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One of Putin's closest allies sharply criticized Russia's decision to free right-wing Ukrainian Azov troops his forces battled during Mariupol siege

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 6:38pm
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) greets Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov (R) in Moscow, Russia, on September, 23, 2016.
  • Putin's military ally said he was blindsided by the Ukrainian-Russian prisoner swap.
  • Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said that he was 'extremely unhappy' about the deal.
  • In particular, he took issue with the fact that senior Azov Battalion fighters were freed. 

One of Vladimir Putin's top military allies broke rank and sharply criticized the Russian-Ukrainian prisoner swap, claiming he and his Chechen colleagues were blindsided.

Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya's leader and typically a staunch Putin supporter, took issue with the fact that around 100 Ukrainian Azov Regiment soldiers – a battalion associated with neo-nazis – were returned to Ukraine. In the early months of the war, Chechen soldiers conscripted to help Russian soldiers clashed with Ukrainian Azov fighters in Mariupol as Russians briefly occupied the city.

Kadyrov said Thursday he was "extremely unhappy," with the swap, calling the Azov fighters "terrorists."

"I'm extremely unhappy about yesterday's news. The whole situation doesn't even make sense to me," Kadyrov said in a telegram post, according to a translation by Russian outlet Meduza. "Whenever combat or tactical decisions have been made, they've always consulted with us, the active participants in the special military operation. But now…" Kadyrov added.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's chief of staff Andriy Yermak said in an update posted in the administration's telegram channel that 215 Ukrainians were returned as a result of the prisoner swap, which Yermak added was also negotiated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Along with 55 Russian fighters, Viktor Medvedchuk, an MP and one of Putin's staunchest Ukrainian allies, was sent to Russia, Reuters reported. He was arrested by Ukrainian authorities in April.

Among the 215 Ukrainians released were 100 fighters from the controversial, hard right-wing Azov Battalion, which Russia has previously called "neo-nazis." Some founding members of the paramilitary group which sprouted as a result of Russia's 2014 invasion of Crimea have also worn nazi paraphernalia and ascribed to the moniker.

 "Handing over even one of those Azov terrorists should have been out of the question," Kadyrov wrote in his post.

He also added that he would continue following Putin's orders.

"Those at the top of the Defense Ministry and the FSB can see things much more clearly," Kadyrov wrote, adding that his forces would adhere to "our main Unshakeable principle: that we will follow all orders from our Commander in Chief!"

On Wednesday, 10 foreign fighters fighting on behalf of Ukraine who were captured by Russia – including two Americans – were also released in a settlement negotiated in part by Saudi Arabia. The bilateral prisoner swap is a massive coup for Ukrainians, who have made considerable gains against Russian invaders in recent weeks.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A small war in Central Asia is a big problem for Joe Biden's narrative about taking on Russia and China

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 6:10pm
President Joe Biden boards Marine One at the White House on July 20.
  • Azerbaijan reignited a longstanding conflict with Armenia last week.
  • The two countries are part of a web of partnerships with Russia and its Western rivals.
  • Those overlapping relationships show the folly of basing US policy on "good" democracies vs. "bad" autocracies.

Azerbaijan began shelling positions across its border with Armenia last week, reigniting a longstanding conflict between the two countries.

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought multiple wars over the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a primarily Armenian ethnic enclave within Azerbaijan that Armenia recognizes as a separate republic called Artsakh, and with which Armenia has long desired unification.

An Armenian victory in the early 1990s gave it control over Nagorno-Karabakh and a large corridor of Azerbaijani territory linking it to Armenia proper, but a war in 2020 resulted in a decisive Azeri victory that reestablished Azerbaijan's control over the disputed territories.

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is only one part of a broader geopolitical contest, however.

Azerbaijani troops in the city of Lachin on September 1.

While Armenia and Azerbaijan both have warm relations with Russia, Armenia has a security agreement with Russia as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an alliance of six post-Soviet states in Central Asia.

Azerbaijan, on the other hand, whose population is primarily ethnically and linguistically Turkic and religiously Muslim, enjoys firm support from Turkey.

Turkey and Armenia have long been at odds, and the shadow of the Ottoman genocide of Armenians in 1915 continues to fall over relations between the neighboring countries.

In recent years, Ankara has sought an independent course with Moscow, despite being a NATO member. On the one hand, Erdogan has sought to maintain cordial relations with Putin, particularly in the wake of a failed 2016 coup which raised suspicions in Ankara about the West's complicity. More recently, Erdogan has acted as a diplomatic broker in the Ukraine war and has bucked Western sanctions by purchasing Russian military hardware.

On the other hand, Turkey and Russia compete for influence over the states surrounding the Caspian Sea, a region which both Moscow and Ankara view as a rightful inheritance of their imperial legacy. Russia and Turkey also backed opposite sides during the brutal Syrian civil war, culminating in a momentary international crisis following the Turkish downing of a Russian fighter jet in 2015.

Relatives of Armenia troops wounded in clashes with Azerbaijan at a military hospital in Yerevan, on September 13.

It is probable that the timing of the most recent flare-up between Armenia and Azerbaijan was not coincidental.

Azerbaijan was likely emboldened to launch the recent attack on Armenia by the successful Ukrainian counteroffensive around Kharkiv and Russia's generally poor performance during the Ukraine war.

Armenia's devastating defeat in 2020 led analysts to conclude that Russian-supplied equipment was ineffective in combating advanced drone technology supplied to Azerbaijan by Turkey and Israel, while the Atlantic Council interpreted Russia's unwillingness to intervene directly on Armenia's behalf as a sign of underlying weakness.

The US has characterized its competition with Russia and China as a battle between democracy and autocracy for the future of the "rules-based international order." But the not-so-frozen Azeri-Armenian conflict provides an ironic counterpoint, belying the narrative that Putin is primarily motivated by a fear of democracies or popular revolutions among Russia's neighbors.

Armenia, a small democracy that underwent a revolution in 2018, has mainly been backed by Russia and Iran, while Azerbaijan, a dynastic dictatorship with much greater wealth and population, has been consistently supported by both NATO-member Turkey and Israel, which claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East.

Azerbaijani troops in Lachin on September 1.

The ironies don't end there. Armenian-Americans have a potent lobby in the US based in congressional districts like California's 28th, home to Rep. Adam Schiff, who, among other roles, is the vice-chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus and has been awarded the State Order by the Armenian government.

Schiff made a national name for himself as the ranking member of the House Select Intelligence Committee, and one of the most public faces of the "Russiagate" investigation that contributed towards souring US-Russian relations.

During the first impeachment of Trump in January 2020, Schiff stated that "the United States aids Ukraine and her people so that we can fight Russia over there and we don't have to fight Russia here." Yet in the wake of Russia's setback in Ukraine, Azerbaijan's attack on Armenia drew swift condemnation from Schiff, who has introduced legislation to halt US aid to Azerbaijan.

The complex politics of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict demonstrate the folly of conducting US foreign policy according to a Manichean division between "good" democracies and "bad" autocracies. They also highlight the fact that a military alliance like NATO does not necessarily equal a permanent harmony of interests between all its members.

Finally, as Russia totters from its failures on the battlefield in Ukraine, and as renewed tensions flare between other post-Soviet states like Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, it is worth considering what the unintended consequences of a destabilized Russia might be for its Eurasian neighbors.

Christopher McCallion is a fellow at Defense Priorities.

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It's probably not a bold raccoon getting into your trash. Video from a new study suggests calm raccoons are better problem-solvers.

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 6:00pm
A raccoon inside the experimental cubicle.
  • Calm, passive raccoons adapt better to city environments, a study published Thursday suggests.
  • Researchers studied 204 wild raccoons for two years, to test whether they could push a button for a reward.
  • The results could help inform how wildlife managers deal with urban raccoons.

Raccoons are beloved and bemoaned for rummaging through city garbage. Now, researchers say one quality has allowed certain raccoons thrive in cities: how calmly they responded to new situations.

In a study published Thursday in the Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers explored how adaptable these mischievous mammals are. The research team, led by Lauren Stanton from the University of California, Berkeley, tagged 204 wild raccoons living in the city of Laramie, Wyoming, by luring them with pet food between August 2015 and September 2019.

Over two years of observations, researchers tested whether raccoons were able to locate a raccoon-sized cubicle in their neighborhood with two buttons inside it. When pressed, one button released a handful of dog treats. The other released nothing. The furry omnivores had initial misgivings about the cubicle, researchers wrote.

A raccoon presses a button it has learned will provide a dog food reward.

After learning to climb into the cubicle for treats, researchers switched things up by changing which button released the edible reward. 

Scientists believe the ability to solve problems in novel situations, using reason and thinking, is particularly important for urban wildlife, Stanton said in a press release. 

After two years, researchers found that 27 raccoons got the hang of visiting the cubicle and 19 figured out which button was a reward. Of those observed, 17 realized that the reward button had been changed.

Interestingly, when Stanton's team observed the animals' temperaments, they found that the least bold raccoons were best prepared to operate the treat-delivering mechanism. That "suggests a potential relationship between emotional reactivity and cognitive ability in raccoons," Stanton said.

A raccoon inside the cubicle after learning how to press the correct button to release a dog food reward.

According to researchers, the youngest raccoons seemed most eager to enter and explore the cubicle. But when researchers switched the buttons, adult raccoons were better prepared to overcome the challenge. That could be because young raccoons' cognitive abilities are less developed, but the sample size was too small to draw conclusions, researchers wrote in the study. 

The cubicle itself became a happening spot for raccoons, with several of them simultaneously climbing in and bumping into each other. 

A skunk explores the cubicle.

Throughout the observation period, the cubicle camera caught other furry visitors, including four striped skunks, like the one in the video above.

Stanton and her team hope her results can better inform wildlife managers dealing with urban raccoons, as the calmest — not the boldest —may be the most likely to cause trouble.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The House may finally vote — next week — on legislation to ban members of Congress from trading stocks

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 5:59pm
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill on September 22, 2022.
  • House Democrats just teed up a potential vote next week on a congressional stock trading ban.
  • Top Democrats told colleagues that the legislation will most likely include Supreme Court justices.
  • That inclusion — along with the short time members will have to consider the bill — may signal peril.

House Democratic leaders announced that the chamber may consider legislation to ban members of Congress from trading stocks as soon as next week.

Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York — the chair of the Democratic caucus — announced on the House floor on Thursday afternoon that the body "may consider legislation to reform the STOCK Act."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi previously indicated that a bill could come in September.

In a "Dear Colleague" letter sent on Thursday and obtained by Insider, Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, the chair of the Committee on House Administration, released a framework entitled "Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest and Restoring Public Faith and Trust in Government."

"Across the entire federal government, there have been significant stories regarding financial conflicts of interest in relation to stock trading and ownership," Lofgren wrote. "Collectively, these stories undermine the American people's faith and trust in the integrity of public officials and our federal government."

The framework includes much of what prominent advocates of stock-ban legislation have asked for, such as including spouses and dependent children in any potential ban. 

Other framework provisions call for:

  • Mandatory electronic filing of financial disclosures, as some officials submit all-but-illegible disclosures.
  • Requiring "more granularity" when disclosing financial trades. Currently, lawmakers are only required to disclosure the values of their trades in broad ranges, such as $100,000 to $250,000 or $1 million to $5 million.
  • A ban on senior government officials, including members of Congress and their immediate families, from trading cryptocurrencies.

Lofgren's framework also includes one class of government official alongside members of Congress — Supreme Court justices. It's a move that advocates view as a potential "poison pill" meant to ensure the legislation is unable to pass the Senate.

—bryan metzger (@metzgov) September 22, 2022


The framework also calls for increasing the penalty for violating the STOCK Act from a meager $200 to $1,000 for every 30-day period in which a member of Congress is not in compliance, and calls for greater transparency around enforcement of the law.

"A number of bills that have been introduced to date address some of these issues and include thoughtful proposals, but no one bill addresses each of these four elements with this level of detail," Lofgren wrote. "I will soon introduce legislative text for a bill built on this framework for reform."

As of Thursday evening, full text of the bill had not been made public, and even members who have been working on related legislation told Insider they have yet to see text.

The House is voting for just 3 days next week, leaving little time for members to consider the new legislation.

The last-minute push to pass a congressional stock trading ban comes after months of members pressuring leadership to act, as well as Insider's "Conflicted Congress" investigation, which has found dozens of members of Congress in violation of the STOCK Act and spurred broad calls for reform.

Several prominent proponents of a stock trading ban recently told Insider that they'd been largely left out of Democratic leadership's legislative plans

"I'm concerned about the lack of detail as to what is being planned," said Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois. "The clock is winding down here pretty fast." 

"I'm not unreasonable on this, I just don't want to play games," said Spanberger. "And let's not pretend."

"We have not heard exactly what's happening," said Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington. "I can't say I'm confident."

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley told Insider last week that the Senate version of a stock trading ban is unlikely to come until after the midterm elections in November, although the senator continues to engage with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the topic.

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CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour declined to wear a head scarf in front of Iran's president, walking away from the interview amid ongoing hijab protests over the death of Mahsa Amini

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 5:44pm
Christiane Amanpour in Beverly Hills, California, on July 30, 2018.
  • CNN's Christiane Amanpour walked away from a long-anticipated interview with Iran's president.
  • The anchor "politely declined" to wear a head scarf since the interview took place on US soil.
  • Her decision follows a history of women journalists declining to wear the clothing for interviews.

CNN's chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour walked away from a rare and highly-anticipated interview with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday after she declined to wear a head scarf.

Amanpour's decision came amid ongoing protests in Iran over the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after she was arrested on suspicion of breaking hijab rules.

—Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) September 22, 2022

On Twitter, Amanpour said that Raisi was late to the interview in New York and received a last-minute request to wear a head scarf from one of the president's aides.

"40 minutes after the interview had been due to start, an aide came over. The president, he said, was suggesting I wear a headscarf, because it's the holy months of Muharram and Safa," Amanpour tweeted on Thursday. "I politely declined. We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding headscarves. I pointed out that no previous Iranian president has required this when I have interviewed them outside Iran."

The president's aide said that the interview "would not happen if I did not wear a head scarf" and that the piece of clothing was a "matter of respect," Amanpour wrote.

Raisi, who spoke at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, did not directly address the issue of headscarves but previously stated that he had contacted Amini's family, amid ongoing demonstrations over the death of the young woman.

"Your daughter is like my own daughter, and I feel that this incident happened to one of my loved ones," he said.

Amanpour's case is not the first time a reporter declined to wear clothing that is compulsory for women in Iran.

In 1979, the late Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, who was known for her unflinching interviews with world leaders, met with Iran's Ayatollah Imam Khomeini, during the height of the revolution. The interview was published in the New York Times that year.

When the reporter arrived at Khomeini's home in a chador, a long piece of cloth that leaves only the face exposed, Fallaci immediately began questioning some of the Ayatollah's actions, from the crackdown of scrutinizing newspapers to summary executions, according to a New Yorker profile of the journalist, titled "Agitator."

Fallaci soon asked the Ayatollah about the clothing for women: "Tell me, why do you force them to hide themselves, all bundled up under these uncomfortable and absurd garments, making it hard to work and move about?"

Khomeini replied: "The women who contributed to the revolution were, and are, women with the Islamic dress, not elegant women all made up like you, who go around all uncovered, dragging behind them a tail of men. The coquettes who put on makeup and go into the street showing off their necks, their hair, their shapes, did not fight against the Shah. They never did anything good, not those."

In a follow-up question, Fallaci, almost insubordinately asked, "By the way, how do you swim in a chador?"

Khomeini snapped and said, "This is none of your business. Our customs are none of your business. If you do not like Islamic dress you are not obliged to wear it."

"That's very kind of you, Imam. And since you said so, I'm going to take off this stupid, medieval rag right now," Fallaci said.

In an email to The New Yorker, Fallaci said that Khomeini "acted offended" and left the interview at that point.

"I had to wait for 24 hours (or 48?) to see him again and conclude the interview," she wrote to the magazine.

When she was able to return, Khomeini's son Ahmed said that his father was still upset and advised not to mention the word, chador. But the journalist remained defiant. She immediately returned to the subject with Khomeini as the tape recorder went back on, according to The New Yorker.

"First he looked at me in astonishment," Fallaci told the magazine. "Total astonishment. Then his lips moved in a shadow of a smile. Then the shadow of a smile became a real smile. And finally it became a laugh. He laughed, yes. And, when the interview was over, Ahmed whispered to me, 'Believe me, I never saw my father laugh. I think you are the only person in this world who made him laugh.'"

Read the original article on Business Insider

See the presentations that cutting-edge biotech companies have used to raise millions from top investors

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 5:39pm
Researchers at the biotech Moderna.
  • Biotech startups have raised billions of dollars in an effort to transform medicine.
  • Despite an economic downturn, biotechs are still getting interest from investors.
  • Here are the presentations that biotechs used to win over investors and raise millions.

Over the past few years, the pandemic fueled a massive boom in biotech investing. Funding for biotech companies soared in 2021 to nearly $47 billion — a record for the industry.

This year has marked a slowdown. As the global economy becomes more uncertain, venture capitalists have become cautious about investing in startups of all kinds — including biotech firms. Some private biotechs are delaying going public, and even preparing to raise down rounds

Despite the market downturn, some companies are still raising sizable funding rounds. One key to these is a great pitch deck, the presentation that companies use to solicit funding from investors. Pitch decks, also known as slide decks, usually lay out the company's history, its achievements, and where it's heading.

Insider rounded up all the biotech pitch decks we've published, from those seeking early-stage funding to presentations for late-stage rounds, that have helped companies raise money from investors. 

In seed and Series A funding rounds, startups raise money to test their ideas

Seed and Series A funding rounds come at the early stages of a biotech company. The company may have an idea or some preliminary clinical data, but it still needs to vet its science more thoroughly. 

Some companies, such as 64x Bio, have newly identified a problem — in 64x Bio's case, drug-manufacturing bottlenecks — and have an idea for a plan that could fix it. This is the 10-slide presentation the company used to quickly raise $55 million.

Other startups, like the cancer-metabolism company Faeth Therapeutics, have shown promising results in lab tests and mice but not yet in humans. Check out the company's 17-slide presentation it used to raise $47 million.

Oftentimes, companies raising early funding rounds, like the biosensor company Monod Bio, hope the money can fund trials that will prove their science works. Monod used this 12-slide pitch deck to raise $25 million from investors.

Read more:

See the 11-slide presentation that sold General Catalyst on a 21-year-old founder's at-home lab-testing platform for Latin America

See the 27-slide presentation a secretive biotech startup backed by Sean Parker used to raise $40 million and 'open a new universe' in cancer immunotherapy

This 10-slide presentation convinced top VC firm NEA to invest $20 million in its first clinical-operations startup

See the presentation microbiome startup Seed Health used to raise $40 million

See the 10-slide presentation a Mark Cuban-backed startup used to raise $20 million to develop a vertigo headband

By Series B funding rounds, biotech companies are trying to start human studies

By Series B rounds, startups are often raising large sums of money and focused on growth. Many times, the companies will use new capital to hire more employees or continue to bring drugs through clinical development. 

For instance, the Belgian biotech AgomAb told Insider it planned to use its new funds to extend the company's cash runway into 2024. Here's the 21-slide pitch deck the company used to raise $144 million from investors.

And the genetics startup Camp4 used an 18-slide pitch deck to raise $100 million and plans to start human testing in 2023. 

The cancer startup Affini-T Therapeutics also plans to have two treatments in human testing in 2023. Here's the 24-slide pitch deck the company used to raise $175 million from investors like Leaps by Bayer. 

Read more:

See the 13-slide pitch deck a biotech used to raise $120 million and write the next chapter in mRNA medicines

See the pitch deck a doctor used to sell his vision for an entirely new way of testing experimental drugs and win a $250 million valuation

See the 20-slide presentation this biotech startup used to raise $75 million for a way to treat blindness with CRISPR

Late-stage funding rounds prepare biotech startups to go public 

Series C, D, and even E funding rounds can help private biotechs get a reserve of cash before a public debut. The presentations used in these rounds often highlight the company's science and show investors what lies ahead. 

The funding rounds, such as Moderna's pitch to investors in 2017, can come shortly before plans to go public. Moderna made its public debut in 2018.

Some companies, like the cell-therapy startup Aurion, are almost ready to file for regulatory approval in certain countries. Here is the 24-slide pitch deck the company used to raise $120 million and prepare for regulatory approval in Japan.  

In late-stage funding rounds, the investors might also be different or used to backing bigger companies. This is the 15-slide presentation that Deep Genomics used to secure $180 million funding from blue-chip investors, including SoftBank. 

Read more:

See the 14-slide pitch deck a French biotech just used to raise $86 million to pursue a twist on one of the hottest ideas in cancer research

See the 24-slide pitch deck a biotech startup used to sell investors on a new approach to AI in medicine and raise $110 million

See the 22-slide presentation an Israeli startup used to raise $45 million for an easier way to treat migraines

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An American Airlines passenger is in custody after allegedly punching a flight attendant in the back of the head during incident caught on camera

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 4:53pm
Footage from the video of Alexander Tung Cuu Le allegedly assaulting a flight attendant.
  • A passenger was caught on video punching a flight attendant on a trip from San José del Cabo to Los Angeles.
  • The video of Alexander Tung Cuu Le allegedly assaulting a crew member was circulated online after the incident. 
  • Both flight attendants and passengers worked to restrain Le after the alleged assault, reports say.

A man was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday for allegedly assaulting a flight attendant aboard a plane traveling from Mexico.

Alexander Tung Cuu Le, 33, is set to appear in court on Thursday after he was caught punching a flight attendant in the back of the head in a video being shared on social media, CBS News reported

Witnesses on the scene said Le began acting erratically within 20 minutes of departing from Los Cabos International Airport, including loitering away from his seat and threatening violence against staffers. The unruly behavior escalated when he punched a flight attendant attempting to report him, according to video footage and an affidavit of the complaint against Le. 

Le was detained upon landing and taken into custody by the Federal Bureau of Investigation since the incident occurred in the air and involved the alleged federal offense of interfering with a flight crew. 

In a statement released Thursday, American Airlines said Le is prohibited from flying with the carrier in the future. 

"Acts of violence against our team members are not tolerated by American Airlines," the statement reads. "The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with us in the future, and we will work closely with law enforcement in their investigation."

The airline went on to thank the crew and passengers onboard for restraining Le until the plane was met by law enforcement at LAX. 

"We thank our crew for their quick action and professionalism to ensure the safety of their fellow team members and customers on board," the statement continues. "Our thoughts are with our injured flight attendant, and we are ensuring that they and their fellow crew members have the support they need at this time."

Read the original article on Business Insider

An appeals court decision against Donald Trump came back to bite MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell in a separate case

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 4:44pm
CEO of MyPillow Mike Lindell on April 5, 2022.
  • A judge rejected MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's request for DOJ to return his seized cellphone.
  • The judge cited an appeals court decision against Trump in his lawsuit over the Mar-a-Lago search.
  • Trump appointed Judge Eric Tostrud, who denied Lindell's bid to get his phone back.

Just a day after an appeals court cleared the Justice Department to review classified records seized from Mar-a-Lago, the decision proved a setback not only for former President Donald Trump but also for one of his most prominent allies.

In Minnesota, a federal judge on Thursday rejected MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's request for the return of his cellphone, which federal agents seized last week in the drive-through line of a fast-food restaurant. The ruling from Judge Eric Tostrud came only two days after Lindell filed a lawsuit demanding that the Justice Department return his cellphone and refrain from accessing data on the device.

Ruling against Lindell, Tostrud did not have to look far to find legal precedent backing up his conclusion that the phone should remain in the Justice Department's hands. A Trump appointee confirmed in 2018, Tostrud cited the recent decision from the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit that allowed the Justice Department to resume its review of about 100 classified records seized from the former president's South Florida home and private club. 

In that decision, three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit overruled a lower court order barring the Justice Department from reviewing the classified materials. The 11th Circuit panel fully embraced the Justice Department's argument that a further delay in its review of the classified records could cause "irreparable harm" to the government and public.

"It is self-evident that the public has a strong interest in ensuring that the storage of the classified records did not result in 'exceptionally grave damage to the national security,'" the 11th Circuit judges wrote.

"Ascertaining that," they added, "necessarily involves reviewing the documents, determining who had access to them and when, and deciding which (if any) sources or methods are compromised."

The 11th Circuit panel included two Trump appointees — Judges Andrew Brasher and Britt Grant — along with Judge Robin Rosenbaum, an Obama appointee. In addition to sympathizing with the Justice Department's national security concerns, the panel appeared at a loss for why Trump needed access to the classified records seized from his South Florida estate.

"For our part, we cannot discern why Plaintiff would have an individual interest in or need for any of the one-hundred documents with classification markings," the judges wrote.

Rarely does an appeals court decision so rapidly grow legs that it is cited in a separate case within 24 hours. But  Tostrud found use for it as he presides over just one of the lawsuits Trump and his allies have filed seeking to limit the Justice Department's access to evidence.

Last week, Lindell said that FBI agents swarmed his car while he was in the drive-through line at a Hardee's and presented him with a warrant for his phone. In interviews and on his online television show, Lindell said the agents asked about his ties to Tina Peters, a county clerk in Colorado who is facing state charges related to an alleged effort to obtain data from voting machines produced by Dominion Voting Systems. Peters is accused of engineering a scheme she believed would prove a long-debunked conspiracy theory that Dominion's machines were used to steal the 2020 election from Trump.

The seizure of Lindell's phone signaled interest at the federal level in the accusations against Peters. In Lindell, the search warrant targeted one of the highest-profile promoters of pro-Trump disinformation about the 2020 election.

Lindell's lawsuit followed a similar move by John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who helped advise Trump on how to overturn the 2020 election results. Eastman filed a lawsuit for the return of his cellphone after FBI agents seized it in a restaurant parking lot in New Mexico. A federal judge rejected his bid for the immediate return of his phone, and the Justice Department later obtained another search warrant to review the contents of the device. 

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Over 260 of the most promising startups of 2022 in edtech, fintech, crypto, proptech and more, according to VCs

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 4:43pm
From left to right: Rebecca Kaden, Aaron Holiday, Edith Yeung, and Jules Miller
  • We asked hundreds of top venture capitalists to name the most promising startups of 2022. 
  • VCs were asked to name companies inside and outside of their portfolios.
  • They delivered an exciting list across industries like fintech, healthcare, edtech and more.

Each year, we reach out to hundreds of VCs at nearly 100 firms and ask them to tell us which early stage startups are the most promising of the year.

VCs were asked to name startups within their portfolio — after all, they liked those startups so much they invested — as well as outside their portfolios — after all, they are the startup experts and can't invest in them all.

And they were also asked to name startups across all stages, particularly earlier-stage companies that are not widely known.

This year, our research was particularly insightful because it's been a tumultuous time in startup land. VCs have grown tighter with investments and startups that were not well-prepared to weather the cold have struggled.

Layoffs have even hit some of the darling industries of 2021 like fintechhealthtech, and proptech.

Below, we list hundreds of the most promising startups of 2022, sorted by industry.

Climate tech:

The 37 most promising climate-tech startups of 2022, from microplastics to toilets, according to top VCs

Consumer tech:

The 27 most promising consumer startups of 2022, according to VCs


The 53 most promising crypto startups of 2022, according to VCs

Education tech: 

23 of the most promising edtech startups of 2022, according to top edtech VCs


The 61 most promising fintechs changing the world of banking, trading, and investing, according to top investors

Health tech:

The 21 most promising healthtech startups of 2022, according to top VCs

Real estate/property tech:

The 21 most promising proptech startups of 2022, according to VCs

Retail tech:

24 of the most promising retail startups of 2022, according to top VCs

Read the original article on Business Insider

Twitter hunts for documents showing possible connection between Elon Musk and former executive turned whistleblower Peiter 'Mudge' Zatko

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 4:27pm
Peiter Zatko (left) and Elon Musk.
  • Zatko accused Twitter of lax security and other missteps during his time as a top executive.
  • He also sided with Elon Musk in claiming "bots" are improperly quantified on the platform.
  • Twitter now wants to know if Zatko has had prior dealings with Musk or those on his side of the deal.

A former Twitter executive recently became a whistleblower, calling out the company's allegedly lax security and professing that it indeed has a problem with the way it quantifies fake or spam accounts, just like Elon Musk has said. Now, Twitter wants to know if the executive has any link to the billionaire.

As part of the ongoing lawsuit Twitter filed against Musk, to force him to acquire the platform for a previously agreed upon $44 billion, it recently asked Musk and his lawyers to produce any communications between them, as well as the various parties that have agreed to finance his takeover, and Pieter "Mudge" Zatko. Zatko worked for about a year as Twitter's chief information security officer and in July submitted to Congress a whistleblower disclosure against the company.

Judge Kathleen McCormick, who is overseeing the lawsuit in Delaware, on Thursday ordered Musk's side to provide at least some of the documents being requested by Twitter regarding Zatko as a condition of his lawyers being able to amend their own complaint against Twitter for the second time. 

"Plaintiff's request that the court allow the amendment subject to conditions relating to discovery concerning the amendment is reasonable," Judge McCormick said.

The additional discovery Twitter is requesting related to Zatko includes "all communications" and "any documents reflecting, referring to, or summarizing such communications" from December 2021 through August 2022 between Musk, his representatives, advisors, lenders, or co-investors, and Zatko. It is also asking for the same scope of communications by the same parties and during the same time frame that "relate" to Zatko and his whistleblower disclosure, as well as a response to a form asking the parties if Musk or anyone working for him did work for Zatko or "obtained information" from him between November 2020 through August 2022.

Judge McCormick said she will decide exactly how much of this discovery should be handed over after a hearing on the issue set for next week. The case is set to go to trial the week of October 17.

Representatives for Twitter and Musk could not be immediately reached for comment.  

In his whistleblower disclosure and then a public appearance before Congress, Zatko claimed that Twitter's engineering and security protocols were lacking to such a degree that agents of foreign countries were employed there and that he was stopped from presenting his findings in full to the company's board. He also openly sided with Musk and his claims that Twitter hosts more "bots" or fake accounts that it publicly discloses. A section of Zatko's disclosure is titled "Lying about Bots to Elon Musk" and accuses Twitter of misrepresenting how it counts and combats spam accounts, saying "Elon Musk is correct."

Lawyers for Zatko previously told CNN he had not been in contact with Musk. 

Twitter has denied Zatko's claims and said he was fired over performance issues. The company now appears to be curious whether Zatko had any sort of prior relationship with Musk, his lawyers, or the nearly 20 parties that agreed to finance his acquisition. Outside financiers of the acquisition include Oracle founder Larry Ellison, Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, among others.

Lawyers for Musk have opposed providing such communications, Judge McCormick said. First, they argued the request was coming too late, then objected to the inclusion of Morgan Stanley, Musk's personal lender for the deal, then said they had "no reason to think" such documents existed, then said the request was "unduly burdensome." The judge asked that Musk's lawyers clarify what, if anything, they are willing to produce regarding Zatko before next week's hearing.

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

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Zelenskyy calls on Russians to 'protest' and 'fight back' against Putin's draft if they 'want to survive'

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 4:23pm
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks as he and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson give a press conference on August 24, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
  • Zelenskyy called on Russians to "fight back" against Putin's draft.
  • "Protest. Fight back," Zelenskyy said. "These are your options if you want to survive."
  • Putin announced a partial mobilization on Wednesday, calling up 300,000 reservists. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday urged Russians to "fight back" against Russian President Vladimir Putin's mobilization of tens of thousands of reservists. 

"55 thousand Russian soldiers died in this war in six months. Tens of thousands are wounded and maimed. Want more? No? Then protest. Fight back. Run away. Or surrender to Ukrainian captivity. These are options for you to survive," Zelenskyy said during his nightly address.

"Russian mothers! Have no doubt that the children of the top officials of your state will not be sent to the war against Ukraine. Those who make decisions in your country take care of their children. And they do not even bury your children," Zelenskyy added.

—Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) September 22, 2022


Putin announced a partial military mobilization on Wednesday, calling up 300,000 reservists. The move was politically risky, and has already seen segments of the Russian public express fierce opposition. Anti-war demonstrations across Russia resulted in over 1,400 arrests on Wednesday alone, per OVD-Info, an independent protest monitoring group. 

"Protests against mobilization took place in the cities of Russia — albeit not massive, but they took place. And they take place. And this is an indicator. Not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg. We know the real mood in the regions of Russia," Zelenskyy said in his address.

There have also been numerous reports of Russians fleeing the country because of Putin's draft, causing airline tickets to sellout or skyrocket in price as well as traffic jams at the borders of neighboring countries like Georgia. 

Though Zelenskyy said 55,000 Russians have been killed in Ukraine since the war began, it's difficult to provide a precise death toll. In August, the Pentagon said the US estimates that Russia has suffered up to 80,000 casualties in Ukraine.

Losses of that scale show Putin is facing a serious manpower problem, which is largely what prompted the partial mobilization. Meanwhile, Ukraine has recaptured a significant chunk of territory after launching a counteroffensive in the north and south in recent weeks. 

Western leaders and officials have said that Putin's mobilization is proof that Russian forces are failing in Ukraine.

Similarly, Zelenskyy on Thursday said, "Russia's decision on mobilization is a frank admission that their regular army, which has been prepared for decades to take over a foreign country, did not withstand and crumbled. And now, due to mobilization, Russia's war against Ukraine for the majority of Russian citizens is not something on TV or on the Internet, but something that has entered every Russian home."

The Russian government has said that 300,000 reservists are to be called up, but a report from Novaya Gazeta Europe suggested that a secret clause in the mobilization decree allows for one million to be drafted. The Kremlin denied this report. 

Touching on this in his remarks, Zelenskyy said, "The Russian leadership is preparing to take up to a million men into the army - this is the key thing they are now silent about."

Zelenskyy said it's time for Russians to choose.

"For men in Russia, this is a choice to die or live, to become a cripple or to preserve health. For women in Russia, the choice is to lose their husbands, sons, grandchildren forever, or still try to protect them from death, from war, from one person," he said. 

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US stocks drop for a 3rd day as Treasury yields spike and recession fears grow after Fed rate hike

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 4:15pm
  • US stocks fell Thursday for a third straight session, with the S&P 500 hitting the lowest level since July. 
  • Bond yields continued to mount higher as the market prepares to see more Fed rate hikes. 
  • The Fed-policy-sensitive 2-year Treasury yield rose to 4.1% for a fresh 15-year high.

US stocks finished lower Thursday, with the S&P 500 sliding to a two-month low during the session as Treasury yields continued to climb following the Federal Reserve's latest interest rate increase. 

The major indexes fell for a third straight session, as the S&P 500 hit its lowest point since mid-July when it touched 3,749.35 intraday. Stocks plunged Wednesday after the Fed raised interest rates by 75 basis points at a third consecutive meeting, pushing the fed funds target rate to between 3.0% and 3.25%.

Stocks came under pressure again on Thursday as Treasury yields rose, highlighting investor concerns about a Fed-induced recession as the central bank battles high inflation. The Fed-policy-sensitive 2-year Treasury yield rose to 4.1% for a fresh 15-year high. The 10-year Treasury yield leapt 19 basis points to 3.7%.

Here's where US indexes stood at the 4:00 p.m. closing bell on Thursday: 

Powell made clear the Fed wants to see the job market cool off as it sees that as a way to prevent supply-demand dynamics from flowing through to inflation via wage pressures, Bill Adams, chief economist at Comerica Bank, said in a note. 

 "It's possible that the unemployment rate could gently glide higher and wages cool without an outright recession—but it's never happened before," he said. "Historically, increases in the unemployment rate of the size that the Fed wants to see have coincided with a recession, meaning notable declines in employment, income, output and sales, spread widely across the economy and probably lasting for more than a few months." 

The Fed's Summary of Economic Projections showed policymakers expect the unemployment rate to rise to 4.4% in 2023 from a projected 3.8% this year. 

Weekly jobless claims released Thursday rose slightly, by 5,000 to 213,000, but the labor market remains strong.

Here's what else is happening today:

In commodities, bonds and crypto:

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Martha's Vineyard lawmakers call for federal investigation of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' 'political stunt' of flying Venezuelan migrants there

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 4:10pm
Migrants gather outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church on September 15. Two planes of migrants from Venezuela arrived suddenly Wednesday night on Martha's Vineyard.
  • Martha's Vineyard lawmakers want DOJ to investigate Ron DeSantis' transport of migrants to the island.
  • They say the Venezuelan refugees seeking asylum were deceived and their rights were violated.
  • "Not a single one of them knew where they were going and every one of them was lied to," one lawmaker told Insider.

Lawmakers who represent Martha's Vineyard are urging the Department of Justice to investigate Gov. Ron DeSantis' transport of migrants to the Massachusetts island, saying the Venezuelan refugees seeking asylum were deceived and their rights were violated.

"Not a single one of them knew where they were going and every one of them was lied to about what would greet them there when they arrived," state Rep. Dylan Fernandes told Insider Thursday. "If you hop on an Uber that says you're going to New York and end up in Minnesota, I think that would raise some basic legal questions. I think at a minimum, there should be an investigation into that."

The Florida Republican governor has taken credit for chartering two planes last week to transport about 50 migrants from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha's Vineyard, in a stunt to protest President Joe Biden's immigration policies. He says they went voluntarily, but the migrants filed a class action lawsuit against DeSantis on Tuesday, alleging they were duped only "to advance a political motive."

They were promised employment and assistance in Boston, but they ended up stranded in the dark on the tarmac on Martha's Vineyard with nowhere to go.

Fernandes and State Sen. Julian Cyr, in a letter on Wednesday, sent letters to US Attorney General Merrick Garland and US Attorney Rachael Rollins for the District of Massachusetts to investigate the "conduct of all those involved" in the migrants' transport. Neither responded to a request for comment.

They join other Democrats, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who are seeking a federal investigation. In Texas, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, a Democrat, announced on Monday that he opened a criminal investigation.

Cyr told Insider it's important to remember that these Venezuelans are fleeing a dictatorship and they had begun the asylum process and were not in violation of immigration laws.

"This political stunt raises real questions as to whether the perpetrators interfered with federal immigration law and due process, violated the rights of asylum seekers," Cyr said. "One woman described to me that she felt that she had been kidnapped."

—Julian Cyr (@JulianCyr) September 21, 2022


Both Cyr and Fernandez said those who are responsible must be held accountable. They don't name DeSantis in their letter but they want him to be included in the investigation.

Cyr said he'll leave it up to the proper authorities to determine what and who they need to investigate but they would "of course" include the governor. "DeSantis I'm sure needs to be part of that investigation…but may not be the only person culpable," he said.

Fernandez said everyone who was involved should be investigated. As soon as he learned the news, he got on the first boat to Martha's Vineyard and found people who were "incredibly terrified" and "confused." 

The families were taken to Joint Base Cape Cod, where most of them remain voluntarily, he said.

"I talked with families this week who told me that when they landed in Martha's Vineyard and opened their phone to see that they were surrounded by water in a place they'd never heard of, that was really traumatic for them," he said. "Being sent somewhere on a lie, through deception, not only is it morally criminal, but I think raises some legal questions."

Asked to comment on the lawmakers' letter, a DeSantis spokesperson referred to the governor's response on Friday to Newsom's request for a DOJ investigation.

"All I can say is, I think his hair gel is interfering with his brain function," DeSantis said then.

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Fugitive 'Fat Leonard' was captured at a Venezuela airport trying to flee to Russia after escaping house arrest

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 3:46pm
This undated handout picture released on September 21, 2022 by the Instagram account of Interpol Venezuela shows Malaysian fugitive Francis Leonard Glenn, known as Fat Leonard, after his capture in Maiquetia, Venezuela.
  • Fugitive 'Fat Leonard,' who pleaded guilty to involvement in a US Navy bribery scandal, was caught in Venezuela.
  • Interpol Venezuela said it captured Leonard Glenn Francis trying to flee the country for Russia. 
  • Leonard recently cut his GPS ankle bracelet and fled house arrest in San Diego, where he was awaiting sentencing.

Leonard Glenn Francis, who pleaded guilty to involvement in one of the US Navy's worst corruption scandals, was captured in Venezuela after he recently escaped house arrest in San Diego and went on the run. 

Francis, a former military contractor who is also known as "Fat Leonard," was captured at an airport while trying to flee the country, Interpol Venezuela said in a Wednesday statement shared to Instagram. The agency said Francis entered the country via Mexico, with a stop in Cuba, and planned to travel to Russia as his final destination.

Authorities said he was captured at Simón Bolívar International Airport, just north of Venezuela's capital city Caracas. Francis will be handed over to Venezuela's judicial authorities, who will then initiate an extradition process, Interpol said.

Earlier this month, Francis, a Malaysian national, was waiting to be sentenced for his role in a a Navy bribery scandal when he cut off his GPS monitoring ankle bracelet and fled his San Diego home. 

After a federal agency monitoring Francis realized he fled, law enforcement officials went to his house only to find nothing there except for the tracking device, Deputy US Marshal Antonio Kirby previously told Insider. Immediately, a slew of law enforcement agencies — including the Marshals — began desperately hunting for Francis.  

"We are under the impression that this was pre-planned — neighbors did inform the Marshals Service that they did see U-Hauls coming and going over time," Kirby told Insider at the time. 

—USMS San Diego (@USMSSanDiego) September 6, 2022

The US Marshals Service confirmed Francis' capture in Venezuela to the Associated Press. The agency could not be immediately reached by Insider for comment on Thursday.  

Interpol Venezuela said in its statement that Francis was wanted on "red alert" by the "central national office in Washington for bribery and corruption." 

According to the agency, this designation is "issued for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence" and is "a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action."

There was no immediate notice of when, exactly, Francis could be extradited to the US. Additional issues could also surface given that the State Department does not recognize Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government, which has been accused by the United Nations of human rights violations and repressive tactics.  

When he fled, Francis was waiting to be sentenced for his role in a corruption scandal that involved dozens of of people, including US Navy officers, and his Singapore-based contracting firm — which serviced Navy ships in ports around Southeast Asia. 

Prosecutors say Francis bribed the officials with hundreds of thousands of dollars for work opportunities and classified information and that he overcharged the Navy by more than $35 million. Court documents reviewed by Insider show that he was arrested in 2013 and pleaded guilty in 2015 to conspiracy to commit bribery. 

At Francis' hearing on Thursday, US District Court Judge Janis Sammartino said a "no bail arrest warrant" was issued for Francis, according to the AP, and set a new hearing for him on December 14.   

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The special master Trump pushed for is asking for proof of his claim that the FBI planted evidence at Mar-a-Lago

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 3:37pm
Former President Donald Trump.
  • The special master reviewing Mar-a-Lago records asked Trump's team for proof that the FBI planted evidence at his home, as Trump has claimed.
  • Trump has repeatedly and publicly claimed the FBI illegally planted evidence when searching Mar-a-Lago.
  • This isn't the first time Dearie has essentially asked Trump's team to put their money where their mouth is.

The outside arbiter reviewing records seized from Mar-a-Lago has asked former President Donald Trump's legal team to definitively say whether they believe the FBI planted evidence when it searched Trump's Florida home.

Judge Raymond Dearie was appointed special master earlier this month and is tasked with sifting through the thousands of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago and filtering out those that may be covered by executive or attorney-client privilege.

On Thursday, he said in a new court filing that Trump's legal team must submit, by September 30, a declaration or affidavit that includes "a list of any specific items set forth" in the FBI's inventory of items removed from Mar-a-Lago that Trump "asserts were not seized from the Premises on August 8, 2022."

The line appears to reference the former president's public claim that the FBI planted evidence when executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago last month.

"Everyone was asked to leave the premises, they wanted to be alone," he wrote on Truth Social on August 10, "without any witnesses to see what they were doing, taking or, hopefully not, 'planting.'"

Thursday wasn't the first time Dearie had essentially asked Trump's lawyers to put their money where their mouth is and back up his public claims. His statements were all the more noteworthy given that Dearie was appointed after Trump's lawyers pushed for a special master, and his name was on the list of candidates they submitted.

At a Tuesday hearing, the special master chided Trump's team for wanting to "have your cake and eat it" after they refused to provide evidence that Trump had declassified all the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.

Ahead of the hearing, Dearie had pressed the former president's lawyers to confirm his claim that the records were declassified. Trump's team resisted the request, however, saying that turning over that information would force Trump to "fully and specifically disclose a defense" that he might try to mount in the event of a "subsequent indictment."

But Dearie didn't appear to buy that argument, saying that if the former president's attorneys didn't give him evidence of declassification, he would side with the feds.

"As far as I'm concerned, that's the end of it," he said, later adding: "You can't have your cake and eat it."

In Thursday's court filing, Dearie also referenced the Justice Department's revelation that an FBI filter team had conducted an initial review of the Mar-a-Lago records and determined that roughly 500 pages could be covered by attorney-client privilege.

Noting that the government had provided Trump's team with that initial set of documents, Dearie ordered Trump's lawyers to decide by September 26 which of those items they want to assert privilege over. And he gave the former president's team until October 14 to submit all their privilege claims.

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60 gifts teens will actually love to receive, from bluetooth speakers to platform Chucks everyone is wearing

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 3:36pm

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We feel you — teenagers are notoriously hard to shop for. But that's all the more reason to give them a gift that shows how much you really care. Their teen years can be fickle and picky, but believe us when we can that they appreciate a thoughtful gift more than they'll probably let on.

We've rounded up 60 well-rounded gifts to make your search a little bit easier, with a little something for every model of teen and tween. A music subscription, clean beauty options, and vintage-esque steals? They name it, we've got it!

The 60 best gifts for teens in 2022:A hilariously meme-able party game

What Do You Meme Game, available at Amazon and Walmart, $29.99

Meme lovers and board gamers unite for this hilarious What Do You Meme adult party game. Seating three to 20 players, this 435-card deck turns the kitchen table into a battleground for who can create the funniest memes. You can always add an expansion pack for fresh laughs!

An adorably vintage sweater

Urban Renewal Vintage Printed Cropped Sweater, available at Urban Outfitters, $45 

This Gen Z-approved sweater by Urban Renewal combines endless top trends into one timeless piece. Cropped, patterned, and sourced from some of the best vintage styles from around the world, each sweater is original and worn to perfection. No two styles are exactly alike, making this sweater their very own.

An Apple Music subscription

Apple Music Subscription, available at Apple, $9.99 monthly after a 1-month free trial

As far as we're concerned, most teenagers communicate best through music. A subscription to Apple Music is a beat that keeps on playing, serving up over 90 million songs, 30,000 playlists, and live radio. Psst…you can upgrade to a multi-user jam sesh for just $5 more a month.

A trendy corduroy tote bag

Corduroy Tote Bag, available at Amazon, $10.99 

Lightweight, casual, and made of soft, durable corduroy, this endlessly wearable tote is perfect for school books or day trip essentials. Bonus points: It also features cotton lining, an extra two-pocket design, and whimsical messaging on the front.

A vial of Good Chemistry perfume

Good Chemistry Sugar Berry Perfume, available at Target and Amazon, $26.99

For teens refining their sense of style, a signature scent is never a bad idea. This Sugar Berry Eau De Parfum contains a skin-loving formula with naturally-derived ingredients — and NO  phthalates, parabens, propylene glycol, or dyes. With irresistible notes of freesia, raspberry, and vanilla, they've got the perfect combo of happy and sweet.

A pair of ultra-popular platform sneakers

Converse Run Star Hike Platform, available at Converse, Nordstrom, and Foot Locker, $110

Everyone is rocking these fashion-forward, reimagined versions of classic Chucks. Endlessly wearable and timelessly designed, you can choose from classic neutrals and snazzy patterns, or customize them for a more personal touch.

A wearable throw blanket

UGG Avery Hooded Throw Blanket, available at Bed Bath & Beyond, $29.99

What's better than a gift that's fun and comfortable? This UGG hooded blanket is a perfect addition to movie night, a cozy evening at home, or after-school relaxation. Featuring a soft flannel exterior and faux Sherpa texture, this throw comes in six different colors for optimal coziness.

A heatless curling rod headband

CORATED Heatless Curling Rod Headband, available at Amazon, $9.99

This heatless curling rod is perfect for beauty gurus to-be. As seen on TikTok, this sleep-in, satin-covered curler is a healthier way to curl with no heat and no damage. Just clip, braid, and tie off dry hair for bouncy curls with zero expense.

This exclusive Harry Potter-themed eyeshadow palette

Back to Hogwarts Pressed Powder Palette, available at ColourPop and Ulta, $30

ColourPop's most requested collab is here, with Harry Potter-themed makeup storming the internet. For die-hard HP fans, we recommend the Back To Hogwarts shadow palette. It holds 24 spellbinding shades inspired by their fave characters in matte, pressed glitter, metallic, and more!

A tie dye kit they can use for a fun at-home activity

Tulip One-Step Tie Dye Kit, available at Amazon, $14.50

They can revitalize white clothes and spend a few hours having fun doing something creative, whether solo or with family or friends. This kit has enough materials for up to 30 projects, so no white fabric will be left untouched!

This one-step hair dryer brush

Revlon Salon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer Hot Air Brush, available at Target, Amazon, and Ulta, from $32.49

Who doesn't love a one-step tool that feels luxurious? This popular round brush acts as a hairdryer while they brush, giving their hair volume without much finesse or time. You can find a full review of the Revlon One-Step here

An Apple AirTag to keep track of their belongings

Apple AirTag, available at Target, Apple, and Amazon, from $28.99

The teenager in your life can attach this tag to their backpack, wallet, keys, or any other easily lost item and find it easily with the Find My app whenever they've misplaced it. Using the app, they can opt for the tag to play a sound until they've found their keys sandwiched between couch cushions or their wallet in the pantry.

A board game that feels like a video game

Cephalofair Games Gloomhaven Board Game, available at Amazon, $181.23

This collaborative board game (good for one to four players) is sort of like Dungeons & Dragons, Magic the Gathering, and other cult-favorite fantasy adventure games that forces its players to contend with monsters and mercenaries, explore a new world, and discover treasure and fame. Players make tactical decisions, and the game unfolds in reaction to their choices. 

Disposable cameras to help them stay in the moment

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera, available at Amazon, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble, from $69.95

Funsaver One Time Use Film Camera (2-pack), available at Amazon, $39.99

Disposable cameras are popular right now, partly because of the nostalgic aesthetic of a polaroid and partly because of their simplicity. Spending so much time immersed in technology — and combatting the temptation to retake and edit photos in real-time — keep us from staying present.

Disposable film cameras or polaroids help preserve memories without adding to their screen time. Plus, they give them cute photos to decorate their room with!

Glossier's fan-favorite products

Boy Brow + Balm Dotcom + Futuredew Set, available at Glossier, $44

No-makeup makeup is in right now and, if your teen is into beauty products, they may appreciate a gift from Glossier. The brand features the "natural and glowy" products that Olivia Rodrigo says she wears in her Vogue beauty diary.

We'd recommend a gift card or a pack like the Boy Brow + Balm Dotcom + Futuredew pack, which covers three of its fan-favorite products.

A great book

"Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11

Books are an incredible gift if your teen is a reader. It can translate into hours of enjoyment at a minimum and, at its best, a favorite story that follows them well into adulthood.

Plus, if you've read the book, it can also mean great conversations about it or movie adaptations to watch together. It's also a gift where money doesn't really matter; you can find a great read for $20 and spending more won't make much difference.

Some book suggestions:

An eco-conscious tie-dye beanie

Parks Project Beanie, available at Free People, from $40

These unisex tie-dye beanies come in cool colors and with a unique plant logo. (To date, the Parks Project has reportedly contributed over $2,000,000 to help fund vital projects in national parks around the US).

Ribbed beanies are big right now, à la the popular Carhartt beanie. If they've got that staple covered, the Parks Project also has tube socks

A splashproof, portable Bluetooth speaker perfect for outdoor trips

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2, available at Amazon, Target, and Best Buy, from $99.98

This rugged, compact speaker can go with them anywhere. It's waterproof, has an "outdoor boost" button specifically for listening outside, is "drop-proof," and boasts a 13-hour battery life.

A plush toy that they can heat up

Tayto Potato Mini Toasty Heatable Plushie, available at Smoko, $10

Whenever they need some cozy comfort, they can heat up this cute animal-shaped heating pad for a snuggle.

A portable phone charger

Elecjet Powerpie Portable Charger, available at Amazon, $69.99

This handheld charger can charge up your teen's smartphone or various devices like an iPad or small laptop so they can stay in touch, turn their paper in on time, or just never have to stress about 5% battery life.

Sheet masks to go with a Netflix marathon

TONYMOLY I'm Real Sheet Masks (10 pack), available at Amazon and Revolve, from $24

There are few things my 15-year-old sister loves more than oversized hoodies, Boba, and an endless supply of sheet masks. Grab a pack, throw them on, and make a night out of it with your teen's favorite candy and TV show.

A pair of trendy, easy-to-use AirPods

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) with Charging Case, available at Target, Amazon, and Apple from $239.99

If you're after the title of their favorite relative of the year, here's a good place to start. AirPods are both easy to use and functional as well as trendy. 

A Boba-shaped AirPods Pro case

Boba Tea AirPods Pro Case, available at Smoko, $16

Part of my 15-year-old sister's ideal trifecta is Boba, but you can pick up a cute, fun AirPods case no matter what their interest is — Baby Yoda, gaming, Boba, or whatever else. 

A Bluetooth water bottle speaker

Asobu Bluetooth Water Bottle Speaker, available at Amazon and Walmart, from $39.99

This Bluetooth water bottle speaker offers a boost of hydration and fun for everyone. The water-resistant speaker resides at the top, ensuring greater sound quality that lasts 6-10 hours. It's the perfect accessory for them to bring to every hang-out session. 

A slim leather wallet

Bellroy Slim Sleeve Leather Wallet, available at Amazon and Bellroy, $79

This thin wallet is a subtle nudge toward minimalism, something many teens appreciate. The Bellroy Slim Sleeve wallet offers room for up to eight cards and a pocket to stash cash. It comes in a variety of colors and features environmentally certified leather.

An eco-friendly phone case

Pela Phone Case, available at Amazon and Pela, from $19.99

Pela offers a wide variety of biodegradable cases for iPhone and Android, all made from plant-based polymers. Pela cases are rugged enough to offer drop protection, and if a phone has both a Pela case and screen protector but still cracks, Pela will cover the bill to get it fixed.

A comfortable and sustainable Patagonia pullover they'll wear all the time

Patagonia Men's Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T Pullover, available at Patagonia, REI, and Dick's Sporting Goods, $129

Patagonia Women's Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece, available at Patagonia, REI, and Dick's Sporting Goods, from $76.99

A Patagonia sweater is a particularly good gift for teens who are interested in sustainability. The company has been turning plastic bottles into polyester for its clothing since 1993 and continues to do so today.

Its Snap-T pullover is the unofficial uniform of the cozy adventurer. It and the Better Sweater are long-held favorites, and both are comfortable classics that they'll no doubt come to rely on heavily during colder weather.

A gift card for stylish new glasses

Gift Card, available at Warby Parker, from $50

Teens are a notoriously picky bunch, so you can never go wrong with a gift card. If they're in the market for new glasses or sunglasses, we recommend Warby Parker because of its versatility, size flexibility, and free at-home try-on program. 

An Amazon Echo Dot for hands-free calls, alarms, music, updates on the weather, and more

Echo Dot (4th gen), available at Best Buy, Amazon, and Target, $49.99

The Amazon Echo Dot is the most popular Amazon device for a reason — it's compact and has all the capabilities of Alexa (weather updates, recipes, music, news) without any of the bulk. 

A smartphone-sized travel photo printer

HP Sprocket 200 Photo Printer, available at Amazon and B&H Photo, $79.99

This tiny, compact device prints photos with sticker backing on ZINK film with Zero Ink technology. It connects to devices via Bluetooth, and multiple devices can connect at once (personalized LED lights indicate who is currently printing). 

String lights with clips for photos

Room Essentials Photo Clip LED String Lights, available at Target, $10

Perfect for creating the archetypal teen room that's most often seen in Netflix movies and old Taylor Swift music videos, the photo clip string lights combine warm light and Polaroids (or other memorabilia). 

A trendy Champion sweatshirt

Champion Reverse Weave Fleece Crew Neck Sweatshirt, available at Urban Outfitters and Champion, from $38

Like Fila, Champion is a brand that's had a resurgence as of late. If you want to get them something they'll end up wearing all the time, this is a good candidate. 

A great video game

"The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD" for the Nintendo Switch, available at Amazon, Walmart, and GameStop, from $40.73

If they're into video games, all other gifts may pale in comparison to a really good new one. Check out "Hades," "NBA 2K22," and "The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD."

A vinyl record membership

Gift Membership, available at Vinyl Me, Please, from $119

There's no greater joy than adding to a record collection or playing a new album for the first time. Your recipient gets to choose from three different types of tracks each month and will also receive extra goodies in each package. They'll also get one bonus record as part of the three-month gift membership. 

A gentle facial cleansing device that removes 98.5% of dirt and makeup

Luna 3 Facial Cleansing Device, available at Foreo and Amazon, $219

FOREO's cult-favorite Luna 3 cleansing device gently and effectively cleans with thin, antimicrobial silicone touch-points, and it removes 98.5% of dirt and makeup residue without irritating the skin. Plus, it's 100% waterproof and the battery life lasts for months per charge.

Find a full review on the previous generation Luna 2 from a female reporter and a male reporter here.

Comfortable lounge pants that look put-together

Men's The Lounge Pant, available at MeUndies, $68

Women's Lounge Pant, Women, available at MeUndies, $68

MeUndies is a popular LA startup that makes some of the most comfortable underwear we've ever tried. Their lounge pants, however, are the real hidden gem — perfect for lounging around on weekend mornings or heading to the dining hall when they get to college (yep, they'll last that long) while still looking sleek.

A subscription to a famous book club that sends them great hardcovers each month

3-Month Gift Subscription, available at Book of the Month, $49.99

If your teen is a bookworm, Book of the Month is an especially cool gift. It's a book club that has been around since 1926, and it's credited with discovering some of the most beloved books of all time (like "Gone with the Wind" and "Catcher in the Rye" to name a couple).

If you gift them a subscription, they'll receive a hardcover book delivered once a month. Books are selected by a team of experts and celebrity guest judges.

If they're really more into audiobooks or e-reading now rather than hardcovers, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here).

An Apple Watch that combines their smartphone with a fitness tracker

Apple Watch SE GPS, 40mm, available at Apple, Amazon, and Walmart, from $249

If you have a little extra to spend on your teen, consider getting them a smartwatch. The Apple Watch SE is like a smartphone, fitness tracker, and music player all in one. Just like on their phone, they can customize the watch to show their favorite apps to pick, including social media.

A cute iPhone case

Coffee Reading iPhone Case, available at Society6, $21.25

This fun iPhone case is funny and unique, and most of their friends probably won't have the exact same one. 

Reusable straws

Hiware Reusable Silicone Straws (10-pack), available at Amazon, $7.99

Help teens do their part to keep single-use plastics out of trash bins, landfills, and the ocean by giving them this pack of reusable silicone drinking straws. They come in various colors and include a few cleaning brushes as well.

A set of velvet retro-inspired scrunchies

Hair Scrunchie Variety Pack, available at Target and Bed Bath & Beyond, from $6.99

Another trendy gift is as many scrunchies as you can carry. This pack comes with 12 options in enough colors to work with virtually any outfit or mood. 

A multicolor mini cinema light box

Multicolor Cinema Light Box, available at Uncommon Goods, from $20

These trendy lightboxes are inspired by cinema marquees, and they come with 100 letters and symbols for personal messages. This one also has color-changing LED lights for further customization.

Fun and useful PopSockets for the back of their phone

PopGrips, available at PopSockets and Amazon, from $6

PopSockets have become their own cultural phenomenon in recent years, and they're surprisingly useful. Get your teen one for their own phone or tablet, and depending on their age, you may find it's the gift they're most excited about. It doesn't hurt that there's free domestic shipping on orders over $20, or that you can actually design your own.

A waterproof e-reader with a no-glare screen

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, available at Amazon and Target, $139.99

Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite is its thinnest, lightest version. It also has double the storage, a built-in light that adjusts to accommodate reading indoors or outdoors, and is waterproof for reading anywhere, including the beach or bath. Plus, a single battery charge lasts weeks rather than hours.

Cool backpacks from a popular startup with a charitable mission

State bags and accessories, from $38

State bags are increasingly popular thanks to their versatile, laid-back aesthetic and characteristically bright nylon colorways. They're also known as #GiveBackPack(s), because for every State bag purchased, State hand-delivers a backpack — packed with essential tools for success — to a local child in need. The Lorimer and Bedford are two of the company's best sellers.

A three-month subscription of beauty products

Monthly Subscription, available at BirchBox, $15

Teens are usually among the most interested in the latest and greatest beauty or grooming products — but may lack the funds to try all the full-sized versions. Birchbox sends samples of new and beloved products once a month, so they can test out new finds and discover products they may want to buy a full size of in the future. (It's also just fun to get an ongoing gift.)

Personalized Nikes

Customizable Nikes, available at Nike, from $120

Nike makes great stuff, but it's nice to get the benefits of a great shoe without forsaking what makes something unique. You can customize a pair of Nikes for them, or give them a gift card so they can get creative making something one-of-a-kind on their own.

A great Alexa-enabled speaker they can control by voice

Sonos One Smart Speaker, available at Sonos, Best Buy, and Amazon, from $219

The new Sonos One smart speaker fills any room with clear, rich sound, and they can use Alexa to play and control their music without ever lifting a finger. Find a full review here.

A cult-favorite hair towel that reduces damage and cuts drying time by 50%

Aquis Rapid Dry Hair Towel, available at Amazon, Walmart, and Target, from $20.49

Aquis' cult-favorite hair towels can cut the amount of time it takes your hair to dry in half — a claim we're happy to report holds up. The proprietary fabric also means there's less damage to wet hair while it dries. If they've ever complained about frizzy hair, this and a silk pillowcase are thoughtful gifts they'll actually use. 

A Disney+ subscription for access to classic movies and more

Gift Subscription, available at Disney Plus, $79.99/year

Disney Plus is the new Disney-centric streaming service. The platform includes Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox. You can gift a whole year of access for $80, which is something their entire family can benefit from.

If you'd rather test Disney Plus out before buying, you can sign up for a free weeklong trial.

A suitcase with an ejectable battery that can charge their devices on the go

The Carry-On, available at Away, from $275

Travel startup Away makes a great carry-on with an ejectable battery that can charge devices on the go, 360-degree wheels, and a lightweight build that travels easily. In other words, it takes a lot of the angst out of travel and may make family trips far more enjoyable and stress-free.

Durable sunglasses that look good, too

Smith Optics Lowdown2, available at Smith Optics and Backcountry, from $109

Who better to make a pair of durable, performance-based sunglasses than the company known for innovating the ski goggle? The Lowdown2 features bio-based materials for the frame, ChromaPop lens technology which creates high contrast and vibrant colors, and an anti-reflective, smudge-resistant coating.

Plus, the brand offers peace of mind with free shipping, 30-day returns, and a lifetime warranty.

Comfortable, high-quality sheets that come in lots of colors and patterns

Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle, available at Brooklinen and Amazon, from $245.03

We think Brooklinen makes the best high-end sheets at the best price on the market, and most of the Insider Reviews team uses Brooklinen on their own beds. It's perfect for lazy Saturday mornings or the rare occasion sleeping in is encouraged.

The Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle comes in 15 colors and patterns that range from classic to fun, and you can mix and match them to suit their preferences. Grab a gift card (delivered digitally) if you want to give them more freedom.

Fidget balls

2.5mm Magnet Balls, available at Speks, $34.95

Made from rare earth magnets, these tiny balls can be molded into an infinite number of shapes and designs. The size of Speks balls makes them ideal for teens to keep with them for those unpredictable moments of nervousness that fill teenage years.

A pack of smart plugs so they can control devices from a distance

TP-Link Kasa WiFi Smart Plug, 2-Pack, available at Best Buy, $24.99

Whether they're wondering if they turned off their hot iron or just don't want to get up to turn off the TV, a smart plug lets them control devices from a distance. You can connect to them using any smart device.

A Time-Turner clock that actually spins

Harry Potter Time-Turner Clock, available at Pottery Barn Teen, $89

It may not be able to take them back in time or help them be in two places at once, but this Time-Turner clock will keep them on top of their schedule. It even has a functional hourglass on the back so they can time their study breaks. 

A toothbrush with a timer

Oral-B Pro 1000 Electric Toothbrush, available at Amazon and Oral-B, from $49.94 

Rigorous dental hygiene isn't usually on the top of the list of things teens care about, which is all the more reason a rechargeable toothbrush with a timer is a fantastic gift. This rechargeable brush breaks up 300% more plaque on the gum line than traditional brushing and lets them know when two minutes have passed.

Compact hand sanitizer spray

Touchland Power Mist Hand Sanitizer, available at Touchland and Sephora, $9

It's in the car, the house, and their pocket these days, but many hand sanitizers smell a little like household cleaners. Touchland comes in scents like Vanilla Cinnamon and Forrest Berry, or even unscented for the teen who likes to keep it simple.

The compact sanitizer features 67% alcohol for killing germs but balances it with soothing aloe vera and essential oils to hydrate the skin. 

A lottery card that donates to charities

Scratch Off Card, available at LottoLove, from $5

When you gift this lottery card, you're actually giving the gift of charity. When you "win big," you're winning a charitable prize that gets donated to nonprofits in one of four categories: Clean water, solar light, nutritious meals, or literacy tools. To date, LottoLove and its partners have impacted lives in over 70 countries.

Gift cards for concert tickets, food, and clothes

You can't go wrong with money for their favorite things, especially for teens who are relying upon part-time jobs to fund their frequent Chipotle meals and concert trips with friends. Check out more gift card ideas here.

Everything: Visa Gift Card / Amazon Gift Card

Coffee and food: Starbucks Gift Card / Chipotle Gift Card

Entertainment and live events: Netflix Gift Card / Xbox Gift Card / Hulu Gift Card / StubHub gift card

Music: Spotify Gift Card

Sheets: Brooklinen Gift Card

Groceries and food: Whole Foods Gift Card / Chipotle Gift Card

Clothes: Nordstrom Gift Card / Everlane Gift Card

Tech: Best Buy Gift Card

Read the original article on Business Insider

Facebook scammers recruited into the shadowy job after being trafficked say they were punished with push-ups or tased for failing

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 3:27pm
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • Indonesian workers were recruited for jobs in Cambodia involving scamming "clients" on Facebook, a new investigation reveals.
  • One trafficking victim told VOD English that workers who didn't reach quotas had to do push-ups.
  • Another victim said he made a mistake that almost revealed the scam, and was tased and beaten.

A new investigation into the trafficking of Indonesian nationals into Cambodia sheds light on some of the working conditions of those caught up the shadowy world of scamming people on Facebook.

Indonesian nationals told local publication VOD English that they were recruited to work jobs in Cambodia that involved running Facebook scams, and were physically punished if they made mistakes or didn't meet "client" quotas.

The Indonesian Embassy has said at least 417 Indonesian nationals have been trafficked into Cambodia to work since early last year, and that officials are focused on rescuing them, according to the report.

One of the trafficking victims told VOD English that she was referred to a job recruiter on Facebook through her former boss.

The worker, using the pseudonym "Sky," told the publication that the job was to make fake Facebook profiles using photos of young Asian women to talk to men on the website to get them interested in investing in a fake cryptocurrency.

The Better Business Bureau recently said Facebook scams are on the rise, with scammers on Facebook Marketplace telling sellers they need to update their digital payment apps like Zelle and CashApp in order to accept payments. A reporter at Insider shared her experience of almost getting scammed on Marketplace when a "buyer" asked her to update her Zelle account.

Sky told VOD English that workers who didn't reach their quota for "clients" had to do 50 push-ups for each client they were missing.

"I was so stupid to believe him, because I have no choice," she told VOD English. "If I stay inside [my dorm] and I don't do anything, I will get more than push-ups."

Sky and other workers recruited with her said they stayed in a building called Sun Residences in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh where the job was located.

Another worker, going by Aseng, said he was recruited with Sky, and told VOD English he was tased and beaten when he made a mistake while talking to a client. Like Sky, he said he had to get people to invest in a fake cryptocurrency, so the unsuspecting person would link their wallet to the wallet of the parent company. Instead, Aseng sent the wrong link, almost exposing the scam, he told the publication.

Aseng showed the VOD English reporter scars on his arm from the punishment, and told them, "I like this job, but this company hit us."

Eventually, Sky and several other workers who were recruited with her were allowed to leave the company and go back to Indonesia, VOD English reported. Aseng told the publication he would've stayed at the company if his supervisors didn't beat him.

Read the full investigation over at VOD English.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The Fed is leading the charge against global inflation. Here's what 9 other central banks have done this week to join the fight.

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 3:16pm
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference after a Federal Open Market Committee meeting January 30, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Fed has decided to leave interest rates unchanged.
  • The Federal Reserve's 75-basis-point rate hike was only one of many central bank moves this week.
  • The Bank of Japan kept its benchmark rate steady, while others raised interest rates. 
  • Here's how nine other central banks adjusted key rates.

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.75 point on Wednesday, though a bevy of other central banks also had policy adjustments slated for this week. 

The Fed's latest move was the third rate hike of that size this year, with officials scrambling to tame inflation. Fed Chair Jerome Powell signaled that more interest rate hikes are likely to come. 

Last week, the World Bank said policymakers were "raising interest rates this year with a degree of synchronicity not seen over the past five decades."

Global inflation has soared through 2022, in part due to Russia's war on Ukraine, Europe's persisting energy crisis, and what many commentators believe to be late policy reactions in response to historic inflation. 

Traders in the US, meanwhile, are pricing in an additional 125-basis-point rate hike over the next two Fed meetings.

Here's an overview of what's happening in nine central banks around the world. 

  • Japan: The Bank of Japan maintained low interest rates in keeping its benchmark measure at minus 0.1%, taking a different route than other banks around the world and keeping away from aggressive policy.
  • UK: The Bank of England made a 50-basis-point hike, raising its key rate to 2.25%, and is set to begin selling bonds. 
  • Norway: Its bank raised rates by 50 basis points, matching the UK's 2.25%.
  • Switzerland: Increased rates by 75 basis points, to hit 0.5%. 
  • Indonesia: Raised its benchmark rate by 50 basis points, to hit 4.25%. 
  • Turkey: Slashed its benchmark rate from 13% to 12%. 
  • Taiwan: The East-Asian nation's central bank increased its discount rate by 0.125 point, to hit 1.625%. 
  • The Philippines: Raised its benchmark overnight borrowing rate by 50 basis points, to hit 4.25%. 
  • South Africa: Raised key repurchase rate by 75 basis points, to 6.25%. 

Turkey's move was a shocker, given that inflation in August clocked in above 80%. The lira fell to a record low against the dollar. 

The US, for its part, won't be able to handle the Fed's plan to raise rates above 4%, according to JPMorgan's strategy chief David Kelly, adding that the Fed's delayed hawkishness will likely tip the economy into a recession. 

"This economy has one foot in the grave," Kelly told CNBC Wednesday. "It really looks like it could get pushed into recession, and I just don't see the reason why. If inflation is coming down slowly, let it come down slowly."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ron DeSantis' Martha's Vineyard stunt gives Republicans the midterm fight they crave and takes focus off Trump 2024 and abortion rights, GOP operatives say

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 3:16pm
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters at a campaign stop on the Keep Florida Free Tour at the Horsepower Ranch in Geneva. DeSantis faces former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for the general election for Florida Governor in November.
  • Polling shows voters trust Republicans more than Democrats on immigration and border security.
  • DeSantis' political stunt in Martha's Vineyard rocketed the issues to front-page news ahead of the midterms.
  • Republicans welcome the change of topic from abortion and Trump. 

When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis orchestrated flights sending migrants and asylum seekers from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, many observers saw a stunt aimed at raising the Republican's political profile ahead of a potential 2024 White House run

But according to GOP operatives, the move also gave Republicans running for Congress the opportunity to home in on illegal immigration and border security, topics they've clamored to put at the center of this fall's midterm elections.

DeSantis' timing is ideal for Republicans and allows the governor to continue casting himself as a national GOP leader that others in the party will follow.

Since August, Democrats have been feeling more optimistic about their forthcoming chances in the November midterms thanks to legislative wins in Congress, decreasing gas prices, and the threat of a GOP push for a nationwide abortion ban. 

They've also been able to keep the spotlight on former President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly teased a 2024 White House run, is the subject of an FBI investigation over classified documents, and faces a $250 million fraud lawsuit

Last week, however, DeSantis threw a wrench into the political conversation by taking a page out of Trump's 2016 campaign playbook. The flights carrying migrants injected immigration into the national discussion, forcing the White House to respond. 

While DeSantis' actions face a legal challenge and were viewed by critics as a cruel stunt that misled vulnerable people, congressional Republicans openly welcomed that DeSantis highlighted the issue.

Republicans would prefer to keep voters focused on issues where they poll well, including on economic issues, crime, immigration, and border security.

"Democrats are desperately trying to make abortion, Trump, and 2024 the issue," Saul Anuzis, managing partner of Coast to Coast Strategies, LLC, a political consulting firm, told Insider. "The challenge is that the other issues are real and affect folks daily."

"The polling is on the Republican's side," Anuzis added. "They just have to stay on message and not get distracted."

Republicans already knew they held an advantage on these issues even before the Martha's Vineyard controversy. Since March 2021, the National Republican Congressional Committee, which works to elect Republicans in US House races, has sent 357 emails about "Biden's Border Crisis" to reporters. 

But DeSantis' Martha's Vineyard flights brought renewed interest to the matter, said a Republican familiar with House races who asked not to be named in order to speak candidly. 

"It's brought a lot of attention to the border crisis that had been lost," the person said. 

To top it all off, Republicans are closely watching trends that show Democrats are seeing a decline in support from Hispanic voters. 

Given all this, there's really no downside to DeSantis stirring the pot on immigration, former Trump White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told Insider in an email. 

"People who think our border policy is a disaster support what he did — and all states should, in fact, bear the brunt of current immigration policy," Mulvaney said. 

"People who like the policy as is hate DeSantis anyway," he added. 

But there's been one notable exception among prominent Republicans. Trump's son-in-law and former White House advisor, Jared Kushner, criticized DeSantis' move this week, telling Fox News he was "very troubled" that "human beings" are "being used as political pawns."

Kushner's remarks could offer further evidence that Trump sees DeSantis' attention-grabbing stunt as a threat to his potential 2024 re-election bid. 

Local resident Rosemarie Aguero distributes pizzas to a group of Venezuelan Migrants from the back of her pickup truck across from the Migrant Resource Center on September 19, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. The City of San Antonio Migrant Resource Center is the origin place of two planeloads of mostly Venezuelan migrants who were sent via Florida to Martha's Vineyard by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.Republicans play up illegal immigration issue

Congressional Republicans have welcomed the shift in the national conversation to immigration and border security. The topics could stay in the headlines for weeks if DeSantis follows through on comments he has made publicly about sending migrants to President Joe Biden's home state of Delaware. 

The governor's actions allowed Republicans to highlight that 2 million people have been caught entering the US illegally this fiscal year. Republicans also criticized Vice President Kamala Harris' comments in a September 11 NBC Meet the Press interview, in which she said the border was "secure." 

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who worked under Trump, said he'd encouraged Republicans in Congress to go to the border so that it would receive more media coverage. But DeSantis and GOP Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas' actions moving migrants "worked" to finally draw attention to the issue, he said. 

"No one would cover this issue until he did it," Sean Spicer, who now hosts the Spicer & Co. political talk show on Newsmax, said of DeSantis. "On my show, we cover it almost nightly." 

Republicans in Congress have pushed the matter further.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he agreed with DeSantis' actions and used his floor speech to blast Democrats over illegal immigration. The National Republican Senatorial Committee this week tied record-high border apprehensions to the policies of Biden and Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, a Democrat they're trying to unseat in November. 

Republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also are dropping charges of hypocrisy. They've accused liberal cities of being supportive of permissive immigration policies while not facing the same humanitarian and national security struggles as border towns, which provide aid to thousands of migrants arriving monthly.

They've pointed to comments from Democratic officials who've said cities are overwhelmed after Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey bused migrants to New York and Washington, DC.

"For so many folks on the left, sanctuary cities and welcoming illegal immigrants is a bumper sticker," Spicer said. "They have no idea the reality of it."

The party frequently accuses Biden of not doing enough to help. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has responded that if governors "truly care about border security" they should have encouraged GOP senators to vote in favor of Biden's request for Homeland Security funding.

DeSantis has publicly urged Biden to reinstitute a Trump-era policy that forced asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are pending, and told Republicans to run on immigration during a rally in Wisconsin on Sunday.

That appears to be the plan. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's GOP agenda published Wednesday, called the "Commitment to America," prominently proposed stricter immigration measures including a requirement to show legal residency in order to work. 

Rep. Elise Stefanik, chair of the House Republican Conference, held a press conference Monday highlighting an NBC News poll that included findings about voters gravitating toward Republicans on the topic of immigration and border security.

DeSantis is up for reelection in Florida and it's not yet clear what effect his Martha's Vineyard actions will have on his campaign. On Wednesday, Democratic gubernatorial challenger Charlie Crist accused DeSantis of trying to "draw attention away" from Florida's 15-week abortion ban, which doesn't include exemptions for rape or incest. 

"His inhumanity is now comparable to his inhumanity and lack of respect for women," Crist said. 

As for the future of the White House, DeSantis's migrant trafficking lawsuit would be unlikely to do any lasting damage to the party or DeSantis' suspected presidential ambitions because 2024 is still very far off, predicted Jeff Grappone, a GOP strategist at political consulting firm Rokk Solutions. 

"We're not even to the opening gate of the 2024 race yet," Grappone told Insider. "When the universe of candidates is known, we'll have a better sense of how particular issues will impact Republican fortunes in 2024."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Why is Trump calling NY AG Letitia James 'Peekaboo?' Michael Cohen has a theory, and it isn't X-rated or racist

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 3:07pm
  • Donald Trump coined a nickname for New York's AG after she sued him: Letitia 'Peekaboo' James. 
  • Speculation has run rampant, with leading theories claiming 'peekaboo' is either racist or X-rated.
  • Michael Cohen has a simpler theory: 'I think Trump has dementia.'

Speculation has run rampant since Donald Trump — apparently stung by Wednesday's massive lawsuit against his family and business — lashed out at New York's attorney general, calling her "Letitia Peekaboo James."

Trump had already called Letitia James "racist" for months prior to her suing him, in a not-so-veiled allusion to the AG being African American. But what, social media now wonders, does Trump mean by this new nickname, which he doubled down on Thursday.

"Racist A.G. Letitia "Peekaboo" James, the failed Gubernatorial candidate," Trump called the AG in a new Truth Social post.

Trump fixer-turned-critic Michael Cohen doesn't like the odds on either of the leading peekaboo nickname-origin theories, one of which is X-rated and the other of which is deeply racist.

Cohen thinks his own simpler theory is most likely: Trump, he says, is coming undone, mentally.

"My opinion? He has dementia," Cohen told Insider on Thursday. "Especially with the additional stress that is now on top of him." 

Cohen had not heard of the "peekaboo" nickname when reached by Insider on Thursday.

"Isn't that a toy?" he asked. "Isn't that — oh no, that's Pikachu."

Cohen didn't think much of the X-rated theory, floated around AG circles, which references some of the more graphic definitions of "peekaboo" from Urban Dictionary.

"There's no way in the world that Donald Trump knows the Urban Dictionary," Cohen insisted. "Considering he doesn't even know the English dictionary."

Neither did Cohen like the other leading theory, popular on Reddit and Twitter, claiming Trump was alluding to a racist term that sounds a lot like "peekaboo," but starts with a "J."

The "J-word" is "not an option," said Cohen, who doesn't think Trump would ever use such a derogatory slur in a public statement.

Trump is, in fact, "a racist," Cohen had alleged in his testimony before Congress in 2019, when he recounted his ex-boss remarking that, "only the blacks could live like this," while being chauffeured through a poor neighborhood in Chicago. 

But "there's no chance" Trump would racially slur James publicly, including in a Truth Social post, Cohen insisted.

Instead, he thinks an "impaired" Trump may have been reaching for a metaphor to describe the failed, pre-lawsuit settlement negotiations with James' office.

Perhaps, Cohen theorized, Trump believed James had toyed with him as they haggled over a potential dollar-figure that could have made the lawsuit go away before it was filed.

"Let me put it to you this way," Cohen said. "As you sit and listen to Trump speak, you realize that he has at best a 10-year-old's vocabulary. He's using peekaboo as a hide and seek term."

The scuttled settlement talks were clearly still on Trump's mind after James unveiled her lawsuit, which alleges Trump falsely inflated his worth by billions, and which seeks $250 million in penalties and the hamstringing of his business in New York. The lawsuit will be fought over for years, former prosecutors with the NY AG's office have told Insider

In griping about the failed settlement during a Fox News interview Wednesday night, Trump told host Sean Hannity two things that could not simultaneously be true.

First Trump said he had expected the case would settle. Then he said he actually would not have settled, because "even if I paid a very small amount, you're sort of admitting guilt."

"His rambling about 'we were settling' and then questioning why anyone would settle when they're not guilty is indicative of some cognitive impairment," mused Cohen.

Cohen said that as Trump's right-hand man, he knew him at his most savvy. Now, he sees a man who "is coming undone" and who he said appeared physically stooped and mentally rambling on Hannity.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for guidance on the new nickname's meaning.

"There's no way he'll explain it. He never explained covfefe," Cohen noted.

"I really don't know what Trump was thinking," he added. "Actually, neither does he."











Read the original article on Business Insider

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