boosted by its games “Honor of Kings” and “PUBG Mobile.”  Both blockbusters are played by millions around the world.

In the first half of 2023, “Honor of Kings” raked in $766 million in mobile-game revenue, while its “PUBG Mobile” game brought in $344 million, according to data from Apptica, an analytics firm.

Other than games, Tencent’s businesses include the WeChat platform, which is ubiquitous in China. WeChat is a messaging app, a social-media platform, and a payments “superapp” that Elon Musk is trying to emulate with his X social-media platform, formerly known as Twitter.

Xiaomi is the third-largest smartphone maker, after Samsung and Apple.
Xiaomi is the third-largest smartphone maker.

Sajjad Hussain/AFp/Getty Images

Company founded in: 2010

Market share: 13% in the second quarter of 2023 (global)

Competitors: Samsung, Apple

The tech companies Apple and Samsung may be household names for most Americans, but the Chinese firm Xiaomi is in the third spot for global smartphone shipments, showing that Chinese tech has been increasingly going mainstream.

While Samsung is in the first spot, with 21% of the global market share in terms of smartphone shipments in the second quarter of 2023, and Apple is in the second spot, with a 17% share, Xiaomi is not that far behind in the third spot, with a 13% market share in the second quarter of 2023, according to Canalys, a tech-marketing company.

In fact, Xiaomi which is best known for its budget-friendly phones overtook the Silicon Valley giant Apple as the second-largest smartphone maker in the second quarter of 2021, according to a Canalys analysis at the time.

Xiaomi may be relatively obscure in the US, but it has a large market share of nearly 15% in India — one of the world’s most up-and-coming market, according to high-profile investors including Ray Dalio and Mark Mobius. Samsung and its Chinese smartphone peer Vivo have an 18% and a 17% slice of the pie, respectively, in the second quarter of 2023, per Counterpoint Research.

Other than mobile phones, Xiaomi is known for its robot vacuum cleaners and smart-home products.

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Nikki Haley Is Starting to Look Like a Real Threat to Trump

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Reuters

Is it time for Republicans to take Nikki Haley seriously?

According to a new Emerson College Polling survey, “Haley saw the largest increase in support among Republican candidates, jumping 5 points from 2 percent to 7 percent” following last week’s debate.

Nikki Haley’s support increased from about 2 percent to 9 percent among voters over 50 [years of age],” said Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling, “while Trump’s support dropped within this age group from about 56 percent to 49 percent after the debate.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.