Google’s former CEO lists $24.5 million mansion in most expensive ZIP code in the US

Business Insider 

Eric Schmidt bought his mansion for around $2 million in 1990, according to Zillow, and is now trying to sell it for $24.5 million.

Eric Schmidt, Google’s ex-CEO, is selling his Atherton mansion for $24.5 million.The property, located in the most expensive US zip code, includes a main home and a guest house.Schmidt, who served as Google and Alphabet chairman, has a net worth of around $23.9 billion.

Google’s former CEO, Eric Schmidt, and his wife, Wendy, are selling their Atherton mansion for $24.5 million.

The 5,265 square-foot listing includes a main home and a guest house in the most expensive zip code in the US. Schmidt’s current net worth is estimated at around $23.9 billion, according to Forbes’ ranking.

Schmidt, 69, served as CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011. He later served as chairman for Google and its parent company, Alphabet, until 2018.

Since leaving his role as CEO, Schmidt turned his focus to tech investments and philanthropy.

The five-bedroom home at the top of a cul-de-sac in Atherton has been Schmidt’s primary residence for the last several decades.Schmidt purchased the Atherton home for $2 million in 1990.

The former CEO purchased the Atherton home for around $2 million in 1990, according to estimates by Zillow. The home was built in 1969, according to the listing.

Atherton, a small town in San Mateo County, is known to be a hotspot for tech moguls, like former Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, and former HP CEO Meg Whitman.Other tech titans like Sheryl Sandberg and Paul Allen also purchased Atherton homes.

Schmidt is one of several tech executives that have called Atherton home.

Tech investors Ben Horowitz and Marc Andreessen, as well as early Tesla investor Alan Salzman, have also bought properties in Atherton.The home has dark hardwood flooring and traditional nodes of design.

The prestigious town is about a 45-minute drive to San Francisco and less than 20 minutes from the headquarters of Google, Meta, and Tesla. The average household income in Atherton is over $450,000.

It isn’t the only home Schmidt bought in California. He bought Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi’s 7,000-square-foot Montecito mansion in 2007.Schmidt’s portfolio includes multiple properties on the East and West Coast.

He bought the home for $20 million and used to rent it out for weddings. However, he reportedly struggled to keep renting it after Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries used the home as their wedding venue and divorced soon after.

The billionaire also bought a Southern California “French chateau” in Los Angeles in 2014, about five minutes from the Playboy Mansion.

He also bought homes on the East Coast. In 2013, he purchased a $15 million penthouse in New York City and reportedly spent millions soundproofing it.The Atherton kitchen has marble counters, white wooden cabinets, and a steel stove area.

Schmidt and his wife purchased a home in Nantucket in 1999, where she reportedly spent most of her time.

The billionaire also reportedly paid $67.6 million for a 267-foot superyacht in 2023.

The exterior of the guest house has an outdoor fireplace, an amphitheater on one side, and a cascading water feature on the other.The home was designed by Schwanke architecture in 1969.

Both the guest house and main home were designed by Schwanke Architecture.

The home has multiple terraces and access to the outdoors in almost every room.The home has ample amounts of natural light.

The home has ample access to natural light with large open doors and windows throughout the home.

The estate has five bedrooms, eight total bathrooms, and a fireplace in the living room and family room.The estate has five bedrooms and eight total bathrooms.

The two-story home also has a wet bar, according to the online listing by The reSolve Group.

Schmidt’s mansion includes three acres of park-like grounds and an outdoor pool.The property has an outdoor pool and three acres of park-like grounds.

The property has a 3.36 acre lot and 5,265 square foot living area, according to the listing.

Like many Atherton homes, landscaping surrounding the house creates a secluded feel to the property.Many Atherton homes are secluded by landscaping or fencing.

Both the front and back of the house are shaded by large trees and greenery. The back of the house also has a fenced area to create privacy.

The estate includes a diverse selection of mature plants and specimen trees from Amdega Conservatory imported from the UK.The home features a greenhouse.

The greenhouse is equipped with wooden shelves, a sink, and black and white floor tiles.

The home also has several areas for growing plants or produce. The home has a greenhouse and outdoor garden area.

In addition to the greenhouse, the outdoor area has several planting plots.

The home embraces the California landscape of while incorporating European design. The dining room has a traditional design with large windows and greenery.

Dark wooden furniture and flooring contrast against bright green outdoor openings in the estate.

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Tech titans love Modi’s economic powerhouse India — despite mass unemployment and abject poverty

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Indian economy has grown strongly under Narendra Modi, whose party is set to win another term.India’s success has caught the eye of figures including Elon Musk, Jamie Dimon, and Tim Cook.Youth unemployment, income inequality, regional disparities, and Russian oil remain big problems.

India’s powerful economic growth and blossoming middle class under Narendra Modi have caught the eye of corporate titans like Elon Musk, Jamie Dimon, and Tim Cook.

Modi is pretty much a shoo-in for a third term as prime minister after the national election now underway ends on June 1. But the work starts there, as he’ll have to navigate thorny issues such as youth unemployment, income inequality, and reliance on sanctioned Russian oil.

Fueling growth and shaking hands

India’s economy has more than doubled in size during Modi’s decade in charge to more than $3.7 trillion last year.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently upgraded its growth forecast for real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to a robust 7.8% this year, 6.8% in 2025, and 6.5% in 2026.

India has already overtaken Britain to become the world’s fifth-largest economy. It’s on track to leapfrog Japan and Germany into third spot behind the US and China by 2027.

The country’s flagship stock index has also tripled in value since Modi took office in May 2014, thanks to wealth gains and growing investment appetites.

Moreover, one estimate puts the percentage of the Indian population living on less than $2.15 a day at below 5%, down from 12% in 2011. However, the World Bank pegged that figure at nearly 13% in 2021.

India’s middle class has also ballooned with 60 million people now earning the rupee equivalent of more $10,000 a year — about $37,200 once adjusted for purchasing power. Goldman Sachs expects the ranks of the relatively affluent to swell to 100 million by 2027.

“Modi has done an unbelievable job in India,” JPMorgan’s Dimon told the Economic Club of New York last month. “I know the liberal press here, they beat the hell out of him. He’s taken 400 million people out of poverty.”

Musk has posted on X that he’s looking forward to visiting India and meeting Modi this year. He delayed his trip last month, blaming “very heavy Tesla obligations.” The pair are expected to discuss Tesla building a multibillion-dollar factory in the country.

As for Apple’s Cook, he hailed India on a November earnings call as an “incredibly exciting market” and a “major focus of ours” given the explosive growth in potential customers as locals get richer.

Narendra Modi at a White House roundtable with Joe Biden, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook in June 2023.

Modi has also met with Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, Microsoft boss Satya Nadella, and Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai. He’s likely to be seeking to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) in India — and to capitalize on bosses’ desire to hedge their bets on China given its strained relationship with the US, economic woes, and how disruptive its strict pandemic lockdowns were to global supply chains.

“India’s population and economic growth numbers are causing a lot of global executives to revisit their India presence and consider scaling up,” Richard Rossow, a senior advisor and chair in US-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, told Business Insider.

“Paired with increased concerns about supply chain resilience and security concerns about China, it’s a very good time for a hard push to win investments.”

The United Nations said that India and China both had a population of 1.426 billion in April last year, meaning India is probably now the most populous given its rising birth rate.

Change for the better — mostly

Modi has instigated a raft of major economic reforms since taking office, intended to make India more business-friendly, and boost government revenues by taxing more of the country’s vast informal economy.

He rolled out a tax on goods and services, simplified bankruptcy laws, lifted FDI restrictions, cut corporate income tax, and ended retrospective taxation.

However, not all of Modi’s moves spurred growth.

“Demonetisation was a key economic policy which had negative effects on the economy,” Kunal Sen, a director of the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics, told BI.

Sen is the author of several books about India’s economy and a professor of development economics at the University of Manchester.

He was referring to Modi’s sudden declaration in November 2016 that all 500 and 1,000-rupee bills — 86% of Indian currency in circulation — would no longer be accepted as legal tender.

The government’s goals were to capture undeclared income, get rid of counterfeit currency, broaden the tax base, and bring more activities into the formal economy.

“The other key economic policy was JAM — the trinity of bank accounts for the poor, mobile numbers and a biometric card. This last economic policy has been revolutionary,” Sen said.

He was hailing a broader digitization drive under Modi that has transformed how Indians bank, invest, pay their taxes, and conduct business.

Prosperity for all

Modi’s efforts have helped to usher in a more prosperous era for some Indians, but many have been left behind.

Young people are India’s beating heart, with about half its population under 25 and almost two-thirds under 35. Matching those hundreds of millions of people with jobs has proven a challenge, with youth unemployment almost tripling from below 6% in 2000 to about 18% in 2019. It still stands at a hefty 10% in 2023, per the International Labor Organization.

The report found that nearly 30% of India’s graduates were unemployed in 2022, and only about 10% of the working-age population was formally employed.

A farmer uses oxen to plow fields for lentils in Nimaj, Rajasthan, northern India.

“Unemployment is a big issue,” Rossow said, emphasizing this isn’t just a problem with recent graduates but a “much, much larger bubble: the underemployed farm laborers.”

Rising agricultural productivity is likely to help farm workers make a faster transition to city life in the years ahead, but they’ll struggle to secure modern jobs in the services industry “without significant reskilling and education,” Rossow said.

As a result, lower-skilled manufacturing and assembly jobs and lower-end services jobs will be needed, he added.

Another major challenge will be tackling a widening wealth divide. The richest 10% of the population hold more than 72% of the nation’s wealth, per an Oxfam report published last year.

Business tycoons Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani both rank among the world’s 15 richest people, per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Luxury-goods sales are booming with long waitlists for flashy purchases like the Mercedes “G Wagon.”

Mukesh Ambani, Isha Piramal, Rihanna, Shloka Mehta Ambani, Akash Ambani and Radhika Merchant on stage during pre-wedding celebrations for Anant and Radhika.

The lavish pre-wedding party thrown by the Ambani family earlier this year was singled out by some as an affront to the huge number of Indians living in poverty.

Almost 1.3 billion people live on less than $3,500 a year by one estimate, and India ranks 111th on the Global Hunger Index, below even North Korea.

Rising equality is partly explained by a “capital-intensive mode of economic growth along with increasing power of business conglomerates,” Sen told BI, referring to how huge companies like the Adani Group secure huge government contracts to build ports, bridges, highways, and other infrastructure.

A third challenge is regional inequality, as some states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh haven’t experienced the same growth and modernization of their economies as others, Rossow said.

The Russia riddle

One striking aspect of Modi’s economic boom has been its reliance on Russia since it invaded Ukraine in early 2022.

India went from getting 2% of its crude oil from Russia before the war, to 35% last year. During that period, the US and Europe slapped sanctions on Russian oil to defund Putin’s military machine and punish Moscow for attacking a sovereign nation.

Despite that, India purchased an estimated $37 billion of Moscow’s oil in 2023 — 13 times the amount it bought annually prior to the conflict. Its buying helped Russia rake in a record $320 billion of federal revenue last year.

Indian demand for Russian oil has cooled in recent months as new sanctions have made it more expensive, but the buying remains controversial.

Officials in India have defended the purchases, saying that if they’d bought Middle Eastern oil instead, global crude prices would have shot up.

India is also one of the world’s largest oil refiners and has helped Western nations to maintain access to refined petroleum products even as they’re refraining from buying Russian crude directly.

Yet the country imports 85% of its oil, so its overriding interest is securing the cheapest oil possible to support its development, said Neelima Jain, a senior fellow and chair in US India Policy Studies at CSIS.

“India will continue to buy Russian oil if the price remains favorable and allows for firm volume guarantees, as the country prioritizes energy affordability and accessibility during its rapid rural-to-urban transition, which has led to a 6% year-on-year growth in energy demand,” she told BI.

“In an inflationary environment, economics [rather] than geopolitics will drive India’s energy choices.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation leaders’ summit in Samarkand on September 2022.

India the IT hub

Under Modi, India has made big strides in modernizing its economy, combating bureaucracy, and appealing to foreign investors.

Big Tech stalwarts like Microsoft have a long history of outsourcing to India, but recent efforts to cut red tape and slash corporate taxes appear to have fueled fresh interest.

Sweeping layoffs at Alphabet, Amazon, Meta, Salesforce and other US tech titans in the past few years could presage a large exodus of jobs to India.

Sanjay Shetty of Randstad India told The Economic Times last summer that he expected 30% to 40% of the tech jobs eliminated globally to move to India by 2025.

“India is going to be the biggest gainer in the medium to long term, as almost every company that we speak to is looking at expanding its India base,” Shetty said.

Even if that pans out, it won’t be a panacea for a country facing not just unemployment and underemployment, but also stark income inequality, regional disparities, and the risk of alienating Western allies by continuing to buy Russian oil.

Yet overall, India appears to be headed in the right direction.

“The growth is real, if focused on a few key states,” Rossow said. “India’s dynamic technology services sector is to IT services what China is to manufacturing. So there is much to cheer, even as the reform agenda seems to never end.”

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Armies need their own drone air force flown by specialist soldiers, study says

Business Insider 

A Ukrainian soldier from the battalion of unmanned attack air systems “Achilles” of the 92nd Separate Assault Brigade prepares the “Vampir” night drone for an operation near the town of Chasiv Yar, Donetsk region, on April 22, 2024.

Drone warfare is changing fast and demands battalions of specialists to fully exploit its potential.The group would fly support drones to increase the effectiveness of its attack and spy drones.The air war in Ukraine has become a cat-and-mouse game where drones must constantly evolve.

Experience in Ukraine suggests that armies should concentrate drones in special battalions that have the skills pilots to fly them and the programmers to rapidly adapt to constant jamming, according to British defense experts.

Ukrainian data shows “the efficiency of [Unmanned Aerial Vehicle] operations when conducted by a dedicated formation has risen from 10 percent up to 70 percent for some mission sets,” according to a report by the Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank. The report did not provide any more specifics on the data, other than a footnote that said it was based on Ukrainian General Staff “datasets of mission performance between different formations” that RUSI accessed in Ukraine in February 2024.

The RUSI report advocates the creation of “mass precision strike complex” units that launch integrated swarms of drones comprised of different types of reconnaissance and combat UAVs. The concept seems similar to “strike packages” of manned combat jets, which combine attack, escort and electronic warfare planes on a mission. To be clear, the report isn’t calling for infantry platoons to be stripped of their backpack-carried drones, which have proven indispensable in Ukraine and the Middle East. But it does argue that for some tasks, such as long-range surveillance and strike, it’s more efficient and economical to achieve this through dedicated units.

“UAVs may be distributed to provide units with situational awareness, but mass precision strike should be managed by a specialist formation,” the report concluded. In addition to better mission planning by personnel trained and experienced in drone operations, “experience from contemporary theatres shows that almost all UAV capabilities are highly susceptible to hard counters as the adversary learns how the UAV functions; capabilities must therefore be continuously adapted and their supporting mission data files updated. This requires scarce skills such as UAV design and programming and the accumulation of data centrally.”

RUSI envisions each drone battalion being equipped with everything needed to conduct a variety of UAV operations. The units would comprise “airframes and their payloads, and the launch crews, command links, planning tools, intelligence support and design teams required to field the capability,” wrote RUSI researchers Jack Watling and Justin Bronk.

Drone battalions would have five types of UAVs whose capabilities range from spying enemy advances to blasting critical rear sites with explosives. This would include “situational awareness UAVs optimized for tactical reconnaissance; tactical strike UAVs; ISR [reconnaissance] UAVs able to penetrate into operational depth; operational strike UAVs; and platform-launched effects designed specifically to synchronize with and enable other weapons systems.”

The idea is to have self-contained formations that can identify and destroy targets across the battlefield and beyond. To support friendly ground troops in contact with the enemy, flocks of expendable reconnaissance drones would operate up to 5 miles beyond the enemy front line. They would locate targets, such as armored vehicles and infantry trenches, that could be quickly hit by the battalion’s cheap attack drones.

Meanwhile, longer-range reconnaissance drones would stalk up to 60 miles into the enemy’s rear, searching for artillery pieces, air defense batteries and command posts that could be hit by missiles and other guided weapons. The drone battalion would also launch long-range strike weapons — with a range out to 300 miles — that could destroy fixed sites, such as supply depots, bridges and ammunition dumps. “By offering a persistent threat of precision strike against logistical infrastructure and command and control elements, these capabilities would add significant friction to the enemy’s ability to resupply and coordinate forces, and therefore to achieve concentration,” the report said. “These capabilities also represent a concern for air and naval forces insofar as they threaten infrastructure and basing.”

A Ukrainian serviceman launches a drone during a press tour in the Zhytomyr Region, northern Ukraine on September 20, 2023.

To maximize the effectiveness of reconnaissance and strike drones — and to keep them from being knocked down by enemy air defenses — the battalion would also have a variety of support UAVs. This would include long-endurance airborne communications drones to relay datalinks between the combat UAVs and ground operations, electronic warfare drones to jam radars and communications systems, and decoy drones to confuse enemy air defenses.

The Ukraine conflict demonstrates how warfare has become a cat-and-mouse game where drones must constantly evolve to survive enemy jamming of their control links. “As of mid-2023, the average period of peak effectiveness for a newly deployed UAV navigation and/ or control system on the battlefield was around two weeks, with degrading effectiveness over four more weeks,” the report noted. “Between six and 12 weeks, the adversary would have gathered sufficient data on the waveforms and techniques being used to start effectively jamming and/or spoofing the system across the front.”

Non-drone units lack the capability to identify and develop the software and communications challenges to respond to enemy countermeasures. “It therefore makes sense to concentrate UAV operation if UAVs are parts of a mass precision strike complex,” the report concluded.

The issue of whether to concentrate or disperse assets is an old one. Until World War II, tanks were dispersed in small packets among infantry divisions, while aircraft were assigned to the ground forces. But experience proved that tanks were most effective when massed in tank divisions, and aircraft were best assigned to an independent air force that specialized in aerial operations (some still question the wisdom of the latter).

Drone operations may very well be more efficient in the hands of specialized battalions. But regular units will inevitably want their own drones that are available when needed, rather than having to request support from others. The issue is unlikely to be settled quickly or easily.

Michael Peck is a defense writer whose work has appeared in Forbes, Defense News, Foreign Policy magazine, and other publications. He holds an MA in political science from Rutgers Univ. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Critics have panned Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘Unfrosted.’ One called it ‘one of the worst films of the decade.’

Business Insider 

Jerry Seinfeld directed, cowrote, and stars in “Unfrosted.”

Jerry Seinfeld’s directorial debut, “Unfrosted,” is out now on Netflix.Critics said that the movie is filled with gags but doesn’t have a clear, interesting story.Some said only few moments in the movie are actually funny.

Jerry Seinfeld‘s new movie “Unfrosted,” about the creation of Pop-Tarts, has been flooded with negative reviews, leaving critics wondering why the comedy movie isn’t very funny.

Seinfeld’s directorial debut is framed as a comedic take on more serious brand biopics that have become popular in recent years, including movies such as “Air” and “Blackberry.”

Instead of recreating real-life events, Seinfeld’s film features bizarre, fictional moments.

Seinfeld recently stirred controversy after telling the New Yorker that TV comedy had been ruined by “the extreme left and PC crap, and people worrying so much about offending other people.”

Unfrosted” appears to respond to this, as many critics said the movie is filled with uninhibited jokes that overtake the story. But, according to them, there are a few moments in the film where the jokes land.

Here’s what critics have said about “Unfrosted,” which is streaming now on Netflix.

Some critics were positive and said the film had some truly funny moments.Christian Slater as Mike Diamond and Jerry Seinfeld as Bob Cabana in “Unfrosted.”

“Unfrosted” currently has a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score of 42% and an audience score of 53%.

Despite this, the film debuted with a rotten rating (to have a fresh score, more than 60% of the reviews need to be positive). Some critics did enjoy the film.

The Guardian‘s film critic Peter Bradshaw said the film was “amiable and funny.”

Meanwhile, The New York Times selected the movie as its Critic’s Pick for the week. In its review, Amy Nicholson wrote, “The jokes spill forth so fast that there’s no time for the shtick to get soggy.”

However, most were not as nice.

One critic described it as “one of the worst films of the decade .”Drew Tarver as Pop, Mikey Day as Crackle, Kyle Mooney as Snap, and Andy Daly as Isaiah Lamb in “Unfrosted.”

The Chicago Sun-Times entertainment columnist Richard Roeper wrote that the film was “one of the worst films of the decade so far.”

William Bibbiani, a critic for The Wrap, began his review: “Jerry Seinfeld’s new comedy ‘Unfrosted’ is an impressive film. It’s not a good film, and it’s not a funny film, but if you watch the first three hours on Netflix and then pause it, you’ll find that somehow only one hour has passed. And that is pretty impressive, in a boring way.”

The Telegraph film critic Tim Robey described his viewing experience as “trapped in a writers’ room full of stale air.”

“When we reach minute 25, and not one joke has sparkled, you dream of escape,” he said.

Critics said “Unfrosted” doesn’t give any insight into the creation of Pop-Tarts.Jerry Seinfeld as Bob Cabana, Cedric The Entertainer as Stu Smiley, and Jim Gaffigan as Edsel Kellogg III in “Unfrosted.”

If you are interested in the history of Pop-Tarts, this movie is not for you. Some critics have described the movie as “hollow,” arguing that the story has nothing to say about Pop-Tarts, the cereal business, or even brand biopics.

Daily Beast critic Nick Schager wrote: “With no inspired perspective on its subject matter, the film proves a soggy attempt at deriving humor from a breakfast-wars premise that seems better fit for a five-minute Saturday Night Live sketch.”

Ross Bonaime, Collider‘s senior film editor, wrote, referring to “Seinfeld”: “Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that the man who created a ‘show about nothing’ has also made a movie that feels as hollow as a Froot Loop. Seinfeld has made a directorial debut that ends up feeling like a bowl of sugary cereal: not a terrible thing to eat, but not as fulfilling or substantial as you might’ve hoped it would be.”

Critics say the movie sacrifices the story for jokes that aren’t good.Max Greenfield as Rick Ludwin and Amy Schumer as Marjorie Post in “Unfrosted.”

The one thing “Unfrosted” offers is jokes and gags and, according to critics, there’s a lot of them.

Bonamine wrote that the bizarre storylines in the movie are used to drop more jokes and “an absurd amount of cameos” rather than telling an interesting story.

“It’s as though Seinfeld and his team crafted the jokes they wanted to tell within this world, then created a flimsy story around it to collect them all,” he wrote.

Bibbiani wrote: “There’s a non-stop cavalcade of celebrity cameos which aren’t funny because, for the most part, the whole joke is that they’re celebrity cameos. The humor is thuddingly blunt, and the punchlines constantly call attention to themselves, which robs them of their punch.”

Kate Stables wrote for GamesRadar: “The mad rush to see how many jokes, pastiches, and celebrity cameos it can pack in (there’s a terrific Mad Man interlude) produces a periodically frantic feel, amped up by the many 60s hits on the soundtrack.”

Critics say the tone of the movie is all over the place.Jim Gaffigan as Edsel Kellogg III, Jerry Seinfeld as Bob Cabana, Fred Armisen as Mike Puntz, and Melissa McCarthy as Donna Stankowski in “Unfrosted.”

Many critics also said the movie failed to have a consistent tone because of the absurdity of the jokes.

Bonamine wrote that the cinematography sometimes made the movie look like a “candy-colored dream world,” while other moments felt like a “single-camera sitcom.”

The Times of London film critic Kevin Maher wrote: “The tone, however, is scattershot at best, and the film swings between madcap Willy Wonka-style fable and soft corporate satire.”

Danny Leigh, a Financial Times critic, concluded his review that the movie feels like it was constructed for Seinfeld’s own enjoyment.

“What strange mix of nostalgic boomers, under-12s, and Seinfeld completists is the target audience for a film that plays like a comedy for kids, but with running gags about Walter Cronkite’s drinking?” he wrote. “Then you get the joke. It has been made for the only person on earth it could also have been made by: Jerry Seinfeld. He still can’t act, and I’m really not sure he can direct either, but he has the gift of a true auteur for making a movie in his image.”

“Unfrosted” is filled with cameos, but only a few standouts.Hugh Grant as Thurl in “Unfrosted.”

“Unfrosted” boasts a big cast of major names, including Jon Hamm, Hugh Grant, Melissa McCarthy, Bill Burr, Peter Dinklage, and Fred Armisen. However, only a few actors stand out.

Bibbiani said Grant, who stars as the man under the Tony the Tiger cereal mascot, “has the film’s only consistently funny subplot.”

Bradshaw wrote: “There are also nice supporting roles and cameos, including an extraordinary dual walk-on from Jon Hamm and John Slattery, recreating their ad exec Mad Men personae Don Draper and Roger Sterling.”

Schagor wrote that one of the child actors, Eleanor Sweeney, “manages to one-up the film’s cavalcade of stars” in one scene.

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A college is hosting a sold-out Taylor Swift masterclass for parents ahead of the star’s UK tour

Business Insider 

Taylor Swift.

A UK college is running a crash course on all things Taylor Swift ahead of her UK tour.The one-day course is aimed at parents and plus ones of Swifties.The college says the course will provide “the full Love Story on all things Eras Tour.”

A college in Scotland is running a crash course on all things Taylor Swift ahead of the pop star’s UK leg of her Eras Tour.

The one-day course held by Glasgow Clyde College is aimed at parents and plus-ones of Swifties set to attend the singer’s three-night stopover in Edinburgh.

The college says the course will provide “the full Love Story on all things Eras Tour to help them have the best night of their lives.”

“From set lists and crowd chants to need-to-know information on each Era, the course, which is being delivered by a Taylor Swift expert, will give members of the public a whistle-stop lesson that’ll leave them ready for the gig,” the college says on its website.

The Eras Tour, which has already become the highest-grossing tour of all time, pays tribute to Swift’s first 10 studio albums and the unique styles and staging that accompanied them.

The release of the singer’s 11th studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” in April could mean that the setlist will change from previous legs of the tour, however — but the college seems likely to have that covered.

Glasgow Clyde College assistant principal Robert Anderson told local media outlet The Scotsman: “Taylor mania doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon, and we expect it’ll reach its peak here in Scotland in June. We understand that not everyone will be up to speed on all things Taylor and might not get the full Eras experience,” he said.

“That’s why we created this masterclass – to prepare those who’ll be heading along to the gig with their superfan kids, friends or partners to ensure they have just as memorable a time,” he continued. “Taylor’s gigs are known for being so well crafted, and unless you’re a fan yourself, you might miss some of the iconic moments.”

Taylor Swift performs during The Eras Tour in Melbourne.

The course is due to be held on May 7, one month before Swift kicks off her UK tour.

European cities could benefit from Swift’s tour

Swift is taking her Eras Tour to 18 European cities this summer, and many are hoping Swifties will splash the cash as they arrive.

The tour has already boosted the US, Singaporean, and Australian economies, with eager fans spending big on things like travel, accommodation, and merchandise.

Taylor Swift performs during The Eras Tour in Sydney.

While the UK and the rest of Europe have yet to feel the full effect of Swift’s presence, the price of hotels and short-term rental homes across Scotland have shot up as opportunistic hoteliers and rental hosts have sought to take advantage of increased demand for accommodation.

Around 200,000 people are expected to attend across the star’s three performances at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, told Business Insider that there would be a “ripple effect” from the shows that will be felt across Scotland.

“We’re a small country. It’s important that those who are coming from further afield, don’t just go straight back to where they came from,” he said, adding that they would hopefully go and visit some other parts of Scotland.

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Electric vehicle tax credit update: See if you qualify

TheStreet 

TheStreet’s Conway Gittens brings the latest business headlines from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as markets close for trading Friday, May 3.

Related: Stock Market Today: Apple powers tech; stock surge after softer jobs data

Full Video Transcript Below:

CONWAY GITTENS: Investors look ahead to another big week of earnings and changes around which electric vehicles qualify for tax credits. I’m Conway Gittens with TheStreet – those stories coming up

I’m Conway Gittens reporting from the New York Stock Exchange. Here’s what we’re watching on TheStreet today.

Investors are reacting positively to the April jobs report. While the U.S. economy posted its weakest job growth in six months, investors hope the softer than expected report could mean the Fed will cut interest rates soon, rather than later. Markets are pricing in a 50 percent chance the Fed slashes rates by September.

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Investors are also looking ahead to a busy week of earnings – names like Airbnb, Uber, Warner Brothers Discovery, and several others are slated to release quarterly results next week.

Looking at other business headlines: If you’re interested in buying an electric vehicle – there might be some good news coming your way The U.S. government has changed some of the rules around tax credits for EVs. Automakers will now have more time to comply with electric battery regulations, meaning more EVs could be eligible for a tax credit of up to $7,500.

But there is some fine print here to consider. The amount of credits given depend on a person’s income, where the car was assembled, and requirements tied to a car’s battery makeup. Forget about the full tax credit if the car contains battery minerals from countries considered hostile to the U.S. Countries on that list include China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

According to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, only 13 of the 114 EV models currently sold in the U.S. are eligible for the full $7,500 credit.

The changes are aimed at trying to persuade more Americans to purchase electric vehicles. The Biden Administration’s goal is to have half of all new vehicle sales be electric by 2030. EV sales grew by only 3.3 percent in the first three months of this year, compared to a 47 percent increase in the same period a year ago .

That’ll do it for your daily briefing. From the New York Stock Exchange, I’m Conway Gittens with TheStreet.

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

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The Sleep Foundation announced its ‘best overall’ cooling bed sheets, and they’re on sale at Amazon

TheStreet 

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TheStreet aims to feature only the best products and services. If you buy something via one of our links, we may earn a commission.

There are tons of sheets on the market, but not very many have the stamp of approval from sleep experts. If you’re looking for the best summer bedding you could possibly find, then you’ve come to the right place.

The Luxome Luxury Sheet Set has been named the Sleep Foundation’s “best overall” option for cooling sheets, and they just so happen to be on sale at Amazon. Prices start at $155 and the set can be ordered in sizes twin through California King to fit most mattresses. The four-piece set includes two pillowcases, one flat sheet, and one fitted sheet compatible with mattresses up to 17 inches thick. Each piece is made of rayon derived from bamboo using a sateen weave that sets it apart from cotton or polyester bedding. This type of material is known for feeling silky-soft, is naturally hypoallergenic, and helps regulate body temperature. 

Luxome Luxury Sheet Set, From $155 (was $165) at Amazon

Courtesy of Amazon

To ensure the fabric retains its softness, the sheets should be washed in cold water with mild detergent on a gentle cycle. Then, they should be hung to dry or placed in the dryer on a low heat setting.

Although you can never go wrong with a neutral tone like this light gray shade, the sheets are also available in 10 other colorways to fit your preferences. No matter which you choose, it’ll automatically make your bed look extra comfortable and inviting.

The sheets are so popular that they’ve almost completely sold out on the Luxome website, but it’s still in stock in every size at Amazon where it has racked up hundreds of five-star ratings. One shopper described them as “pure luxury” and went on to say, “I purchased these a couple months ago, and will never sleep on cotton sheets again. They have held up to multiple washes and just get softer every time. These feel like they should be way more expensive, just the most luxurious sheets I’ve ever owned.”

Several other people rave that they’re “worth the money” and are “perfect sheets for hot sleepers.

Considering the Luxome Luxury Sheet Set has nearly sold out on the brand’s website, you shouldn’t waste any time adding it to your Amazon cart while prices start at $155. After all, you can’t put a price on comfort, and with proper care, the sheets should last for years to come. 

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Ferrari isn’t giving up on its biggest, gas-guzzlers just yet

TheStreet 

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In recent years, Ferrari  (RACE)  has adopted the use of some clever new technologies to help them adapt to a New World that is headed toward more efficient and more environmentally friendly cars.

Plug-in hybrids like its 296 GTB sports car is its latest top seller, and it’s partnering with academics and scientists on EV battery research.

However, big, gas-guzzling V12 engines remain as the heart and soul of the prancing horse, and its latest supercar is an automotive statement that says ‘we are not done yet.’

Related: Ferrari is making a high-performance investment into its electric future

Ferrari 12Cilindri Coupe and Spider

Ferrari


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Dubbed the 12Cilindri (Italian for “12 cylinders”), Ferrari’s latest grand touring supercar is a perfect blend of old style, new technology, and outright power and speed.

As evident from its name, the 12 has a 6.5 liter V12 engine connected to an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox under its long hood. But what makes this different from many other contemporary supercars, Ferrari’s V12 is not turbocharged, supercharged or used as part of a hybrid-electric setup like in Lamborghini’s Revuelto. 

Instead Ferrari installed upgraded engine parts, tweaked the software and even injected some Formula 1 technology to make the big powertrain unit run smoother and more mechanically efficient. The result is an eye-watering 819 horsepower, 500 pound feet of torque and a dizzying redline at 9,500 rpm. 

Ferrari 12Cilindri

Ferrari


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In coupe form, the 12Cilindri goes from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds and tops out at 211 miles per hour. In drop-top “Spider” form, the 0-60 time is slightly dampened to about 2.95 seconds, but will reach the same top speed.

From the outside, the 12 in both coupe and convertible form is a shape that stands out from the rest of the Ferrari lineup. Upon first glance, the overall shape of the car suggests that the design was influenced from the Prancing Horse’s classic 365 GTB/4 Daytona (the first “Miami Vice” car), albeit combined with modern day design elements such as LED daytime running lights, and an aggressive aerodynamic body kit.

The “modern” elements continue in the interior, where screens dominate major parts of the available dashboard real estate. In front of the driver is a massive 15.6-inch screen displaying the gauges and vital car information, while the passenger gets an 8.8-inch screen displaying the same information. In the middle is a 10.25-inch infotainment screen featuring standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wireless charging for your smartphone. A 15-speaker Burmester sound system is optional. 

Related: Ferrari is making big money on a very unusual new type of vehicle

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The 12 also features some very clever pieces of technology designed to keep you on the road, such as brake-by-wire, a four-wheel independent steering system and a system called Slide Slip Control 8.0, which can learn real-time grip levels for maximum traction. 

Pricing for the United States market has not been announced, but judging by its European asking price of about $424,000 for the coupe and $467,000 for the Spider, it won’t be very cheap. 

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

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Analysts weigh in on Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway ahead of its meeting

TheStreet 

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Warren Buffett is as famous, and probably as successful, as any investor in U.S. history – from J.P. Morgan to Joseph Kennedy to George Soros.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway  (BRK.B)  conglomerate says it registered a compound annual return of 19.8% from its 1965 inception to 2023.

Such a performance is simply astounding. It’s almost double the 10.2% for the S&P 500 during that period, including dividends. The company’s annual shareholders meeting begins Saturday.

The 93-year-old Oracle of Omaha, as Buffett is affectionately known, started his investing career by looking for “cigarette butts.” That’s fair companies trading at a great price. But then his late partner Charlie Munger convinced him to seek great companies at a fair price instead.

Perhaps Buffett’s most successful investment is auto insurer Geico. Buffett made his first purchase of the discount insurers’ shares in 1951 as a Columbia University business student. Berkshire gained full ownership of Geico in 1995.

Other famous companies owned by Berkshire include BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) Railway, See’s Candies, and Dairy Queen.

While you can’t buy big companies like Buffett does, you can buy shares in Berkshire Hathaway. One analyst thinks it could be wise to do that now.

Warren Buffett, the “Oracle of Omaha,” is a living investment legend.

Image source: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc

Buffett and Berkshire are cash magnets

Berkshire’s insurance companies provide a steady stream of cash through premiums. That gives Buffett the firepower to buy stakes in other companies as it did with Apple or the corporations outright as it did with BNSF.

At the end of last year, Berkshire’s cash reserves were $168 billion, giving it plenty of dry powder to do deals.

However, the company is judicious with its horde, even when buying back Berkshire Hathaway’s stock. He only buys Berkshire Hathaway when Buffett considers shares cheap. Berkshire snatched 3,808 Class A shares this year through March 6, paying about $2.2 billion to $2.4 billion.

Related: Top investor: What’s next for stock of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire

Buffett, one of the world’s wealthiest people, is well-known for Berkshire’s stock holdings, which totaled about $869 billion as of Dec. 31. That makes it one of the biggest equity managers in the world.

Its biggest holdings exiting last year were cellphone/computer legend Apple  (AAPL) , followed by Bank of America  (BAC) , credit-card luminary American Express  (AXP) , beverage icon Coca-Cola  (KO) , and oil stalwart Chevron  (CVX) .

Buffett’s investment philosophy is to hold shares as long as fundamentals dictate.

Given his success, thousands, probably millions, of investors and analysts are enamored with and influenced by Buffett. His folksy demeanor has made him basically the financial advisor for the entire country.

Expert words of praise for Buffett and Berkshire

One analyst lauding Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway is Greggory Warren of Morningstar, a pre-eminent investment research firm for individual investors.

Related: Unless you’re Warren Buffett, you’re better off investing in an ETF, top economist says

“Berkshire, owing to its diversification and its lower overall risk profile, offers one of the better risk-adjusted return profiles in the financial services sector,” he wrote in a commentary.

“And it remains a generally solid candidate for downside protection during market selloffs. We remain impressed by Berkshire’s ability in most years to generate high-single- to double-digit growth in book value per share, comfortably above our estimate of its cost of capital.”

The future looks bright, Warren says. “It will take some time before the firm finally succumbs to the impediments created by the sheer size and scale of its operations,” he opined.

“And the departures of Buffett and Munger will have less of an impact on future operating results than many investors believe.”

Warren said Berkshire has broad fundamental strength. “Its decentralized business model, broad business diversification, high cash-generation capabilities, and unmatched balance sheet strength [act] as true differentiators for the firm.”

More Warren Buffett:

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Meanwhile, Catherine Seifert, an analyst at CFRA, says now is a good time to buy Berkshire stock. It’s “undervalued versus historical averages,” she wrote in a commentary.

“We expect improved claim trends at Geico and strong reinsurance results will provide the shares with a catalyst for continued outperformance.”

Her 12-month target price for B shares is $472, compared to Friday’s quote of $402. The estimate assumes shares will trade at 22.6 times her 2025 operating earnings estimate.

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

The author owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway.

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Hope Hicks broke down in tears on the witness stand during Trump-damaging testimony at hush-money trial

Business Insider 

Hope Hicks, a former longtime advisor to Donald Trump, took the witness stand in his hush-money trial Friday.Just after Trump’s lawyer began cross-examining her, she broke down in tears.Hicks was Trump’s 2016 campaign press secretary and later his White House communications director.

Hope Hicks, an ex-White House aide and longtime advisor to Donald Trump, broke down in tears while on the witness stand Friday in the former president’s hush-money criminal trial.

Her voice cracked as she began answering questions in the afternoon from defense lawyer Emil Bove, who had asked her whether the Trump Organization created the position of communications director to persuade her to join the company in October 2014.

After answering “yes,” Hicks grabbed a tissue and turned to her left while sitting on the witness stand. She turned her face and body away from the courtroom audience.

“Ms. Hicks, do you need a break?” the trial judge, Juan Merchan, asked.

“Yes, please,” she responded in a cracked voice, while facing away from the judge.

After the judge announced a break just before 3 p.m., Hicks walked across the courtroom, passing by Trump without looking at him.

Hicks is a key witness in the trial, potentially linking Trump directly to what prosecutors call an election-influencing scheme to purchase a porn star’s silence in the days before the 2016 presidential election.

On the stand in the chilly 15th-floor downtown Manhattan courtroom, she said she was testifying pursuant to a subpoena in the historic case.

Prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office allege Trump falsified 34 business records in order to cover up an illegal $130,000 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

The payment, delivered by Trump’s ex-personal attorney and former fixer Michael Cohen, was wired to Daniels 11 days before the 2016 presidential election to buy her silence over a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump, according to records shown as evidence in the trial.

Trump’s lawyers have claimed the payment was not an illegal campaign contradiction, and it was made to avoid personal embarrassment.

But Hicks — Trump’s 2016 campaign press secretary — testified about working with Trump and Cohen as the campaign responded to media inquiries about the scandal.

In their opening statements last week, prosecutors said the campaign was particularly vulnerable to the perceptions of female voters following the publication of the “Access Hollywood” tape. And so Trump sprung into action to block Daniels from going public about an affair she says she had with him, they said.

“I was definitely concerned this was going to be a massive story and make the news cycle for the next couple of days — at least,” Hicks said on the witness stand earlier Friday, describing her reaction to learning of the tape.

In her testimony, Hicks hurt Trump by showing how deeply he — and the campaign — worried about infidelity stories going public in the weeks before the election.

Hicks became emotional as prosecutors wrapped up their direct examination of her.

Her final answer helped bolster the district attorney’s case. She said Trump was happy that news of the hush-money arrangement with Daniels had become public in 2018.

“I think it was Mr. Trump’s feeling that it was better to be dealing with it now,” she said, “rather than just before the election.”

Hicks took the witness stand again after a five-minute break, looking flushed but calmer.

On cross-examination, she helped the defense by distancing the campaign from Cohen and his hush-money machinations.

“He was not looped in on the day-to-day” of the campaign, though he appeared to want to be, Hicks told jurors.

“He went rogue at times, it was fair to say?” Bove asked her.

“Yes,” Hicks answered, smiling. “I used to say that he likes to call himself a fixer or Mr. Fixit. But it was only because he first broke it that he was Mr. Fixit.”

Also during cross-examination, Hicks described Trump as a loving husband who genuinely cared about protecting his family from stories of infidelity.

“I don’t think he wanted anyone in his family to be hurt or embarrassed by anything that happened on the campaign,” she said.

“He wanted them to be proud of him,” she added of “Mrs. Trump” and the rest of Trump’s family.

Speaking to reporters in the hallway after the court day, Trump declined to answer Business Insider’s question about his reaction to Hicks’s testimony, saying he was bound by the gag order that New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan imposed, preventing him from talking about witnesses.

He pivoted to attacking the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which he said has “absolutely ruined and destroyed” the lives of “a lot of great people.”

“They’ve destroyed people’s lives. They’ve gone out, hired lawyers, they’ve been with lawyers for years. They suck dry,” he said. “And it’s a shame. It’s a shame what they’ve done.

Hicks described the Trump campaign’s frenzied reactions to the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape

Hicks was one of Trump’s most trusted advisors in his 2016 climb to the presidency. Federal prosecutors have previously said in court papers from the 2019 prosecution of Michael Cohen that she could directly tie Trump to the so-called “catch-and-kill” scheme.

She formally joined the Trump Organization in October 2014 after working with the public relations firm Hiltzik Strategies. As Trump began running for president, in 2015, she switched to a campaign role and traveled with him across the country, she testified.

On October 7, 2016 — less than a month before the election — Hicks received an email from Washington Post reporter David Fareholdt, informing her he had obtained the video, sending a transcript of Trump’s remarks about grabbing women “by the pussy,” and requesting a response from Trump.

She forwarded it to other campaign leaders: Jason Miller, David Bossie, Kellyanne Conway, and Steve Bannon.

“Deny, deny, deny,” Hicks wrote in an email, suggesting one possible response.

Hicks then went to the 25th floor of Trump Tower, she testified, where she said Trump was preparing for a presidential debate with Miller, Conway, Bannon, Jared Kushner, and Chris Christie.

“We weren’t sure how to respond yet,” she testified Friday. “We were trying to obtain the information and were processing the shock internally.”

Trump responded “that that didn’t sound like something he would say,” Hicks said.

Hicks said she was “a little stunned” at the time and struggled to get her bearings.

“I was definitely concerned this was going to be a massive story and make the news cycle for the next couple of days, at least,” she said.

“There was consensus amongst us all that the tape was damaging,” she added. “This was a crisis.”

Donald Trump poses for members of the media with then-White House Communications Director Hope Hicks on her last day in the role.

After a while, Trump presented a more dismissive attitude, Hicks said.

“It was just two guys talking, locker room talk. It was something that we shouldn’t get too concerned over,” Hicks said, relaying Trump’s attitude. “He didn’t want to offend anybody but he felt it was pretty standard for two guys talking about somebody.”

Hicks said media coverage of the “Access Hollywood” tape was so all-consuming that no one had paid attention to the Category 4 hurricane that was expected to hit the East Coast at the time.

“It dominated media coverage,” she said. “I would say the 36 hours leading up to the debate.”

Then came the Stormy

The Trump campaign realized it had a potential problem with female voters in the wake of the tape’s release, Hicks said.

Prosecutors suggested that dynamic colored the reaction to another inquiry from a journalist — Michael Rothfeld at The Wall Street Journal — on November 4, just four days before the 2016 election.

The email came when Trump’s private jet had landed in Ohio for a “hanger rally” with the plane in the background. Rothfeld had asked about a secret $150,000 arrangement between American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, and Karen McDougal. In the agreement, AMI bought the exclusive rights to McDougal’s story about an affair the former Playboy bunny said she had with Trump in 2006, when he was married to Melania Trump — but never published any articles about it.

Hicks had a phone call with Rothfeld, where he also mentioned Stormy Daniels, she testified.

Hicks tried to control the story, reaching out to Jared Kushner, who she said was friendly with the Journal’s owner Rupert Murdoch.

“He had a very good relationship with Rupert Murdoch and I wanted to see if we could buy a little extra time to deal with this,” she testified.

Kushner said he “wasn’t going to be able to reach Rupert,” she said.

Hicks also said she reached out to Michael Cohen, knowing he had a relationship with American Media Inc. owner David Pecker. And she reached out to Pecker’s office as well.

Pecker “explained that Karen McDougal was paid for magazine covers and fitness columns, and it was all very legitimate,” Hicks said. “And that was what the contract was for.”

After relaying that to Trump, Hicks said that Trump wanted to speak to Pecker himself and “have an understanding of what was going on.” On another phone call, with Trump, Pecker assured him the payment to McDougal was for fitness columns, Hicks testified.

Trump then personally crafted a campaign statement denying the accusations from McDougal, and any knowledge of the deal.

The published Journal article made mention of a possible affair and similar deal with Stormy Daniels, but focused on McDougal.

When the Journal published another article, in 2018, focused on the $130,000 Daniels, Hicks was at that point the White House communications director.

Trump told her Cohen had paid the $130,000 in hush-money “out of the kindness of his own heart” to protect him.

Hicks testified she found Trump’s explanation hard to believe.

“I’d say that would be out of character for Michael,” she said, to laughter in the court’s overflow room. “I didn’t know Michael to be an especially charitable person. Or selfless person. He’s the kind of person who seeks credit.”

This story has been updated with additional details.

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