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How to set up any Amazon Echo device and customize its settings

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 5:43pm
  • You can set up any Amazon Echo device in just a few minutes using the Alexa app on your mobile device.
  • Perhaps the trickiest part of setting up an Amazon Echo is changing your mobile device's Wi-Fi network to the Echo's own network.
  • After your initial setup of the device, you can customize settings on your Echo to get the most out of it.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

For many people, an Amazon Echo (or one of its related devices, like a Dot) is an essential part of any modern smart home.

Once configured, you can play music, get the news, control devices, and much more, all using voice commands. And thankfully, setup is quite simple.

Here's what you need to know.

How to set up an Amazon Echo

1. Start by installing the Amazon Alexa app on your mobile device — there is a version of Alexa for the iPhone and Alexa for Android. You may not use this app often, but it's essential for the initial setup.

2. Plug in your Amazon Echo. Wait a few moments for the illuminated ring at the top of the device to turn orange. This indicates it's ready to be set up. If the ring turns purple, press and hold the Action button (the button with a dot in the center) for several seconds until the ring turns orange again.

An Echo that's ready to be set up turns orange.

3. Open the Alexa app on your mobile device and tap the three horizontal lines in the upper right corner of the screen (the "hamburger menu").

4. Tap "Add Device."

5. On the Setup screen, tap "Amazon Echo."

6. Tap the kind of Echo device you are setting up — Echo, Echo Dot, Echo, and so on.

Using the Alexa app, choose the kind of Echo you are installing.

7. Follow the directions on the setup screens. You will need to tap "Continue" and then, to confirm that you see the orange glow on the Echo, tap "Continue" again.

8. You will be directed to connect your phone to the Echo's network. To do this, return to your phone's Home screen and go to Settings. Tap "Wi-Fi," and choose the network that starts with "Amazon-."

You'll need to switch to your phone or tablet's Wi-Fi controls and choose the Echo's Wi-Fi network to finish setup.

9. Go back to the Home screen and start the Alexa app again. Follow the final instruction to complete setup, including choosing your Wi-Fi network for the Echo to connect to. Your mobile device will automatically reconnect to your Wi-Fi network when it's done.

How to set up voice commands for your Amazon Echo

Now that the basic setup is complete, you can start to use your Amazon Echo. While most Echo models have some control buttons on top (such as mute, volume, and an Action button to give commands), most of the time you will interact with your Echo entirely via voice.

To give a command, always start with the wake word "Alexa," as in "Alexa, what time is it?" If you prefer, you can configure your Echo to respond to another word, like "Echo," "Amazon," or "Computer" instead. To do that:

1. Start the Alexa app, tap the hamburger menu at the top left, and tap "Settings."

2. Tap "Device Settings" and then tap the Echo you want to configure.

3. Tap "Wake Word" and tap the word you want this Echo to respond to.

Your Echo will respond to any of four different names. How to customize your Amazon Echo's settings

Your Echo is now ready to respond to your commands and questions. There are a lot of settings you might want to configure, though, to make Alexa more helpful. You can find these settings in the Alexa app by tapping the hamburger menu and then "Settings." Be sure to explore these settings. Here are some settings you should be sure to look at:

  • The Echo's location. Your Echo will work best when it knows where in the world it's located, such as for weather reports. You can set the location by tapping Settings, Device Settings, and the name of your Echo. Then tap "Device Location."
  • Your locations. If you ask your Echo about traffic conditions, it's helpful if it knows the address of places like home and work. You can find these by tapping Settings, and then "Your Locations."
  • Link music services. If you want to play music through your Echo, be sure to configure it with your favorite music services, like Pandora and Spotify. You can find this by tapping Settings and then Music.
  • Set up your news. Echo offers a "flash briefing" when you ask it to tell you then news. You can specify which news services it should pull your news summary from by tapping Settings and then Flash Briefing.

There are a lot of other settings you can configure, so be sure to explore the Settings menu on the Alexa app.

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

7 unanswered questions about Pfizer's promising coronavirus vaccine

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 5:38pm
  • The preliminary results of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine trial are promising, but there are plenty of caveats to the good news.
  • We still don't know whether the vaccine protects against asymptomatic cases or if it even lowers the risk of spreading COVID-19.
  • Questions of who will have access to the shot and when depend on how Pfizer and US public health agencies allocate the vaccine.
  • Complete data on the vaccine's effectiveness and safety won't be publicly available until later this month.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer released a promising first look at their coronavirus vaccine trial results Monday, but many questions remain unanswered.

The drugmaker developed the vaccine in record time, and said it found the shots may be more than 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, the disease the novel coronavirus causes. 

Experts have lauded the development, with the World Health Organization's director general calling it an encouraging "unprecedented scientific innovation" and infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci saying its efficacy rate is "remarkable."

But scientists are also cautioning to understand that the news comes with plenty of caveats, as the trial is ongoing and the results not yet published. Plus, only 94 of the nearly 44,000 participants contracted COVID-19 over the course of the trial, and it's unclear how many of them were given the vaccine versus the placebo.

Here are seven questions that need to be answered before Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine goes to market.

Does the vaccine protect against both severe and mild illness?

To test the vaccine, Pfizer gave 43,538 volunteers either two doses of the vaccine or two salt-water placebo injections. An independent board of experts found that those who did end up contracting COVID-19 were far more likely to have received the sham shots. 

But the study only considered people to have COVID-19 if they both tested positive and experienced symptoms, which means it's unclear if the vaccine also protects against asymptomatic cases. 

We also don't know whether the vaccine reduces the risk of severe COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, or death, Maria Elena Bottazzi, a co-director of Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, told Business Insider

Can the vaccine stop virus transmission?

While the vaccine seems to lower the risk of contracting symptomatic COVID-19, we don't yet know if it lowers the risk of spreading the disease. 

If, for instance, it keeps the person taking it from feeling sick or testing positive, but doesn't eliminate the contagious particles from their spit, they could be walking around unknowingly transmitting the illness to vulnerable people. 

"The moment you get a vaccine doesn't mean you're going to put your mask in the trash," Bottazzi told Business Insider. "That is not going to happen. I hope people don't think that is going to be the magic solution for all.

How long will it be protective? 

The trial found the vaccine became effective 28 days after the initial dose, but only looked at how effective it remained a week after getting the second dose. While Pfizer may continue following participants if and when emergency authorization is granted, we won't know if the vaccine confers long-term immunity for years. 

"What will be the protective efficacy over time?" Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic's vaccine-research group, said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "Is this going to be a handful of months, like the flu vaccine? Is it going to be like measles or smallpox where it's lifelong immunity?"

What's the timeline for rolling out the vaccine? 

Once Pfizer has more data about the safety of the vaccine later this month, the company plans to apply for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, which will fast-track vaccine approval and production.

Pfizer is on track to produce 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021. The drugmaker hasn't yet determined how those doses will be allocated across countries.

"Even if we got all 50 million, that's not going to solve the pandemic," Daniel Salmon, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University, told Business Insider. "That's one-sixth, one-seventh of the population. And you're looking at a herd immunity threshold of maybe 60 or 70%."

Roll-out could hit a snag in parts of Asia, Latin America, and "all but a tiny corner of Africa" due to a shortage of cold storage facilities required to keep the vaccine at a viable temperature throughout the distribution process.

When will Americans be able to get vaccinated?

That's the million-dollar question, Salmon said. He and other experts have said that they're waiting to see more data before jumping to conclusions about when life will return to normal.

High-risk healthcare workers and first responders should be the first in line to receive the vaccine when it's available, according to a recommendation from the National Academies of Sciences. The first phase of the plan includes vaccinating 15% of the population, also prioritizing those with two or more preexisting conditions and elderly people living in congregate care settings.

Phases 2, 3, and 4 of the plan involve rolling out the vaccine to Americans in public-facing essential jobs, such as those working in schools and grocery stores, and to older adults with risk factors who didn't make the first group.

Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health, told NBC News it will take some time to get the vaccine to the American people. Healthcare workers could get vaccinated as early as January or February, he said, but the rest of us will likely have to wait to receive the shot between March and June 2021.

Will other vaccines work too? 

While Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are the first to announce positive results from a COVID-19 vaccine trial, other clinical trials by Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson are still underway.

The preliminary success of the Pfizer shot bodes well for results to come. All of the vaccine candidates are designed to target the same part of the coronavirus: the spike protein that allows it to attach to and invade host cells.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading disease expert, told STAT Pfizer's early success suggests that other vaccine trials are on the right track. Moderna's trial is especially likely to have promising results because it uses the same cutting-edge mRNA mechanism as Pfizer.

Moderna, a frontrunner in the vaccine effort, is on track to share its own results this month.

How safe is the vaccine, really?

Pfizer did not report any serious safety concerns in their recent press release, but the company is still in the process of gathering two months of safety data to submit to the FDA. After the data are under review, information about common, short-term side effects will be public knowledge. 

However, no one will know the potential long-term side effects for a while.

Salmon said there's a chance that the eventual widespread vaccine rollout could result in some rare but severe reactions, so there needs to be a plan for addressing misinformation surrounding the vaccine's safety.

"There's a larger potential that if you vaccinate a lot of people quickly, a lot of bad things will happen to those people just by chance alone," he said. "If you vaccinate 30 million people over 65, you're going to have heart attacks and strokes within a day after vaccination. You need a system in place to separate coincidence from causal."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Mitch McConnell supports Trump's refusal to concede to President-elect Joe Biden

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 5:37pm
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday declined to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden's victory and expressed support for President Donald Trump's denial of the 2020 election results.
  • "Obviously, no states have yet certified their election results," McConnell said. "We have at least one or two states that are already on track for a recount and I believe the president may have legal challenges underway in at least five states."
  • Very few Senate Republicans have publicly congratulated Biden, with some remaining quiet or toeing the line of the White House, while others are backing Trump as he challenges the Democratic nominee's victory.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday declined to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden's victory and backed President Donald Trump's refusal to concede the 2020 election, saying that the president had "every right to look into allegations and request recounts."

As the Kentucky Republican, who was recently reelected to a seventh term, celebrated the electoral wins of Senate Republicans, he would not refute Trump's position.

"Obviously, no states have yet certified their election results," McConnell said. "We have at least one or two states that are already on track for a recount and I believe the president may have legal challenges underway in at least five states."

He added: "President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options."

Due to the closeness of the races in Wisconsin and Georgia, recounts are expected to occur within the next few weeks. Biden leads by roughly 20,000 votes in Wisconsin and almost 11,000 votes in Georgia. The president's campaign team has launched election-related lawsuits in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

McConnell said that Democrats didn't have any grounds to criticize Trump and accused them of refusing to accept the 2016 presidential election results when Trump defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"Let's not have any lectures about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election," he said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responded to McConnell, saying that Biden was the legitimate winner.

"Joe Biden won this election fair and square," he said. "Republican leaders must unequivocally condemn the president's rhetoric and work to ensure the peaceful transfer of power."

While a handful of GOP senators including Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse, and Susan Collins have publicly congratulated Biden, most members of the party have remained mum while others have urged the president to fight the election result.

As of Monday, no one from the White House has reached out to Biden or his campaign about transition plans.

Read the original article on Business Insider

BarkBox is arguably the most popular pet subscription box — I tried it and can see why dogs and their owners love it

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 5:33pm

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My dog Archie loved his BarkBox toys, and I was impressed by how well they held up.

  • BarkBox is a subscription box filled with dog toys and treats. Since 2012, the popular boxes have been shipped to more than 2 million dogs.
  • Prices range from $22 to $29 per month, and each box includes exclusive toys, all-natural treats, and a chew.
  • First-time subscribers who sign up between November 9 and November 15, 2020, will receive an extra toy in every box through the length of their subscription.
  • I tested it with my dog Archie who will chew on or play with just about anything, so I'm not surprised he loved the BarkBox toys so much. I'm pleased with their quality and durability.
Table of Contents

From groceries and prepared meals to clothing and beauty products, there is a monthly subscription service for everything — including dog toys. 

When it comes to monthly pet product subscriptions, there are several options to choose from. There are Petco's PupBox, Bullymake, and RescueBox for dogs, and boxes for our feline friends from Cat Lady Box and KitNipBox, to name a few. Add to that fresh food delivery services like The Farmer's Dog, Nom Nom, PetPlate, Ollie, and Spot & Tango.

And then there is arguably the most popular: BarkBox. Since its inception, it's delivered boxes to more than 2 million dogs and partnered with stores like Target to bring their most popular toys to nonsubscribers.

I decided to test the service with my dog Archie who loves to play with and chew on almost everything.

How does BarkBox work?

To keep it simple, BarkBox sends you a box of toys, treats, and accessories once a month.

Not only does BarkBox offer monthly deliveries of toys and treats, but each box has a unique theme. One month your dog might receive a collection of holiday-themed treats and toys while the next month his BarkBox might send him on a journey through Chewrassic Bark. Each box contains two innovative toys, two bags of all-natural treats, a chew, and a specially curated item from the month's themed collection.

Every toy is designed by in-house industrial designers, made for the way dogs play and approved by the company's own test dogs.

To sign up, all you have to do is create an online profile, answering questions about your dog's size and dietary preferences. You can also choose from the standard BarkBox filled with plush toys or the Super Chewer Box filled with fluff-free tough toys.

From there, you can choose a one-month subscription ($29), six months ($25/box), or 12 months ($22/box). The entire subscription process takes less than five minutes.

Testing the BarkBox

To write my review, Archie and I received two BarkBoxes with assorted toys, treats, and chews from the Bark Slope Street Fair collection. Here's what we received:

  • Fresh Fair Treats, Lamb Gyro Recipe
  • Fresh Fair Treats, Duck Shish Kabob Recipe
  • Fresh Fair Treats, Chicken & Fish Taco Recipe
  • New York City Central Pork Pizza Treats
  • Plato Pet Treats Thinkers Chew, Salmon Recipe (2)
  • Max's Maine Lobster Roll (Plush Toy)
  • Gideon the Pigeon (Plush Toy)
  • Bebe the Burrito (Plush Toy)
  • Lickton Iced Tea (Spiky Core Toy)
  • Shuck n' Chuck Corn Cob (Super Chewer Toy)
  • The All-Powerful Pupsicle (Super Chewer Toy)
  • Buns of Steel Hotdog (Super Chewer Toy)

The all-natural treats included in each BarkBox are allergy-friendly.

From the moment I started opening the BarkBox, Archie was intrigued — the noise of the packing paper alone sent him into an excited frenzy. The first thing I grabbed out of the box was Max's Main Lobster Roll, one of the plush toys. I gave the toy a good squeeze and Archie's ears perked up and his head tilted to the side.

I waved the toy around a couple of times then offered it to him. He immediately grabbed it out of my hand, ran down the hall into the bedroom, and started chewing.

Archie loves a good plush toy, especially if there's a squeaker involved. But what he really loved about Max's Maine Lobster Roll was the crinkle noise it made. Several other toys in the collection made similar noises, and he seemed to prefer them above the hard Super Chewer toys. He gobbled up the treats (which was a little surprising since he's been picky about treats in the past) and he made quick work of the chews as well.

I'm now writing this several weeks after receiving Archie's BarkBox.

My bedroom floor is currently covered in tufts of stuffing ripped out of several plush toys I'd received as gifts. Archie's beloved stuffed lamb and puppy are no more, but his BarkBox plush toys are still around (though he did manage to get the squeaker out of Gideon the Pigeon and chewed that to shreds).

Needless to say, I think he's a fan of BarkBox and so am I.

What's the verdict?

Archie will chew on or play with just about anything, so I'm not surprised he loved the BarkBox so much. I am, however, pleased with the quality and durability of the toys. Even the plush toys from the regular BarkBox stood up well, and I'm convinced the Super Chewer toys will last forever.

Archie loves chews, so those are long gone already. I'm not sure that I need two bags of treats every month, though.

One final thing I found interesting is that BarkBox is very allergy-friendly. Every BarkBox is free from corn, wheat, and soy, which greatly reduces the risk for triggering allergies and food sensitivities. There are also options for dogs that are allergic to chicken, beef, and turkey — you simply have to call BarkBox or use their live chat feature, and they'll send you an allergy-friendly box.

To wrap up, here's an overview of the pros and cons for BarkBox:

The pros
  • Everything is of the highest quality, including all-natural dog treats and innovative toys.
  • Each box is tailored to fit your dog's size, and options are available for dogs with allergies.
  • You can reorder certain items or purchase items from other collections online.
  • There is a money-back guarantee if your dog doesn't like every item in the box.
  • BarkBox donates 5% of their profits go toward supporting organizations that provide free or low-cost vet care through spay and neuter programs.
  • Discounted prices are available for buying multiple months and for multiple dogs.
The cons
  • Subscription automatically renews; you'll be charged and sent another box if you don't cancel.
  • Some of the plush toys may not be ideal for heavy chewers and the stuffing could be a choking hazard — there is also access to the squeaker inside if your dog rips open the toy.
  • The rubberized toys that come in the Super Chewer box are heavy and somewhat awkward.

All in all, I was very pleased with my BarkBox experience and I think it's safe to say that Archie is too.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Fox News cut away from Trump's press secretary as she pushed baseless claims of election fraud

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 5:25pm
The Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto on Monday said "not so fast" as he cut off Kayleigh McEnany's baseless claims of election fraud.
  • Fox News cut off Kayleigh McEnany, President Trump's press secretary, on Monday as she pushed unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. 
  • "I can't in good countenance continue to show you this," the Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto said as he cut off the press conference.
  • There is no evidence of mass voter fraud in the election, and Trump was defeated by President-elect Joe Biden. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto on Monday cut away from a press briefing featuring Kayleigh McEnany, who is both the White House press secretary and a Trump campaign spokesperson, as she continued to push the campaign's baseless claims of election fraud. 

"She's charging the other side as welcoming fraud and illegal voting. Unless she has more details to back that up, I can't in good countenance continue to show you this," Cavuto said as he cut off the press conference, pushing back on what he described as "explosive" charges from McEnany.

"Not so fast," Cavuto added.

McEnany suggested, without evidence, that Democrats welcomed "fraud" and "illegal voting" in the 2020 election.

"We want every legal vote to be counted," McEnany said, echoing President Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claim that votes for President-elect Joe Biden were illegal.

—Lis Power (@LisPower1) November 9, 2020

Though multiple major news outlets, including Fox News, have declared Biden the projected winner of the 2020 election, Trump has refused to concede and is rejecting the results.

Fox News opinion hosts like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson have backed Trump on his groundless claim that the election was stolen from him. The Trump campaign has presented no evidence to substantiate allegations of fraud and seen little success in its efforts to present legal challenges to the results of the election. A number of the lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign have already been dismissed because they lacked merit.

Trump has also falsely claimed he won the election. Meanwhile, a number of world leaders have congratulated Biden on his victory, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Some Republicans in Congress have pushed back on Trump's unsupported claims of fraud and extended their congratulations to Biden.

"I would offer my congratulations to President-elect Biden on his apparent victory — he loves this country, and I wish him every success," GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said in a statement on Monday.

"Presidential transitions are important, and the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect should be given every opportunity to ensure that they are ready to govern on January 20th," Collins added.

But a number of prominent GOP lawmakers have stood behind the president despite his lack of evidence — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Read more: How Kimberly Guilfoyle, the 'human Venus flytrap,' has groomed boyfriend Don Jr. into a political powerhouse and turned herself into a conservative star

"President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options," McConnell said Monday.

There is no evidence of major irregularities or mass voter fraud regarding the 2020 election results.

Though voter fraud is extremely rare in the US, the president for months baselessly claimed that expanded access to mail-in voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic would lead to widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Trump also refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power before Election Day.

Before the end of voting on November 3, the president repeatedly signaled he would claim the election was "rigged" against him if he lost, but there is no evidence to substantiate such claims. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Fired defense secretary left behind a subtle warning about the dangers of leaving Trump unchecked

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 5:21pm
Flanked by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Army Gen. Mark Milley, U.S. President Donald Trump meets with senior military leaders at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 7, 2019.
  • President Donald Trump fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Monday, announcing in a tweet that he had been "terminated."
  • In a interview with Military Times just days before, Esper pushed back on criticisms that he is the president's yes-man in the Pentagon. He said that if he were to be replaced, "it's going to be a real yes-man. And then God help us."
  • His comments reflect reported assessments from Esper's predecessor, former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who is said to have characterized Trump as "dangerous" and "unfit."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, but before he did, the Pentagon chief left behind a subtle warning about the dangers of leaving Trump unchecked.

Esper told Military Times last Wednesday that he was not a yes-man, as his critics have said, and revealed that there was "occasional tension with the White House." He explained that when dealing with the president, you have "got to pick your fights" and just try and "make the best out of it."

While there were rifts in the relationship, Esper was aligned with Trump on a majority of issues and spoke positively of his leadership on more than one occasion, but in the interview with Military Times, he argued that he regularly pushed back on the president, perhaps more so than other Cabinet officials.

Esper, who reportedly expected to be fired, said that if he were to leave, whoever comes after him might be more inclined to let Trump do as he pleases.

"Who's going to come in behind me? It's going to be a real 'yes-man.' And then God help us," he told Military Times, the apparent implication being that a defense secretary who gives Trump exactly what he wants when he wants could be a disaster.

On Monday, Trump announced that Esper had been "terminated" and that he would be replaced by National Counterterrorism Center Director Christopher Miller, who will oversee the Department of Defense in an acting capacity.

As The Washington Post noted, Esper's recent comments to Military Times reflect some of what has been heard from his predecessor, former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who resigned in December 2018 over disagreements with Trump.

Following the forceful clearing of protesters from a park near the White House for a photo op and Trump's threat to send the military into American cities to quell unrest in June, events that led Esper to publicly break with the president, Mattis wrote that he was "angry and appalled."

"Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try," Mattis wrote in a statement provided to The Atlantic.

"Instead," the retired Marine Corps general continued, "he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership."

In Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's book "Rage," he reports that Mattis told former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats that Trump is "dangerous" and "unfit."

Trump lost his bid for re-election to his Democratic rival Joe Biden last week, though the results are still being contested as the president refuses to concede, and is now a lame duck president. Beyond firing his officials, Democrats are concerned about what he might do with his final months in office.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump says he 'terminated' Defense Secretary Mark Esper days after losing the presidential election

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 5:18pm
President Donald Trump looks to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper during a ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 23, 2019.
  • President Donald Trump announced Monday afternoon that he has fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and is replacing him with National Counterterrorism Center Director Christopher Miller.
  • For months now, there has been talk of the president firing Esper or of the secretary resigning from his position as the top Pentagon official.
  • During the week of the presidential election, NBC News reported that Esper already had his resignation letter ready to go.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump announced Monday afternoon that he has fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. It is the first Cabinet-level administration official he has fired since he lost the 2020 presidential election to his Democratic opponent Joe Biden, a defeat he has not yet acknowledged.

Trump said that his Pentagon chief will be replaced by National Counterterrorism Center Director Christopher Miller, who will oversee the Department of Defense in an acting capacity.

—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2020

The president did not say why he fired Esper.

Fox News obtained Esper's resignation letter a few hours later, though it was fairly standard and not particularly revealing.

—Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) November 9, 2020

The news of Esper's firing follows an NBC News report Thursday that said that Esper already had his resignation letter ready to go. NBC also reported that Esper has been quietly working with Congress to rename bases named after Confederate leaders, something to which Trump is strongly opposed.

The chief Pentagon spokesman challenged the NBC report, tweeting Thursday evening that "Secretary of Defense Esper has no plans to resign, nor has he been asked to submit a letter of resignation."

But, as of Friday morning, as the president officially lost the election per projections by Decision Desk HQ, reports began to emerge that Trump planned to remove his defense secretary, as well as some other senior officials.

Esper's departure from the Pentagon is an unsurprising development given numerous reports in recent months that Trump has soured on his defense secretary.

There has been frequent talk of the president firing him since June, when Esper broke with Trump on whether or not active-duty military should be deployed to American cities to nationwide quell unrest.

Trump was furious with Esper, who had previously frustrated the president and other administration officials by going off-message, despite largely being seen as a yes man, according to multiple reports. Trump wanted to fire Esper, but he was ultimately talked out of doing so, The Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

In August, Bloomberg News reported that Trump had privately discussed firing Esper after the presidential election. The report also said that Esper had privately expressed an interest in stepping down.

A few days after the Bloomberg report came out, Trump was asked if he has ever considered firing Esper. He replied that he gets along with Esper, but he added, "I consider firing everybody."

In early September, NBC News reported that White House officials had been in discussion with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie about stepping in as the acting defense secretary should Trump fire Esper.

By October, more reports emerged suggesting that Esper's days at the Pentagon were coming to an end, with Axios reporting that Esper would be among several senior officials fired if Trump won re-election and then later The New York Times writing that "throughout the long corridors of the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper is widely seen as a dead man walking."

Read more: Legal problems galore await Trump now that he's lost reelection and his presidential immunity

Several defense sources told CNN Thursday that Esper has long had a resignation letter ready should the president request it, though he would rather stay in his current position.

Esper became the secretary of defense in the summer of 2019 after the top Pentagon position was held by acting officials for roughly seven months following the sudden departure of former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who resigned in December 2018 over disagreements with Trump on the importance of alliances and following through on commitments, among other things.

Prior to becoming Trump's defense secretary, Esper was the secretary of the Army, a branch of the US armed forces in which he previously served after graduating from the West Point. As a member of the 101st Airborne Division, he took part in the 1990-1991 Gul War. 

Before setting up shop in the Pentagon, Esper, who has a doctorate in public policy from George Washington University, served as a Senate staffer, a member of the Heritage Foundation, and Vice President of Government Relations for defense firm Raytheon.

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AOC said the reason Democrats lost seats in Congress is that they barely advertised on Facebook and are internet incompetent

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 4:55pm
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Monday, August 24, 2020.
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Democrats lost seats in the Senate and House because of a lack of online advertising, including on Facebook.
  • "If you're not spending $200,000 on Facebook with fund-raising, persuasion, volunteer recruitment, get-out-the-vote the week before the election, you are not firing on all cylinders," she told the New York Times. "And not a single one of these campaigns were firing on all cylinders."
  • The comments come as Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives field blame from centrist Democrats who say their causes and messaging caused the party to lose seats in the House and Senate.
  • Ocasio-Cortez pushed back and said the upset was instead due to a lack of a robust digital ad campaigns. She said in a tweet last week that some campaigns spent $0 on digital advertising the week before the election.
  • Democrats maintain control of the House, but they lost a number of incumbent congresspeople in the 2020 election, and control of the Senate hinges on Georgia's two runoff elections in January. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told the New York Times in an interview that the reason Democrats lost seats in the Senate and the House is that they didn't invest as much in digital advertising as Republican candidates did.

The congresswoman told the Times that "if you're not spending $200,000 on Facebook with fund-raising, persuasion, volunteer recruitment, get-out-the-vote the week before the election, you are not firing on all cylinders. And not a single one of these campaigns were firing on all cylinders."

She said Democratic candidates were "sitting ducks" while Republicans were more actively campaigning online and were vulnerable because "they weren't even on the mediums where these messages were most potent."

"Our party isn't even online, not in a real way that exhibits competence," Ocasio-Cortez told the Times.

AOC's comments come after the Democratic Party lost a number of seats in the House and the Senate in the 2020 election. However, Democrats will maintain control of the House, and control of the Senate hinges on Georgia's two runoff elections in January.

Read more: House Democrats plan to keep going on their high-profile investigations into President Trump even after he leaves the White House

As Ocasio-Cortez mentions to the Times, some centrists in the Democratic Party have pinned the blame of the lost Senate seats on progressives for supporting policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal and movements like Black Lives Matter. House majority leader Rep. Jim Clyburn said on Sunday that Democrats lost seats in Congress in part because of South Carolina Democratic candidate Jaime Harrison's call to "defund the police."

Ocasio-Cortez has pushed back, saying Democrats have instead lost seats because of the lack of digital advertising. Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet last week that some campaigns spent $0 on digital advertising the week before the election.

"If I spent only $12k on TV the week before an election & then blamed others after, you'd ask questions," the congresswoman tweeted last week. "That's how it looks seeing this."

Ocasio-Cortez said in the same interview with the Times that the hostility she has faced from her own party due to progressive causes has made her question her future in politics.

"I don't even know if I want to be in politics," she told the outlet.

Read the original article on Business Insider

12 fast-food items that have been removed from menus in 2020, so far

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 4:44pm
Taco Bell recently discontinued the Mexican Pizza.

Fast-food menus are constantly changing and while this year has brought many customer-approved new releases, some fast-food menu items have also been mercilessly scrapped.

In 2020, fast-food restaurants are realizing the power of a shortened menu with more focus on chains' most popular items. McDonald's and Taco Bell both recently streamlined their menus, while other chains have chosen to discontinue a few items due to changing tastes and the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are 12 fast-food menu items that have been removed from menus in 2020, so far.

Taco Bell announced it would be dropping the fan-favorite Mexican Pizza from its newly streamlined menu starting November 5. Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza.

Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza featured a flour tortilla shell filled with refried beans, seasoned ground beef, and Mexican sauce, topped with another tortilla, Mexican sauce, cheese, and chopped tomatoes.

"We know some fans may be sad to see this one go, we are too. One silver lining of saying goodbye to the Mexican Pizza that might help you rest easy is that removing it from our menus helps us work towards our commitment to leave a lighter footprint on our planet," Taco Bell said in a press release in September.

In perhaps the most controversial menu change, Taco Bell upset some customers after deciding to remove potatoes from its menu. Taco Bell Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes.

In late July, Taco Bell announced it would officially be dropping potatoes from its menu in August 2020. Affected menu items include Taco Bell's Spicy Potato Soft Taco, Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes, and Cheesy Potato Loaded Grillers.

"We know some vegetarian go-to items might be gone, but Taco Bell's menu remains highly customizable," Taco Bell said in a press release.

However, the statement didn't stop vegetarian customers and potato-lovers from taking to social media to air their concerns. One Twitter user called the move to drop potatoes the chain's "worst idea to date."

However, while the potatoes may be gone, Taco Bell has hinted that it may be opening the door to plant-based meats and other vegetarian-friendly options.

Taco Bell also announced it would be dropping the famous Quesarito, a fan-favorite item, from restaurant menus. Taco Bell Quesarito burrito.

At the same time Taco Bell announced it would be discontinuing potatoes, the chain said it would also be removing the famous and fan-favorite Quesarito from restaurant menus. The item, which is a combination of a beef burrito and a quesadilla, will still be available to order online and via Taco Bell's app for pickup or delivery.

However, some fans were nevertheless outraged by the change, with one Twitter user calling it "absolutely barbaric."

Another item included in Taco Bell's series of menu changes is the Triple Layer Nachos. Taco Bell Triple Layer Nachos.

In total, Taco Bell removed 12 items from its menu. Among the items slashed, aside from the Mexican Pizza, Quesarito burrito, and Triple Layer Nachos, were the chain's Loaded Grillers, Grilled Steak Soft Taco, 7-Layer Burrito, Chips & Dips, and the Mini Skillet Bowl.

"While change is hard, a simplified menu and innovation process will leave room for new fan favorites, continued progress in categories such as plant-based diets, and even opportunities for the return of some classics on a limited-time basis," Taco Bell said in a press release.


KFC also started a potato-related controversy when it decided to switch out its potato wedges for fries. KFC potato wedges.

KFC has been serving up its famous potato wedges for years, much to the adoration of fast-food fans. However, the wedges have now been replaced with a new menu item — "Secret Recipe Fries."

"While we know there are wedge-lovers out there who may be disappointed, consumer response to our Secret Recipe Fries during the test and the rollout has been overwhelmingly positive," a KFC representative previously told Business Insider.

McDonald's spicy chicken McNuggets left just as quickly as they arrived. McDonald's spicy chicken nuggets.

The new limited-time-only menu item was thought to be in response to the flourishing market for fast-food chicken products, as well as the smash success of Wendy's spicy chicken nuggets.

The chain's spicy nuggets, as well as the Mighty Hot Sauce they came paired with, quickly sold out just two weeks after being released, proving how much customers loved the new version of its classic nuggets. While some restaurants may still have stock, most are completely out of them. However, all hope is not lost for spicy nugget fans.

"We're thrilled with the positive response to these limited-time offerings," McDonald's said in a statement. "If our customers truly can't get enough, there's always a chance we'll bring limited-time menu items back in the future."

McDonald's temporarily removed chicken tenders from the menu as a result of the coronavirus pandemic — however, the change could become permanent. McDonald's chicken tenders.

The fan-favorite menu item, then called Chicken Selects, first arrived on menus in 2004. However, in 2013, they were removed from menus nationwide. Four years later, chicken tenders made their way back onto menus as Buttermilk Crispy Tenders. 

After they were released, they promptly sold out. The chicken tenders still appear to be a popular menu item, despite being temporarily removed from menus as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, since chicken tenders have yet to reappear on McDonald's menus, some fans fear the decision to remove tenders from the menu may be permanent. 

McDonald's also scrapped salads from its menu. McDonald's Southwest salad.

Salads have surely never been among McDonald's most popular offerings, so it's no surprise that they didn't make the cut for the chain's limited menu.

"To simplify operations in our kitchens and for our crew, and ensure the best possible experience for our customers, we are working with our franchisees and local restaurants to focus on serving our most popular choices and will begin temporarily removing some items from the menu," Bill Garrett, McDonald's senior vice president of operations, said in a statement to Business Insider.

McDonald's grilled chicken sandwich also disappeared from menus. McDonald's grilled chicken sandwich.

Along with the chain's chicken tenders, salads, and grilled chicken sandwich, McDonald's also decided to temporarily drop a number of pastry options and multiple burgers from its menu. 

The changes took effect in March, and while some items have made their return, most have not. What's worse for fans of these items is that they may never come back at all.

"We will certainly add things back to the menu. Whether it goes all the way back to where we were pre-COVID, I think that's probably unlikely," CEO Chris Kempczinski said during a virtual investor conference in June, according to CNBC.

McDonald's breakfast menu was limited to a few items and All Day Breakfast might be on its way out for good. McDonald's sausage, egg, and cheese bagel.

As outlets were reporting the departure of McDonald's All Day Breakfast back in March, McDonald's USA President Joe Erlinger tweeted, "All day breakfast's response to this news: 'I'll be back.'"

However, nearly eight months later, All Day Breakfast still has not returned, and many McDonald's franchisees and workers are rallying for the famous all-day menu to never return.

"As McDonald's and franchisees evaluate if and how we bring All Day Breakfast back to our menus, we want to ensure these improvements will remain consistent for our customers," McDonald's said in a statement to Business Insider. "Any final decision will be made in partnership with our franchisees, based on consumer demand, and designed to drive the business while minimizing operational disruptions."

Panera removed the Tuscan Chicken Sandwich from menus. Panera Tuscan Chicken Sandwich.

Panera's Tuscan Chicken Sandwich was reasonably popular among customers. 

"Made with chicken, mozzarella, Parmesan, arugula, tomato confit, and pesto mayo, this sandwich was perfectly toasted and had great flavor," wrote one of Insider's taste-testers. "The tomatoes had an interesting smoky taste that complimented the moist chicken, cheese, and fresh spinach."

However, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the chain decided to cut a few items from the menu, including the Tuscan Chicken Sandwich, the Maple Bacon Scrambled Egg Wrap, and the Cheese Brittany.

Subway caused a stir when it removed roast beef and rotisserie chicken from its sandwich lineup. A Subway employee making a sandwich.

In June, Subway announced it would be removing rotisserie chicken and roast beef from many of its locations, much to the dismay of the sandwich chain's followers.

"Bring back roast beef and the rotisserie chicken," one person wrote on Facebook, according to a previous article by Business Insider. "You just removed the best menu items. What gives?"

"My wife works at a Subway ... she says no roast beef is the biggest complaint they receive. She doesn't understand why they took it off the menu either if it's so popular," wrote one Twitter user.

Subway has not given a reason for the menu change.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to reply to a post on Craigslist in several different ways

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 4:43pm
You can reply to a posting on Craigslist in a few ways.
  • You can reply to any post on Craigslist — just click the "reply" button at the top left of a post, and complete the Captcha puzzle if you're asked to.
  • Some Craigslist listings will offer a phone contact to call or text, though most listings will only offer an email contact.
  • You can click an email link to open your email app automatically or copy and paste the link into an email program later. 
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

Craigslist is a modern-day bulletin board, filled with countless classified ads that you can post and reply to for free. 

While using Craigslist to respond to a post isn't difficult, the site's unrefined interface can sometimes feel imposing. Here is how to reply to any post on Craigslist.

How to reply to a post on Craigslist

1. Open the Craigslist website in your browser and find a post you want to reply to. 

2. Click "reply" in the upper left corner of the page. 

Click "reply" to respond to a Craigslist post.

3. Craigslist might require you to complete a Captcha test to make sure you are human. If so, answer the question, such as finding all the squares that contain a certain kind of object. 

4. In the pop-up menu, choose how you want to reply. There may be an option to show a phone number or email address; if you see "show phone number," you can click it to call or text the poster directly. 

Some Craigslist users post their phone number in addition to their email.

5. Most postings, though, will only display "show email." Click it to see your email options:

  • If you use an email client on your desktop, like Microsoft Outlook, you can click the link under "reply by email." That should open your email app with the email address automatically inserted. 
  • If you use webmail like Gmail or Yahoo Mail, click the appropriate link in the "webmail links" section. This should open your webmail in a browser, with the address inserted.
  • If you want to reply another way, you can click the email address at the bottom of the window and copy it by pressing Ctrl+C on your PC keyboard or Command+C on a Mac. Then you can paste the address into any email program or webmail service you prefer. 
  • Once you've done that, you can write and send your email as usual. If you're concerned about your privacy, you may want to use a "disposable" email account such as a webmail service you use infrequently and not for any important personal mail. 
Choose the kind of email response that's most convenient. Related coverage from Tech Reference:Read the original article on Business Insider

13 books for young children that feature protagonists of color

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 4:29pm

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  • Representation matters: Exposure to different people and beliefs encourages empathy, acceptance, and perspective-taking.
  • When you encourage diversity in your children's books early, you facilitate their social-emotional intelligence. 
  • Here are 13 children's books that feature protagonists of color and explore themes like empowerment, sharing, empathy, and cultural pride.

Undoing generations of systemic, damaging attitudes toward people of color is an enormous undertaking that is paramount to their health, safety, and quality of life. One small way you can contribute to this ongoing movement is by encouraging your children to talk and think about race. My family lives in a diverse city, but I still feel day-to-day as though we are not always exposed to or doing our most to talk about diversity or racism. This is why I make sure my children's library is full of books that feature protagonists of color, so they see and hear the things that make us similar and different.

This list includes some of the books that my children — almost 2 and 5 years old — enjoy reading. Sometimes a character's background is central to the story. Other times, it's not a focus at all.

The value of representation in your child's library is substantial. These stories frequently explore salient themes like empowerment, sharing, empathy, mental health, and cultural pride. Unlike other popular children's books, the main characters in these stories are more likely to be portrayed in STEM or leadership roles. And these books give voice to authors and illustrators of color who are typically underrepresented in the literary world. There are 11 and 5 on this list, respectively. 

The books below are diverse, informative, and vividly illustrated — all the best things a picture book for children can be. Some of the titles came into our lives organically and have been enjoyed over and over. Some are new acquisitions that were thoroughly researched based on recommendations by teachers. They were all chosen because of the beauty of their characters, inside and out. If your toddler can handle non-board books, introduce these (and others like them!) as early as you can.

"Thank You, Omu" by Oge Mora Available at Amazon for $14.99

This is a beautifully told and illustrated story of Omu (pronounced AH-moo), who makes her best stew ever and then shares it with neighbors and friends as they drop in one by one for a taste. When there is no stew left for Omu, an impromptu feast is born, with special dishes from all of her thankful stew recipients. I love the images featured in a paper cutout style, and the way Omu's kitchen plays against the city backdrop.

"Leila in Saffron" by Rukhsanna Guidroz "Leila in Saffron" by Rukhsanna Guidroz available at Amazon for $11.99

Leila is at her grandmother's house and on the search for things that make her feel good about herself. She finds that the love of her family, the pride of cooking a good meal, and the beauty of her grandmother's saffron scarf all make her feel special. A glossary at the end helps with the pronunciation of some Arabic words woven throughout the bright colors and patterns of the story.

"Mae Among the Stars" by Roda Ahmed "Mae Among the Stars" by Roda Ahmed, available at Amazon for $13.49 and Barnes & Noble for $15.99

A quiet tale about real-life astronaut Mae Jemison's early childhood challenges of asserting her desire to go to space, I love this book for its spotlight on an incredibly smart, driven woman in STEM almost as much as its message that if you "dream it, believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible." A page at the end offers a brief bio of the real Mae's lifelong achievements, solidifying that mantra as fact.

"Alma and How She Got Her Name" by Juana Martinez-Neal "Alma and How She Got Her Name" by Juana Martinez-Neal, available at Amazon for $13.99 and Barnes & Noble for $15.29

Alma doesn't love that her name has so many, well, names! But by the end of this book, she is excited to know all of the fascinating ancestors she shares them with, and it is a delight to take that journey with her. Combined with the illustrations that feel like flashbacks to the time each ancestor was alive, this is a wonderful opportunity to learn briefly about different Latinx traditions and histories.

"Jabari Jumps" by Gaia Cornwall "Jabari Jumps" by Gaia Cornwall, available at Amazon for $13.76 and Barnes & Noble for $15.49

It's not always easy for kids to process their emotions, and fear is a BIG one. Jabari's dad is thoughtful and supportive while Jabari reckons with the high diving board, and we get to see how he eventually meets his goal from different perspectives at the pool. A quick and easy read about perseverance, this would be a great tool for talking to your little one about confronting their own fears.

"Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story" by Kevin Noble Maillard "Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story" by Kevin Noble Maillard available at Amazon for $12.99 and Barnes & Noble for $16.99

A Best Picture Book on about a dozen lists in 2019 and 2020, Maillard and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal (yes, from No. 4 on this list!) combine simple prose with round, doughy, subtle depictions of all the new and old elements that make fry bread special: color, time, history, art, place, and you, among other things. A deep look at the cultural roots of fry bread, this story is abstract in many ways and the illustrations emanate so much love that even younger toddlers can see that sharing really is caring.

"The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats available at Amazon for $13.49 and Barnes & Noble for $16.49

Quiet Peter has quite a day enjoying the new snow that has blanketed his neighborhood, but I don't have to tell you that since this book has been a classic since it was first published in 1962. Enjoy this sweet tale of a boy on a snowy city adventure with your kids, or without.

"A Big Mooncake for Little Star" by Grace Lin "A Big Mooncake for Little Star" by Grace Lin available at Amazon for $11.59 and Barnes & Noble for $16.99

Written as a way to share the importance of the Asian holiday Mid Autumn Moon Festival with Lin's own daughter, the focus of this story is Little Star's love affair with the big mooncake her mama made. When Mama eventually discovers that the once full moon(cake) has been whittled down to a crescent before being completely consumed, you can almost feel her quiet joy. The black pages of this book create an all-consuming backdrop for the bright yellow of Little Star's pajamas, blanket, and later, her crumbs.

"Sofia Valdez, Future Prez" by Andrea Beaty "Sofia Valdez, Future Prez" by Andrea Beaty available at Amazon for $15.28 and Barnes & Noble for $16.99

Sofia serves as a wonderful example for young friends wondering how they can make a difference in their communities, and how to motivate others to believe in you as much as you believe in yourself. I love the intersectionality of this story and others in this series from Beaty and illustrator David Roberts, including Ada Twist, Scientist, which features a young black girl who loves solving mysteries in science.

"We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga" by Traci Sorell "We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga" by Traci Sorell available at Amazon for $14.49

This is a very loaded book that features Cherokee vocabulary words, including their phonetic pronunciations, symbols, and English translations. Told chronologically, this story and the accompanying illustrations depict how a Cherokee family adapts with the changing seasons, including what they celebrate, eat, plant, and create. Younger children will love looking at all the busy people, while older children may have an easier time relating to the book's discussion of gratitude.

"The King of Kindergarten" by Derrick Barnes "The King of Kindergarten" by Derrick Barnes, available at Amazon for $11.99

This bright, fun story piles on themes of self-esteem about as high as they can go. Barnes' prose helps young friends feel confident and ready for kindergarten, with palpable excitement about the day. He offers a brief glimpse at the structure of a real-life school day, which I also love for my almost-kindergartener. Modeled by the eponymous King, this is a strong lesson in self-confidence, via an author who has made a career of empowering young black children through his literature.

"The Proudest Blue" by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali "The Proudest Blue" by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali, available at Amazon for $11.80 or Barnes & Noble for $15.99

Muhammad is known largely for being the first woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States in the Olympics, and now she can add storyteller to her list of achievements. Unsurprisingly, this story is all about pride, in yourself and your heritage, as our main character, Faizah, watches her sister wear her first hijab on the first day of a new school year. I love the delicate descriptions of the experience of wearing your first hijab, and the bright, almost emotional illustrations that are paired with them.

"Last Stop on Market Street" by Matt de la Peña "Last Stop on Market Street" by Matt de la Peña, available at Amazon for $14.52 and Barnes & Noble for $16.99

Precocious CJ has a lot of big, important questions for his grandmother during the trip back to their neighborhood after church. His experience is different (and in many cases, more difficult) than others', but his grandmother replies with optimism and her deep laugh. CJ has many opportunities to interact with a wide variety of people — the blind person who hears and smells their way around the city, for example — and it is not lost on me the value of having conversations about privilege and perspective with my own city babies. This author/illustrator team released another subtly challenging story in 2018, "Carmela Full of Wishes," also worth checking out.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A new iOS 14 feature allows you to check for speed and red-light cameras on iPhone Maps — here's what you need to know

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 4:20pm
Apple's Maps app for iPhone can now notifies drivers when red-light and speed cameras are approaching.
  • Apple has announced that Apple Maps for iPhone will now include warnings about speed cameras and traffic cams as part of the iOS 14 update. 
  • Cameras will automatically appear on the Maps app's navigation screen, alerting drivers to speed and red‑light cameras as well as potential slowdowns.
  • Apple Maps' speed camera tool is automatically enabled but, at present, only available to some drivers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland. 
  • If you don't want to wait for the Apple Maps feature, Google Maps and Waze already have tools for viewing traffic and speed cameras.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

Despite being the default iPhone navigation app, Apple's Maps has long been the underdog to its competitors. But with the iOS 14 update, Apple has introduced a new feature that may make its Maps app a little more appealing. 

Apple has announced that the iPhone iOS 14 update will come with a tool to warn drivers about upcoming speed and red-light cameras.  

How to use your iPhone Maps app's speed and red-light camera feature 

While a welcome addition to Apple Maps, the feature doesn't appear to be available to everyone at the time of publishing.

A handful of US and international users, such as those in the UK, have shared their beta experiences with the feature on Reddit. Those able to test the new tool confirmed what Apple shared on its official Maps site. Red-light cameras are signified by traffic light icons, while speed cameras are illustrated as camera-like icons inside yellow squares. Several reports have also indicated that Siri warns Maps users about upcoming speed cameras. 

The official Apple site states that the new feature should be automatically enabled and will grant you the ability to see where a camera is located directly on the map. This lets "you know when you're approaching speed cameras and red‑light cameras" and allows drivers to "anticipate potential slowing traffic ahead."

Apple Maps speed camera will only appear in certain regions and in areas where red-light and speed cameras are set up.

Apple has added the feature to the list of iOS 14 updates on the Maps app store page but has no support articles on the Apple website to help users troubleshoot. And according to Apple's website, the new camera feature is only currently only accessible to drivers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland. 

How to check for red-light or speed cameras without the iPhone Maps app

There are other navigation apps with camera notifications for iPhone users with speed and red-light cameras in their area who may still be waiting for the new Maps tool. 

Depending upon where you live, you may see traffic and speed cameras indicated on the map while navigating in Google Maps and Waze. You don't need to do anything to enable this feature; if it's supported in your locale, you will automatically see the cameras marked on the map. 

Waze currently displays traffic and speed cameras as small icons on routes you've planned, so you can see them as you approach. Related coverage from Tech Reference:Read the original article on Business Insider

Dow closes 835 points higher after hitting intraday record on Pfizer vaccine enthusiasm

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 4:13pm
  • The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 closed sharply higher on Monday after hitting intraday records earlier in the session.
  • Major US indexes were lifted bynews that Pfizer and BioNtech successfully developed a COVID-19 vaccine that demonstrated an efficacy rate of more than 90%.
  • The development is thought to remove significant uncertainty from the market as investors see a light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic tunnel.
  • While cyclical stocks in the airline, restaurant, and financial sectors soared, popular work-from-home names like Zoom, Peloton, and Netflix plummeted.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

Progress in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine was all investors need to hear to help propel stocks to hit new heights on Monday.

Both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average closed sharply higher after Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their COVID-19 vaccine was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing the illness during its phase-three trial, setting it up for an emergency rollout. Both indexes surged to intraday records during the session.

The drugmakers said no serious safety concerns had been observed throughout the trial, which enrolled about 44,000 patients.

Pfizer and BioNTech are now ramping up production of the vaccine. They said they expected to produce more than 50 million doses by the end of the year and more than 1 billion doses in 2021.

Here's where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET close on Monday:

Read more: Morgan Stanley's top cross-asset strategist pinpoints 3 areas of the market set to directly benefit from a successful COVID-19 vaccine — and explains why investors may be 'surprised' by the level of normalcy we can achieve

The vaccine-progress news rippled through various areas of the stock market. Pfizer soared 15% at intraday highs as investors expect the company to benefit from a swift rollout of the vaccine. But Pfizer wasn't the only vaccine company to surge on Monday, as Novavax leaped as much as 13% after the FDA granted it a fast-track designation.

The cyclical reopening trade also fueled gains on Monday morning. Airline and cruise-line stocks surged, as investors likely anticipate pent-up demand for travel once a vaccine has been widely administered. AMC Entertainment Holdings led a broad rally in movie-theater stocks, spiking roughly 48% on Monday morning.

Berkshire Hathaway soared on stock purchases, record buybacks, and the Pfizer vaccine news.

Read more: From flipping burgers at McDonald's to a self-made multimillionaire: How Willie Mandrell leveraged a simple real-estate investing strategy to acquire 40 units and achieve financial freedom

But technology stocks that saw a surge in business due to the COVID-19 pandemic didn't participate in Monday's jump higher.

Work-from-home stocks suffered on the news, as people are more likely to spend less time at home and get back to offices once the COVID-19 pandemic is in the rearview mirror. Zoom, Peloton, DocuSign, and Netflix cratered on Monday.

Elsewhere, Biogen plummeted 32% after a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee signaled that its Alzheimer's therapy would not receive approval early next year.

Read more: Morgan Stanley says to load up on these 10 stocks featured on the firm's 'buy list,' which has dominated the broader market this year

Despite Monday's strong move in stocks, markets could be set up for a continued rise into year-end, according to Fairlead Strategies Katie Stockton, who sees a 3,825 price target in the S&P 500 headed into early next year.

On the economic front, the combination of a Joe Biden presidency and the administration of a COVID-19 vaccine could help boost GDP growth in 2021, according to Goldman Sachs.

Oil prices soared. West Texas Intermediate crude climbed as much as 11%, to $41.33 per barrel. Brent crude, oil's international benchmark, jumped 10%, to $43.48 per barrel, at intraday highs.

Gold slid on Monday, falling as much as 5.2%, to $1,850.51 per ounce.

Read more: A team of Wells Fargo investment strategists who studied the latest election results shares how exactly to play the most likely outcome with stocks, bonds, commodities, and tax strategies

Read the original article on Business Insider

Gun stocks tumble after upbeat vaccine news and lack of civil unrest after election

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 4:13pm
A Smith & Wesson logo is displayed during the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, U.S., May 6, 2018.
  • Firearm sales dropped on Monday after Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine trial showed early promise and the election of Joe Biden did not result in civil unrest. 
  • Firearms, along with other "stay-at-home stocks" such as Peloton, have experienced higher sales this year. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

(Reuters) - Shares of firearms sellers tumbled on Monday as promising data from a COVID-19 vaccine trial knocked stay-at-home stocks, and as civil unrest failed to materialize after Democrat Joe Biden emerged as the winner of last week's presidential election.

Smith & Wesson Brands and rival Sturm Ruger & Co fell more than 9%, while Vista Outdoor, which sells ammunition and a range of sporting goods, fell over 12%.

They were among several so-called stay-at-home stocks dropping after Pfizer said its experimental vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19.

Sales of sporting goods, including hunting gear, have increased this year as consumers spend more time outdoors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"If a vaccine that is 90% effective can truly bring COVID to an end, the return to work and school could subsequently bring sales in these categories back down to normalized levels," Aegis Capital analyst Rommel Dionisio said in an email.

Two other big winners this year from consumers spending more time at home - Peloton Interactive and Zoom Video Communications  — both fell more than 14%, while airlines and other companies that would benefit from an end to the health crisis rallied.

An absence of civil unrest following the election may also be hurting sentiment for gun stocks.

Worries that Joe Biden and his Democratic party would win the presidency and take control of the Senate from Republicans sent firearms sales surging in recent months, as did violent protests in several cities, and fears of new civil unrest related to Tuesday's presidential election.

But with control of the Senate still undecided, Biden could struggle to fulfill campaign promises, including banning the sale of military style rifles.

However, Dionisio predicted that fears of gun control could still fuel another surge in firearms purchases by consumers worried they will not be able to buy them in the future.

Smith & Wesson's shares have jumped or dropped at least 6% in every session since the election, and they are now down 11% overall since Tuesday.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Read the original article on Reuters. Copyright 2020. Follow Reuters on Twitter.Read the original article on Business Insider

26 gift ideas from 'Shark Tank' that you can get from Amazon

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 4:11pm

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

One of our favorite shows to spot new products and enjoy some entertaining celebrity judge banter is "Shark Tank," which is currently in its 12th season. 

As we've seen over the years, some pitches do extremely well, while others aren't so lucky — but the fact remains that the show brings forward new and innovative ideas most of us have never considered.

That's why the products from the show tend to make especially good gifts. They're far from generic and they usually solve a common problem or annoyance. Conveniently, most are also available on Amazon.

Most of these items are available with Prime two-day shipping, so don't stress too hard about scrambling for a last-minute gift — just remember that the sooner you order, the better your chances of a timely arrival. 

The top 5 gifts from 'Shark Tank':
  1. A memorable 3D card, $15
  2. A reusable smart notebook, $24.64
  3. The famous "Comfy" sweatshirt that they'll never want to take off, $40
  4. An appliance that turns any beer into draft beer, $122.74
  5. High-fidelity earplugs to protect their ears during concerts, $23.98
If they love watching 'Shark Tank,' they'll recognize these 26 awesome gift ideas: A travel accessory that combines a hoodie with a memory foam pillow HoodiePillow Memory Foam Travel Pillow, $29.95, available at Amazon

The clever design of this two-in-one hoodie and memory foam pillow, which feels like their favorite fleece sweatshirt, lets them fall asleep comfortably while traveling. The hood helps block out light and noise, while the pillow provides soft neck support. 

A baking pan that gives them more edge pieces Baker's Edge Nonstick Edge Brownie Pan, $36.95, available at Amazon

The days of fighting over the limited number of edge pieces are over. With this unique pan, every piece has two delectable, chewy edges. Other than to make brownies, they can also use it for other desserts, pasta, or any baked good that requires some extra crust.


A fun outdoor game Spikeball 3 Ball Kit, $59.96, available at Amazon

On a beautiful sunny day at any park in the city, you'll probably see at least one group playing this fun and active game. With rules similar to volleyball, it's easy to learn — so the whole family can get involved. The company even holds nationwide tournaments if your recipient gets really good at the game. 

A funny gift box Prank Pack Bathe & Brew Gift Box, $6, available at Amazon

The Prank Pack isn't the actual gift, but it is a funny way to prank your recipient and trick them into thinking they're receiving a strange or gimmicky present. The co-founder is a former writer at The Onion, so expect nothing less than hilarious fake products and product descriptions that your recipient will have to pretend to enjoy. 

Rich, dessert-like peanut butter spread packed with protein Nuts 'N More Chocolate Maple Pretzel Peanut Butter Spread, $11.99, available at Amazon

For the family's resident sweet tooth or fitness enthusiast, get these chunky, sweet-and-salty peanut butter spreads. They contain whey protein isolate, providing 11 grams of protein per serving, and they're low-sugar and low-carb. Spread the creative flavors, which include birthday cake and gingerbread, over pancakes or fruit, or enjoy them straight out of the jar. 

A glass that makes any wine bottle into a single serving Guzzle Buddy 2GO Wine Glasses, $12.99, available at Amazon

This handy tool can attach a glass to nearly any bottle of wine. It's odor-free, virtually unbreakable, and top-rack dishwasher safe. Plus, it lies at the intersection between a humorous white elephant gift and an actually useful accessory, given how the past year has panned out. 

A device that will help them get the perfect picture of their pet Pooch Selfie, $9.99, available at Amazon

Chances are if they're a dog owner, they love taking pictures of their furry friend. They'll appreciate this clever attachment that affixes a tennis ball to their phone so their dog will look directly at the camera. Not only will it result in a great photo, but they can also get in a fun game of fetch afterward. 

A heartfelt message written on an unexpected surface Potato Parcel, $14.99, available at Amazon

If you have a friend or loved one that really needs to smile this holiday season, this admittedly strange but equally heartfelt gift is likely to make them laugh. Although silly in nature, sending a potato just might be what they need to make their day, and the custom messaging creates an opportunity for a gift that's both humorous and kind.

High-fidelity earplugs to protect their ears during concerts Vibes High Fidelity Concert Earplugs, $23.98, available at Amazon

If they plan on attending a lot of loud shows as soon as concerts are safe again, their eardrums may be facing the consequences. Wearing these comfortable earplugs can reduce decibel levels by up to 22 decibels, but they don't cancel out noise completely. Instead, they only filter out certain frequencies, so your recipient will still be able to enjoy the crisp vocals and instrumentation of their favorite band. 

A balance bike KaZAM No Pedal Balance Bike, from $59.95, available at Amazon

Featuring a patented footrest design that helps young kids find their center of gravity, this bike builds the confidence needed to transition to riding a proper bike. The ergonomic, adjustable handles and seat will get kids comfortable and ready to ride right away. The bike weighs only eight pounds and the puncture-free tires never need air. 

A back support belt that improves posture BetterBack, $49.99, available at Amazon

Insider Reviews senior editor Sally Kaplan can't recommend this posture corrector enough. If your recipient suffers from back pain, this ergonomic belt provides the relief they'll need. 

A memorable 3D card Lovepop Star Wars Pop Up Card, $15, available at Amazon

The cards are available in eight different "Star Wars" designs, or you can visit Lovepop's Amazon page to find other types of themes. Don't worry — there's still room to write an actual message for your recipient in the included notecard. 

A beach towel that gives back Sand Cloud Turkish Towel, $29.99, available at Amazon

This beautiful 100% Turkish cotton towel also works as a throw or wall tapestry. It's thin and compact, but durable. Plus, the company donates 10% of profits to help preserve marine life.

An appliance that turns any beer into draft beer Fizzics FZ403 DraftPour Beer Dispenser, $122.74, available at Amazon

Using sound waves, this cool appliance turns any can or bottle of beer into fresh draft beer by turning its natural carbonation into compacted micro bubbles. All they have to do is insert their favorite beer, then pull and push the tap to receive the enhanced version of their IPA, pilsner, or stout. 

A sturdy, inflatable paddle board Tower Inflatable 10'4" Stand Up Paddle Board, $629.99, available at Amazon

Gift an avid outdoor adventurer this premium paddle board and you'll have a difficult time getting them to return to shore. Its design provides for better balance and stability, while a bottom fin makes it easier to maneuver. It inflates and deflates quickly, so it can be brought anywhere — but unlike many other inflatable boards, it's strong and rigid. 

A reusable smart notebook Rocketbook Everlast Reusable Smart Notebook, Executive Size, $24.64, available at Amazon

The innovative tech of the Rocketbook lets them put pen to paper and organize and access those thoughts with the same convenience of digital notes. The 36-page notebook is infinitely reusable because the contents get sent to their chosen cloud service before being wiped clean with a damp cloth. 

Adorable leather moccasins Freshly Picked Kids' Soft Sole Moccasins (Newborn Baby), $39, available at Amazon 

The creator of the cutest little baby shoes you've ever seen got her start picking up yard sale leather scraps and selling on Etsy. Today, parents everywhere are obsessed with the unique and comfortable 100% leather designs that infuse style into their baby's every step. 

The famous "Comfy" sweatshirt that they'll never want to take off The Comfy Sweatshirt, from $39.99, available at Amazon

You can practically feel the comfortable softness and warmth of this oversized blanket sweater just by looking at it. Cozy up in The Comfy by the fireplace, at sports games, or while watching rom-coms. 

A temperature-regulating machine that goes under their bed BedJet 3 Climate Comfort for Beds, $449, available at Amazon

As an engineer who developed the heating and cooling systems of NASA spacesuits, the creator of BedJet has the perfect background to improve the sleep experience. Since temperature often impedes a good night's sleep, the BedJet blows hot or cold air onto the bed and over their body and creates "biorhythm sleep sequences" throughout the night. 

A better protein mixing bottle Ice Shaker 26-Ounce Stainless Steel Protein Mixing Cup, $35, available at Amazon

The problem with traditional plastic protein powder shakers is that they tend to absorb odor and won't keep the contents cold. Former NFL player Chris Gronkowski's stainless steel water bottle is double-insulated, spill-proof, and odor-free — the upgrade that gym rats deserve.

A drink accessory that keeps their beer cold BottleKeeper The Standard 2.0, $34.99, available at Amazon

Is there anything more frustrating to an avid beer drinker than a cold one that's less than cold in just half an hour? The insulated stainless steel BottleKeeper, complete with bottle opener, keeps their beer colder for a longer period of time. It's also a smart way to protect against drops and spills. 

A funny card game that tests the financial limits of various outrageous scenarios Pricetitution Card Game, $19.99, available at Amazon

Every card begins with the prompt, "How much money would it take me..." followed by a funny situation. It was a big success on both "Shark Tank," with four Sharks giving offers, and on Kickstarter. 

A smart video doorbell Ring Video Doorbell Pro, Works with Alexa, $249, available at Amazon

Ring may not have secured a deal with the Sharks, but it did strike up a deal with Amazon for over $1 billion last year, so it's doing just fine. The smart security system has two-way talk, sends motion-activated alerts, and works with Alexa, giving homeowners the peace of mind that their house will be safe, regardless of whether they're home. 

A suction silicone place mat Ezpz Happy Mat, $24.99, available at Amazon

Parents will appreciate any help. The place mat stays right in place on any flat surface, making it that much easier to get food from the plate into their child's mouth.

A rapid ramen cooker Rapid Ramen Cooker, $9.94, available at Amazon 

What seems like a gag gift has actually come in handy for many busy students, parents, and office workers because it takes away the need for a stove and dish-washing session, cooks the noodles more quickly, and requires less water. It's the perfect size for a block of ramen and a faster, more reliable alternative to stovetop cooking. 

A pair of lightweight running sandals Xero Shoes Barefoot-Inspired Sport Sandals, Men's Z-Trek, $64.99, available at AmazonXero Shoes Barefoot-Inspired Sport Sandals, Women's Z-Trek, $64.99, available at Amazon

After constantly getting injured while running, cofounder Steven Sashen switched to barefoot running and loved the effects, so he created a thin running sandal. These comfortable and supportive shoes are great for runners and could inspire them to kick-start their 2021 running goals. They can also be used for outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Microsoft's $500 Xbox Series X launches tomorrow — here's where and how to buy the next-gen console

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 4:08pm

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

  • The Xbox Series X, Microsoft's next-generation video game console, will be released on November 10 for $500.
  • Preorders began on September 22, and Microsoft is also offering a monthly payment option for the console via its Xbox All Access program.
  • The Xbox Series X will replace the Xbox One as Microsoft's flagship console, and the company is also releasing a cheaper Xbox Series S model with less powerful hardware and no disc drive.
  • Though preorders for the Series X have been sold out at most stores, Walmart is expected to add new stock at 12 p.m. ET on November 10.
  • For more next-gen Xbox details, check out our full reviews of the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S.

Microsoft's new flagship video game console, the Xbox Series X, will launch on November 10 for $500. Preorders began on September 22 at 11 a.m. ET. 

The Xbox Series X will replace the Xbox One X as Microsoft's most powerful gaming machine. The system will be backwards compatible with all Xbox One games and controllers on release. Older games will see significant graphical improvements on the Xbox Series X, including support for 120 frames per second playback. Microsoft says the Xbox Series X will be capable of playing thousands of games from the original Xbox and Xbox 360 at launch.

On release day, Xbox fans can look forward to "Assassin's Creed Valhalla," "Gears Tactics," and more than a dozen mores games that have been specifically optimized for the new console. "Halo Infinite" was originally intended to launch alongside the Series X as well, but the game has now been delayed to 2021.

Microsoft has said that the Xbox Series X will have limited stock at major retailers; most preorders have already sold out, but Walmart has said it will have more Xbox Series X consoles for sale online on November 10 at 12 p.m. ET. Best Buy and GameStop have said they will have the Xbox Series X in limited quantities in stores during their Black Friday sales later this month.

Below, we've broken down everything we know so far about how to buy the Xbox Series X. We'll update this article with more purchase options as they are posted.

Updated on 11/9/2020 by Kevin Webb: Added additional preorder information for the Xbox Series X.

Xbox Series X preorder details Microsoft is releasing two new Xboxes together for the first time in 2020.

The Xbox Series X will cost $500 when it's released on November 10. Preorders launched on September 22 at various retailers, including Microsoft, Amazon, Best BuyTarget, GameStop, Walmart, and Newegg.

Walmart has said more Xbox Series X consoles will be available at 12 p.m. ET on November 10, so it's worth checking to see if more retailers will have them too.

In addition to regular purchase options from various retailers, Microsoft will also offer a monthly purchase option for the console as part of its Xbox All Access program. The plan costs $34.99 a month for 24 months, and includes the system and a 24 month subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. You can find more details here.

Microsoft is launching another new Xbox console that will be slightly weaker than the Series X with a lower price tag, too. The system, called the Xbox Series S, will cost $300 and is also set for release on November 10.

Xbox Series X specifications and features

Microsoft says the Xbox Series X is about twice as strong as the Xbox One X and more than eight times as powerful as the original Xbox One released in 2013. The Series X also boasts significantly faster load times thanks to a new solid state hard drive. The SSD enables new features like Quick Resume, which lets you save multiple games in a suspended state similar to rest mode.

Another new feature is "Smart Delivery" — a process that lets Xbox owners swap between the Series X and Xbox One versions of games, like "Halo Infinite" and "Gears 5," to get the best possible quality on both consoles with no extra cost.

Because of smart delivery, Microsoft says there won't be any games that are truly exclusive to the Xbox Series X for a year or longer. Every new Xbox release in 2020 will still be available on Xbox One, but the Series X versions will have improved visuals thanks to Smart Delivery.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine relies on a new, unproven technology. A diagram shows how it differs from other candidates.

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 4:05pm
A syringe carrying a vaccine.

Pfizer is now leading the coronavirus vaccine race: The company announced Monday that people who received its two shots during the company's final stage of clinical trials were less likely to develop COVID-19. The results indicate the vaccine is more than 90% effective in preventing the disease. 

Like the other leading vaccine candidates in the US, Pfizer's shot does not inject the actual virus, SARS-CoV-2, into the body, contrary to popular myth. Instead, the vaccines all rely on a harmless segment of the virus to spur the production of antibodies.

But to stimulate that immune response, different vaccines rely on different technologies. Pfizer's candidate is an mRNA vaccine, an unproven technology that uses a snippet of the coronavirus' genome to encourage antibody production. Moderna's uses the same approach, though no mRNA vaccine has ever been approved before. 

Two other candidates, from Novavax and a Sanofi-GlaxoSmithKline partnership, are protein-based vaccines, which involve injecting a protein found on the surface of the coronavirus directly into the body. Another two, from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, introduce a coronavirus gene to the body using a genetically engineered common-cold virus. This is called a viral vector vaccine. 

Here's how the three compare:

mRNA vaccine: the new kid on the block

RNA vaccines like Pfizer's are often referred to as the vaccines of the future, since the technology is fairly new — early clinical results were just starting to emerge before the pandemic. No vaccine using this technology has ever been approved. But now, RNA vaccines are poised to become the first coronavirus shots on the market.

The technology relies on a small piece of messenger RNA (mRNA) from the coronavirus genome. It delivers a gene that codes for the coronavirus' spike protein.

This spike protein is one of four that make up the coronavirus; it helps the virus attach to and invade cells. A person infected with the coronavirus develops antibodies that neutralize this spike protein. So RNA vaccines spur the body to produce that spike protein internally. The mRNA enters cells encased in a lipid molecule, then sends a coded message to the body to make the spike protein. That in turn triggers an immune response.

RNA vaccines offer several advantages. First, unlike vector or protein-based vaccines, they stimulate the production of killer T cells, which stop the coronavirus from replicating. Second, because mRNA vaccines are produced in test tubes or tanks rather than being cultivated in cells, they should be relatively easy and quick to produce. 

Volunteer Melissa Harting receives Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine.

There are drawbacks, though. Since the body breaks down mRNA quickly, these vaccines require a booster shot. Pfizer is delivering two shots three weeks apart. Participants in Moderna's trial are receiving two shots 28 days apart.

There are also challenges when delivering and storing them: Pfizer's vaccine needs to be shipped at -94 degrees Fahrenheit, which would require vaccination sites to have deep freezers or dry ice on hand. Moderna's requires a temperature of -4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Moderna and Pfizer's phase-three trials were neck-and-neck until Pfizer announced its promising results on Monday. Pfizer is still waiting on more safety data, however — and the trial results still need to be evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration. Moderna also expects to release findings this month.

Protein-based vaccine: the slower, traditional method

When scientists were developing the hepatitis B vaccine in the 1980s, they discovered that they could grow the virus' surface protein on its own in a lab. Researchers are now attempting to do something similar with the coronavirus.

Both Novavax and Sanofi-GSK are developing vaccines using a synthesized version of the spike protein, which they grow in insect cells. The protein is then purified and injected into the body. Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said at a Senate hearing in September that the process is "tried and true." But it's a bit slower than the technologies used by other candidates.

Novavax and Sanofi-GSK haven't started phase-three US trials for their protein-based vaccines yet. The former plans to begin a Warp Speed-backed phase-three study in November, while Sanofi-GSK hopes to start its phase-three trial in December.

Both vaccines require an adjuvant, a chemical agent that boosts the immune response. This can sometimes cause pain or swelling at the injection site. But the shots' advantage is that they could be stored at regular refrigerator temperature, making them easier to ship than some other leading candidates.

Viral vector vaccine: the hearty immune response

Instead of directly injecting the spike protein into the body, vector vaccines rely on a middleman: a less harmful class of virus called an adenovirus, which can cause the common cold. Researchers attach a gene for the spike protein to the back of an adenovirus, which then acts as a delivery truck to drop that gene off inside the body. The adenovirus is disabled before it's injected, so it won't replicate inside the body.

The process triggers the production of the actual spike protein, which then leads the immune system to produce antibodies to neutralize it. 

This approach isn't new — it dates back to the 1980s — but only one viral vector vaccine has been ever been licensed for human use: Sanofi's Dengue vaccine. 

A volunteer participates in Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine trial.

One advantage of a vector vaccine is that it can produce a robust immune response without an adjuvant. But developers must strike a careful balance: The vaccine dose should be high enough to induce an immune response, but low enough that the body doesn't overreact with aggressive inflammation.

The adenovirus used also can't be common, since people with prior exposure would fight it off before it could deliver the spike protein gene. (AstraZeneca's vaccine uses a chimpanzee adenovirus to alleviate that problem.) 

Though the technology has shown promise, the two leading developers of coronavirus vector vaccines — AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson — temporarily put their US trials on hold earlier this fall to investigate illnesses in participants. Both companies received the go-ahead from the FDA to resume their trials in October.

If approved, AstraZeneca's vaccine would require two shots, four weeks apart. Johnson & Johnson is testing one shot for now, but the company's chief scientific officer, Paul Stoffels, has said a second dose could be administered down the line.

The vector approach may pose challenges for booster shots, though, since the body may recognize the adenovirus and attack it right away. 

More reliable than a flu vaccine

A coronavirus vaccine needs to be at least 50% effective to get emergency authorization from the FDA. But experts hope for better than that — and Pfizer's candidate, at least, seems to deliver.

"The results are really quite good, I mean extraordinary," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Washington Post. Since Moderna's vaccine uses the same technology, Pfizer's results "gives you hope we might even have two vaccines," Fauci added.

Fauci had previously said he'd "settle" for a vaccine that's 70% to 75% effective. That may be enough to achieve herd immunity in the US if everyone gets a shot.

"The best we've ever done is measles, which is 97% to 98% effective," he told CNN in June. "That would be wonderful if we get there. I don't think we will."

Experts anticipate that the coronavirus vaccine will be far more effective than the yearly flu vaccine, which was 39% effective last flu season. The coronavirus mutates far more slowly than the flu, so researchers think a vaccine will remain effective over a longer time.

"If I had to guess, I would say this is probably a better virus for a vaccine to really work well than the influenza virus, which is a tough one because it's changing every year," Collins said.

In total, 241 coronavirus vaccine research projects are in progress worldwide.

"Having this mix of strategies is the best insurance against some unexpected problem with safety or efficacy," Collins said. "We hope and expect that more than one of these will succeed."

Read the original article on Business Insider

27 photos of some of the most adorable dogs to live in the White House

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 3:59pm
President Barack Obama and his dog Bo were very close.
  • Dogs are the most popular pet for a president to have during his time in the White House.
  • President Donald Trump broke the presidential tradition when he didn't bring a dog into the White House, saying after two years in office that he would feel "a little phony doing so."
  • President-elect Joe Biden is poised to reset the tradition of dogs in the Executive Mansion with his two German shepherds, one of whom would be the first shelter rescue dog to live in the White House.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Dogs have been the most popular pet for a president to have during his time in the White House — 30 of the 45 presidents have had at least one dog in the West Wing.

The first to have a dog during his presidency was George Washington, and the last was Barack Obama with two dogs.

After President Donald Trump became the most recent president to not have a dog in the White House since William McKinley more than 100 years ago, President-elect Joe Biden is poised to reset the tradition of dogs in the Executive Mansion.

One of Biden's German shepherds, Major, will be making history as the first shelter dog to live in the White House. He'll be following in Champ Biden's Washington, DC, footsteps after the dog spent eight years in the former vice president's residence at the Naval Observatory.

Here are 27 photos of some of the most adorable and well-known canines to grace the Oval Office.

Grover Cleveland's cocker spaniel named Gallagher had a brown coat and ears of "inconvenient length." Grover Cleveland with his dog

Source: America Comes Alive

Warren Harding's terrier, named Laddie Boy, was six months old when he moved into the White House. Laddie Boy, President Warren G. Harding's terrier is shown, Aug. 1, 1922.

Source: America Comes Alive

Calvin Coolidge's collie Rob Roy was named after the popular cocktail. President Calvin Coolidge stands outdoors with his wife Grace, their two sons, and their pet white collie Rob Roy in the 1920s.

Source: Presidential Pet Museum

Herbert Hoover had a Belgian shepherd named King Tut, who would patrol the gates of the White House on a nightly basis. He also helped Hoover get elected, appearing in a campaign photo. President Herbert Hoover and first lady Lou Henry Hoover actually had several dogs, but King Tut was the most famous.

Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe Hoover Presidential Library

Franklin Roosevelt's German shepherd, Major, used to chase the White House maids around. Franklin D. Roosevelt with pet dog, Major, a German shepherd, shown in this undated photo at the president's home at Warm Springs, Ga., known as the Little White House.

Source: Presidential Pet Museum

FDR also had a Scottish terrier named Fala that would often accompany the president on his travels. President Franklin D. Roosevelt lifts his dog Fala as he prepares to motor from his special train to the Yacht Potomac at New London, Conn., Aug. 3, 1941.

Source: BarkPost

Harry Truman gave away his dog, a cocker spaniel named Feller, to a family physician because he was not a dog lover.

Source: Presidential Pet Museum

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave John F. Kennedy a dog named Pushinka as a gift. Pushinka stands her ground on the White House lawn, Aug. 14, 1963, while the rest of the family's dogs vacation with the first family at Cape Cod.

Source: BBC

Other than Pushinka, JFK had eight dogs, including his German shepherd named Clipper. "Clipper" a German shepherd supervises as eight of the nine known dogs of President John F.Kennedy's household pose for impromptu press conference at Squaw Island, Hyannis Port, Massachusetts on August 14, 1963.

Source: JFK Presidential Library and Museum

Two of Lyndon B. Johnson's beagles, Him and Her, were frequently on the receiving end of the president pulling their long ears. U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson holds his dog "Her" by the ears as White House visitors look on, April 27, 1964, on the White House lawn, Washington, D.C. At left is President Johnson's other dog, "Him."

Source: Presidential Pet Museum

One of Lyndon B. Johnson's beagles named Kimberly was given to his daughter Luci. Kimberly, one of President Lyndon Johnson’s beagles, sticks his head through a partially-opened window of an automobile where he waited while Luci Johnson and Pat Nugent attended Mass, July 3, 1966 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Source: America Comes Alive

Luci also got another one of his beagles named Freckles. President Lyndon Johnson poses with Freckles, mother of five Beagle pups at the White House in Washington, Nov. 4, 1966.

Source: America Comes Alive

LBJ found his fifth dog, a terrier mix named Yuki, at a Texas gas station on Thanksgiving in 1966. President Lyndon Johnson trots after Yuki, the White House pet, in an effort to coax the dog abroad the presidential plane on Sept.19,1968 at Andrews Air Force Base.

Source: Presidential Pet Museum

Richard Nixon's three dogs were an Irish setter named King Timahoe, a poodle named Vicki, and a terrier named Pasha. The three dogs of the Richard Nixon in Washington on Nov. 23, 1972.

Source: America Comes Alive

Gerald Ford and his daughter Susan had a golden retriever named Liberty. Susan got Liberty as a surprise for her father when she was a puppy. Years later, Liberty had nine puppies of her own. President Gerald Ford and his daughter, Susan, are seen on the South Lawn of the White House with their dog, Liberty, Oct. 7, 1974, Washington, D.C.

Source: Presidential Pet Museum

Jimmy Carter had a border collie mix named Grits that was born on the same day Carter was elected president. President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter play with their dog "Grits" on the south lawn of the White House in Washington D.C. after returning from church on Sunday, August 6,1978.

Source: Presidential Pet Museum

Ronald Reagan had two White House dogs. The one seen here was a Bouvier des Flandres named Lucky that Nancy Reagan received as a gift in 1984. President Ronald Reagan is pulled along by his pet dog Lucky while he and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher take a stroll in the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 1985 in Washington.

Source: Presidential Pet Museum

Reagan's other dog in the White House was a Charles Spaniel named Rex. President Ronald Reagan, right, and First Lady Nancy Reagan, center, walk with their dog Rex on the South Lawn of the White House after they returned by helicopter from Camp David, Md. where the first family has spent the weekend, March 16, 1986, Washington, D.C.

Source: Presidential Pet Museum

George H.W. Bush had two Springer Spaniels, Millie and Ranger. President George Bush gets down on his knees to show off his dogs, Millie and Ranger, May 2, 1991 in the White House Oval Office to his guests at Washington, Neera Khurana, age 4, and her sister Sonia, age 6, right, who is the 1991 poster child for Better Hearing and Speech Month.

Source: Presidential Pet Museum

Bill Clinton named his chocolate Labrador retriever Buddy after his great-uncle. President Bill Clinton is greeted by his dog Buddy as he returns to the White House Wednesday morning, Aug. 12, 1998, after a two-day fund-raising trip.

Source: Presidential Pet Museum

George W. Bush and his first dog in the White House, an English Springer Spaniel named Spot, was one of Millie's puppies. President George W. Bush waves as he walks toward the Oval Office with his dog Spot September 23, 2002 in Washington, DC.

Source: Presidential Pet Museum

Bush also had two Scottish Terriers named Barney and Miss Beazley, who were separated in age by four years. President George W. Bush waves as he arrives on the South Lawn of the White House with his dogs, Barney and Miss Beazley, August 13, 2006 in Washington, DC.

Source: George W. Bush Presidential Center

The Obamas had two famous Portuguese Water dogs named Bo and Sunny. President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia (L) and Sasha (R) pose for a family portrait with their pets Bo and Sunny in the Rose Garden of the White House on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015.

Source: The Washington Post

Bo often exercised and played with the president. President Barack Obama runs down the East Colonnade with family dog, Bo, on the dog's initial visit to the White House, March 15, 2009. Bo came back to live at the White House in April.

Source: White House

Bo and Sunny were so popular that they apparently had official White House schedules for all of their appearances. President Barack Obama and Bo in the Oval Office.

Source: PBS

Donald Trump bucked White House tradition when he went four years in office without a dog. Trump returns to the White House after receiving his annual physical exam at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on February 8, 2019 in Washington, DC. Trump told a crowd in February 2018 that though he "wouldn't mind having one," he doesn't have any time and getting a dog to improve his image would feel "a little phony." President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in El Paso, Texas, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019.

Source: Business Insider

When Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was projected to win the 2020 election, dog-lovers noticed that Major would be the first shelter dog in the White House.

Sources: Insider, Delaware Humane Association

The Bidens adopted Major in November 2018, and he joined Champ as the family's second German shepherd. Major was the last rank Biden's son Beau held in the US Army JAG Corps before he died from a brain tumor in 2015. Vice President Joe Biden's dog, Champ, lays down during speeches at a Joining Forces service event at the Naval Observatory May 10, 2012, in Washington, DC

Sources: Delaware Humane Association, The Washington Post, Town & Country

The Bidens have long been dog-lovers. When she was the second lady, Jill Biden created the Family Heritage Garden at the vice president's residence, which memorializes all past residents and their dogs on stone pavers. The Family Heritage Garden, where occupants and family members, including pets, are memorialized around a fountain as seen on October 28, 2016.

Source: Business Insider

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best headphone deals — save $55 on Apple's AirPods Pro with noise cancellation

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 3:58pm

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  • Good-quality headphones can be expensive, but they often go on sale.
  • We've rounded up the best headphone deals for November 2020.
  • We'll update this list regularly with the top deals.
  • Right now, the Apple AirPods Pro are on sale for $194 — that's $55 off their full price.

A great pair of headphones can change the way you listen to music. Sure, the random earbuds that you have in your bottom drawer may do the job just fine for some, but if you want to hear nuanced details, well-rounded bass, or a sparkling high-end, you'll need something a little more versatile.

If you are in the market for a new pair of headphones, it's worth figuring out exactly what kind of headphones you want. The first step is to determine whether you want in-ear headphones, on-ear headphones, or over-ear headphones.

In-ear headphones are more portable than any other headphones, while over-ear headphones are the most comfortable and deep-sounding. On-ear headphones are often considered a good compromise between the two. If you hate wires, you could also get true wireless in-ear headphones, like AirPods, which cut the cables completely. 

It's also worth looking into a few headphone brands. If you're an audiophile who wants the best-sounding headphones, companies like Sennheiser, Klipsch, and Shure are worth considering. If you want incredible noise-cancelling headphones or those that work great for day-to-day use, consider those from Sony or Bose. And, if you want plenty of bass and tight integration with your Apple products, look into headphones from Beats or Apple itself.

Once you've determined the type of headphones you want, you'll want to figure out what your budget is. These days, you can get solid headphones for under $100, but as with anything, you get what you pay for — and the more you're willing to spend, the better headphones you'll be able to get. 

Of course, you don't necessarily have to spend as much as you normally would if you can find a great deal. And that's exactly why we put together this guide for the best headphone deals that you can take advantage of right now.

Here are the best headphone deals in November 2020:

Prices and links are current as of 11/9/2020. Added Powerbeats earphones and Powerbeat Pro. Updated by Steven Cohen. 

Over-ear headphone deals

Over-ear headphones may not be the most portable headphones out there, but they generally sound a whole lot better than in-ear headphones, thanks to their larger drivers. They also boast long battery lives and plenty of padding for a comfortable fit. Some models even include smart features — like integration with your digital assistant, noise cancellation, and more.

Right now, you can snag Master & Dynamic's premium MW65 headphones for $117 off their full price at Amazon. This high-end model includes support for noise cancellation and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. 

On-ear headphone deals

On-ear headphones are a good compromise between portability and sound-quality. Sure, you won't be able to fit them in your pocket, but they're light-weight enough to easily carry around in a bag or backpack without noticing much of a difference. Unlike over-ear headphones, on-ear headphones rest on your outer ear, but good ones don't do so uncomfortably.

The best deal on on-ear headphones right now is for the Beats Solo3 Wireless Club Collection headphones, which are around $97 off when you use the code BISOLO at checkout. For that price, you get a bass-forward, well-rounded frequency response, and tight integration with other Apple products. Here are all the best on-ear headphone deals out there right now.

In-ear headphone deals

Looking for something portable that you can easily put into your pocket? In-ear headphones are the way to go. We have technically split the in-ear headphones into two categories — so if you're looking for modern true wireless headphones, skip ahead to the next section. 

The deals below are for wired in-ear headphones, which connect through a cable to your listening device, and wireless in-ear headphones which connect via Bluetooth to your listening device. Unlike true wireless headphones, however, regular wireless in-ear headphones still feature wires to connect each earbud together.

True wireless in-ear headphone deals

Perhaps you want to avoid wires all together with a pair of true wireless headphones. These headphones feature separate earbuds that connect wirelessly to each other and to your listening device. A good example of true wireless headphones are Apple's AirPods Pro — which are on sale right now for $194. That's one of the lowest prices we've ever seen this model sell for.

For more headphone recommendations, check out our various headphone buying guides: Read the original article on Business Insider

Analysts predict a surge of 'guilt-gifting' as Americans feel terrible about spending holidays away from loved ones

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 3:56pm
  • This year's holiday season will be significantly different from 2019, with millions of Americans staying home amid ongoing coronavirus concerns across the country.
  • Analysts are predicting a surge in so-called "guilt gifting": Spending more than usual to make up for a lack of physically being together.
  • 40% of people said they were buying more gifts than usual this year, according to a new survey from The NPD Group.
  • "Splurges on both 'guilt-gifting' and self-gifting will be significant components of the consumer's retail therapy during Holiday 2020," NPD Group chief industry advisor for retail Marshal Cohen said.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise across the United States, fewer Americans will travel to visit loved ones during the upcoming holiday season.

And that lack of travel, paired with the ongoing effects of the pandemic on daily life, are spurring a surge in "guilt gifting" this year: 40% of respondents to a new survey from The NPD Group said they would buy more gifts this year than in previous years.

"Splurges on both 'guilt-gifting' and self-gifting will be significant components of the consumer's retail therapy during Holiday 2020," NPD Group chief industry advisor for retail Marshal Cohen said.

In short: The inability to see relatives is pushing people to splurge more than usual on gifts, and that's particularly true for gifts that can be easily gifted from afar. 

Read more: Never-ending holiday deals provide a short-term sales win for retailers as growing brand devotion takes a back seat, experts warn

Meal plan subscriptions are up — beating out streaming service subscriptions for subscription-based gifts. Gift card interest has increased dramatically, with 53% of survey respondents affirming plans to give a gift card this year.

Product categories that will see greater interest this holiday will include "items that are useful to the consumer's new way of life," according to Cohen. That includes everything from robot vacuums to computer monitors.

Digital storefronts are expected to have an especially big year, with fewer shoppers than ever going into physical retail stores amid the ongoing pandemic, and most survey respondents cited free shipping as their primary concern for choosing where to buy gifts this holiday season.

"This season's gift-giving will be reflective of the time in which we are living," Cohen said.

Got a tip? Contact Business Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (, or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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