Biden’s income-tax hike could hit some people earning less than $400,000 after all

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden holds the first news conference of his presidency at the White House on March 25, 2021.

  • President Joe Biden has repeatedly promised that he won’t raise taxes on those earning less than $400,000 annually.
  • But people in married couples each earning less than $400,000 may have to pay more under Biden’s tax changes, Axios reported.
  • A White House official said Biden would increase the income-tax rate for families earning more than $509,300.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Some Americans earning less than $400,000 will have to pay higher tax rates under President Joe Biden’s economic plan, a White House official told Axios on Wednesday.

In May 2020, Biden said that “nobody making under $400,000 would have their taxes raised” during his administration. But the White House official said people in married couples earning less than $400,000, filing jointly, may have to pay higher taxes.

The President plans to increase the income-tax rate from 37% to 39.6% for families earning more than $509,300, and for individuals above $452,700, the official said.

This means that a married couple each earning more than $255,000 would have to pay the higher tax rate on part of their income, because their combined income exceeds $509,300.

Biden is raising taxes on the very wealthy to pay for his $1.8 trillion spending plan to extend cash payments for parents, set up universal pre-K, and free community college.

Read more: Bernie Sanders and other liberals share why they aren’t ready to anoint Biden the next FDR just yet

“Consistent with the president’s campaign proposal, we are proposing to reverse the tax cut for the top bracket by returning that top tax bracket to what it would’ve been under pre-2017 law,” the White House official told Axios. “That applies to less than 1% of Americans – the very top earners.”

“In 2022, those pre-2017 brackets are expected to be about $452,700 in taxable income for a single individual and $509,300 in taxable income for a married couple,” they said.

Biden has repeatedly promised that he would raise taxes on the wealthy, but not on people earning less than $400,000 annually. “Nobody making under $400,000 would have their taxes raised. Period, bingo,” Biden said in an interview on CNBC in May 2020.

In March 2021, in a speech unveiling the American Jobs Plan, he said “no one, let me say it again, no one making under $400,000 will see their federal taxes go up, period.”

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The US and UK lead the world’s coronavirus vaccinations – but they may struggle to reach herd immunity if they reopen too soon

london drinks
People in England flock back to pubs and restaurants as lockdown restrictions were eased on April 12, 2021.

  • The US and UK are relaxing restrictions as their vaccinations continue to ramp up.
  • But scientists worry the countries are developing a false sense of security.
  • More contagious variants and vaccine skepticism could still pose a barrier to herd immunity.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Countries that have vaccinated more than a third of their populations are now taking huge leaps toward normal life.

The UK plans to remove all social distancing restrictions by June 21 now that nearly half its population has received shots. On April 30, the nation will experiment with its first nightclub opening in more than a year: A Liverpool warehouse is set to host 3,000 club-goers who test negative for the virus.

US vaccinations trail closely behind – around 40% of the country has received at least one vaccine dose so far. For the most part, businesses are already open in all 50 states, and 13 states have recently lifted their mask mandates.

To some extent, rolling back restrictions is a natural test of whether vaccines prevent coronavirus infections, hospitalizations, and deaths outside clinical trials. But scientists worry that countries with large vaccine rollouts could be lulled into a false sense of security.

“The worst is probably behind us, but I don’t want to suggest that let’s now sit back, relax, and enjoy life, and it’s all going to be fine,” David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Insider. “We do still need to maintain some level of vigilance because if the virus has taught us one thing, it’s that it’s difficult to predict the future.”

Two factors, in particular, could hinder progress in the US and UK: the emergence of more contagious variants and vaccine skepticism.

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts that the US could see an additional 60,000 deaths by August 1 – assuming variants continue to spread and vaccinated people start to behave normally, forgoing masks and social distancing. Under this “worst-case scenario,” daily coronavirus cases could also plateau over the next four months.

A March 30 model from Imperial College London similarly estimates that the UK could see an additional 15,700 deaths by June if the country proceeds with its reopening plan.

The US and UK probably haven’t reached herd immunity yet

vaccine healthcare workers us
A dentist receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Anaheim on January 8, 2020.

It’s not clear exactly what share of a nation’s population needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity – the threshold beyond which the virus can’t pass easily from person to person – but experts generally estimate that it’s at least 70%.

Only one large country, Israel, is probably near that goal. Around 62% of Israel’s population has been vaccinated so far.

“It would be reasonable to say Israel right now has a very high level of population protection, probably not far from herd immunity,” Eyal Leshem, director at Sheba Medical Center, Israel’s largest hospital, told Insider.

Already, Israel’s cases have fallen 94% since it started vaccinating people in December – even as the country lifted lockdown restrictions. As of last Sunday, people in Israel don’t need to wear masks outdoors anymore and all primary school students can return to in-person learning.

“Despite mass gatherings, parties, meetings, there’s no increasing cases,” Leshem said.

But scientists warn that the US and UK likely haven’t crossed the herd immunity threshold yet.

While daily coronavirus cases are falling in the UK and have remained relatively flat in the US, experts worry that rolling back restrictions could reverse some of these gains.

“Part of the reason that we’re not seeing a spike is still that people are not just going back to the way things were before,” Dowdy said. “And if we remove that effect, we will start to see cases go back up right now.”

In the US, average daily cases are still comparable to those recorded last summer.

“We’re having between 60,000 and 70,000 new infections per day and it would really, I think, not be prudent at all to declare victory prematurely and pull back,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

New variants may pose a continued threat

variant lab
Researchers sequence coronavirus samples at the microbiology laboratory of the University Hospital of Badajoz in Spain on April 15, 2021.

Many scientists caution against lifting mask or social distancing guidelines before nations understand the full threat of coronavirus variants.

In Chile, for instance, 40% of the population has been vaccinated, but average daily coronavirus cases there have more than doubled in the last two months. Scientists attribute this surge, in part, to the spread of P.1 – a variant first discovered in Brazil that seems to partially evade immunity from vaccines or previous infectious.

Studies show that vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson protect people from B.1.1.7 – now the dominant strain in the US – but are less effective against P.1 and B.1.351 (a variant first identified in South Africa). AstraZeneca’s vaccine – which has been authorized in more than 130 countries, including the UK – seems to protect people from B.1.1.7 and P.1, but is less effective against B.1.351.

Scientists have also spotted variants in California that appear to be more transmissible than the virus’ original strain and could potentially resist antibodies from vaccines, according to a new study.

More contagious variants could make herd immunity a moving target, Rahul Subramanian, a data scientist at the University of Chicago, told Insider.

“Let’s say we reach herd immunity next year – it may need to be a constant battle,” he said. “You have to keep maintaining herd immunity in the population by continuously getting people vaccinated.”

Vaccine skepticism could allow coronavirus infections to lurk

anti-vaxx protest
A protest against masks, vaccines, and vaccine passports outside the CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia on March 13, 2021.

The US is currently vaccinating around 3 million people per day, on average. Fauci has said the nation will need to keep up that pace to prevent another surge.

But maintaining the current rate of vaccinations is going to be a challenge, Dowdy added.

“The people who haven’t been vaccinated by now generally are, in many cases, people who don’t want to be vaccinated or have some concerns about being vaccinated,” he said.

A recent poll from Monmouth University found that 1 in 5 Americans still aren’t willing to get a coronavirus vaccine. That’s compared to three-quarters of people in the UK who say they’re “very likely” to get vaccinated, according to a February Oxford University survey.

If unvaccinated people don’t social distance or wear masks, the nations could ultimately struggle to prevent future outbreaks.

“You can vaccinate 50% of the population, but if it’s the wrong 50% – the 50% who are at the lowest risk of getting COVID to start with – then it doesn’t mean that you magically then cross a threshold,” Dowdy said. “The key is to get those numbers high enough so that even in the populations that are at highest risk of getting infection, you’re having enough vaccination to make a difference.”

For now, at least half the people in the US and UK still haven’t had their shots. And it could be several months, at the earliest, before coronavirus vaccines are authorized for children – which make up roughly 20% of the populations in the UK and US.

Until then, scientists said, it’s important to maintain mask and social distancing guidelines.

“Getting people vaccinated is a gradual process,” Dowdy said, “so we need to also make reopening a gradual process, too.”

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Store owners in Minneapolis are boarding up ahead of the Derek Chauvin murder-trial verdict, fearing potential unrest

george floyd derek chauvin trial
Law enforcement stands guard as crews remove artwork from temporary fencing outside the Hennepin County Government Center on April 2, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

  • Businesses in Minneapolis are preparing for the Derek Chauvin murder-trial verdict.
  • Fearing unrest, some restaurant and store owners are boarding up their premises.
  • An owner of a dry cleaners told the New York Times he’d cleared out his store.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Stores and restaurants in Minneapolis are preparing for potential unrest as they await the verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial.

Chauvin, a 45-year-old former police officer, is accused of killing George Floyd in May 2020. Floyd died after Chauvin kneeled on his body for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

The jury heard closing arguments of the trial on Monday. The verdict could arrive this week.

Floyd’s death triggered months-long protests over racism and police brutality in the US and worldwide. Some stores, including in Minneapolis, were damaged or looted, and now some business owners in the city are preempting possible unrest after the Chauvin verdict by boarding up or emptying their stores.

The Wall Street Journal reported that some businesses, including a Target, were boarded up on downtown’s Nicollet Mall. The New York Times also reported that phone stores, furniture shops, restaurants including Quruxlow and Hook Fish & Chicken, and Mercado Central, a Latino market in the city, had been boarded up.

An NPR reporter tweeted on Wednesday that Haskell’s wine shop was also boarded up.

Samir Patel, owner of dry-cleaning shop Elite Cleaners, told the Times on Monday that he’d moved customers’ clothes to his home. He hadn’t boarded up the shop, he said.

“We don’t know what will happen,” he added.

Read more: Derek Chauvin’s trial is testing the stress levels of Black Americans. Here’s what leaders and allies can do to help.

Patel said his shop suffered half a million dollars in damage in the civil unrest following Floyd’s death. He had to exhaust his savings and retirement accounts to reopen the business, he said. The city looked like “a war zone” at the time, he added.

From Wednesday, schools in Minneapolis will switch to remote learning, and razor wire has been wrapped around police buildings. National Guard troops are already present in some areas of downtown Minneapolis.

Insider has reached out to other businesses and retailers in Minneapolis to see how they’re preparing.

Are you a business owner in Minneapolis? Get in touch with this reporter via Twitter, or email kduffy@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Global coronavirus deaths just topped 3 million, led by surges in India and Brazil

brazil covid deaths
Cemetery workers in full protective gear lower a coffin that contain the remains of a person who died from complications related to COVID-19 at the Vila Formosa cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, March 24, 2021.

Global coronavirus deaths surpassed 3 million on Saturday, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. That means more people have died of the coronavirus than inhabit Lisbon, Portugal or Chicago, Illinois.

More than a third of those deaths occurred in just three counties: the US, Brazil, and India.

The US represents by far the majority of the world’s coronavirus deaths, due in large part to a devastating winter surge. More than 566,000 people in the US have died of the coronavirus thus far – nearly 20% of the global total.

Brazil has reported nearly 370,000 total coronavirus deaths, while India has reported around 175,000.

“This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic where we have proven control measures,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for COVID-19, said earlier this week. “It is time right now where everyone has to take stock and have a reality check about what we need to be doing.”

The world hit a similarly sobering milestone in January, when coronavirus deaths topped 2 million. Coronavirus deaths topped 1 million in September.

But the landscape of the pandemic is different now: Countries are in a race to get shots into arms as quickly as possible as they battle more contagious variants that, in some cases, can evade protection from vaccines.

The available vaccine supply is still scarce in many parts of the world: COVAX, the UN-sponsored program to ensure equal distribution of coronavirus vaccines, has only delivered enough doses for roughly 0.25% of the world’s population. In low-income countries, just 1 in more than 500 people have received their shots, compared with 1 in 4 people in high-income countries, according to the WHO.

In India and Brazil in particular, slow vaccine rollouts, a lack of social distancing, and the spread of variants has pushed hospitals into crisis mode yet again.

Large gatherings abound in India as deaths climb

India has immunized less than 8% of its population since its national vaccine program started exactly three months ago. During that time, average new daily coronavirus deaths have increased more than four-fold, from around 180 per day to more than 1,000 per day. Local media outlets have reported long lines at hospitals, ventilator shortages, and bodies piling up at crematoriums.

“Earlier 15 to 20 bodies were coming in a day and now around 80 to 100 dead bodies are coming daily,” Kamlesh Sailor, the president of a trust operating a crematorium in Surat, told Bloomberg earlier this week.

At the same time, local residents have gathered for large events that could fuel the virus’ spread, including election rallies, festivals, and religious pilgrimages. At least 50 million Hindus crowded along the Ganga river earlier this week for a religious festival that has now been linked to at least 2,000 coronavirus cases.

Like many countries, India is also dealing with its own local variants: Scientists from the Indian state of Maharashtra identified a new strain in March that’s linked to between 15% and 20% of cases there.

GettyImages 1230997486
A health worker administers the AstraZeneca vaccine to a member of the Gurugram Police in Gurugram, India on February 5, 2021.

A ‘raging inferno of an outbreak’ in Brazil

Brazil’s average daily coronavirus deaths have also doubled in the last three months, from around 950 per day to more than 2,800 per day. Overwhelmed hospitals are now running low on supplemental oxygen and sedatives.

“What you are dealing with here is a raging inferno of an outbreak,” Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to the WHO director general, said at a press briefing on April 9.

In December, Brazil become a hotspot for P.1, a more contagious variant that seems to partially evade immunity from vaccines or previous infectious.

A March study suggested that P.1 was 40% to 120% more transmissible than earlier versions of the virus. Researchers from Brazil’s leading public-health body, Fiocruz, warned last Wednesday that the variant is mutating in “particularly worrying” ways that could make it more resistant to vaccines.

Meanwhile, just 12% of Brazil’s population has been vaccinated so far.

brazil coronavirus covid-19
The remains of a woman who died from complications related to COVID-19 are placed into a niche by cemetery workers and relatives at the Inahuma cemetery in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on April 13, 2021.

Brazil rejected an offer to purchase 70 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine in August, instead betting on AstraZeneca’s shot to drive its vaccine rollout. With doses from the nation’s two biggest laboratories now in short supply, Brazil is relying on backup doses of China’s Sinovac shot.

“The big problem is that Brazil did not look for alternatives when it had the chance,” Claudio Maierovitch, former head of Brazil’s health regulator, told the Associated Press. “When several countries were placing their bets, signing contracts with different suppliers, the Brazilian government didn’t even have vaccination on its agenda.”

Language from Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has also fueled vaccine skepticism. Bolsonaro previously joked that the Pfizer shot could “turn you into an alligator.”

Over the course of the pandemic, Bolsonaro has also questioned the effectiveness of masks, rebuffed calls for lockdowns, and suggested that the virus is no more than a “little flu.”

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Tim Cook wants Americans to be able to vote on their iPhones

Tim Cook, Apple CEO
Apple CEO Tim Cook attends the world premiere of Apple’s “The Morning Show” at David Geffen Hall on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, in New York City.

Would you feel comfortable voting via iPhone?

Apple CEO Tim Cook suggested that concept in a new interview with The New York Times, published just days after Cook joined a growing coalition of business leaders who criticized a restrictive new Georgia voting law.

“I would dream of that, because I think that’s where we live,” Cook said when Swisher asked if the tech would be the answer to some modern voting issues, like fraud. “We do our banking on phones. We have our health data on phones. We have more information on a phone about us than is in our houses. And so why not?”

America’s voting systems are notoriously low-tech, which stands in glaring contrast to modern systems of banking, commerce, and healthcare.

“It’s pretty arcane,” Cook said of America’s voting apparatus. “I think we’re probably all having the wrong conversation on voting rights. We should be talking about using technology.”

Read more: The 11 biggest hacks and breaches of the past decade that are still causing reverberating damage

Incorporating updated technology – like iPhones – in the voting process could expand the reach and accessibility of voting to more Americans, he argued.

Of the voting age population in the US, just shy of 67% voted in the 2020 presidential electionthe highest percentage of any election in over 100 years.

“How can we make it so simple that our voting participation gets to 100? Or it gets really close to 100. Maybe we get in the 90s or something,” Cook said.

Though voting through smartphone could expand accessibility for some voters, cybersecurity experts speaking to CBS News last November listed a number of ways it could also disenfranchise other voters: Security issues, the cost of iPhones, internet access, and voter identification were all among the main issues cited.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Tim Cook condemned Georgia’s new election law, the latest CEO speaking out on voter-suppression concerns

Tim Cook Apple Park speech
Tim Cook gave a speech from the Apple Park in California.

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook came out against Georgia’s restrictive new voting law on Thursday.
  • “It ought to be easier than ever for every eligible citizen to exercise their right to vote,” he said.
  • He is the latest CEO to speak out on voter-suppression concerns.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has slammed Georgia’s controversial new election law, joining the ranks of other CEOs who have done the same.

The Republican-backed law, known as SB 202, will reform many aspects of elections and voting in Georgia and critics say that it suppresses the right to vote.

“The right to vote is fundamental in a democracy. American history is the story of expanding the right to vote to all citizens, and Black people, in particular, have had to march, struggle and even give their lives for more than a century to defend that right,” Cook told Axios in a statement published Thursday.

“Apple believes that, thanks in part to the power of technology, it ought to be easier than ever for every eligible citizen to exercise their right to vote,” he added.

“We support efforts to ensure that our democracy’s future is more hopeful and inclusive than its past.”

Other business leaders who have spoken out against the law include Delta CEO Ed Bastian, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey, and JP Morgan chase CEO Jamie Dimon. Delta and Coca-Cola are both headquartered in Georgia.

Read more: GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger on recognizing the QAnon threat and not fearing a GOP primary challenger for voting to impeach Trump

More than 70 Black executives have signed a letter, calling on companies across the US to publicly denounce the new laws as suppressing voters, particularly the state’s Black voters, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

Civil-rights group and democratic officials have slammed the law, saying it suppresses voters, particularly those who are Black, and have also called on firms in the state to also speak out about it.

President Joe Biden described the new law as “a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience,” and likened it to “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 24 best Airbnb beach houses in the US, including an oceanview home in Malibu, a private island in Hilton Head, and a beachfront cottage in Cape May

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

best airbnb beach houses

  • With warm weather on the horizon, beach vacations are top of mind for spring and summer getaways.
  • Airbnbs with direct beachfront or private beach access are a great way to ensure social distancing.
  • From Malibu to Cape Cod, we found top beach homes ranging from $101 to $650 per night.

With vaccine rollouts underway, many travelers are eager to start making plans for spring and summer travel and it’s no surprise that Airbnbs with beachfront access continue to rank among the most searched for filters on the vacation rental platform.

After all, who doesn’t want to wake up to the sound of waves crashing right outside their back porch, or take a moonlit stroll along the sand after the sun goes down? Though, if you’d prefer to cool off in an Airbnb with a private pool instead, we have plenty of options for that too.

If a beach vacation is on your mind, from sea to shining blue sea there’s no shortage of beautiful beachfront options across the US.

Browse all Airbnb beach houses below, or jump to a specific area here:

Here are the best Airbnb beach houses, sorted by region and then by price from low to high.

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Charming beachfront cottage in Cape May, New Jersey, $155

Cape May, New Jersey  Charming Beachfront Tranquility

Book this New Jersey beach home starting at $155 per night

Set along one of the Jersey Shore’s most charming seaside Cape May, this cozy bayfront cottage is great for those seeking a tranquil getaway. With just one bedroom, this home is best suited for couples and solo travelers, though it is also pet-friendly.

It’s important to note, this is a two-family home and while this space is completely private and uses a private entrance, the other side of the house is occupied, which might not work for some guests. You are also required to bring your own linens to fit the Queen-sized bed.

The soothing location is unparalleled and you’ll love spending time on the private back deck, which includes a hammock and leads directly out to the beach. The front porch with chairs and an umbrella adds additional space for spending time enjoying the sea breeze. Inside, decor is simple but has all you need, including a red leather couch in the living area, an all-white kitchen with a dining table for two, and ocean photos in the bedroom.

There are a few scattered dates left over the next few months, with full availability in September.

Beach suite in Gloucester, Massachusetts, $194

7. Gloucester Cottage

Book this Massachusetts beach home starting at $194 per night

The charming seaside town of Gloucester, pronounced Glah-Sta, in coastal New England comes alive in the summertime. From long walks on a private beach to romantic dinners on the deck, this one-bedroom beachside retreat will make a great little getaway for couples. 

Not only does the property come with a beachfront location, but beach passes are included, which would otherwise run between $25 to $30 per day. You may also book indulgent add-ons from in-house massages to whale watching expeditions directly with the host for added convenience.

While this is a separate guest suite with its own private entrance, the entire cottage consists of three units that are each rented separately. Though, you can combine listings to book the entire property. 

This home still has availability in April, May, and September but is largely booked up for the summer months.

Oceanfront house in Saco, Maine, $259

11. The Beachhouse in Saco, Maine

Book this Maine beach house starting at $259 per night

If luxury finishes and panoramic views of the ocean sounds like your kind of vibe, then consider this oceanfront haunt in Saco, Maine. Enjoy coffee or wine from the upstairs balcony before taking a walk along Ferry Beach or Camp Ellis Pier.

Ideal for bigger groups, the listing includes two bedrooms and common spaces that are capable of sleeping up to eight people. Though, the standout draw is no doubt the beachfront location and gorgeous water views, along with the quiet community the house is located in. The home offers the chance to catch particularly stunning sunrises and sunsets.

Other perks include a Smart TV with Netflix, beach chairs, and free parking included in the stay, as well as a digital guidebook handy for helping guests explore the area.

This listing still has several days available in May and early June, but is quickly filling up for summer.

Home by the sea in York, Maine, $350

York, Maine  Little Sea Star Castle

Book this Maine beach house starting at $350 per night

Just one hour north of Boston and one hour south of Portland, Maine, the Little Sea Star Castle is tucked away along Nubble Point in York Beach, Maine. One of 12 oceanside cottages within the LightHouse Village Colony, the house is set on nearly two acres, with over 175 feet of oceanfront splendor that boasts sunny, southern exposure and rugged rocky coastlines.

The cottage offers plenty of interior and exterior space to lounge. The roof deck offers panoramic views over the ocean for an idyllic place for coffee or cocktails to start and end your day, and the lawn includes Adirondack chairs and a picnic table for outdoor dining. The kitchen comes with everything you need to make yourself at home, and beachy accents like starfish pillows and mini sailboats on the dressers keep it on theme.

Guests who’ve stayed here raved about everything from the stellar location among scenic walking trails along the water to the host’s ability to make them feel right at home. 

While there is still scattered availability in May, this home books up quickly, so be sure to make reservations far in advance.

Ocean oasis in Ocean City, Maryland, $395

Ocean City, Maryland  Ocean City Oasis

Book this Ocean City beach house starting at $395 per night

Offering uninterrupted bayfront views, this cozy townhome in Ocean City, Maryland is the ideal locale for your beach vacation. Sip your morning coffee on your private balcony, enjoy steamed crabs on the large bayfront deck, or kick back with a cocktail and watch the sunset right from the living room. 

The layout is an open-living concept with a master bedroom upstairs that includes a private balcony and King-size bed. The second bedroom offers a Queen bed and there’s also a beige striped sectional couch that converts to a bed in the living room. Wicker furniture and deep blue quilts and pillow give this home a subtle beach vibe.

Located on a corner lot of the bay, the owner is explicit in the listing that this is not meant for partiers or large group gatherings. If you’re looking for a chill and relaxing beach getaway, this is the place for you.

This townhouse is a brand new listing on Airbnb and right now, summer dates are wide open.

Beachfront home with bay views in Milton, Delaware, $400

10. Beachfront Home in Milton, Delawarejpg

Book this Delaware beach home starting at $400 per night

Featuring both beachfront and bayfront views, this spacious four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in the quiet community of Broadkill Beach in Milton, Delaware offers unobstructed water views from almost every room. 

The home has a coastal design with plenty of natural light and soft tones. The well-equipped kitchen includes unique tiling, a large island, and turquoise bar stools ideal for grabbing a quick bite to eat or enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning.

One room includes bunk beds decked out in comforters with a cute whale pattern for kids. Past guests particularly liked the quiet location and beautiful sunrises over the bay.

This listing tends to book far in advance with the first available dates in September. It may even be worth planning and booking a beach trip for 2022 now.

Chic beachfront cottage in North Fork, New York, $650

16. lazing Ocean Sunsets in North Fork, NY

Book this North Fork beach home starting at $650 per night

Set on a secluded stretch of Long Island’s illustrious North Fork, this two-bedroom beachfront cottage is a great place to hang beachside or go wine tasting at one of the area’s many charming vineyards.

Wander along the private beach path before dining alfresco at the picnic-style outdoor table. An Airbnb Plus listing, the cottage’s chic palette features crisp, minimalist whites and neutrals, creating a sense of serene seaside solitude ideal for a quiet getaway.

This home still has availability starting in mid-August.

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Cozy home in North Topsail Beach, North Carolina, $101

1. North Topsail Beach

Book this North Carolina beach home starting at $101 per night

A cute condo set directly on North Topsail Beach in North Carolina, this is a great option for couples or small families looking for a low-key beach getaway. The bedroom comes with a Queen bed and there are also Twin bunk beds built directly into the hallway.

Completely renovated in 2020, the apartment has a nautical-beach theme decorated in soft blue and yellow hues. Big windows make soaking up the beach views from the living room easy, but you can also head out to the beachfront balcony for a closer look. 

Colorful purple and yellow decor makes for a fun stay, including the floral print couch and matching yellow kitchen chairs. A seashell bed quilt and striped bar stools at the eating nook add additional beach flair.

This home still has a few dates open in April but is largely booked up for summer until the beginning of September.

Waterfront beach bungalow in Jarvisburg, North Carolina, $125

Jarvisburg, North Carolina, Waterfront beach bungalow

Book this one bedroom bungalow starting at $125 per night 

Whether you want to relax on your own private beach or hop in a kayak and explore miles of pristine and undeveloped beaches and cypress tree-filled coves, this bungalow in Jarvisburg, North Carolina is just the ticket.

Set at the confluence of the North River and the Albemarle Sound, this home is pet-friendly, so bring your furry friends along. The bedroom offers a Queen sized bed as well as a futon and is capable of sleeping extra guests in total if you don’t mind the squeeze.

While not exactly modern, the bungalow has a homey vibe, with string lights along the ceiling, a bright desk and bookcase, and purple cushions on the futon. Guests here have praised the home’s tranquil location and amenities, including the charcoal grill and outdoor fire pit. The house is only 15-minutes away from unspoiled shorelines and the beaches of the Outer Banks.

Limited dates are available in May and June with July being most booked. If you’re looking for a late summer break from the heat, dates right now are completely wide open in August and beyond.

Ocean and bay view beach house in Bolivar Peninsula, Texas, $130

Bolivar Peninsula, Texas  Ocean and Bay View Beach House

Book this Texas beach home starting at $130 per night

Located on the bay side of the Bolivar Peninsula on Texas’ Gulf Coast, this home offers one standard bedroom and lofted room, plus plenty of views of both the Gulf of Mexico and East Bay. The home is located just a few miles away from popular bird-watching areas, including Bolivar Flats, Anahuac national wildlife refuge, and the Smith Oak sanctuary.

Bright and airy, this house is set up on stilts and underneath the house, you’ll a grill and private sitting area. However, the wraparound porch is likely where you’ll spend the bulk of your time soaking in the view from the wooden Adirondack chairs. Inside isn’t bad either, with soaring pitched ceilings, a big blue sectional sofa, and marble countertops and bar stools at the kitchen.

There are still some dates available in May. However the house is booked all of June with some availability again in July and August.

Oceanfront condo with a pool in Cape Canaveral, Florida, $150

Cape Canaveral, Florida  Casual Oceanfront Condo With a Pool

Book this Florida beach home starting at $150 per night

Serenity awaits at this casual oceanfront condo in Florida’s Cape Canaveral. Set on a beautiful private beach, this home is an Airbnb Plus property thanks to its standout decor and amenities, which include blues of every hue from the turquoise velvet armchair to the robin’s egg backsplash in the kitchen. A mirror made out of oars, a mermaid statue, and an octopus painting over the couch are all fun touches for a beach home.

This is also a great place to spend your time kayaking, paddle boarding, or enjoying some much-needed time just lounging the beach, which is just steps away. Within minutes of downtown Port Canaveral and the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier, there’s plenty to do right nearby.

Right now, there is availability in May, as well as the second half of July and all of August. 

Home overlooking the sound in Hertford, North Carolina, $151

Hertford, North Carolina  Sunrise over the sound

Book this North Carolina beach home starting at $151 per night

Step into the backyard of this spacious home on the Albemarle sound and you’ll find nothing but peace and tranquility. Located in a quiet neighborhood in Hertford, North Carolina, the house is ideal for bigger families or groups of friends.

Start and end your day on the wooden dock, which comes with a bench for you to sit and watch the sunrise. Apart from the views directly overlooking the sound, highlights here include the coffee bar in the kitchen, a gas log fireplace in the living room, and a fully covered and screened-in porch area for enjoying some home-cooked barbecue from the grill.

The house also comes with a washer/dryer and high-speed WiFi if you’re looking to take a workation.  

Right now, dates are wide open starting in May, with scattered availability in June, July, and the beginning of August.

Pet-friendly oceanfront condo in Fripp Island, South Carolina, $200

Fripp Island, South Carolina  Pet Friendly Oceanfront Condo

Book this South Carolina beach home starting at $200 per night

Whether you watch dolphins from the privacy of your balcony, walk to the beach, or laze the day away by the pool, this oceanfront condo on Fripp Island, South Carolina offers a little something for everybody.

Located in a private community just a stone’s throw from one of the state’s most beguiling beaches at Hunting Island State Park, the area offers miles of unspoiled beaches and is frequented by birders and nature lovers for some of the best animal sightings in the area.

The condo, which is located on the second floor, offers one Queen bedroom and a second bedroom with a twin bed. Guests here have access to the community pool, beach, and two bikes. The unit also comes with a washer and dryer and is great for families with pets looking for a low-country getaway.

Right now, there’s limited availability in May and June, however there are still plenty of dates open for booking in July, August, and beyond.

Oceanfront condo in Isle of Palms, South Carolina, $221

Isle of Palms, South Carolina Oceanfront Condo

Book this South Carolina beach house starting at $221 per night

Watch the waves roll in as you enjoy your morning coffee on the private terrace from the bright yellow Adirondack chairs of this modern Isle of Palms condo in South Carolina. 

Newly renovated and found on the third floor, this condo is especially ideal for families with young children since it offers a King-size bed in the master and bunk bed in the hallway. The decor is tasteful, but still has a beachy theme with coral pillows, a gray sofa, velvet armchairs, and a modern kitchen with a funky blue stone backsplash.

The building has easy access to the beach and a private fishing pier, as well as a community pool and coin laundry facility. 

There’s plenty of availability here starting at the end of June and going into July and most of August.

Chesapeake Bay beach cabin in Norfolk, Virginia, $235

Norfolk, Virginia  Chesapeake Bay Beach Cabin

Book this Virginia beach home starting at $235 per night

A brand new beach cabin on Chesapeake Bay, this spacious home is just steps from the beach with plenty of room for families and groups to spread out.

In the summertime, guests here enjoy watching the sailing regattas from the balcony on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, as well as walking to nearby Ocean View Beach Park to listen to live music.

Decor is simple but useful, with wicker furniture accents, ocean-themed artwork, wood floors, and a big kitchen. A plaid couch and floral armchair are comfy spots to relax, though they may feel a bit dated. A simple patio out back adds additional hangout space.

Right now there’s plenty of availability in May, June, July, and August.

Waterfront nest cottage in Long Beach, Mississippi, $301

9. The Nest in Long Beach Mississippi

Book this Mississippi beach house starting at $301 per night

Set on the Mississippi Gulf Coast on ever-popular Long Beach, the nest waterfront cottage features breathtaking views over the gulf, a spacious front porch, and direct beachfront access.

A great option for family vacations or trips with groups, the two bedrooms can easily accommodate up to six people. The large patio with comfy wicker furniture and idyllic views also sets this listing apart from others in the area.

Inside, modern interiors include a spacious kitchen with marble countertops, soaking tubs in the bathrooms, and living room couches that face views of the water. 

This home still has good summer availability, with most of July and August free.

Spacious beach house in Hilton Head, South Carolina, $364

15. Private Beach House Hilton Head

Book this Hilton Head beach house starting at $364 per night

Located on half an acre along Port Royal Sound, this three-bed, four-bath manse is capable of sleeping up to 10 people. Adjacent to a 40-acre nature preserve, staying here comes with direct views over the sound, plus private access to the beach. 

With an expansive, well-groomed yard for playing or relaxing under large oak trees covered in Spanish Moss, the house is also open to those looking to host a small, picture-perfect wedding or retreat with the beach and ocean as the backdrop.

This popular spot still has a few dates open in July, August, and September.

The Private Islands of Old House Cay in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, $570

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina  The Private Islands of Old House Cay

Book this private island beach house starting at $570 per night

Instead of just a regular old cottage with beach access, opt for your own private island on Old House Cay. Accessible only by boat, this is as secluded and off-the-grid as it gets.

Just a ten-minute ride away from neighboring Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, the home is part of a series of private islands that you’ll have all to yourself over your stay. Guests here love to experience everything from boating, fishing, and kayaking to just lounging around the island and going for long beach walks. As far as getting around goes, the owners will take you and your guests back and forth from Hilton Head on their private boat

Accommodations include a large, multi-story home with gorgeous wood floors, high ceilings, a modern kitchen, and a big blue dining table with room for the whole crew. All wood walls give it a hint of a cabin feel, while bright pillows and quilts add pops of color. A wooden deck with a fire pit out front is a lovely place to relax or make s’mores into the evening. 

Considering how truly unique this offering is, it’s no surprise that dates are limited and tend to book up quickly. Right now, there are only a handful of days left in May and July, with August and September pretty much wide open. 

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Charming beachfront condo in Carlsbad, California, $268

Carlsbad, California  Charming Beachfront Condo

Book this California beach house starting at $268 per night

Open your door and step directly onto the sand at this charming beachfront condo in the heart of Carlsbad, California. 

Within walking distance to Carlsbad Village, which is chock full of amazing restaurants and boutiques, this cozy one-bedroom is ideal for solo travelers and couples. This two-story condo unit is located on the ground floor and features a brick fireplace, a small dining table and kitchen, a blue sofa with colorful pillows, and a private balcony with a table and chairs that overlook the ocean just a few feet away.

Right now there’s plenty of availability starting in May, with a handful of dates in June, July, and completely wide open dates in August.

Cozy ocean view cabin in Trinidad, California, $279

4. A cozy ocean view cabin in northern California

Book this California beach house starting at $279 per night

Tucked away in verdant Patrick Point State Park in northern California, this rustic two-bedroom cabin features incredible ocean views amid a private forest atmosphere. 

Some of the top-rated features include the oversized Jacuzzi hot tub, a picnic area overlooking the ocean, and a fire pit for roasting marshmallows after a long beach day. The yard offers ample space for enjoying time outside away from any crowds, and lucky guests might even spot whales while relaxing in the Adirondack chairs on the lawn.

The house is set on steep cliffs, which means you have phenomenal views, but won’t be able to walk right out onto the beach. Instead, you will have to wind your way down to the shores below.

This popular home has a few scattered dates available over the next few months, with more availability in the fall. 

The beach house at Shelter Cove in Port Orford, Oregon, $325

Port Orford, Oregon  The beach house at Shelter Cove

Book this Oregon beach house starting at $325

Set on a cul-de-sac in the quiet neighborhood of Port Orford along the Oregon coast, this three-bedroom beach house is protected by old-growth forest and faces a cove where orcas are known to stay and take shelter.

With gorgeous bay windows and total privacy within the neighborhood, along with private beach access and unobstructed views of the Lighthouse at Cape Blanco, it’s tough to beat the spectacular setting. A private trail off the backyard takes you directly to Shelter Cove.

The house itself offers big windows for a light and airy feel, a neutral color palette of grays and creams, huge bedrooms, and a porch complete with a dining table, as well as a small fire pit in the yard.

Right now there’s still availability in May, June, and July. August is completely booked.

Oceanview apartment at Shelter Cove in Northern California, $348

Whitehorn  California  Ocean View Apartment at Shelter Cove in Northern California

Book this Northern California beach house starting at $348 per night

Perched above a cliff overlooking the Pacific and Black Sands Beach, this one-bedroom northern California home is perfect for a romantic couples getaway.

Inside the guest unit that occupies an entire floor, you’ll find a private entrance and your own private wrap-around deck. The unit has a bedroom with California King Bed, plus a modern kitchen, bathroom, and a living room complete with a fireplace. As a huge added bonus, this spot even has its own hot tub that directly faces the ocean.

Take the trail to the beach from the property or walk or bike to any of the nearby beaches, restaurants, cafes, bars, and golf courses. The owner notes that you will need a car to get around, as there is no public transportation available. This home has a strict no pets policy and isn’t suitable for young children.

Right now there’s plenty of availability left this summer. 

Romantic beachfront apartment in Malibu, California, $496

airbnb beach houses malibu

Book this romantic apartment starting at $496 per night

For a little seaside romance, this sweet one-bedroom Airbnb Plus listing is well-placed on the iconic shores of Malibu for sweeping, dramatic views that feel like plucked from a Nicholas Sparks novel.

Light and airy, this seaside haven is impeccably decorated with pristine white fixtures that stand out against natural wood floors and beams. Unique details like a small, wire Eiffel Tower perched on an antique desk and old framed letters and clippings add whimsical charm.

Fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves after enjoying drinks on the deck as you catch a sunset. The comfy deck chairs also beckon guests to curl up for an afternoon snooze by the sea. 

This super popular house tends to book almost a year in advance. The first available dates are in December and it may be well worth it to book for 2022 now.

Beach cottage with amazing views in Cannon Beach, Oregon, $608

14. Cannon Beach, Oregon

Book this beach cottage starting at $608 per night

This modern beachfront property in beautiful and iconic Cannon Beach, Oregon has easy beach access just 100 feet from the front door. 

Inside, large picture windows offer unobstructed ocean views and a gas fireplace makes for a cozy spot on chilly evenings. The outdoor shower is a nice way to rinse away sand after a beach day and the addition of an outdoor balcony or a nightly bonfire with s’mores in the yard add nice curbside appeal.

The pet-friendly home is located on a quiet residential street with free street parking and is within easy access of plenty of shops, grocery stores, and restaurants.

This listing has some availability in March and April and opens up even more in May.

FAQs

Are Airbnbs safe?

While the urge to get out into the world is strong, there is no guarantee that travel is safe just yet. That’s why we strongly encourage following guidelines and advice from leading health organizations including the CDC. It’s also prudent to stay up to date on the local and state laws before planning a vacation of any kind, along with being proactive when it comes to wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, and maintaining social distancing no matter where you go.

However, for those who are worried about safety when it comes to booking an Airbnb, according to experts and the CDC, booking an entire home rental is one of the safest options for travelers right now. Airbnb has also rolled out new Enhanced Clean protocols that all hosts must now follow. 

What should I look for in an Airbnb?

Sorting through the vast array of homes available on Airbnb can be tough. Consider using criteria similar to what we use, which includes looking at the average rating, as well as reading up on recent reviews to ensure the home is still in top shape. Look for Superhosts and consider sorting by Airbnb Plus or Airbnb Luxe if you want a higher-end stay that’s been vetted for exceptional amenities, decor, and hosting. 

Of course, for a beach getaway, location will be key. Be sure to look on the map and ensure before booking that the home is actually close to the beach. You don’t want to arrive only to find out you actually need to take a 30-minute car ride before your toes can hit the sand. 

What is Airbnb’s cancellation policy?

Cancellation policies on Airbnb differ from home to home and are set by each individual host. You can find a full breakdown of Airbnb’s cancellation policies here.

Find more great Airbnb beach homes

best airbnbs cape cod chatham waterfront
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California and Florida just announced April dates when all adults can get vaccines – here’s when every state will expand its rollout

texas vaccine covid
A medical staffer after receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Houston on December 21.

  • At least 35 states will meet Biden’s target of rolling out vaccines to all adults by May 1.
  • Six states are already vaccinating all people over 16, and five more will do so before April 1.
  • The interactive map below shows when each state plans to open vaccine eligibility to all adults.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden has directed states to make coronavirus vaccines available to all adults by May 1.

Six states – Alaska, Arizona, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah – have met that goal early and are vaccinating people 16 and older.

Five more – Georgia, Indiana, North Dakota, Ohio, and Texas – are poised to roll out vaccines to the general public before the end of March. And 17 states have pledged to reach that milestone in April. California and Florida became the latest additions to that list on Thursday: Gov. Newsom announced that all Californian adults will be able to sign up for shots starting April 15, and Gov. DeSantis announced Florida’s age restrictions will lift on April 5.

The map below shows when each state plans to open vaccine eligibility to all adult residents. You can hover over your state to find the specific date. But some states have not yet announced dates for that final phase.

Most states hope to start vaccinating all adults in May

In total, at least 35 states will either meet Biden’s May 1 deadline or start vaccinating the general public even earlier. South Carolina will be just two days behind: The state plans to open vaccines to all adults ages 16 and up on May 3.

But 15 states haven’t offered a definitive timeline for when they plan to start vaccinating the general public.

Officials in New Mexico have said it’s possible the state will start vaccinating all adults in April if supply continues to ramp up steadily. Arkansas and Pennsylvania officials have also said their timelines depend on the number of available doses.

“What we want to have is the scheduling system and the infrastructure so that folks can be in line, know that they can actually have that appointment scheduled, and then have the peace of mind that they know their appointment is coming,” Alison Beam, the acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, told ABC27 News.

Two more states, Louisiana and Minnesota, have promised to roll out vaccines to all adults by the summer but haven’t given a more specific timeline.

Where the general public can already get vaccinated

On March 9, Alaska became the first state to start vaccinating the general adult public. Mississippi and Oklahoma opened vaccines to all adults on March 16, followed by Arizona and Utah on Thursday.

In Wyoming, at least 14 counties are already vaccinating all adults, but the remaining nine still have age restrictions in place.

K-12 teachers are now eligible to receive vaccines in all 50 states. Meanwhile, 35 states are vaccinating grocery-store workers, and 29 states are vaccinating restaurant workers, according to a New York Times survey. Adults with high-risk medical conditions are eligible to receive vaccines in all but three states: Connecticut, Idaho, and Maine.

In total, more than 87 million Americans – more than a quarter of the population – have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among Americans 65 and over, 71% have gotten at least one dose.

The US is administering about 2.2 million doses a day on average. At that pace, the country is on track give first doses to all of its adult population by early June.

This article was originally published on March 20. It is being updated regularly to include states’ latest vaccination schedules.

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These are the 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

Russian military parade
Russian servicemen march during the Victory Day parade at Red Square in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2015

Historically, all empires either fall or morph into some other empire … and then fall. We don’t use the term “empire” to describe nation-states that much anymore.

Regardless of what we call some countries, they are still able to project power outside their borders, being it globally (like the United States) or regionally (like Iran).

But when it comes to having to defend their home turf, some countries are just not going to roll over for any reason.

These are those countries:

1. The United States of America

marine salute
A Marine mans the rails of USS Bataan in a parade of ships during New York City Fleet Week, May 25, 2016.

We all saw this one coming, so let’s get it out of the way early and start with what I know many are thinking: Any invader of the United States isn’t facing just the US military. They’re facing all 330 million Americans.

Yes, there are more weapons than people in the US – and that’s just considering the guns we know about. Americans are allowed to design and build their own weapons in many states, without ever having to register. This means every American with an arsenal can recruit and train their own band of Wolverines.

Even if an invader managed to take control of the civilian population – and that’s a big if – they’d still have to get through the best-trained, best-equipped military in the world, recruited from the very violently pro-America people I was just telling you about.

Then, they have to hold on to that territory without getting killed and without the locals organizing against them. Many major cities are already organized. And armed. And ready to go killing again once the war dies down a bit.

Albuquerque, Houston, Oklahoma City, Detroit, Baltimore, New York City – whether the invasion moves from east to west or west to east, there are a lot of pressure points invaders need to secure before moving on. Which brings up another point: America is huge.

Our four time zones contain seven different climate regions, not to mention everything from high mountains to marshland, swamps to deserts, and in some places, a lot of flat nothing. Just going across the mighty Mississippi River without a bridge is enough to kill off a good chunk of an army while the residents of East St. Louis are using it as target practice.

When the invaders get out of the actual geographical features of the United States (where roving bands of armed American militias are waiting to ambush their enemies), the invader will enter some of the largest cities in the world, three of which are in the top 100 in terms of population, and many are full of the aforementioned gangs and violent extremists groups.

Ever look up at New York City buildings and just imagine what it would be like to have to invade, conquer, and keep a city so populous and so large in size and scale?

2. Russia

Russian military parade
Russian troops in the Victory Day parade at Red Square in Moscow, May 9, 2015

This one goes well beyond the myth of “Gen. Winter” (although that would definitely be a factor for most invading countries). Russia projects power regionally, but its armed forces (as I mentioned before in other articles) is not as great as Putin is hyping it up to be lately.

But if invaded, Russia doesn’t have to project anything and its legendary toughness can really bloom, even in the middle of the freezing Russian winter. Invading Russia, as any student of history knows, is a terribly difficult thing.

When Napoleon invaded in 1812, the Russian people took casualties, to be sure, but what really suffered was Russia’s towns, cities, farms, and other infrastructure – all of it destroyed by Russians.

That’s right, Russians would rather destroy their own country than leave it for any invader. And if you’re thinking that was a long time ago, and modern Russians might have different sensibilities, remember they did that when the Nazis invaded in World War II, and at first many Russians welcomed the Germans. From there, the fighting only got more brutal. So any invader has to remember that they’re likely fighting every single Russian – across 11 times zones.

Did you catch that? There are 11 time zones in Russia, the largest country by land mass. If that wasn’t bad enough, Russia also contains every single climate type there is. (Yes, Russia has a rain forest. Look it up.)

If that wasn’t enough, you will likely have to fight every ex-Soviet client state around Russia’s borders, too. Many of them are still very loyal to Russia and would take up arms to fight for their Russian friends. This only extends the range and variety of people, climate, and geography to contend with. The deserts of Kazakhstan, the mountains and forests of the Caucasus region, and the frozen shores of the Black and Caspian Seas

The steppes and tundras of Central Asia are not a forgiving place. Just like the Americans who would take up arms against an invader, the Russian and pro-Russian people living in these areas will, too. These are hardy, gun-toting, skilled hunters who have no compulsion about killing an invader, having grown up with their parents’ and grandparents’ stories about fighting the Great Patriotic War against the Nazis, which included the deadliest fighting in the history of human warfare (which the Russians won) at Stalingrad.

3. Afghanistan

Two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters assigned to Task Force Shadow fly over mountainous terrain in eastern Afghanistan en route to Kabul, Afghanistan June 23.
Two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters over mountainous terrain in eastern Afghanistan, June 23.

Despite what every successive American general would have you believe for the past 20 years, victory in Afghanistan is not just around the corner.

Every invading empire who thought victory was just around the corner in Afghanistan really just helped contribute to Afghanistan’s legacy as “The Graveyard of Empires.” This includes, the current sole superpower in the world, the United States, the only other superpower to ever exist, the Soviet Union, and the largest empire ever assembled by any state in the world, the British Empire at its height.

What makes Afghanistan so difficult to capture and keep is first and foremost: the terrain. It’s a giant bowl of desert, surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the world. Any army an invader can’t destroy could just fade away into the mountains and lick their wounds until the next fighting season came.

In modern times, the high peaks negate the advantage of armor and tanks, just as it negated the advantage of heavy cavalry in earlier times. The United States is a viable fighting force in Afghanistan because of its logistical advantage. Where the US can get supplies and troops in and out relatively easily, the attacking British in 1839 had a much less reliable system. That’s why only one man of 16,000 troops and camp followers returned.

That’s why it’s remembered as the “Disaster in Afghanistan.”

The most important reason no one can conquer Afghanistan is because any invader has to completely subdue the population. The whole population. And these people are as diverse as it gets. Pashtun, Turkmen, Baloch, Palaw, Tajik, and Uzbek are jut a few of the ethnic groups in the country. Even after 20 years in the country, many Americans wouldn’t pick up on the fact that one of those ethnic groups I just mentioned is actually a rice dish.

Put aside Taliban or Mujaheddin loyalty for a moment and imagine the life of a regular Afghan man. Their clan, their tribe, their unit, their sheikh, their ethnicity, their religion, maybe their provincial or central government? And when you do take into account their loyalties to extremist groups, you have to factor in the group, that unit, and the shadow government. That’s 12 potential loyalties right there. Imagine trying to subdue 34 million of them, because you have to if you invade Afghanistan.

Defeating those people in pitched battles didn’t work, ask the British. Massacring them also didn’t work, ask the Soviets. The American nation-building strategy isn’t coming along either.

4. China

China Chinese Soliders Army PLA People's Liberation
Chinese soldiers during a training session at a military base in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, March 18, 2015.

Did your invading army plan on fighting one billion people? Because that is what is likely to happen invading China. The most populous country in the world now boasts 1.3 billion-plus people. For the uninitiated or bad at math (or both), that means they have almost the entire population of the United States plus a billion.

Having written these wargaming posts for a few years now, I know that many will ask me to consider that this doesn’t mean China has a skilled or fearsome force of ground troops and that all they’ve ever tactically perfected on a modern battlefield is human-wave attacks.

While these one billion Chinese people likely don’t have a their own arms, it wouldn’t take long for the planned central bureaucracy to start handing out weapons to form a unified front against an invader. There’s an old US military saying: If it’s stupid and it works, it isn’t stupid. It may sound like a throwing a few million soldiers at an invader is stupid, but it’s quite the human wave and it will likely work.

So even if the numbers of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir are repeated, and it takes 10 Chinese divisions to repel one Marine Division, the Marines will need to send 25 divisions just to establish a beachhead.

The fun doesn’t stop just because the invader made it ashore. China is as massive as the United States, with a diverse climate and diverse geographical features. It’s surrounded by extreme weather and oceans on all sides, so invaders will have to be prepared for the impassable Gobi Desert and the jungles of Southeast Asia, not to mention the mountainous, snowy Himalayan regions which will make air support difficult.

If invading troops aren’t massacred along the way by bands of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, then they still get to contend with a variety of tropical diseases, along with the diseases that come from overpopulation and pollution.

This is just in fighting a conventional war. The Chinese are the masters of ripping off foreign technology, so an invading army would have to assume that the country they’re invading will also have all the technological prowess of the United States – and with its 750-million-plus person manpower (assuming they didn’t die in a human wave) and strong economy, they’re ready to grind on for a long time.

5. India

Indian army soldiers
Indian soldiers in the Republic Day parade in New Delhi.

This is probably the only entry on the list many readers didn’t predict. But on its own, India is a formidable place to invade.

To the north and east lay harsh Himalayan mountain passes. Dry deserts makes up roughly half of India’s northwest regions. In the southwest, India is wet and tropical, limiting the best places to land an ocean-born invasion force.

That is, if you ever get to land an invasion force on the subcontinent. Part of India’s major naval strategy is to flood her territorial waters with enough submarines to sink both enemy warships and enemy landing craft while strangling sea lanes of enemy shipping. This tactic has been in place for a long time, since before China’s foreign policy went from one of “peaceful rise” to “crouching tiger.”

Since the British left India in 1947, they’ve had to deal with Pakistan on a few occasions and even went to war with China once before. Ever since, China and Pakistan have only grown closer, so India’s entire defense strategy has to be predicated on the idea of fighting a war on two fronts – and they’re ready for it.

Fighting in India is not a small matter, as any Indian general will probably tell you. The height of the Himalayan mountains makes air support very difficult, even impossible at times. India can’t rely exclusively on one benefactor, meaning it can’t just choose to be closer to the USA or Russia. India cares about Pakistan and China and will accept any tech or gear that helps them win that war.

As such, their near-limitless manpower, religious fervor, and billion-plus population would make them a formidable opponent on any front.

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