Linda Yaccarino and X got off easy at the Senate hearing

X CEO Linda Yaccarino testified before the Senate on Wednesday. She got off easy compared to some of her peers, like Mark Zuckerberg.

Alex Wong

At the Senate hearing on child exploitation and social media, X CEO Linda Yaccarino wasn’t grilled like her peers.Most of the focus was on Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew.Yaccarino said that less than 1% of X users in the US are under the age of 18.

The most remarkable moment of the Senate hearing where five tech CEOs testified about child exploitation was when Mark Zuckerberg was forced to stand up, turn around, and face the audience full of parents of children who had been harmed or died from suicide — and apologize.

Zuckerberg bore the brunt of the grilling, especially over the fact that an email sent by a Facebook executive in 2021 asking for more staff to work on teen well-being was apparently ignored by Zuckerberg. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew also was frequently put in the hot seat, but a big chunk of that was over the app’s ties to China, not teen safety.

But Yaccarino, who has stumbled under questioning about X’s business by far more friendly interviewers, managed to get out of the hearing relatively unscathed.

In her opening remarks, Yaccarino proudly said that X does not cater to teens and children and dropped a shocking statistic: Less than 1% of X users in the US are under 18.

It’s unclear how X tracks user ages, and BI couldn’t independently verify this statistic.

One way or the other, such a dismal performance with young people is something social media companies usually would dread admitting — teen and younger demographics are valuable to advertisers, and popularity with teens has long been considered a yardstick for the vitality of social media platforms. The greying of Facebook, for example, has been of concern to Meta.

Yaccarino’s statistic comes with an asterisk, however. Although it may be true that X has far more adults than teens, that doesn’t mean that teens hardly use X. According to a 2023 Pew survey, 20% of 13- to 17-year-olds use X.

Yaccarino got one more soft landing on a tough question about how the various platforms have invested in trust and safety.

Sen. Peter Welch, a Democrat from Vermont, brought up concerns about how tech layoffs have affected trust-and-safety teams. X just announced that it would be adding 100 trust-and-safety employees based in Austin, and Welch asked Yaccarino how many of those kinds of employees X had “before.”

This, of course, is a trick question. It’s widely known that when Elon Musk took over Twitter in 2022, he gutted the trust-and-safety and content-moderation teams.

Instead, Yaccarino replied, “the company is just coming through a significant restructuring, so we’ve increased the number of trust-and-safety employees across the world in the last 14 months.”

The math … is mathing.

Yaccarino and X avoided embarrassment at the hearings, but that doesn’t mean that these problems aren’t their problems.

Indeed, X has stumbled with handling child exploitation material even as Musk said it was a top priority.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Instacart quietly deletes its unsettling AI-generated food pics

A puckered seam in meat is seen in what looks to be an AI-generated picture for Instacart’s recipe for “Boiled Dinner Recipe with Corned Beef Brisket.”

Instacart/Business Insider

Instacart confirmed on Sunday it was using AI-generated imagery and recipes.The results were very weird: Chickens were conjoined, hot dogs looked like tomatoes, and more.Now the grocery delivery service is removing AI-generated pics, but seems to have missed some.

Instacart scrubbed some AI-generated food images after a Business Insider article on the delivery company’s use of AI. The images began raising eyebrows on the Instacart subreddit in early January, when users started to compile their favorite absurdities.

The AI images featured physically impossible compositions, unnatural shadows, and strangely blended textures. For instance, pictures accompanying a recipe for “Chicken Inasal” showed two chickens conjoined at the shoulder, while the “Hot Dog Stir Fry” photo showed a slice of hot dog with the interior texture of a tomato.

Instacart/Business Insider

All of the recipes highlighted in the earlier BI article appear to have been taken down from the Instacart website. Other recipes discovered by Reddit users, meanwhile, had the AI-generated images replaced with what appears to be stock photography. (Take for instance, an AI-generated photo for “Simple Steamed Broccoli Crowns” which attempted to put notched crowns in the stems of broccoli, and is now replaced by a generic image of cooked broccoli.)

Some AI-generated imagery was still live on Instacart’s site as of Wednesday. The recipe for “Cheddar and Cream Cheese Sauce for Mac and Cheese” for instance, appears to be AI-generated, with a bizarre plating scheme, overly uniform lighting, and a pasta shape previously unknown to human cooks.

What appears to be an AI-generated picture from Instacart’s website.

Instacart

Instacart publicly discloses that the photos and accompanying recipes were generated by AI, emphasizing that user discretion is advised.

On Sunday, an Instacart spokesperson confirmed that imagery was AI-generated, adding that the company was “optimizing for the best user experience” to align with consumer expectations as generative AI technology matures.

Instacart did not respond to a follow-up request for comment on Wednesday.

AI-generated food images have been employed elsewhere for online ordering. A startup is using text-to-photo technology to create AI imagery based just on menu descriptions to help restaurants build out online menus without paying for photography. More recently, users found what appeared to be AI-generated imagery on Uber Eats where the AI seemingly failed to realize a pizzeria offering a “medium whole pie” meant a pizza, not a sweet dessert.

A June 2023 survey of 301 consumers showed respondents felt generative AI imagery was aesthetically pleasing but untrustworthy. For now, AI-generated images remain relatively easy to detect with the human eye. But as generative AI models rapidly improve and companies strive to bring down costs, the point rapidly approaches when they won’t be.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Jeep revealed its first EV: See inside the sleek, electric Wagoneer S

Detail shot of the new all-electric Jeep Wagoneer S

Stellantis

Driver and passenger each get a screen in the Wagoneer S.The all-electric Wagoneer gets a sleeker design than the gas-powered SUV.Wagoneer S is expected to go on sale this fall.

The first all-electric Jeep is on its way to dealer lots in 2024, and we just got our first look inside the swanky SUV.

Jeep released the first interior shots of the electric Wagoneer S this week, which appears to be packed to the gills with tech.

This screen-laden interior is made possible by parent company Stellantis’s BEV-specific platform, which will underpin the Wagoneer S. This platform is also engineered to deliver performance, reaching zero to 60 mph in roughly 2 seconds at the top end, the company said.

Jeep hasn’t released pricing for the Wagoneer S, expected to go on sale in late 2024, but it’s likely to be pretty expensive. Jeep has positioned the Wagoneer as the premium extension of the rugged SUV brand, and this EV appears to be no exception.

The company’s press release highlights Wagoneer S’s “meticulously crafted artisan details” and “tech-focused interior,” which signal the electric SUV will follow in its gas-powered siblings’ footsteps.

Take a look inside the first fully electric Jeep:

Wagoneer S gets a sleeker design
New all-electric Jeep Wagoneer S

Stellantis

From the outside, the Wagoneer S gets a face lift in comparison to its gas-powered counterparts.

The front end is more sculpted than the gas-powered Wagoneer‘s more squared-off nose, giving the Wagoneer S a more aerodynamic look.

A light bar across the front of the Wagoneer S illuminates the signature seven-slot grille.

At least four screens span the dashboard
Interior of the new all-electric Jeep Wagoneer S

Stellantis

Driver and passenger will each get a screen in the new Wagoneer S, following a trend among luxury EVs.

Two separate screens appear to control the infotainment and climate settings, separated by a color-customizable ambient lighting strip that carries through the rest of the cabin.

A close-up of the electric knob shifter hints at terrain capability
Electric shifter on the new all-electric Jeep Wagoneer S

Stellantis

When Stellantis first announced the Wagoneer S earlier this month, the company said it would offer standard 4xe and all-terrain capabilities, living up to the Jeep name.

Stellantis also says the Wagoneer S will boast 600 horsepower and reach zero to 60 mph in about 3.5 seconds. There’s no word yet on range or charging.

The Wagoneer S is expected to go on sale later this year
New all-electric Jeep Wagoneer S

Stellantis

Stellantis has said it is aiming for a fall release for the Wagoneer S. A more formal reveal is expected before then.

Read the original article on Business Insider

You no longer have to be royal to own a castle — here’s proof

You don’t have to be a royal to own a castle nowadays.

Courtesy of Highlands Castle, Stef Burgon

For centuries, castles have been considered the go-to living situation for royalty.But nowadays, you don’t have to be royal to buy a castle. You also don’t have to come from money.From parents to entrepreneurs, these stories show royals no longer monopolize the castle market. 

For thousands of years, the typical castle owner wasn’t just rich — they were royal.

That’s still half true. Take the British royals as an example. As of 2024, their real-estate portfolio still includes multiple castles across the UK, from Windsor Castle and Hillsborough Castle to Balmoral, widely considered the late Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite royal residence.

But the castle market has evolved. Here are five castles owned by young couples, entrepreneurs, and families to prove that you don’t have to be a king or queen to have a property fit for royalty. Sometimes, you just need to know how to dream big.

A dad built his son three castles in the Adirondack Mountains, and they’re now open to guests.
Highlands Castle, the largest mini-castle on the estate, sleeps up to eight guests.

Courtesy of Highlands Castle

In the late 1970s, John Lavender II told his 3-year-old son Jason that he’d build him a castle one day.

He told BI he made his son the promise when he was newly divorced and figuring out his next steps.

Lavender said he was living in shared accommodation after his marriage ended, which he knew wasn’t the right “environment” to raise a child.

“I made the promise, and I said I’m going to show my son that if I speak words to him, I’ll follow through no matter what it takes,” he added.

Lavender made good on his word threefold. In 1982, he bought land with epic views of the Adirondack Mountains and built not one but three mini castles on top of it with little help. He designed each structure himself despite not having a background in architecture or construction.

Once completed, Lavender kept the castles as a family home for nearly 30 years. But after he suffered an accident in 2010, he and his wife, Yvonne, decided to open their castles to guests.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lavender said bookings peaked, which was a pleasant surprise. At the start of the outbreak in the US, he initially thought, “Well, there goes all the bookings.”

“It was just the opposite,” Lavender said. “Everybody wanted to go to a safe place where they felt they could spend time with their family.”

Nowadays, Lavender and his wife still accept bookings at Highlands, where they live full-time.

He also said they have no plans to leave: “I’ll be planted here.”

A descendant of a steel tycoon built his daughters a Gothic-style castle in Connecticut to make their princess dreams come true.
The castle comes with a moat.

Courtesy of Compass

In the early 2000s, Christopher Mark bought a property in Woodstock, Connecticut, which he transformed into a 9-bedroom, Gothic-inspired castle, aptly dubbed Chris Mark Castle.

Mark, a descendant of a steel tycoon, moved into the property with his children in 2010. In 2022, his daughter Christina spoke to BI’s Amanda Goh about growing up in the castle.

“My sister and I, when we were younger, we would dress up like princesses, and he just wanted our dream to come true,” she said, referring to her father.

She said Chris Mark Castle was inspired by the family’s ancestors’ similar properties in Ireland.

“We wanted to keep the idea going in our generation now too,” she said.

Over the years, the castle has hit the market several times. Four years after it was completed, the owner listed the castle for $45 million before cutting the price and ultimately taking it off the market.

According to the castle’s Zillow history, it’s been listed several times at various price points since then but is now back on the market through Compass Real Estate for $29 million.

The sales listing agent, John Pizzi, told BI that Christopher Mark still resides in the castle. Meanwhile, Christina still runs a TikTok account showing viewers what life in the castle is like.

Her latest video, shared on January 20, gives viewers a sneak peek at what it’s like to stay in the castle during the summer.

In Scotland, a millennial couple transformed a medieval castle into a boutique guesthouse with a sustainable ethos.
Kilmartin Castle.

Airbnb/Kilmartin Castle

In 2014, Stef Burgon and Simon Hunt went on a road trip in Scotland that changed the direction of their lives. They lived and worked in Dubai but were struck by the untapped potential in Scotland.

“We traveled around Scotland looking for a castle to stay in, and we stayed in a couple, and it was just disappointing,” Hunt said. “It’s so disappointing when it looks like a castle from the outside, and then you get inside, and it’s not a castle anymore.”

Shortly after, they came across a listing in the Daily Mail for a £375,000, or about $476,000, castle on the west coast of Scotland. After jumping on a plane to see it, the couple offered £331,780, or about $421,225, for the property originally built in 1550.

Burgon and Hunt eventually quit their jobs in Dubai and moved into the castle, where they spent £225,000, or about $285,656, on years of repairs and renovations. They didn’t have hospitality backgrounds but always planned to share the historic property with guests.

Though the process had its challenges, they said it was ultimately worth it. After 2021, they moved to a nearby cottage and started listing Kilmartin Castle exclusively as a guesthouse. They are now taking bookings as far ahead as 2026 and said the rental strategy has allowed them to dedicate time to other projects, such as starting a lime-paint company called House of Lime.

Guests staying at the five-bedroom castle can enjoy all it offers, including the wild swimming pool, vegetable gardens, and locally sourced “Michelin star-style food” the in-house chef, William Hammer, serves in a glass house steps away from the castle.

Since the opening of Kilmartin Castle, the site has welcomed retreats and weddings; the couple also plans to host an artist residency program in 2025. Their castle was also included in The New York Times’ 52 Places to Go article in 2023.

“We’ve been doing this job for five years now, and I’ve never felt more financially secure. And I used to have an actual job, or we both did, but you never get a day off,” Hunt said.

“When you’re working for yourself, you don’t mind at all,” Burgon added.

Elsewhere in Scotland, a British businessman transformed a derelict castle into a whimsical rental — and painted it pink.
The Pink Castle exterior.

Courtesy of The Travel Chapter

Bruce Walker told BI in 2022 that he grew up in the historic region of Ayrshire in Scotland. However, he lived and worked in Hong Kong for nearly thirty years.

In 2000, he returned to the UK with his family and bought a derelict castle in Ayrshire in deep need of TLC. They thought it would be “good fun” to renovate and share it with guests, he said.

But it was a big project.

“The roof and the floors and everything had fallen in,” Walker said. “The building itself was the remains of a 14th-century castle, a 17th-century castle, and a Victorian make-around.”

Renovations of the castle began in 2013 and took roughly five years to complete. Over those years, Walker said the project cost £1.3 million, or about $1.6 million — more than he’d anticipated.

He also had to get permission from Historic Scotland to proceed with the renovations. When the organization said yes, Walker was given the green light to transform it into a “fantasy castle” where guests can reconnect with nature in the “middle of the countryside.”

The castle, available to rent on Holiday Cottages, is designed to be a perfect retreat for people of all ages. Three of the house’s four double bedrooms are in the castle turrets. The other turret houses an infrared sauna, and there’s also a hot tub outside.

The historic structure’s distinct palepink color adds to the castle’s fantasy. According to Walker, the color comes from a lime-wash paint that enhances the natural tones of the sandstone exterior.

He also said that the color signified nobility among the Picts, an ancient group living in Scotland during the Middle Ages.

In Italy, a Gen Zer lives in a 900-year-old castle with 45 rooms that her family has owned for 28 generations.
Castello Sannazzaro.

Ludovica Sannazzaro Natta

Ludovica Sannazzaro Natta is a 22-year-old who’s lived in a nearly 900-year-old castle in Northern Italy since she was 4.

To say the property is palatial would be an understatement — in 2021, BI’s Lauren Edmonds reported that it’s over 100,00 square feet and has 45 rooms. It also houses a 269,097-square-foot garden and historical archives dating back to the 11th century.

Sannazzaro Natta told BI’s Lindsay Dodgson that the castle has been her family’s home for 28 generations. Sannazzaro Natta isn’t royal but has aristocratic ties.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sannazzaro Natta — who was studying at a US university — returned to Italy and began documenting her family’s living situation on TikTok.

Each video provides a window into the castle’s history, unique features, and details about Sannazzaro Natta’s family background.

Her videos blew up, and now her TikTok account has over 1.7 million followers. Her family initially questioned her TikToks, but she said they now support her and even help her make her videos.

Sannazzaro Natta also said life in a castle has made her who she is.

“I appreciate history, I appreciate culture a lot more, and it made me very aware of how time changed everything,” she said. And while her living situation is unique, she’s proud of it.

“Yes, it’s a castle, but it’s my home,” Sannazzaro Natta said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Watch This MAGA Senator Expertly Dodge Taylor Swift ‘Controversy’

Newsmax

While factions of the Republican Party dare to publicly attack global superstar Taylor Swift after she celebrated boyfriend Travis Kelce getting to next month’s Super Bowl, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is apparently not partaking.

Appearing on Newsmax’s Wake Up America on Wednesday, Blackburn was asked about Swift’s opposition to her candidacy in 2018. In her Netflix documentary Miss Americana, Swift derided the far-right senator as “Trump in a wig” and criticized her opposition to legislation aimed at protecting women’s rights.

Host Rob Finnerty tried to get Blackburn to weigh in on Swift’s politics after he cited a Newsweek poll that indicated 18 percent of voters would back a Swift-supported candidate. Blackburn, however, used the opportunity to praise the Nashville titan.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

GOP Sen. Tom Cotton Wonders if TikTok CEO Is a Secret Chinese Communist

CNN

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) engaged in a bit of McCarthyism during Wednesday’s Senate hearing on online child safety when he relentlessly pressed TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew on his ties to China, going so far as to wonder whether the Singapore citizen was “a member of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Wednesday’s intense hearing, which featured the heads of five Big Tech companies, was largely centered on the potential risks social media products pose to young people. At one point, amid a bipartisan barrage of criticism and cajoling from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg even stood up and apologized to families in the hearing room for the suffering they’d gone through.

While all of the social media chief executives at the hearing were put through the wringer, several GOP lawmakers grilled Chew on his company’s connection to China and how much access and influence the Chinese government has to the platform. Cotton, however, took it even further than his Republican colleagues.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

I left the US and moved to Istanbul for a fresh start. I love it here, and my American dollars go far.

I love seeing Istanbul while on a ferry.

Maria Mocerino

I left the US to start over and I’ve spent the past few months falling love with Istanbul. I’ve found that the city is affordable for me. It’s also beautiful and very social. I love taking a ferry, not a subway, to get around and eating so much delicious food.

I left the United States a couple of years ago to start over.

After spending time traveling the world, I wanted to find a new city to call home. After all, I’m a big city girl who’s lived in both Los Angeles and New York City — though I’d definitely prefer somewhere more affordable.

About nine months ago, a friend suggested I visit Istanbul. It didn’t take me long to figure out why.

The city is stunning and bustling — and I find that my American dollars go far here. I’ve officially fallen in love with this ancient and modern metropolis.

I was able to extend my tourist visa, but my time here is almost up, and I don’t want to leave. Here’s why.

It’s East meets West — perfect for someone who appreciates history and culture

Istanbul is filled with beautiful shops and architecture.

Maria Mocerino

One of the most beautiful parts of Istanbul is how it blends Asian and European cultures in everything from its cuisine to its architecture.

I feel like I can see, taste, and experience parts of Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean when walking around.

And as a former New Yorker, living somewhere that feels like a real blend of cultures is important to me. Istanbul feels a little familiar and foreign, ancient and modern — I get the best of many worlds here.

Living here has been incredibly affordable for me

The local currency, the lira, has weakened against the US dollar over recent months, which has allowed my American cash to go far.

For example, I’m living in a digital-nomad hotel in Kadikoy, one of the hippest neighborhoods on the Asian side, right by the water.

A cool neighborhood like this would be far out of my budget in NYC or LA, but here, I only pay about $400 for my room — and this fee includes internet, electricity, and other utilities.

x

Maria Mocerino

I only spend about $100 a month on groceries, if that. I also regularly get delicious meals for a low cost.

Recently, I got an artisanal kombucha and a salmon meal for $12 at a restaurant. That price wouldn’t get me much when dining out back home.

I also recently went to a concert and got some of the best seats in the house for under $5.

Overall, I’m spending about $1,500 a month to live very comfortably. I’m able to save money each month, which I always found challenging to do while living in NYC.

Still, foreign debit-card fees add up, and Istanbul’s ATMs often charge hefty 6% to 8% withdrawal fees. I pay cash when I can and try to withdraw larger amounts from my bank to get me through the month.

Istanbul’s status as a beauty and health mecca means I can take care of myself, too

Istanbul is famously a destination for medical tourism.

People travel to Istanbul to get procedures done because the prices are quite cheap for things like Botox, facials, dental work, and microneedling procedures.

The affordable prices mean I’ve been able to put my self-care first in a way that I haven’t been able to when I lived in the US.

For example, I’ve gotten massages for $30 a pop in Istanbul. I couldn’t find one for less than $75 when I lived in the US. Because I can now afford massages, I treat myself to one a month.

I also now have a personal trainer who costs me $10 an hour for 10 sessions — less than half of the lowest prices I’ve seen while living in the US.

It’s a super social city

Istanbul seems full of life at night.

Maria Mocerino

As a sprawling metropolis, every neighborhood feels like its own not-so-little world to discover, with alleyways overflowing with bars, shops, restaurants, bazaars, and cafés.

In my experience, Istanbul has a vibrant nightlife, and many people here love to be outside and socialize. Terraces are often crowded with people as soon as the sun begins to set.

Many neighborhoods are so lively and welcoming that I feel like I’m being social even when I’m by myself.

I almost exclusively travel by ferry

Istanbul is a major port city along the Bosporus that straddles Europe and Asia. Fortunately, my proximity to the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara — which the Bosporus connects — means I can take the ferry almost anywhere.

Broad ferry access is probably the coolest part about living here. It’s a quick way to get around, the views are gorgeous, and a ride costs me less than $1.

I think Istanbul’s elevated trains, buses, and subways are pretty efficient and well-designed, too.

Stunning art and architecture is everywhere

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Maria Mocerino

I feel so lucky I can visit the Hagia Sophia at sunset and watch the Blue Mosque glow at night. The iconic monuments alone are worth a return trip to the Sultanahmet district, no matter the hour.

Plus, there are ancient ruins and over 3,000 mosques throughout the city.

I also enjoy the museum and gallery scene, whether I’m exploring contemporary art galleries in Beyoğlu or visiting modern museums on the seaport.

I find great coffee and food everywhere I go

I’ve enjoyed many fresh meals while living in Istanbul.

Maria Mocerino

Turkey’s coffee culture is incredible, and I love enjoying the delicious drink and rituals around it all over Istanbul.

Delicious and grainy, Turkish coffee is often served in real china, and can be ordered from carts on the street that prepare it the traditional way using hot sand.

When it comes to food in Istanbul, I especially love mezes — selections of small appetizers such as orzo, salad, stuffed grape leaves, and yogurt-based spreads served together as an appetizer.

The street food I’ve had has been tasty and affordable, too. I’ve had chestnuts, corn, and mussels stuffed with spiced rice and topped with fresh lemon juice for just a few dollars.

And, of course, the desserts are dreamy. Turkish delight is chewy and flavorful, and I get baklava stuffed with pistachios, walnuts, and almonds every night.

Read the original article on Business Insider

We now have more details on what happened with the Alaska Airlines door plug — and how Boeing plans to address quality issues

The fuselage plug area of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282.

NTSB via Reuters

Bloomberg has reported new details about what may have caused the Alaska Airlines door plug blowout.Unnamed sources say Boeing uses two systems to track the Max assembly, but they don’t talk to each other.Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun emphasized a heightened focus on the door plug installation and inspection process.

New details have emerged regarding how the door plug on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 blew off the jet mid-flight earlier this month.

The investigation is focused on four bolts that hold the door plug in place. The National Transportation Safety Board is trying to determine if they fell off during the event or if they were never installed to begin with.

Based on new information, it may be the latter.

On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported Boeing used multiple record-keeping logs to track actions made during the assembly of its 737 Max aircraft at its factory in Renton, Washington, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the blowout incident.

One system is the official log with the thousands of actions done on the aircraft, while the other is more informal, Bloomberg said.

Two anonymous sources, a Renton mechanic and a former 737 Max production line manager, gave the Seattle Times last week the same description regarding Boeing’s two internal systems, with one source describing the informal log as a place to flag defects and “bring more eyes on what the problem is.”

According to the unnamed sources at both publications, the problem with Boeing’s multiple logs is they don’t always talk to each other.

Hypothetically, work could be discussed in the informal system but never logged in the official one, meaning nothing would trigger further quality-control inspections on performed actions, Bloomberg reported.

In the case of the Max 9 involved in Alaska flight 1282, mechanics for Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems — the company that installs the door plug — appear to have messaged in the informal log about work needing to be done on the door plug.

It was reportedly here when they discussed and eventually agreed to open the door — which, regardless of whether it needs to be fully removed or just opened, requires the removal of the four critical bolts that secure the plug, per the Seattle Times.

The door plug is secured by four bolts in the upper and lower corners.

Ingrid Barrentine/Alaska Airlines

However, because the opening of the door plug was reportedly never logged as an official action, nothing triggered a quality control check to ensure the bolts were reinserted.

According to Bloomberg, this disconnect between the two Renton systems may have caused a new Boeing 737 Max 9 plane to be delivered to Alaska without critical safety components.

Unnamed sources confirmed the same possible sequence of events to the Seattle Times, with one saying it was a Boeing employee who removed the door plug, not a Spirit AeroSystems worker.

The record-keeping lapse reports are so far from unnamed people familiar with the matter. Other anonymous sources have confirmed the same information to The New York Times as well.

“As the air safety agency responsible for investigating this accident, only the US National Transportation Safety Board can release information about the investigation,” Boeing told Business Insider. “As a party to this investigation, Boeing is not able to comment and will refer you to the NTSB for any information.”

Boeing pledged accountability on a call with investors

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun told media during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Wednesday that “whatever conclusions are reached, Boeing is accountable for what happened.”

“Boeing will get better, I am confident in that,” he said later in the call. “We will address everything that needs to be learned from the accident, and we’ll move forward.”

As of Wednesday, the NTSB has not confirmed Boeing’s multiple-system process but told BI, “We expect to issue our preliminary report on the Alaska Airlines flight 1282 accident in the coming days.” The agency noted the release date and time will be posted on its X feed in advance.

The Federal Aviation Administration referred BI to Boeing for information on its internal systems. Spirit AeroSystems did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BI.

Boeing CEO says door plug installation will have inspections “at every turn”

According to Boeing, 129 have been ungrounded as of midday on Wednesday.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The update comes three weeks after the Alaska blowout, which prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to ground 171 Max 9 planes with the same door plug.

The agency has since approved an enhanced maintenance process to get the grounded jets flying again, with carriers including Alaska and United Airlines already relaunching Max 9 passenger flights.

The FAA has also increased oversight at Boeing’s factories: “First and foremost, we will run the door plug literally from the second a door is received at Wichita, through their lines, all 12 positions, through our 11 positions here, inspections will be added at every turn, it is on lockdown,” Calhoun told media, speaking on quality system improvement.

The agency has halted Boeing’s 737 Max production expansion while it addresses quality control lapses. The current Max output goal is 38 a month, according to Boeing.

“I’m sort of glad [the FAA] called out a pause, because that’s a good excuse to just take our time, do it right, and I wish I had called that out on the first day,” Calhoun said on Wednesday’s call. “We’ve been good at taking pauses, I’ve probably taken more pauses in the last three years…than I have taken in the 10 years before it, but this is what we do and how we get better.”

The CEO noted the several pauses in its 787 Dreamliner deliveries over the years to address quality problems, as well as slowed production rates on the 737 line to correct defects relating to improperly drilled holes on Max fuselages by Spirit AeroSystems.

Supply chain weaknesses have also contributed, he said.

“There are lots of sound reasons for why I’m feeling good,” Calhoun said, noting increased inventory buffers to help stabilize production, as well as the respect demonstrated between Boeing and the FAA amid the Alaska event.”In some ways, this moment will accelerate recovery, not delay it.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

‘No big drama’ is coming for the US economy, but complacency is a rising risk, ‘Big Short’ traders say

Paramount Pictures

‘Big Short’ traders told CNBC that investors are too complacent, although the economy is healthy.
Steve Eisman sees little concern over today’s economy, with consumer spending still strong.
But traders should still keep their eyes on pockets of risk, such as commercial real estate, the others said.

There is little reason to be nervous about the US economy, though investors should still keep an eye on pockets of risk, a group of “Big Short” investors said in a joint interview with CNBC.

“As long as credit quality is okay, there’s no, you know, big drama coming,” Neuberger Berman’s Steve Eisman told the outlet at a financial conference.

He was joined by traders Danny Moses, Vincent Daniel, and Porter Collins, who together were made famous by betting against the housing market ahead of the 2008 crash.

As to today’s economy, Eisman considers it relatively healthy, essentially dismissing Wall Street’s concerns that a consumer spending drawdown guarantees a coming slowdown.

“Capital One said that they think delinquencies have peaked. Consumers still have money,” he said, adding: “Don’t worry, be happy. I mean, that’s good until it changes but as of now, it’s not changing.”

But Collins, cofounder of Seawolf Capital, countered that investors may be turning too complacent. 

“A lot of people are bullish, right? And so that’s the one thing that concerns me like, you know, no one’s really that scared,” he said. 

Commercial real estate is a clear example, said Moses, founder of Moses Ventures. Following the rapid rise of interest rates, trillions of dollars are now due to be refinanced in the next few years, which should limit market euphoria to some degree.

Some on Wall Street are nervous this could trigger a massive real estate default wave, with billions at risk.

Instead, Moses noted that investors are largely leaning on expectations that the Federal Reserve will bail the sector out. Still, markets shouldn’t be too complacent, as the commercial real estate industry has seen “fits and starts” crop up, Moses said.

In separate comments cited by Bloomberg, Eisman also waved off rising worries about US credit conditions, noting that arguments against the government deficit have been ongoing for four decades. 

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The Education Department agrees to consider more student-loan borrowers for its second attempt at debt relief

President Joe Biden.

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

The Education Department agreed to add an additional negotiation session for student-debt relief.The announcement follows mounting pressure to expand the discussion on borrowers with financial hardship.Currently, that category of borrowers is not included in the department’s proposal for relief.

Following mounting pressure from Democratic lawmakers and advocates, the Education Department said it would allow another opportunity to expand its second student-debt relief plan.

On Wednesday, the Education Department announced it will hold a fourth negotiation session on February 22 and 23 to discuss including borrowers with financial hardship in its second attempt at student-debt cancellation.

According to a source familiar with the department’s plans, the discussion at this fourth session will aim to identify borrowers experiencing hardship beyond the prior sessions’ categories and define the hardship’s scope for delivering relief.

The source also said that the department is mindful of staying within the limits the Supreme Court set forth when it struck down President Joe Biden’s first attempt at broad relief in June as it determines which borrowers should be eligible for relief.

Since June 2023, the department has been working on a new route for relief under the Higher Education Act of 1965. Under that law, the department must participate in negotiations with stakeholders to help craft the new rule — and in December, it concluded the third, and what it planned to be the final, round of negotiations.

However, some of the negotiators, along with advocates and Democratic lawmakers, expressed disappointment with the department’s proposal for relief at the end of the sessions. While it put forth five groups of borrowers to include in relief, a category for borrowers experiencing hardship was omitted — prompting a push for an additional negotiation session to discuss those borrowers.

The Education Department agreed to that request. Undersecretary of Education James Kvaal said in a statement that “the Biden-Harris Administration will never stop working to deliver student debt relief for borrowers.”

“We look forward to discussing another avenue for borrower relief related to hardship at our next negotiation session,” Kvaal said.

Public comment will be available on February 22 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

Even with the additional session, it’s unclear if the department will include borrowers with financial hardship in its final proposal for debt cancellation. However, it’s a sign the department is open to considering expanding the scope of the relief as it moves forward in the negotiated rulemaking process.

Following this final round of negotiations, the department will finalize its proposal and post it to the Federal Register to allow a 30-day public comment period. Under the HEA’s timeline, the plan would not go into effect until 2025 — but the education secretary can opt for early implementation to get relief to borrowers sooner.

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