News Feeds

The USPS claimed it can't restore some mail sorting machines because it 'dismantled' them

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 9:23pm  |  Clusterstock
US Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has come under fire from states who have claimed he ordered changes at the USPS in an attempt to sabotage mail-in voting.
  • The US Postal Service claimed in a court filing Wednesday that it has already taken apart high-speed mail sorting machines and therefore can't put them back into service.
  • The USPS claimed it was "not possible" to restore machines it had "dismantled" for parts, only those that had merely been "disconnected."
  • A federal judge issued an injunction last week requiring the USPS to reverse those and other changes made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, calling them an "an intentional effort" by Trump and DeJoy "to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state, and federal elections." 
  • Fourteen Democratic state attorneys general sued over DeJoy's initiative after Trump admitted it was meant to sabotage mail-in voting, while two additional lawsuits have been filed since then.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US Postal Service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told a federal judge Wednesday that the agency couldn't follow his order requiring it to restore hundreds of high-speed mail sorting machines ahead of the November elections because it had already taken some of them apart.

In a court filing, Trump administration lawyers argued that Judge Stanley Bastian of the Washington Eastern District Court state should amend a nationwide injunction he issued last week requiring the USPS to reverse those and other changes, arguing it could only restore "machines that were disconnected, but not dismantled."

"Dismantled machines 'are generally dissembled for their usable parts, with such parts being removed to maintain
or enhance other machines.' It is therefore not possible to return such machines to service," the USPS argued.

The USPS also claimed the decommissioned machines wouldn't prevent it from counting mail-in ballots because it has "more than sufficient capacity to process current and anticipated mail volumes with the existing machine fleet."

The USPS has removed 711 machines this year, according to testimony and documents submitted to a New York federal court — nearly twice as many as the 388 machines it averaged annually between 2015 and 2019.

Democratic attorneys general from 14 states sued the USPS and President Donald Trump last month after DeJoy made the controversial and sweeping cost-cutting changes, alleging that it was part of a deliberate effort to undermine the election, citing Trump's repeated admissions that he wants to financially hamstring the USPS to sabotage mail-in voting.

Judge Bastian agreed, calling DeJoy's moves "voter disenfranchisement" in last week's injunction, and requiring the agency to reverse its decisions to decommission mail sorting machines, leave mail behind, eliminate overtime, remove mailboxes, and reduce operating hours.

Bastian concluded that DeJoy's cost-cutting changes were "an intentional effort on the part the current Administration to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state, and federal elections, especially given that 72% of the decommissioned high-speed mail sorting machines that were decommissioned were located in counties where Hillary Clinton receive the most votes in 2016."

The USPS has become a major flashpoint in the upcoming elections as millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail due to health risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the agency to play a crucial role in delivering those ballots.

DeJoy, a major Republican donor and close Trump ally appointed by the president to lead the USPS, has come under fire over the cost-cutting measures. DeJoy faced a grilling from lawmakers last month who claimed the changes could cause delays in delivering ballots.

Trump has frequently claimed, without evidence, that mail-in voting is linked with widespread voter fraud. Experts have repeatedly debunked those claims, and top Republicans have worried that his attacks on mail-in voting could cost their party the election.

Two additional lawsuits have been filed against DeJoy and the USPS, one by a group of attorneys general from New York state, New Jersey, Hawaii, New York City, and San Francisco, and another from a separate group of attorneys general from Pennsylvania, California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, and North Carolina.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Facebook issues warning about Russian 'hack-and-leak' operations ahead of the 2020 election

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 9:01pm  |  Clusterstock
A Facebook logo is seen on a computer screen in this photo illustration on October 31, 2017. Material posted on Facebook and other social media directly and indirectly reached over 126 million Americans between 2015 and 2017 according to company testimony before the US Senate.
  • Facebook issued a warning Thursday of potential "hack-and-leak operations" by the Russian government ahead of the 2020 US election.
  • "Hack-and-leak — where a bad actor steals sensitive information, sometimes manipulates it, and then strategically releases it to influence public debate — is one of the threats we're particularly focused on and concerned about ahead of the November elections in the US," Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at Facebook, said in a blog post.
  • In the last presidential election, Russian government operatives working to elect Donald Trump created fake news outlets to disseminate emails stolen from the Hillary Clinton campaign.
  • "Our team at FB saw such activity in 2016 and reported it to the FBI," Alex Stamos, the company's former chief security officer, wrote on Twitter. "The Facebook post indicates that this might be happening again." 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Be on the lookout for another Russian government hack-and-leak operation ahead of the US presidential election, Facebook warned this week after removing dozens of pages and hundreds of accounts linked to Kremlin disinformation campaigns.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of security policy, announced in a September 24, blog post that the social media company had uncovered state activity on its network that "originated in Russia and focused primarily on Syria and Ukraine," two countries where Moscow is currently at war. 

Other targets included US antifascists, or "Antifa," which one page — that Facebook said was maintained by associates of Russian intelligence — portrayed as a movement that believes the United States "was founded on white supremacy, and therefore needs to be destroyed."

The removal comes weeks after Facebook identified another cluster of Russian state influence operations, including one ostensible news organization, "Peace Data," that targeted US progressives and recruited left-of-center freelance writers with the promise of $200 a post, as Business Insider reported.

But Facebook's announcement came with a warning about a future influence campaign, akin to the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee and release of stolen emails through Wikileaks, that could be far more effective.

"We've seen deceptive campaigns target journalists and public figures in the past, including as part of hack-and-leak operations," Gleicher wrote. "Hack-and-leak — where a bad actor steals sensitive information, sometimes manipulates it, and then strategically releases it to influence public debate — is one of the threats we're particularly focused on and concerned about ahead of the November elections in the US."

Gleicher stressed that Facebook has not yet seen such a campaign on its site. Rather, the activity it has identified "is linked to actors associated with election interference in the US in the past."

However, Alex Stamos, former chief security officer at Facebook, suggested on Twitter that the warning was presumably based on something the company was seeing.

In the last presidential election, intelligence operatives working to elect Donald Trump created ostensibly independent, activist-oriented news outlets, such as "DCLeaks," to disseminate emails stolen from the Hillary Clinton campaign, as detailed in the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's report on Russian election interference.

"Our team at FB saw such activity in 2016 and reported it to the FBI," Stamos wrote. "The Facebook post indicates that this might be happening again." 

Have a news tip? Email this reporter:

Read the original article on Business Insider

Press freedom advocates are slamming Trump for glorifying violence against reporters

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 8:30pm  |  Clusterstock
President Trump holds a Make America Great Again campaign rally in Winston-Salem, NC United States on September 8, 2020
  • President Donald Trump applauded violence against reporters during a campaign rally on Tuesday night. 
  • "They grabbed a guy — 'I'm a reporter! I'm a reporter!' — 'Get out of here!' They threw him aside like a bag of popcorn. But honestly, when you watch the crap we've all had to take ... it's actually a beautiful sight," Trump said. 
  • Press freedom organizations say they're shocked, but not surprised, by Trump's remarks.
  • They also warned that this sort of rhetoric is dangerous for reporters and the American people. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Press organizations have urged reporters to keep holding President Donald Trump accountable after he applauded physical aggression toward journalists covering his campaign.

"They grabbed a guy — 'I'm a reporter! I'm a reporter!' — 'Get out of here!' They threw him aside like a bag of popcorn. But honestly, when you watch the crap we've all had to take ... it's actually a beautiful sight," Trump said Tuesday, in reference to an MSNBC reporter who was hit by a rubber bullet while covering protests in Minnesota in May. 

 John Donnelly, the chair of the press freedom team at the National Press Club, told Business Insider "a statement that glorifies violence against reporters is anathema to the American constitution."

Donnelly said that Trump's latest comments follow a long list of broadsides against journalists, which ultimately pose a threat to democracy itself.

"What he is doing is akin to what a Duterte or an Erdogan or a Putin might do," Donnelly added, referring to the president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte and the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Not what you would expect from a president of the United States and not what we have seen from the president of the United States up to this point. So it is extremely concerning for reporters, but it is par for the course for this president," Donnelly said. 

In its own statement, the Society of Professional Journalists said it was "appalled" by Trump's latest remarks applauding violence against the news media.

"Promoting physical contact against journalists who are just trying to do their jobs during a pandemic is sickening and frankly, un-American. The president of the United States should be above calling a journalist 'a little bag of popcorn' and calling a journalist's forceful removal 'a beautiful sight,'" the statement read.

Elisa Lees Muñoz, the executive director for the International Women's Media Foundation told Business Insider she was shocked but not surprised by Trump's comments. 

She said Trump's remarks continue to put reporters at risk on the ground, and online.

According to the US Press Freedom Tracker, at least 201 journalists have been attacked so far this year. There have also been more than 800 reports of aggression against reporters during Black Lives Matter protests. 

"We know that journalists are being physically harmed on the ground, but to have it be mocked, and praised was beyond the pale, even for this president and this administration," Muñoz said. 

She added that some of Trump's rhetoric has even been adopted by leaders abroad who have used it as justification to attack reporters there, especially women. 

"It's happened in the Philippines. It's happened in Mexico, and in Brazil," Muñoz said. 

Donnelly said Trump's repeated use of the phrase "fake news" is meant to attack news organizations and the credibility of their reporting, he says what it amounts to is an attempt to deflect criticism and accountability.

"First of all, there is such a thing as actual fake news. It is misinformation often created by America's adversaries and spewed online," Donnelly said. "But when the president says fake news, he means news that doesn't serve his agenda or hurts him politically."

Donnelly urged the press to continue calling out Trump when necessary and to keep telling the truth.

"There's a temptation to say, 'Oh, there's Trump being Trump again,' and to just move on, but we have to call out every single time he does this as unacceptable because it is beyond the pale. He is attacking a pillar of our country."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump claimed he's going to send $200 cards to millions of seniors in the mail weeks before the election — but it's not clear he can actually do it

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 8:15pm  |  Clusterstock
President Donald Trump
  • Trump said on Thursday that seniors would receive $200 for prescription drugs in the mail in the coming weeks, a brazenly political effort to win over seniors before Election Day.
  • "Nobody's seen this before. These cards are incredible," Trump said at a North Carolina event.
  • It's not immediately clear Trump has the authority to pull it off, and a leading drug lobbying group said it had no idea about the administration's plan.
  • Drug makers previously rejected an effort from the administration to send cash cards to seniors as part of a deal to lower drug prices.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump said on Thursday many Americans enrolled in Medicare will receive a $200 card in the mail in several "weeks" so they can better afford prescription drugs — a brazenly political effort to gain stronger support among seniors before Election Day.

"Nobody's seen this before. These cards are incredible," Trump said at an event aimed at touting the administration's health record. "The cards will be mailed out in coming weeks. I will always take care of our wonderful senior citizens."

Around 33 million Americans are Medicare beneficiaries, and the measure could carry a $6.6 billion price tag, Bloomberg reported. But it is not immediately clear where funds would be pulled from or whether the White House possessed the legal authority to actually distribute the cards.

A senior administration official told Business Insider the initiative would be approved under a waiver program that gives Medicare space to probe new policy ideas. Cards can be used for co-pays on prescription drugs, and the initiative would draw on "savings" from Trump's "Most Favored Nations" plan, the official said.

Under the proposal, the US gets the lowest price for drugs covered by Medicare that other similarly wealthy countries pay for, usually at a smaller cost. But it hasn't gone into effect.

Juliette Cubanski, the deputy director of the Medicare policy program at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Business Insider it's tough for the administration to argue it can pull savings from a program that doesn't currently exist.

"It boils down if the idea is to pay for this drug card using savings from a Most Favored Nations proposal, that proposal hasn't even been formally issued," Cubanski said. "It's really difficult to see how the administration can use savings that haven't materialized."

Cubanski added the administration would likely face a lawsuit from the pharmaceutical industry if it tried implementing "Most Favored Nations" through regulatory action. Drugmakers fiercely oppose it.

"We have no idea how much it will save and spending money you don't have in the bank is unwise and in this instance, unprecedented as well," she said.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a prominent lobbying group for the drug industry, told Business Insider it didn't know what the administration was attempting to carry out.

"PhRMA does not have any additional information about the cards," a spokesperson said, using an acronym for the organization. "As we've previously said, one-time savings cards will neither provide lasting help, nor advance the fundamental reforms necessary to help seniors better afford their medicines."

Several polls recently show Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden edging out Trump among older voters.

The Trump administration has sought to cut drug prices as one of its priorities. The New York Times recently reported the White House was close to striking a deal with drugmakers to lower prices last month.

But negotiations unraveled after White House chief of staff Mark Meadows pressed the industry to finance $100 drug payments for seniors before the election. They recoiled at the idea for "Trump cards."

On Thursday, the president also said he was signing an executive order mandating is is "official policy of the United States Government to protect patients with pre-existing conditions."

However, those protections are already enshrined under the Affordable Care Act signed by President Barack Obama. The administration supports a Republican-led lawsuit before the Supreme Court to wipe the healthcare law off the books.

Read the original article on Business Insider

College reopenings could be to blame for 3,000 new coronavirus cases per day in the US

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 7:33pm  |  Clusterstock
Empty cups and cans litter a lawn after a college graduation party near Indiana University on May 9, 2020.
  • College reopenings appear to be fueling the recent uptick in US coronavirus cases.
  • According to new estimates, which are still awaiting peer review, reopening colleges for in-person classes has added more than 3,000 new daily cases to the US tally.
  • Overall, cases have spiked dramatically among people in their 20s, according to a new CDC report.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Once again, the hopeful trend in the US's coronavirus outbreak didn't last. Although the country's weekly average of coronavirus cases began dropping in July, new daily cases have risen by nearly 15% over the past week, according to data from Pantheon Macroeconomics.

The uptick isn't surprising, experts say. Many US colleges welcomed students back in late August. Even before classes officially started, outbreaks were recorded among student athletes, linked to fraternity parties, and traced to crowded local bars near campuses.

New research attempts to quantify the link between college reopenings and the recent uptick in the country's COVID-19 cases. According to that math, resuming in-person classes at colleges has added more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases per day to the US tally since July.

The study, which was released as a preprint and isn't yet peer reviewed, traced cell-phone activity across nearly 780 counties with college campuses from July 15 to September 13. The researchers then compared that data to confirmed COVID-19 cases during that time period.

"Colleges are bringing people together from all over the country and that's creating this mixing environment," Martin Andersen, a coauthor of the new study, told Business Insider. "Whenever you have mixing or this increase in flow, you would expect to see a potential for increased disease transmission."

Classrooms probably aren't the main culprit  Kam's bar, which serves many students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, sells to-go drinks on May 15, 2020.

Public-health experts say it often takes about two weeks for a coronavirus case to become part of the official total, since infections take five days to manifest in symptoms, on average. Then people usually wait a bit time before getting tested, and the results usually take at least three business days to come back.

That explains why college outbreaks are being reflected in the data we see now, but didn't immediately lead to a bump in the first days after classes resumed. 

"It takes a little while for these effects to show up," Andersen said. "It's not like a campus reopens and immediately there's a spike in COVID-19 cases."

Andersen's research found that in the two weeks after college classes started, the average number of cell phones on a given campus rose by 47% compared to the two weeks prior. The increase in the number of cell phones was higher on campuses that resumed in-person classes: around 56%. Campuses that continued primarily with online learning only saw a 33% jump in the number of cell phones — probably because some students still returned to the dorms or local apartments, and teaching staff may have returned to campus as well.    

But the researchers don't think classrooms are the epicenter of transmission on college campuses. Instead, they think colleges that resumed in-person classes are probably also less likely to require masks, and perhaps more likely to allow fraternity parties or fans at sporting events.

"Sitting in a classroom with a mask and instructor in a mask — we don't think that's a big opportunity for COVID-19 to be spread," Andersen said. "So it's probably these other things that are happening, you know, the college parties, the dorms, et cetera."

He noted, however, that his current data doesn't prove that yet. 

'Do not send them home,' Fauci says of infected college students Anthony Fauci

Other data supports the theory that colleges are driving recent coronavirus transmission in the US.

More than 81,000 coronavirus cases were recorded at colleges from late July to mid-September, according to data from The New York Times. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that people in their 20s accounted for 20% of all COVID-19 cases from June to August — the highest of any age group. That's a jump from May, when people in their 20s accounted for only 15% of cases.

Andersen said his study doesn't mean that reopening a college inevitably leads to an outbreak, though.

"Where you draw students from matters a lot," he said. "Counties with schools that draw students from higher-risk places or places where the incidence of COVID-19 is going up have disproportionately larger increases in case counts."

That means colleges should be able to reasonably assess the risks they take when bringing students back. 

"They know where their students are coming from," Andersen said. "They can do the math better than we can about the profile of their incoming class and how risky that is."

If students are getting sick on campus, public-health experts say, colleges should not ask them to return home, since that could lead them to infect others.

"They should be able to accommodate the students in a facility, maybe a separate dorm or a separate floor, so they don't spread among the student body," Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. "But do not send them home to their community."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ex-Trump administration officials all seem to agree on one thing: Their former boss is a walking disaster.

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 7:31pm  |  Clusterstock
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks on during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York.
  • Ex-Trump administration officials tend to agree on one thing: Their former boss is a walking disaster. 
  • Whether they're four star generals, energy company CEOs, or career civil servants, they paint a frightening picture of an unstable ignoramus in the White House.
  • Trump, naturally, calls them bitter liars. Who are you going to believe? 
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A common theme has emerged from comments made  by ex-Trump administration officials. Whether they were four star generals, energy company CEOs, or career civil servants, they all say their former boss is dangerously ignorant, inexcusably incompetent, and frighteningly unstable. 

In the face of this consistent and specific criticism from a slew of highly qualified people he hired, Trump's response has been to call them liars, cowards, bitter or "dumb as a rock."

The president would have the American people believe that all of these former subordinates — most of them loyal, lifelong Republicans — have got it all wrong. Only he has it right. 

The question that Trump supporters or Trump-sympathetic voters need to ask themselves is: Who are you going to believe? 

A brief list of ex-Trump administration officials' testimonials for the president 

There's far too many to recount, so let's recall just a few of the more high-profile veterans of the Trump White House:

  • Trump's former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, a former president and chief operating officer for Goldman Sachs, reportedly called Trump a "professional liar."
  • Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who prior to joining the Trump administration was the CEO of ExxonMobil, in a meeting at the Pentagon reportedly called Trump a "f**king moron."
  • Former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who previously served as an ambassador to the UN and has worked in three Republican presidential administrations, in his memoir called Trump "erratic" and "stunningly uninformed."
  • Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a four star US Marine Corps general who commanded troops in three wars, in a statement in June said Trump "tries to divide us," that he makes "a mockery of the Constitution" and that "we are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership." He also told veteran journalist Bob Woodward: "The president has no moral compass." 
  • Former White House Chief of Staff and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, also a four star US Marine Corps general, has been the tightest-lipped about his time working for Trump. But he did say he agrees with Mattis' assessment of Trump, and he publicly disputed Trump's claim that he fired Mattis. That means Kelly effectively called Trump a liar
Every ex-Trump administration official can't be a secret Democrat 

Nobody circles the wagons, moves the goalposts or changes the subject quite like hardcore Trump supporters. 

When audio recordings of Trump bragging that he grabs women he just by their genitals, Trumpists whatabouted their way into Bill Clinton's sordid past. 

When White House advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump — the president's son-in-law and daughter — were revealed to have used private email accounts to conduct government business, the same people screaming at Trump rallies to lock Hillary Clinton up simply yawned. 

When reports emerged of Trump disparaging fallen members of the military as "suckers," they dismissed the anonymous sourcing out of hand. Never mind the fact that disparaging military personnel is nothing new for Trump, who has himself been an anonymous source in the media for decades.

It will never matter to Trump's base that the people who have worked intimately with the president at the highest levels of the administration think he's a dangerous, dishonest buffoon. 

Theirs is a cult of personality. 

As long as Trump continues to "trigger the libs," they'll abide every easily disprovable lie, every deranged conspiracy theory, and every just plain stupid thing that dribbles out of his mouth. 

But the reluctant 2016 Trump voters and Never Democrat voters ought to consider the words of the Trump former administration officials. They're not secret Democratic activists. They're staunch conservatives, or in the case of the generals, devout patriots who felt it their national duty to accept the president's offers.  

They've all seen Trump's leadership in action. And they've told us it is a horrifying thing to behold. Trump says they're all liars. 

Who are you going to believe?

Read the original article on Business Insider

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? The players from the Dwight Howard trade that rocked the NBA and sent the Lakers and Magic into tailspins

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 6:06pm  |  Clusterstock

Dwight Howard's Lakers tenure didn't go as planned.

  • The Los Angeles Lakers' trade for Dwight Howard was a four-team trade and one of the biggest blockbuster deals in NBA history.
  • The trade didn't help any franchise involved, as Howard's one-year stint in Los Angeles didn't work out, and the rebuild set the Orlando Magic back several seasons.
  • The deal included 12 players and five picks — here's where everyone involved is today.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories

The Dwight Howard trade to the Los Angeles Lakers was one of the biggest blockbusters in NBA history and, ultimately, a deal that didn't seem to benefit anyone.

Howard was one of the NBA's best players when the Magic shipped him to the Lakers in 2012 in a four-team trade that included the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets.

Howard's one-year stint on the Lakers was a disaster, as he battled injury and chemistry issues on the star-studded squad. Meanwhile, the Magic's attempt at a rebuild after losing their star came well short. The Magic broke a six-year playoff drought in 2019 and have made the postseason the last two years, but have a long way to go to championship contention.

The 76ers took a swing in the trade by landing Andrew Bynum and missed, while the Nuggets may have actually gotten the best end of the deal by landing just one player — Andre Iguodala.

Eight years later, here's where all of the players and the draft picks involved in the trade ended up.

The trade centered on Dwight Howard, who was one of the NBA's best players at the time. His time in LA was a bust, however, as he battled injuries and chemistry issues. He left for the Houston Rockets in the summer of 2013. Howard hopped around the NBA after his season with the Lakers, playing for four teams over six years. After nearly falling out of the NBA, he is back with the Lakers this season. The Lakers also received Chris Duhon from the Magic. Duhon's lone season with the Lakers was his last in the NBA. He is now an assistant coach on the Illinois State basketball team. Earl Clark, a fourth-year forward, also joined the Lakers in the trade. Clark showed some promise in his NBA career but struggled with consistency. He last played in the NBA in 2015 and now plays overseas. The Magic got a haul in return, receiving players from the Lakers, 76ers, and Nuggets. The 76ers sent second-year center Nikola Vucevic to the Magic. Vucevic is still with the Magic. He has averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds for his career and was an All-Star in 2018-19. The Magic received Arron Afflalo from the Nuggets. Afflalo bounced around the league after the trade, playing for the Nuggets (again), Blazers, Knicks, Kings, and Magic (again). He last played in the NBA in 2018. He is now reportedly part of a group trying to purchase the Minnesota Timberwolves Al Harrington, a scoring forward from the Nuggets, also landed with the Magic in the trade. Harrington played two more seasons, finishing his NBA career with the Wizards in 2014. He has since played in the Big 3 and is an advocate for legal marijuana and an investor in marijuana companies.

Source: GQ

The 76ers sent the Magic rookie forward Moe Harkless, who hadn't yet played an NBA game. Harkless has since played for the Blazers and Clippers and is currently on the Knicks. He has career averages of 7.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. The Lakers traded Josh McRoberts to the Magic. McRoberts last spent a brief stint with the Mavericks in the 2017-18 season. Christian Eyenga was traded from the Lakers to the Magic. Eyenga never played in the regular season for the Magic and hasn't played in the NBA since. He now plays overseas. The Magic got several draft picks back in the trade, too. A 2013 second-round draft pick from the Nuggets became Romero Osby. Osby never played in the NBA. He played overseas until 2015 and now appears to be involved in real estate.

Source: Twitter

The Nuggets also traded the Magic a 2014 first-round pick. The Magic later sent it to the 76ers in a trade for Elfrid Payton. That pick eventually became Croatian forward Dario Saric. Saric is now on the Phoenix Suns. He averaged 10 points and 6 rebounds per game in 2019-20. The Magic received a 2017 first-round pick from the 76ers. That pick was sent back to the Sixers in the Elfrid Payton trade, then later sent to the Kings. The Kings used it to draft De'Aaron Fox. Fox is still with the Kings and looks like one of the NBA's bright, young stars. The Lakers sent a protected draft pick to the Magic that later turned into two second-round picks. The Magic used the first pick to draft Wesley Iwundu in 2017. Iwundu has played three years with the Magic, averaging 5 points and 2 rebounds per game. The Magic sent the second of those second-round picks to the Raptors, who then traded it to the Nets in another deal. The Nets used it to draft Rodions Kurucs in 2018. Kurucs has played two years with the Nets, averaging 6 points and 3 rebounds per game. The 76ers got a big piece in the trade — Lakers All-Star center Andrew Bynum. Bynum's career petered out after the trade as he played just 26 total games after the deal, none with the Sixers. He hasn't played since 2014. He attempted a comeback in 2018, but was unsuccessful. The 76ers received veteran guard Jason Richardson from the Magic in the deal. Richardson played two years with the Sixers and retired in 2015 with career averages of 17 points and 5 rebounds per game. He now plays in the Big 3. The Nuggets received Andre Iguodala from the 76ers. In the end, the Nuggets may have gotten best player in the entire deal. Iguodala played one season with the Nuggets before joining the Warriors where he became a big part of their three championships and five Finals appearances. He now plays on the Heat. Now, check out why Nikola Jokic has become an international sensation... Why the NBA world loves Nikola Jokic — the Nuggets' goofy, 7-foot Serbian star who's been compared to Tom Brady and is dominating the playoffs > Read the original article on Business Insider

Hearst faces an age and gender discrimination lawsuit

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 5:52pm  |  Clusterstock

Hi! Welcome to the Insider Advertising daily for September 25. I'm Lauren Johnson, a senior advertising reporter at Business Insider. Subscribe here to get this newsletter in your inbox every weekday. Send me feedback or tips at

Today's news: Former Esquire exec sues Hearst, layoffs at Kantar, and a former Pinterest and Facebook exec speaks out against Facebook.

A former Esquire exec is suing Hearst, alleging age and gender discriminationRead the full story here. Bain Capital research and consulting firm Kantar plans to cut 10% of US staff. Here's what we know so far.Read the full story here. Facebook's former director of monetization says Facebook intentionally made its product as addictive as cigarettes — and now he fears it could cause 'civil war'Read the full story here.More stories we're reading:

Thanks for reading and see you on Monday! You can reach me in the meantime at and subscribe to this daily email here.

— Lauren

Read the original article on Business Insider

A GOP attack ad focuses on a Democratic candidate's arm tattoos. They cover scars from when the Taliban shot down her helicopter.

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 5:50pm  |  Clusterstock
The photo of Democrat MJ Hegar featured in the conservative political action committee's website.
  • A Texas Democrat running for Congress fired back at a conservative political action committee after it created an advertisement using an image that prominently featured her tattoos.
  • The photo of former US Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar, a Democrat running against Republican Sen. John Cornyn, likened her to a "radical liberal."
  • "Texans see right through this BS," Hegar told Insider.
  • Hegar commissioned the tattoos to cover up her injuries after her Pave Hawk helicopter was shot down by Taliban insurgents during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2009.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A Texas Democrat running for Congress fired back at a conservative political action committee after it created an advertisement using an image that prominently featured her tattoos.

The Texans for a Conservative Majority, a political action committee that supported other Republican super PACs, superimposed a photo of Democrat MJ Hegar on a dark background with the caption, "HARD LEFT HEGAR." The photo, which was noticeably featured at the top of the group's website, shows the tattoos on her right arm and accuses her of being a "radical liberal."

"M.J. Hegar is a radical liberal who lacks the judgment Texans need in the Senate," a caption to the photo said, adding on its website that, "M.J. Hegar is too extreme for Texas."

Hegar, who served in the US Air Force as a combat search-and-rescue pilot, commissioned the tattoos to cover up her injuries after her HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter was shot down by Taliban insurgents during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2009.

The enemy bullet fragmented across her arm and leg, causing the scars and tissue damage in those areas. Those scars, Hegar told Insider, were always a stark reminder of the shooting. Hegar received a Purple Heart for her injuries and became one of the few women to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross with a valor device.

"Every time I went down to pick up my son, I saw my scars and had flashbacks of that trauma," Hegar told Insider. "So I did what I always do — I sought to make my scars more beautiful."

"That's why I'm running for the Senate too," Hegar added. "It's just an inherent drive in me to go out and fix the problems I see. I chose cherry blossoms for the tattoo as a reminder of my time stationed in the military in Japan, and I smile with pride when I catch a glimpse of my arm as I pick up my kids."

Asked about the photo, Hegar said she embraced the imagery and that "Texans see right through this BS."

"I'm damn proud of my tattoos because they're a mark of my service to our country," Hegar said.

Hegar, is running against incumbent Republican Sen. John Cornyn, a three-term lawmaker. Several polls indicate Cornyn has a healthy lead against Hegar, including a recent Quinnipiac University poll that showed him with an 8-percentage point lead. The same poll found President Donald Trump leading former Vice President Joe Biden by 5-percentage points.

Read the original article on Business Insider

NASA has narrowed the source of an elusive leak on the space station to 2 Russian modules — one of which provides crucial life support

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 5:47pm  |  Clusterstock
  • NASA is hunting for the source of a leak on the International Space Station.
  • The agency has tested most of the station but still hasn't found the source.
  • That means the leak is probably in one of the two sections crew members stayed while performing the tests.
  • One of those, the Zvezda Service Module, provides life support for the station's Russian side.
  • Engineers are looking into how they might test the remaining sections.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The International Space Station has been leaking for more than a year. 

While the station is perpetually losing some air, officials first noticed an increase in that airflow last September. At the time, the leak wasn't major, but this summer, officials noticed an uptick in that already higher-than-usual rate.

So in late August, the three crew members aboard the station — NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner — hunkered down in one module of the station and sealed off the others. After closing the hatches, they conducted leak tests on each section.

But their data didn't reveal leaks in those sections.

That leaves only two modules that could be leaking: the ones the crew didn't test because they were inside them while monitoring the rest of the station. One is the Zvezda Service Module, which provides life support for the station's Russian side. The other is the Poisk Mini-Research Module 2, which serves as a port for docking spaceships and a place crew members prepare for spacewalks.

"With the crew living and working in these modules, it was impossible to achieve the proper environmental conditions necessary for this test," NASA spokesman Daniel Huot told Business Insider.

NASA and Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, are working to identify a "window of opportunity" to test those remaining modules for leaks, he added – either by finding a way for crew members to safely isolate the untested modules, or by using specialized detectors that wouldn't require sealing the sections off.

In the meantime, Huot said, "the crew is in no danger and the space station has ample consumables onboard to manage and maintain the nominal environment." 

Consumables, in this case, refers to breathable air.

Zvezda isn't the only life-support module on the station

NASA didn't consider the leak it detected a year ago to be major. Plus, other priorities, like spacewalks and crew exchanges, kept the agency and ISS crew too busy to collect enough data about the problem.

But once the leak rate increased, the agency decided it was time to do something about it, since if the leak were to quickly grow even bigger, the pressurized air-supply tanks that NASA sends up to the ISS on resupply missions might not be enough.

The Zvezda module, which launched in July 2000, was the first livable part of the space station in orbit. It provides the Russian half of the station with oxygen and drinkable water, and it's equipped with a machine that scrubs carbon dioxide from the air. The module also contains the section's sleeping quarters, dining room, refrigerator-freezer, and bathroom. 

A diagram of the International Space Station, with the Zvezda Service Module highlighted.

Zvezda isn't the only section of the orbiting laboratory that provides life support, however. The US side of the station has its own separate, fully functioning life-support system, including oxygen generators, a kitchen, and drinkable-water systems. So theoretically, crew members could stay on the US side while conducting further tests.

The problem, though, is that Zvezda connects directly to the Soyuz spacecraft that's currently sitting attached to the ISS. That's the ship the astronauts and cosmonauts need to use to get back to Earth. Closing the module's hatches and testing it for leaks would therefore make it tough for Ivanishin, Cassidy, and Vagner to access the Soyuz quickly in case of an emergency, should they have to make a quick getaway.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly inside a Soyuz simulator at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, March 4, 2015.

However, there's a slim chance that earlier leak tests missed something. So on Thursday, crew members used an ultra-sonic leak detector to examine several windows, valves, and seals within previously tested modules, just in case. 

The tool measures noise caused by "turbulent airflow" — in this case, an air leak that's too quiet for humans to hear. 

The crew tested windows in the Kibo section on the US side, as well as several other windows on the Russian side. Engineers on Earth will then analyze the data in the coming days. 

Not the first leak on the International Space Station 

Left: A hole that appears drilled into part of a Soyuz spacecraft at the International Space Station. Right: A patch made by the crew using epoxy.

This isn't the first leak found on the space station's Russian side, nor the most frightening. In August 2018, crew members discovered a 2-millimeter drill hole in part of a Russian Soyuz MS-09 spaceship that was docked to the station at the time.

That hole seemed to indicate a manufacturing defect — it appeared someone on Earth had attempted to plug the hole with paint, but that paint broke off after the Soyuz reached the space station.

So in December 2018, two cosmonauts donned spacesuits and floated to the outside of the Soyuz ship to study the hole in detail. They spent nearly eight hours hacking away at the insulation with a knife to find and document it. 

After that, the crew successfully patched up the hole with an epoxy sealant.

Roscosmos has stayed fairly quiet about that incident ever since.

"We know exactly what happened, but we will not tell you anything," Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin said at a youth science conference in September 2019, according to the Russian state news agency Ria Novosti.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Forget rooftop pools and private yoga rooms — the most important new luxury home amenity is a state-of-the-art air filtration system

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 5:36pm  |  Clusterstock
  • Real estate agents in California have seen a surge of requests from clients for homes that come with high-quality air filtration, reports The Los Angeles Times' Sean Dean.
  • California has been battling historic wildfires that have severely worsened air quality. 
  • The country also continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, and as people are spending more time in their homes, the wealthy want to ensure that the air inside is as clean as it can be.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Luxury air filtration systems have become the latest must-have amenity among the wealthy, according to the Los Angeles Times' Sam Dean.

The surge of interest is especially apparent in California, as the state battles some of the most devastating wildfires in its history. These fires are further polluting an already polluted sky, leading to unhealthy air quality, the Times previously reported.

The pandemic, in addition to the polluted air, has led some wealthy homebuyers to begin specifically requesting to view homes that come with "clean air" or "air filtration" as an amenity — similar to the way one would previously request a hot tub or an in-home gym.

"Suddenly it's a topic of conversation," Carl Gambino, a Los Angeles-based real estate agent, told the Times. Gambino said he recently sold a $14.1 million and a $23.5 million house in the area, each of which had deluxe air filtration as a key selling point.

Real-estate developer and investor Gregory Malin told the Times that he'd begun marketing filtered air as a wellness amenity over a decade ago, recently adding a nearly $200,000 ventilation system to a 12,000-square-foot Bay Area home project he worked on.

Cleaner, more filtered air isn't just a draw in single-family residences. Luxury apartment buildings are also taking note of the interest and adjusting offerings accordingly.

Candace Jackson at Town and Country reported in August that developers, real estate agents, and architects were betting on "hospital-grade HVAC systems and germ-zapping UV filers" to lure in clients as the pandemic continues to take hold. 

"Before, these systems were something that was a want," Adam Sires, a Beverly Hills broker, told the publication. "Now they're becoming something that's a need."

Eco-friendly and wellness amenities have been among the biggest trends in high-end housing for the last several years, Business Insider's Lina Batarags and Katie Warren each previously reported. But amid the pandemic, high-quality air filtration systems have suddenly become a lot more vital to some buyers than rooftop running tracks and resident-only meditation rooms.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What Senate Republicans are saying about Trump refusing to commit to a peaceful transition of power

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 5:32pm  |  Clusterstock
Sen. Lindsey Graham.

On Capitol Hill Thursday, top Republicans tried to thread the needle between reassuring the American public that a peaceful transition of power would happen, while avoiding any appearance of undermining President Donald Trump, who refused to commit to such a power transfer on Wednesday.

GOP lawmakers deployed a variety of rhetorical techniques when approached by reporters, but the common theme was that they tried to avoid rebuking Trump too strongly, while insisting one of the key tenets of democracy wouldn't be thrown out if the president refused to concede the race after November 3.

But Trump appeared to double down on his comments later on Thursday.

"We want to make sure the election is honest, and I'm not sure that it can be," the president said. "I don't know that it can be with this whole situation, unsolicited ballots. They're unsolicited — millions being sent to everybody. And we'll see."

Insider has a breakdown of why Trump's claims of rampant fraud and the potential for election interference in mail-in voting are largely baseless.

Here's what the GOP brass had to say: 

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

"I think there will be a peaceful transfer of power, and I think the real concern in terms of the election is that Joe Biden has been explicit that if he doesn't win on Election Day, he intends to challenge the legitimacy of the election," Cruz told reporters.

He added: "Hillary Clinton told him under no circumstances said should Joe Biden concede. And I think that threat to challenge the election is one of the real reasons why it is so important that we confirm the Supreme Court nominee so that there's a full Supreme Court on the bench to resolve any election challenge."

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina Graham.

When Graham was asked by a reporter if Trump should "tone down his language," he demurred.

"Well I think I don't know what it — I don't know what the question was, but we will have a peaceful transfer of power," Graham said.

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.

Romney was asked what would happen if Trump didn't step aside if he lost.

"I don't think there's any scenario of that nature that's realistic," Romney said. "And I am absolutely confident that there will be a peaceful transition if there's a new president, or if not, why, we'll have a continuation."

When he was asked if fellow Republicans should step up if Trump still insisted he wouldn't concede the office to Biden, Romney replied, "There's no question but that all the people who had sworn to support the Constitution would assure that there would be a peaceful transition of power, including the president."

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida  Sen. Rick Scott.

"I have no concern," Scott said of whether there would be a peaceful transfer of power.

"Why not?" a reporter followed up.

"There will be a peaceful transfer — transition of power," Scott replied. "It's happened forever. It's going to happen in November, or January."

"But if it's happened forever, why couldn't the president just come out and say that?" a reporter asked.

"You should ask him," Scott said. "I'm very, I'm very comfortable there will be a peaceful transition of power. There'll be no way in the world that's not going to happen."

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado  Sen. Cory Gardner.

"That's something I've talked about in speeches from my very first days when Nancy Pelosi peacefully handed the gavel over to John Boehner," Gardner said. "It's a hallmark of our democracy. And I've spoken at length about it in the past about the continued need to use that as a symbol of democracy."

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

"I would have the same concern when Hillary Clinton advised Biden not to concede the election," Grassley told reporters.

"We have a Constitution and the Constitution says when the presidency ends," he added. "You ask me just from the standpoint of what the president said: It isn't very good advice from Hillary Clinton to advise Biden about that."

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine Sen. Susan Collins.

"The peaceful transfer of power is a fundamental tenet of our democracy," Collins said. "And I am confident that we will see it occur once again.

"I don't know what his thinking was, but we have always had a controlled transition between administrations. And I'm certain that if there's a change in administrations, that we have the calmness as well. It's fundamental to our democracy."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"Did you see my tweet?" McConnell asked reporters. "That pretty well sums it up."

—Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) September 24, 2020

Update: This story had an incorrect transcript of Sen. Susan Collins' quote. It has been updated.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Watch the new, 1,100-horsepower Tesla Model S Plaid tear around the Laguna Seca racetrack in a new video

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 5:29pm  |  Clusterstock
Elon Musk announced the Model S Plaid at Tesla's "Battery Day" event on Tuesday.

During Tuesday's much-anticipated "Battery Day" presentation, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced, among other, more chemical thingsthe Model S Plaid — a new tri-motor version of the company's flagship sedan that will allegedly boast a 0-to-60 time of under two seconds, a top speed of 200 mph, and a 520-mile range. And while it generally takes quite some time for Musk's claims to bear fruit, Tesla proved some of the Plaid's chops in a video it posted to Twitter on Wednesday. 

At the event, Musk claimed the Plaid had clocked a lap time of 90 seconds at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Northern California, which would place it among the fastest production cars ever to hit that track. And on Wednesday, Tesla posted an in-cabin video of the Plaid whirring around the track in 1:30.3. 

For reference, that's just a hair quicker than the McLaren P1 hypercar and around three seconds slower than the newer McLaren Senna — both seven-figure supercars, compared to the Model S Plaid's $134,490 starting price. Musk, for his part, claims that the Plaid can do even better, and that it "will achieve the best track time of any production vehicle ever. Of any kind, two door or otherwise."

It's worth noting that at most race tracks, official lap records can only be achieved during actual races, so we have to take Tesla — or any other manufacturer, for that matter — at its word when it boasts about lap times. Not to mention, there's no guarantee that the Model S Plaid that set the time will be mechanically identical to the one that will hit the market late next year. Or that you, dear driver, will have anything near the skills of the expert who took it around Laguna Seca.

See the video for yourself below:

—Tesla (@Tesla) September 23, 2020


Read the original article on Business Insider

A trucking giant is paying over $90,000 a year and offering $10,000 signing bonuses as a driver hiring battle heats up

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 5:19pm  |  Clusterstock
  • Schneider National, the fifth largest trucking company in the US, is increasing its pay rate for team truck drivers and lavishing the with signing bonuses.
  • It shows how trucking companies are struggling to find drivers amid the pandemic. 
  • Truck drivers who drive with one other person, which means the truck is almost always moving, saw a pay increase in late August. 
  • Team truck drivers new to Schneider are eligible for a $10,000 bonus. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Desperate to keep its 18-wheelers on the road, America's fifth-largest trucking company is promising major cash for truck drivers. 

Schneider National said Monday that team truck drivers, the term for those who drive with one other person, received a pay bump of two to four cents per mile last month. It may seem puny, but Schneider says its team drivers average 5,000 to 6,000 miles a week — so it works out to a pay increase of up to $6,240 a year per driver.

That has pushed annual pay for many Schneider drivers above $90,000, the company said. 

Team truck drivers ensure the truck — and the goods they're moving across the country — is always moving. When one driver reaches the federal limit on how long they can spend at the wheel, their partner swaps in.

Such service is especially key as trucking companies prepare for an unusual holiday shopping season. Some retailers are planning Black Friday-like sales for as early as October, Reuters reported. Many expect online orders to break records. That means increased pressure on the trucking companies who make sure your local and online retailers are stocked. 

Schneider, which is partnered with some of the country's biggest retailers, including Walmart, is responding to that. Along with the permanent pay increases, it's offering bonuses around the holiday season for drivers to team up.

Schneider is now offering its solo drivers $5,000 to team up with another driver. Team drivers new to Schneider can snag bonuses of up to $10,000 per person. Through mid-January, the company's offering team drivers an $200 extra per month.

Trucking giants nationwide are scrambling to find new drivers

Schneider's pay bumps reveal how even major trucking companies are struggling to staff up. 

A trucking recession last year and this spring forced tens of thousands of truck drivers to leave the industry, many of them opting for retirement. But now that loads are increasing — a sign that the economy's creeping back to some level of normalcy — their former employers are feeling their absence. 

"The trucking industry had a slow period for a while — then, all the sudden, boom," Cathy Roberson, the founder of research firm Logistics Trends & Insights, told Business Insider last week

Trucking rates in the spot market, where loads are picked up in real-time without a contract, are especially high right now. chief relationship officer Brent Hutto told Business Insider earlier this month that market has gone "ballistic." Those rates have pulled many away from their regular customers, exacerbating the driver shortage. 

That's forcing companies like Amazon to take unprecedented moves to make sure your Prime packages show up on time, as Business Insider reported last week. And it means big truckers like Schneider are ready to pay cold hard cash to make sure its trucks — and your stuff — are still moving.



!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(a){if(void 0!["datawrapper-height"])for(var e in["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-"+e)||document.querySelector("iframe[src*='"+e+"']");t&&(["datawrapper-height"][e]+"px")}}))}();

Are you a truck driver with an opinion on the hiring surge? Email

Read the original article on Business Insider

The AeroGarden Harvest is a countertop planter that doesn't require soil — I use it to grow basil, dill, tomatoes, and more in my kitchen

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 5:11pm  |  Clusterstock

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

The AeroGarden Harvest is compact enough for even the smallest of kitchenettes.

I'm the type of home cook who feels pretty accomplished after adding eggs, herbs, and vegetables to instant ramen. That's largely due to the fact that my AeroGarden Harvest produces a jungle of fresh herbs and vegetables that I can "pick" every time I need them.

I received the Aerogarden as a holiday gift, and even more than a year later, it's been the gift that keeps on giving. I mean, look at these basil leaves my husband and I was able to grow within three or four months of setting up the planter. 

These Genovese basil leaves are literally the size of my palm.

What is an Aerogarden Harvest?

The Harvest is a hydroponic indoor garden that uses water — and only water — to grow herbs, vegetables, and even flowers. Most Aerogardens come with a starter pack of seed pods and a bottle of nutrients, which ours did. Our starter pack came with seeds for herbs and we've bought other packs that include seeds for vegetables like tomatoes.

It can take a few months for the seeds to germinate and grow into herbs and vegetables you can use for dishes, but it's oddly satisfying to know they came straight from your kitchen counter. We've had the Aerogarden for more than a year and have used it twice to grow herbs and tomatoes. I wouldn't say it saved so much money that the unit paid for itself, but it's definitely a fun and useful gadget to have in the kitchen.

Set up 

The main unit is basically a large water reservoir with holes for seed pods, and an extendable grow light hood. Included with this base are six pre-planted pods, six plastic lids, and a bottle of nutritious plant food that smells like vinegar but is highly effective. There's also a basic programmable LCD screen on the base that shows you the time and reminds you to add water and nutrient solution — this has come in super handy since the herbs drink up a ton of water.

The whole thing measures 7.5 x 10.75 x 17 inches at the tallest height. Low kitchen cabinets might not be able to accommodate the Harvest when the light hood is fully extended, which ours didn't, so we put the unit on the corner of our kitchen table by a window. 

The reservoir lid has six holes for the seed pods and a small opening for water, which I found to be too small because our table would suddenly turn into a kiddie pool when I'd have to water the garden. The seed pods are pre-seeded to grow mint, dill, thyme, curly parsley, and two types of basil (Genovese and Thai). The pods are labeled with the name of the herb, germination time, and the best area to place them within the base unit's grow area (front, middle, or back) depending on how tall they can get.  

You almost don't need to read the instructions because it's intuitive, and doing the steps out of order didn't really make a difference in my haste to start growing our herb garden.

The correct way to do it, though, is to set the reservoir onto the base, plug the unit into an outlet, fill the reservoir with water, plop on the pods and lids accordingly, and then add the nutrient solution. After that's all done, set the time so the system can start self-watering every five minutes and count the number of days your pods have been planted and how many until the next nutrient feeding.

Review of the AeroGarden Harvest

The dill grew nearly three feet with just water.

The first few days after I set up our Aerogarden, I found myself staring at it as if the herbs would magically grow before my eyes (they didn't) and picking up the pods to see if roots had started appearing (they also didn't). Patience is a virtue that I obviously do not possess. 

I never thought I'd say this but being able to grow your own food (even if it's just herbs) is kind of cool. I like that the unit is self-contained and doesn't require any soil, so it's great for small spaces and people who don't want to deal with bugs and soil. 

I also don't know what was in that nutrient water but it was like steroids for the herbs, especially the basil and dill. I purposely took the photo of the Harvest above next to a bottle of wine to show how ridiculously tall the dill was. For additional context, the dill measures 35 inches from the top of the water reservoir to the top of the plant, which also has started to flower at the very top. 

We've also used it these past few months to grow tomatoes. They're on the smaller side, each just slightly wider than a quarter, but they're still plump and delicious. 

Our tomatoes were small but delicious. Cons to consider

The biggest issue I had with the Harvest was the pod kit that came free with the unit. You only get to choose between a variety pack of herbs, flowers, salad greens, or vegetables. There's no option to choose only the herbs or flowers you want unless you buy a pod kit separately. 

The starter pod pack that came with our unit had six different types of herbs, but we really only liked the two types of basil. Despite how cool it looked, the dill was a waste of space for us.

One of the pods also didn't germinate and instead grew white mold, which we later found out was actually normal, but had already thrown out. 

The watering slot is also quite small. I'm only able to fill up the reservoir without making a mess on the table with a wine bottle because of its small opening.

The bottom line 

The AeroGarden Harvest is a fun indoor garden that anyone can appreciate — it's easy to use and being able to say you grew the herbs that you're eating is cool. The unit isn't cheap, but the price can be justified because you're growing things that you would've bought otherwise. It won't save you enough to pay for the initial cost of the AeroGarden itself unless you use the same herbs on a daily basis, but I can see it coming in handy nonetheless. 

I also like that it's compact and self-contained so it won't overwhelm even the tiniest of kitchenettes. I might've experienced a little bit of beginner's luck with my herbs and tomatoes, but I'm super excited to see if I can ride this wave and grow even more with the AeroGarden Harvest.

Pros: Easy to set up, fun to use, edible results 

Cons: Basic unit can feel flimsy, expensive for a novelty item, free starter pod kit can't be customized 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The Justice Department released a 'bizarre' statement saying it's investigating 'potential issues with mail-in ballots' in Pennsylvania, and no one knows what it means

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 5:10pm  |  Clusterstock
Trump has made a flurry of baseless attacks on voting by mail.
  • The Department of Justice released two statements on Thursday announcing an investigation into "potential issues with mail-in ballots" in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
  • The first statement said a "small number of military ballots were discarded," investigators had "recovered nine ballots at this time," and "all nine ballots were cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump."
  • That statement was deleted from the DOJ's website, and a revised statement that was released shortly afterward said seven of the nine ballots were cast for Trump and that it was unknown whom the remaining two were cast for.
  • Both statements set off alarm bells with election experts and DOJ veterans who said they likely violated the department's policy and appeared to be politically motivated in light of Trump's baseless attacks on voting by mail.
  • It was unclear whether the ballots the statement said were "discarded" were cast as part of the primary or general election, and experts said it was also highly unusual for the statement to disclose whom voters cast their ballots for.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Department of Justice on Thursday released a statement saying it was investigating "reports of potential issues with mail-in ballots" in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

Initially, the department announced a "small number of military ballots were discarded" and that investigators had "recovered nine ballots at this time." It added that "all nine ballots were cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump."

However, the statement was deleted from the DOJ's website shortly afterward and a revised statement was released.

—Philip Bump (@pbump) September 24, 2020

The second statement said "of the nine ballots that were discarded and then recovered, 7 were cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump. Two of the discarded ballots had been resealed inside their appropriate envelopes by Luzerne elections staff prior to recovery by the FBI and the contents of those 2 ballots are unknown."

The revised statement said the FBI's field office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, began investigating the matter on Monday along with the US Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. It said the inquiry was launched at the request of Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis and focused on "reports of potential issues with a small number of mail-in ballots at the Luzerne County Board of Elections."

The statement said FBI agents working with the Pennsylvania State Police had since conducted "numerous interviews and recovered certain physical evidence" and that Luzerne County election officials "have been cooperative."

"Our inquiry remains ongoing and we expect later today to share our up to date findings with officials in Luzerne County," the statement added.

Both statements raised red flags with election experts and DOJ veterans who said they appeared to be politically motivated and may have violated department policy. It was also unclear what the statements meant when they said the ballots had been "discarded" and whether the ballots in question were primary or general-election ballots.

A DOJ spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

"This is both bizarre and disturbing — US Attorney's Offices don't issue reports on pending investigations — and certainly not reports so blatantly contrived to provide political ballast for a sitting President's campaign narrative," David Laufman, a former senior official in the DOJ's national security division, wrote on Twitter.

Indeed, shortly after the DOJ released its initial statement on the investigation, Matt Wolking, a deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, tweeted that the announcement was proof "Democrats are trying to steal the election."

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, also pointed to the first statement, tweeting, "Nine military mail-in ballots — ALL cast for President @realDonaldTrump — were found discarded in Pennsylvania! DOJ confirms."

Trump and congressional Republicans have made a flurry of baseless attacks on voting by mail and mail-in ballots in recent months. The president has suggested without evidence that an increase in mail-in ballots amid the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to widespread voter fraud and a "rigged" general election.

Nonpartisan experts and multiple studies have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and millions of Americans vote by mail every year. Trump and many of his top staff and family members have also voted by mail or tried to in recent years. And the president's campaign and Republican officials are quietly encouraging absentee and mail-in voting amid fears that Trump's claims will hurt Republicans by depressing turnout among his own voters, The Associated Press reported in May.

Elie Honig, a former longtime federal prosecutor from the Southern District of New York, told Business Insider that it was not only unusual for the DOJ to issue such a statement about an ongoing investigation but also "against DOJ's own stated policy."

Moreover, he said, "The fact that the purportedly discarded ballots were cast for Trump is entirely irrelevant to any criminal investigation. It's fodder for a political talking point."

Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine, and an election-security expert, wrote on Twitter that it was "shocking" for the DOJ to announce who voters cast their ballots for. "The release of that information seems to be for political reasons," he wrote.

David Becker, a former voting-rights attorney at the DOJ, echoed that view and highlighted a number of other irregularities in the DOJ's statement.

"Even more unexplainable is the fact that DOJ has already revised the statement," he tweeted. "Now it's only 7 votes, and no explanation of how these were discarded or found, or why they were opened, nor why they disclosed Pres vote at all, violating secrecy, and not other races."

Read the original article on Business Insider

I hadn't flown in over 4 months, but The Gant Aspen lured me to Colorado with condo-style rooms, outdoor activities, and reassuring COVID-19 policies

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 5:03pm  |  Clusterstock

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

As a professional travel and lifestyle writer, the pandemic hit me hard. While I've been incredibly cautious about travel, after four months of lockdown at home, a trip to the mountains was enough to entice me to get on a plane. 

And while I typically tend to take international trips, after being cooped up for so long, a getaway to Aspen seemed as exotic and exciting as going to Europe. After reading up on whether flying was safe, I felt confident enough to travel by plane from New York to Aspen, armed with plenty of masks and hand sanitizer. 

However, I also wanted to make sure that once I arrived, the resort I would be staying in would have COVID-19 policies in place.  

The Gant set itself apart thanks to its location, condo-style rooms with full kitchens, and new COVID-19 policies. Located at the base of Aspen Mountain, The Gant is optimally located in downtown Aspen and surrounded by the White River National Forest and the verdant Elk Mountain Range. It's tucked away near residential, single-family homes and condos, yet is still within easy walking distance to popular attractions, including the Silver Queen Gondola, which in the summer and fall allows access to disc golf, hiking trails, and mountaintop yoga. Additionally, at the top of The Gant's homepage, they had an easy-to-find COVID-19 update, which outlined everything from cleanliness initiatives to cancellation policies.

In addition to its stunning setting, the property itself has plenty of amenities to keep guests busy, including a pool, multiple hot tubs, complimentary bikes, and a complimentary shuttle to and from the mountain for easy access to all the outdoor offerings, of which there are many. Aspen is a destination for year-round recreation, including mountain biking, hiking, mountaintop meditation, and water sports in the summer months. Of course, skiing and snowboarding Aspen Mountain are ever-popular activities in the winter.

And while my stay in a Standard Aspen Condo was comped for review purposes, the starting rate of a one-bedroom for $199 per night makes the 140-room condo resort far more wallet-friendly than many more expensive options in town. 

My pickiness paid off. I ended up feeling very safe throughout my stay, and was able to take full advantage of the outdoor setting. Here's what it was like.

Read on to see why I was so impressed with The Gant Aspen. The resort offers a complimentary shuttle to and from the airport.

After a quick 15-minute ride from Aspen Airport to The Gant, the complimentary resort shuttle (called "Gant Vans") stopped at the roundabout in front of the wooden overhang that led to the lobby. I was the only passenger on the roomy shuttle and it was nice not to have to touch any handles getting off thanks to the automatic doors. 

Upon entering the hotel, immediately to my left was a free mask station with two options: standard blue masks, as well as cloth fabric neck gaiters with The Gant logo. The extra attention to detail with the mask station made me feel safe right off the bat, and the neck gaiter was an appropriate souvenir (and essential) for travel during the pandemic.

As I approached the front check-in desk, there were two attendants standing behind a thick plastic shield, both wearing masks properly over their nose and mouths. There were also a few pump hand sanitizer bottles for guests to use as they were checking in. A nice touch was two separate and clearly labeled jars for "clean pens" versus "used pens" so guests were able to differentiate between the two as an extra measure of safety.

While there was a small sitting area with gray leather armchairs, there was no line at check-in so I quickly received my room key. The bellman showed me the way to my room while wearing a PPE mask over his face. All of the staff that I saw from arrival onwards were wearing masks at all times.

Rooms feature cozy fireplaces and private decks.

The Gant accommodations range from one- to four-bedrooms, and since I was traveling with a friend, we reserved a Standard Two-Bedroom Aspen Condo, which starts at $215.

The room was plenty spacious for two people and would even work well for families. The furnishings evoked a mountain-chic vibe, with a beautiful wood-accented dining table, wood paneling, and a full sitting area with a comfy couch. 

My friend and I were especially pleased that each bedroom came with its own en-suite bathroom so we could both have our own space. Each bathroom included tubs and rain showers that were especially nice after a long day outdoors. 

The real wood-burning fireplace was a cozy touch (even if it was just pretty to look at in the summer). An ample private deck off the living room came furnished with two lounge chairs with a side table and was an idyllic place to watch the sunrise while having tea in the morning. 

The kitchen was fully stocked with all the cooking essentials from pots and pans to silverware.

Having access to a full kitchen was nice for two reasons. First, we quickly realized that food was not cheap in Aspen, and it provided us the option to heat up leftovers.

We also liked that we could buy food from the grocery store and cook meals ourselves, which was especially relevant for guests who may not feel comfortable eating at restaurants just yet. The room came fully stocked with all the cooking essentials like pots, plates, and silverware.

Since I am an avid tea drinker, the tea kettle, along with a paper bag full of tea, coffee, and condiments was the icing on the cake. I usually travel with loose teas but forgot to pack mine. Luckily, the housekeeping staff refreshed our coffee and tea on a daily basis. However, in keeping with updated protocols, the staff was careful to only come in the room when we were out.

After living in New York City for years and having to truck my dirty clothes several blocks away to the laundromat, The Gant's stacked laundry unit in the room was perhaps my favorite amenity. There were two complimentary Tide pods provided, so I even washed items that barely needed it so I wouldn't have any laundry to do when I got back home.

I enjoyed a good night's sleep on the bed, which was medium firmness with a warm comforter and there was also an extra blanket in the closet in case I got chilly from the AC.

Our two-bedroom condo was just right for our purposes, though families or groups may want to take full advantage of the three- and four-bedroom options, which start at $370. Similarly, couples and solo travelers who still want access to a kitchen and a separate sitting area would have more than enough space in a one-bedroom, which can come in at $199 in slower seasons and offer a serious deal when compared with many other hotel options in the area.

The Standard was one of three levels of interiors we could have booked, followed by Deluxe or Premier condominiums. Those looking for chicer, high-end finishings may want to consider the recently renovated Premiere Condos and Deluxe Condos. The newer rooms are professionally decorated and include nicer touches like new appliances, stone fireplaces, marble countertops, and more modern decor. That said, beyond being newer, they don't offer much else in terms of additional space or amenities and start at $280 for a one-bedroom. While a little more dated, I found my Standard Condo to be more than sufficient and the better value.

However, keep in mind that the best savings are found in the summer and fall low season. Once the winter ski season gets into full swing, the starting price of a room like ours quickly surges to $529. That said, in Aspen, it's not uncommon for popular ritzy resort rooms to go for upwards of $1,000 per night, so, The Gant still offers a strong value despite the higher winter price tag.

Compare room types and prices for The Gant I tried a different smoothie every morning from Pepperjack's Cafe.

There is a resort fee of 5% per night per room. However, with multiple pools, tennis courts, complimentary bikes, and a handy free shuttle available, it feels justified.

All of the on-site amenities were open during my stay but were altered slightly to address COVID-19 safety concerns.

The on-site restaurant, Pepperjack's Café, had signage at the front entrance to make sure people were wearing masks upon entry. I enjoyed the breakfast offerings and had fun trying out a different smoothie combo each day.

I also enjoyed a scenic outdoor breakfast on the Ute Rooftop Terrace, which was completely empty except for a woman tending the beautiful plants that were placed along the perimeter. 

There are two heated outdoor pools and three hot tubs for guests to take advantage of.

The property includes two heated outdoor pools and three hot tubs with jets, which are all currently open to guests. The hotel is following state protocols and pools are operating at 50% capacity, while hot tubs are limited to four people traveling in the same party. The chaise lounge chairs and towel cabinets are sanitized several times throughout the day.

While the surrounding wooded mountains offer a serene setting, one downside for couples or those looking for a more tranquil atmosphere is that neither pool is adults-only and there were always kids splashing about in both pools when I was there.

The gym isn't huge but includes treadmills, elliptical, free weights, and spin bikes.

Since I am big on health, wellness, and outdoor sports, it was important that the place I stayed in Aspen had relevant amenities. I was impressed that The Gant had five tennis courts, including three clay courts, and a WE-Cycle bike share station. I also took advantage of the gym, which was generally pretty quiet and felt plenty clean and safe. I did wear my mask the entire time I worked out, as was required.

The free Gant Vans operate a loop from The Gant to Gondola Plaza (Aspen Mountain's Silver Queen Gondola) and to the bus station for transfers to the other ski mountains.  There is on-demand transportation anywhere within Aspen from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

During the ski season, there are on-site ski butlers for ski rental and boot fitting convenience. The hotel also offers complimentary ski valet and overnight storage, overnight ski tuning, and ski and snowboard lesson arrangements through the concierge.

This year, the hotel is partnering with top outfitters to offer guests the chance to set up paid private winter experiences from dog sledding to guided snowshoe tours.



  Hiking trails, mountaintop yoga, mountain biking, and many popular downtown attractions were all easily accessible from The Gant.

When staying at The Gant there is no need to rent a car. Located in the downtown area, you can walk off the property and within a couple of blocks be surrounded by art galleries, shopping, and delicious restaurants like Bosq, where I had dinner one night on the outdoor terrace.

The Aspen Museum and Aspen Mountain's Silver Queen Gondola are big attractions that are also conveniently walkable from the property. I also took the free shuttle to various places in the downtown area, including the entrance to the Red Butte trail, which was a beautiful hike to do in the morning.

I was even able to take off my mask during parts of the hike and fully enjoy the fresh mountain air! At the top, I was greeted with gorgeous views and an overlook of downtown Aspen. The location of the Gant also made it easy for me to enjoy other outdoor activities including mountaintop yoga and mountain biking.

Although the Silver Queen Gondola is a 10-minute walk, during the ski season, you can take your skis or snowboard aboard the Gant Van to the gondola for easy and efficient mountain access.

Check flight prices to Aspen on Expedia

The Gant is ranked 5 out of 34 hotels in Aspen on Trip Advisor.

Some past guests praise the staff and say they can tell they want to come to work every day, while others gush about the close proximity to town at only .25 miles. The Gant is also ranked 9.1 out of 10 on and people similarly rave about the location and the service.

Only 15 people on Trip Advisor rated the property as "poor," compared to 965 as "excellent." However, a few reviewers noted that the Standard rooms weren't particularly modern and that some rooms could use a refresh. If you're looking for elevated luxury, you may be disappointed.

Read reviews, compare prices, and book The Gant on TripAdvisor

Who stays here: The condo-style accommodations adjacent to the downtown Aspen area make this property popular with a mix of friends, families, couples, and business travelers.

Are guests adhering to COVID policies?: Yes. Although I frequently see people in New York and New Jersey walking around in public without masks, it was reassuring to see that most people in Aspen were wearing masks in public spaces both indoors and outdoors, in compliance with Colorado's current executive order. The staff at the hotel were all wearing proper PPE throughout my stay too.

We like: The breakfast at Pepperjack's Café was healthy and gave me a kick start to my day. The solitude of eating on the rooftop above the restaurant offered beautiful views while enjoying the meal.

We love (don't miss this feature!): The complimentary Gant Van shuttle to the airport, gondola, and downtown locations. It's highly convenient to not need a car and would be an especially great perk when trekking around heavy skis or snowboards in the winter. 

We think you should know: Neither outdoor pool is adults only. There will be kids in there happily splashing around. Also, if you're looking for a truly luxurious stay that is often typical of the Aspen area, you may be best suited to a different property. 

We'd do this differently next time: Many of the restaurants in downtown Aspen fill up quickly for dinner and I had trouble walking in. Therefore, I would recommend making a reservation ahead of time if you plan to eat off-property. 

The Gant has new protocols and a COVID-19 update that guests can read online. The property also follows Colorado's Executive Order D 2020 138 that requires people to wear a face-covering over their noses and mouths when entering or moving within any public indoor space. 

New policies in place include:

  • Enhanced cleaning standards and signage throughout the property, including guest rooms, meeting spaces, public common areas, and back-of-house employee spaces.
  • Complimentary face coverings available for all guests, including choice of standard mask or a gaiter with The Gant logo.
  • Superior, locally sourced, cleaning products in accordance with CDC guidelines.
  • Access to certain guest amenities such as the pools, hot tubs, fitness center, and Pepperjack's Café guided by state and local health guidelines with reduced capacity.

I also spoke with the Director of Marketing & Sales for The Gant about additional new safety precautions and was told the hotel is waiting two days between guests when booking rooms to help guests feel safer during turnover. 

I saw first-hand that The Gant is providing complimentary face coverings in the lobby, so if you forget your mask or its dirty, you have a backup. At check-in, there were also partitions up at the counter and extra touches like having a "clean" and "used" pen jar. I felt safe moving around the property and the staff was always wearing masks and consistently social distancing as much as possible.

Thanks to condo-style rooms, The Gant is an excellent choice for a wide range of travelers from families and groups of friends to business travelers seeking some extra space. The full kitchens, en-suite laundry, and private decks allow guests to be self-sufficient while on vacation, which is especially nice in the new social distancing era.  

While it's not one of the ritzy resorts Aspen is often known for, and may not satisfy those looking for a high-end luxury hotel, The Gant offers a more affordable stay that still comes with plenty of appealing amenities.

The on-site offerings are extensive, with two pools, four hot tubs, and several tennis courts. The property is also ideally situated to take advantage of the Aspen area, too, and is within easy walking distance to area attractions, restaurants, hiking trails, and the ski gondola. The free shuttle to and from the airport and to top attractions means there's virtually no reason to rent a car.

Finally, the property is taking COVID-19 policies seriously, from free masks and neck gaiters at the entrance, to waiting two days between guest bookings in all rooms. I felt very safe throughout my stay and found The Gant to be a blissful home base for enjoying Aspen and its ample outdoor offerings.

Book a room at The Gant starting at $199 per night Read the original article on Business Insider

The Kong Wobbler is a food-dispensing toy that keeps my dog from scarfing down his meals

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 4:55pm  |  Clusterstock

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

The Kong Wobbler is an excellent alternative to a traditional dog food bowl.

  • My German shepherd needs a lot of mental stimulation, so he uses the Kong Wobbler for all of his meals.
  • The Kong Wobbler is a dog food and treat-dispensing toy that comes in two sizes.
  • The Wobbler keeps my dog occupied and slows him down when he eats so he doesn't scarf his whole meal down in 30 seconds.

When my German shepherd, Silas, was a puppy, he had endless energy. He could walk for miles and play fetch for hours, and he would still be chomping at the bit for more. I did everything I could to tire him out mentally and physically, and I was constantly looking for products that would entertain him (and that he wouldn't destroy in a matter of minutes). 

I also learned that feeding your dog their meal from a food-dispensing toy provides mental stimulation and is a good outlet for their extra energy, so I started feeding Silas with the Kong Wobbler. Now that Silas is 5 years old, he still eats every single meal out of his Kong Wobbler. He hasn't had a traditional food bowl for years.  

How the Kong Wobbler works

We've affectionately named the Wobbler the "rolly-polly" in our house because Silas rolls it all around the floor every time he eats. The Wobbler, which is shaped like the beloved Kong Classic dog toy, is filled with sand on the bottom to help it stay upright. Silas pushes it around the floor with his nose, making it wobble back and forth to get his food out.  

The Wobbler comes in two sizes: small and large. The large size is perfect for my 95-pound dog, and the small size works well for my in-laws' 20-pound dog. 

To fill the Wobbler, you simply unscrew the bottom and put food or treats inside. The large Wobbler holds about 3 cups of Silas' kibble when completely full. There is a small opening on one side just big enough for one piece of kibble to come out at a time. 

It takes Silas about 10 to 15 minutes to eat a meal, and those 10 to 15 minutes were some of the most relaxing minutes of the day when he was younger and wanted to play 24/7. I would give him the Wobbler and sit back and relax while he ate. 

The Wobbler is made of hard plastic that is very durable and easy to hand-wash or put in the dishwasher. There are very few toys we can give Silas that don't get destroyed instantly, but he's been using the same Wobbler for years, and it's still in great condition. 

The sturdy plastic dog food dispenser comes in two pieces that are dishwasher safe.

The biggest perk

The Wobbler stimulates Silas' brain and keeps him occupied, but I also love that it slows him down while he eats. Many dog owners face the problem of their dogs scarfing their food down too quickly. If I set a bowl of food in front of Silas, he'll eat it all right away, but with the Wobbler, he can only eat a few pieces at a time. This dramatically slows down his eating, which can also help reduce the risk of bloat, a condition that German shepherds and other large breed dogs are prone to. 

Not all dogs love the Wobbler though

It can be hard to tell if your dog will actually use the Wobbler to get their food. There have been enthusiastically reviewed products I've tried with Silas that he has hated, so you just never know. My in-laws' dog has the small version of the Wobbler and he uses it occasionally, but he doesn't enjoy it as much as Silas. This product likely works best for dogs that are highly motivated to get their food or those that enjoy a challenge. 

Dogs, especially those with strong jaws, are notorious for being able to destroy pretty much anything. While Silas doesn't try to chew the Wobbler, I imagine very strong jaws would be able to penetrate the hard plastic. 

The bottom line

Silas hasn't eaten his food out of a regular bowl in years, and I don't see him starting anytime soon. Whenever he is hungry, he simply paws at the Wobbler to let us know he needs more food.

We use the Wobbler for every single one of Silas' meals, but it can also be used simply for treats. This would be a great option for dogs that are less motivated to eat their regular meals but could use some mental stimulation.

If you're not sure how your dog will feel about having to work that hard for their food, you could also try a stationary slow feeder. On the other hand, if your dog needs even more mental stimulation, try working their mind with a food puzzle filled with treats.


Read the original article on Business Insider

The best hiking socks

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 4:52pm  |  Clusterstock
  • Hiking socks are a critical part of your outdoor kit and should be chosen with the same level of care while shopping as you would with base layers, rain shells, or hiking boots. 
  • The best hiking socks offer enough support and comfort for long days on the trail, keep you warm when temperatures drop, and are built for durability.
  • Our top pick, Darn Tough's Merino Wool Hiker Boot Socks, are extremely comfortable, offer a snug yet flexible fit, and are tough enough to last for hundreds of miles of hiking.

When I was sixteen, I spent three weeks trekking across much of northern Spain. It was a formative experience that cemented a lifelong love for hiking and the outdoors. Among the wisdom I gained during that long-ago journey was a gem I keep with me today: Don't be cheap when it comes to buying hiking socks.

Within the first few days of my trek, my feet developed multiple blisters caused by the abrasion of my boots rubbing through thin socks. My feet were covered in open sores in just my first week and every step was agonizing — it was difficult to push on. It was then that I learned (the absolute hardest way) of the benefits of a reliable hiking sock. 

In the nearly two decades since that trip, I've logged hundreds of miles over mountains, across trails, on roadsides, and elsewhere — and I've bought and tested many pairs of hiking socks. Finding the right pair of hiking socks not only means choosing a pair that's comfortable and fits properly, but you'll also want to consider the materials, construction, and conditions beyond your feet.

How to shop for hiking socks

There are a few general notes about materials to keep in mind while shopping. First, avoid 100% cotton socks whenever possible. Stick to blended options containing some combination of wool or acrylic. I also recommend avoiding socks made of any one single material. Though people swear by wool or acrylic, blends were created to get the best out of both. 

In cold weather, wool helps keep your feet warm, especially if you don't own a pair of winter-specific boots. In wetter conditions, a good percentage of acrylic keeps you drier and many artificial fibers, such as PrimaLoft, keep you warm even when wet. In any condition, you want something with stretch material to keep the sock fitting snugly without causing any hot spots or chafing.

To help narrow down which pair of hiking socks is right for you, we've compiled the following list of our favorites currently available from brands like Darn Tough, Bombas, and Smartwool. 

Editor's note: Click here for insight into our testing methodology.

Here are the best hiking socks:

Updated on 9/24/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the section on how to shop for hiking socks, included a rundown of how we tested each pair, checked the availability of all recommended socks, and updated the prices and links where necessary. 

The best hiking socks overall The Darn Tough Merino Wool Hiker Boot Socks offer unmatched support and cushioning to increase comfort and prevent soreness and injury during long treks.

The Darn Tough Merino Wool Hiker Boot Socks for men and for women were specifically designed to stabilize, cushion, and hug all parts of your foot, ankle, and shin. The idea is to provide ample support against stresses and strains caused by repetitive, heavy footfalls that come with a good hike.

Taut elastic wraps under your arches provide support for this sensitive, critical part of the foot. Extra cushioning pads your heels and toes, helping reduce the impact during each part of a step. There's also generous ribbing above the ankle providing compression to your shins, reducing the likelihood of shin splints.

Made with a blend of wool, nylon, and spandex, these socks are warm and wicking. As the brand name promises, they are indeed darn tough, lasting for many miles more than most competitors — which is good, because they cost a bit more, too.

Buy the women's version here.

Pros: Excellent support, durable construction, warm and wicking

Cons: Expensive

The best hiking socks for cold weather The Fox River Cold Weather Explorer Socks are designed to keep your feet warm when the temperature drops.

With the Fox River Cold Weather Explorer Socks, cold feet can be a thing of the past. These socks keep your feet warm thanks to a blend of acrylic, wool, nylon, and spandex fabrics. Fox River used a generous amount of fabric in its construction, too, making the socks extremely thick. They also feature a "thermalined wool" design that keeps this naturally warm fiber close to your skin.

The lining and the exterior fabric blend work in concert to draw moisture away from your foot, keeping you drier and therefore warmer — this also makes it less likely you'll develop blisters.

These can be a bit bulky for some hikers' preference, so keep this in mind when shopping for these. If your preferred hiking boots are already snug, these might not be the most comfortable option. 

Pros: Great for cold weather, wool lining provides comfort, affordable price point

Cons: Too bulky for comfort in some boots

The best stylish hiking socks A pair of Bombas Hiking Socks keep your feet supported and cool during hours on the trail, and look great when you put your feet up back at the lodge.

When it comes to form versus function, the merits of a pair of hiking socks should be judged entirely by the latter. Frankly, the looks of your hiking socks shouldn't matter so long as they keep your feet warm when it's cold, cool when it's hot, and dry and protected at all times. But if you find a pair of hiking socks that cover the basics while also looking good, why not indulge?

Each pair of the Bombas Hiking Socks use a pleasing blend of colors woven into a natural-looking pattern that's subtle enough not to draw attention yet fashionable enough for admiration when noticed. But of course, these socks wouldn't be on the list if they didn't also perform. The Insider Reviews team tested a few pairs out and, by and large, liked them.

Bombas Hiking Socks have a reinforced heel and toe and use a system of honeycomb stitching to add arch support. They allow for decent breathability and wick away sweat. Do note that due to the 62% cotton used in the blend, they'll lose much of their thermal properties if soaked through. They may even slightly shrink after washing but do stretch out again after you work them onto your foot.

Buy the women's version here.

Pros: Stylish appearance, good arch support, Bombas makes a charitable donation with each sale

Cons: Cotton fibers reduce insulation properties when wet

The best hiking socks for warm weather Smartwool's PhD Outdoor Light Hiking Crew socks feature a mesh ventilating system designed to keep your feet cool during warm weather hikes. 

Though wool is synonymous with warmth, it also excels at keeping you cool by absorbing and repelling moisture (i.e. sweat). Smartwool's PhD (which stands for Performance in the Highest Degree) line of hiking socks goes a step further by offering a ventilation system that makes the sock ultra-breathable. This helps keep your feet dry and comfortable no matter how hot it gets outside. 

The socks also feature the brand's performance-specific fit which produces a snug fit and helps them avoid creeping down while hiking. Padding in the heel and the ball of the foot provide support in high-use areas and work to prevent blisters or hot spots. 

Hiking socks often take a beating but Smartwool's PhDs are built for durability and are capable of standing up to everything from 15-mile day hikes to multi-day backpacking trips without showing significant signs of wear. The fact its wool features a natural odor blocker is much appreciated, too. 

Pros: Breathable, mesh design keeps feet cool in hot weather, wool helps block odors, features a snug fit that won't fall down

Cons: Tend to run smaller, so sizing up is recommended

The best odor-blocking hiking sock You know that stink coming off your feet after you kick off your hiking boots following a ten-mile trek? You won't smell it if you're wearing the ScentLok Elite Sport Crew socks.

I'd recommend the ScentLok Elite Sport Crew socks for hikers even if it weren't for the unique silver alloy infused into the fibers. Silver particles prevent bacterial growth, which therefore prevents the development of stinky feet — a must-have for anyone trekking multiple miles. 

Even beyond the odor-blocking, these are an excellent pair of activewear socks. They have a supportive bridge and arch compression zone, a cushioned sole and heel, and they wick moisture as well as any decent hiking sock. There is also a seamless toe pocket which reduces the chance of irritation and blisters.

I own two pairs of ScentLok sports socks and both have held up well during regular use. I also happen to have several pairs of the brand's more casual, everyday socks, and these have also proven comfortable and durable when worn around town or just around the house.

If you consistently battle foot funk, you'll want to add a pair of ScentLok's Elite Sport Crew socks to your hiking kit immediately.

Pros: Help prevent food odor, good mid-foot support, durable construction

Cons: Rise too high for some hikers' preference

The best compression hiking sock Swiftwick's Flite XT Five socks are supremely grippy with support around the ankle to provide stability and comfort no matter how long you're on the trail. 

Swiftwick specializes in compression socks that aid in a variety of ways, be it to promote blood flow or soothe sore muscles. Though these aren't necessarily things on the mind of hikers getting ready to hit the trail, they're still incredibly important to be aware of.

Our favorite compression sock to hike in from Swiftwick is the brand's crew cut Flite XT Five socks. Made of 66% nylon, 7% polyester, 14% olefin, and 3% spandex, the Flite socks offer just enough compression without feeling too snug and are able to move as you move over rocks, logs, or whatever you come across outside. 

Swiftwick outfit these socks with special fibers that add grip inside your shoes (or boots, rather) which helps improve stability and control. The olefin in the fabric also helps wick away excess moisture and goes a long way in helping your feet stay dry. Their $24 price tag is a little on the steep side but it's hard to find this come of compression quality without paying a premium.

Pros: Compression promotes blood flow and helps keep your feet feeling good for miles on end, the sock's fibers add extra grip inside your hiking boot, and the olefin in the fabric helps wick away sweat. 

Cons: Expensive, not everyone will feel comfortable in a compression sock

How we test

Each pair of hiking socks featured in this guide went through a series of on-foot tests to see how well they held up across these four categories: Comfort, durability, features, and value. Specifically, here's how each category factored into which pairs of hiking socks we ultimately featured:

  • Comfort: Perhaps the most important of the four categories we considered, how comfortable a hiking sock feels (as well as how it fits) when worn is a vital detail. And hiking socks should keep comfortable no matter how many miles you decide to hike, be it a short day hike or a multi-day, tens of miles per day backpacking trip. We looked for all facets of comfort, too: On-foot feel, how it felt at the end of a long day, and how it held up during sweltering hikes, freezing hikes, and everything in between. 
  • Durability: Holes or tears developing in socks is nearly inevitable, though it's ideal for this not to occur until you've quite literally worn through the pair. This means that we stress-tested the socks over more than just a hike or two — we lived in them. 
  • Features: A fancy category for something as basic as a hiking sock but added features do contribute to why one pair might better than the other. The most notable features are sweat-wicking capability, arch support, odor-resistant, and compression. Some features are more well-suited to specific terrain or even a specific wearer, so not everyone will need a hiking sock packed to the gills with each one of these — though a sock with at least two or three of them should be on your radar, and something we kept in mind while testing. 
  • Value: A hiking sock's value is essentially a combination of the three categories above, as well as a true assessment of its sticker price and worth. Of course, it'd be ideal not to spend a large amount of money on a simple pair of socks but we're of the thinking that it's better to spend a little more to invest in a premium product than to spend less more often. Now, this doesn't mean we only featured socks with high price tags but more so that a sock's value isn't just confined to what it'll cost. 


Read the original article on Business Insider

Inside a tiny-home village of abandoned streetcars that once existed in San Francisco in 1900 where the city's bohemians and artists lived

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 4:44pm  |  Clusterstock
Carville was an early 1900s bohemian neighborhood in the city's Sunset District — until developers came knocking.
  • A neighborhood of abandoned streetcars turned into homes and businesses once existed in early-20th-century San Francisco.
  • Carville, or Carville-by-the-Sea or Cartown, was built when the city sold its outdated horse-drawn trolley cars for under $20, which is about $600 in today's dollars, and their new owners set them up in the city's Sunset District.
  • The village became an epicenter of San Francisco bohemia until developers and realtors came hunting for more housing space.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.


San Francisco's neighborhoods have long been turned inside out, seeing transformation after transformation as housing demand in the region increased each passing decade.

That might go back further than we think — around 1900, a neighborhood called Carville existed, constructed out of the city's outdated and discarded horse-drawn trolley cars.

There were restaurants, clubhouses, homes, and more in the tiny-home village, and it became an epicenter for bohemians of early-20th-century San Francisco.

But then a problem that the modern-day tech hub of San Francisco knows all too well began to encroach on the free-loving, streetcar neighborhood: The city needed more space to build more housing, and developers turned their eyes to Carville.

Here's what it was like in Carville before the neighborhood gradually faded away.

The California Gold Rush ushered thousands of eager gold miners into San Francisco between 1848 and 1849. Montgomery Street in 1850.

Source: History

The bustling economy transformed the city and its many neighborhoods. At the time, horse-drawn trolley cars ferried people around the city. San Francisco cable car at Market, Post and Montgomery Streets in 1880.

Source: Outside Lands

But eventually San Francisco's now-iconic electric and cable street cars hit the city scene, which meant that the Market Street Railway Company needed to get rid of the horse-drawn carriages. A cable car in San Francisco in 1873. So the railway company ran newspaper ads for the outdated cars in the late 19th century, offering them up for $20 a pop, and $10 if they didn't have seats. That's about $600 and $300 in today's dollars. San Franciscans made use of the cars across the city, from North Beach to Bernal Heights, but most of them ended up in a makeshift neighborhood near Ocean Beach. Abandoned trolley cars in the Sunset sometime between 1895 and 1913. Ocean Beach sits on the opposite side of the city's bustling city center. In addition to Ocean Beach, the western area consists of neighborhoods like the Richmond and Sunset Districts.

Source: SF Gate

Sand dunes were the area's biggest feature. It was somewhat lovingly referred to as "the Sahara of San Francisco" or "Outside Lands."

Source: SF Gate

After other parts of San Francisco got a Gold Rush-induced makeover, this part of the 49-square-mile area remained largely uninhabited and un-travelled. The Outer Sunset in 1910. It wasn't until 1883, when a transit route was put into place running from the east side of Golden Gate Park around to the west, that Ocean Beach became a popular spot for people looking for a leisurely Sunday at the beach. Carville in the distance and bathers at Ocean Beach in 1895.

Source: Outside Lands

The then-mayor Adolph Sutro also hoped to attract wealthy buyers to Ocean Beach, envisioning grand mansions populating the sand-dune expanse. The Cliff House restaurant at Ocean Beach in 1898.

Source: Outside Lands

But that's not exactly what happened — a friend of Sutro's named Colonel Dailey used some of the abandoned cars to build a coffee shop, and he found eager customers in beachgoers.

Source: Outside Lands

Dailey's converted coffee shop became a hit with the city's bohemian community. Others began following suit, acquiring the discarded horsecars and setting them up in Ocean Beach. Carville in 1910. Some cars were stand-alone establishments, and some were stacked on top of each other in creative architectural configurations. Carville in 1905. And thus Carville neighborhood was born. There were all kinds of tenants, both residents and businesses. One car was rented by a city judge and another by a ladies' bicycle club called the Falcons, who ended up renting even more of the cars over the years. Miss Gunn's Home Cooking Restaurant in Carville.

Source: Found SF

The Falcons would use the abandoned cars to take naps after long rides and would host dinners and parties at a table befit for as many as 28 people. They'd also go for swims in the ocean "when no one was looking."

Source: Found SF

Another car belonged to the "Fuzzy Bunch," a group of San Franciscan bohemian writers like Jack London, Ina Coolbrith, and George Sterling. Not necessarily the car belonging to the "Fuzzy Bunch."

Source: Found SF and San Francisco Chronicle

And Dailey's coffee shop car later found a new life as a clubhouse to a group of jovial, professional musicians, who dubbed their space "La Boheme" after the iconic Italian opera that debuted in 1896. They used their car for nights full of drinking and swimming in the water.

Source: Found SF and SF Gate

Families looking for more permanent homes started moving in, too. By 1901, there were about 100 streetcars in Carville housing around 50 families.

Source: SF Gate

And after the 1906 earthquake and fire, refugees filed to the bohemian beachside neighborhood in search of a new place to live. About 2,000 people were living in Carville in 1908. St. Andrew by the Sea Protestant Episcopal Church on 47th Ave. in 1908.

Source: Found SF

But then a problem that the modern-day tech hub of San Francisco knows all too well began to encroach on the free-loving, streetcar neighborhood: The city needed more space to build more housing, and developers turned their eyes to Carville.

Source: Outside Lands

And they weren't too keen on the neighborhood's abandoned streetcars and bohemian lifestyle. Realtors aimed to transform the area "From Carville to Real Homes," and preferred Oceanside instead of Carville as the district's moniker. A home in Carville decked out in Victorian decor.

Source: Outside Lands

Part of their objective was to take the "car out of Carville."

Source: SF Gate

On July 4, 1913, a group called the Oceanside Improvement Club ceremoniously set fire to one of the street cars, the tenant of which had already moved out, with an accompanying cluster of fireworks to celebrate the July 4th holiday. St. Andrew by the Sea Protestant Episcopal Church on 47th Ave. in 1910.

Source: SF Gate

Most of the street-car homes were gradually destroyed, but some of their shells were built into new homes that went up as part of a real-estate boom in the 1930s. Carville sometime between 1915 and 1920.

Source: Outside Lands

Sometimes a remodeling project would result in finding bits and pieces of them, like wheels underneath floors.

Source: Outside Lands

And there is one last remaining home consisting of street cars, though you could never tell from the street. The home at 1632 Great Highway was made from two old cable cars and a horsecar. According to public records, it last sold for $280,000 in 1995. The one remaining known Carville house, photographed in February 2018.

Source: Trulia

Nowadays, the relatively affordable Sunset District is home to families, retirees, and students at San Francisco State and UCSF. The Sunset District in 2017.

Source: SF Gate

It's also popular with surfers in the city, who opt for the neighborhood for its proximity to the ocean. And young artists have also apparently increasingly begun to call the Sunset home. Surfers at Ocean Beach on June 21, 2011.

Source: SF Gate

Perhaps Carville's legacy lives on in them. Read the original article on Business Insider

About Value News Network

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

Connect with Us