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I tried a suspiciously generous $100-off deal to Naked Wines and was happily surprised by the quality

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:56pm

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  • I was impressed by the quality of "easy drinking" wines from Nakedwines.com and the interesting way the company supports small winemakers.
  • It's like "Shark Tank" for wine where winemakers propose their blends and get an advance to make and sell their wine.
  • The advance is funded by customers, who can score bottles up to 60% off listed prices. 
  • Read more: The best wine subscriptions in 2021

This content is intended for readers 21+. Please drink responsibly. If you or anyone you know is dealing with alcohol abuse, get help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) provides a free, confidential, 24/7, treatment referral, and information service.

If buying unique wines at wholesale prices and having them delivered to your doorstep sounds ideal, you should check out Nakedwines.com.

The 12-year-old company invests in over 150 indie winemakers around the world and uses a lean business model to bring unique, high-end wines to market for cheap.

For shoppers, Nakedwines.com is a relatively inexpensive way to get good, unique wines sent to their door. For winemakers, it's kind of like a "Shark Tank" for their industry: They propose a wine, it gets approved, and Nakedwines.com gives them an advance to make it happen. Part of how the company has the funds to operate this way is through over 100,000 voluntary "Angel" customers who act as investors.

Once accepted into the program (and I'd wager every "applicant" is), Angel members invest $40 every month into their Naked Wine piggy bank. This pool of crowdfunded money helps Naked Wine invest in its winemakers, but it's also never lost to Angel members; the $40 in the virtual piggy bank can be used on their individual wine orders whenever they like - in other words, it's pretty much like a wine bank account.

If all goes to plan, it's good for the company, the consumers, and the winemakers - like Carmen Stevens, reportedly South Africa's first black woman to graduate in wine-making (funded by 2,000 Angel members and $200,000 in eight hours).

To be clear, what you're getting is not quite a wine subscription in the traditional sense. You can just buy wine directly from the site as you would anywhere else (though you need to order six bottles to ship), but the site's Angel members get special perks. They save 40-60% on all their orders and get a ton of freebies and perks like samples of other wines included in their deliveries, a bottle of Angel-funded wine worth $20 or more each month they order a case of wine, access to Angel-only wines, invites to wine tastings to meet the winemakers, and access to an exclusive priority hotline for any needed support.

Nakedwines.com sells affordable bottles that are what I'd call "easy drinking" wines - perfect for casual drinking.

I'd wager most people wind up on the site thanks to a suspiciously generous $100 voucher for new customers - I received mine inside the box of a Bloomingdale's purchase. Using the voucher, I got a Discovery Case with 12 bottles of wine across a wide spectrum of offerings from the site. With the $100 voucher - which you can also get by clicking the top right-hand button that says "voucher" and entering your email - the case was $79.99, instead of its current sale price of $179.99 (its traditional cost is listed at $264). This promo varies a bit depending on how many bottles are in the box - my colleague redeemed a $50 voucher for six bottles of wine.

In-person, the wines are good. I was satisfied and even a little surprised by their quality given the fact that I received $100 off lots of wine. The affordable bottles were what you'd call "easy drinking" wines - none that were bold and weird and revelatory - but perfect for casual drinking. Nakedwines.com hit the "weekday wine" niche perfectly.

Shipping is also inexpensive. For orders under $100, Nakedwines.com typically charges $10. For orders $100 and more, delivery is free - except for New Jersey, Hawaii, and Alaska, (you can find rates for these states here). Wines will be delivered in four to seven business days (Monday-Friday or Tuesday-Saturday) during regular business hours, but make sure that there is someone over 21 years old who can sign for the package.

One thing I would stress is that if you have any difficulty with your shipment, or you don't like a wine, you should contact Nakedwines.com for help. My experiences with them were as a consumer rather than a reporter, and I was impressed by their easygoing willingness to make sure I had a positive experience, even when it wasn't to their immediate advantage. This means that if you really hated a wine you were sent, they'll refund you. The site has a "cast-iron, no questions asked, 100% guarantee."

Winemaker Jen Pfeiffer showcasing her Diamond Merlot: rich and complex with plummy mulberry fruit. She recommends it with veggie lasagna or herb crumbed pork schnitzel.

What makes Nakedwines.com even more appealing is that it's also pretty social. Winemakers and members interact with each other. Winemakers get feedback directly from customers, and customers can ask them questions. Indirectly, members can rate and recommend wines to each other. 

This communication creates an optional whirlpool of discovery and self-improvement, which is baked into the business from the top down to the granular level of your account; if you don't like a wine, give it a thumbs down in your Naked Me account. From then on, they'll help steer you away from wines that taste similar to the ones you didn't enjoy. Nakedwines.com also uses this as an indirect polling system, helping them determine which winemakers are doing the best job of making wines people really love.

The bottom line

All in all, Nakedwines.com has good wine for an accessible price, with the opportunity to be as involved as you want to be. It's also easy to cancel right in your online account if you change your mind as opposed to calling or emailing customer service.

If you use Naked as a casual wine drinker, you'll discover great and affordable wines (even if you don't take advantage of the $100 off coupon) through an interesting system that makes you feel more involved than just ordering another case of wine online. 

Get $100 off your first Nakedwines.com orderRead the original article on Business Insider

The best fire pits of 2021

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:54pm
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
  • A good portable fire pit warms up any outdoor area, so you, your friends, and your family can still enjoy the backyard once the sun (and temperature) drops. 
  • The best fire pits are easy to light and channel excess smoke away from the pit (and the people around it) - some even allow you to grill food on them. 
  • Our top pick, the Breeo X Series 24, serves as a hub for outdoor entertainment, can help you cook dinner, and looks like a piece of art all at the same time. 

There's no question that gathering around a fire with friends and family is a fun and communal outdoor experience. Whether you're making s'mores and telling ghost stories with the kids, catching up with the neighbors over a few drinks, or just stargazing with a partner, the warmth and light of a fire are incredibly relaxing. 

These kinds of experiences have become so popular that buying a fire pit has nearly become a mandatory practice for most homeowners. But with so many different options to choose from these days, it's not always easy to know which ones are worth investing in. To help, I spent many a night huddled around an assortment of fire pits to find the best currently available.

The fire pits that earned a spot here are some of the most versatile, well-built, and efficient models I've ever used. So, no matter if you want a wood-burning pit, something that's portable, or are looking to save a few bucks, I've got you covered. At the bottom of this guide, I've also included some helpful insight into how to shop for a fire pit and what to consider, as well as the testing methodology I used in narrowing down which models ultimately made the cut. 

Here are the best fire pits:Updated on 01/20/2021 by Victoria Giardina: Updated prices, links, and inventory, as well as sections on how to shop for a fire pit. We are continuing to test the best fire pits in the coming months, which will be featured in another update. The best fire pit overall Durable, versatile, and beautiful, the Breeo X Series 24 is an outstanding fire pit that serves as a hub for outdoor entertainment, can help you cook dinner, and looks like a piece of art all at the same time. 

Pros: Looks great, incredibly well-built, doubles as a wood-fired grill, high-quality components, and lifetime warranty.

Cons: Heavy

When Breeo created its new X Series line of fire pits, a lot of time was spent on design and engineering. The result is a fantastic model that includes integrated airflow technology that makes it easier to get a blaze going while keeping the level of smoke that's produced to a minimum. 

The company also chose to manufacture the X line from high-quality Corten steel, which allows it to naturally weather over time. This gives it a unique, timeless look that isn't found in most other fire pits. In fact, the level of craftsmanship on display here is head and shoulders above just about anything else on the market, which in turn allows Breeo to confidently back its products with a lifetime warranty.

Large enough to accept big logs, the X Series 24 keeps a flame going for hours. Its 24-inch opening makes it easy to continue to feed the blaze for as long as you like. And since this model is nearly 30 inches in diameter, there's plenty of room for people to gather around it to bask in warmth and comfort.

As good as the X Series 24 is as a fire pit, it might be even better as a wood-fired grill. The stainless-steel outer ring makes for a nice cosmetic touch, but it actually doubles as a sear plate, sizzling steaks, burgers, chicken, or just about anything else you'd want to grill. 

This model is also compatible with Breeo's Outpost Grill add-on (which we didn't test at this time) that opens up the possibilities for cooking a meal even further. This optional accessory seamlessly connects to the fire pit while cooking but can just as easily be removed once the meal is done. 

Breeo's X Series 24 is incredibly well-built and is an upscale product in every way. Unsurprisingly, this makes it one of the more expensive models in our guide at $599. Because it's made with premium materials, it's also a bit heavy, weighing in at 78 pounds — so, don't expect this model to be especially portable. That said, if you're looking for a quality and dependable fire pit designed to last — that also doubles as a reliable grill —the X Series 24 from Breeo is what you seek.

The best wood-burning fire pit Technology and design come together in the BioLite FirePit, a model that not only excels at grilling but comes equipped with features you simply won't find anywhere else.

Pros: Great for grilling, burns both wood and charcoal efficiently, integrated fan and battery pack make starting a fire easy and keep the FirePit relatively smoke free.

Cons: The battery pack needs to be recharged regularly.

It's safe to say there aren't many similar products capable of rivaling BioLite's FirePit in terms of features. Not only does it ship with a rechargeable USB battery pack, but it also has a built-in fan that draws power from that battery. 

And why would a fire pit need a fan, you ask? For starters, it helps keep air flowing inside the unit itself, which not only allows the fire to burn more efficiently but keeps the amount of smoke produced at a minimum. FirePit owners can control the speed of the fan using a button on the device itself or via their smartphone over Bluetooth. 

The innovation doesn't end there either, as BioLite conveniently included a rain cover for the FirePit that comes with integrated solar panels to help keep the battery charged. Made from a material BioLite calls X-Ray Mesh, the FirePit is unique and stylish looking, too. Its mesh sides allow it to keep the fire — and any errant embers — from escaping, while still providing a 360-degree view of the flames.

In addition to making a great fire pit, BioLite's offering also happens to double nicely as a grill. Because it burns both wood and charcoal, it has a level of versatility not found in most other models. The FirePit even comes with a removable grill grate that facilitates hibachi-style cooking. Simply slide the grate into place and you'll be cooking up burgers, hot dogs, steaks, and a variety of other items in no time. 

And since the FirePit weighs less than 20 pounds — and comes with folding legs — it's easy to take with you on camping trips, to the beach, or while tailgating. Each of these features functions well and truly puts the BioLite FirePit into a class all its own.

That is, as long as the battery is charged and functional. If you forget to recharge the power cell on a regular basis, you run the risk of the fan running out of juice in the middle of your family gathering. It's not the end of the world but it does take away some of the shine that'd help the FirePit rise above its competition.

Note: This item is currently out of stock as of 01/20/2021. We will update the inventory once you can order it again.

The best propane fire pit For the ultimate in convenience, it's tough to top the Outland Living Fire Bowl, a propane-powered fire pit that looks great, burns efficiently, and can produce a flame in seconds. 

Pros: Uses propane as a fuel source, looks great, fast and easy to use, and is smoke-free

Cons: Not as versatile as wood-burning models and if you run out of propane you won't be able to maintain a fire

With its sleek, modern design, low profile, and efficient helios burner, the Outland Fire Bowl is a fire pit built for anyone who places a high value on convenience. Thanks to its ability to use propane as a fuel source, this unit can have a flame going in a manner of seconds. This makes it an ideal choice for someone who doesn't have the skills, patience, or inclination to build a fire by hand.

It also opens the door for more frequent use simply because it is so easy to start the Fire Bowl up, enjoy a fire for a short time, then shut it off again. Something that a regular wood-burning model simply can't match.  

Propane fire pits have other benefits above and beyond just speed and convenience. They also happen to burn more cleanly, which means you won't be dealing with smoke, ash, or soot. This not only makes them easier to keep clean, but also more fun to use, whether it's in the backyard, while car camping, or tailgating at the game. 

Unlike some propane fire pits, the Fire Bowl doesn't have a push-button ignition which means you'll still have to use matches whenever you want to get a fire going. Once the flames start burning, however, you can adjust the size and intensity of the blaze with the simple turn of a knob. Having this level of control over your fire pit is a real game-changer, although you'll want to make sure you always have an extra propane tank around to avoid running out of gas in the middle of a gathering.

Outland ships the Fire Bowl with some handy accessories, including a  pre-attached 10-foot hose and regulator, a stabilizing ring for the propane tank, and lava rocks to put inside the fire pit itself. The unit also comes with a cover and a carrying case, both of which are nice additions when it comes to keeping the Fire Bowl well protected from the elements. 

Lightweight, easy to set up and use, and affordable, the Outland Fire Bowl is an excellent option for those who want a fire pit without having to deal with the actual fire. While it isn't as versatile as some of the wood-burning options on this list, it does its job very well. 

The best portable fire pit When it comes to portability, the Snow Peak Pack & Carry Fireplace is our go-to option. This model is lightweight and collapses down for ease of transport while offering excellent durability and performance wherever you take it. 

Pros: Lightweight and collapsible, the Snow Peak Fireplace is very easy to transport

Cons: Limited features out of the box

Most companies that manufacture fire pits don't take into account weight and portability when designing them. After all, the vast majority of these products will be installed in a backyard and likely aren't moved very far after that. But if you do happen to need a fire pit that you can take with you, you're in luck. Snow Peak's Pack & Carry Fireplace is exactly what you're looking for. 

Snow Peak is a Japanese outdoor brand that is well known for making clever and well-built products for camping. The Fireplace is a perfect example of this, as it features a design that is both simple and brilliant at the same time. This fire pit actually has the ability to collapse down and fold flat, which makes it extremely easy to carry with you to any outdoor setting. And since it weighs just 11.9 pounds and comes with its own carrying case, there really isn't any excuse to leave it behind.

Once you reach your destination, the Fireplace expands back into its regular shape in a matter of seconds, with wide, rounded-off legs securely holding it in place even when resting on uneven terrain. A series of small holes in the fire pit's frame help to facilitate airflow, while its bucket-like receptacle can hold moderate-sized pieces of wood. Because it has a wide opening, visibility is great from all angles, and adding more wood to the fire is safe and easy.

Despite its ability to collapse flat, the Fireplace is well-engineered and very durable. Made from high-quality stainless steel, this model is designed to withstand the elements and be transported from one location to another on a regular basis. Because it is made of rugged metal, however, it does take a bit of time to cool down after the party is over.

Out of the box, the Fireplace doesn't have a lot of features or frills, although Snow Peak makes a number of accessories that extend its use even further. The company offers an array of cooking utensils for instance, and a grill top allows owners to cook over the fire. Without spending extra money on those add-ons, however, this model isn't quite a versatile as some other options. 

The best budget fire pit Sturdy and durable, the no-frills Kingso Outdoor Fire Pit is affordable enough that anyone can add one to their backyard.

Pros: Attractive, inexpensive, and comes with some handy accessories

Cons: Not weather-resistant, requires some assembly, not a lot of frills

Who says you need to spend a lot of money to get a quality fire pit for your backyard? The Kingso Outdoor Fire Pit may not have all of the bells and whistles found on the other models on this list, but it is durable, good looking, and gets the job done. It also happens to be so affordable that it won't do much damage to your wallet. 

Even though this model is priced surprisingly low, the Outdoor Fire Pit isn't entirely without its amenities. Kingso does ship this model with a mesh cover that prevents sparks from escaping the flames without obstructing the view in any way. It also comes with a metal poker that makes it easy to safely remove that lid and adjust logs while the fire is going. 

Lightweight and relatively compact, the Outdoor Fire Pit is made of rugged, heat-resistant steel. This makes it easy to move around or even take with you on a camping trip should you choose. Sadly, however, the metal used in its construction is not particularly well suited for resisting the elements. In fact, the manufacturer recommends that you take it inside when not in use in order to avoid rusting. 

This model isn't fully assembled out of the box, although it doesn't take particularly long to put it together. Once all of the parts are locked firmly into place, the fire pit proves to be very stable, even on uneven ground. Its 22-inch bucket can hold a surprising amount of wood and can comfortably accommodate a small gathering of people. That said, this unit is a bit smaller than the others on this list, which makes it a good choice for those with a smaller deck or patio. 

The real selling point of this particular model is without a doubt the price. For less than $60 you can own a reasonably well-made, portable, and attractive fire pit. While not as well constructed or feature-rich as more expensive options, as long as you're aware of its limitations going in, the Outdoor Fire Pit is a good buy. 

How to shop for a fire pit

While the concept of a fire pit has been around for centuries, modern versions elevated the concept to new heights. Thanks to a blend of innovative engineering and thoughtful design, today's fire pits not only look great but are highly functional, too. 

Strategically placed vents, air holes, and tubes make starting a fire easier than ever, while at the same time channel away excess smoke. This makes for a much more enjoyable experience for everyone involved, while allowing you to walk away without the smell of smoke on your clothes or in your hair

Modern fire pits come in all shapes and sizes, too, ranging from small, portable, wood-burning models, up to massive propane-powered structures permanently installed on a patio. 

No matter which size or model you choose, it's likely to become the centerpiece of your outdoor space anytime a fire is lit. It also provides plenty of heat and light, allowing you to enjoy being outdoors even during the colder times of the year.

Some fire pits even make excellent grills, allowing you to cook entire meals over a flame. But most important of all, they're a safe way to enjoy a bonfire in your backyard, without fear of the fire getting out of control. 

How we test fire pits

Each fire pit featured in this guide went through a series of tests to see how it compared across these four categories: Ease of use, versatility, design, and value. Specifically, here's how each category factored into which fire pits we ultimately included:

  • Ease of use: If you're unable to easily start a fire, what good is a fire pit really? While no fire pit is as easy as snapping your fingers, some are designed not just for easy fire starting but also in keeping the flame lit and full for several hours. If it feels like a chore to get it lit and to stay burning, you're less likely to want to use it very often.
  • Versatility: A fire pit's sole job is to, well, be a fire pit but there are some (i.e. BioLite's aptly named, FirePit) that come with additional functionality such as being able to throw a grill on them and barbecue some food or pack down small enough to be portable enough for camping trips. Of course, we still considered home-specific fire pits that excelled at their lone purpose but did make not of multi-faceted options where necessary.
  • Design: The design of a fire pit affects which models made this guide in a number of ways. First, a poor design could mean that the fire may burn out more quickly or that it doesn't quite ration the wood as well. A bad design can also just be an eye-sore, and if it's something you're looking to keep in your backyard, it's likely you prefer one that not only maintains fire but looks good doing it.
  • Value: Value is the sum of the categories above, as well as some attention toward its actual price. Though it's ideal to not have to spend a fortune on a simple fire pit, it's smart to invest in something that's premium and high quality as opposed to spending less money more often on a cheaply-built model. 
Check out more Insider Reviews camping gear guides The best camping tents

With a good tent, you can always feel at home, even when you're actually miles from civilization and a few thousand feet up in the mountains. The Mountainsmith Morrison EVO 2 Person tent is our first choice for the best tent, thanks to its great price, ease of setup, and ability to keep you warm and dry even in bad weather. Here are our other top picks: 

The best camping stoves

A reliable camp stove is a great way to enjoy a warm meal and a hot cup of coffee when you're out in the field. It can also be a must-have for purifying water and safely cooking food. These are the best camping stoves in 2019: 

The best fire starters

The ability to make fire is the oldest and most important technological innovation ever conceived by humankind. The modern human gets an edge over our ancient forebears with great fire starters. The Überleben Zünden Bushcraft Ferro Rod Fire Starter is the best one you can buy because it is designed to provide more than 12,000 spark-making strikes for reliable fire making every time. Here are some more of our top picks: 

Read the original article on Business Insider

What is Shazam? Here's what you need to know about the music-identification app

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:52pm
The Shazam app matches the digital fingerprint of an audio to a database of millions of tracks.
  • Shazam is an app that can identify music and TV shows by listening to a short sample of their audio.
  • To use Shazam, simply tap the Shazam button in the app or activate it through Siri on an Apple device.
  • Once a song or TV show is identified, Shazam displays additional information and sharing options.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

For those moments when you hear music and want to know what song you're hearing and who plays it, Shazam can help. The music recognition app has been helping people identify songs since 2002. In those days, people had to dial 2580 and hold their phone up to the music. Users were then sent a message with the song information. 

In 2008, Shazam was one of the first apps to be available in Apple's App Store. In 2011, it added TV programs and ads to its database.

These days, all you need to do to use Shazam is open the app and tap the Shazam logo or use the service through Siri. 

How Shazam works

All it takes to identify a song or TV show on Shazam is a tap of the screen, and it can feel a little bit like magic when the app identifies what you're listening to in just a few seconds. You can also activate Siri on an Apple device and ask Shazam to identify the relevant audio source that's playing. 

Shazam revealed what actually happens when you tap to Shazam: First, Shazam creates a digital fingerprint of the audio picked up from your device's microphone. Then, it matches the digital fingerprint to a database containing millions of music tracks and TV shows. Once it finds a match, Shazam displays the name of the song and artist or TV show, plus additional information like lyrics, sharing options, and more.

After you tap the Shazam icon in the app, Shazam creates a digital fingerprint of the audio and gets to work. Devices that support Shazam

The Shazam app is available to download for iOS and Android devices. It's also available for the Apple Watch, Android Wear, and Macs. Shazam has been built into Siri on Apple devices since 2018, after Apple acquired the company

Shazam app features

Shazam does more than tell you the name of the TV show, song, or artist you're listening to. 

The app shows you lyrics in real time so you can sing along, plus top songs by the same artist, other albums by the artist, music videos, suggestions for similar songs you may like, and track information. 

Shazam offers sharing options for social media apps, email, and text messages, and options to open the song in Apple Music or Spotify, or buy it on iTunes. You can also add songs you find on Shazam to Apple Music or Spotify playlists.

The app automatically saves the songs you Shazam so that you can refer back to them later in the library tab.

If you use Shazam without an internet connection, the app will still create a digital fingerprint of the audio, which it will match to the Shazam database the next time your device has an internet connection.

Auto Shazam is a feature that allows Shazam to automatically identify the songs and TV shows playing around you, even when you're using other apps. To activate Auto Shazam, tap and hold the Shazam button. To turn it off, just tap the Shazam button.

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

Warnock and Ossoff are sworn into office, officially handing Democrats control of the Senate for the first time since 2015

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:51pm
Sens. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, left, Alex Padilla of California, center, and Jon Ossoff of Georgia, right, were sworn into office by Vice President Kamala Harris on January 20.
  • Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia were both sworn into office on Wednesday.
  • The senators were sworn into office by Vice President Kamala Harris.
  • Their wins give Democrats control of the Senate for the first time since 2015.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia were both sworn into office on Wednesday, a landmark achievement that gives Democrats their first Senate majority since 2015 and paves the way for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to advance their legislative agenda.

Warnock and Ossoff, the first Black and Jewish senators to represent Georgia, respectively, were sworn into office by Harris, who just hours earlier became the first Black, South Asian, and female vice president in US history.

In winning their races, Warnock and Ossoff defeated Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, a stunning blow to the Georgia GOP, which for years possessed an ironlike grip over statewide elections.

With the Senate evenly divided between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, Harris, who now presides over the chamber that she served in for four years, will have a pivotal tiebreaking vote that gives Democrats unified control of the federal government for the first time since 2011.

Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of California, Harris's successor in the Senate, was also sworn into office on Wednesday, becoming the state's first Latino senator.

For Warnock and Ossoff, their long road to the Senate involved reshaping conventional wisdom of how Democrats could compete in a fast-growing but still conservative-dominated Deep South state.

Warnock, the 51-year-old Black pastor of the famed Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, which Martin Luther King Jr. once led, engaged with Black voters of faith, suburban voters, and rural voters whom many in the party had long failed to activate.

Ossoff, who at 33 years old is the first millennial senator, followed a similar electoral path, campaigning with Warnock as a joint ticket as they crisscrossed territory that was formerly part of the Democratic coalition but had shifted to the GOP over the past 20 years.

Read more: How full Democratic control of Washington DC could transform real estate

The electoral breakthroughs for Democrats had been a long time coming in a state where the GOP has held the governor's mansion since 2003 and control of both Senate seats since 2005.

After disappointing Senate and gubernatorial campaigns over most of the past 18 years, Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, came within 55,000 votes, or 1.4 percentage points, of winning the race over now GOP Gov. Brian Kemp.

Biden in November became the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state since Bill Clinton's 1992 victory.

In a November special election, Warnock emerged with the most votes, with Loeffler coming in second place, in a multicandidate primary that included members of all parties. But no candidate received at least 50% of the vote.

While Perdue won more votes than Ossoff in their separate Senate race, Ossoff held Perdue below 50%.

In accordance with Georgia law, the winner of any statewide election must earn at least 50% of the vote, so both contests headed to dual January runoffs.

Democrats, fresh off Biden's presidential win, continued to organize and focus on turning out early voters, while state Republicans like Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger spent weeks fighting against internal party divisions and President Donald Trump's debunked claims that he won the state in the presidential election.

It appeared to make all the difference.

Warnock and Ossoff, sons of a state that was once part of the Confederacy and served as a center of the civil-rights movement, are the newest members of the Senate.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best hand soaps of 2021

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:51pm
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Editor's note: A previous version of this guide included an antibacterial soap but it's since been removed due to the FDA's recommendation that plain soap and water is best for cleansing your hands. Though the FDA notes that there isn't enough science to show the efficacy of antibacterial soaps, other studies do suggest they're not nearly as effective.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website states that "handwashing saves lives," calling good hand hygiene "like a do-it-yourself vaccine" against myriad ailments. This is important, particularly with COVID-19, as it can help prevent viruses from spreading, according to current CDC guidelines.  

It's important to make sure you're washing your hands the right way.

It's estimated that 97% of people fail to wash their hands properly. To ensure you're not one of them, follow this simple protocol recommended by Tania Mucci-Elliott, MD, Clinical Instructor at NYU's Grossman School of Medicine: wet, lather, scrub for twenty seconds, rinse, dry. To make sure you hit 20 seconds, many recommend singing a song to hold yourself accountable. There are plenty of popular songs with 20-second choruses to keep this exciting.

Any decent hand soap will kill off most of the germs on your skin - Mucci-Elliott said that plain soap and water will work just fine. According to both the FDA and the CDC, there isn't enough science to show that over-the-counter antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than plain soap and water.

Check out our expert-backed advice on how to disinfect every room in your house here (bonus points if you use our top picks for reusable cleaning products) And, these 17 products can help you do just that.

We advise against the stockpiling of hand soap beyond reason so everyone can get fair access to the supplies they need; see why two experts say that's more harmful than helpful here.

Here are our picks for the best hand soapUpdated on 01/20/2021 by Victoria Giardina: Included our top pick for best luxury hand soap and linked to related buying guides. In light of the ongoing pandemic, we will continue to update our hand soap picks and include important health information provided by medical experts. This article was reviewed by Tania Mucci-Elliott, MD, who specializes in infectious diseases related to allergy and immunology for internal medicine at NYU Langone Health.

 

The best hand soap overall If you want to avoid harsh chemicals, then a bottle of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Hand Soap is the way to wash.

Pros: 98% naturally derived ingredients, great scent, earth-friendly brand

Cons: May leave skin feeling dry

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Hand Soap is not actually an organic or even a 100% natural product, but it's made using 98% naturally derived ingredients, and that's pretty darn close. Also, if you want truly clean hands, as in hands that are free of dirt and grime as well as microbes, you really do want to allow a bit of chemical cleaning.

The unique, refreshing scents of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Hand Soaps will invigorate you even as the soap lifts away dirt and kills off germs, and the aloe vera and olive oil used in some of the formulas will leave your fresh-smelling skin hydrated and nourished, too. Those that lack these ingredients can be a bit drying, but not so much that it's a cause for concern.

What you won't find here are parabens, phthalates, artificial colors, or animal testing. Also, the bottle is partially made with recycled plastics, so that's nice, too.

Mrs. Meyer's liquid hand soaps lather up quickly, and the scents left behind are mild but lingering. How do I know all that? Well, you'll hear later in the article about how we use Method in one of our bathrooms. Guess what brand you'll find in another? Yeah, you guessed right: This one.

The best hand soap on a budget Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap smells good and cleans well, but what really counts here is the low price.

Pros: Low price, does not leave a residue, trusted brand

Cons: Scent too cloying for some people

The first thing you'll notice about a bottle of Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap is that it's larger than most other hand soap dispensers. While a common size is 7.5 ounces, these bottles hold 11.25 fluid ounces of soap. Second, you'll notice that when you order a six-pack of these soaps, you pay about $2.30 per unit, a common price for pre-filled soap dispensers. So do the math, and you'll realize that you're effectively getting 16 ounces of soap for free thanks to the large bottle size.

In case that was confusing, let me be clear: This is cheap hand soap. But it's cheap in price only. Softsoap is trusted by families, schools, offices, and other locations all around America not only because of its price but also because it works well. That claim is backed up by dermatologist testing.

As for the aromas, some people find it a bit too intense, but most people love them. I know I do — I've used this stuff countless times.

The best moisturizing hand soap Every time you use Jergens Extra Moisturizing Cherry-Almond Hand Wash, your hands will enjoy the cleanliness and moisturizing you get from this soap.

Pros: Highly moisturizing, gentle cleansing, good price point

Cons: Smell off-putting to some

I'm not a huge fan of lotions, to be honest. In fact, I kind of hate the way creams feel on my hands, and I avoid using them as much as possible. But I'm also no fan of dry skin. Thus you can imagine my pleasant surprise when my wife introduced me to Jergens Extra Moisturizing Cherry-Almond Hand Wash. And by "introduced" I mean that's the stuff that happened to be in her bathroom all those years back when we were dating.

This stuff is hand soap first and foremost: It cleans the grease or grime off your hands and kills off germs in the process. But it is infused with Jergens moisturizing lotion and leaves your hands feeling supple and nourished, yet without that vaguely oily, clammy feeling that lotion leaves behind when used on its own.

So whether you hate applying lotion to your hands after washing or if you don't much mind it but would just as soon save time and make cleaning and moisturizing a one-step process, this stuff a great go-to.

Truth be told, I'm not a fan of the scent, but I love the hydrated skin without the need for lotion application.

The best foaming hand soap One pump of Method Foaming Hand Soap is all you'll need to quickly work up a rich, cleansing lather that will leave your hands refreshed and smelling great.

Pros: Lathers up quickly, great scent, handsome and effective dispenser

Cons: Bottle does not last as long as traditional liquid soap

In my house, we use Method dish soap, we've used Method laundry detergent, and in one of the bathrooms, we use Method Foaming Hand Soap. Why only in one? Because our son loves the smell of some soaps and hates others.

Frankly, I'm not a huge fan of foaming hand soaps — I prefer the good old liquid kind — but I readily admit that a big dollop of foamy soap lathers up quickly, and I certainly like the fresh, crisp scent of this soap.

I also appreciate the fact that Method Foaming Hand Soap is absent of alcohol, aluminum, parabens, and phthalates, and that the formula includes aloe and vitamin E. Also, there's an elegant simplicity to the design of Method hand soap dispensers that looks good there in the bathroom or beside the kitchen sink.

The best luxury hand soap Using Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash leaves hands feeling moisturized and supple but genuinely imparts nutrients into the skin.

Pros: Wonderful scent, nourishing formula, aesthetic bottle design

Cons: More expensive, yet lasts for a while 

Alright, let's address the elephant in the room right away: Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash is expensive. It sells for about $37 a bottle, in fact. But one 17-ounce bottle will last a single user for many weeks or even months depending on the frequency of use.

The rich, potent, but never cloying aroma of this soap, a scent blending mandarin orange, rosemary, and cedar, will delight you every time you smell it. As for how your hands will feel after washing with this pricey elixir?

Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash is formulated with skin-suppling ingredients that can rejuvenate hands dried out by climate, work, or age, leaving skin feeling better and better the more often it's used. And again, that scent.

Check out our other cleaning supplies guides Read the original article on Business Insider

Read National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman's poignant poem 'The Hill We Climb'

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:34pm
National youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman recites her inaugural poem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday. "The Hill We Climb" by Amanda Gorman: 

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry a sea we must wade.

We've braved the belly of the beast.

We've learned that quiet isn't always peace.

And the norms and notions of what just is isn't always justice.

And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it.

Somehow we do it. Somehow we've weathered and witnessed a nation that isn't broken, but simply unfinished.

We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn't mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.

We are striving to forge our union with purpose.

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.

We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.

We seek harm to none and harmony for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.

That even as we grieved, we grew.

That even as we hurt, we hoped.

That even as we tired, we tried, that will forever be tied together victorious.

Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid.

If we're to live up to our own time, then victory won't lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we've made.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare.

It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It's the past we step into and how we repair it.

We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it. It would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.

This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception.

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.

But within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves so while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?

Now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold, fierce, and free.

We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.

Our blunders become their burdens, but one thing is certain.

If we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children's birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left with.

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the West.

We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.

We will rise from the sun-baked South.

We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.

When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light.

If only we're brave enough to see it. If only we're brave enough to be it.

Watch Gorman recite the poem here:

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

How the Navy's 'Hell Week' reveals who has what it takes to be a SEAL

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:33pm
US Navy SEAL candidates during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, California, January 23, 2018.
  • For aspiring Navy SEALs, the selection process, known as Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S), is a six-month series of challenges for their skills and endurance.
  • Maybe the most trying period is "Hell Week," a six-day gauntlet of constant exertion that shrinks their ranks and reveals what they're made of.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training is a six-month selection process and the gateway into the Navy's SEAL Teams.

Broken into three phases (First Phase, Second Phase, Third Phase), BUD/S has an attrition rate of between 70% and 85%. The complete SEAL pipeline attrition rate - from the moment someone walks into the recruiter's office to the end of advanced qualification training - is over 90%.

First Phase is the basic conditioning part of BUD/S. Students learn to work as a team under increasingly difficult physical and mental conditions, with 4-mile timed runs, obstacle course timed runs, and 2-mile timed swims determining who stays and who goes. This phase is where most students' dream of becoming a SEAL ends. This is also where Hell Week takes place.

Second Phase is the dive part of BUD/S, where students are introduced to basic combat diver operations. The pool competence test in this phase is arguably the second-hardest event during BUD/S, after Hell Week.

Third Phase is the land warfare part of BUD/S. Students receive basic training in marksmanship, explosives, land navigation, and small-unit tactics. It mostly takes place on California's San Clemente Island.

Hell Week BUD/S class 245 students during a Hell Week surf drill evolution with a SEAL instructor, in Coronado, April 15, 2003.

Hell Week takes place during the fourth week of First Phase. (The exact time in the training has shifted several times during BUD/S's history.)

Hell Week lasts almost six days - Sunday evening to Friday morning - during which students run more than 200 miles, often with boats on their heads, swim, do hours of physical training with logs, and numerous other brutal evolutions. They are constantly wet, cold, and sandy and only get about four hours of sleep throughout the week.

During Hell Week, students are fed regularly and consume over 8,000 calories a day but still lose weight.

Some of Hell Week's events have been the same since its inception back in the days of the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) of World War II.

"My class started with 150 students, and when we got to Hell Week, 50-something remained," a former SEAL officer told Insider. "At the end of Hell Week, only 24 were there, some of them pretty beat up."

Breakout! Navy SEAL candidates during BUD/S training in Coronado, January 23, 2018.

On Sunday evening, the students move from their barracks to tents, bracing for the coming ordeal. Suddenly, thousands of machine-gun blanks and artillery simulators go off as "wolf packs" of instructors seek to shock and awe the students.

The next minutes involve hundreds of push-ups, sit-ups, flutter kicks, all while being wet and sandy. There are regular but controlled visits to the soul-chilling Pacific for "surf torture," where students lock arms and lie on the surf for minutes at a time. Hell Week or not, the cold claims a lot of students.

As the week progresses, the instructors put the students through a myriad of planned and impromptu events. Here are some of the staples:

Around the World: A roughly 12-hour boat race that involves miles of paddling. The fact that students are already hallucinating due to sleep deprivation adds a level of difficulty and humor. The winning crew gets some sleep, for as they say in BUD/S, "it pays to be a winner." The crews, however, are alone during this event, and the break from the unforgiving gaze of the instructors is a welcome one.

Mud Flats: About 15 hours of various events that take place in a mudflat close to the BUD/S compound. The mud invades every part of the students' bodies, encasing them in cold clay.

Base Tour: A miles-long run around the BUD/S compound while carrying 300-pound rubber boats on their heads. Students often lose hair where the boats rub their scalp.

BUD/S students training in Coronado, April 13, 2018.

After Wednesday night, instructors ease on the throttle - without telling the students, of course. Instructors often threaten classes with additional days of Hell Week because of poor performance. But at some point, both the instructors and students know that no one is quitting anymore.

It usually falls to the BUD/S commanding officer, a SEAL captain, to secure Hell Week on Friday.

In First Phase, students wear white shirts. But after completing Hell Week, they get the coveted brown shirt that distinguishes them from the those who haven't completed the hurdle.

"The intent behind Hell Week's craziness is to get down to a man's true stuff - his true identity. Only when you have barely slept for freaking five days plus, doing crazy evolutions throughout this whole time, while being wet and sandy, do you reveal your true colors," a former enlisted SEAL with time as an instructor told Insider.

It is fairly common for students to finish Hell Week with serious injuries, such as dislocated shoulders and broken ankles, legs, and wrists. Extreme chaffing is another one.

Navy SEAL candidates participate in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, California, January 23, 2018.

Rolling back in training isn't uncommon. Students often get rolled back because of medical or performance issues. It's considered a small point of pride - and luck - in the community for a student to finish with his original class. But it's possible to get roll backed even after finishing Hell Week.

For example, if a student fails the four allotted attempts for the Pool Comp test in Second Phase, he can be rolled back to Day One of BUD/S and have to redo Hell Week. (Instructors have sometimes waived Hell Week for two- or three-time rollbacks.)

"Hell Week boils down to essentially one thing - trust. Can I trust you to perform under the most extreme circumstances? Are you still a team player when everything around you is going up in flames? Hell Week does a pretty good job at revealing if a person falls into that box," added the former SEAL instructor. "It is a gut check, plain and simple. We break them down to see if it's worth building them up."

After Hell Week, those who have survived go through what it's called the "Walk Week," essentially a low-intensity week with active recovery activities that offer students an opportunity to begin healing.

After all, another 4-mile timed run is waiting just around the corner.

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (National Service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A notorious prison called 'Sailor's Silence' is being used to jail Putin critic Alexei Navalny

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:22pm
Alexei Navalny appears in a video published by his anti-corruption organization on January 18, 2021.
  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sent to a notorious prison named "Matrosskaya Tishina," or "Sailor's Silence," upon his return back to the country.
  • Navalny is being held in a three-person cell for VIPs in Sailor's Silence in Moscow, according to Reuters, where political prisoners have been jailed.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sent to a notorious prison named "Matrosskaya Tishina," or "Sailor's Silence," upon his return back to the country and as he released a bombshell look at an opulent palace he says secretly belongs to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Navalny, 44, returned to the country after being poisoned by a nerve agent on a flight that he alleged originated from a government-backed agent. Despite labs from several European countries confirming Navalny had been poisoned, Russia's government has denied the charge and refused to launch an criminal investigation.

After being poisoned, Navalny was transported to a hospital in Germany where he spent the next five months recovering. The outspoken Putin critic and anticorruption campaigner was sentenced to 30 days in prison and immediately detained upon arrival. 

Navalny is being held in a three-person cell in Sailor's Silence in Moscow, according to Reuters, where political prisoners have been jailed.

"I'd read about it (the prison) in books and now I'm here," Navalny reportedly said on Instagram. "Russian life."

A Russian prison watchdog group said Navalny had amenities like a refrigerator, an electric kettle, a television, and hot water, according to Reuters.

But critics and watchdog groups are still raising alarms for the prison's reputation. Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year-old tax attorney who uncovered a government corruption scheme, died in 2009 after being denied medical attention in the prison. Magnitsky was reportedly beaten by prison guards and held in inhumane conditions. 

A posthumous trial by a Russian court found Magnitsky guilty of tax evasion. His name was later used for the US's Magnitsky Act in 2012 to sanction human rights offenders.

"The motto of this central Kremlin prison is isolation from information," Marina Litvinovich, a member of a prison watchdog group, told Reuters. "It's about control and isolation."

On Tuesday, an anti-corruption foundation founded by Navalny released a bombshell report alleging Putin funded a lavish $1 billion mansion through bribes. A Russian government spokesperson described the report as "pure nonsense."

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to find and join groups on the Telegram messaging app, with or without an invite link

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:22pm
It's easy to join Telegram groups from the mobile app or desktop program.

Telegram is a cloud-based messaging app with the option for end-to-end encryption.

You can use Telegram to send messages with just a few people, or with groups of up to 200,000 members. 

There are two ways to join a group. One is by clicking on a link. The other is by seeking out and joining a specific group.

How to join a Telegram group from an invite link

1. To start, you must already have a Telegram account. You can join a group either from the app or on a desktop program.

2. When somebody sends you a link, click on it. It will start with https://t.me/ (for example, https://t.me/AppleUsersGroup).

3. The link will open in your Telegram app. Tap on "Join Group" to join it.

Click on "Join Group" at the bottom of the chat. How to find and join a Telegram Group without an invite link

Many websites and entities have public groups and channels. A group is a chat run by one person, or a few people, that allows up to 200,000 members.

1. To find a group, the best place to start is by searching the web for groups that match your interests. https://Tdirectory.me is a great resource for finding groups.

There are many online resources for finding Telegram groups, such as the site Tdirectory.me.

2. When you find a group you want to join, click on it and click "Join Group" on the group's About page in the Telegram app. If it's a private group, you'll have to click on a link asking to be approved before you can join.

You can click on "Join Group" through this directory and (if necessary) follow the prompt to join the group in the Telegram app.

3. Once you've been approved, the group will then show up in your Telegram chats.

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

What is Citizen? The controversial app for safety alerts and crime tracking, explained

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:10pm
Citizen notifies you about suspected crimes in the area.
  • Citizen is a smartphone app that alerts you when crimes, emergencies, and other potentially dangerous events happen in your area.
  • Events reported by Citizen are taken automatically from recent 911 calls, but users near the scene are encouraged to upload videos and pictures of what's going on.
  • Although some have praised Citizen for keeping people aware of danger, others have criticized the app and its comment sections for fostering paranoia and racism.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

In 2016, the New York-based corporation sp0n, Inc. launched an app called Vigilante. The supposed purpose of the app, based on the marketing that sp0n released for it, was to allow ordinary people to report on local crimes in their area and broadcast live video from the scene - possibly deterring the criminals in the process.

Vigilante was eventually removed from app stores for encouraging people to put themselves in harm's way for content.

Fast forward a few years, and sp0n has replaced that app with a new version called Citizen. Citizen has made a few changes to the formula, including constant messages about not putting yourself in danger when reporting crimes. 

Other than that, though, Citizen is basically the same: An app for keeping aware of crime in your neighborhood, and reporting on it if you're nearby.

Here's everything to know about Citizen, including its purpose, uses, and the criticisms of it.

Citizen is built to keep users aware of danger in their area

There's an app for everything these days, including police scanners - and at its core, that's essentially what Citizen is, too. 

Citizen's base function is to give users real-time notifications about crime, accidents, and other sorts of dangerous events in their area. All the notifications are taken from real 911 calls, although only a fraction of all calls in your area actually make it onto the app.

Citizen aims to keep people informed about crimes and other incidents in their area.

The app can also give you information about other events, like road closures or police activity - if you want to know why a certain street is closed, or why there's a helicopter flying overhead, all you need to do is check the Citizen app and you'll likely have your answer.

These real-time updates can be incredibly helpful if you've seen an incident and want to know what's happening. Citizen has also started participating in COVID-19 contact tracing, allowing users to know right away when they've had a possible exposure so that they can take the necessary precautions.

The app has started giving users stats on local COVID-19 cases.

According to their website, Citizen alerts go out hours faster than AMBER alerts, which means people can be on the lookout for missing children hours earlier - which can and has actually worked for spotting missing persons in the past.

The live video feature of the app also means that people can see what is going on at the scene of a crime, emergency, or other event as it unfolds - no more waiting for the nightly news to come on for more information.

You can record live video from anywhere - even if you're not near an ongoing event.

This also means that it's possible to get more points of view, and therefore more information about what transpired. Activists, for example, have taken to the app for its ability to record and transmit protest activity, and hold counter-protestors accountable for their actions.

sp0n, Inc. has even marketed the app as a solution for police brutality, saying that users can record police officers behaving badly and report it on the app.

However, despite these features, not everyone believes that Citizen is a force for good.

Critics of Citizen accuse the app of fostering racist attitudes and unwarranted paranoia

Despite the potential uses Citizen has, many critics have pointed out issues with the platform.

The first complaint goes back to when the app was called Vigilante: That the app encourages people to go towards crime scenes so that they can film them, rather than stay away from them. Safety experts and police departments alike have given warnings about the danger of this.

There are other objections to the app as well - Philadelphia activist Reuben Jones, for example, told Philadelphia Magazine that he worries that the ability for someone to see crime reports for any area at any time will create a sort of crime voyeurism network, and "stigmatize a whole community and put a whole bunch of people under additional scrutiny."

Not only that, but there are others who worry that constant notifications of crime in one's own area will create paranoia and anxiety - even for those who live in safe neighborhoods. 

Some worry that constant Citizen notifications can cause or increase anxiety and paranoia.

It should also be noted that since Citizen allows users to comment on any crime or incident as it's being reported, the app has notably become a host to racist comments

Whether Citizen can help users more than hurt them remains to be seen. For now, at least, the app is gaining popularity, and spreading into more cities year-by-year. As it expands, the debate surrounding the app - which is inextricably linked to larger discussions of criminal justice reform in the US - will likely keep going.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:
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The uncoordinated response from law enforcement during the deadly insurrection reveal the flawed perception of who presents a threat

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 2:58am
A pro-Trump mob is seen after breaching the Capitol building on Wednesday.
  • Capitol police officers failed at keeping pro-Trump rioters from breaching the US Capitol building as lawmakers convened to certify the results of the 2020 election.
  • Law enforcement experts said the uncoordinated Capitol Police response reveal their flawed perception of whom they consider a threat.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Thousands of pro-Trump protesters successfully breached the US Capitol building on January 6, forcing lawmakers to take cover as they voted on certifying the 2020 election results.

Capitol Police were overwhelmed with rioters as they pushed past barriers and into the Capitol - in part from a lack of reinforcements and an uncoordinated response to the worst breach of the building since 1814.

Some critics contrasted the police response to the Capitol siege to that of the Black Lives Matter protests, including former first lady Michelle Obama.

"There's one question I just can't shake: What if these rioters had looked like the folks who go to Ebenezer Baptist Church every Sunday? What would have been different?" Obama said in a statement in response to the violent insurrection.

"I think we all know the answer," she said.

Though direct comparisons between police response to the two protests are difficult to make given the different settings and circumstances, Jack Glaser, professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, told Business Insider that disparity lies at a "systemic level."

"I would feel more confident saying that there was something going on here at the systemic level, at the leadership level, with respect to who they expect to be violent and who they care about, or who they are more likely to defer to and try to give the benefit of the doubt to," Glaser, who studies racial bias and how it operates in policing, said.

"If officers only think that they're threatened by black people, that makes them very vulnerable to white people," he continued, "and I think this case, the Capitol insurrection, was a glaring example of that - they underestimate the threat coming from white agitators at their peril."

Read more:'It was degrading': Black Capitol custodial staff talk about what it felt like to clean up the mess left by violent pro-Trump white supremacists

Tom Nolan, associate professor of sociology at Emmanuel College who previously worked with the Boston Police Department, said the response of the Capitol Police failed to meet his expectations.

Nolan, who has nearly 30 years of experience in law enforcement, told Insider that the Capitol Police's failure to keep the rioters from breaching the building raises questions on why it was allowed to happen, especially given the public planning of the protests-turned-insurrection via social media.

"I think it's certainly fair to question why the Capitol Police didn't take it as seriously as they should have," he said.

He added that the disparity in police response to the Black Lives Matter protests and the Capitol siege could lie in that the officers may have felt "at some level" that "the people who were coming into protests were in some way kindred spirits."

"I think that law enforcement saw a group of largely white men, protesters, who very closely resembled in appearance, the members of the Capitol Police, I thought, in carrying Blue Lives Matter flags and the Thin Blue Line patches that we saw," he said.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest in the US Capitol Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.

Last week, President Donald Trump became the first president to be impeached for inciting the violence that ensued on the Capitol. The impeachment vote was the most bipartisan in in US history - with 10 Republicans voting to impeach the president.

A number of GOP lawmakers, however, voted against impeaching the president. Some who voted against impeachment feared for their safety and that of their families, according to a Democratic colleague.

Glaser said, although he sees "a lot of very strong negative reaction" to the insurrection, it worries him to see that "there is a fair amount of rationalization and appeasement that makes me worried that it's going to be seen as a quasi-legitimate way to respond to an election result that you don't like or some kind of governmental shift that you don't like."

"And in that sense, it's very much an act of terrorism," he said. "It is a violent act that's intended to change a political outcome, and that's classic terrorism."

Aside from his worries, Glaser said he does think the Capitol siege could "move the needle" in how policing is conducted, because "it's much harder to explain to police officers and leaders that, statistically, white men pose a comparable threat to them as black men and Hispanic men do because statistics are just not palpable."

"So when you have a really vivid example like this - of a mob of white people beating police officers - I think that that has the potential to, you know, stick in their memories better and to change their views," he continued.

Expanded Coverage Module: Capitol-Siege-ModuleRead the original article on Business Insider

Wisconsin pharmacist accused of removing vaccine doses from clinic fridge charged with a misdemeanor

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 1:42am
  • According to new court filings, Steven Brandenburg was charged with a Class A misdemeanor at his hearing at the Ozaukee County Circuit Court on Tuesday.
  • Brandenburg had intentionally removed 550 doses of the Moderna vaccine from a clinic refrigerator where he worked in Wisconsin. 
  • Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol elaborated that the nature of the charges against Brandenburg may change, depending on whether the vaccines removed are deemed to be ineffective.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Steven Bradenburg, the Wisconsin pharmacist accused of tampering with vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, has been charged with a misdemeanor, according to new court filings.

Brandenburg was arrested on December 31 by the Grafton Police Department after an internal investigation by his employer Advocate Aurora Health concluded that he had "intentionally" removed 550 doses of the Moderna vaccine from a clinic refrigerator where he worked. 

Advocate Aurora Health initially claimed the pharmacist's actions were "human error" but later moved to fire the employee and alert authorities after deeming the actions intentional.

In custody, Brandenburg, an avowed conspiracy theorist, told authorities that he believed conspiracy theories about the vaccine and believed that the world was "crashing down." 

Brandenburg had admitted to purposely removing the vials from refrigeration at the Grafton medical center overnight on December 24, and again on the night of December 25. 

According to online court filings, Brandenburg was charged with a Class A misdemeanor during his hearing at the Ozaukee County Circuit Court on Tuesday, and he could be sentenced to up to nine months in prison, fined $10,000, or face both punishments.

Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol elaborated that the nature of the charges against Brandenburg may change, depending on whether the vaccines removed are deemed to be ineffective.

At a press conference earlier this month, Aurora CEO Jeff Bahr said that clinic workers were forced to throw out more than 500 doses.

In court Tuesday, Gerol said, "The best evidence at this point is that the vaccine remains viable."

The Moderna vaccine vials can stay at room temperature for up to 12 hours and must be stored at 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

"I included a quote from the resident expert within my criminal complaint," Gerol added, according to WUWM. "That said, it is being sent to Moderna for further testing. If something were to come up, then the charges might change." 

Brandenburg's pharmaceutical license was also stripped by the state last week, according to the Associated Press

Brandenburg pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, and his next court date is set for March 18.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump issues 73 pardons and 70 commutations in a final wave of executive clemency grants before leaving office

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 1:05am
President Donald Trump
  • President Trump issued 73 pardons and 70 commutations on Tuesday as one of his final actions in office.
  • Trump was criticized for bypassing the DOJ review process that decides who gets executive clemency.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump issued more than 140 pardons and commutations late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, as one of his final acts before he leaves office on Wednesday.

The Washington Post reported that Trump and close aides, including his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, drew up the list during a Sunday meeting in the Oval Office. The New York Times reported that Ivanka sent the final list to the White House counsel's office for approval and that the Justice Department's pardon office, which typically reviews who gets executive clemency grants, was not included in the process.

Several people on the list include:

  • Former chief strategist Steve Bannon will be pardoned
  • Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will be granted a commutation
  • Rapper Lil Wayne will be granted a commutation
  • Rapper Kodak Black will be granted clemency a commutation
  • Former RNC finance chair Elliott Broidy will be pardoned

However, a number of individuals speculated to receive a pardon or commutation did not appear on the president's final list, including Rudy Giuliani, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Joe Exotic.

According to The Times, Trump came to his decision on including those individuals after consulting with the criminal justice advocacy group #Cut50, the former Koch Industries executive Mark Holden, and Alice Johnson, a criminal justice reform advocate who was convicted on drug trafficking charges and sentenced to life in prison before Trump commuted her sentence and later granted her a full pardon.

Before the White House announced the latest pardons and commutations, a source told CNN that some Trump allies believe many of the recipients were people the president expects to enjoy beneficial relationships with after he leaves office.

"Everything is a transaction," the source told CNN. "He likes pardons because it is unilateral. And he likes doing favors for people he thinks will owe him."

Last month, Trump pardoned 46 people and commuted the sentences of eight others. The list featured several people who had personal connections to the president. Others were not directly tied to Trump, but right-wing media figures had aggressively lobbied for their pardons.

Names on the list included:

  • George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign foreign policy aide who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the Mueller probe.
  • Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the Mueller probe.
  • Roger Stone, a Republican strategist who was convicted in the Mueller probe of multiple felony counts of making false statements, obstruction, and witness tampering.
  • Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was convicted of eight counts of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to report foreign bank accounts, and who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction.
  • Charles Kushner, Jared's father and a former real estate businessman who pleaded guilty in 2005 to 16 counts of tax evasion, one count of retaliating against a federal witness, and one count of lying to the Federal Election Commission.
  • Former Republican congressman Steve Stockman, who was convicted on 23 counts of fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and false statements.
  • Former Republican congressman Chris Collins, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI and conspiring to commit securities fraud
  • Former Republican congressman Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds.
  • Four former Blackwater guards convicted in connection to the massacre of more than a dozen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square in 2007.
  • Two former Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting and injuring an unarmed undocumented immigrant in 2006.

In November, the president also pardoned his former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI as part of the Mueller probe.

The president is granted extraordinarily broad pardon powers under the Constitution. But Trump has drawn significant scrutiny for circumventing the lengthy legal and ethical review process at the Justice Department that determines who gets executive clemency.

Instead, the vast majority of the president's most high-profile pardons and commutations have gone to his friends and loyalists, or to others whose names were suggested by conservative media powerhouses, such as Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News.

This story is breaking. Check back for updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Billionaire Jack Ma appears to have resurfaced in a quick 50-second videoconference clip, according to Chinese-owned media

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 12:24am
In October, Ma publicly criticized China's banking rules.

Chinese billionaire businessman Jack Ma appeared during a videoconference on Wednesday after weeks of speculation about his whereabouts, according to a 50-second clip released by the Global Times, a Chinese government-owned  English-language newspaper. 

In the video call, Ma, who used to be an English teacher, spoke to 100 rural teachers across China as a part of his Jack Ma Rural Teachers Award ceremony, which recognizes outstanding teachers in impoverished and remote areas.

"Recently, my colleagues and I have been studying and thinking. We made a firmer resolution to devote ourselves to education philanthropy," Ma said in the video, according to Bloomberg. "Working hard for rural revitalization and common prosperity is the responsibility for our generation of businessmen."

A spokesperson for the Jack Ma Foundation told Insider that Ma participated in the online ceremony of the annual Rural Teacher Initiative event on January 20, but the time and date of the video have not been independently verified.

Questions began swirling about Ma's whereabouts after the Alibaba and Ant Group founder failed to appear on the finale of the African talent show he created. Yahoo Finance reported on January 4 that Ma hadn't been seen publicly in more than two months.

—Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 20, 2021

China has been cracking down on the tech mogul's business empire in recent months. 

In late December, Chinese regulators launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba, the country's biggest e-commerce company, sometimes referred to as "the Amazon of China." And in November, China introduced regulations that halted what would have been a massive initial public offering for Ant Group, Ma's fintech company.

In October, the 56-year-old Alibaba founder had publicly criticized China's financial regulatory system at a conference in Shanghai. The next month, Ma was replaced as a judge on the African talent show he founded, "Africa's Business Heroes." An Alibaba representative told Insider that Ma could no longer be on the judging panel, which was filmed in November but has not yet been released, "due to a scheduling conflict."

Earlier this month, CNBC reporter David Faber said it was unlikely that Ma was "captured" by the Chinese state but that he was likely lying low in Hangzhou, where Alibaba is based. Ma stepped down as Alibaba's chairman in 2019. But in the past, prominent businessmen including retired real-estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang and asset manager Xiao Jianhua have disappeared from public life after facing criticism from Chinese regulators, as Insider's Allana Akhtar reported.

Until recently, Ma was China's richest man, with a fortune of more than $60 billion. But Ma has lost billions over the past few months as China has tightened the rules for the fintech industry. Ma is now worth $52.9 billion, making him the fourth-richest person in China, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

A representative for Ant Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment. An Alibaba spokesperson referred Insider to the statement from the Jack Ma Foundation.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Google says it is investigating an AI ethicist for sharing sensitive documents, amid bristling tensions between employees and leadership

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 11:52pm
  • Google says it has locked out one of its lead AI ethicists from her corporate account due to an investigation into her recent actions.
  • A Google spokesperson said Margaret Mitchell's account "had exfiltrated thousands of files and shared them with multiple external accounts."
  • Sources say Mitchell was reprimanded by management on Tuesday and locked out of her corporate account and email, but has not been fired.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Google has suspended the corporate account of Margaret Mitchell, a lead on its ethical AI team, claiming she downloaded and shared sensitive documents with external accounts.

A Google spokesperson confirmed late on Tuesday that Mitchell's corporate access, including her work email, had been locked. 

The news was first reported by Dr. Timnit Gebru, who previously co-led Google's ethical AI division with Mitchell and left the company in December after she said she was fired.

"[Margaret's] not fired **yet**. But apparently they've told her she will be locked out for at least a few days," tweeted Gebru on Tuesday. A current employee, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not permitted to talk to the press, also told Business Insider that Mitchell had been reprimanded by management, but not fired.

A Google spokesperson confirmed Mitchell had been locked out of her corporate account and claimed it was because she had shared "thousands" of files with external accounts.

"Our security systems automatically lock an employee's corporate account when they detect that the account is at risk of compromise due to credential problems or when an automated rule involving the handling of sensitive data has been triggered. In this instance, yesterday our systems detected that an account had exfiltrated thousands of files and shared them with multiple external accounts. We explained this to the employee earlier today," they said.

"We are actively investigating this matter as part of standard procedures to gather additional details," the spokesperson said.

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

Mitchell has been vocal in criticizing Google over Gebru's ousting and its commitment to diversity and inclusion. Google continues to contest it fired Gebru, and says it instead accepted her resignation, but the debacle has aggravated tensions between employees and top brass.

Last week, Mitchell said in a tweet that she was compiling a document of "critical issues" from [Gebru's] firing, which would be shared with Jeff Dean and other Google leadership.

"I plan to share publicly everything me and @timnitGebru agree on. I believe it is the only way it will be taken seriously," she said.

Are you a current or former Googler with more to share? You can contact this reporter securely using the encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-628-228-1836) or encrypted email (hslangley@protonmail.com). Reach out using a nonwork device.

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Trump has reportedly pardoned his former chief strategist Steve Bannon

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 11:32pm
In November of 2020, Bannon was permanently suspended from Twitter after suggesting National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray should both be beheaded.
  • President Donald Trump has pardoned his former campaign CEO and chief strategist Steve Bannon, The New York Times reported.
  • The report said Bannon was a last-minute addition to the list of people Trump wanted to grant executive clemency to before his term ended.
  • Bannon was charged last year with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering connected to the We Build the Wall charity. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump has pardoned his former White House chief strategist and campaign CEO Steve Bannon, The New York Times reported late Tuesday, citing White House officials.

Sources told The Times Trump added Bannon to his list of executive clemency grants at the "last minute."

Bannon served as the Trump campaign's CEO near the end of the 2016 election and is widely considered one of the chief architects of Trump's early presidency.

After the election, Bannon was named chief strategist and senior counselor to the president, a role he held for eight months. He left in August 2017 to return to Breitbart, the conservative news website he co-founded in 2016. 

Following his stint with the president, he continued to grow his role in right-wing circles, launching a "political academy" in Italy. He also threw his support behind the We Build the Wall campaign, an initiative he devised along with Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea to use private donations to fund the border wall between Mexico and the United States.

The campaign raised more than $25 million for the project. But all four were later arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering. Prosecutors alleged that Bannon and others defrauded donors out of $25 million as part of a fundraising campaign they said was going toward building Trump's wall along the US's southern border with Mexico.

"As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction," acting Manhattan US attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement. "While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle."

Bannon was arrested in Westbrook, Connecticut on a luxury yacht owned by Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui. He pleaded not guilty. 

In November of 2020, Bannon was permanently suspended from Twitter after suggesting National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray should both be beheaded.

In recent days, Bannon reportedly returned to Trump's good graces. Trump sought Bannon's aid and suggestions in how he could potentially overturn the 2020 presidential election, according to Bloomberg.

Trump has not yet conceded the election to President-elect Joe Biden. On January 6, Trump's supporters staged a violent insurrection at the US Capitol that resulted in five deaths. The House of Representatives impeached the president for incitement of insurrection after the fact, and with ten Republicans siding with House Democrats, it was the most bipartisan impeachment vote in US history.

Bannon, meanwhile, joins a long list of Trump allies who have received pardons and commutations under this president's White House tenure. It's not unusual for presidents to issue higher numbers of executive clemency grants in the waning days of their terms, but Trump has drawn particular scrutiny for circumventing the typical Justice Department process that determines who gets a pardon or commutation.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump is considering starting the 'Patriot Party' after facing criticism from top Republicans over Capitol riot, The Wall Street Journal reports

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 10:28pm
Donald Trump is considering the launch of his own third party, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
  • Donald Trump may launch a new political party after leaving office, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Sources told the newspaper he would like to call it the "Patriot Party."
  • The report comes after Sen. Mitch McConnell blamed Trump for this month's riot at the US Capitol.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Embittered by critical comments from some top Republicans, outgoing President Donald Trump is considering a launch of a new third party, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Trump, with just hours left in his one-term presidency, would like to call it the "Patriot Party," The Journal reported, citing sources "familiar with the matter."

The report comes after Sen. Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the US Senate, delivered a speech Tuesday blaming Trump for this month's riot at the US Capitol.

"The mob was fed lies," he said. "They were provoked by the president and other powerful people."

It is unclear whether the effort would involve the recruitment and running of candidates or serve as a media and merchandise empire for the former president.

In 1968, George Wallace, the far-right segregationist governor of Alabama, won five states while running as the nominee of the American Independent Party. No third-party candidate has won a statewide federal election since, although a number of independents have been elected to Congress.

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

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11 members of the Gambino crime family pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, and obstruction of justice

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 10:01pm
Former US Attorney Rudolph Giuliani and FBI Director William Webster look at chart of "The Commission" of La Cosa Nostra during a press conference at which reputed godfathers of the nation's five most powerful Mafia families were indicted as overlords of "The Commission" in 1985.
  • Members of the Gambino crime family pleaded guilty to money laundering and wire fraud, the DOJ said. 
  • Some of the crimes were committed through CWC Contracting Corp, the family's carpentry company.
  • The defendants will pay over $1.6 million in penalties but have yet to be fully sentenced.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

11 members of the Gambino organized crime family recently pleaded guilty to a bevy of crimes including racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, and obstruction of justice, according to the Department of Justice

The Gambino crime family is one-fifth of the "five families" of New York's Italian-American mafia, also known as "La Cosa Nostra."

Andrew Campos, a 51-year-old captain in the Gambino crime family, and Vincent Fiore, a 58-year-old family soldier, pleaded guilty on Friday to racketeering conspiracy and other offenses. Prior to Campos and Fiore's pleas, another nine members of the Gambino crime family pleaded guilty in federal court. 

According to court filings, Campos and his team carried out fraudulent schemes in the construction industry through their operation of a carpentry company, CWC Contracting Corp. The DOJ is accusing the family of using the company to launder money and paid millions of dollars in cash bribes to employees without the required tax withholdings.

The DOJ further alleges that when Fiore became aware of a government investigation into CWC, he instructed a coworker to lie about his alleged misconduct, obstructing justice in the process.

John Simonlacaj was the managing director of development for CWC but is not a member of the Gambino family. He pleaded guilty to submitting a false tax return stemming from his involvement with the Gambino crime family.

"With these guilty pleas, a dozen members and associates of the Gambino crime family are held accountable for committing a litany of crimes in the construction industry that enriched the Mafia at the expense of the American taxpayer, construction companies harmed by their pernicious presence and the U.S. government," said Acting US Attorney Seth D. DuCharme. "The defendants will now have to pay the consequences for their corrupt activities."  

In 2004, Campos and Richard Martino were each charged in the Eastern District of New York for a bevy of offenses related to the Gambino crime family, according to court records. Following Martino's release from custody, prosecutors attempted to enforce the remaining asset forfeiture owed by Martino. The DOJ has accused Frank "Bones" Tarul of helping conceal Martino's "substantial wealth and income" from authorities.

A full list of guilty pleas from the Gambino crime family and associates are as follows:

  1. Renato "Ronny" Barca, Jr., family associate: Pleaded guilty to making false statements to the Department of Labor
  2. Andrew Campos, captain: Pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and admitted to participation in "predicate acts of wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice"
  3. George Campos, family soldier: Pleaded guilty to making false statements to the Department of Labor
  4. James Ciaccia, family soldier: Pleaded guilty to making false statements to the Department of Labor
  5. Carlos Cobos, Sr., family associate: Pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy
  6. Benito "Benny" Dizenzo, family associate: Pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy
  7. Vincent Fiore, family soldier: Pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and admitted to participation in "predicate acts of wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice"
  8. Mark "Chippy" Kocaj, family associate: Pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy
  9. Richard Martino, family soldier: Pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice
  10. Frank "Bones" Tarul, family associate: Pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice
  11. Michael "Perkins" Tarul, family associate: Pleaded guilty to making false statements to the Department of Labor
  12. John "John Si" or "Smiley" Simonlacaj, former managing director of development for CWC: Pleaded guilty to submitting a false tax return

In 2019, the reputed boss of the Gambino crime family, Francesco "Franky Boy" Cali, was murdered in front of his home in Staten Island. Cali is alleged to have been gunned down by Anthony Comello, a 24-year-old who expressed an affinity for the QAnon conspiracy. According to his attorney, he "ardently believed that Francesco Cali, a boss in the Gambino crime family, was a prominent member of the deep state."

Prosecutors have yet to sentence Simonlacaj and members of the Gambino crime family. Andrew Campos, Cobos, DiZenzo, Fiore, Kocaj, Martino, and Frank Tarul will face up to 20 years in prison while Michael Tarul, Ciaccia, George Campos, and Barca are facing up to three years in prison. The DOJ said the defendants will pay over $1.6 million in penalties.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Expensify CEO slams corporate America's response to the Capitol riots: 'Defending the free market does not mean standing by as people destroy it'

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 9:19pm
David Barrett.
  • Expensify CEO David Barrett slammed corporate America's response to the attacks on the US Capitol.
  • Barrett told Insider that defending free markets requires first defending democracy.
  • He also told Protocol most CEOs are "cowards" for refusing to take those stands.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As more companies publicly condemn the violent attacks on the US Capitol and pause their financial support for the lawmakers who helped fuel an attempted insurrection, Expensify CEO David Barrett has harsh words for the holdouts.

"Most CEOs, it's not that they're bad people, they're just cowards. They're like, 'yeah, I would like to take a stand, but I can't because of investors, customers and things like this,'" he told Protocol in an interview Tuesday.

"It basically comes down to, 'I care more about hitting the next quarter results than preventing a civil war,' which is so f---ed up. They're more afraid of their investors than they are of militants," Barrett said, according to Protocol.

Barrett gained attention in October when he emailed Expensify's 10 million customers urging them to vote for then-candidate Joe Biden, and defending the move by saying: "Expensify depends on a functioning society and economy; not many expense reports get filed during a civil war."

Read more: 'Anything less than a vote for Biden is a vote against democracy': Expensify's CEO tells us why the company emailed 10 million customers urging them to vote for Biden

The move stood in stark contrast to companies like Facebook, Google, and Coinbase that had sought to crack down on political discussions internally.

But Barrett told Insider in an interview Tuesday that when it comes to actions as extreme as the attempted insurrection earlier this month by supporters of President Donald Trump, or Republican lawmakers' attempts to overturn democratic election results, "we're all obligated to step in."

That's especially the case for business leaders, he added, arguing that their companies depend on free markets to be successful and free markets depend on a functioning democracy.

"It's important for us to step in to defend the pillars of democracy - free speech, access to information, access to services, fair voting, and things like this - in order to maintain that free market," he said. "We need to defend the free market itself, which cannot be separated from democracy, but defending the free market does not mean standing by as people destroy it."

Barrett praised companies' decisions to pause their political contributions to the 147 Republicans who tried to challenge the Electoral College results, but added that those actions only matter if they're "sustained."

"Anyone who voted against certifying the results should probably be blacklisted from politics ... like, you can't be part of a democracy and then openly despise it," he said. "We need to make it overwhelmingly clear to our elected leaders that that is unacceptable. And I think that business owners, CEOs, business leaders, employees, everyone needs to speak with a united voice that democracy is more important than anything else."

While dozens of major corporations have suspended those political contributions, several have cut all ties to Trump, and one even called on Vice President Mike Pence to remove Trump from office by invoking the 25th Amendment, few companies have committed to permanently cutting financial ties with anti-democratic lawmakers.

Read the original article on Business Insider

'To heal, we must remember': Biden paid tribute to 400,000 Americans lost to COVID-19 with moving ceremony at Lincoln Memorial

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 8:57pm
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden attend a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) memorial event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, U.S. January 19, 2021.
  • President-elect Joe Biden honored the 400,000 lives lost to COVID-19 at a memorial on Tuesday.
  • A memorial was erected Tuesday at the Lincoln Memorial to honor the Americans who died from COVID-19.
  • Biden paid tribute to those lost to COVID-19 on the eve of his inauguration on January 20.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President-elect Joe Biden paid tribute to the 400,000 lives that were lost due to COVID-19 on Tuesday at a memorial erected at the reflecting pool by the Lincoln Memorial.

The COVID-19 death toll in the US surpassed 400,000 earlier Tuesday, and more than 2 million cases have reported in the country.

"To heal, we must remember. It's hard sometimes to remember," Biden said. "But that's how we heal. It's important to do that as a nation."

"It's important to do that as a nation. That's why we're here today," the president-elect continued. "Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights on the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection and remember all who we lost."

Biden delivered remarks honoring the lives lost to the coronavirus disease on the eve of his inauguration on January 20.

The US hit the grim milestone in the wake of a sluggish nationwide vaccine rollout, despite the vaccine being developed in record time. The lack of coordination on the part of the federal government left states to fend for themselves in creating a distribution plan, resulting in a disastrous distribution.

"That's where the federal support could come - giving local leaders guidance on how to do this," Scott McNabb, who previously served as an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Insider's Hilary Brueck.

"Normally it should happen smoothly, quickly, without any controversy, and with an intent to try to get as many people vaccinated as possible."

Watch Biden's remarks here:—CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 19, 2021

 

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