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WATCH: Bald eagle broke into H&R Block building in Virginia Beach

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  • A bald eagle was seen “hanging out” in an H&R Block in Virginia Beach after breaking through a window of the building.
  • Ali Weatherton, a reporter for local news station WVEC, posted a video of the unsuspecting eagle perched on the window of the building.
  • Bald eagles sightings were rare in the past, as the birds of prey were at the verge of extinction due to habitat destruction, illegal shooting, and food source contamination, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Bird watching enthusiasts in Virginia Beach didn’t have to make a trip to the local state park to capture views of the bald eagle — they just needed to get some tax help.

A bald eagle was seen “hanging out” in an H&R Block in Virginia Beach after breaking through a window of the building.

Ali Weatherton, a reporter for local news station WVEC, posted a video of the eagle perched on the window of the building.

Not to worry, the majestic bird was able to make its escape from the building in an equally dignified exit, which Weatherton also captured on video.

Bald eagle sightings were rare in the past, as the birds of prey were at the verge of extinction due to habitat destruction, illegal shooting, and food source contamination, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The species was protected by the endangered species list, and has since made a resurgence in population.



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Boris Johnson could face another hung parliament as poll lead halves

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  • The United Kingdom could be headed for another hung parliament.
  • YouGov’s highly-anticipated MRP poll published on Wednesday says the Conservatives’ lead over Labour has more than halved in two weeks.
  • It gives Boris Johnson’s party a majority of 28 seats, down from 68.
  • However, the findings are within the margin of error.
  • This means that Britain could end up with a bigger Conservative majority or another hung parliament when voters go to the polls on Thursday for the general election.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Boris Johnson’s lead over the Labour party has halved and is now within the margin of error of another hung parliament, according to massive new polling model which correctly predicted the outcome of the last general election.

YouGov’s highly-anticipated MRP projection, published on Wednesday night, puts Boris Johnson’s Conservatives on 339 House of Commons seats, 20 fewer than the leading pollster gave the party at the end of November.

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is on 231 seats, 20 more than it had in YouGov’s MRP projection last month. The Liberal Democrats are on 15 and the Scottish National Party are set to win 41 of the 59 seats on offer in Scotland.

The findings, based on responses from 105,621 voters across the United Kingdom, suggest Johnson in course to win a parliamentary majority when Brits go to the polls on Thursday.

However, they also find that his lead over Labour has shrunk significantly over the last fortnight.

YouGov’s MRP projection, which correctly indicated a hung parliament at the 2017 general election, gave the Conservatives a 68-seat majority at the end of last month. Its updated projection gives the party a majority of 28.

YouGov on Wednesday said that its findings were within the margin of error, meaning it could not rule out a hung parliament or indeed a large Conservative majority.

Here is the result of YouGov’s final MRP poll:

  • Conservatives — 339 seats (43%)
  • Labour — 231 seats (34%)
  • Scottish National Party — 41 seats (3%)
  • Liberal Democrats — 15 seats (12%)
  • Greens — 1 seat (3%)
  • Brexit Party — 0 seats (3%)

Jeremy Corbyn

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Reuters


Labour shores up its ‘red wall’

YouGov’s poll suggests Labour is regaining support in its traditional seats which are being heavily targeted by the Conservatives.

Johnson’s party has set its sights on Brexit-voting seats across the north of England the Midlands amid swathes of research showing that voters there are drifting away from the Labour Party.

One of these is Workington, in the northwest county of Cumbria. YouGov gives Labour a two percentage point lead over Conservatives here after putting the Tories one percentage point ahead at the end of last month.

Labour is also clinging onto West Bromwich East, formerly held by the party’s ex-deputy leader, Tom Watson, according to YouGov.

However, a number of Labour-held seats in those areas are still projected to go to the Conservatives. That list includes long-standing Labour seats like Don Valley in Yorkshire and Barrow & Furness in Cumbria.

Party leader Corbyn is set to address rallies in the northeast of England and London on Wednesday ahead of polls opening for the general election on Thursday morning. 



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Amazon needs to stay ahead of competition from Microsoft, analysts say

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  • Analysts say that Amazon Web Services’ conference AWS re:Invent shows that the cloud giant is more reactive than ever to competition from Microsoft and Google Cloud.
  • Although AWS is still well ahead of its competition, analysts say that Microsoft is putting on an “aggressive front” when it comes to partnerships.
  • While Amazon wants users to go all-in with its cloud, customers and partners alike may be wary of investing too deeply in AWS — after all, they could be competitors tomorrow.
  • One of the biggest announcements was AWS Outposts, a hybrid cloud product that allows customers to run their applications on both AWS and their private data centers using Amazon hardware. Outposts opens up a big new opportunity for Amazon.
  • Click here to read more BI Prime stories.

Amazon Web Services is still the biggest cloud around, and isn’t shy about making sure that its customers know it.

Still, experts say, Amazon is showing more signs than ever that it’s paying attention to the mounting threat posed by competitors like Microsoft or Google Cloud — despite repeated claims from AWS over the years that it pays more attention to its customers than to what the rest of the market is doing.

“I think that even though Amazon claims they’re driven by customer needs and not competition, I found they reacted more to competition this time than I’ve seen in the past,” Sanjeev Mohan, senior director analyst at Gartner, told Business Insider. 

At AWS re:Invent, Amazon’s biggest cloud conference held in Las Vegas last week, the cloud giant made several announcements in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and other cutting-edge fields.

More than anything, though, AWS wanted attendees to come away with one message: “We’re better, we release things faster and have more customers,” says Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research.

Indeed, according to Gartner, Amazon Web Services currently has 47.8% market share in the public cloud market. By comparison, Microsoft has 15.5%, Chinese cloud giant Alibaba has 7.7%, and Google has 4%. All of those companies allow customers to rent functionally unlimited computing power from their own hyperefficient data centers.

Despite Amazon’s dominance, however, those competitors have found ways to grow. Ray Wang, principal analyst with Constellation Research, says that Google has built a reputation as leading in artificial intelligence and machine learning, while Microsoft’s experience with enterprises gives it a strategic edge. 

“They’re building new industries along the way, and customers are still innovating with them,” Wang said. “The market is changing. Microsoft Azure is gaining market share and mindshare as well but it’s because there are a lot of pre-existing contracts. Google was seen as the place to go for AI and ML, but what Amazon has tried to do was narrow the perception.”

Through that lens, Amazon’s re:Invent announcements can be seen as a maneuver to show that it’s meeting or beating the expectations set by its leading rivals.

Microsoft’s ‘aggressive front’

AWS is still the top cloud in the market, but it needs to watch its back, analysts say. In particular, AWS will need to watch out for Microsoft, experts agree — especially in the wake of Microsoft’s surprise win of the $10 billion JEDI contract, a deal with the Pentagon to modernize its IT infrastructure by way of the cloud.

“The elephant in the room during much of re:Invent was Microsoft, which has made impressive strides in cementing itself as the No. 2 cloud provider and threw AWS (and the rest of the industry) for a loop with the JEDI win,” William Blair analyst Jason Ader wrote in a note.

Microsoft has been bolstering its growth by presenting an “aggressive front” when it comes to partnerships and acquisitions, Gartner vice president Sid Nag said, striking big deals in order to stay competitive with AWS. 

“I don’t think they’ll do major shifts in strategy but they need to make sure they stay ahead of the game,” Nag told Business Insider. “Microsoft’s strategy has been all about growing their business inorganically to compete with AWS. AWS has to keep up with that. Definitely this will help AWS keep that momentum going. Clearly they’re not slowing down.”

AWS is currently challenging Microsoft’s win by way of a lawsuit, even as AWS CEO Andy Jassy has already started to strike a “combative tone” when it comes to Microsoft, as Ader wrote. At re:Invent, Jassy criticized Microsoft’s price increases and highlighted the fact that customers use AWS to run Windows in the cloud. 

Going all-in

Another takeaway from re:Invent, experts say, is that AWS hopes to give customers an incentive to go all-in on its cloud.

Although AWS is announcing a host of new features to make it more rounded-out as a platform, Wang says customers will still look to use multiple clouds – something that AWS historically hasn’t encouraged. Complicating the issue is that some customers might be wary of turning to AWS, when they might compete with its retail or other businesses at the same time.

That dynamic has also come to the software industry itself. In a report after the event, Ader wrote that AWS’s goal to become a “one-stop shop” has “ruffled more than a few feathers,” as partners like MongoDB, Redis Labs, and DataStax both work with and directly compete with AWS. 

Some of these vendors have even gotten closer to Microsoft and Google because they’re seen as more partner-friendly, Ader wrote.

This all adds up to an environment where customers and partners are both worried about investing too deeply in AWS, at the expense of their freedom to try to the others.

“That’s really going to be the nature of what’s happening,” Wang said. “Every cloud vendor we talked to was scared of cloud lock-in. They are so scared they will make those same mistakes.”

AWS Outposts

One of the biggest new products announced at the event was AWS Outposts, which AWS announced last year and launched into general availability this year. It’s a hybrid cloud product, which allows customers to run their applications across both the cloud and in their private data centers using AWS hardware. That’s a big shift for Amazon, which for a long time discouraged that kind of hybrid scenario.

“AWS has always been a public cloud provider,” Nag said. “They didn’t really have a strong hybrid story. For the foreseeable future, hybrid is going to be the most relevant model for cloud. They’ve been lacking on that front.”

Hybrid cloud is something that customers have been asking for, as many choose to keep using private data centers for reasons that might include regulatory compliance. That means that Outposts represents a possibly huge new opportunity for Amazon.

“Outposts is huge,” Wang said. “Part of the reason why that’s so important is because customers want hybrid. That was one of the big items. It was good to see they talked about it and good to see them delivering on it.”

Microsoft has long had its own hybrid cloud product on the market. Still, analysts say there is still space for both cloud giants.

“Ultimately, given the still-early stage of cloud adoption, we believe there is plenty of room for both AWS and Microsoft to be successful, and we expect them to be the top two cloud providers for many years to come,” Ader wrote.

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Saudis at US bases on ‘safety stand-down’ after NAS Pensacola shooting

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  • Roughly 300 Saudi military aviation students at Naval Air Stations Pensacola, Whiting Field, and Mayport have been grounded for a safety stand-down and operational pause in the wake of last week’s shooting in Pensacola, Reuters reports.
  • The stand-down is a non-punitive effort to prepare Saudi students, which the Navy characterized as the “most impacted” by the traumatic attack, to resume their aviation training.
  • It is unclear when the safety stand-down and operational pause will conclude as there is currently no set end date, the Navy told Insider.

Around 300 Saudi military aviation students have been grounded as part of an ongoing safety stand-down and operational pause, Reuters first reported.

Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a Saudi military officer in the US for training, opened fire on students and law enforcement officials at Naval Air Station Pensacola last Friday, killing three US Navy sailors and injuring several more people.

The safety stand-down began Monday, the service told Insider, explaining that this was a non-punitive procedure intended to help Saudi students, whom the Navy characterized as “the most impacted” by last week’s traumatic shooting.

The aim of the stand-down is to help these students prepare to restart training at a yet-to-be-determined later date.

The pause is taking place at NAS Pensacola, NAS Whiting Field, and NAS Mayport, all of which are US Navy bases in Florida, Reuters reports.

Classroom training for Saudi students is expected to begin soon, but it remains unclear when these students will be able to resume flying. Training, including flight training, has already resumed for US military personnel, as well as other international military students at the bases.

There are roughly 850 Saudi military personnel in the US for training, according to Reuters.

Sen. Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, has been calling for “a full suspension of the program until a thorough review by both the Department of State and the Department of Defense are completed,” his office told Insider in a statement.

There is currently no indication that the military has plans to suspend its training of foreign military personnel. 



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