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13 romantic and secluded vacation rentals across the US

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:07pm

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A romantic retreat doesn't have to mean a stay at a pricey hotel or busy resort. With social distancing a continuing priority due to COVID-19, a private vacation rental may just be the ideal getaway for two, with plenty of space to relax in addition to utter privacy and seclusion. And these rentals for couples don't just deliver a room for the night. You'll also get unique locations, exclusive amenities, and memorable experiences.

While these secluded retreats are great for special occasions from anniversaries to birthdays, with Valentine's Day around the corner, consider that a romantic weekend away can make for a particularly memorable gift that allows for quality time together. Caroline Burns, travel expert and head of public relations at HomeToGo, agrees. "After spending so much time at home, couples booking Valentine's Day getaways this year are looking to detach from the everyday and reconnect by escaping to remote hideaways," she told Insider. She also noted that "nearly 90% of HomeToGo's overall searches in 2020 were for rural destinations," with that trend continuing as couples opt for relaxing, secluded areas that offer a quiet escape.  

Before you hit book even on a more remote vacation rental, keep in mind that with the ongoing pandemic there's no guarantee of safety when it comes to travel right now. We always recommend following guidelines from the CDC, practicing social distancing, washing hands frequently, and wearing a mask in public spaces. Additionally, take extra precautions if you plan to travel to or from a hot spot area and always assess personal risk factors.

With that in mind, for those who are seeking a domestic couple's retreat, there's no shortage of blissful vacation rentals. Since the only thing missing from a private home stay is room service, consider packing some picnic provisions or romantic additions such as champagne, chocolates, candles, flowers, or anything else that makes it feel like a special night. 

We selected our top romantic vacation rentals based on the following criteria:

  1. All listings are private residences, in line with current expert recommendations. 
  2. The selected properties offer easy access to nature, another expert recommendation, so the two of you can swim in pools, a lake, or the ocean; hike in gorgeous scenery; play in the snow; or watch the stars come out around a glowing fire. 
  3. All are top-rated properties with a review score of 4.9 or higher.
  4. We found a wide range of price points to suit various budgets and needs. Listings range from $65 to $800 per night, with an average price of $294 per night.
Here are the best romantic vacation rentals, sorted by price from low to high. Charming carriage house in Galveston, Texas, $65 Book this charming carriage house starting at $65 per night on Turnkey

Proof that a luxe-feeling couple's getaway doesn't have to empty your savings account: This beachy 19th-century charmer in the Kempner Park neighborhood of Galveston comes loaded with style, including period details like wood floors and shiplap walls, on a truly tiny budget. And there's plenty of details to set a romantic tone in this renovated, one-bedroom carriage house, including an indulgent King-size bed, and a cozy gas fireplace. Use the all-white kitchen to whip up some breakfast to eat at the granite-top table or to take back to bed. 

Extra bonus: The carriage house's mid-island location means it's a quick eight-minute walk to the sand and seawall for beachside strolls or swimming in the surf, and close to the harbor and Fisherman's Wharf for seafood splurges.

This home still has plenty of available throughout February and March.

Turnkey rating: 5

COVID-19 policies: As part of Turnkey properties, all rentals include a professional Guestwork cleaning system and keyless entry. 

A glamping yurt in Geneva, Florida, $83 Book this glamping yurt starting at $83 per night on Airbnb

The Yurt at Danville, northeast of Orlando, provides a unique getaway that's plenty private. Although it looks like it's been plucked from a medieval movie set, you and your sweetie won't have to rough it. The space is filled with creature comforts, including air conditioning, a kitchen, Wi-Fi, and a flat-screen TV, and a 14-foot vaulted ceiling complete with a five-foot skylight for indoor star gazing. This luxurious yurt also has a fire pit and grill on the deck for outdoor enjoyment.

Surrounded by live oaks and Spanish moss and all of the natural beauty of Florida, there's one more element of the outdoors to enjoy at this peaceful getaway: your next-door neighbors are a sweet family of alpacas that you can feed with grapes supplied by your host. 

This yurt has scattered days open in February with more dates open in March and beyond.

Airbnb rating: 4.96

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

Bucolic orchard cottage in Timberville, Virginia, $100 Book this bucolic orchard cottage starting at $100 per night on Airbnb

Nestled in a scenic apple orchard, the peaceful and private Orchard House is an idyllic spot to relax and unwind together. The cottage is light and airy with clerestory windows perfectly situated to take in the vistas of apple trees as far as you can see to the west, and of the Shenandoah Valley to the east. 

A brick patio under the canopy of enormous oak trees makes for a sweet spot to enjoy the outdoors in any season, including the colder months when you can warm up at your private firepit. 

And of course, you'll want to sip some hard cider while you take in the bucolic countryside. The production facility and tasting room for Old Hill Cider is right on the premises. stock up to sip while you watch the stars come out over the quiet orchard. During the summer and fall, you can even pick your own fruits and veggies from the garden or orchard to enjoy back in your shabby chic getaway. 

This home is popular but still has scattered dates available over the next few months.

Airbnb rating: 4.95

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

Waterfront home in Portland, Maine, $200 Book this waterfront home starting at $200 per night on Turnkey

Expansive water views greet couples at this coastal home with a beachy vibe set right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Stroll along the beach hand in hand, then warm up in front of two wood-burning fireplaces that grace the spacious home's living area and retro-chic kitchen. A game room with a pool/ping pong/air hockey table offers up some classic fun.  

On a sunny day, the two of you can watch the waves roll in from the Adirondack chairs on the upper-level patio. Or, just relax in the master bedroom, where an en-suite bathroom features a freestanding, two-person soaking tub and glass walk-in shower with dual showerheads. The master bedroom also offers access to another balcony where you can enjoy a sunset cocktail at the table for two.

This home is already largely booked for much of 2021. It may be worth planning ahead and booking now for a trip further in the future. 

Turnkey rating: 5

COVID-19 policies: As part of Turnkey properties, all rentals include professional Guestwork cleaning system and keyless entry.

European romantic cottage in New Hope, Pennsylvania, $200 Book this European romantic cottage starting at $200 per night on Airbnb

It's hard not to think you've touched down in a quaint English village when you arrive in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The local area boasts centuries-old homes and buildings with medieval doors and iron gates. Not to mention the adorable cottages, like this herringbone hideaway, sprinkled in.

Follow the torch-lit walkway that meanders through the garden to arrive at the historic home. Unwind among the dark wood furnishings or enjoy a meal out on the private brick patio under a colorful green umbrella. In the evening, head to Philips Mill just down the garden path. The famed restaurant is noted for being one of the most romantic spots in Bucks County, and this house is the closest building to it. 

During the day, follow the towpath outside the garden for one mile to New Hope and Lambertville, European-style villages you can explore by horse-drawn carriage for a completely transporting afternoon of sightseeing.

Plan to spend a few evenings in the country since the cottage is only available for multi-night stays. This home still has plenty of available in February, March, and April. 

Airbnb rating: 4.96

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

Mountain hideaway in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, $228 Book this mountain hideaway starting at $228 per night on Vrbo

Enjoy the views of the Great Smokey Mountains from this one-bedroom cabin in Gatlinburg. The mountain hideaway is just three miles from the national park entrance, making it especially easy to get out and explore the natural area. Though, you might just be tempted to hole up in this cozy pine cabin duplex. 

With views from every room, and even from the plush bed, you'll be able to keep an eye on local wildlife, including black bears, both indoors and outside. Laze in the hammock on the second-floor deck for eagle-eye views of the valley and the sky. On the deck below, you can soak in the hot tub as you stargaze. Inside is a billiards table, kitchen, living area with fireplace, and a King bed and deep soaking tub in the loft upstairs.

This cabin is still available nearly every day over the next few months, including Valentine's Day weekend.

Vrbo Rating: 4.9

COVID-19 policy: Property is cleaned with disinfectant with additional focus on high-touch surfaces (like countertops, light switches, handles, and faucets); check-in and check-out with no person-to-person contact; towels and bedding washed in minimum 140ºF water.

Chic beach hideaway in Los Angeles, California, $250 Book this chic beach hideaway starting at $250 per night on Turnkey

Located in the hip area of Venice Beach, this skylit one-bedroom bungalow provides a designer hideaway with sumptuous touches for a romantic escape that feels like you've traveled far away, even though you're still in the city. You'll especially feel like you're in a hidden oasis when you step into the bamboo-framed courtyard. An al fresco bathtub for two provides an intimate spot for a soak under the stars.  

Inside, the master bathroom features an oversize marble steam shower for the ultimate in relaxation. There's also a gourmet kitchen for whipping up snacks, or you can always order in some decadent takeout from Venice's beachside eateries to enjoy on the private deck. Of course, just cozying up in the black-and-white living area by the fireplace is always an option too.

This home still has almost every date open over the next few months, including Valentine's Day weekend.

Rating: New listing, no ratings yet

COVID-19 policies: As part of Turnkey properties, all rentals include professional Guestwork cleaning system and keyless entry. 

Scenic treetop hideaway in New York, $360 Book this scenic treetop hideaway starting at $360 per night on Airbnb

Although it's just 15 minutes from the hippie arts outpost of Woodstock, Willow Treehouse is less a bohemian hideout and more a sleek contemporary sculpture settled into the treetops. It's a dramatic overnight space for a country getaway, providing a secluded nest in the forest for the two of you to reconnect. The glass-fronted treetop cabin overlooks a small swimming pond, ideal for a dip on a warm day. 

If you come during the winter, when ice may deter you from a swim, you can still enjoy the wood-fire-warmed hot tub before sitting in front of the wood fire indoors. 

This listing is super popular and already booking up fast for dates throughout 2021. It may be worth planning well in advance and booking now for a trip far in the future.

Airbnb Rating: 4.94

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

Vineyard hideaway in Sonoma, California, $375 Book this vineyard hideaway starting at $375 per night on Turnkey

Nestled under giant oaks at the end of a quiet country road is this colorful and contemporary cottage overlooking Sonoma Valley's vineyards. 

Nestled on over six acres, you'll have ample space to spread out, and you can survey the vines from the private outdoor hot tub or the large deck. And with few neighbors nearby, you'll have deliciously dark skies for unimpeded evening gazing from around the firepit. 

The ultimate abode for wine lovers, stock up at more than a dozen award-winning wineries within 10 minutes of your doorstep to create a private at-home wine tasting experience for just the two of you. 

Up for a swim? The cottage also has access to a gorgeous pool and patio overlooking the surrounding vineyards. However, be aware the outdoor area is shared with the separate main home.   

This listing has wide open availability over the next few months, including over Valentine's Day weekend.

Turnkey rating: 5

COVID-19 policies: As part of Turnkey properties, all rentals include professional Guestwork cleaning system and keyless entry. 

Red rocks home in Sedona, Arizona, $381 Book this red rocks home starting at $381 per night on Vrbo

There's something magical about being surrounded by the red rocks of Sedona, whether or not you believe in their purported spiritual and healing energy. You can't get any closer to the stunning rock formations than this special property that backs directly up to national forest and the impressive stone peaks. 

The artistic home brings the natural world inside with stacked stone and wood detailing, enormous windows, and Southwestern art. Additional highlights include a King bed in the master suite, a sunken living room with a fireplace, and a gourmet kitchen, too. Trailheads are within walking distance to explore the forest, but you can also enjoy private views from the outdoor dining area and the hot tub. 

This home has wide open availability over the next few months, including over Valentine's Day weekend.

Rating: 5

COVID-19 policy: The property notes it is actively following CDC cleaning/disinfecting guidelines.

Twinkling tree house in Atlanta, Georgia $389 Book this twinkling tree house starting at $389 per night on Airbnb

A secluded tree house in a city is tough to come by, but this whimsical wooded wonderland accomplishes the seemingly impossible. It delivers a completely hidden forest stay, complete with twinkle lights strung throughout, just minutes from downtown Atlanta. 

A fairytale escape for grownups, there are swinging rope walkways, a bed on wheels that peers over the edge of the upper deck and into the trees and can be pushed into the open air, an open-sky living room to listen to the rustling leaves, a tin roof, plus high-end sheets and antique furnishings to complete the special stay. 

Note that if you're scared of heights, this probably isn't your ideal escape, especially since you need to climb down to ground level to use the private, though not attached, bathroom. 

This super popular listing is one of the most wish-listed properties on Airbnb. While there are a few scattered dates available, it may be worth booking now for a trip in 2022.

Rating: 4.95

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

Waterfront getaway on Puget Sound, Washington, $395 Book this waterfront getaway starting at $395 per night on Vrbo

The luxurious Bluff House was built for romance, with views over the Puget Sound from every room through, count them, 45 windows! It feels like you're walking on water while you watch the sun set and the moon rise from the viewing deck outside, and the barefoot luxury of a private beach means you can enjoy solitude away from prying eyes. 

Wood burning fireplaces both indoors and out create a nice atmosphere for snuggling up while you look out over the gently lapping Sound, and take in the views of Admiralty Inlet, the Cascade Mountains, Whidbey Island, and Mount Baker. Follow the stairs down to the fabulous soft sand and driftwood beach, ideal for beachcombing and afternoon picnics.

A viewing platform at the water's edge is just the spot for star gazing and a cocktail. With more than 800 square feet of deck and 1.5 acres of wooded grounds, you and your amour will be able to find an outdoor space for just the two of you to enjoy.

This home has wide open availability over the next several months, including over Valentine's Day weekend.

Vrbo rating: 5

COVID-19 policy: The property notes it is actively following CDC cleaning/disinfecting guidelines.

Winter wonderland in Vail, $800 Book this winter wonderland starting at $800 per night on Turnkey

For ski bunnies looking to splurge, a luxurious winter wonderland awaits in Vail at this exclusive Lionshead Mountain condo. This is a bit of ice-covered paradise, reflected in the high price tag, and you'll be just steps away from the Eagle Bahn gondola, meaning you can hit the slopes before anyone else and be cozied up back in your luxe abode before any crowds gather on the snow. 

Apres ski in your lavish retreat where the double wall of windows showcases sweeping mountain views. In the open living area snuggle up on the plush sectional and watch a movie on the 70-inch television, or sip some mulled wine in front of the gas fireplace.

Although you'll have total privacy in your penthouse apartment, you can also enjoy resort-style amenities at Lionhead, including year-round access to an outdoor heated pool and three rooftop hot tubs, plus complimentary ski lockers, a fitness center, and even a fire pit for s'mores for two.

This home still has several dates available throughout February and March. It's wide open from April onward.

Turnkey rating: 5

COVID-19 policies: As part of Turnkey properties, all rentals include professional Guestwork cleaning system and keyless entry.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to cancel your WWE Network subscription and stop being charged

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:05pm
If you no longer want your WWE Network subscription, it's easy to cancel at any time.
  • You can cancel your WWE Network subscription from your account page on a web browser.
  • Once you cancel your WWE Network subscription, you'll be able to keep watching until your next billing date.
  • If you subscribed to WWE Network through a third-party service, like Apple or Roku, you'll need to cancel directly with them.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

With a subscription to the WWE Network, the official streaming service of the WWE, pro wrestling fans can watch live matches, documentaries, animated features, and more. But if you've decided the $9.99 per month price point isn't worth it, you can easily cancel your subscription.

If you signed up for your subscription through Roku, or through the mobile app, you'll have to cancel directly with them. But if you signed up for the Network through, you can cancel easily with your computer - here's how.

How to cancel a subscription to WWE Network on a computer

1. Using the web browser of your choice, navigate to WWE Network's website and log into your account.

2. If your browser is in full screen mode, navigate to the top-right corner where the profile icon is, and click "My Account." If your window is minimized, you might need to click the three bars icon in the top-left, then select "My Account."

The WWE homepage will be slightly different depending on if the window is maximized or minimized, so be sure to check the top-right or top-left for your My Account options.

3. You'll be taken to your "Account Summary." At the very bottom, click "Cancel," located under the words "Cancel Subscription."

Click the red "Cancel" link.

4. On the next screen, click "Continue to cancel."

To tempt you out of cancellation, WWE will remind you of a few upcoming events - click "Continue to cancel" if you're sure.

5. Click "Cancel" again to finalize your choice. You can also fill out the "Before You Go" survey if you like.

You can opt to choose a reason why you're cancelling on this screen, but it's not a requirement.

Your subscription should now be cancelled. You can continue to watch all your favorites on WWE Network until the billing cycle runs its course.

If you're tempted to undo your cancellation, you can click "Continue your subscription" on the cancellation confirmation screen, or on your Account Summary page.

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

Presidents' Day 2021 sales: The best early deals on everything from mattresses to TVs

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:05pm

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

A three-day weekend might be its best selling point, but Presidents' Day has more going for it than that - like a slew of online sales, for instance.

This year, Presidents' Day lands on February 15, a day after Valentine's Day. While we're still a few weeks away from the holiday, several retailers have already announced their sales, including Leesa and Purple.

Historically, Presidents' Day is one of the best times of year to buy a mattress, but shoppers can also expect big discounts on home goods, kitchen gear, and more. Not all of the deals are worth the hype, but worry not: We've highlighted the best sales going on right now, plus we've also answered frequently asked questions regarding the holiday.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyCurrent sales you can shop in the lead-up to Presidents' Day

It's very likely that Presidents' Day sales will trump the ones we're seeing now for mattresses and big home purchases (like appliances.) If it's not urgent, we recommend holding out until the big day - but if time is of the essence, here are some of the best sales you can shop right now. We'll update this list as more surface.

  • Amerisleep: Get 30% off any mattress through January 24.
  • Bear: Get up to 20% off plus 2 free Cloud Pillows.
  • Birch: Get $200 off your mattress purchase with 2 free Eco-Rest Pillows.
  • Casper: Get 15% off mattresses or 10% off pillows, sheets, and duvets through January 21.
  • Helix: Get $200 off and 2 free Dream Pillows.
  • Leesa: Get up $400 off mattresses with free organic sheets through January 19.
  • Nectar: Get a free mattress protector, sheet set, and premium pillows with any mattress purchase through January 17.
  • Purple: Get free sheets and a pillow with select mattress purchases.
  • Saatva: Get $200 off any purchase of $1,000.
  • Sleep Number: Save on mattresses with new deals added regularly.
  • Tempur-Pedic: Get $300 in free accessories with the purchase of a mattress and foundation when you use promo code 300FREE.
  • Tuft & Needle: Save up to $150 on a new mattress through January 25.
What is Presidents' Day?

Presidents' Day is a US holiday commemorating presidents of past and present. It takes place in February to lump together two major presidential birthdays: George Washington's, on February 22, and Abraham Lincoln's, on February 12. 

When is Presidents' Day 2021?

Presidents Day this year takes place on Monday, February 15, the day after Valentine's Day.

What sales can I expect during Presidents' Day?

Though you can probably expect to see sales from a handful of home goods, style, and beauty online retailers, mattresses are the hottest deal you can expect. Presidents' Day is usually among the best times to buy bedding and mattresses from both large retailers, like Sleep Number, Tempur-Pedic, and Amerisleep, and startups, like Casper, Leesa, and Tuft & Needle.

What should I buy on Presidents' Day?

Mattresses will be at some of their best prices of the year, making Presidents' Day a good time to buy. Popular startups like Casper and Leesa often see huge discounts during the holiday, with up to 30% off foam, spring, and hybrid mattresses. Kitchen appliances also tend to see some decent drops to commemorate the day. 

If you're looking to make a big furniture or appliance purchase for your home, waiting until February 15 may save you some money.

When do the Presidents' Day sales end?

More often than not, Presidents' Day sales last at least the full 3-day weekend. In some cases, the sales will last from the day of through the end of the following week, but it varies by retailer. 

How does Presidents' Day stack up against other major deal holidays?

In terms of mattresses and bedding, Presidents' Day is as good as, if not better than, shopping during the holiday season. However, when it comes to other categories like home goods, kitchen, and style, Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday will likely have better discounts - but those are months away from now. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon-backed Aurora just inked a major deal to put its self-driving software in semi trucks

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 5:00pm
Aurora and Paccar will work together to develop, test, and sell self-driving big rigs, the firms announced Tuesday.
  • Aurora and truck maker Paccar said Tuesday they have inked a deal to develop self-driving semi trucks. 
  • The Amazon-backed autonomous vehicle startup has long said its first product would be a truck. 
  • Aurora's rivals have also teamed up with truck makers recently as the driverless truck race heats up.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Autonomous vehicle startup Aurora on Tuesday announced a key partnership that brings it closer to its goal of deploying self-driving trucks. 

The Amazon-backed firm is teaming up with Paccar, a major truck manufacturer that builds light-, medium-, and heavy-duty trucks under well-known nameplates including Peterbilt and Kenworth.

Under the new agreement, the two companies will develop, test, and sell vehicles that marry Aurora's autonomous-driving tech with Paccar's vehicles, Aurora said. 

"We have entered into a strategic partnership with Paccar that combines their considerable expertise in heavy-duty truck development, manufacturing, and sales with our deep understanding of autonomous vehicle technology to bring a safe, efficient self-driving product to market quickly and deploy it broadly," Sterling Anderson, Aurora's co-founder,  said in a blog post

Read more: Meet 2021's rising stars of self-driving vehicles from companies like Waymo, Aurora, and Cruise

Aurora and Paccar engineers will jointly develop "driverless-capable" trucks based on the Peterbilt 579 and Kenworth T680, the startup said. The two firms will also work together to create "an expansive commercialization plan for the deployment of these trucks at scale over the next few years," Anderson said. 

Shares of Paccar rose more than 5% in late trading Tuesday after the deal was announced. 

Aurora has long said that its first commercial product will be in trucking, where it says the market is largest and the unit economics are most favorable. Automated driving is also easier to achieve on highways - as opposed to city streets - where trucks can travel for hours at a time in predictable traffic. 

But the company is hardly the only firm looking to carve out a slice of the future autonomous trucking market, nor is it alone in enlisting a manufacturing partner to help it do so. 

Alphabet's Waymo has tested its driverless, class-8 trucks in several states and announced plans last year to develop vehicles with Daimler, which has an autonomous big rig program of its own. TuSimple said in July that it is joining forces with US truck manufacturer Navistar, with production targeted to begin in 2024. 

News of the agreement comes weeks after Aurora announced it would acquire Uber's self-driving taxi business in December. That deal closed Tuesday. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

A Black scientist who approved the coronavirus vaccine says it is 'nothing like Tuskegee' and people of color will not be 'guinea pigs'

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 4:55pm
  • Black Americans are less likely to get the coronavirus vaccine than white people, but are more likely to get sick and die from COVID-19. 
  • Some are concerned about the speed of vaccine development. Dr. James E. K. Hildreth, a Black immunologist, explained how the process was safely expedited. 
  • He also said the coronavirus vaccine is "nothing like Tuskegee" in part because Black scientists like him have been involved every step of the way.  
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As the coronavirus vaccine is haphazardly distributed across the country, Black Americans are being left behind.

A Kaiser Health News analysis found that while Black Americans are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, in some states their vaccination rates are two to three times lower than their white neighbors.  

The gap is due in part to a long history of racial discrimination and mistreatment by the US healthcare system, which has contributed to mistrust in vaccines among people of color. In December, 35% of Black people said they probably or definitely wouldn't get the shot. 

Dr. James E. K. Hildreth, a Black immunologist who serves on the FDA committee that authorized both Pfizer and Moderna's shots for emergency use in the US, understands why. 

"How can we be confident that a vaccine that was developed so quickly is safe and effective?" he said people of color ask him, adding that they also "don't want to be the guinea pigs, they don't want to be experimented on as were the men in the Tuskegee experiment from many decades ago." 

He addressed those concerns during Monday's Choose Healthy Life Black Clergy Conclave, an online convening of more than 100 Black clergy, leading public-health officials, and corporate and scientific leaders who are working to boost COVID-19 testing and other resources in the Black community. 

The doctor said there are three key reasons that explain the vaccine's speed of development, and many more why the coronavirus vaccine is "nothing like Tuskegee." 

The vaccine was developed quickly due to technology, parallel processes, and existing infrastructure 

Past vaccines have taken years to develop. After decades of global research, an HIV vaccine is still elusive.

But coronavirus vaccines have been developed in just 10 months, which "will go down probably as one of the greatest scientific achievements of this century," Hildreth, who's also the president and CEO of Meharry Medical College, said. 

It was possible because "we have technologies available to us that just a few years ago were not even imaginable," he said. Plus, vaccines are typically developed iteratively, or with one step completed before the next begins. "In this case ... those [processes] have been running parallel," Hildreth said. 

Finally, the worldwide infrastructure already in place for HIV vaccine development - including scientists and facilities - pivoted to focus on COVID-19, eliminating the need to develop a new one from the ground up. 

The coronavirus vaccine is 'nothing like Tuskegee' 

During the infamous Tuskegee experiment, US scientists monitored about 400 Black men with syphilis but did not treat them for the disease or even tell them they had it. The study lasted about four decades, according to a timeline from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ending in 1972.

Hildreth said the horror of Tuskegee prompted major changes in human research. 

Today, institutional review boards approve research protocols before they can begin, data safety monitoring boards continuously watch data from ongoing trials to ensure they're safe, and advisory groups review the data before recommending vaccine approval. 

Black people have been involved in it all, Hildreth said. "We have been involved in every phase of development, we're sitting on all sides of the table, and that alone makes this very different from the Tuskegee experiment." 

He added that his university, a historically Black institution, is involved in vaccine trials and giving the vaccine to people in its community. "We would not risk our reputation as an institution if there was the least bit of concern that the vaccines were not safe." 

Last, 10% of participants in the vaccine trials were Black, and 30% to 50% had underlying conditions like diabetes, asthma, obesity, and high blood pressure that disproportionately affect people of color. In all those groups, the vaccines were more than 90% effective. 

"For all those reasons, I am convinced that this is a vaccine people of color must take," Hildreth said, "because otherwise, we're putting our lives and our communities at risk."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Police and soldiers bring lethal skills to anti-government militias

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 4:47pm
Members of the Oath Keepers and general public participate in a tactical training session in northern Idaho, October 1, 2016.
  • Thousands of police and troops, as well as retired police and military personnel, are part of an extremist effort to undermine the US government and subvert the democratic process.
  • That connection enhances these groups' ability to execute sophisticated and successful operations and helps them convey a patriotic image that obscures the security threat they present.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Thousands of police and soldiers - people professionally trained in the use of violence and familiar with military protocols - are part of an extremist effort to undermine the US government and subvert the democratic process.

According to an investigative report published in the Atlantic in November into a leaked database kept by the Oath Keepers - one of several far-right and white supremacist militias that stormed the US Capitol on January 6 - 10% of Oath Keepers are current police officers or military members. Another significant portion of the group's membership is retired military and law enforcement personnel.

The hate group - founded by a former Army paratrooper after Barack Obama's 2008 election - claimed "an improbable 30,000 members who were said to be mostly current and former military, law enforcement and emergency first responders" in 2016, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Three Percenters, another militia present at the Capitol on January 6, also draws a substantial portion of its members from law enforcement, both military and civilian. Larry Brock, a pro-Trump rioter arrested with zip-tie handcuffs, allegedly for taking hostages, is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who posted content from the Three Percenters online.

The militia movement is a militarized stream of the American far-right. Its members promote an ideology that undermines the authority and legitimacy of the federal government and stockpile weapons.

When militia members have a professional background with the military or police, it enhances the ability of these groups to execute sophisticated and successful operations. It also helps them convey a patriotic image that obscures the security threat they present.

Longstanding ties

The day before the Biden inauguration, by late afternoon, 12 National Guardsmen deployed to Washington, DC. had been removed from that duty after an investigation problems in their past; two had apparent ties to right-wing militias.

Far-right elements have always had some presence in US security forces.

Throughout the 20th century, many local police departments were heavily populated with Ku Klux Klan members. The connections between terror groups and law enforcement enabled discrimination and violence against African Americans, Jews and other minorities.

In 1923, all the Black residents of Blandford, Indiana were forced out of town to an unknown location following accusations that an African-American man assaulted a young girl. The unlawful "deportation" was conducted and organized by the local sheriff, a Klansman, with the assistance of local Klan chapters.

Many US military bases have also had cells of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups throughout the 20th century.

In 1995, three paratroopers from Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, were arrested and charged in the killing of a Black couple in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Two were sentenced to life in prison for the murders. The Army initiated an investigation at the base, which was known for being a hub of the National Alliance, then the country's most influential American neo-Nazi group.

The Army identified and discharged 19 paratroopers for participating in hate activities. One went on to kill six worshipers in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in August 2012. He died in a police shootout.

Growing convergence Members of the Oath Keepers far-right group patrol the streets of Ferguson, Missouri after unrest over the police shooting of Black teen Michael Brown in 2015.

Concerns about the penetration of far-right elements into the military and law enforcement have become acute in the last decade with the emergence of militias like the Oath Keepers, which was founded on the principle of recruiting police and military. Oath Keepers pledge to disobey orders on the job which they deem contradict the Constitution.

The militias' success secretly infiltrating police departments contributed to the emergence of new far-right associations that openly recruit law enforcement, like the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers of America.

Founded in 2011 by former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, the group promotes the notion - contrary to the Constitution - that the federal government authorities should be subordinated to local law enforcement. It has more than 500 sheriffs nationwide. Just over half are currently in office.

The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers of America has pushed its members not to enforce gun control laws and pandemic-related mask regulations that they believe infringe on civil liberties.

Skilled insurrectionists Members of the Oath Keepers and general public participate in a tactical training session in northern Idaho, October 1, 2016.

When members of far-right groups are also professionals sworn to protect the nation or their communities, it makes those groups seem more legitimate. Authorities may be less likely to treat them as domestic security threats, a categorization that would limit their access to firearms and sensitive locations.

Yet military and police members actually make American militias more effective, according to my research on the violent practices of the American far-right.

A data set I manage with my team at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and used for my recent book on right-wing terror shows that militia attacks are more lethal than those of other far-right groups. The perpetrators are experienced with weapons and ammunition, and have at least some military training.

Attacks by other far-right groups are, in large measure, initiated by people with limited operational experience, who act spontaneously.

Militias are also more likely to attack secured, high-value targets like government facilities. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, is a prime example. He was a Gulf War veteran associated with the Michigan Militia whose bomb killed 168 people at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995.

The penetration of far-right militants into the ranks of police and the military seems to be driving an increase in direct attacks on police and military targets.

Between 1990 and 2000, 13% of US of militia attacks and plots were aimed at military or police installations or personnel, our data set shows. The proportion jumped to 40% by 2017. And with their training in surveillance, intelligence collection and public safety, the dangerous activities of militias are generally harder for federal agencies to monitor and counter.

When militias recruit professionals, they are better at waging their radical crusade.

This story was updated to reflect developing news about security at Biden's inauguration.

Arie Perliger, Director of Security Studies and Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best pizza stones in 2021

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 4:45pm
  • Using a pizza stone is a simple way to get better pizza out of your home oven or grill. 
  • The Original Baking Steel is our top pick because it's durable, easy to clean, and produces exceptional home cooked pizza.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

If you've ever tried making pizza in your home oven without any special equipment, you've probably found the results markedly different than what you get from your favorite pizza joint. Home-cooked pizzas tend to emerge from the oven pale, doughy, and less flavorful (browning = flavor). That's because home ovens max out at around 550 degrees Fahrenheit, unlike commercial or wood-fired pizza ovens that can reach 900+ degrees. In order to achieve a pizza with a well-browned, flavorful crust and airy, chewy interior, you need to cook the pizza as hot and as fast as possible to mimic the intense heat of a traditional wood-fired oven.

That's where pizza stones come in. Pizza stones are rectangular or circular slabs of relatively thick stone or metal that absorb heat to cook pizza much faster than a pan or sheet tray. With practice and the right pizza stone, you can churn out pizzas that resemble the pies you get from your favorite slice shop. 

I'm no stranger to pizza stones after working in professional kitchens for many years, where we used these slabs for much more than just pizza. They're great for baking bread, especially oblong loaves like baguettes, and they can put a mean sear on steak or vegetables. For this guide, I focused primarily on pizza, using each stone to make multiple thin-crust pizzas in my oven. I also used each stone to bake bread in the oven, though I weighed this test less heavily. I had the tough job of evaluating the quality of the finished pizza through multiple taste tests and also based my recommendations on how easy the stones were to move, use, and clean.

To learn more about how to choose, use, and care for a pizza stone, I interviewed pizza expert and colleague Andrew Janjigian (@wordloaf), baking instructor and former resident bread expert at Cook's Illustrated Magazine. You can read more about our methodology, along with answers to FAQs, and pizza stone tips and tricks here.

Here are the best pizza stonesUpdated on 1/19/2021: We added to the FAQs at the end of this guide and are continuing to use and evaluate the durability of our picks. Our best overall pick, The Original Baking Steel, is currently pre-order only until March as the company works to respond to increased demand. We're currently testing pizza steels from NerdChef and Dough-Joe and will update this guide with our results soon.  The best pizza stone overall If you want to make the best, most bubbly, and well-browned pizza, The Original Baking Steel produces a crust like no other and is easy to move, clean, and use. 

Pros: Excellent thermal conductivity for superior pizza in your home oven, preheats faster than cordierite stones, easy to clean, practically indestructible, doesn't show wear like cordierite stones

Cons: Heavy to lift, gets too hot for baking bread or cooking on the grill

If you're buying a pizza stone, it's because you want to significantly up your game from the type of pizza you can get using a pizza pan, baking sheet, or skillet. The Original Baking Steel offers the biggest leap in pizza quality out of all the stones we tried. 

Unlike most traditional pizza stones, which are made from cordierite stone, the Baking Steel is (as the name suggests) made of steel, which transfers heat much faster. All materials have different thermal conductivity, meaning they hold and transfer heat differently. Some materials can behave much hotter than they actually are. That's why, for example, food cooks slower in a glass versus metal baking dish, or why it hurts to touch a hot oven rack, but only feels warm when you hold your hand in the oven air. When heated to 500 F, the Baking Steel behaves the same way as the surface of a traditional 900 F brick oven. 

The Baking Steel consistently made the most well-browned, bubbly pizzas, with great speckling across the bottom of the crust. This not only made for pizza with a better texture, but also a more robust flavor, since those browned bits offer much more flavor. "If you're really obsessed with pizza, get the Steel," said Janjigian, who primarily uses the Baking Steel when making pizza. 

However, Janjigian said that the properties that make the Baking Steel great for pizza make it a bad choice for bread, which needs slower, more consistent heat to bake properly. In testing, the Baking Steel burned the bottoms of my loaves. Steel also isn't a good choice for making pizza on the grill, where the temperatures exceed 700 F and the exceptional heat transfer from the steel becomes overkill. "All that heat in the grill is going directly into the steel, which in turn is going into the bottom of your pizza," Janjigian said. "By the time it's done on top it's going to be burnt on the bottom."

That said, the Baking Steel really shines for turning your home oven into a pizza-making machine. I could tell from the second the dough landed on the steel and started to hiss and sizzle that I was in for an excellent pie. The slick, seasoned surface cleaned up easier than other stones, and while this is a minor attribute, I liked that the dark color didn't show wear the way cordierite stones do. 

Practically speaking, the steel is a rectangular 14 inches by 16 inches, which makes it versatile for pizzas that are large or aren't perfectly round. Since it's made from steel it's also basically indestructible and thus much more durable than cordierite, which is prone to cracking and breaking. If you're really serious about pizza quality, the Baking Stone is absolutely the best all-around choice. 

The best pizza stone for bread This cordierite pizza stone bakes good pizza, but also produces excellent bread, making it a great choice for those looking to make a variety of recipes with their pizza stone. 

Pros: Makes decent pizza and excellent bread, cleans up easily, has feet for easy maneuvering 

Cons: Produces less browning, takes a long time to preheat, cordierite is prone to cracking and staining

Previously our best overall pick, the Solido 14x16 Cordierite Pizza Stone makes delicious pizza that is moist, springy, and chewy. However, it didn't produce quite the level of browning as the baking steel — the pizza was good, but still distinctly home-baked pizza not reminiscent of restaurant pizza. Still, the results are much better than what you'd get from a pan or baking sheet, and this stone excelled in one area where the Baking Steel couldn't: baking bread. 

Unlike steel, which gets hot fast and channels all that heat right into the pizza, cordierite stones like the Solido absorb and release heat slowly. They take about two hours to preheat in the oven and a very long time to cool down enough to handle after cooking. This slow heat is decent for pizza but exceptional for baking bread, which relies on consistent heat over a much longer bake time. The Solido stone is well-shaped to accommodate longer, oblong loaves like baguettes or rustic bread, and made loaves that were beautifully browned.

Design-wise, it's pretty basic: a 14-inch by 16-inch rectangular slab of cordierite, similar to most cordierite stones out there and a good shape and size for making both pizza and bread. However, the Solido stone has one small feature that gave it the edge over the other cordierite stone we tried: feet. The stone has raised grooves along the bottom that lift it off the oven rack and make it much easier to grab and move around. While this is a minor design feature, it distinguished the Solido stone from other very similar stones. 

Its rounded corners also fit better when I tried it on a charcoal grill. However, like all cordierite stones, it takes a long time to preheat, which makes it an inefficient option for grilling unless you want to waste a ton of propane or charcoal. 

This is a great stone if you loathe the idea of a unitasker — it made great oven pizza and excellent bread. It was also simple to clean, though it retained stains like all cordierite stones are prone to do. Cordierite is prone to cracking or breaking if not cared for properly, so we don't expect this stone is any different, though we didn't see any cracking during testing.

The best pizza stone for the grill This round cast-iron stone has handles for easy maneuvering and is perfectly sized and shaped for making pizza on both charcoal and gas grills. 

Pros: Good thermal conductivity for well-browned pizzas, cleans up easily, doesn't show stains, circular shape fits well on round grill, handles make moving easy

Cons: Difficult to slide a pizza onto its circular shape

While you can make pizza directly on your grill's grates (in fact, this is the method Janjigian recommends if you're interested in grilled pizza), a stone makes the process less daunting and potentially less messy. However, using a pizza stone on the grill requires some adjustments to standard pizza stone best practices. While the Baking Steel will heat up super quickly, it will also burn your pizza in minutes in the ultra-hot grill. By contrast, cordierite stones make underbaked pizzas on the grill unless you preheat the stone for an hour or so beforehand, using a lot of fuel. 

That's why the Lodge 15 Inch Seasoned Cast Iron Pizza Pan is really well-suited to cooking on the grill; it offers a happy medium between steel and cordierite in how quickly it heats up and how fast it transfers heat to your pizza. In testing, the Lodge pan was ready to go after about a half-hour of preheating on my gas grill, and it cooked a beautifully baked pie with good spotting on the top and excellent browning on the bottom. The built-in handles made it easy to transfer the stone in and out of the grill, and it cleans up easily with just a sponge and some water. Note that it's best to use soap sparingly when cleaning cast iron, so you don't strip the slick nonstick seasoning. 

Grilling was also the only situation where I found the circular stone to have an advantage over rectangular stones; you can read more about circular versus rectangular stones here. While the rectangular stones fit fine on my gas grill, some didn't fit at all on my small kettle charcoal grill. The round stone fit nicely in both the gas and charcoal grill and left plenty of room for air circulation.  

The stone isn't just for grilling though; it made excellent pizza in my oven, but I found its circular shape was less forgiving than rectangular stones. With a round stone, you have to aim perfectly. If I was off-center by just a bit when sliding the pizza off the peel, the dough hung off the edge and made a mess in my oven. This stone is a great option if you're a seasoned pizza pro or are dabbling in the world of grilled pizza, but most other users will get better benefits from one of our other rectangular picks. 

What else we recommend

Pizza stones are relatively simple pieces of equipment; usually just slabs of stone or metal with little difference between models. All of the products we tested made great pizza, and top choices came down to minor differences like size, shape, handles, and feet. Here are noteworthy models that didn't quite make our top picks, but are still good choices:

  • Honey-Can-Do 14x16 Cordierite Pizza Stone ($59.99): Previously sold as the Old Stone Oven pizza stone, this model has changed a bit now that it's sold by Honey-Can-Do. Reviewers report that the new stone doesn't have feet like the old stone, and that the corners are sharper. I tested the new stone and found it made great pizza on par with the Solido 14x16 Cordierite Pizza Stone in our lineup. However, it had no distinguishing features to earn it a space on our top picks. Furthermore, it seems as though there's still confusion among retailers about the old stone versus the new stone, with listings on Amazon and Walmart showing photos of the old stone, but sending buyers the new stone instead. These issues are made more frustrating by fluctuating stock and significant price mark-ups from third party retailers. We'll revisit whether this stone makes the top picks when the company clears up the confusion. 
Our testing methodology

In addition to interviewing Andrew Janjigian, a pizza expert, we put each pizza stone through a series of tests to judge how well they made pizza, and how easy they were to move, use, and clean. Here's how we tested and rated pizza stones:

Shape: I researched dozens of stones, but after conferring with Janjigian, focused on rectangular stones when I could because the shape is more versatile and easy to use.

How it made pizza: We preheated each stone in a 500-degree oven for two hours and then used it to make three thin-crust pizzas using a recipe from Serious Eats, a website known for its science-based, well-tested recipes over the course of several weeks, adjusting cook time, oven temperature, and stone position in between pizzas in pursuit of the best results. A good pizza should have a well-browned, bubbly crust that is crisp on the outside and moist and chewy on the inside; cheese should be fully melted in the time it takes to cook the crust. My husband and I both sampled each finished pizza for flavor and texture. I only tested the cast-iron pan on a charcoal grill because its size, shape, and material were best suited for that use.

How it made bread: Many people bake bread with their pizza stones, so I used each to make an easy recipe for crusty white bread from King Arthur, a respected flour company where Janjigian teaches baking classes. I looked for loaves that were well-baked inside and browned (but not burnt) on the bottom. 

Ease of Use: I frequently moved the stones in and out of the oven using oven mitts, and with my bare hands when the stones had cooled down, noting how easy and comfortable they were to move. After each use, I cleaned the stone according to manufacturer instructions, evaluating how easily they cleaned up and noting their appearance after use and cleaning. 

Durability: I didn't intentionally drop any stones during testing, as I know that cordierite in particular is prone to cracking and breaking, having broken a few of these stones in the past. Instead, I consulted with an expert and did my own research about the durability of different materials.  

What we look forward to testing

We plan to continually test new pizza stones and add them to this guide. Here are some products on our radar: 

  • Nerd Chef Steel Stone, Standard ($119.99): Slightly less expensive than our top pick, the Original Baking Steel, this steel pizza stone is also made of conductive steel. The shape and thickness are similar to our top pick, but the Nerd Chef model has two finger-sized holes for moving and storing the steel. 
  • Dough-Joe Samurai Pizza Steel ($65.21): Another Baking Steel copycat, this model was reviewed by one of our reporters, who found it identical in performance to the Baking Steel. I look forward to putting it through all the tests for this guide and reporting back my findings. 
  • Love This Kitchen Ultimate 16-inch Round Pizza Stone ($44.99): Previously our top pick for best circular stone, this model was out of stock at the time of testing for this guide. While I think rectangular stones are more versatile and easy to use than circular stones, I was intrigued that this circular stone offers a "no-spill stopper" — a little raised lip at the back of the stone that's meant to stop the pizza from sliding over the edge (a common complaint in circular stones). Now that it appears back in stock at Amazon, I look forward to seeing how this model compares to the top picks in our guide.
  • Bialetti Taste of Italy Baking Stone Tile Set ($27.99): This set comes with four 7.5 inch tiles that you can either use individually or put together to make one large stone. The smaller and customizable shape might be a good option for those with smaller home ovens that can't fit a large 14 inch by 16-inch pizza stone.
What to look for in a pizza stone

Here are some considerations to think about when looking for a pizza stone: 

Shape: One might think that since pizza is round, a pizza stone should be too. But we actually think you'll get much better pizza out of a rectangular stone. "With a round stone, if you miss that target by a little, [the pizza] is going to hang off the edge," said Janjigian. "You don't have to aim perfectly with a rectangular stone." Rectangular stones are often larger, so they also hold more heat, which can make a pizza with better browning. Finally, rectangular stones are more versatile. "I want the real estate for things that aren't perfectly round," said Janjigian, who also uses a pizza stone to bake bread. The only time we see a round stone having an advantage is for grilling since larger rectangular stones sometimes don't fit, especially on circular grills. For almost all uses, rectangular is the way to go. 

Size: "I want my stone to be as big as my oven rack, minus some space for airflow," says Janjigian. A larger stone not only holds more heat but provides plenty of real estate for larger pies and long baked goods like baguettes. We found a stone that is about 16 inches by 14 inches to be the ideal size for most home ovens. If you're looking for a cordierite stone, thicker is also better, says Janjigian, because thicker stones are less prone to cracking. Our favorite cordierite stone measures ¾ inch thick, and we found this size to be a good compromise between durability and maneuverability. 

Weight: While lighter stones may be easier to transport in and out of the oven, Janjigian says that heavier stones will produce better pizza. "The lighter it is, the less mass it has, and the less it can heat the pie," he says. A heavier stone will hold a lot of heat, and make a well-browned pizza. Pizza stones usually weigh about nine pounds, but most of our top picks are 13 to 16 pounds because they're thicker or made with heavier material like steel or cast iron.

Material: We looked at stones made from steel, cordierite (a heat-resistant mineral), and cast iron, all of which have different thermal properties, and thus, different uses. Of these, steel absorbs and transfers heat the fastest, which makes it ideal for pizza in the home oven. If you're serious about good home pizza, we recommend opting for a pizza steel. Cordierite stones make decent pizza but have less thermal mass than steel, so the crust tends to be paler and less developed. However, cordierite is a great choice if you plan on using your stone to bake bread since other materials tend to burn loaves. If you hate the idea of a unitasker and have a robust baking repertoire, a cordierite stone will absolutely do the trick. Finally, cast iron offers a happy medium between steel and cordierite in terms of heat conductivity. However, we have yet to find a rectangular cast iron stone, only circular pans, which are trickier to use. We think circular cast iron pizza stones are a good option if you're interested in grilled pizza, especially if you have a round grill. 

Price: Pizza stones are basically just slabs of material so be wary of any stone priced significantly more or less than competitors made from the same material. Expect to pay about $40 to $60 for a cordierite or cast iron stone and $70 to $90 for a steel one. You won't get a significant increase in performance from something priced higher. 

FAQs Why do I need a pizza stone?

A pizza stone can help you make restaurant-quality pizza at home. Many pizza joints use commercial or wood-fired ovens that can reach 900+ F, creating the well-browned crust you expect from a restaurant pie. Home ovens don't get that hot, so pizza made in a pan or sheet tray usually comes out doughy and pale. A pizza stone recreates some of the restaurant experience by providing a super hot surface to cook the pizza, resulting in better browning and bubbling.

Can I use a pizza stone in a countertop oven or toaster oven?

The stones we tested are too big for most toaster ovens, and most toaster ovens don't reach the temperatures needed to churn out good pizza (many max out at 450 F). Some circular stones may fit in large countertop smart ovens like the June Oven

Do I need to preheat my pizza stone?

Absolutely. You'll only get the benefits of using a pizza stone or steel if you preheat it. You should preheat most stones and steels for one to two hours, enough time for the stone to get as hot as the air around it. If you don't, the results won't be much different than what you get from using a pizza pan or baking sheet. 

Why does my stone look discolored or dirty, even after cleaning it?

The discoloration is totally normal and, while your pizza stone will never look as pristine as the day you bought it, those stains and smudges can actually help make your pizza stone more nonstick over time. Materials like cast iron and carbon steel become more "seasoned" with use, as oils bond to the surface and form a natural protective coating. It's important to clean all types of pizza stones gently and without soap when you can; cordierite is very porous and that soapy flavor can soak into the stone and impact the flavor of your pizza. Steel and cast iron should similarly be cleaned lightly so as not to disturb the built-up seasoning. Use a metal or plastic spatula to scrape big chunks of debris off of the stone when you're done cooking, and wipe the surface lightly with water and a soft sponge. Any leftover stickiness or stuck-on bits will likely burn off the next time you preheat the stone. Those leftover marks might be unsightly, but they won't impact performance. 

Can I cook frozen pizza on my pizza stone?

Thermal shock from placing frozen items on a hot stone can cause your stone to crack. Most frozen pizzas are parbaked at the factory and heating them simply involves warming the crust and melting the cheese. You likely won't see a marked difference if you're using a stone to cook a frozen pizza. If you do want to try, thaw your frozen pizza before placing it on the stone.

Why did my stone crack?

Cast iron and steel stones should never crack, as both are extremely durable materials. Almost all cracking occurs with cordierite stones. Despite being "stone," cordierite pizza stones are relatively delicate. A common cause of cracking is thermal shock, which is when the stone is rapidly exposed to a drastically different temperature. You should never put a room temperature stone in a hot oven; always put the stone in a cold oven and allow it to preheat. Similarly, avoid putting frozen food onto a blazing hot stone (yes, that includes frozen pizza) and let the stone cool completely in the oven before removing or washing it.

Stones can also crack from too much moisture. Cordierite stones are very porous; they'll absorb moisture from the food cooking and from washing. If you don't give your stone time to dry after washing it, the water can remain in the stone and cause a build-up of steam the next time you heat the stone, resulting in a crack. Finally, stones can crack from even minor drops (this is how I broke my first stone); treat your stone as gently as you would a piece of pottery when handling or moving it.

Pizza stone tips and tricks

Making great pizza at home takes practice. Here are some tips and tricks I've learned over seven years of working in professional kitchens for getting the most out of your pizza stone.

Crank up the heat: Heat is your friend when cooking pizza. Some pizza aficionados have been known to toggle with broiler settings and even try to hack their oven's self-clean cycles in pursuit of perfect home pizza. While we don't think you need to go that far, we recommend cranking the heat in your oven up to 500 F if you're using a steel or 550 F if you're using a cordierite stone. 

Preheat your stone in the oven: Put your stone in the cold oven and preheat both stone and oven together for one to two hours. This step is essential for achieving a well-browned pizza.

Use a pizza peel: A peel is a tool to shuttle your pizza on and off the blazing hot stone. After years of using makeshift peels, including the back of a skillet and an overturned sheet pan, I finally took the plunge and purchased a pizza peel. It makes the process significantly easier and less daunting. I build my pizza right on the peel for an easy transition from the counter to the oven.

Rotate the pizza: Give the pizza a turn once through baking with the help of your peel or a good set of kitchen tongs. The back of the oven tends to be hotter than the front, so rotating your pizza once during cooking can help prevent burning.

Tweak and refine: It takes practice to make great pizza at home. Don't be discouraged if your first pizza ends up burnt or too doughy inside. Try different recipes and tinker with cooking times and temperatures until you find what works for your oven. 

Turbocharge your pizza making: If you're really wild about homemade pizza, Janjigian says you can buy both a stone and steel and put them together to "supercharge" your pizza making. "If you put the steel on top of the stone, the stone acts like a battery to continually pump heat into the steel," he says. This tip is primarily for those super-invested in making pizza at home, but the steel-on-stone method can be great for churning out pie after pie, or getting the char and bubbling on the crust you normally only really get from wood-fired ovens. 

Let your stone cool: After you take out your pizza, let your stone stay in the oven until both are completely cooled to avoid any potential cracking. This can take several hours, but it's important for maintaining the durability of your stone.

Use soap and water sparingly: Use a spatula and a dry cloth to scrape any burnt bits off the pizza stone; this should be enough for most messes. With all materials, be reserved with soap, which can strip the seasoning off of steel and cast iron and impart a bad flavor onto pizza made with porous cordierite stones. If you use water to clean a cordierite stone, let it dry for at least 48 hours before you use it again.

Check out our other pizza-making buying guides The best pizza peelsThe best pizza-making toolsThe best pizza cutters Read the original article on Business Insider

How to return items from Poshmark using the website or app and get a full refund

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 4:43pm
There are two easy ways to return items from Poshmark.
  • You can return items from Poshmark, but only if the item you ordered never arrives, or doesn't match the product description.
  • This means that you can't ask for a refund if the item doesn't fit, if it arrives late, or if you just don't want it anymore.
  • To initiate a return and refund, file a claim on the Poshmark website or the app.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

Poshmark is an online marketplace where users can sell secondhand clothing, home decor, and other items. 

It's important to pay close attention to a listing before buying from Poshmark, as all sales are final. Poshmark recommends carefully reviewing the photos, description, and item condition before making a purchase. You can also reach out to the seller for additional details, measurements, or photos if needed.

But if you never receive your product, or it's completely different from what the listing described, you can return the item, and hopefully receive a refund.

Read on for more information about Poshmark's return policy, and how to initiate a return on Poshmark online or through the mobile app.

How to return items on the Poshmark website

1. Go to the Poshmark website, and log into your account.

2. Click on your profile picture to reveal the dropdown menu.

3. Click "My purchases." 

4. Click the order for the item(s) you wish to return.

5. Click "Problems/Order Inquiry."

6. Select "Order Not as Described" from the dropdown menu.

7. Upload images that showcase why you're returning the item. Write a description about the return.

8. Click "Submit."

How to return items on the Poshmark app

1. Open the Poshmark app for Android or iOS.

2. Navigate to the account tab.

3. Tap "My Purchases."

4. Tap the order for the item(s) you wish to return.

5. Tap "Problems/Order Inquiry," then "Order Not as Described."

6. Select a reason that best matches your reason for the return.

7. Upload images that showcase why you're returning the item. Write a description about the return.

8. Tap "Submit."

What to know before attempting to make a return

Poshmark notes that a buyer can initiate a return if they don't receive their item, or if the item they received doesn't match the description on Poshmark.

Poshmark won't let you return any order - you need to have received the wrong item.

"Not matching the description" can include receiving the wrong item, a damaged item, a fake item when you ordered from an authentic source, and more. If you feel that you didn't receive what you ordered, you have three days from the day you receive the item to report the problem to Poshmark. 

Poshmark doesn't offer returns for fit issues or late deliveries. They also won't refund an item that you just don't want anymore.

If Poshmark verifies your return claim, they'll send you a shipping label you can use to return the item to the seller, and refund your money. Returns must be shipped back to the seller within five days in order to be eligible for a refund.

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

17 pairs of workout leggings we swear by for every activity from yoga to distance running

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 4:39pm

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

  • Of the seemingly endless number of workout legging options out there, there are 17 pairs that rise above the rest for the Insider Reviews team. 
  • We've found from experience that these leggings, which range from affordable $30 pairs to splurge-worthy $100+ pairs, are great for running, yoga, HIIT, weight training, and other physical activities.
  • Below, we break down our picks and explain what kinds of workouts each one is best for.

While the women of Insider Reviews all have different fitness regimens and workout routines, the one thing we can agree on is that a good pair of leggings is indispensable. 

Whether we're sprinting towards a finish line, lifting heavy things, or finding our centers, we need leggings that let our bodies move the way they need to, don't cause our legs to overheat, and can be worn over and over again for countless workouts. 

We found those leggings with the 17 pairs below, which include styles from cult-favorite brands like Girlfriend Collective and Alo Yoga, fitness world standbys like Under Armour and Lululemon, and affordable favorites like Old Navy. We tell you what types of activities (running, yoga, HIIT, etc.) they're best for, and why you should buy them. 

These are our 17 all-time favorite pairs of leggings. Alo Yoga 7/8 High-Waist Airlift Legging, $114, available in 11 colors at Alo Yoga

Best for: Yoga, weight training, static workouts

Why you should buy them: These leggings feel like a second skin, but one that's so stretchy you could bend into a pretzel and you wouldn't feel any pulling, digging, or resistance. Every time they come out of the wash, they're the first pair I put on for a workout.

They're best for anything that involves bending or stretching a lot (they were designed for doing yoga) but I've worn them running plenty of times and I honestly love them for any type of workout. —Sally Kaplan, Insider Reviews senior editor

Outdoor Voices TechSweat 7/8 Two-Tone Leggings, $78, available at Outdoor Voices

Best for: HIIT workouts, running 

Why you should buy them: The first thing I noticed slipping these on was how soft, stretchy, and lightweight they are. I'm always a little hesitant about such lightweight leggings as many lack support, but these are equal parts supportive and breathable — a winning combination for sweaty workouts.

The high waistband keeps everything secure while you run, stretch, or bend, but it doesn't dig into your stomach like other high-waisted pants have a tendency to do. The two-toned blue color is really pretty, but also super flattering and although these are lighter colors, I haven't had any issues with sweat marks. —Remi Rosmarin, former Insider Reviews reporter 

Patagonia Centered Crops, $69, available in seven colors at Patagonia

Best for: Running, classes at the gym, lounging

Why you should buy them: The hallmarks of Patagonia construction are all also present in the design of the Centered Crops. No joke, I think I've worn these leggings every day for the last two weeks. They're so comfy for just lounging around! But they're also great for working out since they're made of a thickish polyester/spandex knit fabric that offers plenty of stretch, wicks moisture, and resists odor. I usually rewear my workout clothes a few times before washing them (in an effort to conserve water where I can), and in these leggings make for less smelly gym sessions. —Ellen Hoffman, Insider Reviews Executive Editor

Zella Zella Live In High Waist Leggings, $59, available in four colors at Nordstrom

Best for: Yoga, gym, active day

Why you should buy them: My mom was the one who introduced me to Zella leggings and I knew they would become one of my favorite pairs from the moment I tried them on. The leggings are fitted and have a decent amount of support, so they are best suited for activity versus lounging.

I like that they are tight enough to stay in one place throughout the day, but don't squeeze my waist or leave those pesky seam indents in my skin. The leggings come in tons of styles and colors, but I enjoy the plain black high-waisted pair. —Megan Foster, former Insider Reviews intern

Girlfriend Collective High-waist Leggings, $68, available in 10 colors at Girlfriend Collective and for $68 at Nordstrom

Best for: Anything, particularly HIIT and hot yoga

Why you should buy them: Girlfriend Collective makes my favorite athleisure leggings by a mile, but their LITE pair is one of my all-time favorites for relatively inexpensive, barely-there HIIT leggings. They're lightweight (the sort that means you should pack seamless underwear if you don't want panty lines), quick-drying, and made from recycled fishing nets.

These are the leggings I'd take to a hot yoga class. My favorite thing about them is that they feel porous — like they're breathing, too — instead of laying on top of the skin, trapping moisture and heat. Plus, they come in five great colors, have a high high-rise, and look pretty great on. Find a full review here. —Mara Leighton, Insider Reviews senior reporter

Skins Skins Dnamic Thermal Windproof Long Tights, from $101.25, available at Amazon

Best for: Outdoor running

Why you should buy them: Motivating yourself to go on a run can be a challenge, but adding cold weather to that is another obstacle in itself. These leggings make winter runs outside much more bearable.

A cool feature is the gradient compression — the highest compression is applied at the calf and it gradually decreases as you move up the leg. Ultimately, this will help support your legs through long runs and speed up recovery time. The best part is the soft, fleece-like interior that keeps you cozy on cold days, but is still thin enough to make sure you don't overheat when you start breaking a sweat. —Remi Rosmarin, former Insider Reviews reporter

Saucony Bullet Crop, $54.99 (originally $75), available in two colors at Saucony

Best for: Year-round running

Why you should buy them: These Saucony leggings are aptly named the Bullet Crop, which makes me feel like I'm running a lot faster than my FitBit would indicate. The cropped length also makes my legs look miles longer than my actual run, and the compression fit keeps everything feeling tight and supported. —Jada Wong, Insider Reviews senior editor

Spanx Active Printed Leggings, $76.99, available at Spanx

Best for: Running, cycling

Why you should buy them: Spanx makes my all-time favorite pairs of tights, so I had high hopes for its leggings. And my faith was not misplaced ... the Active Printed Leggings are amazing.

They're breathable, supportive but not suffocating, and surprisingly comfortable, offering more stretch than similar compressive leggings I've tried that makes them much easier to get into and out of. I'm not sure what witchcraft went into the design, but they also manage to create a smooth-all-over look I love. —Ellen Hoffman, Insider Reviews Executive Editor

Lululemon Wunder Under Crop, $88, available in four colors at Lululemon

Best for: Yoga, HIIT, weight training 

Why you should buy them: If I could only wear one pair of leggings for the rest of my life, it would probably be these. They're versatile enough for workouts and leisure wear and are made of some of the softest fabric I've ever exercised in.

They're constructed with Luxtreme, Lululemon's signature fabric, which wicks sweat, is super stretchy, and is engineered not to shrink. These truly feel like a second skin, hugging your shape and making it easy to move. I was hesitant to spend almost $90 on a seemingly regular pair of leggings, but I've had these for almost three years and they've held up their shape, softness, and color. Plus, they make my workouts easier by making me feel comfortable, so I think they're a good investment. —Remi Rosmarin, former Insider Reviews reporter

Lululemon Wunder Under High-Rise Tight, $98, available in seven colors at Lululemon

Best for: Yoga, athleisure

Why you should buy them:

Similar to what Remi said, this pair of Wunder Under leggings would be my one and only pair until the end of time. I have the full-length version and I wear them nearly every day. The Luxtreme material is extremely comfortable and it's still in great condition despite the constant wear. 

I love that I can throw them in the dryer and they don't shrink, but my favorite feature is the high-rise waistband that doesn't roll down. They're ideal for yoga and running around on the weekends. I prefer something a bit more compressive for jogging, but otherwise, these leggings are my go-to. —Ashley Phillips, style and beauty editor

Alala Captain Ankle Tight, $110, available at Alala and Shopbop

Best for: Running, HIIT, weight training 

Why you should buy them: As I rotate through different workout leggings during the week, Alala's tights are always the ones I look most forward to wearing. They're stretchy, soft, and not overly compressive, with breathable mesh panels at the spots that get surprisingly sweaty, and two pockets (one in front and a zippered one in back) to stash my keys or ID. The waistband doesn't dig into my skin or roll down, so I have no distractions as I run or attend a class.

The fabric dries fairly quickly, too. Even if I've just sweated up a storm, they look and feel like they haven't been touched in the less than 10 minutes it takes to walk from my gym to my subway station. —Connie Chen, Insider Reviews senior reporter

Eleven by Venus Williams Eleven by Venus Williams Smooth Legging, $26.23, available at Nordstrom Rack

Best for: Year-round running

Why you should buy them: This pair has the highest rise ever — I swear it goes right up to underneath my rib cage, which I love because it just kind of keeps everything tight and supported. The seamless knit feels like a second skin and doesn't require any awkward adjusting or maneuvering midway through my runs, and the compression fabric is supportive yet breathable. The dark gray side panel also makes this pair feel slightly more special than boring gray leggings, but isn't super loud.

It's worth mentioning, though, that I'm 5-foot-4, and the leggings are really long on me. I have to fold up the bottoms a few times so there's no bunching around my ankles. —Jada Wong, Insider Reviews senior editor

2XU 2XU MCS Run Compression Tights, $119.95, available in one color at Amazon

Best for: Running

Why you should buy them: The gist of these leggings is that 2XU made them specifically for the impact that running has on the leg. Internally, they have selective, anatomically mapped compression to bring more blood to key areas like quads and calves so you can perform better and recover faster without losing any upfront mobility as with all-over compression.

While that's a big perk, I love them equally as much because they feel like a thin second skin. I overheat easily during cardio, and these are the leggings I'd wear all the time if I could afford to. There have been complaints in the past that this pair is see-through (which 2XU responded to by adding denser paneling to the back) but I've never had an issue. Find a full review here. —Mara Leighton, Insider Reviews senior reporter

Beyond Yoga Beyond Yoga Midi High Waist Leggings, $97, available in seven colors at Nordstrom 

Best for: Yoga, athleisure

Why you should buy them: These are straight up the most comfy leggings you'll ever encounter. Remember those soft jersey sheets you probably had in high school or college? These have a similar feel, but with a little more heft so they're not see-through whatsoever. They're honestly so soft, snuggly, and stretchy that you'll want to spend your whole weekend curled up in them, but they hold up to actual yoga workouts exceptionally well, too, thanks to a high-rise waist that never digs in or pulls when you're bending and twisting every which way.

I will say that if you wear them casually a lot, they will pill in the thigh area from chafing, but if you reserve them for actual workouts exclusively, they should hold up for years. —Sally Kaplan, Insider Reviews senior editor

Skechers Skechers Go Flex High Waisted Leggings, $30.50, available in four colors at Zappos

Best for: Yoga, gym, active day, lounging

Why you should buy them: Turns out Skechers makes more than just shoes. I am a huge fan of the brand's Go Flex High Waisted Leggings. They look like any other pair of black leggings, but they come with pockets, lounge-worthy comfort, and a breathable material.

The versatility is also a huge draw — they work well for a morning at the gym, a trip to the grocery store, and an evening watching my favorite shows. Though they are super soft and don't restrict my movements, they still fit my body all day long without stretching out. Plus, they're pretty cheap. —Megan Foster, former Insider Reviews intern

Under Armour Under Armour Heat Gear Capris, $26.99, available in three colors at Under Armour and from $23.79 Amazon

Best for: Year-round running, yoga, pilates, barre

Why you should buy them: I have several pairs of capris from UA's Heat Gear line — that's how much I love the fabric and fit. They're all slightly different from each other style-wise (and I'm partial to the ones that have side pockets), but the fast-drying, super-stretchy Heat Gear fabric is just so comfortable and lightweight that I can wear it all year round without overheating. I also like the capri length because it makes my silhouette look sleeker and I don't need to fold the legs. —Jada Wong, Insider Reviews senior editor

Old Navy Mid-Rise Elevate Compression Leggings for Women, $22, available at Old Navy

Best for: Running, classes at the gym, outdoor activities, athleisure wear

Why you should buy them: Not only are these compression workout bottoms inexpensive, but they also do the job just as well as any other expensive brand. They're breathable, provide a sculpting shape, and are made of Go-Dry technology to wick away sweat. Plus, they're incredibly durable, having lasted me a couple of years after washing them once a week. —Francesca Rea, Insider Reviews senior content producer

If you're updating your workout wardrobe, check out these other guides and reviews: Read the original article on Business Insider

20-year-old US Army soldier charged with providing kill targets for ISIS, plotting ways to attack the 9/11 Memorial in New York

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 4:39pm
An ISIS fighter waves a flag while standing on captured government fighter jet in Raqqa, Syria, 2015.
  • A 20-year-old US Army soldier was arrested on federal terrorism charges and is accused of trying to help ISIS kill other service members in the Middle East, according to the Justice Department.
  • Private First Class Cole Bridges is accused of helping plan targets like the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, and giving "advice about the best way to fortify an ISIS encampment to repel an attack by US Special Forces."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A 20-year-old US Army soldier was arrested on federal terrorism charges and is accused of trying to help ISIS to kill other service members in the Middle East, according to the Justice Department.

Private First Class Cole Bridges "betrayed the oath he swore to defend the United States by attempting to provide ISIS with tactical military advice to ambush and kill his fellow service members," US Attorney Audrey Strauss of the Southern District of New York said in a press release.

"Our troops risk their lives for our country, but they should never face such peril at the hands of one of their own," Strauss added.

Bridges is alleged to have plotted online with an FBI employee disguised as an ISIS sympathizer around October 2020. He enlisted in the Army as a cavalry scout and was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division out of Georgia in September 2019.

It was during that time that Bridges "began researching and consuming online propaganda promoting jihadists and their violent ideology" and became vocal about the movement on social media, the Justice Department said. Bridges, who "expressed his frustration with the US military and his desire to aid ISIS," then transitioned to provide military training for what he believed to be ISIS.

Bridges' guidance allegedly included planning targets like the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, and giving "advice about the best way to fortify an ISIS encampment to repel an attack by US Special Forces." Bridges is also accused of providing the FBI informant with sections of military training manuals.

In January, Bridges submitted to the informant a video of himself wearing body armor in front of the ISIS flag. Around a week later, he submitted another video with his manipulated voice narrating an ISIS propaganda speech, the Justice Department alleged.

"Bridges could have chosen a life of honorable service, but instead he traded it for the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence," FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney Jr. said.

Each of the charges - trying to provide material aid to ISIS and to kill US service members - carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Bridges is expected to face the charges in the Southern District of Georgia on Thursday.

The 3rd Infantry Division, who assisted in the joint FBI and US Army Counterintelligence investigation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden cries during farewell address from Delaware ahead of inauguration, says 'we should be introducing' his late son Beau as president instead

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 4:29pm
President-elect Joe Biden.
  • President-elect Biden was overcome with emotion Tuesday during his farewell address from Delaware.
  • Biden paid tribute to his late son, Beau, who died from brain cancer in 2015.
  • "I only have one regret, that he's not here," Biden said. "Because we should be introducing him as president."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Before he headed down to the nation's capital ahead of his inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden bid farewell to his home state of Delaware in an emotional speech on Tuesday.

Biden spoke from the Major Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center in New Castle, Delaware, quoting James Joyce to illustrate his love for the state.

In the middle of quoting the Irish writer, Biden choked up.

—Zach Purser Brown (@zachjourno) January 19, 2021

"Excuse the emotion, but when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart," Biden said, invoking Joyce's famous quote on Dublin being written on his heart.

Biden also honored his late son, Beau.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I only have one regret, that he isn't here. Because we should be introducing him as president," Biden said.

Beau suffered from brain cancer and died at 46 in 2015.

Biden has said his son's death was a major motivating factor in his decision to run for president.

"But we have great opportunities," Biden said as he composed himself after mentioning Beau. "Delaware has taught us anything is possible in this country."

Read the original article on Business Insider

10 free or affordable online courses that teach you how to be happier, taught by schools like Yale, UPenn, and Berkeley

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 4:19pm

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

Positive psychology, or the study of meaning, fulfillment, and happiness, is a unifying topic for humans at any point in the year. 

But while the world is at a standstill and millions of individuals have retreated into a separate but shared isolation, the pursuit of life satisfaction has become even a greater point of interest. For instance, an article I wrote last year about Laurie Santos' free course on The Science of Well-Being has, in the matter of a few weeks, been viewed millions of times and, according to YaleNews, seen about 600,000 new students. 

Below, you can find the course and similar, affordable options that will teach you how to be happier, find a greater sense of purpose, and be more resilient in your day-to-day life.

Many of them come from top schools like Yale, Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania, and are designed to turn abstract concepts into actions you can take every day. Plus, since the field is relatively young, it's taught by some of its leading minds. Martin Seligman, who is "often regarded as the godfather of positive psychology" per Psychology Today, is an instructor of one of the courses. Laurie Santos, the professor who designed Yale's most popular course ever and The Science of Well-Being for online learning platform Coursera, has coined and conceptualized some of the most contemporary research in the field.

Most of the courses are free to audit, which typically means you'll have access to course materials but won't get your work graded or a certificate of completion. If you'd rather pay for the certificate or the full experience, prices range from $15 to $200, depending on the course and learning platform.

10 affordable online classes that teach you how to be happier: The Science of Well-Being Available on Coursera, free to audit

Professor Laurie Santos designed the course Psychology and the Good Life in response to concerning levels of student depression, anxiety, and stress in 2018. It became Yale's most popular class ever.

Santos turned it into an online course, The Science of Well-Being, in order to share the subject with a wider audience. In it, Santos utilizes positive psychology and the real-life applications of behavioral science. The course debunks myths about what makes people happy and offers a series of challenges that are designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive daily habits. 

The Science of Happiness Available on edX, free to audit

The Science of Happiness was reportedly the first massive open online course (known as a MOOC) to teach positive psychology.

Created by UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, the class emphasizes the notion in positive psychology that happiness is linked to strong social connections and contributing to the greater good. Students will consider cross-disciplinary research supporting this view — from psychology and neuroscience to evolutionary biology and more. It will also include practical strategies and activities for boosting their own well-being.

The Foundations of Happiness at Work Available on edX, free to audit

This course focuses on the personal, social, and professional advantages of happiness at work. Faculty from UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center (Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., and Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Ph.D.) take the fundamentals from their popular The Science of Happiness edX class and tailor them to the modern workforce. 

Students will learn practical, research-backed strategies to boost happiness at work, how to identify barriers and pitfalls, and how to evaluate levels of happiness within an organization.

Foundations of Positive Psychology Specialization Available on Coursera, included in 7-day free trial, $79 per month after trial

This is a specialization with five courses that introduce students to the foundations of positive psychology and key theories.

The courses include:

  • Martin E.P. Seligman's Visionary Science
  • Applications and Interventions with Dr. James Pawelski
  • Character, Grit and Research Methods with Dr. Angela Duckworth and Dr. Claire Robertson-Kraft
  • Resilience Skills with Dr. Karen Reivich
  • Positive Psychology Specialization Project
Positive Psychology Specialization Project: Design Your Life for Well-Being Available on Coursera, included in 7-day free trial, $79 per month after trial

This is a follow-up course to the first four in the "Foundations of Positive Psychology Specialization," that's led by Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman. It's encouraged that you take the foundations course (the previous slide) first so you can build on its principles in this one.

In this specialization project, students will apply the key concepts learned in the first four courses, identify opportunities to apply them in their daily life, and evaluate the efficacy of your actions based on subjective and objective measures. 

Positive Psychology: Resilience Skills Available on Coursera, included in 7-day free trial, $79 per month after trial

Led by Dr. Karen Reivich, this positive psychology course revolves around resilience skills in your personal and professional life, incorporating foundational research in mental agility and optimism. The course also covers different kinds of resilience interventions, like cognitive strategies to manage anxiety and increase positive emotions like gratitude. Students will also hear examples of individuals using resilience skills in their own lives.

The course has a few suggested prerequisites which you can find here.

Positive Psychology Available on Coursera, free to audit

This course discusses key research findings in the positive psychology field and includes practical applications of the science to make daily life more meaningful. The syllabus includes topics like Positive Emotions: The Tiny Engines of Positive Psychology and The Delicate Art of Pursuing Happiness.

Positive Psychiatry and Mental Health Available on Coursera, free to audit

In this course, students explore positive psychology's dual approach to mental health, building "strengths, supports, and healthy lifestyles as well as treating illness and distress."

Students will learn about different aspects of "good mental health" as well as an overview of mental disorders; their scientific causes, treatments; and how to seek help and support — ranging from exercise and relaxation techniques to psychiatric medications, psychotherapies, and the role of love and "good" types of work.

The course relies upon Australian experts in psychiatry, psychology, and mental health research as well as "lived experience experts" who have lived with mental illness and can share their personal stories.

A Daily Success Routine: Transform Your Life 1 Day At A Time Available on Skillshare, included in premium membership (first two months are $1)

This course focuses on a daily routine that's designed to connect your actions with how you perceive yourself and who you want to be. Meant to be highly visual, it comes with printable "life maps" with main takeaways and actions to take, focusing on things like expressing gratitude and mastering reactions.

Positive Psychology Certification: Live Well and Work Well Available on Udemy, $129.99

This course focuses on understanding character strengths; using tools to become happier and healthier; setting goals aimed at happiness; and improving relationships, mindfulness, optimism, and overall well-being.

Read more: 6 places to take free and affordable classes online, on everything from programming to photography

Read the original article on Business Insider

80% of adults want Biden to act fast on small business aid and stimulus checks, new survey finds

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 4:19pm
  • Morning Consult poll finds that four in five Americans want Biden to prioritize small business aid and stimulus checks.
  • Respondents also indicated favorability of extending mortgage forbearance policies, increasing unemployment benefits, and raising taxes for the wealthy.
  • Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen affirmed Biden's commitment to aiding small businesses in her confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A survey released on Tuesday found that four in five adults want President-elect Joe Biden to push small business aid and stimulus checks to the top of his agenda to ensure a quick economic recovery from the pandemic.

In the survey findings by Morning Consult -- a global data intelligence company -- with regards to economic priorities, small business aid topped the list, with 82% of respondents saying it should be a top priority over the next four years. Stimulus checks followed close behind at 79%, and extending mortgage forbearance policies and increasing unemployment benefits were viewed favorably, as well.

Biden has previously stated support for both small business aid and stimulus checks, with increasing stimulus checks to $2,000 marking a core component of his economic relief plan. And in Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearing on Tuesday, she told Congress that aiding small businesses would provide "the biggest bang for the buck," meaning that Biden's stimulus plan will not only help working families and businesses, but the economy, as well.

Higher taxes for wealthy people also received significant support from survey respondents at 65%, but more Democrats support this measure than Republicans, according to the survey. 

Biden said he plans to raise taxes for individual households earning more than $400,000 a year - an idea that that is lauded by Democrats due to its combating wealth inequality, but criticized by Republicans due to its unrealistic nature, Insider previously reported

With Biden's announcement of his $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package last week, Americans can expect to see conversations surrounding small business aid and stimulus relief taking place in Congress over the next few weeks.

Read the original article on Business Insider

We've ordered fresh flowers from The Bouqs and have always been impressed - here's why we're repeat customers

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 4:19pm

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

The Vibrance bouquet's bright sunflowers and aster accents will bring a smile to anyone's face.

  • The Bouqs Co. delivers fresh, hand-cut flowers and plants from sustainable farms all over the world.
  • If you need a unique gift for someone special, there are many floral arrangements starting at around $40.
  • Currently, you can upgrade certain bouquets to a Deluxe for the price of an Original with the code '2XBLOOMS'.
  • Find our recommended online flower delivery services here, and check out more Valentine's Day gift ideas.

Valentine's Day is coming up soon on Sunday, February 14, and if you haven't thought about what to get, now's the time to start brainstorming. Whatever you decide to gift or plan, an arrangement of fresh flowers is never a bad idea to include.

With more than 80 beautiful bouquets available, The Bouqs Co. is one online flower company we come back to time and time again. It has everything from classic red roses to mixed bouquets with flowers and succulents and even gift sets with flowers and candles or chocolates. To make shopping even easier, there's a handy "One-Click Valentine's Day Roses" feature at the top of the page for a traditional bouquet of roses. And if you're looking to save, currently you can get a Deluxe bouquet for the price of an Original with the code '2XBLOOMS'.

It partners with sustainable farmers all over the world and local florists alike to get you the best flowers as soon as the next day. You can read about how The Bouqs Co. wowed "Shark Tank" investor Robert Herjavec here.  

Since Valentine's Day is a busy time, you should order your flowers sooner rather than later to ensure you get the bouquet you want. Anyone with an account will pay $12 shipping, otherwise, it usually costs $18; making an account is free so we definitely suggest doing so.  

We picked out some of our favorite arrangements in case you need some inspiration. Each page features background information about the farmer involved, and you can add a vase to any bouquet for an additional fee. 

Shop all flowers at The Bouqs Co. here. Classic red roses Order them here >>

You can't go wrong with a bouquet of red roses — they're the epitome of classic romance. 

Available in three sizes: original (12 stems, $54), deluxe (24 stems, $69), and grand (36 stems, $84) 

A monochromatic bouquet of white flowers and greenery Order them here >>

White flowers may be unconventional, but they're still every bit as beautiful. Use the code '2XBLOOMS' to upgrade to a Deluxe bouquet for the price of an Original.

Available in three sizes: original (12 stems, $49), deluxe (24 stems, $64), and grand (79 stems, $84) 

An assortment of succulents and flowers Order them here >>

Less traditional but just as stunning, this arrangement includes succulents you can plant after the roses have turned. 

Available in three sizes: original (12 mixed stems, $54), deluxe (24 mixed stems, $69), and grand (36 mixed stems, $84) 

Tropical flowers that go toward a good cause Order them here >>

Profits of this gorgeous tropical bouquet will go toward Campaign Zero, an organization that aims to combat police brutality through data-informed solutions. 

Available in one size: 14 stems, $64

A mix of romantic flowers and elegant alstroemeria Order them here >>

If they're a bit wild at heart, they'll love this untraditional mix of roses, alstroemeria, and eucalyptus. It's equal parts romantic and unexpected, and right now, you can use the code '2XBLOOMS' to upgrade to a Deluxe bouquet for the price of an Original.

Available in three sizes: original (12 mixed stems, $49), deluxe (24 mixed stems, $64), and grand (36 mixed stems, $79) 

Two heart-shaped succulents Order them here >>

If they're more of a plant person, they'll love this adorable set of Hoya hearts. These easy-to-care-for succulents come potted and ready for gifting.

Available in one size: deluxe ($44) 

A bundle of sunset-inspired roses Order them here >>

Inspired by the sunset and guaranteed to last longer, these bi-color roses are every bit romantic and stunning. You can get a Deluxe bouquet for the price of an Original with the code '2XBLOOMS'.

Available in three sizes: original (12 stems, $49), deluxe (24 stems, $64), and grand (36 stems, $79) 

A bouquet of sunflowers and eucalyptus Order them here >>

The Vibrance bouquet's bright sunflowers and aster accents will bring a smile to anyone's face. Add The Bouq's signature vase or mason vase to your purchase for $10. Use the code '2XBLOOMS' to upgrade to a Deluxe bouquet for the price of an Original.

Available in three sizes: original (12 mixed stems, $54), deluxe (24 mixed stems, $69), and grand (36 mixed stems, $84) 

A lighter take on the classic rose Order them here >>

If they love roses, swap the bouquet of traditional red roses for something more light and airy to brighten up their day.

Available in three sizes: original (12 stems, $54), deluxe (24 stems, $69), and grand (36 stems, $84) 

A colorful display of mini calla lilies and roses Order them here >>

Spice up the traditional rose bouquet with the added touch of mini calla lilies. Because the calla lilies' petals bloom upward instead of outward, a larger bouquet will give a fuller, more dramatic look.

Available in three sizes: original (15 mixed stems, $49), deluxe (30 mixed stems, $64), and grand (45 mixed stems, $79)

A desert-inspired bouquet Order them here >>

This mixed arrangement is paired with trendy, eco-friendly succulents in the Never Desert You bouquet. Plant the succulents for a gift that keeps on giving.

Available in three sizes: original (12 mixed stems, $59), deluxe (24 mixed stems, $74), and grand (36 mixed stems, $89) 

A hint of spring Order them here >>

The Knockout bouquet has a mixed array of tulips so the colors become more vibrant and gorgeous as the flowers bloom.

Available in three sizes: original (16 tulips, $54), deluxe (32 tulips, $69), and grand (48 tulips, $84) 

Read the original article on Business Insider

An electric-car battery that can be charged as fast as filling up your gas tank was just shown off by a startup

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 4:17pm
An electric-vehicle charging.
  • An electric-car battery that can be charged in five minutes was announced on Monday.
  • Standard electric-vehicle batteries take about eight hours to fully charge.
  • The faster charging capability would make EVs more accessible to the general public.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

An electric-car battery that can be charged in five minutes, the amount of time it takes to fill up a tank of gas, has been produced for the first time in a factory in China.

The new lithium-ion batteries were developed by the Israeli company StoreDot and manufactured by Eve Energy in China. The company has produced 1,000 sample batteries compliant with li-ion battery certifications, StoreDot said Tuesday.

The samples will be used to showcase the company's technology to prospective buyers and investors looking to get a jump on the electric-vehicle market, including BP, Daimler, Samsung Ventures, and TDK. 

Faster-charging batteries would make electric vehicles more functional

For many drivers, electric cars do not cut it for long trips because of the amount of time it takes to charge the vehicles. Electric-car batteries on the market can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours to charge, though a typical EV takes about eight hours to charge from empty to full, according to Pod Point, a manufacturer of electric-vehicle chargers.

Electric vehicles are a crucial part of Biden's $2 trillion climate-change plan, in which he wants an entirely green electric power grid by 2035 with cars running on electricity instead of gasoline. StoreDot's new battery technology would make this green future more feasible, eliminating what CEO Doron Myersdorf called electric vehicle's biggest barriers: "range and charging anxiety."

"Today's announcement marks an important milestone, moving XFC for the first time beyond innovation in the lab to a commercially-viable product that is scalable for mass production," Myersdorf said in a press release. "We're on the cusp of achieving a revolution in the EV charging experience that will remove the critical barrier to mass adoption of EVs."

Electric cars average about 250 miles of driving per charge. With a battery that could charge faster, drivers would not be range-bound and could take EVs on longer trips.

While lithium-ion batteries use graphite as an electrode, the StoreDot battery works faster by replacing graphite with semiconductor nanoparticles that allow ions to pass more easily and quickly. The company expects to replace this electrode with silicon, a much cheaper component, by the end of the year.

Tesla is also working on developing silicon electrodes.

Elon Musk has long been calling for faster charging speeds for electric cars

On Monday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted, "Battery cell production is the fundamental rate-limiter slowing down a sustainable energy future. Very important problem."

—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 18, 2021

Tesla has been making strides to give EVs a longer travel range through an extensive Supercharger network, as well as its new generation of long-range electric cars that can go up to 400 miles between charges. Musk hopes to make electric cars as convenient and accessible as conventional combustion-engine vehicles. 

Fast-charging EV batteries are still several years away

StoreDot's five-minute battery will likely not enter the mainstream market for many years, as mass production will not be available for quite some time as the company continues to hone its technology.

The startup has experimented with fast-charging batteries in the past for phones, drones, and scooters. In 2014, the company developed a prototype of a charger that could boost your phone's battery from dead to fully charged in 30 seconds.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Netflix added 8.5 million paid subscribers in Q4, surpassing 200 million for the first time despite slowed growth following a massive pandemic-driven spike

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 4:09pm
  • Netflix surpassed 200 million subscribers during Q4 as growth looks to be slowing after a pandemic-driven spike in 2020.
  • It added 8.51 million paid subscribers in Q4, surpassing estimates of 6.03 million.
  • Netflix continues to face competition with a slew of new streaming rivals, like Disney Plus and HBO Max.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Netflix surpassed 200 million paid subscribers during the fourth quarter.

On Tuesday, the streaming giant said it added 8.51 million paid subscribers during Q4 - it forecasted the addition of 6 million subscribers, while Wall Street analysts expected 6.03 million. That's still lower than in years past - Netflix raked in 9 million new subscribers in Q4 2019 alone - but the addition brings Netflix's total subscriber count to 200 million, a major milestone for the streaming giant.

The fourth quarter's additions bring Netflix's total paid memberships for 2020 to 37 million, up 31% from 2019's 28 million.

Netflix fell slightly short of expectations for profits during the fourth quarter. It posted earnings of $1.19 per share, compared to the $1.39 that analysts estimated. 

Read more: Netflix usage continued to climb internationally during Q4, exclusive web-tracking data suggests. But North American usage dipped.

In the last month of Q4, Netflix's original show "Bridgerton," produced by "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes, hit the platform to much fanfare and is set to be Netflix's fifth biggest original series yet, with "Stranger Things" and "The Witcher" sitting ahead of it. It premiered on Christmas Day and was projected to be watched by 63 million households in its first 28 days on the service. George Clooney's "The Midnight Sky" was the platform's largest original film of the fourth quarter, according to Netflix.

Netflix also has a bevy of highly anticipated offerings debuting on its service in 2021, and it said it plans to release at least one original film every week this year. That was a topic of interest for analysts in Q3 as many speculated what the streaming company's production lineup would look like heading into the new year. 

Netflix raised its subscription prices in October, which could help offset the costs associated with producing new original content. 

Netflix remains the top streaming platform, according to a December Wall Street Journal analysis that found it would wrap up 2020 as the platform with the most subscribers. The company surpassed analysts' expectations for subscriber growth during the first half of 2020 as viewers sought entertainment at home during the pandemic. But that growth slowed in the third quarter, with Netflix adding only 2.2 million paid subscribers compared with the 3.3 million that analysts expected.

The streaming market is growing crowded as newcomers, like Discovery Plus, enter the race for home viewers' attention and as cable TV continues to decline in popularity. Netflix continues to compete with Hulu, Disney Plus, Amazon's Prime Video, and HBO Max, whose "Wonder Woman 1984" was released on Christmas Day.

Here are the key numbers to watch from Netflix's Q4 earnings:
  • Q4 revenue: $6.64 billion, versus Wall Street estimates of $6.63 billion and Netflix's forecast of $6.57 billion.
  • Q4 earnings per share (GAAP): $1.19, versus Wall Street estimates of $1.39 and Netflix's forecast of  $1.35. 
  • Q4 global paid subscriber growth (paid net additions): 8.51 million, versus Wall Street estimates of 6.03 million and Netflix's forecast of 6 million.
  • Q1 global paid subscriber growth estimate (paid net additions estimate): 6 million versus, Wall Street estimates of 7.35 million.
Read the original article on Business Insider

US stocks gain as investors await a flood of earnings reports

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 4:08pm
Traders on the floor react before the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange on March 9, 2020 in New York.

US stocks gained on Tuesday after two straight days of losses last week as investors await a flood of earnings reports in the week ahead. 

 Janet Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden's pick to head the Treasury, urged lawmakers at her Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday morning that now is the time to "act big" on another massive rescue package to combat the pandemic.

"Neither the President-elect, nor I, propose this relief package without an appreciation for the  country's debt burden," Yellen said in introductory remarks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing. "But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big."

Yellen also said that there won't be any tax hikes or repeals of the 2017 tax reform provisions while the US is coming out of the pandemic in 2021, but any plans for tax changes could still jolt markets.

"Yellen said that the details of tax changes may be featured in this year's infrastructure bill, which she is going to help draft. This could be setting up an ebullient market for a bit of a bull correction. Investors are more likely to get jolted when seeing details of the tax hikes, just as they got giddy in 2017 when the corporate tax cuts were announced," said Max Gokhman, Head of Asset Allocation at Pacific Life Fund Advisors.

Netflix is set to report fourth-quarter earnings after the market closes on Tuesday. Here's what four analysts expect when the streaming giant reports earnings and how they expect the stock to move. You can find a full calendar of this week's earnings here

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

Read more: GOLDMAN SACHS: Buy these 25 stocks best-positioned to juice profits in 2021 as stimulus and vaccine progress spur economic growth

President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion rescue plan could boost nominal GDP growth to 11.4% year-over-year by the end of 2021, according to JPMorgan's David Kelly.  

AMC Entertainment rallied as much as 37% on Tuesday after announcing it raised $100 million to extend its cash runway amid widespread theater closures.

BlackBerry shares spiked as much as 20% after the company announced it settled a patent infringement suit with Facebook. The terms of the settlement weren't disclosed.

Bitcoin failed to break through previous records and fell to $36,302.434 as the market day ended.

Spot gold increased 0.51%, to $1,839.20 per ounce. The US dollar strengthened against all Group-of-10 currency peers and Treasury yields declined.

Oil prices were higher. West Texas Intermediate crude increased 1.22% to $53.00 per barrel. Brent crude, oil's international benchmark, increased 2.03%, to $55.86 per barrel.

Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

Man offers city $70 million to dig up lost 7,500-bitcoin hard drive

Just 15% of financial advisors are women. A 40-year veteran of Merrill Lynch who just came out of retirement explains how to change that.

Activist investor Ryan Cohen scores 400% gain on GameStop stock in under 6 months

Read the original article on Business Insider

Spanx is best known for its shapewear, but its leggings are the real unsung heroes - we had 4 people test their fit and function

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 3:59pm

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

In the 22 years since being founded by Sara Blakely, Spanx has firmly entrenched itself into popular culture and become synonymous with looking and feeling confident in your evening dress.

Though it's usually associated with smoothing, panty line-eliminating shapewear, another part of its business - which has expanded far and wide to include activewear, swimwear, and men's underwear - is quietly raved about, too.

Spanx leggings have earned their own share of fans because they feature the same comfort and flattering look of the famous shapewear, but take everyone's favorite form of pants-that-aren't-really-pants. 

A few of the most popular Spanx legging styles are the Faux Leather Leggings ($98), Faux Leather Moto Leggings ($110), and the Look At Me Now Seamless Leggings ($68).

The sleek and slick Faux Leather Leggings are slimming and make an ordinary outfit instantly more edgy, while the Moto version turns the edge up further with its textured moto seams. Though you'd expect these styles to be uncomfortable or restrictive, they're quite stretchy and have control tops.

Meanwhile, the stretchy knit Seamless Leggings are an attractive legging basic you'll default to on the weekends, but won't feel ashamed to wear out of your home.

In total, Spanx sells more than 30 styles of leggings, from "Jean-ish" to luxe velvet to active. They run from $58 to $128, with most styles priced around $100 to $110 - on par with premium athleisure brands. The Spanx difference, however, benefits from a design philosophy that has both comfort and style in mind, and executes through features like shaping waistbands and the absence of center seams. 

We tried a few pairs of Spanx leggings to see for ourselves what the big deal was and came away impressed with their fit, quality construction, and flattering style. You can read more about our experiences and shop all of Spanx's leggings below. 

Shop all leggings at Spanx here.Shop Spanx leggings at Nordstrom here. EveryWear Mesh Side Stripe Leggings

For both stylistic and functional, breathability purposes, I love leggings with mesh details or panels, so I was immediately drawn to this pair. They have a lengthening and slimming mesh stripe down each leg that somewhat mimics the popular side stripe pant look of the moment, but has its own unique effect. 

Your legs and butt will look great in these leggings because the fabric compresses and hugs your curves, but they'll also feel surprisingly comfortable the whole time. They're stretchy, and though I wouldn't work out in them, they easily adapted to the unexpected squats and light jogs that can be required during an active day in the city.

The other parts of the comfort equation were the soft, antimicrobial finish and breathable fabric that allowed me to wear these leggings from day to night. — Connie Chen, senior reporter

Look At Me Now Cropped Seamless Leggings

I'm firmly in camp "leggings as pants," and this semi-high-waisted pair has everything going for it. The extreme opacity means I never have to worry when I  bend over to pick something up (which is often, I have a cat and a slippery phone), and the seamless construction is incredibly smoothing and comfortable. There's no elastic strip in the waistband, so there's no digging. The waist is basically just a continuation of the leggings themselves.

They're also not as tight as Spanx shapewear, but they still hold me in without pressing too hard anywhere. I don't wear these to work, but I do wear them as often as possible when I'm not in the office. I'm also 5-foot-1, so cropped leggings fit me perfectly as regular-length pairs.  — Sally Kaplan, senior editor

EveryWear Icon Leggings

I was prepared not to love Spanx's leggings. I spend most of my time in athletic leggings, and I had decided I'd outgrown athleisure pairs. I stand corrected.

The Every-Wear leggings are flattering and slimming, and surprisingly thin enough to wear all day comfortably. The four-way stretch lets you move around unencumbered. The design is smart: the absence of a center-seam and a waistband-free construction makes the transition from what is essentially shapewear to a more natural second skin (and no muffin top). It hit at my natural waist, and the seams in back work both functionally and as a kind of slimming and uplifting contour.

All in all, they're movement-friendly, make for a lean and streamlined silhouette, and avoid most of my athleisure complaints. $110 is expensive, but I'd personally rather own one pair of these than three inferior pairs. —Mara Leighton, senior reporter

Active Printed Leggings

Spanx makes my all-time favorite pairs of tights, so I had high hopes for its leggings. And my faith was not misplaced … the Active Printed Leggings are amazing. They're breathable, supportive but not suffocating, and surprisingly comfortable, offering more stretch than similar compressive leggings I've tried that makes them much easier to get into and out of. I'm not sure what witchcraft went into the design, but they also manage to create a smooth-all-over look I love. —Ellen Hoffman, Insider Reviews Executive Editor

Looking for more leggings and tights options? Let Insider Reviews help you: Read the original article on Business Insider

10 things in tech you need to know today

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 2:56am
This illustration picture shows social media application logo from Parler displayed on a smartphone with its website in the background.

Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Tuesday. Sign up here to get this email in your inbox every morning.

Have an Amazon Alexa device? Listen to this update by searching "Business Insider" in your flash briefing settings.

    1. Parler's website appeared to be back online. The platform was booted from Amazon Web Services and kicked off Apple and Google's app stores.

    2. The vice chairman of Samsung was sent to prison. Jay Y. Lee was accused of bribing a friend of a South Korean president to win support for his succession.

    3. Github backpedaled on the firing of a Jewish employee. The firm said it made "significant errors of judgement" when it fired an employee who suggested that "Nazis" were among the Capitol rioters.

    4. Parler attracted senior members of the UK government before it shut down. They reportedly included Michael Gove, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, and foreign minister James Cleverly.

    5. SpaceX blast 60 internet satellites into orbit on Tuesday. The firm delayed the first Starlink satellite launch of 2021 because of bad weather.

    6. Home Depot faced pressure to investigate whether social media ads fuel violence. Investors expect the issue to get traction in the wake of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

    7. The Trump administration revoked the licenses of companies that supply to Huawei. Companies including Intel and the Japanese chipmaker Kioxia were informed that they would no longer be able to sell to Huawei.

    8. A Republican congresswoman was suspended by Twitter for 12 hours after telling Trump supporters to 'mobilize'. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed to Insider that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's account was "locked out for multiple violations.".

    9. Premium: We asked 12 prominent European tech investors to pick out fintech startups they think will blow up in 2021. The sector continued its run as being by far the biggest in the bloc for VC investment, netting $9.3 billion in fresh capital in 2020.

    10. Premium: We got an exclusive look at the pitch deck $3 billion valued healthtech startup Hinge Health used to raise $300 million. CEO Daniel Perez told Insider the company received more than $400 million in commitments within 24 hours of opening the latest funding round.
Read the original article on Business Insider

An elite panel of world leaders has called out China for its bungled coronavirus response and is vowing to shore up the fledgling 'global pandemic alert system' by May

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 10:25pm
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
  • A group of world leaders tasked with leading a postmortem on the global response to the coronavirus pandemic has issued a rebuke to China's early handling of the outbreak.
  • The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, which reports to the World Health Organization, chastised the Chinese government on Monday for what it suggested was a bungled response to COVID-19.
  • "What is clear to the Panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January," they wrote in a new report.
  • The group also promised to issue new guidance to fix the world's "global pandemic alert system," which it called "not fit for purpose," in another report coming in May.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A group of world leaders tasked with leading a postmortem on the global response to the coronavirus pandemic has issued a rebuke to China's early handling of the outbreak. The group is promising to follow up with a laundry list of new recommendations on where the world went wrong in responding to the crisis.

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, a group of world leaders that collectively report to the World Health Organization, chastised the Chinese government on Monday for what it suggested was a bungled response to the emergence of COVID-19, which ultimately spiraled out of control last year.

"What is clear to the Panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January," the Independent Panel said in a new report. The panel counts among its members Helen Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former president of Liberia.

China was the first country to battle the coronavirus pandemic, locking down many regions at the beginning of 2020 to control its spread. Nevertheless, the virus managed to slip beyond China's borders.

Still, the panel noted that China isn't the only country to have struggled in its response to the pandemic.

"Never before in modern times has the international community been called on to respond to a global health crisis of this magnitude and with such widespread consequences," the report went on to say. "The international system's response has been found wanting in many respects."

The group went on to call groups of countries like those in the G7 and G8 "largely reactive" in their COVID response, as opposed to proactive in implementing successful mitigation or control protocols.

With nearly 100 million confirmed cases and more than two million recorded deaths worldwide, following the panel's guidance could be crucial for preventing such lethal public health crises in the future.

Read more: How pharmacies and retailers like Walmart, Kroger, and Rite Aid could benefit from the vaccination push

'The global pandemic alert system is not fit for purpose'

To prevent another threatening virus from overwhelming the world's patchwork public health systems, the panel promised to review the existing preventative structures as well as shore up protocols to deal with emerging diseases.

"The global pandemic alert system is not fit for purpose," the report authors wrote. "Critical elements of the system are slow, cumbersome, and indecisive."

The panel looked back on recommendations for handling the pandemic that the World Health Organization published throughout 2020, and identified nearly 900 individual pieces of guidance issued by the WHO or its regional offices. The flurry of constantly-evolving guidance itself could have overwhelmed people and contributed to confusion, the report noted.

"The sheer volume of recommendations issued suggests to the Panel the major risk of a lack of direction, clarity, and consistency of the type which would have assisted countries to set priorities in their responses," the authors wrote, adding that they'll continue to scrutinize the "coherence and prioritization of recommendations, and evidence concerning their actual patterns of use."

Now, the panel plans to take a close look at "the methods and tools employed by surveillance and alarm systems" around the world and assess how effective those systems are. They committed to issuing a report in May of this year that could help bring about a "global reset," and lay the groundwork for a more efficacious response than the one which unfolded in 2020.

Read more: The UK's hospital system is on the brink of collapse, forcing overworked staff to postpone cancer treatments, stretch oxygen supplies, and put themselves at risk of catching COVID-19

Another report claims Chinese officials in Wuhan failed to direct a swift, cohesive response to the virus

The panel's conclusions came out on the same day that the Al Jazeera news agency published previously-unseen videos of the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak. The footage, shot clandestinely by two reporters and smuggled outside of China, is said to show how fear and confusion first spread in Wuhan, the hard-hit Chinese capital of Hubei province.

The videos, which Al Jazeera says were shot between January 19 and January 22, 2020, demonstrate the initial lack of urgency with which leaders in Wuhan met the novel coronavirus. Later footage captures the devolution into a much graver state that engulfed the city, which was eventually locked down. One of the reporters who is said to have filmed the footage wrote in his diary that "the lack of staff and equipment in Wuhan caused many infected patients to be denied treatment."

In spite of China's early difficulties combating the virus, strict public health measures have helped the country keep its newly-diagnosed daily cases low. Last week, however, the Associated Press reported that China was erecting a new 3,000-unit quarantine facility in the capital of the northern Hebei province, as a response to gradually rising case counts.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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