A study about how endometriosis affects men’s sex lives? That’s enraging | Imogen Dunlevie

Endometriosis affects 176 million women but there is no cure, no known cause and treatment is limited. There is no case for a study about its impact on men

Endometriosis is a disease that affects one in 10 women of reproductive age. It affects approximately 600,000 women in Australia and 176 million women worldwide. Yet endometriosis receives very little funding and attention from the medical world. In fact, many people have never even heard of it despite it being so common.

I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 15 years old. This only happened after I spent two years trying to convince doctors it wasnt normal that I had pain so bad during my period that I couldnt walk. (And my diagnosis was relatively quick the average time taken for diagnosis is eight to 10 years.) Since then, my life has been filled with surgery, doctors, medication, invasive procedures and constant pain that impacts everything I do. It took me longer to finish school because of endometriosis. I deferred university last year because I needed surgery. I cant do jobs that require me to stand for long periods of time. I often have to cancel plans because Im in so much pain.

A big part of the struggle with endometriosis is how little is understood about it. I see good doctors who care and want to help, but there is only so much that can be done when the funding and focus is not there. Researchers still do not know what causes the disease and there is no cure. Treatments are variable in their effectiveness.

On Tuesday, I was alerted to the fact that the University of Sydney has recently approved research into how mens sex lives are impacted by being in a relationship with someone who has endometriosis. This study is being conducted by masters student who wishes to explore the impact of endometriosis on mens sexual wellbeing.

Considering the tiny amount of attention and funding endometriosis gets, its enraging to see someone conducting a study into how this disease impacts men. Womens sex lives are far more impacted by endometriosis than mens are, and if any study on this area is being conducted it should look at how women and their sex lives are impacted. Endometriosis does not hurt a mans sexual wellbeing. It does however impact every aspect of your life when you suffer from it. It can mean that sex is often painful and unpleasant, penetration can cause bleeding and pain remains for days afterwards.

Studies like this one make it look like the only way endometriosis will get attention is if we highlight how it hurts men. Its not enough for women to share their countless stories of pain and suffering. How it limits their ability to finish study, work full time or even have sex. Its not enough to describe the surgeries, and the medications, the invasive procedures that provide little to no relief. The only way we can get people to care is to tell them that men are impacted too.

There are so many other things that should be looked at regarding endometriosis before we look at how it impacts sex for men: a less invasive way to diagnose, understanding the ways it impacts the everyday life of people who have it, proper pain management, raising awareness so women arent accused of lying, a cure.

Women have to fight to be believed that there is even something wrong. Then when they are finally diagnosed they have to fight for better treatment and pain medication just so they can live with some normality in their life. Doctors treat you like youre making it up or youre exaggerating.

Some doctors dont even know what endometriosis is. I once spent a night in the emergency room in so much pain I could not walk, and the doctor informed me that he had to google endometriosis because he wasnt totally sure what it is.

These are the things women have to put up with when they have endometriosis. These are the ways that women suffer because of endometriosis. So much of having this disease is trying to get some attention on it, and trying to get people to research it. In the past year, there has been more coverage of it in the news, but to see a study about how it impacts men, particularly their sex life, feels like one step forwards and two steps back.

This is not about attacking the researcher I contacted her to try to understand her reasons but she had not responded at the time of publication. Endometriosis affects about the same number of women as diabetes and costs about the same but receives 5% of the funding of diabetes. Theres no cure, no known cause and not even a reliable treatment. This is about frustration of how endometriosis is treated at the moment. This study fits into a wider context where womens pain is not always acknowledged.

It is damaging to set a potential precedent of male-centric studies into the impacts of endometriosis. There is no logical way that any discussion about endometriosis should focus on how it impacts men, or the partners of people who actually have it. We can barely get a conversation about endometriosis going in the first place. We should not start a conversation about endometriosis to see how men feel about it, particularly not to see how it impacts their sex life.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/31/a-study-about-how-endometriosis-affects-mens-sex-lives-thats-enraging

South Carolina Democrat’s Poll Shows Progress Against GOP Rival

Archie Parnell, the Democrat running for the open U.S. House seat in South Carolinas 5th District, now trails Republican Ralph Norman by 10 percentage points, according to an internal campaign poll.

The margin is an improvement from a 16-point deficit in March, according to a summary of the Anzalone Liszt Grove Research Group polling obtained by HuffPost that wasfirst reported by The Washington Post.

The figures allow Parnell, a 66-year-old former tax attorney, to make the case for assistance from the national Democratic Party, despite the steep odds he faces. Parnell is due to square off against Norman, a conservative former state representative, on June 20, leaving him less than three weeks to pull off an upset.

The special election to fill the seat vacated by White House budget director Mick Mulvaney will occur the same day Democrats hope to take control of Georgias 6th Congressional District, where Democrat Jon Ossoff is up against Republican Karen Handel, with polls showing him ahead but in a close contest.

Parnells bid has received a fraction of the national attention and resources showered on the Georgia contest, which is on track to be the most expensive House race in history.

The political fundamentals of the South Carolina district make it clear why Democrats are wary of jumping in the race with greater gusto. Although President Donald Trump won by less than 2 percentage points in Georgias affluent 6th District, he won by nearly 20 points in South Carolinas 5th. Mulvaney modestly surpassed that margin with his landslide win in November.

And in Montana, where Trump also won the state by 20 percentage points, Republican Greg Gianforte defeated Democrat Rob Quist by 6 points last Thursday despite being charged withassaulting a reporter the day before.

Archie Parnell
South Carolina Democrat Archie Parnell commissioned a poll showing him catching up but still 10 percentage points behind his Republican opponent, Ralph Norman.

The Republican hold on South Carolinas 5th District is relatively recent, however. Mulvaney, who took the seat in the tea party wave of 2010, was the first Republican to represent the district since Reconstruction.

Parnell is hoping that anger at Trump will energize Democrats, particularly the districts sizable population of black voters, enough to drive up turnout in an off-year election where participation is normally low.

The internal poll shows that 50 percent of the districts Democrats believe the election is more important than most elections, compared with 26 percent of Republican voters.

But Parnell is also betting that the passage of the Affordable Care Act replacement bill in the Republican-controlled House can help him win over some independent or even Republican voters.

Fifty percent of voters in the district oppose the GOP bill to replace Obamacare, compared with 42 percent who support it, according to the campaigns poll.

Norman, who defeated a more moderate rival in a close primary, is an ardent proponent of Obamacare repeal and has said he would consider joining the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus if elected. (Mulvaney was a founding member of the group.)

Parnell, by contrast, has campaigned against the Republican health care bill and backs safe importation of prescription drugs as a way to lower drug prices.

The cerebral and soft-spoken Parnell hardly embodies the populist mood currently sweeping the Democratic Party; he most recently held a top post at Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs.

But Parnell claims that his colleagues at the liberal bogeyman called him the policeman for his work overseeing financial compliance and that his deep knowledge of the tax code equips him to fight for reforms that would make corporations pay their fair share.

In a new video advertisement released Tuesday, Parnell makes light of his wonkish disposition by contrasting himself favorably with Frank Underwood, the debonair, Machiavellian protagonist of the TV series House of Cards, whose fictional district resembles Parnells.

Parnell mixes goofy, Underwood-style one-liners with actual facts about Trumps presidency as the theme music of the Netflix show plays in the background.

The ad concludes with text onscreen saying, Archie Parnell is no Frank Underwood. And Washington shouldnt be like House of Cards.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/archie-parnell-poll-south-carolina-fifth_us_592df0e8e4b0c0608e8c57e4

Portland man accused of fatal train stabbing has outburst in court

Jeremy Joseph Christian, accused of killing two men as they shielded a woman from his anti-Muslim tirade, shouted: You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism!

The man accused of fatally stabbing two men in Portland, Oregon, when they tried to shield young women from his anti-Muslim tirade, made repeated outbursts in court on Tuesday, including shouting: You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism!

Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, was in Multnomah County courtroom Tuesday afternoon for his first court appearance on two counts of felony aggravated murder and other charges for the Friday attack.

Authorities say Christian started verbally abusing two young women, including one wearing a hijab. Three men on the train intervened before police say Christian attacked them, killing two and wounding one.

As Christian walked into the courtroom he yelled out: Free speech or die, Portland! You got no safe place. This is America. Get out if you dont like free speech!

Standing behind glass partitions in the defendants area, he continued: Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedom. Death to Antifa! You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism! You hear me? Die.

As he finished his statement, a crowd of about 30 anti-fascist protesters who were watching a livestream on their phones, could be heard yelling outside the courtroom doors.

On Friday, authorities say, Jeremy Christian started verbally abusing two young women, including one wearing a hijab, on a light-rail train. Police say when three other men on the train, including surviving victim Micah Fletcher, intervened, Christian attacked them. The other two men, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Rick Best, 53, were killed.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/30/portland-stabbing-anti-muslim-jeremy-joseph-christian-court

General election 2017: Sturgeon to unveil SNP manifesto – BBC News

Image copyright PA
Image caption The SNP manifesto will be unveiled by Nicola Sturgeon in Perth

The SNP is to launch its general election manifesto, which will include a plan to invest an additional 118bn in public services.

The party will also pledge to provide a “strong voice for Scotland at Westminster against Tory cuts”.

But much of the focus will be on what the manifesto has to say about a second independence referendum.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has called for a referendum to be held in the autumn of next year or spring of 2019.

But Ms Sturgeon needs the permission of the UK government for a legally-binding vote to be held.

Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly said that “now is not the time” for a second referendum on independence.

‘Strong opposition’

And the Conservative manifesto promises there will be no referendum until the Brexit process has “played out” and unless there is “public consent” for one to be held – although it does not specify what that means.

Speaking ahead of launching her party’s manifesto, Ms Sturgeon said the SNP would “always make the case that Scotland should have the right to make our own decisions on Scotland’s future – and stand against any Tory attempts to diminish the powers of our Scottish Parliament or reverse the gains of devolution”.

She added: “Only the SNP can provide the strong opposition that Scotland needs to protect our schools, hospitals and vital public services from deeper Tory cuts and further damaging austerity.

“And if the SNP win this election in Scotland, it will strengthen the country’s hand when it comes to opposing cuts, defending our place in Europe and on choosing our future as a nation.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn said on Monday that he would open discussion over a referendum

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also firmly opposed a second referendum in recent weeks, claiming it is “unnecessary and unwanted”, despite saying earlier this year he would be “fine” with one being held if the Scottish Parliament called for it.

However, in a radio interview on Monday, Mr Corbyn said he would “open discussions” with the Scottish government if he becomes prime minister – but said he would suggest they “think very carefully about it”.

The SNP won an unprecedented 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland at the last election – and is widely expected to remain as comfortably the largest party this time around despite opinion polls suggesting it is likely to lose some seats.

Ms Sturgeon, who is Scotland’s first minister, argues that she already has a mandate to hold a referendum after winning the last Holyrood election on a manifesto that stated there should be another vote on independence if Scotland was taken out of the EU against its will.

The Scottish Parliament formally backed Ms Sturgeon’s call in March, with the combined votes of SNP and Scottish Green MSPs being enough to defeat the pro-UK Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats.

‘Brexit process’

Ms Sturgeon told the BBC’s Andrew Neil in an interview on Sunday that the election would “not decide whether or not Scotland becomes independent”.

But she argued that another victory for her party in Scotland would strengthen the case for a referendum.

She said: “I want Scotland to have a choice not now but at the end of the Brexit process when the options are clear.”

The SNP had originally been scheduled to unveil its manifesto last week, but the event was postponed following the Manchester terror attack.

It will set out an “alternative to Tory cuts” that the party says would see an additional 118bn invested in public services.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Theresa May says the focus should be on securing the best possible Brexit deal

The SNP will seek to protect the triple lock on pensions, stop cuts to the winter fuel allowance and deliver extra investment for the NHS, for social security and other vital public services.

Ms Sturgeon has sought to portray the election as a chance to protect Scotland from “Tory cuts”, arguing that Scottish votes for the SNP “can stop Theresa May having a free hand at Westminster to do whatever she wants”.

She has also said she would be open to seeking a “progressive alliance” at Westminster to keep the Conservatives out of government in the event of a hung parliament.

But she has predicted that the Conservatives will win another majority in the election – and has said Mr Corbyn is not a credible candidate to be prime minister.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The SNP won all but three seats in Scotland in the 2015 general election

Mr Corbyn has insisted he would not do a deal with the SNP to gain power at Westminster.

Speaking on Monday, the Labour leader said: “There will be no deals. There will be no alliance. We’re fighting this election to win.

“Only Labour or the Tories can win this election and voting Labour is the only way to remove Theresa May from office and build a Scotland for the many not the few.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives are to publish fresh plans to improve standards in Scotland’s schools as part of its demand for Ms Sturgeon to focus on “education, not separation”.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “Nicola Sturgeon asked to be judged on education.

“Standards are down, there is a teacher shortage, we have a curriculum in crisis and our poorest children are being let down. The judgement is in and it is damning.

“The truth is Nicola Sturgeon has made independence her number one priority.

“And while standards fall, her MSPs casually dismiss parents’ concerns by declaring we have ‘moved on’ from the need to teach literacy and numeracy.”

‘International rankings’

The Liberal Democrats have also attacked the SNP over its record in government in Scotland, arguing that the party has “taken its eye off the ball” on health and education while it pursues an independence referendum.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: “In the last 10 days we have learnt about the shortages in GP surgeries across Scotland. Mental health waiting times are horrendous.

“Scottish education is slipping down the international rankings.

“The SNP manifesto needs to cancel the divisive independence referendum so that the SNP can finally turn their attention full time to Scottish public services.”

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-40086276

People Share The Most Ridiculous Reasons Why They Ended Their Relationships (Add Yours)

Do you want a girl who walks like a T-Rex? Maybe you’re looking for somebody who chews so loudly that you’ll feel like you’re dating the Cookie Monster? Or perhaps you want a partner who applies mustard to fries by squeezing it into their hand and then smearing it all over their food? Well if you said yes to any of the above then you’re in luck, because as you can see from this hilarious list of reasons that people have been dumped, all of these folks are now currently single!

Compiled by Bored Panda, the stories below contain some of the funniest and most bizarre reasons that people have decided to break up with somebody. Let us know which one’s the best, and if you’ve had a funny or bizarre breakup then don’t forget to add it to the list below!


We had planned to do dinner and a movie but I had to work late, so we stopped at Chik-Fil-A on the way to the theater. After she finished eating, she threw her trash out of my car and into the street. I never spoke to her again after that day.


His toenails were so long they clicked on the floor like a dog.


We are at a local brewery and she looks as though she is about to cry. I ask her what the problem is and she mentions that they don’t have any vegan options. They have plenty of vegetarian options that allow for you to substitute for vegan cheese, so I suggest that. At this point tears are rolling down her cheek. I ask if she has another place in mind and she immediately perks up. We head over to that restaurant and she orders fish tacos.


I took her out to eat. I said I wanted the salmon, she suggested I ordered a burger ‘like a man’.


I dated this girl who was the loudest eater I ever met. She constantly chewed with her mouth open and smacked her lips. God forbid if she really liked it, then there came a litany of mmms and noms as well. It was like dating the cookie monster.


She refused to eat anything besides chicken nuggets and french fries. No substitutions. Not chicken tenders. Not chicken strips. If we went somewhere without nuggets and fries she would just order a Coke and watch me eat.
I once made the mistake of cooking dinner for her. She took one bite and asked if I would be offended if she ran to McDonalds to get nugs/fries.


The voice she used to baby talk to her dog was insufferable. Occasionally she would use it on me but not a lot. Then one night she asked me, “Can I sucky on your dicky?” It was the first, and last, time I turned down sexual activity. We broke up right then and there.


I once broke up with a girl because she couldn’t ever decide on something. I would say, “Lets go to the movies” and I’d even ask what movie she wanted to see, and she would NEVER make up her mind. Drove me nuts.
Turns out she had another boyfriend, and when I confronted her about it, she told me “She couldn’t decide between the two of us.” fml


She ate my burger that I ordered at Chili’s. I asked her if she wanted food. She said no. Right as the food came I went to the bathroom. I came back and the f*cking burger was gone. “Oops I’m sorry I was a little hungry.” F you.


I hung in there for like 2 years.. The thing that did me in? She made noises, like all the time, and then giggle at herself.
She’d sit down in a chair “ploppppp, hehe.” She’d fluff up a pillow “foof foof foof hehe.” She’d use the TV remote “pshew pshew hehe.” We’d eat out “cunch cunch hehe.”
At the end, I wanted to jump off the roof.

Add Answer


She asked what I would do if someone poked a hole in my condom.


She used to sneak up on me while I’m peeing, grab hold of my junk and start aiming for me.
Eventually, I started to fake being startled so I’d have an excuse to piss on her feet, in the hopes that she would realize it’s a bad idea.


I once broke up with a girl because I thought she was hiding something and was going to break up with me. Turns out she was indeed hiding something: a trip to the Caribbean. For us.
I was an idiot at 22.


She didn’t believe in the moon landing


She was putting mustard on her fries by applying it to her hand first and then rubbing it all over the fries. Then she licked the mustard off her hand. You would never ever think she would do this by looking at her or speaking to her.


I dated a girl for a short time, based on a blind date. One night, we were driving to dinner and I was telling a story. I ended by saying “It was funny as hell.”
She looked at me and asked, “Do you really think hell is funny?”
Awkward dinner was the last dinner.


She would belch like a trucker, and then look at me excitedly for approval. One time she forced the belch too hard, and threw up in her own lap like a sick dog.


She was a one-upper. She’d have a better version of every one of my stories.


I was 9 at the time. Got a girlfriend on a Thursday, my mom got me glasses that weekend. I came back to school with glasses and the moment my girlfriend saw me she said “ewwww you dork” and broke up with me. She’s a heroin addict now.


She would constantly talk specifically during the dialogue of movies. In scenes where nobody was talking…silence. Then as soon as somebody started talking:

Add Answer


Every time I yawned she thought it hilarious if she stuck her finger in my open mouth. I could never relaxalways had to be prepared for oral violation


She said nickelback was modern day Shakespeare.


He was really nice, but when we got to speaking on Facebook and text he could barely spell anything, and didn’t find grammar necessary. I felt bad until he called me a bitch.


Was staying at a beachhouse with girlfriend and her family. Outdoor shower. I’m in there fapping up a storm because, I don’t know, it felt appropriate at the time. You ever get that feeling that someone is watching you? Turns out you can look down into the shower from the top deck railing and her mom and aunt are laughing it up like little girls watching me operate the dutch rudder. I didn’t say a single word to girlfriend, got in my car, drove 3 hours home. Just never called her.


She had the same name as my sister. I liked her and tried, but I just couldn’t do it.


On our first date, I brought her home. I went to let my dog out for a grand total of five minutes, and she shaved her genitals using my razor. I came back in, went in the bathroom, and it was like a shaving cream bomb went off. Then I noticed my razor, wet with hairs on it. I have a full beard, and hadn’t used it in over a week. She then played it off like nothing happened, and there was nothing she felt like telling me.


She put the spoon into the sugar jar after stirring her coffee. Would leave clumps of coffee sugar.


She’d wait until she had the bartender’s attention and then start to decide what she wanted to drink.


He didn’t eat anything but potatoes, peanut butter, and ramen. He wasn’t a broke college student, just a f*cking picky eater. Nope. Adios.


She would always say how much she loved to travel, but has never been outside of California. Retweeting, reblogging, Instagram, everything about her “travels to the grocery store” or “my travels to Yosemite”. I ended it cause I said I needed space, last thing she said to me was “good luck on your travels”.

Add Answer


He put A1 all over filet mignon I made him for Valentine’s Day. This was not some shit big box filet — hand cut and selected specially for the occasion by butchers I know.
And he wanted it well done.
Woman’s gotta have a code, man…. Some shit ain’t right.


He ate my lunch while I left to get napkins for him. The only meals I ever really got my junior year was the free lunch provided from the school district for low income families. He didn’t know that and assumed it was OK because I usually don’t get mad over those kind of things but I was on my period and just got done with stupid standardized testing. So I walked away and never looked back.


We got in a fight because he didn’t want me drinking green tea. (He was Mormon) I was fine with the Mormonism but he claimed green tea was bad for my health.


I suspected her of stealing my Pokmon card. Nothing special, just a Pikachu, but damn, when my suspicions settled in, I smashed all ties with her. I miss being 11.


I had an ex leave me after five years so she could “go be young”. About three years later she has two kids and she’s divorced.


I was a 15 year old freshmen and she was 17 year old senior. When we started dating, she said she wanted to wait two months before having sex. I was a virgin and wasn’t even really worried about it so I agreed. Then a month later things got hot and heavy and she insisted that we do it; I asked “are you sure? You said you wanted to wait” but she insisted on banging it out anyways. Afterwards, she said that it was a test to see if I would actually wait like I said I would. Then she dumped me.


She always said “I don’t mind” as the answer to every question put to her. What film do you want to see? What do you want from the chippy? What club do you want to go to tonight? Always “I don’t mind” so I would make a choice only to be met with
“ugh, I don’t like that. I would rather [insert choice]”
Drove me up the walls.


I met this gorgeous Kenyan girl. Beautiful to put it simply. I took her to a baseball game and things were going well. But she kept referring to the crowd as “the humans” or “you humans”. For instance, 3rd inning comes around and so does the wave. Once it passes us, she sits down, laughs and says “You humans have weird customs.” This freaked me out. All I could think was if we are the humans… wtf are you?!


He used water in his cereal instead of milk.


She had lower self esteem than me. No one has lower self esteem than me. NO ONE, JERRY

Add Answer


Shallowest reason here but with zero exaggeration – her natural laugh was a bellowing siren that sounded extremely forced and fake. During a normal conversation, this reverse duck call would sporatically ring through the public area causing literal standstills, quickly followed by several groups paying full attention to our table just waiting for the next siren to go off. And it would – with the exact same pitch, volume and length.


I absolutely hate anime. Not shitting on it, that’s just my brutally honest opinion. I don’t know why, but I just can’t stand it. Anyways, I didn’t have a problem with her loving anime, but I did have a problem with her forcing me to watch it all the time, saying “I’d grow to like it”, but if anything my disliking towards it only grew stronger. We couldn’t find something we both wanted to watch, no no, we had to watch anime.


It’s actually story of someone breaking up with me. She said on a dinner that things aren’t working out and we need to break up. I said: OK! she said: you are really inconsiderate, I was trying to give you another chance! I said: do I have any chance? She said: NO! I said OK! I don’t know why she started throwing fries at me!!!


She would always make points by asking opposing questions.
For example, “Do I like crunchy peanut butter? No. Do I like creamy peanut butter? Yes.”
It happened three or four times a day. And never in a scenario that made sense to be formatted that way. I didn’t even break up with her. I just couldn’t bring myself to talk to her out of fear of having an aneurysm.


She broke up with me because I was & I’m paraphrasing “an unhinged atheist “
Ps I’m just a research scientist.


I have two. One guy ate like a t-rex. He would keep his elbows by his side while he ate and leaned over to get his food off his fork. Another guy had no shape to the back of his head. His neck just went straight up. Both named Chris.


I had left him in the restaurant because he said that cats are stupid. I asked once again: “So, you’re saying that MY cat is stupid???” He said: “Yes …” I stood up and went away. That was our first (and last!) date.


She called herself “pretty much a psychologist” after taking Psych 1000.


I got along with her father, she liked me because I was a rebel. I still miss her dad.


She didn’t know butter was made from milk.

Add Answer


She would sing along with songs that were playing on the radio, but with a delay of .5 seconds, like she knew the tune, but didn’t know the words until she HEARD them. It got SO annoying, SO quickly. Nope.


He mispronounced words. Drove me crazy. Subtle was one of the words. He said SUB til. I just couldn’t…


I was the one got dumped but I was talking on the phone to my then girlfriend and my brother says “what if you take her home, and find out her dick is bigger than yours?” I laughed. She asked me what was so funny and I (like an idiot) told her. She broke up with me as soon as I was done telling her. Thinking back on it, I wonder if my brother was right?


I once had a girlfriend’s dad tell his own daughter that she wasn’t good enough for me. No shit. The Japanese are brutal.


She would constantly say the names of the stores we passed by while driving.
Jiffy Lube. Huh, a Spencers. Gym-boooo-ree (that’s how she would say it)


She would only eat at restaurants that served Mountain Dew. If they did not, she could/would not eat there.
I kicked that one to the curb quickly and with no hesitation because that’s f*cking insane.


She had the smelliest upper buttcrack. Its almost as if she would wash her buttcrack with a dirtier buttcrack


I broke up with this guy after going out twice because he ended up having NO sense of humor & I love to laugh. After I broke up with him I started getting multiple phone calls on a daily basis from car dealerships – they would always start the conversation off with “Im sorry but I know Im going to pronounce your name wrong”…followed by names such as: Ms. Cuntarella, Ms. Bitschface & Ms. Fatasse. IM NOT KIDDING YALL. Sad thing is, I laughed SO HARD because damn, thats original!


She said she was a big Pink Floyd fan. Later, didn’t recognize Pink Floyd on the radio.


1 gf broke up with me because her best friend just broke up with her bf a couple days before. Didn’t know our relationships were tied together like that

Add Answer


I took a bus, ferry, and subway to commute to her place.
She wouldn’t reciprocate. The commuting distribution was wildly uneven! Trains! Boats! Busses!


“I seen that the other day” NOPE. BYE.


He spoiled Doctor Who for me. Serious spoilers.


On a first date we had a coffee then went for a walk at his suggestion to somewhere he liked. We walked for 20 minutes and then he stopped and said thoughtfully, ‘I thought we’d sit here.’ I turn around expecting a bench, but its just the pavement, and its facing a car park. No second date.


i once dated a guy who would occasionally talk on the phone to someone in Spanish who he claimed to be his mother. it turned out to be his girlfriend.


We ate mushrooms one night in college and we were coming down laying in bed and I realized she had a weird smell about her. I forgot about it, fell asleep, and after a couple more times seeing each other I ended it because the smell was permanent. Her natural aroma. I just couldn’t shake it. It was like a combination of poppers and sweaty feet. We weren’t a great match anyways but the smell made the choice easy.


I was dating a guy briefly early this Spring. He was a bigger guy, about 6’4″ and 250 lbs. Two weeks into dating, when I’d try to have a conversation with him, he started to use this tiny, nasally, lispy baby voice to talk to me with! He said stuff like “oh mah gerd”, “awww, poor baybay” or “cool story bro”…even had a movie quote for every scenario. All in the lispy baby voice! It was the biggest turn off ever, so I ghosted. No wonder he is single.


I’m really into craft beers and I get super excited when I go to a place with a really big tap and/or bottle selection. I was on a second date with a guy and we were at a local bar with one of the best bottle selections in town. As I’m standing there analyzing the different bottles, trying to narrow down what I’d like to try, he orders us two Busch Lites.
I stopped returning his calls after that.


My brother (who is a bit of a shithead anyways) broke up with a girl because she had dentures and didn’t tell him. (She had been in an accident and had all her teeth knocked out.) He tried to paint it as her being dishonest, but I called bullshit. She let him put it in, and he was ready to move on to the next one.


I made a comment about hating the fact that there are security cameras everywhere.
She fired back with the bullshit “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” argument. I knew we weren’t meant to be.

Add Answer


She left me because she thought I was going to leave her for another guy. I’m bisexual, and was head over heels in love with her.


I broke up with a guy because he was forcing me to be a fat, furry characters in our roleplays, even when i told him so many times that I hate these things. That was not the only thing, he even forgot my birthday, flirted with my, under age female friend, and even with my ex. The last drop was when he started me sending fake pictures of his genitals, which were much bigger than his real ones, he then blamed me that I made it all up.


I briefly dated a lady who was very attractive but, I soon learned, probably fell comfortably into the 5th percentile of IQ. I’m from Africa and told her about traditional weddings in my country, where a cow would often be slaughtered in front of the guests, for their consumption. She screwed up her face and said something like “Oh my god, who eats cows?”. I looked at her for a moment, and asked “Do you eat beef?”. “Yes,” came the reply. I got up and left shortly afterwards.


She always ordered food, ate half of it, then ate half of mine. Then she would offer to share what she ordered, but I didn’t like the stuff she ordered.


During sex, her giant dog jumped up on the bed and licked my balls from behind. Freaked me out, and I completely ghosted her after that. We were doing doggy style.


Her voice was annoying and when speaking she placed emphasis on the weirdest parts of the sentence.


Got a divorce because I came home from deployment and my house was super dirty. Like hoarder dirty.


She said one of my dogs was, “kinda ugly.”


She had a mole on her eyelid. Every time I kissed her I saw it when I was leaning in. I started having dreams that the mole was talking to me…. That was the end.


She ate her peas one at time. One at a time!

Add Answer


She wouldn’t change the volume on the TV to an even number. I mean how hard is it to put the TV on 30 instead of 29


Every time we (french) kissed, she said, “Yummy!”
It was meant to be sexy. It. Wasn’t.


She asked for ketchup for her steak at an an expensive steakhouse.


She wouldn’t french kiss when we made out! I couldn’t wrap my head around what she thought making out was. What do you do in this situation?! Do you just peck at one another’s face until you become aggravated and try to move on? The dynamics were just all wrong.


Barbeque sauce. She was from St. Louis and decided that St. Louis style was the ONLY bbq sauce that she would use. I season and smoke a beautiful brisket, and she slathers it with sweet bbq sauce WITHOUT EVEN TRYING IT AS IT WAS INTENDED.
I’m getting angry now.


She walked like a T. Rex


She walked too slow. We’d go out somewhere and walk down the street and I’d turn around and she’s like 20 feet behind me.


She held her fork overhanded, as in the shovel technique. You can’t take someone like that anywhere.


The guy I was with kept sighing when he didn’t know what to say. Also he blinked slowly. It drove me mad


She watched me play Halo and told me I wasn’t as good as I thought I was.

Add Answer


A guy left me because I was doing my Master in Cultural Studies. He said that it’s not serious course enough and I haven’t planned my futhure well. Two weeks later, he was dating a a two-classes-lower student of the same studies.

I can not blame him, she had like amazing boobs.


I know someone who broke up with their SO because whenever they took a bite from a fork they would bite down on it while they slid it out of their front teeth. Makes me cringe thinking about it.


I asked him to bring a bottle of red wine to go with dinner and he brought Raspberry Arbor Mist.


I went out with a girl a few times who was completely normal whenever she was around me, but whenever I saw her with her friends she morphed into one of those weird, screaming, over-excited girls who seem like a flock of chickens. Big turn-off.


He once came with his eyes open and crossed. Just really freaked me out. I could never get the picture of his face out of my mind after that.


He and I were living in different states, I was still studying and wanted to pursue a career where I currently was, while he had a great job back home. He was self conscious about the distance between us and gave me an ultimatum, be with him and some point marry him or end things. Well, I guess you know how it went.


She drank beer from a can through a straw. Not the only reason we broke up, but that was the straw that broke it.


She always wanted to cuddle/touch me/flirt while I was eating. I told her it bothered me, but she thought it was cute or something so she did it often. One night while eating a slice of pizza she kept rubbing her hand up and down my arm, I had decided enough was enough and loudly broke up with her.


Years ago I dated a guy who was obsessed with cherry Chapstick. He’d slather it on obsessively including before we’d have sex. Recently a friend was matched with him on OKCupid and asked me if I knew him. I was telling her about the Chapstick thing, and as she scrolls through his profile, we see a list of top 5 things he can’t do without. Number 1? CHERRY CHAPSTICK. 🙁


When she wore heels, she walked like Jar-Jar-Binks. You know what I’m talking about.

Add Answer


He lived on a busy street. His bedroom had two large windows that faced the street.
No curtains.


When making tea, she didn’t stir it, but clanked the spoon noisily against each side of the cup repeatedly.


I once broke up with a guy because he legit thought he was a dragon. I was half tunned out on the phone since he called when sailor moon was on. He started up with this “Im a dragon and you’re a dragon. We’re both dragons and that’s why we get along so well”. I wasn’t paying to much attention but when he brought be a dragon pendant to school the next day, that was pretty much it.


She pronounced it “cold slaw”


He called it ‘Malk’ and drank it with dinner. Every. Day. (Milk! With an ‘i’ goddamn it)


This girl was taking too many selfies with me, showing me off to so many people, sexy girl but I felt like a cat.


I was dating a guy, and we were together for about 5 months when all of the sudden he told me that it wasn’t working out. I asked him why, he said that I was “too good to him” and then that was the last I heard from him. Lamest excuse ever to give to someone..


We had just started seeing each other and one day he started telling me about a cougar that hit on him at the gym (she made eye contact). He wouldn’t stop talking about her so I blocked him. I wonder if he actually got a date with the cougar.


He had been cheating on me with his ex-girlfriend for two weeks because he’d been feeling neglected. I had been enrolled in a therapy group by my doctor for clinical depression and social anxiety. A week later, he tells me he broke up with her and wants me back. I said no. He sent a last resort dick pic. I still said no. The next day, his girlfriend finds me on Facebook and messages me to stop bothering her man. His stupidity was mind boggling. I’m happily single.


I dated a guy I had known since we were kids, but had been years since we had seen each other. The first weekend I spent with him, we went to the bar with his friends. After, we all went to his house to watch some stand-up comedy. At one point he got up, went into the kitchen, pissed in fridge, then proceeded to walk back into the living room where he face-planted/passed out into a deep drunken slumber.
The red flag was his friends told me “Don’t worry. He does this all the time”

Add Answer


One day I realized she looked like Paul Dano and I couldn’t unsee it. That was it.


She said she saw my dead mother in my room in the middle of the night while I went to the toilet. I asked her to leave and that was the end.


Kindergarten: He proposed with a grape candy ring. It tasted like Advil.


He plucked his eyelashes.
No, I’m not confused, I mean his actual eyelashes, on his actual lids.


He would whine like a puppy when we made out … thats a no for me


For wearing too much pink. Some days her entire outfit was bright pink. No thanks


He had a mole on his back. Every time we had sex and I touched it, I thought it was a spider. No can do.


She pronounced it “supposibly”.

How a Silicon Valley veteran created an app that 400 nonprofits use to help refugees

Image: Mashable Composite; RefAid / Trellyz

Shelley Taylor calls herself a Silicon Valley veteran. Veteran, she tells me, “means old.”

Raised in Palo Alto, Taylor has an extensive tech background. She isn’t an engineer, but she wrote the “bible of user interface” back in 1995 at the dawn of website creation, inventing a lot of the language still used to this day to describe websites and ecommerce. She’s launched a bevy of startups and advised companies like AOL, Cisco, Microsoft, and Yahoo in their early days.

“My approach to being a technology founder, which I pretty much have always been, is starting with the user experience and then using that to do product design development,” she says.

That’s exactly what she’s doing with her latest project, albeit with a more humanitarian twist. Taylor is behind the Refugee Aid app, or RefAid, which connects refugees with crucial services when and where they need them most. More than 400 of the largest aid organizations in the worldfrom the Red Cross to Save the Children to Doctors of the Worldall use it.

In many cases, they even rely on it.

Through a simple, easy-to-use interface, the free mobile app uses geolocation to show migrants, refugees, and aid workers a map of the closest services for food, shelter, health care, legal help, and more. Aid organizations can communicate with each otherand touch base with the refugees they’ve helpedthrough a web-based content management system, as well as update and keep track of the services they offer.

The app began as Taylor’s passion project in early 2016. It’s an offshoot of her company Trellyz, formerly known as Digital Fan Clubs, which launched four years ago to help people manage their brands and monetize their fans on Facebook. But about 18 months ago, Taylor, who has lived in Europe on and off for the last 25 years, felt compelled to do something a bit different.

“I was impacted by the horrible images, and just felt a sense of frustration. I just thought, ‘What can we do?'”

“I was struck, like many other people, by the refugee crisis,” she says. “In Europe, it’s much more prominent. Where I am in Italy, just looking out over the sea where I am, there are people who have been drowning trying to get to Europe, to safety. And so I was impacted by the horrible images, and just felt a sense of frustration. I just thought, ‘What can we do?'”

Since Digital Fan Clubs already created geolocation-based apps with real-time data, Taylor wondered how they could adapt that technology for refugees, who she knew were already using smartphones. So she asked a number of large organizations like the UNHCR and the British Red Cross if an app like RefAid would be helpful. They all had the same answer: “That would be great.”

Over the course of just one weekend, Taylor and her team created RefAid using the company’s app creation platform technology. It launched in February 2016, first in the UK and Italytwo countries where refugees can have very different needs. In the UK, many refugees have already reached their destination, and are focused more on integrating into a new society. Many refugees in Italy, meanwhile, are just arriving off boats after extremely harrowing, dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean.

Image: RefAid / Trellyz

Image: RefAid / Trellyz

Nel Vandevannet, director of Belgian projects at Doctors of the World, and Mark Forsyth, refugee support services coordinator at the British Red Cross, both say RefAid has proven extremely useful for their organizations. Spreading awareness of their services has been difficult, but the app has streamlined the entire process.

“I think the application is perfect for very vulnerable groups of people.”

In Belgium, where many refugees are quickly passing through to get to the UK and other parts of Europe, Vandevannet says the app has helped Doctors of the World explain to them their rights. And, in many cases, it helps point them in the direction of life-saving health care. It’s not always easy to translate this kind of vital information and convince refugees of what they need, but tapping into their smartphoneswhich Vandevannet calls “their compasses”has helped develop more trust between aid workers and refugees.

“I think the application is perfect for very vulnerable groups of people, who, because of bad experiences, repression, violence they had through their traveling … don’t really go to services,” she says. “The application is something they can control. If the police would give information, [refugees] would never go. Because they would think that it’s controlled by police, you would have to give your identity, and so on.”

The app protects refugees’ identities by only requiring an email address, not names or other personal information. There’s also a double-login function that protects their accounts, in case they ever lose their phones.

According to Forsyth, the British Red Cross has mainly used RefAid as a directory of relevant services across the country. It enables them to search for up-to-date information about services, such as locations and opening times.

“It’s not uncommon for refugees and asylum seekers to be moved all around the country,” he says. “So it’s really useful that RefAid covers the whole country, so we can contact services in other cities and refer people on.”

RefAid is now available in 14 countries: Greece, the UK, Ireland, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Malta, Turkey, and the U.S.

They weren’t planning to launch the app in the U.S.at least not so soon. But as one of his first acts as president, Donald Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 27 to create a 90-day travel ban for citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, as well as a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program. (The ban was ultimately blocked by lower courts, a ruling that a federal appeals court upheld just last week.)

“Because I’m an American, I was so upset by the Trump [travel] ban,” Taylor says. “I’m an expat living in Europe, and I’m so proud of our American history of welcoming immigrants. I thought about it all weekend, and I thought, ‘Well, we just have to do it.'”

She invited her team and a group of friends to her house on the following Monday, and they all got on their phones and called as many organizations with real-time legal services as they could. They wanted to make sure that people who were being detained had access to essential phone numbers. Even though the ACLU and others had set up free legal resources at international airports, many people couldn’t even get out of customs to reach them.

“I thought, if we could at least make this available to people so that they can make phone calls, that would be a great start for RefAid in the U.S.,” Taylor says.

In just that one day, RefAid went live in 21 U.S. cities, focusing on legal services in areas with big international airports.

RefAid isn’t the only app on the market helping refugees and immigrants at various stages in their journeys. But it’s especially novel because of the unexpected problems it solves for nonprofits overall: managing their resources.

What Taylor and her team didn’t realize is that most of these organizations didn’t have centralized databases of the services they were offering. Information on the different categories of aid they provided and what satellite offices offered was all in aid workers’ heads, or on pieces of paper filed away in drawers.

“Because it’s on my phone, it’s available wherever, whenever, even if I’m not in the office.”

“The first organization that said they would love to use our system said, ‘We’ll get back to you when we’ve collected all of the services.’ I asked, ‘Well, how many are there?’ And they said, ‘We don’t really know,'” Taylor says.

That same organization, which Taylor didn’t name, had 60 offices in the UK. It took them two-and-a-half months to compile everything and give her an Excel spreadsheet with 300 lines of services.

Forsyth says it’s been a similar case for the British Red Cross.

“Services are changing all the time, especially these days, so paper and PDF directories are virtually obsolete from the second they are made,” he says. “RefAid is updated regularly, and because it’s on my phone, it’s available wherever, whenever, even if I’m not in the office.”

It was a revelation, and Taylor saw a market opportunity. She dropped everything else, changed the name of Digital Fan Clubs to Trellyz, and pivoted toward exclusively helping nonprofits manage their resources.

Now, the company is applying RefAid’s technology to a new app called LifeSpots, in which all nonprofits can compile their services by location, helping people find the assistance they need as well as local volunteer opportunities. It’s expected to launch within the next month. Trellyz also plans to do the same thing for cities, offering another app for local governments to list and manage the public services they offer.

RefAid is updated every few weeks or couple of months, as more nonprofits use it and provide feedback. Even governments are starting to hop on board Washington State uses the app to help distribute information about local services available to refugees, as well as the UK’s National Health Service and cities across Europe.

Doctors of the World is also working with Trellyz to integrate a “medical passport” into RefAid, allowing refugees to put their own medical histories in the app. It’s all secure, staying in the hands of users, and solves the problem of not being able to keep such important paperwork with them as they’re traveling.

Ultimately, it all comes down to what Taylor said about focusing on user experience understanding who’s using the app and then developing it to maximize the impact. And with RefAid, that human-centered approach is clear as soon as you register. You immediately get a short, two-sentence email sent to your inbox.

“Thanks for registering for the RefAid app,” the email reads. “We all hope that you find some support near you, and that you have a safe journey.”

With that attitude and the technology behind it to create real, positive change, RefAid is quickly becoming a must-have addition to any refugee’s phone.

WATCH: This is what refugees face when coming to America

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/29/refaid-refugee-aid-app-shelley-taylor/

How ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ has become the meme of the resistance

Image: Christopher Mineses / mashable 

Earlier this week, 18 women dressed up in red cloaks and white bonnets, stood in pairs in the rotunda of the Texas state capitol, and began chanting, “Shame!” in unison. They didn’t stop shouting for eight minutes.

They call themselves the Texas handmaids. You probably first saw them back in March, when images of their original protest in Austin went viral. That’s when they sat silently in the Texas senate gallery, watching as lawmakers debated bills that would make it harder for women to get an abortion.

What you may not know is that their demonstrations, inspired by Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale and Hulu’s vivid TV adaptation, are slowly spreading across the country.

Women are holding sewing parties to turn yards of blood-red fabric into capes. They’re swapping ideas on private Facebook pages about how to stage protests. They’re even planning a coordinated demonstration where dozens of handmaids simultaneously show up at state capitols or in other public places in cities across the country.

If the visually striking meme takes off, it could become one of the most effective acts of protest from the resistance. The sight of even a dozen women wearing the handmaid costume, while staying silent and keeping their heads down, offers a stark contrast to a group of mostly white men deliberating over what happens to their bodies. The imagery is practically made for the digital era.

The point, activists say, is to send a powerful message: We’re closer to a government that strips women of their bodily autonomy than you might think.

“The easiest way we try to explain it is that the handmaids represent a future where women are nothing more than their reproductive capacity,” says Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. “Unfortunately, with the laws that are being passed, that future is not so unrealistic and not so distant.”

We’re closer to a government that strips women of their bodily autonomy than you might think.

The idea to enlist Texas women as handmaids started with Busby a few months ago. She happened to see women dressed as the title character from The Handmaid’s Tale at South by Southwest. That was a marketing stunt by Hulu, the streaming entertainment provider that brought Atwood’s novel to the small screen.

But Busby then joked on Facebook about how someone should send the handmaids down to the capitol, where lawmakers had been busy introducing bills that would curtail abortion rights. Soon NARAL Pro-Choice Texas ordered white bonnets from Amazon Prime and a volunteer rented red capes. A small group of volunteers quickly drew up a plan. They liked the element of surprise in showing up at the capitol in costume and wanted to let legislators know that women were watching.

After that yielded local and national press coverage of the legislative agenda in Texas, activists around the country started reaching out to Busby for tips on how to start their own handmaids brigade.

You could argue that all of this is moot, that the United States is nowhere close to becoming the Republic of Gilead, The Handmaid’s Tale‘s totalitarian, theocratic state that freezes women’s bank accounts, forbids them to work, sends them to re-education camps, and forces many of them to bear children for leaders and their wives.

The New York Times‘ conservative columnist Ross Douthat argued this week that liberals are seeing the wrong parallels. On the same day, Times op-ed contributor Mona Eltahawy wrote that the Republic of Gilead already exists in Saudi Arabia, where women can’t drive and may be imprisoned for disobedience. For her part, Atwood has said that nothing in her novel hasn’t already happened before in history.

“I still have a credit card, I still have a nice car, but I can feel the future here.”

For the volunteers who are deep into the work of creating and wearing the costumes in public, it’s not about whether they still have credit cards or the right to get a job. What they see is the federal and state governments largely in the hands of conservative, even authoritarian, men who’ve vowed to defund Planned Parenthood and roll back reproductive health rights like abortion and access to affordable birth control. At the same time, those men plan to funnel money to abstinence-only education and vouchers for “school choice,” which includes religious schools.

The fact that they’re led by Donald Trump terrifies these women.

“We have somebody in the White House who thinks it’s OK to grab women and do whatever he wants, and I’m supposed to sit back and be cool with that?” says Emily Morgan, executive director of Action Together New Hampshire, an activist group that emerged in the wake of Trump’s election.

Earlier this month, Morgan contacted Busby for details on how to create handmaid costumes. But instead of bringing women into the New Hampshire legislative gallery during a debate or hearing, Morgan and her co-organizers asked them to appear at a press conference calling for the resignation of Rep. Robert Fisher, a Republican who The Daily Beast identified in April as the creator and former moderator of Reddit’s popular men’s rights “Red Pill” forum. The message board bills itself as a “discussion of sexual strategy in a culture increasingly lacking a positive identity for men,” and Fisher regularly questioned whether rape is real, according to The Daily Beast. (Fisher resigned later in the day following the press conference.)

A sexual assault survivor with handmaids demanding Rep. Robert Fisher’s resignation, on May 17, 2017, in Concord, N.H.

Image: Granite State Progress

“Fisher and the Red Pill embody exactly what The Handmaid’s Tale is a foreshadowing of or is a warning against,” Morgan says. “Saying that we’re not there it’s sort of degrading to what’s actually happening to women.”

In the days before the press conference, volunteers made six costumes, but some of the women bowed out after learning the media would be in attendance. Morgan says they feared in-person and online harassment. Nevertheless, she thinks more women will step forward to participate in upcoming demonstrations, particularly since volunteers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire are sewing new cloaks so that activists in New England quickly have access to them for future protests.

The time-intensive, costly aspect of buying the bonnets and making the cloaks is one challenge to growing the handmaid ranks. There’s also the danger that different groups will splinter in an effort to launch the first nationwide demonstration. Morgan is moderating a private Facebook page to coordinate a national action. A similar page started by one of the Texas handmaids has close to 300 members.

The handmaids’ signature costumes are also a relatively obscure reference compared to pussyhats, the knit pink caps that have become a symbol of the resistance. But they’re also memorable even if you don’t know the origin.

Ane Crabtree, the costume designer for the Hulu series, says the outfit’s visual power is rooted in both the bright red color, which can signify blood, birth, and passion, and how the cloak conceals women who wear it. The combination tells the viewer what she needs to know about how the body underneath the costume is oppressed.

“It’s an easy form of expression to say that everything’s been taken away and is being taken away, and its a real thing,” says Crabtree, who is encouraged and inspired by people making their own version of the costume.

Deborah Marsh, a 65-year-old retiree who is one of the Texas handmaids, says people who get the reference often approach her on the street or in the capitol’s rotunda to thank her profusely for the act of defiance. Some, however, have seen the symbolism and don’t like it. Marsh says a few people on the street have had “outbursts” or called the women “pathetic.”

Joe Pojman, executive director of the anti-abortion rights nonprofit group Texas Alliance for Life, seemed to criticize the handmaids a few times, focusing on the fact that they’ve used smartphones while silently protesting in the gallery, a silly point that Marsh feels makes their case about men who are obsessed with policing women’s behavior.

What Marsh didn’t expect was how confident she would feel while wearing the costume. “It’s such a bold costume, it’s making such a bold statement,” she says. “And my body is inside that costume, so why wouldnt I feel bold? Why wouldn’t I feel empowered?”

Among reproductive rights activists like Marsh, the Texas legislature is infamous for its anti-abortion legislation. In 2013, the state passed a law that effectively led to the closure of dozens of abortion clinics, which the Supreme Court found unconstitutional last year. The Republican-led legislature recently voted to ban the safest type of second-trimester abortion and require hospitals and abortion clinics to bury fetal remains, including those from miscarriages that happen at home. Texas has already moved to keep Planned Parenthood from state and federal funding.

In other words, as Texas limits access to both abortion and reproductive health care like birth control, it’s easy to imagine a future in which women have little practical control over how and when they have children. That vision shouldn’t be limited to Texas either; other Republican-dominated states are pursuing a similar agenda with regard to limiting access to reproductive health care, as is the Trump administration.

“I still have a credit card, I still have a nice car, but I can feel the future here,” Marsh says. “If [people] aren’t affected by it today, they are going to be affected by it in four yours. Texas is a little bit ahead of the game.”

“Am I going to change someones mind who is pro-life? I dont expect that. Im aiming higher. I want to change the culture.”

Stephanie Martin, a mom from Round Rock, in central Texas, who recently dressed up as a handmaid for the first time, says she’s realistic about who the message is going to reach.

“Am I going to change someone’s mind who is pro-life?” she asks. “I don’t expect that. I’m aiming higher. I want to change the culture.”

It’s still early to gauge exactly how that culture will respond beyond the videos and photos that have gone viral. But the parallel between the male aggression and control that characterizes Gilead feels particularly fresh in a week where a Republican congressional candidate body slammed a reporter for asking a question he didn’t like, and the president appeared to shove aside a European leader to get a better position in a photo-op.

Let’s not forget the complicity of Ivanka Trump, who promotes herself as a champion of gender equality but says nothing critical about healthcare and budget proposals that are arguably hostile to women. Nor can we ignore the benign-looking malevolence of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who couldn’t come up with a single instance of discrimination at publicly funded schools that would give her pause when asked about it at a congressional hearing. In Gilead, after all, the women who are not outrightly oppressed get the privilege of wielding what small power they have against the vulnerable and marginalized.

Morgan admits that some people won’t make connections between what’s happening today and Atwood’s fiction. Yet she urges skeptics to focus less on a dramatic, sweeping end to women’s rights. What’s more important, at this point, is the underlying implication of attitudes and laws that see no harm in making it more difficult or even impossible for women to determine their own fate.

“These are steps on the same path,” she says of the parallels between Gilead and Trump’s America. “You have to start somewhere.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/28/handmaids-tale-protests-costumes/

After beating the worlds elite Go players, Googles AlphaGo AI is retiring

Googles AlphaGo the AI developed to tackle the worlds most demanding strategy game is stepping downfrom competitive matches after defeating the worlds best talent. The latest to succumb isGostop-ranked player,Ke Jie, who lost 3-0 in a series hosted in China this week.

The AI, developedby London-based DeepMind, which wasacquired by Google for around $500 million in 2014,also overcomea team of five top playersduring a week of matches. AlphaGofirst drew headlines last year when it beatformer Go world champion Lee Sedol, and theChina event took things to the next level with matches against19-year-old Jie, and doubles with and against other top Go pros.

Challengers defeated,AlphaGohas cast its last competitive stone, DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis explained.

This weeks series of thrilling games with the worlds best players, in the country where Go originated, has been the highest possible pinnacle for AlphaGo as a competitive program. For that reason, the Future of Go Summit is our final match event with AlphaGo.

The research team behind AlphaGo will now throw their energy into the next set of grand challenges, developing advanced general algorithms that could one day help scientists as they tackle some of our most complex problems, such as finding new cures for diseases, dramatically reducing energy consumption, or inventing revolutionary new materials.

Go is revered as the planets most demanding strategy game, and thats why it made for an ideal field to both develop AI technology and plot machines against humans. Beyond Google, Tencent is among other tech firmsto have unleashed AIs on the game. While it whips up curiosity and attention,the game simple servesas a stepping stone for future plans which is why DeepMind says it is moving on.

Indeed, the British companyhas already made a foray into more practical everyday solutions. Last year, it agreed to a data-sharing partnership with the UKs National Health Service, however the partnership has been criticized for givinga for-profit company access topersonally identifiable health data of around1.6 million NHS patients.The original arrangement remainsunder investigation by the UKs data protection watchdog, the ICO.

Those snafus arent a reflection on the technology itself, however, andHassabis remains bullishon the impact his firm can make.

If AI systems prove they are able to unearth significant new knowledge and strategies in these domains too, the breakthroughs could be truly remarkable. We cant wait to see what comes next, he said.

While AlphaGo is bowing out at the top, it isnt done with Go altogether. DeepMind is planning to publish a final review paper on how the AI developed since its matches with Lee Sedol last year. It is also developinga teaching tool to help newcomers pick up the ropes of the highlycomplicated game, and to enable more experienced handsto learnthe new and innovative moves that Go has introduced. Top players, even Ke Jie himself, studied up on AlphaGos moves andadded someto their arsenal.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/27/googles-alphago-ai-is-retiring/

100 Middle Schoolers Refuse Photo-Op With Paul Ryan During D.C. Trip

Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) may be the House Speaker and third in line for the presidency, but that reportedly didnt sway roughly 100 middle school students to take a photo with him earlier this week.

The students were visiting Washington, D.C., from New Jerseys South Orange Middle School on Thursday when they were offered the chance to pose with Ryan, according to reports.

Accompanying parents told New Jerseys Village Green that about half of the students opted not to stand beside him.

Its not just a picture, student Matthew Malespina told ABC 7 News of his decision not to join Ryan. Its being associated with a person who puts his party before his country.

Fellow student Wendy Weeks said she also opted to not take a photo, telling the Village Green that to have stood next to Ryan would have given the wrong impression of how she feels about him.

I think that taking the picture represents that you agree with the same political views and I dont agree with his political views so I chose not to be in it, said the eight-grader.

Win McNamee via Getty Images
The House Speaker has earned criticism for his tireless efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Not everyone felt this way or at least chose to pose with Ryan, who has helped repeal and replace former President Barack Obamas Affordable Care Act with the Republican-backedAmerican Health Care Act. Ryan reportedly wasnt even aware of the mass dissent, some students said.

Student Miles Handelman, who was one of those who went to stand with Ryan, said his appreciation rested with it being such a rare opportunity.

I thought it would be very cool just seeing the man who is the third most powerful man in our country. It would be cool, even if you disagree with him, he told ABC News.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/middle-schoolers-snub-paul-ryan_us_592b414ee4b0df57cbfc6c93

Election 2017: What if I can’t afford to pay the rent? – BBC News

Image caption Nadine Masseron has two jobs but it’s still not enough to pay her rent

“Every year the estate agent tries to put up the rent by 50 a month. Every year I go through that, begging, pleading, ‘please don’t’.”

But even at its present level, Nadine Masseron – a single mother from Wokingham in Berkshire – cannot afford to pay her rent.

To make ends meet, she borrows money on a credit card. She has 6,000 of debt as a result.

She works full-time as a sales manager for a health supplements company, with a second job as a natural health consultant at weekends.

“They call it a living wage. That doesn’t make sense. That is a bare-faced lie,” she says.

“It’s not a living wage if you cannot afford to live anywhere on that wage.”

Where can I afford to live? BBC Calculator


According to the housing charity Shelter, there are now half a million people in the UK in the same situation as Nadine: people who have jobs, but who still have to borrow money for the rent.

That amounts to one in three renters who are on low incomes, Shelter says.

Nadine earns around 1,500 a month, but rent and council tax alone take up 1,057.

Despite claiming housing benefit, tax credits and child benefit, there is always a shortfall at the end of the month.

She wants the next government to introduce significant change: rents that can only rise in line with the National Living Wage, housing benefit that covers the rent, and more security of tenure.

Conservative promises

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Increase security of tenure for “good tenants”
  • Encourage landlords to offer long tenancies as standard
  • Reduce rents by building 1.5m new homes by 2022
  • Promote more council houses, with Right-to-Buy after 10-15 years

Conservative manifesto

Image copyright Kate Stanworth
Image caption Longer leases would give tenants more security, says Tracy Strassburg

Tracy Strassburg – a mother of two boys from Nunhead in south-east London – has an even bigger shortfall in her finances.

Her freelance job as a yoga teacher provides her with 640 a month.

Yet the rent on her small two-bedroom flat is 1,400. Even with housing benefit of 946 a month, she is still left borrowing 300 a month from her mother, as well as using credit cards.

“It’s really stressful. A few days before rent day every month I start to go into a panic,” she says.

But the stress is not just because of the finances.

Since landlords sometimes want their property back, she has been forced to move repeatedly.

In his lifetime, her seven-year-old son has had six different homes, each more cramped than the last.

“Every time we move, we have to downgrade, because the rent goes up, and we have to move down,” she says.

“So we started off in a perfectly acceptable sized house, and we’ve gone slowly, slowly down into this tiny little place.”

She wants the next government to introduce five-year leases to give tenants more security.

Labour promises

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Rents can rise only with inflation
  • Three-year tenancies the norm
  • New standards to ensure homes are fit for habitation
  • Reinstate housing benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds
  • Build more council houses
  • Suspend Right-to-Buy policy

Labour manifesto

‘2.79 a week to live on’

In two years’ time, new rules on housing benefit come into effect for social tenants that will make things even harder.

New claimants who are single and under 35 will only qualify for the shared accommodation rate (SAR) of housing benefit. In other words it is assumed they will live in a shared house or flat.

This rule already exists for private renters.

As a result, according to a new study by Sheffield Hallam University, some 12,500 young tenants in south-east England will see a shortfall between their benefit payments and their rent, typically of 55 a week.

Those under 25 claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) would be left with just 2.79 a week to live on, it claims.

But the government has said the change is necessary, as part of attempts to reduce the 25bn a year spent on housing benefit. And it has pointed out that councils do have the power to make discretionary payments in cases of hardship.

None of the parties has committed to reversing this policy.

Liberal Democrat promises

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Rent rises to be inflation-linked
  • Cap for upfront deposits
  • Rent-to-own model, giving tenants ownership after 30 years
  • Tenants get first refusal to buy property when landlord sells
  • New loans to help first-time renters under 30 with a deposit
  • Reverse cuts to housing benefit

Liberal Democrat manifesto

Image caption Lindy Hamilton worries that the new SAR plan will result in people becoming homeless

Thirty-year-old Lindy Hamilton, a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Swindon, is worried about the new shared accommodation rates.

If her income were to drop, she says she could suffer a disproportionate cut in housing benefit of around 40 a week.

“I would really struggle to be able to stay in my home,” she says.

“This would create a monthly deficit of 160 in rent which, if I couldn’t cover it, would result in me losing my home and being made homeless.”

She would like the next government to tackle rising rents, and unscrupulous landlords who rent out properties that are not safe.

“I would also like them to take another look at the shared accommodation rate plan which is undoubtedly going to result in people getting into rent arrears and even becoming homeless.”

The Sovereign Housing Association, which commissioned the Sheffield research, says it may have to consider subsidising rents for those under the age of 35, or else stop housing people in the younger age group altogether.

SNP promises

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Likely to promise reintroduction of housing benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds
  • The Private Tenancies Bill, passed last year, already provides increased security for tenants
  • Rents can already only be increased once a year, and with three months’ notice
  • Letting agency fees already outlawed

The full SNP manifesto will be published on Tuesday.

Related Topics

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39974177

Wild Amazon faces destruction as Brazils farmers and loggers target national park

The Sierra Ricardo Franco park was meant to be a conservation area protecting rare wildlife

To understand why the Brazilian government is deliberately losing the battle against deforestation, you need only retrace the bootmarks of the Edwardian explorer Percy Fawcett along the Amazonian border with Bolivia.

During a failed attempt to cross a spectacular tabletop plateau here in 1906, the adventurer nearly died on the first of his many trips to South America. Back then, the area was so far from human habitation, the foliage so dense and the terrain so steep that Fawcett and his party came close to starvation.

He returned home with tales of a towering, inaccessible mesa teeming with wildlife and irrigated by secret waterfalls and crystalline rivers. By some accounts, this was one of the stories that inspired his friend Arthur Conan Doyle to write The Lost World about a fictional plateau jutting high above the jungle that served as a sanctuary for species long since extinct elsewhere.

In their wildest fantasies, however, neither Fawcett nor Conan Doyle are likely to have imagined the modern reality of that plateau, which can no longer be certain of protection from geography, the law or Brazils international commitments.

Today, orange dirt roads, cut into the forest by illegal loggers, lead you to the north-western flank of the elevated hilltop. Now called the Serra Ricardo Franco state park, this is nominally a conservation area set up with support from the World Bank. Instead of forest, however, you find swaths of land invaded by farmers, stripped of trees, and turned over to pasture for 240,000 cows. There are even private airfields inside the parks boundaries, which exist on maps only.

Far from being an isolated area where a wanderer might starve, this is now despite its dubious legal status one of the worlds great centres of food production. In recent months, it has also emerged as a symbol of the resurgent influence of a landowning class in Brazil who, even more than in the US under Donald Trump, are cashing in on the destruction of the wild.

Locals say a member of President Michel Temers cabinet chief of staff Eliseu Padilha owns ranches here on hillsides stripped of forest in a supposedly protected park. The municipal ombudsmen told the Observer the cattle raised here are then sold in contravention of pledges to prosecutors and international consumers to JBS, the worlds biggest meat-packing company, which is at the centre of a huge bribery scandal.

These allegations are denied by farmers but there is no doubt the government is easing controls as it opens up more land for ranches, dams, roads and soy fields to meet the growing appetite of China. Last year, Brazil reported an alarming 29% increase of deforestation, raising doubts that the country will be able to meet its global commitments to reduce carbon emissions. Rather than an aberration, this appears to mark a return to historical norms for a country that has been built on 500 years of land seizures that were later legalised by the politicians who benefited from them.

The concurrent erosion of legal authority and natural habitat can be seen in many Brazilian states: the newest soy frontiers of Maranho, Tocantins and Bahia; the hydropower heartland of Par and the wild west mining and logging regions of Rondnia and Acre. But it is in Mato Grosso that the political forces behind deforestation associated with corruption, violence, weak regulation and deliberate obfuscation of land ownership reveal themselves most clearly.

The 158,000-hectare Serra Ricardo Franco state park is supposed to be a conservation area, but farmers and loggers moved in to clear the land. Photograph: Phil Clarke Hill/Corbis via Getty Images

The 158,000-hectare Serra Ricardo Franco state park sits at the intersection of three great biomes; the Amazon rainforest, the Cerrado tropical savanna and the Pantanal wetlands. Its western neighbour, separated only by the narrow Rio Verde, is Bolivias dense Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, which covers an area five times larger. Together, they make up one of the worlds biggest and most biodiverse ecological reserves.

To the east are the light green plains of Mato Grosso a state bigger than the combined area of the UK and France which was named after the once thick bushland that has now mostly been cleared for soy fields and cattle ranches.

The plan to establish a park in this geologically and biologically important landscape was agreed amid the giddy optimism of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which was hailed as a breakthrough for international cooperation on the environment.

Ricardo Franco was one of nine conservation areas promised by the Mato Grosso government in return for a $205m loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The primary source of funds was the World Bank, which noted at the time that the money was to be used for vehicles, staff training and salaries, office construction and research. The envisaged Ricardo Franco park was supposed to cover 400,000 hectares.

The reality was very different. After several years of studies, the park that was eventually established in 1997 was less than half the expected size. At least 20,000 hectares of it had already been cleared by farmers who were supposed to be compensated and removed. This never happened. Nor could the Observer find evidence of fences ever being erected, or administrative centres built either in the park nor the nearest town of Vila Bela da Santssima Trindade.

The only signs and boundary markers are for fazendas (plantations). Although the park is supposed to be publicly owned and used only for ecotourism or scientific research, many areas could only be accessed after paying an entrance fee or requesting a key from the owner of the farm occupying the property.

Serro Ricardo Franco is in one of the worlds biggest and most diverse ecological reserves. But reality on the ground is different, putting many animals at risk, such as Yacare caiman and giant river otters. Photograph: Angelo Gandolfi/Getty Images/Nature Picture Library

A quarter of the land has been cleared over the past four decades, but there are still areas of immense natural beauty and biodiversity that have changed little since Fawcetts time. Over two half-days, the Observer spotted an armadillo, spider monkeys, capuchins, otters, fish leaping a waterfall, clouds of butterflies, and a hand-sized spider that was slowly succumbing to the sting of a giant vespa wasp. Local guides report sightings of panthers, pumas, anaconda, pink dolphins and six-metre long alligators.

Trails now lead up to the previously undisturbed heights, but they are rarely used. The 5km hiking route to the 248-metre high Jatoba waterfall was deserted, as were the sapphire waters of the Agua Azul canyon. It was not, however, well maintained. Rubbish and used toilet paper littered one area. Another clearing was scarred with the charred remains of a barbecue (likely to be prohibited as a fire hazard in a well-run conservation area). On the banks of the Rio Verde, fishing lines were tangled on the rocks despite signs declaring Strictly no fishing or hunting. But it is undoubtedly the 20,000 to 39,000 hectares of farmland (the size is disputed) that has had the biggest environmental impact.

What is happening in the park is very sad, said a local biologist, who asked for her name to be withheld because she fears repercussions. This area is very important. There are species here not found anywhere else. But its degrading year by year.

Ranchers inside the park disagree. Ademir Talini, the manager of the Fazenda de Serra, boasts of boosting production of soy and beef on what he claims is the third most fertile land in the world.

Our municipality has the biggest abattoir in Brazil, the best beef comes from here and farms here contribute greatly to GDP, he says. He then points toward the nearby border with Bolivia. Over there is the biggest conservation area in the world. So what difference does 39,000 hectares make?

He points out that many of the farms preceded the creation of the park a refrain echoed by other ranchers.

The state government created a virtual park to get money, said Donizete dos Reis Lima, who owns the farm next to the border. Nobody here is against the park. I want a future for my children. But lets have a decent park. If we go, who is going to pay us compensation.

About 240,000 cattle graze within the cleared forest in the park. This farm is owned by government chief of staff Eliseu Padilha. Photograph: Jonathan Watts for the Observer

The issue is not black and white. The burly farmer says he is the legal owner of the land, having arrived in the area long before it was a park. But he also recounts how he opened up the roads to the region as part of his work as a logger. The area he cleared was later regularised by the land agency (Incra).

Then, as now, this process often involved corruption and collusion with the authorities. Elsio Ferreira de Souza, a retired municipal employee, recalls the illegal origins of land clearances in the 1970s. It was done with the connivance of local politicians and only later legalised, he says.

Regiane Soares de Aguiar, the public prosecutor who has filed multiple lawsuits against the farmers, agrees. All of the land was cleared illegally, she says. Even the landowners that were there before the creation of the park would not have had permission to deforest the land. Satellite data shows the problem has since worsened, she said, as more farmers moved inside the park, bringing more cattle that needed more pasture.

This illegal activity has done spectacular damage to forest and water sources. According to the prosecutor, JBS should share the blame because the meat company has bought livestock from inside the park despite a pledge to public prosecutors, foreign buyers and environmental NGOs not to source cattle from illegally cleared land. To get around this, it briefly launders the animals at untainted farms outside the park before taking them to the slaughter.

In a statement to the Observer, JBS said it had blocked sales from farms inside the park after being requested to do so by the prosecutors office. The company said it used data from satellites, the environment agency, ministry of labour and other sources to monitor its 70,000 cattle suppliers. The results, it said, were independently audited.

Since 2013, more than 99.9% of direct suppliers located purchases of cattle in the Amazon region comply with the Public Commitment of Livestock and agreements signed with federal prosecutors, it noted.

But cattle laundering is rife. Regulation is a challenge at the best of times. Even when the authorities impose a penalty for forest clearances or other violations, very few fines are ever paid.

I penalise them, but they challenge me in the courts and justice is so slow, says Laerte Marques, from the State Secretariat for the Environment (Sema). It has been very difficult. There is pressure from all sides. On one side there is the public prosecutor, on the other are the farmers.

The landowners have launched a campaign for the park to be abolished. Prosecutors, however, have urged the conservation area be administered on a more formal footing. Last month, they appeared to have won a victory when the Mato Grosso government announced a two-year study to determine the status of the park and what should become of its farms. But there are fears this will simply shrink the boundaries and allow the farms to be excluded.

Powerful landowners are trying to use this opportunity to reduce the limits of the park, said Aguiar. That would only benefit those who cleared forest. But there is a lot of economic power behind them, she warned.

Near the entrance of the Paredon 1 Fazenda is an overgrown airstrip and a dirt road that cuts through the state park to fields of cattle grazing among tree stumps on an otherwise bare hillside overlooking the Bolivian forest. This is one of several farms in the park owned directly or indirectly by Eliseu Padilha, the chief of staff. Locals in Vila Bela say he is an intimidating presence. He is not the only one. Several of Brazils richest businessmen as well as local politicians own land inside the park.

The forces lined up against conservation have deep roots. The post-colonial history of Brazil is, to a large extent, the history of deforestation. Following the arrival of European ships, settlers carved out roads into the jungle in search of gold. Since then, massive fortunes have been made by the clearance of forest, initially for coffee and rubber plantations and more recently for cattle and soy. Landowners happily backed the 1964-85 military dictatorship, which ensured that campaigners for indigenous rights and agrarian reform did not get in the way of farm and ranch expansions. The return of democracy initially made little difference. The first president under the new constitution was Jos Sarney, an old-school coronel who ruled the northern state of Maranho as if it were his personal fiefdom. Deforestation surged to new peaks at the turn of the 21st century.

The first time the problem came close to being brought under control was during the initial Workers party administration of Luiz Incio Lula da Silva (2003-06). His environment minister at the time, Marina Silva, put in place tougher penalties and a monitoring system that used satellites in the sky and rangers on the ground to identify farmers who burned or cut down forests. This resulted in an impressive slowdown that lasted nearly a decade, winning kudos from the international community and putting Brazil in an influential position in global climate talks.

But the effectiveness of this system weakened under Lulas Workers party successor as president Dilma Rousseff, who was much closer to the ruralista lobby than her predecessor. She had little choice. Increased demand for soy and beef, particularly from China, had made agriculture the main driver for economic growth and a political force to be reckoned with.

With 200 seats, the bancada ruralista had become the most powerful caucus in Congress. To placate them, Rousseff approved a relaxation of the Forest Code, which was the main legal tool against tree felling. It was a disaster for the Amazon.

Before that change in 2012, deforestation rates had been creeping down. After it, rates increased by 75%, according to Paulo Barreto, a senior researcher at Imazon, an independent monitoring organisation. He said this put at risk the commitments Brazil had made in international climate talks to reduce annual clearance to 3,800 square kilometres per year by 2020. At one point, we were on the right path. But last year, 8,000 square kilometres were cleared, double the goal for 2020, he points out. Two-thirds of Brazils carbon emissions come from this source.

Meanwhile, beef and soy barons have strengthened their grip on power. After last years impeachment of Rousseff, her replacement, Michel Temer, appointed several ruralistas to his cabinet and moved to dismantle and dilute the institutions and laws that slowed forest clearance.

His pick as agriculture minister is Blairo Maggi, the owner of the countrys biggest soy producer, Amaggi Group, and a former governor of Mato Grosso, who supported moves to abolish the Ricardo Franco park. The justice minister, Osmar Serraglio, is at the forefront of the beef lobby, which was his main campaign donor, and a fierce opponent of indigenous land demarcation (the most effective method of forest protection).

Under his watch, the National Indian Foundation (Funai) has seen its finances and personnel gutted. The foundations president, Antnio Costa, was sacked earlier this year. In a parting speech, he described Serraglio as a dictator. He is the minister of one cause: agro-business, he warned.

The counterbalance ought to be the environment ministry, which is headed by Jos Sarney Filho, the son of the top landowner in Maranho state. Although his ideals are widely praised by conservationists, his ability to act has been neutered. Last year, the environment budget was cut by 51% (compared to a 31% reduction of the Environmental Protection Agency in the US under Trump).

In March, the ministers weak position was apparent when he issued a grovelling public apology to JBS after inspectors embargoed two meat-processing factories that were alleged to have bought tens of thousands of cattle from illegally deforested areas of the Amazon. Rather than assess the rights and wrongs of the case, the minister said the action was badly timed because it could hurt a major exporter that was already bogged down in scandal.

Almost every week, there is a new roll back of forest protections. Last Tuesday, the Senate approved a bill that slashed protected areas in the Amazon by 597,000 hectares (about four times the area of Greater London). The previous week, the lower house of Congress paved the way for the legalisation of land that had been illegally occupied by grileiro a move that is likely to encourage more seizures and forest clearance. Environmental licensing requirements for agriculture have been emasculated.

Temers unhealthily close ties to the agriculture lobby may yet, however, come to be his undoing.

Earlier this month, the attorney-general formally accused the president and his aides of accepting bribes and colluding with top executives from JBS to buy the silence of witnesses in a corruption scandal. Temer has denied all wrongdoing. The evidence was provided in a plea-bargain by the owners of the beef company, which is reportedly looking for a clean bill of legal health so that it can relocate its headquarters to the US. If so, its links to Padilha and the cattle raised inside Ricardo Franco and numerous other conservation areas also deserves more scrutiny, as does the process for deciding whether farms will be excluded from the soon-to-be regularised park.

Foreign adventurers and Brazilian bandeirantes helped to pave the way for this development, even if their intention was to escape fazendas and cities alike. As Fawcett said: Deep down inside me a tiny voice was calling. At first scarcely audible, it persisted until I could no longer ignore it. It was the voice of the wild places, and I knew that it was now part of me forever.

With each day that passes, that voice is becoming harder to hear.

The tatu-bola armadillo was last year reclassified as at risk of extinction. Photograph: belizar73/Getty Images/iStockphoto

World Cup mascot is now at risk as forests disappear

The tatu-bola armadillo, the mascot for the 2014 World Cup, is now a symbol for a very different phenomenon in Brazil: the growing impact of deforestation on biodiversity.

The small armoured mammal was chosen to represent the tournament because it rolls up into the shape of a football when threatened, but its ability to protect itself has been undermined by a loss of habitat that is also devastating thousands of other species.

Late last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature raised the alarm by reclassifying the creature also known as the three-banded armadillo from vulnerable to at risk of extinction.

This has prompted the group that led the campaign for its selection as a mascot to launch a crowdfunding drive last month to raise $500,000 to save the animal.

Samuel Portela, co-ordinator of protected areas at the Caatinga Association, estimates the tatu-bola population has declined by 30% in the past decade due to deforestation and hunting.It is fundamental that steps be taken towards the conservation of this species and its habitat, because under the present conditions, the tatu-bola could be extinct in 50 years, he said.

The animal is mainly found in the northeastern Brazil in the caatinga (an indigenous term for white or desert forest) and cerrado tropical savannas. Even more than the Amazon, these two ecosystems have been diminished by the expansion of farmland.

Scientists warn that many other animals face similar or worse threats and the risks are rising along with the pace of land clearance in Brazil, the worlds most biodiverse nation. Last year, the government reported a 29% increase in deforestation the sharpest rise in more than a decade. Forest clearing in Brazil has already condemned at least 20 species of birds, 10 species of mammals and eight of amphibians to regional extinction. Scientists estimate this is just a fifth of those that will die out due to habitat loss. Among the most endangered are giant otters and bare-faced tamarins. A 2015 study predicted half of the 15,000 tree species in the Amazon could be lost if current rates of deforestation continue.

According to the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, the tatu-bola faces a particularly hard struggle to recover its population because of the animals low metabolic rate, small litter size, prolonged parental care and long gestation periods.


Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/27/brazil-wild-amazon-faces-destruction-farmers-loggers-sierra-ricardo-franco-park

Rare cigarette paintings up for auction – BBC News

Image copyright Imperial Tobacco

Original artwork of people smoking and children handing out cigarettes, which once hung inside England’s last tobacco factory, are set to go to auction.

About 120 “artefacts” are up for sale following the closure of Imperial Tobacco’s Horizon factory in Nottingham, in March 2016.

The building, known as Players, after founder John Player, had the pictures displayed across five floors.

Image copyright Imperial Tobacco

The rare paintings, which formed the basis of the company’s advertising campaigns, have never been on public display, the auctioneer said.

The Horizon building, which was built in 1972 at a cost of 14m, was one of the most modern factories of the time.

Image copyright Imperial Tobacco

The oil and watercolour paintings depicting children playing with cigarettes and women gleefully smoking, were painted before awareness of smoking’s health risks became more widespread in the 1950s.

Image copyright Imperial Tobacco

Robert Opie, director of the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, said: “Before the Second World War, most people were unaware of the dangers of smoking.

“Indeed, the art of smoking had become glamorised by the great film stars of the 1920s and ’30s, and a well-directed cigarette holder could help underline many a dramatic statement.

“In this era of innocence, whether it was the appeal of women (who were still to take up smoking in large numbers), sportsmen, or even children, they were all used to advertise cigarette brands in just the same way that custard, biscuits or toffee would have been promoted.”

Image copyright Imperial Tobacco

Trevor Palethorpe, from John Pye Auctions, said the “rare paintings” had only been seen by a small number of people and had never been on public display.

He added that the collection included an “eclectic range of pieces that have a strong history attached to them”.

Image copyright Imperial Tobacco

Imperial Tobacco, which had factory blocks in the Radford area of Nottingham, made more than one million cigarettes a day and employed up to 7,000 people at its height in the 1930s.

It was one of the biggest employers in the city for decades before the Horizon factory closure when about 500 people lost their jobs.

A spokeswoman for John Pye Auctions said there was no figure on the total value or estimated value of the lots.

The public can view the items at the auctioneers’ Marchington site, in Staffordshire, on Monday, and Trent Bridge Cricket Ground on 6 June, before the online auction ends on 14 June.

Image copyright Imperial Tobacco

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-40046132

Sana Health aims to stop insomnia with smart goggles

When Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard set out to fly around the worldin a plane that uses no fuel, he knew he wasnt going to get much rest. During the journey, he would be able to sleep, at a maximum, threehours per day with rest meted out in twenty-minute intervals. The plane, which could only accommodate one aviator, required a human systems check every twenty minutes.

For part of the journey, Piccard used Sana Health technology to put him to sleep in flight, and to sleep as deeply as possible during those scant moments.

TheSana Sleepsmart goggles, will be available to the too-tired public starting in the second quarter of 2018, according to Sana Health founder and CEO Richard Hanbury. The companyrecently closed a $1.3 million round of seed funding from Founders Fund, Maveron and SOSV, among others. The goggles will sell for about $400 a pair, Hanbury said.

The entrepreneur began working on this technology as a solution to his own chronic pain and related sleep issues. He suffered from chronic nerve damage pain, after surviving a disabling Jeep accident in Yemen in 1992. However, the technology has broad-based appeal.Not including defiant toddlers, everyone wants a good nights rest.

Sana Health founder and CEO Richard Hanbury.

Still,one in three adults in the U.S. doesnt get enough sleep, according to the most recent available data from the CDC. Insomniacs suffer mood and memory impairments, among other undesirable corollaries, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have verified.

Sniffing a major market opportunity in the restless masses, a number of tech companies have begun trying to allay insomnia in recent years. Theyre making mattresses of novel materials, a wide variety ofwearables, sleep tracking apps and other IoT devicesto encourage better sleep.

Venture investors are falling for the promise of a good nights rest, too. According to deal tracker Crunchbase (which is owned by TechCrunchs parent company) at least 30 sleep-related tech startups, including 6 hardware companies, landed seed or venture rounds since the start of last year.

For its part, the Sana Sleep looks like padded goggles, or a pared down and comfy version of a VR headset. It is being tested currently with athletes in training who want the most restorative sleep they can get while traveling extensively.

Hanbury explained this is how the device works: It uses audio-visual stimulation to trigger specific patterns in the brain. In the same way that when you go into a nightclub, and hear fast music and see strobed lights, this produces an excited state in your brain, this device produces the patterns your brain needs in order to produce deep states of relaxation.

The gogglesemit pulses of light and sound. The wearer is conscious of the lights and sounds at the outset of each use, but becomes less aware of theseas they drift off to sleep. The gogglesmeasure things like a userss pulse and breathing, and customizes the signals in response totheindividualsbiometrics.

The goggles must be trained, initially. After about 4 uses wearers (even those dealing with chronic pain issues) can getto sleep within ten minutes, and more importantly can sleep through the night.

Prior to closing their seed round, Sana Health had raised $450,000 including from the HAX hardware accelerator run by SOSV. The firm reupped its investment in Sanas seed round, according to General Partner Cyril Ebersweiler, because its technology solves the hardest sleep cases.

Sana is based on 24 years of sleep research and has gone through extensive subject trials. While bringing continuous improvement to the experience, the company will need to now spend some time understanding which distribution channels are the most adapted for its offering, he said.

The efficacy of the companys goggles in early tests have led Sana Health to pursue a classification as a medical device from the FDA in the US.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/26/sana-health-raises-1-3-million-to-hack-insomnia-with-smart-goggles/

Reid Hoffman, Bill Gates, Sam Altman invest $30 million in Change.org

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman announced today that hes making a big bet on Change.org, the site for social justice petitions. Hoffman is leading a $30 million round, with other investors including big names likeBill Gates and Y Combinator president Sam Altman.

Change.org, the global hub for collective action, is a crucial democratizing force in this era of growing civic participation, wrote Reid Hoffman on LinkedIn. It helps enable a world where you dont need to hire a lobbyist to have real impact on the issues and policies that matter to you.

The organization was founded in 2007 by CEO Ben Rattray. Since then, almost200 million people around the world have used the site to raise awareness for arange ofcauses includinghuman rights, the environment, education and health issues.

Rattray wrote in a post about the global mission. We are in the early stages of the development of a new, more participatory form of democracy, and in order to realize the potential that technology has to transform civic engagement, we need to build tools that give us wider reach and enable deeper involvement, he said.

The proverbial tongue-in-cheek in Silicon Valley is that people want to buildthings that change the world. This one actually does.

But theyre not a non-profit, theyre a business. They make money by charging companiesand nonprofits to sponsor petitions whichthey say they brought in $20 million in revenue per year. Unfortunately, that wasnt enough to keep them from laying off 30% of their staff in September.They have since introduced crowdfunding, which has generated millions of dollars of revenue.

This isnt the first time that Hoffman bet on the Change.org team.In 2014, hewas part of a large group of high-profile investorsincluding Richard Branson, Ashton Kutcher and Twitter co-founder Ev Williams.

Theyve raised over $42 million dating back to 2012.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/26/reid-hoffman-bill-gates-sam-altman-invest-30-million-in-change-org/

How your body changes when you turn 30

Aging is an inevitable process, but there are some bodily changes that you might not know about as you say goodbye to your 20s.

Turning 30 opens the door to prolonged hangovers and a slump in metabolism and yes, youll even get gray hairs down there.

Weight gain
Shifting weight wont be as easy as it was in your 20s, and you might notice a loss in muscle tone as your metabolism begins to slow.

This is more noticeable in women than in men and is often as a result of pregnancy when the body struggles to bounce back as easily.

Stress at work can also cause weight gain, as a reactionary release of hormones can encourage you to store weight around your middle, nutrition and weight loss expert Jane Michell told MailOnline.


But its not all bad studies have shown people today tend to gain less weight in your 30s than they had in previous decades.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that the average person typically puts on 1 to 2 pounds a year from early adulthood through middle age, according to the Washington Post.

Sex drive
Women might think their libido declines as they get older, but experts say its actually the opposite.

Researchers found that women ages 27 to 45 had more sexual thoughts, fantasies, and sex in general compared to those in their early 20s or women going through menopause.

The study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, suggests women may have an increased sex drive due to a decline in fertility.


For men, testosterone levels decrease after 30, which can in some cases lead to a declining libido.

It happens at a rate of about 1 percent a year, and by age 70, the decrease can approach 50 percent, according to Livestrong.

Changes in this hormone also have an impact on increased body fat, hair loss, mood swings and erectile dysfunction.

Gray hair
Were all well aware that we could see the odd gray hair here and there at some point in life but what about in the pubic region?

Dr Jessica Shepherd, assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, said its just like finding a grey hair on your head.


I hear this complaint in the office,”she told the Huffington Post. This is one we can laugh off together and say, its fine.

For some people, grayness isn’t the only worrisome change that comes in their 30s hair loss can also be a problem. 

Fertility starts to drop off from the age of 30, and the chance of conceiving around this age is about 20 percent per month.

From about age 32, a womans chances of conceiving decrease gradually but significantly, and by 35 the decline speeds up.

After that, the proportion of women who experience infertility, miscarriage or a problem with their baby increases.


Its not just an issue for women the quality of a mans sperm can decrease with age, leading older couples to have issues getting pregnant.

Theres also an increased risk of not conceiving at all.

The volume of a mans semen and sperm motility (the ability of sperm to move toward an egg) decrease continually between ages 20 and 80, according to YourFertility.org.au.

Women can expect changes in their menstrual cycles from their mid 30s as oestrogen and progesterone levels dip.

They might become shorter or longer, lighter or heavier, or start earlier or later than usual.

Dr Shepherd told the HP some women can experience perimenopause the transitional phase before menopause, as early as their late 30s.

Some menstruation changes are natural, but she advises seeing a doctor if you are concerned as it could signal something more serious.

Bladder weakness
Trouble with a little light bladder leakage could become a problem as you reach your 30s especially for women who have had children.

Shepherd explained this is because vaginal labor can sometimes damage the muscles and nerves that control urination.

Urinary incontinence affects around 25 percent to 45 percent of women, so if this happens to you, dont be embarrassed to see a doctor.

To help fix incontinence, your doctor may prescribe medication or recommend doing pelvic floor muscle exercises to tighten your bladder and improve control.

First published on The Sun

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/2017/05/26/how-your-body-changes-when-turn-30.html

MoneyLions redesigned app gives personalized financial advice and instant access to personal loans

Personal finance management app MoneyLionwas created to help users save money, reduce debt and improve their credit. Today the app is being updated to provide users with more personalized information about how they can improve their financial health, as well as even faster access to personal loans.

Like other PFM apps, MoneyLion works by connecting with all of a users bank, credit card, student loan and other financial accounts and then providing them with information abouthow they could improve their financial health.

One way it does this is by giving users personalized recommendations to encourage positive financial behaviors. By analyzingtheir individual spending habits and credit, the MoneyLion app gives daily advice based on a usersmost recentfinancial information.

Anotherway it aims to help usersis byimproving their credit. It offers freecredit reports from TransUnion and Equifax, push notification credit monitoring and access to credit counseling and credit repair services.

The latest version of the MoneyLion app has anupdated user interface to make things easier to navigate and provide faster access to the information. With its new UI, MoneyLions home navigation now showsswipe-able cards to provide up-to-date information, recommendations and personalized advice.

The app also has streamlined the process of applying for personal loans from MoneyLion itself. Users who are looking to borrow from MoneyLion can now get a loan approved in as little as 15 seconds, and can have funds in their account as quickly as the same business day.

That combination of personalized financial advice and access to personal loans is helping users improve their financial health, MoneyLion says. Customers have saved more than $5 million in rate reductions and rewards by demonstrating good financial behavior, andusers save $46 on average in overdraft fees each month, the company says.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/26/moneylion-app-update/

GOP leaders move to break health care gridlock

(CNN)A day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he didn’t know how he was going to find 50 votes to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, the No. 2 Senate Republican emerged from a key health care meeting saying he was suddenly “optimistic” about the negotiations over the thorny, high-stakes issue.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/25/politics/republican-health-care-gridlock/index.html

What’s wrong with too many white men in one place?

(CNN)President Donald Trump helped the nation reach a rare moment of racial reconciliation, but hardly anyone noticed.

May 18: A man assaults a stranger for speaking Spanish: Hector Torres was talking to his mother on the phone at the Reno airport, when a man started yelling profanities and assaulted him.

May 19: New Orleans mayor delivers a remarkable speech on race. After his city removed a monument to a Confederate Civil War hero, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the Confederacy was on the “wrong side of history.”

May 20: A white Mississippi lawmaker calls for a lynching. State Rep. Karl Oliver made the comment on his Facebook page while denouncing the removal of Confederate monuments. He later apologized.

May 22: Video of a woman’s racist rant against a Latino shopper goes viral. The white woman in a Sprint store in Virginia calls the Latino shopper a “f#$$ sp#c.”

May 22: A Walmart shopper goes after two women of color. The white shopper in Arkansas told a Latino woman to “go back to Mexico” and called an African-American woman the N-word.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/25/us/too-many-white-men/index.html

The creepy doll on ‘The Bachelorette’ is a viable suitor given their low, low standards

Image: abc

Rachel Lindsay suffered many indignities in the season premiere of The Bachelorette and accepted it all with poise, even when a man attacked her by playing an acoustic guitar at her. Another dude who’s known her since they were children was suddenly interested once it meant he could be on television.

Still, she was only thrown off her game when she met Adam Jr., a doll who is, apparently, French.

“That’s scary looking,” Lindsay says, backing the hell away. “I don’t know which one to look at.”

Adam Jr.’s chaperone, Adam, is a real estate agent based in Dallas, so it’s sort of unclear how the pair met. Also, does Adam Jr. have a job? Even a fake job, like Whaboom? A lot of questions here.

The Bachelor franchise has always had an iffy grasp on personhood. Take, for example, The Twins.

On Bachelor in Paradise, The Twins (legally named Haley and Emily Ferguson although, if you watch these shows religiously like I do, you’re still unlikely to know that) were treated as a single individual. Even their “best friends” like Amanda Stanton, just called them “The Twins” all the time. Accordingly, the rules of the game treated them as one entity: if one twin matched up with a suitor, the other twin got to stay.

Soon, they’ll have their own Freeform spinoff, The Twins: Happily Ever After? where, presumably, no one’s allowed to get married unless it’s a double wedding.

So what’s the deal with Adam and Adam Jr.? Adam, bless Rachel’s heart, got a rose. But was that just so she could keep Adam Jr., who unlike pretty much everyone else, doesn’t say anything horrific because he literally cannot open his mouth?

Adam Jr. (or AJ) did get to express himself with voiceover, though, and revealed that he actually has more emotional intelligence (hey, Taylor) than most of the contenders. The ability to read the room is a rare gift in Bachelor Nation.

Adam Jr. had a staggering amount fan support and even some conditional cosigns from fellow suitors.

“I really feel like everybody’s here for love, including AJ. He doesn’t have to say much for you to know what he’s thinking and I can tell he’s getting a little jealous,” observed Josiah.

“AJ’s dressed fresh, he’s actually got a pretty dope fade if you look,” added Kenny before offering to light the doll on fire if he ventures into true horror movie territory.

Look, we know AJ isn’t going to win this thing, but since there are like two viable suitors for Lindsay to pick from, why not go for a hometown date in the French countryside at the doll factory he comes from?

Oh, yeah, that’s why.

Well, if he floats, he’s a perfect contender for Bachelor in Paradise, where even Evan the Erectile Dysfunction Expert who faked an illness so his crush would accompany him in an ambulance found love.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/23/creepy-doll-adam-jr-the-bachelorette/

The US healthcare system is at a dramatic fork in the road | Adam Gaffney

The Congressional Budget Office has given the revised American Health Care Act a dismal score. Will we let this terrible plan define our healthcare future?

The US healthcare system and with it the health and welfare of millions is poised on the edge of a knife. Though the fetid dysfunction and entanglements of the Trump presidency dominate the airwaves, this is an issue that will have life and death consequences for countless Americans.

The Congressional Budget Offices (CBO) dismal scoring of the revised American Health Care Act (AHCA) on Wednesday made clear just how dire Americas healthcare prospects are under Trumps administration. But while the healthcare debate is often framed as a choice between Obamacare and the new Republican plan, there are actually three healthcare visions in competition today. These can be labelled healthcare past, healthcare present, and healthcare future.

Let us begin with healthcare past, for the dark past is precisely where Republicans are striving to take us with the AHCA. The bill narrowly passed by the House on 4 May is less a piece of healthcare reform than a dump truck sent barreling at high speed into the foundation of the healthcare safety net.

Wednesdays CBO score reflects the modifications made to the AHCA to pacify the hard-right Freedom Caucus, changes that allowed states to obtain waivers that would relieve health insurers of the requirement that they cover the full spectrum of essential healthcare benefits, or permit them to charge higher premiums to those guilty of the misdemeanor of sickness, all purportedly for the goal of lowering premiums.

In fairness, the CBO report did find that these waivers would bring down premiums for non-group plans. This, however, was not the result of some mysterious market magic, but simply because, as the CBO noted, covered benefits would be skimpier, while sicker and older people would be pushed out of the market.

In some states that obtained waivers, over time, less healthy individuals would be unable to purchase comprehensive coverage with premiums close to those under current law and might not be able to purchase coverage at all. Moreover, out-of-pocket costs would rise for many, for instance whenever people needed to use services that were no longer covered say mental health or maternity care.

Much else, however, stayed the same from the previous reports. Like the last AHCA, this one would cut more than $800bn in Medicaid spending over a decade, dollars it would pass into the bank accounts of the rich in the form of tax cuts, booting about 14 million individuals out of the program in the process. And overall, the new AHCA would eventually strip insurance from 23 million people, as compared to the previous estimate of 24 million.

Its worth noting here that Trumps budget released Tuesday proposed additional Medicaid cuts in addition of those of the AHCA, which amounted to a gargantuan $1.3tn over a decade, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The tax plan and budget best characterized as a battle plan for no-holds-barred top-down class warfare drawn up by apparently innumerate xenophobes would in effect transform the healthcare and food aid of the poor into bricks for a US-Mexico border wall, guns for an already swollen military, and more than anything a big fat payout to Trumps bloated billionaire and millionaire cronies.

What becomes of this violent agenda now depends on Congress and on the grassroots pressure that can be brought to bear upon its members.

But assuming the AHCA dies a much-deserved death quite possible given the headwinds it faces in the Senate we will still have to contend with healthcare present.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control released 2016 results from the National Health Interview Survey, giving us a fresh glimpse of where things stand today. And on the one hand, the news seemed good: the number of uninsured people fell from 48.6 to 28.6 million between 2010 and 2016.

On the other hand, it revealed utter stagnation: an identical number were uninsured in 2016 as compared with 2015, with about a quarter of those with low incomes uninsured last year (among non-elderly adults). It also suggested that the value of insurance is declining, with high-deductible health plans rapidly becoming the rule and not the exception: for the privately insured under age 65, 39.4% had a high-deductible in 2016, up from 25.3% in 2010.

Healthcare present, therefore, is an unstable status quo: an improvement from healthcare past, no doubt, but millions remain uninsured and out-of-pocket health costs continue to squeeze the insured.

Which takes us to the third vision, that of healthcare future. As it happens, another recent development provided a brief glimmer of hope for that vision. As the Hill reported, the Democratic congressman John Conyers held a press conference yesterday (Physicians for a National Health Program, in which I am active, participated) to announce that his universal healthcare bill the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act had achieved 111 co-sponsors, amounting to a majority of the House Democratic Caucus and the most in the bills history.

This bill like other single-payer proposals is the precise antithesis of Paul Ryans AHCA. Rather than extract coverage from millions to provide tax breaks for the rich, it would use progressive taxation to provide first-dollar health coverage to all.

Which of these three visions will win out is uncertain, but the outcome of the contest will have a lasting impact on the country. We can only hope that the thuggish, rapacious vision championed by Trump and his administration does not prevail.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/25/us-healthcare-system-fork-road

Cheryl Grimmer: Accused man gave evidence in 1971, court hears – BBC News

Image copyright NSW Police
Image caption Cheryl Grimmer disappeared when she was three years old

A man accused of killing a UK-born toddler in Australia in 1970 once gave information to police about her possible resting place, a court has heard.

Three-year-old Cheryl Grimmer went missing from a shower block at a New South Wales beach.

A 63-year-old man, originally from Britain, was arrested in March and charged with her abduction and murder.

A court heard the man confessed in 1971, but police had not believed him.

The man, who was 17 at the time, had also given details about the possible location of her remains, the Wollongong court heard on Wednesday.

Police initially discounted his information, believing it was inaccurate, but it had since been supported by other evidence, a magistrate was told.

The accused man cannot be named because he was a minor at the time.

Image copyright NSW Police
Image caption The toddler went missing from a beach in Wollongong in New South Wales

Police have said they do not believe Cheryl’s body will be found.

Defence lawyer Laura Fennell questioned whether the new evidence should be admissible because it was given by a minor who had been suffering mental health issues.

But the magistrate denied bail, saying the prosecution case appeared to be strong.

The man has not formally entered a plea.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-40024825

23 Million Fewer People Would Have Coverage Under Obamacare Repeal Bill, CBO Confirms

Twenty-three million fewer Americans would have insurance under legislation that House Republicans narrowly passed last month, the Congressional Budget Office reported on Wednesday.

The CBO also predicted that the deficit would come down by $119 billion over the next decade and that premiums for people buying insurance on their own would generally be lower for younger consumers and higher for older and sicker people than those premiums would be if the Affordable Care Act stays in place.

But the reasons why health insurance would be less expensive for some arent much to cheer about, the budget report makes clear. Prices would come down for healthy people because those who are sick or have illness in their medical histories would have less access to coverage and the policies available on the market would tend to be a lot less comprehensive.

In other words, the price for lower premiums would be some combination of higher out-of-pocket costs, fewer covered services, and coverage that would be harder to get for the people who need it most.

Insurance, on average, would pay for a smaller proportion of health care costs, the CBO report says. The budget office even predicts that several million people will opt to use the bills new tax credits to buy plans so bare-boned that they dont even qualify as health insurance.

The American Health Care Act the House bill to repeal most of Obamacare would take away $1.1 trillion from programs that help people get covered, including $834 billion in cuts to Medicaid, over the course of a decade.

The result would be 51 million Americans without health insurance by 2026, compared with 28 million under current law. The House-passed bill would effectively reverse all of the Affordable Care Acts coverage expansion, which pushed the uninsured rate to a historic low.

Coverage losses would begin soon, with 14 million more uninsured next year, 19 million more by 2020 and 23 million more by 2026, the report finds. The largest share of the lower coverage numbers would come from the 14 million fewer low-income people who qualify for Medicaid. The rise in the uninsured would fall hardest on low-income people aged 50 to 64, the CBO projected.

Health insurance premiums for young adults generally would come down, in part because policies would be less comprehensive. A 21-year-old could buy an unsubsidized policy for as little as $3,700 a year under the House bill, compared to $5,100 under the Affordable Care Act.

But the other side of that ledger reveals significantly higher costs for older people. A 64-year-olds annual unsubsidized premium would rise from $15,300 to as much as $21,000.

Wednesdays assessment of the American Health Care Act is relatively similar to the evaluations the budget office issued previously, when it studied earlier versions of the legislation.

In late April, House leaders rushed to vote on the bill less than 24 hours after making significant modifications, without waiting for the budget office to study how those changes to Obamacare might affect insurance coverage or the federal deficit.

One of those changes would have allow states to waive a rule that prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums to people at greater risk of medical problems. Without that rule in place, insurers could jack up rates for people with pre-existing conditions, effectively making standard coverage unavailable and violating a key promise to guarantee insurance for everybody regardless of medical status, which most Republicans had endorsed.

In March, the House had failed to bring an earlier version of the legislation to the floor for a vote, embarrassing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and President Donald Trump, who were unable to pull together factions within the House Republican Conference. After that, conservatives from the House Freedom Caucus and more moderate lawmakers led by Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) negotiated a deal that enabled Republican leaders to cobble together just enough votes to pass the bill in the lower chamber. Trump held a celebration at the White House afterward.

The new language placated conservatives, who wanted to repeal more of the Affordable Care Acts consumer protections, and some moderates, who expressed concern about major coverage losses and about harming people with pre-existing conditions and who won additional funds meant to mitigate those problems.

Based on the CBO score, the moderates didnt actually get what they wanted.

The House-passed legislation would reduce the number of people with health coverage by just 1 million fewer than the earlier legislation.

And the bills ballyhooed waivers for states that want to curtail the Affordable Care Acts guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions is the main reason that the CBO projected older and sicker people would have a harder time obtaining coverage. The money that moderate Republicans won to protect these people would help some but would be inadequate to maintain current levels of coverage and benefits, the budget office concluded.

Based mostly on states pre-Obamacare insurance regulations, the CBO made assumptions about how many would obtain those waivers. The report does not name the states.

One-sixth of Americans reside in states that would likely aggressively deregulate their insurance markets, allowing health insurers to charge higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions who experience a gap in coverage say,from a job loss that lasted more than 63 days. These states also are expected to seek waivers that would eliminate requirements to cover any type of medical care like prescriptions and would add annual and lifetime caps on coverage, according to the budget analysis.

Those state insurance markets would begin to destabilize for people with pre-existing conditions in 2020, the CBO predicted. People whose health status would pass muster with insurers would have access to less costly coverage than today, but those who were ill or had past health problems would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all, the report says.

About one-third of Americans live states that would likely make more modest changes to their insurance rules, such as excluding a few specific benefits that are mandatory under Obamacare or allowing insurers to charge consumers extra for riders to cover those benefits. A maternity coverage rider, for example, might increase premiums by more than $1,000 a month, the CBO estimated. Overall, prices in these states would be lower for younger people than for older ones. Policies in general would require more out-of-pocket spending on things like deductibles and copayments, and the cost of uncovered services would be borne entirely by patients.

For the remaining half of Americans, their states would be expected to retain most of the Affordable Care Acts insurance guarantees for people with pre-existing conditions and its required benefits, like hospitalizations, prescription drugs and maternity care. In those markets, premiums would come down for younger consumers and rise for older ones.

Theres no magic behind the bills effects on the budget deficit. The House approved a measure that would slash federal support for low- and middle-income families to obtain health coverage. Most of the money saved by cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid and hundreds of billions more from financial assistance for those buying private health insurance would be transferred to wealthy households and health care companies in the form of tax cuts, with only a small amount left over for deficit reduction.

The Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obamas signature domestic policy achievement, provides tax credits for private insurance and expanded the Medicaid program, which offers government-sponsored insurance to low-income people.

The Affordable Care Act has also prohibited insurance practices like placing annual or lifetime limits on benefits that made it difficult for people with the most serious medical problems to pay their bills. And, crucially, the law includes an outright prohibition against insurers rejecting people with pre-existing conditions or charging them higher rates than healthy people.

But to finance the coverage expansion, the law raised taxes, predominantly on health care companies and the very wealthy. It also forced some people, particularly those whose relatively good health once gave them access to cheap coverage, to pay substantially higher premiums.

Some of these people have decided not to get insurance altogether, making it harder for insurers to balance their books to the point where many insurers have raised rates considerably or abandoned some local markets entirely. Nevertheless, the new CBO analysis projects that most of these markets would remain stable over time under current law.

Democrats have generally called for bolstering the Affordable Care Act by making tax credits more generous, for example, or using government bargaining power to drive down drug prices while leaving in place the expansions of Medicaid and all the new insurance rules.

Republicans, by contrast, have sought to weaken or eliminate those rules and to ratchet back spending on tax credits and Medicaid all while rolling back Obamacares taxes, giving relief to the corporations and wealthy people who pay them.

The House bill would do that, and now its up to the Senateto consider, modify or rewrite that legislation. Even before the House bill passed, a number of Senate Republicans were raising objections about the number of people who might lose coverage as a result. Nevertheless, the Senate GOP is on track to put together legislation of their own that would massively cut back the Medicaid program and provide far less help for those who buy private insurance.

Republicans face a backlash from some voters for undoing the Affordable Care Acts most popular provisions, and the bill violates Trumps oft-stated promise that he would replace the law with something better that covered everyone with lower premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs.

But Republicans also fear the wrath of their core supporters, who strongly support the GOP keeping its years-old vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Republican leaders in the Senate have said they hope to vote on a bill before adjourning for the August recess.

Just over one-quarter of Americans say they support the House-passed bill, according to aHuffPost/YouGov pollpublished Wednesday. Forty-four percent oppose it, while 31 percent said they were unsure. Views of the Affordable Care Act remain almost evenly divided, but 42 percent said the Republican bill would be worse,while only 23 percent said it would be an improvement.

This article has been updated with additional details, including from the Congressional Budget Office report and the findings of a HuffPost/YouGov survey.

CORRECTION: The CBO predicted that under the House-passed bill, there would be 23 million additional uninsured Americans by 2026, not 2016.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gop-health-care-bill-congressional-budget-office_us_5924e896e4b00c8df29feb68

Deputy, EMTs exposed to opioids get medical treatment

(CNN)A Maryland sheriff’s deputy and two emergency medical technicians received treatment for possible heroin and fentanyl exposure after responding to a drug overdose.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/24/health/maryland-deputy-emts-treated-for-heroin-overdose/index.html

5 Shocking Ways The World Is About To Change

First off, fuck the apocalypse and everybody who predicts it. There’s always an apocalypse somewhere, and our pop culture’s obsession with an America ruined by war/disease/starvation basically boils down to, “Can you imagine if the shit that’s constantly happening in the Third World happened to us?” There’s somebody out there living the social breakdown of The Walking Dead right now. Only instead of zombies, it’s some warlord’s death squads, and a crossbow won’t do shit.

No, this article is about the future, but isn’t about the apocalypse or a dystopia — this isn’t about killer robots (which we already have!) or a looming American police state. You’ve seen all that shit in movies. This is about the super weird changes that are coming in your lifetime that Hollywood doesn’t seem to care about.

Semi-related note: My new novel about cybernetic super-criminals and shit is out right now!

#5. You’ll Eat Bugs (And You’ll Like It)

If you found a cockroach in your cereal, your whole year would be ruined. We have such a physical revulsion to bugs that the above headline probably sounds like a threat: “In the future, food will be so scarce that you’ll scarf down a grasshopper! You know, right after cooking and eating your own diiiiick!”

“I wish my kids were here to witness this, but I ate them out of desperation first.”

But I’ve already told you this isn’t about making you afraid of a nightmare future. I’m saying that bugs will slip seamlessly into our diets the same way high fructose corn syrup did, only this time the world will be much better for it. I’m going to prove it to you in five steps. Ready?

A) You already eat bugs; you just don’t know it. The strawberry flavoring in your milkshake/yogurt/smoothie contains crushed insects — specifically this guy, the Dactylopius coccus:

It’s a type of beetle that creates a nice red dye when ground up, and food companies have been using it as a natural food coloring for as long as anybody can remember (note: If you see “cochineal” on the label, that’s ground-up beetle). You didn’t mind, because you didn’t know it was there. And in the future they’ll come up with some other name for the ground-up cricket meat in your burger. See, that’s the thing — when I said “eating bugs” earlier, you imagined shoving a writhing praying mantis into your mouth. But you wouldn’t eat a chicken that way — there’s a bunch of shit they do to it at the factory first. It’ll be fine. “But,” you say, “anyone would puke the moment they saw the cockroach farm where their ‘food’ is being grown!” To which I respond: Ever been inside a slaughterhouse?

B) It’s the only way to feed the world meat without permanently ruining the environment. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but bugs seriously don’t give a shit — they can pretty much live anywhere and eat anything. They breed like crazy even when we’re desperately trying to kill them. So, with the same amount of resources, insects will produce about 800 percent more meat than beef and generate a fraction of the greenhouse gases. It doesn’t seem like there’s much “meat” on an insect, but for instance 80 percent of a grasshopper is edible as opposed to only 40 percent of a cow. They’re boneless!

And they go great in pie.

C) They’re healthier to eat. Per calorie, a cricket has 40 percent more protein than beef and 40 percent less fat. Your rebuttal is probably, “But what does that matter if it tastes like shit? Or rather, tastes like a bug, since most people would rather eat shit than a cricket?” But consider that …

D) About 2 billion people already happily eat insects. In Mexico, the only reason they don’t eat more grasshoppers (chapulines) is because they can’t afford them — demand is so high that grasshoppers cost more than beef or pork. They’re trying to scale up production as we speak (right now they don’t farm the insects so much as try to go out and catch them — you can imagine what a pain in the ass that is, people running round with nets and shit).

E) Visceral disgust is something humans get over pretty easily. Remember that these huge, disgusting insect-like monsters …

… used to be so revolting to people that they were fed to the poor and prisoners. Lobsters used to wash up on the beaches in big, gross, smelly heaps, the giant, red, mutant cockroaches of the ocean. Now you’ll pay $40 for that ugly bastard. This:

Is meat stuffed into a tube that used to be filled with a pig’s actual shit. And it’s fine; we rinse it out and stuff it full of ground-up entrails and spices and eat it in the parking lot of a football stadium. Someday, you’ll just as happily eat a sausage made of mealworms. I think 80 percent of you don’t believe me (I actually left the bug-eating bit out of my book because I thought readers would immediately treat it as a horror novel) and that’s fine — if you can’t get over it, your kids and grandkids will. That’s because humans adapt. That’s what we’re good at.

#4. At Some Point, Lying Will Become Impossible

I have a question for any children who might be reading this: Do you still have that “Liar Kid” at your school? I and everyone I know had at least one in our class, the kid who’d just make up grandiose bullshit for no purpose. He’d claim he found a shark swimming in the creek near his house, or that his uncle was a stunt man who played the yellow Power Ranger — just a font of name-drops and fascinating anecdotes, all of which were pulled straight out of his asshole.

I ask because, well, how can that kid exist today? A trip to Google on your iPhone would disprove all of those things in five seconds.

“OK, you say your dad beat up Steven Seagal at a club in Bangkok? What was the exact date?
I’m just going to check to see if he was in the country at the time.”

It’s a whole personality type that would presumably be put out of business by modern technology. You know, the same as how the sleazy used car salesman is facing extinction for the same reason — anyone with an Internet connection can find out what a car is actually worth. So who else is about to see their dishonest house of cards come tumbling down?

How about sex offenders? Or just the dude who goes on vacation and hits the clubs pretending he doesn’t have a wife and three kids back home? Sure, right now it might be considered rude to do a background check on a dude while he’s sitting on the next bar stool offering you a ride on his yacht, but soon all of that will be done automatically, on the fly. Google Glass failed because it looked stupid and didn’t work, but the general concept — the ability to instantly make key information pop up right in front of your eyeball — is inevitable. Facial recognition will scan everyone you encounter, a little pop-up box letting you know that dude not only isn’t an Internet millionaire but is a fugitive known to the police as “The Key West Disemboweler.” If a search doesn’t raise any red flags but he still seems generally dishonest, that’s OK — they’ll have software that will watch his facial movements and tone of voice to see if he’s telling the truth.

Now let’s pause for a moment to appreciate how that little advancement will utterly change interpersonal relations in a way that’s almost too profound to comprehend.

“Now, when you say the porn on your computer must have been ‘put there by a hacker’ …”

I mean, I don’t know if you’ve really stopped to think about it, but lies are kind of what make civilization possible. Try to get through just one day without A) lying or B) intentionally withholding information and/or spinning the truth — see how long it takes you to ruin every relationship in your life. “Honey, you said you liked your Christmas present, but TruthApp says your eye movements indicate a 99.96 percent chance of falsehood. Now tell me you love me; I want to watch your face this time …” Oh, and just wait until your kids are old enough to use it, and ask you which child is your favorite.

Some of you have already lived long enough to see how, for instance, it’s gotten way harder to lie at work. If you’re a professional driver, you don’t stop at a bar on the way and claim you got stuck in traffic — they’re using GPS to track your vehicle and (if you have a company-issued phone in your pocket) your body at all times. Work at a warehouse and miss your quota for the day, don’t bother claiming you got sidetracked by another project or had “equipment problems” — they’re literally tracking your every footstep; they know you’re dragging your ass. Some companies have developed sensors for employees that “identify a person’s tone of voice, movement, and even their posture when communicating with others.” Awesome! You’ve never gotten angry at a co-worker, right? Or gossiped behind someone’s back?

“Hi, Janet! When you get a chance would you kindly take a moment
to eat my shit? Thanks!”

Of course, that’s not even mentioning the obvious: cameras, cameras everywhere. It’s legal for companies to record you everywhere but in the bathroom, and the law isn’t even completely settled on that. And don’t bother lying about what you did away from work, either; Facebook has developed software that can search every photo on the Internet for your face. “Steve, it’s come to corporate’s attention that you were at a party this weekend in which drugs were being consumed. As you can see, you’re plainly visible in the background of this Instagram photo here, between the man with the bong and the chimpanzee wearing a bra. Now, as you know, the company has strict policies about employee conduct when in public …”

Yeah, those last two words are going to come up a lot — your concept of what counts as “in public” is going to change radically over the next couple decades. But that just brings us to the fact that …

#3. Your Genitals Will Be For Public Consumption

And I don’t mean this in a good way. Regular readers know that I had a nude video leak to celebrity site TMZ, who has yet to publish it even though I’ve continued to “leak” it to them over email every few days since June. I’ve just decided that this is where the world is going, so I need to get ahead of it.

After all, these days when an Internet privacy issue surfaces, it’s met mostly with a few alarmist blog posts and then a collective yawn — like when it came out that Windows 10 literally logs your every keystroke and sends the data back to headquarters. “Eh, I’m sure it’ll be fine.” The only way these breaches make headlines is if they include A) photos/video of a famous naked person or B) a famous person saying something racist.

And when nude photos of a bunch of celebrities leaked recently, it was interesting to see the sharp divide in the reactions. Anyone older than, say, 25 seemed to be in disbelief that these people would have ever taken a naked photo of themselves, on any device, ever. Among those younger than 25, well, somewhere between 70 percent and 90 percent have themselves sent a lewd photo or message of some kind. In just a few years that practice went from “Clearly the work of a depraved exhibitionist who needs some kind of therapy” to “Standard rule of dating for everyone but prudish weirdos.” That means that at some point we will hit what experts don’t call the Dick Pic Singularity: the point at which everyone will have nude photos or video of themselves on the Internet, and it just won’t be seen as a big deal. We will all be nudists.

Are you repulsed by that? As repulsed as you were by the concept of eating bugs earlier? Because it’s the same deal — either you’ll get over it or your kids will.

“Huh, back in his day Grandpa was quite the fuckboi.”

I can tell you firsthand that I’ve seen just as big a change in my lifetime. I grew up way back in the day when your teenage poetry, gossip, and horrible thoughts went in a locked diary that you kept hidden under your mattress. These days, it goes on Tumblr or YouTube for 3 billion Internet users to view if they so desire. Growing up, I was trained to be self-conscious on camera; today, my computer, phone, and television all have cameras that watch me back while I use them. We’re all “in public,” all the time, and that’s just the way it is.

And you know how they’re pushing to put body cameras on police, to make sure they’re not shooting dudes just for the hell of it? Don’t be surprised when they put body cameras on servers at restaurants, to make sure they’re being polite to customers, and soon after that, body cameras on everyone. In that book that I keep linking to, I speculate that these will become standard, everyday gear, not because some oppressive government is making us but because we want to. Just, stream it all — stream everything. Whatever need for privacy we once had, we’ve decided the need for the approval of an audience is greater.

“I’m leaving you. It’s not you or me; my viewers just think you’re boring.”

So, these days when somebody gets fired because they were secretly recorded saying something awful in the privacy of their own home (as Hulk Hogan was), we don’t worry about the “secret recording” aspect at all. “Hey, if they didn’t want their employer hearing them say it, then they shouldn’t have said it! Even in private, at home!” But are you sure you want that to be the rule, that everything you do is for public consumption? If you’re reading this as a defense of telling racist jokes, let me ask you:

Do you like your job?

If not, do you ever vent about it?

Because you can say goodbye to that — no employer is going to keep you on the payroll if you complain about what a shitty company it is in public (where “in public” now means “in your own home, near a microphone you didn’t know was recording”). Now think about the secretly atheist kid in a religious family who now has to self-censor every conversation for fear of it getting out. Or the closeted gay/trans teenager, or the secret revolutionary in an iron-fisted dictatorship. Even if you rid your own life of cameras and microphones (which itself will tag you as a reclusive weirdo), you’ll be surrounded by strangers who have their own.

And if you complain about how back in your day kids weren’t obsessed with documenting
their lives, everyone will know.

At my first job out of college, the guideline was, “Never put anything into an email you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times.” You are, they said, creating an electronic record of your words, and the mere existence of that record gives anyone an automatic right to publish it. Well, in an era when every conversation creates an electronic record, you can amend the rule: Instead of, “Never put anything too controversial into an email,” it’ll be, “Never say anything too controversial out loud.” Unless, of course, we stand up and demand the right to not automatically lose our livelihood just because we got upset and said some stupid shit one time.

In other words, this doesn’t have to be part of our future unless we let it. Which just leads me to the fact that …

#2. Our Concept Of Employment Is About To Radically Change

It’s easy to shrug when you see a headline screaming that about half of our current jobs will soon be done by robots, or that there’s a factory in China that needs no workers at all. That whole “robots are taking our jobs!” bit has been around since before they invented robots. In the 1800s they told cautionary tales of a great man made obsolete by a steam engine; today we’re shown videos of hotels staffed by robot dinosaurs:

And yet … the trend is pretty clear.

A hundred years ago, the average American worked about 60 hours a week; it’s about 34 hours now. The percentage of American adults either working or trying to find jobs has been dropping since the ’90s, now matching the lowest point in 40 years, and of the ones who are working, more of them are part-time. So this prediction of a future “job-free” economy isn’t some crazy Nostradamus prophecy, it’s the direction we’ve been heading for a while now — each time there’s an economic crash, the jobs never quite come back to where they were before.

But when/if this jobless future arrives, the problem won’t be the robots taking over (how can it be a bad thing that we’re able to make more stuff with less effort?). No, the issue is how much we humans hate each other.

Spoiler: a lot.

See, the idea is that soon the only jobs left will be the ones that computers can’t do — tasks that take creativity, or people skills, or that are just plain too complicated (it’s actually hard to imagine a robot plumber doing all the steps needed to find and fix a leak inside your wall). So there will be a certain class of people who have those complex skills, and then there will be everyone else (and feel free to speculate on what percentage will be in each group).

Now, it doesn’t make sense that everyone but the most talented will be left to starve (as so many pessimistic articles seem to imply) — the corporations buying those expensive robots need customers to buy the shit they’re making, and the evil billionaires and politicians who run the world need happy consumers. This is where ideas like a guaranteed basic income come into play — basically the government gives everyone a paycheck just for being alive. The idea is that if we don’t need humans to do the work, we do still need them to make and raise children, to not riot in the streets, and to consume things so that the economic Circle of Life keeps running.

They’re going to start opening the stock market by holding out a child, with a dollar sign
drawn on its head, Simba-style.

And at the mere suggestion of that, a whole bunch of you just felt a sense of physical revulsion. “You mean 200 million people will be on welfare?!?” You’ll spit that last word like an accusation, in the same way you’d scream “TRAITOR!” or “WHORE!” That’s because most of us have been raised from birth to hate the able-bodied poor, and I mean Hate with a capital H. To see them as leeches, as a cancer in the system. As thieves. That guaranteed income will be taken out of the pocket of the robot repair guy who still has a job; what is his reaction going to be when he’s walking home, exhausted after a double shift, and sees your jobless ass hanging out at a coffee shop and spending your government check on robot-made Frappuccinos? It doesn’t matter that his job makes him 10 times more than you get, because that doesn’t change the fact that his paycheck would be 50 percent bigger if he wasn’t having to support your lazy ass.

We don’t have to guess his reaction, of course — go to any Fox News comment section. Listen to Mitt Romney.

Unemployment, they say, is immoral. Sinful. Here’s a story about somebody setting a homeless man on fire. Here’s another one. We’re as repulsed by them as we are by, I don’t know, a bug we found in our food or something.

“It’s time we start eating the real insects in our society. Vote for Smith. Vote for cannibalism.”

The cruel irony is that if this automated future comes about, we’ll have all the makings of what sci-fi writers used to describe as a utopia — we’ll be growing the food and building the houses just fine. The obstacle won’t be a lack of resources; the obstacle will be us, and the fact that we have been taught to motivate ourselves with the hatred of the “lazy” lower classes. And when we start kicking them around, what can they do about it? Go on strike? They don’t have jobs. Refuse to buy anything? Then they’ll starve. Riot in the streets? We’ll roll in with tanks. And notice how I’m saying “we” like I won’t be one of the ones left out? How many of you are doing the same thing? No wonder I’m pushing this book shit so hard.

But that just brings me to the final point …

#1. There Will Be A Fundamental Shift In Power — We Just Have To Decide What It Looks Like

Raise your hand if you rent your home, rather than own it. Now raise your other hand if your landlord has ever done something that would get a person fucking shot if they’d done it to a homeowner — like let themselves in to check your fire alarm while you were asleep in the next room. There is a fundamental difference in power between renting and owning — “your” home is literally not yours. They decide if you have a pet, or smoke, or repaint the place. Oh, and guess what — home-ownership is at its lowest point in half a century. Everything is heading that direction — the entire concept of owning things is slowly going away. This is a bigger deal than you think.

You gamers out there already know what I’m talking about; once upon a time you would go to the store and buy a physical object called a video game, which you fully owned, forever, to do with as you pleased. Now, you’re just renting, regardless of what they call it. A few years ago a Steam user found this out the hard way when Valve banned him from using any of the 250 games on his own computer due to a misunderstanding that was eventually cleared up. I bet until that day he actually thought those were “his” games. Today, more and more non-game software is being sold via a monthly subscription so that you lose access to it the moment you stop paying.

“Look who’s come crawling back” -MS Paint when your Adobe subscription starts to equal your rent

Meanwhile, the biggest competitor to Ford and Toyota isn’t Tesla — it’s Uber — the future will most likely be a swarm of cars, all networked together, probably driverless, conveniently picking you up and dropping you off on command. No need for you to get a car loan or pay for gas and repairs (renting is always more convenient than buying). And then one day, when you’re running late for work, you’re going to try to order a ride on your phone and the app will tell you that you’ve been banned from Uber. And only then will you realize that, as in all of the above situations, you traded power for convenience.

I mean, what’s to stop them from shutting you out if, say, you were heard insulting the company in public? They can just add it to the terms of service you didn’t read before tapping the “Accept” button. You know, the same as how PayPal can freeze access to your own money if they think you’ve broken their terms of service and can lock out your access to your money for six months while they investigate.

“It’s cool; I’ll just tell my colon cancer to chill.”

“So? I’ll just use some other company!” Well, here’s the thing: For whatever reason, this new economy seems to favor monopolies. Amazon dwarfs the next biggest e-commerce site, and can you even name an auction site other than eBay? When’s the last time you used a search engine other than Google? PayPal is 80 percent of the online payment market; Steam utterly dominates PC game sales

That means we’re heading toward a future in which you rent the things you have to have, from the only game in town. The future is Comcast.

Now think about the entry above, about the jobs. Having your own unique skill and source of income also comes with power; you have something the world needs, and as long as you do, you “own” your livelihood. But if the government is simply giving you a check, then you are at their mercy — like how they’re constantly threatening to cut off welfare recipients for doing drugs. Now you’re “renting” — you can find yourself completely locked out of the system because you violated somebody’s terms of service. So you’d better damned well fall in line. You will make that power-for-convenience trade until your life is full of convenience and devoid of power. It will be very nice and comfortable, right up until you do something They don’t like.

“That’s the last time QueefMaster420 calls my company Fartcast.”

Now, I wasn’t lying when I said this article wouldn’t be scare-mongering about a coming dystopia. That’s because it doesn’t have to happen. We will have to reclaim that power. I’m not talking about quitting society to go live in the wilderness or forming mobs to burn down the banks. We will instead have to come together as a people and guarantee the fundamental rights of even the most unprofitable human beings. Getting over our distaste of those outside the economy will be no different from getting over our distaste of bugs — we’ll do it because it’s what we need to do, as most of us will eventually be in that same bug-eating boat.

We won’t let our own pettiness destroy society. I’m … almost sure of it.

Uh, right?


Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-shocking-ways-world-about-to-change/

A hedge fund at Emerging Sovereign Group that has bet against the Chinese economy sunk about 62 percent this year through April.

The Nexus fund dropped 8.2 percent last month, according to an email to investors seen by Bloomberg News. The April results mark at least the third consecutive month of negative returns for the fund.

China bears have suffered as economic growth accelerated in the first quarter and officials have been guiding the yuan higher against the dollar in a move that’s caught market watchers by surprise. The Nexus fund gained 35 percent in 2015, profiting from moves by China’s central bank to devalue the yuan by the most since 1994. But the fund has underpeformed since 2016 when it dropped 15.5 percent, Bloomberg has reported.

ESG is run by co-founders Kevin Kenny, Mete Tuncel and Jason Kirschner, who bought out Carlyle Group LP’s 55 percent stake and took full control of the firm in October. Most of the assets at ESG, which managed $3.5 billion as of December, are in two of its other funds.

A spokesman for New York-based ESG, which started in 2002 with seed capital from Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management, declined to comment. 

Puerto Rico Winner

Candlewood Investment Group’s Puerto Rico SP fund gained 5.7 percent in the first two weeks of May, bringing year-to-date returns to 9.4 percent, according to an investor update seen by Bloomberg. The $105 million fund targets securities including general-obligation bonds, or GOs, and other opportunistic areas within the Puerto Rico municipal bond market. Puerto Rico declared a form of bankruptcy in May.

"There have been several recent events which we believe confirm our investment positioning and thesis," the $1.2 billion firm said in a separate letter for April. "The most notable was the Commonwealth’s restructuring proposal which clearly prioritized GO and GO guaranteed debt above other bondholders."

Michael Ardisson, partner and director of business development at Candlewood, declined to comment.

Millennium Underwhelms

Millennium Management’s main fund has been posting middling results this year along with its multistrategy peers. The Millennium International fund returned 0.3 percent in April to bring returns for the first four months of the year to an estimated 2.5 percent, according to an investor update seen by Bloomberg.

Hedge Fund Research Inc.’s multistrategy index rose about 2 percent in that time, as did hedge funds on average.

The largest driver of the Millennium fund’s performance last month was the relative value fundamental equity strategy, which gained 0.2 percent on the strength of the technology, financials and health-care sectors, the update shows. A spokeswoman for the $35 billion firm run by Izzy Englander declined to comment.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-23/esg-china-fund-drops-62-as-candlewood-puerto-rico-pool-jumps-9

It Doesn’t Sound Like Senate Republicans Are Anywhere Close To A Deal On Obamacare Repeal

WASHINGTON It took the House months of infighting and a failed first attempt to ultimately pass a bill torepeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. More than two weeks later, Senate Republicans are nowhere near reaching an agreement on a bill of their own.

As scandal after scandal piled up for the Trump administration last week, Republicans were given some cover. Rather than being flooded with questions as they exited multiple meetings about their own disagreements on how to repeal and replace Obamacare, they were asked about the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the investigation into Russias meddling in the presidential campaign.

But even with some of the pressure off, they appear to have made only a little headway enough to identify the key issues dividing them but not to make much progress on resolving those differences.

A substantial number of Senate Republicans have made it clear they cannot vote for the House bill, which would reduce regulations on health insurance, rearrange tax credits for people buying health insurance and dramatically cut funding for Medicaid leaving many millions of Americans without health insurance while exposing older, sicker people to some combination of higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

The Medicaid cut is a big sticking point for senators from states such as Ohio and West Virginia that have expanded the program and have come to rely on it to finance treatment amid an opioid addiction epidemic.

Asked if she still had concerns about the health care talks, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said her problems havent changed from weeks ago when the House passed its bill.

Well, still the Medicaid expansion piece, and whether the tax credits are sufficient at the lower end, she said, referring to credits afforded to older Americans who face higher premiums under the House bill. Those are the two biggest.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) backed up Capitos complaints and added that the House billgoes too far in not protecting communities reeling from the opioid epidemic. Still, Portman wouldnt offer details on where talks are headed.

And scaling back the Medicaid cuts or bolstering tax credits for older consumers a priority for many GOP senators costs money. And the Republicans dont have a lot of money at their disposal.

Under the rules of the budget reconciliation process a procedural mechanism Republicans are using to avoid a Democratic filibuster the Senates bill cant increase the deficit. The only way to free up money would be to keep more of Obamacares taxes in place and doing that risks losing the support of more conservative members who, all things being equal, would rather the Senate bill look more like the House bill, not less.

The parliamentary math for GOP leaders is difficult. Even under reconciliation rules, which allow Republicans to pass legislation with just 50 votes assuming Vice President Mike Pence breaks the tie, leadership can afford to lose only two members. And there are plenty more than two members who seem convinced the Senate is far from agreeing on anything.

Asked to share what major sticking points are holding up the talks, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) laughed and said: Where do I start?

Its totally fluid. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on the health care talks

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told HuffPost he isnt even sure where negotiations are headed.

Its totally fluid, he said, adding that he has no clue when the Senate would even be ready to bring a bill to the floor.

Im not ducking. I just cant answer it, Cassidy said. I dont know.

And the current disagreements among Republicans could only become worse once the Congressional Budget Office releases its projection on the effects of the House bill.

The CBO score, which is expected Wednesday, is very important, Cassidy said. He stressed that it will help inform policy decisions facing Republicans in the Senate, and he appeared hopeful that it would steer his colleagues away from the House bill.

Theres still some idea that we might use the House plan as a basis for which to proceed, he said.

Of course, the prospects for getting a repeal bill through the House looked bleak until it didnt. After House leaders pulled the bill in March because it didnt have the votes, senior members began negotiating quietly on their own until theyd worked out a deal capable of just barely getting enough votes to pass.

It looks as if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is trying to do the same thing by having his caucus work out a deal behind closed doors and then bring it to the floor right when he is within striking distance of a majority. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is among the senators whoarent happy about the process. On Tuesday, that irritation came to a boiling point for him.

Its a very awkward process, at best, Corker said. There are no experts. Theres no actuarials. Typically, in a hearing, youd have people coming in, and youd also have the media opining about if a hearing took place and X came in and made comments.

Later Corker called the entire saga very difficult at best, adding that theres been a lot of progress in understanding the problems senators have with the House bill, and between each other, but theres no bill written.

But leadership hasnt indicated a desire to move negotiations out into the open, and its not so hard to imagine how, eventually, they could work out a deal that would get them close to the 50 votes they need while still keeping the guts of the House plan and its dramatic effects on insurance coverage.

Leaders might try to win over holdouts like Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who has said she wants to protect her states Medicaid population, by offering extra money for Alaska much as Democrats in 2009 used special funding for Nebraska to bring along then-Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) in what became known as the Cornhusker Kickback. Maybe they could win over Capito and Portman with extra money for opioid treatment as a way to replace a little bit of the money their states would lose from Medicaid.

On the Medicaid expansion front, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) offered some insight into where the talks are at, saying theres an interest among many Republicans to have a longer tail on [repeal] phase-out. Under the House bill, the extra federal funds for Medicaid expansion would phase out starting in 2020.Senate Republicans could push back that date or find some other way to make the transition more gradual, although, notably, the debate seems to be over when and not whether to end federal funding for the expansion.

Theres also the issue of pre-existing conditions and the tax credits, which are sticking points for Thune himself.

Weve had a lot of members whove made statements and are very committed to having a solution in place for pre-existing conditions. There are just a lot of ideas about how to do it, Thune said.

And the tax credits are a work in progress, Thune said. A big concern there, he said, is that the House bill unlike the Affordable Care Act doesnt tailor the tax credits to income, making it a lot harder for the poor and even some middle-class consumers to afford coverage.

A lot depends on whether external political events, like the upcoming special House elections in Georgia and Montana, change the political calculus of Republicans so many of whom seem convinced that the political cost of doing nothing is worse than the political cost of doing something that appears to be highly unpopular.

About the only sure thing seems to be that neither GOP leaders nor members want to be dealing with health care forever. They continue to say they would like a vote no later than the August recess, even though the possibility of reaching a deal by then seems highly uncertain.

As Thune put it, At some point we need to vote, and so that day of reckoning will come.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/senate-republicans-health-care-repeal_us_5924b986e4b00c8df29fd656

Trump Threatened To Let Obamacare ‘Implode.’ That’s One Promise He’s Keeping.

President Donald Trump has been telling us all along that he believes his best course politically is to do what he can to ensure that Obamacare breaks. What you may not have noticed is that hes actually been executing that plan.

The Affordable Care Act has had its share of problems, some them serious like health insurance premiums that middle-class families cant afford, and swaths of the country with little to no competition among insurers.

Since the beginning of the year, the actions of Trump and his team have exacerbated those problems. And unless they start doing something different, much of what some consumers dont like about Obamacare is going to be even worse next year.

Premiums will be higher than they would have been. Fewer insurance companies will sell policies to people who buy their coverage directly or through an exchange like HealthCare.gov (as opposed to people who get health benefits at work or from a government program like Medicare or Medicaid).

We could see less progress in covering the uninsured, or possibly even some areas of the country could see increases in the uninsured rate with people being priced out, said Cynthia Cox, an associate director at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

And this is only tangentially related to the push from Trump and the Republican-led Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a new bill that would covermillions fewer Americans, weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions and severely cut back on aid for low-income households.

When Trump became president, he took stewardship of the federal government and all the programs it runs. When it came to the Affordable Care Act a law the GOP has vowed to kill for over seven years Trump faced a choice: Manage it as best as he could while Congress debated what would come after it, or deliberately mismanage it. He has chosen the latter.

This all fits a pattern dating back to the ACAs enactmentin 2010.

Republicans in 19 states have refused to expand Medicaid, leaving millions uninsured. GOP-led states put roadblocks in front of insurance enrollment counselors tasked with assisting people shopping for coverage. The Republican Congress cut funding for insurance companies that greatly contributed to their financial difficulties with the exchanges, and to the closure of many nonprofit co-op insurers created under the law. And Republicans have led or championed a slew of legal challenges to the law, including two cases that went to the Supreme Court and a cost-sharing lawsuit still causing uncertainty.

Rather than take steps to mitigate premium increases and insurers exiting the exchanges, Trump and the GOP have cheered them along. Rather than reassure insurance companies that the federal government will honor its agreements with them, Trump is going out of his way to make them believe it wont. Rather than consider the millions of people who rely on this coverage, Trump declares Obamacare dead and washes his hands of it.

Governors, state insurance regulators, insurance companies, health care providers and the business community are pleading with the Trump administration (and Congress) to provide some clarity about whats going to happen next year. They arent getting it. State insurance commissioners and companies are saying they dont even know who to talk to, and cant get straight answers from anyone in the administration.

Health insurance companies have already started hitting deadlines with state governmentsto state their intentions for next year about whether theyll participate in these markets and how much theyll charge.

More deadlines are looming in the coming weeks with state and federal regulators. Unless Trump changes course, its looking more and more likely that everyone will assume the worst, and either abandon the health insurance exchanges orjack up prices even more to protect themselves.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters
Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price testifies at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 29, 2017.

Trump told us he was going to do this

Trump warned everyone about this. At a January news conference nine days before his inauguration, Trump articulated his thinking on this very clearly. Standing by and doing nothing to make the health insurance exchanges function better would help him politically, in his view, because Democrats many of whom were actually concerned about the welfare of people covered under the Affordable Care Act would flock to him and agree to his plan to repeal the law.

The easiest thing would be to let it implode in 17, Trump said at the time. They would come, begging to us please, we have to do something about Obamacare.

When the House failed at its first attempt to pass a health care reform bill in March, Trump talked about this some more. Ive been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode, he said.

Statements like these are echoed by GOPlawmakers, and by the two officials chiefly in charge of Affordable Care Act programs Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma. It therefore seems clear that the political leaders of the health care bureaucracy arent spending a lot of time worrying about the Obamacare marketplaces or the people currently using them to get covered.

The damage done

Actions, of course, speak louder than words, and the Trump administrations actions have caused real harm to this part of the health insurance system. The reckoning will come in autumn, when consumers set out to shop for next years policies.

On his first day as president, Trump issued an executive order instructing the agencies responsible for the Affordable Care Act to relax regulations and enforcement of its rules.

The IRS responded by announcing it wouldnt reject tax returns that left the part about health coverage a key enforcement mechanism for the laws individual mandate blank. That was merely a continuation of the agencys previous policy, which the IRS had planned to change this year. But it signaled to insurers, tax preparers and consumers that Trump wouldnt enforce the mandate, which functions as a way to nudge healthy people into the insurance pool lest they pay a fine for being uninsured.

Most of our CEOs and plans, based on communication from the IRS, are doubtful about enforcement, said Ceci Connolly, CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, a trade group representing insurers including Kaiser Permanente and Geisinger Health Plan.

Also in January, the administration canceled advertising intended to promote the end of the sign-up period on the health insurance exchanges, for which President Barack Obamas administration had already paid. When the final enrollment numbers came in, they were lower than for 2016, an outcome partially attributable to lost sign-ups during the final days, which had proved busier during the first three annual enrollment campaigns.

Most damaging has been Trumps cavalier attitude toward paying health insurance companies that serve the lowest-income exchange customers money theyre owed. Anthem, a big Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer with a major presence on the exchanges, has said it plans to keep selling policies on these marketplaces unless these payments go away, which could make the company reconsider.

Raymond Boyd via Getty Images
The Blue Cross Blue Shield building in Detroit, on July 21, 2012.

We remain pretty confused as to what the administrations position on cost-sharing reductions is, exactly, Connolly said. The messages have been so radically different from day to day and hour to hour that its nearly impossible for any responsible business to make plans for the future based on the commentary.

Because of a lawsuit that House Republicans brought in 2014 and won in lower court last year against the Obama administration, Trump has the powerto unilaterally make or refuse to make these payments, which totaled $7 billion in 2016. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers must reduce out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and copayments for poor enrollees, and the federal government is supposed to reimburse them for the expense. Almost 60 percent of exchange customers, or about 7 million people, qualified for these cost-sharing reductions this year.

So far, Trump has kept the money flowing but he keeps threatening not to. And even though Trump and House Republicans requested a delay in the lawsuit proceedings from a federal appeals court Monday instead of agreeing to halt the payments, all this uncertainty is making health insurance companies very nervous. Theres a good chance that will lead them to price next years coverage under the assumption they wont get paid for the cost-sharing reductions.

Health plans in the rest of the nation are sitting on edge of their seats waiting to see what the federal government is going to do, said Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, the Golden States health insurance exchange. A decision [to stop paying] CSRs is an early indicator that the federal government is maybe ready to walk away from the individual markets.

Amid all this, the administration has taken a few positive steps with respect to the exchanges, such as issuing an insurer-friendly regulation that, among other things, make it harder for consumers to cancel insurance policies right after receiving costly treatments. But those efforts havent balanced out the administrations other actions, and have even contributed to the confusion about how Trump and his team will run these programs.

Obamacare versus Trumpcare

Whatever Trumps actions and statements, the health insurance exchanges struggled before he took office. Rate increases for 2017 were substantial. Analyses from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Standard & Poors, the Congressional Budget Office and others have concluded the financial performance of these marketplaces and the insurers that use them are improving this year, in part because insurers have priced their policies more in line with their customers medical costs.

On Tuesday, for example, Health Care Service Corp., which runs Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in five states, announced it had reversed its losses on the exchange markets andearned a profit during the first quarter of this year.

The messages have been so radically different from day to day and hour to hour that its nearly impossible for any responsible business to make plans for the future based on the commentary. Ceci Connolly, CEO, Alliance of Community Health Plans

Theres a bit of irony here in that the individual market was starting to stabilize, Connolly said, even though it remains far from perfect.

Insurers in some regionsare still losing money and fleeing the markets, and more premium increases would have arrived next year, regardless. The question is, how much of this is attributable to Obamacares lingering problems and how much is because of the way Trump has overseen it (or failed to)?

We dont know what the premium increases wouldve been in Earth 2, Cox said. But it seems fair to say that some portion of these premium increases and some portion of the insurers decision to leave is because of the uncertainty theyre facing for next year.

Accurately quantifying what share of rate hikes is because of the law itself, and what share is because of Trump, would be hard, if not outright impossible.

But one at least one insurance company tried. CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield asked Maryland regulators for a huge average premium increase next year 52 percent and said 15 percentage points of that is related to fear that Trump wont make the cost-sharing reduction payments. In other words, what was going to be bad will probably be worse as a direct result of the administrations posture.

Most premiums wont go up as high as CareFirst is requesting and its a good bet Maryland will squeeze the company to accept less.

But considering just the cost-sharing reduction payments issue, the Kaiser Family Foundation projects that would force insurers to raise premiums by an average of 19 percent above and beyond what they wouldve done next year if Trump stops reimbursing them.

And, ironically, ending the payments would increase total federal spending, because the higher insurance prices would entitle qualified consumers to larger tax credits to defray their monthly premiums, the foundation also found.

Not too late

Theres still time, although not much, for Trump or even Congress to intervene and reassure health insurance companies and consumers that the federal government will resume active stewardship of the exchanges.

It can still be salvaged, said Christina Pearson, a senior vice president at the consulting firm Avalere Health.

Making clear that the cost-sharing reduction payments will be made through the end of next year, and that the IRS will enforce the individual mandate, would go a long way toward making 2018 better for insurance companies and their customers.

But if Trump doesnt change his mind about all this, it will lead to to a health insurance market that simply doesnt work as well as it could. And that will be a result of the administration caring more about highlighting the markets failures than trying to make it as good as possible for the millions of people who use it.

The consequences, Cox said, are straightforward: We could see less progress in covering the uninsured, or possibly even some areas of the country could see increases in the uninsured rate with people being priced out.

Jonathan Cohn contributed reporting.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-obamacare-implode_us_5924494ae4b03b485cb53746

Trump’s budget: major slashes to social programs but $1.6bn for the wall

Millions of people stand to lose Medicaid access, alongside cuts to welfare and food stamps, under a proposed budget that still has numerous hurdles to jump

Donald Trump will embrace hardline right-wing economics on Tuesday with a budget that proposes swingeing cuts to social safety net programmes while allocating $1.6bn to a border wall.

Millions of people would lose access to Medicaid, the government insurance programme for the poorest and many disabled Americans. Food stamps for people on low incomes would be cut over the next 10 years under the White House plan and the families of undocumented workers would be frozen out of key tax breaks.

We are no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programmes or the number of people on those programmes, budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters. Were going to measure compassion and success by the number of people we help get off of those programmes to get back in charge of their own lives. Were not going to measure our success by how much money we spend but by how many people we actually help.

The Trump blueprint is unlikely to become law because it will face opposition from both moderate Republicans and Democrats worried about its social impact and from fiscal conservatives who fear it will increase the deficit.

Chuck Schumer, Democratic minority leader in the Senate, condemned the proposed cuts to Medicaid. This would pull the rug out from so many Americans who need help: those suffering from opioid and heroin addiction, people in nursing homes and their families who care for them, the elderly, the disabled, and children, he said on the Senate floor.
Medicaid helps not only the poor but increasingly the middle class, as well as 1.75m veterans, Schumer added. Heres what candidate Trump said when he campaigned: Im not going to cut social security like every other Republican and Im not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid. He promised he would help take care of those suffering from opioid addiction. If it cuts Medicaid, hes breaking that promise right in half.

Economic experts were also quick to dismiss Mulvaneys claims that Trumps tax plans and budget would boost economic growth to 3%, balancing the federal budget within a decade.

Although Trump is an unconventional president, the budget shares much with the conservative orthodoxy of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. It is entitled A New Foundation for American Greatness and Mulvaney said if he had a subtitle it would be, The taxpayer first budget.

Budget director Mick Mulvaney. We need everybody to pull in the same direction. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Cuts to Medicaid over the next decade exceed even the more than the $800bn reductions contained in a health bill passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month.

The president also aims to slash welfare by $274bn over a decade, including $193bn on food stamps, driving millions of people off the programme. This would be several times bigger than cuts attempted by House Republicans in the past. The number of people claiming food stamps spiked to 47m people at the height of the 2007-08 recession and had not come down as expected, still totalling 44m people, Mulvaney said, despite near full employment in the US.

Some $72bn over 10 years would come from social securitys disability insurance programme, including $50bn in savings which would be achieved by helping recipients get off the programme and find a job.

Mulvaney continued: If youre on food stamps and youre able bodied, we need you to go to work. If youre on disability insurance and youre not supposed to be, if youre not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work.

He added: Theres a dignity to work and theres a necessity to work to help the country and succeed and we need everybody to pull in the same direction.

The Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Credit would be limited to those who are authorised to work in the US. They would be required to show proof of a social security number a move that would have a negative impact on children who are US citizens but whose parents are undocumented.

I could ask you for your money I think, in good faith and good conscience, and say, Look, I need to take some of your money and give it to this family, who deserves the Child Tax Credit, but I cant do it to give the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is designed to help folks who work, to give it somebody whos in the country and working illegally. Its just not fair. Its not right when you look at it through the perspective of the people paying the taxes.

Trump would also reduce federal employee pensions and farm subsidies while keeping campaign pledges to leave core Medicare and social security benefits for the elderly untouched.

He also promised a groundbreaking proposal to provide six weeks of paid family leave to new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents, championed by Trumps daughter, Ivanka, and costing $25bn over 10 years.

Mulvaney confirmed that the budget plan defunds Planned Parenthood, on the premise that the American Health Care Act will become law, and winds down the support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which feeds the money to outlets such as the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio.

The blueprint also shaves 31.4% off funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and 29.1% off that for the state department and other international programmes.

The cuts to domestic spending would be redirected to the US military, law enforcement and supporting veterans. It allocates $2.6bn to border security, including $1.6bn for the bricks and mortar construction of a wall on the Mexican border, with the remaining $1m allotted to technology and infrastructure.

But the plan a wish list to fund the Trump agenda faces numerous hurdles. The healthcare bill is likely to undergo significant changes in the Senate while a rewrite of the tax code only has a broad outline so far. It also makes assumptions about growth.

People protest the Trump administrations bid to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Photograph: David Mcnew/AFP/Getty Images

Mulvaney said Trumps package of spending cuts and tax breaks would boost the USs economys growth rate to 3% over the next decade, a considerable increase from the 1.9% forecast under current policy by the Congressional Budget Office.

The director, due to testify to the House and Senate this week, said: I think what Trumponomics is and what this budget is a part of is an effort to get to sustained 3% economic growth in this country again. I think its sad that the previous administration was willing to admit that we couldnt get better than 1.9% growth over the next 10 years … That assumes a pessimism about America, about the economy, about its people, about its culture that were simply refusing to accept. We believe that we can get to 3% growth.

But economists were skeptical of the claim. Gus Faucher, PNC Financial Services chief economist said US productivity growth had averaged 1.75% over the last 45 years and that the period between the late 1990s and early 2000s when growth topped 3% was the exception. Its asking a lot to expect the exception not the rule, said Faucher.

Marc Goldwein, head of policy at non-partisan thinktank Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said the budgets numbers did not add up. He said Mulvaneys promise of returning to the 3% growth rates were unrealistic at best.

We are not bringing the 90s back, he said. Three percent was normal then because the baby boomers were in their prime and we had a tech boom. Now baby boomers are aging out of the workforce and the tech booms impact has fizzled, Trumps budget would likely add decimal points not percentage points to US growth, he said.

This is like pretending you have won the lottery when all you have is a handful of scratch cards, he said.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/22/donald-trump-budget-proposal-2018-social-care-border-wall

That Crazy Bachelor in Paradise Finale: Nick Viall Is Leader of the Douchepack

Bachelor in Paradise is perfect TV. Like all great shows in 2016, its situated in the former no-mans-land between comedy and drama. Dark comedies like Louie and Transparent have nothing on Bachelor in Paradise, which has been serving up a generous cocktail of alcoholism, antiheroes, depression, and pants-shitting for three impeccable seasons. Theres something uniquely depressing about watching a group of veteran reality TV stars mash up against one anothers private parts in the futile hope that enough friction will spark a genuine human connection. Then again, theres something uniquely hilarious about watching a three-time Bachelor alum like Nick Viall desperately try and convince his TV girlfriend that hes in Paradise for the right reasons (spoiler alert: he isnt).

Tuesday nights Bachelor in Paradise finale more than delivered on this unique brand of humor and heartache. The series is designed around the premise that Paradise is a vaguely Mexican-themed open bar full of semi-familiar folks who might end up marrying each other. But this season of Bachelor in Paradise was particularly pegged to human red flag Chad, a former Bachelorette contestant whos so despicable that he insulted a fellow contestant by mocking her for only having one arm. After soaking himself in booze and lighting the proverbial match on his own Bachelor Nation reputation, Chad proceeded to literally shit himself on the beach. Mind you, this was all in the season premiere.

By lowering the bar for acceptable ABC contentwho knew you could call someone a one-arm bitch on national television?Bachelor in Paradise quickly set the tone for a truly depraved season of happily ever after hunting. And in filling his own bathing suit trunks like he just shotgunned a watercooler of Kardashian-endorsed laxative tea, Chad reminded us all of the raw physicality of Bachelor in Paradise. Unlike its prissy counterparts, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, Paradise isnt afraid to get into the nitty-gritty. We see Lauren H take out her retainer, learn that Jared is into spanking, and watch the taboo, auto-erotic relationship between Nick Viall and his own abs unfurl. And thats not to mention the myriad of probable yeast infections that didnt make it into primetime (theres more than one reason why spending 12-plus hours a day in a moist bikini flirting with a bunch of unemployed commitment-phobes is a bad idea).

Bachelor in Paradise is gross and grotesque; contestants binge on attention, sex, and emotional foreplay, betraying voracious appetites for affection, pizza, and drama. The best Bachelor in Paradise contestants are the franchise stalwarts who know how to make good TV. Theyre also toxic black holes of insatiable neediness and narcissism (I think this is literally Ashley Is Instagram bio). Thats why, for all the addictive drama, Bachelor in Paradise is ultimately oh so predictable. Of course Nick will dump his perfectly nice new girlfriend for another shot at his one true love: B-list celebrity. Of course Ashley I will fall hopelessly in love with Jared because they may have gone to second base. Of course Chad will be back, of course hes not OK. And of course we cant look away.

At the beginning of this weeks finale, Bachelor Nation was faced with four potential couples, each more questionable than the last. As Tulums finest awoke in their fantasy suites, each pair began to wonder if they should really be basing life-changing decisions off of a few drunken weeks in Paradise. It was, literally, a rude awakeningmade even ruder by Evans bedside freestyle rap to his bride-to-be, Carly. Evan is the Tinder match who pulls out his acoustic guitar after you hook up. Carly smiles and insists that shes head over heels in love with Evan because, at this point, whats another deal-breaker?

Meanwhile, in Grant and Laces nearby love shack, Grant feels very weird in a bad way. Hes never loved someone like he loves Lace (erratically and over the course of a televised Mexican vacation), but he thinks that becoming engaged to someone you just met in Tulum might not be the most logical thing to do. Alternatively, Lace thinks that if they dont get engaged now, theyre never going to make it. Strangely enough, in Bachelor world, Grant is actually being the irrational one. Lace knows that if you leave Paradise without a Neil Lane ring on your finger, you must be unlovable (or youre just an identical twin and no one could be bothered to tell you apart from your sister).

Everyone knows that Nick Viall is going to be the next Bachelor. Everyone, that is, except Jen, his Bachelor in Paradise girlfriend, at the time of this finale shooting. Take a shot every time Jen talks about her and Nicks non-existent future together.

The Paradise producers are clearly trying to cast some doubt on Josh and Amandas rock-solid relationship (doubts that Amanda probably should have, but really doesnt). Amanda has never been this happy or content with anything, and is totally ready for her two daughters to call Josh daddythis despite the fact that multiple contestants have tried to warn her about Joshs not so stellar history of verbal abuse. Amanda regales Josh with tales of her babies joining her in bed and waking her up every morning. Josh musters up a weak thats cute, and something dies in his eyes as he realizes that real life, unlike Paradise, isnt all mandatory sex suites and unlimited margaritas. Josh thinks that he and Amanda are taking things really fast, and once again observes that Amanda has two children. For Josh, this constitutes an entire thought.

This episode is as briskly paced as these roided up relationships. Now its time for the menfolk to meet with Neil Lane and pick out their engagement rings. These meetings are interwoven with shots of the remaining contestants talking solitary walks along the water, surveying Mexicos flora and fauna with their best R&B album cover expressions on. Neil greets Nick with a cheeky, How many times am I going to see you again?its the episodes first reference to Vialls upcoming Bachelor gig, but certainly not the last.

Ice in hand, Evan nabs the coveted first proposal spot. As Carly approaches the guy she finally agreed to sleep with, she tells the audience that, I love that man like Ive never loved anyone. She cant picture life without him, and luckily, she doesnt have toEvan is whipped AF. He describes their relationship as nothing short of epic, citing their hospital visit as the turning point in their epic love affair. Imma let you finish, Evan, but can we just check the receipts on this one? Evan is referring to the time when he guilted Carly into hanging out with him under the guise of a mysterious ankle malady. This isnt the first instance of Evan faking an illness in order to get Carlys attention, but it is the moment when she finally realized that their relationship would probably be less painful if she didnt struggle so much.

It was only a matter of time before Carlys pity hardened into begrudging affection, and Evan got down on one knee in front of the distractingly loud ocean and pledged eternal love to his apathetic bride-to-be. Even Evan cant seem to believe that his deal with the devilevidenced by the tell-tale mark of his thick leather man-braceletactually worked out. He loves Carly because she celebrates and loves every part of him, which is good because Bachelor in Paradise gleefully mocks Evan, labeling him an Erectile dysfunction specialist in his post-proposal talking head.

Carly tells the world that she cant wait to make Evan dinners and sit on his porch: in her words, Happily Evan after. Clearly, were supposed to think that Evan is quirky and Carly is the lucky gal who got past his weird affectations and saw the adorable, affectionate boner-whisperer within. This really begs the question of what passes for a personality on this show. No one on Paradise seems to understand that Evan isnt actually a nerdhes just a slightly less attractive white dude who appreciates puns. Its like every woman in this franchise has spent their entire adult lives dating Simone Biles cardboard cutout of Zac Efron.

Next on the docket is Lace and Grant. Lace is pretty anxious, since Grant seemed less than stoked on forming a more perfect union when they unsuccessfully discussed marriage in the fantasy suite. Plus, she adds, It doesnt help that we got tattoos the day before he is questioning proposing to me. Touch, Lace. Lace quiets her fears by telling Grant everything she likes about him, which includes a handful of generic traits and his smile. Despite acting like shes only met him once or twice, Lace is 110 percent ready to move forward with this engagement. Grant cant picture his world without Lace, either, and he wants to build a life with herstarting today! Grant kneels down in front of the aggressively swelling oceanreally chewing the scenery here, natureto make his dream of a post-Paradise relationship with Lace (really? her?) a reality. The happily engaged couple proceeds to make out in a bunch of places, allowing the rest of us to focus on the more pressing love affair between the camera and Laces huge Neil Lane diamond.

And now, the moment weve all been dreading. Poor, poor Jen. She knows that this is Nicks third season, and that hes had his heart broken before; little does she know that it certainly wont be his last. Jen is wearing adorable separates, and shes apparently ready to be a wife and a mother! Nick is wincing already, and I am so here for every moment of his guilt and shame. Jen tells him that shes fallen in love, and she wants to keep falling if hes willing to catch her (hes not). Nick starts crying and cant look her in the eye. Jen refuses to take him out of his misery, and hes forced to revert to a series of brutal break-up platitudes. Apparently, he really wanted to say he was in love with her, but something in his heart said that he couldnt. And if he could tell his heart what to do, he would tell it to choose her. Lastly, he swears between bouts of ugly-crying, Somethings telling me to say goodbye.

While watching this excruciating scene, its important to remember that this was actually edited by producers in order to make their next Bachelor appear as likable as possible. So lets all take a minute to imagine all the saccharine lies that didnt make the cut. Nick feels like Jen deserves better than him, which she definitely does. Jen says ok, because she probably agrees with him. Nick sobs onto his newly minted ex-girlfriend multiple times before offering to walk her to her SUV; this is a classic Nick Viall nice guy move, the real-life equivalent of kindly calling someone an Uber because you really want them to leave your apartment forever. Jen says that Nicks non-proposal makes no sensepoor, poor Jenand warns Nick that at some point youre going to have to let go of the past. Wise words of advice for someone whos about to star on his fourth season of a Bachelor franchise.

In his own SUV, Nick moans that, I feel like Im incapable of saying I love you to anyone. Sad! Also, Sometimes I feel like my hearts a knot and I cant untie it. I have to figure out how I can do that again. Whos excited for Vialls season of The Bachelor? Anyone?

Josh cranks out a proposal to tie up the episode. Despite the careful editing that characterized Josh and Amandas subplot this finale, it quickly becomes clear that Josh doesnt actually have cold feet. Josh musters up his limited stores of enthusiasm and acts excited about meeting Amandas daughters and becoming a part of their family. Daddys home! In his most relatable moment so far, a dazed Josh stands next to his future bride and stares at the camera: This is my fianc he exclaims. Thats unbelievable.

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/09/07/that-crazy-bachelor-in-paradise-finale-nick-viall-is-leader-of-the-douchepack

Trump’s Budget Would Cut Planned Parenthood Out Of All Federal Programs

Andrew Cullen / Reuters
The White House budget plan’s exclusion of Planned Parenthood would be the first time a specific health care provider was locked out of participating in any federal programs.

The Trump administrations proposed budget specifically excludes Planned Parenthood from all Department of Health and Human Services programs, apparently the first time a presidents budget has done so, according to the leaked executive summary of the plan.

Trumps proposed fiscal 2018 budget follows through on a campaign promise and prohibits any funding in the Labor-HHS appropriations bill for certain entities that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood, the executive summary says. This prohibition applies toall funds in the bill,including Medicaid.

The freeze-out apparently goes beyond the House GOPs plan, which excludes Planned Parenthood only from Medicaid reimbursements.Trumps budget proposal bars the nations largest family planning provider from participating in any federal program, including cancer screening programs funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Zika virus prevention, HIV/AIDS testing and prevention, Violence Against Women Act grants to prevent sexual assault, maternal and child health programs and sexually transmitted disease and infertility prevention grants. No president has ever attempted to exclude a specific health provider from the entire federal budget.

Trumps proposed budget also includes $610 billion in cuts to Medicaid, which women disproportionately rely on,as well as massive cuts to food stamps anda supplemental nutrition programfor low-income women and infants. Ivanka Trump reportedly managed to include a paid family leave program in the plan, but that relatively small consolation prize does not seem to be appeasing womens health groups.

This is the worst budget for women and womens health in a generation, said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement Monday. It guts programs designed to help women and their families put food on the table, get the medical care they need, and make ends meet.Gimmicks and misdirection cannot cover up a deadly agenda that would hurt women and prevent access to basic health care in the U.S. and across the globe.

Planned Parenthood receives roughly half a billion dollars a year from the government, which it uses for preventative health services such as contraception, cancer screenings, and sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment. Federal law already prevents any taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortions.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/planned-parenthood-trump-budget_us_59237da5e4b03b485cb454ab

Trump’s Budget Takes From Safety Net, Gives To Military

WASHINGTON President Donald Trump wants Congress to cut food stamps and other anti-poverty programs in order to pay for more military spending and a border wall, according to a budget proposal the White House will formally unveil on Tuesday.

Trumps budget for fiscal 2018, a summary of which the administration released late Monday, would plow the savings from welfare cuts into higher military spending and deficit reduction. It also adds $2.6 billion more for border security, including $1.6 billion to construct a physical wall.

The document honors Trumps unorthodox campaign promise not to cut Social Security or Medicare, but it shows how the presidents domestic agenda is being shaped by Capitol Hill Republicans eager to cancel benefits to supposedly undeserving recipients.

We need people to go to work, Trumps budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said in a briefing with reporters on Monday. Mulvaney is a former member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Mulvaney expounded on the meaning ofTrumponomics, saying its all about rapid economic growth. This budget relies on optimistic growth projections that would help eliminate the federal deficit within 10 years. Though Trump himself hasnt said a lot about social programs, such as food stamps and disability insurance, Mulvaney said reforming the safety net is key to achieving faster growth.

If youre on food stamps and youre able-bodied, we need you to go to work, Mulvaney said. If youre on disability insurance and youre not supposed to be, if youre not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work. We need everybody pulling in the same direction.

White House budgets are generally wish lists that serve as opening bids in annual spending negotiations that are ultimately decided by Congress. The new spending outline is a fuller version of a blueprint the Trump administrationunveiled in March, which lawmakers in both parties panned.

The new proposal incorporates Medicaid cuts that were already included in the Republican health care bill approved by the House last month, and it adds more cuts on top. It also includes the very broad outline for tax reform that the Trump administration released in April. And the Trump budget would eliminate federal reimbursement for womens health care services provided by Planned Parenthood, but it would also create a paid family leave program.

Mulvaney said the paid leave proposal would help people remain attached to the workforce.

We try and create the environment where people are more comfortable going back to work and staying at work knowing that if they do have a child, theyll be able to spend time with that child under the paid parental leave program, Mulvaney said.

The proposed cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is significant, as the $193 billion reduction amounts to more than a quarter of the food stamp programs projected cost over the next decade. Thats proportionately bigger than the proposed cut to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Its a much sharper reduction than conservative House Republicans tried to achieve the last time lawmakers debated food aid on the House floor in 2014.

The proposal would achieve some of the food stamp savings by requiring states to help pay for benefits, which are currently fully funded by the federal government. The burden would give states a strong incentive to limit eligibility for the program, and the budget would give them the flexibility to make changes.

I believe in the social safety net, Mulvaney said. And what weve done is not to try and remove the safety net for folks who need it but to try and figure out if theres folks who dont need it that need to be back in the workforce.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-budget-2018_us_592399fbe4b094cdba56e3b3

Karen Carpenter: starved of love, by Randy Schmidt | Extract

Karen Carpenter's velvet voice charmed millions in the 70s but behind the wholesome image she was desperately unhappy. In a revealing new biography Randy Schmidt tells the full story of her losing battle with anorexia

The Carpenters were one of the biggest-selling American musical acts of all time. Between 1970 and 1984 brother and sister Richard and Karen Carpenter had 17 top 20 hits, including “Goodbye to Love“, “Yesterday Once More“, “Close to You” and “Rainy Days and Mondays“. They notched up 10 gold singles, nine gold albums, one multi-platinum album and three Grammy awards. Karen’s velvety voice and Richard’s airy melodies and meticulously crafted arrangements stood in direct contrast to the louder, wilder rock dominating the rest of the charts at the time, yet they became immensely popular, selling more than 100m records.

Richard was the musical driving force but it was Karen’s effortless voice that lay behind the Carpenters’ hits. Promoted from behind the drums to star vocalist, she became one of the decade’s most instantly recognisable female singers.

But there was a tragic discrepancy between her public and private selves. Offstage, away from the spotlight, she felt desperately unloved by her mother, Agnes, who favoured Richard, and struggled with low self-esteem, eventually developing anorexia nervosa from which she never recovered. She died at the age of 32.

In 1996 journalist Rob Hoerburger powerfully summed up Karen Carpenter’s tribulations in a New York Times Magazine feature: “If anorexia has classically been defined as a young woman’s struggle for control, then Karen was a prime candidate, for the two things she valued most in the world her voice and her mother’s love were exclusively the property of her brother Richard. At least she would control the size of her own body.” And control it she did. By September 1975 her weight fell to 6st 7lb (41kg).

Karen’s quest to be thin seems to have begun innocently enough just after high school graduation when she started the Stillman water diet. Although she was never obese, she was what most would consider a chubby 17-year-old at 10st5lb. (She was 5ft 4in tall.) She levelled off at around 8st 8lb and maintained her weight by eating sensibly but not starving herself. Even so, eating while on tour was problematic for Karen, as she described in 1973: “When you’re on the road it’s hard to eat. Period. On top of that, it’s rough to eat well. We don’t like to eat before a show because I can’t stand singing with a full stomach You never get to dinner until, like, midnight, and if you eat heavy you’re not going to sleep, and you’re going to be a balloon.”

Karen was shocked when she saw photos from an August 1973 Lake Tahoe concert where an unflattering outfit accentuated her paunch. She hired a personal trainer, who made visits to her home and recommended a diet low in calories but high in carbohydrates. Instead of slimming down as she had hoped, Karen started to put on muscle and bulk up. Watching the Carpenters on a Bob Hope television special that autumn, she remarked that she had put on some extra weight. Richard agreed she looked a bit heavier. She was discouraged and vowed she was going to “do something about it”. She fired her trainer, and immediately set out on a mission to shed the unwanted pounds on her own. She purchased a hip cycle, which she used each morning on her bed, and because it was portable the equipment was packed and taken with her on tour.

“She lost around 20lb and she looked fabulous,” recalls Carole Curb, the sister of Karen’s then boyfriend, record executive Mike Curb. “She weighed 110lb [7st 12lb] or so, and looked amazing If she’d been able to stop there then life would have been beautiful. A lot of us girls in that era went through moments of that. Everybody wanted to be Twiggy. Karen got carried away. She just couldn’t stop.”

Having witnessed Karen’s meticulous routine of counting calories and planning food intake for every meal, Richard complimented her initial weight loss during a break from recording as the two dined at the Au Petit Caf, a favourite French bistro on Vine Street near the A&M studios. “You look great,” he told her.

“Well, I’m just going to get down to around 105.”

“A hundred and five? You look great now.”

Karen’s response worried Richard. In fact, this was the first time he paused to consider she might be taking the diet too far. Friends and family began to notice extreme changes in Karen’s eating habits, despite her attempts at subtlety. She rearranged and pushed her food around the plate with a fork as she talked, which gave the appearance of eating. Another of her strategies involved offering samples of her food to others around the table. She would rave on about her delicious meal and then insist that everyone try it for themselves. “Here, you have some,” she would say as she enthusiastically scooped heaps on to others’ plates. “Would you like to taste this?” By the time dinner was over, Karen’s plate was clean but she had dispersed her entire meal to everyone else. Her mother, Agnes, caught on to this ploy and began to do the same in return. “Well, this is good, too,” she would say as she put more food on to her daughter’s plate. This infuriated Karen, who realised she would have to find other ways to avoid eating.

By the time Karen’s weight dropped to 6st 6lb, she looked for ways to disguise the weight loss, especially around those she knew would make comments or pester her to eat more. She began to layer her clothing, a strategy her agent Sherwin Bash noticed in the early part of 1975. “She would start with a long-sleeved shirt and then put a blouse over that,” he explains, “and a sweater over that and a jacket over that With all of it you had no idea of what she had become.”

But family friend Evelyn Wallace was shocked when she caught a glimpse of Karen’s gaunt figure as she sunbathed topless in the back garden of the Carpenters’ home in Downey, California, one afternoon. “They put this screen around her so nobody else could see her,” Wallace explains. “She loved to go lay out in the sunshine. I don’t know whether it was to get a tan or get away from her mother. Anyhow, I happened to go out to the kitchen for something and I saw her out there. She just had on her little bathing suit shorts. You couldn’t tell whether it was a girl or a boy. She had absolutely no breasts.”

Karen’s new slim figure required that she purchase a new stage wardrobe, and she opted for a number of low-cut silky gowns, some strapless or even backless. Bash was horrified to see her bony shoulders and ribs. Even her hip bones were visible through the thin layers of fabric. He asked Karen to rethink the wardrobe choices before going on stage. “I talked her into putting a jacket on over the bare back and bare arms,” he said, “but the audience saw it.”

There was often a collective gasp from the audience when Karen would take the stage. In fact, after a few shows, Bash was approached by concerned fans who knew something was terribly wrong but assumed she had cancer or some other disease. Even critics took note of her gaunt appearance. A review for Variety praised Karen’s emergence from behind the drums to centre stage but commented on her deteriorating appearance. “She is terribly thin, almost a wraith, and should be gowned more becomingly.”

No one really understood why Karen wasn’t eating. To those around her the solution seemed simple: eat. “Anorexia nervosa was so new that I didn’t even know how to pronounce it until 1980,” band member John Bettis said. “From the outside the solution looks so simple. All a person has to do is eat. So we were constantly trying to shove food at Karen My opinion about anorexia is it’s an attempt to have control something in your life you can do something about, that you can regiment. That just got out of control with her.”

Band members witnessed her exhaustion. She was lying down between shows, something she had rarely, if ever, done before. They were shocked to see how she could be flat on her back one minute and on stage singing the next. Even when doing back-to-back shows, Karen displayed “a tremendous amount of nervous energy”, said Bash. Unlike her parents, Bash had no qualms about confronting Karen on the issue of anorexia. “The fact that she was anorexic was discussed innumerable times There was every attempt to get her to seek professional help, but I believe her family was the kind of family where the mother would say, ‘We can take care of ourselves. We don’t need to have someone help. This is a family matter.'”

When Karen dieted, or “overdieted”, Bash explains, there was a rush of attention from the family, especially Agnes. “Karen had never had attention from Agnes before her mother doted exclusively on Richard so she liked it. The experts say that one of the things that seems to drive young girls to overdiet is that they were oftentimes the kids that never got attention. It’s a way of getting the love from their family that they never got before.”

By the autumn of 1975 Karen’s failing health could no longer be ignored. In addition to her skeletal appearance, she was mentally and physically exhausted. Although she made it through a series of shows in LasVegas without a major incident, upon returning to Los Angeles she checked into Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, where she spent five days while doctors ran tests. “She is suffering a severe case of physical and nervous exhaustion,” said Dr Robert Koblin in a statement to the press. “She had a hectic four-week schedule lined up in Europe but I could not allow her to go through with it. In my opinion it would have been highly dangerous to her long-term health.” Melody Maker reported that the Carpenters’ tour would have been the highest-grossing tour in Britain and that approximately 150,000 people were set to see them during the planned 28-day European trek. Ticket sales for the 50 shows, which sold out in a matter of hours, were refunded. It was reported that the Carpenters may have easily lost upward of $250,000 due to the cancelled concerts.

Under Agnes Carpenter’s close watch, Karen slept 14-16 hours a day. “My mother thought I was dead,” she told biographer Ray Coleman. “I normally manage on four to six hours. It was obvious that for the past two years I’d been running on nervous energy.” Her weight eventually climbed to 7st 6lb.

Over the next five years Karen continued to struggle with anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Meanwhile Richard Carpenter fought and won a battle with Quaalude addiction. Then in June 1980, after an unsuccessful attempt to launch a solo career, Karen announced her engagement to a property developer called Tom Burris.

Thirty-nine-year-old Tom Burris met a number of Karen’s requirements in a potential husband. “He was very attractive, very nice, and he seemed very generous,” said Carole Curb. Two months into their relationship, Burris told Karen he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. The couple’s plan for a year-long engagement was ditched when they announced in July their plans for an August ceremony. The push to be married alarmed Karen’s friends. According to Karen ‘Itchie’ Ramone, Karen’s friend and the wife of producer Phil Ramone, “That’s when everybody’s antennas went up.” Days before the wedding rehearsal Burris dropped a bombshell: he had undergone a vasectomy prior to their meeting. Karen was dumbfounded. He offered to reverse the procedure but their chances at a family would be significantly lessened.

Karen felt betrayed. Burris had lied to her; he had withheld this information for the duration of their courtship and engagement, knowing full well that starting a family was at the top of Karen’s list of priorities. This was a deal breaker. The wedding was off. Karen picked up the phone and called her mother. She cried to Agnes as she explained the deceit that left her with no choice but to cancel the ceremony. But Agnes told her she would do no such thing. Family and friends were travelling from all over the country to attend the event. Moreover, the wedding expenses had already cost what Agnes considered to be a small fortune. “The invitations have gone out. There are reporters and photographers coming. People magazine is going to be there. The wedding is on, and you will walk down that aisle. You made your bed, Karen,” she told her. “Now you’ll have to lay in it.”

Most of Karen’s family and friends had assumed Burris’s lifestyle and net worth were comparable to her own. The expensive cars and other possessions gave him the appearance of a multimillionaire, but what others did not realise was that he was living well beyond his means.

“It wasn’t long after they got married that he started asking her for money,” recalls Evelyn Wallace. “He’d give her some excuse, and she’d give him the money. He’d ask for $35,000 and $50,000 at a time. Finally it got down to the point where all she had left was stocks and bonds.”

As Itchie Ramone recalls, “Tom couldn’t afford the houses, the cars, her wedding ring; he couldn’t pay for anything.” Karen began to share with friends her growing misgivings about Tom, not only concerning his finances but also his lack of feelings for her. He was often impatient, and she admitted being fearful when he would occasionally lose his temper. “He could be very cruel to her,” says Itchie. But Karen’s longing to be a mother proved to be stronger than her desire to leave her husband. At their house in Newport Beach Karen expressed to Burris her desire to get pregnant and start a family. His response was brutal. She was still crying hysterically when she called Itchie Ramone for support. Burris had told her he wouldn’t even consider having children with her and called her “a bag of bones”. According to Itchie, this marriage was “the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was absolutely the worst thing that could have ever happened to her.”

Friends suggested she and Burris seek marital counselling. Instead, the Carpenters prepared to leave for Europe and South America. Itchie went along to keep Karen company. In reality, however, according to Itchie, “Laxatives were her major companion. When we were in Paris we made quite a scene in a pharmacy across the street from our hotel about her needing to buy more laxatives. I suggested natural food groups that might relieve her ‘constipation’ but she always won those arguments.”

Following a brief stop in Amsterdam, the Carpenters arrived at London’s Heathrow airport on Wednesday, 21 October 1981. They made numerous promotional appearances while in London, both in person and on television. On Thursday they taped an interview for Nationwide, a popular news magazine on BBC television. Barely one minute into their visit, host Sue Lawley surprised Karen by casting light on her darkest secret. “There were rumours that you were suffering from the slimmer’s disease anorexia nervosa,” Lawley said. “Is that right?” “No, I was just pooped,” Karen said with an intense frown. “I was tired out.”

“You went down to about six stone in weight, I think, didn’t you?” Lawley asked. “I have no idea what ‘six stone in weight’ is,” Karen replied, becoming noticeably uncomfortable and increasingly agitated. She struggled to fake a laugh, rolling her eyes at the interviewer, who quickly converted the amount to approximately 84lbs. “No,” she said, shaking her head adamantly. “No.”

In actuality her weight was hovering around 5st 10lbs even then. The interviewer’s continued efforts to pinpoint a reason for Karen’s skeletal appearance prompted Richard to come to his sister’s defence. “I don’t really feel that we should be talking about the weight loss,” he told Lawley. “Maybe it’s better to take a pass on the whole thing. It’s really not what we’re here for.”

“I am just asking you the questions people want to know the answers to,” Lawley replied.

Returning to Los Angeles in November 1981, Karen filed for divorce. Leaving behind the pieces of her broken marriage, she set out on a year-long recovery mission, relocating to New York City’s Regency Hotel in January 1982. Manager Jerry Weintraub arranged for Karen and Itchie Ramone to share a two-bedroom suite. Cherry O’Neill, the eldest daughter of singer Pat Boone who had herself recovered from anorexia, had recommended Karen consider coming to the northwest and seeing the doctor who helped her. But in Karen’s world, one name was synonymous with anorexia treatment, and that name was Steven Levenkron. He was a psychotherapist specialising in eating disorders and his successful book The Best Little Girl in the World had become a highly acclaimed television movie, which aired in May 1981. Levenkron agreed to treat her. He received 100 for each hour-long session five days a week, totalling $2,000 a month. “I liked Levenkron, at least in the beginning,” Itchie Ramone says. “No one really knew why someone would get the disorder or how to treat it, so we were really looking to him to ‘save’ her.”

Arriving at Levenkron’s office at 16 East Seventy-Ninth in Manhattan, Karen weighed in at an alarming 5st 8lb. A week into their daily sessions, Karen admitted to Levenkron she was taking a large number of laxative tablets 80-90 Dulcolax a night. This did not surprise Levenkron. In fact, it was a common practice for many anorexics. “For quite some time, I was taking 60 laxatives at once,” admits Cherry O’Neill. “Mainly because that was how many came in the box I would ingest the entire contents so as not to leave any evidence.”

What did stun Levenkron was Karen’s next casual disclosure. She was also taking thyroid medication 10 pills a day. He was shocked, especially when she explained that she had a normal thyroid. Realising she was using the medication to speed up her metabolism, Levenkron confiscated the pills. This was the first case of thyroid medication abuse he had seen in his dozen years in the field.

According to Levenkron’s 1982 book, Treating and Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa, the patient must become totally dependent upon the therapist. Once the patient has transferred their dependence on to him, he tries to teach them how to create their own sense of identity, and he helps them disengage from their dependence on him with new behaviours, habits, and thought patterns.

Karen took advantage of the beautiful spring weather and began a new exercise routine to and from her sessions with Levenkron a brisk two-mile round-trip walk. This was yet another method to burn extra calories. Outwardly Karen seemed committed to the idea of therapy, but as evidenced by her daily walking regimen, she was not as committed to making actual changes that would result in real progress. “She was still walking a lot, and she was exercising,” Carole Curb says. “And then she was into throwing up and taking pills that make you lose water-weight. Debilitating things like that.”

Several months into his sessions with Karen, Levenkron began to suspect that she had fallen off the wagon. He invited the Carpenter parents and Richard to a 90-minute family therapy session at his office. “They did come to New York finally,” Itchie Ramone recalls, “and only after a lot of nudging. By then, Karen seemed to be starting to turn the corner a bit emotionally.”

The stigma surrounding mental illness and a need for therapy was frightening for the family, especially Agnes, who felt Karen was simply going overboard as far as dieting was concerned. If only she would stop being so stubborn and just eat. Over the years the family tried every possible approach to get through to her and make her eat. “Everyone around her did everything that they could have humanly done,” Richard said in 1993. “I tried everything the heart-to-heart, the cajole, the holler It can just make you crazy. Obviously it wasn’t about to work, and I was upset.”

Levenkron explained that the family’s attempts to threaten or bribe Karen out of her behaviours would never make them go away. According to his book, “Failure of the family to understand this produces division within the family that in turn results in feelings of anger and guilt. The family atmosphere is chaotic, reinforcing the anorexic’s belief that she and no one else knows what is best for her.” Levenkron suggested to the family that Karen was in need of a more tactile, demonstrative kind of love. Karen cried uncontrollably during the meeting. She told them how sorry she was for having put them in a situation where they felt a need to defend her upbringing, and she went so far as to apologise for ruining their lives. “I think Karen really needs to hear that you love her,” Levenkron told the family.

“Well, of course I love you,” Richard told her unreservedly.

“Agnes?” The therapist tapped the mother’s shoe with his own.

Rather than address her daughter, Agnes explained how she preferred to be called Mrs Carpenter. “Well, I’m from the north,” she continued. “And we just don’t do things that way.”

“Agnes couldn’t do it,” says Itchie Ramone, who discussed the meeting with Karen and Levenkron after the family left. “She couldn’t do it In therapy you’re basically stark naked. Then your own mother can’t reach out to you? And the way she doted on Richard. Most children would try to dance as fast as they could to make their parents love them, but it was at that point that I think Karen decided it was time to take a step back.”

After the meeting with Levenkron, Richard became angry with the treatment plan, which he thought to be worthless. He was upset that Karen had not checked herself into an inpatient facility as one would do to conquer substance abuse. He and his parents returned to California and chose to keep their distance after this painful encounter. They made no further attempts to contact Karen’s therapist. “What I find interesting,” Levenkron stated in 1993, “is that in the entire time Karen was in New York, I got zero calls from the family. I have never treated anyone with anorexia nervosa whose family didn’t call regularly because they were concerned.” Likewise, Richard claimed to have never received a call from Levenkron.

Karen and Itchie were surprised to learn that Levenkron was not an actual doctor. “We used to call him ‘Dr Levenkron’ all the time,” Itchie explains. “Then we found out that he wasn’t even a real doctor. Any medical issues she had, we had to go see this other doctor at Lenox Hill Hospital.”

According to Evelyn Wallace, “Karen picked the wrong guy to go to. He wasn’t even a doctor. It seemed like Levenkron was simply trying to talk Karen out of having anorexia, but she’d talk to him and she’d go back to the same routine.”

By the autumn of 1982 Karen showed no real signs of progress. In fact, her walks to and from sessions with Levenkron kept her body weight beneath the six stone mark. Itchie Ramone called Levenkron and voiced her concerns. “Look, Karen’s getting thinner and thinner,” she exclaimed. “Plus, it’s obvious she doesn’t have her usual energy anymore. When do you expect this turnaround? She’s just skin and bone.”

The therapist agreed that Karen seemed extra tired and was not responding as quickly as he had hoped, and vowed to try another approach. After her next session with Levenkron, Karen asked Itchie if she could borrow a swimsuit. “What?” Itchie asked. “There’s no pool in the hotel. Besides, it’s cold out!”

“No, I have to wear it tomorrow for Levenkron,” Karen answered. The two stopped by the Ramones’s apartment to pick up a size 2 light green bikini belonging to Itchie. Karen changed into the bikini and emerged smiling. Itchie was mortified and unable to hide her reaction. “What’s the matter?” Karen asked. “It fits.”

“Uh, yeah, it fits,” she said hesitantly. “You can use it tomorrow, I guess.”

Returning to Levenkron the following day, Karen was asked to change into the bikini and stand in front of the office mirror. He urged her to survey and evaluate her body. “She didn’t really see any problem with how she looked,” Itchie recalls. “In fact, she thought she was gaining a little weight. But she was 79lb.”

In mid-September Karen phoned Levenkron and told him her heart was “beating funny”. She was quite upset, anxious, and confused. She complained of dizziness to an extent that she was unable to walk. Despite not being medically qualified, he recognised her symptoms as those of someone suffering extreme dehydration. Karen was admitted to New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital on 20 September 1982 to begin hyperalimentation, or intravenous feeding.

The next morning she went into surgery to have a small-bore catheter implanted within the superior vena cava (right atrium of the heart). An unexpected complication was discovered later that day when she complained to the nurse of excruciating chest pain, and X-rays revealed the doctors had accidentally punctured one of her lungs in their attempts to insert the tube.

As her lung began to heal, Karen’s body quickly responded to the artificial means of feeding. The hyperalimentation process completely replaced all of her nutritional needs, and a precise daily calorie intake was dispensed through the catheter. This loss of control was known to often spark fear in patients, and doctors who oppose hyperalimentation argue that it does not teach the patient to eat properly. However, Karen went along with it and gained 12lb in only a few days. Solid foods were slowly reintroduced as the level of assistance from Karen’s IV lessened, and she continued to gain weight steadily. Unlike many other patients she seemed pleased and excited to show visitors her progress. Richard flew in to visit on 25 October and, like most who saw her there, was shocked and saddened. She was still horribly emaciated and barely identifiable by this stage. “You see how much better I look?” she asked.

Richard nodded in agreement but only to appease his sister. In an attempt to divert the attention away from herself, Karen told him of other patients who were much worse off. But he was not sidetracked. “Karen, this is crap,” he said suddenly. “Don’t you understand? This is crap! You’re going about this all the wrong way. This guy isn’t getting anything accomplished because you’re in a hospital now!”

By November Karen was eating three meals a day at Lenox Hill, and trying to stay positive about the weight gain, by then approaching the 30lb mark. The return of her menstrual cycle, which had ceased during the previous year, seemed to signify an improvement in emotional and physical wellbeing.

On 16 November Karen visited Steven Levenkron for the last time and presented him with a farewell gift, a framed personal message in needlepoint. The large green-threaded words “you win I gain” served as tangible proof of the long hours Karen had spent alone in the hospital. Learning of her plan to leave, Levenkron reminded Karen she was abandoning the program much too soon, and that treatment takes at least three years. He suggested a therapist in Los Angeles so that she might continue a routine of some sort upon her return home, but she declined. She promised to call him and swore she would not take any more laxatives or diuretics. Agnes and Harold (Karen’s father) met up with her at Levenkron’s office that day. The couple had flown to New York City to bring their daughter and her 22 pieces of luggage home. It was obvious to most that Karen’s treatment was inadequate and ending too soon.

“She tried to get help,” says her longtime friend Frenda Franklin. “She went to New York to try. It just wasn’t the right way to do it. If this had happened in today’s world I think Karen would have lived. I think we would have had a good shot. They know so much more. We were dancing in the dark.”

Karen ate heartily on Thanksgiving Day, much to the delight of her family, and she even called Itchie Ramone that night to tell her of all she had eaten. “She said to me, ‘I ate this and that and all my favourite things,'” she recalls. “She was very proud of herself then. We were all very proud of her. It seemed like progress.”

In the weeks following her return to Los Angeles Karen went back to shopping and socialising without delay. Although others felt she was still quite fragile and thin, Herb Alpert, who had first signed the Carpenters to A&M, saw Karen shortly after the New Year and recalled her looking terrific. She bounced into his office saying, “Hey, look at me, Herbie! What do you think? How do I look?” Alpert agreed that she looked happier and healthier than he had seen her in some time, and felt she appeared to have won the battle. “I am so happy,” she told him.

“I’m ready to record again, and Richard and I have been talking about getting the group together and performing.”

Despite her high spirits, she was taking more naps than usual and sometimes lying down by seven in the evening. Richard did not believe she was well, and he told her so. On Thursday 27 January Florine Elie drove to Century City for her weekly cleaning of Karen’s apartment at Century Towers. There the housekeeper made an unnerving discovery. “When I was working up there I found Karen,” Elie says. “She was lying on the floor of her closet.” She gently shook Karen who awoke but was groggy. “Karen, is there something wrong?” she asked.

“No, I am just so tired,” she replied.

“Maybe you better go lie on your bed,” she said, helping Karen up and tucking her into bed.

Florine checked on Karen again before leaving. By then she was awake and adamant she was OK.

Tuesday 1 February found Karen dining with her brother, this time at Scandia on Sunset Boulevard. They were joined by stage producer Joe Layton, and the trio discussed plans for the Carpenters’ return to touring. Karen ate with enthusiasm and after dinner returned to Century Towers. This was the last time Richard would see his sister alive.

The next day Karen spoke with Itchie Ramone, who was pregnant with her and Phil’s first child. Karen shared her plans for the week. She would sign the final divorce papers on Friday and then prepare to leave for New York. “That weekend, 6 February, she was going to hop on a plane and be there for the birth,” Itchie recalls.

Shortly after midnight, staying overnight with her parents, Karen went over her to-do list with Frenda Franklin by phone, and finalised plans for the next day. “OK, I am going to drive in. There shouldn’t be a lot of traffic,” she said. According to Frenda, Karen enjoyed keeping up with traffic reports. “Then we’re going to go get the red fingernail polish.” The two had a noon appointment for a manicure in celebration of her divorce.

On Friday morning, 4 February, Karen awoke and went downstairs to the kitchen, where she turned on the coffeepot her mother had prepared the night before. She went back upstairs to get dressed. When the coffee was ready, Agnes dialled the upstairs bedroom phone, but its ring, heard faintly in the distance, went unanswered. Agnes went to the foot of the stairs and called to her daughter but there was no response. Entering the room, Agnes found Karen’s motionless, nude body lying face down on the floor of the walk-in wardrobe. Her eyes were open but rolled back. She was lying in a straight line and did not appear to have fallen. “She had just laid down on the floor and that was it,” Agnes recalled.

The autopsy report listed the cause of death as “emetine cardiotoxicity due to or as a consequence of anorexia nervosa.” The finding of emetine cardiotoxicity (ipecac poisoning) revealed that Karen had poisoned herself with ipecac syrup, a well-known emetic commonly recommended to induce vomiting in cases of overdose or poisoning.

Levenkron claimed to know nothing of Karen’s use or abuse of ipecac. In their phone calls she assured him she was maintaining her new 7st 10lb figure and had completely suspended use of all laxatives. He never suspected she was resorting to something much more lethal.

In a radio interview taped shortly after Karen’s death, Levenkron discussed the autopsy findings: “According to the LA coroner, she discovered ipecac and started taking it every day. There are a lot of women out there who are using ipecac for self-induced vomiting. It creates painful cramps, tastes terrible, and it does another thing that the public isn’t aware of. It slowly dissolves the heart muscle. If you take it day after day, every dose is taking another little piece of that heart muscle apart. Karen, after fighting bravely for a year in therapy, went home and apparently decided that she wouldn’t lose any weight with ipecac, but that she’d make sure she didn’t gain any. I’m sure she thought this was a harmless thing she was doing, but in 60 days she had accidentally killed herself. It was a shocker for all of us who treated her.”

In one of Levenkron’s most recent books, Anatomy of Anorexia, the author boasts of his above-average recovery rate in working with those suffering from eating disorders. “In the last 20 years I have treated nearly 300 anorexics,” he wrote. “I am pleased to state that I have had a 90 per cent recovery rate, though tragically, one fatality.” That was Karen Carpenter.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/oct/24/karen-carpenter-anorexia-book-extract

‘Mom’ ditches Emmy campaign to donate to Planned Parenthood

(CNN)CBS’s “Mom” put its plans for an Emmy campaign on hold in support of Planned Parenthood.

Explaining their decision, star Allison Janney told “Access Hollywood”: “It just seems like now is a time to do something like this — as the House of Representatives voted to defund Planned Parenthood.”
Janney, who plays Bonnie on the series, is a long-time advocate for the organization. Janney said her great-grandmother worked with Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger and her mother once sat on the board of an affiliate organization.
    Planned Parenthood has been a frequent target of GOP initiatives.
    In April, President Donald Trump signed a bill that allows states to withhold federal money from organizations that provide abortion services, like Planned Parenthood.
    The majority of federal money given to the organization funds preventive health care, birth control, pregnancy tests and other women’s health services, according to information on Planned Parenthood’s website.
    “It’s been part of my family,” Janney said. “It’s an organization that’s important and needs to be here.”
    Janney has won two Emmys for her work on “Mom” and seven Emmys total.
    “Mom” has been praised during its four seasons for tackling issues like addiction, breast cancer and adoption.
    “I’m proud of all of us at ‘Mom’ for making that decision,” she said.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/19/entertainment/mom-emmys-planned-parenthood/index.html

    This Is What Your Favorite Foods Look Like In Their Natural Habitats

    When we buy food from the grocery store or order it from a restaurant, we see it in a certain way. Most of the time, the food that we eat doesn’t appear the same way in nature. In a lot of cases, people would be unable to identify common food items that they consume almost every day if they saw them in nature.

    So enlighten yourself and have a look at the weird origins of your favorite foods and spices.

    1. Kiwis

    2. Broccoli

    3. Peanuts

    4. Blackberries

    5. Saffron

    6. Walnuts

    7. Mangoes

    8. Potatoes

    9. Pistachios

    10. Coffee

    11. Cashews

    12. Watermelons

    13. Pineapples

    14. Black Pepper

    15. Sesame

    16. Blueberries

    17. Vanilla Beans

    18. Bananas

    19. Almonds

    20. Cacao

    21. Mustard

    (via My Modern Met)

    If I didn’t know better, I would never believe that these are the same things we eat all the time! What a difference it is from the plant to the plate. Nature is pretty amazing, isn’t it?

    Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/natural-food/

    Trump’s doublespeak in Saudi Arabia

    (CNN)If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Donald Trump, it is that he has no qualms about contradicting himself to get what he wants. In Saudi Arabia, he wanted a $110 billion arms deal — not to promote peace and tolerance, as he later proclaimed in his Sunday speech.

    Thus, his speech will not “be remembered as the beginning of peace in the Middle East,” as he loftily put it, but rather a boost to the war that is ravaging it. Nor will Trump’s speech put an end to the Islamophobia and bigotry that he has spent the past two years inciting. After all, he needs scapegoats to blame when the terrorism in the Middle East inevitably reaches the United States.
    Given Trump’s opportunistic leadership style — what he calls “principled realism”– we can expect more contradictions between his rhetoric and his actions. Four specific contradictions warrant exploring to predict what is in store for American foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as for the treatment of Muslims in the United States.
      First, Trump preaches peace and prosperity in his speech, but then sells weapons to the Saudis, which will inevitably fuel war. Trump treats terrorism in the Middle East as a business opportunity to create jobs at home and enrich defense industry tycoons.
      While addressing the world’s longest-ruling dictators about terrorism, Trump failed to mention how state violence and repression feeds ISIS and al Qaeda’s propaganda campaigns. Instead, he proclaims the Arab leaders to be defenders of the people’s freedom. As he advised his allies to allow “young Muslim boys and girls (to) be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence and innocent of hatred,” he disingenuously pretended that the Arab Spring never occurred. The people revolted against their authoritarian governments seeking just those things, but found themselves abandoned by the United States and violently repressed by Arab regimes — which he is once again arming.

        Trump to Muslim world: Drive out terrorists

      Thus, we should not expect any meaningful attempts by the Trump administration to decrease terrorism in the region. Rather, the focus of US counterterrorism strategy will be to geographically contain the violence within the Middle East and prevent it from crossing the Atlantic.
      This brings us to the second of Trump’s contradictions — deliberately disconnecting Islam from terrorism in his speech to his Saudi arms purchasers while bolstering Islamophobia in the United States. Over the past two years, Trump has repeatedly stated that “Islam hates us” and Islam is a “hateful foreign ideology,” a kind of rhetoric that has emboldened his white nationalist supporters to discriminate against and attack Muslims. The growing anti-Muslim bigotry could give his administration free rein to disproportionately target Muslims in counterterrorism investigations, surveillance and prosecutions.
      Third, there is little evidence Trump is willing to participate in the global effort to “counter extremist ideology,” a new term he strategically coined instead of “radical Islamic terrorism” that he’s been peddling to his right-wing base. As Trump announced a “groundbreaking new center (that) represent(ed) a clear declaration that Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combatting radicalization,” he took no responsibility for his own divisive rhetoric that radicalizes the political right in the United States. Indeed, over the past five years, extremist ideology from the right has risen at troubling levels.
      Accordingly, we should expect the continued use of “radical Islamic terrorism” in his speeches to American audiences and willful blindness to the rise in violence of the alt-right, right-wing militia groups, and the Ku Klux Klan.
      Finally, Trump stated that in “the scenes of destruction, in the wake of terror, we see no signs that those murdered were Jewish or Christian, Shia or Sunni.” Here he intimates sympathy for Muslims, even as his domestic policies single out and discriminate against Muslims. His first executive order barred millions of people from Muslim-majority countries from lawfully entering the United States. The refugee clause in the order applied only to Muslim Syrian refugees while exempting Christian Syrian refugees — as if the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Muslim Syrians killed were of no value. And in all of his speeches warning about terrorism committed by Muslims, he has never acknowledged the rise in hate crimes, mosque vandalizations and bullying suffered by Muslims in the United States. For Trump, there is a major difference between Muslims and everyone else.

      Join us on Twitter and Facebook

      While citizens in the Middle East and America may find his contradictions repugnant, his audience in Saudi Arabia will not. On the contrary, Middle East authoritarians see Trump as a fellow demagogue who will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. And what he wants has little to do with peace, stability and prosperity for the people of the Middle East.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/21/opinions/trump-muslim-speech-opinion-aziz/index.html

      Saturday Night Live: Rock’s solid guarantee of strong finale

      Dwayne Johnson teams up with Tom Hanks while long-time cast members Vanessa Bayer and Bobby Moynihan leave on a high

      In recent years, Dwayne The Rock Johnson has been toying with the idea of running for president and the idea seems less ludicrous by the day.

      So it was a natural fit that the monologue for his fifth time as host of Saturday Night Live would take this idea and run with it, positing that the actor and former wrestler would use his on-screen bravado to win over voters. Hes a lock for the minority vote, he explained, because everyone just assumes Im … whatever they are.

      His natural fit for a running mate? Fellow five-timer Tom Hanks, of course, who brought his calming, paternal gravitas to the ticket. I have been in two movies where a plane crashed, Hanks reminded us, and people are still happy to see me on their flight.

      It kicked off a strong season finale: Johnson is a great host, and the episode featured a ton of Vanessa Bayer and Bobby Moynihan, long-time cast members who are leaving the show. Both are great, goofy players who will be tough to replace.

      Other sketches worth checking out include:

      • Johnson and Moynihan resurrected their wrestler characters Koko Watchout and Trashyard Mutt, who were trying to outdo each other in the promos for a big fight, but Koko couldnt quite understand why his way-too-personal insults (exposing Mutts infertility, complex familial history) didnt fly. It wasnt the most sophisticated premise, but it was executed very well, with some great punchlines for Johnson.
      • A commercial parody of erectile dysfunction drugs, starring Johnson as a construction worker who is recommended Zentrax by a co-worker, only to be informed by his doctor that it is effectively poison. What started as an obvious take on awful prescription drug ads had a nice slow build and ended with a great run of gags.
      • Weekend Update had some good one-liners Colin Josts President-for-Now Trump and Michael Ches Trump is a politician like Ja Rule is a festival organiser but the standouts where Bayer and Moynihan reprising some beloved characters. Bayer was back as Dawn Lazarus, the gibberish-speaking meteorologist whose melodic tone is oddly mesmerising: On the west coast, sun is always a wow. Moynihan brought back Drunk Uncle, the Trump-supporting old-school guy who cant quite deal with the modern-day world: Is this pomegranate juice gender fluid?
      • Kenan Thompson tried to control his New Money Crew in a rap video that quickly got out of control. Worth watching for one special cameo.

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/may/21/saturday-night-live-rocks-solid-guarantee-of-strong-finale

      Work, not sex? The real reason Chinese women bound their feet

      Hong Kong (CNN)It was an excruciatingly painful practice that maimed the feet of millions of Chinese girls and women for centuries: foot-binding.

      “In the conventional view, it existed to please men. They were thought to be attracted to small feet,” said Laurel Bossen, co-author of the new book “Bound feet, Young hands.”
      But Bossen’s research suggests that the custom has been massively misunderstood.
        Girls who had their feet bound didn’t lead a life of idle beauty but rather served a crucial economic purpose, especially in the countryside, where girls as young as 7 weaved, spun and did work by hand, Bossen said.
        Foot-binding persisted for so long because it had a clear economic rationale: It was a way to make sure young girls sat still and helped make goods like yarn, cloth, mats, shoes and fishing nets that families depended upon for income — even if the girls themselves were told it would make them more marriageable.
        Bossen says women weren’t shy about talking about or showing their bound feet, making her skeptical that it was an erotically charged fetish.

        ‘Distortion of history’

        “You have to link hands and feet. Footbound women did valuable handwork at home in cottage industries. The image of them as idle sexual trophies is a grave distortion of history,” said Bossen.
        Foot-binding persisted because it ensured that young girls sat still and worked at a boring, sedentary task for many hours each day, she said, and it died out only when manufactured cloth and foreign imports eliminated the economic value of handwork.
        Bossen, professor emerita of anthropology at McGill University in Montreal, and Hill Gates, who holds the same post at Central Michigan University, interviewed just under 1,800 elderly women in several locations across rural China — the last generation to have bound feet — to pinpoint when and why the practice began to decline.
        They found that foot-binding endured longest in areas where it still made economic sense to produce goods like cloth at home and began to decline only when cheaper factory-made alternatives became available in these regions.

        Lessons for fight against genital cutting?

        Bossen said her research offers lessons for the modern fight against other customs that are damaging to women and girls — such as female genital mutilation, or FGM.
        Some academics like Gerry Mackie and Kwame Anthony Appiah have drawn lessons about the eradication of foot-binding and tried to apply them to genital cutting. They believe FGM could be eradicated by educational campaigns and forming groups to explain the damage done by the practice.
        But Bossen said they might be drawn to the wrong course of action.Her research suggests it was economic factors not campaigns waged by religious groups and reformers that ultimately sounded the death knell for bound feet.
        “It’s harder to see an economic side to (genital cutting),” she said. “But you cannot look at foot-binding and conclude that an ideological campaign will be effective.”

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/21/health/china-foot-binding-new-theory/index.html

        The bizarre naming trends that modern startups follow

        Startups put great effort into finding the perfect name. Ideally, it should be short, memorable, descriptive, and easy to pronounce.

        Names that meet all the criteria are commonly taken, however, so most founders find a compromise. They settle on a creative misspelling, add a word or just string together sounds they like. In the end, the hope is that a well-named startup will have an easier time attracting customers and capital.

        Observing companies founded and funded in the past couple years, its apparent that startups are often thinking along the same lines when it comes to choosing a name. Theyre making reference to hot technologies like AI, opting for two- or three-word names, or simply making up words.

        Were surprised at how many names we can make up that sound like they should be in the dictionary, even if theyre not, says Athol Foden, founder of Brighter Naming, a corporate naming consultancy. Hes also impressed by how many really good names come out of creative combinations of common nouns and verbs.

        We crunched through names of more than 1,000 startups founded in the past two years to look for trends. We narrowed the query to startups that have raised $200,000 or more in an effort to focus on names of companies that secured investment.

        Here is a rundown on some of the recent trends.


        Venture capitalists love artificial intelligence companies lately, and AI is a concise, universally recognized abbreviation. So its not surprising to see funded startups cropping up with AI in their names. We counted at least 23 funded companies founded in the past two years that have AI in their names.

        By far the biggest funding recipient with an AI name is Argo AI, a startup in the ultra-hot autonomous vehicle space that secured a $1 billion investment from Ford in February. Other sizeable rounds went to Aidoc, a provider of AI-powered medical imaging tools for radiologists, and Rulai, which incorporates AI into customer experience software.


        You might think it would be natural for a robotics company to call itself one. Looking at companies in the space that raised funding recently, thats clearly the trend. Crunchbase records show at least ten companies founded and funded in the past two years with robotics or robot in their names.

        But in previous investment cycles, when the industry was less in vogue with venture capitalists, many companies chose names that didnt reveal their robotics focus. One of the most prominent was Kiva Systems, a developer of robot technology for warehouses that Amazon bought for $775 million five years ago. Others include Harvest Automation and Blue River Technology. Of course, there are also some older companies, such as Roomba-maker iRobot, that chose names reflecting their robotics roots.

        First names

        Giving companies a human first name isnt a new thing in startup circles. Perhaps the best-known startup in this category is Oscar, a four-year-old health insurance company that has raised over $700 million. Lynda.com, an online learning provider that sold to LinkedIn two years ago for $1.5 billion, also follows the first name trend. Perhaps Oscar, Lynda, and, more recently, Viv, served as an inspiration to others.

        In the past two years, weve seen Albert, Lucy, Ollie, Penny, Pearl, Riley, and Yoshi crop up, among others. Extra points go to Aiden, an AI-powered tool for marketers, for scoring a brand that includes both an AI reference and a popular first name.

        Food names for tech companies

        Apple did pretty well with this strategy. Now others are hoping itll work for them. Were seeing a number of tech startups turning to the grocery shelves for naming ideas in the past couple years. From the dairy aisle, we have Butter.ai, a digital personal assistant, and Cheddar, an online financial news network that closed a $19 million round this week. Representing the produce section, theres Plum, an online saving tool. And from the bakery, we have Bagel Labs, developer of a smart tape measure, and Donut Media, a startup targeting auto enthusiasts.


        Is your dream startup name taken? No worries. Just delete the i and replace it with a y, change that c to a k, or try a different vowel. Those are some popular techniques in creative misspelling that startups are using to secure names that sound like common words. Names featuring a y in place of I include Mylestone and Shyft Technologies. For the c and k switcheroo, theres Kustomer and Kard. For other catchy typo names, see our list here.

        In konclusion

        As Foden told Crunchbase News, founders creativity has allowed for a much wider array of catchy startup names than even naming professionals would have thought possible. Hed predicted a few years ago that startups would turn to obscure foreign languages for names; instead. they are still mostly using their native tongues.

        Startups have also managed to stretch out the name supply by going with two words, Usually, the first name is the brand and the second indicates sector.

        But according to Foden, the two-word naming trend is likely temporary for founders with big ambitions. Once a company passes the $100 billion valuation mark, its common to drop the second word. No one calls Cisco Systems anything but Cisco anymore. And as for Apple, most young people probably dont even remember that it used to be Apple Computer.

        Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/20/the-bizarre-naming-trends-that-modern-startups-follow/

        People Are Totally Clueless About What ‘Natural’ Food Labels Mean

        There’s a good chance the word “natural” doesn’t mean what you think it does.

        At least not when you find it on food packaging. A substantial chunk of the population has at least some misconceptions about what the term means on food labels, according to a recent survey by Consumer Reports.

        Out of 1,005 respondents, 63 percent believed that the “natural” label meant a packaged food was produced without pesticides, 62 percent believed it meant the product contained no artificial ingredients, and 60 percent believed it meant a product was free of genetically modified organisms (GMO).

        When it comes to meat and poultry, 64 percent of survey-takers thought it meant the animals were raised without artificial growth hormones, 57 percent thought it meant they were raised without antibiotics or other drugs, and 50 percent believed it meant the animals “went outdoors.”

        While we didn’t analyze Consumer Reports’ statistical methods, it seems safe to say that a good number of people are less than clear on how natural these “natural” foods really are.

        In fact, the word has no official, legal definition in the United States. The FDA website explicitly states that the agency “has not developed a definition for the use of the term.”

        David Stewart via Getty Images
        It’s true.

        What the FDA does have is a “longstanding policy” that they “consider” the word to mean that “nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food.” The policy means that this is the criteria the FDA may use to determine whether a “natural” label is misleading or not, if it’s brought to their attention. (The FDA does not pre-approve food labels.)

        Note that the current definition has nothing to do with pesticides, artificial growth hormones, GMOs or animal welfare.

        And as Consumer Reports points out, there are plenty of products out there with the “natural” label that don’t seem to fit even the FDA’s informal definition.

        But the lack of regulations around the “natural” label could change. In response to demands that the word have some official, formal meaning, the FDA is soliciting feedback from the public on what they think it should designate on food labels. Find out how to submit a comment here. 

        Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/01/27/natural-food-label-meaning_n_9092430.html

        Tips for dealing with a toddler and also Donald Trump

        President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
        Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

        Donald Trump is a man whose behavior follows the whim of his impulses and tantrums, much like a toddler, and the world is scrambling to accommodate it.

        Officials in the White House and from governments around the globe have tailored aspects of governance to the new president to fit his notoriously short attention span and need for praise.

        While most toddlers don’t have access to the nuclear codes, the advice for dealing with the president can also work for your kids at home.

        Please keep your speeches really brief

        Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

        The president’s attention span is not known for being long, and NATO officials are telling leaders around the globe to tighten their speeches to 2-4 minutes, lest the president’s mind wander, according to Foreign Policy.

        Make sure you tell him how well he’s doing


        Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

        As president, Trump is often briefed on matters of national security. But Trump doesn’t much like to read, so National Security Council folks have had to take creative approaches to getting Trump to finish their briefings.

        Something they’ve found that works? Mentioning his name in “as many paragraphs as we can,” one source told Reuters.

        Remember, he doesn’t understand some things

        Image: Peter Brooker/REX/Shutterstock

        White House officials have tried many times and in many different ways to defend the president’s disclosure of classified information to Russian politicians during a meeting at the White House earlier this month.

        What several of them did not say publicly but did anonymously tell The New York Times is that Trump couldn’t have divulged the ways and means of the U.S. intelligence-gathering processes because the president never bothered to learn them.

        Just keep him happy with ice cream

        Image: andrew Gombert/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

        When desert is some pie with a side of ice cream, everyone gets a single scoop. Unless you’re the president, in which case you get twice as many scoops.

        Remember, if the worst capitulation you agree to is ice cream, you’re probably doing fine.

        Speak soothingly

        Image: Jim Cole/AP/REX/Shutterstock

        When Trump is upset, he has his friends speak soothing sounds to him over the phone. Those friends include Fox News Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch, Fox News anchor Sean Hannity, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and a few billionaires. Richer friends/parents than a toddler is likely to have, but you get the idea.

        Bonus: Truck photos

        Remember that time Trump hopped inside a truck and smushed his face “into an excited scream” for the cameras?

        Trump gets in the driver’s seat of an 18-wheeler while meeting with truck drivers and trucking CEOs.

        Image: jim LO SCALZO/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

        Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/20/donald-trump-toddler/

        This radical video by Shonda Rhimes and Dove is what unapologetic body positivity is all about

        Fat girls dance.

        That three word statement may seem simple and declarative. Yet, the assertion that fat girls do dance challenges a ton of assumptions and stigma around what plus-size people can and can’t do.

        Cathleen Meredith, a self-proclaimed “fat girl,” knows the importance of dancing while people are watching. Meredith is the subject of the first video in an anticipated partnership between acclaimed producer Shonda Rhimes and Dove, called Dove Real Beauty Productions. The series spotlights real women redefining beauty and Meredith is no doubt doing just that through her brainchild Fat Girls Dance.

        The video racked up over 1.5 million views in less than two days, exposing countless people across social media to Meredith’s story of self-acceptance. A shortened version of the video also appeared as an ad during the season finales of Rhime’s shows Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy on May 18.

        Meredith started Fat Girls Dance in August 2016, pledging to post a video of fat girls dancing every single week for a year. Meredith calls the choreographed dance series a “radical act of fearlessness.” Her mission through Fat Girls Dance was to bring more visibility to the joy of plus-size women, and challenge ideas that fat women aren’t active, talented, or sexy.

        “I had always loved myself and always thought that Cathleen was dope. But I didn’t think that Cathleen’s body was dope.”

        Her story is one of resilience and radical body positivity, challenging a society rampant with fatphobia and bias to see the beauty in women like her.

        “I think there is a negative connotation with the word fat,” Meredith says in the video. “But I never saw it as something negative, just something that I was. And I was not negative. I was awesome.”

        But the year-long Fat Girls Dance campaign not only ended up challenging society’s views of fat bodies. Meredith says the watching herself dance on video began to challenge bias toward her body that she didn’t even known she had.

        “When you’re dancing on a video and then you see it, you’re like, ‘Oh god, I am fat,'” she says in the Dove video. “And it’s very strange ’cause you knew you were fat. But you didn’t see it the way you see it on camera.”

        Meredith says looking at herself over and over again in Fat Girls Dance videos helped her truly love her body, realizing its ability and power. Through that self-reflection and self-acceptance, she was able to truly embody a motto of Curvy. Confident. Conqueror.

        “I didn’t know that it was a love affair I had been missing my entire life,” she says. “I had always loved myself and always thought that Cathleen was dope. But I didn’t think that Cathleen’s body was dope.”

        That deep self-love is a lesson Cathleen wants to help spread to other plus-size women who are constantly told their bodies are not good enough. And she hopes to do that through Fat Girls Dance.

        “If I could give that to every fat chick I ever met, then that would be worth it,” she says.

        This thoughtful video on radical body positivity comes at a good time for Dove. The brand was recently criticized by some body positive activists for trivializing and capitalizing the movement by their body wash bottles reflect different body sizes for a campaign.

        Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/20/dove-video-fat-girls-dance-shonda-rhimes/

        Health Check: What Controls Our Sex Drive? When And Why Do We Feel Like Sex?

        The Conversation

        Sexual desire can change from moment to moment. One minute youre feeling frisky, and the next you just feel like a cup of tea and a nap.

        Even though sexual desire is exciting and pretty important in terms of how we ended up here, research on when and why we experience sexual desire is limited.

        Our research seeks to shed some light on the nature of sexual desire; how it differs between people and within the same person.

        Do men have a stronger sex drive?

        Are men hot-blooded, sex-driven creatures that think about sex every seven seconds? Not quite. Men do think about sex more than women (34 times compared to 19 times a day so about every 1,700 seconds), but men also think about food and sleep more than women. So, men are needs-driven creatures, not sex-driven per se.

        It should also be noted women are far from sexless creatures, around 20 separate sexual thoughts per day is well over one per waking hour.

        Do we desire sex less as we age?

        Age is another thing we might think has a big effect on sexual desire. A study of adults aged 18-59 found as we get older we are more prone to sexual dysfunctions. For example, older men are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction and older women are more likely to experience difficulty lubricating, which can lead to vaginismus (pain during sex).

        However, ageing is not necessarily associated with a decrease in sexual desire. Two national surveys of Finnish adults aged 18-74 and 18-81 found once a number of other factors were accounted for, including sexual functioning, attitudes towards sex, and relationship closeness, ageing had no effect on sexual desire.

        Ageing was, however, related to having sex less often, even after controlling for these factors. So perhaps older people feel just as frisky as they did when they were in their 20s, but, for whatever reason, they are less likely to engage in sex.

        Does a high sex drive mean better sex?

        Sexual desire, unsurprisingly, is important for our relationship and sexual satisfaction. In one study focusing on couples, they found the more people experienced sexual desire throughout the day, the better their sex lives.

        The important point here is that we shouldnt switch off sexually during the day a healthy fantasy life that boosts our desire outside the bedroom could lead to a better time once the bedroom door is closed and the action begins.

        Feeling like sex versus feeling like a nap

        When it comes to what factors control sexual desire, hormones are important to consider. For men, as levels of testosterone increase, sexual desire is also likely to rise. For women, however, the effect of testosterone and other hormones on desire is less clear.

        There is some evidence womens sexual desire changes at different stages of their ovulatory cycle. One study found that as levels of testosterone increased (mostly during the time around ovulation: days 12-15), women engaged in more sexual activity.

        This association was stronger among women not in a relationship compared to women with a partner. Hence, womens hormones do appear to play some role in controlling sexual desire, and this effect may be especially strong among single women.

        A common belief is that the contraceptive pill diminishes womens libido. However, a review of existing research found no consistent effect of the pill on womens libido; most women experienced no change in libido as a result of taking the pill, some experienced a slight increase, and others a slight decrease.

        But what about psychological and environmental factors? Does desire change depending on who were with? Does it change depending on how we feel about our bodies, or stress, or alcohol consumption? These questions are yet to be tested, so at present, the impact of daily life on sexual arousal remains largely a mystery.

        If you would like to find out when and why your sexual desire changes, please click here to participate in our study.

        The ConversationEmily Harris, PhD Candidate in the School of Psychology, The University of Queensland; Fiona Barlow, , Griffith University, and Matthew Hornsey, Professor, School of Psychology, University of Queensland

        This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

        Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/health-check-what-controls-our-sex-drive-when-and-why-do-we-feel-like-sex/

        Fentanyl seized by law enforcement doubled in 2016, DEA says

        (CNN)The United States is seeing a dramatic increase in drugs containing fentanyl, newly released data from the Drug Enforcement Administration shows.

        From 2015 to 2016, more than twice as many drugs seized by law enforcement agencies and submitted to labs have tested positive for fentanyl, in what appears to be an escalating trend.
        The National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS), a program of the DEA, points to a drastic surge of lab submissions that tested positive for fentanyl — going from 15,209 in 2015 to 31,700 in 2016.
          In addition, lab testing of fentanyl analogues — drugs with close structural resemblance and similar effects to fentanyl — went from 2,230 in 2015 to 4,782 in 2016.
          “Drug use today has become a game of Russian roulette. There’s no such thing as a safe batch, this is the opioid crisis at its worst,” DEA spokesman Rusty Payne told CNN.
          Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid typically prescribed to treat patients with severe pain, is approximately 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine, according to the NFLIS.
          Last year, the country lost more than 52,000 Americans to drug overdose — more than 33,000 of those from opioids, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. It means more people die from opioid-related causes than from gun homicides and traffic fatalities — combined, the DEA states.
          Fentanyl reports remained fairly steady between 2003-2013, until sharp increases occurred beginning in 2014 through 2016, particularly noticeable in the Northeast and Midwest.
          “Drug addicts know they are taking fentanyl at times, and know it can kill them, but are willing to take the risk,” Payne said, adding that Chinese labs that manufacture the substances are trying to stay ahead of law enforcement using chemistry advances, tweaking the chemical structure to create a slightly different analogue.
          Payne also pointed at “a tremendous opioid demand in this country” that pushes Mexican drug cartels to add pure fentanyl to heroin batches, creating hundreds of thousands of dosage units. According to DEA reports, Mexico continues to supply up to 85-90% of the domestic heroin market.
          The DEA is working hard on education, enforcement and prevention to battle the crisis, Payne said, but added it is a vicious cycle that is eventually up to the community to end. “The next generation has to be better. We need to make sure people don’t ever start,” he said.

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/19/health/fentanyl-surge/index.html

          Why Food Manufacturers Can Define Their Own Versions Of ‘All-Natural’

          If a label on a food product reads, “all-natural,” it must be all-natural, right?

          If a juice box is labeled, “Made with all-natural ingredients,” it’s 100 percent natural, correct?


          When I hear the word “natural,” I automatically think “made in the original form.”

          The exact definition of natural is “existing in or caused by nature.”

          Alright, that’s simple enough.

          The Grand Canyon is natural. Going make-up free means going natural. Solar energy is natural.

          But what does “natural” food really entail?

          It’s a trick question because no one knows.

          Comforting, right?

          The government does not have a legitimate definition for “natural food.” This givesmanufacturers the ability to create their own meaning of the word.

          Natural food should define food that is undisturbed, uninterrupted and created and maintained on its own.

          It should not contain chemicals, pesticides or artificial flavors.

          How can manufacturers call themselves a word that hasn’t even been defined?

          “All-natural” chips could actually just mean, “Hey, it all started from a potato.”

          Yes, but the potato did not naturally contain peanut oil, corn starch, garlic powder or yeast extract.

          The FDA considers foods with no artificial or synthetic ingredients to be natural.

          However, this does not cover production or manufacturing methods.

          Different manufacturers use different modifications for the leave-it-up-to-you definition.

          In most cases, “natural flavoring”is replacing the actual “natural” product.“Natural flavor” is the fourth most common ingredient on a list of over 800,000 ingredients.

          Grape juice can be labeled “natural” because a grape is a natural fruit.

          But, most manufacturers substitute the real fruit for a scientifically created flavor to reduce costs.

          Fruit flavoring and fruit are two different things. Just because it tastes like a natural fruit does not mean it is natural.

          These misleading food labels make it difficult for a consumer to know what he or she is getting.

          Don’t we deserve to know what we’re putting into our bodies?

          Sure, food labels exist, but unless you’re familiar with words like “maltodextrin,” you’re probably going to be easily influenced by the word “natural.”

          Many consumers are tricked every day by these “natural” brands we’ve come to love.

          Here are five “all-natural” foods and beverages that are anything but:

          1. Bottled Teas

          Many bottled iced teascontain more than just their “natural” promises.

          High levels of fructose corn syrup replace real sugar.

          Flavored teas aren’t coming from squeezed fruit. Instead, they are using “fruit flavoring” or “natural flavors.”

          Why? Because it’s cheaper.

          2. Yogurt

          Natural and artificial flavoring make up a lot of packaged yogurts.

          Unless the yogurt is organic, the dairy most likely came from a cow pumped full ofchemicals and growth hormones.

          Why? One cow can’t provide everythingnecessary in anatural way.

          3. Juice

          Bottled juices don’t contain real fruits and natural sugars like we are told.

          Naked Juice was sued for$9 million for containing many synthetic ingredients that are not, in fact, “all-natural.”

          4. Chocolate-Flavored Cookies

          The key word here is “flavored.”

          This is not real chocolate made from cocoa beans, but flavored chocolate that contains several artificial ingredients that cheaply replace cocoa beans.

          5. Cheese

          The “100 percent natural” promise doesn’t mention the fact the dairy coming from the cow was shot up with chemicals and growth hormones.

          Just because it’s coming from a cow, that doesn’t make it natural.

          The cow ingesting the chemicals is producing unnatural dairy.

          Basically, our most “natural” foods are being recreated.

          Fruits are grown with the chemicals, and sugars are added to smoothies, yogurts, cereal and granola bars.

          Dairy is coming from cows that are overloaded with chemicals and hormones.

          Manufacturers don’t want to provide us with the healthiest, cleanest ingredients. They want to provide us with the cheapest ingredients.

          In the mean time, our bodies are being deprived of what we need.

          Don’t trust food labels and “all-natural” claims.

          Why? Because there is no definition for that word.

          Read more: http://elitedaily.com/wellness/all-natural-food-labels/1357913/

          Who gets hurt by GOP’s ‘pro-life’ hypocrisy

          (CNN)What does it mean to be pro-life? In today’s GOP, one thing: restricting access to safe abortion.

          Even if this doesn’t actually decrease the number of abortions, but just makes them more dangerous. Even if it means women and their children remain poor and vulnerable. Even if it means cutting off other necessary health care and aid. Even if it means women are injured. Even if it means women and babies die.
          It’s the “pro-life” performance that matters more than actual lives.
            Case in point: Republicans in Texas are now begging for the Medicaid dollars they gave up in order to defund Planned Parenthood four years ago.
            Should the Trump administration give Texas the Medicaid money it wants, it will open the door for other states to defund Planned Parenthood, too, a favorite cause of the anti-abortion right.
            Never mind that Planned Parenthood primarily prevents the unintended pregnancies that often end in abortion by providing affordable (and often free) contraception to women in need. Never mind the HIV and STI tests and the cancer screenings Planned Parenthood provides, and that there are many women for whom Planned Parenthood is the closest high-quality provider of health care.

              Women of faith and their abortions

            In the name of being “pro-life,” Texas Republicans cut those women off from the care they trust. And not just them — to punish Planned Parenthood for offering a legal medical procedure (and not a dollar of Medicaid or other federal funds pays for elective abortions), Texas Republicans were happy to refuse millions of Medicaid dollars to care for the poorest women in their state.
            This is in a state where 27% of births are funded by Medicaid — a number that rose after Texas defunded Planned Parenthood and poor women found it more challenging to access contraception and legal abortion.
            This bizarre definition of “pro-life” extends overseas, too. In what is largely seen as a gift to his anti-abortion base, Trump expanded the Gag Rule, and this week his State Department broadened the order, which strips US funds from any organization abroad that so much as mentions abortion as an option for women — even groups that don’t provide abortions at all but simply tell women their legal rights.
            Under previous Republican presidents, the Gag Rule applied only to family planning funds (about $600 million under George W. Bush). Now it applies to $8.8 billion in US global health funding, including programs for HIV and malaria. Because American dollars have been barred from funding abortions since the 1970s, none of the funding subject to this rule was paying for abortions in the first place.
            Studies of the Gag Rule have shown that it doesn’t actually decrease abortions, but because it does cut off access to contraception, it actually makes abortion rates go up. Who knows what will happen when the rule cuts off access to HIV drugs or vaccines.
            I’ve reported on the Global Gag Rule from Ghana, one of the countries hit hardest by Bush’s version of the rule. What most pro-lifers in America don’t seem to realize — or don’t care about — is that the health systems in developing countries are fragile and still being built, often in places that have seen recent conflict, and where there are low levels of public trust and long histories of trauma.

              Donald Trump’s evolving stance on abortion

            Many millions of people still lack access to basic health care, usually because of poverty or lack of proximity to a clinic. Health providers have done their best to centralize care, so a person can get contraception, HIV treatment, malaria pills and vaccinations from a single clinic or a mobile midwife going door to door in the village. And they’ve tried to build trust in that system. The Gag Rule undermines all of that.
            Trump also froze funding to UNFPA, a group that doesn’t provide abortions but does provide education and contraception. In Niger, where women have an average of seven children apiece, UNFPA works where few others do: The group runs “husband schools” to help educate men about getting their children in school, being respectful of their wives and spacing pregnancies so their wives and babies don’t die.
            In Nigeria, UNFPA is in refugee camps, tending to girls who have been kidnapped, raped and often impregnated by Boko Haram militants. But despite caring for so many rape victims, a UNFPA spokeswoman told me last year, they don’t offer abortions.

            Join us on Twitter and Facebook

            Women around the world, from Texas to Tanzania, being cut off from modern family-planning tools. Children in some of the world’s poorest corners losing their vaccinations and malaria medicine. People with HIV finding that the local NGO delivering their medicine must shutter for lack of funds. Health care providers forced to lie to their patients, and women doing what desperate women have always done — taking matters in to their own hands, and sometimes not living to tell about it.
            This is pro-life?

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/19/opinions/gop-pro-life-hypocrisy-filipovic/index.html

            Peter Dutton’s office tells Canadian-Australian: ‘go back to US and deal with Trump’

            Doug Stetner, who has represented Australia in underwater rugby, called Duttons office to voice support for asylum seekers

            A Canadian-born Australian citizen who called Peter Duttons Brisbane office to voice opposition to treatment of asylum seekers says an electorate officer told him to go back to the United States then and deal with Trump.

            Doug Stetner, an Australian citizen for 21 years, who represented the national mens team at the 2015 underwater rugby world cup in Colombia, said the response from the immigration ministers staffer was both offensive and comical.

            Basically, go back to where you come from. I felt like I was talking to Pauline Hansons party. It was very disappointing, Stetner said.

            The Brisbane resident, who has been eligible to vote in the last eight federal elections, said he decided to contact his local MP Ross Vasta after reading of revelations of the strategic worsening of conditions for Nauru and Manus Island detainees.

            But Vastas office did not pick up, so Stetner decided to contact the immigration ministers electorate office in Strathpine. He said a male staffer fielded the call.

            Stetner, 55, a university computer systems administrator, said he was polite but firm. Basically I said I disagreed with the way they were handling things over there [on Nauru and Manus Island] and they should bring all of these people back to Australia until they can determine whats going to go on with them.

            Douglas Stetner (front, left) and his colleagues in the Australian underwater rugby team. Photograph: Douglas Stetner

            He said the staffer told him he did not know what it was like in the detention centres as reporters are not telling you whats real.

            I said, If you let the reporters in there, we might get whats real, but theyre blocking the media so you just get to a point where you dont trust the government on anything theyre saying, Stetner said.

            Stetner told the electorate officer it made him embarrassed or ashamed to be an Australian to see this going on in Australian-run detention centres. And then he came out with, Well, why dont you just go back to the US then and deal with Trump?

            I was a bit surprised by that. I said I was an Australian citizen and Canadian, not American. Anyway, they represent us and all I can do is call them and tell them this is what Im thinking.

            Guardian Australia twice contacted Duttons electorate office to seek the staffers account of the conversation. Two male staffers who answered calls denied having a conversation with Stetner.

            Neither the office, nor Duttons ministerial media spokesman, also contacted by Guardian Australia, provided a response.

            Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/may/20/peter-duttons-office-tells-canadian-australian-go-back-to-us-and-deal-with-trump

            China’s ‘war on law’: victims’ wives tell US Congress of torture and trauma

            Women whose husbands were targets of Communist party crackdown on human rights lawyers call for US sanctions

            The wives of some of the most prominent victims of Xi Jinpings crackdown on civil society have stepped up their campaign for justice, backing calls for US sanctions against Chinese officials involved in allegedly barbaric cases of torture and abuse.

            Addressing a congressional hearing in Washington on Thursday, the women, whose husbands were among the key targets of a Communist party offensive against human rights lawyers, detailed the physical and psychological trauma inflicted by Chinas so-called war on law.

            Chen Guiqiu, who fled to the United States in March, told of how her husband, the attorney Xie Yang, had been imprisoned and brutally tortured because of his work defending victims of land grabs, religious persecution and dissidents.

            She described her husbands ordeal as an example of Chinas lawlessness and claimed that at his recent trial Xie had been forced to refute detailed claims that he had been the victim of sustained and brutal campaign of torture.

            Wang Yanfeng, the wife of Tang Jingling, a lawyer and democracy activist who was jailed in 2016 in what campaigners described as a gross injustice, said her husband had suffered repeated spells of abuse, threats and torture. Today other [lawyers and political prisoners] are still suffering from such torture, Wang said, calling on US president Donald Trump to challenge China over such abuses.

            In a video message, Li Wenzu, the wife of lawyer Wang Quanzhang, said she had heard nothing from him since he was seized by police at the start of the campaign against lawyers in July 2015. I am deeply concerned about my husbands safety. I dont know how his health is. I dont know whether he has been left disabled by the torture. I dont even know whether he is alive.

            Wang Qiaoling, whose husband, Li Heping, recently emerged from a 22-month stint in custody, said he returned home looking 20 years older and had told of being forced to sit for hours in stress positions and being shackled with chains. He suffered from very cruel and sick torture, Wang added.

            Also giving testimony was Lee Chin-yu, whose husband, the Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che, vanished into Chinese custody in March after travelling to the mainland. I stand alone before you today to plead for your help for my husband, Lee said, calling on Washington to pressure China to end her husbands illegitimate detention.

            Since Chinas crackdown on lawyers began almost two years ago, its victims wives have emerged as a relentless and forceful voice of opposition, often using humorous online videos and public performances to champion their cause. They say they have done so in defiance of a campaign of state-sponsored intimidation that has seen them trailed by undercover agents, struggle to enrol their children into schools or be evicted from their homes.

            Terry Halliday, the author of a book about Chinas human rights lawyers, said the lawyers wives had opened up a new line of struggle that we have not seen before in China.

            These women have become a very powerful and visible public presence both of criticism of the government, of appeals for the release of their loved-ones but also impugning China in the eyes of the world. It is remarkable.

            Its a whole new front, Halliday added. It is not so easy for the government to silence wives and daughters.

            Thursdays hearing was part of a push by human rights groups to convince the Trump administration to use a law called the Magnitsky Act to bring sanctions such as travel bans or property seizures against Chinese officials involved in human rights abuses.

            We should be seeking to hold accountable any Chinese officials complicit in torture, human rights abuses and illegal detentions, said Chris Smith, the Republican congressman who chaired the session and said he was compiling a list of potential targets.

            Smith said he hoped such action could help end the shocking, offensive, immoral, barbaric and inhumane treatment of Chinese activists that has accelerated since Xi Jinping took power in 2012.

            While President Xi Jinping feels feted at Davos and lauded in national capitals for his public commitments to openness, his government is torturing and abusing those seeking rights guaranteed by Chinas own constitution, Smith said.

            China has rejected claims of torture against the human rights lawyers it has imprisoned, dismissing such allegations as fake news.

            Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/19/chinas-war-on-law-victims-wives-tell-us-congress-of-torture-and-trauma

            Superbug C. auris identified in 122 people across 7 states, CDC says

            (CNN)The number of cases of an emerging and often multidrug-resistant fungus in the United States has grown from seven to 122 over the past nine months, according to a field report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report issued Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

            The fungus, Candida auris, can cause severe illness with high mortality, especially among high-risk patients, including those in intensive care units, those with a central venous catheter and those who have received antibiotics or antifungal medications.
            “It seems to affect the sickest of the sick patients, particularly those in hospitals and nursing homes with other medical problems,” said Sharon Tsay, lead author and an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the CDC.
              A total of 77 US clinical (in hospitals) cases of C. auris were reported in seven states. After the patients’ close contacts were screened, an additional 45 cases were identified, resulting in 122 US patients with the fungal infection as of May 12. Among the 77 clinical cases, the patients’ average age was 70, and more than half, 55%, were men.
              None of the infections reported in the US was resistant to all available antifungals, Tsay said.
              Paige Armstrong, an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer for the CDC, said the multidrug-resistant fungus has been causing outbreaks in health care facilities worldwide.
              “This is a fungus that’s acting a lot like some super bacteria that we’ve seen previously,” she said.

              ‘Very concerning’

              The CDC issued its first alert in June of last year, telling US hospitals to be aware of this fungus based on reports of spreading infections in health care facilities around the world.
              The clinical cases, all identified through cultures taken as part of routine patient care, occurred in New York (53 cases), New Jersey (16), Illinois (four) and one each in Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and Oklahoma.
              The patients who were identified by screening because they were contacts of the initial cases, though colonized with the fungus, do not show any symptoms of an infection. Most of these people were patients on the same ward in health care facilities.
              “Most cases of C. auris that have been reported have been from the blood,” Tsay wrote in an email, though she noted that it has also been seen in urine, the respiratory tract, wounds, bile fluid and the ear.
              “The fact that it has been found in other sites may also reflect its ability to persist on a patient’s body and be spread in the environment around them — one of (the) reasons that C. auris is causing outbreaks,” Tsay said.
              First identified in Japan in 2009, C. auris has now been named as the cause of reported infections in more than a dozen countries. In August, the CDC described the first seven cases of infection in the US, most dating to the previous year and one in 2013.
              Some strains of C. auris are resistant to all three major classes of antifungal drugs. But most cases that have been seen in the US have been treatable with antifungal drugs.
              Armstrong recently investigated an outbreak in Colombia, working with health authorities there to learn more about how C. auris spreads.
              The fact that this fungus is showing resistance to the existing three classes of antifungal drugs, “leaving no medication to treat” patients, is “obviously very concerning,” Armstrong said. Multidrug resistance has not been seen in other species of Candida.
              “The fact that it’s causing outbreaks in hospitals and other health care settings (is) something we typically don’t see with fungus,” Armstrong said.
              Another concern is that testing of patients’ rooms identified C. auris on mattresses, beds, windowsills, chairs, infusion pumps and countertops. This ability to linger on the surfaces of health care environments and spread between patients is unlike most of the other 20 species of Candida that cause infections in humans.

              Invasive infections

              “Typically, fungus and particularly candida species are commensal organisms or organisms that live within us, that live within our guts,” Armstrong said.
              Infections can occur due to overgrowth, known as candidiasis. If it develops in the mouth or throat, it is called thrush. If it develops in the vagina, it is commonly referred to as a yeast infection. And if the Candida species enters the bloodstream and spreads through the body, this is an invasive candidiasis.
              It is possible, though not likely, for an invasive infection to occur at times of surgery, prolonged hospitalization, an ICU stay or while taking a high number of antibiotics, Armstrong said.
              “With C. auris, we’re actually seeing this happen,” she said, and not only among high-risk people.
              “We’re also seeing it in some patients that don’t always fit all those characteristics, and then additionally, we’re seeing it spread from person to person or the environment to people, and that’s kind of the impetus for the reason why it’s causing these outbreaks.”
              “The reason this is happening, the reason it’s causing outbreaks, is because it’s colonizing the skin at levels we don’t typically see with most other species of Candida,” Armstrong said.
              Nicole Kirgan, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Health, said it is tracking cases throughout the state, performing ongoing investigations at some health care facilities, while working with the CDC and remaining “in close correspondence” with New York state.
              “Risk factors include recent surgery, diabetes, broad-spectrum antibiotic and antifungal use (broad-spectrum means they protect against a wide variety of bacteria or fungus), and central venous catheter use,” Kirgan wrote in an email.
              “Infections have been found in patients of all ages, from pre-term infants to the elderly,” she said. “The majority of patients identified with C. auris infections have had weakened immune systems.”
              Cases in New York have been concentrated among hospital patients and nursing home residents in the New York City area, with a single patient in Rochester who’d been treated in a New York City facility, according to a statewide health advisory issued May 5 by New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.
              Among New York state’s 71 total cases — 53 clinical cases, with an additional 18 screening cases — 20 deaths have occurred as of May 5. Since all the patients had serious underlying medical conditions, it is difficult to attribute any deaths specifically to C. auris.
              “It is important for New Yorkers to understand C. auris poses no risk to the general public,” Zucker said. “C. auris is an opportunistic infection which primarily impacts patients who are already ill for other reasons.”

              Origins and prevention

              Armstrong said that “whether or not it started in one place and spread to other countries” is of interest to the CDC, which used whole genome sequencing to determine the origins of the fungus causing infections in US patients. Based on the gene data, CDC scientists say, the fungus didn’t “look like it started in one place and moved around.”
              “There are four different families or groups that emerged simultaneously … and independently,” Armstrong said.
              Fungus samples in each state were highly related, the new CDC report indicates. All the New York cases, with one exception (plus a related screening case), came from the same genetic group as samples from South Asia. Though distinct from samples in New York, the New Jersey fungal infections were also related to those found in South Asia. Illinois cases showed a relationship to those found in South America.
              “Resistance has also varied within those groups. We don’t think it’s necessarily spreading around the world, so to speak, but at the same time, when it does emerge somewhere, there’s obviously concern that it will spread within the health care facilities or person to person,” Armstrong said.

              See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

              Prevention is often a matter of good infection control and standard precautions, including good hand washing and hygiene, and personal protective equipment.
              After a thorough cleaning with a sodium hypochlorite-based disinfectant, the fungus could not be found in the rooms of patients infected with C. auris.
              “C. auris is still relatively rare in the United States and CDC is working hard to contain its spread,” said Tsay, who noted that most people are at low risk of getting infected. “One of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs like C. auris in healthcare settings is good hand hygiene.”

              Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/18/health/c-auris-superbug-cdc-study/index.html

              Popular social media sites ‘harm young people’s mental health’

              Poll of 14- to 24-year-olds shows Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter increased feelings of inadequacy and anxiety

              Four of the five most popular forms of social media harm young peoples mental health, with Instagram the most damaging, according to research by two health organisations.

              Instagram has the most negative impact on young peoples mental wellbeing, a survey of almost 1,500 14- to 24-year-olds found, and the health groups accused it of deepening young peoples feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

              The survey, published on Friday, concluded that Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are also harmful. Among the five only YouTube was judged to have a positive impact.

              The four platforms have a negative effect because they can exacerbate childrens and young peoples body image worries, and worsen bullying, sleep problems and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness, the participants said.

              The findings follow growing concern among politicians, health bodies, doctors, charities and parents about young people suffering harm as a result of sexting, cyberbullying and social media reinforcing feelings of self-loathing and even the risk of them committing suicide.

              Its interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing. Both platforms are very image-focused and it appears that they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people, said Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, which undertook the survey with the Young Health Movement.

              She demanded tough measures to make social media less of a wild west when it comes to young peoples mental health and wellbeing. Social media firms should bring in a pop-up image to warn young people that they have been using it a lot, while Instagram and similar platforms should alert users when photographs of people have been digitally manipulated, Cramer said.

              The 1,479 young people surveyed were asked to rate the impact of the five forms of social media on 14 different criteria of health and wellbeing, including their effect on sleep, anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-identity, bullying, body image and the fear of missing out.

              Instagram emerged with the most negative score. It rated badly for seven of the 14 measures, particularly its impact on sleep, body image and fear of missing out and also for bullying and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness. However, young people cited its upsides too, including self-expression, self-identity and emotional support.

              YouTube scored very badly for its impact on sleep but positively in nine of the 14 categories, notably awareness and understanding of other peoples health experience, self-expression, loneliness, depression and emotional support.

              However, the leader of the UKs psychiatrists said the findings were too simplistic and unfairly blamed social media for the complex reasons why the mental health of so many young people is suffering.

              Prof Sir Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: I am sure that social media plays a role in unhappiness, but it has as many benefits as it does negatives.. We need to teach children how to cope with all aspects of social media good and bad to prepare them for an increasingly digitised world. There is real danger in blaming the medium for the message.

              Young Minds, the charity which Theresa May visited last week on a campaign stop, backed the call for Instagram and other platforms to take further steps to protect young users.

              Tom Madders, its director of campaigns and communications, said: Prompting young people about heavy usage and signposting to support they may need, on a platform that they identify with, could help many young people.

              However, he also urged caution in how content accessed by young people on social media is perceived. Its also important to recognise that simply protecting young people from particular content types can never be the whole solution. We need to support young people so they understand the risks of how they behave online, and are empowered to make sense of and know how to respond to harmful content that slips through filters.

              Parents and mental health experts fear that platforms such as Instagram can make young users feel worried and inadequate by facilitating hostile comments about their appearance or reminding them that they have not been invited to, for example, a party many of their peers are attending.

              May, who has made childrens mental health one of her priorities, highlighted social medias damaging effects in her shared society speech in January, saying: We know that the use of social media brings additional concerns and challenges. In 2014, just over one in 10 young people said that they had experienced cyberbullying by phone or over the internet.

              In February, Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, warned social media and technology firms that they could face sanctions, including through legislation, unless they did more to tackle sexting, cyberbullying and the trolling of young users.

              Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/19/popular-social-media-sites-harm-young-peoples-mental-health

              Someone filled these sausages with herbal viagra

              Sausages don’t ask for much by way of seasoning. A dash of mustard, a splash of ketchup you don’t have to go overboard to make them tasty.

              Except, somebody did go overboard. They put herbal viagra in them.

              UK charity Fathers4Justice which campaigns for equal contact for divorced parents with children is behind the bold move.

              In a YouTube video, Fathers4Justice founder Matt O’Connor explained that the viagra-infused sausages are intended to raise awareness about men’s health issues.

              “The #SaveOurSausages campaign is a humorous way of addressing deadly serious issues surrounding men’s health,” O’Connor said.

              “There is a health crisis in this country,” O’Connor continued, citing male suicide, depression and low testosterone as men’s health issues that aren’t often discussed.

              This isn’t the first time the topic of male suicide has been raised as an overlooked issue. In March of this year, a suicide prevention charity urged men to grow sideburns as part of the ‘Sides of March‘ a month-long even to raise awareness about male suicide the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. In August, celebrities including Ricky Gervais participated in a global social media campaign encouraging men to open up about mental health and suicide.

              The sausages created atThe Butchery in Forest Hill, London are made from free-range rare breed pork from Abergavenny, Wales. The sausages are infused with ginseng, arginine and horny goat weed three natural remedies believed to help with erectile dysfunction.

              O’Connor described the ingredients as necessary to “give the sausage that extra sizzle it needs”.

              All proceeds raised from the sausages will go tomens health organisations, includingveterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, male depression charity Andy’s Man Club and testicular cancer charity Check ‘Em Lads.

              Packs of six sausages are available from The Butchery in Forest Hill, London, for 4.99 ($6.47).

              Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/09/29/sausage-viagra-mens-health/