Della Reese, Music Icon And ‘Touched By An Angel’ Star, Dead At 86

Della Reese, a music legend known for her beloved character on “Touched by an Angel,” has died at the age of 86.

Reese’s costar Roma Downey sent People a statement confirming that Reese had died in her California home on Sunday.

Harry Langdon via Getty Images
Della Reese in 1990

“On behalf of her husband, Franklin Lett, and all her friends and family, I share with you the news that our beloved Della Reese has passed away peacefully at her California home last evening surrounded by love. She was an incredible wife, mother, grandmother, friend, and pastor, as well as an award-winning actress and singer. Through her life and work she touched and inspired the lives of millions of people,” Downey said in the statement.

“She was a mother to me and I had the privilege of working with her side by side for so many years on “Touched By an Angel,” she continued. “I know heaven has a brand new angel this day. Della Reese will be forever in our hearts. Rest In Peace, sweet angel. We love you.”

Downey also shared a version of the statement on Instagram.

Born Delloreese Patricia Early, the star is survived by her husband and four children.

The vocalist, born in Detroit, began performing at just 13 with Mahalia Jackson’s gospel group. Reese later formed her own group, the Meditation Singers, but eventually branched out into a solo jazz career. Reese is best known for her 1957 top 20 hit “And That Reminds Me,” as well as “Not One Minute More,” “And Now” and “Don’t You Know?”

She began her onscreen career in the 1960s when she had guest spots on “The Love Boat,” “Sanford and Son” and “The Young and the Restless.” In 1968, she became the first black woman to co-host “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.” She also hosted a short-lived variety series, “Della.” Her most well-known role, however, was as the heaven-sent angel Tess on “Touched By an Angel.” The show ran from 1994 to 2003.  

Reese experienced a series of health issues throughout her career. In 1979, she had a brain aneurysm during a taping of “The Tonight Show” and went on to have two brain surgeries. In 2002, she collapsed on the set of “Touched by an Angel” and later announced that she had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

A cause of death was not immediately available.

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Woman who flipped off Trump says she was fired for it

Washington (CNN)The woman who gave President Donald Trump’s motorcade the finger in late October is speaking out after she said she was fired for the incident that went viral.

“My finger said what I was feeling,” Briskman said. “I’m angry and I’m frustrated.”
She flipped off the motorcade twice, and after the moment went viral, she told her employer.
    “I thought that it would probably get back to my company eventually,” Briskman said in an interview with CNN’s Jeanne Moos.
    She said she was told she had violated the company’s social media policy, and said the company in turn fired her.
    “I said, ‘Well, that was me,'” Briskman told Moos, recalling her conversation with her former company’s HR representative. Akima LLC did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment, and the White House declined to comment.
    Briskman said she had been at the company for about 6½ months before the incident, and was working in the marketing department.
    She added that she’s “really not” the bird-flipping type.
    “Health care doesn’t pass, but you try to dismantle it from the inside,” Briskman said. “Five-hundred people get shot in Las Vegas; you’re doing nothing about it. You know, white supremacists have this big march and hurt a bunch of people down in Charlottesville and you call them good people.”
    This story has been updated to reflect CNN’s repeated outreach to Akima LLC.

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    A Psychologist Says Early Christmas Music Is Unhealthy

    It turns out that nauseated feeling you get hearing “Jingle Bells” any time other than December isn’t just you. Inappropriate Christmas music is bad for your mental health, at least, according to clinical psychologist (and former exorcism survivor?) Linda Blair. It’s unclear whether there are any actual studies to back up this assertion, or just anecdotal evidence of watching people having mental breakdowns in Starbucks. Blair says the songs remind us to be stressed about the holidays. Okay, fair enough. But I would contend that there are lots of other reminders to start being stressed about the holidays. The relentless holiday marketing begins as soon as the first deciduous leaf falls to the ground.

    “IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START SHOPPING FOR CHRISTMAS,” practically every advertisement bellows, thrusting tinsel and pieces of artificially holly down your throat. “You’re going to have to spend an awful lot of money to gain the love of your family! Better start now or your children will hate you and grow up to be junkies!”

    So even if my ears could somehow be spared from a premature “Feliz Navidad” or two, there’s no escaping the looming omnipresence of the holidays. Already, Target’s website has a tagline on their front page that says, “Get your Christmas decor now. Yule be happy you did.” Christmas music won’t doom us, for we’re already lost.

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    Warning over ‘dangerous’ slimming pills

    Image copyright Science Photo Library
    Image caption In 2016, £3.7m worth of fake slimming pills were seized

    Slimming pills bought online are “potentially dangerous” and can cause serious health problems, says the UK’s medicines watchdog.

    Side-effects can include heart problems, blurred vision and diarrhoea, and some contain banned ingredients.

    The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said people should go to their GP for advice first.

    A survey of 1,800 slimmers found one in three had bought pills online, with two-thirds experiencing side-effects.

    Most of those questioned by the MHRA and Slimming World had bought online because they had wanted to lose weight quickly. About 40% said they had not wanted to speak to a GP or pharmacist.


    Sarah-Jayne Walker, 30, saw diet pills as “a quick fix”, but they gave her palpitations and made her feel faint.

    Image copyright Sarah-Jayne Walker
    Image caption Sarah-Jayne became obsessed with slimming pills before stopping her habit

    She bought the pills online and took them for four months, before realising she had no idea what was in them.

    “The pills came in a little white bottle with no leaflet and no instructions,” she says.

    “Looking back, I think, ‘What was I doing?’

    “I was in a desperate place – my weight had fluctuated for years – and I fell for the promises online.”

    Sarah-Jayne suffered from light-headedness, sickness and irritable bowel syndrome.

    “I knew the pills were affecting my body and I had become dependent on them,” she says.

    The MHRA said people should take medicines only after a consultation with their GP.

    The agency’s #FakeMeds campaign warns buying from websites also increases the risk of being ripped off or having your identity stolen.

    Top tips to avoid fake medicines online

    • Before buying, check if the seller is licensed to sell medicines online, through this checking system
    • “Herbal” or “all-natural” products can still contain chemical ingredients that may have side-effects
    • Contact the MHRA if you have experienced side-effects from a suspected fake product
    • Don’t self-diagnose – a doctor can work out the right treatment for you

    More tips are available here

    MHRA senior policy manager Lynda Scammell said: “Quick fixes for losing weight may have serious health consequences in the short or long term, including organ failure and death.

    “It’s essential you know what you’re buying online and what the risks are.

    “If you don’t, your weight could end up being the least of your worries.”

    Image copyright Science Photo Library

    In 2016, more than 4.6 million fake medical products were seized by the MHRA. The agency also closed down more than 5,000 websites selling medicines illegally.

    In the UK, there are no medicines licensed for slimming, although some are licensed for treating obesity.

    The MHRA said many of the slimming pills seized contained ingredients that could put dieters in danger – such as sibutramine, which has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.

    The agency also seizes other fake products regularly, such as dental equipment, sexually transmitted infection, HIV and pregnancy tests and erectile dysfunction medications.

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    TripAdvisor apologizes for deleting warnings of rape

    Kristie Love's TripAdvisor review on her vacation in Riviera Maya, Mexico was deleted.
    Image: Darren Carroll/Getty ImageS

    TripAdvisor has apologized to a sexual assault survivor after an investigation revealed the website had deleted posts alleging assaults at resorts in Mexico. The belated apology comes seven years after the attack.

    The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shared the story of Kristie Love, who had posted on TripAdvisor about her rape at an Iberostar resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Love said she had her post removed several times. 

    “Since 2010, when the forum post was removed, our policies and processes have evolved to better provide information like this to other travelers. As a result, when recently brought to our attention, the victim’s initial forum post was republished by our staff,” TripAdvisor wrote in a statement. 

    But it wasn’t just Love. The several-month-long investigation revealed more than a dozen travelers had their posts on TripAdvisor removed for similar reasons. In fact, three people reported being sexually assaulted or raped at the same resort in Mexico and subsequently had their TripAdvisor posts deleted. 

    The problem stems from TripAdvisor’s content moderation. Other crowdsourced review sites like Yelp and social networks like Facebook and Twitter face similar problems with deciding what violates their policies. Mistakes are frequently made. TripAdvisor also tries to manage any hearsay, but the policy appears to inconsistently enforced. 

    “To me, it’s like censoring,” Wendy Avery-Swanson told the Journal Sentinel. She had a post about her blacking out from alcohol served at a swim-up bar removed.

    TripAdvisor provided several different reasons at the time for why their reviews were removed. One instance claimed the post contained language or was about a topic that was not “family friendly.” 

    According to TripAdvisor, the site does allow for negative reviews and stories like Love’s and Avery-Swanson’s. Specifically, its interpretation of the family-friendly guidelines has changed since Love’s review was removed in 2010. 

    “We recognized then that our previous guidelines went too far.”

    “At the time, we had a policy whereby we judged content to be in breach of our guidelines if it did not adhere to family friendly language. More than 7 years ago that meant all language needed to be G-rated. … We recognized then that our previous guidelines went too far in preventing information like this from being shared,” a TripAdvisor spokesperson told Mashable in an email.

    “A simple search of TripAdvisor will show numerous reviews from travelers over the last several years who wrote about their first-hand experiences that include matters of robbery or theft, assault and rape,” the spokesperson continued. 

    It’s worth noting that TripAdvisor’s business model in part relies on users booking through its website. TripAdvisor denied any link between how its content guidelines are applied and its commercial relationships.

    TripAdvisor boasts more than 535 million reviews on hotel, airlines, restaurants, and local attractions. Unlike other companies that help with direct booking like Airbnb, airlines, and hotels, TripAdvisor doesn’t verify that reviews or forum posts are written by people who actually experienced what they wrote about.

    The tech company follows its own publishing guidelines and employs about 300 people to moderate posts and ensure “content integrity,” a spokesperson told the Journal Sentinel. TripAdvisor also relies on software to detect fake reviews. 

    The alleged censorship may fall outside of TripAdvisor’s offices, however. As the Journal Sentinel notes, TripAdvisor allows non-employees known as “trusted community members” to remove posts. The company declined to disclose who they are or how they are chosen but said they are “trusted, highly rated users and volunteers drawn from the global travel community.”  

    TripAdvisor added that these privileges can be removed if a member is “overly promoting” their businesses. These volunteers are unable to remove reviews but do moderate forum posts. 

    After the Journal Sentinel report, TripAdvisor said it is making changes. For example, Love’s post has been reinstated. The site is also creating a “badge” notification that will alert users to health, safety, and discrimination issues. This designation will be based on media reports and other credible sources, TripAdvisor said.

    “We’re currently going through additional quality assurance testing, and expect it to be launched before the end of the year,” a TripAdvisor spokesperson told Mashable

    This post was updated with additional insight from TripAdvisor.

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    Scientists May Have Found The Root Cause Of Autism

    Scientists think they’ve found out what could be at the root of autism and, no, it’s not vaccines. According to a new study, it could be caused by having too many brain connections called synapses.

    “An increased number of synapses creates miscommunication among neurons in the developing brain that correlates with impairments in learning, although we don’t know how,” senior author Azad Bonni, head of the Department of Neuroscience at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, explained in a statement.

    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common neurodevelopmental condition affecting one in 68 people in the United States. It’s generally understood that there is a genetic aspect to ASD (it often runs in families), though environmental triggers may also play a role.

    Several genes have been linked to people with autism. Six of these are called ubiquitin ligases and they’re responsible for attaching molecular tags called ubiquitins to proteins. Think of these genes as managers, telling their employees (the rest of the cell) how to handle the tagged proteins. Should they be discarded? Should they be taken to another part of the cell?

    Some experts believe that individuals with autism have a gene mutation preventing one of their ubiquitin ligases from working correctly. To find out how and why this might be, the scientists at Washington University removed RNF8 (a ubiquitin gene) in neurons in the cerebellum (an area of the brain affected by autism) of young mice. The mice missing the gene developed an excess of synapses, which in turn affected their ability to learn.

    Those mice had 50 percent more synapses than their peers, who had their RNF8 gene intact. The scientists then measured the electrical signal in the neurons and found that it was twice as strong compared to those with a normal functioning cell.

    ASD affects language, attention, and movement; skills the cerebellum plays an essential role in. To see if the test mice had lower motor skills (a common symptom in people with autism), the researchers trained the mice to associate a puff of air to the eye with a blinking light. One week later, the control group avoided the irritation caused by the puff of air by closing their eyes 75 percent of the time. The test group only did so one-third of the time.

    The scientists point out that a mouse that doesn’t shut its eyes when trained doesn’t quite equate to a human with autism (after all, the wiring of autistic brains is highly individualized), and more work is needed to verify the hypothesis. But it does reveal an interesting association between synapses and behavior that could one day lead to treatments.

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    Coming Soon to Washington: An Anti-Trump Hotel for Liberals

    The first thing you’ll see when you walk into Eaton Workshop, a hotel opening in late spring 2018 in Washington, is a custom-commissioned video art installation by AJ Schnack, shown on a series of vintage-style television screens. All day long, it’ll broadcast a montage of footage from the presidential elections of 2012 and 2016 that’s built around one pointed question: How did our country get where it is today?

    It’s not a subtle statement, and it’s not meant to be.

    In Trump’s Washington, Eaton is planting a clear flag as a haven for Democrats. It’s the world’s first politically motivated hotel, the flagship for a global brand that’s built around social activism and community engagement. And it comes with a pedigree: As the daughter of Ka Shui Lo, the creator and executive chairman of Hong Kong-based Langham Hospitality Group Ltd., founder Katherine Lo knows a thing or two about luxury hotels and world-class service.

    The Big Idea

    An artist’s rendering of the reception desk of the Eaton.
    Source: Gachot Studios

    Lo firmly believes that hotels ought to be catalysts for good. In a world where we can be conscious consumers—of everything from clothing to food to baby products—she argues there’s a place for conscious hotels, too. This isn’t a revolutionary idea: Already, 1 Hotels has built a small collection of luxury properties entirely around the idea of sustainability, and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts has made a significant, brand-wide commitment to bolster community programming for disadvantaged children in all of its destinations. It’s one of many five-star brands that have a conscious ethos but choose not to flaunt it.

    Eaton Workshop is different. With a premise that’s built around liberal activism and civic engagement, the brand will weave a liberal philosophy into every aspect of the guest experience, some more obvious than others.

    Among the subtler points is the significance of the company’s name: a nod to the high-end shopping mall of that name in Montreal that captured the fascination of Ka Shui Lo when he fled the Cultural Revolution in China. The mall, says Katherine, was a beacon of freedom to her father—and when she found an archival photo bearing its old motto, “Progress and better living,” the two Eatons became forever intertwined.

    The Washington hotel—which has 209 rooms just north of the National Mall—will be the brand’s flagship, with a second location opening in Hong Kong in 2018 and new constructions set to rise in San Francisco and Seattle no sooner than 2019.

    A Hotel With an Agenda

    The lobby of the Eaton.
    Source: Gachot Studios

    Among the Washington location’s programming signatures will be a sort of TED talk series driven by the liberal agenda, consisting of fireside chats and rooftop lectures that Lo hopes will be free, open to the public, and streamable as Eaton-branded podcasts. Then comes the art program, which—aside from the political statement piece at check-in—will include commissions from at least a half-dozen up-and-coming local artists and a street-facing exhibition window curated in partnership with local museums and institutions. A co-working space will prioritize memberships for progressive startups, activists, and artists, while a wellness program will offer “inner-health-focused treatments” such as Reiki and sound baths, rather than facials and massages. (Some of these features will roll out a few months after the hotel opens.)

    Just as important, partners and staff will be brought on board, both for their skills in the food and beverage worlds and their activist track records. For instance, Lo saw the cocktail director of the famed Columbia Room, Derek Brown, as a perfect fit to be the hotel’s beverage director—not just because he’s won such awards as magazine’s Bartender of the Year but because he “cares deeply about social justice.” To wit, Brown actively champions policies that fight sexual harassment in the bartending industry and acts as chief spirit advisor for the National Archives.  

    Similarly, Lo says that the “amazing life story” of house chef Tim Ma “perfectly expresses our brand ethos.” The Chinese-American culinary up-and-comer was an engineer at the National Security Agency for years before discovering his true passion in food. At Eaton’s to-be-named restaurant, Ma is planning a menu with a heavy focus on vegetables from an on-site garden.

    A guest who does nothing other than check in, sleep atop Eaton’s organic mattresses, and check out will still have a sense of the hotel’s mission, says Lo. “We plan to have new ideas in the minibar—an activist toolkit, for example, that includes sheets with information to help you call your congresspeople. And if we’d been open during this year’s Women’s March, I could have seen us putting poster boards and markers in the rooms!”

    Political statements such as these will be tailored to each property. In Hong Kong, for instance, Lo says she’d like to replace Bibles in the nightstand drawers with copies of the United Nations Declaration for Human Rights.

    A Place for Thought Leaders (but Not All of Them)

    The library at the Eaton
    Source: Gachot Studios

    Lo understands that Eaton Workshop isn’t for everyone. “Self-selection is definitely one of our strategies,” she says about branding and marketing materials that directly appeal to the “woke” crowd. “We wanted to emphasize that it’s a place for people who are thinking outside the box and want to effect a change in the world,” she says.

    Though she repeatedly talks about fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion, Lo also tells Bloomberg that “the goal isn’t to bring together left and right.” Instead, she wants to create “a diversity of fields and backgrounds as well as gender and ethnicity.” In other words, her hotel should represent the antithesis of the Trump hotel that’s just a few blocks away, offering an intellectual playground to those who may feel marginalized by the current administration’s agenda.

    This is partisan politics playing out on the city’s hotel scene; whether that will hurt or help Lo’s bottom line remains to be seen. But if the Trump Hotel is any indication, Lo may be poised for big success. According to the , the president’s hotel brought in $1.97 million in profits during the first four months of the year, despite business projections that had forecast a loss of $2.1 million.

    “It’s Like a Non-Profit but Better”

    Though her goal is to create a successful, scalable business, Eaton Workshop is not built to pad Lo’s pockets. On the contrary, she sees the entire enterprise as a means to a philanthropic end, and hopes to use the hotel profits to fund community arts initiatives in the brand’s respective destinations. 

    Each location will have a radio station, cinema, and music venue so local talent can produce or showcase work in a state-of-the-art space at low—or no—cost. In Washington, the building’s history as a printing venue has inspired Lo to create a writer’s residency, where investigative reporters can be hosted on site for several months while pursuing important stories.

    Artists will be invited to create short films, podcasts, or other types of content under the emblem of Eaton’s in-house multimedia studio; the results will be available for guests to stream on personal devices, and each piece will feature a clear activist message and a call to action.

    “We’re hoping that our hotel revenues will propel our creative projects,” says Lo, who likens the hotel to “a non-profit, but better.” Still, room rates won’t be extravagant; prices in Washington are likely to hover in the upper $200s. Thankfully, for members of both political parties—who are, no doubt, tired of dropping Benjamins for vodka drinks at the Trump International—the price of a martini should be less radical.

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      Saying depression is a ‘choice’ only makes things worse. Allow Andy Richter to explain.

      Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for SiriusXM.

      Depression is not a choice, and anyone who says otherwise is just plain wrong.

      After reading a tweet that simply said, “Depression is a choice,” actor, writer, and comedian Andy Richter was so angry that he “pulled over after school drop-off” to vent on Twitter about what it’s like to live with depression and be constantly bombarded with unhelpful “advice” that so often amounts to little more than blame for those living with it.

      “[Depression] varies in strength from a casual unresolvable suspicion that I will never find the joy that others do in a sunset, to the feeling that being dead might be a respite and a kindness,” he tweeted, highlighting how difficult the hazy experience of living with depression can be to describe.

      He also draws an important distinction between having good things in one’s life — such as a great family and successful career — and being dealt a bad hand when it came to the genetic lottery of depression, a feeling he describes as “an ever-present amorphous sadness.”

      “My life is full. I am lucky,” he tweeted. “And I will still reach the end of my life having walked through most of it with an emotional limp. I do not wallow in self-pity. No one did this to me. It is just how it is. I am just unlucky.”

      Saying things like “depression is a choice” is not only wrong, it also keeps people from seeking the help they need.

      Depression is really common. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 16.1 million U.S. adults 18 or older experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2015, accounting for 6.7% of all adults in the country.

      Left untreated, depression can lead to all matters of problems, ranging from an inability to focus on work, all the way up to suicide — making the stigma surrounding treatment that much more frustrating.

      Sadly, studies have shown that there are still significant segments of the population that view depression and mental illness as a form of weakness. In turn, that attitude reflects on back the person dealing with depression, making them feel embarrassed to seek treatment.

      “If you are unburdened by depression, real true depression, count yourself lucky,” Richter wrote.

      “Keep your quick fixes to yourself. This is the kind of bullshit that kills people. Learn, then speak. Or just be lucky and quiet,” he wrapped his thoughts.

      The way we fight stigma is by using our voices to let the world know we exist. Today, Andy Richter did just that.

      If you or someone you love is struggling with depression, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or visit their website for more information.

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      Hes Embarrassed Me: In North Carolina, Trumpists Start to Turn

      WILMINGTON, North CarolinaA dozen voters assembled here for a focus group on President Trumps first year give him credit for a good economy and a robust stock market. Having said that, they used the forum to let loose with their condemnation of the tweeter-in-chief and the many ways he has embarrassed them.

      It was a tough assessment, and the most stinging critique came from those in the group who had voted for Trump, with Republican women serving up the harshest words, saying he hasnt delivered on his promises, and hes crude and bullying.

      I feel like he told people that he had all these big ideas and big plans, and it just seems to kind of roll to something else, said Emily Bell, a 32-year-old occupational therapist. Its like nothing is ever accomplished.

      Annie Anthony, 56, who runs a small nonprofit, said, Hes embarrassed me by his behavior I cant imagine how they let him build a country club, let alone be in one. Because adults dont behave that way. She doesnt mind the tweets but wishes he would elevate his language.

      He uses words like sad and badthats first-grade language. Were an intelligent population who elected you. Represent us!

      There was only one staunch Trump supporter in the group, Cynthia Layton, a 64-year-old nurse, who loves the tweets. Thats how I hear from him… I dont need an elitist person talking down to me.

      Layton says she doesnt trust the media, and she turned off her cable 10 years ago. She draws inspiration from Rush Limbaugh. I read my sites. I listen to his tweets, she says, which are simply what he honestly feels because he uses white and black language and doesnt give you all these flowery descriptions about everything. I appreciate that hes direct and tells it like it is.

      The focus group on Wednesday evening was organized in collaboration with Emory University, and almost half the two hours focused on the opioid crisis, which everyone agreed is a huge problem. A 47-year-old single man described as a self-employed handyman said he had lost eight friends in the last six months, all to heroin, a stunning statement that prompted a round of personal stories.

      Wilmington is the center of a growing addiction rehabilitation industry, and many who come for treatment relapse and stay. The group blamed pharmaceutical companies for downplaying the addictive potential of opioids, and doctors for peddling them. The word kickbacks came up repeatedly as the group discussed their ready availability.

      I have Obamacare and Im grateful for it, but theyre slashing this and slashing that, and Im afraid that I might lose my health care, said Annie Anthony, who is divorced and voted for Trump. Like almost everyone in the room, she knows people grappling with addiction. Without insurance, people wont be able to pay for treatment, so they wont get to go. Youve got to pay like 24 grand upfront for some of these programs.

      At the end of the session, Hart said to Anthony, Im not sure why you voted for Donald Trump. You would be an ideal person to explain to Donald Trump, heres why Ive been with you, and heres why Im not with you. Youve moved a long way since the election.

      Anthony responded with a story of how she was driving an Uber one night and had one of Democratic leader Chuck Schumers assistants in her car. He was going to Jacksonville, which was a 90-minute drive, so there was plenty of time to talk, and he asked her the same question.Because of abortionand Benghazi, she replied. He was going to try to not have as many abortions, and I didnt see her as telling the truth with Benghazi.

      Earlier in the discussion, Anthony had said, I expect our embassies to be safe, and she [Clinton] let our people down.

      My kids think Im a confused Democrat, but Im actually a weak Republican, she said. Shes worried that her health insurance premiums will go so high she wont be able to afford to see a doctor.

      These are the people Trump is losing, but predicting where they will land next politically is complicated. If the swamp is still full, Ill be voting to empty that swamp some more, Anthony said. And that doesnt mean Ill be voting for a Republican or a Democrat. Its going to be based on their behavior and whether I found them trustworthy.

      The antipathy toward Hillary Clinton is so strong that it keeps voters in the Trump camp. Asked for a word or phrase to describe Clinton, there was a string of invectives: crook and thief and sore loser, someone who cant be trusted and who thinks the rules dont apply to her.

      Michael Leimone, 41, a cook at a local pizza restaurant, is disappointed in Trump, but doesnt regret his vote. He calls Trump a loose cannon, but insists, Its still better than having the career politician in there.

      The Russia probe never came up. Trumps vulnerability with these voters is health care. It came up a lot. They know whos doing the slashing, and theyll know who to blame when those premium hikes hit.

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      5 Unexpected Activities That Encounter Startling Racism

      When people think of racism, most of them imagine stuff that is very overt and obvious — slurs being yelled, people being denied entry to certain locations, black makeup smeared over the face of a very stupid white dude, etc. These are all things that shout “RACISM” through a Confederate-flag-colored megaphone. But what most non-minorities never consider is that acts of racism can be found in small, niche settings and scenarios as well. Scenarios they’d never consider. Scenarios like …



      As a proud blerd (black nerd), I love conventions, and I love dressing up as my favorite characters when I go to them. The con life is a blast, except to nonwhite people who dare to dress up outside their race. Then it becomes an endless sea of harassment. This has happened to countless black cosplayers all over the country, just because they had the utter gall to pretend to be Sailor Venus for a couple of hours. Like this woman, for example. Once idiots found out that a black person had dressed up as a proud anime defender of the Solar System, they clawed over one another to get to the comments section.

      I’d been warned about this years before I started cosplaying, which is why I generally don’t post pictures of myself in public forums. And I can’t stress how common this reaction is. A cosplayer I know named Rory (who has been referred to as “N****r Moon” by the world’s most uncreative racist) once posted a pic of herself with a white friend in which she was dressed as Opal from Steven Universe and her friend was dressed as Rainbow Quartz. Guess who was targeted for criticism? Hint: It wasn’t the white girl. Just for reference, Opal is a giant four-armed magical archer, and people got mad when a black girl dressed as her.

      Another cosplayer who goes by Krissy Victory has been attacked so many times online that she started screenshotting them and posting them to her social accounts. There are a whole lot of n-based slurs in that album, guys. Along with “you look like a monkey,” “you look dirty,” and “ugly ass thot lookin like a gorilla.” One of my personal favorites: “lol black people shouldn’t cosplay, it’s seriously cringe.” If I have to add commentary to that line, I’m not sure this world is worth saving.

      You’d think that those who dress up as their favorite fictional characters would be more open-minded, as most people tend to talk about conventions as having the most inviting, accepting group of people they’ve ever met. Sadly, it’s only true up to a point. I guess anyone could lean into idiot racism, even the guy who tweets slurs while dressed as Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z.



      I have relatives who live in Canada. My family makes regular trips there all the time to visit them and go hiking. Once when I was young, as we were going down a trail, my little brother and I got separated from everyone else. We weren’t too far away, as I could hear voices, so I wasn’t too worried. We took our time heading back, and while doing so, we came across an older white couple who seemed startled at our appearance in a way that I remember feeling strange about. On paper, this seems like it might be the start of a mid-’80s slasher film, but tragically, it was something worse: weird racism.

      I politely introduced myself (I was a friendly kid) and asked them directions to make sure we were on the right path back. They didn’t respond. They just looked at us in a way that made me nervous. I grabbed my brother and we walked away. As we did, I heard the man start to complain to the woman about our presence “ruining his good time,” saying, “I thought those people didn’t like the woods anyway?” She laughed. And this was in Canada, the country voted by all of pop culture to be the Friendliest Place in the World.

      I actually don’t like hiking or camping, but that has nothing to do with race — just my aversion to exercise in general. It’s common sense that when feeling one with nature and its elements, your skin color really is irrelevant. Or it should be, at least, but white people make up 78 percent of those who go to national parks, and some of them don’t want that number to go any lower.

      A Japanese American woman named Jenna Yokoyama learned that the hard way when she tried to prepare for a backpacking trip by creating a Facebook group and asking how safe it would be for people of color to walk down those trails. The racists must have been sitting by the computer waiting for this shit. Seriously, do they just not have jobs? Go find something to do. A hobby, or a weekly visit to Best Buy. Something. Because, as the article about her explains:

      “Almost immediately the posts generated dozens of comments, many supportive but others accused her of everything from promoting separate trails for white people and non-white people, seeking to form exclusive cliques and even warning her to stay off the trail because she wasn’t worthy of search and rescue help should she get in trouble.”

      Thanks, humanity! And there are other Facebook minority hiking groups that stay restricted and are very picky about who gets to join, just because of online harassment issues. And nope, I’m not going to link to them. That would be like saying, “Here’s a group of people who don’t like getting punched in the face … and here’s a boxing glove and their home addresses.” I guess something about all that fresh air just brings out some people’s inner bigot.


      Seeing The Doctor

      When I was just a little kid, I ran into a weird incident at the dentist. Like most kids who are ripped from their homes and thrust into the inescapable office of mouth sorcery, I really didn’t want to be there, and I tried to distract myself with my Babysitter’s Club book. To make matters worse, the nurse wasn’t being very nice to me or my mom, for reasons that didn’t click at first. Then, in the hallway right outside our (OPEN!) door, she had a conversation with another nurse, joking that she didn’t want to go through post-procedure discussions with us because “They wouldn’t understand me anyway. I’m not sure they even speak English.” It would’ve been better if they’d just told me, “Sorry, but your whole bone structure is just one big cavity.”

      My mother, humiliated, just stared at the floor, but Kid Me was confused and angry. Feeling particularly hyped from my Babysitter’s Club book (as you’ll recall, Kristy is a boss bitch), I stuck my head out and defiantly shouted, “HEY! That’s not nice! I DO speak English, and I can understand every word you’re saying!” They both turned red and scattered, and my mom let me eat cookies on the car ride back home, so yeah, justice was served.

      Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident, though it was the first time I ever noticed it happening to me. Turns out that even in this day and age, your race, ethnicity, and religion does affect the kind of treatment you receive from nurses and doctors. According to a study in the American Journal Of Public Health, a stunning two-thirds of doctors exhibited racial bias toward patients. Those doctors tend to have antiblack sentiments and think of their white patients as more likely to be “compliant.” On top of that, they often lecture black patients, speak more slowly to them, and make their office visits longer, which is such a racist notion that it makes me want to rip my own head off and punt it into the middle of a medical convention.

      These patients then tend to cancel followup appointments because they don’t trust the doctor. This is an actual phenomenon in the black community. Black people don’t trust doctors — and all things considered, it’s not hard to see why.


      Buying Makeup

      I don’t wear a lot of makeup. To be honest, some of this is due to the fact that a tube of quality lipstick costs as much as dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. But most of it is because, as any nonwhite woman will tell you, up until a few years ago, if your skin color was darker than “sunkissed Latina,” there were almost no options for you.

      Women of color have always had a notoriously bad relationship with the cosmetics industry because we can’t find shit that matches our skin color. These companies deliberately just make their lines for lighter skin tones only, with a couple of “darker” foundations in the last few decades that aren’t really fooling anyone. Iman (supermodel, goddess, wife of the late David Bowie) came out with a makeup line in the ’90s that had more options, which helped a great deal. But overall, it seems the beauty industry would rather lose money than help women of color feel good about their appearances.

      Enter that Barbadian ray of sexual sunshine Rihanna. She’s been in the news lately because she’s come out with her own makeup line called Fenty Beauty, which has truly changed the game. With 40 foundation shades (40), darker-skinned women are guaranteed to find a match for their skin tone — something these other lines should have made a priority YEARS ago.

      Why is this such a big deal? Because this world’s Eurocentric standards of beauty have done so much damage to women of color that they’ve had to resort to using more toxic products in order to fit into that mold. Something that could have been easily resolved if these huge makeup companies had just included a few more shades. Or, you know, just generally done more to expand their definition of what beauty is (straight hair and light skin across the board doesn’t exactly scream “diversity”). But god forbid they be forced to treat people like people. That would be crazy.


      Writing (And Reading) Science Fiction

      According to my parents, I’ve been scribbling stories down since I first learned how to hold a pencil. I came out of the womb writing exposition. I think at this point, I’ve dabbled in all genres, and feel comfortable in most forms of speculative fiction — except futuristic science fiction. And before discovering Afrofuturism, I didn’t realize black writers had even tried. Hell, historically, major genre works have rarely included anything to do with black people. As writer Saffron Alexander put it: “White creators would rather write about a race of war-hungry lizards living on Mars in harmony with Victorian soldiers than dare to imagine a black person included in their fantasy worlds.”

      Serious question: Do you ever sit and think about how there are virtually no people of color in science fiction stories? Fellow sci-fi nerds will be able to rattle off a handful, but I’m talking comparatively. Maybe that’s because, as a genre, it’s plagued by “structural, institutional, personal, and universal” racism, which are exact words from a report that states that less than 2 percent of more than 2,000 sci-fi stories published in 2015 were written by black writers. Most people would agree that the science fiction and fantasy community has a problem with race, but most (white) people who aren’t in the community don’t realize how bad it actually is. They’re mostly concerned with arguing about The Last Jedi or worshiping at the altar of George R.R. Martin.

      That’s not an accusation or an attack. It’s a very real problem that often doesn’t get pondered until it’s pointed out by a minority who’s attempting to break that pattern. A huge problem is the idea that people think speculative fiction is saved from anti-blackness in the same way that assholes thought racism was abolished when Barack Obama was elected president. “A major science fiction film / book series has a black character in a lead or sort-of lead role? PREJUDICE ENDED. LET’S ALL HAVE MIMOSAS.”

      To put it bluntly, I’ll let writer Troy Wiggins explain: “I have a better chance of being wrongfully convicted of a crime than I do of selling a piece to a science fiction magazine.” Damn, dude. That’s a painful mic drop if ever I heard one.

      Archie also writes for BlackGirlNerds, and tries to follow as many cosplayers as possible on Twitter. Send her your pictures on Twitter.

      If you loved this article and want more content like this, support our site with a visit to our Contribution Page. Or sign up for our Subscription Service for exclusive content, an ad-free experience, and more.

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      Lies, ALL LIIIIIIIES! Guy Benson FACT-STOMPS Democrats’ FALSE attacks on GOP tax bill

      We can’t decide if the Democrats read a different bill or are deliberately lying about it so people will freak out and screech about tax cuts. Can you imagine being SO wrapped up in taxes that you would lie about a bill that will give people all across the country some relief?

      Democrats are gonna Democrat.

      Read more:

      Stillbirth link to sleeping on your back

      Image copyright Science Photo Library

      Women are being advised to sleep on their side in the last three months of pregnancy to help prevent stillbirth.

      A study of just over 1,000 women found the risk doubles if women go to sleep on their backs in the third trimester.

      The study looked into 291 pregnancies that ended in stillbirth and 735 women who had a live birth.

      Researchers say the position which women fall asleep in is most important – and they should not worry if they are on their back when they wake up.

      About one in 225 pregnancies in the UK ends in stillbirth and the study authors estimate that about 130 babies’ lives a year could be saved if women went to sleep on their side.

      The MiNESS study, published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG) is the biggest of its kind, and confirms findings from smaller studies in New Zealand and Australia.

      Is waking up on your back a problem?

      Prof Alexander Heazell, clinical director at the Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Centre at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, who led the research, advises women in their third trimester to sleep on their side for any episode of sleep, including daytime naps.

      “What I don’t want is for women to wake up flat on their back and think ‘oh my goodness I’ve done something awful to my baby’.

      “The question that we asked was very specifically what position people went to sleep in and that’s important as you spend longer in that position than you do in any other.

      “And also you can’t do anything about the position that you wake up in but you can do something about the position you go to sleep.”

      Tips for going to sleep on your side

      • Put a pillow or pillows behind your back to encourage side-sleeping
      • If you wake during the night, check your position and go back to sleep on your side
      • Pay the same attention to sleep position during the day as you would during the night
      • If you wake on your back during the night, don’t worry, just roll on to your side
      • The study didn’t find a difference in risk between right or left side

      Source: Tommy’s charity

      Researchers can’t say for certain why the risk of stillbirth is increased – but there is a lot of data that suggests when a woman is lying on her back, the combined weight of the baby and womb puts pressure on blood vessels which can then restrict blood flow and oxygen to the baby.

      Edward Morris, from the BJOG, said the new research was “extremely welcome” .

      “This is an important study which adds to the growing body of evidence that sleep position in late pregnancy is a modifiable risk factor for stillbirth.”

      The pregnancy charity Tommy’s has started a campaign to raise awareness of the study and to encourage women to sleep on their side.

      Image copyright Family photo
      Image caption Michelle Cottle is 36 and lives in London – she is a clinical psychologist and writes an award-winning blog Dear Orla

      Michelle Cottle’s baby Orla was stillborn at 37 weeks in 2016 after a healthy pregnancy where there were no signs that anything was wrong.

      She writes a blog “Dear Orla” and hears from women who have been through the same experience.

      Michelle, whose daughter Esme was born a year later, says practical advice like this for mothers is important to make them feel more in control.

      “I really think it helps to empower people, as it feels like something you can go away and do with the hope of having a more healthy pregnancy and a better outcome than sadly lots of people do have.

      “I look back now and I actually feel quite traumatised by my (second) pregnancy because it was a bit like living your worst nightmare every single day.

      “Every time there’s maybe a quiet moment and you don’t know whether your baby is alive or not is absolutely terrifying.

      “Night-time is the worst as well because a lot of people would say they believe that their baby died maybe when they were sleeping. I think that’s really scary because you have to sleep.

      “So I think having clear things that can help you feel a bit more in control is really important for women.”

      Related Topics

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      Sons Buy Dad “Gator Hater” Shirt for His BirthdayThen He Finds Out What the REAL Surprise Is!

      Growing up in the south, there’s nothing quite like a good college football rivalry. For one sweet family from Atlanta, it’s only natural to bleed Georgia Bulldogs red.

      “So, the Georgia Bulldogs are a second religion in my house. My brother, Jason, is a UGA graduate. We decided since the big rivalry game of Georgia vs. Florida fell on my dad’s actual birthday, we would surprise him,” one brother shared with Love What Matters.

      His 71st birthday was surely one this Dawgs fan will never forget. After giving him a shirt that read “Gator Hater” across the front, their dad was ecstatic about his gift. What he didn’t realize is he hadn’t even gotten the best part yet!

      The brothers revealed the actual surprise: a trip to Jacksonville, Florida, to watch the Dawgs play the Gators in person on his birthday!

      Considering his beloved Bulldogs beat the Gators, 42 to 7, I think it’s safe to say their surprise did NOT disappoint.

      See his priceless reaction below!

      Surprise Dad, You’re Going To The Game!

      “My brother and I decided to surprise my dad for his 71st birthday with something he has always wanted. He has never been to a Georgia/Florida game! So we decided to surprise him. My family is pretty tight knit. My dad is a retired minister, and has had some health issues over the past few years. I am the oldest of two boys. We grew up in a suburb of Atlanta, to two hard working parents. They weren’t able to always give a lot of ‘things’ but they would drop anything on a dime to be there for us. If you know anything about the South, we love football and the SEC. So, the Georgia Bulldogs are a second religion in my house. My brother, Jason, is a UGA graduate. We decided since the big rivalry game of Georgia vs. Florida fell on my dad’s actual birthday, we would surprise him. He asked us if we would come down to their house to watch the game with him, so we told him we would, ha ha. When we gave him the shirt, he thought that was the end of it! To see that look on his face and to see how happy we were able to make him, meant everything to me. The pure love I have for my dad inspired this gift. He is my number one, always.”


      A Love What Matters Original Video

      Posted by Love What Matters on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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      Organization offers hotline to support white folks having tough conversations about Trump this Thanksgiving

      When did this become a thing? We think it was during the Obama presidency when Pajama Boy urged families to talk about health insurance over the holidays, and groups starting offering print-your-own Thanksgiving placemats with handy talking points on social justice and gun control.

      This year, white folks having tough conversations with their Trump-loving relatives will be able to turn again to Show Up for Racial Justice, which has set up a text hotline if last year’s talking points aren’t working.

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      We should all be working a four-day week. Heres why | Owen Jones

      Ending life-sapping excessive hours was a pioneering demand for the labour movement. For the sake of our health and the economy we need to revisit it

      Imagine there was a single policy that would slash unemployment and underemployment, tackle health conditions ranging from mental distress to high blood pressure, increase productivity, help the environment, improve family lives, encourage men to do more household tasks, and make people happier. It sounds fantastical, but it exists, and its overdue: the introductionof a four-day week.

      The liberation of workers from excessive work was one of the pioneering demands of the labour movement. From the ashes of the civil war, American trade unionism rallied behind an eight-hour day, a movement which ran with express speed from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from New England to California, as Karl Marx put it. In 1890 hundreds of thousands thronged into Hyde Park in a historic protest for the same demand. It is a cause that urgently needs reclaiming.

      Many Britons work too much. Its notjust the 37.5 hours a week clocked up on average by full-time workers; itsthe unpaid overtime too. According to the TUC, workers put in 2.1bn unpaid hours last year thats an astonishing 33.6bn of free labour.

      That overwork causes significant damage. Last year, 12.5m work days were lost because of work-related stress, depression or anxiety. The biggest single cause by a long way in some 44% of cases was workload. Stress can heighten the risk of all manner of health problems, from high blood pressure to strokes. Research even suggests that working long hours increases the risk of excessive drinking. And then theres the economic cost: over 5bn a year, according to the Health and Safety Executive. Nowonder the public health expert John Ashton is among those suggesting a four-day week could improve the nations health.

      So the renewed call for a four-day week from Autonomy Institute is very welcome. We want to shift peoples perspectives, to better work and less work, says the thinktanks Will Stronge. Indeed, a deeply unhealthy distribution of work scars our society. While some are working too much, with damaging consequences for their health and family lives, there are 3.3 million or so underemployed workers who want more hours. A four-day week would force a redistribution of these hours, to the benefit of everyone. This will be even more important if automation in sectors such as manufacturing, administration and retail creates more poorly paid work and more underemployment.

      A four-day working week could alsohelp tackle climate change: as the New Economics Foundation thinktank notes, countries with shorter working weeks are more likely to have a smaller carbon footprint. This is no economy-wrecking suggestion either. German and Dutch employees work less than we do but their economies are stronger than ours. It could boost productivity: the evidence suggests if you work fewerhours, you are more productive, hour for hour and less stress means less time off work. Indeed, a recent experiment with a six-hour working dayat a Swedish nursing home produced promising results: higher productivity and fewer sick days. If those productivity gains are passed on to staff, working fewer hours doesntnecessarily entail a pay cut.

      Then theres the argument for gender equality. Despite the strides made by the womens movement, women still do 60% more unpaid household work on average than men. An extra day off workis not going to inevitably lead to men pulling their weight more at home. But, as Autonomy suggests, a four-day week could be unveiled as part of a driveto promote equal relationships between men and women. A national campaign could encourage men to use their new free time to equally balance household labour, which remains defined by sexist attitudes.

      It is heartening to see the resurrectionof one of the great early causes of the labour movement. Germanys biggest union, IG Metall, is calling for a 28-hour week for shift workers and those with caring responsibilities.

      That said, on its own the demand is not enough. Now that socialism is re-emerging as a political force that can no longer be ignored or ridiculed, the struggle for more time for leisure, family and relaxation should be linked to broader fights. Increased public ownership of the economy should be structured to create more worker self-management and control. If technology means a further reduction in secure work, a universal basic income a basic stipend paid to all citizens as a right may become ever more salient.

      Sure, work can be a fulfilling activity for some. It strikes me, though, that few would disagree with the notion that we should spend more time with our families, watching our children grow, exercising, reading books, or just relaxing. So much of our lives is surrendered to subordinating ourselves to the needs and whims of others, turning human beings into cash cows rather than independent, well-roundedindividuals.

      Our social model means economic growth all too often involves concentrating wealth produced by the many into the bank accounts of the few, without improving the lives of the majority. Growth should deliver not justshared prosperity and improved public services but a better balance between work, family and leisure.

      Labour politicians now position themselves as the harbingers of a new society, not mere tinkerers with the existing order. That must surely mean building a new economy that lightens the freedom-sapping burden of work. Labour may win the opportunity to build a socialist Britain. If it does, it must be ambitious enough to liberate citizens from the excesses of work.

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      This Is Why Copay-Free Birth Control Is So Important To Me

      Why Copay-Free Birth Control Is So Important For My Health, Profession, & Wealth

      Today, as I do every three months, I went to my local pharmacy to pick up my birth control. As I walked up to the counter, I let out a sigh relief that I didn’t have to open my wallet to receive my chosen form of contraception. This is all thanks to the birth control benefit included in the Affordable Care Act, which designated birth control as preventive health care and made all FDA-approved contraceptives copay-free with insurance.

      I am one of the more than 62.4 million women across the country who have access to copay-free birth control because of this benefit. But in October, President Trump rolled back this copay-free birth control coverage, immediately allowing any company or university to deny birth control coverage if it conflicts with “religious” or “moral” beliefs. While I don’t believe my employer will take away my birth control coverage, thousands of other women will not be so lucky. And President Trump’s actions could cost these women hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year — the cost of trying to have control over their own futures.

      I started taking birth control nine years ago when I was a college student. College was a turning point in my life — I was investing in my future and excited for what it might hold. I wanted to put preventative measures in place that would allow me to concentrate on my education. Nine years later, my birth control has given me peace of mind to know that I have control over one part of my life. I’ve been in a committed relationship for almost 13 years and we’ve always known that we both have goals we want to achieve before taking the next step to have a family.

      Keep Birth Control Copay Free on YouTube

      Trust me when I say that finding the best birth control for me wasn’t easy. Staying away from the pill (I knew I could not for the life of me remember to take a pill every day), I ultimately landed on the NuvaRing, which I’ve been using ever since.

      Right now at 26, I’m able to focus on developing my career and saving for retirement. I’m building an “emergency” savings account to ensure I have funds available in case I lose my job or get sick. I want the peace of mind in knowing I won’t have to struggle to support myself.

      Not only has having copay-free birth control allowed me to control my life, it’s helped my bank account. Over the last five years since the birth control benefit was put in place, I’ve saved almost $125 each month and nearly $1,000 in 2017 alone. I use what I’ve saved from birth control to increase my “emergency” fund, invest in my future, and expand my horizons through my favorite hobby: travel.

      Without copay-free protection, the cost for my annual birth control is nearly equal to one month’s rent. My Nuvaring is the same cost as a monthly MetroCard that gets me to and from work. And for low income families, paying for birth control could mean skipping a meal here and there.

      Why are we putting women and their families in the position to choose between two things they need to succeed?

      Copay-free birth control should be a standard benefit for women across the country. It’s mind boggling that the Trump administration would create loopholes for any company to deny birth control coverage to their employees when contraception has been such an important benefit to our economy, our society, and our families.

      Women should be making our own healthcare decisions. Not our bosses and not our government. That’s why I’m joining women across the country to stand against President Trump’s efforts to roll back women’s health. We will fight back.

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      Video Of Migrants Sold In Apparent Slave Auction In Libya Provokes Outrage Worldwide

      After a video surfaced showing migrants apparently being sold at auction in Libya, people worldwide have been calling for action. 

      Last week, CNN published a report on modern slavery in Libya, featuring a video that reportedly was shot in August and appeared to show a man selling African migrants for farm work.

      “Big strong boys,” the man said in the video, according to a CNN narrator. “400 … 700 … 800,” he called out the mounting prices. The men were eventually sold for about $400 each, CNN reported. The Libyan government said it has launched an investigation into slave auctions in the country. 

      Following the CNN report, demonstrators took to the streets in Paris and other cities last week to express their outrage, and Libyans showed their solidarity on Twitter with the hashtag #LibyansAgainstSlavery

      Several world leaders spoke out as well. The chairman of the African Union, Guinean President Alpha Condé, called it a “despicable trade … from another era” on Friday. The U.N. Support Mission in Libya said Wednesday that it was “dismayed and sickened,” and is “actively pursuing” the matter with Libyan authorities.

      I am horrified at news reports and video footage showing African migrants in Libya reportedly being sold as slaves,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said to reporters on Monday. “Slavery has no place in our world, and these actions are among the most egregious abuses of human rights and may amount to crimes against humanity.”

      MAHMUD TURKIA via Getty Images
      Migrants from Africa who are trying to reach Europe walk toward a detention center off the coastal town of Guarabouli, Libya, on July 8.

      Guterres called for the international community to unite in fighting the abuse and smuggling of migrants, notably by increasing avenues for legal migration and enhancing international cooperation in cracking down on smugglers and traffickers.

      However, rights advocates caution that real action may be slow in coming. “People are rightfully outraged,” Human Rights Watch researcher Hanan Salah told Reuters of CNN’s video on Monday. “But don’t hold your breath that anything real is going to happen.”

      There are more than 45 million people worldwide who are victims of modern slavery, including forced labor and human trafficking, according to a September report from the human rights group Walk Free Foundation.

      In Libya, migrants have become particularly vulnerable to human trafficking. The country functions as the main gateway for Africans to reach Europe, but it is also one of the world’s most unstable, mired in conflict since dictator Moammar Gadhafi was ousted and killed in 2011.

      Hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing poverty or conflict travel to Libya each year, hoping to set off from the country’s coast to Europe. Once in Libya, they find themselves at the mercy of smugglers operating the dangerous boat passages across the Mediterranean. 

      Operating without many constraints, smuggling networks have adopted ruthless methods ― often killing, torturing, extorting and detaining migrants at will. The Libyan government does not have the means nor the commitment to crack down. European countries’ efforts to keep migrants from their own borders have forced the travelers to take ever greater risks to reach the continent. 

      “To end the slave trade we need to stop human smuggling,” William Lacy Swing, director general of the International Organization for Migration, said Thursday. “You do that by destroying their business model. And you do that by … decriminalizing migration and encouraging migration that is documented, safe and secure for all.”

      Read more:

      Get Rid of Capitalism? Millennials Are Ready to Talk About It

      One of the hottest tickets in New York City this weekend was a discussion on whether to overthrow capitalism.

      The first run of tickets to “Capitalism: A Debate” sold out in a day. So the organizers, a pair of magazines with clear ideological affiliations, socialist and libertarian , found a larger venue: Cooper Union’s 960-capacity Great Hall, the site of an 1860 antislavery speech by Abraham Lincoln. The event sold out once again, this time in eight hours.

      The crowd waiting in a long line to get inside on Friday night was mostly young and mostly male. Asher Kaplan and Gabriel Gutierrez, both 24, hoped the event would be a real-life version of the humorous, anarchic political debates on social media. “So much of this stuff is a battle that’s waged online,” said Gutierrez, who identifies, along with Kaplan, as a “leftist,” if not quite a socialist.

      These days, among young people, socialism is “both a political identity and a culture,” Kaplan said. And it looks increasingly attractive.

      Young Americans have soured on capitalism. In a Harvard University poll conducted last year, 51 percent of 18-to-29 year-olds in the U.S. said they opposed capitalism; only 42 percent expressed support. Among Americans of all ages, by contrast, a Gallup survey last year found that 60 percent held positive views of capitalism.

      A poll released last month found American millennials closely split on the question of what type of society they would prefer to live in: 44 percent picked a socialist country, 42 percent a capitalist one. The poll, conducted by YouGov and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, found that 59 percent of Americans across all age groups preferred to live under capitalism.

      “I’ve seen the failings of modern-day capitalism,” said Grayson SussmanSquires, an 18-year-old student at Wesleyan University who had turned up for the capitalism debate. To him and many of his peers, he said, the notion of well-functioning capitalist order is something recounted only by older people. He was 10 when the financial crisis hit, old to enough to watch his older siblings struggle to get jobs out of college. In high school, SussmanSquires said, he volunteered for the presidential campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist. “It spoke to me in a way nothing had before,” he said.

      Although debate attendees leaned left, several expressed the desire to have their views challenged by the pro-capitalist side. “It’s very easy to exist in a social group where everyone has the same political vibe,” Kaplan said.

      “I’m immersed in one side of the debate,” said Thomas Doscher, 26, a labor organizer who is studying for his LSATs. “I want to hear the other side.”

      The debate pitted two socialist stalwarts, Jacobin founder Bhaskar Sunkara and New York University professor Vivek Chibber, against the defenders of capitalism, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reason’s editor in chief, and Nick Gillespie, the editor in chief of and Reason TV.

      And it was the attempt to rebuff criticism of capitalism that mostly riled up the crowd.

      Chibber argued that the problem with capitalism is the power it has over workers. With the weakening of U.S. labor unions, “we have a complete despotism of the employers,” he said, leading to stagnant wages. When Mangu-Ward countered that Americans aren’t coerced on the job, the crowd erupted in laughter. “Every morning you wake up and you have a decision about whether or not you’re going to go to work,” she insisted, and the audience laughed again.

      Sunkara summed up his argument for socialism as a society that helped people tackle the necessities of life—food, housing, education, health care, childcare. “Wherever we end up, it won’t be a utopia,” he said. “It will still be a place where you might get your heart broken,” or feel lonely, or get indigestion.

      Mangu-Ward replied: “Capitalism kind of [fixes] those things, actually.” There’s the app Tinder to find dates, and Pepto Bismol to cure your upset stomach. “Those are the gifts of capitalism,” she said.

      The arguments stayed mostly abstract. Sunkara and Chibber insisted their idea of democratic socialism shouldn’t be confused with the communist dictatorships that killed millions of people in the 20th century. Mangu-Ward and Gillespie likewise insisted on defending a capitalist ideal, not the current, corrupt reality. “Neither Nick nor I are fans of big business,” she said. “We’re not fans of crony capitalism.”

      Talking theory left little time to wrestle with concrete problems, such as inequality or climate change. That frustrated Nathaniel Granor, a 31-year-old from Brooklyn who said he was worried about millions of people being put out of work by automation such as driverless vehicles.

      “It didn't touch on what I feel is the heart of the matter,” Granor said. Both capitalism and socialism might ideally be ways to improve the world, he concluded, but both can fall short when applied in the real world. 

        Read more:

        The Shirk Report Volume 446

        Welcome to the Shirk Report where you will find 20 funny images, 10 interesting articles and 5 entertaining videos from the last 7 days of sifting. Most images found on Reddit; articles from Facebook, Twitter, and email; videos come from everywhere. Any suggestions? Send a note to

        20 IMAGES

        This pilot’s Halloween costume
        “Cousin gave birth on Halloween night. This was the doc during the delivery”
        The story behind the gif
        When you celebrate too early
        I never say when
        Pumpkin’s final revenge
        Goodnight mooon
        If you look up ‘forlorn’ in the dictionary you would see this dog
        Also a great listener
        Experienced sandwiches only
        Welp, might as well do some laps now
        All hyphens matter
        Ditto for vampires
        Who did this
        When my cat sits in this clear flower pot I feel compelled to do what he says
        Wait for it
        Okay last Halloween pic until next year
        Until next week

        10 ARTICLES

        Jeff Bezos’s Path to Becoming the Richest Person on Earth
        A Pill to Make Exercise Obsolete
        I Forgot My PIN’: An Epic Tale of Losing $30,000 in Bitcoin (thx for sharing Ty Smith!)
        A Very Old Man for a Wolf
        ‘Unbelievable’: Heart Stents Fail to Ease Chest Pain
        The iPhone X Is the Beginning of the End for Apple
        The Sticky, Untold Story of Cinnabon
        What Life Is Like Inside WeWork’s Communal Housing Project
        There’s precedent for Amazon competing with so many companies. It doesn’t end well.
        What is your biggest regret?

        5 VIDEOS + Seth Rogan’s laugh


        Read more:

        Calls to ban Coca-Cola Christmas truck

        Image copyright PA
        Image caption Coca-Cola launched its Christmas trucks on a TV advert in 1995, but real trucks now visit cities around the world

        Calls have been made to ban the Coca-Cola truck from Liverpool this Christmas amid concerns about obesity levels in the city.

        Liverpool’s Liberal Democrat leader Richard Kemp said the city is “in the grip of an obesity epidemic”.

        He believes Coca-Cola’s popular festive vehicle promotes a product which is “grossly unhealthy”, as first reported in the Liverpool Echo.

        A Coca-Cola spokesman said the truck also promotes sugar-free drinks.

        Mr Kemp has written a letter to managers of the Liverpool One shopping district, setting out his opposition to the “cynical event”

        His concerns come four months after a study by Public Health Liverpool naming and shaming what it said were the most sugary breakfast cereals.

        Image copyright PA
        Image caption Coca-Cola Great Britain said it had received a “positive response from many people in Liverpool”

        He wrote: “You are probably aware that Liverpool is in the grip of an obesity epidemic for children and adults. 30% of our 11-year-olds are obese.

        “The biggest single cause of this is the consumption of fizzy drinks.

        “That is why I am appalled that there is a rumour going round that you will welcome the Coca-Cola van to Liverpool. This cynical event has taken place for the past five years and is not designed to welcome Christmas but to increase the consumption of a product that is grossly unhealthy.”

        A spokesman for Coca-Cola Great Britain said it had received a “positive response from many people in Liverpool” during previous visits.

        He added: “People will have the opportunity to see the truck up close, have their photograph taken and enjoy a choice of a small, 150ml can of Coca-Cola Classic or one of our no sugar options, Diet Coke or Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.”

        No-one at Liverpool One was available for comment.

        Related Topics

        Read more:

        Bill Gates announces major donation to advance the fight against Alzheimer’s

        Bill Gates speaks speaks at the Goalkeepers 2017 event on Sept. 20, 2017, in New York City.
        Image: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

        Bill Gates just donated a piece of his fortune to advance the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

        The philanthropist and Microsoft founder announced in a blog post Monday that he will give $50 million to the Dementia Discovery Fund, a public-private partnership that invests in innovative dementia research. Gates will also donate another $50 million in startups working in Alzheimer’s research.

        Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has a long track record of supporting research to eradicate diseases like malaria and polio. But Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia that progressively affects memory and other brain functions, is the first noncommunicable disease he’s fighting.

        The $100 million is his own investment, not his foundation’s. That’s, in part, because it’s personal. 

        “This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s.”

        “It’s a terrible disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones,” Gates wrote in his blog post. “This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s. I know how awful it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity, and there is nothing you can do about it. It feels a lot like you’re experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew.”

        Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. An estimated 5.5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, and someone new develops the disease every 66 seconds. People of all ages are affected, but 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

        Gates said he spent the last year learning everything he could about Alzheimer’s disease, speaking with researchers, academics, and other industry experts. Those conversations led him to focus on five areas: understanding how the disease unfolds, figuring out how to detect it earlier, funding more innovative and lesser-known drug trials, making it easier for people to enroll in clinical trials, and using data to inform better approaches.

        Gates’ investment in the Dementia Discovery Fund will help support startups as it explores “less mainstream approaches to treating dementia,” he explained.

        “The first Alzheimer’s treatments might not come to fruition for another decade or more, and they will be very expensive at first. Once that day comes, our foundation might look at how we can expand access in poor countries,” Gates wrote, explaining how he might look at the issue beyond his personal investment in the future.

        The announcement is timely, coinciding with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in November. The goal of the month is to increase awareness and drive home the fact that as many as 16 million people could live with Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2050.

        “People should be able to enjoy their later years — and we need a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s to fulfill that,” Gates said. “I’m excited to join the fight and can’t wait to see what happens next.”

        Read more:

        Newly discovered nearby planet could support life

        (CNN)You may want to get used to the name Ross 128 b. The newly discovered exoplanet is the second-closest found to our solar system, only 11 light-years away. And it could support life.

        Announcements about exoplanets, those found outside our solar system, seem almost commonplace in this golden age of discovery for astronomers. So why is Ross 128 b unique — apart from its rather human-sounding name?
        The planet is about the same size as Earth, and it may have a similar surface temperature, making it a temperate world that could support life.
          Every 9.9 days, it completes an orbit around its host star, Ross 128, which is what’s known as a red dwarf star: They’re the coolest, faintest and most common stars found in the universe.
          Because of their plentiful nature and the fact that other exoplanets have been found around these types of stars, red dwarfs are being studied and observed with increasing frequency in the hopes of finding more exoplanets.
          Astronomers found Ross 128 and its planet using the European Southern Observatory’s planet-hunting instrument, called HARPS. The High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher is based at La Silla Observatory in Chile. The astronomers detail their discovery in a new study, published Wednesday in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.
          “To be involved in such a discovery is very rewarding, and it helps to realize that so much effort is worth it,” Nicola Astudillo-Defru, one of the study’s co-authors at the University of Geneva’s observatory, wrote in an email. “The special properties of this system means that we are contributing our bit on the search of a Earth 2.0.”
          Other notable discoveries of Earth-size exoplanets in recent years, like the TRAPPIST planets and Proxima b, were also found around these types of stars. They are also considered to be among the best hopes for supporting life on planets outside our solar system because they exist within the “habitable zones” of their stars, where liquid water could pool on the surface of the planet and potentially support life as we know it.
          The astronomers don’t yet know whether Ross 128 b is in the habitable zone of its star, but it’s likely, given what they understand about red dwarfs and the planets that orbit them.
          Ross 128 b is 20 times closer to its star than Earth is to the sun, but because the star is small, dim and cool, the planet would still be at a potentially comfortable temperature. The nature of the star is also why the planet is subjected to only 1.38 times the radiation that Earth receives from the sun, even though the planet and star are close together.
          But the reason astronomers are excited about Ross 128 b is because the star is “quiet.” Other red dwarfs, like Proxima Centauri — the star that Proxima b orbits — have a tendency to lash out at their planets with deadly flares of ultraviolet and X-ray radiation.
          But Ross 128 doesn’t seem to be doing this, so it’s considered “quieter,” which means the planet is a more comfortable place for life to form without being subjected to such violent episodes from time to time.
          Proxima b is currently the closest exoplanet to our solar system ever discovered, at a distance of 4.2 light-years. Ross 128 b could change this, because the planet and its star are moving toward us.
          “A detailed study investigated the movement of our stellar neighbor by combining data from the Hipparcos satellite and ground-bases velocimeters,” Astudillo-Defru said. “They list all the close encounters with other stars, and because of the relative movements of stars and the Sun, it results that Ross 128 will be our closest star.”
          Astronomers estimate that in 79,000 years, Ross 128 b will be our exoplanet neighbor, even closer than Proxima b. That may sound like a long time, but in a universe that is billions of years old, it’s merely a cosmic moment.
          The astronomers believe that Ross 128 b is a good candidate for further study when the European Southern Observatory’s Extremely Large Telescope can begin searching the atmospheres of exoplanets for biomarkers in 2025.
          “I plan to continue searching for new worlds, specially around Ross 128 because it is likely that there are more planets,” Astudillo-Defru said.

          Read more:

          Born before 22 weeks, ‘most premature’ baby is now thriving

          (CNN)Courtney Stensrud and her husband call their fun-loving, spunky daughter a miracle.

          The now 3-year-old girl was born at just 21 weeks and four days gestation. “She may be the most premature known survivor to date,” according to a case report about her birth published in the journal Pediatrics last week.
          In the United States, most pediatrics and obstetrics societies agree that 22 weeks of gestation is the lower threshold of viability, and many doctors recommend against assessing for viability or resuscitating babies born younger than 22 weeks due to a low chance of survival. Full-term babies are born at 39 through 40 weeks.
            Before a medical emergency led to the early birth of her daughter in 2014, while still in the antepartum room at Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, Stensrud said that she searched online for any other mothers who gave birth at 21 weeks.
            “There were stories of 22-weekers, 23-weekers, but nothing about 21-weekers. So I knew that there was little to no survival or viability at 21 weeks,” said the stay-at-home mom, now 35.
            Just after Stensrud gave birth, Dr. Kaashif Ahmad, a MEDNAX-affiliated neonatologist at the hospital and lead author of the case report, counseled her about the baby’s extremely low chances of survival and initially counseled against resuscitating the baby.
            Stensrud listened as she held her 15-ounce girl in her arms, with the umbilical cord still attached, she said.
            “Although I was listening to him, I just felt something inside of me say, ‘Just have hope and have faith.’ It didn’t matter to me that she was 21 weeks and four days. I didn’t care,” Stensrud said.
            “As he was talking to me, I just said, ‘Will you try?’ And he said he would, and three years later, we have our little miracle baby,” Stensrud said.
            “I don’t tell her story a lot, but when I do, people are amazed,” she said. “If there’s another woman in antepartum that is searching Google, they can find this story and they can find a little bit of hope and a little bit of faith.”
            Stensrud requested that CNN not publish her daughter’s name or current photos to respect her family’s privacy.
            Ahmad pointed out that Stensrud’s daughter was one case, and more research needs to be done on preterm births lower than 22 weeks.
            “We have to be very cautious about generalizing one good outcome to a larger population,” Ahmad said.
            “It is very possible that there have been many 21-week babies resuscitated in other places that did not have positive outcomes, and for that reason, we haven’t heard about them,” he said. “We reported this case because after this resuscitation she did well, but it may be possible that this is just an extraordinary case and that we shouldn’t expect the same from other babies. We have to learn more before we can make any conclusions.”

            ‘She very slowly changed colors from blue to pink’

            Around the world, an estimated 15 million babies are born too early — before 37 weeks gestation — every year, according to the World Health Organization.
            Last year, preterm birth affected about one of every 10 infants born in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
            There has been an increase in the prevalence of preterm births in the United States, with an additional 8,000 babies being born prematurely last year due to a rise in the preterm birth rate between 2015 and 2016, according to a report released Wednesday from the nonprofit organization March of Dimes.
            Pediatric and obstetric professional society guidelines are routinely updated to answer that challenging question of when resuscitating a preterm baby should be recommended or not.
            The question also remains imperative for neonatologists who care for infants’ medical problems. The answer to such a question remains tangled in concerns of ethics, health care costs and lifelong health outcomes for an infant.
            Now, Ahmad hopes this latest case can help guide the pursuit for the right answer, he said.
            In the new case report, Ahmad and his colleagues describe how they resuscitated Stensrud’s daughter and how she needed prolonged care in the neonatal intensive care unit, known as the NICU. She wasn’t discharged from the hospital until 126 days after being born.
            Stensrud went into early labor due to a premature rupture of membranes and a common infection of the placental membrane called chorioamnionitis, according to the report.
            When Ahmad and his colleagues entered Stensrud’s labor and delivery room, they were not expecting to resuscitate the preterm baby, he said.
            “But when the mother asked that we do everything for her daughter, despite having no reason to believe the baby would survive, I just made the decision to proceed with a vigorous resuscitation,” Ahmad said.
            “So we placed her under an overhead warmer, we listened, and we heard her heart rate, which we were not necessarily expecting,” he said. “We immediately placed a breathing tube in her airway. We started giving her oxygen, and really pretty quickly, her heart rate began to rise. She very slowly changed colors from blue to pink, and she actually began to move and began to start breathing within a few minutes.”
            By 2 years old, even though she was smaller in size than her peers, Stensrud’s daughter achieved scores that were average for a child around 20 months on Bayley III tests, according to the report. The tests, intended to measure child development up to age 3, assessed her cognitive, motor and language abilities.
            “For this little girl, we say that her fine motor was age equivalent of 20 months,” Ahmad said.
            “That is what we would expect the average 20-month baby to do,” he said. “She was at that time 24 months, but as we noted in the case, if you take into account how many weeks early she was, she was actually about 20 months, corrected.”
            She did not develop any auditory or visual impairments or cerebral palsy, according to the report, and she now attends preschool.
            “If you didn’t know that she was so preemie, you would think she’s a normal 3-year-old,” Stensrud said. “In her school, she is keeping up with all the other 3-year-olds. She loves playing with other kids. She loves everything I think a normal 3-year-old likes. She loves her baby dolls, she loves books, and she loves make-believe. She loves anything and everything her (older) brother is doing.”

            ‘The majority of infants born this early do not survive’

            Though this baby girl’s case appears to be “exceptional,” there should be caution in assessing her outcome and even her true gestational age, said Dr. Noelle Younge, assistant professor of pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the case report.
            “Except in the case of assisted reproductive technology, there is always uncertainty about gestational age dating,” Younge said.
            “First-trimester ultrasounds are generally thought to be accurate within five to seven days, so it is possible the infant may have been 22 weeks of gestation at birth,” she said. “As neonatal and obstetric care improve over time and a greater number of infants are actively treated at 22 weeks of gestation, there are likely to be more cases of infants who survive with favorable outcomes, but unfortunately, the majority of infants born this early do not survive.”
            Overall, there has been an increase in survival rates for preterm babies, according to a recent study led by Younge.
            The percentage of infants born at 22 to 24 weeks’ gestation who survived climbed from 30% around 2000 to 36% around 2011 across the United States, according to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February.

              NBA star holds premature baby for first time

            The study involved data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The researchers assessed 4,274 births at 22 to 24 weeks of gestation in centers within the institute’s Neonatal Research Network.
            The researchers found not only that survival rates increased between 2000 and 2011 but that the percentage of infants who survived without neurodevelopmental problems increased from 16% to 20%.
            “However, rates of poor outcomes remain high,” Younge said. “Continued research into the causes, preventive measures and outcomes of periviable birth is critical. We need to continue to develop ways to improve outcomes for infants born extremely preterm.”
            One turning point in understanding the medical problems and survival of preterm infants came in 1963, Ahmad noted.

            See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

            That year, President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy “had a son named Patrick who was born at 34 weeks and had a breathing complication of prematurity that, for us, would be a very easy routine to take care of,” Ahmad said.
            “At that time just over 50 years ago, the technology and medicines available were not sufficient to save him, and he passed away within a matter of days,” he said. “Since that time, we’ve had sustained improvements in care that have pushed the boundaries of how premature a baby can be born and not only survive but have a positive developmental outcome.”
            For now, Stensrud said that she hopes her baby girl’s case inspires the world.
            She didn’t agree to tell her family’s story for herself or her daughter, she said, but “for those other parents out there.”
            “From the moment she entered this world, she’s just always wanted to live,” Stensrud said of her daughter. “Now, she lives life.”

            Read more:

            Trans woman Danica Roem beat her anti-trans opponent by focusing on … roads. Seriously.

            “To every person who’s ever been singled out, who’s ever been stigmatized, who’s ever been the misfit, who’s ever been the kid in the corner, who’s ever needed someone to stand up for them when they didn’t have a voice of their own … this one’s for you,” said Virginia delegate-elect Danica Roem during a fiery victory speech on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

            Roem is a transgender woman, but her gender identity is secondary to the main issue she campaigned on: fixing Route 28.

            “That’s why I got in this race, because I’m fed up with the frickin’ road over in my home town,” she said to laughter and applause during the speech, calling on the state legislature to fix existing problems rather than creating new ones.

            Roem’s election makes her the first out transgender person who will be elected and seated in a state legislature. Photo by Danica Roem for Delegate.

            Roem used her speech to highlight the importance of focusing on unifying issues like infrastructure, ensuring teachers get fair pay, working to expand access to health care, and finding cost-effective solutions to local problems.

            “This is the important stuff,” she told the crowd. “We can’t get lost in discrimination. We can’t get lost in BS. We can’t get lost tearing each other down.”

            It’s that view, that it’s the government’s job to address issues of infrastructure and public health, that set her apart from her opponent, incumbent candidate Bob Marshall. Marshall, the self-described “chief homophobe” of Virginia, is perhaps best known for introducing a so-called “bathroom bill” designed to discriminate against trans people. Seeing a politician so obsessed with his anti-LGBTQ views have his seat won out from under him by a trans woman just feels … symbolic.

            Oh yeah, did I mention Roem is also a singer in a heavy metal band?

            Mailers sent out by her opponent’s campaign before the election warned that “[His] defeat would signal that holding these [anti-LGBTQ] principles is a detriment to being elected.”

            Hopefully, Marshall is right about that. The people who represent us in government should represent all of us, and his defeat shows many voters aren’t willing to put up with elected officials who don’t see things that way.

            In a recent interview on a right-wing radio show, Marshall showed his disdain for Roem and trans people, generally:

            “It is not a civil right to masquerade your fantasies as reality. … I’ve drawn a line. I’m not leaving it, because I don’t make the laws of nature but I think I understand them, at least at this fundamental level. I never flunked biology, so I’m not going to call a man a woman, period.”

            If a candidate wants to run on a platform of legislating trans people out of public existence or thinks it’s OK accuse their political opponents of defying the laws of nature, that should be detrimental to their odds of being elected.

            We need more candidates like Roem whose political ambitions revolve around how best to help their constituents.

            This country belongs to all of us. As Roem said in her victory speech (which is excellent, and you should watch it below) with all the intensity of a seasoned politician:

            “No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, who you love, how you identify — and yeah, how you rock — that if you have good public policy ideas and you’re well qualified for office, bring those ideas to the table because this is your America too.”

            Just as it’s not enough for Democrats to simply run on being not-Trump, perhaps this is a sign that it’s not enough for Republicans to bank on voters hating the same groups as them. During the 2016 election, then-North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory ran hard on the state’s anti-trans bathroom bill only to come up short; Marshall did the same in his race against Roem.

            Maybe, just maybe, empathy is winning out, and maybe people are coming to understand that the purpose of government isn’t to determine who to oppress, but how to help lift us all.

            Read more:

            “I Thought He Hated Me”: When Jesus Finds Out a Good Christian Girl Got an Abortion

            On the outside, Carli Salzburg looks like the all-American girl.

            Blonde hair, beautiful smile, a sweet southern accent and a contagious love for Jesus, she instantly looks like someone I’d want to be best friends with.

            Like so many strong Christians today, Carli hasn’t always walked in the way of the Lord. In fact, at one point in her life, she felt so far from God that she actually believed she was making the right decisions for herself—particularly when it came to having an abortion.

            According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 50 million abortions performed around the world each year. That equates to approximately 125,000 abortions per day. 125,000 lives that are ended before they’re even given a chance.

            After turning to drugs, alcohol and boys to fill a void in her heart following her parents’ divorce, Carli found herself pregnant at 17 with an abusive boy who was more interested in playing games and manipulating her than he actually was in Carli .

            “I had no idea who Jesus was,” Carli admits. “I had no idea that he was just waiting to wrap his arms around me, and just for me to come to him—brokenness and all.”

            In her brokenness, Carli made the decision to have an abortion.

            “I was so ashamed, I didn’t tell a soul.”

            She didn’t know it at the time, but God was working in her heart. Later that year, Carli set off for college. But before doing so, she remembers praying for godly friends.

            “I didn’t really know why, but I wanted to be different, and I wanted to know who Jesus really was.”

            Carli jokes that she’s a slow learner, but in time, Jesus heals all wounds. The pain of her parents’ divorce, the abusive relationships, the abortion, the heartbreak, it has all been made perfect in God’s perfect timing.

            Carli says she often thinks back to the decisions she made before she came to know Jesus. She reflects on her decision to abort her baby, and like most women in her position, it can be hard not to experience regret.

            She thought she would surely be disowned by her Heavenly Father after her sinful decision.

            “I kinda thought he hated me,” said Carli. “But I was wrong. God had not quit on me.”

            In seeking God, and surrounding herself with Godly community, the Lord revealed to Carli that she IS worthy, and she IS valuable.

            “He made it known to me that I am so much more than that pain and regret that I had been facing, and the decisions I made, and that’s not who defines me.”

            In the end, Carli hopes others who are carrying around the regret and weightiness of guilt that comes with having an abortion, will know that God is not finished with you yet.

            “God showed me–the girl from a Christian home, who had the abortion, who’s familiar with the regret and the shame–what it’s like to be wanted. God pursued me. All the past, all the failure, all the junk, He pursued me, out of all people.

            What would happen if you realized He was doing the same thing for you?”

            If you or someone you know is considering abortion today, visit now, or call 1-855-771-HELP (4357) to speak with a licensed Christian counselor today. If you’ve had an abortion and are interested in finding support, visit for prayer, resources, and next steps.

            Read more:

            The Shirk Report Volume 448

            Welcome to the Shirk Report where you will find 20 funny images, 10 interesting articles and 5 entertaining videos from the last 7 days of sifting. Most images found on Reddit; articles from Facebook, Twitter, and email; videos come from everywhere. Any suggestions? Send a note to

            20 IMAGES

            When he pauses and takes a deep breath (might be my fav gif this year)
            Oh look a balloon!
            I wonder what my cat looks like up close?
            When Halloween ends and your wife asks you to put out the Christmas decorations
            Bro showing a gorilla photos of other gorillas
            I’m with them
            Wait, what?
            “I’m saving my legs for the game”
            Dad reflexes
            Wait for it
            What is this blasphemy
            Oh yeah! Oh no!
            Thanks Facebook!
            Just another glitch in the Matrix
            Man, even dogs get left hanging
            When the game is on but you’re at a wedding, so you pretend to take a photo
            Damn, a whole case of them
            That’s gangsta
            Until next week

            10 ARTICLES

            Two Stars Slammed Into Each Other And Solved Half Of Astronomy’s Problems. What Comes Next?
            Your boss might be better as an algorithm
            First Digital Pill Approved to Worries About Biomedical ‘Big Brother’
            The forgotten art of squatting is a revelation for bodies ruined by sitting
            America’s Wildest Place Is Open for Business
            It’s time to stop trusting Google search already
            How the Zombie Fungus Takes Over Ants’ Bodies to Control Their Minds
            Are Honey Nut Cheerios Healthy? We Look Inside the Box
            Tragedy of the Common
            Amazon’s Last Mile

            5 VIDEOS + awesome people


            Read more:

            Let’s break down 15 terrible excuses from accused sexual harassers and predators.

            The world is currently being treated to a slow-rolling reveal of the alleged bad behavior of some of its most powerful men.

            And inevitably, with bad behavior comes excuses.

            It’s no surprise that prominent accused harassers and predators, once cornered, would try to wriggle out of accusations of sexual conduct and abuse. What is surprising is the variety in their attempts to justify their alleged behavior. Excuses by way of apology. Excuses by way of confession. Excuses by way of firm, uncompromising denial. All attempting to convey how they didn’t do what they’ve been accused of or that what they did do made sense to them in the moment. In some way, they’re the most revealing window into the personal, social, and cultural forces that enable their alleged misdeeds.

            Excuses, ultimately, reflect our beliefs about what’s just and fair. Which raises some questions: Do any of them actually put the behavior in a context that makes it, in some distressing way, understandable? Do they ever work? And what does it say about us if we believe them?

            Here are just some of the excuses we know they’ve tried:

            1. I’m from a different era, and this strange, new culture is confusing to me.

            To date, more than 50 women have accused Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein of engaging in a decades-long pattern of abusive behavior ranging from harassment to sexual coercion to rape. But lest “what he supposedly did” is coloring your impression of him, Weinstein wants you to remember he’s not an evil man: He’s just a recovering hippie!

            “I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different,” Weinstein wrote in a statement. “That was the culture then.”

            Harvey Weinstein. Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images.

            Of course. Who doesn’t remember the ’60s and ’70s? Flower power! Free love! Cornering women in a hotel room and trying to force them to watch you shower! Though the millions of other people who made it through those turbulent decades without harassing or abusing anyone — or threatening them if they told anyone and then hiring ex-spies to help cover it up — might remember those decades slightly differently, Weinstein simply refuses to let the swingin’ spirit die. No matter the decade, his behavior is less “groovy” and more “galling.”

            Weinstein’s excuse depends on eliding two wildly different notions: (1) That America failed to take workplace harassment and sexual abuse seriously in the ’60s and ’70s, and (2) that it was OK back then — or perpetrated by anyone reared back then — as a result. While the first assertion is undeniable, the second is self-serving nonsense. Just because a behavior was ignored, tolerated, or even encouraged doesn’t make it remotely close to excusable.

            2. Hey, it’s not like I didn’t ask!

            Thus wrote comedian Louis C.K. in a widely praised (and widely derided) statement confirming a New York Times report that he had masturbated in front of almost half a dozen unwilling women.

            “At the time, I said to myself that what I did was O.K. because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is … true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them.”

            Some might argue C.K.’s approach forgoes the most critical part of consent: waiting for a response. Still others might assert that without getting a “yes” or a “no” back, there’s no point in asking at all. Viewed that way, C.K.’s logic is baffling at best, and it’s both miraculous and frightening that he somehow got to the age of 50 believing the world works like this.

            More frightening still, scattered segments from C.K.’s TV show and various stand-up specials in which the comedian acknowledges viewing masturbation as a form of control or tool of revenge suggest that he did indeed know the effect his behavior had on others — and simply didn’t care.

            3. The closet made me do it. Also, I was drunk.

            Ah, alcohol. Absolver of all responsibility. Whether knocking over a glass vase, texting your roommates at 4 a.m., or sexually assaulting teenagers, some men apparently believe that acknowledging that you were blasted when it happened is a one-way express ticket to Forgiveness Town. That reportedly includes Kevin Spacey, who actor Anthony Rapp says drunkenly attempted to force himself on him when Rapp was 14.

            “If I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years,” Spacey wrote in a statement responding contritely to the alleged incident. Since the story of Rapp’s accusation broke, over a dozen more accusers have come forward.

            Kevin Spacey. Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

            To make matters worse for everyone but himself, Spacey used the space of his response to come out as a gay man — all but implying a connection between his alleged predation and his closeted sexuality. It reads as a desperate attempt to buy a modicum of sympathy at the cost of casting suspicion on millions of innocent LGBTQ Americans.

            4. It’s just what guys do.

            Donald Trump’s now-infamous comments about sexually assaulting women — “Grab ’em by the pussy” and “I moved on her like a bitch” — have largely disappeared down the memory hole, thanks to the steadily strengthening storm of scandals swirling around the now-president. Still, it’s tough to forget how the former reality show host became president in the first place: by managing to convince a depressing percentage of Americans that his unscripted admission was just a case of “boys being boys.”

            “This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago,” Trump said in a statement following the revelations.

            Was it, though? On one hand, you’ve got the producers of “Access Hollywood,” who fired Billy Bush for merely participating in that very discussion; dozens professional athletes asserting that, no, that’s not at all what locker rooms are like; not to mention the dozens of women who have come forward and accused Trump of doing pretty much exactly what he described. On the other hand, you have the word of Donald Trump, a dude who lies constantly.

            Tough call, I guess.  

            5. I knew it was wrong, but no one complained, so how wrong could it have been?

            “Toward the end of my time at ABC News, I recognized I had a problem,” journalist Mark Halperin said in a statement responding to allegations he had sexually harassed multiple women during his tenure at the network. “No one had sued me, no one had filed a human resources complaint against me, no colleague had confronted me. But I didn’t need a call from HR to know that I was a selfish, immature person who was behaving in a manner that had to stop.”

            Of course, Halperin “knew” that what he was doing was wrong in the same way that his victims likely “knew” that going to human resources to complain about their boss would get them sidelined, fired, or branded as a troublemaker. That power imbalance allows Halperin to attempt to have it both ways: pretending to take full responsibility of the allegations while slyly implying that the women he harassed share the blame for not speaking up sooner or louder.

            6. I’m too old and infirm to be a threat, and it was a joke anyway.

            George H.W. Bush. Photo by David J. Phillip – Pool/Getty Images.

            After multiple women came forward to accuse former President George H.W. Bush of groping them while posing for photos, the elder statesman did something few accused predators have the integrity to do: He admitted it.

            Still, as drafted by his spokesperson, his statement-slash-confession seemed to carry more than a whiff of an implication that his victims were needlessly slandering a harmless, disabled, old American hero:

            “To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.”

            And while it’s true that Bush is in his 90s and his arms aren’t as flexible as they used to be, a pat is different than a squeeze — and if someone squeezes your ass, you know. Not to mention, this explanation would appear to be contradicted by new reports that a less old and less infirm Bush was, apparently, no less inclined to grope the women (and girls, in some cases) standing next to him in photos.

            7. I made them stars, and this is how they repay me?!

            For some serial abusers, getting a woman her dream job apparently means assuming sexual ownership over her forever and always in exchange. Consider Roger Ailes, who reportedly made a series of unwelcome overtures to former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, even repeatedly attempting to kiss her in his office. The excuse he gave, framed as a furious denial, attempts to marshal other, generous actions as evidence to why he couldn’t or wouldn’t have engaged in misconduct.

            “I worked tirelessly to promote and advance [Megyn Kelly’s] career, as Megyn herself admitted to Charlie Rose. Watch that interview and then decide for yourself,” Ailes said. As is commonly the case, Kelly wasn’t close to alone in her accusations among the women hired by Ailes. Since former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson launched her lawsuit against her ex-boss, more than 20 women have come forward with similar allegations.

            For others, that imagined control extends to merely pretending to get women jobs. That was, allegedly, the longtime MO of director James Toback, who is accused of inviting over 200 women to professional meetings only to proposition and, occasionally, assault them once in private. Toback put his denial even more aggressively:

            “The idea that I would offer a part to anyone for any other reason than that he or she was gonna be the best of anyone I could find is so disgusting to me. And anyone who says it is a lying c*cksucker or c*nt or both.”

            8. I’m trying to be a good guy now, and I respect the hell out of women, so let’s just wipe the slate clean.

            A popular excuse, especially among various left-of-center men of Hollywood and the media, mixes a nod to contrition with a subtle appeal to tribal loyalty: “I may have been a jerk once,” the argument goes, “But I’m on the right side of the issues that you care about.”

            Here’s Casey Affleck’s response, who reportedly harassed multiple women on the set of “I’m Still Here”:  

            “There’s really nothing I can do about [the allegations] other than live my life the way I know I live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time.”

            Casey Affleck. Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images.

            And here’s what Dustin Hoffman had to say after he was accused of making inappropriate and lewd comments to a production assistant during “Death of a Salesman”:

            “I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.”

            And here are Leon Weiseltier’s words, who allegedly harassed multiple women of a series of years as editor-in-chief of The New Republic:

            “The women with whom I worked are smart and good people. I am ashamed to know that I made any of them feel demeaned and disrespected. I assure them that I will not waste this reckoning.”

            Whether that “reckoning” ever comes is often irrelevant to the alleged abuser. What matters is that enough people believe he’s an asset to whatever fight they’re fighting, leaving open the possibility that he’ll be rehabilitated by his community without having to lift a finger.

            9. This is a political ploy by my enemies to ruin me.

            Bill O’Reilly. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images.

            When in doubt, blame those bastards in the opposition party for trying to tear you down.

            “If you look at the totality, this was a hit job — a political and financial hit job,” argued Bill O’Reilly, after reports surfaced that he settled an unknown sexual harassment claim for $32 million in addition to allegations that he harassed or abused a string of coworkers during his decade-plus at Fox News.

            As a naked appeal to tribal loyalty, it’s a nefarious tactic but potentially a good deal more effective than, say, trying to shame your accusers by sharing the thank you notes they wrote you for some unrelated thing or outright blaming God — two things O’Reilly for real tried to do in the wake of allegations against him.

            10. This is a political ploy by the media to get clicks and sell papers.

            When in even more doubt, blame the fake news for whipping up people’s anger and impairing their “objectivity.”  

            “Brett Ratner vehemently denies the outrageous derogatory allegations that have been reported about him, and we are confident that his name will be cleared once the current media frenzy dies down and people can objectively evaluate the nature of these claims,” said the director’s spokesperson in a statement responding to allegations that Ratner had engaged in sexual misconduct on set.

            Despite Ratner’s denial, actor Ellen Page followed up days later with a blistering Facebook post, accusing the director of outing her against her will with an unwelcome, sexually tinged comment. Ratner as of yet hasn’t respond to her claim, unmediated by the media such as it was.

            11. It was the Russians!

            George Takei. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

            When in the most doubt, blame Vladimir Putin. As if the allegations against George Takei (which eerily paralleled a story Takei himself told Howard Stern several weeks earlier) weren’t upsetting enough, especially given Takei’s history of speaking out about the serious issue of sexual harassment, his response could not have been more bizarre:

            “A friend sent me this. It is a chart of what Russian bots have been doing to amplify stories containing the allegations against me,” Takei wrote, after allegations that he had groped a fellow actor without his consent surfaced. “It’s clear they want to cow me into silence, but do not fear friends. I won’t succumb to that.”

            12. But what about all the men who are falsely accused?

            Of course, not all of those accused of harassment or abuse are guilty, though recent studies peg the incidence of false reports at between a mere 2% to 8%. But while the guilty category is larger by leaps and bounds, that inkling of doubt too often allows alleged harassers and predators to weasel their way into the former.

            “No one wants to discourage abuse victims from speaking out, but one must bear in mind that sometimes there are people who are falsely accused and that is also a terribly destructive thing,” Woody Allen wrote in The New York Times after his daughter, Dylan Farrow, accused him of sexually assaulting her in the pages of the same paper a week earlier.

            When reached for comment on the on the Harvey Weinstein allegations, Allen told the BBC he wished to avoid “a witch-hunt atmosphere” where “every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.” It’s a frame that conflates workplace flirting (potentially harassing behavior in its own right) with Weinstein’s alleged pattern of coercion and assault or, perhaps, his own by association.

            13. No comment, through a lawyer.

            Rather than offer an excuse, which can be its own form of admission, some alleged abusers simply choose to say nothing and hope the accusation goes away. That’s what Bill Clinton did in response to claims that he raped then-nursing home operator Juanita Brodderick in a hotel after luring her there with the promise of a professional meeting. First, Clinton’s attorney called the allegations “absolutely false.” Later, Clinton himself doubled down.

            “My counsel has made a statement about the … issue, and I have nothing to add to it,” the then-president told the Washington Post.

            14. I’m a sick man.

            Anthony Weiner. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

            Of course, when the allegations become impossible to deny, some abusers see no option beyond making a full-throated, self-abasing confession. Anthony Weiner did this after pleading guilty to “transferring obscene material to a minor.”

            “This fall, I came to grips for the first time with the depths of my sickness. I had hit bottom,” he said in court. “I entered intensive treatment, found the courage to take a moral inventory of my defects, and began a program of recovery and mental health treatment that I continue to follow every day.”

            “I accept full responsibility for my conduct,” he continued. “I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse. I apologize to everyone I have hurt. I apologize to the teenage girl, whom I mistreated so badly. I am committed to making amends to all those I have harmed. Thank you.”

            Weiner certainly isn’t the first prominent accused predator to claim to be broken. Harvey Weinstein checked himself into rehab for sex addiction after allegations against him surfaced. Kevin Spacey did the same some weeks later. Weiner himself previously had done a stint at rehab. But while Weiner’s statement completely acknowledges the scope of his wrongdoing, it nonetheless contains an excuse. In some way, it implies that the former congressman’s sickness mitigates the harm his actions caused or, at the very least, absolves him of some of the blame.

            It’s evidence that even the best, most clinical excuse is substandard at best.

            Which is why the most reasonable excuse might just be:

            15. I have no excuse.

            On Nov. 1, former NPR news chief Michael Oreskes stepped down in the wake of allegations that he had harassed multiple women on the job. His acknowledgement was direct and, notably, didn’t offer an explanation for his behavior.

            “I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility.”

            Apologizing unconditionally doesn’t make it all better. It doesn’t restore the careers of the women Oreskes’ behavior likely sidelined, marginalized, or ended. And it doesn’t provide a quicker, smoother path to forgiveness. Doing so merely acknowledges what should by now be obvious.

            When it comes to harassing or abusing the people who work for you, depend on you, admire you, or simply those who are around you, there is no excuse.

            Read more:

            Supergirl Star Hospitalized, Says He ‘Almost Died’ After Eating Chipotle!

            One thing Supergirl can’t save you from? Norovirus!

            Jeremy Jordan, who plays Winn on the hit CW show, shared his first Instagram Story Thursday night to let fans know he was alive but very, very ill in the hospital.

            And it was all because he ate at Chipotle.

            Video: Rats Fall From Ceiling At Chipotle!

            Jordan shared video of his pallid face, IV drip, and hospital room, saying about the infamously illness-spreading fast food chain:

            “I know I’ve advocated for them in the past, but they’re terrible. I, as you can see, am in the hospital and I have fluids in my arm because the food did not agree with me and I almost died.”


            Jordan is scheduled to perform a “salute to Broadway” concert at the Houston Symphony on Friday night; he goes on to tell fans he hopes he can still make it.

            Get well soon, Jeremy!

            Chipotle has released an official response to the story, telling People:

            “We are sorry to hear that Jeremy is sick and have attempted to get in touch with him directly regarding where and when he ate so we can look into this. We take all claims seriously, but at this time we can’t confirm any link to Chipotle. We are always committed to making things right for our guests and will do the same for Jeremy when we are able to reach him.”

            Do YOU still eat at Chipotle??

            [Image via Instagram.]

            Read more:

            ‘Lack of humanity’: Dana Loesch unloads on nursing home staff who laughed as WWII veteran died

            Horrific footage from 2014 was released this week showing how staff at a nursing home in ignored the dying pleas of a decorated WWII veteran.

            The undercover video and depositions, which the Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation attempted to keep sealed, show how staff at the facility lied about their treatment of 89-year-old James Dempsey in the last moments of his life:

            Read more:

            Powerful Iran-Iraq earthquake is deadliest of 2017

            Tehran, Iran (CNN)At least 452 people were killed and thousands injured after a powerful earthquake struck near the border of Iran and Iraq late Sunday.

            The earthquake is the deadliest of the year, eclipsing the one that hit Mexico City in September, and was felt as far away as Turkey and Pakistan.
            Around 100 of the dead are believed to be from one town in Iran’s Kermanshah province, the country’s semi-official Mehr news agency reported.
            In response to an outpouring of sympathy and offers to help, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif issued the following statement on Monday:
              “Heartbreaking images from the earthquake damage and loss of life in Kermanshah (and in Iraq). We are grateful for global expressions of sympathy and offers of assistance. For now, we can manage with our own resources. Many thanks for all offers and we will keep you posted.”

              Latest developments:

              Iran: 445 people confirmed dead, 7,100 injured, Iran’s Press TV has reported Monday afternoon.
              Northern Iraq: 7 people dead in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, said Rekawt Hama Rasheed, the health minister of the Kurdish Regional Government. Iraq’s health ministry added that 535 people were injured.
              Rescue efforts: Authorities in Iran and Iraq have initiated rescue operations; Iran has declared three days of mourning.

              What happened

              The earthquake hit late Sunday night with the epicenter in a rural area on the Iranian side of the border, just south of the Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the US Geological Survey, which tracks earthquake activity around the world.
              The quake was at a depth of 23 km (just over 14 miles), which is considered shallow, according to the survey. It wasfelt across the region with aftershocks hitting Pakistan, Lebanon, Kuwait and Turkey, news agencies in those countries reported.
              Iraq’s Meteorological Organization issued a warning on Iraqi state TV urging citizens to stay away from buildings and to refrain from using elevators.
              Iranian President Hassan Rouhani planned to travel to Kermanshah to oversee rescue work on Tuesday, Iranian state TV reported. The country’s interior and health ministers are already there to supervise the rescue operations, it said.
              Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi tweeted Monday that he “instructed civil defense teams and health and aid agencies to do all that they can to provide assistance” to those affected by the quake.
              Meanwhile in Iran, the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sent a message of condolence and urged military and civilian help to be dispatched to quake victims.

              نخستین تصاویر از آواربرداری و بیرون کشیدن اجساد جان باختگان زلزله در سر پل ذهاب ویدئو: ستار فتاحی #ایسنا_نیوز #ایسنا #سرپل_ذهاب #زلزله ۹۶/۸/۲۲

              A post shared by Iranian Student's News Agency ( on

              Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was reportedly traveling to the affected areas to help with rescue efforts, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.
              The Iranian Red Crescent Society was working in the hard-hit areas Monday with sniffer dogs, debris-removal teams, and teams offering emergency shelter and treatment, said Mansoureh Bagheri, a spokeswoman for the Iranian Red Crescent in Tehran.
              More than 500 villages in the region suffered damage, Bagheri told CNN.
              In Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, four people were killed in Darbandikhan, where a dam was hit by falling rocks. Rahman Shikhani, the head of the Darbandikhan Dam, told CNN that cracks were spotted in the upper part of the structure but there was no water leakage.
              Meanwhile hundreds of people were injured in the region, though most of these were minor injuries, said Rasheed, the health minister.

              What eyewitnesses saw

              Majida Ameer, who lives in the south of Baghdad, said she ran to the streets with her three children after the quake hit late Sunday.
              “I was sitting with my kids having dinner and suddenly the building was just dancing in the air,” Ameer told Reuters.
              “I thought at first that it was a huge bomb. But then I heard everyone around me screaming: ‘Earthquake!'”
              Pourya Badrkhani, a music teacher in Kermanshah, Iran, told CNN he was sitting at home watching television when the quake hit.
              Badrkhani said he rushed out of his home along with his family and joined neighbors on the streets.
              He said people were donating blood to help the injured while others have volunteered to go and help the border cities, which he says were the worst affected.

              Previous earthquakes

              Iran sits on a major fault line between the Arabian and Eurasian plates and has experienced a number of earthquakes in the past.
              The deadliest this century occurred in 2003 when a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck the southeastern city of Bam, killing some 26,000 people.
              Over a decade earlier, in June 1990, an estimated 37,000 people were killed and the northern cities of Rudbar, Manjil, and Lushan were destroyed along with hundreds of villages.

              Read more:

              Bill Gates’ newest mission: Curing Alzheimer’s

              (CNN)It’s one of the holy grails of science: a cure for Alzheimer’s. Currently, there is no treatment to stop the disease, let alone slow its progression. And billionaire Bill Gates thinks he will change that.

              “I believe there is a solution,” he told me without hesitation.
              “Any type of treatment would be a huge advance from where we are today,” he said, but “the long-term goal has got to be cure.”
                I had the chance to sit down with Gates recently to talk about his newest initiative. He sat in front of our cameras exclusively to tell me how he hopes to find a cure to a disease that now steals the memories and other cognitive functions of 47 million people around the world.
                For Gates, the fight is personal. He is investing $50 million of his own money into the Dementia Discovery Fund, a private-public research partnership focused on some of the more novel ideas about what drives the brain disease, such as looking at a brain cell’s immune system. It’s the first time Gates has made a commitment to a noncommunicable disease. The work done through his foundation has focused primarily on infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria and polio.
                I have interviewed Gates many times over the years, in countries around the world. He was more engaged on this topic of Alzheimer’s than I’ve ever seen before.
                Today, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, where a new case is diagnosed every 66 seconds. More than 5 million Americans live with the disease, at a cost of $259 billion a year. Without any treatment, those numbers are projected to explode to 16 million Americans with the disease, at a cost of over $1 trillion a year, by 2050.
                “The growing burden is pretty unbelievable,” the tech guru-turned-philanthropist told me. It’s something he knows personally. “Several of the men in my family have this disease. And so, you know, I’ve seen how tough it is. That’s not my sole motivation, but it certainly drew me in.”
                When he said, “I’m a huge believer in that science and innovation are going to solve most of the tough problems over time,” I could feel his optimism.
                He told me he has spent the past year investigating and talking to scientists, trying to determine how best to help move the needle toward treatment of the disease itself rather than just the symptoms.

                A disease turns 100

                It has been more than a century since the disease was identified by German physician Dr. Alois Alzheimer. He first wrote about it in 1906, describing the case of a woman named “Auguste D.” Alzheimer called it “a peculiar disease,” marked by significant memory loss, severe paranoia and other psychological changes.
                But it wasn’t until Alzheimer performed an autopsy on her brain that the case became even more striking. He found that her brain had shrunk significantly, and there were unusual deposits in and around the nerve cells.
                It would take another 80 years for scientists to identify what those deposits were: plaques and tangles of proteins called amyloid and tau. They have become hallmarks of the disease.
                Both amyloid and tau are naturally occurring proteins that can be found in healthy brain cells. But in a brain with Alzheimer’s, something goes haywire, causing parts of amyloid proteins to clump together and block the cell’s messaging pathways. Eventually, tau proteins begin to tangle up inside the neurons.
                All of this contributes to a breakdown of the neural highway that helps our brain cells communicate. These changes in the brain can begin years before anyone starts actually exhibiting any symptoms of memory loss or personality changes.
                Until recently, it’s been a challenge to understand the disease, let alone identify who has it. The only way to definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s is still after someone has died and their brain can be examined under the microscope, looking for the telltale amyloid plaques and tau tangles.

                A new hope

                “It’s gone slower than we all would have hoped. A lot of failed drug trials,” Gates told me. And he’s right. Since 2002, there have been more than 400 Alzheimer drug trials run and yet no treatments. There are some drugs prescribed to help with cognitive symptoms such as memory loss or confusion but nothing that actually targets Alzheimer’s.
                In the past five years, advanced imaging technology has allowed us to see tau and amyloid in living people.
                Dr. James Hendrix, who heads up the Alzheimer Association’s Global Science Innovation team, believes that this development is a game-changer. “You need good tools to find the right therapeutics,” he said.
                By identifying these biomarkers earlier, Hendrix told me, scientists can work on finding ways to prevent the brain from deteriorating.
                “If we can catch the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s, then we’re treating a mostly healthy brain, and keeping it mostly healthy. … It’s very difficult to repair the damage once it’s done,” he explained.
                Dr. Rudy Tanzi agrees that imaging has been essential in understanding the pathology of Alzheimer’s and potential treatments. Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard, has been at the helm of Alzheimer’s research, discovering several of the genes associated with the disease.
                He points out that one of the greatest faults with some of the trials has not been in the treatment itself but in the application: too late in the disease’s progression, when symptoms are already occurring. “It’s like trying to give someone Lipitor when they have a heart attack,” he explained. “You had to do it earlier.”
                Tanzi said we need to think about Alzheimer’s like cancer or heart disease. “That’s how we’re going to beat the disease: early detection and early intervention.”

                Think different

                Most of the focus in Alzheimer’s research has been on tau and amyloid, what Gates likes to call “the mainstream.” With his donation, Gates hopes to spur research into more novel ideas about the disease, like investigating the role of the glial cells that activate the immune system of the brain or how the energy lifespan of a cell may contribute to the disease.
                “There’s a sense that this decade will be the one that we make a lot of progress,” Gates told me.
                Gates believes that it will be a combination of mainstream and out-of-the-box thinking that will lead to potential treatments in the near future.
                “Ideally, some of these mainstream drugs that report out in the next two or three years will start us down the path of reducing the problem. But I do think these newer approaches will eventually be part of that drug regimen that people take,” he said.

                See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

                Has looking into Alzheimer’s research caused Gates to worry about his own health?
                “Anything where my mind would deteriorate” is, he said, one of his greatest fears. He’s seen the hardship it has caused in his own family. “I hope I can live a long time without those limitations.”
                So Gates is now focused on prevention, by exercising and staying mentally engaged. “My job’s perfect, because I’m always trying to learn new things and meeting with people who are explaining things to me. You know, I have the most fun job in the world,” he said with a smile.

                Read more:

                Utah nurse reaches $500G settlement over violent arrest after blocking cop

                A Utah nurse who was arrested for refusing to let a police officer draw blood from an unconscious patient settled Tuesday with Salt Lake City and the university that runs the hospital for $500,000.

                Nurse Alex Wubbels and her lawyer, Karra Porter, announced the move nearly two months after they released police body-camera video showing Detective Jeff Payne handcuffing Wubbels. The footage drew widespread attention online amid the national debate about police use of force.

                The settlement covers all possible defendants in a lawsuit, including individual police officers, university police and hospital security guards. The payout will be divided among the city and the University of Utah.

                Wubbels plans to use part of the money to fund legal help for others trying to get similar body-camera video. She said that in cases like hers, video is essential to being heard and believed.

                “We all deserve to know the truth, and the truth comes when you see the actual raw footage, and that’s what happened in my case,” she said. “No matter how truthful I was in telling my story, it was nothing compared to what people saw and the visceral reaction people experienced when watching the footage of the experience I went through.”

                She said she also plans to give a portion of the $500,000 to a nurse’s union and help lead a campaign to stop physical and verbal abuse of nurses on the job.

                University of Utah hospital officials said in a statement they support Wubbels and have changed their procedures and training on how police and health care workers interact to ensure nothing similar happens again.

                A spokesman for Salt Lake City didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

                Wubbel was following hospital policy when she told Payne he needed a warrant or the consent of the patient to draw blood after a July 26 car crash. The patient was not under arrest or suspected of wrongdoing.

                Payne had neither. He eventually dragged Wubbels outside and handcuffed her as she screamed that she had done nothing wrong.

                She was released without being charged but has said the incident left her feeling terrified and bullied. In a call for changes, Wubbel and her lawyer released the video they had obtained through a public records request.

                Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown has since apologized and fired Payne after an internal investigation found he violated department policies.

                Brown said in a disciplinary letter that he was “deeply troubled” by Payne’s conduct, which he said brought “significant disrepute” on the department.

                Payne is appealing that decision, saying the firing was an unfair reaction to the negative publicity.

                The patient was an off-duty Idaho reserve police officer driving a semitrailer when he was hit by a man fleeing police in a pickup truck. He later died of his injuries.

                Lt. James Tracy, a police supervisor who ordered the arrest of the nurse, was demoted to officer and also is appealing. He said he suggested Payne consider handcuffing the nurse and that his superiors had never informed him of the hospital’s blood-draw policy, according to appeal documents.

                Wubbels said she was relieved at the discipline and would be disappointed if it’s overturned, though she stressed that decision is out of her control.

                “The police have to police themselves,” she said. “This is something I never would have expected to happen, but I’m also honored by the weight of it.”

                Read more:

                Worlds Most Dangerous Countries Revealed, And It May Change Your Travel Plans

                Just like last year, International SOS and Control Risks have released a map that shows just how tourist-friendly all countries are, and it’s worth looking at if you’re planning a trip for 2018 to a place you’ve never been before. After all, we all like coming back from a holiday with all of our limbs and other valuables.

                Collecting data from the World Health Organization and other institutions, the interactive ‘Travel Risk Map’ reveals just how risky countries are regarding road safety, security and medical matters. According to The Ipsos Mori Business Resilience Trends Watch 2018, 63% of people think travel-related risks have increased during the past year. In the paper, security threats and natural disasters were cited as main reasons for changed travel plans.

                Scroll down to check out how countries rank up against each other and let us know what you think about it in the comment section below!

                This is how much travelers will be risking their health in 2018 across the globe

                And this is how the world looks from a security threat point of view

                Finally, the number of road accidents

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                “I Still Have Nightmares”: Nurse Who Doctors Forced to Perform Abortion Makes Tearful Plea

                Anti-abortion lawmakers and pro-life medical professionals gathered on Capitol Hill last Wednesday in support of an end-of-year spending bill which would protect health care professionals who object to taking part in abortions.

                The Conscience Protection Act of 2017 would allow doctors, nurses, healthcare providers and institutions to sue in circumstances where they’re coerced into performing abortions, partaking in such or discriminated against for refusing to do so.

                While the current law protects against discrimination, it does not allow for legal action in cases where that law may have been broken.

                A press conference following Wednesday’s bill proposal, featured Cathy DeCarlo, a New York City-based nurse who claims despite her religious objections, she was forced in 2009 to assist a doctor in performing an abortion.

                DeCarlo recounted the day she says still gives her nightmares.

                “I was preparing for what I thought was going to be a common procedure following a miscarriage only to realize that I was being asked to perform an abortion on a live, 22-week-old unborn baby,” she said tearfully at Wednesday’s press conference.

                After seeking the resident doctor as well as her supervisor for a replacement, DeCarlo was informed she would be required to assist with the abortion.

                “I reminded her in tears about the hospital’s legal obligation to never force me to participate in an abortion, but to always find a substitute nurse—but she refused. My supervisor insisted that I had to do the abortion and that if I didn’t assist, I would be charged with insubordination and abandoning my patient. My nursing career and ability to care for patients and provide for my family would be over. I’ll never forget that day as I watched in horror as a doctor dismembered and removed the baby’s bloody limbs—and I had to account for all the pieces.”

                DeCarlo says she hopes sharing her experience will lead Congress to pass The Conscience Protection Act so that other nurses and healthcare professionals are never forced to endure the nightmare she’s re-lived for eight years now.

                A native of the Philippines, DeCarlo believes America has a duty to protect the conscience rights of healthcare workers who have made a personal commitment to protecting and saving lives.

                Another nurse who spoke at Wednesday’s event was Sandra Mendoza. The “award-winning” nurse hailing from Illinois said she lost her job in 2015 at the Winnebago County Health Department because of her “religious convictions that prevent me from taking a person’s life.”

                “I’m called to protect life, not destroy it,” she said. “While we may not all agree on abortion, I’d hope we can all agree that no doctor or nurse should be forced out of employment on account of their faith and commitment to protecting life.”

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                Doctors Remove Woman’s Womb To Perform Pioneering Surgery On Fetus Outside The Body

                Inside this glowing red orb, surrounded by the sterile blue light of the operation theatre, an unborn child is undergoing life-changing surgery.

                The stunning photograph by Béatrice de Géa shows a pioneering operation used to reverse a birth defect while the fetus is still in the mother’s womb. The 24-week-old fetus has spina bifida, a group of conditions where a baby’s spine and spinal cord don’t develop properly in the womb. Scientists are not totally certain what causes this condition, although it usually begins in the very early stages of pregnancy, eventually leaving the child with damage to their nerves, issues with bladder control, highly impaired walking, and a high chance of infection.

                Time is of the essence when it comes to this surgery – typically, doctors repair the spine within 48 hours of birth. However, only 20 percent of patients who undergo this procedure can walk independently. While doctors have been trying to master fetal surgery for spina bifida for some years, the conventional technique is still not flawless.

                Doctors from Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston are now fine-tuning an experimental method of fetal operation to reverse the damage caused by this condition by operating on the fetus while still inside the uterus, but the uterus is outside the body, as reported from the operation room by the New York Times.

                “Fetal surgery is one of the few operations with a 200 percent risk of mortality,” assisting surgeon Dr Oluyinka Olutoye told the New York Times in a second article. 

                A seen in the photograph above, pediatric neurosurgeons Dr William Whitehead and Dr Michael A Belfort led the complex 3-hour surgery on Lexi Royer, 28, and her unborn son.

                “Closure of the spinal defect before birth reduces the risk of hydrocephalus and may improve motor function in select patients,” Dr Robert Bollo, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Texas Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine said in a statement from 2012. “Fetal surgery is an exciting new tool in our multidisciplinary commitment to the life-long care of patients with spina bifida.”

                After the uterus was lifted out of her body, they inserted a miniature telescope, camera, and grasping tool into the womb, allowing doctors to see the tiny fetus. They also inserted a bright light, hence that deep red glow of the woman’s womb. Doctors drained the womb of its amniotic fluid and then inflated it with carbon dioxide to give them room to operate. Using the live video feed from the camera, they carefully “mended” the backbone and spinal cord of the 0.9-kilograms (2-pound) fetus.

                After three hours passed, this revolutionary fetal operation appeared to be a success. However, they will only definitively know after the child is born.

                All being well, the baby boy will be born on 14 January, next year.


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                How Many Calories You Really Burn At SoulCycle, Barre & Other Workout Classes

                Ever since Lady Gaga replaced her personal trainer for her own SoulCycle bike and we started shopping at Bandier instead of Lululemon, there’s been a shift in the world of working out. Boutique fitness is trendier than ever, and betches across the world are drinking the organic sugar-free Kool-Aid. I mean, there’s a Barry’s Bootcamp open in Milan, so you know this shit has gone global. Workout classes are the new jog in the park, but are they really worth the price tag? We’ve been dying to know how many calories we actually burn in these classes, so we did some digging and the results are in. Keep in mind that everyone’s bodies are different so it’s hard to give you a straightforward number, here’s how many calories you (approximately) burn in your go-to classes:

                1. Spin

                Spin classes have surprisingly been around for decades, but they didn’t really get big until SoulCycle developed a cult following the size of China’s population and was then followed by Flywheel, Peloton, Swerve, and a few other wannabes. A lot of these studios tell people they can burn up to 1,000 calories in a class, but that’s ambitious, even if you’re like, really pretty athletic. If you’re working as hard as the teacher is telling you to work, you’re probably burning around 500 calories in a 45-minute class. This obviously varies depending on the person, the class, and how much effort you’re putting in, but just think logically. Like, if I’m drenched and crippled by the end of a spin class, I know I burned a shit ton of calories. I mean, It’s like I have ESPN or something. Can I take all these free bananas now?

                2. Circuit Training & HIIT

                Circuit-style classes are becoming more and more popular recently, and it’s not just because girls have realized they’ll look good if they step off the treadmill and start lifting some weights. HIIT classes are short and effective, because the class is scientifically built to make you work in short, intense intervals that are meant to spike your heart rate and keep your body burning calories for a day after the workout. The scientific term for it is called EPOC, and the results are dope. So, even if you’re only burning like, 300-400 calories in a 40-minute HIIT class, your body is put in a calorie-burning mode, which can last up to 36 hours, depending on how hard you worked. Thank you, science.

                3. Barre & Pilates

                Barre and pilates classes are obv different in many ways, but they’re both focused on muscle toning and pulsing movements, so we’re grouping them together for convenience reasons. Basically, whether you’re on a pilates reformer or doing pulsing squats with a bouncy ball in between your legs, you’re doing resistance training, which means you’re damaging your muscles in class. Afterwards, the muscle fibers repair themselves, which makes your muscles grow and your body get toned AF. So, these classes usually burn only 200-300 calories, but the point of them is to spike your metabolic rate and strengthen your muscles, so don’t freak out if you’re not soaked and exhausted by the end of class—you’re getting more long-term results that are not just about the amount of calories you burn in class.

                4. Boxing

                Boxing has had a trendy revival lately, so we’ve been dying to know what’s so damn life-changing about these classes. Gotham Gym and The Dogpound have always been packed with celebs like Gigi Hadid, Shay Mitchell, and Karlie Kloss, but now new studios like Rumble and Shadowbox are taking over the NYC fitness scene, and it’s not just because the trainers literally look like the strong versions of Victoria’s Secret models. Boutique boxing studios incorporate traditional boxing drills in their classes, but they also usually have HIIT and strength training segments built into the class. With the cardio of boxing and the effects of weightlifting combined, these classes can burn anywhere from 500-800 calories. It’s also a cheaper form of therapy if you’re particularly angry at the moment. Just saying.

                5. Hot Yoga

                We know there are a lot of different types of yoga classes out there, but we can’t sit here and dissect the caloric differences between Vinyasa, Bikram, and Ashtanga (pretty sure that’s the name of a bomb sushi restaurant, though). We’re talking about hot yoga because people tend to think they’re burning a million calories due to the yoga poses being done at such a high temperature. While it’s true that hot yoga classes take place in rooms set at over 100 degrees, the extra heat just makes your body lose extra water, not fat. If you’re taking a rigorous yoga class, you could technically burn up to 400 calories, but most probably clock in at around 200. Basically, the “hot” part doesn’t mean more calories burned, it just means one more day that you can’t rely on dry shampoo again. Kind of a bummer.

                6. Dance Cardio

                Although Zumba hit its peak in 2009 and pretty much died since then, there are a lot of types of dance-based workouts that burn a ton of calories. Again, everyone’s bodies are so different, but if you’re really jumping around and kicking your legs in the air for an hour straight, you can probably burn up to 500-600 calories. 305Fitness in NYC claims you’ll burn 800 in a class, but that’s probably a stretch, unless you’re that annoying person in the front row who does the absolute most the entire time (you know the one). Most dance cardio classes take breaks and have active rest periods, so it’s obviously not as intense as spin or boxing. But then again, a workout is a workout, so if you’d rather dance than peddle on a bike until your quads feel like they’re literally on fire, we totally get it. Do the dance class. 

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                We want our Brexit cash boost – NHS boss

                Image caption NHS England’s boss said trust in politics would be damaged if the NHS did not get more

                The health service should get the cash boost it was promised during the EU referendum, NHS England’s boss says.

                Simon Stevens used controversial claims used by Vote Leave – that the NHS could benefit by £350m a week – to put the case for more money in a major speech.

                With waiting times worsening, he said trust in politics would be damaged if the NHS did not get more.

                He said the budget had grown modestly in recent years, but those rises would “nose-dive” in the next few years.

                He said if action was not taken the NHS would really start to struggle, predicting hospital waiting lists could grow by a quarter to five million by 2021.

                The speech by Mr Stevens at the NHS Providers’ annual conference of health managers is highly political, coming just a fortnight before the Budget.

                If you can’t see the NHS Tracker, click or tap here.

                ‘Honour the Brexit promises’

                During the referendum it was claimed £350m a week was sent to the EU and that would be better spent on the NHS.

                The claim was widely contested at the time and ever since – it did not take into account the rebate the UK had nor the fact the UK benefited from investment from the EU.

                Some argued it proved highly influential in the referendum result.

                Mr Stevens refused to be drawn on just how much money he was after – sources close to him said he was not specifically asking for an extra £350m a week, which would work out at an extra £18bn a year.

                Instead, they said it just needed to be significantly more than had been promised to date if waiting times were not to worsen.

                It comes as three highly influential health think-tanks – the King’s Fund, the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation – published a joint report calling for an extra £4bn to be given to health next year.

                That amounts to eight times more than health spending is due to rise by.

                He told delegates in Birmingham: “The NHS wasn’t on the ballot paper, but it was on the ballot bus, ‘Vote Leave for a better funded health service, £350m a week.’

                “Rather than our criticising these clear Brexit funding commitments to NHS patients – promises entered into by cabinet ministers and by MPs – the public want to see them honoured.

                Image copyright Getty Images

                “Trust in democratic politics will not be strengthened if anyone now tries to argue, ‘You voted Brexit, partly for a better funded health service. But precisely because of Brexit, you now can’t have one.'”

                He said the “modest” rises seen in recent years were set to “nose-drive” in the next two, with the budget growing by 0.4% next year and by less than 1% the year after once inflation was taken into account.

                Mr Stevens said if that continued “choking” of investment happened the NHS would have to “turn back a decade of progress”.

                He warned a hospital waiting list of five million by 2021 was likely – meaning a 10th of the population would be waiting for treatment.

                Currently, just under four million people are.

                Targets ‘being missed’

                NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson has also given his backing to extra money.

                He pointed out key targets for A&E, routine operations and cancer care were already being widely missed.

                “The Budget is an important opportunity, at the beginning of this Parliament, to protect care quality for patients and service users and help the NHS break out of the downward spiral in which it is currently trapped.

                “There isn’t enough funding to cope.”

                The government has promised the NHS front-line budget will be £8bn a year higher by 2022 – once inflation is taken into account – than it is now.

                But that does not take into account the whole health budget – which also includes spending on things such as training and healthy lifestyle services, like stop smoking services.

                Once that is factored in, the current average annual increase are running at less than 1%, but that dips in the coming years.

                Historically, the service has enjoyed annual rises of about 4% to cover the cost of the ageing population and new drugs.

                A Department of Health spokesman said: “Research shows spending on the NHS is in line with most other European countries, and the public can be reassured that the government is committed to continued investment in the health service.”

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                ‘She owes you NOTHING’! Marie Claire THROTTLED for bullying Taylor Swift over politics

                Marie Claire has had just about enough of Taylor Swift just trying to enjoy her successful career, thank you very much:

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                Jeff Flake 2

                Jeff Flake is going out with a bang, and Donald Trump is notgoing to like it. 

                The Republican senator from Arizona announced on Tuesday that he’s not running for re-election in 2018. And then he denounced President Donald Trump and everything Trump represents on the Senate floor. 

                “We must never regard as ‘normal’ the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals,” Flake said, according to his prepared speech.

                He continued, “Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as ‘telling it like it is,’ when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified.”

                “And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else: It is dangerous to a democracy.”

                He also laid into Republican politicians, who have enabled Trump by biting their tongues when he goes off the rails. 

                “When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do — because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseum — when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of the institutions of our liberty, then we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations.”

                “Despotism loves a vacuum”

                Finally, he warned that abandoning our values would benefit America’s enemies. 

                “Despotism loves a vacuum.  And our allies are now looking elsewhere for leadership. Why are they doing this? None of this is normal. And what do we as United States Senators have to say about it?”

                Reaction was split between those who found Flake brave for standing up to Trump and his own party …

                … to those who noted that Flake still supported much of Trump’s agenda, and faced a tough primary and general election in 2018, which means it’s no guarantee he’d win anyway. 

                Regardless, Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now have one more Republican enemy in Congress. Sen. Bob Corker announced last month that he also wasn’t running for re-election in 2018, and hasn’t been shy about his disdain for the president. 

                And John McCain — who torpedoed Trump’s health care plan — has also been speaking out against the president. On Tuesday, McCain tweeted his support for his fellow Arizona senator. 

                Donald Trump spent Tuesday morning slamming Corker with childish insults. It’s a pretty good bet he’s about to rage-tweet about Flake very soon. 

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                11 Devastating Signs Youve Been Abused By A Malignant Narcissist

                Sam Burriss

                Imagine this: your entire reality has been warped and distorted. You have been mercilessly violated, manipulated, lied to, ridiculed, demeaned and gaslighted into believing that you are imagining things.  The person you thought you knew and the life you built together have been shattered into a million little fragments.

                Your sense of self has been eroded, diminished. You were idealized, devalued, then shoved off the pedestal. Perhaps you were even replaced and discarded multiple times, only to be ‘hoovered’ and lured back into an abuse cycle even more torturous than before. Maybe you were relentlessly stalked, harassed and bullied to stay with your abuser.

                This was no normal break-up or relationship: this was a set-up for covert and insidious murder of your psyche and sense of safety in the world. Yet there may not be visible scars to tell the tale; all you have are broken pieces, fractured memories and internal battle wounds.

                This is what narcissistic abuse looks like.

                Psychological violence by malignant narcissists can include verbal and emotional abuse, toxic projection, stonewalling, sabotage, smear campaigns, triangulation along with a plethora of other forms of coercion and control. This is imposed by someone who lacks empathy, demonstrates an excessive sense of entitlement and engages in interpersonal exploitation to meet their own needs at the expense of the rights of others.

                As a result of chronic abuse, victims may struggle with symptoms of PTSDComplex PTSD if they had additional traumas like being abused by narcissistic parents or even what is known as “Narcissistic Victim Syndrome” (Cannonville, 2015; Staggs 2016). The aftermath of narcissistic abuse can include depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, a pervasive sense of  toxic shame, emotional flashbacks that regress the victim back to the abusive incidents, and overwhelming feelings of helplessness and worthlessness.

                When we are in the midst of an ongoing abuse cycle, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what we are experiencing because abusers are able to twist and turn reality to suit their own needs, engage in intense love-bombing after abusive incidents and convince their victims that they are the ones who are abusers.

                If you find yourself experiencing the eleven symptoms below and you are or have been in a toxic relationship with a partner that disrespects, invalidates and mistreats you, you may just have been terrorized by an emotional predator:

                1. You experience dissociation as a survival mechanism.

                You feel emotionally or even physically detached from your environment, experiencing disruptions in your memory, perceptions, consciousness and sense of self. As Dr. Van der Kolk (2015) writes in his book, , “Dissociation is the essence of trauma. The overwhelming experience is split off and fragmented, so that the emotions, sounds, images, thoughts and physical sensations take on a life of their own.”

                Dissociation can lead to emotional numbing in the face of horrific circumstances. Mind-numbing activities, obsessions, addictions and repression may become a way of life because they give you an escape from your current reality. Your brain finds ways to emotionally block out the impact of your pain so you do not have to deal with the full terror of your circumstances.

                You may also develop traumatized ‘inner parts’ that become disjointed from the personality you inhabit with your abuser or loved ones (Johnston, 2017). These inner parts can include the inner child parts that were never nurtured, the true anger and disgust you feel towards your abuser or parts of yourselves you feel you cannot express around them.

                According to therapist Rev. Sheri Heller (2015), “Integrating and reclaiming dissociated and disowned aspects of the personality is largely dependent on constructing a cohesive narrative, which allows for the assimilation of emotional, cognitive, and physiological realities.” This inner integration is best done with the help of a trauma-informed therapist.

                2. You walk on eggshells.

                A common symptom of trauma is avoiding anything that represents reliving the trauma – whether it be people, places or activities that pose that threat. Whether it be your friend, your partner, your family member, co-worker or boss, you find yourself constantly watching what you say or do around this person lest you incur their wrath, punishment or become the object of their envy.

                However, you find that this does not work and you still become the abuser’s target whenever he or she feels entitled to use you as an emotional punching bag. You become perpetually anxious about ‘provoking’ your abuser in any way and may avoid confrontation or setting boundaries as a result.

                You may also extend your people-pleasing behavior outside of the abusive relationship, losing your ability to be spontaneous or assertive while navigating the outside world, especially with people who resemble or are associated with your abuser and the abuse.

                3. You put aside your basic needs and desires, sacrificing your emotional and even your physical safety to please the abuser.

                You may have once been full of life, goal-driven and dream-oriented. Now you feel as if you are living just to fulfill the needs and agendas of another person. Once, the narcissist’s entire life seemed to revolve around you; now your entire life revolves around .

                You may have placed your goals, hobbies, friendships and personal safety on the back burner just to ensure that your abuser feels ‘satisfied’ in the relationship. Of course, you soon realize that he or she will never truly be satisfied regardless of what you do or don’t do.

                4. You are struggling with health issues and somatic symptoms that represent your psychological turmoil.

                You may have gained or lost a significant amount of weight, developed serious health issues that did not exist prior and experienced physical symptoms of premature aging. The stress of chronic abuse has sent your cortisol levels into overdrive and your immune system has taken a severe hit, leaving you vulnerable to physical ailments and disease (Bergland, 2013).

                You find yourself unable to sleep or experiencing terrifying nightmares when you do, reliving the trauma through emotional or visual flashbacks that bring you back to the site of the original wounds (Walker, 2013).

                5. You develop a pervasive sense of mistrust.

                Every person now represents a threat and you find yourself becoming anxious about the intentions of others, especially having experienced the malicious actions of someone you once trusted. Your usual caution becomes hypervigilance. Since the narcissistic abuser has worked hard to gaslight you into believing that your experiences are invalid, you have a hard time trusting anyone, including yourself.

                6. You experience suicidal ideation or self-harming tendencies.

                Along with depression and anxiety may come an increased sense of hopelessness. Your circumstances feel unbearable, as if you cannot escape, even if you wanted to. You develop a sense of learned helplessness that makes you feel as if you don’t wish to survive another day. You may even engage in self-harm as a way to cope.

                As Dr. McKeon (2014), chief of the suicide prevention branch at SAMHSA notes, victims of intimate partner violence are twice as likely to attempt suicide multiple times. This is the way abusers essentially commit murder without a trace.

                7. You self-isolate.

                Many abusers isolate their victims, but victims also isolate themselves because they feel ashamed about the abuse they’re experiencing. Given the victim-blaming and misconceptions about emotional and psychological violence in society, victims may even be retraumatized by law enforcement, family members, friends and the harem members of the narcissist who might invalidate their perceptions of the abuse.

                They fear no one will understand or believe them, so instead of reaching out for help, they decide to withdraw from others as a way to avoid judgment and retaliation from their abuser.

                8. You find yourself comparing yourself to others, often to the extent of blaming yourself for the abuse.

                A narcissistic abuser is highly skilled at manufacturing love triangles or bringing another person into the dynamic of the relationship to further terrorize the victim. As a result, victims of narcissistic abuse internalize the fear that they are not enough and may constantly strive to ‘compete’ for the abuser’s attention and approval.

                Victims may also compare themselves to others in happier, healthier relationships or find themselves wondering why their abuser appears to treat complete strangers with more respect. This can send them down the trapdoor of wondering, “why me?” and stuck in an abyss of self-blame. The truth is, the abuser is the person who should be blamed – you are in no way responsible for being abused.

                9. You self-sabotage and self-destruct.

                Victims often find themselves ruminating over the abuse and hearing the abuser’s voice in their minds, amplifying their negative self-talk and tendency towards self-sabotage. Malignant narcissists ‘program’ and condition their victims to self-destruct – sometimes even to the point of driving them to suicide.

                Due to the narcissist’s covert and overt put-downs, verbal abuse and hypercriticism, victims develop a tendency to punish themselves because they carry such toxic shame. They may sabotage their goals, dreams and academic pursuits. The abuser has instilled in them a sense of worthlessness and they begin to believe that they are undeserving of good things.

                10. You fear doing what you love and achieving success.

                Since many pathological predators are envious of their victims, they punish them for succeeding. This conditions their victims to associate their joys, interests, talents and areas of success with cruel and callous treatment. This conditioning gets their victims to fear success lest they be met with reprisal and reprimand.

                As a result, victims become depressed, anxious, lack confidence and they may hide from the spotlight and allow their abusers to ‘steal’ the show again and again. Realize that your abuser is not undercutting your gifts because they truly believe you are inferior; it is because those gifts threaten their control over you.

                11. You protect your abuser and even ‘gaslight’ yourself.

                Rationalizing, minimizing and denying the abuse are often survival mechanisms for victims in an abusive relationship. In order to reduce the cognitive dissonance that erupts when the person who claims to love you mistreats you, victims of abuse convince themselves that the abuser is really not ‘all that bad’ or that they must have done something to ‘provoke’ the abuse.

                It is important to reduce this cognitive dissonance by reading up on the narcissistic personality and abuse tactics; this way, you are able to reconcile your current reality with the narcissist’s false self by recognizing that the abusive personality, not the charming facade, is their true self.

                Remember that an intense trauma bond is often formed between victim and abuser because the victim is ‘trained’ to rely on the abuser for his or her survival (Carnes, 2015). Victims may protect their abusers from legal consequences, portray a happy image of the relationship on social media or overcompensate by ‘sharing the blame’ of the abuse.

                I’ve been narcissistically abused. Now what?

                If you are currently in an abusive relationship of any kind, know that you are not alone even if you feel like you are. There are millions of survivors all over the world who have experienced what you have.  This form of psychological torment is not exclusive to any gender, culture, social class or religion. The first step is becoming aware of the reality of your situation and validating it – even if your abuser attempts to gaslight you into believing otherwise.

                If you can, journal about the experiences you have been going through to begin acknowledging the realities of the abuse. Share the truth with a trusted mental health professional, domestic violence advocates, family members, friends or fellow survivors. Begin to ‘heal’ your body through modalities like trauma-focused yoga and mindfulness meditation, two practices that target the same parts of the brain often affected by trauma (van der Kolk, 2015).

                Reach out for help if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, especially suicidal ideation. Consult a trauma-informed counselor who understands and can help guide you through the symptoms of trauma. Make a safety plan if you have concerns about your abuser getting violent.

                It is not easy to leave an abusive relationship due to the intense trauma bonds that can develop, the effects of trauma and the pervasive sense of helplessness and hopelessness that can form as a result of the abuse. Yet you have to know that it is in fact possible to leave and to begin the journey to No Contact or Low Contact in the cases of co-parenting. Recovery from this form of abuse is challenging, but it is well worth paving the path back to freedom and putting the pieces back together.

                Works Cited
                Bergland, C. (2013, January 22). Cortisol: Why “The Stress Hormone” is public enemy no. 1. Retrieved August 21, 2017.
                Clay, R. A. (2014). Suicide and intimate partner violence.  (10), 30. Retrieved here.
                Canonville, C. L. (2015). Narcissistic Victim Syndrome: What the heck is that? Retrieved August 18, 2017.
                Carnes, P. (2015). . Health Communications, Incorporated.
                Heller, S. (2015, February 18). Complex PTSD and the realm of dissociation. Retrieved August 21, 2017.
                Johnston, M. (2017, April 05). Working with our inner parts. Retrieved August 21, 2017.
                Staggs, S. (2016). Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. . Retrieved on August 21, 2017.
                Staggs, S. (2016). Symptoms & Diagnosis of PTSD. . Retrieved on August 21, 2017.
                Van der Kolk, B. (2015). . London: Penguin Books.
                Walker, P. (2013). . Lafayette, CA: Azure Coyote.

                This article originally appeared on Psych Central as 11 Signs You’re the Victim of Narcissistic Abuse on August 21, 2017.

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                Acid reflux drug linked to more than doubled risk of stomach cancer study

                There are more than 50m prescriptions for proton pump inhibitors in the UK, though they have previously been linked to side-effects and increased risk of death

                A drug commonly used to treat acid reflux is linked to a more than doubled risk of developing stomach cancer, researchers have claimed.

                Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce the amount of acid made by the stomach and are used to treat acid reflux and stomach ulcers.

                A study published in the journal Gut identified an association between long-term use of the drug and a 2.4 times higher risk of developing stomach cancer. In the UK, there are more than 50m prescriptions for PPIs every year but they have been linked to side-effects and an increased risk of death.

                A link between PPIs and a higher stomach cancer risk has previously been identified by academics but never in a study that first eliminates a bacteria suspected of fuelling the illnesss development.

                Research by the University of Hong Kong and University College London found that after the Helicobacter pylori was removed, the risk of developing the disease still rose in line with the dose and duration of PPI treatment.

                They compared the use of PPI against another drug which limits acid production known as H2 blockers in 63,397 adults. The participants selected had been treated with triple therapy, which combines PPI and antibiotics to kill off the H pylori bacteria over a week, between 2003 and 2012.

                Scientists then monitored them until they either developed stomach cancer, died or reached the end of the study at the end of 2015.

                During this period, 3,271 people took PPIs for an average of almost three years, while 21,729 participants took H2 blockers. A total of 153 people developed stomach cancer, none of whom tested positive for H plyori but all had long-standing problems with stomach inflammation, the study found.

                While H2 blockers were found to have no link to a higher risk of stomach cancer, PPIs was found connected to an increased risk of more than double.

                Daily use of PPIs was associated with a risk of developing the illness that was more than four times higher (4.55) than those who used it weekly. Similarly, when the drug was used for more than a year, the risk of developing stomach cancer rose five-fold, and as high as eight-fold after three or more years, the findings showed.

                The study concluded no firm cause and effect could be drawn, but doctors should exercise caution when prescribing long-term PPIs even after successful eradication of H plyori.

                Responding to the study, Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: Many observational studies have found adverse effects associated with PPIs.

                The most plausible explanation for the totality of evidence on this is that those who are given PPIs, and especially those who continue on them long-term, tend to be sicker in a variety of ways than those for whom they are not prescribed.

                Read more:

                Trump warns McCain: ‘Be careful because at some point I fight back’

                Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump, hours after Sen. John McCain delivered a speech that repudiated the President, warned the Arizona Republican to “be careful” because at some point he will “fight back.”

                McCain, while accepting the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia on Monday night, warned the United States against turning toward “half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.”
                The speech was a repudiation of Trump, who the Arizona Republican has long feuded with, and the worldview that catapulted him to office.
                  Trump told Chris Plante of “The Chris Plante Show” on Tuesday that he heard the criticism and warned McCain to be careful.
                  “He was taking shots at you again yesterday,” Plante said. “You heard what he said yesterday, Sen. McCain?”
                  “Yeah, well I hear it. And people have to be careful because at some point I fight back,” Trump said. “I’m being very nice. I’m being very, very nice. But at some point I fight back, and it won’t be pretty.”
                  Responding to Trump’s threat, McCain bluntly told reporters Tuesday: “I’ve faced far greater challenges than this.”
                  McCain and Trump’s feud has dated back years, ever since the then-2016 candidate said the senator wasn’t a war hero because he was captured in Vietnam.
                  “He is not a war hero,” Trump told pollster Frank Luntz in 2015.
                  “He is a war hero,” Luntz interjected.
                  “He is a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said, cutting him off. “I like people that weren’t captured, OK? I hate to tell you. He is a war hero because he was captured.”

                    Donald Trump questions if McCain is a war hero

                  The feud continued throughout the 2016 campaign, with McCain regularly faulting the Republican standard bearer for comments he made on the campaign trail. McCain withdrew his support for Trump when the “Access Hollywood” video was made public, showing the 2016 Republican nominee bragging about sexually assaulting women.
                  Both Trump and McCain won re-election, but their feud continued, with the Arizona senator casting a deciding vote against the Republican health care plan.
                  The act of defiance stung Trump.
                  “Sen. McCain, you mean the one who voted against Obamacare?” Trump asked, rhetorically, during a sweeping August news conference. “You mean Sen. McCain who voted against us getting good health care?”
                  This public back-and-forth contributed to McCain’s speech Monday, where he was honored by Democrats and Republicans alike for a lifetime of service. McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year.
                  The Arizona senator and his party’s 2008 presidential nominee described that “half-baked, spurious nationalism” as “unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

                  Read more:

                  ICYMI: Dacre Montgomery’s Audition Tape For Stranger Things Is One Of The Best We’ve EVER Seen!

                  Dacre Montgomery is a star on the rise.

                  While the Australian actor made a splash as the Red Ranger in the 2017 reboot of Power Rangers, he’s certainly sky-rocketed to fame thanks to his role as Billy Hargrove in the second season of

                  In an attempt to stand out, Montgomery sliced together his audition tape into a mini-movie of sorts. Not only did his reel feature an intense scene from Stand By Me, but Dacre also included a SHIRTLESS dance number to the ’80s classic, Come On Eileen. AH-Mazing!

                  He may not be an A-lister yet, but he could make it if he keeps this up!

                  Be sure to ch-ch-check out Dacre’s audition, and other impressive early A-list tapes, for yourself (below)!!

                  CLICK HERE to view “Early A-Lister Audition Tapes!”

                  CLICK HERE to view “Early A-Lister Audition Tapes!”

                  CLICK HERE to view “Early A-Lister Audition Tapes!”

                  CLICK HERE to view “Early A-Lister Audition Tapes!”

                  CLICK HERE to view “Early A-Lister Audition Tapes!”

                  Read more:

                  Bearded dudes pose for merman calendar to raise money for a worthy cause

                  Behold the “Merb’ys”—a breed of Canadian bearded mermen flapping their fur and fins for a good cause. 

                  The gentlemen of Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club are posing in nowt but their merman garb for a dudeoir-style calendar to raise money for mental health organisation Spirit Horse NL.

                  And, the photos certainly don’t disappoint. The calendar—which can be previewed online—features bearded mermen posing in pumpkin patches, pubs, and on various beaches. 

                  The Merb’ys are thus-named because “the Newfoundland mermen are a different breed,” says Hasan Hai, founder of the beard and moustache club. Hai came up with the idea of a merman calendar after a friend of his posted a photo from a mercreature themed dudeoir shoot on his Facebook wall. 

                  He decided to organise a calendar, and posted an “open call to the universe” on social media, which received an unexpectedly high response. 70 or 80 people got in touch with Hai, offering to model or photograph. 

                  Hai knew he wanted to raise money for charity, but hadn’t yet settled on a charity. When he came across Sprit Horse NL and heard the stories of the people they help, he suggested using the calendar to raise money for the organisation. 

                  “It basically uses horses to provide equine therapy for people with mental illness, people who want to live better lives, people with physical limitation,” Hai told CBC. 

                  Donning a fin was a challenge for the men during the calendar shoots. “Moving around in a fishtail is not as easy as you would think,” Hai continued, adding that there was “a lot of hopping” and squirming involved behind the scenes.  

                  The calendar, which has received an overwhelming number of pre-orders, can be purchased online for $25 CAD ($19.70 USD, £14.99) from the Beard and Moustache Club website. 

                  Major props to the Merb’ys of Newfoundland!

                  Read more:

                  Researchers Have Discovered A “Functional Cure” For HIV

                  With one confirmed exception – the Berlin patient – no one has been cured of HIV. It is possible to nullify the symptoms of the virus, however, and there have also been several cases where levels of the virus in the blood have been essentially undetectable – meaning that the patient can’t pass on the infection to another person.

                  Although not a definitive cure, this type of viral drawdown can be described as a “functional cure.” Now it seems that scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) may have just found another way to obtain one.

                  Writing in the journal Cell Reports, they explain how a new type of drug appears to suppress the virus’ replication in chronically infected cells. This prevents viral rebound – wherein the levels of virus in a patient shoot up after an initial slump – even during treatment interruptions.

                  This has been described by the team as a “Block-and-Lock” approach, in that the reactivation of the virus within cells is prevented and HIV in the patient enters a latent state, doing no harm to the body.

                  “When combining this drug with the standard cocktail of anti-retrovirals used to suppress infection in humanized mouse models of HIV-1 infection, our study found a drastic reduction in virus RNA present,” TSRI Associate Professor Susana Valente, the coordinating author of the study, said in a statement.

                  “No other anti-retroviral used in the clinic today is able to completely suppress viral production in infected cells in vivo,” she added.

                  In the mice tested, they were shown not to experience a viral rebound for up to 19 days after they stopped receiving doses of the compound. In half of all treated mice, the virus was undetectable for 16 days after the treatment stopped. Imagine if the same effect could be reproduced in HIV-positive people.

                  The focus of the research was a compound named didehydro-Cortistatin A, or dCA for short. First isolated from the marine sponge Corticum simplex back in 2006, a researcher at TSRI managed to synthesize it in a laboratory just two years later.

                  The TSRI team have been working with it for some time now, and in 2015 announced that it has HIV-disrupting characteristics. This new study confirms that it blocks Tat, a regulatory protein that boosts the rate in which HIV copies DNA into RNA – a vital process in its life cycle.

                  “It is really the proof-of-concept for a ‘functional cure,’” Valente explained. She also pointed out that the maximum dose of the drug had “virtually no side effects.”

                  HIV/AIDS used to be a life-destroying disease. Now people can not only live normal lives with it, but they can see how science is paving the way to both functional, and complete, cures.


                  Read more:

                  50 Shades Of Gaslighting: Disturbing Signs An Abuser Is Twisting Your Reality

                  “The erasure of the abuse was worse than the abuse…One of the most insidious things about gaslighting is the denial of reality. Being denied what you have seen. Being denied what you have experienced and know to be true. It can make you feel like you are crazy. But you are not crazy.” – Ariel Leve, How to Survive Gaslighting: When Manipulation Erases Your Reality
                  Joshua Fuller

                  How do you convince someone that something they to be true isn’t? In psychology, what is known as the “illusory truth effect” is a phenomenon in which a listener comes to believe something primarily because it has been repeated so often. When an abuser continually tells you that you are oversensitive or that what you are experiencing is in no way abuse, you begin believing it, even if you know deep down it isn’t true.

                  In other words, a lie that is repeated long enough eventually can be seen as the truth. Researchers Hasher, Goldstein and Toppino (1997) discovered that when a statement (even when it is false and readers know it to be false) is repeated multiple times, it was more likely to be rated as true simply due to the effects of repetition. This is because when we’re assessing a claim, we rely on either the credibility of the source from which the claim is derived or familiarity with that claim. Surprisingly, familiarity often trumps credibility or rationality when assessing the perceived validity of a statement (Begg, Anas, and Farinacci, 1992; Geraci, L., & Rajaram, 2016).

                  The illusory truth effect can cause us to become susceptible to the effects of another dangerous form of reality erosion known as gaslighting. Deliberate manipulators who gaslight with the intention of eroding your reality and rewriting history tend to use the “illusory truth effect” to their advantage. They will repeat falsehoods so often that they become ingrained in the victim’s mind as unshakeable truths.

                  When this is done repeatedly to override what was truly experienced, it can leave an immense dent in the fabric of someone’s perceptions and ability to trust themselves. When used chronically to control a victim, it becomes a damaging aspect of psychological abuse, placing the survivor at risk for depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidal ideation and even what is called by some therapists as “Narcissistic Victim Syndrome” (Louis de Canonville, 2012; Van der Kolk, 2016; Walker, 2013; WolfFord-Clevinger, 2017).

                  What is Gaslighting?

                  The term “gaslighting” first originated in Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play, , in which a manipulative husband drives his wife to the brink of insanity by causing her to question her own reality. It was also popularized in the 1944 film adaptation, a psychological thriller about a man named Gregory Anton (played by Charles Boyer) who murders a famous opera singer and later marries her niece, Paula (played by Ingrid Bergman) to gain access to the rest of her family jewels.

                  Gregory erodes his new wife’s sense of reality by making her believe that her aunt’s house is haunted in the hope that she will be institutionalized. He does everything from rearranging items in the house, flickering gas lights on and off to making noises in the attic so she feels as if she’s becoming unhinged. He isolates her so that she is unable to seek support for the terror she is experiencing. The real kicker? After manufacturing these crazymaking scenarios, he then convinces her that these events are all a figment of her imagination.

                  Gaslighting has become a well-known term in the abuse survivor community, particularly for the survivors of malignant narcissists. Unlike more vulnerable narcissists who may possess more of a capacity for remorse, malignant narcissists truly believe in their superiority, are grandiose and lie on the higher end of the narcissistic spectrum. They have antisocial traits, demonstrate paranoia, bear an excessive sense of entitlement, show a callous lack of empathy and display an egregious liking for interpersonal exploitation.

                  Gaslighting provides malignant narcissists with a portal to erase the reality of their victims without a trace. It is a method that enables them to commit covert psychological murder with clean hands.

                  Is Gaslighting Intentional?

                  One might wonder: is gaslighting intentional? After all, we’ve all had experiences where we’ve inadvertently invalidated someone’s experience without meaning to. Perhaps we lacked enough information about the matter. Maybe we were defensive about being right. Or, we just didn’t agree with their “interpretation” of events. What Dr. Sherman calls “everyday gaslighting” may occur due to human error – but that does not negate the danger of gaslighting when it is used to emotionally terrorize someone.

                  In the context of an abusive relationship, gaslighting is used to deliberately undercut the victim’s reality and make him or her more malleable to mistreatment. As Dr. Sarkis writes in her article, “Are Gaslighters Aware of What They Do?” not gaslighters engage in it intentionally, but those who are cult leaders, dictators and malignant narcissists most certainly do so with an agenda in mind.

                  As she writes, “The goal is to make the victim or victims question their own reality and depend on the gaslighter…In the case of a person who has a personality disorder such as antisocial personality disorder, they are born with an insatiable need to control others.”

                  Gaslighting allows perpetrators to evade accountability for their actions, to deflect responsibility and exercise their control over their partners with alarming ease.

                  “Narcissists are like Teflon; nothing sticks. They don’t take responsibility. For anything. They are master deflectors and try to avoid the blame when cheating, stealing and everything in between. They make up complex excuses and can rationalize anything. When they are finally called out, they are quick to claim they are being persecuted, though they may be apologetic for a minute. When someone never takes responsibility for anything – words, actions, feelings – it is a challenging, if not impossible way to maintain a relationship.” Dr. Durvasula,

                  Beliefs, after all, are immensely powerful. They have the power to create division, build or destroy nations, end or start wars. To mold the beliefs of an unsuspecting target to suit your own agendas is to essentially control their behavior and even potentially change their life-course trajectory. If narcissistic Calvin decides he wants to wreak havoc over his girlfriend Brianna’s reality, all he has to do is to convince her that she cannot trust herself or her instincts – especially about the abuse she is experiencing.

                  How Does Gaslighting Unfold?

                  As Dr. Robin Stern notes in her book,

                  “The Gaslight Effect results from a relationship between two people: a gaslighter, who needs to be right in order to preserve his own sense of self, and his sense of having power in the world; and a gaslightee, who allows the gaslighter to define {his or} her sense of reality because she idealizes him and seeks his approval.”

                  It is in the victim seeking validation and approval from the gaslighter that the danger begins to unfold. Gaslighting is essentially psychological warfare, causing a victim to habitually question himself or herself. It is employed as a power play to regain control over the victim’s psyche, sense of stability and sense of self.

                  By playing puppeteer to the survivor’s perceptions, the manipulator is able to pull the strings in every context where his or her target feels powerless, confused, disoriented and on edge, perpetually walking on eggshells to keep the peace.

                  What Gaslighting Looks Like: An Example

                  Imagine this scenario: Diana and Robert* have been dating for several months. Diana thinks she’s met the “one” – Robert is generous, kind, supportive and funny. They become enamored with each other quickly and move in together shortly after their one-year anniversary. As soon as Diana signs the lease on their new apartment, however, it is evident that there is some trouble in paradise. Robert’s usual warmth and affection begins to wane. After several months, Diana notices that he has more become inexplicably cold and withdrawn.  He lashes out more often, creates nonsensical arguments (in which he uses Diana as a scapegoat for every issue) and criticizes her on a daily basis. It’s almost as if he’s undergone a personality transplant from the once charming and down to earth man she thought she knew.

                  He has also stopped paying his half of the rent, claiming that he has been struggling financially ever since the move. Though Diana remembers him enthusiastically choosing the neighborhood where they currently live, he now complains it is far too “expensive” for his taste and accuses her of being too extravagant. She notices he has more than enough funds to spend on drinking with his friends or gambling late into the night, but grudgingly agrees to pay his half until he gets back on his feet.

                  Diana recognizes that Robert is not only taking her for granted, but taking advantage of her. When she finally confronts him one night as he stumbles into the apartment at an obscenely late hour, his response is rageful and defensive. He accuses her of not trusting him. He calls her horrible names. He threatens to leave and never come back. He refuses to speak to her at all about his behavior and ends up going to a “friend’s” place, leaving Diana in tears and filled with anxiety about his whereabouts.

                  In the midst of her despair, she begins to wonder if she’s been too hard on him. She calls him multiple times, begging for him to come back and apologizing profusely for the things she’s accused him of. He does come back, but the cycle only continues. After only a few blissful days of “making up,” where Robert “graciously” forgives Diana for her “overreactions,” Robert begins disappearing during the nights and reappearing with a suspiciously unkempt appearance. He also receives mysterious phone calls at odd hours, which he takes privately in the bathroom with the door locked.

                  Each time Diana tries to raise questions about where he has been and whether he’s been seeing other women behind her back, he pushes back, accusing her of being “crazy,” “needy” and “paranoid.” Despite her attempts to uncover the truth, she starts to wonder if she really being paranoid. Maybe it really is her fault that he is distancing himself. Maybe he just needs time to “unwind.”

                  She begins avoiding confrontation with Robert altogether and instead tries her best to please him instead – doubling her efforts to show him more affection and understanding. Her hope is that, once he realizes what a great partner she is, he will stop his shady behavior and go back to being the man he presented himself to be in the beginning. Unfortunately, as most victims ensnared in the vicious cycle of emotional abuse know, this is rarely the case. This is just the beginning.

                  *This example was created using the accounts of multiple survivors from surveys on narcissistic abuse; the characters are fictional and only used for the purpose of illustration. Although in this particular scenario the gaslighter is male and the victim is female, gaslighting is not exclusive to any gender and can happen to anyone.

                  Why Does Gaslighting Work So Well?

                  Diana and Robert’s story illustrate a classic example of the cycle of narcissistic abuse – one in which idealization is followed by devaluation and the honeymoon phase dissipates into the unmasking of a covert predator. Robert is able to gaslight Diana into believing she is the problem – all while she financially supports him and doubles her efforts to be a more loving partner. Meanwhile, he engages in infidelity, verbally berates her and subjects her to bouts of narcissistic rage, without any consequences or accountability. This isn’t at all the healthy, loving relationship Diana signed up for, but the powerful effect of gaslighting is that Robert’s version of reality (Diana is crazy, he is the one putting up with it) replaces the truth.

                  Do you see what’s wrong with this picture? Gaslighting lets the perpetrator off the hook while the victim is left picking up the pieces and then some.

                  Why do survivors believe in gaslighters?

                  Executed effectively and done chronically, gaslighting causes self-doubt and cognitive dissonance – a state of turmoil stirred by inconsistent attitudes and beliefs. Survivors of emotional predators sense that something is amiss, but when they attempt to address it, they are often blindsided by their abuser’s complete dismissal and invalidation of their reality.

                  Diana “knew” something was wrong and felt like she was being taken advantage of when Robert stopped paying his half of the rent and began coming home at odd hours, but after being on the receiving end of his gaslighting and verbal abuse, she rationalized that her behavior must have caused the conflict. She did not want to lose out on her emotional investment in what appeared to be a great relationship in the beginning. As a result, she instead invested more – unfortunately, risking the loss of her own sense of self.

                  Gaslighting, after all, begins insidiously in stages; in the first stage, survivors still have a grasp of their perceptions even if they might not understand what is happening. Like a frog in slowly boiling water, they become accustomed to the insidious warping of their reality, until they no longer recognize their reality or even themselves. Initially, like Diana, they may attempt to reiterate their perspective and express disbelief at the gaslighter’s claims.

                  As gaslighting continues, however, it wears down the victim. Diana eventually tries to “win” Robert back because she feels unable to self-validate after his constant verbal attacks and rageful responses. This is not uncommon for victims of chronic gaslighting, especially when a repetition or reinforcement of false claims is involved. According to Lynn Hasher, a psychologist at the University of Toronto, “Repetition makes things seem more plausible…and the effect is likely more powerful when people are tired or distracted by other information.”

                  Chronic gaslighting eventually leads to pure exhaustion – victims develop a sense of learned helplessness as they are met with the intense consistency of denial, rage, projection or accusations from the gaslighter.

                  Exhaustion from abuse and retaliation for asserting oneself creates a mental fog of epic proportions, one in which a survivor can easily drown in even the most ridiculous excuses as long as they carry a grain of truth.

                  The survivor of a conniving gaslighter becomes submerged in confusion about what actually occurred and whether anything truly occurred at all. So instead of questioning the gaslighter, they attempt to prevent further psychological assault by feeding their own self-doubt and uncertainty surrounding the abuse that is occurring. Dr. George Simon, who specializes in the character disordered, writes:

                  “Gaslighting victims question their judgment. They can even come to question their very sanity. Crafty covert-aggressors know how to make you doubt. In your gut you feel they’re trying to play you. But they can have you feeling like you’re a fool for thinking so. They can even have you questioning what’s real and what isn’t.” – Dr. George Simon, Gaslighting Victims Question Their Sanity

                  To summarize: why does gaslighting work? There are more than a few reasons:

                  • Gaslighting exploits any existing self-doubt about one’s capabilities as well as any past traumas that may cause the victim to feel too “damaged” to see reality clearly.
                  • Gaslighting exhausts a victim’s internal resources so they are unable to self-validate and eventually give into a sense of learned helplessness.
                  • Gaslighting depletes individuals of a stable sense of self-worth and certainty about how they interpret the world.
                  • Gaslighting manufactures insecurities and fears that never existed, causing the victim to focus on his/her perceived flaws rather than the abuser’s transgressions.
                  • Gaslighting causes the survivor to investigate whether he or she has done something wrong, instead of looking at the perpetrator’s behavior as the cause of concern.
                  • Gaslighting sets up survivors to fail no matter what they do; abusers will demonstrate disapproval regardless of how hard the survivor tries to please the abuser. Whether victims stay silent and compliant or aggressive and assertive, they will be punished. By moving the goalposts, the perpetrator is able to shift their expectations and their claims at the drop of a hat.
                  • Gaslighting diverts from, denies, rationalizes and minimizes horrific acts of psychological and physical violence.
                  • Gaslighting creates a dangerous form of retaliation for victims speaking out, because each time they do, they are met with a psychological or even physical assault that causes them to feel increasingly diminished.

                  Survivors often take on the responsibility for reducing the cognitive dissonance that arises when what they know to be true is threatened by gaslighting of an abuser. They do so by essentially “gaslighting” themselves into believing in what their manipulators are telling them, rather than trusting their own inner voice. They may even socially withdraw and become overly defensive about protecting the gaslighter due to their need for validation from the relationship. The gaslighter “trains” and conditions them into seeking their approval, and they fear losing that approval because it symbolizes the loss of the relationship itself.

                  Mar Newhall

                  Smoke and Mirrors: How Gaslighting Works to Erode the Victim’s Reality and Sense of Self

                  While the definition of gaslighting may appear clear-cut, the reality of how it is used in abusive relationships is complex and multifaceted. There are many ways in which malignant narcissists gaslight their victims, and when done chronically, gaslighting becomes an effective tool to manage down the victim’s expectations for decency, honesty and transparency over time.

                  After all, if someone cannot trust their own perceptions, it becomes that much easier to hand over the reins to the person who is shaping their reality in the first place. It becomes that much more difficult to confront the gaslighter without the fear of being shamed and silenced. Here are some ways in which gaslighting can show up in toxic relationships:

                  1. Denial and dismissal.

                  Perhaps the most popular form of gaslighting occurs in the art of the blatant denial. A cheating wife refuses to admit that she had an affair, even when concrete evidence (such as explicit photos) surface. A malignant parent denies ever abusing their children despite the fact that they still have the scars (whether emotional or physical) and memories to prove it.

                  A predator with a history of committing sexual assault simply says it did not happen, despite many victims coming forward. By dismissing the evidence and holding steadfast to the “alternative facts,” the abuser is able to instill a sense of doubt – however tiny – and by planting that seed, they create a burgeoning ambivalence in their victims, law enforcement, society as a whole – that perhaps it really didn’t happen, or at least, it didn’t happen in the way the victim reported it did.

                  Much like reasonable doubt can sway a jury, continually denying a victim’s experiences can lead the victim to search for evidence that confirms the abuser’s reality rather than their own. At most, it provides a counternarrative to the truth that enablers of the abuser can hold onto, and at worst, it creates so much distortion that the abuser is rarely held accountable for his or her actions.

                  Unfortunately, this form of gaslighting also preys on a sense of hope just as it does uncertainty. Victims may have their own reasons for believing in the abuser, but they are also trauma bonded to their perpetrators through the intense experiences of abuse in an effort to survive. As a result, victims of a trauma bond often protect their abusers and work even harder to depict their relationship as a happy, stable one.

                  As trauma and addiction expert Dr. Patrick Carnes (2015) writes in his book, :

                  “Exploitive relationships create betrayal bonds. These occur when a victim bonds with someone who is destructive to him or her. Thus the hostage becomes the champion of the hostage taker, the incest victim covers for the parent, and the exploited employee fails to expose the wrongdoing of the boss…{this} is a mind-numbing, highly addictive attachment to the people who have hurt you. You may even try to explain and help them understand what they are doing – convert them into non-abusers. You may even blame yourself, your defects, your failed efforts…these attachments cause you to distrust your own judgment, distort your own realities and place you at even greater risk. The great irony? You are bracing yourself against further hurt. The result? A guarantee of more hurt.”

                  As Carnes notes, the emotional investment we have built in our relationship with the gaslighter is what keeps us hoping for a return on our investment. Yet the more we invest, the more we inevitably risk.

                  An adult child of an abusive parent does not want to face the reality that their parent may have never loved them; a doting husband may prefer to believe that any evidence of his wife cheating was misconstrued; a sexual predator’s victims may wish to not move forward with legal charges because they hope they can move forward with their lives.

                  Denial – however simple it may seem – can be an effective strategy for an abuser to use precisely because it also works with a victim’s natural desire to avoid conflict, protect themselves from the trauma of the truth and maintain the false comfort of the abuser’s false mask.

                  2. Shaming and Emotional Invalidation.

                  When abusers are unable to convince you that your truth is a false reality, or when they feel they need to add an extra dose of emotional anesthesia to keep you quiet and compliant about their transgressions, they’ll add in subtle shaming or emotional invalidation. This is when, not only are your claims dismissed and denied, the fact that you brought them up in the first place make you somehow defective, abnormal or incompetent.

                  Shaming is powerful because it taps into the deepest core wounds of childhood. To be shamed is to ‘regress’ back into the first time you were reprimanded, belittled, made to feel small. It reminds you when you were once voiceless – and it repeats the destructive cycle by regurgitating old belief systems of unworthiness. When we feel unworthy, we are less likely to speak out or counter injustice in empowering ways by advocating for ourselves – which is why we tend to rationalize, minimize and deny gaslighting behavior and blame ourselves.

                  3. Pathologizing the Victim.

                  Malignant narcissists take it one step further when it comes to their victims; they engage in concrete actions that pathologize and discredit their partners. They play the smirking “doctors” in their intimate relationships, diagnosing their victims like “unruly patients,” all while downplaying their own pathological behavior. While they can also do this through a smear campaign, the most covert predators tend to use more underhanded methods to come out on top.

                  A victim whose credibility is weakened serves as ammunition for an abuser, because the abuser is able to evade accountability for his or her actions by claiming that the victim is unhinged, unstable, and pursuing some form of vendetta against the abuser.

                  The National Domestic Violence Hotline estimates that around 89% of their callers have experienced some form of mental health coercion and that 43% had experienced a substance abuse coercion from an abuser. According to them:

                  Most survivors who reported their abusive partners had actively contributed to mental health difficulties or their use of substances also said their partners threatened to use the difficulties or substance use against them with important authorities, such as legal or child custody professionals, to prevent them from obtaining custody or other things that they wanted or needed.”

                  The most covert gaslighters manufacture scenarios that drive their victims over the edge while erasing any trace of their involvement. They exploit existing vulnerabilities in the victims, such as past traumas, addictions and mental health issues. They create chaos so that the victim reacts and they are able to use the reactions of their victims against them (sometimes even going so far as to videotaping their reactions while failing to provide the context of their abusive behavior).

                  “Narcissists magnify the gaslighting effect when they accuse their victims of requiring professional help, medication or a psychiatric evaluation when their victims begin to call out the abuse. They may even coerce their victims to take drugs or push them over the edge when their victims are feeling suicidal from the impact of the long-term psychological terrorism they have endured. This is all done with the dual purpose of gaslighting the victim into thinking he or she is the crazy one – and of gaslighting society into thinking that they, the abuser, is actually the victim instead.” – Shahida Arabi, 

                  They use the vulnerabilities their victims disclosed to them early in the relationship against them to retraumatize them and shame them into feeling that no one would believe them if they spoke out. They accuse their victims of being “bitter” and “obsessed” with them, when in fact, they are the ones stalking their victims. Not unlike the set-up in movies like , the victim finds himself or herself being told that they are “crazy,” “losing it,” “imagining things,” or “delusional” even after they endure blow after blow.

                  Similarly, as victims of psychological violence get closer to the precipice of truth, the man (or woman) behind the curtain creates a great deal of noise to divert their victims from ever seeing what is beneath the surface of their façade and grandiose claims of authenticity. The noise malignant narcissists create instead refocuses on attacking the credibility of the victim rather than addressing their own crimes.

                  This includes: (1) telling the victim to seek “help” for calling out their behavior, convincing the victim to obtain medication to help manage their “symptoms” (because getting close to the truth, apparently, requires extensive care) (2) encouraging the victim to abuse substances (in an effort to control them, as well as to make them a less credible ‘witness’ to their crimes) and (3) using their trauma history against them to make them believe that they have no case for accusing them of abuse.

                  An expert gaslighter will point to the fact that you were violated in the past, which be why you’re acting out your trauma onto them in the present.

                  An expert gaslighter can even drive his or her victim to suicide.

                  Gaslighting in Conversations

                  What does gaslighting look like in day to day conversations? It usually involves some form of the following:

                  Malignant repetition of falsehoods. As noted previously, repeating a lie frequently enough can become a way to reinforce and cement it as truth. Whether these lies are seemingly innocuous or potentially damaging, they can overwrite existing perceptions.

                  “You flirted with that guy. I saw you.”

                  “I am such a nice guy/girl. I treat you so well.”

                  “I told you, I was at work. You need to stop with these baseless accusations.”

                  “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

                  Minimizing the impact or severity of the abuse. This is when the gaslighter has committed a serious offense against you and instead of acknowledging it, minimizes the impact the abuse had on you or the gravity of the abuse. Tell-tale signs someone is minimizing verbal, emotional or even physical abuse may sound something like:

                  “That wasn’t even abusive. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”

                  “I didn’t hurt you that badly. You’re just being a crybaby. There’s barely a scar.”

                  “I didn’t raise my voice. You’re just misinterpreting things.”

                  “So what if I cursed? Are you a child? Do I have to censor myself?”

                  Projection and generalization – The gaslighter diverts the claim back to the victim, claiming that he or she is the one who “always” creates trouble, when in fact, it is the gaslighter who is perpetually creating chaos and refusing to validate the victim’s claims. The gaslighter then generalizes all of the victim’s claims and assertions as ridiculous or characterizes them as attempts to create conflict, as if conflict did not already exist in the first place. Common examples include:

                  “You’re just so sensitive.”

                  “You take everything so seriously!”

                  “You’re always causing trouble.”

                  “You just love drama.”

                  Withholding information and stonewalling – The abuser is unwilling to engage in the conversation at all and often shuts down the conversation any time a claim is made against him or her about their behavior. This might look like:

                  “I am done discussing this.”

                  “I am not going to argue with you, this is pointless.”

                  “This conversation is not going anywhere.”

                  “That doesn’t even warrant a response.”

                  “The fact that you’re accusing me of that says a lot more about you than it does me.”

                  Questioning their memory, emotional stability and/or competence – The abuser avoids accusations and conversations by questioning the victim’s memory or ability to comprehend the situation in an unbiased way.

                  They may say things like, “I don’t remember that. Are you sure you’re remembering that correctly?” even if the event just happened a few moments ago. They may call into question a victim’s awareness, or, if they’ve engaged in substance abuse coercion with the victim, may use that against them to ensure that no one would believe them by asking things like, “Have you been drinking again?” or “Are you off your meds?”

                  Other common phrases include:

                  “You really have some issues.”

                  “You need to learn how to trust people.”

                  “God, you’re crazy.”

                  “You need to calm down and think about this.”

                  “You’re blowing everything out of proportion, as usual.”

                  Bringing in a third party/the triangulation maneuver. Triangulation is the act of bringing in another person into the dynamic of a toxic interaction. While we usually talk about triangulation in the context of manufacturing love triangles, when it is used in gaslighting, it can manifest quite differently.

                  Triangulation (in the context of gaslighting) can be used to confirm the abuser’s version of reality and shame you into believing that you truly are alone in your beliefs and perceptions. It fuels a victim’s sense of alienation when another person (or a group of people – such as the narcissist’s harem) agrees with his or her distortions.

                  Malignant narcissists are prone to recruiting what the survivor community refers to as “flying monkeys” to agree with their perspective. They may bring these people in physically to confirm their point of view (“Hey Sandra, what do you think? Isn’t Laura being paranoid?”), or even mention them in passing (“Even Sandra agreed with me that you’re being a bit paranoid, Laura”).

                  For example, in the movie (1944), the conniving husband is able to bring in his maids one by one to confirm that a small painting (which he deliberately misplaced) was not in fact, moved by them. This enables him to pretend that his wife has moved the portrait, though she has no recollection of doing so. These third-party “witnesses” or enablers convince her that she must be truly going insane, if she doesn’t at all remember doing what he accuses her of doing.

                  Diversions from the topic to assassinate the victim’s character or challenge the validity of the relationship. The gaslighter diverts the focus from his or her behavior onto the perceived character traits of the victim or the stability of the relationship.

                  They may say things like, “We just don’t get along,” or “We’re just too different. We’re not right for one another,” drawing attention to the relationship as a whole instead of the specific issue at hand. In a normal relationship where incompatibility is an issue, the idea that two people are simply “too different” may be true, but in the context of an abusive relationship, these are gaslighting phrases meant to divert you from the reality of the horrific abuse and onto the milder myth of incompatibility.

                  The truth is, no one is “compatible” with an abuser, and in a gaslighting power dynamic such as this, the problem is not the fact that you two don’t “get along.” It’s the fact that one partner is abusing his or her power to distort your reality.

                  Healing from Gaslighting

                  Healing from gaslighting can take time and support. It requires distance and space from the abuser in order to reconnect to your reality and get grounded in what you actually felt and experienced. Here are some tips on how to get started:

                  Make ‘redirecting’ anchoring statements when you find yourself romanticizing your abuser or dismissing an abusive incident. The good news is, repetition can go the other way: we can repeat the truth until we finally believe in it, and ourselves again. Creating “anchoring statements” that help redirect you to the reality of the abuse are especially helpful when you find yourself doubting what you experienced and minimizing what you felt.

                  Keep a list of general statements or a record of incidents of abuse that you can refer to in times of self-doubt. These can include documentation of the abuse (journal entries, text messages, voicemails, photographs, videotapes) or affirmations that remind you of what you experienced and why it wasn’t acceptable. This will help ground you back into your own reality and rewire your thinking so that you are no longer focused on the falsehoods fed to you by the abuser.

                  Seek self-validation and let go of your need to gain validation from the abuser. Abusive people are far too invested in their own agendas to ever validate your reality or confirm incidents of abuse. That is why it is important to establish No Contact or Low Contact (a minimum amount of contact in cases of co-parenting) with the abuser so you can get the necessary distance from your abuser to regroup and reemerge from the warped world created by this toxic person.

                  Consult trusted outsiders to do some much needed ‘reality testing.’ In the movie , it is only when an inspector confirms that the gas lights are indeed flickering to the gaslighted wife, Paula, that she realizes that she was right all along. Find a mental health professional who is trauma-informed, knowledgeable about malignant narcissism and understands the dynamics of covert violence. Describe what you felt, heard and witnessed exactly how you experienced it rather than telling the story through your abuser’s narrative. Regaining your voice in a setting where you can be validated and listened to is essential to the healing journey. Some survivors may also benefit from telling their stories to other survivors, who know what it is like to be gaslighted and can resonate with their experiences.

                  Write your story and bring it into the context of longer-term behavioral patterns. Journaling can be an excellent way to track your progress and narrate your reality. Keep a journal of incidents that occurred and how they made you feel. Separate the reality of your experiences from the claims of your abuser. For example, a journal entry may look like the following:

                  This narrates the experience without ‘giving in’ to the gaslighting attempts of the abuser. It reframes the experience to recall the victim’s feelings during the interactions and to address what rights were violated. It also includes mention of a pattern of behavior – ‘Tom,’ as the victim notes, has a habit of disrespecting her wishes even though she has addressed the fact that name-calling makes her uncomfortable. The victim of gaslighting is then able to draw a conclusion based on a pattern of behavior that she sees reoccurring, rather than dismissing it as an isolated incident.  This helps her to relieve some of the self-blame and cognitive dissonance as she reaffirms her reality and begins to trust herself again.

                  A Note About Gaslighting on a Societal Level

                  Gaslighting can also take place in contexts outside of intimate relationships. It can occur in the workplace, in family units, in schools, in politics, in cults and in society as a whole. Society often gaslights women, for example, by depicting them as “overemotional,” “unhinged” or “crazy” when they dare to be anything less than demure and submissive or when they ‘dare’ to be enraged about the way they’re being treated.

                  Society also routinely gaslights survivors of abuse or assault by interrogating them about their behavior and minimizing the impact of what they experienced. Politicians, lawmakers and court systems can dismiss the impact of emotional abuse by allowing it to fall under the convenient umbrella of “nonviolence” while setting the perpetrators free to commit more crimes that will never be persecuted under a court of law.

                  Those who benefit from an enormous amount of privilege can condemn those more marginalized when they speak out about social injustices like racism, sexism and ableism because it threatens their positions of power and control. They may call those who fight for justice “divisive” or “hateful” simply because they’re calling out bigotry, prejudice or unjust laws. Institutions may “gaslight” disadvantaged populations any time they wish to maintain that power by shifting the focus onto the behavior of marginalized people rather than examining what they can do to better support these populations.

                  There are many ways and contexts where we experience gaslighting and it is not just restricted to an abusive relationship. It is up to us as individuals and as a larger society to tackle gaslighting when we see it. Whether it is done with malicious intent or unwitting naiveté, gaslighting bears dangerous consequences when it goes unchallenged. Gaslighting has the power to shape and rewrite our reality. It’s about time we take back the narrative and hold fast to the truth – unapologetically owning our stories as we do so.

                  To learn more about gaslighting and covert emotional abuse, be sure to check out:

                  Works Cited
                  Begg, I. M., Anas, A., & Farinacci, S. (1992). Dissociation of processes in belief: Source recollection, statement familiarity, and the illusion of truth.  (4), 446-458. doi:10.1037/0096-3445.121.4.446
                  Carnes, P. (2015). . Health Communications, Incorporated.
                  De Canonville, C. L. (2012, July 24). The Effects of Gaslighting in Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
                  Dreyfuss, E. (2017, June 03). Want to Make a Lie Seem True? Say It Again. And Again. And Again. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
                  Durvasula, R. (2015). . New York: Post Hill press.
                  Geraci, L., & Rajaram, S. (2006). The illusory truth effect: The distinctiveness effect in explicit and implicit memory.  210-234.
                  Hasher, L., Goldstein, D., & Toppino, T. (1977). Frequency and the conference of referential validity.  (1), 107-112. doi:10.1016/s0022-5371(77)80012-1
                  Leve, A. (2016, March 16). How to survive gaslighting: When manipulation erases your reality. Retrieved here November 5, 2017.
                  Sarkis, S. (2017, January 30). Are gaslighters aware of what they do? Retrieved here November 7, 2017.
                  Simon, G. (2017, August 26). Gaslighting Victims Question Their Sanity. Retrieved here November 5, 2017, from
                  Stern, R. (2007). . Morgan Road Books.
                  Van der Kolk, B. (2015). . NY, NY: Penguin Books.
                  Walker, P. (2013). . Lafayette, CA: Azure Coyote.
                  Warshaw, C., Lyon, E., Bland, P. J., Phillips, H., & Hooper, M. (2014). Mental Health and Substance Use Coercion Surveys. Report from the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. . Retrieved here November 5, 2017.
                  Wolford-Clevenger, C., & Smith, P. N. (2017). The conditional indirect effects of suicide attempt history and psychiatric symptoms on the association between intimate partner violence and suicide ideation.  , 46-51. Retrieved here.

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                  Concrn is a 911 alternative that helps people during mental health crises

                  Eighty percent of the calls the San Francisco Police Department receives are related to mental health, but the police are oftentimes not the best people to respond to those situations. That’s where non-profit startup Concrn comes in.

                  Concrn is a mobile app that enables people to help those experiencing mental health crises by connecting them with compassionate responders. Since launching its app a couple of years ago, Concrn has responded to over 2,000 crisis reports.

                  Concrn currently serves those in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. That means if you see someone having a mental health crisis or an issue with substance abuse, and don’t think calling 911 is the appropriate response, you can use Concrn to request a compassionate responder.

                  Concrn has a seven-person lead responder team, but there are other crisis volunteers who donate their time to help on a weekly basis. Many of the paid responders are from the Tenderloin.

                  “Our focus has been to create economic opportunities for people in the Tenderloin community who have previously been marginalized or unable to access employment and also people who have experienced their own mental health crisis in the past,” Concrn Co-executive Director Neil Shah told TechCrunch.

                  Once on scene, the responders will determine if they can handle the situation or if it needs to be escalated to the police. The responders, who have a variety of backgrounds in social work, emergency medical training and other areas, are required to go through a 20-hour training session. The training covers conflict resolution, de-escalation training and compassionate response.

                  “From there, it’s connecting the person to relevant services, like walking someone to a shelter, retrieving information about them from a case manager and ensuring they get reconnected,” Shah said.

                  On a daily basis, Concrn receives anywhere from five to 10 crisis reports. While Concrn’s approach has mainly been focused on the Tenderloin, the team has been coordinating with other mobile crisis units, city agencies and service providers in San Francisco in order to deploy the most compassionate service providers to other areas throughout the city.

                  “Our goal is to work with the cities and with other service providers and use our tech as a lynchpin and communication network between all these siloed organizations,” Shah said.

                  Looking forward, Concrn is hoping to raise $250,000 to continue developing the service and launch an app for responders. Right now, a dispatcher handles the inbound report, but the app would allow responders to connect directly with the reporter. Concrn also hopes to create a replicable playbook to distribute to other communities that experience similar issues.

                  “Our vision is one where through a combination of the community training and technology, we can build self-reliant communities that are best able to provide compassionate and humane care to those in need,” Shah said. “Our belief is that when community members, service providers, government agencies are all communicating and coordinating together through Concrn, we create a more effective path to resilience for vulnerable people in need of support.”

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                  This Is How Youll Fall In Love In 2018, Based On Your Birth Month

                  Marcelo Matarazzo


                  Your ambition and your strong work ethic are two of your best characteristics, but the way you’ll fall in love in 2018 is by meeting someone who reminds you that there is so much life to be lived  of work. They’ll be 100% supportive of your career and your goals, and will only cheer you on rather than getting in your way – but they will also remind you that it’s important to look up from your screen, open your eyes, experience the world around you, and remember that work is important, but so are things like family, friendships, self-care, joy, and silliness.


                  You will fall in love unexpectedly – with a person you were never initially into but who, with a relaxed confidence, slowly garnered your interest. It will be someone who enjoyed your bright and sparkling disposition from the start, but who also challenged you to open up further for once, and encouraged you to not be afraid to let go and simply let yourself fall.


                  You’ll fall in love in 2018 when you meet someone who finally takes care of you for once. You’re always the one putting everybody first, taking care of everyone else, and never using a spare moment to think about yourself or to prioritize your own needs. So when you meet that person who sees you as someone they want to make happy and take care of and do things for – instead of looking at you as what you can do for them – you’re going to fall hard, and you’re going to fall fast.


                  As someone who is really in tune with your own emotions and of what you want, you’re going to find yourself in a relationship with someone who makes you feel like you no longer have to apologize for having strong feelings. In the past, you’ve always felt a little self-conscious of how open and certain you were about yourself and your wants, but in 2018, you’ll finally find yourself with someone who loves that about you, and who makes you feel more like yourself than you ever have with anyone else.


                  As someone who is highly motivated, focused, and constantly on the go, you always have a list a mile long of things you want to do, places you want to travel, goals you want to accomplish. But in 2018, you’re going to fall in love with someone who actually decreases your restlessness, instead of making it worse. In the past, you’ve always felt weighed down or held back by significant others – worrying that they’re going to keep you from moving forward or distract you from your goals. But this person is going to be the one who finally makes you feel like you have both – like you can be your own version of ‘settled down’ where you’re in love and have a partner and are incredibly happy, while still growing and challenging yourself and pursuing new things every day.


                  In 2018, you’ll finally find yourself in that relationship you’ve always wanted – with the person who is sensitive and loving and gentle, without ever making you feel bored or disinterested or antsy. They’re going to be someone who understands that despite your great sense of humor, you can also be really sensitive and feel hurt very easily; and they’re going to be someone who makes you feel like you could talk to them about absolutely anything without the conversation ever growing dull or colorless.


                  As friendly and magnetic as you are, and as effortlessly as you make friends, you actually have a very hard time opening up and making yourself available for romantic relationships. So in 2018, the way you’ll fall in love is by meeting someone you never expected to fall for – but who ends up totally fascinating you with their ability to make you feel instantly comfortable and to only ever feel energized and invigorated around them (rather than exhausted or socially tired).


                  You will end up with a person who actually stands up to you and doesn’t let you get away with everything. They will understand that you have a natural lean towards leadership and confidence, and they will both love this and respect it; but they will also call you out when you need to be called out, and they will stand up for themselves, and they will always make sure the relationship is 50-50 rather than allowing it to be something where you run the show.


                  In 2018, you will fall in love with someone who makes you more emotional than you’ve ever been with anyone else (but in a way). In the past, your sense of self-preservation has lead you to be detached from and/or critical of your significant others – always subconsciously looking for ways to chase them away before you have a chance to truly get attached. But in 2018, you’ll fall for someone who makes you willing to take risks and makes you to not be afraid of your own feelings – because being with them will wake you up and make you feel so alive.


                  As someone who is very self-possessed and has a health sense of self-esteem, you will find yourself with someone who only makes you feel more and more like yourself, instead of making you feel like you’re losing your sense of self by being with them. They will encourage you to do your own thing, to have your own life outside of them, and to figure out how the two of you can be a team together while also putting in time to figure out who you are as individuals.


                  In 2018, you will fall in love with a person who truly feels on your level. You’ve always had a fast mind with a lot of ideas, and have struggled in the past to learn how to let another person in because you’ve been protective of your sense of self. But this person will finally feel like someone who can keep up with you – somebody who can handle your energy, who gets you without you having to explain yourself, and who fully loves you without being dependent and totally reliant on you.


                  In the new year, you will fall in love with a person who bursts through your tendency to think and love in a very controlled and logical way – and someone who turns your world upside down in the best way. They will adore your sense of humor and will always give you the space you need, but they will also show you how to live in the moment, they will never be intimidated by your temper, and they will show you how to think with your gut and your heart instead of only relying on your brain.

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                  Cisco using AI and machine learning to help IT predict failures

                  We have known for some time that the number of signals coming from your IT systems surpassed the ability for humans to keep track of them years ago. Machines can help and have been for some time. The advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning has accelerated that ability and today, Cisco announced that it is using these technologies to help customers find failures before they become major issues.

                  Cisco’s solutions are similar to others out there using AI and machine learning to help augment humans’ ability to sift through the mass of information being thrown at us by these systems. The company is introducing two new sets of services to address this need.

                  The first, “Business Critical Services,” uses analytics, automation, compliance and security tools — nothing you haven’t seen before, I’m guessing — to help track the health of these services. They are claiming it reduces the complexity associated with tracking your most critical business services, while reducing the risk of these systems going down.

                  This kind of tracking is precisely what AppDynamics does, the company that Cisco bought earlier this year for $3.7 billion. It’s not clear if these services have been developed from AppDynamics assets, but this is the type of monitoring on which they built their business.

                  The second set of services, “Cisco High Value Services,” offers more of a hand-holding service for IT with software, solutions and network support for customers.

                  IDC’s Chris Barnard says these kinds of offerings are giving companies who are mired in the modernization process the ability to keep up even when they lack in-house expertise. “The landscape is evolving too fast for some businesses to keep up with digital transformation, as a result they rely on their larger vendor partners with the skills, expertise and capabilities to help address these talent gaps,” Barnard said in a statement. In this case, that large vendor partner would be Cisco.

                  While Cisco claims these products are an industry first, the whole industrial IoT business is built on the idea of predicting failures before they happen. Companies like Splunk have been using AI and machine learning to sift through the many signals coming from IT systems to predict and inform IT pros for a long time, as have application performance monitoring companies like DataDog and New Relic (competitors of AppDynamics).

                  Cisco is attempting to get a piece of the action using advanced technologies, its networking hardware expertise and name recognition to help businesses that might be struggling to keep up with the changing tech landscape.

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                  Backstage Capital invests $50K in singer Kehlanis tech startup

                  Music artist Kehlani is getting into the tech business and she’s tapped Arlan Hamilton’s Backstage Capital for funding. Backstage Capital, the venture capital firm focused on funding people of color, has invested $50,000 in Kehlani’s stealth startup, Flora.

                  The idea with Flora is to focus on health and wellness for the artist’s target audience of people between the ages of 16 and 25. Details of the startup are scarce, but Flora describes itself as “curated green content.” As part of the investment, Hamilton will join the board, and act as a mentor and advisor.

                  “Bridging the gap between my career, activism & my audience is important to me as a next step,” Kehlani said in a statement to TechCrunch. “I am incredibly honored to work with Arlan, not only due to her outstanding work in the tech world, but her consistency in supporting queer women of color. I look forward to creating positive change & making strides in tech.”

                  This deal all started a few weeks ago, when Kehlani reached out to Hamilton to thank her for helping queer women of color break into tech, Hamilton told TechCrunch. They proceeded to meet up and that’s when Kehlani told Hamilton about Flora, which she co-founded with Alaxic Smith and Reid Williams.

                  “Kehlani is at the Soul Train Awards tonight in Vegas where she is up for Best R&B Female, and is still Slacking with her co-founders and me about startup business,” Hamilton told me last night. “It’s been this way from all of her shows the past few weeks, including Voodoo Fest. She’s taking this incredibly seriously, and in my opinion is approaching it like she would a new album or tour. It’s exciting to see her learning about the tech world, and I’m impressed with her interest in sharing the journey with her fans.”

                  Since Backstage Capital’s founding in September 2015, the fund has invested about $2.5 million into more than 50 startups.

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