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The latest news from Life

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    Southwest Airlines

    • A Southwest Airlines boarding agent mocked the name of a five-year-old girl with epilepsy. 
    • According to Newsweek, a Southwest Airlines staff member at John Wayne airport in Orange County, California singled out five-year-old Abcde (pronounced ab-city) Redford during the pre-flight boarding process. 
    • The girl's mother, Traci Redford, said the agent "mocked" her daughter's unusual name as he checked her boarding pass, pointing and laughing and talking about her name to other employees. 
    • The gate agent also took a picture of Abcde's boarding pass and later posted it on social media, presumably to draw attention to her name.
    • In a statement to Business Insider, Southwest Airlines apologized to the family. 

    A Southwest Airlines boarding agent mocked the name of a five-year-old girl with epilepsy, multiple sources have reported. 

    According to Newsweek, a Southwest Airlines staff member at John Wayne airport in Orange County, California singled out five-year-old Abcde (pronounced ab-city) Redford during the pre-flight boarding process. 

    Newsweek reports the girl's mother, Traci Redford, said the agent "mocked" her daughter's unusual name as he checked her boarding pass, pointing and laughing and talking about her name to other employees. 

    "The gate agent started laughing, pointing at me and my daughter, talking to other employees. So I turned around and said, 'Hey if I can hear you, my daughter can hear you, so I'd appreciate if you'd just stop,'" Traci Redford said, according to ABC 7.

    ABC 7 reports Abcde has epilepsy, so the Redfords always board early. During the boarding the gate agent took a picture of Abcde's boarding pass and later posted it on social media, presumably to draw attention to her name.

    Read More:A Southwest Airlines baggage handler was caught on camera recklessly throwing luggage around

    "While I was sitting there, she took a picture of my boarding pass and chose to post it on social media, mocking my daughter. It was actually brought to my attention by somebody who had seen it on Facebook and reported it to Southwest Airlines. And after two weeks of doing a formal complaint, Southwest hadn't done anything," said Redford, according to ABC 7.

    In a statement to Business Insider, Southwest Airlines apologized to the family and said, "We take great pride in extending our Southwest Hospitality to all of our Customers, which includes living by the Golden Rule and treating every individual with respect, in person or online."

    "The post is not indicative of the care, respect, and civility we expect from all of our Employees. We have followed up with the Employee involved, and while we do not disclose personnel actions publicly, we are using this as an opportunity to reinforce our policies and emphasize our expectations for all Employees." 

    Traci Redford's experience was posted on social media by ABC 7 reporter Veronica Miracle:

     

     

     

    SEE ALSO: Southwest Airlines employees discover a noose at a Houston airport — and this isn't the first time it's happened, one lawsuit claims

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    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why you shouldn't be afraid to fly, according to a pilot with over 20 years of experience


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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.

    mens hiking boots 4x3

    • When you're miles away from civilization, you rely on your gear, and no gear matters more than the boots on your feet.
    • The Asolo TPS 520 GV hiking boots give you the support, water-resistance, and comfort you need to conquer any trail or mountain.

    When I was sixteen years old, I went to Spain with a group of high school students to hike nearly two hundred miles of the venerable Camino de Santiago, a trek that traverses much of Northern Spain. While I'll never forget the laughs, the struggles, or stunning vistas, the memories of my feet are what left the most profound impression. Specifically, I mean the problems with my feet. I would not wish the plethora of savage blisters I developed on my worst enemy.

    I had chosen what I thought was a decent pair of hiking boots before I set out for my Spanish odyssey, but in fact, I clearly selected a poor pair for my feet. I also probably didn't break the boots in nearly well enough. Despite the bloody mess my feet were in at the end of that trek, I went on to develop a profound love for hiking, mountaineering, and really for any outdoor activity. And you can bet I have never since bought or used a pair of boots I have not first researched well and tested thoroughly.

    I've used that hard-earned knowledge to compile a guide to the best hiking boots, but first, here are some things to consider before you buy.

    How to choose the right boots

    Choosing the right hiking boots means first considering the environment in which you will primarily use them. Some boots are designed for use in snow and ice and are ideal when paired with crampons or spikes. Others are light and breathable and will keep your feet cool even in the heat of the desert. Some boots are ideal for jungle travel, repelling water while wicking sweat. The fact is that no one hiking boot is perfect for all conditions, so you should choose a boot that's best suited to the environments you frequent.

    Pay attention to material, tread pattern, weight, and design elements like the height of the rise and the lacing system. Every aspect of a boot either contributes to or detracts from its suitability for a given environment or activity, and only through a thoughtful assessment of planned uses and a close study of the boot itself can you be sure to find a proper pair.

    For the record, if you're a serious hiker, climber, or camper, you're going to want to own a few pairs of boots. This is especially true if the seasons vary greatly in your area or if you travel for your treks.

    Currently, I own four pairs, two of which I use the most often. I have been through seven or eight pairs over the years not counting the ones that shredded my feet back in Europe many years ago, so while I can't promise that one of these five pairs of hiking boots is the absolute best fit for you personally, I can guarantee they're all rugged, reliable footwear. Read on to see which of our top picks is best for you.

    Here are the best men's hiking boots you can buy online:

    Updated on 11/29/18 by Owen Burke: Added the new version of our winter pick, the Columbia Daska Pass III, and the Danner Mountain Pass boots. Updated pricing and formatting.

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

    SEE ALSO: The best travel backpacks you can buy

    The best hiking boots overall

    Why you'll love them: The Asolo TPS 520 GV hiking boots are comfortable the first time you slip them on, no break-in period required, and they hold up even after thousands of miles of trekking in all conditions.

    If you're a committed hiker, camper, or mountaineer, you know that at the end of the day, your hiking boots are your most important pieces of gear, so you should be ready to pay a decent chunk for them. You could leave your tent, pack, sleeping pad, stove, and all the rest of it behind, but you need a solid pair of boots on your feet if you want to trek your way back out of the wilderness safely. If you want hiking boots that will be comfortable the first time you lace them up and that stay that way after tens of thousands of steps, slip your feet into the Asolo TPS 520 GVs.

    With a rugged full-grain leather exterior and a waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex interior, the TPS 520s are ready for the elements, whether those elements include rain, rock, snow, mud, and more. The solid Vibram sole is treaded for ideal grip in a myriad of conditions and keeps your foot supported whether you're scrambling through a boulder field, kicking steps into a snowpack with crampons attached, or just strolling through a grassy field. The boots' sturdy uppers protect your ankles against injury even when you roll a foot over a loose rock or catch a toe on a pesky root.

    Backpacker highlights the Asolo 520's durability and longevity, making it clear that these boots are worth their slightly elevated price tag. The review team also noted that nearly non-existent break-in time. Trailspace recommends these boots especially for use during winter treks thanks to their warmth and insulation.

    I recommend them because even after trying out six or seven other brands over the past fifteen years, I always choose my Asolos for any serious hike. They've carried me up and down Mt. Whitney, Mt. Rainier, the Grand Teton, and through the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains in Colombia, just to name a few of their many outings.

    But don't take it from me (or do, actually — I've logged thousands of miles in hiking boots!) when you can also read dozens of glowing reviews on Amazon, most of which are accompanied by 5-star ratings. Overall, the Asolo TPS 520 GVs have a 4.5-star status, with most buyers celebrating the fact that their Asolos last for years and years even with regular use in all sorts of conditions.

    Pros: Instant comfort without break-in wearing, stellar water-resistance, great ankle and arch support, wicks moisture away from foot, easy and secure lacing system

    Cons: Heavier and bulkier than many other hiking boot options, rather expensive

    Buy the Asolo TPS 520 GV hiking boots on Amazon, starting at $248.50 (prices vary by size)



    The best hiking boots for winter

    Why you'll love them: Unless you plunge them into water that's deeper than their rise, the Columbia Daska Pass III Titanium Outdry Extreme boots simply won't let your feet get wet.

    When the Columbia Sportswear Company released began to release gear and apparel stamped with its OutDry Extreme certification a few years back, it changed the game for outdoor clothing. Simply put, if you see the OutDry label on a piece of apparel, you can count on that item to be 100% waterproof.

    You can trust me on this: I have worn various pieces of OutDry gear in downpours in the middle of a South American rainforest, in knee deep snow in the northeast of the United States (these exact boots!), and in many places in between. Also note the word Titanium in there: That's the top-of-the-line stuff this world-renowned apparel brand makes. If you need to rely on a pair of boots to keep your feet dry and supported in wet or wintry weather, these are a safe bet.

    The Daska Pass III boots are impressively lightweight for footwear that offers such superlative waterproofing, not to mention impressive insulation. Paired with the right socks, these boots will keep your feet warm even in conditions well below the freezing point. And their tall, sturdy uppers keep your ankles safe from a sprain (or worse) even when you're trekking across unstable terrain, like a shell of ice frozen over looser snow, for example.

    The boots have an outsole made from durable Vibram rubber and a poured polyurethane midsole that offers you some extra bounce in your step, almost like you might get from a running shoe. It's not quite the same level of rebound, but better than nothing!

    Columbia's Daska Pass III boots are at a decent price point, especially considering their durability. While in many conditions, the aforementioned insulation is a great asset, it's also the main drawback of these boots. They are just too warm for use in some places and seasons. If you wear these boots on a low elevation summer trek, your feet are going to sweat so much the waterproofing won't matter.

    If you browse the web in search of user comments about and ratings of the Columbia Daska Pass III Titanium Outdry Extreme Hiking Boots, you'll hardly ever find anything but glowing reviews and four- or five-star ratings. One reviewer stated: "I am a guide in Alaska. These are the only boots I own. They have been great for every activity I engage in." Another summed up his sentiments saying: "If you live in a relatively moderate and wet climate, this boot is probably your best [bet]."

    If you prefer to hear from the professionals, a Backpacker reviewer praised the Daska Pass III's ability to "shed water like a duck," calling them a superlative waterproof boot.

    Pros: Amazing waterproof rating, cannot be inundated even by standing in water, great insulation, ideal for use in cold weather

    Cons: Too warm for use in hot climates and/or seasons

    Buy the Columbia Daska Pass III Titanium Outdry Extreme Hiking Boots from Columbia for $180



    The best hiking boots for any conditions

    Why you'll love them: If you need one pair of hiking boots that will perform adroitly in the winter snow, the springtime mud, the summer's heat, or the frost of fall, then you should slip on a pair of versatile Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX hiking boots.

    As I said earlier and will repeat emphatically whenever it wouldn't be awkward to do so, no one hiking boot is ever going to be ideal for use in all types of conditions. But if you need to find the best possible compromise boot, whether for budgetary concerns or because you need to travel through various types of weather and terrain in a single expedition, the Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX hiking boots are a fine choice.

    The exterior of the boots features a blend of leather and textile, with Gore-Tex waterproofing underlying both materials. The six-inch shaft rises more than high enough to protect an ankle against a roll, while the thick rubber toecap protects your toes against a falling rock or a hard stub against a stone, log, step, or anything else.

    Now here are the compromises: The tread pattern is not aggressive; it's more akin to a trail shoe than a rugged boot suitable for the loose scree of a mountain pass. But you will often be on graded trails. The exterior is water-resistant, yes, but it will eventually soak through if you stand in puddles or streams. So ... don't do that. And while they might not be as warm as some boots, they are suitable for all seasons when paired with the right socks, as they let your foot breathe and stay cool when you wear thinner socks. 

    Amazon reviews for these boots number well over 1,600 at the time of this writing, with most people assigning five stars (80%) and with a chunk of four-star reviews as well (11%, and you can do the rest of the math). The current top review is from a hiker who wore these boots along hundreds of miles of the Appalachian Trail and sang their praises when the trek was done.

    As for an expert opinion, a Backcountry Edge video review calls them perfect for the "stability and support" you need in a boot that won't "weigh you down." The Switchback Travel review also praises the light weight of the boot, noting the protection offered by its tall upper, a rarity for boots that are so light.

    Pros: Versatile enough for use in many conditions, lightweight with flexible sole, breathable materials keep foot cool

    Cons: Thin underfoot padding leads to foot fatigue, tread pattern not ideal for some conditions

    Buy the Salomon Men's Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boot on Amazon for $126.47 and up (prices vary by size)



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Robert Mueller

    • Michael Cohen's latest plea deal with the special counsel Robert Mueller has far-reaching implications for President Donald Trump, as well as other witnesses in the Russia investigation.
    • Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress, marking the first time the special counsel has prosecuted someone for making false statements to Congress, as opposed to the FBI.
    • "Today's plea deal has certainly shown that anyone who has lied to Congress before about the Russia probe, you don't have to wait for Congress to bring any sort of contempt charge — Mueller will take care of that for them," one Justice Department veteran told INSIDER.
    • The deal also ascribes a potential motive to Trump for his repeated deference to Russia. "The motive is money and business deals," an expert in criminal law said. "This gives Mueller the last piece of the puzzle."
    • The deal adds context to other meetings and financial dealings between campaign associates and Russians during the election.
    • "When you start to see corroboration from two people who didn't intersect, as far as plea deals and the time period, and the same facts, that tells you as a prosecutor that you're starting to finally get to the truth," the Justice Department veteran added.

    Prosecutors in the Russia investigation made one of their most consequential moves on Thursday when they announced that they had struck a plea deal with Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former longtime lawyer.

    According to a criminal information against Cohen filed by the special counsel Robert Mueller's office, Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress about his Russia contacts last year.

    Cohen also pleaded guilty earlier this year to tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign-finance violations as part of a separate investigation by the Manhattan US attorney's office. He has been cooperating with that inquiry and the Mueller probe since August.

    Mueller has already shown a willingness to prosecute witnesses who lie to the FBI, including Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide, and Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign chairman.

    But Cohen's plea deal with Mueller marks the first time the special counsel has prosecuted someone for making false statements to Congress.

    Read more: Michael Cohen reaches a new plea deal with Mueller, and his dozens of hours of testimony could severely damage Trump

    Michael Cohen

    'You don't have to wait for Congress to bring any sort of contempt charge — Mueller will take care of that for them'

    Cohen's false-statements charge centers primarily on claims he made about his involvement in the Trump Organization's push to build a Trump Tower in Moscow at the height of the campaign. Lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committees questioned Cohen extensively on the project last year, and Cohen expanded on it in statements he provided to both panels.

    Prosecutors said Cohen knowingly misled congressional investigators when he said negotiations for the deal ended in January 2016 and that he did not discuss it extensively with Trump Organization executives.

    They wrote that Cohen "discussed the status and progress of the Moscow Project" with Trump "on more than the three occasions Cohen claimed" to the Senate Intelligence Committee and that "he briefed family members" of Trump within the Trump Organization about it.

    Cohen was also discussing it with the Russian-born businessman Felix Sater as late as June 2016, the document says.

    Jeffrey Cramer, a longtime former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the Justice Department, didn't mince words when discussing the implications of the plea deal.

    "There are certainly others at the Trump Organization that knew about this Russian overture," he told INSIDER. "If they knew about it and lied, either to Mueller or to Congress, there's no reason to think they'd be treated differently than Cohen. You don't get a pass because your last name is Trump."

    Read more: Trump falsely accuses Mueller of coercing people to 'flip and lie' and suggests he may pardon Manafort

    If, for instance, Cohen briefed Donald Trump Jr. — a key adviser in the Trump Organization — about the now defunct Trump Tower Moscow project, and if Trump Jr. gave false testimony about it to congressional committees, "he or any other individual is now staring at the same fate Cohen is," Cramer said.

    "It brings home to those in the company who may have lied about the deal that their time could be coming sooner rather than later," he added. "And it could also endanger people who have potentially lied about other things."

    The longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone has been in Mueller's crosshairs for months over his murky links to the radical pro-transparency group WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, as well as the Russia-linked hacker Guccifer 2.0.

    In addition to investigating whether Stone had any advance knowledge of Russia's hack of the Democratic National Committee and WikiLeaks' plans to disseminate stolen emails, Mueller is also looking into whether Stone perjured himself before the House Intelligence Committee last year when discussing his connections to WikiLeaks and Russia.

    Where Cohen and Stone are concerned, "there's no doubt that potentially lying to Congress falls within Mueller's purview, because we're talking about Russian interference in the election," Cramer said.

    "Today's plea deal has certainly shown that anyone who has lied to Congress before about the Russia probe, you don't have to wait for Congress to bring any sort of contempt charge — Mueller will take care of that for them," he added.

    roger stone

    'This gives Mueller the last piece of the puzzle'

    Jens David Ohlin, a former vice dean at Cornell Law School who's an expert in criminal law, cautioned that it was unlikely that the special counsel would put someone on trial for lying to Congress.

    "In this case, though, the charge flows from a plea deal with Cohen," Ohlin told INSIDER. "It's the easiest way of getting it on the record that Trump still had business dealings with Russia during the campaign. Yes, others could be charged with lying to Congress as well, but prosecutors usually rely on a charge of lying to the FBI as a first option."

    Trump does not face significant criminal liability based on the Trump Tower Moscow deal itself, because it isn't illegal for Americans to do business in Russia.

    But Cohen's guilty plea is a confirmation that the president was not being truthful when he denied having any financial interests in Russia during the campaign. It could also help prosecutors shed light on Trump's long history of praising Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and of siding with Russia against US intelligence agencies.

    In other words, the problem for the president arises not from actions, but from motive, Ohlin said.

    "Not Cohen's motive, but Trump's motive for deferring to Russia over and over again," he added. "The motive is money and business deals. This gives Mueller the last piece of the puzzle."

    trump tower

    Mueller may be 'starting to finally get to the truth'

    The Cohen plea deal also adds new context to previously reported meetings and business dealings between Trump associates and Russia-linked individuals.

    Prosecutors said in Cohen's charging document that in addition to traveling to Russia to discuss getting the Russian government's backing for the Trump Tower Moscow deal, Cohen also asked Trump and a "senior campaign official" about the possibility of Trump himself going to Russia for business.

    In May 2016, the filing said, Sater told Cohen he "had a chat with Moscow" and asked whether Trump's trip to Moscow should happen before or after the Republican National Convention in July. Cohen responded that he would head to Russia before the convention, and Trump would go after.

    Over the next few days, Cohen and Sater discussed an invitation to Cohen from a Russian official — believed to be Dmitry Peskov, an aide to Putin — to attend the St. Petersburg Forum in June, at which the official said he would introduce him to Putin or Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

    Sater said the official told him "anything you want to discuss including dates and subjects" were on the table, according to the filing.

    Cohen replied, "Works for me."

    From June 9 to 14, Sater sent Cohen information about the event and travel, but Cohen met with Sater in the lobby of Trump Tower on June 14 and told him he would not go to Russia after all, the document says.

    Around the same time, however, other Trump campaign officials were arranging a separate meeting with two Russian lobbyists offering dirt on Hillary Clinton's campaign. Trump Jr. — along with Paul Manafort, then the campaign chairman, and Jared Kushner, a senior adviser — met the lobbyists at Trump Tower on June 9.

    Trump Jr. initially said the meeting had nothing to do with campaign business, but it later emerged that the meeting was pitched to him as "part of Russia and its government's support" for Trump's candidacy.

    Donald Trump Donald Trump Jr.

    The Atlantic reported late Thursday that federal investigators were probing a letter in which someone who used to be close to Papadopoulos claimed he told them he was pursuing a lucrative Russian business deal on behalf of himself and Trump that would yield "large financial gains" for them.

    The letter, which was sent last week to Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, says Papadopoulos made the disclosure in December 2016, shortly after Trump won the election, according to The Atlantic.

    "Cohen's guilty plea raises questions about a lot of these things that happened during and right after the election that we wouldn't normally have thought would be related," Cramer said.

    A hallmark of most investigations, he said, is that "when you get closer to the end, all these different data points that may have seemed unrelated become connected later on."

    "When you start to see corroboration from two people who didn't intersect, as far as plea deals and the time period, and the same facts," Cramer said, "that tells you as a prosecutor that you're starting to finally get to the truth."

    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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    Thomas Alvin Farr

    • The Senate is planning to vote next week on the nomination of Thomas Farr — a deeply controversial conservative lawyer who civil rights leaders say has "practiced white supremacy" — to a federal district court in North Carolina.
    • The chamber narrowly voted to advance Farr's nomination on Wednesday, but Democrats are hoping that at least two Republicans will oppose him in a final vote. 
    • Democrats are centering their attacks on Farr's "sordid history" of defending voter ID laws, some of which have been struck down as racially discriminatory. 

    The Senate is scheduled to vote next week on the nomination of Thomas Farr — a deeply controversial conservative lawyer who civil rights leaders say has "practiced white supremacy" — to a federal district court in North Carolina. 

    With a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, the chamber advanced Farr's nomination on Wednesday. However, Democrats are hoping at least one Republican will oppose Farr in a final confirmation vote along with Sen. Jeff Flake, the retiring Arizona Republican who has pledged to oppose all of President Donald Trump's judicial nominees until his party allows a vote on legislation that would protect the special counsel's Russia probe. 

    Democrats have their eyes on the Senate's only black Republican, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who has not committed to a final vote in Farr's favor. 

    Flake said on Thursday that he was "uncomfortable" with Farr and wouldn't have voted to confirm him even without his boycott on nominations. 

    The seat on the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina has gone unfilled since 2005 after Democrats first rejected Farr's nomination by former President George W. Bush in 2006 and Republicans did not provide hearings to President Barack Obama's two nominees, both black women. 

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats are pointing to Farr's "sordid history" of defending and implementing voter suppression tactics. 

    Over the last decade, Farr and his law firm colleagues have defended voting restrictions and voter ID laws that courts have struck down as deliberately discriminatory — in one case an appeals court said a North Carolina law Farr defended targeted black voters "with almost surgical precision."

    Read more: After Kavanaugh scandal, Democrats cut a deal to confirm more Trump judicial nominations so they can go home to campaign

    Schumer slammed Farr this week as the "chief cook and bottle washer for the state that probably did more to prevent people, particularly African-Americans from voting, than any other state."

    schumer

    Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams, both black gubernatorial candidates in Florida and Georgia who lost their elections to Trump-supporting Republicans this month, also issued a statement condemning Farr's record. 

    "When it comes to the trifecta of voter disenfranchisement — voter suppression, racial gerrymandering, and restriction of voting rights — Thomas Farr is, sadly, one of the most experienced election lawyers in the country," they wrote in a joint statement on Tuesday.

    The Congressional Black Caucus has voiced strong opposition to Farr since he was first nominated by the president last year. 

    "It is no exaggeration to say that had the White House deliberately sought to identify an attorney in North Carolina with a more hostile record on African-American voting rights and workers' rights than Thomas Farr, it could hardly have done so," the Congressional Black Caucus wrote of Farr in a September 2017 letter opposing his nomination. 

    Farr began his career as counsel to former US Sen. Jesse Helms, a segregationist who represented North Carolina for 30 years. The Justice Department accused Farr of helping to orchestrate the mailing of postcards to 100,000 black voters during Helms' 1990 Senate campaign that wrongly suggested the black citizens were ineligible to vote and warned they could be arrested and prosecuted for fraud if they tried to.

    Farr has denied any involvement in the incident, but civil rights leaders, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, have accused Farr of lying to the Senate about his role. Scott has said he's investigating Farr's role "at every facet of the process."

    Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said on Thursday that Scott has "legitimate concerns that we're trying to resolve" before next week's vote. 

    SEE ALSO: Black civil rights leaders say Trump judicial nominee is 'a product of the modern white supremacist machine'

    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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    WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 29: U.S. President Donald Trump walks toward a group of reporters to answer questions while departing the White House November 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump answered numerous questions regarding his former attorney Michael Cohen's recent court appearance and testimony before departing for the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

    • A handful of senators flipped their votes to support advancement of invoking the War Powers Resolution, which had been the result of an increasingly deteriorating relationship between Congress and Saudi Arabia.
    • The advancement of the resolution passed 63-37, with 14 Republicans joining all the Senate Democrats.
    • Senators are putting together different proposals to respond to the Saudis in a more forceful way than the Trump administration has.

    WASHINGTON — Lawmakers' views of the Saudi Arabian government are at an all-time low, which came into full force on Wednesday when enough senators rebuked the Trump administration's policies by advancing a resolution to end the US involvement in the war in Yemen being spearheaded by the Saudis.

    The move to invoke the War Powers Resolution did not come easy. The Senate failed to move forward on the same resolution last March. But the worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen, coupled with the Saudi's apparent murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi  — which President Donald Trump has largely dismissed — started changing minds on both sides of the aisle.

    Read more:Bernie Sanders slams US support for 'despotic' Saudi Arabia in Yemen and bashes Trump over Khashoggi: 'No more! Enough death. Enough killing.'

    Sen. Bob Corker, who chairs the powerful Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, told reporters on Thursday that the Trump administration's poor handling of everything involved had accelerated matters.

    "I prefer these things to be handled by the administration," he said. "So far that’s been lacking."

    And the unprecedented move to assert such congressional authority is aggravating White House officials. 

    "This is new territory," Corker said. "This hasn’t been done in the past and I want to do everything I can to ensure that this is handled in a dignified manner."

    Sen. Lindsey Graham joined the bipartisan group out of pure anger at the lack of explanations from the administration. While lawmakers received a briefing from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, they wanted more, specifically a rundown from CIA Director Gina Haspel.

    "I changed my mind because I'm pissed," Graham told reporters. "I don't agree with what [Lee, Murphy, and Sanders] are doing. I don’t think the War Powers Act is one, constitutional, two, the aid we provide to Saudi Arabia and Yemen would require an authorization to use military force. Having said that, the way the administration has handled the Saudi Arabia is just not acceptable."

    On Thursday, Graham said he had been informed he would receive a briefing from the CIA at some point next week. 

    How the Democrats who were previously opposed were converted

    Since the failed March vote, the resolution offered by Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders and Chris Murphy, who are joined by Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, has gained steam and attracted previous no votes. The Wednesday vote showed a sea change of 18 Democrats and Republicans flipping their positions.

    One Democratic aide to a senator who flipped their vote described Senate Armed Services ranking member Jack Reed getting on board as "a game changer" that pulled in the Democrats who opposed it last time.

    Other Democrats cited the information they learned inside the briefing as the catalyst for switching their position. In total, 18 senators changed their votes.

    Still, there is work to be done on the issue, as most Republicans would prefer to take another route. Options on the table are still unclear, but senators are working on proposals that could send a stronger message to the Saudis than anything the White House has done.

    Sen. Marco Rubio, who opposed the resolution, reiterated to reporters Thursday they will still need to address Saudi Arabia, but through other means.

    "I certainly don’t think the resolution is the right answer to how to handle this. But it should be handled," he said. "We have to do something about what happened with Khashoggi and about recalibrating our relationship with the Saudis. But the Yemen resolution is the wrong way to do the right thing."

    SEE ALSO: Republicans are scrambling to save some of Trump's biggest campaign promises before Democrats take over Congress

    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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    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.

    sonos alexa gifts

    The desire for speed and convenience seems to be hardwired into human behavior. The less energy we expend to accomplish our tasks, the better — that's why voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa are thriving right now.

    Alexa is primarily known for living inside Amazon devices like the Echo Dot, but it turns out you don't actually have to own an Echo speaker to take advantage of Alexa's capabilities. Many everyday devices like headphones and car dash cams have Alexa built in, allowing you to do things you thought you could only accomplish with an Echo speaker. 

    These gifts are all perfect for anyone who loves the convenience of Alexa and is always tinkering around to create the most seamless smart home setup. 

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    Sonos One

    Sonos One Smart Speaker, $199, available at Amazon

    If your main priority is a good music listening experience, splurge for this smart speaker, which fills your room with clear, rich sound. You can use Alexa to play and control your music without ever lifting a finger, and you can also control the other smart home devices in your home. 

     



    Portal from Facebook

    Portal from Facebook, $199.99, available at Amazon

    Frequent Facebook users should consider Portal, the Alexa-enabled device that keeps them connected to their friends and family. It has a smart camera for video chatting and taking photos that adjusts and widens the camera view automatically as you move in and out of the frame, and a Super Frame feature that displays Facebook photos, videos, and birthday reminders. 

     



    Bose QuietComfort Wireless Headphones

    Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones, $299, available at Amazon

    These headphones cut out surrounding noise so you can focus completely on the music and your task. Ask Alexa to turn down the volume, add to your to-do list, and tell you about tomorrow's weather without skipping a beat. 



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    aztec secret indian healing clay

    There are a few things that the majority of people who know me would be able to recite off-the-cuff that I love. That list would include the Scribd reading app, comfort and convenience in general (twill flannel-like sheets, fluffy robes, and non-spilling wine glasses), and, lastly, face masks.

    For the last few years, face masks have been a pivotal part of 'relaxing' for me. Long day? Throw on a face mask! Horrible commute? Face mask. It became the creature comfort version of Penicillin for every daily ill.

    While I've tried everything from the Allure Best of Beauty 2017 $80 TLC Babyface Facial to whatever was under $6 in the TJ Maxx pile, the changes were always minimal or too fleeting to warrant much shouting from the rooftops or jazz hands in the streets. Sheet masks and hydration masks always moisturized wonderfully, but clay masks remained entertainingly garish and lavish (so, more mentally helpful) rather than actually noticeably improving the clarity, texture, and tone of my skin. 

    That is, until I tried the $11 Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask that has almost 19,000 reviews on Amazon and a 4.4-star rating. Even though I've been obsessed with face masks for years, this is the only one that I would go so far as to claim has actually markedly (and for the long-term) improved my skin. After a few weeks of using it once a week, my temperamental combination skin is smoother, clearer, and a more even overall. 

    The Aztec Clay Mask basically acts like a vacuum for your pores in the 5-20 minutes it's on. The 100% natural calcium bentonite clay draws out all the impurities deep in your skin for what has been called 'the world's most powerful facial'. I can't say it's "the world's most" anything, but it is the first thing I have ever used that wasn't prescribed by a dermatologist and actually works. In fact, it's the first topical treatment I've ever used (prescribed or not) that has actually worked. 

    Like all of my best purchases, I found it through a recommendation. A couple weeks ago, I asked the Business Insider staff to send me the best things they had ever bought on Amazon for under $25 and I bought this mask after seeing a colleague mention it as her "most recommended product." Apparently, it had been hiding in plain sight. Once I had heard of it, I couldn't stop seeing it everywhere: in articles, videos, Youtube testimonials with over 1 million views, and even the Sephora beauty blog, which is typically filled with luxe options from of-the-moment brands. But, all in all, the Aztec Clay Mask is worth the eerie, cult-favorite hype. 

    59ea0f5e2f2d9234008b4767 750 563 1

    Now, instead of putting on any face mask to have a fun night drinking wine with girlfriends, I apply this religiously once a week to sit with my facial muscles rendered immobile for about 10-20 minutes. In other words, it's the first mask I've used for the purpose of what it does to my skin, rather than how it makes me feel. I actually had a moment of paranoia where I considered buying another tub (which is giant even for $9) in advance in case the sellers catch onto the craze and raise prices.

    However, you should be careful to only use the Aztec Clay Mask for the recommended 5-10 minutes if you have delicate skin, and be prepared to feel the mask become scaly and tight on your face. I actually have to drink out of a straw when this stuff is on. It's powerful, so you'll see some redness after you take it off, but that has always dissipated within 10-15 minutes or so for me, despite having the sort of sensitive, pale skin that makes yoga teachers worried they aren't giving the class enough water breaks. 

    Thanks to its massive popularity, you can grab it from basically any retailer, but it's a few dollars cheaper on the organic food site Thrive Market ($6.59 versus $9+ elsewhere as of now — though you'll need a membership to access it).

    All in all, I can say from experience that this cheap wunderkind clay mask is absolutely worth a try if you'd like to see clearer and smoother skin immediately. Skincare is a touchy thing, and even with nearly 19,000 reviews you can't know for sure that it will work for you, but it is so far the only thing that has ever really made a difference in the clarity and appearance of my skin — and it seems I'm not alone in feeling that way. 

    *Update: After many suggestions from Amazon reviews and a reader writing in, I tried the Aztec Mask mixed with Apple Cider Vinegar. It worked markedly better than before even. You may find the smell unpleasant, but it is worth it for the soft skin, even texture, and improved tone — and absolutely at $9.

    Buy the Aztec Secret Clay Mask on Amazon, $10.95 

    Buy the Aztec Secret Clay Mask on Thrive Market, $6.59 

    Buy Apple Cider Vinegar on Amazon, $9.59

    SEE ALSO: 30 beauty gifts from Nordstrom that come with free shipping

    DON'T MISS: I'm using this unexpected pantry item to wash my face — and my skin has never looked better

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    median age state map

    • The typical age of a state's population varies across the US.
    • Using recently released Census data, we looked at the median age in each state and DC.
    • States in the western half of the country tend to have lower median ages than the eastern half.

    Some US states have older populations than others.

    The US Census Bureau recently released statistics from the 2017 American Community Survey, an annual program that asks millions of Americans each year about several social, economic, and demographic attributes. The Bureau publishes figures for each of the 50 states and Washington DC.

    One of the questions on the survey asks for the ages of everyone living in a household. Using those answers, the Bureau publishes estimates of the median age for each state, or the age for which half of a state's population is older and half is younger than that age.

    Read more: All 50 states and Washington DC, ranked from least to most average

    States in the western half of the country tend to have lower median ages than the eastern half. Utah, with a median age of 31.0 years, had the youngest population in the country, followed by DC with a median age of 34.0 years and Alaska with a median age of 34.5 years.

    The three states with the oldest populations are all in New England. Maine had a median age of 44.6 years, followed by New Hampshire at 43.2 years, and Vermont at 42.6 years.

    SEE ALSO: Here's how much more the typical baby boomer makes than the typical millennial in every US state

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's how the map of the United States has changed in 200 years


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    elephant orphanage nairobi

    • I recently took a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, where I visited the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
    • The project started in 1977 as a way to rescue orphaned elephants and rhinos.
    • More than 200 elephants have been rescued and reintroduced into the wild.


    The clapping started immediately.

    Behind a roped-off mud pit, over 100 tourists and I watched as a small parade of baby elephants walked single-file from the thick bush, down a dirt road, and up to the handlers awaiting them. They were soon rewarded for their brave entrance with oversized milk bottles and reassuring pats on the head.

    I was at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, in Nairobi, Kenya. There was little structure to my visit: Stand behind a rope for two hours as about a dozen 200-lb. toddlers frolicked in the mud, guzzled milk, and carried branches from one spot to another.

    In these tumultuous times, I felt lucky to experience such innocence firsthand. Here's what I saw.

    SEE ALSO: I spent 34 hours flying coach on Ethiopian Airlines, the best airline in Africa — here's what it was like

    It's a long, suspense-filled walk from the parking lot to the entrance of the elephant pen. I could sense everyone's excitement as we struggled to walk in an orderly fashion.



    We walked past the emergency vehicles garage, past the gift shop, down through a narrow canopy — until finally the scene unfolded before us.



    I was one of the first people to nab a spot behind the rope. The people beside me clutched iPhones, GoPros on extended handles, and long-lens cameras.



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    Mario Badescu

    Holiday gifting can add up. Between your family, friends, partners, friends' partners, co-workers, dog walker, and the barista who knows your coffee order, your credit card statement can take a  major hit — especially if you're tempted to splurge on everyone.

    But there are actually tons of beauty and skincare gifts that won't give you sticker shock at the end of the month.

    Here are 30 beauty gifts that fit your beer budget and their Champagne tastes.

    Still shopping for more gifts? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.


    SEE ALSO: 30 beauty gifts from Nordstrom that come with free shipping

    DON'T MISS: 55 creative and unexpected gifts for her that are all under $50

    Dry shampoo so you can snooze for another five minutes

    Living Proof PhD Dry Shampoo Holiday Set, $23, available at Ulta

    This dry shampoo absorbs and removes oil, sweat, and odor so they can sleep in for a few more minutes instead of washing their second-day hair.



    A magical eyeshadow palette

    Sephora Collection Enchanted Sky Eyeshadow Palette, $10, available at Sephora

    The real magic is how many looks they can create with this eyeshadow palette.



    A beauty emergency kit

    Trim Nail Mani Emergency Grooming Kit, $4.99, available at Target

    Chipped nails and ragged cuticles are no match for this mini emergency kit.



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    43817670_329329744493508_5555364449992472184_n

    This year, celebrations erupted all over the world as Mickey and Minnie Mouse turned 90. Collaborations have been popping up left and right, with everyone from luxury watch brands to streetwear sneaker companies dropping Mickey- and Minnie-inspired styles for adults. 

    This has been great and very expensive news for classic Disney fans like myself. I grew up near Disney World, so my love of Mickey runs deep — and after putting together this list, my pockets run shallow. 

    If you're looking to gift a grownup who loves all things classic Disney but isn't interested in looking like they're 10 years old, you've definitely come to the right place. I handpicked some of the best Mickey- and Minnie-themed gifts out there for adults, plus a few old-school Disney options I just couldn't leave behind.

    Who else but a huge Disney fan could do justice to a roundup like this? 

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    DON'T MISS: 25 creative and unexpected gifts for 'Star Wars' fans of all ages

    A Mickey Mouse watch they'll actually want to look at to tell the time

    Nixon Mickey Watch, available at Nordstrom, $175

    Nixon's unisex Mickey watch is the perfect everyday accessory for a Disney fan — and not just one they'll want to wear once on a trip to the park.

    If you're willing to spend more, Shinola also makes a great Mickey watch for a cool $850.



    A bold graphic Mickey half-zip

    Mickey Mouse Half-Zip, available at Frank And Oak, $99.50

    Half-zips have quickly become the silhouette of the season, but you don't have to go to Patagonia to get in on the trend. Frank And Oak makes a bold graphic Mickey half-zip sweater that instantly catches the eye with its all-over patterning and bright mango color.



    A pair of fun graphic sneakers

    Vans Mickey Authentic Sneakers, available at Zappos, $64.95

    Vans put out a collection of sneakers and shirts featuring iconic images of Mickey and Minnie through the years —including some wackier '80s-inspired styles— but this simple pair seems to be the real crowd pleaser.



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    Keurig K Mini Coffee Maker, $79.99

    Going to a different store for every item on your holiday shopping list can be a huge headache, so it's important to start with stores that have a wide selection of gifts.

    Target is a one-stop-shop year-round, so it's a super convenient destination during this time of year. On top of that, the retailer is offering free two-day shipping on almost everything. 

    To help you shop, we rounded up 45 awesome gifts to buy at Target. With everything from bikes and toys to tech to smart home gadgets, and even kitchen appliances and beauty products, you'll be sure to find something for everyone on your list, regardless of your budget.

    Shop at Target now, or keep reading for our top picks.

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    DON'T MISS: 25 creative and unexpected gifts for 'Star Wars' fans of all ages

    An instant film camera

    Fujifilm Instax Mini 9, $59.99 (originally $69.99) [You save $10]

    The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is a modern take on an old-school way to capture life's moments instantly. Instead of using Instagram, this pocket-sized film camera will print your photos on demand as a fun alternative.

     



    An electronic ice cream maker

    Cuisinart Electronic Ice Cream Maker, $119.99

    Since ice cream makers aren't a kitchen essential, there's a good chance the foodie or chef on your shopping list doesn't own one yet. The Cuisinart Electronic Ice Cream Maker can be used to make up to two quarts of frozen yogurt, ice cream, gelato, and sorbet in minutes.



    A Super NES Classic Edition for throwback Nintendo gaming

    Nintendo Super NES Classic Edition, $79.99

    Loaded with 21 classic Super NES games, this console will bring a nostalgic feeling to Nintendo gamer from the '80s and '90s.



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    President Donald Trump with South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott.

    • Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, announced he will become the deciding vote in opposing President Donald Trump's controversial judicial nominee Thomas Farr. 
    • The sole black member of the Republican Senate caucus, Scott based his opposition to Farr on accusations that the lawyer helped orchestrate an effort to disenfranchise black voters while working for segregationist GOP Sen. Jesse Helms' 1984 and 1990 Senate campaigns. 
    • Scott cited a 1991 Department of Justice memo leaked this week that detailed Farr's involvement in the voter suppression efforts. 

    Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican and the sole black member of the Republican Senate caucus, announced he will oppose judicial nominee Thomas Farr, assuring that the controversial conservative lawyer will not get a seat on the federal bench. 

    Scott became the deciding vote in the confirmation process of a man who's been accused of championing racially discriminatory efforts to disenfranchise voters after Sen. Jeff Flake, the retiring Arizona Republican, pledged not to confirm Farr. 

    The South Carolina lawmaker based his opposition to the nominee on evidence that Farr helped orchestrate the mailing of postcards to 100,000 black voters during Sen. Jesse Helms' 1990 campaign that wrongly suggested the recipients were ineligible to vote and warned they could be arrested and prosecuted for fraud if they tried to.

    "I am ready and willing to support strong candidates for our judicial vacancies that do not have lingering concerns about issues that could affect their decision-making process as a federal judge," Scott said in a statement provided to The State.

    Scott cited a Department of Justice memo written under President George H. W. Bush that was leaked this week and that found Farr was the "primary coordinator" of "ballot security" activities, including the mailing of postcards challenging voters' legitimacy, during Helms' 1984 campaign. Farr has said that he was unaware of the postcard effort in 1990. 

    Read more: Black civil rights leaders say Trump judicial nominee is 'a product of the modern white supremacist machine'

    The seat on the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina has gone unfilled since 2005 after Democrats first rejected Farr's nomination by former President George W. Bush in 2006 and Republicans did not provide hearings to President Barack Obama's two nominees, both black women.

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats have pointed to Farr's "sordid history" of defending and implementing voter suppression tactics.

    Over the last decade, Farr and his law firm colleagues have defended voting restrictions and voter ID laws that courts have struck down as deliberately discriminatory — in one case an appeals court said a North Carolina law Farr defended targeted black voters "with almost surgical precision."

    Schumer slammed Farr this week as the "chief cook and bottle washer for the state that probably did more to prevent people, particularly African-Americans from voting, than any other state."

    The Congressional Black Caucus have voiced strong opposition to Farr since he was first nominated by the president last year, and civil rights groups have accused the lawyer of being "a product of the modern white supremacist machine."

    "It is no exaggeration to say that had the White House deliberately sought to identify an attorney in North Carolina with a more hostile record on African-American voting rights and workers' rights than Thomas Farr, it could hardly have done so," the Congressional Black Caucus wrote of Farr in a September 2017 letter opposing his nomination.

    SEE ALSO: Democrats are desperately trying to block a Trump judicial nominee who civil rights leaders say has 'practiced white supremacy'

    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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    outdoor christmas lights

    According to the many people I've inadvertently polled in grocery store lines, parking lots, and anywhere small talk is expected, November is too early to put up holiday decorations. Even if your Santa is self-aware enough to be dressed in a pair of board shorts in the mild fall weather, it's still frowned upon. The common sentiment is "let Thanksgiving have its moment."

    But people change their tune once Thanksgiving has passed and we're all back at work and the skies are turning darker ever earlier. Bright lights, festive displays, and candy cane walkways become the highlight of our month — kids pile into the family car to visit that one house that can be seen from space and commuters to drive a little slower on the way home. For the family that leaves no stone unturned by LED lights; Your time has come.

    If you're looking to get into the holiday spirit and want to share some of that cheer with passersby, check out some of the outdoor decorations below to take the homework out of a fun tradition. 

    Below are 16 great outdoor decorations to get you — and, by extension, your neighborhood — into the holiday spirit:

    Falling meteor shower or icicle lights

    BlueFire Meteor Shower/Icicle Lights, available on Amazon, $30.99 

    These falling waterproof lights have super bright LED chips and 360-degree shining angles so they appear brighter. Use them to decorate for weddings, parties, and the holidays. 



    Big outdoor LED snowflakes

    Kringle Traditions  36-Inch LED Folding Twinkle Snowflakes, available at Amazon, $59.99

    These big hanging snowflakes have 105 cool white LED lights and durable polyproylene frames. They snap open for display and fold flat for easy storage.



    A giant cheery Santa Claus holding a gift box

    84-Inch Fuzzy Tinsel Santa with Gift Box, available at The Home Depot, $199

    This 84-inch Santa Claus is illuminated by 400 clear LED lights and has a sturdy metal frame and weather-resistant fabric. You can also get it delivered for free. 



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    Vladimir Putin

    • The Trump Organization reportedly planned to give Russian President Vladimir Putin the $50 million penthouse in the now defunct Trump Tower Moscow.
    • Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former longtime lawyer who oversaw the project, reportedly discussed the idea with a spokesperson for Dmitry Peskov, Putin's press secretary.
    • Cohen was in touch with Peskov's office in early 2016 to discuss getting Russia's approval for the deal. After Cohen gave Peskov's spokesperson details about the project and asked for help in pushing it forward, she said she would forward his request to others in Russia.
    • Felix Sater, the Russian-born businessman who worked with Cohen on the deal, confirmed the Trump Organization's plan to give Putin the penthouse.
    • "My idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units," he said. "All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin."

    When it was pushing to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, the Trump Organization reportedly wanted to give Russian President Vladimir Putin the penthouse in the building.

    According to BuzzFeed News, two law-enforcement officials said Michael Cohen, who was President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer at the time, discussed the idea with a spokesperson for Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary.

    Cohen pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of lying to Congress about his involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow project.

    Cohen talked about the deal in a statement to the committee in September 2017 and expanded on it when he appeared before the panel the next month.

    Many of the questions focused on Cohen's email exchanges about the deal with the Russian-born businessman Felix Sater, as well as whether Russia had any involvement in the Trump Organization's push to build the tower during the election.

    Read more: Michael Cohen's latest plea deal shows Mueller's 'starting to finally get to the truth' behind Trump and Russia

    In a criminal information unsealed on Thursday, prosecutors wrote that Cohen knowingly misled investigators by giving a false timeline of when the project ended and how extensively he discussed it with others in the Trump Organization, including Donald Trump and his family members.

    Prosecutors wrote that Cohen gave "the false impression that the Moscow Project ended before" the Iowa caucus, which took place on February 1, 2016, "in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations."

    In fact, Cohen was in touch with Sater about the deal until as late as June 2016.

    Cohen first got in touch with Peskov in January 2016, when he asked him for the Russian government’s help in pushing the deal through. Around January 20, Cohen got a response from a personal assistant to Peskov who said she had been trying to reach him and requested that he contact her using a Moscow phone number.

    Shortly after, Cohen called the assistant and spoke to her for 20 minutes, the information says. After Cohen gave her details about the project and asked for help in pushing it forward, she said she would forward his request to others in Russia.

    The next day, prosecutors said, Sater wrote to Cohen and asked to speak with him on the phone. "It's about [Putin] they called today," Sater said.

    sater trump

    On Thursday, Sater told BuzzFeed he and Cohen thought giving Putin the penthouse would prompt other wealthy Russian buyers to scoop up apartments in the building.

    "In Russia, the oligarchs would bend over backwards to live in the same building as Vladimir Putin," Sater said. "My idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units. All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin."

    The scrapped Trump Tower Moscow project is at the center of the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. As part of the inquiry, Mueller is examining whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to sway the race in Trump's favor.

    News that the Trump Organization sought to establish direct financial ties to Putin at the height of the election will likely interest prosecutors who are, among other things, said to be looking into the motivation behind Trump's repeated deference to Russia and his willingness to trust Putin's word over that of his own intelligence agencies.

    A source close to Trump's legal team confirmed to INSIDER on Thursday that he answered questions from Mueller related to the deal. And although Trump's lawyers branded Cohen a "liar" and said "we can't trust him," they said that Trump's version of events related to the project lined up with Cohen's.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Fox News' Harris Faulkner is the only black woman in cable news with a daily show: 'It's a tremendous amount of responsibility'


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    Robert Mueller

    • After Michael Cohen struck a new plea deal with the special counsel Robert Mueller, President Donald Trump and his lawyers slammed his former fixer as a "liar" and said "we can't trust him."
    • At the same time, they said Trump's version of events about a defunct effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the election lines up with what Cohen told prosecutors.
    • A source close to Trump's legal team told INSIDER the president's lawyers were furious that Mueller waited to announce Cohen's plea deal until after he had secured Trump's written answers to questions about collusion.
    • The source said Trump's lawyers believe the timing of the event indicates Mueller is trying to trap Trump into perjuring himself, by getting his answers first and then presenting him with evidence that contradicts what he said.

    President Donald Trump and his lawyers can't seem to get their story straight on whether his former lawyer and longtime fixer, Michael Cohen, is a liar.

    On the one hand, they have repeatedly said Cohen cannot be trusted to tell the truth. On the other, they said Trump's story lines up with Cohen's as it relates to the Trump Organization's effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow at the height of the 2016 election.

    On Thursday, Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress about his involvement in the project.

    Read more:Michael Cohen's latest plea deal shows Mueller's 'starting to finally get to the truth' behind Trump and Russia

    Prosecutors said Cohen knowingly misled congressional investigators when he said negotiations for the deal ended in January 2016 and that he did not discuss it extensively with Trump Organization executives, including Trump and his family members.

    Trump unleashed a tirade against Cohen after his plea deal was announced, saying, "So very simply, Michael Cohen is lying."

    Trump's lead defense lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, struck a similar tone.

    "He has so many different versions of the same stories, so by definition he is a liar and we can't trust him," Giuliani said of Cohen. "He has lied, so how can we believe him?"

    But at the same time, Giuliani told The New York Times that Trump's story is the same as Cohen's when it comes to the Trump Tower Moscow deal.

    The president knew about the deal and discussed it with Cohen before it fell apart, Trump's lawyers told The Times. "The president said there was a proposal, it was discussed with Cohen, there was a nonbinding letter of intent, and it didn't go beyond that," Giuliani said.

    Prosecutors are said to have asked Trump about the defunct project in a series of questions that Mueller's office sent over to the president. Trump's lawyers sent back Trump's written answers to the questions last week.

    A source close to Trump's legal team told INSIDER the president's lawyers were furious that Mueller waited to announce Cohen's plea deal until after he had secured Trump's written answers.

    The source said Trump's lawyers believe the timing of the event indicates Mueller is trying to trap Trump into perjuring himself, by getting his answers first and then presenting him with evidence that contradicts what he said.

    WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 29: U.S. President Donald Trump walks toward a group of reporters to answer questions while departing the White House November 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump answered numerous questions regarding his former attorney Michael Cohen's recent court appearance and testimony before departing for the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

    Jeffrey Cramer, a former longtime federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the Department of Justice, weighed in on that argument.

    "It's only a perjury trap if you lie," Cramer told INSIDER. "If you tell the truth, there's no question of a perjury trap. It's telling that everyone in Trump's orbit just seems to automatically assume he's going to lie if given the opportunity."

    Prosecutors said in Cohen's charging document that he "discussed the status and progress of the Moscow Project" with Trump "on more than the three occasions Cohen claimed" to the Senate Intelligence Committee and that "he briefed family members" of Trump within the Trump Organization about it.

    He was also discussing it with the Russian-born businessman Felix Sater as late as June 2016.

    Trump does not face significant criminal liability based on the Trump Tower Moscow deal itself, because it isn't illegal for Americans to do business in Russia.

    But Cohen's guilty plea is a confirmation that the president was not being truthful when he denied having any financial interests in Russia during the campaign. Later Thursday, BuzzFeed News dropped a bombshell report that said the Trump Organization wanted to give Russian President Vladimir Putin the $50 million penthouse in Trump Tower Moscow.

    The development will likely be of keen interest to prosecutors as they examine Trump's long history of praising Russia and Putin and of siding with Russia against US intelligence agencies.

    In other words, the problem for the president arises not from actions but from motive, said Jens David Ohlin, a vice dean at Cornell Law School who is an expert on criminal law.

    "Not Cohen's motive, but Trump's motive for deferring to Russia over and over again," Ohlin told INSIDER. "The motive is money and business deals. This gives Mueller the last piece of the puzzle."

    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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    champagne

    • The Eurostar is the high-speed train that links London to European cities including Paris and Amsterdam.
    • On a recent weekend trip to Paris, I checked out Eurostar's newly revamped lounge for Business Premier passengers at London's St. Pancras International.
    • It was pretty luxurious — and even had a free cocktail bar with its own brand of gin.

    The Eurostar, the high-speed train that links London to European cities such as Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Marseille, France, is arguably one of the best ways to travel — especially in business class.

    Passengers traveling in this cabin, called Business Premier, are treated to express check-in and complimentary drinks and fine dining on board and given access to a lounge that was recently given a shiny new cocktail bar.

    Read more: I drank at the best bar in the world, and I was surprised by one thing

    Before a recent weekend trip to Paris, I checked out the new business lounge at London's St. Pancras International.

    Here's what it's like inside.

    SEE ALSO: I've lived in London for 5 years — here are the 50 places where you should actually eat

    The Eurostar, the high-speed train that links London to European cities including Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Marseille, is arguably one of the best ways to travel — especially in business class, where the experience starts before you even get on board.



    After getting through security and passport control, Business Premier passengers can turn right for the brick-exterior entrance to the two-floor business lounge.



    The first floor is sleek and stylish, with glass, exposed brick, and blues and grays.



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    Yale Law School Facebook

    • Life at an Ivy League school isn't as glamourous as Hollywood would have you think. 
    • While it's true Mark Zuckerberg graduated from Harvard, the dorm room from which he started Facebook was no more luxurious than a dorm room at any other top school. 
    • When it comes down to it, eating, sleeping, studying, and working out at an Ivy looks a lot like it would at any other university. 

    It's no wonder people put Ivy League schools on such a pedestal. Between all the movies and television shows featuring Harvard and Yale — remember Rory Gilmore's inner struggle when it came to choosing between the two? — and the clout of having a degree from one of the elite eight northeastern universities, who wouldn't think everything about the schools is a dream?

    While the academics at these schools is unquestionably prestigious — and they have educated some of the country's most well-known minds — it doesn't mean life on the campuses is as well. 

    Dorm rooms are small and dining hall food is exactly that. The campuses are beautiful, but there are a vast amount of non-Ivy campuses that are as well. While the Ivy League was originally formed to create a sport conference, and its teams often make it into tournaments, there are plenty of teams at schools all across the country that are constantly beating them out for titles. 

    Take a look at these photos proving life at an Ivy is no different from life at any other top university in the country. 

    SEE ALSO: What it's really like to be a student at Harvard

    DON'T MISS: The oldest college in every US state

    Growing up, it's easy to think of Ivy League colleges as the pinnacle of higher education in every way.



    Whether you watched "Gilmore Girls" ...



    ... "Legally Blonde" ...



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    Liron

    • Relationship Hero is an on-demand coaching service that provides customers with dating and relationship advice.
    • Users can call, text, or chat one of the company's 70-full time coaches at any time of day.
    • On Friday, the company announced it raised a $2 million seed round led by Foundation Capital, Village Global, and Shrug Capital.

    When Liron Shapira was in his 20s, he relied on dating advice from one of his best friends. He really needed help with online dating.

    "I would be looking at the blank wall, thinking like, 'I have nothing to say. How could I possibly say anything interesting?'" Shapira remembers.

    His friend would explain to him "there's actually a way to have a natural, funny conversation inside online dating." 

    Shapira and his friend, Lior Gotesman, realized there were probably plenty of people out there who needed similar help — whether it was getting over the anxieties of dating or working through issues in existing relationships. 

    The entrepreneurs launched Relationship Hero two years ago to do just that — provide on-demand coaching for anyone looking for dating or relationship advice. The Y Combinator-backed startup now has 70 full-time relationship coaches on staff and on Friday, announced it raised a $2 million seed round led by Foundation Capital, Village Global, and Shrug Capital. 

    "We're one of those companies that is finding a market that was hiding in plain sight," Shapira told Business Insider in a recent interview. "We're all going to our friends for relationship advice, but where is the equivalent company for that?" 

    Don't call it therapy

    So what does a relationship coach actually do?

    The coaches help customers with a mix of dating and relationship advice — from sending an opening one-liner on Tinder to composing a heartfelt email to an ex. Customers range from 18 to 70-years-old and its demographic is split almost exactly even between females and males, according to Shapira.

    Users can call, text, or chat a Relationship Hero coach at any time of the day and expect an immediate response. Fees for coaching vary, but the average rate is around $90 per hour. 

    Coaches all must go through the same intensive training program, but not all have a background in psychology. One coach, for example, was a former accountant.

    There's been some pushback by professional therapists who say people should be going to them for relationship advice, Shapira acknowledges. But he doesn't think traditional therapy is the answer. 

    "If you go to a therapist, they're going to have you focus on yourself — focus internally on your emotions, your own mental state," he says. "And the problem is that relationships are actually very external. It's all about getting the results you want with your partner and with the outside world. And it's a totally different skillset." 

    Working at Relationship Hero 

    There are 75 employees at Relationship Hero, and 70 of them are coaches. 

    "We're basically a team of coaches, with a little bit of overhead," Shapira explains. He says with the company's 20% month-over-month growth, it's continually adding new coaches to its team. 

    Interestingly, these coaches are full-time employees of Relationship Hero, rather than contractors. 

    "It's not a marketplace. We're helping invent and ensure the quality of the coaching so we have to own that," Shapira says. "The people who work for us, they're really not independent contractors. We're really strict how they go about the coaching." 

    When it comes to where and when employees work however, Relationship Hero is very flexible.  The company is entirely remote. Coaches live across the US and have flexible schedules which helps the company provide customers with coverage throughout the day. 

    "It's really hard for people to find quality jobs in middle-America and places where the local economy isn't doing that great. We're offering people a job that's full time, guaranteed, with a steady stream of clients," Shapira tells us. "They also love the work because they get to help people. They can see that they're putting families back together." 

    As for Shapira, he'll be putting the remote work model to the test next month when he leaves Silicon Valley and moves to upstate New York with his wife. 

    Shapira met his wife on Tinder three years ago, and thanks to the coaching of his friend and Relationship Hero co-founder, he was able to land a date. 

    "I met my wife on Tinder all thanks to Lior's help!" Shapira explained. "Afterwards she told me she always flakes on guys, but somehow I convinced her to go on a date. It was a high stakes situation and the coaching was life changing." 

    SEE ALSO: 'We have screwed up': Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says in an all-hands meeting that the company deserves some fault after its self-driving car killed a pedestria

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    iron fist

    As the year flies by, the list of canceled TV shows piles up.

    While there's been somewhat of a quiet period since May, some networks have cut shows throughout the summer and fall.

    Comedy Central recently canceled "Another Period" after three two seasons. 

    Other recent cancelations come from Netflix. Netflix recently canceled "Iron Fist" after two seasons, and announced that "Orange is the New Black" will end with its upcoming seventh season. Netflix also canceled the excellent satire series "American Vandal" after two seasons. 

    ABC canceled the previously renewed "Roseanne" revival in late May, after Roseanne Barr posted a racist tweet about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. However, ABC debuted a spin-off called "The Conners" without Barr.

    In other notable cancellations, USA's critically acclaimed "Mr. Robot" will end with its upcoming fourth season, and CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" is ending after 12 seasons. 

    We'll update this list as more are announced.

    Here are all the shows that have been canceled this year, including those from networks and Netflix:

    SEE ALSO: The worst TV show of every year since 2000, according to critics

    Amazon



    "Jean-Claude Van Johnson" — Amazon, one season



    "I Love Dick" — Amazon, one season



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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