Monthly Archives: January 2019

The Knicks’ blockbuster trade of Kristaps Porzingis is either a hint at a huge upcoming summer or a massive failure

Kristaps Porzingis was the Knicks' first true star in years, and they traded him.

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Kristaps Porzingis was the Knicks’ first true star in years, and they traded him.
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Christian Petersen/Getty Images

  • The New York Knicks’ stunning trade of Kristaps Porzingis creates cap space for two max salaries this summer.
  • The Knicks are expected to be star-hunting after the season, and some believe the trade is a sign that they think they have a realistic shot at free agents like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
  • If the Knicks miss out on those players, they will have traded low on Porzingis while also stretching out their rebuild even further.

The New York Knicks’ blockbuster trade of Kristaps Porzingis on Thursday was a whirlwind event that seemed to catch most of the NBA world by surprise.

Read more: The Knicks are reportedly sending Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks in a blockbuster trade that appeared to materialize in minutes

Shortly after reports of Porzingis meeting with Knicks management to discuss his concern with the franchise’s direction, additional details indicated that the Mavericks and Knicks were finalizing a deal to send Porzingis to Dallas.

But the rest of the pieces are also a key component of the trade. The Knicks received Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan, and two future first-round picks, while the Knicks also sent Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke.

Lee and Hardaway are owed $12.7 million and $18.1 million next season, respectively. Meanwhile, Jordan and Matthews are expiring contracts and set to hit free agency next season.

The exact details of why the Knicks moved on so quickly from Porzingis are unclear, but a big part of the deal was to clear cap space for this coming summer.

The Knicks are targeting superstars in free agency, and the move could leave them with as much as $74 million in cap space, enough for two maximum salary slots, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have both been linked to the Knicks in rumors, though nothing has been substantial. By clearing so much cap space, the Knicks are rolling the dice and giving themselves a chance to win big.

Trading Porzingis might hurt that pitch. Though he’s been out since last February recovering from a torn ACL, part of the appeal of joining the Knicks for any superstar was a chance to play with a young, growing star in Porzingis.

Without him, the Knicks’ roster is pretty bare, though they do have some young talent in Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier, and now, Smith. They also have a likely top-5 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

But the Knicks’ pitch to acquire free agents like Durant and Irving will be synchronized – come play together. It won’t be one domino, then the next, but two at once. It isn’t the craziest pitch. The brightest and most obvious explanation of the trade is that the Knicks have intel that suggests they have a realistic shot at one or both players.

The Knicks’ intel better be right

The Knicks have gone all-in on the summer of 2019. The worst outcome isn’t missing out on superstars. What’s worse is how they got there.

Porzingis may not be the most attractive trade chip in the NBA – he’s an oft-injured, 7-foot-3, athletic big man coming off of a torn ACL, and headed for restricted free agency this summer. Teams may not have been willing to give up much to get him.

Dennis Smith Jr. is one of the players coming to the Knicks.

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Dennis Smith Jr. is one of the players coming to the Knicks.
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Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

But the Knicks almost certainly sold low on him. The return is essentially cap space, draft picks several years away (the Mavs owe their 2019 pick to the Atlanta Hawks, and teams can’t trade back-to-back first-rounders, so the earliest the Knicks can get a pick is 2021) and Smith for Porzingis.

The hardest thing in the NBA is to find true star players, and Porzingis, assuming he returns to form, is a rare star player. They traded him to take a total gamble on two star players.

If the Knicks wanted to make a move for another star, they might have considered attaching assets to Porzingis to trade up. If the Knicks wanted to make a play for Anthony Davis, for example, offering Porzingis, one of their young players, and a draft pick might have been the play. (It’s unclear if this would have worked, as Porzingis is heading for restricted free agency, and the draft spot of the Knicks’ pick is undecided at the moment). Landing a player like Davis would then be their most useful recruiting tool in free agency.

If the Knicks grew tired of Porzingis’ frustration and lack of trust in the franchise (as ESPN’s Zach Lowe suggested), they could have also looked to trade Porzingis for a better, younger asset, plus future draft picks. Regardless of Smith’s actual talent, he was on the trading block and at one point holding out from the Mavericks while they looked to deal him. He wasn’t in high demand.

Perhaps the Knicks were wary of Porzingis taking the qualifying offer this summer, then becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2020. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Porzingis intends to tell the Mavericks that he will play on the qualifying offer in 2019; ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said that Porzingis hasn’t made up his mind.

The Knicks should have called his bluff if he threatened to play on the qualifying offer. That would have been a gamble for any player coming off of a torn ACL, but Porzingis also likely would have been in line for a max or near-max contract this summer. Turning that type of deal down, coming off of a severe injury, would have been an unprecedented gamble in the NBA.

There are now three apparent outcomes for the Knicks – they hit it big in free agency, they overpay for secondary options in free agency, or they miss out on all of their targets and roll that cap space over to 2020, essentially tanking again in 2019-20.

Slow, patient rebuilds have their benefits, but they’re not for everyone. The Knicks are 10-40 this season, losers of 19 of their last 20 games. Cracks in the foundation are starting to show. Veterans, like Enes Kanter, have griped about their minutes. Head coach David Fizdale has alternated between roasting his team and criticizing their effort. And, uh, their franchise player just bailed on the whole project.

Even if the Knicks struck out in free agency this summer, bringing back Porzingis, a top draft pick, and their young core, a year older, would lead to marginal improvements. That can be a good thing. It can be okay for young teams to win more games, get better, and head into the next season with higher aspirations.

The Knicks have essentially created two paths – nail free agency in a way the franchise has never done before, or take a step back in their rebuild and stretch out an already-long process.

Senate Republicans snub Trump with legislation rebuking his plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Syria

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
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REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo

  • The vast majority of Senate Republicans on Thursday voted in favor of legislation critical of President Donald Trump’s plan to pull US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan.
  • Republicans in Congress have been particularly critical of Trump on foreign policy in recent months, especially in relation to ISIS.
  • The amendment that passed on Thursday, which was drafted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is set to be added to a broader piece of Middle East policy legislation.

Top Republicans in the Senate are rebuking President Donald Trump’s foreign policy – again.

Legislation drafted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that criticized the president’s plans to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and Syria was overwhelmingly advanced by senators on Thursday in a 68-to-23 vote.

The vast majority of Republicans voted in favor of the measure, which warns of the consequences of the US pulling out amid ongoing threats from the Islamic State group, or ISIS, in both countries.

“The precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from either country could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security,” the legislation reads.

Read more: Inspired by Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, lawmakers renew fight to defy Trump and end US support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen

The amendment is set to be added to a larger Middle East policy bill that is expected to pass in the GOP-led Senate but could face opposition the Democratic-controlled House in relation to a provision on Israel, according to The Washington Post.

Republicans have been criticizing Trump on Syria and Afghanistan since December when he abruptly announced plans to withdraw troops from the two countries, saying ISIS had been defeated in the process.

ISIS has been greatly diminished and no longer controls a large swath of territory across Iraq and Syria that provided the basis for its self-declared caliphate, but the US intelligence community and the Pentagon have repeatedly said it continues to pose a threat.

Correspondingly, Trump has sparred with his intelligence chiefs over the course of the week because of an intelligence-community report on global threats that undermined the president’s foreign-policy rhetoric and claims – including his assertions about ISIS.

The new Worldwide Threat Assessment said that ISIS still has thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria, and is continuing to plan attacks.

An ISIS-claimed attack in Syria earlier this month resulted in the deaths of four US citizens, including two US service members. This was a devastating blow to Trump’s claims in late December that ISIS was defeated, an assertion that Senate Republicans again slapped down with Thursday’s vote.

The US has roughly 2,000 troops in Syria and approximately 14,000 in Afghanistan. Trump in December signaled he wanted to withdraw all US troops from Syria and roughly half of those stationed in Afghanistan.

Read more: Trump’s own party slams his Syria ‘retreat’ after ISIS-claimed attack kills US troops

Meanwhile, in a separate move that defies Trump’s foreign-policy agenda, a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday renewed a push for a resolution that would end US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Key Republicans have in recent months supported such legislation in relation to outrage over the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and this seems to have carried into 2019.

The US is suffering through a polar vortex. Paradoxically, we may have global warming to thank for that.

Frank Lettiere's eyebrows and eye lashes are frozen after walking along Lake Michigan's ice-covered shoreline as temperatures dropped to -20 degrees F (-29C) on January 30, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.

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Frank Lettiere’s eyebrows and eye lashes are frozen after walking along Lake Michigan’s ice-covered shoreline as temperatures dropped to -20 degrees F (-29C) on January 30, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.
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JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images

  • The US is in the midst of a polar-vortex event. About 84 million Americans are experiencing subzero temperatures.
  • The polar vortex is an area of circulating cold air that rings the planet’s North Pole. Sometimes that vortex destabilizes, sending surges of Arctic air south.
  • Climate change – specifically melting Arctic ice – may impact how often countries in the Northern Hemisphere experience polar-vortex events and other extreme winter weather. Some research suggests these cold snaps might get more common.

The 2019 polar-vortex event continues to sweep the country.

Between the US Midwest and East Coast, 84 million Americans are contending with subzero temperatures, CNN reports. Wind chill advisories have impacted 140 million people.

Parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin saw windchill temperatures are as cold as minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday – that’s life-threatening. At those temperatures, frostbite can set in within five minutes, according to the Chicago National Weather Service office. At least eleven deaths in the Midwest have been linked to the weather this week.

The cold snap has prompted some people – most notably President Donald Trump – to question how temperatures could get so low given that the Earth is warming.

Generally, polar-vortex events – which are short-term weather patterns – shouldn’t be confused with long-term changes in Earth’s climate. Global average temperatures are still among the highest ever recorded, and oceans are the warmest they’ve been since we started keeping records.

“Even in a warming world you can still have extreme cold,” Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting and atmospheric and environmental research at Verisk Business, told Business Insider.

Between 2003 and 2013, the rate of Greenland's ice loss quadrupled.

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Between 2003 and 2013, the rate of Greenland’s ice loss quadrupled.
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Gian-Reto Tarnutzer/Unsplash

However, global warming may actually play a role in the frequency of these cold snaps, according to a growing body of research.

The consequences of a warming Arctic

The term polar vortex describes the mass of low-pressure cold air that circulates in the stratosphere above the Arctic and Antarctic regions. A strong polar vortex stays where it belongs, swirling around the North Pole. But sometimes the circulation of the polar vortex weakens, causing surges of frigid air to splinter off and drift south.

The freezing air is carried by the jet stream, a current of wind that extends around the hemisphere and divides the air masses in the polar region from those farther south.

Polar Vortex Explainer

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BI Graphics/NOAA

Although researchers have not yet reached a consensus, many are starting to link the weakening of the polar vortex to the warming Arctic, as Inside Climate News reported.

The logic goes like this: Because temperatures are rising in the Arctic at double the rate of the rest of the planet, the difference between temperatures at the North Pole and continents at lower latitudes is decreasing. Less disparity in temperatures means less difference between air pressure levels, which weakens the jet stream. That can lead the jet stream to take longer, less direct paths.

If the jet stream wanders enough, that can disrupt the natural flow of the polar vortex, weakening it. A weakened polar vortex sends freezing Arctic air south, towards North America, Europe, and Asia.

A NOAA satellite image of cold winter weather descending on the continental US.

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A NOAA satellite image of cold winter weather descending on the continental US.
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REUTERS/NOAA/NASA/Handout

A 2017 study found that the frequency of winter polar-vortex events has increased by as much as 140% over the past four decades, perhaps because of climate change.

“Stronger polar-vortex states are decreasing and weak polar-vortex states and increasing,” Cohen, a co-author on the study, explained.

He noted that Arctic warming and melting sea ice are amplifying conditions typically associated with a weakening polar vortex. In another study published last year, Cohen also found a connection between rising Arctic temperatures and severe winter weather in the eastern US.

“I see a direct connection to changes in the Arctic, that it’s warming faster than the rest of globe,” Cohen said. “But other people look at it and say, ‘weather happens and it’s not anything new.'”

The World Resources Institute (WRI) also reported that increasing sea ice melt, particularly in the Barents-Kara seas north of Russia, has been linked to colder winters and more cold snaps in Siberia.

Kelly Levin, a senior associate at WRI, told Business Insider that she believes “this is definitely something we need to pay attention to.”

“Instead of seeing this as a disconnected set of events, we need to really explore links between broader patterns of warming climate and extreme weather,” Levin said.

This $45 phone case has a built-in grip, kickstand, and car mount — which would have cost me $75 to buy separately

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.

Scooch Wingman

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Amir Ismael/Scooch

  • New iPhones are pretty expensive now, making it harder to shell out extra money for accessories.
  • Scooch, a new smartphone accessories brand, found a way to pack a case, grip, kickstand, and car mount into one gadget called the Wingman, is built to withstand military drop tests.
  • At about $45, it’s cheaper than buying everything separately.
  • I’ve always been the type to buy one basic case and leave it on my phone forever, but the Wingman’s versatility and convenience led me to make a permanent switch.

Owning a new iPhone is expensive. On top of the $1,250 I paid for the device and my monthly bill for service, I also needed to shell out money for essential accessories like a protective case, a car mount, and some sort of grip like a PopSockets Grip or Speck GrabTab.

Being the smart shopper that I am, I decided to add up the cost of everything I needed before actually buying it and it came out to about $75 – $40 for a decent case, at least $10 for a grip, and $25 for the car dash mount my coworker Brandt recommended – which was a lot more than I wanted to spend.

After holding out on buying everything separately, I found a single product that packed everything I needed all in one at a much cheaper price – the Scooch Wingman iPhone Case (from $40).

Push down on the middle of the wing to extend it for use.

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Push down on the middle of the wing to extend it for use.
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David Slotnick/Business Insider

The Scooch Wingman is a highly protective case that meets military drop standards by using EXO-D impact technology. While its ability to withstand 6-foot drops and lots of abuse is a very important feature, the built-in wing on the back is what makes the case special. Acting as a grip, a kickstand, and a car mount, the innovative wing design adds a lot of usability to an otherwise simple, yet solid iPhone case.

Since I was in the market for a bunch of products that could do all of those things separately, I decided to give the Wingman a try. I’m usually the type of person to put one case on my iPhone and leave it on forever, but the Wingman was so useful I made the switch permanently.

Here’s how it works as a phone grip

As phones get bigger and bigger, they also get harder to hold. We’ve all struggled to click the shutter while gripping the phone at the right angle for a selfie and that’s where the wing comes in handy most. Simply push down on the middle of the wing in order to get it to stick out and you’ll then have a grip that functions similarly to a PopSocket Grip. Since I have the largest iPhone, the Xs Max, I often find myself using the grip function whenever I’m holding it in my hand; it just feels more secure.

Personally, I prefer this design over PopSockets Grips because when it’s not in use, it lays flush against the phone. The only upside that other grips have is that they are available in hundreds if not thousands of colors and themes. If you must have a grip with your favorite color, cartoon character, or sports team, then PopSocket Grips would be the way to go. If not, the Wingman works perfectly fine.

Scooch Wingman

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David Slotnick/Business Insider

The kickstand feature is great for watching videos or using FaceTime

I bought this gigantic iPhone so that I could watch videos on a decent-sized screen, but the last thing I want to do is have to hold my phone for an entire TV show or movie. In the past, I’ve had to come up with creative ways to keep my phone standing like leaning it against a water bottle, a stack of books, or whatever else might be laying around. With the Scooch Wingman, the wing is there to keep your phone propped up. It’s even good for FaceTiming, taking photos with the self-timer, or anything else you might want to do without using your hands.

Scooch Wingman

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David Slotnick/Business Insider

Using the Scooch Wingman as a car mount is easy:

Installing a phone mount in your car is a good way to be a safe and responsible driver. I’m all for using dash mounts, but I have several cars of my own and occasionally drive my parents’ cars. Buying a separate dash mount for each car would be a bit ridiculous, not to mention expensive. The Scooch Wingman ensures that I never go without a mount, no matter which car I’m driving. Simply extend the wing and slide it into your car’s air vent. The curved design of the wing will keep your phone securely in place. Below, you’ll see my iPhone Xs Max mounted in my mom’s Honda CR-V. It does block a good portion of the air vent, but it definitely beats driving and trying to look at GPS directions with the phone in my lap.

Scooch Wingman case

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Amir Ismael/Business Insider

Unfortunately, the Scooch Wingman doesn’t work with wireless chargers, but such is the case with most add-on grips anyway. As much as I liked using a wireless charger with my last case, the trade-off for everything the Wingman does offer makes using a normal charging cable worthwhile.

As cool as the collective features are, the price is the most impressive part. At about $45 for the iPhone X/Xs or iPhone Xs Max, the Scooch Wingman is a clear winner in terms of value. If you have an older iPhone or a Samsung phone, you can also find choices on Amazon here.

As an added bonus, Scooch will donate 10% of the proceeds from every product sold to programs that support victims of crime and domestic abuse. It doesn’t make the case any better from a function standpoint, but it’s always nice to see a brand you like supporting a noble cause.

In short, you can either buy a bunch of different iPhone cases and accessories, or you can buy a Scooch Wingman. It’s protective, versatile, and convenient in every way.

Scooch Wingman for iPhone Xs Max, available on Amazon, starting at $39.99

Scooch Wingman for iPhone X/Xs, available on Amazon, starting at $44.39

Apple restores Facebook’s developer certificate, ending 2 days of chaos

  • Apple is restoring Facebook’s developer certificate, two days after it was revoked.
  • The certificate allows Facebook to distribute internal apps to employees, and when Apple revoked it, it caused chaos at the company.
  • Apple had taken action after Facebook was caught misusing the certificate to power an app that spied on users’ phones and data in exchange for cash.

Facebook’s two days of internal chaos are coming to an end.

Apple has agreed to restore Facebook’s developer certificate, the social networking giant said in a statement – a move that will allow Facebook’s internal company apps for employees to resume working.

On Wednesday, the iPhone maker had pulled the plug on Facebook’s certificate after Facebook was caught using it to power an app that spied on users in return for cash – and because the same certificate underpinned the internal apps Facebook employees used for everything from communicating to handling company transportation, they all stopped working, too, causing havoc.

Internally, Facebook employees were furious about the move, sources previously told Business Insider, alternately blaming their own colleagues responsible for the offending research app and Apple, who some theorized was out to get Facebook.

In a statement provided to Business Insider, a Facebook spokesperson said that the company is now in the process of getting its company apps working again.

“We have had our Enterprise Certification, which enables our internal employee applications, restored. We are in the process of getting our internal apps up and running. To be clear, this didn’t have an impact on our consumer-facing services.

The incident has highlighted the astonishing power Apple can wield over other companies that rely on its platform. And it has one of the most immediately disruptive consequences Facebook has faced thus far from its chain of scandals and missteps over the past two years.

Apple also this week revoked Google’s developer certificate after the search engine firm was found to be doing similar, causing similar chaos at the company.

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

Researchers just finished the largest study ever on e-cigarettes and stroke risk, and the results are alarming

Researchers concluded using the tobacco products could increase a person's risks for a variety of heart-related conditions.

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Researchers concluded using the tobacco products could increase a person’s risks for a variety of heart-related conditions.
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Spencer Platt/Getty

  • On Wednesday, researchers at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Honolulu presented the biggest study ever on e-cigarette use and stroke risk.
  • The researchers looked at data for 66,795 e-cigarette users and 343,856 non-smokers, and found that using e-cigarettes could increase a person’s risk for a variety of conditions.
  • Specifically, researchers found e-cigarette use could increase a person’s risk of stroke by 71%, heart attack by 59%, and coronary heart disease by 40%.
  • They were not, however, able to pinpoint how much or how often a person would have to use e-cigarettes to contribute to these risks, Paul Ndunda, lead author of the study, told INSIDER.
  • “This is a preliminary study that calls for larger longitudinal studies that can establish causes and effects,” Ndunda told INSIDER.

Despite the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, existing research on the devices has been small in scope. On Wednesday, however, researchers at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Honolulu presented the biggest study to date on e-cigarette use and stroke risk, which revealed that using these devices to consume tobacco could increase the risk of stroke, as well as heart disease and heart attack.

Researchers used data from the 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an annual phone survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that looks at US citizens’ health risk factors, chronic conditions, and use of health-related services. Specifically, they looked at instances of stroke, heart disease, and heart attack in 66,795 e-cigarette users and 343,856 non-smokers. Based on this information, researchers found a link between e-cigarette use and a heightened risk for the aforementioned conditions.

Read more: The FDA is so concerned about teen vaping, they’re considering drug therapy to help kids quit

Use of e-cigarettes was found to increase a person’s risk of stroke by 71%, heart attack by 59%, and coronary heart disease by 40%. Researchers, however, were unable to pinpoint how much or how often a person would have to use e-cigarettes to lead to increased risks since the data set did not include this information.

Using e-cigarettes could increase a person's risk of stroke by 71%.

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Using e-cigarettes could increase a person’s risk of stroke by 71%.
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Shutterstock

Additionally, because the researchers only looked at survey results and not death records, they were not able to link e-cigarette use to death.

Despite this being the largest study on e-cigarette use and health to date, there are some discrepancies worth noting

As mentioned, researchers were unable to determine how much and how often a person would have to have used e-cigarettes to increase their risk of these health problems. Similarly, they were unable to conclude whether the increased risks were directly related to nicotine or if other components in the e-cigarettes played a role, Paul Ndunda, the lead author of the study, told INSIDER.

“There is variability in e-cigarettes and the dose they deliver of nicotine,” he said, adding that “nicotine isn’t the only thing in these e-cigarettes and different companies manufacture them,” so their ingredients lists can vary widely.

Read more: Cigarette smoking rates are plunging in the US, but there’s a major catch

Additionally, because researchers weren’t able to control for all potential disease contributors, there isn’t a surefire correlation between the devices and specific health risks. Although the researchers were able to control for factors like age, sex, diabetes, smoking status, and body mass index, Ndunda said they weren’t able to control for every potential risk factor in the CDC data set, like healthcare access.

“This is a preliminary study that calls for larger longitudinal studies that can establish causes and effects,” Ndunda told INSIDER.

Read more: See how Juul turned teens into influencers and threw buzzy parties to fuel its rise as Silicon Valley’s favorite e-cig company

While more definitive research on the links between e-cigarette use and health risks needs to be done, these results suggest the trendy devices can significantly impact one’s health.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

1 in 10 homeless adults are veterans, here’s how you can help them and others stay safe and warm during the polar vortex

  • Cold temperatures can be life threatening, especially to the homeless population.
  • The polar vortex that’s brought below-freezing temperatures to many major cities in the US has already led to a number of deaths.
  • There are roughly 553,000 homeless people in the US on any given night, and approximately 11% of the adult homeless population are veterans.
  • There are a number of ways you can help at-risk populations during cold weather events.

The polar vortex that’s brought blistering temperatures to many parts of the US, especially states in the Midwest, has already claimed at least 11 lives.

This weather event is life-threatening, especially to folks without proper shelter.

There are a little less than 553,000 homeless people in the US, according to a December 2018 report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and roughly 224 million people nationwide have been hit with below-freezing temperatures this week.

Read more: A polar vortex is engulfing the US. Here’s what that really means, and why these events might be getting more common.

Chicago, Illinois, alone has a homeless population of roughly 80,000. Temperatures in Chicago dipped to 21 degrees below zero on Thursday morning.

Veterans account for a disproportionate number of adult homeless people in the US. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, roughly 11 percent of the adult homeless population are veterans.

As much of the nation struggles to keep warm during the polar vortex, here’s how you can help populations that are most at risk.

Call 311 to connect with homeless outreach teams

Many major US cities, including including New York, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, DC, have hotlines under the number 311 you can call if you see someone on the street who might need help. The number can help connect you with homeless outreach teams.

Dialing 211 can also help link people with community services. This service is available to roughly 270 million people, or about 90% of the US population, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

Donate clothing and other supplies to emergency shelters

Many homeless people turn up to shelters without proper clothing during a time where a proper coat can make all the difference. If you’re able to, donating warm clothing to local shelters and organizations can be a major help amid extreme weather events and low temperatures.

Click here for help finding donation centers in your area. Many of these organizations are willing to pick up donations from your residence, which you can often schedule online.

Putting together care packages and keeping them in your vehicle to hand out can also be extremely helpful. Warm items like gloves, socks, hats, scarves, and blankets are especially useful, as well as shelf-safe food, Nancy Powers with the Salvation Army’s Chicago Freedom Center told CNN.

There are specific resources for veterans you can direct people to

Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans, which is available 24/7 and is run by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans can also help you locate local services for veterans. Click here to find an organization in your area.

Donate money to a charity

If you’re able to donate money to a charity for the homeless, a little can go a long way.

Below are over a dozen organizations that were given four out of four stars by Charity Navigator, an independent nonprofit that rates charities based on their financial management and accountability.

Here are links to their websites:

Avenues for Homeless Youth

Coalition for the Homeless

Healthcare for the Homeless

Homeless Connections

Homeless Empowerment Program

Homeless Prenatal Program

Homeless Solutions, Inc.

Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless

The Homeless Families Foundation

Transitions Homeless Recovery Center

Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless

Union Station Homeless Services

The NFL’s official shop has all the Super Bowl gear you’ll want to wear on game day — and you can still order in time

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.

Super Bowl gear 4_3

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NFL; Yutong Yuan/Business Insider

  • The Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams takes place this Sunday, February 3, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
  • People across the world will be gathering at Super Bowl parties to watch the game and enjoy the festivities surrounding the event.
  • Regardless of who you are rooting for, make sure that you show up to your party dressed to impress by getting some official Super Bowl gear before Sunday from the online NFL Shop.

While only two teams play in the Super Bowl, the game itself is watched by millions of people all across the country.

Super Bowl parties have become their own event, with people gorging on infinitely layered dips, Olympic swimming pools of guacamole, and dangerous amounts chicken wings. Plus, because gambling is now an inherent aspect of watching sports, squares boards and prop bets are now commonplace at the parties, making the on-field spectacle must-see TV.

New England fans should have already budgeted funds for division and conference championship shirts, hats, and hoodies at the beginning of the season, while Los Angeles devotees should capitalize on their moment, because, as you know, one bad call and your dreams can vanish quicker than the velocity of a Gronk Spike.

Be the one who turn heads at your Super Bowl party by rocking some of this official gear from the NFL Shop; just make sure you don’t spill any buffalo sauce on it.

This team gear should arrive in time for the big game if you order before the end of the day on Thursday, January 31.


Stay neutral and celebrate the game with this long-sleeve T-shirt.

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Fanatics Branded

Los Angeles Rams vs. New England Patriots Super Bowl LIII Dueling Ticket Long Sleeve T-Shirt, $31.99, from NFL Shop

If you don’t have a horse in this race, but still want to feel festive, there are plenty of neutral Super Bowl-themed shirts you can don.


Don a New England Patriots AFC conference championship T-shirt.

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Fanatics Branded

Men’s New England Patriots NFL Fanatics 2018 AFC Champions T-Shirt, $34.99, from NFL Shop

If you’re a Patriots fan, add to your collection and celebrate New England’s annoyingly awesome dominance with this official AFC Champions T-shirt from the NFL Pro Line by Fanatics Branded.


Keep your head in the game with this Super Bowl snapback.

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New Era

New England Patriots New Era Navy Super Bowl LIII Side Patch 9FIFTY Snapback Hat, $31.99, from NFL Shop

Make sure this year’s game and team remains special in your mind with this official Super Bowl LIII embroidered snapback hat.


Win or lose, this shirt is perfect for Boston transplants across the country.

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Fanatics

New England patriots Super Bowl LIII Bound Hometown Slogan T-Shirt, $27.99, from the NFL Shop

Regardless of where you rest your head at night, if you are a Boston fan, you have plenty of reason to be proud this year. The Red Sox are the reigning champions in the MLB, the Celtics are one of the frontrunners in the NBA, and the Boston Bruins have a solid chance of making the NHL playoffs. Just one of those feats would be enough to keep most cities’ fans pleased with the state of their sports for half a decade. Make sure that people know you represent the city of champions with this Hometown Slogan T-Shirt from Fanatics.


Start their fandom from birth with this championship onesie.

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Fanatics Branded

Los Angeles Rams 2018 NFC Champions Infant Bodysuit, $17.99, from NFL Shop

While 33-year-old Rams head coach Sean McVay may be considered young for a typical NFL coach, there are plenty of real infants that will be plopped in front of a TV to enjoy the game this Sunday. This may be your Rams baby’s only shot to “watch” their team in the Super Bowl, so make sure they are suited up in team gear.


Keep warm in this knit winter hat.

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New Era

Los Angeles Rams New Era Super Bowl LIII Knit Hat, $31.99, from NFL Shop

Los Angeles is known for its temperate climate, but there are Rams fans spread across the US who want to simultaneously represent their favorite team and protect their ears from the dangerously frigid temperatures. The official Super Bowl logo and team logos are embroidered on this knit hat, so everyone will know who you’re rooting for in the big game.


Embody the NFL’s version of Thanos with this official team jersey.

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Nike

Los Angeles Rams Aaron Donald Nike Navy Super Bowl LIII Bound Game Jersey, $119.99, from NFL Shop

Aaron Donald is legitimately an unfair weapon for an NFL team to have on their defense. The unblockable man who is commonly compared to Thanos is a jaw-dropping talent who hopes to get close and personal with Tom Brady throughout Sunday’s game. Embody the spirit of the NFL’s most impactful defensive player by rocking his official Super Bowl jersey from Nike.


Be part of the game with this official game coin.

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Highland Mint

Los Angeles Rams vs. New England Patriots Highland Mint Super Bowl LIII Dueling Two-Tone Flip Coin, $99.99, from NFL Shop

After the conference championships ended and coin flip-gate became a widely discussed talking point for every major sports media outlet, it is unclear whether or not the game’s most exciting moment will be a part of the sport in the near future. In all seriousness, the coin flip is something that has been happening in football for decades, and if this really is the last time it impacts a playoff game, it’s totally worth splurging for this memorabilia to remember the times when a flick of the thumb potentially determined a Super Bowl championship.


Play like the pros with the official game football used in Super Bowl LIII.

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Fanatics Authentic

Fanatics Authentic Super Bowl LIII Wilson Official Game Football, $179.99, from NFL Shop

This football with the Super Bowl LIII logo embroidered on it is a great decorative piece to add to your home or office.

A Burundian asylum-seeker who fled the US explains why he left behind everything he knew to reach safety in Canada

Blaise Kidasharira, 34, talks to INSIDER just feet away from the US-Canada border, before he crossed it illegally to seek asylum.

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Blaise Kidasharira, 34, talks to INSIDER just feet away from the US-Canada border, before he crossed it illegally to seek asylum.
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Marisa Palmer/INSIDER

  • America’s immigration debate has largely revolved around the country’s southern border in the last two years – but one tiny road leading from the US to Canada has become a small-scale immigration controversy of its own.
  • Migrants from around the world have been coming to a rural village in upstate New York for a chance to cross the border into Canada and seek asylum.
  • One of those migrants, Blaise Kidasharira, told INSIDER about the conflict he fled in Burundi, and the fears that prompted him to fly to the US, where he headed straight for the Canadian border.

CHAMPLAIN, NY – Blaise Kidasharira stood at the end of Roxham Road, carrying everything he owned in two small bags.

It was barely dawn on a freezing October morning, and before he explained why he was fleeing for his life, he took a moment to apologize for his poor English, which was better than he realized.

“What I want: asylum from Canada,” he told INSIDER, as he stood just feet away from the border between New York state and the Canadian province of Quebec. “What I want is just to be safe here, and maybe in a couple months or years to see again my daughters with a safe life. There is insecurity in my country.”

He lifted a small keychain bearing a tiny photograph of his two young daughters and his wife. He said she died nearly one year ago.

Kidasharira, a 34-year-old former Doctors Without Border physician, described how a young man, a member of the “Imbonerakure” youth wing of Burundi’s ruling party, had fired the bullet that pierced her liver.

“I saw the person who killed my wife,” he said.

He said she died of septicemia, a bloodstream infection, weeks later.

Kidasharira said he was a member of the Tutsi ethnic minority, as was his late wife. He explained that the youth militia would hunt him down, and that he stood no chance in Burundi.

The only option was Canada, and the well-trodden path leading into it.

A makeshift border-crossing from the US into Canada features a smoothed, dirt path lined with garbage bins and signs warning migrants in English to

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A makeshift border-crossing from the US into Canada features a smoothed, dirt path lined with garbage bins and signs warning migrants in English to “Stop” and in French to “Arrêtez.”
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Michelle Mark/INSIDER

When asked about the family he had left behind in Burundi, Kidasharira said he was “suffering.”

“This is my seventh day or sixth day in the US,” he said. “I’ve been missing them and think about how they’re doing. They’re with my mom, actually, back in Africa, in Burundi.”

In the last two years, tens of thousands of people have entered Canada illegally at locations like Roxham Road, many of them seeking asylum they believe is out of reach in the US.

Unable to cross legally at a port of entry – Canada is obligated under the Safe Third County Agreement to turn asylum-seekers back if they’re already in the US – migrants like Kidasharira opt for Roxham Road, a quiet, dead-end road on the northern edge of upstate New York.

Read more: THE OTHER BORDER ‘CRISIS’: While America is fixated on Mexico and the wall, thousands of migrants are fleeing for Canada in a dramatically different scene

Blaise Kidasharira, 34, tells INSIDER that he recently fled Burundi because he feared for his life after his wife was killed.

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Blaise Kidasharira, 34, tells INSIDER that he recently fled Burundi because he feared for his life after his wife was killed.
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INSIDER/Marisa Palmer

David Gervais, an immigration attorney based in Plattsburgh, New York, has often encountered asylum-seekers like Kidasharira.

“It’s a whole range of people. We’ve had people from California, Texas, Connecticut, and New York City, in New York state, all over the place. A lot of different ethnic groups,” Gervais told INSIDER.

He continued: “It’s just a whole medley of different folks from different backgrounds that feel they’re not safe in the US anymore, or they’re not going to have a fair chance at an asylum hearing in the US. So they’re going to try their chances in Canada.”

Kidasharira told INSIDER he disliked the US, and believed Canada was his only option.

Kidasharira stands at the US-Canada border, as the Royal Canadian Mountain Police warn him that crossing the border is illegal.

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Kidasharira stands at the US-Canada border, as the Royal Canadian Mountain Police warn him that crossing the border is illegal.
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Marisa Palmer/INSIDER

It’s unclear what fate awaits him in Canada – though asylum-seekers are entitled to due process and allowed to explore all of their legal options, the country has said it will deport migrants who aren’t eligible for protections.

Of the nearly 40,000 people who have crossed illegally into Canada since the start of 2017, Canadian authorities have deported just 398 as of September 2018. But that number could still rise, especially as migrants continue trickling in through Roxham Road.

“Canada is a beautiful country, it’s a peaceful country,” Kidasharira said as he walked toward the border, ignoring the multiple signs warning that the ditch was illegal to cross.

“I have no fear,” Kidasharira said, just before he crossed into Canada.

Inspired by Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, lawmakers renew fight to defy Trump and end US support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress are renewing efforts to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress are renewing efforts to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
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C-SPAN

  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday renewed efforts to end US support for Saudi Arabia in the Yemen conflict.
  • Several Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for a resolution on this for some time, but struggled to gain support largely until the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
  • Khashoggi was killed by members of the Saudi government in October, sparking global outrage.
  • The Trump administration’s apparent unwillingness to punish the Saudis over Khashoggi’s killing drove many in Congress to embrace legislative actions against the kingdom.

A group of bipartisan lawmakers on Wednesday renewed a fight to restrict President Donald Trump’s war powers related to US involvement in the Yemen conflict.

The Senate in late 2018 voted in favor of a resolution to end US support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen, but House Republicans blocked any deliberation on the matter while they still had a majority. At the time, the lawmakers leading the charge for the resolution vowed to come back to the issue in 2019 once Democrats took over the House.

Fulfilling that promise, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, Republican Sen. Mike Lee, and Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday introduced an updated version of the resolution. They were were joined by House Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna, Mark Pocan, and Pramila Jayapal in this effort.

Read more: Senate rebels against Trump, moves to withdraw US support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen in historic vote

“We are going to send a strong signal to the president that the US Congress is prepared to play the role designed for us by the framers of the Constitution,” Sanders said in a statement. “The Founders specifically gave Congress – the branch closest to the people – the power to declare war. Yet we’ve been participating in war actions in the Yemeni Civil War since 2015 without the go-ahead from Congress.”

Sanders described US involvement in the Yemen war, which has included providing arms and logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition, as “unconstitutional.”

The historic December Senate vote on Yemen invoked the War Powers Act of 1973 and was the first time either chamber voted to withdraw US forces from a conflict or potential hostilities without congressional approval.

Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal killing led to a major shift in Congress on the issue of US involvement in Yemen

Lawmakers like Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy have focused on this issue for years, but largely struggled to bring their colleagues to their side until the brutal killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi..

Read more: The world is slowly turning against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman even as Trump digs his heels in

Khashoggi was killed in October 2018 by members of the Saudi government in the country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Khashoggi’s death is widely believed to have been orchestrated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – the de facto ruler of the kingdom. The writer was often critical of the Saudi royal family.

Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist, is missing.

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Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist, is missing.
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Reuters

The Trump administration stood by the crown prince despite global condemnation following Khashoggi’s killing. The support for Prince Mohammed has put him at odds with Congress, including members of the GOP foreign policy establishment who tend to align with the president on other issues.

Read more: ‘We just bombed a school bus’: Top Democratic senator slams the US for its involvement in bloody Yemen war after bus full of children hit in airstrike

A number of lawmakers who previously showed no significant interest in limiting US involvement in the Yemen conflict shifted after Khashoggi’s killing.

In an interview with The Nation on Wednesday, Khanna alluded to Khashoggi’s influence in convincing some colleagues.

Khanna said there were a few reasons for the change of heart among members of Congress. One was “dishonest” claims from members of the Trump administration about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, according to the lawmaker.

Another was concern over the “bombing of children and women.” Khanna said lawmakers were “shook” by reports of civilian casualties from airstrikes conducted by the Saudi-led coalition, as well as reports full of images of starving Yemeni children.

But Khashoggi’s death was “the final straw,” Khanna said, “and the fact that he was murdered because of his opposition to the Yemen War.”

Read more: Bernie Sanders slams US support for ‘despotic’ Saudi Arabia in Yemen and bashes Trump over Khashoggi: ‘No more! Enough death. Enough killing.’

US bombs have been at the center of a conflict that’s estimated to have killed nearly 58,000 people

The Yemen conflict, which many characterize as a civil war, began in 2015 and has since claimed roughly 58,000 lives, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

The war is largely about Saudi Arabia and Iran’s contest for dominance in the region. As the US has long viewed Iran as a top adversary, it’s supported the Saudi-led coalition’s efforts in Yemen despite concerns about reckless bombings and civilian casualties.

Senator Bernie Sanders displays a photo depicting children affected by famine because of the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

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Senator Bernie Sanders displays a photo depicting children affected by famine because of the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
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Screenshot/C-Span

The Saudis have helped induce what the UN has described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis via blockades on Yemen’s ports, which have drastically impacted the amount of aid entering the country.

Bombs made and supplied by the US have been linked to civilian casualties Yemen, including the deaths of children.

Lawmakers seem confident that the resolution to end US support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen will be successful now that Democrats control the House. But Trump can still veto it, which he’s threatened to do, and it would take a two-thirds majority in both chambers to thwart him.