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The latest news from Robert Johnson on Business Insider

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    West Virginia School Water 1 6

    While the area around Charleston, West Virginia recovers from a chemical leak that shut down water supplies for a week, with ongoing concerns about water safety, another part of the state hasn't had clean water for five months. It hasn't made a lot of headlines, but then again the town of Bud (population 487) rarely does.

    Pulling into town it's impossible to miss the Coal Miners Memorial dedicated to the men who lost their lives supporting their families and providing coal to the rest of the world.

    With a legacy like that, the people of Bud are used to a bit of hardship, and they have a culture of helping their neighbors too. It's a good thing too, because sometimes the system that's set up to provide them their most basic needs, like clean water, just isn't up to the task.

    Bud's family-owned water treatment plant, Alpoca Water Works, has maintained a boiled water advisory since last September. Spokesperson Rhesa Shrewsbury (daughter of owner Patsky McKinney) told West Virginia Public Broadcasting that problems started when the company "lost" its water operator.

    Local school Herndon Consolidated has been particularly hard hit by the crisis.

    After months of asking the school board for bottled water and watching while 250 families went without clean water, the school's new principal, Virginia Lusk, reached out to a Charleston organization to see if they could help — and that's why we were there.

    Bud West Virginia Water Crisis Herndon Consolidated School

    The school's drinking fountains are covered with garbage bags, taped to the metal, reminding students the water is unsafe to drink.

    West Virginia School Water 1 2

    While we're there, one local resident stops by to pick up some bottled water, hoping to get some of the 300 gallons sent by a North Carolina church that day before they're gone.  

    West Virginia School Water 1 3

    The water in the toilets is a dark, coffee colored brown, and we remove the tank in back to see what's coming in. It's not pretty.

    The principal is quick to point out that the problem is "no one's fault," but that doesn't get the water flowing.

    Our guide promises her that he'll do what he can to get water trucked down here, nearly two hours from Charleston, and the principal is grateful. She's concerned about causing friction and says she walked into the problem when she assumed the job last fall. "It's like I inherited a baby T-Rex," she says. 

    West Virginia School Water 1

    Shrewsbury says that the eastern part of the county is stepping in to buy and operate the water plant. "They've been working on the water since a couple weeks before Christmas and they say it's still going to take a couple more weeks."

    The plant is on a hill outside of town, up a steep muddy hill behind posted signs and a handwritten warning that says, "You will be arrested."

    West Virginia School Water 1 4

    A January 15 comment by Karen Lane Sizemore Cashwell on a West Virginia Public Broadcasting article on the school gets to the suffering of the local community:

    For now....and for the last five months...not only the school but also the many families who live in this community. The only way you can brush your teeth is with bottled water.

    Do you want to put your body parts into a bathtub of that water? But what choice do you have really? Would you wash your dishes in it? What choice do you have?

    What do you think it would do to your child's hair? What if you had an elderly mother who forgets she is not supposed to drink the water?

    What if you had to decide whether you can buy your child new winter boots or buy umpteen bottles or gallons of water? What choice do you have? You can't survive without water, which the company is still collecting money for, by the way.

    What will you do if disease strikes this community from bacteria in the water? I think you will find out the true meaning of "complicated" then. No one should rest a day while this situation is ongoing. Work out the issues TODAY.. hire a water operator TODAY! Just do it! And by the way, no one in this community has been offered one bottle of water by any agency or group....just sayin.

    Even though the water is only good for flushing toilets, residents of Bud and Alpoca say they have continued to pay monthly bills to the utility company.

    We part ways and our guide tells us that the people here will do what they've always done: rely on each other and hope for the best.

    SEE ALSO: Former West Virginia Miner: We've Been Dumping Those Chemicals In The Water For Decades

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Jody and Scott MacMillian

    Despite living in downtown Charleston, West Virginia, Jody and Scott MacMillian support their healthy, organic lifestyle by keeping several chickens in their backyard for fresh eggs. 

    When the Elk River was contaminated with 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) earlier this month, Scott immediately shut off the water to the house and waited until the water company gave the all-clear before flushing his pipes.

    "It was a mess," he said.  "I followed the water company's instructions to the letter, but running the hot water made the whole house stink like licorice."

    MCHM, a colorless oil that smells like licorice, is dangerous if ingested, comes in contact with skin, or if it is inhaled. Consequently, the couple opened windows and doors to air out their home, but they say the smell never really went away. Thus they continued using bottled water for themselves and Jody's son and rainwater for their chickens.

    A few days after we'd been in Charleston, the couple called their friend Paul Brown, president of the local activist group Keepers of the Mountains, about what they feared was a spill-related problem.

    "Our eggs are blue and when we cracked one open, it smelled like licorice," Scott said over the phone to Brown late Tuesday afternoon as he and I drove in the car.

    Brown reported back to me several days later after visiting the couple and helping to deliver the eggs to a testing agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    "The eggs definitely have a blue tint," Brown said by phone, "but we didn't crack any open because the lab wanted all the samples they could get."

    The couple had told Brown that, in addition to the tinted eggs, their chickens now have blue excrement and are fouling their roost with it for the first time. The chickens are also supposedly pecking each other like never before.

    While there's no proof of contamination yet, we can confirm that the eggs looked weird to Andrew Whelton, an assistant professor of environmental engineering at the University of Southern Alabama who is part of a team testing water in the area.

    "They were certainly odd looking," Whelton said over the phone Tuesday afternoon. "They're not all blue, but it's there in splotches. I've never seen anything like it."

    We will follow up this story with the lab results when they become available.

    SEE ALSO: Former West Virginia Miner: We've Been Dumping Those Chemicals In The Water For Decades

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    New York City Hope 2014 Annual Homeless Count 1 12

    For several freezing, early-morning hours Monday, Jan. 27, thousands of New York City volunteers patrolled the city's streets and subways looking for undocumented homeless residents.

    Last year's survey reported a 13% rise to 64,060 homeless people in shelters and on the street, bucking a national trend of declining rates. This year's numbers won't be available for a few weeks.

    Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg failed to make a significant dent in city homelessness despite an overhaul of policies in the mid-2000s, and new Mayor Bill De Blasio made the crisis a major part of his campaign.

    When Business Insider tagged along to see how the count was done, we learned that the most difficult part of helping the homeless can be finding them, particularly the thousands of chronically homeless people, who have spent at least one consecutive year without a home and typically live outside shelters and suffer mental illness, substance abuse, or physical handicap.

    Volunteers were sent to all five New York City boroughs and their subways. We went to New York's Pennsylvania Station where we met dozens of people with tragic stories, needing help more than most of us can imagine.

    New York City's Department of Homeless Services called for 3,000 volunteers Monday, Jan. 27, to help count the city's unsheltered homeless population.

    Department of Homeless Services attorney Tonie Baez delivered the rules for the complicated task ahead.

    Much of the volunteer's instructions centered around the temperature outside. When it's below freezing, during sustained winds or rain, a Code Blue calls for increased efforts from outreach teams and tonight was no different.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Prenter West Virginia Water Contamination 1 27

    With massive coal reserves acting as a natural charcoal filter, West Virginia used to be famous for its well and spring water.

    "We had the best darn water in the world," Prenter Hollow, W.V. resident Maria Lambert said when we visited her home in mid-January, "but that all changed, didn't it?"

    It took years for the Lamberts and their neighbors to accept that their water may have been contaminated by nearby mountaintop removal coal mining. Not only was mining taking away their charcoal filter, but it also threatened to contaminate their water supply with toxic chemicals.

    In a 2009 lawsuit, locals blamed broad health problems including elevated cancer, surgery, and mortality rates on mining activity. They received compensation in a 2012 out-of-court settlement with Alpha Natural Resources, which had bought the suspect mine from original owner Massey Energy. (Alpha did not respond to a request for comment on this story.)

    It's hard to say exactly how much Prenter suffered, and no one knows how common these problems are. Coal, which provides around a quarter of America's consumer energy, is so important to the local economy that people try not to ask many questions. Still, locals seem resigned to negative health effects.

    The people of Prenter eventually got off their well water and onto city tap water. In January, however, their supply was contaminated by the Elk River chemical spill, forcing them to drink bottled water for a week and leaving many uncertain about water quality even now.

    Surrounded by massive coal and chemical industries, West Virginians are used to environmental contamination that would terrify many people.

    Mostly, it happens by degrees. An isolated incident here and a sick neighbor there were subtle enough for residents to accept these conditions as the status quo.

    Even as many embrace the industries that led them here in the first place.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    West Virginia Mountaintop Coal Removal Flyover 1 13

    There's no denying the importance of coal in America. The combustible black rock provides about 40% of the United States' electricity and plays a vital role in the economy of places like West Virginia.

    But there's also no getting around major health and environmental concerns.

    One increasingly popular mining method, mountaintop removal mining, could be the most destructive yet. While traditional coal mining extracts coal from underground, the mountaintop removal method blasts away chunks of mountains to get at the coal beneath. It also controversially requires fewer workers than other methods of mining coal.

    On a recent trip to West Virginia to cover a chemical spill that shut down water for 300,000 people for a week, we rented a plane to take it all in.

    Flying above ancient Appalachian mountains that looked from high like snow-dusted moguls, it was jarring to see large sections that had been leveled off flat. Mining operations have radically disrupted massive areas, in an incredibly diverse ecosystem, and there is significant doubt about whether they will truly recover. For all we saw, it was only a small part of 800 miles of mountaintop removal mining in the region.

    West Virginia was in the news recently when this Charleston chemical storage facility accidentally released up to 10,000 gallons of the coal-cleaning chemical MCHM, into the Elk River on January 9, 2014.

    News of the spill came slowly to local residents who seemed nervous, angry, and uncertain.

    Uncertainty has become a way of life here as traditional underground mining methods like the one pictured here have been on the decline since the 1970s.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    No Women In Williston, North Dakota

    Ten years ago Williston, North Dakota was a quiet agricultural town with a population of around 12,000.

    Now, oil prices and drilling advancements have turned Williston into one of America's biggest oil boomtowns, pushing its population to over 30,000.

    The influx of workers has caused apartment rents to skyrocket. According to Apartment Guide, it's now the most expensive place in America to rent an entry-level apartment, with 700-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath apartments topping $2,000 a month. That's more than a similar apartment would go for in New York or San Francisco

    Simply put, there aren't enough apartments to meet demand from workers arriving in town, many of whom are lured by six-figure salaries. 

    And these workers aren't paying top dollar for ultra-luxury buildings with fancy amenities. According to Apartment Guide, many new buildings feature mudrooms in the front, where workers can remove their dirty shoes and overcoats. Even trailers are expensive. The ratio of men to women in Williston is about 12 to 1.

    We visited Williston in March 2012 to see how the oil boom was changing the once-sleepy town. Click through to see what life is like in what is now America's most expensive town.

    Julie Zeveloff contributed to this article.

    Williston, North Dakota is in the Northwestern portion of the state, not far from Montana and Canada.

    The town happens to sit in the center of the large Bakken oil formation — 640 square miles of oil, holding up to 34 billion barrels.

    Recent advancements in fracking allow operators to go deeper, more precisely than ever before.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    West Virginia

    There's no denying the importance of coal in America.

    The combustible black rock provides about 40% of the United States' electricity and plays a vital role in the economy of places like West Virginia.

    But there's also no getting around the major health and environmental problems caused by both coal mining and coal burning.

    One increasingly popular mining method, called mountaintop removal mining, could be the most destructive yet. While traditional coal mining extracts coal from underground, mountaintop removal mining blasts away chunks of mountains to get at the coal beneath. This method also requires fewer workers than others, thus reducing jobs (and the cost of electricity).

    In January, we went to West Virginia and rented a plane to get a better sense of what mountaintop removal mining does to the people, economy, and landscape.

    Traditional coal mining involves tunneling deep underground. This method is expensive, people-intensive, and occasionally dangerous. It has been on the decline since the 1970s.

    In the '70s, strip mine legislation opened the possibility for an alternative. It's called "mountaintop removal" (MTR). It became a popular West Virginia coal mining technique because it's far cheaper than underground mining and requires much less manpower to perform.

    The Sierra Club calls mountaintop removal mining, "Quite possibly the worst environmental assault yet." It's easy to see why.

    Source: The Missouri Sierra Club

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    In the thick of the Cold War, the Soviet Union built a revolutionary transport vessel that was bigger than any plane and faster than any ship. It was also capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

    Classified as a ground effect vehicle, the 300-foot-long Lun-class Ekranoplane flew just four meters or so off the surface of water through the ground effect generated by its large wings.

    It theoretically represented a new threat against the West, though the ship did not enter wide production and it never saw action.

    The only model ever produced, the MD-160, was retired in the late 1990s and now sits rusting at a naval station in Kaspiysk. Aviation blogger Igor113 captured some awesome pictures of the Ekranoplane and shared them here.

    At the pinnacle of the Cold War, when the Soviets were realizing they had few options left in defeating the West, the Lun-class Ekranoplane likely held high hopes for many Kremlin officials.

    Larger than a football field, the Lun was a technological innovation the likes of which the world had never seen.

    Eight powerful turbofans producing 28,600 pounds of thrust apiece — as much as the new F-35 engines — are mounted at the nose of the craft.

    Source: BGA Aeroweb

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Klaudia Kalugina

    Snipers are the most cost effective weapon in any military arsenal. Despite the massive amounts of training, snipers save the U.S. military about 249,999 rounds of ammunition for each enemy killed with nearly one kill per bullet.

    Snipers spend their mission trying to remain invisible while positioning themselves as closely to the enemy as possible. Then they wait, often for hours, even days, if that is what's required to hit a target.

    There are just nine qualified female snipers in the U.S. military today. They can all look up to a Russian girl who began working at a munitions factory when she was 15, to bring a pound-and-a-half of bread home to help feed her family.

    Klaudia Kalugina remains one of the deadliest snipers ever.

    Klaudia volunteered for Russia's sniper school when she was 17. Accustomed to manual labor, she impressed her trainers enough that she was given special instruction on her shooting. Her keen eyesight, a requisite for all 2,000 Russian female snipers of the time, pushed her abilities to the top.

    The women snipers were all members of the Communist Youth, terribly idealistic and very close to the women with whom they served. Klaudia was partnered with her best friend Marusia Chikhvintseva who was killed by a German sniper not long after they joined the war

    Klaudia's sorrow after Marusia's death may have spurred her to kill a reported 257 Axis troopsThe best U.S. sniper in history, Chris Kyle, claimed an unconfirmed 225 kills.

    Klaudia gave an interview prior to her death, reprinted here in English where she casually comments on hits she made at over one mile away.

    It's an impressive story, particularly as the U.S. Armed Forces continue its path to some type of gender equality.

    SEE ALSO: Eighteen things no Navy SEAL would leave home without

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    WWII art, military, defense

    Battlefield artists were once the only way to capture what really happened in war.

    The practice of illustrating combat for people at home began during the Civil War, when special artists, or "specials"embedded with troops on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.

    Even in World War II, more than 100 artists were sent to thirteen theaters of war. The following paintings are specific to combat dogfighting and offer a glimpse into a way of warfare the world may never see again.

    World War II dogfighting occurred over nearly every theater, including Burma in the South Pacific. Here, the U.S. Army Air Corps' "Burma Bridge Busters," provide low level attacks on Japanese supply lines.

    Outraged when his guns jammed, Parker Dupouy slammed his fighter into his Japanese opponent in a determined effort to take it down.

    Way less precise, way more aggressive.

    Germany's Walther Dahl also once rammed a B-17 with his fighter.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    greenwich Connecticut mansionsMuch like the rest of the country, America's richest neighborhoods continue to evolve in terms of racial diversity.

    In his latest Higley 1000, a list of the highest-income neighborhoods in the U.S., Stephen Higley, a professor emeritus of urban social geography at the University of Montevallo, found that the top neighborhoods are home to more Asian and Latino residents than ever before. 

    Higley ranked the most expensive neighborhoods in America based on American Community Survey 2006 - 2010 data. He aggregated contiguous block groups (subdivisions of Census tracts) with a mean income over $200,000. You can read his complete methodology here.

    #25 Purchase in Harrison, N.Y.

    Mean household income: $464,955

    Purchase is a more rural area of the town of Harrison. It features winding roads and lots of wooded areas. 

    National corporations like MasterCard and PepsiCo have established their headquarters in Purchase along I-287, which is known as "Platinum Mile."

    In the 1970s, some residents in Purchase pushed for the neighborhood to secede from Harrison and become its own village over concerns about overdevelopment. But the plan did not come to fruition.

    Purchase is 95.1% white, 3.4% Asian, 4.9% Latino, 2.0% black

    #24 Chevy Chase Village in Chevy Chase Village, Md.

    Mean household income: $466,049

    This village, less than a half square mile, sits on the line between Maryland and the District of Columbia. The Chevy Chase Land Company transformed the farmland into a carefully planned suburb.

    The founders disdained the city aesthetic and envisioned houses with broad verandas, patterned shingles and decorative cornices.

    Chevy Chase Village is 93.4% white, 1.6% Asian, 2.8% Latino, 0.5% black

    #23 Everglades Club in Palm Beach, Fla.

    Mean household income: $467,715

    Palm Beach was established by Standard Oil Tycoon Henry Flagler in 1902 when Flagler completed construction of two luxury hotels and built himself a luxury mansion.

    Within Palm Beach, the Everglades Golf Club has long been a bastion of exclusive Southern prestige and a fair bit of scandal for its membership requirements.

    The club was originally built by Paris Singer, son of the sewing machine inventor, to serve as a hospital for returning World War I veterans. When the hospital failed to open, Singer turned the sprawling building into Palm Beach's first private club.

    Everglades Club is 89.9% white, 0.8% Asian, 6.3% Latino, 1.4% black

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Atlantic City New Jersey Revel Casino Resort 1 2

    High above the gambling floor at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City are a few select enclaves, the likes of which most visitors will never see.

    To stay in one of the Borgata's two exclusive Residences, a guest must not only possess a high net worth, he or she must also have a predilection for gambling at high stakes. The comped suites are a luxury reserved for the casino's "whales," the types of gamblers that can take a slow month of revenue on the casino floor and thrust the casino's bottom line from red to black.

    Not even headlining talent is offered a stay in the Residences — only gamblers  and the casino pulls out all the stops to draw them in, as the following photos reveal.

    Welcome to one of the Borgata's Residence suites, where the casino's mega high-rollers stay and that can't be rented at any cost.

    Of course, it has amazing views of Atlantic City from its living room.

    There's also a separate, more comfortable living room with a TV and plush couches.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    borgata water club atlantic city

    Atlantic City has seen its luck turn since the high times of 2007, when guests ordered $1,000 brownies topped with gold flakes and gaming revenues flooded city coffers. Today, the city's tax base is shrinking, as resort properties lose their value and gamblers seek new options in neighboring states. Total gaming revenue fell below $3 billion last year for the first time in 22 years.

    One bright spot in this gloom is the 11-year-old Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, co-owned by Boyd Gaming and MGM Resorts.

    While city gaming revenue fell 6.2% last year, the Borgata saw a 0.7% increase. It also had the most gaming revenue at $617 million, claiming one of every five dollar gambled in the city.

    "I don't know what it is about this place,"Fernando Commandari, 52, said while sitting at a Borgata blackjack table in early February. "It always feels current, which is nice. The staff are amazing and the service is great. But why do I come here over the Revel? I honestly can't say."

    Andrew Zarnett, managing director of Deutsche Bank, offered a few reasons in an interview with the AP: "Borgata was successful thanks to a great location, well-executed design and talented management. Helping its success was a large investment in market research from the outset of development, which helped management understand the customer and implement a well-formulated plan."

    The well-formulated plan included innovations like the popular "Borgata Babes" servers, more sophisticated slot machines, celebrity chef restaurants by Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck, a popular non-gambling sister hotel called The Water Club, constant renovations, and an early foray into online gambling (it now claims 41% of the local market).

    Atlantic City New Jersey Revel Casino Resort 1 3None of this is news to Atlantic City's new mayor, Don Guardian, who shared his vision of Atlantic City with us in his office. When we mention the Borgata's success, the mayor smiled and said, "Yes, if only I had five more like it."

    The mayor has a refined energy that's impossible to miss. In our brief visit, he outlined plans for a new Atlantic City facing the prospect of fading casino revenue. This includes expanding services in the health care field and the education sector with an eye to creating as many new, non-hospitality jobs as possible.

    "I'm optimistic," he said. "I see great things for Atlantic City, I really do."

    But it's easy to see how things could get worse before they get better.

    Many casinos are on shaky ground or worse, with the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel closing in January and the Revel Casino only recently out of bankruptcy and reported to be looking for a buyout.

    With more than half the mortgages in the area underwater, 30% of residents below the poverty line, and double-digit unemployment, there are fears that Atlantic City could become the next Detroit.

    At least there's the Borgata.

    SEE ALSO: Inside The Borgata's Most Lavish Suite, Where No Amount Of Money Or Fame Can Reserve You A Night

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    Atlantic City New Jersey Revel Casino Resort 1 27

    Really expensive and worryingly empty.

    That's what we thought about Atlantic City's Revel Casino Hotel when we visited on a recent Saturday afternoon. It's not a good combination.

    Revel, which opened in 2012, has already entered and exited bankruptcy with a tremendous writedown and is now reportedly up for sale at a bargain price. It is "a magnificent failure that has obliterated at least $2 billion in investments," reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

    We photographed the beautiful interior of the casino while reflecting on how it and the rest of Atlantic City fell on hard times.

    Pulling into the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, there is a lot of free parking, even for a Saturday afternoon in February.

    The casino's troubles were obvious from early on, such as when Morgan Stanley wrote down a $932 million loss on the project in 2010, well before it opened in 2012.

    The Revel lost more than $70 million during its first two fiscal quarters of 2012 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on February 19, 2013.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Really expensive and worryingly empty.


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    Atlantic City New Jersey Revel Casino Resort 1

    Atlantic City's Water Club is nothing if not deserving of its name. Fountains abound, along with pools, spas, and saunas all within a heavy tropical atmosphere.

    It feels like a resort, with guests enjoying palm trees poolside without ever leaving the building.

    But there are parts of the Water Club  a high-end property attached to the behemoth Borgata Hotel & Casino  that most visitors will never see. The hotel's high-roller suites, called residences, are tucked neatly away on their own private floor, far above the pools and restaurants enjoyed by guests.

    Up in the residences, there is a massive, private hot tub, 24-hour butler service, and a kitchen that serves meals delivered from any of the hotel's gourmet restaurants.

    The only thing residence guests must leave their rooms for is the casino floor, because that's why they're here at the Water Club in the first place. The residences cannot be rented for any price and are given free of charge to the casino's biggest spenders.

    That exclusivity is not a joke: The largest headliners to perform at the hotel will stay a couple floors below the Residences in beautiful, but far less well appointed rooms of their own.

    The 2000-room Borgata and adjacent 800-room Water Club are hard to miss on Atlantic City's skyline.

    When guests first enter the Borgata, the massive hotel and casino complex connected to the Water Club, they're met with this incredible glass sculpture hanging over their heads by artist Dale Chihuly.

    The Water Club hotel is attached to the Borgata but has its own swanky lobby.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    USS Eisenhower (CVN-69) ("Ike")

    Aircraft carriers are the heart of the U.S. Navy. The deck of a carrier is literally a few acres of American territory floating around the world, projecting massive air and seagoing military might.

    Carriers are expensive, with new Ford-class ships running about $13 billion, but they last about 50 years.

    We visited the USS Eisenhower during a massive mine clearing effort in the Persian Gulf not too long ago.

    The Ike, which is currently undergoing repairs, is the second oldest U.S. carrier still in service; but as you'll see, her age takes nothing from her powerful presence near foreign soil.

    The USS Eisenhower was first deployed in 1975 and is not slated for replacement until around 2025.

    The U.S. Navy currently has 10 commissioned aircraft carriers, some of which can carry upwards of 90 aircraft. Thousands of men and women serve on aircraft carriers, with 5,000 pilots and soldiers serving on the Ike at any one time. Carriers are essential to U.S. power projection around the world.

    We took this picture from "Vultures Row," overlooking the flight deck as it sends F-18s on patrol over the Persian Gulf.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Imagine that you have the right degree, you impressed the right people, and aced your interviews at Facebook and Twitter in Silicon Valley. While accomplishing that may have been a long, daunting task, your hyper-employable bad-to-the-bone self now faces the toughest challenge of all — deciding which place you'd rather work.

    We checked out both companies' headquarters to see what they're like as work environments.

    First, we went to Facebook ...

    Facebook Campus

    Facebook occupies the former sprawling complex of Sun Microsystems, just north of Palo Alto on the way to San Francisco. There isn't much around the campus, but once inside workers are treated to a mecca of urban amenities. There's an array of restaurants, everything from sushi to a BBQ joint employing a Georgia chef. There is also a styling salon, a transportation center, and vending machines to serve workers every tech-addled need.

    Facebook Campus

    Twitter is right near San Francisco's Tenderloin District ...

    It's in a throbbing urban center with fresh refinement alongside up-and-coming urban grit. Inside the 1937 Art Deco building's lobby, is the original sprawling array of stone and bronze designed to leave all memory of the 1929 stock market crash in the dust.

    Twitter HQ

    Several floors up, Twitter inverts the lobby vibe with a rustic, woodsy-themed decor inspired after its bird-based logo.

    Twitter Headquarters

    Both places offer an expansive array of perks, and we'll be highlighting both tours in upcoming photo-essays. But these photos show what left us undecided on which company tempted us the most.

    SEE ALSO: New study shows Instagram beating Twitter among youth

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    When San Francisco offered Twitter a six-year suspension of its payroll tax, many local residents groaned at the loss of revenue suffered by the city. Even more residents bemoaned the fact that they'd be required to pick up the tax slack, but there was a point in the disagreement that went largely overlooked.

    Tenderloin Mid-Market Twitter San FranciscoThe reason San Francisco lawmakers were willing to forgo tens-of-millions in tax revenue is because they were desperate to clean up an area of the city known as the Tenderloin. It's one thing to say any section of a large metropolitan city is worse than another, but the Tenderloin is actually 35 times worse than the rest of the city when it comes to violent crime.

    Tenderloin Mid-Market Twitter San FranciscoThe Tenderloin block that inspired that statistic saw 248 crimes from 2010 to 2011, before Twitter arrived, among a population of only 438 people. Twitter's HQ, at 1355 Market Street is in a sprawling 1937 Art Deco building in a sub-section of the Tenderloin called Mid-Market.

    San Francisco TenderloinWhen Business Insider visited Twitter on March 6, it was 10 a.m. Walking from the subway I saw a couple dozen apparently homeless people, several others who seemed drunk, and witnessed a possible drug deal. Maybe it was something less sinister, but as one seven-year Tenderloin resident told the San Francisco Chronicle, "I can't tell you how many times I've walked right through a drug deal. You see people shooting up [on the street]. They don't care."

    It's easy to believe. When I stopped to take a picture near City Hall, crouched down on the cobblestone walkway, a woman stumbled toward me carrying a large backpack, an umbrella and a water jug.

    Tenderloin Mid-Market Twitter San FranciscoA cigarette dangling from her mouth she was lost in searching her pockets for a light when she nearly walked into me, before I called out. Her eyes were red and watery. She was very polite. "So sorry," she said, before weaving around me. My eyes were level with her waist and clipped to her front left pocket was a large folding knife. Within easy reach.

    Tenderloin Mid-Market Twitter San FranciscoTech workers at Twitter and elsewhere in the area have been pretty tight-lipped when it comes to what must be an interesting daily commute. The prostitution, drugs, and violence surround them but the city experience is part of the reason workers choose Twitter and San Fran' over Facebook and Google, father south in the hills.

    That said, the contrast between classes here is stark, if not potentially dangerous.

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    It's impossible to visit Facebook's Palo Alto campus and not run into a bit of Mark Zuckerburg lore. His presence seems everywhere within the 1 million square feet of office space spread over 57 acres of land, and he's often seen walking around like everyone else during the workday.

    Because of that there's a slight expectation that he'll stroll around the next corner, or out from the frozen yogurt shop along the Main Street-themed heart of campus.

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    Working in an environment like this poses unique opportunities, and unusual challenges. Software engineer Andrew Bosworth worked with Zuckerburg for four years when he penned an internal memo called, "Working with Zuck." Bosworth's post obviously centers on what to expect from working with the Facebook founder, but it specifically refers how to prepare for some face time with the boss in one of his brainstorming sessions with fellow engineers. A sample line: "He doesn't care what he said yesterday, even if he was presented with the same product."

    Ongoing group debates and discussions are an integral part of Facebook's culture and its success, just as much as The Hacker Way, Zuck's manifesto on the Facebook's principles, guides its business success.

    The hacker culture is found all over campus.

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    The word is blocked out in sprawling letters on the ground at Hacker Square, outside the building called Hacker Company where Zuck holds these infamous brainstorming group sessions, according to our guide Jackie Rooney. Multiple walkways painted the same color orange as the Golden Gate Bridge connect the Hacker Company with surrounding structures.

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    The room where the actual sessions are held is a glass-walled spaced on the building's corner facing the square. Inside a loose circle of stainless steel and black leather chairs are sprawled about a large flat screen TV and on the windows are three sheets of common printer paper with the words, "PLEASE DO NOT PHOTOGRAPH THE ANIMALS :-)" in bold red and black font, taped to the windows.

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    Apparently Zuckerburg got to feeling like an exhibit in there as employees and guests strolled by snapping pics on their way to a meeting.

    FacebookWe asked Jackie, our guide, if she ever sees the Facebook CEO on campus. "Yes," she says. "It's funny, I actually ran into him one day. Literally. I was looking down at my phone and rushing someplace and I walked right into him."

    Rooney says Zuck laughed, made a small nicety and continued on his way. Maybe this is something Bosworth should add to the next memo he posts on working with Zuck.  

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