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One of the biggest student loan companies in the US gets approval to shut down its services

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 4:21pm
  • The Education Dept. approved student-loan company Navient's request to shut down its services.
  • The 6 million federal borrowers under Navient will be transferred to another company, Maximus.
  • Federal Student Aid head Richard Cordray said Maximus will be held to higher standards.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Education Department on Wednesday approved student-loan company Navient's request to shut down its federal services, becoming the third company to do so this year before student-loan payments resume in February.

According to a press release last month, the six million borrowers who currently pay their federal student loans to Navient will be transferred to Maximus, a company that services government loans. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) and Granite State Management and Resources, servicing a combined 10 million borrowers, are ending their contracts, as well.

Federal Student Aid head Richard Cordray said in a statement the agency's confidence in the handover "is bolstered by the fact that Maximus will be held to the stronger standards for performance, transparency, and accountability that FSA included in its recent servicer contract extensions."

Navient announced their request to transition their federal accounts to Maximus last month, and Navient CEO Jack Remondi wrote in a blog post that both Navient and Maximus have been working with the Education Department over the past months to ensure a smooth transition for the borrowers, saying he is "confident borrowers will continue to be well-served" during and post-transition.

"Maximus will be a terrific partner to ensure that borrowers and the government are well served, and we look forward to receiving FSA approval," Remondi said.

This was welcome news to lawmakers like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has held Navient in her sights for years and accused it of misleading borrowers.

"Navient has spent decades misleading, cheating, and abusing student borrowers," Warren told Insider following Navient's announcement last month. "The Federal student loan program will be far better off without them."

Insider reported in April that during a hearing on student debt, Warren told Remondi that he should be fired for "actions that ripped off borrowers," including the improper marketing of loans and failing to notify borrowers of their rights.

And Student Borrower Protection Center Executive Director Seth Frotman said in a statement that "millions of Americans with student loans will no longer be forced to rely on a company that puts padding its own profits at the expense of its customers."

Notably, Cordray said during remarks at a conference earlier this month that student-loan companies are choosing to shut down rather than face more accountability. To be sure, he did not comment on specific companies but noted that "not everybody was thrilled" with his plans to strengthen oversight of the industry.

Navient's transfer of 6 million borrowers will likely add to the administrative burdens the Education Department will be tasked with in February. Student-loan payments have been on pause for the duration of the pandemic, and the department will have to restart those payments for the 43 million borrowers with federal student loans, along with transitioning 16 million borrowers to new student-loan companies.

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Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin mocks GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz over January 6 rant: 'Blah, blah, blah'

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 4:21pm
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks during the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington
  • Jamie Raskin ridiculed Matt Gaetz as he ranted against the probe into the January 6 insurrection.
  • "Blah, blah, blah," Raskin said as Gaetz downplayed the significance of the deadly Capitol riot.
  • Gaetz was testifying in opposition to holding Steve Bannon in contempt for not cooperating with the probe.

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland on Wednesday mocked Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz as he ranted about the January 6 insurrection and downplayed its significance during a House Rules Committee hearing.

"You have no other legislation or other solutions for the country," Gaetz, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, said. "You guys need January 6th so bad."

At one point, Gaetz veered off topic and referenced the "Russia hoax."

"Blah, blah, blah, OK," Raskin replied.

-The Hill (@thehill) October 20, 2021

Gaetz testified in opposition to holding longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt for defying a subpoena for documents and testimony from the House select committee investigating January 6. The select committee on Tuesday night unanimously voted to hold Bannon in criminal contempt for defying the subpoena.

The House is set to hold a full vote Thursday on whether to hold Bannon in contempt. The House Rules Committee sets the terms for Thursday's floor debate.

During the heated exchange with Raskin at Wednesday's hearing, Gaetz would not admit that President Joe Biden fairly won the 2020 election. The Florida Republican effectively continued to promote Trump's "Big Lie" about the election or the false notion that it was "stolen" from him.

"Do you accept that Joe Biden won?" Raskin asked.

"I accept that Joe Biden is the president," Gaetz said.

Raskin then pressed Gaetz on whether he believed Biden legitimately won the election.

"Do you accept that Joe Biden won the election by over seven million votes and defeated Donald Trump by 306 to 232 in the Electoral College? A margin that Donald Trump called a landslide when he beat Hillary Clinton by the same numbers," Raskin said.

In response, the Republican lawmaker baselessly stated, "Our election was uniquely polluted by these indiscriminate mail-in ballots."

Trump and his allies filed over 40 lawsuits challenging the election results, and all of them failed.

There's no evidence of mass voter fraud linked to the 2020 election. Voter fraud is extraordinarily rare in the US. Trump's lies about the 2020 election, and unprecedented effort to overturn the results, provoked the deadly riot at the Capitol on January 6.

Gaetz was among the Republicans who embraced Trump's effort to overturn the election, voting against certifying Biden's Electoral College victory.

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How to change Alexa's voice, accent, or language - and get access to celebrity voices

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 4:18pm
The default voice and language of your Alexa assistant can easily be changed.
  • You can change the voice, accent, or language for your Alexa.
  • You can also set your Alexa to speak slower, or use whisper mode, if desired.
  • There are also celebrity personalities you can purchase to be the voice of your Alexa.
  • Visit Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you have Amazon devices, like the Echo speaker, you probably use the Alexa AI assistant to do things like set alarms and answer your questions. The default voice of Alexa isn't the only option though. In fact, you can change both the language and the accent of the voice - or even use certain celebrity voices - if you want to change things up.

However, you should know that you can only change Alexa's language with specific devices, like the Amazon Echo. And you may lose some capabilities if the language and the accent you choose don't match.

With that in mind, here's how to make changes to Alexa's voice or language using either a voice command or the app.

How to change Alexa's voice on an Echo

1. Say "Alexa, change your voice."

2. Specify the device you want to change the voice for, if necessary.

3. Choose the new voice.

Note: You can only change Alexa's voice - not the language - using this voice command method.

How to change Alexa's voice or language on the Alexa app

1. Open the Alexa app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android.

2. Tap Devices in the bottom menu.

Choose the "Devices" tab.

3. Tap Echo & Alexa.

Choose "Echo & Alexa."

4. Select your Echo device within the app.

5. Tap Language.

6. Choose the desired language or accent.

How to make Alexa whisper or speak less

1. Open the Alexa app.

2. Tap More, located in the bottom toolbar.

3. Select Settings.

Choose "Settings."

4. Choose Voice Responses.

Go into the "Voice Responses" section.

5. Toggle on the Whisper mode option for quieter responses, or toggle on Brief mode to have Alexa speak less.

Toggle on the whisper mode or brief mode option as desired. How to make Alexa speak slower

You can make Alexa speak slower by saying the voice command "Alexa, talk slower." And of course you'd say "Alexa, talk faster" if you want that effect. When you're ready, say "Alexa, go back to your default speed" to reset the response speed.

Alexa celebrity voices

If you get tired of Alexa's default voices, there are more options. For $4.99, you can also purchase certain celebrity voices, like those from Samuel L. Jackson, Melissa McCarthy, and Shaquille O'Neal, to voice your Alexa.

Note: Not every response will be voiced by the celebrity - for answers to more complex questions, Alexa's voice will take over.

Here's how to access those options:

1. Say "Alexa, introduce me to [celebrity name]."

2. You'll be directed to purchase that celebrity personality for your Alexa. Approve the purchase to start using the personality.

Important: Celebrity voices don't work with first-generation Echo and Echo Dot wearables.

Alternatively, you can also purchase the celebrity personality for your Alexa via Once set up, you can then use the celebrity's first name instead of saying "Alexa" for voice commands.

How to connect your Spotify account to Alexa on your Amazon smart speaker'Can Alexa play YouTube?': Not directly - here's how to play YouTube on an Alexa-enabled speaker with a Bluetooth-paired deviceHow to set up and use the Alexa app on your iPhone'Does Alexa work with a Samsung Galaxy S10?': Yes, it does - here's how to make Alexa your new digital assistantRead the original article on Business Insider

Crest Whitestrips and Oral-B electric toothbrushes are up to 38% off today on Amazon

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 4:17pm

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

There's no need to wait patiently for Black Friday or Cyber Monday to score discounts on Amazon as the retailer's Epic Daily Deals event is now live. The sale includes deals on everything from oral health products and kitchen utensils to tech products, kids' toys, and home goods.

Amazon spotlights a new product category each day and today's discounts are all about oral health, specifically items from both Oral-B and Crest. This includes the ever-popular and high-selling Crest Whitestrips and Oral-B's top-of-the-line Genius X electric toothbrush, each of which are discounted by at least 38% off their normal price.

And don't worry about the fact it's only October; Amazon extended its holiday return window through January 31, 2022, just in case whatever is purchased early through its Epic Daily Deals can be returned, replaced, or refunded. This makes it the perfect time to stock up on gifts ahead of the 2021 shopping season to avoid scrambling last-second.

We've outlined a few of the best deals below, which are all active until 3 a.m. Pacific Time on October 21. Be sure to check back to the Insider Reviews Deals page each day for a new spotlight on what's on sale.

The best oral health deals on Amazon available nowWhite Luxe Glamorous Whitestrips (small)3D Whitestrips with Light Kit (small)GENIUS X Electric Toothbrush (small)iO Series 8 Electric Toothbrush (small)Pro 500 Electric Power Rechargeable Toothbrush (small)Read the original article on Business Insider

US stocks rise as strong corporate earnings outweigh inflation concerns

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 4:14pm
A stock trader claps at the end of trade at the New York Stock Exchange

US stocks notched new highs on Wednesday as strong strong corporate earnings outweighed inflation and supply chain concerns.

The benchmark S&P 500 closed higher for the sixth straight session, buoyed by stronger than expected third-quarter earnings reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average scaled new intraday highs, though failed to hit a closing record. The tech-heavy Nasdaq slipped, dragged by Netflix's outlook of decreased profitability.

A majority of companies that have reported earnings have beat analyst expectations so far. "Indeed, the selloff from September feels like an increasingly distant memory now," Deutsche Bank analysts said.

Here's where US indexes stood at the 4:00 p.m. ET close on Wednesday:

Equities have been boosted by strong earnings reports, defying more muted expectations due to ongoing supply chain disruptions that have pushed prices of goods higher and the persistent labor shortages that have slowed the economic rebound.

"We believe that the stock market has more to climb in this bull market and that some of the COVID-19 headwinds are receding even as inflation increasingly becomes a headwind," Chris Zaccarelli, CIO at Independent Advisor Alliance, said in a Wednesday note. "Many companies continue to have pricing power, which should preserve corporate profits."

Fundstrat Global Advisors on Wednesday formally raised its S&P 500 year-end target to 4,800, representing potential upside of about 7% as risk-on sentiment increases.

"The improvement in market technicals, such as clearing the 50-day moving average, is actually suggesting that underlying trends are getting stronger," head of research Tom Lee said.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.648% - a level last seen in May - compared to Tuesday's 1.634%. Yields rise when bond prices fall.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin climbed to a record high of $66,909, a day after ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF had the second-biggest trading debut of all time.

If the bitcoin manages to see consecutive daily closes above former resistance at $65,000, Fairlead Strategies' Katie Stockton believes it will hit $89,800, representing potential upside of 38% from the breakout.

Ahead, asset management firm VanEck looks set next week to launch an ETF tied to bitcoin futures after October 23 on the Cboe BZX Exchange, according to a company filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose 1.55%, to $84.25 per barrel. Brent crude, oil's international benchmark, tacked on 0.78%, to $85.74 per barrel.

Gold jumped as much as 0.88%, to $1,784.69 per ounce.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Syria 'massacre': Government attack kills 4 children on their way to school, UN says

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 4:08pm
A view of the damage around the site after Assad regime forces targeted a marketplace in the rural town of Ariha in Idlib, northwestern Syria, on October 20, 2021.
  • The attack Wednesday morning killed at least 13 people, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Four of the dead were children on their way to school. Their teacher was also killed.
  • The strike occurred in a marketplace in northwest Syria that is controlled by anti-government rebels.

Four children and their teacher where killed in a rocket attack by government forces in Syria on Wednesday, according to the United Nations' children's agency.

"Today's violence is yet another reminder that the war in Syria has not come to an end," Ted Chaban, UNICEF's regional directory for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement. He said the attack - on a marketplace in the opposition-held province of Idlib - may constitute a war crime.

"Children should be able to reach their schools safely," Chaban said.

A total of 13 people were killed in Ariha, a town in the northwest part of the country about an hour from the border with Turkey, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 26 people were also injured in what they called a "massacre," some seriously.

The strike took place hours after a bus carrying Syrian soldiers in the capital of Damascus blew up, killing 14 people, the Associated Press reported. Syrian state media attributed the explosion to two bombs that had been placed on the vehicle.

At least 350,000 people have been confirmed killed since the start of the war in Syria, according to the United Nations. Independent observers say the real number may be over 600,000, the vast majority killed by Syrian government forces that were called on by the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad to crush pro-democracy protests that broke out in 2011.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter:

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Elon Musk's SpaceX is stirring up trillion-dollar hype. Here's what Morgan Stanley says clients are talking about.

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 4:01pm
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Crew Dragon capsule lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on September 15, 2021.
  • SpaceX has been stirring up trillion-dollar hype among Morgan Stanley's clients.
  • Morgan Stanley analysts have a $200 billion bull-case valuation for the firm - double what it is today.
  • But they acknowledge SpaceX continues to challenge "any preconceived notion of what was possible and the time frame possible..."
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Elon Musk's SpaceX, one of the world's most valuable private companies, has been stirring up trillion-dollar hype among Morgan Stanley's clients.

The private space exploration company, after all, isn't just one company. It's "multiple companies in one," including communications, space infrastructure, earth observation, and deep-space exploration, among others, Morgan Stanley analysts, led by Adam Jones, said in a recent note.

As the nearly two-decade-old company hit an estimated $100 billion valuation, here is some of the buzz the bank has heard from its clients:

1. Trillion-dollar status

"More than one client has told us if Elon Musk were to become the first Trillionaire... it won't be because of Tesla."

Musk is already the world's richest person right now, as Tesla stock has soared in recent years. Founded in 2003, Tesla has emerged as one of the leading electric-car makers in the field and is now worth more than $860 billion. Similarly, Musk's net worth surged to $236 billion recently, eclipsing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' fortune of $196 billion.

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley puts SpaceX's valuation at $200 billion under its bull-case scenario, still well below Tesla's market cap. But Musk owns roughly half of SpaceX, and the analysts acknowledge it continues to challenge "any preconceived notion of what was possible and the time frame possible, in terms of rockets, launch vehicles and supporting infrastructure."

2. Most valuable company

"Others have said SpaceX may eventually be the most highly valued company in the world - in any industry."

SpaceX is estimated to be worth $100 billion after a secondary-share sale in early October. It's now the second most valuable privately held company in the world, according to data from CB Insights, just trailing behind TikTok parent Bytedance, which is worth $140 billion.

But being the most valuable company overall implies SpaceX would top Apple and Saudi Aramco, which have market caps of about $2 trillion.

While SpaceX is far from reaching even $1 trillion, it is multiple companies wrapped in one, and is at the top of a fast-growing sector, meaning it has a lot of room for growth, the analysts said.

3. The next Google?

"Talking about space before Starship is like talking about the internet before Google."

SpaceX is developing Starship to take human beings to the moon, Mars, and beyond. In August, SpaceX completed stacking a prototype Starship spacecraft with its booster ahead of an eventual attempt at its first orbital flight.

While initially envisioned as a vehicle for deep-space exploration, Starship's large payload capacity and full reusability are also expected to dramatically lower the costs of putting satellites into earth orbit.

Combine this with SpaceX's Starlink satellites, which provide internet service from 1,700 satellites floating in orbit, and you have what Morgan Stanley calls a "double flywheel of Launch + Starlink."

"We view SpaceX's launch capabilities and Starlink as inextricably linked whereby improvements in launch
capacity/bandwidth (both in frequency and payload per flight) and cost of launch improve the economics and path to scale of Starlink's LEO constellation," the analysts wrote.

"At the same time, development of Starlink's commercial opportunity provides a thriving 'captive customer' for the launch business, enabling a symbiotic

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 4 best Instant Pots and electric pressure cookers we tested in 2021

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 3:59pm

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

  • A good multicooker can pressure cook, slow cook, and brown or sear food effortlessly.
  • We cooked over 130 pounds of food in 11 multicookers to find the best ones on the market.
  • The Crock-Pot Express Crock XL is our top pick with its simple controls and accurate cooking.
  • Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and reviews kitchen products.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Whether you call them electric pressure cookers, multicookers, or Instant Pots - the name of the most popular brand - these countertop appliances have become a mainstay in American kitchens, especially since the coronavirus pandemic forced many people to cook at home.

At their most basic, electric pressure cookers have functions for pressure cooking, slow cooking, and browning/searing/sauteing. And, some of the fancier models also air fry and sous vide. Unlike their non-electric stovetop forebears, today's electric pressure cookers have many safety mechanisms to protect you from blowing up your kitchen.

To test electric pressure cookers, I pressure cooked, slow cooked, seared, air fried, and sous vide cooked 80 pounds of pork, 25 pounds of chicken, 11 pounds of dried beans, 6 pounds of beef, 6 pounds of dry rice, and 2 pounds of frozen French fries in 11 multicookers.

I also consulted with Anne Wolf, a chef and chocolatier who worked on America's Test Kitchen's Multicooker Perfection, and Jeffrey Eisner, author of The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook, which features recipes we used in our testing.

I have tested kitchen appliances for four years and have developed several objective tests to determine which models are best for specific needs. You can find details about how I test electric multicookers here.

In addition to our top picks, we list other models we recommend, what we look forward to testing, and common FAQs at the end of the guide.

Here are the best electric pressure cookers Best electric pressure cooker overall

The Crock-Pot Express Crock XL Multicooker performed well in all of our cooking tests, and its button controls make programming it a snap.

  • Capacity: 8 quarts
  • Inner pot material: Nonstick
  • Settings: brown/sear, saute, slow cook, simmer, boil, yogurt, keep warm, meat/stew, poultry, beans/chili, soup/broth, rice/grains, dessert, steam
  • Number of included recipes: 34
  • Extras: Extra sealing gasket, steaming rack, plastic serving spoon

Pros: Intuitive controls, produced delicious and tender food, excellent browning, comes with an extra gasket, spacious 8-quart pot

Cons: The pressure took longer than average to build with some items, the sealing gasket comes loose easily

The Crock-Pot Express Crock XL Multicooker was the only model to do well in all of our tests. Within five minutes of opening the box, I had the unit building pressure. The controls are intuitive and include a button for making custom pressure and time adjustments. I like that it comes with an extra sealing gasket since the seal tends to hold onto flavors, which can be off-putting when switching between savory and sweet dishes.

All of the dishes we made in the Express Crock XL were excellent. It was one of the fastest to build pressure during our pork test, and the resulting meat shredded effortlessly. The slow cooker pork also shredded easily after the ten-hour cook, though there were still a few harder chunks.

In under an hour (including building and releasing pressure), the Crock-Pot electric pressure cooker cooked a pound of dried pinto beans, and the results were flavorful with nearly-perfect texture and great uniformity. 

The rice was also nearly perfect, though it took 33 minutes (including the pressure build), which was longer than most models. The pressure also took a little longer than other units to build after searing. The spacious 8-quart inner pot is large enough for a 5.5-pound chicken, which we cooked following the recipe in the included booklet. The browning was beautiful, and the final product was falling off the bone, juicy, full of flavor, and didn't taste overcooked. 

Though the inner pot is dishwasher safe, the nonstick surface makes it easy to clean by hand. The sealing gasket is also dishwasher safe, but I found this wasn't enough to remove the pulled pork odor — a problem with all of the units we tested.

The biggest problem we had with the Crock-Pot Express Crock XL Multicooker is that the sealing gasket didn't fit as well as other models. It came loose when jostled so we had to make sure it was positioned just right before putting the lid on. We seemed to nail it each time, though, and never had trouble building pressure.

Express Crock XL Multicooker (8-quart) (button) Best budget electric pressure cooker

If you're looking for a basic affordable multicooker from the top name in the industry, the Instant Pot Duo Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker is your best bet.

  • Capacity: 6 quarts
  • Inner pot material: Nonstick 
  • Settings: pressure cook, sear/saute, steam, slow cook, sterilize, keep warm, ferment plus 300+ preset programs in its menu
  • Number of included recipes: 1000+ in the Chef iQ App (available for iOS and Android)
  • Extras: Extra sealing gasket, steam rack, steam basket, heat-resistant pad for lid

Pros: Produced tender and juicy slow cooked pork, builds pressure quickly, good browning, dishwasher-safe and metal utensil-safe stainless steel inner pot, Instant Pot app features 100s of recipes

Cons: Takes experimentation to get cooking times right, controls take some getting used to

With more than 130,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, the Instant Pot Duo Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker is the most popular electric multicooker on the market. It comes in three, six, and eight-quart sizes and features a stainless steel inner pot, which is found in most Instant Pots. Though overcooked food can get stuck to the pot making it hard to clean, we like that it's dishwasher-safe and metal utensil-safe.

The Duo did okay in each of our tests, but excelled in our slow cooker test. The slow cooker pulled pork shredded effortlessly and had excellent, juicy flavor. The pressure build was quick for the pressure-cooked pulled pork, but the resulting pork was tougher and harder to shred than we would have liked. It seemed like it could have used 10 more minutes of pressure cooking.

Again, the pressure built quickly for the rice and beans, but the rice was a little too chewy and the beans were slightly overcooked (although not to the point of mushiness). 

Rather than providing you with a print recipe book, Instant Pot has a free app with hundreds of recipes. I chose a recipe for "perfect seared chicken" which involved searing chicken breasts coated in herbs and spices before a quick pressure cook. The chicken breasts browned well, and the pressure build was fast, but the finished product was dry.

Setup was quick, but operating the Duo wasn't exactly intuitive. I was confused about whether it had started building pressure or not. It was so quiet and just said "on." There's no start button. I had to consult the manual to see that "on" means it's building pressure.

Despite these negatives, we still think the Instant Pot Duo is a good budget option — especially if it's on sale during Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday as it seems to be every year. All of the functions work well, and the negatives can be fixed easily by adding or subtracting time as you get used to the appliance.

DUO 60 7-in-1 (6-qt) (button) Best smart electric pressure cooker

With its hundreds of preset programs and step-by-step interactive recipes, the Chef iQ Smart Cooker is outstandingly precise.

  • Capacity: 6 quarts
  • Inner pot material: Nonstick 
  • Settings: pressure cook, sear/saute, steam, slow cook, sterilize, keep warm, ferment plus 300+ preset programs in its menu
  • Number of included recipes: 1000+ in the Chef iQ App (available for iOS and Android)
  • Extras: Extra sealing gasket, steam rack, steam basket, heat-resistant pad for lid

Pros: WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, helpful app with 1000+ interactive recipes, full-color screen with 300+ present programs, quickest to cook rice and beans, good at searing, easy to set up

Cons: Didn't do well in our pulled pork tests

While we've given the Chef iQ Smart Cooker the title of best smart electric multicooker in our guide, it was the only WiFi-connected multicooker we tested this time around. However, regardless of its smart capabilities, it performed impressively.

The Chef iQ has the best screen and most precise cooking options of any of the units we tested, and it was easy to set up. 

Whereas other models have a button for beans, the full-color screen of the Chef iQ cooker offers much more detail. It has specific programs based on bean type, whether they're soaked, and how much you're cooking. And, the customization worked well. The Smart Cooker cooked a pound of beans 13 minutes faster than any other model, and the texture was uniformly excellent.

Another great feature is the three pressure release options: natural, quick, and pulse. The Chef iQ multicooker recommends a release method based on what you're cooking, or you can change it based on your preferences. If you choose quick or pulse release, the Smart Cooker automatically starts releasing the pressure (with a warning to ensure you're at a safe distance) at the end of your cooking time.

The recipes in the Chef iQ app offer step-by-step directions and interact with the Smart Cooker to automatically adjust the settings to fit the recipe. As the cooker completes each of the timed steps, a push notification is sent to your phone. Since it's WiFi-connected, you can receive the notifications anywhere you have an Internet connection. I went for a walk and received an alert when pressure cooking finished up, and was given the option to release the steam. 

One quibble I have with the smart features is you have to press the Start button on the cooker to initiate the cooking. You can't just start it on your phone. This is done for safety reasons, but if you want it to start while you're away, you can set a delayed start in the app.

I followed the app's step-by-step directions to make a whole chicken, and the recipe was accurate. Plus, the cooker browned the chicken well prior to pressure cooking it.

The Chef iQ Smart Cooker made rice with a nearly perfect texture in under 20 minutes (including building pressure). The only area where the cooker stumbled was making pulled pork. After the slow and pressure cooking, the meat wasn't tender enough to shred easily. I was surprised by this so I pressure cooked another batch, and the results were the same. I'd recommend adding an extra 10 minutes to the cooking time for easier shredding.

Smart Cooker (button) Best multitasking electric pressure cooker

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, air fryer, and sous vide machine all in one, making it one of the most useful and economical small appliances we tested.

  • Capacity: 8 quarts
  • Inner pot material: Stainless steel 
  • Settings: pressure cook, saute, slow cooker, steam, sous vide, air fry, roast, bake, broil, dehydrate, keep warm
  • Number of included recipes: 100s in the free Instant Pot app (available for iOS and Android)
  • Extras: Air fryer lid, air fryer basket, heat-resistant pad for lid, broil/dehydrate tray, steam rack 

Pros: Features air frying and sous vide cooking options, comes with an app with 100s of recipes, easy to set up and use, cooks rice in under 20 minutes

Cons: Tended to build pressure and heat up slowly, didn't sear well

Sure, multicookers can be used to perform a variety of tasks. That's why they're called "multicookers". But, some of today's models can do more than the usual pressure cooking, slow cooking, and sauteing. We tested three units that could either air fry or sous vide, but only the Instant Pot Duo Crisp Pressure Cooker could do both. 

The Duo Crisp comes with two lids: one for the usual multicooker activities and another with a built-in fan for air frying. And, an air fryer basket fits in the inner pot to allow for better airflow and flavorful browning. We air fried frozen French fries and were impressed with how quickly they were ready and how crispy they tasted.

When sous vide cooking, the Instant Pot was slow to get the water bath up to temp, but the resulting steak was tender and perfectly done. 

Setting up the Duo Crisp was effortless, though if you're new to air frying or sous vide cooking, you may want to take a minute to look at the user manual to ensure you set it up correctly.

In our standard cooking tests, the Duo Crisp was one of two models to cook rice in under 20 minutes, and the finished product had a good texture, was sticky, and wasn't too dry. The pressure cooker pork and beans also came out nearly perfect, though both took a little longer to build pressure than average. And, the slow cooker pork was a little harder to shred than we would have liked.

Lastly, the "perfect seared chicken" recipe we tested from the Instant Pot app was less than perfect. First, the pot didn't sear the chicken well. It didn't get the nice crust that we look for. The pressure build took the longest of any model post-sear, and though the results were flavorful, the chicken was dry.

Duo Crisp Pressure Cooker with Air Fryer (8 Qt) (button) What else we tested

We tested 11 electric pressure cookers for this guide. These are the ones that missed the cut.

What else we recommend and why:

Zavor LUX LCD ($174.95): Professional chef and chocolatier Anne Wolf liked this model when working at America's Test Kitchen. It has more than 30 programmable settings, including sous vide, and an easy-to-read LCD display. In our tests, it was easy to set up and use. It was quick to build pressure and made juicy, easy-to-shred pulled pork. However, we weren't as impressed with its bean cooking and meat searing. 

Ninja Foodi XL Pressure Cooker ($179): The Ninja Foodi rose to prominence as the first multicooker to feature air frying, and we almost made it our multitasking pick, but we chose the Instant Pot Duo Crisp because it also does sous vide. Yet, if you have no interest in sous vide, consider the Foodi, which did a great job searing, slow cooking, and pressure cooking delicious meals, though it took longer than most units to build pressure.

Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 80 ($139.95): The Duo Evo Plus's stay-cool handles built into the inner pot set it apart from other multicookers. Usually, you need to grab potholders to lift a multicooker's pot out, but that's not the case with this model. It also keeps the pot in place when you stir the contents. The screen is packed full of info, including several preset programs. It didn't make our guide because it didn't do better than average at any cooking task and was one of the worst at rice and slow-cooker pork.

Instant Pot Duo Plus ($119.95): This is the favorite Instant Pot of The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook author Jeffrey Eisner. We liked how easy it is to use and that it has sous vide cooking. It also did a great job of making tender, juicy pulled pork. However, it was slower than most of the other models at building pressure, which adds to cooking times. And, the sear didn't produce the golden brown crust we were looking for. Still, if you're looking for an affordable multicooker that can do sous vide, this is a great pick.

What we don't recommend and why:

GoWise USA 14-Quart ($130.67): We were interested in this model because it's larger than anything else we tested. We wondered if it could still perform well. It didn't. The controls are confusing, it takes longer to build pressure, it didn't sear well, and the included recipes were designed for GoWise USA's smaller multicookers. Still, it did well pressure cooking pork and rice. 

Crock-Pot Express Oval Max ($129.99): This was the only multicooker we tested that had an oval inner pot. We only found this useful for fitting longer cuts of meat and keeping the pot from spinning when stirring. However, it was slow to build pressure, didn't sear well, and the included recipes weren't accurate. 

Instant Pot Ultra ($134.99): The only positive we could find with the IP Ultra is it was easy to set up and use. Other than that, the performance was subpar. It was among the slowest to build pressure in every test. It did an okay job searing, but the chicken from the included recipe was dry and flavorless. If you want an Instant Pot, you'll be happier with any of the other models we tested.

Our pressure cooker testing methodology Here are the main attributes we looked for and how we tested them:

Setup: I timed how quickly I was able to get the cooker set up and building pressure from the moment I opened the box. I also noted whether I was able to do this without looking at the instructions or if the controls were confusing. Most units took five minutes or less to set up.

Pressurizing: Many pressure cooker recipes look like they won't take long, but few factor in the time it takes for the unit to build pressure. A cooker that builds pressure quickly is a real timesaver. I tested how long it took each model to get up to pressure with just four cups of water inside. I also tracked how long the pressure build took during all of the cooking tests. I gave more favorable scores to cookers that built pressure quickly.

Performance: I put each multicooker through five cooking tests:

  • Pressure-cooked pulled pork: I cooked about 3.5 pounds of pork butt on high pressure for an hour. After a 10-minute natural release followed by a quick release, I removed the pork and noted how easy it was to shred and how it tasted.
  • Slow-cooked pulled pork: To test the slow-cooking capabilities, I cooked about 3.5 pounds of pork butt on low for 10 hours. Then, I removed the pork and noted how easy it was to shred and how it tasted.
  • Rice: I added a cup of jasmine rice and a cup of water to each unit and selected the rice function. If there was no rice function, I used the basic recipe from The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook. In addition to noting the total cooking time, I tasted each batch to judge the texture, chew, and stickiness. I also judged how uniformly the rice was cooked.
  • Beans: I combined one pound of pinto beans and two quarts of water in each unit and selected the bean function, if there wasn't a bean function, I used the recipe from The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook. In addition to noting the cooking time, I tasted each batch to judge the texture and uniformity.
  • Included recipe: To determine the accuracy of the recipes included with each unit, I picked out one recipe that featured chicken, pressure cooking, and sauteing so I could test the cookers' searing function. I judged how uniform and close to golden brown the sear was, and how the food tasted.

Additional functions: Three of the units I tested featured sous vide cooking, and two had air frying capabilities. To test the sous vide, I cooked a NY Strip at 129 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours and assessed how tender and flavorful it was. All sous vide cookers performed well. For air frying, I cooked a pound of Ore-Ida Extra Crispy Fast Food French Fries at 400 degrees for eight minutes — shaking the basket halfway through — and judged the doneness.

To keep waste to a minimum, I donated most of the pulled pork my family didn't eat to a local restaurant. And, extra rice and beans went to feed the pigs at a local farm.

What we look forward to testing

We're always testing new electric pressure cookers and retesting our top picks to determine the best ones. Here's what we're looking forward to testing for potential inclusion in this guide:

Instant Pot Smart Wifi ($149.99): We want to expand our testing of smart multicookers. A smart Instant Pot is an obvious choice. We're curious to see if the smart connectivity really improves the user experience or if it's more of a gimmicky afterthought.

Instant Pot Duo Nova ($99.99): The Duo Nova is designed with the beginner home chef in mind. The lid automatically seals when pressure cooking, and it displays the progress of the pressure build. We want to see exactly how user-friendly this model is.

GoWise USA Ovate ($117.54): We're interested in seeing if GoWise USA has figured out the oval multicooker puzzle. This model has a nonstick pot with built-in, cool-touch handles. At 8.5 quarts, it's bigger than most, but hopefully, it can perform better than the disappointing GoWise USA 14-quart behemoth we tested.

Breville Fast Slow Pro ($279.95): I was not able to get a sample of this pricey multicooker for this update. It features eight pressure levels ranging from 1.5 to 12 psi. You can also release the pressure with the press of a button on the front control panel, which makes it easier to stay out of harm's way.

FAQs How do electric pressure cookers work?

Dating back to the 1600s, pressure cooking involves using heat and pressure to cook food more quickly. Prior to the Instant Pot revolutionizing the industry, pressure cookers were non-electric stovetop devices. But, Instant Pot changed that with its countertop electric version. 

In order for pressure to build in the cooker, the pot needs to have sufficient liquid (check your unit's user manual for how much) and the lid must be airtight. The steam created from the heated liquid causes the pressure to build and permits for higher cooking temperatures and thus faster cooking.

Once you're done cooking, you must first release the pressure before removing the lid. This is a step that varies by model so consult your multicooker's user manual for how to safely do this.

Are electric multicookers safe?

For the most part, today's electric pressure cookers are safe. However, you still need to be careful. 

Many people are afraid to use electric pressure cookers because they have heard stories of them exploding on the stove. That was a problem with the old stovetop models, but there are several safety mechanisms that minimize the chance of this happening with modern electric cookers.

"I was never concerned about a multicooker exploding on the countertops," said chef and chocolatier Anne Wolf

Jeffrey Eisner, author of The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook agreed. "If you're going to compare pressure cookers from back in the day when they were on stovetops to today's that are electric and have locking, a big difference is today's lids will stay securely on top," said Eisner. "I feel comfortable using them, and I've never been afraid. I've never had any issues personally."

However, today's electric pressure cookers are not without their risks. "I did find that it's easy to burn yourself on the steam when you're doing a quick release," said Wolf. "So, there's some burn risk."

The best way to minimize the burn risk when releasing the pressure is to use a wood spoon or other long utensil to engage the lever that opens the vent. The steam always comes from the top so make sure you are not standing over the cooker when releasing the steam.

From using a pressure cooker for years and following the Instant Pot community on Facebook, one of the most common dangers I've seen is people using their multicooker on a stove and accidentally turning the burner on. Every brand warns against putting your cooker on the stove for this reason. So, I'm warning you. You're unlikely to get hurt, but it could make a big mess.

What size electric pressure cooker should you get?

"The sizes that I've seen are three quarts, six quarts, eight quarts, and now 10 quarts, which is enormous," said Eisner. "I always suggest getting the six-quart, even if you're just a family of two up to a family of six. The three-quart is good for maybe a single person, but it's limited. One of the best things you can make in an Instant Pot is a roast. But, you're going to have trouble in a three-quart model because it's so tiny. So, I always suggest going with a six-quart. Start with a six-quart, see how much you love your pot, and then, from there, people typically start to get addicted to it, and they'll get a larger size, like an eight-quart."

Many of the models in our guide come in several sizes. All except one of the models we tested was either six or eight quarts, the two most popular sizes. We didn't notice any significant differences in cooking time or food quality between the sizes.

Do Instant Pot recipes work in any multicooker?

Most of the testing for this guide was done using recipes from Eisner's The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook, which was developed using a variety of Instant Pot-brand electric pressure cookers. In our testing, we didn't find any difference in how well the recipes turned out in off-brand pressure cookers versus Instant Pots. The recipes appear to translate well across brands.

Though Eisner has never used another brand, he says his recipes work in non-Instant Pot multicookers. "I've had people write to me who have other brands," said Eisner. "And, they say the recipes in my book work just fine for them."

Which is better: a stainless steel or nonstick inner pot?

This is a matter of personal preference. All of the Instant Pots we tested featured stainless steel inner pots, while all of the other brands had nonstick. Stainless steel inner pots are great because they are dishwasher safe, heat evenly, and you can use metal utensils in them without fear of scratching the nonstick surface. On the other hand, it's harder to remove stuck-on debris from stainless steel.

Nonstick inner pots are great because your food is less likely to stick to the inside, and thus, it's easier to clean. Though it varies by brand, many nonstick pots are also dishwasher safe, but we recommend washing by hand to increase the longevity of the nonstick coating. The biggest negatives with nonstick pots are that they don't heat as evenly as stainless steel, and metal utensils can scratch them. We did not find there was a difference in cooking times or quality based on pot type.

What's the difference between quick release and natural release?

Quick release and natural release are the two main ways to release steam from your electric pressure cooker once you're done cooking. Quick release involves moving the steam release valve to vent to instantly allow the steam to escape. Once the pin near the valve drops, the pressure has been released, and it's safe to remove the lid.

With natural release, you don't release the steam immediately. Instead, you allow the pressure to decrease on its own. Again, you can open the lid once the pin drop indicates that the pressure is at a safe level. Many recipes call for a 10-minute natural release followed by a quick release. In general, we recommend following the recipe you're using for best results, though, as you get more experienced with the quirks of your cooker, you may want to make slight adjustments.

There's a third, less-common release method known as a pulse or controlled release. This involves releasing the pressure in short bursts by opening and closing the vent.

However you choose to release the steam, be careful! We recommend using a nice long wooden spoon to trigger the release mechanism so you're far from the steam when it's released. Also, never stand over the multicooker when releasing the steam. Releasing the steam is probably the most dangerous part of using an electric pressure cooker.

The best deals on pressure cookers from this guide

Instant Pot multicookers are some of our readers' favorite products. These appliances can perform a myriad of different functions, make a wide variety of meals, and are surprisingly easy to use. 

Due to their popularity, these products go on sale frequently. The Instant Pot Duo, for instance, is usually $10 less than retail price for most of the year. The best deals and all-time lows crop up during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day, with some of our picks seeing discounts of $40 or more.

But it can often be difficult to judge what's a good price to pay. To make shopping a little easier, we've compiled all of the best deals on the Instant Pots we recommend.

There are currently no deals on our recommended pressure cookers. For more chances to save, check out our best online sales and deals happening now and the best deals happening on Amazon.

Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.

Check out our other small appliance guides Read the original article on Business Insider

Democrats failing to pass the latest voting rights bill will be a 'make-or-break moment' for filibuster reform, according to progressive activists

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 3:54pm
Virginia Shadron, of Atlanta, holds an anti-filibuster sign with the face of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of R-Ky., on it, during a rally in support of voting rights, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
  • Senate Republicans all blocked a major voting rights bill for the 2nd time this year.
  • Progressive activists are hoping it'll be a make-or-break moment for filibuster reform.
  • "Democrats can have the filibuster, or they defend our democracy," one advocate said.

Progressive activists are hoping the Senate Republicans blocking debate on a major voting rights bill for the second time this year will trigger a critical "make-or-break moment" within the Democratic Party that will push forward reforms to the modern-day Senate filibuster.

All 50 GOP Senators filibustered the Freedom to Vote Act, a wide-ranging Democratic voting rights and election reform bill, on Wednesday. Democrats and activists have described the legislation as Congress' last chance to quash a rise in new laws in GOP-controlled states that tighten voting rules and give partisan lawmakers more control over election administration.

Republicans have criticized the bill as a massive federal overreach into states' authority to run their own elections, and, despite Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's attempts to get his GOP colleagues on board, none voted to proceed to debate on it.

"There is no doubt that it will be a make-or-break moment for Senate Democrats and our democracy," Eli Zupnick, spokesperson for Fix Our Senate, told reporters on a Tuesday call with filibuster reform advocates. "Despite Senator Manchin's good-faith outreach, there are simply aren't 10 Republicans willing to work with Democrats on this. Senate Democrats can have the filibuster, or they defend our democracy. There is no third option, and we're running out of time."

The current filibuster rules require a three-fifths majority to advance to debate on most legislation, creating an uphill battle to passing much of President Joe Biden administration's non-economic agenda in a Senate split between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans. Progressives see it as an archaic rule rooted in racism that today contributes to gridlock and dysfunction. Sen. Joe Manchin tried and failed to get Senate Republicans on board with expansive voting rights legislation.

Aside from eliminating the rules altogether, some have suggested lowering the threshold to be able to pass voting rights and other civil rights legislation with a simple majority. Other proposals include returning to the talking filibuster or requiring 41 Senators to physically be on the Senate floor to block debate on legislation.

But Manchin and Sen. Krysten Sinema of Arizona have argued that the current filibuster rules foster bipartisanship by forcing the parties to work together, and that Democrats lowering the filibuster threshold to pass certain legislation with a simple majority would come back to bite them when Republicans retake control of the chamber.

But progressives say that Democrats shouldn't assume that the filibuster will always be there to rein in the other party, with Zupnick going as far to call it "a dead rule walking."

"I think the worst-case scenario for us is to not pass the things we can pass when Democrats are in power in the hopes of preserving this defensive tool, and then having Republicans get rid of it as soon as it stands in their way and passing the bad things we're afraid of anyway," Adam Jentleson, executive director of Battle Born Collective and author of "Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate," told Insider.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, left, described his own "evolution" on the filibuster. 'Democracy is more important than a Senate rule.'

Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats and was initially skeptical of filibuster reform, described his own "evolution" on the issue during a recent call with reporters

"It's a tough question. I don't think it's an easy call at all. All the predictions are that the Republicans will take over the Senate in two years has to be reckoned with," he told Insider during the call on Tuesday. "But the alternative is to allow these voter restriction laws and the changing of the mechanics in the legislature to go forward, and then you're stuck with the results. I think I've come down and decided that democracy is is more important than a Senate rule."

Democrats are running out of time to make the most of their precarious legislative trifecta before 2022, an election year during which there will be far less political will to pass massive legislative packages.

The White House has put the bulk of its political muscle behind passing the parts Biden's agenda it could secure enough bipartisan support for to avoid the filibuster (like the bipartisan infrastructure bill) or can pass on a party-line basis using the budget reconciliation process, like the Build Back Better Act.

The rush to pass both components of Biden's economic agenda will likely to push filibuster reform to the back burner, but activists remain hopeful that Manchin will shift his thinking on the issue.

"The reality of this world is that Build Back Better will consume massive amounts of oxygen as long as it's left undone," Jentleson said. "But I think that this vote is a necessary part of the process that Senator Manchin is going through."

"At the very least, it'll be a marker along the path towards eventual reform," he added. "Having this vote, having it fail, and showing that there are not 10 Republicans who are not willing to come forward and save our democracy is an important and necessary part of the process."

President Joe Biden delivers a speech on voting rights at the National Constitution Center, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Philadelphia. 'A Nixon-going-to-China moment.'

Beyond the halls of the Senate, democracy activists' patience with the White House is wearing increasingly thin.

Their frustrations stem largely from the disconnect between Biden describing the new GOP election laws as "the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War" and his failure to endorse procedural changes to address it on the federal level.

On Tuesday, the White House said they would continue to press for federal election reform "through legislation, executive actions, outreach, the bully pulpit, and all other means available" - but made no mention of the filibuster.

Jentleson argued that the White House's hands are less tied than then they may seem due to the significant authority Biden holds over matters concerning the Senate, where he served for 36 years.

"For Joe Biden to come out in support of filibuster reform would be a Nixon-going-to-China moment on this issue," he said. "He has unique levels of credibility on this, and I think would be able to persuade recalcitrant Senators in a way that few other people in our political system could do."

Read the original article on Business Insider

State-level erosion of election integrity is an urgent threat to American democracy, and Congress is largely helpless to stop it

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 3:52pm
In this Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 file photo, Voters stand in line outside a polling station, on Election Day in Mesa, Ariz.
  • The 2022 midterms begin in just a few months, and American democracy is in for a big stress test.
  • GOP state legislatures are asserting more control over the election administration process.
  • Advocates say any legislation from Congress wouldn't address many of the most pressing issues.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

American democracy is facing a crucial stress test when primaries for the 2022 midterms start in just a few months, but Congress is severely limited in the kind of legislation it can pass to sufficiently shore up election laws against critical new threats ahead of time.

Senate Republicans on Wednesday filibustered the Freedom To Vote Act, a wide-ranging voting rights and election reform package. Despite efforts by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to get his GOP colleagues on board, Senate Republicans denounced the measure as a federal election takeover and all 50 moved to block debate on the bill.

The legislation was billed as a voting rights measure with massive expansions of voter registration and voting options, and its defeat will be framed as a blow to voting rights. Progressives cast the Freedom To Vote Act and its predecessor, the even larger-in-scope For the People Act, as essential to saving American democracy from voter suppression and anti-democratic threats.

But even if they somehow survived the filibuster, neither piece of legislation would steer American democracy away from a crash course with what scholars have deemed election subversion, which includes the normalization of attacks on officials and blatant attempts by Republicans to discredit results.

"What we call election subversion has received the least amount of attention, but is actually more the most fundamental aspect that we should be focusing on protecting," Sarah Walker, executive director of election policy nonprofit organization Secure Democracy, told Insider.

In the lead-up to the 2020 election and in its aftermath, election officials around the country experienced a dramatic rise in harassment, violent threats, and attacks on the integrity of the elections they run from conservative politicians and media figures with powerful megaphones.

A recent analysis from the Voting Rights Lab has identified over well over 100 proposals introduced in GOP state legislatures in 2021, 36 of which have been enacted, that change not just how people vote but affect who conducts their elections and counts their votes.

They include 17 states where partisan legislators have introduced bills giving them more control of election administration and certification, seven where lawmakers have pushed for post-election ballot reviews, and 16 where lawmakers have introduced bills that subject election officials to new criminal and civil penalties.

Such bills have already been signed into law in key battlegrounds like Iowa, Georgia, Florida, and Texas.

In this Nov. 3, 2020, file photo, northern Nevadans wait to vote in-person at Reed High School in Sparks, Nev., A 'county whack-a-mole.'

Unlike the For the People Act, drafted before the 2020 election, the Freedom to Vote Act includes provisions seeking to beat back some of those new trends at the state level.

The newer provisions would prohibit local election officials from being fired or removed without cause, make harassing and threatening election workers a federal crime, and add new penalties for intimidating or deceiving voters.

The bill also includes some modest provisions taking aim at post-election examinations like the the Trump-endorsed one Republican lawmakers conducted in Maricopa County, Arizona, which has spurred GOP leaders in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Texas to relitigate the 2020 election 11 months later.

But Walker told Insider the reforms in the bill wouldn't stop much of the state-level election subversion and likely wouldn't go into effect in time to affect the midterms.

"While the federal legislation is extremely important, there's two things we know. Number one, in the event the Freedom to Vote Act passes, the chances that it will be implemented in time for the primary elections or the 2020s could be very limited," Walker said.

"The other thing I think we're seeing is that there are a lot of creative ways of subversion that are not able to be addressed in this federal bill, and still need state-level consideration," Walker said.

She noted that the bill can't block all the various forms of "sham audits," like the one in Arizona, or the underlying impulse to sow doubt in the integrity of election outcomes.

The patchwork-like nature of elections in the US, which are mainly administered and certified by officials at the local level, makes combatting subversion difficult, Walker said.

"The county whack-a-mole is a real reality, but it's also why states need to adopt their own policies and practices that do things like protect election administrators and put guardrails on unending audits," she said.

The Voting Rights Lab report also warned that "many of the state laws passed this session would not be addressed by the Freedom to Vote Act...or any federal legislation to come - making continued vigilance and activism on the state level all the more important."

Election officials huddle around a table as absentee ballots are processed at the central counting board, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Detroit 2022 could foreshadow risk of 'a bloodless coup.'

There are multiple ways that attempts to undermine democratic election results have metastasized outside of Congress' control.

There has been a broad shift in the US political culture over the past decade, one which firmly took root in 2020 and was recently on display in the California gubernatorial recall, that has led to conservative political candidates pushing baseless claims of voter fraud and pre-ordaining their election losses as illegitimate.

Congress does not have the power to stop the growing number of Trump-endorsed Republican candidates who have pushed 2020 election lies from running for important statewide offices responsible for overseeing elections and certifying election results.

It can't also stop 2020 election deniers from shaping local politics and local election administration by occupying little-noticed but influential precinct officer positions, a trend ProPublica has recently documented.

The next round of elections could also reveal a dramatic shift in the role of the courts.

Rick Hasen, a leading election law scholar at the University of California Irvine, warned in a recent essay of the risk of a "bloodless coup dependent upon technical legal arguments overcoming valid election results" in 2024.

Hasen noted that at least four justices on the Supreme Court have warmed to the legal philosophy, known as the independent state legislature doctrine, underpinning the Trump campaign's and its allies' unsuccessful attempts to block certification of and reverse election results in several swing states.

"Lawyers in fine suits making legalistic arguments are much more appealing than desperate lawyers making unsubstantiated claims of ballot box stuffing and other chicanery," Hasen wrote.

Vice President Mike Pence presides over a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 Electoral College results after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol earlier in the day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. 'A test of our democracy.'

In a January 3 memo written for Trump's legal team, conservative lawyer John Eastman conjured a scenario where seven states that voted for Biden sent "alternate" slates of electors for Trump based on non-existent widespread fraud.

Then, according to Eastman's theory, Pence would simply discard the Electoral Count Act of 1887 as unconstitutional and appoint himself the ultimate arbiter of which electoral votes to count to overturn Biden's 306-232 Electoral College victory.

While Eastman's effort may seem outlandish, it likely won't be the last of its kind. Hasen argued in his essay that the undermining of democracy doesn't just come from legislatures failing to impose safeguards to the electoral process, but from political actors disregarding them for their own ends.

Eastman did just that at the end of his memo, writing, "BOLD, Certainly. But this Election was Stolen by a strategic Democrat plan to systematically flout existing election laws for partisan advantage."

If 2020 was a "dress rehearsal" for 2024, as Hasen has put it, the 2022 midterms will offer a preview of the future of election integrity in America.

"2022 is going to be a test of our democracy," Walker told Insider. "And I think that whether or not more proactive policies that protect our democratic infrastructure happen at the federal or state level, the reality is as many of them won't be implemented in time."

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 3 best electric skillets we tested in 2021

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 3:50pm

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  • A good electric skillet heats and cooks quickly and evenly and is easy to use and clean.
  • We cooked fried chicken, hamburgers, and pancakes in six electric skillets to find the best.
  • The Zojirushi Gourmet d'Expert is our top pick with its user-friendly features and even cooking.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Electric skillets are one of the most underrated kitchen appliances. If you live in a dorm, tiny home, RV, or just don't have access to a stove, an electric skillet comes in handy for an array of cooking tasks. In addition to sautéing and pan-frying, a skillet is useful for deep frying, browning meats, and griddle cooking. You can even find recipes for baking cakes and other treats in electric skillets. While working on this guide, I frequently referenced and enjoyed The Sensational Skillet Cookbook.

Even if you have a spacious kitchen with several burners, it's smart to keep an electric skillet around when the summer heat makes using the stove unbearable, when kitchen space is at a premium during the holidays, or when you just want to keep your food warm at a potluck.

For this guide, I fried 15 pounds of chicken thighs and eight pounds of burgers, and made more than 50 pancakes in six electric skillets.

I have reviewed kitchen appliances for four years and have developed many objective tests to determine which models are best for different budgets and cooking needs. You can find details about how I test electric skillets here.

Here are the best electric skillets of 2021 Best electric skillet overall

The Zojirushi Gourmet d'Expert Electric Skillet comes with two pans and a steamer, has a user-friendly design, and did the best job of heating evenly in our tests.

  • Cooking surface area: 10.5 x 3 inches
  • Overall dimensions: 17.5 x 15 x 5.5 inches (7.5 with lid)
  • Heat range: 176 to 480 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cord length: 78 inches
  • Chicken thigh capacity: 5
  • Hamburger capacity: 5
  • Pancake capacity: 4
  • Dishwasher safe: No
  • Materials: Titanium-ceramic nonstick-coated

Pros: Heats evenly, comes with two pans and a steamer, user-friendly controls, easy to clean, a long cord that detaches easily for safety, produces delicious and evenly-cooked fried chicken, burgers, and pancakes

Cons: Small cooking surface

Several features set the Zojirushi Gourmet d'Expert Electric Skillet (model EP-RAC50) apart from other skillets we tested. First of all, it comes with two pans: a deeper pan for soup-type foods, including hot pots, and a flatter plate for frying and grilling. The set also includes a tempered glass lid and vented steamer. 

The skillet comes with a long cord that detaches when something pulls on it, so it's hard to send the skillet's contents flying across your kitchen accidentally.

The setup was intuitive and took about five minutes. And, the Gourmet d'Expert has user-friendly controls. You simply move the slider on the face of the unit to the temperature you want. In contrast, the other models we tested relied on poorly-placed dials. 

I was impressed with the even heating of the Zojirushi. While the other models were hotter around the heating element — exhibiting a telltale dark ring in our flour test — the heating element location wasn't as evident with the Gourmet d'Expert as the flour darkened more evenly.

The Zojirushi skillet did a good job of cooking fried chicken, burgers, and pancakes. While it was the slowest to heat oil, it was the fastest to cook the fried chicken, only 25 minutes. And, the skin was as evenly cooked and tasty as it gets. The meat was juicy with just the right amount of grease. Plus, the skillet produced a great sear on the burgers, and the pancakes cooked evenly and quickly. 

Cleanup was a snap. While the pan isn't dishwasher safe, you can remove it from the base to wash it by hand, and grime slid right off thanks to the nonstick coating.

The biggest negative with the Gourmet d'Expert is it's the smallest model we tested. It fit the fewest burgers, pancakes, and chicken thighs. 

While I would have liked to take Zojirushi's corporate social responsibility (CSR) rating into account during my evaluation, the company did not provide the info I requested. If that changes, I will update this guide accordingly.

Gourmet d'Expert Electric Skillet (button) Best budget electric skillet

The Dash Family Size Rapid Heat Electric Skillet not only costs less than $50, but it heats quickly and has a large capacity.

  • Cooking surface area: 14 x 2.5 inches
  • Overall dimensions: 20 x 19 x 5 inches (7 with lid)
  • Heat range: Warm to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cord length: 38 inches
  • Chicken thigh capacity: 7
  • Hamburger capacity: 8
  • Pancake capacity: 5
  • Dishwasher safe: No
  • Materials: TruGlide PFOA-free, nonstick surface

Pros: Large capacity, fast preheating, produced outstanding burgers, simple design, lightweight, easy to store

Cons: Heats and cooks unevenly, not dishwasher safe

The Dash Family Size Rapid Heat Electric Skillet (model DRG214RD) is the only skillet under $50 that we recommend. It also has the largest capacity of the units we tested, fitting the most chicken thighs, burgers, and pancakes, making it ideal for families. 

The Dash skillet has a basic design and setup. The unit consists of the base with its built-in nonstick pan, a power cord with a dial control that plugs into the back, and a lid with a silicone ring to form a tight seal. Setup took about five minutes, and the only assembly was attaching the knob to the lid. 

The handles are large and easy to grip (even when greasy), and, as the name suggests, the Dash Rapid Heat Electric Skillet heats quickly. Unfortunately, that speed comes at the expense of even heat distribution. In the flour test, I could clearly see where the ring-shaped heating element was located. The patchy heating led to fast but uneven pancake cooking. And, some of the chicken started to burn in spots, while other pieces were still undercooked. However, the hamburgers were the most forgiving. The Dash skillet produced beautifully-seared burgers that tasted delicious.

In the months since first publishing this guide, I found the Dash skillet was what I reached for most often because of its large capacity and fast cooking.

Cleaning the skillet was a pain. It's big and isn't dishwasher safe. Fortunately, it has a nonstick surface so debris comes right off, and the unit is lightweight, making it easy to move around and store.

Dash is a subsidiary of Groupe SEB, which has a strong record of social responsibility. For more info about how we evaluate CSR, see our testing methodology.

Family Size Rapid Heat Electric Skillet (button) Best electric skillet for frying

At just a few dollars more than our budget pick, the Presto Electric Foldaway Skillet did an outstanding job of frying chicken and cooking pancakes in our tests, and it folds up for easy storage.

  • Cooking surface area: 14.5 x 10.5 x 2.75 inches
  • Overall dimensions: 20 x 12 x 6 inches (8 with lid)
  • Heat range: Warm to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cord length: 31 inches
  • Chicken thigh capacity: 6
  • Hamburger capacity: 6
  • Pancake capacity: 4
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes, but the user manual advises against it if you want the nonstick coating to last
  • Materials: Heavy cast aluminum base with a phenolic nonstick surface

Pros: Did an outstanding job frying chicken and cooking pancakes, easy to clean and use, folds up for compact storage, features a pour spout

Cons: Cooked burgers slowly and unevenly, heats unevenly

Presto is arguably the biggest name in electric skillets. The company even published the most popular electric skillet cookbook on Amazon, the Eclectic Electric Skillet Cookbook. And, the Presto Electric Foldaway Skillet (model 06857) is one of the best-selling skillets with its unique design that folds up for compact storage, making it ideal for RVs or other tight quarters. Another unique feature is a pour spout on the rim to pour the pan's contents accurately.

The setup of the Presto Foldaway is a little more involved than most skillets since you need to clip the pan into the base, but it was easy to do without instructions, and the setup process only took five minutes.

The Presto skillet did an excellent job of making chicken and pancakes. The oil preheated in under seven minutes, and the fried chicken took 26 minutes to get to a safe internal temperature. The results were delicious. Pancakes took about three minutes and were cooked evenly.

The burgers didn't turn out as good. It took 10 minutes to cook them in the Presto Foldaway — longer than any other model — and they browned unevenly. The flour test more clearly revealed the uneven heating as a ring of darkened flour formed where the heating element was located.

Fortunately, cleaning the Presto Foldaway was easy since the pan detaches from the base. The pan is dishwasher safe, but Presto encourages washing by hand to prolong the life of the nonstick coating. I preferred washing it by hand anyway since the coating kept bits of debris from sticking.

Presto's parent company, National Presto Industries, may be problematic for some, with its low social responsibility ranking, lack of diversity in leadership roles, and production of warheads. For more info about how we evaluate CSR, see our testing methodology.

16-inch Electric Foldaway Skillet (button) What else we tested

We tested six electric skillets for this guide. These are the ones that didn't make the cut.

What else we recommend and why:

De'Longhi (model BG45, $54.99): We almost included the De'Longhi electric skillet in our guide, but it wasn't the best in any category. It does a great job cooking fried chicken, is dishwasher safe, and has a large cooking area for such a compact appliance. Plus, the company has an impressive 97% CSRHub ranking. However, it did not heat evenly, and other electric skillets made better pancakes and hamburgers. Still, this is a solid alternative if our top picks are out of stock.

What we don't recommend and why:

Cuisinart Stainless Steel Non-Stick (model CSK-150, $139.99): In the fried chicken test, the Cuisinart skillet was the fastest to heat the oil, and the resulting chicken was evenly cooked and delicious. And, since it's dishwasher safe, it's easy to clean. Those were about the only positives, though. The small handles made it easy to burn your hand on the hot pan accidentally, it didn't heat evenly, and the temperatures on the dial control appeared to be inaccurate. 

Presto Grey Ceramic (model 06856, $59.90): The Grey Ceramic skillet made excellent chicken and pancakes, like the Presto Foldaway skillet. However, it wasn't as easy to clean since the pan doesn't detach from the base, and it doesn't fold up for easy storage or have a pour spout. It also performed poorly in our flour test and didn't cook burgers evenly. Plus, we have concerns about National Presto Industries' CSR record.

Our testing methodology

We put each electric skillet in this guide through several objective tests. The most important factors to consider when buying an electric skillet are how evenly it heats and cooks and how easy it is to use and clean.

Here are the main attributes we consider and the ways we test for them:

Ease of use: I set up each unit without referencing the user manual to assess how easy they were to use. Even with some minor assembly, none of the skillets took more than 10 minutes to set up. I also examined how easy the handles were to grab barehanded when hot and covered with slippery cooking oil. The handles stayed cool on all of the models, but there were a few instances where the handles were small or poorly placed so that it was hard to avoid coming in contact with the hot pan. I also looked at special features that improved usability, such as a long power cord, easy storage, or a built-in pour spout.

Even heating: To test how evenly the skillets heated, I sprinkled 1/3 cup flour evenly over the cooking surface of each. Then, I turned the heat on high and closely watched the coloration of the flour. If the skillet heats evenly, all of the flour should darken at the same time. This didn't happen with any of the skillets. With every unit except our top pick, the flour darkened where the heating element was located under the pan.

Speed: I poured two cups of peanut oil into the skillet, cranked the heat, and timed how long it took the oil to reach 350 degrees Fahrenheit as measured with a probe thermometer. Most of the models took five to seven minutes. Only our top pick took a little longer — eight minutes and 30 seconds.

Cleaning process: I washed each of the electric skillets several times per the manufacturer's instructions and noted how difficult the cleaning process was. For the units that are dishwasher safe, I ran them through the dishwasher at least once. I found washing by hand to be more convenient than machine washing. The skillets hogged significant dishwasher space, and the nonstick surfaces made removing grime with a sponge reasonably easy. 

Cooking performance: I put the electric skillets through three cooking tests.

  • Fried chicken: I preheated two cups of peanut oil and filled each skillet with as many chicken thighs (coated with gluten-free flour and Tajín Clásico Seasoning) as I could fit without crowding. I timed how long it took for the chicken to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, I assessed how evenly the chicken cooked and how good it tasted.
  • Hamburgers: After preheating the skillets, I added as many quarter-pound patties as I could fit without crowding and timed how long it took them to reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Once done, I assessed how even the sear was and how the burger tasted.
  • Pancakes: I made pancake batter from Krusteaz mix and scooped quarter-cup dollops onto the preheated and bacon-greased skillets. I timed how long it took the pancakes to cook through. Then, I rated how evenly the pancakes cooked based on taste and appearance.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR): I assessed how socially responsible the manufacturers of each skillet are based on information the organizations provided and my research. I considered environmental initiatives and whether the companies are engaged in any questionable practices. I looked at data from sites like CSRHub and Glassdoor to get a sense of diversity in leadership and employee satisfaction. Since it's virtually impossible to collect consistent data across all companies, I didn't weigh this attribute heavily. Still, I did note any information that consumers may want to know before supporting a company.

What we look forward to testing

We're constantly testing new electric skillets and retesting our top picks to determine the best ones. Here's what we're looking forward to testing for potential inclusion in this guide:

Zojirushi d'Expert Electric Skillet for Yin Yang Hot Pot (model EP-PFC20, $174.99): This is a new skillet from the makers of our top overall pick. It appears to have the same size and design as the EP-RAC50; only the two pans are different. One is deep and divided to make it ideal for a hot pot. The other has a grill-like surface for achieving grill marks.

Bella Ceramic Titanium (model 14607, $45.43): Featuring a copper ceramic-titanium coating on cast aluminum, we're curious to see how durable and even heating this is. It's on the smaller side, so it might be a good solution if you're cooking for one.

Nesco (model ES-08, $26.59): This model costs less than half as much as our top budget pick, and at eight inches square (per the manufacturer), it's quite a bit smaller than any unit we tested. It seems like it could be a good option for college kids living in kitchen-less dorms. 

Electric skillet FAQs What can I cook in an electric skillet?

Electric skillets are underrated, versatile appliances that can make a broad range of foods. You can use an electric skillet for cooking all of your breakfast favorites, including crispy bacon, hash browns, eggs, pancakes, French toast, and more. You can use it to toast bread, which I like to do with bacon grease for added flavor.

You can simmer soups, chilis, and chowders in an electric skillet, but you'll want to keep the heat low and stir often to avoid burning. And I've found it's fun to use an electric skillet to cook right on the dining room table. For instance, you can make fondue or have a non-traditional hibachi grilling experience.

You can also use an electric skillet for baking cakes, cookies, and pies, making pizza, and cooking one-pot pasta dishes (like lasagna or spaghetti) and casseroles. Anything you can bake, fry, deep fry, sauté, simmer, boil, steam, or slow cook you can make in an electric skillet. When you purchase one, I recommend picking up some cookbooks as well. The two I use are The Sensational Skillet Cookbook and Electric Skillet Cookbook Complete.

Check out our other great cookware guides Read the original article on Business Insider

The best men's undershirts to soak up sweat and protect your clothing

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 3:48pm

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  • A great undershirt will prevent you from walking around in a sweat-soaked top.
  • The best undershirts are close-fitting, don't lose shape, and come in diverse materials.
  • We've rounded up the best undershirts for comfort, sweat protection, budget, and more.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

It really doesn't matter if your wardrobe is sporty, casual, formal, or a mash-up of all kinds of clothing, good undershirts are an important part of getting dressed. The primary purpose of an undershirt is to absorb your body's sweat as the first layer of clothing - and this is beneficial for a few key reasons.

It's good for the long-term care of your garments. The right undershirt will save your clothing from sweat, deodorant, and other stains from being in direct contact with your skin. An undershirt is also important for your style and comfort. A sweat-soaked T-shirt or a dress shirt with wet armpits has never been a flattering, or comfortable, look.

We've done the research and smoked out the best undershirts for men that you can buy today. Undershirts are fairly straightforward pieces of clothing, but we've made sure that our top picks cover a range of different styles, fabrics, and price points so you can find the right one for your tastes and budget. Not sure how an undershirt should fit? We have a handy section on that.

Here are the best men's undershirts of 2021: The best men's undershirt overall

Tommy John has a collar that stays flat, fits closely to your body, and never comes untucked.  

Second Skin Crew Neck Stay-Tucked Undershirt 2.0 (3 pack) (small)

Sizing options: S-4XL

To be honest, I gave up on T-shirt-style undershirts a long time ago because they're almost always ill-fitting at the collar, the sleeves become loose, and they rarely stay tucked in. But Tommy John's undershirts are the complete opposite. 

Close-fitting but not tight, they're long enough to stay comfortably tucked into your pants, and they almost disappear underneath your top layer of clothes.

While browsing, you'll find that Tommy John undershirts are available in two materials — Second Skin and Cool Cotton. I've tested and reviewed both and I can't say one is better than the other; it really depends on what you look for most in an undershirt, whether that's softness or breathability.

I especially like Tommy John's undershirts instead of basic tank tops when wearing dress shirts. They're more comfortable (which is important when you're already wearing not-so-comfortable dress clothes), they help prevent sweat stains on the armpits, and they're a lot less visible if you're wearing a white or light-colored shirt.  — Amir Ismael

The best deep V-neck undershirt

The All Citizen AirWeight Undershirt Deep V pairs perfectly with casual button-up shirts.

AirWeight Undershirt Deep V (small)

Sizing options: S-XL

Believe it or not, V-neck undershirts serve a purpose other than style: When sporting a button-up shirt, you can leave the top button undone while still hiding the shirt underneath. And if you're going for a super casual look with two or three buttons undone, you're going to need an even deeper V-neck.

All Citizens' AirWeight Undershirt is a solid choice because it offers the option of a standard V-neck or a deep V-neck. The shirt also features mesh zones on the sides for breathability, a stay-tucked length, and a soft microfiber feel on the skin.

The best men's undershirt to avoid sweat stains

The Thompson Tee V-neck is made from breathable fabric, has an underarm sweat guard, and is, undoubtedly, the last undershirt you'll ever need to buy.

Sweatproof V-Neck Undershirt (small)

Sizing options: XS-3XL

Managing sweat while being dressed up is an ever-present challenge (especially in a suit). However, the Thompson Tee is uniquely designed with a second layer — the "sweat pad" — to put some more material and distance between your skin and a nice shirt.

The trim cut is form-fitting and long enough to tuck, too, while the V-neck is suitably deep so it won't be peeking out from under your shirt collar. It's also woven from soft-combed cotton and the "sweat pads" are made from a bamboo-derived cotton and spandex blend for stretch and flexibility.

The best men's undershirt multi-pack

David Archy provides soft and lightweight undershirts at a great value. 

Micro Modal Undershirt (small)

Sizing options: S-XL

Although synthetic fabrics have a bad rap in the menswear scene, they do confer some advantages for certain pieces of clothing. Synthetics are durable, they dry quickly, and they're useful for garments where you want some stretch such as socks or athletic wear.

David Archy undershirts are made of a soft micro-modal fabric with a touch of spandex. It's thin and light without being transparent, although it's best to tumble dry these and then hang them up damp to air-dry rather than drying them with heat.

The V-neck is suitably deep and the David Archy shirts are slimmer than most other multi-pack undershirts from popular brands like Hanes, the cuts of which tend to be a bit boxier than most, but these undershirts don't have much of a taper in the body. You may want to consider sizing down if you're between sizes. The sleeves are also nice and slim-fitting so the material doesn't bunch up around your arms under your dress shirt.

Micro Modal Undershirt (button) The best men's undershirt on a budget

As a brand we all know and have probably worn, Hanes delivers variety and a great bang for your buck.

FreshIQ ComfortSoft White Crewneck Undershirt 6-Pack (small)

Sizing options: S-XL

What would a list of undershirts be without Hanes? In short, incomplete. As one of the most popular underwear brands, if not the most popular, Hanes has a huge assortment of all types of undergarments, including undershirts. If you're going for a classic T-shirt style rather than a tank top, the FreshIQ ComfortSoft Crewneck is what you'll want to buy, especially if you're on a budget. Each pack comes with six undershirts, making it the best bang for your buck.

Made from 100% preshrunk cotton, these Hanes undershirts are tagless, have lay-flat collars, and feature the brand's odor-resistant technology, FreshIQ.

Much like any budget-friendly pack of undershirts, they won't last forever, as they can potentially lose shape after a handful of wear and wash cycles. But at $19 for six, you can't really beat the price.

If you're looking for a basic white T-shirt, this is one you can actually pull off because it's not too form-fitting or too long, like some of the other undershirts on this list. — Amir Ismael

The best tank top men's undershirt

If you prefer tank tops over T-shirts, Hanes FreshIQ ComfortSoft Tanks are cheap and dependable.

FreshIQ Comfort Soft Tank 6-Pack (small)

Sizing options: M-XL

While T-shirt undershirts are best for preventing armpit stains under button-ups and dress shirts, tank top undershirts get the job done if you're only concerned with having a sweaty back and chest.

The Hanes FreshIQ ComfortSoft White Tank is a no-frills undershirt, but with no tags, soft preshrunk cotton, and moisture-wicking technology, it has everything you need. In line with all of Hanes' other products, the ComfortSoft tank tops are reasonably priced within everyone's budget. 

Although I regularly recommend skipping on low-cost underwear for pairs that have a better value (but are considerably more expensive), I haven't found any issues with Hanes tank tops that should deter you from buying them.

I usually wear more casual styles and don't need to worry about armpit stains on dress shirts, so tank tops are my personal preference when it comes to undershirts. I wear Hanes' on a daily basis and they hold up very well. — Amir Ismael

The best casual men's undershirt

The heather gray V-neck T-shirt from J.Crew is an undershirt that doubles as a casual tee. 

Broken-in Short Sleeve V-neck T-shirt (small)

Sizing options: XS-XXL

Undershirts are typically designed to be worn under collared shirts, but they're still essentially just T-shirts. This means that, so long as they're styled right, there's no reason you can't pop on an "undershirt" with a pair of jeans for a simple, basic outfit.

As one of the premier brands of casual men's style, it should come as no surprise that J. Crew made it into our list. This heather gray V-neck tee lives up to the brand's simple-yet-stylish design ethos. It features a tailored cut that's not baggy or restricting. It's slim enough to be an undershirt and made of soft combed cotton, too.

The V-neck is also deep enough that you can safely undo a button on your collared shirt, but it's not so low as to be unsuitable for casual wear. It's a no-nonsense, well-made, nicely-styled staple tee that'll get a lot of play in your rotation whether you're wearing it under a dress shirt or just pairing it with jeans or chinos.

How to choose an undershirt

Here are some quick guidelines to follow when selecting an undershirt that's right for you:

  • Keep it fitted. Your dress shirts should be trim, not baggy and blousy, and so it stands to reason that you don't want big, billowy undershirts, either. Many brands today are offering slimmer modern cuts for their clothing, and undershirts are no exception. Go with something more tailored or even opt for snug-fitting stretch undershirts which hug your torso like a glove.
  • Avoid white. White is probably the most common color for undershirts. It's also probably the worst. We've all seen it: The guy wearing a white or blue dress shirt with his white undershirt sleeves shining through like the sun. This is because white is a high contrast color that shows up easily under other materials. Play it safe and keep it gray. This low-contrast shade will blend in much more easily so you're not getting those unsightly "undershirt lines" under your dress shirt sleeves.
  • Go with a V-neck. People have a lot of opinions about men sporting V-necks for casual wear, but for undershirts, it's pretty much a requirement – especially if you're going sans necktie, which you'll probably do fairly often. Having the top of your undershirt peeking out behind your dress shirt collar screams "my mom made me wear a button-up shirt today," but a V-neck cut keeps it nicely out of view below the neckline. If you already have a bunch of crew-neck undershirts, relegate them to casual wear or toss them.
Check out our other menswear buying guides Read the original article on Business Insider

Trading app Public lists shiba inu coin on its trading platform as the Robinhood rival broadens crypto offerings

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 3:42pm
A shiba inu dog. Shutterstock
  • Crypto traders can now buy and sell shiba inu coin on trading app Public, the company said.
  • Public added cryptocurrency trading to its platform earlier this month.
  • Public users can trade multiple coins including bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, and dogecoin.

Public, a retail trading app, added shiba inu coin to its list of cryptocurrencies users can buy and sell on the platform.

The trading app added cryptocurrencies to its platform earlier this month, allowing users to invest as little as a dollar in digital assets including bitcoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash, dogecoin, litecoin, and cardano, among others.

The latest addition comes as shiba inu coin, inspired by dogecoin and its namesake dog breed, has been on an epic rally this month, thanks in part to hype from Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk. Even as shiba inu coin has deleted several zeros from its decimal, it's still worth just a fraction of a penny.

In an email to Insider, a spokesperson for Public said, "Because the prices of cryptos can be volatile in the short-term and tend to follow different patterns than stock market securities, Public will have Volatility Reminders on crypto pages to ensure investors can make their own decisions with context."

Users who already activated crypto trading in the app can begin buying and selling the token, Public said, adding that any user can view the shiba inu page to learn more about it. Apex Crypto provides execution and custody services for the app's crypto-trading feature, Insider reported previously.

Public, which launched in September 2019 as a more social investing app, has more than a million users and a market value of about $1.2 billion, according to the spokesperson. On its website, the firm says that it does not make money through payment for order flow, unlike rivals like Robinhood. It says eliminating PFOF from its business model in February was meant to align their interests with those of their users.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Janet Yellen is optimistic the US will still hit full employment next year, even though Delta crushed the hiring recovery

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 3:40pm
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen attends the House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington on September 30, 2021.
  • The US is still on track to reach full employment "next year," Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen said on MSNBC.
  • The unemployment rate fell to 4.8% in September, closing in on its pre-pandemic low of 3.5%.
  • Yet Americans are quitting their jobs at a record pace, and the labor shortage has slowed the pace of hiring.

Don't worry about the last few jobs reports. The US is still on track to hit full employment "next year," according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

The unemployment rate fell to 4.8% in September, down from the pandemic peak of 14.8% and closing in on the pre-crisis low of 3.5%. However, nearly 8 million Americans remain unemployed, and there are still more than 10 million job openings across the US.

Americans are quitting their jobs at a record rate of more than 4 million per month. Businesses continue to complain about hiring difficulties, and job creation stumbled last month, with the US adding just 194,000 new jobs. That was less than half the median forecast and signaled the Delta wave had dramatically slowed hiring.

Yellen reaffirmed her positive outlook, but noted the recovery won't be without its snags.

"The labor market in many ways is very tight," Yellen told MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle in an interview aired Wednesday. "We suffered ... a very, very unusual shock that has both put people out of work but also changed patterns of demand, shifting demand away from services like travels, staying in hotels, eating out at restaurants."

While the country has millions of jobs and workers to fill them, the two aren't matching up. Part of the mismatch comes from workers leaving low-paying service jobs in search of positions with higher pay and better working conditions.

While that transition might delay the return to full employment, it will yield benefits for years after the pandemic, Yellen said.

"This is something that we've wanted to accomplish for a long time," she added. "[Businesses] may have to pay more and that will be part of the adjustment. But this is something that's good for workers."

Yellen's boss has made similar remarks on the labor shortage. President Joe Biden posed higher pay as the solution to the labor shortage in June, whispering during a press conference that employers should "pay them more!"

Labor market data in the months since suggest firms listened. The average hourly wage has steadily outpaced forecasts and continues to climb at a faster pace than that seen before the pandemic.

Still, Yellen's hopes for a full recovery could be overly optimistic. For one, many thought the labor shortage would ease in September as schools reopened and enhanced unemployment benefits expired.

Other experts are considerably less hopeful than the Treasury Secretary. Updated economic projections the White House published in August showed the unemployment rate falling to 4% next year. The Federal Reserve's estimates see it dipping slightly to 4.6%. The median forecast from economists surveyed by Bloomberg see the rate only dropping to 4.2%.

Even if the unemployment rate returns to pre-crisis levels, that could only mark one milestone in the path toward recovery. While some sectors have fully recouped their lost jobs, those hit hardest by the pandemic are far from fully healed. The labor shortage could also linger as jobless Americans leverage their bargaining power for higher pay.

Yellen's forecast could come to fruition. But it might not look like the labor market of early 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

40 thoughtful, last-minute gifts that don't feel rushed

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 3:27pm

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We've all been there - holidays and birthdays are just around the corner, your schedule starts getting more chaotic, and you still haven't picked out a gift.

Whether it just slipped your mind or you decided to give a gift impromptu, we've got you covered. This list proves last-minute gift ideas can still be thoughtful and unique, from clever subscriptions to useful gift cards and everything in between.

Most of these can be e-mailed to the recipient just in time, while some are available at stores with two- or even one-day shipping. As a last resort, repurpose this clever hack to ensure they still have a gift to open.

Check out our 40 picks for last-minute gifts: A treat (or three) from Milk Bar

Desserts from Milk Bar, starting at $22

Who says they can't have birthday cake during the holidays? There are plenty of choices at Milk Bar, which is sure to be a hit.

Read our full review of Milk Bar here.

An arts and crafts subscription box

The Crafter's Box membership, available at The Crafter's Box, $65/month

Maybe they're not the most creative soul on the planet, but there's no time like the present to help them discover their inner artist.

A gift card for a bottle of something nice

Gift cards, available at Reservebar, $10-$1000

Reservebar excels in specialty wine and spirits, but recipients can have their pick of just about anything. If there's still time, you can even have a bottle engraved for them.

Read our full review of Reservebar here.

A tea-of-the-month subscription

Monthly tea boxes, available at Sips by, starting at $16/month

Four different teas (enough for about 16 cups) sent monthly will give them their fix but also open their world. They can create a free profile and customize their box based on their tastes or just sign up and see what arrives.

A virtual message from their favorite star

Personalized video message, available at Cameo, from $1

Has a certain TV show become their quarantine guilty pleasure? Request a Cameo from their favorite actor, athlete, or comedian. Cameo offers over 40,000 celebrities and entertainment personalities to choose from, with plenty of options under $150, and select talent can fulfill requests within 24 hours. Just include some details, and they'll create a personalized video message.

An electric toothbrush with top-notch accessories

Quip gift card, available at Quip, from $25

Give them the gift of better oral hygiene with a Quip toothbrush, which pairs with an electric toothbrush, bundle, starter kit, or accessory, so they'll always be brushing with the most thorough and efficient brush tools.

Read our full review of Quip versus Philips Sonicare here.

A luxe jewelry rental service

Rocksbox Jewelry Subscription Box, available at Rocksbox, $49/three months

Grant them full access to the ultimate jewelry collection, featuring top designer brands like Kendra Scott, Kate Spade, Gorjana, and more. Every month, Rocksbox will send three pieces of jewelry chosen by a personal stylist, with free shipping both ways. Get them started by choosing from three different membership packages: three months, six months, or 12 months.

Read our full Rocksbox review here.

A carefully curated sheet mask subscription

FaceTory Handpicked Korean Sheet Masks Subscription Box, available at Amazon, $11.90/month

Jumpstart their self-care routine with one of these monthly face mask boxes. These subscription sets feature carefully curated Korean sheet masks that are suitable for all skin types. The FaceTory Team selects new, trending, and beloved K-beauty products that can't be found anywhere else. They also add a guide with tips, directions, and benefits for each mask. 

A diaper and wipe bundle for expecting mothers

Honest Diaper + Wipes Bundle, available at Honest $79.95/bundle

Do you know someone with a baby on the way? Gift them a monthly supply of Honest's premium diapers and wipes in a flexible bundle subscription. The bundle features three diaper types: everyday, training pants, and overnights, with custom sizes based on weight and age. If in between sizes, Honest recommends sizing up. Each pack includes over 100 diapers. Plus, they can personalize the diapers with a number of cute design options. 

A yearlong magazine subscription

Magazine subscription, available at Amazon, starting at $5/year

Nothing beats holding a physical issue of their favorite magazine. A subscription service makes sure it lands in their hand without the extra trip to the store. Choose from magazines like Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, Women's Health, and more that cost just $5 for an entire year.

A low-maintenance plant service

Plants for Beginners Subscription, available at The Sill, $60/month

Even the most novice green thumb can build a thriving garden with The Sill. Each month, the houseplant subscription delivers an easy-care hand-potted plant in a sleek ceramic planter. It's the perfect opportunity to cultivate their own at-home plant nursery.

Read our full review of The Sill here.

An endless closet of designer clothing

Rent the Runway membership, available at Rent the Runway, $69/month

Rent the Runway's innovative model means they no longer have to waste money on clothes they'll wear just once or twice. It's perfect for the fashionista in your life and lets them rent something new for any occasion — whether it be WFH, date night, or staycations.

Read our full review of Rent the Runway here.

A Murray's Monthly Clubs subscription for cheese lovers

Cheese of the Month subscription, available at Murray's, from $63/month

Send the best of Murray's cheese and satiate their hankering for a good gouda or creamy brie with a monthly subscription. Whether they're a cheese aficionado or just looking for a yummy snack, they'll enjoy getting fresh cheese delivered to their door, along with detailed guides to the flavors and suggested beverage pairings for each. 

Choose from options like Classic Cheese of the Month for newbies all the way up to Cheesemonger's Picks of the Month. You can pay for a month-to-month subscription or pre-pay for a three-month option.

A 12-pack of wine from an independent winemaker for under $100

Give a wine gift from

Looking for a last-minute gift that's perfect for your favorite vino fan? We recommend a few bottles from Every winemaker on the platform has been "funded" by "Angel" customers, meaning you feel like you have a more direct stake in the wine you gift — and they're all affordable and high-quality. 

Insider Reviews senior reporter Mara Leighton tried the service and found it to be a great value. Read the full review here.

A Disney+ gift subscription

Disney+ Gift Subscription Service, available at Disney, $79.99/year

It gives unlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox for just $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year after a free seven-day trial. Read everything there is to know about Disney+ over here.

And if they need some binge-spiration, here are all the new movies available to stream.

A flower subscription service for freshly delivered blooms

Flower subscription, available at BloomsyBox, $44.99 per month

Send beautiful bouquets on a regular basis at the rate of your choosing — weekly, every two weeks, or monthly. Choose from a variety of floral themes, from roses to plants to pet-safe options. This new twist on a classic gift is one that'll keep on giving.

Find out more about our favorite flower-delivery services here.

A gift that's as uniquely sweet as they are

Sugarwish treat boxes, available at Sugarwish, from $22 for two selections

Gifting just got a little bit sweeter. You choose the number of treats, and Sugarwish takes care of the rest. The recipient chooses which treats they want to receive once they redeem the gift, so it's the perfect last-minute item for a picky eater.

A Headspace subscription for soothing meditations

Meditation App Subscription, available at Headspace from $12.99/month

The past few years have been full of anxiety and uncertainty, which makes a gift that includes soothing meditation options extra thoughtful. They can listen to narrated meditations with a Buddhist monk, get tips for handling stress from videos with cute graphics, or leverage wind-down guided exercises to enjoy better sleep.  

A MasterClass subscription to learn from the best

Annual Membership, available at MasterClass, from $15/month

For the uninitiated, MasterClass is an e-learning platform that provides an array of classes taught by well-known celebrities and industry leaders. Users can find everything from television writing classes taught by Shonda Rhimes to a style lesson with Tan France. 

An Amazon Prime membership to make life easier

Amazon Prime membership, available at Amazon, from $12.99/month or $119/year

The gift of Amazon Prime is always one that'll be met with extreme appreciation, given that it is both practical and thoughtful. If the recipient already has a membership, the money will convert into a gift card that they can use on anything they want from the site. 

An e-gift card to Everlane for anyone who appreciates the basics

Everlane e-gift card, available at Everlane from $25

Everlane is our go-to for all things considered "closet staples" — from cozy cashmere to classic button-downs, comfortable cotton tees to casual denim. We can't think of anyone who wouldn't be able to put an Everlane e-gift card to use, especially when they can start shopping as soon as they open the e-gift card confirmation email. 

Check out every style we've tried from Everlane here

A Hulu gift card for the TV lover

Hulu gift card, available at Walmart, from $25

Hulu, like Netflix, is a must-have for TV fans. Whether or not they already have a membership (which you may or may not mooch off of), this gift card can be used to sign up or pay for their next few months with the service. 

An Amazon Kindle for book lovers who travel frequently

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, available at Target, $129.99

Kindles make the perfect last-minute gift for voracious readers. Even if the recipient swears by the feeling of a real book in their hands, once they see how much easier it is to travel with one thin tablet instead of six thick novels, they'll be grateful you introduced them. The Paperwhite has a backlit screen with zero glare, so they can read it as easily outside as in bed with the lights out. Another plus? It's waterproof. 

Read about our experience with the new waterproof Kindle Paperwhite here

A Book of the Month subscription for bibliophiles

Book of the Month Monthly Membership, available at Book of the Month, from $49.99/three months

If the Kindle just isn't their thing, the Book of the Month Club might be a perfect alternative. The subscription service narrows a selection of new releases down to five options, and the recipient will be able to choose which hardcover book they'd like to receive each month. If they don't like any of that month's selections, they can also opt to skip and wait until next month's choices come out. 

A gift card to their favorite music streaming service

Send a gift card or subscription to SpotifyAmazon Music Unlimited, or Apple Music

Sometimes the simple, practical route is the way to go when it comes to last-minute gifting. If they're one for spontaneous at-home dance parties or screaming their favorite songs in the car, a free month of their go-to music streaming service can prove to be just as thoughtful as a gift that's purchased weeks in advance.

A box full of nostalgic treats

Oreo, Golden Oreo, Chips Ahoy, and Nutter Butter Gift Box, available at Amazon, $12.88

If they never quite outgrew this favorite childhood snack (or if they're just one for sentimentalism), this box full of Oreos, Golden Oreos, Chips Ahoy, and Nutter Butter cookies will have them feeling like they're back in the good old days in no time. Amazon Prime members can receive one-day shipping on this item depending on what time of day they place their order, so if their big day is tomorrow, we've got you covered.

A bouquet to satisfy any sweet tooth

Sweet Chocolate Covered Donut & Cake Pop Bouquet, available at Harry & David, $54.99

You may not be able to make them breakfast in bed, but you can still ensure they have a sweet morning with this donut and cake pop bouquet delivery. All of the mini treats are dipped in either dark or white chocolate and topped with chocolate drizzle and candy toppings. Best of all, last-minute shoppers can get express shipping.

An e-gift card to Warby Parker for the daily glasses-wearer

Warby Parker e-gift cards, available at Warby Parker, from $50

Glasses can help people express their individual sense of style, a trend only bolstered by stylish online glasses retailers. Warby Parker has managed to make prescription glasses affordable (a baseline pair starts at just $95, including lenses), but even if your giftee doesn't wear prescription glasses, the company also makes non-prescription sunglasses that are equally as good-looking. Digital gift cards are delivered to your recipient's email immediately.

A wine subscription for new bottles delivered right to their door

Wine Delivery gift card, available at Winc, from $60

Winc is a wine delivery subscription that brings the good stuff right to your recipient's door. Users take a quiz and share information about their taste preferences before receiving expert recommendations about bottles they may like.

They can choose what to include in their box, and since each bottle is priced individually, they can control the cost of each delivery. Gift cards can be emailed to the recipient and used toward the cost of a box (or a few, if you're feeling extra generous). 

A BarkBox subscription for anyone who spoils their dog

Dog Treats Subscription Box, available at BarkBox, from $35/month

Whether they just got a new puppy or they've had a dog for a while now, you can't go wrong with a BarkBox subscription. To give it as a gift, simply input their pup's name and relative size (small, medium, or large), and select a one-, three-, six-, or 12-month increment. You can send the box directly to their house or purchase a digital gift card, which they can redeem immediately.

A coffee subscription to help them stay caffeinated

Coffee Subscription Box, available at Atlas Coffee Club, $60/3 months

Atlas makes some of our favorite coffee out there, and it fresh roasts each batch before sending it out so you know the coffee you'll get hasn't been sitting on a shelf for six months. Any caffeine fiend will love receiving beans or grounds direct to their door each month, giving you extra brownie points each time.

Read about our experience with Atlas Coffee Club here.

A gift card to frame their art or photos

Framebridge gift card, available at Framebridge, from $25

Everyone appreciates having a beautiful frame for their photos, posters, or artwork — but no one actually likes paying for it themselves. They'll enjoy the chance to custom frame something for her home with Framebridge. Bonus points if you also print and send cute family photos for her to frame.

A fun and convenient way to freshen up their wardrobe

Personalized Styling Service Gift Card, available at Stitch Fitch, from $20

If you sense that they're no longer excited by their closet, a Stitch Fix gift card is the perfect solution. Recipients can try out different brands and styles that they wouldn't ordinarily buy, and it's easy to return pieces with the provided prepaid shipping labels.

A travel-planning service that does all the work for them

Airbnb Gift Card, available at Airbnb, from $25

For the person who is currently dreaming about where to go post-pandemic, this gift card will help ensure their next trip is stellar. Airbnb has thousands of listings for private home vacation rentals around the globe and across the US. They can choose from premium luxe listings like a villa in Malibu, find a location close to a national park for outdoor exploration, or opt for a unique getaway like a tree-house rental.

A customizable suitcase

Calpak gift card, available at Calpak, from $25

Ordering a piece of luggage that best suits them will take too long if you're strapped for time, plus you might not know exactly what they like. You're better off giving a gift card so they can choose from plenty of fun options. From confetti to marble patterns, Calpak offers suitcase designs for every traveler. We especially like the packing cubes.

An Echo Dot for the smart-home enthusiast

Amazon Echo Dot, available at Best Buy, $34.99

If you have at least one days' worth of foresight, the latest Echo Dot is a great last-minute gift that won't require much effort. Whether you know for a fact that they have just started outfitting their home with smart capabilities, or you at least have a suspicion that they'd enjoy the convenience of having Alexa around to answer questions and play games, the Dot is a great pick. 

A Birchbox subscription for beauty and skincare lovers

Birchbox Subscription Box, available at Birchbox, from $45/3 months

There's a reason Birchbox is so popular — it's an affordable way to find and learn about new beauty, skincare, and grooming products without spending too much on full-sized options the recipient might not like. For $30 to $45, you'll be able to gift three months' worth of boxes right to their door. For a more substantial option, you can gift six months for $84 or 12 months for $156.  

A Blue Apron subscription

Blue Apron Subscription Gift, available at Blue Apron, from $60

Blue Apron's meal kits are the perfect last-minute gift for anyone who enjoys cooking but lacks the time or foresight to do the planning involved. It costs $47.95 for two servings of two recipes each week, so they'll save time shopping and prepping meals, which is arguably worth more than the subscription price.

A salami-of-the-month club for the meat lovers

Olympia Provisions Artisanal Salami, available at Food52, from $40

You know the type — always orders a charcuterie board, could survive on prosciutto, prefers savory over sweet. Spoil your giftee with a salami delivery and hope they invite you over for a dinner party at some point. 

A hot sauce subscription for heat seekers

Fuego Box quarterly hot sauce subscription, available at Food52, $120

They'll get fired up for this quarterly delivery of small-batch hot sauce, which is curated by Fuego Box and filled with gourmet picks from all over the country. Each box contains three 5-ounce bottles. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Stronghold Digital Mining soars 68% in trading debut alongside bitcoin's rise to all-time high

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 3:22pm
Cryptocurrency Mining.

Stronghold Digital Mining soared as much as 68% in its IPO debut on Wednesday as bitcoin also surged to a record all-time high of about $67,000.

The bitcoin miner was founded in 2021 following a reorganization, is vertically integrated, and currently operates around 2,000 mining rigs powered by alternative energy. The company said in its S-1 filing that it generated about $8 million in revenue if the first half of the year.

According to its website, Stronghold Digital Mining derives much of its crypto mining power generation from coal refuse sites in Pennsylvania. The company burns piles of coal refuse leftover from Pennsylvania's legacy coal-mining industry in an emissions-controlled manner, which helps restore land, waterways, and air polluted by the coal piles.

The demand for the 6.7 million shares of Stronghold were strong, as it was able to upsize its offering and price its IPO at $19 per share, above its prior expected range of $16 to $18. The stock hit a high of $31.90, lending it a valuation of more than $1 billion.

The offering from Stronghold comes amid an ongoing frenzy by investors for cryptocurrency exposure. On Tuesday, ProShares launched its bitcoin futures ETF, which was the second largest debut for an ETF as measured by trading volume.

Stronghold said it raised about $130 million in proceeds from the IPO. The company trades on the Nasdaq under the symbol "SDIG."

Read the original article on Business Insider

'Dune,' the highly anticipated sci-fi epic, hits HBO Max one day early - stream it at home starting October 21

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 3:12pm

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Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in "Dune."
  • "Dune" hits HBO Max and theaters on October 21 at 6 p.m. ET.
  • The star-studded cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, and Oscar Isaac.
  • You need an ad-free subscription to HBO Max ($15/month) to stream the movie at home.
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyMax Monthly Plan (ad-free) (small)

"Dune" is coming to HBO Max a day earlier than originally planned. You can watch the movie at home starting October 21 at 6 p.m. ET. The movie's debut on HBO Max will coincide with its preview screenings in theaters that same day.

"Dune" is an adaptation of Frank Herbert's popular science fiction novel from 1965. The movie is an epic adventure following the fight to control Arrakis, a dangerous desert planet, and the highly coveted drug found there that enables interstellar travel. The A-list cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, and Jason Momoa.

"Dune" is directed by Denis Villeneuve whose earlier films include "Blade Runner 2049" and "Arrival." The movie was previously adapted into a film by director David Lynch in 1984.

Based on early reviews from critics, "Dune" currently holds an "87% Certified Fresh" rating on review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. According to Insider's Entertainment Reporter Libby Torres, who saw the movie at the New York Film Festival, "The fearless new 'Dune' is a must watch for diehard fans and casual viewers alike."

Where to watch 'Dune'

"Dune" premieres in theaters and on HBO Max on October 21 at 6 p.m. ET. In order to watch the sci-fi epic at home, you need an ad-free subscription to HBO Max for $15 a month. "Dune" will remain on the streaming service for 31 days.

HBO Max's ad-free plan includes access to an impressive library of movies, TV shows, and originals. Viewers on a budget can choose the ad-supported plan for $10 a month, but this tier does not let you stream in-theaters releases like "Dune."

Even if you watch "Dune" at home, you can still get a high-quality viewing experience with up to 4K Ultra HD resolution, high dynamic range (HDR), and Dolby Atmos sound on compatible devices connected to high-speed internet.

Max Monthly Plan (ad-free) (small)

HBO Max does not offer a free trial directly, but Hulu subscribers can claim a seven-day trial of HBO Max as an add-on service. The trial is only available to members who have not signed up for HBO in the past.

Monthly Subscription (small)

You can watch "Dune" through your web browser or with the HBO Max app which is available on most smartphones, Xbox consoles, PlayStation consoles, tablets, and smart TVs. For a complete list of devices that can be used to stream "Dune," visit the HBO Max website.

Where to watch the 1984 version of 'Dune'

Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides in the 1984 version of "Dune."

For another perspective on Frank Herbert's novel, you can also stream the 1984 version of "Dune" on HBO Max.

This adaptation was directed by David Lynch ("Twin Peaks," "Mulholland Drive"). The film stars Kyle MacLachlan and Virginia Madsen, and even includes an appearance by Sting.

What other movies can I watch on HBO Max?

In addition to "Dune," HBO Max offers a huge library of recent and classic movies. The service will also add a few more in-theater releases throughout the rest of 2021.

Right now, ad-free subscribers can stream Tony Soprano's origin story, "The Many Saints of Newark," through October 31. The last two in-theater movies arriving on HBO Max in 2021 are "King Richard" on November 19 and "The Matrix Resurrections" on December 22.

For an in-depth examination of the streaming service and its core features, check out Insider's HBO Max guide and review.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Sen. Joe Manchin uses expletive to dismiss report that he plans to leave the Democratic Party

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 3:04pm
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Capitol Hill.
  • A report from Mother Jones claimed that Sen. Joe Manchin was planning to leave the Democratic Party.
  • Within an hour, Manchin told reporters on Capitol Hill that the report was "bullshit."
  • "I have no control of the rumors, guys," Manchin also said, denying the story.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia swiftly dismissed rumors that he's planning to leave the Democratic Party, telling reporters on Capitol Hill that a Mother Jones story published earlier that hour was "bullshit."

The story said that Manchin had told "associates" in recent days that he was mulling leaving the party if President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats didn't agree to spending cuts in the once-$3.5 trillion "Build Back Better" social spending bill.

Journalist David Corn wrote that Manchin would then declare himself an "American Independent" and had "devised a detailed exit strategy for his departure" from the party.

"First, he would send a letter to Sen. Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, removing himself from the Democratic leadership of the Senate," Corn wrote. "He would then wait and see if that move had any impact on the negotiations. After about a week, he said, he would change his voter registration from Democrat to independent."

"It is unclear whether in this scenario Manchin would end up caucusing with the Democrats," he added.

-David Corn (@DavidCornDC) October 20, 2021

Less than an hour later, reporters had located Manchin at the Senate, who firmly denied the rumors.

"I have no control of the rumors, guys," Manchin said before telling Alan He of CBS News, "This is bullshit."

The West Virginia Democrat was apparently asked about the story numerous times, telling POLITICO's Burgess Everett outside the building that, "I can't control rumors and it's bullshit - bullshit spelled with a B, U, L, L, capital B."

-Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) October 20, 2021

It's not the first time the conservative, West Virginia Democrat has had to deny such rumors. "I've never considered it from that standpoint because I know I can change more from where I'm at," Manchin told Vox in April in response to a question about potentially switching parties.

Sen. Manchin's office did not respond a request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to connect your Alexa to WiFi, with or without the app

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 3:00pm
A WiFi connection is an integral part of your Amazon Alexa device.
  • You can connect your Alexa device to WiFi via the Alexa app or the Amazon Alexa website.
  • You can also use the Alexa app to change your WiFi source.
  • If you're connecting your Alexa to WiFi from the website, you need to be using Firefox, Safari, or Edge.
  • Visit Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

An Amazon Alexa smart speaker can be a helpful addition to your smart home. But in order for it to work with your devices, you'll need to have a WiFi connection established.

Here's how to get it done, whether you're using the Alexa app or the Alexa website.

How to connect Alexa to WiFi with the app

If you're setting up a new device, like the Amazon Echo, you can use the Alexa app to connect it to WiFi.

1. Open the Alexa app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android.

2. Sign in to your account, if needed.

3. Select Devices in the bottom toolbar.

Choose the "Devices" tab in the bottom toolbar.

4. Tap Echo and Alexa.

Select "Echo and Alexa."

5. Select the device you want to connect to.

6. Next to Wifi Network, select Change, then choose your network and enter your WiFi password.

How to connect Alexa to WiFi without the app

To set up a new device using a browser, you have to be using Firefox, Safari, or Edge. Google Chrome will not work for device set-up.

1. Go to and log in to your account.

2. Choose Settings in the left sidebar.

Go into your "Settings."

3. Under Devices, select Set up a new device.

Choose "Set up a new device."

4. Choose the device you want to connect.

5. Turn on your device, if needed. The ring light should be orange.

6. Choose a WiFi network that's marked as Amazon-XXX.

7. Hit Continue in the browser.

8. Choose the network you want to connect to and enter the password.

How to change WiFi on Alexa

1. Open your Alexa app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android.

2. Tap Devices in the bottom toolbar.

3. Select your device.

4. Tap on the WiFi network and then tap Change.

5. A screen will ask if your device is plugged in and displaying an orange light. If it isn't displaying an orange light, push and hold the Action button on your device until the orange light turns on. The button is the one with a dot on it.

6. Once your device is in pairing mode, as signified by the orange light, your app should now show a list of WiFi networks. Tap the one you want to use. You will have to authenticate it by typing in the network's password.

'What can the Amazon Echo do?': Everything you need to know about Amazon's smart speakersHow to factory reset your Amazon Echo using the Alexa app or your device'Why isn't my internet working?': How to identify why you can't connect to the internet and troubleshoot accordinglyA complete guide to the Amazon Echo family, the smart speakers that will change your home foreverRead the original article on Business Insider

United Airlines CEO warns that ticket prices will increase because jet fuel is getting more expensive

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 2:53pm
United Airlines planes are seen at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, United States on September 29, 2021.
  • United Airlines CEO said that customers can expect ticket prices to increase.
  • United's jet fuel prices are up by about 6% compared to last year, according to their third quarter results.
  • Airline travel has significantly increased since the start of the pandemic causing the price of jet fuel to increase with demand.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said that customers can expect ticket prices to increase as the cost of jet fuel rises.

Oil prices have climbed to their highest level in about seven years, and travel has rebounded from a deep coronavirus pandemic slump, and that means higher jet fuel prices.

"Higher jet-fuel prices lead to higher ticket prices," Kirby said in an interview on CNBC. "Airfares are going to come back from the really, really low levels they got to during the pandemic, but air travel is going to remain a great bargain."

United's jet fuel prices are up by about 6% compared to last year, according to their third quarter results. The airline spent on average $2.14 per gallon in the third quarter and expects to spend about $2.39 per gallon in the fourth quarter.

The average cost of a domestic, round-trip flight in 2021 so far is $260, a decrease from the average cost in 2020 of $292. Comparatively, the average round-trip flight in 2019 cost about $355, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

United did not have further comment about the potential fare increases.

US airlines reported 62.5 million originating passengers from April to June of this year compared to 2020 which saw 11.5 million originating passengers, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Airline passengers can expect full planes ahead of holiday season travel, Kirby said. United, which is planning on December being its busiest month, has scheduled over 3,500 flights daily domestic departures for holiday travel. December will be United's largest domestic schedule since 2019, Insider reported.

Those traveling for Thanksgiving can expect domestic airfare of around $300 for a round-trip flight, which is up 23% from 2020 and down 11% from 2019, according to Hopper. For Christmas, domestic airfare costs are near levels that haven't been seen since 2018, Hopper reported. $390 is the average cost of a round-trip flight this Christmas which is up 55% from 2020, according to Hopper.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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