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The latest news from Business Insider

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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here. Current subscribers can read the report here.

    trust smart speaker makersSmart speakers comprise one of the fastest-growing device segments in the consumer technology market today. Ownership levels have nearly doubled from early 2017 to summer 2018. 

    With this rapid growth, there are a few pivotal questions that both companies looking to develop and sell smart speakers as well as those looking to sell products, deliver media, and offer access to services like banking over these devices need answers to in order to craft successful strategies. In particular, they need to know who is and isn’t buying smart speakers, and what consumers who own smart speakers are actually doing with them. 

    To offer these stakeholders insight, Business Insider Intelligence asked more than 500 US consumers about their knowledge of smart speakers, the devices they do or don’t own and what led them to their purchase decisions, as well as the tasks they’re using their smart speakers for.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence will look at the state of the smart speaker market and outline how each of the major device providers approaches the space. We will then focus on the key factors that affect whether or not someone owns one of these devices. Next, we will use our survey data to outline the reasons why people don’t own devices in order to offer guidance for who to target and how. Finally, we will discuss what consumers are actually doing with their smart speakers — specifically looking at how the devices are used and perceived in e-commerce, digital media, and banking — which can help companies determine how well they’re publicizing their smart speaker services and capabilities.

    The companies mentioned in this report are: Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung, Facebook, Sonos, LG, Anker, Spotify, Pandora, Grubhub, Netflix, Hulu, Instagram, Snap.

    Here are some key takeaways from the report:

    • Despite their growing popularity, nearly half of respondents still don't own a device — which presents a long runway for adoption. Our survey data reveals a number of key factors that impact whether or not someone owns one of these devices, including income, gender, and age.
    • Smart speakers are establishing themselves as a key platform for e-commerce, media, and the smart home.
    • The introduction of a screen to some smart speakers will expand the possibilities for companies developing for the device — but developers will need to resist the compulsion to use speakers to accomplish too much.

    In full, the report:

    • Provides an overview of the key players and products in the smart speaker market.
    • Highlights critical adoption rates broken out by key factors that define the segment.
    • Identifies how consumers are using devices in important areas where companies in various industries are trying foster greater use of the voice interface.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

    • James Mattis on Thursday stepped down as defense secretary, issuing a resignation letter that stands as a sharp rebuke of President Donald Trump's "America First" philosophy.
    • In his resignation letter, Mattis ripped into the president's bombastic, isolationist approach to foreign affairs.
    • Trump has routinely faced criticism for insulting America's traditional allies, and Mattis' letter alludes to the president's behavior in this regard.
    • Mattis emphasized the need to treat allies with "respect."

    "One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships," Mattis said.

    James Mattis on Thursday stepped down as defense secretary, issuing a resignation letter that stands as a sharp rebuke of President Donald Trump's "America First" philosophy.

    In his resignation letter, Mattis ripped into the president's bombastic, isolationist approach to foreign affairs.

    Read more: Read Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' full resignation letter to Trump

    "One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships," Mattis said. "While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies."

    Trump has routinely faced criticism for insulting America's traditional allies, particularly the UK, France, and Germany, while going against them on a range of issues — from the Paris climate accord to the Iran nuclear deal.

    The president's critics have also taken issue with his habitual verbal attacks against NATO. He's made inaccurate claims about the nature of the historic alliance and the way in which it is funded.

    In his letter, Mattis alluded to Trump's behavior in this regard, saying, "My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues."

    The retired Marine Corps general added, "We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances."

    Read more: How the Trump administration looked at the end of 2017 and how it looks at the end of 2018

    Mattis also seemed to take issue with Trump's embrace of authoritarian regimes and declared friendships with leaders like Chinese President Xi Jinping.

    He wrote, "I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours."

    Mattis said it's "clear" China and Russia "want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model gaining veto authority over other nation's economic, diplomatic, and security decisions to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies."

    He emphasized the US must use all of the "tools of American power" to provide for "common defense" against growing threats from countries like Russia and China.

    Mattis toward the end of his letter said, "Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position."

    He is set to leave the Trump administration in February 2019.

    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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    Evan Spiegel

    • Snap employees will not receive cash bonuses for the second straight year, according to a report by Cheddar
    • Instead, individual employees may receive performance-based bonuses in the form of stock options. 
    • Thursday's news caps a rough 2018 for Snap, which the saw its stock and user numbers decline.

    On the same day its stock fell below $5 for the first time, a report by Cheddar on Thursday indicated that Snap employees would not receive cash bonuses for a second consecutive year. 

    According to the report, individual employees may instead receive performance-based bonuses in the form of stock options. 

    Thursday's news of no cash bonuses caps a rough 2018 for Snap, which saw its stock plummet and its audience shrink.

    Read more: Snap's stock crashes 10% after announcing it lost 2 million users last quarter — even though it beat on the top and bottom line

    According to current and former employees who spoke with Cheddar, internal morale has also been lowered this year by the multiple rounds of layoffs, everchanging strategies from upper management, and the departure of key execs, like Chief Strategy Officer Imran Khan and Vice President of Content Nick Bell.

    The report also mentions that this year's Snap holiday party waned in comparison to 2017's celebration, when Drake headlined the event.

    2019 will be a critical year for Snap: it's the year that CEO Evan Spiegel said he hoped his seven-year-old company would finally become profitable.

    SEE ALSO: Juul's 1,500 employees may receive million-dollar bonuses this holiday season after the company's recent $12.8 billion funding round

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: We tested out $30 tiny spy cameras from Amazon by spying on our co-workers


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    christmas dinner turkey champagne

    • Whatever holiday you celebrate, special occasions are often a time when people gather around the table to enjoy a holiday feast.
    • People celebrate Christmas all over the world, but they don't all eat a turkey and drink eggnog.
    • Koreans celebrate their harvest season with a feast of crops, and Iranians do the same for their Persian New Year. 
    • Observant Muslims and Jews abstain from food on their respective holidays, but they both look forward to their traditional meals when they break the fast.

    Many people will describe a holiday by the food that gets eaten.

    Religious holidays that are celebrated all over the world, like Christmas, can look different depending on where you're celebrating. And different religious holidays that get celebrated in the same parts of the world can sometimes look quite similar. 

    Because we all love borrowing recipes from all over the world, take a look at what people will be putting on their plates during the holidays all year long.

    Germans tend to celebrate Christmas with a roasted goose, dumplings, and red cabbage.



    They might also snack on stollen cake — a bread made with dried fruits inside and powdered sugar on top.



    Celebrators in the festive spirit may drink a mulled wine called Glühwein out of decorated, sometimes boot-shaped mugs.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis gestures during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., May 19, 2017.

    • Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who announced his resignation from the Trump administration on Thursday, is reportedly leaving because President Donald Trump refused to heed his warnings about withdrawing US troops from Syria.
    • Trump said a day earlier that he intends to pull American troops out of Syria, saying that ISIS militants had been defeated there.
    • Mattis' resignation letter is a sharp rebuke of Trump's policies.

    Secretary of Defense James Mattis is resigning, reportedly because the president refused to heed his warnings on withdrawing US troops from Syria.

    Mattis went to the White House Thursday "in a last attempt to convince" President Trump "to keep US troops in Syria," The New York Times wrote Thursday, citing officials. "He was rebuffed, and told the president that he was resigning as a result."

    Defense officials told CNN that Mattis was "livid" after reading reports that the Turkish defense minister threatened to kill the Kurds — US partners in the fight against ISIS. He was reportedly incensed at what he considered a betrayal of an ally.

    A few hours later, Mattis submitted his resignation letter, which stressed that the president needs a defense secretary who shares his view of the world, particularly when it comes to the preservation of an international order best suited to the advancement of US national interests, the treatment of allies and partners, and the handling of American adversaries.

    Read more:Defense Secretary James Mattis quits, says his views aren't 'aligned' with Trump as the president upends major US policies

    The letter, which repeatedly stressed the importance of alliances, was a sharp rebuke of Trump's policies.

    Trump has time and time again overruled or contradicted Mattis, and it appears that this time was the last straw for the embattled secretary.

    The president, proudly saying ISIS has been defeated, announced Wednesday that US troops will be withdrawing from Syria, a move that many of the president's advisers have warned against.

    Read more:Read Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' full resignation letter to Trump

    "Getting rid of the caliphate doesn't mean you then blindly say okay, we got rid of it, march out, and then wonder why the caliphate comes back," Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon in late September. His views were reflected by the American-led coalition in Syria.

    "We cannot walk away, we must stay and work with our partners to develop their capabilities and capacity and ensure they can prevent this enemy from ever threatening Iraq, Syria, and any other country around the world," coalition spokesman Col. Sean Ryan told reporters at the Pentagon late last month.

    SEE ALSO: Defense Secretary James Mattis quits, says his views aren't 'aligned' with Trump as the president upends major US policies

    DON'T MISS: Mattis' resignation letter is a sharp rebuke of Trump's 'America First' philosophy

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Bernie Madoff was arrested 10 years ago today — here's what his life is like in prison


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    Digital has transformed retail possibilities.Future of Retail 2018: Delivery & Fulfillment

    And with e-commerce sales growing at nearly five times the rate of brick-and-mortar sales, retailers need to find cheaper and more efficient ways to deliver e-commerce orders.

    But different age groups have different preferences for which delivery and fulfilment options are most important to them.

    Find out which delivery features are most important to consumers as well as what fulfillment options retailers should be using to meet consumer demands in this new FREE slide deck from Business Insider Intelligence’s three-part Future of Retail 2018 series.

    In this first installment of the series, Business Insider Intelligence explores delivery and fulfillment, including consumers’ delivery preferences, the challenges those demands pose to retailers, and the strategies retailers can use to meet consumers’ expectations of fulfillment without tanking their profitability.

    As an added bonus, you will also gain immediate access to our exclusive Business Insider Intelligence Daily newsletter.

    To get your copy of the first part of this FREE slide deck, simply click here.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    • Digital trust is the confidence people have in a platform to protect their information and provide a safe environment for them to create and engage with content.
    • Business Insider Intelligence surveyed over 1,300 global consumers to evaluate their perception of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
    • Consumers’ Digital Trust rankings differ across security, legitimacy, community, user experience, shareability, and relevance for the six major social networks.

    If you feel like “fake news” and spammy social media feeds dominate your Internet experience, you’re not alone. Digital trust, the confidence people have in platforms to protect their information and provide a safe environment to create and engage with content, is in jeopardy.

    Digital Trust Rankings 2018

    In fact, in a new Business Insider Intelligence survey of more than 1,300 global consumers, over half (54%) said that fake news and scams were "extremely impactful” or “very impactful” on their decision to engage with ads and sponsored content.

    For businesses, this distrust has financial ramifications. It’s no longer enough to craft a strong message; brands, marketers, and social platforms need to focus their energy on getting it to consumers in an environment where they are most receptive. When brands reach consumers on platforms that they trust, they enhance their credibility and increase the likelihood of receiving positive audience engagement.

    The Digital Trust Report 2018, the latest Enterprise Edge Report from Business Insider Intelligence, compiles this exclusive survey data to analyze consumer perceptions of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

    The survey breaks down consumers’ perceptions of social media across six pillars of trust: security, legitimacy, community, user experience, shareability, and relevance. The results? LinkedIn ran away with it.

    As the most trusted platform for the second year in a row – and an outlier in the overall survey results – LinkedIn took the top spot for nearly every pillar of trust — and there are a few reasons why:

    • LinkedIn continues to benefit from the professional nature of its community — users on the platform tend to be well behaved and have less personal information at risk, which makes for a more trusting environment.
    • LinkedIn users are likely more selective and mindful about engagement when interacting within their professional network, which may increase trust in its content.
    • Content on LinkedIn is typically published by career-minded individuals and organizations seeking to promote professional interests, and is therefore seen as higher quality than other platforms’. This bodes well for advertisers and publishers to be viewed as forthright, honest, persuasive, and trustworthy.

    Want to Learn More?

    Enterprise Edge Reports are the very best research Business Insider Intelligence has to offer in terms of actionable recommendations and proprietary data, and they are only available to Enterprise clients.

    The Digital Trust Report 2018 illustrates how social platforms have been on a roller coaster ride of data, user privacy, and brand safety scandals since our first installment of the report in 2017.

    In full, the report analyzes key changes in rankings from 2017, identifies trends in millennials' behavior on social media, and highlights where these platforms (as well as advertisers) have opportunities to capture their attention.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Diane Greene

    • A startup called DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) announced Thursday that it has been acquired by Google Cloud.
    • DevOps, a term that combines development and operations, is a concept that has spread quickly within companies and startups as a way to build more software, faster. 
    • DORA was founded by some of the top names in DevOps — experts who helped develop some of the concepts involved.

    Google is investing further in "DevOps," a very Silicon Valley term for a software engineering philosophy that combines development and operations to help engineers build software faster. It's something of a buzzword, but there's serious money in it.

    To that end, research startup DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) announced Thursday that it will join Google Cloud after being acquired for an undisclosed sum. The announcement shows that the search giant is investing in DORA's brand of data-driven research into DevOps and how it can make developer lives easier.

    Notably, DORA was founded by some of the biggest names in the DevOps field.

    DORA's co-founders, CEO Nicole Forsgren and CTO Jez Humble, have both written extensively on DevOps and originated several key concepts in the field. Also on board is Gene Kim, author of "The Phoenix Project," a novel that doubles as a popular handbook for how companies can adopt DevOps.  DORA has led DevOps studies and created an assessment tool for businesses to evaluate their technology processes.

    Read more: Investors are betting hundreds of millions of dollars that startups like PagerDuty, GitLab, and CloudBees can change the way software gets made

    “The best, most innovative organizations develop and deliver their software faster, more reliably, more securely, and with higher quality, standing as high performers in technology,” Forsgren said in a statement.

    “We are excited to join a team committed to delivering research-backed DevOps practices, and we look forward to continuing our work to understand key capabilities, measure value-driven outcomes, and optimize processes to help teams deliver their software as they move to the cloud.”

    DevOps startups, processes, and jobs have become blazingly popular, showing that developers are gaining more influence. Investors have been putting their money into developer-focused startups and startups that help teams release code faster. LinkedIn even reported that DevOps engineer is now the most in-demand job title among employers. 

    For Google Cloud, adding this DevOps expertise has the potential to help the company build out its sales pitch to developers. Forsgren, Humble, and Kim all have extensive experience working with developers, particularly in the business space. That could give Google an edge over leading cloud rivals Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

     

    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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    Christmas in Berlin

    • Every country and culture has it's own holiday customs.
    • Whether it's Christmas or New Year's Eve, festivities can vary drastically even within country borders. 
    • Some holidays like Day of the Dead have been around for centuries, and others like the celebration of Kwanzaa are relatively new. 

    Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve, Halloween— you probably have a solid image in your mind of what each of these holidays look like. But that image all depends on where you come from and how you celebrated throughout your life. 

    Santa Claus seems like a Christmas no-brainer, but there are countries across the globe that don't even include Santa as part of their celebrations. 

    Every country and culture has their own version of the holidays. Here's what some of the major ones look like around the world. 

    If you visit Sweden, Norway, and Swedish-speaking parts of Finland on December 13 you'll find yourself in the middle of St. Lucia's Day celebrations — a festival combining pagan and Christian traditions into one holiday.

    Source: Encyclopædia Britannica



    This Scandinavian festival honors one of the earliest Christian martyrs, St. Lucia. There's a procession of the town-elected, mock St. Lucia and young boys and girls dressed in white and singing traditional songs — the girls wear head wreaths featuring stars or candles.

    Source: Encyclopædia Britannica



    This festival of light is meant to brighten up the darkest time of the year while earmarking the start to the Christmas season. Observing families typically have their oldest daughter dress up in white and serve coffee, saffron bread, and ginger biscuits to family and guests.

    Source: Encyclopædia Britannica



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    943280

    • President Donald Trump once boasted that his administration was staffed by notable members of the US armed forces.
    • Those service members will soon be leaving his administration.
    • The latest former Marine Corps general who will have voluntarily left the administration is Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

    US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' upcoming departure from the Trump administration was largely expected in the near term, but his official resignation letter on Thursday still shook Washington, DC, and caught defense officials and lawmakers off guard.

    The news follows a series of departures from high-profile military generals in the White House, namely Marines who have served with distinction throughout the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of these Marines have now left the Trump White House amid numerous reports of disagreements or criticisms of Trump.

    The photo above, taken in 2013, marked the first time six four-star Marines Corps generals were actively serving in the Marines.

    • Jim Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, announced his resignation on Thursday and is expected to leave the Pentagon at the end of February. Mattis was a four-star general who led the US Central Command and was celebrated as a top choice to lead the world's most powerful military. Mattis cited his disagreements with Trump's policies as the reason for his decision to resign as the highest-ranking service member from the Defense Department.
    • John Kelly, the former White House chief of staff, was a four-star Marine Corps general who once led the US Southern Command. He served as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security before being selected by Trump as his chief of staff. During a rocky tenure during which he had been expected to bring order to a chaotic West Wing, Kelly faced headwinds, and sometimes clashed with Trump on a number of issues.
    • Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, served as the commandant of the Marine Corps and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. His term as the top commander of the entire US military ends in September 2019. Trump announced US Army chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley as his replacement, despite some reports of concerns from Mattis.
    • John Allen, the former commander of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, did not serve in the Trump administration. Instead, he was an outspoken critic of Trump throughout his campaign and presidency. During a speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, Allen endorsed Hillary Clinton and likened Trump's presidency to a "business transaction" that conducts "illegal activities." Trump fired back at Allen through a tweet and said his fight against ISIS "failed badly."

    The circumstances of the officers' various exits may vary, but Trump's generals — service members he spoke highly of throughout his campaign and the early days of his presidency — have now left an apparent void in the White House.

    In addition to the Marines who will have left the Trump administration, US Army three-star general H.R. McMaster, Trump's former national security adviser, was fired in March. His tenure was marked by numerous reports of disagreements with Trump, who once described him as "a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience."

    McMaster replaced another US Army three-star general as national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, who was fired after he was discovered to have lied to the FBI and senior White House officials about his communications with Russians officials.

    Donald Trump H.R. McMaster

    SEE ALSO: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis quits, says his views aren't 'aligned' with Trump as the president upends major US policies

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The reason some men can't grow full beards, according to a dermatologist


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    David Marcus

    • Facebook is trying to build a cryptocurrency that would power money transfers on WhatsApp, according to a new report from Bloomberg.
    • The Silicon Valley tech giant is reportedly trying to build a "stablecoin" pegged to the value of the dollar.

    Facebook is quietly building a cryptocurrency to power money transfers on WhatsApp, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

    Earlier in 2018, amid widespread bitcoin and crypto hype, the Silicon Valley tech giant announced it was launching a blockchain group. The team, helmed by former PayPal and Facebook Messenger boss David Marcus, has since stayed mum about its goals, despite widespread speculation on what it might be up to.

    According to Bloomberg, the company is trying to build a "stablecoin," a specific type of cryptocurrency with a value is tied to the dollar, which will be used to facilitate money transfers on the messaging app. At least initially, it will apparently target remittances in India. 

    Earlier this month, business news outlet Cheddar reported that the Facebook employees had discussed with blockchain industry insiders"the idea of creating a decentralized digital currency for the social network's 2 billion users," and that it is hiring for a range of roles, from project managers and academics. However, Facebook is reportedly struggling to hire talent, with crypto experts wary of the company because of its centralized nature and years of scandals.

    Reached for comment, Facebook spokesperson Travis Reed provided Business Insider with the following statement: "Like many other companies Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology. This new small team is exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share."


    Do you work at Facebook? Got a tip? Contact this reporter via Signal or WhatsApp at +1 (650) 636-6268 using a non-work phone, email at rprice@businessinsider.com, Telegram or WeChat at robaeprice, or Twitter DM at @robaeprice. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.


     

    SEE ALSO: Facebook veterans are changing the world of blockchain and crypto startups: Here are 15 ex-Facebook employees who went crypto

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: USB-C was supposed to be a universal connector — but it still has a lot of problems


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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    Allbirds

    If you're looking to make a big difference with a gift, shopping for a college student is a good place to begin. They have classes, internships, second jobs, social lives, and relationships to manage, and they probably have far less money to support themselves than they wish they did.

    Useful, thoughtful gifts can make a disproportionate difference in their quality of life — especially when it's something they'll both use frequently and couldn't afford on their own.

    As a recent college graduate, I can tell you from experience that the list below is a really good place to start your shopping.

    Many of these items are available with two-day shipping if you have Amazon Prime, so don't stress too hard about your last-minute shopping — just remember that the sooner you order, the better your chances of a timely arrival.

    Below are 35 of the best gifts for college students:

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    DON'T MISS: The 18 best subscription boxes you can gift from Amazon this holiday season

    Popular wireless over-ear headphones for quality noise-canceling during studying, traveling, and working out

    Beats by Dre Wireless Solo3 Headphones, available at Best Buy and Amazon, $239.95

    If there's one thing every college student needs, it's good wireless headphones. They'll use them at the gym, at the library, and commuting to class and internships. This pair has great sound, cushioned ear cups, and 40 hours of battery life so they have one less thing to think about. And if they let the battery run out, a five-minute charge is the equivalent to three hours of play time.

    If they like to study in public spaces, you can't go wrong with Bose's pricey but unbeatable QuietComfort headphones for noise-cancellation. If they're a runner and need something lightweight and in-ear, you should opt for Jaybird RUN

    Note: Some colors are expected to arrive after Christmas. 



    An Amazon Echo Dot for hands-free calls, alarms, music, updates on the weather, recipes, and more

    Echo Dot (3rd Generation), available on Amazon, $29.99

    The Amazon Echo Dot is the most popular Amazon device for a reason — it's compact and has all the capabilities of Alexa (weather updates, recipes, music, news), which is the main reason most people buy an Echo device. The newest version — the third generation — has a speaker that's 70% louder than the second, and comes in a fabric design that better matches home decor. Find an Insider Picks comparison of the Echo devices for fast reference here

    Note: Some colors are expected to arrive after Christmas. 

     



    An inexpensive way for them to get the iced coffee they love at home

    The Takeya Cold Brew Maker is an inexpensive, easy way to make cold brew from home — something that can save them hundreds of dollars per year. Find a full review here.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    James Mattis

    • Defense Secretary James Mattis announced his resignation Thursday, saying he would leave his post at the end of February.
    • After two years of President Donald Trump, some foreign officials may now think trouble can be avoided, even without Mattis' influence.
    • But Mattis was still held in high regard, and his exit will do little to reassure those concerned about the Trump administration.

    Defense Secretary James Mattis' sudden resignation Thursday comes a day after President Donald Trump announced a US withdrawal from Syria — which reportedly prompted Mattis' resignation— and hours after rumblings that Trump would pull some US troops out of Afghanistan.

    Mattis was long heralded as an "adult in the room" for the Trump administration, especially after the departure of other officials, especially national security adviser H.R. McMaster, an Army general who resigned and retired in March.

    US lawmakers have already started lamenting Mattis' exit, and officials in foreign governments may be worried about what comes next for a Trump administration that has jumped from crisis to crisis.

    Having watched Trump for the past two years, however, some US allies may feel more strongly that disaster can be avoided even without Mattis' purportedly steadying influence.

    Trump Mattis pompeo

    A senior diplomat from a US ally told Bloomberg earlier this month that when Trump took office, the concern was that he would be unrestrained by his more reasonable advisers.

    Now, however, officials from the diplomat's country wouldn't necessarily be "freaking out" if Mattis were to leave, the diplomat said. The past two years have made them "more optimistic about Trump’s ability to remain stable."

    Other recent incidents have suggested Mattis' influence over Trump had waned, and the president was operating with less input from his defense chief.

    Read more: What Stanley McChrystal learned from Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq before leading the operation to kill him

    In August, Mattis appeared to lose the battle over the formation of the Space Force, which now may be set up as a part of the Air Force.

    In September, Politico reported that Trump, irritated by Mattis slow-walking or ignoring his directives, had dropped Mattis' "Mad Dog" nickname and started referring to him as "Moderate Dog," and had been considering replacing him for months.

    Earlier this month, Trump selectedArmy chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley to take over as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, picking him over Mattis' preferred choice, Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein.

    Even amid uncertainty about Mattis' stock within the Trump administration, he was a source of reassurance overseas.

    Jim Mattis Brazil military officers

    While the defense chief kept a relatively low profile in Washington, he spent more time with his counterparts abroad, practicing what John Chipman, director general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, called "defense diplomacy."

    Feelings about Mattis' departure may be shaped by who and what comes next.

    "We see responsible voices in the administration leaving, and we only see hard-liners replacing them," one European official told Bloomberg.

    Read more: H.R. McMaster reportedly called Trump out for asking about taking Iraq's oil

    "I haven't seen a country ... that wasn't worried," Jim Townsend, an adjunct senior fellow in the Center for a New American Security's Transatlantic Security Program, said prior to Mattis' resignation, when asked about sentiments among NATO members.

    "They're worried about what they're hearing and where we might be going," added Townsend, who was deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy during the Obama administration.

    Despite reassurances about the US' commitment to its allies, he said, "They still are nervous."

    SEE ALSO: Trump's attacks on NATO are 'like a gift' to Putin, a former US Army leader in Europe says, but Putin still has his own reasons to worry

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Barbara Corcoran on Donald Trump: 'He is the best salesman I've ever met in my life'


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    hermit

    • When you think of hermits, you probably envision someone living in solitude for religious reasons.
    • And while some hermits do live in seclusion from society for this reason, there are other people around the world who live in isolation for different reasons.
    • From former nuns to people who just prefer to live a life of minimalism, here is an inside look into the lives of some modern-day hermits.

    From a former nun in the English countryside to an elderly man living naked and alone on an island in Japan, there is no one picture of what a hermit looks like.

    Sister Rachel Denton, a former nun and teacher, has been living in solitude in a small English town since 2006. She has pledged to live as a hermit for the rest of her life, though she communicates with the outside world through social media.

    Another hermit, Masafumi Nagasaki, took a more extreme approach to the solitary lifestyle. The 82-year-old was the only known resident of a small island off the coast of Japan until he left his life in seclusion for health reasons.

    Keep reading for striking photos that show what life is like for Denton, Nagasaki, and more hermits around the globe.

    Denton, who lives in a modest house in a village in Lincolnshire, England, begins her days early by praying, feeding her cat, and tending to her vegetable garden.

    Source: Reuters



    She usually spends her days praying, reading, and working on her calligraphy business that she runs out of her home.

    Source: Reuters



    But Denton's life isn't spent entirely in solitude. She owns several chickens and cats that keep her company.

    Source: Reuters



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

    Not that long ago, many home-appliance and consumer-electronics makers were gearing up for what they thought would soon be a rapidly growing market for smart home devices.

    The instant popularity of the Nest thermostat, introduced in 2011, seemed to confirm their hopes. But those expectations were dashed in the coming years as the market for connected home devices later stagnated. 

    Even with these challenges, many of the biggest consumer technology companies are now moving into the smart home market. For example, Apple, which recently released its self-installed smart home ecosystem, called the Apple Home, traditionally doesn't move into a market until it's very mature and only when it can release a perfected product. Further, Google this fall launched the Google Home and its companion ecosystem, hoping to jump into the voice-activated smart home speaker market, which Amazon currently dominates with its Echo product line. 

    In a new report, Business Insider Intelligence examines the demographics of the average smart home device owner and discuss why current smart home device owners are appealing to tech companies. The report also examines the plans of various tech giants in the smart home market and discuss their monetization strategies, and makes suggestions for how these companies can position themselves to make their products and devices more appealing to the mass market.

    Here are some key takeaways from the report:

    • Tech companies primarily enter the market to enhance a core revenue stream or service, while device makers desire to collect data to improve their products and prevent costly recalls.
    • We forecast there will be $4.8 trillion in aggregate IoT investment between 2016 and 2021.
    • These companies are also seeking to create an early-mover advantage for themselves, where they gain an advantage by this head start on adoption.
    • Major barriers to mass market adoption that still must overcome include technological fragmentation and persistently high device prices.

    In full, the report:

    • Details the market strategy of prominent tech companies and device makers, and analyzes why which ones are best poised to succeed once adoption ticks up.
    • Offers insight into current ownership through an exclusive survey from Business Insider Intelligence and analyzes what demographics will drive adoption moving forward.
    • Explains in detail which companies are poised to succeed in the market in the coming years as adoption increases and mass market consumers begin to purchase smart home devices.

     

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    Chuck Schumer

    • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, held a joint press conference on Thursday evening.
    • "President Trump is throwing a temper tantrum and creating a Trump shutdown," Schumer said.
    • A partial government shutdown is looming — nine federal agencies may not be funded going in to the holidays — if a funding bill is not passed by the end of Friday.
    • The conference came shortly after Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis submitted his letter of resignation over the president's decision to pull US troops out of Syria.
    • Trump signaled this morning that he won't sign a bill if it does not include roughly $5 billion in funding for a wall at the southern border.
    • On Thursday night, the House of Representatives passed a stopgap bill that includes $5.7 billion in funding for the border wall. It's unlikely to pass the Senate.

    Democratic leaders, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, held a joint press conference on Thursday evening, following the announcement of Secretary of Defense James Mattis' resignation.

    During the conference, Schumer and Pelosi discussed a looming government shutdown and Mattis leaving the administration.

    "Today's events have made one thing clear, President Trump is plunging the country into chaos," Schumer said. "The stock market is down another 500 points. General Mattis stepping down — we know he has real disagreements with the president on Syria and on the wall. And now President Trump is throwing a temper tantrum and creating a Trump shutdown of the government."

    Pelosi and Schumer

    On Wednesday night, the Senate passed a bipartisan stopgap bill unanimously by voice to fund the government through February. It was thought that President Trump would sign it — even without funding for the wall — to avoid a shutdown.

    However, on Thursday, after being attacked by staunch conservatives (pundits and lawmakers alike) who favor the wall, Trump indicated to House Speaker Paul Ryan, that he would not sign a bill without funding for border security.

    "We protect nations all over the world, but Democrats are unwilling to protect our nation," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement on Thursday. "We urgently need funding for border security and that includes a wall."

    The wall was one of Trump's divisive campaign promises. A stopgap bill without border wall funding would push the spending fight to the new year, when Democrats will have a majority in the House and Pelosi will likely be Speaker of the House, making it harder to pass funding for the border wall.

    On Thursday night, House Republicans passed a stopgap bill that included $5.7 billion for the wall. It is unlikely to pass in the Senate where it needs 60 votes to pass.

    If the government shuts down, nine government agencies — the US Treasury, along with the departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security, the Interior, State, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Commerce and Justice — will not be funded. Government workers who are deemed "essential" will still have to work over the holidays without pay, including air traffic controllers, railroad safety inspectors, TSA agents, during the busy holiday travel season, and Customs and Border Protection agents, The Times reports.

    "The bottom line is simple," Schumer said. "The Trump temper tantrum will shut down the government, but it will not get him his wall."

    SEE ALSO: Trump is abruptly threatening to veto the spending bill and force a government shutdown over the border wall

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    US Army Afghanistan

    • President Donald Trump has reportedly decided to cut the number of troops in Afghanistan by more than 7,000 — meaning that roughly half the US troops in the war-torn country will be leaving.
    • The drawdown is expected to begin in a matter of weeks.
    • The president is said to have made this decision when he decided to pull all 2,000 US troops out of Syria.

    President Donald Trump has ordered the immediate withdrawal of more than 7,000 US troops from Afghanistan, according to multiplereports, citing defense officials.

    In what appears to be the first major step toward ending America's involvement in a war fought for nearly two decades, the president has decided to cut the US military presence in Afghanistan in half, The Wall Street Journal reported. There are currently roughly 14,000 American service members in the war-torn country.

    News of the withdrawal comes just one day after Trump declared victory over ISIS and announced the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, a move that reportedly drove the president's secretary of defense to resign from his position Thursday.

    Read more:Trump's move to pull US troops out of Syria was reportedly the final straw for Mattis

    "I think it shows how serious the president is about wanting to come out of conflicts," one senior U.S. official told TheWSJ. "I think he wants to see viable options about how to bring conflicts to a close."

    Another official told The New York Times that the Afghan forces, which have suffered unbelievably high casualties, need to learn to stand on their own, something senior military leaders have suggested they may not yet be ready to do.

    US military leaders, most recently Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, have characterized the war in Afghanistan as a "stalemate" with no end in sight. A total of 14 American service members have died in Afghanistan this year, six in the last two months alone.

    US troops our both training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces and carrying out counterterrorism operations against regional terror groups, like ISIS and Al Qaeda. In September of last year, Trump ordered the deployment of an additional 3,000 troops to Afghanistan.

    The decision to reduce the number of US troops in country to roughly half their current levels was reportedly made at the same time Trump decided to withdraw from Syria.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

    Between housing costs, utilities, taxes, insurance, loans, and more, US adults paid an estimated $3.9 trillion in bills last year.

    Bill Pay MarketThat market is growing slowly, but it’s changing fast — more than ever before, customers are moving away from paying bills via check or cash and toward paying online, either through their banks, the billers themselves, or using a third-party app.

    Thanks to rising customer familiarity with digital payments, an increase in purchasing power among younger consumers more interested in digital bill pay, and a rise in digital payment options, nearly three-quarters of bills will be paid digitally by 2022, representing a big opportunity for players across the space.

    In theory, banks should be in a great position to capitalize on this shift. Nearly all banks offer bill payment functionality, and it’s a popular feature. Issuers also boast an existing engaged digital user base, and make these payments secure. But that isn’t what’s happening — even as digital bill pay becomes more commonplace, banks are losing ground to billers and third-party players. And that’s not poised to change unless banks do, since issuer bill pay is least popular among the youngest customers, who will be the most important in the coming year.

    For banks, then, that makes innovation important. Taking steps to grow bill pay’s share can be a tough sell for digital strategists and executives leading money movement at banks, and done wrong, it can be costly, since it often requires robust technological investments. But, if banks do it right, bill pay marks a strong opportunity to add and engage customers, and in turn, grow overall lifetime value while shrinking attrition.

    Business Insider Intelligence has put together a detailed report that explains the US bill pay market, identifies the major inflection points for change and what’s driving it, and provides concrete strategies and recommendations for banks looking to improve their digital bill pay offerings.

    Here are some key takeaways from the report:

    • The bill pay market in the US, worth $3.9 trillion, is growing slowly. But digital bill payment volume is rising at a rapid clip — half of all bills are now digital, and that share will likely expand to over 75% by 2022. 
    • Customers find it easiest to pay their bills at their billers directly, either through one-off or recurring payments. Bank-based offerings are commonplace, but barebones, which means they fail to appeal to key demographics.
    • Issuers should work to reclaim bill payment share, since bill pay is an effective engagement tool that can increase customer stickiness, grow lifetime status, and boost primary bank status.  
    • Banks need to make their offerings as secure and convenient as biller direct, market bill pay across channels, and build bill pay into digital money management functionality.

    In full, the report:

    • Sizes the US bill pay market, and estimates where it’s poised to go next.
    • Evaluates the impact that digital will have on bill pay in the US and who is poised to capitalize on that shift.
    • Identifies three key areas in which issuers can improve their bill pay offerings to gain share and explains why issuers are losing ground in these categories.
    • Issues recommendations and defines concrete steps that banks can take as a means of gaining share back and reaping the benefits of digital bill pay engagement.

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    naked dresses 2018

    The idea of the "naked dress" certainly isn't new, but its popularity seemed to be at an all-time high in 2018. According to global fashion search platform Lyst, naked fashion was one of the biggest trends influenced by celebrities in 2018.

    Celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid stepped out in the popular trend, with designs ranging from sheer bodysuits to dresses with revealing cutouts and lace detailing.

    Here are the 25 best barely-there looks of the year.

    Bella Hadid wore a sheer corseted bodysuit to a Harper's Bazaar event in September.

    According to Lyst, Mugler experienced a 24% spike in search traffic following Hadid's appearance on the red carpet.



    She then put her glamorous spin on the trend while attending the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show after-party.

    She wore a see-through metallic dress with a plunging neckline and tons of beaded detailing throughout.

    Read more:Bella Hadid wore a see-through dress with a V-neck down to her belly button, and it's one of her most daring red carpet looks ever
     



    Rosie Huntington-Whiteley helped sparked interest in the trend by wearing this Versace dress in September.

    According to Lyst, her ensemble for the GQ Men of the Year awards caused a 21% surge for black bondage-style items just 48 hours later.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Mitch McConnell

    • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican of Kentucky, issued a strong statement following the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis, saying he is "particularly distressed that he is resigning due to sharp differences with the president on these and other key aspects of America’s global leadership."
    • His statement echoes Mattis' resignation letter, which stresses the importance of maintaining US alliances.
    • President Donald Trump's decision to pull troops out of Syria — which analysts say is a boon for our adversaries, Russia, ISIS, Iran, and the Syrian regime — was reportedly the last straw for Secretary Mattis.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican of Kentucky, issued a strong statement following the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis, saying he is "particularly distressed that he is resigning due to sharp differences with the president on these and other key aspects of America’s global leadership."

    His statement echoes Mattis' resignation letter when stressing the importance of maintaining US alliances.

    "I believe it’s essential that the United States maintain and strengthen the post-World War II alliances that have been carefully built by leaders in both parties," McConnell said in his statement. "We must also maintain a clear-eyed understanding of our friends and foes, and recognize that nations like Russia are among the latter."

    In Mattis' resignation letter he said, "while the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies."

    Like McConnell, Mattis also name-checked Russia: "It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model gaining veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic, and security decisions to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies."

    Trump's decision to pull troops out of Syria — which analysts say is a boon for US adversaries, Russia, ISIS, Iran, and the Syrian regime — was reportedly the last straw for Secretary Mattis. Kurds in Syria, US allies in Syria, are furious about the withdrawal, as they fear a Turkish incursion.

    "So I was sorry to learn that Secretary Mattis, who shares those clear principles, will soon depart the administration," McConnell continued.

    SEE ALSO: Defense Secretary James Mattis quits, says his views aren't 'aligned' with Trump as the president upends major US policies

    DON'T MISS: One striking image shows the Marine Corps generals who will have left the Trump administration, after the president praised their service

    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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