What the US can learn from Europe about broadband affordability (and what it can’t)

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Some of the prices for fixed broadband in Europe are low enough to make the average internet-addicted American swoon. Think gigabit fiber for less than $10 per month. No strings or income restrictions.

Thanks to COVID-19, the effects of the digital divide are more pronounced than ever. With broadband affordability high on the agenda, it could, at first glance, seem that Europe has all the answers. This is decidedly not the case.

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Robert Rodriguez/CNET

Europe, too, has its own struggles with digital divide, and it hasn’t cracked the affordability problem across the board. Cheap prices do not always equal broad availability or high bandwidth, and every European country comes with its own baggage and struggles. But look closely at Europe’s success stories and you’ll see there are potential takeaways for the US, which is amid a debate over how to close the digital divide.

Despite the pressures of the pandemic, broadband affordability improved everywhere in the world this past year except in North America, according to the , which is commissioned by Facebook and developed annually by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Overall, the US tends to rank well in affordability lists (which are an inexact science and use sources tricky to verify), but it doesn’t want to be standing still while the world marches forward.

Within the EU, member states are working toward ensuring every household can be connected to gigabit fiber by 2030, and there are a number of financing initiatives they’re able to take advantage of to keep costs down. Speaking to the European Parliament in October, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasized that for economic or social reasons.

«Greater connectivity is not a luxury — it is a necessity,» she said. «And it is a right for everyone in the EU. Every citizen should have access to an affordable fixed data connection. It is a universal service — like receiving post or electricity.»

Europe’s enviable competitive streak

Europe has been able to spur more affordable prices thanks to a regulated market environment that promotes competition. 

In the US, competition among internet providers has historically happened at the infrastructure level, meaning your choice is between DSL, cable, fiber or satellite. With so few competitive options available to consumers, companies don’t feel the need to jostle for customers by lowering prices, Vinhcent Le, legal counsel for technology equity at the Greenlining Institute, said in an interview. 

Meanwhile in Europe, open access infrastructure — which in the case of broadband means a physical network that different service providers can all make use of — has allowed multiple companies to compete for customers at a service level, forcing them to offer more competitive prices. By contrast, the major telcos often foot the bill for building out their networks. The government does offer subsidies to encourage service providers to expand into sparsely populated areas, but even that . 

The UK and Sweden are particularly good examples of an open access environment, said Teddy Woodhouse, research manager for access and affordability at the Web Foundation. «Both countries have high fixed coverage (including even at higher speeds within Sweden) and a high number of fixed connections provided by non-incumbent operators, which is a good sign of market competition,» he said over email.

Not everyone agrees that more competition is the best strategy for making internet more affordable in the US — including the nonpartisan think tank the , which argues that the affordability problem in the US is overblown and that making the system more competitive won’t help heal the country’s digital divide.

But generally, competition has resulted in lower prices. In its , the Alliance for Affordable Internet highlighted the fact that markets with more operators had lower prices. «Poor broadband policy that fails to foster a healthy, competitive market costs users an estimated $3.42 per GB,» it said. 

Meanwhile, the Inclusive Internet Index (which takes into account fixed and mobile broadband) noted that while the US was still ranked fifth overall in the world for affordability, it had experienced a decline in the past year «owing to a deterioration in the competitive environment,» likely a reference to the combination of and . 

Attempts to regulate in favor of more open access infrastructure in the US has elicited pushback from the powerful telecoms lobby, which has a vested interest in keeping competition minimal to ensure prices stay high.

«We just lack that coordination that a lot of other countries have,» Le said. «That’s a lot by the design of the incumbents — they’ve sued in a lot of states to prevent utilities from expanding their networks outside the city limits.»

A Swedish model for California?

Sweden is the model that Le believes could be ideal for a state like California to follow to improve broadband affordability. The regions are comparable in terms of rural-urban divide and therefore make for a good point of comparison, he said.

In Sweden, the government gave support to cities to build infrastructure that is fully open access, taking the rollout of fiber to homes out of the affordability equation and allowing multiple providers the opportunity to compete for customers with well-priced services while guaranteeing good performance.

«Sweden’s open-access model, paired with its early advantage of investment through municipal networks, is a key point in the story of that country’s market,» said Woodhouse.

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Sweden’s broadband market attracts attention from abroad.

Thomas Kurmeier/Getty

In the past, California has been «hamstrung» by not allowing any broadband regulation, said Le. But now, he said, things are beginning to change, as the state is making it easier and committing money to building open-access networks and middle-mile fiber, which connects local networks to major service providers.

«The prices aren’t ever going to go down to what it should be, which is, in my head, $30 to $40 for fiber internet, 1000Mbps» he said. «But unless we have these open access rules, just given how these networks were developed, I don’t see the political will in the United States to kind of force that to happen.»

Political will is an important component in making the internet affordable, but promises about connectivity alone aren’t enough to get the job done. «The United States creates these political goals, but they don’t actually do anything about it,» said Le.

Conversely in Europe, political will to create affordable broadband for residents has then been supported through policy development and heavy investment to achieve these goals. This can be seen in Sweden, but also in Baltic countries such as Latvia and Lithuania, which both rank high for fiber penetration, and Romania, where EU funding has been instrumental in trying to expand access to the high-speed broadband enjoyed in urban centers out to more rural areas.

Where affordable fiber thrives

«Today, people living in Bucharest, Romania, have access to much faster Internet than most of the US,» tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016. «That’s unacceptable and must change.»

Five years on, Sanders may be disappointed to hear that little has changed. Not only do people living in Romania have faster internet than in the US, but, dollar to gigabyte, it’s cheaper too. It’s regularly listed in surveys as one of the top countries in the world for the most affordable high-speed broadband.

According to Digi, Romania’s largest broadband provider, the country’s success in making internet cheap and fast is largely because it didn’t need to upgrade its legacy infrastructure while rolling out a more modern fiber-optic network.

Along with other former Soviet states in Central and Eastern Europe, when the time came to get serious about building broadband, Romania didn’t have a strong existing DSL network or telecom regulation to govern it due to lack of investment from its time behind the Iron Curtain. So while it was often cheaper to maintain and upgrade existing copper wire networks for the US and Western Europe, these other countries were busy leapfrogging straight to fiber and writing their own rules as they went.

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Bucharest’s fiber network is largely above ground, resulting in big nests of wires in some areas.

Alexander Spatari/Getty

Romania started rolling out fiber to the home as early as 2004, and the technology is used by the majority of Digi’s subscribers, who now enjoy packages starting at 6 euros ($7.20) per month, or 8 euros ($9.60) for gigabit services. The narrow gap in price between lower and higher speeds is something other countries — the US included — have failed to offer customers. For PTS Terbaik ASEAN instance, gigabit service starts at $80 a month, double the cost of its entry-level offering.  

«Over the last few years, mainly Digi, but also our competitors, have invested several billions of euros in FTTH infrastructure, without any financial support from the state or other similar sources,» said a spokeswoman for the company in a statement. «The highly competitive environment has determined an efficient cost base allowing for an affordable pricing on the end consumers.»

Affordability: It’s all relative

Putting too much focus on  prices, however, also has the potential to obscure the bigger picture. A direct dollars-for-dollars comparison with monthly US costs for broadband packages doesn’t take into account the disparity in average income between countries.

Europe as a region boasts the lowest fixed broadband prices (as a percentage of gross national income) compared with other regions as there are better income levels in a number of countries, said Eleanor Sarpong, deputy director and policy lead at the Alliance for Affordable Internet. But, she added, this isn’t the case across the board.

In some parts of Europe, especially in former Soviet Union states that aren’t part of the EU, but also in parts of countries such as Romania, extremely low incomes mean broadband is still a luxury many can’t afford. The divide between broadband access in rural and urban areas can also be stark, Sarpong added.

In fact, when you compare Romania’s prices against those paid in the US, broadband in both countries costs the same percentage (just 0.8%) of gross national income, .

But even when adjusting for income levels, Europeans on average pay a lower proportion of their salary than people living in other regions. In a 2020 policy brief published by the International Telecommunications Union, Europe was listed as the only region in the world where consumers spend less than 2% of their income on fixed broadband. This still doesn’t necessarily mean internet in these regions is affordable for all, especially when you bear in mind this doesn’t begin to take into account mobile data prices.

Price also doesn’t necessarily reflect quality. Some of the cheapest countries in the world for fixed broadband include Syria, Bhutan and Kyrgyzstan, but the speeds they offer are among the slowest.

Likewise some of the highest speeds in Europe can be found in small municipalities such as Liechtenstein and Andorra, which are smaller than individual US states, and don’t rank high on any lists of affordable broadband. The dense population of these small areas means that just like in Singapore and Hong Kong — both leaders in fast, affordable broadband — bringing good-quality fiber to these areas is far easier than building out a network across a sprawling country like the US. 

In fact, Europe on the whole is more densely populated than the US, which potentially distorts affordability statistics. The knock-on impact of the population being more spread out is that the average cost of connecting each household is much higher, and prices are likely to reflect this.

So exaggerated are the demographic differences between the two regions that Recon Analytics analyst Roger Entner said in his newsletter earlier this month it was «unremarkable that US prices might exceed European prices as it costs substantially more to deploy these networks.»

Opening minds 

What stops broadband being affordable can’t be understood simply by looking at the price per gigabyte in dollars alone. Instead there’s a tapestry of problems including speed, rural access, income disparity and regulations that are inextricably linked with price that keep people disconnected.

In the US alone, historic baggage comes in the form of legacy infrastructure, huge expanses of sparsely populated land and a mindset that keeps everyone comfortably settled on the status quo. 

A big concern in the US is that providers will retrofit affordable broadband packages into the existing systems, creating a second-class tier of internet for low-income users. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Romania, for example, has shown that gigabit speeds don’t have to be drastically higher to subsidize entry-level packages. 

In Sweden and the UK, open access has allowed competition to thrive and push prices down in a way that hasn’t so far been possible in the US, but could be.

Le, for one is hopeful things will change. He can see it beginning to happen already, he said, even if it is coming «20 years too late.»

Holly Willoughby jokes she'd be 'out of a job if I wasn't blonde'

5 days ago

joked she would be ‘out of a job if I wasn’t blonde’ as she hosted a tutorial on how to dye your roots at home with Davina McCall on Tuesday.

The presenter, 39, who is a brand ambassador for Garnier, light-heartedly said she was relieved Davina, 53, would never be blonde again because she would ‘be out of a job’.

It comes after Holly returned to This Morning on Monday after taking two days off due to a scare with two of her ‘very poorly’ children. 

Makeover: Holly Willoughby joked she would be 'out of a job if I wasn't blonde' as she hosted a tutorial on how to dye your roots at home with Davina McCall on Tuesday

Makeover: Holly Willoughby joked she would be ‘out of a job if I wasn’t blonde’ as she hosted a tutorial on how to dye your roots at home with Davina McCall on Tuesday

During the Instagram Live, Holly said as she prepared her hair-dye: ‘I’m not an expert but you don’t have to be.That’s the point of home colouring.

‘Had it not been for lockdown I’m not sure we would have done this on camera.

‘But now people know that we do actually do it at home.’

Davina showed her greying roots on camera and later spoke about her hair colour over the years.

Touch-up: The presenter, 39, who is a brand ambassador for Garnier, light-heartedly said she was relieved Davina, 53, would never be blonde again because she would 'be out of a job'

Touch-up: The presenter, 39, who is a brand ambassador for Garnier, light-heartedly said she was relieved Davina, 53, would never be blonde again because she would ‘be out of a job’

Return: It comes after Holly returned to This Morning on Monday after taking two days off due to a coronavirus scare with two of her 'very poorly' children

Return: It comes after Holly returned to This Morning on Monday after taking two days off due to a coronavirus scare with two of her ‘very poorly’ children

She said: PTS Terbaik ASEAN ‘When I went from blonde to brunette I felt a bit invisible but now I wouldn’t go back.’

To which Holly joked: ‘Good job you’re brunette and I am then blonde then. I would be out of a job if I wasn’t blonde.’

The This Morning star said she touches up her roots every three weeks to prevent any unwanted grey hairs. 

Having a laugh: Holly joked: 'Good job you're brunette and I am then blonde then. I would be out of a job if I wasn't blonde'

Having a laugh: Holly joked: ‘Good job you’re brunette and I am then blonde then. I would be out of a job if I wasn’t blonde’

Cute: Holly's cat Bluebell made a surprise cameo during the Instagram live

Cute: Holly’s cat Bluebell made a surprise cameo during the Instagram live 

The live tutorial comes after Holly made her return to This Morning on Monday after taking two days off after a coronavirus scare with her children.

The presenter was back on screens for the ITV show with Phillip Schofield, but failed to mention her absence at the end of last week.

Over the weekend Holly posted an Instagram message, explaining that she took time off from the show because two of her children were displaying COVID-19 symptoms. 

The TV personality was replaced by Davina and Alison Hammond on Wednesday and Thursday as she awaited test results — which turned out to be negative.

On Monday’s show, Holly opened the show with her usual banter with Phil, as they counted down to Christmas. 

‘A month until Christmas eve that’s not far away is it?,’ Holly said before pointing out that 24 is a big day for her as ‘that’s the day my pet psychic said I’d have areally important day in work!That’s tomorrow!’

Taking to her Instagram Stories on Saturday, the star — who has daughter Belle, nine, and sons Harry, 11, and Chester, six, with husband Dan Baldwin — thanked fans for their concern, as she assured that she would be back to hosting on Monday. 

She's back: On Monday's show, Holly opened the show with her usual banter with Phillip Schofield, as they counted down to Christmas but there was no mention of her absence

She’s back: On Monday’s show, Holly opened the show with her usual banter with Phillip Schofield, as they counted down to Christmas but there was no mention of her absence

Kim Kardashian's son Saint fears she is going to DIE

She had to look after her four children while her husband Kanye West quarantined while battling the coronavirus earlier this year.

And tensions in Kim Kardashian’s household reached fever pitch as she tried to keep daughters North, seven, and Chicago, two, and her sons Saint, four, and 18-month-old Psalm entertained while stuck in the house due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Keeping Up With The Kardashians star, 40, admitted her kids were ‘driving her up the wall’, as she tried to hide from them while filming a make-up tutorial because they would not ‘leave her alone’.

Losing it: Tensions in Kim Kardashian's household reached fever pitch as she tried to keep daughters North, seven, and Chicago, two, and her sons Saint, four, and 18-month-old Psalm entertained during lockdown

Losing it: Tensions in Kim Kardashian’s household reached fever pitch as she tried to keep daughters North, seven, and Chicago, two, terbaik sumatera and her sons Saint, four, and 18-month-old Psalm entertained during lockdown

Kim threatened to ‘cut herself’ if she didn’t get some peace and quiet while in lockdown, yet this only caused a meltdown from Saint who worried that she would ‘die’ and no longer be around for them.

Admitting she was struggling with it all, Kim revealed she said to her children: ‘You guys, I’m actually gonna die if you don’t leave me alone.’

However this prompted North to scream: ‘You hate me!’

Taking a moment away to reflect, Kim said: ‘I’m so used to working a lot and being away from the kids, I love spending this much time with them, but it’s just such a change.’

Kim’s daughter North walked into the bathroom as Kim was shooting the makeup tutorial, and Kim whispered to the camera» ‘My kids will not leave me alone.’

Quarantine challenge: After husband Kanye West, 43, was diagnosed with the virus, Kim, 40, found herself stuck at home with four kids, homeschooling classes, a pile of work, and little help

Quarantine challenge: After husband Kanye West, 43, was diagnosed with the virus, Kim, 40, found herself stuck at home with four kids, homeschooling classes, a pile of work, and little help

‘Hey, that’s mean!’ North said.

While Kim fretted: ‘My kids are driving me so up the wall, I literally don’t know what to do. Today they all were crying and everyone’s antagonizing each other.They want to be up my a**hole. 

‘I was just like, »Okay guys, I’m gonna cut myself in fours», and then Saint starts crying, »You’re gonna bleed! And you’re gonna die and you’re not gonna be here with me,» and I’m just like, »You guys, I’m actually gonna die if you don’t leave me alone.» 

Not nice: Kim while trying to apply makeup complained that her children would not leave her alone and her daughter North replied, 'Hey, that's mean!'

Not nice: Kim while trying to apply makeup complained that her children would not leave her alone and her daughter North replied, ‘Hey, that’s mean!’

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‘I did.And then North is like, »You hate me!» and she’s falling on the floor, and I was just like, I couldn’t take it today.’

Kris offered to let her daughter hide out in her house.

‘You know, Kim is Superwoman,’ the momager said in a confessional.’But this is a truly stressful, serious, unprecedented, confusing time for everyone.’ 

After husband , 43, was diagnosed with the virus, Kim found herself stuck at home with four kids, homeschooling classes, a pile of work, and little help.   

Major change: 'I'm so used to working a lot and being away from the kids,' Kim admitted. 'I love spending this much time with them, but it's just such a change'

Major change: ‘I’m so used to working a lot and being away from the kids,’ Kim admitted.’I love spending this much time with them, but it’s just such a change’

Confusing time: 'You know, Kim is Superwoman,' Kris Jenner said in a confessional. 'But this is a truly stressful, serious, unprecedented, confusing time for everyone'

Confusing time: ‘You know, Kim is Superwoman,’ Kris Jenner said in a confessional.’But this is a truly stressful, serious, unprecedented, confusing time for everyone’

Feeling overwhelmed: 'My kids are driving me so up the wall, I literally don't know what to do,' Kim fretted

Feeling overwhelmed: ‘My kids are driving me so up the wall, I literally don’t know what to do,’ Kim fretted

Kim maintained her work commitments while watching the kids, and even made time to talk to a college criminal justice class.

As she started speaking to them online, she saw her daughter Chicago run to the pool outside.

‘Gimme one sec—I have to grab her,’ she told the class, taking off.

College class: Kim maintained her work commitments while watching the kids, and even made time to talk to a college criminal justice class

College class: Kim maintained her work commitments while watching the kids, and even made time to talk to a college criminal justice class

Kim prioritized her daughter’s safety but said it was embarrassing’ to interrupt the call.

She phoned pal Khadija Haqq-McCray, 37, a mom of three, for support.

‘I literally hear Chicago crying in the other room, and I don’t care,’ Kim shared.’I am literally feeling like an awful mom, just like letting her cry in the other room and figuring it out. Just like, I can’t.’

Call interrupted: The reality star prioritized her daughter's safety but said it was embarrassing' to interrupt the call

Call interrupted: The reality star prioritized her daughter’s safety but said it was embarrassing’ to interrupt the call

‘Last week, I legit was crying,’ Khadija replied.’All the moms I speak to are trying to talk each other off the ledge.’

Kim told Khadija that North was babysitting her cousin Penelope Disick’s dog, and she warned her daughter that if the dog peed on the rug, ‘I’m gonna shave her off.’

‘You’re gonna shave her off?’ North cried, as Kim promised not to cut the dog’s hair.

Duly warned: Kim told Khadija that North was babysitting her cousin Penelope Disick's dog, and she warned her daughter that if the dog peed on the rug, 'I'm gonna shave her off'

Duly warned: Kim told Khadija that North was babysitting her cousin Penelope Disick’s dog, and she warned her daughter that if the dog peed on the rug, ‘I’m gonna shave her off’

To Kim’s relief, Kanye finally tested negative for COVID-19 and took the kids to Wyoming for five days to give Kim a break.

She rode around her house on a motorized suitcase, saying, ‘They are so excited to go to Wyoming.And I am even more excited for them to go.’

‘Do you guys hear that?’ she asked the cameras. ‘The sound of absolutely nothing.’

Quiet house: 'Do you guys hear that?' Kim asked the cameras. 'The sound of absolutely nothing'

Quiet house: ‘Do you guys hear that?’ Kim asked the cameras.’The sound of absolutely nothing’

She slid on the floor in her pyjamas, and realized she hadn’t been alone in the house since North was born.

‘I wanna watch a movie in my house, I wanna do my nails, I want to just do nothing,’ Kim said, showing off a foot peel.

Just 24 hours later, she said she was ‘so bored,’ and had no idea what to do without the kids.

So bored: Just 24 hours later, Kim said she was 'so bored,' and had no idea what to do without the kids

So bored: Just 24 hours later, Kim said she was ‘so bored,’ and had no idea what to do without the kids

‘Kanye’s been sending me clips of the kids, and it’s so cute,’ Kim explained.’As much as I needed a break, I miss my kids so much… I cannot wait for them to come home.’

While Kim remained active, Khloé Kardashian, 36, was incredibly sick from the coronavirus, shaking with weakness and quarantined in her room for 14 days.

‘It sucks because True will come to my door and say, »Mama,» and I have to pretend I’m not here,’ she said, referring to her two-year-old daughter.’She doesn’t understand why I can’t be with her right now.’

In quarantine: While Kim remained active, Khloé Kardashian, 36, was incredibly sick from the coronavirus, shaking with weakness and quarantined in her room for 14 days

In quarantine: While Kim remained active, Khloé Kardashian, 36, was incredibly sick from the coronavirus, shaking with weakness and quarantined in her room for 14 days

As the days went on, Khloé also grew bored and was seen constantly cleaning, making her bed, watching TV, ‘stalking’ her daughter, and doing her makeup.

She asked Tristan Thompson, True’s father, to get her some puzzles, and he brought one that featured the two of them in an intimate moment.

On Day 16, a lonely Khloé made herself an ‘imaginary friend’ called ‘Quarantina,’ which she fashioned out of a neck pillow with red sunglasses, and a necklace.

Imaginary friend: On Day 16, a lonely Khloé made herself an 'imaginary friend' called 'Quarantina,' which she fashioned out of a neck pillow with red sunglasses, and a necklace

Imaginary friend: On Day 16, a lonely Khloé made herself an ‘imaginary friend’ called ‘Quarantina,’ which she fashioned out of a neck pillow with red sunglasses, and a necklace

She called her brother Rob Kardashian, 33, to check it out, and he said, ‘So, you went crazy.’

‘Quarantina is saving me right now, because I need something to do all day long,’ Khloé told the cameras, as Tristan compared it to Wilson the volleyball from the 2000 movie Castaway.

‘If you ever need someone to talk to, I’ll stand outside your window,’ Tristan offered, as Khloé reflected on how thankful she was that he’d been there to watch True.

Saving her: 'Quarantina is saving me right now, because I need something to do all day long,' Khloé told the cameras, as Tristan compared it to Wilson the volleyball from the 2000 movie Castaway

Saving her: ‘Quarantina is saving me right now, because I need something to do all day long,’ Khloé told the cameras, as Tristan compared it to Wilson the volleyball from the 2000 movie Castaway

‘Tina, keep Koko safe,’ Tristan told the pillow, before asking it, ‘Threesome?’

On Day 17, Khloé tested negative for the coronavirus.

Excited, she went to get True up for the day, and the baby just looked at her.

Together again: After testing negative, Khloe went to get True up for the day, and the baby just looked at her

Together again: After testing negative, Khloe went to get True up for the day, and the baby just looked at her

‘True I don’t think even noticed that I was gone,’ Khloé said.’I’m grateful that Tristan’s been here. But I’m the mom! Give me something!’

‘Having corona has been really tough on me physically and mentally,’ she went on, ‘but having Tristan here to help take care of me, bring me meals when I needed them, just make sure the house was okay, make sure True was okay, it’s meant the world to me.’

She and Tristan sat in True’s playroom planning their daughter’s April birthday party, which would have an Easter theme.

Party plans: She and Tristan sat in True's playroom planning their daughter's April birthday party, which would have an Easter theme

Party plans: She and Tristan sat in True’s playroom planning their daughter’s April birthday party, which would have an Easter theme

‘It’ll be the most turnt two-year-old quarantine Easter birthday party in America,’ Tristan said. 

Elsewhere on the show, sisters Kylie Jenner, 23, and Kendall Jenner, 25, squashed a long-simmering beef.

Earlier in the season, a night out led to a fight over whether Kylie was driving Kendall back to Beverly Hills, and the two had ended up slapping each other.

A month-and-a-half later, they still hadn’t spoken, despite their family begging them to do so.

Virtual meeting: The family caught up virtually and learned from Kendall Jenner that she had not spoken with her sister Kylie since their fight

Virtual meeting: The family caught up virtually and learned from Kendall Jenner that she had not spoken with her sister Kylie since their fight

On Instagram, Kylie posted a photo of the two of them together, and Kendall wrote, ‘I thought we were mad at each other.’

‘Yes,’ Kylie wrote back, ‘but my t***ies are sitting nice in this pic.’

Kris called Kylie, who told her that she wanted to donate a million dollars to a doctor they knew for personal protective equipment.

Social media: On Instagram, Kylie posted a photo of the two of them together, and Kendall wrote, 'I thought we were mad at each other'

Social media: On Instagram, Kylie posted a photo of the two of them together, and Kendall wrote, ‘I thought we were mad at each other’

She ignored her mother when she urged her to get in touch with Kendall.

For her part, Kendall was reading a book called Only Love Is Real, which bore a passage on pride being an extension of fear.

‘It just really reminded me of my sister,’ she said, ’cause we both are alpha and tough girls.’

Tough girls: 'It just really reminded me of my sister,' Kendall said, 'cause we both are alpha and tough girls'

Tough girls: ‘It just really reminded me of my sister,’ Kendall said, ’cause we both are alpha and tough girls’

She reached out to Kylie, who finally called her back, apologetic.

‘I just wanna say that the other night got completely out of control,’ Kylie offered, saying she hadn’t known Kendall wanted a ride home. 

‘I think it was just miscommunication, and obviously I would never do anything to hurt you.It just shouldn’t have ever gotten to that point.’

Kendall agreed that neither of them had been acting rationally.

Control lost: 'I just wanna say that the other night got completely out of control,' Kylie offered, saying she hadn't known Kendall wanted a ride home

Control lost: ‘I just wanna say that the other night got completely out of control,’ Kylie offered, saying she hadn’t known Kendall wanted a ride home

‘I’m just ready for it to be over,’ she said in a confessional.’Sisters are sisters. We can fight all we want and say crazy things to each other, but at the end of the day we’re a family and we love each other so much. She’s my partner-in-crime, always has been my entire life, and that will never change. So her not being in my life for a month-and-a-half was not ideal.’

‘I love my sister, and there’s no need to ever not talk for that long,’ Kylie agreed.

In a preview of next week’s episode, the Kardashians agreed that Khloé and Tristan had recently slept together, and Tristan told Khloé, ‘I want you in my life.’

Keeping Up With The Kardashians will return next week on the E!network.

In agreement: Kendall agreed that neither of them had been acting rationally

In agreement: Kendall agreed that neither of them had been acting rationally

Holly Willoughby jokes she'd be 'out of a job if I wasn't blonde'

joked she would be ‘out of a job if I wasn’t blonde’ as she hosted a tutorial on how to dye your roots at home with Davina McCall on Tuesday.

The presenter, 39, who is a brand ambassador for Garnier, light-heartedly said she was relieved Davina, 53, would never be blonde again because she would ‘be out of a job’.

It comes after Holly returned to This Morning on Monday after taking two days off due to a scare with two of her ‘very poorly’ children. 

Makeover: Holly Willoughby joked she would be 'out of a job if I wasn't blonde' as she hosted a tutorial on how to dye your roots at home with Davina McCall on Tuesday

Makeover: Holly Willoughby joked she would be ‘out of a job if I wasn’t blonde’ as she hosted a tutorial on how to dye your roots at home with Davina McCall on Tuesday

During the Instagram Live, Holly said as she prepared her hair-dye: ‘I’m not an expert but you don’t have to be.That’s the point of home colouring.

‘Had it not been for lockdown I’m not sure we would have done this on camera.

‘But now people know that we do actually do it at home.’

Davina showed her greying roots on camera and later spoke about her hair colour over the years.

Touch-up: The presenter, 39, who is a brand ambassador for Garnier, light-heartedly said she was relieved Davina, 53, would never be blonde again because she would 'be out of a job'

Touch-up: The presenter, 39, who is a brand pts terbaik sumatera ambassador for Garnier, light-heartedly said she was relieved Davina, 53, would never be blonde again because she would ‘be out of a job’

Return: It comes after Holly returned to This Morning on Monday after taking two days off due to a coronavirus scare with two of her 'very poorly' children

Return: It comes after Holly returned to This Morning on Monday after taking two days off due to a coronavirus scare with two of her ‘very poorly’ children

She said: ‘When I went from blonde to brunette I felt a bit invisible but now I wouldn’t go back.’

To which Holly joked: ‘Good job you’re brunette and I am then blonde then. I would be out of a job if I wasn’t blonde.’

The This Morning star said she touches up her roots every three weeks to prevent any unwanted grey hairs. 

Having a laugh: Holly joked: 'Good job you're brunette and I am then blonde then. I would be out of a job if I wasn't blonde'

Having a laugh: Holly joked: ‘Good job you’re brunette and I am then blonde then. I would be out of a job if I wasn’t blonde’

Cute: Holly's cat Bluebell made a surprise cameo during the Instagram live

Cute: Holly’s cat Bluebell made a surprise cameo during the Instagram live 

The live tutorial comes after Holly made her return to This Morning on Monday after taking two days off after a coronavirus scare with her children.

The presenter was back on screens for the ITV show with Phillip Schofield, but failed to mention her absence at the end of last week.

Over the weekend Holly posted an Instagram message, explaining that she took time off from the show because two of her children were displaying COVID-19 symptoms. 

The TV personality was replaced by Davina and Alison Hammond on Wednesday and Thursday as she awaited test results — which turned out to be negative.

On Monday’s show, Holly opened the show with her usual banter with Phil, as they counted down to Christmas. 

‘A month until Christmas eve that’s not far away is it?,’ Holly said before pointing out that 24 is a big day for her as ‘that’s the day my pet psychic said I’d have areally important day in work!That’s tomorrow!’

Taking to her Instagram Stories on Saturday, the star — who has daughter Belle, nine, and sons Harry, 11, and Chester, six, with husband Dan Baldwin — thanked fans for their concern, as she assured that she would be back to hosting on Monday. 

She's back: On Monday's show, Holly opened the show with her usual banter with Phillip Schofield, as they counted down to Christmas but there was no mention of her absence

She’s back: On Monday’s show, Holly opened the show with her usual banter with Phillip Schofield, as they counted down to Christmas but there was no mention of her absence

Experts reveal how to keep the season merry and bright over Zoom

According to a study by , 67% of Americans believe it is more important than ever to celebrate the holidays despite the pandemic.

Fifty percent are actually excited to have a reason to stay at home this holiday. 

While traditions will have to be adjusted, Bed Bath & Beyond’s findings also revealed that families are going all-out on holiday cheer to ‘enjoy the present’ this year.

Illustrator and Author of Celebrate Everything!, Darcy Miller, and the duo behind JWP production company, Josh Wood and Mimi Eayrs, reveal how to embrace the changes to make sure the season stays merry and bright.  

Love is the answer: According to a study by Bed Bath & Beyond, 67% of Americans believe it is more important than ever to celebrate the holidays despite the pandemic. Just because your holiday gathering has moved to Zoom, that doesn't mean you can't fill it with festive cheer

Love is the answer: According to a study by Bed Bath & Beyond, 67% of Americans believe it is more important than ever to celebrate the holidays despite the pandemic. Just because your holiday gathering has moved to Zoom, that doesn’t mean you can’t fill it with festive cheer

<img id="i-47e2f120d870314b" website height="625" width="634" alt="Go for it: 'A fun, fast, and free way to bring instant ambiance to your Zoom holiday party is to customize your Zoom background,' shares the celebrations expert" class="blkBo‘String them into garlands, hang them from the bookcase, mantel or window behind you, or from the ceiling above you so that anyone who Zooms in is seeing stars,’ she suggests.’

Simple: 'One easy DIY way to decorate is using gold paper straws .You can turn them into shiny gold stars to fill your Zoom universe'

Simple: ‘One easy DIY way to decorate is using gold paper straws .You can turn them into shiny gold stars to fill your Zoom universe’

‘And while you’re at it, put on some gold jewelry to match, whether it’s the real thing or a letter «pendant» made out of gold straws and a pipe cleaner and tied onto a ribbon as a necklace.  

‘You can also make these for your friends, sending them their initial in the mail before the Zoom, so everyone can coordinate. 

‘Even if you have pajama bottoms on below the screen, some festive jewelry or red lipstick will make you feel like you’re at a party.’

Wolf & Badger Creative Director and Co- Founder, Henry Graham agrees. 

‘Accessories are the order of the day when it comes to video calls,’ said Henry.

He suggests a statement piece of jewelry, a light-weight scarf, or a cute hat. 

Pucker up: 'Download our printable mistletoe stirrers and tape them to skewers to swizzle in your drink. Or, throw in one of the gold paper straws you have left over from making the stars'

Pucker up: ‘Download our printable mistletoe stirrers and tape them to skewers to swizzle in your drink. Or, throw in one of the gold paper straws you have left over from making the stars’

Everything you need to know: 'You can all mix a drink together, there are fun recipes for cocktails in my book, Celebrate Everything'

Darcy Miller knows how to throw a party

Everything you need to know: As a founding editor of Martha Stewart Weddings and author of Celebrate Everything!, Darcy knows a thing or two about throwing a beautiful party

Make a festive toast 

A toast is something you can do together without physically being together, and a  signature drink can add to the celebratory spirit, according to the author.

‘You can all mix a drink together, there are fun recipes for cocktails in my book, Celebrate Everything.’

Darcy recommends describing your drinks and sharing recipes with your loved ones on the call.

For a speakeasy-approved beverage, don’t forget the garnish! 

‘Freeze cranberries and mint leaves in ice cubes for festive (and flavorful) mix-ins.’

Touches: For a speakeasy-approved beverage, don't forget the garnish! 'Freeze cranberries and mint leaves in ice cubes for festive (and flavorful) mix-ins'

Touches: For a speakeasy-approved beverage, don’t forget the garnish! ‘Freeze cranberries and mint leaves in ice cubes for festive (and flavorful) mix-ins’

Name tags: 'Print and cut out our holiday wreath wine charms to accessorize the stem of your wine glass

Name tags: ‘Print and cut out our holiday wreath wine charms to accessorize the stem of your wine glass

‘Download our printable

‘Print and cut out our holiday wreath wine

Cheers! 

Santa emcee: Josh Wood and Mimi Eayrs, the dynamic duo behind JWP , one of the world's leading forces in event production, fundraising, and celebrity engagement, reveal how to keep a Zoom call under control

Santa emcee: Josh Wood and Mimi Eayrs, the dynamic duo behind JWP , one of the world’s leading forces in event production, fundraising, and celebrity engagement, reveal how to keep a Zoom call under control

Josh Wood and Mimi Eayrs, the dynamic duo behind one of the world’s leading forces in event production, 

Assign roles

‘Designate a host who will take care of sending out invites and setting up the Zoom room,’ said Josh and Mimi.

Is someone in the family particularly tech-savvy? 

The duo behind the Highline Festival with David Bowie suggest having them on standby to assist relatives that will inevitably experience complications.

To prevent Zoom call madness, they recommend appointing an emcee.

‘By sorting out roles and responsibilities ahead of time, you’ll set the family up for a stress-free holiday,’ shared the experts.

Team: Josh Wood and Mimi Eayrs, the dynamic duo behind one of the world's leading forces in event production, JWP , reveal how to keep a Zoom call under control

Team: Josh Wood and Mimi Eayrs, the dynamic duo behind one of the world’s leading forces in event production, JWP , reveal how to keep a Zoom call under control

Organize: 'Designate a host who will take care of sending out invites and setting up the Zoom room,' said Josh and Mimi

Organize: ‘Designate a host who will take care of sending out invites and setting up the Zoom room,’ said Josh and Mimi

Have a plan and set expectations

‘Wherever possible, consider topics of conversation and organizational strategies (hand-raising, host control of participant volume, etc.)’ to avoid total chaos where everyone is shouting over one another,’ revealed the business partners who produced virtual events such as City Harvest’s New York Foodathon hosted by Seth Meyers. 

They believe that this will ensure even shy relatives have the opportunity to catch up with everyone.

Mimi recommends keeping virtual events under an hour or so.

Don’t abandon tradition

‘Every family has its own intricacies, including holiday traditions. Does yours always sing a certain song before dinner, pose for family portraits throughout the day, or enjoy a certain dish?

‘While things cannot and will not be exactly the same this year, many of these things can be translated to a virtual setting,’ they declared.

‘Go ahead and sing that song before dinner, choppy Zoom lag and all; snap that screenshot at the end of the day, and be sure to ask Aunt Mabel for her famous pumpkin pie recipe ASAP. 

‘The only downside there, and it’s a big one, is that you’ll have to bake it yourself.’             

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Hospital ends rule white patients can't have monoclonal antibodies

A Catholic hospital chain in the Midwest has axed a policy which gave white patients lower priority for potentially life-saving COVID treatment after a conservative law firm threatened legal action.

SSM Health, based in St Louis, , runs 23 hospitals across , Missouri, and , announced the climbdown Friday, hours after the legal warning was filed. 

On Friday, attorneys for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty wrote to the hospital, asking that they end the ranking system used to determine which patients get priority for monoclonal antibodies — a popular method for reducing the risk of severe COVID symptoms.

The letter cited a December 31 email to physicians by SSM Health, which referenced a risk scoring calculator in which non-white patients received a seven-point head start out of 20 total, when judging whether to administer the antibodies.

‘For example, a 50-year-old white female (15 points) suffering from obesity (1 point), asthma (1 point), and hypertension (1 point) would not be eligible for mAbs because she does not receive the 20-point minimum score under the calculator,’ the letter stated. 

‘On the other hand, an otherwise healthy 50-year-old African-American female (22 points), without any of these health risks, would be eligible.’  

Rick Esenberg, an attorney for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, wrote a letter on Friday to Laura Kaiser, the CEO of SSM Health

Laura Kaiser, the CEO of SSM Health, said that their organization no longer used race-based criteria for COVID treatment

Rick Esenberg (left), an attorney for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, wrote a letter on Friday to Laura Kaiser (right), the CEO of SSM Health, about their policy for determining COVID treatment

The attorneys, led by Rick Esenberg, wrote that the grading system was immoral and illegal.

‘The approach taken by your calculator is not only profoundly unethical and immoral, it is illegal,’ they argued. 

‘Federal law forbids race discrimination.’

SSM Health’s CEO, Laura Kaiser, said in response that the calculator cited by the attorneys was outdated and no longer in use.

‘While early versions of risk calculators across the nation appropriately included race and gender criteria based on initial outcomes, SSM Health has continued to evaluate and update our protocols weekly to reflect the most up-to-date clinical evidence available,’ the company said in a statement.

‘As a result, race and gender criteria are no longer utilized. 

‘The internal memo cited by WILL inadvertently referenced an expired calculator.’

The hospital chain had said previously that the ‘ethical justification’ for the race-based policy was that ‘COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on low income communities and certain racial/ethnic minorities in the United States.’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that racial and ethnic minority groups have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

They say the reasons for the disparity are complex.

‘Some of the many inequities in social determinants of health that may increase risk of severe illness (such as hospitalization, intubation, and death) from COVID-19 include access to quality healthcare, general h and  were told they could face potential discrimination lawsuits after they issued guidance using race as a factor in prioritizing  treatment. 

The Utah and Minnesota Departments of Health both published guidance notifications that stated race and ethnicity could be considered when determining eligibility for COVID Monoclonal antibodies treatment due to the virus’ greater impact in communities of color.

Utah’s policy also included a COVID-19 Risk Score card for medical professionals to numerically weigh the risks through several medical factors, with ‘non-white race or Hispanic/Latinx ethnicity’ scoring two extra points. 

In response to the backlash, Minnesota last week withdrew the recommendation, but it remains on the books in Utah. 

America First Legal, a conservative law group founded by former adviser Stephen Miller, claimed the policies violated federal law through ‘blatant discrimination.’ 

‘Using a patient’s skin color or ethnicity — rather than the unique and specific medical circumstances of an individual patient — as a basis for deciding who should obtain lifesaving medical treatment is appalling,’ the group wrote in letters first reported by .

The Utah Department of Health asks medical professionals to use this score card to determine which patients are most at risk. Being non-white grants the patient two extra points

The Utah Department of Health asks medical professionals to use this score card to determine which patients are most at risk. Being non-white grants the patient two extra points

The Minnesota Department of Health said it was following through the recommendations of the FDA, which acknowledge a racial disparity in COVID-19 cases and said race and ethnicity ''may also place individual patients at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19'

The Minnesota Department of Health said it was following through the recommendations of the FDA, which acknowledge a racial disparity in COVID-19 cases and said race and ethnicity »may also place individual patients at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19′

The Utah and Minnesota Department of Health both published guidance notifications that stated race and ethnicity could be considered when determining eligibility for COVID Monoclonal antibodies treatment

The Utah and Minnesota Department of Health both published guidance notifications that stated race and ethnicity could be considered when determining eligibility for COVID Monoclonal antibodies treatment

‘The color of one’s skin is not a medical condition akin to hypertension, heart disease, or obesity, which are known to aggravate the risk of death or severe illness among those infected with COVID-19,’ the letters continued. 

‘Directing medical professionals to provide or deny medical care based on immutable characteristics like skin color, without regard to the particular health conditions of the individual patients who are seeking these life-saving antiviral treatments, is nothing more than an attempt to establish a racial hierarchy in the provision of life-saving medicine.’ 

The Utah Department of Health defended their decision in a press release on Tuesday, explaining that those who were ‘non-white race or Hispanic/Latinx people are 35-50% more likely to be hospitalized’ than their white counterparts. 

‘For those who do not automatically qualify, Terbaik sumatera the risk score was developed to include other factors proven to increase risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19,’ the agency said. 

‘Each factor in the risk score represents a condition or characteristic that has been shown to put a person at elevated risk for severe disease or hospitalization.’ 

Nobody automatically qualifies for treatment based on their race or ethnicity through the Utah or Minnesota policies. 

In their state’s policy, the Minnesota Department of Health said it was following through the recommendations of the FDA, which acknowledge a racial disparity in COVID-19 cases and said race and ethnicity »may also place individual patients at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.’ 

Miller told Fox that the policies were discriminatory against white people. 

‘These racist policies decide questions of life and death based on skin color and must be rescinded immediately. It’s an abomination,’ he said. 

‘They radically violate federal law, the United States Constitution, and the sacred principle of equal justice for all. 

‘No right is safe if the government can award or deny medical care based on race. End this horrid injustice.’  

In December, the Food and Drug Administration () authorized ‘s monoclonal antibody treatment for people at high risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Unlike other monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID, AstraZeneca’s treatment is designed for patients who are not currently infected with the — but wish to protect themselves from potential future infections.

In a clinical trial, the treatment reduced the risk of developing symptomatic COVID by 77 percent for patients who were over age 59 or had chronic medical conditions. The treatment may protect patients for up to six months. 

The FDA has authorized AstraZeneca's monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID, designed for patients with weakened immune systems. Pictured: A patient receives Regeneron's monoclonal antibody treatment in Sarasota, Florida, September 2021

The FDA has authorized AstraZeneca’s monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID, designed for patients with weakened immune systems. Pictured: A patient receives Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment in Sarasota, Florida, September 2021

Unlike other monoclonal antibody treatments, AstraZeneca's treatment is designed to be preventative - taken before a patient gets sick. Pictured: Packaging and vials for the treatment

Unlike other monoclonal antibody treatments, AstraZeneca’s treatment is designed to be preventative — taken before a patient gets sick. Pictured: Packaging and vials for the treatment

give patients’ immune systems a boost in warding off COVID disease.

In the treatment, patients are infused with antibodies — a type of immune system protein — that have been designed in a lab specifically to fight COVID.

During the last year, monoclonal antibody treatments have become increasingly popular for patients who are at high risk of developing severe symptoms, due to their age or preexisting health conditions. 

The new treatment, called Evusheld, is authorized for patients who have weakened immune systems and are more vulnerable to the virus as a result.

People who have a history of serious side effects from COVID vaccines or components in those vaccines are also eligible for Evusheld.

Unlike monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID that the FDA has previously authorized, AstraZeneca’s treatment is designed as a preventative measure. 

AstraZeneca’s treatment includes a combination of two monoclonal antibody drugs, which are administered together over the course of two injections. 

AstraZeneca's treatment is designed to stay active in patients' bodies for a long time and may provide protection for six months. Pictured: A worker packages the treatment, December 2021

AstraZeneca’s treatment is designed to stay active in patients’ bodies for a long time and may provide protection for six months. Pictured: A worker packages the treatment, December 2021

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U.S. examining Alibaba's cloud unit for national security risks -…

By Alexandra Alper

WASHINGTON, Jan 18 (Reuters) — The Biden administration is reviewing e-commerce giant Alibaba’s cloud business to determine whether it poses a risk to U.S.national security, according to three people briefed on the matter, as the government ramps up scrutiny of Chinese technology companies’ dealings with U.S. firms.

The focus of the probe is on how the company stores U.S. clients’ data, including personal information and intellectual property, and whether the Chinese government could gain access to it, the people said.The potential for Beijing to disrupt access by U.S. users to their information stored on Alibaba cloud is also a concern, one of the people said.

U.S. regulators could ultimately choose to force the company to take measures to reduce the risks posed by the cloud business or prohibit Americans at home and abroad from using the service altogether.

Former President Donald Trump’s Commerce Department was concerned about Alibaba’s cloud business, but the Biden administration launched the formal review after he took office in January, according to one of the three people and a former Trump administration official.

Alibaba’s U.S.cloud business is small, with annual revenue of less than an estimated $50 million, according to research firm Gartner Inc. But if regulators ultimately decide to block transactions between American firms and pts terbaik sumatera Alibaba Cloud, it would damage the bottom line one of the company’s most promising businesses and deal a blow to reputation of the company as a whole.

A Commerce Department spokesperson said the agency does not comment on the «existence or non-existence of transaction reviews.» The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Alibaba declined to comment.It did flag similar concerns about operating in the U.S. in its most recent annual report, saying U.S. companies that have contracts with Alibaba «may be prohibited from continuing to do business with us, including performing their obligations under agreements involving our…cloud services.»

The probe into Alibaba’s cloud business is being led by a small office within the Commerce Department known as the Office of Intelligence and Security.It was created by the Trump administration to wield broad new powers to ban or restrict transactions between U.S. firms and internet, telecom and tech companies from «foreign adversary» nations like China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela.

The office has been particularly focused on Chinese cloud providers, one of the sources said, amid growing concern over the potential for data theft and access disruption by Beijing.

The Trump administration issued a warning in August, 2020 against Chinese cloud providers including Alibaba, «to prevent U.S. citizens’ most sensitive personal information and our businesses’ most valuable intellectual property…from being stored and processed on cloud-based systems accessible to our foreign adversaries.»

Cloud servers are also seen as ripe for hackers to launch cyber attacks because they can conceal the origin of the attack and offer access to a vast array of client networks.

While there are scant public cases of the Chinese government compelling a tech company to turn over sensitive customer data, indictments of Chinese hackers reveal their use of cloud servers to gain access to private information.

For example, hackers connected to the Chinese Ministry of State Security penetrated HPE´s cloud computing service website and used it as a launch pad to attack customers, plundering reams of corporate and government secrets for years in what U.S.prosecutors say was an effort to boost Chinese economic interests.

«PILLAR OF GROWTH»

Alibaba, the world’s fourth largest cloud provider according to research firm Canalys, has about 4 million customers and describes its cloud business as its «second pillar of growth.» It saw a 50% rise in revenue to $9.2 billion in 2020, though the division accounts for just 8% of overall sales.

It has boasted business relationships with units of top U.S.companies including Ford Motor Co, IBM’s Red Hat, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, according to press releases.

While the sweeping Trump era powers don’t cover foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies, U.S. regulators have previously found ways to link them to their U.S.parent companies, which can in turn be subject to restrictions.

Before tech tensions between the United States and China started to boil, Alibaba had big ambitions for its U.S. cloud business. In 2015, it launched a cloud computing hub in Silicon Valley website its first outside of China, with plans to compete with Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc’s Google.It later added additional data centers there and in Virginia.

A person familiar with the matter says the company scaled back its U.S. gambit during Trump’s presidency as tensions with China escalated.

In 2018, U.S. authorities blocked a bid website by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, now Ant Group, to acquire U.S.money transfer company MoneyGram International Inc over national security concerns. But a move to put Ant Group on a trade blacklist failed website and an executive order banning its mobile payment app Alipay was revoked by Biden website

Biden, like Trump, has placed more and more restrictions on Chinese companies.Last month, the U.S. government put investment and export curbs on dozens of Chinese firms website including top drone maker DJI, accusing them of complicity in the oppression of China’s Uyghur minority or helping the military. (Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Additional Reporting by Karen Freifeld, Chris Bing, and Echo Wang; Editing by Chris Sanders and Edward Tobin)

U.S. examining Alibaba's cloud unit for national security risks -…

By Alexandra Alper

WASHINGTON, Jan 18 (Reuters) — The Biden administration is reviewing e-commerce giant Alibaba’s cloud business to determine whether it poses a risk to U.S.national security, according to three people briefed on the matter, as the government ramps up scrutiny of Chinese technology companies’ dealings with U.S. firms.

The focus of the probe is on how the company stores U.S. clients’ data, including personal information and intellectual property, and whether the Chinese government could gain access to it, the people said.The potential for Beijing to disrupt access by U.S. users to their information stored on Alibaba cloud is also a concern, one of the people said.

U.S. regulators could ultimately choose to force the company to take measures to reduce the risks posed by the cloud business or prohibit Americans at home and abroad from using the service altogether.

Former President Donald Trump’s Commerce Department was concerned about Alibaba’s cloud business, but the Biden administration launched the formal review after he took office in January, according to one of the three people and a former Trump administration official.

Alibaba’s U.S.cloud business is small, with annual revenue of less than an estimated $50 million, according to research firm Gartner Inc. But if regulators ultimately decide to block transactions between American firms and Alibaba Cloud, it would damage the bottom line one of the company’s most promising businesses and deal a blow to reputation of the company as a whole.

A Commerce Department spokesperson said the agency does not comment on the «existence or non-existence of transaction reviews.» The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Alibaba declined to comment.It did flag similar concerns about operating in the U.S. in its most recent annual report, saying U.S. companies that have contracts with Alibaba «may be prohibited from continuing to do business with us, including performing their obligations under agreements involving our…cloud services.»

The probe into Alibaba’s cloud business is being led by a small office within the Commerce Department known as the Office of Intelligence and Security.It was created by the Trump administration to wield broad new powers to ban or restrict transactions between U.S. firms and internet, telecom and tech companies from «foreign adversary» nations like China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela.

The office has been particularly focused on Chinese cloud providers, one of the sources said, amid growing concern over the potential for data theft and pts terbaik sumatera access disruption by Beijing.

The Trump administration issued a warning in August, 2020 against Chinese cloud providers including Alibaba, «to prevent U.S. citizens’ most sensitive personal information and our businesses’ most valuable intellectual property…from being stored and processed on cloud-based systems accessible to our foreign adversaries.»

Cloud servers are also seen as ripe for hackers to launch cyber attacks because they can conceal the origin of the attack and offer access to a vast array of client networks.

While there are scant public cases of the Chinese government compelling a tech company to turn over sensitive customer data, indictments of Chinese hackers reveal their use of cloud servers to gain access to private information.

For example, hackers connected to the Chinese Ministry of State Security penetrated HPE´s cloud computing service website and used it as a launch pad to attack customers, plundering reams of corporate and government secrets for years in what U.S.prosecutors say was an effort to boost Chinese economic interests.

«PILLAR OF GROWTH»

Alibaba, the world’s fourth largest cloud provider according to research firm Canalys, has about 4 million customers and describes its cloud business as its «second pillar of growth.» It saw a 50% rise in revenue to $9.2 billion in 2020, though the division accounts for just 8% of overall sales.

It has boasted business relationships with units of top U.S.companies including Ford Motor Co, IBM’s Red Hat, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, according to press releases.

While the sweeping Trump era powers don’t cover foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies, U.S. regulators have previously found ways to link them to their U.S.parent companies, which can in turn be subject to restrictions.

Before tech tensions between the United States and China started to boil, Alibaba had big ambitions for its U.S. cloud business. In 2015, it launched a cloud computing hub in Silicon Valley website its first outside of China, with plans to compete with Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc’s Google.It later added additional data centers there and in Virginia.

A person familiar with the matter says the company scaled back its U.S. gambit during Trump’s presidency as tensions with China escalated.

In 2018, U.S. authorities blocked a bid website by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, now Ant Group, to acquire U.S.money transfer company MoneyGram International Inc over national security concerns. But a move to put Ant Group on a trade blacklist failed website and an executive order banning its mobile payment app Alipay was revoked by Biden website

Biden, like Trump, has placed more and more restrictions on Chinese companies.Last month, the U.S. government put investment and export curbs on dozens of Chinese firms website including top drone maker DJI, accusing them of complicity in the oppression of China’s Uyghur minority or helping the military. (Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Additional Reporting by Karen Freifeld, Chris Bing, and Echo Wang; Editing by Chris Sanders and Edward Tobin)

Experts reveal how to keep the season merry and bright over Zoom

According to a study by , 67% of Americans believe it is more important than ever to celebrate the holidays despite the pandemic.

Fifty percent are actually excited to have a reason to stay at home this holiday. 

While traditions will have to be adjusted, Bed Bath & Beyond’s findings also revealed that families are going all-out on holiday cheer to ‘enjoy the present’ this year.

Illustrator and Author of Celebrate Everything!, Darcy Miller, and pts terbaik sumatera the duo behind JWP production company, Josh Wood and Mimi Eayrs, reveal how to embrace the changes to make sure the season stays merry and bright.  

Love is the answer: According to a study by Bed Bath & Beyond, 67% of Americans believe it is more important than ever to celebrate the holidays despite the pandemic. Just because your holiday gathering has moved to Zoom, that doesn't mean you can't fill it with festive cheer

Love is the answer: According to a study by Bed Bath & Beyond, 67% of Americans believe it is more important than ever to celebrate the holidays despite the pandemic. Just because your holiday gathering has moved to Zoom, that doesn’t mean you can’t fill it with festive cheer

<img id="i-47e2f120d870314b" website height="625" width="634" alt="Go for it: 'A fun, fast, and free way to bring instant ambiance to your Zoom holiday party is to customize your Zoom background,' shares ‘String them into garlands, hang them from the bookcase, mantel or window behind you, or from the ceiling above you so that anyone who Zooms in is seeing stars,’ she suggests.’

Simple: 'One easy DIY way to decorate is using gold paper straws .You can turn them into shiny gold stars to fill your Zoom universe'

Simple: ‘One easy DIY way to decorate is using gold paper straws .You can turn them into shiny gold stars to fill your Zoom universe’

‘And while you’re at it, put on some gold jewelry to match, whether it’s the real thing or a letter «pendant» made out of gold straws and a pipe cleaner and tied onto a ribbon as a necklace.  

‘You can also make these for your friends, sending them their initial in the mail before the Zoom, so everyone can coordinate. 

‘Even if you have pajama bottoms on below the screen, some festive jewelry or red lipstick will make you feel like you’re at a party.’

Wolf & Badger Creative Director and Co- Founder, Henry Graham agrees. 

‘Accessories are the order of the day when it comes to video calls,’ said Henry.

He suggests a statement piece of jewelry, a light-weight scarf, or a cute hat. 

Pucker up: 'Download our printable mistletoe stirrers and tape them to skewers to swizzle in your drink. Or, throw in one of the gold paper straws you have left over from making the stars'

Pucker up: ‘Download our printable mistletoe stirrers and tape them to skewers to swizzle in your drink. Or, throw in one of the gold paper straws you have left over from making the stars’

Everything you need to know: 'You can all mix a drink together, there are fun recipes for cocktails in my book, Celebrate Everything'

Darcy Miller knows how to throw a party

Everything you need to know: As a founding editor of Martha Stewart Weddings and author of Celebrate Everything!, Darcy knows a thing or two about throwing a beautiful party

Make a festive toast 

A toast is something you can do together without physically being together, and a  signature drink can add to the celebratory spirit, according to the author.

‘You can all mix a drink together, there are fun recipes for cocktails in my book, Celebrate Everything.’

Darcy recommends describing your drinks and sharing recipes with your loved ones on the call.

For a speakeasy-approved beverage, don’t forget the garnish! 

‘Freeze cranberries and mint leaves in ice cubes for festive (and flavorful) mix-ins.’

Touches: For a speakeasy-approved beverage, don't forget the garnish! 'Freeze cranberries and mint leaves in ice cubes for festive (and flavorful) mix-ins'

Touches: For a speakeasy-approved beverage, don’t forget the garnish! ‘Freeze cranberries and mint leaves in ice cubes for festive (and flavorful) mix-ins’

Name tags: 'Print and cut out our holiday wreath wine charms to accessorize the stem of your wine glass

Name tags: ‘Print and cut out our holiday wreath wine charms to accessorize the stem of your wine glass

‘Download our printable

‘Print and cut out our holiday wreath wine

Cheers! 

Santa emcee: Josh Wood and Mimi Eayrs, the dynamic duo behind JWP , one of the world's leading forces in event production, fundraising, and celebrity engagement, reveal how to keep a Zoom call under control

Santa emcee: Josh Wood and Mimi Eayrs, the dynamic duo behind JWP , one of the world’s leading forces in event production, fundraising, and celebrity engagement, reveal how to keep a Zoom call under control

Josh Wood and Mimi Eayrs, the dynamic duo behind one of the world’s leading forces in event production, 

Assign roles

‘Designate a host who will take care of sending out invites and setting up the Zoom room,’ said Josh and Mimi.

Is someone in the family particularly tech-savvy? 

The duo behind the Highline Festival with David Bowie suggest having them on standby to assist relatives that will inevitably experience complications.

To prevent Zoom call madness, they recommend appointing an emcee.

‘By sorting out roles and responsibilities ahead of time, you’ll set the family up for a stress-free holiday,’ shared the experts.

Team: Josh Wood and Mimi Eayrs, the dynamic duo behind one of the world's leading forces in event production, JWP , reveal how to keep a Zoom call under control

Team: Josh Wood and Mimi Eayrs, the dynamic duo behind one of the world’s leading forces in event production, JWP , reveal how to keep a Zoom call under control

Organize: 'Designate a host who will take care of sending out invites and setting up the Zoom room,' said Josh and Mimi

Organize: ‘Designate a host who will take care of sending out invites and setting up the Zoom room,’ said Josh and Mimi

Have a plan and set expectations

‘Wherever possible, consider topics of conversation and organizational strategies (hand-raising, host control of participant volume, etc.)’ to avoid total chaos where everyone is shouting over one another,’ revealed the business partners who produced virtual events such as City Harvest’s New York Foodathon hosted by Seth Meyers. 

They believe that this will ensure even shy relatives have the opportunity to catch up with everyone.

Mimi recommends keeping virtual events under an hour or so.

Don’t abandon tradition

‘Every family has its own intricacies, including holiday traditions. Does yours always sing a certain song before dinner, pose for family portraits throughout the day, or enjoy a certain dish?

‘While things cannot and will not be exactly the same this year, many of these things can be translated to a virtual setting,’ they declared.

‘Go ahead and sing that song before dinner, choppy Zoom lag and all; snap that screenshot at the end of the day, and be sure to ask Aunt Mabel for her famous pumpkin pie recipe ASAP. 

‘The only downside there, and it’s a big one, is that you’ll have to bake it yourself.’             

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