March 21, 2018

Do you dread walking into a store only to have some chipper salesperson pop up out of nowhere and ask, "Do you need help finding anything?" You're not alone, Racked reports. A stunning 95 percent of people "want to be left alone in stores," per a new study of 2,900 North American shoppers conducted by HRC Retail Advisory.

Many other studies have looked into the effect of salespeople on shoppers, including an extremely relatable one from 2016, where researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that attractive salespeople actually scared off potential customers (never mind that the sample was 164 "socially inept" men with "obsessive interest in computer technology who visited a shop selling figures based on Japanese comics," as The Telegraph puts it).

Customers seem to prefer to be the ones to make the first move — another study, in 2014, by a University of Pennsylvania professor, found that 50 percent of potential customers will still seek out an employee for advice or questions while shopping.

Still, if there is an alternative to interaction, people prefer it. The HRC study also found that 85 percent of people would rather use a scanner to find out the price of an item than be forced to ask another human. Jeva Lange

1:52 p.m.

Colin Kaepernick and Disney are getting down to business.

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who while in the NFL kneeled during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial injustice, has signed a first-look deal with The Walt Disney Company, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The partnership between Disney and Kaepernick's Ra Vision Media will "focus on telling scripted and unscripted stories that explore race, social injustice, and the quest for equity," a statement said, and the first project will be a documentary series about Kaepernick being produced by ESPN Films.

In the series, Kaepernick will "tell his story from his perspective," the announcement said, and it will make use of "extensive new interviews and a vast never-before-seen archive that documents his last five years."

This news comes after Netflix last week announced Ava DuVernay is working on a limited series about Kaepernick's high school years, which Kaepernick will himself narrate. Kaepernick on Monday called his partnership with Disney "historic," adding that he looks forward "to sharing the docuseries on my life story, in addition to many other culturally impactful projects we are developing.” Brendan Morrow

1:18 p.m.

Harvard University announced Monday it will only let 40 percent of its undergraduate students live on its Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus when the 2020-21 school year begins. But no matter where those students are learning from, they'll be taking all of their classes completely online to stem a resurgence of COVID-19.

Harvard will let first-year students live on campus in the fall so they can acclimate to college life, and will also prioritize housing for "those who cannot learn successfully in their current home environment," the school announced. Those students will still be encouraged to avoid socializing in person with other students, and will be subject to "virus testing every three days, face-masking, social distancing, and other measures," Harvard continued. In the spring of 2021, first-year students will largely head home and Harvard will let seniors return to campus instead, "unless public health conditions improve or worsen," Harvard said.

Harvard also announced that its annual tuition of $49,653 wouldn't be lowered despite the learning change, and didn't say if there would be a discount from the $72,391 cost of tuition, room, board, and fees combined.

Harvard says it came to its decision by looking at what other Ivy league schools and Northeast colleges have planned and took into consideration how hard the virus hit the dense area of greater Boston early on in the pandemic. Read Harvard's whole announcement here. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:57 p.m.

A hilarious documentary series following the launch of Quibi seems inevitable, but until then, a new report has arrived to provide some juicy details.

Vulture on Monday published a detailed report on Quibi, the mobile-centered streaming service that divides its programming into small chunks and had a disappointing launch earlier this year. It includes some interviews with the folks in charge, including CEO Meg Whitman — who despite being the head of a streaming platform apparently doesn't even like TV that much.

"I'm not sure I'd classify myself as an entertainment enthusiast," Whitman said when asked what she's watching on TV. Asked if she has any favorite shows, she responded, "Grant. On the History Channel. It's about President Grant."

Among the other standout details from the article include that staffers at Quibi agreed with most of the American public that the name was "cringey" and wanted to change it and that internal research showed people who watched the company's expensive TV ads came away with no real understanding of what Quibi even is.

"In market research following its Oscars and Super Bowl ads, 70 percent of respondents said they thought Quibi was a food-delivery service," Vulture reports.

There's also the revelation that Gal Gadot reportedly once came to Quibi and "delivered an impassioned speech about wanting to elevate the voices of girls and women," only for founder Jeffrey Katzenberg to wonder if maybe she could "become the new Jane Fonda and do a workout series for Quibi." A source told Vulture, "Apparently, her face fell."

Whitman didn't sound totally confident in the interview that consumers will largely stick with Quibi following the end of their 90-day free trial, saying, "We don't know quite what to expect." For his part, Katzenberg, presumably channeling his inner this-is-fine dog, told Vulture, "I would say things are going really well." Brendan Morrow

12:22 p.m.

If you've followed coronavirus research developments since the pandemic began, you're probably aware there have been quite a few clinical trials and studies aimed at finding a treatment or prevention for COVID-19. In fact, Stat News reports there have been 1,200 designed since January, which is a remarkable number in such a short amount of time. The problem is a lot of them are fatally flawed, a new analysis conducted by Stat found.

Robert Califf, the head of clinical policy and strategy at Verily Life Sciences and Google Health who previously served as commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, said the analysis shows many studies are too small to answer questions (39 percent are enrolling or plan to enroll fewer than 100 patients), lack real control groups, and emphasized a few potential treatments (one out of every six focused on the President Trump-favored malaria drugs, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine) too frequently. "If the goal was to optimize the likelihood of figuring out the best treatment options, the system is off course," he told Stat.

Martin Landray, a professor of medicine at Oxford University and a member of one of the more successful studies known as RECOVERY, said "it's a huge amount of wasted effort and wasted energy." To correct that, Landray and other experts have called for more "coordination and collaboration" across the globe. Read more at Stat News. Tim O'Donnell

11:43 a.m.

The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes have won at least a temporary victory in their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The more-than-1,000-mile oil pipeline must be shut down and drained of oil within 30 days, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg of the Washington, D.C. circuit ruled Monday. The pipeline was built and "oil commenced flowing" without a required environmental impact statement, Boasberg wrote in his opinion, meaning the pipeline will need to be shut down at least until that happens.

The pipeline runs from North Dakota's shale fields to Illinois, traveling under the Missouri River along the way. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe contended a leak in the pipe could contaminate their drinking water and otherwise runs through their sacred lands, prompting massive protests and a violent crackdown in 2016. The pipeline's construction was fast-tracked under the Trump administration, and was allowed to commence even without an environmental impact statement mandated under the National Environmental Policy Act.

In response, the tribes launched a lawsuit against Dakota Access and the Army Corps of Engineers. Dakota Access argued shutting down the pipeline would cut their profits and force them to lay off workers, but Boasberg still ruled in the tribes' favor on Monday. The Corps failed to "substantiate" their reasoning for not including the impact statement, Boasberg said. However his decision still leaves the door open for Dakota Access to resume running the pipeline following further review. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:05 a.m.

As new COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in the United States, White House officials are reportedly crossing their fingers that Americans will simply get used to it.

President Trump's advisers are looking to "reframe" his coronavirus pandemic response, and they want to "convince Americans that they can live with the virus," with White House officials hoping "Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day," The Washington Post reports. One senior administration official said Americans will have to "live with the virus being a threat," while a former official told the Post, "They're of the belief that people will get over it or if we stop highlighting it, the base will move on and the public will learn to accept 50,000 to 100,000 new cases a day."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently said the U.S. could soon reach this shockingly high number of 100,000 new cases a day while also warning that the final death toll will be "very disturbing." The U.S. has reported almost 130,000 deaths from COVID-19 and has been setting records for the number of new cases per day.

NBC News similarly reports the White House is preparing a new message on COVID-19 that the country must "learn to live with it." Trump has faced a declining approval rating during the pandemic, with Bloomberg reporting on Monday that support for Trump "is slipping fastest in the 500 counties where the number of cases have been more than 28 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people." Meanwhile, the Post reports that presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's campaign plans to keep attacking Trump for his COVID-19 response, arguing that, as one adviser put it to the Post, "the country would be in a much different place today ... if Joe Biden had been the president in January." Brendan Morrow

11:02 a.m.

The Supreme Court settled a long-running Electoral College controversy Monday when it unanimously ruled that electors must vote as state laws direct in presidential elections.

Most states, save for Nebraska and Maine, which rely in part on congressional district voting, require electors to pledge to vote for the presidential candidate who wins the state's popular vote, but there's long been a debate about whether the pledges can actually be enforced when it's time to vote. In the past, including in 2016, a few "faithless electors" have gone rogue and voted their conscience, although this has never actually altered the final outcome of a presidential race.

Lower courts have ruled differently on the issue in recent years, but the Supreme Court has settled the matter for now. That doesn't mean the Electoral College is immune from change going forward, however. States will have the ability to enforce their requirements, but they can always alter those directives. As NBC News notes, more than a dozen states have ratified an interstate agreement that, should it ever go into effect, would assign all of their electors to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. Read more at The New York Times and NBC News. Tim O'Donnell

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