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20 places we shop for women's workwear — and the best styles to buy

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Where to Shop for Women's Workwear 4x3
  • At Insider Reviews, we test out hundreds of products each year. That volume makes us particularly discerning shoppers in our own lives, especially when it comes to what goes in our closets.
  • I asked seven women on the Insider Reviews team to share where they personally shop for workwear, and what they recommend buying from each store. 
  • Below, you'll find our 20 go-to brands, like M.M.LaFleur, Everlane, and Dagne Dover, plus our favorite styles to buy.

The day that I realized I would spend most of my adult life in workwear is the same day I found myself sweating, rolling bags of ill-fitting blouses, scratchy wool skirts, and too-tight blazers into a donation bin. If you aren't strategic in picking out workwear you actually like, then an alarming percentage of your closet will one day be drab, unflattering, and uncomfortable. 

Thankfully, there is no shortage of great places to find the kind of workwear that you'll actually want to wear — the kind that feels and looks good, but also makes you more comfortable at your desk and more confident in your day-to-day life. 

I asked the women on the Insider Reviews team to divulge the stores they personally shop at, and what they buy. We see and test hundreds of products every year, which makes us extremely critical shoppers — especially where our own small closets are concerned. Below, we share some of our favorite places to buy women's workwear and a few tips and tricks about what to buy from each brand.

Read on for 20 places we go-to for women's workwear, and what we buy from each:

Everlane
Womens Workwear clothes Everlane

Shop Everlane

Everlane is an internet darling, partly thanks to transparent pricing in an industry that has traditionally relied upon markups. We shop here primarily for basics that are above-average in quality and below-average in price. We like Everlane's shoes, leather bags, cotton shirts, and $50 work pants.

1. The Work Pant, $50:

Insider Reviews senior reporter Connie Chen calls the $50 work pant the one thing you can't pass up at Everlane, adding, "Fifty dollar work pants is all I need to say. They're comfortable, flattering, and go for double the price elsewhere. You might even want to buy more than one pair since they come in versatile neutrals and cute greens and blues."

2. The Day Shoe Collection, from $68:

In terms of footwear, we typically recommend the Day shoe family, though you'll want to size up a half size for your order. We're unanimously fans of the company's $118 Day Glove (I wear it at least three times per week in the summer) and we also love the Day Heel ($145), Day Loafer ($94), and Day Boot ($236). And, if you're open to knits, the comfort of the Day Glove ReKnit flats ($68) is hard to beat. You can find a review of the flats here.

3. Authentic Stretch Denim, $68:

If it's a business casual office, Everlane's $68 Authentic Stretch Denim is one of our all-time favorite pairs of jeans because they are comfortable and liberating like stretch denim, but feel slightly rough to the touch like true denim. We've happily worn them both to the office and on plane rides. 

4. The Day Market Tote, $180:

We also ranked the Everlane Day Market Tote the best tote bag you can buy, as well as the best work bag you can get for under $200.  

5. The Pima Micro Rib Crew Tee, $30

Everlane's basics rarely disappoint. This extra-fine ribbed pima cotton crew has the perfect thickness and stretch to make it look a little extra flattering and feel nicer than average. I have it in almost every color. 

Read more:

Dagne Dover
Womens Workwear clothes Dagne Dover

Shop Dagne Dover

Dagne Dover makes stylish bags with the best internal design hacks for an organized professional life.

1. The Classic Signature Tote, $245

The Classic Signature Tote ($245) is our top pick for the best work bag you can buy — and it has earned its spot. Insider Reviews freelancer Erin Mayer compared its specialized pockets to the clown car effect. Inside, there's a neoprene water bottle sleeve, phone pocket, pen holder, padded laptop sleeve, notebook or tablet sleeve, and an interior side pocket — as well as a detachable key holder.

2. Allyn Tote, from $305

Insider Reviews' own executive editor Ellen Hoffman also loves the brand's leather Allyn Tote ($305-$345) for a work bag, though it costs more.

3. Ryan Laptop Bag and Weston Laptop Bag, from $135

Insider Reviews reporters Connie Chen, Remi Rosmarin, and I all rely upon the brand's Ryan Laptop Bag or Weston Laptop Bag. As Remi put it, "this bag feels like it was designed with every one of my commuter frustrations in mind." They're stylish, hyper-organized, and sleek enough to stay out of the way in a crowded subway car. Both run for $135-$155 depending on the size you select. 

Read more:

M.M.LaFleur
Womens Workwear clothes M.M.LaFleur

Shop M.M. LaFleur

M.M.LaFleur is the name to know for high-end, stylish, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. workwear. Most clothes are machine-washable and wrinkle-resistant, and the brand's design hacks are helpful rather than gimmicky — like internal clips to keep bra straps in place and adjustable pant hems for different shoes. Miyako Nakamura, former head designer for Zac Posen, is a master at flattering, easy silhouettes.

Thre are also plenty of options for business travelers that feature machine-washable, wrinkle-resistant, packable suiting staples like the Yan Jacket ($325) and the Doris Dress ($125), the latter which has been treated with an anti-odor finish so you can wear it multiple times before needing to throw it in the wash. 

1. Morandi Sweater, $265

Both Ellen Hoffman and I use the brand's cozy, flattering Morandi Sweater ($265) as our go-to "desk sweater" — even though the price is much more than either of us would typically spend on a sweater. It's flattering, versatile, and goes with everything. According to Ellen who did the math, "If I wear the sweater three times a week for 49 weeks out of the year, it comes out to $1.80 per wear after one year. After two years, its cost per wear drops to $0.90." In the end, it's worth it.

 

2. The Foster Pant, $195

M.M.LaFleur also makes ingenious pants that adjust for different shoe heights: The Foster Pant ($195).

Read more:

Nordstrom
Womens Workwear clothes Nordstrom

Shop Nordstrom

Nordstrom is, unsurprisingly, always a solid one-stop-shop, and it's one we use frequently. It carries a large variety of top brands, including some of our favorite startups, and has a few major sales events, a good rewards program, and a great customer service department. The site will also put together styling suggestions which is helpful for figuring out what goes with what.

1. Cool, online-only startups

Popular online startups like Summersalt, Universal Standard, Dagne Dover (picture 1) and Lively (picture 2) have been available to shop on Nordstrom, with Nordstrom's considerable perks — like free shipping and easy returns. 

2. Trunk Club, $25 styling fee

Nordstrom also technically owns Trunk Club, a personal styling service that can update your wardrobe with the help of a stylist and the wide offerings available on Nordstrom, with little effort on your part. There's a $25 styling fee, but it's waived if you choose to buy anything they send you.

Read more:

Tommy John
Womens Workwear clothes Tommy John

Shop Tommy John

Tommy John has made best-in-category men's underwear for over a decade. Unsurprisingly, it's been fielding requests for women's underwear since its launch. But, it wasn't until a Facebook post of a woman wearing Tommy John boxer briefs caught co-founder Erin Fujimoto's attention that the company issued its own women's line — and we're extremely glad they did

1. Air Thong, $26

There are plenty of good underwear options for women these days that are pretty and extremely comfortable (Everlane and MeUndies come to mind). But, Tommy John makes the best. Its Air styles are the best I own (feather-light, never roll, bunch, or pill), and if they didn't cost $26 each, they're the only ones I'd buy.

2. Air "Stay Tucked" Camisole, $24

The Air "Stay Tucked" Camisole ($24) is another of its best offerings.

Read more

Spanx
Womens Workwear clothes Spanx

Shop Spanx Tights

Spanx is best-known for their shapewear, and — to nobody's surprise — the same things that make their shapewear great (intuitive design, savvy understanding of women's bodies, and high-end materials) also make the best tights we've tested. 

1. Luxe Leg Mid-Thigh Shaping Tights, $28

Ellen Hoffman, director of content strategy, calls Spanx her all-time favorite tights: "The Luxe Leg Mid-Thigh Shaping Tights ($28) are a true workhorse in my fall and winter wardrobe since that never rip, never pill, and hold me in in all the right places, without suffocating me in the process. I wear and wash them many, many times throughout the season and am consistently impressed by how well they hold up compared to tights from other brands." You can also find them at Nordstrom.

We also ranked the Luxe Leg Mid-Thigh Shaping Tights ($28) the best tights you can buy overall. 

2. The Perfect Black Pant, Ankle Backseam Skinny, $128

We tested Spanx's collection of "The Perfect Black Pant" which includes four style iterations of the workwear staple — from flare to skinny. We were most impressed with the machine-washable, smoothing fabric that's flattering but not restrictive and their versatility. Sizing options also include petite, regular, or tall inseams. 

Read more

J.Crew
Womens Workwear clothes J crew

Shop J.Crew

J. Crew seems to be hosting a sale every other day — and that's great news for anyone looking to pick up good-quality office basics at a discount. If you're looking for a fresh, leopard pencil skirt or a fitted blazer in Italian wool, you may want to check here first. 

1. Classic-Fit Boy Shirt, $69.50

We love the brand's preppy-retro blazers, classic-fit button-ups, and fun-but-still-professional prints and patterns.

2. Regent Blazer, $155

I'm always surprised by how few people take advantage of J.Crew's uniquely well-made desk-to-drinks basics. They're professional without approaching dowdy. The best example of this is the company's longstanding Regent Blazer ($155) — sleek, stylish, and great dressed down for coffee on a Saturday afternoon or up for a big meeting. Plus, the store seems to be in an eternal 40%-off sale.

 

MZ Wallace
Womens Workwear clothes MZ Wallace

Shop MZ Wallace

MZ Wallace was created by two native New Yorkers looking to make stylish, thoughtfully designed essentials for the modern woman. You'll know them by their signature quilted-nylon bags. 

1. Large Sutton bag, $245

Former Insider Reviews reporter Remi Rosmarin swears by MZ Wallace. "My MZ Wallace tote is my favorite weekday bag. It comes with me from work to the gym to dinners and everything in between. The brand really knows what it's doing when it comes to blending fashion with function, making cute pieces with versatile features like organizational pockets, key ring straps, and detachable pouches."

Read more

Club Monaco
Womens Workwear clothes Club Monaco

Shop Club Monaco

Multiple reporters recommended Club Monaco as a reliable spot for chic, on-trend pieces appropriate for work and life in general. Its clothes can be classified as sophisticated — but not dowdy or overly formal. Dress them up for work, or down for the weekend.

1. Trycia Skirt, $83

Club Monaco is especially good for clothes that are cute enough to like wearing every day. This silky '90s-inspired slip skirt is perfect for an easy, flattering staple that can go from desk to drinks.

Pro tip: they have some good ongoing sales, so it's worth checking out the sale section first.

Rent the Runway Unlimited Membership
Womens Workwear clothes Rent the runway

Shop Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway lets you rent designer clothes so you can have a more versatile, sustainable, and high-end closet. And although the company has discontinued its much-loved unlimited membership, you can still get plenty of designer pieces delivered straight to your door either once, twice, or three times a month. 

Rent the Runway Unlimited, $199 for 16 items per month

A Rent the Runway (RTR) membership may be the only subscription — aside from mainstays like Hulu or Amazon Prime — that multiple Insider Reviews reporters have. But depending on which membership level you choose, it might also the most expensive by far. You can see the $4,862 of clothes we rented in a week here.

You have three membership options: You can get four items per month for $89/month, eight items for $135/month, or 16 items for $199/month. Each delivery comes with four items, so you will get clothes either once, twice, or four times each month. 

We're willing to pay the high fee because RTR delivers on variety, style, and convenience. They take care of shipping and dry cleaning, and, if you choose the two higher-priced memberships, you get access to a vast selection of high-end clothes you wouldn't be able to afford (or willing to buy) to wear in everyday life. 

That means you won't spend 75% of your clothing budget on professional wear or vice versa, only to stress over outfit repeating. It also means you can try trends you wouldn't otherwise be willing to drop cash on. And, as executive editor Ellen Hoffman put it, "I'm actually spending far less on clothes these days" even with the monthly fee. 

It's one of the many things we've bought based on a colleague's glowing review

1. AllSaints Taupe Grey Kita Backpack, originally $398

2. Polo Ralph Lauren Grey Work Blazer, originally $348

3. Slate & Willow Ann Tweed Skirt, originally $169

4.Diane von Furstenberg New Jeanne Two Silk Wrap Dress, originally $498

Read more

ThirdLove
Womens Workwear clothes ThirdLove

Shop ThirdLove Bras

Point blank, Thirdlove makes the most comfortable everyday bras you can buy. The women-led company offers half-cup sizes, has a great return policy, and recently extended its offerings to 70 sizes. We ranked them the best bra you can buy in the Insider Reviews Buying Guide. 

1. 24/7 Classic T-Shirt Bra, $55

Personally, the super-soft 24/7 Classic T-Shirt Bra ($55) is the first time (other than my experience with the more casual True & Co Racerback ($58) that I've felt excited to put on a bra. It's smooth under T-shirts, comes in six skin-tone adjacent colors, and is so comfortable I feel real gratitude for it during transatlantic airplane rides.

Read more

DSTLD
Womens Workwear clothes DSTLD

Shop DSTLD

LA startup DSTLD started by making premium denim under $100. It has since expanded to a huge variety of sleek basics — including leather jackets. 

1. High Rise Skinny Jeans, $85

Insider Reviews senior editor Jada Wong recommends DSTLD for high-quality jeans that won't cost you $200 per pair: "DSTLD has really nice classic styles that can pass for work pants, and don't let the low price point fool you in thinking that it's not high-quality. They're just as good, if not better, than ones that have cost me $200." A pair of high-waisted skinny jeans will probably cost you $85-$95 instead.

2. Wool Blanket Maxi Coat, $180

I also rely on the brand's $180 Wool Blanket Maxi Coat as a budget-friendly on-trend coat in the colder months.

3. Leather Moto Jacket, $350

If your office dress code allows for leather jackets, this is the best affordable, high-end option I've found.

Read more

Modern Citizen
Womens Workwear clothes Modern Citizen

Shop Modern Citizen

Modern Citizen's neutral pieces make it easy to build a chic, minimalist wardrobe without spending a fortune. The site also lets you search by occasion to quickly find what you're looking for. Go to the "Work" tab to find a curated selection of pieces that'll look great in or out of the office.

1. Selma Tapered-Leg Trousers, $100

A high-rise waist and straight, tapered leg make for a flattering fit that looks great with literally any top.

2. Sterling Short Sleeve Blouse, $84

This airy blouse with pleated detailing and a V-neck is a great basic you'll wear all the time. Tuck into trousers for a more formal look or wear over jeans for a simple, romantic style.

Read more:

Cuyana
Womens Workwear clothes Cuyana

Shop Cuyana

Cuyana makes stylish, high-end leather bags and basics for reasonable prices. 

1. Classic Leather Tote, $175 

Insider Reviews senior editor Jada Wong prefers Cuyana or Madewell for leather work bags since they can take the daily beatings of your life while lugging around a laptop, book, makeup bag, and workout clothes.

2. Work Satchel, $398

The Work Satchel ($398) has a laptop sleeve to fit both a 13-inch and 15-inch computer, a zipper pocket, and an adjustable crossbody strap. It'll also age well, making a $400+ price tag a little easier to justify.

3. Tote Organization Insert, $95

You can also buy the portable Tote Organization Insert ($95) that has the organizational pockets that cavernous, minimalist totes do not.

Read more:

Eileen Fisher
Womens Workwear clothes Eileen Fisher

Shop Eileen Fisher

Eileen Fisher is all about easy dressing. Simple, clean shapes and great fabrics are the ethos of the brand. The clothes are a bit pricy, but thanks to the timeless styles and truly top-notch materials, you can expect them for decades. 

1. Tencel Jersey Mandarin Collar Dress, $119

A simple collared dress that can be worn on its own in the summer or layered over pants as a tunic for cooler months.

2. System Washable Stretch Crepe Slim Ankle Pant, $168

A great pair of pants that fit like a glove and can be thrown in the wash for easy cleaning. Pair these with any item from The System collection for an effortlessly chic, office-appropriate look.

3. System Lightweight Viscose Jersey Crew Neck Shell, $68

An upgrade from your everyday t-shirt, this simple shell is a great basic for your work wardrobe. The jersey is comfortable and substantial making it a great piece for layering or wearing on its own.

 

Banana Republic
Womens Workwear clothes banana republic

Shop Banana Republic

Insider Reviews senior editor Jada Wong says that Banana Republic is one of the best foolproof workwear stores. 

1. Sloan Skinny Fit Pant, $33-$99

Jada swears by the brand's basic black pants: "I stock up on basic black pants at LOFT or Banana Republic whenever I can. They're just so versatile and chic! They're also a no-brainer on dreary-eyed mornings."

 

Madewell
Womens Workwear clothes Madewell

Shop Madewell

Madewell is responsible for some of the best jeans on the internet, and the rest of its styles include everything you'd wear with a great pair of jeans — like boots, tees, and keep-forever bags. 

1. High-Rise Skinny Jeans (nine-inch), $59.99

These Madewell jeans are like a slightly thinner and more moldable version of Everlane's Authentic Stretch denim, though no less flattering. They look great on, and they're never uncomfortable to wear. Madewell is also one of few quality denim options that offer a high enough high-rise for tall people (nine-inch or 10-inch).

2. Regan Boot, $178

Insider Reviews senior editor Jada Wong says she's bought a pair of Madewell booties every fall for the past five years, "not because I needed to, but because I want to."

The classics are about $178-$298 and season-less. Plus most feature chunky two-inch heels, so they're walkable enough that you don't need to bring in a separate pair of shoes to commute to work in.

 

Commando
Womens Workwear clothes Commando

Shop Commando Tights

Commando's main selling point is that its line of tights has a patented, raw-cut waistband that won't dig into your skin.

1. Ultimate Opaque Control Top Tights ($38)

Commando's raw-cut waistbands mean the Ultimate Opaque Control Top Tights ($38) are one of very few that don't give me a bizarre stomach ache while wearing. They're more expensive than a $10 pair from Uniqlo (which freelance editor Jada Wong recommends) but they're worth the extra cost to me. I can wear them comfortably all day, and they've far outlived cheaper pairs I own.

Read more

Old Navy
Womens Workwear clothes old Navy

Shop Old Navy

Old Navy is the go-to for cheap basics that don't require a heavy compromise on material or style. In fact, content producer Francesca Rea says about 90% of her closet come from Old Navy.

1. High-Rise Rockstar Skinny Jeans, $30

Francesca says the Old Navy gateway product was the hidden gem $15-$30 jeans which come in virtually every style and cut. She also recommends the brand's affordable sweaters, basic tees, and blouses.

 

Uniqlo
Womens Workwear clothes Uniqlo

Shop Uniqlo

Uniqlo has a few solid collections to shop — including its Wear to Work collection and its collaborations. Multiple Insider Reviews reporters placed Uniqlo as one of their first stops for restocking basics like tights and tops, as well as stocking up on its effective HeatTech for winter.

The HeatTech Collection

In the winter, you'd be hard-pressed to find better innerwear than the HeatTech collection — clothes that generate heat from your body.  As Insider Reviews senior editor Jada Wong says, "In the winter, I have a foundation layer of all-Uniqlo-everything underneath my outfit. Can they make a HeatTech onesie already?"

1. HeatTech Ultra Warm High-Neck T-Shirt, $14.90

2. HeatTech Ultra Warm Legging, $19.90

Read more:

Read the original article on Business Insider

If you voted early and changed your mind, you can switch your choice in several states — here's how

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Maryland voting .JPG
Maryland election judge Cassandra Campbell helps a voter wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cast his ballot in the Maryland U.S. presidential primary election as other voters stand in a long line waiting to cast their votes in College Park, Maryland, U.S., June 2, 2020
  • More than 66.4 million Americans have already voted in person or by mail as of Tuesday -- hitting 50% of total turnout in 2016. 
  • But some voters who have a change of heart can alter their early vote after casting it. 
  • A handful of states allow voters to switch their votes before Election Day, but they have different restrictions and deadlines.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

This year's contentious presidential election has drawn early voters out in record numbers.

More than 66.4 million Americans have already voted in person or by mail as of Tuesday — hitting 50% of total turnout in 2016, according to the US Elections Project. Ballots cast early this year surpassed total early votes in 2016 a full eight days before Election Day. 

But some voters who have a change of heart can alter their early vote after casting it. 

Google searches for "can I change my vote" jumped on Tuesday. President Donald Trump falsely claimed that the trend "refers changing it to me" and spiked "immediately" after the second presidential debate last Thursday. Google has not said whether the searches referred to a specific candidate. 

A handful of states allow voters to switch their votes before Election Day, but they have different restrictions and deadlines.

Changing your vote

Changing your vote can be quite the headache for election officials, since they have to track down your ballot and re-file the paperwork.

In Michigan, absentee voters can request that local election officials invalidate or "spoil" their first ballot and submit a new one until 5 pm on the Friday before Election Day or in-person until Monday at 10 am the day before Election Day. 

Wisconsin absentee voters can "spoil" their ballot and request a new one or vote in-person before certain deadlines, according to a 2020 memo memo put out by the Wisconsin Elections Commission. 

In New York, voters can cast a new ballot in-person either early or on Election Day and ask that their initial ballot be invalidated. 

Casting new ballots in permitted in some Connecticut towns, but it varies across the state. 

In New Hampshire, voters can request a new ballot if election officials determine there's enough time to do so, and they can vote in-person on Election Day if the initial ballot was not yet counted. 

In several other states, including Pennsylvania, Illinois, Delaware, New Mexico, Idaho, Indiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi, voters are allowed to "spoil" a ballot and request another, but only if the initial ballot hasn't yet been returned or, in some cases, processed. 

The deadline to invalidate a ballot and request another has already passed in Minnesota.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump's biggest accomplishments and failures as president as he fights for reelection

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FILE - In this Dec. 24, 2019 photo, President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media following a Christmas Eve video teleconference with members of the military at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. As a candidate for the White House, Donald Trump repeatedly promised that he would “immediately” replace President Barack Obama’s health care law with a plan of his own that would provide “insurance for everybody.” Back then, Trump made it sound that his plan — “much less expensive and much better” than the Affordable Care Act — was imminent. And he put drug companies on notice that their pricing power no longer would be “politically protected.” Nearly three years after taking office, Americans still are waiting for Trump’s big reveal. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media following a Christmas Eve video teleconference with members of the military at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.
  • President Donald Trump has been among the most controversial presidents in US history, and just the third commander-in-chief to be impeached. 
  • Trump's disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic hangs heavily over the upcoming presidential election.
  • Though his accomplishments are not popular with his critics, Trump for better or worse has been a consequential president.
  • His handling of COVID-19 will go down as one of the worst disasters in US history, with nearly 200,000 already dead and millions unemployed.
  • Trump repeatedly flouting public health guidance and his own CDC, holding packed events during the pandemic and mocking those who wear masks. Trump announced he had contracted the virus in early October.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

President Donald Trump entered an election year as just the third commander-in-chief in US history to be impeached.

Trump was ultimately acquitted in an impeachment trial that would soon become a distant memory amid a pandemic that's killed over 220,000 Americans and left millions unemployed. 

Though he's been perhaps the most controversial and divisive president in modern US history, Trump has had a remarkably steady approval rating due to his staunchly loyal supporters. 

Even as polling has repeatedly shown that most Americans disapprove of Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, his overall approval rating has barely fluctuated.

With that said, Trump is trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls, and must defend Republican strongholds like Arizona and Texas that are increasingly toss-up states. 

Here are Trump's biggest accomplishments and failures as president, measured by their overall impact and taking into account the general response from Congress, the public, and wider world.

Accomplishment: Reshaping the federal judiciary
supreme court
Police officers stand in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC, U.S., January 19, 2018.

Trump's most lasting impact on the country will be the reshaping of the federal judiciary.

Thus far, Trump has installed three Supreme Court justices and 220 judges overall to the federal bench — all for lifetime appointments. Amy Coney Barrett became Trump's third Supreme Court justice on October 26, 2020, barely a week before Election Day.

By December, Trump nominees made up roughly 25% of all US circuit court judges, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

He's appointed 53 judges on the 13 US circuit courts. To put this into perspective, former President Barack Obama appointed 55 circuit judges in his two terms in the White House.

The courts get the final say in US politics, setting precedents that can shape the country for years to come. 

Even if Trump is not reelected in 2020, his presidency will continue to have an impact on the direction of the US due to the sheer number of conservative federal judges he's installed. 

Accomplishment: Space Force
Trump signing NDAA Space force
President Donald Trump signs the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Friday, Dec. 20, 2019.

In signing a $738 billion defense spending bill just a few days before Christmas, Trump officially established the sixth branch of the US Armed Forces — the Space Force

The Space Force is the first new military service since the US Air Force was created in 1947.

Despite its name, the new branch has not been established to protect the planet from potential extraterrestrial threats, but is tasked with protecting the US military's assets in space. 

"This is not a farce. This is nationally critical," Gen. John Raymond, who Trump tapped to lead the Space Force, told reporters earlier this month. "We are elevating space commensurate with its importance to our national security and the security of our allies and partners."

Many of the details surrounding the Space Force must still be ironed out. In many ways, the new branch is simply a more centralized version of military missions in space that already existed from the Air Force, Army and Navy.

Todd Harrison, who directs the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, recently told NPR: "It will create a centralized, unified chain of command that is responsible for space, because ultimately when responsibility is fragmented, no one's responsible."

Accomplishment: Tax reform
Trump Tax Cuts
U.S. President Donald Trump celebrates with Congressional Republicans after the U.S. Congress passed sweeping tax overhaul legislation, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.

Three years into his presidency, Trump's signature legislative achievement remains a Republican tax bill that made sweeping changes to the tax code — the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

As Business Insider's Joseph Zeballos-Roig recently reported:

  • The law was the biggest overhaul to the nation's tax code in three decades, and the president pitched it as "rocket fuel" for the American economy.
  • It permanently slashed the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35% while also providing temporary benefits for individuals and their families.
  • Critics argued it was a windfall for massive corporations at the expense of the middle class. Meanwhile, supporters of the tax cuts contended it would unleash an economic bonanza. Businesses would invest in their operations, they said, resulting in improved worker productivity and higher wages.
  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, among others, said the law would juice the nation's gross domestic product to 3% (or more, as Trump said 6%) and soon pay for itself and spread prosperity.
  • But the law has achieved none of the ambitious goals that Republicans put forward — and there are scant signs they ever will.

 

Accomplishment: First Step Act
Trump First Step Act
President Donald Trump speaks about H. R. 5682, the "First Step Act" in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, which would reform America's prison system.

Trump signed the First Step Act into law in December 2018, marking the first legislative victory in years for advocates seeking to reform the criminal justice system.

The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. It offers relatively modest changes to the federal prison system, but was praised as an important step forward by groups and activists seeking to end mass incarceration. 

Business Insider's Michelle Mark summarized the key aspects of the legislation after it passed in the Senate last year:

  • The passage of the bill...marked the first major legislative win in decades to address mass incarceration at the federal level.
  • The bill overhauls certain federal sentencing laws, reducing mandatory minimum sentences for drug felonies and expanding early-release programs.
  • The bill also makes retroactive a 2010 federal sentencing law reducing the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses.
  • The bill also aims to lower recidivism by offering more rehabilitation and job-training opportunities, and it includes provisions intended to treat prisoners humanely — banning the shackling of pregnant inmates, halting the use of solitary confinement for most juvenile inmates, and mandating that prisoners be placed in facilities within 500 miles from their families.
Accomplishment: Defeating ISIS's caliphate and killing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
FILE - This file image made from video posted on a militant website April 29, 2019, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being interviewed by his group's Al-Furqan media outlet. In his last months on the run, al-Baghdadi was agitated, fearful of traitors, sometimes disguised as a shepherd, sometimes hiding underground, always dependent on a shrinking circle of confidants. (Al-Furqan media via AP, File)
FILE - This file image made from video posted on a militant website April 29, 2019, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being interviewed by his group's Al-Furqan media outlet. In his last months on the run, al-Baghdadi was agitated, fearful of traitors, sometimes disguised as a shepherd, sometimes hiding underground, always dependent on a shrinking circle of confidants. (Al-Furqan media via AP, File)

ISIS shocked the world in 2014 when it took over a large swath of territory across Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate.

The terrorist group's territorial holdings were the basis for its so-called caliphate, and provided it will a major base of operations to conduct attacks across the world. 

After a five-year effort led by the US, ISIS's caliphate was finally defeated in March 2019.

Trump has at times falsely claimed that ISIS is totally defeated, embellishing the extent of the US military's success against the terrorist organization during his presidency. Though the terrorist group has lost its territory — its so-called caliphate — it's still estimated to have up to 18,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria.

In late October, a US raid led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. 

Baghdadi was the world's most wanted terrorist up to that point and his death represented a major blow to the terrorist group. 

"Last night, the United States brought the world's No. 1 terrorist leader to justice," Trump said at the time. "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead."

"Capturing or killing him has been the top national security priority of my administration," he added.

Failure: Charlottesville and George Floyd
Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally neo Nazi
Alt-right members preparing to enter Emancipation Park holding Nazi, Confederate, and Gadsden "Don't Tread on Me" flags.

Trump's response to a deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, remains one of the most controversial moments in his presidency. 

It was emblematic of Trump's struggle to bring the country together after tragedies, and more generally. His response also typified his controversial record on race relations and white supremacy. 

Trump blamed "many sides" for the violence at the rally, which resulted in the death of a counterprotester, Heather Heyer. He later said there were "very fine people on both sides."

The president was excoriated by Republicans and Democrats alike over his response and his failure to offer a swift and forceful condemnation of white supremacist violence. 

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, often one of Trump's fiercest defenders in Congress, at the time said the president's words were "dividing Americans, not healing them."

"President Trump took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist, neo-Nazis and KKK members," Graham added. 

In the wake of the brutal death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the nationwide protests that followed, Trump also failed to rise to the occasion. He's done far more to divide the country than bring it together. 

The president had peaceful protesters tear-gassed near the White House so he could pose for a photo with a Bible at a nearby church. He's consistently demonized anti-racism demonstrators, and controversially sent federal agents into US cities to squash unrest and intimidate the local population. Trump has elevated conspiracy theorists and people who've threatened protesters with guns

Historians have warned that Trump's tactics mirror those of authoritarian regimes

Trump has frequently employed racist rhetoric during his presidency, but especially during times of heightened racial tensions. 

Polling shows that the vast majority of Black Americans believe Trump is a racist, and his approval rating with this demographic stands at 8%, according to Gallup.

Failure: America's global image is in shambles
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France's President Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel look at U.S. President Donald Trump during a family photo opportunity at the NATO leaders summit in Watford, Britain December 4, 2019..JPG

America's global image has declined significantly under Trump, who has repeatedly insulted key US allies while cozying up to dictators. 

The president's tendency to push important allies away and isolate the US, including by pulling out of landmark international agreements like the Paris climate accord, has had a palpable impact

People across the world have expressed negative views on Trump. Pew Research Center in January 2020 released a survey of 32 countries that showed a median of 64% said they do not have confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs, and just 29% expressed confidence in the president.

Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic has also left the US embarrassed on the world stage, and created a void in global leadership that China has rushed to fill. 

Failure: Family separations and the deaths of migrant children
Homestead Florida
An activist holds up a sign that says "families belong together" outside of the Homestead migrant child detention facility in Homestead, Florida.

Trump in 2016 campaigned on reducing undocumented immigration, pledging to take a hardline approach.

He made good on that promise when coming into office, but has been accused of human rights abuses and violating international law by the UN.

The Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on illegal border crossings led to the separations of at least 5,500 families and saw children placed in cages.

The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics at the time described the practice as "nothing less than government-sanctioned child abuse."

After widespread backlash, Trump issued an executive order in June 2018 to halt the family separations, and a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to reunite all those it had separated. But the fallout from the separations is ongoing. 

Trump has falsely blamed his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, for the policy that saw thousands of children separated from their parents. 

Meanwhile, at least six migrant children have died in US custody since September 2018, leading to widespread condemnation of conditions in detention facilities.

The UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, in July said she was "shocked" by the US government's treatment of migrant children and the conditions they faced in detention facilities after crossing the border from Mexico. 

"As a pediatrician, but also as a mother and a former head of state, I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate health care or food, and with poor sanitation conditions," Bachelet, the former president of Chile, stated.

Failure: Iran, Syria, and Afghanistan
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Trump's decision to unilaterally withdraw the US from the 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018 has induced chaos throughout the Middle East. 

It remains one of Trump's most unpopular decisions in the global arena, and has been condemned by top US allies who were also signatories to the deal. 

The president has failed to thwart Iran's aggressive behavior in the region via a maximum pressure campaign, which is meant to squeeze Tehran into negotiating a more stringent version of the pact. 

After a series of incidents in the Persian Gulf region in 2019, tensions between Washington and Tehran reached historic heights and sparked fears of war. This fears were exacerbated after Trump ordered a strike that killed Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani, in early January. The strike led Iran to retaliate and fire on US troops in the region, and dozens were seriously injured. 

Iran has essentially abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal, which was designed to prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. 

Trump's decision to pull US troops out of northern Syria in October is also among his most disastrous foreign policy moves. In doing so, Trump effectively abandoned US-allied Kurdish forces who bore the brunt of the US-led campaign against ISIS to a Turkish military invasion.

The withdrawal induced a humanitarian crisis and created a security vacuum that Russia, Iran, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an accused war criminal, all benefited from.

Trump has repeatedly pledged to end "endless wars," zeroing in on Afghanistan. He wanted to remove all US troops from Afghanistan by the November election, but that hasn't happened with Election Day less than two months away. The US is engaged in ongoing but tenuous peace talks with the Taliban that have occurred in concert with ongoing violence in the country.

Meanwhile, the New York Times in June reported that US intelligence officials determined Russia has paid bounties to Taliban-linked Afghan militants to kill US troops.

The Trump administration has taken no known responses. Though the White House has claimed Trump was not initially briefed on the matter, reporting from multiple outlets suggests otherwise. Trump in a recent interview said he has not confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin on the matter. 

Failure: Replacing the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare)
John McCain
John McCain votes no on the GOP's 'skinny repeal' healthcare bill.

The late Sen. John McCain's iconic "thumbs down" vote denied Trump a full congressional repeal (even a "skinny repeal") of former President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

However, Trump has had success in dismantling parts of the law. His tax bill included a roll back of the tax penalty for those who did not enroll in health care, and the Trump administration has had some success in the courts regarding the individual mandate.

Earlier in December, a federal appeals court struck down a core part of the law — the individual mandate. It did not overturn the entire law, sending it back to a lower court, and leaving the fate of Obamacare uncertain as an election year focused on health care intensifies.

What Trump has not done in his first three years is offer a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. As the Associated Press points out, as a candidate Trump promised "insurance for everybody" and a more immediate replacement to the nearly decade-old ACA.

The president said he would introduce a "phenomenal health care plan," during an interview with ABC News in June.

Failure: Impeachment
In this Dec. 18, 2019, photo, President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Mich. Using stark “Us versus Them” language, Trump and his campaign are trying to frame impeachment not as judgment on his conduct but as a culture war referendum on him and his supporters, aiming to motivate his base heading into an election year (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
In this Dec. 18, 2019, photo, President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Mich. Using stark “Us versus Them” language, Trump and his campaign are trying to frame impeachment not as judgment on his conduct but as a culture war referendum on him and his supporters, aiming to motivate his base heading into an election year (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives on December 18. 

The House approved two articles of impeachment against Trump, one for abuse of power over his dealings with Ukraine and one for obstruction of Congress over his efforts to stonewall the impeachment inquiry.

Trump urged Ukraine to launch investigations into his political rivals as he simultaneously withheld about $400 million in congressionally-approved military aid from the country, which is fighting an ongoing war against pro-Russian separatists. 

The president was acquitted Senate trial, but will still go down as just the third president in US history to be impeached. GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah also made history by voting to convict Trump, marking the first time ever that a senator voted to convict a president from their own party. 

Failure: COVID-19 pandemic
Trump, Dr. Fauci, Birx briefing masks mask
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, left, and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, both wearing face masks listen as President Donald J. Trump participates in a vaccine development event in the Rose Garden at the White House on Friday, May 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic will likely go down as one of the biggest disasters in US history. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died, and millions are unemployed

The US has the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world, with over 6.3 million confirmed cases and nearly 200,000 reported fatalities. The US has had more coronavirus cases than the populations of many countries. And more Americans have died from the virus than the number of US soldiers killed in combat in every war since 1945 combined. 

Trump has repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus and contradicted top public health experts, flouting recommendations from advisers on his own White House coronavirus task force.

In March, Trump privately admitted to veteran reporter Bob Woodward (on tape) that he was deliberately misleading the public on the dangers of the virus in an effort to avoid inducing panic. 

Public health experts have cited Trump's nonchalant approach to the virus and tendency to reject science as one of the primary factors in why the US emerged as the epicenter. 

Trump has refused to accept responsibility for his failed response to the pandemic, blaming China instead. 

 

Failure: The US economy
Trump
President Donald Trump walks on the tarmac as he arrives on campaign travel at Dobbins Air Force Reserve Base in Marrietta, Georgia, September 25, 2020.

Trump often took credit for the robust US economy prior to the pandemic, ignoring that much of the growth began during the Obama administration. 

The US is now facing one of the worst economic crises in its history under Trump, which is intrinsically linked to his disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus lockdowns in early 2020 led to tens of millions of job losses as whole segments of the economy sputtered. The economy has since begun adding back jobs, but is far from a full recovery as the US struggles to contain the coronavirus. Roughly 13.6 million people were unemployed as of August, with the unemployment rate at 8.4%. 

The US national debt is at the highest levels since World War II, and US economic growth is set to average just above 0% for Trump's first term due to the pandemic recession, per the Washington Post. 

Failure: Contracting COVID-19
trump walter reed
A car with US President Trump drives past supporters in a motorcade outside of Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on October 4, 2020.

Trump is the most heavily protected person on the planet as the president of the US. The fact he contracted COVID-19 stands as a catastrophic failure and a national security crisis for the US

The president routinely flouted public health recommendations prior to getting infected. Less than a week before he was diagnosed, for example, Trump mocked former Vice President Joe Biden for routinely wearing a mask in public.

Top public health experts have repeatedly urged Americans to wear a mask or face-covering, touting the practice as the best tool available in fighting the virus. 

Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 just days after essentially holding a super-spreader event in the Rose Garden at the White House to announce his Supreme Court nominee. Attendees did not social distance and many were seen without masks.

Over a dozen people in Trump's orbit have tested positive for COVID-19 since the event. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and 6 of the other wealthiest US billionaires reportedly lost a combined $14 billion in a single day

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Jeff Bezos Bill Gates Elon Musk
Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg saw their net worths take a hit on Monday — but Bezos added to his wealth, with Amazon stock closing up.
  • Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Alice Walton, and 6 of the other 10-richest in the US lost a combined $14 billion after markets took a hit on Monday, Forbes reports.
  • On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 650 points, the S&P fell 1.9%, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 1.6%.
  • Jeff Bezos was the only one on the list to see his wealth increase on Monday, with Amazon shares ending the day up.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise throughout the US and around the world, markets took a hit at the start of the week, resulting in the 10 wealthiest in the US collectively losing $14 billion in a single day, Forbes reports.

On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 650 points, the S&P 500 fell 1.9%, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 1.6%.

The market drop came as the US reported a record spike in COVID-19 cases alongside a lack of a second stimulus plan ahead of upcoming earnings reports from tech companies. Congress adjourned on Tuesday without making a deal, which means stimulus checks may not come until December. 

According to Forbes, the biggest single-day loss was suffered by Mark Zuckerberg, whose net worth stood at roughly $101.8 billion after market close Monday after losing $2.8 billion.

The net worth of Bill Gates also took a $1.7 billion hit, but the tech titan is still worth just over $115 billion, per Forbes.

Other notable billionaires on the list of America's 10 most wealthy include Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Warren Buffett. The Berkshire Hathaway CEO lost $1.5 billion on Monday, and Musk, with his wealth largely tied to his companies, lost around $66 billion, per Forbes.

There is only one woman on the list: Walmart heir Alice Walton, who saw a $635 billion hit to her fortune, according to Forbes.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, on the other hand, actually added to his fortune on Monday, with Amazon stock closing up. He was the only billionaire on the list that saw his wealth increase, Forbes reports.

This isn't the first time billionaires have seen eye-popping overnight losses during the pandemic. 

On September 3, the Dow fell by 740 points, after fears of overextended valuations of tech companies led to the end of an 11-day rally. Musk, Zuckerberg, and Gates the other 10 wealthiest tech billionaires collectively lost $44 billion at the time.

Head over to Forbes for the complete breakdown of how the market dip impacted the wealth of the top 10 richest in the US.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best rowing machines

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  • A rowing machine allows you to reap the benefits of a high-cardio, low-impact, muscle-strengthening, and calorie-burning sport from the comfort of your home.
  • There are typically four variations of rowing machine: Water resistance, air resistance, magnetic resistance, and hydraulic resistance, each of which offers their own benefits and drawbacks. 
  • We've tested a variety of the top rowers available to find the best in each category (along with a budget pick) to help you decide which are suitable for your fitness goals and lifestyle. 
  • Our top pick, the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine, features durable construction, comfortable design, and a smooth-running air resistance flywheel. 

Rowing machines offer a full-body workout capable of burning hundreds of calories in the span of just 30 minutes. It's a low-impact, high-cardio exercise that's suitable for everyone from high school and college competitors to retirees in their 60s, 70s, or 80s. As long as you know how to properly row, it can be a highly beneficial workout for almost anyone. 

With more people adjusting to working out at home, row machines are more popular now than ever and have become an incredibly vital addition to a home gym. The versatile workout it delivers not only serves as a quality complement to someone's pre-existing workout routine but it can also stand on its own as a prime source of weekly exercise. If you don't like running on a treadmill, a rower is the next best thing — and to some, it's even better.

But not all rowers are created equal. Not only are there a variety of resistance types and rower sizes but there are others designed to be easily stowed as well as a newer crop of smart rowers outfit with their own touchscreen and selection of on-demand classes.

To find the best of what's around, we tested a number of machines that span the growing lot of what's available. Our goal was to find those that delivered a serious cardio workout while proving to be a valuable addition to any home gym setup — and we came away with a strong list of favorites. At the end of this guide, we also included input on how to shop for a rower, as well as a rundown of our testing methodology

Here are the best rowing machines:

 

Updated on 10/27/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the sections on how to shop for a rower and how we tested each machine, checked the availability of each recommended product, and updated the prices and links where necessary. 

The best rowing machine overall
Concept2 Model Indoor Rowing Machine

The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine brings the gym to your home with its sturdy build, smooth gliding action, comfortable design, and superb quality.

The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine features solid aluminum front legs, steel rear legs, a flywheel with air resistance, and a maximum user weight capacity of 500 pounds, making it our top pick. 

Essential for executing powerful and uninterrupted strokes, the Model D 's flywheel has a damper for adjusting its air resistance, granting you complete control of the resistance yourself. The harder and faster you row, the more wind the flywheel generates and the more drag you'll feel.

With an air resistance rowing machine, you'd expect a bit of noise, however, the Model D runs fairly quiet. Although not completely silent, it's quiet enough for rowers to listen to music or watch television at a normal volume during workouts.

The easy-to-read performance monitor (PM5) tracks stroke rate, calories expended, distance, pace, and watts. It has several built-in programmable workouts and games to motivate you during a workout. The rower' also quick and easy to assemble and disassemble, and can be taken apart and rolled for storage.

Although the Model D isn't inexpensive, it's a worthwhile investment in your health and comes with limited five- and two-year warranties.

Pros: Smooth gliding operation, ease of assembly, large size to accommodate tall people

Cons: Pricey and requires a bit of space (9 feet by 4 feet) but worth it

The best budget rowing machine
Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

At a very reasonable price, the Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine offers a versatile workout with its independently moving arms and smooth hydraulic resistance for continuous rowing action.  

The Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine is small but mighty — and an excellent value at $120. Although it's compact and quiet, this hydraulic resistance rowing machine provides a big workout with a smooth-gliding padded seat and separate arms for a full-body workout.

What makes the BodyTrac Glider so special is its versatility in arm movements. Unlike many models where you pull a single handle attached to a chain or cord, this erg has two arms that allow for a full range of motion and mimic real boat-rowing movements.

This means you can row forward or backward, move your arms in circular directions, pull the handles close together for a conventional stroke, or hold the grips apart to exercise different arm, shoulder, and upper back muscles. Because the arms operate independently of each other, you're able to focus a workout on each arm individually. 

Sturdy with a steel frame and aluminum center beam, the BodyTrac Glider supports up to 250 pounds. It assembles easily and folds up for storage, as well. The single hydraulic piston/cylinder is located under the unit for convenient adjustment with a manual control dial.

The machine is able to maintain a variety of consistent levels of resistance for roughly 30 minutes of hard rowing. As with most hydraulic rowers, fluid in the hydraulic piston heats up, which decreases resistance. When this happens, you'll need to pause and increase the resistance setting. Always make sure you turn the control dial itself and not the heated piston/cylinder. Another downside to hydraulic resistance models is the chance of the piston leaking oil.

The BodyTrac Glider also has a simple and easy-to-use monitor, which features more functions than you'd expect on a machine this affordable.

Pros: Low price, independent arms for a full range of movement, and ease of assembly and folding

Cons: Resistance declines as piston heats up during long rowing sessions; short warranty (90 days for parts/one year for frame)

The best connected rowing machine
Hydrow

The Hydrow Rowing Machine aims to be the Peloton of at-home rowers with an immersive content experience that delivers a complete, full-body workout.

Connected fitness equipment continues to grow in popularity — and for good reason. Not only does it provide an interactive method for keeping fit but the classes and streamed content itself serve as powerful motivation to push on. In the rowing space, one of the best to deliver the kind of connected content fans of NordicTrack and Peloton have come to love is Hydrow and its aptly named rower, the Hydrow Rowing Machine

Built with an aluminum and steel frame on a flat, anthracite polymer body, the Hydrow is a durable and sturdy rower. Attached to the front of the machine is an HD touchscreen where you're able to access its library of interactive workouts. These workouts include everything from on-demand routines, open swim-style free rows, whole body-specific workouts, and live classes.

The machine also comes with the ability to read your heart rate via an included monitor and features a whisper-quiet electromagnetic resistance. Hydrow does well to not only provide classes that highly motivate you to finish a row but it also creates a competitive environment where you can see how you rank with other global users or anyone else using your machine. 

With a sticker price of $2,245 and a recurring monthly fee of $38 for access to the classes, it's certainly not cheap — but few connected fitness machines of this caliber ever are. It's worth the investment. -- Rick Stella

Pros: Extensive library of motivating classes and rowing events, delivers a full-body workout, features quiet, electromagnetic resistance

Cons: Expensive

Read our full review of the Hydrow Rowing Machine.

The best high-end rowing machine
Ergatta Digital Rower

The Ergatta Connected Rower combines the rush of video game racing with the fitness benefits of a full-body exercise to deliver one of the most interactive rowing machines available. 

Like similar smart fitness equipment from brands such as Peloton or NordicTrack, the Ergatta Connected Rower utilizes a giant on-board screen to display its on-demand workouts and exercises. But unlike its aforementioned peers, the workouts aren't led by an instructor belting out the next movement or exercise but are instead comprised of a series of video game-inspired routines that prove just as motivating as those high-energy classes.

What this means is that the Connected Rower pits you against the machine for its goal-based plans and interval workouts, while also allowing you to compete against other Ergatta users in simulated races. Regardless of the event, the software delivers an addictive experience that drives you to want to continuously do better. Fitness trackers found a way to gamify daily fitness and the Connected Rower follows the same path. 

The physical rower is an aesthetic wonder, too. Made of Cherry wood and featuring a traditional water rowing mechanism, Ergatta clearly intended for the rower to be more than just a means for getting fit — it wanted the rower to also pleasing both in terms of look and feel. The water rowers soothing swoosh of water adds to an already enjoyable experience, as well.

Perhaps its one downside is the fact the rower's not cheap. But since few interactive workout machines like are, this isn't entirely surprising. After an initial $2,199 price tag for the machine (and a $199 shipping cost), there's a recurring $27 fee for access to the library of on-demand classes (which is also par for the smart workout machine course). 

In all, the Ergatta Connected Rower delivers a full-body workout disguised as an interactive gaming experience — and it's one of the most enjoyable we've tested. -- Rick Stella

Pros: Motivating video game-inspired workout platform, beautiful design, features a folding design for easy stowing

Cons: Expensive 

Check out our review of the Ergatta Connected Rower here

The best dual resistance rowing machine
Screen Shot 2020 07 09 at 4.16.00 PM

NordicTrack's RW900 combines the stimulation of instructor-led courses with the versatility of both air and digital resistance to offer one of the best at-home rowing experiences. 

Though NordicTrack may be more well known for its stationary bikes and treadmills, the company's offered high-quality row machines for quite some time — and its RW900 is the brand's crown jewel. Featuring a 22-inch HD touchscreen display, a library of interactive workout classes led by real trainers, and a fold-up design, this rower is worth every bit of its $1,699 price tag.

What makes the rower particularly impressive is its dual resistance. So, while rowing away during a class, an instructor has the ability to digitally adjust the resistance based on how they want you to row. But if it's either too much or you want to kick your workout up a few notches, there's the ability to manually adjust the air resistance. An easy-to-use air control is located on the wheel which allows for quick adjustments, even between strokes. 

Like any workout machine with a massive touchscreen attached to it, the RW900 shines with what it offers in terms of workouts via its iFit interactive platform. Be it in studio routines from its roster of iFit trainers or more calming sessions in real locations around the world, the options are incredibly versatile. There are even yoga and cross-training courses to mix things up a bit.

The rower also offers stat tracking which tells you how long you row each week along with calories burned and row wattage and allows for up to four different users on the same iFit profile. All new purchases also come with a free year of iFit (which is typically $468 per year or $39 per month), so you won't have to worry about a monthly recurring charge for access to the library of content for at least the first year. 

Pros: Interactive workouts, easily folds up, utilizes a dual resistance design

Cons: Expensive, iFit membership costs $39 per month (after the first free year)

The best water resistance rowing machine
Water Rower Natural Rowing Machine

The elegant WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine uses water resistance to make you feel like you're truly sculling on the open water.

For an indoor rowing machine, the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine comes closest to recreating the sensation of actual outdoor rowing as it features a flywheel that pushes through water in a heavy-duty tank. It even delivers soft and soothing swooshing sounds of water while rowing, too. 

In addition to controlling resistance through your strokes — the harder and faster you row, the greater drag the flywheel encounters — you can increase resistance by adding water to the tank. In essence, the more water there is, the heavier the drag on the flywheel, and the harder your workout.

Maintenance of the machine is easy, too. Just fill the tank using the included siphon pump and drop in a chlorine tablet every six months. There's no need to empty the tank, even before storing it. Although the machine doesn't fold up, it's easy to store upright and the weight of the water stabilizes the erg in an upright position.

You can assemble the frame without any tools, and the instructions come on an included DVD. Because wood expands and contracts due to environmental conditions, you may need to tighten the bolts every once in a while.

With a comfortable, stable seat that rolls smoothly along dual rails, you'll experience an excellent workout where you can keep track of distance, time, and calories burned as displayed on the S4 monitor. The rower comes with a three-year warranty on its parts, as well as a five-year warranty on the frame.

Pros: Gorgeous appearance, meditative whooshing sounds, and simulation of open-water rowing sensations 

Cons: Expensive, included monitor is fine but limited

The best magnetic resistance rowing machine
Sunny Health Fitness SF RW5515

Quiet, smooth, and stable, the Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine provides varying magnetic resistance levels for a wide range of workouts. 

The reasonably priced Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine offers quite a few convenient features: a comfortable, cushioned seat; anti-grip handles; an LCD monitor that tracks stroke counts, time, and calories burned; and eight levels of knob-adjusted magnetic resistance for various intensities.

Level two is good for warming up before progressing to levels three and four for a more vigorous workout. Levels five and higher are more intense, perfect for long cardio-building rowing sessions. Level seven is for endurance and all-out sprints while level eight offers the greatest resistance (and hardest workout).

Able to support up to 250 pounds, the Sunny's Magnetic Rowing Machine has a 48-inch-long rail in which the padded seat rolls smoothly and quietly. The rower is able to easily fold up for convenient storage and even has built-in wheels. It's easy to assemble and relatively compact, taking up minimal space when folded up and very little square footage when open.

Pros: Economical with eight levels of resistance, easy to fold and store

Cons: Only okay cord quality, rail might be too short for tall people

How to row with good form

To get the most out of your workouts and avoid injury, remember that proper rowing form consists of an initial drive phase followed by a recovery phase. Here's how to execute it: 

  • For the drive, start first with your legs and once those are extended and your back is vertical, use your arms to pull the handle into your body. Your finished position should be your legs fully extended, the rower's handle pulled into your body with your wrists in line with your forearms. From here, you'll move onto recovery.
  • The first step of recovery is to straighten your arms and pivot your body from your hips, making sure to avoid hunching forward or bending backward. This fluid motion will then have your legs flexing in until your shins are completely vertical.

Finally, don't think of this exercise as a race. Focus on perfecting your form, not on how fast you can row.

How to shop for a rowing machine

With many different kinds of rowing machines out there, it's important to examine each model to choose one that best fits your needs and keeps you motivated and injury-free. You'll want to consider features like:

  • Resistance: Different types of resistance include magnetic (electromagnets slow the erg's metal flywheel), air (wind from the spinning flywheel creates drag), hydraulic (resistance is created by hydraulic fluid in a piston or two connected to the erg's handles), and water (the flywheel pushes against water in a tank).
  • Size: The machine should be large enough for you to straighten your legs and maintain proper rowing form, yet small enough to fit into your workout space.
  • Maximum user weight capacity: Models vary in how much they support but many accommodate 220 to 265 pounds or more.
  • Foldability: Some machines (usually magnetic and hydraulic resistance) fold up for easy storage, while others (often air and water resistance) don't. 
  • Monitor: A monitor or computer tracks information like distance, duration, speed, and/or calories burned while rowing.
  • Seat: It should be contoured and large enough to keep your backside comfortable while allowing you to maintain proper form.

 

How we test row machines

Each rower featured in this guide went through a testing process to gauge how well it performed across these four categories: Ease of use, experience, reliability, and value. Here's how each category specifically factored into which rowers ultimately made this guide.

Ease of use: Row machines have a naturally low learning curve — the general idea is to just sit down and row. But we know there's more to it than that. Ease of use also refers to the process of setting up the machine set up in your home, how easy it is to get started, whether there's a companion app, and if that learning curve (however steep) dramatically impacts the following category: your experience.

Experience: Working out for fun may seem like an oxymoron but it is important to at least somewhat enjoy the sweat your breaking. Since a row machine delivers a full-body workout, you want one that won't feel like some sort of grueling game of tug of war. Ideally, a proper row machine offers smooth operation, an engaging platform (whether that means it offers digital feedback or is just fluid to use), and is comfortable to use. 

Reliability: If the row machine you invest in doesn't last longer than a few months, you'll likely be cursing whatever inclination you had to want to buy it. Put plainly, at-home workout machines aren't cheap and the one you ultimately end up spending a large chunk of money on should work, and work often. 

Value: Value is a mixture of the categories that came before it, as well as some attention to its actual sticker price — but this doesn't mean that more expensive models should be ignored. It's better to spend more money once on a machine that's reliable, easy to use, and delivers a fun workout than to struggle with a different cumbersome budget model every few months. 

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The Rule of 72 is a quick, simple way to figure how long it'll take for your savings and investments to double in value

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The Rule of 72 demonstrates how the magic of compounding helps investments to grow.
  • The Rule of 72 is a mathematical formula that estimates how long it'll take an investment to double in value or to lose half its value. 
  • To calculate the Rule of 72, you divide the number 72 by the rate of return of an investment or account.
  • The Rule of 72 can only be used on investments earning compound interest; it's most effective on interest rates between 6% to 10%.
  • Visit Insider's Investing Reference library for more stories.

Learning where and how to invest is intimidating. So intimidating that many people don't make it to the next step of figuring out how to project the growth of their investments — even though that's pretty crucial to your making financial plans and setting goals. 

What if you could plug some numbers into a simple formula and find out how long it would take for your investments to double?

That's exactly what the Rule of 72 does. Here's what you need to know about how it works and why it's a key tool to keep in your investing toolbox.

What is the Rule of 72?

The Rule of 72 is a mathematical principle that estimates the time it will take for an investment to double in value. The mention of math might make your jaw clench, but the Rule of 72 is actually a very basic formula that anyone can use. 

Simply take the number 72 and divide it by the interest earned on your investments each year to get the number of years it will take for your investments to grow 100%. Or to drop by 50%.

However, you can only apply this rule to compounding growth or decay. In other words, you can only use it for investments that earn compound interest, not simple interest. With simple interest, you only earn interest on the principal amount you invest. Compound interest is "interest earned on interest": It accrues on accumulated interest, in addition to the principal.  

Because interest is essentially being added into your principal, and used as the base for fresh interest calculations, compounding makes your investment grow exponentially. Meaning: As interest accrues and the quantity of money increases, the rate of growth becomes faster.

It doesn't have to be investment interest; anything that augments your principal creates "the magic of compounding." For example, if you reinvest the dividends you earn on your investments, your earnings are being compounded. Therefore, the Rule of 72 applies. 

On the other hand, if you choose to withdraw your dividends rather than reinvest them, your earnings might not compound, and the Rule of 72 wouldn't work.

How to calculate the Rule of 72

To calculate the Rule of 72, all you have to do is divide the number 72 by the rate of return. You can use the formula below to calculate the doubling time in days, months, or years, depending on how the interest rate is expressed. For example, if you input the annualized interest rate, you'll get the number of years it will take for your investments to double.

The formula is as follows: t ≈ 72 / r

  • t = number of periods it will take for the investment to double
  • r = the interest rate or rate of return per period, expressed as a percentage

You'll notice the formula uses the "approximately equals" symbol (≈) rather than the regular "equals" symbol (=). That's because this formula offers an estimate rather than an exact amount, and it's most accurate when used on investments that earn a typical rate of 6% to 10%. 

While usually used to estimate the doubling time on a growing investment, the Rule of 72 can also be used to estimate halving time on something that's depreciating. 

For example, you can use the Rule of 72 to estimate how many years it will take for a currency's buying power to be cut in half due to inflation, or how many years it will take for the total value of a universal life insurance policy to decline by 50%. The formula works exactly the same either way — simply plug in the inflation rate instead of the rate of return, and you'll get an estimate for how many years it will take for the initial amount to lose half its value.

Rule of 72 example

Let's say you invest $1,000 at a 9.2% annual rate of return, which is the average stock market return for the last 10 years. To calculate the doubling time using the Rule of 72, you'd input the numbers into the formula as follows:

72 / 9.2 ≈ 7.8

This means that your initial $1,000 investment will be worth $2,000 in about 7.8 years, assuming your earnings are compounding. If you instead invest $10,000, you'll have $20,000 in just under eight years. This also means that $20,000 will double again in another eight years, assuming the same rate of growth — in other words, you'll have $40,000 in less than 16 years. 

All of this is also assuming you're not adding to your initial investment over time, which makes the fact that your money is doubled in less than a decade all the more impressive.

Alternatives to the Rule of 72

The number 72 is a good estimator in most situations and, thanks to it being an easily divisible number, it makes for simple math. It's best for interest rates, or rates of return, between 6% to 10%. Most investment accounts, including retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, index funds, and mutual funds fall into this range of return. 

But with a different range, you might want to fiddle a bit — same formula, but different numbers to divide by. An easy rule of thumb is to add or subtract "1" from 72 for every three points the interest rate diverges from 8% (the middle of the Rule of 72's ideal range). 

At really high interest rates, for example, using the number 78 will give more accurate results. On the other hand, 69 or 70 are more accurate for lower interest rates and interest that compounds daily. Daily compounding is rare in investing and mostly happens with savings products such as high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs).

The financial takeaway

The Rule of 72 offers a quick and easy way for investors to project the growth of their investments. By showing how quickly you can double your money with minimal effort, this rule beautifully demonstrates the magic of compounding for building wealth.

Related Coverage in Investing:

What is dollar-cost averaging? A simple investment strategy that will help most people build wealth over time

How banks can pay interest on your money

6 easy ways to grow your money with very little effort

How to calculate return on investment to figure how much money you've made

How to invest in mutual funds and grow your money for retirement, a bucket-list trip, or any other long-term goal

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Reddit employees will keep their coveted San Francisco salaries if they move to more affordable cities, bucking the trend of pay cuts for workers leaving Silicon Valley

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Reddit Inc. co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman speaks during a hearing with the House Communications and Technology and House Commerce Subcommittees on Capitol Hill on October 16, 2019 in Washington, DC.
  • Reddit said Tuesday that its employees will not take a pay cut if they decide to move to more affordable cities.
  • Many of Reddit's Silicon Valley peers, including Facebook and Stripe, have said that workers will indeed take a salary cut if they leave Silicon Valley.
  • The pandemic has altered real estate in the tech region as corporate offices remain shuttered and many companies consider alternative, remote options even after offices reopen.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Reddit will keep paying its employees their San Francisco salaries if they decide to leave the region for more affordable locales, the company said in a Tuesday blog post.

"To support employees to live where they want to and do their best work, we are eliminating geographic compensation zones in the US," the company wrote. "It means that our US compensation will be tied to pay ranges of high-cost areas such as SF and NY, regardless of where employees live." Reddit also said it will still work to reimagine office space for those who want to both work remotely and come into an office periodically.

Reddit did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

The San Francisco-based company appears to be the first of the region's tech pool to offer such a benefit to its workers as the industry continues to embrace remote work. 

Read more: San Francisco Bay Area tech salaries revealed: Here are 21 of the region's highest-paid jobs at companies like Netflix, Google, Apple, and Facebook.

Twitter and Square have told employees they can work remotely permanently, even after the pandemic, but has a policy to cut pay for those who leave the region. Google and Facebook have announced that their workforces will be working from home well into 2021. However, Facebook has said employees who choose to move away from the Bay Area will take a pay cut starting in January. And online payment processor Stripe similarly told its workers that they will take a 10% pay cut if they move away from the Bay Area, although the company did say it would pay them $20,000 as a one-time incentive to relocate.

An exodus from the pricey San Francisco Bay Area is nothing new, but the pandemic and a shift to remote work have accelerated an "urban flight" from the city since this summer. A June report from rental site Zumper showed that rents had plunged 9.2% year-over-year. And according to an October Realtor report, the median rent for a studio apartment in the city dropped over 30% from this time last year, signaling a decrease in demand for housing.

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Early votes in the US account for over 50% of votes that were cast in the entire 2016 presidential election

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Voters wait in line to cast early ballots at Philadelphia City Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • As of October 27, at least 69.4 million ballots have been cast in the 2020 election, according to Michael McDonald at the US Elections Project.
  • This figure would represent over half of all votes (50.8%) that were cast in the 2016 presidential election.
  • Texas currently leads the way with 7,803,590 early ballots cast, the highest total of any individual state in the country.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Early voting in the US presidential election has been robust since it began a few weeks ago, but it just passed a critical milestone.

As of October 27, at least 69.4 million ballots have been cast in the 2020 election, according to Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political science professor who runs the US Elections Project.

This figure would represent over half of all votes (50.8%) that were cast in the entire 2016 presidential election between then-GOP nominee Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That year, 136,669,276 votes were cast in total, according to the Federal Elections Commission.

 

Combined with Election Day votes, the rising number of early votes could represent a historic turnout total once all the ballots are counting, rivaling the turnout of the 1908 US presidential election, which hit 65% of the eligible US population.

Here are the three states with the highest early voting totals so far, based on data from the US Elections Project:

  • Texas leads the way with 7,803,590 ballots cast, the highest total of any individual state in the country.
  • California has the second-highest total in the country, with 7,402,302 ballots cast.
  • Florida has the third-highest level in the country, with 6,427,773 ballots cast.

Texas has voted for the Republican presidential nominee since 1980, but this year multiple polls have showed a close race between Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Trump.

The state has long had low voter turnout levels in its elections, but a mix of changing demographics and infrequent or first-time voters showing up to the polls in 2020 has changed the calculus of predicting the winner of the Lone Star State, according to the Guardian.

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A NASA spacecraft circling Jupiter has captured the planet's colorful electrical outbursts — sprites and elves — for the first time

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An illustration of the lightning phenomenon known as a sprite on Jupiter.
  • NASA's Juno spacecraft has discovered that Jupiter's atmosphere produces lightning-like electrical outbursts called transient luminous events.
  • On Earth, these colorful lights occur during thunderstorms, when lightning strikes produce red tendrils called sprites or glowing disks called elves high above the clouds.
  • Scientists predicted that Jupiter would have sprites and elves too, since it has lightning, but nobody had captured these alien flashes of light until now.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

NASA's Juno spacecraft just captured images of colorful bursts of lightning-like electricity high in Jupiter's  atmosphere.

These phenomena, which include jellyfish-shaped "sprites" and glowing disks called "elves," also occur high up in Earth's atmosphere during thunderstorms. They were first documented in 1989. Scientists predicted that other planets that have lightning, like Jupiter, would also produce these transient luminous events.

But nobody had ever seen alien sprites or elves until now.

Juno has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016 and collecting images of its aurorae in ultraviolet light. A team of researchers processing those snapshots recently noticed something odd.

jupiter sprite lightning atmosphere
The south pole of Jupiter and a potential transient luminous event — a bright, unpredictable, extremely brief flash of light (circled in yellow) — captured by Juno on April 10, 2020.

"In the process of putting together those images, we noticed that very occasionally we saw these surprising, short-lived, bright flashes," Rohini Giles, a researcher on the Juno team, said in a press conference on Tuesday, during the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Association's Division for Planetary Sciences.

"We then went and searched through all of the data that we've taken over four years of the mission and we found a total of 11 flashes all with very similar properties," she added.

Each of these outbursts lasted just a few milliseconds.

Giles' team published a new study on these flashes in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets on Tuesday.

On Earth, sprites appear as long, red tendrils, sometimes trailing down from a diffuse halo. They happen when a lightning strike produces a high-altitude "quasi-electrostatic field," Giles said.

red sprite lightning earth iss thunderstorm skitch
Red sprites appear above the US, photographed from the International Space Station in 2015.

In other cases, lightning strikes send electromagnetic pulses upward. The pulses produce glowing disks: elves. 

"On Earth, sprites and elves appear reddish in color due to their interaction with nitrogen in the upper atmosphere," Giles said. "But on Jupiter, the upper atmosphere mostly consists of hydrogen, so they would likely appear either blue or pink."

Juno can't confirm that these events were triggered by lightning strikes, since the probe's lightning-detecting instrument is on the other side of the spacecraft from its UV imaging instrument. Images from the two instruments are taken at least 10 seconds apart — a delay that's too long to capture the same brief flash of light.

jupiter great red spot hubble
A Hubble Space Telescope view of Jupiter, taken June 27, 2019, reveals the giant planet's trademark Great Red Spot.

But everything else points to these 11 outbursts being transient luminous events: They were extremely short-lived, emitted lots of hydrogen, and occured about 186 miles (300 kilometers) above Jupiter's water clouds — too high to be lightning.

"We're continuing to look for more telltale signs of elves and sprites every time Juno does a science pass," Giles said. "Now that we know what we are looking for, it will be easier to find them at Jupiter and on other planets. And comparing sprites and elves from Jupiter with those here on Earth will help us better understand electrical activity in planetary atmospheres."

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A rare Blue Blood Moon rises on Halloween. Here's what that means.

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The full moon sets behind trees in the Taunus region near Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, May 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
The full moon sets behind trees in the Taunus region near Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, May 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

A Blue Blood Moon will hang in the sky on Halloween.

It's nothing to fear, though, despite the ominous name. A blue moon is the term for the second full moon in a single month, and a Blood Moon is simply the name for a full moon that falls in the month of October.

The backdrop is rare for October 31: Full-moon Halloweens only happen every 18 or 19 years, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.

Across North America and Europe, people have used full moons to track months and seasons for thousands of years, naming each one based on the seasonal changes it indicates.

The names assigned to full moons are often attributed to the native Algonquian peoples, who share a family of languages and originate from the area that today ranges from New England as far west as Lake Superior. Colonial settlers across North America adopted their own version of the indigenous names, according to the Almanac.

Different languages and cultures characterized their moons differently, sometimes based on agricultural cycles, sometimes on natural phenomena. Here are some of the many names assigned to full moons throughout the year.

Blue moons are like special bonuses. They occur every two or three years, when a month or season has one extra full moon.
Blue Moon

When an astronomical season (the time between solstice and equinox) has four full moons instead of the normal three, the third one is a seasonal blue moon.

When a calendar month has two full moons, the second one is a monthly blue moon. That happens because the lunar month is only 29 days long, while the Gregorian calendar month is usually 30 or 31 days long.

The moon doesn't actually appear blue on these occasions. That would only happen if dust or smoke particles of a particular size cloud the atmosphere, say after a forest fire, volcanic eruption, or dust storm.

The next seasonal blue moon: August 22, 2021

The next monthly blue moon: August 30, 2023

October: Hunter's Moon, Blood Moon, Dying Grass Moon, Travel Moon
hunting shooting guns dogs pheasants
A man shoots at pheasants flying overhead during a pheasant hunt in Stokenchurch, southern England.

These names refer to the time of year when leaves have fallen, the deer are fat, and animals are coming into harvested fields to eat what's left. Historically, hunters took advantage of October to store meat for the winter.

The next one: October 31, 2020

November: Beaver Moon, Frosty Moon
beaver woodchuck tree
A Canadian beaver chews through a tree in Gatineau Park, Quebec.

Beavers prepare for winter in November, as do trappers. This moon signaled the time to catch beavers and secure a supply of warm furs before the swamps froze.

The next one: November 30, 2020

December: Cold Moon, Long Night's Moon
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The moon sets behind a mountain at sunrise in Lake Louise, Alberta on December 2, 2009.

December has the longest, darkest nights of the year, and the moon sits above the horizon longer than usual. Some Europeans and their descendants in North America also called the December full moon the "moon before Yule."

The next one: December 29, 2020

January: Wolf Moon, Old Moon, Ice Moon
wolves

In mid-winter, as the story goes, hungry wolves would gather outside villages in North America and medieval Europe and howl into the night. This full moon was sometimes also called the "moon after Yule."

The next one: January 28, 2021

February: Snow Moon, Hunger Moon
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The full "Snow Moon" rises above the Hudson River and the town of Irvington, New York, February 3, 2015.

In North America, February marks the depths of winter, when snow blankets the ground and fresh food was traditionally harder to come by. Because it's a shorter month, some Februarys don't have a full moon at all.

The next one: February 27, 2021

March: Worm Moon, Sap Moon, Crow Moon
maple tapping massachusetts
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker urges sap to come out of a maple tree during an event at Hollis Hill Farm in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, March 6, 2015.

As spring approaches, earthworms emerge from the ground, maple trees are ripe for tapping, and crows caw to herald the end of winter. European settlers with religious calendars called this the Lenten moon.

The next one: March 28, 2021

April: Pink Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, Egg Moon, Fish Moon
pink flower spring Phlox_Paniculata
Phlox flowers bloom in early spring.

The pink moon is named for the pink phlox flowers that bloom in spring. The other names refer to additional staples of the changing season: growing grass, birds filling nests with eggs, and fish that swim upstream to spawn.

The next one: April 26, 2021

May: Flower Moon, Planting Moon
Flowers

In May, flowers burst fully into bloom and it becomes time to sow crops again.

The next one: May 26, 2021

June: Strawberry Moon, Rose Moon, Hot Moon
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A family picks strawberries at the Legare Farm Stand in Calais, Vermont, June 21, 2007.

Strawberries ripen for picking in June. Europeans dubbed this the rose moon, and other cultures called it the hot moon because it harkens summer heat ahead.

The next one: June 24, 2021

July: Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, Hay Moon
Reuters best wildlife animal images of 2015 deer
Young stag deer clash antlers during the annual rut in Richmond Park in west London, Britain, October 16, 2015. The Royal Park has had Red and Fallow deer present since 1529, and early autumn sees the rutting or breeding season begin amongst the herd of over six hundred animals.

Deer grow new, velvety antlers in July, and thunderstorms rage aplenty in some parts of North America. For Anglo-Saxons, July was all about hay.

The next one: July 23, 2021

August: Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon
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Virginia Commonwealth University graduate student Matt Balazik gets ready to toss a 70-lb Atlantic sturgeon into the James River near Charles City, Virginia, October 8, 2010.

Tribes near the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain knew August was the best time to catch sturgeon, an enormous, hearty fish. Some people also think the moon appears more reddish in color this month because of the heat.

The next one: August 22, 2021

September: Harvest Moon, Corn Moon, Barley Moon
Amish harvest corn in Maryland
Amish people harvest corn in Maryland.

Over the millennia, September's full moon has signified to farmers that it's time to finish harvesting corn and other crops. A Harvest Moon sometimes occurs in October (the moon doesn't follow the Gregorian calendar), but it's always the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox.

Because the harvest moon rises with the setting sun, it looks larger than usual. These bright moonlit nights give farmers a little extra time to harvest their crops.

The next ones: September 20, 2021

Some full moons are called supermoons or micromoons. The contemporary terms refer to how large and small the moon looks at various points in its elliptical orbit.
Supermoon 2013

Supermoons occur when the moon is at perigee — the closest point to Earth. They can cause stronger ocean tides and weather events.

Micromoons are the opposite, occurring at apogee — when the moon is furthest from Earth.  They can reduce the variation in spring tides by 2 inches. Micromoons appear about 14% smaller than supermoons, and sometimes seem dimmer, since the area illuminated by the sun appears 30% smaller, according to TimeandDate.com.

Since the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has not officially defined supermoons or micromoons, astronomers disagree on which full moons get the designation.

The next full supermoon: March 28, 2021

The next full micromoon: October 31, 2020

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Callaway Golf just acquired all of Topgolf in an appeal to millennial customers

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Lee Brice attends the ACM Lifting Lives TOPGOLF Tee-Off at TOPGOLF on April 06, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Callaway Golf, the $1.8 billion golf club maker, just bought Topgolf. The deal would value Topgolf at $2 billion, per a release.
  • Topgolf is an entertainment company that operates outdoor and indoor golf games. The company generated $1.1 billion in revenue in 2019 and has grown at a 30% compound annual rate since. 
  • "Topgolf is the best thing that happened to golf since Tiger Woods," Callaway CEO Chip Brewer said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. "It's going to be the largest source of new golfers for our industry."
  • Callaway initially invested in Topgolf in 2006 for 14% of the company.
  • Callaway expects Topgolf to grow significantly after reporting a 233% increase in revenue in the past three years. Topgolf had 23 million total guests in 2019, with over half of customers identifying as non-golfers. 
  • "Millennials want a parallel experience, and Topgolf is built on four things everyone loves – play, food and drinks, music and community" Erik Anderson, co-chairman Topgolf Entertainment Group, told CNBC.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
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Trump praises himself for not being a 'typical politician.' That line worked in 2016, but former supporters now see it as 'lack of experience.'

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  • President Donald Trump has maintained his campaign message that his appeal to his base is that he isn't a lifelong politician.
  • At last week's debate, he criticized Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for being a "typical politician."
  • But former supporters of Trump who now support Biden told Business Insider the past four years have shown Trump's "lack of experience" and his "unpresidential" nature.
  • Ultimately, these former Trump supporters said they want a president who shows they care about Americans, particularly in wake of a global health crisis and social unrest.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Four years ago, Amy Hopkins, a lifelong Republican, voted for Donald Trump "because he wasn't necessarily a politician at the time." 

Hopkins, 45, told Business Insider she thought if Trump could "run multiple businesses then I felt that possibly we would see a change in how some things are run within the country."  

During his first presidential campaign, Trump distinguished himself from his opponents by touting himself as a Washington, D.C. outsider, arguing he was not "controlled fully by the lobbyists, by the donors, and by the special interests."

"I'm not a politician, thank goodness," Trump said in 2015, according to the Washington Post, adding that politicians did not walk the talk. 

This pitch was a major selling point for his supporters. 

"He's going to tell the people what he's going to do, and he's going to do it. Finally, we get someone that's not a politician," one supporter told the BBC in 2016.

"I'm not a typical politician," Trump said last week as he mocked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for being a "typical politician" after he spoke directly to American families during the final presidential debate.

"That's why I got elected," Trump said. 

But now former Trump supporters like Hopkins said they no longer consider whether or not someone is a "typical politician" — or even a businessperson — an important factor as to who should be president.

"I don't go based on what the stock market is doing daily, because that's not a realistic way for me to live my life," she said. "I really would prefer to have somebody in office that cares about the American people and their voices and how we feel, it doesn't feel that way with [Trump]."

Erin Rosiello of Ohio told Insider she voted for Trump in 2016 because she was convinced the US needed "somebody with a good business sense" over a "lifelong politician," but "within weeks I was so sorry for my decision and have been kicking myself ever since."

Rosiello, who has been diagnosed with lung cancer, said in August she feared "every day that he's going to pull the plug on ACA, which will take away preexisting coverage — which would cost me my life."

For David Weissman, it wasn't just Trump appearing to be a successful businessman that prompted him to vote for the billionaire in 2016, but also how an outsider Trump made the now 40-year-old Florida resident feel seen and included as a conservative. 

"I thought that he was going to tell it how it is, trying to get things done," Weissman told Business Insider. In 2016, he believed Trump would accomplish a lot while in office, wouldn't be afraid to say when somebody was doing wrong, and make America more conservative, which he supported at the time, he said.

 

But this year Weissman said he is now rallying behind Biden.

Since voting for Trump, Weissman said he's been disappointed to realize what made Trump an appealing candidate was a facade.

Weissman, a 13-year Army veteran said he was disappointed to learn about Trump deferring his military draft and his "business failures," such as his bankruptcies, lawsuits, and a recent review of Trump's tax records that showed many of his businesses were struggling financially.

"Those are not qualities of a successful businessman," Weissman said, adding that Trump's "lack of experience" in politics is the reason for chaos around the coronavirus pandemic and protests for racial justice.

"We need somebody that has experience who knows what to do, knows what to say," he said, and pointed to Biden's long background in politics as "experience" that qualifies him for office.

Trump has appeared "unpresidential" over the past four years, Hopkins said, referring to the president's tweets and controversial comments. But the pandemic a tipping point for her was when Trump seemed to brush off the gravity of the novel coronavirus, she said.

"He should have taken action a lot sooner," Hopkins said. As journalist Bob Woodward reported in his recent book, Trump was aware of the coronavirus early on but wanted to "play it down" because he didn't want to "create a panic."

Still, Hopkins said, her change of heart on Trump does not indicate that the best candidate for the job needs to be a politician.

"We need more people to care about how the American people are living," she said. 

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Florida police detective buys a $1,000 Purple Heart to try and reunite it with its owners

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purple heart
A Purple Heart.
  • A police detective in Florida on Sunday purchased a Purple Heart that was originally priced at $10,000 at an antique shop in order to track down the family of its owner, according to Fox News affiliate WTVT.
  • The detective reportedly explained to the antique dealer that he wanted to track down the family of the medal recipient and purchased the Purple Heart for $1,000.
  • The detective, a US Army veteran, said he was "extremely angry" after he saw the listed price of the medal.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A police detective in Florida on Sunday purchased a Purple Heart that was originally priced at $10,000 at an antique shop in order to track down the family of its owner, according to Fox News affiliate WTVT.

"I didn't know what to think. It was kind of odd," Sgt. Anthony Cerniglia of Palmetto, Florida, a US Army veteran, reportedly said, adding that he was "extremely angry" after he saw the listed price of the medal.

Purple Heart medals are awarded to US service members who were killed or wounded in the line of duty due to enemy actions. Nearly 2 million are estimated to have been awarded since its inception in 1792, according to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.

"It's hurtful. It's crushing," Cerniglia said to WTVT. "We know what these soldiers do to earn this."

Cerniglia reportedly explained to the antique dealer that he wanted to track down the family of the medal recipient and purchased the Purple Heart for $1,000. Purple Hearts come with the recipients name engraved on the medal. This particular combat decoration was awarded to Alan D. Beckwith, who was 22 years old when he was killed on June 7, 1944, one day after D-Day, according to WTVT.

Cerniglia did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on Tuesday afternoon.

Cerniglia has reportedly been using publicly available tools to track down its owner, such as Ancestry.com. He has since found Beckwith's niece and nephew, both in their 60s.

"It would be a proud moment for me to be able to return this to the rightful owners," he told WTVT.

It is not illegal to buy or sell a Purple Heart; however, it is a federal offense to claim to be a recipient of the combat decoration for benefits.

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James Comey's wife tried to convince him not to make his surprise October announcement about Hillary Clinton's emails in 2016

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Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey is surrounded by reporters in 2018 after testifying to Congress.
  • Patricia Comey, the wife of former FBI director James Comey, tried to stop him from making his surprise October 2016 announcement about reopening an investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server, she told New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt.
  • Comey's announcement, days before Election Day in 2016, damaged Clinton's candidacy, analysts have said.
  • "You can't do this this close to the election. You can't do this to a candidate," she told her husband, according to Schmidt.
  • "I am screwed no matter what happens. If I disclose this, I'm screwed. If I don't disclose this, I'm screwed," the FBI director told her.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

On October 28, 2016, James Comey made an announcement that shook the 2016 election: The FBI was reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server.

It didn't matter that, on November 6, Comey said the Democratic presidential nominee was in the clear. Following the election, on November 8, his decision was widely blamed as a chief reason she lost her run for president. And since then, the now-former FBI director has been reviled by Democrats who believe he handed the presidential election to Donald Trump.

Patrice Comey, his wife, was one of the people who tried to stop it. She told New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt about her conversations with her husband for his book "Donald Trump v. The United States," excerpted by NBC News on Wednesday.

"You can't do this this close to the election. You can't do this to a candidate," she told her husband, according to Schmidt.

For its investigation, the FBI needed to get a warrant for the laptop of Anthony Weiner, the husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin. To get that warrant, James Comey told his wife, he needed to notify Congress. If not, it would look like the FBI hid elements of the investigation from the Republican-dominated legislative body after pledging transparency.

"What is our relationship with Congress if we're going to lie to them and not say something?" he asked, according to Schmidt.

Comey also told his wife that he didn't believe he had a choice in the matter, she said.

"The alternative is a f---ing disaster," he said, according to Schmidt, adding: "I am screwed no matter what happens. If I disclose this, I'm screwed. If I don't disclose this, I'm screwed. And so it's freeing in a way."

The FBI didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on Wednesday.

In his 2018 book "A Higher Loyalty," Comey defended his decision to tell Congress about the decision to reopen the Clinton investigation but said he regretted not clarifying the circumstances to the public at the time. A representative for Comey didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Jim Comey didn't vote in the 2016 election, believing that doing so would be incompatible with his role as FBI director. Patrice Comey cast her ballot for Clinton, having "waited decades to vote for a woman presidential candidate" and believing "Trump was an existential threat and must never sit in the Oval Office," Schmidt wrote.

"Donald Trump v. The United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President" was published in September.

Expanded Coverage Module: insider-voter-guide
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Nearly 100 IHOP locations will close across the US in the coming months, as the chain's sales slump amid the pandemic

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IHOP All You Can Eat Pancakes 17
IHOP is closing locations.
  • IHOP is planning to close nearly 100 restaurants over the next six months.
  • The chain is reviewing underperforming restaurants, as sales slump during the pandemic. 
  • IHOP's comparable restaurants were down 23.5% in the third quarter, the company reported on Wednesday.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

IHOP is closing restaurants as the breakfast chain struggles to win over customers during the pandemic. 

Dine Brands, the parent company of IHOP and Applebee's, announced on Thursday that it is planning net closures of "less than 100" IHOP locations over the next six months. A representative for the company told Business Insider that the chain will close "just under 100 of our underperforming restaurants." 

"We're confident we will eventually replace these severely under-performing restaurants with better-performing restaurants," IHOP president Jay Johns said on a call with investors on Wednesday.

Read more: Burger King is taking a page out of McDonald's playbook, with Amazon-esque drive-thrus that can predict what you want to order

The closures are part of the company's evaluation of the viability of underperforming restaurants among IHOP's 1,683 locations. Sixteen IHOP locations closed during the most recent quarter, with 35 restaurants closing so far in 2020. 

IHOP's comparable restaurants were down 23.5% in the third quarter, the company reported on Wednesday. Dine Brands emphasized this was an improvement for the chain, where comparable sales fell 40.4% in the second quarter. 

"The brand's performance continued to be impacted by the effects of governmental mandated restrictions on dining room operations and soft traffic across day parts, as consumers continue to mainly work from home," Johns said. "I'd like to highlight that the overall breakfast category in general remains challenged, as the morning meal has been oftentimes replaced at home, due to the diminished work transit." 

With most dining rooms closed or operating at a limited capacity for much of the quarter, it was difficult for IHOP's sales to reach pre-pandemic levels. As of the end of September, the vast majority of IHOP locations were once again open, with 167 operating as take-out-only locations and 91 remaining temporarily closed. 

Chains have closed hundreds of locations amid the pandemic

"Closures are part of the normal course of business in the industry, especially for a company of our size and footprint, and occur for many reasons – including a restaurant being in a lapsed trade area – where once vibrant traffic characteristics are no longer present – or as a result of leases expiring, among other reasons," a Dine Brands representative said in a statement.

"These closures will allow us to remain focused on continuing to close the gap on sales, as well as focus on key priorities including expanding off-premise, ensuring restaurant safety and providing compelling value and innovation," the statement continued. 

Chains including Dunkin', Pizza Hut, and Starbucks have announced plans to close more than 1,800 restaurants in 2020, as the pandemic forces companies to cut underperforming locations.

Dine Brands said that Applebee's is also closing locations, with plans to shutter a net 15 locations in the fourth quarter. Applebee's closed 20 locations in the US in the last quarter, with 52 restaurants closing so far across the nation in 2020. 

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Genesis already makes terrific cars — now it just has to win US buyers away from Mercedes and BMW

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2021 Genesis GV80_OEM_14
The GV80 is the first SUV from Genesis.
  • Genesis is still a relatively new luxury brand and suffers from a lack of brand recognition, despite producing cars of stellar quality.
  • After reviewing the GV80 luxury SUV, Business Insider sat down with Genesis CEO of North America, Mark Del Rosso to learn more about the brand's progress.
  • The GV80 might be Genesis' first SUV, but Del Rosso said that the company is "filling out the lineup."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Genesis has an unusual problem. 

In the various times I've gotten behind the wheel of one of its cars, I've always been blown away by the quality. G70, G80, G90, GV80 — it didn't matter. Each boasted a serene interior, good power, a comfortable ride, and responsive light-footedness. Most offered more car per dollar than what you'd get from a European competitor. 

So, Genesis has the product side of the business on lock.

Playing catch-up

The problem is that Genesis is still quite new. Most people don't know about it. Five years ago, South Korean automaker Hyundai created the new luxury arm by spinning off its Genesis nameplate. It wasn't an all-new name because before that, the name applied to a Hyundai sports coupe and also an executive sedan. So the branding was, understandably, a little bit confusing. 

Genesis G80
The all-new G80 is an executive sedan.

But there's plenty of room for growth. The Korea Herald reported earlier this month that South Korean automakers Kia and Hyundai accounted for 8.9% of the US passenger car market from this past March to August. That's a sliver of the market compared to, say, Toyota, which by itself took home 14% of the US market in 2019.

Last year, Genesis sold 21,233 cars, according to CarSalesBase. That accounted for a mere 0.12% of the US car market share. Acura, a competitor, sold 157,385 cars. Needless to say, there's some catching up to do.

Investing in quality products

The first step toward that was offering well-made sedans. With this, Genesis didn't go the shouty route by buying up expensive ads and splashy hashtags. It focused on authentic credibility, rolling out products that stood on their own without the smoke and mirrors of an advertising campaign.

When I sat down with Manfred Fitzgerald in 2017, the then-head of the Genesis brand, he said that brand recognition was "still a work in progress."

Genesis G80_1
As with all current Genesis models, the G80 has a gorgeous interior.
"There's no shortcut to that," Fitzgerald told me. "There's nothing that I would try to rush by any means, but what I will say that with today's technology, I think if you can get it right and if you are authentic and credible and not trying to play somebody, I think you can accelerate the whole process of creating brand awareness.

"For us, it is so important to be credible and credibility delivers the core message to the customer," he said. 

Three years on, I circled back for a temperature check with Mark Del Rosso, who was named CEO of Genesis North America last October. What's changed between 2017 and now? And what new lessons has Genesis learned in the interim?

The quiet devotion to quality has certainly paid off. Del Rosso extensively touted the awards Genesis has since won with J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. And he doubled down on the company's stance on producing three sedans ahead of the GV80, Genesis' first SUV — despite the bigger rides selling in greater numbers in the US market

Sedan sales, Del Rosso said, were strong enough that the company was able to justify production of the G80, G90, and G70 before the GV80. 

Genesis G70
The G70 is the brand's smallest and most athletic offering, competing with the BMW 3-Series.
"Building a strong foundation was absolutely the right step with sedans," he said. "Now, with the launch of our flagship SUV, the GV80,  it opens up a market opportunity to connect with a whole new audience." 

He went on, "We're filling out the lineup and we're not done yet. We are a benchmark when it comes down to dependability, quality, and safety."

Ostensibly, there are more SUVs coming, though nothing's been confirmed yet beyond the GV70. By the end of 2021, however, Del Rosso said to expect the first battery-electric car from the brand.

Products that make a statement

Del Rosso was understandably coy when asked about Genesis' position among competitors. He used terms such as being a "customer-focused company," "cache over cash," and "building advocacy" — but I couldn't really fault him for it. And he's likely right to think that building up a new brand takes time.

Genesis builds extremely solid cars, there's no question about that. Driving one — or even seeing one — gives you a sense of being "in the know." A sense that you're aware that something better exists outside the realm of mindlessly buying a Mercedes or BMW just like everyone else  and calling it a day.  But it's not like you can bottle that feeling and sell it. 

2021 Genesis GV80_OEM_9
It will take some time before the winged Genesis logo will be a familiar sight to many.
Brand recognition still seems like a "work in progress," as Fitzgerald said in 2017. The best Genesis can do right now is keep doing what it's doing and hope that the buyers will come. Already, Del Rosso said there are 21,000 customer reservations on the GV80. Reservations don't always translate to sales, but it's a good first effort.

Hopefully, if we check back with Genesis in another three years, it will have moved the needle a bit more, and earned more of a market share from established luxury titans from Europe and Japan. 

The Genesis trajectory is one that's defined by putting out an excellent product that can speak for itself. And when the product already speaks for itself, there's really not much else to say about it. Now, it's down to seeing if the buyers will go for it. 

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Amazon's new Echo packs powerful sound and smarter features into a $100 speaker, signaling a big upgrade for the company's popular smart home device

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Amazon Echo 4th gen
The fourth-generation Amazon Echo
  • Amazon's new Echo comes with a variety of improvements, such as upgraded sound, a new spherical design, an integrated smart home hub, and a new Amazon-made processor.
  • The boost in sound quality is a big step up from the third-generation Echo, as the fourth-generation model can pump out tunes that are louder and more open than its predecessor.
  • The updated design also makes the new Echo fit more elegantly into your home decor, although it doesn't come in as many colors as Google's Nest Audio.
  • Overall, the new Echo feels like what Amazon has been working toward for years — an Echo that doesn't make major compromises when it comes to sound quality or smart home functionality.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

It's 2020, and Amazon's popular Echo speaker is getting a makeover.

Nearly six years after Amazon quietly unveiled the original Echo, the company has completely changed the speaker's look, marking a big departure from the glowing cylinder that we've come to associate with the Echo since late 2014.

But the new Echo is far more than just a cosmetic upgrade. Amazon's latest entrant to the smart speaker space also features a boost in sound quality, its own dedicated Amazon-designed processor that should make Alexa more responsive, and other extras, like a temperature sensor and a built-in smart home hub.

Taken together, the improvements represent the most significant upgrade to the standard Echo we've seen in years, helping it stand out in Amazon's lineup. It's a much more notable update than last year's third-generation Echo, which didn't add much to the speaker other than improved sound quality.

But the new Echo is also launching at a time when Google and Apple are investing more heavily in their own smart home speaker line. Just days after Amazon unveiled the new Echo, Google introduced its $100 Nest Audio. Apple, meanwhile, announced a smaller and less expensive version of its HomePod smart speaker for $100 called the HomePod Mini.

Here's a closer look at what it's been like to use the new Echo.

Amazon Echo 2020 specifications

  • Dimensions: 5.7 inches x 5.7 inches x 5.2 inches
  • Weight: 34.2 ounces
  • Colors: Charcoal, white, and blue
  • Processor: Amazon Az1
  • Speaker: 3-inch woofer and dual 0.8-inch front-facing tweeters
  • Input/output: 3.5mm line in/out
  • Other features: Integrated smart home hub, temperature sensor

Design

New Amazon Echo vs. Old
The third-generation Amazon Echo (left) vs. the new Amazon Echo (right)

To say the new Amazon Echo looks different than its predecessor would be an understatement. Gone is the cylindrical shape that's been a hallmark of the smart speaker series so far. Instead, the new Echo takes the form of a compact, fabric-laden orb that glows at its base when Alexa is listening.

The new Echo looks less like a traditional speaker than its predecessor, and that's a good thing. It has more of a standout look that differentiates it from rivals, like the Nest Audio, and the spherical shape enables it to fit more naturally into my home decor. The placement of the glowing ring at the bottom of the speaker rather than at the top also feels less distracting.

But unlike the Nest Audio, which comes in black, white, green, pink, and blue, the Echo is only available in three colors: charcoal, white, and blue. For a device that most people will be prominently displaying in the living room or kitchen, it would have been nice to see a broader range of color options like those offered by Google.

Sound quality

Amazon Echo Top
The new Amazon Echo

Amazon's new Echo has received a big boost when it comes to its most important job: serving as a home speaker. Amazon says its new speaker can now detect the acoustics of the room it's in and adjust the audio accordingly, just like the $200 Echo Studio.

The new shape also gives the Echo better sound projection and richer bass thanks to its surface area to volume ratio, the company says.

The upgrade is certainly noticeable when compared alongside the third-generation Echo. Across the board, music sounds louder and much more open and full-bodied compared to its predecessor, with better bass as well.

The older Echo sounds a bit shallow in comparison, and isn't able to fill the room with audio nearly as well as its successor. This is true whether I listen to pop, rock, or hip-hop on the new Echo.

It's not quite as loud and clear as the $200 Sonos One, but it certainly comes a lot closer than the standard Echo ever has before.

Smart home hub

Phillips Hue Smart Lighting
Philips Hue light bulbs and connectivity bridges

If controlling smart home devices is one of the primary reasons you're interested in Amazon's smart speaker, the new Echo will feel like a step up.

Amazon has built a smart home hub into the device much like it did with the Echo Plus speaker it introduced in 2017. That means you can quickly set up devices that use Bluetooth low energy or the ZigBee protocol — one of the major protocols that allows smart home devices to communicate with one another — without requiring a separate hub or bridge. It will also support Amazon's Sidewalk platform later this year.

Getting a Philips Hue light bulb up and running with the new Echo requires virtually no set up since it's compatible with Zigbee. I simply screwed the light bulb into my bedroom lamp and asked Alexa to discover new devices.

After a few short moments, Alexa confirmed that my Echo had discovered the new light and added it to the "My devices" section of the Alexa app.

The third-generation Echo, on the other hand, requires a bridge in order to connect to the same Philips Hue light bulb. The Echo also has a leg up over Google in this regard since Google devices don't offer voice setup for smart home devices and require you to connect through the company's app.

Other features

Amazon Echo New

The Echo series may be nearly six years old, but Amazon is only just introducing its own custom processor for its smart speaker line. Amazon's new AZ1 processor promises to make Alexa faster and more responsive when processing requests. This functionality, however, won't be available until later this year.

The new Echo also comes with another unexpected addition: a temperature sensor. This makes it possible to not only ask Alexa for the weather outside, but also the temperature indoors.

For many, the decision to side with an Echo device or Google Nest device will largely depend on what ecosystem best suits your needs.

Amazon's Alexa and the Google Assistant can both handle many of the same tasks, but also offer their respective perks. Alexa, for example, supports a wider variety of smart home devices, as the company says there are more than 140,000 gadgets that work with Alexa. Google, on the other hand, supports more than 50,000 internet-of-things devices.

Alexa also has some extra skills, including the ability to detect sounds, like breaking glass and alarms, when you're not home. Google requires a Nest Aware subscription for this, whereas Amazon offers these features as part of the free tier of its Alexa Guard service. And of course, Alexa makes it incredibly easy to shop on Amazon via your voice.

The Google Assistant, however, has generally performed better when it comes to answering general knowledge questions, which should come as no surprise considering it has the world's most popular search engine at its disposal.

In a test conducted by Loup Ventures last year that involved asking the Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa, and Apple's Siri 800 questions, Google answered 93% of those queries correctly. Alexa answered 80% of them correctly while Siri correctly responded to 83%.

Google's smart speakers also have extra features, like an interpreter mode that translates full conversations into another language, which is more sophisticated than Alexa's ability to translate individual phrases and words.

Privacy

Amazon Echo Light

Privacy is also crucial for a microphone-equipped device meant to sit in your living room or bedroom. Amazon, Google, and Apple have all come under scrutiny in the past over their previous policies when it comes to sharing saved recordings with human annotators for the purposes of improving their voice assistants.

Both the new Echo and Google's Nest Audio include a physical button for turning off the microphone. 

But unlike Google and Apple, you must opt out if you don't want your voice recordings to be used by Amazon to help improve Alexa's functionality. You can do this from the Alexa app under the Alexa Privacy section in the settings menu.

Google doesn't retain audio by default, and announced last September that users would have to opt in to a setting that enables the search giant to share recordings with human reviewers to improve the Google Assistant.

That said, both Amazon and Google have announced privacy updates over the course of the past year. Amazon now allows you to choose to automatically delete your voice recordings after Alexa has processed your request.

You can also delete all of your previously saved voice recordings just by asking Alexa, or you can ask Alexa to send you a link to privacy settings for your device in the Alexa app.

Google also launched new features earlier this year for telling its voice assistant to forget an utterance that was detected by accident and asking the Google Assistant for more information about Google's data collection policies.

Google recently announced a Guest Mode for the Google Assistant as well, which, like Incognito Mode, prevents Google from saving queries to your account or offering personalized responses.

The bottom line

Amazon Echo New

With improved sound, a sleek new design, and a built-in hub for setting up smart home devices, the new Echo feels like a significant upgrade for Amazon's smart speaker.

The standard Echo model has inherited some features from its more premium predecessors, such as the $200 Echo Studio's ability to adjust audio to match a room's acoustics, and the integrated smart home hub that debuted on the $150 Echo Plus from 2017.

As a result, the new Echo feels like the right balance of quality audio and convenience for most people in need of a basic smart home speaker that's not quite as high-end as the Studio, but more powerful than the $50 Echo Dot.

That could make it more difficult for rivals, like Apple and Sonos, that specialize in offering superior sound quality to compete with Amazon's latest Echo. It also feels like an execution of the vision that Amazon has been working toward for a while when it comes to the Echo: a home speaker that doesn't make big compromises when it comes to audio quality or smart home features. 

If you have a third-generation Echo, you probably don't need to upgrade immediately. But if you have an older model or were thinking about purchasing a second Echo anyway, you'll certainly appreciate the upgrades.

Pros: Improved sound, attractive new design, built-in smart home hub makes it easy to set up devices

Cons: Not as much choice when it comes to color selection compared to Google, Amazon still saves and uses your voice recordings by default

 

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How the deployment of the Army's brand-new training unit became a headache for one of the US's closest allies

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Army 82nd Airborne Colombia assault exercise
A US 82nd Airborne Division soldier during an exercise at Tolemaida Air Base in central Colombia, January 26, 2020.
  • The deployment of the US Army's 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade was touted by both the US and Colombia as a milestone and a sign of strong bilateral relations.
  • But the otherwise normal deployment sparked political backlash in Colombia, and in the months since, the Army has been less vocal about the new unit's whereabouts.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US and Colombia touted the deployment of the Army's new advisor unit in June but have been much quieter after the otherwise normal mission sparked political backlash in Colombia.

The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade's rotation was its first in Latin America and "reaffirm[ed]" US commitment to Colombia, the US's "best ally and friend in the region," the US Embassy there said in late May.

But the fanfare that greeted the roughly 50 soldiers, who joined Colombian troops after a two-week quarantine, concerned Colombian lawmakers.

"Usually these trainers, they come to Colombia and leave Colombia. It shouldn't be a big deal, but procedurally, it's expected that the executive ask for consent from the Congress," said Sergio Guzmán, director of Colombia Risk Analysis, a political risk consulting firm in Bogotá.

"Because the government made a huge deal ... members of the Senate were like, 'Huh? Were we consulted for this?'" Guzmán told Insider. "They checked the paperwork — no, they hadn't been."

Donald Trump Ivan Duque Colombia UN General Assembly
President Donald Trump and Colombian President Ivan Duque at the UN General Assembly in New York City, September 25, 2018.

For Presidents Ivan Duque and Donald Trump the deployment was a chance to highlight their countries' ties and send a message to Venezuela, a mutual foe. It was also a military milestone for the US, which sees SFABs as a way to build relationships around the world.

In early July, however, a Colombian judge ordered the US trainers to halt their operations in response to a complaint from opposition senators.

"Their pretext was the Constitution says that the Senate has to approve any transit of foreign troops," said Adam Isacson, director for defense oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America, a research and advocacy group.

"The result was this big back and forth, in the courts and elsewhere, between the Defense Ministry and the opposition about whether this was a 'transit of troops' or whether it was ... this non-operational presence of trainers that is covered by agreements going back in 1974," Isacson told Insider.

In late August, Colombian Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said advisors resumed work on July 20, after the government complied with the court's requests.

Col. Kimeisha McCullum, director of public affairs for US Army South, told Insider on Wednesday that training and exchanges "were halted until Colombian government gave ... the green light to continue."

But senators disputed Trujillo's claim that they gave authorization and moved to hold a no-confidence vote for the minister this month. The Senate's president blocked that vote, a move decried by the opposition.

"If the government had the votes to overcome this vote of no confidence, they should have just gone ahead with it. But instead, they decided to upend the whole congressional order to dismiss this motion," Guzmán said.

Internal dynamics

Army Security Force Assistance brigade
Members of the Army's 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade return to the US from Colombia, October 2020.

US advisors left Colombia on October 1, Isacson said, citing Defense Ministry documents. On Wednesday, McCullum said "SFAB personnel rotated as planned" in early October.

At a media event on October 13, Col. Thomas Hough, commander of 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, said he recently returned from Colombia, where he'd spent "the last week and a half or so," but didn't mention the advisors' departure.

"There was a moment there where our host nation did ask us to pause for a bit as they were working internally with some political issues," Hough said. "After a couple weeks, they ... said, 'Look, we want you to reengage with our forces.' And so we've been out for the last couple months advising them."

On October 14, the 1st SFAB announced on Facebook that its advisors returned the previous week.

Security Force Assistance Command spokesperson Maj. Christina Wright said the return wasn't mentioned at the October 13 event because officials present weren't asked about it. "If the topic was brought up we would have addressed it," Wright said.

Asked at the October 13 event about lessons from recent deployments, Brig. Gen. Scott Jackson, commander of 1st Security Force Assistance Command, said "things have worked out great" but noted that "the political stand down" in Colombia was "something we didn't predict."

"But we obviously learned from it, about understanding the internal dynamics inside of a partner force country before we can proceed," Jackson added.

The Colombian Defense Ministry has said another group of about 50 advisors will deploy there, but it's not clear when, Isacson said, citing the documents. At least one Colombian outlet has reported that they're already there.

Demonstrators take part in a protest against the government of Colombia's President Ivan Duque, in Bogota, Colombia, January 21, 2020. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez
Demonstrators protest Colombian President Ivan Duque's government, in Bogota, January 21, 2020.

Guzmán and Isacson said the backlash was about Colombian politics more than the US.

"They had paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne in Tolima in January, and nobody seemed to care," Isacson said. "But for some reason this one really struck a chord."

Colombia's government "grew cocky," Guzmán said. "They didn't follow the book ... and this came to kick them in the butt."

Trujillo now faces another no-confidence vote. The minister is also a frontrunner for the governing party's presidential nomination in 2022. "This extra attention doesn't really help" Trujillo, Guzmán said. "The opposition is going to try to hammer this home."

Colombia's security policies, and US involvement in them, have faced increasing scrutiny, however, suggesting the political left there is growing more vocal after a 2016 peace deal allowing left-wing rebels to demobilize, according to Toby Muse, who has reported on Colombia for much of the past 20 years.

"I do think there is this kind of natural balance emerging in Colombia, to have the right wing, which is more open to having to [US] troops there, and to have a left wing, which is more skeptical," Muse told Insider.

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Twitter's moderation policies are in place to protect the integrity of US elections, Jack Dorsey says

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Jack Dorsey
  • Jack Dorsey told lawmakers during Senate hearing Wednesday that Twitter's "moderation policies are to protect the conversations and the integrity of the conversations around the elections."
  • Dorsey denied multiple times during the hearing that Twitter has the power to influence elections. 
  • Twitter's rules state that users cannot "use Twitter's services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes."
  • Twitter has recently changed some features on the platform to limit the spread of misinformation, and has removed fake political accounts.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

After Sen. Ron Johnson during a Senate hearing Wednesday took aim at "censorship" on Twitter, CEO Jack Dorsey quickly defended his company's policies around flagging or removing content. 

"Our current moderation policies are to protect the conversations and the integrity of the conversations around the elections," Dorsey said. 

Twitter's rules state that users cannot "use Twitter's services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes." The company also bans users from sharing manipulated or synthetic media that "are likely to cause harm."

Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, singled out Twitter's handling of a dubious New York Post story about Joe Biden's son, Hunter. The senator claimed that by preventing the article from being shared on Twitter the company was withholding important information from American voters. 

The Post's story purported to show an email between Hunter and a Ukrainian official about meeting with his father when he was vice president. The story did not clearly indicate how it got the email nor verify its validity, so Twitter banned the post from its site.

Dorsey later apologized for how Twitter handled the story, saying he was "wrong" to ban the URL without providing users with context.

Dorsey denied several times during Wednesday's hearing that Twitter has the ability to influence US elections. But President Donald Trump had said in 2016 he believed Twitter "helped [him] win" races where Hillary Clinton outspent him. And the company discovered more than 50,000 accounts "originating in Russia" that played a role in spreading misinformation during the 2016 election. 

Twitter has since changed some features on the platform, including some specifically to prevent the spread of political misinformation during the 2020 election cycle. The company now prompts users to post a comment on a tweet before retweeting it, and prevents tweets from people users don't follow to appear on their timelines. 

The platform recently removed 130 fake accounts based in Iran that attempted to "disrupt public conversation during the first 2020 US Presidential Debate," and removed fake accounts claiming to be Black Trump supporters after they generated more than 265,000 retweets. 

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Walmart has already announced early Black Friday deals — here's what will be on sale in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving

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IP Black Friday Walmart Deals 4x3

  • Black Friday is coming November 27 and Walmart is one of the best retailers to keep an eye on if you want to save money. This year, shoppers can expect a month-long version of Black Friday.
  • Walmart, like Best Buy and Target, offers big price drops on everything, including the latest TVs, speakers, headphones, laptops, gaming gear, and more during the shopping holiday.
  • We answer your questions before the big day and highlight the best early Black Friday deals below. 
  • We're also keeping tabs on early Black Friday deals you can snag online at Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and more stores. 

In a little less than a month, Black Friday will be here. But retailers like Walmart aren't waiting until then to start marking down products. Online and in stores, Walmart is one of the most popular retailers to shop during Black Friday. This year, you can once again expect great deals on all the products you need for gifting and personal use.

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When does Walmart's Black Friday sale start? 

Walmart, like many retailers, is trying something new for Black Friday 2020 and Cyber Monday 2020. Instead of a weekend of markdowns and deals, Walmart will stagger its offers and introduce new ones every week until Black Friday. Here's the schedule:

  • November 4 at 7 p.m. EST online and in-store on November 7 at 5 a.m. local time. Discounts will focus on toys, electronics, and home products.
  • November 11 at 7 p.m. EST online and in-store on November 14 at 5 a.m. local time. Discounts will primarily be for TVs, smartphones, and tablets.
  • November 25 at 7 p.m. EST online and in-store on Black Friday, November 27 at 5 a.m. local time. This is the official Black Friday date, so we expect to see discounts on most categories.

These sales end the day they are released. So if you miss a deal online, you'll have another opportunity in-store after a couple of days.

How do we select the best Black Friday deals at Walmart?

  • We only choose products that meet our high standard of coverage, from brands we've tested and trust.
  • We compare the prices against other retailers like a.m.azon, Target, and Best Buy and only include the deals that are the sa.m.e or better (not including promotional discounts that come from using certain credit cards).
  • We research price history thoroughly, to ensure that every deal we list is actually worth your time.

Can you shop at Walmart in person this year?

Yes, but don't expect the mad rush during Black Friday like in years past. This year, Walmart will also limit store capacity to just 20% during its Black Friday sales. Plus, there will be safety precautions, including masks for staff and shoppers, plus carts will be sanitized. 

Since Walmart scheduled each set of discounts online a few days in advance, shoppers should consider heading in-store only when they miss a deal.  

Does Walmart have curbside pickup?

Every year around the holiday season, shipping delays and lost packages present a big headache for many consumers. To help alleviate that stress, Walmart offers contact-free curbside pickup for online orders. Going this route can save shoppers from any shipping-related headaches, so you'll have your orders on hand much sooner than if shipped.

What early Black Friday deals should you buy at Walmart?

Historically, Walmart's Black Friday markdowns are on par with those offered by Best Buy, Target, and Amazon — and this year is no different. Outside of a few select doorbusters, we expect each retailer to price-match their competitor's prices during Black Friday.  Shoppers can expect big savings on several TVs, streaming media players, kitchen appliances, and more. 

With their staggered release, shoppers should shop for the deals offered during the aforementioned dates. Here are the best deals Walmart will offer on the first and second week of the sale. We've created links to each of the best products during the sale, but the sale prices won't be live until the listed time.

November 4 at 7 p.m. EST online and in-store on November 7

November 11 at 7 p.m. EST online and in-store on November 14

Read the original article on Business Insider
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