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What is the money market? A financial exchange where companies trade loans, and investors can earn interest on their savings

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 8:43pm
The money market consists of loans, debts, and other highly marketable investments that can offer investors a steady but safe income stream.
  • The money market is a financial exchange where banks and companies buy and sell short-term debt securities.
  • Money market investments like T-bills and CDs are safe and very liquid, paying reliable interest.
  • Money market accounts and money market funds are common ways that individuals can invest in the market.
  • Visit Business Insider's Investing Reference library for more stories.

Money market accounts and money market funds are common investments: Odds are you've often seen them advertised by banks or financial services companies. 

But did you ever wonder what precisely the "money market" itself is? 

The money market is a financial exchange, an informal, electronically linked network of banks, brokerages, and dealers. These institutions come together to lend and borrow money for short periods of time - anywhere from one night to one year. 

Let's look more closely at how the money market works, what sort of investments it involves, and how individual investors can participate in it.

What is the money market?

The money market is a section of the financial market where highly liquid, short-term debt securities are created, bought, and sold. Borrowers tap the money market for their immediate financial needs and to fund their day-to-day operations. Lenders, on the other hand, use the money market so their spare cash can earn interest instead of sitting idly in a vault.

Every nation has its own money market. Nearly 200 financial institutions participate in the US money market, which has one of the largest volumes of daily transactions in the world, totaling nearly $1 trillion. As of May 2020, the value of the US total assets in money markets was approximately $4.77 trillion

What does the money market do?

In the realm of global finance, the money market serves several functions.

  • It maintains a balance in the supply and demand by keeping a constant cash flow in the market.
  • It stimulates economic growth by making money available to small-scale industries and giant corporations alike.
  • It guides central banks, like the Federal Reserve, in implementing appropriate interest rate policies and monetary policies by presenting prevailing conditions in the banking industry.
  • It promotes self-sufficiency by ensuring that banks and companies maintain a sustainable level of liquid reserves on a daily basis, without falling short and needing more expensive loans to get by.
  • It supports the government sector for both national and international trade by providing a good place to park surplus funds until future use.
What are examples of money market instruments?

A variety of different financial assets are bought and sold in the money market. Basically, they are all different sorts of debt, loans packaged in different ways.

The most common money market instruments include:

  • Treasury bills are issued by the US government - like a bond, only with a very brief lifespan. They mature in either 1, 3, 6, or 12 months.
  • Certificates of deposit (CDs) are issued directly by a commercial bank, insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and offered in any denomination. They mature within 3 months to 5 years.
  • Commercial paper is issued by large, high-credit rating corporations who are borrowing to finance immediate cash flow needs, like inventory and accounts payables. Its maturity date falls between 1 to 9 months.
  • Banker's acceptances are also issued by companies but guaranteed by a bank. They are often used in international trade. Their maturity period starts at 1 month and peaks at 6 months.
  • Repurchase agreements or "repos" involve selling a security (usually Treasury bills) with an agreement of buying it back at a later date, at a higher price. A repo's maturity period stretches from overnight to 30 days.
How individuals can invest in the money market

Although some of the individual assets traded in the money market are available to individuals, like CDs, most are designed for institutions and companies - the wholesale market. But the money market has financial instruments specifically designed for individual investors, too - the retail market.

These are funds or accounts that invest in individual money market assets. They fall into two basic types:

  • Money market accounts
  • Money market funds
What is a money market account?

A money market account is a deposit account offered by banks and credit unions. Like a savings account, it is a place to park funds, or to keep as an emergency stash. But unlike a savings account, a money market account gives you more access to your funds by allowing you to withdraw with an ATM card and write checks. 

 

It also offers a higher interest rate than a savings account. While the US' national average interest rate for savings accounts is 0.05% APY, according to the FDIC, the average bank interest rate for money market accounts is 0.07 to 0.12% APY. And some pay much higher.

A money market account limits your number of withdrawals and bank transfers, and you'll need to maintain a certain balance. If you're interested in opening a money market account, a minimum deposit of $5 to $5,000 is required.

Like other bank accounts, money market accounts are insured by either the FDIC or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). That guarantees you'll be reimbursed, up to $250,000 in the unfortunate event the financial institution shuts down. 

What is a money market fund?

A money market fund is a mutual fund offered by investment companies and financial services firms. It is an income-oriented investment, offering a return based on the interest from the short-term debt securities it holds. 

Unlike a money market account, a money market fund is not backed by the FDIC or the NCUA - it is an investment product, not a bank depository product. But it makes up for it by providing a steady, low-risk return on your cash. 

In comparing money market funds, look for one that offers a positive yield combined with a low expense ratio. Some examples include:

Money market fund minimums vary, from zero to several thousand dollars. Usually, they're the same as the requirements for other funds offered by the investment company or financial services firm.

Why invest in money market funds and accounts?

Money market funds and accounts are considered highly safe vehicles, ones you can easily transfer money in and out of. Money market funds and accounts can serve several purposes:

  • store a windfall or serve as an emergency fund
  • bring some diversification into your financial portfolio
  • act as a place to park cash until you find another investment - one offering growth or appreciation

Think of money market vehicles as cash with benefits - the benefits being the low but steady interest income they provide. They are highly liquid, mirroring the short-term debt they invest in. Because these debt assets are so short-term - the loans ranging from overnight to one year - they are considered pretty low-risk, and highly liquid (easy to sell). 

The financial takeaway

The money market is of the financial system. On the institutional or wholesale level, it involves the trading of short-term debt - things like US Treasury bills, commercial paper, banker's acceptances, and other instruments - between established commercial and investment banks, brokerages, and corporations. 

At first glance, the money market comes off as a professionals' financial arena reserved only for the big institutional players and financial pros. But individual, or retail investors, can also participate in it, via money market mutual funds and bank accounts.

In doing so, they get a safe place to park their cash, and even earn a little interest on it.  Money market funds and accounts don't offer the highest yields, but that's the trade-off for their convenience and reliability. 

Related Coverage in Investing:Bonds vs. CDs: The key differences and how to decide which income-producing option is better for youA corporate bond provides companies with cash and investors with income - here's how to evaluate the risks and rewardsFixed-income investing is a strategy that focuses on low-risk investments paying a reliable returnThe key differences between a money market account and a money market fund, and how they each serve different financial needsWhat are liquid assets? A guide to the investments that are easiest to cash in, and why they're important

 

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Read the email Expensify's CEO sent to customers on MLK Day outlining the company's plan to fight injustices with a 'highly experimental' crowdsourced campaign

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 8:16pm
  • Expensify will spend an extra $3 million to fight systemic injustices in 2021.
  • CEO David Barrett outlined a "highly experimental" plan to let volunteers and donors choose causes.
  • Expensify will focus on climate change, homelessness, hunger, criminal justice, and youth issues.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Expensify plans to donate an additional $3 million toward causes tackling a range of "systemic injustices" in 2021 through its charity arm, Expensify.org, the company announced on Monday.

In an email to customers, CEO David Barrett outlined Expensify's "highly experimental" new approach, which will involve "crowdsourcing the best ways to spend these funds" and giving them directly to volunteers working on five categories of causes: climate change, homelessness, hunger, reducing recidivism, and youth-related issues.

The email, which was sent on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and quoted at length from one of the civil rights activist's speeches, "The Other America," outlined how Expensify would rely on volunteers and donors to guide its contributions.

"We know a lot about receipts, but much less about saving the world," Barrett said. "However, we are confident that among the millions of people reading this, there are countless who do this every day -- and we would like to help you continue your important work."

Read more: How the boom in socially conscious investing is influencing the way massive corporations react to events like the Capitol riots

Expensify plans to solicit applications from volunteers who are already working on - or would like to start - working on tackling those five issues and how they'll use the money and scale up their operations, according to Barrett's email.

Expensify will then let all Expensify.org donors vote on the best applications, give the top 10 a minimum of $25,000 each, work with those campaigns to refine their applications, let donors vote again, give the top 5 a minimum of $50,000 each, refine and vote again, and give the final winner a minimum of $100,000.

Barrett told Insider another key aspect of the new initiative is to "increase the emotional engagement between donors to charity and the recipients of that charity" by connecting donors directly to the volunteers their donations helped out.

"There's a tremendous amount of potential generosity out there that it's just not being captured by most of the nonprofits because they just do a poor job kind of connecting people emotionally," Barrett said in an interview with Business Insider.

Barrett said in the email the idea came out of internal discussions among Expensify employees around its own lack of diversity and how the company could help offset existing systemic biases. Referencing a study by Payscale.com that found women of color overall earn just $0.75 for every $1 that white men earn (in terms of median salaries), Expensify said it would donate $0.25 for every $1 earned by white men at the company - around $3 million annually- to help close that gap.

"In a way, it recognizes that every white man in the organization received the invisible, unavoidable benefit of the systemic bias of society, so any time we hire someone who received this benefit, we try to quantify the effect of that benefit, and pay it back to society," the email said.

Expensify's moves come on the heels of a year in which George Floyd's death created major pressure on companies to do more to address racial, gender, and other inequalities - both within their companies and in terms of their businesses' impacts on society Major companies promised more than $35 billion, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. However, it remains to be seen where all of this corporate philanthropy ends up being spent, how effective those efforts ultimately are in addressing systemic inequalities.

Read Expensify CEO David Barrett's full email:

From: David Barrett
Date:
Mon, Jan 18, 2021 at 5:12 AM
Subject:
[Expensify] Honor Dr. King by using $100k from Expensify.org to fight injustice

Tl;dr - Go to Expensify.org/apply to help save the world with up to $100,000!

2020 was a helluva year, good riddance. Of the very few good things to come out of it, one is a glimmer of hope that social media will begin moderating their platforms in defense of democracy.

But the other was the stark reminder of how non-violent protest is the most powerful way to accomplish real change. I think the most powerful orator of this concept is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., especially in his lesser known -- but I feel most moving -- speech, The Other America:

"Let me say as I've always said, and I will always continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. I'm still convinced that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. I feel that violence will only create more social problems than they will solve."

Indeed, watching that speech again, his words seem more prescient than ever. Contrast how a patient, persistent, and overwhelmingly peaceful Black Lives Matter movement successfully passed scores of police oversight bills around the nation -- while a violent spasm of insurgents at the Capitol brought nothing but chaos, destruction, and an indelible shame to themselves and those who supported their heinous acts.

And yet, while the actions of these domestic terrorists (let's call them what they are) cannot be defended, and derive from an elaborate framework of conspiracy and lies, I'm reminded of what Dr. King said immediately after:

"But at the same time, it is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard."

In a way, the highly successful BLM movement and the catastrophically ineffectual militants serve as two potent case studies in how to succeed or fail in creating positive change in the world.

This is especially interesting given that the two groups, who would seem to have virtually nothing in common, in fact share a key complaint: neither are enjoying the "milk of prosperity and the honey of opportunity" of the America that sees a booming stock market securing the value of their retirement. In the words of Dr. King:

"But tragically and unfortunately, there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the ebulliency of hope into the fatigue of despair. In this America millions of work-starved men walk the streets daily in search for jobs that do not exist. In this America millions of people find themselves living in rat-infested, vermin-filled slums. In this America people are poor by the millions. They find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity."

Though obviously Dr. King is an outspoken advocate for the Black community, he is also an avid defender of all who suffer under the yoke of injustice:

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

So reflecting back on 2020, with so much anger creating so much destruction, I feel the best way to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is to consider the systemic injustices in our society that give rise to this anger -- and to do something about it.

With that in mind, you might already know we launched a charity this time last year, eponymously named Expensify.org. With the generous donations from thousands of donors using the Expensify Card's Karma Points (which makes a small donation with each purchase), Corporate Karma (which makes a donation for every dollar of expenses approved), Personal Karma (which makes a donation for each dollar spent), or just direct donations to the site we were able to help thousands of families with grocery assistance throughout 2020. And that was big. But this year, we want to go much, much bigger:

We are committing an additional $3 million dollars a year to Expensify.org to fight injustice, and we need your help figuring out how to spend it.

Expensify.org exists to "create a just and generous world" by patiently eroding, as "upstream" as possible to have the largest and most permanent achievable impact, large social problems resulting from systemic injustice. We do this by using a direct-giving approach and creating a "Karmic feedback loop" between donors and volunteers as follows:

  1. An Expensify user makes a donation (ie, an Expensify Card holder makes a purchase, resulting in a Karma Points donation being made to an "offsetting" fund for that purchase -- hotel expenses, for example, donate to Expensify.org/homes)
  1. An Expensify.org volunteer scans a receipt for some purchase made as part of one of the charitable campaigns working from that fund
  1. The Expensify.org campaign manager reviews and approves the receipt
  1. 50% of that volunteer's receipt is reimbursed using donor funds

There is one problem: ever since finishing our SNAP grocery reimbursement campaign, we have no active campaigns. This means Expensify.org is accumulating funds, but has no active campaigns to reimburse. This is where you come in.

See, we know a lot about receipts, but much less about saving the world. However, we are confident that among the millions of people reading this, there are countless who do this every day -- and we would like to help you continue your important work. Accordingly, we are crowdsourcing the best ways to spend these funds on campaigns that are at the intersection of justice and one (or more) of five funding areas:

  • Expensify.com/climate - Anything helping mitigate and reduce the effects of climate change, especially on those who will be disproportionately affected as a result of historical disenfranchisement.
  • Expensify.org/homes - Anything helping those who are houseless or in a housing compromised situation, especially if this results from redlining or other racially biased policies in the past.
  • Expensify.org/hunger - Anything helping those struggling with hunger, especially if that struggle results from systemic inequality.
  • Expensify.org/reentry - Anything helping those who are re-entering society after incarceration to avoid recidivism, especially those who were incarcerated based on unjust or even obsolete laws.
  • Expensify.org/youth - Anything helping those under 18, especially those who are in groups that are already marginalized and suffering injustice.

If any of these sound similar to what you already do (or would like to start doing), please let us know! To apply:

  1. Go to Expensify.org/apply
  1. Describe the community work you are already doing, or intend to start
  1. Detail the specific kind of expense that you will be seeking to get reimbursed
  1. Explain how this work relates to one or more of the current funding areas
  1. Outline your plan for how to recruit other volunteers to scale up your campaign

We expect quite a few applications, so we are going to evaluate them in stages. But doing that is also a lot of work, so who better to help than all Expensify.org donors. Specifically, it will work as follows:

  • We will present the complete list of campaigns to every current donor to Expensify.org.
  • They will rank the campaigns in order of interest (after all, we work for them), and we will award a minimum $25,000 budget to the top 10.
  • We will then work with those 10 to flesh out and improve the campaign description, after which we will present the enhanced campaigns again to donors, to re-rank.
  • We will pick the top 5 and award a minimum $50,000 budget to each.
  • We will then work with those 5 to flesh their campaign concept out further, including interviewing initial volunteers to get stories of how each campaign is working out in the real world -- and present one last time to donors for a final vote.
  • The top choice will be awarded a minimum $100,000 budget.

Each selected campaign will be run for at least one year, by the campaign manager who proposed it, during which it will be provided with at least as much budget as was awarded during the donor voting phase -- with the most popular options conceivably receiving much more depending on how much activity we see.

Like everything we do, this is highly experimental as we figure out the right way to be the most helpful to the largest number of people. Hit me up on Twitter @dbarrett if you have any questions about it, or any ideas for how we can do a better job.

One final note before I hit Send: about that three million dollar budget. The idea for this whole thing came out of an internal discussion triggered by the BLM movement reflecting on our own less-than-optimal diversity as an organization. Quite a few improvements and initiatives have come out of that, most of which aren't very visible to the outside. But in particular, we were trying to get creative about how to internalize the concept of "equity" -- which in large part means helping solve problems that happen outside of our walls, not just those we create within.

To try to quantify the scale of the problem in some numerical way, we turned to the Payscale: State of the Gender Pay Gap 2020 report. Specifically, we were struck by the "Gender pay gap by race, relative to white men" chart, which outlines the "uncontrolled pay gap" -- a value that does not limit itself to people in the same role. We feel this is the best measure of the financial effects of accumulated systemic inequality, as in theory if society were perfectly just, everyone would follow the exact same career trajectory regardless of gender or race. But in practice, obviously, that is far from the case.

As you'd expect, the first place we looked was internally, to ensure that everyone at the same role was being paid the same, irrespective of race or gender. Thankfully this is guaranteed by our compensation review process, which has evolved a ton over the years and now calculates compensation formulaically based on an internal voting system involving all employees. This makes it essentially impossible for any one person's bias (positive or negative) to skew the results for anyone else. But we also acknowledge that we exist in a fundamentally biased society -- and that even in the perfect case of us being totally neutral, the accumulation of injustice before people arrive here would still result in skewed results.

This conundrum is the whole basis of the philosophy of "equity", which led us to our first, very brute-force proposal: let's just directly pay anyone in a historically marginalized group more, based on the Payscale data. This would mean white women, who earn $0.81 on the dollar relative to white men, would get a 19% raise -- to "catch them up". All Black, Native American, and Hispanic women would get a 25% raise. The thought process was that in theory, had they not experienced systemic bias prior to joining the company, they would be earning that much. However, those who were slated to receive the bonus were universally opposed to the idea -- everybody obviously wants to be paid more, but those who would have benefited the most wanted to help others more than they wanted to help themselves.

So the second thought was to take that same money, and rather than paying it to the employees directly, to instead donate it to Expensify.org with a focus on justice and unwinding the effects of systemic bias. This was similarly well intentioned, but missed the mark: it in effect creates a "tax" on all non-white men, which creates perverse incentives in hiring.

This led to the third idea -- the one we're actually going with -- which is to take the largest wage gap ($0.25 on the dollar), and then for every one dollar paid to a white man in the company, donate $0.25 to Expensify.org. The result adds up to about $3MM/yr. In a way, it recognizes that every white man in the organization received the invisible, unavoidable benefit of the systemic bias of society, so any time we hire someone who received this benefit, we try to quantify the effect of that benefit, and pay it back to society.

Is this the best possible idea? Probably not. But "perfection is the enemy of the good", so we've opted to do something tangible, rather than debate endlessly without taking action. Got a better idea? Let's talk on Twitter @dbarrett, I'd love to hear it.

And that's a wrap. We're super excited to launch this initiative, and can't wait to hear what ideas you have. But for now, let me finish with one final quote:

"True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice."
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Take this day to reflect on the path that got you where you are, and how that path might have been helped or harmed by the invisible hands around you. Regardless of gender or race, nationality or political affiliation, injustice is everywhere. Every one of us sees it every day. It's our decision what to do about it.

-david

Founder and CEO of Expensify

Read the original article on Business Insider

Egyptian archaeologists unearthed a 4,200-year-old funerary temple for a queen and 50 coffins in an ancient city of the dead

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 7:02pm
A sarcophagus found near Queen Nearit's funerary temple in Saqqara, which was unveiled on January 17, 2021.

For millennia, ancient Egyptians were laid to rest in burial shafts under Saqqara, a city of the dead in the desert south of modern-day Cairo. 

But royal Egyptians like King Teti - a pharaoh who ruled more than 4,300 years ago - were buried in pyramids, along with the women they married. Archaeologists discovered a pyramid belonging to one of Teti's wives at Saqqara in 2010, but her name wasn't mentioned on the walls inside.

That gave rise to a mystery about the ancient woman's identity - she was an unknown member of Egyptian royalty. A new finding provides the answer: Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities announced Sunday that excavators had uncovered a funerary temple near Teti and his wife's burial pyramids with a name on the wall: Queen Nearit.

"I'd never heard of this queen before. Therefore, we add an important piece to Egyptian history about this queen," Zahi Hawass, head of the Saqqara archaeological mission, told CBS News.

Queen Nearit, which can also be spelled Neit, is probably not buried in the funerary temple, since these structures served primarily as place of worship where priests would honor dead royals. Other people could also visit to offer food and gifts to the deceased. 

Part of the temple had been uncovered before this excavation, according to the ministry, but the recent discovery cements the identity of its owner.

Coffins buried 40 feet under the sand rewrite history

Near Nearit's temple, archaeologists also discovered three brick warehouses containing offerings to Teti and his queen, along with tools that had been used to build her funerary temple. Additionally, they found 52 burial shafts containing more than 50 wooden coffins, or sarcophagi, that were at least 3,000 years old. 

Workers excavate a burial site at Saqqara, January 17, 2021.

It was the first time sarcophagi that old had been found at Saqqara, according to the ministry. They're roughly 500 years older than the most ancient coffins found in the city to date.  

The discovery confirms that Egyptians buried their dead in the necropolis during the New Kingdom era, between the 16th and the 11th century BC. That's far earlier than Egyptologists initially thought.

It will "rewrite the history of this region," Hawass said in a statement.

One of 50 wooden sarcophagi found near Queen Nearit's tomb at Saqqara.

The recent discovery is the latest in a series of findings from Saqqara.

Since September, researchers have found at least 160 human coffins buried below the sand, in shafts up to 40 feet deep. This latest trove brings that total up to 210 or more.

According to the archaeologists, many of the newly discovered coffins are decorated with illustrations of Egyptian gods and excerpts from the "Book of the Dead," an ancient manuscript that guides souls through the afterlife.

Decorated wooden sarcophagi from Saqqara on display during the official announcement of the recent discovery on January 17, 2021.

Inside the all the sarcophagi found so far, presumably, are linen-wrapped bodies of ancient Egyptians whose organs were removed before burial. The mummies stayed in the sealed sarcophagi for thousands of years.

Egyptologists have opened a few of them. Archaeologists picked one Saqqara sarcophagus to open live in front of an audience at a small event in November. They conducted an immediate, real-time X-ray of the mummy inside, which revealed a short, ancient Egyptian man who'd been in good health before he died around age 40 or 45. Egyptian officials also opened a sarcophagus on stage during an October press conference.

A mummy is displayed during the official announcement of recent findings from Saqqara on January 17, 2021.

Some of the 50 new coffins were also opened and put on display Sunday, when Hawass and ministry officials announced their recent findings. 

The burial shafts contained more than just mummies The underside of a wooden sarcophagus discovered at Saqqara, which was put on display on January 17, 2021.

Inside the burial shafts near Nearit's tomb, Hawass's team found a trove of artifacts in addition to the coffins. There were funerary masks, a bronze axe from a leader of a pharaoh's army, bird-shaped sculptures, a limestone tableau, and a shrine dedicated to the jackal-headed deity Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead.

The archaeologists also discovered a set of board games, including one called "Senet," a chess-like game that Egyptians believed would let a dead person make it into the afterlife - if they won.

Findings from inside the Saqqara burial shafts: The far right table contains the 13-foot-long excerpt from the Book of the Dead, while the far left table shows a bronze axe.

One shaft contained a 13-foot-long, 3-foot-wide papyrus scroll as well. 

The scroll was a complete chapter from the "Book of the Dead," containing instructions for how to navigate the afterlife. It's the first time such a large papyrus scroll has ever been discovered inside a burial shaft, Hawass said.

A newly discovered sarcophagus from Saqqara.

These discoveries probably won't be the last Saqqara offers up. As excavations continue there, more burial shafts - and the treasures therein - are still being uncovered.

"Actually, this morning we found another shaft," Hawass told CBS News on Monday. "Inside the shaft we found a large limestone sarcophagus. This is the first time we've discovered a limestone sarcophagus inside the shafts. We found another one that we're going to open a week from now."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Advertisers face a fraught start to the year

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 6:40pm

Hi and welcome to this weekly edition of Insider Advertising, where we track the big stories in media and advertising. I'm Lucia Moses, deputy editor.

Remember you can sign up to get this newsletter daily here

This week: Advertisers are in the hot seat, the rise of Newsmax's Greg Kelly, and creators warm to Instagram Reels.

Virginia National Guard soldiers are issued their M4 rifles and live ammunition on the east front of the U.S. Capitol on January 17, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Advertisers are back in the hot seat

The inauguration, once a time for brands to show patriotism and unity, has become fraught with risk.

Some big advertisers are getting pressured by investors to lean on the big platforms for their role in spreading conspiracies and hate that led to the Capitol riots. 

And backers of last summer's ad boycott of Facebook are talking of resuming their pressure campaign on advertisers to stop spending on the platform.

As the boycott showed, advertisers are loath to quit the platforms they think are essential to their business.

Many advertisers eventually tiptoed back onto Facebook, with carefully worded statements that it was doing better at curbing hate and misinformation. The boycott barely impacted Facebook because advertisers are too fragmented a group to make an impact with their dollars.

But the riots have drawn attention to other enablers of extremism, from the Silicon Valley giants that provided the pipes for right-wing platform Parler to cable companies that distribute pro-Trump content. The boycott organizers are back, demanding the platforms permanently ban Trump.

So while most of the scrutiny has been on the tech giants for their role in enabling toxic content, advertisers are likely to stay in the spotlight of this storm.

Read more here:

Inside the rise of Newsmax's Greg Kelly

Aaron Short profiled the lively local morning show host-turned-far-right defender of Donald Trump.

He's the face of Newsmax, a fringe cable network that aims to compete with Fox News for conservative viewers.

From Aaron's story:

On Newsmax, Kelly is the plainspoken outsider railing against the hubris of media elites. But the broadcaster owes his longevity in journalism to family and political connections. He has also been incredibly lucky. He was lucky to get hired by Fox News and tapped to be a local morning anchor when its then-CEO Roger Ailes was friendly with his father. He was lucky to get another gig in cable because the company's CEO was revamping its lineup. And he was lucky Donald Trump liked him and promoted his show.  

Trump will soon leave office but Newsmax has become devoted to promoting the reactionary forces that backed him. Kelly has become a vessel of right-wing fury perpetuating a false political myth with deadly consequences, and his audience is only growing.

Read the rest here: Ridiculed, overlooked, and under-estimated. As Newsmax's biggest Trump booster, Greg Kelly may finally be getting his revenge on the 'fake news' establishment

Instagram Reels

Creators warm to Instagram's Reels

Instagram's TikTok competitor launched in August 2020 to mixed reviews, with The New York Times famously calling it a "dud."

It may be too soon to write off what might have seemed like yet another failed copycat attempt by Instagram parent Facebook. Some creators are telling Sydney Bradley that they've cracked the code on using it to grow their audience and many are calling it a "magic bullet."

The change could be in part because Instagram has been whispering in creators' ears, telling them how to optimize the algo.

Still, it's not a zero sum game - creators realize it's important to keep using both apps.

"I think that's one of the most crucial things that you need to do as a creator," said one. "You have to diversify." 

Read more: Instagram creators say they're getting supercharged audience growth by posting Reels: 'I haven't had this growth in a long time'

More stories we're reading:

Thanks for reading, and see you back here next week.

- Lucia

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Roborock's top-of-the-line robot vacuum has powerful suction but its video surveillance is an expensive novelty - I'd wait for it to go on sale

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 6:06pm

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Roborock may not be a household name yet, but the company makes some of the best robot vacuums in our buying guide. Since launching its first unit in 2016, Roborock has focused exclusively on robot vacuums but has added mopping capabilities and even home security features so they can be more useful than getting rid of dust.

The Roborock S6 MaxV is one of the brand's latest models. It's an update of the S6, the top pick in our guide. The improvements include stereo cameras that help it avoid common obstacles and provide HD surveillance footage, up to three hours of battery life, stronger 2500 Pa suction, and multi-floor mapping.

I tested the S6 MaxV for several months, and while I still prefer the S6, there are many reasons why others might want to choose the S6 MaxV instead. 

Specs

The robot vac is larger than most I've tested at 13.75 inches in diameter and 3.75 inches high, though this isn't a big deal. It's only a factor if the clearance between your furniture and the floor is less than four inches. In this situation, you can measure the clearance to ensure the vac will fit under furniture or at least won't get stuck. Or if you can, push the furniture back a bit so the vacuum can do its work.

The main brush is 6.5 inches long and maintains direct contact with the surface it's cleaning. The main brush is fed by one side brush at the front-right of the unit.

The 2500 Pa suction is impressive, but this number should be taken with a grain of salt since there isn't a standardized way to measure suction in the robot vacuum industry. Still, during testing, the suction appears to translate to better cleaning - and extra noise (more on that in a bit).

The S6 MaxV comes with an additional HEPA filter, 458-milliliter dust bin, 297-ml water tank, mop attachment, mop cloth, and a pad that attaches to the charging dock to protect your floors from prolonged exposure to moisture. 

Set-up process

Setting up the S6 MaxV was a fast, seamless job that took about 10 minutes. First, I removed the packaging, plugged in the charging dock, and set the vacuum on the dock to charge. Even if you don't charge it before your first cleaning session, the vacuum comes with 50% battery power you can use it right away. 

I spent the next five minutes installing and connecting the Roborock app. I created a schedule for the robot to run daily, which proved a little confusing since it's unintuitively located in the "Timer" section of the menu.

Review of the Roborock S6 MaxV

I recently tested 16 robot vacuums for our guide, and the S6 MaxV consistently performed well in the battery of tests we put each model through. 

During testing, I poured a tablespoon each of kitty litter, coffee grounds, and flour, and some pet hair on separate 18-inch-square sections of carpeting and hardwood flooring. Next, I run the robot vac on its highest suction setting for two cleaning cycles, compare the before and after photos, and assess how much the unit picked up.

I tested the Roborock S6 MaxV by seeing how much flour, coffee grinds, kitty litter, and pet hair it can pick up on hardwood floor and carpet.

The S6 MaxV picked up almost everything. On the carpeting, only about 5% of the flour was left after the cleaning cycles, and there were traces of coffee grounds and kitty litter. On the hardwood, about 5% of the flour and kitty litter were left behind, but the coffee grounds were gone. And, on both surfaces, there was no pet hair to be found after running the vac.

The S6 MaxV also did a good job of cleaning in corners. I sprinkled a teaspoon of flour in carpeted and hardwood corners to see how close the unit could get. On the carpeted corner, the S6 MaxV got within an inch and picked up 70% of the flour, which is excellent. The hardwood performance wasn't as impressive, but it was still good - the vac came within 1.5 inches of the corner and picked up about 50% of the flour.

Before and after of how effective the S6 MaxV was in hardwood and carpeted corners.

One of the cool things about the S6 MaxV is that it features two HD cameras to help navigate around obstacles and offer remote viewing - as in, home surveillance. You can guide the vac using the joystick-like controller in the Roborock app. It worked smoothly and provided a clear picture. However, I didn't find the feature particularly useful since we're living through the novel coronavirus pandemic and have rarely left the house. Still, it might be a useful feature in the future if you're away and want to check on your pets or make sure doors and windows are closed.

I usually don't find the mopping function of many robot vacuums to be useful. It's a pain to fill the water tank, set it up, and remember to remove it again. The hassle seems especially futile since most models aren't able to scrub your floors for a deeper clean. However, the tank on the S6 MaxV is larger than most so I can go longer between refills. Like other robot mops, the S6 MaxV can also detect and avoid carpeting, and I can also set no-mop zones and adjust the water flow based on the room being cleaned. It's a good option for regular, light cleaning, but I still occasionally needed to perform deep cleans. 

Cons to consider

I have a one-inch threshold between my living room and kitchen, and it's the nemesis for the S6 MaxV. On some days, it can handle it without an issue. On others, I will get a notification from the app that it's stuck on the lip. Most vacuums I've tested bump into the threshold and avoid the kitchen altogether. The S6 MaxV can at least clean the kitchen sometimes, but I've decided to make the threshold a no-go zone because I don't like having to save the vac when it gets stuck. You may want to do the same if you have a threshold of similar thickness between rooms in your home.

In my testing of robot vacuums, I've noticed the strongest ones are also the loudest and this was the case with the S6 MaxV. On the quiet mode (which you can set in the app), my sound meter registered 63 decibels, which is louder than a normal conversation. On high suction, it was a bit louder at 67 decibels or almost as loud as a busy highway from 50 feet away. This won't hurt your ears, but it may make it hard to watch TV or have a conversation in the same room as the vac. However, vacuums can resuspend dust into the air while cleaning, so if you have a sensitive nose, you shouldn't be in the same room when it's running anyway.

Should you buy it?

Since even budget robot vacs are still considered a luxury item and don't tend to perform as well as your standard upright vac, I'd say at around $750, the S6 MaxV is mainly for people with expendable income or for techies who need to have the most high-tech gadgets available. This is the top-of-the-line model from one of the most respected names in the robot vacuum industry, but it does come at a high investment.

Though I appreciate the smart mopping options - no-mop zones and scheduling specific rooms - a robot pushing a damp cloth across your floor may only be minimally useful depending on your household. And while the cameras and surveillance features are a nice touch, I didn't find them all that helpful beyond a fun novelty. However, if you're looking to boost your home surveillance when you're away and are in the market for a robot vacuum, then the S6 MaxV may be worth the cost.

If you have the luxury of time and can wait a bit, you'll typically find excellent deals on robot vacuums especially during Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other big sales events.

What are your alternatives?

I tested more than 16 models to determine the best robot vacuums in our buying guide. If you're interested in Roborock, pay particular attention to the Roborock S6, which is our top pick and usually costs about $100 less than the S6 MaxV when it's not on sale. It's the predecessor to the S6 MaxV so you lose the HD camera surveillance but it's quieter and doesn't get stuck as easily.

The bottom line

Despite these minor considerations, I was impressed with how well the Roborock S6 MaxV performed in our tests on hardwood floors and carpet and found the vac functioned as advertised.

Pros: Outstanding performance on carpeting and hardwood, mop capabilities, HD camera for remote video surveillance, useful app, cleans deep into corners

Cons: Loud, larger-than-average dimensions, constantly got stuck on a one-inch threshold during testing, video surveillance isn't as useful if you're home often

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How to watch UFC 257: Conor McGregor returns to the octagon for a PPV match on ESPN+ this Saturday

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:58pm

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Conor McGregor defeated Dustin Poirier in their 2014 meeting at UFC 178.

Former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor is returning to the octagon to face #2 ranked lightweight Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 257 on January 23.

McGregor has fought just twice since 2016, losing the lightweight championship to Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018 and scoring a first round knockout against welterweight Donald Cerrone in January 2020. The UFC star has flirted with retirement but said he was "grateful" for his latest UFC booking.

McGregor defeated Poirier with a first round knockout in their previous meeting at UFC 178 in 2014, when both fighters were in the lighter featherweight division. Poirier has posted an impressive 8-2 record since that bout, including a short reign as UFC's interim lightweight champion.

McGregor vs. Poirier will have lasting implications on UFC's lightweight division - reigning champion Nurmagomedov announced his own retirement after defeating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, leaving the championship belt open for the taking. Gaethje remains the division's top ranked fighter, but lost a head-to-head match with Poirier in 2018. The winner of UFC 257 could face Gaethje in a title fight for the vacant lightweight championship.

UFC 257 will be held at the UFC Fight Island campus on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Fans will not be allowed to attend due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the venue makes it easier for UFC to host international fighters and safely quarantine staff. A total of three events will be held at UFC Fight Island in January.

Here's the match schedule for UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor Early Prelims - 6:15 p.m. ET, 3:15 p.m. PT on UFC Fight Pass
  • Andrew Sanchez versus Makhmud Muradov [Middleweight]
  • Nik Lentz versus Movsar Evloev [Catchweight]
  • Amir Albazi versus Zhalgas Zhumagulov [Flyweight]
Prelims - 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT on ESPN+ and ESPN
  • Khalil Rountree Jr. versus Marcin Prachnio [Light Heavyweight]
  • Julianna Peña vs  Sara McMann [Women's Bantamweight]
  • Brad Tavares versus Antonio Carlos Junior [Middleweight]
  • Arman Tsarukyan versus Nasrat Haqparast [Lightweight]
Main Card - 10 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. PT on ESPN+ for $69.99
  • Marina Rodriguez versus Amanda Ribas [Women's Strawweight]
  • Matt Frevola versus Ottman Azaitar [Lightweight]
  • Jessica Eye versus Joanne Calderwood [Women's Flyweight]
  • Dan Hooker versus Michael Chandler [Lightweight]
  • Dustin Poirier versus Conor McGregor [Lightweight]
How to watch UFC 257

UFC 257 is separated into three portions: the early prelims, the prelims, and the main card. The early prelims are only available to UFC Fight Pass subscribers, while the prelims will air on ESPN+ and the ESPN cable channel. The main card is an ESPN+ exclusive pay-per-view event.

This means that you have to subscribe to the ESPN+ streaming service before you're able to purchase the main card PPV. An ESPN+ membership costs $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year. The UFC 257 PPV event costs $69.99 for ESPN+ subscribers.

You can access the ESPN+ app on all major mobile and connected TV devices, including Amazon Fire, Apple, Android, Chromecast, PS4, Xbox One, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs, and more.

Ways to save on the UFC 257 pay-per-view price

If you plan on signing up for ESPN+ to watch UFC 257, you can take advantage of a special discounted package.

New subscribers can purchase a year-long ESPN+ membership with access to UFC 257 included for a total of $89.98. That's over 30% off the standard price. Following your first year of service, ESPN+ will then renew for the regular annual price of $59.99.

Bundle the next UFC PPV with an ESPN+ Annual Plan to save over 30% Read the original article on Business Insider

The best books of January 2021, according to Amazon's editors

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:57pm

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It's a new year and that means it's time for a new book or two (or ten!). Whether your resolutions this year included more reading, you're seeking a screen-free escape, or you're looking to broaden your perspective, books provide an excellent tool for navigating these uncertain and often anxiety-riddled times.

With all of this in mind, Amazon's book editors have gathered a list of their top 12 reads for January. The top pick, "Black Buck," is a satirical novel that Amazon editor Al Woodworth describes as "a wildly funny and exuberant page-turner, a mash-up between the humor of the everyday and the insanity of start-up culture."

In addition, this month's list includes a moving and intimate memoir from Gabriel Byrne, a novelized version of Agatha Christie's disappearance, and a fresh take on the Western genre.

Here are Amazon's best books of January 2021: 

Captions have been provided by Amazon's book editors.

"Black Buck" by Mateo Askaripour Product Card

This is a wildly funny and exuberant page-turner, a mash-up between the humor of the everyday and the insanity of start-up culture. The novel follows Darren Vender, a Starbucks employee who joins a new tech company and quickly transforms into "Buck," the company's best salesman—and only Black salesman. You'll root for Buck, his neighborhood, and his mission—just hang on to your hat. —Al Woodworth 

"The Prophets" by Robert Jones, Jr. Product Card

The intimate connection between two male slaves toiling on a Mississippi plantation is the only thing that cuts through their otherwise brutal existence. This is the one bright spot in a lyrical but devastating debut novel that shines a harsher light on a shameful legacy that is still deeply felt today. It's also a profound reminder of love's power to repudiate it.  —Erin Kodicek 

"Waiting for the Night Song" by Julie Carrick Dalton Product Card

This debut novel, which tackles issues as broad as climate change and racism, will rightly be compared to Delia Owens's "Where the Crawdads Sing." "Waiting for the Night Song" has the lyricism of a poem, and the pacing of a thriller. Dalton is a writer to watch. —Sarah Gelman 

"Outlawed" by Anna North Product Card

Cowboy antics abound in Anna North's novel about a band of outlaws and their quest to establish a place where they belong. There are hideouts and shoot-outs but also the grim reality of what it means to be an outcast from society and a barren woman at the turn of the century in America. This is a brilliant twist on the Western genre and a welcome addition, indeed. —Al Woodworth

"Better Luck Next Time" by Julia Claiborne Johnson Product Card

Johnson's wryly funny novel celebrates the complexity of friendship and love in its story of a 1938 Reno ranch that caters to women seeking divorce. Charmingly told through the eyes of a ranch hand who is pulled into the shenanigans of two guests, this bighearted story offers hard-won wisdom and will leave readers smiling at the end. —Adrian Liang

"The Mystery of Mrs. Christie" by Marie Benedict Product Card

Readers will hone their own detective skills as they race through Marie Benedict's exhilarating novelization of Agatha Christie's true-life disappearance in 1926 on the cusp of her leap to mystery-writing greatness. Whether you're a Christie enthusiast or a historical fiction lover, every page is a revelation, and Benedict builds this tale of a marriage on the rocks to a flawless finale. —Adrian Liang

"Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder" by T.A. Willberg Product Card

"Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder" reads like "Harry Potter" for adults — set in foggy 1950s London — with dashes of "The Kingsmen" and even a sprinkle of steampunk. Below an unassuming bookshop lies a secret, subterranean detective agency, stunned by a murder in its ranks. Atmospheric world-building, a satisfying locked room mystery, and brave detecting apprentice Marion Lane make this a delightful page-turner. —Vannessa Cronin

"Nine Days" by Stephen Kendrick and Paul Kendrick Product Card

To paraphrase Lenin, sometimes there are weeks where decades happen. Or in this case, nine days. The authors place the reader into a tense historical moment, populated by historical figures just coming into their own, to illustrate how King's jailing, and Kennedy's reaction, formed an inflection point that still defines our political parties today. —Chris Schluep

"Aftershocks" by Nadia Owusu Product Card

Achingly intimate and flaming with rage, hurt, and sadness, Nadia Owusu's memoir wrestles with big questions of identity and demonstrates just how fragile it can be. After the death of her father and the discovery of tectonic-shifting secrets of her family's past, Owusu must "construct a story, to reconstruct her world." A blistering and searching portrait of what it means to belong and to whom. —Al Woodworth

"The Wife Upstairs" by Rachel Hawkins Product Card

Part of the fun of "The Wife Upstairs" is seeing how closely Hawkins sticks to the plot of "Jane Eyre," and the other part is how inventively and audaciously she strays from it. And going from English Gothic to Southern Gothic is just the beginning. Unpredictable twists, smart spins on the canon, and even a hat tip to "Rebecca" make this a fun read. —Vannessa Cronin

"Walking with Ghosts" by Gabriel Byrne Product Card

"Walking with Ghosts" would be a fascinating, moving, lyrical, and touchingly funny memoir even if one didn't know its subject and author were actor Gabriel Byrne. No celebrity-studded tell-all, Byrne, with the wonder of someone examining pieces of sea glass, touchingly and self-deprecatingly recounts the people and events that shaped him and set him on his life's path. — Vannessa Cronin

"Drug Use for Grown-Ups" by Dr. Carl L. Hart Product Card

Dr. Carl L. Hart, a neuroscientist and expert on drug use, presents a shocking and revelatory argument for a revisionist drug policy. Hart's scientific research, close examination of racist drug laws, and his personal experiences shed new light on decades of propaganda and compel us to take a fresh look at the facts of drug use, addiction, and incarceration.  —Seira Wilson

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'I don't know how some people sleep at night': Former Fox News host Shepard Smith unloads on the network, calling out those who 'propagated the lies'

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:53pm
Shepard Smith
  • CNBC anchor Shepard Smith opened up about his struggles at Fox News in a new interview with Christiane Amanpour of CNN.
  • "If you feel like the Fox viewers were getting mis- or disinformation, I was there to make sure that they got it straight," Smith said.
  • Smith said the falsehoods from his colleagues on the opinion side became too much to bear, describing that element of the network as "injurious to society."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Shepard Smith, the former Fox News host now anchoring his own show at CNBC, unloaded on his former employer in a new interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

Smith, who became a household name among Fox News viewers over the decades after hopping aboard at the network's founding in 1996, left his post in October 2019.

"If you feel like the Fox viewers were getting mis- or disinformation, I was there to make sure that they got it straight," Smith said.

—Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) January 19, 2021

"And to deprive those viewers of - it wasn't just me, there's an entire team of people getting the news to the air - to deny them that with the thought that [the network] might replace it with opinion instead, seemed a little selfish," Smith said.

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

"So I stuck with it for as long as I could. And at some point, I realized I'd reached a point of diminishing returns, and I left."

Yet the scenario Smith outlined regarding his thinking at the time - that network brass would take the 7 p.m. hour he helmed and move it over under the purview of an opinion host - is precisely what is happening now.

Fox News recently moved news anchor Martha MacCallum from the 7 p.m. slot to 3 p.m., with a rotating cast of opinion hosts auditioning for a new show. 

Amanpour asked Smith how he feels about those recent developments, in addition to opinion hosts like Sean Hannity "doing campaign rallies for President Trump, so blurring the lines as to become the propaganda arm of the Republican Party."

"Well, I feel the same way about that now that I did then," Smith said. "My goal was just to keep the blinders on, and do my job to the best of my ability."

Smith also delivered a harsh condemnation of the Fox News opinion side.

"Opine all you like, but if you're going to opine, begin with the truth, and opine from there," he said. "And it's that deviation from that, that has caused me the greatest concern.

"And I believe that when people begin with a false premise and lead people astray, that's injurious to society," Smith continued, "and it's the antithesis of what we should be doing."

After Amanpour mentioned Hannity and the Murdoch family, who own the Fox News Channel along with several other prominent conservative-leaning outlets around the world, Smith said he hopes those in positions of power at Fox learn from their mistakes.

"I slept very well," Smith said. "I don't know how some people sleep at night, because I know there are a lot of people who have propagated the lies and have pushed them forward over and over again, who are smart enough and educated enough to know better. And I hope that at some point, those who have done us harm as a nation - and I might even add as a world - will look around and realize what they've done.

"But I'm not holding my breath."

 

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A complete price breakdown for Sling TV packages

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:52pm

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


Cord cutting - or ditching cable - is all about freeing yourself from the confines of contracts, getting rid of bulky hardware, and, most importantly, saving money. But many of the live TV streaming services out there are creeping up in price, ever closer to the threshold that might cause you to reconsider canceling that cable subscription after all.

But Sling remains one of the options on the market that is truly much cheaper than a cable subscription. Though you may make some sacrifices in the user-interface department - it's a bit clunky and not as intuitive as some of the more expensive services - the streaming quality is top-notch, making its cost-effectiveness a no-brainer if Sling carries the channels you watch.

Updated 01/19/2021 by Ben Blanchet: Updated language for accuracy and timeliness.

How much does Sling cost?

Sling offers two different channel bundles, Orange and Blue, and each one costs the same at $30 a month. While the services are largely the same, there are a few channel differences between the two packages. 

Sling Orange gives you access to a total of 33 channels, including ESPN and Disney Channel. This plan also includes 10 hours of DVR storage and support for streaming on one device at a time.

While Sling Blue doesn't include Disney Channel or ESPN networks, it makes up for it by adding on other channels like Bravo, Discovery, NFL Network, and - in select areas only - NBC and Fox. In total, Sling Blue offers 45 channels. It includes 10 hours of DVR and supports streaming on up to three devices at the same time. 

If your little one absolutely can't miss "DuckTales" on Disney Channel and you can't live without "The Real Housewives" on Bravo, you can bundle the two packages together and get a small multi-service discount. Instead of paying $30 times two, the bundle package is $45 a month for over 53 channels. You can find a full list of channels on Orange and Blue here

As a special introductory offer, new Sling subscribers will get their first month of Orange or Blue for just $20 or the Orange + Blue bundle for $35. At that price, it's a great opportunity to see if the service is right for you without sinking a ton of cash into trying it out.

Does Sling offer add-on packages?

Additionally, Sling offers a ton of different add-on options if you want to beef up your channel selection. For $5 to $10 a month, you can add mini-bundles like Sports Extra, Kids Extra, Comedy Extra, News Extra, Lifestyle Extra, Heartland Extra, or Hollywood Extra. Each offers a handful of channels in the genre you select. 

You can get four of the mini-bundles - Kids Extra, News Extra, Lifestyle Extra, and Comedy Extra - for $12 a month. If you have the Orange + Blue bundle, the Sports Extra package - with channels like ESPNU, ESPNEWS, NBA TV, and the NHL Network - will cost you $15 extra a month.

Sling comes with 10 hours of DVR storage included, but you can upgrade to 50 hours for an additional $5 a month.

If you want to package all the extras together, Sling offers its Total TV Deal. This bundle includes all seven add-ons plus cloud DVR storage for an additional $20 a month with Orange or Blue, or an extra $25 a month with the Orange + Blue bundle.

Sling is also not slacking on their premium channel add-ons either. They offer a Showtime package for an additional $10 a month, a Starz package for $9 a month, and EPIX for $5 a month. You can also pay for an international sports add-on for $60 a year as well as add-ons from Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America.

What devices can I watch Sling on?

If you have a smart TV, it's likely the Sling app is already installed, and you can start streaming right away once you sign up. Sling is also available on most streaming players, including Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, and Apple TV.

If you don't have any of those products, Sling has a device offer to get you streaming quickly and affordably. If you subscribe and pre-pay for two months of Sling, they'll throw in a free AirTV Mini device. Click here for full details on current device bundles from Sling. 

All in all, Sling might not have the beautiful interface that Hulu + Live TV sports has or the channel selection that Youtube TV boasts, but for the money, Sling is the best low-cost service out there. The streaming quality is comparable to cable, and if Sling carries the channels you watch most often, the price can't be beat.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 9 best online courses, apps, and books to start learning German

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:46pm

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

Learning German - a language with over 132 million speakers and famously tricky grammar - can be a difficult solo undertaking, but it can also be a fun way to spend any spare time during the pandemic.

Whether you're brushing up on high school German or completely starting from scratch, there are several online platforms available to help you meet your goals. But where to start? E-learning platforms like Rosetta Stone and Duolingo boast millions of users and promise a fast track to fluency, each with their own respective pedagogies. There are also many great books and free online resources, depending on your needs and learning style.

Learning a language on your own can be tough, and you're going to want to use a combination of resources to fully practice speaking, listening, writing, and reading. For example, pairing an online learning platform with a physical vocabulary book is a great idea to get you acquainted with the language before working with a virtual italki tutor or diving into more in-depth YouTube videos.

Once you choose the resources and methods that work best for you, you'll be watching Netflix's "Dark" without subtitles in no time.

The 9 best online courses, apps, books, and websites to learn German online: Platforms and apps For intuitive learningProduct Card

German grammar is notoriously difficult for people who haven't studied languages with case systems. If you want to find a way to learn the language more intuitively, Rosetta Stone might be your best bet because it's focused on immersive learning that replicates the way infants learn their native language. It also provides feedback on your pronunciation and gives you real-life scenarios to work with.

For ambitious language learners, Rosetta Stone offers an unlimited-language annual subscription for $189, but if you'd like to focus on German, you can pay $11.99-$14.92 a month, depending on your subscription plan.

For bite-sized gamesProduct Card

Duolingo offers a little bit more structure than Rosetta Stone, and it's free (unless you opt for Duolingo Plus, which gets rid of ads and gives you unlimited mistakes). Users are able to see the entire lesson plan from the start, so it's easy to see where you are in relation to the big picture, which can be encouraging. Since Duolingo is structured like a set of mini-games, it works best for people who enjoy learning in fun, bite-sized chunks and can commit to quick daily exercises. 

For more visual cuesProduct Card

GermanPod101 is one of many, many languages offered by Innovative Language – a company whose programming extends from Afrikaans to Nepali and practically everything in between. Most of the materials are free and audio/visual-focused, with incremental learning similar to Duolingo. There are premium subscriptions available that allow users to ask teachers quick questions, which might clear up some of the problems you'll find in the first steps of learning any language.

For a (virtual) classroom experienceProduct Card

Udemy offers over 130,000 courses in almost anything, with more lectures being added each month — and often on sale. As far as its German language offerings are concerned, new learners can pay as little as $9.99 for class packages, focusing on skills as specialized as pronunciation with a native speaker. Other courses cover all the basics, beginning at level A1, and provide built-in tests and pronunciation practice exercises.

For one-on-one tutoringProduct Card

If you're looking to work one-on-one with a German speaker, italki tutors range in experience, from sociable native speakers to professional teachers well-versed in guiding students from A1 to fluency. Each tutor posts an introductory video showcasing their language skills and teaching style, and often offer trial lessons for a reduced price.

Books For a simple breakdownProduct Card

One of the best books out there for a survey of the German language is "German Made Simple," which, as the title suggests, makes German pretty simple. This book will probably remind you of a workbook that you used for language classes in high school or college, which is why it's a great resource for people who want to brush up on particular skills but maybe aren't looking for an intensive learning plan. You can just flip to the chapter on the dative case or glance at the glossary to re-familiarize yourself. One of the best features in the book is that there are tons of little exercises in each chapter, making for a user-friendly fusion of textbook and workbook that doesn't quite feel like homework. 

For getting German grammar downProduct Card

McGraw Hill's "Practice Makes Perfect" language series has an edition called "Complete German Grammar," and like the rest of the books in the collection, it's very cut-and-dry. This no-nonsense tome is great for people who are looking to get the nitty-gritty of the language very quickly. Like "German Made Simple," there are plenty of exercises, but this book wastes no time in exploring grammar extensively. If you want to tackle German grammar head-on before developing your vocabulary, it would make sense to master this book and pair it with its sister text, "German Vocabulary" or Barron's "501 German Verbs."

Websites For real-life examplesProduct Card

The Youtube series "Easy German" has dozens of videos featuring native speakers conducting man-on-the-street-style interviews in various German-speaking cities. One of the first things you'll notice when interacting with this language is that to the untrained ear, the German spoken in Zurich may as well be an entirely different language from how it's spoken in Vienna. Easy German addresses these issues — and others that you won't be able to find in a textbook or on an e-learning platform — in a way that's watchable and unintimidating. The videos come with subtitles in English and German, so you can follow along and make side-by-side comparisons.

For realistic reading practiceProduct Card

DW (Deutsche Welle) is another excellent resource for anyone interested in learning the language from reading. In addition to being a popular news source in Germany, its language learning website has over 300 instructional videos and full-blown courses — all for free. Organized by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), there are courses available from A1 all the way to C. 

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Royal Caribbean to sell its Azamara brand including 3 ships for $201 million as the company continues to push back 2021 sail dates

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:43pm
An Azamara ship.
  • Royal Caribbean is selling its Azamara cruise line brand to Sycamore Partners for $201 million.
  • The Azamara deal is the latest shakeup in a list of cruise industry disruptions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Royal Caribbean is selling its Azamara cruise line for $201 million while cruises in the US remain docked during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company announced Tuesday. 

Sycamore Partners, the private equity firm purchasing Azamara in cash, will own the cruising brand and its fleet of three ships after the purchase is completed by the end of the quarter. Carol Cabezas, Azamara's COO, will serve as president of the cruise line. 

"Azamara remains a strong brand with its own tremendous potential for growth," Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group, said in a statement.

Read more: COVID-19 has created a once-in-a-lifetime crisis for Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but after surviving hijackings and shipwrecks, the industry looks unsinkable

The ownership change will also result in a $170 million non-cash impairment charge. According to Royal Caribbean, this Azamara sale won't "materially impact" the cruise company's financial outcomes.

Unsurprisingly, recent months haven't exactly been smooth sailing for Royal Caribbean. In December, Royal Caribbean announced it had sold its Empress and Majesty of the Seas cruise ships. Just several months prior, the cruise company reported it had lost $1.3 billion in its third quarter, the Miami Herald reported.

This Azamara announcement and Royal Caribbean's difficulties are only some of the shakeups in the long list of cruise industry disruptions that have happened in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. From stranded crew members to refund issues to a "wasted year," things have been looking a bit bleak for cruise companies around the world.

However, according to Royal Caribbean, this latest deal will allow the mega cruise company to "focus on expanding" its Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Silversea Cruises brands.

Read more: Carnival and Royal Caribbean salaries revealed: From $32,000 to $383,000, here's how much the cruise industry's power players pay some of their employees

The sail date for these cruise lines, and other cruises around the US, still remain to be seen as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on.

Are you a cruise industry employee or have a cruise industry story to share? Contact this reporter at bchang@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

US Capitol insurrection

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:41pm
Read the original article on Business Insider

Photos show what DC looks like a day before Biden's inauguration

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:35pm
Workers put up "Biden-Harris" branded bunting on a press riser along the inaugural parade route near the White House on January 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. Thousands of National Guard troops have been activated to protect the nation's capital against threats surrounding President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration and to prevent a repeat of last weeks deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Inauguration Day 2021 is unlike those in the past. 

President-elect Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in amid a coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the US as of Tuesday and just two weeks after the deadly breach of the US Capitol. 

Last week, Harris said that she and Biden would not  "yield to those who would try and make us afraid of who we are," in response to soon being sworn into office outside of the US Capitol.

"We cannot abandon the appreciation that we should all have for the traditions that are symbolic of our commitment to our democracy," she told NPR

Biden also said he was not afraid to take the oath in the traditional outdoor ceremony at the Capitol building despite security concerns throughout the country.

Since the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has urged Americans to stay home and out of DC during the inauguration. In their place, 200,000 American flags have been set up at National Mall for the ceremony. 

 

Here are photos that show what DC looks like a day before Biden and Harris are sworn into office. 

National guardsmen on the outer perimeter along Massachusetts Avenue, NW.

The armed and deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6 has prompted increased security measures, including the deployment of more than 20,000 members of the National Guard to DC.

Man showing his middle fingers as his wife take a picture of him, John Hyde, from Oakland, CA. "This is to the entire regime, the 4th Reich," he said. Man giving the finger is having his wife take a picture of him, John Hyde, from Oakland, CA “This is to the entire regime, the 4th Reich” Close up detail of wanted billboard on bus stops from January 6 insurrection. Close up detail of wanted billboard on bus stops from January 6 insurrection

More than 145 pro-Trump rioters have been charged in the Capitol insurrection.

A soldier from the 29th Infantry Division of the Virginia National Guard at the Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue. Soldier on guard surrounding the capital perimeter Typically filled with celebration-goers, downtown streets in DC are deserted this year. Deserted downtown streets

The 2021 presidential inauguration will be scaled back and is expected to gather a smaller crowd than at past events due to COVID-19 restrictions and heightened security. 

President-elect Joe Biden said last month that he expected his Jan. 20 inauguration to be a "more imaginative" virtual event. 

"It is highly unlikely that there will be a million people on the mall, going all the way down to the [Lincoln] Memorial," Biden said.

And even if they did, it would be difficult for them to celebrate in person or in the city altogether. 

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a statement ahead of the ceremony that typically draws hundreds of thousands of people calling on Americans to stay out of DC for the inauguration. 

"Due to the unique circumstances surrounding the 59th Presidential Inauguration, including last week's violent insurrection as well as the ongoing and deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking the extraordinary step of encouraging Americans not to come to Washington, D.C., and to instead participate virtually," the joint statement read, according to WTOP News

In an effort to prevent hate groups from disrupting Biden's inauguration, Airbnb announced it would cancel and block all reservations in Washington, DC made for the week of the ceremony. 

The Transportation Security Administration "significantly increased" security at DC airports ahead of Inauguration Day. TSA is processing hundreds of names with law enforcement agencies for a thorough risk assessment, according to a statement published Friday.

 

Guard trucks at the inner perimeter in front of the Teamsters building. Guard trucks at the inner perimeter in front of the Teamsters building Union Station was near-empty ahead of Inauguration Day. A near empty Union Station Fences and soldiers surround the Capitol. Fences and soldiers surrounding the Capital

National Guard troops are being taught to screen their colleagues as US defense officials said they fear an insider attack on Biden's inauguration.

"We're continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation," Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said.

 

 

Anti-abortion activists chalk the residential streets of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Anti-abortion activists chalk the residential streets of the Capital Hill neighborhood Solider from the 29th Infantry Division of the Virginia National Guard at the Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue. Soldiers surrounding the capital perimeter Cement blocks have been placed around the Capitol perimeter. Fences and soldiers surrounding the capital perimeter National guardsmen on the outer perimeter along Massachusetts Avenue, NW. National guardsmen on the outer perimeter along Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Caution tape has been put up to block off streets around the Capitol building. Caution tape has been put up to block off streets around the Capitol building. Pedestrian walks with a political sign near the Capitol building. Pedestrian walks with political sign near the Capitol building.

The US Capitol went into lockdown Monday following an "external security threat" that turned out to be a fire at a nearby homeless encampment, according to law enforcement officials.

The alert came as security at the complex has been increased to unprecedented levels ahead of Inauguration Day. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best Airbnbs in San Diego

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:34pm

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Known for its moderate year-round climate, perennially popular beach towns, and thriving surf culture, San Diego has long captured the imaginations of travelers near and far. It doesn't hurt that the life and legend of Ron Burgundy continue to reign supreme here, so much so that one of the city's most beloved organic taco shops even has a burrito named after him (pro tip: it's delicious).

Appealing to those seeking a laid-back beach getaway, it evokes more of a small town in a big city vibe, especially compared to its formidable neighbors to the north, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the US, many travelers are seeking scenic domestic getaways with easy access to nature. Experts and the CDC have also noted that private vacation rentals like Airbnbs are safer than hotels due to little to no contact with staff or other travelers. And according to a recent survey released by Airbnb, California is one of the most popular locations for rentals right now.

However before you click the book button, you might want to read up on California'scurrent travel restrictions and advisories, especially when it comes to staying in an Airbnb. As of December 9, the governor of California enacted the state's most extreme regional stay home order to date, which also included a ban on "leisure lodging bans" across large swaths of Northern and Southern California. As such, you may want to plan now, but put any actual travel plans on hold until the future.

That said, for those who are eyeing a trip to San Diego, there's plenty of variety to keep you busy. Much like New York City, every neighborhood has its own distinct personality and flavor. For the urbanites, the Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy are chock full of bars and nightlife. La Jolla with its idyllic La Jolla Cove and upmarket restaurants and boutiques has long been a fan favorite. Drive 25 miles up the 101 and you'll find yourself in beach towns from Cardiff and Encinitas, both of which are a great option for surf and beach bums looking for a more casual atmosphere.

While there's a premium placed on staying a bit closer to the ocean, if you're willing to explore farther afield and stay in some of San Diego's most beloved local neighborhoods, you can have a more affordable vacation. No matter your preferences, there's no shortage of amazing accommodations to choose from.

We selected San Diego Airbnbs based on the following criteria:

  1. Listings are for the entire home, cottage, or stand-alone apartment to avoid interaction with owners or other guests, in line with recommended COVID-19 precautions.
  2. We kept affordability in mind but found a range of rates to suit various budgets, with listings priced between $87 and $318 per night to start.
  3. All are top-rated properties, listed by Airbnb Superhosts, with a review score of 4.85 or higher.
  4. Each property has a variety of appealing amenities from private pools and hot tubs to and decks with water views, and many are within walking distance of the beach. 
Here are the best Airbnbs in San Diego, sorted by price from low to high. A cozy craftsman home in historic Golden Hill, $87 Book this historic craftsman home starting at $87 per night

Set in a 100-year old craftsman-style home in San Diego's historic Golden Hill, this one-bedroom abode is clean, quiet, and excellent for exploring one of San Diego's most eclectic neighborhoods.

Tastefully decorated with design charms in every nook and cranny, this hidden gem is located just south of Balboa Park and the World-Famous San Diego Zoo, a must-visit for first timer's traveling to San Diego. A vetted Airbnb Plus listing, this home features a soothing neutral color palette and southwestern flair by way of decorative pillows, sheepskin rugs, and succulents galore. The host is a local San Diegan, and guests rave about her responsiveness and tips on local spots to explore.

This cozy historic home has a lot of availability starting at the end of January.

Rating: 4.89

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Charming cottage with a private patio in Normal Heights, $89 Book this charming cottage starting at $89 per night

Tucked away in a residential area on the outskirts of San Diego's trendy Normal Heights neighborhood, what this private studio lacks in physical space it more than makes up for in character.

The gray and white minimalistic decor help the space feel bright and open. Ideal for the solo traveler or couples, this studio also features an enclosed private courtyard that comes with a gas grill, cushy loveseat, and wooden dining table.

The property has received a near-perfect rating by more than 175 guests who've stayed here and past guests rave about the studio's convenient location to some of the area's most beloved bars and cafes.

This cozy getaway has scattered dates of availability starting at the end of January and beyond.

Rating: 4.99

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

A zen-like studio in South Mission Beach, $100 Book this zen studio starting at $100 per night

Set in one of San Diego's most iconic locales, this cozy studio in South Mission Bay is ideal for couples or solo travelers. Complete with a Queen bed, bikes, and boogie boards, it's just a quick walk to get to San Diego Bay and all that this venerable neighborhood has to offer.

Guests who have stayed at this wood-clad studio with bamboo accents have lauded its convenient location to the boardwalk and nearby Belmont Park, both of which are great places to spend an afternoon sightseeing and people watching. The apartment also comes furnished with a small patio and grill, ideal for those warm San Diego nights.

There are scattered days available in January and February, and the home has wider availability starting in March and beyond.

Rating: 4.86

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Spanish-style cottage on Coronado Island, $108 Book this Spanish-style cottage starting at $108 per night

If you're looking to explore a different side of San Diego, this cute cottage on Coronado Island is a great place to start. Coronado is perhaps best known as the home of the legendary Hotel Del Coronado (known locally as The Del,) and this newly renovated home, which features a great soaking tub and fully stocked kitchen, is right nearby. 

Just a quick trip over the iconic Coronado bridge from downtown San Diego, this spot comes stocked with all the cooking essentials you need and is well within walking distance to shops and restaurants. Guests who've stayed here have raved about the unique location while still being in close driving proximity to the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego. The black-and-white checkerboard flooring, white subway-tile shower, and lovely interior living room space make this a great option for guests looking for a different kind of island getaway.

One important thing to note is that the washer and dryer are shared in the complex, which might be a turn off to some travelers right now. 

This popular home tends to book in advance, with the first dates of availability starting in the middle of March.

Rating: 5.0

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

A bohemian chic loft in Little Italy, $166 Book this bohemian loft starting at $166 per night

One of San Diego's most exciting neighborhoods, this boho-chic loft in the heart of Little Italy boasts Southwestern-style with a twist, from the longhorn skull accent to the colorful red and yellow tones to the portable art deco bar. It features a gorgeous garden oasis, but the big sell is the private rooftop with views of downtown and San Diego Bay. Not to mention its convenient location close to the Gaslamp Quarter.

With more than 400-reviews and a near-perfect rating, guests here love watching the sunset from the rooftop and the walkability factor of the neighborhood.

Housed inside The Dutra Inn, this one-bedroom unit is a five-story walk-up with no elevator, be aware this option might be limiting to some travelers.

This home has limited availability in February, but is pretty much wide open starting in March.

Rating: 4.98

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Modern family getaway in Ocean Beach, $166 Book this modern beach bungalow starting at $166 per night

One of San Diego's last "authentic" beach communities, this modern two-bedroom bungalow in Ocean Beach is a great place for a small group or family. The area, known locally as OB, is home to some of the best local eats, quirky boutiques, and surf shops, as well as being in close proximity to Sea World and downtown San Diego.

Just a block away from the beach, this light-filled home features a spacious roof deck with sweeping views over the bay and ocean. Boasting a modern minimalist design, unique highlights include the hammock swing in the ground floor bedroom the rooftop sun lounger, ideal for soaking in a sunset. Plus, large windows can be opened to let a cool ocean breeze waft through.

This popular modern home is available for bookings starting at the end of January with most of February still up for grabs.

Rating: 4.85

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Colorful pet-friendly beach home in the heart of Encinitas, $172 Book this pet-friendly beach home starting at $172 per night

California living doesn't get much better than this pet-friendly beach house in the heart of Encinitas. Complete with a stone fire pit in the backyard and wooden picnic table on the spacious covered porch, this home is designed to showcase the best of indoor and outdoor living San Diego has to offer.

The colorful paintings, cheerful accents and backsplashes, along with bright blue and green furniture in this two-bedroom home make for an exuberant atmosphere. The master bedroom features a King bed and direct porch access. The second bedroom includes a Queen bed and bunk beds, making this ideal for a family or small group of friends. It also has a washer/dryer, which comes in handy for those doing longer stays.

Pop over to nearby Swamis Café or the Encinitas Ale House for a local bite.

This Airbnb books quickly and has limited availability through February, so it's best to make plans a few months in advance.

Rating: 4.92

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Charming La Jolla beach cottage with a secret garden, $191 Book this cottage starting at $191 per night

It's tough to beat enjoying breakfast in the secret garden of a beach cottage in the heart of La Jolla. This beautiful light-filled abode features one King bedroom along with a full kitchen and plenty of outdoor space.

Tucked away on a residential street of La Jolla Village, the area features some of San Diego's most upscale shopping and boutiques. Best of all, you'll find one of San Diego's premier beaches just a short distance away at La Jolla Cove, along with some of the best fine dining restaurants and oceanfront restaurants and bars.

The home expertly balances a unique mix of retro beach decor with romantic accents, including ornate headboards, a marble-topped breakfast bar, ocean-themed pillows, and blue and white accents throughout.

As popular with local San Diegan's looking for a staycation as it is for out of towners, this cottage has limited availability in January with more dates opeing in February.

Rating: 4.98

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Secluded country casita in the heart of Encinitas, $235 Book this country casita starting at $235 per night

While most people traveling to San Diego dream of staying near the beach, this gorgeous casita in rural Encinitas just might convince you not to.  Set within an exclusive gated community in a country-like setting, this guesthouse boasts a private entrance and hundreds of miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding right outside your front door.

Stylish furnishings like elegant French doors, a bright white kitchen complete with espresso machine, and an indoor fireplace in the bedroom make this a standout stay. However, it's the outdoor amenities that are the biggest draw here. With access to the home's private tennis court and 45-foot pool, as well as a private patio and gardens, this is a great option for nature lovers looking for some peace and quiet away from the fray of city life.

While this is a guesthouse located on a larger property with another home, if you're skeptical of the privacy, one recent reviewer praised their experience saying, "Wonderful peaceful stay. Clean, spacious, bright guesthouse. Gorgeous yard with lush trees and gardens. Loved the hot tub and tennis court. Family was at home in the main house but our space felt very private. Loved sitting out on the patio reading."

This home books quickly and has limited availability until the middle of February.

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

A modern oasis with ocean views in Cardiff, $318 Book this modern oasis in Cardiff starting at $318 per night

One of southern California's coolest beach towns, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, is beloved by locals and visitors due to its laid-back atmosphere and world-class surf culture. In fact, you don't have to stray too far if you want to check the surf report here since you can see the ocean from the home.

Just across the street from beautiful Glenn Park, this elegant two-bedroom home offers modern amenities and beachy but calming decor, along with a 900-square-foot patio and fire pit for cozying up and watching the sun set. 

Inside, a large wrap-around breakfast bar and full kitchen, as well as a laundry room and two full bathrooms, make this a great long-term stay option for families. Also featuring a private two-car garage, heat lamps, grill, and outdoor shower, the indoor-outdoor living room set up is is great for both warm and chilly nights by the beach.

This popular home tends to book in advance, with the next available dates starting in mid-March and wide availability in April.

Rating: 4.94

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best air purifiers in 2021

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:24pm
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
  • An air purifier can help clear your indoor air of pollutants, dust, and smoke.
  • We tested and researched more than 10 air purifiers to determine the best ones for your needs and budget.
  • The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ is the best air purifier because it can clean a 650-square-foot room in 15 minutes and has an indicator so you know when to clean or replace filters.

An air purifier can greatly help improve the quality of indoor air, which can be more polluted than the air outside your home. According to the EPA, air purifiers outfitted with a HEPA filter are an effective way to remove particles from smoke and ash and can be particularly helpful in improving symptoms for individuals with asthma or COPD that are triggered by wildfire smoke.

If you're considering an air purifier to help protect against the novel coronavirus, according to the EPA, a portable air cleaner by itself is not enough. However, when used along with other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention such as hand washing and social distancing, operating an air cleaner can be part of a plan to protect you and your household. 

Our guide of the best air purifiers recommends models that are easy to maintain, remove a broad array of irritants from the air, and performed well in our tests. When we examined each model, we considered its Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), noise level, long-term costs, maintenance, and filtration systems. We also noted how easy they are to use, as well as any other useful features.

We explain our testing methodology here at the end of our guide, and included other models we looked at that didn't make the cut as well as air-purifying techniques.

Here are the best air purifiers of 2021Updated 1/19/2021: Prices and links are current as of 1/19/2021. We added new air purifiers we're looking forward to testing for future updates. The best overall The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier filters the air in medium-to-large rooms up to five times per hour, and it's so quiet that you won't notice it's operating.

Pros: Does an excellent job of removing dust, pollen, and smoke; indicator lets you know when to clean/replace filter; attractive appearance; easy to use

Cons: Filter replacement is expensive

The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier is designed to remove bacteria, mold, pet dander, dust, pollen, viruses, and other airborne pollutants. And, with a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) of 350 cubic feet per minute, it can clean the air in a 650-square-foot room approximately four times in an hour. Plus, it's small and lightweight enough for you to effortlessly move it from one room to the next.

The Blue Pure 211+ has three-stage filtration: a fabric pre-filter, particle filter, and carbon filter. And, the unit tells you when it's time to clean or replace the filter. Replacing the filter can be quite pricey though it should be done every six months to ensure you continue to breathe properly filtered air. The Blue Pure 211+ is Energy Star-certified and has relatively low energy costs (using 30 to 60 watts).

Another nice feature is that it runs quietly, ranging from 31 decibels on its lowest setting and 56 on its highest — quiet enough to use in a bedroom.

Last year, the Blueair 211+ was sold out at many online retailers or were selling at marked-up prices due to the California wildfires and the novel coronavirus pandemic. The purifiers are more available now, and we never suggest buying items that are marked up if you can help it.

The best on a budget If you're looking for an air purifier that offers an impressive balance of price and performance, the Honeywell HPA300 True HEPA Air Purifier is your best bet.

Pros: Affordable; intuitive controls; easy to transport; does a very good job of removing smoke, dust, and pollen

Cons: Complaints of odors; might be too loud on high speed for some; expensive replacement filters

Honeywell is a trusted brand when it comes to air purifiers, and the HPA300 True HEPA Air Purifier is the company's most acclaimed model. In a crowded field of expensive models, this Honeywell unit does the best job of balancing performance with price.

With a CADR of 320 for dust (300 for smoke and pollen), the HPA300 is suited for rooms of up to 600 square feet. It has an activated carbon pre-filter, which needs to be replaced every three months, and three HEPA filters, which need to be replaced every year. A year's supply of replacement filters will run you approximately $70, so the operating cost is quite high. An indicator light lets you know when it's time to change the filter.

The biggest drawbacks are the high costs for filter replacement and operation.

This was also previously available on Walmart via third-party sellers, which we don't recommend as shipping dates and prices are unreliable and return policies are dubious at best. Thankfully, the item is available via Honeywell now.

The best wall-mounted purifier The RabbitAir MinusA2 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier can be mounted to a wall for an attractive and unobtrusive appearance.

Pros: Low filter and operating costs; silent operation; wall-mounted; outstanding at removing particulate matter; attractive appearance; five-year warranty

Cons: Expensive upfront cost

When installing an air purifier, you not only have to account for the space the unit takes up, but you also have to provide clearance around it to allow for airflow. When real estate is at a premium and appearances are important, the wall-mounted RabbitAir MinusA2 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier addresses this.

The MinusA2 has a six-stage filter: pre-filter, medium filter, patented BioGS HEPA filter, charcoal-based activated carbon filter, optional negative ion generator, and a customized filter. The custom filter is unique in that you can choose to target toxins, odors, pet dander, or germs depending on your needs. The filter replacement kit is expensive, but you only need to budget for it every two years or so.

This was previously only available on Amazon via third-party seller, which we don't recommend, but it's now available on Amazon via the RabbitAir store directly. 

The best splurge The Coway Airmega 400 Smart Air Purifier barely makes any sound and adjusts the fan speed based on the air's pollution level.

Pros: Quiet; attractive design; energy-efficient; cleans the air in a 760-square-foot room in 15 minutes

Cons: Expensive filter contributes to the overall price 

The Airmega 400 Smart Air Purifier is Coway's top-of-the-line model. It features two sets of filters on each side of the unit: the easy-to-clean pre-filter and the Max2 filter, which is a combined True HEPA filter and activated charcoal. When it's time to change the filters, the indicator light turns on. The Airmega 400 can monitor the air quality and adjust the fan speed to quickly filter the air.

I tested this air purifier on the main floor of my home in a centrally-located spot. Although it's designed for rooms up to 760 square feet, it still did a great job in my open, 1,400-square-foot area, filtering the air in about 15 minutes.

On Smart mode, the fan speed ramps up when I get overzealous with my meat searing in the kitchen. After a year of use, I'm just now nearing the end of the original filter's lifespan. Replacing the filters is incredibly pricey, however. 

While some recommend the Wi-Fi-enabled version, the Airmega 400S, the only real difference between the 400S and 400 is the app-connectivity and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Other than that, performance is essentially the same.

This was previously out of stock at many online retailers but it's more readily available now.

Read our full review of the Coway Airmega 400 The best ionizing purifier In addition to three filters, the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier includes ionization, and the fan speed adjusts based on the air quality.

Pros: Automatically adjusts fan speed based on pollutants in the air; timer; four-stage filtration; eco mode

Cons: High power consumption, gets loud on high

Coway is one of the top names in air purifiers and the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier is its most popular model. It has an array of high-end features, including an air quality indicator, an auto mode that adjusts the fan speed to the air quality, and a shut-off timer.

The Mighty has a CADR of 246 cubic feet per minute for dust, 240 for pollen, and 233 for smoke, which makes it a good option for rooms of up to 460 square feet. The air goes through four filter stages: pre-filter, odor filter, true HEPA filter, and an ionizer. An ionizer electrically charges air molecules for purification; it can lower bacterial infections by removing particles in the air. But note that the effectiveness has been questioned and may emit ozone. Fortunately, any ozone exposure is minimal, and you can turn the ionizing feature off if you're concerned.

The Coway Mighty is one of three air purifiers I'm currently running in my home. My son has it in his bedroom so we can minimize our home's "teen odor index." We've had it for a year, and it does an outstanding job. And, I like how easy it is to clean the pre-filter: When the indicator light tells me it's time for cleaning, I just run a cordless handheld vacuum over it. So far, I haven't had to replace the filter, but it's pretty affordable and it lasts for a year.

If you're looking for a similar model, Coway has a newer version called the Airmega 200M. Based on our testing, the 200M is more powerful but is otherwise similar in performance to the Mighty. Depending on the color, you can sometimes find the newer Airmega 200M to be significantly cheaper than the Mighty. If you come across this, we suggest going with the cheaper of the two because the performance is so similar. We think you'll be satisfied with either.

The Mighty didn't experience discernable shipping delays or inventory issues previously and is readily available on Amazon.

What else we recommend

While researching this guide, we looked at numerous models and brands of air purifiers. Many of them just missed the cut, but are otherwise strong products in their own right. Here are five that almost made it:

How we test air purifiers

When I test an air purifier, there are several things I look for such as the rate in which it cleans, noise level, and more. 

In addition to hands-on testing, I turn to other established reviewers, such as Wirecutter and Consumer Reports, for their assessments. Based on my and other experts' research and testing, and looking through the manufacturers' specs, I'm able to compare the key performance indicators of the top models.

Here are the main attributes when testing air purifiers:

CADR: Clean Air Delivery Rate is a rating developed by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers that is used to determine how many cubic feet of air an appliance can clean in a minute. If you multiply the CADR by 1.875, you can determine what room size the air purifier can clean four times in one hour, which is the recommended minimum number of air changes per hour (ACH). This calculation assumes an average ceiling height of 8 feet. Don't worry if this sounds confusing: We put it in easy-to-understand terms in our guide.

Noise level: A good air purifier will operate in the background without most people noticing it. Loud air purifiers are a deal-breaker. I use a sound meter positioned four feet from the air purifier and measure the decibels when the fan is at its lowest speed and highest speed. The average unit should register less than 40 decibels (like light rain) most of the time and about 60 decibels (normal conversation) on high.

Long-term costs: Air purifier filters don't last forever. They need to be replaced every 3 to 24 months, depending on the type of filter. When buying an air purifier, you need to factor in filter costs and operating expenses. Look for Energy Star-certified units if you want to save money on electricity.

Maintenance: If your filters are dirty, then they won't perform well. You need to clean your filters regularly. I prefer an air purifier that tells me when it's time for a cleaning. A cordless hand vacuum is all you need to clean most filters. You can clean some with water, but read the user's manual to make sure it's okay before doing this, and be sure to thoroughly dry the filter before using it again.

Filtration: You want a true HEPA or HEPA-type filter that can remove at least 99.97% of 0.3-micron airborne particles. The purifiers in our guide all meet this requirement. Additionally, some models have ionizers. Ionizers are controversial, but they reportedly produce negative ions that cling to air pollutants, which makes them easier to filter or vacuum up.  

What we're looking forward to test

We'll continue to test our top picks to see how they hold up long-term. Here's a look at other air purifiers we're looking to test for future updates to this guide:

FrescheAir ($99.99): This is a portable air purifier and deodorizer, so it'd be interesting to see how the smaller size might affect the performance.

Rx Air 400 ($899.99): This is one of the most expensive air purifiers we've seen so it'd be great to see how the quality stacks up to others we've tested. It's also labeled as a Class II Medical Device, which other air purifiers are not.

Dyson Pure Cool TP04 Purifying Fan ($549.99): My colleagues have tested older generations of this air purifier but I have yet to test it personally. 

IQAir Atem Desk Personal HEPA Air Purifier ($399): While most air purifiers are meant for a whole room, this is meant for personal use at a desk or table. 

PURO²XYGEN P500 Air Purifier ($169.97): This is among the least expensive air purifiers we've seen so it'll be a good contender for our best budget pick. Like the RabbitAir, this has a six-stage filtration system, and it's effective in smaller spaces up to 500 square feet. It'll be interesting to see how its low price 

How to keep your air clean if you don't have an air purifier

Intense wildfires that raged in California and Oregon in 2020 burned more than 3 million acres, displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and blanketed cities hundreds of miles away from the epicenters in ash and eerie orange skies. Between wildfires and the novel coronavirus, air quality is at the forefront of many minds. 

With so many people struggling with poor indoor air quality, we spoke with Dr. Junfeng Zhang, Ph.D., Professor of Global and Environmental Health at Duke University, for advice on what you can do if you don't have an air purifier.

Dr. Zhang is particularly concerned about how individuals with asthma, COPD, heart disease, and other pre-existing diseases will cope with the poor air quality on the west coast, which is currently the worst in the world. "In the absence of a HEPA-based air purifier," Dr. Zhang said, "I'd suggest that people, especially those who are more susceptible/vulnerable, wear N95 face masks, even when staying indoors."

Unfortunately, true N95 masks are still hard to come by and should be reserved for medical workers but there are some more widely-available alternatives, such as KN95 masks, which can provide a decent level of filtration. The CDC has released respirator assessment results for some of these. There is a lot of misinformation and counterfeit products floating around, so be extra cautious in ensuring that you're buying from a trusted seller. 

And think again before filling your house with plants. Dr. Zhang said he didn't think they were helpful, and a 2019 article in The Atlantic cites research showing that indoor vegetation will not remove significant pollutants from the air.

If you are one of the lucky ones with an air purifier, remember to clean your filter thoroughly and often so it can do its job. But for an effective multi-pronged attack on pollutants, you'll want to test and improve your air. Here's a guide on how to test and improve indoor quality and simple steps you can take to clean your air more effectively:

  • Clean regularly: Irritants can collect on surfaces and cause sneezing fits when disturbed. When you clean regularly — including dusting and vacuuming — you remove allergens and more. Check out our guides for the best vacuum cleaners, best robot vacuums, best budget vacuums, and best cordless vacuums.
  • Ventilate: This could include installing ventilation fans in your bathroom or kitchen, or running (well-cleaned) ceiling fans. Freestanding fans can also help clean air circulating, here are the best ones. Be sure not to open windows or doors to prevent polluted air from coming inside.
  • Store chemicals outside of your house: Abrasive cleaners and other harsh chemicals are often a source of irritation. Store them in your shed or garage and not where you will be exposed to them regularly.
More helpful buying guides to improve air quality Read the original article on Business Insider

We tested and compared 9 popular online mattress companies - here's what to know before you buy

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:21pm

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Table of Contents

The fact that buying a new mattress no longer requires driving to a showroom and then spending a few hours testing different options under fluorescent lights is a perk of modern life. 

The explosion of online mattress startups means we can try out beds in the comfort of our homes, without hovering attendants, and skip the prices that accompany brick-and-mortar stores. What used to be a tedious afternoon has been simplified to a click.

But the proliferation of options in a vast online marketplace where most mattresses look the same can make the buying process more convoluted than it should be. The products are cheaper, more convenient, and often better - but it can be impossible to distinguish which retailers' mattresses will suit your needs. 

Keeping that in mind, we aimed to streamline the comparison process for you. Below are nine popular online mattress retailers and a cheat sheet comparing what each one's products are known for, to save you time.

All nine mattress retailers offer:

  • A 10-year warranty
  • Free shipping and easy returns
  • A generous 90- or 100-night sleep trial (Tempur-Pedic offers 90, most offer 100)

Once you settle on a mattress, you can treat yourself to a new set of sheets for a job well done.

Leesa

Types of mattresses: Leesa has four mattresses, which we've reviewed here. The Original has three layers of premium foam, the Hybrid has foam and one layer of springs, and the Legend has foam and two layers of springs. The most recent is Studio, which is the brand's most value-oriented mattress and has three layers of foam.

We like that the hybrids combine the support of traditional springs and the comfort of foam for the best of both worlds, though at a higher price point. We named Leesa's mid-tier Hybrid mattress as the top hybrid mattress in our buying guide for the best mattresses online.

Price range: $599-$2,099 depending on the type and size of the mattress.

Delivery: Leesa is doing contact-free deliveries. 

Special features: Its mattresses are produced with 100% American-made materials. Leesa is also a certified B Corp and was named to B Lab's Best For The World list in 2019. 

Current discounts:

  • Take up to $400 off mattresses. 

Learn more about Leesa from Insider Reviews:

Leesa Hybrid Mattress (Queen) Casper

Types of mattresses: Casper has eight mattresses, five of which are sold on its site and three that are sold exclusively at retailers like Target and Zola; we reviewed the five most popular ones here. There are all-foam and hybrid versions of the Original and Wave, and the Snug, cost-effective Element, and super-soft Nova, which also comes as an all-foam or hybrid. The Essential was dropped and renamed to the Element. 

We named the Original the best all-foam mattress you can buy online

Price range: $595-$2,995 depending on the type and size of the mattress. 

Delivery: Casper offers free no-contact delivery.

Special features: Casper utilizes recycled bottles in its covers — from 57 to 121 bottles per mattress.

Current discounts:

  • Use the code "INSIDER" at checkout to get up to $100 off select mattresses.

Learn more about Casper from Insider Reviews:

Casper Original Mattress (Queen) Purple

Types of mattresses: Purple has three mattresses: an original Purple mattress, Purple Hybrid, and Purple Hybrid Premiere. The original Purple mattress offers balanced support with its signature Purple Grid layer. The Hybrid has dynamic support with its Purple Grid and coils. The Hybrid Premiere is an extra inch thick, with coils and 50% more Purple Grid than the Hybrid.

Price range: $649-$3,798 depending on the type and size of the mattress.

Delivery: Deliveries are still ongoing, but might be delayed. 

Special features: The Purple Mattress is billed as the world's first No-Pressure Mattress, or, in other words, it supports the body without creating any painful pressure points or pockets of heat. The company's Purple Grid facilitates airflow and was built to eliminate pressure points altogether. 

Current discounts:

Learn more about Purple from Insider Reviews:

Purple Mattress (Queen) Helix

Types of mattresses: Depends. After filling out a questionnaire with information such as your height, weight, firmness preference, and sleeping style, Helix will develop your very own sleep profile, which will be analyzed to optimize the performance of your mattress. Altogether, the site offers about 13 different options.

Price range: $600 to $2,199 depending on the type and size of the mattress

Delivery: Helix is offering free no-contact delivery.

Special features: Customization of the mattress based on your individual sleep profile. Helix can even set you up with a split mattress so that you and your partner can both be perfectly comfortable sleeping side by side.

Current discounts: 

Learn more about Helix from Insider Reviews:

Helix Midnight Mattress (Queen) Tuft & Needle

Types of mattresses: Tuft & Needle makes three mattresses: the Original, the Mint, and the Hybrid. The Original has 10 inches of Adaptive Foam, the Mint has 12 inches of Enhanced Adaptive Foam, and the Hybrid has 12 inches of Adaptive Foam and springs.

Price range: $350-$1,745 depending on the type and size of the mattress.

Delivery: Standard shipping is available in the contiguous US, white glove delivery is available for $150.

Special features: The T&N foam is meant to adapt to every individual's body; the more pressure you apply, the more it supports you. 

Current discounts:

  • Up to $150 off mattresses 
  • Year-round discounts for active and veteran members of the military, first responders, and healthcare professionals

Learn more about Tuft & Needle from Insider Reviews::

Tuft & Needle Original Mattress (Queen) Bear

Types of mattresses: Bear makes three types of mattresses: the Original, the Pro, and the Hybrid. The Original is medium-firm and has 10 inches of graphite memory foam. The Pro is medium-firm and includes 12 inches of both copper and gel memory foam. The Hybrid is medium-firm and 14 inches high, made from the company's Serene foam as well as coils.

Price range: $500-$1,690 depending on the type and size of the mattress

Delivery: Bear offers contactless delivery. 

Special features: Bear claims its premium graphite gel memory foam was engineered specifically for optimal cooling, comfort, and muscle recovery, so if you want to decrease your chances of waking up sore after a workout, this might be worth considering. Plus, Bear has donated over $150,000 and more than 2,700 pieces of equipment to local youth sports programs in Jersey City through Good Sports Charity.

Current discounts:

Learn more about Bear from Insider Reviews:

Eight Sleep

Type of mattress: Eight Sleep makes one temperature-regulating mattress, and two with more high-tech sleep-tracking features. The Pod can adjust the temperature of your bed to be cooler or hotter while The Pod Pro and The Pod Pro Max has sensors to monitor your health and heart rate and technology to help you wake up more gently. 

Price: Starting at $2,295 for a Full 

Delivery: Free shipping and free returns. Eight doesn't offer white glove delivery or mattress removal. 

Special features: It uses warm or cool liquid in its Active Grid Tech cover to keep you at your ideal temperature — regulating each side of the bed from 55 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. It also includes sensors that track your individual biometrics on each side of the bed, including sleep stages, sleep time, tosses and turns, heart rate, and more. You can control settings and access sleep reports and insights via an app. You can also set your Pod temperature remotely from outside the house. 

Current discounts:

  • Take up to $150 off the Pod Pro at checkout
  • Year-round discounts for members of the military, students, first responders, and more

Learn more about Eight from Insider Reviews:

Eight Sleep The Pod (Queen) Tempur-pedic

Type of mattress: Tempur-Pedic makes five different mattresses: the Tempur-Cloud, Temper-Adapt, Tempur-PROAdapt, Tempur-LuxeAdapt, and the Tempur-Breeze (which you can get in a Luxe or Pro version). All of them are meant to offer great motion separation and pressure point relief, and you can choose your level of firmness for most of them. 

The Tempur-Cloud is the cheapest in its signature Tempur material, the Tempur-Adapt has the addition of a cool-to-the-touch cover, and the Tempur-PROAdapt has 20% more pressure relief thanks to its Tempur-APR material and an added washable, zip-off cooling cover.

The Tempur-Luxe has two different iterations (Luxe and Pro) and is 30% more body-conforming than the Tempur-PROAdapt. Both the Luxe and Pro versions use the same Tempur-CM material with great breathability, but the LuxeBreeze also has built-in ventilation channels. The LuxeBreeze can help you sleep up to 8 degrees Fahrenheit cooler at night, and the PRObreeze can manage 3 degrees cooler. We named the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze the best mattress for hot sleepers.

Price range: $1,699-$8,398 for a Twin to Split King.

Delivery: In-home delivery and installation services are paused temporarily. There is an additional option for curbside delivery.

Current discounts:

  • Save 30% on select mattresses 
  • Get $300 in free accessories or instant credit with select mattress purchases 

Learn more about Tempur-Pedic from Insider Reviews:

Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Mattress (Queen) Allswell

Types of mattresses: Allswell makes three mattresses: the AllswellLuxe, and Supreme. The original Allswell is a hybrid made with memory foam and coil. The Luxe is also a hybrid foam and coil mattress, with the addition of cooling gel swirl foam. The Supreme is a hybrid foam and coil mattress with extra padding and a temperature-regulating foam layer.

Price range: $265-$1,245 

Delivery: There's free ground shipping in the contiguous US over $35. The $149 white glove delivery and $199 white glove plus mattress removal options are temporarily paused.

Special features: Allswell is one of the cheapest hybrid foam and coil mattresses on the market. 

Current discounts: There are no current discounts.

Learn more about Allswell from Insider Reviews:

Allswell Supreme Hybrid Mattress (Queen) Looking for more of the best sleep products?

We have buying guides for virtually everything you can purchase online. We test dozens of products and then rank them in one easy, straightforward list so you get the best without having to dump hours into internet research.

Below, you'll find a few of our guides to the best sleep products on the internet:

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump admits his term is ending but doesn't say Biden's name or formally concede election loss in White House farewell speech

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:21pm
President Donald Trump.
  • Trump in a 20-minute farewell video Tuesday acknowledged a new administration would take over.
  • In the video, Trump wishes the new administration luck without ever mentioning Biden's name. 
  • "I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning," he added.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump acknowledged that a new administration would take office on Wednesday and wished it luck, but did not formally concede his election loss or say President-elect Joe Biden's name in a 20-minute farewell speech posted on the White House's YouTube channel.

"This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous. We extend our best wishes, and we also want them to have luck - a very important word," Trump said at the beginning of his address on Tuesday.

Trump will break with tradition and not meet with Biden before the inauguration or attend his inauguration ceremony. Instead, Trump will hold a departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Wednesday morning before flying to his home in Palm Beach, Florida.

Read more: Here's how Biden will demolish Trump's legacy

The president thanked a number of his family members and top administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence. The relationship between Trump and Pence has been strained after Trump attacked the vice president and pressured him to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Pence does not have the power to do so.

The end of Trump's presidency has been overshadowed by the dark cloud of the January 6 insurrection on the US Capitol, which threatened the lives of Pence and members of Congress. Five people were killed in the violence that broke out when a massive crowd of the president's supporters breached the building while a joint session of Congress was certifying Biden's win.

"All Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol. Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated. Now more than ever, we must unify around our shared values and rise above the partisan rancor and forge our common destiny," Trump said of the violence he was impeached for inciting.

Trump delivering a prerecorded farewell address. Trump ran the gamut of his administration's biggest highlights 

Trump spent a chunk of the nearly 20-minute video highlighting his administration's major policy wins over the past four years.

Among those mentioned include tax cuts, new trade deals, the creation of a US Space Force, appointment of three Supreme Court justices, and the killings of the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

The outgoing president also praised the speedy development of a COVID-19 vaccine and the passage of trillions of dollars toward coronavirus relief, but Trump did not mention the country's death toll surpassing 400,000 on Tuesday, less than a year since the first case was reported in the US.

"We grieve for every life lost, and we pledge in their memory to wipe out this horrible pandemic once and for all," he said.

He also touted America "reclaiming our sovereignty" by withdrawing from multiple international trade deals the administration viewed as unfair, saying: "We restored American strength at home and American leadership abroad.  The world respects us again. Please don't lose that respect."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, had planned to travel to Europe the week after the Capitol insurrection but was forced to cancel his plans because officials from Luxembourg and the European Union were too "embarrassed" to meet with him, Reuters reported. 

Luxembourg's foreign minister publicly tore into Trump, calling him "a criminal" and a "political pyromaniac" who "should be sent to criminal court" over the events at the Capitol.

Despite the local and global backlash, Trump on Tuesday suggested this wasn't the last time people would hear from him.

"As I prepare to hand power over to a new administration at noon on Wednesday, I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning. There's never been anything like it," the president said.

"I go from this majestic place with a loyal and joyful heart, an optimistic spirit, and a supreme confidence that for our country and for our children, the best is yet to come," he added.

Watch the full address here:Read the original article on Business Insider

Fauci says serving in the Trump administration was 'somewhat awkward'

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:14pm
President Donald Trump listens to Dr. Anthony Fauci at a press briefing.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that his experience serving in the Trump administration has been "somewhat awkward."

 "It's not a happy day when you have to get up in front of national TV and contradict something that the president of the United States says," Fauci said in an interview with Harvard Business Review. "I take no pleasure in that at all."

Fauci, who has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, has worked with every US president since Ronald Reagan.

But President Donald Trump has repeatedly contradicted Fauci's assessment of the pandemic and pushed back against necessary public-health measures.

"People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots," Trump said in a campaign phone call in October, according to a recording obtained by CNN.

Trump has both suggested that Fauci downplayed the virus' severity at the start of the pandemic and also called him an "alarmist." 

Fauci, meanwhile, has scrambled to correct misinformation circulated by the president - including Trump's false claims that the US was "rounding the corner" on the pandemic and that 99% of US cases were "totally harmless."

Fauci told Harvard Business Review that he made a personal commitment decades ago to "always stand by facts and evidence and never be afraid - in a respectful way, in a non-confrontational way - to say what the truth is."

But the current administration, he added, made that goal challenging.

"It's been particularly problematic here because that would often put me in direct conflict - not emotional conflict, but factual conflict - with what the president might say," Fauci said. "So obviously that has not been an easy thing to do."

An initial war of words  Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Fauci listen as Trump speaks during a briefing on March 20, 2020.

Fauci joined Trump's coronavirus task force in late January 2020, shortly after the first coronavirus case was reported in the US. The following month, Trump falsely claimed the virus would "miraculously" go away in April due to "the heat."

Fauci warned at the time, however, that "it would be a stretch to assume" the virus would "disappear with the warm weather."

In March, Trump and Fauci clashed over hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that hasn't been found to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection or improve outcomes for hospitalized patients. Trump initially touted the drug as a "game changer" in the pandemic, while Fauci underscored that hydroxychloroquine was not a proven treatment.

In April, Trump retweeted a call to fire Fauci after the disease expert said the US could have saved more lives by implementing swifter containment measures.

According to reporter Bob Woodward's book, "Rage," Trump deliberately misled the public about the dangers of the virus because he did not want to cause panic. Woodward also reported that Fauci privately said Trump's attention span was "like a minus number" and told an associate that Trump's "sole purpose is to get reelected."

Fauci told Fox News that he did not recall making those statements.

Fauci and Trump clashed again in October, when the Trump campaign ran an out-of-context clip that suggested Fauci was praising the president's coronavirus response. Fauci told CNN that he didn't give the campaign permission to use his words.

"By doing this against my will, they are in effect harassing me," he said. "Since campaign ads are about getting votes, their harassment of me might have the opposite effect of turning some voters off."

The Trump administration's attempt to silence Fauci  Fauci testifies before the US Senate about the federal coronavirus response in September 2020.

The Trump administration has made several attempts to silence Fauci.

In April, Trump blocked Fauci from answering a reporter's question about whether any medical evidence supported hydroxychloroquine's effectiveness. Then in May, the White House prohibited Fauci from testifying about the US coronavirus response before the House Appropriations Committee.

When The Atlantic asked Fauci in July whether the Trump administration had attempted to limit his TV interviews, Fauci responded: "I can't make a comment on that, but I think you know what the answer to that is." 

The following month, the White House Coronavirus Task Force held a meeting to discuss a major change to the nation's coronavirus testing guidelines while Fauci was in surgery. The revised guidelines suggested that people without coronavirus symptoms didn't need tests, even if they'd been exposed to the virus. Research has shown, however, that about 50% of coronavirus transmission comes from people who aren't showing symptoms.

"I was under general anesthesia in the operating room and was not part of any discussion or deliberation regarding the new testing recommendations," Fauci told CNN. "I am concerned about the interpretation of these recommendations and worried it will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern. In fact it is."

The altered guidance on testing was later reversed.

Then in September, emails obtained by Politico showed that Paul Alexander, a former scientific advisor to the Department of Health and Human Services, had instructed press officers at the National Institutes of Health to ensure that Fauci did not recommend masks for children. Widespread evidence suggests that mask-wearing among both kids and adults can lower coronavirus transmission.

Fauci's role under Biden Fauci prepares to receive his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland.

Fauci has been asked to continue leading the US coronavirus response under President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on Thursday.

Fauci told Harvard Business Review that he expects the country to meet Biden's goal of vaccinating 100 million people in his first 100 days in office. 

The Biden administration is "going to be doing things that have not been done before," Fauci said. The new administration, he went on, has committed to expanding partnerships with pharmacies and community vaccination centers. It has also promised to invoke the Defense Production Act - which allows the president to require businesses to prioritize the federal government's supply-chain needs - to acquire more needles and syringes.

But Fauci said health officials are still having a difficult time convincing all Americans to wear masks and practice social distancing.

"There are people who feel that when we say to avoid congregate settings or wear a mask that, somehow or other, we're encroaching upon something that really has nothing to do with public health - it's like their freedom," Fauci said. "I think that that's because there's been mixed messages that have come through Washington."

Additionally, he said, the false notion that the virus is a hoax - a common refrain among Trump supporters - is unlike anything he has seen before in public health.

"When we go back and look at this in the history, we'll be scratching our heads and saying, 'How did that happen?'" Fauci said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to Watch UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Magny when it streams live from UFC Fight Island on January 20

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:12pm

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

  • UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Magny will be broadcast live via ESPN and ESPN+ on January 20.
  • Michael Chiesa and Neil Magny face off in the main event of a jam-packed fight card.
  • Prelims start at 9 a.m. ET, and the main card is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET.
  • UFC Fight Night events are included with an ESPN+ subscription, which costs $6 a month or $60 a year.
  • See also: How to watch UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor

UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Magny will be held at the UFC Fight Island campus on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on January 20. 

A total of 14 matches are scheduled for the prelims and main cards, giving fighters from UFC's international roster an opportunity to showcase their talents as the coronavirus pandemic continues to restrict the event schedule.

UFC Fight Night will begin with prelims at 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday; the entire event will be broadcast on ESPN and streamed online via ESPN+.  Every UFC Fight Night event is available with ESPN+, along with replays and highlights of past UFC events.

UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Magny will be held without fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic. UFC has consistently implemented safety precautions for fighters and staff during the pandemic, including advanced medical screenings, regular testing, temperature checks, and social distancing guidelines.

Updated on 1/19/2021 by Kevin Webb: This article has been revised to include details for the UFC Fight Night event scheduled for January 20.

Here's the match schedule for UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Magny Prelims - 9 a.m. ET, 6 a.m. PT on ESPN and ESPN+
  • Victoria Leonardo versus Manon Fiorot [Women's Flyweight]
  • Umar Nurmagomedov versus Sergey Morozov [Bantamweight]
  • Mike Davis versus Mason Jones [Lightweight]
  • Francisco Figueiredo versus Jerome Rivera [Flyweight]
  • Dalcha Lungiambula versus Markus Perez [Middleweight]
  • Su Mudaerji versus Zarrukh Adashev [Flyweight]
  • Ricky Simon versus Gaetano Pirrello [Bantamweight]
  • Omari Akhmedov versus Tom Breese [Middleweight]
Main Card  - 12 p.m. ET, 9 a.m. PT on ESPN and ESPN+
  • Lerone Murphy versus Douglas Silva de Andrade [Featherweight]
  • Matt Schnell versus Tyson Nam [Flyweight]
  • Roxanne Modafferi versus Viviane Araujo [Women's Flyweight]
  • Ike Villanueva versus Vinicius Moreira [Light Heavyweight]
  • Warlley Alves versus Mounir Lazze [Welterweight]
  • Michael Chiesa versus Neil Magny [Welterweight]
How to watch UFC Fight Night matches

The prelims and main event of UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Magny will be broadcast live on ESPN and streamed live on ESPN+. 

ESPN+ subscribers can watch every UFC Fight Night event live and also gain access to a huge catalog of classic UFC matches and recent highlights. ESPN+ costs $5.99 per month or $59.99 for a full year, and it's available as an app on most mobile and streaming devices. You can also bundle ESPN+ with Disney Plus and Hulu for $12.99 a month.

Here's a full breakdown of additional features and details for ESPN+.

Leading up to major PPV events, ESPN+ typically offers a special deal that bundles one UFC PPV fight and an annual ESPN+ subscription for a total of $89.98. This bundle deal gives you an overall discount of over 30% if you plan on following the UFC closely for the rest of the year.

Select UFC Fight Night events, including Chiesa vs. Magny, are also broadcast on ESPN's cable networks. ESPN channels are available through several live TV streaming services, including Hulu + Live TVSling TVAT&T TV, and Youtube TV

Read the original article on Business Insider

Used Peloton bikes are selling within hours, and the lack of inventory reportedly caused the company to wait to roll out its resale marketplace

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:10pm
Jen Van Santvoord rides her Peloton exercise bike at her home on April 7, 2020 in San Anselmo, California.
  • Used Peloton bikes are selling online within hours for nearly full price.
  • Peloton reportedly delayed its own pre-owned marketplace because there isn't enough inventory.
  • At-home fitness subscriptions have soared during the pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Peloton is so popular that its used bikes typically sell in less than a day for nearly full price, according to reporting from the New York Times' Sapna Maheshwari and Erin Griffith.

The huge demand for used Peloton bikes caused the company to put plans for a used bike marketplace on hold because of lack of inventory, Griffith tweeted.

Read more: 1.1 million users, 97% satisfaction, and $607 million in revenue: How Peloton mastered user engagement to become the Apple of fitness

In September, Peloton CEO John Foley mentioned plans to eventually start a certified pre-owned program, and possibly rental bikes too. The program was planned for "the coming years," he clarified. "We do have plans to offer a CPO program... and that will be in the future, and we're not announcing that today."

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

Lack of used bikes is reportedly holding that program back. "You could sell your bike on Craigslist or eBay and get a pretty hefty portion of your original purchase price," Foley said on CNBC in September. Peloton's website directs buyers looking for used bikes to look at options like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and local buying and selling groups.

Of the nearly 120 results for Peloton bikes on eBay, most are listed at over $1,500, not much lower than the starting $1,895 price of the least expensive Peloton. The Facebook group "Peloton Buy Sell Trade" has more than 156,000 members, showing clear interest in buying used bikes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a boon for Peloton as gyms closed and people were increasingly stuck at home. Sales grew 172% year-over-year as of September 11, 2020, and the company's market value is nearing $43 billion. The popularity came with a big cost for the stationary bike company - extended delivery delays have angered some customers and led to social media snark. For now, Peloton is still taking orders and giving an estimated delivery date of eight to ten weeks.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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