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The latest news from Business Insider

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    Hype around artificial intelligence has never been higher — and one industry where it has a chance to make a major impact on profits is retail.The Future of Retail 2018: Artificial Intelligence

    Business Insider Intelligence projects that AI will boost profitability in retail and wholesale by nearly 60% by 2035, setting off a wave of excitement and investment among companies.

    The areas where AI will have its biggest impact are personalization, search and chatbots.

    But as hype and misunderstanding continue to build, it’s become harder than ever to keep sight of the true disruptive potential of AI.

    Find out how AI is being implemented in these three areas and how each one can impact revenue in this new FREE slide deck from Business Insider Intelligence.

    In this third and final installment of the three-part Future of Retail 2018 series, Business Insider Intelligence takes a hard look at the retail use cases where AI can make an impact, explores noteworthy examples of retailers implementing the technology, and weighs the benefits of investing in AI today.

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

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

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Theresa May Cabinet

    LONDON — One of the big questions in British politics as we head into the New Year is whether 2019 will be Theresa May's last year as a prime minister — and if so, who will replace her?

    This month she claimed she would not lead the Conservatives into the next general election — scheduled to take place in 2022 — and there is chatter in Westminster that she could step down once Brexit divorce talks finish in March. 

    A number of leading Conservatives have already started strutting their feathers, knowing that they need to be popular with the Conservative party membership and MPs to have any chance of succeeding May as prime minister.

    In no particular order, here are the most likely candidates to inherit May's throne.

    Sajid Javid

    Sajid Javid

    Home Secretary Sajid Javid is the name on all lips in Westminster at the moment.

    Could he be the UK's first ever BAME prime minister? 

    The ex-banker has made his mark on the Home Office since replacing Amber Rudd as Home Secretary earlier this year. His eye-catching move to legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes was the first sign of his ambition, and since then he has become a key player in the Cabinet's Brexit discussions, often siding with Brexiteers on key issues.

    Javid reluctantly campaigned for Remain in the 2016 referendum and he knows that he must boost his pro-Brexit credentials in order to woo a Conservative party membership which is overwhelmingly Eurosceptic.

    Earlier this month he hosted a drinks reception with his Cabinet colleague, Andrea Leadsom, who we'll come onto later. It fuelled speculation that he was planning a leadership bid.

    Penny Mordaunt

    Penny Mordaunt

    Matching Javid's ambition is International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt.

    The MP for Portsmouth North has recently emerged as a favourite to succeed May amid her growing influence in Cabinet decision-making. This is particularly the case on Brexit, over which she has threatened to resign from the government. She campaigned for Leave and is popular with pro-Brexit Conservative MPs. 

    As Business Insider reported earlier this month, her Cabinet colleagues believe she is already laying the groundwork for a leadership pitch. In September, she penned a lengthy article explaining what she believes makes an effective leader. This was seen as a precursor for her inevitable leadership bid. 

    Jeremy Hunt

    Jeremy Hunt

    Few names on the list have as much Cabinet experience as Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

    The ex-health secretary is a seasoned government minister who is generally well-liked across Westminster. He has been particularly well-received by Foreign Office staff who were keen to see the back of his predecessor, Boris Johnson.

    Like Javid, he campaigned for Remain. And like Javid, he has said some Brexit-y stuff recently in what could be interpreted as an early pitch to the Conservative party's pro-Brexit membership.

    In October he raised eyebrows by comparing the EU to the Soviet Union. More recently, he insisted that the UK could "flourish and prosper" under a no deal Brexit. Quite the journey for someone who called for the UK to have a very close relationship with the EU and a second referendum immediately following the vote in 2016.

    Just a few days ago, he said he would like to "have a crack" at being prime minister.

    Jacob Rees-Mogg

    Jacob Rees-Mogg

    Jacob Rees-Mogg's lack of government experience (he has never served as a minister) and general divisiveness make him seem like an unlikely candidate to replace May as prime minister.

    However, perhaps similarly to Jeremy Corbyn's unlikely rise to the top of the Labour party, Rees-Mogg has captured the imagination of his party members. Like them, he is very pro-Brexit. In fact, he is the leader of the European Research Group of vehemently pro-Leave Conservative MPs who tried to oust May a few weeks ago.

    He is also an old-school Conservative who holds "traditional" Tory views, like opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. This goes down well with a Conservative party membership containing lots of people who think the party went too far to the left under the modernisation project of David Cameron.

    Given the rules of Conservative party leadership contests, in which MPs decide who the final two will be, the odds look to be stacked against Rees-Mogg. However, if the last few years have taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected.

    Amber Rudd

    Amber Rudd

    If you're a Conservative member and Rees-Mogg really isn't your thing — if you're an avid Remainer Anna Soubry, for example — then Work & Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd might just be your candidate.

    The MP for Hastings and Rye had a torrid summer when she was forced to resign as Home Secretary for misleading MPs after weeks of outrage about the Windrush scandal. However, since then, she has been fiercely loyal to May, and has quickly found her way back into government. She is also very well-respected by her ministerial colleagues.

    Rudd is also one of the few flag-bearers for Remain in Cabinet. Last week she said there was a "plausible" argument for another referendum and has been a staunch opponent of calls to leave the EU without a deal.

    Her very slim majority is an issue. At the last election, she won by just 346 votes, making her incredibly vulnerable the next time Brits go to the polls. Nevertheless, she'd be the first choice of many moderate Conservative MPs.

    Boris Johnson

    Boris Johnson

    The bookies' favourite to replace May, despite everything, is ex-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

    The last few years of Johnson's career have basically been one big pitch to be prime minister. Ever since his uncanny conversion from a mild Europhile into a staunch Brexiteer, he has had his eyes on 10 Downing Street.

    His performance as Foreign Secretary has hugely damaged his reputation among Conservative MPs who once upon a time would have considered backing him. His role in the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe saga had MPs on all sides calling for his sacking long before he eventually resigned. His claim that Libyan city of Sirte could be the new Dubai if they "clear the dead bodies away" was just one of many remarks that landed him in hot water. 

    Nevertheless, he remains incredibly popular with a significant number of Conservative party members. You only needed to see how many queued up to hear his speech at Tory conference in October to know that.

    This month he has been "ramping up" preparations for a leadership bid, his allies told Business Insider.

    Dominic Raab

    Dominic Raab

    An influential figure in Tory circles, who has been involved in previous leadership campaigns, told Business Insider this month that they believed former-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab would be the next prime minister.

    His resignation as Brexit Secretary earlier this year in protest against May's Brexit plans enhanced his popularity among pro-Brexit Conservative MPs and members. He is also someone from the party's new generation, and was tipped to go far long before being chosen to replace David Davis as Brexit Secretary.

    Andrea Leadsom

    angela leadsom

    Will House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom take a second bite of the cherry?

    She along with May got to the final two of the 2016 leadership contest and Conservative figures believe she would have won with the membership had she not been forced to drop out for remarks she made about May not being a mother.

    Last year, she refused to rule out another leadership bid in an interview with Business Insider, claiming: "Anything can happen." She is popular among the Brexiteers and her allies say she is one of the most influential figures in Cabinet.

    One ally recently told Business Insider that a Leadsom-Javid joint leadership bid would make a "dream ticket."

    Michael Gove

    Michael Gove

    You can't rule out Michael Gove.

    The Environment Secretary is widely regarded as one of the Conservative party's shrewdest operators, evidenced by his record of generating positive headlines for the numerous departments he has led. 

    And compared to most of his fellow Brexiteers, Gove is arguably more capable of winning the support of pro-Remain Conservatives. After all, avid Europhile Nicky Morgan backed him in 2016.

    Whether he is still popular with his pro-Brexit base is another question. His steadfast loyalty to May's Brexit plans when others have resigned has led some to question his commitment to the cause of delivering a 'proper' Brexit.

    David Davis

    David Davis

    Finally, we have David Davis. 

    Davis has been rejected by Conservative members in two previous leadership contests but the original Brexit Secretary will fancy one last run, given that is a champion of the clean Brexit that so many Tories members would like to see.

    Pro-Brexit Tory MPs also believe he is a much safer bet than someone like Johnson, given that he is less volatile and has the experience of being around the negotiating table with EU leaders during his time as Brexit Secretary.

    He has reportedly been getting into shape ahead of a leadership contest. He has lost one and a half stone, according to The Sunday Times, and reportedly told friends: "I do three or four miles. It's mostly sprinting."

    SEE ALSO: 5 things you need to know about Theresa May's plans for immigration after Brexit

    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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    trump impeachment protest

    • Markets are being driven by politics and hedge funds are already beginning to assess the risk that US President Donald Trump may face impeachment in 2019.
    • It's not the only risk on their radar, of course, and nor is it the most likely. But investors are talking about it as a possibility.
    • At least three Wall Street hedge funds are trying to assess how an impeachment might affect the markets.

    Investors have a lot to worry about in 2019 — there's the trade war with China, Federal Reserve policy, and oil prices to name a few.

    Recently, a new worry has cropped up: a possible Trump impeachment.

    At least three Wall Street hedge funds and asset managers have started talking about the possibility of the impeachment of US President Donald Trump as a potential market catalyst in 2019, according to people familiar with their thinking.

    It's an unwelcome development for hedge fund managers, who are finding it difficult to adjust their strategies to fit the increasingly uncertain political reality thanks to a soon-to-be Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. They can handle normal macro factors like central bank activity and trade tensions, but they view impeachment as a wild card — and it's thrown a wrench into their best-laid plans.

    "That's something you really can't model for," said Larry Newhook, the CEO of Alpha Innovations. The firm runs a managed account platform for institutions to access smaller strategies and funds.

    It's a relatively new market catalyst, coming after the midterms which saw Democrats win a majority in the House of Representatives and ever-present turmoil in the administration. In betting markets, the odds that Trump will be booted from office next year are shortening. After the midterms that saw Democrats flip the House and pick up dozens of seats, oddsmaker Bovada increased the likelihood of an impeachment, with a $100 bet on a Trump impeachment only paying out $125 compared to a $160 payout before November. Currently, the oddsmaker has a $100 impeachment bet paying out $150. 

    It's now also enough of a possibility to land on the radar of big investors.

    "Internally, we're talking about this because it's interesting, but if it gets more significant we will talk about it more," said one London-based asset manager at a Wall Street firm. "I'm not sure it's a market positive, but it may not be a market negative. And it will take a long time."

    Markets can react sharply to big geopolitical and global economic events, leading to big paydays for so-called "macro" investing strategies. A Trump impeachment would be behind other, more pressing macro risks next year, the asset manager said, such as, in order of magnitude: Fed policy, the US-China trade war, the "leveraged loan" boom, eurozone drama, emerging market turmoil and volatile oil prices. (The person added that Brexit is much higher on that list for UK-focused investors).

    Newhook said that even comparing it to Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998 wouldn't do much good because the market has changed so much in the years since.

    Correctly gauging price moves from geopolitical events can be incredibly profitable. Big macro funds like Jeffrey Talpins' Element Capital have posted stellar returns in a year when the average hedge fund through the end of November has declined 2%.

    But the last quarter of 2018 has been brutal for investors of all stripes — the average macro fund, according to data from Hedge Fund Research, lost 4.1% through November. Even one of the world's best macro traders, George Soros, is reportedly pulling back on the strategy. Soros Fund Management has cut its allocation to macro investments to $500 million compared to $3 billion last year.

    "All you can do is say 'Hey, do I want to be aggressive with my risk-taking or not?'" said Newhook, who was formerly the head of due diligence for hedge-fund giant Steve Cohen. "The one thing you don't want to be doing if you think impeachment is possible is be short volatility. The bottom line is that this is just another source of volatility."

    SEE ALSO: Goldman Sachs just dropped its annual Christmas crossword — see how many clues you can get

    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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    Angry Birds magic leap thumbs up

    • The gaming studio behind "Angry Birds" has made a version of the famous mobile game for mixed-reality headset Magic Leap.
    • I got to demo the game, and it was the perfect use of Magic Leap's tech.
    • I selected a spot on a real table, and up sprang the familiar setup of green pigs perched atop various combinations of blocks. Then you get to work knocking them down.
    • What's impressive is Rovio built "Angry Birds" having not seen the Magic Leap kit.

    If you love "Angry Birds," you will go wild for "Angry Birds" on Magic Leap.

    Rovio, the gaming studio behind the franchise, teamed up with VR/AR specialists Resolution Games to bring its original slingshot to the much-hyped mixed-reality headset.

    Magic Leap first revealed its long-awaited glasses in August, and they were met with some disappointment from critics.

    But having spent just 30 minutes with the game (which was released in October) at a demo in London, it is possibly the perfect application of Magic Leap's tech.

    Read more:Andy Serkis says Magic Leap has gone from a Frankenstein-like contraption to the future of storytelling

    When I first put the headset on, a field of white dots spread out, mapping the room. Then, I was invited to place the game wherever I wanted.

    I selected a spot on a table, and up sprang the familiar setup of green pigs perched atop various combinations of blocks. You then use a very simple slingshot mechanic to catapult the birds towards the pigs, as in the original mobile game.

    The game was extremely intuitive, and intensely addictive. I walked all around the table looking for the best angle. I also stooped in so close my nose was almost touching the pigs, who mocked me as I peered at them. As I moved around, a group of birds followed me around on the table, ready to be launched.

    Most amazing was probably the fact that when I accidentally overshot and saw a bird fly into the corridor and bounce off a chair. The fact that the kit had rendered that far was a moment of astonishment — although I was told that the tech still struggles with mirrors, as it confuses them for a window into another room.

    Blocks tumble off a table in Angry Birds Magic Leap

    Rovio's creative director of extended reality Sami Ronkainen told me that the after teaming up with Resolution in January, the studio batted around a few different ideas before settling on the classic slingshot game. "We had ideas like the pigs building stuff on structures, and maybe chasing the pigs around and all that kind of thing," he said.

    Flying Blind

    Ronkainen said Rovio opted for the more familiar slingshot mechanic because they had a short time-frame to make the game, and hadn't actually seen the Magic Leap kit yet.

    "We knew we would be working with hardware still in development, we couldn't be a hundred percent sure of the performance of it so we didn't want to rely on the 3D modelling working correctly all the time," he said.

    Without having seen the Magic Leap kit, Resolution had to develop the game itself using a VR simulation living room, CEO Tommy Palm told Business Insider. It took five engineers six months to build the game, and then in the summer they finally got their hands on an actual Magic Leap headset.

    "Three days later we had a running version of the game that actually worked," Palm said. He credited the fast turnaround to a "bit of luck" along with some "good estimations on what the hardware was capable of."

    Magic Leap One (Lightwear headset)

    Ronkainen is pleased with how the original idea for "Angry Birds" translated into mixed-reality. "I think what works really nicely is because the slingshot game is physics-based by nature, so then combining the game physics with the real-world physics works really natural," he said.

    For Rovio, taking "Angry Birds" onto Magic Leap is largely a research and development project. The Magic Leap headset currently costs $2,300, so people won't be playing the game en masse any time soon.

    Still, Rovio is ramping up its AR and VR ambitions. Last week, Rovio and Resolution revealed a new VR game in the franchise called "Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs." Should AR and VR headsets become a commercial reality, Rovio will be well prepared.

    SEE ALSO: $2.3 billion later, Magic Leap's futuristic headset has the same problem as Microsoft's HoloLens

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: I'm a diehard iPhone user who switched to Android for a week — here's what I loved and hated about the Google Pixel 3 XL


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    dandelyan negroni

    A bar on London's South Bank has been named the best in the world.

    The World's 50 Best Bars list, now in its 10th year, is based on the opinions of more than 500 drinks experts, who each cast seven votes.

    For 2018, the experts named Dandelyan, the bar of the Mondrian Hotel in London, the best in the world.

    The bar was created by the award-winning bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana, or "Mr. Lyan," the creator of the "Lyan" family of bars that includes Super Lyan, Cub, and White Lyan, which is now closed.

    Dandelyan, his oldest bar, is "inspired by the great botanists, fruit hunters, and bon vivants who brought back new tastes from foreign lands."

    Located in Sea Containers House right on the River Thames, Dandelyan offers some pretty stunning views — and its interior is just as impressive.

    However, there was one main thing that surprised me about the best bar in the world when I went to visit.

    Here's what it was like.

    SEE ALSO: The 50 best bars in the world in 2018

    Dandelyan, in the Mondrian Hotel on London's South Bank, was named the best bar in the world for 2018. Situated right on the River Thames, the bar boasts some pretty stunning views of sites like St. Paul's. Here's what it looks like when it's empty (and shot with a professional camera).



    And here's what it looked like when I visited on a Friday night. I was taken aback by the bar's location, right on the river path, meaning plenty of tourists and pedestrians walk by and look right in at you (or even come inside).



    The stylish interior has an art deco vibe, paying homage to the Sea Containers building the bar and hotel are in. The space, by the British designer Tom Dixon, is inspired partly by "the luxurious cruise liners of generations past" filled with luxe purples, pinks, greens, and golds.

    Source: Dandelyan



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Chuka Umunna Anna Soubry People's Vote

    • The People's Vote campaign is preparing for the key months ahead in its mission to stop Brexit in 2019.
    • The campaign expects two Conservative MPs, including a current minister, to join next month.
    • One of the campaign's leading groups has set up a unit for creating ads targeted at constituencies.
    • The unit — known as "Pod"— has strategists with experience of working for David Cameron and Barak Obama.
    • Theresa May has consistently ruled out another referendum.
    • However, with MPs almost certain to vote down her Brexit deal and time running out, many believe the prime minister may be left with no choice but to hold one.

    LONDON — The People's Vote campaign for a second Brexit referendum is on the brink of recruiting at least two Conservative MPs, including one government minister, as it prepares for a pivotal few months in its mission to stop the UK leaving the European Union.

    The campaign is gaining momentum amid increasing uncertainty over Brexit. The number of MPs behind it is growing and Theresa May is now a regular user of the term "People's Vote."

    "We live rent-free in the prime minister's head these days," one insider told Business Insider last week, while one of the group's senior figures said: "I'm chuffed ... it means we get coverage even when we don't do anything!"

    The only occasions May actually uses the term are to rule it out altogether. The prime minister is completely against another referendum. She even felt compelled to use a House of Commons statement to attack the idea last week.

    Nevertheless, the People's Vote campaign — which brings together a host of anti-Brexit groups — is increasingly confident that bereft of other options, May will use another vote to break the current parliamentary stalemate.

    A senior campaign figure told Business Insider this week that at least two more Conservative MPs would declare their support next month. The pair is set to be a current government minister and an MP from the backbenches.

    They will follow in the footsteps of ex-transport minister Jo Johnson and former universities and science minister Sam Gyimah, who both quit the government to back a People's Vote over the last few weeks.

    Jo Johnson Gary Lineker

    The former in particular caused ripples in Westminster, taking to a stage with the unlikely pro-Remain hero and former footballer Gary Lineker at a People's Vote rally across the road from the Houses of Parliament in November.

    Johnson's announcement and subsequent public appearance caught even some within the People's Vote campaign by surprise. An insider revealed how Johnson, brother of ex-Foreign Secretary and staunch Brexiteer Boris, did not want to be interviewed by a political journalist at the event because he felt it would be" too formal," leading to a mad rush to find a suitable alternative.

    "We didn't know Lineker was confirmed until we picked him up from the station 40 minutes beforehand," they said.

    Project 'Pod'

    Plenty is happening behind the scenes, too.

    Best For Britain, one of the most high-profile groups under the People's Vote umbrella, has assembled a team of seasoned political campaigners who will spend the next few weeks creating ads targeted at specific constituencies.

    The unit, known internally as "Pod," contains three former Labour Party employees and two who used to work for the Conservatives. The unit's staff have experience running campaigns for former US President Barack Obama, and David Cameron.

    READ MORE: Leading Brexiteer tipped to replace Theresa May accused of 'hypocrisy and dishonesty' by Cabinet rivals

    "Pod" has already started producing anti-Brexit adverts tailored for a total of 74 constituencies. Some seats are represented by Conservative MPs who backed Remain but do not support a People's Vote, like Nicky Morgan and George Freeman, and Labour MPs who fall under the same category, like Lisa Nandy and Hilary Benn.

    For example, for Crewe and Nantwich which marginally voted Leave in 2016, the unit has made an ad which says: "Where will our 1,073 farmers around Crewe be without the £15 million EU support they need?

    "I want a final say. Tell your MP we don't need to miss out."

    Crewe & Nantwich is represented by Labour MP Laura Smith.

    The Hastings & Rye seat represented by Work & Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd is also on the list. Rudd made headlines last week when she said they could be a "plausible argument" for another Brexit referendum.

    Amber Rudd

    Best For Britain has also commissioned constituency-level polling in order to put pressure on Labour MPs to support a People's Vote. The aim is to pressure MPs into backing a referendum if, or when, May's deal is voted down by MPs next month. 

    "They are the key seats we think their MPs are vital to the debate," a senior campaign source said.

    These include seats like Brexit-voting Stoke-in-Trent Central, represented by Labour's Gareth Snell.

    There is a strong belief among People's Vote campaigners that the key to another referendum lies is securing the backing of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who currently won't commit to anything beyond simply keeping it "on the table."

    As part of the People's Vote campaign's efforts to improve relations with the official opposition, it has developed a close working relationship with anti-racism group, Hope Not Hate. Corbyn ally Samuel Tarry is one of the group's community organisers and provides a potential new route into the Labour leader's office.

    A so-called People's Vote has gone from a pipe dream to a very real prospect in just a few months. Downing Street figures privately predict that another referendum will come to pass — no matter how much they don't want it.

    However, campaigners know that cannot afford to rest on their laurels, as the most crucial months lie ahead of them.

    DON'T MISS: Exclusive: The government's post-Brexit immigration plans are 'skewed', vague and risk severe staff shortages, industry leaders warn

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: I'm a diehard iPhone user who switched to Android for a week — here's what I loved and hated about the Google Pixel 3 XL


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    mark cuban vacation home

    • Mark Cuban just bought a $19 million beachfront mansion in California to use as a vacation home. 
    • The Laguna Beach villa is part of an exclusive community that gives residents access to hotel amenities that include a concierge, room service, housekeeping, and a spa.
    • The modern, six-bedroom home includes walls that disappear to open up to the outdoor space and private pool.

     

    A $19 million beachfront California mansion just sold to Mark Cuban, billionaire investor and "Shark Tank" star.

    Cuban bought the villa as a vacation home, according to Villa Real Estate. Agent John Stanaland, who sold the house to Cuban last week, said it was the highest sale in Laguna Beach's exclusive Montage Residences community in 2018. Cuban will have access to Montage's hotel amenities, including a concierge, room service, housekeeping, and spa.

    Take a look inside the ultra-modern and luxurious 3 Montage Way, Cuban's new vacation spot.

    SEE ALSO: A billionaire movie producer is selling a one-bedroom apartment that takes up an entire floor of NYC's Ritz-Carlton for nearly $40 million

    DON'T MISS: This $245 million Los Angeles mansion is the most expensive home for sale in the US — and it costs 960 times more than a typical US home

    Mark Cuban just bought a California vacation home in Laguna Beach for $19 million.

    Source: Villa Real Estate



    It's part of an exclusive oceanfront community called Montage Residences, where residents can access hotel amenities that include the concierge, room service, housekeeping, and a spa.

    Source: Villa Real Estate



    The home has 7,867 square feet of living space, decorated in an airy and bright California style.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    donald trump

    President Donald Trump is no stranger to Twitter. He's been a prolific tweeter since 2009 and attracted attention for using the platform to lob insults at former President Barack Obama, suggest global warming was a hoax created by the Chinese, and criticize his detractors.

    While Trump's life has changed significantly since he became president, his Twitter habits haven't.

    Now, he uses it to announce new policies, slam his critics, complain about the Russia investigation, promote business for himself and his supporters, and everything in between. Most recently, he's taken to Twitter to pressure lawmakers to cave to his demands for a border wall and increased border security.

    The website socialbearing.com analyzes the engagement reach of each Trump tweet and according to its data, 9 tweets stood out above the rest in 2018.

    Here are the 9 most engaged Trump tweets of 2018:

    SEE ALSO: From 'very stable genius' to 'very legal & very cool': Here are 32 very real things Trump tweeted in 2018

    SEE ALSO: The most disparaging nicknames Trump used for his political enemies and former allies in 2018

    Trump's most engaged tweet of 2018 is one where he wished everyone a Merry Christmas.

     



    Earlier this month, Trump took to Twitter to criticize Democrats for not caving to his demands for a wall across the US-Mexico border.

     



    On Christmas, the president said he hoped everyone, "even the Fake News Media," had a great day.

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    parent and child worried

    • American parents today are spending more time, effort, and money raising their kids than previous generations, according to a New York Times story.
    • They're motivated by ensuring their children are better off — or at least not worse off — financially than they are.
    • Those born in the 1980s are at the greatest risk of becoming a "lost generation" for wealth accumulation, according to an earlier report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

    Most parents today share at least one common goal: They want to give their kid a better life than they had.

    Part of that is ensuring their children end up better off financially, and it's led to a new brand of "intensive parenting" in America, according to a recent story in the New York Times.

    "Over just a couple of generations, parents have greatly increased the amount of time, attention, and money they put into raising children. Mothers who juggle jobs outside the home spend just as much time tending their children as stay-at-home mothers did in the 1970s," wrote Times reporter Claire Cain Miller.

    "For parents, giving children the best start in life has come to mean doing everything they can to ensure that their children can climb to a higher class, or at least not fall out of the one they were born into," she wrote.

    The average cost of a raising a child to age 18 today tops $230,000, according to a Merrill Lynch report. But the spending doesn't stop there — the bank also found that 79% of parents continue to provide financial support to their adult children, contributing to an estimated $500 billion annually.

    A survey by The New York Times published earlier this year revealed finances are a main reason why people aren't having kids or are having fewer kids than they considered ideal, reported Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz.

    Read more: Young people today are having fewer babies than older generations because kids are just too expensive

    Social scientists who spoke to the Times said the ubiquity of "intensive parenting" boils down to the fact that the American Dream — the idea that upward mobility is available to anyone — is becoming harder to grasp.

    "For the first time, it's as likely as not that American children will be less prosperous than their parents," Cain Miller wrote. Parents feel they need to invest as much as they can into their kids' education and extracurriculars to set them up for success. But for those who don't have the means to do so, it leads to heightened anxiety.

    'Intensive parenting' is now the most popular way to raise kids, regardless of income, education, or race

    Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland who studies families and inequality, told the Times: "As the gap between rich and poor increases, the cost of screwing up increases." Parents are fearful about not doing enough to give their kid an advantage in life, he added.

    "Intensive parenting" has been a staple of white, upper-middle-class households in the US since the 1990s, Cain Miller wrote — think: quality time, expensive music lessons, club sports, private school, and tutors.

    Read more: It takes $1.7 million to get your kid into an elite college, according to rich people

    Patrick Ishizuka, a postdoctoral fellow studying gender and inequality at Cornell, surveyed a group of 3,642 American parents about parenting and found that regardless of their education, income, or race, parents said "the most hands-on and expensive choices were best," Cain Miller wrote.

    "Intensive parenting has really become the dominant cultural model for how children should be raised," Ishizuka told the Times.

    There's also an element of competition, or "keeping up with the Joneses" that entices parents to spend more money on their kids. According to the Merrill Lynch report, costs for food, clothing, technology, entertainment, school, transportation, sports, and other activities, typically increase as children grow older, but they're often higher than they should be — 69% of parents surveyed admitted to feeling pressured to give their children what their peers have.

    Americans born in the 1980s have seen first-hand the demise of upward mobility thanks to the Great Recession, Business Insider's Hillary Hoffower previously reported. Those older millennials are at the greatest risk of becoming a "lost generation" for wealth accumulation, according to a report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis earlier this year.

    Read the full New York Times story »

    SEE ALSO: Millennials are so anxious that they're paying coaches and taking courses to help them decide whether to have kids

    DON'T MISS: Rich parents are paying millions to be able to walk their kids to school

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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.

    Smart speakers in shoppingConsumers are finally starting to adopt smart home devices, with nearly 60% owning at least one device. This presents an opportunity for e-commerce companies to enter the smart home and encourage purchasing through the devices.

    The smart speaker has become the face of the smart home in many ways, attracting the lion’s share of attention as companies look for ways to take advantage of the growing platform. But there’s a problem: Consumers aren’t using the smart speaker to actually buy products very often.

    Instead, one of the clearest opportunities outside of the smart speaker is home goods and grocery replenishment through large appliances. Smart devices in the home — especially appliances — can take advantage of built-in sensors to either tell consumers when they need to buy more of a product, or make that purchase autonomously. This will create an opportunity for appliance manufacturers, e-commerce vendors, and product suppliers to ink supply agreements to meet consumers' needs.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence examines several areas of opportunity for e-commerce companies to leverage smart home technologies to provide new and better services to their customers. First, we explore how smart appliances, including connected dishwashers and laundry machines, are building on one-click purchasing systems to enable automated replenishment. We then discuss the smart fridge and detail how apps, cameras, and voice assistants are enabling takeout and grocery delivery through these appliances. Finally, we examine the role of the voice interface beyond smart speakers as it relates to purchasing products in the home, and how omnipresent voice will be used to organize and interact with automated services.

    The companies mentioned in this report are: Amazon, Blue Apron, Costo, GE, Google, Instacart, Keurig, KitchenAid, LG, Ocado, P&G, Plated, Reynolds, Samsung, Target, Walmart, Whirlpool.

     Here are some key takeaways from the report:

    • Companies have a clear opportunity to leverage sensors, cameras, and connectivity in a variety of home appliances to revolutionize the way consumers buy home goods.
    • Smart appliance manufacturers, e-tailers, and CPG companies will be able to collaborate and partner to develop new methods of resupplying consumers' homes.
    • The smart fridge will transform into the hub of the kitchen and become the autonomous organizing device that oversees grocery purchasing and food delivery.

    In full, the report:

    • Provides an overview of the key players and types of products in the smart appliance space.
    • Highlights the models that companies can adopt to take advantage of the developing sector.
    • Identifies the key services that will boost automated e-commerce engagement in the home.

     

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    A trader works at his desk ahead of the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), December 17, 2018 in New York City.


    Stocks staged a recovery Wednesday as Wall Street attempted to shake off four sessions of sharp declines that led major US indexes to near bear-market territory.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 5%, or more than 1,000 points, and recorded the largest daily point gain in its history. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 climbed 4.9%. Both have recently flirted with bear territory, defined as a drop of more than 20% from recent highs. The major averages were closed for the holiday Tuesday, a day after posting their worst Christmas Eve on record.

    Technology stocks rebounded, with the Nasdaq Composite surging about 5.8%. Amazon (+9.45%) was among the biggest gainers after the e-commerce giant reported a "record-breaking season."

    Oil prices also recovered, erasing Monday’s steep losses and sending the S&P 500 energy sector 5.3% higher. West Texas Intermediate gained nearly 10% to trade around $46.60 a barrel, and Brent rose 9% to just below $55. Prices are still deep in a bear market, down more than 40% from their October peaks.

    Political turmoil this week has added to concerns about a cocktail of factors — including slowing growth, trade tensions, and more expensive refinancing after years of stimulus — that have weighed on global markets in recent months.

    A partial shutdown of the federal government entered its fifth day on Wednesday as President Donald Trump pressed forward with demands for funding his long-promised wall along the southern border.

    The president has also been lashing out at federal officials in recent days, including Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and now-former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit last week after Trump announced plans to withdraw troops from Syria.

    In an attempt to shore up confidence in financial markets, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced on Sunday he held calls with bank executives about market stability. Markets continued to dive even after Mnuchin said the largest banks had ample credit available to lend, however, and analysts suspected the move may have backfired.

    "Although his intention was a very good one, the net feeling I think was, 'Is there a bigger problem that we don’t know about?'" J.J. Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago, told Reuters.

    Still, Oppenheimer Asset Management strategist John Stoltzfus noted while recent political and economic developments are worthy of concern, he doesn't see the end of the bull market just yet.

    "Putting the recent equity market declines into historical context lessens their sting and points toward opportunities on the market landscape," he said.

    SEE ALSO: Amazon reveals the top-selling items of the season as it announces record-breaking holiday sales

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The equity chief at $6.3 trillion BlackRock weighs in on the trade war, a possible recession, and offers her best investing advice for a tricky 2019 landscape


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    trader surprised skeptical

    • The volatile stock markets likely have investors on edge. Many are worried that a recession is imminent.
    • But Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Baird Equity Research, is optimistic that the recent sell-off in the markets represents just a correction, not a sign of an economic downturn.
    • If so, that could be a good sign for tech stocks; they've tended to post strong gains in rebounds after corrections, according to Sebastian's data.
    • But some stocks have done better than others, and Sebastian has three suggestions on which to pick.

    With the stock markets facing turbulent times, many investors are likely wondering where to invest.

    Colin Sebastian has some suggestions.

    Although talk of recession is increasingly in the air, Sebastian, a financial analyst who covers internet and technology stocks for Baird Equity Research, is betting that the stock sell-off in recent months is simply a market correction, not the advent of an economic downturn. If that's the case, the internet and video-game software sectors should be poised for a big rebound, he said.

    "We think it is reasonable to consider a more optimistic outcome" than a recession, Sebastian said in a research report issued Wednesday.

    Colin Sebastian, a financial analyst with Baird Equity Research, in an appearance on CNBC on December 11, 2018.That would have been a remarkable statement after the huge sell-off investors saw in recent weeks and have seen in recent months. But given the market's rebound on Wednesday, he may be onto something.

    To figure out what investors could expect in the case of a rebound, and where they should place their bets, Sebastian took a look at how the companies he follows performed after the four most recent market corrections.

    On average, the internet companies he covers saw their stocks rise 11% in the six months after those corrections. The video-game companies did slightly better, rising 12%.

    But those averages mask a lot of variation among the different companies.

    Among the 15 companies he studied, just three traded higher six months after each of the four corrections on which he focused: Google parent Alphabet, Facebook, and Activision Blizzard. All three were also the best performers when it came to volatility — they each posted the lowest variance from their average price during those rebound periods.

    But that doesn't mean he thinks each one of those companies is a good bet this time around. Here are his picks:

    SEE ALSO: A longtime investor shares his 3 picks for tech stocks to bet on in these tough times for the market

    Alphabet

    Alphabet's stock hasn't been seen a huge bounce back in recent corrections. On average, it was up just 9% over the six-month periods.

    But it was one of only three companies in Sebastian's coverage area that showed a positive return in each of the four rebounds. And it gave investors less cause for stress than other stocks; its standard-deviation figure, which measures how much a stock varies from its average price, was just 0.05, which was the lowest among the stocks he covers.

    Sebastian has an overweight rating on Alphabet's shares and a $1,380 price target. In afternoon trading on Wednesday, its stock was at $1,023.92 a share.



    Activision Blizzard

    Like Alphabet, video-game publishing giant Activision Blizzard posted a positive return in each of the last four rebound periods, according to Sebastian's data. But it saw a much stronger bounce than Google's parent.

    On average, Activision's stock was trading 19.4% higher six months after the correction. But with that stronger performance came more volatility. Its standard-deviation figure was 0.09 — nearly double Google's.

    Sebastian has an overweight rating on Activision and a target price of $85. In recent trading, its stock was at $45.65.



    Amazon

    Amazon actually isn't in the select group of companies that showed positive returns in the six months after each of the most recent corrections. And its volatility in those periods has been much higher than most of the other stocks Sebastian covers; its standard-deviation figure for the rebounds was 0.24.

    But Sebastian thinks it's a great bet anyway. In his universe of stocks, Amazon had the highest average return over those four rebound periods. Its mean six-month rebound was 30.1%.

    Sebastian has an overweight rating on Amazon and a target price of $2,100. In afternoon trading, its stock was at $1,437.91.



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    President Trump Melania visit troops Christmas Iraq selfie

    • President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump made a surprise visit to US troops in Iraq on Wednesday — a first after nearly two years in office.
    • The visit to the al-Asad air base just west of Baghdad, comes a day after Christmas and a week after major military shake-ups within the Trump administration.
    • Trump, despite claiming that he has done more for the military than other presidents, has been criticized for not only his policies, but also for not visiting Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day this year.
    • The Trumps will make two stops in Iraq visiting over 5,000 troops, according to The New York Times.
    • See photos of the Trumps' visit below.

    President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump made a surprise visit to US troops in Iraq on Wednesday — a first after nearly two years in office.

    The visit to the al-Asad air base just west of Baghdad, comes a day after Christmas and a week after major military shake-ups within the Trump administration.

    One week ago, Trump announced he was pulling roughly 2,000 US troops out of Syria. The following day Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired four star Marine Corps general, resigned from his post over the decision with a scathing letter, rebuking much of Trump's "America First" foreign policy.

    It was also reported last week that Trump would withdraw half of the 14,000 US troops from Afghanistan. On Saturday, Brett McGurk, the US envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIS, who was reportedly scheduled to retire in February, resigned early saying that he could not execute Trump's Syria strategy.

    Trump, despite claiming that he has done more for the military than other presidents, has been criticized for not only his policies (even by lawmakers who are often allies), but also for not visiting Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day.

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted about the president's visit.

    "President Trump and the First Lady traveled to Iraq late on Christmas night to visit with our troops and Senior Military leadership to thank them for their service, their success, and their sacrifice and to wish them a Merry Christmas," Sanders said.

    The Trumps will make two stops in Iraq visiting over 5,000 troops, according to The New York Times. See photos of the visit below:

    SEE ALSO: Trump says he has 'no plans at all' to withdraw US troops from Iraq during his first visit to troops in a combat zone

    The president and first lady meet with military leaders at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq

    SOURCE: Reuters



    The trip to Iraq was Trump's first visit to a combat zone during his nearly two years in office.

    SOURCE: Business Insider



    Trump will make two stops, delivering a message to over 5,000 troops.

    SOURCE: The New York Times



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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

    mobile banking with a credit card

    • Many online banks offer checking accounts with lower ongoing costs and better rates than you'd find at a traditional "brick-and-mortar" bank.
    • Some online banks even offer a sign-up bonus for consumers who open a new checking account and meet certain requirements.
    • Make sure to compare accounts in terms of their benefits, fees, and functions before you sign up.

    If you're in the market for a new checking account because your current one has let you down, you may be inclined to sign up with another bank down the street. You're already familiar with the company and you may even drive by one of their branches every day, so why not choose a local bank for your checking and savings needs?

    There's nothing wrong with that, but you may want to cast a wider net when comparing checking account options. Thanks to the internet, it's easier than ever to research different banks to see how they stack up in terms of their amenities and account holder perks. You may even find that an online bank suits your needs better than the bank down the street.

    Online account offers from our partners:

    Why should you bank online?

    Online banking is just as safe as traditional banking since your deposits are FDIC-insured. Plus, many online banks can offer checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs, and money market accounts at a lower cost than their competitors. Without brick-and-mortar buildings to care for, they can afford to offer higher interest rates than you can find elsewhere as well.

    Plus, online banks may offer more online banking options than traditional banks, including a web-based interface that allows you to monitor your account, send payments, and balance your monthly budget.

    It may seem weird to switch to an online bank — especially at first, but you can rest assured that your money is safe and secure. Most online banks also offer online chat and phone-based customer service reps that can help you any time of the day or night. While this may not feel the same as heading to your local branch when you have a question, you will ultimately get the help you need.

    5 steps to find the bests online checking account

    If you're ready to consider an online bank for your checking needs, it's important to compare each offer at face value. Here are the five steps you should take as you compare online checking accounts to find the best option for your checking needs.

    Consider bonus offers

    As you compare online checking accounts, you'll probably notice that quite a few banks offer sign-up bonuses when you open an account. These bonus offers can be rather lucrative provided you are able to meet the requirements to qualify.

    For example, one bank may offer a $200 bonus for people who open a new checking account and make at least one qualifying direct deposit of $500 or more within 60 days. Another bank might offer $300 when someone opens a new account and receives direct deposits of $2,500 or more within the first 60 days.

    Look at ongoing interest rates

    While an initial signup bonus is always intriguing, you will also want to consider your new account's interest rate if you plan to keep large sums of money in the account. While many banks save their best interest rates for savings accounts instead of checking accounts, it's possible to find online banks with a decent rate of return.

    As an example online bank accounts routinely offer annual percentage yields (APY) of 1.25%–2.02% or even more. 

    If you have a lot of money saved up, also keep in mind that you could stash some of your cash in an online savings account while keeping the rest in checking. 

    Compare fees

    Once you've compared sign-up bonuses and interest rates, you'll want to dive a little deeper to learn about any banking fees. While many online banks offer checking accounts with no fees, you'll still want to find out about any fees for paper checks, account maintenance fees, or ATM access.

    If a bank does offer a network of free ATMs, you should also check to see how many are available and whether any are located close to where you live. Alternatively, you'll want to make sure ATM fees for out-of-network access are waived or reimbursed.

    Finally, make sure any checking or savings account you're considering doesn't have any minimum balance requirements that would preclude you from receiving your sign-up bonus or the maximum APY they offer.

    Look at all the perks

    When it comes to online checking accounts, you should also make sure they offer the amenities and functionality your lifestyle requires. Generally speaking, you should look for an online checking account that offers 24/7 online account management, free online banking, free online bill pay, and mobile deposits at the very least.

    Find out how difficult (or easy) it is for you to transfer money into or out of your new account, and whether the bank has a mobile app. Hint: Most online banks do!

    Choose a checking account with the right combination of functionality and benefits

    Once you've taken a closer look at the online checking accounts available, it's time to select an option that offers the benefits and abilities you require. While there are many factors to consider, you should choose an account with low ongoing costs and a selection of tools that make banking easier over all.

    While you may feel more comfortable with a bank you already know and trust, it's probably time to ditch your local bank in favor of an online bank with better rates and more perks. Some online banks may be smaller and less recognizable, but their advantages are hard to deny.

    Online account offers from our partners:

    Click here for all of our personal finance coverage.

    SEE ALSO: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and perks

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    Digit app

    • The personal finance app Digit saves money automatically for you.
    • For a monthly fee of $2.99, you get free bank transfer notifications, a 1% annual bonus, and low-balance protection.
    • Here, author Jackie Lam details how she saved over $20,000 through Digit in nearly three years.

    While many of us know full well that we should be saving our money, it can be easy to reach zero — or darn close to it — by month's end. After all, there are bills to pay, food to put on the table, and other financial obligations that get in the way of saving up for emergencies, vacation, or holiday spending.

    But what about squirreling away your hard-earned cash without having to think about it?

    That's where Digit comes in. As a money-app junkie, I've checked out my fair share of apps to help me with my finances. And the one that tops my list to help save money is Digit.

    The company charges users $2.99 a month, a relatively small fee that features many potential benefits. Since I signed up for the app in March 2016, I've easily saved over $20,000 through it.

    Here's how the Digit app has helped me save:

    How Digit works

    Digit is a super easy, no-brainer way to stash away cash. When you sign up, all you need to do is link your Digit account to your checking account. From there, Digit handles the rest. It uses algorithms to learn about your spending patterns, and about how much you can reasonably save. These algorithms are primarily influenced by your checking account balance, upcoming income, upcoming bills, and recent spending. It saves money for you when you can afford to, and hits the "pause" button when you can't.

    Because Digit keeps your money socked away in a separate account, I conveniently forget I have that money stashed away. This "set-it-and-forget-it" approach prevents me from being tempted to tap into my Digit account. Plus, because it generally takes a few days to transfer funds back into your account, I use it for only big-ticket items and emergencies.

    The handful of times I have pulled money from my savings were to help me pay a credit card balance, to take a trip, and buy a new laptop when mine broke down while traveling.  

    How much you can expect to save

    Your savings will depend on a number of variables, such as how much money you keep in your checking account, and what your spending and saving patterns are. According to Digit's website, the average user sees an average of 2 to 3 transfers per week. The company has said that its average savings transfer is $18, but can be anywhere from $5 to $30. If you're saving $10 a week, that's $520 a year.

    How did I manage to save over $20,000 in three years' time? While you can set up a savings schedule or manually transfer funds into different goals, I saved entirely through Digit's auto-saving feature.

    How much I saved depended on how much of a cushion I had in my linked account. As a freelancer, my income fluctuates. And I saved anywhere from $40 to $3,500 in a single point. But on average, I was able to save roughly $600 a month through the app.

    It helped me stay on top of my spending

    digit app

    Another of Digit's features that I love is the daily text I receive from it. These let me know how much money is in my bank account. Plus, the app sends me friendly "heads up" texts when money is being transferred among my bank accounts and notifications of recent transactions. I can also keep tabs on my savings, see when a check has cleared, and create new personal goals through the app.

    Read more:11 financial experts reveal their favorite money apps

    Saving for specific goals

    Like any solid money-management app, Digit allows you to set up different money goals. Pre-designed goals include saving for an emergency cushion, crushing credit-card debt, paying off student loans, setting up a travel fund, or splurging on gifts guilt-free. You can also come up with your own savings goals. To up the fun factor, you can assign an emoji to each goal.

    I've set up a few goals, such as traveling to a wedding in Florida (used the "bunny" emoji) and a work conference (assigned the "ghost" emoji). But I've generally socked everything away in a Rainy Day Fund, which is Digit's default account. I wanted to use Digit as a general savings fund. I've made withdrawals for trips, to help with my down payment for a new car, to get through the holidays, and to add a cushion to my checking account.

    Noteworthy features

    digit app

    Besides setting your savings on auto-pilot and providing a separate account to safely stow your money away for important money goals, here are some of my favorite features of the app:

    • Annual bonus: Digit throws in a 1% annual bonus, which is paid out quarterly at 0.25%. So let's say you have $4,000 in your account. Doing basic math, $4,000 multiplied by 1% and divided by four equals $10. That's enough to cover an annual subscription to Digit, and then some.
    • Low balance protection: Digit's low balance protection helps you avoid running dangerously low in funds in your checking account and having to pay a hefty overdraft fee. If you turn on this nifty feature, you can then set an amount for how money you want to keep in your bank.

    If your checking falls below that amount, Digit will automatically transfer some cash from your Rainy Day Fund to top it off. For instance, let's say you set that number at $200, and your balance falls to $150. Digit will then send $50 to your checking account.

    A few downsides

    • Information on the app is limited. You can check how much you have saved, your transactions from the last month, the balance amount in linked checking account, and the countdown to your next bonus. For everything else, such as your savings journal (aka transactions history) and statements, you'll need to log on from a computer.
    • You might get an overdraft. While Digit does its best to prevent this, the peril of microtransfer apps or any banking feature that rounds up your transactions is that you may overdraft. The good news is that Digit does reimburse up to two overdraft fees caused by its auto-saving feature.
    • If you change your linked account, you have to transfer all your funds. If you decide to change your linked checking account, you'll need to go through the hassle of transferring all your funds into that linked account, link the new account, then transfer the funds manually through your new account. You can also have a check issued to you. The good news? You'll only need to go through the rigmarole once.

    SEE ALSO: 5 signs you're probably not part of the middle class

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Obi Wan Kenobi portrait hanging on Ryan Buchanan's parents' wall.

    • Ryan Buchanan decided to prank his parents, Mike and Rashelle, with a Christmas gift this year. 
    • He told them it was a portrait of Jesus, when really the painting he gave them was of Ewan McGregor's character Obi-Wan Kenobi from the "Star Wars" films.
    • When Buchanan spoke to INSIDER, he had admitted the prank to his dad, but his mother still didn't know the painting wasn't of Jesus. 

    A Utah man gave his parents a portrait of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi for Christmas, and his mother hung it on her wall thinking it was Jesus.

    Ryan Buchanan shared video of the prank on YouTube, in which his parents unwrap their Christmas gift and find a framed portrait of McGregor's character from the "Star Wars" films.

    He also shared a picture of the portrait hanging on his parents' wall on Reddit, with the caption: "I've made a huge mistake. Mom loves her Jesus Christmas present and I’m not sure how to get out of this thing alive when she figures it all out."

    Buchanan told INSIDER via email that his parents, who are active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are passive movie watchers who may have seen him watch "Star Wars" growing up, but likely hadn't seen the full films themselves.

    He said there have always been paintings of Jesus in his childhood home, so he figured gifting another portrait would be the perfect time to play a prank on his parents, Mike and Rashelle.

    Buchanan was inspired by another Reddit user, u/kwar42, who made a joke that Obi-Wan looked like Jesus several years ago.

    "It stuck out to me as looking like a picture we had growing up of Jesus," Buchanan told INSIDER. "I kind of chased that thought to, how funny would it be if my parents didn't recognize who it was and actually hung it up on the wall. I have always tried to get away with things or pull some pranks on my family members and this seemed perfect."

    Read more:An 'evil genius' tricked her dad with a Christmas prank 2 years in the making, and the internet can't stop laughing

    Video of his parents opening the gift show them admiring the portrait and showing it to family members.

    But now that Buchanan's post has gone viral, he knows that he has a limited time until his parents find out that the painting was a joke.

    His parents, in fact, had already noticed something was a bit strange.

    "He said that this morning they walked past it and my mother said something along the lines of 'there is something off about that Jesus picture. I’m not totally sure I like it,'" Buchanan recalled. "Which went hand in hand with what she looked like as she opened it. She knew something was off but wasn't sure what. My dad kind of hung around saying it looked really familiar to him. He said "it almost looks like Obi-wan Kenobi." But figured it was just coincidence.”

    Now that the post is going viral, Buchanan decided to give his dad a heads up — and now his dad can't stop laughing.

    "As of now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed, mom doesn’t know. Still working on my exit plan there," Buchanan joked.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    scale

    • Following a low-carb diet means consuming little to no carbohydrates, which in turn increases the number of fats and proteins you'll consume in your diet.
    • Not eating enough or eating too much are two reasons you may be struggling to lose weight on a low-carb diet.
    • Falling for the low-carb or sugar-free labels, or setting unrealistic expectations for yourself may be why you're struggling to lose weight on a low-carb diet.

    Few things are quite as complex as weight loss and it doesn't help that so many people have preconceived notions of what it takes to lose weight and keep the weight off. But despite all that we may feel like we know about losing weight, we don't always have all the facts, especially when it comes to popular diets like the low-carb diet.

    Maybe you've been giving the low-carb diet some thought, or maybe you've been sticking with it for months with little results.

    Either way, there are several reasons you're not losing weight on a low-carb diet, and we've nailed down a few of the most popular causes.

     

    You aren't eating enough.

    For many people, when we're trying to lose weight, the answer seems obvious: Eat less. Less food means less calories, which in turn means less weight, right? But that's not always true. Depending on what you're eating, it's very possible that even if, for example, you skip a meal, you're still making up those calories via snacks or other meals. Further, when your body isn't getting enough calories, it can go into starvation mode. 

    Amy Shapiro, M.S., R.D., and founder of Real Nutrition NYC told Women's Health, "When you're not eating enough, you can send your body into starvation mode. Your metabolism slows down because it doesn't know where its next round of calories is coming from."

     



    You're eating too many calories.

    Regardless of what you're eating, if you're eating more calories than you need, you'll gain weight. You'll also struggle to lose weight if you are not creating a healthy caloric deficit by exercising to burn calories and decreasing your intake to create a total deficit of about 500 less calories per day than you need and/or were consuming before.

    According to Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, CEO of Diet Doctor, "The magic trick for effective weight loss on low carb is to eat ONLY when hungry, try not to eat unless you're hungry, as that will slow weight loss." He goes on to add that "you can get at least as good results with less effort by eating only when hungry and if necessary add intermittent fasting."

     



    Your expectations are unrealistic.

    With any diet, it's important to be realistic with your expectations, as expecting a miracle to happen overnight can only lead to disappointment. 

    Jennifer Ventrelle, M.S., R.D., and lifestyle program director for the Rush University Prevention Center, noted, with rapid weight loss due to low-carb dieting, "The number on the scale is lower, and admittedly you look thinner because your belly also tends to retain more water when you eat carbohydrates."

    She goes on to ultimately attribute temporary weight loss to being "intramuscularly dehydrated," more simply meaning the weight that is lost is due to carrying less water weight in the muscles.



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    reid hoffman

    • Silicon Valley venture capitalist Reid Hoffman apologized Wednesday following reports that he donated $750,000 to a group linked to a project which used misinformation tactics on social media during the 2017 Alabama special election.
    • Hoffman, a vocal Democratic supporter, said he wasn't aware of the group's misinformation project.
    • The project involved creating a Facebook page aimed at conservative Alabamians as part of an effort to divide the party.

    Linkedin co-founder and Greylock Partner's investor Reid Hoffman apologized Wednesday for funding a group linked to a misinformation campaign during Alabama's 2017 special election for the US Senate.

    It was the first time that Hoffman, a prominent Silicon Valley billionaire, acknowledged his donation to the group, called American Engagement Technologies, or AET.

    AET allegedly funded another project, called New Knowledge, which used social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to boost support for Democrat Doug Jones in his ultimately successful campaign against Republican Roy Moore.

    Hoffman donated $750,000 to AET, according to the Washington Post, who first reported Hoffman's statement Wednesday.

    Hoffman, a vocal democratic donor, said in the statement that he was not aware of the group's work with New Knowledge before it was reported last week.

     “I find the tactics that have been recently reported highly disturbing. For that reason, I am embarrassed by my failure to track AET — the organization I did support — more diligently as it made its own decisions to perhaps fund projects that I would reject," Hoffman said in the statement.

    Hoffman's apology comes one week after the New York Times reported details of the project, known as Project Birmingham.

    Project Birmingham involved creating Facebook pages aimed at conservative Alabamians, according to the Times. The page was used to try to divide Republicans and encouraged them to endorse a write-in candidate. It also involved a scheme to link Moore to Russian bots, according to the Times.

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    liam hemsworth miley cyrus

    • It appears that Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth finally married.
    • Cyrus shared a series of photos in a white dress and kissing Hemsworth.
    • Reports said the two married after their friend Conrad Carr shared photos on his Instagram story of what looked like a wedding celebration.
    • The couple have been together for about 10 years. 

    It looks like Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth are indeed married.

    Cyrus, 26, shared a series of photos on her Instagram account wearing a white dress and kissing a suited Hemsworth, 28. Though none of the photos feature any captions, they do seem to confirm that the two tied the knot over the weekend. 

    A post shared by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) on

    The couple looked absolutely in love. 

    A post shared by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) on

    She also shared photos on Twitter and one did have the caption, "10 years later." 

    The two first met on the set of "The Last Song" in 2009 and confirmed their relationship in 2010. After some short break-ups, they were engaged in 2012 but split once more in 2013. The pair reunited in 2016. 

    Read more: Everything you need to know about Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth's tumultuous relationship

    Fans thought the two married on Sunday after photos were shared on their friend Conrad Carr's Instagram story. "Mr. and Mrs." balloons were seen floating in the background, Cyrus wore a white dress, and it looked like they were cutting into a wedding cake.

    Read more: Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth appeared to cut a wedding cake, and fans definitely think they're married

    Representatives for Hemsworth didn't immediately respond to INSIDER's request for comment. 

    Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.

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    Trump Iraq

    • President Donald Trump made an unannounced visit to US troops in Iraq on the day after Christmas.
    • It was Trump's first visit with US troops in a combat zone since taking office.
    • While on the ground, Trump described his reasoning for abruptly pulling US troops out of neighboring Syria.

    President Donald Trump said during a surprise trip to Iraq that he had denied a request from military leaders to extend the US deployment in Syria because the Islamic militant group ISIS had been knocked "silly."

    Trump arrived in Iraq for his first visit to a combat zone as president on Wednesday night, after a secretive 11-hour flight to Al Asad air base, west of Baghdad, where he addressed the more than 5,000 US troops stationed in Iraq.

    After arriving just after 7:15 pm local time, Trump and first lady Melania Trump met with advisers and other officials for a briefing, after which he made remarks and took questions from reporters.

    President Trump Melania visit troops Christmas Iraq selfie

    Asked about the withdrawal from Syria, which Trump announced abruptly last week, the president said he had given "the generals" several six-month "extensions" to get out of the war-torn country.

    "They said again, recently, can we have more time? I said, 'Nope.' You can’t have any more time. You’ve had enough time. We’ve knocked them out. We’ve knocked them silly," Trump said, according to a pool report.

    Read more: Trump says he has 'no plans at all' to withdraw US troops from Iraq during his first visit to troops in a combat zone

    Trump said the US presence in Syria was not meant to be "open-ended" and that Iraq could still be used as a base to strike the militants if needed. The US could attack ISIS "so fast and so hard" they "won't know what the hell happened," he said.

    Trump campaigned on reducing the US military presence abroad, but in office he agreed to expand and extend that presence, though he had not previously discussed pulling troops from Iraq and said he had "no plans at all" to do so.

    U.S. Army Soldiers with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment fire artillery alongside Iraqi Security Force artillery at known ISIS locations near the Iraqi-Syrian border, June 5, 2018.

    The sudden decision to pull some 2,000 US troops from Syria reportedly came after a conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who questioned the US's continued presence there. (Erdogan has bristled at the US' partnership with Kurdish fighters in Syria, who Ankara views as terrorists.)

    Trump's advisers, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, prepared talking points for him to use with Erdogan, but during the call Trump discarded them. The decision to withdraw reportedly prompted Mattis' resignation.

    Read more: Even Turkey's president told Trump not to do anything hasty in Syria

    "I will tell you that I’ve had some very good talks with President Erdogan who wants to knock them out also and he'll do it," Trump said, according to a pool report. "And others will do it to. Because we are in their region. They should be sharing the burden of costs and they're not."

    "The United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world," he added.

    President Trump Melania visit troops Christmas Iraq American Flag

    Earlier this week, Trump praised Saudi Arabia for committing money to help rebuild Syria, which has been riven by a seven-year-long civil war. On Wednesday, he again complimented Riyadh for its involvement.

    "In Syria, Erdogan said he wants to knock out ISIS, whatever's left, the remnants of ISIS. And Saudi Arabia just came out and said they are going to pay for some economic development, which is great. That means we don't have to pay," Trump said, according to a pool report.

    "We are spread out all over the world," he added. "We are in countries most people haven’t even heard about. Frankly, it's ridiculous."

    After taking questions, Trump entered the base dining facility, where more than 100 service members greeted him with applause. Trump shook hands and spoke with the troops, signing several "Make America Great Again" hats and a patch with "TRUMP 2020" written on it.

    At one point, after speaking with a service member, he turned to reporters and said, "He came back into the military because of me."

    Turning back to the service member, Trump said: "And I am here because of you."

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