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Exclusive: Obi-Wan Kenobi is entirely predictable — but that doesn’t make it any less fun

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Obi-Wan Kenobi is entirely predictable — but that doesn’t make it any less fun

#ObiWan #Kenobi #predictable #doesnt #fun

Given its placement in the Star Wars timeline, sitting snugly between the end of the prequel trilogy and the beginning of A New Hope, there are certain things that Obi-Wan Kenobi simply can’t do. At its core, the Disney Plus series is a slowly simmering battle between its titular lead and his former protege, Darth Vader. But, no matter how epic the lightsaber battles might be, we know neither of them can really die. The same goes for cute little Princess Leia every time she makes a daring escape with Obi-Wan’s help.

And that’s part of what makes the six-episode series, which just wrapped up its finale, so impressive. Even with so much already known and many of the characters so thoroughly analyzed and explored, it manages to keep the stakes and the tension high. Obviously, Obi-Wan makes it through the show alive — but watching him do that makes for some of the best Star Wars in a long time. Even when the stakes aren’t life and death (for everyone), the emotional confrontations between these friends turned enemies can be just as satisfying as a well-choreographed lightsaber duel.

This review contains spoilers for all six episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi. For our review of the initial two episodes, go here.

As the title implies, Obi-Wan Kenobi is centered around the Jedi Knight played by Ewan McGregor. At the outset, he’s living as a hermit on Tatooine, hiding himself and his Force powers from the Empire, which is still intent on eradicating every remaining Jedi from the galaxy. He’s also making sure to keep one eye on Luke Skywalker from afar — in a way that’s only slightly creepy. But, like a retired criminal, he’s pulled in for one last job after Princess Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) is kidnapped. Her parents, wanting to be discreet, enlist Obi-Wan to bring her back to safety.

From there, the show expands to be about more than just Obi-Wan as an individual, focusing on his relationships with pivotal characters in the Star Wars universe. There’s Leia, who slowly shifts from reckless child to the force (no pun intended) we know her as as an adult, in part due to Obi-Wan’s guidance. Over the course of six episodes, Obi-Wan changes, too, and steadily becomes himself again, not only in terms of resuscitating his Jedi powers but also the compassion that is so core to his character. And he does all of this with a young and impressionable Leia watching him — her fiery personality helping to pull him out of his shell.

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Darth Vader using the Force to control an entire spaceship.
Image: Lucasfilm

Obi-Wan pulls in a few new threads as well. Reva (Moses Ingram) starts out as the big bad, a merciless hunter who is entirely fixated on Obi-Wan. And she makes a great classic Star Wars villain, one who is initially bereft of conscience but ultimately becomes sympathetic — even if her origin was very obviously telegraphed from the opening moments of the show. Plus, she has an extremely cool lightsaber. Most of the other new characters are largely background material, though they’re occasionally still entertaining, like Kumail Nanjiani’s take on a con artist pretending to be a Jedi.

But the most obvious focal point is between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader (played variously by Hayden Christensen and James Earl Jones, both reprising the role). Their fallout is the entire crux of the show. Leia is captured in an attempt to lure Obi-Wan out of hiding so that an inquisitor, Reva — part of a small group of fearsome Jedi-hunting elite commanders — can get into Vader’s good graces. Vader, meanwhile, has clearly never gotten over the events of Revenge of the Sith, which, to be fair, left him burned to the point that he needs a complicated robot suit to function. Both Obi-Wan and Vader seem to dream about nothing but each other, the events of the prequel trilogy haunting their sleepless nights.

For six episodes, the show slowly builds up to that ultimate confrontation between Vader and Kenobi. It spends much of that time showing Obi-Wan reacquainting himself with the Force while also reestablishing just how terrifying Vader can be. While many of the Force users in the show are adept (or straight up struggling like Obi-Wan), Vader has a raw power that is clearly unmatched. There are scenes when he drags victims behind him just to scare people and a moment when he manages to stop a large freighter ship mid-takeoff using only the Force. This is Vader at the height of his powers — and a reminder of why the galaxy is so terrified of him. And even with some of the tension removed because of the fact we know they both will live, it still manages to be an incredible moment — and absolute classic lightsaber duel — when the two finally face off in the finale. (In fact, Obi-Wan features a handful of great one-on-one action sequences, most of which involve Vader and his laser sword.)

Reva leads a platoon of stormtroopers.
Image: Lucasfilm
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There’s still plenty of Star Wars silliness in Obi-Wan. Most of the big surprise reveals are easy to predict, the flashback sequences are very on the nose, and the Force remains a mysterious, uh, force that seems to bend to the will of the show’s writers as much as it does the Jedi and Sith. Characters also occasionally make baffling choices; Obi-Wan would’ve been a very different show if people actually took a moment to ensure their victims were dead instead of just walking away. It never gets too egregious, but you’ll have to suspend your disbelief a few times in this show about space wizards.

With its slate of upcoming books, shows, and movies, Disney is intent on once again filling in every little gap in the Star Wars timeline. (RIP expanded universe.) So far, the results have been mixed. Despite what my Kenner action figure might’ve predicted when I was 12, Boba Fett’s interior life is not all that captivating. He’s more interesting as a mystery. But for Obi-Wan, a character who’s integral to this universe and yet so often plays a supporting role, it makes a lot of sense to dig into this key part of his story, one that also helped shape the motivations of characters like Leia and Vader. It helps that Obi-Wan does a lot of classic Star Wars things really well — cool lightsaber battles; menacing villains; a beautiful, lived-in world — in addition to telling an interesting story.

So, even though you know how things will end, the show manages to make the road to that conclusion a necessary part of the Star Wars mythos — one that reminds you how fun this universe can be.

All six episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi are streaming on Disney Plus now.

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Exclusive: Best Car Insurance for Military and Veterans for July 2022 – CNET – TalkOfNews.com

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Best Car Insurance for Military and Veterans for July 2022     - CNET

#Car #Insurance #Military #Veterans #July #CNET

If you’re an active-duty military member or a veteran (or sometimes their family members), there are a couple of good places to check for car insurance. Some companies offer discounts for vets while other auto insurance carriers create policies specifically for them. Military members and vets may have access to a variety of cheaper car insurance options that aren’t available to the general public, often with rates hundreds of dollars below the national average. 

Car insurance companies that exclusively cover service members and veterans — whether you’re a sailor, Marine, soldier, airman, Coast Guardsman, National Guard member or reservist — provide a pricing scale that larger insurers typically can’t match. Eligibility for the families of service members or veterans will depend on the carrier. 

If you fall into any of these categories, it’s still critical to compare rates and policies. “Current and former military [personnel] should shop for insurance just like everyone else,” said Dan Karr, CEO of ValChoice, an independent platform for insurance analytics and ratings. The way a provider handles claims should also be an important consideration when researching insurance policies, Karr added.

Here are some of our top car insurance company picks for military members, veterans and their families. 

Best car insurance companies for members of the military and veterans

USAA

Active-duty military service members, veterans and their immediate family members are eligible to apply for United Services Automobile Association insurance. If you fall into one of these categories, you may find yourself eligible for cheaper rates than you might find elsewhere. Customers who switch their auto insurance policies to USAA saved $725 on average per year, according to USAA’s website. Moreover, USAA’s average annual premium for full coverage is among the most competitive, coming in at $1,209 compared to $1,771 for the national average, according to Bankrate.

The company has been around since 1922, when 25 US Army officers decided to insure each other’s vehicles. Today, the insurance company serves millions; the insurer’s low car insurance rates are a big draw, but USAA’s high customer satisfaction scores from J.D. Power surveys are also alluring. Its overall customer satisfaction score averages to 884 across US regions; higher than the industry average of 834. 

The bottom line: USAA is a worthy option to look into if you’re eligible to buy a policy. 

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Geico doesn’t quite match USAA’s rates: The company’s average annual premium for full coverage sits at $1,297 compared to USAA’s $1,225, according to Bankrate. Nonetheless, Geico’s rates fall well below the $1,674 national average, and its military discount makes for a good insurance choice if you’re active or retired military.

All active-duty and retired personnel, as well as members of the National Guard or Military Reserves, are eligible for up to 15% off their total insurance rate premium. Moreover, Geico offers an additional Emergency Deployment Discount to customers who deploy into a military base in imminent danger pay areas, as designated by the Department of Defense. The company has a special customer service team dedicated to military assistance, as well as a toll-free line dedicated to serving military customers — 1-800-MILITARY. 

Check out our full review of Geico Auto Insurance.

Armed Forces Insurance

Armed Forces Insurance has deep roots — it was founded in 1887 by military leaders — and while it’s not as well-known as USAA, it’s been around longer and has broader eligibility requirements, making it easier for more people to qualify for coverage.

AFI expands its coverage beyond active-duty and retired service members — and their children and spouses — to the Department of Defense civilian employees, officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Public Health Service. If you fall into one of those groups (or have in the past), AFI may be worth a look.

However, one of the most glaring differences between AFI and USAA is reflected in the companies’ customer satisfaction and ratings. While USAA routinely scores high in customer satisfaction, feedback on AFI is more divided. AM Best has given AFI a B+ financial strength rating compared to USAA’s A++. Moreover, AFI receives more than 3.5 times the complaints compared to the national industry average, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners,

Other carriers with notable discounts


Arbella

Arbella is a regional insurance company offering car, home and business insurance policies in the New England area, though its auto policies are only offered in Massachusetts and Connecticut. If you live in either of these states, Abrella is worth exploring because the company offers up to a 10% discount for any active-duty service member deployed more than 100 miles away from your vehicle.

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Farmers

Farmers extends its “Affinity discount” for military customers who are active duty, active reserve, retired or honorably discharged veterans. Pair this discount with others from Farmers’ robust list, including good payer (history of paying in full, on time), multicar and ePolicy discounts, and you’re well on your way to bringing your annual premiums down.

Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual is another insurer that offers a robust set of discounts, including one that extends to active, retired and reserve members of the US armed forces. Though Liberty Mutual’s average annual premium for full coverage sits a bit higher than the national average using the military discount along with homeowner, bundling multicar, good student or early shopper discounts can help make its policies more affordable. 

Best car insurance for military and veterans, compared

Company Benefits A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating*
USAA Family coverage, low rates, award-winning service and coverage. A++
Geico Military personnel, emergency deployment, dedicated hotline for military customers. A++
Armed Forces Insurance Department of Defense civilian employees and NOAA and PHS commissioned officers eligible. B+

*A.M. Best financial strength rating scale runs from D (lowest) to A++ (highest).

FAQs

What is the best car insurance for military members?

The best carrier will differ for everyone, depending on your specific situation, how much coverage and what kinds of coverage you want. According to our research, USAA and Geico offer among the most competitive rates out there for service members, and they both cover a wide range of coverage options and discounts to help formulate a policy that fits your needs and budget.

Whichever auto insurer you choose, your military service may potentially mean savings. For that reason, it’s important to always check your eligibility and inquire about the rates and discounts that service members, veterans and their families can get.

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What should you do when applying for car insurance as a service member or veteran?

  • Look for quotes from a variety of insurance companies. Make sure to include companies that offer military discounts, as well as those that only serve the military.
  • Choose the plan that makes the most sense for you, based on eligible car insurance discounts, the company’s customer service rating, auto claims satisfaction, coverage options and the final price.
  • Gather documented proof of your identity and military service such as your military ID or DD-214 (or the service of your family member, along with proof of relation).
  • Submit the appropriate documents to your insurer of choice, then wait for final approval.

How can you save on car insurance as a veteran?

Some carriers only serve members of the military, such as USAA and AFI. These insurers generally have competitive rates compared to other mainstream carriers available to the general public. If USAA and AFI don’t serve your needs, mainstream carriers like Geico, Liberty Mutual and Farmers also offer discounts for military members. If you pair a low premium rate with a variety of discounts, including a military discount, you may be able to bring your annual premiums down substantially and save on car insurance in the long run.

How do you get a military discount on car insurance? What documents do you need to show you’re eligible?

The requirements to receive a military discount differ from insurer to insurer. For example, while Geico simply gives all active-duty military and retired personnel up to a 15% discount, Arbella will only apply up to a 10% discount if you’re an active-duty military member that is deployed more than 100 miles away from your vehicle. You’ll want to check what each insurer’s parameters are for qualifying for a military discount. 

That said, the documents to prove your eligibility for military discounts are similar across the board. You’ll likely need to show one or more of the following documents:

  • DD-214
  • NGB-22
  • Military orders if you are actively serving
  • Academy appointment letter or ROTC contract
  • Discharge certificate
  • Letters or statements showing membership in an eligible military group, such as the Navy League of the United States or the Armed Forces Benefit Association.

CNET reviews insurance carriers and products by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each category. For auto insurance, we examine average annual premium rates for full coverage, consumer complaints, collision repair scores, the carrier’s financial strength, auto claims satisfaction and overall customer satisfaction. For this list, we also investigated available discounts for military members, veterans and their families. Our data comes from a multitude of sources. 

Auto insurance rates come from Bankrate, which gathers data using Quadrant Information Services. We also use both J.D. Power annual surveys that collect data on customer auto claims satisfaction and overall customer satisfaction.

Consumer complaints are taken from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which collects consumer complaints across states, indexing complaints on a scale that takes into account the industry average. We collect the financial strength rating of each carrier from the A.M. Best Rating.

Last, we collected collision repair scores from the Crash Network Insurer Report Card, which collects data from collision repair professionals, including mechanics, to gauge the quality of collision claims service from insurance carriers.

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More car insurance advice:

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

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Exclusive: Hyundai shares first look at the much-awaited Ioniq 6 electric sedan – TalkOfNews.com

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Hyundai shares first look at the much-awaited Ioniq 6 electric sedan

#Hyundai #shares #muchawaited #Ioniq #electric #sedan

Forward-looking: Hyundai is slowly climbing in EV market share in the US and Europe, and it has grand ambitions to capture seven percent of the global EV market by 2030. While a full reveal is scheduled for next month, the South Korean automaker is already teasing everyone with a first look at the much-awaited Ioniq 6 all-electric sedan.

Not too long ago, Hyundai was in talks with Apple to build an electric car. The South Korean automaker seemed interested in lending its expertise to the Cupertino giant, which had long been rumored to be working on a self-driving car. However, those discussions quickly fell apart as Apple executives were worried about information leaks. Similarly, Hyundai executives remained divided on whether or not they saw Apple as a great fit for a potential partnership.

Earlier this year, Hyundai stopped research and development on combustion engines, adding to a growing list of companies committed to going all-electric in the coming years. During its 2022 CEO Investor Day forum, the Hyundai Motor Group presented its bold electrification roadmap through 2030 that includes no less than 17 new battery-powered electric vehicles.

Today, Hyundai offered the first look at its upcoming all-electric sedan, the Ioniq 6. It looks a lot like the Prophecy concept EV it showcased back in 2020, and as noted by Top Gear, it seems to be inspired by classic, streamlined designs from the 1920s and 1930s, such as the Stout Scarab or the Tatra 87.

Details are scarce now, as Hyundai wants to make a full reveal on July 14. Still, the company did tease an ultra-low drag coefficient of just 0.21, which is among the lowest you can get with most cars on the market today. That’s thanks to the streamlined design with a low nose and active air flaps, among other things.

The Ioniq 6 shares the same E-GMP platform as the Ioniq 5 crossover, which is rated for up to 315 miles on a single charge, and since the Ioniq 5 is a smaller, low-drag car, it will not only be cheaper but might also offer more range.

The cocoon-shaped interior features sustainable materials, and a couple of touchscreens give it a futuristic look. However, Hyundai design chief Sangyup Lee told Ars Technica the company opted for physical buttons for things like audio and climate controls.

“The touchscreen is great when this car is [in] stationary condition, but when you’re moving, touchscreens can be dangerous. So we always think about the right balance, user experience, and the buttons and the combination with the voice activation together. In the future, obviously, voice activation is going to play the major role versus touchscreen, but this is still in transition. For us, anything that relates to the safety, we use hardware. Anything not related to safety will use a touch interface.”

Production of the Ioniq 6 is expected to start next month in South Korea. In the meantime, Hyundai is also spending $10 billion to accelerate electrification and autonomous vehicle development in the US, $5.5 billion of which will go towards building a battery manufacturing facility in Georgia.

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Exclusive: Substack CEO says he’s ‘very sorry’ about laying off 13 people – TalkOfNews.com

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Substack CEO says he’s ‘very sorry’ about laying off 13 people

#Substack #CEO #hes #laying #people

Substack is the latest tech company to announce layoffs, with the company’s CEO Chris Best tweeting on Wednesday that he’s letting 13 workers go. According to Axios, that’s around 14 percent of Substack’s workforce. In his letter and follow-up tweets, Best cites “market conditions” as the reason behind the layoffs.

He also admits that the move may be a surprise to some employees. “Not so long ago, I told you all that our plan was to grow the team and not do layoffs,” he says, also noting that the company is “still hiring for specific key roles” and has money saved. However, Best says that the company needs to change tactics, as it could be facing “an extended period” where the economy goes from bad to worse. He says that the layoffs are one of several changes the company has made to make sure it’s in “a strong financial position.”

According to The New York Times, some of the employees laid off were involved in human resources and writer support. The report also says that Substack recently halted efforts to secure funding from investors, but that its revenue is still growing.

In April, Substack faced a minor controversy around its hiring efforts when its vice president of communications tweeted a hiring link while noting a specific type of employee she said the company didn’t want. “If you’re a Twitter employee who’s considering resigning because you’re worried about Elon Musk pushing for less regulated speech… please do not come work here,” she said. The company has historically said that it places a lot of importance on free speech.

Substack is far from the only company laying off a significant percentage of its workers in the past month or two. Companies like Tesla, Netflix, Klarna, Better.com, and Cameo have all cut jobs, as have several large crypto firms.


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