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Why a contempt case against Jeffrey Clark is a much tougher call for Biden's Justice Department compared with Steve Bannon

Jeff Clark, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, September 14, 2020.
Jeffrey Clark. a former top Trump DOJ official, is defying congressional investigations into the January 6 riot at the Capitol.
  • The House is set to refer another Trump ally to DOJ for a contempt-of-Congress prosecution.
  • But the Justice Department is expected to have a more difficult decision in charging Jeffrey Clark.
  • Clark refused to answer lawmakers' questions about Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election.

After going decades without prosecuting anyone for blowing off Congressional investigators, the Justice Department ended its drought by charging Steve Bannon with defying the House committee digging into the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Now, another criminal case looks to be heading their way that presents Attorney General Merrick Garland's Justice Department with a much more difficult decision than the one many legal experts described as a slam-dunk against Bannon.

The next potential culprit is Jeffrey Clark, a senior DOJ aide from the Trump era who advocated for throwing the full weight of the Justice Department behind the lame duck Republican president's baseless claims of election fraud following the 2020 general election.

On Wednesday night, the House select committee investigating January 6 is scheduled to decide whether to hold Clark in contempt of Congress. Absent a last-minute decision by Clark to change course and cooperate, his fate would next go to the entire House of Representatives. A simple majority vote would result in a referral to the US attorney's office in Washington, where prosecutors would determine whether Clark should face charges from the Justice Department where he worked in the Trump and George W. Bush administrations. 

Legal experts told Insider this will be anything but a simple decision — for a number of reasons.

In Bannon's case, the Justice Department weighed a referral from the House that targeted a Trump ally who was not serving in the federal government during the period in question surrounding January 6. 

That makes Bannon's defense claims of executive privilege laughable in the eyes of legal experts familiar with the nuances of his case. He completely blew off a subpoena for testimony before the House panel and never gave lawmakers a chance to pose their individual questions so he could invoke the privilege. 

As for Clark, he has a stronger argument on the privilege front because he served at the Justice Department at the end of the Trump administration. He also made at least a cursory appearance before the House committee in early November to deliver a letter from his lawyer advising lawmakers that he would not answer any of their substantive questions. 

"Bannon's defense is relatively frivolous. The Clark case would be significantly tougher. He was actually inside of the government, which makes the executive privilege claim more challenging. Second, he's a lawyer, which is going to raise difficult attorney-client questions that would further gum up any prosecution," said a former top official in the US attorney's office in Washington, which is handling the Bannon prosecution.

bennie thompson
Rep. Bennie Thompson leads the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Jeffrey Clark 'knows better'

Still, there are a number of factors working against Clark.

For one, there's the letter Trump sent saying he would not try to prevent him from testifying. The Justice Department itself cleared Clark and other former Justice Department leaders to testify. And the Biden administration also has made a decision to broadly waive executive privilege for the purposes of the January 6 investigation and provide lawmakers access to presidential records from the Trump era.

"In some ways, it's easier to hold Clark accountable because he knows better. He knows how it works," said Jonathan Shaub, a University of Kentucky law professor who previously worked in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. "And if the Justice Department has authorized him to testify, he doesn't have any basis for not testifying."

"Of course, he's going to rely on the ambiguities of executive privilege and former President Trump, but he's sort of bootstrapping himself onto these claims Trump is making for others, because Trump doesn't seem to be making them for him," Shaub added. "He's kind of cut him loose."

Jeff Rosen DOJ
Former acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen has already testified about Trump's efforts to pressure DOJ.

Rosen and Donoghue already testified

Further undercutting Clark's privilege defense is the cooperation of two other Trump-appointed Justice Department leaders: former acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen and his one-time deputy, Richard Donoghue. 

Both men have already testified extensively before both the House panel investigating January 6 and a separate Senate Judiciary Committee probe into the violent and deadly transition period between the Trump and Biden presidencies. 

In closed-door interviews, both men detailed how they and other Justice Department leaders pushed back against Clark's effort to contest the 2020 election results in multiple states. Clark at one point agreed to replace Rosen as acting attorney general, but Trump backed down from elevating him after other Justice Department leaders threatened to resign in protest.

Headed into Wednesday's House committee contempt vote, Clark has separated himself from his former Justice Department superiors by avoiding lawmakers questions entirely. And now he's in a precarious legal position where a referral for criminal prosecution signals lawmakers no longer are willing to hold out for testimony that was expected to largely track with Rosen and Donoghue.

"If anybody should know better, it's this guy," said Rizwan Qureshi, a partner at the law firm Reed Smith and former prosecutor in the US attorney's office in Washington. "He's a lawyer. He understands the importance of appearing and responding to a subpoena." 

Mark Meadows
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has agreed to cooperate with the House January 6 committee.

Tough optics for DOJ

Clark still has time to change course too and cooperate — and recent developments could nudge him in that direction.

Trump's former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, signaled on Tuesday he would rather avoid a potential contempt referral by agreeing to appear for an initial interview and turn over documents to the same House committee that wants to question Clark.

Also, the House committee's scheduled vote to hold Clark in contempt comes just a day after arguments in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit where lawyers for Trump encountered a skeptical three-judge panel that didn't seem very impressed with their arguments aimed at preventing the House committee from obtaining records from the past administration. 

While Trump's lawyers have said they'd appeal a loss on the records case to the Supreme Court, it is anything but clear the nation's top court would agree to hear their arguments, let alone side in the former president's favor.

So Clark could still engage further with the House committee and negotiate a solution. Even after the committee's vote, Clark could stave off a criminal referral to the Justice Department by agreeing to cooperate before the full House decides whether to hold him in contempt.

Any cooperation on Clark's part could spare the Justice Department a vexing decision and potential awkwardness of prosecuting a former official over conduct connected to his time in government.

"The optics are going to be harder for the Justice Department to swallow in some ways. For the institutional interests, you would hope the Justice Department would be in a position of prosecuting former officials," Shaub said. "But, of course, if Justice Department officials engage in wrongdoing or criminal acts, part of the Justice Department's responsibility is to prosecute them."

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When being a college law professor feels like living under a 'Red Scare' at a time of critical race theory disinformation

Critical Race Theory protests
Protesters and activists stand outside a Loudoun County Public Schools board meeting in Ashburn, Virginia on October 12, 2021. -
  • A raft of bills restricting teaching on race and gender are emerging in state legislatures.
  • The movement is raising concerns about a "chilling effect" on educators.
  • One critical race theory professor likened it to a Red Scare.

Tanya Katerí Hernández feels fortunate to be a tenured professor at Fordham University School of Law, a private Catholic institution in New York City that she said supports her teaching on critical race theory.

But she told Insider she worries about what might happen if, for instance, her family needed her to move to another state where the laws involving her expertise are becoming hostile. She questions whether she could teach what she sees as the most important issues for her students to learn elsewhere without being fired. 

"That is sort of like living under a Red Scare, almost," she said, a reference to the McCarthy-era, Cold War hysteria when accusations of communist sympathies could end careers. "That's the closest that I can conceptualize it as."

Hernández warns others entering the profession that they could be vulnerable, too.

The topic of critical race theory — a college-level study of racial bias in US laws — has become contentious both for K-12 schools, where educators say it isn't taught, and for universities where it has been taught for decades. The academic theory has become a catchall for teaching about race, equity and diversity. Conservatives argue it divides people into groups of oppressors and victims. The conservative Legal Insurrection Foundation launched criticalrace.org to track CRT training at colleges and universities.

This year, 54 bills have been introduced in 24 state legislatures to restrict teaching and training in schools, higher education and state agencies and institutions, according to a new study by PEN America, a literary and human rights organization. Most bills target discussions of race, gender, US history and banning "prohibited" or "divisive" concepts. By October 1, 11 had become law in nine states: Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee and Texas.

Some of the laws are vague, Hernández said, and worded in a way in which you're not sure what it captures. "There's lots of discretion for any kind of interpretation," she said, "And that's certainly not a comfortable space for an educator to be trying to do their job in."

Tanya Katerí Hernández
Tanya Katerí Hernández teaches critical race theory at Fordham University School of Law in New York City.

'Completely untrue'

Legislation considered "anti-CRT" isn't principally intended to prohibit the study of CRT, but a broader set of ideas at schools and universities, the PEN America study says. "In short: They are educational gag orders," the study says.

The laws are already having an effect. Oklahoma City Community College suspended a course on race and ethnicity. Iowa State University professors received guidance on how to avoid "drawing scrutiny" for their teaching. A Texas K-12 administrator told teachers to balance Holocaust books with an "opposing" perspective.

At the University of Florida, an associate professor filed a grievance alleging he was threatened with discipline if he used "critical race" in his curriculum and program design, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The National Education Association, which represents teachers and higher education faculty, is offering state-specific guidance to make sure educators know what the laws mean for their work. The union says the laws shouldn't undermine efforts to ensure all students "feel seen in the classroom and benefit from culturally-inclusive curricula and pedagogical tools that teach the historical facts about our country."

In her advanced critical race theory course this semester, Hernández said the CRT controversy has been "the shadow lurking over a lot of the conversation." Many of the students find it a valuable analytical frame for approaching legal topics like voting rights or employment, but they're seeing a "constant onslaught in the news" about critical race theory.

For some students, the attacks are proof of the value of what they're learning. Others are "almost sort of fearful," questioning whether they can talk about it publicly or write about it in op-eds. "It's very chilling," she said.  

She has advised students exploring career paths in this space that they will be vulnerable in areas in the country where "censorship gag orders" have gained traction in state legislatures.

Hernández, who is working on her third book in a series on racial discrimination and the civil rights struggle, has taught critical race theory for 25 years and she grew accustomed to blank stares from people when she explained her work because they didn't know the term.

Now that people have heard about it in the news or on Saturday Night Live, she said, they are either curious or misinformed. "They think it's part of an anti-whiteness mode of analysis or a racial hate platform," she said, adding that that's "completely untrue."

She describes it as an analysis of legal jurisprudence that examines how advances in civil rights laws were undermined and have in many ways led to disenchantment with a colorblind approach to dealing with racism. "It's a very specific framework for looking at law and the way in which it's deployed in society and how to better reform it," she said. 

While K-12 teachers may teach that Jim Crow laws existed to enforce racial segregation in the South after the Civil War, CRT looks at how obstruction to racial inclusion continues after Jim Crow laws ended, she said. "It looks at patterns and it looks at continuing legacies," she said.

It's not coincidental, she said, that political operatives are funding attacks on critical race theory now after the murder of the Black man George Floyd by white police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis and the ensuing protests. The misinformation campaign is working well, she said, because it taps into racial anxiety and discomfort.

Claims that teaching CRT is "unpatriotic" are "ironic," she said. Teaching students "the truth" about history and how to ask questions about making things better is "actually the most patriotic thing that one could do," she said.

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Conservatives are threatening a government shutdown in 2 days to nix funding for Biden's vaccine mandate — which isn't even in effect yet

mtg vaccine holocaust comparison
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
  • The GOP is threatening to shut down the government to block funding for federal agencies implementing Biden's vaccine and testing mandates.
  • But the mandate hasn't taken effect yet and has even been stayed by federal courts.
  • Conservatives appear to be angling for a "symbolic win," a conservative expert said.

Congress is inching closer to a government shutdown in two days as conservative lawmakers threaten to oppose a short-term funding bill over President Joe Biden's vaccine and testing mandate for large employers.

There's just one problem with their combative approach: the directive hasn't taken effect yet and it will likely be tied up in courts for a while.

A group of 11 Senate Republicans that include Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah are threatening to hold up swift passage of a short-term government funding bill (known as a continuing resolution), something that requires the consent of all 100 senators in the upper chamber. It's thrown a huge wrench in bipartisan talks to extend funding into either January or February 2022.

It mirrors earlier demands from conservative hardliners like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Chip Roy of Texas to shut down the government if new spending legislation doesn't strip out funding for the mandate. Failure to pass a funding bill means the government closes its doors after 11:59 pm on Friday.

The vaccine and testing mandates are reviled among many Republican lawmakers, who view it as a case of gross federal overreach and tried repeatedly to eliminate it. Biden issued it in September as cases from the Delta variant surged, mandating private employers with 100 workers or more to require shots or set up regular testing in workplaces. It was supposed to take effect in January, but GOP officials in 23 states sued to prevent the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from carrying it out. A federal court blocked the measure in early November.

Judi Conti, the government affairs director at the National Employment Law Project, said it would probably take several more weeks for the case to travel through federal courts.

"Anybody who was planning to try to shut the government down over a mandate that isn't even going to take effect yet — because it's tied up in the courts — is getting ready to inflict an awful lot of cruelty on federal employees and contractors across the country for absolutely no reason," Conti said in an interview.

She added that a government shutdown would threaten to jeopardize the flow of paychecks to federal workers. They'd eventually get back pay, but some could struggle to cover day-to-day expenses like groceries and rent during a shutdown.  For contractors like janitors, it's a different story: Conti says many employees , often low-paid, could lose out on their wages entirely.

Conservatives appear to be angling for a "symbolic win," according to Philip Wallach, a regulatory expert and senior fellow at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute.

"It makes sense in as much it's something that their base constituents care a lot about and something they think is weak given the court rulings so far," Wallach told Insider. "The CR is their point of maximum leverage right now."

Other Republicans aren't sold on the approach from the conservative hardliners.  "I just don't quite understand the strategy or the play of leverage for a mandate that's been stayed by 10 courts," Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota told reporters.

With few signs of the feud being resolved on Wednesday, Republican leaders tried projecting confidence that the government ultimately wouldn't shut down. "I think we're going to be okay," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Friday.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best gaming keyboards for every budget in 2021


Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Best Gaming Keyboard in 2021: including Corsair K65 RGB Mini, Razer Huntsman V2 Analog and  Corsair K100 RGB
  • Gaming keyboards can make or break your game, so we rounded up the best for you to choose from.
  • The best gaming keyboard overall is the Corsair K100 RGB, combining sheer performance with a deep feature set.
  • We've picked out the best mechanical, optical, and mini keyboards too, meeting every PC gamer's need.

Choosing an excellent keyboard that meets your gaming demands isn't as easy as you may think. There are a lot of them out there to sift through, from big-name offerings to bargain-basement alternatives you'll only find on Amazon. That's not to mention the different types and sizes you must choose from. You have your work cut out for you, especially if you don't already know the kind of keyboard you need.

Luckily, we are here to help you narrow down your choices. The final decision is still yours, but we'll make it easier by testing them ourselves and highlighting the best gaming keyboards we found on this list. We've also included a short yet detailed guide to choosing the right gaming keyboard just below to help you figure out exactly the kind of keyboard that's best for the kinds of games you play.

Just looking for something cheap in general? Cyber Monday deals are still ongoing. Models from Razer's BlackWidow and Logitech G's Lightspeed lines have seen deep discounts in the past. 

You should be able to find a premium gaming keyboard that's within your budget this year. In the days leading up to these sales events, we'll help you do just that. In the meantime, be sure to check out our top picks for every need and even budget. Whether you hit that buy button now or are here to window-shop so you know what you want when Black Friday and Cyber Monday arrive, you'll find something that's a perfect fit.

Here are the best gaming keyboards of 2021

The best Cyber Monday deals on gaming keyboards from this guide

A decent and comfortable gaming keyboard is crucial to any PC gaming setup. Gaming peripherals generally don't go on sale much outside of specific events, namely ongoing Cyber Monday deals.

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Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.

Best gaming keyboard overall
The Corsair K100 RGB is the best gaming keyboard overall for its combination of performance, features, and build.
The Corsair K100 RGB is the best gaming keyboard overall for its combination of performance, features, and build.

If you're looking for a premium experience, the Corsair K100 RGB brings sheer performance that is only surpassed by its feature set.

Pros: Solid construction, top-notch performance, a host of great features

Cons: More expensive than most, takes up space, bulkier than others

Competitive gamers want the best, and the Corsair K100 RGB is the best. But, even if you're more about getting the most features for your money, this gaming keyboard is also a win. 

We've used it on games like Marvel Avengers, Death Stranding, and Cyberpunk 2077 – and it really delivers on performance. Touting Corsair's impressive OPX switches and Axon Hyper-Processing technology, it boasts a 4,000 polling rate, 1 millimeter (mm) actuation point, and the N-key rollover with anti-ghosting. That means that it's as fast as it is responsive, which matters in games where every fraction of a second and every key press count. 

The Corsair K100 RGB is also one of the most robust and premium feeling gaming keyboards we've ever tested. You just know it's going to survive years of button-mashing and pounding, as well as resist everyday wear and tear, swimmingly while staying elegant-looking and comfortable to use. 

What gives the Corsair K100 RGB even more value, however, is its host of incredible features. Corsair really took advantage of its sizable footprint by stuffing it with a whole bunch of useful features. 

There are extra media keys and six dedicated macro keys on top of its already fully-programmable design. There's also a very accessible control dial that lets you cycle through five different functions and adjust their settings.

Passthrough charging via its USB port allows you to attach another device to your rig. And, its RGB lighting is also grouped into 44 zones, so you can get as creative as you'd like without spending too much time on customizations.

To really make it worth your money, Corsair also gave it an 8MB onboard memory so you can create up to 200 key remap, macro and RGB lighting profiles that you can take with you.

Originally $229.99 | Save 17%

Best mechanical gaming keyboard
Delivering excellent value, the Razer BlackWidow V3 is deserving of the best mechanical gaming keyboard title.
Delivering excellent value, the Razer BlackWidow V3 is deserving of the best mechanical gaming keyboard title.

Touting premium features without the premium price, the Razer BlackWidow V3 is a terrific and affordably priced mechanical keyboard.

Pros: Great value, solid build, a whole lot of customization options

Cons: Sizable form factor, wrist rest is not comfortable, minimal keycap curvature

If there's one thing the Razer BlackWidow V3 proves, it's that those features we don't pay much attention to really do matter. The minimal curvature in its keycaps and lack of foam on its wrist rest make this keyboard an adjustment to use, especially if you're upgrading from something that keeps your fingers and wrist resting nice and comfortable.

Still, this full-sized keyboard is much-lauded and for good reason. Those green or yellow mechanical switches are not only very precise and solid with a rating of 80 million keystrokes, but they're also extremely satisfying to use. In fact, we love typing on this keyboard as much as we love gaming on it. Of course, it's in gaming where it really shines, boasting a 1,000Hz polling rate and N-key rollover that allows its performance to be as responsive and accurate as its pricier rivals. 

There aren't as many features here, sadly, with Razer putting its focus on making it among the best mechanical keyboards out there. However, it's not bare-bones either – at that price, it better not be. You're getting onboard memory for up to five profiles, a multifunction media button, a multifunction roller wheel, and a handy cable routing solution in the back.

Plus, as much as this keyboard belongs in the entry-level category of gaming keyboards due to its more stripped-down approach, it still has a robust set of customization options to match its excellent performance. Via the Razer Synapse software, you can personalize its RGB lighting (though not per-key), program per-key remaps and macros, and take full advantage of Razer's Hypershift feature that basically gives you a whole new set of shortcuts and key reassignments.

Razer then rounds those out with the BlackWidow V3's keycaps and matte aluminum body, both of which feel like they can take their share of beating. Speaking of those keycaps, they're labeled using a doubleshot molding process, which means you'll never wear those letters off no matter how much button-mashing you do.

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Best optical gaming keyboard
The Roccat Vulcan Pro is among the best performing and best looking gaming keyboards out there, optical or otherwise.
The Roccat Vulcan Pro is among the best performing and best looking gaming keyboards out there, optical or otherwise.

The Roccat Vulcan Pro packs robust performance and solid build in a beautiful and elegant design. If you're looking for an optical option, you'll fall in love with this one.

Pros: Aircraft-grade aluminum body, thin and light, excellent performance

Cons: Hard wrist rest, keypresses may take some getting used to

We cannot deny that we're big fans of Roccat's gaming accessories. The manufacturer has a knack for producing luxurious peripherals that masterfully combine robust performance and rugged build with sexier aesthetics. 

The Roccat Vulcan Pro certainly doesn't fall far from that high-class tree, and is the best performing and best feeling optical gaming keyboard we've ever used.

Optical keyboards are generally considered to be faster and more durable than the traditional mechanical ones. However, they tend to also have a bit more resistance. If you're unfamiliar with optical switches, you should do your due diligence before buying. 

If, however, you are a fan, then the Roccat Vulcan Pro is the one to get. We love the bounce its keys offer, as much as we do the curvature of those keycaps that are incredibly effective in keeping our fingers in place.

Gaming on this thing is a pleasure, which isn't surprising. After all, it boasts an actuation point of 1.4mm, which is much shorter than other premium keyboards, a 1,000Hz polling rate, and a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 based processor for incredibly fast responses. And, its Titan optical switches are rated at 100 million keystrokes.

As far as features, you're getting an onboard memory to save five profiles in, a set of mixer-style audio controls, and a detachable wrist rest that magnetically snaps onto the keyboard.

It's beauty and brains in one, and there's certainly a lot of beauty here. The floating keys on an aluminum plate aesthetic are designed to let that customizable RGB light up like the Rockefeller Christmas tree. And, even though it is a full-sized keyboard, its 3.20cm-thin profile makes it feel less in your face. So much so you won't be embarrassed to use this at the office, especially because those keys are also elegantly quiet.

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Best customizable gaming keyboard
The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog offers plenty of customizations that make it the best customizable gaming keyboard.
The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog offers plenty of customizations that make it worth the price.

Perhaps the most feature-rich and most customizable gaming keyboard we've ever tested, the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog makes gaming incredibly seamless and easy.

Pros: Adjustable actuation, dual-step actuation, comfortable wrist rest

Cons: Pricey, a bit of a learning curve with some features, heavy

The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog isn't what most would call cheap, but it's also among the best value gaming keyboards out there thanks to its treasure trove of features. 

We're not just referring to its unbelievably plush wrist rest that magnetically snaps onto the keyboard and makes your wrists feel like they're resting on clouds or the USB passthrough that offers another port to which you can connect other peripherals or the underglow RGB lighting that extends to the wrist rest. Although those do add to this keyboard's appeal.

Most importantly for gamers, the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is incredibly customizable, offering per-key adjustments and remapping like you've never seen on other keyboards. Via the Razer Synapse software, you can toggle each key's actuation point from 1.5mm, which is the default, to 3.6mm, so the keyboard responds to your presses exactly how you want it.

That's nothing, however, next to the keyboard's dual-step actuation function, which actually lets you assign two different functions at two different actuation points on the same key. It's an incredibly nifty feature to have, as it gives you the ability to press fewer keys for similar game actions. 

A great, if basic, example of this would be to keep the W key's default forward action at 1.5mm actuation point while assigning the run action as its secondary function at 3.5mm in games like Valheim. It essentially eliminates the need for extra key presses and makes your gaming experience much more seamless, mimicking the dynamism of analog gamepads.

Of course, essentials like customizable RGB lighting, macro recording – which can be done on-the-fly, onboard memory for up to five profiles, media keys, and robust doubleshot PBT keycaps are on hand as well. That's not to mention its super responsive and accurate performance thanks to its 1,000Hz polling rate, optical switches and N-key roll-over with anti-ghosting.

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Best TKL gaming keyboard
For smaller hands or smaller setups, compact but keep your arrow keys with the elegant Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro.
Go compact but keep your arrow keys with the elegant Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro.

The Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro stands out by combining elegance and style with sheer performance and durability, making it our tenkeyless champion.

Pros: Compact form factor, quiet operation, short actuation distance

Cons: Pricey, FN shortcuts take a bit of adjustment, bouncy feedback not for everyone

If you want the best tenkeyless (TKL; lacking a number pad) gaming keyboard, take a look at the Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro, which is among our favorite gaming keyboards at the moment.

This optical option takes the classy route with its elegant and stunning aesthetic that features a floating keys approach on a brushed gunmetal finish. The whole thing seems to be designed to allow its customizable RGB lighting to shine brilliantly, which it does even in broad daylight.

Don't let that elegant exterior fool you. The Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro is as robust as they come, boasting aircraft-grade aluminum and optical switches that are rated at 100 million keystrokes.

Speaking of those optical switches, they are Roccat's Titan optical switches, renowned for not just being durable but also for being extremely responsive. With an actuation distance of 1.4mm, you don't have to press those keys all the way for them to register — and accurately, we might add. In fact, we've typed up a song verse on this keyboard with very light presses, and it did not miss a single key. Combined with its 1,000Hz polling rate, you'll find this keyboard a huge advantage when gaming.

Because it's incredibly quiet, you'll also have the peace of mind knowing that you can game late at night and not piss off your roommate with all the button-mashing. 

Don't worry about the more compact form factor, either. Its Function (FN) key shortcuts allow for quick access to media controls, settings, or RGB lighting presets, while the Roccat Swarm software lets you adjust keyboard settings, program key remaps and macros, and fine-tune the RGB lighting. There might just be an adjustment period — it's the price you pay for compactness. However, you definitely won't be missing out on full keyboard functionalities.

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Best mini gaming keyboard
The Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed Phantom Edition, the best mini gaming keyboard

The Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed Phantom Edition earns our highest regard for a mini gaming keyboard because of its high polling rate and ability to store up to 50 custom key profiles for use with several games.

Pros: Very small form factor, fast performance, multiple connectivity options, robust build, floating keys appearance

Cons: No dedicated arrow keys, steep learning curve

The Corsair K65 RGB Mini was our previous top choice for a mini keyboard, but it's been since toppled by the extremely versatile Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed Phantom Edition. The Corsair K65 RGB Mini remainsan impressive piece of kit, especially to hardcore and pro gamers who need its ultrafast polling rate of 8,000Hz and onboard memory that stores up to 50 profiles. However, the Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed Phantom Edition is the mini keyboard for the rest of us who need versatility and comfort just as much as we do power. This 60% gaming keyboard boasts a 1,000Hz polling rate and on-board memory that lets you store up to 5 profiles, which is more than enough for most non-pro gamers. 

It combines those capabilities with the versatility of having three different modes of connectivity, something that the fully-wired K65 doesn't offer. What that means is that this mini gaming keyboard will let you connect it to your gaming PC or laptop via the Razer HyperSpeed Wireless (2.4 Ghz) dongle, Bluetooth, or the detachable USB-C cable. And, all of them are almost equally reliable for gaming.

There's also a solid-keycap version of this keyboard, but we do adore the version with  Phantom keycaps, which gives it the illusion of having low-profile floating keys and, in effect, letting that gorgeous RGB shine even brighter. For comfort, there's a tapered design that angles down towards your hands as well as an incredibly plush, mini ergonomic wrist rest. Though this wrist rest is sold separately, it's more than worth its $20 price, so much so this author uses it for all her keyboards, even the non-gaming ones.

Rounding all that out are the keyboard's fully programmable keys, on-the-fly macro recording capabilities, and an 80-million-keystroke lifespan.

Best wireless gaming keyboard
The Logitech G915 TKL Tenkeyless Lightspeed Wireless RGB’s wireless performance makes the best wireless gaming keyboard.
The Logitech G915 TKL Tenkeyless Lightspeed Wireless RGB’s wireless performance makes it deserving of the title.

Beautiful and incredibly thin, the Logitech G915 TKL Tenkeyless Lightspeed Wireless RGB is the best wireless gaming keyboard for its impressive wireless features and performance.

Pros: Great performance, incredibly thin profile, long battery life

Cons: Expensive, no numeric pad, not all keys are programmable

The Logitech G915 TKL Tenkeyless Lightspeed Wireless RGB is one good looking keyboard, with its thin floating keycaps, brushed aluminum alloy top, round multimedia buttons, and beautiful RGB lighting. 

It doesn't just go by looks alone, however. Despite being one of the thinnest gaming keyboards out there, it also feels robust, its aluminum alloy top case supported by a steel-reinforced base. Meanwhile, its GL switches feel like they can take their share of button mashing.

There are a lot of other things to love here. Though it may not have an expansive feature set, it does come with its share. Those dedicated media keys, all round in shape, as well as the volume dial, are definitely useful additions. Meanwhile, the dedicated wireless, Bluetooth, game mode, and RGB brightness buttons are a boon to multitaskers who either use two devices at once or want to go from being productive to gaming in seconds.

Because, honestly, you'll love using this keyboard for typing up documents and writing those work emails as much as you would gaming with it. Combining a 1 millisecond response time and 1.5mm actuation distance with its satisfying tactile feedback, it's just as comfortable to use for work as it is responsive and accurate for gaming.

Of course, being our top wireless contender, there are a few noteworthy things here. It has two connectivity options — one via its Lightspeed USB receiver, the other via Bluetooth. This is something we often see with Logitech's wireless keyboards, but it isn't something we often see with wireless gaming keyboards.

While Logitech didn't specify its Lightspeed USB receiver's range, we've used this keyboard six to seven meters away from the laptop it's connected to in another room with the door closed, and it didn't miss a single keypress.

Originally $229.99 | Save 22%

Best gaming keyboard for less than $50
The Corsair K55 RGB may be cheap, but its performance and features prove that it can hold its own against its more expensive rivals.
The Corsair K55 RGB may be cheap, but its performance and features prove that it can hold its own against its more expensive rivals.

The Corsair K55 RGB may cost less than $50, but it still looks like a fully-featured gaming keyboard and boasts many of the same features.

Pros: Cheap, RGB lighting, customizable keys

Cons: Keys aren't mechanical, not fully programmable, 

This is the third time Corsair has featured on this list, though for good reason. Not only does the company build excellent top-tier keyboards, it also builds great affordable keyboards for the gamer on a budget. The best of those is the Corsair K55 RGB, which comes in at less than $50.

The Corsair K55 RGB, as the name suggests, offers full RGB lighting, making it look much more expensive than it really is. It also boasts a total of six programmable buttons, which can be programmed through the same great software you'll get with the K95 Platinum. It also has dedicated media controls, and well-built keys.

So why is the keyboard so cheap? Well, those keys may be well-built, but they're not mechanical keys, and as such, they may not be as satisfying to press or durable as other gaming keyboards. 

Still, that doesn't make this a bad keyboard, it's just something to keep in mind.

How we test gaming monitors

When it comes to buying computer peripherals, gamers often need something a little higher quality than everyone else. After all, when you're gaming, every millisecond counts, and the feel of a keyboard and mouse can have a pretty major effect on a gamer's performance. Those are the things we test when deciding whether or not a particular gaming keyboard is a worthy addition to this list.

In terms of performance, we typically see what a gaming keyboard does in the face of the latest popular games, playing a good mix of game genres on it. For example, we tested our most current picks above on AAA games, like Cyberpunk 2077 and Resident Evil Village, as well as lower-budget but equally popular titles, like Valheim and It Takes Two. Of course, since most people often just use the same keyboard for productivity as they do for gaming, we've done our fair share of typing up emails and articles on these picks as well, which also helped us gauge each one's comfort level, tactile feedback, and overall typing experience.

We also make sure to test the software every keyboard utilizes for customizations, especially when it comes to macros, remaps, and RGB lighting. After all, many gamers rely on those supporting apps to improve their gaming experience. Naturally, if a gaming keyboard is wireless, we test its range and amount of latency as well, typically by taking it as far as we can from the PC it's connected to or in another room and using it like we normally would. Finally, we test specific features as well — for example, if a keyboard has some specifically for MMORPG and MOBA, we make sure to utilize such features for such online multiplayer games.

What to look for in a gaming keyboard

More so than gaming PCs or laptops, the ideal gaming keyboard for one person isn't necessarily going to be the same for another. It highly depends on a number of factors, including gaming preferences, budget, space, and comfort. So, let's try to narrow yours down for you:

Type of switches

Most high-quality gaming keyboards opt for mechanical switches, of which there are also several subtypes: linear, tactile, and clicky. Do bear in mind that different manufacturers have their own names for these subtypes – Razer, for example, calls its own mechanical switches Green (tactile and clicky), Yellow (linear and silent) and Orange (tactile and silent). This means that choosing the mechanical switch you like most is actually a bit more involved, and for that, you should check out our Guide to Mechanical Switches

But, then there are keyboards that use optical switches, which tend to have faster actuation and longer lifespans in general. Of course, with these two types of switches competing against one another, this isn't necessarily a hard and fast rule. There are mechanical switches out there that now have just as long of a lifespan as optical ones, for example. And, while most people prefer the feel and feedback that mechanical switches offer, some optical switches have managed to deliver that same satisfying feel.

Finally, some gaming keyboards – usually the budget ones – come with membrane switches, which have very little tactile feedback but tend to be cheaper and can allow the keyboards to be waterproof.

Size, layout and form factor

There are a lot of full-sized gaming keyboards out there, which is likely the type of keyboard most gamers have. But, in recent years, manufacturers have come to realize the value of smaller ones. 

TKL, or TenKeyLess, gaming keyboards were the first to really hit the mainstream, abandoning the number pad and other miscellaneous keys most people don't need for gaming use to save space.

Then mini – or 60%, 65% and 75% – keyboards hit the shelves, offering that extremely compact and portable form factor to gamers with smaller spaces and setups. These are definitely ideal if you have a small or already overcrowded desk. However, these have really steep learning curves. You will be sacrificing small luxuries like having easy access to your arrow keys, which means you'll have to take time to program or learn shortcuts before diving into your games.

Whichever size/layout you choose, you'll find some thick ones and some with very thin profiles. These come with their own advantages and disadvantages as well, which means that the right one for you greatly depends on your comfort level and, to an extent, the size of your hands.


For most gamers, a wired connection is still king, which is true in some ways. You don't have to worry about battery life or your connection getting cut in the middle of a pivotal game moment.

However, wireless gaming keyboards have come a long way in terms of performance, accuracy, and connectivity. Choose one of the best wireless options out there, and you're pretty much guaranteed the same quality as their wired counterparts. And, these tend to also have very long battery lives. The only thing is that you do have to remember to charge it once in a while.


When it comes to gaming keyboards, performance is key, no matter the type of games you typically play. However, there are also different levels of performance ideal for different types of games. An 8,000Hz polling rate might be the dream, for example, but realistically, a 1,000Hz one should be more than enough for gamers not playing at pro levels. And, keyboards with 1,000Hz polling rates tend to be cheaper.

Make sure to get something with N-key rollover and anti-ghosting features if the games you play tend to require a lot of button-mashing, fast presses, or macros, as these ensure that the keyboard registers every single key your press, no matter how fast in succession you do them.


The most basic keyboards tend to be minimal in features, but pricier ones come kitted out with things like onboard memory to store profiles and macros in, dedicated media controls, fully programmable keys, and an included wrist rest. Before you hit buy, make sure you know which features are vital to you so you can choose the gaming keyboard that offers them.

What else we considered

There are so many excellent gaming keyboards out there that narrowing them down to eight has been tough. We've considered models like the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition, the SteelSeries Apex 3, and the HyperX Alloy Origins 60, all of which are incredible in their own right. It's just that our picks above simply did it better.

It was also hard to knock off previous picks like the Corsair K65 RGB Mini and the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum, but for varying reasons, we've had to give them up to make space for newer and perhaps slightly better entries.

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If you're taking on student debt to get rich in a professional program, you'll owe more than you earn for years after graduation

Medical school student
Medical school student.
  • The WSJ found 76% of professional programs leave grads with more debt than earnings after 2 years on the job.
  • That's the case for all US programs in dentistry, veterinary medicine, and chiropractic medicine.
  • Loans for grad and professional programs have some of the highest interest rates.

If you're hoping to get rich from a professional degree, think again — student debt might prevent that from happening.

A new report from the Wall Street Journal found about 76% of professional programs — degrees that help prepare students for a specific field — have left recent students with higher debt loads than their earnings after two years on the job, per an analysis of nearly 500 programs in the US. As the Journal noted, that's much worse than other degree types. For master's programs, 22% have debt loads that high, and it's lower for bachelor's degrees, at 11%.

In addition, the Journal noted that for chiropractic medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine specifically, every professional program in the US with available data has median debt that topped median earnings two years after graduation.

"My explanation is that veterinary medicine is a very emotional profession, like nursing," Peter Eyre, professor and dean emeritus of the Virginia-Maryland veterinary college at Virginia Tech told the Journal. "Becoming a veterinarian offers tremendous emotional reward because of the human-animal bond."

He added that as a result, students "seem willing to overborrow or overpay for what they're getting."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinarians in 2020 earned a median $99,000, dentists earned a median $164,000, and chiropractors earned a median $71,000, which is not enough to cover most debt loads from professional degrees that are over $200,000.

The Journal said its analysis excluded medical school degrees because graduates seeking those licenses are required to complete low-paid residencies.

As Insider previously reported, interest rates on student loans for graduates and professionals are one of the highest, currently at 5.28%, and the average student-debt load for a graduate student is $91,000, compared to the $36,000 average for undergraduates. 

Students pursuing professional programs can also take out Grad PLUS loans — a type of federal loan that has the highest interest rate of 6.28%, and covers up to the cost of attendance.

The huge debt loads for students seeking professional degrees is not a new development. In 2018, the Journal reported on a 37-year-old orthodontist who owed $1,060,945 in student loans. Due to the high interest rates, he was paying about 10% of his monthly income on his student debt, which still wasn't enough to tackle interest.

And the debt can often last a lifetime. At 61-years-old, Gwen Carney previously told Insider she doesn't think she will ever be able to pay off her $75,000 student debt from her graduate degree — something she pursued in the hopes it would help support her family. She does not know how she will afford to make payments next year once the pandemic pause lifts.

"Restarting payments makes me very anxious because I somehow have to find that extra $200," Carney said. "I just don't have it."

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Nancy Mace defends Kevin McCarthy's GOP leadership, says Marjorie Taylor Greene is 'out of control and totally unhinged'

Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina speaks with reporters at the Capitol on October 21, 2021.
Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina speaks with reporters at the Capitol on October 21, 2021.
  • Rep. Nancy Mace defended Kevin McCarthy's leadership of the House GOP amid attacks by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
  • "These ... QAnon members of the conference, they're never going to listen to leadership," she said.
  • Mace also said some of her colleagues are "not normal in any way, shape, or form."

Rep. Nancy Mace on Wednesday continued her feud with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy brokered a meeting between the two Republican congresswomen after they got into a day-long Twitter spat.

The dispute centered around Mace's condemnation of Rep. Lauren Boebert's Islamophobic comments about Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar. According to CNN, Mace and Greene met in McCarthy's office on Tuesday where he chastised the pair and urged them to put an end to the tension.

Mace was asked about the dispute at a separate event about cannabis legislation that she has sponsored. Asked whether McCarthy was "giving a green light" to some of the more extreme members of the caucus, the South Carolina congresswoman defended the Republican leader.

"I mean, he's trying to do his best, but you know some of these ... QAnon members of the conference, they're never going to listen to leadership, and they're not normal in any way shape or form," Mace said. 

"The leadership has done a good job of trying to, I think, rein that in, but at some point, I mean, you know, she's out of control and totally unhinged," the South Carolina lawmaker added.

Mace also publicly condemned racism and bigotry — no matter which party it comes from.

"I won't tolerate members on either side of the aisle, or even within my own party, who are racist, who promote bigotry — religious bigotry or otherwise — or anti-Semitism," she said.

Following their fractious meeting on Tuesday, Greene told reporters that she and former President Donald Trump would back a primary challenger to Mace, who was one of 10 Republicans that voted to impeach Trump in January.

"All I can say about Marjorie Taylor Greene is bless her fucking heart," Mace told reporters after that meeting.

McCarthy has faced pressure from the right flank of his caucus as members like Greene have sought to exact punishment on the 13 Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Last week, she said on Rep. Matt Gaetz's podcast that McCarthy doesn't have the votes to become Speaker of the House if Republicans retake the lower chamber in 2022.

The congressional offices for Greene and McCarthy did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Millions of people have taken Yale's free online course on how to be happier. It helped me realize which parts of my life were off-balance and led me to a new hobby I love.


Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

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Yale Popular Happiness Course Science of Well Being 4x3
The Science of Well-Being is a free online course adapted from Yale's most popular class ever. It uses positive psychology and research to teach you how to be happier.

How do we live a meaningful life? 

Despite how slippery and subjective the answer may seem, Laurie Santos, a Yale professor and leading expert in positive psychology, wants you to know that leading a fulfilling life can actually be simple.

The Science of Well-Being, the explosively popular online course from Coursera, is adapted Santos' 2018 Psychology and the Good Life ‚ which became Yale's most popular on-campus class in its 319-year history, eventually requiring the university to pull fellows from other schools to staff it.

One of Yale's most popular classes ever (and a Business Insider favorite), this class debunks some of the most common myths about happiness and teaches you how to authentically improve your well-being.

Santos' online course delves into our misconceptions about what makes us happy, explains why our expectations are so bad (spoiler: the brain doesn't always prioritize its happiness), and provides strategies for prioritizing the truly good stuff. 

You can take the course for free here, which takes an estimated 10 weeks (19 hours total) to complete. Or, keep reading for an overview of what to expect and a firsthand review of the online course. 

What to expect from the course

Screen Shot of the Becoming happier by learning & Applying Psychological Science Coursera course
The course intentionally feels warm, casual, and inviting. It was shot in Santos' home with a handful of students.

Topics covered in The Science of Well-Being: 

  • Misconceptions about happiness
  • Why our expectations are so bad
  • How we can overcome our biases
  • Stuff that really makes us happy
  • Putting strategies into practice

Each section includes video lectures, optional readings, and daily "rewirement" activities to build happier habits. Research suggests that if you do these rewirements as prescribed, you should experience a boost in your mood and overall well-being. After completing the five weeks above, students should commit to practicing one rewirement exercise for at least a month. 

What I loved about the course

1. You can actually measure if you're getting happier.

In the beginning, you're invited to respond to questionnaires that measure your baseline happiness. By the end of the course, you take them again to see whether your score increased. (Hopefully, your numbers rise!) To me, a before-and-after metric lent concreteness to a typically abstract topic.

I also found the baseline happiness survey helpful for an unexpected reason: I had been feeling fatigued, and the questions it posed helped me locate an overlooked source of dissatisfaction — I was continually rating one part of my life much lower than the others. Within the first lecture, I was able to use the framework to see my life more clearly. 

The Science of Wellbeing project process tracker
Weekly "rewirement" activities help build habits that make us scientifically happier: savoring, practicing gratitude, meditating, and acts of kindness among them.

2. The lectures are fun to watch — and less pressure than an in-person class.

Santos' lectures make for easy watching. They're shot in her own home with a small audience of Yale students, which makes the videos warm and inviting. In a conversational tone, Santos gives us in-depth explorations of happiness and positive psychology as an expert (most contemporary research was conceptualized and coined by Santos herself).

Once I sat down to play a video, I wanted to continue. It didn't feel forced or tedious like in-person lectures sometimes can. Plus, I could easily rewind and rewatch classes without asking Santos to repeat herself. Best part? There was also zero pressure to ask or answer questions.

3. The optional homework is really easy and fun.

While you can take the class at your own pace, you're encouraged to do the rewiring techniques on a weekly schedule. Research suggests that improving your well-being takes daily, intentional effort over long periods, so a 10-week class is a great opportunity. But, even if you're not routine about it, you'll still learn things that can help you understand how to be happier.

Overall, all the assignments are low-key, low-stress, and easy to implement. There are no required readings or grade penalties for a missed assignment deadline. For readings, the must-know information is summarized within the lecture, and, if you want to dive deeper, you'll see links to complementary readings. 

4. What I learned improved my life in substantial and concrete ways.

One of my key takeaways from The Science of Well-Being (and an interview I conducted with Laurie Santos on mental health) is that difficult, doable activities that put us in our flow state make us feel really happy. For me, that manifested in completing 75 pilates classes in three months because pilates is challenging, meditative, and out of my comfort zone. The course, and the flow state activities I now prioritize, have made me significantly happier and more confident

Is it worth it to get a certificate?

Maybe, but most likely not. You'll have access to all the course materials and forums for this class without paying. But, if you want a certificate of completion or graded homework assignments, you can pay $49. You can also always upgrade any time during the course or afterward, so it's probably worth it to test it out for free before committing to payment. 

If you want but can't afford the $49 certificate, apply for the course's financial aid. Click on the "financial aid" link beneath the "enroll" button on the left. You'll be prompted to complete an application and will be notified if you're approved; applications take at least 15 days to be reviewed.

The bottom line

One of Yale's most popular classes ever (and a Business Insider favorite), this class debunks some of the most common myths about happiness and teaches you how to authentically improve your well-being.

I should disclose that I enjoy online classes. In the character-strengths test that you're invited to take at the course's outset, "curiosity" was my most dominant trait out of the 20 possibilities.

But despite being a candidate of least resistance, I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed a few weeks in the course. The lessons felt immediately and concretely useful — most of the class legwork is completing daily "rewiring" tasks designed to build those research-backed happiness habits into your life. I can also say that what I learned in the course has substantially helped my mental health in the long term, especially over the last year. 

More free online classes

Read the original article on Business Insider

How Tom Ward's YouTube side hustle became the go-to interview for influencers and YouTubers

Tom Ward interviewed Emma Chamberlain in September 2018, before many mainstream outlets took notice of her.
Tom Ward interviewed Emma Chamberlain in September 2018, before many mainstream outlets took notice of her.
  • Tom Ward's impressive roster of interviews has turned him into an influencer whisperer.
  • "Normal sales guy" by day, Ward spoke to Insider about his unique path to celebrity interviewing.
  • By taking creators seriously as entrepreneurs, Ward said he was accepted into their ranks. 

Apart from paparazzi ambushes and the occasional red carpet interview, it can be tough to secure more than a few minutes with an A-List influencer like Emma Chamberlain or Bryce Hall — unless you're Tom Ward, in which case, the influencer is probably trying to talk to you. 

Ward doesn't anchor a primetime news show or host a national radio slot. He has his own YouTube channel, "The Tom Ward Show," where Ward has hours of interviews with top creators like David Dobrik, Addison Rae, Logan Paul, Valkyrae, and Bella Thorne.

In early November 2021, Ward told Insider that a publicist for a TikTok star with more than 10 million followers reached out to him for a YouTube interview. The same week, "Catfish" host Nev Schulman sat down with Ward for a chat. And interviewing isn't even Ward's full-time job. 

"The whole thing is so bizarre," Ward said. "This kid reached out on TikTok asking me to interview him and he was like 'I've been watching your interviews since I was in grade school.'"

Ward's unique position in the celebrity influencer sphere — as well as his path getting there — demonstrate how the gap in influencer coverage from mainstream news outlets in the 2010s gave outsiders who took the field seriously a chance to establish a foothold in the now $14 billion industry.

Ward took advantage of Forbes' freelance writing gigs 

By day, Ward still works in sales, as an account manager for the industrial equipment company Illinois Tool Works. But in 2015, determined to take his career in a new direction, Ward started blogging on his personal website. He wrote about marketing, business, and success — his first post to go viral was a list of legendary music producer Rick Rubin's life lessons. Actress and entrepreneur Jessica Alba shared Ward's post on LinkedIn.

Afterward, Ward said he got connected with an editor at Forbes, who recruited him as a freelance contributor for the website. Ward told Insider that he had no other writing experience at the time, but took the opportunity.

"I was like 'Can I do this?' But then I thought 'Anyone can write an 800-word article with bullet points,'" he said. "It all came from Forbes, because that allowed me to get in a room with anybody."

By early 2017, Ward started blogging about influencer marketing for Forbes, although he didn't follow YouTubers or YouTube culture at the time. His email started overflowing with PR pitches, and one caught his eye.

"A guy reached out and said 'I've got this client named Jake Paul,'" Ward said. "I looked him up and thought 'Who is this kid with 20 million followers who I've never even heard of?'"

Ward drove to the now-infamous YouTuber's $7 million "Team 10" mansion and noticed a horde of kids outside, sitting on the front lawn. When he asked what they were doing, they told him they were waiting for a chance to see Paul. More intrigued than ever, Ward said he interviewed Paul about business in Paul's garage for more than an hour.

"The thing that was very different than interviewing a traditional celebrity was Jake gave me his phone number," Ward said. "And he said 'Hey, when you post the article, text me the link and I'll share it.'"

When Paul tweeted Ward's article and Ward's Twitter handle, Ward said his phone started "blowing up." Within ten minutes, his interview had more clicks than any other article Ward had written before. When his article surpassed 100,000 clicks, Ward knew he had to pay close attention to the YouTube world. 

To establish his personal brand, Ward started filming interviews

Ward still writes for Forbes, and his most recent article is an interview with the head of TV at TikTok star Josh Richards' company CrossCheck Studios. But having a Forbes byline wasn't the end goal of Ward's new career. 

"It drives me crazy when you're watching a movie trailer and it says 'Forbes said this was the best movie of the year.' Forbes didn't say that, some writer did! If I'm that guy, I'm not even on the screen," Ward said. "I didn't want to be an anonymous writer, that's not fun. I wanted to make a name for myself."

After he published his interview with Paul, Ward started interviewing even bigger YouTubers and influencers, like Shane Dawson and Lele Pons. Then, he started filming himself interviewing them.

"At the time I was doing it, no one was. Everyone looked at these kids like a joke," Ward told Insider. "I have coworkers who make fun of me behind my back, like 'What is this guy doing? Does he think he's some kind of Instagram star?' They don't get it, and at the time no one got it."

Now, Ward's YouTube channel has more than 5.3 million views, and his easy rapport with influencers has led to even bigger opportunities, like co-hosting a branding-focused podcast with TikToker Griffin Johnson. 

Views still aren't Ward's endgame. In 2019, when he started posting clips from his interviews on TikTok, he noticed that Q&A clips about the teen stars' dating lives got the most views. But, being their dads' age, Ward said he lets tea channels cover drama. His niche is the business of influencing.

"They're a lot more savvy than people give them credit for," Ward told Insider. "For me, it wasn't about clout-chasing, or anything like that. I was just fascinated and wanted to figure out how it worked. I took them seriously, and that's why I think they accepted me."

Read the original article on Business Insider

The S&P 500 is headed for 12 straight months of record highs for the first time in 7 years — if Omicron doesn't wreck the streak, says LPL

Traders work on the floor of The New York Stock Exchange
Traders work on the floor of The New York Stock Exchange
  • The S&P 500 in December could notch 12 straight months of record highs, matching a streak only seen in 2014. 
  • LPL Financial said worries about the Omicron coronavirus variant could halt the monthly run of new records.  
  • The S&P 500 gave up gains Wednesday as the first US Omicron case was confirmed. 

The S&P 500 could mark 12 consecutive months of notching a new record high, but worries about the Omicron coronavirus strain could put the longest streak of records in years at risk, says one wealth management firm. 

The benchmark of large-cap stocks has logged 66 record highs during 2021 and is in "rare air" in making new highs each month.

"Should the S&P 500 make new highs in December that would be a perfect 12 for 12, matching 2014 as the only year to complete this incredible feat," according to a Wednesday note from LPL Financial.

The S&P 500 has charged up about 22% this year, fueled largely by hefty profit growth for companies listed on the index.

But the Omicron threat was underscored Wednesday, as US stocks gave up strong gains after the first US case of the new variant was confirmed in California.   

"Here comes December, historically a pretty solid month for stocks, but now we have the Omicron variant wreaking havoc on markets," said Ryan Detrick, LPL's chief market strategist, in writing about December trading conditions.

On Tuesday, a stock selloff knocked off about 2% from the S&P 500 after the CEO of biotech firm Moderna warned that vaccines could be less effective against Omicron. The World Health Organization last week named the coronavirus variant and said it had a large number of mutations. 

Questions still remain about the variant and its potential impact on financial markets, said Detrick. "As of now we're optimistic that stocks will sidestep the new variant worries, but we recommend investors buckle up their seatbelts, as the end of 2021 could be a bumpy one."

The S&P 500 has historically gained 1.5% on average in December, the third-best month of the year after April and November.

Most of December's gains typically occur in the second half of the month, said Detrick, "right as the holiday good feel vibes start to come out."  

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From 'Bones Day' playlists to 'Good Soup' references, TikTok trends dominated Spotify Wrapped this year

spotify wrapped bones day 1
  • Spotify released its annual "Spotify Wrapped" report, a roundup of the most-streamed content of the year.
  • TikTok-driven streams helped revitalize decades-old songs and inspired playlist themes, according to Spotify. 
  • TikTok has played an increasing role in propelling songs to the charts and bringing artists to popularity. 

Spotify's annual roundup of its most-streamed content dropped on Wednesday, and social media platforms like TikTok made a huge impact on the cultural zeitgeist in 2021.

The music streamer made several nods to TikTok in this year's Spotify Wrapped — an end-of-year report that provides users with an overview of their top songs, artists, and podcasts, as well as analyzes trends across the platform's 381 million users — highlighting the growing symbiotic relationship between the two apps.

According to Spotify, TikTok played a role in everything from inspiring playlists and bolstering streaming numbers for rising artists to revitalizing songs from generations past. This year also marked the first that Spotify made it possible for TikTok users to share their Wrapped data directly to the app, joining existing platforms like Instagram and Twitter that allow the capability. 

One prominent example of TikTok's influence included an influx of Spotify playlists that mention a "Bones Day" or "No Bones Day," a reference to the TikTok pug, Noodles, who went viral this year for helping users predict the overall productivity of their day.

According to Spotify, a total of 1,500 users compiled playlists related to the trend, with some featuring mellow tracks like "Easy on Me" by Adele and "Motion Sickness" by Phoebe Bridgers for a "No Bones Day," while others included upbeat songs like "Golden" by Harry Styles and "Good as Hell" by Lizzo for a "Bones Day."

Spotify also noted the revival of decades-old songs and musical genres that had a resurgence in popularity thanks to viral TikTok videos. More than 187,000 "sea-shanty"-related playlists were created this year after the 19th century song "Wellerman" exploded among TikTok users, according to the report. 

spotify wrapped sea shanty
Meanwhile, tracks like "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac made a major comeback on Spotify as users widely-featured the song in TikTok videos, according to the platform. Rising artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Lil Nas X also saw a boost on the top of Spotify charts in 2021 thanks in part fo being featured heavily as sounds in TikTok videos.

The prevalence of TikTok in Spotify Wrapped comes as it becomes an increasingly powerful tool within the music industry, with many artists tapping into the social media giant to gain more followers and attract more attention for their projects. The app — which reached a billion users in September — has become a major pipeline to Spotify and other music streamers for burgeoning artists in recent years. 

Looking ahead to 2022, Spotify is continuing to tap into the power of TikTok. The streamer announced last week it started beta-testing a TikTok-like vertical video feed within its Discover feature. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

MasterClass extended its Black Friday sale through December 28 — you can get 50% off an annual membership, or get 2 memberships for $180


Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

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MasterClass Logo on laptop and E-Learning background
Until December 28, buy one MasterClass annual membership ($180) and get one for free to gift to a friend or family member for Black Friday.

MasterClass houses over 100 video courses taught by celebrities and experts in their field of expertise — from Serena Williams teaching tennis tricks to Gordon Ramsey on cooking and Aaron Sorkin on screenwriting. Classes have an average of 20 lessons per class and 10 minutes per lesson, so they're easy to fit into your life

With an annual MasterClass membership ($180), you get unlimited access to every course. 

Right now through December 28, you can get two memberships for the price of one as a Black Friday discount.

Or, you can simply buy one membership for $90. If you opt to gift a second membership, and the recipient accepts the gift, you will be charged $180.

You can find a full review of the MasterClass annual membership here, but the gist is: if you're interested in a couple of courses or know people in your life who will use it more than a few times per year, it can be worth it. It's one of our favorite and most recommended education services, and the cost-per-use is very attractive during a BOGO event.

While many online education sites focus on hard skills, MasterClass videos — with their celebrity creators, high production value, and intuitive app — feel more like edutainment than traditional online classes. You can even play the course as just its audio and use it similar to a podcast or audiobook.

Masterclass Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking
Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking in his MasterClass.

Some of the most popular MasterClass classes:

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What leaders can learn from Shopify founder Tobias Lütke, who turned his side hustle into a platform powering more than 1 million businesses

Shopify CEO Tobias Lutke in front of a pixelated Shopify logo on a green background
Tobias Lütke thinks of trust like a battery. It starts at 50% when he meets someone, and then every interaction charges or depletes the battery a little bit.
  • Tobi Lütke created Shopify after businesses became interested in the infrastructure of his site. 
  • He uses a "fly on the wall" technique to learn, piecing bits of information together like a puzzle. 
  • He deconstructs his decisions to see the assumptions he made to better understand his choice. 

You may be surprised to learn that e-commerce platform Shopify would never exist if founder Tobias Lütke didn't have an obsession with snowboarding.

In 2004, he was working as a programmer, but he wanted to make some extra cash. He decided to team up with a friend and start his own business: an online snowboard store called Snowdevil. They thought the process would be simple: create an online store and start selling snowboards.

But it was way harder than they imagined.

"I tried to find the right software to use for this business, and I was stunned that I couldn't find anything," Lütke said. "It's not that there wasn't e-commerce software, but it was just all basically user-hostile database editors, at best. It was so clear that no one who's ever run a retail business had had any part in building these pieces of software."

As a programmer, the natural solution to this problem was to build his own software from scratch. He used a programming language called Ruby on Rails and successfully launched his store. He was working out of a coffee shop in Canada called Bridgehead when he received an email with his first order.

"I came in, I got my coffee, I sat down, and I was scanning through my emails," he said. "While I was doing that, another email came in. It said, 'new order.' It was an insane moment."

Lütke said this was one of the most important moments in his life because it made him realize something: He suddenly went from programmer to entrepreneur.

"I remember it, I remember exactly where I was sitting, what I was eating that day," he said. "It was something that I just fell in love with, and I wanted to share that."

Snowdevil took off, but then something unexpected happened: People were less interested in buying snowboarding gear and more interested in the backend infrastructure for their own online stores.

Lütke listened to the feedback — he decided to pivot Snowdevil into the company that would ultimately become Shopify. He became obsessed with the idea that his company would empower small business owners to have the same experience he had in that coffee shop that day when he made his first sale.

"There's a huge global demand for people reaching for their own independence," he said.

Today, Shopify powers more than a million online shops, and Lütke is obsessed with using systems to automate repetitive tasks and incrementally improve the customer experience.

"I'm always trying to think of ways to make something more efficient," he said. "If I have to do something once, that's fine. If I have to do it twice, I'm kind of annoyed. And if I have to do it three times, I'm going to try to automate it."

Here's what we can learn from Lütke about efficiency, optimization, and leadership.


On becoming an original thinker: Lütke has a fascinating mind. He's developed mental models around creativity, product creation, and learning. "I find that going wide and learning the best lessons from the people who have dedicated their entire lives to a certain pursuit gets you really, really close to mastery," he said. (I happen to believe the same!) This is a fascinating deep dive into Lütke's approach to leadership.

On his hiring strategy: When Lütke hires an employee on his team, he doesn't ask traditional interview questions. Instead, he prefers to hear the candidate's life story in their own words to better understand how they think. He listens for the moments where they had to make important decisions, and he goes deep on those by asking more probing questions. "I find the strongest predictor of people who do well at Shopify is whether they see opportunity as something to compete for, or do they see opportunity as essentially everywhere and unlimited," he said.


On staying disciplined in business: Lütke has built Shopify into a behemoth powering so much of the internet's digital commerce. In this conversation, Lütke discusses business focus, why video games can help you learn the power of attention, what design means for products and organizations, and how he uses mental models to stay disciplined. (Check out this Twitter thread on the mental models Lütke uses.)

On scaling Shopify into a global business: Putting small things together to act big is at the heart of platform thinking. In this episode, Lütke explains that the secret to gaining massive scale is to be a platform. It goes like this: Build a virtuous cycle where everyone wins, and you'll emerge the biggest winner of all. Here's how Lütke built Shopify and why he decided to open it up to the world.

On building trust: Lütke believes that trust is actually a much more complicated concept than people think. It's not black-and-white, he said, it's more of a gradient. For instance, he said, the so-called "trust battery" is charged at 50% when you are first hired with a fellow coworker. And then every time you work with that person, the battery that exists between the both of you gains or loses charge based on whether each of you delivers on your promises. This one is filled with interesting thought experiments you can implement in your everyday life.

On transforming into a CEO: Lütke could have been pigeonholed as an introverted computer programmer, not a public-facing CEO. But he was eager to learn, and that became his superpower. In this podcast, Lütke discusses his learning style, how he's cultivated a culture of curiosity, and why he's obsessed with the book "The Courage to Be Disliked."


On how he solves problems: Lütke said the biggest advantage he had as an entrepreneur is starting out as a programmer. "You think in systems," he said. "By default, most people think about cause and effect, but the world doesn't work like that. The world actually works in systems — it is loopy, not linear." This is a fascinating interview that gives us a peek into Lütke's systems-based mind.

On the power of starting small: During the pandemic, Lütke noticed that shops centered around decorative tapestries and wall art were doing very well. Why? Because in an era of endless Zoom calls, people wanted better backgrounds when they appeared on video. So if you're about start a company or a product, Lütke recommends asking yourself: "How does this product I'm creating fit into the story of the times?"

On lessons from the pandemic: Lütke isn't afraid to admit when he's wrong. Before the pandemic, he believed that there is nothing more powerful for productivity than physical proximity. But then he changed his mind. "If you can actually get a small team together where everyone has the right kind of setup and the software is there to support it, then you can put some really high-fidelity team together that works really, really well," he said. Here's how he's constantly updating his beliefs.

Polina's takeaways

Use a color-coding system to gain control of your schedule: Lütke uses a color-coding technique to manage his calendar. He labels anything product-related as red, investor and board of director-related business as teal, and so on. The thing he's looking for is a balanced week — "a week where, ideally, I manage to devote about 30% of the time — at least — to the product and then as much as possible to things like recruiting, bigger picture projects, and one-on-ones." Color-coding your calendar is a great way to do an audit and see exactly where you're spending most of your time.

Improve decision-making by poking holes: How do you know if you're about to make the right decision? Deconstruct it, poke holes in it, and look at the elements that went into making it. "When you're discussing an idea or a decision, I want to know what has been considered," Lütke said. "I find myself more interested in the inputs of an idea than the actual decision." Here's how he does it: Look at the possible outcome of a decision, and ask yourself, What assumptions have I made? What inputs did I use to come to this conclusion? Are my fundamentals shaky? "The decision being discussed could be the perfect decision according to the various assumptions that everyone came into the room with," Lütke said. "But if those assumptions are faulty, the seemingly perfect decision is faulty, too." Whenever he makes a decision, he keeps a small log file with one paragraph explaining what information he used to make that decision and then reviews it every six months.

Gain knowledge quickly by using Lütke's "fly on the wall" technique: Before podcasts were big, it wasn't easy to listen in on a conversation between two experts. But Lütke found a way. He enjoyed situations in which he played the role of "a fly on the wall." Here's how he did it: Let's say he wanted to learn about some esoteric 3D-rendering algorithm. He would join a chat room where people talked about this topic, but he didn't understand anything because it would be so specific and technical. "But then, I chip away at it, and I would come into the knowledge," he said. Because he had no background in business, he replicated this exact process when he was meeting with investors. They would ask him about things like "attrition rates," "conversion rates," and "funnels," and Lütke would write down the terms, look up their definitions, and find the answers. In other words, he starts with the details and then pieces together the puzzle of the foundation. (This is the opposite of Elon Musk's approach.)

Reframe failure to promote experimentation: At Shopify, the word "failure" doesn't exist. That's because Lütke believes that "almost every good decision starts as a bad one first." It was important to him that he build a culture unafraid of experimentation at his company. So failure was reframed as "the successful discovery of something that did not work." But he discovered that this approach only works if everyone is on the same page about giving and receiving direct feedback about their work. "Feedback is a gift because it is. It clearly is," he said. "It's not meant to hurt. It's meant to move things forward, to demystify something for you."

Build systems that help in times of uncertainty: Lütke has a great piece of advice: "Always understand the system of how you got to where you are." Entrepreneurship, he said, is about the ability to step back and look at the whole picture. "It's a beautiful thing as an early company — if you have 10 people and one product and one potential market, you can actually draw the entire systems diagram on one blackboard," he said. "Once you have that modeled out, try to reason about the whole situation and pick out how you got to the point. That's what the trick is." Systems act like a map that can you guide you out of moments of adversity.

Remember that trust starts at 50%: Lütke said it's not useful to think that trust is mostly binary — you either trust someone or you don't. It's much more complex than that, and he uses the metaphor of a "trust battery" to explain it. When you enter into a personal or professional relationship with someone, your trust battery starts at roughly 50% and every interaction you have with the person either charges or discharges the battery a little bit. "Just like with your phone, if the battery is low, you think all the time about the battery," he said. "It's the same with people. Those who are low on trust, you think of all the time. The people who are high on trust, you don't worry about as much." Aim to be a person whose trust battery stays consistently charged at over 80%.

Quotes to remember

"Amazon is trying to build an empire, and Shopify is trying to arm the rebels."

"I believe the secret to massive scale is compressed in three words: Be a platform."

"I have an unbroken track record of underestimating the potential of my own company, which I hope will continue."

"Just give me the raw feedback without all the shit sandwich around it."

"Entrepreneurship is precious and needs to be celebrated."

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Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2018, will run for Georgia governor in 2022

Stacey Abrams speaks into a microphone.
Former Georgia state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams.

Stacey Abrams on Wednesday launched a 2022 campaign for Georgia governor, setting up a potential rematch between the former state lawmaker and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in one of the most politically-competitive states in the country.

The voting-rights activist and former minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives released an announcement on Twitter where she repeated themes similar to her 2018 campaign, stating that she was running "because opportunity in our state shouldn't be determined by zip code, background or access to power."

The campaign launch will likely assuage nervous Democrats in the Peach State as they seek to retake the governorship that they have not held since former Gov. Roy Barnes left office in 2003.

In 2018, Abrams became the first Black female nominee from a major political party to run for governor in US history. This feat represented a groundbreaking moment not only for Black women, but for Georgia, which for years had been defined by its conservative electorate.

That year, Kemp narrowly defeated Abrams by a 50.2%-48.8% margin, or 1.4 percentage points.

The race represented the smallest margin in a Georgia governor's race since 1966.

Democrats went on to achieve great success in the 2020 — with President Joe Biden winning the state last fall and with the dual elections of Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in 2021.

This is a breaking news post. Check back for updates.

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Executives from Coinbase, FTX, Circle, and other crypto firms are set to testify before Congress next week

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) speaks as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar testifies to the House Select Subcommittee on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 2, 2020.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
  • A handful of the cryptocurrency industry's biggest executives are going to testify before US lawmakers on Wednesday, Dec. 8.
  • The roster includes FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, Coinbase CFO Alesia Haas, and Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire.
  • The hearing will be led by Rep. Maxine Waters, chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services.

Some of the cryptocurrency industry's biggest names are going to have something different on their agenda next week.

A heavyweights roster including FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried and Coinbase CFO Alesia Haas are set to meet with US lawmakers on Wednesday, Dec. 8, as Congress seeks to ramp up its regulatory oversight over the rapidly growing space. 

The list of witnesses was released by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chair of the House Committee on Financial Services ahead of her hearing next week entitled "Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States."  

Other executives expected to attend include Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire, Bitfury CEO Brian Brooks, Paxos CEO Chad Cascarilla, and Stellar CEO Denelle Dixon.

Since she became chair, Waters has executed on a stated mission to protect consumers and investors by holding big technology firms accountable. Her committee has held multiple hearings, including one on central bank digital currencies in July 2021 and another on the ongoing crypto frenzy in June 2021.

The committee also announced the formation of the Digital Assets Working Group of Democratic Members in June, which seeks to meet "regularly with experts and government officials to learn about the challenges and promise of digital assets."

Generally speaking, Democrats, with Senator Elizabeth Warren as among the most outspoken, want stricter oversight as opposed to Republicans. 

Also on Wednesday, US Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler once again reiterated his view that crypto exchanges should be regulated

Read the original article on Business Insider

Wyoming bitcoin evangelist Sen. Lummis wants to block Powell and Brainard's nominations to the Fed over their 'political approach' to crypto

Cynthia Lummis
Sen. Cynthia Lummis.
  • Sen. Cynthia Lummis said the nominations of Jerome Powell and Lael Brainard to the Fed stand in the way of crypto adoption. 
  • The Republican from Wyoming has told others to block the nominations, Decrypt reported.
  • She said Powell missed the perfect opportunity to "promote responsible financial innovation."

Cynthia Lummis, the Republican senator from Wyoming, said the nominations of Jerome Powell and Lael Brainard to the Federal Reserve stand in the way of crypto adoption. 

Powell was nominated last week for another term as Fed chair, with his current term set to expire in February. Brainard, a Fed governor, was nominated to serve as vice chair. 

But in a Tuesday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Lummis said, "Unfortunately, over the past year my faith in the Fed has been deeply shaken by its political approach to digital assets in my home state, Wyoming, greatly contributing to my concerns over President Biden's nominees, Jay Powell and Lael Brainard."

She has been encouraging senators to block Powell and Brainard's Fed nominations, Decrypt reported, citing a source in Lummis' office. But the chair of the Senate Banking Committee, Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio, wants to move quickly on confirming the nominees, according to Bloomberg. 

In Wyoming — where multiple crypto-friendly state laws have been passed — crypto banks called Special Purpose Depository Institutions are in limbo as they wait for the Federal Reserve to process their applications, Lummis wrote, noting Kraken and Avanti received their bank charters in the state in 2020. 

"While Mr. Powell and Ms. Brainard have said they want to promote responsible financial innovation, when Wyoming provided a perfect opportunity the Fed instead inexplicably chose to ignore its legal obligations," she said, adding that they should address the delay before Congress. 

Lummis and the Federal Reserve did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. Lummis is a well-known crypto advocate in Congress. In August, she bought at least $50,000 worth of bitcoin when it slumped, and her campaign accepted bitcoin contributions.  

Read the original article on Business Insider

Seeking nominations for the top experts helping advertisers master gaming

Three esports players from the neck up wearing headsets and holding phones in front of their faces
Esports team Pittsburgh Knights competing at a "PUBG Mobile" tournament in 2019.
  • Insider is seeking nominations for a list of execs spearheading advertising in video games and esports.
  • They're people leading the gaming divisions at agencies and brands and esports and video game companies working with advertisers.
  • Submit your nominations by December 6.

Insider is seeking nominations for a list featuring the execs at the forefront of helping brands navigate gaming.

It'll spotlight the people helping advertisers take advantage of the booming participation in video games and esports.

We're seeking people who are leading gaming ad efforts on behalf of brands as well as video game and esports company execs who are packaging opportunities for advertisers. 

Their responsibilities may include developing ad campaigns to run in competitive gaming events or streams, sponsorships, and in-game placements.

We plan to publish the list in December.

Please submit your nominations here by 5 p.m. ET December 6.

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34 unique and thoughtful gifts your husband will love, from stylish clothes to the latest tech


Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Inside this curated cocktail kit, he'll find all the top-shelf spirits and ingredients he needs to bring two creative cocktail recipes to life.

The holidays are a great time to splurge on a gift for your husband or partner. Whether you're looking for a gift to supplement his hobbies or something you can enjoy together, we have a wide range of ideas that he's sure to love.

Whether he has a sweet tooth or needs a better night's sleep, these 34 gifts tell your partner how much he means to you. And if you have kids, some of the gifts might even benefit the whole family. 

The 2021 holiday shopping season is feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Many manufacturers are experiencing supply-chain issues that limit their stock. Delays in shipping are also widespread. We recommend paying close attention to shipping times when ordering products to ensure they will arrive on time.

Here are the best gifts for husbands in 2021

A waterproof speaker
jbl clip 3 speakers underwater best gifts for husbands 2021

Gift the JBL Clip 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker, $49.95

Portable Bluetooth speakers are ideal for rocking out on the go. The JBL Clip 3 is great because it's affordable and waterproof so he can listen to tunes or catch up on podcasts in the shower.

For more great options, check out our guide to portable Bluetooth speakers.

A high-quality electric razor
braun series 7 electric razor submerged in water best gifts for husbands 2021

Gift the Braun Series 7 (7085cc) Electric Razor, $149.94

The Braun Series 7 is tops in our guide to the best electric razors for several reasons. It senses the thickness of his beard and automatically adjusts the power for a clean one-pass shave. The shaver has a 50-minute runtime, and it's waterproof for wet use.

A GPS smartwatch
Garmin Forerunner 945 smartwatch by shoes and a water bottle best gifts for husbands 2021

Gift the Garmin Forerunner 945 GPS Smartwatch, $599.99

A good GPS fitness tracker is a must for anyone who runs outdoors. The Garmin Forerunner 945 is as good as it gets. The watch supports hundreds of apps, including Spotify, so he can stream music without having to lug around his phone. I like that I can enable the watch to send my location to my wife when I run. That way, if something happens, she can find me easily.

If the 945 is out of your price range, consider one of these fitness tracker watches.

A fashionable leather wallet
person looking into the Bellroy apex slim sleeve best gifts for husbands 2021

Gift the Bellroy Apex Slim Sleeve Wallet, $129

Bellroy's Apex Slim Sleeve isn't your dad's wallet. Made of eco-friendly leather, it fits folded bills and up to eight cards. A magnet keeps the sleeve closed. And, it features RFID protection to keep personal information safe. 

A snack box subscription
snacks from a Tokyo Treat box laid out best gifts for husbands 2021

Gift a 3-month TokyoTreat subscription, $106.50

Who doesn't love snacks? If your husband is an adventurous eater, he'll love a TokyoTreat subscription. Each month, he receives 17 unique snacks from Japan, including fun KitKat flavors. 

Check out our guide for other snack subscription box ideas.

Stylish, sustainable sneakers
four Nothing New sneakers interspersed with seven empty single-use plastic water bottles

Gift a pair of Nothing New Sneakers, from $95

What's better than giving the special eco-conscious guy in your life a stylish pair of shoes? Giving him shoes that are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. With a style similar to Chuck Taylor All-Stars, Nothing New sneakers come in several colors, and each pair saves 160 gallons of water and keeps 5.6 plastic bottles out of landfills.

You can read our full review of Nothing New Sneakers here.

Waterproof bone-conduction sport headphones
A woman dressed in athletic gear wearing the AfterShokz Aeropex headphones

Gift the AfterShokz Aeropex Bone Conduction Sport Headphones, $129.95

Any active person who likes to bring their tunes or podcasts on workouts will tell you it's hard to find comfortable headphones. This is especially true if you have unique ears. Bone conduction headphones are fabulous because they don't depend on your ear shape to provide comfortable listening

A smart-home light starter kit
A stylish room with purple lighting

Gift the Philips Hue White and Color LED Smart Button Starter Kit, $275.63

One of the biggest gripes many dads have around the house is, "Who left the lights on?" If your partner has a similar commitment to the environment, thrift, and complaining, a smart light kit is the way to go. If the Philips Hue Starter Kit is out of your price range, check out our guide to the best smart light bulbs for more options.

A wagyu steak gift box
raw wagyu ribeye on a black plate

Gift a box of American Wagyu steaks, from $49

Wagyu steak is prized for its high fat content, which makes it melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The gift boxes from Black Hawk Farms offer an affordable way for the meat lover in your life to experience American Wagyu. Thanks to the extensive marbling, I like that even a cheaper cut of American Wagyu comes off the grill tender, juicy, and flavorful.

A portable fire pit and grill
two people grill kabobs on the BioLite FirePit+

Gift the BioLite FirePit+, $187.46

If your husband enjoys camping and grilling, the BioLite FirePit+ is a must-have. It features a built-in fan that allows him to adjust the heat easily and control the smoke. It's our favorite outdoor fireplace and grill because it cooks efficiently, is easy to transport, and protects you from getting a faceful of smoke.

A water bottle with a built-in purification system
gifts for husband

Gift the Grayl Ultralight Water Purifier [+ Filter] Bottle, $69.95

If he's a traveler or adventurer, he'll appreciate this water purifier bottle that lets him access clean drinking water no matter where he is. It doesn't just filter out sediments and chemicals like chlorine; it gets rid of 99.9% of viruses, disease-causing bacteria, and more with a purifying filter that includes positively charged ions to cling into negatively charged pathogens and activated carbon to catch chemicals.   

Silicone rings that look like the real thing
gifts for husband 1

Gift the Enso Rings Classic Elements Silicone Ring, $39.99

Silicone rings are great alternatives to metal wedding bands for anyone with an active lifestyle, even if it's just a weekly game of golf. The silicone won't get scratched or bent out of shape, and it's sweatproof and easily washable, too. 

Delicious cookies and truffle balls
gifts for husband

Gift the Milk Bar Party of Two set that includes a 6-inch B'Day Cake and 12 B'Day Cake Truffles, $75

If he lives every day like it's his birthday, he'll love digging into Milk Bar's B'Day Cake Truffles and 6-inch B'Day Cake. 

Items are packed securely and can be shipped nationwide. There's a $15 flat rate shipping on all orders.

A Disney+ subscription
Disney Plus subscription

Subscribe to Disney+ for $79.99/year

Disney+ gives him unlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox and costs $79.99 a year after a free seven-day trial. Read everything there is to know about Disney+ here.

And if he needs some binge-spiration, here are all the new movies available to stream.

A convenient way for him to discover new products

Gift a Birchbox Grooming 3-Month Subscription Gift Card, $45

If he doesn't have the time and energy to hunt down new skincare and hair-care products, hand him over to Birchbox. The service will send him five samples catered to his hair, skin, and personal style every month. 

Breathable, supportive golf socks

Gift the Bombas Performance Golf Ankle Sock 3-Pack, $49.50

Little details, like the mesh under-toe ventilation zone, will make him appreciate these performance socks specially designed to up his golf game. Would it be extreme to attribute his birdie to Bombas? 

A gift card from one of our favorite activewear brands

Gift a Rhone Gift Card, from $20

Rhone makes some of our favorite workout gear for both inside and outside of the gym. Plus, the e-gift card is immediately sent upon purchase, so there's no need to wait for shipping. 

A vinyl record subscription
vnyl $39.99

Gift a Vnyl subscription, from $29

Vnyl's curators look at his music tastes, member profile, and Spotify playlists to send three records he'll want to dive into immediately. The included handwritten note explaining the suggestions makes the experience feel more like he's stepped into a record store. 

A sleek portable charger for his laptop and phone
gifts for husband

Gift the Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W, $159.99 

If he travels often, he's probably taking along all his tech — laptop, phone, e-reader, and more. All those gadgets have their own chargers, which can be frustrating to keep track of and take up space in his luggage, too. 

Anker's device can help him streamline and replace a few of the major chargers. It's a portable battery pack with enough power to charge a laptop and comes with a wall charger and USB-C to C cable so it can replace most, if not all, of his other cords and cables. 

Silky soft lounge pants that fit like a second skin
tommy john

Gift a pair of Tommy John Lounge Pants, from $58

The brand's beloved lounge pants are delightfully airy, stretchy, and soft. 

Matching underwear in a fun print

Gift a matching set of MeUndies Matching Underwear, from $42

Choose your favorite underwear cuts (over 15 options), then go on to the fun part. Find a print so the two of you can match. MeUndies offers solid colors, but we love the adventurous, cartoon-splashed prints more. The actual underwear is very comfortable and soft.

A mini cast iron skillet
field company

Gift the Field #4 Cast Iron Skillet, $95

The smallest version of Field Company's lightweight and smooth vintage-style cast iron is the perfect size for cooking small sides. 

Cookies that look like him
Custom cookie cutter

Gift the Custom Portrait Cookie Cutters from Etsy, from $30

Having his likeness recreated on these delicious cookies is a gift he'll never forget. Make sure to take a side-by-side photo before he eats them all. 

A protective spray that keeps his shoes shiny and new
repel jason markk

Gift the Jason Markk Repel Spray, $17

If he loves shoes, he should have the right products to take care of his favorite footwear. This spray protects shoes from water and oil stains, and there are multiple people on our team who swear by it for every new pair of shoes they get. 

Creatively sentimental cufflinks
love letter

Gift Uncommon Goods' Love Letter Cufflinks, from $80

The tiny envelopes open up to reveal a small and thoughtful reminder. You can replace it and surprise him with your own sweet message, too.

Vitamin-infused body wash

Gift the Necessaire Body Wash, $25

Gender-neutral personal care brand Necessaire treats the body with clean, sustainable ingredients and vitamins. He'll love using the Eucalyptus or Sandalwood body washes to nourish his skin without stripping it of moisture. 

Glasses to reduce eye fatigue
felix gray

Gift a pair of Felix Gray Sleep Glasses, from $145

The blue light that comes off our screens affects sleep, so gift him these blue-light-blocking glasses. His eyes won't feel as tired or dry, and he might have an easier time drifting off to sleep. 

A framed photo

Gift the Minted Best Dad Ever Frame, from $94.50

You can never go wrong with a photo of the family framed by handcrafted wood or metal. The metallic foil gives it a special touch. 

Dress clothes that fit him perfectly
spier and mackay

Gift a Spier & MacKay Gift Card, from $50

He can get custom-fit suits for surprisingly affordable prices from Canadian startup Spier & Mackay. Insider Reviews reporter Amir Ismael calls it the best choice "if you're having a treat-yourself moment or you need a shirt for a special occasion."

A 15-pound weighted blanket
best weighted blanket 2021 brooklinen weighted comforter

Gift the Brooklinen Weighted Comforter, from $211.65

This heavy weighted blanket will ease him to sleep after a long day, thanks to its comforting embrace. If this option doesn't feel quite right, check out our guide to the best weighted blankets.

A new electric toothbrush

Gift the Quip Electric Toothbrush, from $25

With Quip's sleek metallic styles, this toothbrush is both a pretty and thoughtful gift. Because he'll always have a new brush head on the way via its subscription, you're also taking one more chore off his plate.

A curated cocktail kit
Inside this curated cocktail kit, he'll find all the top-shelf spirits and ingredients he needs to bring two creative cocktail recipes to life.

Gift a SaloonBox Cocktail Kit Box, $172.99

Inside he'll find all the top-shelf spirits and ingredients he needs to bring two creative cocktail recipes to life. Rather than regret all the money spent on ingredients he'll only use once, he can refocus his energy to enjoying his boozy creation. 

A cool phone case and phone grip accessory

Gift a Scooch Wingman Phone Case, $39.99

It's a multi-talented force the likes of which the phone accessory world has never seen before — a grip, stand, car mount, and phone case, all in one convenient and sturdy package. Learn more about why we love it in our Scooch Wingman review.

A staycation
fathers day gift for husband

Book a unique online experience at Airbnb, price varies

A staycation is a good excuse to get away from the kids for the weekend and reset, all while staying in your home. It'll help him appreciate a familiar place in a new light, and he'll return to his day-to-day with renewed energy and vigor. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

United Airlines just became the first airline in history to operate a passenger flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel

United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.
  • United Airlines operated the world's first passenger flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel.
  • The aircraft carried over 100 passengers from Chicago to Washington DC with United's CEO onboard.
  • United has invested millions into SAF, as well as other projects to reduce its carbon footprint.
United Airlines has become a global leader in reducing the aviation industry's carbon footprint. In 2016, the carrier became the world's first airline to continuously use sustainable aviation fuel in its regular operation, mixing it with conventional jet fuel in the same engine.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use SAF.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use SAF.

Source: United Airlines

Since then, the carrier has committed to the use of SAF, having purchased nearly double the known amount that worldwide carriers have bought combined. Now, after five years of investments and preparation, United is ready to make history again.
United Airlines Eco-Skies Boeing 737-900 aircraft livery.
United Airlines Eco-Skies Boeing 737-900 aircraft livery.

Source: United Airlines

On Wednesday, the carrier operated the aviation industry's first-ever passenger flight using 100% petroleum-based SAF. The flight flew from Chicago O'Hare to Washington D.C. carrying over 100 travelers, including United CEO Scott Kirby. The fuel was supplied by World Energy, North America's only commercial biofuel producer.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.

Source: United Airlines

The flight operated with one of United's new Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets with 500 gallons of The SAF in one engine and 500 gallons of traditional jet fuel in the other. SAF is drop-in ready, meaning it can mix with conventional fuel or be used on its own, and is compatible with other aircraft fleets.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.

Source: United Airlines

According to United, airlines are only allowed to use a maximum of 50% of SAF onboard aircraft, but Wednesday's demonstration flight is intended to show there are no operational differences between SAF and conventional jet fuel.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.

Source: United Airlines

"Today's SAF flight is not only a significant milestone for efforts to decarbonize our industry, but when combined with the surge in commitments to produce and purchase alternative fuels, we're demonstrating the scalable and impactful way companies can join together and play a role in addressing the biggest challenge of our lifetimes," Kirby said.
FILE PHOTO: United Airlines president Scott Kirby speaks at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski/File Photo
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.

Source: United Airlines

"When we fly, we connect, and our demand for the connections aviation makes possible are only going to grow," World Energy CEO Gene Gebolys said. "But we need to develop affordable, high energy density, low-carbon liquid fuels at scale everywhere to allow those connections to be made sustainably."
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.

Source: United Airlines

For future flights, the airline has purchased 1.5 billion gallons of SAF from Alder Fuels, which is enough to fly 57 million passengers. United also has the option to buy up to 900 million gallons of SAF from Fulcrum BioEnergy, which it has already invested $30 million into.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.

Source: United Airlines, Fulcrum BioEnergy

United's SAF investment is not the only effort it has made to battle climate change. In 2018, United became the first US carrier to commit to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050, though it has upped the goal to 100%.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.

Source: United Airlines

Then, in 2019, it operated "Flight for the Planet," which was the "most-eco-friendly commercial flight of its kind in the history of commercial aviation."
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.
United Airlines is the first airline in the world to use 100% SAF on a passenger flight.

Source: United Airlines

In February 2021, United announced it would partner with Archer Aviation to help develop the latter's electric aircraft, which has the potential to operate as an air taxi to shuttle United customers.
Archer Aviation electric aircraft VTOL
Archer Aviation electric aircraft.

Source: United Airlines, How 2 startup founders with no aviation experience landed a $1 billion deal to make electric aircraft for United

In addition to Archer, United has also agreed to work with Heart Aerospace to develop a net-zero, 19-seat electric aircraft to ferry passengers on regional routes.
United Airlines and Heart Aerospace partner to develop an electric aircraft.
United Airlines and Heart Aerospace partner to develop an electric aircraft.

Source: United Airlines

In June 2021, the airline announced its investment in Boom's "Overture" airliner, a zero-emission supersonic jet that would use 100% SAF. It is expected to begin carrying passengers in 2029.
Boom Supersonic United Airlines
A rendering of a Boom Overture aircraft in United Airlines colors.

Source: United Airlines, United placed a $3 billion order for 15 supersonic jets. Meet Boom Supersonic's Overture

United's efforts will decrease its carbon footprint and help it meet its goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by 2050 without the need for carbon offsets.
United Airlines Eco-Skies Boeing 737-900 aircraft livery.
United Airlines Eco-Skies Boeing 737-900 aircraft livery.

Source: United Airlines

Read the original article on Business Insider

US stocks dive at the close as first confirmed US Omicron case triggers sharp reversal

A trader wearing a mask works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
The New York Stock Exchange.
  • Stocks turned sharply lower Wednesday after the US identified a case of Omicron in California. 
  • The S&P 500 had been on course to recover from Tuesday's nearly 2% rout. 
  • Stocks were up earlier in the day after a better-than-expected jobs report from ADP.

US stocks retreated from earlier gains to finish sharply lower Wednesday, after US officials said the country now has its first case of a person with the Omicron coronavirus strain. 

The market's three main equity indexes reversed during afternoon trade as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed an Omicron infection was identified in California.

The CDC said the fully vaccinated individual had returned from South Africa on November 25. The person, who is self-quarantining, had mild symptoms that are improving and all of the person's close contacts have tested negative.

Here's where US indexes stood at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday:   

Stocks earlier Wednesday had found upside support after ADP said private US employers added 534,000 jobs in November, a better reading than the 525,000 jobs expected in an Econoday survey of economists. The report arrived ahead of Friday's nonfarm payrolls report from the Labor Department. 

The S&P 500 had been up by as much as 1.9%, on course to recover losses from Tuesday, when the CEO of biotech firm Moderna cautioned that vaccines could be less effective against Omicron. The World Health Organization last week said the new coronavirus strain had a large number of mutations. 

Around the markets, Cathie Wood's Ark Invest bought about $49 million worth of Twitter shares on Tuesday, taking advantage of the stock's drop after Jack Dorsey said he would step down as CEO. 

Legendary investor Ray Dalio warned investors against trying to time the market as it faces uncertainty about the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Gold rose 0.3% to $1,780.62 per ounce. The 10-year yield slipped 2 basis points to 1.427%. 

Oil prices fell during Wednesday's session that marked the start of a meeting by OPEC. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 0.9% to $65.57 per barrel. 

Bitcoin edged down 0.1% to $56,987.07. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The pistol police said the Oxford high school shooting suspect used was one of nearly 700,000 firearms that Americans bought or tried to buy during Black Friday sales

Semi-automatic handguns are displayed at shop.
Gun sales on Black Friday 2021 soared, ranking among the top ten highest days for gun-related background checks.
  • The FBI conducted 687,788 background checks related to firearm purchases during the week leading up to Black Friday.
  • The bureau processed 187,585 background checks on Black Friday alone, topping the 2020 gun sales record. 
  • Police in Oxford, Michigan said the firearm used in Tuesday's deadly high school shooting was a pistol purchased on Black Friday.

As more news emerges about the Oxford High School shooting in Michigan, police have said that the suspect used a pistol purchased on Black Friday by his father. The firearm is one of the hundreds of thousands that were either purchased or Americans attempted to buy on the sales holiday.

According to data by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Black Friday was one of the most productive days in gun sales to date. This year, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) processed a total of 687,788 background checks in the days leading up to and including Black Friday, November 26, according to FBI data. On Black Friday alone, 187,585 background checks were made, a slight increase from 186,645 in 2020.

The FBI uses the NICS to process background checks when people attempt to purchase a firearm or explosive. The agency is required by law to conduct background checks on prospective firearm buyers, and the data has historically been used to measure gun sales. 

As a result, Black Friday 2021 now ranks among the top 10 highest days for NICS background checks dating back to 1998. 

A renewed debate over gun safety and policies

researcher in front of a computer
A researcher simulates a check done for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for Black Friday in 2014.

While school shootings in Michigan are rare, the Oxford high school shooting that left four students dead and several people injured has renewed debate over gun laws and safety in the state. 

The Giffords Law Center, which collects information about gun laws nationwide, ranked Michigan 20th in the nation for states with the strictest gun laws, the Washington Post reported. A lawyer for the center told the Post that Michigan's gun laws "could be a lot stronger." 

Democrats in Michigan have advocated for stronger legislation on gun control, but many of those bills have stalled in the Republican-led legislature. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, on Tuesday called gun violence a "public health crisis," adding that "no one should be afraid to go to school."

Meshawn Maddock, the Michigan Republican Party co-chair, tweeted Tuesday that many people "would give anything for a gun carrying teacher in Oxford today," adding, "I personally LIKE being around people with guns." 

Tuesday's high shooting marks the sixth mass shooting this year, according to the Mother Jones mass shooting database. There were only two mass shootings in 2020 amid a record number of gun violence deaths, as per the database. 

Gun control advocates nationwide have called for stricter background checks, among other initiatives, to reduce rates of gun violence. A 2018 study found that states with stricter background checks for weapon and ammunition purchases had fewer school shootings.

However, support for stricter gun control has fallen, according to a recent Gallup poll. Only 52% of respondents said they wanted stricter gun laws, the lowest recording since 2014.

It is not clear yet where the handgun — a 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 pistol — used by the 15-year-old shooting suspect had been purchased. The firearm was bought by the suspect's father just four days before the shooting, police said. Prosecutors said on Wednesday that they may charge the suspect's parents.

Read the original article on Business Insider

REI's Cyber Week sale is here, with huge discounts on winter gear and apparel from REI Co-op, Hydro Flask, and BioLite


Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

A woman with a bunch of gear hiking in the woods — REI Sale

Although REI has long held firm in its dislike for offering a Black Friday sale (the retailer urges people to Opt Outside, instead), it does have an annual Cyber Monday sale featuring tons of heavily discounted outdoor gear. 

But REI upped the stakes this year by also running what's called a Cyber Week sale. REI's Cyber Week is live now and runs through December 6, with deals on everything from winter apparel and camping gear to Hydro Flask insulated water bottles.

REI's even discounting some of its adventure trips, which are bucket list-type experiences and something we recommend to literally anyone who will listen. 

Below, we've rounded up a few of the best REI Cyber Week deals currently available. Check back to this page often as we'll be updating it with new sales and information as often as we can. 

Best REI Cyber Week 2021 deals

The Hydro Flask Coffee is comfortable to drink from and easy to tote around on your next adventure thanks to its strong rubber carry loop.
Originally $34.95 | Save 25%
Originally $32.95 | Save 25%
Originally $32.95 | Save 25%

Technology and design come together in the BioLite FirePit+, a fire pit that not only excels at grilling but comes equipped with an onboard battery, an airflow design that keeps smoke at a minimum, and foldable legs for easy portability.
Originally $249.95 | Save 25%
Originally $249.95 | Save 25%
Originally $249.95 | Save 25%

Originally $239.95 | Save 25%

The Hero 9 Black is GoPro's newest flagship camera, capable of shooting videos up to 5K and photos up to 20 megapixels.
Originally $450.00 | Save 22%
Originally $449.95 | Save 22%
Originally $449.99 | Save 22%

The Saxx Vibe Boxer Brief comes in several solid colors and dozens of patterns for everyone's style preferences.
Originally $32.00 | Save 25%

REI Cyber Week FAQs

What REI deals did we see last year?

Last year's Cyber Monday sale at REI featured discounts on everything from snow apparel and hard goods (i.e. ski and snowboard goggles and gloves) to tents, sleeping bags, and hiking boots. We expect to see similar deals this year, as REI is holding not one, but two sales in its current Cyber Week sale, as well as a Cyber Monday sale.

When will REI's Cyber Week deals start?

REI's Cyber Week sale runs from November 28 through December 6. All available deals are while supplies last, and some availability is even contingent on your location. 

Is REI holding any other sales?

In addition to its Cyber Week sale, REI also ran a Cyber Monday sale on November 29.

REI vs Dicks Sporting Goods: Which has better deals?

A lot of this depends on what it is you're looking for. If it's sports and fitness gear you're after, Dick's Sporting Goods might have a larger selection of better deals. However, if it's outdoor gear and equipment you want to purchase, REI's Cyber Week sale is the go-to for huge discounts on things like hiking backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, and more. 

What is REI's return policy?

REI has one of the best return policies as it lets shoppers return or replace anything they bought up to a year after purchase. There are, however, limitations on what can be considered an actual return or replacement. For instance, cameras, GPS devices, watches, activity monitors, and bike trainers all come with a 90-day return policy. 

We recommend checking the receipt of all REI purchases as it will have the exact return policy for the items you buy. You can also return anything bought to a brick-and-mortar REI location, so long as you have the original receipt and any packaging or tags that came with it. 

How we select the best deals at REI

  • We only chose products that meet our high standard of coverage and that we've either used ourselves or have researched carefully.
  • We also compare the prices across multiple retailers to ensure the deals listed are the best available. This includes cross-referencing on sites like Amazon and Backcountry but also looking at smaller online retailers and competing sales. 
  • Each products' price history plays a vital role, too, as it allows us to better evaluate its true value.
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best roach killers in 2021


Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Collage of roach killers, including Raid Ant & Roach Killer on green background for best roach killers 2021

No matter how hard you try, you'll never rid the world of cockroaches. But if you're trying to keep your home or business roach-free, then we can help.

We queried experts at the National Pest Management Association to learn what chemicals and traps to use and when it's time to call in the professionals. (Read more about our methodology here.) The best solution for your infestation will probably be a combination of two or three of the products we recommend below, considering the resilience of your foes. Even though they outlived the dinosaurs, we've got the chemicals and the technology.

Below are our picks for the most effective and expert-approved weapons in cockroach warfare. Some of these roach killers and traps get the job done on contact, while others allow a roach to transport poison back to the nest and spread it to the lot.

Here are the best roach killer and traps you can buy in 2021

Best roach killer overall
Image of Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer on teal background for Best roach killers 2021

Use Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer around the periphery of your house every few months, and roaches stand little chance of breaching its interior.

Pros: Long-term preventative solution, suited for outdoor and indoor use, also works for spot-killing

Cons: Labor-intensive, spray nozzle can be finicky, poses a threat to aquatic habitats

A preventative spray, Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer is effective for about three months at keeping roaches and plenty of other six-legged creatures at bay.

Whether you're neck-deep in cockroaches or you're just preparing for or anticipating the worst, a perimeter spray is a great measure to take both inside and out. It also keeps far more than roaches out of your house and creates a buffer against an impressively diverse list of potentially more harmful critters.

Wearing a mask, use the electric spray gun (included with the gallon-size jug), slightly dampen a four-inch perimeter around your house and make sure to keep children and animals away from it until it's dry (same goes for indoor application, though you'll want to apply less liberally).

The main thing you want to keep in mind is thoroughness. You're essentially building a fence, so lay the stuff on thick. Coat window and door frames, crawlspaces, garage doors, and all crevices. Fortunately, you'll only have to do this once a season. 

One final note: because this product contains Bifenthrin, which is toxic to certain aquatic creatures, including fish, consider avoiding using it if your property borders a body of water.

Originally $17.98 | Save 19%
Best roach-killing spray
Image of Raid Ant & Roach Killer on teal background for Best roach killers 2021

When you're coming face to face with roaches, Raid Ant & Roach Killer is an on-the-spot spray that will make short work of your adversaries — at least the ones you can see.

Pros: Instantly effective, effective against most insects

Cons: Only effective upon sight, not a long-term solution, relatively toxic

Kill-on-contact spray is important to have for visible infestations. Keep in mind that it contains a cocktail of Cypermethrin and Imiprothrin, among others, all of which are somewhat toxic to humans. 

Raid's Ant & Roach Killer Insecticide Spray is also handy when you have a clear idea of where the roaches are traveling. It remains temporarily lethal enough that if you spray their trail before shutting out the lights and heading off to bed, it will still harm them.

Complete eradication requires a combination of approaches, and sprays like this won't kill the roaches you can't see and trace. A perimeter spray and bait stations will pick up most of your slack, though. Raid Ant & Roach Killer Insecticide Spray is great to have on hand for pretty much any bug infestation.

Best roach-killing gel
Image of Advion Cockroach Gel Bait on teal background for Best roach killers 2021

Advion Cockroach Gel Bait applies invisibly wherever you need it and then makes its way back to the nest to wreak havoc.

Pros: Long-lasting, placement is highly customizable, also attracts and takes care of crickets (field and house), silverfish, and ants

Cons: Labor-intensive to apply, not pet-safe

When you have a serious infestation and can't pinpoint the source or the nest, a spreadable gel is a great option. You can smear it into any suspect cracks, corners, and crevices. As hermetically sealed as your domicile may be, there are almost always cracks, and that is indeed how the roaches get in.

Advion's Cockroach Gel Bait, with Indoxacarb as its active ingredient, mercilessly attacks the pests' nervous systems and spreads throughout the nest. Before long, the whole colony is wiped out.

While application is more involved than opening a box and dispersing a few traps throughout the house, Advion's Cockroach Gel Bait comes with applicator tips so that it's not a horribly messy chore.

Squeeze it into cracks and create a bead or dots around baseboards, near trash cans, and anywhere else the vermin may be finding their way into your living space. However, it's not good for pets.

This formula is also approved for boats, planes, and other vehicles, including your car.

Best roach trap
Image of Black Flag Roach Motel Insect Trap on teal background for Best roach killers 2021

The Black Flag Roach Motel Insect Trap kills cockroaches and keeps the dead ones contained and out of sight.

Pros: You won't wake up to dead bugs on your floor, odor-free, pesticide-free

Cons: Traps become tattered over time, might also trap smaller rodents (e.g., mice) that could render the trap useless

A self-contained trap like Black Flag's Roach Motel is often the most practical and comfortable approach. Cleanup is much less involved: Just pick it up and toss it once it's full or too tattered to perform its job any longer. It also entices and contains spiders, scorpions, crickets, and other insects.

This is a great option for households with pets and small children. The active ingredient in these traps isn't a pesticide but merely sticky tape. Even if their fingers or paws do find their way in, it's nontoxic.

Roach Motels come two to a pack. The way they work is simple: Black Flag's sweet proprietary concoction lures in the roaches (and other pests). Once inside the trap, they find themselves attached to a sticky tape.

While this is arguably cruel, keep in mind that roaches probably aren't capable of experiencing pain like we are. However, smaller rodents might also find their way in, at which point they will be trapped and left to suffer (as they do in traps like these).

Best roach bait
Image of Combat Max 12-Month Bait Stations on teal background for Best roach killers 2021

Common, small roaches don't require anything too pernicious, and Combat Max 12-Month Bait Stations are plenty effective and discreet.

Pros: Long-term efficacy, discreet

Cons: Doesn't work on larger species (stations for larger species are prohibited in some places)

The heavy sprays and gels aren't necessary for the common, small roach. An insecticide with Fipronil, like Combat's Max 12-Month Roach Killing Bait Stations, is more than adequate.

The beauty of these contraptions is threefold: They're affordable; they last for a whole year as the packaging suggests; and the domino effect they have on the nest, and potentially the entire local population, is underway the second one individual roach takes the bait.

We also particularly like how nondescript these bait stations are. Toss them under the fridge or in the back of the kitchen cabinet, and guests will never see them. Far and away, this is the easiest and cheapest solution to start with, but generally, you'll also have to take other measures.

Originally $18.00 | Save 39%
Our methodology

We spoke with waste management professionals at Organic Pest Control NYC and Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA, to learn the most effective chemicals and approaches to cockroach management. We also found out the necessary concentrations of active ingredients to get the job done.

One rule to ridding a space of roaches supersedes all measures: Proper food storage and waste disposal are your first (and most effective) line of defense. Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), told Insider that the best way to control a cockroach problem is, essentially, not to let them in in the first place. That means removing anything that the insects find attractive — food, water, and clutter, which offers warmth and a place to hide.

"Cockroaches are some of the most resilient pests in the world, making getting rid of them a difficult task for consumers to do themselves," Mannes said. "People can take steps, however, to mitigate cockroach problems through barrier exclusion and cleanliness."

Other specific considerations were:

Ease of use: Is it something as simple as opening a cartridge and slipping it under the sink, or do you have to crawl around on your hands and knees with protective gear on? We offer recommendations across the spectrum, so choose what is most practical (and realistic) for you and your household.

Toxicity: We considered whether active ingredients were toxic to humans and pets. Essentially, everything is at the very least mildly toxic, but some options, like the Fipronil found in Raid's Bait Stations, were considerably less problematic for pets.

Effectiveness: Effectiveness is without a doubt the most important feature of a roach killer or trap. We considered the active chemicals, our experts' recommendations, and user reviews.


What are the most effective chemicals to look for in a roach killer?

Chemicals that affect the central nervous system of insects work best, especially because they're so effective with roaches but don't tend to affect mammals (specifically pets and humans) to the same degree. Cypermethrin, Imiprothrin, Fipronil, and Indoxacarb are the more common EPA-approved ones and the active ingredients found in the products we recommend above.

Does bleach kill roaches?

Yes, but it's not as safe or as effective as specifically designed insecticides.

Does boric acid kill roaches?

Yes, boric acid can work very well, entering either through digestion or basic contact, but being a powder, it's messy. It also tends to lose potency quickly.

Does dichotomous earth kill roaches?

Yes. Diatomaceous earth is a potent but pet- and human-safe implement for killing cockroaches. It breaks down their exoskeletons, and roaches also bring it back to the nest, so the domino effect can work extremely well within a few weeks.

You'll just need to continuously spread a dusting of it in the problematic area, which, as with boric acid, can become messy.

What type of roach killer or trap is right for me?

Depending on the degree of your infestation and the amount of effort you are willing to do on your own (before you call an expert extermination service), any of our recommendations are applicable. But here's the basic run-down of application and effectiveness of each type of trap and poison:

Bait stations: Bait stations lure roaches in for poisonous bait, which they'll then take back to the nest. Dead roaches will be scattered about, but application is as easy as dropping the little plastic discs here and there and replacing them every 12 months. This is about as easy as it gets, but there will be cleanup.

Gel baits: Gel baits are second only to preventative sprays because while they're thoroughly effective, they leave behind a trail of dead bugs. Still, this is a great way to stop roaches from developing regular trails through kitchen cabinets, cracks in the wall, and other tight crevices.

Preventative sprays: Preventative sprays are somewhat labor-intensive. You have to thoroughly and carefully spray them around your house's inner and outer perimeters and let it dry (for about four hours) before going near the sprayed areas. In our experience and based on our experts' recommendations, this is the most effective option.

Spot-killing sprays: If you're coming face to face with roaches in your home, a spray will get the job done on the spot. You'll have to clean up afterward, though. Plus, depending on how much you spray, you can really foul the air in your house for a while.

Sticky traps: Sticky traps can be effective. While they're pesticide-free, they're a little cruel because whatever gets stuck in there will die of exhaustion or starvation. These traps also tend to be on the larger side, so they're harder to hide.

How do I prevent roaches from returning?

No matter what type of poison you use, effectiveness is going to be relative to cleanliness. If your house is a sty, you'll just keep inviting in roaches (and other pests). Keep counters and floors clean; keep your sink free of dishes; store food in airtight containers; vacuum weekly; ventilate crawl spaces; and prevent moisture from building up, especially due to leaky pipes and faucets.

Toxicity in roach killers

Roach killers are toxic by nature, but plenty of chemicals will exterminate without being toxic to pets and humans. Here's more about the toxicity in the active ingredients found within the products we recommend: 

Cypermethrin: A fast-acting neurotoxin in insects, Cypermethrin is generally only a mild irritant to humans and mammals, as it's 1,000 times more potent to insects. Still, it's best to avoid skin contact when handling it. (Note, Ortho's Home Defense Insect Killer includes Cypermethrin but also features a small concentration of Bifenthrin, which is harmful to aquatic insects and finfish, and it's best to avoid letting it leak into bodies of water.)

Fipronil: Also used for killing fleas and ticks on dogs, Fipronil affects the central nervous system of insects. While studies show that it's heavily toxic to rodents, it will only cause mild skin irritation in humans. If consumed, health effects become much more serious, though not necessarily life-threatening.

Imiprothrin: Categorized by the EPA as having a "low order of toxicity" in humans (and mammals), Imiprothrin exposure manifests as a mild skin and eye irritant and is considered suitable for indoor applications.

Indoxacarb: Classified by the United States EPA as a "not likely" human carcinogen, Indoxacarb is a pyrethroid also used to prevent the transmission of pathogenic microorganisms from insects to humans and other animals. Still, it has caused neurotoxicity in several studies of both mice and rats, and you'll want to seek medical attention if ingested. 

Read more about pesticide toxicity assessment at the EPA.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Walmart salaries revealed: from up to $200,000 for an engineering role to $74 hourly rates for pharmacists

Walmart pays many senior engineers six figure salaries.
  • Walmart pays systems engineering managers up to $200,000, per a new Wall Street Journal report.
  • WSJ analyzed Walmart pay in Colorado, where firms are required to share salaries on job listings.
  • A 2020 Insider analysis of Walmart pay for foreign workers showed similar salary ranges.

Walmart pays some engineers up to $200,000 — at least in Colorado.

To determine how much Walmart pays employees, the Wall Street Journal analyzed 5,000 job offers at major companies posted in the state between August and October, after Colorado began mandating employers disclose hourly or salary compensation or range in all job postings. The state's legislators passed the law to ensure equal pay for equal work.

Though some companies stopped hiring workers in Colorado to bypass sharing salary information on job listings, corporations like Walmart started disclosing pay for certain positions. 

Walmart's highest salary on a job offer was for a systems engineering manager: The job's minimum base pay was $80,000, the maximum was $200,000, according to the Journal's analysis.

Other high-paying jobs at Walmart, according to the analysis, included a pharmacist manager ($166,400 maximum base pay), a staff pharmacist ($153,920 maximum base pay), and a membership representative ($74,000 maximum base pay).

Walmart also offered high hourly wages for some positions in Colorado, the WSJ found. Certain staff pharmacists could earn up to $74 an hour, and maintenance and custodial workers up to $32 an hour.

The wages in Colorado job postings followed similar patterns to Insider's analysis of Walmart's 2020 disclosures made to the US Office of Foreign Labor Certification for salaries paid to permanent and temporary foreign workers. 

Insider found Walmart paid principal software engineers $184,369 on average and senior managers for software engineers up to $213,116. 

As competitors like Amazon and Target adopted a minimum hourly wage of $15, Walmart has made incremental increases. In March, Walmart announced a raise for 425,000 associates that would increase pay to between $13 and $19 an hour. In September, it raised its minimum wage across the board to $12 an hour

Walmart was not immediately available for additional comment. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

How They Got Here: Battery Packs


A visual guide to the innovations that made everyday modern life more sustainable — plus a look into how they're being adapted for the future.

In this edition of 'How they got here', Business Insider delves deep into the evolution of battery packs and how they have helped increase efficiency and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Check the slide deck to learn more.

Slide 1: How they got here: Battery packs
Slide 2: How they got here: Battery packs
Slide 3: How they got here: Battery packs
Slide 4: How they got here: Battery packs
Slide 5: How they got here: Battery packs
Slide 6: How they got here: Battery packs
Slide 7: How they got here: Battery packs
Slide 8: How they got here: Battery packs
Slide 9: How they got here: GPS
Read the original article on Business Insider

A study on NBA players and staff found vaccinated people with breakthrough infections are less likely to spread COVID-19 to others

Young man receives vaccine.
Mohammed, 18, receives his first Pfizer vaccine on June 6, 2021 in Stanmore, Greater London.
  • The study was conducted in partnership with the NBA.
  • It examined nearly 20,000 viral samples from the league's occupational health program.
  • It found vaccinated people cleared their infections an average of two days faster.

A new study of NBA players, staff, and household members provides yet more evidence that fully vaccinated people who get a breakthrough case of COVID-19 may be less infectious than their unvaccinated peers.

The data, collected when the Alpha and Delta variants of the coronavirus were dominant, supports a commonly-held theory among experts.

Last July, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention walked back earlier guidance that had said vaccinated people need not wear masks indoors, saying they should do so in areas of the country experiencing high rates of infection. At the time, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky cited the rise of the highly transmissible Delta variant and "worrisome" new science that indicated vaccinated individuals "may be contagious and spread the virus to others."

The new study, published by the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine, does not challenge that claim — researchers found that people with breakthrough infections may be just as contagious as unvaccinated people.

However, researchers found that individuals with breakthrough illnesses are infectious for a shorter period of time, reducing the opportunity for them to pass the virus onto others. What's more, previous evidence suggests vaccinated people are also far less likely to be infected in the first place, especially if they have received a booster shot.

The vaccinated have a shorter transmission window, the study found

To reach their findings, scientists partnered with the National Basketball Association and analyzed 19,941 viral samples from 173 people enrolled in the professional league's occupational health program between November 2020 and August 2021. Under the program, NBA players were subject to regular testing for COVID-19.

According to the study, vaccinated people remained infected for 5.5 days, on average, compared to 7.5 days for unvaccinated people. That's 48 hours — or roughly 36% — less time to infect others. 

Researchers found no difference between those who received the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine and the one-dose viral vector vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. (Moderna's mRNA vaccine was not assessed due to a small sample size.)

"Our work provides the most detailed information to date about how viral concentrations change in the body across the full duration of SARS-CoV-2 infection," study co-author Stephen Kissler said in a statement. Kissler is a research fellow at the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which led the study.

The findings support earlier claims about vaccines

While the NBA partnership provided a steady stream of samples, it also produced a study population that was overwhelmingly young, healthy, and male, and therefore not representative of the public at large.

It was also conducted before the rise of Omicron, the latest variant of concern. While it's not yet clear whether Omicron is more infectious or virulent than Delta, more research is needed to see how well our vaccines fend it off.

Nevertheless, the findings support what Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US's top infectious disease expert, said last summer: that vaccinated people are "less likely" to spread the virus. Previous studies have also found that vaccinated people typically experience shorter, milder symptoms if they are infected, as well as a faster pace of clearing the virus, all of which points to a narrower window for transmission.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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How to see all your YouTube subscribers on a computer or phone

young man using laptop computer at home headphones
It only takes a few clicks to find your YouTube subscribers.

With over 500 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, it's hard to stand out from the crowd. So if you do start to attract some subscribers, it's good to keep track of them. Not only does it let you see how fast you're growing, but seeing who's subscribed is great for planning new video ideas.

You can see a full list of all your YouTube subscribers on the website, and see how many subscribers you have on both the website and mobile app. Here's how to do each.

How to see your YouTube subscribers on the website

1. Log into your YouTube account on the website and click on your profile photo in the top-right corner of your screen. 

2. Click the YouTube Studio option.

The YouTube homepage, with the YouTube Studio option highlighted.
Open your account's YouTube Studio.

3. Underneath the Channel analytics heading, you'll see a count of how many subscribers you have.

4. Scroll down to the Recent subscribers box and click See all. A pop-up with all of your subscribers will appear, and you can sort it by the date they subscribed, how many subscribers they have, and more.

A YouTube Studio page with the user's recent subscribers listed.
You'll be shown your last few subscribers right away.

Note that if a subscriber's made their profile private, they won't show up here.

How to see your YouTube subscribers on mobile

That complete list of all your subscribers is only available on the YouTube website, which you can open on your phone in a web browser app.

In the YouTube mobile app, though, you can only see how many subscribers you have, not a list of who they are. Here's how to do that. 

1. Open the YouTube app and tap your profile icon in the top-right corner, then select Your channel.

The options menu in the YouTube mobile app, with the "Your channel" option highlighted.
Head to your public YouTube channel.

2. On your channel, your YouTube subscriber count will be displayed next to your user icon and beneath your name.

A YouTube channel. Its subscriber count is highlighted.
Your subscriber count is under your username.

Jennifer Still contributed to a previous version of this article.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Tesla's move to Texas from California is officially complete

Construction site of the Tesla Gigafactory in Austin, Texas.
Construction site of the Tesla Gigafactory in Austin, Texas.
  • Tesla is now officially a Texas company, according to a regulatory filing Wednesday.
  • The move is part of CEO Elon Musk's ongoing breakup with the Golden State.
  • Musk stands to save an estimated $2.5 billion in moving his life and business to Austin.

It's official: Tesla is now a Texas company.

The electric automaker announced the move on Wednesday in a filing with the US Securities Exchange Corporation.

"On December 1, 2021, Tesla, Inc. relocated its corporate headquarters to Gigafactory Texas at 13101 Harold Green Road, Austin, Texas 78725," it said.

The shift brings Tesla closer to its sister company, SpaceX, and is part of CEO Elon Musk's big breakup with the Bay Area. Tesla first began using Austin as the dateline in press releases in October. 

One likely contributing factor behind the move is the fact that Musk stands to save an estimated $2.5 billion in capital gains taxes by moving his residence and business from California to Texas.

In spite of Tesla's new manufacturing presence in the Lone Star State, franchise laws prohibit the company from selling cars directly to customers, which it does in most other states.

The Gigafactory in Austin is expected to employ 5,000 workers at the 2,100-acre facility, where it plans to build the Cybertruck and other models. It's set to open this year. 

On Monday, Musk promised an update to the much-delayed Cybertruck's availability in January.

"Oh man, this year has been such a supply chain nightmare & it's not over!," he tweeted. "I will provide an updated product roadmap on next earnings call."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Convict at center of the US Navy bribery ring now claims he secretly recorded naval officers with sex workers he paid for

The US Navy has been rocked by a bribery scandal that began in 7th Fleet.
The US Navy has been rocked by a bribery scandal that began in 7th Fleet.
  • In a new podcast, "Fat Leonard" says he secretly video-taped Navy officers with sex workers he paid for. 
  • Leonard Glenn Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to providing Navy personnel with over $500,000 in bribes, luxury travel, entertainment, and the service of sex workers. 
  • The podcast marks the first time Francis has spoken publicly and outside of a courtroom about the scandal that rocked the US Navy. 

Leonard Glenn Francis, the former Malaysian businessman at the heart of the bribery and corruption scandal that rocked the U.S. Navy, now claims he secretly videotaped Navy officers with sex workers he paid for. 

"Fat Leonard," as he was known to military contacts across Southeast Asia, spoke publicly about the scandal for the first time in a new podcast of the same name. In the nine-part podcast, which aired its final episode last week, Francis offers new revelations on the scandal which led to the indictment of dozens of military officials.

In 2015, Francis pleaded guilty to providing members of the Navy with over $500,000 in bribes, luxury travel, entertainment and the service of sex workers but has yet to be sentenced. While doling out these bribes, Francis' company, Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia, or GDMA, was given port servicing contracts for the US Navy across Southeast Asia. 

He is set to appear as a star witness for the prosecution in the criminal trial of six naval officers expected to begin in early 2022.

Last week, a federal judge in San Diego authorized the defense team in that trial to subpoena Audiation, the podcast's New York-based production company, for all the recordings from "Fat Leonard," according to a report from the San Diego Union Tribune

For those who have closely followed the "Fat Leonard" scandal, the podcast largely repeats previously unearthed details about the case. But in one episode, Francis claims he kept secretly recorded videotapes of sex between Navy officers and sex workers he'd paid for. 

"I'm not making porn," Francis said on the podcast. "It's always great to see people when they're drunk, what they're capable of doing." 

Insider was unable to verify the existence or location of any tapes. If they were made, it's possible Francis could have used these tapes as additional leverage to get naval officers to do things that would further increase his firm's profits. Francis, for his part, claimed he never used them as blackmail because he already had these officers "in his pocket."

Francis told host Tom Wright, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, that the podcast was his chance to tell his life story. 

Francis is out of federal prison and under house arrest in San Diego because he is suffering from kidney cancer, according to records of a deposition given by Francis in 2018 and obtained by the San Diego Union Tribune. 

The podcast reveals that Francis is also living with his three children. The mother of two of those children told the podcast's host she hasn't been allowed to see them or know their whereabouts since 2013, despite court orders from two countries designating her as custodian. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Facebook launched an online program in marketing analytics that aims to get beginners job-ready in 5 months — here's why it can be a good lower-cost option


Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Facebook logo on digital certificate themed background (facebook marketing analytics program)

Whether you're looking to switch careers — or enhance your current one — Facebook's new Marketing Analytics Professional Certificate program is built to teach you in-demand skills in five months or less.

This early career program teaches students marketing analytics skills to take them from beginner to job-ready in five months.

Offered through the online learning platform Coursera, the program includes six courses and requires no prior knowledge in the subject. Students learn how data informs marketing decisions as well as how to effectively approach common analytical questions and use essential analytics tools — skills that can be applied to a range of careers, from becoming a marketing analyst to boosting a personal business.

The program was designed in collaboration with marketing analytics experts at Aptly and Facebook, including Anke Audenaert, CEO and co-founder of Aptly and an adjunct professor at UCLA.

A Coursera lecturer speaking in an online learning video
Anke Audenaert, one of the instructors in the Facebook Marketing Analytics Professional Certification program, is the CEO and Co-Founder of Aptly. Audenaert is a trained psychologist who completed her master's in Consumer Behavior and Marketing.

How much does the Facebook Marketing Analytics program cost?

Coursera offers a seven-day free trial and then charges $49 per month to continue learning. (The program is estimated to take around five months, which theoretically puts the bill at $245 total).

If $49/month is too steep, you can also try applying for financial aid

If you don't need access to every feature or certificate, you can also audit the program for free by clicking on each individual course and hitting the "Enroll for Free" button. Once you do, you'll see a pop-up that has "audit the course" in small print in the lower-left corner.

A Coursera module explaining the company's free trial terms
Audit the course by clicking "Enroll for Free" and clicking on the small font in the lower lefthand corner. (Note: This means you won't get an official certificate at the end).

Despite it being taught by Facebook, the Marketing Analytics program isn't designed solely around Facebook's tools. Students also work on building foundational skills such as applying a marketing analytics framework and using Python programming and Tableau. 

You can scan all the courses and their syllabi here.

An example of a Coursera lecture model titled "Evaluating Marketing outcomes with Google Analytics"
You'll learn a range of foundational marketing analytics skills through short videos, quizzes, and projects.

What credentials do you get if you finish the program? 

The Facebook Marketing Analytics Professional Certificate program, as the name suggests, awards you a certificate of completion when you successfully finish the program, which you can add to your LinkedIn profile and your resume.

The final course also prepares you for the Facebook Marketing Science Certification Exam, which is only accessible to people who've successfully completed all five earlier courses.

Throughout the program, you'll also apply your skills to Applied Learning Projects — which may be useful for interviews or in a portfolio. Students participate in projects on topics that range from using Python to sort data to visualizing results through Tableau. 

Lastly, upon completion, students also get access to the Facebook Certification Career Network — a job search platform with 130+ top employers looking for skilled talent.

The bottom line

If you're looking for a relatively cost-effective, comprehensive way to learn and demonstrate foundational Marketing Analytics skills, this is a solid option to consider.

Enroll in a free seven-day trial here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Square changes name to Block just 2 days after Jack Dorsey steps down from Twitter

Jack Dorsey appears at a bitcoin convention on June 4, 2021 in Miami, Florida.
Jack Dorsey onstage at a bitcoin convention on June 4, 2021 in Miami, Florida.
  • Square Inc., Jack Dorsey's financial services company, is changing its name to Block. 
  • The move comes days after Dorsey announced his departure from Twitter.
  • Dorsey has directed Square toward ventures in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. 

Square, the online financial services company co-founded by Jack Dorsey, is changing its name to Block.

The corporate rebrand, announced Wednesday, comes mere days after Dorsey announced he would step down as CEO of Twitter, which he co-founded 15 years ago. The name change, which will go into effect legally on December 10, comes as Square moves into areas aside from its initial card-reader business. 

"The change to Block acknowledges the company's growth. Since its start in 2009, the company has added Cash App, TIDAL, and TBD54566975 as businesses, and the name change creates room for further growth," the company said.

"Not to get all meta on you… but we're going to!" the company wrote on Twitter. "Block references the neighborhood blocks where we find our sellers, a blockchain, block parties full of music, obstacles to overcome, a section of code, building blocks, and of course, tungsten cubes."

Founded in 2009, Square started out by selling a credit-card reader that allowed individuals and businesses to accept payments using a smartphone. It has since expanded into other ventures, including ones focused on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

American corporations could pay to vaccinate the world 10 times over with just their extra profits from 2021

People hold their plaster patches after being administered doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Narathiwat Hospital compound in the southern province of Narathiwat on June 7, 2021, as mass vaccination rollouts begin in Thailand.
People hold their plaster patches after being administered doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Narathiwat Hospital compound in the southern province of Narathiwat on June 7, 2021, as mass vaccination rollouts begin in Thailand.
  • Vaccinating the world would cost roughly $50 billion, according to the OECD's chief economist.
  • That's less than a tenth of the extra profits US companies have made in 2021 thanks to the vaccine-fueled recovery.
  • The sum could also be covered by the US's richest citizens or from its massive military budget.

Getting every human being vaccinated against COVID-19 would be expensive, but it would prevent further mutations like Omicron from developing and threatening the economic recovery — and life as we know it.

It would also cost just a fraction of corporate America's extra profits in 2021.

The emergence of the Omicron variant has governments doubling down on calls to get the whole world vaccinated, yet developing countries are still struggling to get shots in arms and put the pandemic behind them. 

The price tag could be as low as $50 billion, Laurence Boone, chief economist at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, said in a Wednesday interview on Bloomberg TV. The sum is "completely disproportionate" to the $10 trillion that Group of 20 countries have deployed in stimulus through the pandemic, she added.

It would also be a drop in the bucket for the US corporations that have benefitted from domestic vaccine rollouts. Corporate profits have grown by $577 billion in 2021 so far. Much of the gains have been driven by the US economic reopening, which began early in the year as vaccines were approved and distributed. Vaccination sparked a wave of spending as Americans unleashed pent-up demand, and those sales boosted companies' earnings.

If US corporations banded together, they could vaccinate the entire world with less than one-tenth of their extra profits from the year-to-date.

Even US companies' quarterly stock buybacks easily surpass the $50 billion cost. Companies in the S&P 500 are likely to spend more than $224 billion on share repurchase programs over the three months that ended in September, Reuters reported on November 2, citing data from S&P Dow Jones Indices. That would be a record high for quarterly buybacks and easily enough to vaccinate the world four times over.

The US government could easily swing the bill as well. The federal government is slated to spend more than $6 trillion in fiscal 2022, according to the White House's budget proposal. Cutting just a sliver from that total could pay for global vaccination.

For example, the House Armed Services Committee revealed in September plans to spend roughly $778 billion on the military in fiscal 2022. That's enough to vaccinate the world nearly 16 times over.


Even the $37.5 billion increase to military spending from last year's budget could cover three-quarters of a global vaccine drive.

The richest Americans could save the world on their own, too. The $50 billion price tag is roughly one-fourth of Jeff Bezos's net worth as of Wednesday afternoon, and only 16% of Elon Musk's wealth. The Tesla CEO's wealth has surged by $142 billion in 2021 so far. That could cover the vaccination cost and leave him with more than $90 billion left over.

Musk has already indicated he's open to spending big for humanitarian efforts. The chief executive said in October he would spend $6 billion to solve world hunger, as long as the World Food Programme could show its math and prove the amount would end the crisis. Musk hasn't made the donation yet.

Ponying up the cash would help remedy one of the biggest snags in the global recovery. The world economy has bounced back through 2021 as vaccination and reopening revives spending. Yet advanced countries have counted for the bulk of the recovery while emerging economies struggle to keep up. Helping these lagging countries is critical to bringing about a strong global economy, OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said in a Wednesday statement.

"Keeping the recovery strong and on track will entail addressing a number of imbalances, but above all it will mean managing the health crisis through better international coordination, improving health systems and massively stepping up vaccination programmes worldwide," he said.

Yes, $50 billion is a difficult pile of cash to conceptualize for the average Americans. But there are plenty of avenues for scrounging up the cash, and a big one is the corporate profits that were enabled by the relatively successful US-based vaccine drive.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The top 9 shows on Netflix last month, including 'Squid Game' and 'You'

Squid Game guards in their pink hoodies
"Squid Game."
  • Every Tuesday, Netflix updates the website top10.netflix.com with its most popular titles of the previous week.
  • The lists are based on the number of hours viewed that week.
  • Insider calculated the most watched TV shows during November based on their total hours watched during the month, according to Netflix's data.
  • Two Korean-language series, "Squid Game" and "Hellbound," were popular in November. The former is Netflix's biggest show of all time.
  • The only non-Netflix original on the list is The CW's "Dynasty."
9. "Locke and Key" season two — 63.36 million hours
locke and key

Description: "After their dad's murder, three siblings move with their mom to his ancestral estate, where they discover magical keys that unlock powers — and secrets."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 80%

What critics said: "Thanks to this pair of treasonous teenagers, Locke & Key deftly avoids the sophomore season slump, and actually builds on the suspense attached to the potential and menace in Keyhouse." — AV Club

8. "Dynasty" season four — 78.69 million hours

Description: "The Carringtons and the Colbys feud for control over their fortune — and their children — in this updated reboot of the classic prime-time soap."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: "Having to cut down on the theatrics and focus on the characters has really made for interesting content, character exploration, and some of the series' best stories." — Collider

7. "Arcane: League of Legends" season one — 102.25 million hours

Description: "Amid the stark discord of twin cities Piltover and Zaun, two sisters fight on rival sides of a war between magic technologies and clashing convictions."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 100%

What critics said: "What really elevates the show's solid storytelling is its transcendent animation." — Time Magazine

6. "The Queen of Flow" season two — 107.67 million hours
the queen of flow

Description: "Seventeen years after being wrongly imprisoned, a talented songwriter seeks justice against the men who caused her downfall and killed her family."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: N/A

5. "Hellbound" season one — 111.0 million hours

Description: "Unearthly beings deliver bloody condemnations, sending individuals to hell and giving rise to a religious group founded on the idea of divine justice."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 100%

What critics said: "A fascinating entry into stories about faith, while not having a self-seriousness to its ideas. The wrath monster trio might be absurd, but the madness within Hellbound is extremely believable." — RogerEbert.com

4. "Maid" (limited series) — 115.18 million hours
maid netflix

Description: "After fleeing an abusive relationship, a young mother finds a job cleaning houses as she fights to provide for her child and build them a better future."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93%

What critics said: "The Netflix miniseries illustrates the endless Catch-22 poor people in America face." — The Ringer

3. "Narcos: Mexico" season three — 123.41 million hours
narcos mexico

Description: "Witness the birth of the Mexican drug war in the 1980s as a gritty new 'Narcos' saga chronicles the true story of the Guadalajara cartel's ascent."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 100%

What critics said: "The third and final season of the Netflix series comes equipped with a new showrunner in Carlo Bernard and plenty of chaotic shootouts, double crosses, and narrative twists." — The Daily Beast

2. "You" season three — 126.84 million hours
Joe and Love in couples therapy - you season 3

Description: "A dangerously charming, intensely obsessive young man goes to extreme measures to insert himself into the lives of those he is transfixed by."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94%

What critics said: "You is a sly guilty pleasure as such things go. Joe's prolific and wry inner dialogue narrates and critiques the action, ensuring that we see him as weird, funny, appealing, carnal, sexy and menacing." — Salon

1. "Squid Game" season one — 163.93 million hours
Squid Game

Description: "Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children's games. Inside, a tempting prize awaits — with deadly high stakes."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94%

What critics said: "For the most part, writer-director Hwang Dong-hyuk's mix of high and low elements like that works incredibly well." — Rolling Stone

Read the original article on Business Insider

An Airbus A340 aircraft just landed on Antarctica for the first time ever — see the history of aviation on the 7th continent

The first Airbus A340 to land on Antarctica.
The first Airbus A340 to land on Antarctica.
  • An Airbus A340 made history in November when it became the first jet of its type to land on Antarctica.
  • The South Pole has a long history of aviation that has contributed to the exploration of the continent.
  • A number of airliners, military planes, turboprops, and luxury jets have landed on the polar tundra since 1956.
Airlines operate regularly scheduled service to nearly every corner of the globe across six continents, connecting people to remote islands, deserts, and tundras. However, the 7th continent has proven difficult to reach, though a number of aircraft have successfully made the trek.
Winter kayaking in Antarctica.
Winter kayaking in Antarctica.
Antarctica is the world's least populated continent and is typically home to about 4,400 people in the summer and only 1,000 in the winter. The inhabitants are settled on the continent's many research stations and tourist camps, which are regularly supplied by chartered cargo jets.
Port Lockroy research station in Antarctica.
Port Lockroy research station in Antarctica.

Source: World Population Review

On November 2, 2021, the first-ever Airbus A340 aircraft made the journey down to the White Continent, marking a historical feat. The plane flew from Cape Town, South Africa, and flew 2,500 nautical miles (2,877 miles) to Antarctica in five and a half hours.
The first Airbus A340 to land on Antarctica.
The first Airbus A340 to land on Antarctica.

Source: Hi Fly

The jet, which was operated by Portugal-based Hi Fly and chartered by luxury campsite Wolf's Fang, carried supplies for the latter's upscale adventure camp located on the South Pole. The plane carried enough fuel to make the journey to Antarctica and back.
The first Airbus A340 to land on Antarctica.
The first Airbus A340 to land on Antarctica.

Source: White Desert, Hi Fly

According to Carlos Mirpuri, Hi Fly's vice president and the Captain of the historic flight, the 3,000-meter (9843-foot) glacial runway had special grooving to help the jet brake easier, though landing the heavy bird was not a problem. However, the reflective blue ice created a glare during landing.
The first Airbus A340 to land on Antarctica.
The first Airbus A340 to land on Antarctica.

Source: Hi Fly

"The reflection is tremendous, and proper eyewear helps you adjust your eyes between the outside view and the instrumentation. The non-flying pilot has an important role in making the usual plus extra callouts, especially in the late stages of the approach," Mirpuri said.
The first Airbus A340 to land on Antarctica.
The first Airbus A340 to land on Antarctica.

Source: Hi Fly

Despite the glare, the landing was smooth. "We flew a textbook approach to an uneventful landing, and aircraft performed exactly as planned, Mirpuri said. "When we reached taxi speed I could hear a round of applause from the cabin. We were joyful. After all, we were writing history."
The first Airbus A340 to land on Antarctica.
The first Airbus A340 to land on Antarctica.
Hi Fly's historic flight was just the latest addition to the long history of aviation in Antarctica. In 1928, Australian military pilot George Hubert Wilkins flew a Lockheed vega 1 monoplane from Deception Island in the South Shetland Islands over Antarctica in the first recorded flight to the 7th continent.
Australian polar explorer Sir George Hubert Wilkins.
Australian polar explorer Sir George Hubert Wilkins.

Source: BBC

Wilkins was accompanied by co-pilot Carl Ben Eielson and the two spent four and a half hours crossing 1,000 miles of the previously unchartered Antarctic area, dropping a flag and document to claim the land for King George V of the United Kingdom.
Document written by Sir Hubert Wilkins outlining claim for Australia at Walkabout Rocks.
Document written by Sir Hubert Wilkins outlining claim for Australia at Walkabout Rocks.

Source: BBC

"For the first time in history, new land was being discovered in the air," Wilkins wrote about the journey.
Sir George Hubert Wilkins' Lockheed Vega.
Sir George Hubert Wilkins' Lockheed Vega.

Source: BBC

William Randolph Hearst, the American newspaper publishing millionaire, funded the project. Flights like these were how worldwide researchers and scientists learned about Antarctica's topography.
Expeditioners reading Sir Hubert Wilkins’ proclamation at Wilkins Cairn.
Expeditioners reading Sir Hubert Wilkins’ proclamation at Wilkins Cairn.

Source: BBC

When Australia claimed the title of the first explorers to fly over Antarctica, an American navy man and aviator set out to best his feat. In January 1929, Richard Byrd's "million-dollar expedition" set out for the South Pole carrying three aircraft and setting up the first "Little America" naval base.
Richard Byrd visits Little America in 1933.
Richard Byrd visits Little America in 1933.

Source: BBC

However, Byrd did not fly during his first expedition to Antarctica, worrying his Ford Trimotor plane was too heavy and unreliable. Nevertheless, with determination to beat his rival Wilkins he set out on November 28, 1929, for the South Pole.
Richard Byrd posing next to the plane he used on his expedition to the South Pole.
Richard Byrd posing next to the plane he used on his expedition to the South Pole.

Source: BBC

Byrd successfully flew across the Ross Ice Shelf and narrowed climbed above the Liv Glacier to the High Polar Plateau during his journey. He dropped a US flag onto the Antarctic tundra, and his achievements far-outmatched Wilkins. After his success, he vowed to return to the polar region.
Richard Byrd in the cockpit of the second aircraft he flew over Antarctica.
Richard Byrd in the cockpit of the second aircraft he flew over Antarctica.

Source: BBC

After a few follow-up expeditions in the 1930s, Admiral Byrd launched Operation Highjump in 1946, sending 13 ships and 33 aircraft to the White Continent for exploration, research, mapping, American territorial sovereignty, and naval preparedness for Antarctic warfare.
Dr. Paul A. Siple and Admiral Byrd during Operation Highjump.
Dr. Paul A. Siple and Rear Admiral Byrd during Operation Highjump.

Source: BBC

It was the largest expedition in history to the continent, though no planes landed on the ice.
Admiral Richard Byrd at his accommodation in Little America during Operation Highjump.
Admiral Richard Byrd at his accommodation in Little America during Operation Highjump.

Source: BBC

While the exploration of the polar wasteland started with "mapping wars," which led to the need for control over the territory, eventually the focus turned to scientific research.
Antarctic expeditioners.
Antarctic expeditioners.

Source: BBC

In 1955, the US Navy launched Operation Deep Freeze to assist the National Science Foundation in its participation in the International Geophysical Year. IGY was a 67-country collaborative scientific project that lasted from July 1, 1957, to December 31, 1958, and studied topics like Antarctic weather, marine life, and glacial systems.
The USS Arneb, the flagship of the Operation Deep Freeze task force.
The USS Arneb, the flagship of the Operation Deep Freeze task force.

Source: BBC, National Guard

As part of its preparations, the US Navy managed to accomplish what many had thought was impossible — landing an aircraft on the Antarctic ice. In October 1956, an R4D-5 Douglas Skytrain touched down on the South Pole for the first time ever.
The R4D-5 Skytrain is parked at the South Pole behind the American flag after landing at the South Pole in 1956.
The R4D-5 Skytrain is parked at the South Pole behind the American flag after landing at the South Pole in 1956.

Source: BBC

After the historic landing, a new era of science took off with nearly 70 nations participating in the IGY between 1957 and 1958. After the strong year, the Treaty of Antarctica was signed in which 12 countries committed to peace, science, and research on the continent, though there are 54 parties today.
Flags of the original 12 signatory nations of the Antarctic Treaty.
Flags of the original 12 signatory nations of the Antarctic Treaty.

Source: BBC

"Aviation helped to confirm the ice-covered nature of Antarctica, which arguably contributed to a willingness to compromise in the Antarctic Treaty because there was little immediate prospect for economic gain," Adrian Howkins, a reader in environmental history at the University of Bristol, said.
Australian DHC-2 Beaver flying over Mt Henderson in 1959.
Australian DHC-2 Beaver flying over Mt Henderson in 1959.

Source: BBC

A number of aircraft have visited the White Continent since the first landing in 1956, like British Antarctic Survey's fleet of De Havilland Canada Twin Otters and Dash-7s started science flights to the frozen south in 1994.
A British Antarctic Survey aircraft in Antarctica.
A British Antarctic Survey aircraft in Antarctica.

Source: British Antarctic Survey

Meanwhile, the US Navy launched later versions of Operation Deep Freeze, sending to Antarctica a USAF C-124 Globemaster...
US Air Force C-124 Globemaster on Antarctica.
US Air Force C-124 Globemaster on Antarctica.

Source: National Naval Aviation Museum

A Lockheed P-2 Neptune...
US Navy P2V Neptune in Antarctica.
US Navy P2V Neptune in Antarctica.

Source: National Naval Aviation Museum

A De Havilland U-1 Otter...
U-1 Otter emerges from the maw of a C-124.
U-1 Otter emerges from the maw of a C-124.

Source: National Naval Aviation Museum

An R5D Skymaster...
US Navy workhorse, an R5D Skymaster.
US Navy workhorse, an R5D Skymaster.

Source: National Naval Aviation Museum

An R4D Skytrain...
US Navy R4D Skytrain on Antarctica.
US Navy R4D Skytrain on Antarctica.

Source: National Naval Aviation Museum

And a pontooned helicopter.
US Navy pontooned helicopter.
US Navy pontooned helicopter.

Source: National Naval Aviation Museum

Other military aircraft have also landed on the continent, including the Royal New Zealand Air Force's Boeing 757, which first landed in 2009 and continues to operate supply flights each year.
Royal Air New Zealand Boeing 757 jet on Antarctica.
Royal Air New Zealand Boeing 757 jet on Antarctica.

Source: Simple Flying

Although there is no regularly scheduled service to Antarctica, a handful of airlines have touched down on the polar wasteland, including Swiss airline PrivatAir which flew the first Boeing 737 to the continent in 2012.
PrivatAir Boeing 737 on Antarctica.
PrivatAir Boeing 737 on Antarctica.

Source: South Pole Station

Meanwhile, Icelandair's sister carrier Loftleider Icelandic Airlines was the first airline to land a commercial flight on Antarctica in 2015.
The first ever landing of a commercial Boeing 757 passenger airliner by Loftleidir Icelandic.
The first-ever landing of a commercial Boeing 757 passenger airliner by Loftleidir Icelandic.

Source: Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions

The company ferried 60 tourists on a Boeing 757 to Union Glacier on behalf of Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions ALE. The purpose of both PrivatAir and Loftleider's journeys was to see if airliners could successfully transport people and cargo to Antarctica.
The first-ever landing of a commercial Boeing 757 passenger airliner by Loftleidir Icelandic.
The first-ever landing of a commercial Boeing 757 passenger airliner by Loftleidir Icelandic.

Source: Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions, South Pole Station

Between 2019 and 2020, Titan Airways flew two aircraft to the southern-most continent. The first was a Boeing 767 to Russia's Antarctic station, Novolazarevskaya, which landed several times on a 3,000-meter (9,843-foot) runway made of blue ice...
Titan Airways' Boeing 767 on Antarctica.
Titan Airways' Boeing 767 on Antarctica.

Source: Simple Flying

And an all-business Boeing 757 carrying World Marathon Challenge participants. The landing gear was modified with extended legs to absorb the shock of the ice.
Inside Titan Airways' Boeing 757.
Inside Titan Airways' Boeing 757.

Source: Simple Flying

In February 2021, Icelandair made the trek with a Boeing 767 to pick up a group of Norwegian scientists from the Troll airfield in Antarctica. The flight involved a lot of planning due to the treacherous conditions on the continent and required six pilots, 13 crew, and one flight engineer to man the journey.
Icelandair Boeing 767 in Antarctica.
Icelandair Boeing 767 in Antarctica.

Source: Icelandair

To land on Antarctica, aircraft navigate to one of 50 icy runways designated on the icy tundra, though none are actual airports. Two notable ones are the Phoenix Runway and Williams Field's skiway.
LC-130s on Wiliams Field skiway in Antarctica.
LC-130s on Williams Field skiway in Antarctica.

Source: National Science Foundation

In addition to airline and military operations, there are several countries and organizations that fly planes to the South Pole for tourism or scientific research.
Scientists collect meteorites from a glacial moraine at the base of Mt. Ward, Antarctica.
Scientists collect meteorites from a glacial moraine at the base of Mt. Ward, Antarctica.
Australia's Antarctic Division ferries expeditioners and equipment from the country to Antarctica. It flies an Airbus A319...
Australian Antarctic Division A319 passenger flight.
Australian Antarctic Division A319 passenger flight.

Source: Australian Antarctic Division

And Royal Australian Air Force C-17As.
Australian Royal Air Force C17-A Globemaster.
Australian Royal Air Force C17-A Globemaster.

Source: Australian Antarctic Division

The National Science Foundation, founded in 1959, also regularly operates polar-modified LC-130 Hercules, Twin Otters and Baslers, helicopters, and the US Air Force's C-17 between Antarctica and two main gateways, including Christchurch, New Zealand, and Puntas Arenas, Chile. The operation is part of the US Antarctic Program.
Three year-round US research stations in Antarctica that are part of the program.
Three year-round US research stations in Antarctica that are part of the program.

Source: National Science Foundation

The LC-130 Hercules was introduced into the military's Antarctic program in 1960 and has specially made ski-equipped landing gear for landing on the ice.
LC-130 airplanes near McMurdo Station.
LC-130 airplanes near McMurdo Station.

Source: National Science Foundation

The De Havilland Twin Otter and Basler turboprops are used for domestic flights within Antarctica. They can carry cargo and land on either ice or snow.
Twin Otter on Antarctica.
Twin Otter on Antarctica.

Source: National Science Foundation

Four helicopters are used in Antarctica, including two AS-350-B2 "A-Stars" and two Bell 212s.
NSF Helicopter.
NSF Helicopter.

Source: National Science Foundation

Meanwhile, a C-17 carries the bulk of passengers and cargo between Christchurch, New Zealand, and McMurdo Station each summer. The giant jet can carry approximately 121,254 pounds.
US Air Force C-17 on Antarctica.
US Air Force C-17 on Antarctica.

Source: National Science Foundation

Canada-based Kenn Borek Air flies Twin Otters in support of US Antarctic Program science and in 2016 flew a rescue mission to the seventh continent to evacuate two people at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station who were in need of medical help.
Kenn Borek rescue mission aircraft.
Kenn Borek rescue mission aircraft.

Source: National Science Foundation

A number of tour operators also fly to the South Pole, like Ice Trek, which flies an Ilyushin-76 from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Union Glacier, Antarctica.
Icetrek's Ilyushin-76 on Antarctica.
Icetrek's Ilyushin-76 on Antarctica.

Source: Icetrek

And White Desert, the operator of the luxury campsite on the tundra, which operates a Gulfstream 550 between Cape Town and Antarctica. According to the company, the plane makes the journey in five hours flying at .85 Mach.
White Desert Gulfstream 550.
White Desert Gulfstream 550.

Source: White Desert

Antarctica's history of aviation is just beginning as airlines and countries continue to push the boundaries of the southern tundra in the name of science and exploration.
Royal NZ Air Force aircraft on Antarctica.
Royal NZ Air Force aircraft on Antarctica.
Read the original article on Business Insider

Here are 5 of the weirdest music trends of the year, according to Spotify Wrapped

A green image that says "Ready for your 2021 Wrapped?"
  • Spotify just dropped Wrapped, its annual roundup of top-streamed songs, artists, genres, and podcasts. 
  • The report highlighted some particularly bizarre trends this year, including playlists for plants. 
  • Here are some of the weirdest music trends of 2021, based on Spotify Wrapped findings. 

It's that time of year again, when Spotify listeners flock to the app to pore over their most-streamed songs and top artists. 

The music streamer released Spotify Wrapped on Wednesday, its annual report featuring personalized roundups of top songs, artists, genres, and podcasts, as well as wider analyses of trends across its millions of listeners. While findings like the world's most-streamed artists — which included Bad Bunny, Taylor Swift, and BTS in 2021 — may be unsurprising, other trends are raising an eyebrow or two. 

From songs for plants to alien-inspired playlists, here are some of the most bizarre music trends this year, based on findings from Spotify. 

Sea shanties topped the charts

Data from Spotify describing the popularity of sea shanties in 2021.

After sea shanties went viral on TikTok earlier this year, Spotify listeners were quick to compile playlists with their favorite tunes — compiling more than 187,000 sea shanty-related playlists, to be exact. 

The shanty "Wellerman," by British folk musical group, The Longest Johns, was one of the most popular shanties added by listeners, according to Spotify. 

"Sea shanty Tok" quickly became a massive trend online as TikTok users around the world starting singing the seafaring songs in videos. Although some have said that "Wellerman" is not actually a shanty, the trend brought awareness to the history of the genre, which consists of folks songs traditionally performed by fishermen, whalers, and sailors. 

Listeners made playlists for The Final Frontier ...

Spotify data on playlists about aliens, UFOs, and space from Spotify Wrapped 2021.

Spotify users generated more than 25.5 million playlists related to aliens, UFOs, and space during the period from March to May 2021, according to Spotify. 

The rise of the playlists came as aliens appeared frequently in the news this spring, including a "60 Minutes" segment in which US Navy pilots discussed about their alleged encounters with UFOs, as well as an investigative piece about UFOs and the Pentagon written by The New Yorker's Gideon Lewis-Kraus.

The rise of the playlists also reflected the continued popularity of science fiction movies and television shows in recent years, especially as viewers looked for escapist content during the pandemic.

And while a government report was released in June dismissing the likelihood of aliens, some things can still not be explained.

... and also for their plants.

Spotify Wrapped 2021 data on playlists for plants.

Followers of the Spotify original playlist, "Music for Plants," grew by 1,400% in 2021 as listeners looked to flex their green thumbs during the pandemic. Meanwhile, Spotify users themselves created more than 2.9 million playlists related to plants and gardening this year, according to data from the app. 

Popular plant-related songs featured on these playlists included "Ivy" by Frank Ocean and "Garden (Say It Like Day)" by SZA.

Astrology-themed playlists hit the charts

Spotify Wrapped 2021 data on astrology playlists.

As astrology continues to explode in popularity, it was reflected in music and audio preferences in 2021, according to Spotify.

Astrology became a billion-dollar industry during the pandemic, and as a result, Spotify users created over 10 million horoscope and astrology-themed playlists. 

Spotify also launched a more personalized listening experience this year called Only You. The feature, which launched in June, creates "audio birth charts" based on user listening habits and curates statistics for users of the streaming app to view and share.

Vaccine playlists became a trend this year

Spotify wrapped 2021 data on COVID-19 vaccine playlists.

As coronavirus vaccines became widely available to the public earlier this year, Spotify users decided to get creative and create playlists inspired by the shots, according to the app.

Spotify listeners streamed more than 42 million vaccine-related playlists this year, featuring songs like Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "The Cure" by Lady Gaga.


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Facebook, now Meta, says China created a fake Swiss scientist to spread conspiracies that the US was falsely blaming it for COVID-19

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the US Senate
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the US Senate
  • Meta revealed that a COVID disinformation campaign sprouted on Facebook this past summer.
  • A fake Swiss biologist, Wilson Edwards, spread lies that the US was pushing the WHO to blame COVID-19 on China.
  • Many of the accounts sharing the claims were fake, but some were real Chinese state employees.

A fake Swiss biologist named Wilson Edwards — who sought to convince the world that the United States was attempting to blame the COVID-19 pandemic on China — was actually the Chinese government, Facebook said Wednesday. 

The claims were allowed to spread from July 24 to August 10, and stories of the US' "intimidation" were picked up across global social media and Chinese state media outlets like the Global Times and People's Daily, the company, now known as Meta, said in its yearly adversarial threat report.

It wasn't until Aug. 10 that Facebook took Edwards' account down after the Beijing-based Swiss Embassy confirmed there was no record of a citizen named Wilson Edwards. 

The account was created just 12 hours before it started posting its fake claims on both Facebook and Twitter. The disinformation campaign that ensued "was a hall of mirrors, endlessly reflecting a single fake persona" that sprouted in China itself, Meta said. 

The account claimed that WHO sources and researchers had complained about pressure and intimidation from the US regarding the agency's plans to study where and how the coronavirus disease originated. There is still no official scientific consensus on exactly where and how COVID-19 originated, a topic that has become contentious and political.

"Our investigation uncovered that almost the entire initial spread of the "Wilson Edwards" story on our platform was inauthentic — the work of a multi-pronged, largely unsuccessful influence operation that originated in China," Meta said.

The company said there was a network of accounts amplifying the fake news, many of which were inauthentic, but some were real and belonged to "employees of Chinese state infrastructure companies" across the globe, including in mainland China.

Meta said this is the first time it has discovered an operation that "included a coordinated cluster of state employees to amplify itself in this way." The company emphasized repeatedly, however, that there was no "noticeable authentic engagement" due to the inauthentic amplification efforts, and the false claims were mainly elevated by Chinese state media.

The fake biologist was just one of a series of accounts from around the world that were negatively impacting users and society, Meta said. In November alone, the company said it removed accounts and linked suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior to the Belarusian KGB, as well as other incidents in Vietnam, Poland, and Palestine.

The report also comes amidst mounting public pressure against Meta over what critics say is harm posed to society from its various social platforms. 

The company has been accused of facilitating the spread of misinformation, including lies about COVID-19 and vaccines, as well as elections and other issues. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best pre-lit artificial Christmas trees in 2021


Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Image of a balsam hill pre lit tree next to stars and a toy truck for best pre lit christmas trees 2021

Growing up on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains, our Christmas tree came straight from our woods. 

That magical experience waned when I moved farther south, where the weather could be 80 degrees as I picked out a semi-live tree from a lot and tried to secure it to the top of a compact car. The final death knell rang the year I could not get the tree into the stand and ended up trying to whittle the trunk with a screwdriver and a hammer. It was time to move to an artificial tree I could manage.

My first artificial tree looked fake from even 3 miles away. Fortunately, tree designers and manufacturers have gotten better at producing more realistic branches and needles, and I've gotten savvier at selecting trees that fit my space. 

After a few years of attempting to wrangle lights onto my artificial tree, I opted for a pre-lit one. For a full rundown of what to consider when buying an artificial tree, jump to the bottom of this guide.

Here are the best pre-lit artificial Christmas trees in 2021:

Best pre-lit Christmas tree overall
Image of Balsam Hill Tree in a hallway with gifts under it and stairs and dining room in background, best pre-lit Christmas trees 2021

The lush and full Balsam Hill Classic Blue Spruce features realistic needles and warmly glowing LEDs.

Pros: Easy assembly, realistic color and needles, 3-year limited warranty

Cons: Time must be spent to spread and fluff the branches to achieve fullness

Even if you've never been to Colorado, you'll love their state tree, the blue spruce, with its blue-green, light grey, and moss green needles. Balsam Hill captured the majesty in its Classic Blue Spruce Pre-lit LED Artificial Christmas Tree. The 7-foot height and 53-inch width are perfect for a statement tree in your home.

Balsam Hill trees are exceptionally realistic because they have so many branch tips that can be fluffed and spread to create fullness. The PVC needles are soft, pliable, and flat just like real spruce needles. The sturdy branches are hinged for quick and easy setup.

My favorite feature is the lights. While many LED clear lights are dazzlingly bright, Balsam Hill uses Candlelight LED bulbs that cast a soft glow more like an incandescent bulb. There are 850 hand-strung lights attached to the branches. The tree comes with extra bulbs and fuses, and the lights stay on even if one bulb on a strand goes out.

The tree comes with a tree stand with rubber, scratch-proof feet; storage bags; and a power foot pedal so you don't have to crawl under the tree every night to unplug it.

Originally $799.00 | Save 38%
Best budget pre-lit Christmas tree
Image of Home Accents Holiday pre lit Christmas tree in living room next to fireplace for best pre lit christmas tree 2021

This Home Accents Holiday 7.5-foot Festive Pine Pre-Lit LED Artificial Christmas Tree will light up your holiday decorations without taking up too much of your budget.

Pros: Sturdy, easy to assemble

Cons: Not the most realistic artificial tree, does not come with a storage bag

If you are looking for a pre-lit artificial tree that delivers a decorating punch but won't break the bank, the Home Accents Holiday 7.5-foot Festive Pine Pre-Lit LED Artificial Christmas Tree from The Home Depot is a perfect choice. With warm white LED lights and over 1,000 branch tips, this tree has plenty of fullness and brightness. 

The tree comes with a high-density metal stand for support and three sections of hinged branches and has a full silhouette at 46 inches. There's lots of room underneath for a train set or presents. This tree is tall enough for an office or public gathering space and will hold dozens of ornaments.

The branches can be fluffed out easily for a full look. This is a good-looking tree at a bargain price.

Best narrow silhouette pre-lit Christmas tree
Puleo International 7.5 ft. Slim Fraser Fir Pre lit Artificial Tree

The Puleo International Slim Fraser Fir Pre-Lit Artificial Tree provides all of the fullness of a perfectly shaped Christmas tree within a slim silhouette.

Pros: Fits in tight spaces

Cons: Lights are not LED, no storage bag included

There are spaces like entryways, tight corners, and small apartments where a wide Christmas tree won't work. Most artificial trees come in full, slim, or pencil widths. The Puleo International Slim Fraser Fir Pre-Lit Artificial Tree stands at 7.5 feet tall and gives the illusion of a wide, full tree but in a slender 42-inch diameter.

When a friend moved to a new home, her previous tree wouldn't work unless everyone wanted to stand around the tree because there was no room for chairs. So we went shopping for a narrower tree. Pencil trees didn't offer enough branches to accommodate her favorite ornaments, but this slim Puleo International Fraser Fir Artificial Tree was perfect.

The tree is pre-strung with 500 lights and has 1,453 branch tips to create the illusion of a wider, full tree. It's simple to assemble with just three sections to put together. The included tree stand is sturdy, and the lights are soft white, UL-listed. The lights are "continuous on" so that if one bulb goes out, the others stay on. However, they're not LED, so they won't last as long.

Best flocked pre-lit Christmas tree
Image of Home Accents Holiday pre flocked pre lit tree in living room for best pre lit christmas trees 2021

If you enjoy a white Christmas, the Flocked Mixed Pine Pre-Lit LED Tree will make you feel like you're in Vermont.

Pros: Sprinkled with pine cones, foot pedal for light control

Cons: Flocking can shed during setup

When I was growing up, we added a wintry touch to live trees with a can of spray-on snow. I can tell you it was quite messy, and cleaning the floor was not simple. So I was thrilled to discover I could have the look without the extra effort and mess.

This pine is accented with flocked pine cones to add to the natural, woodsy look. There's still space for your ornaments and maybe a red bird or two peeping out of the branches.

The tree sets up quickly because the plugs for each section of lighted branches are located inside the pole. As you add each section, the lights illuminate automatically as you connect the plugs. The tree features a foot pedal for turning the tree on and off, and extra lights and fuses are included.

Best silver pre-lit Christmas tree
Image of close up Target Wondershop Silver pre lit tree for best pre lit christmas trees 2021

If you love a retro-modern holiday style, then the Wondershop Silver Tinsel Alberta Spruce Tree with 210 lights is just what you need.

Pros: Slender silhouette, unique color

Cons: No storage bag is included, not as full as other trees on the list, non-LED lights

The first silver tree I ever saw was in my aunt's living room. It was like celebrating Christmas with the Jetsons.

The Wondershop Silver Tinsel Alberta Spruce Tree is shaped like a natural spruce tree, but it still holds the allure of a dazzling tree. Just like its green counterparts, a tinsel tree is made from PVC plastic, coated to give the needles their shimmer. With 210 pre-strung incandescent clear lights, this one is a showstopper.

The tree has a slender 27-inch diameter and weighs just 10 pounds, making it simple to assemble. The tree comes with a four-point tree stand and has pull-down branches. There are over 500 branch tips to fluff out and hold all of your favorite ornaments.

If you want a fashion-forward holiday, use only one color of ornaments for a stylized effect. Or silver trees are great for highlighting antique ornaments, especially fragile mercury glass pieces. Either way, you'll be smiling each time you use the foot control to turn on and off the lights.

What to consider when buying an artificial tree

After going through a series of trees, I've gained a bit of knowledge that allows me to help others make a good decision when buying a pre-lit artificial tree:

  • If you opt for non-LED lights, it is important to look for a pre-lit tree that is labeled "with burn-out protection" or "continuous on." This means that if one bulb goes out, the rest of the strand will stay lit.
  • Measure the space where you plan to put the tree so you can purchase the height and diameter that works for you.
  • Look for trees with branches and needles that are molded as one, not attached by wires, to resemble a real tree more closely.
  • Choose a tree with the highest tip count you can afford. More tips make an artificial tree look fuller and provide more spots to place ornaments.
  • A higher light count means a brighter tree. A good rule is 100 light bulbs per every 1.5 feet of the tree.
  • Most artificial trees have a life expectancy of around 10 years. Invest in a tree bag to help protect the tree from dust and insects while it's in storage.
  • If you crave the scent of a real tree, skip the artificial sprays and buy a fresh pine wreath or garland to bring the outdoors into your home.
Check out our other great Christmas decorating buying guides
Image of a white tree skirt under a flocked Christmas tree for best christmas tree skirts in 2021
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Ex-White House chief of staff said former President Donald Trump won't run in 2024 because he can't 'be seen as a loser'

Donald Trump John Kelly
White House chief of staff John Kelly listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House on October 5, 2017.
  • Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is skeptical that Donald Trump will run in 2024.
  • But the former president continues to hint at a possible second run for the White House.
  • "He will not run," Kelly told The Atlantic. "And the reason is he simply cannot be seen as a loser."

As former President Donald Trump continues to tease a campaign to return to the White House, some of his former allies are skeptical that he will enter the presidential race come 2024.

John Kelly, Trump's longest-serving White House chief of staff, expressed doubts that the former president will make a run for the executive seat again in an interview with The Atlantic published Tuesday.

Kelly told The Atlantic that he suspects Trump will continue to imply a possible run leading up to campaigning season, but in the end, will fail to follow through.

"Trump won't run," Kelly told the publication. "He'll continue talking about it; he may even declare, but he will not run. And the reason is he simply cannot be seen as a loser."

A representative for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. 

After leaving his position at the White House in 2019, Kelly rarely criticized the former president in the remainder of Trump's time in office. But the retired Marine Corps general has since expressed criticism of Trump following the January 6 Capitol attack.

Kelly told ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl that if Trump "was a real man, he would go down to the Capitol and tell them to stop," referring to the mob of rioters who breached the Capitol nearly one year ago. His comments were included in Karl's book, "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show," which was released earlier this month and details the final tumultuous year of Trump's presidency. 

Trump made headlines last weekend when he once again hinted at a 2024 run.

"I think if I run, I'll get it," he said in a Fox Business interview. "Look, I have a 94, 95% even, in the CPAC, I had a 98% approval rating. So if I decide to run, I'll get it very easily."

"Most people have said if I run, they won't run against me, so I think that's good," he added.

Trump's 2020 loss to President Joe Biden by nearly 7 million votes prompted the former president to cast doubt on his defeat by making several legal attempts to overturn the loss, all of which have failed.

Former associates of Trump seem to believe that that loss — and the possibility of another — could keep Trump from trying again.

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton and Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen have made similar predictions to Kelly, highlighting the former president's aversion to defeat following the 2020 election. 

"I think he knows deep inside, although he will never admit it, he did lose in 2020 and very much fears losing in 2024 because if he hates anything in the world, he hates being called a loser," Bolton said last month

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The 4 best comforters we tested in 2021


Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

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A variety of multiple comforters that are folded - best comforter
  • A comforter should be soft and breathable, making you feel like you're wrapped in a warm cloud.
  • Brooklinen's All-Season Down Comforter is best for most people and seasons.
  • With a 700 fill power, it's very airy, fluffy, and compressible. The sateen shell is soft and quiet.
  • Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and reviews home products.

Along with soft sheets, a fluffy pillow, and a supportive mattress, a warm comforter is essential for a comfortable night's sleep. 

An important feature to consider while shopping for comforters is fill power. The higher the fill power, the lighter and fluffier the comforter is, and, somewhat counterintuitively, the warmer it is. So if you tend to sleep hot, you want a product with a lower fill power. It won't have as much of a light and fluffy cloud feel, but it'll be less insulating. It's also a good idea to switch comforters based on the season unless you live somewhere with mild weather year-round. 

Another essential feature: corner loops or tabs. These let you attach your comforter to a duvet cover so it won't slide around inside. Although comforters have fabric shells so you can technically sleep with one directly on top of you, we recommend protecting it with a duvet cover. Learn how to quickly put on a duvet cover, as well as other product features to look out for in the FAQs section.

In a major overhaul of this guide, we tested down and down alternative comforters and narrowed them down to the top four. These picks cover a range of body temperatures, budgets, and materials. To help answer questions about shopping for a comforter, I consulted with experts in hospitality and bedding. 

Note: All testing notes and price information refer to a full/queen size.

Here are the best comforters you can buy in 2021

Best comforter overall
folded brooklinen all season down comforter the best comforter overall in 2021

The Brooklinen All-Season Down Comforter is a soft, light, and comfortable choice that's airy and warm but remains breathable, so you can use it any time of the year.

Pros: Light and airy feel, smooth sateen shell, comes in three weights 

Cons: Has a slight down smell, may be too warm for sleepers who run hot 

The Brooklinen comforter gives the true wrapped-in-a-cloud feeling. It's light and compressible, and the down inside stays evenly distributed thanks to the baffle box construction (more on that in the FAQs). Out of all the contenders, Brooklinen's comforter felt the most luxurious and comfortable. 

The outer shell is soft and stays quiet as you move in bed. And while the comforter may compress quickly depending on how you're sleeping on it, it re-fluffs easily if you give it a shake. 

On the downside, it had the most noticeable down smell. I had to fluff it in the dryer a few times for the smell to subside. 

Because of the high fill power, it may be too warm for some sleepers. One of my testers, who normally sleeps with a thin silk blanket, thought it was too warm and liked the Lands' End option better. 

Overall, the Brooklinen comforter is still a versatile pick for many sleepers, especially if you don't want to bother with switching blankets every season. In case it's not the best fit for you, Brooklinen also has Lightweight and Ultra-Warm options you can try.

Originally $359.00 | Save 15%
Best comforter on a budget
folded target room essentials comforter the best budget comforter in 2021

The sub-$50 Room Essentials Down-Alternative Comforter impresses with its substantial, cushioned construction and super soft outer shell, a clear step up from thin and flat competitors in the same price range.

Pros: Very soft shell, filling stays evenly distributed

Cons: Less airy and fluffy than down products, may not be warm enough for winter

The comforter from Target's budget-minded Room Essentials brand is made from polyester with a brushed percale cotton shell. Many down alternative fill comforters with a similar construction tend to be thin and flat. Still, this model surprised me with its moderate thickness and fluffiness, rivaling more expensive comforters. It's not as airy or compressive as down, but it's undoubtedly cushiony and comfortable. 

The shell is exceptionally soft — the softest of all the products in this guide. While it's still best to use a duvet cover to preserve the longevity of a comforter, Target's is the only one I'd consider sleeping under without a cover because of how soft and cozy it feels. 

Though it's marketed as a mid-weight, all-season comforter, I think it works best for warm or mild seasons. It provided comfortable, breathable insulation for spring nights in California, but I don't see it being warm enough for a winter's night in the Midwest. 

We'll continue to monitor this model for long-term durability to see whether the quality matches the price. So far, I'm impressed with how well it performs for the price.

Best down-alternative comforter
the company store down alternative comforter laid out on a bed the best down alternative comforter in 2021

 The Company Store Conscious Down Alternative Comforter is made from environmentally friendly materials like recycled bottles and Tencel lyocell, yet it feels nearly identical to a regular down comforter. (Note: This comforter is back-ordered until May 2022.)

Pros: Eco-friendly, more affordable than down comforter but has a similar feel

Cons: Shell is a little crinkly

The Company Store's comforter is thoughtfully constructed from a mix of traditional and environmentally conscious materials, resulting in a piece of bedding that's both comfortable and ethical. 

The fill is made from polyester spun from recycled plastic bottles plus Tencel lyocell, a naturally breathable and cool material made from wood fibers. Meanwhile, the shell is half cotton, half Tencel lyocell that's been woven into a smooth, silky sateen weave.

The comforter has a box construction, which keeps the fill in place throughout the night. It's a good middle-of-the-road option that's neither too warm nor cool. 

Overall, the comforter feels very similar to down: fluffy, soft, and compressible. The main difference I noticed is that the shell is a little stiffer and crinkly. Another significant difference is there's no down smell. 

Whether you prefer not to buy animal products or want to be more environmentally friendly, this comforter lets you shop with your values without compromising comfort and warmth.

Best comforter for hot sleepers
folded corner of lands end comforter the best comforter for hot sleepers in 2021

If you tend to overheat at night, the Lands' End Essential Down Comforter, which has a lower fill power than average, offers temperature regulation that will keep you cozy and comfortable without sweating.

Pros: Responsible Down Standard certified, still has some fluff and compression to it

Cons: Less luxurious, cloud-like feel than comforters with a higher fill power

Those who sleep hot should look for a comforter with a lower fill power. The Lands' End comforter has a fill power of 550, which makes it less insulating. At the same time, it's cushiony and fluffy enough that you won't miss out on the luxury of sleeping with a down comforter. It also compresses well, but again, less so than a product with a high fill power. 

Of all the down models I tested, the Lands' End has the least down smell. That's because the down and feather filling is washed a couple of times to get rid of odor and dust. It's labeled "hypoallergenic" by the International Down and Feather Lab. 

My testers who regularly sleep hot found this lightweight comforter the least stifling of all the contenders. It acts as a soft cover-up layer, but it doesn't trap heat. In addition to being a great year-round option for warm sleepers, it's suitable to put on your summer bedding rotation (along with a set of airy linen sheets).

Originally $229.95 | Save 40%
What else we tested
red company store lacrosse comforter on a bed a comforter contender we tested in 2021

What else we recommend and why

Riley All-Season Down Comforter: A high-quality goose-down comforter, this model felt as fluffy and airy as Brooklinen's. For the same feel, Brooklinen's is more affordable, which is why it ultimately won out. But if you prefer goose down, which also has a lighter smell than duck down, you might like Riley's more. Riley also has a better warranty period of five years. 

Equinox All-Season Down Alternative Comforter: This Amazon favorite made of synthetic filling is as affordable as the Target Room Essentials but not as soft. It's lightweight, warm, and slightly plush. Read our full review here

Buffy Breeze Comforter: The Breeze has unique qualities, including a eucalyptus fiber construction and a wavy stitched pattern. A baffle box construction — like that found in three out of four of our top picks — ultimately offers better filling distribution, and the Breeze isn't as fluffy as our top picks, but the comfort and softness are still there.

What we don't recommend and why 

The Company Store LaCrosse Down Comforter (Light): The brand's most popular comforter comes in many eye-catching colors, and we loved the look of the deep, rusty Russet color. Sadly, the shell is loud and stiff. I'm not a particularly light sleeper, but the constant crinkling was a disturbance I couldn't ignore.

Our comforter testing methodology
pile of comforters from different brands on bed testing methodology for best comforters in 2021

I spoke to the following experts to learn more about the most important features of a comforter: Chelsea Nightengale, the general manager of The Restoration Hotel; Dale Fox, the founder and CEO of Foxden Hospitality; Sarah Abitbol, the CEO of bedding brand Riley; and Katie Elks, the Director of Design and Product Development at Brooklinen. I evaluated each of our seven comforter contenders on the following criteria:

Performance: I slept with each contender in the same duvet cover (Casper's Hyperlite Duvet Cover) for a minimum of three nights, noting the comfort and feel, breathability, sizing, whether the inside material shifted during the night, whether it had corner loops, and any other special features. I also had family members test each product for a minimum of one night. I'll continue rotating through the comforters to note any changes in comfort and breathability. 

Cleaning and durability: I washed and dried each product according to brand instructions and noted whether the filling bunched up or fell out and if there were any loose threads. We didn't consider any dry-clean-only products since we believe you can get a great comforter that is machine washable. 

Return policy: Outside of comfort and durability, I looked at the return policies of each brand and only considered products with a minimum 30-day return policy. Since bedding purchases are very personal, you must have the freedom to return your comforter if it doesn't fit your expectations.

Comforter FAQs
three comforters rolled up side by side best comforters 2021 faqs

What's the difference between a comforter and a duvet? 

A comforter and duvet are similar, and the terms are used interchangeably today. Technically speaking, a duvet is just the insert and doesn't have a fabric shell over it. It requires a duvet cover for both protection and aesthetic purposes. A comforter contains both the insert and a fabric shell, so you can lay it directly on your body if you want.

Can you use a duvet cover on your comforter? 

Yes, and we recommend it! Most comforters these days also come with corner loops or tabs so you can put a duvet cover over it. A duvet cover protects your comforter from your body oils and is easier to wash.

What's the best comforter for couples? 

Couples may want a king-sized comforter, even if you sleep on a smaller bed. A king-sized comforter offers ample coverage for two people and limits blanket hogging throughout the night. If blanket hogging remains an issue, or if you and your partner have vastly different sleeping temperatures, we recommend getting two separate and smaller comforters so each person can sleep exactly how'd they like.

How do you wash a comforter? 

It depends on the material. If it's made from a synthetic material, it's OK to wash it in the machine with a gentle detergent. If it's made from down, it's best to only air dry or put it in the dryer on air fluff.

How do you put a duvet cover on your comforter? 

We recommend the "burrito" method: Turn your duvet cover inside out, then lay your comforter on top of it. Fasten the duvet cover ties to the comforter's corner tabs. Roll the duvet cover and comforter together like a burrito towards the zipper or buttoned opening of the duvet cover. Fold the duvet cover opening around each corner and close it with the zippers or buttons. Unroll the burrito bundle back towards the opposite end. 

Another method: Start with the same steps of turning your duvet cover inside out, then lay your comforter on top of it. Fasten the duvet cover ties to the comforter's corner tabs. Reach into the opening, grab the farthest corner on either side, and pull it out of the opening. Repeat this step with the other side.

What is down? 

Down is the soft, light, and fluffy clusters of fiber from the underbelly of a duck or goose. It's highly insulating, breathable, and lightweight, which is why it's used to make bedding like comforters and pillows, as well as outdoor clothing. 

According to the American Down & Feather Council, a comforter must contain at least 75% down cluster to be labeled as a down product. The remainder of the bedding usually has feathers, and you can check the label of your comforter to find the exact percentage breakdown of down and feather.

Is goose or duck down better?

Duck and goose down are equally insulating and durable, but duck down is generally cheaper and less fluffy. Because geese are larger birds than ducks, they have larger down clusters, which loft more, take up more space, and compress to a smaller size. Goose down also doesn't smell as much as duck down. 

If you want the lightest, fluffiest, and warmest comforter — and you don't mind paying a little more — look for goose down. Still, duck down is an effective option that we also love and recommend.

Is down ethical? 

Since down comes from birds that are already being raised for food, it is a sustainable byproduct. As we mention in our guide to the best down pillows, you can look for the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) logo on down products.

The certification ensures that the Five Freedoms of animal welfare (which include access to fresh water and food, comfortable shelter, and freedom of movement) are followed; prohibits live-plucking and force-feeding; and evaluates the entire process from farm to final product.

What's the difference between down and down alternative? 

Down is natural, while down alternative is made from synthetic materials like polyester. Down alternative mimics the feel and insulation of natural down and is ideal if you don't want to spend as much money or if you avoid animal products.

baffle box comforter on a bed best comforters in 2021 glossary

Baffle box construction: A design that separates the top and bottom layers of the comforter with a vertical fabric layer. This maintains an even fill distribution and consistent fluffiness.

Sewn-through construction: A design that sews the top and bottom layers of the comforter directly together, with no middle layer of separation. This can lead to uneven distribution of filling and cold spots, which is why baffle box is generally the preferred design. 

Down: The fluffy fibers underneath the feather layer of a duck's or goose's underbelly. It's used in bedding like pillows and comforters as well as clothing and outdoor equipment like sleeping bags. It's insulating, breathable, and soft. 

Down alternative: The animal-friendly alternative to down. It's usually made from synthetic fibers and is made to mimic the properties of natural down. 

Fill power: The amount of space, measured in cubic inches, that one ounce of down occupies (e.g., a 700-fill power pillow takes up 700 cubic inches of space). The larger the down cluster, the higher the fill power, quality, and warmth.  

RDS: Stands for Responsible Down Standard, a certification that ensures the sourcing, manufacturing, and final down product are ethical and humane. 

Percale: A type of cotton weave that feels matte, crisp, airy, and breathable. One thread is woven with another thread into a tight grid pattern. 

Sateen: A type of cotton weave that feels smooth and silky. It's less breathable and also tends to snag more easily. Three or four threads are woven over one thread into a looser grid pattern.

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Check out Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes' handwritten 4 a.m. schedule that was submitted as she testified that her ex-boyfriend was abusive

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and former CEO of Theranos, arrives for motion hearing on Monday, November 4, 2019, at the U.S. District Court House inside Robert F. Peckham Federal Building in San Jose, California. And former Theranos COO Ramesh "Sunny' Balwani leaves the Robert F. Peckham U.S. Federal Court on June 28, 2019 in San Jose, California.
  • On Monday, Elizabeth Holmes testified that Ramesh Balwani, her ex-boyfriend and former COO, was abusive.
  • She said he controlled when she ate and slept and "would get very angry" if she didn't listen.
  • Read the note listing Holmes' strict schedule and 15 rules she said came from Balwani, per The Verge.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes testified during her trial that her ex-boyfriend and former Theranos COO Ramesh Balwani was emotionally and sexually abusive.

A lawyer for Balwani that attended Holmes' testimony denied the abuse allegations against his client, the Journal reported

Among the submitted evidence was a handwritten note that details Holmes' schedule for the day, starting with a 4 a.m. wake-up and ending with a broccoli and quinoa dinner.

Beneath the schedule is a set of notes Holmes wrote for herself on apparent hotel stationery. The notes include guidelines such as "I am never a minute late," "I show no excitement," and "I call bullshit immediately"  — rules that Holmes said came from Balwani, according to a report from The Verge.

"He told me that I didn't know what I was doing in business, that my convictions were wrong, that he was astonished by my mediocrity, and that if I followed my instincts I was going to fail," Holmes testified, according to The Times

Holmes' attorneys previously told Insider they planned to accuse Balwani of abuse to bolster their argument that she wasn't making her own decisions during the time prosecutors allege she was working to defraud investors and doctors.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes' schedule appears to include working out from 4:45 am to 5:20 am and praying before breakfast.
United States v. Elizabeth A. Holmes note
The second half of the note includes a list of guidelines on how to act.
United States v. Elizabeth A. Holmes note
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Chris Cuomo says his indefinite suspension from CNN is 'embarrassing, but I understand it'

chris cuomo andrew cuomo cnn
Chris Cuomo on Cuomo Prime Time Monday night
  • Chris Cuomo addressed his indefinite suspension from CNN in a segment of his radio show on Wednesday.
  • CNN suspended Cuomo after transcripts appeared to show he used media sources to try to help his brother.
  • "It hurts to even say it," Cuomo said. "It's embarrassing, but I understand it."

Chris Cuomo responded Wednesday to being suspended indefinitely from CNN, saying "it's embarrassing, but I understand it."

On Tuesday, CNN suspended the anchor after newly released transcripts appeared to show the extent to which Cuomo tried to help his brother, Andrew Cuomo, during the politician's sexual-harassment scandal.

Earlier in the week the New York attorney general's office released the transcripts, which included text messages that indicated Cuomo used media sources to look up information about a woman who accused Andrew Cuomo, then New York's governor, of sexual harassment.

In the statement announcing Cuomo's suspension on Tuesday, a CNN spokesperson said the documents, "which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions."

"When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother's staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly," the representative continued. "But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put his family first and job second. However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother's efforts than we previously knew."

During a Wednesday episode of "Let's Get After It," Cuomo's SiriusXM radio show, he addressed his suspension.

"Quick note about the obvious — I've been suspended from CNN," Cuomo said. "You know this already. It hurts to even say it. It's embarrassing, but I understand it. And I understand why some people feel the way they do about what I did."

Chris Cuomo previously publicly acknowledged that he coached his brother through the sexual-harassment scandal. He doubled down on his initial apology for his involvement in aiding his brother.

"I've apologized in the past. I mean it," Cuomo said during his radio show. "The last thing I ever wanted to do was compromise any of my colleagues and do anything but help."

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A 25-year-old private-equity associate died in midtown Manhattan on Monday. His father said that the cause of death was suicide.

NYPD police car
Drew Miller, a 25-year-old private-equity associate, died after he fell from Windsor Court, a New York City high-rise apartment building, on Monday.
  • A young man who worked in private equity was found dead outside an apartment complex in New York City on Monday.
  • The man, 25-year-old Drew Miller, died by suicide, his father said.
  • Miller worked in financial services. He had been employed by GreyLion Capital since April.

Drew Miller, a 25-year-old private-equity associate from Warren, New Jersey, was found dead outside of a high-rise apartment complex in New York City on Monday. The cause of death was suicide, his father, Andrew Miller, told Insider by phone on Wednesday.

"Suicide is not a rational act. We're all devastated," Andrew Miller said, speaking on behalf of his family.

Miller fell from the high-rise building Windsor Court, which is located on Lexington Avenue between East 31st and 32nd Streets. His body was found by police after they responded to 911 calls shortly after about 8 a.m. Monday morning.  

Emergency-medical-services personnel pronounced Miller dead at the scene, according to Annette Shelton, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department. Shelton confirmed Miller's identity in an email to Insider on Tuesday afternoon, and added that an investigation was underway.

Since April, Miller had been working as an associate at GreyLion Capital, a New York firm focused on growth-stage investments. GreyLion was spun out from the asset-management arm of Perella Weinberg Partners last year.

"Drew was an incredibly bright and talented individual who was well liked and highly regarded by all who had the pleasure of working with him," Jody Shechtman, a partner and the head of marketing and business development at GreyLion, wrote in an emailed statement to Insider on Tuesday afternoon.

"We are incredibly saddened by his passing. Our deepest sympathies are with Drew's family and loved ones during this difficult time," Shechtman added.

Andrew Miller added that senior executives from GreyLion had been in touch with the Miller family to express their condolences.

AM New York, a local publication, reported the death of an unnamed man on Monday but did not identify him in its article

Miller's body was found with several personal effects, AMNY reported. Among them were a backpack and duffel bag, a laptop computer, a tablet, medication, and house keys, the outlet said.

Before joining GreyLion, Miller was an investment-banking analyst at Cain Brothers, an independent healthcare-focused investment bank that was acquired by KeyBanc in 2017. 

Cain Brothers CEO Robert Fraiman and Chief Administrative Officer Danielle LeBenger did not immediately return Insider's request for comment on Tuesday afternoon.

Miller worked at Cain Brothers from 2018 to 2021. He attended Indiana University's Kelley School of Business from 2014 to 2018 and obtained a bachelor's degree in finance, according to his LinkedIn page.

Suicide is complex, and the reasons behind a suicide are not always immediately clear. Risk factors include mental illness or a history of trauma, and many people considering suicide exhibit warning signs. Treatment is available to help people overcome suicidal thoughts and better cope.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Tuesday and has been updated on Wednesday, after Andrew Miller told Insider that his son Drew died by suicide.

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Jan. 6 panel votes to recommend criminal charges against top Trump DOJ official who refused to cooperate with Capitol riot probe

Former Acting Assistant US Attorney General Jeffrey Clark.
Former Acting Assistant US Attorney General Jeffrey Clark.
  • The Jan. 6 select committee approved a criminal contempt referral for ex-Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark.
  • The vote came minutes after Clark told lawmakers he intends to invoke his 5th amendment rights.
  • The DOJ previously indicted Steve Bannon on contempt charges after Congress referred him.

The House select committee investigating the deadly Capitol riot voted late Wednesday to recommend criminal charges against a former top Justice Department official who refused to cooperate with the panel's investigation.

The vote came minutes after a lawyer for the witness, Jeffrey Clark, informed the committee that his client intends to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, which protect a witness from self-incrimination. Panel chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson said the committee will convene another deposition for Clark this weekend to give him the opportunity to assert his claim on the record.

"However, we will proceed tonight with considering the contempt report, as this is just the first step of the contempt process," Thompson said. 

Rep. Liz Cheney, the top Repulican on the committee, said the contempt process would not be finalized as long as Clark "genuinely cures his failure" to comply with the panel's subpoena on Saturday.

Clark joined the Justice Department's environmental protection division in 2018 and was acting assistant attorney general for the civil division until his departure earlier this year. He was also a key facilitator of then-President Donald Trump's efforts to subvert the 2020 election results, making him a critical witness for the select committee investigating the insurrection.

Clark is the second person the select committee voted to recommend criminal charges against in connection with the January 6 investigation. Last month, it voted to make a contempt referral for Trump's former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, who also refused to cooperate with the inquiry while citing Trump's executive privilege assertion.

The full House of Representatives subsequently voted to advance the referral, and the Justice Department indicted Bannon on two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress last month. He pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors also accused Bannon earlier this week of trying to get media attention off of his case and asked a judge to restrict what evidence Bannon can release to the public.

The January 6 select committee subpoenaed Clark for documents and testimony in October. He appeared before the committee early last month but gave lawmakers a letter from his attorney, Harry MacDonald, saying he would not answer any substantive questions, citing attorney-client privilege and Trump's executive privilege claims with respect to the investigation.

MacDonald's letter also distanced Clark from the events of January 6, saying that he "informed me he worked from home that day to avoid wrestling with potential street closures to get to and from his office at Main Justice."

"Nor did Mr. Clark have any responsibilities to oversee security at the Capitol or have the ability to deploy any Department of Justice personnel or resources there," it said.

Lawmakers on the bipartisan select committee investigating the insurrection have made clear that they expect the Justice Department to enforce witness' compliance with subpoenas for records and testimony. But as Insider's C. Ryan Barber reported, Attorney General Merrick Garland could be faced with a much more difficult decision in Clark's case as opposed to Bannon's, which legal experts described as a slam-dunk for prosecutors.

For one, Clark has a stronger argument as it relates to Trump's executive-privilege claims because both men were serving in the federal government at the time, unlike Bannon, who was ousted from the Trump White House in 2017. Clark is also a lawyer, which raises additional questions about attorney-client privilege concerning his conversations with Trump.

The former president, for his part, isn't likely to back off of his opposition to the committee's investigation. He asserted executive privilege over a trove of documents the committee requested from the White House, but the Biden administration declined to do the same and authorized the National Archives to turn the materials over to Congress.

Trump filed a lawsuit to try to block Biden, and on Tuesday, his lawyers argued before a three-judge appeals court panel that, as the former president, he has the right to dictate which documents from his tenure Congress gets.

But the panel appears unlikely to buy that argument.

"We have one president at a time under our Constitution," Judge Patricia Millett said during oral arguments. "That incumbent president … has made the judgment and is best positioned, as the Supreme Court has told us, to make that call as to the interests of the executive branch."

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Online mortgage startup Better reportedly laid off 9% of its staff — about 900 employees — as its plan to go public looms

Vishal Garg Better
Better CEO Vishal Garg.
  • Mortgage startup Better is laying off 9% of its staff, or about 900 people, TechCrunch reported.
  • The company recently hired 7,000 people and is set to go public with a $6.9 billion valuation.
  • The firm also got a $750 million cash infusion from its backers, which include SoftBank.

Online mortgage startup Better is laying off 9% of its staff, or about 900 people, TechCrunch reported Wednesday.

The firm hired 7,000 people ahead of an imminent SPAC merger with blank-check company Aurora Acquisition Corp to go public that puts the value of the company at $6.9 billion.

This week, the New York-based company, which LinkedIn named the best startup in America in both 2020 and 2021,  got a $750 million cash infusion from its backers, which include Aurora and SoftBank. 

Citing anonymous sources, TechCrunch said one reason for the layoffs is that rising mortgage rates are expected to result in a contraction of the mortgage market. In addition, it reported, Better's emphasis on automating loans might mean less need for manual labor.

The company, which declined to comment to TechCrunch, sent a statement from CFO Kevin Ryan: "A fortress balance sheet and a reduced and focused workforce together set us up to play offense going into a radically evolving homeownership market."

Better didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Do you work at Better? Do you have a story to share about working there or insight into its layoffs? Contact reporter Alex Nicoll via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (646) 768-4772 using a non-work phone, email at anicoll@businessinsider.com, or Twitter DM at @AlexONicoll.

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A former Marine pleaded guilty to assaulting police officers on January 6 after saying he was '50/50' on whether or not he regretted his actions

Photos of a man kicking a police officer, taken from the criminal complaint against Kevin Douglas Creek.
Photos of a man kicking a police officer, taken from the criminal complaint against Kevin Douglas Creek.
  • Kevin Douglas Creek pleaded guilty Wednesday to assaulting police officers during the Capitol riot.
  • Creek, 47, was captured on body camera footage striking officers, according to the criminal complaint.
  • Creek faces up to eight years in prison. He's one of more than 700 charged in the Capitol riot.

A former Marine pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington, DC, on Wednesday to assaulting, resisting, or impeding law enforcement officers during the January 6 Capitol riot.

Kevin Douglas Creek, 47, struck, pushed, and kicked police officers who were trying to protect the Capitol during the attack by a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters, according to court documents detailing the guilty plea.

Creek, who is from Georgia, was arrested in June and charged with assault as well as disorderly and disruptive conduct and physical violence on the Capitol grounds, among other charges. The additional charges were dropped as a result of his guilty plea.

Videos taken on the day of the insurrection showed Creek "assaulting law enforcement officers who were carrying out official duties," the criminal complaint said.

The complaint included screenshots of body camera footage of a man identified as Creek assaulting multiple officers, including images of him kicking an officer who was trying to block him with a riot shield.

Days after the riot, Creek visited a hospital and said he had been teargassed at the Capitol riot and had bruises, according to an unidentified source cited in the complaint. 

During an interview with the FBI in May, Creek was shown the videos of the assaults on officers. Creek said he went to the Capitol on January 6 but "did not remember assaulting any officer," the complaint said. He also told the FBI he was armed with mace and a boot knife while at the Capitol.

"When asked if Creek regretted his conduct on January 6th, he responded: '50/50,'" the complaint said.

Creek faces up to eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for March 2022.

More than 700 people have been charged in the Capitol riot to date.

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Justice Coney Barrett questions if adoption laws could eliminate the 'burden' of parenthood for abortion seekers

Protestors at Supreme Court
Stephen Parlato of Boulder, Colo., holds a sign that reads "Hands Off Roe!!!" as abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion protesters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021.
  • A 2018 Mississippi law banning abortions after the 15-week mark has reached the Supreme Court.
  • Justice Barrett argued that pregnancy and parenthood are not "part of the same burden."

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett raised questions about the impact of safe haven laws during Supreme Court arguments about a Mississippi abortion law; the outcome of which could overturn Roe V. Wade.

The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization — which focuses on a 2018 Mississippi law — threatens abortion rights established during the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. 

The Mississippi law bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, despite the Roe ruling which bars states from banning abortions prior to the 24-week mark — near the viability stage of pregnancy when a fetus is commonly able to sustain itself outside of the uterus.

Those in favor of upholding the law are saying that parenthood is no longer an undue burden. When questioning the attorney for Jackson Women's Health, Justice Barrett inquired about adoption laws removing the burden of parenthood.

"I have a question about safe haven laws. You can terminate parental rights by relinquishing a child after giving birth. The cases emphasized the burden of parenting. But women don't have to parent if they don't want to! Why don't safe haven laws take care of that?" asked Barrett, who has seven kids, two of whom are adopted. 

Safe haven laws exist in varying capacities in every state and prevent parents or guardians from getting into legal trouble for voluntarily giving up a newborn baby, USA Today previously reported.

The justice also asked if safe haven laws take care of the argument that "forced motherhood would hinder women's access to the workplace and to equal opportunities" and "the consequences of parenting and the obligations of motherhood that flow from pregnancy."

"However it doesn't seem to follow that pregnancy, and then parenthood, are all part of the same burden," she added. "And so it seems to me that the choice, more focused, would be between, say, the ability to get an abortion at 23 weeks or the state requiring the woman to go 15, 16 weeks more and then terminate parental rights at the conclusion." 

Julie Rikelman, the attorney defending the only abortion clinic in the state, responded to Barrett's question by saying that forced pregnancy "imposes unique physical demands and risk on women and in fact, has impact on all of their lives, on their ability to care for other children, other family members, on their ability to work." 


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Key witness in Congress' Capitol riot probe says he intends to plead the 5th amendment

Former Acting Assistant US Attorney General Jeffrey Clark.
Former Acting Assistant US Attorney General Jeffrey Clark.
  • Ex-DOJ official Jeffrey Clark intends to invoke his 5th amendment rights in the Jan. 6 committee probe.
  • The committee took the first step to recommend criminal charges against Clark on Wednesday.
  • But lawmakers said they'll give him a chance to appear again on Saturday and assert his claim.

A key witness in the January 6 select committee's investigation into the Capitol riot informed the panel late Wednesday that he intends to plead the 5th Amendment, the committee's chairman said.

The committee is "willing to convene another deposition" for Jeffrey Clark, a former top Justice Department under the Trump administration, chairman Bennie Thompson said Wednesday. He added that Clark has "agreed to appear again."

However, Thompson said the committee would still proceed with a previously scheduled vote to advance a criminal contempt referral for Clark because he refused to substantively answer lawmakers' questions when he appeared before the committee earlier.

Thompson also said the letter from Clark's lawyer informing the committee that he plans to plead the 5th is a "last-ditch attempt to delay the select committee's proceeding."

"We will proceed tonight with considering the contempt report, as this is just the first step of the contempt process," Thompson said.

The next step would be a full House of Representatives vote, which if successful would trigger a criminal referral to the Justice Department. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the vice-chair of the committee, also said that "we will not finalize this contempt process if Mr. Clark genuinely cures his failure to comply with this subpoena this Saturday."

The committee unanimously voted minutes later to recommend criminal charges against Clark.

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The head of the European Union Commission says it's time to consider making vaccines mandatory

Ursula von der Leyen speaks on a podium at a media conference in Brussels
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen speaks to media at the end of the weekly EU Commission meeting, in the Berlaymont, the EU Commission headquarter on December 1, 2021 in Brussels, Belgium.
  • EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it's now "appropriate" to discuss vaccine mandates.
  • One-third of EU's population is unvaccinated, creating "an enormous health cost," said von der Leyen.
  • Each individual member state of the EU decides on its own vaccine mandates and measures.

European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU should start discussing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, as the world steels itself for the threat of the newly-discovered Omicron coronavirus variant.

"Two or three years ago, I would have never thought to witness what we see right now: That we have this horrible pandemic, we have the life-saving vaccines, but they are not being used adequately everywhere. And thus, this is an enormous health cost," von der Leyen said at a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday.

She noted that one-third of the EU population, or roughly 150 million people, had not been vaccinated yet.

Von der Leyen said it is "understandable and appropriate" to consider vaccine mandates among the EU's 27 member nations.

"How can we encourage and potentially think about mandatory vaccination within the European Union?" she told reporters. "This needs discussion. This needs a common approach, but it is a discussion that I think has to be led."

Von der Leyen, a licensed physician, also said the EU faces a "race against time" with the Omicron variant, adding that vaccines are critical to the fight against the "highly contagious" strain.

"Till we know what is going on, and this will take two to three weeks, scientists tell us, we have to do everything possible to make the best out of the time we have until we have certainty about the characteristics of transmissibility and severity of Omicron," she said.

"Two to three weeks, this is in normal times a short period. In pandemic times, it's an eternity," Von der Leyen added.

The World Health Organization has said that COVID-19 vaccines will likely still protect against severe cases of the mutated Omicron variant.

As of Wednesday, 11 EU countries have reported a total of 59 cases of the Omicron variant, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The US also reported its first case of the variant, carried by a single traveler who arrived in California on Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

It's up to each EU member state to decide whether to impose vaccine mandates. COVID-19 cases have surged in the last month in most European nations, with the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Poland among the worst-hit countries.

Austria was the first country in the EU — and the first Western democracy — to announce mandatory vaccinations for its entire adult population on November 19. On Tuesday, Greece said it would impose monthly fines of $113 to seniors older than 60 who refuse to get vaccinated by mid-January.

Meanwhile, Germany's incoming chancellor Olaf Scholz has said he would consider introducing a vaccine mandate for all Germans by February.

On the other hand, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the country "won't ever look at" compulsory vaccinations for the public, though it has required the jabs for healthcare workers.

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Suncity, the biggest junket operator in Macau, has shut gaming rooms after its CEO was arrested, sending shares down to record lows

A booth of Macau junket operator Suncity Group.
Booth of Macau junket operator Suncity Group at a gaming fair.
  • Suncity said its gaming rooms have closed as of December 1.
  • The company confirmed former CEO and chairman Alvin Chau had resigned from all positions at Suncity Group.
  • Authorities have accused Chau and 10 others of using Macau as a base for an illegal "live web betting platform" in the Philippines that attracted mainland Chinese gamblers.

Shares in Macau's Suncity Group Holdings Ltd tumbled in resumed trade on Thursday after gaming rooms linked to the group were shut following the arrest of its former CEO and chairman, Alvin Chau.

Chau, also the founder of Macau's biggest junket operator which brings in high rollers to play at casinos, was arrested with 10 others on Sunday over alleged links to cross-border gambling and money laundering.

In a statement released late on Wednesday, Suncity said that gaming rooms operated by a business wholly owned by Chau had closed as of December 1. It also confirmed that Chau had resigned from all positions at Suncity Group but did not announce a new CEO or chairman.

Suncity Group's stock was down 10% in Thursday morning trade, albeit off a record low marked earlier in the day, after being suspended on Wednesday. The shares have now halved in value since Chau's arrest.

Macau authorities have accused Chau and 10 others of using the former Portuguese colony as a base for an illegal "live web betting platform" in the Philippines that attracted mainland Chinese gamblers.

A warrant for Chau's arrest has also been issued by the mainland Chinese city of Wenzhou, accusing him of forming a junket agent network that helps citizens engage in gambling activities and setting up a company that helps gamblers make cross-border fund transfers.

Macau's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau said in a late Wednesday statement it would not comment on recent gambling crime cases as they have entered judicial proceedings.

It added it will supervise Macau's gaming industry in accordance with the law.

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Apple has told suppliers demand for the iPhone 13 is falling ahead of the holidays, Bloomberg reports

Tim Cook and iPhone 13
iPhone 13
  • Apple is telling component suppliers that demand has slowed, according to a Bloomberg report.
  • Apple had already cut its iPhone 13 production target for 2021 by as many as 10 million units.
  • The production cut is due to the ongoing global chip shortage.

Apple has told its component suppliers that demand for the iPhone 13 is falling ahead of the holidays, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The tech giant had already cut its iPhone 13 production target for 2021 by as many as 10 million units due to the ongoing global chip shortage, per Bloomberg.

Apple had initially planned to make 90 million units of its newest smartphone in Q4 2021, but told partners it was cutting the target as supply-chain partners Broadcom and Texas Instruments may not be able to deliver enough components for that many devices, Bloomberg reported in October.

The plan was to ramp up production to make up for the shortfall in 2022, when component supply is expected to improve, Bloomberg reported. But Apple is now informing vendors that it may not be receiving those orders, Bloomberg added.

Apple was projecting a strong quarter ending December, but expected to be short of demand, CEO Tim Cook said in the company's earnings call in October. He told analysts then that supply chain issues had already cost Apple $6 billion in sales in the company's fiscal fourth-quarter ending September 25.

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

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K-pop boyband BTS members cash out $8.5 million worth of shares in their management agency, Hybe

K-pop band BTS.
  • Hybe founder and chairman Bang Si-hyuk gifted company shares to all 7 BTS members before it went public. 
  • Share prices of Seoul-based Hybe hit a record high of 421,500 won ($359) on Nov. 17 — triple its IPO offer price of 135,000 won ($115) a share in October 2020.
  • The K-pop sensation is currently in Los Angeles where they are holding in-person concerts for the first time since the pandemic started.

Three members of K-pop boyband BTS have sold around 10 billion South Korean won ($8.5 million) worth of shares in their management agency, Hybe, according to the Korea Herald.

The members — Jin, J-Hope and RM — sold the Hybe shares over several regular trading sessions from October 13 to November 9, according to the media outlet, citing a regulatory filing.

Hybe founder and Chairman Bang Si-hyuk had gifted 478,695 common shares of the agency to the band members in September 2020 before the company went public. The 1.4% stake was evenly distributed to the seven members.

The move was "to strengthen long-term partnership with major artists and boost morale," said the agency, which was previously known as Big Hit Entertainment, according to Reuters.

The K-pop sensation is currently in Los Angeles where it's holding in-person concerts for the first time since the pandemic started.

Share prices of Seoul-based Hybe hit a record high of 421,500 won ($359) on Nov. 17 — triple its IPO offer price of 135,000 won ($115) a share in October 2020.

They're about 6.5% lower on Thursday but have gained about 111% year-to-date.

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