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Psaki says 'it's pretty rich' for DeSantis to criticize the White House's testing plans when he hasn't been 'exactly advocating for people in his state to get vaccinated'

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 22:08
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis; White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
  • Psaki dismissed DeSantis' criticisms of the Biden administration's COVID-19 testing plans.
  • DeSantis said testing should be prioritized for vulnerable populations.
  • DeSantis hasn't been "exactly advocating for people in his state to get vaccinated," Psaki said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday swiped at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over his criticisms of the Biden administration's COVID-19 testing plans.

"It's pretty rich coming from Governor DeSantis, given he is somebody who's been ... not exactly advocating for people in his state to get vaccinated, which we know is the way that people can be protected, way that lives can be saved," Psaki told reporters during a press briefing on Thursday.

"If he wants to be a constructive part of this process then perhaps he should encourage what scientists say is the best way to save lives, prevent and reduce, and that is getting vaccinated and getting boosted," she continued.

DeSantis has opposed several of President Joe Biden's COVID-19 responses, including vaccine requirements. The latest tussle between DeSantis and the Biden administration over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic involves testing. 

As the highly contagious Omicron variant spreads across the country, Biden last month announced efforts to meet the rise in demand for COVID-19 tests. Among the new strategies include setting up additional federal testing sites in several states and buying 500 million at-home testing kits to mail to Americans who request them.

DeSantis this week dismissed the federal government's plan, claiming it's unwise to send tests to everyone and that vulnerable communities should be prioritized.

"The point of matter is not every single person needs to be going out always getting tested. You have healthy people. That's not a good strategy," DeSantis told Fox News on Thursday. "But what is a good strategy is to have these at-home tests available for our vulnerable population."

DeSantis announced on Thursday that his administration plans to send 1 million at-home tests to vulnerable communities, including nursing homes, long-term care facilities and senior citizens.

DeSantis this week also released new testing guidelines for Floridians, advising young and healthy people and people who are not showing COVID-19 symptoms to forgo testing so that more tests may be available for vulnerable populations. The guidance was met with criticism from public health officials and experts who say that testing is crucial to getting the pandemic under control. Individuals without symptoms can contract COVID-19 and spread the virus to others unknowingly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Roughly 64% of people in Florida are fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by the New York Times.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A Capitol Hill staffer says they're always on the lookout for everyday office items that can be used to defend themselves in case of another January 6

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 21:56
Congress staffers barricade themselves after Trump supporters stormed inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
  • Capitol Hill staff are still dealing with the emotional and political fallout of Jan 6.
  • Some staff still don't feel safe at work, but are determined to serve.
  • They fear the partisan rift caused by January 6 won't heal anytime soon.

A year after the January 6 Capitol insurrection, a Hill employee still surveys his workplace for objects he could use to defend himself.

"It's unfortunate that we now have to take our own personal security into account, and I definitely have plans on what I can use in the office to fight my way out the next time...and there will be a next time," the senior Democratic legislative staffer told Insider on the one-year anniversary of the insurrection. "I will not let those bastards scare me away from doing my job." But the fear lingers.

"The people who work here know that the next time shit goes down, it's everyone for themselves," said another congressional aide, who told Insider they realized that the Capitol Police would primarily protect their bosses in an emergency. Staff, they said, "were hung out to dry."

House Periodical Press Gallery deputy director Jay Rupert, who hid for hours in his office as rioters taunted outside that "we're coming to get you," believes he hasn't seen the last of the people who could have harmed him that day.

He worried the lack of accountability for the insurrection meant that "there are going to be people that broke into this building on January 6 that come on a tour."

Hill staffers can still hear the crash of the mob pounding against the doors of the House of Representatives. They remember watching Trump supporters brandish pipes, fire extinguishers, guns, and other weapons as they sought to stop the certification of the 2020 election. They remember huddling in locked rooms as rioters howled in the corridors and returning to their offices to find windows shattered and doors gashed.

Many staffers have departed the institution, with some telling Insider that the trauma from January 6 contributed to their decision. Those who remain say their resolve to serve their country and uphold Congress' mission has never been stronger. But they see an institution fundamentally fractured by the events of last year, and their own relationship with their jobs forever changed. 

"Any sense of security or safety that we had at our workplace vanished," said Diala Qasem, a House staffer and president of the Congressional Middle Eastern and North African Staff Association. "One year later, many of us are still dealing with this pain."

The Congressional Black Associates, which represents Hill staffers, said in a statement that, "being in the aftermath of January 6, especially as a Black staffer, is in no way, shape, or form, easy."

A person is seen hanging from the Capitol facade.

[Read more: The January 6 insurrection, in all its heart-pounding detail, from 34 people who lived through it]

But perhaps the deepest wound staff must contend with is the unprecedented schism that's occurred between Democrats and Republicans. "The hardest part for me is that I now have to wonder which people I once thought of as my friends would be OK with getting me killed," the senior Democratic legislative staffer said. 

Partisan tensions have run high all year, as Democratic members and staff, along with the rare Republican ally like Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, continue to push for accountability for January 6. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers, keenly aware of the sway that former President Donald Trump still holds over their voters and the political potency of false claims that the election was stolen from him, have continued to downplay, deny, or distort what happened on January 6. 

On the day of the first-year anniversary, Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia sat for an interview with former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, where Gaetz declared, "We're ashamed of nothing."

"We're proud of the work we did on January 6th to make legitimate arguments about election integrity," Gaetz said. "...And we're actually going to walk the grounds that patriotic Americans walked from the White House to the Capitol who had no intent of breaking the law or doing violence."

—Eugene Daniels (@EugeneDaniels2) January 6, 2022

In reality, more than 700 people have faced federal charges for their participation in the riot at the Capitol, where thousands of Trump supporters stormed the grounds and broke into the building, wounding 140 Capitol Police officers and leaving a trail of physical damage across the House and Senate. Four people in the crowd died, and five officers died in the aftermath in connection with January 6.

"I always thought it would be country first," said Bob Fischer, the manager of the House Democratic cloakroom. But after watching half of the body spend a year trying to deny the severity of January 6, "You begin to wonder what's more important to some people, their patriotism to our country, or the gain they can make in the near term?"

Fischer, who has a front-row seat to the drama on the House floor for three decades, has witnessed his fair share of partisan disagreements. He also lived through the terror of September 11, 2001 the only event that Hill veterans can point to that even comes close to matching the terror of January 6.

But on September 11, at least lawmakers could agree on what happened. Today, Fischer said, "There are folks now on both sides who can't work together, who choose not to work together because there's a mistrust that can't be overcome. I think the ramifications of what occurred that day are long-term."

The disgust with the events of January 6 wasn't limited to Democratic staffers. Lauren Blair Bianchi, a former communications director for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, resigned shortly after January 6 when her boss decided to continue objecting to the election results even after the attack. "My whole career I was so focused on playing and winning the game," she told the Wall Street Journal. "Jan. 6 taught me none of this is a game."

Ecclesiaste Guerrier, a former Senate staffer, lamented that "last year was an opportunity for us to deeply reflect upon who we are, and who we want to be. Sadly, I believe we're still searching for the answers to those questions."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Costco's iconic hot dog deal is still $1.50, despite record inflation rates raising prices everywhere else in the industry

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 21:51
  • Costco has sold hot dog and soda combos for $1.50 since 1985.
  • The retailer has publicly committed to maintaining the price of deal over the years. 
  • The price is still $1.50, even as inflation has put an end to other iconic deals, like dollar slices.

As swelling inflation rates continue to hit an array of consumer goods, there's one staple Americans can rely on: the $1.50 hot dog and soda combo from Costco.

Though inflation has reached its highest level since 1990 — killing other classic bargains buyers used to rely on, from dollar pizza slices to dollar stores — Costco's iconic hot dog deal has remained the same price since it first launched in 1985. 

"We have no plans to take that hot dog above a buck fifty. End of story," Costco CEO Craig Jelinek told shareholders in January 2020.

The company has publicly committed to maintaining the combo over the years. Costco founder Jim Senegal once told CEO Craig Jelinek, "If you raise the [price of the] effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out."

"It's the mindset that when you think of Costco, you think of the $1.50 hot dog," Jelinek told 425 Business, a local Seattle publication, in 2018.

The commitment to protecting the deal has paid off. During its 2019 fiscal year, Costco sold 151 million hot-dog combos for a total of nearly $226.5 million. The famously inexpensive snacks are part of what draws people to Costco, Jelinek said in April 2021, when the big box chain reopened its food courts during the pandemic. 

The price has stayed stagnant even as beef, the primary ingredient in Costco hot dogs, has been particularly hard hit by lofty price increases, up over 20% year-over-year in December, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Costco has some control in this regard, because it operates Kirkland Signature hot dog factories in Los Angeles and Chicago as its own supplier.

So far over the inflationary period of the last year, Costco has also been reluctant to raise the prices of other staples, including its famous $4.99 rotisserie chicken. Costco Chief Financial Officer Rich Galanti said in a May earnings call that there were no plans to charge higher prices on the chicken, despite "inflationary pressures" including "higher labor costs, higher freight costs, higher transportation demand, along with the container shortage and port delays." 

Costco did not respond to Insider's request for comment.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Investor sentiment is split as tech-driven rout puts the S&P 500 just 2% off record high

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 21:50
  • Investor sentiment is split amid a steep sell-off in tech stocks that has driven the market lower.
  • Recent sentiment readings from CNN's Fear & Greed Index and AAII's Investor Sentiment show a 50/50 split between bulls and bears.
  • While the S&P 500 is just 2% below its record highs, some high-flying tech stocks are down more than 50%.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Investors are split on where the stock market goes from here after a steep sell-off in technology stocks led to a modest decline in broader indicators like the S&P 500.

CNN's Fear and Greed Index stood in the Neutral zone at 50 on Thursday, even after minutes released by the Federal Reserve led to a more than 3% sell-off in the Nasdaq 100 and a meltdown in cryptocurrencies on Wednesday.

The muted sentiment seen in CNN's Fear and Greed Index was backed up by AAII's most recent investment survey, with bulls and bears both tied at 33% for the week ending January 5. That's compared to a bull reading of 38% in the prior week's survey.

Both sentiment indicators have seen its bullish readings fall over the past week, as concerns of rising interest rates and a hawkish Fed begin to dominate market headlines. Investors now expect at least three rate hikes in 2022, with the earliest coming in March. That's a big difference from late last year when investors only expected two interest rate hikes this year. 

The lack of investor enthusiasm in either direction for the stock market is rare given the S&P 500 is just 2% below its record high reached earlier this week. Typically, traders might look at sentiment readings to generate contrarian trade signals as they seek to pull away from the crowd. But for now, there is no signal to be traded.

All of that could change as investors gain a better understanding of when and by how much the Fed plans to raise interest rates. That could continue to hurt tech stocks, which have been pummeled over the past year, best illustrated by the performance of Ark Invest's flagship ETF.

But any indication that the Fed's December minutes were more bark than bit could help drive a sizable recovery rally in tech stocks and help drive the stock market higher, leading to more bullish investor enthusiasm. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he lost 90 pounds in 6 months

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 21:34
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Sen. James Lankford, right, R-Okla., speak during a forum, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in Edmond, Okla
  • Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he lost 90 pounds in six months. 
  • He told the New York Post he lost the weight by exercising consistently and eating better. 
  • "There was no trainer, there was no dietitian. It was just me," Pompeo told the Post. 

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he's been hitting the gym and laying off the junk food since leaving the Trump administration. The healthy change helped him lose 90 pounds in 6 months, he told the New York Post.

Fox News viewers and others began noticing Pompeo looking considerably slimmer throughout 2021. The former secretary of state and Kansas congressman, also a potential 2024 presidential contender, detailed the story behind his weight loss in an interview with The New York Post.

Pompeo said losing weight has been "a lifetime struggle" but became especially difficult after he was elected to Congress in 2010. He told the Post that his weight loss journey truly began when he stepped on the scale in June 2021 and saw he was approaching 300 pounds. 

"Today is the day," Pompeo recalls telling his wife Susan.

Then, Pompeo said, "I started exercising, not every day, but nearly every day, and eating right and the weight just started to come off."

Pompeo said there were no fad diets, expensive personal training, or intense workout regimens involved in his weight loss.

"I tried to get down there five, six times a week and stay at it for a half-hour or so. And that was nothing scientific. There was no trainer, there was no dietitian. It was just me," Pompeo told the Post. 

Pompeo said that working in government and especially in a top position like secretary of state involved long workdays and travel days fueled by lots of food — especially cheeseburgers. 

"You can ask anybody on my team, they knew exactly what I was going to do: cheeseburger from room service. I went back to the room and kept working, and ate my cheeseburger. That was my pattern of life," Pompeo said of his routine during days when he was traveling abroad. "When you work and eat, you just keep working and you just keep eating."

Pompeo said that his family still enjoys plenty of meals and trips to iHop — but he skips the pumpkin pancakes doused in syrup. "Now we get egg whites and turkey bacon," he told the Post.

"For our family, food is where we gather. We are Italian and we like to get together around a good meal of pasta and bread and cheeses and dessert. We are still going to enjoy these big meals with family and friends except I am going to be the guy that says, 'Yeah, I'll have a salad,'" he added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Rep. Adam Kinzinger says being a member of Congress doesn't 'protect you from the DOJ'

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 21:24
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).
  • Adam Kinzinger says his colleagues shouldn't be able to hide from subpoenas.
  • Multiple House Republicans were in contact with Trump on January 6, 2021.
  • The committee investigating the insurrection wants to know about what happened.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger said on Thursday that being a member of Congress does not protect a lawmaker from possible subpoenas or even Justice Department action, an opinion that comes as the Capitol riot committee weighs how it should treat its colleagues who were in touch with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021.

"In my mind, we need this information and we need this information pretty ricky tick," Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, told The Washington Post's Jacqueline Alemany on the first anniversary of the January 6 insurrection. "If members of Congress knew what was going to happen or had an inkling of what was going to happen, that's important both from an election perspective … and for the future of the institution."

The House Select Committee has asked Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania to voluntarily cooperate with their probe. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat who chairs the panel, has previously said that the committee is considering whether it has the legal authority to subpoena fellow lawmakers in the event they don't comply.

Addressing those legal concerns, Kinzinger said the answers are "not a matter of protecting our own."

"I'm of the firm belief that being a member of Congress does not protect you from the DOJ, it certainly does not protect you from an inquiry of Congress," he said.

As for another part of the panel's probe, Kinzinger said that Fox News host Sean Hannity has not yet cooperated with the committee's request for information about his contacts with Trump before and during January 6, 2021. Hannity, who as Kinzinger pointed out has previously claimed he is not a journalist, could still fight any potential subpoena on First Amendment grounds. 

Lawmakers have already released multiple text messages that Hannity sent White House chief of staff Mark Meadows before the insurrection expressing worry over Trump rejecting the fact that he lost the election.

"A question, probably more for you and other journalists, is at what point do you go from being a journalist to an advocate?" Kinzinger said, adding that it's an "intriguing part of the investigation."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Rep. Matt Gaetz taunts Sen. Ted Cruz and says 'you can bend over' but 'the establishment will never love you'

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 21:15
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) awaits the State of the Union address in the chamber of the House of Representatives on February 4, 2020 in Washington, DC.
  • Reps. Matt Gaetz and MTG slammed Ted Cruz for calling the Capitol riot a "violent terrorist attack."
  • Gaetz taunted Cruz and said he can "bend over" for the GOP establishment, but "they'll never love you."
  • Gaetz and Greene have repeatedly floated conspiracy theories about the riot and downplayed the violence.

Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz on Thursday criticized their colleague Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for calling the January 6, 2021 Capitol siege a "violent terrorist attack."

Gaetz mocked Cruz, saying that he can "bend over" and "bend a knee" to the Republican establishment but that they'll "never love you."

"We are approaching a solemn anniversary this week," Cruz, who was one of more than a dozen GOP senators who objected to the certification of Joe Biden's 2020 election victory, said at a Senate Rules hearing on Wednesday. "And it is an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol where we saw the men and women of law enforcement demonstrate incredible courage, incredible bravery, risk their lives to defend the men and women who serve in this Capitol."

Insider asked Gaetz and Greene to react to Cruz's comments, and both said they vehemently disagreed with the Texas senator's characterization of the deadly riot as a terror attack.

"I think Senator Cruz is smart enough to know, since he's an attorney, that no one's been charged with terrorism, just like no one has been charged with insurrection," Greene said. "I think that was very irresponsible of him to call them terrorists, and I completely disagree."

Gaetz tacked on: "The establishment will never love you, Ted. You know, you can bend over and bend a knee for them, but they're just not going to love you."

He added, "I think that was maybe an effort by the good senator, who we agree with on many, many things, to recast himself in the eyes of some of the folks in your profession, but we didn't find it particularly factual or sincere."

—Acyn (@Acyn) January 6, 2022

Earlier Thursday, Gaetz and Greene appeared on former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's podcast, where Gaetz praised the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol as "patriotic Americans" and baselessly claimed some of them were "trapped" into participating in the siege.

"We're actually going to go walk the grounds that patriotic Americans walked from the White House to the Capitol, who had no intent of breaking the law or doing violence," he added on the podcast.

Gaetz's claim that those who stormed the Capitol on January 6 had "no intent of breaking the law or doing violence" is untrue.

Groups of Trump supporters were caught on video calling for the execution of then Vice President Mike Pence; prosecutors said some rioters went to the Capitol armed with stun guns, pepper spray, flagpoles, baseball bats, zip ties, and handcuffs; more than 100 law enforcement officers were injured as a result of the violence; and hundreds more are traumatized from the mob frenzy.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said this week that the Justice Department's investigation into the events at the Capitol and their aftermath is "one of the largest, most complex, and most resource-intensive investigations in our history."

To date, more than 700 people have been arrested in connection to the riot, and more than 300 have been charged with felonies.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Rep. Liz Cheney confirms she snapped 'get away from me' at Rep. Jim Jordan as the House chamber was being evacuated on January 6

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 21:07
Former Vice President Dick Cheney walks with his daughter Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chair of the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection, in the Capitol Rotunda at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022.
  • Rep. Liz Cheney confirms she snapped at Rep. Jim Jordan during the January 6 insurrection. 
  • Cheney told Jordan, "get away from me, you fucking did this," as House members were evacuating. 
  • Cheney became a vocal Trump critic and is on the select committee probing January 6. 

GOP Rep. Liz Cheney confirmed she told fellow Rep. Jim Jordan "get away from me, you fucking did this," as members evacuated the House chamber during the January 6, 2021 siege on the Capitol. 

The New York Times' Michael Barbaro asked Cheney about the incident during an interview on "The Daily" podcast that aired Thursday, the first anniversary of the insurrection. 

The interaction between Jordan and Cheney was reported in the book "I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year" by Washington Post reporters Phillip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, published in 2021. 

"Can you confirm this story? Because I think it's important," Barbaro asked. 

"It's true," Cheney said.

"I was in the aisle, on the aisle, and he came over to me and basically said, 'We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. And I basically said...I had watched for months since the election what was going on, and the lies that had been told to people," she said. "I think it was both that I certainly didn't need his help, and secondly, I thought clearly that the lie they had been spreading and telling to people had absolutely contributed to what we were living through at that moment." 

Rucker and Leonnig wrote in the book that Cheney later relayed the moment to Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

"That fucking guy Jim Jordan," Cheney told Milley, according to the book. "That son of a bitch … While these maniacs are going through the place, I'm standing in the aisle and he said 'We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you.' I smacked his hand away and told him, 'Get away from me. You fucking did this.'"

After the insurrection, Cheney became a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump and voted to impeach him for inciting the insurrection, moves that cost her her position in House leadership and ostracized her from her party. She's now the vice-chairwoman of the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection. 

Jordan, a staunch Trump supporter and ally in Congress, was among a key group of House Republican lawmakers organizing the GOP effort to object to the counting of electoral votes on January 6. The Select Committee has asked Jordan to provide information about his communications with Trump during the riots. 

On Thursday, Cheney, along with her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, were the only Republicans seen on the House floor during a moment of silence and remembrance for the January 6 insurrection. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

What it feels like to drive a $300K 2022 Bentley Flying Spur

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 21:01
  • The Flying Spur is Bentley's ultra-luxury full-sized four-door sedan.
  • With all the features available, it can easily cost up to $300,000.
  • We explored how it sounds and feels to drive one.

Narrator: This is a 2022 Bentley Flying Spur, a four-door ultra-luxury sedan you can own for just under $300,000. We got our hands on one with custom styling, extra gadgets, and a newly available V-8 engine to find out what it actually sounds like and feels like to drive.

The first thing you'll notice in the interior is the Flying Spur's rotating display. On one side is a 12.3-inch touch screen. On the other, three analog gauges: a thermometer showing the outside temperature, a chronometer, and a compass surrounded by 200-million-year-old-stone veneer, which also circles the dashboard. It's just one of the options courtesy of Bentley's custom shop, Mulliner, which also adds diamond leather quilting patterns for seats, a 3D leather design for door panels, and, outside, 22-inch wheels.

While the James Bond-like rotating display, made up of 153 individual pieces, is mesmerizing to watch, it's the touch screen where you'll find controls for the actual gadgets, which include massage seats with five different modes and intensities.

But the real luxury is for the rear-seat passengers, who get headrests as soft as pillows. There are flip-down vanity mirrors on both sides, so you can make sure you're looking your best before you open the door. In between the front seats is a small touch-screen tablet. And if you tap the eject icon, the tablet can be removed and held like a smartphone. It can be used to control everything from music and cabin temperature [classical music playing] to the sunroof and window blinds. The tablet can even be used to reveal the Spur's crystal-inlaid pop-up hood ornament, the Flying B.

Despite being almost as heavy as a Rolls-Royce, at up to 5,372 pounds, the Flying Spur doesn't drive like a chauffeur's car. It's built on the same platform as the Porsche Panamera and has high-powered anti-roll bars like Lamborghini's SUV. That means the Spur turns corners like a sports car, especially if you shed some pounds by choosing the new V-8 engine. Even without the beefier W-12, it still manages a top speed of almost 200 miles per hour and goes 0 to 60 in just four seconds.

No matter the engine, the Spur is effortlessly fast, even if the V-8 revs just a little louder to get up there. The Spur's air springs and adaptive dampers make it so you barely notice a bump in the road. The car's four drive modes, Bentley, comfort, sport, and custom, change the settings for throttle response, suspension, steering, traction control, and more. While Bentley mode provides the perfect balance, sport mode is necessary to hear and feel just what this car can do.

Read the original article on Business Insider

'Swab your throat first and then your nose': 4 disease experts offer new guidance on COVID-19 rapid tests

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 20:46
A woman uses a swab to take a sample from her mouth at a NHS Test and Trace COVID-19 testing unit in west London on May 25 2021.
  • New research suggests Omicron may be easier to detect in saliva than nasal samples.
  • Some experts recommend swabbing your throat then your nose for a COVID-19 rapid test, even if the test doesn't say to.
  • The FDA and testing manufacturers advise against performing throat swabs at home.

The FDA has authorized just one method of taking a COVID-19 rapid test: swabbing the inside of your nose.

But ever since Omicron came into force in the US in mid-December, some people have noted on social media that their rapid tests only come back positive after adding saliva to the mix. The anecdotes raised questions about whether throat swabs could increase a test's accuracy, or detect virus particles before a standard nose swab.

Four disease experts told Insider they agree that it could be a good idea to throat-swab at home, even if the test doesn't call for it. But most recommended sticking the swab up your nose as well. 

"If you were my friend, I would say to you, 'Yeah, I would suggest that you swab your throat first and then your nose,'" Irene Petersen, an epidemiology professor at University College London, told Insider.

If the test comes back positive, there's little reason to doubt the results, experts added. But since rapid tests were not designed to include a throat-swab, it doesn't hurt to verify the results with a lab-quality PCR test, said Susan Butler-Wu, who directs clinical testing for infectious diseases at the University of Southern California.

"I get why people are doing it," Butler-Wu said of throat swabbing. "I'd probably do it myself. But I would want to confirm if it was positive."

Throat swabs haven't been vetted by the FDA for use at home

A rapid COVID-19 test swab being processed.

Test manufacturers and US health agencies aren't recommending at-home throat swabs yet.

"The FDA advises that COVID-19 tests should be used as authorized, including following their instructions for use regarding obtaining the sample for testing," an FDA spokesperson told Insider, adding: "The FDA has noted safety concerns regarding self-collection of throat swabs, as they are more complicated than nasal swabs — and if used incorrectly, can cause harm to the patient."

Abbott, one of the leading producers of rapid tests in the US, told Insider that its rapid test, BinaxNOW, should be used exclusively as a nasal swab because that's how it was designed.

"The test is highly accurate when used as intended," an Abbott spokesperson said.

Why throat swabbing may help detect a positive case 

A saliva swab being taken an express COVID-19 testing lab in Moscow's Vnukovo Airport on January 12, 2021.

Scientists have generally understood nasal swabs to be better at detecting respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV2.

"The cells in the lining of the nose are much more similar to the cells deeper in the lungs," Sheldon Campbell, associate professor of laboratory medicine at Yale School of Medicine, told Insider. "That's traditionally why we've diagnosed all these viruses up in the nose."

But it's possible the Omicron variant may change the way the coronavirus replicates or congregates in the body.

In a December study that hasn't been peer reviewed, South African researchers found that saliva tests were better at picking up Omicron than nasal tests — detecting 100% of cases, while nasal swabs were only 86% sensitive. With Delta, the opposite was true: Saliva swabs were 71% sensitive, whereas nasal swabs were 100% sensitive.

On Wednesday, a team of US researchers released another small study — also not-yet-peer-reviewed — that supported those findings. They found that the viral load from an Omicron infection peaked in saliva one to two days before it peaked in nasal swabs. 

The study was based on samples from just 30 people. But these new results back up what Twitter's rogue citizen scientists have suggested — that throat swabs might be detecting Omicron earlier in the course of a vaccinated person's illness than nasal swabs can.

The throat may carry a higher viral load in Omicron's case

Omicron's unique pattern of symptoms may offer more clues about where the variant prefers to hang out in the body.

Tens of thousands of Omicron patients in the UK log their symptoms every day using the Zoe COVID app, and 60% say they're suffering from a sore throat, making it one of the top five symptoms there. Many of those patients also report that sore throat is one of their earliest symptoms. Health officials in both the US and European Union are, similarly, noting fewer instances of fever or loss of taste and smell with Omicron, when compared with other variants.

"It may be that Omicron is showing us a slightly different set of symptoms, and that may reflect perhaps a change in where this virus is infecting in your respiratory tract or how well it's infecting certain cells in your respiratory tract," Andy Pekosz, a virologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Insider. 

"When you hear the same anecdotes from people that say a lot of them have a scratchy throat, it is probably because that's where the highest concentration of the virus is at that point," Petersen added. The variant, she said, "may colonize the tissues in the throat earlier than in your nose."

That could, theoretically, be even more true now that "many people are vaccinated," she said, a potential early sign their vaccine-induced immunity is kicking in. "Therefore, they may develop symptoms very early on, when they still have very little viral material, especially in the nose."

On the other hand, throat swabs might simply be picking up on drainage from the nose, Campbell said.

"It's not implausible that there's a fair amount of virus in the back of the throat — even if it's not replicating there, frankly, because everything runs down there from the nose," he said.

How to perform a throat swab properly 

Mirrors help.

If you're going to try swabbing your throat at home, there are a few key things to know. Many rapid tests in the UK use a combined throat/nose swab, and the UK Health Security Agency has a brief how-to video.

First, it's important not to drink, eat, or brush your teeth for at least 30 mins prior to performing the swab, because it's possible that could mess with your test results.

"We're talking about basically putting something onto a strip of special paper," Butler-Wu said of how the rapid antigen tests work. "So we worry more about random chemical interference, potentially."

Next, always be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before testing. Then, stand in front of a mirror, and open wide. 

Stick out your tongue, so you can see the bridge-like, arched surface that extends across the roof of your throat. The area directly behind that bridge, where your tonsils jut out on either side, is the place we're interested in sampling for virus. Sweep across both tonsils, at the top of the very back of the mouth, for several seconds. Avoid touching the tongue, teeth, or the insides of your cheeks with the swab.

Be gentle, but swab judiciously back and forth across both tonsils firmly, at least four times. Sampling this far back may activate your gag reflex, but it shouldn't hurt you. 

Then, proceed with your nose swab as usual. It's very important to swab your throat before your nose, because you don't want to introduce anything that may be stuck in your nose down your throat.

Some experts said they expect manufacturers to come out with updated guidance for rapid tests soon, though Abbott declined to comment on whether that was the case. 

"Nobody's trying to dupe anybody," Butler-Wu said. "We're all thrown into this hot mess together trying to figure it out."

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Rep. Matt Gaetz says he's 'proud' of the work Republicans did on January 6 and calls pro-Trump rioters 'patriotic Americans'

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 20:41
Rep. Matt Gaetz seen at the Capitol Hill Club on Wednesday, December 1, 2021.
  • Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said he's "proud" of the GOP's work on January 6, 2021.
  • He called Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol to stop the transfer of power "patriotic Americans."
  • He also falsely claimed they had "no intent of breaking the law or doing violence."

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said on Thursday that he was "proud" of the work Republicans did on January 6, 2021 — the day of the deadly Capitol insurrection — and that the Trump supporters who went to the Capitol that day were "patriotic."

"We're ashamed of nothing," Gaetz said during an appearance with Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's podcast. "We're proud of the work we did on January 6 to make legitimate arguments about election integrity."

"So we're going to make those arguments today ... and we're actually going to go walk the grounds that patriotic Americans walked from the White House to the Capitol, who had no intent of breaking the law or doing violence," he added.

The Florida congressman went on to suggest, without evidence, that many of the rioters "were trapped" and that those who trapped them "have not been held to account."

Gaetz, who is under a federal sex-trafficking investigation, was among Trump's most loyal attack dogs on Capitol Hill and joined most of his House Republican colleagues in objecting to Congress' certification of Joe Biden's victory. His claim that those who stormed the Capitol on January 6 had "no intent of breaking the law or doing violence" is untrue.

  • One Reuters photographer said he overheard at least pro-Trump rioters say they wanted to hang then Vice President Mike Pence from a Capitol tree because he refused to carry out Trump's bidding.
  • The photographer said "many more" rioters were discussing executing Pence, and several were captured on video chanting to "hang Mike Pence."
  • Prosecutors said several rioters went to the Capitol armed with stun guns, pepper spray, baseball bats, and flag poles that were used as clubs.
  • Other Trump supporters were photographed and captured on video in tactical gear while roaming the Capitol armed with items including zip ties and handcuffs, which prosecutors said could have been used "to restrain and/or detain subjects."
  • Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died one day after two rioters sprayed him with what prosecutors said was an "unknown chemical substance." The Washington medical examiner later determined that he died as a result of multiple strokes that happened hours after he fought the pro-Trump mob, but that "all that transpired played a role in his condition."
  • Washington, DC Metropolitan Officer Michael Fanone was seen being dragged down the Capitol steps, beaten with a flagpole, and tasered by Trump supporters. He suffered a heart attack as a result of the confrontation, which he said was "the most brutal, savage hand-to-hand combat of my entire life."
  • According to a New York Times tally, about 150 law enforcement officers suffered injuries that included cracked ribs, shattered spinal disks, and gouged eyes as a result of the Capitol riot, and hundreds more were traumatized by the mob.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said this week that the Justice Department's investigation into the events at the Capitol and their aftermath is "one of the largest, most complex, and most resource-intensive investigations in our history."

In all, Garland said the department has:

  • Issued more than 5,000 subpoenas and search warrants;
  • Seized about 2,000 devices;
  • Gone through more than 20,000 hours of video footage;
  • Searched through about 15 terrabytes of data;
  • Received more than 300,000 tips;
  • Arrested and charged more than 725 defendants across nearly all 50 states and Washington, DC;
  • Charged about 325 defendants with felonies.
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NFTs will become bigger than bitcoin because of their ability to record property ownership, Kevin O'Leary says

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 20:40
Kevin O'Leary.
  • The NFT market can potentially grow bigger and "more fluid" than bitcoin's, "Shark Tank" investor Kevin O'Leary told CNBC. 
  • He says the ability of NFTs to serve as proof of ownership for physical items can fuel the market's growth.
  • Chainalysis said the NFT market in 2021 soared to $41 billion in value.  
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell

The market for non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, holds the potential to outstrip that of bitcoin because they can serve as proof of ownership for property, "Shark Tank" star investor Kevin O'Leary told CNBC

"You're going to see a lot of movement in terms of doing authentication and insurance policies and real estate transfer taxes all online over the next few years, making NFTs a much bigger, more fluid market potentially than just bitcoin alone," he said Wednesday on CNBC's "Capital Connection" program. 

NFTs are digital representations of collectibles such as art, and O'Leary sees them capable of certifying ownership of real-world items such as watches and cars. 

"We'll see what happens, but I'm making that bet and I'm investing on both sides of that equation," he said. 

The NFT market's value swelled to $41 billion in 2021, blockchain data company Chainalysis said Thursday in updating a previous report. Trading surrounding NFTs exploded during 2021, with milestones including the $69 million sale of NFT artwork by auction house Christie's

Meanwhile, bitcoin's valuation soared beyond $2 trillion during 2021, but has since pulled back and was around $821 billion on Thursday, undergoing a big selloff in recent sessions. 

O'Leary in May 2019 called bitcoin "garbage" but he has since added the cryptocurrency to his portfolio. He's also said he has holdings in companies that are developing crypto products such as decentralized wallets.

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Russia has found itself facing an unexpected challenge elsewhere as it positions troops for a possible invasion of Ukraine

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 20:38
Russian servicemen board a military aircraft on their way to Kazakhstan.
  • Russia has been moving more and more troops near Ukraine for months, sparking invasion fears.
  • Focused on Ukraine, Russia has made a number of security demands of the US and its allies and partners.
  • New unrest in Kazakhstan, however, is demanding at least some of Russia's attention as it sends in troops.

As Russia builds up its armed forces near Ukraine, stirring fears it may invade its neighbor, unrest in Kazakhstan has suddenly emerged as an unexpected challenge for Moscow.

Russia deployed paratroopers to neighboring Kazakhstan Thursday after the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation answered the call from Kazakhstan's leadership to help quell uprisings against that country's authoritarian regime.

A car burns by the mayor's office during protests in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jopart Tokayev has said he is willing to use force to end the unrest, which the president argues are being fueled by terrorists and bandits.

The protests, which have turned violent and seen an uncertain number of casualties, started in response to a sharp increase in fuel prices but have evolved into a broader demonstration of widespread opposition to the regime built by former leader Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Some experts argue that recent developments in Kazakhstan will divide Russia's focus at a time when it may be considering military action against Ukraine if it does not receive its desired security guarantees from the US and its allies and partners in Europe.

"Just as Russia seemed to be poised to invade Ukraine, protests broke out all over Kazakhstan," Alexander Baunov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, tweeted Wednesday.

"The Kremlin needs to divide attention between the two and manage strategic instability on two fronts," he said.

Rob Lee, an expert on Russian defense issues, wrote on Twitter Wednesday that Russia likely "wouldn't want to start a conflict with Ukraine right now while the situation in Kazakhstan is so uncertain," adding that "wars are inherently unpredictable, and Russia's situation just became more complex."

The degree to which Kazakhstan is a challenge for Russia is debatable, with some Russia watchers arguing that the effect on its activities with regard to Ukraine will likely be limited, at least as things currently stand.

"The gist of early indicators is that the Russian deployment to [Kazakhstan] is going to be rather small, but sufficient to demonstrate the regime has backing from Moscow," Michael Kofman, the director of Russia studies at CNA, tweeted. "This is not a heavy lift for Russia's [airborne forces], and won't affect force posture near Ukraine."

A Russian military plane unloads troops to join the CSTO peacekeeping force in Kazakhstan.

"I don't think that the situation in Kazakhstan really has any bearing on the force deployments or decision whether or not to invade Ukraine," Jeffrey Edmonds, formerly a military analyst with the CIA and a Russia expert at CNA, told Insider.

"I don't think there's a resource or a bandwidth problem for the Russian leadership," he said, calling the situation in Kazakhstan an "interesting development" but not one that would necessarily draw away "all the bandwidth of the Russian leadership so that they can't focus on Ukraine."

He argued that if for some reason Moscow had to choose, it would probably choose to focus its energy on Ukraine, given that the situation in Ukraine, from Russia's perspective, represents a more proximate and pressing threat to Russia's national interests.

Edmonds said it is unlikely that Russia would need to choose given its capacity and that the current situation may very well demonstrate "how capable Russia is at handling a couple different things at one time."

"For now, this is less an armed intervention than a police operation," Andrei Kortunov, head of the Kremlin-linked Russian International Affairs Council, told The Moscow Times, "but if it drags on, consequences for Russia could mount up."

He emphasized that "it's important that this is a short, time-limited operation and that we don't get sucked in."

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Airlines around the world have raised concerns about Airbus' A350 paint issues, and now Qatar is seeking over $600 million in damages from the planemaker

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 20:37
A Qatar Airways jet arriving from Doha, Qatar, at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, in January 2015.
  • Qatar Airways wants $618 million from Airbus over paint-related damages on the airline's A350 jets.
  • Qatar has grounded 21 of its A350s, citing airworthiness issues due to cracked paint and exposed copper mesh.
  • The two have been at a stalemate for months, with Airbus claiming the paint issues do not impact safety.

Paint issues on Airbus' A350 jets have raised concerns from airlines around the world, and Doha-based Qatar Airways is seeking over $600 million in damages from the manufacturer.

Qatar has grounded more than 20 Airbus A350 planes since August, citing airworthiness concerns about the surface paint the planemaker uses on the jet, according to Aviation International News. The airline said in a statement that it is following "explicit written instructions" from the Qatari aviation safety regulator.

After Airbus pushed back on Qatar's claims, the airline filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer in a London High Court in December. Now, court documents reveal the carrier wants $618 million in compensation from Airbus, Reuters reported on Thursday. The airline is also asking for an additional $4 million for every day the jet remains out of service.

Included in the court filing is $76 million for one of Qatar's A350s that was set to be re-painted in a special livery for the 2022 World Cup, which needs 980 repair patches, according to Reuters.

An Airbus spokesperson told Insider that it "acknowledges the receipt" of Qatar's claim, which they "deny in total." The company also said they have identified the root cause and "provided necessary guidance to its customers and operators for continuous operations."

During the months-long dispute, the manufacturer has repeatedly said the paint flaws do not impact the airworthiness of the A350 and re-emphasized that point in a statement to Insider. The findings were also confirmed by the European Aviation Safety Agency, according to Airbus.

Photos obtained by Reuters show what appears to be paint peeling and cracking, and exposed copper mesh on the fuselage of Qatar's A350. According to Reuters, the mesh layer is placed under the paint to protect the plane's fuselage from lightning damage, which strikes planes once a year, on average.

While Airbus says the problem is simply "cosmetic," Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker says the paint flaw is a safety issue, claiming "the fuselage surface below the paint is degrading at an accelerated rate," reported AIN. 

At least six other carriers have also complained of paint damage on A350s, including Finnair, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Lufthansa, Delta Air Lines, and Air France, reported Reuters. However, most of these airlines say the issue does not pose a safety threat, with Qatar being the only carrier to ground the jets.

In response to the multiple concerns over its A350s, Airbus said in a statement that "it has become necessary for Airbus to seek an independent legal assessment as a way forward to resolve the dispute."

However, the planemaker revealed its frustration over Qatar's claims in the same statement, saying "the attempt by this customer to misrepresent this specific topic as an airworthiness issue represents a threat to the international protocols on safety matters."

Qatar's complaints have put the airline and Airbus at a stalemate. In June, the carrier announced it would not be accepting any future deliveries of the A350 until Airbus conducts a full root-cause analysis, which Qatar claims the manufacturer has yet to do, according to Reuters.

Al Baker told the South China Morning Post in December that Airbus "destroyed" the business relationship with Qatar, which was the launch customer for the Airbus A350-1000. Because of the groundings, the airline temporarily reintroduced five A380 jets in November to cover capacity issues caused by the grounding of the A350, reported AIN.

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The stunning growth of cryptocurrency markets in 2021 also came with an 80% rise in crypto crimes, new analysis shows

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 20:31
  • Illicit crypto addresses received $14 billion last year, up nearly 80% from $7.8 billion in 2020, a new study from Chainalysis shows.
  • But total crypto transaction volume also ballooned 550% to $15.8 trillion last year.
  • "The amount of legitimate activity grew much faster than the amount of criminal activity," Kim Grauer of Chainalysis told Insider.
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The cryptocurrency market saw stunning growth in 2021 as coins from bitcoin to dogecoin hit record highs. But along with this rally came a steep rise in illicit activity, a new study from Chainalysis shows.

In 2021, crypto-based crimes hit a new all-time high with illicit addresses receiving $14 billion, nearly 80% higher compared to the $7.8 billion seen in 2020.

However, the crypto analytic and forensics firm also pointed out that total crypto transaction volume ballooned 550% to $15.8 trillion last year.

"The amount of legitimate activity grew much faster than the amount of criminal activity," Kim Grauer, head of research at Chainalysis, told Insider. She added that given the growth of the space, the increase in crimes has never been smaller in comparison to legal transactions.  

Still, illicit activities continued to be rampant. And criminal abuse of digital assets threatens broader institutional adoption as regulators all over the world clamp down on crypto, Chainslysis said. 

Crimes that Chainalysis observed in 2021 included the ongoing threat of ransomware and NFT-related frauds. But two other trends in particular stood out last year: scamming and stealing funds, with decentralized finance being the common denominator. 


The value of crypto that scammers duped from victims totaled $7.8 billion in 2021 -- an 82% rise compared to 2020. More than $2.8 billion of this amount came from rug pulls, a new type of scam in which creators quickly cash out their gains after developing what seemed like a legitimate token.

This scam was laid bare when the top boss of Turkish crypto exchange Thodex fled Istanbul, leaving almost 400,000 unable to access their accounts. 

Other than that one incident, which accounted for 90% of all rug-pull revenue last year, every other rug pull tracked by Chainalysis involved DeFi projects, the study said. 

Grauer said a possible reason why scams are prevalent in DeFi may have to do with smart contract code governing the protocols. She said anyone equipped with the technical skills to create DeFi tokens can have them listed in exchanges despite not having a code audit, which is when an external party analyzes and confirms the credibility of a certain project.

"A lot of the code that is writing these protocols is public and open-sourced," she told Insider. "So anyone can go over them and look for bugs in the code that they can then exploit."

Another reason is just the rapid growth of the space. DeFi transaction volume leapt 912% in 2021, thanks to decentralized tokens like shiba inu that have spurred speculation. 

Stealing funds

Then there is outright theft, and the revenue from stealing crypto jumped 516% to $3.2 billion in 2021.

Roughly $2.2 billion -- 72% of last year's total -- were stolen from DeFi protocols, Chainalysis said. That's up from just under $162 million in 2020.

Chainalysis also saw explosive growth in DeFi protocols being used for laundering illicit funds in 2021, a practice that only saw scattered examples in 2020. In fact, money laundered shot up 1,964% compared to 2020.

"I hope next year we don't see this much hacking of DeFi protocols because I hope that through data like these people will realize the importance of taking security measures to protect their platforms," Grauer told Insider.

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Mitch McConnell slams Democrats for trying to 'exploit' the January 6 anniversary to 'advance partisan policy goals'

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 20:26
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
  • Mitch McConnell slammed Democrats for trying to "exploit" the January 6 anniversary.
  • He accused them of pushing "partisan policy goals that long predated this event."
  • McConnell did not attend the commemorative events at the Capitol on Thursday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday marked the anniversary of the "dark" and "disgraceful" January 6 Capitol insurrection, but also criticized Democratic leaders over how they've commemorated the deadly day.

"January 6th, 2021 was a dark day for Congress and our country. The United States Capitol, the seat of the first branch of our federal government, was stormed by criminals who brutalized police officers and used force to try to stop Congress from doing its job," the Kentucky Republican said in a statement, referring to when Congress met to certify the 2020 presidential election results.

"This disgraceful scene was antithetical to the rule of law. One year later, I am as grateful as ever for the brave men and women of the U.S. Capitol Police who served our institution bravely that day and every day since. I continue to support justice for those who broke the law," he continued.

McConnell then took aim at Democrats, accusing them of trying to "exploit" the anniversary to push forward their agenda.

"It has been stunning to see some Washington Democrats try to exploit this anniversary to advance partisan policy goals that long predated this event. It is especially jaw-dropping to hear some Senate Democrats invoke the mob's attempt to disrupt our country's norms, rules, and institutions as a justification to discard our norms, rules, and institutions themselves," McConnell said. 

President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Democratic lawmakers gathered at the Capitol on Thursday to commemorate January 6 through speeches, a moment of silence, and other events. Republican leaders, including McConnell, were notably absent. McConnell is traveling to Atlanta, Georgia, to attend the funeral of his former colleague, Sen. Johnny Isakson.

In a speech, Biden recounted the day's violence, honored the deaths of law enforcement officials, and issued a stark warning that "we must make sure that such an attack never, never happens again."

The president also criticized former President Donald Trump, pinning blame on him — without explicitly naming him — for the riot and condemning his "big lie" that the 2020 presidential election was rigged. 

"He built his lie over months. It wasn't based on any facts," Biden said. "He's not just a former president. He's a defeated former president — defeated by a margin of over 7 million of your votes in a full and free and fair election."

At one point in his speech, Biden also commented on states' efforts to reshape voting laws. Many of these new laws restrict voting access and politicize the election administration process. 

"So, we have to be firm, resolute, and unyielding in our defense of the right to vote and to have that vote counted," Biden said.

Among Senate Democrat's top priorities is advancing voting rights legislation. But the party, which controls 50 Senate seats with Vice President Kamala Harris able to cast a tie-breaking vote, needs to overcome the 60-vote filibuster requirement in order for a bill to pass. That means possibly tweaking Senate rules to move the voting rights legislation along by a simple-majority vote.

McConnell and Republicans have previously blocked Democrats' voting rights legislation and have expressed widespread opposition to the policy proposal.

"No party that would trash the Senate's legislative traditions can be trusted to seize control over election laws across America," McConnell said in a statement on Wednesday. "Nobody who is this desperate to take over our democracy on a one-party basis can be allowed to do it."


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Tour the coolest features of the new electric Chevy Silverado, from ultra-fast charging to a front trunk

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 20:24
2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST.
  • The new Chevy Silverado EV is electric, but that's not all it brings to the table. 
  • The new pickup from GM offers a host of interesting and unique features. 
  • A one-of-a-kind passage between the cab and bed makes room for huge, 11-foot-long items. 
The all-electric Chevy Silverado EV dropped on Wednesday with a $39,900 starting price.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV.Much like it's crosstown rival, Ford's F-150 Lightning, the Silverado EV brings a lot to the table aside from electric motors and a battery.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV.General Motors packed the Silverado EV with a boatload of interesting features sure to entice truck owners to consider a zero-emission alternative.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV.For starters, the Silverado EV can act like a giant mobile battery pack for powering a construction project, campsite, or tailgate.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV.The PowerBase charging system can provide power to up to 10 outlets with an available accessory.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV WT.Like the F-150 Lightning, the Silverado EV can share power with another electric vehicle or an owner's home. The Silverado EV offers up to 10.2 kilowatts of energy, a skosh more than the Ford's 9.6 kilowatts.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST.The Silverado EV can charge at up to 350 kilowatts. That basically means that under ideal conditions — when it's plugged into a very high-powered charger — it can accept a dump of energy much faster than other electric cars.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST.Chevy says the Silverado EV is capable of adding 100 miles of range in 10 minutes.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST.The $105,000 RST First Edition comes with what Chevy calls the Multi-Flex Midgate, something you can't get anywhere else.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST.The midgate is a pathway from the bed to the Silverado's cab that lets owners haul extra-long items.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV.You can open a piece of the midgate to make room for something long and skinny, like a kayak or some wood boards.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST.Or you can fling open the entire thing to accommodate especially large items, like a stack of plywood.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST.Or perhaps something more fitting for an electric truck, like a pile of solar panels.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST.The available Multi-Flex Tailgate, which is also an option on gas-powered Chevys, makes the bed even more functional.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV.It can act as a bed extender, ensuring that long items don't slide out.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV.And you can use it as a step to get in and out of the bed.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV.Speaking of storage, electrification means that truck owners can now get something they've rarely had before: a trunk!2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST.The Silverado's hood and grille area lift up to reveal a nifty cargo compartment that uses the space that normally would be taken up by a gas engine.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV WT.It's a great spot for storing things owners don't want in the bed or cab.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV WT.Chevy also envisions accessories for the frunk like slide-out drawers and tool boxes.


The RST First Edition will also come equipped with four-wheel steering, which will be an optional feature on other models.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST.Four-wheel steering should allow the Silverado EV to manage tight turns more effectively, a welcome feature for anyone who has tried to slide a full-size truck into a tight parking space.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST.And it'll have Super Cruise, GM's driver-assistance system that enables hands-free driving on 200,000 miles of approved roadways. That's available on lots of GM models, but on the Silverado EV you'll be able to use Super Cruise while towing a trailer.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST.The Silverado EV is available to preorder now. It hits the streets in mid-2023 in two versions: the Work Truck and the fully-loaded RST First Edition.2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV WT.Read the original article on Business Insider

The global computing power of the bitcoin network slides after Kazakhstan shuts down the internet amid violent protests

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 20:16
Haobtc's bitcoin mine site manager, Guo-hua, checks mining equipment inside their bitcoin mine
  • The global hash rate of bitcoin slid after Kazakhstan shut down the internet amid violent protests.
  • Kazakhstan became the world's second largest center for bitcoin mining last year, trailing the US.
  • Hash rate is a key measure of how much computing power is required to support the network and to create bitcoin. 
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell

The global computing power of the bitcoin network slid this week after Kazakhstan shut down the internet amid violent protests, highlighting the concentration of miners located in the Central Asian nation.

On Wednesday, Kazakhstan's entire internet was blacked out amid massive protests that began after the government removed a price cap on liquefied petroleum gas. They have since spiraled into a major challenge to the country's leadership, and even prompted the resignation of the president's cabinet. 

Hours after the internet went down, bitcoin's hash rate dropped 12%, Larry Cermak, VP of research at The Block, said in a tweet.

Hash rate is a key measure of how much computing power is required to support the network and to create bitcoin. It is also important to the bitcoin security protocol that prevents any double-spending of bitcoin. 

"The hash rate is not directly correlated to the price of Bitcoin, but it gives an indication of the network's security, so a fall can spook investors in the short term," Marcus Sotiriou, analyst at digital asset broker GlobalBlock, said in a note.

Kazakhstan became the world's second largest center for bitcoin mining last year after China, which used to be the main hub, clamped down on crypto mining, according to data from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.

The US is the global hash rate leader with a share of 35.4% by the end of August 2021, up from 16.8% at the end of April. Kazakhstan hit 18.1%, up from 8.2%. 

In recent months, Kazakhstan had been working towards regulating its rapidly growing crypto mining industry. The nation has since established a new registry to legitimize the space, as The Block first reported.

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5 ways to build a sustainability-focused work culture that aligns with employee values

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 20:03
Insider spoke with experts about five ways leaders can develop sustainable values across their organization.
  • A survey suggested young employees were choosing where to work based on personal ethics.  
  • Company leaders must create a purpose-driven culture focused on sustainability, experts say. 
  • Two experts outlined five ways to create a sustainable workplace.   

Sustainability continues to be a hot topic in the workplace in 2022, especially as employees put more pressure on their company leaders to create an environmentally conscious culture. 

In Deloitte's 2021 millennial and Gen Z survey, 49% of people between 18 and 25 and 44% of respondents between 26 and 38 said they'd picked their work and employers based on their personal ethics. The younger group identified climate change as their top concern, while the older cohort identified it as their third-highest concern, after healthcare and disease prevention and unemployment.

"Building a sustainably focused culture isn't just about how you manage your company's footprint," Mastercard Chief Sustainability Officer Kristina Kloberdanz told Insider. "It's equally important to also focus on how you innovate and ensure that employees are empowered and encouraged to think and build with a climate-conscious mindset."

Tools and techniques to build a green culture 

To build a company culture around sustainability, leaders must create a purpose-driven organization where employees can find meaning in their work.

Jeana Wirtenberg, an associate professor at Rutgers Business School, associate director of the Rutgers Institute for Corporate Social Innovation, and the CEO of Transitioning to Green, said a marker of business success is being able to converge company growth with service to the environment.

Insider spoke with Wirtenberg and Kloberdanz about five ways leaders can develop sustainable values across their organization.

1. Incentivize employees while making sustainability fun and accessible 

Creating practical environmentally conscious activities can provide more interactive fun for employees, Wirtenberg said, suggesting that companies lean into their young workforce and create competitions with rewards.

At Transitioning to Green, a global management-consulting firm that helps companies integrate sustainability into their organizations, Wirtenberg's team is rolling out simulations and games, including an ecological-footprint game in which people can calculate their carbon emissions. 

For Kloberdanz, this means merging an internal rewards program with sustainability: The program encourages employees to reward their colleagues with trees planted in their honor through Mastercard's Priceless Planet Coalition, which supports global forest restoration. 

Kloberdanz also said that at Mastercard, senior employees' compensation is linked to progress in the company's three global environmental, social, and governance priorities, one of which is carbon neutrality. 

2. Reimagine the employee relationship 

Wirtenberg said leaders should ensure that their human-resources teams are engaged in hiring and supporting a workforce focused on sustainability. 

This includes listening to employees' climate-related concerns, hiring people who express an interest in sustainability, training employees on best practices, and engaging the wider company on sustainable initiatives.

3. Promote activism 

Wirtenberg said millennial and Gen Z employees believe their companies have a responsibility to pay attention to and act on global issues. 

For example, Microsoft has said that in 2020, after hearing feedback and concerns from its employees, it established three sustainability-related goals for 2030: become water-positive, carbon-neutral, and waste-free.

4. Inspire company innovation 

Wirtenberg advised that companies pull from their top talent to develop green products and services, make supply chains greener, and conduct life-cycle analyses of new products.

In 2021, Kloberdanz said, Mastercard launched a Global Sustainability Lab to give employees a space to innovate on climate solutions and work with a network of outside partners to create sustainable enterprises. 

With the help of the data service provider Doconomy, the lab recently launched Mastercard's Carbon Calculator. Kloberdanz said the tool had gained the interest of banking partners and created more opportunities for Mastercard's sales teams.  

5. Create internal initiatives 

Wirtenberg suggested integrating sustainable actions into the everyday work culture — for example, matching employees' gifts to nonprofit organizations that they care about and offering volunteer opportunities during the workday. 

For example, through WeSpire's employee-engagement software, companies can add funds to their employees' accounts to donate to causes including environmental protection. It gives each person the ability to control where to direct the funds and allows them to add their own money to the donation.

WeSpire said in a blog post that employees of one company that used its program donated 62% of the company's funds in three months. 

Sustainability and the year ahead 

While sustainability became a top corporate priority in 2021, Wirtenberg expects more companies to announce measures to reduce their carbon footprints and consider the ways that climate justice plays a role in their diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. 

Wirtenberg also predicted that companies, faced with demand for ESG goals and initiatives, will be called on by employees to help them reskill, including by increasing training around sustainability and green development goals. 

"We need to be clear that sustainability isn't a passing trend but something every company and every individual is responsible for," Kloberdanz said.

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