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They paved paradise, put up a parking lot: Valley racing fans mourn closing of dirt tracks

The Arizona dirt track racing scene has a legacy seven decades old. The state’s first large race was held in 1951, when Manzanita Park featured an event on a one-quarter mile track. More than 3,900 fans watched Roe Mounts drive his 1933 Ford Coupe to victory. This rich history is at the risk of making a dangerously long pit stop as dirt tracks that were once popular family gatherings as well as stepping stones to NASCAR success are struggling to survive. “You drive by 35th Avenue and Broadway….....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJan 16th, 2022

29 car gift ideas for the auto enthusiast - from driving gloves to custom artwork

Car lovers tend to be particular about their rides, so finding gifts for them can be tough. As a car enthusiast myself, here are the gifts to give. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Respoke Care If you're shopping for someone who loves cars, you want a gift to match their automotive passion. As a car enthusiast, I've carefully selected 29 gifts that any car lover would appreciate. From car accessories and key chains to driving shoes and video games, these are the best gifts. Car enthusiasts are naturally meticulous and picky about their preferences, so shopping for them during the holiday season can be a challenge. I know from experience because I'm one of those people.If you don't have the know-how or the funds to gift them the rare and expensive cars or parts they dream of, there are still a ton of cool and useful gifts any car lover will appreciate. To make shopping for the car enthusiasts on your list easier, I rounded up 29 clever gift ideas they'll be happy to receive. 29 gifts that car enthusiasts will love: A custom poster or canvas of their favorite ride Respoke Collection Respoke Collection Custom Car Print, starting at $49Real car lovers look back at their ride whenever they park it and start to walk away. With a Respoke Collection Custom Car Print, they can get a glimpse of their car even when they're not in the driveway, garage, or parking lot. Simply upload a picture of their personal car (or another favorite car) and have it turned into high-quality wall art. Custom floor mats Coco Mats Coco Mats Gift Box, starting at $219.60Coco Mats make some of the best-looking, best-fitting, and most durable floor mats you can buy. The brand has custom-fitted formats for a wide assortment of vehicles and probably has a template for the car you're shopping for. If not, it will send you blank templates you can cut to the exact specifications. The Gift Box comes with floor mat swatches and a gift certificate. A smartphone mount Amazon iOttie Easy One Touch 5 Phone Mount, $24.95Car lovers would much rather spend their money on cool parts and accessories than pay a hefty fine for using a phone while driving. Giving them the iOttie Easy One Touch 5 is like giving the gift of safety. It can be mounted to the dash or windshield and is compatible with all smartphones. A LEGO McLaren kit Amazon LEGO Technic McLaren Senna GTR, $40If they're more interested in new cars than old ones, this gift is sure to please. The LEGO McLaren Senna GTR is nothing like the LEGOs from back in the day. This 830-piece kit can be built into a stunning supercar that auto enthusiasts of all ages can enjoy building.  Gran Turismo 7 for PS5 Best Buy Gran Turismo 7 25th Anniversary Edition, $89.99Gran Turismo 7 will be an absolute must-have for auto enthusiasts who own a PS5. The realistic driving simulator is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2022, and pre-ordering it now will be enough to get them excited. A Hot Wheels track Amazon Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Track Set, $49.99Hot Wheels have been on holiday wishlists for generations and that's not changing any time soon. This set is great for kids, but chances are older car lovers will have fun with it, too. A car cleaning kit Amazon Chemical Guys 16-Piece Car Wash Bucket Kit, available at Amazon, $99.99They say a clean car always drives better, so any auto lover will appreciate The Chemical Guys 16-Piece Car Wash Kit. It includes wash soap, detail spray, glass cleaner, wheel cleaner, cream wax, tire shine, and professional grade accessories like a wheel cleaning brush, scratch-free microfiber cloths, and a wash mitt. The Brush Hero Brush Hero's Facebook Brush Hero Water-Powered Wheel Brush, available at Amazon $24.99One of the hardest areas to clean on a car is the wheels — especially if they're a tightly woven pattern. The "Shark Tank"-featured Brush Hero harnesses water pressure from a garden hose to knock away dirt and grime without ruining the finish of wheels. After testing it on my own car, I know that any car enthusiast will appreciate the amount of time this clever device can save them. Driving loafers made from recycled plastic Amir Ismael/Insider Rothy's Driving Loafer, $185Although you don't necessarily need to be a car enthusiast to enjoy a good pair of driving loafers, this pair from Rothy's is one they'll appreciate. They're super lightweight, breathable, and made from recycled plastic bottles. Whether they're going for a spirited drive or walking around, their feet will always be comfortable.Read my full review here. An Alexa-enabled navigation system and dash cam Amazon Garmin Speak with Amazon Alexa and Dash Cam, available at Amazon, $84.99Designed to provide turn-by-turn directions with a clear, unobstructed view while driving, the Garmin Speak Plus is super compact. With Alexa integration, they'll never have to pull out their phone to get directions, control music, or make a phone call. On top of that, the windshield-mounted device has a built-in camera for added safety like forward collision and lane departure warnings. An Alexa-enabled car charger Amazon Roav Viva by Anker with Amazon Alexa, available at Amazon, $68.92Most people enjoy using Alexa in their homes, but the Roav Viva by Anker now makes it possible to bring it on the road. Simply plug it into the 12-volt adapter and gain voice-controlled access to music, directions, audiobooks, and more. It also provides two USB high-speed charging ports for your devices. A Bluetooth aux adapter Amazon Anker Soundsync Bluetooth Receiver, available at Amazon, $32.99If you're shopping for someone who recently upgraded or will soon be upgrading to a smartphone without a 3.5mm auxiliary port, the Anker Soundsync Bluetooth Receiver is an extremely thoughtful gift. Rather than spending hundreds on a new Bluetooth-compatible car stereo, they'll be able to pair their phone via Bluetooth with ease via the aux port.  Two personalized leather keychains Etsy JooJoobs Custom Leather Keychain, available at Etsy, from $47.25Most car enthusiasts are all about customization and that even includes minor details like keychains. These custom leather keychains can be personalized just for them. For $47.25 you can get one side of each keychain stamped with words or letters of your choice. For $57 you can have both sides done. A Tile Mate keychain Amazon Tile Mate, available at Amazon, $20.50Going on a spirited drive will almost certainly put a smile on the face of a car enthusiast, but without car keys, it won't be possible. The Tile Mate Key Finder is an easy solution to keep track of the keys. It attaches to your key ring, syncs to your smartphone via Bluetooth, and can be tracked down using GPS on the Tile App. A map shows where that specific Tile Mate is so you can better locate it. Tile Mates also work well with wallets, so they won't have to worry about not being able to find their driver's license before heading out. A book on the history of cars Amazon "Car: The Definitive Visual History of the Automobile", available at Amazon, $23.36Covering everything from the very first automobiles to iconic cars like the Ford Model T, Porsche 911, and Ferrari F40, this book will keep any car enthusiasts entertained for hours on end. With a plethora of pictures and information from past generations of cars, it makes for a great coffee table read. A mechanic's tool kit Amazon Craftsman 450-piece Mechanic's Tool Set, available at Sears, $439.99Every car person needs their own set of tools. Instead of rummaging through the random assortment of tools they've accumulated over time, the Craftsman 450-piece tool kit is well organized and includes everything they'll need to tackle mechanical work.  Dirt 5 for PlayStation 5 Best Buy Dirt 5 for PlayStation 5, available at Best Buy, $39.99He might not be a professional driver in real life but Dirt 5 will make him feel like he's going off-roading. If he owns a PS5, this is fun to play for a life-like driving experience. Forza Horizon 4 for XBOX One Best Buy Forza Horizon 4 for XBOX, available at Best Buy, $59.99If the car enthusiast you're shopping for owns an XBOX, Forza Horizon 4 is the best racing game for their console. It features a realistic competitive racing game that can be enjoyed at any level.  A cordless tire inflator Amazon Avid Power Cordless Air Compressor, $62.99, available on AmazonThis air compressor is a gift anyone, whether an enthusiast or not, will be able to use. Its cordless design makes inflating tires easier than ever before. And with an auto-off feature, they'll never have to worry about over-inflating. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for Nintendo Switch Best Buy Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for Nintendo Switch, available at Best Buy, $50.99Although the driving experience is far from realistic, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is extremely fun. They'll race their way through crazy tracks filled with obstacles like banana peels, bombs, and more. Car fan or not, it's a must-have game for all Nintendo Switch owners. Clutch and Gas Socks Amazon Clutch and Gas Socks, available at Amazon, $6.99If you insist on buying that special someone a pair of socks for the holiday season, these clutch and gas socks are a fun option. Even when they're not behind the wheel, they'll remind them of their love for driving. Gear to match his BMW, Mercedes, or dream Ferrari Puma Motorsport Shop the Puma Motorsport Collection herePuma is one of the most deeply rooted sportswear brands in racing culture and its Motorsport collection proves that. With apparel for BMW Motorsport, Mercedes-Benz AMG, Ferrari, Porsche, and Redbull Racing, they've got pieces for lovers of Bimmers, Benzes, and more. A pair of driving loafers Wolf & Shepherd Wolf and Shepherd Gunner Driver, $195, available in four colorsFor days when full race gear isn't needed, nice driving loafers are the perfect shoes for cruising. The Wolf & Shepherd Gunner Drivers are handcrafted using waterproof suede and they're also super comfortable. Car guys will be able to easily hit the clutch when driving and still look stylish when they park the car and get out. A pair of driving gloves Amazon Riparo Genuine Leather Full-Finger Driving Gloves, available on Amazon, from $59.97Even if you're not shopping for a race car driver, a pair of driving gloves will be appreciated by any car enthusiast. During the fall and winter, they keep hands from freezing on a cold steering wheel without losing the necessary grip for maneuvering. A California Car Duster Amazon California Car Duster, available on Amazon, $31.98The California Car Duster is an awesome gift for all types of car enthusiasts. Whether they're a meticulous collector who needs to dust off their garage queen every so often or they just like to keep their ride free of pollen and dirt in between washes, it's an effective tool to have. An experiential gift Groupon Search for local Groupons in your area hereNot every gift you give has to be tangible. In fact, experiences are sometimes an even better option and Groupon has plenty to choose from. If you want to gift the person on your list an unforgettable experience, you can find everything from auto-cross lessons in an exotic car to go-kart races and rentals. Since search results vary based on your location, you should browse Groupon to see what's available in your area. An outrageous coffee table Houzz Engine Block Coffee Table, available on Houzz, $1,898If you're shopping for the auto enthusiast who already has everything you could possibly think of (and you happen to have an extra $1,900 laying around), this big-bore, V8-style engine block coffee table will blow them away. Plus, you probably won't have to buy another gift for the next few years. A handheld vacuum Amazon BLACK+DECKER Lithium Hand Vacuum, available at Amazon, $62.99Since keeping the inside of a car clean is equally as important as the outside, a hand-held vacuum is another must-have for car lovers. The BLACK+DECKER Lithium Cordless Hand Vacuum fully charges in 6 hours to provide strong and efficient suction. With a flip-up brush head for dusting and cleaning upholstery and a pull-out crevice tool for hard to reach areas, it'll clean every corner of a car's interior. A laser radar detector Amazon Cobra RAD 450 Laser Radar Detector, available at Amazon, $131.16You shouldn't encourage the car lover on your list to exceed the speed limit, but let's face it — some people just have a heavy foot while driving. The Cobra RAD 450 Radar Detector can help alert them of police scanners ahead, so they'll know when it's time to slow down. If it saves them from getting one speeding ticket, it will essentially pay for itself — and then some. Keep in mind that radar and laser detectors are legal in all states except Virginia and Washington D.C. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 1st, 2021

5 Stocks Bucking the Market Trend

Stock prices that beat the market are definitely worth a closer look. As everyone was expecting, the Fed lowered interest rates by 50 bps yesterday, setting off a chain reaction that will ultimately increase all kinds of borrowing costs, including for credit cards, mortgages, business loans -- you name it.The numbers indicate and the Fed believes you do have more to spare for your favorite food, clothing, etc., not to mention the ability to cover the rising cost of plane tickets, as you finally take that summer trip you were putting off for a couple of years.I’ve picked a list of 5 stocks that have been bucking the trend over the past month, when we just couldn’t stop talking about what the Fed intended to do. It doesn’t look like these stocks are going to change course now that it’s a done deal. So let’s see what they are about and why they make good investments today:Griffon Corporation GFFNew York-based Griffon Corp. offers various products in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Australia. Its Consumer and Professional Products (CPP) segment is a leading North American manufacturer and global provider of branded consumer and professional tools; residential, industrial and commercial fans; home storage and organization products; and products that enhance indoor and outdoor lifestyles.Its Home and Building Products (HBP) segment is the largest manufacturer and marketer of garage doors and rolling steel doors in North America. They are sold through professional dealers and leading home center retail chains throughout North America for commercial, industrial, institutional and retail uses. The Diversified Operations industry to which Griffon belongs is in the top 18% of Zacks-classified industries.Griffon frequently acquires and divests businesses to restructure and refocus operations, which is why comparison with earlier periods is not always easy. In the last quarter for instance the company did see some benefit from pricing, volumes and mix, but the 23% increase from last year was also boosted by its Hunter Fan acquisition. This strategy also helps the company deal with market uncertainties. In the last quarter, for instance, the commercial business was stronger for the company with residential impacted by labor and supply chain constraints. Also, while the strong revenue was partially offset by increased material, labor and transportation costs, net-net, Griffon still generated 185% earnings growth. Overall, its revenues surprised by 15% and earnings by 211%.Griffon’s estimates for the current quarter increased 30 cents (49%) in the last 7 days. The 2022 estimate increased 82 cents (40%) and the 2023 estimate increased 55 cents (21%).Its valuation of 10.18X P/E, while improving in the last few days, still remains well below its median level over the past year, besides trailing significantly both the S&P 500 and the related industry. So the shares are still cheap.The shares carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).Forward Air Corporation FWRDGreeneville, Tennessee-based Forward Air is an asset-light freight and logistics company operating in the U.S. and Canada. Its primary business is expedited regional, inter-regional and national less-than-truckload services. It also provides local and last-mile delivery, shipment consolidation and deconsolidation, warehousing, customs brokerage and other handling services, as well as expedited truckload brokerage, dedicated fleet, and high security and temperature-controlled logistics services. Additionally, it provides intermodal container drayage services; and contract, and container freight station warehouse and handling services.Forward Air serves freight forwarders, third-party logistics companies, integrated air cargo carriers and passenger, passenger and cargo airlines, steamship lines and retailers.Given the nature of its business, it’s clear why Forward Air is doing so well. Most of the supply chain issues that companies are facing today are related to transportation bottlenecks, which are driving up prices. Container management issues have created one of the biggest challenges of the supply chain today. The fact that it is a last-mile operator shows that it is also benefiting from the surging online shopping trend. This also explains why the Transportation – Truck industry, to which Forward Air belongs, is in the top 30% of Zacks-classified industries.In the last quarter, Forward Air’s revenue and earnings came in around 3% ahead of estimates. But the beats don’t tell the story about just how positive analysts are on this stock. Revenues represented a 29% increase from the prior year while earnings represented a 161% increase. The strong results were attributed to better quality freight in the less-than-truckload business, a strong economy and efficient execution. Forward Air management is convinced that the momentum will continue as cruise ships, conferences and trade shows return. And so, it raised guidance.Forward Air’s estimates have been rising over the past month. The current quarter estimate is up 27 cents (15%) in the last 30 days. The current year estimate is up 71 cents (13%) and the 2023 estimate is up 36 cents (over 5%).The current P/E of 16.50X is well below the median value of 20.37X over the past year and compares favorably with the S&P 500 and the related industry. So the shares are a bargain at these levels.The shares carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).Hub Group, Inc. HUBGOak Brook, IL-based Hub Group is a supply chain solutions provider, offering a whole gamut of transportation and logistics management and brokerage services in North America. With its 1,000 tractors and 4,600 trailers (including driver staffing, management, and infrastructure) and approximately 43,750 dry, 53-foot containers, 450 refrigerated, 53-foot containers; and another approximately 250 dry, 53-foot containers on lease, Hub Group offers truckload, less-than-truckload, intermodal, final mile, small parcel and a host of other services. It primarily serves the retail, consumer products and durable goods industries.The Transportation – Services industry (top 36%) to which Hub Group belongs is also a part of the supply chain, so many of the trends discussed above for Forward Air also apply in this case.Additionally, the company announced very strong results for the last quarter, with earnings beating by 77% on revenue that beat by over 9%. Earnings jumped 406% from the prior year while revenues increased 41%.Analysts got excited with the strong showing, sending current-quarter estimates up 63 cents (41%) in the last 7 days. In the last 30 days, estimates have increased a total 68 cents (45%). 2022 and 2023 estimates have also soared a respective $1.66 (27%) and 71 cents (13%).Its current P/E of 9.02X is also below its medial level of 16.99X over the past year and the S&P 500, which makes them cheap by both measures.The shares carry a Zacks Rank #2.M/I Homes, Inc. MHOColumbus, OH-based M/I Homes designs, constructs and sells single-family homes and attached townhomes under the M/I Homes brand name in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee. It targets first-time, millennial, move-up, empty-nester and luxury buyers. The company also purchases undeveloped land to divide into lots for the construction of single-family homes, as well as for sale to others. In addition, it originates and sells mortgages; and provides title insurance policies, examination and closing services to purchasers of its homes.There is a historical shortage of single-family homes in particular, which makes this a hot segment. And the strong underlying demand coupled with low inventories in the housing market in general is also leading to constantly increasing prices. So while mortgage rates continue to rise in response to the Fed and the high prices push out some buyers, the prices are allowing absorption of the rising input and labor costs. Companies are still seeing favorable operating metrics. One constraint that builders continue to see is the availability of lots. But this shouldn’t be as big a factor for a company like M/I Homes because it is in the business of developing lots as well. Overall, the Building Products - Home Builders industry to which it belongs is in the top 29% of Zacks-classified industries, so operating conditions remain favorable.In the last quarter, M/I Homes beat earnings estimates by 6% while missing revenue estimates by about 3%. Reported revenue was up around 4% and earnings up 11%. In the last 7 days, the current-quarter estimate has increased 23 cents (a little over 6%). The estimates for 2022 and 2023 are up a respective 86 cents (about 6%) and 69 cents (4%).M/I Homes shares are trading at just 3.16X P/E, which is ridiculous compared to the S&P 500 but also below the industry’s 4.65X. Moreover, it is below the median level of 4.08X over the past year, indicating the existence of upside potential.  The shares carry a Zacks Rank #2.MaxLinear, Inc. MXLCarlsbad, California-based MaxLinear provides radiofrequency (RF), high-performance analog, and mixed-signal communications systems-on-chip (SoCs) solutions for the connected home, wired and wireless infrastructure, and industrial and multi-market applications worldwide. Its products integrate various portions of a high-speed communication system. The product range includes broadband radio transceiver front ends, data converters, embedded systems and software architecture, and architecture and system design for highly integrated end-to-end communication platform solutions. The products are sold to electronics distributors, module makers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and original design manufacturers (ODMs) through a direct sales force, third-party sales representatives, and a distributor network.In the last quarter, MaxLinear reported an earnings surprise of 33% that came on top of a 2% sale surprise. MaxLinear is seeing strong growth across its served markets on the strength of its comprehensive product portfolio and the accelerating pace of new product launches, particularly in connectivity, fiber-to-the home broadband, optical, and wireless infrastructure markets. It continues to take share in Wi-Fi and management expects this business to more than double this year and also grow very strongly in the next.  Encouraged by the strong showing, analysts have raised their estimates. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current quarter has therefore improved 10 cents (11%) in the last 7 days. The current year estimate increased 36 cents (10%) while the estimate for 2023 increased 43 cents (11%).But prices have clearly not caught up as the shares are still trading at 14.13X, which is below the median level of 26.4X and trails both the industry and the S&P 500. Definitely the time to go for the shares!MaxLinear belongs to the Zacks-classified Semiconductor - Analog and Mixed industry, which is a top 21% industry. Along with the Zacks #2 rank, this is a solid indication of upside potential.The shares carry a Zacks Rank #2.3-Month Price PerformanceImage Source: Zacks Investment Research Zacks Names "Single Best Pick to Double" From thousands of stocks, 5 Zacks experts each have chosen their favorite to skyrocket +100% or more in months to come. From those 5, Director of Research Sheraz Mian hand-picks one to have the most explosive upside of all. It’s a little-known chemical company that’s up 65% over last year, yet still dirt cheap. With unrelenting demand, soaring 2022 earnings estimates, and $1.5 billion for repurchasing shares, retail investors could jump in at any time. This company could rival or surpass other recent Zacks’ Stocks Set to Double like Boston Beer Company which shot up +143.0% in little more than 9 months and NVIDIA which boomed +175.9% in one year.Free: See Our Top Stock and 4 Runners Up >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Forward Air Corporation (FWRD): Free Stock Analysis Report MaxLinear, Inc (MXL): Free Stock Analysis Report MI Homes, Inc. (MHO): Free Stock Analysis Report Hub Group, Inc. (HUBG): Free Stock Analysis Report Griffon Corporation (GFF): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksMay 5th, 2022

25 Ways To Save Fuel And Money

Gas prices. Am I right? As of March 31, 2022 the average national price for a gallon of regular gasoline touched $4.25, according to AAA. As you your wallet infomed you you, this is some the highest prices ever. And, that’s not even taking inflation into account. Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more […] Gas prices. Am I right? As of March 31, 2022 the average national price for a gallon of regular gasoline touched $4.25, according to AAA. As you your wallet infomed you you, this is some the highest prices ever. And, that’s not even taking inflation into account. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more What about the cost for diesel? That’s over $5 per galloon. And, yes. That’s also shattered records. Despite this, many of us still rely on our vehicles to commute to work or run errands. And, regardless of the record-breaking prices, road trips remain popular. Ways to Save Fuel and Money While there isn’t much of a silver lining here, there are still ways for you to conserve fuel so that you can save more and spend less. Find the best gas station near you by tracking local prices. Looking for the best gas prices in the U.S. and Canada? By using the apps GasBuddy and Waze, you can get the price of gasoline in your area. There are tens of thousands of gas station locations listed on these fuel finding apps, with near-real-time prices. Moreover, both apps are available on the web or through mobile apps for Android and iOS. Those who drive a lot may want to roll with GasBuddy Premium. Even though it’s a $99 annual membership, it promises to save drivers up to $0.40 per gallon. Use a rewards credit card. You should apply for a rewards credit card if you do not already have one. But, what exactly are they? Well, they’re nothing more than a credit card that earns cash or points on every time you fill up. For consumers with excellent or good credit, popular options include; The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. You can earn between 1% to 5% cashback on all eligible U.S. gas station purchases The Citi Premier® Card. Another credit card offering a 3% return on gas purchases. Discover it® Cash Back. You can earn bonus cash back, usually 5%, in quarterly categories that you activate. The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card. 3% effective return rate is earned on purchases made at eligible gas stations. PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card. It is one of the best cards for earning gas rewards since cardholders earn 5 points per $1 spent at a gas station. For Costco members, Citi offers the Costco Anywhere Visa card, a rewards card featuring a robust rewards program. The first $7,000 of eligible gasoline purchases earns 4% cashback (payable as Costco store credit), which is adequate for all but the most taxing drivers. Are you partial to a specific gas station family. If so, join its rewards program and apply for a store credit card. You’ll earn instant savings at the pump or redeemable rewards. Compared to regular credit card rewards, instant discounts from these rewards programs can provide a better rate of return as well. Pay with cash. Even if you have a rewards credit card, you might want to proceed with caution. After all, it’s not uncommon for gas stations to charge you more if you pay with a credit card. “Depending on where you are, that may be 10 to 15 cents a gallon,” said Andrew Lipow of Lipow Oil Associates. However, there is the possibility of even greater savings. Some stations may even go as high as offering a 75-cent discount. Why do gas stations prefer cash? Fuel stations and other merchants pay a fee to credit card companies for processing their transactions. Generally, the fee is 2% to 3% of the purchase price, according to the Georgia Department of Consumer Affairs. Another reason? You can’t pay at the pump, unlike credit cards. That means you have to go inside. “To buy the snacks and the drinks and whatever they’re selling,” Lipow said. “Most of the profit for a convenience store is coming from the sale of food, beverages, and cigarettes. If do use cash, just make sure that your resist temptation from impulse buys. One trick I use is filling an exact dollar amount and only having that cash on me. So, I spend $50, then I only bring in a $50 bill when paying for gas. Avoid premium. There was a time when premium gas made sense. This was because it contained additional detergents and additives to help prevent carbon deposits. As such, it could assist in cleaning a car’s engine. However, as Jason Kavangh writes for Edmunds, “now, because of government regulations aimed at cutting emissions, most major brands of gasoline have plenty of additives in all grades to both protect engines and cut pollution.” In short, filling your tank with a premium is a waste of money. The exception? Vehicles that require premium fuel. Fuel up on the right days. When should you fuel up? According to GasBuddy, Mondays. For the whole country, the cheapest day to buy gas in 2021 was Monday. Gas prices started the week at their lowest point in several previous years at the start of the week. Even though Friday has traditionally been one of the most expensive days to fill up with gas because of the weekend start, in 2021 it was the second least expensive day to do so. “Though there is variation in daily gas prices across different states, the consensus is that filling up at the beginning or end of the work week, on Monday or Friday, is the best way to save money,” stated Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. How much can you really save by filling your tank on the right days? By filling up on the cheapest days of the week, GasBuddy estimates that drivers can save $50 to $100 per year. According to this calculation, gas costs roughly $3.35 per gallon, with four fill-ups per month of 12 gallons each, and on other days of the week, gas runs 7 cents to 12 cents more expensive. Purchase discounted gas cards through a reseller. Discounts on gas are available to members of Costco, Sam’s Club, and Walmart Plus. Walmart Plus offers a 5-cent discount at its fueling centers and offers access to all Sam’s Club locations. The cost of a membership with Sam’s Club is between $45, whereas memberships with BJ’s Wholesale Club are $55 and Costco are $60. “Gas prices at warehouse clubs are nearly always lower, ranging from 5 cents to 25 cents less per gallon,” says De Haan. “And when prices rise, they hold their prices down for longer.” What’s more, if you’re buying groceries in bulk then being a warehouse member is well worth the price. As if that weren’t enough, you can expect additional coupons and cashback rewards. Use free or discounted gift cards. A gift card is a popular choice for an easy present, but not all of them are redeemed. As such, many resellers let consumers resell their unused gift cards and buy them cheaply. You can buy and sell unused Chevon, Texaco, Shell, BP, and other gas gift cards over at Gift Card Granny and Raise. It’s likely that most of these discounted gas gift cards are out of stock right now. However, you can sign up for email alerts when new ones become available. Both gift card sites also sell gift cards at retail rates, and Gift Card Granny also has reward cards. Always read the fine print and make sure the discount you are getting matches the details of the card. Ease up on the gas and brakes. In general, gas mileage rapidly declines when driving over 50 mph, costing you approximately $0.23 extra per gallon for every 5 mph above that speed, according to the Department of Energy. “The harder your engine works, the more gas it’s going to take. Rapid acceleration and high-speed driving make your engine work harder, and therefore, it sucks up more gasoline,” says Jack Gillis, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America and author of “The Car Book.” Fuel is often wasted not only when we accelerate quickly, but also when we brake suddenly. To avoid this, it is recommended to coast to a red light or downhill. Also, observing the speed isn’t just safer, it’s also a surefire way to avoid speeding tickets. In case you’re wondering, the average cost of a speeding ticket is $150. Additionally, your auto insurance will be lower too. A speeding ticket in the U.S. costs an average of $2,029 per year, while a clean driving record costs $1674. Don’t be an an aggressive driver. Aggressive driving, such as speeding, rapid acceleration, and braking, also wastes fuel. At highway speeds, it can reduce your gas mileage by 15 to 30%, and in stop-and-go traffic, it can decrease it by 10 to 40%, notes the Department of Energy. You can improve your driving efficiency with driver feedback devices. According to a recent study, they can help drivers improve fuel economy by about 3% and can save drivers about 10% by using them. In addition to saving gas money, sensible driving is also safer for you and others. And, it can prevent vehicle damage or costly tickets. Keep your vehicle light. Stop storing items in your vehicle that are unnecessary, especially heavy ones. You might lose 1% of your MPG if you carry 100 extra pounds in your vehicle. In general, smaller vehicles are more affected by the reduction due to their increased weight relative to their original weight. Don’t add drag. The aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) caused by hauling cargo on your roof can reduce your fuel economy, explains the Department of Energy. For example, a large, blunt roof-top cargo box can reduce fuel economy by around 2% to 8% when driving in the city, 6% to 17% on the highway, and 10% to 25% at Interstate speeds (65 mph to 75 mph). The fuel economy of rear-mounted cargo boxes or trays is significantly less. In city driving, they reduce fuel economy by 1 to 2%, and on the highway they reduce it by 1 to 5%. Avoid excessive idling. Fuel use during idling can range from a quarter to a half gallon per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner usage. Because of this, Be sure to switch off your vehicle’s engine when you park. After all, it only takes bbout 10 seconds of fuel to start it up again. Use cruise control. In hilly areas without cruise control, you may get better gas mileage, because the system tends to downshift too much and waste fuel. Other than that, however, cruise away. The use of cruise control while maintaining a steady speed has been shown to reduce fuel consumption. Additionally, this ensures that you aren’t breaking the speed limit. Which again, prevents pricey speeding tickets, Check your gas cap. A gas cap that isn’t sealed, has a fault, or is missing can reduce your fuel efficiency by 2%. The reason? Well, gas caps keep your fuel from leaking as it evaporates. On hot days, evaporated fuel escapes quickly through any cracks in the cap if it is faulty or unsealed. The majority of modern cars have a sensor that alerts you when the gas cap is faulty. However, checking for cracks, chips, or tears at least once a week isn’t time-consuming. And, it’s a simple way to save both fuel and money. Maintain your vehicle. You will not only save money on repair costs down the road, but you’ll also save fuel in the interim by performing regular maintenance. You should change your oil and filters regularly as it thickens over time as deposits accumulate. You should also address the check engine light (CEL) immediately. All of the devices that can trigger a CEL, such as oxygen sensors, spark plugs, and throttle bodies, have to work together to maximize the efficiency and performance of your engine. Follow the service interval recommended in your owner’s manual for best results. While you’re at it, make certain that your tires are inflated properly. By keeping your tires inflated properly, you will improve your gas mileage by 0.6% on average, and even by 3% in some cases. Tires underinflated by 1 psi can decrease gas mileage by about 0.2%. In addition, properly inflated tires last longer and are safer. And, speaking of your tires, make sure that they’re properly aligned and rotated frequently. It’s suggested that when you get an oil change that your tires are rotated at the same time. Map out your routes. By suggesting certain routes that avoid hills and traffic, Google Maps will also help you increase your miles per gallon. On the Android and iOS apps, fuel-efficient routes are available. However, not all users have yet been provided with this feature. Google Maps has an option to turn on fuel efficiency simply by tapping the three dots, then navigating to “Route options” and selecting the “Prefer fuel-efficient routes” option. Fuelio and Jerrycan are other fuel-tracking mobile apps you might want to explore. These apps allow you to track gas prices along with improving your fuel efficiency. According to JerryCan, its app can help drivers save up to 20% in fuel consumption. Claim expenses. Did you may be able to deduct gas expenses on your tax return? The caveat? You must own a business or are self-employed and use the vehicle for business purposes. To find out whether your individual situation qualifies for deductions, you’ll have to do some research with the Internal Revenue Service or speak with an expert. Modify your commute. It is more expensive and environmentally harmful to drive alone to work than to take any other form of transportation. The problem is amplified if you work in a congested district where parking is limited and hard on your wallet. With that in mind, you may want to consider more cost-effective ways of getting to and from work. You have several options depending on your location, how much time you have in the morning, and whether you are physically fit. Establish a carpool with co-workers who live nearby and rotate driving responsibilities daily or weekly. Use of public transit, including bus or train services, to reduce your net cost per trip, such as local or regional buses and trains If possible, walk or bike to work. Work from home (if possible). COVID-19 has demonstrated that many white-collar jobs can be done remotely without affecting productivity significantly. In fact, according to Gallup’s September 2021 update of its monthly employment trends, 45% of full-time U.S. employees worked from home either all (25%) or part of the time (20%). Consider negotiating a remote work arrangement with your employer if you are able to do your job remotely, but you have not yet done so. The possibility of part-time or full-time remote work can substantially reduce your household transportation costs, and a full-time remote position may open the door to living in a less congested, expensive, or more green community. Stop looking for the “perfect” parking spot. The average U.S. motorist spends 17 hours per year and $345 per driverlooking for parking, according to Inrix. It should be noted, though, that some question those figures. However, choosing parking spaces farther from your destination is one way to reduce fuel waste — even if it’s not as much as Inrix reported. While this rule isn’t always feasible in areas with insufficient parking space, such business, shopping, and entertainment districts, it’s still worth trying. To put it simply, rather than driving around the block in search of the perfect spot, go to a less congested area and travel by foot. As an added bonus, this is beneficial to your health. Keep left turns to a minimum. As with idling, waiting for an opportunity to turn while idling in the left turn lane takes much more time (and gas) than making a right turn. Similarly, UPS found that they could save $300 to $400 million a year by minimizing left turns on their delivery routes, in addition to saving on wages and maintenance. Use the eco setting or limit your air conditioning/heater usage. It’s been estimated that using your car’s air conditioner can reduce fuel economy by 25%. In very hot weather, on short trips, and in hybrid vehicles, this effect is particularly noticeable. Use the coolest non-AC fan setting instead of your air conditioner on more pleasant days. Use your vehicle’s “eco” AC setting if it has one when it is too hot to go entirely without air conditioning. Also, parking your vehicle in the shade may also help. What about colder weather? Avoid using power-sucking features like seat warmers, window defrosters, or heater fans. Or, try to use them briefly. And, as opposed to parking in cooler spaces like in the share, keep your vehicle parked in an enclosed space is possible. Don’t drive in heavy traffic or bad weather. Fuel economy decreases when you’re stuck in traffic or when it’s windy or rainy, as well as during busy, high-traffic times. The reason? You must use more fuel to overcome air resistance when driving in bad weather because there is more air resistance. And, if you’re stuck in traffic, you’re likely to stop and start, idle, and weave, and your fuel economy decreases faster than you can keep up with. Stop running on fumes. Though it may not happen too often, it’s interesting to learn that if you wait until the tank is empty before filling up, explains Virtual Drive, you may cause an expensive mechanical issue. In your vehicle, the gasoline acts as a coolant for the motor of the electrical fuel pump. In turn, the pump will attempt to suck in air when your tank is empty. Over time, this could result in the fuel pump overheating and even failing prematurely. In addition, it is important to avoid getting dirt in your fuel tank as well as possibly running out of fuel and becoming stranded. And, as a result of your desperation, you may choose the first station you see even if it’s at a higher price per gallon. Consider buying a more fuel efficient vehicle. Finally, you can save money on gasoline by buying a vehicle with a higher MPG (miles per gallon) rating. If you don’t want to worry about fuel prices ever again, think about a hybrid car or an electric vehicle — if it’s within your budget. In general, vehicles with manual transmissions tend to be more fuel efficient than automatic transmissions. And, in my opinion, it’s fun to drive a manual transmission. Article by John Rampton, Due About the Author John Rampton is an entrepreneur and connector. When he was 23 years old while attending the University of Utah he was hurt in a construction accident. His leg was snapped in half. He was told by 13 doctors he would never walk again. Over the next 12 months he had several surgeries, stem cell injections and learned how to walk again. During this time he studied and mastered how to make money work for you, not against you. He has since taught thousands through books, courses and written over 5000 articles online about finance, entrepreneurship and productivity. He has been recognized as the Top Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine, Finance Expert by Time and Annuity Expert by Nasdaq. He is the Founder and CEO of Due. Updated on May 4, 2022, 2:25 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkMay 4th, 2022

I lived in Thailand for 3 months. The quiet beaches and plentiful amenities make it a remote worker"s paradise.

Meagan Drillinger says the trip was peaceful with fewer tourists than usual and the strong WiFi in coffee shops was convenient as a remote worker. Meagan Drillinger says her trip to Thailand was peaceful with much fewer tourists than usual.Meagan Drillinger Meagan Drillinger is a travel writer based in New York. She spent three months working remotely in Thailand this year as part of their Test & Go program. Drillinger says it was an inspiring place with convenient amenities for remote workers.  When I had the opportunity to be one of only 200,000 visitors approved to visit Thailand this past winter with the country's Test & Go program, I didn't know what to expect. What I found was Thailand as it had not been seen in more than 20 years — an experience that as a traveler was rare and romantic, and as a remote worker was inspiring and thought-provoking. A step back in timeDrillinger says popular beaches were mostly empty and quiet during her trip.Meagan DrillingerFor more than 50 years, travelers — many of them backpackers — have been lured to Thailand for the cheap prices, the seductive food, the bleached, sweeping beaches, and the camaraderie of other travelers thousands of miles from home. But with time and tourism came investment, development, and progress, and many things changed: Luxury hotels now loom over centuries-old fishing villages and dusty dirt roads have been paved over, with a 7-11 store every 500 meters. Things are certainly much more convenient and lucrative, but it's become a different Thailand.Except for when we visited.Drillinger says popular attractions like boat tours were much less crowded than usual.Meagan DrillingerAt first we were based in Koh Lanta, an island in Krabi province, and on the mainland in Krabi in the beach town of Ao Nang. Both are used to high volumes of tourism, especially in high season. But during our stay, which started on December 29, 2021 and lasted through the end of March 2022, more often than not we were the only ones on the beach or among just a handful of people at the restaurants for sunset or haunting the lonely aisles of the once-chaotic night markets. Boat tours that typically took 35 people had only 11. A convenient place to work remotelyDrillinger says she enjoyed working from local coffee shops that had strong WiFi and plenty of outlets.Meagan DrillingerBecause Thailand's cost of living is so affordable, it's typically an attractive place for a lot of digital nomads. And even without throngs of them there, the country was still very convenient to be working from. As a writer who was planning on working during the trip, I had my pick of coveted coffee shop chairs — a true luxury that any digital nomad will confirm, as it's usually a fight for the ones with cushions near the outlets. WiFi was fast and coffee shops were plentiful with readily available outlets. In fact, the winter of 2022 ended up being my most lucrative quarter on record since I started freelancing back in 2015. Publications back home were eager to know what travel was like in Thailand during the reopening, so I had a laundry list of assignments that kept me busy the entire time — and the lack of tourists made snapping dreamy beach photos for my articles a breeze.A hope for a swift recoveryWhen we tell anyone who's been to Thailand that we had Ao Nang beach all to ourselves, they're shocked and tell us how lucky we were to see Thailand in a way that it hasn't been seen for years. (This, of course, is not the experience on the island of Phuket or Koh Samui, which has been open through a sealed-off Sandbox Program and where tourism has been thriving for many months.)It's hard to feel lucky, though, when so many people who live here are so damaged by the drop in tourism. Sure, it's been idyllic for me as a traveler from the US who gets to come in with my strong US currency, have my experience, and then go home — but it's far less so for the people who actually have to live, work, and operate here on a daily basis. Still, I can't lie that a small part of my heart feels grateful for the opportunity to be one of the few to see this country in a way that will probably never happen again. What to know about the Test & Go ProgramDrillinger says the hotel where she had to quarantine upon arrival provided all of her meals.Meagan DrillingerAs a traveler from the US, I first had to apply for a Thai Travel Pass and show proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test no earlier than 72 hours before my departure. I uploaded all of this for my Travel Pass application, but also brought hard copies which I was asked to show multiple times. I also had to have a reservation for an approved hotel stay for the first 24 hours. These hotels are called SHA Extra+ hotels: They administered a PCR test upon my arrival, and I had to quarantine for 24 hours while waiting for my negative results. They also provided sealed transportation from the airport to the hotel and all of my meals while I was there.Thailand also requires proof of travel insurance with emergency medical coverage — I used Allianz.It may sound complicated, but it was actually really easy, and a small price to pay to keep travelers and locals safe as we're still dealing with the pandemic. It seems like a great solution to keeping everyone safe, and helping to restart an economy that's desperately in need of one of its largest industries to come back.Editor's note: As of May 1, 2022, Thailand has removed the pre-departure and post-arrival PCR testing requirements for vaccinated travelers. Vaccinated visitors are still required to show proof of vaccination, and unvaccinated visitors must either quarantine or show a negative PCR test prior to departure. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 2nd, 2022

Global Markets Tumble On Hawkish Central Bank Anguish, China Lockdown Fears

Global Markets Tumble On Hawkish Central Bank Anguish, China Lockdown Fears The global selloff that started in Asia, sending China's CSI300 plunging to the lowest level since May 2020, slamming the offshore yuan below 6.60 and sparking a liquidation in oil and cryptos amid fears that the Shanghai lockdown will spread to the capital Beijing and lead to an even greater slowdown in the global economy... ... has quickly spread around the globe, slamming not just European markets but US equity futures which slid as much as 1% as traders fretted over the prospects of aggressive tightening by the Federal Reserve, Chinese lockdowns and disappointing earnings. S&P 500 futures were down 0.9% as of 7:00am EDT after plunging 2.8% on Friday, while Nasdaq futures retreated 0.8%, with the rout hammering tech stocks especially hard. Some context: the Nasdaq 100 Index has erased about $1 trillion in market value since Netflix released disappointing earnings and is closing in on oversold levels; the tech-heavy FANGMAN basket has lost $2.4 trillion in market cap from 2021 ATH as Netflix and Facebook  Meta, have lost most of their gains from past 5yrs. Remember when Facebook hit the $1tn market cap club in 2021? Now it’s worth exactly half that. But now the tech bear market is finally spreading all US stocks which closed at their lowest levels in more than a month on Friday as fears over a more aggressive Federal Reserve tightening cycle led to broad-based selling. Investors are entering another busy week for big technology companies’ earnings, with Alphabet, Microsoft, Meta Platforms, Paypal and Apple all reporting results although don't expect some miraculous surge. Investor mood was already morose after Fed chair erome Powell’s hawkish comments last week hurt sentiment already sapped by the war in Ukraine, a slowdown in China and the risks inflation poses to company earnings, according to Michael Hewson, chief analyst at CMC Markets in London. “The final straw appears to be a concern about the prospect of a policy mistake by central banks, and a possible recession by the end of the year,” he said. One sole glimmer of green, Twitter shares, rose 0.6% in premarket trading after a WSJ report that Elon Musk met with the social media platform’s executives on Sunday as the company turns more receptive toward the billionaire’s $43 billion takeover offer. As discussed earlier, U.S.-listed Chinese stocks fell in premarket trading as expanded Covid lockdown measures in major Chinese cities spark concerns over the country’s growth outlook. Pinduoduo led a decline in American depositary receipts, down 4.7% in premarket trade. E-commerce peers Alibaba Group fell 3.9% and JD.com lost 2.5%. Electric carmakers including Nio and Li Auto also fell. The weakness tracks a 4.9% slump in China’s CSI 300 Index, which closed at its lowest level in two years. Here are some other notable premarket movers: U.S.-listed Chinese stocks look set to open lower on Monday as expanded Covid lockdown measures in major cities sparked concerns over the country’s economic growth outlook. Pinduoduo (PDD US) led a decline in American depositary receipts, down 4.7% in premarket trade. E-commerce peers Alibaba (BABA US) fell 3.9% and JD.com (JD US) lost 2.5%. Electric carmakers including Nio (NIO US) and Li Auto (LI US) also fell. AT&T (T US) reinstated with a buy rating at Goldman Sachs with the focus turning to the telecom giant’s core business, while the broker cuts its rating on Verizon (VZ US) on valuation grounds. AT&T up 0.6% in premarket, Verizon -1.4%. Cenntro Electric (CENN US) rises as much as 22% premarket ahead of the electric-vehicle company’s quarterly update due after the close on Monday. Kellogg (K US) was downgraded to hold from buy at Deutsche Bank, which stays cautious and below consensus ahead of 1Q22 results because of headwinds including worsening inflation and supply chain disruptions. Shares down 1.4% in premarket. Morgan Stanley says DoorDash (DASH US) is the “best executor around” among food delivery companies, but awaits a better entry point as initiates at equal-weight with Street- low $100 target. Shares down 1.1% in premarket on low volume. GoDaddy (GDDY US) upgraded to overweight at Piper Sandler on strong free cash flow potential, with the broker cutting its ratings on Wix.com (WIX US) and Squarespace (SQSP US) in a rejig of its digital presence coverage. GoDaddy little changed in premarket, Wix.com and Squarespace not traded. Coca-Cola and Activision Blizzard are among companies reporting earnings today. In Europe, markets are under heavy pressure: Euro Stoxx 50 drops as much as 2.6% with several other core indexes down over 2%. Spain’s IBEX outperforms. Miners are the weakest performers with the Stoxx 600 sector down over 5%. Energy and consumer products and services similarly lag.  Europe’s Basic Resources Index  crashed 6%, and was set for the worst daily drop since March 2020. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Ubisoft shares rise as much as 12% after Bloomberg reported the video-game publisher is attracting takeover interest from private equity firms including Blackstone and KKR. Garanti stock rallies as much as 5.6% after parent BBVA sweetened its voluntary offer for the Turkish lender and the unit said 1Q net income tripled. Biogaia shares rise as much as 9.6% after the Swedish food-additives and supplements maker published preliminary 1Q sales figures, which included a large beat on operating profit and net sales. Barco shares rise as much as 4.2% after the projector maker’s Cinionic JV won a contract to install laser projectors in 3,500 U.S. auditoriums of cinema chain operator AMC. The Stoxx 600 Basic Resources and Energy sub- indexes both slumped on Monday amid broad declines for commodities prices on concerns that a growing Covid-19 outbreak in China will hit demand. Shell -4.5%, TotalEnergies SE -3.1%, Glencore -6.0%, Anglo American -6.5% Philips stock falls as much as 11% after publishing its latest earnings, where higher provisions related to its recall of Dreamstation breathing machines overshadowed better-than-expected 1Q sales. Roche shares fell as much as 3.6% after the Swiss pharma company reported mixed first quarter results. Sales beat expectations due to a boost to the diagnostics division, while the pharmaceutical unit missed. As we reported on Sunday, the big news out of France is that Macron won the second round of the Presidential Election with 58.6% of the vote vs Le Pen at 41.4%, while Le Pen conceded defeat after the initial projections, according to Reuters and Sky News. Elsewhere, ECB President Lagarde commented that interest rate hikes will not lower energy prices, according to Barron’s. ECB policymakers are said to be keen to finish bond purchases as soon as possible and possibly hike rates in July but no later than August, while they are leaning towards two rate moves this year with three also a possibility, according to Reuters sources. However, an ECB spokesperson declined to comment on the timing of ending bond purchases and potential interest rate increases. The EU is said to prepare the creation of a new trade and tech council with India, according to FT sources. The new forum could be unveiled on Monday during the European Commission President’s visit to India. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks slumped the most since March 11 as China’s worsening Covid-19 outbreak and a looming rate hike by the Federal Reserve hurt risk sentiment.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell as much as 2.2% Monday, setting off a grim start to the region’s busiest week for earnings. The biggest drags were technology stocks sensitive to higher interest rates, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, Alibaba and Tencent.  Equities in mainland China and Hong Kong were among the region’s worst performers. Chinese stocks slid to a two year low amid fears that rising infections in Beijing may spur an unprecedented city-wide lockdown of the capital. The Chinese regulator also ordered platform companies to better handle online violence, dragging tech stocks lower. READ: China Lockdown Angst Rips Through Markets as Stocks, Yuan Plunge The lockdowns that have now expanded to parts of Beijing will “cause a logistical problem that’s going to affect not just China but also the rest of the world,” Jeffrey Halley, Asia Pacific senior market analyst at Oanda, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.  With no signs of change in Covid zero policy and very little in terms of actual stimulus, “that all points to lower China stocks and we are going to see a weaker yuan going forward,” he added. Investors are also on guard for corporate earnings. Stock-market heavyweights including Kweichow Moutai in China and Samsung Electronics in South Korea are expected to release first-quarter results this week.   With a number of Fed speakers recently showing support for 50-basis-point hikes, tech shares led declines of major gauges in the region. Taiwan’s Taiex dropped 10% from its January high.   Japanese equities dropped, extending a global selloff amid prospects for aggressive U.S. interest-rate hikes and a worsening Covid outbreak in China. Electronics and machinery makers were the biggest drags on the Topix, which fell 1.5%, with 32 of 33 industry groups in the red. Fast Retailing and SoftBank Group were the largest contributors to a 1.9% loss in the Nikkei 225. Indian stocks also fell, joining their peers across Asia, as appetite for risk waned amid renewed concerns over Covid infections and its possible impact on business growth.  The S&P BSE Sensex dropped 1.1% to 56,579.89, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index slipped 1.3% to 16,953.95. Reliance Industries Ltd. lost 2.3%, the most in seven weeks. It was the biggest drag on the Sensex, which saw 23 of its 30 stocks trading lower.   All but one of 19 sectoral sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. declined, led by a gauge of metal stocks.  The continued war in Ukraine and fears of a wider lockdown in Beijing are weighing on sentiment, already impacted by the risk of a global slowdown as the U.S. Fed raises rates to tame inflation. Of the six Nifty 50 firms that have announced results so far, four have missed, while two have beaten analyst estimates. Bajaj Finance, Hindustan Unilever, Axis Bank are among the companies releasing Jan-March earnings this week.  With risk off, safe havens were mostly bid: Treasuries advanced across the curve, with yields on the belly falling about 10bps and 10Y yields sliding 8bps to 2.833%. The belly of the UST curve outperforms by 1-2bps. Peripheral spreads widen to core with 10y Italy lagging peers on the rally. European bonds advanced, yet underperformed Treasuries; the spread between French 10-year bond yields and German equivalents tightened at the open after President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected as French president, only to widen as haven demand supported bunds. IG dollar issuance slate empty so far; preliminary estimates are for around $25 billion this week. •    Three-month dollar Libor +1.11bp to 1.22486%. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose a third day to the highest level since May 2020; the greenback advanced against all of its Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen and the Swiss franc; AUD and NZD lag G-10 peers. USD/JPY holds above 128. The euro fell to its lowest level versus the dollar since March 2020, erasing earlier gains amid broader greenback strength.  The pound slumped to the lowest versus the dollar since September 2020 and gilts advanced. The Aussie was the worst G-10 performer amid fears over the outlook for China’s demand for iron ore and with the selloff boosted by options-related selling. The yen rose, as concerns about the economic impact of accelerating U.S. rate increases put a pause on the recent aggressive selling of the currency. Japan’s government bonds tracked Treasuries higher with support from purchases by the Bank of Japan. Perhaps most importantly, the yuan - which until now had resisted any weakness - plunged again, dropping to the lowest level in 17 months as the offshore yuan dropped below 6.60 the lowest level since Nov 2020, spurring a selloff in emerging-market currencies. In commodities, crude futures sold ell off with WTI down over 4% and back on a $97-handle. Base metals are similarly deep in the red. Spot gold drops ~$14 to trade near $1,916/oz. Monday’s pullback in the soaring price of commodities since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has done little to assuage concerns about runaway inflation. Fed Jerome Powell had outlined his most bold approach yet to reining in surging prices and the European Central Bank signaled stronger tightening. Bitcoin continued to tumble alongside the broader crypto market, even though the harder the stocks fall and the more the Fed tightens, the more it will eventually have to ease, unleashing the next surge higher in cryptos which we expect to push bitcoin over $100,000 and Ether over $10,000. Looking at the calendar, the economic data slate includes March Chicago Fed national activity (8:30am) and April Dallas Fed manufacturing activity(10:30am); consumer confidence, GDP, PCE deflator and University of Michigan sentiment are ahead this week. Today we will earnings from Coca-Cola, Activision Blizzard, Vivendi. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.7% to 4,235.25 STOXX Europe 600 down 1.8% to 445.31 MXAP down 2.0% to 166.02 MXAPJ down 2.4% to 546.02 Nikkei down 1.9% to 26,590.78 Topix down 1.5% to 1,876.52 Hang Seng Index down 3.7% to 19,869.34 Shanghai Composite down 5.1% to 2,928.51 Sensex down 1.0% to 56,637.35 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.6% to 7,473.28 Kospi down 1.8% to 2,657.13 German 10Y yield little changed at 0.89% Euro down 0.4% to $1.0751 Brent Futures down 4.4% to $101.96/bbl Gold spot down 0.6% to $1,920.54 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.20% to 101.43 Top Overnight  News from Bloomberg China’s coronavirus outbreak worsened as rising cases in Beijing sparked jitters about an unprecedented lockdown of the capital, with policy makers racing to avert a Shanghai-style crisis that’s already wrought havoc on the financial hub China must take stronger action to boost growth above 5% in the second quarter, said a central bank adviser who warned the country needs to lay a foundation for achieving its full-year target in the face of rising economic risks A sustained and substantial increase in U.S. real yields would be bad news for developing nations as it typically boosts the dollar and sucks capital out of riskier assets, like in 2008 and 2013 The U.S. announced it would start sending diplomats back to Ukraine and provide more military aid as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Kyiv late on Sunday night, in the highest- level U.S. visit to the war-torn country since Russia invaded China’s central bank stepped up its support for several distressed developers by allowing banks and bad-debt managers to loosen restrictions on some loans to ease a cash crunch, according to people familiar with the matter A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk APAC stocks traded negatively after last Friday's stock rout on Wall Street with risk sentiment hampered by holiday closures, China's COVID-19 woes and as participants brace for a busy week of key earnings releases. Nikkei 225 shed around 500 points with sentiment not helped by several earnings guidance downgrades and with Nissan shares were hit as alliance partner Renault mulls selling a partial stake in the Japanese automaker. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp underperformed on the COVID situation after daily deaths in Shanghai rose again and with the city to conduct another round of mass testing, while Beijing also scrambles to contain an outbreak with its Chaoyang district to require residents and workers to undergo three COVID-19 tests this week. Top Asian News Asia Stocks Fall Most in Six Weeks as China Outbreak Worsens China Woes Stoking Inflation Angst Set to Weigh on the Euro Shimao Unit Proposes to Pay Down Puttable Bond Faster: REDD Loan Curbs Eased for Distressed Developers: Evergrande Update European cash markets kicked off the week lower across the board with a relatively broad-based performance seen across the majors. Sectors are lower across the board with a clear defensive tilt: Energy and Basic Resources sit at the bottom of the bunch amid hefty downside in underlying commodities. Stateside futures are lower in tandem with the broader market sentiment, whilst the NQ is slightly more cushioned by the earlier decline in yields. Twitter is reportedly re-examining Elon Musk’s bid and be more receptive to a deal with the sides meeting on Sunday to discuss the proposal. It was separately reported that Twitter is facing increasing shareholder pressure to negotiate with Elon Musk in his takeover bid and that the Co. is in talks with Elon Musk in which a potential deal could be made as early as this week, according to WSJ. Top European News Macron Gets Second Chance to Show France His Vision Can Work Credit Suisse Special Audit Backed by Norway’s Wealth Fund SocGen Too Quick to Axe Boss Accused of Trying to Kiss Colleague Art Seized at U.S. Homes Part of Crackdown on Wealthy Russians FX: DXY sets new 2022 peak at 101.750 amid safety flight and sharp slide in crude alongside other commodities. Yen back in favour as risk sentiment sours irrespective of denials about joint Japanese and US intervention discussion - Usd/Jpy towards base of 128.87-127.89 range. Aussie underperforms on Anzac Day due to steep decline in copper and iron ore - Aud/Usd tests 0.7150 and Aud/Nzd cross under 1.0850 vs 1.0940 at one stage overnight. Yuan extends depreciation as Covid spreads to a district in Beijing and PBoC continues to lower Cny midpoint reference rate - Usd/Cnh just shy of 6.6000, Usd/Cny eyeing 6.5650. Euro averts 1.0700 test, narrowly, and pares more losses after surprisingly upbeat Ifo survey, on the surface - Eur/Usd rebounds to circa 1.0750, but still well below Macron victory high. Pound loses Fib support on the way through 1.2800 and sub-8400 vs Dollar and Euro respectively. Fixed Income Debt futures firm as risk appetite wanes, but bonds fade beyond 154.50 in Bunds, 119.00 in Gilts and 119-25 in the 10 year T-note. Core EZ bonds lose momentum after German Ifo survey beats and irrespective of less encouraging accompanying statements. French OATs off peak within 147.38-146.28 range posted on confirmation of Macron defeating Le Pen to retain Presidency. European Commission sells EUR 2.499bln (exp. EUR 2.500bln) 0.4% 2037 NGEU; b/c 2.05x (prev. 1.49x), average yield 1.626% (prev. 0.375%). Commodities: WTI and Brent June contacts have continued to decline since the resumption of futures trading. Spot gold has been caged to a near-USD 5/oz range since the European open as the impact of a firming Buck negated the effects of lower yields at the time. Base metals are in a sea of red as China's lockdown woes hit the demand side of the equation – with LME aluminium and zinc the laggards at the time of writing. US Event Calendar 08:30: March Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index, est. 0.45, prior 0.51 10:00: Revisions: Retail Sales, Inventories 10:30: April Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. 4.8, prior 8.7 DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap I survived a weekend alone with my kids but the only way for all of us to cope was to comfort eat and spend so much time on Netflix that I may as well cancel my subscription as there is nothing left to watch now. Never has Mum been so welcome by an adult, 3 kids and a dog, as she was on her return last night. Parenting is hard! Central bankers are finding it hard too at the moment and it was a fascinating past week on that front as several important central bankers belatedly played a game of leapfrog on who could make the most aggressively hawkish rhetoric on taming inflation. Those speaking at the start of the week might have seemed hawkish at the time but by the end of the week they almost looked dovish. The IMF/World Bank gathering probably focused the minds of all the Governors, Presidents and Chairs present and hawkishness spread through the event like wildfire with the notable exception of Japan's Kuroda who is seemingly sticking to the country's YCC. We are now in the Fed blackout period so they won't add to the hawkishness for the 9.5 days before we get the FOMC decision. Note that the BoJ meet on Thursday although nothing suggests they are going to pivot and will remain the last hawkish shoe to drop. The French election has passed without incident with President Macron gaining 58.6% of the vote vs. 41.4% for Le Pen. Macron won 66.1% of the second round vote in 2017 and with him unable to stand in 2027 and with the traditional parties share of the vote at record lows who knows where French politics will be by then. However much water will flow under Le Pont des Arts before we need to worry about that. Meanwhile, the next hurdle for Macron will come with the Parliamentary elections on the 12th and 19th of June. Commonly referred to as the ‘third round’, the elections will be crucial as it will define the make-up of the government Macron must rely on to push through his reform program. See Marc de-Muizon's blog last night here for more on this. The Euro popped nearly +0.6% higher at the Asian open after the results became clear but has subsequently dipped into negative territory as risk off dominates in Asia. Mainland Chinese stocks are sliding with the Shanghai Composite (-1.95%) and CSI (-2.39%) down, falling to its lowest level since 2020 amid the worsening Covid situation in China, particularly in the financial hub of Shanghai. Strict restrictions have begun to spread, with authorities ordering mandatory Covid tests in a district of Beijing and many buildings locked down. The Hang Seng (-2.47%) is also lagging and elsewhere, the Nikkei (-1.94%) and Kospi (-1.44%) are weak. Outside of Asia, futures contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.42%) and Nasdaq (-0.30%) are lower with 2 and 10yr US yields both around -5bps lower. Brent and WTI are both around -2.9%. Moving on to this week now and it is an important one for European inflation with German CPI on Thursday and the French and Italian equivalent (plus PPI) on Friday with the overall Euro CPI the same day. US (Thursday) and European Q1 GDP (Friday) will also be of interest. Back to the US and inflation related data will be the closest watched with Friday's ECI expected to be strong. This is one of the key indicators the Fed use for labour market strength. The core PCE deflator (the Fed's preferred inflation measure) also comes out as part of the income and spending report data on Friday. The rate of growth may well tick down here so this might provide a shred of good news on inflation without changing the story too much. It will be an important week for corporate earnings too with 179 of the S&P 500 reporting and 134 in the Stoxx 600. Big US tech will be the highlight with Microsoft and Alphabet (tomorrow), Meta (Wednesday), and Apple and Amazon (Thursday). Consumption patterns will be in focus when we get results from Coca-Cola (today), Mondelez, Chipotle (tomorrow), Kraft Heinz (Wednesday) and McDonald's (Thursday). Meanwhile, a range of banks across the globe will give a pulse check on consumer credit. Notable reporters will include HSBC, UBS, Santander (tomorrow), Credit Suisse (Wednesday), Barclays (Thursday), finishing with BBVA and NatWest on Friday. Other notable financials reporting will include Visa (tomorrow), PayPal (Wednesday) and Mastercard (Thursday). Other tech-related companies releasing results will include Activision Blizzard (Monday), LG, Qualcomm, Spotify (Wednesday), Samsung, Intel and Twitter (Thursday). In healthcare, another sector that benefitted from the pandemic, reporters will include Novartis (tomorrow), GlaxoSmithKline (Wednesday), Eli Lilly, Merck, Sanofi (Thursday) and AstraZeneca (Friday). To see how the commodity rally and the focus on energy transition affected major commodity companies worldwide, markets will get earnings from Iberdrola, Vale (Wednesday), Total, Repsol (Thursday), Exxon, Orsted, Chevron and Eni (Friday). Downstream users like transport firms will report too, including General Motors (tomorrow), Boeing, Mercedes-Benz and Ford (Wednesday). Other notable corporates releasing results will include Texas Instruments, General Electric, UPS and Caterpillar. The rest of the day by day calendar of events appears at the end as usual on a Monday. Reviewing last week now, as discussed at the top a cadre of central bank officials reinforced the idea that monetary policy needs to tighten on both sides of the Atlantic this year, thus driving sovereign yields higher. Chair Powell, in his last remarks before the Fed’s May meeting communications blackout, lent credence to the wisdom of front loading the hiking cycle and getting policy rates to neutral as quickly as possible. Regional Fed presidents, spanning ideologies, concurred throughout the week. Short-term markets ended the week pricing more than 150 basis points of tightening over the next three meetings, embedding some risk premium for a 75 basis point hike at each meeting. Futures markets are implying Fed policy rates will be north of 2.80% by the end of the year, above the Fed’s estimates of neutral. President Lagarde was careful to draw a distinction between the US and European situation, but nevertheless would not rule out an increase to ECB policy rates as early as July, following the cessation of net APP purchases, which is likely early in the third quarter. Markets are pricing 24 basis points of ECB tightening by the July meeting, and 85 basis points of tightening for the rest of the year. Bank of England Governor Bailey highlighted the path of policy was laced with uncertainty, but inflation was likely to increase due to rising energy costs. Bailey added the bank would not sell its security holdings into fragile markets. Even committed dove, Ingves of the Swedish Central Bank, rowed back on his previous mantras and acknowledged tightening was needed. As a result, Sovereign yields were higher in each jurisdiction, with 10yr Treasury, bund, and gilt yields increasing +8.2bps (-1.2bps Friday), +10.6bps (+2.4bps Friday), and +7.4bps (-4.9bps Friday), respectively. For their part, 10yr OAT yields closed the week at a +44.5bp spread above bund equivalents, their tightest since March, as President Macron’s polling advantage increased heading into yesterday’s election. Equity indices retreated on the tighter policy path. The STOXX 600 fell -1.42% (-1.79% Friday) while the S&P 500 was -2.75% lower (-2.77% Friday), bringing it into correction territory YTD (-10.37%) again. Mega cap tech stocks bore the brunt, with FANG+ falling -8.76% (-1.99%) as higher discount rates hit valuations. The mega cap losses accelerated after Netflix reported it lost subscribers in the first quarter, which sent its share prices more than -35% lower. The reprieve was only temporary the following day when Tesla reported a record profit on the back of surging electric car demand. Brent crude oil futures were relatively subdued by comparison to other asset classes and recent volatility, falling -5.43% (-2.48% Friday) over the week to $105.64/bbl. Elsewhere the IMF revised down their global growth expectations in light of Russia’s invasion, expecting the global economy to grow 3.6 percent in each of the next two years. Fighting continued in eastern Ukraine, with Russia declaring victory over the port city of Mariupol, while there was not any material public progress in peace negotiations. The Credit Derivatives Determinations Committee said Russia’s remuneration of foreign currency bonds with rubles would constitute a default and trigger credit default swaps. Russia has a 30-day grace period, which ends May 4, to make creditors whole. Tyler Durden Mon, 04/25/2022 - 07:48.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 25th, 2022

15 easy ways to speed up Windows 10 and Windows 11, from disabling special effects to managing bloated apps

You can speed up your Windows computer by uninstalling programs you don't need, changing your startup settings, and more. To speed up Windows 10 and Windows 11, you should uninstall useless programs, disable special effects, and change your startup settings. The single most effective way to speed up Windows, however, is to use a solid state drive. You should also make sure Windows is fully updated, and that your computer is running at full power. Visit Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories. People sometimes wonder how it was possible for the computer inside of Apollo 11 — a computer with less memory than the cheapest Windows PC in use today — to reach the moon. The answer: It didn't waste any processing power on a fancy interface or unnecessary apps. You can eke some extra performance out of your own Windows computer by following that NASA's lead. Even the oldest PC can probably benefit from removing bloated programs, clearing out the hard drive, and removing viruses. But of course, the best way to speed up any Windows computer is by upgrading the hardware.Here are fifteen ways to speed up Windows 10 and Windows 11, most of which you can do without leaving your desk.Install a solid state driveSSDs like this one are often much smaller than hard drives.Andrii Atanov/Getty ImagesYou might need to leave your desk for this one, though.The single best way to speed up any older Windows computer — and any device that still uses a traditional hard disk drive — is to install a solid state drive, or SSD for short.An SSD will allow Windows to boot several times faster, and programs to start in a fraction of the time. And since it has no moving parts, it usually lasts for longer than your average hard disk drive. Adding an SSD can even make a bigger difference than upgrading to a computer with a faster processor.Depending on what kind of computer you have, and whether it's a desktop or laptop, you might be able to install the SSD yourself. Otherwise, a computer repair shop can almost certainly do it for you.Disable apps that run at startupIf your computer takes ages to turn on, chances are that you have too many apps set to open at startup. All these apps compete with each other and your PC's essential features for processing power, which can slow things to a crawl or even make the computer crash.To configure which apps get to open at startup, right-click the Windows icon in your taskbar and select Task Manager, then click Startup at the top of the window. You'll get a list of every app that has permission to start alongside your computer, and a rating of how much power they take up.When you find a program that you don't want to open at startup, just right-click it and select Disable.Quick tip: If you open Task Manager but don't see the Startup option, click the More details option in the bottom-left corner first.Uninstall bloatware and other useless programsWhen you buy a computer from the store, either online or in-person, it usually comes with a suite of third-party apps already installed. Most of these apps are what's known as "bloatware" — useless programs that run in the background, hogging your computer's power.And as you use your computer over the years, chances are that you'll install one or two programs that you don't end up needing in the long run.In both cases, you should occasionally take a few minutes to go through your PC's apps and uninstall the ones you don't want or need anymore.To do this, open the Settings app on your computer and click Apps, and then Apps & features. You'll get a list of all your apps.In Windows 10, click an app's name and then Uninstall. In Windows 11, click the three dots to the right of the app's name, and then Uninstall. If the Uninstall button is grayed out, it usually means the program is built into Windows and can't be removed.Select an app you don't want and click "Uninstall." You might need to confirm your choice,William Antonelli/InsiderFor more details, check out our article on how to properly uninstall programs in Windows.Close apps that you're not usingMultitasking is great, and most modern computers can run multiple apps at once without any issues. But if you're running several high-impact apps at the same time — maybe Google Chrome, Zoom, and Adobe Photoshop — it can put a strain on the processor.If you're looking to make your PC as fast as it can be, close apps when you're not using them, and avoid running too many big apps at once. This might mean you can't multitask as effectively as you like, but it'll help you avoid freezes and crashes.Most apps will close when you click the X button in the top-right. But some apps, like Spotify and Discord, stay open even when all their windows are closed. In these cases, you can close them by clicking the upwards-pointing arrow at the end of your taskbar, or by opening the Task Manager.Disable Windows' special effectsWindows is a prettier operating system than its predecessors, largely due to its special effects. These include small animations when you minimize or maximize a window, keeping the taskbar transparent, and more. They're subtle, but make the OS look much smoother.Unfortunately, they can also take up more power than they're worth. Luckily, both Windows 10 and Windows 11 let you disable them.Open the Settings app and click System, then scroll down to select About. Click the Advanced system settings option. In the new window that appears, find the Performance box and click Settings...A menu will open that lets you pick which special effects and animations you want, and which ones should be turned off. You can also use the preset buttons at the top to quickly adjust for the best performance.You can pick and choose effects, or just disable them all.William Antonelli/InsiderTurn off window transparencyOn a similar note, you might have noticed that some menus in Windows are transparent. Open the Start menu, for example, and you should see a faint, blurred impression of whatever lies behind it. If you don't want to sacrifice speed for such a small effect, you can turn it off entirely (and probably not notice the difference). Open Settings and click Personalization, and then Colors. You'll find a small switch titled Transparency effects that you can use to turn the feature on or off.Turn off Game ModeIf you play games on your computer, Game Mode can be both a blessing and a curse. This setting detects when you have a game open, and will reroute processing power to help the game run as smoothly as possible.When you're only focusing on the game, this isn't bad. But if you're trying to run another app alongside the game, or if you're playing a game that runs in the background (like an idle clicker), Game Mode can cost you speed for no reason.You can turn Game Mode on or off by opening the Settings app, clicking Gaming, and then Game Mode.Keep Windows updatedUpdates can be annoying, we know. If you're working on an important project, racing against a deadline, you don't want to be told to restart your computer.But keeping your PC up-to-date is incredibly important. These patches include fixes and updates for your computer's security and performance, which will help your PC stay speedy.You can check to see if there are any updates waiting for you by opening the Settings app and clicking Update & Security (Windows 10) or Windows Update (11). The menu will check for any pending updates, and download them if they're available.The page will check for updates and let you install them.William Antonelli/InsiderCheck your internet connectionAs time goes on, more apps and more parts of your PC depend on the internet to work. This means that if you have a shoddy internet connection, these apps and features will run slower. In some cases, they might not work at all.Check your internet speed and see if it matches what you're paying for. If it's not, it means that either there's an issue with your internet router or your ISP is cheating you. Reset the router and contact your ISP for help.And if it's possible, connect your computer to the internet using an ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi. Ethernet connections are far faster and more stable, meaning that you shouldn't have to worry about drops in internet speed.Delete any virusesYou don't hear about computer viruses as often as you used to these days. But malware, spyware, and other kinds of malicious software are still lurking out there, waiting for a computer to land on. And while we usually associate viruses with catastrophic computer failures, some viruses are more subtle.Instead of deleting your data, these viruses will just sit on your device and steal processing power (often to mine for bitcoin). This means that even a couple of infected files can lead to a much slower computer.Modern Windows users are lucky, because both Windows 10 and Windows 11 come pre-installed with Windows Defender. Defender is one of the best anti-virus programs on the market, and should catch the overwhelming majority of viruses before they ever have a chance to reach you. This is in addition to the anti-virus features built into apps like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.Still, it never hurts to check. You can actively scan for viruses by opening the Windows Security app on your PC, clicking Virus & threat protection, and selecting Quick scan. And while Windows Defender is very good, there's never any harm in double-checking your system using a third-party app like Malwarebytes.Run your computer at full powerIf you're on a laptop, your computer might not be running at full speed. Nearly every Windows laptop offers "power plans" that make your computer run slower in exchange for longer battery life. To check your power plan, right-click the battery icon in your taskbar and select Power Options (Windows 10) or Power and sleep settings (Windows 11). On the page that opens, you'll find settings to change how much power your laptop uses.You'll want to pick the option that gives you the best performance.William Antonelli/InsiderClean up your diskBoth versions of Windows come with a program called Disk Cleanup. This app isn't very pretty, but it's a fantastic — and quick way — to get rid of junk files that your computer doesn't need. This includes temporary internet files, old error reports, and more. Unless you're really hurting for space, this probably won't make too much of a difference, but it's worth trying.To find this feature, just search your computer for Disk Cleanup and open it when it appears in the results. Check off all the types of data that you want to delete, then click OK.You can also set Windows to run this process automatically when you're low on space. Open the Settings app and click System, then Storage, and turn on the Storage Sense feature.Defrag the hard diskSimilarly, if you use your computer a lot, you should occasionally defragment your hard drive. This process organizes your hard disk, storing files closer together so it doesn't take as long to fetch them.Just note that this will only work if you have a hard disk drive (HDD). If you're using a solid state drive, there's no point in defragmenting it, since it can't be fragmented in the first place.To defragment your hard drive, search your computer for "defrag" and open the Defragment and Optimize Drives app when it appears. Select the hard drive that you want to fix, and then click Optimize.Clean your computerIf your fans get too dusty, the entire computer can suffer.Krasnikova Kat/ShutterstockWe mean "clean" in the literal sense this time. Like any object that sits in one place for a long time, your computer gathers loads of dust and dirt. This is especially true if you have a desktop, and keep the computer tower against a wall or under your desk.When too much dirt builds up inside the computer, it becomes harder for Windows to run. This isn't only because the parts can get damaged, but also because it can block up the fans and cause the system to overheat.Occasionally — at least once a year — you should take time to clean your computer. This might mean opening up the case and blowing out the dust with a can of compressed air. If you don't feel confident opening the computer on your own, take it to a computer repair shop. They'll clean your PC safely, and can even repair any broken parts they find inside.Restart your computerThis might sound ridiculous after all the technical advice we gave above, but trust us: Turning your computer off and then back on again can fix a lot of issues.Modern PCs are designed to stay on 24/7, but you should still consider restarting your computer occasionally. You'd be surprised at how fast a PC can get when it's just given a moment to refresh.And if restarting doesn't do anything, and none of the other options we suggested have worked, you can go a step further by restoring or resetting Windows. Fully resetting the PC will reinstall Windows and totally clear out any damaged files.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 1st, 2022

32 cool tech gifts for teens, from Bluetooth speakers to gaming controllers

Teens love tech, so we rounded up the best gadget gifts out there. From smart speakers to cameras and earbuds, there's something for everyone. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Amazon; Best Buy; Gilbert Espinoza/Business Insider We rounded up the best tech gifts for teens with something for every budget. From headphones to cameras, we have gift ideas for all interests. Shopping for someone else? Check out our best tech gifts for women and our best picks under $25. Teens are tough to shop for, but useful tech products can make great gifts for even the most difficult recipient. Whether the teen on your shopping list is into video games, photography, music, or fitness, there's a recommendation on this list for everyone. Our tech gifts also cover a variety of budgets, with some items costing less than $15.Here are the 32 best tech gifts for teens:A controller for mobile gamingAmazonRazer Kishi Mobile Game Controller for Android, available at Amazon, $55Smartphones can do it all these days, even serve as a full-on gaming device. The Razer Kishi connects to your phone through its charging port to add buttons and analog sticks for even better mobile gaming. It's a great gift for Fortnite, Genshin Impact, and other multi-platform titles — just make sure to check if they use Android or iPhone.Long, durable charging cablesAmazon10-foot iPhone Charger 5-pack, available at Amazon, $10Every iPhone owner of any age could use more charging cables. This set includes five 10-foot long cables, so your recipient can keep one in every room. Long cables like these are also super handy for when an outlet is inconveniently far away. A drawing tablet for digital art beginnersB&H PhotoWacom Intuos Creative Pen Tablet, available at B&H, $39.95Travel-sized, affordable, and versatile, this Wacom Intuos pen tablet makes a great gift for the aspiring digital artist in your life. It's suitable for both left- and right-handed users, and even comes with customizable ExpressKeys at the top. A subscription service with access to thousands of digital comic booksMarvelMarvel Unlimited, $10 a month or $70 a yearComixology Unlimited, $6 a monthIf your teen is a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or superheroes in general, you can give them access to thousands of comic books with a subscription to Marvel Unlimited. The digital service offers more than 29,000 comics, spanning from the classic origin stories of characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men, to recent comic book events like "Venom: King in Black." You can access Marvel Unlimited on iPhone, Android, iPad, and your web browser, and download books for offline viewing. If your teen is a more adventurous reader, you can get them a subscription to Comixology Unlimited, an Amazon owned comic reading service that features a wider range of content, including DC Comics like "Batman" and Image Comics like "The Walking Dead." Comixology Unlimited costs $6 a month making it cheaper than Marvel Unlimited, but it offers fewer complete series. Comixology Unlimited subscribers also receive up to 15% off Marvel, DC, Image, and Dark Horse comic book purchases, making it easier to build a personal collection.A customized gaming controllerThis is just a small selection of the colors available in the Xbox Design Lab.MicrosoftXbox design Lab Custom Controller, available at Microsoft, $69.99Microsoft's Xbox controller has a classic design and is compatible with a wide range of devices, including iPhone, iPad, Android products, Mac, and PC. But people might not be aware of Microsoft's Xbox Design Lab, which lets you customize the colors on every part of the controller and add a laser engraving. The custom controller will arrive within 28 days, usually taking about two weeks.If you're worried about choosing a design for your teen, you can give them an $80 Xbox gift card and let them choose between a custom design, or just buying a new game with the store credit.A webcam perfect for streaming your own videosLogitechLogitech c920x, available at Amazon, $59.99This webcam is one of the most recommended for people getting started with YouTube videos or Twitch livestreams, and it's become even more popular with professionals working from home.While lots of laptops come with built-in cameras, the Logitech c920 offers better video quality with resolutions up to 1080p, a wide viewing angle, streaming at 60 frames per second at 720p, and an adjustable base that can be easily attached to tripods and other stands.A streaming subscription for music loversAn Android smartphone with the Spotify Music logo visible on screen, alongside a pair of earphones.Olly Curtis/Future via Getty ImagesSpotify Premium Subscription, available at Spotify, $9.99 a monthTeens love listening to music, and streaming services offer unlimited access to their favorite tunes. Spotify offers a huge music library and is compatible with Apple, Android, and Windows devices.  The premium subscription gets rid of ads, allows  your teen  to download songs for offline listening, and lets them skip songs as they please. Plans start at $10 per month and are a great way to satisfy the music lover in your family.Wireless earbuds that easily pair with an iPhoneCrystal Cox/Business InsiderApple AirPods Pro,  available at Amazon, $189.99Apple's AirPods Pro offer a great way for your teen to listen to music, take calls, and tune out the world. These true wireless earbuds feature seamless pairing with Apple devices, active noise cancellation, and a transparency mode so they can still hear you when you remind them to do their homework. They come with three sizes of removable eartips for a perfect fit, and boast up to 24 hours of listening time with multiple charges in the included wireless charging case.A subscription that's like Netflix for video gamesMicrosoftXbox Game Pass Ultimate, $44.99 for 3 months Playstation Plus Subscription, $24.99 for 3 monthsWhy buy just one game when you can get dozens? That's the premise behind Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Microsoft's Netflix-style subscription gaming service.  Microsoft offers over 100 games, including blockbusters like "Grand Theft Auto V," "Destiny 2," and "FIFA 21" among many others.  Game Pass Ultimate isn't cheap – it costs around $40 for three months – but offers a tremendous value considering that one new game costs $60. For Playstation fans there's Playstation Plus, which is cheaper than Microsoft's service at $25 for three months, but offers far fewer games. Subscribers get access to a handful of titles each month that they can download and keep as long as they remain a member of the service.The service also comes with other perks like online gameplay and discounts. Which subscription you should get depends on the console your teen owns, but they'll appreciate either one.A gaming headset with audiophile-level soundAmazonSteelSeries Arctis Pro, available at Amazon, $133.06If you're going to get your PC gamer a gaming headset, you might as well invest in one that produces audiophile-level sound. That way, they can listen to music and watch movies without having to switch to a different pair of headphones.The SteelSeries Arctis Pro is a good choice for gamers who care about top-notch audio, as it comes with several input options, virtual surround sound, and a bass that can be pushed. Plus, teens will love the fact that they can customize its look with SteelSeries' range of headbands and ear cups.If you're willing to splurge, the $349.99 wireless version makes it easier for your teen to seamlessly transition between playing games on their PC and taking a call on their phone.An Instax printer to print all those selfies onAmazonFujifilm Instax Mini Link Smartphone Printer, available at Amazon, $99.99Instant cameras are so yesterday! With most teens relying on their camera phones to take photos, a mobile photo printer that lets them print all those friend selfies saved on their phone on 1.81 x 2.44 Instax film is just what the fun doctor ordered. Pair that with the photo clip fairy string lights, and you might just inspire your teen to decorate and declutter their room to make it visitor-friendly.A unique electronic musical instrument that's big in JapanAmazonOtamatone Deluxe Electronic Musical Instrument, available at Amazon, $79.99Music is one of the biggest outlets teens turn to channel their creativity and angst, and this musical synthesizer lets your budding musician create music in a fun and quirky way. Pressing the middle part of the Otamatone and sliding your fingers up and down it will produce higher and lower tones while opening and closing its mouth creates a "wah" sound. It can even connect to speakers, amps, and (preferably to the rest of your household) headphones. A 3D pen with plastic refills in 15 different colorsFacebook3Doodler Create + 3D Printing Pen, available at Amazon, $79.99Today's 3D printers may be pricey, but that doesn't mean that your artistic teen can't enjoy and master the art. With this 3D pen, they can even do so in a more analog way, stirring their creativity and allowing them to appreciate the value of working with one's hands. Plug this pen into a wall outlet, load up the plastic color, and once the pen heats the plastic, your teen is ready to create. It comes with an app with interactive step-by-step instructions on custom art projects.A smartwatch that tracks activity and fitness goalsLisa Eadicicco/Business InsiderApple Watch SE, available at Amazon, $249Your athletic or health-conscious teen will definitely appreciate the Apple Watch SE. This smartwatch can do most of the things Apple's flagship smartwatch can, while keeping things more affordable. It's still on the pricey side, but it's worth it to keep teens on the healthy, active path. As for the fun factor, your teen can customize it with different faces, bands and memojis, as well as use it to play music and stay in touch with friends via iMessage, social media apps, and phone capabilities.Bluetooth trackers that keep your teen from losing their, well, everythingTileTile Limited Edition Bluetooth trackers, available at Tile, starting at $16.99You want to be able to entrust them with important things, from necessities like house and car keys to devices that cost money like laptops. But, let's face it: teenagers are basically bigger versions of kids, and they still tend to lose their stuff. This is why Tile's Bluetooth trackers are super handy. Attach one to their keys or wallet, connect it with their phone, and that's one last question you'll have to field. With their range of Limited Edition trackers that come in several fun designs, they'll be proud to show these off to friends.If your teen owns an iPhone, you can also consider purchasing AirTags, Apple's official tracking device that works with the Find My app. They're a bit more expensive than Tile trackers at $29 each, but offer more features for iPhone users. They also come with a free engraving for personalization.A handheld gaming system with multiplayer capabilitiesNintendoNintendo Switch Lite, available at Amazon, $199If you're on a limited budget (times have been tough, after all) but want to reward your teen with a handheld gaming console, you cannot go wrong with a Nintendo Switch Lite. This pocket-friendly device may not be able to connect to the TV, but it's got a few advantages over the standard Switch beyond the price. It plays all but a few of the same games while being more portable. And, for color-loving teens, it comes in three fun shades plus gray.A PC gaming controller with wireless connectivityAmazonLogitech Gamepad F310, available at Target, $17.59This is a must-have for any teen who enjoys PC and console gaming. With the Logitech Gamepad F310, they can play their favorite Steam and other PC games from the comfort of a couch without the need for a mouse or keyboard — partly thanks to the 6-foot long cable. This will give them better control and a more seamless gaming experience during long sessions as well. If your teen hasn't experienced PC gaming from the couch, this will be a game-changer.Affordable wireless earbudsBest BuyJLab Audio JBuds Air, available at Amazon, $23.43These true wireless earbuds don't boast the same feature set as Apple's AirPods but they do have Bluetooth 5.0, quality sound, a microphone for calls, and basic water resistance. The battery lasts for six hours, and the case holds an additional 18 hours of charge, giving them comparable battery life to AirPods.A drone with high-quality video capabilitiesAmazonDJI Mini SE, available at Amazon, $299Whether you've got a future influencer or a budding content creator in the family, you've got an ace gift in this mini drone from DJI. This is an impressive drone for the price point, with a battery life of 30 minutes and a camera touting great stabilization and 2.7K Quad HD video capability. This drone even has automatic motion presets and a smooth motion mode, allowing beginner videographers such as your teen to utilize pro-level shooting techniques effortlessly. Just remember to teach them proper drone etiquette before they let their new toy fly.Winter gloves with touchscreen-capable fingertipsAmazonAchiou Winter Knit Gloves, available at Amazon, from $9.99Teens aren't going to stop using their phones just because it's freezing outside. They need to stay in touch, and a lot of the time, they'll take off their gloves so they can rub and tap on a touchscreen. With these gloves, they can protect their digits while catching up on social media. And, at this price, you might want to buy a few pairs – and in different colors, if you want – for when they inevitably lose them.A portable Bluetooth speaker with a hardshell carrying caseAmazonJBL Flip 5 Portable Speaker, available at Amazon, $129.99Teens love blasting music away, and this speaker from JBL will let them do so wherever they are — including at the beach or even while floating in the pool. To keep things portable, it boasts up to 12 hours of playtime and comes with a gSport Deluxe Hardshell Case. Best of all, it features IPX7 waterproof protection so it can go in up to three feet of water. With this, they'll have something to look forward to next summer.A power bank with enough juice to charge a phone 2 timesAmazonAnker Portable Charger, available at Amazon, $22 It's not surprising for a teen to spend all day and night draining their phone's battery, but if their phone is frequently dying while they're out, consider buying them a portable charger to provide some extra juice on the go. Anker's PowerCore Slim portable charger holds more than two full charges for the latest iPhone, and should work with any USB device. If you're willing to spend a bit more, you can buy a portable battery with wireless charging, to eliminate the need for cords.A handheld gimbal for shooting cinematic videos with friendsAmazonZhiyun Smooth 4 Handheld Smartphone Gimbal, available at Amazon, $99Whether it's for shooting TikTok content to making full-fledged YouTube videos, a handheld gimbal will let your teen produce better, smoother-looking content. But, while many options out there will set you back more than $100, this gimbal from Zhiyun costs less, which makes it the perfect gift for teens. And, while most teens seem to be naturally tech savvy, this one is especially effortless to figure out, complete with different shooting modes and pro-level shooting techniques turned automated.A beanie with headphones that pair with their phoneAmazonSoundBot SB210 Bluetooth Smart Beanie Headset, available on Amazon, $19.99We all agree – beanies are some of the comfiest accessories out there. But, this nifty one from SoundBot takes it to a new level, with built-in speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, and up to five hours of music listening. Now, your teen can stay warm and listen to music at the same time, without having to wear or carry two things at once. Best yet, it comes in several different colors, some even with poms, so you can get it in their favorite color or design.A smart light strip that changes colorsPhilipsPhilips Hue White & Color Ambiance LightStrip Plus, available at Philips-Hue, $79.99Fairy or string lights are among the top accessories teens love to decorate their rooms with, and Hue's light strip takes that to a new level with its smart light capabilities, ability to display 16 million colors, and Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility. It's terrific for sprucing up every teen's room, whether they're gamers, Bohemians, nature-lovers, or those with an eclectic taste. They can even change the colors depending on their mood, what they're into, or what they're currently doing.A subscription to the best audiobook serviceAmazonAudible Subscription, available at Amazon, $15 a monthGive teens the gift of knowledge with this audiobook subscription. This gives them an audiobook and two Audible originals each month. They will also get 30% off any other audiobooks they choose to buy, which they will own even after their subscription expires. This is an excellent solution for students who learn better by listening than reading.An alarm clock that doubles as a Bluetooth speakerAmazonAnker Soundcore Wakey Bluetooth Speakers with Alarm Clock, available at Amazon, $89.99This alarm clock is packed full of features. It pairs with your teen's phone via Bluetooth and plays audio from any of the apps, as well as FM radio or any combination of the 10 sleep-inducing ambient sounds. There are 10 different alarm sounds, and it wirelessly charges Qi-compatible devices as well.A Bluetooth speaker that teens can use in the showerAmazoniFox iF012 Bluetooth Shower Speaker, available at Amazon, $29.66Teens need to have their music everywhere at all times – that's right, even in the shower. Sure, the JBL Flip 5 mentioned above will work in the shower. For a quarter of the price, however, you can get your teen a dedicated shower speaker, one with a 33-foot range and up to 10 hours of battery life. iFox backs this with a 12-month, no-risk, money-back guarantee. What have you got to lose?A microphone that plugs into a USB portAmazonBlue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone, available at Amazon, $40We bet you haven't considered giving your teen a microphone before. It is a bit of an unconventional gift, but one that teens will love whether they have their own Twitch or YouTube channel, or produce their own podcast. It's an outstanding plug-and-play microphone solution that delivers crystal clear audio to your recordings, all while looking cool and retro.An action camera that will record their adventuresLes Shu/InsiderGoPro Hero 10 Black, available at B&H, $429.99Teens, especially active and adventurous ones, are always up to something new and exciting, whether it's taking an electric skateboard out for a spin or taking on the latest TikTok trends. And, a GoPro action camera will let them record those exploits with friends hands-free. This latest one is obviously the best with 5.3K Ultra HD recording, 23MP still images, and improved HyperSmooth stabilization.A smart speaker that helps keep them organizedAmazonEcho Dot (4th Gen), available at Amazon, $34.99 With the help of Alexa, this mini smart speaker is capable of doing a host of things, from playing your teen's favorite tunes on Spotify or Amazon Music to controlling other smart devices and setting reminders and schedules hands-free. It'll even tell jokes and play trivia games. Teens have a lot going on in their lives, and this gadget is among the best tools they can use to stay organized.A laptop with great durability and battery lifeAppleApple MacBook Air with Apple M1 Chip, available at Amazon, $949If you're looking to splurge on your kid, then the latest MacBook Air will go a long way. This thin and light 13-inch comes with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage, as well as Apple's M1 chip, should get them through daily homework, projects and papers, while letting them play games and enjoy some streaming post-school work. And, since Apple's laptops are practically built like a tank, you'll have the peace of mind that it'll survive some beatings.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 13th, 2022

"There"s no getting out of here": Astroworld medics say they were trapped in crowds and unable to radio for help as Travis Scott fans were suffocating

ParaDocs medics who worked Travis Scott's deadly Astroworld festival detailed the tragic sequence of events in their first in-depth interview. The empty stage that hosted the 2021 Astroworld Festival is seen in drone footage days after the tragedy.Nathan Frandino/Reuters ParaDocs medics who worked Travis Scott's deadly Astroworld festival detailed the tragic sequence of events in their first in-depth interviews.  They describe forcing their way into packed crowds and tending to multiple critical victims at a time. The chief dispatcher says the volume of music was so loud that their festival-issued radios became useless. The lead doctor on duty at Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival arrived at 10 a.m. on Nov. 5 at Houston's NRG Park. Almost immediately, she said, "I knew we were in for a shit show." Passing through the gates of the sold-out show three hours before they opened to the public, she watched swarms of teens scaling fences and crashing gates to get inside the park.  "I wasn't nervous," Dr. Danica Barron said later in an interview. "I've done shit shows. All I was thinking is, 'Ok, we're going to have a rough crowd.'"Barron practices festival medicine – an emerging field of mobile emergency medicine focused on tending to drug overdoses, injuries, heat stroke, or any conceivable medical emergency that might arise when tens of thousands of young people come together for days-long events.As the West Coast medical director of ParaDocs Worldwide, a mobile medicine team hired by Astroworld organizers, Barron helped lead a team of more than 70 ParaDocs staffers stationed throughout the festival grounds and inside medical tents. The medic teams ended up treating hundreds of injuries, including 11 people in cardiac arrest. It ended up being one of the deadliest concerts in U.S. history. Ten people died.   Travis Scott performs at the Astroworld Music Festival in Houston on Nov. 5, 2021. The concert ended up being one of the deadliest in U.S. history.Amy Harris/Invision/AP PhotoIn addition to an ongoing criminal investigation by the Houston Police Department, more than 300 lawsuits have been filed against Scott and the festival organizers, including some that also name ParaDocs as a defendant. Paradocs CEO Alex Pollak and other senior staffers dispute claims that they were either overwhelmed or underprepared for the tragedy that unfolded that night. He notes they had enough staff to handle a crowd of 70,000. According to Houston Fire Department logs obtained by USA Today, 50,000 tickets were sold and another 5,000 fans broke in. In their first in-depth interviews since the tragedy, senior staffers on duty that night offered harrowing accounts of how the tragedy unfolded from their perspective.A spokesperson for NRG Park said they were unable to comment "out of respect for pending litigation and ongoing investigations," while ASM Global, which manages events at the park, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Scott's attorney, who argues in legal filings that Scott is "not legally liable" for the tragedy, also did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Concert promoter Live Nation said in a statement to Insider: "We are continuing to cooperate with and support the investigation to determine what happened so that the Houston community can get the answers they want and deserve."  "The crowd was like a vice" The Astroworld Festival schedule called for the gates to open at 1 p.m. and for various opening acts to perform between 2 and 8 p.m. Then, after an intermission, Scott was set to take the stage at 8:45.ParaDocs senior staffers said they have extensive experience with violent, unpredictable crowds, and, after Astroworld, the senior staff was headed to Orlando for a huge electronic dance music festival.Dr. Danica Barron, the West Coast medical director of ParaDocs Worldwide, was the lead doctor on duty that day.Published with permissionThe company has staffed previous Travis Scott concerts, which were known to be especially wild as the rapper whipped his fans into a frenzy that he dubbed "raging." Twice before, Scott has pleaded guilty to charges arising from his conduct onstage. He pleaded guilty to a reckless conduct charge after urging fans to rush the stage at a Lollapalooza festival in Chicago in 2015, and again to a disorderly conduct charge in the wake of a 2017 Arkansas concert. Barron is one of the most seasoned festival medicine doctors in the U.S. Licensed to practice medicine in multiple states that host big festivals, she has worked more than a hundred music festivals since 2015. She grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from Yale Medical School, and returned to the West Coast, where she spent more than a decade as an emergency room doctor at various West Coast hospitals.  She's trained in tactical combat and casualty medicine, and certified as an "expedition doctor" with a diploma in wilderness medicine.Barron, a mom of three, lights up at my first mention of live music."Oh my God! I used to go to raves all the time," she said. "Love it, love it, love it. Backstage passes, EDM raves, Coachella. I'll hit anything! Classical music concerts, anything live. I love seeing live music, period. Jazz festivals. Whatever is live? I'm there."Barron met ParaDocs CEO Alex Pollak when they worked together at a festival in Texas in 2017, and he brought her on. "We kind of know what we're going to see because we've worked so many festivals," said Pollak. "It's a very specialized thing – knowing the drugs and the trends."The ParaDocs team (from left): medic Damary Chavez, COO Leo Vanegas, CEO Alex Pollack, medic supervisors Zach Chan and Kevin Villatoro, and chief dispatcher Jon Saltzman.Anna Watts for InsiderBy late afternoon, Barron's team in the main medical tent was busy treating relatively routine festival injuries – "fence jumpers and lots of lacerations from people throwing bottles at each other," she said. Houston Fire Department logs from that night obtained by the Houston Chronicle indicate that Houston police were racing to stop one large crowd from scaling a fence while another group tried to crash the main gate. Still, as Scott prepared to take the stage just after 9 p.m, things inside the main medical tent were under control.Drowned in Sound On the other side of the park, inside the festival command center, ParaDocs' chief dispatcher Jon "Salty" Saltzman sat in front of a bank of security camera screens. Alongside nearly two dozen local law enforcement, festival security and dispatchers, it was his job to manage ParaDocs' medic teams.Saltzman, 43, a veteran New York City EMT who wears thick-rimmed black glasses beneath a shock of snow white hair, had been having a routine day up to that point as well. "Busy, but routine," he said.Fans at the Astroworld Festival on Nov. 5, 2021, hours before the tragedy unfolded.Omar Vega/FilmMagicBut outside in the darkness, dangerous swells were forming in tightly-packed sections closest to the main stage, particularly the south quadrant. All afternoon, much of the crowd had been centered around the second "Thrills" stage where the day's opening acts performed. But after opening act SZA's set ended at around 8 p.m., masses of teens surged towards the main "Chills" stage to see Scott. Around 8:30 p.m., a 30-minute countdown clock appeared on the main stage, drawing thousands of teens to press in closer and closer to the stage. At 9:02 p.m., Scott's show kicked off in a dazzling blaze of pyrotechnics that sent streams of fire bursting up into the night sky over Houston. "They were packed so tight the crowd was like a vice," Barron would later observe. "and they couldn't breathe. When it becomes that intense, they can't inhale anymore." 'This is only going to get worse'Saltzman and his dispatchers had been anticipating the typical 30 to 45 minute "rush hour [of patients]" as soon as Scott took the stage. It happened at most festivals, he said, usually at the beginning of the pulse-racing final act. Moments after Scott's set began, Saltzman's team took a report of three people suffering smoke inhalation from the fireworks near the front of the stage. Saltzman began routine radio check-ins with his forward triage supervisors. Each ParaDocs medic had been assigned a radio by Astroworld's festival organizers. The Motorola radios were standard issue and familiar to all of his medics. When he reached supervisor Zach Chan, who was in the south quadrant, Saltzman was caught off guard when he got a report of "multiple critical patients.""It wasn't what he said, but it was how he said it," Saltzman recalled. "Knowing him the way I do, I heard something in his voice that triggered something in me." "Oh, shit," Saltzman thought to himself. "And that's when the snowball started for us in the command center." Suddenly, garbled reports of critically-injured patients began pouring in. "It was too loud for crews to hear me – the speakers they're carrying in those radios are only so large. And when they tried to call me, all I got was noise. It was so loud the microphone kit [in the radios] couldn't distinguish between a voice yelling and the decibels of a music festival."Saltzman and his two dispatchers pulled out maps of the festival area, "trying our best to weed through all the chaos and come up with something tangible. The more I tried, the worse it got." Jon Saltzman, the ParaDocs paramedic.Anna Watts for Insider"There's a point where there's just so much chaos and there's so little communication that I have to just accept that they're working on their own," Saltzman said. Between songs, Saltzman's dispatchers would receive a report they could partially distinguish, and request a location to try and send help, only to be met with silence. Soon it became clear why: the medics in the crowd were using both hands to administer CPR.   "I'm their backup, their lifeline," he continued. "That is how those patients get from the ground in the middle of hell to the medical tent where they can get the care they need. And they can't get there! I'm literally standing there, and I'm the one who's responsible for getting them to that tent, and I can't get them there." When Saltzman and his two dispatchers had what they thought were three distinct reports of cardiac arrests – a casualty level they'd never seen before at a music festival - he knew he had to do something drastic. "We're in the beginning of his set - there's two hours to go. I took a step back and thought, 'This is only going to get worse.'" Saltzman said he told the festival dispatcher they should shut down the festival. "He looked at me and I go, 'I know. I don't have any authority to go this far. But this is uncharted territory. The only way we're going to save these people is to get everyone the fuck out of the grounds. You need to shut this down.'"At 9:38 p.m. – 36 minutes after Scott took the stage – the Houston Fire Department declared a mass casualty incident (MCI), a crisis level triggered when on-site medical teams become overwhelmed by the number or severity of patient injuries and require outside assistance. Still, the concert continued. 'Everyone Was Just Screaming'Chan and Kevin Villatoro, another senior ParaDocs medic, were stationed near the front of the stage when Scott began his set. A flaming bird appeared on a screen high above the stage as a church organ bellowed. Scott, a Houston native who had launched Astroworld in 2018, emerged on stage yelling "Let's go!" As he launched into his first song, four columns of flames shot up on either side of him in front of the stage as tens of thousands of teens bounced in rhythm. A staff medic came rushing over and shouted over the pounding bass. "I need help! I need help!" she shouted over the pounding bass. "My partner's being assaulted!"  Chan and Villatoro raced behind her down the passageway to an area behind the south quadrant. Security had already responded to the assault when they arrived, and the two supervisors treated their colleague and sent him to the main medical tent. But now something more serious was unfolding. Panicked concertgoers were pouring over the barriers and into the area reserved for medical and security personnel seeking medical help, Chan said. ParaDocs supervisors don't carry medical equipment – they oversee teams in the field. But with all the medics either tending to injured concertgoers or trapped somewhere in the crowd, there was no one else to turn to and they got to work.Zach Chan, a supervisor with ParaDocs.Anna Watts for Insider"Everyone was just screaming for help," Chan recalled. "I would have to grab them and [say], 'Look, I need you to take a second to tell me what's wrong.' If it was serious enough to take precedent over someone I'm currently treating, I would help them first. If not, I'd sit them down and say, 'Give me two minutes and let me get back to you.' It was pretty upsetting."Chan, the son of one of the first Asian-American paramedics in the New York City fire department, found a young woman lying on the ground, struggling to breathe and too weak to walk. He sent Villatoro and another supervisor back to the medical tent to retrieve collapsible stretchers. Five minutes passed. Chan now had four critical patients in need of transport – three struggling to breathe and one with severe trauma, he said. Where were the stretchers?Chen's radio crackled to life with multiple reports of unconscious patrons and teens being crushed beneath crowds. He said he knew then that the stretchers weren't coming. He rushed to the nearest security guard."'Dude, I don't care what you do,' he remembers saying. 'I need to move these four people right now.' The guards complied, forcing a pathway through the crowd. "We ended up just throwing them over our backs, and we just ran them to our medical pen," Chan said. At the medical tent, Chan was approached by a frantic teen with yet another report of a possible cardiac arrest and he charged back into the south quadrant."Honestly, looking back on it now? People call us heroes but I just feel like we were idiots," Chan said. "Once I was in the crowd, alone, I just thought to myself, 'I fucked up. There's no getting out of here.'" A moment from the third annual Astroworld Festival at NRG Park on Nov. 05, 2021.Rick Kern/Getty ImagesWhen he finally arrived at the location, he found fellow medics performing CPR on three patients. Chan decided to try and make it back to the medical tent for more stretchers, but the crowd was too dense. He pushed and pushed but moving through it was impossible. Suddenly, the music stopped and he could hear Scott speaking from the stage. The mass of bodies momentarily relaxed, and Chan saw his moment. He burst into the crowd, hoping to make it out to the medical tent. As he charged forward, Chan said he could hear Scott say "something like 'make the ground shake.'" (It was approximately 9:29 p.m, according to a Houston Chronicle timeline, the second time in five minutes that Scott had stopped the show. What he actually said "I wanna make this motherfucking ground shake, goddammit!")As soon as the music resumed, the crowd exploded anew into a frenzied mosh pit. Chan was propelled backwards. "I got about 10 or 15 feet because I'm 300 pounds and I had a running start. That's not something I would ever normally do – barrel through a crowd like that - but this was a life-or-death situation at that point," Chan said. "I ended up getting punched and kicked by the kids, and the next thing I knew I was back in the little CPR circle." He turned to a fellow supervisor, "and I just said "'We're fucked.'"  Earlier this month, Scott said in an interview with radio host Charlamagne tha God that he didn't learn until after the concert was over what had happened and did not hear fans' cries for help and to stop the show."I stopped it a couple times to just make sure everybody was OK. And I really just go off the fans' energy as a collective, call and response. I just didn't hear that," he said."You got lights, you got sound, you got pyro, you got your in-ears, you got your mic, got your music, you got [a] band, there's all types of stuff going on," he said at another point. "Everything kind of just sounds the same and at the end of the day you just hear music. 'There's somebody dead in the crowd!'Villatoro didn't return to Chan's position because as he and another supervisor ran back to the medical tent, they were diverted by something even more urgent.A young man had burst from the crowd, screaming for their attention:  "There's somebody dead!" he shouted. "There's somebody dead in the crowd!" The area in front of the main stage sectioned the sea of fans into four quadrants with a narrow passageway between hardened metal barriers reserved for security and medics. The man led them towards the main stage and about a third of the way up the center passageway that separated the south and east quadrants. He was pointing into the south quadrant. This was the most densely-populated section of the concert and, according to a Washington Post investigation, where the majority of the deaths occurred. Astroworld fans were divided into quadrants. The southern quadrant (bottom left) was where most of the deaths occurred, according to a Washington Post investigation.Nathan Frandino/ReutersMounting the barricades, the two supervisors plunged into the crowd and forged a path through the pulsating forest of bodies. Finally, they spotted a young man on the ground. He was unresponsive. When Villatoro couldn't get a pulse, he said, he began performing CPR. Kneeling over his patient, Villatoro glanced up at one point and saw a small patch of light. There, lit up by cell phone flashlights, he saw the bodies of two more young men. A dizzying sensation seized him. As a child, Villatoro, 31, suffered asthma attacks so severe he was regularly rushed from his Woodside, Queens elementary school in ambulances. That's what got him interested in medicine in the first place. The terrifying sensation of suffocating had never fully left him, and it gripped him now as he knelt in a field strewn with bodies."Everything seemed to happen at once," Villatoro recalled. "It was just a total shock. I just went into autopilot mode." He leapt off the ground and ran towards the two men to check for vital signs. He and the other medic split up and "just [went] straight into compressions."Villatoro's heart was racing, the music thundering overhead. He tried to think. As volunteers came forward he directed them to take turns performing CPR – one person performing compressions while another administers breath. "There was no hearing, no conversation to be had," he said. "Just a lot of yelling and pointing and instinct." On his knees in the dirt, with no stretchers or transport equipment, he could neither get his patients out nor leave them. He was trapped."I'm not going to say that I've been in EMS for a very long time," Villatoro said. "But that was the scariest moment of my life. I actually feared for my life for the first time, honestly."  He had never seen three cardiac arrests in patients so young with no obvious signs of  trampling - pushed-in faces, broken necks - and he surmised they'd been crushed by the crowd while on their feet. Villatoro said he tried repeatedly to call in his location, but he couldn't hear anything over the music. He tried his cell phone but he couldn't get a signal. Kevin Villatoro, a senior ParaDocs medic.Anna Watts for InsiderAround him, Villatoro began to notice that fans were locking arms to form a daisy chain around him and the other medics. "That wall of people was the only thing keeping (the crowd) from crushing us," said Villatoro, who at six feet and 265 pounds is one of the largest medics on the ParaDocs senior staff.  "Even for someone like me, at that point? It didn't matter if I were the Mountain," he said. "While you were crouched down on the ground, doing CPR, you are below the line of sight of anybody. And honestly, the daisy chain was the only thing that was protecting us. Had one person slipped, had people started getting riled up again, and they started pushing in, we would have been easily swept over like a wave."More than 20 minutes passed, Villatoro said, before he finally got through and radioed in his grim report. He took a breath, momentarily relieved. Help would be on the way now, he recalled thinking. During a break between songs, he pressed his radio to his ear, waiting for news of arriving medics.  "Instead, I just started hearing, 'we have another one down,' and then 'another one down.'" Villatoro said he was beginning to lose hope when, finally, he saw the chain of people open and a group of Houston police came pouring through with transport and medical equipment.'Do I tell them to leave? Do I tell them to stop?'Back in the command center, it was clear to Saltzman that people were suffocating inside the crowd, but he couldn't pinpoint where it was happening. He knew his medics and supervisors were going against their most basic training by rushing into dangerous situations without any of the operational communications for which they normally rely on him. And if they went in to help and got trapped, he couldn't get them out. The conflicting impulses tore at him.  "To be sitting there in the command [center] in a nice cushy seat and a desk with a laptop, watching it on the monitors and hearing the chaos going on out there," he recalled. "What do you do I tell them? Do I tell them to leave? Do I tell them to stop?"Like other senior ParaDocs medics, Saltzman is sensitive to criticism that his team failed at their jobs. "Did we do the best we could? Yeah, we went above and beyond. From day one, you're always taught [to care for] yourself, your partner and the patient, in that order, period. And every single one of these guys out in the field, every one of our EMTs, every one of our operations officers, for the greater good, violated rule number one – putting themselves in harm's way."About 30 minutes into Scott's set, Saltzman said he gazed up at the security camera screens and spotted something that made him nauseous. "Everybody kind of looked up and said, 'is that what I think it is?' A vehicle being used as a field ambulance was transporting a critical patient, fighting its way through the crowd as laughing teenagers danced on the roof."I can see one of my [medics] on the back doing CPR, literally underneath someone standing on the golf cart as it's moving … jumping up and down and dancing." —Chaudhary Parvez (@ChaudharyParvez) November 6, 2021 "At the human level, this was disgusting. I watched the entire thing. And I had a moment and I snapped and needed to walk out of the command center. "'Yeah, this is chaos,' he thought as he lit a cigarette. "But it kind of hit me that this was like a failure of human decency and humanity."'Wave after wave after wave'On the other side of the park, Barron's field hospital was filling up."People had been coming in earlier with trample injuries," Barron said. "Some girl had her eye crushed in. Another had their neck stamped pretty bad. Another had abdominal pain. So we knew the crowd was rough." She just didn't know how rough. Soon, three critical patients were brought in with no pulse. Barron's team had just finished treating an apparent opioid overdose and at first "we didn't know if it was more overdoses, or what," she said. "None of them had physical trauma – stepped on faces or chests," she said. "But their pupils were fixed and dilated, meaning they had been anoxic" – deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time, a symptom common to both opiate overdoses and asphyxiation.Barron said she personally intubated at least six of the cardiac arrest patients that came through her field hospital that night, she said. Three days after the tragedy, Harris County medical examiners completed autopsies on eight of the 10 people who ultimately died, but said that causes of death "remain unknown," according to the Houston Chronicle, and that final determinations could take weeks.What wasn't immediately apparent became achingly clear in the aftermath: people being crushed so hard by crowds that many suffocated on their feet. It was something none of the ParaDocs medics or doctors had ever seen at a music festival before. Damary Chavez, a ParaDocs medic.Anna Watts for Insider'Maybe this is all going to end'One of the medics, 24-year-old Damary Chavez, was at a secondary medical tent when a distraught couple came in claiming someone had lost consciousness in the crowd. She followed them toward the southern quadrant. As the crowd got thicker she stopped the man and proposed that she hang on to his hoodie so she wouldn't lose him in the crowd. Leo Vanegas, a medic and ParaDocs's chief operations officer, was already administering CPR, and Chavez joined in so that they could turns.Nearby, a distraught young man told her he was going to climb onto a nearby camera platform to try to stop the show. "People were just freaking out," Chavez said.In a viral video clip from the concert, two fans can be seen climbing the platform and frantically begging the camera operators to "stop the show." At about 9:30 p.m., the music paused briefly and Chavez thought that would finally calm the crowd down enough so that she could get her patient out of the crowd. The memorial outside NRG Park in Houston a few days after the of the 2021 Astroworld Festival.Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images"'Maybe they're going to stop the music. Maybe this is all going to end," she thought, hopefully. "But then you just hear [Travis Scott] say, 'Let's make the ground shake!' – and that's when more fear comes. That's when you panic. 'Are these people going to start jumping and dancing again?'"The crowd exploded anew, with bodies bouncing off each other. "All these people are being crushed," she recalled. "Everyone's falling on top of each other."Crouched over her patient, fighting for space, Chavez could hear cries piercing the darkness. "Help! Help!" Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 17th, 2021

Don"t let Saudi Arabia use a Formula 1 race to hide the abysmal way it treats its people

Saudi leaders want to use high-profile sporting events and other spectacles to distract from the grim realities of life in the kingdom. Formula 1 cars at the French Grand Prix.Clive Rose/Getty Images Saudi Arabia hosted its first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix on Sunday. Saudi leaders want to use high-profile sporting events and other spectacles to distract from the grim realities of life in the kingdom. Abdullah Aljuraywi is a Saudi activist and director of communications of UK-based NGO ALQST for Human Rights. On Sunday, December 5, 2021, Saudi Arabia will host its first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix. Thousands of motorsport fans will gather to watch the action in the coastal city of Jeddah, where a new circuit has just been completed.Global pop stars like Justin Bieber and David Guetta will provide glittering entertainment — despite (so far) pleas from those hurt the most by Saudi abuses, like the fiancee of assassinated journalist Jamal Khashoggi, imploring Bieber not to perform for the man who ordered Khashoggi's murder, the Saudi crown prince.The world is becoming familiar with Saudi Arabia hosting high-profile sporting events — iconic car rallies, golf tournaments, heavyweight boxing matches. Last month, Saudi Arabia expanded further, creating intense controversy when it acquired 80% of the English Premier League's Newcastle United Football Club using over US$409 million from the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund.Such developments are a key feature of "Vision 2030," the agenda launched by the kingdom's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (commonly known as "MBS"). The kingdom has been investing heavily in sport and entertainment in a bid to attract foreign investment and diversify the country's economy.Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, April 28, 2021.Saudi Royal Council via Getty ImagesIt also aims to persuade us, the youth of Saudi Arabia — who make up two-thirds of the population — to believe that our generation has a bright, progressive future. A few weeks ago, for example, hundreds of thousands gathered in the capital for the opening parade of "Riyadh Season," a five-month cultural festival aiming to boost tourism, which featured the American rapper Pitbull.But it also wants viewers around the world to ignore the grim realities of life in the kingdom, in an effort to whitewash — or "sportswash" — Saudi Arabia's international image, especially since the state-sponsored murder of Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 drew world attention to the authorities' gruesome human rights record.Khashoggi's murder was not an isolated event, however. Since MBS came to power there has been an intensive crackdown against all forms of dissent, including widescale arbitrary arrests, the brutal torture of women's rights activists, unfair trials and prolonged detention for a vast number of prisoners of conscience, and the sinister targeting of dissidents abroad.This relentless repression is causing increasing numbers of Saudi Arabians, especially young Saudis like me, to leave the country and seek asylum abroad.If we want to breathe freely and have our voices heard we must say goodbye to our homeland, a place where tweeting peacefully on social media can swiftly lead to arrest and lengthy prison sentences. What use to us are motor races and pop concerts, when we have soaring youth unemployment and no freedom of expression?Human-rights abuses are everywhere in Saudi Arabia, and the F1 Grand Prix will be no exception. Drivers will be racing on tracks built by migrant workers, who are widely mistreated under the country's kafala sponsorship system, sometimes described as modern slavery because of the way it systematically violates migrant workers' fundamental rights.A demonstrator protests outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, October 8, 2018.JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty ImagesThe track is just a few miles away from one of Saudi Arabia's notorious political prisons, Dhahban. It was here that Musa al-Qarni, a campaigner for reform, was murdered in October, with injuries to his skull. His death highlighted the horrific abuse, and often torture, suffered by prisoners of conscience in Saudi jails.Dhahban is also where the award-winning human-rights defender Waleed Abu al-Khair is held, and women's rights activists like Samar Badawi were detained until earlier this year, having been imprisoned since 2018. Although they have now been released, the women remain subject to harsh restrictions such as travel, work and social media bans, thus silencing their activism.Last month, the most successful driver in Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton, spoke out ahead of the Grand Prix in Jeddah to voice concern and urge "scrutiny" over Saudi abuses. Hamilton's comments followed a joint campaign by several NGOs urging him to reconsider his participation and make a stand for human rights.Ahead of the Formula 1 race this weekend, more leaders in sport, in government and from the general public must follow Hamilton's lead and speak out to ensure that Saudi Arabia cannot use the event to sportswash its abysmal human-rights record.Events like the F1 Grand Prix should not be happening in places like my country where there is no freedom of speech or thought. Their presence serves only to distract attention from the regime's brutal crimes.But since it is now going ahead, all those involved, from fans to drivers to sponsors and other entertainers, should use whatever leverage they have to speak out about the grim human rights situation in my country, for the sake of a better future for my generation.Abdullah Aljuraywi is a Saudi activist and director of communications of UK-based NGO ALQST for Human Rights.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 5th, 2021

The curious afterlife of the Lord of the Skies

Conspiracy theories about the death of Amado Carrillo Fuentes, Lord of the Skies, have lingered for years, most recently among fans of Narcos: Mexico. The casket with Amado Carrillo Fuentes' remains at his mother's ranch in northwestern Mexico on July 11, 1997. Reuters When Mexico's most powerful drug lord died an unbelievable death, a team of federal agents raced against the clock to identify his body. Conspiracy theories about his demise have lingered for years, even getting a wink in Netflix's Narcos: Mexico. Speaking publicly for the first time, DEA agents who helped confirm his death give the full story behind one of the strangest chapters in the annals of Mexico's drug war. The departed smiled up at the ceiling, his lips pulled back to reveal a row of bright white teeth.The skin on the man's hideously distended hands shone a sickening gray-green color of rot, and his long, puffy face was heavily bruised, with deep, dark circles ringing his eyes and nostrils. Mottled patches of discoloration spread up his high forehead and across his cheeks.Under the harsh glare and buzz of fluorescent lights, the body of one of Mexico's most powerful men lay in state, nestled within the plush white confines of a metal casket. The body was clad in a dark suit and a blue-and-red polka dot tie, his deformed hands deliberately forced together at his waist to mimic a state of repose, a hideous parody of an open-casket funeral.In the place of mourners, photojournalists pressed up to the edge of the casket, inches away from a man who just days before could have, with a wave of his hand, ordered unspeakable violence against anyone insane enough to have treated him with such disrespect.Along one wall, a row of men, some in white lab coats, others in drab, police-issue suits, stood with grim discomfort written across their faces as shutters clicked.This ghastly wake in a government building in Mexico City on July 8, 1997 was the first glimpse of a man whose name much of the country knew but few dared to utter. Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the Lord of the Skies, the boss of Ciudad Juárez, and arguably the most powerful criminal kingpin in the nation's history was dead and his rotting corpse was displayed for all to see. Amado's body was displayed on July 8, 1997, at the Judicial Police morgue in Mexico City. A group of police pathologists look on. Reuters It was perhaps one of the most macabre press scrums in history, and a bitterly ironic fate for a man who had so carefully seen to it that so few photos of his likeness existed.News of Amado's death had begun to filter out days before. According to the Mexican Attorney General's office - known by its Spanish acronym as the PGR - Amado had died on the operating table while undergoing plastic surgery, to alter his appearance, and liposuction.Amado's family soon confirmed the story, lipo and all, telling reporters that he'd suffered a heart attack while under anesthesia. But for many Mexicans, the story was almost too bizarre to believe. The PGR had invited reporters to see the body in hopes of dispelling any rumors or suspicion about Amado's fate. It didn't work. The idea of Amado faking his death and vanishing into retirement flourished in Mexico's bustling rumor mills. One doubter, a barber cutting the hair of a Los Angeles Times reporter, insisted that the key to the coverup lay in the corpse's decaying limbs."Those aren't his hands," the barber said. "Those are the hands of a classical pianist.""Some poor unfortunate person"In the nearly quarter-century that has elapsed, a host of rumors and conspiracy theories have, unlike Amado, stubbornly refused to die - even in the archives of the wire service Agence Press Press, which listed a photo of Amado's "alleged" body.In 2015, the idea found new life thanks to an article published on the English-language site of the Venezuelan state-sponsored news network Telesur. According to the report, which relied mostly on the extremely dubious word of a supposed cousin of Amado, Sergio Carrillo, the drug lord was doing just fine."He is alive," Carrillo said, according to Telesur. "He had surgery and also had surgery practiced on some poor unfortunate person to make everybody believe it was him, including the authorities."This claim would be easily dismissed were it not for the larger constellation of conspiracies surrounding Amado's death. Instead, it's taken on a life of its own in a string of tabloid stories that have repeated Sergio Carrillo's claim.(Attempts by Insider to verify Carrillo's existence or reach him for comment were unsuccessful.)The persistence of such stories has also been helped along thanks to the popularity of the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico, which stars a heavily fictionalized - and rather sympathetic - version of Amado. In the third and final season, which became available on Friday, Amado takes center stage as the show follows a greatest-hits summary of his empire building and eventual fall from grace. Eduardo Gonzalez Matta, a general director of the Mexican Attorney General's office, points to evidence charts at a July 10, 1997 press conference aimed at convincing the public of Amado's death. OMAR TORRES/AFP via Getty Images In one of the final scenes, a moody Amado is shown prowling around the empty operating room prior to his surgery, and the narrator says outright that Amado has died. But then the show slyly drops an easter egg to superfans in the form of a final post-credits scene: As Amado's girlfriend wanders about in a seaside mansion, the camera cuts to a shot of a toy airplane that her lover had given her.The myth has resonated for a reason in Mexico, where a toxic mix of authoritarian governance, pervasive corruption, a powerful criminal underground protected by the state and shrouded in lies and half truths has fueled a highly justified skepticism of any official narrative.Here, for the first time, is the most complete account of one of the strangest chapters in the annals of Mexico's drug war. Speaking publicly about the episode in detail for the first time, agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration who helped identify the body and confirm his death have laid out the full story behind one of the strangest incidents in the annals of the war on drugs.Lord of the SkiesLike virtually every major drug trafficker of his generation - Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, Benjamín and Ramón Arellano-Félix, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada García - Amado was a native of the northwestern state of Sinaloa, that long, thin state in Mexico's northwest whose western borders greet the waves of the Gulf of Cortez and whose eastern borders end in the highlands of the Sierra Madre Occidental.It's a rugged, hardscrabble region populated by ranchers with weather-beaten faces and farmers who for the better part of a century represented the bottom rung of the marijuana and opium trade in the Western Hemisphere. Amado and his 10 siblings grew up in a tiny settlement in the scrubland just north of Navalato, a tough little bread-basket town surrounded by fields of sugarcane, maize, and wheat.Also like many of his fellow future kingpins, Amado's family had been involved in the drug business in one way or another since who-knows-when. It was a more humble business back then, small-time farmers selling opium and weed to small-time traffickers who brought the stuff north to the border. But thanks to the booming demand for marijuana in the late 1960s, and the shutdown in 1972 of the main pipeline for Turkish heroin from Europe to New York, Sinaloa's illicit economy became turbocharged. An undated photo of Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Reuters So it helped that Amado's uncle was one of those traffickers. A murderous brute of a man, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, better known as Don Neto, was by the 1980s a key partner in the trafficking network often referred to as the Guadalajara Cartel.It was the advent of the cocaine boom, when Mexican traffickers began to branch out from weed and dope and made use of their existing smuggling routes to move Colombian cocaine, and the cash flowing back south twisted and perverted every facet of society.Amado was an innovator in his own right, and is often credited as a pioneer of moving drugs by airplane, overseeing ever larger fleets of ever larger planes groaning under the weight of ever larger shipments of Colombian coke. This vocation earned him the nickname "el señor de los cielos," or the Lord of the Skies, and made him fantastically wealthy, with money to buy as many cops, judges, generals, and politicians as he needed to stay on the right side of things.As the criminal landscape in Mexico shifted in the late 1980s following the breakup of the old guard in Guadalajara, Amado had relocated to Ciudad Juárez, a sprawling desert city just across the Río Grande from El Paso, Texas.With its bustling border crossing that sees billions of dollars in cargo cross each way every year - an economic engine that leapt into overdrive with the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement - Juárez was the crown jewel in the constellation of smuggling routes into the United States.The local capos who controlled the Juárez smuggling route, or "plaza," soon began to display a curious habit of dying, one after another. Amado, for his part, showed a talent for stepping out from the wings to claim their turf. Vehicles crossing from Ciudad Juarez towards El Paso, Texas. Ivan Pierre Aguirre/AP Photo Amado was a skilled smuggler. He was also a brilliant manager with a head for politics, and he built a vast network of street enforcers, informants in every agency of Mexican law enforcement and military, and connections to powerful friends capable of easily quashing the political will to arrest him.While other traffickers fought bloody turf battles and moved coke, weed, and heroin across remote border crossings in the desert, Amado was consolidating power and largely keeping the peace in Juárez, where he proved a reliable colleague to corrupt officials turned off by the ostentatious violence of his competitors. In a few short years, he had become the most influential drug trafficker in Mexico.But even for a guy with the political savvy that Amado had in spades, remaining atop the tangled web of shifting alliances and competing priorities that dictate the status quo in Mexico was a deadly game, and any number of brand-name narcos who came before him had enjoyed that sweet spot for a time before they attracted too much attention and with it their own expiration date.By the mid-1990s, Amado had become the most powerful drug lord in the country."A guy of absolute, unquestioned integrity"Early in 1997, the balance that Amado had so skillfully maintained was thrown into a tailspin with the arrest of General Jesús Héctor Gutierrez Rebollo, Mexico's top drug warrior. He had worked closely with agents of the DEA to pursue trafficking networks and had the endorsement of many in Washington.President Ernesto Zedillo had appointed the general to lead the fight against drugs as part of an effort to cut out the notoriously corrupt alphabet soup of police agencies in favor of the military, which despite its own legacy of corruption and human-rights abuses enjoyed a level of trust and respect that most other branches of the government had long ago squandered. Washington had enthusiastically supported the appointment, and General Barry McCaffrey, President Bill Clinton's drug czar, had praised the general as "a guy of absolute, unquestioned integrity" as recently as in December of 1996.So the DEA and their higher ups in D.C. were shocked when, on Feb. 17, 1997, the general was suddenly dismissed, and even more so a day later when Mexican officials announced that Gutierrez Rebollo had been arrested for receiving payoffs from one Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Amado (L) is seen at a party in an undated photo. Reuters As winter turned into spring, Guttierez Rebollo was sitting in irons, and Washington was sporting a deeply embarrassing black eye. At a hearing in March, DEA chief Thomas A. Constantine mused that major traffickers in Mexico "seem to be operating with impunity," and a congressional subcommittee convened soon thereafter to discuss slamming shut the faucet of foreign aid to Mexico.The Mexican government has never reacted well to its frenemies in the drug trade catching the undivided attention of the U.S. government, as a long line of Amado's former compatriots found out the hard way.And now the high-beams were focused on Amado. As one of the key public faces of drug trafficking in Mexico - and as the man whose bribes were the stated reason for the general's arrest - Amado found himself suddenly, dangerously exposed, and desperate to disappear, according to Ralph Villaruel, a retired DEA agent who was stationed in Guadalajara at the time."We were hearing he was in Russia, that he was in Chile," Villaruel told me in an interview. "We heard that he wanted to pay [the government] to be left alone, that he didn't want nothing to do with drug trafficking no more."Amado was a wreck. Overweight and reportedly strung out on his own personal stash carved off the tens of thousands of kilos his men continued to smuggle north, he seems to have opted for a radical solution: he would alter his appearance with plastic surgery.So on July 3, 1997, he used a false name to check into a hospital in a ritzy neighborhood of Mexico, and, in a heavily guarded operating room, the lord of the skies succumbed to a lethal dose of anesthesia and sedatives."We think Amado Carrillo Fuentes is dead"Mauricio Fernandez wasn't getting much sleep in those days.Fernandez, newly married, had been working at the Mexico City office of the DEA for about a year. He'd joined the agency in 1991 after serving in the Marines, and threw himself into his new vocation with a zeal inspired in part by the ravages of drug addiction he'd witnessed back home growing up in the Bronx.A dedicated posting to the resident office in Mexico City should have brought a bit of stability to his life after having spent the past few years working in an elite unit with special-forces training, bushwhacking coca fields in the high Andes of Bolivia, raiding drug labs in the lush mountain valleys of Peru, and chasing down a Colombian rival of Pablo Escobar whose brilliance earned him the nickname "the Chessmaster." A gun that once belonged to Amado Carrillo Fuentes is displayed in the Drugs Museum at the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense in Mexico City. Henry Romero/Reuters But when he arrived in Mexico City, he was soon stunned by the level to which drug traffickers were entangled with the state at every level, from local cops on up to judges, military officers, and members of the political and business elite. It was hard to know who to trust. He was getting death threats."The deception was more sophisticated in Mexico," he told me in an interview. "The level of deception was so embedded that even for people you thought were vetted, even them you could not trust. There was no such thing as safe partnership."Cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico on anti-drug policy was then and is now deeply fraught, riven with well-earned mutual distrust. But Fernandez and his fellow DEA agents had worked hard to build relationships with a few key members of Mexican anti-drug units, and it was starting to pay dividends. Through a contact in the Attorney General's office, or PGR, Fernandez and his partner had extensive access to sensitive information, and did their best to share intel with their counterparts. Fernandez and his partner were the lead case agents on investigations into some of Mexico's most notorious drug traffickers, and they routinely pulled 80-hour weeks, living and breathing their work, sleeping at the office. They were investigating a handful of different drug-trafficking networks, but one man stood above the rest: Amado Carrillo Fuentes. A photograph that includes this caption: "Mexico City, Mexico. Hospital Santa Monica, where ''drug lord'' Amado Carrillo Fuentes died whilst having plastic surgery to change his identity to help him evade police." Getty Images Most roads led to Amado in some way or another, or they led as close as the DEA could get anyway. Any time they thought they might be getting close, witnesses had a way of turning up dead, warning had a way of finding itself to their query, and Amado cruised along as always.As he played the delicate game of political maneuvering necessary to survive in the underworld of Mexican organized crime, Amado was building a business empire of global proportions.Even now, decades later, Fernandez still speaks of Amado with the grudging respect of a guy who knows the folly of underestimating one's enemies."It was a slap in the face to say that Amado was simply a drug trafficker," Fernandez told me. "His span was incredible. He touched Asia, he touched Europe, all parts of the world, and that's when you start to understand the vastness of his enterprise."With a query like that, no, Fernandez wasn't sleeping much.So when July 4, 1997 rolled around, Fernandez was looking forward to a bit of R&R, a chance to spend some time with his wife and shoot the shit with his colleagues and their families at the annual Independence Day bash at the ambassador's residence in Lomas de Chapultepec, a lavish neighborhood of rolling hills and the gated mansions of the Mexican elite.But work found him anyway, as it often did, in the form of a call from a high-ranking Mexican law-enforcement official. It was one of the men with whom he'd spent the past year building up a cautious but increasingly strong rapport. The ramifications of the news that came through the phone are still playing out today."We think Amado Carrillo Fuentes is dead," the official told him."All kinds of rumors are going to spring up"The details were sketchy, no one knew for sure what to believe, but Fernandez' source told him what he could: the Lord of the Skies had the day before slunk into a private clinic in Mexico City for some kind of operation, maybe liposuction, maybe plastic surgery, and had died on the operating table. Whether it was negligence or homicidal intent was unclear. ut word was, Amado was dead.Those words hit Fernandez like a thunderclap. After hanging up, he sidled over to his boss and his boss's boss, who were standing about chatting and soaking up the unique glory of a Mexico City summer day. Fernandez pulled the two more senior agents aside and told him what he had just heard.Before long, the news rippled out through the crowd and the DEA agents in attendance huddled up to figure out what do do next.In the middle of that scrum was Larry Villalobos, a DEA intelligence analyst who'd arrived in Mexico the year prior after a stint in El Paso building dossiers on the major drug traffickers operating in Mexico. He knew everybody. To this day, Villalobos has the uncanny ability to summon up the names of men long dead and recall the bit-part roles they played in the larger action. Mexican special forces police guard the morgue in Mexico City where the remains of Amado Carrillo Fuentes were held after his death. Reuters At the ambassador's residence the party continued. But for Fernandez, Villalobos, and the rest of the DEA crew in attendance that day, there was work to do. They had a window in which they could confirm that Amado was dead and that window was already closing rapidly, Villalobos recalled."We knew from working in Mexico that if you wait any goddamn longer than that all kinds of rumors are going to spring up," Villalobos told me.A fingerprint matchAs they hustled away from the ambassador's residence, Fernandez, Villalobos, and the other DEA agents knew that the first thing they had to do was find the body.According to the law-enforcement source Fernandez, by the time the DEA agents hightailed it away from their aborted Fourth of July party, the body was already on a plane en route to Sinaloa. But by the time it landed, a team of agents with the Attorney General's office were waiting.They seized the casket and immediately put it on a plane back to Mexico City. According to an Associated Press report a few days later, the agents had to forcibly part Amado's mother from the casket that she clearly believed held the remains of her son. Amado's mother, Aurora Fuentes (L), arrived at the morgue to collect the body of her son on July 10, 1997. Reuters Some of the field agents began to press all their sources for information. But for Villalobos, who had worked as a fingerprint technician with the FBI before joining the DEA, it all came down to the body. And suddenly, he recalled an astonishing fact: the U.S. was in possession of Amado's fingerprints, taken by Border Patrol agents in Presidio, Texas way back in 1985 and later unearthed from the files of the Immigration and Naturalization service.He got on the phone with his old intelligence office in El Paso, and had them overnight a set of the prints to Mexico City while a Mexican technician did his best to harvest a set from the corpse, which had long since gone stiff with rigor mortis. As the body decomposes after death, the quality of the available prints start to degrade, but after comparing the prints on file with those taken from the corpse, Villalobos was certain.His boss wanted to know how certain he was that this was, in fact, Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Ever precise, Villalobos clarified the issue."I didn't say that it was Amado. What I said was that the fingerprints that were taken from a young man who resembles the Amado that we all know, and was fingerprinted as an illegal alien 20 years ago, is the same person as this corpse," Villalobos recalled telling the senior DEA attache in Mexico City. Amado's sister, Alicia Carrillo Fuentes (L), and other family members mourn Amado's death at the home of his mother. Huge wreaths were delivered, including some by other alleged drug barons. Reuters "Whether it's Amado or not, that's a different matter, but it would have had to been some type of conspiracy over 20 years that some guy was gonna die and they were gonna substitute the body of the guy who was in Presidio, Texas 20 years ago."In other words, it was Amado.The positive ID on the fingerprints that Villalobos made came no more than 72 hours after Amado died in surgery, but already speculation was buzzing about the possible death of the kingpin of Juárez.While Villalobos had been doing his thing, other agents like Mauricio Fernandez had been working their sources and keeping in constant contact with trusted Mexican officials doing the same, and they were starting to get indications from the underworld that the big guy really was gone.Meanwhile, in Mexico City, a forensics expert from Mexico's Attorney General's office held a press conference where he presented the fingerprint evidence."It would have made for a wonderful story"After the confirmation from DEA, after the confirmation from the Mexican government, after the body was returned to Amado's family and buried in his hometown of Guamuchilito, Sinaloa, the myth of Amado's survival began to grow, and it has never really gone away. Even now, Fernandez said he understands why the myth of Amado has clung on for so long."There was a lot of folklore around Amado and who he was, and I think for a lot of people, they wanted to keep that thought alive," Fernandez said. "It would have made for a wonderful story, but the fact is that that wasn't the case. It just was not the case." Chilean authorities identified this home as one of the eleven houses that Amado Carrillo Fuentes bought in Santiago several months before his death. Reuters Regardless of where one stands on the fact that Amado Carrillo Fuentes died in July 1997, no one disputes the fact that his death was a turning point, one of the periodic tectonic shifts throughout the history of the war on drugs in Mexico. Amado's younger brother Vicente took the reins, but he didn't have it in him, and people didn't respect him the way they had Amado. The alliances that Amado held together soon started to fray, and that breakdown helped contribute to the staggering wave of violence that washed over Mexico a decade later and has yet to truly recede.This dynamic within Amado's network may have played a part in the myths that sprung up so soon after his death. With a weak leader like Vicente running the ship and its increasingly mutinous crew aground, the idea of a vengeful Amado out there, maybe coming back some day, might have been useful for keeping people in line, according to Jesús Esquivel, a veteran Mexican journalist who was one of the first reporters to break the news of Amado's death. Amado Carrillo Fuentes's home in the Alvaro Obregon municipality of Mexico City. It was raffled off by Mexico's National Lottery in September 2021. XAVIER MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images "Vicente was weak, and the local criminals knew, and they said 'this is our time,'" Esquivel told me. "So they were playing with Amado's shadow."Larry Villalobos, for his part, still hears the old conspiracy theories from time to time, occasionally from unlikely sources."I had an FBI agent come up to me less than 10 years ago and he says to me 'what if I told you Amado was still alive?'" Villalobos told Insider. "I was like 'get the fuck outta here, I don't wanna hear that shit. I saw the fingerprints, I made the identification, what are you talking about?"According to Villalobos, the FBI agent was insistent, telling him that a trusted source had recently claimed to have spotted Amado in his old stomping grounds of Ojinga, just over the border from Texas. Even better, the source claimed to know where exactly they could find him.Villalobos was not moved."I hope the FBI didn't pay too much for that tip," Villalobos said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 6th, 2021

33 cool tech gifts for teens, from Bluetooth speakers to gaming controllers

Teens love tech, so we've rounded up the best gadget gifts out there. From smart speakers to bike helmets and cameras, there's something for everyone. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Amazon; Best Buy; Gilbert Espinoza/Business Insider We rounded up the best tech gifts for teens with something for every budget. From headphones to cameras, we have gift ideas for all interests. Shopping for someone else? Check out our best tech gifts for women and our best picks under $25. Finding exciting gifts for a teenager can be difficult as they develop their own style, but new technology can encourage them to build new skills or just make their life easier as they continue to grow.Whether the teen on your shopping list is into video games, photography, music, or fitness, there's a tech gift on this list for everyone. Our tech gift recommendations also cover a variety of budgets, with some picks costing less than $15. A subscription service with access to thousands of digital comic books Marvel Marvel Unlimited, $10 a month or $70 a yearComixology Unlimited, $6 a monthIf your teen is a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or superheroes in general, you can give them access to thousands of comic books with a subscription to Marvel Unlimited. The digital service offers more than 29,000 comics, spanning from the classic origin stories of characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men, to recent comic book events like "Venom: King in Black." You can access Marvel Unlimited on iPhone, Android, iPad, and your web browser, and download books for offline viewing. If your teen is a more adventurous reader, you can get them a subscription to Comixology Unlimited, an Amazon owned comic reading service that features a wider range of content, including DC Comics like "Batman" and Image Comics like "The Walking Dead." Comixology Unlimited costs $6 a month making it cheaper than Marvel Unlimited, but it offers fewer complete series. Comixology Unlimited subscribers also receive up to 15% off Marvel, DC, Image, and Dark Horse comic book purchases, making it easier to build a personal collection. A customized gaming controller This is just a small selection of the colors available in the Xbox Design Lab. Microsoft Xbox design Lab Custom Controller, available at Microsoft, $69.99Microsoft's Xbox controller has a classic design and is compatible with a wide range of devices, including iPhone, iPad, Android products, Mac, and PC. But people might not be aware of Microsoft's Xbox Design Lab, which lets you customize the colors on every part of the controller and add a laser engraving. The custom controller will arrive within 28 days, usually taking about two weeks.If you're worried about choosing a design for your teen, you can give them an $80 Xbox gift card and let them choose between a custom design, or just buying a new game with the store credit. A webcam perfect for streaming your own videos Logitech Logitech c920x, available at Amazon, $60This webcam is one of the most recommended for people getting started with YouTube videos or Twitch livestreams, and it's become even more popular with professionals working from home.While lots of laptops come with built-in cameras, the Logitech c920 offers better video quality with resolutions up to 1080p, a wide viewing angle, streaming at 60 frames per second at 720p, and an adjustable base that can be easily attached to tripods and other stands. A streaming subscription for music lovers An Android smartphone with the Spotify Music logo visible on screen, alongside a pair of earphones. Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images Spotify Premium Subscription, available at Spotify, $9.99 a monthTeens love listening to music, and streaming services offer unlimited access to their favorite tunes. Spotify offers a huge music library and is compatible with Apple, Android, and Windows devices.  The premium subscription gets rid of ads, allows  your teen  to download songs for offline listening, and lets them skip songs as they please. Plans start at $10 per month and are a great way to satisfy the music lover in your family. Wireless earbuds that easily pair with an iPhone Crystal Cox/Business Insider Apple AirPods Pro,  available at Amazon, $190Apple's AirPods Pro offer a great way for your teen to listen to music, take calls, and tune out the world. These true wireless earbuds feature seamless pairing with Apple devices, active noise cancellation, and a transparency mode so they can still hear you when you remind them to do their homework. They come with three sizes of removable eartips for a perfect fit, and boast up to 24 hours of listening time with multiple charges in the included wireless charging case. A subscription that's like Netflix for video games Microsoft Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, $37.99 for 3 months Playstation Plus Subscription, $24.99 for 3 monthsWhy buy just one game when you can get dozens? That's the premise behind Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Microsoft's Netflix-style subscription gaming service.  Microsoft offers over 100 games, including blockbusters like "Grand Theft Auto V," "Destiny 2," and "FIFA 21" among many others.  Game Pass Ultimate isn't cheap – it costs around $40 for three months – but offers a tremendous value considering that one new game costs $60. For Playstation fans there's Playstation Plus, which is cheaper than Microsoft's service at $25 for three months, but offers far fewer games. Subscribers get access to a handful of titles each month that they can download and keep as long as they remain a member of the service.The service also comes with other perks like online gameplay and discounts. Which subscription you should get depends on the console your teen owns, but they'll appreciate either one. A gaming headset with audiophile-level sound Amazon SteelSeries Arctis Pro, available at Amazon, from $149.84If you're going to get your PC gamer a gaming headset, you might as well invest in one that produces audiophile-level sound. That way, they can listen to music and watch movies without having to switch to a different pair of headphones.The SteelSeries Arctis Pro is a good choice for gamers who care about top-notch audio, as it comes with several input options, virtual surround sound, and a bass that can be pushed. Plus, teens will love the fact that they can customize its look with SteelSeries' range of headbands and ear cups.If you're willing to splurge, the $329.99 wireless version makes it easier for your teen to seamlessly transition between playing games on their PC and taking a call on their phone. An Instax printer to print all those selfies on Amazon Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Smartphone Printer, available at Best Buy, $99.99Instant cameras are so yesterday! With most teens relying on their camera phones to take photos, a mobile photo printer that lets them print all those friend selfies saved on their phone on 1.81 x 2.44 Instax film is just what the fun doctor ordered. Pair that with the photo clip fairy string lights as a stocking stuffer, and you might just inspire your teen to decorate and declutter their room to make it visitor-friendly. A unique electronic musical instrument that's big in Japan Amazon Otamatone Deluxe Electronic Musical Instrument, available at Amazon, $79.99Music is one of the biggest outlets teens turn to channel their creativity and angst, and this musical synthesizer lets your budding musician create music in a fun and quirky way. Pressing the middle part of the Otamatone and sliding your fingers up and down it will produce higher and lower tones while opening and closing its mouth creates a "wah" sound. It can even connect to speakers, amps, and (preferably to the rest of your household) headphones.  A 3D pen with plastic refills in 15 different colors Facebook 3Doodler Create + 3D Printing Pen, available at Amazon, $79.99Today's 3D printers may be pricey, but that doesn't mean that your artistic teen can't enjoy and master the art. With this 3D pen, they can even do so in a more analog way, stirring their creativity and allowing them to appreciate the value of working with one's hands. Plug this pen into a wall outlet, load up the plastic color, and once the pen heats the plastic, your teen is ready to create. It comes with an app with interactive step-by-step instructions on custom art projects. A smartwatch that tracks activity and fitness goals Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider Apple Watch SE, available at Amazon, $279.00Your athletic or health-conscious teen will definitely appreciate the Apple Watch SE. This smartwatch can do most of the things Apple's flagship smartwatch can, while keeping things more affordable. It's still on the pricey side, but it's worth it to keep teens on the healthy, active path. As for the fun factor, your teen can customize it with different faces, bands and memojis, as well as use it to play music and stay in touch with friends via iMessage, social media apps, and phone capabilities. Bluetooth trackers that keep your teen from losing their, well, everything Tile Tile Limited Edition Bluetooth trackers, available at Tile, starting at $23.99You want to be able to entrust them with important things, from necessities like house and car keys to devices that cost money like laptops. But, let's face it: teenagers are basically bigger versions of kids, and they still tend to lose their stuff. This is why Tile's Bluetooth trackers are super handy. Attach one to their keys or wallet, connect it with their phone, and that's one last question you'll have to field. With their range of Limited Edition trackers that come in several fun designs, they'll be proud to show these off to friends.If your teen owns an iPhone, you can also consider purchasing AirTags, Apple's official tracking device that works with the Find My app. They're a bit more expensive than Tile trackers at $29 each, but offer more features for iPhone users. They also come with a free engraving for personalization. A handheld gaming system with multiplayer capabilities Nintendo Nintendo Switch Lite, available at Best Buy, $199.00If you're on a limited budget (times have been tough, after all) but want to reward your teen with a handheld gaming console, you cannot go wrong with a Nintendo Switch Lite. This pocket-friendly device may not be able to connect to the TV, but it's got a few advantages over the standard Switch beyond the price. It plays all but a few of the same games while being more portable. And, for color-loving teens, it comes in three fun shades plus gray. A PC gaming controller with wireless connectivity Amazon Logitech Gamepad F310, available at Target, $14.99This is a must-have for any teen who enjoys PC and console gaming. With the Logitech Gamepad F310, they can play their favorite Steam and other PC games from the comfort of a couch without the need for a mouse or keyboard — partly thanks to the 6-foot long cable. This will give them better control and a more seamless gaming experience during long sessions as well. If your teen hasn't experienced PC gaming from the couch, this will be a game-changer. A mini projector with a built-in speaker system Amazon Elephas Mini Movie Projector, available at Amazon, $79.99Kids today are moving away from classic television and toward the versatility and convenience of projectors. The Elephas Mini Movie Projector turns any wall into a TV or computer monitor. This allows your teen to watch movies, sports, video games, and more just about anywhere, including their room for their much-needed privacy. Help them create a comfy floor setup with pillows and blankets, and it's a fun slumber party with friends. Also, Elephas offers a lifetime warranty. Affordable wireless earbuds Amazon JLab Audio JBuds Air, available at Amazon, $24.49These true wireless earbuds don't boast the same feature set as Apple's AirPods but they do have Bluetooth 5.0, quality sound, a microphone for calls, and basic water resistance. The battery lasts for six hours, and the case holds an additional 18 hours of charge, giving them comparable battery life to AirPods. A drone with high-quality video capabilities Amazon DJI Mini SE, available at Amazon, $299Whether you've got a future influencer or a budding content creator in the family, you've got an ace gift in this mini drone from DJI. This is an impressive drone for the price point, with a battery life of 30 minutes and a camera touting great stabilization and 2.7K Quad HD video capability. This drone even has automatic motion presets and a smooth motion mode, allowing beginner videographers such as your teen to utilize pro-level shooting techniques effortlessly. Just remember to teach them proper drone etiquette before they let their new toy fly. Winter gloves with touchscreen-capable fingertips Amazon Achiou Winter Knit Gloves, available at Amazon, from $7.99Teens aren't going to stop using their phones just because it's freezing outside. They need to stay in touch, and a lot of the time, they'll take off their gloves so they can rub and tap on a touchscreen. With these gloves, they can protect their digits while catching up on social media. And, at this price, you might want to buy a few pairs – and in different colors, if you want – for when they inevitably lose them. A build-your-own computer kit for beginners Amazon CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 Starter MAX Kit, available at Amazon, $124.99If your teen likes to take things apart and put them back together again, this is the perfect gift. Raspberry Pi has taught basic computer science in developing countries and schools since 2012, and Pi 4 is the latest version. The kit comes with an easy-to-follow quick start guide. The computer doesn't come with accessories, such as a monitor, mouse, keyboard, or cooling fan so you may want to pick those components up as well. A portable Bluetooth speaker with a hardshell carrying case Amazon JBL Flip 5 Portable Speaker, available at Amazon, $129.99Teens love blasting music away, and this speaker from JBL will let them do so wherever they are — including at the beach or even while floating in the pool. To keep things portable, it boasts up to 12 hours of playtime and comes with a gSport Deluxe Hardshell Case. Best of all, it features IPX7 waterproof protection so it can go in up to three feet of water. With this, they'll have something to look forward to next summer. A power bank with enough juice to charge a phone 2 times Amazon Anker Portable Charger, available at Amazon, $22 It's not surprising for a teen to spend all day and night draining their phone's battery, but if their phone is frequently dying while they're out, consider buying them a portable charger to provide some extra juice on the go. Anker's PowerCore Slim portable charger holds more than two full charges for the latest iPhone, and should work with any USB device. If you're willing to spend a bit more, you can buy a portable battery with wireless charging, to eliminate the need for cords. A handheld gimbal for shooting cinematic videos with friends Amazon Zhiyun Smooth 4 Handheld Smartphone Gimbal, available at Amazon, $99.00Whether it's for shooting TikTok content to making full-fledged YouTube videos, a handheld gimbal will let your teen produce better, smoother-looking content. But, while many options out there will set you back more than $100, this gimbal from Zhiyun costs less, which makes it the perfect gift for teens. And, while most teens seem to be naturally tech savvy, this one is especially effortless to figure out, complete with different shooting modes and pro-level shooting techniques turned automated. A beanie with headphones that pair with their phone Amazon SoundBot SB210 Bluetooth Smart Beanie Headset, available on Amazon, $17.99We all agree – beanies are some of the comfiest accessories out there. But, this nifty one from SoundBot takes it to a new level, with built-in speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, and up to five hours of music listening. Now, your teen can stay warm and listen to music at the same time, without having to wear or carry two things at once. Best yet, it comes in several different colors, some even with poms, so you can get it in their favorite color or design. A smart light strip that changes colors Philips Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance LightStrip Plus, available at Philips-Hue, $79.99Fairy or string lights are among the top accessories teens love to decorate their rooms with, and Hue's light strip takes that to a new level with its smart light capabilities, ability to display 16 million colors, and Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility. It's terrific for sprucing up every teen's room, whether they're gamers, Bohemians, nature-lovers, or those with an eclectic taste. They can even change the colors depending on their mood, what they're into, or what they're currently doing. A subscription to the best audiobook service Amazon Audible Subscription, available at Amazon, $15 a monthGive teens the gift of knowledge with this audiobook subscription. This gives them an audiobook and two Audible originals each month. They will also get 30% off any other audiobooks they choose to buy, which they will own even after their subscription expires. This is an excellent solution for students who learn better by listening than reading. An alarm clock that doubles as a Bluetooth speaker Amazon Anker Soundcore Wakey Bluetooth Speakers with Alarm Clock, available at Amazon, $89.99This alarm clock is packed full of features. It pairs with your teen's phone via Bluetooth and plays audio from any of the apps, as well as FM radio or any combination of the 10 sleep-inducing ambient sounds. There are 10 different alarm sounds, and it wirelessly charges Qi-compatible devices as well. A Bluetooth speaker that teens can use in the shower Amazon iFox iF012 Bluetooth Shower Speaker, available at Amazon, $34.90Teens need to have their music everywhere at all times – that's right, even in the shower. Sure, the JBL Flip 5 mentioned above will work in the shower. For a quarter of the price, however, you can get your teen a dedicated shower speaker, one with a 33-foot range and up to 10 hours of battery life. iFox backs this with a 12-month, no-risk, money-back guarantee. What have you got to lose? A microphone that plugs into a USB port Amazon Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone, available at Amazon, $40We bet you haven't considered giving your teen a microphone before. It is a bit of an unconventional holiday gift, but one that teens will love whether they have their own Twitch or YouTube channel, or produce their own podcast. It's an outstanding plug-and-play microphone solution that delivers crystal clear audio to your recordings, all while looking cool and retro. An action camera that will record their adventures Les Shu/Insider GoPro Hero 10 Black, available at B&H, $450Teens, especially active and adventurous ones, are always up to something new and exciting, whether it's taking an electric skateboard out for a spin or taking on the latest TikTok trends. And, a GoPro action camera will let them record those exploits with friends hands-free. This latest one is obviously the best with 5.3K Ultra HD recording, 23MP still images, and improved HyperSmooth stabilization. A bike helmet with built-in turn signals Amazon Lumos Smart Bike Helmet, available at Amazon, from $199.95This is the perfect helmet for a bike and, most importantly, to protect your teen's head. The helmet pairs with the Lumos app as well as the wireless handlebar remote so you can let drivers know when you're turning. Finally, it has auto brake lights. All these features help keep teens even safer while they're out on the streets. A smart speaker that helps keep them organized Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen), available at Amazon, $34.99 With the help of Alexa, this mini smart speaker is capable of doing a host of things, from playing your teen's favorite tunes on Spotify or Amazon Music to controlling other smart devices and setting reminders and schedules hands-free. It'll even tell jokes and play trivia games. Teens have a lot going on in their lives, and this gadget is among the best tools they can use to stay organized. A smart outlet plug with support for voice control Amazon Gosund Multi Wi-Fi Smart Outlet, available on Walmart, $18.99Today's smart plugs are like the Clapper on steroids. Teens can control their lights, fans, and more from anywhere with the free app that works on both iOS and Android devices – or with an Amazon Echo device. This is another one that parents will also like since it might make a dent on the steep electricity bill. A laptop with great durability and battery life Apple Apple MacBook Air with Apple M1 Chip, available at Amazon, $899.00If you're looking to splurge on your kid, then the latest MacBook Air will go a long way. This thin and light 13-inch comes with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage, as well as Apple's M1 chip, should get them through daily homework, projects and papers, while letting them play games and enjoy some streaming post-school work. And, since Apple's laptops are practically built like a tank, you'll have the peace of mind that it'll survive some beatings. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 5th, 2021

The 21 best horror books to read for Halloween, from Stephen King classics to psychological thrillers

Whether you want another creepy Stephen King book or a scary, psychological horror novel, these horror books are perfect for Halloween. These are some of the best horror books to read for Halloween. Amazon; Alyssa Powell/Insider Horror fiction scares its readers, using anything from psychological thrills to creepy imagery. The horror books in this list range from Stephen King classics to modern murder mysteries. Some classic horror books include "It," "Bird Box," "The Exorcist," "Dracula," and "The Shining." Great novels can introduce us to so many amazing things: Passionate romances, unforgettable plot twists, or fantastical beasts that feel vibrantly real within our imaginations. And for those readers who find mini-adrenaline rushes and skin-crawling scenes irresistible, carefully crafted horror books can delightfully keep us up at night, chill us to the bone, and frighten us beyond our nightmares. Whether you've already blown through most of Stephen King's books or are just dipping your toe into the genre, the books on this list are sure to have you leaving the lights on until you're done - making them a perfect way to celebrate Halloween all month long.The 21 best horror books to read in 2021: A Stephen King staple Amazon "It" by Stephen KingThis well-known horror book is about seven adults returning to their hometown to face an evil they first discovered as teenagers: An unnamed, shape-shifting terror they call "It." If you read other Stephen King novels, the town of Derry, Maine appears again and again but it all began with "It." "It" is also a monster of a book — its many, many pages build to a must-read, terrifying masterpiece.Fear factor:  A sadistic, killer clown. A thrill-packed serial killer novel Amazon "Stillhouse Lake" by Rachel CaineGina was completely normal — an average housewife with a husband and two kids. But when a car accident revealed her husband's secret life as a serial killer, she moved with her children to a home on a lake, far away from her husband's secrets and the stalkers who think she was part of it all. But when a body appears in the lake and threatening letters start to arrive, Gina — now a prime suspect — must protect herself and her kids from a killer who's tormenting her family. This is a horror story full of grotesque depictions and racing thrills that'll have you tearing through the pages.Fear factor: The rapid twists and cliffhangers. A highly praised haunted house book Amazon "Hell House" by Richard MathesonStephen King called this book "the scariest haunted house novel ever written," so you know it's terrifying. Rolf Rudolph Deutsch is about to die, so he offers to pay a physicist and two mediums $100,000 each to find out what happens after death. The three of them travel to the Belasco house — more commonly referred to as the "Hell House" — for one night to learn how it earned its nickname. Fear factor: The abandoned house full of horrifying secrets. A horrifying dystopian world Amazon "Tender Is the Flesh" by Agustina BazterricaMost accurately described as "skin-crawling," this book centers on Marcos, who keeps his eyes on his work and away from the pain in his life. He works at the local processing plant, slaughtering humans — though, no one calls them that anymore. Since the government initiated "the Transition" after a sweeping virus made animal meat poisonous to humans, eating human meat — "special meat" — is legal, and having personal contact with the specimens is punishable by death. This book is alarming, a little deranged, and lives up to its horrifying title.Fear factor:  Legal, widespread cannibalism. A disturbing, double-timeline tale Amazon "The Sun Down Motel" by Simone St. JamesIf you want to feel the rush of knowing something terrible is coming, this paranormal horror story is for you. In 1982, Carly's Aunt Viv took a job at the Sun Down Motel, trying to save enough money to move to New York City. Now, Carly's working the front desk to discover what mysteries could have led to her aunt's disappearance. The entire book is suspenseful and mysterious but the horror scenes are next-level. I had to rush to finish this one before it got dark. Fear factor: The demonic hauntings that lay just out of sight. A twisted murder story Amazon "The Chestnut Man" by Soren SveistrupThis description sounds like a thriller, but the terror in these pages absolutely lands this book into the horror category. The Chestnut Man is a serial killer who leaves a handmade doll made of matchsticks and chestnuts at every crime scene. When a forensic team discovers a bloody fingerprint belonging to a government official's daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago, the detectives must follow the murderer's twisted clues before someone else ends up dead. This book is dark and unnerving, and you will likely find yourself unwilling to turn the next page, fearing what lies ahead. Fear factor: An absolutely terrifying killer. A supernatural, Christmas-themed horror story Amazon "NOS4A2" by Joe HillYou'll get chills just from reading the description of this book — and the story itself is even wilder than the summary lets on. Victoria, a young girl with a talent for finding things, stumbles upon a bridge that can take her anywhere. She runs into Charlie Manx, who lures kids into a car that transports them to a horrifying playground called Christmasland. Victoria is the only child to ever escape Christmasland. Years later, Charlie hasn't forgotten about her — and is ready to take his revenge.Fear factor: Darkened versions of all your favorite Christmas tropes. The terrifying tale of an unraveling world Amazon "Bird Box" by Josh MalermanIn a world created by Josh Malerman, there's something out there that, once seen, drives a person to deadly violence. Malorie is one of only a handful of survivors left after the mysterious thing took over the world. She needs to flee with her children, relying on their wit and hearing to stay alive. This is a horror story that will have you closing your curtains and hiding in your house until you get to the end. Fear factor: Frightening creatures that feel so close, yet just out of reach. The first Hannibal Lecter book Amazon "Red Dragon" by Thomas HarrisYou may be more familiar with the second book in the Hannibal Lecter series "The Silence of the Lambs," but if you're looking to read the whole story, you should start here. When a serial killer attacks families, the FBI turns to William Graham, one of the greatest profilers, who retired after the horrors he witnessed in capturing Hannibal Lecter. To solve this case, William finds he must turn to Lector for help. The violent point of view of the antagonist brings on the horror in full force — while demonstrating that the "good guy" isn't always the hero. Fear factor: The prequel to one of the most iconic horror characters. A mind-bending thrill ride Amazon "Lock Every Door" by Riley SagerRiley Sager has written four suspenseful novels, each one balanced between thriller, mystery, and horror, but this one leans the most towards "horror" of the bunch. Jules' new job as an apartment sitter in one of Manhattan's most private and mysterious buildings comes with three rules: No visitors, no nights away from the apartment, and no disturbing the other residents. But the building is not what it seems to be — a dark history is rising within, summoning a race to find the truth before someone else goes missing. It's super suspenseful, and I found it best to force myself through the fear to the end so the secrets would stop haunting me.Fear factor: Severely limited time to solve the mysteries. A Bigfoot horror story Amazon "Devolution" by Max BrooksAs the dust from Mount Rainier's eruption settles, Kate Holland's harrowing journals are found, revealing an account of the unnoticed Greenloop massacre and the legendary beasts behind it. From the author of "World War Z," this ominous horror story is action-packed, mind-bending, and utterly chaotic.Fear factor: The horrible beasts beyond our imagination. A classic, paranormal horror book Amazon "The Exorcist" by William Peter BlattyAdapted into one of the scariest films of all time, "The Exorcist" is about a mother and two priests who fight to free the soul of a young girl controlled by an evil and violent spirit. The deeper details of this novel are what make already scary scenes even scarier. Even if you've already seen the movie, the story has even more frightening information that heightens the fear.Fear factor:  The paranormal, unyielding elements. A famous and highly quotable horror story Amazon "The Shining" by Stephen KingJack Torrance is looking for a fresh start with his new job at the Overlook Hotel, where he can reconnect with his family and work on his writing in his free time. As winter sets in, Jack's days at the hotel get stranger and stranger, and the only one who notices is Danny, Jack's unique five-year-old son. Full of fleshed-out characters, this slower-paced book doesn't drag — it only builds up the fear to an unforgettable conclusion.Fear factor: The slow progression to madness. The original vampire book Amazon "Dracula" by Bram StokerWe all know the famous "Dracula" persona — the one we mimic every Halloween with plastic fangs and upturned coat collars. But it doesn't really capture the 1897 classic gothic horror story, which depicts Dracula's move to England as he attempts to find new blood, spreading his undead curse along the way. The story is far more horrifying and twisted than you might anticipate, and will definitely change how you view the more heroic portrayals of modern-day vampires. Fear factor: The relentless bloodlust. A Southern-set vampire story Goodreads "The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires" by Grady HendrixSet in 1990s Charleston, this novel is centered around a book club and the strange happenings around a newcomer who was brought into the club after one of the members was horribly attacked on her way home. This book has all of the southern charm, '90s nostalgia, and savagery that you might expect from the title alone. Fear factor: The realistic setting that makes the horrors hit too close to home. A twisted, psychological horror Amazon "The Other" by Thomas TryonThis novel is hailed for Tryon's amazing writing style, one that transcends the horror genre and makes this story worth so much more than its creepy scenes. Holland and Niles are twins, close enough to nearly read each other's thoughts but entirely different in personality. Their family is gathered for the summer to mourn their father's passing. With the boys' mother still locked in her room, Holland's pranks are growing more and more sinister and Niles isn't sure how much longer he can make excuses for his brother. Fear factor: The irresistible "evil twin" plotline. A waking nightmare of a story Amazon "Imaginary Friend" by Stephen ChboskyBest read with the lights on, "Imaginary Friend" is a haunting story where a young boy named Christopher goes missing in the town to which he and his mother just fled. Six days later, Christopher emerges from the woods with a voice in his head telling him to do one thing: Build a treehouse in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same. Fear factor: The poetic writing ramping up the horror. A multidimensional horror novel Amazon "The Hollow Places" by T. Kingfisher"The Hollow Places" is initially misleading. It starts off cute and funny, but quickly devolves into a terrifying novel with scenes so vibrantly written, they'll be sure to haunt readers long after they close the book. Kara finds a hole in the wall of her uncle's house that leads to a series of alternate realities, riddled with unsettling creatures that feed on fear. The world-building in this book is remarkable — Kingfisher creates something we couldn't previously fathom and yet something we so easily fear.Fear factor: The expert world-building that brings all the creepy fantasies to life. A vengeful, terrifying book Amazon "The Only Good Indians" by Stephen Graham JonesThis follows four Indigenous men who are being tracked and haunted by an entity that lingers from a crime committed a decade prior. It's a horror story of revenge and identity as the men find they can't outrun the culture they left behind. This eerie story will continually shock you, yet ends so perfectly, you'll almost forgive the brutal scenes you endured to reach the end. Fear factor: The sentimental hope accompanied by chilling revenge. A 1967 classic paranormal horror story Amazon "Rosemary's Baby" by Ira LevinIn this classic horror story, Rosemary and Guy are a young couple settling into their New York apartment where it seems the neighbors are taking too keen of an interest in them, especially once Rosemary gets pregnant. The suspense in this novel is palpable, a waking nightmare that walks a thin line between unbelievable and yet completely real. This book is unnerving and sinister, one of the original horror novels that helped popularize the genre. Fear factor:  The increasingly ominous foreshadowing. A suspenseful horror story with a slow burn Amazon "The Burning Girls" by C. J. TudorReverend Jack Brooks arrives at Chapel Croft looking for a fresh start, yet is welcomed with an exorcism kit and a warning. Horrible things have happened at the church — protestant martyrs were burned centuries back, two teenage girls disappeared 30 years ago, and just a week prior, the vicar hung himself. This is a deeply woven and haunting ghost story, with strange and deadly mysteries throughout. Fear factor: The multiple narratives and shocking twists. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 11th, 2021

The 5 best electric scooters of 2021

Electric scooters provide a reliable form of transportation no matter if you're commuting to work or running errands. Here are the best we've tested. Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky Electric scooters are a convenient and fun way to commute to work or run errands around town. The best electric scooters should have a reliably long battery range and travel at speeds of up to 20-plus mph. Our top pick, the Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES4, has a dual-battery design that gets up to 28 miles of range. Electric scooters have gone from curious novelties to a bonafide form of transportation thanks to advancements in tech and the rise of e-scooter rental services like Lime and Bird.And I can't overlook the fact they're just plain fun to ride.But more people have also discovered that owning their own is incredibly convenient - I know I have. Whether it's a quick jaunt to the store, a ride to a friend's house, or just commuting from a distant parking lot to the office, there are numerous times when having an e-scooter has proved incredibly handy for me. If you've been considering buying an electric scooter of your own, I highly recommend it. But the most important question to ask yourself before buying is what you plan to use it for - after that, there are plenty of models that stand out from the crowd. To help, I've compiled the following guide of the best electric scooters I've tested, perfect for a variety of people and use cases.I've also included some insight into how to shop for an electric scooter, as well as how I tested each of the scooters featured in this guide. Here are the best electric scooters of 2021:Best overall: Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES4Best on a budget: Gotrax XR UltraBest for commuters: Xiamoi Mi M365 Best for performance: Outstorm Maxx Ultra High-SpeedBest for kids: Razor E100 How I test electric scooters Each of the electric scooters in this guide went through a series of tests to determine how well they compared against these four categories: Range, portability, versatility, and value. Here's how I specifically considered each category while testing:Range: Most electric scooters are defined by the range they're capable of delivering, and this is the top factor to consider. To test this, we compared the on-paper range to how it fared in real-world tests. Where range begins to take a hit on almost every model is when you start riding uphill or traveling at its top speed for extended periods of time (and we've noted in the review of each model where this was the most significant).Portability: Being able to easily transport a scooter is a vital consideration for anyone living in an apartment building or someone who plans on commuting part of the way on a scooter. Portability means not just how much it weighs but whether it folds up and is easy to carry. Versatility: Versatility also means that a scooter can handle a wide range of uses, from fun rides to commuting to running errands. Judging a scooter's versatility meant seeing if it was capable of operating outside of its typical use case (within a set of safe parameters, of course).Value: Value is a combination of the three categories above and how it relates to what it actually costs. This can often mean that it's better to spend a little more on a quality scooter designed to last and function properly, as opposed to spending less on something you'll need to replace more often.  The best electric scooter overall Segway For excellent all-around performance, including good range and speed, the Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES4 is a great option for riders looking for a versatile, easy-to-use model.Pros: Up to 28 miles of range on a single charge, features a dual-battery design, large wheels allow for very minimal offroad travel, speeds up to 18 mphCons: Long battery recharge timeThe Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES4 has been on the market for several years and yet, it remains one of the top all-around models. Not only does it offer a solid and accurate range of 28 miles on a single charge, it can also hit top speeds in excess of 18 mph.That level of performance is due in part to its dual-battery design. Equipped with both a built-in and removable power cell, the ES4 provides good versatility when it comes to staying charged, too. The ES4's solid 8-inch wheels allow it to roll over large obstacles and provide a smooth ride on a variety of surfaces. Front and rear shock absorbers increase the level of comfort and help smooth out your commute. That's especially important when zipping along at top speed, which tends to amplify every bump in the road. Fortunately, the ES4 offers a relaxing and fun ride across a variety of terrain.Other nice features include a front-facing LED light, as well as user-customizable lights on the side and undercarriage to aid in visibility in lowlight conditions. A small, but easy to read, LCD screen displays current speeds and the battery's charge level, while electric and mechanical braking systems allow for a good sense of control. This model even folds down nicely for easy transport and comes with IPX54 water resistance for use in poor weather conditions. Because the ES4 uses two batteries to keep it running at such a high level, it takes a little longer than some other models in this guide to recharge. It can take more than six hours to power this scooter up to its full capacity, which can require a bit of planning depending on your needs. The ES4 can function as a traditional kick scooter in a pinch, though. Although there are other options that cost less, few of them offer the same level of performance and convenience in such a well-designed package as the ES4. The best budget electric scooter Amazon The budget-friendly Gotrax XR Ultra electric scooter provides good speed and range, along with more than few unexpected features, without putting a major dent in your wallet. Pros: Inexpensive, weighs 27 pounds, sturdy tires, has both disc and electric brakesCons: Limited featuresWhile the top end of the electric scooter market continues to push the envelope in terms of speed, range, and portability, many of those models remain too expensive for the general consumer. As with most products, however, the technology eventually trickles down to price points that are more palatable to the general public, delivering a lot of bang for the buck in the process. Such is the case with the Gotrax XR, a budget e-scooter that offers a level of performance that will meet most people's needs, without making them feel buyer's remorse afterward. The XR Ultra's top speed of 15.5 mph and a max range of 17 miles seems unimpressive when compared to other–more expensive—competitors. But its sub-$400 price tag makes this model a much more approachable option for those looking to dip their toe in the e-scooter waters. Put in other terms, this is the Toyota Camry of electric scooters. It is affordable, reliable, and offers good performance–just don't compare it to a Mercedes S Class. One of the best elements of the XR Ultra is its very smooth and comfortable ride. This scooter glides along at a steady pace, its 8.5-inch inflatable tires rolling over most obstacles with ease. The XR's folding frame and 27-pound weight should make it a favorite amongst budget-conscious commuters as well. In an effort to keep costs down, Gotrax didn't including any kind of suspension, however, which means this model performs best on smooth, paved surfaces. That isn't to say that the XR Ultra doesn't have a good feature set. The scooter comes with both a disc and electric braking systems with regenerative properties. It also includes a bright LED headlight and an LCD screen that displays speed, distance, battery life, and a number of other items. An integrated kickstand is a nice touch, as is the IP54 water resistance rating too. While I think the Gotrax XR Ultra is the best budget e-scooter on the market, it should be noted that there are plenty of other models that are available at a lower price. With those other options, you'll more than likely find yourself having to make compromises in terms of speed, range, and weight in order to save a little cash. The XR Ultra doesn't have any of those glaring compromises, bridging the gap between a truly budget scooter and the more expensive higher-end quite nicely. The best electric scooter for commuters Amazon Lightweight and capable of folding down to a surprisingly small size, the Xiaomi Mi M365 is an electric scooter built specifically with commuters in mind. Pros: Folds down for easy portability, weighs 27 pounds, comes standard with front and rear taillightsCons: Only rated to carry riders up to 220 poundsWhen selecting an e-scooter for use as a daily commuter, I want something that's lightweight and easy to carry around, without compromising on performance. That's exactly what I found in the Xiaomi Mi M365, which manages to provide 18.6 miles of range and a top speed of 15.5 mph while tipping the scales at a shade over 27 pounds. Add in a small battery charger and the ability to fold down to a smaller size and the M365 is easy to recommend to anyone who places an emphasis on portability. And don't let that lightweight fool you, it still has plenty of features packed into its design. For instance, it comes with front and rear lights, wide shock-absorbing tires, and an LED indicator for battery life. It also has a regenerative braking system that feeds power back into the battery, as well as a companion app for customizing settings and tracking distance, speed, and other metrics.This scooter even has a power-saving mode that helps extend the range by limiting the rate of acceleration and its top speed. Turning that mode on also makes the M365 more accommodating to beginners. It's clear Xiaomi put a lot of thought into making the M365 easy to use. This is especially evident in its folding mechanism, which allows it to shrink down to a more compact size in under three seconds. I appreciate that simplicity when entering and exiting trains, climbing stairs, riding elevators, or even taking the M365 in and out of a car trunk. While folding e-scooters are hardly a rarity, the speed and fluidity at which this one operates is a great feature.In order to achieve the M365's relatively low weight, Xiaomi used a minimalist design and a lightweight aluminum frame. Because of this, the scooter is only rated to carry riders weighing up to 220 pounds. The frame itself is plenty durable and can certainly support someone who exceeds that weight limit, but a heavier passenger cuts into performance, reducing both its range and speed.Weight limit aside, the Xiaomi Mi M365 is in a class by itself when used as a daily commuter. Lightweight and easy to carry, it offers a good blend of range and speed and delivers a smooth ride. The best electric scooter for performance Amazon If you're in the market for a fast scooter with long-range, the Outstorm Maxx Ultra-High-Speed is exactly what you're looking for. Pros: Up to 52 miles of range and speeds to 56 mph, maximum weight capacity of 485 pounds, can ride on gravel, dirt trails, and in sandCons: Extremely heavy at 100 poundsWhen moving up to the performance level of the e-scooter market, prices can increase substantially. While the models found at the top end of the scale are indeed fast and powerful, they can also cost several thousands of dollars. The Outstorm Maxx Ultra-High-Speed flirts with a $2000 price tag but ultimately delivers a lot of bang for the buck, striking an intriguing middle ground when it comes to performance and cost. So, what exactly does a performance scooter at this price point have to offer? In the case of the Maxx, it provides a top speed of 56 mph and a range of up to 52 miles. This is achieved thanks to its dual motors, which can produce as much as 3200 watts of power at their highest level of output. It also allows the scooter to carry a maximum weight of 485 pounds and ride not only on paved surfaces but also on dirt trails, gravel, and sand. The Maxx does well on hills too, powering up steep inclines without missing a beat. This scooter features three different speed modes and two power modes, which made it easy to find a good balance between speed and range. A digital readout prominently displays how fast the scooter is currently moving and shows battery life and distance traveled. A regenerative braking system helps feed energy back into the battery throughout the ride, while a bright LED headlight makes riding at night much safer as well. The Maxx also features a hydraulic shock system, 11-inch tires, durable running boards, and electronic cruise control. Of course, all the high-performance components used in the Maxx's construction come at the expense of weight. This model weighs in at a whopping 100 pounds, which means it isn't an especially good choice for commuting. Yes, it can fold down to a smaller size for ease of storage, but that doesn't make it any easier to lift or move around when the battery is dead. Thankfully, with its large 60V power cells, it doesn't run out of juice all that often. In terms of performance scooters, the Outstorm Maxx Ultra High Speed is a relative bargain, offering plenty of speed and range in an attractive package. But it also provides a smooth, comfortable ride as well, both on and off-road. Because it falls into the pricier end of the market, it definitely isn't a model for most people. Riders who are willing to pay the extra money will find that it more than delivers on its promise of exhilarating two-wheeled thrills. The best electric scooter for kids Amazon Built with kids in mind, the Razor E100 is stable, comfortable to ride, and easy to control, while managing to remain nimble and fun. Pros: Offers a stable ride perfect for kids to learn on, easy to maneuver, favors safety over performanceCons: Limited long-term durability, 26-pound weight could be a lot for kids to carry, not many featuresRazor has been designing scooters—both electric and kick models—for a variety of age groups for years. Over that time, the company has learned that the features that you look for in an adult model are quite different than those for kids. While speed and range are of the utmost importance to the former, safety and stability are the chief concerns for the latter. That design philosophy is evident with the E100, an e-scooter that is sure to delight younger riders. The E100 provides a top speed of 10 mph and offers a ride time of about 40 minutes between charges. Yes, the range of this model is measured in minutes rather than miles, which is another departure from the adult scooter market. Forty minutes of continous use is a fairly long time by kid standards, however, providing a reasonable amount of range before the battery runs dry. With its 8-inch pneumatic front tire, the E100 provides a nice, smooth ride. Coupled with the scooter's rear-wheel-drive system, this shifts much of the weight to the back, enhancing stability and balance as a result. Hand brakes and a thumb throttle make learning to ride quick and easy too, making this a scooter even younger kids will feel comfortable on quite quickly. As with any product designed for kids, long-term durability is always in question. To alleviate those concerns, Razor used a steel frame in the construction of the E100, giving it a very solid feel overall. Those materials do end up adding some weight to the scooter, which tips the scales at 26 pounds. By adult e-scooter standards, that is quite svelte but younger kids may find the E100 unwieldy to lug around.  Compared to most electric scooters designed for adults, the Razor E100 doesn't have a lot of features and amenities. Still, thanks to its ease of use and uncomplicated design, kids will find this model a lot of fun to ride around. After all, their goal isn't to commute to and from the office but to ride with friends and enjoy some time outdoors. For that, this is a wonderful choice. How to shop for an electric scooter As the electric scooter market has grown and diversified, there are now a number of categories that help to define it. The most obvious of those categories is whether or not a specific model is designed with kids or adults in mind.Those made for the younger crowd tend to be smaller, less expensive, and slower. They often have less battery life as well, which translates to a shorter range. Conversely, adult scooters are built for, well, adults, and as such, they are larger, faster, and heavier. They also tend to be more expensive. Unsurprisingly, when it comes to choosing an electric scooter, price is one of the major defining factors. At the lower end, you'll find budget models that come with less expensive components, smaller batteries, and slower top speeds. Mid-tier e-scooters typically fall into the commuter segment and offer a nice blend of range and speed, with prices reflecting those upgrades.At the high-end of the market, you'll find performance models that can potentially cost more than $1,000 but are also quicker, more nimble, and have a longer range than their competitors. RangeWhen shopping for an e-scooter of your own, there are some important specifications that you'll want to keep in mind. Probably the most important of those specs is the range a scooter offers. Each scooter manufacturer offers an estimated range for a given model, which is defined as the distance it travels on a single charge. That distance is directly impacted by the size of the battery, the weight of the rider, and the surface type of surface that it is ridden on.The outside temperature can also have an impact on the range, with colder temps drastically reducing the life of the battery. In real-world conditions, you can expect to ride anywhere from 10-40 miles before having to recharge.SpeedAnother defining characteristic of an e-scooter is its top speed. Its actual number varies greatly depending on the model and manufacturers will often boast of speeds in excess of 25 or even 30 mph, although in practice those numbers aren't always accurate.The size of the motor and battery, along with the weight of the rider, each have an impact on the level of performance. This results in many scooters cruising along in the 5-10 mph range, particularly when not riding on a flat, even surface. Still, shoppers are encouraged to consider the top speed of a model very carefully. A faster model may seem more fun, but it can be much more challenging to control. Quicker acceleration and more power can come in handy, particularly for commuters, but safety should be a primary concern as well.Inexperienced riders are encouraged to choose slower, more stable options while still learning to ride. Additionally, faster scooters also tend to burn through their battery life more quickly, reducing range as result. Portability and weightIf you're the kind of owner who plans to just keep your scooter in the garage and only ride it around the neighborhood, then portability probably isn't something you're all that concerned with.Those who plan to use a scooter for commuting should pay close attention to its weight. Lugging it on and off the subway, or up and down several flights of stairs, can be quite a challenge, especially if your particular model wasn't built with that in mind.As with buying a bicycle, the components used in manufacturing an e-scooter have a direct impact on how much it weighs. Budget models tend to have smaller batteries and motors, which of course weigh less than their larger, more powerful counterparts. However, the other components found on these types of scooters often weigh quite a bit more, which keeps the price down but pushes the weight up.More expensive models tend to have a more powerful drivetrain but are made from high-quality, lighter components. The result tends to be a scooter that costs more, performs better, and is easier to carry around. Some electric scooters that have been specifically designed with commuters in mind may even offer the option to collapse down to a smaller size for ease of transport. Scooters that fold up and can be stored in a carrying case or bag have become so common that they now fall into a category entirely of their own.Usually, these types of scooters sacrifice some performance for improved portability, making them very compelling options for those placing a high value on convenience rather than speed or range. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 7th, 2021

Biden Security Adviser Jake Sullivan Tied To Alleged 2016 Clinton Scheme To Co-Opt CIA/FBI To Tar Trump

Biden Security Adviser Jake Sullivan Tied To Alleged 2016 Clinton Scheme To Co-Opt CIA/FBI To Tar Trump Authored by Paul Sperry via RealClearInvestigations.com, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan figures prominently in a grand jury investigation run by Special Counsel John Durham into an alleged 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign scheme to use both the FBI and CIA to tar Donald Trump as a colluder with Russia, according to people familiar with the criminal probe, which they say has broadened into a conspiracy case. Biden National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan as Clinton campaign adviser for the 2016 election. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File Sullivan is facing scrutiny, sources say, over potentially false statements he made about his involvement in the effort, which continued after the election and into 2017. As a senior foreign policy adviser to Clinton, Sullivan spearheaded what was known inside her campaign as a “confidential project” to link Trump to the Kremlin through dubious email-server records provided to the agencies, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Last week, Michael A. Sussmann, a partner in Perkins Coie, a law firm representing the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of making false statements to the FBI about his clients and their motives behind planting the rumor, at the highest levels of the FBI, of a secret Trump-Russia server. After a months-long investigation, the FBI found no merit to the rumor. The grand jury indicated in its lengthy indictment that several people were involved in the alleged conspiracy to mislead the FBI and trigger an investigation of the Republican presidential candidate -- including Sullivan, who was described by his campaign position but not identified by name. The Clinton campaign project, these sources say, also involved compiling a "digital dossier” on several Trump campaign officials – including Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Carter Page. This effort exploited highly sensitive, nonpublic Internet data related to their personal email communications and web-browsing, known as Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses. Alleged targets: Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page. YouTube/CNN/FNC/RCP To mine the data, the Clinton campaign enlisted a team of Beltway computer contractors as well as university researchers with security clearance who often collaborate with the FBI and the intelligence community. They worked from a five-page campaign document called the "Trump Associates List." The tech group also pulled logs purportedly from servers for a Russian bank and Trump Tower, and the campaign provided the data to the FBI on two thumb drives, along with three “white papers” that claimed the data indicated the Trump campaign was secretly communicating with Moscow through a server in Trump Tower and the Alfa Bank in Russia. Based on the material, the FBI opened at least one investigation, adding to several others it had already initiated targeting the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016. Michael Sussmann: Indicted former Clinton campaign lawyer allegedly coordinated with Jake Sullivan on dubious materials provided to the FBI and media. perkinscoie.com The indictment states that Sussmann, as well as the cyber experts recruited for the operation, "coordinated with representatives and agents of the Clinton campaign with regard to the data and written materials that Sussmann gave to the FBI and the media." One of those campaign agents was Sullivan, according to emails Durham obtained. On Sept. 15, 2016 – just four days before Sussmann handed off the materials to the FBI – Marc Elias, his law partner and fellow Democratic Party operative, "exchanged emails with the Clinton campaign’s foreign policy adviser concerning the Russian bank allegations," as well as with other top campaign officials, the indictment states. The sources close to the case confirmed the "foreign policy adviser" referenced by title is Sullivan. They say he was briefed on the development of the opposition-research materials tying Trump to Alfa Bank, and was aware of the participants in the project. These included the Washington opposition-research group Fusion GPS, which worked for the Clinton campaign as a paid agent and helped gather dirt on Alfa Bank and draft the materials Elias discussed with Sullivan, the materials Sussmann would later submit to the FBI. Fusion researchers were in regular contact with both Sussmann and Elias about the project in the summer and fall of 2016. Sullivan also personally met with Elias, who briefed him on Fusion's opposition research, according to the sources. Sullivan maintained in congressional testimony in December 2017 that he didn’t know of Fusion’s involvement in the Alfa Bank opposition research. In the same closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, he also denied knowing anything about Fusion in 2016 or who was conducting the opposition research for the campaign. "Marc [Elias] ... would occasionally give us updates on the opposition research they were conducting, but I didn't know what the nature of that effort was – inside effort, outside effort, who was funding it, who was doing it, anything like that," Sullivan stated under oath. Jake Sullivan's December 2017 House testimony may put him in perjury jeopardy.  House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Sullivan also testified he didn’t know that Perkins Coie, the law firm where Elias and Sussmann were partners, was working for the Clinton campaign until October 2017, when it was reported in the media as part of stories revealing the campaign's contract with Fusion, which also produced the so-called Steele dossier. Sullivan maintained he didn’t even know that the politically prominent Elias worked for Perkins Coie, a well-known Democratic law firm. Major media stories from 2016 routinely identified Elias as "general counsel for the Clinton campaign" and a "partner at Perkins Coie." "To be honest with you, Marc wears a tremendous number of hats, so I wasn’t sure who he was representing," Sullivan testified. "I sort of thought he was, you know, just talking to us as, you know, a fellow traveler in this — in this campaign effort." Although he acknowledged knowing Elias and his partner were marshaling opposition researchers for a campaign project targeting Trump, Sullivan insisted, "They didn’t do something with it." In truth, they used the research to instigate a full-blown investigation at the FBI and seed a number of stories in the Washington media, which Elias discussed in emails. Marc Elias: Prominent Democrat lawyer allegedly also coordinated with Sullivan. Sullivan would later plead ignorance under oath about Elias's role. Perkins Coie Lying to Congress is a felony. Though the offense is rarely prosecuted, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller won convictions of two of Trump’s associates on charges of that very offense. An attorney for Sullivan did not respond to questions, while a spokeswoman for the National Security Council declined comment. After the 2016 election, Sullivan continued to participate in the anti-Trump effort, which enlisted no fewer than three Internet companies and two university computer researchers, who persisted in exploiting nonpublic Internet data to conjure up “derogatory information on Trump" and his associates, according to the indictment.Prosecutors say the operation ran through at least February 2017, when Sullivan met with another central figure in the plot to plant the anti-Trump smear at the FBI. But now the goal was to compel agents to continue investigating the false rumors in the wake of the election, thereby keeping Trump's presidency under an ethical cloud. Daniel Jones: One of the lead figures in helping resurrect the Trump-Russia collusion narrative after Trump's election, Jones coordinated with Sullivan in hatching the effort. McCain Institute/YouTube On Feb. 10, 2017, Sullivan huddled with two Fusion operatives and their partner Daniel Jones, a former FBI analyst and Democratic staffer on the Hill, to hatch the post-election plan to resurrect rumors Trump was a tool of the Kremlin. As RealClearInvestigations first reported, the meeting, which lasted about an hour and took place in a Washington office building, also included former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The group discussed raising money to finance a multimillion-dollar opposition research project headed by Jones to target the new president. In effect, Jones’ operation would replace the Clinton campaign’s operation, continuing the effort to undermine Trump. It’s not clear if Sussmann attended the Feb. 10 meeting, but he was apparently still involved in the operation, along with his crew of data miners. The day before the meeting attended by Sullivan, Sussmann paid a visit to the CIA’s Langley headquarters to peddle the disinformation about the secret server – this time to top officials there, according to the sources familiar with Durham's investigation. During a roughly 90-minute meeting, Sussmann provided two officials at the intelligence headquarters “updated” documents and data he'd provided the FBI before the election, RealClearInvestigations has learned exclusively. Then, on March 28, 2017, Jones met with the FBI to pass on supposedly fresh leads he and the cyber researchers had learned about the Alfa Bank server and Trump, and the FBI looked into the new leads after having closed its investigation a month earlier. That same month, FBI Director James Comey publicly announced the bureau was investigating possible “coordination" between Moscow and the newly sworn-in president's campaign. Despite the renewed push by Jones, the FBI debunked the tip of a nefarious Russian back channel. Agents learned the email server in question wasn’t even controlled by the Trump Organization. "It wasn’t true," Mueller confirmed in 2019 testimony. It turns out that the supposed “secret server" was housed in the small Pennsylvania town of Lititz, and not  Trump Tower in New York City, and it was operated by a marketing firm based in Florida called Cendyn that routinely blasts out emails promoting multiple hotel chains. Simply put, the third-party server sent spam to Alfa Bank employees who used Trump hotels. The bank had maintained a New York office since 2001. “The FBI’s investigation revealed that the email server at issue was not owned or operated by the Trump Organization but, rather, had been administrated by a mass-marketing email company that sent advertisements for Trump hotels and hundreds of other clients,” Durham wrote in his indictment. Nonetheless, Jones and Sullivan kept promoting the canard as true. Democrat Senators Mark Warner and Ron Wyden: Conduits for TDIP's Trump-Russia material. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik With help from Sullivan and Podesta in 2017, Jones launched a nonprofit group called The Democracy Integrity Project, which raised some $7 million mainly from Silicon Valley tech executives. TDIP hired computer researchers, as well as Fusion opposition researchers and Christopher Steele, the British author of the now-discredited Steele dossier, to “prove” the rumors in the dossier. As they sought new dirt on Trump, they fed their information to media outlets, leading Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee (namely Sens. Mark Warner and Ron Wyden), and the FBI. Jones previously worked on the Senate intelligence panel, which had launched a major investigation of Trump and Russia, and he provided a pipeline of information for the committee, according to the sources. As RCI first reported, Jones emailed a daily news bulletin known as "TDIP Research" to prominent Beltway journalists to keep the Trump-Russia “collusion” rumor-mill going, including the debunked rumor about the "secret server." Durham has subpoenaed Jones to testify before his grand jury hearing the case, along with computer experts and researchers recruited by Sussmann for the Clinton campaign project, persons close to the investigation said. Attempts to reach Jones for comment were unsuccessful. In a statement, Durham said his investigation "is ongoing." Special Counsel John Durham: Lengthy single count "speaking" indictment of Sussmann suggests a broader conspiracy case in the works. AP Indictments for a single-count process crime such as making a false statement normally run a page or two. But Durham’s filing charging Sussmann spans 27 pages and is packed with detail. FBI veterans say the 40-year prosecutor used the indictment to outline a broader conspiracy case he’s building that invokes several other federal statutes. "That is what we call a 'speaking indictment,' meaning it is far more detailed than is required for a simple indictment under [federal statute] 1001,” which outlaws making false statements and representations to federal investigators, former assistant FBI Director Chris Swecker said in an interview with RealClearInvestigations. "It is damning,” he added. “And I see it as a placeholder for additional indictments, such as government grant and contract fraud, computer intrusion, the Privacy Act and other laws against dissemination of personally identifiable information, and mail fraud and wire fraud – not to mention conspiracy to commit those offenses." Chris Swecker: The Sussmann indictment "is damning," and "I definitely see more to come," says the ex-top FBI investigator. Miller & Martin "I definitely see more [indictments] to come,” emphasized Swecker, who knows Durham personally and worked with him on prior investigations. The sources close to the case said former FBI general counsel James Baker, who accepted the sketchy materials from Sussmann and passed them on to agents for investigation, is cooperating with Durham’s investigation, along with former FBI counterintelligence chief Bill Priestap, who has provided prosecutors contemporaneous notes about what led the bureau to open an investigation into the allegations Trump used Alfa Bank as a conduit between his campaign and Russian President Vladimir Putin to steal the election. According to the sources, Durham also has found evidence Sussmann misled the CIA, another front in the scandal being reported here for the first time. In December 2016, the sources say Sussmann phoned the general counsel at the agency and told her the same story about the supposed secret server – at the same time the CIA was compiling a national intelligence report that accused Putin of meddling in the election to help Trump win. Sussmann told Caroline Krass, then the agency’s top attorney, that he had information that may help her with a review President Obama had ordered of all intelligence related to the election and Russia, known as the Intelligence Community Assessment. The review ended up including an annex with several unfounded and since-debunked allegations against Trump developed by the Clinton campaign. It’s not clear if the two-page annex, which claimed the allegations were “consistent with the judgments in this assessment,” included the Alfa Bank canard. Before it was made public, several sections had been redacted. But after Sussmann conveyed the information to Krass, an Obama appointee, she told him she would consider it for the intelligence review of Russian interference, which tracks with Sussmann’s 2017 closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. (Krass’ name is blacked out in the declassified transcript, but sources familiar with Sussmann's testimony confirmed that he identified her as his CIA contact.) Caroline Krass: Michael Sussmann also gave  Trump-Russia material to this CIA lawyer. CIA/Wikipedia “We’re interested,” said Krass, who left the agency several months later. "We’re doing this review and I’ll speak to someone here.” It’s not known if Sussmann failed to inform the top CIA lawyer that he was working on behalf of the Clinton campaign, as he’s alleged to have done at the FBI. Attempts to reach Krass, who now serves as Biden’s top lawyer at the Pentagon, were unsuccessful. But in his return trip to the CIA after the election, Sussmann “stated falsely – as he previously had stated to the FBI general counsel – that he was ‘not representing a particular client,’ " according to the Durham indictment, which cites a contemporaneous memo drafted by two agency officials with whom Sussmann met that memorializes their meeting. (The document refers to the CIA by the pseudonym “Agency-2.” Sources confirm Agency-2 is the CIA.) Remarkably, the CIA did not ask for the source of Sussmann’s walk-in tip, including where he got several data files he gave the agency. The FBI exhibited a similar lack of curiosity when Sussmann told it about the false Trump/Alfa Bank connection. Attempts to reach Sussmann to get his side to the additional CIA allegations leveled by Durham were unsuccessful. The 57-year-old attorney pleaded not guilty to a single felony count and was released on a $100,000 bond Friday. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.The prominent Washington lawyer quietly resigned from Perkins Coie, which has scrubbed all references to him from its website. And late last month, as rumors of the indictment swirled, the powerhouse law firm divested its entire Political Law Group formerly headed by Marc Elias – who commissioned the Steele dossier. Elias, who worked closely with Sussmann on the Trump-Alfa Bank project, also is no longer employed by the firm. Jake Sullivan’s Golf Cart Rounds In late July 2016, during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the CIA picked up Russian chatter about a Clinton foreign policy adviser who was trying to develop allegations to “vilify" Trump. The intercepts said Clinton herself had approved a “plan" to “stir up a scandal” against Trump by tying him to Putin. According to hand-written notes, then-CIA chief John Brennan warned President Obama that Moscow had intercepted information about the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016, of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump.” That summer, Brennan had personally briefed Democrats, including then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, on the Alfa Bank-Trump server rumors, according to congressional reports. Reid fired off a letter to Comey demanding that the FBI do more to investigate Trump's ties to Russia. During that convention, Sullivan drove a golf cart from one TV-network news tent in the parking lot to another, pitching producers and anchors a story that Trump was conspiring with Putin to steal the election. CNN, ABC News, CBS News, and NBC News, as well as Chris Wallace of Fox News, all gave him airtime to spin the Clinton campaign’s unfounded theories. Sullivan also gave off-camera background briefings to reporters. "We were on a mission," Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri later admitted in a Washington Post column. “We wanted to raise the alarm." Then, on the eve of the election, Sullivan claimed in a written campaign statement that Trump and the Russians had set up a “secret hotline” through Alfa Bank, and he suggested “federal authorities” were investigating “this direct connection between Trump and Russia.” He portrayed the shocking discovery as the work of independent experts — “computer scientists” — without disclosing their attachment to the campaign. “This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow,” Sullivan claimed. Clinton teed up his statement in an Oct. 31, 2016, tweet, which quickly went viral. Also that day, Clinton tweeted, “It’s time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia,” while attaching a meme that read: “Donald Trump has a secret server. It was set up to communicate privately with a Putin-tied Russian bank called Alfa Bank.” The Clinton campaign played up the bogus Trump-Alfa Bank story on the eve of the 2016 election. Twitter/@HillaryClinton It’s not immediately apparent if then-Vice President Joe Biden was briefed about the Alfa Bank tale or other Trump-Russia rumors and investigations. Biden has never been questioned about his own role in the investigation of Trump. However, it was the former vice president who introduced the idea of prosecuting Trump’s national security adviser appointee, Gen. Flynn, under the Logan Act of 1799, a dead-letter statute that prohibits private citizens from interfering in U.S. foreign policy and which hasn’t been used to prosecute anyone in modern times. According to notes taken by then-FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok, who attended a Jan. 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting with Obama and Biden, in which Trump, Flynn and Russia were discussed, Biden raised the idea: “VP: Logan Act,” the notes read. Although he’s not an attorney, Sullivan has argued in congressional testimony and elsewhere that Flynn violated the Logan Act, raising suspicions he may have put the idea in Biden’s head. Sullivan had advised the vice president before joining the Clinton campaign. Tyler Durden Thu, 09/23/2021 - 22:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 23rd, 2021

28 fun gift ideas that will keep toddlers entertained

We rounded up 28 of the best gifts for toddlers. These picks are guided by experts and include books, toys, and dolls for kids 1 through 3 years old. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. The Melissa and Doug Fold and Go Dollhouse includes furniture and dolls. Amazon Finding gifts that toddlers will love more than the boxes they come in can be a challenge. I've already gone through that process with my toddler and have rounded up 28 of the best gifts for toddlers. You can check out all of Insider Reviews gift guides to shop for everyone on your list. Toddlers can be picky little humans. You know this if you've ever seen how long they're entertained by a cardboard box or bubbles, only to leave a pricey toy sitting by the wayside day after day. I would know - my 3-year-old has a big personality. But I've become a pro at buying gifts that she plays with longer than the packages they come in. Buying gifts for toddlers becomes even more complicated when you account for their rapid development. A 1-year-old might be enthralled by a toy that a 3-year-old finds boring. That's why I've rounded up 28 gifts that will be a hit with any toddler. Many of the gifts on this list have also been tried, tested, and well-loved by my own child. Here are 28 of the best gifts for toddlers: A developmentally appropriate puzzle Fat Brain Toys Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog Puzzle Playmate, available on Fat Brain Toys, $16.95This is a toy that can really span the toddler age ranges. Younger toddlers will delight in the challenge of matching shapes, while older toddlers can work on numbers and counting with the spikes. I've seen this toy meet my daughter at various stages of development since we started testing it over four months ago. Recommended ages: 18 months and up A working vacuum Walmart Ryan's World Children's Toy Vacuum Cleaner, available at Walmart, $24.56Toddlers love to imitate their favorite grown-ups. They also love their favorite characters, like Ryan from Ryan's World. If Ryan's World is a hit for your toddler, everyone will be happy with this vacuum that actually picks up dirt. Recommended ages: 2 years and up A themed sensory bin Amazon Creativity for Kids Sensory Bin, available on Amazon, from $15Sensory bins allow toddlers to create their own little worlds, and this one requires very minimal setup from grown-ups. Choose from six different themes: construction zone, dinosaur dig, garden and critters, ice cream shop, ocean and sand, and outer space. My daughter got the ocean & sand bin for her 3rd birthday, and it has been a huge hit. Recommended ages: 3 years and up Holiday-themed magnetic blocks Amazon Dr. Seuss The Grinch Magna-Tiles Structure Set, available on Amazon, $44.95Magnetic tiles are very much a tried-and-tested favorite in our house. When I tested this set, I wasn't sure that the Grinch theme would be enough to make these any better than plain-colored tiles. But I was pleasantly surprised. This 19-piece set lets kids build the Grinch himself, a Whoville home, or a cozy holiday scene.Recommended ages: 3 years and up Their first toolbox Amazon Hape Fix It Kid's Wooden Tool Box and Accessory Play Set, available at Amazon, $21.99Toddlers can fix things up around the house with this 17-piece toolbox. The small set is just the right size for toddler hands and includes a hammer, nails, screwdriver, screws, and more.  Recommended ages: 3 years and up Educational place mats Amazon Little Likes Kids Educational Two-Sided Place Mat Variety Pack, available at Amazon, $15.99Even as they refine their eating skills, toddlers still often make a mess. Keep your table clean and your toddlers entertained with these three double-sided place mats.Recommended ages: 3 years and up Books to build their library Amazon "Baby Goes to Market," available at Amazon, $14.56"The Rainbow Fish," available at Amazon, $9.95"The Snowy Day," available at Amazon, $6.11"Chicka Chicka Boom Boom," available at Amazon, $4.59"I Like It When . . . /Me gusta cuando . . ." available at Amazon, $6.08There's nothing quite like cuddling up with a good book at bedtime. From simple board books to narratives that encourage kindness, toddlers will ask to read these books again and again. Animal-themed bingo Amazon Banana Panda Let's Play Animal Bingo, available at Amazon, $16.15Toddlers can get in on the action with this simplified version of bingo. Each bingo card features animals in a different habitat, and the boards and tokens are made of thick cardboard that will hold up to rough play.Recommended ages: 2 years and up A World of Eric Carle puzzle Amazon Mudpuppy World of Eric Carle Brown Bear 4-in-A-Box Puzzles, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, $14.99Four-piece puzzles are a step up from peg puzzles, another toddler favorite. This set of four puzzles is inspired by the popular book "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?" As a former English teacher, I can't resist a toy that encourages reading. Even if you don't have the book at home, these puzzles will still be engaging and challenging while simultaneously exposing toddlers to color matching.  Recommended ages: 2 years and up The ultimate racetrack Alicia Betz/Business Insider Go! Go! Smart Wheels Ultimate Corkscrew Tower, available at Walmart and Target, from $29.82This quickly became our family's favorite Go! Go! Smart Wheels track after the company sent us a review sample a few months ago. It can be configured into one tall spiral or two smaller spirals for racing. You'll get one race car, and the track includes a switch track, hazards, and a trap door. Five different locations along the track prompt the car to play various sounds, songs, and phrases. If you already have other Go! Go! Smart Wheels tracks, you can connect them to the tower.Recommended ages: 1 to 5 years An interactive thinking chair Walmart Blues Clues and You! Play and Learn Thinking Chair, available at Walmart, $49.44If you have a Blues Clues fan, this real-life thinking chair will be a big hit. It comes with a mailbox, letters, and an interactive handy dandy notebook. The chair can detect when kids sit down or get up, and there is even a storage space under the seat. We've been testing it for a few months, and my daughter hasn't let it leave our living room since. Recommended ages: 2 to 5 years A color-changing bath book Amazon "Color Me: Who's in the Water?" available at Amazon, $11.99Toddlers will think this book is magic when it changes color in their bathwater. The illustrations are the central focus with just a few words on each page. This creates an ideal environment for reluctant readers to pick up a book. Use it for some water painting fun out of the bath, too. Recommended ages: 1 to 3 years A dump truck made of recycled plastic Amazon Green Toys Dump Truck, available at Amazon and Walmart, from $19.14Whether you have a sandbox, a dirt pile in the backyard, or a bunch of toys that need to be moved around the house, toddlers will enjoy loading this truck and dumping things out. The brightly colored toy is made of 100% recycled plastic. An added bonus: After this truck spends a long day hauling materials for your child, you can throw it in the dishwasher. Recommended ages: 12 months and up Reusable mess-free coloring pads Alicia Betz/Business Insider Melissa & Doug Water Wow! 3-Pack, available at Amazon and Kohl's, from $16.99If you have a toddler living in your house and you haven't yet discovered the magic that is Water Wow, you're missing out. Each pad comes with four reusable boards that change color when they make contact with the water pen. They make absolutely no mess and are some of our favorite travel toys for toddlers. We keep one in the car and always bring them along to places like the doctor's office and restaurants. Recommended ages: 3 years and up A picnic play set and shape sorter all in one Walmart Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket, available at Walmart and Buy Buy Baby, from $19.99 This picnic play set is one of our favorite toys for 1-year-olds. It teaches toddlers concepts like shapes, colors, manners, and sharing. The basket includes a shape sorter, two cups, two forks, two plates, six food items, and a picnic blanket. Recommended ages: 6 months to 3 years A doll to love and care for Amazon Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella, available at Buy Buy Baby, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Amazon, from $19.99This doll can grow with children as they move through different developmental stages. Toddlers can practice caring skills and strengthen their fine motor skills by removing and replacing the doll's binky as well as changing its clothes. At 12 inches tall, Wee Baby Stella is also a great size for toddlers. Recommended ages: 1 year and up A starter dollhouse The Melissa and Doug Fold and Go Dollhouse includes furniture and dolls. Amazon Melissa & Doug Fold and Go Wooden Dollhouse, available at Amazon, $59Dollhouses can keep toddlers entertained for hours as they imagine new scenarios and practice everyday skills. The set comes with 11 pieces of wooden furniture and two dolls, which is a big plus as many dollhouses don't come with dolls. Recommended ages: 3 to 6 years Toddler-size crayons and coloring books Alicia Betz/Business Insider My First Toddler Coloring Book, available at Amazon, $3.99Crayola Jumbo Crayons, available at Walmart, $2.97Crayola Multicultural Large Crayons, available at Staples, $3.79This is a simple yet exciting gift for young toddlers who are just learning how to color and develop their fine motor skills. The large pictures, numbers, letters, and shapes have thick lines, and the pages are durable. These are all characteristics that make coloring easier for toddlers. Thicker jumbo and large crayons are designed for toddlers to have success coloring. This book was one of the first coloring books I bought my toddler over a year ago, and it's still going strong. Recommended ages: 1 to 3 years (coloring book); 3 years and up (crayons) A push car with all the bells and whistles Amazon Step2 Whisper Ride II Ride-On Push Car, available at Buy Buy Baby and Amazon, $74.99My neighbors can't help but smile when they see my toddler roll by in this push car. Step2 sent a review sample that we've been testing since the beginning of the summer. It's still in great shape and handles hills and bumpy roads well. Some standout features include a storage trunk, a working horn, cup holders (for you and your toddler!), and a seat belt. Recommended ages: 18 months to 4 years A cuddly version of everyone's favorite Star Wars character Target Star Wars The Mandalorian The Child aka Baby Yoda Plush, available at Target and Kohl's, from $19.89Toddlers can cuddle up with quite possibly the cutest Star Wars character ever. Toys based on characters like this one give kids just enough inspiration for imaginative play scenarios without doing all the work for them. Even if you haven't seen "The Mandalorian," it's hard to resist this endearing little creature.Recommended ages: 3 years and up A cleaning set so they can 'help' around the house Alicia Betz/Business Insider Melissa & Doug Let's Play House! Dust, Sweep & Mop Set, available at Buy Buy Baby, Kohl's, and Amazon, from $23.98My daughter loves to "help" me clean around the house and this set is the perfect size for her. It comes with a pint-sized broom, mop, duster, brush, dustpan, and even a storage rack. My toddler has consistently used it for more than a year, and it's still in excellent shape. Recommended ages: 3 years and up A doctor's play set Amazon B. Toys Toy Doctor Kit, available at Target and Amazon, from $19.99Doctor visits can be scary, but role-playing with a play doctor kit makes them more approachable and even fun. This 10-piece kit comes with a stethoscope, otoscope, blood pressure cuff, syringe, scissors, thermometer, mirror, a pair of tweezers, a beeper, and a carry case to keep it all organized. The pager beeps and lights up, and the stethoscope makes a heartbeat sound. Recommended ages: 18 months and up A Lego set for learning the alphabet Amazon Lego Duplo My First Alphabet Truck, available at Amazon, from $19.99This Lego Duplo set encourages hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as toddlers stack blocks and move the truck around. It comes with 36 Duplo pieces, including 26 letter bricks, a truck, and 10 other bricks and figures. Recommended ages: 18 months and up A customized tricycle Alicia Betz/Business Insider Radio Flyer Custom Build-A-Trike, available at Radio Flyer, from $70There's nothing quite like a classic red tricycle. Radio Flyer sent this tricycle for me to test, and I'm impressed by its quality. Depending on how you customize it, this tricycle can grow with your child from 9 months to 5 years old. Available customization options include a classic bell, a canopy, and a footrest. What I appreciate most about it is the push handle — I use it to help my daughter learn to steer and make sure she is safe while learning to ride. Recommended ages: 9 months to 5 years A set of musical instruments Amazon B. Toys Drumroll Please Instrument Set, available at Target, $22.99This musical set inspires imagination and creativity. It includes a drum, two drumsticks, castanets, a whistle, a tambourine, and a shaker egg. All of the instruments fit neatly inside the drum so toddlers can take it anywhere.Recommended ages: 18 to 36 months A cash register with play food and money Target LeapFrog Count Along Cash Register, available at Target, $19.99My daughter and I have played many hours of "grocery store" with this set. It comes with a working cash register, eight pieces of play food, 10 coins, and a credit card. Prompts encourage kids to count coins, and buttons on the display correspond with the play food.  Recommended ages: 2 to 4 years A stylish play mixer for the budding chef Kohl's KidKraft Wooden Baking Set, available at Kohl's, $19.99This stylish mixer can be an addition to an existing play kitchen, but it's also ideal if you have limited space. The set comes with a mixer, a bowl, eggs, flour, sugar, milk, a baking sheet, cookies, and a working rolling pin. Toddlers can't help but imitate daily life, and this set let my daughter "make" cookies without making a mess. Recommended ages: 3 years and up Everything they need to complete rescue missions Amazon Paw Patrol Dino Rescue Rev Up Vehicle with Mystery Dinosaur Figure, available at Amazon, $11.90For less than $15, this toy comes with a figurine, a vehicle, and a surprise dinosaur egg. Choose from six different Paw Patrol characters: Chase, Marshall, Rocky, Rubble, Skye, and Zuma. Each vehicle has a rev-up motor and a working tool.Recommended ages: 3 years and up Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 22nd, 2021

The Perfect Song for Your Open House

It’s no surprise that music makes a significant impact on our moods. Specific songs can excite fans before a big sporting event, relax people in stressful situations, or inspire people to dance, create—or even buy. In fact, in 2015, Australian researchers examined how music can influence buying decisions and actually found that the impact can… The post The Perfect Song for Your Open House appeared first on RISMedia. It’s no surprise that music makes a significant impact on our moods. Specific songs can excite fans before a big sporting event, relax people in stressful situations, or inspire people to dance, create—or even buy. In fact, in 2015, Australian researchers examined how music can influence buying decisions and actually found that the impact can be pretty apparent. The study shows that music playing could influence something as simple as the meals that people select from menus or how much money to spend. These findings could also indicate that playing the right kind of music during your open house could improve your sales rate in real estate. Best tunes for your open house When selecting the music for an upcoming open house, you need to think carefully about the house’s tone, the local real estate market, and the demographics of the buyers you want to reach. Consider the type of people who might show up to your open house. Are they young families or established, sophisticated empty nesters? For example, if you’re showing a luxury home, it’s best to use soft classical music rather than hard rock. In addition to looking for music that will appeal to your target home buyer, you also want to make sure you stay away from any music that might offend people. Most real estate agents found that instrumental tunes can create a calm atmosphere that will help keep everyone happy. You have various options when looking for instrumental music or neutral music, such as Brazilian jazz or Billie Holiday. You can even look through existing playlists on platforms like Spotify to find out what other people have selected for real estate open houses to see if they help inspire your own musical selections. Where to play your tunes In addition to curating the perfect playlist for your open house, you also want to consider where you play the music. If the homeowner has a surround-sound system, you can ask permission to use it during the open house. If not, hiding speakers in each room and throughout the home can help to create the desired effect. Some real estate agents also find it helpful to play different tracks in different parts of the home. Keeping the volume low enough that the different tracks do not compete with each other can help to create an inviting effect as people move throughout the house. However you set up the music player, remember that you do not want to turn up the volume too loudly. Keep it loud enough that people can easily hear it without straining, but not so loud that people have to shout over it or feel like it’s hindering conversation. McKissock Learning is the nation’s premier online real estate school, providing continuing education courses and professional development to hundreds of thousands of real estate agents across the country. As part of the Colibri Real Estate family of premier education brands, McKissock Learning, along with its sister schools Real Estate Express, Superior School of Real Estate, Allied Schools, The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, Gold Coast Schools, The Rockwell Institute and Hondros Education Group, helps real estate professionals achieve sustainable success throughout each stage of their real estate career. Learn more at mckissock.com/real-estate. The post The Perfect Song for Your Open House appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismedia39 min. ago

David Perdue"s closing argument to Georgians ahead of Tuesday"s GOP primary: A vote for Brian Kemp is a vote for Stacey Abrams

Reelecting Gov. Brian Kemp is as offensive to MAGA as handing Democrat Stacey Abrams control of Georgia, Team Perdue says ahead of Tuesday's primary Former U.S. Senator and Republican candidate for Governor of Georgia David Perdue waves to supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump after speaking at a rally at the Banks County Dragway on March 26, 2022 in Commerce, Georgia.Megan Varner/Getty Images Trump-backed Perdue is trailing Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp ahead of Tuesday's GOP primary. Perdue's camp says Trump's support was a big reason Kemp became governor in 2018. Splitting the party now, Perdue argues, gives Democrats an edge this fall. ATLANTA, Georgia — Republican gubernatorial hopeful David Perdue is telling Georgia voters still on the fence ahead of Tuesday's primary that backing incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp is futile because Kemp won't be able to unite the MAGA and establishment wings of the GOP in time to beat presumptive Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams this fall. "He has divided the party. So I'm very concerned that he's gonna have a hard time pulling us together again in November," Perdue, who recent polls show is trailing Kemp by 30 points, told supporters during a campaign event in Augusta, Georgia. Whether he's trying to convince himself or others about the relevance of Trump's endorsement power, the last-minute pitch has resonated with locals who view Kemp's break with the former president over the 2020 election as disqualifying.  Perdue supporter Sharon Fry, 65, told Insider she worked on Kemp's first gubernatorial bid in 2018. And the only reason he narrowly defeated Abrams last time was because the MAGA world lent its support. "It took Donald Trump's endorsement. It took everyone getting behind Brian Kemp — even people that did not support him in the runoff," she said of the concentrated effort it took to shore up the 50,000 votes that kept the state from flipping blue. "Brian Kemp does not have all the support this time." Trump has orchestrated much of that erosion, spending the last few years lashing out against Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Republican officials in other swing states where Joe Biden beat him in 2020.Trump's non-stop attacks on RINOs, which stands for "Republican in name only," still carry weight with diehard fans who miss the chaos he created while in Washington. Bikers for Trump founder Chris Cox aired his grievances against RINOs Friday night, proclaiming that by defying Trump's wishes, Kemp, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former President George Bush have proven they are more aligned with Biden than MAGA. "We've already got someone in the 'Let's Go Brandon' administration who's doing the opposite of Donald Trump," Cox told attendees during a rally for Perdue and freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. Cox added that being part of the status quo means Kemp's got to go. "Georgia deserves a governor more like Ron DeSantis," Cox said, praising the combative Florida Republican and potential 2024 presidential contender for relentlessly sticking it to the establishment. Gordon Country resident Christie Ellis, 50, talked Insider through her reservations about Kemp. She started out saying that she wasn't sure Kemp could beat Abrams in the anticipated rematch this November, but the conversation then took a darker turn. "What good does it do? What's it matter?" Ellis said of giving Kemp a shot at reelection, given that he only "represents the Stacey Abrams areas" anyway.   "I don't think it would matter if he did beat her. Because, I mean, it's a wash," Ellis predicted. Amy Rose, 44, who said she voted for Kemp in 2018, expressed a similar sense of alienation.Rose told Insider she's supporting Kandiss Taylor — the woman running on the "Jesus, Guns, and Babies" platform — for governor because every other GOP candidate has left her behind. "It's just the same old thing, over and over again, whether it's Democrats or Republicans," Rose said of her disillusionment with mainstream politics. "They're all in the same boat."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider7 hr. 57 min. ago

Margaritaville"s first cruise ship has begun sailing out of Florida with the promise of booze and a Jimmy Buffett musical — see what it"s like onboard

Jimmy Buffett's hospitality empire turned a 30-year-old cruise ship into a floating Margaritaville resort for two-night sailings to the Bahamas. Margaritaville Margaritaville has launched Margartaville at Sea Paradise, the brand's first cruise ship. The vessel is now operating two-night sailings from Florida to the Grand Bahama island. See inside the ship, a floating paradise for fans of Jimmy Buffett and his Margaritaville empire. Parrotheads, rejoice!Brittany Chang/InsiderIf you're craving a vacation at sea with the chance to waste away (again), Jimmy Buffett's hospitality empire has you covered.Brittany Chang/InsiderMargaritaville has launched its first cruise line — appropriately named Margaritaville at Sea — as the company continues to expand its footprint both on land and at sea …Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: Insider… and it's everything you'd expect from a floating Margaritaville resort.Brittany Chang/InsiderOn May 14, the Margaritaville began passenger sailings aboard its first vessel, the Margaritaville at Sea Paradise.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe company's cruise arm may be new, but the ship is already over 30 years old.Brittany Chang/InsiderMargaritaville partnered with Florida-based Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line to create the new cruise brand.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe latter cruise brand has since adopted the Margaritaville at Sea brand …Brittany Chang/Insider… and its flagship vessel, the Grand Classica, has followed the same route.Brittany Chang/InsiderAfter undergoing a "multi-million investment and refurbishment," remnants of the cruise ship's past life have since been stripped away and replaced with …Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: Insider… a statue of a giant flip flop …Brittany Chang/Insider… lime lights …Brittany Chang/Insider… and the promise of tropical paradise at sea.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe 10-deck, 724-foot-long cruise ship is relatively small but still has all the amenities of a traditional cruise liner like restaurants, bars, a spa, and a theater.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe Margaritaville vessel can sail up to 590 crew members who will then tend to up to 1,680 passengers.Brittany Chang/InsiderTo accommodate these guests, Margaritaville at Sea Paradise has almost 660 staterooms ranging from inside and ocean view (shown below) staterooms …Brittany Chang/Insider… to junior and terrace suites.The McBride CompanyWhen you're onboard, there's no hiding from the Margaritaville brand (or, dare I say, culture).Brittany Chang/InsiderLike all of Margaritaville's hospitality offerings, the cruise ship is a goldmine of Jimmy Buffett references.Brittany Chang/InsiderAlmost every amenity aboard Margaritaville at Sea Paradise is named after a Jimmy Buffett reference or song, including Frank and Lola's Pizzeria …Brittany Chang/Insider… and the Port of Indecision Buffet.Brittany Chang/InsiderThere are also several dining concepts available at the brand's hotels and resorts, like the License to Chill and 5 o'Clock Somewhere bars.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe buffet is smaller than the ones found on today's giant modern cruise liners but it still has a variety of food and the crucial pasta and dessert bars.Brittany Chang/InsiderIf you're craving an upscale dinner you can pay a premium to eat at JWB Prime Steakhouse, a high-end concept available at some Margaritaville resorts.Brittany Chang/InsiderFor the more casual cruise goers, there's also the main dining room, a pizzeria …Brittany Chang/Insider… and the alfresco 5 o'Clock Somewhere Bar and Grill complete with literal limelights and a statue of a giant blender.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd it certainly wouldn't be a Margaritaville cruise without the promise of endless booze.Brittany Chang/InsiderMargaritaville at Sea Paradise has several bars and lounges, including the indoor Euphoria lounge with live music …Brittany Chang/Insider… the 12 Volt Pool Bar, another open-air bar with views of a pool and ocean.Brittany Chang/InsiderFor some nighttime entertainment, the theater will host the ship's "Tales from Margaritaville: Jimmy's Ship Show," a kitschy song and dance production filled with back-to-back Jimmy Buffett hits.Brittany Chang/InsiderIf you're not into shows, there's always the casino.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut if you'd rather lounge outside, the ship has two pools, one of which is adults-only.Brittany Chang/InsiderLike most cruise ships, Margaritaville at Sea Paradise also has a spa and salon next to a small gym.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut if you're looking forward to life at sea as a Parrothead, don't expect a weeklong vacation.Brittany Chang/InsiderFor now, the brand is only operating two-night cruises from Palm Beach, Florida to the Grand Bahama island, an itinerary that'll continue through March 2023.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: Margaritaville at SeaRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider17 hr. 24 min. ago

Republican voters gush about Marjorie Taylor Greene instead as she stumps for a struggling David Perdue ahead of Georgia primary

MAGA Republicans went crazy for Marjorie Taylor Greene, mostly just humored David Perdue during a lively joint campaign rally in northwest Georgia. Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue and GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene greet people during a Bikers for Trump campaign event held at the Crazy Acres Bar & Grill on May 20, 2022 in Plainville, Georgia.Joe Raedle/Getty Images Marjorie Taylor Greene got a lot more attention than David Perdue at a Friday night rally. Attendees praised Greene's combative attitude, but seemed not to really know Perdue. One observer said they find the obsession with Greene disturbing. PLAINVILLE, Georgia — "She always draws a crowd," a 52-year-old Gordon County resident said as Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene thundered into the parking lot of the Crazy Acres Bar & Grill flanked by any army of engine-revving bikers. The grand entrance riled up everyone there to show Trump-backed candidates some love ahead of Tuesday's GOP primary. Greene joined gubernatorial hopeful David Perdue, who is trying to chip away at incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp's 30-point lead, and attorney general hopeful John Gordon at the Friday night rally, which took place in Greene's congressional district. Many of the attendees cheered for Greene as she emerged from the stripped-down Humvee with a campaign sign strapped to its back. Insider spotted at least a dozen people wearing Marjorie Taylor Greene campaign gear in the crowd of about 150 who gathered for the last-minute addition to Perdue's closing weekend sprint. Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia chats with Crazy Acres Bar & Grill owner Jerry Stroup after pulling into the parking lot for a Bikers for Trump rally on May 20, in Plainville, Georgia.Warren Rojas/Insider"Marjorie Taylor Greene brought us out. We have been supporting her since day one," district resident Christie Ellis, 50, said of her affection for the freshman lawmaker. Greene routinely stokes culture wars on Capitol Hill, has voted against nearly every Ukraine-related bill Congress has taken up since Russia invaded the neighboring country, and has taken advantage of the same proxy voting rules she has repeatedly criticized to skip nearly two dozen votes.  Greene immediately set to shoring up the support she'll need to overcome her five GOP primary challengers. She worked the crowd by stopping to pose for selfies, took swigs of her Shock Top Belgian white ale after clinking bottles with beer-toting patrons, and said hello to the kids that star-struck moms rushed over to meet her. "Like Donald Trump, she tells it like it is. You don't have to read her mind," Bikers for Trump founder and rally organizer Chris Cox said to raucous applause as he summoned Greene to the stage to say a few words. Cox also wrapped her in his Trump-branded vest, which Greene proudly sported as she posed for pictures on one of the motorcycles parked in the lot. Perdue, who had ditched the blazer he was wearing earlier in the day while jet-setting from Augusta to Savannah for a campaign stop with 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee turned House hopeful Sarah Palin, rolled up his sleeves and mingled as well. Though he'd previously represented the area as senator, Perdue reintroduced himself to guys playing pool, awkwardly fist-bumped tattooed bikers, and snuck sips of his soda as others swigged frosty Coors Lights. When it was his turn on the main stage, Perdue tried to fire everyone up by railing about the "rigged and stolen" presidential election, and how Kemp "sold us out." Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue speaks during a Bikers for Trump campaign event held at the Crazy Acres Bar & Grill on May 20, 2022 in Plainville, Georgia.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesJoel Burnz, 24, wasn't swayed one bit.  "I'm undecided," Burnz said after Perdue finished speaking, telling Insider he planned to spend the weekend "doing homework" ahead of Tuesday's primary. The 52-year-old local, who declined to give his name, didn't fault Perdue for trying. But he said he wasn't surprised Greene had stolen the spotlight, adding that he likes to play a game with friends and neighbors who fawn over her: he asks them to name the area's prior congressional representative."No one knows," the local said, shrugging off the erasure of five-term lawmaker Tom Graves' public service as a consequence of a political system that rewards celebrity above civic duty. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 21st, 2022

Omega Therapeutics, Inc. (OMGA) Upgraded to Buy: What Does It Mean for the Stock?

Omega Therapeutics, Inc. (OMGA) has been upgraded to a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), reflecting growing optimism about the company's earnings prospects. This might drive the stock higher in the near term. Investors might want to bet on Omega Therapeutics, Inc. (OMGA), as it has been recently upgraded to a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). This rating change essentially reflects an upward trend in earnings estimates -- one of the most powerful forces impacting stock prices.A company's changing earnings picture is at the core of the Zacks rating. The system tracks the Zacks Consensus Estimate -- the consensus measure of EPS estimates from the sell-side analysts covering the stock -- for the current and following years.The power of a changing earnings picture in determining near-term stock price movements makes the Zacks rating system highly useful for individual investors, since it can be difficult to make decisions based on rating upgrades by Wall Street analysts. These are mostly driven by subjective factors that are hard to see and measure in real time.As such, the Zacks rating upgrade for Omega Therapeutics, Inc. is essentially a positive comment on its earnings outlook that could have a favorable impact on its stock price.Most Powerful Force Impacting Stock PricesThe change in a company's future earnings potential, as reflected in earnings estimate revisions, and the near-term price movement of its stock are proven to be strongly correlated. The influence of institutional investors has a partial contribution to this relationship, as these big professionals use earnings and earnings estimates to calculate the fair value of a company's shares. An increase or decrease in earnings estimates in their valuation models simply results in higher or lower fair value for a stock, and institutional investors typically buy or sell it. Their transaction of large amounts of shares then leads to price movement for the stock.For Omega Therapeutics, Inc. rising earnings estimates and the consequent rating upgrade fundamentally mean an improvement in the company's underlying business. And investors' appreciation of this improving business trend should push the stock higher.Harnessing the Power of Earnings Estimate RevisionsEmpirical research shows a strong correlation between trends in earnings estimate revisions and near-term stock movements, so it could be truly rewarding if such revisions are tracked for making an investment decision. Here is where the tried-and-tested Zacks Rank stock-rating system plays an important role, as it effectively harnesses the power of earnings estimate revisions.The Zacks Rank stock-rating system, which uses four factors related to earnings estimates to classify stocks into five groups, ranging from Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) to Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell), has an impressive externally-audited track record, with Zacks Rank #1 stocks generating an average annual return of +25% since 1988. You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here >>>>.Earnings Estimate Revisions for Omega Therapeutics, Inc.This company is expected to earn -$2.17 per share for the fiscal year ending December 2022, which represents a year-over-year change of 28.9%.Analysts have been steadily raising their estimates for Omega Therapeutics, Inc. Over the past three months, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company has increased 34.9%.Bottom LineUnlike the overly optimistic Wall Street analysts whose rating systems tend to be weighted toward favorable recommendations, the Zacks rating system maintains an equal proportion of 'buy' and 'sell' ratings for its entire universe of more than 4000 stocks at any point in time. Irrespective of market conditions, only the top 5% of the Zacks-covered stocks get a 'Strong Buy' rating and the next 15% get a 'Buy' rating. So, the placement of a stock in the top 20% of the Zacks-covered stocks indicates its superior earnings estimate revision feature, making it a solid candidate for producing market-beating returns in the near term.You can learn more about the Zacks Rank here >>>The upgrade of Omega Therapeutics, Inc. to a Zacks Rank #2 positions it in the top 20% of the Zacks-covered stocks in terms of estimate revisions, implying that the stock might move higher in the near term. Zacks Names "Single Best Pick to Double" From thousands of stocks, 5 Zacks experts each have chosen their favorite to skyrocket +100% or more in months to come. From those 5, Director of Research Sheraz Mian hand-picks one to have the most explosive upside of all. It’s a little-known chemical company that’s up 65% over last year, yet still dirt cheap. With unrelenting demand, soaring 2022 earnings estimates, and $1.5 billion for repurchasing shares, retail investors could jump in at any time. This company could rival or surpass other recent Zacks’ Stocks Set to Double like Boston Beer Company which shot up +143.0% in little more than 9 months and NVIDIA which boomed +175.9% in one year.Free: See Our Top Stock and 4 Runners Up >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Omega Therapeutics, Inc. (OMGA): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksMay 21st, 2022