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The latest news from Life
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    your healthcare burden in every state 2017 map

    The cost of healthcare keeps on rising, and a new report shows just how much of a squeeze it's putting on family budgets.

    Researchers at The Commonwealth Fund added up the cost of health insurance with the size of deductibles, or how much people would have to spend if they got sick before their insurance kicks in. They then compared that dollar figure with median incomes in every state. 

    You can think of the resulting figure as providing a rough measure of the financial burden of healthcare spending in every state. The burden is growing because healthcare costs are increasing faster than incomes.

    Nationwide, the combined cost of insurance premiums and deductibles was about $7,240, or about 11.7% of income, in 2017. A decade ago, it was 7.8% of the median income.

    The researchers, Sara Collins and David Radley, used data on the health insurance plans typically offered by employers, which are the most common type of coverage for people under age 65.

    As you can see in the graphic above, the states where healthcare has the potential to eat up the most of a family's earnings are concentrated in the South and Southwest. In Louisiana, the combined cost of premiums and deductibles is equivalent to 15.5% of median income. In Mississippi, it's 15%. Those states face a combination of relatively high health costs and lower incomes.

    Hawaii faces the lowest total cost, at 7.8% of median income. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This animation will make you think twice before going to work sick

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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.

    The best workout leggings

    • When it's cold outside, you need a good pair of workout tights to keep your muscles warm and protected.

    • Sweaty Betty makes the best women's workout tights you can buy. Not only do they look great, but they're made to last through intense workouts day in and day out.

    It’s tights weather again, bless up. Not only does that mean that it’s okay to leave your home in naught but an oversized sweater and yoga pants, but it also means that you’re probably putting away your athletic shorts in favor of your longer athletic wear.

    I’m always thrilled to have the opportunity to try on new pairs of workout tights. Not only do they generally make your butt look unreasonably good, but they’re also remarkably multipurpose. A great pair of tights can go straight from the gym to your night out, which is the type of multitasking that I want my clothes to be able to do.

    When considering what new tights to add to your closet this season, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. First, what sort of exercise are you most likely to engage in? Some tights are better suited for yoga, while other well-ventilated options may be best for your long runs.

    You’ll also want to consider the length of your tights. While some women prefer their legs to be fully covered during their workout, you may prefer a slightly cropped look. To that end, you’ll want to keep in mind the multifunctional aspect of your tights — I’ve always found that full-length wear is easier to transition into streetwear than the cropped variety.

    Another thing to think about in your purchasing process is sustainability. An increasing number of companies are ensuring that their tights are ethically made and environmentally friendly. If you’re constantly replenishing your tights supply, you should probably look toward a company that’s doing its part to keep the Earth healthy even as it manufactures large quantities of athletic wear.

    Finally, of course, price point is important to consider. While dropping a pretty penny on workout gear almost always feels worth it, you probably don’t need that fifth pair of $150 leggings to sweat in.

    Here are the best workout tights that women can buy:

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

    The best workout tights for women overall

    Why you’ll love it: For tights that make you look and feel almost unreasonably good, the best place to go is Sweaty Betty.

    If you go to the gym to see and be seen (hey, no shame), then you’ll want to be wearing something that makes you look as confident as you feel. And here to help you do just that is Sweaty Betty, whose Zero Gravity tights will never fail you — either in form or in function.

    Not only are these leggings shockingly light so that you can take them with you on work trips and vacations alike, but they’re also extremely effective in sculpting your backside. I’m not entirely sure how Sweaty Betty manages to create tights that make your bum look quite so bodacious, but whatever they’re doing, it’s working wonders.

    I’m a huge fan of the 7/8 Run Leggings, a black pair with just the right amount of eggplant and neon accents down the side of your legs, creating an elongating effect. This particular pair is designed with 80% opacity, so while they’re great for running or HIIT workouts, they’re less suitable for hot yoga.

    All of Sweaty Betty’s bum-sculpting leggings are constructed with a unique Italian fabric that is not only lightweight but also sweat-wicking with killer compression technology to keep you in place no matter how tough your workout. Because the fibers are hydrophilic, they’ll keep sweat away from your body, and will also help the tights dry faster — whether it’s after a turn in the laundry machine or after a hard run.

    Despite wearing and washing my leggings on what is likely a too-often basis, I’ve yet to wear these leggings down. They may feel incredibly delicate and breathable, but rest assured, they’re much hardier than you think. So even if you’re paying $135 a pair, you’ll have these leggings for years on end.

    Pros: Fantastic bum-sculpting, extremely lightweight, sweat-wicking, breathable

    Cons: 80% opacity means you’ll want a different pair for yoga, expensive

    Buy Sweaty Betty Zero Gravity Leggings for $135

    The best flattering workout tights

    Why you’ll love it: For workout tights that make you look good from the second you put them on, check out Boom Boom Athletica.

    Boom Boom Athletica was founded by an ultra-marathon runner, so it comes as no surprise that the workout tights from this line are about as high-performance as you can find on the market. That said, what may surprise you is just how flattering these pieces really are.

    Boom Boom Athletica’s entire line is edgy and functional, but its tights are particularly adept at sculpting your body and giving off that enviable hourglass shape.

    Recently stocked at Nordstrom, Boom Boom Athletica’s workout wear is made from premium moisture-wicking fabric that dries quickly to keep you cool and comfortable, four-way stretch fabric that welcomes motion and has UPF properties, and compressive designs.

    I’m a huge fan of the Tricolor Panel Leggings, not only because they’re wildly soft and great to work out in but also because they’re extremely aesthetically pleasing. Cleverly placed mesh paneling and flattering geometric patterns make these tights some of the best in my wardrobe.

    The brand’s leggings are of the high-waist variety and feature a thick waistband and a figure-flattering pattern. As Insider Picks reporter Mara Leighton wrote previously, the moisture-wicking fabric dries quickly, smooth flatlock seaming minimizes rubbing and irritation and only helps streamline silhouette, while the antimicrobial fabric helps inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria. They fit true to size.

    Pros: Incredibly flattering, very soft, comfortable for all workouts

    Cons: At $115 a pair, these are not inexpensive leggings

    Buy the Boom Boom Athletica leggings for $125, available in Black/Grey/White

    The best warm workout tights

    Why you'll love it: For mornings and evenings that are not just chilly, but windy, too, you’ll need a pair of tights like Reebok’s new Thermowarms to keep you cozy throughout your workout.  

    There’s a reason you’re meant to warm up before working out, and in much the same way, you want to stay warm throughout your workout. While you can normally maintain your body temperature simply by upping your activity level, on particularly cold days and nights, this may be a bit more difficult to do. Enter Thermowarm, a new technology from Reebok that’s meant specifically for the chilly weather to come.

    These newly designed tights are built especially for running and are comprised of a performance fleece that feels remarkably soft on your skin. Not only does it feel great, but the fabric insulates against the elements, too. When wind chill sends temperatures into negative ranges, you’ll be thankful to have a pair of Thermowarms around.

    In addition to the warmth provided by the fabric, these tights also feature woven panels on the front to shield your legs from strong headwinds. With the addition of a secure stash pocket, you can keep keys, cash, and other essentials on your person throughout your workout.

    The Thermowarm fabric has the added benefit of being sweat-wicking, which helps maintain a higher body temperature, and the addition of fleece and woven fabrics directly into the spandex help to make this a particularly comfortable pair of tights. An internal drawcord helps keep a secure fit around your waist, while 360-degree reflectivity keeps you safe during the evening hours.

    Pros: Extremely warm, offers protection from headwinds, sweat-wicking, comfortable

    Cons: Because these tights are so warm, they’re not exactly all-weather friendly

    Buy the Reebok Thermowarm tights for $70

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    stocking stuffers main

    Not everyone in your life, like your friendly neighborhood mailman or the kid cousins you only see once a year, is going to receive a fancy gift from you this year. However, you might still want to give them a small token of love and appreciation during the holidays because it's simply a nice thing to do.

    Before you tackle the big-ticket gift purchases on your list for your mom, dad, or significant other, it's easier to start small with the stocking stuffers you can buy by the armful. Under $10 is just about as affordable as you can get with gifts, but this low price point doesn't mean your stocking stuffers can't still be useful, thoughtful, and unique. 

    These 31 affordable stocking stuffers, from handy tech accessories to personal care staples, are far from throwaways.

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

    DON'T MISS: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    SEE ALSO: 20 cool gift ideas from 'Shark Tank' that you can find on Amazon

    A stylish and reusable shopping bag

    Baby Baggu, $8, available at Baggu and Amazon

    The mini version of Baggu's original best-selling bag is the perfect size for grocery store pick-me-ups or their daily lunch. 

    Cute lid lifts that allow steam to escape so their pots won't boil over

    Tovolo Farm Animal Pot Lid Lifts, three for $9.89, available at Amazon

    Add a little personality to their kitchen with these heat-resistant silicone lid lifts. They're also available in sheep and smiley-face varieties. 

    High-quality, matte prints of your favorite memories together

    Everyday Print Set, from $8, available at Artifact Uprising

    Physical prints are always thoughtful and appreciated. Artifact Uprising's easy-to-use photo editor helps you check off your gift list in no time. 


    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Donald Trump Russia

    • President Donald Trump has often claimed he has "nothing to do with Russia," but that's far from the truth. 
    • Trump's efforts to lay down his name in the Russian capital stretch back more than 30 years. 
    • According to Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, the president's most recent attempt to break ground in Moscow was a drawn-out process that lasted well into the 2016 presidential campaign season

    President Donald Trump is adamant that he has no financial interests in Russia.

    "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me," he tweeted in January 2017. "I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!"

    But a glimpse at his actions over the last few decades paints a quite different picture, one that shows a concerted effort by the real-estate mogul to lay a foundation for the Trump name in the heart of Moscow.

    Trump's business ties to Russia jumped back into the spotlight this week, after his former longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, admitted that he lied to Congress about the extent of the Trump Organization's push to open a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 election.

    Prosecutors said 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 last year and that "he briefed family members" of Trump within the Trump Organization about it.

    They also said Cohen admitted to pursuing the deal as late as June 2016, after Trump became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

    After Cohen's stunning revelations about the timeline of discussions on building Trump Tower in Moscow, Trump tweeted that he "lightly looked" at "doing a building somewhere in Russia." But the president added that he "didn't do the project" and claimed he made no verbal or financial commitments. The defunct Moscow project is just the latest in a long history of the president trying — and failing — to make his mark in the Russian capital.

    Here's a rundown of Trump's attempted business dealings in Russia:

    • Trump's interest in doing business in Russia was first piqued in 1986, when he met the Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin and they began discussing building a "large luxury hotel across the street from the Kremlin in partnership with the Soviet government," as Trump recounted in his 1987 book, "The Art of the Deal."
    • Trump traveled to Russia in 1987 to survey potential locations for his hotel as landmark policies like perestroika and glasnost made the Soviet Union more open to foreign investments.
    • Trump in 1988 said the hotel plan failed because "in the Soviet Union, you don't own anything. It's hard to conjure up spending hundreds of millions of dollars on something and not own."
    • Trump went back to Russia in 1996 and announced a plan to invest $250 million in Russian real estate and slap his name on two luxury residential buildings. 
    • Trump boasted about his plan when he met the Russian politician Aleksandr Lebed in New York in 1997, telling Lebed, "We are actually looking at something in Moscow right now ... Only quality stuff. And we're working with the local government, the mayor of Moscow, and the mayor's people. So far, they've been very responsive ..." The plan never came to fruition.
    • But that wasn't the end of Trump's connection to Russian money. According to The Washington Post, the real estate mogul began seeing significant returns from Russian investments in US properties bearing the Trump name in the 2000s.
    • A Reuters investigation last year found that at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida, for instance.
    • Reuters noted that its tally of Russian investors may be conservative. At least 703 — or about one-third — of the owners of the 2,044 units in the seven Trump buildings are limited liability companies, or LLCs, which have the ability to hide the identity of a property's true owner.
    • In the mid-2000s, the Trump Organization partnered with a company called the Bayrock Group, contracting it to pursue a development deal in Moscow. This effort was led by the Russian-born businessman Felix Sater, who's become a key figure in Mueller's investigation and Cohen's plea deal.
    • In 2005, Sater found a former pencil factory he thought could be converted into a high-end skyscraper, and was in discussions with Russian investors about it. The deal ultimately fell through, but Sater continued to maintain a relationship with the Trump Organization. 
    • At a real estate conference in 2008, Donald Trump Jr. discussed the family's attempts to break into the Russian business world. "As much as we want to take our business over there, Russia is just a different world,” he said at the time. "It is a question of who knows who, whose brother is paying off who...It really is a scary place." Trump Jr. at that point had traveled to Russia a number of times, including a 2006 visit with Sater his sister, Ivanka Trump, and Sater.
    • At the 2008 conference, Trump Jr. also said, "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets." He explained that despite the difficulties his family had in trying to build in Russia they were still determined to keep pushing for it. In the 18 months prior to the conference, Trump Jr. made six trips to Russia.
    • In 2013, Trump traveled to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant. During the visit, he said, "I have plans for the establishment of business in Russia. Now, I am in talks with several Russian companies to establish this skyscraper."
    • In 2015 and 2016, Cohen and Sater teamed up in an attempt to put up a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen said discussions on the plan lasted until June 2016, which was after Trump had clinched the GOP nomination for president.
    • Cohen was in touch with the office of Russian President Vladimir Putin's press secretary over the matter, which reportedly included a plan to offer Putin a $50 million penthouse in the tower. Those talks fell through as well and the plan eventually crumbled.  

    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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    Beto O'Rourke Rally

    • Beto O'Rourke of Texas and Andrew Gillum of Florida, both rising Democratic stars and potential 2020 candidates, recently met with former President Barack Obama in his Washington offices. 
    • Obama endorsed Gillum during his gubernatorial bid this year and praised O'Rourke last month, saying the former senate candidate reminds him of himself.
    • Both O'Rourke and Gillum, who ran strong, but unsuccessful races for Senate and governor, have declined to say whether they'll run for president in 2020. 

    Beto O'Rourke of Texas and Andrew Gillum of Florida, both rising stars in the Democratic Party from purple and red states, met with former President Barack Obama in his Washington offices in recent days, stoking speculation that the two will launch 2020 presidential bids. 

    The three-term El Paso congressman — who nearly unseated GOP Sen. Ted Cruz last month — met with Obama on Nov. 16, the Washington Post reported, while the Florida mayor who narrowly lost his state's gubernatorial race met with the former president on Tuesday, according to multiple news outlets. 

    O'Rourke, 46, was by far the best-funded and most competitive Democrat to run statewide in Texas in years, and he would have been the first elected statewide in nearly a quarter of a century. His campaign, which attracted huge national attention and raised more money than any other senate bid in US history, sparked widespread hope among Democrats that he'll channel his popularity into a presidential ticket.

    Obama publicly praised O'Rourke last month, telling his former top adviser David Axelrod that the Texas politician reminded him of himself and inspired voters because he's authentic in his convictions. 

    "What I liked most about his race was that it didn’t feel constantly poll-tested," Obama said during a podcast discussion with Axelrod. "It felt as if he based his statements and his positions on what he believed. And that, you’d like to think, is normally how things work. Sadly it's not."

    Read more: 'I'm so f---ing proud of you guys': Star Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke concedes defeat to Ted Cruz in impassioned speech after his devastating loss

    O'Rourke, who said last week that he's considering a 2020 bid despite repeatedly saying otherwise on the campaign trail, reportedly declined Obama's offers to record robo-calls and stump with O'Rourke and decided against using a video Obama recorded endorsing him during the senate campaign.

    The congressman has expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of endorsements from politicians outside of his home state and rarely utilized surrogates on the campaign trail, but he did receive a series of high-profile endorsements from celebrities, including Beyonce, LeBron James, and Ellen DeGeneres. 


    Gillum, 39, also attracted national attention when he stunned the state by beating out an array of wealthy primary opponents and waged an aggressive and deeply progressive campaign for governor against the Trump-endorsed Rep. Ron DeSantis. 

    It's unclear what Gillum and the former president discussed in DC this week, and Gillum has declined to elaborate on his thoughts about a presidential run. 

    "I plan on being married to my wife. That is all I am planning," Gillum said in response to questions about 2020 during an event at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in Washington this week. "What I am committed to doing between now and 2020 is doing everything I can to make the state of Florida available and winnable for the democratic nominee for president."

    Obama has also reportedly met with other potential 2020 candidates, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu. 

    SEE ALSO: 'I'm so f---ing proud of you guys': Star Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke concedes defeat to Ted Cruz in impassioned speech after his devastating loss

    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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    BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 30: U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during the plenary session on the opening day of Argentina G20 Leaders' Summit 2018 at Costa Salguero on November 30, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images)

    • Trump said he plans to terminate NAFTA, setting off a firestorm among lawmakers.
    • But both key Republicans and Democrats agree that he has no such legal authority.
    • Lawmakers also warned of the "disruptive" economic effect that a sudden NAFTA withdrawal could have.

    WASHINGTON — Key Republicans and Democrats are in agreement that President Donald Trump does not have any legal authority to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in an effort to force Congress to swiftly consider his new deal with Canada and Mexico.

    Members of the Senate Finance Committee told INSIDER that Trump cannot just shred NAFTA, but would instead have to consult with Congress, where he would no doubt face significant hurdles without a concrete and agreed upon replacement already in place.

    Read more:Republicans are freaking out about Trump's massive new tariffs

    "I'll be terminating it within a relatively short period of time. We get rid of NAFTA. It's been a disaster for the United States. It's caused us tremendous amounts of unemployment and loss and company loss and everything else," Trump told reporters this week. "That'll be terminated. And so Congress will have a choice of the USMCA or pre-NAFTA, which worked very well."

    Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters that Trump has no legal authority to withdraw, and he would require consent from Congress.

    "The simple fact is NAFTA was enacted through legislation. It requires legislation to repeal it," Toomey said. "The bizarre thing about the administration’s contention is they acknowledge that if they changed one word in NAFTA they have to come back to Congress to get it approved, but somehow they can strike the whole thing and they don’t need Congress for that? That makes no sense and it is not consistent with the legislation."

    And Toomey's feelings are felt across the political aisle. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, told INSIDER the Constitution's separation of powers is clear as day that Congress is in charge of NAFTA.

    "Up at the White House, they ought to take out a copy of the Constitution. Article 1, Section 8, is very clear that Congress has the power to regulate foreign commerce and there’s also a Congressional Research Service analysis that supports it," he said.

    The CRS analysis Wyden mentioned has stated any withdrawal would require congressional approval.

    Wyden also said Trump is exhibiting lack of confidence in his United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) proposal.

    "If the president was really confident that his trade proposal was going to work, he wouldn’t be playing this kind of brinkmanship and trying to throw this kind of muscle around," he said.

    And Toomey suggested the president's rhetoric about wanting to tear up NAFTA is an attempt to kick-start consideration of the USMCA, but that it is a poor strategy to begin with.

    "It appears the president is trying to say, 'you know it’s this or nothing.'" he said. "But when he doesn’t have the legal authority to enforce that choice, it's not a very good strategy."

    But some suggested there is room for some kind of NAFTA dismantling by Trump, as long as he meets certain criteria.

    "The president is given substantial authority in all of our trade dealings. But it’s not without restrictions," Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told INSIDER. "In other words, certain factual findings are necessary first."

    "As is often in the case, what the president proposes to do has to fit within a larger framework of what is legally permitted under the treaty," she added.

    A rapid withdrawal from NAFTA could have devastating effects on the economy

    In terms of the risks of a NAFTA withdrawal, Warren said the US needs a new deal to replace it, but without the risks of igniting a catastrophe that could devastate the economy.

    "Look, we need a different NAFTA, but that means sitting down and negotiating for a NAFTA that works for American workers, small businesses, and farmers," she said. "Not just unilaterally just trying to start yet another trade war."

    Toomey took a harder stance, saying a sudden or even timetabled withdrawal without a replacement could force the US economy into a downward spiral.

    "It would be extremely disruptive," Toomey told INSIDER. "The markets would go haywire, I mean supply chains would be very, very disrupted. It’d be very harmful to the economy, to jobs in the United States."

    Toomey has reiterated his sentiments to White House officials, but not yet to Trump.

    "So it’s not a good policy," he added. "But as I say, I simply reject the idea he has the authority to do it."

    SEE ALSO: US senators furious with Saudi Arabia after classified briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Lindsey Graham once warned there would be 'holy hell to pay' if Trump fired Jeff Sessions

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    happy people in coffee shop

    • If you're looking for a new job, you might want to check out companies where employees are happier than the norm. 
    • Glassdoor has released its annual ranking of the best places to work, which takes into account its database of 45 million company reviews provided by anonymous current and former workers
    • Tech companies dominated the listing, but plenty of firms in healthcare, consulting, manufacturing, and food got kudos for their excellent workplace cultures


    The average American spends some 90,000 hours at work during their lifetime, but 80% are outright dissatisfied with their work

    For that overwhelming majority, the secret to job satisfaction might just be a new company. Glassdoor, a job site with 45 million company reviews, has just released its annual Employees’ Choice Awards for the Best Places to Work. 

    The rankings are compiled from anonymous employee feedback that former or current workers can provide right on Glassdoor. To compile the listing, Glassdoor scans their massive database of company reviews.

    Workers writing a company review are asked to assess the pros and cons of working at the company, growth opportunities, compensation and benefits, culture and values, senior management, work/life balance, if they would recommend the workplace to a friend, and the company's six-month business outlook. 

    Those reviews are compiled in Glassdoor's awards algorithm, which also assesses the quality of reviews represented in its ranking. 

    Then, companies receive a score on a scale of one to five — five being the highest. The scores have been rounded to the nearest tenth in our article, while Glassdoor ranked the companies by looking at their score rounded to the thousandth. The employers on this list scored between 4.2 and 4.6 on Glassdoor; the average company rating is 3.4.

    Many of these companies in the list of large US workplaces (having more than 1,000 employees) are Bay Area tech firms. Of the 100 workplaces, 23 have headquarters in San Francisco, and 29 are in tech. 

    That's because tech firms are facing a major labor shortage and are keen to woo employees with excellent work cultures, Glassdoor chief economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain told Business Insider.

    Read more: The 50 best places to work in 2018, according to employees

    But you don't have to be a techie to enjoy the benefits of an excellent workplace, which often includes mission-driven company cultures, smart coworkers, transparent senior leadership, great compensation and benefits, and work-life balance. 

    "To work at a company that treats you ethically and gives you good pay and benefits, you don't necessarily have to be in tech," Chamberlain said. "There's something for everybody."

    What's more, you don't even need to be in an office job or to have a college degree to work at a company that will treat you right. In-N-Out Burger, Trader Joe's, lululemon, and other employers powered by associates all topped the list, as well as healthcare providers that are largely staffed by nursing assistants and similar roles. 

    Here is a countdown of the best 50 workplaces, along with their headquarters location, a description of the company from Glassdoor, and a quote from a current or former employee. You can see all 100 companies on Glassdoor.

    SEE ALSO: Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are worth more than $100 billion — see how they spend it, from trapeze lessons to a 600-foot 'air yacht'

    DON'T MISS: 16 things you should never wear to work — even if you work in a business casual environment

    50. Crowe

    Score: 4.3 

    Headquarters location: Chicago

    Crowe is an accounting, technology, and consulting firm.

    "Very flexible work environment, with the ability to work remotely as needed. The company also strives to push career advancement of every employee." Crowe audit business analyst

    49. Johnson & Johnson

    Score: 4.3 

    Headquarters location: New Brunswick, New Jersey

    Johnson & Johnson is a biotech and pharmaceuticals company. 

    "Great people, great culture, and the company really cares about their employees. Really good work life balance and flexibility to work remote."Johnson & Johnson manager 

    48. SpaceX

    Score: 4.3 

    Headquarters location: Hawthorne, California

    SpaceX is an aerospace company dedicated to making human life on Mars possible. 

    "SpaceX believes in its employees and its missions so much, that they invest in you and you invest in the company. All our employees are owners of the company."SpaceX employee 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    A great pair of boots is an absolute must for the fall and winter, and Nordstrom has a wonderful selection for men and women.

    While you could shop their new arrivals, Nordstrom's sale section is full of hidden gems. There, you can find deeply discounted styles, ranging from classic Chelsea boots to chukkas to snow boots, from top brands like UGG, Timberland, Hunter, Cole Haan, FRYE, and more.

    To help you sort through all the options, we rounded up 30 boots for men and women that you can buy on sale right now at Nordstrom. If you're also looking for great deals on clothes, accessories, and even home goods, check out the rest of Nordstrom's sale section.

    Shop men's boots at Nordstrom here >>

    Shop women's boots at Nordstrom here >>

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

    DON'T MISS: 25 cold weather wardrobe staples for women we swear by for our own closets

    Men's J&M 1850 Karnes Brogue Cap Toe Boot

    J&M 1850 Karnes Brogue Cap Toe Boot, $136.90 (Originally $229) [You save $92.10]

    Men's UGG Dalvin Zip Boot with Genuine Shearling

    UGG Dalvin Zip Boot with Genuine Shearling, $129.90 (Originally $260) [You save $130.10]

    Men's Cole Haan Tyler Chukka Boot

    Cole Haan Tyler Chukka Boot, available in two colors, $149.90 (Originally $250) [You save $100.10]

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    williams sonoma $19.95

    The Star Wars franchise has captivated and continues to captivate audiences of all ages around the world. Nearly everyone can identify at least one person in their lives who loves the epic space story and has watched each of the movies a dozen times. 

    Thanks to the franchise's long-lasting and universal popularity, there are more than enough Star Wars products to go around, from props and clothing to decor and books. Finding a Star Wars-related gift isn't the hard part — finding one that's creative and unexpected is. 

    You can surprise them this year with one of these 27 Star Wars gifts they don't already have. As you'll see, there is a wide range of ways to incorporate new and interesting galactic fun into their lives. 

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

    SEE ALSO: 31 cool tech gifts for the home that suit every kind of budget

    DON'T MISS: 34 cool stocking stuffers you can get on Amazon for under $20

    A Darth Vader figurine that's also an alarm clock

    Clic Time LEGO Darth Vader Alarm Clock, $22.99, available at Amazon

    What makes this alarm clock even more fun is that they can move the arms and legs to make Darth Vader sit or stand on their night stand. When they push down on his head to snooze the alarm or check the time, he lights up with a red glow. 

    Super comfortable underwear that also glows in the dark

    Men's Star Wars Boxer Brief, $24, available at MeUndies

    Women's Star Wars Bikini, $18, available at MeUndies

    One of MeUndies' many Adventurous prints is not only a fun group of Star Wars characters, but it also glows in the dark for extra quirkiness. We love its soft and stretchy micromodal underwear so much, we recommend MeUndies as some of the best underwear men and women can buy. 


    Mugs shaped like a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader

    Darth Vader and Stormtrooper Ceramic Mugs, $19.99, available at Target

    They'll feel like they can conquer the morning just like Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers after sipping their coffee from these ceramic mugs. 


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    teabox $85.50, 3 months

    By now, the idea of a subscription box service is far from new. It remains, however, an excellent gift choice because there's one for pretty much every interest and hobby you can think of. It's also easy to purchase online and send — no pesky gift-wrapping necessary. 

    The best subscription services provide unique discovery opportunities, curate high-quality brands, and automate everyday routines to make life easier. We think the following subscriptions fit the bill and should be on your gifting list this year.

    With some, you can buy a gift card to apply toward a plan of their choice, while with others you can designate the subscription duration and details yourself. 

    Find a subscription service gift they'll love, below. 

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

    Harry's: the razors and accessories needed for a close and comfortable shave

    Gift a Harry's custom shave plan here

    The gift of a clean, smooth shave is more cherished than you might think. Harry's full line of shaving products work together seamlessly, and you can customize this combination of blades, creams, foaming gels, and post-shave balms to send to your recipient. 

    Hint: delicious, healthy waters that kick their soda habit

    Gift the Hint Flavor of the Month Club, $16.99/month

    Fans of this flavored water stock it in their pantries by the caseful. The calorie-, sugar-, and GMO-free water comes in refreshing flavors like mango-grapefruit and blood orange, which they can rotate through with this drink subscription. Anyone who's bored with regular water but wants to stay hydrated and healthy will look forward to each month's delivery. 

    Causebox: products for the socially and environmentally conscious

    Gift a Causebox membership, $199.80/year

    Causebox curates ethically made, vegan, and charitable products from the top socially conscious brands in beauty, fashion, wellness, home, and art. Each quarterly box has a retail value of more than $200 but only costs $49.95 and has the added benefit of doing good — for artisans, the environment, and your body. 

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    • Uniqlo's Ultra Light Down Seamless Parka is only $69.90 but delivers the warmth of a much more expensive product.
    • This jacket is very thin, it weighs less than a pound, and it can be rolled into a compact pouch for easy storage while traveling.
    • Fall weather requires a jacket that is warm without being too heavy, and this jacket delivers on that with its lightweight, flattering cut.

    I spent my college years in upstate New York, an area known for its frigid winter temperatures. Naturally, weeks before my first year began my mom insisted on taking me shopping for winter essentials — think heavy jackets, snow boots, and fleece gloves. 

    Shopping for winter jackets in the summer can be quite trying, especially when you're a teenager who wants nothing less than their mom telling them what to do. So, when my mom insisted I buy this Uniqlo jacket after a draining day of trying on too much down and wool, I said fine, packed it in my bag, and brought it to school with me. Shortly after, I ended up losing it at a party without much thought.

    Fast forward two years, I was about to head off to study abroad in Spain. With limited packing space for four months abroad, I needed a jacket that would keep me warm for my travels throughout Europe without taking up too much space in my suitcase. I thought back to the Uniqlo Ultra Light Down jacket I had lost two years ago, yes the one my mom insisted I buy but I could have cared less about, and realized it was just what I needed. There began my love story with this jacket — and I have never worn it to a party, or let it get lost, since.


    If you are looking for a heavy-duty winter coat, one that can withstand below freezing temperatures, this is not it. What this jacket is, though, is a thin down layer that is deceptively warm and very affordable at about $70.

    While there are a few styles, I have the Ultra Light Down Seamless Parka. It's hard to imagine that this coat could provide any substantial warmth from just looking at it. The jacket itself weighs less than a pound; Uniqlo compares the weight of the jacket to the weight of three eggs. But, surprisingly, this super thin jacket is pretty warm.

    The shell is 100% nylon and it's filled with 90% down, with a fill power of over 640. Fill power refers to the quality of the down used and a higher fill power correlates with a greater ability to retain heat. So, even though this jacket is very light, the high fill power means it provides a substantial amount of warmth for its weight.

    The jacket comes in many colors and a simple, fitted cut that will complement anyone. This can be credited to the vertical quilting Uniqlo uses to achieve a more flattering look. Of course, I think this jacket is better used for function than fashion, but the fact that it's nice looking is a plus.

    I tend to size up in down jackets, as I like having the ability to layer as much as I want underneath my coat in order to stay warm. In wanting to keep with the fitted look of this one, I stayed with my regular size  and I still am able to fit a few layers beneath the coat comfortably.

    What sets this jacket apart for me is that it can be rolled into a small pouch for easy storage and portability.

    Each jacket in the collection is accompanied by a drawstring nylon pouch which, when used, transforms your jacket into a light, compact little cylinder. It easily fits in a backpack, larger pocket, or even a purse. When I traveled abroad, this feature became especially useful as I usually only travelled with a small carry on bag, even for longer trips. In attempting to pack smarter, some items had to go, but this small jacket always had a place in my luggage. For the warmth it gives, I would have given up even more of my suitcase space to keep it with me, but luckily it barely takes up any room at all.


    It should also be noted that his jacket has a water-repellent coating, but is not weatherproof. It is enough to withstand light rain and snow, but can't promise to keep you dry in a monsoon. I have got caught in heavy rain in this jacket before, and while it doesn't compare to a slick windbreaker, it does a decent job of keeping out the water. The jacket itself absorbs most of the water, making it wetter and heavier, but for the most part your body and any layers of clothing you are wearing underneath won't be sopping wet. When you zip the jacket all the way up and put on the hood, the hood does a good job of covering your face, which I feel is one of its best features for more severe weather conditions like wind and snow. Again, though, this isn't a rain jacket or ski jacket and it isn't trying to be.

    This jacket sits in my closet sandwiched somewhere between my heavy-duty winter parka, which provides tons of warmth and insulation, and my denim jackets, which provide barely any. This jacket is a happy medium perfect for brisk fall days, when the average temperature is somewhere around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. When it gets colder, this jacket can easily be worn over a heavier sweater or under a larger coat. I go with the former combination often, layering a T-shirt and sweater under this coat for added warmth.

    It's hard to now imagine my resistance to buying this piece those five years ago, but I am so glad I made the choice to re-purchase. For fall, winter, and spring, this jacket is now a staple of mine. It's not the warmest jacket I own, or the best-looking, but at only $69.90 it's the best value I've found and a product that now has a forever hanger in my closet.

    Buy the women's Ultra Light Down Seamless Parka, $69.90

    Buy the men's Ultra Light Down Seamless Parka, $69.90

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

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    Subscription boxes are the gifts that keep on giving.

    Whether you subscribe for three months or 12, you're essentially giving several gifts but without the hassle of shopping and wrapping each one.

    And to save you even more time and effort, Amazon has stepped up its subscription box game. Not only does the site literally have all of the things, its subscription box service has kits for every need and budget.

    Beauty fans, snackers, kids, pet owners — it's all there. And each month has a different theme so they're never getting the same products twice. It's basically the holidays every month, and they have you to thank for that.

    If you're going to give a subscription box this season, these 18 are all great choices.

    And if you're looking for more gift suggestions, check out all of our gift guides here.

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

    READ MORE: 22 unique gift ideas for everyone in the family — all from Amazon

    DON'T MISS: 22 useful and fun gifts for coffee lovers they don't already have

    FaceTory: sheet masks they can do every weekend

    FaceTory: FOUR-ever FRESH, $8.90 - $19.90/month, available at Amazon

    Treat them to a four-pack or seven-pack of facial masks every month. The types of masks range from basic cotton sheets to hydrogels so there's a good range of products they can try and explore.

    MexiCrate: Mexican candy for their sweet tooth

    MexiCrate, $11.99 - $21.95/month, available at Amazon

    For a bold taste of Mexico, gift them a box of Mexican candies that hit all the right spots: sweet, spicy, salty, and sour. The Liker box includes one pound of candy, while the Lover box has a whopping three pounds.

    Bean Box: best-in-class coffee from Seattle and Portland

    Bean Box, $26/month, available at Amazon

    Every month, they can try out another amazing coffee brewer from Seattle and Portland. There are six types of boxes to choose from — light roast, medium roast, dark roast, espresso, decaf, and an "All Roasts" option. Each box comes with a 12-ounce pouch of freshly roasted whole beans, tasting notes, and at-home brewing tips.

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    france yellow vest protest

    • Yellow vest protesters took to the streets across France on Saturday, in what quickly devolved into violent clashes with police.
    • The demonstrators began by protesting a planned fuel tax hike weeks ago, but participants have continued even after the French government canceled the increase.
    • The protesters continue to be outraged over French President Emmanuel Macron, economic inequality, and worsening living standards.

    For the fourth weekend in a row, yellow vest protesters took to the streets across France to demonstrate against President Emmanuel Macron, high taxes, and economic inequality.

    The weekly protests have steadily grown more violent, and French officials said by the end of Saturday, dozens were injured and hundreds arrested.

    Thousands of police officers were deployed to control the riots, eventually firing tear gas and rubber bullets, and repelling demonstrators with water cannons.

    Here's how the clashes unfolded:

    The so-called "Yellow Vest" movement was first sparked weeks ago, when protestors began demonstrating against a planned fuel tax increase.

    Many of the demonstrators are working-class or impoverished residents of France.

    In response to the growing outrage and violence, Macron eventually backed down and canceled the fuel tax increase on Wednesday.

    Source: The New York Times

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    best mouse pad

    • Mouse pad surfaces affect how your mouse tracks. Soft pads increase drag for more precision and hard surfaces allow for quicker movements.

    • The SteelSeries DeX's unique 3D texture reduces drag so your mouse tracking is fluid and responsive, but it's also soft for hours of comfortable use, virtually eliminating the trade-off between comfort and speed.

    Most people probably don't think too much about mouse pads. Given modern mouse technology, this is actually quite understandable. Old-school ball mouses (remember those?) were barely usable without a good mouse pad, but the optical sensors on today's mouses are much more forgiving when it comes to working surfaces. As long as it's smooth and flat, it'll probably work.

    Nonetheless, if you've ever used an optical mouse without a pad for an extended period of time, you've almost certainly realized what you were missing. A smooth, tactile surface is still a necessity — even with the greatly enhanced sensitivity and accuracy of optical mouse sensors — whether you're doing precise tasks like graphic design and gaming, or just tackling another long day of working on the computer.

    Whereas ball mouses generally required a softer surface for traction, sensitive optical sensors have given rise to a growing number of mouse pad designs that offer different benefits. When it comes to pad surfaces, there's a general trade-off between speed and accuracy: Softer or rougher textures will create more friction than a hard, slick surface, allowing for more precision (as well as creating more drag), whereas a smoother mouse pad will allow for quicker movements (such as while playing a fast-paced video game, for example) at the cost of accuracy.

    In other words: Your mouse will move faster on a hard/smooth surface, thus making it easier to make large cursor swipes quickly, and it'll move more slowly on a soft surface, thus giving you more precise control over your cursor. How much this matters to you really depends on your needs. Gamers are admittedly more fussy about this stuff than most people. Also note that softer mouse pads will naturally be more comfortable to use for long periods of time than hard ones.

    Whatever your needs, we've covered just about all the bases below. These picks include everything from a no-nonsense budget-friendly mouse pad to ones featuring the latest innovations in surface design, so if you're looking to upgrade your setup or just replace an old worn-out mouse pad, then be sure to read through them all to see which one is right for you.

    Here are the best mouse pads you can buy:

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

    The best mouse pad overall

    Why you'll love it: With a unique 3D-textured surface that reduces friction despite its soft hand-feel, the SteelSeries DeX mouse pad solves the age-old problem of having to sacrifice comfort for responsiveness.

    As mentioned the intro, you generally have to make a compromise between friction and comfort when selecting the right mouse pad for your needs. A soft mouse pad might be more comfortable, but it will create more friction on your mouse, requiring you to do more work to glide it around. A harder surface won't have that "give" to it, allowing the mouse and therefore the optical sensor to glide more freely, but it's less precise and will be harder on your wrist in the long run.

    Our favorite, the SteelSeries DeX, reinvents the common mouse pad with a unique design that all but renders this dilemma solved. It has a unique 3D surface that is comfortable to use while reducing friction and increases your mouse's responsiveness. Instead of cloth or foam padding, the DeX is made of a soft rubberized polymer with a slightly raised texture. This results in a mouse pad that's easy on your hand and wrist, but the 3D surface greatly reduces the actual contact area between the pad and your mouse, thereby mitigating drag.

    The soft pad material is also completely waterproof and fully washable, and the edges are heat-bound so the DeX won't fray like many cloth mouse pads do after while. The great design of the SteelSeries DeX comes at a price, though. At around $40, it's the most expensive of our picks.

    It's nonetheless the closest thing to a perfect mouse pad that you can buy, and well worth the money. The durable polymer should last a long, long while, too. Don't be surprised if you see other companies copying the design of the DeX in the future.

    Pros: The unique 3D texture reduces surface contact between mouse and pad for more fluid and precise tracking, the soft rubbery polymer is comfortable and waterproof, heat-sealed edges prevent cracking and fraying, and no obnoxious branding

    Cons: It's expensive at around $40

    Buy the SteelSeries DeX mouse pad on Amazon for $37.99 (originally $39.99)

    The best mouse pad with wrist support

    Why you'll love it: For wrists that need a little more comfort than a normal soft mouse pad can give, the 3M Precise mouse pad features a gel-filled wrist rest that provides some much-needed relief at a price that's just as easy on the wallet.

    Unless you specifically want the increased movement speed of a hard working surface, then soft mouse pads are generally the best option for most people, especially if you're sitting at a computer for extended periods of time. Even a soft mouse pad can become uncomfortable after hours of use, though. Although the softer material might feel better on your hand, a flat pad still doesn't offer any real support for your wrist.

    Mouse pads with padded wrist rests, like our pick from 3M, are a popular and simple way to solve the problem of wrist pain. A number of padded designs exist today, but the 3M Precise mouse pad has a few features that put it well ahead of the competition.

    Firstly, the gel pillow's leatherette covering is softer and more durable than those of other ergonomic mouse pads. These typically have rubber- or cloth-covered gel pads that are more prone to cracking, pitting, leaking, or otherwise deteriorating over time.

    Secondly, the 3M Precise mouse pad offers more than just increased hand comfort: This pad also features 3M's patented surface design that's purpose-built for optical mouses. This flat, micro-grooved layer sits on top of the soft non-slip base underneath, providing enhanced tracking for optical sensors. This results in smoother, more responsive cursor feedback compared to standard cloth-surfaced mouse pads, which haven't changed much since the days of ball mouses.

    The 3M Precise mouse pad is cheap, too, and the model without the gel-filled hand rest was almost our "best budget" pick. This particular gel-padded design rings in at just $17, making it the second most affordable selection on our roundup and a great choice if you're on the fence about buying an ergonomic mouse pad and don't want to spend too much money to try it out.

    Pros: Durable leatherette-covered gel-filled wrist rest for added comfort, the 3M Precise micro-grooved surface enhances optical mouse feedback, and it's highly affordable

    Cons: The pad is prone to curling slightly at the edges over time

    Buy the 3M Precise mouse pad with gel wrist rest on Amazon for $17

    The best oversized mouse pad

    Why you'll love it: If you're looking for an oversized desk mat to serve as a rest for both your keyboard and mouse, then the Glorious PC Gaming Race extended mouse pad has everything you need at a price point that's hard to beat.

    Mouse pads have come a long way since the '90s, and not just in terms of surface designs and materials: They've grown in size as well. Oversized pads, often referred to as "mouse mats" to distinguish them from their smaller counterparts, serve a number of purposes: They give your hands and wrists a soft place to rest upon whether you're mousing or typing, prevent your keyboard from sliding around, and protect the surface finish of your desk.

    Our favorite, the Glorious PC Gaming Race mouse mat, has everything we like. Its soft and tactile surface feels great and tracks beautifully, and unlike many other cloth mouse pads, this mat has a stitched frame around the edges that prevents warping and fraying.

    The standard pad measures in at three feet long by 11 inches wide, giving you plenty of surface area for your keyboard and mouse, while its size and rubber base secure it in place on your desk. There are even larger options, too: the XXL and XXXL.

    The mat's soft surface is an open fabric, so it will absorb dirt and anything you spill on it more readily than other designs. The Glorious PC Gaming Race mouse pad is washable, though, either by hand or in a machine on a gentle cycle (air drying is recommended), and keeping it clean is not a problem. Just know that it's going to require it at some point like any cloth mouse pad.

    The Glorious PC Gaming Race extended mat is also a solid value starting at $24, which is a great price for something of this size and quality.

    Pros: Soft and comfortable cloth surface, anti-slip rubber base, stitched edges prevent fraying, multiple sizes available for just about any desktop setup, and it's a great value at $24 for the standard mat

    Cons: The non-sealed fabric collects dust and dirt more quickly than some others

    Buy the Glorious PC Gaming Race extended mouse mat on Amazon for $23.99

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    American Flag USA US

    The US is a huge, diverse country, and the characteristics of the states that make it up vary widely.

    We used 38 demographic, social, and economic indicators that cover several aspects of American life, mostly from the US Census Bureau's recently released 2017 American Community Survey estimates.

    We looked at how far away each state was from the average of each of those metrics among the states and Washington, DC. Adding those distances together, we found an overall "averageness" score for each state and DC.

    Read more:See our method and detailed sources for this ranking

    Here's all 50 states and DC, ranked from least to most average, along with some of the metrics for which they were outliers or average.

    SEE ALSO: Here's how much the typical millennial, Gen X, and baby-boomer worker earns in every US state

    51. Washington, DC

    What's average: The 90.2% of residents of DC with at least a high school diploma was very close to the average share among the states and DC of 89.5%.

    What's not average: The nation's capital is demographically and economically very different from the rest of the country, largely because it's a city with no suburban or rural areas. For example, DC's median age of 34.0 years is much lower than the average of 38.4 years, and its median household income of $82,372 was the highest in the country.

    50. Hawaii

    What's average: About 92.1% of households in Hawaii have access to at least one car, right in line with the average rate of 92.2% among the states and DC.

    What's not average: Hawaii's median home value of $617,400 was the highest in the country, and, perhaps not surprisingly, the 9.3% of Hawaii residents who self-identified as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander was by far the largest share among the states and DC.

    49. California

    What's average: California's poverty rate of 13.3% was just above the average rate of 13.1% among the 50 states and DC.

    What's not average: California's median gross monthly apartment rent of $1,447 was the third-highest in the country. Only 83.3% of California residents had at least a high school diploma, the lowest rate among the states and DC.

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    • 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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    best gel pillow

    • Gel pillows are ideal for people who need extra support to deal with neck and back pain, as well as for people who run hot but like to sleep cool.

    • The Coop Home Goods Eden Gel Foam Pillow is our top pick, thanks to its support and cooling and because it can be adjusted for ideal custom comfort.

    I can't speak for you, but I'll say that the first time I lay my head down on a gel pillow, I wasn't immediately sold. Far from it, in fact. Upon initial contact, many gel pillows feel too firm and even a bit unusual, with a rubbery texture that's a far cry from the feathers or fabric stuffing to which most of us are accustomed.

    But then my head settled down into the foam, and soon I found myself feeling a level of comfort and support almost unknown in those low-tech pillows I'd used all my life. Also, I who fog up car windows and often sleep without even sheets while my wife is under a down comforter stayed relatively cool throughout hours of use.

    So while standard pillows feel soft and snuggly at once, they don't offer much actual neck and back support and they often heat up. Gel pillows tend to hold their shape, offering all-night support, and they stay relatively cool thanks to the gel's propensity to draw heat in and away from your body.

    Are there drawbacks? Sure. Each time you shift with most gel foam pillows, you need a moment to sink in again to reestablish ideal comfort. And also some of them are a bit pricey. Do the benefits way outweigh those minor issues? Oh yeah. At least, if hours of comfortable sleep followed by a day during which you feel well-rested matters much to you.

    In selecting the best gel pillows you can buy, we factored in everything from price to shape to intended use. Some are ideal for cervical support (spinal support, e.g.), while some are great at keeping you cool. Others still have all the bases covered, though you'll need to pay for that level of quality and capability.

    Here are the best gel pillows you can buy:

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

    The best gel pillow overall

    Why you'll love it: The Coop Home Goods Eden Gel Foam Pillow is comfortable, cooling, and customizable — you can remove its filling until it's just the right density for your preference.

    The Coop Home Goods Eden Gel Foam Pillow is sort of a best of both worlds situation. Most gel foam pillows are essentially solid blocks of viscoelastic memory foam that either have a layer of cooling gel material or that have gel infused into the foam itself.

    This unique gel pillow does indeed use a gel-infused memory foam, but it's not a solid block of the material. Rather, the pillow is stuffed with hundreds of little bits of gel foam, thus the best of both worlds. When you first put your head down on this pillow, you will settle into it much like with a feather or synthetic fill pillow.

    So comfort right off the bat? Check. The more time you spend lying down with your head, neck, and shoulders on the Coop Home Goods Eden Gel Foam Pillow, the more you'll start to realize that gel foam isn't just a term bandied about by the fat cats in the pillow industry. This stuff actually does draw more heat away from your body than feathers or polyester could ever hope to.

    Thanks to the shredded gel memory foam fill, the airflow throughout this pillow is unrivaled. Thus you enjoy that immediate comfort and all night cooling.

    With more than 400 reviews logged on Amazon at the time of this writing, the Coop Home Goods Eden Gel Foam Pillow has a solid 4.4-star rating. One shopper speaks for many when she calls it the "best pillow" she has "ever owned," saying they help her and her husband "sleep all night and wake up without any aches or stiffness."

    A writer from RealMattressReviews loved that users can "adjust the fill" to create ideal custom comfort and noted the "lighter, fluffier feel" of this pillow compared to most gel pillows.

    Pros: Custom adjustable fill, immediately comfortable, backed by satisfaction guarantee

    Cons: Less supportive than solid pillows

    Buy a Coop Home Goods Eden Gel Foam Pillow on Amazon for $69.99 and up

    Buy the Eden Pillow at Coop Home Goods for $69.99 and up

    The best gel pillow for side sleepers

    Why you'll love it: If you sleep on your side, your head and neck need a specific kind of support for comfort, and the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Contour Breeze Side-to-Side Pillow provides it perfectly.

    When you sleep on your side, you are asking a lot of your spine in the name of comfort. In fact, you are asking your spin to align itself in a way that it doesn't really want to align, namely bent sideways at the neck. This hardly bothers some people, but for others it can cause pain both acute and chronic.

    But if sleep on your side you must, whether for everyday comfort, during pregnancy, or after an accident that requires specific positioning during recovery, do your spine a favor and get the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Contour Breeze Side-to-Side Pillow.

    With your head and neck cradled by the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Contour Breeze Side-to-Side Pillow, a pillow purpose-built for supporting side sleepers, your spinal column will be kept in line and without undue stress.

    Beyond cervical ergonomics, your head will sink down into the memory foam and be cradled all night long. Also, a layer of cooling gel set near the surface of the pillow will keep you nice and cool during all those hours of ergonomic spine support.

    Most shoppers who chose this pillow were thrilled with their choice. An owner named Penny called it "supportive and comfortable" and said it far outperformed others she had tried, while a gentleman named Bruce said it helped him "maintain a straight neckline" all night long.

    A writer from NYMag called the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Contour Breeze Side-to-Side Pillow loved the "cooling gel layer" that served "hot-headed sleepers" so well.

    Pros: Provides ergonomic spinal support, lasts for multiple years, washable knit cover

    Cons: Quite expensive, too firm for some users

    Buy a Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Contour Breeze Side-to-Side Pillow on Amazon for $165

    The best low-cost gel pillow

    Why you'll love it: The PharMeDoc Contour Cooling Foam Pillow will keep you cool and supported for about half the cost of most comparable gel pillows.

    How can the PharMeDoc Contour Cooling Foam Pillow cost only 20 bucks, about half the price of many comparable gel pillows — and less than a quarter of the price of some options on our list — yet still provide decent neck support and cooling? Well, it's a bit on the small side, at 14 inches by 20 inches. And it's too firm for some people. All in all, though, this pillow punches well above its price point.

    Its gel-infused memory foam offers excellent head and neck support, and its two long axis have slightly different heights — four inches and five inches — so you can choose the rise that best suits your neck.

    Also, unless you need to constantly move around to achieve ideal comfort or you have a particularly large head, the fact that this pillow is smaller than standard pillow size isn't much of a problem, and you'll soon get used to it. Besides, in case this part isn't crystal clear yet ... it costs less than 20 dollars.

    Most reviews of the PharMeDoc Contour Cooling Foam Pillow are glowing, such as that left by a customer named Elsie who called it "just right" for providing the "support [she] needed as a side/back sleeper."

    A number of people did note its smaller size, though, which can be an issue when pairing it with standard pillowcases.

    Pros: Great low price tag, two height options, supports neck and head

    Cons: Notably smaller than standard pillow

    Buy a PharMeDoc Contour Cooling Foam Pillow at Walmart for $20 (originally $40)

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Dubai Travel On A Budget (2 of 79)

    • The city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is known for its extravagant, newly built landmarks like the Burj Khalifa, the Palm Jumeirah, and the Dubai Mall
    • But those landmarks have little to do with Dubai's history as a major trading city at a crossroads between Asian and Middle Eastern trading routes.
    • To see that history, you have to visit the city's many souks, or marketplaces, and talk to many immigrants — from India, Pakistan, Egypt, and elsewhere — that work in them.
    • The craziest of the souks is the Gold Souk, where you can purchase elaborate, handmade gold pieces for tens of thousands of dollars. There's even a 141-pound gold ring that sells for approximately $3 million.

    If you were to listen to most travel guides on Dubai, you'd think the desert city materialized out of the air a decade ago.

    The city exploded in prosperity after United Arab Emirates discovered oil in 1966,, leading to a development boom that has resulted in the world's tallest building, the second-biggest mall, the most luxurious hotel, and more skyscrapers than any city besides New York and Hong Kong.

    But Dubai was settled as a port city in the early 1800s, where it became a center for fishing and pearling, and a crossroads of sea and land trade routes through Asia and the Middle East.

    That trading history has left behind a legacy of souks, or open-air marketplaces native to the Middle East and North Africa. These are loud, colorful places where traders from dozens of nationalities hawk their wares, as your senses are attacked from every direction.

    Dubai has a lot of them: one for spices, one for perfumes, and another for clothing. But the most extravagant is the gold souk, where people come from all over the world to get a deal on that sweet yellow nugget. 

    As Nada Badran, a Jordanian who has lived in Dubai for most of her life, told me, the souks are the key to understanding Dubai. 

    Here's what it was like to visit them:

    SEE ALSO: I stayed at a hotel on Dubai's massive artificial island shaped like a palm tree and it's more surreal than any photos can show

    DON'T MISS: I visited outlandishly wealthy Dubai, known as the 'city of gold,' and was surprised by how much fun you can have even without billions

    After a couple of days in Dubai, I felt like I was having a hard time finding the city's local culture. So I met up with Nada Badran, who hosts "Wander With Nada" on CNN Arabic. Badran agreed to take me through Dubai's many souks.

    Dubai's mega-projects like Palm Jumeirah, the world's largest artificial island, and the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, may be cool, but they have little to do with the culture.

    "A lot of people visit and say that Dubai has 'no soul' but that's so far from the truth," Badran told me. "You just have to put in the effort to look for the culture."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    TRV   Main & Villa One Infinity Pools Evening

    • The Resort Villa in Thailand offers guests private access to a 150,0000-square-foot property that includes seven villas and a full-time staff of 60 people. 
    • The resort was recently dubbed "the world's best private villa" by the Boutique Hotel Awards.
    • The property is two hours outside of Bangkok— the biggest international tourist destination in the world — and prides itself on its privacy.

    The world's best private villa is an unlikely destination: It's a two-hour drive from the world's biggest international tourist destination.

    But you wouldn't guess it from the looks of things inside The Resort Villa, where privacy is key. Seven villas, four bars, and nine dining areas are spread out across 150,000 square feet of property.

    The resort beat out other five other candidates in the Maldives, Spain, South Africa, Fiji, and St. Barthelemy, respectively, to win the award. It also unseats Over Yonder Cay in the Bahamas and Coco Prive in the Maldives, which jointly won the award in 2017.

    Read more: The top 14 boutique hotels in the world

    Thailand has long been a tourist hotspot, largely in thanks to its stunning beaches. In fact, Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, was recognized as the most popular city in the world for international tourists for three years in a row. And, earlier this year, the iconic Thai bay featured in the movie "The Beach" was permanently closed due to long-term damage caused by tourists.

    The Resort Villa, however, is located in the non-commercial area of Rayong and prides itself in offering respite from highly tourist-trafficked areas.

    Keep reading for a tour of the property:

    SEE ALSO: A luxury resort in the middle of the jungle in Bali was voted as having the world's 'most stunning views' and the view from the pool shows why

    READ MORE: 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

    The Private Villa is located in Rayong, Thailand, on the Gulf of Thailand. It's about a two-hour drive from the closest airport in Bangkok.

    Source: Google Maps

    The 150,000-square-foot property has seven private villas and can host up to 14 people at once.

    Source: The Resort Villa

    It's a mere five-minute walk from the beach ...

    Source: The Resort Villa

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    peanut allergy medicine

    • 2019 could be the year of the first treatments for kids with peanut allergies.
    • Two companies are competing for a market of around $3 billion. Both are seeking approval from US regulators to start selling their products.
    • The treatments aren't a cure, but do reduce the risk of a dangerous allergic reaction to peanuts.
    • Some parents say they prefer one product over the other, but it has a key drawback.

    Josh Mandelbaum, 13, has a secret.

    For five years, a small circular sticker on his back, around the size of a quarter, has contained the very thing that the New Jersey teen is allergic to: peanuts.  

    The patch is part of a growing trend that aims to use triggers like peanuts to help those with allergies. The aim is to desensitize them and act like a kind of guard rail against accidental exposure

    You might soon be able to get a prescription for these treatments. The patch and another first-of-its-kind peanut allergy pill could be approved by U.S. regulators as early as next year, and both have the potential to be blockbuster medications.  

    About 15 million people in the U.S. have food allergies to things like milk, eggs and wheat. Peanut allergies are the most common food allergy among kids, and have been on the rise over the last decade. The market for the treatments is huge, and eventually could reach around $3 billion in total sales, according to Stifel analyst Derek Archila. 

    Doctors currently have little to offer patients besides advising them to avoid what they’re allergic to and always carry an EpiPen or product like it to rescue them if they have a life-threatening allergic reaction. Moreover, those with peanut allergies are less likely to outgrow it than other food allergies, and it’s hard to predict how severe an allergic reaction might be.

    A treatment, not a cure

    The new approach has worked for Josh, his mother, Lianne Mandelbaum, who is also a food allergy advocate, told Business Insider. Josh first tried out the product, DBV Technologies’ Viaskin Peanut, as part of a clinical trial years ago.

    In the beginning, as part of a “food challenge” used in the trial, Josh had an allergic reaction after eating the equivalent of a fraction of a peanut, Lianne Mandelbaum said. Two-and-a-half years later, it took much more, about one and a half peanuts, to spur a reaction.

    While that may sound like a tiny change, it's made a huge difference in how Josh lives his life. He can now confidently go to school and sit in a cafeteria that serves peanut butter, for instance, his mother said.

    The patch isn’t a cure: Josh continues to avoid peanut products, for example, and has to be careful about accepting food that could be unsafe. But it's been empowering, she said, and given them peace of mind. 

    "I just don’t want him to die from eating the wrong cookies," she said. "We live in a human society. Humans make errors. That’s why you want a safety gap."

    Mandelbaum was so pleased with the results that she fought to let Josh keep using the patch after the trial ended, through an expanded access program. The only side effects he’s seen have been itchy red welts, which have eased over time.

    Josh would wear it for the rest of his life if he has to, she told Business Insider.

    DBV Viaskin Peanut patch, peanut allergy, food allergies, peanut allergy treatment

    How it all came together

    People with allergies are usually advised to keep away from what they’re allergic to.

    But controlled exposure, called immunotherapy, has also been part of allergists’ arsenal of tools for many years now, including through allergy shots for pollen, mold, dust and more.

    Physicians in private practice have also tried this with peanuts and other food allergies. In what’s called “oral immunotherapy treatment,” patients eat small amounts of peanut or another allergen, which increases over time.

    Though these have had success, they aren’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and may not be covered by health insurance. And, like other immunotherapy approaches, they have risks, including the chance of an allergic reaction.

    The search for a more standardized approach eventually led to the creation of Aimmune, which is developing AR101, a capsule of peanut protein that is mixed into food.

    When the company was first started, the big question was “how do you take a food, which is inherently variable and highly unpredictable, and make it into a medicine?” Dr. Daniel Adelman, Aimmune’s chief medical officer, explained.

    The company has done that by focusing on peanut protein, which is where the allergens in the nut are, and using that to re-educate the immune system, he said.

    Seeking FDA approval

    Dosing of AR101 starts at a very low level, or half a milligram of peanut protein, and then increases over about six months to 300 milligrams, or roughly the equivalent of one peanut kernel. Patients then continue on at that level as a maintenance dose.

    Aimmune aims to file with the FDA this month for approval to treat patients ages 4 to 17; a decision could arrive by early fall of 2019. DBV filed for FDA approval of Viaskin Peanut in October to treat patients ages 4 to 11, with a decision expected next year.

    The products could potentially reduce a life-threatening allergic reaction to a milder one, giving patients, their loved ones and their doctors an added layer of safety, Dr. Purvi Parikh, clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone and a board-certified allergist, told Business Insider.

    If they are found to be safe and effective, they could dramatically change patients’ quality of life, Parikh said, reducing an untold amount of anxiety and stress for them and their families.

    But which company could end up leading the space is more unclear. A group of doctors polled by Stifel's Archila slightly favored DBV’s product, he said, though the analyst also noted that there has been controversy over DBV’s clinical trial data.

    Some parents of children with allergies told Business Insider that DBV’s patch seemed safer to them, because it doesn’t require actually eating an allergen. The company also touts this as a potential benefit on its website, saying that its approach “offers a potentially strong safety profile because of how it works via the skin.”

    Read more:An experimental treatment for peanut allergies just succeeded in a key trial

    Tamara Hubbard, a licensed counselor whose nine-year-old son is taking part in an ongoing trial for the patch, called the product “life-changing.” She was initially drawn to it over other options because the process was slower and avoided gastrointestinal side effects, Hubbard said.

    A giant question mark

    On the other hand, those on the patch likely won’t know exactly how much allergen they can tolerate, because — absent completing a “food challenge” — they wouldn’t be eating it.

    Which product a family chooses will likely thus depend on their own preferences, Hubbard, who specializes in food allergy counseling, among other things, said.

    Aimmune’s Adelman also emphasized the latter perspective in an interview with Business Insider.

    “I think that the biggest danger to a child who is peanut allergic is going out into the world and thinking they are protected if they’re not,” he said.

    Pricing — another giant question mark hovering overhead — could also be an important factor. The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, a nonprofit that evaluates drug prices and, is still reviewing the products and plans to release reports on them in the first half of next year. 

    The companies haven't said how much the drugs will cost.

    Parents, meanwhile, said that they hope everyone who wants these products can get them.

    “Everybody who has food allergies deserves to have access to lifesaving treatment,” food allergy advocate Mandelbaum said. “It should be available to everybody.”

    Join the conversation about this story »

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