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The latest news on Features from Business Insider

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    states where marijuana legal map

    Marijuana legalization swept the US last year

    President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan Farm Bill into law in December of last year, which legalized hemp — a plant that's roughly identical to marijuana but doesn't contain THC, a psychoactive compound in marijuana — nationwide. 

    Hemp is also a source of CBD, or cannabidiol, a popular, if scientifically untested ingredient in many cannabis-infused products. 

    Read more: One of the largest publicly traded marijuana companies says the Farm Bill provides a 'pathway' for entering the lucrative US market

    In last year's midterm elections, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana, and Utah and Missouri voted to legalize medical marijuana.

    Deep-red Oklahoma also voted to legalize medical marijuana last year, joining numerous other states that have such laws on the books.

    Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through its Legislature last year as well, rather than a ballot initiative when the governor signed the bill into law.

    Ten states and Washington, DC, have now legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults over 21. And 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.

    Read more: The top 12 venture-capital firms making deals in the booming cannabis industry that's set to skyrocket to $75 billion

    Marijuana prohibition began 80 years ago when the federal government banned the sale, cultivation, and use of the cannabis plant. It remains illegal at the federal level.

    Overturning prohibition is one of the few hot-button topics with widespread support.

    A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that 62% of Americans, including 74% of millennials, said they supported legalizing marijuana.

    Last year was also a banner year for marijuana legalization globally. 

    Last, October Canada legalized marijuana federally, becoming the first G7 country to do so.

    Mexico's Supreme Court also ruled that marijuana prohibition is unconstitutional, paving the way for the country's new leader, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to follow Canada's lead.

    Melia Robinson contributed to an earlier version of this post. 

    SEE ALSO: Marijuana companies are using a 'backdoor' strategy to tap the public markets — and it's fueling an M&A boom


    Adults 21 and over can light up in Alaska. In early 2015, the northernmost US state made it legal for residents to use, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana— roughly a sandwich bag full — for recreational use. The first pot shop opened for business in late 2016.

    Alaska has pounced on the opportunity to make its recreational pot shops a destination for tourists. More than two million people visit Alaska annually and spend $2 billion.


    California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana back in 1996. California became even more pot-friendly in 2016 when it made it legal to use and carry up to an ounce of marijuana.

    The law also permits adults 21 and over to buy up to eight grams of marijuana concentrates, which are found in edibles, and grow no more than six marijuana plants per household.

    Getting Californians to buy legal weed — rather than from the black market — has been challenging since the law took effect, The New York Times reports


    In Colorado, there are more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks and McDonalds locations combined. The state joined Washington in becoming the first two states to fully legalize the drug in 2012.

    Residents and tourists over the age of 21 can buy up to one ounce of marijuana or eight grams of concentrates. Some Colorado counties and cities have passed more restrictive laws.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    london zoo stocktake

    • Keepers at the London Zoo have kicked off their annual animal count. 
    • With more than 19,000 animals and some 600 different species to count, the challenging task will take zookeepers a week to complete. 
    • Employees come up with creative ways to tally the animals, especially when tasked with counting the smaller species. 


    LONDON (Reuters) - Keepers at ZSL London Zoo began the arduous task of counting some 600 different species on Thursday, carrying out the park's week-long annual stocktake.

    From tigers to monkeys, the zoo keeps records of all animals great and small as a requirement of its license.

    Last year, it recorded 19,289 animals.

    "We have a lot of different species and within each species we have a lot of different individuals with different behaviors," Animal Operations Manager Angela Ryan said.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Kohler Veil Lighted Collection

    • Kohler, known mainly for its kitchen and bath products, has introduced a new line of high-tech products for the bathroom and kitchen. 
    • The Veil Lighted Collection, by Kohler Konnect, uses voice and hands-free technology to control the lighting in the company's first all-connect bathroom suite. 
    • But it is pricey — the items start at $899.

    If you've ever wanted to dim the lights while you're relaxing in the bath using just your voice, now you can — well, if you can afford it.

    Kohler, the company best known for its kitchen and bath products, introduced hands-free, voice-enabled technology called Kohler Konnect at last year's Consumer Electronics Show. Ahead of CES 2019, the company has unveiled a connected (and rather luxurious) bathroom suite: the Veil Lighted Collection.

    The collection includes a mirror, vanity, "intelligent toilet," and free-standing bathtub — all of which can be motion- or voice-activated to control the lighting's color temperature. This all comes from a collaboration with Signify, once known as Philips Lighting, one of the leading connected lighting companies. 

    Each element's ambiance can be changed individually to better reflect nature (a.k.a. the time of day), or your mood, according to Kohler's website. The point? To better sync to "your natural circadian rhythm" so that the lighting "won't disrupt your sleep patterns."

    And you have the added bonus of connecting the suite with either Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant. You can also preset lighting settings — for example, in the morning, you can say "OK Google, set bathroom to 'awake.'"

    If this sounds like your dream bathroom, that's because it is.

    But it'll cost you — pricing ranges from $899 for the mirror to a whopping $7,000 for the Numi 2.0 toilet, according to Engadget

    Check out everything Kohler's new connected bathroom can do: 

    SEE ALSO: Netflix is testing a 'Show Me That Scene Again' pop-up that some people find annoying. Here's how to turn it off

    The mirror has motion-activated magnifying, and the lighting's color temperature can be changed by the wave of a hand, remote control, or voice.

    This can be particularly helpful on days where you don't look (or feel) too great.

    The free-standing bath has sculpted curves and a "gentle illumination," according to Kohler's website.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • Some plants are a bit more difficult to keep alive as they require certain levels of humidity, consistent temperature levels, or specific amounts of water.
    • Zebra plants, orchids, and gardenias can be difficult to keep alive. 
    • Peacock and Wandering Jew plants shouldn't be kept in direct sunlight because it could impact the color of their leaves.

    Houseplants add a splash of greenery and vibrancy to indoor spaces, but keeping them alive can sometimes feel like a part-time job. Although some plants are hardy enough to survive on haphazard watering and the occasional dose of fertilizer, others are a bit more demanding.

    Here are a few of the most difficult houseplants to keep alive and what you need to know if you decide to bring one home.

    Fiddle-leaf fig plants are surprisingly difficult to keep alive.

    This wildly trendy indoor plant is actually pretty tricky to keep healthy. As Good Housekeeping pointed out, it prefersjust the right amount of sun— too much exposure will brown its leaves, but too little will stunt its growth.

    Think your fiddle-leaf fig would actually fare better in your bedroom rather than the living room? Be careful when moving this plant around, as it doesn't tolerate changes to its environment well. You should also be sure to mist your plant's leaves to keep them moist if your home is on the drier side.

    Gardenias smell amazing but are pretty temperamental plants.

    Gardenias boast lovely white blooms and a heavenly scent. They're also pretty finicky when it comes to temperature. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, these houseplants need to be keptfar away from heating vents or radiators, as too much hot air can kill gardenias. They also prefer plenty of light and are prone to infestations of aphids and other pests.

    Boston ferns have lush foliage and need lots of attention.

    Boston ferns are a great option for people looking to brighten up their home with greenery, but they require quite a bit of care. According to The Spruce, these guysdon't fare well in direct sunlight. Instead, they prefer filtered or indirect light.

    It's also crucial to keep their soil nice and moist as these plants can quickly wither if their root ball is allowed to dry out. Boston ferns might also struggle in a home that's frequently chilly since they prefer year-round temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Vanity fair

    • Vanity Fair recently published an article on Washington's power players which included a now-iconic image of six new Congresswomen — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Deb Haaland, Veronica Escobar, and Sharice Davids.
    • The six new members are part of the most diverse class of Congress in US history. 
    • Here's who they are: 


    SEE ALSO: This is what today's historic Congress swear-in ceremony looked like

    New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents New York's 14th District, is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Ocasio-Cortez, who ran on a progressive platform and identifies as a democratic socialist, is a social media favorite with nearly two million Twitter followers. The young congresswoman beat veteran Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in the primaries, shocking many in the Democratic Party. 

    Massachusetts Representative Ayanna Pressley

    Ayanna Pressley, who representsMassachusetts' 7th district, is the first African-American woman to ever represent the state in Congress. Pressley, a former Boston city councilwoman, ran on a progressive platform and ousted 10-term Rep. Michael Capuano in the primaries. Pressley ran on the basis that her district, the only majority minority in Massachusetts, needs to be represented by a leader who is at the forefront of the progressive movement and the anti-Trump "resistance." 

    Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar

    Ilhan Omar, a representative from Minnesota's 5th District, is the first Somali-American elected to Congress and one of the first two Muslim women elected to serve in Capitol Hill. Omar, who came to the US as a refugee, has previously said she plans "to hold this administration accountable and be a true check and balance." She succeeded Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, who was elected Minnesota's attorney general.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • For one reason or another, some popular chips were discontinued. 
    • Jumpin' Jack Cheese Doritos and Cheetos Cracker Trax were popular in the '90s but are no longer sold. 
    • Sun Chips Sweet and Spicy BBQ chips, 3D Doritos, and Wild 'n Mild Ranch Fritos appear to be gone.

    Though we all have a favorite snack food, there was a time when pantries were filled with snacks that don't even exist today. Some of the most popular snack brands today have still had to discontinue launches for one reason or the other.

    Here are some of those discontinued chip varieties that fans miss. 

    Jumpin' Jack Cheese Doritos were loved by American teens of the '90s.

    Say cheese. That's what "the youth of America," according to Jay Leno's 1990 commercial, did, fully endorsing the new Dorito flavor. It was short-lived, but Doritos revived it for a stint of time as a throwback flavor in 2013.


    Cheetos Cracker Trax were one of a few types of cheesy paws.

    Frito-Lay tried many versions of shaped Cheetos including X's and O's, Paws, and Cracker Trax, which were shaped like mascot Chester Cheetos paws. These shapes spanned throughout the '90s into the mid-2000s. 

    With fans clamoring for their return, it would appear that Paws have returned to the Frito-Lay line-up, with the rest of the shaped products still waiting for a come-back. 

    Wild 'n Mild Ranch Fritos were an '80s and '90s favorite.

    You may remember this product's 1989 wild west-themed commercial, but these Fritos were discontinued sometime in the late '90s. They had a brief comeback as a limited-edition flavor in 2012.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Peyton Manning and Tom Brady

    • There are now 29 players who have made at least $100 million.
    • The list is loaded with quarterbacks, including two Mannings, but other positions are represented as well.
    • The list is updated through the 2018 season.

    In the NFL, lots of players sign big contracts. But unlike other sports, NFL deals are rarely guaranteed and few players see all of the money in those large deals.

    But a select few have gone on to make big money in their careers as there are now 29 players who have made at least $100 million.

    The list includes 18 active players, 18 quarterbacks, 1 Tom Brady, and 2 Mannings.

    Using contract data obtained by and other sources, here are the 29 highest-paid players in NFL history.

    29. Champ Bailey, CB — $102.8 million

    Seasons: 15

    Highest single-season earnings: $16.5 million (2010; included $3 million roster bonus)

    Championships: 0

    Pro Bowls: 12

    First-team All-Pro: 3

    One thing to know: Bailey's largest contract came after the 2003 season when he signed a seven-year, $63 million deal.

    28. Cam Newton, QB — 104.7 million

    Seasons: 8

    Highest single-season earnings: $24.0 million (2015; included $15.5 million signing bonus)

    Championships: 0

    Pro Bowls: 3

    First-team All-Pro: 1

    One thing to know: Newton's 5-year, $103 million deal with $60 million guaranteed seems like a steal now compared to some of the deals being given to players, especially quarterbacks. 

    27. Terrell Suggs, LB — 105.2 million

    Seasons: 16

    Highest single-season earnings: $24.9 million (2010; included a $23.0 million bonus)

    Championships: 1

    Pro Bowls: 7

    First-team All-Pro: 1

    One thing to know:  Suggs has spent his entire career with the Ravens, but he will be an unrestricted free agent after the season and has said he wants to keep playing.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    DC trash lede

    • America's national parks are overflowing with garbage and human waste as the US government shutdown prevents federal employees from cleaning toilets and picking up trash.
    • While it's common for national parks to close during a shutdown, the Trump administration has opted to leave them open to visitors. 
    • Many parks have been forced to close their campgrounds due to health and safety concerns. 

    As the US endures the second week of a partial government shutdown, national parks have taken a major hit

    With few rangers or staffers to clean toilets or pick up trash, parks in the American West have started to overflow with garbage and feces. 

    On Wednesday, Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California temporarily shuttered its campgrounds due to health and safety concerns, according to CNN. The National Park Service attributed the closures to "human waste in public areas." 

    Read more:Depressing photos show closed Washington, DC monuments and attractions as the government shutdown continues

    Overflowing toilets have also caused a problem for Yosemite National Park, which was forced to close its campgrounds and snow play areas on Sunday. 

    Excess trash along Generals Highway, which runs through Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park, contributed to the road being shut down. 

    Even the National Mall in Washington, DC, is strewn with garbage near the Washington Monument and US Capitol. 

    The filth is unprecedented, even for a shutdown, when it's common for the government to suspend all operations at national parks — including visitor access.

    The Trump administration has opted to leave gates open to the public in the absence of any federal employees.  

    Many parks are now closing anyway due to health hazards and threats to wildlife safety. Take a look at the state of the nation's beloved parks and monuments. 

    Visitors have reportedly witnessed piles of trash spilling out of a public bathroom at Lassen National Forest in Northern California.

    Stray belongings have been pitched against the side of a restroom.

    Broken sleds and discarded beer cans line the snow-covered ground.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    family look at globe map

    Every year, the National Geographic Society sponsors a geography contest called The National Geographic Bee, wherein students in the fourth through eighth grades compete to see whose geographic knowledge will reign supreme.

    National Geographic Society's website features an online study tool that helps prepare participants for the annual event. INSIDER has compiled a sample test of 10 questions from topic areas that frequently appear in the Geobee, courtesy of the National Geographic Society's free quiz — and they're surprisingly difficult.

    See if you can pass all 10 questions listed down below.

    1. In May 2002, an invasive species of predatory fish was found in a pond about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the Chesapeake Bay, alarming scientists and wildlife managers in which state?

    a. Michigan

    b. Maryland

    c. Maine

    Hint: The TV series "The Wire" is based in this state's capital.

    Barack Obama has cited"The Wire" as one of his favorite television shows.

    The answer is... Maryland!

    In July 2002, an angler caught the fish in question: commonly referred to as a snakehead fish, they are able to breathe air, travel across land, and eat native species.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    stranger things season 2

    • Networks and streaming services have already renewed a number of shows through at least 2020.
    • INSIDER compiled a list of all of the top shows set to return. 

    As some TV shows get the axe, others get picked up for more seasons.

    Series including "Veep" and "Game of Thrones" are coming back in 2019 for their final seasons, while shows like "Outlander" and "The Crown" have at least two more seasons on the way.

    Here are your favorite shows that are returning for a new season through 2020. 

    "The 100" season six (The CW) return TBD.

    It's loosely based on the novel of the same name.

    "13 Reasons Why" season three (Netflix) returns 2019.

    The controversial show is returning.

    "The Affair" season five (Showtime) returns 2019.

    The fifth season will be the final one.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Lefortovo Prison

    • Paul Whelan, a US citizen who was arrested by Russian authorities in Moscow and charged with espionage, is being held in Lefortovo Prison. 
    • Lefortovo is one of the oldest and most infamous detention facilities in the Russian capital. 
    • The ex-KBG prison has long been used to house dissidents and foreign spies. 
    • Joseph Stalin's secret police tortured prisoners at Lefortovo and there are many legends about the horrifying conditions in the prison during the Soviet era. 

    Paul Whelan, a US citizen, was detained in Moscow by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) on New Year's Eve and charged with espionage. 

    Whelan, 48, is now being held in one of the oldest and most infamous prisons in Moscow. 

    Here's a look at the notorious Lefortovo Prison. 

    Read more: Paul Whelan, the US Marine veteran detained in Russia, has been charged with espionage, state media reports

    Read more: US officials seek answers after Russia arrests an American for allegedly spying

    Read more: National-security experts say a US Marine veteran detained in Russia doesn’t fit the profile of a spy, but he could be a bargaining chip for a prisoner swap

    Lefortovo Prison was built in 1881 and is one of Moscow's most notorious prisons.

    Joseph Stalin's NKVD agents, or Soviet secret police, tortured and killed people in Lefortovo during the Great Purge in the 1930s.

    Lefortovo served as a detention facility for the KGB, the main security agency for the Soviets from 1954 to 1991. There are many rumors and legends surrounding the prison, including that a massive meat grinder was used to mash up the bodies of prisoners who were tortured to death. Legend has it that the remains were then dumped into Moscow's sewers.

    Source: The Los Angeles Times

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    toxic chemicals warning danger sign

    • Poisoning is much more common than you might think.
    • Poison can be found in everyday substances, including painkillers.
    • INSIDER found out 12 facts about poison that you need to know.

    "Poison" can seem like a mysterious and scary term. The official definition of "poisoning" from the Mayo Clinic is "injury or death due to swallowing, inhaling, touching or injecting various drugs, chemicals, venoms or gases."

    Here are 12 facts about potential poisons and how poison prevention works.

    Almost anything can be a poison.

    Dr. Amanda Korenoski, PharmD, the managing director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center, told INSIDER: "I think it's important to remember that anything can be a poison if enough is ingested."

    Some uncommon poisons can be certain cosmetics, medicines, and plants

    The most common substance involved in poisonings in the US is painkillers.

    According to the 2016 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the most common class of substances involved in human poisonings was analgesics (another word for "pain relievers").

    In the report, this class included acetaminophen-containing drugs, opioids, and aspirin-related products (called salicylates). Over 11% of all poisonings involve analgesics.


    Opioids can cause respiratory depression, and there is a safe reversal agent available.

    Opioids affect the part of the brain that regulates breathing, which can cause respiratory depression, according to the World Health Organization.

    "Because of their capacity to cause respiratory depression, opioids are responsible for a high proportion of fatal drug overdoses around the world. The inexpensive medication naloxone can completely reverse the effects of opioid overdose and prevent deaths due to opioid overdose," according to the World Health Organization.


    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.


    • With the rapidly evolving job market, it's important to develop new professional skills.
    • Professional development is not only an asset, but a necessity in getting and maintaining a competitive edge in the job market.
    • Edureka is an online-learning platform that teaches hard skills, like coding and data analytics, through interactive, live online classes. You can save 30% on courses for the New Year.

    The job market is constantly evolving — that's nothing new. Yet, the significant technological and scientific advancements of late have drastically changed the employment landscape, and continue to do so. What was modern a few years ago is now outdated and skills that were once highly-desired in the workplace may now be deemed irrelevant.

    Continuing professional development not only gives you a competitive advantage, but may be necessary to achieve success in certain fields. A Pew Research Center study found that some 54% of employed adults believe that developing new skills through training and education is essential for keeping up with the ever-changing demands of the professional world. 

    Given the demand for continuous education, there is a huge market for online-learning platforms. There are plenty of different platforms to choose from, and all offer a myriad of courses and accommodate different budgets and learning styles. Edureka is another online-learning platform that stands out for it's interactive, engaging teaching method.

    Edureka is tailored to fit the needs of the professional workforce. On the site, you'll find a few hundred courses — most of these courses are focused on technology, like data science and app development, but you can also find other categories like architecture and digital marketing.

    Here's how Edureka's online classes work

    Once you pick the course, you have to choose the batch of time slots you'd like to enroll in. Edureka's courses are led by instructors online in real time, so it's important to choose a time slot that works with your schedule. Each course comes with an in-depth description of the curriculum, the unique features, reviews, and a thorough FAQ section. Once a course is chosen, you'll be matched with a learning manager — they'll be your point-person for questions you might have throughout the duration of the course. 

    Edureka uses live screen-sharing, demonstrations, and a Q&A to help students engage with the material each session. If you miss the session, it's okay — Edureka keeps all of the coursework and sessions in a learning repository that you can access at any time. You'll be given homework assignments and an industry-related case study to exercise what you've been learning. Upon completion of the course, you'll get a certification of your new skill set, as well as help on how to leverage this new skill on your resume and in interviews.

    Edureka courses are more expensive than many other platforms, with prices starting around $200 — but its experienced instructors and interactive curriculum justify the price. Right now, for the New Year, all Edureka courses are currently up to 30% off. 

    Keep reading to see what you'll get from five of Edureka's top courses:

    Android App Development

    Android App Development

    What It Costs: $191 (Originally $225) [You save $34]

    What You'll Learn:

    • Introduction to Android Development
    • Android Layouts, Widgets, and Implementing Event Receivers
    • Activities, Intents, Fragments and Notifications
    • Customizing Widgets and Constructing Option Menu
    • Storage, Media, and Animations
    • WebServices
    • Location and Google Map
    • Database Framework and Third Party Libraries
    • Localization, Sensors, and Social Media Integration
    • End-to-End App Development and Publishing

    Salesforce: Admin 201 and App Builder

    Salesforce: Admin 201 and App Builder

    What It Costs: $407 (Originally $479) [You save $72]

    What You'll Learn:

    • Introduction to cloud computing & SFDC
    • Building blocks of platform and Introduction to the student master app
    • SFDC Data model, Objects, Relationships, and Fields
    • SFDC Security Model: Org-Level General administrative features and Object Level features
    • SFDC Security Model: Object, Record and Field Level features
    • Business Logic
    • Business Process Automation
    • Introduction to Sales Cloud
    • Introduction to Service Cloud
    • Data handling and processing
    • Reports and Dashboards
    • Salesforce 1, Lightning App Builder, Salesforce A, Outlook
    • Activity Management, AppExchange, Content and folder management
    • Chatter, Global action and Publisher Layouts
    • Salesforce Mobile
    • Deployment
    • Application Cycle
    • Lightning in Salesforce
    • Buttons and Link Management
    • App Exchange

    Cybersecurity Certification

    Cybersecurity Certification

    What It Costs: $231 (Originally $289) [You save $58]

    What You'll Learn:

    • Security Essentials
    • Cryptography
    • Computer Networks and Security
    • Application Security
    • Data & Endpoint Security
    • IdAM (Identity & Access Management)
    • Cloud Security
    • Phases of a Cyber Attack
    • Security Processes in practice for Businesses

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Grand Canyon snow

    • The US Southwest is experiencing an unusual amount of snowfall and cold weather.
    • Some areas have seen the lowest high temperatures in five years.
    • Other areas that are usually cold, such as Alaska, had a relatively warm New Year's Day. 

    Red rocks and saguaro cactus plants in the US Southwest were covered in snow this week, creating an unusual scene on New Year's Day. 

    Western states have seen a lot more snow than the East Coast over the past month, and more high temperatures in the single digits are coming.

    Glenn Lader, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Tucson, Arizona, told the Associated Press that the snow and cold is "quite uncommon" for the Southwest. 

    Read more:Frigid temperatures chill southern Arizona, much of West

    Many stunning photos of the region have circulated since New Year's Day, showing the desert in a blanket of snow. Take a look at some of the images below.

    For the first time in five years, the low in Phoenix dropped to 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and roughly 6 inches of snow fell in Tucson.

    Source: Associated Press

    Several schools and government agencies in Albuquerque, New Mexico, closed due to heavy snowfall and ice on the roads. The cold weather has even reached Southern California.

    Source: Associated Press

    Mayra Vazquez said she brought her children to Saguaro National Park East in Arizona on January 2. "It's the first time we've seen snow the desert," Vasquez said.

    Instagram Embed:
    Width: 540px

    Source: Associated Press

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    sesame street

    • In terms of physical appearance, some of the most popular "Sesame Street" Muppets have changed a lot over the years.
    • Oscar the Grouch used to be orange and he didn't have arms or legs and Cookie Monster used to have sharp teeth. 
    • Muppets like Elmo and Ernie haven't undergone many super noticeable physical changes. 

    "Sesame Street" first debuted in 1969. Since its premiere, new characters have been added and old favorites have undergone some makeovers. Whether it was head shape, nose color, or even the presence of teeth, some muppets are almost unrecognizable as the muppets you know them as today. 

    Here's how some of the most popular "Sesame Street" muppets have transformed over the years.

    For the most part, Elmo looks the same.

    Over the years, Elmo's look has largely remained the same, but his head has gotten slightly bigger and his fur appears to be a bit fluffier.

    Oscar the Grouch has seen major changes.

    Oscar the Grouch is probably the Muppet who has been through the most changes throughout the years. When he first appeared in "Sesame Street,"he was orange and he was just a head and neck. Throughout the first season, he appeared with a right arm, and then two arms. Now, he is green and his mouth is larger than it once was. 

    Snuffleupagus looks a lot friendlier now.

    With yellow eyes, a sunken body, and a morose-sounding voice, Snuffleupagus looked slightly forlorn when he first debuted on "Sesame Street." Now, he has lighter eyes, prominent lashes, and a fuller body. His fur has also become more of a reddish brown. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    speaker's balcony capitol

    • The 116th US Congress has been sworn in, marking the most diverse Congress in US history. 
    • Though this group of lawmakers represents a number of firsts for the legislative branch, members of Congress have been bound by many of the same traditions throughout history, including a wide variety of perks.
    • Members of Congress can pull rank to receive priority for haircuts, flights, and even mail. See the perks lawmakers enjoy, some of which continue even after they've left office. 

    The 116th US Congress was sworn in earlier this week, marking the most diverse group to occupy the legislative branch in US history. 

    Despite the record number of firsts represented by the newest group of lawmakers, members of Congress have followed many of the same traditions during their time in office, including a variety of perks and benefits. 

    See the perks that come with being a top lawmaker, some of which last long after their time in Congress is over: 

    SEE ALSO: Democrats erupt into laughter after Google CEO has to explain to Rep. Steve King that the 'iPhone is made by a different company'

    DON'T MISS: Most Americans agree with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that congressional interns should be paid $15 an hour

    The salary-based benefits in place for a member of Congress are superior to the average American workplace.

    The Federal Employees Retirement Program provides individual pension plans to members of Congress. Depending on the member's age, salary, and number of years in service, the pension benefit can be up to 80% the member's final salary.

    Source: US Senate, Investopedia

    Based on 2017 Congressional pay of $174,000 per year, an 80% pension grants members a lifelong pension benefit of $139,200. This places members ahead of a majority of Americans, for whom the 2017 median household income was $61,372.

    Source: Investopedia, US Census Bureau

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    Jamie Dimon

    Starting Monday, thousands of pharmaceutical industry executives, investors, bankers, and analysts will swarm into San Francisco for the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

    Now in its 37th year, the conference has ballooned from a small event with 150 attendees that was essentially the "birth of biotech," to an event attended by everyone from the biggest pharma company to the smallest biotech. JPMorgan said more than 485 companies are scheduled to present this year.

    It's a spot for these companies to meet with investors and each other, and can be the starting point for takeovers or other deals. 

    It's also a place where more deals — maybe even on the scale of Thursday's $74 billion merger between Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene— could get announced. 

    From confronting the threat of technology giants' healthcare advances to covering the cost of one-time treatments, here are some of the key topics we'll be asking about this week. 

    We'll be sending out our best stories from the week in Dispensed, our weekly dispatch of pharma, biotech, and healthcare news. Sign up here.

    Who’s next to merge?

    2018 saw a number of mega-deals, including the $77 billion Takeda-Shire merger. Now with the BMS-Celgene deal in place, the healthcare industry is wondering who might be next to pair up.

    "With large caps, generally, falling under pressure the last few years, one has to acknowledge the potential for additional consolidation of profitable companies," Baird Equity Research biotech analyst Brian Skorney wrote in a note Thursday. 

    Alternatively, Celgene could find another dance partner in a counter-bid.

    Alethia Young, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald remarked in a note Thursday that it's possible others go in to big on Celgene — specifically Amgen and Johnson & Johnson. That's in large part because of the two companies focus on hematology. Joining up with either of those two companies could create more synergies than the company has with BMS. 

    How will we pay for seven-figure drugs? What about other costly treatments?

    The issue of paying for medications is now a constant conversation for the drug industry, with prices continuing to go up even after political pressure in 2018. We'll definitely be keeping an eye on pharma's 2019 plans.

    But a new wrinkle that's quickly coming into focus: How are we going to pay for one-time treatments?

    Already, treatments like cell therapy for cancer treatments and a gene therapy for a hereditary form of blindness have tested the waters.

    But more are in the works. That includes Novartis' gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic condition that affects muscle movement in children and is the leading genetic cause of mortality in infants that could be approved in the US by as early as May 2019. When that happens, Novartis said it would be cost-effective at a price of between $4-5 million

    It might take some new payment arrangements to get health insurers on board to cover the cost of treatment, such as paying in installments over a set amount of time. What that looks like and who takes the lead on that will be a big question that should get answered in 2019. 

    How has the pharma-payer power dynamic shifted?

    In 2018, two massive healthcare deals closed, redrawing the lines around what defines a healthcare company: 

    The health insurer Cigna combined with Express Scripts, which manages pharmacy benefits. And CVS Health, a big pharmacy chain that also owns a drug benefits business, acquired the health insurer Aetna.

    We'll find out a lot more this year about the strategies of the combined companies. Both new firms will be looking for places to cut costs, as well as seeking to gain more control over how patients access healthcare. It's happening at a time when new medications are getting approved that challenge the way we pay for treatments.

    It remains to be seen how the two newly formed healthcare companies wield their new negotiating power, and how drugmakers will respond to that increased pressure. 

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    jim webb

    • President Donald Trump is reportedly considering tapping Jim Webb, a highly decorated Marine veteran and former secretary of the Navy, to be the next secretary of defense. 
    • At present, Patrick Shanahan is serving as acting secretary of defense, but he has no military experience and his status as a former Boeing executive is a point of controversy. 
    • It's not clear if Webb is interested in the position, and Trump last week said Shanahan could remain acting defense secretary "for a long time."

    President Donald Trump is reportedly considering tapping Jim Webb, a highly decorated Marine veteran and former secretary of the Navy, to be the next secretary of defense. 

    This comes not long after the departure of retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, a respected strategist and combat veteran who resigned over apparent disagreements with the president regarding foreign policy.

    At present, Patrick Shanahan is serving as acting secretary of defense, but he has no military experience and his status as a former Boeing executive is a point of controversy

    Read more: Trump is reportedly considering a blunt Vietnam War hero and former Democratic senator to be defense secretary

    In this context, Trump appears to be looking for someone with a stronger background in both the military and government to take the lead at the Pentagon and Webb is apparently among the top contenders. Webb 

    Webb would be an interesting choice, as he's a former Democratic senator and presidential candidate. He's also earned a reputation as a loose cannon who once threatened to "slug" a sitting US president. But there's also a lot about Webb that makes him a solid choice for the position.

    Here's more on Webb's life and career. 

    SEE ALSO: Meet Patrick Shanahan, the former Boeing executive nicknamed 'Mr. Fix-It' who's replacing General James Mattis as Defense secretary

    Webb, 72, was born in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1946. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968 and went on to serve in the US Marine Corps.

    Webb served in the Vietnam War in a Marine rifle platoon and as a company commander.

    Webb earned the Navy Cross, the second-highest military decoration after the Medal of Honor for Marine and Navy service members, for his heroism in Vietnam in 1969. During an assault on an enemy bunker, Webb sustained wounds as he shielded a fellow soldier from a grenade but continued to fight. Webb's conduct during the assault led him to receive the award.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    US Coast Guard self-defense Tradewinds Barbados

    The US armed forces have engineered all manner of weapons to defeat enemies from afar, from the Brown Bess muzzle-loading smoothbore musket of the Revolutionary War to the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (the "Mother Of All Bombs") we dropped on Afghanistan in 2017.

    But sometimes, when you're out of ammo and out of options, war gets up close and personal — and sometimes, the simplest ways of fighting are best.

    But which US military melee weapons is the finest? Here's an incomplete and egregiously unscientific ranking of American blades and bludgeons.

    SEE ALSO: The US Navy's carriers have a gaping hole in their defenses against a growing threat, and drones may soon fill it

    7. The Air Force's ceremonial swords

    This list was partially inspired by a recent feature in The War Zone about the Air Force's Order of the Sword and its ceremonial weapons that, as Joe Trevithick masterfully put it, "look better suited to a pulp high fantasy novel, video game, or cartoons such as He-Man, She-Ra, or the ThunderCats than a modern-day military gathering."

    These include Master Swords belonging to Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Force Global Strike Command, and so on, all of which look distinctively badass.

    Unfortunately, none seem especially efficient in a brawl — unless you're counting on striking fear into the hearts of your foes before you actually have to swing the damn things.

    Con: Impossible to wield

    Pro: Giant fucking swords

    6. Your spent firearm

    When in doubt, just follow the example of Fred Henry McGuire, the Navy Corpsman who earned the Medal of Honor after he found himself out of rounds while fighting in the Philippines in 1911.

    From his citation: "After emptying his rifle into the attackers, he closed in with rifle, using it as a club to wage fierce battle until his comrades arrived on the field, when he rallied to the aid of his dying leader and other wounded."

    Con: Somewhat unwieldy

    Pro: Your name will live on in a citation somewhere for lethal ingenuity

    5. An E-tool

    The entrenching tool has been a staple of infantry kits since the age of the Roman Empire, and for good reason: They're more of a Swiss Army Knife for war fighters than the Swiss Army Knife ever was. And naturally, the usefulness of the E-tool extends beyond entrenching.

    Just take it from Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell, who recommended US forces deliver an e-tool beatdown to ISIS fighters they encounter downrange. Or even better, 'E-Tool' Smith.

    Con: Not explicitly designed for slashing, stabbing, or bludgeoning

    Pro: You're still alive

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Marc New York Suede Moto Jacket

    January is great time to take stock of your life and make changes that will have a positive impact on your entire year. If 2019 is the year you're finally going to learn how to cook, update your wardrobe, or take self care more seriously, then you'll want to check out Macy's huge one-day sale

    The store has discounted more than 25,000 items across several major categories, but these deals are only going to be available today. 

    With a sale this big, it can be difficult to know exactly where to start, so we did the heavy lifting for you by finding 50 deals in five categories to make your life easier. Below you'll find great discounts on men and women's clothing, beauty, home, and kitchen tools. 

    But remember, this cheat sheet is only a place to start. Once you've given it a look, you should check out the entire sale for more great deals. 

    Keep reading to check out the best deals in women and men's clothing, home goods, kitchen tools, and beauty products:

    SEE ALSO: These $100 wool sneakers are comfortable and machine washable — the Swiss startup that makes them even added elastic laces for the ultimate convenience

    Women’s clothing

    Shop all the 25,000+ items in Macy's one-day-only sale here.

    Men’s clothing

    Shop all the 25,000+ items in Macy's one-day-only sale here.

    Home & bedding

    Shop all the 25,000+ items in Macy's one-day-only sale here.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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