Syndicate content
All Content from Business Insider for Feedburner

The 18 best Apple Watch bands in 2023

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:47pm
Choose your Apple Watch band to match any outfit.

For all the things the Apple Watch gets right, one of its overlooked qualities is its near infinite compatibility with interchangeable bands. All Apple Watches come packaged with your pick of one of the brand's traditional straps, but there are plenty of other options from both Apple and a host of third-party brands.

Apple Watch bands aren't limited to just a few styles, but rather encompass everything from designer offerings to leather and metal options. In other words, one Apple Watch can complement every facet of your personal style. 

Whether you've got an Apple Watch SE or Apple Watch Series 8, below are the best Apple Watch bands currently available, including sport and leather straps, as well as a selection of metal bands and a few designer picks. 

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

Sport bandsLeather bandsMetal bandsDesigner bandsWhat to look for in an Apple Watch band

First and foremost, consider what you'll use the band for. If you frequent the gym, look for a sport band. If you want something classy yet rugged, leather might be your best option. And for those extra stylish occasions, consider a metal band, or something from a designer like Hermes. 

It's also important to keep in mind how the band functions and if it's something you'll enjoy using. For instance, some may prefer using a magnetic clasp since it's easy to use and accessible to a wider range of people. Others may like elastic-style bands that easily slip on and off their wrist.

Lastly, Apple sometimes releases new colorways for many of its Apple Watch bands, the latest of which is the company's new Spring Collection. These provide a great way to freshen up the look of your Apple Watch, even if you buy a band you already own but in a different color. 

FAQsWhat is the best Apple Watch band?

This ultimately comes down to how you need the band to function as not all bands are designed to work for every use case. For example, you won't want to wear a metal band while working out, nor would you want to use a leather band while swimming.

However, some bands are a bit more versatile than others such as most of the sport bands as they can stand up to a heavy workout but can also function well in an office setting. The term "best" truly comes down to how each individual person needs to use it.

What's the difference between Apple's band and third-party options?

The biggest difference between Apple's watch bands and those sold by a third-party is the quality and specific styles of the bands. Apple's bands sport a unique look and feel that are quite distinguishable from non-Apple products, and they're often a lot more durable.

Of course, there are plenty of knock-offs that aim to replicate the look and feel of an Apple band, but the quality tends to be much lower.

What's the best Apple Watch band for working out?

A fluoroelastomer, or rubber-style, Apple Watch band will be the best for working out for a number of reasons. Not only are they much easier to clean than something like a woven band, but they manage to avoid looking dirty, too, even if you've worn it for a few workouts without cleaning it. They also tend to be more comfortable to wear, especially in warmer weather or during a particularly sweaty workout.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The US is in a 'rolling recession' but financials and retail stocks have repriced and present opportunities, Morgan Stanley's chief stock strategist says

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:47pm
  • Morgan Stanley's Mike Wilson said the US is in a rolling recession but opportunities exist in stocks still. 
  • In an interview with Bloomberg, the chief strategist explains why financials and retail look attractive. 
  • Wilson has long been bullish on the stock market, predicting that 2023 could see steep declines in equity prices. 

The US economy is facing a host of economic headwinds that threaten to tip it into a recession, but Morgan Stanley's top strategist says there are still opportunities for investors in some corners of the stock market. 

In an interview with Bloomberg TV this week, Mike Wilson said some companies in sectors like consumer retail and financials have "repriced in a meaningful way," and could present opportunities. 

The bank just added both mega retailer Walmart (WMT) and consumer products company Colgate-Palmolive (CL) to its Fresh Money Buy List, which is a compilation of some of the firm's "best near-term risk-reward stock ideas that stand on their own merit."

"Markets go through these periods I call a rolling bear market [or] rolling recession," Wilson told Bloomberg on Monday. "We're looking for opportunities now [at] the stock level, but at the index level it just does not look attractive to us."

Wilson noted this week that the stock market is facing the highest risk of downside in the past year, adding that investors shouldn't be fooled by the rally in sectors like tech. 

"Given the events of the past few weeks, we think guidance is looking more and more unrealistic, and equity markets are at greater risk of pricing in much lower estimates ahead of any hard data changes," he said separately in a research note on Monday.

The chief stock strategist, who previously sounded the alarm on the worst earnings recession since 2008, has been steadily bearish in recent months. Wilson has said US stocks have surged too high and are now in a "death zone," estimating that the S&P 500 could crash as much as 26% within months. 



Read the original article on Business Insider

453,000 student-loan borrowers in public service have gotten their debt wiped out over the past year — and more are still to come, Biden's Education Department says

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:45pm
President Joe Biden.
  • 453,000 student-loan borrowers have gotten debt relief through the PSLF waiver, the Education Department said.
  • It is still continuing to process forms from borrowers who applied before the October 31 deadline.
  • Other reforms to the program have been pushed off due to limited funding and resources.

It looks like President Joe Biden's changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program are working.

Biden's Education Department announced in October 2021 temporary reforms for PSLF, a program that allows government and nonprofit workers to receive loan forgiveness after ten years of qualifying payments. Leading up to Biden's presidency, borrowers were facing a host of issues receiving relief through the program and tracking payments accurately, leading the department to implement a limited-time waiver that allowed previously ineligible payments to count toward PSLF progress.

That waiver expired on October 31, 2022, and the Education Department has posted an update on Federal Student Aid's website noting that about 453,000 borrowers have qualified for loan forgiveness under the waiver through early February 2023.

"Although the limited PSLF waiver period has ended, some borrowers who submitted their applications prior to the end date may continue to have their applications processed from the waiver period," the department wrote. "Get additional information about these borrowers here."

While many borrowers are still waiting for their applications to be processed, the Education Department also announced permanent reforms to PSLF in October following the waiver's expiration. They included simplifying the eligibility criteria for PSLF, along with a one-time account adjustment to give borrowers who missed the waiver deadline one more chance to have their payment counts up to date.

Still, these reforms will likely take some time to implement. Insider reported last week that the timeline for borrowers to see relief through the account adjustment was pushed back from July 2023 to 2024. That's likely due to the lack of increased funding for Federal Student Aid in the budget Congress passed last year, causing delays with implementing a range of reforms within student-loan forgiveness and repayment programs.

Along with changes to PSLF, the Education Department is working to implement a new income-driven repayment plan — all while millions of borrowers are waiting to see if the Supreme Court will uphold Biden's plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt, a decision expected by June.

It's unclear how effectively the range of reforms will be implemented, and many student-loan borrowers have already experienced challenges with the limited resources the department currently has through hours-long wait times with student-loan companies. Department officials have previously acknowledged that the lack of funding will be a challenge but has remained confident that its programs will work in the best interests of borrowers.

"Higher education should lift you up, not weigh you down," Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote on Twitter in January. "Thanks to changes we've made to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, everyday Americans can reach dreams they put off for far too long. That's something to celebrate."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Swipe your badge or get fired? Employers and workers face a reckoning over returning to the office.

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:32pm
Many workers have grown to like the freedom to work from home.
  • Employers are hardening demands for workers to return to the office and quashing resistance.
  • But many employees are rejecting the mandates and don't appear ready to back down.
  • The battle has been brewing for years. "It's already an ugly war," one expert told Insider.

Employers across corporate America are hardening their demands for workers to return to their cubicles — and rebuffing employee resistance.

But workers are ready for this battle.

Amazon's top human-resources representative rejected an internal petition signed by roughly 30,000 employees over the company's return-to-office policy. Apple is tracking employee attendance and has threatened action against staff who don't work from the office at least three days a week. And last week, Elon Musk emailed Twitter staff at 2:30 a.m. to remind them of the company's policy, Platformer's Zoë Schiffer tweeted. The "office is not optional," Musk said.

Employees, by and large, don't appear ready to back down. Workers at The Walt Disney Co. are fighting a directive to work four days a week from the office, while Starbucks employees signed an open letter protesting the company's return-to-office mandate.

It's a battle that's been brewing for years. Ever since the pandemic ushered in new ways of working, many people have realized they prefer the flexibility of working from home. Amid a still tight labor market, they've felt empowered to make their preferences known, and many employers have relented

Today, though, as a recession looms, companies are rolling back perks and demanding workers return to their desks or risk termination. The result: a fight over what the future of work looks like in the US.

"It's already an ugly war, and it's unfortunate," Abbie Shipp, a professor of management at the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University, told Insider. "This was a great opportunity to experiment with new methods and customize based on individual needs and companies' needs."

Employers have legitimate reasons for wanting employees in the office, Shipp said. Things like collaboration, mentoring, and culture building are often easier to do in person. But a one-size-fits-all return-to-office policy is counterproductive and gives the impression of a lack of trust, she added.

"We're likely to see these struggles play out for months and maybe years," she said.

The battle of the badge

There are myriad reasons a lot of workers say they don't want to go to an office every day or even most days.

After 2020's COVID-19 lockdowns forced office workers to work from home, many of them discovered the benefits of remote work. Without a commute, they had more time for their families, pets, and hobbies, and many felt they remained just as productive as before.

Three years later, a large number of people have restructured their lives and aren't eager to return to 2019.

"People are saying, 'I had something that was working, and now you're telling me I have to commute, get dressed up, and that I can't pick up my kids from school,'" Shipp said, adding that many companies had overlooked the productivity gains derived from workers who have more time to balance their work and personal responsibilities.

James Bailey, a professor of management at the George Washington University School of Business, told Insider that on one level, workers' resistance to the office was explained by the psychological phenomenon of reactance, or the human instinct to push back when we feel our freedoms are threatened.  

"Workers' refusal to go back to the office is like a metaphorical middle finger to their bosses," he said.

While many employees continue to believe they have leverage, Bailey said, employers are capturing the upper hand as the economy falters. The recent banking crisis, on top of stubbornly high inflation, weighs on the economy. Many of the same companies demanding workers return to the office have recently conducted mass layoffs — some more than once.

"A lot of professional-service workers gained power during the pandemic, and they got drunk on this freedom," Bailey said. "But as the economy shifts, and more companies let people go, there's going to be a reckoning.

"If workers don't want a hangover, they're going to have to sober up."

Workers have other options — for now

Yet it's not clear that employers will ultimately win this tug-of-war.

While US workers are now spending more time in the office, workplaces are still half empty. According to Kastle Systems' Back to Work Barometer, which measures swipe-card access, occupancy rates hover around 50% and have barely budged this year.

Despite the drumbeat of headlines about layoffs, many organizations are struggling to hire, and the number of people voluntarily leaving their jobs remains elevated. True, purely remote job opportunities are dwindling, but workers still have other options.

"If companies think that the talent market is glutted because of these layoffs, and they don't need to worry about people quitting, that's a whole new level of shortsightedness," Ron Carucci, a cofounder of Navalent, a leadership and consulting firm, told Insider.

Rigid mandates are the product of "delusional, command-and-control" leadership, Carucci said.

"These executives believe that if you're under my scrutiny — in my presence — you'll be more productive," he added. "They're clinging to a paradigm that's familiar to them, and their inner circles aren't telling them that it's outmoded and not working."

The companies that are managing the transition to hybrid well are evaluating the kinds of work that needs to be done and soliciting employee feedback on how best to do it, Carucci said, adding that they're also mindful of their workers' job satisfaction and engagement. 

Carucci said he's not surprised that employees were digging in on "petty scorekeeping." 

"Given the choice of quitting or doing something they don't think is sustainable, many of them will quit," he said. "But it's worse if they stay because then they're just marking time."

Do you have something to share about getting called back to the office? Insider would like to hear from you. Email our workplace team at with your story or to ask for one of our reporter's Signal numbers.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Black Lives Matter dodges Adidas legal battle, but other brands using striped logos remain targets

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:29pm
Adidas will drop its complaint against Black Lives Matter's trademark application.
  • Adidas has retracted its notice of opposition against Black Lives Matter trademarking its logo.
  • The unusual move follows a complaint filed by the company on March 27 with the USPTO.
  • Adidas has many other cases pending against brands involving its three stripe logo.

Adidas has decided to drop efforts to block Black Lives Matter from trademarking its logo, in a sudden reversal of events this week.

Like the German sportswear giant, BLM's logo features three stripes. But BLM's stripes are yellow as opposed to Adidas' black and white branding. On March 27, Adidas filed a notice of opposition with the US Patent and Trademark Office, arguing that BLM's logo design is too similar to its own. In the notice of opposition, Adidas went into great detail about its 70-year history using the three-stripe mark in collaborating with artists and athletes. It noted how any merchandise sold by BLM would be mistakenly associated with the company. 

But now Adidas will drop its complaint. According to reports in the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, the company did not want to be misinterpreted as objecting to what BLM stands for.  

"It appears that Adidas pulled this case because of concerns about the negative public relations fallout that could result from litigation against an organization such as Black Lives Matter," Josh Gerben, founding partner of Gerben Perrott PLLC, told Insider in an email. 

BLM did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. An Adidas spokesperson told Insider that it will withdraw its opposition to BLM registering its trademark "as soon as possible."

Other small players at the mercy of Adidas' legal wrath

While Adidas' decision to retract its complaint to the USPTO is good news for BLM, "there are so many smaller and less notable companies that will still have to defend similar claims," Gerben said. 

Adidas has at least five pending cases involving its three stripes logo against companies like Elite Custom WearEquicor LLC, and Sol Echo

Gerben said these companies are unlikely to benefit from similar press coverage and may be unable to afford "the legal expertise needed to defend the claims from such a large company."

In recent years, Adidas has been aggressive about defending its trademarks, similar to its archrival Nike. Its decision not to pursue legal action against BLM comes a couple of months after American designer Thom Browne took on Adidas in court and won

Adidas sought $7.8 million in damages, alleging consumers could easily confuse the two brands. Thom Browne's lawyers successfully argued that consumers can't confuse the two brands because Adidas is a sportswear company and Thom Browne is a luxury fashion house. 

"Fighting this was important," Browne said in an interview with The New York Times after the verdict was read. He told the publication the decision was a "protection for creativity" against big companies. "When you create something, someone can't just come and take it away from you."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Sam Bankman-Fried is reportedly paying his lawyers with a 'multi-million dollar gift' to his dad through Alameda

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:26pm
Sam Bankman-Fried is using a "multi-million dollar gift" to his father to help pay his legal costs, Forbes reported.
  • Sam Bankman-Fried's "multi-million dollar gift" to his father is covering legal costs, per Forbes.
  • The money for the gift had come through Alameda Research, Forbes reported.
  • Bankman-Fried is facing over a dozen criminal counts over the collapse of his crypto exchange FTX.

FTX cofounder Sam Bankman-Fried is reportedly tapping into a "multi-million dollar gift" to his father, Joseph Bankman, to now help cover his legal bills.

Bankman-Fried, who at his prime was reportedly worth about $26 billion, had borrowed from his other company Alameda Research to make the payment to his father in 2021, Forbes reported, citing anonymous sources. Bankman-Fried had started Alameda in 2017 and was its CEO until October 2021, according to court filings by federal prosecutors in New York. 

Bankman-Fried also apparently rejected personal finance advice from his father, who had reportedly "begged his son to put away savings," according to Forbes. 

A representative for Bankman-Fried declined to comment. A representative for Mr. Bankman-Fried's parents, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, did not respond to Insider's emailed request for comment ahead of publication. Attorneys and representatives for FTX did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. 

Bankman and Fried have faculty bios listed on the Stanford Law School website, though no courses are currently listed for them.

Federal prosecutors have charged that Bankman-Fried used "billions of dollars" in company funds to "enrich himself," among other things. In an updated indictment unsealed on Tuesday, they also accused Bankman-Fried of trying to bribe Chinese officials with more than $40 million in payments to "influence" them. 

A hearing over the updated indictment has been scheduled for March 30 in New York federal court before US District Judge Lewis Kaplan. 

Bankman-Fried has previously pleaded not guilty in January to prosecutors' original indictment, while other senior leaders in his enterprises, including FTX cofounder Gary Wang and former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison, have entered into plea agreements. 

Following some controversy around Bankman-Fried's access to the Internet, Judge Kaplan also added new bail restrictions on Tuesday that restrict him from using a virtual private network or encrypted texting apps like Signal, and from talking to most "current or former employees of FTX or Alameda," without lawyers present.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Jeep's CEO doesn't think there are enough raw materials on earth to meet electric-car demand

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:26pm
Carlos Tavares, CEO of Jeep-maker Stellantis, doesn't believe there are enough raw materials on earth to meet EV needs.
  • Some 1.3 billion gas-powered vehicles need to be replaced with "clean mobility," Carlos Tavares said.
  • Automakers are already racing to secure limited raw materials.
  • Lithium, cobalt, and nickel mining executives have already expressed concern.

Stellantis' CEO doesn't think there are enough raw materials readily available to meet electric vehicle needs.

"We know that we need lithium," Carlos Tavares, chief executive of Stellantis (which encompasses brands like Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, Ram, and more) said Wednesday during the automaker's first annual Freedom of Mobility Forum meeting, as reported by The Detroit News. "We know that we are not producing as much as we need.

Tavares said the 1.3 billion gas-powered cars on the roads need to be replaced with "clean mobility." 

"That will need a lot of lithium," he said, according to The Detroit News. "Not only the lithium may not be enough, but the concentration of the mining of lithium may create other geopolitical issues."

Tavares, long a skeptic of a global transition to electric vehicles, first warned of EV battery and raw material shortages hampering the industry's lofty goals on EVs in May 2022. For Stellantis specifically, Tavares has said that some of the markets the company operates in just don't make sense for EV sales at the moment, citing problems like affordability and lack of infrastructure.

"The affordability is not there, because the raw materials are scarce and very expensive, and I would add very volatile," Tavares said. 

Access to cheaper EVs could only be delayed by these industry dynamics.

Still, Tavares has said that the company has big plans for electrification in the next few years. After the US's Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and France's PSA Group merged to create Stellantis in 2021, the new company said it planned to spend more than $35.5 billion on developing an array of plug-in models through 2025. 

The company is also investing some $2.5 billion in a partnership with Samsung to build the automaker's first EV battery factory in Indiana, slated to open in the first quarter of 2025. 

Stellantis is aiming to sell 5 million electric vehicles per year globally by 2030.

The shift to EVs won't be easy

Tavares' comments are just the latest from major industry stakeholders raising the alarms about, and losing faith in, the reality of transitioning to EVs

Automakers are racing to secure enough raw materials supply, and Stellantis' crosstown rivals Ford and General Motors have penned agreements with lithium suppliers to make sure they'll each have what they need to make good on their EV ambitions, at least for the next couple of years.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has emphasized just how much of a challenge getting these materials will be for EV-makers. Others, like Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe, have been vocal about the looming shortage of not only lithium, but potentially of much-needed nickel, graphite, and cobalt (though automakers are working to rely less on cobalt). Even mining executives have expressed concern that demand for these materials continues to outstrip the current available supply.

While many experts say there are enough resources on earth for the EV industry, many of those have yet to be tapped into, especially in the US. Getting access to those materials (and being able to use them in electric cars) requires costly and time-consuming permitting, construction, extraction, and other processes. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Investors should keep buying stocks for the long-term despite attractive yields from short-term money market funds, Bank of America says

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:23pm
Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during morning trading on May 05, 2022 in New York City.
  • High cash yields shouldn't stop investors from buying stocks for the long term, according to Bank of America.
  • The bank said stocks still look poised to deliver annualized returns of about 7% over the next decade.
  • "The probability of losing money in the S&P 500 drops from a coin flip (46%) to a 2-sigma event (6%) by extending one's holding period from a day to a decade."

While money market funds are offering tempting risk-free returns of about 5%, investors shouldn't lose sight of the fact that stocks remain the best place to park their money over the long term.

That's according to a Wednesday note from Bank of America, which recommended investors keep buying stocks for the long haul and to not get over invested in short-term money market funds that should see their yields fluctuate as the Fed hikes or cuts interest rates.

Bank of America's Savita Subramanian said that current valuations suggest stocks should generate annualized returns of 7% over the next decade.

"For long term investors, the S&P 500's price to normalized earnings has explained 80%+ of subsequent 10-year S&P 500 returns. It now suggests price returns of +5%/year. Add ~2 percentage points of dividend yield and this rivals prospects for most other asset classes," she said.

In the short term, the potential return for stocks appears neutral amid a banking crisis and lingering concerns of high interest rates. That means money market funds that yield close to 5% are viable alternatives for investors, but only for short-term money.

Subramanian highlighted that BofA's sell-side indicator suggests a lot of bad news has been priced into stock prices, and that could set investors up for a positive surprise going forward.

"Sentiment based on our sell side indicator suggests that this and other reasons to worry about stocks are well aired, and argue for a positive surprise - especially vs. last year's bullish complacency," she said.

To be sure, it can be difficult for investors to hold onto stocks amid the recent volatility and the rise of zero-day expiry options.

According to the note, investors' long-term holding period for stocks has fallen over time due to fixations on short-term price moves. For example, zero-day S&P 500 options now account for 45% of options volume versus less than 5% a decade ago.

Despite the rising noise in markets, what's most important is that investors remember the biggest advantage they have in terms of compounding their wealth: time.

"The probability of losing money in the S&P 500 drops from a coin flip (46%) to a 2-sigma event (6%) by extending one's holding period from a day to a decade. Market timing is fraught with peril, and panic selling results in outsized opportunity costs (best days often follow worst days)," Subramanian said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

A majority of Americans think a criminal indictment should disqualify Trump for 2024

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:16pm
Former U.S. President Donald Trump.
  • A new poll illustrates Trump's possible political peril if he faces criminal charges.
  • According to a Quinnipiac University poll, Americans would find charges to be disqualifying for a presidential run.
  • The findings come on the same day a Manhattan grand jury decided to take a lengthy break.

A majority of Americans think that if Donald Trump becomes the first former president ever to be indicted that such charges should disqualify him from returning to the White House, a new poll finds.

But the overall picture of Americans' opinions on a potential Trump indictment is far more nuanced. The better news for Trump is that while charges would pose a potentially major general election hurdle, his grip on the GOP is still holding.

According to a Quinnipiac University national poll released Wednesday, 57% of Americans think that criminal charges should disqualify Trump from running again. There is a major partisan split on the question. Three-fourths of Republicans view possible charges as not disqualifying, but 55% of self-described independents do view an indictment as disqualifying along with 88% of Democrats.

A Manhattan grand jury has continued to hear evidence as jurors weigh an indictment related to Trump's alleged hush money scheme to silence adult film actress Stormy Daniels. On Wednesday afternoon, a source familiar with the case told Insider that the grand jury will be taking a weekslong break.

The former president has denied that he had an affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and has repeatedly lashed out at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump is also facing investigations related to his improper storage of classified documents and his role in fomenting the January 6 Capitol riot.

Like any potential criminal defendant, Trump is considered innocent until proven guilty. Many legal scholars have also questioned the basis of Bragg's potential case. An indictment would in many ways signal the start of a much lengthier process than the end. Most importantly, the Constitution would not stop Trump's ongoing presidential campaign. Rather, any disqualification would be in the eyes of voters.

Needless to say, Quinnipiac's findings underline that an indictment could create major political headaches for Trump. It also illustrates why many top Republicans continue to embrace Trump amid his legal battles.

Trump has tried to paint Bragg's probe as politically motivated. Quinnipiac found that 62% of Americans agree that the New York investigation is "mainly motivated by politics" as compared to "mainly motivated by the law." Seventy percent of independents agreed that it was motivated by politics, compared to 93% of Republicans and 29% of Democrats.

Other polling has shown similar splits on the investigations.

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist College Poll from earlier this week found that 56% of Americans think the investigations are fair. While 41% agreed that they were a "witch hunt." The same survey found that 46% of Americans say Trump's behavior has been illegal, 29% find it to be "unethical but not illegal," and only 23% say the former president has done nothing wrong at all. 

Even Republicans agree that Trump did something wrong. An earlier Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 70% of Americans say it is believable that Trump paid off Daniels to not talk during the 2016 election, a subset that includes 50% of Republicans and 77% of independents.

The Quinnipiac poll of 1,788 U.S. adults nationwide was conducted from March 23rd - 27th. The sample includes 1,600 self-identified registered voters. The larger sample margin of error is +/- 2.5 percentage points. The smaller group of self-identified Republican and Republican-leaning voters has a margin of error of  +/- 3.8 percentage points. Methodologies for the other polls are linked to above.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Home prices will fall 15% over the next year as high interest rates squeeze the housing market, economist says

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:13pm
In San Francisco, home prices have fallen 8.2% from their peak values earlier this year.
  • Home prices are set to drop 15% over the next year, according to Pantheon Macroeconomics.
  • That's because rates are likely to remain high, helping push down affordability and demand as a result. 
  • Some economists think a housing market recovery could be coming in 2024.

Home prices are still set to drop over the next year, as high interest rates continue to squeeze the housing market, according to Pantheon Macroeconomics.

US home prices have fallen amid higher mortgage rates over the last year, notching their seventh straight month of declines in January. But the downside for prices isn't over, Pantheon's senior economist Kieran Clancy said, warning home prices could continue their march lower this year:

"We look for an additional drop of around 15% over the next year," Clancey said in a note on Wednesday, pointing to how high prices are in a historical context. Mortgage payments are now estimated to be around half new homebuyers' disposable income, though payments only accounted for around 30%-35% of buyers' disposable income prior to the pandemic.

That suggests home prices will become more affordable as the housing market continues to correct, particularly since the Federal Reserve has signaled its intention to keep interest rates restrictive through the rest of the year, which could influence mortgage rates to remain elevated. 

"Interest rates are likely to remain elevated for some time – even if they do not rise much further – so an improvement in affordability will need to come via a decline in prices," Clancey added.

That comes amid a timing of quickly shifting dynamics for US housing, with some commentators last year having warned of a crash in home prices. Mortgage rates touched a 20-year-high in 2022 and have stayed elevated, crimping housing affordability and demand while putting downward pressure on prices. 

But some economists think a recovery could be around the corner. National Association of Realtors senior economist Nadia Evangelou previously told Insider she predicts a housing rebound in 2024. Despite high mortgage rates, demand is still greater than housing supply, and there are signs more home buyers are dipping back into the market, with mortgage applications surging 3% in the last week and pending home sales rising 0.8% in February, above the expected 2.3% decline.

Read the original article on Business Insider

SBF played 'League of Legends' so much he was gaming during pitch meetings. Now his lawyers say there'll be no more online games for the crypto king.

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 1:30am
Sam Bankman-Fried.
  • Sam Bankman-Fried is known to be an avid "League of Legends" player.
  • He's said to have played it at a pitch meeting, and says he's been gaming while under house arrest.
  • But he will lose access to his favorite game if a new bail agreement is approved. 

Avid gamer and disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried will lose access to his favorite game, "League of Legends," while living with his parents on bail — if conditions proposed by his lawyers are approved.

Bankman-Fried's lawyers reached an agreement with New York prosecutors on Monday to ban him from using most electronic devices while awaiting trial, per court documents seen by Insider. His trial is set for October 2.

Under the proposed conditions, he'll be allowed to use a mobile phone that's not connected to the internet and a laptop with access to a small list of websites. His parents, who have computers and phones, agreed to block Bankman-Fried from accessing their own devices with a password. "Monitoring software" will also be installed on their electronics if bail conditions are approved.

The conditions also say Bankman-Fried will be prohibited from accessing any video games or gaming hardware that "permit chat or voice communication." 

The lawyers propose that his laptop would only have access to FTX websites and the crypto exchange's transactional database, his lawyers' websites and Zoom meeting room, government websites, read-only blockchain explorers, Wikipedia, YouTube, Spotify, DoorDash, UberEats, and Netflix.

Bankman-Fried will also be given access to several news outlets, such as Bloomberg, The New York Times, and Insider, as well as the MLB and NFL websites, the proposal suggested. 

No games or gaming platforms were listed.

This might be a blow to Bankman-Fried, who said in January that he was playing video games alone while under house arrest.

Bankman-Fried, who was arrested in the Bahamas in December, previously touted his penchant for the online game "League of Legends."

"Why do I play so much League of Legends?" mused Bankman-Fried in a February 2021 Twitter thread, where he talked about his gaming habits.

"I'm (in)famous for playing League of Legends while on calls," Bankman-Fried tweeted.

"Some people drink too much; some gamble. I play League," he added.

—SBF (@SBF_FTX) February 4, 2021

He was even caught playing the online multiplayer game, which allows players to communicate via both text and voice, while in a pitch meeting, according to Ramnik Arora, FTX's head of product.

But Bankman-Fried isn't very good at playing "League of Legends," according to billionaire Elon Musk and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Musk tweeted in December that Bankman-Fried "was bad at League," while Ocasio-Cortez in November mocked the FTX co-founder for being a "Bronze III" player.

Meanwhile, the game's developer, Riot Games, asked a Delaware court in December to nullify a seven-year sponsorship deal between one of its subsidiaries and FTX. It said the exchange owes Riot Games millions in payments and caused the developer "reputational harm" after its collapse.

Bankman-Fried is accused by the US of funneling billions of dollars in FTX customers' funds into his cryptocurrency trading firm, Alameda. He faces multiple criminal fraud and money laundering charges, which he pleaded not guilty to. He was indicted on Tuesday and accused of trying to bribe Chinese officials with $40 million.

Representatives for Bankman-Fried declined to comment when reached by Insider.

The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump gloated over his January 6 prison choir song 'beating Taylor Swift' on the charts: 'I feel like Elvis'

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 12:49am
Donald Trump and Taylor Swift.
  • Trump told Fox News' Sean Hannity that he feels "like Elvis" after "beating Taylor Swift."
  • The Trump song topped the iTunes chart in the US on March 11. 
  • The track features Capitol rioters singing the national anthem from jail, with Trump adding voiceovers.

Former President Donald Trump said he feels "like Elvis" after his single with the J6 Prison Choir topped the charts and outranked Taylor Swift.

Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he was elated that his track was doing so well. The song, "Justice for All," was released on March 3, and topped the US iTunes charts on March 11. 

"The J6 is beating Taylor Swift. It's Donald Trump and the J6 prisoners, and on iTunes, and on Amazon, and on Billboard, which is the big deal," Trump told Hannity in an interview that aired on Monday. 

"Number one, Donald Trump," he added. "So now I feel like Elvis." 

—Republican Accountability (@AccountableGOP) March 28, 2023

"Justice for All" was sung by a group of men incarcerated for their suspected role in the Capitol riot. Known collectively as the J6 Prison Choir, they sang a rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" from behind bars. 

The men then requested that Trump lend his voice to the recording, per CNN. The final version of the song is interspersed with a voiceover from Trump, where he recites the Pledge of Allegiance from his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach. The song ends with the men chanting "U-S-A" several times.

Trump and Swift have publicly feuded in the past. 

In 2020, Trump tweeted that he would send the National Guard down to Minneapolis after protests erupted over George Floyd's murder, writing that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."

Swift tweeted her response to his comment, saying: "After stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism your entire presidency, you have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence? 'When the looting starts the shooting starts'??? We will vote you out in November."

Trump's interview with Fox News comes amidst an ongoing investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg into Trump's potential involvement in hush money payments to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump could face up to four years in prison if convicted.

A Trump spokesman and representatives for Swift did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment sent outside regular business hours. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

A 267-foot yacht with a hair salon and infinity pool has been 'abandoned' in the Caribbean and could be sold off — but the Russian oligarch it's linked to says it isn't his

Tue, 03/28/2023 - 10:45pm
Antigua wants to quickly auction off an 'abandoned' superyacht linked to a Russian oligarch after it ran up a $500,000 bill for fuel and food.
  • The Antigua and Barbuda government has declared the Alfa Nero super yacht abandoned.
  • It will be sold unless it's removed, according to an official notice last Tuesday.
  • Authorities intend to use the money to pay down a $500,000 fuel bill owed to the Antigua Yacht Club Marina.

The Antigua and Barbuda government wants an abandoned $81 million superyacht out of its harbor.

In a notice on March 21, the government of the Caribbean nation declared the vessel "abandoned" and said it intends to sell it, unless removed, to pay off the money it owes for food and fuel.

Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said on March 20 that his government had received offers of over $50 million for the 267-foot yacht, according to the Daily Observer, a local media outlet. The yacht, named the Alfa Nero, has a gym, a hair salon, and an infinity pool.

The US Department of the Treasury previously linked the Alfa Nero super to Russian oligarch Andrey Guryev, who the department said is a "close associate" of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Guryev — who is the founder of fertilizer company PhosAgro and has a net worth of $10.1 billion — has been sanctioned by the US, the UK, and the EU for his links to the Kremlin amid the Ukraine war.

On Tuesday, a legal representative for Guryev told Bloomberg that the vessel does not belong to the tycoon.

"As we have informed the Antiguan authorities, Mr Guryev neither owns nor controls the Alfa Nero and has simply used the vessel from time to time under commercial charter since 2014," said the representative, per Bloomberg.

Running out of money to feed its crew

With the luxury vessel running up a large bill, Antigua and Barbuda authorities still plan to sell it if no one claims its ownership by March 31, Bloomberg reported, citing the Antigua port manager.

The authorities intend to use the yacht's sale proceeds to pay down a $500,000 debt it owes to the Antigua Yacht Club Marina for fuel, per Daily Observer. The rest is to be used toward the development of Antigua and Barbuda.

Browne said in a March 16 Facebook post that the vessel was also running out of money to feed its crew. It has been in the Caribbean nation for more than 18 months, he said.


The yacht also poses a risk to the Antigua harbor, Browne told the Daily Observer.

"Anything could go wrong. Maybe some of the doors could open and start to take on water and it sinks," Browne said. He added the Alfa Nero could also be uninsured and this could cause issues for the harbor.

"We are talking about billions of dollars of assets in that harbor. And you can imagine if that vessel was to catch fire what will happen," Browne said, according to the Daily Observer.

Falmouth Harbour, where the Alfa Nero is moored, is a hub for luxury yachts.

Guryev did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment sent via PhosAgro.

March 28, 2023: This story has been updated to reflect comments from Guryev and the Antigua port manager.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Some Russians can't agree if they should honor convict soldiers who died in Ukraine after trading prison for war: 'They killed, stole, stabbed, raped... What kind of heroes are they?'

Tue, 03/28/2023 - 9:09pm
Graves of Wagner group mercenaries killed in the Russian invasion war in Ukraine are being buried in the Mavrino village cemetery in the outskirts of Moscow.
  • The Wagner Group recruited thousands of Russian prisoners to fight in Ukraine in exchange for freedom.
  • While those who died return home to be buried, residents can't agree on how they should be treated.
  • One soldier who was convicted of killing his mom and sister was buried in an "Alley of Heroes."

Many Russian prisoners who fought on the frontlines in Ukraine ended up paying the ultimate price, but their compatriots back home can't agree on whether or not they should be honored.

The Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organization founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, caused controversy by recruiting convicted criminals to fight in Ukraine in exchange for their freedom. The group said last month it would discontinue the practice, with reports suggesting prisoners had begun refusing to go because they did not want to be enlisted in suicide missions.

Some prisoners-turned-soldiers had complained they were given insufficient training, weapons, or supplies, and were essentially sent to the frontlines to die. The UK Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence briefing earlier this month that about half of all the Russian prisoners sent to fight Ukraine have been killed or wounded.

UK intelligence said last week that Russian forces were now facing an "exodus" of troops as thousands of prisoners who had fought in exchange for pardons were expected to be released.

But the returning soldiers — whether they're coming back dead or alive — are unlikely to be met with universal gratitude.

Roman Lazaruk, a former prisoner from Russia's Rostov region, was convicted in 2014 of killing his mother and sister, according to The New York Times. After dying in the battle for Bakhmut, he was buried in the "Alley of Heroes," a section of the cemetery that included WWII veterans.

But the hero's treatment was condemned by some members of the community, including a former classmate of his sister's. "What did this Lazaruk or other guys do?" she told a local Russian outlet. "They killed, stole, stabbed, raped, went to jail and went out to continue killing. What kind of heroes are they?"

Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin attends the funeral of Dmitry Menshikov, a fighter of the Wagner group who died during a special operation in Ukraine, at the Beloostrovskoye cemetery outside St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022.

The disputes have also pitted local officials, who may wish to avoid the controversy of extending public honors to convicts, and residents who want the fallen soldiers to be treated with respect as defenders of the Motherland, The Times reported.

When a mayor in Russia's Krasnodar region paused funerals for the prisoners who died in battle due to the public controversy over them, Wagner founder Prigozhin threatened to pile up corpses in the mayor's living room, according to The Times.

Some residents are also concerned about pardoned prisoners who return home alive but may still be violent. The UK Ministry of Defense has said the return of the former prisoners to Russian society could pose a threat to communities, noting there will be a "sudden influx of often violent offenders with recent and often traumatic combat experience."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Elon Musk's Twitter made a mistake on tax documents for laid off workers. Now they may miss the tax filing deadline.

Tue, 03/28/2023 - 8:22pm
Twitter is no longer "in the fast lane to bankruptcy," CEO Elon Musk says.
  • Former Twitter workers were told this week they likely received incorrect tax information.
  • The error likely won't be rectified until after the IRS tax filing deadline on April 18.
  • Twitter's entire payroll and finance department left shortly after Elon Musk took over last year.

Twitter provided incorrect tax documentation to many former employees who were laid off or resigned after billionaire Elon Musk took over. The company told them the issue likely won't be corrected until after the IRS deadline to file taxes has passed.

Dozens of employees learned they may have received W-2 forms that incorrectly reported any income they may have received from the sale in October of company stock, according to an email sent Monday seen by Insider and signed by Twitter's "US Payroll team."  The payouts from such sales were "not recorded" on the W-2 forms sent out, according to the email and several people who received it.

Musk took over Twitter in late October, and it became a private company. As part of his $44 billion deal to buy it, all holders of company stock, including employees who received part of their compensation in the form of shares, were effectively forced to sell at $54.20 per share.

To rectify the mistake on the W-2s, Twitter will send a W-2 C form, used to make corrections to W-2s. The timeframe for affected former employees receiving the corrections is 30 days. However, the IRS deadline to file taxes is April 18, so many former employees now must file an extension. Others have already filed their returns and are concerned they will be hit in future with the consequence of filing an incorrect return.

Twitter's email to employees did not include any advice on how to file their taxes, seek an extension, or amend taxes that may have been filed already. 

One laid off worker joked that Musk's Twitter "is really the gift that keeps on giving." Another said that, considering the company had five months to realize this mistake and inform those affected, the late timing "feels like willful negligence."

Twitter did not comment. Emails to the company's press address are now being dealt with via an automated response that includes only the smiling poop emoji. 

This is the second time this year Twitter had issues with W-2s. In February, workers in 38 states, including New York, were told their tax documents had the wrong employer tax IDs and would need to be corrected or resent, several impacted workers told Insider. 

Issues with tax filings must be fixed fairly quickly. The IRS requires employers to fix any mistakes in their W-2 forms as soon as possible.

Employees who have yet to file their taxes can seek an extension so that they can get the correct filing from their employer, but they'll still need to pay their taxes by the April 18 deadline set by the IRS, said Lisa Reilly Payton, an estate planning and tax lawyer at Frazer, Ryan, Goldberg & Arnold LLP. 

Employees can use existing pay documents to make their best estimate of the taxes they believe are due and pay that by the deadline, and those who have already filed their taxes should amend their tax return when they receive the correct W-2, Payton said. 

"Failure to report all your income, no matter the dollar amount, to the IRS, is a serious issue," Payton said. 

Shortly after Musk took over the company at the end of October, Twitter's entire payroll department and most of its finance teams left the company, as Insider reported at the time.    

Hundreds of former Twitter workers are part of a mass arbitration effort, essentially suing Musk for his handling of layoffs and forced resignations and allegedly refusing to pay these workers what they were set to receive in terms of severance and benefits. The legal actions are ongoing.

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

Contact Sindhu Sundar on Signal 984-377-3887, or email

Read the original article on Business Insider

Josh Hawley splits Senate GOP over 'duplicative' idea to create a new office tracking US aid to Ukraine

Tue, 03/28/2023 - 7:20pm
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri at a hearing on Capitol Hill on February 28, 2023.
  • The Senate rejected a bill from Josh Hawley to establish a new office to oversee Ukraine aid.
  • It was the latest showcase of the GOP's divisions over Ukraine.
  • Many Republicans said they were confident in the Biden administration's aid tracking efforts.

The Republican Party's ongoing split over Ukraine revealed itself once more on Tuesday as the Senate soundly rejected a provision that would have established a new office to oversee the billions of dollars in aid that the US has devoted to the war effort, resulting in a lopsided 26-68 margin.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri proposed a version of his "Special Inspector General for Ukraine Assistance Act" as an amendment to a bill that would repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force (AUMFs) in Iraq.

But while Hawley was able to win over a little more than 20 fellow Republicans — predominantly conservatives who are also wary of US support for Ukraine in general — more establishment-minded Republicans and defense hawks voted against the bill, along with almost every Democrat. 

Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Jon Ossoff of Georgia were the only Democrats to support the measure, along with Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Many Republicans argued that installing a new inspector general would have been "duplicative," generally expressing confidence in the current oversight conducted by the Biden administration.

"We already have a very extensive operation to oversee spending in Ukraine," said Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. "We don't need to put another regulator on top of the regulators we already have there."

In a statement to Insider, a National Security Council spokesman said that "we agree that oversight is critical," but pointed to funding that's already been set aside by Congress for existing inspectors general in the State Department, the Department of Defense, and the US Agency for International Development.

'It's already being done'

Hawley's bill would have installed an entirely new inspector general's office to oversee the more than $113 billion in aid to Ukraine appropriated by Congress since the Russian invasion began last year. 

That's more money given to Ukraine than every other country combined, according to an analysis from the Center for Strategic and International Studies

Roughly half of that aid has gone to the Ukrainian military, while the rest is a mixture of humanitarian support, funding for the Ukrainian government, and other purposes. The aid has proved critical in allowing the country to resist the Russian invasion for more than a year.

The new inspector general, after being confirmed by the Senate, would have been required to submit reports to Congress every three months detailing how the funds are being spent, as well as the Ukrainian government's compliance with anti-corruption measures.

In a Fox News op-ed, Hawley argued that the current system for keeping track of the aid meant there was "no ultimate accountability for policing waste, fraud, and abuse."

"Over the last year, our leaders have sent a mind-blowing amount of money to Ukraine," he wrote. "If Congress cares about making sure that cash is well spent, they should go on record about it. "

But other Republicans apparently disagreed.

"The oversight is important, but if we're already paying for it, and it's already being done, maybe [Hawley's bill] is kind of duplicative," said Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, a prominent GOP proponent of supporting Ukraine. "Everything that I've asked for so far, I have been provided."

"I'm going to vote no, because I think it's duplicative, and will actually be wasteful," said Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. "This is essentially a solution in search of a problem."

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said Hawley’s bill is “kind of duplicative.”

Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said he commended Hawley for proposing the idea but argued that oversight was "already going on."

"I've talked to [Ukrainian President Volodymr] Zelenskyy himself about this," said Risch. "He understood that… it's absolutely imperative that all these expenditures be accounted for."

Hawley's bill did win over at least one Republican who's a vocal supporter of aiding Ukraine: Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. 

"I want to convince people we're taking this seriously," said Graham.

'Never the right time'

Some senators expressed support for Hawley's idea but said they would vote against it anyway over the fact that it was an amendment to an unrelated bill.

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana, the top main co-sponsors of the underlying AUMF repeal bill, each said they were supportive of Hawley's idea but would vote against it because it was unrelated to the legislation, and they wanted to ensure the bill could still pass the House.

"I don't think we should complicate a repeal of the Iraq war authorization with that issue," said Kaine.

"My concern is that if it ends up attached to what is a very narrow repeal effort, it will turn some of our existing supporters off," said Young.

The underlying AUMF repeal bill, which is backed by a large bipartisan majority of senators and has been endorsed by the White House, is expected to pass the Senate on Wednesday.

Its future in the House remains uncertain, but House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said he expects the bill to go through the chamber's committee process before reaching the floor for a vote.

Asked about the objections over the amendment not being related, Hawley laughed.

"It's never the right time for those who don't want to do anything," said Hawley.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Israel isn't 'out of the woods' even though Netanyahu paused the plan that pushed his country into chaos

Tue, 03/28/2023 - 7:00pm
Anti-government protestors burn tires near Beit Yanai, Israel, Monday, March 27, 2023.
  • A judicial overhaul plan pushed by Netanyahu's government sparked a major crisis in Israel.
  • Netanyahu paused the overhaul amid mass protests, but Israel's troubles are far from over.
  • "The crisis was deferred, but definitely not resolved," a former US ambassador to Israel told Insider.

A serious crisis has been brewing in Israel, and this week, it boiled over as outraged spiked and people flooded the streets in protest. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to hit pause on a deeply controversial plan to overhaul the country's judiciary, but Israel's problems are far from over. 

"The crisis was deferred, but definitely not resolved," Daniel Shapiro, a former US Ambassador to Israel and distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Insider.

Netanyahu announced on Monday that he was delaying his proposed plan — which threw his country into chaos and saw numerous people speak out against the government — until after parliament's upcoming Passover recess in April to carve out time for debate and prevent what he said was a path to "civil war."

The move came after he fired the country's defense minister, a decision that was met with widespread backlash among officials and civilians.

Experts and former officials told Insider that Netanyahu's push to overhaul the judiciary represents a "major threat" to the people of Israel and that the prime minister sent a "really bad message" by axing his defense chief. They said the crisis raised both economic and security concerns. 

The divisive judicial plan, which Netanyahu's far-right, nationalist government pushed for as he contends with an ongoing trial over corruption charges, would give the government more power in choosing judges and grant parliament the ability to overturn Supreme Court decisions. One piece of the plan has already been passed into law, narrowing the circumstances under which a prime minister can be deemed unfit for office.

An aerial view of thousands of Israelis taking to the streets in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's surprise sacking of his defense minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv, Israel on March 26, 2023.

Critics of the judicial reforms have slammed the plan as anti-democratic — warning that it would undermine important checks on the government's power — and have accused Netanyahu of advocating for changes that would weaken the judiciary as he faces a corruption trial. 

Netanyahu "wants power more than any other Israeli politician and will do just about anything in order to get it." Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former State Department official, told Insider. "The trial has created an existential problem for him."

'A perfect storm that was gathering'

Netanyahu's plan to overhaul Israel's judiciary has prompted months of sweeping protests across the country and even led Israeli President Isaac Herzog in mid-March to gravely warn that the country was in a "profound crisis" and at risk of "civil war." Police have used aggressive tactics to disperse demonstrators, such as stun grenades and water cannons. 

"This was a perfect storm that was gathering," Miller said of the government's plan. "It represented, to hundreds of thousands of Israelis, a major threat — not only to the independence of the judiciary, but to the type of country that they envisioned for themselves, which was pro-western, pluralistic, democratic, humanist, and the region's only democracy, however imperfect and flawed it is."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a voting session in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, Israel on March 27, 2023.

The unrest escalated this past weekend after Netanyahu sacked Defense Minister Yoav Gallant — who had called for the Israeli leader to halt the judicial overhaul a day before he was abruptly fired. 

Gallant, the first member of cabinet to call for a pause to the overhaul plan, had warned that the proposal was undermining the country's national security. His move came after military reservists refused to report for duty, signaling their opposition to the right-wing government's planned reforms. 

"That was a really bad message," Nimrod Goren, a senior fellow for Israeli affairs at the Middle East Institute, told Insider, citing the immediate fallout that came as a result of Gallant's firing. Universities shut their doors, air traffic came to a standstill at Ben Gurion International Airport, and embassies around the world halted operations.

"Nobody got it — it didn't make any sense," Goren added. "It's not the way Israel is governed."

'You don't need militias running around'

Though Netanyahu has since agreed to suspend the plan, that doesn't mean Israel's troubles are over or that he's necessarily abandoning the reforms altogether.

"I believe many protestors are not letting their guard down," Shapiro said, underscoring that the situation has raised both security and economic concerns for Israel. "There's a lot at risk. It's definitely not settled, and they're definitely not out of the woods."

Netanyahu announced that the planned overhaul was being postponed after National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the far-right Jewish Power party, agreed to the delay, the Times of Israel reported. But as part of this agreement, a much-sought-after national guard will reportedly be established under Ben-Gvir's ministry.

Thousands of Israelis take the streets as they block Ayalon highway in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's surprise sacking of his defense minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv, Israel on March 27, 2023.

Ben-Gvir, an ultra-nationalist, has been convicted of supporting a terrorist organization and incitement to racism. Goren said granting Ben-Gvir this power would be "very dangerous" because of his past provocations of Palestinians, Arabs, and people on the left.  

"We need to make sure that it doesn't happen, because if such a National Guard — which is independent from the other official institutions being set up under Ben-Gvir's supervision — that's not something we want to have in the current climate for sure," Goren said. "You don't need militias running around the streets in Israel."

But it remains to be seen whether the National Guard plan actually comes into play, as Netanyahu has historically been cautious when it comes to the country's security and military affairs. 

A tricky situation for US leadership

The recent turmoil in Israel has also led to concern in Washington. "Like many strong supporters of Israel I'm very concerned. I'm concerned that they get this straight. They cannot continue down this road," President Joe Biden said to reporters on Tuesday. Biden also said that Netanyahu would not be invited to the White House "in the near term."

Israeli protesters run as police officers use water canon after clashes erupted during a demonstration against the government's judicial overhaul on March 27, 2023 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The US-Israel relationship has faced strains in recent years, but both countries remain close and in January launched their largest joint military exercise ever. That said, the present situation could place Biden in an awkward position as he emphasizes the need to uphold democracy around the world amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine and historic tensions with China. Biden is hosting a virtual Summit for Democracy this week, and Netanyahu was invited to speak on Wednesday despite Israel's recent troubles. 

Biden has emphasized that part of what makes the US-Israel relationship "special" and "what makes it function" is that they are "bound by the common values of two democracies," Shapiro said. "That's fundamental."

But, Shapiro added, if a situation arose where many Israelis — including senior officials and others in important positions in Israeli society — said the country was moving away from "democratic governance and if many other countries in the family of democratic nations started to ask that same question — obviously it would be a strain on the US-Israel partnership."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Russian man who was prosecuted after 13-year-old daughter's anti-war drawing now appears to be on the run

Tue, 03/28/2023 - 6:38pm
Ukrainian map seen during street action 'Who will punish the criminal?' in Lviv, Ukraine.
  • Alexei Moskalev was sentenced Tuesday to two years behind bars for alleged antiwar social media posts.
  • Before he could be imprisoned, though, Moskalev fled house arrest and is now on the run.
  • Moskalev was prosecuted after school authorities found antiwar drawings by his 13-year-old daughter.

A single father appears to be on the run after authorities accused him of condemning Russian war crimes on social media and placing his only daughter in an orphanage.

Alexei Moskalev was sentenced Tuesday to two years in a penal colony for the alleged posts, which he has denied penning.

He was prosecuted, according to the BBC, after school authorities last year reported his 13-year-old daughter to police after seeing that she had drawn a Ukrainian flag with the words, "Glory to Ukraine," and a Russian flag with the words, "No to war!" In the drawing, a mother and child can be seen holding hands and standing next to the Ukrainian flag as missiles approach them from the Russian side.

That incident appears to have sparked prosecutors' interest in the father, who last year was fined for social media posts critical of Russia's war in Ukraine, which the Kremlin insists be referred to as a "special military operation." His apartment in Yefremov was then raided in December, leading to a criminal case over other alleged posts.

Moskalev's daughter was taken from him earlier this month and placed in an orphanage, the Associated Press reported. "Daddy, you're my hero," she wrote to him during his trial, according to his lawyer, who said he does not know his current whereabouts.

"To say I'm surprised would be an understatement," Moskalev's attorney, Vladimir Biliyenko, told the BBC. "I've never seen anything like it. No client of mine has ever gone missing like this. I don't know when he fled, or if he has."

Supporters in the courtroom cheered when Moskalev was announced missing, Politico reported, with some yelling "Bravo!"

A court will decide next month whether to strip him of his parental rights.

Russia criminalizes dissent

Soon after launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russian authorities began cracking down on internal criticism, with lawmakers passing measures that impose up to 15 years in prison for protesting the war or accurately reporting on the conflict.

According to Human Rights Watch, people have since been prosecuted for merely displaying the colors of the Ukrainian flag, blue and yellow. Last fall, an activist, Igor Maltsev, was sentenced to more than 3 1/2 years in prison for "political hatred," HRW said, after he burned a wicker figure dressed in a Russian military uniform.

OVD-Info, a Russian human rights group, says that at least 505 people have been hit with criminal charges for expressing antiwar sentiment, including seven children.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter:

Read the original article on Business Insider

Elon Musk clarified that Twitter users will still see accounts they follow in their For You feeds after backlash over his plan to only show paid subscribers there

Tue, 03/28/2023 - 5:56pm
Many Twitter users were upset with Elon Musk's initial announcement that only verified users would appear in For You recommendations starting April 15.
  • Elon Musk said Monday that only verified Twitter accounts will appear in users' For You feeds starting April 15.
  • On Tuesday, he backtracked and said accounts that users follow will also stay in the feed.
  • The change followed uproar from users over the initial announcement.

Elon Musk is backtracking on proposed changes to Twitter users' feeds after facing backlash over his initial idea.

On Monday, he said only verified accounts will appear in users' For You recommendations feed and be allowed to vote in polls starting April 15. Because Twitter will do away with legacy check marks on April 1, which belong to users who were verified under Twitter's previous system and did not pay to be verified, this meant the For You feed would start to only recommend paying Twitter Blue subscribers.

Musk started rolling out Twitter Blue shortly after buying the social media platform in October. The subscription allows any user to buy verification for $8 per month.

"The is the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle," Musk said Monday.

Many Twitter users took issue with the planned change.

"Dead website in 2 weeks," one user wrote.

"I don't get behind this decision. You need to invest money into talent and AI tech to detect bots on the platform. This isn't the way to go. It could tarnish the platform," another user commented.

Less than 24 hours after his initial announcement, Musk returned to clarify, "Forgot to mention that accounts you follow directly will also be in For You, since you have explicitly asked for them."

Twitter Blue's rollout hit roadblocks early on when users bought verification to impersonate celebrities, politicians, and even companies. It was revoked twice and ultimately reinstated with the addition of new check mark colors: gray ones for governments and yellow ones for businesses.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Iran isn't worried about the US attacking it, but Biden has other ways to cut a deal with Tehran

Tue, 03/28/2023 - 5:28pm
Iranians celebrate Hassan Rouhani's presidential election victory in May 2017.
  • While the Iran nuclear deal may never be revived, there are still ways to engage and avoid conflict.
  • Sanctions relief and good-faith engagement can go a long way to ease tensions and avoid a nuclear Iran.
  • John Reid Wilcox is a research analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The trend lines in US-Iran relations today make for grim reading in Washington. Faced with unrelenting US pressure, Iran's leaders are regularly meeting with Russian and Chinese officials and pledging unprecedented levels of cooperation. Iran's nuclear program recently crossed a key threshold into production of weapons-grade uranium.

American policymakers today face a key inflection point in the bilateral relationship, and the "no nuclear deal, no crisis" dynamic appears increasingly unsustainable.

Hawkish analysts are calling for a renewed Iran strategy focused on a formal exit from the dormant — or dead — JCPOA, increased sanctions coordination and interdiction efforts, and forward deployment of US military assets. But this amounts to little more than a rehash of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" strategy, which failed to achieve any of its stated objectives and instead led Iran to ramp up its nuclear program and increase its proxy attacks.

The ultimate coercive tool for the US would be an act of war — an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities or key military centers.

But Washington's willingness to use the military option is less than credible today. An attack on Iran could not be subcontracted out to Israel; such a major endeavor would require US participation. But would President Joe Biden, or any other US president, be willing to stake a term's worth of political capital on such a tremendous risk?

Donald Trump with a copy of the memorandum withdrawing the US from the Iran nuclear deal.

Amidst the backdrop of the US's disastrous efforts in the Middle East over the past two decades, a desire to focus on China, and the long war in Ukraine, the Islamic Republic is probably not immediately fearful of an attack. Additionally, many Israeli and American officials openly admit that an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities might do very little to set back its nuclear progress. Indeed, attacks may incentivize Tehran to proceed more quickly with its nuclear program.

If coercive tools fall short of achieving key American objectives, engagement options could still offer a better way out of the nuclear stalemate. Since the Trump administration's exit from the JCPOA, a diplomatic asymmetry has halted progress in the nuclear talks.

Tehran had no means of dispute resolution after the US's unilateral exit and no way to recover lost revenues after the US stepped out of compliance with the accord. It remains skeptical of the credibility and durability of a US commitment to provide sanctions relief, and its dangerous security environment and rigid revolutionary ideology preclude the possibility of a first step towards Washington.

Some tools of engagement are still available to the Biden administration which could change this calculus and induce Tehran back toward accepting curbs on its nuclear program.

First, Iranian assets frozen abroad (particularly in South Korea and Iraq) have long been discussed as part of a package to return to the JCPOA but have never been released by Washington.

Second, Tehran has voiced understandable concerns about the limited practical impact of US sanctions relief – Washington should signal that in the event of a nuclear agreement, it would take steps to provide proactive assurances to investors and financial institutions that sanctions have been verifiably lifted.

Third, in the event of serious Iranian interest in restoring a nuclear accord, the US should be prepared to decouple a deal's curbs on Iranian nuclear advances from the IAEA's longstanding safeguards probe into potential past undeclared nuclear activity, and apply diplomatic pressure as such.

Photos of President-elect Joe Biden and President Donald Trump are burnt at a protest in Tehran in November 2020.

Such steps may not be sufficient to restore the JCPOA – the original terms of the deal will likely never return due to the diplomatic damage of recent years, and a broader rapprochement is off the table in the medium-term.

But these measures could be enough to signal enough good faith to shift Tehran's perceptions and build momentum for an interim agreement which restores international monitoring access to Iran's nuclear facilities and stops its production of weapons-grade uranium. Paired with private US messaging to China, they could also bolster multilateral diplomatic efforts to pressure Iran back into curbing its nuclear advances.

Iran's domestic uprising has captured global attention and must merit a mention. The IRI's hardliners continue to consolidate power via a bloody and brutal crackdown on its citizens and have continued to badly damage the state-society relationship. The "Women, Life, Freedom" movement deserves Americans' attention and solidarity. But US policymakers can do little to alter the direction of this social movement and extensive attempts to do so could backfire.

Abandoning diplomatic efforts to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring a nuclear bomb risks paving a path toward the IRI's further entrenchment and creating new, dangerous post-revolutionary scenarios involving unsecured nuclear material.

The proposals provided here face a stark uphill battle in the current domestic and geopolitical environments. But for Washington, resigning itself to the worst-case outcome risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Without any momentum towards a new deal, the likelihood of a new crisis grows greater.

John Reid Wilcox is a research analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Read the original article on Business Insider

About Value News Network

Value is the only commonality in an increasingly complex, challenging and interdependent world.
Laurance Allen: Editor + Publisher

Connect with Us