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The latest news from Business Insider

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    Theresa May EU

    • Theresa May bruised in Brussels after EU leaders reject her plan to make legal changes to the Brexit deal.
    • "We don’t want the UK to think there can be any form of renegotiation, that is crystal clear," the EU's Jean-Claude Juncker said after European leaders met with May on Thursday evening.
    • The UK prime minister wanted the EU to make legally binding assurances on the duration of the backstop.
    • However, the EU refused. "You cannot put a fixed date in writing," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.
    • UK government sources claim the EU's private messages to May were more encouraging.
    • May insists that meaningful clarifications from the EU are "in fact still possible."

     

    LONDON — Theresa May's request for new concessions from Brussels were firmly rejected by EU leaders on Thursday evening, putting her on a collision course with MPs in Westminster.

    The prime minister asked EU leaders in Brussels to "hold nothing in reserve" and make legal changes to the Withdrawal Agreement, specifically on the backstop for the Irish border, which would make it more palatable for UK MPs.

    However, rather than win changes to the deal, May's requests led the EU to harden its position.

    "We don’t want the UK to think there can be any form of renegotiation, that is crystal clear," European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, said at the end of the first day of the European Council summit.

    "We can add clarifications, but no real changes. There will be no legally binding obligations imposed on the Withdrawal Treaty."

    He then publicly chastised May's approach to negotiations, after reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel interrupted the meeting of EU leaders to ask May to be clearer about what she wanted from them.

    "Our UK friends need to say what they want, instead of asking us to say what we want," Juncker said.

    "We would like within a few weeks our UK friends to set out their expectations for us, because this debate is sometimes nebulous and imprecise — and I would like clarifications."

    May wanted the EU to make legally binding reassurances that the backstop for avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland would be temporary by including a fixed target date of December 2021 for a new UK-EU free trade deal.

    This was designed to allay concerns of Brexiteers in Westminster that if activated, the backstop would keep the UK trapped in the EU's customs union indefinitely, stuck with EU rules and a limited ability to sign new trade deals.

    The Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's government, also hates the current terms of the backstop because it would create new border checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

    However, May's proposals were roundly rejected. "You cannot put a fixed date in writing," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters outside the Council building in Brussels last night. EU leaders also removed from their draft statement a pledge to "examine whether any further assurance can be provided" in a sign that they would not budge.

    Theresa May Brussels EU

    Unless EU leaders unexpectedly change their minds on Friday morning, May will return to Westminster without the changes she had promised to the pro-Brexit MPs who tried to get rid of her in a no confidence vote on Tuesday.

    The embattled prime minister told hostile Conservative MPs that she would secure "legally binding solutions" for the backstop as part of her pitch to them on why they shouldn't vote to ditch her as leader and prime minister.

    Speaking in a press conference on Friday afternoon, May dismissed reports that EU leaders were unwilling to give her reassurances on the backstop, insisted that "further clarifications" were "in fact still possible."

    One UK government source told Business Insider that the EU's private statements to May had been more positive.

    "She managed to get some quite strong wording on the temporary nature of the backstop," a Cabinet source told BI.

    However, looking ahead to when MPs hold a so-called meaningful vote on the Brexit deal, set to take place in January, they added: "I doubt very much it's enough to win the vote."

    EU leaders also refused to approve a special European Council summit in January to ratify a potentially revised Brexit deal after May failed to convince them that it'll  be able to get through UK Parliament next month.

    SEE ALSO: Exc: Theresa May's government drafted Brexit deal addendum weeks before meaningful vote debate began

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'


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    michelle obama barack obama

    • Friday marks the six-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.
    • In her new memoir, "Becoming," Michelle Obama details what the atmosphere was like at the White House after the elementary school shooting on December 14, 2012.
    • She wrote that her husband had her come back to the White House immediately after the shooting, because he needed her comfort.
    • Michelle said she couldn't bring herself to attend a prayer vigil for the victims because she was "so shaken" by what happened.

    Michelle Obama said there was only one time that her husband called her to his office in the middle of the workday because he needed her support, and that was after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012.

    In her new memoir, "Becoming," the former first lady said she was giving a speech across the street from the White House when news broke that a gunman had shot and killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, before taking his own life.

    When Michelle wrapped up her speech, her chief of staff came up to her and informed her about what had happened and said the president wanted her to return to the White House "right away."

    barack obama white house sandy hook

    "My husband needed me," Michelle wrote. "This would be the only time in eight years that he'd request my presence in the middle of the workday, the two of us rearranging our schedules to be alone together for a moment of dim comfort."

    She continued: "When I walked into the Oval Office, Barack and I embraced silently. There was nothing to say. No words."

    Read more: The names and pictures of the 27 victims, including 20 children, who were murdered that day

    As a "fact guy," she said her husband demanded to be fully briefed when it came to events like this. So, he was overwhelmed with details of "the graphic, horrid crime scene," of the "blood pooled on the floors of the classrooms and the bodies of" the victims.

    This especially disturbed her husband, who "loved children in a deep and genuine way."

    obama tears

    Read more: 25 things we learned from Michelle Obama's new memoir, 'Becoming'

    "Staying upright after Newtown was probably the hardest thing he'd ever had to do," she said.

    She said when their daughters got home from school that night, they met them in the residence to give them a hug.

    Later, she watched as her husband addressed the nation, unable to hold back his tears.

    Michelle wrote that she was "so shaken" by what happened that she couldn't bring herself to go with her husband to a prayer vigil for the victims.

    "I had no strength left to lend," she said.

    Friday marks the six-year anniversary of the massacre.

    SEE ALSO: A college counselor told Michelle Obama she wasn't 'Princeton material' — but she applied to the Ivy League school anyway and got in

    DON'T MISS: Michelle Obama reveals that Barack showed up late the first time he met her, and she was determined not to date him

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'


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    sandy hook victim

    • It is the sixth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.
    • Twenty children and six staff members died at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut that day.
    • The first graders who were killed would have been in seventh grade today.

    On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and shot 26 people, including 20 children, after also killing his mother in their home.

    News of the massacre reverberated across the country, and elicited a tearful reaction from then-President Barack Obama, who described it as the worst day of his presidency.

    Read more: Michelle Obama remembers what the Sandy Hook school shooting was like, the 'darkest day' in the White House

    Sen. Chris Murphy, who had previously been a representative for the district that included Newtown, was among those present when the families of the victims learned about the fates of their loved ones.

    "'I'm so, so sad today," he tweeted on the sixth anniversary. "Sad for the searing loss, that hurts like hell every Dec 14th for those parents, my friends. And sad that I sent my youngest off to 1st grade this morning, and that I work with people who care more about politics than making sure he comes home safe."

    In the six years that have passed since that day, many of the parents and families launched foundations in their kid's names to help other children, and become advocates for gun control.

    Here are all 27 people killed in the deadliest school shooting in US history.

    SEE ALSO: Michelle Obama shares what the 'darkest day' was like in the White House: the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting

    DON'T MISS: Photo captures the exact moment Obama learned of the Sandy Hook shooting

    Jessica Rekos, 6, told her mom, Krista Rekos, that morning before she got on the bus how excited she was to sell Girl Scout cookies that January. "She sat in the front seat, looked at me through the window, and smiled and waved as the bus pulled up the hill," Krista wrote. "That was the last time I saw Jessica alive."

    Source: Jessica Rekos Foundation



    Olivia Engel, 6, was an outgoing girl with "a great sense of humor." She also had a brother who was 3 years old at the time.

    Source: Wall Street Journal



    Avielle Richman, 6, "was rarely without a giant grin and often barefoot." Her family founded the Avielle Foundation "to fund research exploring the underpinnings of the brain that lead to violent behaviors."

    Source: Avielle Foundation



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    london metals exchange traders

    • Bloomberg's Commodity Index is down this year with some major commodities taking a hit in 2018.
    • Prospects for improvement in 2019 could be slim, unless Chinese growth picks up. 
    • A strong dollar combined with a slowdown in Chinese growth have ripped into commodity prices this year.

    Global commodity markets have had a tough time in 2018, and next year doesn't look much better. 

    A strong dollar combined with a slowdown in Chinese growth have ripped into commodity prices this year. Similarly, trade-war risks have been front and center and has been the biggest risk to oil this year, according to Peter Helles, commodities strategist at Bank of America. 

    The Bloomberg Commodity Index is down 6.55% this year. Brent crude is down 3.5% for the year but WTI has dropped more than 10% despite OPEC and Russia agreeing to cut production at a December summit. 

    Important base metals, such as copper, are also off a lot. Iron ore has lost around 6% year-to-date and copper is down 17.5%. Brent crude and copper are both trading down 0.9% Friday as of 12.55 p.m in London (7.55 a.m EST). 

    Many of the world's oil majors have also, unsurprisingly, struggled: ExxonMobil has seen the biggest drop, 8.8%, with Chevron close behind down 8.3%.

    Oil has had a choppy year across the board with "backwardation" where the spot price is higher than the future price hitting some of the biggest traders hard in 2018. Major trading house Trafigura posted its lowest annual profit in eight years.

    Those slumps have come as investors pulled just over $11 billion from commodity-focused funds over the last six months, according to fund tracker EPFR Global, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Similarly, the trade war, tightening Federal Reserve monetary policy and a worsening credit cycle could impact the market in 2019, according to Bank of America. 

    Fears about global growth are also weighing on commodity markets. (Trade figures are usually a good barometer of the need for raw materials.) Analysts at BNP Paribas expect global growth to drop to 3.4% in 2019, from an estimated 3.7% this year.

    There have been exceptions: Shares of ConocoPhillips has exceeded its peers, rising 17.4% so far in 2018. ConocoPhillips was the first oil major to announce its 2019 capex plans after OPEC's summit December 6 and plans on spending $6.1 billion next year, flat on 2018's figures.

    Mining could be another exception, the sector might bounce back in 2019 with miners returning some of their strength this year. JPMorgan is bullish on miners with the sector generally back to much stronger cash flow generation and with better balance sheets than previously. 

    “All in all, we believe that China may not be such a key source of downside risk for the markets next year. As a result, we closed the short on EM exposure in our outlook two weeks ago and tactically added to Mining as well, as a hedge against a potentially more resilient than expected Chinese economy," said Emmanuel Cau, Head of European Equity Strategy at Barclays, said at a briefing on Friday.

    In particular, rare metals producers working in the nickel, cobalt and lithium space are set to benefit from increased demand for materials for use in smartphones and electric vehicles.

    SEE ALSO: Many of the companies behind America's incredible energy surge are starting to show signs of stress

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The legendary economist who predicted the housing crisis says the US will win the trade war


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    Truck Driver 1

    • The truck-driver shortage in America has dominated headlines in the logistics space this year.
    • While trucking companies are offering five-digit bonuses and record-high pay raises, the problem has not dissipated.
    • Roadmaster Group CEO John Wilbur said the real reason behind the shortage is not how much drivers are paid but how they are paid. 
    • Truck drivers are generally paid by how many miles they drive, which means they must carry the burden of many external factors such as weather and traffic, Wilbur said.

    It's no secret that America has a massive shortage of truck drivers. 

    More than 50,000 more truckers are needed to support the shipping demand from US companies, like retail giants such as Amazon and Walmart, and that deficit could grow to 175,000 by 2026, according to the American Trucking Associations

    While trucking companies are offering five-digit bonuses and record-high pay raises, many are still complaining their wage hike hasn't helped attract new drivers. 

    "It's not so much how much the drivers are paid, but how they are paid," John Wilbur, CEO of Roadmaster Group, an Arizona-based specialized transportation company, told Business Insider.

    According to Wilbur, truck drivers are generally paid by how many miles they drive, which means they must carry the burden of many external factors such as weather and traffic. This pay model adds many volatilities to drivers' compensation.

    "That is the single biggest systemic flaw in the industry," Wilbur added. "It creates issues in this industry about finding and keeping drivers in the system."

    Generally, being a truck driver is a difficult job, with drivers away from home for weeks at a time while living in a truck on the road. Wilbur says drivers usually hop from one company to another because they feel they are neither respected nor compensated appropriately.

    According to data from the American Trucking Associations, the annualized turnover rate, which measures how often a driver leaves a large truckload carrier, or fleet with more than $30 million in annual revenue, was 96% in the first half of the year, putting 2018 on pace to have the highest annual rate since 2013.

    To attract more drivers, Wilbur's Roadmaster Group has been using a salary-like pay structure since 2012, guaranteeing the minimum wage a driver will make in a day or a week. 

    But the mile-based pay model is not the only hindrance that pulls drivers out of the trucking industry. Since December 2017, the trucking industry has implemented an electronic-logging-device mandate that requires drivers to use a self-certified electronic logging system (in the past they used paper logs) and limits them to 11 hours of driving in a 14-hour window.

    Many truck drivers told Business Insider they hate the ELD mandate because their salaries are taking a hit, their independence is being curtailed, and they can't find places to park and sleep.

     

    Are you a truck driver with a story about the industry? Email the author at ejiang@businessinsider.com

    Now read:

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The true story behind the name 'Black Friday' is much darker than you may have thought


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    salad and soup

    • Having a good can of soup on standby is a good idea for those tired meals after work.
    • You can mix up your favorite chicken noodle soup by adding an egg.
    • Freshly grated parmesan and hot sauce can also amp up a can of soup.

    Having a good can of soup on standby is never a bad idea. Whether you're a soup chef or only proficient in the culinary art of microwaving, sometimes you just need an easy and comforting meal from a can.

    Chefs across the US told INSIDER what their favorite cans of soup are, and how you can mix things up with a few easy kitchen tweaks.

    The Campbell's classics are classic for a reason.

    "Two stand out Campbell's tomato soup, of course, is a classic. I like to add heavy cream and some fresh spices to make it a well-rounded bisque ... and who doesn't love the original Campbell's chicken noodle soup? That I just heat up with saltines." Chef Joshua Dalton of Veritas in Columbus, Ohio.



    Campbell's chicken noodle soup gets better with eggs.

    "You can make a great egg drop wonton soup from the noodles themselves actually act as the wontons. First, bring the soup up to a boil over medium-high heat, and while waiting ... whisk an egg in a bowl. Once the soup is boiling, turn the heat down to low and wait until the soup to stop. Use a large wooden spoon to stir the pot and make the broth swirl in one direction. While the soup is swirling, slowly pour the whisked egg into the soup in a thin stream. Let the eggs sit in the hot liquid, undisturbed, for one to two minutes to fully set. I like to finish with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced scallions.

    "You can also add sliced mushrooms when you bring the soup to a boil. I personally like shiitakes with this particular recipe." Daniel England, corporate chef of OMG Hospitality Group, San Diego.



    Progresso traditional Italian-style wedding soup gets amped up with sausage.

    "With sausage ... I always add Sriracha and fresh grated parmesan to brighten it up." Nico Romo, executive chef of NICO, Charleston, South Carolina.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    dollar general

    • Dollar stores are popping up all across America, in many cases putting major retailers out of business. 
    • A recent report argues that these stores are also preventing rural and low-income communities from getting ahead.
    • While some food-starved communities see dollar stores as a saving grace, others worry they are pushing neighborhoods into decline. 

    As a child, Jennifer Valdez would frequent the general store in Jemez Springs, a small village to the north of Albuquerque. 

    "It was expensive, and stock was limited, but you could get some basics," she said. 

    By the time Valdez was an adult, most of the general stores in New Mexico's rural communities were either torn down or converted into cafés. Residents who wanted groceries or supplies would have to make a two-hour trip to the nearest town. 

    Then something happened: Two dollars stores appeared roughly ten miles away, cutting residents' travel times for necessities in half.

    Read more:Dollar stores are feeding more Americans than Whole Foods, and it's leading some communities into crisis

    While access to the stores requires a reliable source of transportation, Valdez said it's a lot easier to get a ride to the dollar store than a ride into town.

    The arrival of the stores was likely part of a coordinated strategy. A new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's (ILSR) finds that dollar stores tend to target rural and low-income neighborhoods, many of which are considered "food deserts," meaning they lack access to fresh, affordable food. 

    "Essentially what the dollar stores are betting on in a large way is that we are going to have a permanent underclass in America," Garrick Brown, the director for retail research at the real-estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, told Bloomberg in 2017.

    Dollar stores fill a need in food deserts

    Valdez's own neighborhood paints a more complicated portrait of the communities served by dollar stores. The surrounding area is home to trailer parks and historic family farms, but also new construction, apartments, and commercial businesses. Its residents include millionaires, artists, blue-collar workers, multi-generational Hispanic households, and homeless citizens.  

    "The effects of poverty, alcoholism, and substance abuse are visible in pockets," Valdez said. 

    dollar general store

    One thing residents have in common is their limited access to public transportation. Valdez said the bus line doesn’t run on the main street nearest her home, and service on the line a few blocks away is limited.

    While the closest grocery store is at least five miles away, the nearest dollar store is within about half a mile. Valdez said she often sees families returning from the store with bags teeming with items. 

    "I am fortunate to have reliable transportation, and to live above the poverty line, but many in the area do not," she said. "We are basically in a food desert but for the dollar store."

    Dollar stores may also be contributing to the decline of local businesses

    While dollar stores may feel like a saving grace to rural residents, they can also be a burden to some communities.

    The ILSR report cites evidence that dollar stores are preventing disadvantaged communities from getting ahead — and, in some cases, even contributing to the decline of local businesses.

    When a dollar store moves into a neighborhood, they tend to undercut mom-and-pop grocery stores, decreasing their sales by about 30%, according to the report. This often ignites a trend of closures among independent businesses as well.

    When Dallas resident Eric Mata traveled to Mesquite, Texas, to canvas for a city council race, one of the biggest complaints he heard was that dollar stores were overflowing in town. 

    Jennifer Valdez dollar store 2.JPG

    Mata said he spoke with a diverse group of voters in Mesquite, who said it seemed like there was a dollar store on every corner. Mata estimated there were just shy of twenty.

    "The majority of the feedback I would get was that there were too many dollar stores," he said. 

    In upper-middle class neighborhoods, residents argued that these stores introduced a "bad element" to the city.

    Some people prefer dollar stores to Walmart

    Some people in Valdez's community feel differently. In New Mexico, Valdez said, dollar stores often serve as a convenience for tourists and a meeting place for neighbors.

    She said most of the people in her senior mobile home park are on fixed incomes, and appreciate the ability to acquire cheap, basic supplies.

    "My neighbors love having the store nearby," she said. 

    Another major benefit is not having to "deal with the crowds" at Walmart. 

    As dollar stores grow increasingly popular, they've become an alternative to America's biggest retailers, including Walmart, Costco, Walgreens, and CVS.

    In the US, dollar stores are now feeding more people than Whole Foods. Their numbers have surpassed the combined total of Walmart and McDonald's locations.

    In 2016, the chain store Dollar General purchased 41 Walmart Express stores that were forced to shut down, despite operating on a similar model.

    Dollar General

    Though Dollar General isn't a dollar store in the traditional sense (it sells items that cost more than $1), it's often the only place to buy cheap groceries in isolated communities.

    These groceries are rarely nutritious.

    "Anybody who's been to a dollar store realizes that the stuff that they sell is all junk food," said Mata. 

    Dollar General has made an effort to sell more healthy items like nuts, dried fruit, coconut water, and multigrain chips, but these foods are commonly missing from their shelves. 

    Other dollar stores have even fewer nutritious options. The healthy foods section on Dollar Tree's website consists mostly of foods for dogs and cats, along with a few items like beans and noodles. The same goes for Family Dollar, which encourages its customers to "give your family delicious, healthy, nutritious meals for less," while advertising gummy bears, cookies, toaster pastries, and sugary cereal.

    When it comes to the physical stores, some are better than others. 

    "Here in California our [dollar] stores include fresh fruits and vegetables, some organic," one resident tweeted. "It's my first stop before heading to the grocery store."

    A heated debate has now emerged on Twitter 

    In the wake of the ILSR report, the debate over whether dollar stores are helping communities quickly moved to Twitter.

    "I refuse to even go in them and have to drive several miles to just buy milk,"one user wrote. "Dollar stores prey on the poor."

    "As someone on a fixed income, I see them as saving the poor,"said another. "I can stock up on staples [that are] a whole lot cheaper than at regular grocery stores."

    dollar tree 3239

    From a cost perspective, dollar stores appear to provide options where none otherwise exist. But the ILSR report finds that dollar-store items can be deceivingly priced. By packaging their products in smaller amounts than competitors, the stores often appear to be cheaper, when really they're just selling less.

    "It's nice that everything is a buck but lots of deception going on," said one Twitter user.

    "I do compare prices and only buy stuff that is cheaper," another responded. "Most stuff is."

    For many people, sifting through a dollar store's messy aisles or waiting in front of an abandoned register is a small price to pay for a lower grocery bill. For others, it's a reason to find someplace else to shop. 

    "They are gross," one woman wrote on Twitter. "Nothing is ever stocked properly, stuff laying in isles; grime on floors; nothing fresh...one employee in the whole store. I only go there when I need something quick because it's much closer than Kroger."

    Her comment seems to sum up the problem: In communities where a dollar store is the closest — and, in some cases, the only — retailer, people can overlook even the most egregious flaws. There's nowhere else to go.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: NASA sent an $850 million hammer to Mars and it could uncover clues to an outstanding mystery in our solar system


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    woman talking work boss coworkers

    • Melody Wilding is an executive coach who has worked with high-performing managers and leaders at places like Google, Facebook, and HP.
    • She's found that many of her clients tend to over-apologize at work, and it undermines their competence and authority.
    • Sometimes, there's a better word than "sorry," she writes — like when you're late to reply to an email, or you're in someone's way.

    "Sorry, could you just look at this?"

    "Sorry to bother you but..."

    “I’m sorry, let me move that.”

    Apologies, when warranted, are a sign of empathy in the workplace. But over-apologizing— or excessively saying sorry when you don’t need to — is bad habit that can undermine your authority, and more importantly, hurt your self-esteem.

    Recently, there’s been a great deal of talk and controversy about women apologizing too often in the workplace. Research shows that women do tend to say sorry more than men, which is partially the result of socialization. While young girls are raised to be polite, deferential, and studious, young boys are encouraged to be bold and more confident. As adults, women perceive themselves as making more mistakes than men, and therefore, having more to be sorry for.

    Many of the women I work with as an executive coach dislike their tendency to be over-apologetic. While they rightfully bristle at the thought of their language being policed, these women nevertheless realize that their habit of saying sorry too much stems from a lack of confidence. They recognize that excessive apologizing may reflect internal doubts they hold about their own capabilities.

    A bonus just for you: Click here to claim 30 days of access to Business Insider PRIME

    Oftentimes, they tell me that they can’t help but over-apologize. The habit has become so ingrained over the years that the words seem to come out automatically, mostly because they don’t know what else to say. These words act more like filler than anything else.

    If this sounds like you and you find yourself falling into the habit of over-apologizing, here are four things that are better to say than “I’m sorry”:

    1. When someone bumps into you, or they're in your way

    When someone bumps into you, saying “excuse me” or “pardon me” is more appropriate than saying sorry. Don’t apologize for taking up space.

    2. When you have a question

    Practice speaking up in meetings without apologizing first. Women especially often preface their ideas with qualifiers.  You’re not interrupting or being annoying if you have a question, so don’t assume you are.

    3. When you're late for a meeting, or to reply to an email

    "Thank you."

    These two words are often more powerful than an apology. Try replacing feelings of shame with gratitude. Saying “Thank you, let’s begin.” is a stronger way to acknowledge that your colleagues waited for you, for example. Emailing someone back to thank them for their helpful reminder or patience also feels much better than profusely apologizing for not getting back to them sooner.

    4. When someone makes an unreasonable request for your time

    Instead, say, "No, I'm not able to do that." If people make unreasonable requests for your time, it’s wise to learn how to push back. Clearly stating your limits and being clear about expectations doesn’t make you difficult; it’s a sign of leadership. You may be worried about saying “no” because you fear people will dislike you or get upset. Typically, the opposite is true. People will respect your self awareness and honesty. If you find yourself feeling bad about not being able to do it all, it may be time to adjust the exacting expectations you hold yourself to.

    Remember, saying you’re sorry isn’t necessarily a sign of weakness. In fact, a well-placed apology can be very powerful. What’s important is to address the deeper reasons you may be relying on apologies as a verbal crutch. With effort, you can find clearer ways to express what you truly mean and feel more confident in your communication as a result.

    Melody Wilding is an executive coach, licensed social worker, and professor of Human Behavior at Hunter College. Her clients include high-performing managers and leaders at places like Google, Facebook, and HP. Sign up for your free guide, The 3-Step Workday Reset at melodywilding.com

    SEE ALSO: After coaching managers and execs from companies like Google, Facebook, and HP, I've seen that the most successful people use 3 psychological strategies on a daily basis

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The world's largest cruise ship just landed in Miami — here's what it's like on board


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    GM self-driving bolt

    Tech companies and auto companies are all racing to be the first to roll out self-driving cars onto the road.

    The stakes are high for everyone involved. The self-driving revolution and the prevalence of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft threatens to reduce individual car ownership, which would eat into a sizable piece of automakers' core business.

    Meanwhile, tech companies are jockeying for a piece of the self-driving-car market, which Apple CEO Tim Cook dubbed"the mother of all AI projects." These companies are all looking to deploy self-driving cars as part of a commercial ride-hailing service that would operate similarly to how Uber and Lyft do now.

    In a new free report, Business Insider Intelligence — Business Insider's premium research service — takes an in-depth look at the most expansive self-driving-car tests taking place in the US, and offers insights on the leaders in the self-driving-car race.

    To get your copy of this free report, click here.

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    XPO Logistics

    • XPO Logisitcs was surging Friday morning after announcing a $1 billion stock-buyback program. 
    • The announcement comes one day after the short seller Spruce Point Capital Management alleged "financial irregularities."
    • Watch XPO Logisitcs trade live.

    XPO Logisitics was surging Friday morning, up more than 7% to $47.93 a share, after announcing a $1 billion stock-buyback program. Shares tumbled more than 26% Thursday, to their lowest level since April 2016, after the short seller Spruce Point Capital Management alleged the company had "financial irregularities" that were masking its growth problem.  

    XPO responded to the report on Thursday, saying the allegations were "intentionally misleading, with significant inaccuracies" and that they were "largely baseless and an attempt to string together unrelated pieces of incorrect information to paint an inaccurate impression of the company."

    Spruce Capital's acusation came one day after the logistics company slashed its 2019 outlook, saying it sees EBITDA up 12%-15% next year. Earlier this month, CEO Brad Jacobs said he saw a 15% to 18% increase. 

    XPO was down 51% this year through Thursday. 

    XPO Logisitics

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The world's largest cruise ship just landed in Miami — here's what it's like on board


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    barack obama white house sandy hook

    • Former White House photographer Pete Souza captured the moment in 2012 when President Barack Obama learned of the Sandy Hook shooting.
    • In 2017, Souza described the powerful moment to Business Insider, reflecting on the way Obama's energy appears to just "zap" out of his body.
    • Friday, December 14, marks six years since the deadly shooting.

    Former President Barack Obama has said the worst day of his presidency was December 14, 2012, the day a gunman killed 20 first graders and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

    Pete Souza, the former chief official White House photographer, captured that powerful moment in the Oval Office when the president received the news from Homeland Security adviser John Brennan. The photo shows Obama leaning against a sofa, his shoulders hunched, arms crossed, and eyes closed as he listens.

    "In the picture, you see just kind of the energy just zap out of the president. I think he was thinking of this not only as a president, but imagining what it must be like as a parent," Souza told Business Insider in 2017, shortly before the five-year anniversary of the shooting.

    "The horror of sending your six-year-old kid off to school, you put in on the school bus, and you never see them again because some crazy guy shot them to death, point-blank, at their school."

    Read more: Here are the names and pictures of the 27 victims, including 20 children, who were murdered that day

    barack obama sandy hook shooting

    Read more: Michelle Obama shares what the 'darkest day' was like in the White House: the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting

    Shortly after the photo was taken, Obama spoke to reporters in the White House press briefing room in an emotional statement that Souza said was "probably when he cried for the first time."

    "This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we'll tell them that we love them, and we'll remind each other how deeply we love one another," Obama said.

    "But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight. And they need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans. And I will do everything in my power as President to help."

    On the fifth anniversary of the shooting, former White House press secretary Jay Carney also shared his memory of that day on Twitter, calling it his worst day at the White House.

    "I saw my normally stoic boss break down," Carney said. "I lost my composure at the briefing. As a parent, I could not comprehend the horror of #SandyHook. I think of those innocent children, and their brave teachers, all the time."

    SEE ALSO: The White House photographer has taken more than 2 million photos during Obama's presidency — here are the best

    DON'T MISS: White House photographer Pete Souza tells the story behind one of Obama's most iconic photographs visiting injured veterans

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Former White House photographer describes what is was like to capture Obama on the worst day of his presidency


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    cord clips

    In New York City, a crisp Alexander Hamilton isn't even enough to get you lunch at one of the many trendy salad chains on every block. However, it is enough to buy any of these useful kitchen, bath, skincare, and tech products that Insider Picks editors and writers use all the time. 

    While we've discovered and raved about many products this year, there are few more satisfying to recommend than the very affordable ones. Quality and utility don't have to be expensive, and our favorite $10-and-under products prove it. 

    For $10 or less, you can be efficient in the kitchen, keep your bathroom clean and hygienic, stay organized on the go, and more. 

    Your wallet will love these 20 products as much as ours did:

    Hydrating face toner from a cult-favorite brand

    Thayers Witch Hazel Cucumber Face Toner, $8.79, available at Amazon

    Thayers makes popular toners that won't dry out or irritate your face. They're alcohol-free and contain witch hazel extract to remove excess oil, reduce redness, and minimize the appearance of pores. I love the cucumber formulation because it smells great and hydrates my naturally dry skin. —Connie Chen, Insider Picks reporter



    A bottle cleaner that can fit through narrow openings

    ALINK 16” Long Bottle Brush Cleaner, $7.99, available at Amazon

    If you’ve ever wasted hot water or your time trying to fit your hand into a thermos like a ship into a bottle, then you will appreciate these cheap, long bottle brush cleaners. It’s a small daily inconvenience, but I’ve been surprised by how much I appreciate the ease, especially if I add post-workout to my water bottle after the gym and don’t want to run the dishwasher every time. Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter



    A pair of blue light blocking computer glasses

    ZENNI UV+ Blue Blockers, $9.95, available at ZENNI

    I’ve never worked — let alone been — in an office before, and about a week in, I began to notice a strain within and behind my eyes that was not only unfamiliar but downright unbearable. I don’t wear prescription glasses or contacts, but a less-than-$10 pair of blue light blocking lenses straightened me out in short order, and I don’t think I’ll ever look at another computer with less than four eyes again. Owen Burke, Insider Picks guides reporter



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    woman smile happy

    • We heard lots of great advice in 2018. The best tips are listed below.
    • Topics included relationships, careers, and productivity.
    • For example, we learned about eliminating temptation to curb bad habits and spending more time with friends and family to feel less busy.

    Good life advice can be hard to come by.

    But in the past 12 months, we've heard lots of it. Experts on relationships, careers, and productivity have bequeathed upon us their wisdom and experience.

    As the year winds down, we're highlighting some of the very best tips we received. Read on for the best life advice of 2018.

    SEE ALSO: The best life advice of 2017

    Eliminate temptation to curb bad habits

    In his book "Atomic Habits," James Clear debunks the idea that the most disciplined people have the strongest willpower.

    Instead, he writes: "'Disciplined' people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations." For example, if you want to stop mindlessly snacking during the workday, you might take a different route to the office bathroom.

    Some research backs up Clear's point, too. So stop feeling bad about yourself, and start tricking yourself into better habits.



    Spend more time with friends and family to feel less busy

    "People expand time," writes Laura Vanderkam in her book "Off the Clock."

    Vanderkam is a time-management expert and she came to this realization after reviewing her research on more than 900 people who kept time logs and answered questions about how they felt about their schedules. People who had made time the day before for the important people in their lives were more likely to say they generally had time for the things they wanted to do.

    Vanderkam thinks the social activity leads directly to the feeling of freedom: A night spent browsing social media probably won't be especially memorable or joyful, but a night spent visiting a friend probably will be.

    It's all about intentionality: Vanderkam urges readers to set "relationship priorities," like calling one friend to catch up when you get home from work.



    Don't try to make your spouse happy

    The worst possible piece of relationship advice out there, according to Hal Runkel, is the idea that "you're supposed to meet each other's needs and make each other happy." It's "BS," Runkel said.

    Runkel is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and he said each person in a couple should, ideally, be happy and healthy on their own.

    "I am a whole person," Runkel said. His wife "is not powerful enough to complete me. I'm not powerful enough to complete her. She's a complete person. That's why I want her. Not because she's half; she's whole."



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    Donald trump mcconnell schumer pelosi

    • President Donald Trump is demanding Democrats agree to include $5 billion in funding for a wall along the US-Mexico border.
    • Otherwise, he said, he would be "proud" to shut down the government.
    • But at the same time, Trump continues to insist that Mexico will pay for the border wall.
    • Trump says money coming in from the new US-Canada-Mexico Agreement, or USMCA, means that Mexico will effectively be paying for the wall.
    • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pointed out the logical flaws in this argument during a speech Thursday.

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday lambasted President Donald Trump's demands in the current government shutdown fight, arguing they don't logically make sense.

    Trump has said that the US must allocate substantial amounts of money for the wall along the US-Mexico border. But as Schumer pointed out, that comes into direct conflict with the president's insistence that Mexico will pay for the wall.

    The latest iteration of Trump's argument is that money coming in from the new USMCA trade deal — the revised North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA — will fund the wall.

    Trump made the claim during a meeting with Schumer and House Speaker-Designate Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday and reiterated it in a tweet Thursday.

    "I often stated, 'One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the Wall,'" Trump tweeted. "This has never changed. Our new deal with Mexico (and Canada), the USMCA, is so much better than the old, very costly & anti-USA NAFTA deal, that just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!"

    But Schumer asked a simple question during a floor speech on Thursday: If Mexico, as Trump insists, is paying for the wall, why do we have to spend $5 billion on it right now?

    "Well, Mr. President, if you say Mexico is going to pay for the wall through NAFTA, which it certainly won't, I guess we don't have to," he said. "Let's fund the government."

    Trump seems to be arguing that the USMCA will boost US GDP, thus increasing the amount American businesses and families earn. That increased income for Americans would then boost tax revenues, since higher incomes means more money for taxes.

    But even in that scenario, the funds are still coming from tax revenues — which are paid by Americans, not Mexico.

    "If the president really believes what he tweeted this morning that his new NAFTA would pay for the wall, he wouldn't be threatening to shut down the government unless American taxpayers pay for the wall," Schumer said. "He can't have it both ways."

    The only way to have Mexico directly pay for the wall through the USMCA, without taking money collected from American taxpayers, would be to include a clause in the trade deal. No such clause exists.

    The USMCA is identical to NAFTA in many major ways, and economists don't expect a large boost to US GDP from the deal.

    SEE ALSO: Trump inexplicably told Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi that Mexico would pay for the border wall as part of the landmark new trade deal

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'


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    Youtube rewind 2018

    • 'YouTube Rewind 2018: Everyone Controls the Rewind' is the fastest and most-disliked video in the site's history.
    • The annual video put out by YouTube was released six days ago and, as of Thursday, already has over 10 million dislikes —kicking former first-place holder, Justin Bieber's 'Baby' music video, to second place.
    • In an effort to understand what makes audiences band together to dislike a video, we took a look at the 7 most-hated YouTube videos.

    In the week since the video was released, 'YouTube Rewind 2018: Everyone Controls the Rewind' has over 122 million views and 10 million dislikes, making it the fastest and most-disliked video in the site's history.

    Justin Bieber's 'Baby' featuring Ludacris, the former first-place title for most-disliked video, at 9.8 million dislikes, was kicked to second.

    'YouTube Rewind' features hundreds of its biggest stars and celebrities, though people are criticizing the video, and YouTube itself, for not including some creators who experienced strings of controversy. Vlogging duo and brothers Logan and Jake Paul were excluded, as was Felix "Pewdiepie" Kjellberg, a gaming commentator and comedian. The video appears to be an attempt for the company to keep advertisers on its side following a rather rocky 2018. However, this year's attempt, as previously reported by Business Insider, shows "a clear schism between the expectations and reality of YouTube."

    Logan Paul, one of YouTube's more popular and notable stars, was left out of the video, probably because of his controversial year that began when he posted footage of a dead body he discovered inside Japan's 'Suicide Forest'. Paul's 'So Sorry' video, a one-minute-long apology about the viral video, is YouTube's 11th most-disliked video, at 2.2 million dislikes. 

    So what makes a video so hated to begin with? What makes YouTube viewers join forces and collectively bash something someone (probably) put loads of work into?

    Let's take a look at the most-downvoted YouTube videos of all time, shall we?

    7. Rebecca Black - Friday

    With 127 million views and 3.7 million dislikes, Rebecca Black's 'Friday' comes in at #7. But let's cut Black a break: 2011 was a weird time. For example, Nick Jonas was wearing a purity ring and Kim Kardashian was still seen out in public wearing leopard print. If anything, Black's song was an anthem of the times, one everyone still knows all the words to (let's be honest). She has even come into her own as a singer and songwriter, despite the viciousness she faced from this video's release. 

    Fun, fun, fun!



    6. Luis Fonsi - Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee

    If you were alive in the summer of 2017 (or alive now), you may be able to understand why this video has 3.6 million dislikes (and 5.7 billion views). It played on nearly every speaker — from clubs to cabs and restaurants to bridal showers... over and over and over again. It's one of those songs that by the mere mention begins to play in your head. Can you hear it now?



    5. PewDiePie - Can this video get 1 million dislikes?

    This was YouTuber PewDiePie's attempt to encourage followers to dislike his own video. And it worked. The video has 15 million views and trails behind the Call of Duty trailer with 3.76 million dislikes. The video starts with PewDiePie on the phone (for well over a minute), continues with him drinking a bottle of vodka and then proceeding to ride an orange octopus through a neighborhood. Perhaps it may just be one those "in the know" things dedicated fans and followers understand. 



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    71b62bABNZL._SL1000_

    Whether it's your stress-reducing practice of choice or the first thing you're likely to procrastinate on, organization is necessary if you want to make use of your space — no matter how spacious or cramped your living quarters are.

    Even if it's not about saving space, having a reliable organizational system allows you a practical, working knowledge of where all the things you need and like are so they can be found when you want them at home.

    I am by no means the most naturally organized person I know, which my friends and family would be happy to tell anyone, so I spend a lot of time thinking about ways to cut corners on organization and still reap the benefits of an orderly life.

    Products like the ones below are a few that really help — I don't have to depend on my own vigorous cleaning pattern, I can just rely on these guys doing their jobs and keeping my counter, shower, and bedroom space optimized and decluttered, so I can actually enjoy myself when I'm home and find the things I need, when I need them.

    Below are 13 products that will help you be and stay organized, without the energy of perpetual attention.

    SEE ALSO: The 10 best purchases I've made to save space in my small apartment

    An outlet shelf that will mount speakers and minimize cord visibility.

    If you're sick of taping cords or having things look less streamlined than possible, grab one of these for a cheap and easy fix. It's perfect for Alexa-enabled devices, but it'll work for anything under 10 lbs. 

    ECHOGEAR Outlet Shelf, $14.99



    A mounted desk with tons of storage.

    Your desk is one spot that seems to accumulate debris on its own will. Do yourself a huge favor and grab this floating desk at a discount — you'll have access to the space below it still and tons of leveraged storage space for knickknacks or work papers.

    Prepac Wall Mounted Floating Desk with Storage, from $118.974



    A hanging pot rack for your most-used pots and pans.

    Make some room in your kitchen cabinets by actually taking advantage of all the dead space above you. Just by transferring your most-used pots and pans to a hanging rack you'll save yourself a lot of wiggle room. Plus, it looks really nice. 

    Cuisinart Chef's Classic 36" Rectangular Wall-Mount Bookshelf Rack, $119.99



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    • The ability to conduct banking activities via a sleek mobile app is no longer enough to satisfy consumers — it's table stakes.
    • Banks need to focus on deploying robust personal finance management (PFM) features that pull consumers in.
    • There are three common approaches banks can take to effectively implement these tools.

    It’s no longer enough for banks to offer customers a sleek mobile banking app; in fact, they expect it.

    US Demand for All Mobile Banking Features

    And with emerging fintechs continuously creeping in on incumbents’ marketshare, legacy banks must work to provide additional tools that will keep users engaged in-app — and prevent their eyes from wandering to startup solutions.

    The best opportunity banks have to do this is by introducing personal finance management (PFM) features to their existing offerings. These features empower customers to take more control over their financial lives by tracking spending, managing investments, and maintaining greater visibility into their overall financial health.

    Fintech startups have already refined many of these technologies and, in turn, pressured traditional banks to achieve feature parity or lose customers. Personal Finance Management, a new research report Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has outlined the best ways for banks to catch up to the competition.

    Here are three approaches banks can take to implementing PFM tools:

    • Partnering with a PFM-focused fintech: This can save the partnering banks critical time by bypassing building features themselves — enabling a quicker go-to-market strategy. However, banks must be prepared to forego the ability to implement more customized  services.
    • Working with a PFM technology supplier: B2B suppliers like Meniga and Personetics, on the other hand, can help banks overhaul their existing mobile apps with specially designed features. They provide the enabling infrastructure banks need to successfully offer PFM features to their customers.
    • Acquiring a PFM startup: Although often more expensive, this option grants banks the ability to acquire valuable talent, as well as complete control over their integrations.

    Want to learn more?

    This is just a preview of Personal Finance Management, a new report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. The full report breaks down the different approaches banks can take to offer their customers better PFM features as competition from fintechs increases.

    In full, the report provides insights into the benefits and challenges of each approach, how the industry may change in the future, and which PFM features will soon become table stakes for consumers.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    best sheets

    Few would deny that at the end of a long, hard day, sliding into a comfortable bed outfitted with soft, smooth sheets that pamper your skin is one of life’s greatest pleasures. After all, you spend nearly a third of your life between those sheets, so why wouldn’t you want the best? So we’ve made it easy for you: We checked out all the top consumer buying websites, listened to opinions from bed sheet buyers, and tried sheets ourselves to compile our list of the five best bed sheet sets you can buy.

    Thread count: higher isn’t always better

    When it’s time to buy sheets, many people simply assume that the higher the thread count, the better, and make their choice based on this feature alone. While it’s true that thread count (a measurement of how many threads run vertically and horizontally in one square inch of fabric) is important, it turns out that there’s another factor that plays a bigger part in sheet comfort: type of fabric.

    In fact, according to Consumer Reports, there’s no reason to pay extra for sheets with a thread count over 400, but it is worth your while to spend a little more on sheets made from the best cottons: Pima, Egyptian, or Supima. These long-fiber cottons weave into the softest, most comfortable sheets.

    What about weave?

    Weave is also important when it comes to choosing sheets you’ll love. There are two basic weaves: percale and sateen.

    • Percale sheets have the same number of combed, tightly woven threads running horizontally and vertically. If you prefer sheets with a slightly crisp, cool feel, this is the weave to choose. Percale sheets are durable and strong, standing up to repeated washing even in hot water. Look for a thread count between 200 and 400 for lightweight sheets, 400 to 600 if you prefer more weight.
    • Sateen sheets (not the same as satin, which is a fabric, not a weave) have more threads running vertically than horizontally, creating fabric with a slight sheen and a very soft, silky feel. Sateen sheets are generally more delicate than percale bedding, and more likely to pill or come apart in the wash. Still, if you crave the silkiest feel against your skin, this is the weave for you. Thread counts between 300 and 600 are the sweet spot for softness and strength.

    Here are our top picks for the best sheets:

    Updated on 12/14/2018 by Kylie Joyner: Added Brooklyn Bedding sheets based on testing. Also updated prices and formatting.

    Read on in the slides below to learn all about our favorite sheets.

    The best sheets overall

    Why you'll love them: L.L. Bean’s wonderfully smooth 280-thread-count Pima Cotton Percale Sheets are durable, comfortable, and just the right weight to give you sweet dreams all year round.

    Woven from 100% Pima cotton for the smoothest, softest, make-you-want-to-wiggle feel, L.L. Bean struck gold with its highly rated percale sheet set. As with all percale sheets, these have just a bit of a “crisp” finish, which feels nice and cool against your skin. They are the perfect weight for summer, and unless you live in a very cold climate or prefer to switch to heavier winter sheets, they are cozy enough for the colder months with the addition of a heavier blanket or comforter.

    When you toss them in your washing machine and dryer, the sheets come out fresh, unwrinkled, and ready to coax you into the land of Nod. Sized to fit over mattresses up to 15 inches thick, these cotton sheets won’t slip or slide as you sleep, and they hold firm to the mattress. They are available in seven basic colors, although alas, no brights. There are a few prints, as well.

    L.L. Bean customers praise these sheets for their refusal to pill, long life, and wrinkle resistance. Quite a few customers commented that they have purchased several sets of the L.L Bean sheets, and a common remark was, “These are the only sheets I’ll buy.”

    Professional reviewers agree. We chose these sheets as our top pick in our guide to the best cotton sheetsIn our testing, these sheets had a soft hand feel right out of the packaging and they were cool and soft to sleep on.

    We're not the only ones who think the sheets are great. The Wirecutter has chosen the L.L. Bean 280-thread-count Percale Sheets as its number one choice three years running, saying these sheets offer a “superior cool feel at a great price.” The Wirecutter added that its experts love L.L. Bean’s lifetime guarantee, meaning you can return the sheets at any time for any reason.

    Consumer Search is another review website that picked the L.L. Bean sheets as its top pick, saying the sheets are “ideal for lovers of crisp, 'old-school' cotton sheets.” The reviewer did comment that some buyers felt the sheets were a bit too rough, however, although they do get softer the more they are washed.

    Pros: Smooth, crisp feel, durability, reasonable price

    Cons: Only fit mattresses up to 15 inches thick, no bright colors, few prints

    Buy the 280-thread-count Pima Cotton Percale Sheets at L.L. Bean for $109.00 (Twin),$129 (Full), $149 (Queen), $169 (King)



    The best luxury sheets

    Why you'll love them: If you take your sleep comfort seriously, the pampering touch and good looks of Brooklinen’s Luxe Sheets will have you sleeping like a baby.

    Started as a Kickstarter project in 2014, Brooklinen has quickly soared to the heights of success, due to its reasonable prices for high-quality bedding. Luxe Sheets start with the best long-fiber cotton, which is woven into single-ply yarn for the finest, yet softest threads. This also means that the finished thread count of 480 is the true number; many other manufacturers weave lower quality, 3-ply yarn into their sheets, then use this trick to inflate their thread count.

    Brooklinen’s Luxe Collection is a sateen weave, with a soft-as-the-clouds feel. Because sateen is woven more tightly than percale, you’ll find these sheets cozy and warm, with a soothingly “heavy” feel that many sleepers love. In fact, the commerce editor of our Insider Picks' team has been sleeping on these sheets for more than two years, and reports that they are “hands down the best sheets I've ever put on my bed.”

    Brooklinen customers echo our writer’s words, with most saying they loved the softness of the sheets, which increases every time they are washed. As a bonus, the sheets’ wrinkle-resistance improves with each wash, as well. And, by the way, you can do that washing in your machine, then either line-dry your bedding or use your dryer on low heat.

    The buzz doesn’t stop there. Brooklinen has received positive press all over the web, with InStyle saying, “In order to design beautiful, affordable, and ridiculously comfortable sheets, Brooklinen co-founders Rich and Vicki simply focus on quality and manufacturing responsibly.” Vogue writes, “the allure of this brand is certainly its technique and use of long-staple Egyptian cotton, which produces sheets and comforters that are softer than most.”

    Brooklinen offers the Luxe Sheets in five solid colors, along with stripes and dots. You can even mix-and-match colors or patterns within a sheet set, which is definitely a unique perk. The sheets fit mattresses up to 15 inches thick, so be sure to measure before ordering.

    Pros: Super soft, high quality, mix-and-match sheet sets

    Cons: Expensive, best if line-dried

    Buy the Luxe Sheet Collection at Brooklinen for $129 (Twin/XL), $149 (Full/Queen), $159 (King/CA King)



    The best cotton sheets on a budget

    Why you'll love them: The Threshold Performance Sheet Set is way cheaper than most cotton sheets without losing out on comfort.

    At a fraction of the price of other sateen sheets, the Threshold Performance Sheet Sets are a bargain price for 100% cotton sheets that don't sacrifice comfort. The 16-inch deep pocket on the fitted sheet has two layers of elastic to create a patented “stretch and fit to hold” performance that keeps the fitted sheet in place for mattresses of various depths.

    These sheets are also Oeko-Tex certified to be free of harmful chemicals. Target sells the sheets in 21 solid colors, so they're a great option for people who like to coordinate sheets to their decor. To the touch, the Threshold sheets feel crisper than other sateen sheets, making them a good compromise for couples with different sleep preferences.

    These sheets can be returned in-store or online for up to a year after purchase, though you may have trouble if the packaging is opened. They are available in twin, full, queen, and king sizes. Threshold's sheets are also the top budget pick at the Wirecutter, where testers found the sheets to be just as durable as pricier brands, but slightly more wrinkle-prone and less breathable. — Ayn-Monique Klahre

    Pros: Available in 21 colors, well-priced, 16-inch pocket depth

    Cons: Slightly less soft and breathable than other brands

    Buy the Threshold Performance Sheet Set at Target for $29.99 (Twin), $44.99 (Full), $49.99 (Queen), or $59.99 (King)



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    us navy carrier

    • Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer warned in an internal memo in October that "attempts to steal critical information are increasing in both severity and sophistication," The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
    • The secretary has launched a review of the service branch's cybersecurity weaknesses, as Chinese hackers target contractors and subcontractors to steal military secrets.
    • China allegedly targets US military service branches, commercial entities, and even critical national security infrastructure, and these attacks appear to be on the rise.

    US Navy defense contractors and subcontractors have reportedly suffered "more than a handful" of disconcerting security breaches at the hands of Chinese hackers over the past year and a half.

    "Attacks on our networks are not new, but attempts to steal critical information are increasing in both severity and sophistication," Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said in an internal memo in October, The Wall Street Journal, which reviewed the memo, reported Friday.

    "We must act decisively to fully understand both the nature of these attacks and how to prevent further loss of vital military information," he added.

    Although the secretary did not mention China specifically, evidence indicates that Beijing is responsible for what is considered a debilitating cyber campaign against the US.

    Earlier this year, Chinese government hackers stole important data on US Navy undersea warfare programs from an unidentified contractor. Among the stolen information were plans for a new supersonic anti-ship missile, The Washington Post, citing US officials, reported in June.

    China has been striving to boost its naval warfighting capabilities, and there is evidence that it is relying on stolen technology to do so.

    And it's not just the US Navy. Adm. Philip Davidson, the head of US Indo-Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in April that Beijing is "stealing technology in just about every domain and trying to use it to their advantage."

    China is believed to have been behind multiple cybersecurity breaches that facilitated the theft of significant amounts of data on the F-22 and F-35, among other aircraft. That information is suspected to have played a role in the development of China's new fifth-generation stealth fighters.

    Beijing denies that it engages in any form of cyberespionage.

    A senior US intelligence official warned Tuesday that concerning Chinese cyber activity in the US is clearly on the rise, and there is evidence that China is targeting critical infrastructure to lay the groundwork for disruptive attacks, Reuters reported.

    And US officials say Chinese state hackers are responsible for a data breach at Marriott affecting 500 million customers, according to recent reports. The Trump administration has repeatedly criticized Beijing for the alleged theft of US intellectual property to the tune of several hundred billion dollars a year, one of several sticking points in the ongoing trade spat.

    The breaching of the systems of key US defense contractors are particularly problematic as China modernizes its force, building a military able to challenge that of the US.

    "It’s extremely hard for the Defense Department to secure its own systems," Tom Bossert, the former homeland security adviser in the Trump administration, told the Journal. "It’s a matter of trust and hope to secure the systems of their contractors and subcontractors."

    Contractors and subcontractors across the entire military lack the desired cybersecurity capabilities and regularly suffer serious breaches, an intelligence official said.

    The most active Chinese hackers are reportedly a group known as Temp.Periscope or Leviathan, which is focused on maritime interests but also hits other targets.

    One defense official told the Journal that China was targeting America's "weak underbelly," calling cybersecurity breaches "an asymmetric way to engage the United States without ever having to fire a round."

    SEE ALSO: China is boosting its undersea-warfare capabilities — and stealing US technology to do so, a US admiral says

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's how easy it is for the US president to launch a nuclear weapon


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    eyes screen

    • A new survey suggests people over the age of 65 are the quickest readers.
    • A reading test, developed by an opticians, found over-65s are 14% quicker at reading than 35-44 year olds. 
    • It could be due to younger people staring at screens all day, as older people spend the least amount of time in front of them.
    • Too much screen time can cause computer vision syndrome.
    • Symptoms include eyestrain, headaches, dry eyes, and blurred vision.

    We're all guilty of skimming an article we wanted to read, or getting distracted and having to re-read a paragraph we didn't take in. But at a certain point in life, most of us are pretty confident in our reading ability.

    However, according to a new survey, maybe we shouldn't be.

    The opticians Lenstore recently created a reading test and asked 1,600 people to take part in it. People aged 25 to over 65 were tested, and some of the results were not expected.

    For instance, over-65s read faster than people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. It took the over-65s 98.5 seconds on average to complete the test, 25-34 year olds took 105 seconds, and 35-44 year olds took 112 seconds.

    Overall, over-65s completed the test 14% faster than 35-44 year olds.

    Research has shown how those in the older group look at screens the least, while people aged 16-44 spend more time in front of them, raising questions about how prolonged screen usage could affect our eyesight and reading ability.

    Read more: How smartphone light affects your brain and body

    According to a study from Birmingham University, published in the BMJ, excessive time staring at screens on smartphones, tablets, and laptops can cause Digital Eye Strain (DES), or computer vision syndrome, the most common symptoms of which are eye strain, headaches, dry eyes, and blurred vision.

    According to a John Hopkins Medicine study, dry eyes may be a major factor of reading speed and ability.

    "Symptoms associated with prolonged screen time, such as dry eyes and blurred vision, are suggested to be the reason that young people, who are regularly looking at screens, were outperformed by those who are older," a spokesperson from Len store told INSIDER.

    Read more: 6 scary things your phone can do to your mind and body

    A study published earlier this year in the journal Scientific Reports found that the blue light emitted by our phones, tablets, and laptops might increase our chance of becoming blind. Previous studies have found that blue light is harmful, but researchers from the University of Toledo say it can make molecules "toxic."

    Researchers described how blue light can turn a molecule in the eye into a poison that kills photoreceptor cells, which do not regenerate. So "when they're dead, they're dead for good," according to Kasun Ratnayake, a doctoral student researcher who wrote the study.

    Karunarathne suggested using special sunglasses that filter UV and blue light to try to combat the effects, but experts are unsure whether they do that much good.

    You can take the Len store reading test yourself here:

    Join the conversation about this story »

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