YouTube's TikTok competitor hits the US

On Thursday, the company said it’s expanding the beta program for its short-form video offering, called Shorts, to the United States now and over the next several weeks. Previously, it tested the product only in India. Globally, users have been able to view Shorts, but not create them. YouTube says its feature allows social media creators to “shoot short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones.” It offers a way to string multiple clips together, add music, and use a timer and countdown to record videos hands-free, all features currently available on TikTok.On Thursday, YouTube teased a few new tools it hopes will help it stand out from the pack: Users will be able to sample audio from other Shorts videos and “remix it into your own creation.” Creators will also be able to add text to specific points of the video. YouTube Shorts joins a crowded field of short-form video apps, which are all trying to tap into the craze for bite-sized social media content and capitalize on TikTok’s tumultuous year. Instagram has launched Reels in the United States and other countries and Snapchat’s Spotlight feature is giving away $1 million a day to the users who make the most entertaining videos. Two of TikTok’s rivals in the United States merged earlier this year, while another called Dubsmash was acquired late last year by Reddit. YouTube also plans to tap into its broader ecosystem by launching the ability to use audio from videos across the platform. “This means you can give your own creative spin on the content you love to watch on YouTube and help find it a new audience — whether it’s reacting to your favorite jokes, trying your hand at a creator’s latest recipe, or re-enacting comedic skits,” the company said in a blog post. YouTube added that creators will be able to opt out of other people using their long-form videos. (On TikTok, it’s a popular practice to “duet” someone else’s video. The videos appear side by side, and users can recreate or react to the original video).Todd Sherman, product lead for YouTube Shorts, said the company is trying to “lower the barriers of creation” and help the next generation of aspiring influencers find an audience. Producing a traditional YouTube video can be time consuming and costly: Professional YouTubers often have expensive camera equipment, editing software and other tools to make their long-form videos pop. “YouTube made it so that a whole generation of people using cameras and computers and video editing software could practice their craft and build an audience,” Sherman told CNN Business. “That story is very similar to the story of what we’re doing with Shorts once again, except now it’s all based on the phone and what you can get done inside of a phone.”The Google-owned platform first announced the product in September, launching an early beta version of Shorts only in India. Months before, India banned TikTok and several other popular Chinese apps, saying they pose a “threat to sovereignty and integrity.” As a result, Indian TikTokers rushed to find alternative platforms, and tech giants and upstarts alike pounced on the opportunity.

The global chip shortage is still hurting Samsung, Honda and Volkswagen

On Wednesday, Samsung (SSNLF) co-CEO Koh Dong-jin told investors that the South Korean tech giant was having trouble with its supply chain. The company is scrambling to address the dearth of semiconductors, and could continue to face problems in the second quarter, he added.Meanwhile, the auto industry — which has already been rocked by the shortage in recent months — is pointing to worsening conditions.Honda (HMC) and Volkswagen (VLKAF) both said this week that the computer chips crunch had hampered their operations, particularly in the United States. In a statement Wednesday, Honda confirmed that it would temporarily suspend production next week at most of its North American factories, in part because of the lack of semiconductors.”We continue to manage a number of supply chain issues related to the impact from Covid-19, congestion at various ports, the microchip shortage and severe winter weather over the past several weeks,” a company spokesperson said.As a result, factories from Ohio to Ontario are expected to go dark for stretches next week, and “in some way, all of our auto plants in the US and Canada will be impacted,” the representative said.Other major automakers, including Ford (F), Fiat Chrysler (FCAU), GM (GM) and Nissan (NSANF) have also signaled problems. The average car uses between 50 and 150 chips, and they’re increasingly being deployed in driver-assistance systems and navigation control. “In 2021, we will suffer from it,” Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess told CNN’s Julia Chatterley in an interview Tuesday. “Not over the entire [vehicle] lineup, but some models might be constrained.”Diess estimated that the automaker had “probably lost already 100,000 cars this year, which will be very difficult to recover in the second half.”That’s in line with estimates from UBS analysts, who previously projected a significant production loss for Europe’s largest carmaker in the first three months of the year.Diess doesn’t see the problem easing up anytime soon, either. “We see more constraints coming, because of the difficult climate conditions in America, where we had two, three semiconductor plants off [the] grid for more than … a week or so,” he said.The company also recently suffered some disruption due to an earthquake in Japan, according to the chief executive.”It’s really a combination of factors which constrain semiconductor supply,” he told CNN Business. “We hope to overcome this situation.”— CNN’s Yoonjung Seo and Hanna Ziady contributed to this report.

Amazon looks to expand its telehealth footprint

The tech giant is expanding Amazon Care — which currently provides its Washington-based employees with access to virtual and in-person health services — to its workers nationwide. And it plans to offer the service to other companies as a workplace benefit for their own employees.Amazon (AMZN) says the program’s follows a “successful launch” for its tens of thousands of Washington workers 18 months ago. “By supplying Amazon Care as a workplace benefit, employers are investing in the health and well-being of arguably their most important asset: their employees,” Amazon said in a release Wednesday. Virtual chats and video visitsAmazon Care gives workers on-demand access to virtual chats or video visits with medical providers who can provide treatment of illnesses or injury, Covid testing and flu shots, nutrition consulting, pre-pregnancy planning and a range of other services. Its doctors can order prescription medications, which are delivered to patients’ homes by Amazon. The program also offers in-person visits by providers to workers’ homes for additional services such as blood draws. “The program’s secure, HIPAA-compliant service also allows employees and their dependents to see the same dedicated teams of medical professionals, which creates long-term relationships that benefit overall health,” Amazon said, adding that an app for the service is available to give employees easy access. As of Wednesday, the full range of Amazon Care services is available to employees at other Washington-based companies. This summer, the virtual services will be available to employees of Amazon and other firms nationwide. Amazon also plans to expand the in-person visit offering to Washington D.C., Baltimore, Maryland, and other cities in coming months. The expanded benefit for its own employees comes as Amazon faces scrutiny for working conditions at its warehouses amid a union election currently underway in Bessemer, Alabama. Amazon is in discussions with a number of companies about using Amazon Care, according to a spokesperson, who did not disclose the names of any potential customers. The spokesperson also declined to share details on how much it will cost other companies to provide their employees with the service. This is the tech giant’s latest effort to grow its presence in the multi-billion-dollar health care industry. In 2018, Amazon bought digital drugstore startup Pill Pack for $700 million and last year, it officially launched Amazon Pharmacy, which delivers prescriptions to customers homes and offers extra perks for Prime members. More virtual careThe move to expand Amazon Care follows a boom in telemedicine during the pandemic — research firm Gartner estimates that by 2023, virtual interactions will exceed face-to-face health care visits. Amazon’s entrance into the space is likely to worry other digital health care providers. The day after Amazon’s announcement, Amwell (AMWL) stock fell nearly 8% and Teladoc (TDOC) shares dropped 2%.The broader market was down across the board Thursday, with tech stocks in particular selling offAmazon’s health care ambitions haven’t always panned out. In 2018, it partnered with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to form Haven, a company aimed at providing better health care services and insurance coverage at a lower cost to workers at the three firms — and potentially to other US companies. The venture folded earlier this year after struggling to make inroads with companies beyond the founding firms.

Victims of the spa shootings highlight the vulnerability of working-class Asian women as more Asian Americans get attacked

“This one fact alone highlights the vulnerability, the invisibility, and the isolation of working-class Asian women in our country,” Nguyen said at a Thursday news conference. “When they go missing, or when they die, the loss of their lives will not incite the same kind of rage. And they won’t even be treated with the same humanity,” she said. “And in this case, they’ve been characterized as a problem that needed to be eliminated.”Authorities have not yet confirmed a motive for the shootings at three Atlanta-area spas, which killed eight people — including six Asian women. A suspect is in custody. Atlanta Deputy Police Chief Charles Hampton Jr. said Wednesday the suspect, Robert Aaron Long, frequented the two Atlanta spas and bought the gun used in the shooting the day of the incident.President Joe Biden ordered flags to be flown at half-staff Thursday to honor the victims. Biden also plans to visit Atlanta on Friday to meet with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, as well as Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders, according to Georgia State Rep. Bee Nguyen. Among the issues they will bring up is the concern that the shootings be “taken seriously” and seriously considered as a hate crime against Asians and not dismissed as the suspect having a “bad day,” Nguyen said.Shootings part of hostility toward Asian AmericansAcross the US, Asian Americans are riddled with fear as unprovoked attacks against them intensify. Anti-Asian hate crimes have more than doubled during the pandemic, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.The violence has surged amid racist rhetoric during the coronavirus pandemic — some popularized by ex-President Donald Trump. Many Asian Americans have been subjected to vitriol about the “China virus” or the “kung flu” — even those who have never been to Asia. Asian American communities are on edge after Tuesday’s deadly shootings.”I feel like that just took it to a whole other extreme,” said Hanna Kim, a teacher from Novi, Michigan.Nguyen said as a public official, whenever anyone disagrees with her opinion or policies, the first thing they do is criticize the country her parents came from and, second, her gender. “I have experienced a lot of targeted misogyny, targeted xenophobia, messages of going back to your own country, even though I was born here, raised here, I’ve lived in Georgia almost my entire life. It is very real,” Nguyen said. Actress Lucy Liu told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Thursday that she believes race relations will get worse before they can get better. “I think culturally, we are not a people that speak out and talk about being victims and I think that’s something that we learn” from previous generations, Liu said.Bottoms told CNN that nowadays “there seems to be permission now to be hateful.” She’s spent the past days reaching out to members of the Asian community in Atlanta “to make sure we have all of the information we need to make sure that our communities are protected,” adding the dialogue will continue.”There seems to be a permission that I’ve not seen, at least in my lifetime,” Bottoms said. “It does predate Donald Trump, but he certainly has given permission and done his part to elevate the hatred.” Kim, a 24-year-old Korean American, said she often feels like she has a target on her back. Last year, she said a parent wanted to remove one of her students from her second-grade class because Kim was Asian.”Are people going to say things to me?” Kim said she often asks herself. “Are people going to avoid me because they think that for some reason I’m going to be the one that’s spreading the virus?”Yet despite outrage over the shootings, attacks against Asian Americans continue. An Asian man and woman were assaulted Wednesday by the same suspect in separate attacks, San Francisco police said. Investigators are trying to determine whether bias was a motivating factor in the attack.”While we’re relieved the suspect was quickly apprehended, we’re certainly not at peace as this attack still points to an escalating threat many in the Asian American community feel today,” said Margaret Huang, president and CEO of Southern Poverty Law Center.What we know about the victimsDelaina Ashley Yaun, 33, of Acworth; Paul Andre Michels, 54, of Atlanta; Xiaojie Tan, 49, of Kennesaw; and Daoyou Feng, 44, were all fatally shot at Youngs Asian Massage in Cherokee County.Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, of Acworth, was also shot at the spa but survived. Three more victims were found dead at Gold Massage Spa in Atlanta, and another victim was found dead across the street at the Aroma Therapy Spa. The names of those four victims have not yet been released by authorities.Three of the victims were 52, 75 and 64 years of age, according to birth years listed in an Atlanta police incident report. “We need to make sure we have a true verification of their identities and that we make the proper next of kin notification,” Hampton said Wednesday. What we know about the suspectLong, 21, faces eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.Long was on his way to Florida, possibly to take the lives of more victims, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said, citing investigators. The suspect told police he believed he had a sex addiction and that he saw the spas as “a temptation … that he wanted to eliminate,” Cherokee County sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker said.But Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said it is still too early to know a motive. It’s not clear whether any of the three businesses offered sexual services in addition to massages. But authorities have given no indication the three businesses were operating illegally.Capt. Jay Baker on Tuesday said Long “was pretty much fed up and had been kind of at the end of his rope. Yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.” Baker is no longer the spokesperson for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office’s case investigating the spa shooting, the Sheriff’s Office confirmed to CNN. CNN has reached out to Baker for comment.Sheriff Frank Reynolds said in a statement Thursday he has known and worked with Baker for many years and his comments “were not intended disrespect any of the victims, the gravity of this tragedy or express empathy or sympathy for the suspect.”How the attacks unfoldedShortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday, deputies were called to Youngs Asian Massage between the Georgia cities of Woodstock and Acworth after reports of a shooting, Cherokee County sheriff’s officials said.That shooting left four people — two Asian and two White — dead and one person injured, Baker said. About an hour later and 30 miles away, Atlanta police responded to the Gold Massage Spa on Piedmont Road in Atlanta. Police said they found three people dead..m-infographic_1615988065435{background:url(// no-repeat 0 0 transparent;margin-bottom:30px;width:100%;-moz-background-size:cover;-o-background-size:cover;-webkit-background-size:cover;background-size:cover;font-size:0;}.m-infographic_1615988065435:before{content:””;display:block;padding-top:216.64%;}@media (min-width:640px) {.m-infographic_1615988065435 {background-image:url(//;}.m-infographic_1615988065435:before{padding-top:83.02%;}}@media (min-width:1120px) {.m-infographic_1615988065435 {background-image:url(//;}.m-infographic_1615988065435:before{padding-top:83.02%;}}While there, police received another call of shots fired across the street at the Aroma Therapy Spa, where they found one person dead, Bryant said.The names of those four victims have not yet been released by authorities.Investigators found surveillance video of a suspect near the Cherokee County scene and published images on social media.Long’s family saw the images, contacted authorities and helped identify him, Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said Wednesday.”(The family members) are very distraught, and they were very helpful in this apprehension,” Reynolds said.’It would be appropriate’ if the suspect was charged with a hate crime, mayor saysLong has claimed responsibility for the shootings at the spas, the Cherokee County sheriff’s office said.He is facing four counts of murder and a charge of aggravated assault, according to the county sheriff’s office. He also has been charged with more four counts of murder, Atlanta Police Department said.A law enforcement source told CNN that Long was recently kicked out of the house by his family due to his sexual addiction, which, the source said, included frequently spending hours watching pornography online.Bottoms, the Atlanta mayor, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday she thinks the shootings were a hate crime. “It looked like a hate crime to me,” she said. “This was targeted at Asian spas. Six of the women who were killed were Asian so it’s difficult to see it as anything but that.””Sex” is a hate crime category under Georgia’s new law. If Long was targeting women out of hatred for them or scapegoating them for his own problems, it could potentially be a hate crime. The shootings don’t have to be racially motivated to constitute a hate crime in Georgia.Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace released a statement Thursday saying “we are acutely aware of the feelings of terror being experienced in the Asian-American community.” “We hear your concerns and want it to be known that these victims will receive the very best efforts of this office,” Wallace said. “We anticipate beginning to meet with the impacted families in the near future, and earn their trust, as we continue to develop our case against the defendant.”Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Xiaojie Tan’s last name based on information provided by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.CNN’s Amanda Watts, Stephen Collinson, Audrey Ash, Casey Tolan, Nicquel Ellis, Nicole Chavez, Artemis Moshtaghian, Raja Razek, Jamiel Lynch and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.