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This Y Combinator-backed fintech provides loans to small businesses in Africa. Check out the 10-slide pitch deck Numida used to raise $12.3 million.

7 hours 21 min ago
Numida cofounders Catherine Denis, Ben Best, and Mina Shahid.
  • Y Combinator-backed Numida has raised $12.3 million in debt and equity funding. 
  • The fintech startup, founded in 2015, provides loans to small and medium-sized businesses in Uganda. 
  • The startup's new funding round was led by Serena Williams' Serena Ventures. 

Numida, a Ugandan fintech that offers credit to small businesses, has raised $12.3 million in new funding.

The startup, which was founded by three Canadian Y Combinator graduates in 2015, wants to expand access to working capital for businesses across Africa. Numida believes there are 20 million small and micro businesses lacking working capital, an opportunity it values at around $5 billion.

"Our initial process was simple: How do we provide the best form of working capital to excluded people?" Mina Shahid, Numida's CEO and cofounder told Insider.

"It's important because these people have been forgotten by traditional financial services and the major challenge for economic development is financing for businesses."

Shahid cofounded the business alongside Catherine Denis and Ben Best. The trio worked in Sub-Saharan Africa for a number of years prior to setting up Numida. Much of the challenge comes from a lack of a centralized credit scoring system but also a general lack of documentation with transactions often done in cash, they said.

Numida's platform offers loans of between $100 to $5,000 via its mobile app with its proprietary tech used to make credit scoring decisions.

"It's been a fascinating experience building a tech product for people who have never used a computer before," Shahid said. "Everyone can understand an interface in the valley but we've had to unlearn what a user interface is and have spent a lot of time on improving our UX and customer journey."

Serena Williams' fund Serena Ventures is leading a $7.3 million portion of equity funding alongside Breega, 4Di Capital, Launch Africa, Soma Capital,  Y Combinator, and MFS Africa. The rest of the funding comes in the form of $5 million in debt from Lendable Asset Management. 

Numida claims to have advanced more than $20 million in funding since April 2021 and is growing its team to cater for future growth. The company's teams are split between Kampala, Uganda, and various remote locations on the west coast of the US. Funding will go towards further hiring on Numida's product development team in Uganda alongside a CFO and potentially a head of credit risk, Shahid said. 

Further expansion into another African market like Nigeria, Ghana, Egyptian, or Kenya is also under consideration. 

Check out Numida's 10-slide pitch deck below: 

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Michael Cohen says Trump's downfall will resemble Al Capone's: 'You're not going to get them on murder, extortion, or racketeering. You're gonna get them on tax evasion.'

7 hours 45 min ago
Donald Trump.
  • Michael Cohen said he thinks Trump will get indicted on tax charges.
  • Speaking to MSNBC, Cohen predicted Trump would face the "Al Capone effect." 
  • Capone, a notorious gangster, was indicted in 1931 on tax evasion charges.

Michael Cohen predicted on Tuesday that former President Donald Trump will, like the mobster Al Capone, get taken down by tax fraud charges.

Speaking on MSNBC's "Deadline White House," Cohen — who was Trump's lawyer and personal fixer — weighed in on a sprawling probe into the Trump Organization sparked by New York Attorney General Leticia James.

"Like the Al Capone effect, you're not going to get him on murder, extortion, racketeering. You get them on tax evasion," Cohen said.

"And much of this, especially the easier, the low-hanging fruit, so to speak — that was available a long time ago," he added, referring to potential evidence of fraudulent acts committed by the former president's business.

Capone, a notorious Chicago gang boss, was not indicted for violent crimes but instead convicted in 1931 on tax-evasion charges.

During his MSNBC appearance, Cohen commented on Trump's legal troubles and predicted that the former president would use a "playbook" — which Cohen helped create — in response to them.

"I believe that there'll be a criminal prosecution by the IRS. I believe there'll be potentially a criminal prosecution by SDNY, especially now that it's not Trump controlled," Cohen said, referring to the courts in the Southern District of New York.

"And I also believe that there will be other criminal investigations that will be forthcoming, but remember what Donald does, and again, this is all part of the playbook that I am responsible for helping to create," he added. "This playbook is delay, delay delay."

Cohen added that he thought the Trump Organization probe looked like an "open and shut case" of fraud, classifying Trump's denials as the "nonsensical rantings of a lunatic mind."

A representative at Trump's post-presidential press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

Last week, Cohen was given a shoutout by James when she announced her office's $250 million civil lawsuit against Trump, his business, and his adult children.

James has accused the former president of falsely inflating his net worth by billions of dollars. She also seeks to bar the Trumps from conducting business in New York.

During his deposition in New York last month, Trump pleaded the Fifth more than 440 times — only answering a question about his name.

Meanwhile, Capone, a famed Chicago gang boss, was not indicted for violent crimes — but was instead indicted in 1921 on tax-evasion charges.

In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to felonies, including tax evasion, campaign finance violations, and bank fraud. He was sentenced in December that year to three years in prison and was disbarred in February 2019 by the New York Supreme Court.

Since his release, Cohen has become an outspoken Trump critic. He has weighed in on the former president's many legal troubles, including the FBI's raid of Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence.

This week, Cohen announced that he would be selling t-shirts that depicted Trump behind bars to "celebrate the fall of the mango Mussolini."

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Amazon has temporarily shut some warehouses in Florida as Hurricane Ian nears

7 hours 57 min ago
Amazon has temporarily closed warehouse sites near Tampa and Orlando.
  • Amazon has temporarily shut some warehouses in Florida ahead of Hurricane Ian's approach, per CNBC.
  • The Category 3 storm smashed into Cuba on Tuesday and is now headed to Florida.
  • Amazon said the warehouse closures are a safety precaution.

Amazon has temporarily shut some warehouses in Florida as Hurricane Ian approaches the state, according to a CNBC report Tuesday.

The ecommerce giant has temporarily closed warehouse sites near Tampa on the Gulf Coast and Orlando in central Florida, according to CNBC, citing notices sent to employees. The warehouses are expected to stay shut until Friday, per the news outlet.

"We're closely monitoring the path of Hurricane Ian and making adjustments to our operations in order to keep our employees and those delivering for us safe," Richard Rocha, an Amazon spokesperson, told CNBC. "We're in regular contact with our employees and delivery partners to ensure everyone is aware of any site closures or unsafe conditions and will continue to make adjustments as needed."

The CNBC report did not specify how many warehouses are closed or how many workers are affected.

Amazon did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment, sent outside regular business hours, regarding whether workers in the temporarily closed warehouses would still receive pay.

The National Hurricane Center upgraded Hurricane Ian from a tropical storm to a Category 3 storm on Tuesday. It smashed into Cuba on the same day and knocked out the entire island's electricity, leaving the whole country without power, according to Reuters. The hurricane is now headed to Florida.

—National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 28, 2022

 

The National Hurricane Center said weather condition are expected to deteriorate across central and south Florida on Tuesday evening. Heavy rainfall is expected through Thursday, and is expected to reach parts of the southwest later in the week and through the weekend.

Amazon faces scrutiny over workplace safety issues. In December, six workers died at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois after the roof collapsed due to severe weather.

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The US is supporting efforts to investigate the 'apparent sabotage' of the Nord Stream pipelines, says security advisor Jake Sullivan

8 hours 34 min ago
National Security Advisor to the president Jake Sullivan answers questions at a daily briefing on May 18, 2022.
  • US security advisor is speaking to his Danish counterpart about the "apparent sabotage" of the Nord Stream pipelines.
  • The US is supporting investigation efforts and will continue safeguarding Europe's energy security, he said.
  • German officials believe the key pipelines were sabotaged.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan commented on the "apparent sabotage" of the key Nord Stream gas pipelines connecting Russia and Europe, and underscored the US' efforts to aid in the investigation of the September 26 incident.

"I spoke to my counterpart Jean-Charles Ellermann-Kingombe of Denmark about the apparent sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines," Sullivan tweeted Tuesday night. "The U.S. is supporting efforts to investigate and we will continue our work to safeguard Europe's energy security," he added.

—Jake Sullivan (@JakeSullivan46) September 28, 2022

The leak in Nord Stream 2 was discovered in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea on Monday, the Danish Energy Agency wrote in an announcement. "The Danish Maritime Authority has released a navigational warning and established a prohibitive no sail zone around the area," the agency added.

A press representative for the Swedish Maritime Authority told Insider the agency was informed about one leak on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm. Later the same day, it learned of two separate leaks on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline northeast of Bornholm.

Sullivan's comments echo similar statements from Germany, where government officials believe the pipelines were sabotaged.

Der Tagesspiegel, a newspaper in Germany, reported a government source as saying: "We can't imagine a scenario that isn't a targeted attack. Everything speaks against a coincidence." A spokesperson for Germany's economy ministry told Insider it "doesn't participate in speculation." Germany's energy regulator, the Federal Network Agency, said in an email it was in the process of clarifying the situation.

Later Tuesday, Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen said it was "difficult to imagine" the damage was accidental.

On Tuesday, the Kremlin also said it couldn't rule out sabotage, per Reuters.

Following the incident, governments around the region issued warnings to ships to not sail within five nautical miles of the leaks.

The Danish Navy sent an Absalon-class frigate to the site of the leaks for monitoring purposes and to warn ships to stay away, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation reported Tuesday. A no-fly zone is in operation over the affected area, a German government official told Insider yesterday.

The incidents on the Nord Stream pipelines could exacerbate Europe's energy crisis this winter, given that Russia typically supplies about 40% of Europe's natural gas, most of which is transported via pipelines.

Russia exported about 155 billion cubic meters of the fuel to Europe in 2021 — and more than one-third came from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, per Reuters. 

Russian state-controlled gas giant Gazprom completely turned off gas supply to Europe via Nord Stream 1 in September, citing technical reasons. 

The Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline, which runs parallel to Nord Stream 1, has never been operational because Germany shelved the project in February, days before Russia invaded Ukraine. Construction on the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline was completed in September 2021.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What Liz Cheney, Kanye West, Oprah Winfrey, The Rock, and Andrew Yang have in common: They're third-party alternatives to the Biden-Trump 2024 presidential binary.

9 hours 44 min ago
  • Joe Biden and Donald Trump are watching their approval ratings tank.
  • Their low numbers are making room for other potential presidential hopefuls, including celebrities.
  • Notable politicians such as Liz Cheney and Andrew Yang are also in the third-party mix.

First came Ronald Reagan. Then Donald Trump. Could Americans see another entertainer trade red carpets for the marbled hallways of the White House?

It's plausible. Six out of 10 voters would consider a moderate independent candidate for president in 2024 if President Joe Biden, a Democrat, and Trump, a Republican, end up staging a re-run of Election 2020, according to a recent Harvard CAPS-Harris poll.

Recently, the case for nontraditional, third-party candidates received a boost with the launch of the Andrew Yang-fronted Forward Party, established by dozens of former Democratic and Republican officials. And several celebrities have openly flirted with making an independent presidential run.

Here are 14 notable celebrities and would-be politicians to watch ahead of the 2024 presidential race:

Elon Musk

When Elon Musk began angling to buy Twitter, Musk superfans encouraged him to do more — run for president in 2024.

"Shoulda bought shares in Twitter a month ago," one Twitter user tweeted. "Either way I support #ElonMusk taking it over. Elon for President 2024."

—Mike, a person (@mike_dangola) April 14, 2022

 

The billionaire has been making the headlines recently for his alleged affair with Google co-founder Sergey Brin's wife, termination of his Twitter acquisition plans, and twins he had with one of his top executives.   

But because of Article II of the US Constitution, Musk can't run for president because he was born in South Africa, not on American soil.

Only a natural-born citizen can be president, which disqualifies Musk from the presidential race — although he could run for other public offices such as US senator or governor. (Think of Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger, who served as California's governor from 2003 to 2011.).

Musk has also been vocal in his support of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, for a potential 2024 presidential run.

Oprah Winfrey

One of the most influential women in the world, Oprah Winfrey's presidential ambitions have long been a subject of celebrity-watching chatter.

Winfrey's 2018 acceptance speech at the Golden Globes — she was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement — set off speculation about her possibility to run for president. The speech, which opened with a personal anecdote of her growing up as a Black girl in Milwaukee, pivoted to politics and social issues, such as the #MeToo movement. 

"I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon," she said. "And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say 'Me Too' again."

Stedman Graham, Winfrey's longtime partner, told the Los Angeles Times, that Winfrey running for president is "it's up to the people," and "she would absolutely do it." 

But three weeks before her speech, the media magnate herself told Laura Brown, then the editor-in-chief of InStyle, that she has no interest in occupying the presidency. Winfrey said she had met with someone who offered to help with a political campaign, but she declined. 

"I've always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not," Winfrey told Brown. "And so it's not something that interests me. I don't have the DNA for it. ... That's not for me." 

But it may be too early to completely rule out her name appearing on the ballot. In an interview with David Rubenstein, Winfrey said at first she felt as if she didn't have the experience to run for president, but is thinking otherwise after Donald Trump's election. 

"I thought, oh gee, I don't have the experience, I don't know enough, and now I'm thinking, 'Oh, oh?'" she said. 

And even if she doesn't run, her endorsement — if one is forthcoming — could certainly help the recipient.

Andrew Yang

The 47-year-old former presidential candidate is no stranger to the political arena, although his efforts have yet to translate into electoral victory.

Yang ran unsuccessfully for president in 2020 as a Democrat, and then, lost in a crowded field for mayor of New York in 2021.

As part of his political platform, Yang promoted a universal basic income and Medicare for all. The son of Taiwanese immigrants, his bid was also a significant moment for Asian Americans.

Yang, who is at the helm of the newly formed national political third party, the Forward Party, hinted at his second attempt at running for the presidency, should a Trump-Biden rematch take shape. 

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Yang said, "One thing I will say is that if that matchup is unappealing to you, then go to ForwardParty.com and let's make sure that Americans have more choices in your community but also in 2024."

Bob Shrum, former political strategist and director of the Center for the Political Future at the University of Southern California, believes Yang's bid could backfire and give more votes to Trump. 

"Andrew Yang, if he wants to start a new party or run as an independent, it could help the Republicans or it could help Trump in 2024," he told Insider.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

Professional wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne Johnson's presidential bid overtures have not been nearly as subtle as Winfrey's.

Nicknamed "The Rock," the 50-year-old actor has been asked about his presidential ambitions on multiple occasions.

His answers hint at a 2024 bid. Johnson's flirtations with politics began several years ago when, in 2016, he floated the idea of him occupying the Oval Office via Twitter.

"Cool piece on why I should run for President. Maybe one day. Surely the White House has a spot for my pick up truck," Johnson tweeted, linking to a now-deleted Independent Journal story that laid out why he should be president.

Then, in 2017, he said in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres that he'd "seriously considering running." The same year, Johnson told USA Today that, that as the former World Wrestling Entertainment "people's champ," he would probably run in 2020 "to serve the people."

He then told Variety that "the realistic consideration would be 2024."

More recently, in 2021, Johnson kept his political options open.

"I think that poll of almost half of Americans being in favor of me running for president is so humbling. It sits me down and I don't know any other way to describe it," he told CNN.

Trump's former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told Politico earlier this year that "The Rock" is one of the few people who could realistically challenge Trump in 2024, if Trump decides to run.

Kanye West

The American rapper and entrepreneur who last year officially changed his name to Ye, has expressed interest in running for president again, in 2024.

With just weeks left before the 2022 midterm election, Ye told ABC News he "absolutely" has future political aspirations. "That time wasn't in God's time," he said of his first stab at the presidency. 

In 2020, after an unsuccessful run for office, West tweeted, "KANYE 2024" with a picture of his side profile in front of a graphic of the 50 states.

—ye (@kanyewest) November 4, 2020

West was effectively a non-factor in the 2020 presidential race. He appeared as a presidential candidate on the ballot in just 12 states and received just under 60,000 votes. His strongest support came from Tennessee, where he received more than 10,000 votes. Trump, on the other hand, secured over 1.84 million votes in the state. 

West again hinted at a second attempt in his new song, "Keep It Burnin." In the first verse, he raps: "When you run for '24, I bet your spouse gon' be with you / Who put this together? Me, that's who."

Liz Cheney

Perhaps the most prominent anti-Trumper in the GOP, Cheney is now actively considering a 2024 presidential bid. 

Cheney's potential pursuit of the nation's highest office follows her defeat by Trump-backed opponent Harriet Hageman in Wyoming's Republican congressional primary.

In an interview with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News,  the soon-departing Wyoming congresswoman said, "I'm not going to make any announcements here this morning, but it is something that I'm thinking about and I'll make a decision in the coming months."

She added: "I will be doing whatever it takes to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office."

Speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival in September, Cheney didn't directly answer a question about whether she'd run for president but reiterated she would do "whatever it takes to make sure Donald Trump isn't anywhere close to the Oval Office," and that she would no longer be a Republican if Trump gets the party's nomination in 2024. 

"I'm going to make sure Donald Trump, make sure he's not the nominee," Cheney said. "And if he is the nominee, I won't be a Republican."

Just hours after her loss, Insider reported that Cheney converted her congressional campaign committee to a political action committee — a move that will give her increased freedom to raise and spend money to advance her political agenda. She's calling it "The Great Task." 

Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is at war with many of her Republican Party colleagues as she serves as vice chair of the US House's January 6 select committee, which is investigating Trump. 

In her concession speech, Cheney remarked that she could have easily won the primary if she went along Trump's false claims about the 2020 election. 

"Two years ago, I won this primary with 73% of the vote. I could easily have done the same again. The path was clear, but it would have required that I go along with President Trump's lie about the 2020 election," she said. 

Cheney was defeated by a 37.4 percentage point margin. 

If Cheney does run for president as a Republican, she'd likely face stiff opposition from any of several others: Trump, DeSantis, and former Vice President Mike Pence, as well as several other notable Republicans. Moreover, her ability to generate interest among hard-core Republican presidential primary voters would be inherently limited — as her defeat in her own congressional primary made evident. 

Therefore, there's always the possibility — although Cheney has not publicly indicated this — that she'd quit the Republican Party altogether and seek political fortunes with another party or as an independent, where she could potentially appeal to a wider swath of the electorate. 

Adam Kinzinger

Kinzinger, the other Republican on the January 6 committee who is distancing himself from Trump and the GOP establishment, said he would love to run against Trump in 2024.

"I would love it. I really would," he said in an interview with the Huffington Post. "Even if he crushed me, like in a primary, to be able to stand up and call out the garbage is just a necessary thing, regardless of who it is. ... I think it'd be fun."

During an interview with the Washington Post, Kinzinger said he felt "dirty" after voting for Trump in the 2020 presidential election. He did it to "have credit" with the GOP base, he added.

"It's not something I can square away in my soul fully," he said.

Green Party and Libertarian Party

According to Ballotpedia, there are five Green Party and 13 Libertarian Party candidates who have already filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in 2024. 

Likely none of them have a shot. In 2020, Libertarian nominee Jo Jorgensen received just over 1% of the national vote, and Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins clocked in 0.31%

But "they can determine the outcome by draining votes away," Shrum said.

If Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader had not run in 2000, for example, there's almost no question that Democrat Al Gore would have become president instead of Republican George W. Bush, Shrum said. 

"It would have, without doubt, have carried Florida by the margin of thousands of votes," he said.

In addition, some argue that Jorgensen and the Libertarian Party siphoned crucial votes from Trump and ultimately elected Biden. 

But neither party has ever earned a single electoral vote, except in 1972, when Libertarian candidate John Hospers received the first and only electoral vote in the party's history — even if it wasn't entirely earned.

Libertarians have also shown the ability to get on all 50 state ballots, a feat the Green Party hasn't achieved yet.

Nevertheless, Green Party National co-chair Ahmed Eltouny is confident that a third-party candidate will emerge victorious in 2024.   

"Trump got a lot of these people who felt disenfranchised to go out and vote, and it wasn't important how qualified Joe Biden was, because these were all votes against Trump," he told Insider. "But I do think that in 2024, it will definitely revert back to finding someone who's anti-establishment." 

Tom Hanks

"Run, Forrest, run!" 

The beloved American actor who portrayed the main character in the comedy-drama film "Forrest Gump" would have instant name identification if he sought the highest office in the land. In 2013, a Reader's Digest poll named Hanks the most trusted person in America.

Hanks, 66, has always been outspoken about his political views. He has donated to Democrats, endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008 and subsequently for reelection in 2012, and publicly supported Joe Biden against Trump in 2020. Hanks even narrated Biden's presidential inauguration festivities.

Filmmaker Michael Moore reportedly twice asked Hanks to run for president in the past, but was turned down both times. 

But some people are hoping for a Dwayne Johnson/Tom Hanks ticket after the duo in 2017 joked about a White House bid on Saturday Night Live. And since Johnson said he'll run if "the people want it," there could be at least some truth beneath their comedy bit.

Angelina Jolie

Actress, film director, and social activist Angelina Jolie is yet another celebrity who might set her sights on winning the presidency in 2024. 

Earlier this year, Jolie attended an event at the White House where Biden signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act legislation — she is a vocal proponent. 

The 47-year-old Academy Award winner is a noted philanthropist and has served as a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees special envoy.

In 2018, the actress and humanitarian hinted that she might run for president.  

"I don't know if I'm fit for politics, but then I've also joked that I don't know if I have a skeleton left in my closet — I'm pretty open and out there, and I can take a lot on the chin," she said. "So that's good. But I honestly will do whatever I think can really make change."

Brock Pierce

Cryptocurrency — a mere buzzword just a couple years ago — is undoubtedly mainstream.

In 2024, voters may find Bitcoin entrepreneur Brock Pierce's name on the ballot. Again.

Pierce ran for president in 2020 as an independent but attracted little attention. He received 49,700 votes nationwide, with not quite half coming from voters in New York, according to records compiled by the Federal Election Commission.

"We get divided into making a fear-based decision to vote for red or blue, and I want to show people there's another way," he in 2020 told Insider.

"I can summarize why I'm running for office in one word: love. Love for this country, love for the American people at a time where that's what we need," he in 2020 told Darren Paltrowitz, host of the "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast. 

Pierce is now running for election to the US Senate to represent Vermont. But that doesn't mean he no longer has ambitions for the presidency. He told Paltrowitz in the same interview that he will run for office again.

"I'm running all the way through to 2024," he said.

Howard Stern

The self-described "king of all media" said if Trump becomes the Republican nominee in 2024, he'll "beat his ass."

On his SiriusXM show, Stern acknowledged his plans to run for president, adding that once elected, he'll work to eliminate the Electoral College. 

"I'm actually gonna probably have to run for president now," Stern said. "I went into a long-winded speech over the weekend to Robin [last name, his co-host] about how I am going to do the very simple thing that'll set the country straight: One vote, one person, no more of this Electoral College."

If he files to run for president in 2024, it wouldn't be Stern's first time running for public office.

Stern previously ran for governor of New York in 1994 as a Libertarian but dropped out of the race after refusing to disclose his personal finances — something that the multi-millionaire would have to do as a presidential candidate.

Dave Smith

Smith, a comedian and staunch Libertarian, is setting his sights on a 2024 presidential bid. If elected, he'd be the first professional comedian to occupy the Oval Office.

The 40-year-old host of "Part of the Problem" podcast is a prominent member of the Mises Caucus, which won control of the Libertarian Party in May at the party's national convention in Reno, when board member Angela McArdle won the Libertarian National Committee chair election with over 69% of the vote. Smith regularly appears as a political commentator on Fox News and The Joe Rogan Experience. 

"I really don't want to, but a lot of people here want me to and I understand why they do," he told libertarian magazine Reason. "I like what I'm doing. But I think I could do something and create something really cool. A cool moment for this cause."

This article was originally published on August 6, 2022, and updated to include new developments.

Read the original article on Business Insider

America is a new tax haven for the ultra-wealthy — and 13 states are holding billions in hidden assets

9 hours 49 min ago
Motorists ride on U.S. Interstate 90 near Sturgis, South Dakota.
  • Right now, billions of dollars of assets are held in secretive trusts across the country.
  • 13 states are "trust-subservient," according to a new report, catering to the ultra-wealthy.
  • In those states, billions of dollars remain untouched and untaxed.

The idea of billionaires squirreling away their wealth in far-flung tax havens is far from new, with trillions of dollars in assets parked between beaches and palm trees. But for many Americans, billions of dollars of untaxed wealth might actually be hiding in their backyards.

"The US has become a tax haven," Chuck Collins, the director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies, told Insider. "Wealthy people from around the world are bringing their assets and wealth to the United States to park it and avoid responsibility."

A new report from IPS, co-authored by Collins and Kalena Thomhave, finds that the world's elites can stay stateside if they want to stow away wealth without paying taxes. That's because 13 states in the US have transformed, or are in the process of transforming, into strongholds where untaxed wealth can flourish in trusts. Those untaxed assets can sit and grow for generations, without a dollar going towards public services.

In South Dakota, Nevada, Alaska, and Delaware, which the report identifies as the "Biggest Enablers," there's an estimated $575 billion socked away in trusts. In Nevada, a trust can remain untouched for 365 years, while in the other states they can exist indefinitely, with the exception of real estate in Delaware. Essentially, that means that there's no guardrails saying trusts have to be dissolved at some point and those assets sold off and taxed.

Meanwhile, the report dubbed Tennessee, Wyoming, and New Hampshire as "Bad Actors" with at least $800 billion stuffed in trusts. Rhode Island, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, Florida, and Texas are hosting over $300 billion as "Emerging Enablers." 

"There's kind of a race to the bottom in terms of who will lower their standards, who will require the least oversight, and who will be the most trust-subservient," Collins said.

All of those states are trust friendly, meaning that they have legislation or other measures in place that allow trusts holding assets to often remain anonymous or confidential, and to allow those trusts to exist in perpetuity or for hundreds of years — meaning that the assets never have to be sold or taxed when assets from the trust are received. 

In total, inequality researchers Gabriel Zucman, Thomas Piketty, and Emmanuel Saez estimate that, as of 2021, there's $5.626 trillion in trusts and estates.

"We can safely say we're talking hundreds of billions of dollars a year, trillions probably, that are not being subject to tax," Collins said. One tell-tale sign, he said, is that "the federal estate tax last year raised an appallingly small amount of money." According to the IRS, estate and gift taxes brought in around $27 billion last year — 0.7% of all taxes collected.

"It's costing the rest of us taxpayers billions and hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue," Collins said. 

The amount of money hidden away in trusts is one of the mechanisms that America's wealthiest utilize to reduce their tax burdens. Last year, a bombshell ProPublica report found that some of America's billionaires pay little to nothing in income taxes. All of the methodology the billionaires used on their tax bills was perfectly legal, exposing what experts say are some of the holes currently baked into the tax code.

Federal bans on certain types of trusts in which ownership is unclear, forcing trusts to be registered and disclosed, and federal legislation that would not allow trusts to exist indefinitely could curtail the practice, according to the report and Collins.

"From a perspective of inequality, this is a key mechanism of how intergenerational inequality is perpetuated," Collins said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump directed Democratic staffers of color to serve food during a White House dinner, books says

9 hours 51 min ago
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the America First Policy Institute in Washington, DC, on July 26, 2022.
  • Trump mistook a racially diverse group of congressional aides for waitstaff in 2017.
  • Then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus had to save the president from the gaffe, according to a new book by NYT's Maggie Haberman.
  • Trump also accused "illegals" of making him lose the popular vote in 2016, per Haberman's book.

Former President Donald Trump mistook a group of Democratic congressional staffers for waitstaff and directed them to serve dinner during the early years of his presidency, according to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman's new book, "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America." 

The book notes that the aides — part of Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi's staff — were a racially diverse group at the White House for a 2017 reception with Trump, according to Rolling Stone, who reviewed Haberman's book, set to be released Oct. 4.

Trump faced the staffers and asked them, "Why don't you get" the food, according to the book, before former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus corrected the president and fetched the actual waitstaff. 

In the same meeting, Trump left the room silent after he said his loss of the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 was due to "illegals" or undocumented immigrants casting ballots.

Pelosi verbally disagreed with the statement, Rolling Stone reported. 

Although Trump has long defended his relationship with the Black community, Latino community, and other marginalized groups, he has a long history of racist and inflammatory comments directed towards both.

Most famously, Trump promoted conspiracy theories that former President Barack Obama was not born in America. Trump also railed against immigrants from Central and South America, and previously expressed disdain about "s-hole" countries in Africa

Trump has also been sued by the DOJ, which alleged that he and his father discriminated against their Black tenants in the 1970s and violated the 1968 fair housing act. The Trumps settled the case.

Haberman's new book reveals insider details of Trump's time in the White House, including a moment where he told aides that he wouldn't leave the White House after 2020 election and claims that he called Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis "fat" and "whiny" in private.

Representatives for Pelosi, Schumer, and Trump did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. 

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New Alzheimer's drug slows cognitive decline by 27%, clinical trial finds

Tue, 09/27/2022 - 11:02pm
Eisai, one of the companies behind the drug, said it aims to hand the trial data over to the FDA for approval by March 2023.
  • A clinical trial of a new Alzheimer's drug from Eisai and Biogen has shown promising results.
  • The large-scale study saw cognitive decline in patients being slowed by 27% over 18 months.
  • The trial involved 1,795 patients with early-stage Alzheimer's.

A new Alzheimer's drug from Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai and US drugmaker Biogen has shown promising results in a large-scale clinical trial.

The companies announced the trial's success in a press release on Tuesday, saying their drug — called lecanemab — was observed to have slowed cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients by 27% over 18 months.

The companies said 1,795 patients with early-stage Alzheimer's were randomly selected to receive a placebo treatment or doses of lecanemab every two weeks. Their cognitive decline was then measured on six fronts, including "memory, orientation, judgment and problem solving, community affairs, home and hobbies, and personal care."

According to the statement, lecanemab significantly "reduced clinical decline" over the 18-month timeframe.

Lecanemab, per Eisai, is a monoclonal antibody treatment, which targets toxic amyloid plaques — protein clumps that researchers proposed were the cause of the neurodegeneration seen in Alzheimer's.

The companies noted that around 21% of the patients who received the lecanemab treatment experienced brain swelling that was visible on PET scans.

"Today's announcement gives patients and their families hope that lecanemab, if approved, can potentially slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, and provide a clinically meaningful impact on cognition and function," said Michel Vounatsos, Biogen's chief executive officer in the companies' joint press release.

Eisai's chief executive Haruo Naito said in the company's press release that the lecanemab study's success was "an important milestone for Eisai in fulfilling our mission to meet the expectations of the Alzheimer's disease community."

According to Eisai's press release, the company is currently aiming to submit its trial data to the US Food and Drug Administration for approval by March 2023.

Speaking to Statnews, Lon Schneider, an Alzheimer's expert at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, said it was likely that the FDA would approve lecanemab. Schneider warned, however, that experts would have to look into the trial results in more detail.

"This is a statistically robust and positive study but the treatment effect is small," Schneider told the outlet.

Ronald Petersen, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told NBC that the results are "a first step in the direction of making a significant impact on the disease."

"This is really positive for the field," Petersen told NBC. "I think it's going to motivate a lot more beneficial research down the road."

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Fast Company's Apple News account was hacked, sending offensive notifications to users

Tue, 09/27/2022 - 10:35pm
Apple logo at an Apple store on May 31, 2022 in Berlin, Germany.
  • Fast Company said its Apple News account was hacked.
  • "Two obscene and racist push notifications were sent about a minute apart," it said on Twitter.
  • Apple News said it has disabled Fast Company's account after the "incredibly offensive" alerts.

Fast Company's Apple News account sent out offensive messages to users in a hack on Tuesday evening.

The messages included a racial slur and an explicit sexual message, according to the Apple News notification seen by Insider.

Fast Company confirmed the hack. In a tweet, the business magazine wrote that its Apple News account sent "two obscene and racist push notifications" about a minute apart.

—Fast Company (@FastCompany) September 28, 2022

 

The hackers posted similar content on Fast Company's website, according to The Verge. The publisher's website also contained a post detailing how the hack was carried out, per The Verge.

Fast Company's website is now offline, showing a "404" error message.

Fast Company said it is investigating the situation. It has suspended its Apple News feed and shut down its company website.

—Fast Company (@FastCompany) September 28, 2022

Apple News said it has disabled Fast Company's channel after "an incredibly offensive alert" was sent.

—Apple News (@AppleNews) September 28, 2022

 

Insider was not immediately able to contact Fast Company for comment.

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All eyes are on DeSantis' relationship with Biden as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida. Here's how the previous 3 presidents worked (or didn't) with governors on disaster relief efforts.

Tue, 09/27/2022 - 10:19pm
President Joe Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
  • Hurricane Ian is forecasted to strike Florida's Gulf Coast on Wednesday.
  • Governors usually work directly with the White House during disasters, relying on the government for federal resources.
  • Here's a look at how the last three presidents handled disaster relief efforts and how Biden could address this crisis with DeSantis.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been one of President Joe Biden's loudest critics. He's attacked Biden's pandemic strategy, his immigration policy, and encouraged congressional Republicans to go after his administration if they take the US House in November's midterms.

But as Hurricane Ian gains strength to strike Florida's Gulf Coast, DeSantis may need to put politics on pause as he leans on the federal government for disaster support.

DeSantis has rejected federal aid before: In 2021, The Associated Press reported the governor vetoed funding from the American Rescue Plan, which included $1 billion for an Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund. The governor claimed the funding had strings attached — such as parts of it only being accessible through grants — that made it unusable, per the outlet. 

Ian — which could become a Category 4 storm — will be DeSantis' first major hurricane as governor, just six weeks before Election Day.  

Earlier Tuesday, Biden called the mayors of Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater, Florida, to discuss preparations for Ian including evacuation efforts — but not DeSantis.

However, on Tuesday evening, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted that Biden and DeSantis had spoken to discuss steps the federal government is taking to help Florida. "The President and the Governor committed to continued close coordination," she said. 

During emergencies, The White House can engage the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the agency responsible for preparing and recovering from the impacts of natural disasters.

It can also invoke The Stafford Act, which allows a state governor to authorize the use of the military for disaster relief operations. The act authorizes the president to make federal aid available to states undergoing a natural or man-made disaster.

Here's how the last three presidents worked with governors in their disaster relief efforts.

George W. Bush and Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Louisiana, claiming at least 1,800 lives, displacing nearly one million people, and causing property damage that totaled over $125 billion. More than 20,000 residents took shelter in the Superdome, the city's NFL stadium, where they were stranded for weeks. 

Days after Katrina hit, Michael D. Brown, the head of FEMA, admitted on live television that his agency had just learned of the thousands of people at the Superdome without food or water. 

In the days that followed, the Bush administration drew intense criticism for its slow response. 

Instead of being on the ground to support the relief effort, then-President George W. Bush chose to fly over the region on Air Force One. "It's devastating," he said as he looked down, according to The Washington Post. "It's got to be doubly devastating on the ground."

UNSPECIFIED - AUGUST 31: In this handout photo provided by the White House, U.S. President George W. Bush looks out over devastation from Hurricane Katrina as he heads back to Washington D.C. August 31, 2005 aboard Air Force One. Bush cut short his vacation and returned to Washington to monitor relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina.

New Orleans Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin blasted the White House, saying: "They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn — excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed," he said.

Democratic Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said the state's despair was made worse by a Republican-led White House eager to blame someone else for its failed disaster response: "I just thought I could shout more loudly than the noise around me, but in the end I couldn't. There was just too much pain," she said.

Barack Obama and Chris Christie

Former President Barack Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was swift. The day before the storm hit New Jersey, Obama signed emergency declarations for Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.

The declarations allowed FEMA to transfer resources directly to state, local, and tribal organizations to make preparations in advance of the storm. More than $1.2 billion was dedicated to housing assistance, including costs for temporary housing, and repairing damaged property.

The hurricane killed 285 people and caused $70 billion in damage. During a visit to the coast to assess the destruction, Obama and New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie formed an unlikely bond

Photos from that day show the two side-by-side. Christie said, "I want to thank the president for coming here today. It's really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that's going on here in New Jersey and I appreciate it very much." 

The New York Times reported Christie's praise of Obama didn't sit well with Republican leaders who were offended at how closely he worked with the president.

FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama is greeted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie upon his arrival at Atlantic City International Airport, in Atlantic City, N.J. Obama traveled to region to take an aerial tour of the Atlantic Coast in New Jersey in areas damaged by superstorm Sandy. Ever since President George W. Bush's administration was crippled by its response to Hurricane Katrina, politicians and news organizations have been acutely aware of the stakes raised by big storms.

According to a White House pool report, Obama told survivors at a shelter in Brigantine, "I want to just let you know that your governor is working overtime to make sure that as soon as possible everybody can get back to normal."

Donald Trump and Carmen Yulín Cruz

In 2017, three major hurricanes occurred over the span of two months during former President Donald Trump's tenure: Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Hurricane Irma in Florida, and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. 

Harvey was one of the costliest disasters in the US and one of the first serious crises of his presidency. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa called out Trump on Twitter to "keep on top of" the hurricane and warned him not to "make the same mistake President Bush made with Katrina."

Questions were raised as to whether Trump would handle the situation appropriately, given he had "zero disaster-response experience," according to Matt Mackowiak, a Texas-based Republican strategist. 

While Trump received flak for downplaying how climate change contributed to the intensity of Harvey and Irma, it was nothing compared to the criticism he earned for how his White House handled Hurricane Maria.

The White House made few preparations in the days leading up to the storm, and it took weeks before FEMA committed its full resources to the island.

Despite nearly 3,000 people dying, the former president referred to his administration's handling of the disaster as "incredibly successful."

He also tossed paper towels to crowds of survivors during a visit to the territory. 

U.S. President Donald Trump throws rolls of paper towels into a crowd of local residents affected by Hurricane Maria as he visits Calgary Chapel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S., October 3, 2017.

Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who led her city's response during Maria, blasted Trump's claim, saying: "The president keeps adding insult to injury and I think his words are despicable. They really do not have any connection with reality."

During Hurricane Dorian in 2019, Trump altered a map from the National Hurricane Center to support his false claim that Alabama was in the path of Dorian. The incident was referred to as Sharpiegate and the Category 5 storm ravaged the Bahamas instead. 

Joe Biden and Ron DeSantis

President Joe Biden has already had to deal with a number of hurricanes such as Hurricanes Ida and Nicholas in 2021, far but appears to be taking the necessary steps to actively prepare for the impending damage of Ian. 

On Sept, 18, Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico, causing an island-wide blackout and mass flooding. Biden declared a state of emergency as the storm approached, ordering federal assistance to supplement disaster response efforts.

As of Monday, an estimated 746,000 homes and businesses were still without power, according to Reuters. The White House has provided additional support, approving 100% retroactive federal funding to cover debris removal, emergency protective measures, and direct federal assistance for 30 days.

As Hurricane Ian inches toward Florida, FEMA announced federal emergency aid would be made available to supplement the state, tribal, and local response efforts.

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House Democratic leadership finally released the text of their bill to ban members of Congress from trading stocks. Here's what's in it.

Tue, 09/27/2022 - 9:08pm
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a press conference on Capitol Hill on August 12, 2022.
  • House Democratic leaders released the "Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest in Government Act."
  • The text comes after months of back-and-forth between Pelosi and lawmakers, and a vote may come this week.
  • Interest in lawmakers' stock trades rose after Insider's "Conflicted Congress" investigation.

House Democratic leaders late Tuesday released the text of a bill to ban members of Congress and other government officials — including Supreme Court justices — from owning or trading stocks ahead of a possible vote this week.

The 26-page-long "Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest in Government Act" would also increase penalties for violating federal conflicts-of-interest law and strengthen several transparency provisions.

It comes after Insider's "Conflicted Congress" investigation found widespread violations of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, as well as countless potential conflicts of interest among lawmakers.

While these violations are decidedly bipartisan, with Republicans and Democrats alike breaking the rules that Congress set for itself, numerous high-profile Democrats are among the stock-disclosure scofflaws.

They include Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, and Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Tom Malinowski of New Jersey, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.

Members of Congress in both parties and across both chambers have proposed legislation to ban the practice, and the Committee on House Administration held a hearing to examine the issue in April.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, after initial opposition to the idea, tasked Committee on House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren with writing the legislation, which led to an insular process where the California Democrat — who's close to Pelosi — largely did not consult with lawmakers who've written their own ready-to-go bills, leading to months of wrangling and delays.

Pelosi's husband, venture capitalist Paul Pelosi, is one of the most active traders among congressional spouses, having bought and sold tens of millions of dollars worth of stock and stock options during the current congressional session.

Members of Congress won't have much time to consider the details of the bill; the House is set to be in session only from Wednesday evening until Friday afternoon, with other must-pass government funding legislation also on the legislative calendar. Hurricane Ian, a massive and potentially deadly storm, is also about to strike Florida's Gulf Coast, prompting widespread evacuations and government mobilization.

Further complicating matters is House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's reported opposition to the legislation, which will add to existing opposition from some corners of the party

While the House leadership bill is driven by top Democrats, some notable Republicans have, in principle, supported the idea of a congressional stock ban; Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Rep. Chip Roy of Texas have sponsored or co-sponsored bills calling for such a ban, though other Republican have complained of being shut out of the legislative process.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who himself does not trade stocks, said earlier this year that he'd consider barring members of Congress from trading stocks if the GOP wins the House in November.

The Senate, for its part, is unlikely to take action on its own proposal until after the November midterm elections.

Here's what the bill includes:

The bill would ban top officials across all three branches — as well as the spouses and dependent children of members of Congress — from owning or trading stocks, as well as cryptocurrencies.

In addition to cryptocurrencies, the bill also bans covered government officials from owning other "digital assets." The bill doesn't expressly ban "non-fungible tokens," or NFTs, by name, but does state that "coins and tokens" are subject to prohibitions, and that other digital assets that rely on blockchain technology may be subject to regulation by government ethics offices.

Along with lawmakers and their senior staff, the president, vice president, political appointees, Supreme Court justices, and the rest of the federal judiciary are included in the sweeping, wide-ranging ban.

The inclusion of the Supreme Court has been a source of contention — some advocates have warned that including the judiciary is likely to garner Republican opposition, making it a so-called "poison pill." But Hawley told Insider at the Capitol on Thursday that he was not generally opposed to the judiciary's inclusion.

"That doesn't bother me," he said. "I'm fine with that."

In order to comply with the ban, members of Congress may place holdings into qualified blind trusts, though the bill would allow lawmakers to put their money in range of other investments including diversified mutual funds and exchange traded funds; US Treasury bills, bonds, and notes; and state and municipal bonds.

One ethics watchdog — Walter Shaub, a senior ethics fellow at the Project on Government Oversight who's worked with some members on stock ban legislation — immediately questioned whether the qualified blind trusts described in the House leadership bill would truly be blind to those who establish them.

The legislation would require individuals to comply with the ban within 180 days of the bill's enactment, or when they become a member of Congress (or President, or federal judge).

The bill also increases fines for violating the STOCK Act to $1,000, increasing the penalty from the meager $200 fine currently in place, and provides for the penalty to be adjusted by inflation.

Members of Congress would also be required to file financial disclosures electronically, eliminating a long-standing problem with lawmakers submitting illegible information about their personal finances.

The bill would likewise require the government to disclose, on a public website, the identities of members of Congress or other covered government officials who paid a fine for violating financial trading laws. The amount of the fines would also be public.

Today, it's impossible to comprehensively review who has paid such fines, as the government does not make such information a matter of public record and most members of Congress, for their parts, refused to volunteer the information to Insider when asked.

Here's the text of the bill:

 

 

 

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The DOJ is having such a hard time finding document digitization vendors willing to work with Trump that it requested more time for the special master review

Tue, 09/27/2022 - 8:54pm
Special master Raymond Dearie.
  • The special master will have to wait a little longer to get his hands on files lugged to Mar-a-Lago.
  • None of the five vendors the DOJ suggested to scan docs wanted to work with Trump, per a new filing.
  • The DOJ asked for one more day to choose someone to digitize 11,000 files for the special master.

A special master set to review tens of thousands of documents in the Department of Justice's probe of Donald Trump may have to wait a bit longer as several middlemen have blown off Trump.

According to new court documents filed Tuesday, the DOJ is asking special master Raymond Dearie for an additional day to turn over non-classified documents in the investigation. Federal prosecutors said they needed until September 28 because none of the five vendors they suggested to digitize the cache of documents "were willing to be engaged by Plaintiff."

"Plaintiff informed us this morning that none of the five document-review vendors proposed by the government before last Tuesday's preliminary conference were willing to be engaged by Plaintiff," DOJ lawyers said in a filing on Tuesday. "To avoid further delay in the vendor's scanning and processing of the Seized Materials (defined to exclude "documents bearing classification markings"), the government issued a request for a task order this afternoon with a deadline of tomorrow (Wednesday, September 28, 2022) at noon."

Prosecutors said that they'd be willing to engage the vendors, adding, "the government is highly confident at least one vendor will respond."

They also said that Trump should be expected to pay for the process, and that they estimated that between the selection of a vendor and scanning of the files, the turnover could be concluded by October 7.

Recently, Dearie has appointed an aide who Trump will pay $500 an hour and has asked the Trump team to provide proof that the FBI planted evidence during their search of Mar-a-Lago, which Trump has claimed. In its latest filing, the DOJ also prodded Trump's team to submit an inventory list of the materials seized by the FBI.

"The Special Master needs to know that that he is reviewing all of the materials seized from Mar- a-Lago on August 8, 2022 – and no additional materials – before he categorizes the seized documents and adjudicates privilege claims," Prosecutors said.

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Elon Musk's own data scientists couldn't find many bots on Twitter, and he hid that crucial information, the company says

Tue, 09/27/2022 - 7:31pm
Elon Musk
  • Twitter says Elon Musk was presented weeks ago with his own analysis on "bots" or fake accounts.
  • His chosen data firms found the bots to be around 5% to 11%, Twitter's legal team said.
  • Musk has claimed in the past that at least 20% of Twitter accounts are bots.

Elon Musk's own data scientists failed to find a lot of "bots" on Twitter, and certainly well below the billionaire's public estimates, according to lawyers for the social media company.

The day before Musk sent his first letter to Twitter executives terminating his agreement to acquire the company for $44 billion, two firms he hired to analyze massive Twitter user data reported their own estimates of bots on Twitter. The firm Cyabra told Musk it estimated Twitter to possibly have 11% bots or fake accounts. The other firm CounterAction said its analysis turned up 5.3% bots, lawyers for Twitter said during a hearing on Tuesday.

That's very different from Musk's estimates. He said in May on Twitter that fake or spam accounts on the platform could be "much" higher than 20%. In his termination letter, Musk said he was backing out of the deal because bots on the platform were "wildly higher" than the 5% estimate Twitter has disclosed publicly. Twitter has sued to force him to complete the acquisition and the case is heading to court in Delaware in October.

Both findings by Musk's chosen firms are "very much in line with Twitter's claims," a lawyer for the company said. "None of these analyses remotely supported what Mr. Musk told the Twitter parties and told the world in the termination letter he served up on July 8."

Twitter's lawyer went on to accuse Musk's legal team of intentionally withholding the data during the court battle, saying they had only just been able to view the documents as of Tuesday, despite seeking them since the early days of the lawsuit.

"If there are any analyses that exist that actually substantiate what Mr. Musk told Twitter and told the world, they certainly have not been produced in discovery in this case," the attorney added during the hearing.

This may be a dicey argument because 11% bots is still significantly higher than Twitter's own estimates. Musk's legal team declined to comment.

Musk's primary argument for ditching the deal has centered on his claims that Twitter intentionally misled him, investors and the public about the number of authentic accounts on its platform, or those operated by a single human user. Musk claims this amounts to fraud and allows him to walk away from the acquisition cost-free. Earlier this month, the billionaire amended his countersuit against Twitter to include new claims based on the whistleblower disclosure of a former security chief at the social media company, Pieter "Mudge" Zatko.

Among the new claims are that Twitter has not complied with a 2011 consent decree with the FTC regarding its data security and that it doesn't hold proper intellectual property licenses for some important machine learning work. Musk now says that these issues also allow him to back out of the deal entirely. Legal experts are unconvinced that any of Musk's claims are strong enough to win this case.

Twitter has said that it investigated and addressed all of Zatko's claims when he raised them during his year working at the company, and it is now looking for any connection between Zatko and Musk or his advisors.

While speculation continues that an out-of-court settlement could happen between the two sides, the case is still scheduled for a five-day trial beginning Oct. 17.

Are you a tech employee or someone with insight to share? Contact Kali Hays at khays@insider.com, on secure messaging app Signal at 949-280-0267, or through Twitter DM at @hayskali. Reach out using a non-work device.

Contact Grace Kay at gkay@insider.com. 

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Former GOP Rep. Denver Riggleman says his mother told him 'I'm sorry you were ever elected' via text after he criticized Trump: book

Tue, 09/27/2022 - 6:25pm
Former Rep. Denver Riggleman of Virginia.
  • Denver Riggleman said his mother criticized him via text after he spoke out against Trump and QAnon.
  • "You are now part of the swamp ... I'm sorry you were ever elected," she reportedly wrote to him.
  • Riggleman, an ex-advisor to the Jan. 6 committee, detailed the exchange in his new book, "The Breach."

Former GOP Rep. Denver Riggleman — an ex-advisor to the January 6 committee — said in his newly-released book that his mother sent him a text message stating she was "sorry you were ever elected" after he criticized then-President Donald Trump and the conspiracy theory-driven QAnon movement in October 2020.

Riggleman, who represented Virginia's 5th Congressional District from 2019 to 2021, detailed his mother's reactions to his outspoken statements about Trump and his condemnation of QAnon in the book, "The Breach."

"What will it take to wake you up son ... I love you so, but cannot stand by and listen to your elitist attitude and being praised by elitist journalist and democrats," Riggleman's mother wrote in the texts, according to the book. "You are now part of the swamp ... I'm sorry you were ever elected ... You are officially a politician ... I have cried over you and my heart is broken by you."

Riggleman wrote in the book that the message was sent after he appeared on CNN during a segment with journalist Jake Tapper, who interviewed the then-congressman on Oct. 14, shortly before the 2020 presidential election.

While on air, Riggleman condemned Trump for retweeting an article that promoted a fringe theory about the Navy SEAL Team Six, former President Barack Obama, and then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

In September that year, he introduced a bipartisan House resolution with Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey that rebuked the movement. The legislation passed overwhelmingly in the lower chamber by a 371-18 vote.

Riggleman in the book continued to ruminate over his mother's political disagreements with him.

"I knew my mom and I were not on the same page politically, but this is something else," the former congressman wrote. "Any hope for a mostly normal relationship seemed dim. She was damn near disavowing me."

Riggleman wrote that his mother was religious and also firmly in the Republican camp.

He also revealed that his mother told him to leave her home after he ditched his Mormon mission, but noted that they still spoke to each other. However, it was only until he unsuccessfully sought the 2017 Virginia GOP gubernatorial nomination that their relationship began to mend.

In 2018, Riggleman was elected to the House, but lost renomination in 2020 after conservative outrage over him officiating a same-sex wedding the year before.

After he was ousted in the GOP primary, Riggleman became more vocal in his criticism of QAnon and the acceptance of the movement in some quarters of the party.

"My relationship with my mom made it through my break with her Mormon Church," he wrote in the book. "I wasn't sure if it could survive the Church of Trump."

Riggleman said that after the relationship with his mother frayed, they eventually came together after his sister experienced some serious health issues — but he didn't speak with his mother about his work on the committee probing the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.

"If I can help even one person turn away from this fringe conspiracy culture or recognize Trump for the un-American grifter that he is, it would make everything worth it," he wrote. "I'd be especially happy if that one person was my mom."

After the 2020 presidential election, Riggleman during an interview with Forbes went on to criticize Trump in harsher terms, blasting his refusal to acknowledge Biden's election victory, along with his character.

"He got so desperate to retain power that he forgot he was serving people and not himself," Riggleman said at the time.

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Doug Mastriano accepts $500 donation from the founder of Gab, a self-styled Christian nationalist who says Jews are unwelcome in his far-right movement

Tue, 09/27/2022 - 6:25pm
State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, a Republican candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, takes part in a primary night election gathering in Chambersburg, Pa., Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
  • Pennsylvania Republican Doug Mastriano accepted $500 from Andrew Torba, the CEO of Gab.
  • Torba is a self-styled Christian nationalist whose Gab website is favored by far-right extremists.
  • Mastriano paid Gab $5,000 to promote his campaign but later said Torba "doesn't speak for me."

In July, following fierce criticism from Democrats and Jewish leaders, Republicans among them, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano issued a statement declaring that Andrew Torba, the self-styled Christian nationalist founder of the far-right social network Gab, "doesn't speak for me or my campaign."

Days earlier, however, Mastriano — who won the GOP nomination for governor with the backing of former President Donald Trump — accepted a $500 contribution from Torba, who has frequently posted antisemitic rants and declared Jews unwelcome in his far-right movement, per a campaign finance report released Tuesday and first reported by Politico's Holly Otterbein.

"Doug Mastriano should return this money and immediately condemn Andrew Torba's vile antisemitism," Manuel Bonder, a spokesperson for Mastriano's Democratic opponent, Josh Shapiro, said in a statement to Insider. "Unfortunately we know he won't because he has shown Pennsylvanians time and time again that this is exactly who he is."

Mastriano did not respond to a request for comment. Since launching his campaign for governor, Mastriano — a PA state senator and 2020 election denier who was seen at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 — has refused to address questions from the mainstream press, granting interviews only to avowedly conservative media outlets.

According to the campaign filing, Torba, a Pennsylvania resident, donated the money on July 22, a day after the Republican Jewish Coalition joined a legion of critics in blasting Mastriano's campaign for its association with Gab. Earlier in the month, it was revealed that Mastriano had paid Gab $5,000 to promote his campaign, with new users of the site automatically following his account, HuffPost reported. Gab was also the site used by the mass shooter who targeted the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, shooting to death 11 people after using the social media network to accuse a Jewish refugee resettlement organization of bringing "invaders in that kill our people."

Mastriano, who was the Trump campaign's "point person" for a scheme to appoint fake electors and overturn the 2020 election, according to emails obtained by The New York Times, also sat for a friendly interview with Torba, despite the latter having "engaged in multiple antisemitic tirades" online, in the words of the Anti-Defamation League.

The Gab founder has shared a cartoon blaming Jews for killing Jesus (a "[h]elpful infographic," he wrote on Twitter) and stated his desire is to overcome "Judeo-Bolshevik" society, using a term preferred by neo-Nazis who paint communism as a Jewish plot. He has also said even conservative Jews are unwelcome, flatly stating, according to Media Matters: "We don't want people who are Jewish." 

On July 28, six days after accepting Torba's money, Mastriano deleted his Gab account and issued a statement distancing himself from the site and its founder — while blaming Democrats and the media for "smears."

"Andrew Torba doesn't speak for me or my campaign. I reject antisemitism in any form," Mastriano wrote. Extremist speech, he added, is an "unfortunate but inevitable cost of living in a free society."

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Some of the most important weapons in the war in Ukraine aren't new and aren't fancy

Tue, 09/27/2022 - 6:21pm
Ukrainians load a Russian T-72 onto a truck outside the town of Izyum on September 24.
  • Coverage of the war in Ukraine has often focused on the new, high-tech weapons being used there.
  • But older, less sophisticated weapons, many of them Soviet-designed, are doing much of the fighting.

In Ukraine, a handful of newer weapons — such as US-made HIMARS rockets and Turkish-made TB2 attack drones — have dominated the headlines, but it's the older weapons, mainly Soviet-era designs, that are still doing the bulk of the fighting.

"A lot of the most important weapon systems are not new things," Rob Lee, a US expert on the Russian military, said of the war in Ukraine at a recent conference hosted by the New America think tank.

For example, when Russia invaded in Ukraine, its air force was widely expected to play a decisive role, especially given the inferiority in numbers and quality of Ukrainian aircraft.

Instead, Moscow's airpower has almost been a minor factor in the conflict, with Russian pilots reluctant to operate in Ukrainian airspace following heavy losses early in the conflict.

One reason for this has been Ukraine's Soviet-era air-defense systems, such as the S-300 and Buk-M1 anti-aircraft missiles.

Ukrainian troops train with a Soviet-made S-300 air-defense system in Crimea in July 1995.

"I think arguably the most important development is that Ukraine's air defense has held out and they continue to prevent the Russian Air Force from interdicting things beyond Ukrainian frontlines," Lee said. "Russia can't hit HIMARS. They can't really target Ukraine command-and-control very effectively. They can't stop them from resupplying."

"The most important reason is probably things like the Buk-M1 or S-300 systems. These are Soviet systems. They're not new. They're not fancy. They're not sexy, but they play such an important role," Lee added. "They've allowed more modern systems like HIMARS to play a very important role."

Coverage of the war often credits Western weapons sent to Ukraine as turning the tide on the ground and allowing a Ukrainian counteroffensive to roll back Russian gains.

But those Javelin and NLAW anti-tank missiles and HIMARS rockets were still in US and British warehouses when Russia invaded in February 2022. Ukraine wouldn't receive them for weeks or months, as the US and other nations hesitated to send big weapons, such as artillery.

The weapons that Ukraine used to halt the Russian advance were mainly older designs: T-72 and T-64 tanks (which date back to the 1960s and 1970s), MiG-29 fighters, and Soviet-era multiple rocket launchers and machine guns.

The equipment has been updated with new electronics, munitions, and other upgrades. For example, Ukraine extended the range and modernized the electronics of the Soviet Kh-35 anti-ship missile to produce the indigenous R-360 Neptune, which sank the cruiser Moskva — flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet — in April 2022.

Ukrainian troops fire a BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher in the Luhansk region on June 12.

In the military sense, the strangest aspect of the Russo-Ukraine War is that both armies have essentially similar arsenals and tactics that date to when Russia and Ukraine were part of the Soviet Union.

For Ukraine, this has an unexpected benefit: All those captured Soviet tanks and artillery can be easily reused by Ukrainian crews accustomed to using those models.

This is changing, however. Ukraine is fielding more and more Western weapons as its older Soviet equipment is destroyed or replaced. While newer and more technically advanced, this polyglot array of arms from more than 30 countries will pose logistics and integration difficulties and require Ukrainian forces to adopt a more Western style of high-tech warfare.

Russia faces are more challenging outlook. Moscow has deployed some new weapons, such as hypersonic missiles and the T-90 tank (one of which Ukraine just captured intact), but with Western sanctions depriving it of electronics and other imported components, Russia will have increasing difficulty manufacturing advanced weapons.

It's a sign of desperation that after losing more than 1,000 tanks in the war, Russia is using T-62 tanks that were obsolete nearly a half-century ago. They're better than no tanks at all, and they show that old weapons may be phased out, but they don't die.

Michael Peck is a defense writer whose work has appeared in Forbes, Defense News, Foreign Policy magazine, and other publications. He holds a master's in political science. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Biden calls DeSantis about Hurricane Ian after the GOP governor — who otherwise frequently criticizes the president — said 'we have got to work together'

Tue, 09/27/2022 - 6:18pm
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference at the Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, in Largo, Florida. DeSantis was updating residents of the path of Hurricane Ian.
  • President Joe Biden called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis about Hurricane Ian on Tuesday night. 
  • DeSantis hours earlier said he'd welcome a call from the president and that it was a time to work together. 
  • "My phone line is open," DeSantis said at a press conference in Tallahassee. 

MIAMI, Florida — President Joe Biden called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Tuesday night, just hours after the Republican governor said he'd be receptive to a conversation as Hurricane Ian approaches Sarasota. 

"President Biden spoke this evening with Governor DeSantis of Florida to discuss the steps the Federal government is taking to help Florida prepare for Hurricane Ian," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted Tuesday evening. "The President and the Governor committed to continued close coordination." 

It was not immediately clear why Biden didn't call DeSantis earlier and White House officials didn't explain the delay when asked about it repeatedly at Tuesday's press briefing. DeSantis has been one of Biden's most frequent critics, and often calls the president "Brandon" — a nickname that alludes to the GOP chant "F-ck Joe Biden." 

But DeSantis appeared to put politics aside earlier in the day as the danger of a category 4, life-threatening storm loomed over his state. He suggested during a press conference in Tallahassee on Tuesday just after 5 p.m. that he'd welcome a call from Biden. 

"I'm happy to brief the president if he's interested in hearing what we are doing in Florida," DeSantis said at the press conference, held in Tallahassee. "My view on all this is you have people's lives at stake, you have their property at stake, and we don't have time for pettiness.

"We have got to work together to make sure we are doing the best job for them. My phone line is open."

He added that Florida officials "appreciate" how quickly Biden approved the emergency declaration. 

DeSantis had already been in touch with other federal officials. Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, spoke to DeSantis over the phone on Friday about Hurricane Ian.

On Tuesday, DeSantis said that Gracia Szczech, the regional administrator for FEMA, had been with Florida officials for several days. 

"We feel like we have a good relationship with FEMA," he said.

Biden called other Florida elected officials ahead of the storm, including Tampa Mayor Jane Castor Tampa and St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welsh — both Democrats — and Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard, a centrist Republican. Biden raised the calls during an event in the White House the Rose Garden but did not mention DeSantis. 

"I told each one of them whatever they need — I mean this sincerely — to contact me directly and they know how to do that," the president said. "I have a lot of personnel down there already. We are here to support them in every way we can." 

The storm is set to hit all three cities and the first landfall is expected Wednesday night. DeSantis said it was predicted to get stronger and to cross the state and then head north on Friday morning, toward Georgia or South Carolina. Roughly 2.5 million Floridians are in regions with mandatory evacuations. 

"This thing is the real deal it is a major, major storm," DeSantis said. 

Presidents and governors typically hold a phone call at a time of natural disasters so presidents can offer federal relief and rescue, as well as show bipartisanship. 

DeSantis is up for reelection in six weeks. He has been a frequent Biden critic on COVID-19 mitigation measures, coronavirus vaccines and treatments, and on immigration policy.

It's possible he will challenge Biden for president in 2024, particularly if former President Donald Trump doesn't seek the White House again. 

Biden was set to appear at a campaign event in Florida Tuesday alongside DeSantis' Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist, but the White House canceled the event due to the storm. The Biden administration has criticized DeSantis after he recently authorized planes to take Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. 

But DeSantis and Biden have brokered bipartisan moments. For instance, they came together roughly a year ago following the Surfside, Florida, building collapse.

DeSantis also sat near first lady Jill Biden at Surfside's one-year memorial this year, and neither made mention of the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which occurred just as the event began. 

This story has been updated after President Joe Biden called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

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Democrats strip Manchin's permitting reform bill from must-pass government funding measure after both Republicans and progressives pledged to vote against it

Tue, 09/27/2022 - 5:54pm
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia at a hearing on Capitol Hill on September 22, 2022.
  • Manchin's permitting reform plan was struck from a must-pass government funding bill on Tuesday.
  • Progressives opposed it for environmental reasons, while Republicans want an even stronger bill.
  • It's a major defeat for the West Virginia Democrat, who might otherwise have a hard time passing it.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia suffered a major setback on Tuesday after his legislation to reform permitting for energy projects was struck from a must-pass government funding bill shortly before it was set to receive a vote.

"I have asked Majority Leader Schumer to remove the permitting language from the Continuing Resolution we will vote on this evening," said Manchin in a statement. Shortly thereafter, Schumer announced the removal of the provisions.

—Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) September 27, 2022

 

The bill had met opposition from Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and other progressive Democrats, who raised environmental concerns about the bill. The bill would've green-lit a pipeline in Manchin's home state of West Virginia.

But the bill was also opposed by Republicans, who favor a more expansive proposal from Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and remain embittered by Manchin's support for the Inflation Reduction Act.

—Richard Shelby (@SenShelby) September 27, 2022

 

Manchin, noting the lack of votes for the continuing resolution, declared that a "failed vote on something as critical as comprehensive permitting reform only serves to embolden leaders like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin who wish to see America fail."

The removal of Manchin's permitting reform legislation represents an unusual defeat for the usually-pivotal conservative Democrat.

Capito told Bloomberg's Erik Wasson that she's willing to work with Manchin on putting the bill into the National Defense Authorization Act, which the Senate will likely consider in October.

But there is now less pressure on Democratic senators to support the controversial provisions, which came about as the result of a side deal between Manchin and Schumer ahead of the Senate vote on the Inflation Reduction Act, a slimmed-down version of Democrats' "Build Back Better" social spending and climate bill that Manchin killed last year.

"I want to congratulate the more than 650 environmental groups and community organizations who made clear that, in the midst of the horrific climate crisis that we face, the last thing we need is a side deal which would build more pipelines and fossil fuel projects that would have substantially increased carbon emissions," said Sanders in a statement about the change to the continuing resolution.

"This is a victory for the survival of the planet and a major loss for the fossil fuel industry," he added.

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iOS 16 gives your iPhone a haptic keyboard that vibrates with each tap — here's how to turn it on

Tue, 09/27/2022 - 5:45pm
A built-in haptic keyboard for the iPhone is among the new features in iOS 16.
  • When enabled, the iPhone's haptic keyboard vibrates each time you tap a key.
  • You can turn this on or off from the Sound & Haptics section of the Settings app.
  • You need to have iOS 16 or later to use the haptic keyboard.

Some third-party keyboards have offered the option of haptic feedback for quite some time, but if you prefer the built-in iOS keyboard, you can now enable haptics there as well. When enabled, you can now get a subtle vibration with every keypress of the default keyboard, as if there's a "bump" under your fingertip. Not only does it provide positive confirmation you've tapped a key, but many people find the "bump" with each tap to be very satisfying as well.

How to turn on the iPhone haptic keyboard  

To take advantage of haptic feedback on the keyboard, your iPhone needs to be running iOS 16 or later. If you don't see the haptic feedback option, check your version of iOS and update your iPhone if needed. Here is how to turn it on. 

1. Start the Settings app.

2. Tap Sound & Haptics.

You can find the haptic keyboard controls in the Sound & Haptics section of the Settings app.

3. Scroll down and tap Keyboard Feedback

4. Turn on Haptic by swiping the button to the right.  

Once enabled, you'll feel a subtle "bump" with each keypress.

Now you should feel a slight "bump" every time you tap a key on the keyboard. With haptics enabled, you might decide you don't also need the "click" sound that accompanies each keypress as well. If so, you can disable Sound by swiping the button to the left on the Keyboard Feedback page.

If you ever decide you want to turn it off, return to Sound & Haptics in the Settings app and disable Haptic.

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The 11 best Xbox accessories, including wireless headsets, customizable controllers, and extra storage

Tue, 09/27/2022 - 5:40pm

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There are several excellent Xbox accessories that can help improve your gaming experience.
  • Some of our top picks include Microsoft's Elite Series 2 controller and its budget-friendly stereo headset. 
  • Extra storage, battery packs, and wireless adapters are also great options for Xbox gamers. 
  • Many of our recommended Xbox accessories work with Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC.

Microsoft's Xbox consoles are designed as all-in-one entertainment devices, but a few key accessories can improve the experience even more. For some, an upgrade from the standard Xbox controller can make all the difference, while others might prefer expanding the console's storage space with an external hard drive to save hours on future downloads and updates.

Luckily there's no shortage of peripherals available for Xbox consoles, whether they're made by Microsoft directly or third-party manufacturers. Key accessories, like controllers and headsets, are generally designed to work across all current Xbox consoles, from the older Xbox One to the more recent Xbox Series X and S. 

We've put together some of our favorite Xbox accessories based on our gaming expertise, hands-on testing, and availability. Most of our picks will work with Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and Windows computers. We've also included some devices for use with the Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming service.

Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller

If you're looking to upgrade from the standard Xbox wireless controller, Microsoft's Elite line of gamepads offers improvements to nearly every aspect of the device. First, the Elite Series 2 is rechargeable via USB-C instead of using AA batteries, and it lasts for up to 40 hours. 

The Elite controller has four extra rear paddles that can be custom mapped to different controls, and the Elite can store up to three customization profiles to swap between different button layouts on the fly. The controller even lets you adjust how far down the rear triggers can be pressed.

The standard version of the Elite 2 comes with customizable parts like different analog sticks and directional pads, but the lower priced Elite 2 Core doesn't include the four rear paddles or additional parts. The Elite 2 Core package also lacks the magnetic charging stand and carrying case that comes with the standard Elite 2.

Microsoft will also start letting users create their own custom designs of the Xbox Elite controller later this fall in Xbox Design Lab.

Victrix Gambit Controller

If you're a competitive gamer who wants the absolute fastest controller possible, the Victrix Gambit is the choice for you. To provide the fastest response time possible, the controller can only use wired connections to your Xbox or PC. The included USB-C cable is just under 10 feet long and can be detached for storage or travel with the included carrying case.

Like the Xbox Elite controller, the Victrix Gambit is highly customizable, including 14 swappable components. There are two faceplates to change the controller's color from white to purple, four interchangeable gates to guide the analog sticks, two directional pad choices, four interchangeable thumbsticks, and a pair of back paddles to choose between two or four extra buttons in the rear.

Razer Kaira Pro Wireless Headset

The Razer Kaira Pro Wireless headset connects directly to Xbox consoles using Microsoft's proprietary wireless signal, but also has the ability to connect to Bluetooth devices at the same time. This means you can listen and communicate with your phone, PC, or other devices while still hearing audio from the Xbox.

To help with multi-device communication, the Kaira Pro has two microphones, one that's detachable, and another built directly into the headset. The headset has a mute button and volume controls, and it comes in three colors: black, white, and green.

Multi-device connection is also included with the official Xbox wireless headset from Microsoft ($100), but the Razer Kaira Pro is more comfortable to wear in our experience, and it often goes on sale for the same price as Microsoft's headset.

Xbox Stereo Headset

Microsoft released this headset in 2021 as an affordable option for gamers who don't mind being tethered to their controller. The stereo headset connects to the base of a wireless or wired Xbox controller with a 3.5mm headphone jack, and is fully compatible with computers and other devices with a microphone port.

The microphone can be wrapped around the ear cuff when not in use and the headset features controls for adjusting the volume or muting voice chat. The headset is fully compatible with spatial sound technology like Dolby Atmos, DTS Headphone:X, and Windows Sonic.

Seagate 1TB Storage Expansion card for Xbox Series X/S

The latest Xbox consoles use an NVMe drive that vastly reduces loading times for games. The only downside, however, is that games optimized for Xbox Series X and S cannot be installed on a traditional hard drive. This can become an issue if you end up needing more space than your console's built-in drive provides.

That's where Seagate's storage expansion card comes in. This card can increase the console's NVMe storage capacity by 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB, giving you more space while still allowing for the same quick loading speed. Keep in mind that the expansion card isn't compatible with Xbox One consoles, and Xbox One games can still be installed on a much cheaper USB storage device.

Seagate Game Drive for Xbox One games

Xbox games can take up anywhere from 2GB to 100GB to install, but luckily portable USB drives are more affordable than ever. A 2TB drive can effectively triple the storage capacity of an Xbox Series X/S or Xbox One console. 

While you might find some cheaper options on sale from time to time, Seagate's officially licensed Xbox drives are sturdy, reliable, and fast. The solid state version of this drive offers faster loading times, but costs $70 more for half the space.

Unfortunately, these drives can only be used to install Xbox One games, because games optimized for Xbox Series X/S require even faster NVMe storage.

Xbox controller rechargeable battery pack

Xbox wireless controllers are some of the last gaming devices still using AA batteries, but that can be easily rectified with this official battery pack from Microsoft. While some third-party vendors offer their own rechargeable battery kits for Xbox controllers, Microsoft's option charges easily from the controller's built-in USB port, and fits both Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S controllers for simple use.

Xbox wireless controller adapter for PC

Among PC gamers, the Xbox controller is by far the most popular gamepad. While it can connect to computers via Bluetooth or USB cable, this adapter from Microsoft provides the same wireless connection that Xbox consoles use to communicate with controllers. 

The adapter's wireless connection is typically more stable than Bluetooth, and it has a sync button on the tip of the USB dongle to connect your controllers the same way you would with an Xbox console.

Hori Racing Wheel Overdrive

If you're a fan of driving games like Forza Horizon 5, F1 2022, or GRID Legends, using a racing wheel and pedal setup can completely change your experience. This Hori controller is an ideal starter device for those who want to try a racing wheel without investing hundreds of dollars in a premium driving setup.

The Racing Wheel Overdrive can be secured to your desk or a table using its built-in clamp, but it is wired to make sure it has a direct connection to the console. The wheel also has a directional pad and standard Xbox buttons for navigating the menu.

PowerA Controller Clip

For those unaware, an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership lets you stream Xbox games directly to your phone, but touch-screen controls are less than ideal for most titles. The PowerA controller clip is a simple device but it's perfect for when you're using Xbox cloud streaming to play games on the go. 

The clip latches directly onto the standard Xbox controller and you can adjust it to hold your phone steady at multiple angles. It even includes space to connect a USB cable if you prefer a wired connection over Bluetooth with your phone.

Backbone Mobile Controller

If you find yourself playing mobile games or Xbox Cloud Streaming often, Backbone is a premium controller that connects directly to your phone via the charging port and matches the traditional Xbox layout.

There's no Bluetooth connection to drain your battery life, and the Backbone comes with a headphone jack to provide sound without needing to connect wireless headphones or use the phone's speaker.

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