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The latest news from Life

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    TheInsider Picksteam writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    Since you don't have all day to scour the web for noteworthy sales and discounts, we rounded up the best bargains for you to shop in one convenient place.

    Dell

    1. Save up to 40% on Dell PCs and electronics

    Dell is getting a head start on Black Friday by starting the deals early. Right now, you can save up to 50% on laptops, PC, tablets, monitors, smart home gadgets, audio equipment, and a lot more. Discounts are taken off automatically, so there's no need for a promo code.

    Shop the Dell Black Friday sale now.

    Omaha Steaks Thanksgiving

    2. Save up to 53% on Thanksgiving Dinner combos at Omaha Steaks

    Thanksgiving will be here before you know it. If you're hosting dinner this year and need a little help preparing a well-rounded menu, Omaha Steaks has everything you'll need — from turkeys and hams, to sides and desserts. For a limited time, you can save up to 53% and get free shipping on combos.

    Shop all Thanksgiving Dinner Combos at Omaha Steaks now.

    Echo Dot Kids Edition

    3. Save $30 on the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition Bundle

    The Echo Dot Kids Edition uses the power of Alexa to act as a kid-friendly DJ, comedian, and storyteller. When you purchase this bundle, you'll also receive a year of FreeTime Unlimited, which gives your kids access to hundreds of hours of fun and educational content, audio books, ad-free radio stations, and more. The Kids Edition smart speaker comes with a protective case and a 2-year worry-free guarantee, so if they manage to break it, you'll get a replacement.

    Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition 2-Pack, $109.98 (Originally $149.98)[You save $30]

    Cole Haan

    4. Save 30% on everything at Cole Haan

    Cole Haan is having its annual Grand Giving Event with huge discounts sitewide. Now through November 27, you can automatically save 30% on everything. Whether you're looking for winter boots, comfortable dress shoes, warm jackets, or a casual pair of sneakers, you'll be able to find it here.

    Shop the Cole Haan sale now.

    Topman

    5. Save 25% on jeans, hoodies, and sweatshirts at Topman

    Topman is a British menswear brand that focuses on affordable and on-trend clothing. To make the prices even better, the brand is having a sale of 25% off casual staples like jeans, hoodies, and sweatshirts. The discount is taken off automatically, so there's no need for a promo code.

    Shop the Topman sale now.

    Wayfair

    6. Save up to 70% on holiday decor and furniture at Wayfair

    With the holiday season coming up, you're going to need festive accents in and around your home and Wayfair has it all. Right now you can save up to 70% on everything you could possibly need to decorate and furnish your space. Whether you're shopping for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you can get your design planning done in one place while saving big.

    Shop the Wayfair sale now.

    Samsung

    7. Save up to 40% on select Samsung TVs

    TVs are always one of the most-purchased tech items on Black Friday, so Samsung is having an early sale to help you avoid the post-Thanksgiving frenzy. Right now, you can save up to 40% on select Ultra HD Smart TVs at most, that amounts to up to a $1,500 savings without any hassle.

    Shop the Samsung Black Friday sale now.

    REI

    8. Save up to 30% on outdoor gear and apparel at REI

    REI is the one-stop shop for all outdoor camping and hiking gear, and right now is the best time to save big. Now through November 19, you can save up to 30% on a huge selection of products. The sale includes clothing, outerwear, footwear, essential camping gear, and more. Check out some of the best items on sale here.

    Shop the REI sale now.

    leesa

    9. Save up to $225 on a Leesa mattress

    This Black Friday, popular mattress startup Leesa Sleep is having one of its biggest sales ever. For a very limited time, you can save $150 on the Leesa Mattress or $225 on the Sapira Mattress, plus get a free Leesa pillow — a $75 offer. If buying a mattress online concerns you, know that you can try it out for 100 nights free of risk. If it's not the best sleep you've ever had, you can return it hassle-free.

    Shop the Leesa Sleep Black Friday sale now.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    New York Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    • Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is using Instagram to give her followers a look inside a typically closed-off Washington experience. 
    • The 29-year-old built her campaign through an aggressive and effective social media presence, and it looks like she'll continue this strategy as a lawmaker. 
    • Many have found her Instagram stories in Washington a refreshing, humanizing way to make politics and Washington more accessible. 

    Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — the Bronx-born Democratic giant-slayer — built her grassroots-powered, shoe-string campaign off of social media. And now that she's in Washington, she doesn't seem to be changing that. 

    Since arriving in the nation's capital for congressional orientation this week, the 29-year-old democratic socialist has posted a series of Instagram posts and stories that have generated a big response. The youngest woman ever elected to Congress, Ocasio-Cortez played to her millennial following by comparing her first days in DC to high school orientation and the Capitol building to Hogwarts.

    She posted photos of her congressional "swag bag" and her "freshman yearbook."

    Squad . cc @ilhanmn @ayannapressley @rashidatlaib

    A post shared by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@ocasio2018) on Nov 12, 2018 at 3:21pm PST on

    Many commented that her stories offered a new and intimate look inside the government — an unprecedented form of transparency. 

    "Highly recommend following @Ocasio2018’s Instagram story chronicle of her Congressperson frosh orientation," tweeted Hollywood executive Franklin Leonard. "A glimpse into the government that I can honestly say I've never seen, and the strong suggestion she'll do something interesting with it (which is, I suppose, unsurprising)."

    Others found her posts endearing — a humanizing approach to politics that makes DC more accessible. 

    "She makes politics seem relatable, doable, possible for any young person watching," wrote ELLE magazine. 

    On Twitter user wrote, "Never felt more seen by a member of Congress than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Instagram story of her touring the Library of Congress with the caption 'welcome to hogwarts.'"

    Other popular young Democrats — particularly Rep. Beto  O'Rourke, who ran for Republican Sen. Ted Cruz's seat this year — have also leveraged huge, celebrity-like social media followings and used Instagram stories to build their appeal. 

    But Ocasio-Cortez is also transparent about the darker underbelly of her political career. On Tuesday, she tweeted about the apparent sexism and ageism she's already faced in Washington, explaining that several people had mistaken her for a Congressperson's spouse and an intern. 

     

    SEE ALSO: 'We were not elected to serve as Amazon drones': Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other NYC politicians voice outrage about Amazon HQ2's move to Long Island City

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Trump once won a lawsuit against the NFL — but the result was an embarrassment


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    Donald Trump

    • National-security and foreign-policy veterans were floored by a bombshell report that the US weighed extraditing one of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's biggest enemies to get Turkey to ease up on its investigation into the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
    • Turkey is furious at the Saudi government for carrying out Khashoggi's murder at the kingdom's consulate in Turkey.
    • The White House reportedly floated the idea of booting out Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Turkish cleric and legal US resident, in exchange for Ankara backing off the Khashoggi inquiry.
    • "This is the Trump administration seeking to barter away a US resident who has lived here legally for years," Ned Price, a former senior director of the National Security Council, told INSIDER.
    • "If the White House seriously considered it, it shows to what lengths the [Jared] Kushner camp was willing to go to protect [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] in Riyadh," said another foreign-policy expert.

    Foreign-policy veterans were floored Thursday following a bombshell report that the White House considered extraditing one of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's top enemies to get Ankara to back off the investigation into the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    NBC News reported that the White House was looking for legal ways to boot out Fethullah Gulen — an exiled Turkish cleric whom Erdogan accuses of orchestrating a failed coup against him in 2016 — in exchange for Turkey easing pressure on the Saudi government, which is responsible for Khashoggi's killing.

    Gulen is a legal US resident and a green-card holder who's been living in Pennsylvania since the late 1990s.

    When the White House first floated the idea of extraditing Gulen, career officials at top federal agencies thought it was a joke but became "furious" when they learned it was a serious request, according to NBC News.

    Foreign-policy veterans were similarly shocked.

    'This is the Trump administration seeking to barter away a US resident'

    Ned Price, the former senior director of the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, said the reported move was "hugely significant."

    "This is the Trump administration seeking to barter away a US resident who has lived here legally for years," Price told INSIDER.

    Diplomatic, immigration, and law-enforcement officials during the Obama administration determined that Turkey's case for Gulen's extradition did not meet the required threshold.

    Price said it now seems "that the Trump White House, in order to make life easier for the Saudi Crown Prince, is seeking to skirt the rule of law by pressuring officials to return Gulen to Turkey, even without a sufficient evidentiary basis."

    Randa Slim, the director of conflict resolution at the Middle East Institute, echoed that view.

    "The question to ask is can the Trump administration legally do it?" Slim told INSIDER, emphasizing Gulen's status as a legal resident as an impediment for the White House.

    "If the White House seriously considered it, it shows to what lengths the [Jared] Kushner camp was willing to go to protect their young protege in Riyadh," she added.

    Slim was referring to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who once reportedly bragged that he had Kushner, a senior White House adviser, "in his pocket."

    The crown prince is largely believed to have played a key role in carrying out the Khashoggi killing last month, but the Saudi government denies this, and Trump has mostly accepted this narrative.

    'The process of extraditing Gulen would be complicated and fraught with controversy'

    Legal experts also weighed in, saying it would be extremely "complicated" to extradite Gulen to Turkey.

    "Under current US law and the applicable extradition treaty, the process of extraditing Gulen would be complicated and fraught with controversy," Bradley P. Moss, a DC lawyer specializing in national security, told INSIDER. "To this day, the specific crimes(s) for which Gulen would actually be prosecuted if returned to Turkey remains unclear."

    But Moss said there was a "political offense" exception in the 1979 extradition treaty between the US and Turkey that "Gulen's lawyers would almost certainly argue is applicable here and which they would argue justifies preventing the extradition."

    "Ultimately, any extradition effort would hinge on the level of detail provided by the Turkish government regarding Gulen’s purported criminal offenses and the particular nature of the crime(s) regarding which he is alleged to have committed," Moss added.

    Greg Siskind, an immigration lawyer in Memphis, said the language of the extradition treaty "would certainly seem to open up a line of defense" for Gulen given Erdogan's case against him appears to be "politically motivated."

    Khashoggi's killing has put an uncomfortable spotlight on America's relationship with the Saudis and Turkey

    Riyadh's story on Khashoggi's slaying has shifted several times over the past month amid increased international pressure to bring his killers to justice.

    Though the Saudi government initially denied it had any role in the killing, the Saudi public prosecutor's office on Thursday said 11 people had been indicted in connection to Khashoggi's death and that the death penalty had been requested for five of them.

    The public prosecutor added that 21 people had been detained overall. Riyadh said last month that it detained 18 people.

    The White House's reported effort to extradite Gulen sheds light on US President Donald Trump's attempt to ease rising tensions with Turkey — which is said to be furious over the fact that Saudi officials killed Khashoggi at the kingdom's consulate in Turkey — while providing some cover to the crown prince, with whom Trump has touted a close alliance.

    Trump has also consistently emphasized America's strong strategic partnership with the Saudis, as well as the economic benefits of US arms sales to the kingdom.

    Erdogan has called for Gulen's extradition for years, saying after the 2016 coup attempt that Turkey had never turned back any extradition request for "terrorists" by the US.

    A Turkish official told NBC News that the government did not link its concerns about the Khashoggi murder with Gulen's extradition case.

    "We definitely see no connection between the two," the official said. "We want to see action on the end of the United States in terms of the extradition of Gulen. And we're going to continue our investigation on behalf of the Khashoggi case."

    Similarly, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert rejected the report from NBC News on Gulen. "The White House has not been involved in any discussions related to the extradition of Fethullah Gulen," Nauert said.

    'Washington has given Erdogan the greatest gift'

    Regardless of the Gulen situation, Aykan Erdemir, a former member of the Turkish parliament and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Erdogan has come out on top.

    "Today's developments have provided Erdogan yet another opportunity to claim the moral high ground in the Khashoggi case," Erdemir told INSIDER. "As the world's top jailer of journalist, the Turkish president has already presented himself as a champion of press freedoms and human rights."

    Erdemir added that Erdogan — who he said has "destroyed the justice system" in Turkey — could also "claim the moral high ground on the rule of law and due process."

    The former Turkish politician also said the Trump administration's relatively toothless approach to the killing has strengthened Erdogan's position.

    "Washington has given Erdogan the greatest gift — that is, the ability to reframe the debate by airbrushing his egregious violations of human rights and freedoms in Turkey while also refashioning himself as a champion of justice and righteousness," Erdemir said.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This top economist has a radical plan to change the way Americans vote


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    Dog

    • Dogs provide happiness, companionship, and unconditional love to owners all over the world.
    • Despite the benefits of adding a new pet to your family, certain dogs can have more health problems, be more prone to anxiety, and cost more than you think — especially if you’re adopting.
    • Here are seven things I wish I knew before adopting a dog.

    I had just broken up with my boyfriend of three years when I decided to take the plunge and adopt my first dog. When I went to the shelter and surveyed the pups up for adoption, my gaze settled on a miniature dachshund, lounging on a pillow, seemingly oblivious to the commotion around him as the other dogs jostled for my attention.

    It was love at first sight, and that weekend I took Finnegan — Finne for short — home.

    That was eight years ago. And although I grew up with dogs, having one that's solely my responsibility has been a learning process. I expected nonstop cuddling and playtime, but things haven’t gone as smoothly as I had hoped.

    Here are seven things I wish I'd known before adopting a dog.

    SEE ALSO: What having a dog does to your brain and body

    1. Rescue dogs may experience more separation anxiety

    When I brought Finne home, he would not leave my side — he was my permanent shadow. And when I'd leave home — after placing him in his crate, as professionals recommend— he would go berserk. Not only would he cry and bark endlessly (just ask my neighbors), but he would also urinate and defecate in the crate.

    I now know that my dog was showing symptoms of separation anxiety, which the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says is common in dogs adopted from shelters.



    2. Crate training doesn’t always work

    I thought Finne would eventually get used to his crate, but he didn’t. When I told friends and family how much he hated the crate, including his having accidents in it, they were shocked.

    Dogs often come to see their crates as their homes — crate training appeals to dogs as den animals, according to The Humane Society of the United States. Since the crate is their den, dogs don’t usually make a mess of them.

    The Humane Society also acknowledges, however, that crate training isn't a solution for dogs with separation anxiety, and they may even injure themselves trying to escape their crates to reunite with their beloved person.



    3. Dachshunds are difficult to train

    Another factor that played a role in the training challenge was that dachshunds, although intelligent, are stubborn, independent, and difficult to train, according to the American Kennel Club. Once I realized this truth, I resigned myself to the fact that Finne wouldn’t be playing fetch or rolling over anytime soon.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    helix

    Like most other online mattress startups, Helix ships its beds in a box. What's special about Helix's mattress, however, is that you can get it customized to suit your needs.

    Before buying a Helix mattress, you can take a quiz on the company's website that asks you about your preferences and sleeping style. To start, you provide your age, height, weight, and whether you'll be sleeping solo or with a partner. Helix mattresses are also easily labeled if you decide to skip the quiz for whatever reason: one for side sleeper support, all positions support, and other categories you'd really care about — like firmness. And Helix also offers a range of speciality mattresses for plus-size sleepers and two-sided dual comfort mattresses for couples.

    Right now through Tuesday, November 27, you'll find steep discounts across the Helix site for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You can use the promo code HOLIDAY100 to save $100 when you spend $600 or more, HOLIDAY150 to save $150 on $1,200 or more, or HOLIDAY200 to save $200 on $1,750 or more.

    Each Helix Sleep mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year limited warranty.

    If you're hesitant about buying a mattress on the internet, you can find a full review here of our reporter's positive experience. It's extremely easy, and the customization helped Jessica with decreased neck, shoulder, and back pain. Helix also makes an Ultra-Cool Pillow ($115) that stays cool-to-the-touch all night, which I use frequently

    If you don't sleep soundly on your current mattress and/or can't remember when you bought it, it's probably time for an upgrade — and Helix's Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale is a great excuse to save some money at the same time. 

    Find the right Helix mattress for your sleep needs by taking the company's quiz here.

    Looking for more deals? We've rounded up the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on the internet.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    hackers

    • Every tax season, there are criminals trying to scam innocent people out of some of their money.
    • Bogus, aggressive phone calls demanding payment and "phishy" emails taking you to scam sites are still the most prevalent scams, but there are some new tactics, and some lesser-known scams to be wary of too.
    • Business Insider spoke with three CPAs to get the inside scoop on scams to watch out for this year.

     

    Tax season is almost upon us, and if you are one of the organized few, you are already preparing your paperwork and considering your options for tax preparation.

    But there's another group getting revved up for the tax season: Fraudsters.

    These criminals can try to scam you in person, over the phone, or, most popularly, through email.

    Business Insider spoke with three CPAs to help prepare you to look out for — and avoid — tax-season scams.

    SEE ALSO: 10 abbreviations you should know to navigate your tax forms

    1. Phishing emails

    The IRS, other government agencies, and banks have been warning us about these emails for years, but they continue to be a problem. Some of these fraudulent emails will look like they are from the IRS or a bank and will ask you to visit their site and "update your account," according to the IRS. The page will look official, and criminals are hoping you'll enter your private information so they can use it to steal your identity, file a fake tax return in your name, or open new accounts without your knowledge.

    There is a new twist on the theme this year. Fraudsters are sending emails pretending to be a professional association you might belong to, "like the state societies of opticians, or lawyers, or any other profession," Melanie Lauridsen, senior manager for tax policy and advocacy at the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) told Business Insider.

    Criminals will often use the official name of a professional association, or a very similar name, according to Lauridsen. The email will say that you need to login to update your information, such as licensure or registration info, and get you to enter other sensitive information. This leaves you vulnerable to identity theft or other fraud.



    2. Phone calls from the "IRS"

    "More and more of my clients have been getting random phone calls from scammers claiming to work for the IRS," Chad Elkins, CPA and author of "Elkins' Tax Guide 2019 Edition," told Business Insider. The IRS will almost never make initial contact with you by phone.

    "They like to target the elderly and recent immigrants, in particular, who may not be aware that the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, nor contact taxpayers about taxes owed without first corresponding by mail or providing the taxpayer an opportunity to appeal a balance due," Elkins said.

    These scammers have gotten sophisticated, according to the IRS. Now, they can spoof the local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) phone number to appear on your caller ID. If you doubt them, the scammers will tell you to look up the number.

    Why do people fall for this? "Aggressive, high-pressure tactics enable schemes like this to work. Victims are threatened with arrest and other severe consequences if they don't make payment immediately. People react in a moment of fear and anxiety and do it," CPA Richard Lindsey, author of "Fairness or Folly: A Real World Guide to the Temporary Tax Reform of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act," told Business Insider.

    The IRS does not do anything immediate— they have a process of warning letters, registered mail, and other paper information before they demand money. To collect the money owed, the IRS can file a tax lien on your home,  levy your bank account or wages, or offset any refund you are entitled. Eventually, they can seize your car, boat, or real estate if you don't pay up. They have the force of the law behind them to eventually collect any money that you might legitimately owe them.



    3. Using your Social Security number to file a tax return and steal your refund

    Whether criminals have gotten your information from hacking, data breaches, or by using a phishing email that you fell for, if they have your social security number and other vital data about you, they can file a return in your name, according to Lindsey. "The scammers often get the refund put onto prepaid debit cards instead of being deposited in bank accounts because it's a lot harder to trace once the payment has been made," Lindsey said.

    "We saw it at the height for our clients in 2017," Lindsey said, but the number of incidents has been declining since then. If you can file early, this reduces your chances of having this scam pulled on you.

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    download

    Thanks to the increasing number of people who want to be able to shop online in their pajamas, there is no shortage of direct-to-consumer digital companies, and a healthy percentage of them are mattress startups. Why? Because you don't have to go lay down on 15 beds while someone follows you around trying to sell you upgrades, there's usually no exorbitant delivery fee, and you get to try it out in your home without any pressure for 100 nights (as the new industry standard goes). So really, why not?

    There are a lot of great direct-to-consumer mattress options to consider, and Leesa Sleep is one of them. We ranked Leesa's Sapira Mattress and Leesa Mattress as the best mattresses you can buy overall because they suit all sleeping styles. So did The Wirecutter.

    They also happen to be running their Black Friday deal right now — making their already accessible prices even better. Right now, you can get a new Leesa mattress for up to $235 off its original price. You'll also receive the classic Leesa Pillow ($75) that took them a few years and hundreds of prototypes to make for free.

    Leesa's Black Friday deals:

    If you need a new foundation, too, you can also get $75 off the Leesa Platform Bed (now $720 for queen size) and $100 off the company's adjustable base (now $945 for queen size). You can find a review for the adjustable base here.

    We've reviewed both their newly updated classic Leesa mattress as well as their luxury Sapira option, but the break down is pretty simple.

    Leesa has done so well in a saturated direct-to-consumer mattress space thanks to its excellent customer service model and a universally comfortable mattress. The company claims its mattress can comfortably accommodate all body shapes and types of sleepers, and that because of its unique design, you don't have to choose between either plush or firm. In person, we liked them so much we ranked the Leesa mattresses best in our comprehensive Buying Guide, and we have similarly positive views of the Hybrid Pillow ($125) and Leesa blanket ($149), which reporter Lulu Chang called one of the most well-made, comfortable blankets she'd ever used after testing.

    It's also a certified B Corp that has donated more than 30,000 mattresses to those in need and plants one tree for every mattress sold.

    Skip the awkward showroom, get your mattress delivered to your door, and spend 100 nights risk-free trying it out. No pressure. If you're looking for a new mattress, you might want to check out Leesa's options right now considering how heavily they're marked down.

    Shop the Leesa Mattress and get $160 off plus a free $75 pillow here with the code "BUSINESSINSIDER"

    Shop the luxury Sapira Mattress and get $235 off plus a free $75 pillow here with the code "BUSINESSINSIDER"

    Looking for more deals? We've rounded up the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on the internet.

    To potentially save more on Black Friday, you can visit Business Insider Coupons to find up-to-date promo codes for a range of online stores.

    SEE ALSO: 

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Trump Xi Trade War

    • The US and China have been engaged in a trade war since July, with tariffs flying back and forth.
    • But more recently, President Donald Trump has played up the possibility of a trade deal with China.
    • Chinese and US officials have restarted talks, and protectionist members of the Trump administration are being sidelined.
    • Analysts say these are goods signs that the two sides could strike a deal.
    • Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet at the G20 summit at the end of November.

    After waging an increasingly escalating trade war against China for months, it appears that President Donald Trump may be ready to back down on his hardline stance — just in time for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

    Trump and his administration have taken a softer tone toward China in recent weeks, leading up to the meeting at the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of November.

    Talks between the US and China have restarted, and some of the more hawkish members of Trump's economic team have been effectively sidelined.

    Analysts say the shift shows a possible willingness to strike a deal with Beijing.

    Talks thaw trade tiff

    It's been over four months since the US and China began to impose tariffs on each other's goods. So far, $360 billion worth of goods has now been subject to duties.

    But after months of tough talk, multiple members of the Trump administration — even the president himself — have started to suggest a possible deal.

    The most significant sign that the US and China may actually come to some agreement came late Wednesday, after reports surfaced that Beijing sent a letter to the Trump administration outlining possible concessions.

    The letter comes as Chinese officials restarted trade discussions with their counterparts in Washington. Trump and Xi held a formal phone call on November 1 — the first substantial contact between the two leaders in weeks.

    And the internal dynamics within Trump's economic team also seem to favor progress on a deal.

    peter Navarro

    Peter Navarro — Trump's uber-protectionist trade adviser who also is the author of "Death By China" — was reportedly sidelined for the upcoming talks between Xi and Trump following his inflammatory comments attacking Wall Street for allegedly meddling in the US-China discussions.

    "There are so many disputes between the two countries that it will take many months to iron out a final deal, but last night's reports — and the apparent demotion of Navarro — are positive developments, in our opinion," Greg Valliere, chief global strategist at Horizon Investment, said Thursday.

    Stumbles inspire talks?

    The administration hasn't outlined the reason behind the sudden shift in Trump's trade strategy, saying only that the president has always wanted a deal. But political and economic hits of late may point to the cause.

    The GOP was thumped in US House of Representatives elections in what was seen, at least in part, as a repudiation of Trump. While some observers thought that the loss may light a fire under the president to push the trade war to the next level, it may have had the opposite effect.

    It's unclear just how much of an effect the trade war had on key races — according to The Wall Street Journal, the GOP won 10 of 19 competitive House races with soybean production of over 2 million bushels — but exit polling showed that 29% of voters thought the tariffs hurt their local economy, while 37% said it had no impact.

    Some analysts also observed that the solid economy helped blunt at least some of the Democrats' "blue wave," and any long-term economic damage from a drawn-out trade war could undermine Trump's strongest argument going into 2020.

    soybean farmer

    Several worrying economic sings could also have pushed Trump toward a potential deal:

    A détente is not a done deal

    However, Michael Zezas, head of US public-policy research at Morgan Stanley, cautioned Thursday that further escalation of the trade conflict is still the most likely scenario coming out of the G20 meeting.

    "To reiterate: The increasingly constructive tone is likely masking ongoing, fundamental disagreements beneath the surface," Zezas wrote. "Hence, our base case remains that escalation of trade tensions will continue."

    To Zezas' point, the Trump administration has been going after China — just not through tariffs — over the past few weeks. For example, the Department of Justice has brought charges against a slew of Chinese firms for alleged economic espionage over the past month and launched a task force to combat those practices.

    Trump's unpredictability in international settings also has the chance to throw a wrench into any good will. As noted by Chris Krueger, a strategist at Cowen Washington Research Group, Trump does not havethe best track record when it comes to international meetings.

    "It is somewhat surreal to state, but this meeting will be hugely influenced by Trump's mood and his previous performances at foreign multilateral summits (G7, NATO, Paris trip last week) have poor records of dealmaking (quite the opposite)," Krueger said Thursday.

    There is a lot of room for the trade war to get worse.

    Trump has threatened to hit the remaining $257 billion worth of Chinese goods not caught up in the conflict with tariffs — and the 10% tariff on the $200 billion worth of Chinese goods currently hit with restrictions is set to increase to 25% come January 1.

    SEE ALSO: The diverging midterm results show there's a growing political chasm in America. And both parties look like they're digging in.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Megyn Kelly in 2017: 'I regret a lot' of the controversial stuff I've said on live television


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    colehaansale

    Every year, it seems like Black Friday starts a little bit earlier — and gets a little bit crazier. You've probably seen the headlines condemning big-box retailers for opening during Thanksgiving dinner and I'm sure you've heard the horror stories of long lines, mob scenes, brawls, and tramplings, among other shopping catastrophes.

    This Thanksgiving, you don't even have to leave the dinner table before you get a slice of pumpkin pie to get in on the best deals. Luckily, plenty of retailers are releasing their Black Friday deals ahead of time, so you can actually spend Thanksgiving the way it's meant to be spent — eating. 

    Cole Haan is one of the brands that, starting today, is helping you get Black Friday prices without dreaded Black Friday lines or website crashes. Now through November 27, Cole Haan will be running three great sales where you'll find discounts on its wide selection of quality-crafted, stylish, and comfortable shoes.

    Here's what to expect from Cole Haan's offerings, starting today through Cyber Monday:

    • Grand Giving Event: From November 15 - 18, get 30% off everything, plus free shipping.
    • Black Friday Event: From November 18 - 24, take 50% off a selection of 400+ boots, Grand styles, bags, and outerwear, plus take 30% off everything else.
    • Cyber Monday EventFrom November 25 - 27, take 50% off everything, plus take an extra 10% off your purchase with code "CYBER".

    Whether you've never shopped at Cole Haan before, or you're already are a loyal wearer, we can bet you'll find something you'll love on their site. We already checked it out and found 17 of the best men's and women's shoe deals you can find at the sale right now.

    Shop men's and women's styles from the Grand Giving Event at Cole Haan here, or see our picks below.

    Looking for more deals? We've rounded up the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on the internet.

    ZERØGRAND Water Resistant Hiker Boot

    Men's ZERØGRAND Water Resistant Hiker Boot, $210 (originally $300) [You save $90]



    ZERØGRAND Explore Waterproof Hiker Boot

    Women's ZERØGRAND Explore Waterproof Hiker Boot, $196 (originally $280) [You save $84]



    Wagner Grand Waterproof Cap-Toe Boot

    Men's Wagner Grand Waterproof Cap-Toe Boot, $224 (originally $320) [You save $96]



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Texas Voting 2016

    The Democratic Party regained control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections, with 35 House seats so far flipping from Republican to Democrat. As of now, Democrats will control 230 House seats compared to 198 for Republicans, with 7 races yet to be called or conceded. 

    FiveThirtyEight's deluxe House forecast — which includes everything from polls, district fundamentals, fundraising, and candidate quality — gave the Democrats a six in seven chance of taking back the House, predicting they would gain an average of 36 seats.

    Their House model cast 14 contests as tossup, meaning both candidates had less than a 60% chance of winning, 15 as lean Democratic, and seven as lean Republican.

    The results available so far show that 17 of these swing districts flipped from Republican to Democrat, six stayed in Republican hands, one flipped from Democrat to Republican, and four are still too close to call. 

    Here's which parties and candidates are winning these highly competitive districts:

    Kentucky's 6th district: Republican Andy Barr wins re-election with 50.9% of the vote compared to Democrat Amy McGrath 47.9%.

    The candidates: Marine veteran Amy McGrath, the first woman to fly an F-18 fighter jet in the Marine Corps, launched a high-profile bid to unseat long-time Rep. Andy Barr.

    Her race gained national attention after one of her campaign ads detailing the barriers she overcame as a woman in the Marines went viral, and she raised $6.9 million in individual donations compared to Barr's $2.5 million.

    The district: The 6th occupies a large portion of central Kentucky, including the city and suburbs of Lexington. It's Cook Partisan Lean is R+9, and Trump carried the district by 15 points in 2016.

    Predictions and polls: The race was rated as a pure toss-up by FiveThirtyEight on the day of the election. A Nov. 1-4 Siena College/NYT poll showed McGrath and Barr in a dead heat.

     



    Virginia's 5th congressional district: Republican Denver Riggleman beats Democrat Leslie Cockburn 53% to 47%.

    The candidates: Republican Denver Riggleman, a businessman and Air Force veteran, defeated Democratic candidate and former investigative journalist Leslie Cockburn in the open race for the fifth district.

    The district: Virginia's 5th district occupies a large swatch of central Virginia, including the city of Charlottesville. Its Cook Political Rating is R+6. 

    Predictions and polls: FiveThirtyEight rated the race in the 5th district lean Republican, giving Riggleman a seven in ten chance of winning. An Oct. 22-26 Siena College/NYT poll showed Cockburn leading Riggleman by one point.



    Florida's 15th district: Republican Ross Spano defeats Democratic opponent Kristen Carlson 53% to 47%.

    The candidates: After the district's Republican congressman decided not to run for re-election, State Representative Ross Spanowon the primary to challenge former prosecutor and attorney Kristen Carlson. While Spano defeated Carlson, she outraised himby more than a 3-to-1 margin.

    The district: Florida's 15th district, created after a 2015 redistricting, includes several Tampa suburbs including Brandon and Lakeland, and stretches inland towards the city of Orlando.

    Predictions and polls: FiveThirtyEight rated the race as lean Republican the day of the election, giving Spano a five in eight chance of winning. An Oct. 16-19 Siena College/NYT poll showed Spano and Carlson in a dead heat, with 43% of voters expressing support for each.



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    woolsey fire in malibu

    • The Woolsey fire has burned nearly 100,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
    • TMZ reported that Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West hired a team of private firefighters to protect their $60 million Hidden Hills home when the flames approached their neighborhood.
    • This is more common than you may think.
    • Many insurance companies employ private firefighting teams; sometimes policyholders who pay a higher premium get the perk, but not always.

    The Woolsey fire has burned nearly 100,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Thousands of people in mobile-home parks and tony-gated communities alike have been displaced. Many have lost their homes completely.

    California government officials have estimated that more than 1 million homes throughout the state are located in "high-risk" fire areas. That's a lot of property to protect when a fast-moving wildfire is approaching, and county fire departments and volunteers often can't manage the job alone.

    So, when the Woolsey fire approached celebrity power couple Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West's $60 million Hidden Hills property last week, TMZ reported that they called on a "private team of firefighters" to help. Their mansion was ultimately saved from destruction, as were their neighbors' homes.

    To be clear, the Wests don't have a team of firefighters on speed dial akin to a Kardashian "glam squad." The benefit likely comes from their insurance company, to which they pay a premium — and probably a steep one at that, considering they're located in a "very high fire hazard severity zone" as deemed by Cal Fire.

    Read more:Wildfires in California have destroyed thousands of homes, and the devastating pattern is making fire insurance more expensive and complicated than ever

    Wildfire Defense Systems is one of America's largest groups of private firefighters. The Montana-based company is contracted with several insurers, including multinational-insurance-company Chubb, which dispatches its employees to 21 states to supplement the efforts of first responders during a wildfire. They also perform preventive measures in high-risk areas, like clearing flammable debris and spraying flame retardant around a property.

    Some insurance companies employ their own firefighting groups. American International Group's (AIG) "Wildfire Protection Unit" serves policyholders in the Private Client Group, Stephen Poux, the insurance company's global head of risk management and loss prevention told NBC News.

    These policyholders make up 42% of the Forbes 400 rich list, Poux added, and they pay anywhere from "several thousand dollars to several tens-of-thousands" to insure their homes against fires and gain access to these private firefighting teams.

    woolsey fire

    It's nice that people are able to protect their homes, but the high cost of coverage for these services is problematic, argues Robert Raymond in the Huffington Post. "The real injustice in this story is structural inequality," he wrote. "Wealth shouldn't mean the difference between a home that burns down and a home that doesn't. A society where wealth allows one neighborhood to be saved, while a poorer neighborhood goes up in flames because the people there weren’t able to purchase the same resources, is inherently unjust."

    Read more:10 photos show the grim reality for evacuees of California's wildfires

    But David Torgerson, the president of Wildfire Defense Systems, said their services aren't only available to the affluent. In fact, he told The Atlantic, 9 in 10 homes they protect are of "average value" and not covered through insurance companies specific to wealthy homeowners.

    "We serve nearly a dozen [insurance companies]," Torgerson said. "If anybody wants to have this supplemental response capability during a fire, they need to pick an insurance company that has it." He added that with the growing threat of climate change, private firefighting services are more necessary than ever.

    A Sonoma County couple who spoke to NBC News credits the supplemental efforts of Wildfire Defense Systems for saving their home during the wine country wildfire last fall — the most destructive in California history.

    The couple said they didn't know they had fire protection under their policy until Chubb contacted them to offer an update on their home. Some of their neighbors weren't so lucky. Unlike publicly funded firefighters, Torgerson said, "We're only allowed to access the properties that we're given permission to access by policyholders."

    Some critics also express concern over whether private firefighters contracted by insurance companies are properly trained and adherent to plans and regulations set in place by public fire stations.

    SEE ALSO: Malibu is burning: Wildfires are spreading through southern California, and photos show a hellscape on the ground

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 4 lottery winners who lost it all


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    Watches_be12f45d 53c9 45af a509 dab49eb1c4f4.progressive (1)

    Black Friday traditionally marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, but if you're looking for watches and sunglasses, you won't have to wait for the post-Thanksgiving chaos.

    MVMT, one of our favorite watch brands, is having a huge flash sale to celebrate the holidays. Now through Thursday, November 29, you can get up to 25% off the entire site.

    Their selection of watch designs range from timeless to innovative and edgy. One thing that's consistent throughout the brand is its affordability, and this sale makes it even better.

    Sales like this don't come around often, so right now is likely the best time to get one. Whether you're shopping for someone special this holiday season or picking up a watch for yourself, you're not likely to beat this deal.

    If you're looking for reviews, we ranked them as the makers of the best minimalist women's watches on the market, and their new $300 automatic watch is one of the best values in automatic watches we've come across — though it appears to be excluded from the Black Friday discounts.

    Shop all items at MVMT now

    Below you can find some of the best things on sale right now for up to 25% off. Prices may differ by lens and frame color.

    SEE ALSO: 

    Men's Watches: Gunmetal Sandstone

    Gunmetal Sandstone, $114.75 (Originally $135) [You save $20.25]



    Slate Voyager



    Black Tan Classic

    Black Tan Classic, $80.75 (Originally $95) [You save $14.25]



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    julian assange

    • The DOJ reportedly plans to indict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
    • The exact charges prosecutors would bring are unclear, but they are likely to include some related to the Espionage Act.
    • Assange and WikiLeaks are at the center of the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
    • Washington has been buzzing with speculation in recent days that Mueller will soon drop an indictment related to WikiLeaks' activities during the 2016 election.

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) is preparing to bring charges against Julian Assange, the founder of the radical pro-transparency group WikiLeaks, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

    Over the past year, prosecutors are said to have discussed a variety of charges they could bring against Assange and are reportedly optimistic that they could get Assange, who is currently seeking asylum at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, into a US court.

    The US' push comes as Assange's relationship with Ecuador is in decline, and as the South American country is looking to bolster its relationship with the US.

    The DOJ has been investigating Assange since 2010, and according to The Journal, while the exact charges prosecutors want to bring against him are unclear, they may involve the Espionage Act.

    Assange and WikiLeaks are at the center of the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 US election.

    In an indictment charging 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking into the Democratic National Committee and disseminating stolen emails, Mueller's office mentioned WikiLeaks — though not by name — as the Russians' conduit to release hacked documents via the hacker Guccifer 2.0, who is believed to be a front for Russian military intelligence.

    WikiLeaks touts itself as an independent organization, but US intelligence believes the group to be a propaganda tool for the Kremlin. Former CIA director Mike Pompeo also characterized WikiLeaks as a "non-state hostile intelligence service."

    The Journal reported that prosecutors are weighing whether to publicly charge Assange, like they did with the Russian nationals who have so far been indicted as part of the Russia probe, to force the Ecuadorean embassy to turn him over to the US.

    The last indictment Mueller's office issued was against the 12 Russian military intelligence officers in July. The special counsel's office has been quiet over the last month or so, likely adhering to DOJ guidelines that bar prosecutors from taking any overt action that could influence the outcome of an election like the recent November midterms.

    But Washington is currently buzzing with anticipation that Mueller will drop something big soon, whether it's in the form of an indictment or a report in his ongoing obstruction investigation against the president.

    In recent days, speculation has mounted that he will charge certain individuals in connection with WikiLeaks' activities during the election, including the longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone and the far-right conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi.

    Assange's lawyer told The Journal they hadn't heard anything about a potential DOJ case against the WikiLeaks founder.

    "We have heard nothing from authorities suggesting that a criminal case against Mr. Assange is imminent," the attorney Barry Pollack said. "Prosecuting someone for publishing truthful information would set a terrible and dangerous precedent."

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    NOW WATCH: This top economist has a radical plan to change the way Americans vote


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    Black Friday shopping fight

    • Black Friday can bring out the worst in some people.
    • Retail workers Business Insider surveyed shared some of their most cringe-worthy stories.
    • We also scoured Reddit for workers' horrifying accounts of Black Friday mayhem.

    If you ask the people who work in retail, Black Friday is rarely described in the most flattering of ways.

    "Being retired now, Black Friday is a nightmare of the past," a former retail worker told Business Insider. "In my many years in retail, each one seemed to get worse." 

    This isn't to say all Black Friday shoppers are horrible people. 

    As one retail worker told Business Insider, "For the most part, people have always been very nice and patient. They can see it's busy and I'm doing my best to get everybody taken care of." They said it's usually the customers who are never satisfied — "we can spot them a mile away" — that are more likely to make a scene.

    In honor of the "wild and hectic" day when everyone is "tired and cranky" — their words — Business Insider asked more than 40 Black Friday workers to share some of the most outrageous things they've seen working Black Friday.

    We also scoured Reddit for horror stories told by former Black Friday workers.

    SEE ALSO: 14 things Black Friday workers wish shoppers would stop doing

    DON'T MISS: Black Friday workers confess 9 things they'd love to tell shoppers but can't

    "Black Friday is like Hunger Games. The tributes are released, and everyone thinks they are extra special, so they should be allowed to just open pallets and take whatever they want well before the sale."



    "I once saw a fight between strangers because someone changed lines. They did not cut in line, they just got behind the other line. And someone in front of that person — so no way they were being affected — decided to verbally attack this person ...



    "... the person fought back. Nasty things were said, and both these individuals had kids with them to witness this.'"



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    Donald Trump

    • President Donald Trump indicated Wednesday that he replaced former Attorney General Jeff Sessions with former US Attorney Matthew Whitaker because he wants Whitaker to hamper the Russia investigation.
    • Speaking to The Daily Caller, Trump called Whitaker "somebody that's very respected" and tacked on, "As far as I'm concerned, this is an investigation that should have never been brought."
    • The statement is reminiscent of Trump's admission to NBC's Lester Holt last year that he ousted then FBI director James Comey because of the Russia investigation.
    • "What is so unusual about Trump is that he publicly forecasts his motivation in a way that is self-defeating and self-incriminating," one DOJ veteran told INSIDER.
    • Trump's interview with The Daily Caller comes after a series of bombshell developments in the Russia investigation, indicating that the president is increasingly worried about what the special counsel Robert Mueller has.

    President Donald Trump on Wednesday indicated during an interview that he tapped former US attorney Matthew Whitaker to replace then Attorney General Jeff Sessions in order to rein in the Russia investigation.

    Speaking to The Daily Caller, Trump expanded on his thought process behind choosing Whitaker to take over as acting attorney general.

    "Matthew Whitaker is a very respected man," Trump said. "He's — and he’s, very importantly, he’s respected within DOJ. I heard he got a very good decision, I haven’t seen it."

    He added that he "heard it was a very strong opinion," referring to the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel's 20-page memo justifying Whitaker's appointment as acting attorney general until the Senate confirms a permanent replacement.

    Reiterating that Whitaker is "somebody that's very respected" — a claim that stands in contrast to many DOJ and FBI officials' views of their new boss — Trump said he "knew him only as he pertained, you know, as he was with Jeff Sessions."

    The president then appeared to allude to the fact that he tapped Whitaker primarily to constrain the Russia investigation.

    "As far as I'm concerned, this is an investigation that should have never been brought," Trump told The Daily Caller. "It should have never been had ... It's an illegal investigation."

    He then tacked on: "And you know, it's very interesting because when you talk about not Senate confirmed, [the special counsel Robert Mueller] is not Senate confirmed."

    The admission is reminiscent of when Trump told NBC's Lester Holt last year that he ousted then FBI director James Comey because of the Russia investigation.

    Trump's statement to Holt now makes up one of the central threads of Mueller's investigation into whether the president sought to obstruct justice in the inquiry, and legal experts told INSIDER his admission to The Daily Caller could add another piece to Mueller's probe.

    "What is so unusual about Trump is that he publicly forecasts his motivation in a way that is self-defeating and self-incriminating," Elie Honig, a former prosecutor from the Southern District of New York who specialized in organized-crime cases, told INSIDER.

    Jeffrey Cramer, a longtime former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the DOJ, echoed that assessment.

    "The president's knee-jerk pivot to talking about the Russia investigation when asked about Whitaker's qualification is what poker players call a 'tell,'" Cramer told INSIDER.

    The most difficult thing for investigators to prove in an obstruction-of-justice case is corrupt intent on the part of the defendant.

    "Sometimes you get lucky and get emails or wiretapped phone calls ... where the subject might secretly or privately admit intent," Honig said. "Other times the prosecutor simply must argue intent to the jury based on circumstantial evidence. With Trump, however, we have a subject who openly and publicly and unapologetically announces why he takes certain steps, even when those reasons might give rise to criminal liability."

    NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 08: Robert S. Mueller III, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), speaks at the International Conference on Cyber Security (ICCS) on August 8, 2013 in New York City. The ICCS, which is co-hosted by Fordham University and the FBI, is held every 18 months; more than 25 countries are represented at this year's conference. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

    Trump lashes out as Mueller's quiet period comes to an end

    Whitaker has a long history of making controversial remarks about the Mueller investigation and has publicly mused about gutting the probe. Though he submitted to a DOJ ethics inquiry into whether he should recuse himself, Whitaker told Sen. Lindsey Graham on Thursday that he would not be stepping back from the investigation.

    "He says he will be following regular order," Graham told The Washington Post.

    Trump has made conflicting remarks about his history with Whitaker. Before telling The Daily Caller he knows Whitaker as it pertains to Sessions, he told reporters last week that he did not know the acting attorney general in any capacity. But last month, the president told Fox & Friends Whitaker was "a great guy," adding, "I mean, I know Matt Whitaker."

    Meanwhile, after being uncharacteristically subdued leading up to the November midterms, Trump took to Twitter Thursday, just hours after his Daily Caller interview, to lay into Mueller, accusing the special counsel of "screaming and shouting at people" and "horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want."

    "The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess," Trump tweeted. "They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts ... A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!"

    Trump's unusually specific claims that the special counsel was "screaming" and "horribly threatening" people to talk came as he and his lawyers were preparing to send over their answers to a set of written questions from Mueller about potential collusion with Russia.

    The tweetstorm also came after the far-right conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, an associate of longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone, indicated he expects to be indicted soon.

    And earlier this week, Mueller's office asked a federal court in Washington, DC, for an extension on the sentencing of former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates until January, a sign that Gates still has a significant amount of information for prosecutors.

    That Trump's admission about Whitaker to The Daily Caller and his tweetstorm came after this series of developments on the Russia front could indicate that the president is growing increasingly worried about what Mueller has.

    In the meantime, Trump's lawyers have repeatedly warned him not to criticize Mueller and the Russia probe on Twitter or in the media, though Trump frequently ignores their advice. Rudy Giuliani, Trump's lead defense lawyer, has tried to mitigate the damage from his public comments by claiming one cannot obstruct justice in public.

    But Honig said that argument can only go so far.

    "In fact, people do sometimes commit crimes openly and flagrantly," he said, "particularly if they believe they will not be held accountable or are beyond the reach of the law."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The Obamas are worth $40 million — here's how they make and spend their money


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    Boise Idaho

    • Believe it or not, Idaho's population grew faster than any other state in the country last year.
    • Here, author Benjamin Rippey details why he and his wife decided to move from an apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey, to a home in Boise, Idaho.
    • Boise is cheaper, cleaner, and less crowded than New York City. And gun culture is prevalent.

    Boise, Idaho. I could scarcely have placed it on a map a year ago. Now I live here.

    I'm a lifelong East Coaster. Having spent much of that in Northern Jersey, I speak quickly and in short sentences. I am mostly always in a hurry. I'm cranky and jaded and unimpressed.  

    How then, as a mid-career, family-planning 30-something did I find myself in Idaho?

    I'm still processing that myself.

    For my wife and I, living just outside of Manhattan suited us for a long time. Indeed, I can't say I ever seriously considered anything else. Life was good. We ate well, enjoyed ourselves, made friends and contacts, developed personally and professionally. We had dinner parties and went to shows — comedy, Broadway, et al. We traveled a lot — the kind of travel that puts your life and your own place in the world into perspective.

    But years of city life were taking their toll, leaving us tired and frustrated. We began staying home more often, sequestering ourselves from crowds and incidental expenses. Every thought of leaving the house caused agitation. What fresh nightmares will the traffic gods unleash? A $12 beer? Wait, did we park in a Monday spot?  

    In short, too many people, with no respite in sight. Amazon's HQ2 is coming to NYC, with all the familiar side effects — more people, more traffic, higher cost of living.

    Cost of living was already a major consideration when we bought our two-bedroom Hoboken apartment in 2012. Overnight, it seemed, we couldn't afford our own town anymore. When we committed to sell the same apartment seven years later, the new owners paid just under a million. A million dollars for 1,000 square feet and street parking.

    After several years looking for affordability within a familiar tri-state top ten list (Westchester, Maplewood, Red Bank, Stamford) and other locales (Maine; Rhode Island; Catskill, NY), nothing left us confident or inspired.

    My wife travels for business, with her largest client in Boise, Idaho. After two years of Boise comings and goings, she finally said over dinner, "I love it there. I want you to see it."

    Boise, for all I knew, might have been a waffle house adjacent to a potato farm. I could not have been more wrong.

    The traffic is nonexistent, the air is clean, and the city is uncrowded

    It's been less than a year since that dinner, and we've been in Boise for a few months. My first impressions? The people are nice. Fall weather is glorious. What passes for "traffic" in Idaho is ... adorable. The air is clean. The streets are clean. The city is uncrowded, but active.

    Outside of the city, the only real noise is the sound of construction — growing pains from a housing market booming with buyers like us: tired of the expense, the pretense, and the headaches of big city life. Bloomberg recently reported that 29% of those perusing Boise real-estate listings on Realtor.com are Californians, where homes cost five times more than those in Idaho's capital.

    Read more:Forget Portland and Seattle — people priced out of expensive California cities are buying homes in Idaho for 'Monopoly money'

    They call it the Treasure Valley, and it's easy to see why. Boise is green — one of its many contradictions. A desert full of trees, supported by the wide and slow-moving Boise River. The river is enveloped by Greenbelt park, the pulse of the city's activity. And Boise is very active — from skiing to jogging to biking to kayaking, there's a sport for all seasons.

    Boise is a shockingly satisfying place for foodies: farmers' markets on Saturdays, olive hummus, elk steak, Idaho red wine, specialty coffee, and surprisingly great restaurants.

    The business community is also surprisingly (to me, at least) robust. Boise is open for business, with a buzz of free enterprise and opportunity: new shops, new restaurants, lots of new-ness. Big tech has a presence here — Micron and HP among others — supported by a prominent startup ecosystem. With faster population growth than other any state in the country in 2017, according to the US Census Bureau, there's an optimism here that Idaho's ascendance is just beginning.

    But I still experience culture shock every day  

    One thing I was unprepared for? Guns. Literally the first piece of mail that came to our new address was a gun advertisement. They are everywhere. You can bring a loaded pistol into Walmart, and no one bats an eye — that is, no one expect one frightened East Coast couple.

    And then there's the politics. "Aren't you in Trump country?" friends inquire. The answer is yes and no. Like most cities, Boise is solidly blue: eco-friendly, progressive, understanding of people's differences. But I'd be lying to say that there isn't a bit of culture shock every day — some small reminder that we live in a deeply red state.

    Our four-bedroom home in the foothills sits on a small plot of land on a tree-lined street and doesn't require two six-figure salaries to support it. All in, it cost us a little over half of what we sold our apartment for, and barely one-tenth of what we might have paid for anything remotely comparable in Hoboken.

    Boise is a proper city, with everything city people are accustomed to — just a bit less of it. A place largely free of suburban sprawl, surrounded by protected wilderness. A city, unlike most others, where 12 miles north you're in the middle of nowhere.

    I find myself speaking a little slower these days and being a little less cranky. Boise is still unfamiliar to me. I don't know the street names. I don't know our neighbors. But what is familiar is a feeling I had growing up in a small New England town: Work doesn't consume you, commutes don't kill you, and status doesn't define you.

    SEE ALSO: 7 reasons why traveling by train is better than flying

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 4 lottery winners who lost it all


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    iPhone XS Max photo

    Last weekend, I spent a pretty magical day in Central Park.

    The weather was beautiful — sunny and crisp — and the leaves had almost fully turned, making it one of the best times to experience Central Park's foliage. I had no plan for the day, other than wandering around the park and getting some fresh air. (Oh, and catching a glimpse of the park's famed Mandarin duck.)

    It seemed like the perfect excuse to test the camera on the smartphone I'm using right now: Apple's new iPhone XS Max. Apple touted the camera's new features during its big September event, and it's expected to be excellent.

    I didn't put the phone through its paces or do a scientific camera test. But what I found still surprised me. I expected it to be a great camera, but I was also expecting to be unimpressed by portrait mode, which has never quite been perfect, and by the colors, which sometimes look too warm for my taste.

    But it turns out that the camera really is that good. Take a look.

    (It's worth noting that photos may appear slightly compressed because of a bug with Business Insider's website — we're working on it!)

    SEE ALSO: The 6 biggest differences you need to know about when switching from an older iPhone to the iPhone XS Max

    Here's the lake at Central Park. The phone captured the fall colors well, and overall, it's pretty sharp — check out those people in a rowboat on the left.



    I was impressed by how the phone performed in the shade.

    It was a nice sunny day when I captured this photo, but we were walking underneath a canopy of trees, and it wasn't particularly bright on this path. Still, I was impressed by how the XS Max performed.

    I love the colors in this photo — bright, inviting, and warm. And though I tend to find iPhone photos too sepia-tinged on the past few phones, I felt that the colors here looked very true to life.



    Time for a little portrait mode. In the past, I haven't been wildly impressed by the iPhone's portrait mode. But here, it blew me away.

    I've always been a little underwhelmed by portrait mode on the iPhone. It often has strange quirks and flaws, like cutting off someone's hair or blurring a finger or two.

    But with the iPhone XS Max, Apple's improvements made the feature very impressive.

    Not only are the colors beautiful, but the background blur looks amazing. The camera only really struggled when it came to his glasses, but figuring out how to handle a pair of clear lenses is, understandably, difficult.

    Usually, hair is a little tricky for the phone's technology to cut around, but in this case, it's nearly flawless.

    I can't imagine that portrait mode will ever be in the same league as a real camera, and I generally prefer portrait mode on Google's Pixel phones. But if this photo is any indication, the iPhone's portrait-mode feature has come a long way.



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    best pliers

    • Pliers are an essential part of your home toolkit, so we've rounded up the best ones you can buy whether you want long-nose, vise-grip, or linesman's pliers.

    • Japanese engineering, robust steel construction, a comfortable grip, and the best jaw profile we've seen culminate in the Vampliers Pro. These are the last pair of linesman's pliers you'll ever need to buy.

    Like a hammer, screwdriver, and roll of duct tape, a good pair of pliers is one of those tools that everybody — handyman or not — should have in the home. In fact, pliers are considerably more versatile than the aforementioned tools, with a wide variety of uses both in the home and in the workplace.

    There are also more varieties of pliers than there are of hammers and screwdrivers, though, and shopping around for a good pair or set of pliers can get confusing quickly. But despite the different types of pliers and jaw shapes, these tools basically all fall into three categories: non-adjustable, adjustable, and locking.

    Non-adjustable pliers are probably what you think of when you think of "pliers" — a simple set of pincers with grips. Some may also feature a small sliding joint that lets you widen the jaws a bit.

    Adjustable pliers, also called groove- or channel-lock pliers, allow you to greatly widen the distance between the nose heads to suit the object you're working on. Locking pliers, colloquially referred to as "vise grips," are also adjustable to a degree but feature the additional ability to lock into place so you can attach them to something and then let them go without the pliers falling off.

    There are further sub-types within these categories that feature different nose and grip designs, but once you've got a basic idea of what you need, narrowing down the right pliers for you isn't so hard. To help you save some time, we've sorted out the five best pliers you can buy, with our picks covering most needs, use cases, and budgets.

    Here are the best pliers you can buy:

    Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

    The best pliers overall

    Why you'll love them: Great build quality and a unique jaw design make the Japanese-made Vampliers Pro the best and the most versatile linesman's pliers that you can buy.

    There are many styles of pliers out there, and home handymen and professionals alike will probably end up with multiple pairs suited for different tasks. For your go-to pliers, though, a solid pair of "linesman pliers" will tackle most jobs you're likely to face, and the Japanese-made Vampliers are easily the best ones you'll ever use.

    The "Pro" model is the larger pair of Vampliers which Vampire calls "screw extraction pliers" owing to their unique jaw design. We found the standard 6.25-inch Vampliers to be a little bit small for some tasks, and so the 8-inch "Pro" is our top pick. The Pro's jaws are beefier, but these Vampliers aren't too big or unwieldy by any means thanks to the comfortable contoured grips.

    The versatility of the Vampliers is evident in the design of its jaws. Whereas most plier jaws have a single set of horizontal grooves that allow the teeth to grip the work piece, the Vampliers have both horizontal and vertical teeth. This more complex jaw profile lets the user gain purchase on an object from two different directions and is what makes the Vampire pliers particularly good at extracting stubborn screws, nuts, and bolts.

    Of course, as a meaty pair of linesman's pliers, the Vampliers Pro will also tackle pretty much anything else you need standard pliers for, including crimping and trimming wires with the built-in wire cutter.

    They're fairly expensive at $45, but the Japanese-made quality, fantastic design, and versatility of the Vampliers make them worth every penny in our opinion. For a sturdy pair of jack-of-all-trades pliers that will last a lifetime, the Vampliers Pro are the gold standard.

    Pros: Made in Japan, excellent steel construction, ergonomically contoured grips, unique jaw design that's extremely versatile (and great for difficult tasks like screw extraction), and built-in wire cutters

    Cons: They're relatively expensive

    Buy the Vampire Pro pliers on Amazon for $45



    The best long-nose pliers

    Why you'll love them: For more delicate tasks like electrical work, the Klein all-purpose pliers are the perfect tool, thanks to their comfortable spring-loaded grip, well-designed long-nose jaws, and built-in wire cutters and strippers.

    Linesman's pliers like the Vampliers are highly versatile tools that are great for many jobs, but certain tasks that involve smaller work pieces — like electrical wires — require a more delicate touch. Long-nose pliers, which feature narrower jaws with a smaller surface gripping area, make it much easier to maneuver in tight areas and gain purchase on small or hard-to-reach objects.

    These long-nose pliers from Klein are perfect for such jobs. The jaws are long without being "needle-nose" thin, allowing you to grip smaller objects and make loops with wiring while still offering enough size and strength for other everyday jobs you'd need pliers for. The head also features a hardened wire cutter and five holes for stripping 8-16 gauge solid and 10-18 gauge stranded wiring.

    Made in America, the Klein pliers feel tight and solid as soon as you pick them up, and this built-to-last quality is evident right down to the hot-riveted joint, which exhibits no annoying slop or play. The Klein pliers also have a very comfortable rubberized and contoured grip with a spring-assisted opening, which requires a short break-in period but is ultimately easier to operate for extended periods.

    The long but sturdy jaws and suite of wire-working features make the accurately-named Klein all-purpose pliers extremely versatile, and given this wide range of use, these were competing with the Vampliers for our top pick. But as adaptable as they are, the Klein pliers' jaws are not quite beefy enough for gripping larger workpieces.

    This isn't a drawback, necessarily — this is just the nature of long-nosed pliers designed for more delicate work — but it's something to be mindful of if you're looking for a single "go-to" pair of around-the-house pliers. Nonetheless, these are an excellent choice for electricians, HVAC technicians, and general users looking for a solid set of pliers that pack a lot of functionality into one handy tool.

    Pros: Made in the US, a versatile long-nosed jaw design, built-in wire cutters and strippers, comfortable spring-loaded grips, and a tight joint that doesn't wobble

    Cons: Fairly expensive, and the tight rivet requires a short "break-in" period

    Buy the Klein all-purpose long-nose pliers on Amazon for $38



    The best locking pliers

    Why you'll love them: If you're tired of busted knuckles from your pliers slipping off the work piece, then locking "Vise-Grip" pliers are what you need, and Irwin still makes the best ones for less than $20.

    If you're at all familiar with basic tools, then you've almost certainly heard of locking pliers referred to as "vise grips." Like Kleenex and Q-Tips, however, "Vise-Grip" is actually a patented name that has become a catch-all term for all pliers of this style, which was originally created by the Irwin tool company.

    One persistent frustration with pliers is that they generally require you to keep hold of the tool while it's on the work piece, and those without locking mechanisms can lose purchase and slip off the piece altogether, resulting in annoyance at the least and skinned knuckles at worst. Groove lock designs like the Knipex Cobra and Channellock mitigate this to some degree, but no pliers keep hold of objects better than Irwin-designed Vise-Grips.

    Vise-Grips work by adjusting to the size of the work piece and then locking in place when gripped onto the target object, thus keeping the jaws securely clamped regardless of the handle's orientation. This allows you to release your grip without the pliers losing theirs and is particularly useful when you need to turn the pliers around an object, such as when tightening or loosening a section of pipe. A simple release lever at the base of the handle allows you to unlock the jaws when you need to remove them.

    It's an intuitive and effective design that hasn't changed much over the decades, and the Irwin Vise-Grips remain the standard for this style of pliers.

    Unfortunately, though, the Vise-Grips are no longer manufactured in the US and are now fabricated in China. This may not be a drawback for you depending on whether or not you care about this sort of thing, especially considering the price and that the Vise-Grips are still very well-made and built to get the job done.

    Pros: Solid construction, highly affordable, and the locking mechanism effectively secures the jaws tightly to the work piece with little to no risk of the pliers falling off

    Cons: No longer made in the US

    Buy the Irwin Vise-Grip locking pliers (10-inch) on Amazon for $16.63



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    United Airlines

    • For a limited time, United Airlines and Chase are offering the highest-ever public sign-up bonus on their co-branded credit card. 
    • The United Explorer Card offers up to 65,000 miles for new applicants: 40,000 United miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months, and another 25,000 miles after spending a total of $10,000 in the first six months. 
    • Usually, the card only offers 40,000 miles unless you're specially targeted for something higher.
    • The bonus is enough for a round-trip flight to Europe, or even a ticket in United's new Polaris business class.
    • This offer is only available until January 8, 2019, so don't wait.

    The best way to get a ton of frequent flyer miles quickly — aside from booking an incredibly expensive and long flight — is signing up for a new credit card and earning its sign-up bonus. This style of "travel hacking" is basically a way get flights or hotel fees for free — you can get a massive haul of points just for opening a new card and spending money that you were going to spend anyway.

    The key is to make sure that when you open a card, you're getting the best offer that you can get. Some cards offer higher bonuses seasonally or during promotions, some products have higher bonuses when they launch, and some offer special bonuses for individually targeted customers.

    If you tend to fly United Airlines and you don't have the United Explorer credit card, now is an excellent time to apply for it.

    For a limited time, United and Chase, which issues the card, are offering the highest-ever public offer on their co-branded credit card.

    When you open a new card, you can earn up to 65,000 miles when you open a new card. The offer is broken into two chunks — you'll earn 40,000 United miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months, and another 25,000 miles after spending a total of $10,000 in the first six months. 

    This offer is only available until January 8, 2019, so don't wait.

    While that spending requirement is higher than many cards, earning the full bonus would require an average of $1,670 per month for the first six months. Between the holiday season and other ways to meet a spending bonus without spending more than you would otherwise, it's certainly doable for a lot of people.

    The United Explorer card was revamped this spring, and comes with some useful perks and benefits. 

    One highlight that sets it apart from the other airlines' mainstream cards — you'll get two United Club passes per year. These passes get you entry to United Club lounges, where you can enjoy comfortable seating, Wi-Fi, free food and drinks, and more before your flight. Normally, one-time entry to a United Club would cost $59 if you didn't have a membership. 

    The United Explorer card offers a free checked bag for you and a travel companion when you use the card to pay for your tickets. A checked bag costs $30 each way, so if you and another person on your reservation both take advantage of the free benefit, you'll save $120 on a round-trip.

    Additionally, the card offers an application fee credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck — a solid value if you don't already have one or both of the services. While it's not a published benefit, United cardholders also get access to more saver award space than other United members — that makes it easier to find good flights when it's time to use your miles.

    The United Explorer earns 2x miles per dollar spent at restaurants, hotels, and on all United purchase, as well as 1x mile on everything else. It has a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year.

    Should I apply?

    This is the best public sign-up bonus we've seen on this card, so if you're eligible to earn it, now is the time to apply.

    Keep in mind that you won't be able ot earn the bonus if you currently have the United Explorer card, or if you've earned a sign-up bonus for this card within the past 24 months. You also may not be able to get approved if you've opened five or more personal credit cards in the past 24 months.

    Aside from that, if you tend to fly United, the Explorer card offers a solid value, and waives its annual fee for the first year, making the bonus purely profit.

    Just keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that makes this card a great option, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.

    When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.

    Click here to learn more about the United Explorer Card from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

    SEE ALSO: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and perks in 2018

    DON'T MISS: 12 lucrative credit card deals you can get when opening a new card in November — including a 200,000-point bonus

    READ MORE: Capital One announces huge improvement to the popular Venture card — including 12 new airline transfer partners and a heftier sign-up bonus

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    princess tiana 2 disney

    • "Ralph Breaks the Internet" directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore talked to Business Insider about the controversy surrounding the way Princess Tiana from "The Princess and the Frog" is depicted in the movie.
    • Following the online backlash, they went back and worked on the character again, saying it is now "as close to the 2D version as you can get."
    • The filmmakers also revealed that there is more than one Disney princesses scene in the movie. 

     

    In "Ralph Breaks the Internet," the sequel to Disney's 2012 animated movie "Wreck-It Ralph," main characters from the original, Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), leave the friendly confines of their arcade games and launch into the world of the internet, where anything is possible. 

    That includes Vanellope finding herself in a room full of Disney princesses. 

    The scene has been in most of the promotions for the movie (which opens in theaters November 21), since it debuted at last year's D23 expo. And though it's a hilarious look at everyone from Snow White to Elsa talking about the unique similarities that make them all princesses, the scene was also caught up in controversy over how one of them was depicted. 

    ralph breaks the internet disneyMany who have seen the footage of the scene in the "Ralph Breaks the Internet" trailer felt Princess Tiana, from the 2009 Disney animated movie "The Princess and the Frog," did not resemble how she looked in her movie. That includes the advocacy organization Color of Change and the actress who voices the character, Anika Noni Rose.

    Rose posted her thoughts on Instagram:

    The outcry led to the directors of "Ralph Breaks the Internet," Phil Johnston and Rich Moore, to go back in with their team and improve on Tiana before the release of the movie. 

    Business Insider sat down with the filmmakers last month while they were attending New York Comic-Con, and they opened up about the process to get Princess Tiana right.

    "In the last six or eight months we started getting some feedback that people didn't think Tiana looked like the original character from 'Princess and the Frog,'" Johnston said, who noted the challenges of converting a 2D-drawn character, which Tiana was in "Princess and the Frog," to a CGI version.

    "It was the first time many of those princesses were done that way," Johnston said.

    the princess and the frog disney final"So as we looked at it we said, 'Yeah, we need to do a better job.' So we did some work on her character to try to get her closer to the original 2D model, and once we had done that we invited in a bunch of groups, including Anika," Johnston said.

    "If we don't get it perfect, we want to hear that," Moore added. "And even from outside sources. If we hear that something is not the best it can be, we look at it, because we want to honor those characters. We want it to be the best it can be. And we take that very, very seriously."

    The filmmakers brought in Rose as well as advocacy groups like Color of Change and had them look at the revised Tiana. It's almost reminiscent of what Disney's Pixar Studios did with the making of "Coco," in which director Lee Unkrich invited in cultural consultants though different phases of the making of the movie to make sure the story correctly represented Mexican culture.

    "There were tears, everyone was thrilled and happy that it was done," Johnston said. "And at the end of the day we are thrilled with the way that she looks and feel like it's as close to the 2D version as you can get in CG, knowing that there are going to be differences because the process is so different."

    The filmmakers also said that the princesses scene will be a little different in the movie version compared to the footage in the trailer. Specifically, a few new jokes and a couple lines of dialogue from Vanellope.

    And it sounds like that won't be the only time Princess Tiana will be seen in the movie. Johnston and Moore revealed that all the princesses show up again later in the movie. 

    "I have friends who are like, 'It's just that one scene with them, right?' All I can say is you'll definitely see more of them," Moore said.

     

    SEE ALSO: "Venom" is a darkly comedic Marvel movie you will either love or hate

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The inside story behind the Marvel movie you were never supposed to see


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