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United just banned 'emotional support animals' on long flights — and science is on the airline's side


therapy dogs airport

  • United just barred emotional-support pets from flights longer than eight hours. Delta made a similar move last month.
  • Animals have been peeing, defecating, or mauling passengers onboard flights, and airlines are starting to crack down.
  • Unlike service dogs, "emotional support animals" are an unregulated group. There's little scientific evidence about what they really do for people.

Emotional support peacocks. Emotional support snakes. Emotional support hamsters.

People have brought all sorts of "support animals" into public places recently, arguing the creatures should be allowed to fly on planes or come into offices because they serve a mental-health purpose. 

But the trend has led to a spike in in-flight problems for airlines. Animals have peed, defecated, bit, and in at least one case mauled people on planes. So starting Monday, emotional support pets will no longer be allowed on any United flights longer than eight hours. (Delta adopted a similar rule last month.)

When it comes to the science behind the concept of a support pet, "the research is quite inconsistent on whether the animals really do anything at all," Forensic psychologist Jeffrey Younggren from the University of New Mexico told Business Insider.

FILE PHOTO: A peacock spreading its feathers is seen at the Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple, in Pathum Thani province, Thailand March 10, 2017. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom/File Photo

Younggren has spent years studying the trend of patients asking their therapists to sign letters certifying that they need an emotional support animal.

Overall, he said, scientists don't know if such pets do anything "other than make somebody happy."

But despite that lack of evidence, many therapists sign "ESP" letters for their patients, sometimes without even seeing the animals in action. 

"How can you say the animal does something if you've never seen them with a patient?" Younggren said.

New rules for United and Delta flights

As such signed letters get more common, some pet owners are using the designation as a way to let their pets fly on planes with them for free, and above the cargo hold. 

United says the problem is that many pets simply aren't ready to be cooped up on long flights. The airline is also cracking down on what kind of emotional support animals will be accepted on board: only dogs and cats are allowed now, and no young pups or kittens can come into the cabin. 

"We will no longer accept kittens or puppies under four months of age as emotional support animals, in-cabin pets or service animals on any flight, regardless of length," United said in a blog post, explaining the pets often haven't had all their vaccinations yet when they're so young.  

But there may be an unspoken reason that some United flyers choose to keep an emotional support pet above the cargo hold: in 2017, of the 24 animals that died in transit on US carriers, 18 perished on United flights, far more dead pets than any other airline. 

Meanwhile, Delta said it has seen an explosive 84% increase in incidents involving unruly animals since 2016. Last month, that airline was the first to announce a major crack down, with a similar eight-plus-hour flight ban and four-month-old support pet rule. No exceptions will be granted after February 1, 2019 on Delta, and all tickets purchased after January 3, 2019 on United are subject to the new rules.

Last year, Delta started requiring anyone flying with an emotional-support pet to sign a waiver stating that the animal can behave on a flight. The airline has also initiated other prior restrictions, including requiring proof of vaccination for the animals and only accepting certification letters from a doctor or mental health professional. 

What is an emotional support animal?

There's not much regulation about what constitutes an emotional support pet. People can buy their way into a designation pretty easily online for around $70.

Researchers in California looked at more than a decade of records of registered "assistance" dogs and found that from 1999-2012, there was a huge uptick in the number of smaller dogs, older dogs, and dogs used for psychiatric and medical assistance in the state. Those researchers said the study revealed a growing trend of "misunderstanding" and "misuse" of support dogs. 

Support pets are not the same as service animals. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal must be trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability, be it physical or psychiatric. Disabilities can include being blind or deaf, using a wheelchair, relying on a dog to remind you to take meds, or having a dog around in case of an anxiety attack.

Under federal law, only dogs and miniature horses weighing less than 100 pounds qualify for the "service animal" designation.

These trained animals are on the job and allowed to accompany their humans anywhere that members of the general public can go (including businesses, hospitals, and just about anywhere that's not a sterile operating room).

But the law is clear: "Service animals are working animals, not pets." The ADA even spells out that "dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA."

The Fair Housing Act, however, is a bit more lenient: It says that US tenants have a right to keep "assistance animals," including emotional support pets, in their homes even if a leaser has a strict no-pets policy. 

Therapy dogs are a third category of animal, and they're trained to help calm patients down during therapy sessions, usually in clinical settings. 

Animals can help people feel better, but they have to be trained

People who train and certify dogs to work with patients are worried about the growing number of untrained pets flying on planes.

dog and cat pets

Alice Smith, a client services coordinator at the PAWS dog training center in Florida, told Business Insider that untrained pets are giving real service dogs a bad name.

"There are people who just wanna be able to take their dogs with them everywhere, and they go online and buy a vest," Smith said. She added that if owners don't put in the six months to a year required to train an animal, the dog can end up barking and acting out in public. 

However, Smith believes dogs can help for people dealing with anxiety and depression. As a pet owner herself, she said she has benefitted from having dogs around when she's upset. 

"My dogs have just known it," she said. "They would come over to me, and get close to me, and as soon as I would pet them, I would calm down." 

Smith said there are likely many other people who'd benefit from having a furry, well-behaved friend nearby. She said she even fielded calls from students in Florida who were scared about getting on the bus after the school shooting in Parkland and thought a support dog might help. Other kids call the training center because they're getting bullied and want an emotional support dog to help them get through the day safely. Dogs can also help guide their owners to exits in a panic, or just lean into a person to calm them down in a crowd.

"They can feel that dog's pressure, and know the dog's there," Smith said.

But Younggren pointed out that some people are afraid of dogs or allergic to them. For those individuals, a flight alongside an emotional support pet could be an anxiety- or sneeze-provoking experience.

It boils down to a simple, well-known problem, he said: "People who love dogs think everybody loves dogs."

Update: This post has been updated to reflect new policies on Delta and United. Jeffrey Younggren, a forensic psychology professor at the University of New Mexico, was at the University of Missouri when this story was first published.

SEE ALSO: A $48 million submarine just took a record-breaking dive into the deepest corner of the Atlantic Ocean — 27,840 feet down

Join the conversation about this story »

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The best yoga blocks you can buy


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.

best yoga blocks

  • Yoga blocks can help you get into difficult poses and deepen your flexibility or simply provide the support you need.
  • Of all the yoga blocks we've researched, the HemingWeigh Cork Yoga Blocks are our top pick with their sturdy, attractive design and great price tag.

Yoga blocks are an important tool for yogis at any level. Whether you’re looking to deepen your flexibility, venturing into new pose territory, or just trying to go easy on your joints and muscles, yoga blocks are key. They help extend and lengthen your alignment when your flexibility doesn’t allow you to reach the floor or touch your toes, and they’re great modifiers when you’re not quite ready for a full pose. If yoga isn’t quite your thing, any kind of dynamic exercise routine can be customized for better strength, flexibility, or even injury prevention with a couple of yoga blocks on hand.

Picking the perfect yoga blocks may seem like a fairly straightforward decision, but there are a number of factors to consider.

  • What are your goals? If you’re looking to begin or deepen your yoga practice, you may benefit more from a yoga equipment bundle than a single yoga block. Or if your priority is working your way up to a specific pose, maybe your needs are better suited to a single basic block that will help extend your reach until your flexibility is more developed.
  • Cork or foam? Material is another consideration when it comes to choosing your yoga block. Many yoga teachers and educators sing the praises of cork yoga blocks, but other blocks are made from molded foam or recycled eco-friendly options. Depending on your personal preference, some yoga block materials may feel better to you than others. For example, foam blocks tend to be more malleable and even squishy, while cork yoga blocks are more sturdy and offer more stable surfaces.
  • How much do you want to carry? The material construction of a yoga block directly impacts its weight, as well. If you plan on traveling with your yoga blocks to and from the studio or the gym, the portability of a lightweight foam block may outweigh the squishy soft surfaces.

We studied yogi user reviews, product ratings, and top ranked lists all over the internet to come up with our Insider Picks guide to yoga blocks. No matter what you’re using them for and no matter what your goals are, there’s a yoga block on this list for you.

Here are the best yoga blocks you can buy:

Updated on 01/07/2019: Updated prices and formatting.

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

SEE ALSO: The best yoga mats you can buy

The best yoga blocks overall

Why you'll love it: The HemingWeigh Cork Yoga Blocks are made from an eco-friendly cork material with a slip-resistant surface layer to help you keep your pose in place, and you get a set of two.

One of the main reasons the HemingWeigh cork yoga blocks are at the top of our list is because of the material used to make them. Cork is one of the most durable, longest-lasting options when it comes to yoga block materials.

Reviews say the HemingWeigh blocks withstand frequent use and the typical wear and tear that comes with a good long yogi sweat. HemingWeigh’s yoga block cork material is 100% natural, so eco-friendly yogis can breathe easy. And, the non-slip surface means no awkward sliding around when you kick up into that standing split.

Each 9 x 6 x 4-inch block weighs one pound, so they're already lighter than some of their foam counterparts. Cork is less malleable than foam, which sometimes provides a more tactile sense of stability. Whereas foam blocks can be squishy or soft to grab and hold on to for balance, cork blocks are sturdy and firm, no matter how hard you press on them. With that said, the molded cork is still a soft, finished surface that’s comfortable to hold on to and lean on.

If you’re tempted to buy one block at a time instead of the full set, the HemingWeigh cork yoga blocks should be enough to change your mind. It’s reassuring to know that you’ll be resting both hands (or feet) on the exact same surface, at the exact same height, for a uniform assist that doesn’t distract from your yoga practice. What’s more, each of the two blocks will get an even wear as you use them as a pair over time. Piecing together a kit one block at a time starts to feel uneven by contrast.

For the more visually sensitive, these cork blocks are just plain attractive. Instead of funky colored foam blocks lying around your apartment or screaming for attention in your yoga class, HemingWeigh cork yoga blocks let you take a more minimalist, subtle approach to your yogi style. If you’re more used to practicing or working out at home, they’re not an eyesore in your living room or wherever you like to exercise.

Pros: Durable, eco-friendly cork blocks that come in a perfectly paired two-pack so you don’t have to worry about doing the uneven bars while you’re doing yoga

Cons: Cork blocks are heavier than their foam counterparts, so if lightweight portability is your priority the cork material might be a deal breaker

Buy the HemingWeigh Cork Yoga Blocks on Amazon for $25.99 (originally $29.99)

The best yoga blocks for getting back to basics

Why you'll love it: The Gaiam Yoga Block is comfortable to grab, soft to the touch, and heavier than most lightweight foam blocks for increased stability.

Gaiam is a respected name in the yoga world, so it’s no surprise that its basic yoga block is a popular choice. Simple as it may be, the Gaiam yoga block offers a ton of color options ranging from solid hues to printed and engraved designs, and even stacked color patterns. The foam surface can be washed with light detergents or your favorite yoga spray cleanser and can either be air-dried or towel-dried.

One of the common downsides to foam yoga blocks is their lack of long-term durability. Over time, the sweat and oils from your skin tend to build up on the surface of the foam, making them more slippery and less attractive to look at. Regular washing can usually help protect the surface for longer periods.

A lot of the appeal of foam yoga blocks is the soft, smooth surface that gives a little bit when you’re reaching for comfort or support in the middle of a stretch. But sometimes, foam blocks can feel flimsy when they’re super lightweight and portable. Gaiam yoga blocks combine that squishy foam surface with a weightier overall block. Each one weighs 1.5 pounds and measures 9 x 6 x 4-inches so you won’t have to deal with your blocks wobbling when you need them most.

Pros: Combining a little more heft and stability with the soft surface layer of a foam block will surely make a lot of yogis happy

Cons: If you’re looking specifically for a lightweight foam yoga block, this heavier foam version isn’t going to do the trick

Buy the Gaiam Yoga Block on Amazon for $9.99 and up (price varies — originally $20.50)

The best yoga block kit

Why you'll love it: The YogaRat Block and Strap Set also includes a cotton yoga strap so you can practice with your own equipment no matter where you are.

YogaRat’s block and strap set is a great start for beginner yogis, or anyone looking to personalize their yoga equipment instead of borrowing shared studio items. The YogaRat yoga block is lightweight and portable, and the surface is soft and squishy like many popular foam blocks. 

The 9 x 6 x 4-inch block is made of eco-friendly, non-toxic EVA foam, and the closed cell antimicrobial surface wicks away moisture instead of absorbing sweat. The block is easy to clean and it comes in a variety of different color options.

The YogaRat strap is woven from thick 100% cotton material and comes in as many colors as the block, so you can rock a matching set. At 1.5 inches wide and 8 feet long, the strap is a great addition to a block for yogis who are either just beginning or looking to deepen their practice. Straps can increase flexibility and help you reach into deeper stretching poses, and of course, you’ll have also have the block beside you for balance and stability.

Even in the most pristine yoga studios, sharing equipment can get a little gnarly. Instead of trying to block out the germy thoughts, taking a class with your own block and strap set is a great solution for the extra hygienic yogis out there.

Pros: Budget-smart option includes both a block and a strap for beginner yogis or anyone squeamish about sharing studio equipment

Cons: Lightweight foam is typically soft to the touch, so this isn’t a great choice for yogis that prefer a more sturdy block to hold on to

Buy the YogaRat Block and Strap Set on Amazon for $8 - $19.99 (price varies)

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Hollywood-style trailers, exclusive dinner parties, and 'Instagram museums': The CEO of a real estate PR firm dishes on how he sells multimillion-dollar mansions to the super-rich


insta penthouse


If you're looking to sell your multimillion-dollar Los Angeles home in a wildly unconventional way, you'll likely turn to one person: Alexander Ali, founder and CEO of PR firm The Society Group. His company is best known for the dramatic, Hollywood-style real estate trailers they've created to help sell multimillion-dollar homes.

Since 2015, the company has helped sell more than $500 million of real estate — including the Playboy Mansion —and their current portfolio is worth over $1.7 billion, according to the website.

"Just how a celebrity has a publicist, we make houses famous," Ali told Business Insider. "They can be a million dollars, they can be a billion dollars. That's our job. We become part of the conversation."

To do this, the Society Group has done everything from holding an immersive theatrical performance at a property and producing theatrical promotional videos, to throwing events such as Instagram museums and super-luxurious sit-down dinners for an exclusive group of 40 high net worth individuals.

opus trailer society group

For Ali, one of The Society Group's most memorable events was held at a $15 million penthouse in Santa Monica. The home was turned into an "Insta Penthouse," which he describes as a "1960s themed beach party meets Instagram museum." It included a trampoline photo booth on the roof, an art installation consisting of 1,000 yellow pinwheels, and a neon room.

Giant beach balls were put in every room, and the bathtubs were transformed into ball pits.

insta penthouse

"The whole point of this was to remind people of their childhood memories of the beach, while at the same time, pouring them a martini and selling the property," Ali said.

The penthouse sold in six days to a buyer whose agent found the home through Instagram photos posted from the event, Ali said.

Then there was the "Estate of Zen," where 40-something high net worth individuals were invited "into an Eastern world of subtle luxury" that included a dinner and live performances. 

"We always focus on a shared experience," Ali said. "I think that's really powerful word of mouth. If you can have people come together and share an experience, that's better than taking an ad out in the paper."

alexander ali

Ali's business is three-pronged. There's Property Society, which markets high-end homes like Hollywood movies; Soirée Society, which throws immersive events for high-end brands including Louis Vuitton and Moët & Chandon; and Social Society, which connects influencers and luxury brands to real estate.

Society Group is also overseeing marketing for "The One," an LA megamansion set to hit the market for $500 million in 2019.

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

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Join the conversation about this story »

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The best men's workout clothes you can buy


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.

best mens workout clothes

  • The right workout clothes may just convince you to hit the gym more often.
  • Vuori makes our favorite workout gear for men that is not only high performance but very comfortable, too.

The ladies aren’t the only ones who need workout clothes that are comfortable, functional, and look good at both the gym and on the go. After all, how’s a guy supposed to impress a date either at spin class or out on the town without a nice pair of shorts and a well-fitted tee? If part of your strategy in selecting workout gear is as much fashion as it is function, there are plenty of options these days that will help you look good at the gym.

Some of our favorite men’s workout gear is capable of taking guys on a wide range of activities. After all, your exercise regimen isn’t one-dimensional (and neither are you) so why should your clothes be any different?

We’ve come a long way from our high school gym rooms, and so too have the wardrobe options available to us. The new wave of men’s workout gear wants to help you perform your best by keeping you cool and comfortable. And while your gym clothes certainly ought to be ready for even the most strenuous of exercise regimens, they also need to be presentable enough for you to wear outside of your workout environment.

When determining what kind of workout gear you need to accommodate your lifestyle, you’ll need to consider the type of exercise you do most often. Clothes, after all, are just another tool that can either help or hinder you, so be sure you’re buying the right gear for the right activity.

Ability to withstand cycles in the washing machine will also be key to quality in terms of workout gear. Chances are, you’ll be sweating through these clothes a lot, and (hopefully), putting them in the laundry quite often. If you’re buying flimsily made clothing, you’ll have to replace them a lot more often.

Finally, you might want to consider how multi-purpose you want your clothes to be. Are you only going to wear those joggers to the gym, or are they also for lounging around? Is that long sleeve tee just as good for your run as it is for running errands on the weekend?

Today’s active gear ought to double as gear for an active lifestyle, so be sure that whatever you’re buying is capable of as many reps as you are. That said, regardless of what workout gear you choose from the following options, you’ll be in good hands.

Here are the best men's workout clothes you can buy:

  • Best men's workout clothes overall: Vuori
  • Best men's workout clothes for runners: Wolaco
  • Best men's workout clothes on a budget: MPG
  • Best men's workout clothes for dispelling odors: Rhone
  • Best men's workout clothes for comfort: Olivers

Updated on 01/07/2019 by Malarie Gokey: Updated prices and formatting.

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

SEE ALSO: The best workout clothes for women

The best workout gear overall

Why you'll love it: Vuori’s clothing is both lightweight and comfortable, which makes it a breeze to work out inside or outside during summer.

It’s obvious that Vuori takes its inspiration from the beach that’s just a stone’s throw away from its headquarters in Encinitas, California. The workout gear from this company may just make you think that you’re on the West Coast, what with its comfortable, lightweight fit.

In particular, we (which is to say my boyfriend, who served as my guinea pig for testing the shorts, and I) loved the Trail Short, an opinion that appears to be quite widely held by folks across the web and happy customers.

The Trail Short is the lightest weight all-purpose pair of shorts from Vuori. The shorts have an elastic waist, supportive Coolmax anti-odor liner, and an athletic fit. The shorts also come with front pockets and a back zip pocket, as well as an iPhone holder in the liner.

Running NW noted that the “fit and cut are definitely made by athletes,” pointing to the “construction and wear of [the] trail short” as evidence. Indeed, these did seem to be comfortable shorts to run in, as the soft material didn’t give way to chafing or any other unpleasantness. Reviewers on Vuori's website called the shorts “all around great,” and one went so far as to say that they were “hands down the best running shorts I’ve ever worn.”

Also beloved in the Vuori line are the Tradewind Performance shirt and the company’s perennially popular joggers. The Tradewind Tee is the company’s “most technical” in the lineup, featuring micro perforation for ventilation, flatlock seams, and a front chest pocket. The shirt promises to wick moisture and dry quickly, making it perfect for a run, a hot yoga session, or anything in between.

Delta Grade noted that the fit is “flattering” without being too “form-fitting,” and calls it a “very comfortable and subtle activewear shirt that can be worn to the gym or on any casual day.”

Pros: Supreme comfort, quick drying material, great for a wide variety of workouts

Cons: Some customers found that the shorts could be a bit restrictive due to narrow leg holes

Buy the Trail Short for $68

Buy the Tradewind Performance Tee for $48 

Shop Vuori workout clothes

The best workout gear for runners

Why you'll love it: If you’re a runner or into tight workout gear, it doesn't get much better than Wolaco.

While guys hitting the gym may want easy, breezy shorts with plenty of room, the same can’t be said for distance runners. And that’s where Wolaco comes in. The brand has long been a crowd favorite — it did, after all, get its start from the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Wolaco ultimately raised more than $120,000 from 1,465 backers and has since become a mainstay in the compression wear game.

Now, just three years later, Wolaco's clothes are available at the luxury gym Equinox. Its availability in gyms also gives people the opportunity to feel the fabric and check out the design firsthand, rather than relying on photos and testimonials.

Speaking of testimonials, we can’t sing Wolaco’s praises enough. Multiple Business Insider folks have tried and loved these compression shorts and pants, lauding both the availability of pockets and the durability of the material. And aesthetically, I have to say that the Wolaco compression shorts and tights alike look pretty damn good. They’re by no means obscenely tight, but do exactly what compression wear is supposed to do — keep everything in place while you get your exercise on.

Happy buyers have noted that the “quality of the materials and the workmanship [are] excellent.” And the folks over at Confessions of an Amateur Athlete noted that they “loved the color, fit, and even more, the convenient pockets.”

Wolaco offers its compression wear in four lengths: the North Moore short in a 6- or 9-inch inseam, or the Fulton pant in three-quarters or full length. If you’re looking to cover up even more, the High Line Hood is an excellent option. Supremely comfortable and clearly designed for running on cold days, this hooded long-sleeve shirt boasts  4-way-stretch as well as water, wind, and sweat-repellent construction.

Pros: Great for runners, durable fabric, moisture-wicking and fast-drying design

Cons: Some users reported fit issues, so be careful when reading the sizing guides

Buy the High Line Hood for $98, the North Moore Shorts for $50, and the Fulton pant starting at $75

Shop Wolaco workout clothes

The best budget-friendly workout gear

Why you'll love it: MPG Sport understands that working out shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg, and is creating gear that helps you live a financially responsible lifestyle.

Your gym membership is expensive enough, so your gym clothes don’t have to be. Luckily, MPG Sport agrees. Short for Mondetta Performance Gear, MPG offers a wide range of clothing and workout gear that won’t break the bank. 

Take, for instance, the Defender Performance Cashmere Shirt. Currently on sale for about $46 (try finding cashmere at a cheaper price), this shirt feels like luxury without the luxury price tag. But it’s not just the softness of the shirt that’s important — It's the benefits it gives you during your workout.

The mix of tencel, a recyclable and environmentally-friendly material derived from wood pulp, and cashmere helps you adapt to different temperatures. That means that you’ll be warm in the winter but remain cool and dry in the summer. Plus, with colors like Port and Navy Sky, this shirt can transition well from the gym to just about anywhere else.

Also noteworthy is the Premier 1/4 Zip Stink-Free Seamless Pullover, which is made from NILIT fibers to protect against bacteria build-up and sweat stench. Well-fitted and nicely tailored, this was another piece that looks great. And the best part? It’s on sale for $24.

If you’re looking for shorts or pants, MPG has you covered as well. The Hype 3.0 Essential 7-inch Short promises plenty of flexibility as well as moisture-wicking properties. A recent happy buyer noted that he loved the length “and how they fit for hard run workouts [and] gym leg workouts.”

Alternatively, if you need something a bit longer, you might consider the Industry Essential Fleece Joggers, which are surprisingly warm given how light they are. A happy customer noted, “When I look at my leisure wear I require two things: comfort and fit. These check both boxes. Great for heading into town; just as awesome for laying on the couch.”

Pros: Affordable prices, wide selection of products, fabric that is soft yet ready for a hard workout

Cons: The sheer amount of product might be overwhelming for someone shopping online

Shop MPG workout clothes for men

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

I visited Trump's childhood neighborhood on the outskirts of NYC, and it didn't take long to see why he's called it an 'oasis'


jamaica estates queens trump house

  • President Donald Trump grew up in Queens, New York City.
  • His family lived in a 23-room home in Jamaica Estates, a secluded, upper-middle-class community in Queens.
  • I took a tour to see what the neighborhood was like, and it was immediately clear why Trump has called the area an "oasis."
  • It was peaceful and secluded, filled with stately homes and quiet leafy streets. 


President Donald Trump grew up in New York City, on the outskirts of Queens.

Jamaica Estates, where he lived until age 13, is an affluent community, filled with stately homes and wide, tree-lined streets. 

"Different parts of Queens were rough; this was an oasis," Trump told the New York Times in 2015. He said Jamaica Estates "was safe — it was very family oriented."

I walked around the neighborhood and visited the two houses where the Trump family lived, and I immediately saw why he called it an oasis.

Here's what it was like.

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President Donald Trump spent his childhood until age 13 in Jamaica Estates, a wealthy community in Queens on the outskirts of New York City, at least a 45 minute drive from Midtown Manhattan.

Source: The New York Times

The neighborhood was partially built by the president's father, Fred Trump.

Instagram Embed:
Width: 540px

Source: The New York Times

I decided to visit the neighborhood to see what it was like. The train ride from my office in lower Manhattan took about an hour and 10 minutes. I got off at the Hillside Av/179 St. stop in Jamaica, Queens, at the end of the F train line.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The best snow shovels you can buy to defeat any snow bank that stands in your way


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.

best snow shovel

  • Shoveling snow might not be much fun, but it need not be a loathsome burden, either. All you need is a great snow shovel to help you get the job done.
  • The DMOS Alpha Shovel is our top pick because its serrated blade easily cuts into and lifts large blocks of snow and because the shovel disassembles and packs down small enough to fit in the trunk, in a closet, or even in a backpack.

Winter is great because of all the holidays, the seasonal beers, and of course the chance to romp about in the snow. But winter also has its drawbacks. On those days that are not holidays and on which we are not enjoying a few beers and romping, many of us are instead cursing our way through the frigid morning as we dig our car out of a snowdrift just so we can get to work. Shoveling snow is a task few people enjoy, but it's one that we can't well skip if we want to leave the house without snowshoes and/or a dogsled and team of huskies.

With the right snow shovel, removing all that wintry precipitation from your stoop, driveway, deck, and walkways need not be a daunting chore. A proper snow shoveling technique paired with a decent piece of hardware will make the process faster and easier, and will also reduce the chance of injury.

Which, by the way, is a concern not to be taken lightly: One major 2011 study concluded that during an average winter as many as 11,500 people end up in the emergency room after a snow shoveling-related injury. Lower back injuries are far and away the most common, representing more than a third of total injuries. Which is no surprise, really, because snow can be surprisingly heavy stuff.

An average cubic foot of snow weighs about 62 pounds. So after a heavy snowfall that dumps, let's say, a foot of snow on the ground, an average driveway alone (let's use 12 by 30 feet as our frame of reference or 360 square feet) might have as much as 22,300 pounds of snow piled up on it! So yeah, that's where the backache comes from.

How to choose the right shovel for you

When choosing the best snow shovel for your property, first think about yourself. If you have any physical issues caused by age, injury, or illness, then opt for a tool that uses wheels, focused leverage, or even a motor to help minimize the effort needed to move that snow. If you're healthy as a horse, a more traditional snow shovel might be fine, but you still need to consider the volume of snowfall you'll be facing and the terrain at hand.

Even a fit person can be overwhelmed by hours of shoveling and should consider a tool that gives them an edge even if it costs a bit more. And don't forget that a bigger shovel is not always better — a shovel that's too wide for your narrow stoop might be counterproductive, and so on.

When possible, don't forget to spread salt before the snow starts, and get out there as soon as possible after it stops, before the stuff can freeze into a more solid mass. Also, don't rule out spending the winters in Los Angeles. It never snows and there are lots of great museums, restaurants, and retail shops there.

Here are the best snow shovels you can buy:

Updated on 01/07/2019 by Steven John: Added two new shovels, replaced older items, and updated prices and formatting.

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

SEE ALSO: The best ice scrapers for your car to keep your windshield clean

The best snow shovel overall

Why you'll love it: When fully assembled for use, the DMOS Alpha Shovel is as capable as any classic snow shovel, easily tossing scoop after scoop of snow. 

Far too many products force you to make sacrifices in the name of convenience. That ultra compact folding bike easily tucks away in your dorm room or small apartment, but it's nowhere near as fast, stable, or rugged as a full sized bicycle, for example.

A spork may stab solids and scoop soups, sure, but you'll never get as much food on the tines or as much broth in the bowl as you would with an actual fork or spoon, respectively. Few and far between are products that perform their duty notably well while also being notably more convenient than their counterparts.

In the category of snow shovels, however, the DMOS Alpha Shovel is the notable exception. This clever and capable shovel can help you move snow all day long then pack down small enough for storage in a cramped closet, on a garage shelf, in your car's trunk, or even in a bag. The secret here is that the shovel's handle is both collapsible and detachable. The shaft telescopes out to a generous 63 inches, giving taller users plenty of length for proper leverage, and it can be shortened down four times for shovel users of differing height.

When fully collapsed, the handle can be detached and slid through slots cut out of the shovel itself, creating a package small enough for easy storage and with the grip making it laughably easy to carry the shovel along with you. As the Alpha is fabricated out of rugged but lightweight 5052 aluminum, it only weighs 4.2 pounds.

As for performance, this is just about the best snow shovel I have ever used, and it's my go-to even when I'm home and compact portability isn't a factor. The slender, serrated leading edge of the shovel's blade cuts into all sorts of snow with ease, lifting fresh powder, heavy slush, and icy chunks alike. The long handle makes it easy to lift and toss large scoops of snow, while the all-metal construction ensures that the shaft won't bend or break and the scoop won't crack or buckle.

One Amazon customer called the DMOS Alpha "the best snow shovel," noting how its design made it easy "to cut into hardpack" snow and ice. Another said the shovel was "easy to put together and break down," though he did note its "high price tag."

Though this shovel's durable construction makes that $119 price easier to endure, as you'll use the thing for years.

Pros: Collapses down small, serrated blades cuts into packed snow, lightweight but rugged

Cons: Very expensive

Buy the DMOS Alpha Shovel on Amazon for $119

The best ergonomic snow shovel

Why you'll love it: The ingenious two-handled design of the Snow Joe SHOVELUTION Shovel can reduce back strain by as much as 30% when compared to a traditional snow shovel while also speeding up the snow clearing process.

Remember that statistic we discussed earlier about how more than a third of those 11,500 snow shoveling-related ER visits are caused by lower back injuries? Well then, the Snow Joe SHOVELUTION Shovel could prevent thousands of annual hospital visits by dramatically reducing the strain shoveling puts on the lower back.

This thing is essentially a regular old snow shovel with a straight handle and an 18-inch shovel blade that's curved to help you collect loads of snow, albeit with one notable addition. Right above the scoop, Snow Joe designers added another handle on a short, pivoting rod. This lower handle is spring-assisted, moving up and down in response to your motions and helping to counterbalance the weight of each shovelful of snow.

By keeping your lower hand well above the main shaft of the tool, the Snow Joe SHOVELUTION Snow Shovel allows you to stand up straighter as you work, reducing the strain put on the back's lumbar region. The spring-action second handle also helps you fling aside that heavy snow without as much effort and with reduced shock at the end of each toss, thereby further limiting the effects on your joints, muscles, and skeletal system. The second handle is a small addition that creates a major improvement.

The Snow Joe SHOVELUTION Shovel scores an average 4.4-star rating with owners. One satisfied customer says it was "just what [she] needed," explaining that she can "shovel and not have to mess up [her] back" in the process. Another Amazon reviewer gushes that he "can't express how much I love this shovel."

In a YouTube video review, a gear tester showed how this "back saving shovel" is easy to use and does indeed reduce snow-clearing time while creating "way less stress on the back."

Pros: Reduces back strain, speeds up clearing process, good price point

Cons: Initial use is awkward

Buy the Snow Joe SHOVELUTION Snow Shovel on Amazon for $30

The best electric snow shovel

Why you'll love it: The Toro Power Shovel Electric Snow Thrower can clear snowfall up to a half foot deep with one pass, and you never even have to lift it off the ground.

I own a Toro Power Shovel Electric Snow Thrower and use it often when snowfall blankets our driveway, stoop, and the sidewalk out front, so you can trust me when I say this: with snow piled up as high as six inches off the ground, this electric shovel can help you clear an area quickly and with much less effort than a traditional shovel requires. I also happen to know firsthand, though, that with snow any deeper than that, or with snow that's particularly wet and heavy, this thing bogs down and loses efficacy rather quickly.

A Toro Power Shovel Electric Snow Thrower is perfect for people who live in areas prone to moderate snowstorms that come a few times per season. As noted, it can't really handle deeper snow. But for lighter precipitation, it clears the stuff right down to the pavement, pushing along easily without the strain shoveling places on the knees, arms, and the back.

This electric shovel is best suited to mid-sized properties, as it tosses snow a distance of about twenty feet. If you have quite a large driveway or patio you want to clear, some of that snow is going to fall right back onto it, counter productively piling up. For clearing sidewalks, stoops, smaller or medium-sized driveways, though, it's a great tool. The thrower cuts a 12-inch swath as it moves along, enabling most users to clear a 1,000 square foot area covered by four inches of snow in about twenty minutes.

With many thousands of reviews logged, the Toro Power Shovel Electric Snow Thrower comes in just under a four-star rating, with a 3.9-star average. One customer was thrilled that her 80-year-old mother could use the tool, saying: "she has no problem with it" as she clears a sidewalk and driveway. Another owner calls the Toro "lightweight, powerful," and adding that it "throws like a champ."

A comprehensive write-up from Consumer Reports called the Toro Power Shovel Electric Snow Thrower lightweight and maneuverable but did make the point that the unit "can't handle wet snow," which I can certainly corroborate.

Pros: Minimizes effort and backache, quickly clears shallower snowfall, light at just 12 lbs.

Cons: Can't handle deeper or wet/heavy snow

Buy the Toro Power Shovel Electric Snow Thrower on Amazon for $109.99 (originally $149.99)

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Here's what happens to food stamps and other federal food programs during the government shutdown


ebt snap food stamps

  • The government shutdown is in its 17th day and there is no end in sight.
  • The US Department of Agriculture will still send out Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, benefits for January despite the shutdown.
  • The USDA's Child Nutrition Programs will also be funded into February, but it is unclear what will happen if the shutdown goes into next month.
  • Other food programs such as Commodity Supplemental Food Program and WIC will not receive federal funding during the shutdown, but may continue using state and local funds.

With no sign of ending anytime soon, the government shutdown is starting to take its toll on federal services and workers. But for recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, there is some good news.

According to a plan released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), SNAP benefits will be available during the shutdown as previously appropriated funding is carried over to meet the needs of the program.

According to the USDA's release SNAP benefits for January will be available, but there was no commitment for February. If the shutdown were to last into next month, it would be by far the longest shutdown since the budget process was reformed in 1974.

But given the fact that President Donald Trump threatened to shut the government down for "months or even years" during a meeting with congressional leaders on Friday, the uncertainty of SNAP benefits beyond January could become a problem soon.

Funding for the USDA's Child Nutrition Programs including "School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk" will also continue into February, according to the USDA's plan.

Read more:Here's what happens to Social Security and disability benefits during a government shutdown»

But while SNAP and the Child Nutrition Program are safe for now, other food programs under the USDA's purview are not as lucky.

Also, other non-SNAP domestic food programs are no longer receiving federal funding, but may be sustained through state and local funding. The programs that are no longer receiving USDA funds include the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, a program focusing on low income seniors; The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.

95% the staff at the office of Food and Nutrition Services— which oversees SNAP benefits and other food programs — is now on furlough and no longer receiving pay.

In addition to the food programs, other essential USDA duties including the inspection of eggs, dairy, and other food products will continue. Those services deemed non-essential, such as research or the staffing of some national forests, are discontinued.

The shutdown is now in its 17th day and there is no clear end in sight. Trump administration officials and congressional leaders met over the weekend, but it's unclear if any real progress has been made.

SEE ALSO: Most Americans would rather spend the $5 billion Trump is demanding for the border wall on infrastructure, education, or healthcare

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: MSNBC host Chris Hayes thinks President Trump's stance on China is 'not at all crazy'

I took a 12-hour overnight first-class sleeper train through the heart of Egypt, and it's an experience I won't forget anytime soon


Overnight_Sleeper_Train_First_Class_Egypt (41 of 44)

  • While visiting Egypt in December, I found that the most cost-efficient way to travel from Cairo to Aswan and Luxor, two of Egypt's top archeological destinations, was a 12-hour overnight sleeper train. I booked a two-person compartment for about $110 a person.
  • Ever since I was a child, I read books and watched movies where the setting was an overnight sleeper train. It has forever fueled a fascination with long-distance train travel and I have always wanted to try one out.
  • The experience both did and didn't live up to my romantic ideal of train travel. The compartment was clean, the beds were comfortable, and the service was friendly and attentive, but the I hardly slept on the shaky train. The train was dated and didn't have the hallmarks one associates with the golden age of rail — dining cars, bar cars, and fancy meals.

There are few things that evince a stronger nostalgia for a traveler than an overnight sleeper train.

Even in our age of fast, cheap air travel, if you asked most travelers if they would stuff themselves in a train compartment for days and watch the landscape whiz by, I guarantee most would say yes.

I mean, have you read Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express?” Seen Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest?” Watched James Bond stalk compartments in “From Russia With Love?” Or — to use a more current film — imagined yourself rolling through the India like Wes Anderson’s sad-sack brothers in “The Darjeeling Limited.”

Like most nostalgia-inflected things, sleeper trains are something whose imagined charm does not stack up to its grubby reality. Gone are the golden days of rail when wealthy snowy-bearded travelers in three-piece suits dined on starched tablecloths while nervously flicking the brass clasp of their pocket watches.

Not that reality was going to stop me from taking a sleeper train the first chance I got.

This past December, while visiting Egypt, I found out an overnight sleeper train managed by rail company Ernst Watania seemed to be the most cost-efficient — if not time-efficient — way to get from Cairo to Egypt’s southern border where many of its greatest archeological sites reside.

Game on.

I booked two first-class tickets for a double compartment and began to train  — cue locomotive-themed Rocky montage  — for the 12-hour, nearly 600-mile rail journey.

The trip was at once a romantic experience and one I likely won’t repeat again. Here’s what it was like:

SEE ALSO: I rode China's superfast bullet train that could go from New York to Chicago in 4.5 hours — and it shows how far behind the US really is

DON'T MISS: I flew 13 hours nonstop on the world's biggest passenger plane, the $446 million Airbus superjumbo jet, and it's about as good as economy can get

To catch the train, I headed to the train station in Giza, about a half-hour drive from downtown Cairo. While many trains leave from Cairo's Victorian-era Ramses Station, Giza's station is far smaller and easier to navigate.

I was scheduled to take the 7:45 p.m. sleeper train so I made sure to arrive a little after 7 p.m. The station was packed when I got there. But most people weren't waiting for the sleeper train.

The majority of the Egyptians on the platform were waiting for the second or third-class trains that travel the same route south.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

20 things to master before you turn 40


young working professional woman millennial twentysomething

  • Life skills to tackle by 40 include learning to make small talk and developing hobbies.
  • We put together a list of 20 skills you should master by the time you enter your 40s, based on science, expert opinion, and other sources.
  • Each one will help you get closer to success, happiness, and fulfillment.

No one ever really feels like a "grown-up." But if you're approaching 40, well, you are one.

And it's high time you refined some crucial life skills, from staying healthy to saving money.

Below, we've listed 20 skills you should master before you enter your 40s.

SEE ALSO: 10 changes to make in your 30s that will set you up for lifelong success


If the thought of getting into a debate with your boss over how much money you deserve makes you nauseated, you're not alone. It helps to both research and practice, as much as you can stand.

If you're negotiating your salary, the best strategy both for getting what you want and still coming off as friendly is to ask for a range including and above your target number. For example, if you're aiming for a $100,000 salary, you'd suggest a $100,000 to $120,000 salary.

Another trick is to frame your proposal in terms of what you're giving the other person as opposed to what they're losing. So instead of saying, "I want $10,000 for my car," you'd say, "I'll give you my car for $10,000."

Establishing a regular sleep schedule

We know it's hard to hear, but it's helpful to wake up at the same time every day — even on weekends. If you oversleep for even a few days, experts say you risk resetting your body clock to a different cycle, so you'll start getting tired later in the day.

On a related note: Experts also advise against hitting "snooze" and going back to sleep when your alarm goes off in the morning. Instead, hit the snooze button once and use the time until your alarm goes off again to turn on a lamp and do some light stretching.

Making small talk at parties

Chances are good that, if you're feeling awkward about chatting with a bunch of impressive people you've never met, other people are feeling the same way.

But as Marjorie Gubelmann, CEO of Vie Luxe, told Oprah.com: "Even if you won't know anyone and you're feeling intimidated, you must go. Do not stay home. So many people are afraid that no one will talk to them and they'll leave feeling awful — but has that ever happened to you?"

One solid way to improve your small-talk skills— and alleviate some of the pressure you feel — is simply to demonstrate interest in your conversation partner. Ask the person questions, let them talk about themselves, and allow them to teach you something.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

This online startup makes shopping and caring for beautiful house plants convenient and easy — even for people who don't think they have a green thumb


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.

leonandgeorge magenta triostar

  • What sounds like it could be a recipe for disaster — an indoor house plant you never see in person that is packed into a cardboard box and shipped across the country to your door — is something online startup Léon & George pulls off surprisingly well. 
  • Its collection is full of indoor house plants ($139+) that are easy to care for and each order comes potted in a stylish ceramic planter. 
  • I tried the service with some initial hesitance, but found it lived up to its mission of making shopping for beautiful plants convenient and enjoyable.

Home and interior design magazines frequently espouse this simple trick for refreshing your space: add a house plant. It's not only a strategic aesthetic move — research has found exposure to nature improves emotional well-being, making you happier and even more creative.

I'm no scientist, but plenty of anecdotal evidence has also confirmed that shopping for and taking care of these beneficial house plants isn't as easy as the magazines make it out to be. After hearing similar feedback from friends, plant enthusiasts Ron Radu and Nico Bartoli wanted to show people that owning plants can actually be hassle-free and thus created Léon & George, a full-service online startup that delivers potted, responsibly sourced plants right to your door.

Radu and Bartoli started in 2016 by partnering with local growers who were looking for a change from big box stores and nurseries, which often placed unrealistic demands on crop growth or didn't store plants in optimal growing environments. Though the company has now scaled to a point where the founders don't need to turn their own homes into mini greenhouses, the level of care and attention remains: they source the highest-quality greenery from US growers, and all plants are stored under conditions that imitate their native climates. 

leon and george plant care

Customers can choose from a collection of attractive plants, like the dense Little Hope philodendron or the summery Parlor Palm, then pair their selection with a simple and stylish ceramic planter. You can also shop by "Benefits" (easy care, air purifiers, safe for pets) and "Light" (medium-to-bright, low). Everything is included in the $139 price: the plant, pot, wood stand, care instructions, and shipping. 

I ordered the Zanzibar Gem, namely because the website told me it's "near indestructible" and can "handle long periods of neglect"  — music to the ears of traditionally terrible plant owners like myself. It can also handle low-light environments, so I could plan to keep it right at my office desk instead of a distant window sill. 

The potted plant arrived upright in a box, and thanks to layers of cardboard support and bubble wrap, it emerged from the shipping journey fresh and unscathed. 

my leon and george plant

Caring for my Zanzibar Gem has been a breeze. I basically water it whenever I think to (which is really not often) and it's still thriving a couple weeks after it first arrived. If you're worried about plant care falling by the wayside, Léon & George sends Weekly Plant Care Reminder emails to nudge you to pay a little more attention to your plant. 

My experience with the service couldn't have been easier. Since I live in a big city, it's inconvenient and tiring to visit a nursery and haul a large plant onto the subway, so having it delivered (the company delivers nationwide) instead was a major boon. The potting was already done for me, and the site offers a lot of support if you run into any trouble while caring for your plant. Buying greenery from Léon & George is also an investment back into the Earth because the company plants one tree in a US National Forest through the National Forest Foundation for every plant sold. 

Léon & George's selection of high-quality plants will appease plant parents of all types. If you're new to plant care, the site offers guidance and low-maintenance options, and if your room is already filled with greenery, Léon & George's all-in-one service makes it that much more convenient to add to your collection. 

Shop plants at Léon & George here

Join the conversation about this story »

Save up to 50% at J.Crew, Backcountry, and L.L.Bean — and more of today's best deals from around the web


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

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


1. Save up to 30% on brand name outdoor gear at Backcountry

Backcountry is a one-stop shop for all things related to the outdoors. To celebrate the new year, the retailer is having a huge sale on new gear from a variety of top-rated brands. Right now, you can save 30% on select outdoor styles for men and women. 

Shop the Backcountry sale now.

Udemy post

2. Enroll in thousands of online courses for $9.99

Udemy is having a huge sale on online courses. Now through January 10, you can enroll in thousands of online courses for just $9.99 each, making it the perfect time to tackle a New Year's resolution. Whether you want to learn a new language, better manage your money, or find a job in 2019, there's a wide selection of classes that can help you accomplish those goals.

Kick start your New Year's resolution with online courses at Udemy now.


3.Save an extra 25% on sale styles at L.L.Bean

L.L.Bean is having a huge sale on previously marked down items. Right now, you can save an extra 25% on your order by using the promo code "EXTRA25" at checkout. The sale includes clothing and footwear for men, women, and kids, outdoor equipment, home goods, and travel gear. The deal expires tonight, so start shopping now.

Shop the L.L.Bean sale now.

jeans 4x3

4. Save 40% on winter sale styles at Levi's

When it comes to denim, Levi's is one of the most popular and deeply rooted companies in American culture. Right now, you can take an extra 40% off sale items by using the promo code "WINTER40" at checkout. You'll find selections for men, women, and children.

Shop the Levi's sale now.


5.Save an extra 50% on final sale items at J.Crew

J.Crew is having a huge sale to celebrate the start of 2019. You can save an extra 50% on clearance items using the promo code "BIGGERSALE" at checkout. The sale includes sweaters, sweatshirts, button-up, jeans, blouses, workwear, and more.

Shop the J.Crew sale now.

Kindle Paperwhite

6.Get 25% off a new Kindle when you trade in your old device

Amazon wants you to experience its newest Kindle, which is waterproof for peace of mind (particularly in the bath or by the pool). To help you make the upgrade, Amazon is offering an Amazon gift card with the trade-in value of your old Kindle, plus a 25% off discount code for a new Kindle.

Learn more about trading in your old Kindle here.


7. Save up to 60% on custom suits at Indochino

A good suit should be tailored to your body, never just purchased off a rack. Indochino is leading the way in made-to-order custom suits online. Right now, the brand is having a huge New Year sale with up to 60% off everything. Use the promo code "JANUARY" at checkout to save. If you're getting dressed up for a special event or shopping for suits to wear in the office, this is a great deal you shouldn't pass up.

Shop the Indochino sale now.


8. Save up to $400 on computers at Dell

With the holidays behind us, Dell is offering huge winter deals on computers and electronics. Right now, you can save up to $300 on clearance and overstocked computers. You can also save up to $400 on desktops and all-in-one computers. Discounts are taken off automatically, so there's no need for a promo code. 

Shop the Dell Black Winter Clearance sale now.

Happy Socks

9. Save 40% on socks at Happy Socks

If boring blue argyle or solid black socks no longer pique your interest, Happy Socks makes fun and stylish alternatives. Right now the brand is having a massive winter sale with up to 40% off and free shipping on socks and underwear.

Shop the Happy Socks winter sale now.

Bear Mattress

10. Save up to $225 on a Bear Hybrid Mattress

One of our favorite mattress startups, Bear revolutionized the way we sleep by creating a mattress that supports every body type and sleeping style. Today, you can save $125 on orders over $500 with promo code "NYS125" or save $225 on orders over $1,200 with promo code "NYS225" at checkout. Plus, get a free Cloud Pillow.

Shop the Bear Hybrid Mattress in Queen, King, and California King sizes now.

Join the conversation about this story »

The government shutdown is in its 17th day and there's no end in sight. Here's how Trump and Congress got into this mess.


nancy pelosi donald trump

  • The government shutdown is now in day 17, tying it for the third-longest shutdown in the modern era.
  • There appears to be no end in sight as President Donald Trump and Democrats dig in on their border wall stances.
  • As the shutdown drags on, more federal workers and agencies become affected.
  • Here's your rundown on how the government ended up in a shutdown and where we go from here.

President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats seem to be dug in over the government shutdown, and after two weeks without a funding bill, there's no end in sight.

At the heart of the dispute is Trump's demand for just over $5 billion toward a long-promised wall along the US-Mexico border. Democrats insist they will allocate no money toward a wall.

Those factors mean the possibility of a record-breaking shutdown seems to be growing. As it stands, the shutdown is in its 17th day, tied with the 2013 shutdown for the third-longest of the modern budgeting era. The record is a 21-day shutdown in 1995-1996.

Read more:Here's a history of all the previous shutdowns in the modern era»

The shutdown only affects part of the federal government, as seven of the 12 bills that fund the government were passed in September. But a large number of departments are shuttered, including agriculture, commerce, justice, homeland security, the interior, state, transportation, and housing and urban development.

The problems caused by the shutdown are wide-ranging, from waste piling up in national parks to uncertainty for 800,000 federal workers about when their next paycheck will come.

Read more:Here's what happens to Social Security and disability benefits during a government shutdown»

With all that in mind, here's a rundown of just how we got here:

  • December 6: Congress passes a short-term funding bill to delay the shutdown until after the date of President George H.W. Bush's funeral.
  • December 11: Democratic leaders and President Donald Trumpmeet to discuss the funding deadline. Trump demands $5 billion in border-wall funding, Democrats counter with an offer of $1.6 billion in general border-security funding. Trump rejects the idea and offers to take the blame for the shutdown. The president says he would be "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.
  • December 22: McConnell announces in the afternoon that lawmakers have not reached a deal, and adjourns the Senate until December 27. Senior Trump administration officials also suggested to reporters that the White House would not back down on the wall, indicating that only Senate Democrats could end the shutdown by caving on the funding.
  • January 1: After a relatively quiet Christmas break, Trump suggests Nancy Pelosi should make a deal. "Border Security and the Wall "thing" and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let's make a deal?" Trump tweets.
  • January 2: Congressional leaders from both parties meet with Trump at the White House, it is the first face-to-face meeting in three weeks. The president enlists Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to make the case for the border wall. Following the meeting, Democratic leaders reiterate that no money will be allocated for the wall.
  • January 3: Democrats take over control of the House and Pelosi is elected Speaker. Later in the night, the new Democratic majority passes two bills which would both fund the government that do not include funding for the border wall. The bills even earned a handful of GOP votes. Despite the bills being nearly identical to the measures passed by the Senate before the holiday break, Republican Senate leaders reject the idea of taking up the bills.
  • January 4: Congressional leaders meet with Trump at the White House, where the president told Democrats that the shutdown could last for "months or even years" if no border wall money was allocated. Democrats suggested that Trump allow the government to reopen and then fight over the wall.
  • January 5: Representatives from the White House meet with representatives from Schumer and Pelosi's offices, according to reports the talks go poorly. Trump also floats the idea of declaring a national emergency to secure the funds for the wall.
  • January 6: Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that talks between the Trump administration and Democrats were difficult. "I think this is going to drag on a lot longer," Mulvaney said.

SEE ALSO: Most Americans would rather spend the $5 billion Trump is demanding for the border wall on infrastructure, education, or healthcare

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: MSNBC host Chris Hayes thinks President Trump's stance on China is 'not at all crazy'

Ted Allen takes us behind the scenes at Food Network's 'Chopped'

  • "Chopped" host Ted Allen gives us a taste of what it's like on the set of the Food Network's intense cooking competition.
  • After 10 years of making "Chopped," they've got it down to a science.
  • There are around 12 camera operators capturing every square inch of the studio.
  • Each round is scrupulously timed, and the mystery basket ingredients are a complete surprise to the contestants.

Ted Allen: We are throwing them into the deep end of the pool, and we wanna see what happens. And that's where the excitement comes from. Our show is totally real.

My name is Ted Allen, I'm the host of the show "Chopped" on the Food Network. I had never been on camera before I was on Queer Eye, and somehow, I know that TV cameras freak a lot of people out, it's just never bothered me. When I'm doing "Chopped," I'm just being me.

We have a rotating array of nine judges, who have become just fast friends, we're all so close. We're so passionate about food. All we have to do is show up on time, and talk about cooking techniques, and ingredients that we love, and ingredients that we don't love, and how things might be put together best. And the proof is on the plate, you know. So, if it's good, it's good, and it's not, see ya.

The casting actually is quite a complicated process. We're looking for chefs who are interesting and colorful, and that have great skills. We want people from all over the country, every possible walk of life, different ages. We wanna have plenty of women and plenty of men. And it's harder than it might seem. As difficult as it is to do the show, to compete on the show, it never ceases to amaze me how many people wanna do it.

TV is a little more complicated to make than it is to watch, and TV that involves food is particularly complicated because, obviously, everything has to be safe, and fresh. It's about a 12-hour day to make a 46-minute show.

Someone has to decide what ingredients are going into the baskets. Every basket has a riddle in it, that is known to the people who make the basket. I doubt that in a 20-minute cooking round, many of the chefs figure out that riddle. They just start chopping. But, if we give you say, silken tofu, and lavash bread, and tomatillos, maybe we're looking for a riff on grilled cheese and tomato soup. Good luck figuring that out.

I get picked up at 6:30 in the morning, which is much too early. So we get there, we have a little breakfast, I get into wardrobe, I read my script, and make sure I'm happy with it and change a few things here and there. For a regular episode, I'm up there by about eight.

The first round is 20 minutes, the second and third rounds are each 30 minutes, but there are a whole lot of shots that have to be shot before those rounds can begin. There are so many different angles that we have to shoot. We've got something like 10, 12 cameras going.

Some of the most dramatic moments in a competition like "Chopped" happen unexpectedly. For example, let's say somebody drops a steak on the floor, and they decide to go ahead and serve it anyway. We need to make sure that we have a shot of that steak hitting the floor, and that's why we need the coverage from so many cameras because we don't reenact things. We don't stage things, and we have to capture everything.

The rounds are scrupulously, strictly timed, and people have exactly 20 or 30 minutes to get done. If they're not done, too bad. There are actually laws about shooting game shows that have cash prizes. There are strict rules about the way these shows are run, and you have to live by those rules. First of all, the chefs do not know what's in the mystery baskets. Scrupulously, that is kept from them. They open the basket, they typically have about two minutes before they have to start cooking.

With the ingredients that are in each mystery basket, we're looking for variety, we're looking for, we wanna represent different ethnic cuisines, we wanna represent American favorites. I think the audience likes it best when the basket ingredients are horrifying. We've had pickled pig lips on.

We're lucky enough to be shooting in New York City, which has markets that sell absolutely everything. There is at least one shop in Chinatown that sells nothing but mushrooms. New York is such a great food capital that we can get anything we need.

Once in a while, we'll give people a basket that looks like it's a slam dunk, you know, New York strip steak, and potato, and some cheddar cheese. And it seems like the easier the basket, the worse the dishes. It seems like the chefs almost need to be challenged with, you know, something really scary like a whole chicken in a can.

We have to base our decisions on what is on the plate. Sometimes, the winner of a "Chopped" competition is not our favorite person. You can't base the decision on who is popular, who is charming, who is cute. You can't. The rules sort of save us from that. If somebody omits a mystery basket ingredient, that's a huge mistake, but somebody else maybe could burn two of the ingredients, or undercook one of the ingredients, and burn another, and we find ourselves asking all the time, "What is the greater crime?"

Cooking can definitely be dangerous. There are flames, there are sharp edges, there's a small amount of counter space. We have surprisingly few injuries, and what we've had have always been minor.

I've been doing this for 10 years, and I never get bored with it. The only problem I have with hosting "Chopped" is that my feet hurt. Whenever you start a show, there's no guarantee of success, and so they typically will order a modest number of episodes, I think our first order was 13 episodes. We had no way of knowing what our longevity was gonna be, or whether people would embrace it.

I think "Chopped" succeeds in part because of the excitement and the tension. We're forcing them to cook with ingredients that they didn't get to choose. But I also think that all of us who cook have had those nights when the kids are screaming for something, and you haven't had a chance to go to the market, and you open up the fridge, and you have to make do with what you have.

I love working at Food Network for a lot of reasons. I think probably my favorite aspect is — the relationships that I've built with all these really, really talented chefs. And, I mean, I have Alex Guarnaschelli's phone number. If I have a problem with a recipe, I can text her. I also think that our judges are super knowledgeable, very entertaining, funny.

We've had a little bit of foment in our judges' ranks and our most recent acquisition, Martha Stewart, I think is a very, very exciting one. I've been a fan of hers for 25 years, and now I get to work with her, it's amazing. I'm super grateful, super proud, I love our team, it's a well-oiled machine, really great people, and led almost entirely by women, which I think is exciting in television, and we're happy to keep making them as long as you wanna watch 'em.

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A 612-pound bluefin tuna sold for a world record $3 million at Tokyo's new fish market, but the buyer admits he may have paid 'too much'


bluefin tuna record

  • A 278 kg bluefin tuna sold for a world record $3 million at Tokyo's famous Tsukiji fish market on Saturday.
  • The buyer, Sushi Zanmai restaurant chain owner Kiyoshi Kimura, has won the auction in the past.
  • He told Japanese TV: "The quality of the tuna I bought is the best."
  • However, he admitted he was suprised by the price, adding: "I think I did too much."

TOKYO (AP) — A 612-pound (278 kilogram) bluefin tuna sold for a record 333.6 million yen ($3 million) in the first auction of 2019, after Tokyo's famed Tsukiji market was moved to a new site on the city's waterfront.

The winning bid for the prized but threatened species at the predawn auction was more than double the 2013 annual New Year auction.

tokyo fish market

It was paid by Kiyomura Corp., whose owner Kiyoshi Kimura runs the Sushi Zanmai chain. Kimura has often won the annual auction in the past.

Read more:Inside the world's biggest fish market, where a single tuna can sell for millions of dollars

Japanese broadcaster NHK showed a beaming Kimura saying that he was surprised by the high price of tuna this year.

Kiyoshi Kimura

According to Sky News, Kimura admitted he may have been a bit carried away by the sale.

"The tuna looks so tasty and very fresh, but I think I did too much," he said.

"I expected it would be between 30 million and 50 million yen, or 60 million yen at the highest, but it ended up five times more."

Still, he said: "The quality of the tuna I bought is the best."

kiyoshi kimura bluefin tuna

The tuna was caught off northern Japan's Aomori prefecture and sold on Saturday.

The market, which opened in October, replaces the old Tsukiji market, one of Japan's most popular tourist destinations.

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This small bedding startup just beat out heavyweights like Patagonia and Nike to become the biggest consumer of organic cotton worldwide — here's why that matters


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


Before a retail company becomes the most anything in the world — especially when ranked alongside heavyweights like Patagonia and Nike you’d expect to have heard of it before.

But, given the prevalence of direct-to-consumer companies, that’s not always the case.

Take five-year-old startup Boll & Branch, for instance. The company makes luxury sheets via a chemical-free supply chain and sells them online. Insider Picks has named them one of the biggest viral-marketing successes of the past several years and dubbed their sheets among the most luxurious we’ve ever tried.

Recently, Boll & Branch was also named the world’s largest consumer of Organic Fair Trade Certified cotton, ahead of longstanding companies like Patagonia and Nike — the latter of which has been working for decades to move to 100% organic cotton by 2020.

For Boll & Branch — and the customers that propelled it to exceed a $100 million run rate in less than five years — using organic materials is important for overall comfort as well as for social and environmental impact. 

Why is organic cotton better? In short, it’s better for you, the environment, and the people that make whatever you’re buying. Organic cotton doesn’t use pesticides or other harmful chemicals, it requires far less water to produce, and organic growing systems often emphasize the ability to maintain soil fertility and encourage biologically diverse agriculture — replacing systems that typically heavily exhaust and degrade the soil.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, approximately half of all textiles are made of cotton, and cotton growing’s pollution and diversion of water has had severe impacts on major ecosystems already — including the Aral Sea in Central Asia and the Indus Delta in Pakistan. Thus, it’s not just that organic cotton is a sustainable improvement — it’s that organic cotton makes much-needed ecological strides in a high-impact industry.

"Before selling a single product, we spent a year and a half ensuring we built out a transparent and ethical supply chain," said Boll & Branch CEO and Co-Founder Scott Tannen in a 2018 press release.  "From the very beginning, we made the conscious choice to use only 100% organic cotton and worked very hard to ensure Fair Trade — meaning safer working conditions, no child labor, and fair treatment and pay for all of our workers.” Tannen told Business Insider in 2017 that this ultimately amounts to farmers earning a living wage that’s usually two to three times the commodity price of cotton, and that factory workers are paid a living wage — meaning, not just the minimum wage in their area.

Boll & Branch sheets are great: “Luxurious in every sense of the word — soft to the touch, thoughtfully designed, and premium in looks” as Insider Picks senior editor Ellen Hoffman wrote in her review. And that’s why the company has experienced such rapid and continued success.

But their customers have also been willing to spend $200 and up on sheet sets in part because they want to own something that feels good to own — a luxury, like diamonds made in labs with solar energy, that didn’t include ecological and social damage in the price tag. The combination has created the largest purveyor of organic cotton on earth — from a five-year-old, homegrown startup from New Jersey.

If your bedding could use an upgrade — and you can afford the premium — Boll & Branch may be a good bet. To skip the browsing, head straight to the company’s bestseller: the Solid Hemmed Sheet Set ($200-$295).

You can check out everything Boll & Branch has to offer here.

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Burned-out billionaires are taking extended multimillion-dollar 'sabbaticals' to recharge, from world tours on private jets to skiing expeditions in Antarctica


private jet


When you think of a sabbatical, you might think of a university professor taking a year off to study Italian literature in the Tuscan countryside.

But the world's super-rich are changing the definition of sabbatical, taking months-long, multimillion-dollar trips to recharge and reconnect with family. These vacations range from extreme adventures and educational excursions to luxurious getaways.

"We've had a significant spike in clients, largely between the ages of 35 and 50, looking to take extended sabbaticals," Jack Ezon, president of Ovation Travel, whose clients include New York financiers and Hollywood moguls, told Condé Nast Traveler.

"The common denominator is a Type-A overachiever, either between jobs or having recently sold off their company— or just at a meltdown point of complete work and personal life imbalance," Ezon told the magazine. "It's their chance to really disconnect so they can reconnect to themselves, their loved ones, and the world around them."

south africa

Some of these lavish trips entail extreme adventures such as diving with sharks in South Africa and skiing in brutally cold conditions in the South Pole, while others are meant for recharging and taking time to reconnect with family. 

Read more: The 13 best hotels in America that every traveler needs to visit in 2019

Nick Newbury, co-founder of London-based agency Original Travel, told Condé Nast Traveler that they arranged an extended world tour for a 40-year-old tech CEO who, fresh off selling his multimillion-dollar business, visited 66 countries over two years via private jet. The trip included learning to hunt with a bow and arrow with the San people in the Kalahari Desert and filming a documentary in South Africa — and it cost "well into the seven figures."

An American executive based in Mexico told the Guardian he was about to embark on a seven-month sabbatical with his wife and two children, which will include a road trip from the southern tip of Chile back to Mexico.

This trend is becoming so prevalent that Original Travel is opening a new division of the firm to cater specifically to ultra-wealthy clients, the Guardian reported. Another co-founder of the company, Tom Barber, told the Guardian they had arranged 80 sabbatical trips over the past six years, all of which lasted at least a month. And bookings spiked in 2018.

These wealthy clients are "looking for an escape," Barber said, and some want that escape to be educational as well.

"Often they want to get some sense of a back-to-basics lifestyle and learn the skills of our ancestors, like how to hunt and cook their own food," Barber told the Guardian. "For others, it's 'braggability.' They want to use their money to open doors that normal people can't and to tell their friends all about it. If you’re in the 0.01%, you are going to be a competitive type of person."

Predictably, the costs for these trips can add up — especially if clients have a family they're bringing along.

But "these are very, very wealthy people and they can afford it," Ezon told Condé Nast Traveler. "It could be a couple of million dollars to take your family around the world with a teacher in tow."

Some CEOs might not need to pay for their own sabbaticals. As Business Insider previously reported, some companies pay their high-level executives to go on luxurious "executive getaways" that can cost up to $25,000 to de-stress.

SEE ALSO: The top 14 boutique hotels in the world that should be on every luxury traveler's list

DON'T MISS: A day in the life of a Deutsche Bank managing director, who wakes up at 5:00 a.m., spends 10 days of the month traveling, and works out twice a day even while on business trips

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NOW WATCH: The 3 best holiday gifts for a wine lover — according to a top sommelier

We drove an all-new $644,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom that's the pinnacle of automotive luxury. Here are its coolest features.


Rolls Royce Phantom First Drive

  • The Rolls-Royce introduced an all-new eighth generation Phantom for 2018.
  • The new Rolls-Royce flagship is powered by a 563 horsepower, twin-turbo V12.
  • It starts at $450,000 while our extended wheelbase test car carried a price tag of nearly $644,000.
  • The Phantom is fully-customizable and loaded with cool tech and luxury features.

Over the years, Rolls-Royce has become a byword for automotive opulence. As the pinnacle of road going luxury, the Phantom is Rolls-Royce's long-serving flagship. For the first time in 15 years, there's an all-new generation Phantom. In fact, it's the eighth generation in the nameplate that dates back to 1925.

Earlier this year, Business Insider was able to spend an afternoon with the all-new Phantom, including about an hour behind the wheel of the behemoth.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom will be available in two body styles, the stand wheelbase and the extended wheelbase which adds eight extra inches in length. In case you're wondering, the extended wheelbase Phantom is 19.5 feet long.

Read more: We drove the all-new $644,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom and were blown away by its opulence. Take a look inside.

Under the hood is a new 563 horsepower, 6.75 liter, twin-turbocharged V12 engine. According to Rolls, our extra-long Phantom can hit 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds. The standard Phantom is about 0.2 seconds faster. Both versions have a top speed of 155 mph.

We were impressed by the new Phantom driving dynamics thanks to its new four-wheel-steering system. It's not exactly nimble, but far more fleet of foot than you would expect from a vehicle of its size. However, the real place to be is in the back where you can stretch out and get a feel for the serenity and smoothness of its passenger experience. It's what Rolls-Royce calls the "magic carpet ride."

The standard wheelbase Phantom starts at about $450,000. But our test car is an extended wheelbase model that is eight inches longer than the standard Phantom and starts at $530,000. With bespoke optional extras, our black-and-emerald-green Roller costs nearly $644,000.

Here's a closer look at the coolest tech and luxury features on the Rolls-Royce Phantom:

SEE ALSO: We drove a $246,000 Bentley Bentayga SUV to see if it's ready to do battle with Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini. Here's the verdict.

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We have the chance to experience the Phantom on the streets of New York City.

Behind the wheel, the first thing you notice is the heads-up display and a digital instrument cluster designed to mimic old-school Rolls-Royce analog gauges. The driver also has access to adaptive cruise control, collision warning, pedestrian warning as well as lane departure and lane change warning.

In the center console is a 10.25-inch high definition display running a version of BMW Group's iDrive infotainment system. It serves as a display for the Phantom's elaborate system of cameras.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Samsung's new smartwatch is the answer to the Apple Watch for Android users — and its battery life is better


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.

samsung galaxy smartwatch review 2

  • The smartwatch that makes the most sense for Samsung owners to buy is the new Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch ($279.99-$299.99). 
  • Syncing easily to apps like messages, calendars, alarms, Samsung Health, Samsung Pay, and more, it's a powerful and versatile smart companion to your phone. 
  • It works hard while maintaining a decent battery life and passing as a stylish analog watch — a couple distinctions the Apple Watch can't claim. 

Despite the constant pressure from my friends to convert to Apple, I like my Samsung phone. Occasionally, however, I've experienced some iPhone envy, at least with respect to its tight and seamless integration with the Apple Watch. 

After the Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch was released in the second half of 2018, Apple owners that started eyeing us with a new tinge of jealousy. A great all-around smartwatch, it boasts numerous features to keep you up-to-date on the notifications you care about, track your health, and much more — plus it has a battery life of longer than a day and a sleek, stylish look that doesn't scream "smartwatch." 

I've tried wearables like Fitbit fitness trackers as well as budget smartwatches under $100, but the Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch is by far the best I've tried yet, and I get why people would pay around $300 for a good wearable

samsung galaxy smartwatch review

Though the smartwatch is technically compatible with both Android and iOS phones, you'll have the best user experience if you pair it with an Android phone, and more specifically, a Samsung phone (I have the Galaxy S9). After I connected the watch to my phone via the Galaxy Wearable app, features like my messages, calendar, and Samsung Health app synced easily, but reviewers with iPhones or other Android phones reported some difficulties or glitches with syncing these basic features.

Since it's not always convenient or appropriate to pull out my phone, I enjoyed the ability to access my digital life from my wrist, from replying to (or deciding to ignore) texts and calls, to skipping a song on Spotify, to reminding myself of the events I have going on that day. The Samsung Health integration was also helpful in nudging me — almost annoyingly so — to tear myself away from the computer screen and take a lap around the office floor, and to be more consistent about working out. Other cool uses of the Samsung Health app include stress tracking, sleep tracking, and guided meditation exercises. 

Making the smartwatch an even more powerful device are Samsung Pay and SmartThings compatibility. With Samsung Pay, you can travel light and simply use your watch to pay for purchases. Meanwhile, you can control smart home devices like security cameras and kitchen appliances from anywhere using the SmartThings app. 

samsung galaxy smartwatch review 1

A big draw of this smartwatch is customizability, so I can't tell you the exact combination of apps to use or what watch face to choose (and there are a lot of beautiful and sleek ones to choose from!), but I can say you'll never feel like there aren't enough options or that it's missing an important feature. While heavy use will affect the battery life, the battery is still surprisingly long-lasting. From what I hear from Apple Watch owners, they have to charge their watch every day, but I only have to charge my Samsung watch every few days. 

The rotating bezel bordering the screen also sets this smartwatch apart from the competition, letting you navigate through apps and screens without touching the screen. Concerning the clear and smooth display screen itself, you needn't worry about scratches because it's made from damage-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass. The entire watch is water-resistant, and its overall military-grade durability makes it a practical accessory to wear for everyday life. 

What makes a practical accessory even better is when it doesn't sacrifice aesthetic. You can shop three different styles, like the pretty Rose Gold one above, none of which give away their advanced capabilities within. They also come with silicone bands that can be switched out to other styles and materials. 

samsung galaxy smartwatch review

It might've taken some time for Samsung to come out with a worthy Apple Watch competitor, but it looks like the effort paid off because you won't find another Samsung-geared smartwatch of this performance and style. 

Shop the Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch 42mm (Rose Gold) for $279.99 here: Best Buy, Target,Samsung

Shop the Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch 42mm (Midnight Black) for $279.99 here: Best Buy, Target, Samsung

Shop the Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch 46mm (Silver) from $297.99 here: Amazon, Samsung

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GE is showing a 27-inch voice-activated 'kitchen hub' smart screen for above the stove that can walk you through recipes and make video calls


ge kitchen hub

  • GE has released a "kitchen hub" smart screen that can walk you through cooking recipes, make video calls, and share culinary shots to social media.
  • The 27-inch screen is designed to integrate into your kitchen setup, since the microwave-looking device replaces your exhaust vent directly above your stove. 
  • A prototype of the screen debuted at 2018's Consumer Electronics Show, but GE says the actual product will be on display at this year's show

General Electric may already power many of the electronics and appliances in your home, but the company is hoping its voice-powered smart touchscreen will become the central hub of your kitchen.

GE — which has long been in the smart home market with smart microwaves and other smart appliances — is now selling a "Kitchen Hub" smart screen. The display responds to voice commands, makes video calls, streams TV and movies, and can operate connected smart devices. 

The Kitchen Hub draws comparisons to smart speakers with visual displays, like the Google Home Hub and the Amazon Echo Show. However, GE's device has a 27-inch screen, and is installed directly into the hood above your stove where you would would mount an exhaust vent or a microwave. The Kitchen Hub is also expected to have a hefty pricetag: GE says the price will range between $1,200 and $1,400. 

The Kitchen Hub first premiered a year ago at CES 2018, but never officially launched. A GE spokesperson told Business Insider that the model at last year's CES was a prototype, and that the product on display at CES 2019 is the actual item. The product will be available beginning in May, according to the company.

Check out some more details about the GE Kitchen Hub:

SEE ALSO: Here's how Google's new $150 Home Hub compares to the Amazon Echo Show

This is GE's Kitchen Hub, a 27-inch smart touchscreen display powered with Google Assistant to respond to voice commands. The hub is designed to slide right into the space above your stove, where you would find your exhaust vent or a microwave.

The hub comes equipped with a trove of recipes and and instructions that are accessible while you're cooking.

Beyond cooking, the Kitchen Hub can connect with the other smart devices in your home, so it can be used to operate lights, doorbell cameras, baby monitors, and more.

Source: The Verge

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

20 unique home goods from Houzz that are on sale right now


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.


If you've been waiting for a reason to redecorate your home, there's no better excuse than the new year. January is a fresh start, making it a great time to rethink your space — whether you just want to swap out the paintings on your walls, or are considering a serious remodel. 

Houzz is a great place to start. Not only can you shop its large selection of home goods products, you can also find home improvement professionals in your area or get remodeling inspiration and advice from the Houzz community. Whatever your decorating style and budget, you're sure to find some fun inspiration on the site.

To help you start off 2019 in style, Houzz is slashing the prices on some of their best-selling pieces from 2018. Now through January 13, you can save up to 75% on top 2018 best-sellers from Houzz. You'll find everything from furniture to small pieces of decor and large kitchen appliances. For some inspiration, we rounded up some of our favorites from the sale that you can check out below. 

Keep reading for 20 great products from the Houzz 2018 best sellers sale:

A vintage-inspired rug that adds a rich pop of color to any room

Safavieh Satin Turquoise Vintage-Inspired Rug, 5'3" x 7'6", $162.99 (Originally $187.99) [You save $25]


A velvet sectional that's equally modern and comfortable

Nesta Gray Velvet Sectional, $1,299 (Originally $1,999) [You save $700]

A vibrant, abstract painting to brighten up a bland wall

Alexa Wall Art with Frame, $94.99 (Originally $100.80) [You save $5.81]

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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