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Top Physicist Admits "Distant Star" Photo Was Actually Chorizo

Top Physicist Admits "Distant Star" Photo Was Actually Chorizo A French physicist supposedly tweeted an image of a distant star taken by the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), but it turned out to be fake news and nothing more than a slice of chorizo.  Étienne Klein, a prominent physicist and director at France's Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, tweeted an image of a red ball of spicy Spanish sausage last week, asserting it was the closest star to the sun.  "Picture of Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun, located 4.2 light years away from us. It was taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. This level of detail... A new world is unveiled everyday," Klein told his more than 92,000 followers on Sunday.  Photo de Proxima du Centaure, l’étoile la plus proche du Soleil, située à 4,2 année-lumière de nous. Elle a été prise par le JWST. Ce niveau de détails… Un nouveau monde se dévoile jour après jour. pic.twitter.com/88UBbHDQ7Z — Etienne KLEIN (@EtienneKlein) July 31, 2022 The tweet went viral as Twitter users marveled at what they thought was the latest deep space picture taken by JWST.  However, Klein later revealed that the image wasn't a star over four light-years away but just a slice of Spanish sausage chorizo.  "Well, when it's cocktail hour, cognitive bias seem to find plenty to enjoy... Beware of it. According to contemporary cosmology, no object related to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere else other than on Earth," he said.  On Wednesday, Klein apologized for the fake news: "I come to present my apologies to those who may have been shocked by my prank, which had nothing original about it," he said, describing the tweet as a "scientist's joke." He also tweeted an image of the Cartwheel Galaxy taken by JWST, assuring the image was "real this time."  Photo (VRAIE cette fois…) de la galaxie de la Roue du Chariot et de ses galaxies compagnes, prise par le JWST. Située à 500 millions d’années-lumière, elle fut sans doute spirale dans son passé, mais a pris cette étrange allure à la suite d’un furieux carambolage galactique. pic.twitter.com/vmiDjU1Gjt — Etienne KLEIN (@EtienneKlein) August 3, 2022 The timing of Klein's tweet comes several weeks after NASA published the deepest views of the cosmos, a sight no one on Earth had ever seen.  Tyler Durden Fri, 08/05/2022 - 19:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 5th, 2022

Hopkins: The "Unvaccinated" Question (Revisited)

Hopkins: The "Unvaccinated" Question (Revisited) Authored by CJ Hopkins via The Consent Factory, On 1 September, 1941, Chief of Reich Security Reinhard Heydrich, one of the most fanatical, mass-murdering Nazis, issued a now notorious decree ordering Jews above the age of six to wear an identifying badge in public. The Jewish Badge, a yellow Star of David with the word “Jew” inscribed inside the star, was meant to stigmatize and humiliate the Jews and was also used to segregate them and monitor and control their movements. Nothing like that is happening currently, especially not in New Normal Germany. What is happening currently in New Normal Germany is the fascist fanatics in control of the government are rewriting the “Infection Protection Act,” again — as they have been doing repeatedly for the last two years — in order to allow themselves to continue to violate the German constitution (the “Grundgesetz“) and rule the nation by arbitrary decree under the guise of “protecting the public health.” This repeatedly revised “Infection Protection Act” — which has granted the government of New Normal Germany the authority to order lockdowns, curfews, the outlawing of protests against the New Normal, the mandatory wearing of medical-looking masks, the segregation and persecution of “the Unvaccinated,” etc. — is of course in no way remotely comparable to the “Enabling Act of 1933,” which granted the government of Nazi Germany the authority to issue whatever decrees it wanted under the guise of “remedying the distress of the people.” There is absolutely no similarity whatsoever between these two pieces of legislation. I mean, look at this “Autumn/Winter Plan” for the new revision of the “Infection Protection Act,” which will remain in effect from October until Easter, and which government officials and state propagandists (a/k/a the German media) are likening to “snow chain ordinances.” There is absolutely nothing creepily fascistic or remotely Nazi about this plan. Sorry, it’s in German. Allow me to translate. On planes and trains and at the airports and train stations, everyone will be forced to wear doggy-snout masks — i.e., FFP2 “Filtering Face Pieces” as defined by the EN 149 standard — except for the staff of the airports and train stations, and the flight attendants, conductors, etc., who will only be forced to wear “medical-looking masks.” In hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities, everyone, including the staff, will not only be forced to wear the dog-snout masks but they will also be forced to submit to testing, unless they can provide proof of “vaccination” (or recovery, which also means being tested) within the previous three-month period. On the premises of private companies, i.e., offices, factories, warehouses, and so on, the previously rescinded Arbeitsschutzverordnung (“Corona Occupational Safety Ordinance”) — masks, tests, forced “vaccinations,” “social distancing,” plastic barriers, etc. — will go back into effect in October and will remain in effect until the Easter holidays. The individual federal states will be empowered to impose other senseless “restrictions,” like general mask mandates in shops, restaurants, and every other type of “interior spaces,” limits on the number of people who can gather publicly or in their homes, and mandatory masks for kids in schools and testing in kindergartens and daycare facilities. In restaurants, bars, theaters, museums, sports facilities, and pretty much everywhere else in society, the federal states can demand that people show proof of recent “vaccination” or recovery to be exempted from having to wear a mask. OK, allow me to translate again. What that last part means is that anyone who refuses to submit to repeated “vaccination” or testing will be forced to wear a mask in public to identify themselves as “Unvaccinated” (i.e., the New Normal Reich’s official “Untermenschen”). So, OK, maybe it’s a little creepily fascistic and not as non-Nazi as I suggested above. I put it this way in a recent tweet … Needless to say, this could get confusing, as the New Normals are extremely attached to their masks, which they’ve been wearing — like Nazis wore swastika lapel pins — to publicly signal their “solidarity” (i.e., mindless conformity to the new official ideology) for going on the last two and half years. And now the masks will function like the “Jewish Badges” with the Star of David that the Nazis forced the Jews to wear, except on public transportation, and planes and trains, unless the federal states decide to force everyone to wear masks everywhere, in which case … well, you get the general idea. Still, the fact that everyone will have to present their “vaccination papers” (or their “recovery papers”) to enter a restaurant, or a bar, or go to the cinema or the theater, and, basically, to do anything else in society, should make up for the mask confusion. I mean, what kind of a fascist society would it be if you didn’t have to show your “papers” to some beady-eyed goon to get a cup of coffee? Now, before you report me to the BfV, i.e., Germany’s federal domestic intelligence agency, for “relativizing the Holocaust” and “delegitimizing the democratic state,” both of which are crimes here in Germany, I want to say, again, for the record, that I do not advocate using the yellow Star of David to protest the New Normal (as in the photo in the tweet above). I think it is foolish, and counterproductive. The New Normal has nothing to do with the Holocaust, or the Jews, or even Nazism per se. But let’s be clear about what’s happening in Germany. What is happening is, a new official ideology is being imposed on society. It is being imposed on society by force. And now, those of us who refuse to conform to it will be ordered to walk around in public wearing visible symbols of our non-conformity. I’m sorry, but the parallels are undeniable. This new official ideology has nothing to do with a respiratory virus or any other public health threat. At this point, I do not have to repeat this argument. The majority of countries around the world have finally rescinded their “emergency measures” and acknowledged the facts that we “conspiracy theorists” have been citing for the past two and a half years, and that we have been relentlessly demonized and censored for citing. Not even Germany’s recent independent evaluation of its “Corona Measures” could produce any evidence supporting their effectiveness. Seriously, the New Normal German authorities are basing their claim for the efficacy of mask mandates on “the Golden Syrian Hamster Model.” (You probably think I’m joking, but I’m not.) And Karl Lauterbach, the fanatical Minister of Health, has openly stated that forcing “the Unvaccinated” to wear masks in public is a “motivation” tactic to harass them into following orders and submitting to a “vaccination” that even the German government now admits has killed or seriously injured tens of thousands of people, at minimum, in Germany. No, this new official ideology, the New Normal — which is still very much in effect in places like Germany, China, Canada, Australia, New York, California, etc. — is nakedly, undeniably, purely ideological. It is based, not on facts, but belief. It is a belief system, as is every other ideology. It is essentially no different than an official religion … one which demonizes and persecutes all other religions, and non-religions, and all other belief systems. According to this new official belief system, those of us who maintain different beliefs, and refuse to convert to the new official beliefs (or pretend to convert to the new official beliefs), are dangerous, foreign elements in society. And thus, from now on, in New Normal Germany, we will be forced to wear a visible symbol of our different beliefs (our “otherness”) in public, so that the authorities and the Good German masses will be able to identify us. Is any of this sounding vaguely familiar? I’m fairly certain that someone will read this (and see the tweets I included above) and report me for “relativizing the Holocaust.” For the record, I am not “relativizing the Holocaust.” I’m comparing one totalitarian system to another. Yes, Nazi Germany and New Normal Germany are two very different totalitarian systems, and I have outlined their essential differences and similarities, but, come on, this is not that fucking hard. In Nazi Germany, the Jews were the scapegoats. In New Normal Germany, it’s “the Unvaccinated.” How much more blatant does it have to get before people stop pretending that this isn’t what it is? Do the authorities have to literally put us in camps? How many more people have to die or be seriously injured by “vaccinations” they did not need but were forced to submit to? I’m not talking to the New Normals now, nor to the people who have been fighting this all along. I’m talking to the people who see what is happening, and are horrified by what is happening, but, for whatever reasons, have refused to speak out … and, yes, I know there are very good reasons. Some of you have families to support, and careers to protect, and, seriously, I get it. But how far does it have to go? At what point do you feel you have to speak out regardless of the personal and professional consequences? Maybe take some time and meditate on that. Oh, and here’s a little visual aid that might help folks with their meditations. It’s some graffiti that someone painted on the wall of a courtyard here in New Normal Germany, in the Autumn of 2021, I think. I posted it back then, but it didn’t make much of an impression. Perhaps it will make one now. I’ll translate. It reads “GAS THE UNVACCINATED.” Tyler Durden Mon, 08/08/2022 - 02:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 8th, 2022

NASA"s James Webb Space Telescope captured a side view of a galaxy that "photobombed" a planetary nebula

The telescope, which is 100 times more powerful than Hubble, caught a side view of a far-flung galaxy behind a cloud of gas fed by a dying star. The Southern Ring Nebula taken by JWST's Nircam (left) and by MIRI (right)Paola Rosa-Aquino/NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI The James Webb Space Telescope's infrared gaze revealed a sharp image of the Southern Ring Nebula — and a galaxy behind it. On Tuesday, NASA released the deepest, clearest infrared images of the universe ever captured.  JWST's first year of science operations, studying distant stars and galaxies, began last weekend. NASA released two images on Tuesday, which the James Webb Space Telescope captured of the Southern Ring Nebula, an enormous cloud of dust and gas 2,000 light-years away from Earth.Webb's infrared gaze, which helps it peer through the nebula's cosmic dust, also revealed something that hadn't been seen before: a side view of a faraway galaxy lurking in the background of the photo.The blueish streak in this close-up image of the Southern Ring Nebula is an edge-on galaxy.Paola Rosa-Aquino/NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI"I made a bet that said 'It's part of the nebula,'" said Karl Gordon, a NASA astronomer, during the image reveal. "I lost the bet, because then we looked more carefully at both Nircam and MIRI images, and it's very clearly an edge-on galaxy." Because Webb is viewing the galaxy's edge, it appears like a long, blueish thin line in the upper left of the image. When seen from this perspective, astronomers can study how stars are distributed throughout a galaxy. Webb scientists have yet to provide additional information about the galaxy that photobombed the Southern Ring Nebula. "Wow. Wow. This. This near infrared image is — wow," Alex Lockwood, a project scientist, said as she shared the nebula's two new images on Tuesday.The Southern Ring Nebula, captured by Webb in mid-infrared light, spawned by the remains of a dying star.NASA, ESA, CSA, STScIOften described as the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, Webb launched on December 25, 2021, after more than two decades of development. Since that time, the $10 billion telescope has traveled more than 1 million miles from Earth and is now stationed in a gravitationally stable orbit, collecting infrared light. By gathering infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye, Webb is able to cut through cosmic dust and see far into the past, to the first 400 million years after the Big Bang.In order to showcase the telescope's capabilities and show the telescope is finally up and running, NASA debuted its first batch of full-color images. The powerful telescope captured two separate views of the Southern Ring Nebula, both in mid-infrared and near-infrared light.The Southern Ring, or "Eight-Burst'' nebula, is a vivid shell of gas and dust expelled into space by a dying star."As the star is dying, in its last dying throes, it starts to shake. It pulsates. And at the end of that, poof, it comes out," Klaus Pontoppidan, JWST's project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, told reporters after unveiling the images. "So you see what the star did just before it created this planetary nebula. I find it fascinating because it's like geological layers, and you can see the history of its last moments."Hubble's image of the Southern Ring Nebula (left) has just one light at its center, whereas JWST (right) clearly shows two stars.The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA/NASA); NASA, ESA, CSA, STScIThe new imagery not only shows that dying star in greater detail, but also revealed a second star, gravitationally bound to it, which was previously shrouded from view. Astronomers said studying the once hidden stars in detail will help them understand how they shape the gas and dust cloud.Over the weekend, JWST's team started its first year of normal science operations. "Today, the Webb mission is open for scientific business," Michelle Thaller, assistant director of science communication at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said, adding, "And the best is yet to come."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 12th, 2022

The 47 best things we bought on Amazon under $25, from a mini waffle maker to a TikTok-famous ring light

We compiled a list of our favorite budget gifts and things to buy on Amazon under $25, including handy kitchen tools, beauty products, and more. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.We compiled a list of our favorite budget gifts and things to buy on Amazon under $25, including handy kitchen tools, beauty products, and more.Amazon;Jacqueline Saguin/InsiderAmazon has not only become a one-stop shop for its variety of products, but it's also where many shoppers go for affordable household items and gifts. The retailer has a huge selection of household names, low prices, and plenty of things that qualify for Prime's handy two-day (or two-hour) shipping.But such a huge selection can make it time-consuming to root out what's really worth spending your money on. The best loophole is to seek out recommendations from people you trust. Our colleagues at Insider Reviews research and test thousands of products to recommend to you. We asked them for the best things they've bought on Amazon for under $25, from incredibly useful kitchen gadgets and tech devices to creative gifts that don't break the bank.Below are the 47 best things we bought on Amazon that cost us less than $25:A set of silk pillowcasesAmazonBedsure Standard Satin Pillowcases (Set of 2), $9.99Silk pillowcases are game-changing products for your beauty sleep. They offer premium care as silk pillowcases leave skin hydrated and hair undamaged. Better yet, silk pillowcases feature a soft texture and elevate any bedroom decor toward an elegant taste. —Taylor JeffriesA mini waffle-maker that gets the job done and takes up minimal countertop spaceAmazonDash Mini Waffle Maker, $13.59This teeny-tiny waffle maker is a small but mighty gift. For those rare instances when I'm craving a waffle or two, this very small appliance easily gets the job done and stays out of the way when it's stored. It's very easy to use and clean; just plug in and wait for the light, add your batter and close the iron. To clean, wait for the iron to cool down, then wipe with a damp cloth and you're done. — Melanie Winer A stylish and comfortable knit beanieAmazon/Business InsiderCarhartt Acrylic Watch Hat, $19.99I've noticed Carhartt beanies have become increasingly popular and I finally jumped on the bandwagon. This beanie is cute, comfortable, and super warm. I got it in black so it would go with almost anything and I've been wearing it nonstop since I got it. —Victoria GracieA cult-famous natural clay maskJacqueline Saguin/InsiderAztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask, $14.95This mask, as seen on Insider, transformed my skin and is probably my most recommended product to gift this season. The best part? It's $15! — Chelsey HoffmanHangers that actually keep your clothes hung upJacqueline Saguin/InsiderAmazon Basics Velvet Non-Slip Suit Hangers (30 pack), $20.99Clothes falling off hangers are a thing of the past once you gift these grippy velvet hangers to upgrade their closet. — Ellen Hoffman A pair of $15 earbuds that sound like they'd cost way moreAmazonPanasonic ErgoFit Earbuds, $14.97These Panasonic earbuds were easily the best $8.25 [price at the time] I ever spent on Amazon. The sound quality is fantastic and they're incredibly comfortable. I'm not someone who would ever spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of over-the-ear headphones, so these are exactly a budget-friendly gift. — Andrew MeolaA plastic bath drain coverAmazonSlipX Solutions Bottomless Bath Overflow Drain Cover, $7.99Ok, I know everyone and their mother raves about this, but it's the only thing allowing me to take baths in my current apartment. Our clawfoot tub is from the early 20th century and if I don't cover the overflow drain, my bathtub only accommodates enough water to barely reach the top of my thighs before it starts draining — not a very pleasant or relaxing bath. This little plastic overflow drain cover lets me soak deeply and comfortably in my tub. —Lauren SavoiePimple patches that suck the gunk right out of your poresLeft: Mighty Patch Original. Right: Invisible+ Mighty Patch.Mara Leighton/InsiderHero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Original (36-count), $12.99If you look at my Amazon history, these pimple patches are the only thing I consistently order. They're super effective at drawing out fluids from pimples and helping them deflate, and as small, virtually clear stickers, they're hardly noticeable by other people. Within a few hours, you can expect them to noticeably improve the look and swelling of your pimple — they're that reliable. — Connie ChenA two-in-one workout bra tankJacqueline Saguin/InsiderLemedy Padded Sports Bra Tank Top, $18,99I've found some of my favorite workout pieces from Amazon. This two-in-one sports bra tank has a smoothing material that rivals luxury activewear fabrics that you may gift this season. Its cropped cut meets high-waisted leggings for a flattering fit. Plus, it comes in 19 fun colors. —Jacqueline SaguinA rapid egg cooking machine that's completely foolproofAmazonDash Rapid Egg Cooker, $19.95After I read Jen Gushue's review of this under-$20 rapid egg cooking gadget, I was fully influenced to buy it. It makes hard-boiled eggs in half the time of traditional methods with absolutely no guesswork, saving me a good chunk of time during the week and ensuring I actually eat breakfast on busy mornings. — Ellen HoffmanSpiral hair ties that won't breakKitschKitsch Spiral Hair Ties, $7.19After using elastic hair ties for so long, I got tired of pulling out my hair, getting headaches, and snapping scrunchies. I had seen spiral hair ties before but assumed they wouldn't hold well. However, these ones from Kitsch really do the trick. They keep their shape, are comfortable, and avoid long-lasting ponytail bumps. I wear these with high ponytails, low ponytails, and even braids. —Katie Decker-JacobyA convenient Bluetooth charging port for your carAmazonAnker Roav Bluetooth FM Transmitter, $16.99My car is from 2005, long before Bluetooth connectivity in cars was standard. This little transmitter instantly brought my car up to present-day standards, letting me stream music and directions from my phone via an open radio channel. It plugs into the cigarette lighter and even has two USB ports so my husband and I can both charge our phones on long rides. It cost less than $15 and gifting this device will make your driving experience infinitely more enjoyable. —Lauren SavoieA milk frother for homemade treatsAmazonPowerLix MilkPro Milk Frother, $15.95This gift is the BOMB. So easy to use and clean, and to spice up my weekend coffees/matcha drinks at home, allowing me to live my best bougie life. — Kirstie JiongcoA little 'Tub Shroom' that catches your hair before it clogs the drainAmazonTubShroom Revolutionary Tub Drain Protector, $12.99Between her curly red hair and my long brown hair, my roommate and I shed a lot. Our tub doesn't have a drain catch and after a particularly effortful session with a plastic drain cleaner, I decided it was finally time to try this viral hair catcher out. This small silicone tool fits into most standard tub drains and collects all the hair before it washes down and clogs your drain. Take it out, remove the hair with a piece of toilet paper, and it's ready for the next shower."  — Connie Chen A ring light that pulls out all the stopsJacqueline Saguin/InsiderAIXPI 10-inch LED Ring Light, $17.99I took a cue from our Insider Reviews team by gifting myself its pick for the best budget ring light. It has made my job on the style and beauty reviews team much easier, drastically cutting down on my photo-taking time. When I test makeup and clothing, I can set this up anywhere and adjust it to the angle I need in order to do my products justice. I love changing between its three different light settings: white, warm yellow, and warm white, to find the perfect glow. —Jacqueline SaguinA set of durable hair clipsAmazonTOCESS Big Hair Claw Clips, $11.99I have really long hair and most clips can't hold it all back when I'm washing my face. These oversized clips are so great that I gifted the other three in this set to friends with crazy curly hair. All four of the matte colors are very lowkey and match everything. I've dropped mine at least two dozen times, and it has yet to break. —Rachael SchultzDelicious coffee groundsSally Kaplan/InsiderCafe Du Monde Coffee Chicory, $8.12I usually abide by a time-consuming pour-over routine that involves grinding my own beans every morning, but when I'm short on time (and honestly, even when I'm not), I've come to rely heavily on this Cafe Du Monde chicory coffee. Most pre-ground coffee is flavorless and brews a weak cup, but this stuff is strong, rich, and delicious. Ten out of ten, highly recommend gifting this to a coffee lover! —Sally KaplanA ring that holds your nail polishAmazonTweexy Wearable Nail Polish Holder Ring, $9.99For the manicure-obsessed friend, this nail care gift is something they'll absolutely need. The wearable nail polish holder allows you to flawlessly polish your nails without bothersome spills. —Taylor JeffriesA cheesy powder that takes popcorn to the next levelSally Kaplan/InsiderHoosier Hill Farm Cheddar Cheese Powder,$14.99I generally eat pretty healthy, but I think I'm in love with this tub of powdered cheese. It's so good on popcorn, in mac and cheese, and sprinkled on any other sort of cracker, chip, etc. It's a supremely cheesy and salty and delicious treat to gift! This is honestly one of the best Amazon purchases I've made in years. —Sally KaplanA hairbrush that won't break after a few monthsWetWet Brush Rubberized Wet Detangle Shower Brush, $6.50My thick hair has a long history of eating brushes, but the Wet Brush finally put a stop to that! It painlessly smooths out tangles and the bristles are tough enough that I only have to buy a new one every year or so. Before, my brushes only ever made it a few months. — Ashley PhillipsA sweet-smelling scrub for sensitive skinJacqueline Saguin/InsiderBrooklyn Botany Brown Sugar Body Scrub, $13.99Face and body scrubs make me nervous because of my sensitive skin, but this brown sugar exfoliator combines natural ingredients like sweet almond oil that are nourishing and gentler than other formulas. I typically use it on my body before I shave or before I apply self-tanner. It's comforting knowing that whenever I run out I can get it in just a couple of days. —Jacqueline SaguinIngredients for a favorite recipeAmazonNatierra Nature's Organic Freeze-Dried Strawberries, $10.93I buy a lot of recipe ingredients, spices, and hot sauces on Amazon that I'm less likely to find in stores near me, like these freeze-dried strawberries. They are the star ingredient in my Berry Crinkle Cookies recipe; I use one whole package per batch. — Ellen Hoffman No-slip gel gripped socksAmazonPeds Microfiber Liner Socks, $10.09These PEDS socks are the only ones I use, and I wear sneakers almost every day. The no-slip gel grips on the heel keep them from falling off and bunching up. — Sally KaplanAn iPad case that is multi-functionalAmazonESR Rebound Pencil Case, $17.99I needed a simple case for my new iPad Air 4 but was shocked by how much Apple charges for one of its cases. This option from ESR is a fraction of Apple's Smart Cover, and while it doesn't have as nice of a build as the Smart Cover, the ESR case is well-made nonetheless. It has a magnetic closure to wake the iPad's screen or put it to sleep, the cover folds into a stand, and there's a convenient slot for an Apple Pencil. My only complaint is that the case makes it hard to use the Touch ID sensor, but I'm quite satisfied given the price and overall usability. —Les ShuA handy dough scraperAmazonLasenersm Two-Piece Dough Scraper, $5.99If they bake a lot, do them a favor and gift a pack of these plastic bench scrapers. They're great for scraping dough out of bowls or off the counter — I can't tell you how handy they are! —Sally KaplanFuzzy slippers to complete your work-from-home lookJacqueline Saguin/InsiderEhoomely Womens Fuzzy Slippers, $6.64I've been hearing about these Amazon slippers for months — from TikTok, Instagram, and podcasts I listen to — so I had to give them a try. These slippers are comfy, just warm enough, and a perfect gift for working from home. The quality is also great for being under $20. An added bonus is that they come in almost any color you can imagine! —Victoria GracieA PopSocket to make gripping a large iPhone less strenuous on your fingersJacqueline Saguin/InsiderPopSockets PopGrip, from $9.49When I got my iPhone X, I also picked up a PopSocket grip to make it easier to hold my phone without straining my fingers. I love it as a gift because it's practical, keeps one's phone secure, and lets me express my crazy cat lady side. — Malarie GokeyA liquid cleanser that works as a gentle hand soap for sensitive skinAmazonFree & Clear Liquid Cleanser, $7.99I bought this as an alternative to my household's Bath & Body Works hand soap stock. Its fragrance-free, sulfate-free, and dermatologist-tested formula please my sensitive skin. This straightforward cleanser gift never causes redness or irritation for frequent hand washers like me. I pour the liquid into a decorative holder so it matches my bathroom. — Jacqueline SaguinA bright collar for nighttime dog walkersAmazonMASBRILL Light Up Dog Collar, $16.99During evening adventures with my pups, this LED collar from Masbrill makes it simple to keep track of my pets. Whether out camping or just trying to spot my dog out of dozens at the park, this light-up collar is highly visible in the dark, making my job a lot easier. —Sarah SarilA satisfying foot peel maskAmazonCÉLOR Foot Peel Mask, $9.97Ok, I know these things are all over the internet, but this winter is the perfect time to gift one of these viral foot peels. It took about five days for my feet to start peeling after using it, but it was so satisfying in a really gross, but fascinating sort of way. The end result was that my feet looked and felt softer, but I have to say that the process was all part of the fun. —Lauren SavoieA deck of tarot cardsLauren Savoie/InsiderDa Brigh Original Tarot Cards Deck, $19.95I'm not into the occult, but this deck of tarot cards has bought me endless hours of fun with my friends and insights for journaling. On days I don't feel inspired to write in my journal, I pull a card and reflect on whatever feelings it brings up. —Lauren SavoieA quick-drying styling brushJacqueline Saguin/InsiderWet Volume & Body Round Brush, $14.64Some may think a blow dryer does all the work, but a round brush makes all the difference. Replacing the $5 styling brush I've owned far past its use, the Wet Round Brush completely revived my hair routine. It grips onto large hair sections and helps dry my entire head in 10 minutes, making it a great haircare product to gift. Knowing it's on Amazon, I'll definitely be gifting myself this brush more frequently. —Jacqueline SaguinThis handy water bottle that takes the guesswork out of hydrationAmazonCactaki 32 oz Water Bottle with Time Marker, $19.95This water bottle comes with me everywhere I go. The secure lid ensures no spillage in my bag and the removable strap adds versatility in transportation. The printed tracking is the main selling point as a quick glance can let me know how I am doing with my daily water intake and if needed motivate me to ensure I am drinking at least 64oz of water per day. In a sense, this water bottle has gamified drinking water and that's fun for a gift! — Frank MassaroEspresso capsules that satisfy your coffee fixAmazonilly Coffee iperEspresso Capsule (Classico), $18.49The majority of my Amazon order history is made up of these illy espresso capsules, and the orders have even been way more frequent since I started working from home. You'll need one of the illy pod machines to use them (I have the X7) but the investment is 110% worth it in my opinion.I can whip up an Italian espresso in under a minute, and it tastes so much better than the coffee from the Nespresso and Keurig machines I previously owned. Being able to buy the pods off of Amazon means my caffeine supply is always well-stocked, and if I ever do run out, I know I can get more in just two days max. —Ashley PhillipsA wash and stain bar that will keep your shirt collars looking nicer for longerAmazonThe Laundress Wash & Stain Bar, $6.18No $6 has had a more positive impact on my effort to preserve my clothing than the $6 I spent on this bar by The Laundress. I learned about this product from editor-in-chief Ellen Hoffman and I can honestly say it's the best thing I've done for my dress shirts. One bar has lasted me well over a year, and I just need to wet my shirt collar and rub the bar back and forth a few times before washing. It gets rid of all of the grime and oil from my collars. I was able to rehab shirts that were ready to go to charity or become rags. — Breton FischettiAn inexpensive, well-designed measuring cupAmazonOXO Good Grips 3-Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set, $23.95OXO is my go-to kitchen brand for cheap, well-designed tools. This measuring cup set has an angled surface that allows you to see measurement markings from above as you're pouring, so you can better measure ingredients without bending or lifting the cup to eye level. I also highly recommend gifting OXO's silicone baking mat for creating a non-stick surface that makes for easier cleanups and this cookie scoop for scooping out balls of dough that are all the same size. — Ellen Hoffman Comfortable, public-friendly sweatpantsAmazonSweatyRocks Women's Drawstring Striped Joggers, $12.99As work from home continues, I've been looking for more sweatpants that I can comfortably work in that are also appropriate for walks and socially distant plans. These sweats are affordable to gift, have sustained washes and all-day wear, and the rainbow stripe down the side adds a bit of fun. — Emily HeinA low-profile whiteboard for your fridgeAmazonOfficeline Dry Erase Board, $14.99I was looking for a solid whiteboard to use for shopping lists, chores, and meal planning in my kitchen. The Officeline Dry Erase Board keeps it simple: it's thin, securely attaches, and wipes clean as promised. It comes with a set of markers and a small eraser too, so your giftee won't need any extra items to get started. —Sarah SarilA three-photo picture frameAmazonThree-Photo Collage Frame, $15.95I bought a set of three 4x6 "realistic bird" prints and they fit into this three-photo frame perfectly. It's the finest art I own. — Julia PugachevskyEarring organization that protects them from dust and looks cuteAmazonAutoark Ice Velvet Earring Organizer, $18.99I wear a lot of studs, and it's hard to find cute display storage for my earrings. Not only is the Autoark Ice Velvet Earring Organizer good at storing my jewelry, but it's also nice to keep on display. It's low profile too, so it sits pleasantly on any vanity or dresser. —Sarah SarilA cute tea infuserAmazonGenuine Fred Duck Drink Tea Infuser, $13.60Tea time becomes a whimsical affair with this charming tea infuser. The duck-shaped infuser is a perfect gift for the tea lover looking for an additional delight. —Taylor JeffriesAffordable jewelry that lets you save up for an investment pieceAmazonBBTO Layered Choker Necklace (9-piece set), $11.59I love chokers and layering different necklaces together, but I have a short attention span when it comes to jewelry. I tend to lean more towards affordable jewelry that I can experiment with on different looks before committing to staple pieces that I know I'll wear forever. This choker set was a great addition to my summer looks, and now I have more of an idea of what I'm looking for when I eventually take the plunge on long-wear jewelry. — Emily HeinA hair mask that restores moisture to your scalpAmazonShiseido Tsubaki Premium Repair Hair Mask, $15.68I was looking for hair masks because my hair tends to get really dry in the wintertime. I bought this hair mask after doing some research on Asian hair products, and I'm so glad I did. My hair feels soft and moisturized after I use it, even if I just use it as a normal conditioner. It works even better as a leave-in deep conditioner, and I highly recommend gifting it to anyone who wants to add moisture to their hair. Bonus: It also smells amazing. —Allison JiangA decorative antique tray that shows off and stores your beauty productsAmazonZosenley Polyresin Ellipse Antique Decorative Mirror Tray, $13.99This tray is an aesthetically pleasing stage that doubles as decor and a proud home for my cosmetics. I use it in my bathroom, storing the skincare products and perfume I reach for every day. I've seen people using it on TikTok as a jewelry vanity to display their favorite pieces. —Jacqueline SaguinA punny dog toyAmazonBark Bros Hot Sauce Bottle Dog Toy, $14.99My friends recently adopted a dog named Pepper, so a hot sauce-themed toy seemed like a mandatory gift. I liked the Cholulua pun (other strong contenders were "Tabarkso" and "Bark BQ Sauce") and the toy even comes with a little squeaker inside. Apparently, it's become a favorite of Pepper's! — Julia PugachevskyA practical but chic wine holderAmazonUrban Deco Honeycomb Wine Rack, $25.99I wanted a non-bulky wine rack to sit on my kitchen counter, and I love the simple style of this one. This honeycomb design holds seven bottles officially, but nine if you add two on top — and if you need more storage, you can buy two and stack them. —Rachael SchultzAn elegant scented candleAmazonVoluspa Nissho Soleil Candle, $24I love Voluspa candles, from their balanced scents themselves to the packaging. I sent one of these to a friend for her birthday recently and it conveniently arrived a few days earlier (I didn't know she was going out of town to celebrate, so it was nice that she was still able to get it in time). — Julia PugachevskyRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 5th, 2022

What Putin destroyed: Ukrainians share their last photo of normal life before Russia made their country a war zone

Ukrainians shared photos capturing the last poignant moments before the war began on February 24, and their lives changed forever. Photos of life in Ukraine before the war broke outSupplied Ukrainians sent Insider reporters their last 'normal' photos, taken just before the war broke out.  The images show coffee dates, happy newborns, and beloved pets they left behind.  They told Insider how distant their former lives now feel.  Images of Ukraine are now of ruined cities, shell-shocked refugees, and burned-out tanks.For 44 million Ukrainians, this 'new world' quickly erased the lives they had up until February 24, when they awoke to the nightmare of Russia's invasion of their homeland.Only memories captured in the last photos of babies, plane journeys, beloved pets, and happy selfies remain of what their country, their daily lives, and their dreams once were.Ukrainians, many now made refugees by Russia's invasion, shared poignant images of their final moments before the war broke out with Insider reporters.Last supperA Ukrainian family enjoys a pizza supper before the war broke out.SuppliedNiko from Kharkiv shared this photo of his family, enjoying one of life's great pleasures: pizza. "This is is the last photo before the war. In this photo, I'm on the left, my wife is on the left, in the middle is my brother, his wife, and two of his sons."We don't eat pizza anymore and don't sleep well either. We have been on the road for three weeks now and just found a place to live."Here we come to our senses: tired, nervous, stressed, no money, and very sad. We hide from every loud sound. But we are whole, and this is very pleasing."A change of perspectiveSofia wrote "nothing really matters" in her calendar after a bad day on February 23. Now she admits she couldn't have been more wrong.Sofia MSofia M. fled Mykolaiv with her mother earlier this month."On the 23 of February, I wrote this phrase in my calendar because when I came back from the institute I felt really sad, though I had no reason for being sad yet!" she said. "Our lives have changed a lot after the evening this picture was taken."This quote says that 'nothing really matters,' but it appeared to be wrong. Many things actually matter – like knowing you and your family live in peace and quiet. The things I cared about before had no sense to me now. All the 'problems' disappeared. Now I see what is really important."The last dateNikita (right) and Kristina (left) at Kherson airport, the day before it was destroyed.SuppliedNikita met his girlfriend Kristina, who studies art in Vienna, in Kyiv airport, On February 22. They are both 21-years-old.The next day, they arrived at their hometown Kherson. They were very happy to reconnect and are having coffee.On February 24, Kherson airport and bridges were destroyed, cutting them out from the outside world.  War babyOlesya lives in Kyiv with her baby, born 39 days before the war began.SuppliedThese photos show Olesya from Kyiv with her baby girl. The photo was taken a week before the war started.A little over two months old, the newborn has lived nearly half her life as a war baby. An artist who had to abandon her artXenija Curly worked as a concert photographer and artist in Kyiv.Xenija CurlyXenija Curly was a concert photographer and artist living in Kyiv. Now, her life is just "one backpack and a cat," she told Insider. "Before the war, my home was a studio, I'm an artist and a concert photographer, and I had to leave it all. I took my film cameras with me, but I couldn't take any art supplies. "I am still trying to get any news from my city, but it is not promising. Russians loot homes and leave behind mines." I don't know how, when, or what I will come back to if I will. I have questioned myself lately about it. Coming back to a place you left with fire in a sky and bombing sounds won't be easy. I won't ever feel safe there.The thought of something that could happen at any moment will haunt me. I already let go of all the stuff I had. I mean material stuff. It's most likely gone. No one can really update me on my apartment because it's too dangerous."Cafe cultureFrom Oleksii Rozanov, 28, showing his old life in Dnipro.Oleksii RozanovOleksii Rozanov shared these photos with Insider, showing his routine, which — like many — revolves around the cafe.The image on the left "reminds me about the days when I could meet with friends for dinner, and we could chat about plans for future vacations, discuss stuff like cars, movies, games, and stories from our lives. It also reminds me about romantic evenings with wine and pizza and how simple things were before the war," he said.Rozanov said the photo of the coffee cup "represents calmness and my daily ritual of drinking coffee at my favorite place in Dnipro. It also means coziness for me because when I look at it, I remember how I felt safe and calm during rainy weather and knowing that tomorrow there will be a peaceful day and clear sky."When I get home, my safe space will be waiting for me where I can relax with a book or a movie. The soft and sweet taste on my lips also reminds me about childhood and how calm it was." A drink with friends, in a building that is now destroyedA selfie of Igor with a friend in a mall in Kherson. It has since burned to the ground.Supplied Igor, aged 20, said, "these are photos from the pub which was located in the now-burned down mall," in Russian-occupied Kherson.Igor told Insider's Erin Snodgrass and Havovi Cooper, that food warehouses in the southern city are nearly depleted and looters are beaten in the street. He also described how he found a dead body in the street, lying next to a Russian tank.Last flight to KyivOne of the last commercial planes to land in Kyiv, and Maria and her boyfriend had to leave the country a day later.Maria RomanenkoMaria Romanenko sent these photos to Insider, showing her flight back home to Kyiv. One day later, they had to flee the country."My boyfriend Jez and I have just landed in Kyiv from Gdańsk on the morning of February 23. What we didn't know is that this would turn out to be one of the last few flights that were allowed to land in Ukraine."Upon our landing, Ukraine announced a state of emergency and, a couple of hours later, there were reports that something heavy would be happening in Kyiv overnight. Jez and I packed our bags and went to my Dad's place for the night — some 27 km away from central Kyiv, where I rent an apartment. The next morning, my boyfriend woke me up at 7 am to tell me that Russia had started an all-out war against Ukraine."He's British and was desperate to get out of Ukraine as soon as possible, so I followed him: first toward the west of Ukraine and then into Poland. Crossing the border took us 40 hours altogether. Now we're in the U.K. together and are safe, but my family and friends remain in Ukraine." StreetlifeAntonovycha Street in Kyiv.Valentyn DesiatnykValentyn Desiatnyk recalled his street in Kyiv. Once bustling, it's now desolate. "That's Monday the 21st of February, my native street in Kyiv. Antonovycha str. This street used to have hard traffic during peak hours. This boulevard was always full of people with dogs. Right now, there are two or three cars parked in the whole 500m. In the evening, there are no street lights," he said. Ukraine's capital was once home to almost three million people. It is now deserted. Many have fled Putin's invasion or are spending much of their lives hiding out in bunkers to escape Russian shelling. Planning for warKyiv restaurant owner Sorina Seitveliiev took this photo of an article about 'what to do in case of war' published in a local newspaper.Sorina SeitveliievThis image shows how Sorina Seitveliiev, a Ukrainian restaurant owner from Kyiv who fled to Turkey, described how she tried to deal with the reality that war was imminent."The week before, we were actually preparing for war. Once I heard that special trains were bringing Russian soldiers to the border with Ukraine, we got really scared. We sent the kids to Turkey, and I took this photo in Privatbank on Khreshiatik Street, thinking we should also put it in our restaurant."We discussed with the restaurant managers what should be done. But we did it all half-heartedly. We couldn't believe something like this could ever happen."Goodbye friendTerry Bass shared a photo of his dog, Carmela.Terry BassTerry Bass, an American chef who had cooked for Ukrainian soldiers and said he saw Russian forces 'shooting at homes and hospitals' in Odesa, sent Insider this photo of his dog. "This is my dog Carmela in our apartment in Odessa. I had no choice but to leave her with friends in the war zone and flee myself."He told Insider this shot was taken just hours before the first explosions hit the city.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 20th, 2022

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From "Insurrection" To Authoritarianism

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From 'Insurrection' To Authoritarianism Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: dbc6@cornell.edu, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. ~  Carl Sagan, 1995, apparently having invented a time machine Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Read Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives here... Read Part 2 - Heart Of Darkness & The Rise Of Centralized Healthcare here... So, here we are at the third and final part of the 2021 Year in Review and it’s no longer 2021. Sorry about that pfuck-up. Think of it as not in 2021 but from 2021. You may have noticed that the first 200 pages (parts 1 and 2) were laced with a recurring catchphrase, “WTF is happening?” It was a literary device for noting that the events ceased to make sense within a conventional worldview, suggesting it is time to torch the old model and start anew. Our response to a disease that was killing a very small slice of the population was to sequester and vaccinate the entire population with an experimental drug of real but unquantified fatality rate. The apparent scientific illiteracy was not some mass psychosis. Y’all just got suckered by America’s Most Trusted Psychopathic Mass Murderer assisted by an epic media blitz sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry that had a distinct authoritarian quality. Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ~ Albert Einstein During the brief period after uploading part 2 while grinding on this last portion, the Supreme Court took on the vaccine mandate issue, ruling that the only people forfeiting control of their own healthcare are the healthcare workersref 2 The court also illustrated their profound ignorance of the pandemic and what they were even charged to assess—the Constitutionality of mandates, not the efficacy.ref 3 The CEO of a major insurer reported a 40% spike in fatalities within the 18–65 age bracket that was not from Covid.ref 4 He said 10% would be a 3-sigma, once-every-200-year event: 40% is unheard of. Although he refrained from identifying a cause—deaths of despair, neglected healthcare, or a toxic vaccine—he knows precisely what did them in. They have been studying this stuff for centuries. I suspect his real message was that the insurance industry is about to contribute to inflation with rising premiums. Meanwhile, the pathological liars running the covid grift decided after two years the masks you’ve been wearing served no medical purpose and that the vaccines don’t work either. Wait: who said the masks and vaccines don’t work? We have known for many months that COVID-19 is airborne and therefore, a simple cloth mask is not going to cut it…Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. ~ Leana Wen, MD, CNN medical expert with no admitted ties to the CCPref 5 Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection, if any. Three doses with a booster offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Less protection against infection. ~ Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEOref 6 Here is my most heartfelt response to them: You psychopathic lying sacks of shit. You had us wear rags across our faces and put rags across the kids’ faces when clinical studies that could be read by people with half your IQs showed they were worthless. Suicide rates and other deaths of despair soared while you petty tyrants played your little games and generated billions of dollars of profits while destroying the middle class. You have maimed or killed an unknown number of gullible victims with your lockdowns, vaccines, remdesivir, and oppression of Ivermectin. You jammed a vaccine that bypassed animal trials into the fetuses of pregnant women, assuring them it was safe. If we spoke up, we got muzzled. If we refused the vaccine, we got fired. You should all hang from your necks until dead. I will piss on your graves. I feel better already. Very refreshing. Meanwhile, many of my friends and colleagues look at the same data and say, “Oh. I guess I better get the booster and a KN95 mask.” You have got to unfuck yourselves. You’ve been duped. It will get worse. The tactics used to oppress us would have made Stalin smirk. Australia was a beta test for what is to come in the rest of the west if we don’t wake up soon. They are gonna keep coming for one simple reason: we accepted it. We got bent over and squealed like pigs. What normalization does is transform the morally extraordinary into the ordinary. It makes us able to tolerate what was once intolerable by making it seem as if this is the way things have always been. ~ Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works A person is considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ by the community simply because he accepts most of its social standards and behavioral patterns; which means, in fact, that he is susceptible to suggestion and has been persuaded to go with the majority on most ordinary or extraordinary occasions. ~ William Sargant, in Battle of the Mind Meanwhile, the financial world became even more dominated by central bankers who haven’t the slightest understanding of free-market capitalism. These twits or criminals—maybe both—have blown the most colossal bubble in history if you account for both price and breadth across the spectrum of asset classes. For the layperson, that means they have set us up for a colossal failure. Go back and re-read Valuations if you cannot picture the epic financial carnage lying dead ahead. The gap between the Fed funds rate and headline inflation has never been this large. These pinheads believe that if the markets do not coincide with their world views, the markets must be wrong. I am not an economist, but it appears that none of them are either. The notion that a dozen nitwits should set the most important price of them all—the price of capital—rather than letting the markets set it through price discovery is financial authoritarianism or what some call State Capitalism. I am angry in case it doesn’t show. Meanwhile, in 2020–21 the Fed contributed to destroying upwards of a half-million mom ’n’ pop businesses—they gutted the middle class—while giving BlackRock credit at 0.15% interest rates to buy up all their houses. Here is my advice to those day trading criminals: look both ways as you enter crosswalks. What I believe the response of society to a severe downturn given the current political climate will be epic. Big downturns come after euphorias. We have never entered a downturn with society at large this grumpy. We are in the early stages of The Fourth Turning.ref 7 The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. ~ Charles-Louis De Secondat When a State has mortgaged all of its future revenues the State, by necessity, lapses into tranquility, langor, and impotence. ~ David Hume, 1752 So, WTF is going on here? In this final part, I address geopolitics. It begins with a relatively benign analysis of Biden’s first year in office, culminating with what I think Afghanistan is really about. The second section addresses my view of what may prove to be the most important day in US History—January 6, 2021. Although it is my best shot—Dave’s Narrative—I will not attempt to nor will I inadvertently spread the love to both sides of the political spectrum. It is a right-wing view that most right-wing politicians and pundits are too cowardly to state in polite company. The final section addresses the Rise of Global Authoritarianism. For a topic covered by thousands of treatises to call my knowledge skeletal is a reach. I have merely created an intellectual foundation—a chalk outline—to ponder why authoritarianism is here and what could stop it. (Plot spoiler: I do not believe it can be stopped.) They know where we are, they know our names, they know from our iPhones if we’re on our way to the grocery store or not. But they haven’t acted on that to put people in camps yet. They could do it. We could be East Germany in weeks, in a month. Huge concentration camps and so forth. ~ Daniel Ellsberg (@DanielEllsberg), author of The Pentagon Papers and Secrets Before moving on, let me give a plug for a book.ref 8 I have not even finished it yet, but it will change your worldview. Look at those ratings! I can guarantee none of those readers enjoyed it. Kennedy will curdle your bone marrow describing 35 years of atrocities commited by America’s Most Trusted Madman. It is emblematic of a much larger problem. Evil is powerless if good men are unafraid – Americans don’t realize what they have to lose. ~ Ronald Reagan The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken Biden – Freshman Year Scorecard Let’s go, Brandon! ~ Cheers across America Most presidents begin their reign with a calling. Reagan raised our national self-esteem after a period of economic and political malaise. Bush Sr. took on the Gulf War, for better or worse. Clinton oversaw the economic boom and bank deregulation, again for better or worse. Bush Jr. was handed 9/11 and, in my opinion, boned it badly. Obama had to wrestle with the Great Financial Crisis. Trump was charged with disturbing the peace—drain the swamp if you will. Biden undeniably needed to begin healing the social discord that, regardless of its source, left the country wounded and divided. Maybe that was not Biden’s calling, but I wanted to see him become the president of all the people. This is not revisionist history of my failing memory: Biden’s the last of the Old Guard, which is probably why he was slipped into the office by the DNC old guard. I am guessing there will be no Supreme Court stacking; that was just rhetoric (I hope). There will be wars just like every president (except Trump, who brought troops home.) Congress is more balanced again and, at the time of this writing, the Senate is still in Republican hands. Hopefully, the gridlock will usher in some garden-variety dysfunction. I have subtle concerns about a Harris presidency. Admittedly, my opinion is based on precious few facts, but Harris displays a concerning shallowness of character, a lack of a moral compass, and the potential to slide to the left of Bernie. (I sometimes reflect on what it must have been like raising the teenaged Kamala.) I am trying to reserve judgment because first impressions scavenged from the digital world are sketchy if not worthless. ~ 2020 Year in Review By this description, Biden tanked his GPA. He ushered in a Crusade to erase the Trump era and its supporters. The weaponizing of social media and censorship against one’s opponents was probably unavoidable, but the downside will be revealed when the wind changes. Team Biden took banishing of political opponents on social media to new levels by, as noted by Jen Psaki, flagging “problematic posts” and the “spread of disinformation” for censorship. NY Timeslapdog Kevin Roose called for a “reality Czar,” not noticing the Russian metaphor problem. The War on Domestic Terror may prove to be a turning point in American history, one that risks extinguishing the flame of the Great American Experiment. Significant erosions of Constitutionally granted civil liberties discussed throughout the rest of this document may not have been Biden’s fault, but they occurred on his watch. If you see an injustice and remain silent, you own it. I can’t remain silent. Biden is the epitome of the empty, amoral creature produced by our system of legalized bribery. His long political career in Congress was defined by representing the interests of big business, especially the credit card companies based in Delaware. He was nicknamed Senator Credit Card. He has always glibly told the public what it wants to hear and then sold them out. ~ Chris Hedges, right-wing hatchet man Team Biden. Books have been written about Trump’s fumbles in the first months (or four years) of his presidency. See Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven in Books or Michael Lewis’ less balanced The Fifth Risk reviewed in last year’s YIR. The Cracker Jack team assembled for Joe reveals a glob of feisty alt-left activists and omnipresent neocons. According to Rickards, two dozen players on Biden’s roster were recruited from the consulting firm WestExec Advisors (including Psaki and Blinken.)ref 1 That’s power and groupthink. David Axelrod: You must ask yourself, ‘Why are we allowing him to roll around in the hallways doing impromptu interviews?’ Jen Psaki: That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions.’ Young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are, but they don’t have lawyers; they don’t have accountants. ~ Joe Biden Joe Biden, President – Joe is the Big Guy. In an odd sense, he is immunized from criticism because he is visibly losing his marbles. His cognitive decline is on full display; this 52 seconds of gibberish about inflation is emblematic.ref 2 He’s 80 years old, for Cripes sake. I read a book this year entitled, When the Air Hits Your Brain, which derives from a neurosurgical aphorism that finishes with “you ain’t never the same.” Wanna guess who had two brain aneurysms (one rupturing) years ago leading to a miraculous recovery?ref 3 You’re the most famous African-American baseball player. ~ Joe Biden to the Pope, context unknown (possibly even a deep fake)ref 4 I am neither reveling in Joe’s problems nor do I believe he is calling the shots. Claims that the puppet master is Harris are, no offense, on the low side of clueless. Obama seems like a better guess but Barrack was a front man too. Having an impaired leader of a superpower, however, is disquieting and potentially destabilizing, especially with Taiwan in play. Biden’s energy policy that clamped down on fossil fuel production only to ask OPEC to open the spigots is one for the ages. The covid policies bridging both administrations were catastrophic, but throwing workers out of jobs into the teeth of unprecedented labor shortages makes zero sense. The nouveau inflation—Bidenflation—may stick to him like it stuck to Jimmy Carter, but that is unfair to both presidents. Look to the Fed in both cases for blame. Troubles at the southern border and the Afghanistan pullout are a couple of serious logs for a raging inferno that represents Biden’s first year in office. As discussed in a later section, demonizing “white supremacists”—not just political opponents but opponents labeled by their race—will not be viewed well by historians unless history is at a serious fork and Joe is ultimately protrayed as the founder of some new Fatherland. Kamala Harris, Vice President – Whenever situations heat up, Harris is off like a prom dress. During the crisis at the border that she was charged with overseeing, she took off to Europe, cackling about never even visiting the border. Kamala endorsed and claimed credit for the Kabul evacuation.ref 5,6 Realizing she had pulled yet another boner she pulled out before they renamed it Kamalabad. (Hey: At least I had the decency to pass on the Kamalatoe joke.) In a moment of surreal comedy, Harris hosted a public chat with Bill Clinton on “empowering women.”ref 7 She can even serve up semi-reasonable ideas with dollops of cringe. If the Democrats nominate her in 2024, may God have mercy on their souls—she is unelectable—or maybe on our souls—I could be wrong. Jen Psaki, Press Secretary – The role of any press secretary is to calm the press down with nuggets of insight—to feed the birds. When that fails, lie your ass off, all with a cold, calculating sociopathy. I would say she did the best job imaginable given the hand she was dealt. Disagree? I’ll just have to circle back with you on that. Ron Klain, Whitehouse Chief of Staff – This guy might be the rainmaker, but I haven’t quite figured him out. He has the durability of Andrei Gromyko, maintaining a central role through three democratic administrations. Keep an eye on him. Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury – We have yet to find out Yellen’s role because she has not been pressed into service by a crisis. To resolve the minor “meme stock” bruhaha, which did not call for a resolution, she needed an ethics waiver owing to the soft corruption of her bank-sponsored million-dollar speaking tour. My expectations of her are quite low, and I imagine she will meet them. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State – He has a good resume. Like Psaki, he is forced to play a weak hand. He lacks Psaki’s skills. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, US Energy Secretary – In a press conference she was asked how many barrels of oil a day the US consumes and said, “I do not have those numbers in front of me.” ‘Nuff said. Get her out of there. Merrick Garland, Attorney General – The press will tear anybody a new one so snippets with bad optics are always dangerous. I would say, however, ordering the FBI to investigate parents who get irate at school boards—even those who seem rather threatening—is over the top. Leave that to the local and state police. His role in the January 6th event and push into domestic terrorism is potentially sinister and moves him onto my shitlist. Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency – This one blows my circuits. She is what in the vernacular is called “a commie” straight from Kazakhstan with a thesis on Marxism—a devout believer that the State should run the show. She also hails from Cornell Law School. (Yeah. I know. STFU.) Matthew Continetti of the National Review noted she is, “an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.”ref 8 There will be no more private bank deposit accounts and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed. ~ Saule Omarova, Cornell Law Professor   We want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change. ~ Saule Omarova, on oil and gas companies For those who have seen the horror movie The Ring, Cornell tried to exorcise the demon by sending “the VHS tape” to Washington, D.C., but it came back stamped “Return to Sender.” She withdrew. Hey Team Biden: you could want to snatch up MIT’s Venezuelan-derived president who is already on the board of the World Economic Forum and was instrumental in pushing Aaron Swartz to off himself.ref 9 John Kerry, Climate Czar – Don’t we have enough Czars? John is charged with flying around the world in his private jet, setting the stage for a 30-year $150 trillion push to make many bank accounts much My disdain for the climate movement catches Kerry in the splash zone. Pete Buttegieg, Transportation Secretary – I must confess to liking Mayor Pete and would have been happier if he had gotten the crash course in the oval office rather than Joe. The one criticism I would make is that taking two months of paternity leave during the nation’s greatest transportation crisis seemed odd. I think when you are in such an important position you find a way. Get a nanny. Bring the twins to your office. Leave them with your spouse. For Pete’s sake (sorry), stay at your post. For the record, after my youngest son was born my wife had health problems. I used to bring him to work and lecture with him in a Snugly and changed a shitload of diapers. You could have done it too, Pete. Samantha Power, Head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – Sam is a garden-variety neocon, having served as ambassador to the UN and on the National Security Council, both under Obama. She was central to the planning behind destabilizing Libya,ref 10 which sure looks like a bad idea unless destabilizing the Middle East is our foreign policy. Please just don’t fuck up too much. Cass Sunstein, Homeland Security employee. This is not really an appointment, per se. Cass is the Harvard-employed husband of neocon Samantha Powers. In his 2008 book, Conspiracy Theories, Cass declared “the existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories” to be our greatest threat, outlining five possible solutions, and I quote, “(1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help.” Guys like Cass who come out of Harvard’s CIA training camps are menaces to society. Marvelous hire, Joe. Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary for Political Affairs – She is famous for her hot mic “Fuck the EU” comment and for engineering the coup in Ukraine—a Wonder Bread neocon. William J. Burns, Head of the CIA – I’ve got nothing on Bill, not even a fingerprint. It would be difficult for me to grade him poorly on a curve with the likes of John Brennan, William Casey, and Alan Dulles. (I once had dinner with a former CIA head John Deutch. What a dick.) Christopher Wray, Head of the FBI – As the FBI increasingly looks like the Praetorian Guard for the power elite (both in and out of public office), Wray has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors like J. Edgar Hoover and James Comie to be both top cop and dubious scoundrel. Wray’s fate might be dictated by the ongoing Durham investigation, but I have not seen any heads roll inside the Beltway since Watergate a half-century ago. Tony Fauci, Director of NIAID – That bipartisan, power-hungry authoritarian—The Most Trusted Madman in America—is a recurring theme. He doesn’t know any science. He is a political hack—a chameleon—who survived 35 years multiple administrations by being able slither out of anybody’s claws and regrow his tail. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC – She got serious attention in part 2. I am horrified by her sociopathy. I think she is evil. Amy Gutmann, Ambassador to Germany – Guttman was given the job after giving the Big Guy more than $900,000 in speaking fees and an honorary degree from UPenn when she was the University’s president. I am sure every ambassador pays market rates for the job.  Cathy Russell, Biden’s Director of Presidential Personnel–She is married to Tom Donlin, Chairman of the gargantuan multinational investment firm, BlackRock. Their daughter made it into the Whitehouse National Security Council. A talented family enjoying the political respect accorded to billionaires. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Head of the Office of Science – Despite scientific chops as a climate-change-supporting agronomist, she has no administrative experience and is inexperienced in the scientific programs that she is overseeing. Of course, everything is now about the $150 trillion climate grift, so she’s our girl. Jared Bernstein, Whitehouse Economic Advisor – He is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree in music, master’s degrees in social work and philosophy, and a Ph.D. in social welfare. His greatest strength may be his complete lack of training in economics. Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy – Is that a salaried position? ‘Nuff said. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Mark transitioned from the Trump administration. It caused a stir when he went more “woke” than Chelsea Manning. We will no longer defeat our enemy but assign them pronouns and include them. This was followed by a scandal outlined in Bob Woodward’s book in which he instructed military leaders in a secret meeting to bypass Trump on important military decisions.ref 11 He then unilaterally told his peer in the Chinese military that he would drop a dime if there was an impending military conflict. He tried to hang it on the Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary spit the bit fast.ref 12 My theory is that the sudden wokeness was to commandeer allies on the far left knowing that scandal was coming. It worked. He looks like he is right out of Dr. Strangelove without the lip gloss and eye shadow. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. He refuses to acknowledge the merits of natural Covid-19 immunity. That puts him near the top of my shitlist. Becerra has no medical or scientific training. He’s a lawyer, but at least he is from an underrepresented group. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services – I know little about her. She might be the most qualified candidate, certainly more so than her boss Becerra. Call me skeptical of a purely merit-based appointment. Hunter Biden. I was going to place Hunter in the bullets and call him Head of the DEA and National Association of the Arts, but I had reservations. There are sad, heartwarming, and troubling roles played by Hunter Biden. His addiction is a highly personal problem that is difficult for the first family to deal with, especially given other tragedies in their lives. Joe Rogan succinctly explained Hunter’s remarkably odd behavior: “he is a crackhead.” They are part and parcel of being dopesick. Leaked emails from the laptop show Dad to be a compassionate and loving father struggling to save his son. Ironically, old footage surfaced of Joe ranting about how we have to deal with crackheads severely no matter whom they know.ref 13 It did not age well. It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. ~ Jonathan Turley Before you start blubbering, however, recall that Hunter’s laptop revealed that he was playing critical roles in Russian and Chinese dealings for the Biden family. The Kleenex gets tossed and the gloves now come off. Hunter’s business partner stepped forward admitting nefarious deals were made with Joe involved. Joe denied knowing the clown, but a then photo of the two surfaced.ref 14 This year Hunter also began selling his artwork for up to $500,000 a pop behind a “Chinese Wall”—a veil that ensures we cannot find out who bought the art.ref 15,16,17 The money might literally be from behind a Chinese wall. That buys a lot of crack even after the Big Guy’s 10% cut. Figure 1 shows two paintings, one by a Hunter and the other by two elephants. (No joke, elephants have been painting brilliant pictures free-trunk for decades.) Figure 1. Biden art (left) brought $500,000. The elephant painting (shown being painted) brought $39,000. We are a democracy…there are things you can’t do by executive order unless you are a dictator. ~ Joe Biden, several years ago Executive Orders. Before the first week of his presidency was over, Biden had signed 37 of those beauties. Some, such as the order extending rent moratoria, were overtly unconstitutional. Some merely unwound Trump’s orders that had unwound Obama’s orders. This is dodge ball. While Yale was battling a civil rights case for discriminatory admissions practices, the Biden DOJ dismissed it without comment.ref 18 Yale is said to have promptly destroyed the evidence, which shows they have good lawyers. Transgender athletes were reinstated in women’s sports, ensuring that longstanding records will be shattered.ref 19 It got surreal when UPenn’s transgender swimmer was beaten by Yale’s transgender swimmer.ref 19a An executive order giving the IRS direct access to our bank accounts seems both sinister and inevitable…death and taxes as they say.ref 20 There are a lot of Republicans out there giving speeches about how outraged they are about the situation at the border. Not many who are putting forward solutions. ~ Jen Psaki, forgetting about the wall idea Crisis at the Border. The mainstream press covered this one exhaustively. There are parallels here with the North Africans crossing into Europe several years back. It looks intentional, but why? Don’t tell me about building a democratic base. That is too far in the future and too simplistic. It is far easier to control the elections at the server level. Baffling details include the administration’s suggestion that border agents should be empowered to authorize the immigration of “climate migrants.”ref 21 That could boost a few agents salaries. Rumors of US military planes transporting illegals into the US suggests somebody could punk the elite: load up a boat and drop a couple hundred on Martha’s Vineyard. On further thought, rather than offering Vineyardians more gardeners, drop off some Afghans.ref 22Whoever is calling the shots, this is neither about civil rights nor climate change. Attorney General Merrick Garland clarified the immigration challenge: Today marks a step forward in our effort to make the asylum process fairer and more expeditious. This rule will both reduce the caseload in our immigration courts and protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence. If you do that, that will set off a mass migration that’s like nothing that we have ever seen in this country because the entire world will then come on through to get their asylum, essentially legalizing illegal immigration, in a very clever way. ~ Attorney General Merrick Garland WTF did Garland just say? Both his meaning and intent are unclear. The immigrants, of course, were all unvaccinated, which would have been OK by me had the administration not gone Third Reich to vaccinate US citizens. The administration also wanted to offer $450,000 to every immigrant family separated from their loved ones: why?ref 23They seemed to walk that third-trimester idea back and then walked it forward again. A half-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to manage the immigrants went to friends of the administration.ref 24 Your tax dollars at work. At least we are back to business as usual. By the way, where is Border Czar Kamala Harris while all this is going on? Making creepy videos.ref 25,26 People who like quotes love meaningless generalizations. ~ Graham Greene Miscellaneous issues surfaced that either went away or are still festering quietly. On the positive side, stacking the Supreme Court—increasing the number of justices to get a left-leaning majority—seems to have been only a political football. Granting Washington DC statehood, while to a plebe like me doesn’t seem nuts, has the trappings of a massive powershift to the left in national elections. Joe invaded the legal process by declaring Chauvin guilty and Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist. Would Obama have done this? I don’t think so. Rittenhouse may get his “10% for the Young Guy” in defamation suits against Joe and every media outlet on the planet. Joe checking his watch five times at the funeral of dead marines didn’t play well,ref 27 but if you put a camera on me I wouldn’t make it to lunchtime without serving up Jim Acosta fresh meat. The main drama of Biden’s first year, however, played out in a distant land.   Afghanistan—where empires go to die. ~ Mike Malloy Afghanistan. I’ve been groping for nomenclature — Afghazi, Afghazistan, Benghanistan, Benghazistan, Saigonistan, Clusterfuckistan, and Bidenistan—to describe this odd moment in history. That 20-year skirmish cost an estimated $2.3 trillion.ref 28 The idea that it was only a few thousand troops with no fatalities in the last year or two makes me question my wisdom, but I can’t start revising history. Whether for right or wrong, I was glad we were getting out. The ensuing Crisis in Kabul looked like the graveyard of a presidency—a combination of the Bay of Pigs and the Iran Hostage Crisis that would dog us for years. They are chanting “Death to America”, but they seemed friendly at the same time. ~ CNN reporter wearing a burka looking for a husband Even before the evacuation started we were hearing about huge caches of weapons that would be abandoned.ref 29 In an eat-and-dash that would make an IHOP waiter wince, we bugged out at 2:00 AM without telling anybody.ref 30Jalalabad Joe had assured us repeatedly the 300,000-strong Afghan army would hang tough. They were defeated in time to chow down on some goat stew for dinner. Images of desperate Afghan’s clinging to transport planes brought up images of the Saigon Embassy rooftop. We left service dogs in cages.ref 31 Marines would never do that. Stranded Americans and Afghan collaborators were begging for help to get to the airport and even to get into the airport.ref 32The administration used a drone to strike on some kids and their dads loading water into a truck to change the news cycle briefly.ref 33 The Afghan who is credited with saving Joe Biden and John Kerry in a disastrous excursion to Afghanistan years earlier got left behind pleading for help:ref 34 Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family. Don’t forget me here. Mercenaries like Blackwater’s Erik Prince tried to prevent Americans from taking The Final Exit,ref 35 only to get stonewalled by the Whitehouse. Meanwhile, the top commander and four-star Wokie, Mark Milley, was too mired in scandal.ref 36 Retired generals were calling for the active-duty generals to resign.ref 37 The withdrawal could not be botched worse if you tried. The populace are now facing a winter of profound famine.ref 38 Rural Afghanistan has been rocked by climate change. The past three decades have brought floods and drought that have destroyed crops and left people hungry. And the Taliban — likely without knowing climate change was the cause — has taken advantage of that pain. ~ CBS News, sticking it like a Russian gymnast This vexing story was from the Theater of the Absurd. Starting with the caches of military equipment left behind, I have two simple solutions that a group of teenagers could have concocted: Announce Blow Shit Up Friday (BSUF). Provide the military personnel with some grenade launchers and a few kegs of beer, grill up some goat burgers, and start blowing shit up. That would be a blast. If that is too unprofessional, you gather all armaments and anything of else of value into an open space. Once the wheels go up on the last troop transport, drop a MOAB—Mother of All Bombs.ref 39 Tough luck for those who were trying to hotwire the stuff when the MOAB arrives. It will take a year to get them out…If you use those billions of dollars of weapons behind I promise they’ll be using them against your grandchildren and mine someday. ~ Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate, 2007ref 40 The collapse of the Afghan Army also couldn’t have come as a surprise. The military and CIA certainly knew that those troops wouldn’t withstand a West Side Story-level brawl.ref 41 The soldiers were paid by the US for their service COD, and there was no C left. Shockingly, most of the payroll booty had long-since been snarfed up by the politicians and top military brass from the only swamp in Afghanistan.ref 42 Whocouldanode? Taliban can murder as many people as they want. But if they keep trolling Biden like this they’re gonna get kicked off of social media. ~ Jesse Kelley, noting the Taliban has an active Twitter feed Here is a script playing out in my noggin. The Crisis in Kabul was an arms deal—Fast and Furious 2.0. One of our top diplomats called the Taliban and said, “We are pulling out in a month. We’ll leave the keys in the ignition and pallets of $100 billsref 43 to help pay for upkeep. If you guys let us sneak out unmolested, you can party like it’s 999—an authentic Taliban-themed fraternity party. We will leave you guns, money, nice facilities, and even a few wives. If you fuck this up, however, we will be right back here.” The Whitehouse also lent a legitimizing tone to the regime when speaking about “working with the Taliban” as part of the deal. In return, the State Department called on the Taliban to form an “inclusive and representative government,”ref 44 so there’s that bit of risible nonsense. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have done any better. The bottom line: 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to leave Afghanistan. ~ Jalalabad Joe Biden That might be a great poll number or inflated final exam grade at a college Joe erroneously claimed to attend, but I am not sure “90%” is impressive in this context. The actual evacuation was ineptly executed from the get-go. Mr. Rogers, with the help of his viewing audience of toddlers, could have Kabuled together a better plan based on the simple precept, “pull out the civilians then the military.” Baffling claims the Whitehouse was obstructing evacuations of charter flights containing Americans was not right-wing propaganda: Where are they going to land? A number of these planes have a handful of Americans, but they may have several hundred individuals who do not have proper documentation of identity….we don’t have manifests for them, we don’t know what the security protocols are for them, we don’t know what their documentation is…hard choices you face in government. ~ Jen Psaki, press conference WTF actually happened? When nothing makes sense your model is wrong. Glenn Greenwald got the scent that withdrawal was intentionally mishandled, suggesting this is “fully within the character of the deep-state operatives.”ref 45We also forgot to destroy our sophisticated FBI-derived software and a complete database containing the biometrics of Friends of the USA,ref 46,47,48 enabling the Taliban to find potential detractors for an attitude correction. Think of it as Afghanistan’s high-tech War on Domestic Terror. The stonewalling of help from other countries also makes no sense using a conventional model.ref 49 Biden’s CIA Director met with Taliban leadership covertly—so covertly we all knew about it—to concoct a “deal”, but what kind of deal?ref 50 During the evacuation, we gave the Taliban names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies supposedly to let them pass through the militant-controlled perimeter of the city’s airport.ref 51 They would never abuse this list, right? A large number of Afghan refugees—possibly as many as 100,000 according to Tucker Carlson—entering the US are consistent with our open border policy along the Mexican border, but what is that all about? Afghans, by the way, are reputed to be always recalcitrant to assimilate in Europe just in case you’re thinking of renting out your basement as an Airbnb.ref 52 What happened in Afghanistan is not incompetence. We are not that incompetent. ~ General George Flynn The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war. ~ Julian Assange, 2011ref y I have no doubt that blood was shed after we left. More than a few US sympathizers surely lost their heads. As to the stranded Americans, why were they still there? China had evacuated their citizens months earlier.ref 53(Hmmm…Chinese citizens were there?) Two dozen students from the Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents there for an enriching summer trip were stranded.ref 54 How did they get visas? That field trip will generate a few college essays that will beat any written about dead grandparents, although Kabul State College may be their only option. This is now on-track, Peter, to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. I would not say that is anything but a success. ~ Jen Psaki to Peter Doucy The media can create, steer, or smother narratives at will. I have a question: Where are all the dead Americans—thousands of them—said to be left behind? Horror stories should be surfacing daily, but they’re not. We shit a mudbrick when One Dead Kashoggi (ODK) got fed to the camels in Saudi Arabia. Three thousand fatalities on 9/11 got us into Afghanistan in the first place. We supposedly left behind “thousands of Americans” but without generating a single headline? So much for that Bay of Pigs­–Iran Hostage Crisis analogy. So here are my next questions and I am deadly serious: Did we get duped? Was the whole thing more sham than farce? There is no such thing as a true account of anything. ~ Gore Vidal Here is Dave’s Narrative. We installed the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan as the best of many bad options. The winners are the Taliban and China. The two are inking deals for mineral rights as I type. The chaos was intentional. But why accept such a profound humiliation and dashed hopes of future alliances in global hotspots? I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world. The Taliban is saying, we just didn’t defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world’s greatest military power, ever. I think, not only will the jihadists be inspired, but a lot of them are going to come to Afghanistan to be part of the celebration, to be part of jihadist central. We are more at risk, without a doubt. ~ Michael Morell, former CIA Director under Obama Maybe China has way more than just Hunter’s laptop to blackmail us and is about to take possession of Taiwan soon. While we await the next Kyle Rittenhouse trial to preoccupy ourselves, take a peek at this video. Skip over the election stuff since we all have rock-hard opinions on that and go to minute 55:30. Xi Jinping’s right-hand man, Di Dongsheng, publicly explained the extent Beijing controls US politics:ref 55 There is nothing in the world that money can’t fix, right? If one wad of cash can’t handle it, then I’ll have two wads. (laughter) Of course this is how I do things. In fact, to be a bit blunt, in the past 30 years or past 40 years, we manipulated the core power circle in the United States, right? I mentioned earlier that Wall Street started to have a very strong influence on U.S. domestic and foreign affairs in the 1970s. So we figured out our path and those we could be dependent on. But the problem is that Wall Street’s status has declined after 2008. More importantly, starting in 2016 Wall Street has no influence on Trump. Why? It is awkward. Trump had a soft breach of contract on Wall Street once, so the two sides had conflicts. They tried to help during the Sino-US trade war. As far as I know, friends from the U.S. told me that they tried to help, but they were too weak. But now we see that Biden has come to power. (crowd laughs) The traditional elites, political elites, and the establishment have a very close relationship with Wall Street. You all see it: Trump talked about Biden’s son, “You have investment funds around the world.” Who helped him build the funds? You understand? There are transactions involved. (laughter) So at this point in time, we use an appropriate way to express a certain kind of goodwill. (applause) ~Di Dongsheng, Vice Director and Secretary of the Center for Foreign Strategic Studies of Chinaref 55 January 6th Capitol Insurrection Alec Baldwin killed more people in 2021 than did the January 6th insurrectionists. Anybody reading this far knows that the January 6th riots stemmed from the right-wing voters who doubted the veracity of the 2020 election. Twitter polls show that view is not as partisan or as rare as the media would lead you to believe. I happen to doubt U.S. election integrity but have for quite a few election cycles. ref 1 Hacked Stratfor emails show the democrats rigged the vote in ’08 ref 2 and Republicans rigged it in ’04.ref 3 It is bipartisan Capture the Flag with red and blue pinnies.ref 4 In any event, Trump’s Green Goblin strategy was to beckon the MAGA faithful to the Capitol to protest the Electoral College signing off on the results. It was not so different than the mobs outside the courthouses trying to subvert the Rittenhouse and Chauvin trials, but the scale of January 6th was much larger and the optics were Biblical. It got out of hand and, at times, even a little Helter Skelter. Mob psychology elicits dramatic changes in brain chemistry and has been the topic of many laboratory studies.”ref 5 Temporary insanity is not a crazy defense. My Tweet got some hysterically hateful responses from the Right who missed the sarcasm and the Left who did not. I think I squandered more of my valuable time left on this planet burrowing through the January 6th story than on the Covid-Vaccine combo platter. I should preface this section by noting that I was praised by a thoughtful long-time reader for being “balanced and measured and carefully worded, even on edgy topics.” I may be on the cusp of disappointing him. It’s impossible to peer at the The Great Insurrection through a non-partisan lens. Both sides may find common ground in the belief that January 6th is a profound fork in the road of the American Experiment. The sock-starching Left will celebrate it as a national holiday every year while the bed-wetting Right will try to ignore it. Both are wrong. Look at that photo and pause to ponder its implications. Put a funny caption to it. Let’s hear from some Republicans first: We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. ~ Liz Cheney I think Lizard nailed it. We’re on the same page. Let’s keep going… January 6 was worse than 9/11, because it’s continued to rip our country apart and get permission for people to pursue autocratic means, and so I think we’re in a much worse place than we’ve been. I think we’re in the most perilous point in time since 1861 in the advent of the Civil War. ~ Michael Dowd, former Bush strategist I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system. ~ George Will, syndicated columnist Mike and George are as unhinged as I am but on different hinges. I think they are delusional and offensive. Edging forward… The 1/6 attack for the future of the country was a profoundly more dangerous event than the 9/11 attacks. And in the end, the 1/6 attacks are likely to kill a lot more Americans than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which will include the casualties of the wars that lasted 20 years following. ~ Steve Smith, Lincoln Project co-founder Now I’m getting the heebie-jeebies if for no other reason than the Lincoln Project is filled with Democratic operatives (or at least neocons) pretending to be Republicans—as authentic as the Indians at the Boston Tea Party or stepmoms on PornHub. We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within…There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home… But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. ~ George W. Bush, a thinly veiled allusion to January 6 George got some serious guff from more than a few of the 80 million Fox-watching extremists including the Grand Wizard: So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the ‘right’ are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America. ~ Donald Trump He nailed it. I have stated previously that Bush committed war crimes. Of course, the National Security Machine chimed in… The No. 1 national security threat I’ve ever seen in my life to this country’s democracy is the party that I’m in — the Republican Party. It is the No. 1 national security threat to the United States of America. ~ Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Dude! You just tarred about 80 million asses with that brushstroke. Let’s move further left to find some middle ground: They swooned for him on 9/11 because he gave them what they most crave: the view that Al Qaeda is comparable to those who protested at the Capitol on 1/6. ~ Glenn Greenwald, on George Bush’s comments Glenn is part of a growing cadre of liberals including Matt Taibbi, Tim Pool, Bill Maher, The Weinstein Brothers, and Joe Rogan who are unafraid to extend olive branches across The Great Partisan Divide at risk of being labled white supremacists and Nazis, but they are hardly emblematic of the Left. From the elite Left… I think we also had very real security concerns. We still don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.  ~ AOC AOC’s comment prompted one pundit to tell her to “get a therapist”, which seems correct given her moment of maximum drama was when a security guard was screaming outside her door, “Are you OK, Ma’am?” #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett began trending on social media when it was disclosed that she was not even in the building when Ragnar and his buddies showed up.ref 6 They will have to decide if Donald J. Trump incited the erection…the insurrection. ~ Chuck Schumerref 7 What ya thinking about Chuckie? We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on Jan. 6. ~ Joe Biden Joe may be on the A-Team, but he hasn’t found his way out of the locker room. The blue-check-marked liberals did not mince words… The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden never threatened the heart of the American experiment. The 1/6 terrorists and Donald Trump absolutely did exactly that. Trump continues that effort today. ~ S.V. Dáte, Huffington Post’s senior White House correspondent The only effective way for the government to respond to an act of war by domestic terrorists is to be prepared to meet them with machine guns and flamethrowers and mow them down. Not one of those terrorists who broke through police lines should have escaped alive. ~ a Washington Post commenter Moving as far left as you can by tuning into the most cunning commie who can outfox any Western leader… Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? They came there with political demands. ~ Vladimir Putin The Cast of this Drama. This Kafkaesque narrative will be scrutinized by historians and democratic operatives for years to come. The Left will cast this event as a truly unique moment in US history, but it was precedented. I see parallels with the 1920’s Bonus Army in which World War I veterans were pissed off about unpaid post-war benefits.ref 8 In the saddest of ironies, many were killed by Army regulars. Some authorities, including a young Dwight Eisenhower, thought it was a benign protest while others thought it was an assault on America. Grumpy crowds appear at the Capitol only on days of the week that end in “y.” Recently, f.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

44 cheap gifts under $25 you can still buy on Amazon that are meaningful

The Insider Reviews team compiled a list of our favorite budget gift ideas from Amazon. These are the best thoughtful gifts under $25 from Amazon. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Getty Images Amazon has wide selections and low costs, making it difficult to know what's worth buying. The Insider Reviews team shared the best things they've bought on Amazon for under $25. We unearthed some interesting finds, from a cheddar cheesy powder to a vintage puzzle. Amazon has not only become a one-stop shop for its variety of products, but it's also where many shoppers go for affordable gifts. The retailer has a huge selection where you'll find household names, low prices, and the two-day (or two-hour) Prime shipping that caters well to those among us who are gluttons for instant gratification.But a huge selection can make it time-consuming to root out what's really worth spending your money on. The best loophole is to seek out recommendations from people you trust. We asked our colleagues at Insider about the best things they've bought on Amazon for under $25 — most of whom spend every day researching and testing thousands of products to recommend to you. Below are the 44 best things we've bought on Amazon that cost us less than $25:A set of silk pillowcasesAmazonBedsure Satin Pillowcases Standard Set of 2$15.99 FROM AMAZONSilk pillowcases are game-changing products for your beauty sleep. They offer premium care as silk pillowcases leave skin hydrated and hair undamaged. Better yet, silk pillowcases feature a soft texture and elevate any bedroom decor toward an elegant taste.A cute tea infuserAmazonGenuine Fred Duck Drink Tea Infuser $12.59 FROM AMAZONTea time becomes a whimsical affair with this charming tea infuser. The duck-shaped infuser is a perfect gift for the tea lover looking for an additional delight.A ring that holds your nail polishAmazonTweexy Wearable Nail Polish Holder Ring$9.99 FROM AMAZONFor the manicure-obsessed friend, this nail care gift is something they'll absolutely need. The wearable nail polish holder allows you to flawlessly polish your nails without bothersome spills. —Taylor JeffriesA deck of tarot cardsLauren Savoie/InsiderDa Brigh Original Tarot Cards Deck$24.95 FROM AMAZONI'm not into the occult, but this deck of tarot cards has bought be endless hours of fun with my friends and insight for journaling. On days I don't feel inspired to write in my journal, I pull a card and reflect on whatever feelings it brings up. —Lauren SavoieA quick-drying styling brushJacqueline Saguin/InsiderWet Volume & Body Round Brush$14.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $16.98 | Save 12%Some may think a blow dryer does all the work, but a round brush makes all the difference. Replacing the $5 styling brush I've owned far past its use, the Wet Round Brush completely revived my hair routine. It grips onto large hair sections and helps dry my entire head in 10 minutes, making it a great haircare product to gift. Knowing its on Amazon, I'll definitely be gifting myself this brush more frequently. —Jacqueline SaguinA satisfying foot peel maskAmazonCÉLOR Foot Peel Mask$14.97 FROM AMAZONOk, I know these things are all over the internet, but this winter is the perfect time to gift one of these viral foot peels. It took about five days for my feet to start peeling after using it, but it was so satisfying in a really gross, but fascinating sort of way. The end result was that my feet looked and felt softer, but I have to say that the process was all part of the fun. —Lauren SavoieDelicious coffee groundsSally Kaplan/InsiderCafe Du Monde Coffee Chicory$7.60 FROM AMAZONI usually abide by a time-consuming pour-over routine that involves grinding my own beans every morning, but when I'm short on time (and honestly, even when I'm not), I've come to rely heavily on this Cafe Du Monde chicory coffee. Most pre-ground coffee is flavorless and brews a weak cup, but this stuff is strong, rich, and delicious. Ten out of ten, highly recommend gifting this to a coffee lover! —Sally KaplanA handy dough scraperAmazonLasenersm Two-Piece Dough Scraper$5.59 FROM AMAZONIf they bake a lot, do them a favor and gift a pack of these plastic bench scrapers. They're great for scraping dough out of bowls or off the counter — I can't tell you how handy they are! —Sally KaplanA two-in-one workout bra tankJacqueline Saguin/InsiderLemedy Padded Sports Bra Tank Top$18.98 FROM AMAZONOriginally $25.99 | Save 27%I've found some of my favorite workout pieces from Amazon. This two-in-one sports bra tank has a smoothing material that rivals luxury activewear fabrics that you may gift this season. Its cropped cut meets high-waisted leggings for a flattering fit. Plus, it comes in 19 fun colors. —Jacqueline SaguinA sweet-smelling scrub for sensitive skinJacqueline Saguin/InsiderBrooklyn Botany Brown Sugar Body Scrub$13.99 FROM AMAZONFace and body scrubs make me nervous because of my sensitive skin, but this brown sugar exfoliator combines natural ingredients like sweet almond oil that are nourishing and gentler than other formulas. I typically use it on my body before I shave or before I apply self-tanner. It's comforting knowing that whenever I run out I can get it in just a couple of days. —Jacqueline SaguinA convenient Bluetooth charging port for your carAmazonAnker Roav Bluetooth FM Transmitter$16.98 FROM AMAZONMy car is from 2005, long before Bluetooth connectivity in cars were standard. This little transmitter instantly brought my car up to present-day standards, letting me stream music and directions from my phone via an open radio channel. It plugs into the cigarette lighter and even has two USB ports so my husband and I can both charge our phones on long rides. It cost less than $15 and gifting this device will make your driving experience infinitely more enjoyable. —Lauren SavoieA plastic bath drain coverAmazonSlipX Solutions Bottomless Bath Overflow Drain Cover$8.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $10.99 | Save 18%Ok, I know everyone and their mother raves about this gift, but it's the only thing allowing me to take baths in my current apartment. Our claw foot tub is from the early 20th century and if I don't cover the overflow drain, my bathtub only accommodates enough water to barely reach the top of my thighs before it starts draining — not a very pleasant or relaxing bath. This little plastic overflow drain cover lets me soak deeply and comfortably in my tub. —Lauren SavoieA cheesy powder that takes popcorn to the next levelSally Kaplan/InsiderHoosier Hill Farm Cheddar Cheese Powder$11.99 FROM AMAZONI generally eat pretty healthy, but I think I'm in love with this tub of powdered cheese. It's so good on popcorn, in mac and cheese, and sprinkled on any other sort of cracker, chip, etc. It's a supremely cheesy and salty and delicious treat to gift! This is honestly one of the best Amazon purchases I've made in years. —Sally KaplanA practical but chic wine holderAmazonUrban Deco Honeycomb Wine Rack$30.99 FROM AMAZONI wanted a non-bulky wine rack to sit on my kitchen counter, and I love the bright gold of this one. This honeycomb design holds seven bottles officially, but nine if you add two on top — and if you need more storage, you can buy two and stack them. —Rachael SchultzA set of hair clipsAmazonTOCESS Big Hair Claw Clips$13.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $16.98 | Save 18%I have really long hair and most clips can't hold it all back when I'm washing my face. These oversized clips are so great, I gifted the other three in this set to friends with crazy curly hair. All four of the matte colors are very lowkey and match everything. I've dropped mine at least two dozen times, and it has yet to break. —Rachael SchultzA challenging puzzle that doubles as vintage home decorAmazonCavallini Papers & Co. Celestial 1,000 Piece Puzzle$19.98 FROM AMAZONI once gifted a Cavallini Papers & Co. puzzle to a puzzle lover, and they thought it was the perfect blend of challenging and aesthetically pleasing. They hung it up afterward, adding a sense of accomplishment as well as a nice vintage touch to their space. The company has even more fun designs like house plants and national parks map. —Jacqueline Saguin A ring light that pulls out all the stopsJacqueline Saguin/InsiderAIXPI 10-inch LED Ring Light$20.99 FROM AMAZONI took a cue from our Insider Reviews team by gifting myself its pick for the best budget ring light. It has made my job on the style and beauty reviews team much easier, drastically cutting down on my photo-taking time. When I test makeup and clothing, I can set this up anywhere and adjust it to the angle I need in order to do my products justice. I love changing between its three different light settings: white, warm yellow, and warm white, to find the perfect glow. —Jacqueline SaguinAn out-of-this-world moon lampJacqueline Saguin/InsiderUooEA Saturn Lamp$28.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $29.99 | Save 3%Earning the title of Insider Reviews' best planet moon lamp, this light offers 16 soothing hues that illuminate a Saturn shape. I love its unique look and the subtle glow it gives while I watch movies at nighttime. This gift offers four color modes, including flash, strobe, fade, and smooth. The latter is my favorite as it softly transitions through all the colors. —Jacqueline SaguinA decorative antique tray that shows off and stores your beauty productsAmazonZosenley Polyresin Ellipse Antique Decorative Mirror Tray$13.99 FROM AMAZONThis tray is an aesthetically pleasing stage that doubles as decor and a proud home for my cosmetics. I use it in my bathroom, storing the skincare products and perfume I reach for every day. I've seen people using it on TikTok as a jewelry vanity to display their favorite pieces. —Jacqueline SaguinSpiral hair ties that won't breakKitschKitsch Spiral Hair TiesFREE FROM AMAZONOriginally $7.99 | Save 100%After using elastic hair ties for so long, I got tired of pulling out my hair, getting headaches, and snapping scrunchies. I had seen spiral hair ties before but assumed they wouldn't hold well. However, these ones from Kitsch really do the trick. They keep their shape, are comfortable, and avoid long-lasting ponytail bumps. I wear these with high ponytails, low ponytails, and even braids. —Katie Decker-JacobyEspresso capsules that satisfy your coffee fixAmazonilly Coffee iperEspresso Capsule (Classico)$15.50 FROM AMAZONThe majority of my Amazon order history is made up of these illy espresso capsules, and the orders have even been way more frequent since I started working from home. You'll need one of the illy pod machines to use them (I have the X7) but the investment is 110% worth it in my opinion.I can whip up an Italian espresso in under a minute, and it tastes so much better than the coffee from the Nespresso and Keurig machines I previously owned. Being able to buy the pods off of Amazon means my caffeine supply is always well-stocked, and if I ever do run out, I know I can get more in just two days max. —Ashley PhillipsA hair mask that restores moisture to your scalpAmazonShiseido Tsubaki Premium Repair Hair Mask$16.35 FROM AMAZONI was looking for hair masks because my hair tends to get really dry in the wintertime. I bought this hair mask after doing some research on Asian hair products, and I'm so glad I did. My hair feels soft and moisturized after I use it, even if I just use it as a normal conditioner. It works even better as a leave-in deep conditioner, and I highly recommend gifting it to anyone who wants to add moisture to their hair. Bonus: It also smells amazing. Item ordered online may arrive after Christmas. —Allison JiangAn iPad case that is multi-functionalAmazonESR Rebound Pencil Case$14.99 FROM AMAZONI needed a simple case for my new iPad Air 4 but was shocked by how much Apple charges for one of its cases. This option from ESR is a fraction of Apple's Smart Cover, and while it doesn't have as nice of a build quality as the Smart Cover, the ESR case is well-made nonetheless. It has a magnetic closure to wake the iPad's screen or put it to sleep, the cover folds into a stand, and there's a convenient slot for an Apple Pencil. My only complaint is that the case makes it hard to use the Touch ID sensor, but I'm quite satisfied given the price and overall usability. —Les ShuFuzzy slippers to complete your work-from-home lookJacqueline Saguin/InsiderEhoomely Womens Fuzzy Slippers$18.98 FROM AMAZONI've been hearing about these Amazon slippers for months — from TikTok, Instagram, podcasts I listen to — so I had to give them a try. These slippers are comfy, just warm enough, and a perfect gift for working from home. The quality is also great for being under $20. An added bonus is that they come in almost any color you can imagine! —Victoria GracieA knit beanie that's stylish and comfortableAmazon/Business InsiderCarhartt Acrylic Watch Hat$16.98 FROM AMAZONI've noticed Carhartt beanies have become increasingly popular and I finally jumped on the bandwagon. This beanie is cute, comfortable, and super warm. I got it in black so it would go with almost anything and I've been wearing it nonstop since I got it. —Victoria GracieIngredients for a favorite recipeAmazonNatierra Nature's Organic Freeze-Dried Strawberries$5.79 FROM AMAZONI buy a lot of recipe ingredients, spices, and hot sauces on Amazon that I'm less likely to find in stores near me, like these freeze-dried strawberries. They are the star ingredient in my Berry Crinkle Cookies recipe; I use one whole package per batch. — Ellen Hoffman A liquid cleanser that works as a gentle hand soap for sensitive skinAmazonFree & Clear Liquid Cleanser$7.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $8.94 | Save 11%I bought this as an alternative to my household's Bath & Body Works hand soap stock. Its fragrance-free, sulfate-free, and dermatologist-tested formula pleases my sensitive skin. This straightforward cleanser gift never causes redness or irritation for frequent hand washers like me. I pour the liquid into a decorative holder so it matches my bathroom. — Jacqueline SaguinPimple patches that suck the gunk right out of your poresLeft: Mighty Patch Original. Right: Invisible+ Mighty Patch.Mara Leighton/InsiderHero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Original (36-count)$12.99 FROM AMAZON$12.99 FROM HERO COSMETICSIf you look at my Amazon history, these pimple patches are the only thing I consistently order. They're super effective at drawing out fluids from pimples and helping them deflate, and as small, virtually clear stickers, they're hardly noticeable by other people. Within a few hours, you can expect them to noticeably improve the look and swelling of your pimple — they're that reliable. — Connie ChenA natural clay mask that has a cult-followingJacqueline Saguin/InsiderAztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask$14.95 FROM AMAZON$12.19 FROM TARGETThis mask, as seen on Insider, transformed my skin and is probably my most recommended product to gift this season. The best part? It's $15! — Chelsey HoffmanA milk frother for homemade treatsAmazonPowerLix MilkPro Milk Frother$15.95 FROM AMAZONThis gift is the BOMB. So easy to use and clean, and to spice up my weekend coffees/matcha drinks at home, allowing me to live my best bougie life. — Kirstie JiongcoA wash and stain bar that will keep your shirt collars looking nicer for longerAmazonThe Laundress Wash & Stain Bar$6.50 FROM AMAZONNo $6 has had a more positive impact on my effort to preserve my clothing than the $6 I spent on this bar by The Laundress. I learned about this product from editor-in-chief Ellen Hoffman and I can honestly say it's the best thing I've done for my dress shirts. One bar has lasted me well over a year, and I just need to wet my shirt collar and rub the bar back and forth a few times before washing. It gets rid of all of the grime and oil from my collars. I was able to rehab shirts that were ready to go to charity or become rags. — Breton FischettiA mini waffle-maker that gets the job done and takes up minimal countertop spaceAmazonDash Mini Waffle Maker$17.09 FROM AMAZONThis teeny-tiny waffle maker is a small but mighty gift. For those rare instances when I'm craving a waffle or two, this very small appliance easily gets the job done and stays out of the way when it's stored. It's very easy to use and clean; just plug in and wait for the light, add your batter and close the iron. To clean, wait for the iron to cool down, then wipe with a damp cloth and you're done. — Melanie Winer A pair of $15 earbuds that sound like they'd cost way moreAmazonPanasonic ErgoFit Earbuds$15.11 FROM AMAZONOriginally $19.98 | Save 24%These Panasonic earbuds were easily the best $8.25 [price at the time] I ever spent on Amazon. The sound quality is fantastic and they're incredibly comfortable. I'm not someone who would ever spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of over-the-ear headphones, so these are exactly a budget-friendly gift. — Andrew MeolaHangers that actually keep your clothes hung upJacqueline Saguin/InsiderAmazon Basics Velvet Non-Slip Suit Hangers - 30 pack$20.39 FROM AMAZONClothes falling off hangers are a thing of the past once you gift these grippy velvet hangers to upgrade their closet. — Ellen Hoffman A little 'Tub Shroom' that catches your hair before it clogs the drainAmazonTubShroom Revolutionary Tub Drain Protector$12.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $19.95 | Save 35%Between her curly red hair and my long brown hair, my roommate and I shed a lot. Our tub doesn't have a drain catch and after a particularly effortful session with a plastic drain cleaner, I decided it was finally time to try this viral hair catcher out. This small silicone tool fits into most standard tub drains and collects all the hair before it washes down and clogs your drain. Take it out, remove the hair with a piece of toilet paper, and it's ready for the next shower."  — Connie Chen Comfortable, public-friendly sweatpantsAmazonSweatyRocks Women's Drawstring Striped Joggers$17.98 FROM AMAZONOriginally $23.99 | Save 25%As work from home continues, I've been looking for more sweatpants that I can comfortably work in that are also appropriate for walks and socially distant plans. These sweats are affordable to gift, have sustained washes and all-day wear, and the rainbow stripe down the side adds a bit of fun. Item ordered online may arrive after Christmas.— Emily HeinNo-slip gel gripped socksAmazonPeds Microfiber Liner Socks$9.50 FROM AMAZONOriginally $13.00 | Save 27%These PEDS socks are the only ones I use, and I wear sneakers almost every day. The no-slip gel grips on the heel keep them from falling off and bunching up. — Sally KaplanA hairbrush that won't break after a few monthsWetWet Brush Rubberized Wet Detangle Shower Brush$8.34 FROM AMAZONMy thick hair has a long history of eating brushes, but the Wet Brush finally put a stop to that! It painlessly smooths out tangles and the bristles are tough enough that I only have to buy a new one every year or so. Before, my brushes only ever made it a few months. — Ashley PhillipsAn inexpensive, well-designed measuring cupAmazonOXO Good Grips 3-Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set $20.95 FROM AMAZONOXO is my go-to kitchen brand for cheap, well-designed tools. This measuring cup set has an angled surface that allows you to see measurement markings from above as you're pouring, so you can better measure ingredients without bending or lifting the cup to eye level. I also highly recommend gifting OXO's silicone baking mat for creating a non-stick surface that makes for easier cleanups and this cookie scoop for scooping out balls of dough that are all the same size. — Ellen Hoffman A slim wastebasket that fits almost anywhere, but also fits a lot of garbageAmazonUmbra Skinny Trash Can$7.00 FROM AMAZONLove this slim garbage can that fits into narrow spaces, but still holds a lot. — Navah MaynardAffordable jewelry that lets you save up for an investment pieceAmazonBBTO Layered Choker Necklace (9-piece)$12.59 FROM AMAZONI love chokers and layering different necklaces together, but I have a short attention span when it comes to jewelry. I tend to lean more towards affordable jewelry that I can experiment with on different looks before committing to staple pieces that I know I'll wear forever. This choker set was a great addition to my summer looks, and now I have more of an idea of what I'm looking for when I eventually take the plunge on long-wear jewelry. — Emily HeinA PopSocket to make gripping a large iPhone less strenuous on your fingersJacqueline Saguin/InsiderPopSockets PopGrip$7.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $9.99 | Save 20%$15.00 FROM POPSOCKETSWhen I got my iPhone X, I also picked up a PopSocket grip to make it easier to hold my phone without straining my fingers. I love it as a gift because it's practical, keeps one's phone secure, and lets me express my crazy cat lady side. — Malarie GokeyEditor's note: They come in a variety of colors and designs.A rapid egg cooking machine that's completely foolproofAmazonDash Rapid Egg Cooker$16.98 FROM AMAZONOriginally $19.98 | Save 15%After I read Jen Gushue's review of this under-$20 rapid egg cooking gadget, I was fully influenced to buy it. It makes hard-boiled eggs in half the time of traditional methods with absolutely no guesswork, saving me a good chunk of time during the week and ensuring I actually eat breakfast on busy mornings. — Ellen HoffmanThis handy water bottle that takes the guesswork out of hydrationAmazonCactaki 32 oz Water Bottle with Time Marker$18.95 FROM AMAZONOriginally $24.95 | Save 24%This water bottle comes with me everywhere I go. The secure lid ensures no spillage in my bag and the removable strap adds versatility in transportation. The printed tracking is the main selling point as a quick glance can let me know how I am doing with my daily water intake and if needed motivate me to ensure I am drinking at least 64oz of water per day. In a sense, this water bottle has gamified drinking water and that's fun for a gift! — Frank MassaroRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 21st, 2021

44 thoughtful and useful gifts under $25 you can buy on Amazon this holiday season

I asked my colleagues to share the best things they've bought for under $25 on Amazon. These are all of our favorite affordable finds. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Getty Images Amazon has wide selections and low costs, making it difficult to know what's worth buying. The Insider Reviews team shared the best things they've bought on Amazon for under $25. We unearthed some interesting finds, from a cheddar cheesy powder to a vintage puzzle. Amazon has become the one-stop shop for an unbelievable amount of online purchases. The e-commerce kingpin has a huge selection where you'll find household names, low prices, and the two-day (or two-hour) Prime shipping that panders well to those among us who are gluttons for instant gratification.But a huge selection can make it time-consuming and ultimately expensive to root out what's really worth spending your money on. The best loophole is to seek out recommendations from people you trust. We asked our colleagues at Insider about the best things they've bought on Amazon for under $25 - most of whom spend every day researching and testing thousands of products to find the few worth writing home about. Below are the 44 best things we've bought on Amazon that cost us less than $25: A ring that holds your nail polish Amazon Wearable Nail Polish Holder Ring (small)For the manicure-obsessed friend, this nail care gift is something they'll absolutely need. The wearable nail polish holder allows you to flawlessly polish your nails without bothersome spills. —Taylor Jeffries A deck of tarot cards Lauren Savoie/Insider Original Tarot Cards Deck (small)I'm not into the occult, but this deck of tarot cards has bought be endless hours of fun with my friends and insight for journaling. On days I don't feel inspired to write in my journal, I pull a card and reflect on whatever feelings it brings up. —Lauren Savoie A quick-drying styling brush Jacqueline Saguin/Insider Volume & Body Round Brush (small)Some may think a blow dryer does all the work, but a round brush makes all the difference. Replacing the $5 styling brush I've owned far past its use, the Wet Round Brush completely revived my hair routine. It grips onto large hair sections and helps dry my entire head in 10 minutes, making it a great haircare product to gift. Knowing its on Amazon, I'll definitely be gifting myself this brush more frequently. —Jacqueline Saguin A satisfying foot peel mask Amazon Foot Peel Mask (small)Ok, I know these things are all over the internet, but this winter is the perfect time to gift one of these viral foot peels. It took about five days for my feet to start peeling after using it, but it was so satisfying in a really gross, but fascinating sort of way. The end result was that my feet looked and felt softer, but I have to say that the process was all part of the fun. —Lauren Savoie A cat teaser toy that keeps interest Amazon Natural Instinct Cat Bait Morpho Teaser Toy (small)As a crazy cat mom, I'm constantly looking for new toys that my cat will like and she is very picky and loses interest pretty quickly. For whatever reason, she is obsessed with this teaser toy. I originally bought it for myself because I was tired of bird wands breaking or snapping and this looked like it had more solid construction (it does). An unexpected result is that my cat loves this gift more than any I've ever bought her and still hasn't lost interest a few months in. —Lauren Savoie Delicious coffee grounds Sally Kaplan/Insider Coffee Chicory (small)I usually abide by a time-consuming pour-over routine that involves grinding my own beans every morning, but when I'm short on time (and honestly, even when I'm not), I've come to rely heavily on this Cafe Du Monde chicory coffee. Most pre-ground coffee is flavorless and brews a weak cup, but this stuff is strong, rich, and delicious. Ten out of ten, highly recommend gifting this to a coffee lover! —Sally Kaplan A handy dough scraper Amazon Two-Piece Dough Scraper (small)If they bake a lot, do them a favor and gift a pack of these plastic bench scrapers. They're great for scraping dough out of bowls or off the counter — I can't tell you how handy they are! —Sally Kaplan A two-in-one workout bra tank Jacqueline Saguin/Insider Padded Sports Bra Tank Top (small)I've found some of my favorite workout pieces from Amazon. This two-in-one sports bra tank has a smoothing material that rivals luxury activewear fabrics that you may gift this season. Its cropped cut meets high-waisted leggings for a flattering fit. Plus, it comes in 19 fun colors. —Jacqueline Saguin A sweet-smelling scrub for sensitive skin Jacqueline Saguin/Insider Brown Sugar Body Scrub (small)Face and body scrubs make me nervous because of my sensitive skin, but this brown sugar exfoliator combines natural ingredients like sweet almond oil that are nourishing and gentler than other formulas. I typically use it on my body before I shave or before I apply self-tanner. It's comforting knowing that whenever I run out I can get it in just a couple of days. —Jacqueline Saguin A convenient Bluetooth charging port for your car Amazon Bluetooth FM Transmitter (small)My car is from 2005, long before Bluetooth connectivity in cars were standard. This little transmitter instantly brought my car up to present-day standards, letting me stream music and directions from my phone via an open radio channel. It plugs into the cigarette lighter and even has two USB ports so my husband and I can both charge our phones on long rides. It cost less than $15 and gifting this device will make your driving experience infinitely more enjoyable. —Lauren Savoie  A plastic bath drain cover Amazon Bottomless Bath Overflow Drain Cover (small)Ok, I know everyone and their mother raves about this gift, but it's the only thing allowing me to take baths in my current apartment. Our claw foot tub is from the early 20th century and if I don't cover the overflow drain, my bathtub only accommodates enough water to barely reach the top of my thighs before it starts draining — not a very pleasant or relaxing bath. This little plastic overflow drain cover lets me soak deeply and comfortably in my tub. —Lauren Savoie A cheesy powder that takes popcorn to the next level Sally Kaplan/Insider Cheddar Cheese Powder (small)I generally eat pretty healthy, but I think I'm in love with this tub of powdered cheese. It's so good on popcorn, in mac and cheese, and sprinkled on any other sort of cracker, chip, etc. It's a supremely cheesy and salty and delicious treat to gift! This is honestly one of the best Amazon purchases I've made in years. —Sally Kaplan A practical but chic wine holder Amazon Wine Rack (small)I wanted a non-bulky wine rack to sit on my kitchen counter, and I love the bright gold of this one. This honeycomb design holds seven bottles officially, but nine if you add two on top — and if you need more storage, you can buy two and stack them. —Rachael Schultz A set of hair clips Amazon Big Hair Claw Clips (small)I have really long hair and most clips can't hold it all back when I'm washing my face. These oversized clips are so great, I gifted the other three in this set to friends with crazy curly hair. All four of the matte colors are very lowkey and match everything. I've dropped mine at least two dozen times, and it has yet to break. —Rachael Schultz A challenging puzzle that doubles as vintage home decor Amazon Cats and Kittens 1,000 Piece Puzzle (small)I once gifted a Cavallini Papers & Co. puzzle to a puzzle lover, and they thought it was the perfect blend of challenging and aesthetically pleasing. They hung it up afterward, adding a sense of accomplishment as well as a nice vintage touch to their space. The company has even more fun designs like house plants and national parks map. —Jacqueline Saguin  A ring light that pulls out all the stops Jacqueline Saguin/Insider 10-inch LED Ring Light (small)I took a cue from our Insider Reviews team by gifting myself its pick for the best budget ring light. It has made my job on the style and beauty reviews team much easier, drastically cutting down on my photo-taking time. When I test makeup and clothing, I can set this up anywhere and adjust it to the angle I need in order to do my products justice. I love changing between its three different light settings: white, warm yellow, and warm white, to find the perfect glow. —Jacqueline Saguin An out-of-this-world moon lamp Jacqueline Saguin/Insider Saturn Lamp (small)Earning the title of Insider Reviews' best planet moon lamp, this light offers 16 soothing hues that illuminate a Saturn shape. I love its unique look and the subtle glow it gives while I watch movies at nighttime. This gift offers four color modes, including flash, strobe, fade, and smooth. The latter is my favorite as it softly transitions through all the colors. —Jacqueline Saguin A decorative antique tray that shows off and stores your beauty products Amazon Product CardThis tray is an aesthetically pleasing stage that doubles as decor and a proud home for my cosmetics. I use it in my bathroom, storing the skincare products and perfume I reach for every day. I've seen people using it on TikTok as a jewelry vanity to display their favorite pieces. —Jacqueline Saguin Spiral hair ties that won't break Kitsch Spiral Hair Ties (small)After using elastic hair ties for so long, I got tired of pulling out my hair, getting headaches, and snapping scrunchies. I had seen spiral hair ties before but assumed they wouldn't hold well. However, these ones from Kitsch really do the trick. They keep their shape, are comfortable, and avoid long-lasting ponytail bumps. I wear these with high ponytails, low ponytails, and even braids. —Katie Decker-Jacoby Espresso capsules that satisfy your coffee fix Amazon iperEspresso Capsule (Classico) (small)The majority of my Amazon order history is made up of these illy espresso capsules, and the orders have even been way more frequent since I started working from home. You'll need one of the illy pod machines to use them (I have the X7) but the investment is 110% worth it in my opinion.I can whip up an Italian espresso in under a minute, and it tastes so much better than the coffee from the Nespresso and Keurig machines I previously owned. Being able to buy the pods off of Amazon means my caffeine supply is always well-stocked, and if I ever do run out, I know I can get more in just two days max. —Ashley Phillips A hair mask that restores moisture to your scalp Amazon Premium Repair Hair Mask (small)I was looking for hair masks because my hair tends to get really dry in the wintertime. I bought this hair mask after doing some research on Asian hair products, and I'm so glad I did. My hair feels soft and moisturized after I use it, even if I just use it as a normal conditioner. It works even better as a leave-in deep conditioner, and I highly recommend gifting it to anyone who wants to add moisture to their hair. Bonus: It also smells amazing. —Allison Jiang An iPad case that is multi-functional Amazon Rebound Pencil Case (small)I needed a simple case for my new iPad Air 4 but was shocked by how much Apple charges for one of its cases. This option from ESR is a fraction of Apple's Smart Cover, and while it doesn't have as nice of a build quality as the Smart Cover, the ESR case is well-made nonetheless. It has a magnetic closure to wake the iPad's screen or put it to sleep, the cover folds into a stand, and there's a convenient slot for an Apple Pencil. My only complaint is that the case makes it hard to use the Touch ID sensor, but I'm quite satisfied given the price and overall usability. —Les Shu Fuzzy slippers to complete your work-from-home look Jacqueline Saguin/Insider Womens Fuzzy Slippers (small)I've been hearing about these Amazon slippers for months — from TikTok, Instagram, podcasts I listen to — so I had to give them a try. These slippers are comfy, just warm enough, and a perfect gift for working from home. The quality is also great for being under $20. An added bonus is that they come in almost any color you can imagine! —Victoria Gracie A knit beanie that's stylish and comfortable Amazon/Business Insider Acrylic Watch Hat (small)I've noticed Carhartt beanies have become increasingly popular and I finally jumped on the bandwagon. This beanie is cute, comfortable, and super warm. I got it in black so it would go with almost anything and I've been wearing it nonstop since I got it. —Victoria Gracie Ingredients for a favorite recipe Amazon Nature's Organic Freeze-Dried Strawberries (small)I buy a lot of recipe ingredients, spices, and hot sauces on Amazon that I'm less likely to find in stores near me, like these freeze-dried strawberries. They are the star ingredient in my Berry Crinkle Cookies recipe; I use one whole package per batch. — Ellen Hoffman  A liquid cleanser that works as a gentle hand soap for sensitive skin Amazon Liquid Cleanser (small)I bought this as an alternative to my household's Bath & Body Works hand soap stock. Its fragrance-free, sulfate-free, and dermatologist-tested formula pleases my sensitive skin. This straightforward cleanser gift never causes redness or irritation for frequent hand washers like me. I pour the liquid into a decorative holder so it matches my bathroom. — Jacqueline Saguin Makeup storage that fits a snug countertop Amazon Makeup and Jewelry Big Storage Case Display (small)I've always struggled with storing my makeup since I don't have a ton of space and I can never seem to find a way to keep it all organized. Most of my makeup fits nicely into these drawers and everything is now easy to find and organized. The drawers fit a ton, but aren't too large, making them the perfect gift to use on a bathroom countertop, dresser, or vanity. —Victoria Gracie Pimple patches that suck the gunk right out of your pores Left: Mighty Patch Original. Right: Invisible+ Mighty Patch. Mara Leighton/Insider Mighty Patch Original (36-count) (small, Preferred: Amazon)If you look at my Amazon history, these pimple patches are the only thing I consistently order. They're super effective at drawing out fluids from pimples and helping them deflate, and as small, virtually clear stickers, they're hardly noticeable by other people. Within a few hours, you can expect them to noticeably improve the look and swelling of your pimple — they're that reliable. — Connie Chen A natural clay mask that has a cult-following Jacqueline Saguin/Insider Indian Healing Clay Mask (small, Preferred: Amazon)This mask, as seen on Insider, transformed my skin and is probably my most recommended product to gift this season. The best part? It's $15! — Chelsey Hoffman A milk frother for homemade treats Amazon MilkPro Milk Frother (small)This gift is the BOMB. So easy to use and clean, and to spice up my weekend coffees/matcha drinks at home, allowing me to live my best bougie life. — Kirstie Jiongco A wash and stain bar that will keep your shirt collars looking nicer for longer Amazon Wash & Stain Bar (small)No $6 has had a more positive impact on my effort to preserve my clothing than the $6 I spent on this bar by The Laundress. I learned about this product from editor-in-chief Ellen Hoffman and I can honestly say it's the best thing I've done for my dress shirts. One bar has lasted me well over a year, and I just need to wet my shirt collar and rub the bar back and forth a few times before washing. It gets rid of all of the grime and oil from my collars. I was able to rehab shirts that were ready to go to charity or become rags. — Breton Fischetti A mini waffle-maker that gets the job done and takes up minimal countertop space Amazon Mini Waffle Maker (small)This teeny-tiny waffle maker is a small but mighty gift. For those rare instances when I'm craving a waffle or two, this very small appliance easily gets the job done and stays out of the way when it's stored. It's very easy to use and clean; just plug in and wait for the light, add your batter and close the iron. To clean, wait for the iron to cool down, then wipe with a damp cloth and you're done. — Melanie Winer  A pair of $15 earbuds that sound like they'd cost way more Amazon ErgoFit Earbuds (small)These Panasonic earbuds were easily the best $8.25 [price at the time] I ever spent on Amazon. The sound quality is fantastic and they're incredibly comfortable. I'm not someone who would ever spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of over-the-ear headphones, so these are exactly a budget-friendly gift. — Andrew Meola Hangers that actually keep your clothes hung up Jacqueline Saguin/Insider Velvet Non-Slip Clothes Hangers (30 Pack) (small)Clothes falling off hangers are a thing of the past once you gift these grippy velvet hangers to upgrade their closet. — Ellen Hoffman  A little 'Tub Shroom' that catches your hair before it clogs the drain Amazon Revolutionary Tub Drain Protector (small)Between her curly red hair and my long brown hair, my roommate and I shed a lot. Our tub doesn't have a drain catch and after a particularly effortful session with a plastic drain cleaner, I decided it was finally time to try this viral hair catcher out. This small silicone tool fits into most standard tub drains and collects all the hair before it washes down and clogs your drain. Take it out, remove the hair with a piece of toilet paper, and it's ready for the next shower."  — Connie Chen  Comfortable, public-friendly sweatpants Amazon Women's Drawstring Striped Joggers (small)As work from home continues, I've been looking for more sweatpants that I can comfortably work in that are also appropriate for walks and socially distant plans. These sweats are affordable to gift, have sustained washes and all-day wear, and the rainbow stripe down the side adds a bit of fun." — Emily Hein No-slip gel gripped socks Amazon Microfiber Liner Socks (small)These PEDS socks are the only ones I use, and I wear sneakers almost every day. The no-slip gel grips on the heel keep them from falling off and bunching up. — Sally Kaplan A hairbrush that won't break after a few months Wet Rubberized Wet Detangle Shower Brush (small)My thick hair has a long history of eating brushes, but the Wet Brush finally put a stop to that! It painlessly smooths out tangles and the bristles are tough enough that I only have to buy a new one every year or so. Before, my brushes only ever made it a few months. — Ashley Phillips An inexpensive, well-designed measuring cup Amazon Good Grips 3-Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set (small)OXO is my go-to kitchen brand for cheap, well-designed tools. This measuring cup set has an angled surface that allows you to see measurement markings from above as you're pouring, so you can better measure ingredients without bending or lifting the cup to eye level. I also highly recommend gifting OXO's silicone baking mat for creating a non-stick surface that makes for easier cleanups and this cookie scoop for scooping out balls of dough that are all the same size. — Ellen Hoffman  A slim wastebasket that fits almost anywhere, but also fits a lot of garbage Amazon Skinny Trash Can (small)Love this slim garbage can that fits into narrow spaces, but still holds a lot. — Navah Maynard Affordable jewelry that lets you save up for an investment piece Amazon Layered Choker Necklace (9-piece) (small)I love chokers and layering different necklaces together, but I have a short attention span when it comes to jewelry. I tend to lean more towards affordable jewelry that I can experiment with on different looks before committing to staple pieces that I know I'll wear forever. This choker set was a great addition to my summer looks, and now I have more of an idea of what I'm looking for when I eventually take the plunge on long-wear jewelry. — Emily Hein A PopSocket to make gripping a large iPhone less strenuous on your fingers Jacqueline Saguin/Insider PopGrip (small, Preferred: Amazon)When I got my iPhone X, I also picked up a PopSocket grip to make it easier to hold my phone without straining my fingers. I love it as a gift because it's practical, keeps one's phone secure, and lets me express my crazy cat lady side. — Malarie GokeyEditor's note: They come in a variety of colors and designs. A rapid egg cooking machine that's completely foolproof Amazon Rapid Egg Cooker (small, Preferred: Amazon)After I read Jen Gushue's review of this under-$20 rapid egg cooking gadget, I was fully influenced to buy it. It makes hard-boiled eggs in half the time of traditional methods with absolutely no guesswork, saving me a good chunk of time during the week and ensuring I actually eat breakfast on busy mornings. — Ellen Hoffman This handy water bottle that takes the guesswork out of hydration Amazon 32 oz Water Bottle with Time Marker (small)This water bottle comes with me everywhere I go. The secure lid ensures no spillage in my bag and the removable strap adds versatility in transportation. The printed tracking is the main selling point as a quick glance can let me know how I am doing with my daily water intake and if needed motivate me to ensure I am drinking at least 64oz of water per day. In a sense, this water bottle has gamified drinking water and that's fun for a gift! — Frank Massaro Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 11th, 2021

Astronomers are urging NASA to build a huge space telescope to see Earth-like worlds outside our solar system

NASA is just about to launch a groundbreaking space telescope. But a once-a-decade report asks the agency to start building the next one now. An artist's rendering of a proposed space telescope called LUVOIR. NASA GSFC Astronomers are asking NASA to build a huge space telescope that could image Earth-like exoplanets. That's just one recommendation in a new decadal report that sets the stage for 2020s astronomy. NASA doesn't yet have technology to see the faint glow of Earth-like exoplanets. NASA is about to launch its new flagship space observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope, which can peer so deep into the cosmos that it may see the afterglow of the Big Bang. But some astronomers are already calling for the next big space telescope - one that could take photos of Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published its new Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics on Thursday. Astronomers look to this report to define each decade in space, since the survey guides NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF). This time, the report looks beyond the next 10 years, recommending that NASA and the NSF spend the 2020s investing in a series of telescopes that would change our understanding of the universe in decades that follow.The most ambitious proposal in the report suggests that NASA build an $11 billion space telescope that can peer across the universe in optical, infrared, and ultraviolet light. Such a telescope would have a 6-meter mirror and the ability to dull distant starlight, thereby enabling it to spot Earth-like worlds orbiting other stars. The proposal calls for this observatory to launch in the first half of the 2040s.The telescope would then be poised to take the first photos of planets beyond our solar system - called exoplanets - where life may thrive. According to Vanderbilt University astronomer Keivan Stassun, those images would resemble the famous "Pale Blue Dot" photo of Earth, which NASA's Voyager spacecraft snapped in 1990 after it zipped past Neptune."We'll be able to understand the makeup of that Earth. We'll understand what's on its surface. We'll be able to measure the contents of the atmosphere that it holds, if it has an atmosphere. That's science fiction becoming science fact," Stassun, who is on the steering committee for the decadal survey, told Insider. The original Pale Blue Dot image, released February 14, 1990. Earth is visible as a bright speck within the sunbeam just right of center. NASA To study those worlds, this future space telescope would need to blot out the shine of distant stars, since the light of small planets is about 10 billion times fainter than starlight. NASA doesn't currently have the technology to do that."We have to be able to suppress that starlight by a factor of 10 million times or more, while at the same time preserving the faint little firefly glow of the planet itself," Stassun said. "We believe we can get there, but that's going to take a long time. We're going to have to demonstrate in the laboratory. We're going to have to probably fly some precursor missions to show that it can work. That's a tall order."The new report tells NASA and NSF to build, build, build An artist's impression shows a super-Earth exoplanet and its star. ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser A space observatory that can image alien worlds may be the most ambitious telescope proposed in the new decadal report, but it's certainly not the only one. The authors said their recommendations would advance three scientific goals: studying habitable worlds beyond our solar system; understanding black holes, dead stars, and the explosive events that create them; and learning how galaxies form and evolve.But astronomers need better telescopes for those studies, the report says. So it asserts that the NSF's highest priority should be completing its largest land-based telescopes already under construction: the Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile and the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawai'i. For NASA, the report recommends a new "Great Observatories" program to develop multiple space missions at once, including the ambitious telescope that could see Earth-like worlds.The decadal survey also recommends expanding Earth's array of radio telescopes, upgrading existing gravitational-wave observatories and building new ones, and developing an observatory that would study microwave radiation left over from the Big Bang."As we learned with the James Webb Space Telescope, our ambitious scientific objectives now simply cannot fit neatly within a decadal timeframe," Stassun said.He added: "There's a large number of things that we are saying we need to start on today."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 4th, 2021

Facebook contractor speaks out about the "messy" end to their job

Facebook contractors are being laid off after perks evaporated and break time began being tracked intensely. Also, DTC darling Warby Parker just cut dozens of corporate roles. A Facebook contractor took us inside the "messy" termination of their job, and DTC darling Warby Parker just cut dozens of corporate roles. If this was forwarded to you, sign up here. Download Insider's app here.Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.Drew Angerer/Getty Images1. Inside the "messy" end of a Facebook contractor's job. Many contractors in Austin, Texas recently lost their jobs after seeing perks evaporate, their work habits monitored intensely, and being put on more performance-improvement plans, Insider has learned.Facebook has a $500 million a year deal with Accenture to provide hourly content moderation and business-integrity services. People contracted through Accenture began being laid off late last month, according to a former worker whose role was eliminated.Before the layoffs, Accenture workers had access to perks like breakfast, gas reimbursement, and a food stipend for weekend work. But by late April and early May, contractors started seeing Facebook roll back some of these perks. Productivity trackers used to oversee and log contractors' work became more "intense," one worker told Insider, adding "I really wasn't expecting it all."Everything else the contract worker told us.Andy Kiersz/Insider2. These tech skills can get you paid more. New data shows that jobs requiring certain skills have seen pay increases this year, while others requiring common skill sets have seen pay drops — sometimes significantly. View the full chart here.3. Tom Brady has lost thousands of dollars on a Bored Ape NFT he bought in April. Since buying it for 133 ether, or $430,000, his NFT's worth has dropped by 68%. Here's how much Brady's lost on the NFT.4. Y Combinator's head of admissions shared what she's looking for. Even in the middle of the downturn, Stephanie Simon is reviewing over 10,000 startups for the exclusive accelerator's next cohort. Here's her advice for founders who want to be in the 2% of accepted applicants. 5. DTC pioneer Warby Parker cut 63 corporate jobs. An internal email viewed by Insider showed the eyewear brand eliminated dozens of roles from several teams across its corporate headquarters. What we know about the layoffs.6. Tornado's crypto token fell 24% after the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on the cryptocurrency mixer. As per Bloomberg, North Korea's Lazarus Group used Tornado to launder money stolen in large crypto hacks, according to US authorities.7. VCs said these are the rising-star consumer companies to watch. We rounded up a list of 10 companies — ranging from DTC brands to meal-delivery services — that VCs believe are paving the way for the next generation of consumer brands. See the top 10 picks here.8. One of the biggest textbook publishers is mulling a move to the blockchain. Pearson is looking for a way to earn a cut on resold textbooks — and its CEO said moving to the blockchain and NFTs could give the company some sales from resold books. More on the future of textbooks.Odds and ends:Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images9. Elon Musk revealed more details about his "very small" $45,000 property. During a podcast interview, Musk said that while he doesn't have a "main residence," he stays in a three-bedroom apartment half a mile away from SpaceX's South Texas rocket factory. What we learned about Musk's small home.10. Yes, BeReal notifies users about screenshots. The buzzy social-media app will warn you if someone screenshots your photo. Here's how it works and how to see who's screenshotted your photos.What we're watching today:Blockchain Futurist, Canada's largest blockchain and crypto conference, kicks off today.Coinbase, Roblox, and others are reporting earnings. Keep up with earnings here.President Joe Biden is set to sign the CHIPS and Science Act into law.Digital Summit New York starts today.Keep updated with the latest tech news throughout your day by checking out The Refresh from Insider, a dynamic audio news brief from the Insider newsroom. Listen here.Curated by Jordan Parker Erb in New York. (Feedback or tips? Email jerb@insider.com or tweet @jordanparkererb.) Edited by Hallam Bullock (tweet @hallam_bullock) in London.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 9th, 2022

Adele takes out $38M mortgage on luxurious $58M Los Angeles home

Adele has taken out a nearly $38 million mortgage on her fourth home in Los Angeles, which she reportedly bought from "Rocky" star Sylvester Stallone. "Rumour Has It" pop star Adele is living large, once again. The "Chasing Pavements" singer took out a nearly $38 million mortgage on a luxury Los Angeles mansion she purchased from Sylvester Stallone in February. The property has reportedly been dubbed by Stallone "the house that ‘Rocky’ built." The mansion boasts eight bedrooms and 12 bathrooms and is built in the exclusive Beverly Park area, according to the New York Post.  The home features a screening room, a cigar room with a custom bar, an eight-stall garage, an infinity pool, a spa and an art studio, among other amenities.  ADELE CONCERT TICKETS SURGE UP TO $40K, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’S PRICES SOAR TO $4K AS FANS EXPRESS OUTRAGE Adele’s 30-year mortgage payments will reportedly cost $227,000 per month, including property taxes and a 5% interest rate, the Daily Mail reported.  The price tag may probably isn't an issue for Adele, 34, since this is her fourth mansion in Los Angeles. The singer’s net worth is approximately $183 million.  Last month, the British pop star announced she rescheduled her canceled tour dates for her Las Vegas residency.  Fans were shocked to see ticket prices on the secondary market exceeding $40,000 per seat for the "Weekends with Adele" tour.  CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT NEWSLETTER In addition to 24 rescheduled shows, the "Easy On Me" singer added eight dates. Her tour will run from Nov. 18 to March 25 at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.  In May, Adele also appeared to be moving in with her boyfriend, NBA agent Rich Paul, in one of her luxurious homes, as she took to Instagram to post a photo of the two holding house keys.  In the post, Adele and Paul were standing on the front lawn of a beautiful white two-story mansion with brown pillars on the wraparound porch. The photo was shared with a series of pictures of the couple. They have been dating for a year.  A rep for Adele did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment......»»

Category: topSource: foxnewsAug 4th, 2022

38 thoughtful and appropriate gift ideas for your boss

From cute desk accessories to delicious food and snacks, these gifts will make your boss feel appreciated. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.From cute desk accessories to delicious food and snacks, these gifts will make your boss feel appreciated.MugsAndPins/Etsy/Otherland Show a great boss your appreciation with a thoughtful (but office-friendly) gift.  Below, we rounded up some of our favorite work-appropriate gifts, from tech to coloring books. Looking for more gifts from Insider Reviews? Shop gift ideas for everyone in your life here. Whether virtually or in person, you likely spend the majority of your day with your coworkers. If you like them enough, you might even get them a thank-you gift for all the good times in and out of the office. Giving a gift to a great boss — someone who makes a big difference in how you approach daily work activities and helps you grow professionally — can feel trickier. Since they're your manager, it's important that your gift maintains professionalism, but still gets the message across that you appreciate their hard work and know what they like, whether they're fans of "The Office" or really love candy.Below, we've rounded up 38 great gifts for your boss, from useful desk accessories to beautiful notebooks. Plus, since you'd never want your boss to know if you were late to the game, we have plenty of digital and same-day delivery options included.The 38 best affordable, work-appropriate gifts for your boss:Their very own "The Office" mugMugsAndPins/Etsy"The Office" Mug, from $20.50, available at EtsyRemember when Kelly threw a party in "The Office," gave out mugs like these as party favors, and quietly exacted revenge against Dwight and Jim for missing it? Well, if your boss is a fan of "The Office," they'll appreciate having their very own version of one.Custom stationery designed by independent artistsMintedCustom Stationery, $66, available at MintedBeautiful, unique stationery is great for thank you cards or random "thinking of you" messages sent to loved ones. But few of us think to buy it ahead of the moment in which we need it. This gift is thoughtful, appropriate, and functional. A personalized video message from their favorite celebrityCameoCameo video, from $1, available on CameoIf your workplace is less formal, you could get them a personalized message from their favorite celebrity. Whether they love a certain musician, reality TV star, comedian, or actor in a show you've both bonded over, there's a good chance you can find them on Cameo. The price will depend on the star, but there are plenty of options. You can read our full review of the service here.A custom leather luggage tagLeatherologyDeluxe Luggage Tag, $40, available at LeatherologyThese leather luggage tags are available in a variety of colors and come gift-wrapped. You can add a monogram for $10 or handpainted personalization for $40. A sweet surprise delivered right to their inboxSugarwishSugarwish Treat Boxes, from $23, available at SugarwishSugarwish's business model is simple: You pick the number of treats they receive, the recipient gets an email inviting them to select their favorite treats, and their selected treats are shipped directly to them. It's a practically foolproof gift for a boss because everyone loves candy, and you don't have to go through the awkwardness of figuring out their address. A beautiful planner they can start later in the yearAmazonRifle Paper Co. 2023 17-Month Hard Cover Spiral Planner, $40, available at AmazonThe hard thing about gifting planners is finding ones that work mid-way through the year. The 17-month Rifle Paper Co. planner starts from August 2022 and goes through December 2023, so your boss can mark down important dates, set to-do lists, and jot down any other notes for a long time after they get this awesome gift from you.An audiobook subscriptionAmazonAudible Subscription, from $7.95 per month, available at AudibleWhether they're commuting to the office again or not, audiobooks are a useful way to pass the time no matter what they do. As a bonus, it's a gift that can be delivered to them day-of.Read our full review of Audible here. A subscription that delivers the best teas or coffees to their doorAtlas Tea ClubAtlas Tea Club, Three-Month Subscription, from $55, available at Atlas Tea ClubAtlas Coffee Club, Three-Month Subscription, from $60, available at Atlas Coffee ClubThis subscription sends them delicious, unique single-origin teas or coffees from the best regions in the world for three months. It'll make each day just a little more pleasant.The best socks they'll ever wearBombasWomen's Solids Ankle Sock 4-Pack, from $49.40, available at BombasMen's Solids Ankle 4-Pack, from $49.40, available at BombasBombas makes the best socks in our closets. We've been vocal supporters of the brand for years thanks to its durability, comfort, and superior materials.Another part of Bombas' appeal is that the company donates a specifically designed pair of socks to a homeless shelter for every pair purchased. If you're not sold on those, we also like these $20 tube socks from the Parks Project — which helps fund projects in national parks. A handmade, plantable cardEtsyPlantable Seed Cards With Envelopes, $20, available at EtsySometimes the most thoughtful and appropriate gift is a handwritten card that they know you didn't just pick up in a rush. These beautiful handmade cards on Etsy support a small business and are made of seed paper, so they can plant their card and watch wildflowers grow.If you want to add something extra to show your appreciation, a Starbucks gift card is as safe as it gets. A towel designed like their favorite city or hometownWest ElmClaudia Pearson City Tea Towels, $20, available at West ElmIf they're a big fan of their current home or the town they grew up in, you can pay homage to that aspect of them with a cool, functional, and sentimental tea towel illustrated with city maps. A sweet succulent in a cute planterThe SillEcheveria Lola, $48, available at The SillSucculents make for great desk plants since they require little more than direct sunlight and occasional watering. This one also comes in a sleek pastel planter, making it look like a more upscale gift.A beautiful frame for their deskFramebridgeThe Little Gift, available at Framebridge, from $49Whether it adorns their desk in the office or their WFH station, a small frame filled with an image of their favorite memory, place, people, or pets is always appreciated. If you'd rather let them personalize it and choose their own photo, go with a gift card.Trendy olive oil that elevates any mealBrightlandAlive Olive Oil, $37, available at BrightlandIf they spend a lot of time in the kitchen, they probably already know the merits of high-quality olive oil. A drizzle of Alive from Brightland adds a vibrant, zesty flavor to any dish. Plus, the beautiful bottle will look great on display in their kitchen.A relaxing adult coloring bookAmazonThe Art of Mandala, $3.99, available at AmazonStudies focused on the benefits of adult coloring books often reveal mandalas are the most effective designs for relaxation and induction of a meditative state. Their complex geometric patterns can be traced back to both ancient Buddhist and Hindu traditions.This affordable book contains 50 mandalas that vary in complexity and detail, so they can slowly work their way up to the most challenging patterns or work on a simple design when time is limited. A fun desk toySpeksSpeks Magnet Balls, $34.95, available at SpeksThe makers of our favorite magnetic desk toy have a new way to reduce stress and keep your boss entertained. These tiny magnetic balls make for a good mental break as well as help us concentrate in meetings. A virtual helperWalmartGoogle Nest Mini, from $29.99, available at TargetThe Google Nest Mini offers a compact, affordable smart speaker with Google Assistant built-in. They'll love being able to dim lights, control the volume on their TV, check the weather, and more, all with just the sound of their voice. Read our full review of the Google nest Mini here.This option is best for people who prefer Google's tech ecosystem. You may also want to consider the Amazon Echo Dot for Amazon users.Comfortable house slippersEverlaneThe ReNew Slipper, $19, available at EverlaneMost of us are spending a lot more time at home these days. And it's more enjoyable to do that when you're wearing some of the most comfortable slippers on the planet. We are big fans of the ReNew Slippers from Everlane — and they're relatively inexpensive.The best pens for their officeAmazonMuji Gel Ink Ball Point Pens, $5.80, available at AmazonMuji's fine 0.38mm tip pen is a cult favorite — including among our teammates. According to the company, the water-based ink enables smooth writing, minimal bleeding, and a mechanism that helps keep the ink from drying out. If they write handwritten notes for work, they may have an outsized appreciation for this small but impactful upgrade. They're sold out on Muji, but you can still find them on Amazon.A custom book embosserEtsyCustom Stamp, from $18.81, available at EtsyThis unique, thoughtful gift embosses books with "from the library of [their name]" by pressing down on it like a hole-puncher — it's the kind of thing most people would never buy themselves but will genuinely cherish if they receive it as a gift. They can use it on book pages as well as envelopes. Three months of great hardcover books delivered to their doorBook of the MonthA Book of the Month subscription, from $49.99, available at Book of the MonthBook of the Month has been around for more than 90 years — and it's credited with hand-selecting and helping popularize books that range from Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" to J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye." With your gift, your boss will get to choose between five new hardcover options the book club suggests every month.Their favorite food from across the USGoldbellyA meal from Goldbelly, prices varyNo matter where they've spent the year, you can send them their favorite foods from across the US by using Goldbelly — the company will deliver everything from Junior's cheesecake to Lou Malnati pizza to their doorstep. Or, give them a gift card so they can pick out a treat for themselves.A kit built for the work-from-home lifestyleMacy'sPinch Provisions Work From Home Survival Kit, $14, available at The Paper StoreIf they're getting tired of their office being in their living room, they'll appreciate this kit that takes a bit of the strain out of working from home. A conference call bingo card, desk yoga guide, and fidget cube are just a few of the quirky (yet useful) items they'll find in this set.A desk sign with a hint of humorUncommon GoodsDesk Name Plates, from $14.99, available at EtsyIf you and your boss have a humorous rapport going, they could get a kick out of this witty take on the everyday office signage. Plus, the sleek wooden and gold design let the sign speak for itself without appearing overly kitschy. A leather business card holderLeatherologyBusiness Card Case, $50, available at LeatherologyFirst impressions matter, which is why they should be pulling out business cards from a handsome leather case. It has a no-fuss, invisible magnetic closure and can hold up to 20 cards. Choose from pebbled or smooth leathers in a variety of colors, or upgrade to premium leather. You can also add a monogram for an additional $10. A soft throw to fight freezing office temperaturesAmazonEddie Bauer Sherpa Throw, $34.99 available at Kohl'sOwners of this large, cozy throw only have good things to say about it. It's plush and warm, with one side made of micro-fleece and the other made of sherpa fleece.A lightweight portable keyboardBest BuyLogitech K480 Bluetooth Multidevice Keyboard, $34.99, available at Best BuyIf you notice your boss complaining about lugging their laptop everywhere, this might be a fix they didn't realize existed. With a slim Bluetooth keyboard, your boss can leave the laptop at home and still get work done while traveling. We like this one because it's quiet and comfortable to type on. Their new favorite way to make delicious cold brewBlue BottleHario Cold Brew Bottle, $37, available at Blue BottleIf there's anything that can power them through a long workday, it's cold brew. Just combine water and ground coffee (not included), and stick the bottle in the fridge for a refreshing caffeinated treat. A box of Korean sheet masksFacetory/InstagramSeven Lux 1 Month Gift Subscription, $19.90, available at FaceToryThe Korean sheet masks in this box are sure to bring some much-needed relief to any stressed-out boss. The brands, which often use out-of-the-ordinary ingredients, are usually difficult to find outside of Korea, but FaceTory makes them both accessible and affordable. A key cable they can bring anywhereAmazonNative Union Key Cable, from $29.99, available at AmazonIf your boss is always forgetting their charger at home and borrowing yours, this small portable cable charges up Apple devices quickly and claims to be six times stronger than the standard lightning cable, boasting a 10,000-bend lifespan. The knotted cable also looks great and makes it easy to fish out the charger from their bag. A versatile toiletry bag to bring on their travelsDagne DoverSmall Hunter Toiletry Bag, $40, available at Dagne DoverDagne Dover's durable and quick-drying neoprene is most notably featured in the brand's popular backpacks and gym bags, but it's also well-suited for this small bag that organizes your boss's life on the go. It includes a removable air mesh pouch and is available in a range of dusky colors and camo patterns. A beautiful vaseWest ElmBarro Vases, available at West Elm, from $33.60A vase is a pretty foolproof gift — it's just as good for the recently engaged (or recently promoted) person as it is for someone who would always prefer a practical gift over a knick-knack. If you're looking for something more minimalist, we recommend this version. Desk cable clips that keep cords neat and organizedAmazonShintop 6-Piece Cable Clips Set, $5.88, available on AmazonThis small but practical gift will sort out their jumble of cords for good. If you're worried that the set doesn't look significant enough, you can pair a few of these cable clips with a nice card and some candy. An insulated tumblerAmazonHydro Flask 32-Ounce Travel Tumbler Cup, $22.72, available at Hydro FlaskThe ergonomic comfort of a classic tall cup plus Hydro Flask's signature double-wall vacuum insulation makes this a coffee or tea vessel they'll always keep on hand. It keeps their beverage hot for up to six hours and includes a press-in lid to prevent spills. A luxurious candleOtherlandOtherland Candles, $36, available at OtherlandWith its beautiful packaging, unique scents, and special matchbox messages, Otherland turns the otherwise ordinary candle into a cherished gift. Take advantage of its limited-edition scents while they last, or find a suitable match in its diverse Core Collection. A way to celebrate the end of the quarterHarry & DavidMoose Munch Premium Popcorn Classic Tin, $54.99, available at Harry & DavidSend them this assortment of sweet and savory popcorn to get the new quarter started. This particular edition contains four decadent flavors of Moose Munch: classic caramel, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate s'mores. A protective cover for their AirPods caseAmazonPodSkinz AirPods Case Protective Silicone Cover, $4.95, available at AmazonApple AirPods: incredibly convenient, but also incredibly easy to lose and scratch up. A silicone cover is a cheap and attractive way to protect the case protecting their beloved earbuds. The newest smart home deviceAmazonEcho Dot (4th Gen), $19.99, available at TargetAmazon's bestselling smart speaker has an improved sound and look. Whether they want to coordinate a smooth-sailing smart home experience or enjoy music out loud, the Echo Dot can keep up. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 4th, 2022

Marilyn Monroe collector reveals why late Hollywood legend is more valuable 60 years after her death

Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe, also known as America's most famous sex symbol, had a reported net worth of $800,000 at the time of her tragic death in 1962. Marilyn Monroe’s market value is still shining brightly 60 years after her death. The Hollywood actress, also known as America’s most famous sex symbol, died in August 1962 at age 36. According to reports, the star had a net worth of $800K at the time of her death, which is nearly $8 million in today's money. Monroe’s net worth in 2022 is a reported $10 million. In 2020, she ranked No. 13 on Forbes’ list of highest-paid dead celebrities due to her image and name being used by nearly 100 brands globally. A fictionalized version of the star is the subject of an upcoming Netflix film, "Blonde," which has received an NC-17 rating. Scott Fortner, a lifelong fan, is determined to keep Monroe’s legacy alive by preserving some of her most prized possessions. Fortner, who is considered an authority on Monroe, assists major auction companies in authenticating and verifying memorabilia.  ANDY WARHOL'S MARILYN MONROE PORTRAIT SELLS FOR RECORD $195M He owns the world’s largest private collection of Monroe’s personal property and archives, which he shares on both his website and social media.  This year, he’ll be celebrating her life at several events at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. Fortner spoke to FOX Business about how he became a sought-after collector and why Monroe is more valuable than ever and offered his advice for fans eager to obtain an authentic piece of history. FOX Business: How did you end up becoming a Marilyn Monroe memorabilia collector?Scott Fortner: Like anyone, you’re just taken by someone or find yourself very interested in a particular figure. That’s what happened to me when I was probably 12 or 13. I was really fascinated by Marilyn Monroe. I started collecting books and magazines as I read and learned more about her. This continued through adulthood. Then, in 1999, her entire estate was put up for auction at Christie’s in New York. That auction really set the stage for celebrity auctions. I acquired the catalog from the auction, which became another book for my collection. But then I started to see some items from the 1999 sale that were being resold online on eBay and at other auction houses.  I thought to myself, "Why am I collecting books and magazines when I could be collecting items that Marilyn owned?" That’s how it started over two decades ago. … This isn’t an organization or a company investing in these items for business purposes or other concepts. I just happen to be a fan who’s lucky enough to collect. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS FOX Business: Do your items ever get loaned out to museums or is it strictly private?Fortner: As someone lucky enough to obtain these items, I feel a bit of an obligation and a duty to share them with the rest of the world and give other fans an opportunity to see Marilyn through her objects in the same way that I do.  I loan my collection for exhibitions. It’s been on exhibit around the world. I’ve often participated in opportunities to raise money for charitable causes. For example, some items have been on display to raise money for the actual orphanage where Marilyn lived as a child, which is still in business today. FOX Business: What’s your process like in finding authentic memorabilia?Fortner: When I first started, I didn’t know much about the auction business as we know it today. Over the years, I’ve come to learn more about the auction industry. I’m now connected with most of the major auction companies around the world, such as Christie’s, Julien’s Auctions and Heritage. Those are your top auction companies for entertainment memorabilia. I’m also pretty well known in the collecting community. A lot of times people will reach out to me privately to see if I might be interested in purchasing something that they may have. I believe networking and learning are really important if you want to expand your collection. And I’m always looking for the next thing to add to my collection. GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE FOX Business: How many items do you currently own?Fortner: I don’t have an exact number anymore. I stopped counting. But it’s in the several hundreds. FOX Business: What would you say is your crown jewel?Fortner: The item that I get asked the most about is Marilyn’s personal Pucci blouse. During the last few years of her life, she wore Pucci quite a lot. It was an Italian designer that she discovered, which shifted her look away from the ‘50s, such as the tight skirts and sweaters. It was a more modern, easier look. She had several Pucci items in her closet. She was also buried in a green Pucci dress. So the brand has become synonymous with Marilyn. The blouse I own happens to be the blouse she was wearing in the photos taken on the weekend before she passed away, the last photos ever taken of her alive. It’s the item I get frequently asked about in terms of selling. It’s not for sale. I’m a collector, not a dealer. The most recent item I’ve added to my collection is something I’ve wanted for quite some time. It’s a pair of Marilyn’s Ferragamo high heels. The white Ferragamo high heel was a go-to look for her. There are countless photos of Marilyn wearing them throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s. It’s a new staple in my collection that I added just last month. MARILYN MONROE’S FIGURE-HUGGING GOWN BECOMES TOP SELLER AT AUCTION: SHE’S ‘STILL TURNING HEADS TO THIS DAY’ FOX Business: Which item was the hardest for you to obtain?Fortner: Marilyn attended a benefit for the Actor’s Studio. She was an usherette. People would come into the theater, and Marilyn would escort them to their seats and hand them a program. I’m sure that must have been quite the experience to be escorted by Marilyn. She wore an ensemble that consisted of an evening dress and a matching cape. That item came up for auction several years ago. I bid on the item and was told that I had won. It turned out that it didn’t make the minimum bid or the reserve. A lot of times, a seller will say, "If it doesn’t reach this certain amount, I’m not going to sell the item." I found out after the auction and I went through the grueling process of attempting to negotiate with the seller. I bought it privately after the fact. It took several months for that to happen. But I was fortunate because it’s probably one of Marilyn’s most well-known public events. Now I have that cape as part of my collection. FOX Business: Marilyn passed away 60 years ago. Why do you believe she’s more valuable than ever?Fortner: For starters, she’s an icon. And I think people relate to her in so many ways today. Some people just enjoy her photos. Others enjoy her films. Some people relate to the personal struggles that she endured throughout her life. What I often find is that people feel a connection to her. There’s a sense of wanting to protect her. I think her appeal is very broad. And it’s not just in the United States — it’s worldwide. I’ve connected with other collectors and fans around the world, so her reach is very extensive and long-lasting. She’s an icon of beauty, for fashion and a legend of the silver screen. FOX Business: How difficult is it to find and buy authentic Marilyn memorabilia today?Fortner: What I’m seeing now is that people are very much holding onto their collectibles and memorabilia because it is increasing in value as time goes by. So whenever there is an auction, the number of pieces available can be very limiting. And Marilyn is one of those people whose value doesn’t decrease. She holds value and increases in value. So people aren’t as quick to put up their items for auction. Therefore, the availability is getting harder. MARILYN MONROE'S DRESSES FROM POPULAR MOVIES UP FOR AUCTION FOX Business: How can one determine whether an item is authentic or not? What are some tell-tale signs you look out for?Fortner: One of the first things you want to do is ensure you’re verifying authenticity. Where did the item come from? Did it come from that 1999 Christie’s sale or another auction sale, such as from Julien’s? You want to make sure it came from a major auction company and verify the year it was originally sold. Also, is there a photo that can be matched with the item? Is there a photo of Marilyn wearing the item, whether it was at home or a public event? Many items from my collection are photographed with Marilyn. What I tell people to avoid is what I call second- or third-generation items, such as a seller saying, "Marilyn gave this to me." Those items usually come with a letter or certificate of authenticity. Those items are very risky purchases and, usually, they’re not authentic. There’s a huge market today, particularly on eBay, where people will create certificates of authenticity claiming this is an authentic item when, in reality, it was probably something acquired from a secondhand store. They’ll just purchase the item, create a letter of authenticity, and then sell it for thousands of dollars on eBay. Unfortunately, many people tend to believe an item is real just because it comes with a certificate claiming it came from Marilyn’s makeup artist or hairstylist. Usually, that’s not the case. I’m so often contacted by people who say, "I’ve got this item for sale, and here’s the letter of authenticity for it." I’m in the position of having to tell them, "This item is not real, and here’s how I know that." A perfect example involves Marilyn’s foster sister, Bebe Goddard. Marilyn lived with the Goddard family for some time. [Later on], Bebe worked with a memorabilia dealer to create items that he sold for her, which were fake pieces. They even went as far as to spray Chanel No. 5 on those items. After she passed away, it was verified through her documents that these items were sold to people. Just because it was someone who was a part of Marilyn’s life, people believed they were real. And these items came with a certificate of authenticity claiming they were real. Today, people continue to create these fake letters of authenticity. And it’s not only with Marilyn items. It’s with all kinds of celebrity memorabilia. There are a few real items on eBay that are authentic. I would advise people to stick with the major auction companies.  NYC APARTMENT OF HOLLYWOOD LEGEND GRETA GARBO HITS MARKET FOR $7.25M: ‘CINEMATIC VIEWS' Also, autographs are very easy to forge. Today’s printers are so good. You can easily take a check, even an authentic Marilyn-owned check, and do a photocopy on the front and back. Then you’ll frame that item in a display case. A lot of times, people will do that. And, of course, many will think it’s real when, in reality, it’s just a copy. There are many other ways people forge signatures, even in autograph books and photographs. You have to do your homework and make sure that the item you’re purchasing is truly authentic. FOX Business: What about if you’re a Marilyn fan and want to own something that once belonged to her? What’s the first piece of advice you would give them?Fortner: My first piece of advice is to make sure this is something you’re going to have interest in the long-term, not just a spur-of-the-moment purchase. You don’t want to have buyer’s remorse. Also, set a budget. Auctions can get very emotional. It’s also very competitive. For some people, they just want to win. You want to make sure you set a budget and try not to go over it. People also tend to forget there are premiums that the auction companies apply as part of selling an item, as well as taxes. I have come across people who don’t realize that, after winning an auction, there’s a certain percentage on top of that for the premium and then another percentage on top of that for state taxes. It does add up. I would also stick to the major auction companies, especially if you’re starting. FOX Business: Every year, Marilyn continues to be one of the top-earning dead celebrities. How is she earning top dollar today?Fortner: Marilyn’s estate is owned by Authentic Brands Group, which is a company that owns the rights, licenses, marketing, advertising and branding for many deceased celebrities. They license Marilyn’s name and image to people who want to promote certain products. She’s still very much in demand, which is why Marilyn is one of the highest-earning dead celebrities today. .....»»

Category: topSource: foxnewsAug 4th, 2022

James Webb Space Telescope takes high-detail image of rare Cartwheel Galaxy, formed by a messy cosmic collision

The space telescope took a fresh look at the Cartwheel Galaxy and shed light on how the galaxy has evolved over billions of years. The James Webb Space Telescope captured a snapshot of the Cartwheel Galaxy, which is around 500 million light-years from Earth.NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI and Webb ERO Production Team NASA and the European Space Agency released new James Webb Space Telescope images of the Cartwheel Galaxy on Tuesday. The Cartwheel Galaxy is a ring galaxy 500 million light-years away, in the Sculptor constellation. Webb's infrared camera captured new details of the galaxy that the Hubble Space Telescope could not. The James Webb Space Telescope captured a snapshot of the Cartwheel Galaxy in greater detail than ever before, with new photos released by NASA and its partners on Tuesday. Located 500 million light-years away in the Sculptor constellation, the Cartwheel Galaxy is a rare ring galaxy that formed following a collision between a large spiral galaxy and a smaller one, giving it the appearance of a wagon wheel. It has two rings — a bright inner ring and a colorful outer one that ripple outward from the middle of the collision. The outer ring has been expanding from the center of the collision for around 440 million years. When it expands and hits surrounding gas, stars form.In the photo above, pockets of star formation appear as blue dots in the red swirls of dust. To the left of the Cartwheel Galaxy, Webb captured two other galaxies in the above image. The Cartwheel Galaxy was "presumably a normal galaxy like the Milky Way before its collision" and will continue to change in shape and structure in the future, NASA said a press release. The new image reveals details about star formation and the black hole at the center of the galaxy, and sheds light on how the galaxy has evolved over billions of years, the space agency said.Image of the Cartwheel Galaxy, left, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. Image of the Cartwheel Galaxy, right, taken with the James Webb Space Telescope.NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, HubbleThe form that the Cartwheel Galaxy will eventually take is still a mystery."However, this snapshot provides perspective on what happened to the galaxy in the past and what it will do in the future," the European Space Agency said in a press release.Webb's infrared camera can see through cosmic dust that obscured the galaxy from view when other telescopes, like the Hubble Space Telescope, observed it. Science operations for the powerful space-based observatory started last month, so it's sure to deliver more high-detail views of the cosmos.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 2nd, 2022

Pool-rental startup Swimply is here to help customers beat the heatwave. Check out 10 of the app"s most luxe pools you can rent across the US.

Sometimes known as the "Airbnb for pool rentals," Swimply lets customers rent pools for an average of $45-$75/hour. See some of the most luxe rentals. A dad works on his laptop while his daughter swims in a pool.ASIFE/Getty Images Swimply wants to expand the sharing economy into swimming pools.  The company provides a platform for users to rent other people's pools for an hourly rate.  Amid the heatwave this month, here are some of Swimply's most luxe pools for rent.  The past decade has given rise to ride-sharing and apartment-sharing, but startup Swimply hopes pool-sharing will be the next big thing. Founded in 2018, Swimply is an online platform that allows people to rent pools by the hour in other people's backyards. Pools are available for rent in the US, Canada, and Australia and go for an average of $45-$75 per hour on the platform, according to Swimply. Pool owners get to set their own prices. Much of the US is experiencing a heatwave, following the record-breaking temperatures in the UK and Europe earlier this month.  Many Americans may be dreaming of swimming this weekend, given the heat. Here are some of the most luxe pools for rent on Swimply this summer. This pool built on top of a hill in Temecula, California is available to rent for $87.30-$97/hour.Pool in Temecula, CA hosted by Joseph G.SwimplyThis 2-story pool in Temecula Wine Country features views of vineyards and resorts, according to the listing. It has a 50-foot waterslide and a waterfall connecting the upper and lower pools. The pool rental includes access to a hot tub, free WiFi, a fire pit, and an outdoor grill. This pool in Austin, Texas, with cabanas is available for $100 per hour.Pool for rent in Austin, TX by Crail & Joey L.SwimplyThe owners of this pool call it an "Instagrammers dreamscape and urban oasis." The pool has a water slide and includes cabanas and a hot tub. This "Staycation" pool in Edmond, Oklahoma can be rented for $70-$100 per hour.Pool in Edmond, Oklahoma hosted by Wendy H.SwimplyThis pool for rent in Oklahoma can accommodate up to 10 guests. The rental comes with free use of a basketball court, trampoline, speakers, and a shower.This Miami "resort-style" pool costs $60 per hour.Pool for rent in Miami, FL by Mario H.SwimplyThe owner of this pool calls it resort-style. Up to 50 guests can use this pool, and the owner says he can accommodate up to 30 cars parked near his house. This listing includes free use of the backyard playground pictured. This "Mediterranean" pool is available for rent in Paradise Valley, Arizona, for $45 per hour.Pool for rent in Paradise Valley, AZ by Gabrielle R.SwimplyThis pool includes a free outdoor smart TV that guests can watch from inside the pool or hot tub. The owner of this pool says that this is one of the only homes in the area with views of both Camelback and the Phoenix Cityscape. This pool with views of Las Vegas Lake is available to rent for $80 per hour.Pool for rent in Henderson, Nevada by Cory H.SwimplyThis pool comes with a wet deck, where guests can lounge in shallow water, along with 3 day beds. This listing includes pool toys and towels for free. This Austin, Texas, infinity pool costs $100-$200 per hour, depending on the date.Pool for rent in Austin, TX by Samantha B.SwimplyThis infinity pool boasts a waterfall grotto and waterslide. For additional fees, the host will provide pickleball paddles and a net, or a beer pong table complete with cups and balls. This pool located in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles is available for $80 per hour.Pool for rent in Los Angeles, CA by Scott C.SwimplyThe owner of this pool claims this home used to belong to a silent film star. The pool can only be reached by climbing 59 steps but has a view of the Pacific Ocean. For a $50 fee, renters can get a photo or video shoot at this pool. This pool with pink details in Nashville, Tennessee, can be rented for $90-$100 per hour.Pool in Nashville, TN for rent by Nathan B.SwimplyThis pool's owner says it was designed to look like a throwback to Palm Springs in the 1950s. For an extra $75 per hour, the owner will provide a poolside bartender to ensure your glasses stay full. This pool overlooking the Puget Sound in Washington can be rented for $99/hour.Pool for rent in Burien, Washington by Toan V.SwimplyThis pool has not only views of the Puget Sound but also the Olympic Mountains, according to the listing. For an extra $40, swimmers can have access to a grill. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 31st, 2022

Global Air Travel Logjam Stumps Airlines, Disrupts Countless Summer Travel Plans

Global Air Travel Logjam Stumps Airlines, Disrupts Countless Summer Travel Plans By Janice Hisle, of Epoch Times Summertime is supposed to be joyful for travelers heading to vacation destinations—and airlines, too, because that’s when they typically rake in cash by the barrel. But 2022 has ushered in a summer of discontent for passengers and airlines worldwide, as airlines’ plans for rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic travel slump have hit one logjam after another. Across the globe, especially in Europe, there’s a new epidemic: canceled, overbooked, and delayed flights—and airport storage areas overflowing with lost and misdirected baggage. These once-rare annoyances of air travel are now more commonplace; travelers who took smooth operations for granted now expect snafus—a new mindset that has changed the way they plan trips. To prevent issues, savvy travelers are increasingly entrusting delivery services like FedEx or UPS to transport luggage to their destinations. Some are putting GPS-enabled devices into their luggage, such as Apple’s AirTag or the Tile tracker. And people traveling in groups are sprinkling a few pieces of clothing per person into each checked bag instead of risking having someone lose an entire vacation wardrobe. Airport information screens are showing “ON TIME” less frequently this summer. (Stock photo/Matthew Smith/Unsplash) For now, if an air traveler manages to have a leisurely getaway and hassle-free experience, they might feel like they’ve won the lottery. Chances for bad experiences have increased, a trend likely to continue as the summer progresses, says Jay Ratliff, an aviation expert with more than three decades of experience. “Travel used to be something we enjoyed. But it’s turned into something we endure,” he said. One day last week, Ratliff’s email was brimming with more than 800 new messages, many of them from fed-up airline customers turning to him for help—or to vent. “I’ve never seen it this bad, industry-wide,” said Ratliff. “There are a lot of things contributing to this mess that we’re in, but it comes down to the airlines trying to operate too many flights, and they simply didn’t have enough employees to pull it off,” Ratliff said, noting the situation is “10 times worse in Europe.” Ratliff said that the percentage of flight delays serves as a barometer for how bad the problems are. During average years, he would see single-digit percentages of delayed flights for many airlines across the globe. But one day last week, 54 percent of British Airways flights were behind schedule, for example. He rattles off other recent jaw-dropping statistics at major hubs: In Brussels, Belgium, up to 72 percent of flights were late, and in Frankfurt, Germany, 68 percent of flights were delayed. In many cases, flight delays cause missed connections. When those passengers seek rebooking, the airlines often cannot find seats for them because flights are filled. That can leave passengers stranded at unintended destinations for hours, or even days. Ratliff said that several airports have been “begging airlines to stop selling tickets because terminals are filling up” with travelers waiting for rebooked flights. Adding to the mess: rental cars are scarce, another COVID-created problem. When pandemic was raging, few people were renting cars. That prompted rental companies to sell portions of their fleets. They also halted plans to buy replacements. Now that travelers are back, rental agencies are having problems securing new vehicles, which are selling at inflated prices. So when people try to get a rental car at the last minute, either because they failed to plan or were stranded by flight disruptions, they often rely on Uber or Lyft, or they may roam the airport for a prolonged period. Lufthansa was forced to cancel flights affecting about 130,000 passengers because of a worker strike set for July 27, 2022. (Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo, 2020/Reuters) This week, Europe’s woes worsened. German-based Lufthansa airlines announced it was canceling “almost all flights to and from Frankfurt and Munich.” The cancellations took effect July 27 because a union representing ground workers was waging a single-day walkout to demand higher pay. In a statement, the airline said the impact was “massive;” cancellations affected more than 130,000 passengers. Ratliff, who worked in management for Northwest Airlines from 1981-2001, explained how the COVID-19 pandemic set the stage for the current crisis. Airlines were forced to cut their workforces through layoffs and early retirements. Those measures were necessary to stay afloat when demand for air travel slowed to a trickle during the pandemic’s worst surges in 2020-21. “What business can survive with 95 percent of their customers no longer knocking on the door?” he asked. Airline executives reasoned that travel demand would eventually come roaring back—and when it did, they’d hire replacements for the former employees. But it wasn’t that simple. “They found they weren’t able to hire as fast as they thought they could,” Ratliff said. Background screenings and training for new workers can be time-consuming, too. As a result, many airlines and airports remain understaffed in many job categories, ranging from pilots to baggage handlers to ticketing agents and customer service reps. Suitcases are seen uncollected at Heathrow’s Terminal Three baggage reclaim, west of London, on July 8, 2022. (Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images) Anticipating a staffing shortfall, airlines cut back flights during summer, when they would typically add flights. Those cutbacks surely made airline executives wince, Ratliff said. “They want as many of those ‘silver revenue tubes’ flying as they can during the summer,” he said, “because that’s the time when they make their money.” However, Ratliff said that even the curtailed flight schedules “assumed a perfect scenario” from May-June this year. During the Memorial Day weekend travel rush, it became clear that those ideal projections were unrealistic; systems disintegrated if bad weather rolled in or if a handful of employees called in sick, sometimes suffering from COVID-19. Such unpredictable events are capable of touching off a domino effect of airport problems. That was true even in the pre-pandemic era. But this summer, the airport house-of-cards is so precarious, a major thunderstorm could cause “a coast-to-coast cascading problem” that might persist for weeks, Ratliff said. Still, U.S. airlines are faring better than European ones. Airlines in Europe are having more trouble adjusting because demand for travel in those nations continued to lag while U.S. travel demand gradually picked up. During that ramp-up period, especially in the past year or so, U.S.-based airlines “learned some things,” Ratliff said; executives could see that they would need to curtail flights because they lacked the personnel to keep pace. Meanwhile, Europe faced a 77-percent drop in international traffic—or more—“and then, all of a sudden, here they come,” travelers flocking to Europe to fulfill long-delayed travel itineraries, Ratliff said. Europe’s air-travel landscape is “a crazy, crazy mess,” Ratliff said, blaming it on flight schedules that were even more “aggressive” than many American air carriers’ schedules. “This is a self-inflicted airline problem,” Ratliff said. “They rolled out this summer schedule thinking they could operate more flights than they were able to do. They miscalculated. And who’s paying for it? The poor passengers.” Travelers who expected to follow a nice, curved arc from their point of origin to their destination instead ended up bouncing along a zigzag path. In the worst single travel nightmare that Ratliff had heard of, a family started its journey with seven boarding passes—and ended up with 96 of them. KLM, a Dutch airline, recently suffered a baggage system malfunction. This 2020 file photo was taken in Amsterdam. (Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters) A synopsis of that family’s odyssey: After leaving Washington’s Dulles Airport, the group ended up missing flights, then being rebooked in multiple international hubs. “And, of course, their bags—did they keep up?” Ratliff asked. “Ha, not a chance!” Additional problems with flights and baggage seem to grab headlines every few days. Last week, a baggage-system malfunction at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol caused KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) in the Netherlands to take an unusual step. On July 20, the airline could not process luggage for most of the day, the airline said in a statement. As a result, “thousands of suitcases” were left behind while their owners traveled to other places. The next day, July 21, KLM refused to accept checked bags for passengers traveling between European cities. The goal was to “free up as much space as possible” on that day’s flights so that left-behind baggage could be transported. In the U.S., there is a shortage of baggage handlers partly because of uncompetitive wages, Ratliff said. In some places, those jobs pay about $16 an hour, he said, “and you could go work at McDonald’s in that same airport for $20 an hour—so why would you want to go out and work in all kinds of weather when you can be inside and make more money?” Many travelers are putting tracking devices on their luggage—but that doesn’t always help. Even if the tracker reveals the bag’s location, some passengers are reporting that airlines are telling them to travel to distant cities to retrieve their bags. Existing methods for reuniting lost bags with their rightful owners are being stretched to their limits by the current crisis—which affected Joanne Prater and her family in ways they never anticipated. Prater, who is Scottish and lives in the United States, says her 50-day quest to recover a checked bag has made her painfully aware of the inconvenience, stress, and emotional impact that people can experience over checked items that go missing. Longing to visit her family in Scotland, Prater scored a deal for half-price airfare: $500 per person, including checked bags. She, her husband, and their three sons drove from their Cincinnati-area home to Chicago. On June 6, they boarded an Aer Lingus flight and were bound for Dublin, Ireland, and Glasgow, Scotland. But when the family arrived at their destination, one bag belonging to her two youngest sons, ages 12 and 8, was missing. As a result, the boys had only “the clothes on their backs,” Prater said. Worse yet, the bag contained a varsity jacket that holds special meaning for the family, along with team jerseys that the boys wanted to show off to their relatives. “How do you explain to your children that their favorite clothes are missing?” Prater said. After it became clear that the boys’ bag wouldn’t materialize anytime soon, the family purchased several outfits for them, paying the U.S. equivalent of about $500. Prater repeatedly called the airline, sometimes stuck on hold for 45 minutes, only to have the call disconnected or to be in touch with a representative with whom she had communication difficulties. She finally resorted to returning to the Glasgow airport during her vacation, hoping that in-person contact would prove more fruitful than phone calls or electronic messages. At the airport, an Aer Lingus employee did seem sympathetic to her concerns. To Prater’s surprise, the employee escorted her into a corridor that was outside public view. There, a sight took Prater’s breath away: the hallway was lined with hundreds of pieces of luggage and other lost articles, such as strollers, car seats, and golf clubs. “People save all their lives for a dream vacation to come to my country, Scotland, where golf was invented, only to have their golf clubs lost? I mean, men collect clubs, and they’re expensive; you’re not bringing Fisher-Price clubs to Scotland to play golf,” Prater said. “It was just gut-wrenching to me. I’m standing there thinking about all of these poor families without their strollers, without their car seats, without their clothing.” Despite repeated attempts to find the missing suitcase,  the Praters returned home to the United States without it.  Prater continued her attempts to file various complaints with the airline, to no avail. Prater said she feels a kinship with other people who have formed groups on social media to vent their frustrations and to try to help each other locate their lost belongings. As of July 26, there was still no sign of the Praters’ bag, which was last seen in Dublin in early June, Prater said she was told. When The Epoch Times asked Aer Lingus for comment on Prater’s situation, the airline responded via email: “We understand the concern and frustrations felt by our customers whose baggage has been delayed and the impact this has had on their travel plans. Regrettably, our airline is being impacted by widespread disruption and resource challenges.” The airline also said it is taking steps to resolve the issues, including enlisting help from third-party companies to return items to their owners. Prater said she isn’t holding out much hope that the lost bag can be found, yet she still isn’t giving up because, “at this point, it’s about accountability.” It angers her that airlines seem to have offered flights and baggage services that they were ill-equipped to provide. “I’m probably never going to check a bag again because of this experience,” she said. Ratliff, the aviation expert, said he doesn’t see the airline crisis abating quickly. He predicts issues could persist into mid-2023. In his view, “If the airlines have packed airplanes now, treating passengers the way they’re treating them, there’s not really an incentive for them to change how they’re doing things.” Troubleshooting Tips for Travelers Jay Ratliff, an aviation expert, provides these tips for avoiding airline-related hassles: Make your reservations as far in advance as possible, which also protects you from fare increases. Catch the first flight in the morning. “There is no more important flight of the day for an airline than that first flight of the day,” he said because airlines know that if that flight goes out on time, it’s more likely that the rest of that day’s flights will follow suit. “And,” Ratliff said, “it’s going to be the cleanest airplane because no one has been flying in it yet.” Put a copy of your itinerary into your bag before you close it, increasing the chances that an airline employee will be able to return your bag to you if it is lost. Consider purchasing a tracking device such as Apple’s AirTag or a Tile. Take a photograph of your bag as you’re checking in to aid in locating it. Make sure you never put essential items such as medication or car keys into a checked bag. Allow extra time at the airport, reducing the chance you’ll miss your flight and face a nightmare rebooking it. “Let’s not play the game of ‘let’s see how close we can cut it,’” he said. If you have an important event such as a cruise ship departure or a wedding to attend at your destination, build a “buffer” into your travel plans. If your flight is delayed or canceled, use social media to contact airlines because they likely have more people working on social media than they do working the phones, Ratliff said. Be succinct in sharing what’s going on and what you need. If all else fails and you have a horrible experience with your flight or luggage, fill out an airline complaint form with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). “That completely changes the tone of the conversation,” Ratliff said. “The airlines can ignore us (individual passengers), but they can’t ignore the DOT.” Tyler Durden Thu, 07/28/2022 - 23:10.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJul 29th, 2022

Ukraine"s First Lady becomes Vogue"s newest star alongside the burned out wreckage of the world"s largest aircraft

She posed next to the apparent wreckage of the Antonov An-225 Mriya, the worlds largest aircraft until it was destroyed in Russia's invasion. The damaged Antonov An-225 Mriya on April 2, 2022.Vadim Ghirda/AP Photos Ukraine's First Lady appeared in Vogue photos next to the burned out wreckage of the world's largest aircraft. The Antonov An-225 Mriya was destroyed when Russian forces captured the Hostomel Airfield near Kyiv in February.  The Russians managed to hold the airfield for a few weeks before it was retaken by Ukrainian forces. Ukraine's First Lady, Olena Zelenska, has appeared in a series of photos for Vogue taken by Annie Leibovitz and will be on the cover of Vogue magazine's October 2022 issue. One photo in particular shows her posing beside the burned out wreckage of the world's largest plane, the Antonov An-225 Mriya.Zelenska, who has, along with her husband Volodymyr Zelenskyy, faced some criticism for the photoshoot, was photographed flanked by armed female Ukrainian soldiers. On Instagram, the magazine's photo caption touted the participation of women in combat on the front lines and the first lady's role in "frontline diplomacy." A post shared by Vogue (@voguemagazine) The Antonov An-225 cargo plane — also called the Mriya — was famous before it met an ugly end. It set the Guinness world record as the largest aircraft by weight before it was destroyed in Russia's assault on Kyiv. The An-225 was housed at Hostomel airport on the outskirts of Kyiv and was reportedly severely damaged during a fight for control of the airfield.—Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) February 27, 2022Drone footage of the airfield in the aftermath showed the An-225 with a partially collapsed roof and the front section almost entirely destroyed. Russia managed to hold the airfield — also called Antonov Airport — for a few weeks before it was retaken by Ukrainian forces, which put up such a stiff resistance that Russia was forced to shift focus away from the Ukrainian capital city and onto separatist regions in eastern Ukraine where intense fighting continues.The Antonov An-225 was completed just before the fall of the Soviet Union and was originally built to carry parts for the Soviet space shuttle. The large cargo plane was used for humanitarian aid across the globe, including after the 2010 Haiti earthquake when it carried 110 tons of relief supplies to Santo Domingo."The sadness is so indescribable," pilot Dmytro Antonov told Reuters after the plane's destruction.The damaged Antonov An-225 Mriya on April 2, 2022.Vadim Ghirda/AP PhotosAfter the wreckage of the An-225 was discovered, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense posted a photo of troops posing with it. The post said that Russian invaders may have destroyed Mriya, but the "dream is indestructible." —Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) April 3, 2022The Mriya's manufacturer, Ukroboronprom, said the big aircraft was undergoing maintenance as the fighting reached Kyiv and could not fly out as other planes had. The firm told Reuters that it believed Russia should cover the $3 billion cost to rebuild the plane. In June, billionaire businessman Richard Branson visited the airport, where he reportedly discussed his "readiness to help" by both repairing the airfield and by building a new version of the Mriya. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJul 28th, 2022

Affluent A-list residents of a luxury development are pitted against locals in a small farm town in New York

This week we're taking a look at Michael Meldman's luxury Silo Ridge development — where ultrarich residents are suing the small town of Amenia, New York, over taxes. Hi, I'm Matt Turner, the editor in chief of business at Insider. Welcome back to Insider Weekly, a roundup of some of our top stories. On the agenda today:Ultrarich New Yorkers are suing this small farm town.A legendary Silicon Valley VC revolutionized how companies go public.Leaked doc shows how Amazon managers evaluate employees.An economist explains why the US may be hurtling toward a recession.Before we get into this week's stories: Insider's Kali Hays, a senior tech reporter, is giving us an update on the battle between Elon Musk and Twitter.If this was forwarded to you, sign up here.  Download Insider's app here.Your guide to the Musk-Twitter caseIn this photo illustration, the Twitter logo is displayed on the screen of the phone, with Elon Musk's Twitter account in the background. (Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesCompared with the previous three months, the story of Twitter and Elon Musk is at a lull, writes Insider's Kali Hays.The company and the billionaire are in full-on litigation mode, with Twitter winning the first legal spat when a judge on Tuesday agreed that its effort to force Musk to buy it should go to trial in October (Musk's side wanted it in late February).There are sure to be more arguments cropping up between the two sides, likely around discovery, but the Delaware Court of Chancery is not messing around. This case could be entirely resolved by the end of the year.So what's next?A pretrial settlement is not out of the question but not expected, at least not yet. A person with knowledge of the case said the two sides were hardly speaking outside court filings. That could change if something particularly juicy came up in the discovery period, which is just getting underway. Inside Twitter, employees and executives say they feel they are in a strong legal position to win the case. Should Musk lose, he will either face a hefty damages bill or be ordered to complete his acquisition of the company, perhaps at a lower price. Lawyers have speculated that he may win or simply ignore any order against him. But given the court's enforcement powers, from taking hold of his Tesla stock to fining him essentially any amount, he will likely have to comply.Now onto this week's stories.A-list residents sue small farm townThe Barn at Silo Ridge.Courtesy of Discovery Land CompanyAmenia, New York, a small farm town about 100 miles north of Manhattan, is home to the Silo Ridge Field Club — Michael Meldman's luxury development full of Wall Street titans, tech executives, and pro-sports moguls. And many of them are suing the town.The affluent residents are seeking to slash their property-tax assessments, pitting them against locals who feel shut out. And the clash may not be the last, as boldfaced names seek country solace in the work-from-home era.A clash between the ultrarich and a small town.Inside the IPO revolutionRobert A Tobiansky/Getty; Boris Zhitkov/Getty; Jake Wyman/Getty; José Miguel Hernández Hernández/Getty; Spencer Platt/Getty; Twitter; Anna Kim/InsiderBy June 2019, Bill Gurley had lost his faith in the traditional IPO process — so he embarked on a crusade to reshape the industry, which put him at odds with some of Wall Street's most powerful players.Insider's chief finance correspondent, Dakin Campbell, shines a light on how Gurley took on Goldman Sachs on his quest — and how, along with Spotify and others, he helped uncork the greatest wave of innovation to strike the IPO market in decades.More on the rebellion here.Amazon's controversial evaluation systemEmployees walk through a lobby at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle.Elaine Thompson/APA leaked document has shed more light on how Amazon managers evaluate their employees, according to an Insider review. Its latest talent guide shows that performance scores are determined by what an employee delivered and how they delivered it.Amazon staff have already criticized certain performance-review practices, like the company's "unregretted attrition rate." Has Amazon's latest performance and pay review become any less opaque?Here's how pay is decided at Amazon.For more on Amazon, check out:Amazon just hit fast-forward on its vision to transform how you see the doctor'The party is over' for Amazon aggregators. Insiders share what's next — from fire sales to dramatic pivots — as funding evaporates.'We are still going to end up in a recession'Getty Images; Marianne Ayala/InsiderFor a long time, Neil Dutta, an economist, was an optimist who argued against doom-and-gloom predictions. Now he's starting to change his outlook.In recent years, low inflation and weak economic growth meant low interest rates and economic stimulation. But today, Dutta writes, an increasingly hawkish Federal Reserve has launched an aggressive campaign to cool red-hot inflation — even if it means pushing the economy into a recession.Here's why he's sounding the alarm.This week's quote:"Last year was basically a fintech party. There was an explosion of fintech companies. But now we're, like, in a fintech hangover."Mark Fiorentino, a partner at Index Ventures. Fiorentino is one of 26 rising-star VCs who are still bullish on fintechs. More of this week's top reads:Here's a guide to managing your career in an uncertain economy.A new crop of startups is putting carbon credits on the blockchain.Relocation experts share how to successfully become a digital nomad.Dismal earnings and Goldman's plans to resurrect its annual performance reviews confirm bankers' fears about looming layoffs.Leaked emails show Coinbase is "temporarily shutting down" its US affiliate-marketing program.The price of paper has doubled this year. Publishers are worried their magazines and newspapers are in jeopardy.Plus: Keep updated with the latest business news throughout your weekdays by checking out The Refresh from Insider, a dynamic audio news brief from the Insider newsroom. Listen here tomorrow.Curated by Matt Turner. Edited by Jordan Parker Erb, Sarah Belle Lin, and Lisa Ryan. Sign up for more Insider newsletters here.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJul 24th, 2022

22 of the most popular books of 2022 so far, according to Goodreads

According to Goodreads, some of the most popular books of 2022 so far include Colleen Hoover's latest thriller and a rom-com by Emily Henry. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Amazon Waiting until December for "best books of the year" lists can feel impossible. Fortunately, Goodreads reviewers are always rating new releases. According to Goodreads, these are the 22 most popular books published in 2022. Waiting for the "best books of the year" lists to come out in December can feel impossible. And with dozens of new books released every week, choosing a new book can be overwhelming, especially when you want to find something you know you'll love. Fortunately, Goodreads reviewers are constantly rating and reviewing new releases of every genre so we can find the best books of the year so far. Goodreads is the world's largest platform for readers to review and recommend their favorite books. The books on this list are ranked by how often they've been added to readers' Goodreads shelves. They've all been published this year and have at least a 3.5/5-star rating. If you're looking for a great new book to add to your reading list, these are the ones readers love the most right now.The 22 best books of 2022 so far, according to Goodreads reviewers: "Reminders of Him" by Colleen HooverAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.57Added to readers' shelves over 818,000 times, the most popular book of the year so far among Goodreads reviewers is "Reminders of Him" by Colleen Hoover. Loved for her gripping and heart-wrenching romances, this novel is the story of a young woman named Kenna Rowan, who returns home after serving five years in prison and hopes to reunite with her four-year-old daughter. Though everyone is determined to keep Kenna away from her daughter, she forms a connection with a local bar owner and must find a way to prove herself to build a future with her child. If you're looking for another great Colleen Hoover read, check out our list of her best books here."Book Lovers" by Emily HenryAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.58When NYC literary agent Nora Stephens is invited for a month-long sister trip to the storybook town of Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, she's eager to spend time with her sister, who has seemed distant lately, and hopefully become the heroine of her own story for once. Instead of a romance-novel meet-cute, Nora runs into Charlie Lasta, a book editor with whom she has a less-than-adorable relationship, and together find they may be able to rewrite their own stories. You can check out our full review of "Book Lovers" here."The Paris Apartment" by Lucy FoleyAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.99Jess has just arrived at her step-brother's apartment in Paris to find that it is far more lavish than she could have imagined — and that Ben seems to be mysteriously missing. With little more than an ominous voice mail, some scribbled notes, and a strange business card as clues, Jess sets out to find Ben and quickly realizes that each of his neighbors may be suspects with their own potential motives."The Maid" by Nita ProseAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.90Though Molly Gray struggles with understanding social cues and situations, her nearly obsessive love of cleaning lends perfectly to her job as a hotel maid — until one day, she finds a wealthy man dead in his bed. Molly's seemingly strange demeanor tags her as the police's prime suspect until her friends unite to search for clues and help prove her innocence in this locked-room mystery read."Things We Never Got Over" by Lucy ScoreAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Booskhop, from $13.89In this "grumpy/sunshine" romance novel, Naomi's life is completely overturned when, after running away from her wedding with her estranged twin to a small but rough town, she's abandoned by her sister and left with no car, no money, and a niece she didn't know she had. Though the local barber, Knox, prefers to be alone, he's compelled to help Naomi get back on her feet until the trouble she's in turns into true danger."House of Sky and Breath" by Sarah J. MaasAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.74In this highly anticipated sequel to "House of Earth and Blood," Bryce and Hunt have just saved Crescent City and are looking for a chance to slow down and get back to normal. But as the threat of the Asteri begins to rise, they're pulled into the rebels' plans and can't turn their backs on the chance to fight for what's right."Hook, Line, and Sinker" by Tessa BaileyAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.38Fox Thornton is used to every woman finding him irresistible so when his new roommate, Hannah, just wants to be friends he's thrown for a loop, especially since he really likes her and was hoping for something more than a fling. Though Hannah has a desperate crush on one of her coworkers, she finds that the more time she spends with Fox, the more she grows to like him. This fun friends-to-lovers romantic comedy read follows the pair as they try to deny their chemistry until they find their own happily ever after. "A Flicker in the Dark" by Stacy WillinghamAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.1920 years ago, Chloe's father went to prison for the serial murders of six teenage girls in her small town. Now, she's a psychologist preparing for her wedding when teenage girls begin to go missing once again, digging up past pain and paranoia as Chloe searches for connections to unmask a killer once again. "One Italian Summer" by Rebecca SerleAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.30When Katy's mother passes away, she feels like a piece of her is missing and decides to take their planned mother/daughter trip alone to the Italian coast where her mother spent one life-changing summer before she met Katy's father. In this atmospheric novel, Katy somehow meets her mother from the past and spends the summer learning about her mother in a way she could never have expected. "One Italian Summer" is one of our favorite summer reads. You can check out our full review here. "Book of Night" by Holly BlackAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.12Though Holly Black is known for her young adult fantasy novels, this adult debut has wowed readers with its dark and gritty urban fantasy feel. Charlie Hall is a low-level con artist in a world where shadow manipulation can change power, influence, feelings, and memories. When her past and present collide, Charlie's life is thrown into a chaotic web of secret societies, murder, and magic. "Every Summer After" by Carley FortuneAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.65Over six summers, Percy and Sam fell in love on the lakeshore until everything tragically fell apart. A decade later, Percy returns to the lake for Sam's mother's funeral and while their connection is just as strong as ever, their past mistakes threaten to keep them apart and leave them with only a weekend to repair years of damage.  "Sea of Tranquility" by Emily St. John MandelAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.50"Sea of Tranquility" is a complex and intricate science fiction novel that follows linked stories from a young man in the Canadian wilderness to a moon colony detective over 300 years later. Readers love careful and intellectual storylines that cumulate into a thought-provoking, reflective, and emotional novel."Lessons in Chemistry" by Bonnie GarmusAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.96After a tumultuous series of events and a career as a chemist in a terribly sexist industry, Elizabeth Zott finds herself a single mother and the host of a beloved cooking show in the 1960s. There, she combines cooking and her love of chemistry to teach women revolutionary new cooking methods that dare them to change the status quo."The Book of Cold Cases" by Simone St. JamesAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.78Shea Collins runs a true crime website, fueled by her own attempted abduction as a child. When she meets Beth Greer, the infamously acquitted suspect of the 1977 Lady Killer Murders, Shea can't help but ask for an interview. This eerie thriller moves between dual timelines as Shea feels less and less at ease around Beth and the truth about the crimes is slowly revealed."Black Cake" by Charmaine WilkersonAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.81In the wake of their mother's passing, siblings Byron and Benny are left with little more than a voice recording and a recipe for a traditional Caribbean black cake with a long family history. In this masterfully written historical fiction read, the two must reconnect with each other, uncover their mother's past, and fulfill her final wish to share the cake when the time is finally right."Daughter of the Moon Goddess" by Sue Lynn TanAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.99Inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess, this young adult fantasy read is about Xingyin's journey to save her mother from the Celestial Emperor after a flare in her magic revealed her secret existence. Readers love this story for its elements of Chinese mythology, strong female warrior protagonist, and the inspiring yet perilous quest."Gallant" by V.E. SchwabAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.95V.E. Schwab's latest young adult fantasy, "Gallant", is about a young girl named Olivia who receives a peculiar letter inviting her to come home from her boarding school to Gallant, yet no one seems to be expecting her. While exploring the grounds, Olivia crosses a ruined wall at the exact right moment to find herself in a dark and shadowy version of Gallant where she finally uncovers the secrets that unraveled generations of her family. "The Golden Couple" by Greer Hendricks and Sarah PekkanenAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.19When Marissa cheats on her husband, Matthew, the two decide to try and repair their relationship for the sake of their son. Meanwhile, Avery Chambers has lost her therapist license but hasn't stopped counseling couples, requiring they strictly follow her far-from-traditional methods. In this thriller, the three are set on a fast-paced and dangerous course from the moment Marrisa and Matthew walk through Avery's doors. "The War of Two Queens" by Jennifer L. ArmentroutAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.85"The War of Two Queens" is the fourth fantasy novel in the "Blood and Ash" series and continues Poppy and Casteel's story as they try to stop the destruction of the Blood Queen as shocking and terrible revelations emerge. In this suspenseful installment, Poppy fears she may have to realize her prophecy if she stands a chance against the ancient primal powers that have already begun to rise."The School for Good Mothers" by Jessamine ChanAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop, $17.99Frida Liu is already struggling with her career and marriage when a lapse in judgment lands her in a Big Brother-like government reform program that will force her to prove herself a "good" mother. This science fiction dystopian novel addresses the deep challenges of parenthood as Frida navigates the year-long program in the hopes of keeping her daughter. "Reckless Girls" by Rachel HawkinsAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.72When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend are hired to sail two women to a remote island, they find another delightful couple already docked and begin to enjoy their exotic and remote trip as a group. As an unsettling solo traveler arrives on the shores, the group's secrets begin to emerge and dismantle their seemingly blissful trip, truly illuminating how isolated they are when one person goes missing and another turns up dead. "Violeta" by Isabel AllendeAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop, $19.86This expansive historical fiction novel follows Violeta through her joyful and painful century-long life, marked by momentous events in history. Born in 1920 as the Spanish flu arrives in South America, Violeta lives through the Great Depression, the fight for women's rights, a second pandemic, and so much more in this emotional and compelling novel written as a letter to her grandson. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJul 22nd, 2022

Retired four-star military leaders call out Trump for "dereliction of duty" during Jan. 6 Capitol riot

A group of seven former senior military officials wrote that Trump "abdicated his duty to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution" on Jan. 6 In this Jan. 6, 2021 file photo rioters supporting President Donald Trump storm the Capitol in Washington.John Minchillo/AP Retired senior military officers said Trump "abdicated his duty" on Jan. 6 in an op-ed for The New York Times. The four-star generals and admirals wrote that military leaders should be prepared for "similar situations." On Thursday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley testified that it was Pence, not Trump, who called to ask him to send in the National Guard.  Former senior military officials blasted former President Donald Trump Thursday evening for what they described as"dereliction of duty" during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in a new op-ed for The New York Times.A group of seven retired four-star military officers, including admirals Steve Abbot, James Loy, John Nathman and William Owens and generals John Jumper, Peter Chiarelli and Johnnie Wilson, wrote that while the Jan. 6 committee has produced "startling findings," the most alarming to them is that Trump "abdicated his duty to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution" while rioters attacked the US Capitol. "The president's dereliction of duty on Jan. 6 tested the integrity of this historic principle as never before, endangering American lives and our democracy," they wrote. "We hope that the country will never face such a crisis again. But to safeguard our constitutional order, military leaders must be ready for similar situations in which the chain of command appears unclear or the legality of orders uncertain." Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.Kevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesIn a recorded testimony presented Thursday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Staff Gen. Mark Milley said that it was not Trump who contacted him about sending the National Guard to the Capitol, but Vice President Mike Pence."Mike Pence was very animated, very direct: 'Get the military down here, put down this situation,'" he said.—Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) July 22, 2022Milley also said he got a call from Mark Meadows, the former White House Chief of Staff, saying they needed to "kill the narrative" that Pence was in charge, not Trump. Milley said he interpreted that as "politics, politics, politics" and noted that he "doesn't do political narratives." Among the many congressional leaders who have condemned Trump's actions, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., — who serves in the Air National Guard and is on the House Jan. 6 committee — said during the hearing on Thursday that Trump's conduct was "a supreme violation of his oath of office and a complete dereliction of his duty to our nation." Lawmakers on the House January 6 committee will air the inquiry's findings during a public hearing Thursday.Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images"It is a stain on our history," Kinzinger said. "It is a dishonor to all those who have sacrificed in and died in service of our democracy."In the op-ed published in The New York Times, the former senior military officials wrote that the lesson of Jan. 6 is that "our democracy is not a given.""To preserve it," the wrote, "Americans must demand nothing less from their leaders than an unassailable commitment to country over party — and to their oaths above all." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJul 22nd, 2022

The night the Lord of the Skies got away

In 1985, US agents had a chance to stop Mexico's top drug lord. Years later, evidence from that night proved valuable in a way no one could predict. Reuters; John Moore/Getty Images; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderOne night in 1985, US agents may have had a chance to stop the rise of Mexico's most powerful drug lord — a chance they quickly gave up without knowing it. But the evidence gathered that night would prove valuable in a way no one could predict. If he'd blinked he might have missed them.The pair of cars were parked window to window, just off the side of Highway 67, nine miles north of the tiny border town of Presidio, Texas. As David Ramirez cruised by in his dun-colored U.S. Border Patrol sedan, the night sky outside the range of headlights was so pitch-black that he could have been forgiven for not spotting the vehicles.    Ramirez guessed that something was up. Slowing the cruiser, he banged a quick U-turn and headed back. "They were on the side of the road, at that time of night, in that area, which was known for drug trafficking," Ramirez recalled. "And there wasn't any other traffic. We were out there in a patrol vehicle and we saw maybe two other vehicles in a three-hour time span."It was May 1985, and Ramirez had only been with the Border Patrol for two and a half years. But at a posting as remote as southwest Texas, where only a handful of agents were stationed at the time, that qualified him to train the new guy. So, in the passenger seat sat his partner for the evening, a trainee agent learning the ropes as they cruised along this ribbon of pebbles, dust, and potholes masquerading as a state highway.As Ramirez maneuvered his patrol car, two pairs of headlights came on, two engines rumbled to life, and two cars peeled out. A late-model pickup truck went first, and, following closely behind, a big-body, white Mercury Grand Marquis. They were headed south, toward Presidio, and toward Mexico.Ramirez spun the cruiser around once again and sped off in pursuit, flashing his red-and-blues to signal the drivers to stop. The two vehicles ignored him.The Mercury wasn't going that fast, 60, maybe 70 miles-per-hour, but it acted as a sort of rearguard, allowing the driver of the pickup truck to put more and more distance between himself and the Border Patrol agents giving chase. This went on for a while, five minutes maybe. Finally, with the pickup truck out of sight, the driver of the Mercury eased to the side of the road and crunched to a stop. Ramirez knew it was a feint designed to let the other driver — and whatever cargo he might be carrying — get away. But he also knew that at the end of that road, just before the international port of entry, was a Border Patrol station. He radioed ahead for agents to be on the lookout, and turned his focus to the Mercury.Carefully opening his door, Ramirez climbed out of the cruiser, unclasped the snap on his holster, and drew his .38-caliber service revolver, holding it at a downward angle. It had been dark for hours, but in these parts even after midnight  in late spring can be mind-bendingly hot. The thermostat hovered around 95 degrees and the night air hung heavy like a blanket. As Ramirez approached the Mercury from the driver-side door, his heart rate quickened. The ambient sounds of the desert night, the buzz of insects and snuffling of wild javelinas, receded into the background. His training — and his survival instinct — kicked in to guide him. The trainee, armed with a shotgun, mirrored the more experienced agent and sidled toward the car from the passenger side. Speaking in Spanish through the rolled down window, the driver had an easy-does-it, friendly manner. With the trainee standing back, Ramirez holstered his revolver and requested the suspect's documents. The driver obliged.One was a border-crossing card, issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, that allowed Mexicans living close to the border to cross back and forth for errands and jobs.The other document identified the driver as an agent of the Federal Security Directorate, or DFS, a powerful — and phantasmagorically corrupt — branch of Mexico's federal law enforcement. For Ramirez, this didn't prove the man was a cop. The DFS was notorious for its connections to drug traffickers, and its agents were known to hand out fake badges to the smugglers they worked with. But he couldn't be sure the man wasn't a cop.Ramirez asked the man if he had any weapons, and the driver said no, no guns. But peering into the Marquis, Ramirez could see a box of ammo sitting on the passenger seat, clear as day. He asked again. No weapons? You sure about that?David Ramirez (r); John Moore/Getty Images; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderThe driver made no attempt to keep the lie going and admitted that, sure, he had a small gun in the trunk. On Ramirez' orders, the driver opened the door and walked around to the rear to pop the trunk. The "small gun" turned out to be a loaded AR-15 assault rifle.Ramirez eyed the driver more closely now. He stood about six feet tall, trim and lanky, and dressed like a well-heeled cowboy, with nice boots and well-fitting clothes. Despite everything, he seemed relaxed. Ramirez gave the driver a careful patdown and, finding no other weapons on him, escorted him back to the Border Patrol cruiser and directed him into the back seat, locking him in there but deciding not to place him in handcuffs, given the DFS badge."In any law enforcement, I would say there's a certain courtesy you give to [other] law enforcement," Ramirez told me. "As a young agent, I didn't really know how to deal with it. I was naive."The trainee took the keys to the Mercury and started back to the station at the Presidio-Ojinaga border. Ramirez followed. In the backseat, the driver sat – quiet, calm, no fuss.The man's name, according to his INS card and DFS badge, was Amado Carrillo Fuentes.The Lord of the Skies Within a decade of that traffic stop, Amado would be the most significant drug trafficker in Mexico. His knack for using airplanes to smuggle huge quantities of drugs earned him the nickname "el señor de los cielos," the Lord of the Skies, and, to this day, he is easily the most prolific and most powerful drug lord the country has ever seen. His would be a household name in Mexico and a curse on the lips of U.S. federal agents tasked with fighting the narcotics trade. Another two decades after that, he would feature prominently as the absurdly white-washed protagonist of the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico. But on the night David Ramirez encountered him on that desolate stretch of Highway 67, Amado was just one trafficker among many. Not a nobody, certainly, but his photo wouldn't yet be on any police bulletin boards, nor his name in any newspapers.Amado was then 28 years old, and for years he had found a comfortable niche for himself in the growing drug empire run by his uncle — a fearsome brute named Ernesto "Don Neto" Fonseca — Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, and Rafael Caro Quintero. Like nearly all major drug traffickers of the era — including Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, who was born around the same time as Amado — they all hailed from the northwestern state of Sinaloa. But they ran their operation out of the city of Guadalajara, and became known as the Guadalajara cartel. As the demand for cocaine began to surge in the late 1970s and exploded in the early 1980s, most cocaine headed to the U.S. from Colombia, across the Caribbean, and into Florida. But as the DEA and the Coast Guard cracked down on that route, the Colombians needed a new way of getting drugs north The syndicate that Don Neto, Félix Gallardo, and Caro Quintero operated, which previously focused on heroin and marijuana and was well positioned to offer an alternative route to their new friends in Colombia, was busy forging contacts with Colombian cocaine suppliers. Within a few years, the Mexican traffickers had become an integral link in the chain that saw cocaine travel by air from its roots high in the Andes to labs in the jungles of Colombia to local smugglers in Mexico, and finally to an eager customer base in the United States. Using the staggering infusion of cash that came along with their new specialty in moving cocaine, the Guadalajara network was able to bring most of the major drug traffickers in Mexico under a unified protection racket negotiated by Félix Gallardo and overseen by the DFS and other federal police agencies.Amado, who was quickly gaining a reputation for being cool-headed and having a talent for forging political connections, played a key role in this transformation of the drug game, coordinating cargo planes, loaded down with hundreds — and later thousands — of kilos of coke, to clandestine air strips in northern Mexico.An act of supreme recklessnessEverything changed, however, just a few months before Amado was stopped in southwest Texas. In February 1985, a group of gunmen snatched a young DEA agent named Enrique "Kiki" Camarena off the streets of Guadalajara, tortured and murdered him along with a pilot who'd worked with the DEA, and dumped their bodies on a distant ranch. Amado Carrillo Fuentes (c). Henry Romero/Reuters; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderThe brutal kidnapping, torture, and murder of a U.S. federal agent was an act of supreme recklessness and the consequences were sweeping. By April, Don Neto and Caro Quintero were in prison, Félix Gallardo was in hiding, and the network they had carefully built and paid a fortune to protect was in disarray, cracking under the pressure of a vengeful United States, and the obligatory, if belated, efforts of Mexican cops. (Just this month, on July 15, Caro Quintero was arrested in Mexico in a joint U.S.-Mexican operation. In 2013, while serving a 40-year sentence for the murders, a Mexican court had ordered Caro Quintero released. U.S. officials immediately sought to re-arrest him, adding him to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, but Caro Quintero went into hiding. During the operation on July 15, 14 marines died when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed outside the city of Los Mochis. A few days after the re-capture of Caro Quintero, in a seemingly unrelated move, Félix Gallardo officially trademarked his own name, apparently for a fashion brand.)Mid-level traffickers who were lucky or savvy enough to escape the dragnet exploited a sudden power vacuum and set up territorial fiefdoms, negotiating new protection pacts with corrupt officials and continuing to traffic all the cocaine, heroin, and marijuana that North Americans could sniff, shoot up?, or smoke.Amado was one of those survivors, but he couldn't stay in Guadalajara. So he headed to Ojinaga, just across the border from Presidio, Texas, where he joined forces with a rough-and-tumble smuggler named Pablo Acosta. The Wild West At the northern extreme of the Chihuahuan Desert and the southwest extreme of Texas, Presidio sits just east of Ojinaga — rather than the proverbial "north of the border," as the Rio Grande runs south there. Located just to the south and east lies Big Bend National Park, and with its canyons, culverts, and deep ravines scored into the earth over millennia, the landscape is such a godsend to smugglers of all kinds that it could almost seem as if it was created for that express purpose.   For as long as the border has divided Presidio and Ojinaga, this remote land has been a causeway for smugglers looking to take advantage of prohibition in the U.S. — first of alcohol, later of marijuana and heroin, and finally cocaine — and of Mexico's booming black market for illegally imported commercial goods that resulted from the country's high tariffs.David Ramirez, a native of of El Paso, arrived in Presidio in 1982, shortly after joining the Border Patrol. He could almost count his fellow agents on two hands, and together they were tasked with patrolling not only the port of entry, with its wooden, two lane bridge crossing the river, but also the vast desert landscape stretching out on either side. (It was still many years before the Border Patrol would morph into the veritable army that polices the border today, with its drones, seismic motion sensors, and agents more numerous than the armies of more than a dozen small nations.) "We often had no radio comms, and all of Big Bend [National Park] to deal with," Ramirez recalled. "It was like the Wild West."Ramirez and his fellow agents may have had the might of the U.S. government at their backs, but down in Presidio, with the drug trade in overdrive, they were tilting at windmills.It wasn't like they could rely much on the Mexican authorities across the border either. The dirty and not so well-kept secret of the drug trade in Mexico is that it is inextricably tied to and controlled by extra-official protection rackets run by corrupt members of the country's business, political, and judicial elite. Just like every other lucrative smuggling corridor along the border, Ojinaga was controlled by a local boss. For much of the 1970s, that person had been Manuel Carrasco; when he eventually ran afoul of too many people he fled town and with time — and after a few shootouts — control passed to an up-and-coming trafficker named Pablo Acosta. 'He's their guy'According to the journalist Terrence Poppa, who chronicled the rise and fall of Acosta in his 1991 book "Drug Lord," Acosta came to power in Ojinaga in the late 1970s or early 1980s, and by 1982 he was either directly involved with, or charging a tax on, all illegal merchandise flowing across the border.Acosta, like Amado, was treated to a sympathetic portrayal in Narcos: Mexico. The actor Gerardo Taraceno plays Acosta up as a sentimental, old-school cowboy — reckless and violent at times, sure, but living by a code of honor and harboring a sentimental streak to boot. This flies in the face of all available evidence. Poppa — and a number of sources I spoke with who either investigated Acosta or did business with him — said that the real-life Acosta was a brutal thug, quick to mete out violence and shocking cruelty against anyone he saw as a threat. He shot men down in the street in broad daylight, subjected people to brutal torture, and was said to have once strapped a rival to the back of his pickup truck and dragged him to his bloody, horrible death. And as the years wore on, Acosta grew ever more erratic, thanks in part to his growing number of enemies and also to his fondness for basuco, a crude cocaine paste that he sprinkled into cigarettes and smoked around the clock.He was, in other words, the polar opposite of Amado. Little is known of Amado and Acosta's working relationship, one the young face of the drug trade to come and the other the proud, battle-scarred avatar of what came before. Amado was there not to do Acosta's bidding but to look after the interests of his uncle's syndicate in Guadalajara, which was increasingly coordinating shipments of cocaine on behalf of the Colombians and moving it through Ojinaga. David Ramirez (r); Rachel Mendelson/InsiderOne player who had the opportunity — or misfortune — to see that dynamic up close was Don Henry Ford, Jr, a former drug trafficker working in the region in the '70s and '80s."Amado Carrillo was never working for Pablo Acosta, not for one fucking day," Ford told me. "He represents the big guys down there, the cartel, he's their guy."When Pablo Acosta was finally gunned down in a raid by Mexican police in the tiny village of his birth in 1987, rumors immediately proliferated that Amado had paid a corrupt police commander $1 million to take him out. Unrepentant cowboyIf Ramirez that night in 1985 saw the amiable, confident face that Amado showed when being detained, Don Henry Ford Jr., two years prior, saw something closer to the real Amado — the careful balance of friendly and ruthless with which Amado gained the trust of business partners and government benefactors, while rooting out potential traitors and rivals.Ford grew up on a Texas ranch a few hundred miles north of the border, but as his family's business started to fail in the late 1970s he began to drift down to Mexico, making trips back and forth across the border in search of easy money and unlimited weed."You may consider one side Mexico and one the U.S., but it ain't either. It's the border," Ford told me recently when I reached him by phone. "People in Presidio and Ojinaga have more in common with each other than with anyone in Washington or Mexico City."By the time I talked to him, Ford had been out of the drug game for decades. The beginning of the end had come in 1986 when he was arrested in Texas but then managed to escape and spend a year or so as an honest-to-god fugitive outlaw, laying low in a tiny communal ejido south of the border, guarding multi-ton shipments of Colombian weed in a cave with just a rifle by his side. In 1987, he was caught while moving about a hundred pounds of weed in southern Texas and ended up serving seven years of a 15-year sentence before being released on good behavior — after which he spent another few years under tight restrictions, pissing in a cup for his parole officer as many as three times a week. As much as he hated giving up those years to prison and parole, Ford knows how lucky he was: less than a year after his second arrest, in 1988, the US eliminated parole for federal offenses and introduced mandatory minimums for large-scale drug trafficking. If he'd been busted any later, he could have spent the rest of his life behind bars, as did many drug traffickers — particularly Black and Brown people — sentenced amid the drastic ramping up of the U.S. war on drugs.He put that life behind him — raised kids, raised cattle, and even put aside some land and a business to pass on to his children. But he still has the spark of an outlaw in his voice. Even his email address, which includes the words "unrepentant cowboy," makes clear that he remains resolutely nonconformist. The south Texas ranch where Ford spends his days is so remote that his cell phone barely gets a signal. When we spoke, his voice crackled out of earshot every time he moved in the wrong direction or when he sat down.Ford had a rather haphazard start as a drug trafficker, running into some greedy cops on his first trip to Mexico who were happy to relieve him of his seed money and send him packing. But before long he found a knack for the business, and developed a lucrative operation trading with a loose network of marijuana growers and wholesalers, trafficking hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars in weed at a time.He did most of his business in the state of Coahuila, east of Acosta's territory in Chihuahua, where he could work without having to deal with Acosta, who he knew by reputation to be a fickle and violent man. Years later, Ford would find that out firsthand, when he was attacked by men he believes to have been working for Acosta, and interrogated at length by a man he believes to be Acosta himself. He believes it to have been Acosta because he was blindfolded, and Ford is not one to say things he's not 100% sure of. (I had to take Ford's word on this incident, as there's no record of it aside from Ford's memory of the experience, and Acosta is not around to confirm it.)But before his near-death encounter with Acosta, it was in Coahuila, in the home of his main connect, a guy named Oscar, that he first met Amado around 1983.Their first meeting was just in passing; Amado was one of several cowboy-looking guys milling about during a visit to the home of his partner, where Ford was visiting on one of his many trips south to score wholesale loads of weed. Amado was dressed, like the rest of the guys, in wide-cut polyester pants and the boots popular with Mexican cowboys with a high, slanted Spanish riding heel."He didn't look like anybody extraordinary at all, he looked like Oscar was giving him some work on the farm," Ford told me. "He wasn't wearing a bunch of gold jewelry and shit that would give away the sense of being wealthy. His boots were worn."For most of his career, Ford had stuck to marijuana. And even in the early years of the cocaine boom he said he could see the effect that the introduction of cocaine was having on the business of smuggling. Guys he had known to be sworn pacifists motivated by peace and love as much as money, began carrying weapons, acting all jittery."All of a sudden it was like Miami Vice," he recalled. But he wasn't so altruistic as to turn down good business, and it soon became clear to him that the real money was in cocaine. He wanted in. So he made some inquiries and was told the person to talk to was Amado — that quiet guy in cowboy boots he'd met once a while back.The meeting happened sometime in 1983, just Ford, his cousin, his partner Oscar, and Amado in a motel room in the city of Torreon, in the southern reaches of Coahuila. It started off well enough — like many meetings between drug traffickers, it was mostly a chance to size each other up. Amado brought with him some of the product he had on hand, and for a few hours, the wirey Texan and the Sinaloan trafficker hung out, drank, sniffed cocaine, and chatted pleasantly. Just as Ramirez would observe later, Ford recalled Amado as a smooth customer, calm and collected but friendly. Even a few drinks and a few lines deep, Amado kept his wits about him."He did a lot more listening than he did talking," Ford said.Ford liked that, and he told Amado that he didn't have any interest in working with a hothead like Acosta."I told him 'If you're like that, I don't wanna do business with you,'" Ford said. "I'm interested in fuckin' moving some drugs and making some money."Ford and Amado didn't make a deal that night, but Ford said they agreed to "something tentative." When it was time for Amado to go, but he left the remaining coke as a gift, more where that came from, and Ford and his cousin set about enjoying it.Rachel Mendelson/InsiderA few hours later, as they were trying to sleep off their coke jitters, there came a series of thunderous knocks on the door, bam-bam-bam, and chaos descended on them. A team of heavily armed men rushed into the hotel room. They wore no uniforms, but they moved with such trained precision that Ford immediately took them for cops of some sort. Over the next few hours, he said, they questioned the pair relentlessly."This motherfucker did this to see if I was a cop," Ford said. "He didn't trust us, and decided he was gonna find out who we were."He never saw Amado again.200 miles from El PasoTwo years or so after Ford met him in Torreon, Amado sat patiently in the Border Patrol station in Presidio with agent David Ramirez. The other driver, the one Amado had slowed down to let escape, had made it to the point of entry. His car was clean and, after showing his ID — along with a DFS badge like Amado's — the agents who spoke to him had nothing to charge him with, and let him cruise back into Mexico. (In an interview, Ramirez told me ruefully that he had written the man's name down in his notebook but later lost it, and the question of the man's identity piques his curiosity to this day.)As for Amado, Ramirez may not have caught him trafficking drugs in flagrante, nor had he proven any collusion with the driver of the pickup truck. But there was the AR-15 he'd found in the trunk. For a nonresident of the United States, it was a serious crime to be in possession of a loaded assault rifle. If charges were brought, it could have earned him a few solid years in a federal prison. No one knew it then, but that could have put a serious crimp in Amado's upward trajectory. But that wasn't the purview of the Border Patrol. If they were going to hold Amado, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms — 200 miles away in El Paso — would have to get involved. If they agreed, someone would have to come in from El Paso, a four-hour drive away, bring Amado back, and then take him to magistrate court in Pecos, another two-hour drive from El PasoRamirez made the call, and waited. In the meantime, in case Amado would be charged, Ramirez fingerprinted the suspect, and took a couple mugshots.By now it was around three in the morning. Amado had been pretty quiet as they drove into Presidio, but sitting in the Border Patrol station, he started to open up a bit more, chatting with Ramirez, even boasting a bit as they made small talk to kill time."The guy, once again, had not a worry in the world," Ramirez said. "Real easy guy, and you know it was strange, he offered a lot of info, like that his uncle was Don Neto and that Caro Quintero was his partner."It might seem strange that an experienced heavy in the drug trade would brag about his connections to a well-known trafficker like Don Neto and the notorious killer of a federal agent like Caro Quintero, but the code of silence only applies to the saps at the bottom of the totem pole, or to the civilians ensnared in the web of violence, corruption, and extortion that funnels money up to the bosses. For the guys making the real money, the relationship with law enforcement is a lot more fluid, with a lot more give and take. Perhaps Amado saw an opportunity to cultivate a contact, pocket a card that he could play at a later date. Or maybe he just knew that no ATF agents were getting their asses out of bed at three in the morning and driving all the way to Presidio and back to book him. Much more likely was that he'd be back in Mexico by sun-up no matter what he said to Ramirez.An hour passed, and then Ramirez got word from the Bureau that they weren't going to bother with this one. Coming all that distance to Presidio, it was too much trouble. So he let Amado go. Ramirez held on to the box of ammo, but Amado drove back into Mexico a free man with the illegal AR-15 in his trunk.'You can't live in what-ifs'Looking back to that night in Presidio in 1985, It's hard to fathom how it was possible that agents of the federal government had one of the top drug traffickers in Mexico in their custody and didn't even know it. But according to Ramirez, that was par for the course back then. "At that time, in that area, there was no intelligence collection. It was very primitive," he said. "We were patrol, we weren't really trained for intelligence gathering. Unfortunately that was the attitude back then."Ramirez doesn't pester himself much wondering how things might have gone if the ATF had bothered to haul Amado in. "He coulda done some time, sure," Ramirez replied when I pushed the point. "But you can't live in what-ifs."After that night in 1985, Ramirez would see Amado from time to time around town on the other side of the border. Ramirez would mostly avert his gaze so as not to make eye contact with the man whose night he'd ruined. He saw him at the border crossing too, and from the way Amado carried himself there, Ramirez said he could tell Amado had pull among Mexican officials."He was a charismatic kinda guy," Ramirez recalled. "He made friends with the inspectors there on the U.S. side, the Customs inspectors and the immigration inspectors, invited them to his ranch and they would go over and come back and tell about the cookouts and the time they had." One of the inspectors even invited Ramirez to the party. Ramirez politely declined.Whatever scrutiny caused him to flee Guadalajara did not appear to have followed Amado to Ojinaga, according to Ramirez. "He wasn't hiding! I mean he was out in the open," Ramirez said with some bemusement.In the years that followed, Amado continued to plot his deliberate, careful rise to power. That evening he spent with Ramirez would go down as his only known brush with US authorities — or at least the only one in which he was a suspected criminal rather than a guy asking Customs inspectors over for lunch. Alongside other major traffickers of his generation, like "El Chapo" in Sinaloa and Sonora and the Arellano-Félix brothers in Tijuana, Amado expertly navigated every power vacuum that presented itself — or triggered power vacuums himself. By the late 1980s Amado had moved his base of operations to Ciudad Juárez, the sprawling metropolis that sits across the river from El Paso, where the multiple ports of entry allow a far greater amount of train, truck, and car traffic — and contraband — than Ojinaga ever could. It was there that Amado truly came into his own, controlling organized crime in the city so tightly that normal, everyday street crime became a rarity, lest criminals incur the wrath of the henchmen tasked with keeping things quiet and orderly. David Ramirez had left Presidio as well, transferring to his hometown of El Paso, where he began doing undercover work investigating trafficking networks alongside Mexican cops. He saw firsthand the control that Amado exercised in the city.He even saw Amado once. Ramirez was in Juárez, eating breakfast with some Mexican colleagues, including a federal police commander, when who walks in but Amado, surrounded by a swarm of burly, heavily armed guards. Amado made a beeline for their table and greeted the commander warmly as Ramirez studied his food and preyed that he wouldn't be recognized. "I thought 'oh shoot, this is the guy I arrested!'" Ramirez recalled. "Everybody says they're looking for him, and he's right there!" Once again, though, Ramirez's hands were tied: no matter how much the U.S. might want its hands on Amado, he was out of reach in Mexico, where his massive web of bribes and political connections made him largely untouchable. Still, even if Ramirez's actions did nothing to stop Amado's rise to power, it wasn't all for naught.The Lord of the Skies is deadOn July 3, 1997, Amado Carrillo Fuentes entered Hospital Ángeles Santa Mónica in the ritzy Mexico City neighborhood of Polanco. Amado had had a rough time of it recently, and it would have shown, his voracious cocaine habit and relentless workload taking their toll on his face and his increasingly heavy frame. The hospital was under heavy security, with an entire wing shut down for the guest of honor's privacy. Reuters; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderAmado was by now the undisputed public face of the drug trade in Mexico, with mansions all over the country and countless men doing his bidding. Being the boss is great for a guy like Amado, but not if everyone knows it. In Juárez he and his henchmen had worked hard to keep his name out of the papers, intimidating and threatening journalists and even discouraging singers from composing narcocorridos, the norteño ballads penned in honor of prominent drug traffickers that form an important role in the folk history of organized crime in Mexico. But when you amass power and wealth like Amado had, you can only remain in the shadows for so long. Things had really taken a turn for Amado that February, when one of his most important guardian angels — General Jesús Héctor Gutierrez Rebollo, Mexico's drug czar  — was arrested and publicly accused of collaboration with Amado. Just a few months earlier, Guttierrez Rebollo had been feted in Washington, described by his American counterpart as "a guy of absolute, unquestioned integrity." So it was with a deeply embarrassed vengeance that the attention of both governments now trained itself on Amado.Amado knew as well as anyone that a drug lord's days are numbered as soon as he becomes a liability to the government. By multiple accounts, Amado started looking for an exit almost immediately. He bought property in Chile, moved money abroad, and was even rumored to have approached contacts in the government to offer a massive bribe in exchange for his freedom to retire in anonymity.On July 3, he checked in under a fake name at the hospital in Polanco to undergo plastic surgery to alter his features. (Or, it was rumored later, for a bit of liposuction. It may have been both.)He was never seen alive again.The next day, July 4, about two miles away from the hospital in the similarly posh Lomas Altas neighborhood, Fourth of July festivities were underway at the fortress-like mansion that was home to the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Diplomats and dignitaries, bureaucrats and spooks were spread out across the lawn, mingling with their spouses. Among the revelers were a handful of agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who, as Amado might have suspected, had been racing to pin down Amado before he could vanish.Their day off came to a sudden end when one of the DEA agents got a call. According to his source, Amado had succumbed to an overdose on the operating table and the body was headed for burial in his home state of Sinaloa.The call kicked off a furious race by U.S. and Mexican officials alike desperate to confirm the drug lord's death. Rumors were swirling that it was all a lie, that Amado couldn't possibly be dead, and to quiet this talk Mexican officials would a few days later take the extraordinary step of laying out Amado's body — puffy by now; his skin a ghastly grey-green — for a viewing at a government building in Mexico City, inviting journalists to show his corpse to the world.Meanwhile, a young intelligence officer for the DEA named Larry Villalobos was racking his brains to think of a way to confirm that the body was Amado's.Then it hit him: the fingerprints. Villalobos had worked for a while as a fingerprint technician with the FBI before joining the DEA, and, prior to his posting in Mexico City, he had been stationed at the DEA field office in El Paso, where he'd helped build a dossier on Amado. As part of his research, he had learned of Amado's brief detention by Border Patrol agent David Ramirez back in 1985, and he knew Ramirez had taken Amado's mugshot and fingerprints. Villalobos made some calls, and it wasn't long before Ramirez found himself awoken by the ring of his telephone. Amado may not have been worth getting out of bed for when Ramirez called the ATF back in 1985, but he sure was now.."They called me about 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, wanting to know if I still had his prints," Ramirez recalled rather matter-of-factly. "So I dug 'em up and I sent 'em to him."In Mexico City, Villalobos received a fax of the prints and headed to the morgue to compare them with those belonging to the corpse.They were a match.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 22nd, 2022