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Insider Retail: Logistics startups look to micro-warehouses and the vaccine rollout hits retail stores

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 6:15pm
CVS list: diapers, hand sanitizer, COVID-19 vaccine.

Big "ICYMI" energy in the newsletter today. Look, we get it. There was some other big news this week. But Insider's retail team always has you covered when it comes to the biggest retail business stories.

This week's edition covers retailers, like CVS, Kroger, and Walgreens, rolling out vaccines. And we take a look at a startup that's turning vacant retail stores into micro-warehouses for e-commerce orders. 

If you haven't already subscribed to Insider Retail, click here to get me, Gloria Dawson, senior editor of retail, and our associate editor, Danni Santana, in your inbox every week.

How Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, and other retailers plan to leverage tech, convenience, and public trust to get the chaotic mass vaccine rollout back on track Pharmacies are finding themselves with leftover coronavirus vaccines, meaning some people can score a shot early with the right planning.

It's no secret that the vaccine rollout has been less-than-smooth. Could retailers help get things back on track? Well, they certainly hope so. It's not the craziest idea. As Alvin Tran, a social epidemiologist at the University of New Haven told our reporters, these brands lend name recognition, trust, and their own technology to the process. 

Drug stores also aren't the only retailers who want a piece of the vaccine story:

Logistics startup Fabric has raised $136 million to build shipping warehouses in unused real estate like retail stores and gyms

Here's a trend for you all: Retail stores close as consumers flock to e-commerce during the pandemic. Logistics startups then use vacant retail space as micro-warehouses to fulfill e-commerce orders. Our Correspondent Madeline Stone wrote about Fabric, a big player in this particular retail life cycle story.

Fascinated by the micro-warehousing trend? You've come to the right newsletter.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Global air routes are cutoff as the Netherlands imposes one of the strictest travel requirements worldwide to combat new COVID-19 variants

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 6:11pm
A KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
  • The Netherlands just announced new travel restrictions in response to new COVID-19 variants. 
  • Travelers from non-European countries must take a rapid test within four hours of their flight.
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, in response, canceled all of its long-haul flights. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Netherlands government announced a new COVID-19-related lockdown on Wednesday that severely limits international travel, prompting flag carrier KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to suspend all of its long-haul flights, according to Reuters

New requirements mandated by the government require passengers to obtain a negative COVID-19 rapid test result no later than four hours prior to departure to the Netherlands. In addition, passengers must also have a negative result from a PCR test conducted within 72 hours from their flight's departure to be let into the country.

Read moreAirline CEOs say it doesn't matter how well they protect passengers from COVID-19 - travel demand won't bounce back until the pandemic ends

The restrictions are some of the most stringent mandated by any national government this late in the pandemic and the country expects travel to markedly decrease as a result. In January, KLM had plans to serve over 30 countries outside of Europe with around 270 weekly long-haul departures, according to Reuters and Cirium data.

Travelers still must quarantine even with the two negative tests for at least five days before they can test-out with a negative PCR test. If a negative test result isn't received after five days, the quarantine can end after 10 days. 

The Netherlands also announced a ban for passenger flights from the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. KLM currently serves eight of those countries. 

A ban on passenger flights from the UK, which was initially issued in December, has also been extended. The new restrictions on travel from those countries are expected to last for at least one month or until legislation is passed that outlines quarantine requirements for those travelers. 

"The government is gravely concerned about the UK variant of coronavirus, which is even more infectious than the virus we are familiar with in the Netherlands," the government said in a statement

The Caribbean Netherlands is also impacted by the new order, according to the statement, meaning travel may be impacted to Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, as well as the constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands including Aruba, Sint Maarten, and Curaçao. 

Bonaire recently opened its air borders to North America with plans for non-stop flights to the US in February.  

International travel is being advised against for residents of the Netherlands until at least March 31, 2021. "Every journey a person makes increases the chance of causing more infections or of bringing new variants of coronavirus into the Netherlands."

On the home front, citizens in the Netherlands are advised not to have more than one daily visitor over the age of 13 and make no more than one daily visit to another household. A curfew is also being planned to keep residents inside between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.

The Netherlands is also restricting which types of travelers will be granted exemptions to enter the country during the pandemic. As a result, groups including business travelers and students will be barred from entry.

The government also made a point of noting that "people in long-distance romantic relationships wishing to travel to the Netherlands for a short period will no longer be granted entry."

"We don't want to look back a few weeks from now and realise that we did not do enough," the statement said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

World leaders congratulate Biden after he's sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 6:07pm
Joe Biden is sworn in as US President as his wife Jill Biden looks on during his inauguration on the West Front of the US Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
  • World leaders were quick to congratulate Biden and Harris after they were sworn in on Wednesday. 
  • Biden has pledged to "repair our alliances and engage with the world once again."
  • Former President Donald Trump had a contentious relationship with traditional US allies. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Leaders from across the globe congratulated President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris after they were sworn into office at Wednesday's inauguration ceremony. 

During his inaugural address Biden directly addressed the global audience: "The world is watching, watching all of us today ... America has been tested, and we've come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again."

And, he added, "We'll lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example."

The world was indeed watching, as evidenced by the responses of many world leaders, some of whom expressed hope in the future of the US with Biden and Harris at the helm.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 20, 2021British Prime Minister Boris Johnson—Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 20, 2021Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi—Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 20, 2021Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) January 20, 2021German Chancellor Angela Merkel—Steffen Seibert (@RegSprecher) January 20, 2021French President Emmanuel Macron—Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) January 20, 2021President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen—Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) January 20, 2021

The Trump administration often took a unilateral approach to foreign affairs, inducing tensions with allies and adversaries alike. Former President Donald Trump's decisions to withdraw the US from landmark pacts such as the Paris climate accord and 2015 Iran nuclear deal, for example, put him at odds with traditional allies in Europe. And his move to pull the US from the World Health Organization amid the COVID-19 pandemic was met with outcry and bewilderment.

Trump's routine criticism of fellow NATO members and habitual praise for authoritarian leaders also created a sense of awkwardness between the US and the rest of the world. 

The former president's generally antagonistic disposition toward the international community led America's global approval rating to plummet during his tenure compared to where it was under his most recent predecessors, according to Pew Research Center.

After the Capitol riot on January 6, which was provoked by Trump and led the ex-president to be impeached by the House for a second time, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo abruptly cancelled a final trip to Europe because allies were reportedly too embarrassed to meet with him. World leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel openly blamed Trump for the violent insurrection at the Capitol. 

Meanwhile, polling from Pew released on Tuesday found that large majorities among crucial US allies such Germany (79%), France (72%), and the UK (65%) said they have confidence in Biden "to do the right thing in world affairs." Comparatively, Pew said ratings for Trump "were consistently negative in these three countries throughout his time in office."

Biden, whose long political career has largely been defined by a focus on foreign policy, has made repairing global alliances a key aspect of his agenda. He plans to return the US to the 2015 nuclear deal, and on his first day as president signed executive orders rejoining the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump's biggest accomplishments and failures from his 1-term presidency

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 6:03pm
President Trump speaks to members of the media following a Christmas Eve video teleconference with members of the military, at his Mar-a-Lago estate, in Palm Beach, Florida.
  • Former President Donald Trump was among the most controversial presidents in US history.
  • He's the only American president to be impeached twice.
  • Trump's legacy will be defined by his disastrous handling of COVID-19.
  • Visit for more stories.

Former President Donald Trump entered 2020 as just the third commander-in-chief in US history to be impeached, and left office in 2021 as the only president to be impeached twice. 

With just a week left in office, Trump was impeached for inciting a violent insurrection at the US Capitol. 

During his final year as president, hundreds of thousands of Americans died from a pandemic that Trump deliberately downplayed to the public. 

Trump is just the 11th incumbent president who won their party's nomination but failed to win reelection. He was defeated by President Joe Biden in an election he baselessly wrote off as fraudulent. 

To many, Trump has been the most controversial and divisive president in modern US history, but he still enjoyed a remarkably steady approval rating thanks to his staunchly loyal supporters. Even as polling repeatedly showed that most Americans disapprove of Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, his overall approval rating barely changed.

That changed, however, in his waning days in office. The January 6 Capitol siege saw Trump's approval hit a historic low, and the former president departed the White House in disgrace

Read more: Mass firings, frozen funding, and midnight rules: Inside the Democrats' operation to fight back against Trump going scorched-earth in a Biden transition

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

Accomplishment: Reshaping the federal judiciary

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

Trump installed three Supreme Court justices and 226 judges overall to the federal bench — all for lifetime appointments. Amy Coney Barrett became Trump's third Supreme Court justice on October 26, barely a week before Election Day.

By December 2019, Trump nominees made up roughly 25% of all US circuit court judges, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

In just four years, Trump appointed 54 judges on the 13 US circuit courts. To put this in perspective, former President Barack Obama appointed 55 circuit judges in his two terms in the White House.

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

Even though Trump was not reelected in 2020, his presidency will continue to have an influence on the direction of the US because of the sheer number of conservative federal judges he's installed.

Accomplishment: Space Force

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accomplishment: Tax reform

Trump's signature legislative achievement was a Republican tax bill that made sweeping changes to the tax code — the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

As Business Insider's Joseph Zeballos-Roig reported:

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


Accomplishment: First Step Act

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

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

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

  • The passage of the bill ... marked the first major legislative win in decades to address mass incarceration at the federal level.
  • The bill overhauls certain federal sentencing laws, reducing mandatory minimum sentences for drug felonies and expanding early-release programs.
  • The bill also makes retroactive a 2010 federal sentencing law reducing the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses.
  • The bill also aims to lower recidivism by offering more rehabilitation and job-training opportunities, and it includes provisions intended to treat prisoners humanely — banning the shackling of pregnant inmates, halting the use of solitary confinement for most juvenile inmates, and mandating that prisoners be placed in facilities within 500 miles from their families.
Accomplishment: Defeating ISIS's caliphate and killing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Failure: Charlottesville and George Floyd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Polling has shown that the vast majority of Black Americans view Trump as racist, and his approval rating with this demographic stood at 14% in late 2020, according to Gallup.

Failure: America's global image is in shambles

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

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

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

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

Failure: Family separations and the deaths of migrant children

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least six migrant children died in US custody, leading to widespread condemnation of conditions in detention facilities.

The UN human-rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, in July 2019 said she was "shocked" by the US government's treatment of migrant children and the conditions they faced in detention facilities after crossing the border from Mexico.

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

Failure: Iran, Syria, and Afghanistan

Trump's decision to unilaterally withdraw the US from the 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018 has induced chaos throughout the Middle East.

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

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

After a series of incidents in the Persian Gulf region in 2019, tensions between Washington and Tehran reached historic heights and sparked fears of war. These fears were exacerbated after Trump ordered a strike that killed Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani, in early January 2020. The strike led Iran to retaliate and fire on US troops in the region, and dozens were seriously injured.

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

Trump's decision to pull US troops out of northern Syria in October 2019 was also among his most disastrous foreign policy moves. In doing so, Trump effectively abandoned US-allied Kurdish forces who bore the brunt of the US-led campaign against ISIS to a Turkish military invasion.

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

Trump repeatedly pledged to end "endless wars," zeroing in on Afghanistan. He wanted to remove all US troops from Afghanistan by the November election, but that didn't happen. 

Meanwhile, The New York Times in June 2020 reported that US intelligence officials determined Russia paid bounties to Taliban-linked Afghan militants to kill US troops.

The Trump administration didn't take any known responses. Though the White House claimed Trump was not initially briefed on the matter, reporting from multiple outlets suggests otherwise. Trump in a July 2020 interview said he had not confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin on the matter.

Failure: Replacing the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare)

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

But Trump did have success in dismantling parts of the law. His tax bill included a rollback of the tax penalty for those who did not enroll in healthcare.

Trump never offered a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. As a candidate Trump promised "insurance for everybody" and a more immediate replacement to the nearly decade-old ACA. But he didn't deliver on that as president.

Failure: Impeachment

Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives on December 18, 2019.

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

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

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

On January 6, 2021, Trump provoked an attempted coup at the US Capitol in relation to his baseless claims of mass voter fraud and refusal to concede to Biden. Five people were killed. 

Trump was impeached by the House for inciting a violent insurrection over the Capitol riot. He's the only president in US history to be impeached twice. 

Failure: COVID-19 pandemic

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

On the day Trump left office, there had been more than 24.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US and over 405,000 reported fatalities. The US has the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world. As of January 20, the US COVID-19 death toll was on the verge of surpassing the total number of American service members killed during World War II.

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

In March 2020, Trump privately admitted to veteran reporter Bob Woodward (on tape) that he was deliberately misleading the public on the dangers of the virus in an effort to avoid inducing panic.

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

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

Failure: The US economy

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

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

Coronavirus lockdowns in early 2020 and reduced consumer spending led to tens of millions of job losses as whole segments of the economy sputtered. The economy has since begun adding back jobs, but is far from a full recovery as the US struggles to contain the coronavirus and Biden takes over. 

Roughly 22 million jobs were lost from February to April. Though nearly half of those jobs have been recovered, the unemployment rate is still at 7.9% (estimated to be about 12 million people). The pre-pandemic unemployment rate was 3.4%.

As Trump left office, the US national debt was at the highest levels since World War II. And US economic growth was set to average just above 0% for Trump's first term because of the pandemic recession, according to The Washington Post.

Though the economy is still far from recovered, Trump also failed to bring Congress together to pass a second coronavirus stimulus package prior to Election Day as Americans across the country struggled to cover rent and other bills. The GOP-controlled Senate instead prioritized confirming Trump's Supreme Court nominee, essentially placing the economy and the livelihoods of Americans on the back-burner. 

As of Election Day 2020, Trump had not signed a coronavirus relief bill in roughly half a year. He finally signed a $900 billion relief package shortly after Christmas in late 2020. 

Failure: Contracting COVID-19

As the president of the US, Trump is the most heavily protected person on the planet. The fact he contracted COVID-19 in October 2020 stood as a catastrophic failure and a national-security crisis for the US.

The president routinely flouted public health recommendations before getting infected. Less than a week before he was diagnosed, Trump mocked then-presidential candidate Joe Biden for routinely wearing a mask in public.

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

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

Well over a dozen people in Trump's orbit tested positive for COVID-19 after the event.

Failure: Damaging democracy President Donald Trump.

Trump eroded democratic norms in many ways during his tenure. 

He repeatedly attacked the media, leading UN experts to warn that Trump's rhetoric raised the risk of violence against journalists. He threatened to deploy combat troops to American cities, over the objections of their elected leaders, and ordered illegal actions like demanding poll workers stop counting ballots.

Trump's relentless dissemination of disinformation on an array of topics, particularly the electoral process, led historians and experts on fascism to compare him to dictators like Benito Mussolini.

Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem), a project that monitors the health of democracy across the world, in its 2020 report said the US has become more autocratic in the Trump era. 

"The United States – former vanguard of liberal democracy – has lost its way," V-Dem's 2020 report said, adding that the US "is the only country in Western Europe and North America suffering from substantial autocratization." 

The former president's rhetoric was often viewed as a source of encouragement by far-right extremist groups, and Trump frequently equivocated when asked to condemn such people. 

Though President Joe Biden was the clear winner of the 2020 election, Trump refused to concede. Trump rejected the results and made baseless allegations of fraud.

Even as world leaders began to congratulate Biden, a major sign of Biden's legitimacy, Trump continued to deny reality. 

After weeks of rejecting the election result and attempting to overturn the outcome, the president provoked an attempted coup at the US Capitol on the day lawmakers met to certify Biden's Electoral College victory. He riled up his supporters in an inflammatory speech, urging them to march on the Capitol and "fight like hell." They listened. 

The pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6 destroyed property and clashed with police. Five people were killed in the process. Trump was subsequently impeached for inciting the violent insurrection. 

After the violence, Trump released a video acknowledging that a new administration would take over, but he did not explicitly concede.

Trump's refusal to concede breaks from a democratic tradition in the US that dates back to its earliest days when President John Adams lost the 1800 election and peacefully stepped aside for Thomas Jefferson, a member of another political party, to take over.

The former president undermined the political system in the US and sowed doubt about the integrity of the country's elections. Every president prior to Trump allowed for a peaceful transition of power after they'd served two terms or lost an election.  

Trump also skipped Biden's inauguration. He's the first outgoing president since 1869 to refuse to attend the inauguration of his successor. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

George W. Bush privately says that Rep. Jim Clyburn is the country's 'savior' for helping Biden beat Trump

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:59pm
Former President George W. Bush and Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.
  • George W. Bush said Rep. James Clyburn was a "savior" for his role in resurrecting Joe Biden's campaign.
  • Clyburn relayed the rare comments from Bush to reporters on a conference call.
  • Biden's 2020 primary campaign was on life support when Clyburn endorsed him.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Former President George W. Bush told House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, that he was a "savior" for endorsing President Joe Biden at a critical moment during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary and helping ensure his victory, Clyburn told reporters. 

Bush told Clyburn during the inauguration ceremony on Wednesday that Biden was the only Democrat capable of beating former President Donald Trump. 

"George Bush said to me today, 'You know, you're the savior because if you had not nominated Joe Biden, we would not be having this transfer of power today,'" Clyburn told reporters during a call on Wednesday.

The congressman added, "He said to me, 'Joe Biden was the only one who could have defeated the incumbent president.'"

By late February in 2020, Clyburn's endorsement effectively revived Biden's Democratic primary campaign.

Heading into the South Carolina primary, Biden was coming off of back-to-back humiliations in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he was unable to finish in the top three - normally a death knell for most presidential campaigns, given the slim odds of even competing for the nomination beyond that point.

However, with Clyburn earning substantial credibility with older Black voters in the Palmetto State over the decades, his endorsement ultimately proved to be the catalyst for Biden's rebound. The president ended up winning South Carolina in a landslide, and quickly consolidated support after following that up with a stellar Super Tuesday performance, proving he had the most Black support in the primary and thus outflanking Bernie Sanders among the rest of the electorate.

Read more: The ultimate guide to Joe Biden's White House staff

The remarks from Bush were uncharacteristic given his generally low profile since leaving the White House and avoiding partisanship.

Bush's chief of staff, Freddy Ford, attempted to downplay the former president's comments, tweeting, "Let's not make this into more than it is. He was saying Clyburn helped saved Biden's nomination....nothing Biblical here." 

Trump has long been critical of Bush and repeatedly condemned some of his actions as president, including his wars in the Middle East. Bush didn't campaign for Trump and did not support his fellow Republican's reelection bid. Bush reportedly reacted to Trump's inaugural address by saying, "that was some weird s--t." 

But the 43rd president has maintained a notably low profile since leaving office in 2009, occasionally releasing public statements at significant moments of national distress, including most recently condemning the insurrection by a pro-Trump mob at the Capitol. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

A list of all the powerful people moving to Florida

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:42pm
Donald and Melania Trump flew from Washington to Palm Beach on Wednesday as his presidential term ended.

Different cities are vying for a coveted pandemic title: the next Silicon Valley.

By all accounts, there are two definitive frontrunners. Texas and Florida have both pulled ahead, as tech tycoons and venture capitalists alike announce their intentions to pack their bags and head to warmer pastures.

In Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez has been actively trying to lure Silicon Valley mainstays to Miami, chiming in on Twitter threads and indicating that he'd be happy to talk to some of the bigger names contemplating a change. It seems to be working: Heavyweights like Peter Thiel are coming to town.

The exodus from Silicon Valley - or lack thereof - is well-documented. It's just one of the myriad changes the coronavirus pandemic has prompted. And some of those making a move have retained their northeastern or San Francisco homes, meaning it may end up being a seasonal or temporary move.

But Florida has earned a special distinction. It is hosting some of Wall Street's hottest relocations - and perhaps America's most controversial family. Former president Donald Trump is now settled at Mar-a- Lago, skipping President Joe Biden's inauguration and heading straight down the coast. Several members of his family may be joining him.

Here are some of the most powerful figures who have recently decamped to the Sunshine State.

Donald Trump Donald Trump.

Donald Trump retreated to Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, on January 20 following the end of his presidential term. While the property served as a "winter White House" for Trump over the last four years, it will now be his full-time residence, even though neighbors don't seem to be thrilled at the prospect.

Read more: I spent the day around Mar-a-Lago. See the exclusive enclave where Trump is retreating, complete with billionaire neighbors, ornate mansions, and Floridian Ferraris.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner signed a lease for a Miami Beach condo in a ritzy new building, the Wall Street Journal reported on January 19. The condo is just a five-minute drive from an empty lot the couple paid $32 million for in December. That property, where they're expected to build a house for their post-DC life, is located in Indian Creek, a high-security private island in Miami known as the "Billionaire Bunker."

Read more: Inside Miami's exclusive, high-security 'Billionaire Bunker,' where Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner just dropped $30 million on an empty lot

Peter Thiel Peter Thiel.

Business Insider's Becky Peterson reported on January 19 that tech billionaire Peter Thiel dropped $18 million on a Miami mansion. He bought the property from former Ford CEO Jacques Nasser in September. The home was once the site of a season of MTV's "The Real World: Miami."

Read more: Another tech titan heads to Miami. Peter Thiel buys $18 million island estate.

Dan Loeb Dan Loeb.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Dan Loeb scooped up a brand new waterfront mansion in Miami Beach for $20 million, the Real Deal reported on January 18. The home has a rooftop deck, separate entrance for guest quarters, along with a pool and dock.

Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle Kimberly Guilfoyle and Donald Trump Jr.

The New York Post's Jennifer Gould reported that Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, are house hunting in Jupiter, just 20 miles north of Mar-a-Lago. Trump's ex-wife and five children live in the area, and soon, other Trumps will, too. Even newly engaged Tiffany Trump is thought to be apartment shopping in Miami.

Read more: Even more Trump family members are reportedly moving to Florida

Tom Brady and Gisele Bünchden Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen.

Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen are joining Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner as property owners on Miami's "Billionaire Bunker," Indian Creek. The NFL star and supermodel dropped roughly $17 million in December 2020 for a mansion they plan to demolish and rebuild.

David Blumberg A view of Hallandale Beach, Florida, where venture capitalist David Blumberg moved.

Venture capitalist David Blumberg told NPR that he left Silicon Valley in December for Hallandale Beach, an enclave between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. He cited Florida's "lighter regulatory touch" as a driver in his decision to move. "They're pro-business," he said, "and they're active about it."

Read more: Silicon Valley elites are fleeing the region for states like Texas and Florida, but that shouldn't be surprising — it's the culmination of a culture clash that has been brewing in the tech industry for years

Keith Rabois Keith Rabois.

Keith Rabois, a venture capitalist who made early investments in companies like DoorDash and Airbnb and previously served as an exec at PayPal, LinkedIn, and Square, also abandoned Silicon Valley for the Sunshine State in December. He moved to Miami, where he bought a newly-built $29 million mansion complete with a $1 million Japanese aquarium that is just a 20-minute walk from Peter Thiel's new digs.

Read more: Unicorn investor Keith Rabois says tech talent is fleeing Silicon Valley and successful startups will now be built elsewhere

Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Hilfiger.

Tommy Hilfiger officially sold his Greenwich, Connecticut, estate for $45 million in January; Insider's Katie Warren reported that he first listed the property in September. 

In September, Hilfiger told the Wall Street Journal's Katherine Clarke that he and his wife were decamping to their Palm Beach spread — a move they had planned on making anyway but was hastened by the pandemic.

Carl Icahn Carl Icahn.

Even though billionaire Carl Icahn has numerous New York buildings named after him, the activist investor has opted for warmer climes. In 2019, he decided to move his investment firm to Miami (and reportedly told employees who didn't want to make the move that they wouldn't receive severance).

Icahn and the firm actually relocated in the first six months of 2020, according to the Miami Herald. Icahn, who also has property in Indian Creek, had already been a seasonal Florida resident prior to the move. 

Read more: I toured the only home for sale on Miami's 'Billionaire Bunker,' a private island home to hedge-fund billionaires and celebs. Look inside the $22 million mansion that recently got a $2 million price cut.

Charles Schwab Charles Schwab.

Insider reported in December that Charles Schwab — the man behind the famed brokerage — relocated this year. Voting records show that he is in Palm Beach.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden enters White House for first time since being sworn in as 46th US president

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:38pm
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on the steps of the US Capitol after he was sworn in as the 46th US president.
  • President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in just before noon Wednesday.
  • Security was tight after the January 6 riot by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump.
  • Follow Insider's coverage of key moments and highlights of the historic day.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Former President Donald Trump officially departed Washington, DC, on Wednesday morning and his successor, President Joe Biden, was sworn in shortly before noon.

Biden's inauguration marks a historic end to Trump's rocky presidency and a tumultuous transition period in which the outgoing president refused to acknowledge his election loss and incited a violent insurrection at the US Capitol that resulted in five deaths.

Watch the inauguration ceremony below:

Scroll down for live coverage of the event:

Biden enters White House as president President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden pose for photographs on the North Portico of the White House.

Biden officially entered the White House as president on Wednesday afternoon. He was joined shortly afterward by Harris. 

US presidents have traditionally invited their successors to the White House to meet before Inauguration Day. This is in addition to making sure that president-elects receive daily briefings and national security intelligence.

Trump, however, refused to acknowledge his election loss and not only delayed these critical briefings, but also didn't welcome Biden to the White House beforehand. The pair didn't meet or speak before Trump left for Florida ahead of the inauguration ceremony.


Harris, Emhoff, and their extended family walk down Pennsylvania Avenue Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff (C) along with family members walk along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House in Washington, DC.

Shortly after, Harris walked into the White House for the first time in her new role as vice president.

Bidens walk to the White House President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden along with their family walk up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

Biden, with his family, walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Biden's inaugural committee hosted a virtual inaugural parade in lieu of the usual in-person festivities.

Biden, Harris, former presidents and former first ladies attend ceremony at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attend a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Congressional leaders present gifts to Biden and Harris House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul Pelosi arrive in the Crypt of the US Capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gifted Biden and Harris flags shortly after the inauguration.

Biden also signed three documents as part of inaugural tradition: an Inauguration Day proclamation, nominations for Cabinet positions, and nominations for sub-Cabinet positions.

—ABC News (@ABC) January 20, 2021


Biden posts his first tweet as president Former Vice President Mike Pence, right, applauds as Joe Biden embraces first lady Jill Biden after being sworn in as the 46th president.

The official presidential Twitter accounts are now in the hands of the Biden administration.

"There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face," Biden tweeted Wednesday from his new Twitter account, @POTUS. "That's why today, I am heading to the Oval Office to get right to work delivering bold action and immediate relief for American families."

Biden supporters celebrate in Washington, DC Supporters of President Joe Biden celebrate as they listen to him speak during the presidential inauguration. Protesters gather at the Capitol during Biden's inauguration

A small group of people holding anti-abortion and "Jesus saves" signs gathered north of the Capitol building. A man with the group yelled offensive and false attacks about Biden and Harris.

Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman reads a moving piece at the ceremony Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks at the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

"For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us," said Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet laureate whose historic speech has gone viral.

—Amanda Gorman (@TheAmandaGorman) January 20, 2021


Garth Brooks sings "Amazing Grace" Garth Brooks performs "Amazing Grace" at the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Biden: 'We must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured' President Joe Biden speaks during the 59th Presidential Inauguration.

"Let's start afresh, all of us. Let's begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another," Biden said in his inaugural speech after being sworn into office. "Politics doesn't have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn't have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured."

"Disagreement must not lead to disunion," he added. "I will be a president for all Americans. And I promise you, I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did."

Biden went on to call for a end to "this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal," adding, "We can do this if we can open our soul instead of hardening our hearts."

The president also said he would work to "repair" the US's global alliances.

"We will lead not only by the example of our power but by the power of our example," he said.

The Biden family embraces after the president's swearing-in President Joe Biden with his family First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, son Hunter Biden and daughter Ashley. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office to Biden, who was sworn in on his family's Bible President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.

It was a large Bible.

Singer Jennifer Lopez performs "This Land Is Your Land" and "America, The Beautiful" Jennifer Lopez performs at President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn in to office by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on a Bible that belonged to legendary Justice Thurgood Marshall Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Harris "stands on the shoulders of so many on this platform who have forged the way to this day," Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said while paying tribute to the historic nature of the former California senator's position. "When she takes the oath of office, little girls and boys across the world will know that anything and everything is possible."

Lady Gaga, a longtime Biden ally, sang the national anthem Lady Gaga sings the National Anthem at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Biden and Lady Gaga worked together when he was vice president to campaign against sexual assault on college campuses.

Biden also introduced the singer at the 2016 Academy Awards.

—Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) January 20, 2021


Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence attended Biden's inauguration Vice President Mike Pence and Karen Pence arrive to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The Pences were among several prominent Republicans who went to Biden's inauguration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also attended.

McConnell and McCarthy skipped Trump's departure ceremony and instead attended mass with Biden before the inauguration, while Pence missed Trump's departure due to logistical issues.

Trump lands in Florida Donald Trump gestures as he arrives at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.

In his final hour as president, Trump issued a pardon to Albert Pirro Jr., the ex-husband of Fox News host Jeanine Pirro.

Former presidents and first ladies attended the inauguration. Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama arrive to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush were all seen at Biden's inauguration ceremony.

Supreme Court justices arrive Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett arrives at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump-appointees Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett were among the inauguration's attendees.

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump's most loyal attack dogs on Congress, attended the inauguration Rep. Jim Jordan.

"This is as close to pageantry as we get in America," Jordan told The Washington Post's Erik Wemple. "This day – this and the State of the Union address – I just think it's important that, that you attend those events."

Lawmaker says she and several other House Democrats wore body armor under their jackets at Biden's inauguration Flags decorate the National Mall ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. —Sarah Ferris (@sarahnferris) January 20, 2021


Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of Trump's most stalwart defenders, was seen arriving at the Capitol for Biden's inauguration Sen. Ted Cruz arrives to the inauguration.

Cruz and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley led the congressional crusade for Trump's effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Biden's motorcade was seen arriving on Capitol Hill shortly before 10:30 a.m. ET Preparations are made before inauguration. —Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) January 20, 2021


Former House Speaker Paul Ryan was spotted arriving at Biden's inauguration ceremony Former House Speaker Paul Ryan arrives for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the US Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021.

Ryan had a rough tenure as House Speaker in the early days of the Trump presidency before he left public service.

—Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 20, 2021


Several thousand armed military personnel and law enforcement officials stood guard along an inner perimeter - an 8-foot tall fence topped with razor wire - surrounding the Capitol Soldiers stand guard as supporters of Joe Biden gather outside the Capitol building during the inauguration.

Biden's inauguration comes as the nation's capital is heavily fortified amid continued threats from Trump supporters to disrupt the transfer of power. Around 25,000 troops have been deployed to Washington, DC, ahead of the inauguration, which is more than the number of US service members in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

The FBI warned law enforcement authorities that some violent extremists, including followers of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, may try to pose as guardsmen to get through security at the inauguration, USA Today reported, citing two people familiar with the briefing.

On Tuesday, a dozen National Guard members were removed from protecting the inauguration after authorities discovered questionable behavior. Two out of the 12 had possible ties to extremist groups, The New York Times reported.

After Trump departed on Air Force One, Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and second gentleman Doug Emhoff attended a Catholic mass service at St. Matthew the Apostle Cathedral President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attend services at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle with Congressional leaders prior to the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony.

A number of congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, joined the Bidens, Harris, and Emhoff for the service. 

The former president and first lady waved a final goodbye from Air Force One before heading to Florida President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base.

The Trump family took off for Florida as Frank Sinatra's "My Way" played over the loudspeakers to the crowd assembled at Joint Base Andrews.

—Emily (Larsen) Brooks (@emilyelarsen) January 20, 2021


"We were not a regular administration," Trump said during a short speech touting his accomplishments President Donald Trump speaks before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base.

"Have a good life, we will see you soon," Trump said as The Village People's "YMCA," one of his favorite songs at his campaign rallies, played over the loudspeakers. 

In his speech, Trump thanked Vice President Mike Pence (who was not present at his farewell event), and wished the incoming administration luck without mentioning President-elect Joe Biden by name. 

After saying goodbye to attendees, the Trump family boarded Air Force One and headed to Florida. 

A crowd, including members of Trump's family and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, was waiting for him at Joint Base Andrews Ivanka Trump, husband Jared Kushner, their children, Eric Trump, and Donald Jr. and Trump family members stand on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. Marine One did one final lap around Washington, DC. Marine One with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump passes the Washington Monument as it departs the White House.

The Trump family flew from the White House to Joint Base Andrews aboard Marine One.

Shortly before 8:15 a.m. ET, Trump and former first lady Melania walked across the South Lawn to Marine One with only a small crowd of reporters present to see them off Outgoing President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump speak to reporters before leaving the White House. —Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) January 20, 2021


Shortly before 8 a.m. ET, Marine One landed on the South Lawn to take Trump to Joint Base Andrews. White House staff members carry boxes to Marine One before President Donald Trump leaves the White House.

Trump's departure from the White House was slightly delayed as was his farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews.


Wednesday's proceedings will begin with remarks from Father Leo J. O'Donovan, the former president of Georgetown University and a longtime friend of the Biden family. The ceremony will feature performances from prominent celebrities, including Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, and will wrap up with a benediction from Rev. Dr. Silvester Beaman.

In a stark contrast with previous presidential inaugurations, Trump and former first lady Melania Trump skipped Wednesday's inauguration.

Ahead of Wednesday's ceremonies, Biden made an emotional speech bidding farewell to his home state of Delaware and paying tribute to his late son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015.

"Excuse the emotion, but when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart," Biden said, in reference to the Irish poet James Joyce's famous quote in which he said Dublin was written on his heart.

Biden then mentioned Beau, saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, I only have one regret, that he isn't here, because we should be introducing him as president."

Trump, meanwhile, taped a 20-minute farewell speech that was posted to the White House's YouTube channel because the president has been banned on every major social media platform.

Though he acknowledged that Biden will take office on Wednesday, he did not mention his successor by name and did not concede that he lost the November general election.

"This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous. We extend our best wishes, and we also want them to have luck — a very important word," Trump said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best online deals happening now, including mattress sales from Leesa and Casper

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:32pm

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

We rounded up the best sales and deals happening online today, including savings at Leesa, Casper, and Verishop.

Deals in this story are subject to change throughout the day. The prices listed reflect the deal at the time of publication. For even more deals and savings across the web, check out Business Insider Coupons.

The best deals available right nowV7 Animal (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)Product CardProduct CardProduct CardProduct CardProduct CardProduct CardProduct CardProduct CardJoule Sous Vide (medium, Preferred: Amazon)The best on-going sales and exclusive discounts happening right now Get up to $375 off mattresses from Leesa Shop the Leesa Annual Winter Sale now.

Leesa is offering shoppers up to $375 off mattresses and up to $877 off bundles during its Annual Winter Sale going on now. We've tested and loved most of Leesa's lineup of mattresses. The Hybrid is evenour top pick for best hybrid mattress, with its cooling top and responsive springs. Sales from the start-up aren't exactly rare, but right now is still a good chance to save a big chunk of change on a sleep game-changer.

Get an extra 20% off sale styles from Timex Shop the Timex Sale now.

Right now you can get up to 50% off sale styles from Timex with promo code EXTRA20. Sales from the brand are pretty uncommon and with some styles cut down to half price, it's worth looking into if you need a new watch. Affordable and durable, we've chosen Timex designs as picks in our guides to the best men's field watches and the best men's watches under $100.

Get 15% off home goods orders of $100 or more from Verishop Shop the Verishop home refresh sale now.

Right now, you can get 15% off a purchase of $100 or more on home items from Verishop, a convenient alternative to Amazon (with better curation). Use promo code MODHOME at checkout to see the discount. The minimum purchase requirement may seem like a high threshold, but most things from the retailer are pricey, so it's an easy total to hit. 

Save on Deluxe-size bouquets from The Bouqs Company Shop the Early Valentine's Day Sale from The Bouqs Company now.

Our pick for the best overall online flower delivery service, The Bouqs Company offers a ton of different bouqs sourced from eco-friendly farmers. Right now, you can get a deluxe-sized bouq for the price of an original-sized one with promo code 2XBLOOMS. Sales from the service are rare and this one ends January 21, so don't miss out on a chance to order your flowers for Valentine's Day early.

Get up to 40% off Valentine's flowers from 1-800-Flowers Shop the 1-800-Flowers Valentine's Day sale now.

Just over a month is left before the big day, but it's never too early to plan ahead for Valentine's Day, especially with deals this good. Right now, flowers and gifts including bouquets, plushes, gift baskets, and more are up to 40% off, no code necessary. The retailer is one of our favorite online flower delivery services, especially for last-minute shoppers.

Get up to 50% off at Lo & Sons Shop the Lo & Sons Winter Sale now.

Thoughtfully designed and durably constructed, bags from Lo & Sons are popular for a reason. Right now, select bags are up to 50% off, including the Catalina and the O.G. that we cover in our review. Even if travel isn't in your plans for 2021, this sale is so good it may be worth investing in a bag that you'll love using. 

Get up to 60% off at Naadam Shop the world's fairest end of season sale at Naadam now.

If you won't settle for anything less than cashmere, Naadam is the brand for you. It's a brand we love not only for its cozy cashmere sweaters but also for its sustainability and ethical practices. Right now, Naadam is offering up to 60% off sweaters for men and women. If you want to learn more about the startup before you shop, check out our Naadam review or our guide to the best places to shop for women's cashmere

Save on digital download Switch games from Nintendo Splatoon 2 is one of the many games discounted from Amazon right now. Shop the Nintendo New Year Sale now.

Now through January 21, the Nintendo eShop is offering shoppers savings on popular games from both major and indie developers. If you own a Switch, this sale is a great chance to stock your library up with great games, from nostalgia plays like "Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and the Lion King" to beautiful indie-developer games like "GRIS." For more inspiration, you can always check out our guide to the best Nintendo Switch games, a handful of which are included in the sale.

Get 10% off sitewide from Nest Bedding Shop the Nest Bedding New Year Sale now.

For the whole month of January, Nest Bedding is offering shoppers 10% off sitewide. Furniture, bedding, and much more is on sale from the brand, making now a great chance to upgrade your sleeping situation. We've reviewed a ton of Nest Bedding products, with some even making it as picks in our guides to the best latex pillows and foam mattresses

Get 20% off sitewide at Silpada Shop the Silpada sitewide sale now. 

Now through January 18, Silpada is offering an extremely rare, sitewide sale. Everything is 20% off with free standard shipping, as always. The brand makes high-quality silver jewelry, perfect for gifting, or just treating yourself. This is the first sale we've written about from Silpada, so if something sparkly catches your eye, don't miss out on this rare chance to buy at a discount. 

Get up to 60% off from Casper Shop the Last Call Sale at Casper now.

If you've ever shopped online for bedding and mattresses, Casper needs no introduction. Right now, the mattress start-up is offering up to 60% off select bedding and mattresses, including 60% off the Airy Linen Quilt and 30% off the Casper Hybrid. To figure out which one is best for you, check out our reviews of the 5 most popular Casper mattresses.

Get men's outerwear from JACHS NY for $29 Shop the Outerwear Blowout Sale now.

Winter has only just begun and JACHS NY is offering a big sale to keep you warm. Right now, you can get select men's outerwear — including sherpa jackets and puffer vests — for only $29 apiece with promo code OT29. It's not the first sale we've seen from JACHS NY, but it's one of the deepest discounts for sure, with some items up to 85% off. If you're not in the market for a new jacket, the rest of the site is also 70% off with promo code NEWYEAR

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden reverses Trump's major environmental rollbacks with executive orders rejoining the Paris accord, cancelling the Keystone pipeline, and ending drilling in the Arctic wildlife refuge

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:30pm
  • President Joe Biden signed major executive orders reversing three significant environmental and climate change policies pursued by former President Donald Trump. 
  • Biden rejoined the international Paris climate agreement, which former President Barack Obama initially signed in 2015 and former President Donald Trump took the US out of in November 2020.
  • He also revoked a critical presidential permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline and temporarily halted oil and gas leasing in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Just a few hours after being sworn in as the 46th US president on Wednesday, Joe Biden signed executive orders reversing three significant environmental and climate change policies pursued by former President Donald Trump. 

Biden rejoined the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which former President Donald Trump exited from in November 2020. Trump's rejection of the international accord came after four years of aggressive actions to roll back and eliminate environmental protections. Biden made action on climate one of his central campaign promises and worked with progressive Democrats in Congress to develop a $2 trillion plan that calls for 100 percent clean energy by 2035. 

Also on Wednesday, Biden revoked a critical presidential permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline almost exactly four years after Trump approved the project. Obama halted construction of the pipeline, which would have carried crude oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of the US, in 2015. Many Democrats, environmental advocates, and Native American communities strongly objected to the $8 billion pipeline, about 300 miles of which has already been built.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has long supported the project and announced his government is "making sure that Canada's views are heard and considered by the incoming administration." 

Biden also temporarily halted oil and gas leasing in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which would have become one of Trump's most destructive environmental legacies. The 45th president auctioned off drilling leases on the previously protected land in one of his last acts in office. But the sales brought in just a small fraction of the revenue Trump had promised and no major oil companies submitted bids for the land after the largest banks in the US and Canada pledged not to finance the operations. 

The refuge is a critical environment for 270 animal species, including endangered polar bears and Native American communities strongly opposed drilling in the region. The Senate, now controlled by Democrats, will likely also act to reverse Trump's legal mandate requiring that another auction for drilling leases be held by the end of 2024. 

Republicans are critical of Biden's plans on the climate front. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, argued that rejoining the Paris Agreement and cancelling the Keystone pipeline "will eliminate good-paying jobs." Trump refused to acknowledge climate change and has called it a "hoax" created by the Chinese. 

US allies have celebrated Biden's long-held promise to rejoin the international agreement. French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized Biden's commitment to fighting climate change in a congratulatory tweet on Wednesday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also mentioned climate change as a "vital" issue he hopes to work with the US on in his congratulatory tweet Wednesday.

"We will be stronger to face the challenges of our time," Macron wrote. "Stronger to build our future. Stronger to protect our planet. Welcome back to the Paris Agreement!" 

The best patio heaters for outdoor dining in 2021

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:25pm

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
  • Outdoor patio heaters have been in short supply as folks attempt to set up their outdoor spaces for the and winter. 
  • We've tested brands as they've come available, and talked to three experts about what to consider when buying a patio heater.
  • We recommend choosing a pyramid or dome-top propane heater that gives off at least 40,000 Btu of heat.

While a patio heater won't magically melt away all the snow in your yard, it can help extend the outdoor season. The right outdoor patio heater can keep you and your guests cozy, even if there's a significant chill in the air. 

If you're looking for a patio heater to keep your space warm for outdoor social calls, you'll need to consider heat output, ease of use, and, most importantly, safety. 

Currently, many stores are sold out of outdoor heaters or have extremely low stock due to more people socially distancing outdoors as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues. We were able to get our hands on three models to test and review, and also consulted safety experts to put together this guide on what to look for if you're considering purchasing an outdoor patio heater. 

Updated on 1/20/20: Over the past several months we've been able to test three different patio heaters. Below you'll find more information on two heaters we recommend and one we don't. We'll continue to test patio heaters and update this guide as more products become available. What we recommend: AmazonBasics Patio Heater The AmazonBasics Patio Heater is a sturdy, easy-to-use outdoor heating device that puts out an impressive 46,000 Btu of heat — enough to extend the outdoor dining season well into the colder months. 

Pros: Durable construction, easy to operate, wheeled design, puts out a lot of heat

Cons: Shorter people might have to stretch to reach the control knob

I panic-purchased the AmazonBasics Patio Heater when the weather started to turn colder and the pandemic didn't appear to be ending anytime soon. I wanted a way to continue to socialize with friends and family in a safe, outdoor environment. The primary reason I chose the AmazonBasics heater is because it was one of the few options that was available at the time, but it also hits all the marks for what our experts recommend looking for in a patio heater: a familiar brand, 46,000 Btu heat output, and prominent safety features.

I've been using the AmazonBasics Patio Heater for almost four months now, and it's made it comfortable enough to sit outside even during the chilly Canadian fall. It provides a consistent amount of heat that spreads over a large enough area to keep a small group of two to four people comfortable when the weather is chilly. While it was most comfortable to use in the fall when the chill was milder, I'm still using my heater now at a time when there's a blanket of snow on the ground. On mild winter days, we can sit outside and have coffee while the dogs romp around — though we always still need a sweater or jacket. 

The mushroom-top unit has a single control knob with an ignition setting, along with low and high heat options. The heat controls are placed at the top of the unit, which requires short people like me to stand on tippy toes to reach, but keeps the controls out of the hands of kids. It operates on a 20 pound propane tank — the same kind you use to operate your BBQ — and the stainless steel design is weather-resistant, so there's not really any need to store it away for the winter. I've also been impressed with its safety features, like a built-in switch that turns the unit off when tipped over.

A patio heater — even a powerful one like the AmazonBasics unit — won't turn your deck into a summertime oasis when the weather is freezing. Still, it can offer a hint of warmth, making it easier to spend more time outside with loved ones during the pandemic.

Like with all patio heaters, we've seen stock of this product fluctuate. We don't recommend buying from third-party sellers. If it's out of stock or only available from third-party sellers, we recommend waiting until Amazon receives more stock.

Read our full review of the AmazonBasics Patio Heater What else we recommend: Mr. Heater Buddy Patio Heater The Mr. Heater Buddy Patio Heater is a compact, portable heater perfect for personal use and heating up small outdoor spaces. Its rugged design also makes it suitable for toting along in cold weather excursions like camping.

Pros: Small footprint, durable construction, portable, simple to use

Cons: Not an ideal solution for providing warmth for a large group of people

This lightweight little device is an excellent option if you're short on space or want an outdoor heating option while you're on-the-go. It's only 14 inches wide, making it suitable for tabletop use. However, on mild winter days, I place it under my patio table as a supplemental heating device to my AmazonBasics unit. It heats up the surrounding area fairly quickly and runs for up to 3 hours — the single control knob allows you to choose between low and high heat. It puts out 9,000 Btu on its max setting, which is perfect for solo use, but not quite enough to keep multiple guests comfortable. You'll also get the most benefit if you're sitting in front of the heater. 

A tip-over switch and oxygen depletion sensor round out the device's safety features. I recommend this space-saving heater to anyone wanting to spend more time outside. Whether you're itching to get fresh air on unusually chilly summer nights or looking to enjoy a cup of coffee out on your balcony on a beautiful fall morning, this heater will help keep you warm without gobbling up valuable real estate.

Like with all patio heaters, we've seen stock of this product fluctuate. We don't recommend buying from third-party sellers. If it's out of stock or only available from third-party sellers, we recommend waiting until Amazon receives more stock.

Read our full review of the Mr. Heater Buddy Patio Heater What else we tested

We're continuing to test patio heaters as we can get our hands on them. Here are patio heaters we tested that didn't make the cut.

What we don't recommend

Rangland Patio Heater ($239): Out of the box, this unit looks almost identical to the AmazonBasics heater, but putting it together revealed a few significant red flags: the dome-top was warped, and several pieces didn't fit neatly together. The end result was a flimsy-looking heater with a wobbly base — I definitely didn't trust it to last in windy conditions. When it came time to start it up, I wasn't able to ignite it. I enlisted the help of my husband and father-in-law — who works in the aerospace field and gave the heater a failing grade — and neither had any luck firing it up. We even switched out the propane tank just in case the one we were using had an imperceptible leak, but to no avail. I also wasn't able to locate a customer service contact in the manual; another major red flag. I wasn't alone in my issues with this heater; multiple consumer reviews mention the same issues getting the heater lit. Even if you find an enticing deal on this heater, I recommend skipping it.

Other brands to consider

Outdoor heaters are an investment, but they won't last forever. Buying from a reputable company that sells replacement parts means you'll be able to repair your patio heater should something break. We've noticed a lot of brandless outdoor heaters on Amazon and other online retailers and we don't recommend buying them, nor buying from third-party sellers. Some reputable patio heater brands include Home Depot's in-house brand Hampton Bay, AZ Patio Heaters (also sold as Hiland), Westinghouse, Dyna-Glo, and Mr. Heater. While we've only been able to test a few brands due to stock issues, we'll be adding reviews of other reputable brands to this guide soon. Here are some products worth considering:

The different types of patio heaters

Here's a quick breakdown of the most common types of outdoor patio heaters on the market:

  • Pyramid: A tall, freestanding outdoor heater with a triangular shape that usually runs on propane. Flames run up a center column from the bottom to the top of the heater.
  • Dome-top: Also known as mushroom-top heaters, these models are tall and skinny with  a big metal disk on top that deflects heat downward to distribute it evenly over a large area. They also run on propane and have a similar heat output to pyramid-style units. 
  • Tabletop: Compact, portable gas heaters that are small enough to fit on a patio table, like the Mr. Heater Buddy Heater.
  • Electric heaters: Hanging lamp or freestanding heaters that require an outlet for power. These put out a lot less heat than propane-powered heaters. 

While most outdoor patio heaters use propane or electricity as an energy source, natural gas heaters also exist, but they require professional installation into an existing gas line, so we don't expect to test these anytime soon.

What to consider when shopping for a patio heater Certifications

Matthew Griffith, prevention section chief with the Montreal Fire Department, said shoppers should look for patio heaters with certifications from the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC). These independent certification bodies test and ensure various appliances meet specific safety standards. Griffith said a lot of inexpensive products don't have these safety certifications, which can be quite expensive for brands to obtain."There's a reason why one company can sell it at half the price," he said. Though a product with safety certifications often costs more, Griffith said it's important to prioritize safety over price. 

Heat output

You're buying a patio heater to keep warm when it gets cold, so heat output should be a key consideration. Most manufacturers list heat output in British thermal units (Btu) and estimate the square footage a heater can handle in ideal conditions. The higher the Btu of a heater, the more heat it will produce and the larger an area it will cover. 

You can estimate the Btu you need to heat your outdoor area by multiplying the cubic footage of the space by your desired temperature increase. My patio is about 1,500 cubic feet (assuming a height of around 5 feet — I'm short, so I don't need to heat the air too far above my head), and if I want to hang out outside in the fall when it's 50 degrees outside, I'll probably want to raise the temperature by at least 10 degrees. That means I'll need a heater that puts out at least 15,000 Btu. Bigger spaces or colder climates will require more Btu to heat comfortably. 

If you live in a colder area or are looking to entertain guests, we recommend looking for a heater that produces 40,000 Btu or more, which is enough to heat around 2,000 square feet comfortably. Dome or pyramid-shaped heaters are typically larger and have a higher Btu output, so they can usually heat a larger area than tabletop patio heaters. These tall patio heaters are often seen at restaurants because they can keep a large number of guests comfortable at one time. Thomas Bonfiglio, CEO and founder of Triple T Hospitality, said that the high heat output is one of the reasons he chose pyramid and dome-top heaters for his New York and New Jersey restaurants. "Diners who may still not be comfortable eating inside anywhere can have a pleasant experience outside for many months," Bonfiglio said.

Fuel Type

Propane-powered heaters typically produce more heat than electric heaters because they aren't limited by the circuit system of your home. That, of course, means there are some additional safety considerations for propane heaters, since they won't shut off automatically like an electric heater will when a circuit is overloaded. You can read more about safety considerations in the section below.

The majority of propane patio heaters are compatible with standard 15-20 pound propane tanks, but some portable versions work with smaller, 16 ounce canisters. You'll have to buy propane tanks separately from the heater, as you would for a gas-powered outdoor fireplace or grill. Fortunately, small and large propane tanks are readily available at most hardware stores; it typically costs about $20 to $25 to refill or buy a 20 pound propane tank at Home Depot. 

How much gas your patio heater uses depends on its heat output, what setting you're using, and the surrounding air temperature (the colder it is, the more gas you'll use to heat the area). Amerigas says that you can expect to generate 22,000 Btu per hour for each pound of propane. So if you have a 40,000 Btu patio heater, it'll burn through about 2 pounds of propane every hour you're operating it on its highest setting. Patio heaters guzzle a lot of propane, so I always like to keep an extra tank on hand, since I have multiple outdoor gas-powered appliances like a grill and an outdoor fireplace. 

Electric heaters are usually cheaper and safer to operate because they produce less heat. They also don't require regular trips to the hardware store for fuel refills. But the heat isn't very powerful or far-reaching if you're looking to keep a crowd warm.

If aesthetics are important to you, keep in mind that electric and propane heaters give off different types of light. Gas-powered patio heaters create actual flames, which produce a natural, fireplace-like glow. Bonfiglio said he settled on gas models for his restaurant because of their ability to evenly diffuse heat without adding unnecessary bright light. 


Bonfiglio also chose patio heaters with controls that are high up and out of reach to customers, which keeps diners safe and the atmosphere consistent. If your household has children, pets, or fidgety adults who like to play with controls, you might also consider a patio heater with out-of-reach controls to prevent any accidents. Most tall, freestanding patio heaters naturally have controls that are high up. My AmazonBasics patio heater has controls so high that I need to stand on my tippy toes to reach them. 

On the flip side, if you don't have any wayward hands in your home, you might find it a pain to break out the step ladder every time you want to turn on your patio heater. Some models come with remote controls for easier operation, or you may opt for a tabletop unit.

Portability and storage

Experts told us you can store most propane heaters outside all year round. Just add a cover to prevent unnecessary wear and tear during rainstorms and cold winter months. We recommend choosing a model with wheels if you're opting for a standalone unit like a dome-top or pyramid heater, so that it's easy to wheel out of the way when not in use. If storing a portable patio heater indoors, remove the propane attachment before doing so. 

Safety considerations

Outdoor heaters are ultra-convenient and can easily turn your humdrum patio or deck area into a luxury retreat. But there's a lot to consider safety-wise when bringing any heat producing appliance into your home.

Griffith said it's important to follow manufacturer recommendations during installation, which means reading the owner's manual—something many buyers never do. He also recommends keeping your patio heater away from anything combustible, and making sure you allow for at least 4 or 5 feet of clearance in all directions, including vertically. Be careful of trees, umbrellas, and, if you have an apartment balcony, any balconies above you made of flammable materials. Propane-powered heaters have actual flames coming out of them, which is why it's essential to always be alert when they're lit. 

With most outdoor heaters, you don't need to worry about accidentally burning yourself via fully-exposed flames. The flames on most tall freestanding heaters, for instance, are well out of reach from curious little hands. But you should never leave your outdoor heater unattended, and be extra cautious on windy days. 

General propane tank safety also applies, Griffith said. Keep propane tanks at least 3 feet away from entrances or building openings, discard tanks that are damaged or more than 10 years old, and never store a propane tank indoors. It's OK to keep a tank outside all year round. "There's no danger for it to be out in the cold," says Griffith. 

Most importantly, never use an outdoor propane-powered heater inside. "Those are meant to be outdoors where it's ventilated…[carbon monoxide] is an odorless, colorless insipid gas. You simply aren't able to detect it without a CO detector. There's cases every year across North America of people dying, unfortunately, because of things like that," Griffith said. 

While electric patio heaters are a bit safer because of natural restrictions to electrical output and built-in safety mechanisms in modern home wiring, you should be careful about placement, said Dan Mock, brand manager for Mister Sparky, an electrical services company. Taping down wires can prevent accidental knock-overs and is especially important if you have kids or pets running around. Plug-in heaters require a lot of electricity, so Mock also recommends not having too many things plugged in at the same time as your electric heater. Electric patio heaters aren't all dust and waterproof either. Check the manufacturer specifications and look for an IP Code rating of at least 55, which means the device can handle some dust and water. Here's a handy chart of IP ratings and what they mean. 

Griffith suggests calling your local fire department if you're unsure about placement or have questions related to patio heater safety, and he also adds that it's a good idea to check whether your town has any specific regulations for this kind of outdoor heating appliance.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden extends a hand to the world on first day as president by rejoining Paris climate accord and WHO, while revoking Trump's travel ban

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:25pm
President Joe Biden waves after being sworn in during his inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
  • President Joe Biden signed a slew of executive orders on day one in the White House.
  • Several of Biden's executive actions were all about reconnecting America with the world.
  • Former President Donald Trump damaged America's global reputation, and Biden wants to restore it.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Just hours after he was sworn into office, President Joe Biden signed executive orders that underscored his intentions to take a drastically more cooperative and multilateral approach to foreign affairs than his predecessor. 

Biden rejoined the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, which former President Donald Trump took steps to withdraw the US from with separate actions in 2017 and 2020. He also revoked Trump's controversial travel ban that primarily impacted predominately Muslim countries. 

The president's executive order on the Paris climate agreement -  a landmark pact between nearly 200 nations to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions - will see the US officially rejoin the accord in 30 days. Biden's order to reverse Trump's move to withdraw from the WHO involves Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, attending and speaking at the international organization's executive board meeting on Thursday.

And Biden's executive order revoking the travel ban, often referred to as the Muslim ban, will ensure that the State Department restarts visa processing for affected countries. The order also calls for a proposal to be developed to "restore fairness and remedy the harms caused by the bans, especially for individuals stuck in the waiver process and those who had immigrant visas denied," Biden's transition team said in a summary of the orders on Wednesday. 

Biden's day-one actions are part of his pledge to repair America's alliances and reestablish the US as a leader in global affairs. He's extending a hand to the world after four years of the US increasingly isolating itself, which is line with the Trump administration's unilateral approach to foreign affairs.

Read more: Joe Biden is hiring about 4,000 political staffers to work in his administration. Here's how 3 experts say you can boost your chances of getting one of those jobs.

Trump's "America First" philosophy saw the US repudiate the global institutions it helped build post-World War II, as the former president consistently argued that the US government was getting taken advantage of by the international community. Much of Trump's criticism in this regard was not grounded in fact or reality.

When it came to the Paris climate accord, for example, Trump said the deal was unfair as justification for withdrawing despite the fact that the US set its own targets under the nonbinding pact. 

The ex-president's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and WHO also put the US at odds with key US allies. Trump dismissed scientifically-grounded concerns about climate change in pulling from the former, and experts warned he risked exacerbating the COVID-19 pandemic by withdrawing from the WHO. 

And by rescinding the travel ban, Biden takes a major step toward ending what was widely viewed as an era of unabashed xenophobia and Islamophobia under Trump that caused stress and trauma for families impacted by the restrictions. Trump's travel ban effectively vilified Muslims from other countries and portrayed them as potential terrorists, though research from the New America think tank shows "the large majority of jihadist terrorists in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents." 

Beyond these issues, Biden signed a slew of other executive orders on Wednesday that included stopping construction of the wall on the US-Mexico border that was in many ways the centerpiece of Trump's agenda. Critics of the former president saw the wall as a symbol of Trump's xenophobia and antithetical to America's image of itself as a nation with a rich immigrant tradition.

Taken together, such moves from Biden are emblematic of his intention to show the world that a new era in relations between the US and the world has begun. 

"The world is watching, watching all of us today," Biden said during his inaugural address. "America has been tested, and we've come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again."

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best shower curtain liners in 2021

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:21pm

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

  • A great shower curtain liner should be durable, easy to take care for, and mildew- resistant. 
  • We recommend plastic or polyester liners for the best durability and water repellency, with a weighted hem for keeping the liner in place.
  • See also: The best shower curtains
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The purpose of a shower curtain liner is simple but important: to keep water contained in the tub and off your bathroom floor. Shopping for the best shower liner should be just as straightforward if you know what to look for. 

Most liners are made from cheap, durable, and water-repellent plastics like PVC or PEVA. They're easy to maintain and you can replace them easily once they've developed too much buildup. There are also affordable fabric liners if you prefer something that repels water but also looks nice enough to double as your main shower curtain. 

"I'm personally partial to polyester as it has a softer, more elevated look and feel than the old-school vinyl options, but it's still water-repellent and mildew-resistant (as much as it can be). It's easy enough to throw it in the wash for a good clean every month, and as a bonus, is more environmentally friendly," said Heather Goerzen, a designer at online interior design platform Havenly. We've included both disposable plastic and reusable fabric liners in our guide. 

Other than deciding your preferred material, we also recommend looking for liners with weighted, magnetic hems. This design feature makes the shower liner cling to the tub, not your body, so you can enjoy your shower time without distractions. 

All of our picks are based on research and expert input from Goerzen and materials engineer Dr. Peter Kofinas. Read more about our methodology here. Keep in mind none of the options come with curtain hooks, so you'll need to buy those separately. 

Here are the best shower curtain linersUpdated on 01/20/2021: For this update, we consulted experts including bathroom designers and materials engineers to learn what to look for in different kinds of shower liners, how to shop for them, and materials to consider. We've chosen two liners per category that fit criteria based on their input and our own research. For our next update, we'll be calling in samples of these liners and putting them through a variety of tests. The best shower curtains overall If you don't mind the plastic look — which will likely be hidden by your main shower curtain anyway — and wiping down your liner from time to time, these PEVA shower liners offer excellent durability and mildew resistance.Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium) The best budget shower curtains You don't have to spend more than a few dollars on a liner if you don't want to. These cheap but effective liners are suitable for college apartments, guest bathrooms, and anyone on a budget. The drawback is that you might have to replace them more often.Product CardProduct Card (medium) The best fabric shower curtains Fabric shower liners look and feel nicer than plastic liners, plus they're machine-washable so you don't have to buy a new liner every few months. Even better, they usually don't cost more than their plastic counterparts.Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium) The best curtain/liner sets These sets have both an attractive shower curtain and a built-in liner to save you the time and trouble of buying each separately.Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium) Our methodology

We spoke with interior designer Heather Goerzen and materials engineer Dr. Peter Kofinas about what goes into a great shower curtain liner, materials to look for, general price ranges, and their favorite brands. With their advice in mind, we then selected a handful of liners for each category.

Our next update will involve requesting samples of all the liners and conducting durability and water resistance tests. In addition to noting the ease of assembly, opacity, and seams, we will: 

  1. Wash the liner at least two times (if machine-washable), and stress test it by pulling it roughly back and forth in the tub
  2. Shower with each liner for at least three days in a row, noting how quickly or slowly the liner dries.  
  3. Track long-term mildew growth in the upcoming months.
Shower curtain liner FAQs Why do I need a shower curtain liner?  

A shower curtain liner helps prevent mildew and keeps water contained within the tub and off your floors. If you have a decorative shower curtain that isn't made from a water-resistant material, you'll need a liner to protect it from the water. You can also use a liner as your sole shower curtain.

What size liner should I buy?

The standard liner dimensions are 72" by 72". There are also extra long or extra wide versions on the market. Measure your shower before purchasing to ensure you're not getting a liner that's too narrow, short, or large.

Is PVC safe? What about PEVA? 

"PVC and PEVA are safe," said Dr. Peter Kofinas, a professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Maryland. He specializes in the science of polymers, which are materials made from repeating subunits of macromolecules and include PVC and PEVA. 

Kofinas explained to me that PVC contains small quantities of chlorine gas thanks to the use of plasticizers (small molecules that soften materials and make them more pliable) and the manufacturing process, "but it's definitely not toxic." These very small gas emissions are also why products with PVC tend to smell. 

A PVC liner can be dangerous "if you stand close to [it] and you sniff it for hours, but that's not the condition that people are using it. Under normal conditions, these are safe and have been evaluated as such," said Kofinas.

How often should I replace my shower curtain liner?

It depends. "It will all vary depending on your environment, the amount of humidity in your bathroom, and the fabric type of the liner itself," said Goerzen. "The best advice: keep an eye on it and if you're noticing some build-up, then toss it in the wash [or throw it away and replace with a new liner if not made from a washable fabric]. 

Goerzen also suggests adding baking soda to the wash or using a baking soda-powered detergent to break down grime and mildew. 

For a liner that is not machine-washable, such as one made from PVC and PEVA, you should scrub it clean with a sponge, water, and white vinegar every time you notice grime and mildew build-up. If hand-washing does not remove the build-up, it's time to throw away your liner and buy a new one.

Glossary of terms 

PVC: Short for polyvinyl chloride and known colloquially as vinyl. A common polymer that is cheap, durable, water-resistant, and used in a wide variety of applications, including shower curtain liners, plumbing, and medical devices. Plasticizer may be added, as in the case of shower liners, to make it softer and more flexible. 

PEVA: Short for polyethylene-vinyl acetate. A chlorine-free alternative to PVC that is also cheap, durable, and water-resistant. In addition to shower curtain liners, it's used as foam rubber in shoes and other sports equipment.

Check out our other great bathroom buying guides Read the original article on Business Insider

How to use the Magic Wand tool in Photoshop to easily edit backgrounds and other objects

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:15pm
  • You can use the Magic Wand tool in Photoshop to automatically select a specific section of the image.
  • The Magic Wand uses colors to decide what should be selected, and you can change its "Tolerance" level.
  • Once you've made your Magic Wand selection, you can edit that selection in several ways.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

The Magic Wand is one of Photoshop's most powerful selection tools. Unlike other tools that make you manually select what you want, the Magic Wand tool does it automatically.

Photoshop's Magic Wand is handy for selecting the background of a photo, or an object that's entirely one color. This is because it decides what to select based on colors - once it hits a section that's a different color from where it started, it'll stop.

You can edit this with the Magic Wand's "Tolerance" setting, which makes it more or less sensitive to changes in color.

Here's how the Magic Wand tool works, and how to use it.

How to use the Magic Wand tool in Photoshop

Again, the Magic Wand tool works best with pictures that have contrasting colors. This way, the tool can be more accurate.

1. Open a photo in Photoshop. 

2. Click the Magic Wand icon in the toolbar on the left side of the screen. It's the fourth option from the top. If the icon instead looks like a brush painting a dotted line, right-click it and select "Magic Wand Tool."

Choose the Magic Wand Tool from the fourth cubby.

3. At the top of the screen, make sure that the "Add to selection" mode, which looks like two white boxes, is selected. This option means that every time you click the Magic Wand in the photo, you add to your selection instead of taking away.

The "Add to selection" mode is the best general-purpose setting for making selections.

4. Also at the top of the screen, set the Tolerance to "25." This is a good starting point for most photos, but we'll adjust it if needed. The higher the Tolerance, the more you'll select per click.

Adjust the tolerance to control how much of the photo is selected with the Magic Wand.

5. Click the image, on a region you want to select.

6. Take a look at what was selected. If the entire region wasn't selected, you have two options: One approach is to increase the tolerance and try again, continuing to "dial in" the best tolerance for the image.

Alternately, you can keep clicking the Magic Wand tool in the region you want to select; because you're using the "Add to selection" mode, every new use of the Magic Wand adds to your selection. Often, the best approach is to do a little of both. 

By varying the tolerance, you can select most or all of a region with just a few clicks.

7. If you selected too much and included parts of the photo you don't want in your selection, click the "New selection mode" button at the top of the screen (just one white square) and try again with a lower tolerance. You can choose "Add to selection" to build up your highlighted section until you're satisfied with the results. 

8. Once you've selected everything you want, feel free to switch to another tool and edit the section however you like. You can also use the "Filters" menu at the top of the screen. As long as you keep the selection active, nothing you do inside of it will spill outside onto the rest of the picture.

9. Once you're done, enable the Magic Wand tool again and right-click inside of your selection. Click "Deselect" in the drop-down menu.

If you want more precise editing, you can also use the Quick Selection tool to add or subtract from your highlights.

How to use the Magic Wand tool with layers

Using layers is a great way to make sure that you don't accidentally edit part of the picture that you want to save. If you're going to make a big edit with the Magic Wand tool, you should duplicate your layers beforehand.

This preserves an unedited version of the image, and lets you blend the two versions of the image if you want. To do this:

1. Go to the Layers palette on the right side of the screen and drag the current layer(s) to the "Create a New Layer" button (shaped like a plus sign or sticky note) at the bottom of the screen. 

2. Hide your original layers by clicking the eye icon next to them.

Drag the layer to the New Layer button at the bottom of the window.

3. Click the new layers on top to select them and proceed with selecting and editing. 

Be sure to hide the layer you are not working with.

You can use the eye icons to hide and unhide the layers however you like, which is great if you want to use the originals for reference.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:Read the original article on Business Insider

The best toilet seat bidets in 2021

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:14pm
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

A bidet is a useful tool for cleaning your nether regions more hygienically and economically than traditional toilet paper. Although there are variations of bidets, bidet toilet seats and attachments are the most popular options in the United States. 

At its most basic, a bidet toilet attachment uses your existing toilet seat and sends a stream of water either toward your rear or your front areas, and you can adjust the water pressure to meet your comfort level. It's affordable (generally around $100 to $150), easy to install, and doesn't require electricity.

Things get fancy when you increase the budget ($250 and up), with added features like warm water, heated seat, lighting, self-cleaning, and more. The more expensive options tend to be complete toilet seat replacements and require electricity.

To narrow down our list of the best bidet toilet seats and attachments, we researched reviews from owners and experts. Then we called in nearly two dozen bidets to test; you can read how we tested them here. We chose the models that performed well, included useful features that justify their price, and were enjoyable to use. 

Here are the best bidets in 2021Updated on 1/20/2021: We added a list of bidet toilets and attachments we're looking forward to testing for a future update to this guide.  The best bidet toilet seat overall For a reasonable price, the Coway Bidetmega 400 Electronic Bidet Seat offers all of the common high-end amenities, including a nightlight, warm air dryer, and an intuitive remote controller.

Pros: Strong water pressure, water heated up to 97 degrees in our tests, easy to use, heated seat, warm air dryer, adjustable nozzle positions for front and rear washes, easy to install

Cons: Remote doesn't pair with seat automatically, minimal one-year warranty

The Bidetmega 400 Electronic Bidet Seat is one of three Coway bidets I tested for this guide, and the 400 came out on top because it received high marks in every category except warranty. It only has the industry-standard one-year warranty, while a few other units in our guide offer longer warranties.

The Bidetmega 400 heated water up to a comfortable 97 degrees Fahrenheit in my tests and produced strong enough pressure for a thorough cleaning. Plus, there are four temperature options and three pressure strengths to set the water flow to your needs. The basic functions are intuitive to use with the handy remote control, though I was a little annoyed that the remote didn't automatically pair with the seat once I powered it up. I had to reference the user manual for that step, but it was easy enough to make the connection by following the instructions.

The seat fits my toilet well and stays in place. The seat is wider than most, which I appreciated because I have a larger posterior. The lid of the seat was also supportive and comfortable for sitting. 

The Bidetmega 400 features most of the amenities you'd expect from a high-end bidet toilet seat. The blue night light illuminates the toilet seat, which makes it easier to use the bathroom in the middle of the night without turning on harsh overhead lights. The dryer has four levels of heat and gets plenty hot. It does an excellent job of drying after washing, which minimizes the need for toilet paper. There are also four levels of seat heating — up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit — or you can keep it off to save energy.

Lastly, the 400 has three preprogrammed cleaning modes: basic, active, and soothing. Basic is designed for general use. The active mode moves the stream of water around for a more thorough cleaning, while the soothing mode offers more gentle care. The Bidetmega 400 is my main bidet when I'm not testing bidets, and I mainly use the active mode.

The best bidet toilet seat for custom water flow control With the Omigo Luxury Bidet Toilet Seat, you can control the nozzle position, pressure, and spray width to customize the water flow to meet your needs.

Pros: Three-year warranty, three spray width options, seven nozzle positions for the front and rear, easy to use remote controller, strong pressure, simple installation

Cons: Lid is unpleasant to sit on, need to have an outlet near the toilet or an extension cord to operate (as is the case with any electric unit)

What sets the Omigo Luxury Bidet Toilet Seat apart from other bidets in our guide is the adjustable spray width. You can pick from three settings, ranging from a targeted cleaning to a broader wash. Additionally, as with all bidet seats, you can adjust the water pressure, which gets plenty strong. The Omigo Luxury offers seven nozzle positions in both the rear and front, which is more than most electric seats. Alternatively, you can choose to have the nozzle oscillate.

The easy-to-use remote, numerous features, and overall design remind me of my previous favorite bidet, the Brondell Swash 1400, which has been surpassed by a few worthy contenders, including other Brondell models. The Omigo Luxury is about $65 cheaper than the Swash 1400, and in my tests, it did a better job of heating water. I also found the heated seat and air dryer stayed plenty warm.

The Omigo Luxury has an outstanding three-year warranty so you can count on it lasting. Plus, the installation process was seamless, and the seat fit my bowl perfectly and stayed put. 

The biggest negative for me is the lid design. It has a 270-pound weight limit, and it's angled forward so much that it's unpleasant to sit on. The seat is nice and has a 330-pound capacity, but don't plan on sitting on the lid while clipping your toenails or performing other tasks.

The best high-end bidet If you have extra money to spend and are looking for a bidet that provides nonstop warm water, the Bio Bidet Bliss BB2000 Smart Toilet Seat is an attractive solution.

Pros: Strong water pressure, vortex wash, attractive appearance, continuous warm water, hot air drying, heated seat, five nozzle positions for each the front and rear, three-year warranty

Cons: Unintuitive remote control, the nightlight is positioned on the side rather than illuminating the bowl interior

In my testing, the Bio Bidet Bliss BB2000 Smart Toilet Seat performed in all categories. It has an attractive appearance with a stainless-steel look. The remote control with its large, easy-to-read screen is the fanciest I've seen. 

My favorite part was the intensity of the water pressure. There are five pressure levels, including a "vortex wash" that is designed to "stimulate bowel movements" with its enema-like pressure. Sensitive individuals will want to avoid this feature, and everyone else should proceed with caution, but testing showed that it works as advertised.

There are three water temperature levels, but even on its highest setting, the BB2000 only got up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. This is warm enough for most tastes, but at this price point, I would have liked to have seen higher temperatures. Fortunately, the water stays consistently warm, even during longer cleans.

Installation was a breeze: It only took me about 10 minutes (not counting the time I needed to remove the old seat) and I appreciate that the mounting plate keeps the seat in place without wiggling. The Bio Bidet Bliss is covered by a three-year full coverage warranty. 

The biggest negatives I could find were the nightlight and confusing operation. Instead of a night light in the toilet bowl, the BB2000's night light is on the side illuminating the on-seat controls. This might be helpful when sitting on the toilet but it's less so when taking aim while standing up in the middle of the night. Also, I didn't find the remote control to be intuitive. I had to leaf through the user manual to figure out the symbols and how to access all of the functions. 

The best budget bidet The Brondell LE89 Swash Electronic Bidet Seat has many high-end features, including warm water cleaning, hot air drying, and a heated seat, without a high-end price.

Pros: Water gets up to 101 degrees Fahrenheit, heated seat, warm air drying, five front and rear nozzle positions

Cons: Pressure could have been stronger, no remote, the lid isn't comfortable for sitting

I've tested half a dozen Brondell bidets over the years and the Swash 1400 was my main bidet for a long time, but during testing, the LE89 Swash Electronic Bidet Seat worked nearly as well for less than half the price. I was particularly impressed with how hot the water got in my tests — it reached 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

The heated seat and air dryer also achieved high temps. Plus, there are several comfort settings so you can go with lower temps or even choose Eco Mode, which provides a good balance of electricity use and comfort.

Installation should take you less than half an hour, and you can do it with nothing more than a flathead screwdriver, though you might also want a wrench. I liked how securely the seat fit my toilet bowl without any movement, and it looks nice on my toilet. However, the lid tilts forward and isn't the best for sitting on for long periods.

Aside from a few specialized settings, the controls are intuitive to use, but I don't like that they're installed on the seat so you have to turn to your right to see them. There's no remote controller. This might be a problem for individuals with mobility issues. 

The only other negative I found was I would have preferred more powerful water pressure, but I like it stronger. Most people will find that the LE89 is powerful enough for their needs. More sensitive individuals will appreciate the softer end of the five pressure settings.

The best non-electric bidet If you don't have an electrical outlet near your toilet or just want to give a bidet a try before investing more money, the Tushy Spa Premium Warm Water Bidet Attachment is a stylish, versatile solution.

Pros: Doesn't require electricity, the water gets as hot as your water heater can supply, strong pressure, virtually limitless nozzle positions, nine color options

Cons: Easy for kids to squirt water all over; no high-end features like a heated seat, dryer, nightlight, etc.

For the most part, non-electric bidets aren't as good as electric varieties. However, the non-electric attachments do have their benefits. I think the Tushy Spa Premium Warm Water Bidet Attachment exhibits all of the superior features of the power-free units. 

The attachment has a hose that connects to the hot water inlet under your sink. After installing the hose, you may want to tape it to the floor to avoid a tripping hazard. Since you are relying on your home's hot water, the attachment can provide water as hot as your heater is capable of supplying. For me, it was 113 degrees Fahrenheit, which is too hot, but it's easy to adjust the bidet's flow to a more moderate temperature. 

If having a hot water hose running along your floor doesn't sound appealing, you can choose the Tushy Classic, which doesn't have warm water. Alternatively, you can skip installing the warm water hose of the Spa altogether.

The Tushy Spa also allows you to control the water pressure intensity and the nozzle position. Since both functions rely on levers, there are virtually infinite intensities and positions, and the pressure at its strongest is much more than you'll need. You'll want to be careful you don't turn it on too high.

Since there are so few functions, the Tushy Spa is easy to use and much less expensive than an electric seat. Plus, since it's just an attachment, you can use it with any toilet seat you want. Another great thing about Tushy is its nine color options. 

Read more about Tushy products What else we considered

We tested nearly two dozen bidet toilet seats and attachments while researching this guide. Here are some of the units that barely missed the cut, as well as unique models worth considering:

Kohler C3-430 ($662): There's a lot to like about the C3-430. The water gets plenty hot and consistently stays at the temperature you want, the pressure is strong and adjustable, and the remote control is easy to use once you get the hang of it. But, at this price point, you'd expect the bidet to have a dryer. The almost $1,000 Kohler C3-230, which I also tested, does have a dryer, but it didn't perform as well as the C3-430 in other categories. I couldn't get either seat to stay securely in place.

Toto C100 ($334): I tested three Toto models for this guide, and they're all very good. The C100 is a solid choice because it has plenty of options for drying, the heated seat, nozzle position, and water temperature. The seat fit my toilet well and didn't move around, and the controls are intuitive. However, the controls are attached to the unit so you have to turn to make adjustments. The Toto C200, which costs about $60 more, uses a remote control, but I found the water pressure was inferior. The lids of both models were uncomfortable to sit on.

American Standard Advanced Clean SpaLet 2.0 ($397.15): American Standard has been a trusted name in the bathroom fixture space for nearly a century. The SpaLet 2.0 is a quality unit with excellent warm water and pressure cleaning. Plus, it has plenty of options for a custom wash. However, I feel strongly that if you're going to be spending more than $300 on a bidet seat, it should be able to dry you. This model doesn't have a dryer. 

Brondell GoSpa ($9.98): This one is for the serious bidet fans who want a portable option. The GoSpa stays in my overnight bag and goes with me anywhere I travel. It's a travel bidet with a 13.5-ounce reservoir/bottle attached to a nozzle. You fill the bottle with tap water before you sit on the toilet. Once you're done, you aim the nozzle at the area you want to clean and squeeze the bottle for a makeshift bidet experience. The GoSpa in no way compares to any of the bidets in our guide, but it's better than just cleaning with toilet paper.

Brondell Swash S102 Non-Electric ($129.99): This is one of the best non-electric bidet toilet seats I tested. The S102 features a warm water hookup that attaches to the hot water connection under your sink — like the Tushy Spa. Or, you can save $10 and go with the S101, which doesn't have warm water cleaning. The pressure is outstanding, and the overall bidget looks nice. However, the unobtrusive knobs are hard to read, and as with other non-electric toilets, you're missing a lot of features that make bidets a luxury experience.

Our testing methodology

I installed 22 bidets on my Mansfield Waverly Toilet and put them through several tests. The most important bidet factors to consider are performance, ease of use, and adjustment options.

Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:

Ease of use: There are three types of controls used on most bidet seats: on-seat buttons, on-seat dials, and remote controls. The easiest to use are the remote controls because you need to twist to your right to view the other two options, which may be a deal-breaker for individuals with mobility issues. Another way to make bidet seats easy to use is to have clear, simple-to-understand graphics or words that tell you what each button is for. I examined the controls myself and also questioned my wife about her experiences to see if she could figure out the functions without reading the user manual.

Pressure: Whether washing dishes or using a hose, anyone who has used water to clean knows that stronger pressure means an easier, more thorough cleaning. Well, the same is true using a bidet. Since I don't have a device for measuring PSI, this was a subjective test based on my personal experiences. I tend to like very strong pressure. If a unit was strong enough for me and featured at least three pressure adjustment options, including a gentle flow for sensitive people, then it received high marks.

Water temperature: Upping the temperature of the water you're cleaning with will also help. So, I looked for bidet toilet seats that can produce hot water, usually around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is not so hot that it will scald you, but warm enough to get the job done. I tested the temperature by running the bidet on its highest water temperature, collecting the water in a container, and measuring it with a probe thermometer. I also looked for at least three temperature options in addition to ambient.

Seat fit and look: If the seat doesn't fit right on your toilet, it won't function properly and will look awful. I took notes on how easy it was to securely install the seat. I also assessed how good the seat felt on my posterior and whether the lid was supportive and comfortable to sit on. Lastly, I looked at how attractive it looks on the toilet. Were the cords and hoses sticking out everywhere? Did the controls look ugly or intimidating?

Nozzle positions: We're all made differently, and we all have different preferences. Bidets should have enough nozzle positions to deliver water right where you want it without making you move around a lot.

Extra features: The best bidets have several less-than-necessary features that just make bathroom trips more enjoyable. At the top of the list is drying. Next is a heated seat, especially on those cold winter mornings. And, if you have a youngster in the house, you'll want a bidet that only activates when significant pressure is applied to the seat, like when you're sitting on it. Otherwise, your young one can send water everywhere.

Warranty: All but four of the bidets we tested have one-year warranties. The four outliers have three-year warranties, and each cost more than $500. In my 5+ years of owning bidets, I've never experienced a malfunction, but if you are particularly risk-averse, you may want to choose a bidet with a longer warranty.

What we're looking forward to test

We're continuing to test our picks for long-term performance, and we look forward to testing new ones:

  1. Toto Washlet C2 ($675): This is an update to the C100 so it'll be interesting to see how the new features perform and whether it outperforms our other picks.
  2. Toto Washlet C5 ($780): This is an update to the C200 so it'll also be interesting to test the new features. 
  3. Whisper Bidet ($79): This is a relatively new brand of bidets, so it'd be good to compare it to industry heavyweights like Toto and Brondell.
  4. LUXE Bidet Neo 120 ($39.95): This has a lot of good reviews from Amazon, but reviews can be misleading, so I'd like to test the quality and see how it holds up given its affordable price.
  5. Brondell S1000-EW Swash 1000 ($569.99): There are a lot of high-end features with this bidet, such as self-cleaning stainless steel nozzles and an instant heating system. This would offer a good comparison to our current high-end pick. 
  6. Bio Bidet BB-1000 ($499): Bio Bidet makes our best budget pick but this is more expensive and has features like a heated seat, self-cleaning retractable nozzle, and drying function. 
  7. Ruiling ATK-1186 ($42.99): Handheld bidets are less popular than seats and attachments, so it'll be interesting to see how this type compares to the others. Installation doesn't look too hard and the price is among the lowest you'd find for a bidet.
  8. SmartBidet SB-1000 ($249.99): Despite the generic plastic-y look, this has a lot of good reviews, so I'd want to put this through our tests and see how it performs.
  9. GenieBidet ($119.98): Non-electric bidet seats aren't very popular and I've mostly seen non-electric bidet attachments. It's also relatively affordable as far as bidet seats go.
  10. Kohler Novita ($254.95): The curved look is a bit different from other bidet seats I've tested. Kohler is also a household brand that more people might be familiar with than, say Bio Bidet, so it might be appealing for those who are new to the bidet world.
How to choose a bidet that fits your toilet

When shopping for a bidet toilet seat, you need to know whether your toilet is elongated or round.

The best way to determine this out is to use a tape measure and mark from the center of the bolt holes, where the current seat is attached to your toilet, to the front lip of the bowl.

Most round toilets are about 16.5 inches. Elongated toilets measure 18.5 inches. Armed with this information, pay special attention when shopping for a bidet to ensure you get the right style for your toilet. Fortunately, most bidet seats are offered in both sizes.

Check out more of our great guides for bathroom updates Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon-owned Twitch has 'indefinitely' banned former President Trump from using its platform

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:12pm
  • Twitch is suspending former President Donald Trump "indefinitely."
  • The move comes after the Amazon-owned company disabled Trump's account but still left it active after the US Capitol siege.
  • Twitch's move is one of many that the tech industry has taken against Trump over risks of increased violence.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Streaming platform Twitch has banned former President Donald Trump "indefinitely." The Verge first reported the news.

In a statement to Insider, a Twitch spokesperson confirmed that the Amazon-owned company has " indefinitely suspended President Trump's Twitch channel due to the ongoing risk of further incitement of violence. The President's statements continue to be interpreted as calls to action, and we are taking this action to remove the potential for harm to our community and the general public."

Twitch previously blocked Trump from using the platform, after a mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, though Twitch left its account active. Twitch appears to have strengthened that restriction by preventing Trump from being able to stream on its platform.

According to The Verge, the new move means Trump will not be able to create another account on Twitch unless the company reverses its ban. Twitch also told Insider that it will be updating its policies as a result of its decision.

As The Verge notes, Twitch is the first tech company to crack down on Trump after his presidency has ended. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in on Wednesday at the US Capitol.

Twitch's indefinite ban of the former president comes two weeks after the deadly siege on the US Capitol led a slew of tech companies to restrict Trump's online accounts. Instead of publicly calling for the supporters who breached the federal building's walls to retreat, Trump released a video in which he briefly asked them to "go home" before telling them "we love you, you're very special." But Trump spent the majority of the video continuing with his unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

Facebook suspended Trump "indefinitely" or at least until Inauguration, when now-President Joe Biden would be sworn into office. 

Read more: Trump's Facebook ban is just 'a Band-Aid on a bullet wound,' critics say - but no one can agree on the best way to wipe out the disinformation contagion

Twitter permanently suspended Trump's account two days after the insurrection at the Capitol "due to the risk of further incitement of violence." And the violence also prompted corporate America at large to take a stronger stance against the former president, with some cutting off political funding. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

President Biden's stimulus plan faces its first test

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:07pm

Good morning and welcome to Insider Advertising. I'm senior advertising reporter Lauren Johnson, and here's what's going on:

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Tips, comments, suggestions? Drop me a line at or on Twitter at @LaurenJohnson.

President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden arrive at Biden's inauguration. Biden faces a set of massive economic and health crises - and his stimulus plan will test a vow to work with Congressional RepublicansClick here to read the story. Washington Post editor Marty Baron applauds staff as reporters celebrate winning the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2016. Washington Post insiders are speculating over who might replace its revered editor Marty Baron and how the paper will adapt to the post-Trump eraClick here to read the story. Jake Singer, the cofounder of Swapstack, sees the startup as responding to an unmet customer need. Advertisements have emerged on Substack's 'ad-free' newsletter platform as writers look for more ways to earn. These 3 startups are trying to turn the trend into a business.Click here to read the story.More stories we're reading:

Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow! You can reach me in the meantime at and subscribe to this daily email here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

79 gift ideas for everyone on your list - all under $100

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:01pm

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

If you want to set a budget for your gift shopping list, $100 might just be your magic number.

For $100 or less, there is a big world of gift options that includes the latest and greatest tech accessories, useful kitchen tools, cozy cold-weather essentials, luxury beauty and skincare products, and unique just-for-fun goodies

The abundance of under-$100 gift ideas is both a blessing and a curse, so we've picked out 70+ of our favorites, many of which we've personally tested or gifted ourselves. You'll find gifts suitable for your significant other, friends, or whoever else you want to show some love. 

Shop the 79 best under-$100 gift ideas below:

This list includes a Sponsored Product that has been suggested by Coop Home Goods. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*

A personalized photo book Color Series Photo Book, available at Artifact Uprising, from $20

Photo books are a great gift for anyone in your life and can be used to commemorate vacations, weddings, special events, or even just everyday life. With three book sizes, multiple color and theme options, and the opportunity to choose a cover image, this gift is sure to make your recipient feel special.

A wine gift set Wine Lovers Set with Opener and Preserver, available at Amazon, $49.99

Help elevate your recipient's wine experience by gifting this wine lover's set. The included wine preserver is a great gift for those that live alone or like to take their time with their wines. The sleek charging base and modern design make this a gift your recipient will be proud to display on their kitchen counter.

A spa gift set Just Breathe Eucalyptus Spa Gift Set, available at UncommonGoods, $40

Give them the gift of relaxation with this spa gift set. This set comes with all the tools they'll need to grow a soothing eucalyptus plant, as well as botanical bath salts and a body scrubber to use while they wait for their plant to grow

A sturdy wallet Bellroy Low Slim Leather Wallet, available at Amazon, $75

Replace their tired and tattered wallet with this slim leather billfold from Insider Reviews' favorite wallet brand Bellroy. It's made with ethically sourced leather that will age wonderfully and last many years.

A Disney+ subscription Subscription, available at Disney+, $6.99/month or $69.99/year

It gives you unlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox, and costs just $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year after a free seven-day trial. Read everything there is to know about Disney+ over here.

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

Our favorite pillow Coop Original Pillow, available at Coop Home Goods, $59.99

Whether they sleep on their side, their back, or their stomach, we can't recommend the Coop Original Pillow more highly. The pillow comes with soft yet supportive fill that they can add or remove for customized comfort, and the cover is washable. Plus, it comes with a 100-night-trial.

*Sponsored by Coop Home Goods

A sleek fitness tracker that includes heart rate monitoring Fitbit Inspire 2, available at Amazon, $79.95

Fitbit's affordable Inspire 2 tracker has no shortage of useful features to keep them informed about their physical activity. The heart rate monitor lets them be more strategic about their workouts by tracking calorie burn, resting heart rate, and heart rate zones.

An everyday stainless steel frying pan that professional cooks love Frying Pan, available at Made In, $75

Pros like Tom Colicchio trust Made In's cookware to perform in some of the country's top kitchens, so rest assured it's good enough for your recipient. The quickly growing startup is behind a couple of our favorite pieces of cookware

A hair towel that cuts drying time in half Aquis Original Microfiber Hair Turban, available at Amazon, $20.99

Aquis' cult-favorite hair towels have inspired a slew of rave reviews online, including one from our own team of product reviewers.

The towels are made from a proprietary fabric called Aquitex that's composed of ultra-fine fibers (finer than silk) that work to reduce the amount of friction the hair experiences while in its weakest state. 

A memorable date night option Gift Card, available at Eatwith, from $27

Eatwith offers cool dining experiences that bring together delicious menus, professional chefs, and interesting guests. Typically held in person, in major cities like New York, Paris, and London, Eatwith is now offering online classes you can take from anywhere that bring unique cooking experiences right into your kitchen. In addition to experiences led by professional chefs from around the world, Eatwith has recently added classes taught by MasterChef contestants.

An ebook reader that's comfortable to read and hold Kindle without Ads, available at Amazon, $109.99

The glare-free display and adjustable screen light on Amazon's most affordable Kindle device makes reading anywhere an enjoyable experience. 

A pair of comfortable wool shoes Wool Runners, available at Allbirds, $95

While Allbirds has hinted that it's on track to become more than just a shoe brand, we'll always be partial to its original sneakers made from merino wool. We've been wearing and loving the comfortable style for more than two years, and you can't go wrong gifting a pair of these shoes. 

Coffee from a different country, delivered every month 3-Month Gift Subscription, available at Atlas Coffee Club, $53

It's a worldwide coffee tour without the expense of airplane tickets. Atlas Coffee Club delivers single origin coffee and always includes a postcard from the country, brewing tips, and flavor notes with each month's shipment. 

A small skincare tool that removes 99.5% of dirt, oil, and makeup residue Foreo Luna Facial Cleansing Brush, available at Amazon, $99 

Our team swears by these gentle yet effective cleaning brushes. They have hygienic silicone bristles and come in five different models for different skin types. The Luna is small enough to bring on the go, so your recipient can maintain their skincare routine no matter where they are.

A digital photo frame NIX 8-Inch USB Digital Photo Frame, available at Amazon, $59.99

Include a USB stick of your favorite photo memories together with this gift. The high-tech photo frame will shuffle through and display crisp photos and videos, and it can also be mounted on a wall. If you can stretch your budget, the more popular WiFi version is the same idea but more convenient to use because it works right from your phone's gallery. 

An easy-to-use trimmer Philips Norelco OneBlade Face + Body Trimmer, available on Amazon, $39.97

What separates the Philips Norelco OneBlade from other trimmers and shavers is the unique blade. It uses a fast-moving OneBlade cutter with a protection system on both sides of the blade to prevent knicks. The base of the blade will contour to his face, allowing for a comfortable shave or trim without irritation — and it works for wet or dry shaving.

Wireless headphones that boast a 25-hour battery life Sennheiser Bluetooth Wireless Headphones, available at Amazon, $104.99

A good pair of over-ear headphones is comfortable, delivers outstanding sound quality, and has a long battery life. Sennheiser's HD 4.40 model accomplishes all this for just $80. 

A convenient wireless charging pad Anker PowerWave Wireless Charging Pad, available on Amazon, $12.99

A wireless charger is a great gift for anyone with a glass-backed smartphone that supports the feature. Our reviewer called this one "the perfect wireless charging pad." It charges quickly, looks nice, and can even accommodate thick phone cases.

Membership to a popular nationwide book club 6-Month Subscription, available at Book of the Month, $89.99

If they prefer the incomparable feel of a hardcover book, set them up with a Book of the Month membership. It offers five curated titles, mainly from up-and-coming authors, to choose from every month. 

Access to their own personal travel concierge Gift Card, available at Journy, from $50

While travel concierge services have existed for years to help craft personalized experiences, they're prohibitively expensive and created with a luxury clientele in mind. Journy, on the other hand, is a personal travel planning service and mobile app that only costs $60 per day of the trip.

Usually Journy handles scheduling a complete itinerary for your trip, but with its staycation planning option, your recipient will also receive a curated guide of socially-distanced activities, local grocery stores and delivery options, and private accommodations at your destination. Journy specifically recommends hotels and activities that are COVID safe and keeps up-to-date guidance on all COVID-related policies. It also offers flexible cancelation and refund policies just in case you need to cancel or reschedule your trip.

*This gift can be saved and used at a later date if you aren't comfortable given the current conditions related to COVID-19.

A solution to their back pain Upright Go Original Posture Trainer and Corrector, available at Amazon, $79.95

This gift is for anyone who is always complaining about their back pain or poor posture. Upright Go is an innovative and discreet device that sticks to the top of their back and helps them improve their posture, day by day. 

A fan-favorite cookbook with original illustrations "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" by Samin Nosrat, available at Amazon, $19.91

This is the perfect cookbook for those just getting into cooking. Chef and New York Times columnist Samin Nosrat outlines the foundations of cooking and presents it in a fun, engaging way alongside original illustrations. 

Their favorite specialty meals, no matter where they are Meals, available at Goldbelly, from $26

Goldbelly makes it possible to satisfy their most specific and nostalgic cravings no matter where they live in the US — a cheesecake from Junior's, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati, and more. Browse the iconic gifts section for inspiration.

Smart bulbs to deck out their home with the best ambiance Philips Hue White Smart Light Bulb Starter Kit, available at Amazon, $89.99

Gift this to a friend who wants to equip a full room or apartment with smart lights. This kit includes four white bulbs, which you can control with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit, and a Philips Hue Bridge that connects them to your router. You can automate the bulbs with timers and schedules, and create gorgeous lighting effects. With the Philips Hue Sync feature, they can even sync up with the audio of your music, movies, or games.

A book about their favorite burger spot Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories, available at Amazon, $19.89

While this book doesn't contain the actual recipes for the burger or the famous sauce, it will get your burger-loving recipient pretty close to the real deal. They can make delicious burgers, fries, and shakes at home, then conduct the classic Shake Shack vs. In-n-Out comparison. 

A stylish accessory with a hidden charger Power Up Lightning to USB Tassel Keychain, available at Mark & Graham, from $44.99

The leather keychain is as functional as it is attractive: it has an iPhone lightning input and USB stick so they can charge their phone in their bag. Some colors include free monogramming while others have a $10 monogram fee. 

A reusable bag featuring a fun print Standard Baggu, available on Amazon, $12

There are plenty of reusable nylon shopping bag options out there, but where Baggu really stands out from the crowd is its variety of quirky and colorful prints. These useful bags are the perfect gift for everyone in your life.

A fun and educational online cooking class Gift Card, available at Cozymeal, from $50

Gifting experiences is on the rise. With a Cozymeal class, they'll learn how to make anything from fresh pasta to beautiful charcuterie boards. In addition to cooking classes, Cozymeal offers online mixology classes and virtual wine tastings.

A set of trackers for the absent-minded Tile Pro (2-Pack), available at Amazon, $54.99

When they can't find their phone, all they have to do is click their Tile button to make their phone ring, even if it's on silent. 

A smart way to add Google Assistant to any room Google Home Mini, available at Best Buy, $24.99

The convenience and utility of Google live in this small but mighty smart home device that lets them do everything from check their calendar to play music, all hands-free. 

A cooling weighted blanket YnM Bamboo Weighted Blanket, available at Amazon, $45.81

During chilly evenings, they'll appreciate the excuse to stay snuggled in bed all night long. The weighted blanket comes in many different sizes and weights and is made with a bamboo fabric that prevents them from overheating. 

An electric toothbrush that won't want to hide away Gold Electric Toothbrush, available at Goby, $80

In addition to its sleek design, the Goby Toothbrush stands out for its soft brush head, normal and sensitive brushing speeds, and convenient USB charging shell. 

Ready-to-prepare meals that save them time The 9-Item Gift Card, available at Daily Harvest, $75

Your recipient will be able to fill a box with smoothies (including protein smoothies for gym rats), harvest bowls, soup, and more meals that are ready to take on the go. Daily Harvest's healthy offerings are perfect for the busy, wellness-minded people in your life. 

A case that sanitizes dirty phones PhoneSoap Smartphone Sanitizer, available at PhoneSoap, $79.95

Most of us carry our phones with us everywhere — and we mean, everywherePhoneSoap kills 99.9% of common household germs, including bacteria that lead to E.Coli, Salmonella, Staph, the flu, and the common cold. Germaphobes will love knowing that their phones are squeaky clean. 

A fun, cult-favorite board game Settlers of Catan Board Game, available at Walmart, $43.88

The Settlers of Catan relies upon strategy and sometimes luck to build civilizations — and it can last for hours. 

A pretty leather wrap for taking chargers and cables on the go Leather Charger Roll Up, available on Mark & Graham, $49

Mark & Graham's Leather Charger Roll Up is made from soft, supple leather and has three separate pockets to stash cables and chargers on the go. Get it monogrammed for free.

A beautiful piece of handmade drinkware Antique Silver Glass, available at JFR Glass, $40

Each hand blown glass from JFR Glass is unique. The glasses aren't just pretty — they're also functional and sturdy. They're dishwasher-safe and UV-resistant, so your recipient can enjoy the pieces forever. 

A specialty beer-making kit Mr. Beer Premium Craft Making Kit, available at Amazon, $47.04

If they have dreams of one day being holed up in the garage making specialty beers, they're going to love this DIY kit. It includes everything they'll need to get started, including bottles.

The coziest moccasins we've ever worn Women's Wicked Good Moccasins, available at L.L.Bean, $79

Can you practically feel the soft fluffiness of these slippers through your screen? L.L.Bean supposedly sells a pair of these cushioned sheepskin shoes every seven seconds during December, proving that they are worth the purchase.

A delicious and unique hot sauce Truff White Truffle Hot Sauce, available at Amazon, $34.99

The limited-edition hot sauce is infused with white truffle, packing a sweet heat you'll want to add to burritos, pizza, wings, or any other dish you want to make a little more interesting. 

Membership to a huge outdoor co-op REI Membership, available at REI, $20

An REI membership offers a lifetime of benefits for a one-time purchase. That includes 10%-back dividends, special offers, access to in-store REI Garage sales, and special pricing on REI classes and events. Find out more here.

Extremely comfortable, flattering lounge pants MeUndies, Lounge Pants, available at MeUndies, $68

These are some of the best lounge pants we've ever tried. If they're spending more time in casual wear, they'll spend an inordinate amount of time in these. We also appreciate that the silky MicroModal and sleek cut make them perfectly acceptable for wearing in public to grab the mail.

A bike horn that can go as loud as a car Priority High Power Horn, available at Priority Bicycles, $29.99

Born out of a research project between Priority Bicycles and Toyota, this bike horn can get as loud as the one in a car. This is an excellent safety accessory for bikers.

A silky hand cream La Mer Hand Treatment, available at Nordstrom, $90

Of all La Mer's premium skincare products, the Hand Treatment is a brand favorite. This creamy formula is the perfect texture to help heal dry hands.

The internet's favorite olive oil Awake Olive Oil, available at Brightland, $49

Brightland's olive oils make great gifts for cooks and anyone who loves to entertain. The white bottles protect the EVOO from light damage and look nice displayed on a countertop. 

A cool and smooth pajama shirt Bamboo Lyocell Sleep Shirt, available at Ettitude, $70

Luxury sheets will break your budget, but the next best thing to get them a good night's sleep is this comfortable and attractive PJ shirt. It's made from organic bamboo lyocell, which is breathable and moisture-wicking, not to mention more sustainable to produce than traditional cotton. 

Premium distilled whiskey Uncle Nearest Whiskey, available at ReserveBar, starting at $49.99

Founded in Tennessee, Uncle Nearest is an award-winning, Black-owned whiskey brand that was inspired by the first known African-American master distiller, Nathan "Nearest" Green. If you're shopping for someone who enjoys a quality glass of whiskey or a whiskey-based cocktail every now and then, a bottle of Uncle Nearest won't disappoint.

A sleek knife block The Stand, available at Material Kitchen, $75

We're big fans of Material Kitchen's minimalist approach to kitchen essentials — like this magnetic, angled knife block made from heavy-duty wood. 

Soft and environmentally friendly socks made from hemp SoftHemp Sock, available at United by Blue, $16

The cozy socks are also sustainably made and made from a hemp yarn that's four times more durable than cotton, a win-win all around. 

A smart speaker with a decent display screen Echo Show 5, available at Amazon, $44.99

The Echo Show 5 is for tech enthusiasts who prefer a visual element to their smart speaker experience. It has a clock face and video calling capabilities, as well as the ability to show song lyrics, step-by-step recipes, and news highlights. 

A simple but luxurious body wash The Body Wash, available at Necessaire, $25

New startup Necessaire formulates its body care products with vitamins A, B3, C, E, and omega-6 and omega-9. The subtly scented Body Wash will leave their skin feeling clean, soft, and nourished. 

An indoor plant Blooming Energy Box, available at The Nice Plant, $44.99

Indoor plants are much more than an extra responsibility. They help purify the air, have been proven to reduce stress, and look good aesthetically. The Nice Plant's Blooming Energy Box includes a small plant and a few other useful things, like a sage smudge stick, palo santo bundle, and room spray, to make their home more peaceful and relaxing. 

A high-quality leather band for an Apple Watch Bullstrap Full-Grain Italian Leather Watch Band, available at Amazon, $89.95

Bullstrap's Italian Leather Watch Bands are the perfect way to add some elegance to an Apple Watch. They come in several colors of leather and are compatible with all generations of the Apple Watch.

A gorgeous coffee table book that helps cure their travel bug 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (Deluxe Edition): The World as You've Never Seen It Before, available at Amazon, $44.99

Patricia Schultz's original "1,000 Places" captured imaginations with its compelling curation of experiences all over the world. The newly released deluxe edition features a beautiful gold-embellished cover and more than 1,000 new photographs. 

A pair of sparkly hoops Sapphire Hoops, available at Mejuri, $60

Traditional hoops get an embellishment of white sapphire in this affordable piece from Mejuri

A set of monogrammed hand towels Stitched Edge Hand Towels, available at Weezie, $30

The extra time and thought put into a personalized gift are worth it. You can add custom embroidery (+$15 per towel) to Weezie's fluffy and absorbent towels

Premium underwear that's worth every penny Tommy John Men's Second Skin Boxer Brief 3-Pack, available at Tommy John, $108

It's not an exaggeration to say Tommy John could be the most comfortable boxers your recipient has ever worn. The Second Skin, in particular, is a standout — smooth, soft, stretchy, and breathable. 

A soft cashmere sweater that boasts a smaller carbon footprint The ReCashmere Crew, available at Everlane, $98

Wool, down, and shearling dominate cold-weather staples, but the list of warm and comfortable materials would be incomplete without cashmere. If you're looking for a less expensive iteration of the classic cashmere sweater, Everlane's ReCashmere is your best bet. Better yet, it's environmentally conscious and made with 60% recycled cashmere. 

A cool drink accessory worth celebrating BrüMate 12oz Insulated Champagne Flute, available at BrüMate, $22.99

Brumate's insulated flute prevents the disappointment of bubbly that has gone warm and flat. It holds almost half a bottle of champagne and comes in 30 pretty colors.  

A card case that fits just the essentials Albee Leather Zip Card Case, available at Italic, $30

Traveling light? The tiny leather card case fits five cards and a few bills so they don't have to lug around a bulky wallet. Italic works with manufacturers who produce for luxury designers, but you won't have to pay designer prices there. 

A whimsical candle from a new brand 3-Candle Set, available at Otherland, $89

As our candle-loving editor points out, "Does the world really need another fancy candle brand?" Otherland's candles are so creative and interesting that you won't be able to resist gifting at least a few

A travel-friendly vanity case Mini See All Vanity Case, available at Paravel, $65

They can stop using unsightly and wasteful Ziploc bags once they have this stylish and structured case in their possession. The exterior material is resistant to water and stains, and the clear window lets them easily identify the case's contents. 

A gold bracelet that displays their zodiac sign Zodiac Bracelet, available at Aurate, $90

The delicate gold vermeil bracelet is a piece they'll want to wear every day. Aurate's beautiful gold jewelry is not only more affordable than traditional fine jewelry, but it's also ethically sourced, representing a new wave of jewelry brands to know about. 

A mini duffel crossbody with a distinctive look Extra Small Landon Carryall, available at Dagne Dover, $95

Dagne Dover excels at making functional and versatile bags like work totes and this extra small version of its popular neoprene duffel. Inside, they'll find a compartment just large enough for the day's essentials, pockets to keep them organized, and a detachable key leash. 

A streaming stick that gives them access to more than 500,000 movies and TV episodes Roku Streaming Stick +, available at Amazon, $44.70

Roku's Streaming Stick+ is exceptional for its 4K, HDR, and HD streaming, and long-range wireless receiver. Installing it is an easy process and starts by plugging the stick into the TV. 

Sweet treats they won't be able to stop eating The Chocolatey Classic, available at Milk Bar, $72

Instead of the usual box of chocolates, gift some of the best-known and most delicious treats from NYC institution Milk Bar. The set contains 12 soft and chewy cake truffles, six assorted and an adorable mini birthday cake. 

Smart plugs that let them control their appliances with their phone Kasa Smart WiFi Plug (2-Pack), available at Amazon, $49.89

Through the corresponding app, they can schedule when their lights turn on and off, or use voice commands with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana. It's a suitable entry-level smart plug for someone looking to get into home automation. 

A sturdy phone case with a built-in kickstand Scooch Wingman iPhone Case, available at Amazon, $4.50

Scooch's rugged case incorporates a clever 3-in-1 design that gives them a grip, kickstand, or phone mount when they snap the back of the case. Instead of buying these accessories separately, simply gift them this useful all-in-one case. 

A box that lets them explore the exciting world of sake Sake Gift Box, available at Tippsy, $59

While online wine clubs abound, Tippsy is quietly cultivating a community of sake lovers. It offers an abundance of knowledge and premium sake options to anyone who's interested in exploring this underrated alcohol further.  

A compact and lightweight hand mixer Kitchenaid 5-Speed Ultra Power Hand Mixer, available at Target, $49.99

Not all baking tasks require a full stand mixer. KitchenAid's hand mixer doesn't take up a lot of space but gets a variety of jobs done by offering five-speed options. You'll also have fun picking out a unique color for your recipient. 

A game that tests their penchant for puns Pun Intended Game, available at Amazon, $24.99

It's a battle of who can devise the most clever puns in this family-friendly card game that requires a quick mind and even faster writing skills. Game on. 

A custom map of a special location Custom Map Poster, available at Grafomap, $49

Grafomap is the site where you can commemorate important places, be it their hometown, college town, or the city where you two met. The custom design function is easy to use and you can choose to get the final map poster framed or printed on canvas. 

A waterproof outdoor speaker Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Speaker, available at Amazon, $82.46

The surprisingly powerful speaker fits in the palm of their hand and can go swimming with them in the pool or ocean. It's also dustproof and therefore suitable for hikes and other outdoor adventures. 

A sleep mask made with high-quality mulberry silk Slip Slipsilk Sleep Mask, available at Nordstrom, $50

Few things are more luxurious than sleeping with a silk mask. Thanks to its all silk construction, your recipient's face will feel cool all night long. 

A plush bathrobe Classic Bathrobe, available at Parachute, $99

It's all too tempting to stay wrapped up in this Turkish cotton bathrobe long after they've stepped out of the shower. The thick robe is our pick for the best bathrobe you can buy

A chai sampler Vadham Chai Tea Reserve Set, available at Amazon, $34.99

This set of loose-leaf teas made it into Oprah's Favorite Things back in 2018. It's filled with three variations of chai that any tea lover will appreciate

A cult-favorite fragrance Le Labo AnOther 13 Eau de Parfum, available at Nordstrom, from $83

Le Labo is famous for its distinctive packaging and subtle yet inviting scents. The AnOther is musky and woodsy, but it's balanced out with ingredients like jasmine petals. 

The outdoor game you see everyone playing at the park Spikeball Game Set, available at Dick's Sporting Goods, $59.99

It's a gorgeous day out and you can't help but notice a few groups having fun while playing some kind of new ball game. Chances are it's Spikeball, the volleyball-esque game that your recipient can set up in any large outdoor space. It takes just 10 minutes to learn the rules. 

A pair of blue light-blocking glasses that look good enough to wear outside of the house Ingram Crystal Everscroll Glasses, available at MVMT, $75

Help them protect their eyes from harsh screens with a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses. Their eyes won't feel as strained, and they might be able to drift off to sleep more quickly. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best romantic hotels in the US for COVID-19 era newlyweds

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:01pm

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

The last several months have been hard on everyone, including brides and grooms. Wedding planning has required immense flexibility and patience, with many couples not knowing if they'd be able to continue with their wedding as planned or need to pivot or postpone last minute. However, despite the continuing pandemic, many couples have still tied the knot, or have plans to do so soon, in smaller, distanced, or private ceremonies. The next step is finding an appropriate and safe honeymoon destination to celebrate the momentous occasion.

There are already myriad requirements for honeymoon hotels and resorts: they should have a noteworthy, romantic atmosphere, as well as elevated amenities for newlyweds, plus options for excursions, memorable dinners, and time to relax, connect, and celebrate. In the pandemic age, however, requirements multiply.

While experts say that the safest vacation option is renting a private vacation home, honeymooners typically gravitate toward memorable resorts and hotels that befit such a once-in-a-lifetime occasion. However, not only do hotels need to be special enough to warrant a honeymoon trip, they also should have strict safety protocols in place, ideally with ample social distancing and - better yet - privacy. After all, while honeymoons are supposed to be remote and romantic by design, pandemic celebrations require even more distancing and seclusion for peace of mind. 

It's important to note that it's still not possible to guarantee safe travel, with many variables constantly shifting the landscape. As a result, following guidelines from the CDC, practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, hand washing, and checking local and state guidelines before travel is imperative. Travelers should also heed their personal risk level, as well as factors like whether they currently live in or are traveling to a state with elevated cases. 

We've selected top-rated romantic hotels in the US based on the following criteria:

  1. All hotels have exceptional offerings for honeymooners from Jacuzzi suites and wine tours to specific honeymoon packages.
  2. Every hotel is highly rated. Many properties have been personally vetted, while others are buzzed about and recommended by travelers we know and trust. We've also turned to reviews from trusted traveler sites such as Trip Advisor,, and
  3. While honeymoons are often thought of as a splurge, we considered a range of budgets so that price wouldn't be a barrier to an unforgettable stay. We have wallet-friendly options, as well as splurge stays, with rates between $134 and $899 per night to start.
  4. Each hotel has updated COVID-19 policies for safety, which we've noted below.
These are the best romantic hotels in the US for honeymooners, sorted by price from low to high. Woodcliff Hotel and Spa - Rochester, New York Book Woodcliff Hotel and Spa starting at $134 per night

On the outskirts of Rochester, New York, located among the rolling hills of the picturesque Finger Lakes region, the Woodcliff Hotel and Spa offers honeymooners a variety of romantic packages to choose from, all tailored. A popular wedding venue, the hotel features a 9-hole golf course with expansive views, two pools — one indoor and one outdoor — a sun deck, gazebo, and a spa offering massages and body treatments, as well as makeup, hair, and nail services.

Rooms start from $160 per night, including Jacuzzi Suites with small kitchenettes for couples who want extra privacy, a 55-inch LED HDTV, a mini-fridge and wet bar, Keurig coffeemaker, and a spacious Jacuzzi tub large enough for two to soak and unwind. Larger suites from $350 per night include the two-story, 850-square-foot Ontario Suite with views of the grounds, a spa tub big enough for two, and a balcony, close to the spa.

For an upgraded experience, the Once Upon a Vine Package starts from $665, including a night's stay, and comes with a chauffeured four-hour private wine tour of the Finger Lakes region, a picnic-inspired gift in a deluxe basket, insulated wine holder, bottled water, melamine or compostable disposable dining wear, and a large blanket that couples get to keep. Couples are also loaned a Polaroid with instant film to capture romantic moments. Once back at the hotel, honeymooners enjoy dinner for two at Horizons restaurant, followed by spa services at the Elan Spa the next day.

There's also a Spa Getaway package, for $385 including an overnight in a deluxe guest room for two, two 50 minute spa services, chocolate-covered strawberries or a cheese platter and wine amenity, plus breakfast for two.

But you don't have to opt for a pricier package to have a romantic stay. Couples can set off together on a nature hike or retreat to one of the Adirondack deck loungers overlooking the lush scenery. Those who wish to relax and get pampered together at the spa can book a side-by-side couple's massage for up to 100 minutes.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 1 out of 2 hotels in Fairport Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Pros: Beds are extremely comfortable and staff is friendly and attentive.

Cons: The fitness center is closed due to COVID. Some guests report thin walls.

COVID-19 status and policies: This hotel is open with new policies that include:

  • Upgraded individual ventilation systems.
  • All staff wearing masks at all times.
  • Enhanced cleaning regimens.
Alyeska Resort - Girdwood, Alaska Book Alyeska Resort starting at $169 per night

Set among Alaska's stunning Chuhagh Mountains only 40 miles from Anchorage, Alyeska Resort offers couples a memorable resort that perfectly walks the line between adventure and luxury. An all-weather destination open in both summer and winter, couples can choose between adrenaline-pumping activities include skiing, glacier hiking, dog sledding, and whitewater rafting. The hotel also offers a tramway with jaw-dropping views of the Turnagain Arm and seven glaciers.

Rooms at Alyeska feature a mountain-chic decor, with amenities including pillow-top mattresses, a heated towel rack, a mini-fridge, and coffee from beloved Alaskan-owned and operated Kaladi Brothers. Rooms on higher floors offer mountain views, while the 1,275-square-foot Royal Suite boasts a two-level parlor with floor-to-ceiling panoramic views, plus a marble bathroom complete with both shower and oversize tub for those truly seeking a once-in-a-lifetime stay.

Alyeska offers eight dining options, ranging from low-key burgers and sandwiches with a killer mountain and glacier view at Bore Tide Bar & Deli to Alaska halibut, white tablecloths, and a Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast award-winning list at Seven Glaciers. Couples can also enjoy the brand-new spa, opening imminently with an indoor-outdoor experience featuring Nordic-style hydrotherapy, plunge pools, barrel saunas, and tandem treatments available. Nearby attractions include Crow Creek Gold Mine, Portage Glacier and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. 

TripAdvisor Ranking: 1 out of 2 hotels in Girdwood Rating: 8.8 out of 10

Pros: For sheer majesty, it's hard to beat those Alaskan mountain views. High-quality ingredients make dining a notable experience.

Cons: The tram — a major highlight — is currently closed for maintenance and upgrades, although it reopens in December at limited capacity. Rooms are comfortable but a bit plain and not overtly luxurious.

COVID status and policies: This hotel is open with new policies in place that include:

  • Face masks worn inside all public spaces at all times.
  • Face masks required to ride the tram.
  • Our pool and fitness center are currently open to hotel guests only and hot tub and sauna are closed.
  • Retail stores will be limited to no more than 50 people.
  • The hotel is currently offering no cancellation fees up to 24 hours prior to your stay if you booked through, in person, or through the In-House Reservations team.
The Broadmoor - Colorado Springs, Colorado Book The Broadmoor starting at $205 per night

At the foothills of Colorado Springs' Cheyenne Mountain sits The Broadmoor, a more than 100-year-old property set on 5,000 acres and exceedingly popular as both a wedding and honeymoon spot. With two main buildings, several cottages, residences, brownstones, and three elevated glamping experiences to choose from, there's a level of accommodation to suit every type of couple. Guests can enjoy the great outdoors around The Broadmoor without ever feeling stifled or cramped. I've personally stayed at this award-winning hotel and recommend it without reservation.

The 784 accommodations on property are spread over The Broadmoor's sprawling campus. Entry-level rooms come with classically elegant European decor and are currently steeply discounted from their often pricey starting rates. Meanwhile four-story residential-style brownstones come equipped with full kitchens, private terraces, three-car garages, and even a wine cellar. Classic rooms are supremely comfortable, with views of the lake, mountain, or golf course, as well as Keurig coffee makers, plush robes and slippers, and heavenly bedding.

If you want to turn your stay into a splurge trip, romance packages are available including sparkling wine and chocolate-covered strawberries. For an extra splurge, spend the night at luxury wilderness micro-lodge Cloud Camp atop Cheyenne Mountain — another treat I've personally tested — from $875 per night all-inclusive of daily gourmet breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as alcohol, and activities like cooking classes, hiking, and archery.

Colorado's outdoorsy spirit is on full display at The Broadmoor, where guests can choose between a bevy of activities: fly fishing, rock climbing, golf, falconry, and more. There's a lakefront pool open in the summer, a year-round spa pool, and an outdoor, heated lap pool, as well as a destination spa with numerous couples treatments in a dedicated couple suite. Meanwhile, adrenaline junkies can zipline across South Cheyenne Canyon, ride horses in the shadow of Pikes Peak, or hike the scenic Seven Falls waterfall, while lovers of the finer things can dine at Penrose Room, Colorado's sole Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond restaurant.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 4 out of 13 hotels in Colorado Springs Rating: 9.4 out of 10

Pros: The hotel oozes romance at every turn, from quiet, wood-paneled libraries to a cozy speakeasy-esque bar to benches dotted around the lake, perfect for moments of bonding and reflection.

Cons: The 11,000 square-foot infinity pool (plus waterslides!) is a fun draw, but is closed during the winter. Though opportunities for privacy are ample, the hotel is extremely popular and not secluded unless you're springing extra for a remote mountaintop retreat at Cloud Camp.

COVID status and policies: This hotel is currently open with new policies that include:

  • Use of the most recent CDC, state, and federal guidelines as the roadmap for constant reevaluation of all operational protocols.
  • Use of high standards of sanitation by utilizing professional products and tools by EcoLab.
  • Electrostatic sprayers used to apply Penetrexx, an antimicrobial coating, to high touch areas and fabrics at the property.
  • Employee training contains defined and updated personal hygiene expectations and standards. 
  • Guest area hand sanitizing stations will be made available.
  • Appropriate signage will be present throughout the property reminding guests and staff of required social distancing based on each area.
  • Interactive guest texting is available via your personal mobile device.
Hotel del Coronado - San Diego, California Book Hotel del Coronado starting at $229 per night

San Diego's beloved Hotel del Coronado has welcomed guests to sunny Coronado Island for more than 130 years. A favorite retreat for celebrities and the setting for the Marilyn Monroe classic "Some Like It Hot," The Del, as it's known, has benefitted from a top to bottom renovation. The 28-acre Victorian-era resort feels modern without sacrificing its bygone charm. I've visited the Del many times over three decades and still feel a thrill each time we cross the Coronado Bridge and catch a glimpse of its iconic red roof. It's now a member of the Curio Collection by Hilton and has a lively, beachy atmosphere.

The Del offers couples a variety of rooms, suites, cottages, and villas, spread between its oceanview main lodge and the newer beachfront area Beach Village at The Del. Rooms in the Victorian building maintain their original character and charm, with a limited number featuring balconies. Couples looking for more privacy or traditional luxury can splurge on an upgrade to one of the cottages at the gated Beach Village from $1,200 per night. While undeniably pricey, each includes a kitchen, living room, fireplace, private patio or balcony and personal concierge, in addition to perks like complimentary beach chairs and umbrellas and private pools for Beach Village guests.

Honeymooners can enjoy open-air dining at one of seven bar and restaurant options, including sustainable fresh seafood at outdoor Serẽa. For those who want to relax with a book and a cocktail, guests can rent a day bed, half moon cabanette, or beach umbrella along Del Beach, or experience a couples' treatment at the redesigned spa. And, of course, the oceanfront location means ample excuses for sunset walks by the crashing waves or al fresco drinks and dessert at one of the beach firepits. Downtown San Diego, the Marina, and the Gaslamp Quarter are just across the narrow bay, quickly accessible by car or ferry.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 14 out of 17 hotels in Coronado Rating: 7.2 out of 10

Pros: The location on one of America's best beaches is a huge plus — and a rarity in San Diego proper. Guests could happily spend all their time on the property, but the resort's easy proximity to San Diego widens its already considerable appeal.

Cons: The historic resort is at the tail end of a renovation in parts of The Views and Victorian building areas, making it important to check with the front desk before committing to a room. In-room dining is currently not offered and, at the moment, Windsor Cottage is closed.

COVID status and policies: This hotel is currently open. As part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, it follows the Hilton CleanStay with Lysol protocols, including:

  • Guestroom door seals to indicate no one has entered since the room was thoroughly cleaned.
  • Removal of excess in-room amenities, guest-accessible hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes throughout the resort.
  • Contactless check-in/check-out available.
  • Face coverings are required for all team members and guests in public areas with the exception of outdoor areas while maintaining a six-foot distance from others. Disposable masks are available at the front desk.
  • Team members are also screened daily for symptoms and receive temperature checks before reporting to work.
  • Per state mandate, face coverings are required for all guests in public areas of the resort. 
  • Check-in for both Hotel del Coronado and Beach Village at The Del is currently located in the Garden Patio.
The Wauwinet - Nantucket, Massachuessettes Book The Wauwinet starting at $270 per night

On the far edge of Nantucket, The Wauwinet is an impossibly romantic and quaint adults-only Relais & Châteaux property set on the location of an inn originally dating from 1875. Nestled between Nantucket Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the remote 33-room hotel is small, but packs an undeniably luxurious punch. The Wauwinet is secluded enough to truly unplug and get even closer as a couple. I personally stayed here on our babymoon and found it to be like a glamorous friend's over-the-top vacation home.

The Wauwinet's elegant, candlelit restaurant, Topper's, features New England coastal cuisine tailor-made for special occasions: think lobster, elevated crab cakes, yellowtail crudo, and oysters so fresh they're harvested a mere 300 yards away. The restaurant is a Wine Spectator Grand Award recipient with more than 1,400 vintages. While the indoor portion of the restaurant is open, there's also a large covered outdoor patio, plus room service available. 

Each of the 32 rooms within the main lodge are so delightfully cozy and adorably preppy that you'd be forgiven for wanting to burrow under the 400-thread-count Pratesi sheets all day. Rooms feature Queen-sized beds, plush robes, and welcome touches like fresh local wildflowers and personalized stationery, as well as HD flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Some rooms have garden views, while others have views of Nantucket Bay. There are also four private cottages available around the back of the property for even more seclusion, with a living room and fireplace.

While guests have the option of taking transportation to The Wauwinet's in-town sister property the White Elephant for a couple's spa day, in-room treatments can also be arranged. The two private beaches are the undeniable stars at the hotel, but when not sunning or swimming, guests can also get their competitive juices flowing over tennis, take one of the free bicycles to ride ACK's picturesque back streets, choose from fishing, kayaking or sailing, or make like a local and partake in lobstering or oystering. And, at the end of a long day, unwind in the Adirondack chairs on the sweeping lawn, or roast s'mores by a beachfront firepit.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 8 out of 13 hotels in Nantucket Rating: 9.4 out of 10

Pros: The hotel is luxurious, artfully decorated, and includes excellent guest services. There's also a free shuttle to take guests into town.

Cons: Because of its Nantucket location, The Wauwinet is only open half the year, from April to October.

COVID status and policies: This hotel is currently accepting reservations for next season with new policies that include:

  • Requiring temperature checks for each team member before each shift using a non-contact thermometer.
  • Safety glass partitions will be installed at the reception areas.
  • Every room will be thoroughly cleaned between guests using foggers and sanitizing solutions.
  • All rooms have been reviewed for items that cannot be sanitized – those items have been removed or replaced.
  • High-touch surfaces in public spaces will be disinfected every hour.
  • There will be tissue stations by every door so guests will not have to touch handles, as well as hand sanitation units in all high-traffic areas.
Baker's Cay Resort - Key Largo, Florida Book Baker's Cay Resort starting at $289 per night

A stylish tropical destination in the Florida Keys, it's easy to forget you're still in the continental US when at Baker's Cay Resort. A 15-acre property with serious Caribbean vibes, Baker's Cay is a perennial honeymoon favorite thanks to sandy beaches, a nature sanctuary, and the option for scuba diving. While Baker's Cay might run on laid-back island time, there's no shortage of activities to keep you busy. Honeymooners can bond over Paint and Sip, get their adrenaline pumping with parasailing or jetskiing, take a day trip to Key West in a seaplane, or toast each other during a sunset cruise through the bay.

Rooms are airy, with coastal modern decor, oceanfront or lush greenery views, private balconies, and separate sitting areas. They also include blackout curtains and air conditioning for an extra comfortable night's sleep. Meanwhile, bathrooms have a stylish design wall, large sinks, and feature Lather bath products and eco-conscious bath amenities infused with locally sourced Keez Beez honey.

Honeymooners can book the three-night Bubbles & Love package, starting from $275 per night, including room, bubbly welcome drink, private sunset table per two overlooking the pier, plus a bottle of bubbles, and a $50 resort credit. Couples can also arrange a beachfront table with a private server, bottle of bubbly, and four-course dinner, or a one-hour couples photo session. 

TripAdvisor Ranking: 5 out of 21 hotels in Key Largo Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Pros: With crystal clear waters, tropical weather, and gorgeous views, it's not hard to pretend that you're in the Caribbean. While the pool is on the smaller side, it's usually not crowded, and the waterfall and lush greenery surrounding it make for a relaxing atmosphere.  

Cons: Though the $38 daily resort fee isn't cheap, it includes a host of amenities, including beach chairs, bikes, umbrellas, hammocks, fishing rods, paddleboards, and more. The manmade beach area is small and can feel cramped at times.

COVID status and policies: This hotel is currently open with new policies, including:

  • Face coverings required inside all buildings and outside when unable to maintain a six-foot distance.
  • Housekeeping is conducted between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and guests are asked to be out of the room, or to let the front desk know of a better time. Do Not Disturb requests are honored.
  • Towels and other items are available upon request at any time.
  • Sanitizing stations have been placed throughout the resort for use.
  • Resort amenities such as arts and crafts, pool games, bikes, activities, and sunset toasts all occur within new parameters of physical distancing as well as disinfection processes.
  • Hilton Cleanstay provides a room seal to indicate that guest rooms have not been accessed since they were cleaned.
  • Contactless check-in and check-out is available with digital key.
Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee - Lake Oconee, Georgia Book Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee starting at $359 per night

For those seeking a property that artfully strikes the balance between rustic and luxurious, there's the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee. Located roughly equidistant between Atlanta, Augusta, and Macon, the property is in Georgia's picturesque Lake Country, a favorite weekend retreat with no shortage of outdoorsy things to do.

Rooms overlook either Lake Oconee or the gardens, each with a private balcony or patio, sweeping views, and elegant marble-trimmed bathrooms with Asprey bath amenities, plush robes and slippers, spacious marble baths with separate rain showers, and double sinks. Couples seeking extra privacy can spring for a lake house or cottage, each with a kitchen, wrap-around porch, fireplace, and living room. Suites, meanwhile, offer sitting and living areas, as well as a separate powder room. Every room has the option of upgrading to Club Level Access, which includes a dedicated concierge, breakfast, lunch, and hors d'oeuvres throughout the day, plus complimentary alcohol.

Romantic dining à deux is available and couples can arrange a relaxing private dining experience by the lake, with a three-course meal and wine selection on Adirondack chairs by a personal bonfire, among other experiences. However, the restaurants on offer are just as appealing. Dining includes coastal fare at Gaby's by the Lake, Linger Longer steakhouse with views of the golf course, and regional Southern dishes with local ingredients at Georgia's. For a nightcap, couples can toast each other in the Barrel Room, which features the Southeast's largest custom selection of personalized barrels of whiskey and bourbon.

Active couples will feel right at home. Highlights include an infinity pool overlooking the lake, access to five championship golf courses, the Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds including fishing, archery, and clay shooting, and activities ranging from kayaking and standup paddleboarding in the summer to ice skating and nightly roasted s'mores in the winter. There's also a 27,000 square foot spa, including a room dedicated to couples' treatments, complete with a soaking tub.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 1 out of 4 hotels in Greensboro Rating: 9.2 out of 10

Pros: The resort's Southern charm combined with classic Ritz-Carlton elegance makes even entry-level rooms memorable and luxurious.

Cons: The hotel charges a nightly resort fee, though it does include amenities such as Wi-Fi and activities such as paddleboarding.

COVID status and policies: This hotel is open and as a Marriott following the brand's new policies that include:

  • All guests (ages 2 and older) must wear masks in indoor public areas of the hotel.
  • For the indoor restaurants and Club Lounge specifically, face masks may only be removed when eating or drinking.
  • Mobile Key, eFolio delivery, and mobile requests via the Marriott Bonvoy app are available.
  • Front desk, bell desk, and concierge desk all equipped with plexiglass panels at counters.
  • Reduced occupancy levels to accommodate social distancing requirements.
  • Arrival queues throughout resort clearly marked for appropriate social distancing.
  • Seating in restaurants, lounges, pools and beach are spaced apart in accordance with state laws.
  • Housekeeping services will be performed when the guests are not present in the room.
  • In all restaurants, tables, chairs, and service equipment are sanitized after each use and at regular intervals.
The Grand Hotel - Mackinac Island, Michigan Book The Grand Hotel starting at $360 per night

Famous as the uber-romantic hotel from the classic film "Somewhere in Time," Mackinac Island's Victorian resort The Grand Hotel calls to mind days gone by. That's largely due to the fact that it dates back to 1887. The grand dame resort holds court on Michigan's Mackinac Island, a timeless place where cars are banned and bicycles and horse-drawn carriages abound. The Grand is the type of hotel where guests lounge with drinks on rockers dotting the iconic front porch (the world's longest), which features stunning views of the Straits of Mackinac.

With 397 rooms, incredibly, no two are alike. Each is uniquely decorated by Carleton Varney of Dorothy Draper & Co, who has also styled the White House. Many rooms have lake views, while others overlook the Straits of Mackinac or the 18-hole golf course. Bathrooms are equally eclectic, with an undeniably original character of their own, and some even feature deep soaking tubss.  

Newlyweds can book a 3-night Honeymoon and Anniversary Package complete with fresh-cut flowers from the hotel's Margaret's Garden, a champagne basket, and the resort's beloved freshly-made fudge. Other package highlights include a private hourlong horse-drawn carriage ride, fine dining, and afternoon tea in the hotel's parlor. Returning guests receive 10% off of their next stay in case you want to make it an annual anniversary stay.

Bikes are popular because of the island's lack of cars, while other activities include lawn games like bocce and croquet. Couples have no shortage of dining options with 14 on-site bars and restaurants, including a Victorian ice cream parlor and a restaurant housed in a Tudor mansion.

The elegant hotel has made a tradition of dressing up for dinner. The Main Dining Room, there's a dress code after 6:30 p.m. including coat, tie, and slacks for men and dress, skirt, or pantsuit for women. And in keeping with the hotel's historic feel, the 220-foot pool is named after old Hollywood star Esther Williams.

Note: The next available bookings for this hotel are not until May 2021.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 7 out of 12 hotels in Mackinac Island

Kayak Rating: 9.4 out of 10

Pros: Couples who seek a sense of place and occasion will adore The Grand Hotel's tradition of dressing up for dinner and the resort's timeless, romantic feel. No tipping is required.

Cons: As an older resort, walls can be thin and some rooms are slightly dated. The hotel is only open half of the year and is closed for most of the winter and spring.

COVID status and policies: This hotel is currently accepting reservations for next season. New policies include:

  • The Main Dining Room and other restaurants will observe new maximum capacities, as well as utilizing disposable menus. Mandatory face masks for bartenders and servers will be required.
  • All on-property hotel staff are undergoing COVID-19 training and will be screened daily with a temperature check and a short questionnaire. 
  • There is a Michigan state-mandated order that requires all to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor spaces. 
  • The hotel implemented enhanced sanitization protocols across the hotel, developed with guidance provided by local health authorities, the CDC, AHLA Safe Stay guidelines, and other governmental agencies.
  • Some activities and amenities have been suspended including carriages, in-room movies, sauna, and children's programs.
Terranea - Rancho Palos Verdes, California Book Terranea starting at $406 per night

Set on 102 acres of prime real estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Terranea feels like the French or Italian Riviera, but is less than an hour from downtown Los Angeles. The resort is enormous, yet manages to feel intimate thanks to its wide variety of outdoor activities, as well as accommodations well-spaced throughout the property. I've visited many times and frequently recommend this resort to Southern California friends looking for a memorable vacation within LA's city limits.

While Terranea offers scores of private casitas, bungalows, and villas, honeymooners looking for a bargain will still love the comfortable, elegant rooms in the resort's spacious main building. Rooms are large and airy, featuring balconies or patios with coastline views as well as flatscreen TVs and iPod docking stations. Bathrooms include robes and feature L'Occitane bath amenities.

Dining is of paramount importance — it's Southern California, after all — and the hotel delivers with nine restaurants and bars, ranging from casual poolside fare to upscale fine dining options. In-room dining remains open if couples would prefer to eat on their patio or terrace.

Fun is the name of the game at Terranea, where active couples are spoiled for choice. Offerings include golf at the nine-hole oceanfront course, horseback riding, tennis, falconry, boat excursions, open-air painting, Lexus test driving, seaside yoga, kayaking, whale watching, tide pooling, surfing, and more.

Relaxation is on the menu, too. Terranea has four heated pools, including an adults-only offering and a 140-foot waterslide at the main pool. (Sadly, however, the popular waterslide is closed due to COVID.) There's also a whopping 50,000 square foot spa, still open, though with a limited menu.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 1 out of 2 hotels in Palos Verdes Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Pros: Regardless of the room category, nearly every accommodation at Terranea provides some sort of gorgeous beach view. Dining focuses heavily on fresh, local ingredients and sustainable practices, meaning even the casual eateries feature delicious fare, while the higher-end restaurants are extremely memorable.

Cons: While the enormous and well-equipped spa is usually a draw, due to COVID many amenities are closed, including locker rooms, saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, cold plunges, the fitness center, and the salon. The $40 nightly resort fee is expensive, though it does cover enough amenities to feel worth it.

COVID status and policies: This hotel is open with new policies that include:

  • Housekeeping services have been placed on hold, but the will provide additional items if requested. 
  • The resort is a smoke-free and cashless property.
  • The Resort Pool, cielo point, The Spa Pool, and Vista Pool are open with physical spacing and monitoring. The water slide, hot tubs, and splash pad are currently closed due to LA County regulations.
  • The Links golf course is open for advanced tee times. At this time, rental clubs, all practice and putting greens, including golf studios, and complimentary golf Q&A are currently unavailable.
  • At this time, spa amenities remain temporarily closed; select 60-minute treatments at The Spa at Terranea are available for overnight resort guests only, with limited availability and reservations required. 
Topnotch Resort - Stowe, Vermont Book Topnotch Resort Homes starting at $450 per night

Winter newlyweds should consider Topnotch Resort, a 120-acre property nestled in the picturesque village of Stowe, Vermont. The property is within easy access of numerous ski resorts, including Stowe itself. Topnotch exudes sophistication and warmth, making it an idyllic pick for honeymooners seeking an, ahem, top-notch destination that befits the name.

While entry-level rooms start from $194 per night, they don't offer much romance. It's the spacious suites and Resort Homes starting at $450 that offer honeymoon-worthy stays. Resort Homes have multiple bedrooms for spreading out, kitchens and living rooms, as well as fireplaces and decks or backyards for added privacy.  Homes also have free Wi-Fi, bathrobes, and shuttle service to the main hotel building available on-demand, as well as access to the resort's amenities such as pool and spa. 

Speaking of the spa, it's destination-worthy in its own right, with services including side-by-side massages, and amenities like a co-ed sauna, an indoor pool and hot tub complete with waterfall, and an outdoor heated pool for adults. Other highlights at the resort itself include a tennis center with tennis and pickleball courts, an equestrian center that offers romantic carriage and sleigh rides, as well as dog sledding, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. The Roost restaurant features local cheeses, bounty from nearby farmers, and organic, hormone-free ingredients whenever possible.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 8 out of 25 hotels in Stowe Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Pros: Despite COVID, the service and staff remain stellar.

Cons: Though guests can normally choose between two restaurants, one — Flannel — is currently closed, although some of its dishes are on the menu at The Roost. Hot tubs are currently closed.

COVID status and policies: This hotel is currently open with new policies that include:

  • Guest rooms and public areas are cleaned using industry-leading cleaning and disinfecting protocols provided by ECOLAB. 
  • The frequency of cleaning and disinfecting has been increased in all public spaces with an emphasis on frequent contact surfaces.
  • Rooms are sealed with a sanitation label. All in-room disposable amenities are available on request. 
  • Any area where guests or team members queue will be clearly marked for appropriate physical distancing. 
  • Restaurants and bars will reduce seating capacities to allow for a minimum of six feet between each seated group of guests traveling together.
Four Seasons Maui - Maui, Hawaii Book Four Seasons Maui starting at $697 per night

Located on Maui's sandy, sublime Wailea Beach, the Four Seasons Resort Maui is almost tailor-made for honeymooners. The experience begins from the moment you check-in, with a lei, tropical welcome drink, and aromatherapy towel, immediately setting the tone for paradise. Couples can while away sun-soaked days in the adults-only Serenity Pool before partaking in complimentary amenities such as chilled pineapple bites and Evian spritzes.

If sunning poolside is preferred, there are eight cabanas to choose from and three pools. There's no worrying about waking up at the crack of dawn to ferociously claim a chair. The resort offers a whopping 81 ocean- and pool-facing cabanas, all complimentary, while down by the sand, the beach concierge will set up chaise lounges and umbrellas for oceanfront relaxing.

I've stayed here before and was thoroughly impressed with the resort's attention to detail and friendly service. And though Four Seasons Maui is supremely luxurious, it never feels ostentatious or try-hard. Even the entry-level rooms are quietly sublime, with perks like your own balcony or terrace in addition to 600 square feet of space. Each room includes a refrigerator and Nespresso machine, soaking tub, separate walk-in shower, 65-inch TV with Chromecast streaming, and plush Four Seasons bedding.

Dining options are plentiful, ranging from romantic al fresco oceanfront dining at Ferraro's Bar e Ristorante to the see-and-be-seen Spago by Wolfgang Puck for a meal you'll never forget. There's also the option of a romantic Ultimate Dinner, where a chef creates a specialized multi-course menu served at a private table overlooking the ocean, or lower-key drinks and sushi in the oceanview Lobby Lounge.

With Maui as a playground, the resort is never short on activities. Couples can enjoy snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, whale watching, canoeing, surfing, and scuba diving, among many other memorable excursions. There's also a spa with al fresco treatments and guided meditations. And for honeymooners looking to make picture-perfect memories, so-called Unforgettable Experiences are available like candle-lit private pool time at night. The resort is located within the larger Wailea complex, close to both Wailea Golf Club and The Shops at Wailea.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 2 out of 9 hotels in Wailea Rating: 9.3 out of 10

Pros: Prime oceanfront location on arguably Maui's best beach, plus numerous dining options. Even entry-level rooms are overtly luxurious.

Cons: Though extremely romantic with adult-only areas, the resort is also very family-friendly, which may be a con to some honeymooners.

COVID status and policies: This hotel just reopened with new policies in line with Four Seasons 'Lead with Care' initiative that include:

  • New screening procedures that may include temperature checking as well as a series of questions regarding health and recent travel.
  • Out-of-state visitors must present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result upon arrival in Hawaii and at the Resort.
  • All employees and guests over the age of 9 must wear masks.
Read our full hotel review of the Four Seasons Maui The Lodge at Woodloch - Hawley, Pennsylvania Book The Lodge at Woodloch starting at $768 per night, per couple, all-inclusive

Recentering and reconnecting is the north star of Pennsylvania's destination spa resort The Lodge at Woodloch. Located in Northeast Pennsylvania's famed Pocono Mountains, the resort is an elegant, adults-only property 95 miles from both New York City and Philadelphia. Despite the high price, the resort offers excellent value. All stays are inclusive of three gourmet meals per day, plus a long list of classes and activities ranging from fitness and wellness classes to art and cooking. 

Each of the 58 rooms and suites has a luxurious, warm feel, full of wooden accents and elegant, muted colors. Bathrooms are large, featuring marble walk-in showers, robes and slippers, and double sinks, while rooms boast restorative views of the gardens, private lake, or rock garden waterfall from private verandas. Packages are available to add to room rates, such as the Romance Package including a bottle of red wine, two Riedel wine glasses to keep, sweet treats made by the chef, fresh flowers, a couple's yoga book, and body lotion.

Dining features organic and locally-grown ingredients at farm-fresh Tree Restaurant and Bar for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as chef-led garden dinners including wine pairing, with this perk for diners. The resort offers popular activities including golf, tennis, yoga, wine tasting, and biking. But there are also more eclectic offerings on tap for couples who want to get off the metaphorical beaten path, such as archery, disc golf, geocaching, a sunrise photography walk, kombucha tasting, forest bathing, full moon walks, and fire making. For those seeking a more unique honeymoon that's still luxurious, The Lodge at Woodloch is sure to hit the mark.

Pros: No cash is needed, as tipping is included. Unlike many spa resorts, activities are truly all-inclusive.

Cons: Couples hoping to bring their furry friends with them aren't allowed, as it's a pet-free property.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 1 out of 7 hotels in Hawley Rating: 9.7 out of 10

COVID status and policies: This hotel is open with new policies that include:

  • As guided by OSHA, all staff will wear masks during their time on property and will have their temperature checked upon arriving to work each day.   
  • Guests will have their temperature taken on arrival and masks are required in all public indoor locations and any outdoor location where social distancing cannot be maintained. 
  • Existing and enhanced housekeeping procedures for cleanliness and sanitization (including EPA-approved disinfectant) that meet and exceed industry best practices and standards have been instituted on a heightened schedule.
  • Additional hand sanitizing stations have been placed in common areas throughout the property.
Montage Deer Valley - Deer Valley, Utah Book Montage Deer Valley starting at $899 per night

Set amid the craggy mountains of Utah's breathtaking Deer Valley, Montage Deer Valley is a ski-in/ski-out resort for ski couples hoping to catch arguably some of the best, fluffiest powder in the country. Though the Montage Deer Valley is open year-round and provides equally spectacular views and amenities during the spring, summer, and fall, the stately resort really shines during ski season. Last time I visited, the resort was covered in a thick blanket of snow, turning the entire property into a postcard-perfect scene.

Memorable activities are endless and begging to be photographed and framed from dog sledding and bobsledding to snuggling underneath thick blankets during a horse-drawn carriage ride. And, of course, skiing and snowboarding are available on the slopes with the lifts literally feet away.

Montage resorts are particularly known for their service and attention to detail, and this hotel is no exception. Entry-level Kings have views of the resort or the mountain, with a gas fireplace in the sitting area, wood-paneling, elegant furnishings, and bedding so soft you'll have to scrape yourself out of the covers. Marble bathrooms feature a separate walk-in shower and soaking tub, and every room enjoys a private balcony or patio from which to enjoy the crisp mountain air.

Honeymooners can unwind in Montage's massive 35,000-square-foot destination spa with both separate men's and women's areas and a co-ed relaxation area and pool. In addition to the hydrotherapy, Vichy, Thai, and therapy treatment rooms, there's also a couple's serenity suite featuring two copper tubs and a mountain view for relaxation treatments together.

There are seven restaurants ranging from fine dining with tablecloths to surprisingly fantastic sushi to an après-ski yurt to a pub complete with a bowling alley. And, of course, couples can also order room service or arrange private dining at one of the resort's awe-inspiring vistas.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 8 out of 59 hotels in Park City Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Pros: Numerous high-quality restaurants, and an endless array of activities no matter the weather or season. Wi-Fi is free and every room boasts a balcony with killer views.

Cons: Though the resort is limited to 50% capacity because of COVID, it is popular and therefore frequently booked to that updated limit.

COVID status and policies: This hotel is open with new policies that include:

  • Enhanced focus on overall cleanliness and hygiene, including increased frequencies of sanitization and deep cleaning for high-touch areas.
  • Integration of the latest cleanliness technologies including the use of electrostatic sprayers, UV wands and devices, and particulate level air filtration systems.
  • Complimentary guest access to ONE MEDICAL and their award-winning combination of cutting edge technology and healthcare providers, allowing seamless virtual care while away from home.
  • Complimentary hand sanitizer and facial coverings provided to all guests.
  • Encouraged use of email and text for all guest transactions where appropriate, including check-out.
  • Housekeeping services can be declined by guests during stay or staggered, based on guest preference.
Read the original article on Business Insider

Donald Trump's historic and chaotic presidency, by the numbers

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:58pm
  • Former President Donald Trump has been among the most controversial occupants of the White House in US history. 
  • Trump's one-term presidency will have an enduring impact on the US. 
  • Looking at the numbers surrounding Trump's tenure provides important context and perspective.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Former President Donald Trump's presidency came to a close on January 20, 2021 after President Joe Biden's small and heavily-fortified inauguration at the US Capitol.

Trump's tenure was tumultuous and historic. He's one of just three presidents to be impeached, the first to ever get impeached twice, and is the first commander-in-chief in nearly three decades to not win reelection.

He left the White House in disgrace after inciting a violent insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, ultimately leading to the first bipartisan impeachment in the House of Representatives.

Historians and political scientists will be analyzing and discussing Trump's presidency for years to come. 

Though numbers and data don't offer a full picture of a president's legacy, they can provide perspective and serve as a useful reference point in terms of what a president has accomplished.

Below are many of the defining numbers from Trump's presidency. It's not an exhaustive list, but does capture much of what took place during his tenure. 

Trump's presidency - by the numbers:

Popular votes in 2016: 62,985,106 (45.9%)

Electoral votes in 2016: 306 (but 304 ultimately voted for him)

Popular votes in 2020: 74,222,957 (46.8%)

Electoral votes in 2020: 232

Bills signed: 786

Vetoes: 9

Vetoes overridden: 1

Executive orders: 212

Pardons: 144

Commutations: 94

Federal judges confirmed: 233 

Supreme Court justices confirmed: 3

House impeachments: 2

News conferences (up to November): 88

Average number of news conferences per year: 22.96

Average unemployment rate (2017): 4.35%

Average unemployment rate (2018): 3.89%

Average unemployment rate (2019): 3.67%

Average unemployment rate (2020 - up to November): 8.20%

Average GDP (2017-2019): $20.498 trillion

2017 deficit: $666 billion

2018 deficit: $779 billion

2019 deficit: $984 billion

2020 deficit: $3.13 trillion

Reported COVID-19 cases: Over 24.3 million

Reported COVID-19 deaths: 404,284

Indoor rallies held during the pandemic (declared on March 11): 3

Estimated number of migrant children separated from their parents: 5,400

Refugee resettlement cap (fiscal year 2018): 45,000

Refugee resettlement cap (fiscal year 2019): 30,000

Refugee resettlement cap (fiscal year 2020): 18,000

Refugee resettlement cap (fiscal year 2021): 15,000 (a historic low)

Federal executions: 13

Sentenced prisoners per 100,000 US residents (2017): 440

Sentenced prisoners per 100,000 US residents (2018): 431

Sentenced prisoners per 100,000 US residents (2019): 419

US military spending (2017): $610 billion

US military spending (2018): $649 billion

US military spending (2019): $732 billion

Countries visited: 26

Trips abroad: 32

Estimated number of days Trump spent at his properties as president: 432

Estimated number of days Trump visited a golf course while president: 321

Amount Trump properties raked in via taxpayers and the president's supporters: At least $8.1 million

False claims (as of 9/11/20): 23,035

Cabinet departures: 14

Tweets (not including retweets) as president: 16,590

Tweets (including retweets) as president: 26,245

Note: Trump's Twitter account was permanently suspended on January 8, 2021

Unless otherwise noted, the above numbers are as of January 20, 2021. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Photos show residents of the Indian village where Kamala Harris' grandfather was born celebrating her swearing in as vice president

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:56pm
A child reacts as villagers hold placards featuring Vice President-elect Kamala Harris after participating in special prayers ahead of her inauguration, outside a Hindu temple in Thulasendrapuram.
  • Kamala Harris took an oath of office on Wednesday to become the vice president of the United States.
  • The ceremony thrilled residents in the Indian village of Thulasendrapuram, where Harris' grandfather was born.
  • The village celebrated her swearing in with flowers, firecrackers, and prayers. 
  • Photos of the events in Thulasendrapuram show people holding signs displaying Harris and distributing sweets as a religious offering. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

THULASENDRAPURAM, India (AP) - Residents of a tiny Indian village surrounded by rice paddies flocked to a Hindu temple, setting off firecrackers and praying and as they watched Kamala Harris, who has strong roots to the village, take her oath of office and become the US vice president on Wednesday.

Groups of women in bright saris and men wearing white dhoti pants watched the inauguration live as reporters broadcast the villager's celebrations to millions of Indians.

The villagers chanted "Long live Kamala Harris" while holding portraits of her and blasted off fireworks the moment she took the oath.

Earlier, the villages adorned their temple with flowers, offering special prayers for Harris' success.

Her maternal grandfather was born in the village of Thulasendrapuram, about 350 kilometers (215 miles) from the southern coastal city of Chennai.

"We are feeling very proud that an Indian is being elected as the vice president of America," said teacher Anukampa Madhavasimhan.

Village women ride past a banner featuring Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in Thulasendrapuram. Indian artist Aejaz Saiyed gives a finishing touch to an art work featuring President-elect Joe Biden, Harris, and Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi ahead of Biden's inauguration ceremony.

At the prayer ceremony in Thulasendrapuram, the idol of Hindu deity Ayyanar, a form of Lord Shiva, was washed with milk and decked with flowers by a priest.

Then the village reverberated with the sound firecrackers as people held up posters of Harris and clapped their hands.

Harris made history Wednesday as the first Black, South Asian, and female US vice president. What made her special for the village is her Indian heritage.

Harris' grandfather was born more than 100 years ago. Many decades later, he moved to Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state.

Harris' late mother was also born in India, before moving to the US to study at the University of California. She married a Jamaican man, and they named their daughter Kamala, a Sanskrit word for "lotus flower."

An Indian villager stands in front of a banner displaying photographs of Harris in Thulasendrapuram. Harris's name is made from ingredients of a local savory Murukku at a village house, in Thulasendrapuram. Schoolgirls carry boxes of packaged food and sweets sent by a NGO to be distributed among school children and villagers ahead of Harris' inauguration in Thulasendrapuram.

In several speeches, Harris has often spoken about her roots and how she was guided by the values of her Indian-born grandfather and mother.

So when Joe Biden and Harris triumphed in the US election last November, Thulasendrapuram became the center of attention in the entirety of India.

Local politicians flocked to the village and young children carrying placards with photos of Harris ran along the dusty roads.

Then and now, villagers set off firecrackers and distributed sweets and flowers as a religious offering.

Posters and banners of Harris from November still adorn walls in the village and many hope she ascends to the presidency in 2024. Biden has skirted questions about whether he will seek reelection or retire.

A villager hangs a calendar featuring photographs of Biden and Harris inside a wedding hall in Thulasendrapuram. A portrait of Harris lies on the ground as a villager prepares to burst firecrackers ahead of Harris' inauguration, in Thulasendrapuram. A child holds a tray of chocolates as others hold portraits Harris after participating in special prayers ahead of her inauguration.

"For the next four years, if she supports India, she will be the president," said G Manikandan, who has followed Harris politically and whose shop proudly displays a wall calendar with pictures of Biden and Harris.

On Tuesday, an organization that promotes vegetarianism sent food packets for the village children as gifts to celebrate Harris' success.

In the capital New Delhi, there has been both excitement - and some concern - over Harris' ascend to the vice presidency.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invested in President Donald Trump, who visited India in February last year.

Modi's many Hindu nationalist supporters also were upset with Harris when she expressed concern about Kashmir, the disputed Muslim-majority region whose statehood India's government revoked last year.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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