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The latest news from Life

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    angry phone

    In November alone, Americans received an estimated 5.1 billion scam calls from automated machines — more than any month on record, according to YouMail's robocall index.

    That number was about 2.9 billion in the beginning of 2018, and the spike didn't come out of nowhere.  Consumer advocates worry the number will only continue to increase, now that the FCC has removed an Obama-era definition of auto-dialers that the agency thought was too broad.

    Federal agencies are taking action, holding robocallers accountable and searching for new ways to regulate as robocallers continue to become more sophisticated with their tactics. FCC chairman Ajit Pai sent a letter in November to more than a dozen phone providers demanding they adopt "a robust call authentication system to combat illegal caller ID spoofing." Pai warned that the FCC "will take action" if it doesn't see any progress in creating such a system by 2019.

    "Combatting illegal robocalls is our top consumer priority at the FCC," Pai said in a statement last month. "By this time next year, I expect that consumers will begin to see this on their phones."

    Policies are in the works to address "neighborhood spoofing," which is the extremely effective tactic used by robocallers to make calls look like they're coming from recipients' own area code so they're more willing to answer. So far, no policy has been successful in preventing those. 

    Even when consumers don't fall for the scam and share personal information, being inundated with robocalls can be a liability: there's no way to know whether the unknown number dialing you is a time-wasting scam, or a real-life emergency. So while lawmakers and regulators work to figure out the best way to subside the number of outgoing scam calls, agencies and companies have come up with solutions to block the ones that get through. 

    It's nearly impossible to be 100% robocall-free, but here are some tactics you can adopt to limit your number of robocalls:

    Add your name to the FTC's "Do not call" registry, and report the calls you get anyway.

    Registration for the service began in 2003 and sign-ups don't expire, yet the FTC reported receiving 4. 5 million complaints in 2017, at "an average of more than 375,000 robocall complaints per month," compared to 2013's 2.18 million.

    It it isn't completely effective, but the people who signed up probably get fewer calls than they would have if they hadn't. 

    Use your phone's Do Not Disturb mode so that you only get calls from people in your contact list.

    This way you don't have to see the calls come through or have to ignore them. Keep in mind this strategy won't work for any professional hoping to hear from new clients or those who receive regular calls from unknown numbers are part of their job, but it's a great option if you have a separate, non-work phone.


    If you don't want to block all new numbers, block them as they come by going into the callers' contact information in your phone.

    This is especially helpful if there are a few numbers you get calls from frequently. If you choose the route of answering unknown numbers instead of waiting for a voicemail, keep a couple of things in mind: 

    Don't engage by speaking OR by pressing a number even to be taken off a list, according to the FTC: "Doing so will probably lead to more unwanted calls. Instead, hang up and file a complaint with the FTC." 

    Train yourself to answer questions by repeating them instead of saying "yes," because that can be used as a vocal signature to make unauthorized credit card charges. For example, the answer to "Can you hear me?" should be "I can hear you," instead of "Yes."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    jule pond

    • A massive $175 million estate is the most expensive home for sale in the Hamptons.
    • The 42-acre property, which includes 1,350 feet of beachfront, was originally built for Henry Ford.
    • In addition to the 20,000 square foot main house, the property includes a guesthouse, a 20-foot pool, a greenhouse, tennis courts and basketball courts, a hot tub, and a garage with room for at least six cars.
    • It's been on the market for over a year.

    The most expensive home for sale in the Hamptons is a massive $175 million estate — and it's been on the market for over a year with no price change.

    Once part of a larger property called "Fordune," the 42-acre estate has hit the market for $175 million. It was originally built for Henry Ford but has reportedly been owned by portfolio manager Brenda Earl since 2002.

    Cody and Zach Vichinsky of Bespoke Real Estate have the listing, which is now referring to the home as "Jule Pond."

    If it sells at its current price, Jule Pond would be the most expensive home to ever change hands in the US. The current record is held by hedge funder Barry Rosenstein, who bought an East Hampton property for $147 million in 2014. 

    The main house has 20,000 square feet of space, 12 bedrooms, and 12 bathrooms. The property also has tennis and basketball courts as well as a greenhouse and about 1,286 linear feet of oceanfront.

    Take a look inside.

    SEE ALSO: This $245 million Los Angeles mansion is the most expensive home for sale in the US — and it costs 960 times more than a typical US home

    DON'T MISS: The most expensive house for sale in New Jersey is a sprawling $29.5 million estate with a private English-style pub, and it's only 25 miles from NYC

    The Jule Pond estate is set on 42 acres in Southampton.

    Source: Bespoke Real Estate

    With a $175 million price tag, it's the most expensive home for sale in the Hamptons, a community known for its multimillion dollar homes.

    Source: Bespoke Real Estate, Zillow

    The home includes a stretch of beach that spans nearly a quarter mile, the largest ocean frontage in the Hamptons, according to Bespoke Real Estate.

    Source: Bespoke Real Estate

    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.


    Christmas is just a few days away and the window for buying gifts online is quickly closing.

    Fortunately, luxury watch site Jomashop is having a huge sale with up to 75% off top timepiece brands ,and they're offering super fast and free shipping. Orders placed by Saturday, December 22 at 8 p.m. EST will arrive before Christmas. Simply use the promo code "CHRISTMAS" at checkout to take advantage of the offer.

    There's definitely a watch for anyone you might be shopping for — even yourself. No matter how big or small your budget is, it won't be hard to find something you or they will like.

    Shop all watches in the Jomashop Pre-Christmas sale now or check out some of our favorites below.

    If you're considering dropping money on a luxury watch, as with any other major purchase, be sure to compare prices and do some research first. While all of the watches are guaranteed to be 100% authentic, they do not come with a manufacturer's warranty. If you have any concerns at all,you can view Jomashop's full warranty policy here.

    Men's Tissot Tradition Black Dial

    Tissot Tradition Black Dial, $159.99 (Originally $375) [You save $215.01]

    Men's Movado SE Pilot Chronograph

    Movado SE Pilot Chronograph, $495 (Originally $1,695) [You save $1,200]

    Men's Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Automatic

    Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Automatic, $4,345 (Originally $6,550) [You save $2,205]

    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.

    woman laptop online banking

    • These days, it's easier than ever to handle all your banking needs without ever visiting a branch.
    • With the ability to deposit checks by taking a photo with your phone, and to use virtually any ATM, being near a physical branch is no longer a requirement when choosing a bank.
    • Here's what you need to know about online-only banking — and why it might be right for you.

    As one of the cool kids at school, I started a coin collection in fifth grade. I remember going on trips to the bank with my mom for rolls of coins to sort through, looking at dates and years to fill in the slots in my blue coin-collecting albums. That, alongside my parents owning a business, sent me on many trips to local banks. But over time, my number of visits to the bank have dropped to zero.

    These days, I stick with an online-only bank as my primary bank. I don't have a single branch available. While it seemed strange at first, it was easy to grow accustomed to.

    Let's look at the pros and cons to help you better understand if you could survive with online-only banking.

    Online account offers from our partners:

    How online-only banking works

    With online-only banking, you are the teller and new accounts representative for yourself. Instead of going into a bank branch, you handle your own banking transactions from your computer or smartphone — like you could with many traditional banks, too.

    Online banking uses secured connections, so as long as you use strong, unique passwords, it's totally safe to bank online. The best accounts allow you to deposit checks from your phone, transfer funds to or from any account at any bank with no fees, pay bills online, and avoid fees common to traditional brick-and-mortar banks.

    As long as you get paid via direct deposit or check, as opposed to cash, online banking should easily meet all of your financial needs. Now, let's take a more detailed look at how some of the features work so you understand how the replace your old banking experience.

    Managing your money with mobile banking

    You don't need to go to any specific place when you have an online bank. Instead, every online bank uses a website and offers a mobile app to handle your banking wherever you are. It doesn't matter if you're on the way out of work, sitting on the couch at home, or standing on the beach on vacation, you can log in and manage your banking with a few taps on your screen.

    Once logged in, you can view balances, pay bills, make transfers, and deposit a check with a photo. If you have other accounts at the same bank, such as credit cards, loans, or investments, you can manage and make transfers to those accounts as well.

    With online banking, it is easy to have all of your accounts under one roof. But even if you don't, it's easy to manage everything through convenient mobile apps.

    Learn more: The best credit cards to open in 2018, according to The Points Guy

    Cash and online banking

    The only real downsides of online banking are losing the in-person banking option and depositing cash with a teller. If you have a job where you are paid mostly in cash or tips, like a restaurant server or valet parking attendant, online-only banking probably isn't viable for you.

    Taking cash out of an online bank account, though, is easy. Most online banks charge no fees for any ATM access, and some reimburse fees charged by other banks' ATMs. Some popular accounts that offer no-fee ATM access include Ally Bank (up to $10 per month reimbursed) and Charles Schwab Bank (unlimited reimbursements).

    To deposit cash, you may want to consider pairing your online banking account with a favorite local credit union. Most credit unions offer a basic no-fee checking and savings option, which you can use to deposit cash and transfer to or from your online bank account.

    Even online banks that don't charge fees usually offer a large network of free ATMs. Through memberships in various banks networks, Capital One (39,000 free ATMs), Discover Bank (60,000 free ATMs), and others typically have a convenient location near your work or home.

    Expect better interest rates and lower fees

    Traditional banks spend a lot of money on human tellers and fancy branch locations. They tend to pass those costs on to customers in the form of fees and less favorable interest rates. If you are willing to give up the human on the other side of the desk or counter, you can save a bundle.

    For example, most big banks charge huge fees for overdrafts. Online banks charge lower fees, if any. Capital One gives you four options for how to handle overdrafts to help you avoid or manage fees. Simple and Chime don't charge those fees at all — in fact, the only fee online bank Simple charges is for foreign debit card use. Otherwise, you won't pay them a cent. Ever.

    Capital One and Ally typically stand at the top of the leaderboards in terms of interest rates, but other online banks don't lag far behind. Online savings rates are commonly around 20x better than what you get from the big, nationwide traditional banks.

    Learn more: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and perks in 2018

    Does online-online banking make sense for you?

    If the idea of better interest rates, lower fees, and managing your own banking online is tempting to you, online banking may be the right choice.

    To get started, you can keep an old account in addition to your new online account, slowly shifting your banking. Alternatively, you can get an online account and keep a local credit union account for physical banking needs. The truly bold dive in without looking back.

    Online banking may feel new to you, but it has been around since the early 1980s. It's safe and secure and the future of managing money. As long as you don't need to regularly deposit cash, online-online banking may be a great decision for your money needs.

    Online account offers from our partners:



    Click here for more Insider Picks personal finance stories

    SEE ALSO: How automated saving and investing really works — and why more of us should be doing it

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    thanksgiving dinner eating talking

    • Political arguments can have the power to ruin your relationships, or become intensely divisive. 
    • Jeanne Safer, a liberal psychotherapist, created the podcast "I Love You But I Hate You Politics" to help people find ways to discuss their political opinions without getting into bitter fights.
    • Safer has been married to a conservative editor for almost 40 years, and she manages to avoid political arguments with her husband by using a few conversational strategies. 
    • Below are eight tips culled from her own experience, and her podcast guests, on how to discuss politics with friends and family — without ruining your relationships. 

    We're in perilous times for political dialogue across the aisle.

    Many people think it's no longer even possible to have cordial political discussion. According to my patients, my podcast guests, and the 50 people I interviewed for my forthcoming book on the topic, far too many people — romantic partners, friends, family members — are engaging in bruising political arguments that accomplish nothing except irreparably harming their relationships.

    A man familiar with my work wrote me that his sister-in-law had called off her engagement over a difference of opinion with her fiancé about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's Senate hearing, and another man emailed me that he and his brother had unfriended each other on Facebook for the same reason.

    But regardless of the wreckage we are seeing, often abetted by the partisan media and the internet, there is hope!

    Take my relationship, for example. I'm a committed liberal psychotherapist and author. My husband, Rick Brookhiser, is a senior editor of the "National Review," the leading journal of conservative opinion. We agree about almost nothing political, yet he and I have managed to remain civil for almost 40 years.

    How did we accomplish this astonishing feat?

    We've learned how to talk about politics, and what not to talk about — and we agree about almost everything else.

    In the run-up to the midterm elections, political arguments have become even more acrid, and we desperately need help communicating with the many people in our lives who are on the other side. I've created a podcast called "I Love You But I HATE Your Politics," where I interviewed 50 people in bipartisan couples of all sorts, and I showcase those who have figured out how to communicate about hot-button issues without mutually assured destruction, so that listeners can be inspired to try these techniques themselves. In the most recent episode — coming soon! — I interviewed my husband.

    Below are some recommendations culled from what my guests have learned, from my own experience as a psychotherapist, and what I know from my own marriage. Here's how to cultivate civility in political disputes.

    1. Do not raise your voice

    Your opponent will likely interpret even a slight increase in volume as shouting, and will stop listening as a result. Rational discussion will then become impossible.

    When discussing politics with my husband,  if I think before I speak, and make sure I'm not communicating in a tone that could be construed as contempt, dismissal, or outrage — which a raised voice does — he is more receptive and less defensive. Using this tactic, we were able to have a conversation about Roe v. Wade — my premier hot-button issue, which he believes should be overturned — that was civil and thoughtful. This hadn't been possible years ago, before I understood  that the tone and volume in which I expressed myself is more important than what I actually said.

    political argument

    2. Friends don't let friends drink and discuss politics

    It's hard enough to react well in difficult conversations when you're stone-cold sober, let alone when you've had a few drinks.

    Two interview subjects of mine, a gay couple who are both supporters of President Donald Trump, were in the habit of getting into political arguments about Trump's character after they had quite a few drinks. This inevitably led to yelling (see tactic number one, above), slammed doors, and, on one occasion, a smashed cell phone. Shortly thereafter they agreed to never mix alcohol and politics.

    3. Never send an unsolicited partisan article from your side of a contentious issue to your mate, relative, or friend

    Thrusting an unsolicited article on someone is an automatic turn-off, and will not get your point across.

    The way to share partisan articles with your friend or partner is doing it like two of my podcast guests, Harry and Allan, did. Allan wrote a note to Harry, saying, "Harry, if I gave you an article expressing my viewpoint on something, would you read it? Of course, I'll read something you send me as well."  

    And he only did it once.

    4. If the two of you can't talk about a political issue, simply don't talk about it

    There are lots of people on your side that you can talk to instead of the person with whom you can't have a civil conversation about the issue.

    Make avoidance of destructive controversy a joint decision, and don't violate the contract. Part of maturity is recognizing that there are some issues that cannot be discussed without misery ensuing.

    This isn't just true about politics, it applies to other issues, as well — your partner's mother, for example. You can still be true to your beliefs without foisting them on an unwilling audience.

    There are plenty of other people who agree with you and who would be eager to discuss the very things that are taboo in your intimate relationship.

    political argument

    5. Do not start any political conversation with, 'How can your side possibly think...?'

    This is not a conversation-starter. It's an indictment. You automatically turn off the other person by signalling that you abhor his or her stance, and you won't have a rational or amicable discussion after delivering an insult.

    6. Do not read your politically-divergent partner's political posts on social media

    You probably already know what you'll find, and it will come back to haunt you.

    Consider doing this as much of a taboo as reading the other person's diary, even though online comments are public. People are pathologically uninhibited online. They tend to be more restrained and more receptive when they talk directly — so do that instead.

    political argument

    7. Never conduct a political argument via email or text

    It may seem more convenient, but texts and email are  easy to misinterpret, and offensively impersonal. If you really want to talk about something, call or arrange to meet in person.

    8. This is the hardest and most important principle of all: Stop trying to change the other person's mind, no matter how compelling it is to try

    It is a universal fantasy that we can change other people, especially the ones we love. Thinking you can is a refusal to accept the limits of your influence over others. Giving up your desire to change someone — whether you're trying to make an unresponsive person love you, or a politically-opposed person agree with you — might be difficult, but once you do, you will improve the quality of your communication.

    Constant attempts to convert your opponent will likely only make your fights worse. 

    Using these same guidelines, my husband and I have found a way to talk about politics, and I've learned a great deal about how people outside my own perspective think and feel. This has been especially delightful during the Trump administration, because it is the first time we actually agree about a president: We both abhor his character.

    Most of the time, though, we prefer to talk about topics other than politics, things that seem more fundamental and more fruitful to our relationship, like the books we're writing and reading, our many shared interests in music and the arts, human nature, and psychology.

    So now is an excellent time to strike a blow for civility in your home or office, and good practice for 2020. If you make an effort to live by these rules, your partner will appreciate them — and you might actually even begin to enjoy talking about politics.

    Jeanne Safer, Phd has been a psychoanalyst and relationship specialist in private practice for 44 years. She is host of the podcast "I Love You, But I HATE Your Politics." Her book of the same name will be published in April 2019 by St. Martins Press.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'

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    jetlag airport sleeping

    • As Business Insider's international correspondent, I am constantly taking long-haul international flights, switching time zones, and then working the next day. 
    • However, I rarely suffer from the worst effects of jet lag thanks to careful preparation and some science-backed strategies.
    • Prior to flying, I adjust my sleep schedule as much as possible to correspond with my new time zone. On the flight, I drink tons of water and operate according to my new time zone. When I land, I force my body to stay awake until a reasonable bedtime.

    When I left New York in March to become Business Insider's international correspondent, I was convinced traveling for a living is a dream job.

    That is, until you start thinking about what full-time travel means. I'm talking endless long-haul flights, time zone switches, and days where your body is somehow both utterly exhausted and wired awake. In other words, lots of jet lag.

    Jet lag is what happens when you disrupt your body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm. This clock, which naturally runs on a 24-hour cycle,  moderates everything from sleep and hunger to blood pressure and hormones.

    While your brain moderates your circadian rhythm, it responds to external cues like light and temperature. When you jump time zones — and particularly when you jump many time zones — your body is no longer synced up with the external cues in the world. Your brain gets confused and it takes some time to adjust.

    Over the course of my travels — 30-plus countries and counting — I've learned to follow some science-backed strategies for avoiding the worst effects of the dreaded travelers' disease.

    Start adjusting your body before you fly

    To start with, the main tools you have to prepare for your time zone jump (and avoid jet lag) are light exposure, sleeping and wake times, and food. But even using all of these tools,  there's no completely avoiding jet lag.

    Steve Simpson, the academic director of the Charles Perkins Centre, who is working with Qantas Airways on jet lag research, has found that the maximum the body clock can be reset is 90 minutes per day. Stuart Peirson, a researcher at the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology at Oxford University, has found the limit to be closer to one hour per day.

    That means, for a nine-hour time zone jump, as I did experienced on a recent trip to Dubai, your body requires nine days to adjust to the new time zone. 

    To shift my internal clock, I started by adding a clock to my phone for the place I would be going to (in this case, Dubai), which I find helps me psychologically prepare.

    Then, in the days prior to the flight, I slowly adjusted my sleep schedule to match that of the time zone I was going to, forcing my body to go to sleep earlier or later, depending on the destination time zone, a strategy backed by researcherson the subject.

    JetLag Rooster has a handy tool to help come up with a sleep plan to adjust your body. Here's what my (ideal) schedule looked to prepare for the nine-hour time zone shift:

    Screen Shot 2018 12 21 at 9.02.08 PM

    When adjusting my sleep schedule to sleep earlier, I might take a supplement of melatonin, the hormone your body uses to regulate sleep. Or I might restrict my exposure to light by closing the curtains earlier and staying away from phones and screens.

    If I need to stay up later, I might drink caffeine later than normal, work out late in the day, or just force myself to finish binge-watching that Netflix show.

    Of course, it's difficult, if not impossible, to completely shift your body's clock prior to departure. Most people have offices to go to and things to do. But, I find, if I can shift my body clock by even two or three hours, it shaves off the number of days it takes my body to fully reset after I land.

    By the time I left for Dubai, I had shifted my sleep schedule enough that I was going to bed at 4 a.m., or a little less than half of the time zone jump I was about to make.

    When flying, keep adjusting and drink lots of water

    Turkish Airlines Flight Review (22 of 28)

    On the day of my flight, I try to switch my thinking completely to the new time zone.

    My flight to Dubai may have been at 10:40 a.m. in New York, but, in the airport and on the plane, I was already thinking that my actual time is 7:40 p.m.

    Once we get into the air, I'm operating with my new time zone and trying to stick to what I would normally do at that time.

    For the first few hours of my 13-hour flight to Dubai, it was business as usual. I watched a movie, did some work, and ate around dinner time (or as close as the flight's meal times would allow). When 11 p.m. Dubai time came, I put down my phone and began to read a book. Around midnight, I tried to fall asleep for as long as I could.

    Sometimes, I'll take some melatonin to speed the process along, but, in the case of my flight to Dubai, it wasn't necessary. I was already exhausted from having gone to sleep at 4 a.m. and then waking up three hours later for the drive to the airport.

    On flights, I never drink alcohol and try not to drink coffee, both of which wreak havoc on your sleep patterns. 

    In addition, I drink as much water as I can. Planes are full of dry, recirculated air that will leave you dehydrated. Dehydration has many of the same ill effects as jet lag, like mental sluggishness, and can actually worsen your jet lag symptoms.  

    After you land, stick to the time zone

    Dubai Development Property Real Estate (18 of 40)

    The worst mistake you can make upon landing in your new time zone is to listen to your body clock.

    After I landed in Dubai at 8:30 a.m., all I wanted to do was go directly back to sleep. Despite my best efforts, my body was likely still operating somewhere in the realm of New York time, or 11:30 p.m.

    But, if I wanted to get acclimated quickly, sleeping was a bad idea. Instead, I had to do as an Emirati would do.

    “Biting the bullet is important, force yourself to get up at a 'normal' time in your new time zone, and eat breakfast outside if you can," Emily Capodilupo,  a sleep scientist and the director of analytics at fitness company WHOOP, told Forbes in August.

    Instead of napping, I ate breakfast, worked out in the gym, and then went out to explore the city. As the day wore on I grew more exhausted, but I knew that if I stuck it out the first day to a reasonable bed time, then it would force my body to adjust more quickly.

    The first day, I made it to 9 p.m. before I was too tired and had to sleep. The next day, I woke up at 5 a.m., a few hours earlier than my normal wake-up time but at least reasonable for the time zone. And, for the most part, I felt great. 

    Within two days, I was more or less completely adjusted, sleeping at midnight and waking up at 7:30 a.m., my normal sleep schedule.

    That's usually about how it goes for me with long-haul flights.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The 3 best ways to beat jet lag

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    Maren Ueland, 28, left, from Norway and 24-year-old Louisa Jespersen from Denmark were found dead on Monday in Morocco's High Atlas Mountains.

    • Moroccan officials said the four men suspected of killing Louisa Jespersen, 24, of Denmark, and Maren Ueland, 28, of Norway, pledged their allegiance to ISIS before the killings.
    • Abdellah Rami, a Moroccan expert on Islamist movements, told The New York Times, it is "easier for organizations like ISIS to start operating" in popular tourist areas. 
    • ISIS has not claimed responsibility for the backpackers' deaths through its usual channels.

    After two Scandinavian women were killed while hiking in Morocco, an expert on Islamist movements has said it's hard to protect tourist-heavy regions from ISIS.

    The four men suspected of killing Louisa Jespersen, 24, of Denmark, and Maren Ueland, 28, of Norway, in Morocco's High Atlas mountains pledged their allegiance to ISIS earlier in a recorded video, the country's general prosecutor said on Thursday.

    Abdellah Rami, a Moroccan expert on Islamist movements, told The New York Times that if the video is verified, and killers' motives are linked to terror, the attack "targets very sensitive matters like tourism, which is an essential component of the Moroccan economy."

    He added: "It is hard for the authorities to protect these areas and easier for organizations like ISIS to start operating in these places."

    Investigators explore the location around the tent where the two women were found on December 18.

    The video, which was shared on Twitter, shows the men sitting in front of an ISIS flag, with one telling ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that the "number of your soldiers in Morocco is known only to Allah and that they are marching forth to support Allah's religion and defend Muslim families."

    BBC Monitoring reported on Thursday that one man in the video, speaking in Arabic, said: "This is in revenge for our brothers in Hajin." Hajin is a town in Syria, of which ISIS recently lost control.

    ISIS has not claimed responsibility for the backpackers' deaths through its usual channels.

    Read more: The men suspected of killing 2 Scandinavian tourists in Morocco had pledged allegiance to ISIS, prosecutors say

    "The ideological identity is clear, but the organization they're affiliated to isn’t," Rami told The Times about the suspects. "So the question is, did they commit this independently or was it a sleeper cell?"

    Nicholas Heras, a Middle Eastern security fellow at the Center for a New American Security think tank, told INSIDER that Morocco has been aggressively trying to identify and arrest ISIS members and ISIS sympathizers, but there is "still a significant reservoir for support for ISIS in Morocco."

    "No counterintelligence policy can completely remove the threat of ISIS-inspired attacks by fans of the organization, especially if the potential attackers were radicalized through ISIS propaganda that is easily accessed online," he said.

    The Atlas Mountains are spread across Morocco and Algeria's northern coastlines.Heras also suggested that tourist destinations are targets for ISIS.

    "Westerners, especially European tourists, are an easy target for jihadists looking to strike a blow against the West in the name of Islam," he said.

    The bodies of Jespersen and Ueland were discovered 6 miles outside the village of Imlil in the High Atlas mountains on December 18.

    The women's bodies had "evidence of violence to their necks," the Moroccan Interior Ministry said in a statement.

    In general, Morocco is considered a safe country to explore and is under a Level 1 travel advisory — which suggests exercising "normal precautions" — by the US Department of State.

    According to a report from the Counter Extremism Project, Moroccan security forces have disrupted a number of ISIS-linked cells since as early as 2014.

    The country has faced fewer terror attacks in the last 15 years than its North African neighbors Algeria, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Tunisia, the Counter Extremism Project said.

    INSIDER’s Bill Bostock contributed to this report.

    SEE ALSO: Trump walks back claim that ISIS is 'defeated' a day after his announcement

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'

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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.

    Ecovacs Robot Vacuum

    • Ecovacs is back at it with its latest robotic vacuum, the $350 Deebot 711.
    • This may just be my favorite robot vacuum yet, with its Smart Navi Mapping Technology, 110-minute battery life, and ability to double the suction power on command.
    • If you're looking for a way to spend more time doing things other than vacuuming, this is one product that you need in your life.

    To convince members of your household to fight over the privilege of vacuuming your home, you'll need a very special vacuum indeed.

    That special vacuum may just come in the form of the newest robotic offering from Ecovacs. Because let's face it — the only way to inject excitement into cleaning the house is to eject any and all effort associated with the task. As it turns out, the new Deebot 711 is capable of doing just that.

    The Ecovacs family of vacuums has long been a customer (and Business Insider) favorite. They're some of the best-selling robots on Amazon, and back in June, we just couldn't get enough of the Ecovacs Deebot 900, a $400 smart vacuum that cut cleaning time in half. But now, the team has come out with yet another iteration of its popular cleaning assistant, and this one is $50 cheaper and just as effective.

    The Deebot 711 is a sleek little vacuum that adopts the same circular shape that you've likely come to expect from the robotic cleaners. Its black finish gives it a slightly more modern and sophisticated edge, but the aesthetics of the 711 are far less important than its other attributes. What I've been most impressed by in my few weeks with the new Deebot is its ability to map my home and quickly learn which areas are most in need of cleaning. That's thanks to the robot's Smart Navi Mapping Technology, which not only helps it adapt to any environment with ease, but also helps it to avoid bumping into furniture or avoid falling down stairs.

    While other robot vacuums I've used have taken some time to determine where in the world (or room) they really are before getting to work, the Deebot 711 is surprisingly efficient at scanning its surroundings and beginning to move. Plus, rather than learning to avoid furniture by first hitting it, the Deebot does a great job circumventing obstacles.

    The Smart Navi Mapping Technology is capable of creating an optimized and systematic cleaning path that covers up to 1300 square feet, which makes it more than enough for at least one floor of your home (if not your whole home). Many other robot vacuums I've tried seem to clean by trial and error, randomly moving around a room with hopes that they'll ultimately reach every corner. The Deebot 711, on the other hand, seems much more regimented — or dare I say, more human — in its cleaning.

    Thanks to the Deebot's compatibility with both Alexa and Google Assistant, you can begin cleaning simply by telling the robot to do so. Either use a voice command or download the companion smartphone app to start the cleaning process, and you'll be able to spend your time doing more important things. Of course, if you'd like to exercise a bit more control over the cleaning process, you can use the app to direct the robot, or schedule a cleaning. You can also ask for status updates while you're away so that you know exactly what the Deebot has and hasn't done.

    ECOVACS image

    One of my favorite features of the Deebot 711 is the maximum power suction mode, which doubles the suction power of the machine and helps it take care of tough stains like dirt and grime on either hardwood or carpeted floors. Plus, the Deebot features two specialized cleaning modes — edge and spot mode — which allow you (by proxy, that is) to tackle hard to reach and often-missed areas of the room.

    With 110 minutes of battery life, it's likely that you'll tire of cleaning long before the robot does. And when the Deebot does run out of juice, it sends itself home to recharge, which means that it's always ready for more (should you need it).

    The Deebot 711 comes with a one-year warranty, a charging dock, four side brushes, two high-efficiency air filters, a remote control with battery, and Ecovacs' famous customer support. So if your New Year's Resolution is to spend more time on the more important things in life, then you may just want to let the Deebot 711 take care of your vacuuming.

    Buy the Ecovacs DEEBOT 711 Robot Vacuum Cleaner for $349.99 from Amazon

    Join the conversation about this story »

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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.

    iOttie Easy One Touch 4 $25

    Car enthusiasts are naturally meticulous and picky about their preferences, so shopping for them during the holiday season can be a challenge. I know from experience because I'm one of those people.

    If you don't have the know-how or the funds to gift them the rare and expensive cars or parts they dream of, there are still a ton of cool and useful gifts any car lover will appreciate. To make shopping for the car enthusiasts on your list easier, I rounded up 32 clever gift ideas they'll be happy to receive. 

    Most of these items are available with two-day shipping, so don't stress too hard about your last-minute shopping — just remember that the sooner you order, the better your chances of a timely arrival.

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

    A wooden gift crate filled with auto-care products

    Man Crates Auto Care Crate, available at Man Crates, $99.99

    Man Crates has a huge selection of gifts for men, and the Auto Car Crate is the perfect choice for the car-loving guy on your list. Instead of giving him a delicately wrapped gift with a bow on top, he'll need to use the included crowbar to pry open the crate. Inside, you'll find Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam Auto Wash, a Chemical Guys Ultimate Fire Hose Car Wash Nozzle, a scratch-free chenille wash mitt, three professional grade microfiber towels, and a collapsible bucket.

    An Alexa-enabled car charger

    Roav Viva by Anker with Amazon Alexa, available at Amazon, $49.99

    Most people enjoy using Alexa in their homes, but the Roav Viva by Anker now makes it possible to bring it on the road. Simply plug it in the 12-volt adapter and gain voice-controlled access to music, directions, audiobooks, and more. It also provides two USB high speed charging ports for your devices.


    A smartphone mount

    iOttie Easy One Touch 4 Phone Mount, available at Amazon $24.95

    Car lovers would much rather spend their money on cool parts and accessories than pay a hefty fine for using a phone while driving. Giving them the iOttie Easy One Touch 4 is like giving the gift of safety. It can be mounted to the dash or windshield, and is compatible with all smartphones.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    donald trump

    • President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted what he said was a design for a "Steel Slat Barrier" for the border, calling it "totally effective while at the same time beautiful!"
    • The design appears to feature metal spikes at the top.
    • In the last two days, Trump has been demanding that Congress approve $5 billion in funding for his long-promised border wall, though he has pivoted to demanding "steel slats."
    • The Department of Homeland Security said the design Trump tweeted is the same as the fencing at the border in Calexico.

    President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted an image of what he said was a design of his administration's "Steel Slat Barrier" intended for the US-Mexico border, complete with metal spikes at the top.

    The tweet came amid turmoil within Congress as lawmakers struggled to reach a funding deal, hours before a partial government shutdown was set to begin.

    In the last two days, Trump has begun demanding that Congress approve $5 billion in funding for his long-promised border wall, though he has pivoted to demanding "steel slats."

    He speculated on Thursday that doing so would give Democratic lawmakers "a little bit of an out" to pass his requested funding.

    "We don't use the word 'wall' necessarily, but it has to be something special to do the job — steel slats," he said.

    Read more: Trump says he's 'prepared for a very long shutdown' after forcing border-wall money into the government-funding fight

    The Republican-controlled House passed a continuing resolution on Thursday evening that included $5.7 billion for border security. The resolution will now go to the Senate, where it is almost certain to fail.

    A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman told Business Insider that the design is the same as the one that has been used in Calexico:

    bollard fence us-mexico border calexico

    The fencing in Calexico, however, doesn't appear to feature the same sharply spiked tips as the design Trump tweeted.

    The Trump administration has also been working on similar fencing projects throughout the last year, using "bollards" — spaced-out, hollow steel rods — as a barrier, usually with metal anti-climbing plates at the top.

    Critics took to social media on Friday to mock Trump and the slat design:

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'

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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.

    Scotch Porter

    Holiday shopping for men — whether it be your dad, sibling, or significant other — can sometimes feel futile. His list is short, and so is your patience when it comes to gift hunting.

    Instead of buying him another tie or a pair of socks that he doesn't need, we recommend going with a quality grooming gift instead.

    Since every man does some form of grooming on a regular basis, these are gifts he'll get to appreciate year-round. Shaving kits, razors, body washes, facial cleansers, and colognes are just some of the many products guys use to stay looking, feeling, and smelling their best — and these are the best ones to gift this holiday season.

    Most of these items are available with expedited shipping, and some should arrive within a few days' time, so don't stress too hard about your last-minute shopping — just remember that the sooner you order, the better your chances of a timely arrival.

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

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

    A high-end electric shaver

    Braun Series 7 Electric Shaver and Trimmer, $169.94 (Originally $289.99) [You save $120.05]

    The Braun Series 7 uses Sonic and AutoSense Technology to read their beard's thickness and adjust the power of the shaver's motor to deliver a close shave with just one stroke. By figuring out the optimal shave settings on its own, they'll never experience another bad shave again. In addition to being a highly effective and precise shaver, it's self-cleaning and lubricating.

    Check out my full review of the Braun Series 7 Shaver here.

    A durable Dopp kit from Patagonia

    Patagonia Black Hole Small Cube, $29, available in eight colors

    Although it can be used to store a number of small items, the Patagonia Black Hole Cube is the ideal size for a traveling Dopp Kit — and it's super durable. 

    An electric toothbrush

    Goby Brush Kit, $50, available at Goby

    Most people don't swap out their toothbrush as often as they should simply because they forget to do so. With the Goby Brush Kit, they'll never have to worry about using an old toothbrush. For just $50, the kit includes a state-of-the-art of the art oscillating toothbrush, a hygienic stand, USB charger and a monthly subscription for brush heads. 

    Order by December 26, 2018 for guaranteed delivery before Christmas.

    Read our full review of the Goby toothbrush here.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    chef Jose Andres

    • Chef José Andrés tweeted early Friday morning that if there's a partial government shutdown, he would feed federal government workers impacted.
    • "And I will offer again Free Sandwiches to the poor men and women of the federal government, republicans and democrats (sic), at every restaurant of mine in DC for lunch until they get paid again!"
    • Congress and the president are closing in on a deadline to fund nine government agencies prior to the holidays. House lawmakers adjourned on Friday night without a spending deal, making a partial shutdown virtually inevitable.
    • Some 800,000 federal government workers will go without pay as long as the government remains closed.

    Chef José Andrés tweeted out early Friday morning that if there's a partial government shutdown, he would feed federal government workers impacted.

    "And I will offer again Free Sandwiches to the poor men and women of the federal government, republicans and democrats (sic), at every restaurant of mine in DC for lunch until they get paid again!" he tweeted in response to a tweet from President Donald Trump about the shutdown.

    Congress and the president are closing in on a deadline to fund nine government agencies prior to the holidays. House lawmakers adjourned on Friday night without a spending deal, making a partial shutdown virtually inevitable.

    Some 800,000 federal government workers will go without pay as long as the government remains closed.

    The roadblock is roughly $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall. After initially signaling that he would sign a stopgap bill without funding for the wall that was passed unanimously in the Senate, Trump has said that he will not sign a bill to fund the government if it does not include funding for the border wall. The House passed a bill that funds the wall on Thursday, however, it needs 60 votes to pass in the Senate, which the bill does not have.

    Trump initially said he'd own responsibility for a partial government shutdown, but now he is blaming Democrats for the shutdown — and he shared these feelings on Twitter, Friday morning.

    "The Democrats, whose votes we need in the Senate, will probably vote against Border Security and the Wall even though they know it is DESPERATELY NEEDED," Trump tweeted. "If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time. People don’t want Open Borders and Crime!"

    Andrés, the Spanish-American, Michelin-starred chef, has been an outspoken critic of Trump. He is also notable for his humanitarian work (and was nominated for a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize). He started the World Central Kitchen after the 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti, to feed those impacted by disasters.

    Following the destruction of Hurricane Maria, Andrés and WCK fed more than 2 million people in Puerto Rico.

    Andrés pulled out of a contract to have a restaurant in Trump's hotel in Washington, DC, after then-candidate Trump called Mexican immigrants "rapists" and drug dealers. In his Friday tweet, he suggested that Trump go to Tijuana with him to "feed good people, meet them, learn to love them and realize they are not the enemy you are claiming they are."

    Trump campaigned on tough immigration policies, including building a wall along the US-Mexico border. His policies included instituting a travel ban, shortly after entering office, a short-lived "zero tolerance" policy at the southern border earlier this year, and trying to implement stricter asylum policies (which the courts have struck down).

    SEE ALSO: Trump tweeted a design for 'steel slats' along the border with spikes on top — and called it 'totally effective while at the same time beautiful'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'

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    donald trump

    • The federal government entered a partial shutdown at midnight EST after the House and Senate adjourned without a spending deal on Friday night.
    • The shutdown is the result of a last-minute flip-flop by President Donald Trump on his demands for money for a US-Mexico border wall.
    • Trump's demands led to gridlock in Congress on a broader funding bill.
    • The shutdown will force 800,000 federal workers to go without pay for as long as the government remains closed.
    • In a joint statement issued after the shutdown officially took effect, the Democratic Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said, "President Trump has said more than 25 times that he wanted a shutdown and now he has gotten what he wanted."

    The federal government entered a partial shutdown as the House and Senate adjourned without a federal-spending deal on Friday, hours before a midnight EST deadline.

    President Donald Trump's demands for a wall along the US-Mexico border led to a standoff in the Senate.

    Trump's sudden turnaround after supporting a short-term funding extension left Congress with little time to find a compromise that would prevent a shutdown.

    Without a deal, a substantial portion of the federal government closed at midnight, and it is unclear when the two parties will be able to find an agreement to reopen those departments.

    In a joint statement issued after the shutdown officially took effect, the Democratic Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said, "President Trump has said more than 25 times that he wanted a shutdown and now he has gotten what he wanted."

    nancy pelosi chuck schumer donald trump meeting

    "Democrats have offered Republicans multiple proposals to keep the government open, including one that already passed the Senate unanimously, and all of which include funding for strong, sensible, and effective border security – not the president's ineffective and expensive wall," the joint statement reads.

    "If President Trump and Republicans choose to continue this Trump Shutdown, the new House Democratic majority will swiftly pass legislation to re-open government in January."

    How did we get here?

    The shutdown is the culmination of weeks of debate between Democrats and Trump over the border-wall funding. Here's how it broke down:

    Read more:Trump says 'Democrats now own the shutdown' just 10 days after declaring he was 'proud to shut down the government'

    • December 19: The Senate passes a clean short-term funding bill, called a continuing resolution (CR), that does not include border-wall funding but will keep the government open until February 8. Trump supported the bill at the time, Senate GOP leaders said.
    • December 20:Trump flip-flops on the clean CR after listening to attacks from conservative TV pundits and the hardline House Freedom Caucus, and he announces that he will not sign a bill with no wall funding. House Republicans then pass a CR that includes $5.7 billion in wall funds.
    • December 21: Trump demands the Senate vote for the House version of the CR and tells Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get rid of the legislative filibuster in order to pass the vote with only GOP lawmakers, but the idea is a nonstarter. The Senate votes down the House version of the bill, and the government moves closer to a shutdown at the midnight deadline.

    What does the shutdown mean?

    The shutdown does not affect the entire federal government since Congress already passed seven of the 12 major funding bills for next year. But the shutdown does impact a slew of agencies, including the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, the Interior, State, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development.

    About 800,000 federal workers from those agencies will be affected by the shutdown. Some 420,000 workers will be forced to work without pay since they are considered "essential" employees. The other 380,000 workers will be furloughed, which means they will be barred from work and will not receive pay.

    national parks government shutdown

    According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), the shutdown will result in the closure of a number of nonessential services in those impacted departments.

    "Functions that would be stopped during a shutdown include entry into national parks, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) site inspections, refunds and audits by the Internal Revenue Service, several Federal Aviation Administration activities outside of air traffic control services, and vehicle safety activities and research," the CRFB said.

    The workers could receive back pay, but Congress would first need to pass a bill giving those employees the money. Members of Congress still receive paychecks during a shutdown.

    Click here for more information on the exact shutdown details »

    Is there a way forward?

    It's unclear if there is a deal on the table that would pass both chambers of Congress and get Trump's signature, and many lawmakers are anticipating a long-term shutdown, if those circumstances materialize.

    The president even told reporters on Friday that a government shutdown may last for an extended period of time.

    "I hope we don't, but we are totally prepared for a very long shutdown," Trump said during a meeting in the Oval Office.

    SEE ALSO: Here's what happens to Social Security and disability benefits during a government shutdown

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'

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    Minetta Tavern

    Eating the best food in the world doesn't have to be reserved for special occasions.

    As it turns out, there are plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants around the world that are surprisingly affordable. Did you know that the cheapest Michelin-starred meal in the world, in Singapore, costs just $2.20?

    For those who don't plan to travel that far, Business Insider teamed up with the discount website Vouchercloud to find out where the best deals are in New York City.

    To produce the list, Vouchercloud looked at the price of a set lunch menu at every New York City restaurant included in this year's Michelin Guide, or if there was no prix fixe lunch, the cheapest individual lunch item. Business Insider also conducted some research of our own to add to the ranking.

    As it turns out, there are 19 Michelin-starred restaurants where you can eat lunch for $50 or less — and eight where it'll cost $30 or less.

    Here are the 19 cheapest Michelin-starred lunches in New York City, ranked from most to least expensive by the price of the cheapest à la carte lunch dish or prix fixe menu.

    SEE ALSO: RANKED: The 50 cheapest Michelin-starred meals in the world

    DON'T MISS: 23 London restaurants where you can get a Michelin-starred lunch for £30 or less

    Ai Fiori, Manhattan — $49

    Cuisine: The restaurant says it "showcases the modern interpretations of French and Italian Riviera cuisine."

    Courses: Set menu of two courses, or three for $68.

    Time: Monday through Friday, noon to 2:30 p.m.

    Find out more »

    Gotham Bar and Grill, Manhattan — $48

    Cuisine: Gotham Bar and Grill aims to be "reminiscent of the energy, feel and beauty of a Parisian brasserie."

    Courses: Set menu of three courses.

    Time: Monday through Friday, noon to 2:15 p.m.

    Find out more »

    Gramercy Tavern, Manhattan — $48

    Cuisine: Contemporary American cuisine.

    Courses: Set menu of three courses.

    Time: Every day, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Find out more »

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    earthrise apollo nasa AS8 14 2383HR

    • "Earthrise" is the first image of Earth captured by humans from space
    • The photo of Earth was taken aboard Apollo 8 on December 24, 1968, by lunar module pilot Bill Anders.
    • The image made people aware of Earth's fragility, since it was seen against the blackness of space.

    On December 24, 1968 — 50 years ago this Christmas eve — Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders became the first humans to circle the moon.

    The mission was historic. But equally memorable is the famous "Earthrise" photo that resulted, showing Earth rising above the lunar landscape.

    Until that point, no human eyes had ever seen our blue marble from so far away.

    In Life's "100 Photographs That Changed the World," acclaimed wilderness photographer Galen Rowell described the unprecedented view of Earth as "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken."

    The image of our planet, which seems so small and vulnerable in the blackness of space, made people more aware of its fragility.

    Read more: Astronauts explain why nobody has visited the moon in more than 45 years

    Earthrise is now one of the most reproduced space photos of all time, appearing on US postage stamps, posters, and the cover of Time magazine in 1969. Many have pointed out the irony of the photo, since Apollo 8 was sent to study and take pictures of the moon's surface — not Earth.

    "Of all the objectives NASA had set before launch, no one had thought of photographing the Earth from lunar orbit," Robert Zimmerman wrote in his book "Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8: the First Manned Flight to Another World."

    The famous photo was taken during the mission's fourth pass around the moon, at which point the spacecraft had changed its orbit, making it possible to see the Earth above the lunar horizon. 

    Apollo 8

    None of the astronauts were prepared for that moment, including lunar module pilot Anders, who had been put in charge of photography. 

    In an interview for a BBC documentary, Anders described the sequences of events like this:

    I don't know who said it, maybe all of us said, 'Oh my God. Look at that!' and up came the Earth. We had had no discussion on the ground, no briefing, no instructions on what to do. I jokingly said, 'well it's not on the flight plan,' and the other two guys were yelling at me to give them cameras. I had the only color camera with a long lens. So I floated a black and white over to Borman. I can't remember what Lovell got. There were all yelling for cameras, and we started snapping away.

    Initially, both Borman and Anders claimed responsibility for the now-famous picture. An investigation of transcripts later revealed that Borman, who was the first to recognize the importance of the moment, took a black-and-white photo before Anders snapped the iconic color photograph. 

    Fred Spier, a senior lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, notes in his article "The Elusive Apollo 8 Earthrise Photo" that Borman and Lovell each played a crucial part in prompting Anders, who had the only color camera, to take the shot. 

    "Experienced astronaut Frank Borman was the first to the importance of the picture, while equally experienced astronaut James Lovell was quick to follow," Spier writes. "Space rookie William Anders, however, was in charge of taking the photos. In doing so, Anders had to follow a rather tight and well-defined photo plan, in which there was little or no room for unplanned snapshots."

    Spier continued: "Anders first offered some resistance and then quickly did what the other told him to do. Although it now seems beyond doubt that Anders actually snapped the famous picture, it also seems fair to say the picture came as a result of the combined efforts of all three astronauts."

    SEE ALSO: 50 years have passed since NASA's Apollo 8 mission circled the moon for the first time — here is every Apollo mission explained

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Listen to the haunting sounds astronauts heard on the far side of the moon

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    Best of 2018 thumb

    Business Insider's photo coverage has spanned far and wide this year — from North Carolina to San Francisco, startup CEOs, livid protesters, family sedans, and chocolate bars.  

    We've documented the outcries of people and movements in the streets. We've shadowed those who serve and protect. We've toured businesses that could disrupt entire industries and clinics that can change the future. We've tasted new foods, tried new gadgets, and viewed new art. 

    It's been quite a year, and we've seen it all — here's some of the best work we've done in 2018.

    All photos are by Daniel Brown, Katie Canales, Sarah Jacobs, Hollis Johnson, and Jessica Tyler

    SEE MORE: US gun laws, Thai cave divers, and the price of beer around the world: What 2018 looked like in maps

    'NRA sashay away': 175,000 people took to the streets for New York City's 'March for Our Lives' rally.

    See more photos here.

    I tried electric shock therapy —and it was one of the wildest experiences I've ever had in a workout.

    See more photos here.

    People have mocked Silicon Valley's favorite meal replacement as being out of touch — now its new CEO is determined to win over skeptics who shop at Walmart.

    See more photos here.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Screen Shot 2018 12 05 at 11.58.12 AM

    • PropertyShark just released its rankings of the 50 most expensive neighborhoods in New York City in 2018.
    • Manhattan neighborhoods dominated the list, with eight of the top 10 spots.
    • The median sale price among the 10 most expensive neighborhoods ranges from $1.31 million to $3.85 million.

    PropertyShark just released its rankings of the 50 most expensive neighborhoods in New York City, and, unsurprisingly, Manhattan dominates the list.

    All but two of the 10 most expensive New York City neighborhoods are in Manhattan; the two outliers are in Brooklyn.

    According to PropertyShark's analysis, the only two new entries to break into the top 10 are West Village and Greenwich Village.

    Read moreA $20 million penthouse may be about to shatter the record for the most expensive home sold in Brooklyn — here's a look inside

    TriBeCa topped the list with a median sale price that's nearly $1 million more than that of the second most expensive NYC neighborhood. Notably, this is the second consecutive year TriBeCa has taken the top spot.

    Some NYC neighborhoods are also among the most expensive zip codes in America: A previous PropertyShark analysis ranked three Manhattan zip codes (10013, 10007, 10282, respectively) in the top 25 most expensive US zips.

    Here are the 10 most expensive neighborhoods in New York City in ascending order, along with the median sale price in each. You can see the full ranking of the 50 most expensive neighborhoods on PropertyShark.

    SEE ALSO: Here's what the most expensive house for sale in every US state looks like

    10. Little Italy (Manhattan)

    Median sale price: $1.32 million

    9. Greenwich Village (Manhattan)

    Median sale price: 1.35 million

    8. Flatiron (Manhattan)

    Median sale price: $1.57 million

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    1TopRatedHotel NewYorkCity Beekman (38 of 45)

    • Condé Nast Traveller recently released its 2019 Gold List ranking of the best hotels in the world.
    • The editors selected the 78 best hotels around the world, which included the top 13 hotels in the US.
    • Only three American cities had more than one hotel on the list: New York City, LA, and Chicago

    From waterfront resorts in Miami and Hawaii to an oasis in the middle of the Utah desert, the best 13 hotels in America represent a wide range of luxury experiences.

    Condé Nast Traveller recently released its 2019 Gold List, in which the editors select the top hotels around the world. The list features 78 hotels, 13 of which are in the US.

    The hotels cover a wide range of prices, starting in the mid-$100s for a night at The Robey in Chicago and all the way past $1,000 for a night at Amangiri in Utah.

    Read more: 31 incredible hotels everyone should stay at in their lifetime, ranked by price

    Notably, several of these top-ranked hotels are repeatedly mentioned on lists of top hotels across the world; The Peninsula in Chicago and Four Seasons in Hualalai, for example, both also appeared on the US News & World Report's 2018 hotel ranking, as Business Insider previously reported.

    If you're more interested in personalized experiences at smaller hotels, consider taking a look at the top 14 boutique hotels in the world, from a romantic retreat in South Africa to a private villa in Thailand.

    Keep reading for a look at the best hotels in America. We also took a look at prices for rooms booked out one month in advance, and noted the starting rates.

    SEE ALSO: A 7-bedroom Swiss cabin has been named the world's best ski chalet for 2 years in a row — and an inside tour quickly proves why

    READ MORE: The 50 best restaurants in the world in 2018

    The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel, New York

    Rates starting at: $299/night

    The St. Regis New York

    Rates starting at: $779/night

    The Carlyle, New York

    Rates starting at: $1,000/night

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Fashion Nova

    • Google released its Year in Search report for 2018.
    • Fashion Nova was the most searched-for fashion brand this year, beating out more established brands like Louis Vuitton, Versace, and Givenchy. 
    • These were the other most searched-for fashion brands, according to Google's Year in Search. 

    2018 was all about luxury fashion.

    On Wednesday, Google released its 2018 Year in Search report, and Louis Vuitton, Versace, and Gucci all ranked highly on the list.

    Well-established luxury brands have been successful at staying relevant and reaching younger shoppers by partnering with more accessible streetwear brands and taking advantage of the "star factor" that they have. Young people often see celebrities like Lil Pump and Harry Styles wearing designer brands like Gucci and want to emulate them.

    But the top spot on Google's list went to Fashion Nova, a brand that has quickly shot to fame thanks to endorsements on Instagram from influencers and celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Cardi B.

    In 2017, Fashion Nova was ranked in fourth place on Google's list, beating out Chanel and Dior. In October, the brand ranked as the No. 6 preferred website for young people in Piper Jaffray's semi-annual survey of teen spending habits.

    These were the most searched-for fashion brands in 2018, according to Google's Year in Search:

    SEE ALSO: We shopped at American Eagle and Abercrombie to see which was a better store — and the winner was clear

    10. Moschino

    9. Dior

    8. Fashionphile

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    LuLaRoe DeAnne Stidham

    • LuLaRoe founder DeAnne Stidham has lashed out at critics, calling them "trolls" and "haters" in Instagram live videos, while urging her 98,0000 followers to block and delete them. 
    • "If you are negative, you guys get to leave. I don’t care about you," Stidham said during a live Instagram video on December 9. "We’re going to snip those people out and let them know that this is a place of positivity."
    • Some of the people Stidham refers to as "trolls" appear to be current and former LuLaRoe consultants who have been reaching out directly to her about various problems with the business. This is according to hundreds of comments reviewed by Business Insider on Stidham's Instagram feed.
    • After the company's chief supplier, Providence Industries, filed a $49 million lawsuit against the company, she told her followers not to "look at the Internet" to "see what's happening" because they might get "sidetracked."
    • LuLaRoe did not respond to a request for comment. 

    LuLaRoe founder DeAnne Stidham has repeatedly lashed out at critics, calling them "trolls" and "haters" in Instagram live videos, while urging her followers to "snip" them out, as the company faces mounting pressure from a $49 million supplier lawsuit and growing frustration among its own consultants.

    "If you're negative, you guys get to leave. I don’t care about you," Stidham said during a live Instagram video on December 9. "We’re going to snip those people out and let them know that this is a place of positivity. …We have to zap those people." 

    Several days later, she ordered her followers to "delete" the "trolls" while critical comments trickled into a live video she was filming at a LuLaRoe Christmas party.

    DeAnne live

    "We don't care, sorry. Go be snarky with someone else," Stidham said on December 13, as she responded in real time to viewers' comments. "Ain’t nobody gonna take your crap. Sorry! Don’t want ya! ... Ain't nobody like you, nobody wants to be your friends."

    "If you see anybody that’s a troll, you guys: delete 'em, delete 'em, delete ‘em!"

    Stidham's "trolls" appear to primarily consist of current and former LuLaRoe consultants who have been reaching out directly to her about problems, such as overdue refunds and the company's inability to fulfill clothing orders. This is according to hundreds of comments reviewed by Business Insider on Stidham's Instagram feed.

    Read more:Dozens of LuLaRoe sellers claim the company repeatedly charged them for products it never delivered and failed to refund them for the missing goods

    As she makes a public spectacle of blocking these critics, Stidham — or someone else with access to her account — has been systematically deleting dozens of unflattering comments from her Instagram page. 

    More than 40 comments were deleted from a single post in November, for example, after consultants flooded Stidham's page with concerns over a line of holiday-themed leggings that LuLaRoe had just launched.

    Some sellers said they were unable to order the leggings because they sold out within minutes. Others complained about significant problems with the sizing of the leggings. 

    "I love this company and love all of the changes taking place but this launch and the last month has been so disorganized and just a disaster," said one remark that was later deleted.  "I think what is most necessary at this point is telling us what exactly is going on. ...We are all individual businesses and our wholesale supplier is not able to fill our orders."

    Another deleted comment said: "As a small business owner I feel like our voices are not being heard and we are being ignored."

    Read more:LuLaRoe is facing mounting debt, layoffs, and an exodus of top sellers, and sources say the $2.3 billion legging empire could be imploding

    A third comment came from a woman who said she is in treatment for breast cancer and was counting on income from the holiday leggings to support her family through the holidays.

    "It has been quite the roller coaster with your company," she said. "I've endured so many failed launches, crappy prints, poor quality clothing, and broken promises," this woman said. "Here I am trying with all my might to continue to provide for my family, relying on my supplier to come through. ...Now, I have nothing."

    The author, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said the comment was deleted and she was blocked from accessing Stidham's Instagram account. 


    Former LuLaRoe consultant Emily Morrison Belanger, who manages a chiropractic office in North Carolina, said she was also blocked by Stidham's account in November after she posted a comment accusing Stidham of "ruining families" with "lies."

    The comment was deleted and she received a private message from Stidham's Instagram account saying, "Wow should I post about chiropractic quacks too! Is this nice and what's your motive? Try KINDNESS it's always better!" Immediately following the message, she was blocked from accessing Stidham's account. 

    In addition to slamming her critics, Stidham has ordered her followers to "protect" her on several occasions.

    "Protect me. If there’s any negativity here I need you to protect me and you guys, pull them off and report them, OK?" she said on December 8. "You guys I don’t need negativity and I’m not going to stand for it."

    Stidham has also urged her followers not to believe any news about the company. Following a Business Insider investigation into LuLaRoe in November that found the company was facing mounting debt and an exodus of top sellers, Stidham claimed to have not read the investigation, then referred to it as  "silly," "ridiculous" and "stupid."

    "Don’t listen to the article," she said in an Instagram video on November 21. "Just ignore it."

    Read more:LuLaRoe faces a probe by the Washington State Attorney General's Office, sources say

    A couple weeks later, the company's chief supplier, Providence Industries, filed a $49 million lawsuit against LuLaRoe that claimed the company hasn't paid its bills in seven months. LuLaRoe has denied the claims in the suit

    Meanwhile, DeAnne told her followers in a live video on Dec. 8 not to "look at the Internet" to "see what's happening" because they might get "sidetracked."

    Instead, consultants should focus on placing more frequent orders with LuLaRoe, she said.

    "Stick with what you know best, and that is that you can sell items," she said. "I talk to some retailers that say sometimes they place two or three orders a day... and I think that’s really kind of a good idea."

    LuLaRoe did not respond to a request for comment on this story. 

    SEE ALSO: LuLaRoe faces a probe by the Washington State Attorney General's Office, sources say

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