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Google's new $99 Nest Audio will go head to head with Amazon's redesigned Echo — here's how to preorder the smart speaker


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Google Nest Audio
Nest Audio comes in five official colors: charcoal, chalk, sand, sage, and sky.

Less than a week after Amazon revealed a redesigned update to its Echo smart speaker, Google has launched its own $99 smart speaker, the Nest Audio. Google revealed Nest Audio alongside two new Pixel phones and an updated Chromecast with Google TV during a video presentation titled "Launch Night In" on September 30.

Nest Audio is the latest addition to Google's growing smart home brand, replacing the Google Home speaker released in 2016. Nest also offers the $49 Nest Mini smart speaker, which replaced the Google Home Mini in October 2019. The Nest device family uses Google Assistant to manage devices and includes the Nest Hub display, security cameras, alarms, thermostats, and a Wi-Fi system.

Nest Audio price and release date

Google's Nest Audio will launch on October 5, and preorders are available now from Google and Best Buy. 

Google says Nest Audio will start appearing on retail shelves on October 15, but some people have already reported being able to buy one in stores. We'll add more purchase options once they become available.

Nest Audio specs and features

Nest Audio is 6.89 inches tall and comes in five colors: black, light grey, coral, light green, and sky blue. The smart speaker is covered in fabric and offers touch controls along with Google Assistant capabilities. For added privacy, a single switch allows you to turn the microphone off.

Multiple Nest Audio and Nest Mini speakers can network together to create a stereo system or provide multi-room playback with Google Assistant. Google says the Nest Audio's 75 mm woofer and 19 mm tweeter will make it 75% louder than the Google Home, with 50% stronger bass. It's unclear if Nest Audio will support Bluetooth playback from other devices, though the Nest Mini does. 

Nest Audio will compete directly with Amazon's redesigned Echo smart speaker, which releases October 22 for $99. For most smart home shoppers, your preference between Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant or Nest's Google Assistant will likely determine which speaker you choose. However, it is notable that Nest Audio does not have a USB-C port or 3.5 mm headphone jack for auxiliary input or output to other devices, while the Echo and the $50 Echo Dot both have a 3.5 mm port.

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Coronavirus vaccine research is moving fast. Keep up on the latest — and know what's coming ahead — with Business Insider's latest live webinar on October 5th at 2:00 p.m. ET. 

Several candidates are now in the final stage of clinical testing, with the leading vaccines likely providing pivotal effectiveness results before the end of the year.

But in order to truly help society, a vaccine needs to be safe, effective, and widely available. How close are we to actually having a vaccine that people can get access to? And what does that mean for the future in society's fight against this pandemic?

Business Insider's healthcare reporter Andrew Dunn will discuss these topics and more in a fast-moving webinar covering the current state-of-play with coronavirus vaccines and what to expect for the next several months.

Dunn will talk with three leading vaccine experts: Maria Elena Bottazzi, co-director of Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and associate dean of Baylor College of Medicine's  National School of Tropical Medicine, Art Caplan, a bioethicist and founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University School of Medicine, and Dr. William Haseltine, infectious-disease expert and chair and president of ACCESS Health International.

The panel will discuss what it takes to get a vaccine candidate across the finish line and what happens after that. Even with a safe and effective vaccine, drugmakers and governments will need to collaborate on plans for mass-production, fairly distributing the shot, and convincing the public to get vaccinated. Leading experts will weigh in on the latest challenges and how they are being tackled.

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Trump has repeatedly been endorsed by white supremacist groups and other far-right extremists, and they've looked to him as a source of encouragement

Analysis banner
  • President Donald Trump's refusal to explicitly condemn white supremacist groups during Tuesday night's debate follows a similar pattern.
  • Extremism experts warn that Trump gave a boost to the far-right group known as the Proud Boys by mentioning them during the debate.
  • Trump's racist, xenophobic rhetoric has frequently been viewed as a source of encouragement by white nationalist and far-right extremist groups. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump refused to explicitly condemn white supremacist groups during the first 2020 presidential debate on Tuesday, instead opting to issue a rallying cry to a far-right extremist group with a history of engaging in street violence. 

"Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down?" debate moderator Chris Wallace asked. 

"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by! But I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left," Trump said, after additional prompting from former Vice President Joe Biden.

The Proud Boys are a far-right group of self-described "western chauvinists." The group has rejected the notion that it promotes white supremacy, even as its leaders regularly share white nationalist memes and "maintain affiliations with known extremists," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC considers the Proud Boys to be a hate group.

The Anti-Defamation League describes the Proud Boys ideology as: "Misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and anti-immigration. Some members espouse white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideologies and/or engage with white supremacist groups."

The Proud Boys have frequently been involved in street violence, and a former Proud Boys member helped organize the "Unite the Right" rally that prompted deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

After Trump's comments during the Tuesday night debate, far right groups took to social media to celebrate, and experts on extremism warned that the president essentially just helped the Proud Boys recruit.

Rita Katz, the executive director of SITE intelligence Group, which tracks far-right groups, told the Washington Post that Trump "legitimized" the Proud Boys in a way that "nobody in the community expected." 

"It's unbelievable. The celebration is incredible," Katz said. "In my 20 years of tracking terrorism and extremism, I never thought I'd see anything like this from a U.S. president."


The president on Friday claimed he doesn't know who the Proud Boys are, but the damage was already done. The group got a massive boost on social media and was trending topic on Twitter for most of Friday. 

As remarkable as it was to see a sitting US president dodge an opportunity to decry white supremacists while elevating a far-right extremist group, what happened on Tuesday was not an isolated incident for Trump.

For years, white supremacists have looked at Trump's racist, xenophobic rhetoric as a source of encouragement. And some of the most prominent far right groups have openly embraced and endorsed the president. 

Trump has not made a particularly strong effort to disavow their support, and his behavior has often aligned with their toxic worldviews. Earlier this month at a rally in Minnesota, for example, Trump told a crowd of nearly all white supporters that they have "good genes," echoing the views of neo-Nazis that white people are genetically superior. 

In 2016, the Ku Klux Klan's official newspaper endorsed Trump for president. The Trump campaign denounced the endorsement, even as Trump continued to spread disinformation on immigrants and refugees in an effort to dehumanize and villify them. 

Shortly after Trump won the election in 2016, white nationalists gathered for a conference in Washington to celebrate Trump's victory with Nazi salutes. Richard Spencer, a well-known neo-Nazi, in a speech opening up the conference said: "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!" 

Trump quickly disavowed Spencer, but his behavior did not change. The president put barring people from Muslim countries from the US at the top of his agenda after being inaugurated, despite slim evidence it would benefit US national security in a palpable way. 

In one of the most infamous moments of his presidency, Trump in August 2017 blamed "many sides" for deadly neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville. The president said there were "very fine people" on "both sides." Trump and his allies have since claimed that Democrats and the media have embellished his remarks after the white nationalist rally, but what he said is on video and can also be found on the White House website (which transcribes his public remarks). 


White nationalist groups were also encouraged by Trump's response to Charlottesville and the false equivalence he presented between violent neo-Nazis and counterprotesters. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke at the time celebrated Trump's remarks via Twitter, thanking the president for condemning the "leftist terrorists."

After the backlash to his initial remarks, Trump issued a more forceful condemnation of white nationalist groups. But it was too little too late. 

Amid ongoing protests over racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd, Trump has relied heavily on white supremacist ploys in an effort to boost his reelection campaign. The president has lauded supporters who've headed into Portland to confront and antagonize anti-racism protesters, which has already had deadly consequences. Meanwhile, he's decried those protesting racism as "terrorists" and praised violent crackdowns by law enforcement. 

Trump's condemnation of white supremacist groups has almost always been prompted by widespread backlash over comments he's made in concert with their ideologies. This pattern has played out over and over throughout his tenure, with virtually no changes in his overall behavior. As the US draws closer to Election Day, Trump appears to have abandoned the facade altogether. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden called Trump a "racist" to his face on the debate stage on Tuesday, and the president didn't flinch. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

8 clothing brands we count on for affordable women's basics


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Universal Standard
Universal Standard's size-inclusive basics are a great addition to any closet.

  • Every wardrobe needs some great basics that can lay the foundation for plenty of outfits.
  • Brands like Everlane, Pact, and Universal Standard have taught us that high-quality basics don't have to cost so much.
  • Here are five companies we come back to again and again when we need to add new T-shirts, jeans, and more versatile staples to our wardrobes.

We've all had those moments, standing in front of a closet full of perfectly good clothing, but still unable to find an outfit we like. In those "I-have-nothing-to-wear" moments, you pull out the basics — classic, reliable pieces you can always count on to look and feel great. The super-soft, plain-white T-shirt. The jeans that hug you in all the right places. The tailored blazer that makes it look like you put a lot more thought into your outfit

Great basics are — or, should be — the foundation of your wardrobe. When you have a few simple pieces you love, getting dressed in the morning is much easier. Just about every brand offers its own take on the basics, but these are the ones we always come back to. Combining high-quality materials, affordability, and flattering styles, these companies make the better basics you'll want to wear every day.

Keep reading for seven brands that make great, everyday basics you need in your closet:

everlane market tote

Shop modern, minimalist basics at Everlane

Best for: Minimalist, modern pieces that go with every budget and style

Why you'll love it: There's a lot of hype around Everlane, and we think it's well worth it. Prior to working at Business Insider, I had never bought a piece from the brand, but after hearing my teammates' consistently rave reviews, I bought two pieces that quickly became outfit go-tos.

One of my colleagues recently shared a similar sentiment after trying his first Everlane pieces, and for good reason. Everlane is strongly focused on transparency, giving consumers the cost breakdown of every item, down to the factory where the piece is made and where materials are sourced. Beyond the brand's sustainable, ethical practices, its clothes and accessories really deliver on quality and style. You'll find simple T-shirts, sweaters, work pants, and more in universally flattering fits and a wide range of colors — there's really something for everyone. 

Learn more about some of our favorite Everlane clothes and shoes:

Universal Standard

Shop size-inclusive basics at Universal Standard

Best for: Modern essentials that are universally flattering on all body types

Why you'll love it: Universal Standard was born out of two women's frustration with the lack of stylish clothing options out there for plus-size women. That's why they set out to make amazing basics that look great on all women and, more importantly, make every woman feel great in her skin.

Overall, the site boasts a modern, stylish collection full of what we'd consider staples, but if you're really looking for the basics, head to the "Foundation" section — it's full of a range of simple tanks and tees that make great base layers for any outfit. If you're not sure what you want, Universal Standard also offers the option to purchase a capsule — it's a curated collection of some of its bestselling pieces catered to your lifestyle, like workwear and activewear.

Learn more about some of our favorite Universal Standard pieces:

pact apparel

Shop soft staples at Pact

Best for: Cost-conscious and environmentally friendly basics that are soft, lightweight, and simple

Why you'll love it: Pact doesn't think being cost-conscious and environmentally conscious should be mutually exclusive. That's why the brand is committed to making super-soft, comfortable products using organic cotton in Fair Trade factories. While organic is usually synonymous with expensive, Pact's products are very affordable — leggings cost $20, T-shirts go for $25, and hoodies for $50, to give you a sense of pricing.

Pact has a wide range of products for men, women, and kids — you'll find clothing, undergarments, and even bedding — though within each category, the selection is small. For example, men can choose from three T-shirt styles and there are just four dress styles for women, all offered in a few colors and patterns. If you have trouble making decisions, you'll appreciate Pact's thoughtful selection of just the basics. 

Learn more about some of our favorite Pact pieces:


Shop trendy basics at DSTLD

Best for: Premium basics and trendy essentials at surprisingly affordable prices

Why you'll love it: If your dream capsule wardrobe draws up thoughts of effortlessly chic leather jackets, premium denim, slouchy tees, and other pieces that are as cool as they are timeless, you'll love DSTLD. The direct-to-consumer model has allowed the brand to bring down prices pretty significantly, without sacrificing quality along the way. That means you can get a beautiful wool coat for $180, not far off from a price you would pay at a fast-fashion store like Zara, and a real leather jacket for $400 that would probably cost more than double if you bought it retail. All of the pieces sit in a neutral palette, making them easy to mix and match, so you can perfect that "I-just-woke-up-and-threw-this-on" vibe.

Learn more about some of our favorite DSTLD pieces:


Shop timeless basics at Cuyana

Best for: Timeless, modern, and feminine pieces made with quality materials and craftsmanship

Why you'll love it: For simple pieces with chic, feminine touches, Cuyana is a no-brainer. The brand embodies a "less is more" ethos, advocating for a closet that's full of fewer, but better pieces.

If you're wondering what better means — think beautiful pieces that are thoughtfully made every step of the way, from where the materials are sourced, to the factory where everything is put together, to what smart features are included on the product itself.

Other than clothing, we're fond of the brand's simple leather bags. While pricier than many of the other brands on this list, Cuyana prides itself on the idea that these will really be all you need (remember: fewer, better). Timeless silhouettes, beautiful colors, and simple but elegant touches make Cuyana's pieces ones you'll want to put on, especially when you're craving the chic-with-minimal-effort look. 

Learn more about some of our favorite Cuyana pieces:


Shop affordable basics at Uniqlo

Best for: Minimal, contemporary basics at a great price

Why you'll love it: Japanese brand Uniqlo is one of our favorite destinations for affordable basics. The brand has a huge selection of simple and sleek pieces that work for most occasions. From performance workout apparel to modern workwear, denim, and more, Uniqlo has pretty much everything you need to fill your wardrobe — and, it won't break the bank. 

Uniqlo makes it easy to stock up on wardrobe essentials with its affordable prices. T-shirts start at $10, denim starts at $40, and you can even pick up a warm winter jacket for less than $100. Uniqlo also frequently collaborates with fashion designers and other brands to make limited-edition collections. Right now, you can shop Uniqlo's collection with JW Anderson, which is filled with spring-ready pieces.

Learn more about some of our favorite Uniqlo pieces:

Richer Poorer
Richer Poorer Femme Boxer

Shop comfortable basics at Richer Poorer

Best for: Cozy, high-quality loungewear and undergarments

Why you'll love it: There was a time when Richer Poorer was almost bankrupt. Now, the brand has a cult-like following with products that garner thousand-person waitlists. Richer Poorer's success lies in this fact: everything is seriously comfortable. We think its some of the comfiest clothing we've ever worn

From cotton bralettes to fleece sweatshirts, it's all supremely soft. And, you can tell from just one wear that the pieces are high quality. Richer Poorer actually prewashes many of its pieces with silicone to give everything a comfortable, broken-in feel. The T-shirts and undergarments tend to be pretty affordable, with most in the $30-40 range. The fleece sweats are on the pricier side (about $70 apiece), but they cost far less than other high-end athleisure pieces while still having a luxurious loungewear feel. 

Learn more about some of our favorite Richer Poorer pieces:


Shop comfortable basics at Madewell

Best for: Simple, timeless basics and great denim

Why you'll love it: Madewell is J.Crew's cool younger sister. The brand is loved for its timeless essentials, great denim, and simple pieces with modern twists. If you're looking for a one-stop-shop for your casual, but still stylish uniform, Madewell should be your go-to. Tuck one of the brand's boxy T-shirts into a pair of jeans and throw on a cozy cardigan and a pair of their leather boots. Madewell has it all.

The denim is some of our favorite, and it goes on sale often. Madewell offers most jeans in three lengths: petite, regular, and tall. This makes it easy to find a perfect fit for your body. There's always a great selection of silhouettes and washes, from everyday options like skinny jeans to more trendy styles like flares and ripped pairs. The T-shirts, another basic we love, tend to be around $20 and are simple, last a long time for the price, and go with everything.

If you're looking for some more exciting pieces, Madewell has those too. You can expect lots of cool blouses, sweaters, and dresses. Madewell also frequently collaborates with other iconic style brands. Right now, you can shop a limited-edition collection made with Kule, an NYC brand with a French-chic aesthetic.

Learn more about some of our favorite Madewell pieces:

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Trump's claims about US election security in the first debate were as wildly false as they were incoherent

Trump debate.JPG
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the first 2020 presidential campaign debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., September 29, 2020.
  • President Trump spread an unprecedented amount of false and misleading information about voting and election integrity in the first US presidential debate. 
  • In addition to falsely claiming that mail ballots are rife with fraud, Trump called upon his supporters to descend on polling places to "closely watch" in-person voting too. 
  • Here's an annotated, step-by-step fact-check and breakdown of Trump's key statements on election integrity in Tuesday's debate.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump made a disturbing number of incorrect claims about election integrity in voting and said he is "counting on" the US Supreme Court and his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett to potentially resolve a disputed election in the first presidential debate against Democratic nominee Joe Biden. 

Tuesday's debate, moderated by Fox News' Chris Wallace at Case Western University in Ohio, was split into six fifteen-minute segments on six topics including, at the end, election integrity. Since the beginning of the pandemic when states began expanding mail voting, Trump has sowed distrust and cast doubt over the results of the November election. 

On the topic of election integrity, Trump spread an unprecedented amount of false and highly misleading information, refused to commit to accepting the results of the 2020 election, and called on his supporters to descend upon polling places to "watch" for fraud in the span of only a few minutes. 

There's a lot to unpack in Trump's statements, so here's an annotated, step-by-step fact-check and breakdown of Trump's key statements on election integrity adapted from Rev's transcript of the debate, edited for clarity and crosstalk between the candidates and the moderator.

Just 0.00006% of all votes cast by mail in 20 years led to convictions

Trump: "As far as the ballots are concerned, it's a disaster. A solicited ballot, okay, solicited, is okay. You're soliciting. You're asking. They send it back. You send it back. I did that. If you have an unsolicited… They're sending millions of ballots all over the country. There's fraud."

Fact check: Throughout this year, Trump has falsely claimed that mail voting is rife with fraud, and made a misleading distinction between "solicited" and "unsolicited" ballots. 

Before the pandemic, the five states of Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington sent all registered voters ballots that could be returned via the US mail or with a secure ballot dropbox. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, California, the District of Columbia, Nevada, New Jersey, and Vermont are also sending all or most registered voters ballots in the mail.

All of the major battleground states likely to decide the election allow any voter to vote by mail without an excuse, but are not sending all voters ballots. There are numerous checks and balances to prevent fraud, whether a ballot is sent to a voter automatically or whether a voter has to affirmatively request one.

The conservative Heritage Foundation's database of voter fraud cases finds that there have been 1,121 criminal convictions for all voter fraud and 193 officially documented and officially penalized cases, including 143 criminal convictions, for fraudulent use of absentee ballots over the past 20 years, a time during which approximately 250 million ballots were cast by mail. 

As MIT elections scholar Charles Stewart and National Vote At Home Institute CEO Amber McReynolds, two leading experts on voting by mail, noted in an April op-ed, those figures come out to 7.1 convictions per year nationwide and an average of three convictions per state in the past 20 years, accounting for just 0.00006% of all votes cast by mail in that time.

Rates of fraud are also extremely low in states that send all voters ballots. Heritage's database reports two documented cases of fraudulent use of mail ballots in Oregon, five in Colorado, six in Washington, and none in Hawaii or Utah over the past fifteen years. 

There is no evidence ballots are being dumped 'in creeks'

Trump: "They found them in creeks. They found some, just happened to have the name Trump just the other day in a wastepaper basket. They're being sent all over the place. They sent two in a Democrat area. They sent out a thousand ballots. Everybody got two ballots. This is going to be a fraud like you've never seen. On November 3rd, you're watching, and you see who won the election. And I think we're going to do well because people are really happy with the job we've done." 

Fact check: There is no evidence of any ballots being dumped in rivers or creeks. Trump's allusion to two ballots being sent in a "Democrat area" appears to be a reference to a mix-up in the elections office of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina — a state where voters must affirmatively request a ballot — where election officials initially sent Charlotte voters the wrong ballots and re-issued them correct ones. 

"Election Director Michael Dickerson said the mix-up affected less than 500 voters," the Charlotte Observer reported. "But there's no chance that voters can vote twice. Each mailing label has a unique identifier that prohibits that. Plus voting more than once is a felony."

Ohio election
Election worker Thurayya Umb reviews applications for election ballots at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Wednesday, April 22, 2020, in Cleveland

No, 40% of mail-in ballots are not being lost

Trump: "But you know what? We won't know. We might not know for months because these ballots are going to be all over. Take a look at what happened in Manhattan. Take a look at what happened in New Jersey. Take a look at what happened in Virginia and other places. They're not losing 2%, 1%, which by the way is too much. An election could be won or lost with that. They're losing 30 and 40%. It's a fraud, and it's a shame. And can you imagine where they say, 'You have to have your ballot in by November 10th.' November 10th. That's seven days after the election, in theory, should have been announced."

Fact check: Trump claims in this answer that mail voting is rife with fraud, which it is not, and that mail voting is bad because mail ballots have higher rates of rejection than in-person votes, fundamentally contradict each other. 

Trump is right that mail ballots do face higher rates of rejection than in-person votes, but the reason for that trend is specifically because of the safeguards in place to prevent the kind of fraud Trump speaks about. 

In all states with voter registration, individuals must be properly registered to vote in order to vote by mail. All states further require that voters sign an affidavit on the outer envelope containing their ballot affirming their identity, and that ballots arrive or be postmarked by Election Day.

Most affix barcodes or identification numbers specific to each unique voter on ballot materials to ensure that the voter who receives a ballot is the one who fills it out and returns it, and also offer ballot tracking for voters to check on the status of their ballot. 

Indeed, in the 2017 New York City mayoral election, First Lady Melania Trump's absentee ballot was rejected because she failed to sign the outer envelope and Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump's ballot was rejected because it arrived past the deadline, the New York Daily News reported.

Now, over 30 states also use signature verification for mail ballots, where officials match a voter's signature with the most recent signature on file with the office, and others require witness or notary signatures on mail ballot envelopes.

States allowing ballots that are postmarked by Election Day or the day before to be accepted if they arrive after November 3 — something Trump complained about in his answer — is a policy measure that actually reduces the rate of ballots rejected for late arrival, a top reason ballots have been disqualified so far this year. 

And while the winner of the presidential race may not be called on election night, it's not true that the United States won't know the winner for "months." Election results are never truly finalized on election night, because officials have to canvass late-arriving absentees and provisional ballots, but most states now allow officials to conduct some pre-processing of mail ballots prior to Election Day. 

Trump's allusion to "Manhattan" and to the problems with Rep. Carolyn Maloney's re-election race this summer, in which abnormally high rates of voters never received ballots at all or had their ballots rejected, touches on real systemic problems with New York City's election administration, but is not proof of widespread fraud. 

New York voters are not committing fraud at widespread rates, but are rather being disenfranchised and underserved by a Board of Elections which, in numerous instances over the years and now in 2020, has fallen short in some areas of competently administering elections.  

Pennsylvania ballots
Donna Blatt, the Chief Registrar, with the applications for mail-in ballots they have received at the Berks County Office of Election Services on September 3, 2020

There is no widespread ballot selling

Trump: "You either do, Chris, a solicited ballot, where you're sending it in, they're sending it back and you're sending. They have mailmen with lots of it. Did you see what's going on? Take a look at West Virginia, mailman selling the ballots. They're being sold. They're being dumped in rivers. This is a horrible thing for our country."

Fact check: So far, there is no credible evidence that widespread vote-buying is taking or place or that ballots are being "bought" or "sold." In 2020, Heritage's database has documented a case of four individuals in California convicted of bribing homeless individuals for falsified signatures on ballot petitions and voter registration forms, but no cases of vote bribery with mail ballots. 

The case of a mailman in West Virginia Trump referred to was actually an instance of attempted election fraud to benefit his own party.

As WSAZ and the Associated Press reported, a West Virginia mail carrier pleaded guilty to tampering with eight paper mail ballot applications he was tasked with delivering back to elections offices by changing the party ballot requested from Democratic to Republican with black ink. 

Philadelphia is not denying legitimate poll watchers access

Trump: "I'm urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that's what has to happen. I am urging them to do it. As you know, today there was a big problem. In Philadelphia, they went in to watch. They're called poll watchers, a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out. They weren't allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia. Bad things. And I am urging my people. I hope it's going to be a fair election. If it's a fair election… I am 100% on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can't go along with that."

Fact check: Contrary to what Trump said, legitimate poll watchers in Philadelphia have not been denied from observing at the polls. Pennsylvania has not commenced traditional in-person voting yet statewide, but Philadelphia began allowing voters to pick up and fill out absentee ballots at satellite locations on Tuesday, a type of voting sometimes referred to as "in-person absentee."

As The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Tuesday and as Suzanne Almeida, the interim executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, explained to reporters on Wednesday, the Trump campaign doesn't even have any poll watchers approved to work in Pennsylvania in the first place, not to mention that poll watchers are not permitted to observe at satellite offices.

"The satellite elections offices are not polling locations the way we might see them in other states," Almeida said. "They are satellite county offices where folks who are registered to vote can apply, receive, and turn in a vote by mail ballot. There is no provision under the Pennsylvania Election Code that allows for poll watchers" at such locations. 

Al Schmidt, a Republican Philadelphia city commissioner, told The Inquirer that poll watchers weren't approved to observe at such satellite voting locations because "We don't give someone a poll-watcher certificate to … watch somebody fill out their ballot at their kitchen table."

In no jurisdiction in the United States, and especially not during a pandemic, is any individual allowed to show up at the polls unannounced to serve as a poll-watcher. 

"As in most states, there are strict rules about who can and cannot be a poll watcher and what those poll watchers can do," Almeida said. "In Pennsylvania, one of those rules is that poll watchers must be registered by the county, they get something called a poll watcher certificate. The Trump campaign had no certified poll watchers in Philadelphia." 

Furthermore, rates of in-person voter fraud are even rarer than voter fraud with mail ballots. Heritage's database has identified just 13 cases of in-person voter impersonation documented between six states over the past 16 years. 

Florida voters Miami-Dade
MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 11: Poll workers help a voter put their mail-in ballot in an official Miami-Dade County ballot drop box on August 11, 2020 in Miami, Florida.

Officials are investigating election issues, not ignoring them

Trump: "It means you have a fraudulent election. You're sending out 80 million ballots-They're not equipped… These people aren't equipped to handle it, number one. Number two, they cheat. They cheat. Hey, they found ballots in a wastepaper basket three days ago, and they all had the name military ballots. There were military. They all had the name Trump on them." 

Fact check: Trump, including in last night's debate, has falsely claimed that 80 million Americans are being sent "unsolicited" ballots. In reality, approximately 51 million voters are being sent ballots automatically without having to request one from their election officials, according to the Washington Post. 

The military ballots found in a wastebasket Trump mentioned was a reference to a recent incident in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania where a temporary contract worker mistakenly opened envelopes containing ballots of military voters and improperly discarded nine ballots, seven of which had been cast for Trump. 

The Department of Justice released two short and vaguely-worded statements stating that ballots had been "discarded" in Luzerne County, causing confusion and giving rise to theories that election tampering had taken place. Elections experts and former prosecutors criticized the DOJ both for releasing details of an incomplete investigation and for mentioning who the ballots were cast for, which undermined the right to a secret ballot. 

As subsequent statements from the DOJ and Luzerne County officials revealed, the error was inadvertent and appeared to be a result of under-trained workers mistaking the ballot envelopes for envelopes containing absentee ballot applications. There is no evidence that the improper discarding of ballots was intentional or politically-motivated. 

Indeed, the county said, workers in the county elections office weren't even aware that seven of the ballots had been cast for Trump until the DOJ's press release. 

Almeida, of Common Cause Pennsylvania, said the way that election officials immediately responded to correct the error, including alerting local law enforcement and having workers search in dumpsters to recover the ballots, shows the system functioned as intended. 

"While the ballots should have not been discarded in the first place, everything that happened afterwards from Pennsylvania elections offices was exactly as it should have been," she said. "As soon as it was discovered, the worker's supervisor reported it to the county elections director, who reported it to the district attorney, who, after doing some investigation, reported it to the Department of Justice."

Read the original article on Business Insider

How 11 of the world's most momentous pandemics changed the course of human history

Depiction of the plague in Italy in the 17th century, seen in the Museo Storico Nazionale Dell'Arte Sanitaria.
  • Pandemics have afflicted civilizations throughout human history, with the earliest known outbreak occurring in 430 BC during the Peloponnesian War.
  • Many of these pandemics have had significant impacts on human society, from killing large percentages of the global population to causing humans to ponder larger questions about life
  • Here are 11 of the most momentous pandemics that altered the course of human history, including the coronavirus, declared a pandemic by the WHO on March 11.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Plague of Justinian (541 - 750 AD)
Justinian I
Justinian I (483 - 565 AD) ruled the Byzantine (aka Eastern Roman) Empire, and reconquered much of the Western Roman Empire before losing it again.

The reign of Justinian I, the emperor of the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century, was hampered by an outbreak of bubonic plague. Now known as the Plague of Justinian, this pandemic is thought to have killed between 30 million and 50 million people, perhaps equal to as much as half of the world's population at the time.

The Justinian plague definitely happened, but researchers are still poring over the evidence as to just how bad it was, about 1,500 years ago.

The traditional narrative of this pandemic was that trade largely ceased and the empire was weakened, allowing other civilizations to reconquer previously Byzantine lands in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and parts of Asia. As Justinian was in the process of reuniting the eastern and western halves of the Roman empire when the plague hit, it has even been blamed as the true end of that era. 

Ultimately, we know how bad it could have been: half of the world died, the Roman Empire was never united again, and the Dark Ages began.

Black Death (1347 - 1351)
smallpox plague
Image from the Toggenburg Bible (1411) of plague victims suffering from boils.

Between 1347 and 1351, bubonic plague spread throughout Europe, killing approximately 25 million people. European population levels took over 200 years to return to their level from before 1347. It likely killed greater numbers in Asia, especially China, where it is thought to have originated.

Other results of the pandemic, known later as the Black Death, was the beginning of the decline of serfdom as so many people had died that the survivors' standard of living actually increased. Workers had more work opportunities, and social mobility increased, while there was also a short-lived moratorium on warfare.

Culturally, the cataclysm prompted an increase in mysticism as so much suffering challenged the religious dominance of the Roman Catholic Church. Reactions to the plague also included an upsurge in bigotry and scapegoating, with more instances of heightened prejudice and even pogroms against minorities including Jews and Roma.

Smallpox (15th - 17th centuries)
Smallpox Vaccination
Undated illustration depicting English physician Edward Jenner's first smallpox vaccination, performed on James Phipps in 1796. After a painting by GG Melingue.

Europeans introduced a number of new diseases when they first arrived in the continents of the Americas in 1492. One of these was smallpox, a contagious disease that kills around 30% of those infected.

During this period, smallpox claimed the lives of approximately 20 million people, close to 90% of the population, in the Americas. The pandemic helped Europeans colonize and develop the newly vacated areas, forever altering the histories of the Americas, their European conquerors, and the global economy.

The exploitation of the mineral wealth of the "New World" in the form of silver and gold from Latin America, for example, led to massive inflation within the farflung Spanish Empire. The great economic thinker John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1930 that this "price revolution" was a crucial turning point in the formation of modern capitalism.

Cholera (1817 - 1823)
Patients rest on stretchers in the Cholera Treatment Center of Diquini in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Patients wait at the Cholera Treatment Center of Diquini in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The first cholera pandemic began in Jessore, India, and spread through most of the region and then to neighboring areas. It was the first of 7 major cholera pandemics that have killed millions of people. A British physician named John Snow knew some things about how to prevent it from spreading, and in 1854 stemmed the outbreak by isolating its source to a particular water pump in London's Soho neighborhood.

The World Health Organization has called cholera "the forgotten pandemic" and said that its seventh outbreak, which began in 1961, continues to this day. Cholera reportedly infects 1.3 million to 4 million people every year, with annual fatalities ranging from 21,000 to 143,000.

As cholera is caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with a certain bacteria, it overwhelmingly harms countries hampered by extreme wealth inequality and lack of social development. Cholera continues to change the world by hurting the parts of it least able to defend themselves, while richer countries barely worry about it.


Spanish Flu, or H1N1 (1918 - 1919)
flu epidemic, 1918
The Oakland Municipal Auditorium was used as a temporary hospital, featuring volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross, during the influenza pandemic of 1918, in Oakland, California.

The Spanish Flu, also known as the 1918 influenza pandemic, was an outbreak of a H1N1 virus that infected around 500 million people, or a third of the world's population, in the early 21st century. The pandemic was responsible for killing over 50 million people globally.

At the time of the outbreak, World War I was coming to an end and public health authorities had no or few official protocols in place for dealing with viral pandemics, which contributed to its large impact.

In the years to come, research into understanding how the pandemic happened and how it could have been prevented led to improvements in public health and helped lessen the impact of similar outbreaks of flu-like viruses afterward.

Hong Kong Flu, or H3N2 (1968 - 1970)
FILE - This 2011 electron microscope image provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows H3N2 influenza virions. In January 2019, the flu season was shaping up to be one of the shortest and mildest in recent U.S. history. But a surprising second viral wave has just made it the longest, according to the flu statistics released on Friday, April 19, 2019. (Dr. Michael Shaw, Doug Jordan/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP)
A 2011 electron microscope image provided by the CDC showing the H3N2 influenza virus.

Fifty years after the Spanish Flu, another influenza virus, H3N2, spread around the world. Estimates put the number of global fatalities at around one million people, about 100,000 of which were in the US.

The 1968 pandemic was the third outbreak of influenza to occur in the 20th century, the other two being the Spanish Flu in 1918 and the Asian flu pandemic of 1957. It is believed that the virus responsible for the Asian flu evolved and reemerged 10 years later into this so-called "Hong Kong flu," resulting in the H3N2 pandemic. The 21st century, though, has continued to see influenza outbreaks.

While not as deadly as the 1918 influenza outbreak, H3N2 was exceptionally contagious, with 500,000 people becoming infected within 2 weeks of the first reported case, in Hong Kong. The pandemic helped the global health community understand the vital role of vaccinations in preventing future outbreaks.

HIV/AIDS (1981 - present)
FILE PHOTO: A man poses as he displays his hand and face painted with messages during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign on the eve of World AIDS Day in Kolkata, India, November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A man during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign the day before World AIDS Day in Kolkata, India.

The first known cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in 1981 but the disease continues to infect and kill people today. Since 1981, 75 million people have had the HIV virus and approximately 32 million have died as a result. As a sexually transmitted disease for which there is no cure, HIV/AIDS is a persistent epidemic that continues to impact millions of people every year. Despite the lack of a cure for AIDS, antiretroviral therapy medications can control HIV and slow its progress dramatically, allowing someone infected to live a long life.

Basketball superstar Magic Johnson made history when he retired from the NBA in 1991, becoming the most prominent celebrity to go public with an HIV diagnosis at that time. Johnson remains a prominent businessman, and was part of a group that acquired the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team in 2012.

The negative influence of HIV/AIDS on the global economy is still being studied, particularly in Africa, the continent which has the largest percentage of HIV/AIDS cases. In the 1980s and '90s, the global LGBTQ community became vocal and visible in unprecedented ways because of the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on its members. One of the first mainstream films to address HIV/AIDS and homophobia was the Academy Award-winning "Philadelphia," released in 1993. 

SARS (2002 - 2003)
People wear masks as protection against the SARS virus as they wait to buy tickets at the Beijing Railway Station Wednesday, April 23, 2003.
People wear masks as protection against the SARS virus as they wait to buy tickets at the Beijing Railway Station Wednesday, April 23, 2003.

SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is an illness caused by one of the 7 coronaviruses that can infect humans. In 2003, an outbreak that originated in the Guangdong province of China became a global pandemic as it rapidly spread to a total of 26 countries, infecting just over 8,000 people and killing 774 of them.

The consequences of the 2003 SARS pandemic were largely limited due to an intense public health response by global authorities, including quarantining affected areas and isolating infected individuals. Scientists studying the new 2019 coronavirus have found that its genetic makeup is 86.9% identical to the SARS virus, and officials are now comparing the two to see if governments can successfully replicate any of the containment procedures from 2003.

The SARS outbreak increased awareness about preventing viral disease transmission, particularly in Hong Kong, where public surfaces have been regularly sanitized since and facemasks have become a common sight.

Swine Flu, or H1N1 (2009 - 2010)
h1n1 swine flu map
A map shows the path of H1N1, or "swine flu," as it spread across the US in the fall of 2009.

A new form of the influenza virus emerged in 2009, infecting approximately 60.8 million people in the US, with global deaths in the range of 151,700 to 575,400. Called the "swine flu" because it appeared to cross over from pigs to humans in transmission, H1N1 differed from typical influenza outbreaks in that 80% of the virus-related deaths occured in people younger than 65. Typically, 70% to 90% of deaths from influenza outbreaks occur in those older than 65.

H1N1 demonstrated just how quickly a viral pandemic can spread in the 21st century, indicating that additional preparations would be needed for the global community to respond faster in the future. A major legacy of the swine flu may have been how it exposed the persistent vulnerability of many countries with advanced healthcare systems to a fast-moving, flu-like outbreak. 

Ebola (2014 - 2016)
Workers burying the body of an Ebola victim in Beni, Congo, 2019.

The Ebola virus, named for a river close to the initial outbreak, was limited in its range compared to most modern pandemics but incredibly deadly. It began in a small village in Guinea in 2014 and spread to a handful of neighboring countries in West Africa. The virus killed 11,325 of the 28,600 infected people, with most cases occurring in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Of the 8 Americans who contracted Ebola, one died, according to the CDC.

Ebola is estimated to have cost a total of $4.3 billion, with inbound investments dramatically dropping in the three countries above. Like "the forgotten pandemic" of cholera, Ebola most ravaged countries least equipped to defend against it.

Coronavirus, or COVID-19 (2019 - present)
SouthKorea novel coronavirus spread wooha Cho:Getty Images
South Korean military members ordered to disinfect Seoul, South Korea, as the coronavirus spreads, on March 4, 2020.

The ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which causes a disease known as COVID-19, has revealed vulnerabilities in the global community's response to outbreaks of viruses. On March 11, the WHO characterized the outbreak as a pandemic.

As of September 2020, confirmed cases worldwide have surpassed 34 million with more than one million deaths. The CDC has recommended practicing social distancing. Theme parks and museums were shut down and major events around the globe were either canceled or postponed indefinitely.

In six months, over 60 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance. This number is higher than the claims filed during the 18-month long Great Recession. Travel, hospitality, and service sectors have been hit hard by layoffs and furloughs. On September 29, Disney announced it was cutting 28,000 theme park jobs. CNBC has previously reported that it had lost $3.5 million due to closures. 

Other major companies with layoffs and furloughs include Ralph Lauren, Dell, United Airlines. 

Ryder Kimball contributed reporting to this story.

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Pro-Trump websites aren't buying the president's claim that Joe Biden really meant US troops are 'stupid bastards'

trump biden
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate, September 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland.
  • President Donald Trump during the presidential debate on Tuesday accused former Vice President Joe Biden of calling US troops "stupid bastards" in 2016.
  • Biden did make the remarks, but his campaign said it was done so endearingly.
  • It is extremely unlikely Biden had maliciously disparaged US troops. In the same speech, the former vice president had praised the service members for their heroism and described them as "the finest generation of warriors the world has ever, ever known."
  • This comes after a report in The Atlantic in which anonymous sources said Trump had called fallen US soldiers "losers" and "suckers."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump during Tuesday's presidential debate unearthed past comments made by Democratic nominee Joe Biden in which the former vice president jokingly described deployed US service members as "stupid bastards."

During the debate in Cleveland, Ohio, Trump interrupted Biden's answer to a question on climate change. Trump was widely criticized for the number of times he cut Biden off.

"He made a statement about the military. He said I said something about the military," Trump said in response to Biden's statement about the Green New Deal. "He and his friends made it up, and then they went with it. I never said it. What he did is he said he called the military 'stupid bastards.'"

Trump appeared to be referencing comments made by Biden roughly 12 minutes earlier, in which the former vice president accused the sitting president of intentionally disparaging US service members. The allegation stems from a bombshell report in The Atlantic, which cited several unnamed sources claiming that Trump had callously called fallen troops "suckers" and "losers."

The president denied making those remarks following the report's publication.

President Donald Trump delivers commencement address at the 2020 United States Military Academy Graduation Ceremony at West Point, New York
President Donald Trump delivers his commencement address at the 2020 United States Military Academy Graduation Ceremony at West Point, New York.

On Tuesday, Trump lashed out at Biden by referencing a short video clip in which he referred to US troops as "stupid bastards."

Biden's campaign admitted that the Democrat had, in fact, made the remarks, which resurfaced on the internet over the weekend. In the full video that was uploaded by The Washington Examiner on Saturday, the then-vice president delivered a message of support to coalition forces deployed to the United Arab Emirates in 2016.

Biden praised the service members for their heroism and described them as "the finest generation of warriors the world has ever, ever known." After attempting to deliver a joke that failed to be noticed by his audience, Biden affectionately described the crowd as "stupid bastards" and a "slow bunch."

Biden, however, denied making the comments during the debate on Tuesday.

"I did not say that," he said.

"He said it on tape. He said 'stupid bastards,'" Trump replied. "He said it. I would never say that."

Biden's own son, Beau, served in the Delaware Army National Guard and deployed to Iraq. Beau died of brain cancer at 46 in 2015.

The far-right website Breitbart also noted Biden had "jokingly" made the remarks. The Blaze, another conservative blog, wrote in a sub-headline, "It was just a joke."

Despite the evidence that suggests otherwise, Trump's campaign seized on the video footage to suggest Biden had intentionally disparaged US service members.

"Joe Biden's campaign has confirmed the authenticity of the video where he is seen insulting our military men and women and calling them 'stupid bastards,'" the campaign tweeted. "Biden should apologize!"

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Billionaire investor Marc Lasry says investors should stay long through the election because trillions of dollars are going to be spent on the economy

Marc Lasry
Marc Lasry, an American billionaire businessman and co-founder and chief executive officer of Avenue Capital Group speaks during a Reuters investment summit in New York City, U.S., November 4, 2019.
  • Billionaire investor Marc Lasry told Fox Business on Wednesday that investors should stay long through the election because both parties will spend trillions of dollars, which will benefit the economy and market. 
  • The Avenue Capital Group CEO said that regardless of who wins the election, "trillions of dollars are going to be spent on this economy." 
  • Congress has been deadlocked on passing the next stimulus bill that would propel this spending.

Investors thinking about pulling out of the market before the election should stay long, according to billionaire investor Marc Lasry.

The Avenue Capital Group co-founder and CEO told Fox Business on Wednesday: "Trillions of dollars are going to be spent on this economy, because of this you want to be an investor and you want to be long."

Regardless of the party that wins the election, Lasry said he believes both parties will be spending money and that will be beneficial for the market. However, Congress has been deadlocked on passing the next stimulus bill that could provide more money to businesses and consumers.

Read more: UBS says the chances of a Democratic sweep have risen to 50% as Trump and Biden square off in their first debate. These 9 assets will help investors profit if a blue wave comes crashing in.

House Democrats are putting their $2.2 trillion stimulus package to a vote on Wednesday evening and the chamber is expected to approve it. But it likely faces staunch opposition in the GOP-controlled Senate. Earlier today Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill: "We're very, very far apart on a deal."

Read the original article on Business Insider

US stocks climb on stimulus hopes, still post first monthly loss since March

Traders wait for the opening of Whiting Petroleum's stock at the post where it's traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange March 24, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
  • US stocks climbed on Wednesday as investors digested a disorderly presidential debate and wavering hopes for a near-term stimulus deal.
  • All three major US indexes climbed through the day on renewed hopes for a deal. Stocks pared some gains after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell balked at Democrats' latest proposal.
  • The trio of indexes notched their first monthly losses since March after failing to retrace early September's tech-led slumps.
  • On the economic data front, the September ADP report said US private firms added 749,000 payrolls last month, handily beating the median economist estimate of 649,000 payrolls.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities climbed on Wednesday as investors bet on slight progress in stimulus-deal talks.

Premarket futures traded negative until Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that he expected to reach a stimulus deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. All three major US indexes then opened in positive territory and gained through the session on revived hopes for a near-term compromise.

Still, legislators have a ways to go before new spending proposals reach President Donald Trump's desk. House Democrats are set to vote on their $2.2 trillion measure tonight despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell balking at the bill's size. Pelosi and Mnuchin indicated they will continue to negotiate on a spending package.

Here's where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET close on Wednesday:

Read more: BANK OF AMERICA: Buy these 29 high-quality value stocks primed to cash in on the economic recovery

Despite Wednesday's gains, all three major indexes registered their first monthly declines since March. The gauges suffered throughout the month as investors balked at tech giants' lofty valuations and secured profits made in the market's summer rally.

The positive market open was a turnaround from declines in the futures market late Tuesday as President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden sparred on stage for the first time. The chaotic presidential debate traded policy discussion for insult-tossing and interruptions, leaving some to wonder whether two more scheduled debates would still take place.

Trump repeated claims that mail-in voting is fraudulent and stopped short of confirming that he would accept defeat should his opponent win in November. Several analysts have said a disputed election result would likely drive outsized market volatility and temporarily weigh on stocks.

"It's hard to pick a winner, I think we're all losers as far as that debate is concerned, but Biden went into the debate clearly ahead in the polls and I'd be amazed if last night changed anything," Craig Erlam, a senior market analyst at Oanda Europe, said in a note. "I guess he technically wins by default."

Read more: Michael Smith returned 39% to investors last year and is outpacing most of his rivals again in 2020. He breaks down how his fund differentiates itself from the competition, and shares 4 of his top stock picks today.

Indexes also pared some premarket losses after a better-than-expected reading from the monthly ADP report. Private US companies added 749,000 payrolls in September, the company said. That came in above the median economist estimate of 649,000 payrolls, according to Bloomberg data.

The monthly ADP report serves as a precursor to the US government's nonfarm-payrolls report on Friday. That release is expected to show that the unemployment rate fell to 8.2% from 8.4%. Economists also expect it to show 850,000 payroll additions in September.

Healthcare and consumer staples names drove indexes higher while energy and industrial stocks notched slight losses. Popular tech names including Apple, Microsoft, and Nvidia gained.

Palantir sank below its opening price of $10 per share after surging immediately after its highly anticipated direct listing. Asana similarly declined after its own Wednesday debut.

Disney sank after announcing plans to lay off 28,000 workers in the company's struggling resort business. It would be one of the largest layoffs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: JPMORGAN: The best defenses against stock-market crashes are delivering their weakest results in a decade. Here are 3 ways to adjust your portfolio for this predicament.

Micron fell as gloomy forward guidance overshadowed the chipmaker's strong quarterly performance. Though the company nearly doubled its profit, investors dumped shares after Micron said it wasn't sure when chip sales to Huawei could resume; Huawei's purchases made up 10% of Micron's fourth-quarter sales.

Spot gold sank after flirting with the $1,900 threshold, sliding as much as 0.9% to $1881.4800 per ounce. The precious metal has toyed with the key psychological level through the past week after losing the support in mid-September.

Oil traded mixed. West Texas Intermediate crude jumped as much as 2.8%, to $40.37 per barrel. Brent crude, oil's international benchmark, fell 1.8%, to $40.30 per barrel, at intraday lows.

Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

GOLDMAN SACHS: Buy these 16 stocks best-positioned to take advantage of unprecedented Fed money printing and potentially higher inflation in the years ahead

Record IPO frenzy will continue through October, NYSE president says

US pending home sales leap to record as housing-market surge continues

Read the original article on Business Insider

An actual clown on the debate: 'I hope we can set the record straight on what clowns actually are, and they are not Donald Trump'

clown clown shoes
The word "clown" ended up playing a big role in the debate.
  • At Tuesday's night presidential debate, Democratic nominee Joe Biden called President Donald Trump a 'clown.'
  • Business Insider spoke with Tim Cunningham, a clown and emergency nurse, about the usage of the term in the debate.
  • Cunningham said he laughed when he heard the term used, but that Trump does not exhibit the virtuosity of a clown.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Tim Cunningham decided to watch the presidential debate while on vacation.

Tuning in from a rural cabin in North Carolina, Cunningham felt he should fulfill his "obligation as a citizen" and listened as Democratic nominee Joe Biden called President Donald Trump a "clown."

One undecided voter — who said he voted for Trump in 2016 — was asked by CNN post-debate whether it was appropriate: "Is it great that Joe called him a clown? No, but when the shoe fits. When the clown shoe fits."

It was a clownish moment that reverberated around the world, but for Cunningham there was particular personal resonance. That's because he's a clown.

"When I heard it, I laughed out loud," Cunningham told Business Insider. "I'm fully behind what Biden is trying to do. We need to replace this person as soon as possible — this person being the current person who calls himself president."

Cunningham began studying to be a clown in 2000, and began working with a nonprofit clowning organization in 2003. After working as a hospital clown, he was inspired to go back to school and become an emergency nurse.

Today, he works as a nurse admin in Georgia, where he's been working with nurses and caregivers to help weather the COVID crisis. 

For Cunningham — who stressed that his opinions are his alone — Biden referring to Trump as a clown is a nuanced issue. He stressed the artistry that goes into clowning, saying that clowns are ultimately "virtuosos."

"The clown is capable of making that virtuosic act look easy, and in making it look easy, they also open themselves up to vulnerability and failure. And that's where the clown is beautiful, because we see an artist doing this incredible feat, and then every now and then they have a hiccup and they fail," he said. "And it's that moment of failure that we laugh. And then they bounce back up. They're truly resilient, and they guide us through a performance, and they connect with us."

While a clown may be virtuosic, that's not necessarily true of who the "c-word" was lobbed at last night. Does the clown shoe fit?

"The person who calls himself president is clearly not a virtuoso," Cunningham said. 

And that gets at the paradox of calling Trump a clown, according to Cunningham. While he may not exhibit the traits that Cunningham identifies as intrinsic to a clown, the usage of the term against him instead reflects where societal standards lie.

"It's concerning that Trump has lowered the standards of human decency so much — lowered the standards of what it means to hold the office of president, to be one of the most powerful people in the world — he's lowered it so much that the response from otherwise highly intelligent, compassionate people is to denigrate him by calling him a clown."

Cunningham said that ultimately he's both "offended" and "honored" by Trump being termed a "clown."

And looking towards the future, he said that, like a clown, he maintains a sense of optimism — and hopes for a future where, instead of bouncing back, we can bounce forward.

But there is one thing he wants to clear up:

"I hope we can set the record straight on what clowns actually are, and they are not Donald Trump."

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to clean Ugg boots and remove stains and odors from shearling


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Ugg Boots

Ever since UGG boots hit the market, sheepskin boots have become a comfort icon. Made from real animal hides that have been tanned to create a softly-napped outer finish and finely sheared wool for the lining, they must be hand-cleaned and treated with care just like suede shoes and jackets.

Some brands state that their shoes are machine-washable, but that probably means they're made from synthetic materials and not natural sheepskin. Whether you've just purchased new boots, or you're looking to get a favorite pair back in good shape again, here's everything you need to know about caring for sheepskin.

What to do first when you get a new pair of boots:

Most wearers begin to see signs of soil and staining after wearing the boots for just a few weeks, and the interior can develop some strong odors as well. To help prevent problems, here are three tips to keep the boots fresh longer.

  1. Use a stain-resistant and waterproof spray like Moneysworth & Best Suede and NuBuck Protector to coat the exterior before you wear the boots. Spray the sheepskin lightly and in layers, allowing each to dry before you apply the next coat. 
  2. Wear moisture-absorbing tights or socks each time you wear the boots. This will keep the interior cleaner and smelling better.
  3. After each wearing, gently brush the suede with the Shacke Suede & Nubuck 4-Way Leather Brush to remove accumulated surface dust and soil.

How to clean the outer surface of sheepskin boots:

Eventually, your boots are going to need a thorough cleaning. To prevent spotting, you need a gentle leather and wool cleaner like Outback Gold Wool Wash and at least 24 hours to allow the boots to dry slowly.

  1. Begin the cleaning process by giving the exterior of the boots a good brushing to remove loose dust and soil.
  2. Wipe away any excess mud from the soles with a wet paper towel.
  3. Following the leather cleaner label directions (Outback Gold recommends one teaspoon per gallon of water), mix a cleaning solution with warm water.
  4. Dip a sponge or microfiber cloth into the cleaning solution and wring so that most of the water is removed.
  5. Starting at the top of the boot, wipe down the entire surface using gentle circular motions. Rinse the cloth or sponge frequently, as soil is transferred.
  6. Be sure to evenly wet the boot so that no streaking or water-spotting occurs.

How to remove difficult stains from sheepskin boots:

Even brand-new or freshly cleaned boots can get stains. Fortunately, you don't have to throw them out — there are a few things you can do if your boots become a victim of oily foods or salted sidewalks.

  1. Oily stains: Cover the oily stain with a layer of baby powder or cornstarch and let it remain on the stain for at least 24 hours. Brush away the powder and repeat until the stain is gone.
  2. Scuff Marks: Use an artist gum eraser to gently buff away the scuff. Take care not to rub too hard and always follow the nap of the sheepskin. Finish by brushing with a suede brush to lift the nap.
  3. Salt Stains: Mix one tablespoon of distilled white vinegar and one cup of warm water in a small bowl. Dip a cloth in the solution and gently wipe the salt-stained area. Finish by dipping the cloth in plain warm water and wipe down the entire boot evenly to prevent watermarks. When the boots are dry, brush with the suede brush to lift the nap.

How to clean the wool inside of sheepskin boots:

Now it's time to clean and disinfect the interior shearling of the boot to get rid of bacteria and fungus that cause odor. For this, you will need a phenolic disinfectant (Lysol; currently out of stock) or pine oil disinfectant (Pine-Sol). Even though chlorine bleach is an excellent disinfectant, do not use it because it will cause the hide to stiffen and if too strong, the sheared wool will disintegrate.

  1. Mix a solution of the disinfecting cleaner and warm water following the label directions.
  2. Dip a sponge or microfiber cloth in the solution and wring until only damp.
  3. Wipe down the inside of each boot.
  4. If concerned about athlete's foot fungus, spray the interior with an anti-fungal spray.
  5. Now that your boots are cleaned inside and out, allow them to air-dry away from direct heat for at least 24 hours. Allowing them to dry slowly — that means no clothes dryer or hot hair dryer — will prevent cracking and damage to the hide.
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Presidential debate ratings dropped substantially from 2016, with a 35% decrease in TV viewership

biden trump debate tv ratings
People sit and watch a broadcast of the first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at The Abbey, with socially distanced outdoor seating, on September 29, 2020 in West Hollywood, California.
  • Despite some billing Tuesday night's debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden being billed as potentially the most watched debate in US history, the early ratings paint a different picture.
  • Nielsen found TV viewership was down more than 35% from the first debate in 2016, which maintains the title of the most watched contest.
  • Only 28.82 million people tuned in across the big four networks, down from more than 45 million for the first debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden did not live up to the hype of being the most watched in US history, with a 35% drop off from the first one in 2016, according to Nielsen.

In the early "fast national" Nielsen ratings first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, just 28.82 million people tuned in across the big four networks, down from more than 45 million for the first debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton.

More data will come into the picture from cable networks and out of home viewing, but the sharp decline in the early numbers indicates a phenomenon backed up by polling — much of the electorate has made up their minds and have decided to tune out.

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found only 11% of respondents identifying as undecided voters.

Debate ratings are usually highest for the first night.

In 2012, 67.2 million tuned in. In 2008, that number was 52.4 million. 

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Everything Google announced in its September event, with the new Pixel 5, Chromecast & smart speaker

Facebook removes dozens of Trump ads that falsely blamed refugees for spread of COVID-19

Trump debate.JPG
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the first 2020 presidential campaign debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., September 29, 2020.
  • Facebook has removed ads from the Trump campaign that claimed refugees were responsible for the spread of COVID-19, NBC News reported.
  • The campaign ran several variations of the ad in swing states before they were removed. 
  • "We don't allow claims that people's physical safety, health, or survival is threatened by people on the basis of their national origin or immigration status," a Facebook spokesperson told NBC. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Facebook removed Trump campaign ads that claimed refugees were responsible for spreading COVID-19, Jo Ling Kent and David Ingram at NBC News reported.

One of the ads, found by Business Insider in Facebook's ad library, said "Joe Biden wants to INCREASE refugees from Syria and Somalia by 700% PERCENT. Biden said as President he would make sure to IMMEDIATELY SURGE the border with all those who are seeking asylum." The ad also included a video of Joe Biden speaking, along with flags of Syria, Somalia, and Yemen, labeled as "terror hotspots" and text about the "health risks" involved. It did not include any sources.

According to Facebook's ad library, that particular ad reached between 500,000 and one million people in North Carolina, with between 60,000 and 70,000 impressions. It began running on Sep. 28 until it was removed Sep. 29. The campaign spent between $900 and $999 on it.

"We rejected these ads because we don't allow claims that people's physical safety, health, or survival is threatened by people on the basis of their national origin or immigration status," Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement to NBC.

trump fb ads covid
Facebook Ad Library.

The campaign ran at least 10 variations of this post in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and a few other states, and NBC reported there were 38 total variations. In all, at least between $15 and $20,000 was spent on the ads, according to Facebook's ad library. Facebook estimates more than 1 million impressions, though with the caveat that some of them could be recording the same viewer multiple times.

Facebook and the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to Business Insider's requests for comment.

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Here's what could happen if an ex-president refuses to leave the White House

A nighttime view of the White House.
  • For months, President Trump has been noncommittal about accepting the results of the 2020 election, alarming many Americans.
  • Since Trump took office in 2017, he has repeatedly discussed the possibility of staying in office for longer than two terms.
  • It remains unclear whether or not the Secret Service would play a role in removing a president who refuses to leave the White House premises.
  • If a president who lost the election refused to leave the White House, top military leaders have emphatically stated that civilian authorities would have to resolve the election.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.


With President Trump continually making conflicting statements on whether he'd leave office in January 2021, the notion of a peaceful transfer of power is becoming murkier by the day. The question of who would be responsible for physically removing a president from the White House is relevant for perhaps the first time in modern history.

At the moment, it is unclear who would have to manage such a nightmare scenario on Inauguration Day, but possible players include the newly-elected President and the Secret Service.

If a losing president still occupies the White House after his term expires in late January, the newly-elected President would likely have the power to direct the Secret Service to remove that individual from the premises, since any federal agents would no longer report to the old president. Even though former presidents retain a Secret Service detail, they are private citizens after their terms end and would no longer have presidential powers.

Last week, when asked by a reporter, Trump refused to ensure a transfer of power if he felt like the election wasn't honest, pivoting to mail-in ballots, which he feels are rife with fraudulent votes.

"We'll have to see what happens," he said. "You know that I've been strongly complaining about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster. Get rid of the ballots and we'll have a very peaceful — there won't be a transfer, frankly, there'll be a continuation."

This past June, Biden appeared on "The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah and said it was his belief that military leaders wouldn't let Trump stay in the White House past his term if he lost. 

"You have so many rank and file military personnel saying, well, we're not a military state, this is not who we are," he said. "I promise you, I'm absolutely convinced, they will escort him [Trump] from the White House in a dispatch."

However, contrary to Biden's statement, the military would not involve itself in election conflicts. In response to a House query to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, he made a commitment to that effect.

"In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. Military," he said. "We will not turn our backs on the Constitution of the United States."

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Trump's Helsinki summit with Putin was 'soul crushing' for Mueller's team and showed them Russia had won a 'servile' American president, new book says

Trump and Putin Helsinki
US President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin speak to the media during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland.
  • President Donald Trump's 2018 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was "soul crushing" for the special counsel Robert Mueller's team, according to a new book by Andrew Weissmann, who worked in Mueller's office.
  • Following their bilateral summit, Trump publicly sided with Putin over the US intelligence community and said he didn't see any reason why Russia would have interfered in the 2016 election. 
  • The summit came days after Mueller's office indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers for orchestrating a "hack-and-dump" operation to meddle in the 2016 race and hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign.
  • Weissmann wrote that after Trump sided with Putin, Mueller voiced his suspicion that if "the president was in the tank with Putin, 'It would be about money.'"
  • Trump walked his comments back amid widespread outrage, but Weissmann wrote that it was clear to him and another prosecutor in Mueller's office that the Russian government "had now gotten what it had worked so hard for: a servile, but popular, American leader."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Prosecutors and FBI agents working in the special counsel Robert Mueller's office were shell-shocked when they watched President Donald Trump publicly side with Russian President Vladimir Putin following a bilateral summit in Helsinki in 2018, according to a new memoir by the former Mueller prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann.

The Trump-Putin press conference came just days after the special counsel's office indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers on multiple felony charges related to the 2016 "hack-and-dump" operation against the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

It was the first time Mueller's team directly pointed a finger at the Russian government for meddling in the 2016 election, and it corroborated a 2017 assessment by the US intelligence community that concluded Putin ordered Russia's interference campaign.

But days later, during the Helsinki summit, the American president stood next to the Russian leader and said he trusted Putin over the US intelligence community.

Trump said he didn't "see any reason why" Russia would be responsible for the election meddling.

"I have President Putin," Trump said. "He just said it's not Russia I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be."

Back in Mueller's office, the comments were "surreal" and "soul crushing," Weissmann wrote in his book, "Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation," which hit shelves on Tuesday.

"By this time, Trump not only had the conclusions of the original intelligence assessment, but the incontrovertible proof" from Mueller's team "to expand on and corroborate it," he wrote. "Still, Trump said, Putin 'was extremely strong and powerful in his denial,' and that was apparently enough for him."

The president's comments were "profoundly alarming" and also sparked "general amazement" for the FBI agents working in Mueller's office, Weissmann said.

"It was like they'd built up a mountain of incriminating evidence only to watch the prosecutor suddenly decide to call off the case and go home, just because the defendant said he wasn't guilty," he added.

Weissmann continued: "The scene in Helsinki should have been stunning to the average American viewer, but for those within our office who'd poured energy into pinning down these facts, it was profoundly alarming. Here was our own president kowtowing to Putin, denying the election interference he had perpetrated on our nation and siding with a bloody dictator over a bipartisan consensus in the Senate and the nonpartisan conclusions of the IC that Putin had attacked our democracy."

The event set off "alarm bells" for Weissmann and another prosecutor in Mueller's office, Jeannie Rhee. Mueller, meanwhile, "looked exasperated" during the team's daily meeting that evening and speculated that Trump had financial reasons for caving to Putin.

The special counsel "commented that, if the president was in the tank with Putin, 'It would be about money' — that is, that Trump was motivated by money and his fawning behavior toward Putin could be explained by his seeking to make a buck in Russia," Weissmann wrote.

Trump eventually walked back his comments following a "bipartisan uproar" back in the US, but Weissmann and Rhee both thought it was clear that the Russian government "had now gotten what it had worked so hard for: a servile, but popular, American leader," he wrote.

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The increase in the number of people starting their own businesses in the US has surged to a 13-year high

Business owner
  • The increase in applications for new businesses in the US hit a 13-year high, according to an analysis of US Census Bureau data from the Wall Street Journal.
  • Applications have increased as a result of small businesses across the country being forced to close their doors, both in-person and virtually, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the report.
  • Launching and growing a startup is risky, and roughly 50% survive their first 5 years, according to the US Small Business Association.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

There was a record increase in applications for new businesses in the US in the last year.

New applications for an employer ID in the US "reached 1.1 million through mid-September, a 12% increase over the same period last year and the most since 2007," according to an analysis of US Census Bureau data by The Wall Street Journal. That number excludes gig workers, but including that specification of independent contractor boosts the number even higher, according to the report.

The Journal ties the spike in applications to a variety of contributing factors, including small businesses across the country being forced to close their doors, both in-person and virtually, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Other factors cited include a boost in personal savings rates, evolving consumer behavior, and an uptick in spending across states as they've sought to ease restrictions after the federal tax-filing deadline was pushed back to July from its original date in April. 

"This pandemic is actually inducing a surge in employer business startups that takes us back to the days before the decline in the Great Recession," John Haltiwanger, an economist at the University of Maryland, told The Wall Street Journal

The US economy added 1.37 million jobs in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fourth consecutive month of job growth. Additionally, the US unemployment rate in August fell to 8.4%. 

This mark was down from 10.2% in July and better than April's historically high 14.7% unemployment rate that happened to be the highest on record since the Great Depression. Still, the number of permanent job losses increased by 534,000 to 3.4 million, inspiring more Americans to pursue their own start-up ventures.

"These jobs numbers reflect a big win for American workers," Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, said after employment numbers for August were released. "Unemployment breaking the 10% barrier so decisively is a big psychological lift as well." 

Looking ahead, US unemployment numbers for September will be released by the BLS on Friday. Markets Insider forecasts that the unemployment rate will decline to 8.2%. 

Starting a business is inherently risky. Roughly half of startups survive long enough to hit the 5-year mark, according to the US Small Business Administration. Contributing factors for a company failing vary. Forbes reported that more than 7 out of 10 startups fail in the US as a result of premature scaling, and a majority of startup founders conclude that their intellectual property isn't a competitive advantage like they thought it would be. 

But for many people in the US, this is a time to get creative in an attempt to make ends meet. Congress hasn't passed an economic relief bill to aid American workers since it passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, in March. Most of the bill's benefits expired this summer. 

Stalled negotiations led House Democrats on Monday to unveil a $2.2 trillion stimulus plan that features a reinstatement of the Paycheck Protection Program to assist struggling small businesses nationwide.

However, data from the Small Business Administration showed that roughly $134 billion in PPP funds hadn't been used even after Congress extended the deadline for the $670 million PPP fund for five weeks following its June expiration.

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I am a management nerd, and the Miami Heat are everything I love about effective organizations

jimmy butler heat
Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler (22) reaches for the ball during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game against the Boston Celtics Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Celtics won 121-108. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
  • The Miami Heat are headed to the NBA Finals, which start Wednesday.
  • They are underdogs, a 5-seed upsetting their way to a conference championship. 
  • They model organizational cohesion, talent development, and sound management in high-pressure situations.
  • Let's learn from them.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Miami Heat are back in the NBA finals after just six years away. 

It's a remarkable feat for a relatively new franchise — founded in 1988 — and the Heat has an impressive trophy cabinet, with six conference titles and three championships.

But most impressive of all may be that this 2020 Heat team, unlike its previous championship runs with LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, is a true underdog, a 5-seed that has upset its way to the Finals. The 2020 Heat blueprint is a case study in how highly effective organizations work.

In basketball terms, they are a blend of 1980s grit and 2010s sparkle. In management terms, their blend of iterative leadership, talent development, and holistic team culture mark them as a model organization. 

Let's take each of those points in turn, and how they apply to leaders in non-athletic competitions. 

Pat Riley, Eric Spoelstra, and LeBron James
The last run: Pat Riley, Eric Spoelstra, and LeBron James.

Iterative leadership: Coach Eric Spoelstra

Head Coach Eric Spoelstra is thought to be one of the best tactical coaches in the game, though his Hall of Fame credentials have often been discounted for two major reasons. Firstly, he replaced Pat Riley, the legendary former LA Lakers and New York Knicks coach, who started building Miami in his own image in the mid-1990s. Secondly, his coaching was overlooked because he had the pleasure of coaching James and Wade. 

With a team that looks sustainable for years to come, this underdog run is perhaps the first pure showcase of his coaching talents. 

Consider the team's 4-1 skewering of the heavily favored Milwaukee Bucks in the second round, who had repeated as having the best regular season in the league and the back-to-back most valuable player in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Under Mike Budenholzer, the Bucks have been maniacally consistent in on-court strategies and talent decisions — like limiting the MVP's minutes — and that has led to playoff losses to more adaptable teams. That's just how some coaches are. An unnamed exec told the Action Network: "Principles are everything and they would rather lose than abandon their beliefs."

But not Spoelstra: He adjusts players' rotation and defensive formats depending on the opposition and game situation. Build the wall to stymy Giannis. Deploy a zone to frustrate the Celtics ball movement and allow thundergod, Jimmy Butler, to play free safety and close out games.

Don't stick to principles; commit to winning. Adjust along the way.

Developing and trusting your talent: Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro

Duncan Robinson is the Heat's sharpshooter par excellence and probably the best, or at least the most efficient, three-ball shooter in the league this year. 

He was an undrafted free agent. He went to Williams College and transferred to the University of Michigan, where he recently told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, the team didn't run plays for him. He never really considered making it in the league; god forbid, he wanted to go into media. But, as the lore has it, Miami's ace scouting corps saw purity in his shooting stroke, so they brought him in. 

Then, when on the team, he was hesitant to take big (or small) shots. So he spoke with his coach.

"That's when we talked about impostor syndrome," Shelburne quotes Robinson as saying. "I brought it up to him, like, 'I don't know if you ever heard of it.'

"And he goes, 'Heard of it? I lived it,'" she reports Robinson recalling.

This is beautiful, empathic coaching. Spoelstra was 40 when he coached the Heatles and never had an NBA playing career. So he related to his raw, apparently sensitive talent, and instilled in him confidence. 

Then, on the other end, Tyler Herro, the rookie born in 2000, torched the Celtics for 37 points in an emphatic, crucial Game 4 win. On draft night, he wore a blue floral suit, a black shirt, and a gold chain instead of a tie. He remarked that he had "the most drip in the room" at the draft. (As Greg Cote of the Miami Herald explained: "The most drip as in the floral purple jacket he wore to his entree into the NBA. The most drip as in the rope of gold chain around his neck, and the fat, blingy watch on his left wrist."

And now this firey, swaggering rook needs to come up big if the Heat are going to get the upset. Who else but Spoles would give Herro the rock in these crucial endgame minutes and trust the 20-year-old to lead them to the promised land? And where else but Miami, in its neon Vice jerseys, would the Wisconsin-born Herro be so much at home? 

Jimmy Butler summed up the talent strategy: "The Miami Heat look for those diamonds in the rough, players that are hungry, players that got some dog in them and play for one another," he said.

Recruiters should all seek the same.

Tyler Herro
The drip prince Tyler Herro, right.

On culture and fit: Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler, departed son of my beloved and reviled Chicago Bulls, was thought to be a locker-room cancer. The detonator of the Bulls, the beleaguered Minnesota Timberwolves, the reality show calamity that is the Philadelphia 76ers. But as a fellow BI editor who will remain nameless observed to me: Jimmy isn't the problem; he just hates when people don't work hard (Sixers star Ben Simmons has a mental block against shooting three points) and respects you if you do. 

And now he is in this tough-as-nails, relentless team. He wakes up at a spit-take-inducing 3:30 am and has inspired his teammates to do so. He didn't bring any family to the NBA bubble because it's a "business trip," and he is the Jiro Dreams of Sushi of hoopers. 

Earlier in the bubble, Butler expanded on the culture fit with NBA.com's Shaun Powell. He said that Wade recommended Miami to him because the culture and how the organization works is a fit for who he his. 

"When I got here I could do nothing but smile, because of the way everyone talks to each other, the way everything is laid out on the table, you come in and work and then we have fun," he added. "This is the reason I play the game. These guys are like me in so many ways that I absolutely love being here, to compete with and for these guys. I'm having so much fun."

And that's why, he says, he gets in the ear of other players, which didn't work at previous stops but is part of heat culture. "They got me to be me," Butler said. "I'll get on guys when they're not doing their jobs, and they'll cuss me out when I'm not doing mine. It's not personal. It may not always come out that way, but I mean well. That's how they want it here." 

In the startup or corporate circles, he embodies what is "no mercy/no malice." Being ruthless about performance and effectiveness but not taking it personally, not making the tension or conflict a comment on your or their identity but as an outflow of commitment to the larger organization. 

"Best decision I ever made," he said. "I belong here."

Jimmy Butler
All smiles from Jimmy Butler.
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15 items everyone should have in their at-home emergency kit


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  • Emergencies can happen at any time, so it's imperative to have an at-home emergency kit ready should disaster strike. 
  • With fires rapidly burning on the West Coast and the novel coronavirus continuing to sweep the nation, now is an especially good time to make sure you have a good emergency kit at the ready.
  • The American Red Cross has compiled emergency preparedness information for the general public, and experts have suggested creating a stationary and mobile emergency kit for your home.
  • We studied the Red Cross' list of supplies and found recommended items you should include in your very own at-home emergency kit.
  • You can also check out our full guides to the best ready-made emergency kits and the best first aid kits you can buy.

When an emergency strikes, it's almost always unexpected, whether it's a fire, an earthquake, hurricane, a family member falling ill, losing power for multiple days, or something else. We don't always immediately know what to do, but it's wise to have the supplies readily available should you ever find yourself in the midst of an urgent situation.

Creating a personalized at-home emergency kit isn't difficult if you know what to put it in. All you need to do is grab a large tub (like this one or this one) and fill it with basic necessities like a first aid kit, water, flashlight, and any medical supplies that are specific to your needs, or your family and pet's needs. You could even create multiple bins based on the supplies inside (e.g., food bin, medical bin, hardware bin). 

The American Red Cross suggests creating two kits: one that's meant for use at home if you're required to stay put, and an emergency kit that's on-the-go ready should you need to mobilize. 

How you choose to set up your at-home emergency kit is up to you, but we've rounded up a list of basic items you might want to include, based on the American Red Cross' emergency preparedness website.

Here are 15 items to include in your at-home emergency kit:

A hand-crank/solar-powered NOAA radio and charging device
Emergency Solar Hand Crank Portable Radio

This multi-use radio, flashlight, and SOS alarm is a must-have emergency kit item. No matter the situation, this radio will work. It can be charged four different ways: solar, hand crank, AAA batteries (3), and 2,000mAh power bank. Not only do you have access to AM/FM radio, but you have access to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) emergency broadcasts. On top of that, the RunningSnail radio has a USB port for device charging.

A battery-free flashlight
Crank Flashlight

No batteries are needed with this three-LED bulb flashlight that's powered by solar energy and hand-crank technology. One minute of cranking will get you 10 minutes of light, so you'll need to crank for six minutes for a full hour of power. Additionally, the Stalwart flashlight has a built-in carabiner clip, so you can attach it to the outside of a backpack for easy access and solar charging.

A set of weather-resistant blankets
Swiss Safe Thermal Blanket

These Mylar thermal blankets are designed to retain to up 90% of body heat and are waterproof, windproof, and moisture-proof. They can also be converted into emergency shelter tents if need be. Swiss Safe emergency blankets are also extremely lightweight, so they're perfect for your mobile emergency kit.

A first aid kit
First Aid Only FAO 442 All Purpose First Aid Kit

This first aid kit comes in a compact carrying bag with clear plastic pockets that will leave everything visible for quick and easy access. Supplies include several types of bandages, tapes, sponges, pads, sterilization wipes, gloves, and medical tools. You'll be set with all of your basic medical needs in this compact kit. You can also check out our full guide to the best first aid kits.

A portable water filter

If you run out of clean water or find yourself without it, LifeStraws uses a microfiltration membrane to remove 99.9% of waterborne bacteria, parasites, and microplastics (as small as 1 micron). With proper use and maintenance, a LifeStraw can filter through 1,000 gallons of water.

A multi-tool army knife
Army knife

This stainless steel army knife can be used to serve 33 different functions, including but not limited to, scissors, bottle opener, blade, screwdriver, and pliers. This compact tool can easily be carried in a backpack or pocket if you're on the go.

A bracelet designed to help if you're lost
The Atomic Bear Paracord Bracelet

These Atomic Bear bracelets have several key features that will come in handy if you find yourself lost in an unfamiliar area. Not only does it have a small compass on the clasp, but it also has an emergency whistle to make your presence known, a built-in flint fire starter, and a small emergency knife. If you cut the bracelet itself, it will unravel into 12 feet of military-grade paracord.

A two-way radio

Various emergencies can knock out power and telephone lines making it hard to communicate with members of your party should you need to separate for any reason. These two-way walkie talkies utilize 16 pre-programmed frequencies to communicate with one another for up to a 3-mile range. Its batteries can last on standby for up to 96 hours and can be recharged with any USB-compatible device. 

A supply of batteries
Energizer Max

Energizer batteries are one of the longest-lasting alkaline batteries on the market. They have a shelf-life of 10 years and are leak-resistant for up to two years after being fully used. You can add these to your at-home survival kit and be confident that they'll be ready should an emergency strike.

A roll of heavy-duty duct tape
Gorilla tape

This double-thick adhesive tape is heavy-duty enough to stick to rough and uneven surfaces, yet workable enough that it can be ripped by hand. Gorilla Tape is also weather-resistant and can withstand moisture, UV rays, and extreme temperatures.

A pack of waterproof matches
Coghlans Waterproof Matches

It's always a good idea to carry waterproof matches with you in case you need to start a fire in a damp area. Each box contains 40 matches and they're sold in a 10-pack for a total of 400 matches. Though they're great for use in the rain or in humid conditions, some users have had trouble getting them to light if they've been submerged in water. Consider storing them in a waterproof container for extra peace of mind.

A package of N95 respirator masks
3M respirator

3M Particulate N95 Respirator with Valve

This respirator is designed to protect you from breathing in non-oil-based particles like fiberglass and sanding debris. A valve attached to the front of the mask makes for easy breathing, as well as heat and moisture reduction. A simple mask like this could help protect your respiratory system if you're in a situation where you're surrounded by significant debris.

Note: Respirators and face masks have become hard to find online due to the novel coronavirus. We will update this article with purchase links when they are back in stock.

An emergency food kit
Mountain House 4 Day Food Supply

It's always a good idea to keep non-perishables like canned food that doesn't require cooking in your kit. The American Red Cross suggests storing a three-day supply for each member in your group.

This ready-to-go food option has a shelf-life of 30 years and is designed for emergency situations. The Mountain House 4-Day Emergency Food Supply Kit contains 28 servings (12 meals) of dried food that you just add water to. You can consume lasagna with beef sauce, noodles and chicken, breakfast skillets, and more directly out of the package in fewer than 10 minutes.

A manual can opener
made in usa

To accompany your non-perishable foods, the Made in USA can opener can lock onto cans of all sizes with its skip-proof feed wheel made from carbon steel. It's simple and doesn't require electricity, so it's ideal for emergency situations.

If you're looking for something even more compact for on-the-go can opening, check out the P-38 Can Opener and P-51 Can Opener. They're a bit more difficult to use, but they fit on a keyring and can be used as a cutting blade or even a screwdriver in a pinch.

You can also check out our full guide to the best can openers. All of the above products made an appearance.

A supply of clean drinking water
Niagara Purified Drinking Water

Although we previously recommended adding LifeStraws to your at-home survival kit, you should always be prepared with clean drinking water. Stock up on gallons of water or pre-packaged bottles like this in your at-home kit. The American Red Cross suggests storing a three-day supply for each member in your group. Don't forget to recycle the bottles afterward, if you can.

Check out our other emergency preparedness guides
First aid kit

The best first aid kits

While you never want to need a first aid kit, should that need arise, you'll be glad you planned ahead and kept some high-quality medical supplies on hand. Choose the first aid kit that best suits the people and the situations they'll be in, and then hope you never have to use it. With those tips in mind, check out our recommendations to see which of our top picks is best for your needs.

The best emergency kits

In the best case scenario, you won't ever need an emergency kit, but if a worst-case scenario arises, you'll be glad you planned ahead and got one. A good emergency kit should contain rations with a multi-year shelf life, first aid materials, light sources, fire-starting tools, and other such essentials. These are the best emergency kits.

The best roadside emergency car kits

Roadside emergency car kits can ensure you have some useful items on hand, in case your vehicle breaks down or is involved in an accident. Our top picks are well-stocked, full of practical supplies, and all available at reasonable price points. These are the best roadside emergency kits.

The best disinfecting products

The world can be a germy place and as we interact with others, we share bacteria. Some bacteria are actually good for our body systems but other, viral strains like measles, flu, and colds can be dangerous. And, fungal infections like athlete's foot, while not life-threatening, are pretty uncomfortable. To help combat against them, these are the best products available that do a great job of killing bacteria.

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There's no reason to spend hundreds of dollars on cast iron cookware


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Cast iron cookware 4X2
This nifty little two-piece kit is about all you'll ever need.
Table of Contents

Cast iron is nothing short of a blessing, and many of us at Insider Reviews are cast iron cookware devotees. Sure, it's heavy and clunky, and it takes a longer time to heat up, but it's almost completely foolproof (yes, even if you wash it with soap and water, but more on that later). Put simply, it gets the job done without the fuss of nonstick coatings or overly sensitive aluminum or steel.

What is cast iron?

Cast iron cookware is made by pouring molten iron ore into a sand mold. The sand mold is then broken apart, revealing the pan in one piece, handle included. The material is nearly indestructible. You can drop it (from up to a certain height), you can burn the daylights out of it (also to a point — it will eventually crack), and, believe it or not, you can soak it in sudsy water if it gets a little too dingy for your liking. And after soaking it for days on end — while you may have your work cut out for you — you will be able to resuscitate it. Yes, I can hear the purists screaming now: "You cannot put water in cast iron!"

Sorry to break it to you all, including my former roommate whose screams still haunt me from the one time I cleaned her cast iron with water. Amy, if you happen to read this, I apologize (again).

A brief history of cast iron

Let's get to the facts. Cast iron is, after all, iron — the obstinate, fortitudinous, persevering metal of Mars. It is rugged, heavy, and every bit as American as apple pie — although that's a fairly recent development (cast iron dates back to at least sixth century BCE China, but it's only been popular in the western hemisphere for about 200 years). It's what got hard-traveling settlers across the great divide in the 19th century, and it'd be hard to overlook its durability as a reason why.

My own appreciation dates back to my less-employed, more freewheeling days when "home" was a series of spartan country cabins, camper vans, and wherever I laid my head. The MO of my "kitchens" was extreme minimalism: fewer pots, fewer pans, and fewer dishes to wash. It tends to be simple logic that keeps the bachelor afloat, after all.

I used to browse antique shops for cookware — namely, the illustrious Wagner and Griswold pans of yore. They're ultra-thin and they're finished more like high-gloss ceramics. But those bygone brands (Wagner shuttered in 1952 and Griswold closed up shop in 1957, right around the time Teflon was popularized), along with most any antique cast-iron cookware, have grown increasingly popular in recent years and are now prohibitively expensive.

After the public became aware that nonstick coatings like Teflon could be toxic, a new fleet of higher-end cast iron brands emerged. We've tried many of them (Stargazer, Field, and Smithey), and have to admit that they do offer slightly more even heating than their less expensive competitors. They're also beautifully designed, with details like hand-hammered handles and elaborate surface treatments. But, that being said, cast iron from brands like Lodge, Camp Chef, and Victoria (our overall favorite in our guide to cast iron skillets and pans) will more than suffice.

While I've owned a lot of cast iron cookware, I always return to this two-piece set from Lodge, the trusty preseasoned stuff you can find in department stores. Cuisinel offers a similar set and both are as cheap as cast iron cookware gets, and there's no arguing that they get the job done. 

The trick with cast iron, be it then or now, or fancy or not so fancy, has been and always will be proper seasoning. If your cast iron skillet or pan is seasoned correctly, and you place it over a suitably-sized burner, you won't have any problems (unless you're dealing with a truly horrible pan riddled with air pockets and destined to crack from the start).

Pros and cons of cast iron

If you've ever gone to grab a piece of cast iron cookware several minutes after you've turned the burner off or pulled it from the fire only to encounter blistering pain, you'll know that the material — unlike aluminum, steel, or copper — has exceptional heat retention.

This is good and bad, depending on how sharp of a cook you are and what you're making; cast iron keeps a steady heat while cooking and it keeps your dish warm well after you turn the burners off, but it takes much longer to heat up. Plus, if you get it too hot, the chance of you burning your butter, oil, or whatever you're cooking with is high. 

Cooling down a cast iron pan once it's too hot, especially if you've already started cooking, can be disastrous. At best, you're going to have to get all that burnt oil or butter out of there, and at worst, you're going to disrupt your cooking process, which isn't so bad for potatoes or veggies, but is usually a no-no when it comes to meats (especially if your intention is to get a good sear on a medium-rare steak). Essentially, life does not stop and start at your convenience with stovetop cooking, and cast iron does not make it any easier.

Cast iron also rusts, but rust is not the death of the stuff, contrary to popular belief. Buff it away with a Brillo pad or a  chainmail pot scrubber, like this one from Knappmade, but we recommend staying away from steel wool. The next thing you've got to do is pour in some cooking oil and a little salt. Rub it into the cookware with a paper towel and either put it on some heat (250-300 degrees Fahrenheit, or so) on the stove or in the oven. Presto.

Weight and handle design

Cast iron, just like iron, is heavy as heck. It's not something you're going to trek the Pacific Palisades or Appalachian Trail with, and many skillets often come sorely under-equipped, with diminutive handles that are destined to lead to carpal tunnel in anyone who commits to cooking with them regularly.

If you tend to use a skillet's handle a lot (I usually just leave it on the stove, but to each their own), then look to Victoria. I'm a Lodge devotee, but their pans and skillets have almost pathetically small handles. The trade-off is that they take up much less space in the cabinet.

Cast iron cookware Gif 2

The bottom line

There are certain reasons my Wagner and Griswold pans and skillets will always be my favorites, but they're mostly sentimental. I have some Griswold pans from my great-grandmother, made sometime between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and they're definitively smoother than most any cast iron you'll find today. But do you need it to fry chicken, or sear a steak or make pancakes? Does it even really help? That might be up for debate, but I'll throw my hat in here and say no, not really. 

Wagner and Griswold pans are thinner and lighter, and the attention to craftsmanship cannot go underappreciated: they were hand-poured into thin sand molds and then hand-polished to almost impossible smoothness. Today, cast iron cookware is still cast in sand but not always hand-finished, which is the labor-intensive step — and the detail sets Wagner and Griswold apart. 

You might do a better job with things like pancakes and eggs, but it's not worth paying five, six, or even 10 times what you'd pay for Lodge, Camp ChefVictoria, Cuisinel. They have the same basic elements as Wagner and Griswold, and in many — if not all — case, produce delicious results that look and taste just the same. 

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