Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Massachusetts students lead US in Advanced Placement exams

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Students in Massachusetts lead the nation in achievement on Advanced Placement exams, according to the nonprofit group behind the tests.

More than 32 percent of Massachusetts students who graduated from public high schools last year scored a three or better on at least one test, according to a report released Wednesday by the College Board.

They edged out students in Maryland, where 31.2 percent of 2017 graduates scored a three or better, effectively meaning they passed. Nationally, 22.8 percent passed an exam.

It’s the second year in a row in the top spot for Massachusetts, which also had the greatest increase in performance over the last decade.

“Massachusetts wins the prize,” said David Coleman, president and CEO of the College Board. “It is the state for two years running that has most expanded both access and performance, simultaneously.”

The College Board says it now works with 22,000 high schools across the U.S. to offer Advanced Placement courses, which are meant to align with introductory college classes.

Students who participate can take AP exams that some colleges accept as course credit, if the student scores well. Each exam typically carries a $94 fee.

Although some education experts debate the program’s effectiveness — and some critics say the quality has fallen amid expansion — the College Board’s new report says there has been continued improvement.

It says the number of students taking AP exams and the number scoring three or better over the last decade have both increased by nearly the same amount, about 70 percent.

“The wonderful thing is that performance has kept pace,” said Coleman, adding that much of the growth has been at low-income schools. “Many would never expect this.”

Michael Hansen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in education, says the report’s findings are “very encouraging” but aren’t likely to end debate over the program.

“The evidence is not at all clear that what you do on an AP test is all that strong of a predictor of how you’re actually going to do in class,” he said.

Among students who succeed on the test, black and Latino students have been growing the fastest. Last year they made up 27 percent of all students scoring three or better, compared to 17 percent in 2007.

Coleman credits states that have offered subsidies to help low-income students pay for exam fees, and to other groups that have worked to expand and improve AP programs.

In Massachusetts, for example, the state pays the nonprofit Mass Insight Education and Research to boost programs in districts with diverse student bodies.

Susan Lusi, president and CEO of Mass Insight, said it’s a strong partnership that helps the state offer challenging academic opportunities.

Massachusetts education officials did not immediately comment on the report.

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Follow Collin Binkley on Twitter at @cbinkley

'Friday the 13th' campground auctioning overnight stay — if you can handle it

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If you’ve got triskaidekaphobia, this event is not for you. And if horror movies give you nightmares, you also might want to skip this.

On Friday, April 13, some fans of the horror movie “Friday the 13th” will get a chance to stay overnight at the New Jersey camp where the original film in the slasher series was shot.

The VIP package at Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco in Hardwick Township — which is usually a Boy Scout camp that is closed to visitors — will be available via an auction that closes Feb. 27, NJ.com reported.

The original “Friday the 13th” film, featuring the hockey-masked killer Jason Voorhees, was released in 1980. It launched a franchise of at least 11 other films.

In addition to the overnight stay, Crystal Lake Tours is conducting a lottery for tours of the camp that will be held April 13 and 14, the report said. The deadline to enter the lottery is March 4, with names randomly chosen the following day. Ticket prices range from $135 to $175.

Special guest Adrienne King, who plays the lone survivor of the movie, will attend this year.

Click here for more from NJ.com.

John Stossel: Unions think you should be forced to pay for their ‘benefits’ – will Supreme Court agree?

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If your workplace is a union shop, are you forced to pay union dues? This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments about that.

When I worked at CBS and ABC, I was ordered to join the American Federation of Radio and TV Artists. That union had won a vote that gave them the right to speak for all reporters. I said, “I’m no ‘artist.’ I’m a reporter! I won’t join!” But my bosses said they couldn’t pay me unless I did.

In right-to-work states, unions can’t force people to join. But only 28 states are right to work. Aging socialist bureaucracies like New York state are not among them.

But now the Supreme Court may say that no government worker, in any state, can be forced to pay a union.

“If we lose this case, the entire public sector will be right to work,” warns Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, the big government employees union.

That outcome would thrill Rebecca Friedrichs. She’s the teacher who filed the right-to-work lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court two years ago.

Friedrichs got mad at the California Teachers Association during the last recession. Good teachers at her school were about to be laid off. She’d tried to protect them by getting all teachers to agree to a slight pay cut.

“All America was taking a pay cut then,” she told me. “Why should we be any different?”

But her union wouldn’t even allow her to survey other teachers. “They told me, Rebecca, don’t worry about those teachers who were about to lose jobs. … We’re going to give them a seminar on how to get unemployment benefits.”

That was one thing that made Friedrichs angry enough to sue the Teachers Association. Three years later, the Supreme Court agreed to hear her case.

Supreme Court watchers predicted that she would win. Union cheerleaders were pessimistic. Chris Hayes of MSNBC said that Friedrich’s case might “decimate the way that public sector unions function.”

But shortly before the justices voted, Antonin Scalia died.

“That was the most devastating day,” says Friedrichs. Without Scalia’s vote, the Court deadlocked 4 to 4.

Now a new suit has been filed by government worker Mark Janus. With Neil Gorsuch now the ninth justice, unions are worried.

In fact, they are so worried that AFSCME representative Steven Kreisberg agreed to do one of my YouTube interviews.

“Our members … want their union to have power,” he said. “It’s (Janus’) right to dissent and not be a member of our union. He only has to pay the fees that are used to represent him.”

But what’s the point of dissenting from the union if you still have to pay? Janus doesn’t want to be forced to pay for something he doesn’t agree with.

Kreisberg replied, “I’m not sure if he doesn’t agree with it, or just simply doesn’t want to pay because he’d like to get those services for free.”

That’s an argument a free-market advocate can understand: It’s not fair if people freeload off others’ work — getting benefits others fund. But who judges what is a “benefit”?

“If I saw their representation as a benefit, I could agree with that, but I don’t,” Friedrichs said. “The benefits aren’t worth the moral costs.”

Kreisberg responded, “That sounds like the words of a right-wing activist, not the words of a teacher.”

Janus’s lawsuit points out that Thomas Jefferson wrote, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

Kreisberg had a quick answer to that: “Thomas Jefferson had no sense of 21st-century labor relations.”

That’s probably true. But some principles are eternal, like deciding what to do with your own money and not being forced to fund speech with which you disagree.

The justices will announce their ruling sometime this summer. I hope that they’ll side with Jefferson. Forcing people to pay for what we don’t want is tyranny.

Lindsey Vonn earns bronze in likely last Olympic downhill

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Lindsey Vonn, one of the United States’ most famous Olympians, won a bronze medal Wednesday, becoming the oldest female medalist in Alpine skiing at the Winter Games in what will likely be her final downhill run.

Vonn, 33, surpassed Austria’s Michaela Dorfmeister, who was just shy of her 33rd birthday when she won the downhill and the super-G at the 2006 Turin Olympics. 

The race for Vonn was especially emotional because her grandfather died in November.

“I wanted to win so much because of him. But, I still think I made him proud,” and emotional Vonn told NBC. “Our family never gives up, and I never gave up. I kept working hard and I’m really proud of this medal, and I know he is too.”

Vonn wears his initials “DK” on the side of her helmet as a tribute.

“It’s sad, this is my last downhill. I wish I could keep going you know? I have so much fun, I love what I do,” she said. “My body just probably can’t take another for years.”

Sofia Goggia of Italy won the women’s downhill at Jeongseon Alpine Center. Vonn was hopeful of a higher finish, before Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway turned in a surprise silver-medal performance as the 19th racer on the course.

Then again, shocking finishes seem to be the norm on this hill. Ester Ledecka of Czech Republic made a late charge last week from back in the pack to take the super-G title. She skipped the downhill to step back into the snowboarding realm and will go through qualifying Thursday in the parallel giant slalom.

Goggia finished in a time of 1 minute, 39.22 seconds to hold off Mowinckel by 0.09 seconds. Vonn was 0.47 seconds behind Goggia.

This particular track just seems to suit Goggia’s aggressive skiing. She also edged Vonn in March to win the only World Cup downhill contested on the hill.

Goggia was behind at the top, but found another speed near the bottom. Vonn couldn’t match it when she skied off two spots later.

This was Goggia’s first gold at an Olympics or a world championships. She has four World Cup wins.

The night before the race, she said on her Twitter account: “Tomorrow I will push out of the starting gate in what will most likely be my last Olympic Downhill race. I’m trying to enjoy the moment as much as I can and I am thankful to share this race with such amazing teammates. I know everyone expects a lot from me, and I expect even … more of myself … however there’s only one thing I can guarantee; I will give everything I have tomorrow. Count on it.”

Mikaela Shiffrin didn’t race the downhill because of the altered Olympic program. When the Alpine combined was moved a day forward to Thursday, Shiffrin elected to skip the downhill race rather than compete in back-to-back days. The combined adds the times of a downhill and one run of slalom, her specialist discipline.

On social media, she said: “This. Track. Is. So. Fun! Only slightly bummed I’m not skiing it today cause we have 4 girls who are ready to hammer down and I can’t wait to watch!”

American Alice McKennis finished fifth.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Florida school set to reopen in phases after deadly shooting

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The Florida school where a gunman last week opened fire, killing 17 students and teachers, is set to reopen in phases starting on Friday, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School said in a statement.

When school opens on Friday at 8 a.m., the entire day will be dedicated to attending to staff members’ needs. There will be support services available. On Sunday, there will be a voluntary campus orientation for students and parents.

The district said it hopes for classes to resume on Tuesday. The classes will be on a modified schedule.

The suspect shooting appeared in court Monday for a procedural hearing about how legal paperwork would be handled in the case.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, said nothing when he made his first in-person appearance in Broward County Circuit Court. A previous appearance had been by a video connection from jail.

Cruz, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, kept his head down and did not appear to make eye contact with the judge or others in the courtroom, though the slightly built teen responded briefly to someone on the defense team.

It was a tense atmosphere — Cruz was surrounded by Broward Sheriff’s deputies as news media members and lawyers watched from the gallery.

The hearing concerned rules that will govern how documents are sealed. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said she was in favor of openness whenever possible.

Cruz is charged with killing 17 people and wounding many others in Wednesday’s attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which he once attended. Police say Cruz admitted last week to the mass shooting.

His lawyers have said he will plead guilty if prosecutors agree not to pursue the death penalty. No decision has been made on that.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Oil dips as U.S. dollar firms, oil production is expected to rise

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Oil prices fell on Wednesday, weighed down by the rebound of the U.S. dollar further away from three-year lows hit last week.

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An expected rise in U.S. oil production also weighed on prices, traders said.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $61.32 a barrel at 0307 GMT, down 47 cents, or 0.8 percent, from their last settlement.

Brent crude futures fell 39 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their last close to $64.86 per barrel.

Wang Tao, Reuters technical commodity analyst, said Brent could fall into a range of $63.92 to $64.41 per barrel, as suggested by its wave pattern and a projection analysis.

Traders said the declines were driven by a recovery in the dollar, which potentially hits fuel demand as it makes greenback-denominated oil imports more expensive for countries using other currencies.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, rose for a second day on Wednesday, moving further away from the three-year lows reached last week as traders shaved off some bearish bets against the U.S. currency.

“The U.S. dollar continues to find firmer footing,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore.

Also pressuring prices is surging U.S. production, now the world’s second-largest oil stream at more than 10 million barrels per day, only slightly behind Russia and ahead of top exporter Saudi Arabia.

“Bulging U.S. production will weigh on prices,” said Singapore-based Phillip Futures in a note on Wednesday.

The next set of weekly U.S. oil production data is due to be published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Thursday after a one-day delay because of the President’s Day holiday on Monday.

That data will also include U.S. inventory figures that are expected to show crude oil stockpiles rose 1.3 million barrels in the week to Feb. 16, according to a Reuters poll. Oil product stockpiles, including gasoline and distillate fuels, are all expected to decline.

Despite the rising U.S. output, overall oil markets remain well supported due to healthy demand growth and supply restraint by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that started last year to draw down excess global inventories.

(Reporting by Henning Gloystein Editing by Joseph Radford and Christian Schmollinger)

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CyberArk Software Ltd Sales Leap 25%

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CyberArk Software (NASDAQ: CYBR) reported fourth-quarter financial results on Feb. 15. The Israel-based cybersecurity company is enjoying robust demand for its Privileged Account Security solutions, which help to protect against cyberattacks that can infiltrate the most vital areas of an organization’s IT infrastructure.

CyberArk Software results: The raw numbers

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What happened with CyberArk Software this quarter?

Total revenue jumped 25% year over year to $80.4 million, fueled by a 19% rise in license revenue, to $48.6 million, and a 35% surge in maintenance and professional services revenue, to $31.8 million.

CyberArk’s growth was broad-based. Sales in its Americas division rose 18% to $43.6 million, while sales in its Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) division soared 41% to $32.5 million. Moreover, CyberArk’s insurance, transportation, and healthcare segments all enjoyed growth of more than 100%, while its government, manufacturing, and information technology business lines each delivered growth of over 40%.

“Our results demonstrate the healthy demand for our solutions across companies of all sizes and vertical markets,” Chairman and CEO Udi Mokady said in a press release.

Still, adjusted operating expenses increased 38% to $50.9 million, as CyberArk continues to expand its sales force and ramp up its investments in research and development. Expenses related to CyberArk’s acquisition of software development and operations security provider Conjur also contributed to the increase.

In turn, non-GAAP operating income — which excludes share-based compensation, acquisition-related expenses, and certain other items — inched up 1% to $19.7 million, as non-GAAP operating margin fell to 24% from 30% in the year-ago quarter. And non-GAAP net income increased 2% to $15 million, or $0.41 per share.

More importantly, CyberArk’s cash generation remains strong. The cyber-protection specialist’s operating cash flow topped $80 million in 2017, while its free cash flow came in under just under $74 million. Those figures represent growth of 43% and 38%, respectively, from the prior-year period.

Looking forward

CyberArk expects first-quarter revenue of $68.25 million to $69.75 million, representing year-over-year growth of 16% to 18%. The company also forecasts non-GAAP operating income of $9.2 million to $10.4 million and earnings per share of $0.19 to $0.22.

In addition, CyberArk issued financial guidance for 2018, including:

  • Total revenue of $312 million to $316 million, up 19% to 21% year over year.
  • Non-GAAP operating income of $54.5 million to $57.5 million, up 5% to 11%.
  • Non-GAAP EPS of $1.18 to $1.24 per share, up 2% to 7%.

“During the fourth quarter, we introduced enhancements to our Privileged Account Security solution that strengthened our leadership position as the most comprehensive solution across on-premises, hybrid, and cloud environments, as well as DevOps,” said Mokady. “As we look ahead, we remain focused on creating long-term shareholder value by delivering sustainable, profitable growth.”

10 stocks we like better than CyberArk SoftwareWhen investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now… and CyberArk Software wasn’t one of them! That’s right — they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

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Why Tesla, Inc. Investors Should Still Be Wary of Valuation Levels

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The shares of electric car and solar panel company Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) have hit correction territory, falling more than 10% from recent highs in September 2017. But the roughly 13% drop in the stock price has to be put into a broader context before investors make any decisions. That includes a look at valuation, which still could be a problem.

Could be a great company

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Before going any further, it’s important to point out that this is not an opinion on Tesla as a company. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk is clearly a visionary with ideas that have pushed the boundaries of the modern world. That includes things like solar panel roof tiles, space exploration, and, yes, electric cars. It could easily be argued that without Tesla’s all-electric automobiles forcing their hand, traditional car makers like Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) and General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) wouldn’t have moved as quickly as they have with alternative vehicles.

As for the cars Tesla makes, well, they are high-tech marvels. Not only do they look cool and drive well, but they incorporate leading edge features. That includes the materials they use, like a heavy reliance on light weight aluminum, and the programming in the cars, like Autopilot, which can largely drive the car itself in certain situations. But none of this speaks to Tesla as an investment.

Little corrected by the correction

To paraphrase Benjamin Graham, the father of financial analysis, price is what you pay and value is what you get. Since the market is more of a voting machine driven by popularity over the short term, investors are often asked to pay more than the true worth of what they are getting. Even after a more than 10% drop in Tesla’s shares, it still doesn’t look like a bargain. Let’s look at a few key valuation ratios.

The first number many investors look at is price-to-earnings ratio. That’s a problem for Tesla because it doesn’t have any earnings. In fact, it has yet to turn a full-year profit. Clearly, the company is still building for the future, but at some point Tesla will need to earn money. The big problem with this is that Musk’s ambitions for growth have led to huge spending. Without earnings, the company is largely reliant on the capital markets to afford that spending. This is why debt ballooned more than 60% year over year in the third quarter of 2017. With equally large plans for the future, including introducing an all-electric truck and an all-electric tractor trailer, it doesn’t look like the denominator in the P/E equation is going to get into the black any time soon.

But P/E isn’t the only valuation metric available to investors. There’s also price-to-sales ratio (P/S) and price to book value ratio (P/B). The interesting thing here is that these metrics are much lower than they once were, but are still elevated relative to the company’s peers.

For example, Tesla’s average P/S ratio over the past five years was roughly 8.9 times. However, it’s current P/S ratio is around 5.2 times. So the stock looks much cheaper than it once did on this metric. However, this compares to the broader market’s price to sales of roughly 2.3 times. Ford and GM, meanwhile, have P/S ratios of 0.28 and 0.38, respectively. Tesla may deserve a premium valuation, but the difference here is extreme.

The P/B ratio isn’t much better. Tesla’s five-year average P/B ratio is 29, with a current reading of around 12.2. Tesla is much cheaper today than it has been. However, the market’s P/B ratio is just 3.2. But compared to some auto peers, the story looks even worse, with GM’s P/B at 1.4 and Ford’s P/B ratio an even lower 1.3. Tesla again looks very expensive despite the price correction.

Father may know best

Graham’s most famous book is probably the classic The Intelligent Investor. He cautioned that most investors should take a defensive approach. To him that meant avoiding companies that didn’t earn money or pay regular dividends. It also meant waiting for a good deal rather than chasing richly valued stocks. Even after a more than 10% price drop, Tesla still wouldn’t pass Graham’s defensive investment screens. Tesla is an interesting and innovative company, but it doesn’t look like a good deal even at today’s lower prices.

10 stocks we like better than TeslaWhen investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now… and Tesla wasn’t one of them! That’s right — they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

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Can a Snap Store Keep the Rebound Going?

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Snap (NYSE: SNAP) may have posted surprisingly strong results for the fourth quarter, with higher revenues and more daily average users. But does the idea of the Snapchat parent selling plush toys and T-shirts make you want to buy its merch — and its stock — or does it have you dropping that 10-foot pole you were holding onto and running even farther away?

Snapping a streak

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There’s a lot to like in Snap’s Q4 report, but one quarter doesn’t make a trend. The company needs to build on it, and at first glance, it doesn’t look like its new app store will help it do that. Instead, it appears to be another ineffectual gesture the company has been making as it casts about for an identity. But if you dig a little deeper, there really may be something for investors to appreciate.

Currently, there’s not much for sale in the Snap Store, located in the Discover section of the app, which usually features curated content from select publishers. For a limited time, you can buy things like a Dancing Hot Dog plush doll, a Winkface sweatshirt, or a Dog Lens T-shirt, ranging in price from around $20 to $50. More products, we are told, will be coming soon.

You might be wondering: What is the company trying to accomplish with this? After all, Snap itself says it isn’t trying to make money with this effort (a good thing), and its results have been hit-or-miss with endeavors like its Spectacle camera glasses and various augmented reality lenses. And its platform redesign fell flat with critics, though it may have helped attract new users. This assortment of tchotchkes looks like another misfire.

A quick U-turn

Snap’s user numbers aren’t in decline, but their growth is no longer as robust as it used to be. Daily active users topped out at 187 million this quarter, up 18% year over year, but a far cry from the 48% growth it notched in the same quarter a year ago. However, it was the first time since early 2016 that its growth rate was higher than in the previous quarter. Revenues spiked higher, too.

So an investor would rightly wonder why Snap was wasting its time on something that wasn’t going to have an impact on the areas that could make a difference in its turnaround.

The fact is, the Snap Store actually may do that. At least, that’s the goal. By creating an outlet that allows it to engage its users more directly, it can drive brand loyalty. It also creates an opportunity to eventually sell other items, whether of its own design or from third-party sellers, which could encourage publishers to continue developing content for Snapchat, particularly if that helps them to monetize their own user engagement.

That would seem an opportune move in the wake of Facebook‘s (NASDAQ: FB) decision to de-emphasize publishers’ content in user feeds in favor of that from people’s family and friends. That hasn’t gone over well with content producers: Half of its Instant Article publishers have reportedly abandoned the site. A digital venue where they’re able to benefit jointly with a platform may well resonate with them.

Far too often, Facebook has run roughshod over Snap, updating its Instagram and WhatsApp apps to steal the best parts of Snapchat. Essentially, it’s been leveraging its size to do Snap better than Snap. This could give Snap a chance to turn the tables.

Snap needs to prove itself

The problem is the bull case rests on the word “could.” There’s no guarantee Snap is actually going to move in this direction. Right now — and for the foreseeable future — the Snap Store is simply a channel that will let teens buy a Bring Back Best Friends sweatshirt for $50. The number of people who are actually going to purchase any of these novelties is probably pretty low, which means it could be a hard sell to convince outsiders to put their own goods up for sale.

If the Snap Store helps the company sell more Spectacles, that could be beneficial — assuming it offers them there. In the past, it sold the camera glasses from vending machines, and last year, it began opening pop-up stores to sell them. Those are more expensive methods than fulfilling orders through the app, so a shift in that direction could help drive both revenues and profits.

While Snap’s surprisingly strong quarter might momentarily quiet its critics, investors will need to watch to learn which direction it heads with the Snap Store. The question is whether it will transform into something worthwhile — and if it does, how quickly. If it lives up to its potential, it could become something that helps the company build on the momentum of this latest positive quarter — and make it easier to invest in Snap stock without having to hold your nose.

10 stocks we like better than Snap Inc.When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now… and Snap Inc. wasn’t one of them! That’s right — they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

*Stock Advisor returns as of February 5, 2018

Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook. The Motley Fool has the following options: short March 2018 $200 calls on Facebook and long March 2018 $170 puts on Facebook. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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North Korean skater disqualified after falling in Olympic pre-heat; some onlookers claim dirty play

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North Korean speed skater Jong Kwang Bom crashed onto the ice during an Olympic pre-heat not once, but twice, and ultimately was disqualified for pushing a competitor, Yahoo! Sports reported.

The athlete, who was working to qualify for the men’s 500 meter short-track speed skating event, fell to the ice right after leaving the starting line, the outlet said. And he crashed in such a way that some onlookers claimed he may have been trying to cause fellow competitor Ryosuke Sakazume of Japan to fall as well. Still, Sakazume said he didn’t suspect anything nefarious.

GERMAN OLYMPIANS ARE DRINKING NON-ALCOHOLIC BEER LIKE IT’S GATORADE

Despite typical race rules, Olympic officials allowed a restart, Yahoo! Sports reported. But midway through a lap, Jong Kwang Bom reportedly fell a second time, again getting tangled with Sakazume and pushing him. The Japanese competitor managed his way through while Jong hit the ice and sailed off to the side, the outlet said.

The North Korean athlete finished his only Olympic race in fourth place and ultimately was disqualified by officials following the crash, Yahoo! Sports said.

When asked later, Sakazume reportedly chalked the moment up as coincidence.

“I believe it was unintentional,” Sakazume told the outlet. “His hand happened to be by my skate as he fell down.”

RUSSIAN CURLER ALEXANDER KRUSHELNITSKY TESTED POSITIVE FOR WINTER OLYMPICS DOPING, ROC SAYS

Sakazume’s coach, Jonathan Guilmette, echoed a similar sentiment, saying he didn’t know what happened and “it is really hard to judge.”

“I don’t know what was his intention,” Guilmette said. “It is really hard to judge what’s the intention. I don’t know if he tried to grab the skates or if he is just trying to hold onto something like a reflex – there are so many hands all over in our sport. That was a reflex thing more than trying to trip over someone else.”

Sakazume clinched second place in the race, sending him to the next round.

North Carolina father, daughter charged with incest arraigned in Virginia court

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A North Carolina father and daughter accused of incest that led to a baby boy – and a marriage – were arraigned Tuesday on felony charges of incest and misdemeanor charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Steven Pladl, 42, of Knightdale, and Katie Pladl, 20, were arrested Jan. 27 on outstanding “warrants.” They were extradited from their North Carolina home to appear in the Henrico County court in Virginia on Tuesday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The arrests came after the couple reportedly got married. Their baby boy was born in September.

Steven Pladl was granted a $28,000 bond, on the condition that he remain in Virginia and keep away from Katie. The judge did not rule on bond for Katie Pladl.

The felony incest charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. The misdemeanor charges can range up to 12 months and come with a $2,500 fine.

Steven Pladl and his wife, Alyssa, reportedly gave up Katie for adoption as an infant but the family reunited in 2016. Pladl and Alyssa divorced in 2017.

Alyssa told The Daily Mail that she was tipped off about the relationship thanks to journal entries written by a younger daughter.

“There are no words to describe the sense of betrayal and disgust I’m feeling,” Alyssa told the outlet last week. “I waited 18 long years to have a relationship with my daughter — and now he’s completely destroyed it.”

Still, one of Pladl’s attorneys, Brittany E. Auberger, told the Times-Dispatch that Pladl already had been incarcerated for around a month.

“Mr. Pladl has no (criminal) record. This is obviously not a violent offense,” Auberger stated.

The next hearing in the case, according to the New York Post, is scheduled for April 23.

North Korean skater disqualified after falling in Olympic pre-heat

0

North Korean speed skater Jong Kwang Bom crashed onto the ice during an Olympic pre-heat not once, but twice, and ultimately was disqualified for pushing a competitor, Yahoo! Sports reported.

The athlete, who was working to qualify for the men’s 500 meter short-track speed skating event, fell to the ice right after coming off the starting line, the outlet said. And he crashed in such a way that some onlookers claimed he may have been trying to cause fellow competitor Ryosuke Sakazume of Japan to fall as well. Still, Sakazume said he didn’t suspect anything nefarious.

GERMAN OLYMPIANS ARE DRINKING NON-ALCOHOLIC BEER LIKE IT’S GATORADE

Despite typical race rules, Olympic officials allowed a restart, Yahoo! Sports reported. But about halfway through a lap, Jong Kwang Bom reportedly fell a second time, again getting tangled with Sakazume and pushing him. The Japanese competitor managed his way through while Jong hit the ice and sailed off to the side, the outlet said.

The North Korean athlete finished his only Olympic race in fourth place and ultimately was disqualified by officials following the crash, Yahoo! Sports said.

When asked later, Sakazume reportedly chalked the moment up as coincidence.

“I believe it was unintentional,” Sakazume told the outlet. “His hand happened to be by my skate as he fell down.”

RUSSIAN CURLER ALEXANDER KRUSHELNITSKY TESTED POSITIVE FOR WINTER OLYMPICS DOPING, ROC SAYS

Sakazume’s coach, Jonathan Guilmette, echoed a similar sentiment, saying he didn’t know what happened and “it is really hard to judge.”

“I don’t know what was his intention,” Guilmette said. “It is really hard to judge what’s the intention. I don’t know if he tried to grab the skates or if he is just trying to hold onto something like a reflex – there are so many hands all over in our sport. That was a reflex thing more than trying to trip over someone else.”

Sakazume clinched second place in the race, sending him to the next round.

Dems flip Kentucky House seat held by lawmaker who killed himself

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Democrats gained a seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives Tuesday after a special election following the suicide of a GOP lawmaker who had faced sexual assault allegations. 

Linda Belcher, a retired teacher and former Democratic state lawmaker, soundly defeated Rebecca Johnson, who was attempting to serve out the remainder of her late husband’s term.

Belcher had lost to Dan Johnson by fewer than 200 votes in 2016.

In December 2017, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published an interview with a woman who claimed that Dan Johnson had sexually assaulted her in 2013, when she was 17. The interview was accompanied by pages of police documents. 

Amid bipartisan calls for his resignation, Johnson denied the allegations on Facebook on the night of Dec. 13 before shooting and killing himself hours later.

KENTUCKY STATE REP. DAN JOHNSON COMMITS SUICIDE AFTER SEXUAL ASSAULT ACCUSATIONS EMERGE

Rebecca Johnson also denied the allegations against her late husband, claiming he was a victim of “an assault from the left.” She refused to concede defeat Tuesday night, citing “widespread voter fraud.”

“I’ve heard from and about people all day long saying they went to vote for me at the correct polling place and were refused the opportunity to vote,” Johnson said in a news release. “It’s like we’re in a Third World country.”

With friends and family standing behind him, Kentucky State Rep., Republican Dan Johnson addresses the public from his church on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, regarding allegations that he sexually abused a teenager after a New Year's party in 2013, in Louisville, Ky. Johnson says a woman’s claim that he sexually assaulted her in 2013 has no merit and he will not resign. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

State Rep. Dan Johnson committed suicide Dec. 13.  (AP)

Earlier in the day, county election officials discovered residents in a particular subdivision were incorrectly listed as not living in the district. Bullitt County Clerk Kevin Mooney said the problem was fixed and poll workers were instructed to send affected voters to another precinct. Mooney said if all of the affected voters had voted for Johnson, it would not have changed the outcome.

At her campaign headquarters in downtown Shepherdsville, Belcher said she won the election “fair and square.” It’s the third time voters have elected Belcher, who was first elected in 2008 when she replaced her husband on the ballot after he was killed in a car wreck.

Belcher said it was “hard to say” if sexual assault allegations against Dan Johnson and his death played a part in the election, adding: “I have tried to stay very positive and away from that whole situation.”

Belcher told a reporter Bullitt County “has spoken what it wants.”

She added, “It wants honesty and integrity and a very visible person as their state representative.”

Carol Schneider, 65, called Rebecca Johnson “a die-hard, stand-by-your-man kind of woman.” But she voted for Belcher, she said, because Johnson was “hanging on to a bunch of lies and now that he’s dead he’s like this martyr.”

James Carmony, 47, said he wasn’t sure he believed the sexual assault allegations and said he ultimately voted for Johnson because she is a Republican and he believed she would support the state’s GOP governor. “A lot of things like that come out, sometimes they are true and sometimes they are not.”

Tuesday’s election was also one of the first signs in 2018 that Democrats have momentum heading into the pivotal midterm elections two years into Donald Trump’s presidency.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee said it’s at least the 35th contested seat Democrats have taken from Republicans since Trump was inaugurated. And it may have come in the reddest district to date. Trump won Kentucky’s 49th House district in 2016 with more than 72 percent of the vote. On Tuesday, the Democratic candidate won with more than 68 percent of the vote.

“The results here show that if we can win in this district, we can win anywhere,” said Ben Self, chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party. “I think this shows the entire House, the Kentucky House, is in play.”

Republicans scoffed at that notion, with state GOP spokesman Tres Watson pointing to low turnout and the circumstances of Johnson’s suicide “clouding the outcome.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Florida shooting suspect may receive $800G inheritance

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The alleged gunman who police say murdered 17 people during a shooting rampage at a Florida high school last week is reportedly set to receive a massive inheritance from his late mother.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, and his brother are expected to inherit nearly $800,000 from their late mother’s insurance’s policy, WSVN reported Tuesday.

A video monitor shows school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, left, making an appearance before Judge Kim Theresa Mollica in Broward County Court, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Cruz is accused of opening fire Wednesday at the school killing more than a dozen people and injuring several. (Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office filed a motion on Tuesday asking the court to determine whether Nikolas Cruz is indigent and eligible for a taxpayer-funded defense.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office filed a motion asking the court to determine whether Cruz is indigent and eligible for a taxpayer-funded defense.

If the court concludes Cruz can pay for his own legal defense, he’ll have to hire a private attorney.

On Thursday, the day after Cruz’s arrest, the woman who took in his brother petitioned a court to be named the personal representative of Lynda Cruz’s estate. The request is pending.

FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTER ‘SYMPATHIZED WITH SYRIAN TERRORISTS,’ SOLD KNIVES FROM LUNCHBOX, FRIEND SAYS

Cruz’s brother, Zachary, who will turn 18 on Wednesday, has been committed to a mental health facility, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Lynda Cruz died of pneumonia on Nov. 1. The Sun Sentinel reported she died without a will.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com.

Japan sees transfer at sea that may violate NKorea sanctions

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Japan says its military has witnessed a ship-to-ship transfer on the high seas that it “strongly suspects” violates U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

The Foreign Ministry said late Tuesday that a surveillance plane and an escort ship saw a North Korean-flagged tanker alongside a smaller ship about 250 kilometers (150 miles) off Shanghai in the East China Sea.

The Feb. 16 sighting was the third one reported by Japan in the past month. The Foreign Ministry said Japan had notified the U.N. Security Council of the transfer.

The U.N. has toughened sanctions on North Korea to pressure it to give up its nuclear weapons development. Japan and the U.S. have said the sanctions must be enforced strictly to be effective.

El Salvador detains 3 officers in torture, abduction case

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Police in El Salvador arrested two military colonels and a lieutenant colonel Tuesday in connection with the case of eight soldiers who were convicted last year of abducting and torturing two people, one of them a minor.

One of the colonels was recently named military attache at the country’s embassy in neighboring Honduras, and the other holds a prominent position with the General Staff of the armed forces. Also detained in the case were four attorneys, a prosecutor, a police officer, two judicial workers and a doctor.

According to trial testimony, the soldiers were sent after several people who broke into a country house belonging to a military officer and stole money, a gun and other belongings. They said they were only following orders, but were sentenced to 14 years in prison.

An anti-organized-crime police unit has been investigating allegations the officers tried to bribe judicial officials and coerce victims to win the soldiers’ freedom.

Those arrested are suspected of crimes including illicit association, homicide conspiracy, coercion and bribery.

If You Believe in Marijuana, Then This Is the Stock to Buy Now

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Canopy Growth (NASDAQOTH: TWMJF) is Canada’s market-share leading producer of marijuana, and with its medical marijuana market share of nearly 30%, it’s perfectly positioned to profit from the upcoming grand opening of Canada’s recreational market this summer. If Canada’s plans go off without a hitch, then investments in production should allow Canopy Growth to reward investors with significant growth over the coming years.

What’s the story

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Canopy Growth is a fast-growing marijuana company that’s positioning itself to profit from legalization in Canada and other non-U.S. markets.

A national medical marijuana company with significant growing capacity, Canopy Growth sells 45 marijuana products through its Tweed Main Street online store, including dry flower, oils, and soft gel capsule products.

The company boasts 600,000 square feet of licensed indoor and greenhouse production space, and according to management, it has more licensed in-production square feet than any of its competitors in Canada. It also has plans to develop an additional 5 million square feet of space, which it believes will allow it to meet potential demand when Canada’s recreational market opens in July.

When that happens, Canopy Growth’s sales are likely to increase significantly, but the company’s latest quarterly earnings report shows that it’s already enjoying rapid growth thanks to growing demand from Canada’s medical marijuana market.

Specifically, the company sold a record 2,330 kilograms and kilogram equivalents last quarter, up 87% year over year and 15% quarter over quarter. It pocketed an average $8.30 Canadian per gram in the quarter, up from $7.36 Canadian last year, and thanks to unit volume and pricing power, its sales increased 123% year over year and 24% quarter over quarter to $21.7 million Canadian.

Even better days may be coming

The rapid increase in Canopy Growth’s sales is in large part due to the number of registered medical marijuana patients it serves more than doubling in the past year to 69,000.

The increase in Canopy Growth’s customer count may only be the tip of the iceberg, though. It should serve significantly more people when Canada’s recreational market opens for business this summer. In anticipation of that happening, Canopy Growth’s been significantly increasing its production capacity, stockpiling inventory, and taking steps to make sure its marketing is on point.

Last quarter, it harvested 7,961 kilograms, up from 4,167 kilograms in the previous quarter, and as of December 31, it’s amassed a dried marijuana inventory worth more than $108 million Canadian. Canopy Growth is going to continue adding to its stockpile ahead of Canada’s recreational market opening, but management says it already has more harvested inventory on hand than any of its competitors.

Initially, the company expects most recreational sales will occur online, but in preparation for retail demand, it’s begun opening brick-and-mortar stores under its Tweed Main Street Shops banner. It also sold a nearly 10% stake in itself to Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ), a global beer, wine, and spirits company, last fall so it can leverage its marketing know-how and, eventually, create marijuana-infused beverages.

Overall, it remains to be seen how big the recreational market in Canada will be, but Canada’s medical marijuana market suggests that a lot of money is at stake. Health Canada reports that the number of patients enrolled in its medical marijuana program already exceeds 235,000, and that by 2024, there will be 450,000 patients in its program. Those estimates have Health Canada thinking that the medical marijuana market alone will be worth 1.3 billion Canadian in 2024.

The recreational market should dwarf that, though. According to number-crunchers at CIBC World Markets, Canada’s recreational cannabis market could be worth between $5 billion to $10 billion per year, depending on per gram prices. If they’re correct, then Canada’s recreational marijuana market will eventually be about as large as its beer market.

More opportunities exist

Canada’s not the only country where legal cannabis is advancing, either. According to Canopy Growth, there are at least 20 federal governments that “have formally legalized medicinal cannabis access to either foster research into cannabis-based medical treatments and/or toward increasing legal access to medical cannabis for their citizens.”

Global interest in legalization suggests that companies that participate in global markets early on could reap billions of dollars per year in annual sales. Eager to take advantage of that potential opportunity, Canopy Growth has already inked deals that give it exposure to Germany, Australia, and Brazil. It’s also positioning itself so it can serve other markets, including Chile, Denmark, and Spain.

Overall, the global cannabis market could be worth $180 billion over time, according to Eight Capital, and that projection could mean that while Canopy Growth’s biggest short-term opportunity is in Canada, its biggest long-term opportunity could be in becoming the globe’s leading marijuana maker. For this reason, I think Canopy Growth could be the best marijuana stock for investors to buy now.

10 stocks we like better than Canopy Growth CorporationWhen investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now… and Canopy Growth Corporation wasn’t one of them! That’s right — they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

*Stock Advisor returns as of February 5, 2018

Todd Campbell has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. His clients may have positions in the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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3 Stocks Warren Buffett Would Buy If He Were a Millennial

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It’s easy to see why Warren Buffett is considered the greatest investor of all time. His company Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) has become one of the most valuable in the world largely due to his investments, both in stocks and the companies he’s bought. Investors who were lucky or smart enough to buy Berkshire stock in its early days have become millionaires as shares gained an amazing 1,826,163% from 1965 to 2015. That’s an annual growth rate of 21.6%, more than double the 9.9% that the S&P 500 has returned in that time with dividends included.

Investors flock by the thousands to Berkshire’s annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, and his aphorisms about economic moats, value, and other subjects have become virtual gospel in the market.

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However, like anyone, Buffett is a product of his time and generation, and as an 87-year-old, his perspective on investing is skewed by his age.

For instance, he ignored the greatest story in business in the last generation — the emergence of the tech industry — as he long refused to buy tech stocks becaiuse he said he could not value them or predict where they were going. Today, the tech industry is more valuable than any other. In fact, the five most valuable American companies, and the only ones bigger than Berkshire, are all tech companies.

When Buffett finally broke his personal boycott of tech stocks, he did so by dumping more than $10 billion in 2011 into IBM, in part because he was so familiar with the company after reading its annual report for 50 years. That investment turned into a terrible bet as IBM shares dropped around 20% during the seven years Buffett owned them, while the S&P 500 more than doubled. He later said he should have bought Alphabet or Amazon, instead.

Even Buffett’s own personal tastes seem to color his stock picks. For instance, he is a big fan of junk food in general and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) products in particular, and the beverage giant is his second-largest holding. Buffett once even mocked Whole Foods Market, saying he doesn’t see many customers smiling there. However, Coke stock has also significantly underperformed the market over the last 10 years.

If Buffett had been born 50 years later, his investing style would be the same, but his stock picks would probably be much different. It’s impossible to know what the Oracle of Omaha would buy if he were just getting started today, but here are three stocks that would likely be on his radar.

1. Facebook

Millennial Buffett would be all over social media, of course, communicating with investors, and posting selfies on Instagram. No doubt he’d be a fan of Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), and not just the platform, but the stock, too. Facebook has plenty of the qualities that a tech-savvy, value investor like Millennial Buffett looks for. First off, it has a huge economic moat, thanks to the network effects of a platform with more than 2 billion members, and the unique value it offers advertisers. The 87-year-old Buffett has long been a fan of newspaper stocks, noting that newspapers can essentially act as local monopolies if they have no nearby competition. Facebook offers this same advantage, but on a global scale in the digital age, thanks to the power of the internet.

Buffett himself also recognized the power of digital advertising, noting that he should have bought Google after he realized the click rates that GEICO, his auto insurance subsidiary, was paying the search giant. Facebook, like Google, has similar pricing power.

At a P/E of 33, Facebook may not look like a typical value stock, but considering its earnings per share jumped 54% to $5.39 last year and it had a 50% operating margin, the stock looks cheap for its growth rate.

2. Starbucks

Millennial Buffett was into the kombucha craze for a minute, but these days he’s a devoted cold-brew aficionado. While he likes to visit independent coffee shops from time to time, he’s been a longtime Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) Rewards member, and he keeps the java giant’s app handy on his phone.

Young Buffett also recognizes the market power of Starbucks. In many ways, Starbucks is to his generation what Coca-Cola was to the real Buffett’s. He once boasted that Coca-Cola was such a strong brand that if you gave him $100 billion to take away Coke’s market leadership in soft drinks, he would give it back to you and say it couldn’t be done. However, these days Starbucks seems to be doing just that.

Domestic soda sales have declined every year since 2004, and the coffee chain is a big reason. Millennials are largely turning away from sugary sodas and the artificial sweeteners in diet beverages, but coffee consumption seems likely to continue to grow as workplace culture for millennials has been moving out of the traditional and into places like coffee shops.

Starbucks has also capitalized on the huge opportunity in China, which chairman Howard Schultz believes will one day be its biggest market, ahead of the U.S. It’s also established itself as a consistent dividend payer, likely to be a Dividend Aristocrat one day, and trades at a reasonable P/E of 27.4, not much higher than Coke at 23.5.

3. PayPal

Splitting checks is so Gen-X. After Millennial Buffett grabs a bite with his buddies at happy hour, he just Venmos them a few bucks on the Uber ride home.

The actual Buffett’s favorite investing play has traditionally been banking and insurance companies. Buffett loves the business model in insurance as the “float,” or the money he gets from premiums that have yet to be paid out, can be invested to earn a profit. PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL) offers the same business model, but again has the power of mobile and digital behind it. Like credit card companies, PayPal collects transaction fees of around 2.9% on payments with debit and credit cards, but the company also benefits from the float, or money that users leave in their PayPal accounts that PayPal earns interest on.

In 2014, PayPal acquired Venmo, the app that’s become popular with millennials for sending money to reimburse one another for expenses like drinks or rent. PayPal has been slow to monetize Venmo, but has been taking steps recently, such as testing Venmo payments at retail locations.

Nonetheless, PayPal is growing fast, as the opportunity for digital payments could be huge. In 2017, earnings per share grew 27% on a 21% increase in revenue, and management expects to increase another 20% in EPS this year. At a P/E of 41, the stock may not be cheap, but if the company maintains its lead in digital payments, investors should reap the long-term benefits.

10 stocks we like better than Berkshire Hathaway (A shares)When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), Facebook, PayPal Holdings, and Starbucks. The Motley Fool has the following options: short March 2018 $200 calls on Facebook and long March 2018 $170 puts on Facebook. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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3 Things Ford Motor Company Wants You to Know

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Following Ford’s earnings report, CEO Jim Hackett, CFO Bob Shanks, and other senior executives held a conference call for investors in which they explained that they expect things to improve — but not right away.

Here are three highlights from that call.

1. Ford knows it has a “fitness” problem

Hackett, who played football in college, is fond of the “fitness” metaphor to describe a business’s efficiency and profitability. Since taking Ford’s top job last May, he has made it clear that he thinks Ford needs to be spending a lot more time in the financial gym.

The problem in a nutshell: Ford’s revenue has risen nicely over the last several years, but as Hackett points out, Ford’s spending has kept pace, limiting its bottom-line gains. Reining in rising costs, focusing on higher-profit opportunities, and making the most of Ford’s vast global scale are all part of his vision for making Ford a fitter company.

2. Much-needed new products are on the way

Ford’s profitability in 2015 and 2016 was driven largely by its “crown jewels,” the F-Series pickups. Ford has lavished its huge-selling trucks with investments and updates over the last few years, and there’s no question that those efforts have paid off in a big way.

But in the meantime, other important Ford products that were once very competitive have fallen behind newer entries from rivals. Models like the Escape and the Explorer SUVs compete in white-hot (and very profitable) market segments, but they’re dated models that have lost ground to rivals over the last year.

That has been an especially big problem in China, a fast-moving market where Ford lost significant share in 2017. But as Hackett and Farley explained, that situation is set to change: Ford has a slew of new and refreshed products headed to market in 2018. Those new products should help give Ford’s sagging profit margins a boost.

3. Hackett still isn’t ready to reveal his fitness plan

Two related questions have hung in the air since Hackett took over as Ford’s CEO last May: How will he improve Ford’s “fitness,” and when will those efforts pay off?

Hackett has talked generally about his goals for Ford and has said there are six initiatives under way that he expects will yield significant improvements over time:

But much to the consternation of the Wall Street analysts who cover Ford, he hasn’t yet said what those six initiatives are, or when (and how) they’ll pay off. That’ll happen soon, Hackett said, but he sees good reasons for holding off.

Hackett closed out the call by saying that he is “really confident” that investors will be happy with the plan once it’s announced. We’ll see.

10 stocks we like better than FordWhen investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

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Australia helps Indian Ocean neighbors enhance rescue skills

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Australian authorities say they have helped make the Indian Ocean safer for air and sea travelers since the Malaysian airliner vanished in the vast expanse four years ago through search and rescue training with island nations.

Search and rescue officials from Mauritius, Maldives and Sri Lanka are visiting the Australian Maritime Safety Authority headquarters in Canberra this week as part of a regional training program that began in 2015.

An Australian search and rescue coordinator who is taking part in the training, Rick Allen, says five Sri Lankan fishermen had been rescued more quickly and efficiently after their boat sank in 2016 thanks to an Australian online broadcast system to alert merchant shipping to an emergency that had been rolled out to the three countries.

Police arrest Vegas man suspected in attacks on homeless men

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The man suspected of fatally shooting two homeless men in Las Vegas, wounding a third and shooting a fourth north of the city earlier this year is now in federal custody, authorities announced Tuesday.

Police identified the suspect for the first time as Las Vegas resident Joshua Castellon. He was arrested Friday on a federal weapons charge.

Lt. Dan McGrath said forensic analysis connected the same revolver to all four shootings — three of which took place in an eight-hour period on Jan. 29. The last shooting happened Feb. 2. An arrest warrant for Castellon on state counts of murder and attempted murder has been issued.

“I wouldn’t be able to explain a motive or why somebody does this, but he did not explain a motive,” McGrath said. He added that Castellon was not homeless, but at times was sleeping in his vehicle.

McGrath said a patrol officer approached Castellon on Feb. 8 when he was sleeping in his SUV, which matched the description of the one seen at crime scenes. Castellon was interviewed and the interaction was captured in a body camera worn by an officer.

A federal complaint shows that on Feb. 15 detectives contacted Castellon’s estranged wife. She told police she believed her husband had purchased a revolver in January.

A day later, officers stopped Castellon, and he agreed to a formal interview. He told detectives he had purchased a revolver to resell it to a “friend of a friend,” according to the complaint.

McGrath said agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested Castellon after the interview.

Federal court records do not list an attorney who could comment on Castellon’s behalf.

The first victim, who suffered a non-life-threatening wound, was shot outside a convenience store in Logandale, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) north of Las Vegas. He was by himself when the gunman approached in a vehicle and fired several rounds, hitting him once.

A few hours later, a gunman killed a man sleeping with a group of homeless people outside a mall. He died at the scene. Police were later notified that another homeless man had been taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head. He survived.

The last victim, who was homeless, was found dead under a bridge Feb. 2. Surveillance video captured the suspect shooting the victim and running away.

McGrath said police have not found the weapon and believe Castellon may have sold it or had someone get rid of it.

McGrath said Castellon, 26, will be transferred to the Clark County Detention Center after the resolution of the federal case.

US Navy rescues 3 fishermen adrift in Pacific for 8 days

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The U.S. Navy says it has rescued three fishermen who were adrift on a boat in the Pacific Ocean for eight days.

The men were reported missing Feb. 12 after failing to return from a fishing trip in Micronesia, the Navy says. The men had food and water aboard their 19-foot skiff but no safety equipment or radios.

The U.S. Coast Guard based in Guam searched for the men for several days before calling in a Navy team from Japan, who used a Poseidon plane equipped with advanced radar to find the boat within three hours on Tuesday.

The Navy says they dropped a kit to the boat containing food, water, medicine and communications equipment before a nearby police boat picked up the fishermen a few hours later.

Man writes open letter after Parkland massacre: 'I was almost a school shooter'

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In the aftermath of the deadly Florida high school shooting on Feb. 14 that left 17 people dead, a man named Aaron shared a very personal letter with Colorado-based television station KUSA, describing how decades ago, he too “was almost a school shooter” but said he ultimately wasn’t able to be because he “didn’t have access to guns.”

“I was almost a school shooter,” Aaron said. “I didn’t carry out anything, I didn’t hurt anyone. But in 1996, I almost did the worst possible thing.”

Aaron, now a husband and father, divulged secrets of his youth – how he “was very much the outcast” in school, how he was bullied and became “angry.” He started stashing different types of weapons in places he frequented.

“I had hidden around me knives, sticks, shanks, brass knuckles, whatever,” Aaron wrote. “I always kept one in arms reach.”

TRUMP URGES BAN ON ‘BUMP STOCKS,’ OTHER GUN MODIFIERS

His story, he said, isn’t meant “to shock, or to upset people,” but rather to point out “that the problem is hard.”

He acknowledges the argument that mental health is the problem, adding that in the past, he was depressed and felt as if there was “nothing at all in life to look forward to” and said he “literally had nothing to lose.” But the bigger problem for him “was love.”

“I had a severe lack of love, and I really think this kid did too,” Aaron said.

But the one thing, he said, that would have made his whole situation different and result “in terror,” would’ve been if he could’ve gotten his hands on guns.

FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING: GUN LAW CHANGES ATTRACT RENEWED GOP INTEREST

“I am not a school shooter because I didn’t have access to guns,” Aaron said. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But people with guns kill lots of people.”

Aaron said his life has changed over the years. And while he’s still battling his demons, he said he’s now better at overcoming them and has things in his life to “live for and to lose.”

“If you see someone who looks like they need love, give it to them,” Aaron said. “Even a small hug, a word, or a smile could actually save lives. Compassion is the only real way we can stop this. Love people even when they don’t deserve it.”

Aaron’s letter to KUSA comes amid an ongoing debate for gun reform in the United States.

'Making a Murderer' subject Brendan Dassey asks Supreme Court to review his case

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Lawyers for a Wisconsin inmate featured in the “Making a Murderer” series on Netflix asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to review a federal appeals court decision that held his confession was voluntary.

Brendan Dassey’s legal team told the high court in their petition that the case raises crucial issues that extend far beyond Dassey’s case alone and that long have divided state and federal courts.

Dassey’s lawyers claim investigators took advantage of his youth and intellectual and social disabilities to coerce him into falsely confessing that he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape and kill photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005 in the Avery family’s junk yard in Manitowoc County. Dassey was 16 at the time. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2007.

“Too many courts around the country, for many years, have been misapplying or even ignoring the Supreme Court’s instructions that confessions from mentally impaired kids like Brendan Dassey must be examined with the greatest care — and that interrogation tactics which may not be coercive when applied to an adult can overwhelm children and the mentally impaired,” his attorney, Steven Drizin, said in a statement.

A federal court in Wisconsin overturned Dassey’s conviction in 2016, and a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision last June. While the full 7th Circuit voted 4-3 to reverse the panel’s decision to grant him a new trial, one dissenting judge called the case “a profound miscarriage of justice.”

The legal odds remain high against Dassey. The U.S. Supreme Court grants only a tiny fraction of the petitions for review that it receives.

Avery, who insists police framed him, is appealing his conviction in Wisconsin state courts.

North Korea canceled secret meeting with Pence at Olympics, US says

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Vice President Mike Pence was set to secretly meet with North Korean officials at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, earlier this month, but North Korea canceled at the last minute, the Trump administration said Tuesday.

“North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the Vice President softening his message, which would have ceded the world stage for their propaganda during the Olympics,” Nick Ayers, Pence’s Chief of Staff, said.

Pence “was ready to take this opportunity,” according to State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, and would have used the meeting to emphasize U.S. concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The meeting with Kim Yo Jong, regime leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, and Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s nominal head of state, was supposed to take place on Feb. 10, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the news. But less than two hours before the meeting was slated to begin, the North Koreans backed out.

NORTH KOREA AND KIM JONG UN: MEET THE KNOWN KEY PLAYERS IN THE REGIME

Pence’s office said North Korea “would have strongly preferred” if the vice president didn’t use his trip to the Winter Games as a platform to discuss the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” to dissuade the North from using its nuclear program.

“Perhaps that’s why they walked away from a meeting, or perhaps they were never sincere about sitting down,” Ayers said. “But as we’ve said from day one about the trip: this administration will stand in the way of Kim’s desire to whitewash their murderous regime with nice photo ops at the Olympics.”

North Korea previously said through state-run media that there was “no need” to meet with Pence at the Games.

Pence and the North Korean delegation drew attention at the Games’ Opening Ceremony when he and second lady Karen Pence sat just feet away from Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam. There appeared to be no interaction between either delegation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com.