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Dad slices off his finger in a freak accident at a bowling alley — and plans to sue them

by Sun Internet 2 @ The Sun

A DAD plans to sue a tenpin bowling alley after his finger was sliced off in an accident. Aaron Pendlebury was helping daughter Layla, two, to play when he accidentally kicked a barrier used to keep kids’ balls in lanes. It went down but as he leant over to lift it, it rose again — […]

It’s Not a Problem When Cashiers Say “No Problem” to You

It’s Not a Problem When Cashiers Say “No Problem” to You

by Nicole Cliffe @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

Imagine yourself, amiable reader, in a coffee shop, ordering yourself a beverage, and paying the barista for the encupment of said beverage. At some point during the transaction, you will surely find yourself saying “thank you.” Imagine that the barista responds, “No problem.”

In that moment, you have multiple options: You can let that sentiment evaporate into the air, leaving you unaffected. Or you may fume.

Whither the lost and genteel days of you’re welcome? you might fume, in your head, or on the internet, or heaven forbid out loud. How dare these youngstren/baristas/waiterettes say “no problem” to me? That suggests that I might have created a problem in asking them to do their job at me. It is no problem at all! I know it is no problem! I wish you would go back to saying “you’re welcome” at me instead, posthaste!

Friends! This is a disingenuous and an unlovely response, and from making this complaint I fear you will find it a slippery slope to leaving a stack of bills on the corner of your table and removing one as punishment every time your waiter displeases you. Of course the service employee in question is not suggesting that you have created a problem by asking for more straws for your Diet Slice, or what have you. It is a filler phrase, a transaction smoother; barely a step up from the well, kindas that the Russians call “parasite words.”

As is, of course, “you’re welcome.” You are welcome to what? To thank me again? To rely upon my help again in future? Fine, sure. It is an arbitrary expression of politeness in exactly the same way “No problem” is an arbitrary expression of politeness. As is generally the case in most forced social interactions, both phrases are a variation on, “Here is my soft belly, fellow stranger; I am driven so often by fear but I wish you to know in this moment that I wish you no harm, and have no intention of attacking you. All is well.” There is already no there there, just a form of whimsical call-and-response that has lived a long life and is surely due to collect whatever pension is due for its years of service if people have organically moved on.

It is undoubtedly true that at some point over the last 10 or 15 years, there has been a general shift among young people and workers in the service industry from saying “you’re welcome” to “no problem” or “no worries” upon being thanked for services rendered. I suspect we have nationally snagged “no problem” from the Australians, who love to say “no worries” at one another almost as much as they love always showing up in hostels in countries where you don’t expect them, and teaching people how to surf and play guitar. This is a perfectly fine and neutral change, but with change always comes anxiety. What your server is saying in that moment—and what I suspect you know perfectly well, friendo—is “I will fulfill your request, I acknowledge your thanks, and will continue to serve you with friendliness and alacrity.” Between “no problem” and “happy to help” there is no separation, and it does not suit you to pretend to be confused by the two. This is a harmless phrase, not an attempt to call out you, specifically, for asking to have your croissants heated up for exactly eight seconds in the microwave. The tide of language sweeps ever along, and it carries you with it whether you like it or not. Do not struggle foolishly against it.

“Are you telling me that I, a human being with certain inalienable prerogatives, have no right to dislike this particular phrase? Must I remain silent forever? Have I no recourse to complain?” That is exactly what we are saying. You must allow this grievance to seize up, and shudder, and drift harmlessly out of your body. You will be nobler for it.

Now, of course, there are different ways to register one’s displeasure with hearing “no problem” from a member of the service industry. We are not here to police all of them. Perhaps upon being “no problem”–ed you find yourself quietly annoyed, forget your annoyance upon leaving the offending shop, and later mention it offhandedly in the comments section of an article about etiquette. If you must do this, you must. This is ranked with the venial permissible sins, like regularly tipping 15 percent out of a fear of being thought cheap but also reciting Mr. Pink’s speech about tipping from Reservoir Dogs whenever the topic arises, as though you think it novel or compelling. Perhaps you pull a face at the speaker; if ever I catch you doing that, we will have words outside on the king’s highway.

Those who return “no problem!” with a tart “you mean you’re welcome” are in grave danger. You must root out the tendencies in your own soul that lead to such conduct. This waiter is already fetching you seven extra straws for your Diet Slice. He is wearing a clean shirt, working with a sprained wrist because he doesn’t have health insurance, and faked his own lunch break because his manager asked if he would just clock out for 20 minutes since they’re already slammed today and nobody else can cover his tables. He’s doing everything he needs to be doing. Attend to your own spiritual condition.

It is, however, those who ask to speak to a manager or who write a letter of complaint whom we must condemn wholeheartedly and with extreme prejudice. You are as Henry VIII, consigning Thomas More to the block because he has failed to bend the knee and acknowledge you as the Supreme Head of the Church. Insisting on policing the manner in which someone responds to your ostensible wish to thank them, in order that it more clearly telegraph servility, is beyond the pale. Fix your wicked life. Otherwise we’ll have to come speak with your manager about your attitude.

 

California Cities Are Trying to Shun the Companies That Build Trump’s Wall

California Cities Are Trying to Shun the Companies That Build Trump’s Wall

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Overmatched in Congress by gerrymandering, rural bias, and clustering, blue cities and states have little power in Washington to stop President Trump’s border wall.

Back at home, however, they issue billions of dollars in procurement contracts to some of the same construction companies that are bidding to build the wall along the U.S-Mexico border. Maybe it’s there, politicians reason, that they could make their voice heard.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to draw up a law to require firms bidding for city contracts to disclose their role in the border wall. Oakland and Berkeley have already said they will not do business with companies involved in design and construction of the wall. Similar efforts have been proposed in San Francisco and New York, and California state legislators have taken aim both at contracting with companies who work on the wall and using state pension funds to invest in them.

The first question that has to be asked about these efforts is: What wall?  Trump’s signature promise hasn’t exactly been coming along as planned. In May, after a rushed bidding process characterized by being open-ended in some ways (the wall should perhaps have solar panels, the president said) and extremely specific in others (the wall must be transparent so Americans can’t be hit by 60-pound packages of drugs, the president said), DHS announced a group of finalists had been selected.

But in July, the Trump administration said that a planned showcase of prototypes from those finalists had been postponed, after a complaint about the bidding process from the Penna Group, a Fort Worth, Texas-based contractor. Michael Evangelista-Ysasaga, Penna’s chief executive officer, told me that his company’s bid had been rejected because the government misunderstood the terms of the paperwork. “Any time there’s a rush, mistakes are made,” Evangelista-Ysasaga says.

The wall model display in San Diego that was supposed to be under construction by June has now been delayed twice, first to the end of the summer, and now until November.

Meanwhile, a leaked transcript of Trump’s January phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña-Nieto revealed that the commander in chief was not nearly as determined to have Mexico pay for the wall as he had been on the campaign trail.*

With all that in mind, threats from local jurisdictions may not be the preeminent hold-up for the wall. If the project goes forward according to Trump’s promises (which it won’t), it would constitute one of the largest nonmilitary contracts in the United States. Senate Democrats say the wall would cost $70 billion to build. Probably worth the cost of being shut out of California procurement, in other words.

Still, the outrage around the wall has been successful so far in dissuading several high-profile companies from participating in the bid process. When the bids are finally revealed, the opprobrium could stick to some of those companies in ways that extend beyond what’s prescribed by local or state law. When it comes time for blue states to award corporate subsidies, for example, firms might find their enthusiasm for the wall becomes a political liability.

The gestures are reminiscent of the movement to divest from private prison companies. New York City’s pension funds decided in May to sell stock and bonds in a trio of prison companies. Architects have also moved to stop their peers from designing prison projects.

Unfortunately for municipal legislators, the problem with the wall (which, again, won’t happen) is that the profit motive is so large, it’s probably worth forfeiting your company’s right to supply steel to California public works projects. Another reason why this border-spanning, solar panel-encrusted nightmare won’t quite die yet.

*Correction, Aug. 10, 2017: This post originally misspelled Enrique Peña-Nieto’s last name.

Luke Campbell reveals his father died two weeks before Jorge Linares fight… but hid it so opponent didn’t find ‘weakness’

by jhutchinson @ The Sun

LUKE CAMPBELL revealed his dad’s death left him sobbing every day for two weeks before his WBA lightweight title defeat to Jorge Linares. But Campbell says he kept his heartache under wraps because he did not want Venezuelan Linares, 32, to see “weakness”.   The 2012 Olympic gold medallist lost to a split decision in […]

Flying While Brown Is Getting More Traumatic

Flying While Brown Is Getting More Traumatic

by Prashant Sinha @ Slate Articles

If your skin is brown and you spend as much time going through security in American airports as I do, you’re likely to eventually lose your cool. For me, it happened in customs coming into one of New York’s airports, on the tail end of a work trip I took last year to India.

Exhausted, I was looking forward to clearing the line and catching the final leg of my trip back to the Bay Area, where I live. My colleague, also brown, cleared the line. As I thought I was about to follow her, a Customs and Border Protection agent looked at me and directed me to the “special screening” line. There, I knew, agents would open my bags one by one and give me a pat-down.

Without thinking, I snapped back at the officer: “This happens to me every single time I come back through customs, and no one else. Is this racially motivated?

The officer was thrown. “Uh, no not that I know of,” he said. “We just picked you randomly.” But this wasn’t the first time I’ve been taken out of the line. It had already happened to me in customs that January, and I was singled out for an extra security screening entering the Seattle airport on another trip—meaning an extra pat-down, followed by agents rifling through and messing up my bags. I’ve been “randomly” pulled out of line returning to SFO, my own airport. On a trip in July 2015, I was coming back from a vacation in Amsterdam. As I walked up, a white CBP agent gave me a derisive look and said, “Yo dawg, you coming back from the Netherlands—you have any drugs on you?” I actually had eaten a pot cookie in Amsterdam to make the flight easier—he didn’t need to know that—which felt especially justified once I encountered the agent. These are just some of the humiliating experiences I’ve had traveling through U.S. airports. After I cleared that special screening in Philadelphia, my co-worker ruefully said to me, “It’s because you are brown and traveling with a beard.” When I shared my experience later with a good friend who is a white woman, she said, “Airports are just like a big mall to me. I don’t get hassled.”

Whether you’ve had these kinds experiences or simply heard of them, they are not new: Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu travelers with brown skin have known to expect extra scrutiny at the airport for a long time. And yet—perhaps because of my frequent travel, or perhaps because of my day job, which makes me hyperaware of broad-brush surveillance against communities of color—it is clear to me that this experience has become even worse during the presidency of Donald Trump.

I was born in New York City to parents who emigrated from India. I grew in New Mexico and made my adult home in California. I’m a brown kid, a little on the hippie side, sometimes with brown hair, and sometimes I grow a beard because I’m just that lazy about shaving. I work as a technologist—helping analyze how computing technologies such as encryption, machine learning, and networking impact surveillance and expression throughout the world. As such, I know that moving through the airport is just one of many places that makes us vulnerable to the modern panopticon.

That panopticon has had its eye trained intently on a lot of Americans for a long time. While some kind of screening is of course necessary for air travel, TSA and CBP’s methods are traumatic for many groups, as I hear often from my trans friends, my friends with disabilities, my immigrant friends. While we don’t have reliable statistics on discrimination against Muslims and other groups in airport screenings, many advocacy groups have sounded alarms about the issue for years, responding to countless shocking anecdotes. Earlier this year, the Muslim travel ban resulted in another round of arbitrary and near-malicious conditions of travel, dropping a dragnet not only on immigrants and refugees but even U.S. citizens, including small children detained away from their families and engineers who had their work devices confiscated. It felt like a sudden and violent expression of a more subtle message brown-skinned travelers have been hearing from airport officials for a long time: Leave this place.

But I also now hear that message in another way. Since the introduction of full-body scanners to the standard security procedure in the last decade, I have also been one of the small group of travelers that opts out of this process. Sometimes, one may choose a pat-down instead of the scanner because of a disability; sometimes you are randomly chosen, as I have been. I have many personal and political reasons for choosing to opt out, as do others: I have unresolved health concerns as well as a general desire to have my biometric data be kept to myself. I first came to that decision because of the scandal in which TSA agents traded nude images produced by the scanner. However, as machine-learning technology improves, I also want to protect the data of a 3-D profile of my body from future automated scanners. The manufacturers of such scanners can rely on data produced from the terrawave scanners as a training data set, much like current cameras with facial recognition technology can be trained on your social media. If this data is properly harvested, then it can provide the basis for new surveillance technology based on the contours of your body.

I noticed a change in Transportation Security Administration protocol not long after Trump’s inauguration. During the pat-downs I’ve experienced since this spring, agents performed a genital screening. In order to get to my flight, I first had to endure TSA agents rubbing their hands three times over my genitals. This screening method has left me feeling profoundly violated every time—so much so that I want to avoid flying itself. It says the same thing as the travel ban: Leave this place. And also: Submit.

The TSA rolled out this policy, which it calls more “comprehensive” and which one Pennsylvania traveler described as “groin security” to his hometown paper, in March. This more “intimate” approach (which varies slightly by airport) was already one of several options agents had to use when conducting pat-downs; now it’s the only one, according to Bloomberg. And it has caused some controversy already, including an incident in which a distraught mother posted a video of the TSA applying the more invasive pat-down to her disabled son. I thought of that family’s experience on a recent flight from the Southwest, before which a TSA agent seemed to take extra delight in the pat-down, tightening my clothes and rubbing my genitals in front of my father. When I have asked TSA management at an airport on how to give feedback on these policies or a particular agent, I have been told to “talk to my senator.”

I don’t think that agents should have such arbitrary powers, or that our screening process should be so invasive as a rule. (Nor do I think every TSA agent abuses those powers. I’ve experienced large and small kindnesses from many of them, and understand they have a difficult and important job.) Our needs of security need to be balanced with needs of basic human dignity. American travelers should have methods for redress and feedback while traveling domestically or internationally. And no groups should ever feel that airports are a place where they don’t belong.

Read the rest of our series about the airport as the hub of American anxiety.

Seretta Wilson - Adverts - Megamix - demo

Seretta Wilson - Adverts - Megamix - demo

by DamnGoodVoices @ Damn Good Voices's posts

Female, RP, 40s, 50s, 60s, actress, American, commercial, advert, voiceover, voice over, DGV, Damn Good Voices, damngoodvoices, Crying Out Loud, cryingoutloud,

Is Techno Tourism What Detroit Needs?

Is Techno Tourism What Detroit Needs?

by Adam Tanaka @ Slate Articles

Once a year on Memorial Day weekend the Movement Electronic Music Festival transforms downtown Detroit’s Hart Plaza into an eardrum-splitting playground for tens of thousands of techno fans from around the globe. A windswept concrete expanse for much of the year, the riverfront park is tailor-made for a music festival, with Japanese artist Isamu Noguchi’s Space Age sculptures providing a suitably cosmic backdrop to three days of booming electronica. This year, the festival was accompanied by more than 70 spinoff parties, bringing foot traffic and visitor spending to neighborhoods far beyond the downtown core.

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Detroit may seem an unlikely choice for a 72-hour dance-floor spectacular, but it’s far from random: Much as the gay clubs of 1970s Chicago gave birth to house music, so 1980s Detroit gave birth to techno—house’s sinister, synth-driven cousin—when artsy black teenagers began soldering the clinical electronica of Kraftwerk and other German experimentalists with the alien funk of Prince and Parliament. Meanwhile, aspiring DJs and wily party promoters capitalized on the city’s surfeit of industrial spaces, repurposing the relics of the auto age for the city’s first postindustrial generation. Motown became Techno City.

The genre never really hit the mainstream in the United States, and today Americans are more likely to cite Eminem as Detroit’s most substantial musical export since Motown. (See: Chrysler’s 2011 Super Bowl commercial.) But abroad, techno became a multibillion-dollar industry, providing the drug-fueled soundtrack to post–Cold War European integration. Berlin and Ibiza continue to draw cultural and economic vitality from club-driven tourism, sped along by cheap airfares and liberal after-hours regulations. Amsterdam, Paris, and London recently appointed nighttime mayors charged with keeping their clubs competitive and their dance floors open into the early hours (or, as in the case of Berlin, for all 24).

Today, some Detroiters are wondering whether they too might monetize this strain of the city’s cultural heritage. Music is already a big part of the city’s DNA: The Motown Museum, which draws about 70,000 visitors a year, is currently undergoing expansion, while the city’s jazz festival in August is marketed as the largest free jazz festival in the world. Both are small change compared to Movement, which is touted as the Motor City’s biggest tourist draw after the annual auto show. Although numbers are hazy in the absence of a formal economic impact study, city officials told me that “festival weekend” was Airbnb’s busiest of the year in the area. For a city still reeling from 2013 bankruptcy proceedings, techno tourism has brought a spillover economic boost. (The San Francisco–based short-term rental company also recently agreed to pay a use tax in Michigan.)

In the longer term, Movement’s effects are as much psychological as financial. “When people understand that this kind of creativity is homegrown in Detroit, it helps them reimagine Detroit in their mind,” said Mark Denson, chief business attraction officer at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (and a college classmate of techno innovator Derrick May). “I’ve lived downtown for a very long time, and I’ve run into many people who will say that their first really great experience in Detroit was the techno festival.”

“For people who know their techno, they know that Detroit is the birthplace,” said Helen Stevens, a 44-year-old Australian who was visiting the United States for the first time. (At Movement this year, I also met Japanese tourists who chose Movement for their inaugural stateside visit). Sporting a “Detroit Techno City” badge on her head-to-toe black outfit—the standard for techno enthusiasts—Stevens said that the Motor City has long been on her “travel bucket list.”

Dance floor–driven urban policy may sound like a parody of economic development guru Richard Florida’s “creative class” mantra. But the city has not been blind to the potential of techno to draw young people back to town. In its early years, the electronic music festival was free, with the city largely footing the bill. By the time Movement shifted to a paid model in 2003, the event was hailed as one of the largest free music festivals in the world. That same year, the Detroit Historical Museum mounted “Techno: Detroit’s Gift to the World,” a large-scale retrospective that paired memorabilia with reminiscences from some of the genre’s founding fathers. More recently, Mayor Mike Duggan officially declared “Techno Week” to coincide with the Movement festival.

Still, many in the music business here feel that the city has not done enough to capitalize on its cultural assets. That includes small, symbolic changes, like officially recognizing “Techno Boulevard,” a block in the city’s Eastern Market neighborhood that housed many of the genre’s earliest record labels. And more substantial issues, like lobbying to change the state-regulated 2 a.m. closing time that bar-owners and city reps say stymies the growth of a full-fledged nighttime economy.

Part of the problem is that while techno has a large international following, it has a relatively limited audience here at home. “Detroit exported nightlife culture,” said Adriel Thornton, a veteran of the ’90s rave scene who was involved in organizing an early iteration of Movement and today leads techno-themed tours of the city through Airbnb. “You go to Europe and ‘Detroit Techno’ is a genre of music. But here at home, the idea that it is actually generating real dollars and creating reasons for people to move here hasn’t been sufficiently recognized.”

Instead the festival draws mostly suburbanites and out-of-towners, who depart loaded up with Detroit swag. International visitors make up 1 in 5 attendees, organizers estimate; indeed, one of the festival’s biggest scheduling concerns is not to clash with the opening weekend at Ibiza, the clubbing hotspot off the coast of Spain.

The place most often invoked in discussions of Detroit’s trans-Atlantic cachet is Berlin, another city noted for its techno culture and wealth of underutilized spaces. Crystallizing this dialogue is the Detroit-Berlin Connection, a nonprofit founded in 2013 by German club entrepreneur Dimitri Hegemann. The owner of Tresor, one of Berlin’s landmark techno venues, and a frequent visitor to the Motor City, Hegemann is convinced that Detroit’s comeback hinges on its countercultural appeal. “One of our jobs is to keep Detroit weird,” he told me.

Following the Berlin model, Hegemann’s dream is to renovate some of Detroit’s most iconic industrial ruins into “lighthouses” for art and culture, blurring the lines between historical monuments, youth hostels, nightclubs, art galleries, and incubators. But in the face of political inertia and financial skittishness, getting such fanciful schemes off the ground is easier said than done. Hegemann’s particular bête noire is the curfew. “If we had a 2 a.m. curfew, Berlin’s nightlife would collapse,” Hegemann said. “My advice for the city council is to cancel the curfew. Don’t build shopping malls and casinos. Just cancel the curfew, and discover the nighttime economy.” Critics contend that would require the city to expand strapped municipal services like police, and in a city with America’s worst transit network, lead to more drunk driving.

Closer to home, cities like Nashville and New Orleans have also succeeded in trading off their own musical legacies. As recently as the 1990s, Nashville was on the fence about making country music the centerpiece of its tourism strategy, but last year the “Music City” brought in a record-breaking 13.9 million tourists, with upward of 150,000 visitors coming for the city’s free, open-air New Year’s Eve concert alone. The numbers are almost as impressive in New Orleans, where culture industry jobs accounted for 15 percent of local employment in 2015, up from 9 percent in 2006. Those reputations become economic assets: Music is Nashville’s second-largest employment sector after health care. Half of all entertainment businesses in New Orleans are live music venues. Beyond the musicians, music tourism helps fill municipal coffers through tax receipts.

But even if there’s a model to be emulated somewhere between Berlin and the Big Easy, Detroit has another problem: There isn’t a huge homegrown techno scene waiting to be discovered. In a list of the country’s top clubbing destinations compiled by Thump, an online dance music publication, Detroit didn’t even make the top 10. Legendary venues like the Music Institute and Cheeks, which did much to set the template for nightclubs worldwide, are long gone.

Even Motor City boosters like Sam Fotias, the Detroit-born-and-bred director of operations at Movement, concedes that getting a year-round scene going in the city is easier said than done. “Detroit has drawn a lot of comparison to other cities like Berlin,” he told me. “I think that there are some similarities: post-wall Berlin, post-bankruptcy Detroit. But in Berlin you have huge population saturation, you have a regional thing, you have a city that is centrally located in Europe that has always been a very significant cultural hub. In Detroit, you have a burgeoning cultural scene, but as a whole the region is still very blue-collar.”

Fotias and others worry that as the scene grows, it may become increasingly associated with outsiders—both tourists and out-of-town promoters—and dovetail with growing anxieties about gentrification. The genre’s largely white audience doesn’t help the image problem. In an 83 percent black city, attendance at Movement is predominantly white. (Ticket prices may be a factor: Longtime attendees recall a more substantial black audience in the festival’s early years.) The question troubling the city’s techno boosters is how to attract the jet-setting crowd while staying true to the genre’s roots and ensuring that the city serves as more than just a gritty postindustrial backdrop.

A clue to this conundrum may lie at the northern Detroit headquarters of Submerge, a DJ collective and techno label with deep roots in the city’s underground scene. Lining the company’s foyer is “Exhibit 3000,” a modest but mesmerizing overview of Detroit’s dance music history that is billed as the world’s “first permanent techno museum.” With no formal opening hours and limited information online, Submerge is a destination for aficionados only. When I dropped by in the run-up to Movement, the place was buzzing with techno geeks from across the globe.

But when I met with Cornelius Harris, label manager for Submerge, he was ambivalent about the genre’s global appeal. “People come here and do all these documentaries that are being shown to big crowds in Europe, but no one here has seen them,” he told me. “All we’re doing is enriching what’s over there, and none of it comes back this way.”

Harris is eager to reach another audience: local schoolchildren. Although techno’s popularity with Detroit youth pales next to hip-hop, Harris hopes students will come away with a deeper appreciation for the homegrown history of a genre that upended the global music industry.

“What we’re hoping is that these kids can see how people just like them refused to fit stereotypes and made their own future,” Harris said. “That’s what we’ve used the museum for: to offer an alternative view of what you can do. If I want to innovate in medicine, maybe I can learn from techno. The music is a tool. It leads to other things.”

Ex-Strictly Come Dancing pro dancers James and Ola Jordan say Debbie McGee was ‘absolutely unbelievable’ — and should have been top of the leader board

by modonnell @ The Sun

EX-Strictly pro dancers James and Ola Jordan give their judgment on the weekend’s action: JAMES said: “Debbie was absolutely unbelievable. “She was a little bit out of control at times but she was by far the best performance of the night and should have been top of the leader board. “I believe Aston is going […]

Scott Turnball - Game - Deadpool - demo

Scott Turnball - Game - Deadpool - demo

by DamnGoodVoices @ Damn Good Voices's posts

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Chicago Teenager Found Dead in Hotel Freezer

Chicago Teenager Found Dead in Hotel Freezer

by Clutch @ Clutch Magazine

Police are investigating the death of a Chicago teen after she was found dead in a walk-in freezer in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont early Sunday morning. 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins left her home on Friday the Near West Side to attend a party on...

The deadly danger of Valentines day

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

Valentines Day may be more dangerous than you realize – especially if you kiss someone who’s eaten a food you’re allergic to! NBC11.com reports that food allergies send over 30,000 people to the emergency room each year and a significant number of those cases are caused by loose lips. Careless kissing Dr. Suzanne Teuber of […]

MIFF’s Emotional Trailer from Australia Wins The Best of Global Digital Marketing Awards in April

by Best Marketing @ Best Marketing

Here’s the Top 3 of April 2016:

  1. Melbourne International Film Festival’s Emotional Trailer by McCann Melbourne
  2. KFC’s How KFC Won with China’s Gamers by Mindshare
  3. Tokopedia’s Beyond the Banner by Iris Worldwide Indonesia
Read More…

London Mayor Sadiq Khan compares Donald Trump to ISIS in ongoing feud over call for a ‘total shutdown’ of US borders to Muslims

by jlockett @ The Sun

LONDON Mayor Sadiq Khan has accused President Donald Trump of using ISIS-style language by calling for a  “total shutdown” of  US borders to Muslims. Speaking at an event at the Labour party conference in Brighton, Khan also claimed he’d become a “reluctant participant” in the continuing spat between himself and the outspoken Republican. AP:Associated Press […]

Scott Turnbull - Advert - B&Q - demo

Scott Turnbull - Advert - B&Q - demo

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Rich San Franciscans Find Out What Poor People Already Know: Investors Can Buy Their Land for Almost Nothing

Rich San Franciscans Find Out What Poor People Already Know: Investors Can Buy Their Land for Almost Nothing

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

In April 2015, a couple from San Jose, California, quietly bought one of America’s most exclusive and expensive streets for a song.

For a measly $90,000, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, Tina Lam and Michael Cheng purchased San Francisco’s tony, private Presidio Terrace. Flanked by mansions that sell in the eight figures, the street has been managed by nearby homeowners—which have included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein—since 1905. The purchase, the Chronicle writes, "includes a string of well-coiffed garden islands, palm trees and other greenery,” in addition to the real jackpot: 120 free parking spaces. At a monthly parking rate of $200, the couple could make their money back in a couple years.

What happened here? According to its lawyer, the Presidio Homeowners Association forgot to pay a $14-a-year tax bill because it was being mailed to the wrong address. So the city put the property up for auction. The PHA, in other words, lost a private street in the most expensive city in the country over a paltry $994 in unpaid back taxes, penalties, and interest.

As if the story couldn’t get any richer, Presidio Terrace was whites-only until the 1948 Supreme Court decision Shelley v. Kraemer, which stopped courts from enforcing racial covenants—deeds that stipulated that a property couldn’t be sold to a minority. Now the street itself is owned by a couple of Asian American immigrants.

It’s a hilarious, headline-grabbing example of a much more pernicious practice, in which governments auction tiny tax liens to private investors, who impose onerous interest charges and legal fees in order to foreclose on homes. It’s a tragedy of the financial crisis repeating as farce.

In D.C., an 81-year-old veteran lost his home over a $134 bill. The Washington Post revealed that 500 properties were lost in the city since 2005—"most in the city’s poorest neighborhoods and about one-third from owners who owed less than $1,000,” the Post found. In January, in response to a class-action lawsuit, the District agreed to pay $1 million to those affected.

At the height of the housing crisis, annual property tax delinquencies amounted to more than $15 billion. Desperate to fill municipal coffers, cities and counties sold those debts to investors who did everything they could to seize and flip the properties, taking tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity for tiny unpaid debts and leaving homeowners homeless. The victims are often poor or elderly. A 2012 report by the National Consumer Law Center documented some of these cases: “An 81-year-old Rhode Island homeowner was evicted two weeks before Christmas from the home she had lived in for more than 40 years because she had fallen behind on a $474 sewer bill. A corporation bought her house at a tax sale for $836.39 and then resold it for $85,000.”

Years later, however, the practice persists. In Flint, Michigan, thousands of residents are at risk of foreclosure for hundreds of dollars in unpaid bills for the city’s undrinkable water. The city has tried to freeze those bills, creating a standoff between Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and the state, which wants its money.

The wealthy homeowners of Presidio Terrace won’t get their street back. But they’re surely awakened, now, to the practice of letting people’s property go quietly to auction for a paycheck’s worth of debt.

Imagine if it was your house instead of your parking spot.

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Dove has created the 'perfect British mum' - but can you spot what's wrong with her?

Dove has created the 'perfect British mum' - but can you spot what's wrong with her?


The Sun

DOVE’S latest ad campaign involved placing Britain’s “perfect mum” across a massive billboard in London. It’s got mums across the nation fuming thanks to its “en…

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Are cosmetics safer in Europe than in the US? Episode 101

Are cosmetics safer in Europe than in the US? Episode 101

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

Question of the week: How are cosmetics regulated outside of the US? Jacs from the UK asked…”Can you add a overview on how cosmetics are regulated in the rest of the world other than America please?” Our answer comes from UK-based cosmetic chemist Colin Sanders of Colin’s Beauty Pages. Who makes the regulations in the EU? […]

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Jeremy Corbyn throws Labour into Brexit chaos at party conference after axing it as a topic of discussion 

by Alahna Kindred @ The Sun

JEREMY Corbyn threw Labour into new chaos over Brexit last night. The leader said staying out of the EU single market after the divorce would let him nationalise British industry. Full membership of the EU trade bloc would limit state intervention and compel ­Labour to keep the railways private, he told the BBC. He said: […]

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What’s on TV tonight? Shows to watch on Monday 25 September from Liar to Rellik

by jgood @ The Sun

WHAT can’t you miss on TV tonight? Our guide to the must-see shows… Liar, 9pm, ITV Andrew finds he has a new ally when Laura’s former colleague Dennis Walters (Peter Davison​, who’s clearly enjoying playing a creep) shows up and reveals that she made similar claims about him, but he was cleared. Andrew is grateful when ​Dennis […]

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Why Detroit Erupted

Why Detroit Erupted

by Jake Blumgart @ Slate Articles

The long, heated summers of the 1960s are seared into the American imagination: commercial corridors in central cities reduced to ruin, tanks in the streets, and the angry release of pent-up disaffection as the long-suffering black populations of numerous cities rose up.

All of this is captured in Kathryn Bigelow’s new movie, Detroit, which dramatizes one of the bloodiest instances of civil violence in the 1960s. The film centers around what is known as the Algiers Motel incident, a horrific instance of police brutality and murder in the midst of wider chaos.

Bigelow’s Detroit has been criticized for focusing on an extended scene of torture at the expense of that summer’s larger story about activism, unrest, and frustrated dreams. The film opens with an animated depiction of the Great Migration—based on Jacob Lawrence’s famous artwork—and then jumps to the police raid on an after-hours bar that sparked the five days of riots. Then it settles into the sickening scene at the Algiers Motel and Manor House, where police brutally interrogated a group of people who’d been taking shelter in the building about the possible presence of a sniper in their midst. After hours of torture, three young black men were killed.

New York University’s Tom Sugrue, a native of Detroit, attended the film’s premiere at the city’s legendary Fox Theater. He is the author of an essential work about the city’s history, The Origins of the Urban Crisis, which charts Detroit race relations from the end of World War II through the unrest of 1967, the year of the city’s riots. The book definitively shows that many of the forces that would eventually gut Detroit, reducing its population by more than half (and still falling), had been set in motion decades before the unrest—which conveyers of conventional wisdom have often blamed for the city’s decline.

Sugrue and I recently discussed the larger context of the Detroit riots, the history of racial violence in the Motor City, and the factors he wishes Bigelow’s film had depicted. Our interview has been edited for concision and clarity.

Jake Blumgart: What did you think of Kathryn Bigelow’s new movie?

Tom Sugrue: I say this with all humility because I’m not a film critic and I don’t produce for a mass audience. But it’s a Hollywood production, and I think Bigelow left out some really important dimensions.

I found the focus on what happens in the Algiers Motel to be important, but the aftermath of what happened is also important. The trials were ruthlessly compressed to the single trial up in Mason [a suburb where an all-white jury was allowed to decide the case against the offending officers]. The role of the motel incident and the events of 1967 in mobilizing a black politics of resistance in Detroit, especially around questions of policing, was underdeveloped.

One of the most interesting post-1967 events was the people’s tribunal, an alternative trial of the police in the motel put on by black power, anti-police brutality, and civil rights activists in Detroit. It was really dramatic, and one of the regular attendees included Rosa Parks, who was living in Detroit at the time and closely affiliated with the black power movement in the late 1960s. That story of a challenge to police brutality and power was absent.

That would have made a richer film, but based on Bigelow’s earlier movies, she isn’t big on legal drama and is much more interested in torture and terror.

Even beyond the central horror of the set piece at the Algiers Motel, the film repeatedly emphasizes just how trigger happy the forces of law and order were. The vast majority of the riot’s 43 deaths were at the hands of government agents of various kinds.

Thirty-four of the 43 deaths were at the hands of law enforcement officials or the National Guard. Only one person was killed by the paratroopers [whom President Lyndon Johnson sent in].

Was this kind of death toll, mostly black people being killed by the police, normal for the urban unrest of the 1960s?

Yes. But understand that most of the deaths in the long, hot summers of the 1960s happened in a relatively small number of cities. Newark, Watts, and Detroit counted for the lion’s share of deaths, while in the summer of 1967 alone there were 163 incidents of rebellions, uprising, civil disorder, whatever you want to call it. Most of those didn’t involve any deaths.

I thought it particularly notable that the opening of the movie, using the famous artwork of Jacob Lawrence, made sure to make note of pervasive job and housing discrimination that had been occurring since the Great Migration—and that white flight had already begun in earnest well before the riots. That narrative, that you put forward in your book, runs counter to the conventional wisdom that it was the riots themselves that spurred white flight and divestment.

In Detroit in particular, today there is a lot more recognition of the fact that the city’s troubles date to well before 1967. That said, lots of journalists and popular commenters still truck in the stale conventional wisdom that 1967 was the beginning of the end. I think that animated introduction of the movie did a good job of capturing, in a compelling shorthand way, a lot of the major themes of urban history scholarship from the last 20 years.

I would have liked to see more recognition in that section of the importance of Detroit as a center for African American activism. 1967 didn’t emerge out of a vacuum but in some ways grew out of a 20-year movement of racial equality and justice in Detroit that focused among other things on policing and exploitative neighborhood businesses in African American communities. And those were the major targets of the folks who took to the streets in Detroit in 1967.

There’s an important backstory that’s more than segregation and discrimination; it’s exploitation and systemic violence and predation that was afflicting those communities before 1967. Bigelow captured some of that by showing the common policing practice in Detroit leading up to 1967, particularly in the late 1950s when the city instituted really aggressive policing tactics, like stopping and frisking African American men.

What were the other circumstances that laid the groundwork for the unrest of 1967? It’s easy to see why Bigelow would focus on societal trends that are easier to dramatize, like police brutality, but how did forces like capital flight and residential segregation contribute?

Detroit’s long-established residential segregation played a critical role. The neighborhoods at the epicenter of the uprising of 1967 were places where African American residents had little contact with whites outside of shopkeepers and law enforcement officials. Detroit’s police department in 1967 was 95 percent white. Most officers didn’t have any substantive experience living with African Americans because of the intense patterns of racial segregation. They weren’t socializing with African Americans, playing baseball with them, going to church with them; they weren’t drinking at the same bars or having block parties with them.

There was a nearly complete separation and as a consequence a really deep ignorance of African American life in Detroit on the part of the overwhelmingly white police force. That separation provided really fertile ground for stereotypes to flourish and for prejudice to intensify.

Can you provide more context about those who participated in the civil violence of 1967? As I understand it, most of the rioters were young black men. What were the specific challenges they faced that didn’t affect young white men or young black men a generation before?

One thing to remember that pretty much all the studies of the uprisings of 1967 showed was that the folks who took to the streets weren’t at the very bottom of the economic ladder. It wasn’t the poorest or the most marginal. It was folks who were slightly better off and slightly better educated and more tied into the city’s labor market than the poorest residents.

Part of the conventional wisdom of 1967 is that this was a revolt of the very bottom, the folks who were the most left out. That wasn’t the case. That said, African American men in Detroit experienced a great deal of economic precarity, even those who had a decent education and connection to the city’s labor market. African Americans were still confined to the city’s most insecure jobs and often the least pleasant jobs. But unemployment rates in Detroit were relatively low in 1967, certainly in comparison to today. I think part of it was expectations. In a city that had long been at the epicenter of one of the most powerful industries in the world and had a large and vibrant economy, the fact that African Americans had jobs was part of the story—but the fact they had the worst jobs is a critical factor to keep in mind.

Discrimination in the workplace was still rife in Detroit in the 1960s, despite the opening of opportunities to African American workers and despite civil rights legislation. And there was a great deal of resentment that the benefits of the city’s industrial economy weren’t being distributed equally across racial lines.

In your introduction to John Hersey’s book The Algiers Motel Incident, you write that between 1948 and 1967 Detroit lost nearly 130,000 manufacturing jobs. That’s another historical event people often think occurred later, but deindustrialization wasn’t just a product of the 1970s and 1980s. As you show, it really started happening almost immediately after World War II.

Exactly. The disappearance of jobs from Detroit fell particularly hard among younger African American men. The jobs that were disappearing were the first rung on the manufacturing ladder, which required few skills and had few barriers to entry. These provided significant opportunity for their parents’ generation, for African Americans migrating from the South in the World War II era and immediately afterward. Everyone in Detroit regardless of race is being affected by this restructuring, but its effects are particularly hard on unskilled African American workers.

To put it differently, the significant reality of the auto industry is that it’s leaving Detroit when there isn’t any significant international competition, well before the oil shocks of the 1970s caused real trouble for the auto industry. Manufacturing is already picking up and decamping for other parts of the United States and the world during that period of the unchallenged supremacy of the American auto industry.

Another thing I wanted to touch on from your book, that provides the context to the 1967 civil unrest, is the persistent violence that met black families trying to move into white neighborhoods in the postwar years. Why is that violent white resistance still unrecognized?

Recognizing that narrative really demands coming to terms with white culpability for the intense residential segregation and racial polarization in metropolitan Detroit. That’s a story many folks would prefer to sweep under the rug. Detroit had two genuine race riots during World War II. Both were pitched attacks on African Americans by whites.

After the war, white Detroiters organized into one of the most powerful grassroots urban movements of the period, the so-called homeowners’ rights movement to protect the racial homogeneity of their neighborhoods by any means necessary. That included putting pressure on elected officials to keep affordable housing out of predominantly white neighborhoods. It also meant organizing vigilante activities to resist African Americans who were the first to move in, signaling the high price they would pay if they moved onto white turf.

Combing through the records of civil rights organizations, government agencies, and the African American press, I found more than 200 violent incidents that accompanied the first movements of African Americans into formerly white neighborhoods. White Detroiters sent a very strong signal to black Detroiters to not cross these invisible racial lines.

Another dimension of that is the city’s police turned a blind eye toward vandalism and attacks on black property by whites. Often police would be dispatched to the sites of the protests, and then mysteriously late at night with cop cars stationed outside, windows would still be broken. Many of Detroit’s white police officers were sympathetic with white homeowners who wanted to protect their neighborhood from racial encroachment.

If you think of the totality of African American resentment toward the city’s white police force, the role of the police in turning a blind eye toward racial violence is a really important dimension of the story.

Any final thoughts on Bigelow’s movie and the uprising of 1967?

One other part of the uprising, which would be hard for the film to convey as well, is the toll that urban renewal, highway construction, and looting in the summer of 1967 had on a couple generations of black business people. It’s devastating to African American capital.

Most shopkeepers in cities like Detroit rented the buildings they had businesses in. A lot of the buildings were still owned by whites who fled the neighborhood but kept their investments in real estate. Renters didn’t get reimbursement when their businesses were displaced by urban renewal. So, when properties were condemned then demolished, the property owners got reimbursed for the loss of their property. But if you run a neighborhood bar or barbershop, you can’t just pick up and move four miles away and expect you can just get all your clients back.

To start a whole business over from scratch when you aren’t being compensated for the loss because you don’t own the building? So when the Paradise Valley neighborhood in Detroit is blasted away for the construction of a major arterial freeways and then when looting and burning guts a lot of the thriving black businesses, including on 12th Street where the rebellion began.

That’s the story of Melvin Dismukes [played by John Boyega], a security guard standing inside a building during the riots, or of folks writing “Soul Brother” on their shop windows hoping that would turn away looters and arsonists. These are folks desperately trying to hold on to their fragile investments in these neighborhoods. And the long-term effects were devastating to black shopkeepers and business owners.

The Lessons of Marco Island

The Lessons of Marco Island

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Hurricane Irma arrived in Florida by tearing through the Keys, but it made its second landfall at Marco Island, a picture-perfect resort community with a five-mile white-sand beach just south of Naples. Each winter, Marco swells from about 17,000 people to more than 40,000 thanks to vacationers and southbound snowbirds. On Sunday morning, as the Gulf of Mexico rose around the island’s houses, Marco’s fate elicited far-flung cries of concern in the way that only a beloved beach town can.

Now, residents return to survey the damage. There is no power. No water. The Dolphin Tiki Bar & Grill is in ruins. Virtually all of Marco Island is in the FEMA flood zone; it is also threaded through with 91 miles of canals that abut nearly every house like the wires of a circuit board. It is a perfect symbol of how yesterday’s South Florida ambition is today’s vulnerability. And it is the kind of community where, once it has dried out, planners will have to ask: How should this place—always susceptible to hurricane damage, newly exposed to rising seas—be rebuilt?

Forty years ago, the consensus of the state and federal governments was that Marco Island should not have been built at all. The community was the setting for one of the biggest development controversies in the United States and nearly ruined one of Florida’s largest and most celebrated developers. In a region with a notorious building addiction, it became the site of the environmental movement’s greatest victory over the Florida growth machine. Ecological foresight halted millions of dollars in real estate development and all but ended an engineering technique that had turned the South Florida coast from swampland to resort.

“This may be the last major development to take place in Florida,” Florida Sierra Club lobbyist David Gluckman said in 1982, when Deltona, the developer of Marco, turned over its remaining holdings to the state of Florida as a nature preserve.

Of course, it wasn’t. Two thousand miles of levees and canals have transformed South Florida from a “barren, swampy, and good-for-nothing peninsula,” in the words of an American soldier who fought to conquer the place from the Seminole Indians in the 1830s, into a glittering mega-region of 8 million souls. It’s a real-life Joni Mitchell chorus where the joke, Dexter Filkins recalls, was that every new housing development was named for the ecosystem it vanquished. You better believe Marco Island has a Mangrove Court.

Still, Marco Island is a reminder that we’ve changed the way we build before, and could again.

When brothers Robert, Elliott, and Frank Mackle discovered Marco in the early 1960s, half of its 10 square miles consisted of mangrove swamps. Home to just a few hundred people and an abandoned clam factory, it was the single largest undeveloped barrier island property in South Florida.

“They had a vision,” says Mike Coleman, a resident and the author of a pair of books about Marco. “It was nothing but a mosquito-, alligator-infested swamp.”

The Mackles were among the most famous developers in South Florida, which is like saying someone is one of the best-known actors in Hollywood. Between General Development Corp. and Deltona, which they founded in 1962, the brothers were responsible for building 75,000 Floridians’ homes, including the communities of Port Charlotte, Port St. Lucie, Port Malabar, Deltona, Spring Hill, Citrus Springs, Marion Oaks, Sunny Hills, and Key Biscayne, where Richard Nixon later bought a home.

But Marco was bolder still. The plan called for 35,000 residential units, which would require displacing 18.2 million cubic yards of ground (more than 150,000 dump trucks’ worth), dredging the land into channels, and using the dredge to create development sites in the swamp. This method is common across South Florida; Cape Coral, a little to the north, is a good example. Still, at the time, Marco Island was the largest “finger-fill” waterfront housing project to ever come before the Army Corps of Engineers, Science reported in 1976.

Since each Army Corps permit lasted just three years, the brothers split the project into five phases. A sales campaign brought 25,000 people to Marco on “sponsored visits” for which Deltona footed the bill. By 1971, Deltona had sold 11,000 lots—most before they even existed. It was a literal version of the old Florida joke about land sold by the gallon. Marco’s appeal was sold on the back of the very land it would destroy. “Cast up close to the mangroves, grass beds, and oyster bars,” the brochures read. “That’s where the fish are.”

The environmental policy revolution of the late ’60s and early ’70s thwarted the Mackles’ plans. First, the Florida Legislature passed a law requiring biological impact studies for all dredge-and-fill projects. Second, the Army Corps agreed to consult with the secretary of the interior before approving permits for controversial projects. Third, the Army Corps denied a permit to fill in 11 acres of Boca Ciega Bay, near Tampa, to build a trailer park, in a closely watched case that was upheld in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. And finally, in 1975, the Army Corps published a rule that wetlands should not be sacrificed for uses that were not either water-dependent (i.e., a dock) or required by the public interest.

The final phases of Marco Island—creating 4,000 lots on reclaimed land in Barfield Bay and Big Key—did not meet that standard, the corps ruled in 1975. Deltona sued, arguing the ruling constituted a taking of their property rights. After half a decade, its appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court, and the company ultimately agreed to a land trade with the state of Florida.

It took years for the Mackles to settle with the buyers of lots that were never built, costing the developers an inflation-adjusted quarter billion dollars. They had to sell their beloved beachfront hotel to Marriott and ultimately stopped building homes. The remaining Mackle family members sold the company to out-of-state investors in 1985 and left their roles there a few years later. East of developed Marco Island lie great swaths of mangroves, which in addition to their role in marine ecosystems are also excellent protectors from storm surges. If you can find one, a mangrove creek is still the best place to keep a small boat in a hurricane.

Florida, of course, did not stop building. Developers never lost control over state and local politics. “The problem is that the Florida economy is driven by real estate and tourism,” says Jeff Goodell, the author of The Water Will Come, a book about cities and rising sea levels. “There’s no sales tax, so these cities and counties are hugely dependent on property tax. The only way to raise money to pay for city services and defenses against flooding is by building more.”

Goodell pointed to Homestead, an Everglades boomtown south of Miami that was leveled by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Nearly 80 percent of its housing stock was damaged or destroyed. “The city was like a war zone. I served in the war in Korea so I know what one looks like,” the former City Councilman Nick Sincore told the Miami Herald recently. But the city bounced back:

Homestead leaders decided its future lay in encouraging a breakneck sprawl of residential, shopping-mall and commercial development on the potato fields and farms on the east side of U.S. 1 that had long supported the town’s economy. Before long, Homestead was one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.

It remains one of the most vulnerable communities in the country to hurricane damage.

Meanwhile, as Marco Island recovers from the eyewall, the town must confront its exposure to both storms and rising seas. “Climate change is not always a popular term down in the Marco area,” says Austin Bell, the curator of the Marco Island Historical Society. “But it’s definitely something that needs to be looked at when planning the future of the city.” Freeboard requirements in Marco—how high in relation to the base flood elevation a flood-zone home must be built—are comparatively relaxed. Multimillion-dollar homes, each with a screened-in swimming pool, are perched just above the high tide.

And so Marco, the symbol of one generation’s environmental recklessness, finds itself in that role once more.

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The Meaning of the Mooch

The Meaning of the Mooch

by Felix Salmon @ Slate Articles

There are a lot of Mooches. There’s the funny Mooch, the self-effacing Mooch, the schmoozy Mooch, the boastful Mooch, the name-dropping Mooch, the suck-up Mooch, and, yes, the utterly unhinged Mooch. Most of them are visible in just about any TV interview he does, although the angry Mooch is normally off the record. Underneath it all is one man: the chameleon Mooch, the guy who will never think twice about changing his spots if doing so gives him any kind of tactical advantage.

Right now Anthony Scaramucci—failed investment banker, newly minted man of the people, indefatigable self-promoter—is trying to pull off the most high-risk trade of his career, and he’s doing it by channeling Donald J. Trump to the best of his abilities. He has already effectively dispatched Sean Spicer; next up, if all goes according to plan, will be Reince Priebus, followed sooner or later by Steve Bannon. He’ll need friends, though, most immediately at Treasury, because right now he isn’t actually the White House communications director. In order to officially get that job, he needs to disentangle himself from his former businesses in a manner acceptable to the Treasury Department.

Once Treasury approval comes through, the Mooch will finally get the fuck-you money he’s wanted all his life—and, what’s more, he can put it all into Treasury bills and won’t need to pay any taxes on it until it’s liquidated. (All of this thanks to rules benefitting executive-branch appointees who need to sell assets to clear ethics rules.) He will also be effectively the second most powerful man in America, gleefully tramping all over norms and institutions in a way that even Bannon has until now failed to achieve. That’s because Bannon has his own agenda. The Mooch, by contrast, is perfectly happy being a thug for hire, doing whatever bidding the president asks of him and doing it with maximum relish.

The Mooch, it’s important to understand, comes as close as humanly possible to being a man without a soul. His entire career has been based on finding people who are richer, more powerful, or otherwise more successful than himself and trying to be more like them.

In its early years, that strategy meant a pretty standard move from Harvard Law School to Goldman Sachs; later on, after he discovered a taste for the television lights, it meant playing a hedge-fund manager on TV. For a while, the Mooch decided that the pinnacle of capitalism was the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, where he would rent out the famous Piano Bar every year and pour the assembled plutocrats the most expensive wine he could find. That was the period when he would happily tweet out Davos orthodoxy in a vain attempt to get taken seriously as some kind of public intellectual. (Davos, almost uniquely, is the kind of place where drivel like “Walls don’t work. Never have never will” is considered profound.)

At some point, the Mooch discovered that the best way to curry favor with the rich and powerful was simply to throw a ludicrously expensive party in Las Vegas every year, which he called SALT (SkyBridge Alternatives). By giving Wall Street folks an excuse to drink too much and to do everything else that rich guys get up to in Las Vegas, the Mooch also put himself in a position to be able to pay enormous appearance fees to politicians including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair. Both at Davos and at SALT, he saw that it was the politicians, not the billionaires, who were the real center of attention. Thus did he enter presidential politics, first with Mitt Romney, then with Scott Walker, then with Jeb Bush, and finally with Donald Trump.

In each case, the Mooch took on the mien of his new patron—demonstrating, if nothing else, his remarkable shape-shifting skills. Around Trump, he became a no-bullshit bruiser, an aide with no agenda beyond loyalty and no ambition beyond maximizing his Oval Office face time. He also removed whatever trace of the shame gene he might have had remaining, proving himself willing time and again to proclaim anything that Trump wanted him to say, no matter how ludicrous or slanderous or self-incriminating it was. That has won him the all-important trust of the president, at least for the time being.

The problem is that for all his skills at managing up, the Mooch has very few skills as a politician or as a communications chief. For instance: He’s very good at phoning up journalists and shouting at them, as I (and many of my former bosses) can personally attest. (After I published this story, for instance, the Mooch screamed at just about everybody he knew at Thomson Reuters, up to and including the CEO, multiple times.) And tactical fits of sweariness have been a central part of Washington politics forever: Just ask Rahm Emanuel. But Rahm always had a purpose to his swearing, and he always made sure it was off the record. The Mooch, by contrast, does really stupid things, like trying to bully the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza into giving up his sources—a tactic that has never worked on any journalist ever. And then does even more stupid things like throwing Bannon under the bus, in extremely vivid Anglo-Saxon, without first going off the record.

Or, to put it another way, the Mooch has already proved himself to be significantly less competent than Selina Meyer, and he hasn’t even officially started his new job yet. If and when he does get that job, and/or the chief of staff job he clearly covets, we will find ourselves looking back on the days of Priebus and Spicer as the calm, orderly time before everything went really bad. Because if there’s one thing worse than Trump in the presidency, it’s the Mooch standing by his side, applauding all his worst instincts and wallowing in the inevitable chaos like some kind of idiotically sycophantic movie henchman. It has only taken a couple of days for America to learn what kind of person the Mooch really is. The really terrifying prospect is that we’ll be reminded of that fact, on a weekly basis, for months or even years to come.

Laverne Cox Stars in Beyoncé’s New Ivy Park Campaign

Laverne Cox Stars in Beyoncé’s New Ivy Park Campaign

by Clutch @ Clutch Magazine

In August, Laverne Cox announced that she was working with Beyonce´on a new project, and now we know exactly what she had up her sleeves. On Wednesday, the newest Ivy Park campaign launched, and Cox was front and center. On Instagram, she shared a photo...

Janan Kubba -Advert - Diet Coke - demo

Janan Kubba -Advert - Diet Coke - demo

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Robin Cousins - Adverts - Megamix - demos

Robin Cousins - Adverts - Megamix - demos

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Luxury & sales force: learn to manage brand ambassadors

by aufeminin @ Womenology

Of the top fifteen international luxury brands, seven are French. French brands represent 25% of the world market in luxury personal assets (fashion, accessories, perfume, watches and jewellery), or 212 billion euros (Cabinet Bain & Company – 2012). (1) In …

Continuer la lecture

The post Luxury & sales force: learn to manage brand ambassadors appeared first on Womenology.

Taylor Swift, Katy Perry banned from wearing make up on stage?

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

Pop stars Taylor Swift and Katy Perry are headed to court for their roles in make up commercials which are potentially false and misleading, according to a press release by the Federal Trade Commission. Misleading cosmetic advertising According to an attorney familar with the case, if the pop divas are declared guilty at the very least […]

“Push up your chest!”

by aufeminin @ Womenology

Summer is arriving, and already your breasts are attracting attention, whether you reveal them discreetly or openly. Emblems of femininity, breasts are simultaneously, objects of desire, stallions of youth, feeding organs, a question of politics… “No other body part has …

Continuer la lecture

The post “Push up your chest!” appeared first on Womenology.

Sohm Kapila - Corporate - Goa Tourism - demo

Sohm Kapila - Corporate - Goa Tourism - demo

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Ashleigh Cheadle - Advert - Heartcentre - demo

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Dan Blaskey - Advert - TA - demo

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Sara Markland - Adverts - Megamix1 - demos

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David Jensen - Nar - Ice Hockey

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Robert Vernon - Narrative - Badgers Bad Mood - demos

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Nico Kaufman - Advert - Gears of War - demo

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Do mild cleansers really get your hair clean? Episode 83

Do mild cleansers really get your hair clean? Episode 83

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

On this week’s podcast we talk about the effectiveness of mild hair cleaners and other interesting beauty science news.  Should natural beauty products be patented? We think one advantage of natural beauty products (and natural medicines for that matter) is that they are available to anyone to use without having to pay “Big Beauty” or […]

Watch: This Body-Positive Dove Video Is Chicken Soup for All of Our Souls

Watch: This Body-Positive Dove Video Is Chicken Soup for All of Our Souls


theFashionSpot

Dove's newest body-positive video created by Shonda Rhimes stars Cathleen Meredith, founder of Fat Girls Dance.

Dove

Dove


Unilever Middle East

In a world of hype and stereotypes, Dove empowers women's esteem recognising that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and it's simply about how you feel.

As Usual, Republicans Won’t Have Any Clue What Their New Obamacare Repeal Bill Does Before They Vote on It

As Usual, Republicans Won’t Have Any Clue What Their New Obamacare Repeal Bill Does Before They Vote on It

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Once again, it appears Republicans are about to vote on a bill to repeal Obamacare before anybody can figure out what the legislation actually does. On Monday afternoon, the Congressional Budget Office announced it would not able to complete a full score of the legislation submitted by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, to which the Senate GOP has now pinned its hopes. Instead, it will release a “preliminary” estimate more or less analyzing whether the plan meets the bare minimum requirements to pass through the budget reconciliation process. That forecast will not include specific numbers about the bill’s “effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums.” Those won’t be available “for at least several weeks.”

Republicans need to vote on Graham-Cassidy before Sept. 30, when the reconciliation instructions they are relying on to pass repeal with just 50 Senate votes (plus Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaker) will expire. Thus, it looks like the GOP will attempt to pass a bill remaking much of the U.S. health care system without any even-handed, third-party analysis to rely upon. Cassidy’s office has reportedly been producing its own analyses of the bill’s impact; I’m sure they’re incredibly reliable.

Of course, this is not the first time the GOP will have voted on a repeal bill without the slightest clue of what it actually does. Back in May, the House also passed its own legislation before a CBO score was complete. Three weeks later, the office reported that the legislation would leave 23 million Americans uninsured in 10 years.

Voting blind on Graham-Cassidy would be a good order of magnitude more irresponsible than the House’s shenanigans, though. Many lower-chamber Republicans chose to support repeal on the assumption that the Senate would change, and maybe even improve, whatever bill they passed. If the Senate votes for Graham-Cassidy, on the other hand, the House won’t be able to change it once the end-of-the-month deadline passes. Lawmakers will either have to pass the thing wholesale or effectively shoot it down (technically they could send it back to the Senate with changes, but at that point the bill would require 60 votes to pass). Maybe they’ll wait to find out what the bill does first, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Sara Markland - Corporate - Banking - demo

Sara Markland - Corporate - Banking - demo

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Mike Duran - Corporate - demo

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Do bath soaks really detox your skin? Episode 120

Do bath soaks really detox your skin? Episode 120

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

Please support the Beauty Brains by signing up for a free audio book at Audible.com. Click here to get your free audio book. Do bath soaks really detox your skin? Allison says… I have a question about bath soaks. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about mustard seed baths, epson salt baths, Dead Sea mineral baths, […]

Dove adverts criticised for stance on public breastfeeding

Dove adverts criticised for stance on public breastfeeding


Metro

'75% say breastfeeding in public is fine, 25% say put them away. What's your way?'

Bill Champion - Advert - Mercedes US - demo

Bill Champion - Advert - Mercedes US - demo

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How Florida Anticipates a Hurricane: Frozen Orange Juice Futures

How Florida Anticipates a Hurricane: Frozen Orange Juice Futures

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

How do you anticipate the risk of catastrophic hurricane damage? In jacked-up airline fares, in surge-priced taxis, in cases of bottled water selling for $42?

In Florida, at least, there’s a tried-and-true indicator of potential hurricane damage: the futures market for frozen orange juice. Futures go up when traders think the future price of orange juice will go up, and down when traders think orange juice will be more plentiful, and therefore cheaper.

If traders are worried the state’s entire orange crop is at risk of being annihilated, futures go way up. And that’s what’s happening right now. Just as Harvey’s arrival in oil-and-gas-capital Houston gave us a big spike in gasoline prices, so Irma’s arrival in Florida may juice frozen OJ prices. As the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history heads toward South Florida, the Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice futures market opened at $1.45 a pound today, up from $1.30 last week—a gain of more than 10 percent.

There’s some history behind this. In 2004, Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Jeanne left Florida with the smallest number of viable orange trees in 18 years, sending the cost of juice concentrate skyward. In 2012, anticipation of Hurricane Isaac drove futures to a six-week high. In 2016, Hurricane Hermine sent OJ to a five-week high.

Gains driven by Irma have FCOJ at the highest point since May, when the orange industry was coming off a brutally small harvest that had doubled prices. The volume of trading is up sixfold, the Financial Times reports, in anticipation of a price spike.

Only about 20 percent of the state’s crop winds up as concentrate—in recent years, not-from-concentrate juice has gained the upper hand as it has become more popular. Still, the market remains a valuable indicator.

The Intercontinental Exchange, which offers futures trading in coffee, cocoa, sugar, cotton, and orange juice, among other things, notes that the FCOJ market is built for this type of thing:

The volatile nature of FCOJ pricing is what makes this market so vital for hedgers and so interesting for speculators. The market is prone to sharp price spikes in anticipation of weather-related disruptions in supply, including freezes and hurricanes, and to retracements of those spikes when the damage was not as bad as feared initially, or when imports of FCOJ from Brazil and other suppliers enter the U.S. market.

Like all commodity futures markets, the FCOJ serves a practical purpose for juice producers and buyers. A grower with thousands of ripe orange trees is vulnerable to a price drop, and might short a futures contract to cover her holdings. A supermarket that needs to ensure it has store-brand from-concentrate OJ is vulnerable to prices rising, and would therefore “go long,” ensuring it makes enough money to cover its purchases if prices do rise.

But it can also be an intriguing gamble for speculators who think they know more than everyone else. This is of course the plot of Trading Places, the classic ’80s Wall Street comedy starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd:

(Here’s a detailed explanation of what’s going on there.)

How do you measure the risk of a hurricane, then? In Florida, at least, you measure it in orange juice futures.

Timothy George - TV Trailer - Smash - demo

Timothy George - TV Trailer - Smash - demo

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Janan Kubba - Advert - Alpine Ski - demo

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Matthew Williamson - Ad - DVD Training - Demo

Matthew Williamson - Ad - DVD Training - Demo

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Simon Green - Advert - Legal & General - demo

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Sara Markland - Narration - Maddy - demo

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15 Pinterest beauty hacks that are bad for you Episode 97

15 Pinterest beauty hacks that are bad for you Episode 97

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

Now you can get a FREE audio version of our book, The Beauty Aisle Insider.  Just click this link to Audible.com 15 Pinterest beauty hacks that are bad for your skin DIY Fruit masks Using cooking oils as moisturizers DIY salt scrubs Burning face mask Strengthen nails by soaking in lemon juice Aspirin, toothpaste, baking soda […]

Trump’s Cabinet Secretaries Are Innovating Government Like a Fork Innovates Soup

Trump’s Cabinet Secretaries Are Innovating Government Like a Fork Innovates Soup

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

It has been nearly five months since Donald Trump formed the Office of American Innovation, an initiative led by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to make the federal government run more like a business.

Aside from the presence of Kushner, the New Jersey housing heir who married the president’s daughter and who once demonstrated his business acumen by spectacularly overpaying for a Manhattan skyscraper, this was a classic presidential gambit. Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Obama all tried their hand at making the federal government more efficient, always with the rhetoric of the private sector close at hand.

The initiative was also of a piece with Trump’s strategy of nominating business leaders (or simply rich people) to Cabinet positions, several of whom signaled a break with the executive branch’s long-standing preference for expertise and government experience: Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson at the State Department, neurosurgeon Ben Carson at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, billionaire conservative activist Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education.

You had to wonder: Would these private-sector success stories reboot their respective bureaucracies as corporate-style dynamos? Would career staff push back to maintain the status quo or resign en masse? Would politically inexperienced Trump appointees be able to implement the president’s agenda?

Four new, in-depth magazine articles have offered some insight into those questions, portraying an executive branch that does look like a business—just not a very successful one. Instead, the departments in question resemble takeover targets being sold for parts, where the talented are leaving, the opportunistic are plotting their next steps, and nobody else knows what to do. More like Yahoo, less like Amazon.

In the September issue of Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis profiles the Department of Energy—the one being run by a man who once believed it should be eliminated, and then forgot its name. In Monday’s issue of New York, Alec MacGillis looks at HUD under Carson, the neurosurgeon with no prior experience in housing or government. In Foreign Policy, Robbie Gramer, Dan De Luce, and Colum Lynch write about the State Department under Tillerson, the Texan who spent his career hunting the world for oil. In GQ, Elaina Plott goes horseback riding on the National Mall with Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the interior who served a two-year term in Congress before being offered the job in January, after a 100-second conversation with the president-elect, during which he was also offered a different Cabinet post, as the head of Veterans Affairs.

Some departments, of course, have been effective in implementing right-wing policy—the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, has been transformed by industry priorities, and the Department of Homeland Security's immigration police force has struck fear in immigrant families across the country.

But the impression left from reading these four accounts in succession is that Trump may well be fulfilling erstwhile aide Steve Bannon’s goal, the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Only by accident, though. What follows are some common threads from those pieces, each of which is worth reading in full.

We see, for example, how slow the Trump transition was compared with those of his predecessors. It’s said that between the election and the inauguration, Lewis reports, no one from the Trump team set foot inside the Department of Agriculture, which employs more than 100,000 people. Meanwhile at DOE, where Obama had sent several dozen representatives the day after the election, it took a month for the leader of the Trump “landing team” to arrive—an oil and gas lobbyist named Thomas Pyle. His time inside the department barely added up to half a day. The invaluable opportunity to mine the knowledge of predecessors went unused.

Pyle was typical of the bunglers and bundlers Trump sent in. At HUD, MacGillis reports, the January “beachhead" team included a Manhattan real-estate broker, the campaign’s “student and millennial outreach coordinator,” and the degree-exaggerating party planner-turned–housing administrator Lynne Patton. The leader of the group wound up being a startup employee with a Trump connection who, prior to landing at HUD, helped investors find rental properties to buy. At Interior, the recently confirmed deputy interior secretary—a former water bottle lobbyist—just reversed an Obama-era rule to reduce water bottle sales in National Parks.

Across the executive branch, the first moves included purging Obama appointees and digging for dirt. At DOE, Pyle initiated a small, early scandal by requesting a list of employees and contractors who had been involved in climate change research. “It reminded me of McCarthyism,” Obama-era Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall told Lewis. This happened at the State Department, too. In a speech to former colleagues in May, a onetime U.S. ambassador to Russia "warned against ‘pernicious' attempts to question the loyalty of career diplomats 'because they worked in the previous administration,’” Gramer, De Luce, and Lynch write. The emphasis on loyalty continued: In February, one of Carson’s top aides at HUD was fired after Trump’s people learned he had been critical of the president during the campaign.

Once they were installed, Trump’s team blended general disinterest with stifling micromanagement. At HUD, for example, all requests had to be rooted through the top brass, which rejected routine requests. At State, Tillerson hired a management consulting firm to administer a survey, asking how staffers might eliminate aspects of their job. Half the 75,000-person staff did not fill it out, Foreign Policy reports. A further layer of administration consisted of the “shadow Cabinet” that allowed the White House to supervise and clash with its appointees, which a Republican operative described to Plott as “zombies loyal to Jared.”

For the most part, though, top-level positions went vacant. At State, that meant regional assistant secretaries for conflict zones and important ambassadorships. Memos that once took hours to sign languished for weeks. Across the Cabinet departments, outsiders didn’t know whom to call. Canada, for example, is now discussing climate change and trade policy with states, rather than State.

Part of the problem begins with Trump: According to the Partnership for Public Service, out of 591 agency positions that require Senate confirmation, only 117 have been confirmed. There are 368 open positions with no nominees. But the department heads are having trouble, too. Zinke was two for 15 at the end of July, and the Senate committee delayed the hearings for Zinke’s other nominees for his department the day after he threatened its chairwoman, the GOP Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, for her lack of support for the president’s health care bill.

Of the four secretaries, Zinke seems the most interested. At Energy, Perry “has no personal interest in understanding what we do and effecting change,” a staffer told Lewis. “He’s never been briefed on a program—not a single one, which to me is shocking.” “Secretary Perry is a wonderful guy," Zinke told Plott. "I think he thought his department was more about energy than … science. Mostly, it's science.” At a HUD MacGillis portrays as slipping into disfunction, an oblivious Carson can only tell him, in response to a query at a press conference, “it’s coming along quite nicely.”

Across the executive branch, the career staff—granted anonymity to express themselves—give strikingly similar descriptions of the atmosphere. These are less offices run by hardcore ideologues than offices not run at all.

  • At HUD: “It was just nothing,” said one career employee. “I’ve never been so bored in my life. No agenda, nothing to move forward or push back against. Just nothing.”
  • At Energy: “The biggest change is the grinding to a halt of any proactive work. There’s very little work happening. There’s a lot of confusion about what our mission was going to be. For a majority of the workforce it’s been demoralizing.”
  • At State: “I used to wake up every morning with a vision about how to do the work to make the world a better place. It’s pretty demoralizing if you are committed to making progress. I now spend most of my days thinking about the morass. There is no vision.”

Tom Countryman, a longtime State employee who retired in January, told FP that morale was at an all-time low. That means, he says, that people are seeking opportunities to exit. He has tried to dissuade them. “My advice was to do your best to stay and serve the American people until it becomes truly unbearable for you in a moral sense. … I sought to encourage them by reminding them that no administration lasts forever.”

The same is true at Energy, especially among the cadre of supersmart scientists who can easily find more lucrative work than monitoring the nation’s nuclear waste. “People are heading for the doors,” Tarak Shah, a former chief of staff to the undersecretary for science and energy, told Lewis. “And that’s really sad and destructive. The best and the brightest are the ones being targeted. They will leave fastest. Because they will get the best job offers.”

The result of all this is a talent whirlpool, as thousands of years of institutional knowledge drains from Washington all at once. At HUD, MacGillis writes, the Bush appointee and homelessness official Ann Marie Oliva "was barred from attending a big annual conference on housing and homelessness in Ohio because, she inferred, some of the other speakers there leaned left.” At State, Tillerson has substituted an expanded front office of political hires with little diplomatic experience for the vast collected knowledge of Foggy Bottom, and is increasingly turning only to them.

At Energy, Lewis writes, the CFO simply departed, not having been told what else to do. The head of the nuclear weapons program—a three-star Air Force general—was asked to resign, before the Obama Energy chief, nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, called senators to warn them of the danger, and he was called back. He was the exception that proved the rule: Many people like him left.

To say nothing of all those who never arrived.

Simon Green - Advert - Hyundai - demo

Simon Green - Advert - Hyundai - demo

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SPOILER ALERT – Emmerdale’s Paddy and Marlon fight over a date with Lindsey?

by jgood @ The Sun

It has been quite a while since both Paddy and Marlon have been single, but with Rhona firmly back in the friend zone and Carly having run away with her first love, they’re embracing the world of dating apps. The trouble is, Paddy hasn’t yet got a love match. An attempt by Marlon and Vanessa […]

People Are Wondering Why Kim Kardashian Looks Browner on Interview Magazine Cover as “America’s New First Lady”

People Are Wondering Why Kim Kardashian Looks Browner on Interview Magazine Cover as “America’s New First Lady”

by Clutch @ Clutch Magazine

When most people think of elegant first lady’s, the first ones usually that come to mind are Michelle Obama and Jackie Onassis. But according to Interview magazine, Kim Kardashian is “America’s New First Lady”. Interview Magazine 📸 Steven Klein pic.twitter.com/6Um3JgOm8Q — Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian)...

Paul Matania - Adverts - Megamix - demos

Paul Matania - Adverts - Megamix - demos

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Letting People Buy In to Medicaid Is the Hot New Democratic Health Care Idea

Letting People Buy In to Medicaid Is the Hot New Democratic Health Care Idea

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

With Obamacare repeal defeated for the time being, Democrats have begun looking ahead and crafting plans to expand health coverage to the millions of Americans who still remain uninsured. On Tuesday, Vox previewed one such proposal from Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, which would let middle- and upper-income Americans buy into Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act's exchanges. “Exclusive: Sen. Schatz’s New Health Care Idea Could Be the Democratic Party’s Future,” declared the somewhat breathless, if technically accurate, headline. (I mean, Dwayne Johnson could be the Democratic Party's future, too.)

When I asked Schatz's office for more details, I was told the bill is still a work in progress with some pieces subject to change. But after reading a draft summary of the plan that's been making the rounds in health-policy circles, it strikes me more like an old idea with some important new twists: Schatz wants to bring back the concept of a strong public option on the Affordable Care Act's exchanges. Medicaid just happens to be the vehicle to do it.

As you no doubt recall, Democrats spent much of the 2009 Obamacare wars arguing over whether to create a government-run health plan to compete with private insurers. But even among public-option advocates, there were two camps. On one side, you had progressives, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, advocating a “strong” public option that would save costs by using the same doctor payment rates as Medicare. Moderate and conservative Dems saw this as a step too close to socialized medicine and preferred a weaker public option that would have to negotiate rates with providers just like Aetna or Humana.

In the end, both ideas proved objectionable to industry-friendly centrists like Connecticut's Joe Lieberman. The public option died.

Eight years later, liberals are now seriously debating the merits of full-on Medicare-for-all. In this new, lefty0friendly milieu, Schatz is more or less resuscitating the strong public option and serving it up as a political half-measure, just in case Congress can't muster the votes for single payer whenever Democrats next regain power.

As I said, though, it's not quite the same idea as before.

Instead of creating a federally run insurance plan, Schatz would give states the option to offer Medicaid coverage for purchase through their Obamacare exchanges. The plans would be open to all residents who were not otherwise insured and, according to the outline, would be modeled on the sort of insurance offered through Obamacare's Medicaid expansion—which, among other things, means it would cover the ACA's 10 essential health benefits. Crucially, premiums would be capped at no more than 9.5 percent of a family's income. Customers could also use their Obamacare tax credits toward the cost.

Letting middle-class families buy into Medicaid this way would fix two of the Affordable Care Act's fundamental flaws. First, it would create a health plan of last resort in places where private carriers decided not to do business. That seems more necessary than ever now that dozens of rural counties have just narrowly avoided being left without insurance options for next year. Second, it would create a new guarantee of affordable coverage for upper-middle-class families. Today, households that make more than 400 percent of the poverty line aren't eligible for Obamacare's tax credits. That's created millions of disgruntled Americans, who've been left exposed to rising premiums on the individual market. Opening up Medicaid to everyone, and putting a ceiling on its cost, would give that group some protection.1

It's not clear that either of these moves would vastly expand the number of Americans with health coverage. But they would sure up Obamacare's promises. Every family would have access to coverage on the individual market, and it would cost less than a tenth of their income, no exceptions.

Schatz's plan has one other important plank. It would increase Medicaid's payment rates to doctors and hospitals so that they matched Medicare's, with Washington picking up the full cost of the change. This move would be expensive—Medicaid pinches its pennies today, paying providers 72 percent of what Medicare offers, on average. But it would likely go a long way toward fixing what many people consider Medicaid's biggest flaw: the fact that many doctors simply won't accept the program's patients because it pays too little. Hiking the pay rates would give Medicaid enrollees access to wider networks of care and make the program more appealing to middle-class customers.

One quirk of using Medicaid to create a public option is that it might not really be public, strictly speaking. While Medicaid is funded by states and the feds, most of its enrollees today actually receive their insurance through private managed-care organizations that contract with the government. Judging from Schatz's outline, a state could lean on the same companies to offer buy-in plans. Some of these carriers, like Centene and Molina, already sell coverage on Obamacare's insurance exchanges; in places where they do, Schatz's plan might simply serve as a way to extend ACA-like subsidies to more upper-middle-class families.

That might make the Medicaid buy-in a bit more palatable to the insurance industry, which came out hard against the public option in 2009. Instead of putting them out of business, it could pad their profits. Of course, that might also be a turn-off to the left-wing activists who've been driving the Democrats' health-care debate, many of whom want to drive the private sector out of the health insurance business entirely.

There's at least one other obvious downside to using Medicaid as a public insurance backstop: States might simply choose not to expand it, just like many chose not to expand the program under the ACA. For that reason, some Democrats might still prefer to let Americans buy in to Medicare, since it's available everywhere.2 The upside of using Medicaid, so far as the left might be concerned, is that it would give states flexibility to make their buy-in's more generous. A state like California might even use it as a vehicle to pursue single payer, with federal funding.

Potential qualms aside, Schatz's plan says something interesting about the changing politics of health care. Once maligned as a poor program for poor people, Democrats are now treating Medicaid as a viable option for ensuring the middle class. For that, we can thank its successful expansion under Obamacare, as well as the Republican Party's failed attempts to slash its budget, which helped rally liberals in support of Medicaid.

Schatz's plan has also shown how far the Overton window has shifted on health care. Less than a decade ago, the public option was a bridge too far Democrats. Now, it's being treated as a modest step toward something bigger. “If there’s ever a vote for single-payer, I’m a ‘yes,’ ” Schatz told Vox. “But there are lots of things we can do in the meantime.”

1For families that earn 300 to 400 percent of the poverty line, Obamacare's subsidies cap premiums at about 9.6 percent of income. So you could argue that Schatz's plan is effectively expanding Obamacare-like subsidies to everyone.

2 I suppose Congress could also let people buy into both, and see which gets more traction.

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Innovation must create an original and special relationship by being closer to the women

by aufeminin @ Womenology

Meet Dr. Marcel Saucet, Marketing, associate professor and researcher at the University of San Diego. He heads LCAconseil.net laboratory, expert advice in marketing innovation. What do you think are the most promising innovations aimed at women sectors? Cosmetics: During the …

Continuer la lecture

The post Innovation must create an original and special relationship by being closer to the women appeared first on Womenology.

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Our Aging Workforce Needs Foreigners

Our Aging Workforce Needs Foreigners

by Joseph Coughlin @ Slate Articles

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Earlier this summer, Rep. David Schweikert, a Republican congressman from Arizona, delivered some hard truths to a session of the House of Representatives. “We have a math problem, and it is based on demographics,” Schweikert said on June 28. “I am a baby boomer. There are 76 million of us who are baby boomers, who are heading towards retirement. That demographic curve is changing the cost structure of government.”

This was back during that precarious period when Obamacare repeal-and-replace efforts had succeeded in the House but hadn’t yet floundered in the Senate, and Schweikert was lending voice to an aspect of the legislative push that had gone more or less unsaid, at least in public. To austerity-minded policymakers, the Better Care Reconciliation Act represented an exceedingly rare opportunity—“once in a lifetime,” wrote Grover Norquist—to rein in Medicaid spending before the U.S. population grew significantly older and more reliant on public funds. “It is time for almost revolutionary thoughts,” Schweikert said. “We need to look at the budget holistically.”

Between Schweikert’s take on the future solvency of Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security and the ongoing efforts of President Trump and congressional Republicans to push the BCRA into law, Republican policymakers have demonstrated real concern about the economic dependency of the old and sick on the young and gainfully employed. Which is, from a certain point of view, fair enough: The Republican Party, at least in its platonic form, exists to limit government’s reach, and our aging population, it could be argued, may force that reach to extend. It would be strange if no Republicans pushed back.

And perhaps that was why it was so peculiar when, a little more than a month after Schweikert’s demographics lesson, President Trump announced he would embrace the RAISE Act, a legislative one-two punch co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, also staunch supporters of the Republican health care effort. RAISE, if signed into law, would change the admissions criteria for legal immigrants and, more concerning from a demographics perspective, reduce their numbers by half within a decade. To the limited extent that the American working-age population continues to grow, immigrants are responsible. And so, for leaders of a party with clear apprehensions regarding the ongoing ability of the country’s workers to support its older adults, slashing legal immigration would seem, to put it gently, inconsistent.

President Trump has weathered charges of inconsistency before, but this time may be different. His campaign promise to make America great is in a category of its own—the ur-promise from which all his other promises descend. And the passage of RAISE will likely violate it in a very tangible way.

It’s not just that the legislation’s legal-immigration cuts would damage the economy, a fact most economists affirm. It’s that RAISE would hurt the American economy relative to the economies of other countries. And for those who want America to be first in all things, that outcome may prove difficult to stomach.

The cuts entailed by RAISE aren’t extreme—at least, not by international standards. They would not put us in the hermetic company of Japan, which admits very few new permanent residents, or lump us in with Switzerland and Denmark, where new immigrants must pay a high ticket price for admission, sometimes out of future wages. Even under this new proposed policy, the U.S. would still accept more newcomers, in raw terms, than any other country except perhaps Germany. (On a per-capita basis, however, the U.S. is nowhere near the top of the list of immigration-friendly countries.)

But even if such a policy wouldn’t make the U.S. an immigration outlier, it would still be a spectacularly regrettable unforced error. In fact, it’s such a bad move precisely because it would put the U.S. on a level footing with more restrictive countries. As it stands, immigration is granting America an underappreciated edge that it would be a mistake to blunt.

Populations around the world are aging—in some cases, with alarming speed—for three reasons. Birthrates in the vast majority of the world’s nations have fallen since the middle of the 20th century. (In some countries, such as India, Mexico, and Brazil, birthrates have outright plummeted.) That means fewer younger people. At the same time, life expectancy has risen, and despite recent, well-publicized downticks in the U.S., the overall trend continues to point north. Finally, in some of the countries that were heavily involved in World War II, an enormous cohort of baby boomers is just now crossing into retirement age.

As a result, by 2030, more than 20 percent of the U.S. population will be age 65 or older, a demographic breakdown slightly older than that of today’s Florida. Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, and many other wealthy countries have already achieved Floridian status, and Japan is ranging far ahead with a quarter of its population aged 65-plus. On the balance, societywide aging is a good thing—in our opinion, every extra year of life is a gift—but it still poses serious challenges beyond even the monumental-yet-crucial task of maintaining a safety net for older adults. One inevitable consequence of global aging is the shrinking of labor pools and even, in select countries, the waning of entire populations. China, Japan, Russia, much of Eastern Europe, and many other countries are now either experiencing population decline or will begin it soon.

The very real possibility of such trends manifesting in either the raw or working-age populations of the U.S. should alarm anyone who claims an interest in American greatness. Consider, for instance, yet another stated priority of President Trump: infrastructure construction. Baby boomer retirement is hitting the construction industry hard, and taking with it able bodies and institutional knowledge. Positions in the skilled trades, such as machinists, welders, electricians, and HVAC technicians, were ranked the hardest for employers to fill in 2016 according to a survey conducted by staffing company Manpower. Such shortages will only worsen in the coming years as retirements accrue. Adecco, another staffing company, estimates that retirements in the aforementioned fields as well as general construction; mechanical, electrical, and industrial engineering; plumbers and pipefitters; and others will mean that 31 million skilled-trade positions will be left unfilled by 2020, almost a tenth of the population of the United States. As a result, contractors will have to either turn down jobs, slowing growth, or else raise their wages and therefore their rates, an expense that would likely be passed along to taxpayers in the event of a major infrastructure push.

And that’s just the construction-related industries. Others facing mass retirement include the petrochemical, defense, transit, agriculture, financial advisory, and railroad industries. Air-traffic controllers, hired en masse after Ronald Reagan fired their predecessors in 1981, are now retiring en masse. The ranks of doctors and nurses—especially internists and, in an unfortunate twist, geriatricians—are also thinning. Even the Hoover Dam, perhaps the country’s most quintessentially American piece of infrastructure, is now running short of workers qualified to operate its machinery.

Despite ongoing, frenzied discussions of the potential for advanced automation to take American jobs, these crucial shortfalls continue to go overlooked. U.S. companies are already finding it difficult to entice the staff they need, as Slate’s Daniel Gross has written. Who, in the next two decades, will run our economy and grow our food? It’s not just a matter of retraining those currently unable to find work. The economy is already at or near full employment, and at a certain point, the U.S., like other aging nations, will simply need more warm bodies.

Japan is quietly addressing its labor shortage by admitting foreign workers as temporary “trainees.” Germany is attempting to stall an incipient population decline by increasing its acceptance of immigrants and refugees. (Both countries are also finding ways of keeping older workers happy in their longtime jobs, from adopting exotic exoskeletons to making workplace ergonomic adjustments—a strategy that would also benefit the U.S.) Meanwhile, China, poised to experience the largest demographic swing of any nation, is losing millions of people from its workforce every year. The resulting spike in wages is one possible explanation for why President Xi Jinping recently laid off 300,000 troops from the country’s armed forces.

In the United States, the birthrate is 1.9 children per woman, slightly below the replacement rate of roughly 2.1. Thanks only to the twin inputs of immigration and the relatively large size of new immigrant families, the U.S. population is still growing slowly and stably. Without immigration, however, the population would begin to fall as soon as 2040, according to unpublished data supplied to us by Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at the Pew Research Center. (The projection, originally made in 2015, assumes that immigration would have been cut off starting that year.)

Thanks to its current inflow of immigrants, the U.S. has, and will continue to have, one of the youngest populations among wealthy nations. That relative youth equates to a better-than-average (though still troubling) ratio of workers to nonworkers and, at least in theory, a good crop of workforce replacements for baby boomer retirees. Without immigrants, however, we would be staring cross-eyed down the barrel of a far more threatening demographic future, filled with economic malaise, higher taxes, and even disastrous cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

Legal immigration has become a partisan issue, but it shouldn’t be. Economists might disagree about whether to adopt a system that prioritizes highly skilled immigrants, as the RAISE Act proposes. (It’s worth mentioning, however, that the RAISE Act’s salary rules would keep out home-health aides, which the aging United States will soon need in droves, as Vox’s Sarah Kliff recently pointed out.) But there is broad agreement that slashing the raw number of immigrants to the U.S. would be an economic mistake. Immigration has been shown to have little to no effect on wages for native-born workers, and has even been called an “economic boost” by the George W. Bush Foundation.

Congress understands the stakes involved in cutting off America’s youth supply. Schweikert even mentioned it in his June 28 speech: “You do understand, as a nation, we functionally have zero population growth without immigration?” Though population aging may not be news to our political leaders, the question of whether they will prioritize the economic competitiveness of the nation over nativism remains open. We get it: There are people in this country who just don’t like immigration. But presumably a lot of those same people would feel more comfortable living in a world where America, bolstered by a healthy economy and a workforce strengthened by legal immigration, retains its geopolitical clout. As it stands, the world at large is sending the United States a precious resource—young people—free of charge. You can want an America with far fewer of these immigrants, or you can want America to be great. In this era of population aging, however, you can’t have both.

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Canada Reportedly Wants the U.S. to Scrap Its Right-to-Work Laws as Part of a New NAFTA Deal

Canada Reportedly Wants the U.S. to Scrap Its Right-to-Work Laws as Part of a New NAFTA Deal

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Canadians are apparently sick of competing with nonunionized foreign workers South of the border. According to the Globe & Mail, the country’s negotiating team is asking the United States to scrap its anti-union right-to-work laws as part of an updated North American Free Trade Agreement, presumably in order to prevent poorly paid Americans from undercutting organized Canadian labor on wages. Obviously, this is not what the Trump administration had in mind when it demanded our neighbors return to NAFTA’s negotiating table.

Right-to-work statutes allow employees to opt out of paying fees to the unions that represent them in collective bargaining. These laws are frequently blamed for draining organized labor of financial resources and have likely contributed to the decline of union organizing over the past several decades. States are permitted to enact the laws under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, a landmark piece of union-busting legislation that congressional Republicans passed over President Harry Truman’s veto. Canada, which like the U.S. is seeking to strengthen NAFTA’s labor protections overall, would reportedly appreciate it if Washington would pass new federal legislation banning right-to-work provisions.

“I’m very pleased with the position the Canadian government is taking on labour standards,” Jerry Dias, president of Canada’s largest private-sector union, told reporters outside of this weekend’s NAFTA talks. “Canada’s got two problems: The low wage rates in Mexico and the right-to-work states in the United States.”

To be clear, there is zero chance that a Republican White House would agree to do away with right-to-work laws as part of a trade deal. Breaking the power of organized labor is a key piece of the party’s long-term agenda, and relinquishing that goal in order to appease our lefty neighbors would cause an uproar among the GOP donor class. Canada almost surely knows this, and is staking out an extreme negotiating position in order to signal that it’s treating these talks seriously and is prepared to ask for major concessions.

It’s also an ironic way to throw the Trump administration’s protectionist rhetoric back in its face, which seems like part of the point.

Our president of course loves to complain about cheap foreign labor undercutting American factory workers. And now and then, he has a point. Mexico, for instance, more or less lacks independent labor unions, and partly as a result, wages there have barely risen over the past 15 years, even as auto manufacturing has flourished within the country’s industrializing north. For this reason, the fact that the original NAFTA lacked basic, enforceable labor standards cutting across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is widely looked at as a mistake, which both the Trump administration and Canada are looking to rectify in the current renegotiations. The Trump administration’s official NAFTA wish list includes enshrining the “Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining” among all three countries.

But Canada’s right-to-work jab is a reminder that, for all our talk of raising the rest of the world to our own labor standards, America’s record on workers’ rights isn’t exactly pristine, and that much of the developed world may see a nonunion factory in Alabama much the way we see car plants in San Luis Potosi. In other words, we’re not always the ones being taken advantage of.

Preservative free products can be dangerous! Episode 91

Preservative free products can be dangerous! Episode 91

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

Perfume for poop I never realized how important it is to have a good perfume for poop. We really take a lot of things for granted living in a first world country and one of them is proper sanitation. A lot of places lack proper plumbing and instead use latrines or outdoor toilets. That’s not as much fun as […]

Richard Attlee - Doc - Heinz Salad Cream - demo

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Commentaires sur “Gender, Design and Marketing”, a book justifying marketing to women with biological arguments par Nathalie

by Nathalie @ Commentaires pour Womenology

Il faut en effet admettre qu’il y a des grandes différences hommes/femmes dans la consommation et celles-ci sont à prendre en compte. En revanche, quant à l’origine de ces différences, les théories se contredisent. Notamment cet article sur Gloria Moss qui justifie le marketing to women par des arguments biologiques vient totalement contredire votre autre article sur la neurobiologiste Lise Eliot et son essai «Cerveau rose, Cerveau bleu» qui affirme que ces différences découlent surtout de l’éducation différenciée entre filles et garçons.

Richard Attlee - Advert - Pizza Hut - demo

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Robert Vernon - Advert - Jaguar - demo

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Hannah McPake - Advert - Scottish Widows - demo

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Quicky beauty science questions Episode 78

Quicky beauty science questions Episode 78

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

This week we try something different: instead of taking one question and giving  it a very in depth answer, we a answer several questions very shallowly. Listen to the show and let us know what you think of this approach. Are hair masks better than regular conditioners? Alexandra asks…Is there a real difference between hair masks and […]

Republicans Claim That Their New Plan to Repeal Obamacare Is a Moderate Compromise. LOL.

Republicans Claim That Their New Plan to Repeal Obamacare Is a Moderate Compromise. LOL.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

On Monday, two plucky Senate Republicans are set to embark on one final madcap effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana have promised to introduce a piece of practical, compromise legislation that will simply let states decide whether to keep the Affordable Care Act or ditch it for something they prefer.

“It would leave in place taxes on the wealthy, taking that money and giving it back to governors to come up with better health care,” Graham has told CNN. “If you like Obamacare, you can keep it. If you want to replace it, you can.”

This modest pitch is wildly misleading. Graham and Cassidy have been shopping versions of their bill for months now, and submitted a detailed version as an amendment in July. As it stands, the legislation would make it virtually impossible for dozens of states to continue operating Obamacare as we know it without kicking in unrealistic amounts of their own money. That’s because, in the short term, the law is designed to penalize states that embraced the ACA while rewarding those that resisted it. Further down the line, the legislation simply zeroes out all of Obamacare’s spending, a de facto repeal of the entire program that doesn’t include a replacement. As policy, it’s a bit like walking into somebody’s house, lighting the whole ground floor on fire, then telling them, “Hey, you can keep living here—if you like it.”

In its early years, Graham-Cassidy is about robbing Peter to pay Paul—or, to be more precise, raiding California’s health-care budget in order to temporarily lavish some extra dough on North Dakota. The bill would take all of the money Washington currently spends on Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and premium subsidies, then distribute it to states in the form of block grants that, in theory, lawmakers in Albany or Topeka could use to fund whatever health care system they desired. Meanwhile, it leaves in place some of Obamacare’s consumer protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.

Sounds reasonable? There’s a catch. Instead of determining each state’s block grant based on how much money it receives under Obamacare today, the bill would doll out funding based on a baroque formula that favors poorer, older, sparsely populated parts of the country. As a result, it shifts spending from large states that expanded Medicaid, like California and New York, to small states that did not, like Mississippi and Alabama. There are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, nonexpansion states like North Carolina and Florida could see their health-care funding slashed, since lots of their residents get premium subsidies through the ACA’s exchanges today. Nevada, which did take up the expansion, could see a slight funding bump. But, as a whole, the bill starts off as a giant slap at states that committed the sin of trying to get more of their residents insured through Obamacare.

It gets worse. Graham-Cassidy schedules its block grants to grow slower than the cost of health care or insurance, thus eroding their value over time. According to the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the system would would lead to a 34 percent spending cut by 2026. Nine states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia—would see their federal health-care funding cut in half under the block grant system, compared to what they would have received from Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and subsidy spending. Keeping the ACA in place would require spending vastly more of their own state revenue, which would be prohibitively expensive.

And what about the winners under the block grant setup? Many of them turn out to be losers, too. That’s because, like previous Republican House and Senate health-care bills, Graham-Cassidy would impose a per-capita cap on traditional Medicaid, designed to throttle its spending over time. By 2026, just eight states would end up with more overall health care funding than under current law—and many of them would probably be better off if lawmakers just swallowed their irrational animosity toward the ACA and expanded Medicaid.

But the real kicker comes after 2026. At that point, the block grant simply disappears, leaving states to fund whatever insurance scheme they’ve set up without federal assistance. As CBPP’s Edwin Park noted to me, this is even more draconian than what Republicans dreamed up in the previous House and Senate bills, both of which would have left in place subsidies that Americans could use to buy insurance. “Looking past 2026, both the House and Senate had their grossly inadequate tax credits, but they were permanent. Here, all funding for expanded coverage, the marketplace subsidies and Medicaid expansion, disappears,” Park said.

So far, nobody seems to be taking Graham and Cassidy too seriously, mostly because time is working against them. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has dangled the possibility of a vote, few seem to think the pair can move their bill before the end of the month, when the legislative vehicle Republicans are counting on to pass repeal with a bare majority expires.”I don’t think there’s much of a chance,” Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, told Politco. Plenty of other Republicans apparently agree. President Trump, meanwhile, has not-so-subtly nudged everybody to move on.

Even so, this bill should make Obamacare’s supporters nervous, at the very least. It doesn’t merely shuffle Obamacare’s funding around, but rather chokes it off entirely over the course of a decade. Graham and Cassidy may be attempting the legislative equivalent of a half-court buzzer beater. But we’re in big trouble if they just happen to sink it.

Unilever backs up Dove soap ad after questioning

Unilever backs up Dove soap ad after questioning


CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com

Unilever holds its head high after winning an ad battle over its Dove soap after it had dryness claims questioned, and the Advertising Standards authority ruled in its favour.

Robert Vernon - Nar-Doc-Dr- demos

Robert Vernon - Nar-Doc-Dr- demos

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Stefanie Powers - Advert - Dove - demo

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What’s the best way to get rid of bed head? Episode 122

What’s the best way to get rid of bed head? Episode 122

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

Does this bed head product really work? Sasha asks…Can Ma Cherie Perfect Shower fix your bed better than regular water? Is this worth the money or is it nothing more than water mixed with leave in conditioner? Let’s begin by talking about what causes bed head. First, you have to realize that there are two different […]

Robert Vernon - Game - Skyrim - demo

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Richard Attlee - Narration - Roald Dahl - demo

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Health Benefits Of Clove Essential Oil: The Maluku Islands, Indonesia

by Nate M @ Maple Holistics

Clove essential oil is definitely one of the more important ones, as it’s incredibly effective, readily available (and therefore cost-effective too) and has a wide variety of uses.

The post Health Benefits Of Clove Essential Oil: The Maluku Islands, Indonesia appeared first on Maple Holistics.

Bethan Dixon-Bate - Adverts - MEGAMIX 2 - demos

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Houston Wasn’t Built for a Storm Like This

Houston Wasn’t Built for a Storm Like This

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Houston is in the midst of what appears to be the worst flooding to strike a major U.S. city since the levees broke in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Hurricane Harvey has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it was never the water from the ocean that Houston had to fear but the water from the sky. And the rain just keeps on coming, even as flooding has rendered major freeways impassable. Buffalo Bayou, the meandering river that passes through the center of the city, is expected to crest 14 feet above its previous record. Overhead video shows vast areas of the city’s single-family home neighborhoods swamped by brown water. Downtown is an island. More rain is projected through Tuesday.

America’s fourth-largest city is still full of people: Citizen flotillas of kayaks and outboards are rescuing Houstonians from cars, trucks, rooftops, and second-floor windows, complementing a severely overwhelmed official relief effort. On Sunday afternoon, emergency service lines were so inundated that callers could only get busy signals, the Houston Chronicle’s Lydia DePillis reported. At one point the wait for 911 was two-and-a-half hours, a Houstonian told Laura Nelson of the Los Angeles Times. Texans are using Twitter to ask people to save their lives. And many of us are wondering who is to blame.

The immediate question is why local officials did not encourage people to evacuate. On Friday, as the Hurricane neared landfall, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a somewhat half-hearted warning to residents along the coast: “Even if an evacuation order hasn’t been issued by your local official, if you’re in an area between Corpus Christi and Houston, you need to strongly consider evacuating.”

But that suggestion was contradicted by local officials in Houston and its many suburban cities, who said, basically: This isn’t the Jersey Shore or the Outer Banks or even New Orleans. “You can’t put—in the city of Houston—2.4 million people on the road,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a press conference on Sunday, defending the decision. Together with surrounding Harris County, 6.5 million people would have had to leave—including tens of thousands of people without transportation and more than 550,000 undocumented immigrants who fear the federal and state governments. Many Houstonians remember 2005, when an attempted evacuation for Hurricane Rita created the worst traffic jam in the city’s history and killed as many people as the hurricane itself—through heat stroke, and a bus that caught fire. The freeways where motorists sat stranded during Rita are underwater now. During last year’s floods, most deaths also occurred in cars.

One underlying cause of Houston’s suffering is that developers and town officials in Harris County, which contains Houston, have for years advocated the development of the wetlands and prairies around the city—land that had long served to absorb the rainwater that now overwhelms the region’s sewers and streams every year. The flood-absorbent grasslands of the Katy Prairie have been cut by three-quarters over the past few decades as Houston sprawled west. The state played along, funding expansion of I-10, “the Katy Freeway,” and another road, the Grand Parkway, which further opened that land up for development. To make matters worse, money-hungry officials also encouraged development in low-lying, flood-prone areas without regard to future risk. There have been more than 7,000 units built in the hundred-year floodplain since 2010, according to a ProPublica/Texas Tribune analysis. Efforts to reform the city's building codes have been met with strong resistance in an area where homebuilding has been a major economic engine.

Last year, the longtime head of the Harris County flood control district, Mike Talbott, told ProPublica that his agency had no plans to study the impact of climate change on the region’s flooding problems. Here’s a quote from that article, which is well worth reading in full:

Of the astonishing frequency of huge floods the city has been getting, he said, “I don't think it's the new normal.” He also criticized scientists and conservationists for being “anti-development.”
“They have an agenda ... their agenda to protect the environment overrides common sense,” he said.

Still, the debates over evacuation and development are spurious confronted with a storm this size, and the trend it represents: a strength and frequency of weather events that challenge all previous notions of risk assessment. This is the third straight year that Houston has endured a devastating, once-in-a-lifetime flood. There were the Memorial Day floods in 2015 and the Tax Day floods in 2016. Together the storms killed 16 people and caused more than $1 billion in damage. More than a third of the properties that flooded in Houston’s 2015 Memorial Day floods were located outside the “hundred-year floodplain,” the zone in which FEMA requires homeowners with government-backed mortgages to elevate homes or buy flood insurance. Now with Harvey, Houston has been hit with six “hundred-year storms” since 1989.

Early Sunday, the National Weather Service essentially threw up its hands:

Even the president seemed to have a sense that something extraordinary was afoot. “We have an all out effort going, and going well!” the president tweeted from Camp David on Sunday morning. “Even experts say they’ve never seen one like this,” he added later.

Here’s how the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang described it:

The total rainfall from the storm is likely to tally up to a widespread 15 to 30 inches, with a few localized spots picking up 50 inches or more. Many textbooks have the 60-inch mark as a once-in-a-million-year recurrence interval, meaning that if any spots had that amount of rainfall, they would essentially be dealing with a once-in-a-million-year event.

Cities are built around levels of expected risk, ascertained by residents and businesses and enforced by finance and insurance and government. Will a bank loan you the money to build that house, or to buy it? Will an insurer back those loans? Will a city official permit it? It now seems clear that in the case of Houston, those estimates—forged on years of historical data—have been decimated by the planet’s changing atmosphere.

It does not make sense to say climate change “caused” a hurricane. But, as the climate scientist Michael Mann wrote, "it exacerbates several characteristics of the storm in a way that greatly increased the risk of damage and loss of life.” And at the Atlantic, Rob Meyer has a thoughtful evaluation of the ways in which climate change has enabled larger, more dangerous, faster-growing storms. The oil capital of the world drowned by an atmosphere teeming with greenhouse gases.

The science isn’t certain, of course. But the extremity of the storm is. No land-use regime can proof a city for 50 inches of rain. Perhaps it is possible to move 6.5 million people out in 48 hours, but we have yet to accomplish it. The problem Houston has is more severe. Until the modern era, it was routine for disasters—mostly fire, flood, and pestilence—to serve as checks on the growth of urban centers. We have almost forgotten that used to happen, but it’s not unheard of: The population of New Orleans fell by half after Katrina, and remains about 15 percent smaller than it was in 2005. (About 100,000 of those people settled in Houston.) After three straight years of catastrophic floods, America’s fastest-growing city may be reaching a turning point.

James Cooney - Adverts - MEGAMIX - demo

James Cooney - Adverts - MEGAMIX - demo

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Bill Champion - Advert - Drink Drive - demo

Bill Champion - Advert - Drink Drive - demo

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Why do brands need media muses?

by aufeminin @ Womenology

“In reality, women are more ‘real,’ and not as perfect as Adriana Karembeu. People need reality, they need truth.” These are the words of Nicolas Chomette, head of Black & Gold, a design and strategy company. He adds, “Sometimes we …

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Martin Buchanan - TV Continuity - UK Gold

Martin Buchanan - TV Continuity - UK Gold

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Bill Champion - Narration - The Understudy - demo

Bill Champion - Narration - The Understudy - demo

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James Cooney - Drama - Safety - demo

James Cooney - Drama - Safety - demo

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Sara Markland - Adverts - Megamix2 - demos

Sara Markland - Adverts - Megamix2 - demos

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Bill Champion - Documentary - Worlds Largest Snake - demo

Bill Champion - Documentary - Worlds Largest Snake - demo

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Sara Markland - Narration - I Don't Know How - Demo

Sara Markland - Narration - I Don't Know How - Demo

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Jay Villiers - Ad - British Airways - Demo

Jay Villiers - Ad - British Airways - Demo

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Catalina Blackman - Dr - Our New Girl

Catalina Blackman - Dr - Our New Girl

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Nico Kaufman - Advert - Campbells Soup - demo

Nico Kaufman - Advert - Campbells Soup - demo

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With Its New #MyBeautyMySay Ad, Dove Has Come A Long Way In 60 Years

With Its New #MyBeautyMySay Ad, Dove Has Come A Long Way In 60 Years


Youth Ki Awaaz

With its latest ad campaign, #MyBeautyMySay, Dove appears to be testing its own love of binaries, and once more, we’re paying attention.

Hannah McPake - Advert - Thorpe Park - demo

Hannah McPake - Advert - Thorpe Park - demo

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Colin Elmer - Impersonations - demos

Colin Elmer - Impersonations - demos

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Charlotte Lucas - Advert - TK Maxx - demo

Charlotte Lucas - Advert - TK Maxx - demo

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It looks as though at least one of the 'real women' meant to be in Dove's latest 'Campaign for Real Beauty' ad was an actress

It looks as though at least one of the 'real women' meant to be in Dove's latest 'Campaign for Real Beauty' ad was an actress


Business Insider

The actress tweeted that she was "feeling blessed en route to 'Doors/Choose Beautiful' documentary set."

Robert Vernon - Game - Time - demo

Robert Vernon - Game - Time - demo

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Richard Attlee - Adverts - Megamix - demos

Richard Attlee - Adverts - Megamix - demos

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David Jensen - Advert - Mars

David Jensen - Advert - Mars

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Lacoste Women – they’ve got bite

by aufeminin @ Womenology

A polo shirt with an embroidered crocodile. This is the hallmark of the legendary French company Lacoste. Officially born in 1933, the famous shirts adorned with their badge is based on the story of the international tennis champion René Lacoste …

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James Cooney - Advert - Clubbers Guide - demo

James Cooney - Advert - Clubbers Guide - demo

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22-Year-Old With Concealed Carry Stops Tennessee Church Shooter

by Thomas Phippen @ The Daily Caller

'He's the hero. He's the person who stopped this madness'

Yes, women watch X-rated movies too

by aufeminin @ Womenology

In the 1970’s, pornographic movies were broadcasted without restraint in cinemas; however, with the introduction of the Giscard law in 1975, the general view began to change towards these erotic productions. By 1990, almost all pornographic cinema halls had disappeared, …

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Sohm Kapila - Advert - Honda - demo

Sohm Kapila - Advert - Honda - demo

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Robin Cousins - Advert - Thatchers Cider - demo

Robin Cousins - Advert - Thatchers Cider - demo

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Dove Ad Features Transgender Mom: ‘No One Right Way’

Dove Ad Features Transgender Mom: ‘No One Right Way’


NewsBusters

Just like entertainment media, advertisements have the power to both shape and reflect the culture. While capitalizing on social trends, brand experts are pushing to mainstream controversial themes – and Dove soap is the latest to participate with a transgender star. Earlier this month, Dove released an ad with a transgender “mother” as part of its new #RealMoms campaign celebrating motherhood.

Do you rely on makeup to be more attractive?

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

In our podcast Episode 70 we discussed a research study which indicated makeup is not the key to attractiveness. One of our astute listeners, Nadia, pointed out that we neglected to mention other research which came to a much different conclusion. She graciously took the time to summarize these additional studies and, with her permission, I am reprinting […]

Nico Kaufman - Documentary - Wormhole - demo

Nico Kaufman - Documentary - Wormhole - demo

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Kym Mazelle - Advert - Zappos - demo

Kym Mazelle - Advert - Zappos - demo

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Taupe

by Colin @ Colin's Beauty Pages

Reading beauty blogs is a very educational process.  I have for example just now come across a colour that hasn’t hit my radar before.  I got this from Charlotte at LipGlossiping who announced that her favourite colour for eyes is taupe.  Not having come across it before I googled it to discover it has quite […]

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Seretta Wilson - Advert - GuPuds - demo

Seretta Wilson - Advert - GuPuds - demo

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Richard Attlee - Advert - Baked Beans - demo

Richard Attlee - Advert - Baked Beans - demo

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Dove

Dove


Unilever global company website

Dove is committed to helping women realise their personal potential for beauty by engaging them with products that deliver real care.

Businesses Are Finally Realizing That Trump Causes “Uncertainty”

Businesses Are Finally Realizing That Trump Causes “Uncertainty”

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

Back in the financially tumultuous early years of the Obama administration, it was common to hear worthies of a certain ilk carp that “uncertainty” from Washington was harming economic growth. Here’s Steve Forbes complaining in early 2010—at the beginning of one of the longest expansions on record—that regulatory uncertainty was inhibiting a sustained recovery. Blackstone Group Chairman Steve Schwarzman, in the summer of 2010, compared the mild regulations the Obama administration had passed to Hitler invading Poland. Some of these gripes continued into the late Obama years: In April 2014, supply-sider Larry Kudlow moaned that the “incredible uncertainty about Obamacare and its taxes and regulations” was hampering the markets and the economy.

Of course, business and policy are always uncertain to a degree. And policy changes in 2009 and 2010 did create new mandates and requirements for businesses. But the stimulus, Dodd-Frank, and the Affordable Care Act were generally well–thought out, slow to materialize, and coolly implemented. And there’s simply no evidence that “uncertainty” about the path of policy in Washington, however you define it, hampered business investments, hiring, and especially market performance in the period between 2009 and 2016. Because “uncertainty” doesn’t really mean uncertainty—it’s just code used by supply-siders and right-wingers. What they really didn’t like was the fact that a guy named Obama was sitting in the White House, poised to raise their taxes. (Readers, he did. And the economy and S&P 500 survived.)

When President Trump was elected, the concerns of supply-siders and Wall Street titans over uncertainty seemed to dissipate. They were sure that the impending tax-reform package, regulatory reduction, and the repeal of Obamacare would cause the markets and economy to boom. An incoming administration hostile to facts, norms, and maybe even the sanctity of the republic? No concerns here! And, as Trump often reminds us, the markets have soared to new heights while volatility has decreased. But six months into his presidency, there is abundant evidence of actual uncertainty emanating from Washington—including but not limited to the policy chaos intentionally fomented by the Trump administration—that is beginning to harm business and investment.

Across the board, Trump has generally not bothered to staff up the government, thrown into question long-standing U.S. trade policy, and instigated and supported efforts to blow up the insurance industry. And it is starting to become clear just how these efforts are harming business.

Trade

Trump’s Stalled Trade Agenda is Leaving Industries in the Lurch,” reads the lead story in the business section of Tuesday’s New York Times. Apparently, the uncertainty over whether Trump will impose tariffs on imported steel has been spurring foreign suppliers to ship more steel to the U.S.—which simply makes it more difficult for domestic producers to compete. Adam Behsudi of Politico has a fantastic, deeply reported article this week on how Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Trans Pacific Partnership—and the ensuing efforts by other countries to negotiate trade deals among themselves—is undermining the ability of U.S. agriculture producers to export. “I’m scared to death,” said Ron Prestage, a North Carolina businessman who had just made a big investment in a meat-processing plant in anticipation of more business after the passage of TPP. Behsudi also interviewed corn farmers in Iowa who have seen the price of their product gyrate in response to Trump’s hostile tweets toward Mexico. Trump promised to get Americans better deals on international trade. Instead he’s only delivered migraines.

Pipelines

Trump talked a big game about supporting pipeline construction during the campaign—especially the Keystone XL pipeline. But his slowness to staff up the federal bureaucracy has made it difficult for proposed pipeline projects to get off the ground. In May, Bloomberg reported that some $50 billion in work was either “slowed or stalled” because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wasn’t capable of approving them. “For the first time in FERC’s 40-year-history, the agency doesn’t have enough commissioners for a quorum to vote on project applications.” Last week, Politico put the amount of stalled shovel-ready projects somewhat lower: at $13 billion. “Trump’s slowness to fill vacancies at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is one reason for a growing backlog of natural gas pipelines and a gas export terminal awaiting approval from the agency, which has been unable to conduct major business since February.” Wasn’t this president supposed to be fossil fuels’ best friend?

Health insurance

Nowhere is Trump’s combination of chaotic management and policy ignorance more evident than in health care. With a substantial assist from Republicans in Congress, Trump has done an enormous amount to intentionally create uncertainty for health insurers and health providers. Over the past seven years, the massive health industry has rebuilt itself around the Affordable Care Act and anticipated levels of funding for entitlements such as Medicaid. But Trump has backed—and then not backed, and then backed again—legislation that would have slashed hundreds of billions from Medicaid and eliminated the individual mandate that keeps insurance markets stable. He has threatened on multiple occasions to withhold payments from insurers that offer plans on the exchange. And his Department of Health and Human Services is trying to undermine enrollment in insurance plans. The result, as Politico reported in an article headlined “GOP Uncertainty Over Obamacare Drives Out Insurers,” is that insurers are abandoning markets and lines of business.

Infrastructure

President Trump has talked a great deal about a big infrastructure package, but nobody on his team has really bothered to flesh it out. Remember the clown show of infrastructure week in early June? The Trump administration says it wants to enlist the private sector to fund roads, bridges, and other vital projects, and its proposed budget zeroed out a bunch of grants and programs that support long-planned projects. All of which has had the effect of freezing progress and planning on dozens of ongoing projects. “The sudden uncertainty has left local officials who had long anticipated federal support for their projects worrying whether they will get it,” the Chicago Tribune reported in June.

Saber-rattling

And then there’s what happened on Tuesday when Trump, speaking from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, injected an entirely new source of uncertainty into the world by threatening North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Markets immediately nosedived.

In the Obama years, there was uncertainty over whether the top marginal rate would be 35 percent or 39.6 percent. In the Trump years, there’s uncertainty over whether a country of 25 million people will be here tomorrow.

Amazon’s Hit Clothing Brand for Kids Is a Crime Against Taste and Childhood

Amazon’s Hit Clothing Brand for Kids Is a Crime Against Taste and Childhood

by Cleo Levin @ Slate Articles

In the past year, Amazon has quietly slipped into the apparel-manufacturing business, with goods ranging from lingerie to men’s dress shoes. These private-label brands have innocuous names like Paris Sunday and Goodthreads, and they haven’t made huge splashes in their respective markets—except for one. Scout + Ro, Amazon’s children’s brand, has exploded, according to a recent report from analytics firm 1010data. The brand has increased its offerings five times over and achieved a 542 percent increase in overall growth year over year. The kids are wearing Amazon.

As a faceless corporation begins to dress children, the truly scary prospect is not simply the threat that Scout + Ro poses to precious, local brick-and-mortars. It’s how mind-numbingly dull these Amazon clothes are.

If you search for Scout + Ro on Google, you’ll find no dedicated online store or URL, just an Amazon landing page that features a small logo and generic campaign image. The store, such as it is, borrows its palette of gray and tangerine straight from the Amazon mothership, and with a half-hearted nod toward whimsy, perches a bird atop the o in Scout.

The brand is generally designed to be as unobtrusive as possible, with just enough creativity to seem relevant. The name itself follows the well-worn millennial tradition of sticking an ampersand or plus sign between two cute, vaguely vintage-sounding words. Scout scores double points, as it’s also part of the somewhat inexplicable To Kill a Mockingbird–inspired baby names trend.

The brand’s message is based around the very simple principle that children’s clothing should be comfortable and designed for play. Beyond that, it’s really more about what the clothes are not than what they are. One of the brand messages is, “Never interrupt a playdate with itchy fabrics or fussy styles.”

The clothes are all remarkably similar with only slight variations from item to item. You can, for instance, buy almost the same short-sleeve dress in five different, equally safe patterns. This is not to say that children need to be dressed in shoulder pads or asymmetrical hems, just that Scout + Ro’s offerings appear to have been filched from the closet of an extremely unimaginative doll.

While the kids offerings at stores like Target and the Children’s Place try to cater to modern sensibilities with hashtagged catchphrases and destroyed denim, Scout + Ro clothing doesn’t even necessarily look contemporary. Instead, the pieces seem like something any child from a Disney sitcom in the past 30 years could have worn. There are no obnoxious slogans, no overly prissy ruffles or aggressive camouflage. While shirts that say “#1 Princess” or “Future Heartbreaker” won’t get points for panache or creativity, at least they show some character.

If clothes this dull were being sold somewhere other than Amazon, they would likely be left in the remainders basket, but Amazon already has a huge, captive audience and pool of Prime subscribers. A study from last year estimated that Amazon captures 43 cents of every dollar spent online. The site’s shoppers are happy to stock up on a whole variety of basic items with free, two-day shipping, which has led to success with other private label lines, showing that they can dominate categories like batteries and baby wipes. Scout + Ro clothes are simple enough that they can be thrown into the shopping cart with the rest of your Prime order—kids don’t really need to try on clothing in stretchy fabrics and unobjectionable colors.

Retail analysts also note that because Amazon aggregates data on the market, it can use that to inform its own designs and create logical price points. Quickly identifying and manufacturing trends is key to success in a fashion market moving ever more quickly. As Marc Bain at Quartz points out, the speed of production is what has allowed fast-fashion brands to overtake longtime favorites like Gap.

The clincher is that Amazon’s scale allows it to slightly underprice its competitors. The site encourages shoppers to comparison shop, placing equivalent brands in tabs next to the Scout + Ro items, which are priced just low enough that they seem of similar quality, but clearly the better deal, an average of about 35 percent cheaper.

Scout + Ro clearly has a winning business model, and parents will appreciate the ease of buying their kids’ wardrobe at the same time as their light bulbs and hedge trimmers. But dressing hideously as a child is a rite of passage, one that even the convenience of Amazon shouldn’t force us to ditch. Kids’ clothing should not be data-driven; kids should learn to root through messy piles of sale T-shirts to find one in a heinous shade of neon green printed with a giant cat head. They should have to occasionally wear a fussy velvet dress with an itchy collar or starchy pants. Cheesy, attention-grabbing, even ugly clothing is a key part of childhood. Let’s not one-click it into obsolescence.

Please Step Aside, Sir

Please Step Aside, Sir

by Jacob Brogan @ Slate Articles

We’ve all lived through the necessary indignity of passing through airport security. Especially when the queue moves slowly, the process leaves you replaying familiar worries. Do I still have to take off my shoes? Should I pull out my laptop? Are my toiletries small enough to escape notice? When you pass through with a medical device, however, the list of questions is longer and the answers more frustratingly predictable. Yes, you’ll waste still more time as the agents scrutinize every aspect of your equipment. Yes, before the experience is done, one of them will touch your groin. Yes, you are being singled out for something that already makes you feel terrible—physically and emotionally—almost every day. If you’re lucky, you still make it to your gate in time.

In my case, the trouble starts with two medical devices that are always attached to my body to treat my diabetes: a wireless insulin pump, which I typically wear on my upper arm, and a constant glucose monitor that adheres to my stomach. Removing either would require me to apply a new module, which is both expensive and time-consuming. And though neither device is especially large, they announce themselves loudly on full-body scans: bright blots of light against the murky gray of my digitally rendered frame.

Each time they show up—and they always do—the next steps are the same. Officers pull me aside and pat me down. Somewhere along the way, they test my fingers for explosives. Inevitably, I’m all but compelled to explain my condition, telling the agents what I’m wearing and why, even as other travelers stream by.

Where devices like mine are designed to make my life easier, allowing me to live without fear of my disease, here they become objects of near-performative skepticism. For a few minutes, I become a sort of showpiece, a dramaturgical prop in the Transportation Security Administration’s ongoing work of security theater. In the moment, it’s hard not to feel that the TSA counts on such screening opportunities, if only because they allow the agents to show everyone else in line just how thorough they are.

Perhaps that’s unfair to officers who are, after all, simply doing an important job. While the agency does a great deal to accommodate those with medical conditions (individuals with disabilities don’t need to remove their shoes, for example), its information pages also clarify that any and all medical equipment may receive further screening. In other words, they’ll do their best to ensure you make it through safely, but they’re almost always going to look at you more closely than they would at another passenger.

This can be frustrating in the moment, but it’s not just those of us who repeatedly receive extra scrutiny who have concerns. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, which researches civil liberties and privacy issues, has argued that that the full-body scanning technology currently in use across the United States is unnecessarily invasive in ways that go beyond the basic imaging process. As the organization put it in a recent petition to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, that’s partly because that system “heighten[s] the burden of disclosure for persons who rely on certain life-sustaining medical devices.”

In May, the court brushed off EPIC’s petition, writing that the issues “do not warrant a published opinion.” Jeramie Scott, director of EPIC’s Domestic Surveillance Project, told me that conclusion was frustrating. In particular, he told me, the court seems to have overlooked or otherwise discounted the pressures that the screening process can put on people with medical conditions to reveal information about their well-being.

Do TSA agents know how to sensitively move travelers like me through security? According to Supriya Raman, a manager in the TSA’s disability office, security screening officers undergo training that addresses both disabilities and medical conditions and devices associated with them. Raman’s office also circulates updates when it learns about new medical technologies as they make their way to the market, attempting to help the agency’s officers recognize devices that might pass through their checkpoints. In my own experience, at least, that training doesn’t seem to have stuck: Though my pump and monitor are both relatively common, few security officers recognize them.

TSA representatives also stress that passengers have the right to request a private screening. The agency even makes cards that travelers can hand to an officer, an approach that can, at least in theory, spare them the uncomfortable experience of declaring a medical condition aloud. But even that process requires that the traveler be publicly taken aside, which may amplify shame or other unpleasant feelings associated with a medical condition. And merely making the request still entails conveying potentially sensitive information to strangers about the private particulars of one’s health, something I, for one, am often loathe to do, even when the circumstances are stress-free.

For all that, these protocols do evince a real desire to ease the burden on travelers. The agency even advertises a passenger support helpline through which concerned travelers can prearrange to have a specialist meet them at a checkpoint, leading them through the process in a way that better accommodates individual needs. While this service is likely critical for many—especially those with mobility impairments—it still requires substantial effort on the traveler’s own part, effort that can only distract from the constant work of medical self-care. And as with other forms of enhanced screening, this process also still leaves the TSA dedicating considerable time and energy to the investigation of innocuous conditions.

TSA spokesman Mike England proposes that the situation is largely unavoidable, at least for now. “The technology we have can tell that something is there, but it can’t tell the difference between, say, a hip replacement or something dangerous,” he says. “We have no choice but to conduct further screening.”

As England and Raman told me, the TSA is working with “industry partners” to allay that situation. To that end, Raman said, the agency hopes to develop a process that would allow “a broader range of individuals to be screened without having to go through secondary screening.” What such a process might entail, and how it might work, remains unclear. It also seems entirely possible that a system capable of clearly distinguishing between medical devices and more threatening objects would raise new privacy concerns.

EPIC suggests that such innovations might not even be warranted. In its brief to the appeals court, the organization writes that a combination of metal detectors and already-available explosive trace detection devices could effectively assess threats without singling out travelers with medical conditions or disabilities. “All things being equal, TSA should have chosen the less privacy-invasive route. The bomb trace equipment is designed to detect the threat for which we have screening in the first place,” Scott told me.

Ultimately, England may be right about the inevitability of additional screenings targeting individuals with medical devices—an inevitability that speaks to the paradox that devices like mine present. When I first received my diagnosis, I did what I could with the options that were available, carrying around fragile insulin vials and sheaths of needles with me everywhere I went. Later, I upgraded to self-contained pens and eventually to the cybernetic attachments I now wear.

While each of those upgrades has made it a little easier to manage my disease, they also bring complications of their own, forcing me to reshape my days around their particulars. New technologies—medical and otherwise—never enhance our lives without transforming them. On occasion, I’ve had to rush home from the office because my pump failed and I didn’t have a replacement in my bag—something that never happened with the old needle method. In other circumstances, I’ve been woken in the middle of the night because my phone was shrieking about a mis-calibrated blood sugar reading. These devices keep me healthy, but they also do as much to manage me as I do to manage them.

It’s hard to grasp the burden of such experiences until you’ve lived with them. And though I spend a great deal of my time trying to forget it, passing through the already liminal space of a security checkpoint only serves to drive the experience home. Much as I appreciate the TSA’s efforts, I worry that its attempt to develop new screening methodologies will bring new irritations, redirecting our time with the agency in as yet unthought ways. For now, at least, I will have to continue resigning myself to the frustrations of enhanced screening every time I fly, as will others who live with chronic conditions.

Read the rest of our series about the airport as the hub of American anxiety.

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How to get rid of hard water on hair

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

Georgia asks…I have hard water where I live. Should I be using a chelating shampoo to remove mineral build-up? If so, should I use it every time I shampoo, every other time, etc. I color my hair and it is normal to dry. The Beauty Brains respond Back when people used soap-based cleansers for their […]

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WWE No Mercy 2017: UK start time, live stream, TV channel, and match card for Raw PPV

by jorr @ The Sun

NOT one, but two MASSIVE matches headline WWE No Mercy tonight. Brock Lesnar defends his Universal Title against the Monster Among Men Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns takes on John Cena. When does the No Mercy begin, and how can I watch it? No Mercy show starts tonight – or the early hours of Monday […]

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Trump Has a Nullification Crisis

Trump Has a Nullification Crisis

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

In the 19th century, nullification was the idea that states could void the actions of the federal government if they deemed them unconstitutional. Its proponents, chief among them John C. Calhoun, argued that if something the feds were doing—i.e. tariffs—was contrary to the economic interests of the entity he cared most about—South Carolina—then the state could simply do its own thing. Nullification, like Calhoun’s ideas about slavery, was a profoundly bad one, and it led to a constitutional crisis.

Today, I’d propose a different meaning for nullification—and it is a reason for both hope and concern for anyone dismayed by the presidency of Donald Trump. There is always a tendency for powerful actors—in state and local government, yes, but also in the private sector generally—to decide not to do business with the president, and to act as if the executive branch’s policies don’t exist. In the Trump era that tendency has already become notably pronounced, and it comes in three principal forms.

One form of nullification is denial of patronage: refusing to do business with the entities the president or his family owns. One theory has suggested that the presidency would be a boon to Trump’s businesses, including his golf courses, his private club Mar-a-Lago, and the hotels that carry his name. But with each month, Trump’s conduct in office has pushed people and groups concerned with their brands to cease working with Trump properties. The Trump-branded public golf course in the Bronx, New York, saw its business decline in 2016. While Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel attracts lobbyists and corporate events, most of the rooms are empty. (Its occupancy rate is a measly 42 percent.) Mar-a-Lago, a stalwart of the social and charity scene in Palm Beach, Florida, has been hit by a wave of event nullification. Since Trump’s disastrous series of comments about the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, one by one charities and nonprofits have canceled their plans to host luncheons, dinners, galas, and dances at the facility. The club, write Drew Harwell and David Farenthold in the Washington Post, has “lost nine of the 16 galas or dinner events that it had been scheduled to host during next winter’s social ‘season’ in Palm Beach. At least three other groups have also canceled charity luncheons there this week.”

A second form of nullification is denial of association: refusing to provide counsel or show up to photo opportunities, or to be in the same room as the president. In the early days of the Trump administration and during the transition, CEOs, athletes, and other boldface names dutifully showed up—some with glee, some with pained expressions on their faces—to be part of the photo ops and volunteer to serve on various councils.

But the norm is no longer the norm. CEOs, athletes, and celebrities are denying Trump the privilege of their association. After Ken Frazier of Merck and Co. quit the Trump’s council on manufacturing, an exodus of CEOs commenced. Several of the advisory firms set up to grant corporate legitimacy and support for the Trump presidency quickly disbanded: the Manufacturing Council, the Strategic and Policy Forum, the Infrastructure Council.

The people on these committees had significant business with the government, and hence much to gain and lose from changes in government policy. But they decided that having their personal or corporate brands associated with Trump would be damaging, cause an intolerable level of cognitive dissonance at a personal level, or both. As Merck lead director Leslie Brun told the Wall Street Journal about boardroom discussion surrounding Trump: “Informal conversations among board members often revolved around ‘what do you tell your kids?’ ”

The Kennedy Center, about to toast six artists, breathed a sigh of relief when Trump said he wouldn’t show up to its annual Honors and canceled the White House reception associated with the event—this as some of the recipients, including actress and dancer Carmen de Lavallade, said they would not show up at the White House reception. Basketball star Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors said he would not go to the White House to celebrate his team’s victory in the NBA Finals, citing a lack of respect for its occupant. “I don’t agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that,” Durant said.

A third form of nullification is to act as if the proclamations, executive orders, and policy pronouncements are irrelevant to you, don’t exist, or are to be ignored—and to create alternate markets and realities. This dynamic can be seen most vividly in the energy and environmental arenas. Trump has promised to revive the coal industry, pulled out of the Paris climate accord, and installed a bunch of climate-change denialists and skeptics in relevant government agencies.

But states, cities, and companies make their own climate-change policy through laws, policies, standards, or procurement decisions. And many of them are actively nullifying Trump’s statements and actions.

Here are a few things that have happened so far this year:

California extended its cap-and-trade program through 2030. Hawaii became the first state to commit to having 100 percent renewable energy on its electricity supply grid. Orlando, Florida, adopted a target of getting all its electricity from renewable sources by 2050, joining the growing roster of more than three dozen cities that have done so. JPMorgan Chase said that by 2020, it would power all its operations through emissions-free energy. The bank has joined more than 100 large multinational corporations that have made the same commitment. Through May, utilities announced the closure of eight coal-burning plants as the industry continues its transition to a lower-carbon future.

This is not to say Trump doesn’t have real power or that his administration isn’t affecting change or delivering results to favored constituencies. Whether it is the Environmental Protection Agency rolling back water regulations, general nonfeasance at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the Justice Department’s enforcement of immigration policies, the Trump administration is changing realities on the ground. The rise of nullification does not decrease the danger of an unfettered Trump administration.

What’s more, nullification isn’t a particularly good precedent. I would argue that it is much better for the country and our economy when all sorts of people feel comfortable visiting the White House and making common cause with the White House—and when states, cities, the federal government, and companies are on the same page in the pursuit of goals. There are good historical, constitutional, and practical reasons for the federal government to have primacy over states in many areas. And while it’s nice that some companies are relatively progressive on some issues, and that some CEOs can muster the moral courage to take stands, we shouldn’t be relying on them excessively. CEOs of defense contractors have a much harder time acting as if Trump doesn’t exist than, say, CEOs of consumer products or technology companies. Bench players and role players have far less leeway than all-stars to express their political views.

Still, nullification offers something more satisfying than catharsis or schadenfreude. The fact that people, institutions, and organizations are willing and able to deny their dollars and association with Trump and be celebrated for it is a sign that America’s democratic and market system, which has been under attack, is holding up strong.

One of the features about authoritarian regimes is that there is a price to be paid for defying the expressed wishes and whims of the government and its leader: You can lose your business, or get jailed, or get frozen out from contracts, or lose your license. That’s not happening here.

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Right Before Harvey, Trump Nixed a Rule Designed to Protect Cities From Flood Risks

Right Before Harvey, Trump Nixed a Rule Designed to Protect Cities From Flood Risks

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Ten days before Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to speed up the pipeline for federal infrastructure projects.

One component of that Aug. 15 order? Eliminating an Obama-era rule called the federal flood risk management standard that asked agencies to account for climate change projections when they approved projects.

That drew condemnation from an odd coalition of scientists, civil engineers, and fiscal conservatives concerned about reversion to the old ways: pouring money into projects that would soon be washed away. “This Executive Order is not fiscally conservative,” said Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo in a press release. “It’s irresponsible, and it will lead to taxpayer dollars being wasted on projects that may not be built to endure the flooding we are already seeing and know is only going to get worse.” FEMA floodplain managers were “aghast,” E&E News reported.

On the other side was the National Association of Home Builders. The NAHB argued the law’s requirement for raising homes after disasters “could make many projects infeasible, due to increased construction costs and the inability to offset these costs through higher rents.” Developers do tend to like unfettered waterfront construction.

The rule, borne out of the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort, gave agencies three options to address flood risk in construction, Kriston Capps explains at City Lab: “using methods informed by climate science, building two feet above the 100-year flood elevation, or building to the 500-year flood elevation.”

“If we make a modest investment in building higher in advance of floods, we can reduce the amount of future federal disaster bailouts,” Alice Hill, a former special assistant to Obama who helped draft it, wrote last week. “The Standard not only saves money, it saves lives. Elevated structures provide more protection to the people inside them as floodwaters rise.”

Rep. Ralph Abraham, a Louisiana Republican who tried to undo Obama’s regulation in Congress, was thrilled with the president’s order. He told the New York Times that the state’s 2016 catastrophic flooding was an isolated event—and that regulations were the greater risk to the state’s well-being. Meanwhile, on Monday, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked residents to shelter in place on Tuesday as the remnants of Harvey bear down on the city.

But Abraham did have a point when he observed that the rule would make construction in his state more expensive. “We had more than our share of tragedy down here with the water, but we already have problems meeting requirements,” he told the paper. “The new plan would make it so costly for my Louisiana residents.”

The truth is that lawmakers from Brownsville to Boston represent constituents whose homes can only be insured thanks to federal flood insurance policies that no private company will provide. If rebuilding infrastructure with proper flood-ready design is more expensive, that’s because it accurately accounts for the uncomfortable level of risk in many low-lying coastal towns.

Including many of the places that Hurricane Harvey blew through this weekend—and will continue to devastate in the coming days.

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Trump’s Best Plan to Save the Rust Belt Is Telling Upstate New Yorkers to Move

Trump’s Best Plan to Save the Rust Belt Is Telling Upstate New Yorkers to Move

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Donald Trump won the presidency in part on the promise of reviving the Rust Belt, ending job loss and population stagnation, and bringing back the halcyon days of meaningful factory work.

But if that doesn’t work, the president conceded in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, you should probably just move:

I’m going to start explaining to people: When you have an area that just isn’t working like upper New York state, where people are getting very badly hurt, and then you’ll have another area 500 miles away where you can’t get people, I’m going to explain, you can leave.

With that, Trump appeared to acknowledge—to the chagrin of whoever penned his inevitably ignored talking points—what most economists believe about migration and job growth, but that his campaign was premised on denying: It’s easier to move people to jobs than to move jobs to people. For politicians in Upstate New York, including some Republicans who have supported the president, it was a disheartening comment to read. Even the president who promised to resurrect American manufacturing had given up on them, not to mention his own quest to implement or advance any kind of national policy to back his “Made in America” campaign.

The occasion was an otherwise celebratory announcement that Foxconn, the Taiwan-based manufacturer that builds iPhones and other electronics, would be (maybe) building a massive plant in Southeastern Wisconsin, between Milwaukee and Chicago. Wisconsin beat out New York with an offer of subsidies that ranks among the largest in U.S. history—$3 billion for 13,000 jobs on the high end ($231,000 per job) or something closer to $2 billion for 3,000 jobs on the low end ($666,000 per job).

Wisconsin claims it’s the largest “corporate attraction project” in U.S. history, measured by jobs. Gov. Scott Walker said the development would be called “Wisconn Valley”—the Silicon Valley of Wisconsin. (And an extra “n” for the “conn” in Foxconn.)

Trump may have felt free to lob an insult at the one depressed Rust Belt area that had responded enthusiastically to his campaign trail talk but doesn’t sit in a politically competitive state like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, or Wisconsin. In 2016, he visited Syracuse and other hard-hit upstate cities, promising the return of factory work. He called the area a “ghost town,” but claimed he could win the state on the backs of its voters, for whom, he told CNN, "I'm like the most popular person that has ever lived, virtually.”

Slightly less popular now. Anthony Picente, a Republican and Oneida County executive who had tried to lure Foxconn to an industrial park near Utica, said he was “disappointed in Trump.”

Rep. Claudia Tenney, a Republican congresswoman and early Trump supporter who stood by the president during his recent “Made in America” showcase at the White House, said she hoped the president’s comments had been taken out of context.

"It’s OK,” the president told Tenney’s constituents, in urging them to decamp for the Milwaukee suburbs. "Don’t worry about your house.”

It’s true that Upstate New York has been battered by deindustrialization, and has tried to swim against the tide. Since 2000, New York State leads the nation in the value of “megadeal” corporate subsidies, defined by Good Jobs First, a tax break watchdog, as projects involving more than $50 million in subsidies. New York made 24 such deals, worth $11.8 billion. Only a quarter of those were in the New York City area, which accounts for more than two thirds the state’s GDP and nearly two thirds of its population. The rest were upstate, including the six biggest deals.

It hasn’t been enough to spur a general recovery, as Jim Heaney and Charlotte Keith showed in an Investigative Post investigation in March. During Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tenure, upstate job growth is at 2.7 percent, compared to 16 percent in New York City, 7.4 percent in its suburbs, and 11 percent nationally, despite the governor’s efforts to redirect downstate productivity north.

So in a funny way, Wisconsin is actually taking a page from New York here in giving Foxconn a pass on future state income tax, capital investment tax, and sales tax exemptions on construction materials. The largest state subsidy ever awarded in Wisconsin had been about $65 million, to Mercury Marine in 2009, not all of which has been claimed.

At any rate, Trump is wrong that New Yorkers should move to Wisconsin to get a job, which isn’t exactly thriving either. (They’d be better off moving to New York City.) But the real lesson in the Foxconn deal is that Trump has conceded that his “Made in America” policy, such as it exists, consists of the usual political horse-trading and subsidies that prop up isolated, negotiated investments in American manufacturing.

If the president had made a concerted policy push to revive Rust Belt factories, or was planning on it, Upstate New York and Wisconsin might both stand to benefit. Instead, they’re where U.S. states have been for decades: In competition to dismantle tax and regulatory systems to appease flighty corporate bosses.

Did the Rich Really Pay Much Higher Taxes in the 1950s? The Answer Is a Little Complicated.

Did the Rich Really Pay Much Higher Taxes in the 1950s? The Answer Is a Little Complicated.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

American progressives like to remember the mid–20th century as a time when the only thing higher than a Cadillac’s tail fin was the top marginal tax rate (which, during the Eisenhower years peaked above 90 percent for the very rich). Uncle Sam took 90 cents on the dollar off the highest incomes, and—as any good Bernie Sanders devotee will remind you—the economy thrived.

Conservatives, however, often try to push back on this version of history, pointing out that those staggeringly high tax rates existed mostly on paper; relatively few Americans actually paid them. Recently, the Tax Foundation's Scott Greenberg went so far as to argue that “taxes on the rich were not that much higher” in the 1950s than today. Between 1950 and 1959, he notes, the highest earning 1 percent of Americans paid an effective tax rate of 42 percent. By 2014, it was only down to 36.4 percent—a substantial but by no means astronomical decline.

Greenberg is not pulling his numbers out of thin air. Rather, he’s drawing them directly from a recent paper by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman in which the three economists—all well-loved by progressives—estimate the average tax rates Americans at different income levels have actually paid over time. Their historical measure includes federal, state, and local levies—including corporate, property, income, estate, sales, and payroll taxes. And lest you think Greenberg is misrepresenting anything, here’s Piketty & co.’s own graph (rates on rich folks are shown in green).

There are a few obvious reasons why the taxes the rich actually paid in the 1950s were so much lower than the confiscatory top rates that sat on the books. For one, the max tax rates on investment income were far lower than on wages and salaries, which gave a lot of wealthy individuals some relief. Tax avoidance may have also been a big problem. Moreover, there simply weren’t that many extraordinarily rich households. Those fabled 90 percent tax rates only bit at incomes over $200,000, the equivalent of more than $2 million in today’s dollars. As Greenberg notes, the tax may have only applied to 10,000 families.

To Greenberg, the takeaway from this is simple: Progressives should stop fixating on the tax rates from 60 years ago. “All in all, the idea that high-income Americans in the 1950s paid much more of their income in taxes should be abandoned. The top 1 percent of Americans today do not face an unusually low tax burden, by historical standards.”

I’m not convinced. Effective tax rates on 1 percenters may not have fallen by half, as some on the left might be tempted to imagine. But they are down by about 6 percentage points1 at a time when the wealthy earn a vastly larger share of the national income. That drop represents a lot of money. Moreover, as Greenberg admits, tax rates on top 0.1 percent have fallen by about one-fifth since their 1950s heights. That rather severely undercuts the idea that taxes on the wealthy haven't fallen “much.”

Moreover, there may be reasons to support higher taxes beyond their ability to raise revenue. One popular theory among left-leaning intellectuals right now—advanced by Piketty, Saez, and their protegée Stefanie Stantcheva—is that high tax rates actually ease income inequality by discouraging CEOs and professionals from demanding exorbitantly high pay for their services.* In other words, thanks to high tax rates, people didn’t bother trying to get as rich. After all, there’s no point in bargaining for a giant bonus if the government is going to clip off most of it. I wouldn’t say the theory has been accepted as a consensus fact at this point, but it’s certainly alive and being taken seriously.

So the real tax rates rich Americans paid in the 1950s may not have been so stratospherically high as some progressives assume. But they also may have helped create a more egalitarian society. That seems worth considering.

1 Or more, depending on how you pick your frame of comparison. If you average the rates 1 percenters paid between 2010 and 2014, their effective average rate comes out to about 33.6 percent.

*Correction, Aug. 8, 2017: This post originally misspelled Stefanie Stantcheva’s first name.

It’s party time for the Marx brothers Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell as Labour leader says he plans to be PM for TEN years at the Labour conference

by Sun Internet 2 @ The Sun

DEPRESSINGLY, Jeremy Corbyn says he plans to rule as Prime Minister for ten years once he has led Labour to power. Ten years! That would make him 83 if the Tories survived until 2022 — about average for Jezza’s Soviet-style heroes who leave office only when they pop their clogs. But this bleak scenario is […]

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A Slow Friendship in the Express Checkout

A Slow Friendship in the Express Checkout

by Rachel Withers @ Slate Articles

For the first four years of my adult life, I worked every weekend as a cashier in my local supermarket. By local, I mean nearby—this was no small-town convenience store. It was one of the busiest outlets of a major supermarket chain in the largest mall in the country, with more than a dozen registers siphoning shoppers out of the store. Despite the store’s size, I, like most cashiers, had my “regulars.” There was the little girl I knew by name who did the weekly family shop with her dad and insisted on seeking out my register, regardless of how long the line might be. There was the man in the tie-dye shirt with tight gray curls, whose name I did not know but whom I mentally referred to as “Old Tom” for his resemblance to a friend of mine (give or take 30 years).

Then there was Bill. Bill (whose name, along with other names, I’ve changed) was a white-haired gentleman, probably in his 80s, whom I never saw without his black beret. He might make a couple of purchases over the course of the weekend, and each one was a small social engagement. A visit. He always came through my register, making courteous conversation. If I had taken off the previous Sunday, he’d ask what I’d been up to. Over the years, Bill brought me chocolates and Christmas cards, and we even once went out for lunch on my break. After I ensured my co-workers knew where I was going, I accompanied Bill to a large café on the other side of the mall, and while I ate a panini (which he insisted on paying for), he told me stories and showed me his sketchbooks.

Bill and I had no reason to ever meet and get to know one another other than through customer service. We never had one another’s telephone number or email address. But the friendly face-to-face interaction we shared week-in week-out created something—perhaps not a friendship but a meaningful relationship nonetheless, an edge case among the kinds of serendipitous encounters customer service can foster. His visits made my day go by a bit more easily. And my conversation, I think, helped Bill avoid feeling lonely.

Over the four years I worked there, the supermarket became more and more focused on providing an automated shopping experience­. The ratio of self-checkout to cashiers continued to shift in favor of the independent style, with space afforded to machines slowly eating into the line of registers. Often I’d find myself assigned to the self-checkout, where my only customer interactions consisted of telling customers they’d miscoded mushrooms as potatoes.

A 2016 RBR report forecasts that the global self-checkout market will grow by 44 percent by 2021. Whether buying chicken nuggets or condoms, businesses increasingly allow customers to skip the interaction and serve themselves. Earlier this year, Amazon opened a completely cashier-free store near its company headquarters in Seattle. The futuristic Amazon Go store tracks customers by cameras and sensors throughout the store and automatically charges them for their items as they exit. With Amazon now taking over Whole Foods, moving closer to its goal of becoming central to both online and offline retail, it’s likely the tech company will be bringing its interaction-free style of shopping into even more Americans lives. Meanwhile, 23 percent of American households completed at least a portion of their grocery shopping online last year, with that number expected to rise to 70 percent within a decade. We want things quickly and we want to deal with as few people as possible.

Loneliness, meanwhile, is on the rise, with twice as many adults describing themselves as lonely than did in the 1980s. Though we are more connected than ever before, it is quite possible to go a whole day without uttering a single word. Objective isolation—a lack of day-to-day human contact—has a strong effect on human mortality, according to John T. Cacioppo of the University of Chicago, who studies the negative health effects of loneliness. “Objective contacts and weak ties are good for health,” says Cacioppo. “Not so much for mental health but for physical health.” Objective isolation increases the odds of mortality by 26 percent, says Cacioppo. While no replacement for family and friends, regular interaction makes you more likely to engage in healthy behavior, like leaving the house to visit the pharmacist you like, and increases the social ties—like that pharmacist checking in on you—that improve well-being.

As casually social activities like grocery shopping become “smarter,” more automated and less personal, as the competitive prices of online shopping drive old-fashioned shops out of business, what will happen to these serendipitous encounters? And what will happen to those who rely on them? These nameless yet familiar faces—faces that light up with recognition—can create a vital sense of belonging, a sense of identity within a neighborhood or a city or even a shopping complex. These little encounters add up to a community.

I don’t know what happened to Bill after I left my part-time job: Our weak ties dissolved as soon as I handed in my badge. But I believe he made new ones. (In fact, I don’t doubt Bill had favorites in every shop he visited regularly.) Here in New York, where I moved one year ago not knowing a soul, the person I see most regularly is a smiling stranger, who greets me like a friend from behind the counter of a Brooklyn bodega. I’ll miss him when he’s gone.

Strictly Come Dancing returns with highest first night ratings as 10.2million viewers tune in — almost TWICE as many as X Factor

by cgreenwood @ The Sun

STRICTLY returned on Saturday with its highest first night ratings as 10.2million tuned in — almost twice as many viewers as rival The X Factor. The 140-minute marathon saw 15 celebs take to the floor and the debut of Shirley Ballas as head judge. But as Strictly dragged in the bulk of the Saturday night […]

Graham-Cassidy Was Supposed to Do One Nice Thing for Poor People. But Someone Took It Out of the Bill.

Graham-Cassidy Was Supposed to Do One Nice Thing for Poor People. But Someone Took It Out of the Bill.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

When Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy revealed their Obamacare repeal bill last week, there appeared to be one (and pretty much only one) somewhat comforting thing about it. Their plan cut government health care spending drastically, yes. But its design seemingly encouraged states to spend what pittance they received from the feds on insurance for some of their lowest-income residents. The bill was bad for the poor, to be sure. But it didn’t ignore them entirely.

At least, that was the impression one got from reading the official summary documents that accompanied the legislation when it debuted. But the bill’s actual text tells a very different story.

The issue has to do with Graham-Cassidy’s elaborate formula for awarding health care funding to states. The bill would take the pot of money Washington currently spends on Obamacare’s insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion, then redistribute it as block grants that states can use to set up their own insurance schemes. This is supposed to give Alabama and Texas the “freedom” and “flexibility” to come up with appealing, innovative health care solutions for their residents—something Republicans in Washington have themselves proven incapable of doing.

Eventually, each state’s block grant is supposed to be based on their share of America’s low-income population (which, according to Graham-Cassidy, means households that earn between 50 and 138 percent of the poverty line). Then in 2024, according to Graham and Cassidy’s summary, the government will start tilting its funding toward the states that do a better job enrolling those poor—and borderline-poor—families in coverage. Here’s how they described the plan, just so you know I’m not making anything up:

Starting in 2024, a state’s base amount changes from being based solely on percent of eligible individuals and becomes partially based on percent of eligible individuals enrolled in credible coverage in the previous year. This is defined as “State’s enrolled population” (SEP) and is compared to the total number of eligible individuals enrolled in credible coverage.

Rewarding states for making sure poor people have health insurance is a decent—though certainly not foolproof—way to make them do it. Health care analysts took note. In a report released on Wednesday, Chris Sloan, a senior manager at the health care consultancy Avalere, pointed out that the formula might even drive states to spend their money on poor residents rather than the working class insurance shoppers who typically buy coverage on Obamacare’s exchanges today.

“The bill creates a financial incentive for states to direct coverage to very low-income residents near or below the poverty line, potentially at the expense of lower-middle-income individuals who currently receive exchange subsidies,” Sloan noted. Such a feature could prove to be an important nudge for states with traditionally thin safety nets like Texas and Mississippi, encouraging them to cover a population they’ve typically ignored.

Again, this was by far the most generous gesture toward the poor in a proposal that, otherwise, amounts to a historic blow against the health safety net. There’s just one problem: The provision doesn’t actually seem to be in the bill. The legislative text, which is a bit convoluted, says it will dole out block grants to states based on their share of the country’s low-income population, but does not factor in coverage rates. States will be rewarded for having lots of poor people. They won’t be rewarded for getting them insured. That bit just isn’t there.

That was the conclusion I came to after talking to Matt Broaddus, a research analyst, at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Avalere’s Sloan, who generously spent a good chunk of time scouring the bill’s relevant text with me this afternoon. It’s not clear the bill Graham and Cassidy actually posted ever included bonuses for states that signed up more of their poor; according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, that section of the text doesn’t seem to have changed since it was first published on Sept. 13. I’ve emailed Cassidy’s office requesting comment, but haven’t heard back.

Judging from the summary documents they put out, it appears that Graham and Cassidy at least briefly considered gearing their legislation toward helping the poor. Then, for whatever reason, they changed their minds.

Should beauty companies keep secrets from you? Episode 80

Should beauty companies keep secrets from you? Episode 80

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

Do you think it’s okay for cosmetic companies to keep their ingredients a secret from you if it means you get better products? We discuss this question and more in today’s quick Q&A show. Improbable Products Two of these “ancient secrets” have been found to really work; one of them is just made up. Can […]

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Soap Commercial

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End Online || 106.5 The End

Gavin is upset over a soap commercial that was made by Dove. They put part of a segment from a poem called "If" by Kipling and incorrectly used the last line, which Gavin isn't happy about. Listen to The Wake Up Call share their thoughts on this:

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#WorldCup: women lace up their boots

by aufeminin @ Womenology

The World Cup is without a doubt one of the most popular topics of conversation brought to us this early summer. But what attitude will women bear in regards to this traditionally masculine sport? The aufeminin.com website and its Womenology …

Continuer la lecture

The post #WorldCup: women lace up their boots appeared first on Womenology.

Failing Charter Schools Have a Reincarnation Plan

Failing Charter Schools Have a Reincarnation Plan

by Annie Waldman @ Slate Articles

This story was co-published with ProPublica.

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

This past June, Florida’s top education agency delivered a failing grade to the Orange Park Performing Arts Academy in suburban Jacksonville for the second year in a row. It designated the charter school for kindergarten through fifth grade as the worst public school in Clay County and one of the lowest performing in the state.

Two-thirds of the academy’s students failed the state exams last year, and only one-third of them were making any academic progress at all. The school had four principals in three years, and teacher turnover was high, too.

“My fourth-grader was learning stuff that my second-grader was learning—it shouldn’t be that way,” said Tanya Bullard, who moved her three daughters from the arts academy this past summer to a traditional public school. “The school has completely failed me and my children.”

The district terminated the academy’s charter contract. Surprisingly, Orange Park didn’t shut down—and even found a way to stay on the public dime. It reopened last month as a private school charging $5,000 a year, below the $5,886 maximum that low-income students receive to attend the school of their choice under a state voucher program. Academy officials expect all of its students to pay tuition with the publicly backed coupons.

The Rev. Alesia Ford-Burse, an African Methodist Episcopal pastor who founded the academy, told ProPublica that the school deserves a second chance because families love its dance and art lessons, which they otherwise couldn’t afford. “Kids are saying, ‘F or not, we’re staying,’ ” she said.

* * *

While it’s widely known that private schools convert to charter status to take advantage of public dollars, more schools are now heading in the opposite direction. As voucher programs across the country proliferate, shuttered charter schools like the Orange Park Performance Arts Academy have begun to privatize in order to stay open with state assistance.

A ProPublica nationwide review found that at least 16 failing or struggling charter schools in five states—Florida, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Georgia—have gone private with the help of publicly funded voucher programs, including 13 since 2010. Four of them specialize in the arts, including Orange Park, and five serve students with special needs.

“The voucher just is a pass through in order to provide additional funding for private schools to thrive and to continue to work,” said Addison Davis, superintendent of schools in Clay County. Changing a school’s status “isn’t going to stop the process where we continue to see kids who are declining academically and not being able to demonstrate mastery and proficiency.”

Two key factors underlie these conversions. The number of voucher and voucher-like programs across the country has more than tripled over the past decade from 16 to 53. And charter schools, which became popular as a way to spur educational innovation with reduced regulation, have increasingly faced more stringent oversight. Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform and a longtime supporter of charter schools, lamented in a recent op-ed that increased government regulation is turning them into “bureaucratic, risk-averse organizations fixated on process over experimentation.”

“Why not just be a private school if the kids qualify for the scholarships?” said Christopher Norwood, a consultant for the Orange Park school, in an interview. “With 90 percent fewer regulations, schools can be independent and free, and just deal with the students.”

As private schools, the ex-charters are less accountable both to the government and the public. It can be nearly impossible to find out how well some of them are performing. About half of the voucher and voucher-like programs in the country require academic assessments of their students, but few states publish the complete test results or use that data to hold schools accountable.

While most states have provisions for closing low-quality charter schools, few, if any, have the power to shut down low-performing voucher schools.

“Public money is being handed out without oversight,” said Diane Ravitch, a New York University education historian and public schools advocate who served as assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush. “The fundamental voucher idea is that parents are choosing the schools and they know better than the state. If they want to send their kids to a snake-charming school, then that’s their choice.”

* * *

The type of voucher program that rescues failed charter schools like Orange Park in Florida may soon be replicated nationwide. Visiting a religious school in Miami last April, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos praised the state’s approach as a possible model for a federal initiative.

Typically, voucher programs are directly funded with taxpayer dollars. Florida’s largest program pursues a different strategy. Its “tax-credit scholarships” are backed by donations from corporations. They contribute to nonprofit organizations which, in turn, distribute the money to the private schools. In exchange, the donors receive generous dollar-for-dollar tax credits from the state. This subsidy indirectly shifts hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the state’s coffers to private schools. More than 100,000 students whose families meet the income eligibility requirements have received the tax-credit coupons this year.

Of the nearly 2,900 private schools in Florida, over 1,730 participated in the tax-credit voucher program during 2016–2017, according to the most recent state Department of Education data. On average, each school received about $300,000 last year.

While more than two-thirds of these schools are religious, the roundabout funding approach protects the vouchers against legal challenges that they violate the separation of church and state. Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit by the Florida Education Association, a teachers union, challenging the constitutionality of the voucher program.

In an education budget proposal from May, DeVos detailed her voucher plans, pitching a $250 million plan to study and expand individual state initiatives. She has since suggested that the administration may also create a federal tax-credit voucher scheme through an impending tax overhaul.

School choice advocates like DeVos have long contended that vouchers improve educational opportunities for low-income families. They reason that competition raises school quality and that parents, given more options, will select the best school for their children.

A growing body of research, though, casts doubt on this argument. It shows voucher-backed students may not be performing better than their public school counterparts—and may do worse.

A recent U.S. Department of Education study compared students who attended private schools with vouchers in Washington, D.C., from 2012 through 2014 with those who qualified for the program but were turned down due to a lack of available slots. The private schoolers performed significantly worse than their public school peers in math and no better in reading.

According to a February 2017 analysis by Martin Carnoy, a Stanford University education professor, most studies of voucher programs over the past quarter-century found little evidence that students who receive the coupons perform better than their public school peers.

The lack of evidence on the benefits of vouchers, Carnoy wrote, “suggests that an ideological preference for education markets over equity and public accountability is what is driving the push to expand voucher programs.”

* * *

Across the Florida panhandle from Orange Park, another troubled charter school for the arts has reinvented itself as a voucher-funded private school.

Founded in 2010, the A.A. Dixon Charter School of Excellence had the worst academic record in Escambia County, and the school board raised questions about its financial accounting.

“Every month they came before the board and there was a problem,” said Jeff Bergosh, a school board member at the time, adding that he supports school choice. “They tried to make it work, but they didn’t. There were serious issues that jeopardized student safety, like sanitation issues and not having supervision [for the students].”

After Dixon received two failing grades from the state—which triggers termination of a school’s charter under Florida rules—the Rev. Lutimothy May, a Baptist pastor who chaired its board, appealed to state education authorities. They allowed the school to operate for at least one more year, but he began to seek other options.

Around the same time, a local beverage distributor, David Bear of the Lewis Bear Company, told May that he was considering contributing to the state tax-credit program. If the Dixon school privatized, Bear told May, donations could help save it. In 2013, May turned the charter, which had recently been renamed the Dixon School of the Arts, into a private Christian arts academy located inside his church. Nearly all current students at Dixon receive the tax-credit vouchers, bringing the school more than $500,000 a year, according to the most recent data from the state’s department of education.

“Our goal is still the same,” but the conversion has “untied some of the strings on education,” May said.

* * *

Some of the untied “strings” to which May referred were state educational requirements. By converting from a charter to private status, Dixon and other schools largely shield themselves from accountability.

For instance, while Florida requires all private schools to test students who receive vouchers, the schools face no consequences for weak academic performance. The University of Florida publishes an annual report analyzing the test scores of students that receive vouchers, but data from only a small fraction of the schools is made public. The report excludes many schools that don’t have test results for enough students in consecutive years.

The latest report released the academic performance of only 198 schools in 2014–15, out of the more than 1,500 schools that that enrolled voucher-funded students that year. Most Florida families that receive vouchers do not have access to test data on their schools. The Dixon data was not published. Dixon’s principal, Donna Curry, maintained that the school has improved since its conversion from charter status but declined to provide exam results to ProPublica, saying they were “for internal use.”

Curry added that state test results are not necessarily reflective of student success. “I will not accept the fact that our children are not learning because they are not normalized on the state test,” she said. Her staff “knows more than what the test evaluates.”

The state also has little control over how private voucher-funded schools foster learning. There are no requirements on curriculum or teacher certification other than the criminal background checks that are required for personnel at all private schools.

Because Dixon receives more than $250,000 in voucher money, it does have to file a financial accountability report. Only about 40 percent of all voucher-funded schools met this threshold to undergo such an audit in 2016. The reports, including Dixon’s, aren’t publicly posted.

Even an official at Step Up For Students, the largest nonprofit distributor of voucher money to Florida’s private schools, acknowledges the need for closer supervision of educational quality. “As the program matures, and more students are enrolled, and as inevitably we see some schools continue to have what most people would consider to be poor performance year-in and year-out, we will be having more and more discussions about whether there should be some kind of regulatory accountability mechanisms to respond to that,” said Ron Matus, the organization’s director of policy and public affairs.

* * *

Indiana’s largest voucher program, unlike Florida’s, is directly backed by taxpayer dollars and has stricter accountability requirements. A private school that accepts vouchers can be sanctioned if its performance dips low enough. Last year, 10 schools lost their access to new vouchers, according to Adam Baker, the spokesman for the Indiana Department of Education.

The tighter supervision, though, didn’t deter Padua Academy in Indianapolis. Originally a private Catholic school, Padua had become a “purely secular“ charter in 2010 under an unusual arrangement between the local archdiocese and the mayor’s office. The school initially performed well, but soon sank from a solid A-rating to two consecutive F-ratings.

“These performance issues sounded alarm bells at the mayor’s office,” said Brandon Brown, who led the mayor’s charter office at the time. Leadership issues with the school’s board and at the archdiocese, he added, caused the school to falter. After receiving $702,000 from a federal program that provided seed money for new charter schools, the school’s board relinquished its charter.

In the meantime, Indiana had established a voucher program. So, instead of shutting down, the school rebranded itself as St. Anthony Catholic School, nailing its crucifixes back onto the walls and bringing the Bible back into the curriculum. Last year, more than 80 percent of its students were on vouchers, from which the school garnered at least $1.2 million.

Its academic performance has improved but still lags behind the state average. Only 25 percent of St. Anthony students passed both math and reading assessments this year, versus about half of all publicly funded students on average at both private and public schools, according to the state’s education data from 2017. Last year, the state gave St. Anthony a “C” grade.

Gina Fleming, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, said through a spokesman that “significant staff turnover” at St. Anthony’s “made for a difficult start these past two years.” As a result, the archdiocese “has been studying ways in which we can recruit, retain, and reward high-quality teachers and leaders.” It has also “made shifts in scheduling, resources, diagnostic analyses and personnel to better accommodate the learning needs of our students.”

In Fort Wayne, Indiana, two other charter schools went private. Both Imagine MASTer Academy and Imagine Schools on Broadway were associated with a national for-profit charter chain, Imagine Schools, which has been under scrutiny elsewhere. In 2012, the Missouri Board of Education shut down all six Imagine charter schools in St. Louis for financial and academic woes. In response to such setbacks, Imagine Schools has moved toward “an even deeper commitment to increasing the consistency of our network-wide performance,” said Rhonda Cagle, a spokeswoman for the chain.

The two Fort Wayne schools performed well initially, but by the time their charters were up for renewal, they had some of the worst test results in the area, said Robert Marra, executive director of the charter office at Ball State University, which was responsible for the schools’ oversight. ImagineMASTer received a “D” grade, and Imagine Schools on Broadway an “F,” from the state in 2013.

The data for the two schools “showed clear room for improvement but indicated consistent growth,” Cagle told ProPublica.

In 2013, Imagine merged its two failing charters with a local parochial school, Horizon Christian Academy. Since then, the Christian academy’s enrollment has soared from 23 students to 492. About 430 students paid their tuition with the help of state vouchers last year, totaling about $2.4 million in public funds.

While some of Imagine’s students and staff have stayed on, Cagle said that Imagine has no involvement in the merged academy other than owning the building.

“We could have allowed the buildings to just be empty, but we felt like if there was an interest by another entity for the purposes of education, that would be doing the right thing,” she said. Imagine “does not utilize vouchers for any of our schools,” she added.

Academically, Horizon Christian is far below average. Only 7 percent of its students passed both state exams this year, according to state data. One of its campuses received a “D” grade last year, and its other two campuses failed. The academy did not respond to questions.

“Low-performing operators in Indiana and elsewhere have skirted accountability by converting their charter schools to private schools either right before or right after a charter revocation or nonrenewal,” said Brown, the former Indianapolis official. “I can say unequivocally that any attempt to keep a low-performing school open by evading rigorous accountability is not good for students, families, or the broader school choice movement.”

* * *

As it awaits its first infusion of voucher funds later this month, the Orange Park Performing Arts Academy is strapped. The district has repossessed most of the former charter school’s instructional supplies, including 200 Chromebooks, 34 laptops, 27 iPads, and hundreds of textbooks. The arts—the school’s core mission—have been cleaned out: 10 easels, nine digital pianos, eight heartwood djembes, and four conga drums, all gone. Once lined with silver bleachers, the walls of the cavernous gym are now bare.

Many children have left, too. While the school had about 170 students last year, only 94 enrolled this fall. At least one-quarter are kindergarteners who didn’t attend the charter school. Tanya Bullard, who pulled her three daughters out of Orange Park, predicted it would slide further as a private school because there will be “no one to keep an eye on it and issues will be swept under the rug.”

The school’s new principal, Kelly Kenney, isn’t deterred. She said that she has already made significant strides to separate the school from its failed days as a charter. Most of the teachers and administrators are new hires, although half of the teachers are uncertified. Kenney plans to get the school accredited and strengthen the board of directors. “It can’t be a board of friends,” she said. She has been working with each teacher individually to raise standards and improve curriculum.

“Most people would have been defeated,” Kenney said. “Sometimes when you’re knocked down the hardest, you come back the hardest. And so for parents that have been skeptical, I’m like ‘This will be the best year of education your child will ever have. We’re going to be looking at every detail of their progress, every detail of their learning gap to make sure that we’re closing it.’ ”

Even though it’s not required, Kenney intends to publish her students’ performance data on the school’s website. “It’s important for us to show how we did compared to last year,” she said.

To recruit students this past summer, Kenney went door-to-door in nearby apartment complexes, hosting information sessions in laundry rooms. Believing that they couldn’t afford a private school, many families were reluctant to send their children to Orange Park—until Kenney told them about vouchers. For weeks, she and her staff have worked around the clock to sign up all the students in the voucher program, even helping them organize, fill out, and fax in the necessary paperwork.

Bria Joyce is a loyalist. When her son started kindergarten at the local public school, she says he was “bumping heads” with classmates and she worried that he wasn’t receiving enough attention from teachers. She transferred him to the Orange Park charter school where he took piano lessons and played Grandpa Joe in a production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

When Joyce heard that the school was converting to a private school, she was nervous that she wouldn’t be able to afford the tuition. But the school reached out to her immediately and walked Joyce through the voucher process. Now Joyce’s son is starting fourth grade there.

“They were prepared and made it as easy as they could, considering everything,” she said. “I believe in what they’re trying to get done.”

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Let’s Talk About “Next”

Let’s Talk About “Next”

by Katy Waldman @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

In an interview with New York magazine in March, David Letterman recalled the time a cashier at DSW sent him into existential crisis. “I’m waiting in line,” the former late-night host related, “and the woman checking people out says in a big loud voice, ‘May I help our next shoe lover, please?’ I just started to tremble.” Worse than the invitation’s presumption of intimacy could be the unholy way it combines stultifying cheerfulness with capitalist coercion. You’re going to buy these shoes, and you’re going to love it.

The Soup Nazi screamed “NEXT!” Sometimes you hear “Ma’am?” and you wonder how old you look that day. Sometimes it’s a smile or a nod or lingering eye contact and the next thing you know you and the barista at Saxbys are in bed together. (This is not something that’s ever happened to me, but I imagine it transpires frequently, what with all the smiling, nodding, and eye contact. Either that or you wind up with three more Luna bars than you wanted.) How do cashiers select the words they use to indicate that it’s your turn? And do they have any choice in the matter?

The 21st-century boilerplate for this interaction is, of course, “May I help the following guest?” which many Slatesters recall leaping to the fore at Starbucks, drugstores, and elsewhere sometime in the previous decade. With its classy substitution of “guest” for “customer” and its ostentatiously grammatical swap of “following” for “next,” the phrase threatens to turn your trip to Staples into an unwritten Bertie Wooster novel. A New York Times article from 2015 conceded: “Clearly the word ‘guest’ is supposed to lend an aura of warmth and welcoming.” But guest—which evokes coffee, biscuits, and a place to sleep—is hardly compatible with jamming your credit card into one of Giant’s chip readers while a bored teenager throws your detergent in a bag. “Be Your Guest? How About I Just Pay and Leave?” the headline complained.

Yet it is tough to fault salespeople (and their corporate overlords) for wishing to wrap us in an illusory heating blanket of kindly intentions. Some employees know that gracious service pays off; others genuinely want to be nice; often it’s a mixture of both. When I started asking friends and colleagues who’ve worked the register about communicating “nextness,” what emerged was a portrait of the contradictions that plague service industries in general. “I can help the next person in line,” said a literalist Urban Outfitters clerk. A cashier at a corner store relied on “subtle umming.” A shy Toys R Us counter drone opted for the minimal “Next, please.” A Nike store employee would occasionally produce “an out-of-the-ordinary noise to get someone’s attention, like ‘Heyyyyooooooooo, next up.’ ” Since he was in Florida, he added, the noise had a way of coming out vaguely Spanish, a polite variation on “oye amigo, look alive.”

Shoppers usually regard a cashier as a mechanism by which to obtain a latte or flat-screen TV. And for the cashier, the guy lugging his swag to the counter represents a simple task to be dispensed with, like a turtle you jump over playing Super Mario Bros. (Most of the jumps are easy, but remember, if you let your concentration flag for even a moment, that turtle could wreck you.) Each transaction involves a two-way depersonalization; yet only one of the sides is forced to pretend that they see the other as an important and multifaceted individual.

Consider the screen glimpsed by reporter Nathan McDermott at his local Starbucks.

“Recognize me,” the directive read, apparently in the customer’s voice. “Include me. Appreciate me. Support me. Delight me.” Is there anything less personal than corporately mandated, one-size-fits-all solicitude? (“Gag me,” one is tempted to reply.)

For all that the archetypal customer experience is being put on hold, it’s the cashiers, suppressing their feelings in the name of efficiency and profit, most often asked to place themselves on hold, and to defer their true emotions and responses until the shift ends. At the same time, an authentic connection can move products, and it makes human beings feel that their work is worthwhile. So what’s the answer—do you, drooping employee, pray for those moments in which capitalist imperatives and inner impulses align? Just get really, really good at faking it?

I had always suspected that modern, ruthlessly customer-focused businesses would mandate a certain greeting, or range of greetings, with the same sterile corporate spirit encapsulated by that Starbucks register screen. But no one remembered following a script. I reached out to the corporate brass at Target, Walmart, Starbucks, CVS Pharmacy, and Walgreens for thoughts on nextness signaling. (Free business jargon for the next retreat, guys!)

None of them got back to me. Insert your joke about poor customer service here.

Next!

Reco, 26, works at the counter at an H&M clothing store in D.C. When I approached with a $9.95 pack of underpants that I grabbed out of a bin by the register, he acknowledged me with a radiant smile. He said he switches up his language both to prevent boredom and to deliver a more tailored experience to individual shoppers: “I don’t like to make it too mechanical.” Reco prefers everyday words and gestures—“just smiling and nodding will get you a long way,” he observed. While H&M doesn’t prescribe specific phrases, he thinks the chain’s interview process screens for sunny cashiers like him. He wouldn’t have this job “if I was miserable having to deal with people all the time.”

What about rude people?

“That hasn’t really happened,” Reco said. “Are you going to buy this underwear?”

I also called one of the many Starbucks peppering the neighborhood around Slate’s D.C. office. I spoke to a manager who revealed that the company has no “actual policy” and leaves such matters to the discretion of the local franchise heads. “We do one person at a time,” he said, of his own store, “and we want everyone to feel taken care of. Rudeness isn’t tolerated.” When I pressed him about scripted expressions, he noted the most common ones he hears from his employees are “can I help you?” and “next in line.” But he added that “it is common courtesy to ask what’s going on.”

“Does that mean that Starbucks cashiers will actually say, ‘What’s going on?’ ” I responded, delighted at the caj vibe of such an icebreaker.

Silence. “Would that be a problem?” he asked.

Then I tried to get his name, and he hung up on me. Next!

Actually, can we pause for a second over how great it feels when your turn arrives? This is one of the core paradoxes of “may I help the next person”—that a moment so repetitious and dream-shriveling for the cashier carries such a singular affirmative power for the customer. There you are, waiting for the people ahead of you to resolve their business, sagging a bit under the weight of the social compact that equates every single other schmoe’s desires with yours. And then: The karmic klieg light swivels to soak you in its golden glow.

Whether you are picking up your prescription or buying a bagel, there’s primal, joyful satisfaction in approaching the counter, because you—you!—are “next.” But on the other side of that counter, all of the yous blur together into one long yawn. And by convention, that person, the bored one, is the party that is supposed to act cheerful. And so capitalism goes, until the moment you arrive at the gates of Heaven to find a smiling St. Peter amiably processing his long line of souls. “Oye amigo, look alive,” he’ll joke, at which point a lifetime of consumer interactions will have hopefully taught you how to see past the façade and respond with empathy. Cashiers are there to help the following guest. But God helps those who help themselves.

Unilever backs up Dove soap ad after questioning

Unilever backs up Dove soap ad after questioning


CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com

Unilever holds its head high after winning an ad battle over its Dove soap after it had dryness claims questioned, and the Advertising Standards authority ruled in its favour.

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Lyft Drivers Are Upset They May Be Asked to Take Riders to Taco Bell

Lyft Drivers Are Upset They May Be Asked to Take Riders to Taco Bell

by Kate Taylor @ Slate Articles

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

When Taco Bell announced a service that allows Lyft users to push a button to have their driver take them to a Taco Bell drive-through, most taco lovers' reaction was to celebrate. However, many Lyft drivers—who found out about the new service at the same time as the rest of the world—had a different response.

Drivers immediately called out Lyft on Twitter, questioning why drivers would want to take the time of going through a Taco Bell drive-thru without additional compensation. Typically, Lyft drivers are paid by the mile—meaning that they aren't earning any cash when cars are stopped at the drive-thru under the current system. And, that's not even getting into the potential messes that a car full of Doritos Locos tacos could create.

"That Lyft might go ahead and do this—encourage riders to do something most drivers dislike doing—without offering drivers an incentive or otherwise communicating to us what the plan is is pretty bold," one Lyft driver told Business Insider.

"This is Uber type behavior, and I don't think even Uber does stuff like this anymore," he continued. "I wonder if it occurs to Taco Bell that drivers don't like going through the drive-through."

The same driver also emailed Business Insider a snarky, satiric corporate statement from "Lyft," reading: "A representative for the Los Angeles-based Southern California Rideshare Drivers Association said, 'Although drivers make very little money sitting in the drive through line, and many feel that Lyft and Taco Bell are encouraging riders to take advantage of the awkward situation this puts drivers in, the upside is this provides a great new revenue stream source for the drivers in the form of cleaning fees.'"

Lyft clarified on Twitter that drivers' participation in "Taco Mode," which is launching as a test in Orange County, California on Thursday, is completely optional. The company, which did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment, also said it plans to "gather and evaluate feedback from both drivers and passengers and use this to inform Taco Mode moving forward."

Taco Bell will test Taco Mode in Orange County, California, from July 27 to 29 and August 3 to 5, with plans to expand the service across the US in 2018. In addition to providing passengers the ability to order drive-through Taco Bell, Taco Mode also includes a custom in-car menu, free Doritos Locos tacos, and what the company calls a "taco-themed car."

"We realized that for every person who has asked their Lyft driver to make a pit stop at Taco Bell—and we've seen many—there are likely those who weren't sure if this was possible," Taco Bell CMO Marisa Thalberg said in a statement. "With the advent of this fantastic partnership with Lyft, we will erase any lingering uncertainty and celebrate the ability to 'ride-thru' in Taco Mode."

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Republicans Are Taking One Last Shot at Repealing Obamacare, and It’s Their Most Extreme Bill Yet

Republicans Are Taking One Last Shot at Repealing Obamacare, and It’s Their Most Extreme Bill Yet

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

There is pretty much one thing you need to understand about the last-minute Obamacare repeal bill Republicans are currently attempting to pass before a drop-dead deadline at the end of September. Of the three major pieces of health care legislation the GOP has considered this year, this one appears to be the most extreme—the closest the party could come to ending the Affordable Care Act without actually replacing it.

The GOP’s past two repeal plans—the American Health Care Act, which passed the House, and the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which failed in the Senate—followed the same broad outline. When it came to the individual market, the bills looked like severely degraded versions of Obamacare, offering relatively meager tax credits designed to buy cheap private insurance while allowing states to opt out from at least some of the Affordable Care Act’s most popular consumer protections. Both also rolled back the ACA’s Medicaid expansion while capping spending on traditional Medicaid for the first time. (On that last front, the Senate bill was notably more draconian.)

Both bills would have made it harder for many older, sicker, and poorer Americans to buy health coverage, potentially leaving tens of millions uninsured while dealing a historic blow to the government’s single largest health care program by enrollment. Some ideas that wormed their way into these bills—like the Cruz amendment—likely would have thrown the insurance markets into outright disarray. Some of the regulatory waivers may have been ripe for abuse. But at the very least, you could say they left in place a default system of support to help lower-income Americans to buy health plans, however measly it may have been.

The new Republican plan, put forth by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, is different and in many ways more frightening. It repeals Obamacare but does not replace it in any meaningful sense. Instead, the bill would take the money that the government currently spends on the ACA’s premium subsidies and Medicaid expansion and dispenses it back to states in the form of block grants that they could use to fund their own health care experiments, whatever those might be. These grants would likely grow more slowly than the cost of insurance or medical care, thus cutting federal health spending by $239 billion over a decade. The law would also give states the right to waive most of Obamacare’s key regulations, including those that prevent insurers from charging more to people based on their health, so long as they explain their plan to “maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing coverage.” (It’s not clear if that plan has to be realistic.)

Some liberal states might try to preserve a system similar to Obamacare in a Graham-Cassidy world—like how Massachusetts had Romneycare before the country had Obamacare. But it would be hard, if not impossible, to replicate the real thing. That’s because the bill’s funding formula is designed not only to shrink federal spending on health care but to shift dollars from predominantly Democratic states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare to predominantly Republican states that did not. It’ll be a smaller pie overall, and places like New York and California that are inclined to expand health coverage will be getting a smaller slice.

As for states that are generally tight-fisted about safety-net spending? Who knows what they’ll do. Graham-Cassidy lists six different ways states can use their block grant money—but the spending categories are purposely broad, and it’s entirely conceivable that an Alabama or Mississippi would use its money to supplant some of their existing state spending or patch budget holes. This has been a chronic problem with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which turned cash welfare into a block grant program in the 1990s, and may be the closest parallel to what Republicans are now angling to do to Obamacare.

All told, Graham and Cassidy aren’t really offering a health care proposal. Instead, they’re offering states a meager slush fund.

Worse yet, it’s a slush fund with a self-destruct function. Graham-Cassidy does not appropriate any money for its block grants after 2026. The cash just disappears. Cassidy has tried to write off this bizarre detail of the law as a mere technicality, claiming, according to Politico, that “budget restrictions prevent him from funding the block grants beyond 2026” and reassuring reporters that “Congress would keep the money flowing in the same way it’s continually agreed to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program.” That is not a convincing excuse. The budget reconciliation rules—which Republicans are relying on to pass repeal with just 50 votes—only bar legislation that raises the long-term deficit. Since Graham-Cassidy’s block grants would actually cut federal spending, it should be possible to make them permanent. The fact that the senators apparently don’t want to is fairly ominous.

Finally, all of this is paired with a cap-and-cut approach to traditional Medicaid that is just as draconian as what the most recent Senate bill proposed.

The current version of Graham-Cassidy has only been out for about a week, meaning experts haven’t had a ton of time to digest the bill’s language. The deeper you wade into it, though, the more worrying some of the details seem to be. Edwin Park at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities pointed out to me that Graham-Cassidy’s formula might actually penalize states for trying to help their residents buy more generous coverage. “It’s pretty crazy,” he told me. “You’re not only encouraging states to cover fewer people, but also to provide them worse coverage.” Unfortunately, Senate Republicans need to pass a bill before the Sept. 30 deadline, when their reconciliation vehicle expires. We should get a Congressional Budget Office score before then, but not with enough time to properly digest a piece of legislation that would remake much of the U.S. health care system.

But what we know about the bill already is frightening enough. And in many ways, it’s the perfect capstone to the entire Obamacare repeal process, in which Republicans have struggled to find any sort of coherent substitute for the health care law they want to dismantle. Republicans promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. By lining up behind Graham-Cassidy, they’ve essentially shrugged and said, “Let’s not and say we did.”

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Tobacco Investors Just Learned That Trump Isn’t the Salvation of Every Odious Industry

Tobacco Investors Just Learned That Trump Isn’t the Salvation of Every Odious Industry

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

The tendency to lean on political beliefs is one of the most powerful forces in investing and financial media, and one of the most dangerous. There’s a general sense that Republicans are good for business (lower taxes, fewer regulations, an overall permisiveness) and therefore good for the stock market. And there’s a sense that Democrats are bad for business (higher taxes, more regs, a skepticism toward industry’s prerogatives) and therefore bad for the stock market. The lived experienced of the markets over the past 25 years—booming under Clinton and Obama, tanking under Bush—should give the lie to this feeling. But it endures. And it has become particularly powerful under Trump, who regards the stock market as a kind of real-time approval gauge.

But doing so is precarious. And it can be continually confounding at the macro level and at the level of sectors and individual companies. That’s a lesson that investors who held stocks in tobacco companies—in particular the biggest one, Altria (formerly Philip Morris)—learned Friday.

Tobacco companies are in a strange position right now. Smoking is on the decline in the U.S., in part because of government efforts to discourage it via higher taxation, regulation, outright bans, and President Obama’s use of the bully pulpit and the executive pen. Only about 15.1 percent of Americans smoked in 2016, down from about 21 percent in 2005, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And yet the profits of tobacco companies, paradoxically, are booming, in part because sales overseas are growing and in part because tobacco companies have the ability to raise prices. (That’s one of the advantages of making a product that is addictive.) Altria’s profit margins on tobacco products are remarkably high. Between 2001 and 2016, as the chart on Page 11 of Altria’s annual report shows, Altria’s stock nearly tripled, while the S&P 500 merely doubled.

Altria’s stock, like many others, continued to soar after Trump’s election—up about 10 percent in the first half of the year. It’s not hard to see why. Aside from benefiting from the general pro-business agenda of Trump—cutting corporate taxes, reducing the capital gains tax, and so on—Altria would seem to have far less to fear from a Trump administration than from an Obama or Clinton administration. While he doesn’t drink or smoke, Trump isn’t a particularly healthy person: He doesn’t work out or exercise or maintain a healthy diet. His administration has backed measures that would cut health care spending by hundreds of billions of dollars, some of which is now spent on smoking cessation. The Trump administration is full of lobbyists and corporate types eager to do the bidding of companies. The likelihood of the first family engaging in aggressive anti-smoking campaigns is laughable. Altria kicked in $500,000 to fund the Trump inauguration.

And the person Trump named to be the head of the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates tobacco, doesn’t have a history of anti-smoking activism. Scott Gottlieb is a physician, biotech investor, and former resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who also served in the Bush administration. What’s more, Gottlieb has been strongly in favor of deregulating pharmaceuticals and medical devices, as part of an effort to bring innovations to market more quickly and reduce costs.

And yet Friday morning, with little apparent warning, Gottlieb announced a new comprehensive plan to regulate nicotine. In an aggressive speech that spoke about cigarettes and nicotine in harsh terms, Gottlieb said “we need to envision a world where cigarettes lose their addictive potential through reduced nicotine levels.” For this reason, Gottlieb said, “I’m directing our Center for Tobacco Products to develop a comprehensive nicotine regulatory plan premised on the need to confront and alter cigarette addiction.” With a “balanced regulatory approach,” he noted, “we may be able to reach a day when the most harmful products are no longer capable of addicting our kids.”

This clearly came as a surprise to the companies and to their investors. Stocks reacted violently. In about 30 minutes, Altria’s stock fell 15 percent, sawing nearly $21 billion in market capitalization off the company. By later in the afternoon, the stock had stabilized, though it was still off by about 10 percent, or about $14 billion.

Clearly, investors and the tobacco companies believed that the Trump FDA would take a more hands-off approach to regulating tobacco. After all, we’ve seen sharp pullbacks from regulation of toxic emissions and substances at the Environmental Protection Agency and a general desire to rip up consumer protections. But just because there’s a general air of deregulation, and just because people now in positions of responsibility are hostile to scientific consensus (hello, EPA and Interior), doesn’t mean that all important executive-branch appointees do so.

That’s the mistake tobacco investors made. Gottlieb, after all, is a physician, and a cancer survivor to boot. The science and medicine surrounding tobacco is long since settled, and the consensus is broad. The product has been regulated, without much controversy, for several decades. Everybody involved in health care really hates tobacco, an addictive product that has a host of really bad, expensive, and predictable effects on people’s health. “As a physician who cared for hospitalized cancer patients, and as a cancer survivor myself, I saw first-hand the impact of tobacco,” Gottlieb said in a speech Friday. “And I know all too well that it’s cigarettes that are the primary cause of tobacco-related disease and death. What’s now clear is that FDA is at a unique moment in history, with profound new tools to address this devastating impact.”

Not all of Trump’s appointees will be pro-corporate stooges at all times. And investing as if they are can be remarkably expensive.

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Terminal

Terminal

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

 

This is a story about how the airport became the setting for the Great American Freakout. Once an icon of progress, then another stale waiting room of modern life, the airport has now entered a third phase.

This summer, Ann Coulter threw a three-day tantrum over a Delta seat assignment, comparing the airline gate attendants to Nurse Ratched, the sadistic warden who rules over the lunatics in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There was some truth to the observation. It was the latest incident in a year of airport fracases—including a brawl at the Spirit Airlines counter in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (May), the concussion of the 69-year-old David Dao who wouldn’t relinquish his seat (April), widespread pro-immigrant protests (January), two full-on panic stampedes one year ago, and a steady drumbeat of racial and religious profiling at security and immigration—that have confirmed the airport’s new role in American life as the marble-floored home of our national, fear-fueled psychosis.

The airport is, on the one hand, as representative a civic space as America has. Nearly half of American adults fly commercial each year, making the airport nearly as common a shared experience as the voting booth. It is also roiled by the ceaseless friction of its many internal borders, real and felt, that separate safety from danger, admittance from expulsion, brown from white, the rich from the rest. Real anxiety has swelled in this liminal space for decades, as airlines grew stingier, the security state grew stricter, and the borders in airport basements grew busier. But as with many conflicts in American life, the rise of Donald Trump has both clarified and exacerbated the fault lines.

This was evident in January, when the Trump administration unveiled its travel ban and thousands of protesters assembled at terminals across the country. But that was only a reminder of all the ways in which the airport has become a symbol and a stage: for the related and unrelated detentions of visitors, immigrants, and American citizens; for flare-ups over dress, language, and skin color; for increasing stratification by class; for massive delays borne of computer failures; for that dangerous hunch that America ain’t what it used to be; and for the aggrieved knowledge that it isn’t all it could be. It is a temple for a political era built on paranoia, as good a symbol for our age as the corporate skyscraper was for the postwar era and the suburban megamall was for the end of the century. The airport is the place to understand America today.

People who run airports know this. You can see it in their attempts to soothe. We now have art designed to keep us calm in the terminal. Ponies. Herds of kindly dogs. A therapy pig, in San Francisco. Chairs that rock and chairs that massage. Jazz music and country music. Mostly, we keep our aviation-related anxieties at bay with chemistry. The airport bars open early and endow patrons with both fortitude and an aura of righteous intoxication rarely found in morning drinking. Savvy travelers not among the nearly 1 in 10 Americans who have prescriptions for Xanax and its ilk nevertheless procure their favored pills for air travel. Take one just after passing through security to sink into an Eames tandem sling, that familiar, inclined bank of chairs.

Whatever we do, it’s not working.

* * *

In 1962, New York’s Idlewild Airport inaugurated Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center, a swooping concrete-and-glass icon of jet-age glamor. The building incarnated an idea of air travel’s allure that lingered like a contrail in the national imagination. In his 2015 book The End of Airports, Christopher Schaberg diagnosed the end of an idea: “The end of airports as romantic places; the end of airports as sites of excitement; the end of airports as apexes of travel culture. The end of airports means the end of our ability to appreciate airports, to inhabit them as dynamic, fascinating, forward-looking spaces.” In his latest book, Airportness, he has turned darker still: “It is a miserable place—you can see it on everybody’s face.”

But the romantic idea of the airport has been dying at least since the hijacking crisis of the 1970s, when American airports began to install metal detectors. Gradually, all aspects of the flying experience would be securitized. Metal detectors first sliced the grand TWA atrium in two decades ago, dispensing the sense of the airport as a genuine public place, where lovers parted at the jetway and the homeless could nap undisturbed, and marking the rise of the age of terror and security. As late as 1997, J.G. Ballard, writing of the world’s international terminals as a “discontinuous city” of global travelers, could claim that “above all, airports are places of good news.” But the raft of changes implemented since 9/11 have amplified security’s psychic cost.

It’s not clear how much the Transportation Security Administration’s methods are protecting us: In a 2015 investigation, undercover agents succeeded in smuggling weapons past screeners in 67 out of 70 attempts, and the agency’s acting head was reassigned. The drawbacks are easier to perceive. The screening requires you to expose yourself, both to the eyes of agents (see the ex-screener Jason Edward Harrington’s confessional “Dear America, I Saw You Naked”) and to fellow passengers, who watch you disrobe. Bags are unzipped to put underwear on display like on a backyard laundry line.

“Taking off shoes,” Harvey Molotch writes of one of America’s more frustrating air travel requirements in Against Security, “makes bodies touch foreign surfaces in unaccustomed ways, bringing to mind the ass on the restroom toilet seat.” Molotch argues that the prison-visit style of airport security is a perpetual worry machine, stoking the concern that justifies its escalating rigors. A design firm hired by the TSA argued that the unpleasant nature of checkpoints was hurting security procedures by giving all travelers the sweaty, nerve-wracked mien of terrorists and drug smugglers, and illustrated the point with photographs of a shark in calm waters (easy to see) and rough waters (invisible).

As with mass incarceration, efforts to reform airport security are hamstrung by politicians and administrators who would prefer to inflict hassle on millions than be caught making one mistake. Normalcy won a rare victory over the security state in 2005, when small scissors, screwdrivers, and pliers were again allowed in carry-on bags over the objections of Congress. (“This is the equivalent of handing back the box cutters to the 9/11 hijackers,” Rep. Ed Markey wrote. Hillary Clinton introduced a special bill to stop the policy.) The exception proves the rule: In 2013, the TSA was set to allow pocket knives and golf clubs on planes before the policy was overruled by lawmakers.

These protocols, like other airport routines, extend a burden beyond the terminal. No traveler can set his or her alarm or pack a tube of toothpaste without thinking about the TSA. The years since Sept. 11, 2001, can be measured out in 3-ounce bottles and other security restrictions. Shortly after 9/11, my sister got carsick on the way to the airport. At the time, there were no trash cans in the check-in area, and so my mother passed the plastic bag of vomit through the metal detector. This story is dated, but only because you can no longer get a bag of vomit through a metal detector.

It’s the conditioning effect of these rituals, as much as terrorism itself, that makes even false alarms so harrowing. Last August, a mass panic enveloped New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, sending thousands of travelers fleeing from a phantom terror attack. The false alarm spread between terminals, and flights were delayed nationwide as terrified travelers stormed the tarmac, hiding behind jet wheels and luggage carts or running for the safety of the Atlantic Ocean. What set them off, apparently, was the collapse of a line of bollards whose clack-clack-clack against the floor sounded like gunshots. Two weeks later, police evacuated four terminals of LAX after a phantom shooting, while in Terminal 4, panicked passengers ran willy-nilly. Outside Terminal 6, they scurried down the sidewalk with their rolling luggage, heading nowhere at all.

* * *

As this everyday security check unfolds upstairs, a more substantive vetting process is underway below. For decades, America’s international airports have been an increasingly important port of entry for visitors and immigrants. In 2005, 81 million people—19 percent of international travelers—entered the U.S. by air. By 2015, that number had risen to 112 million, and 29 percent of international arrivals. (Those numbers underestimate the central role of airports, since hundreds of thousands of commuters cross the U.S.–Mexico border every day and are counted multiple times.) Just as airports are places where America must be defended from terrorism, they are frontiers through which immigrants, foreigners, and American expatriates pass onto U.S. soil. They are borders, with their attendant violence, nestled at the heart of domestic life.

This has occurred despite laborious efforts in Washington to push border functions out of our airports, through a series of international data-sharing negotiations, the export of biometric sensors to visa application sites abroad, and supplementary security requirements for U.S.-bound flights. “With a virtual border in place,” the security theorist Gallya Lahav writes, “the actual border guard is meant to become the last point of defense rather than the first.”

At least, that is the idea. The 2014 Ebola crisis demonstrated it hadn’t quite worked out that way. That summer at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie detained Kaci Hickox, an American nurse who had treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, placing her in a mandatory quarantine at a Newark hospital. Trump tweeted about the Ebola outbreak more than 50 times, calling for a travel ban and opposing the return of two infected U.S. aid workers. “The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back,” our future president wrote. “People that go to far away places to help out are great-but must suffer the consequences.”

It was a stance that, in its callousness and shallow thinking, anticipated Trump’s ham-handed attempt at a Muslim ban. On Jan. 26 of this year, the country’s international airports once again reprised their role as a conflict zone. Holders of visas and green cards arriving from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, some of them refugees, found that their legal status had changed overnight. After months of planning, they were imprisoned in the airport.

So it was the international airport, not the Mexican border or an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center, that became the first testing ground for the Trump administration’s strident xenophobia. And concurrently, the site of the first, substantive protests against it.

On the Saturday after the ban was enacted, thousands of protesters convened in the parking lot outside JFK Terminal 4. Inside, U.S. representatives, lawyers, and the families of the detained arrivals struggled to determine where authority in the airport lay, which parts of the terminal belonged to whom, and who was responsible for directing the agents of Customs and Border Protection. “Call the president” was the response. We now know that CBP was deploying some kind of centralized strategy to flummox lawyers and members of Congress . But navigating the administration’s reversals often fell to the rank and file.

The vision of the airport as an austere, Taylorized space, where even the architecture is mathematically deduced (150 square feet per design-hour passenger is a common metric), has fallen away to reveal a deeply human frontier, in all the worst ways. A 2005 report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom determined that there was “extreme” variation in the way that asylum cases were handled at different airports. In the past five months, we have seen the agency’s worst actors deploy their cynicism at the airport border. A French Holocaust historian was detained for 10 hours in Houston. A 70-year-old Australian children’s book author was detained and questioned in Los Angeles. Customs agents checked IDs on the jetway of an arriving, domestic flight. Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of the heavyweight champion, was detained in a Florida airport and asked about his Muslim faith. And those were just the names we knew.

* * *

Whether security and customs inspire reassurance, anguish, or outrage, there is a third and overarching gantlet at work in the form of economic stratification. The airport is to America’s petite bourgeoisie—the small-time capitalists and traveling salesmen who delivered us to Trump—what the factory is to the white working class: a symbol of how much better things used to be. (And the president agrees.) But there is a more widely shared feeling that the airport experience is a reminder of one’s paltry but declining status.

The oldest, basic sorting mechanism of ticket sales has been supplemented by a variety of market incentives, with the path to the plane (and back from the plane) lit by buy-ins and buy-outs: baggage fees, seat fees, concession fees, TSA Precheck and Global Entry, travelers’ clubs, and finally the unseemly bidding process to remove the most cash-poor, time-rich SOB from the plane. Airlines earn lower marks on customer satisfaction surveys than loathed institutions like the U.S. Postal Service and social media. When things go awry, the airport experience encapsulates that peculiar, desperate feeling of the modern American economy. Not the balm of total helplessness, but the regretful hunch that if you had just done one thing differently—routed yourself through Houston instead of Denver, gotten in line earlier, not gotten disconnected with the help line—you might be on your way to where you want to be.

Most gripes about the airport stem from the same No Exit complaint that motivates so much worry in America today: There are simply more people there than there used to be. More kids in your school district, more buildings in your neighborhood, more cars on your road, more people who don’t look like you or talk like you at the mall. Or at the airport. Tickets are cheaper, and the airport experience feels cheaper too. Democratization is stressful; tight quarters serve as the kindling for fires of racist fury (and all kinds of other bad manners).

Private jets and lounges have siphoned off onetime airport luxuries. Thanks to higher baggage fees, Americans increasingly lug their possessions through airports themselves. Not only is an airport delay an extended confrontation with your peers in a seating area, but with all the things they carry: blankets, neck pillows, hair brushes, 30 generations of digital devices—a state of disarray bordering on the domestic. To be in the airport is to inhabit Zeno’s static moment that movement requires. “It is dead time,” Don DeLillo wrote. “It never happened until it happens again. Then it never happened.”

A structural shift in the industry’s economics, spurred by a string of corporate mergers, has added a spark. Small- and medium-size airports have declined as more and more flights are routed through megahubs. Domestic boardings rose 7.7 percent between 2005 and 2015, but more than two-thirds of that gain occurred at the nation’s 10 busiest airports.

It can be difficult to untangle the lived airport from the airport of the mind, but it is easier with airports than with other buildings. Because each one is a glassy, highly regulated remix of its peers, with the same marked-up Dasani and magazines for sale, one airport can easily stand in for many. The airline whose hold music plays softly as you sink into a worn-leather every chair and watch a day and a vacation slip away could be any airline. The tarmac looks the same. The whole system, from the entry through security to the exit past the border agents, is a reminder of how little control you have—not just economic power, but even, for the moment, power over your own movement. From David Dao to the LAX stampede to delay-induced tantrums, these viral acts of airport chaos draw power from this sense of widespread agitation, like storms from a heated sea.

* * *

More from this series:

To understand why air travel has gotten so dreadful, just look at its labor force.

The factors that make travelers cranky are tightly intertwined with the reasons why pilots, flight attendants, and other aviation workers are learning less and less. And it’s partially our fault.

By Jeff Friedrich

But if the experience for everyone is so bad, why is airport retail booming?

That’s exactly why. The factors that immiserate travelers benefit retail sectors that would otherwise struggle in airports the way they do in the real world. Airport retail has guaranteed foot traffic and no competition from e-commerce (when you need new earbuds right before a flight, you’re not hitting up Amazon). They also benefit from delays and the fact that airlines are less likely to give you free food or drink.

By Daniel Gross

There is still one way to dodge the hellscape: small airports.

Just look at the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York. It turns out that airport function is not helped by scale—the bigger the building, the more prone to morasses it is. Smaller, it turns out, is better.

By Daniel Gross

If you must navigate an airport, at least make the best of it.

A pilot’s tips for appreciating what there is to appreciate about air travel. Airports are destinations of accidental wonder, places an extra 10 minutes can reveal the marvel of travel still beneath the unpleasant surface. Take in the departures board, admire the small variations in culture between places that are all quite similar, people-watch, gaze at the architecture, and savor the exit.

By Mark Vanhoenacker

But not everyone can, of course. Being hypersurveilled in airports is now a part of being brown in America.

A reflection by an expert on surveilled communities on how his own experience is deepened by his day job and the fact that he is Indian. Like a lot of people, he opts out of the scanning machines, meaning instead he gets a physical patdown—a process that has become uncomfortably more invasive in 2017.

By Prashant Sinha

And the net of scrutiny catches even those people who need accommodation.

The devices that make life easier for people with medical conditions—like enhancements for diabetics—make life a much bigger hassle in the airport, and the subject of almost-performative scrutiny from the TSA, despite the agency’s attempt to improve its treatment of such passengers.

By Jacob Brogan

James Willmott-Brown’s reign of terror starts on Eastenders as he breaks into Kathy Beale’s cafe

by tpearce @ The Sun

EASTENDERS villain James Willmott-Brown wastes no time before he starts nosing around just days after returning to Albert Square. The posh baddie, played by William Boyde, has returned to Walford 28 years after he was sentenced to three years in prison for the rape of Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth). He made his first appearance last […]

Charlotte Hawkins pours cold water on Strictly curse claims saying it’s ‘not an issue’ as she’s ‘happily married’

by Olivia Waring @ The Sun

STRICTLY’S Charlotte Hawkins and her husband have rubbished claims their marriage will be rocked by the show’s “curse” – despite the fact she’s been paired with “really nice bloke” and originator of the curse, Brendan Cole. Good Morning Britain newsreader Charlotte, 42, says she’s too “happily married” to husband of nine years Mark Herbert to […]

Matthew Williamson - Ad - Christian Aid - Demo

Matthew Williamson - Ad - Christian Aid - Demo

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Beauty and sensuality are significant assets in the job market

by aufeminin @ Womenology

For some decades, studies have shown that people who are considered to be physically beautiful are at an advantage in a number of areas, both private and professional. Three recent books confirm this trend by showing that beauty has become …

Continuer la lecture

The post Beauty and sensuality are significant assets in the job market appeared first on Womenology.

Richard Attlee - Advert - Waitrose - demo

Richard Attlee - Advert - Waitrose - demo

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Overcoming My Fear of Returns, With the Help of E-Commerce

Overcoming My Fear of Returns, With the Help of E-Commerce

by Heather Schwedel @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

Typically an item left in the office kitchen is a reason for celebration: leftover birthday cake, homemade cookies, fresh tomatoes from someone’s garden. But the saddest thing I ever saw in an office kitchen was an abandoned pair of brand-new women’s pants I found sitting on a table one day. I remember the pants were from Coldwater Creek, size large in a dark color, and they were still in the plastic wrap and packaging they’d been shipped in. They had a note on them that said something like “take me” or “free!”

Sure, those pants weren’t “baby shoes, never worn,” but they broke my heart anyway. Whose were they? What was wrong with them? Was the idea of visiting a store or post office to return them so upsetting that the pants’ owner couldn’t bear it and decided the only way forward was desertion? Since I was a kid, I’ve always felt apprehensive about demanding my money back, stemming no doubt from all the childhood weekend shopping expeditions I spent quietly dying inside while standing in line with my mom at Toys R Us or Caldor or Kmart, watching the women of her generation pursue returns with single-minded purpose. Even if you don’t have full-blown return anxiety, you probably don’t like returning stuff. As Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and the author of Decoding the New Consumer Mind, told me, “People returning in a store, the emotions there are so clear to read. There’s a combination of either guilt or shame, and it’s also layered over with anger at the hassle of returning.”

But one major thing has changed about retail since my childhood return anxiety: the rise of e-commerce. Because we don’t have fitting rooms on the internet, we tend to return a whole lot more. Some e-commerce players have put in place generous return policies that seem to acknowledge the inevitability of returns and maybe even the possibility that the people who return the most might actually be the most discerning, and best, customers, as Zappos has posited. This year, Amazon introduced a service called Prime Wardrobe, wherein members of the company’s Prime program (who pay an annual fee) can try on clothes and return whatever doesn’t fit. The clothes arrive in a resealable box that already has a prepaid label for mailing it back included inside. Some experts—in particular, makers of retail software who have a dog in the e-commerce race—have encouraged companies beyond the Zappos and the Bonobos of the world to put as much thought into the “after-buying” experience as they do the purchase itself.

It’s difficult to isolate the monetary impact of doing so unless the companies themselves trumpet their results, but a few studies have borne out that it pays to create easy return policies. One 2012 paper in the Journal of Marketing found that a free returns policy at one leading website boosted consumer spending 158 to 457 percent. Another study, this one in the Journal of Marketing Research in 2015, concluded that providing positive return experiences was a valuable tool for creating customers who would bring in more money in the long run.

Yet even as e-commerce makes returns easier there’s still the matter of, as David Sobie calls it, “the dreaded arts and crafts project.” You have to find a box, fit your product back into that box, print out a label, visit the post office. Two years ago, Sobie and Mark Geller co-founded a company called Happy Returns in their own bid to improve the return process. Their idea was to open physical locations in high–foot traffic areas where people could go to return goods purchased at e-commerce-only outlets. At Happy Returns bars, “you don’t need a receipt, you don’t need to do any prep. You simply hand your items to someone, answer a few questions, and get your money back immediately,” Sobie told me. Happy Returns currently has a few dozen locations across the country and works with companies such as Everlane, Eloquii, and Tradesy.

This got me to thinking. Sobie said that what customers want with e-commerce is the ability to buy online and return in person. But even that feels a bit like a compromise—yeah, I guess I’d agree to talk to someone in person to do a return, if my only alternative is having to locate one of those weird padded envelopes and surreptitiously use the office Xerox to print out a label. Everyone knows the real holy grail solution to any problem is that it solves itself without you having to do anything at all: How about instead of sending something back, I do nothing, keep the thing, and get a refund anyway? Greedy, maybe, but it’s what the e-commerce boom has wrought. When one site offers a great perk, like free shipping, suddenly every site has to offer it to compete, and when one retailer gives you a full refund one time, you think maybe you could get accustomed to that kind of service.

I know, because it’s happened to me: Recently, the snaps on a pair of sandals I bought last summer broke. They were from one of those chichi startups that like to trumpet their superior quality and customer service, so I emailed to ask if there was any restitution the company could offer me. (Yes, I used the word restitution.) I never would have done this—complained about a year-old pair of shoes or used an embarrassing word like restitution—in person, but I had no problem firing it off in an email. The impersonal nature of e-commerce had emboldened me. Maybe it’s emboldened us all.

It’s not just that people return more of what they buy online because it doesn’t fit. The whole culture of shopping has evolved over the past few decades. “There’s a lower level of trust between the retailer and the consumer,” Yarrow told me. As mom-and-pop stores have declined and soulless chains have taken over, the power has shifted to consumers. Meanwhile, we’ve also got online stores conditioning us to expect VIP service. “At one point I think consumers felt an obligation of fairness toward a retailer,” Yarrow said. “And then at some point, that sentiment really changed and consumers lost their trust in retailers. Retailers noticed consumers were becoming much more unethical in how they shopped, and they tightened up. It is just a mentality of distrust on both sides.” Among the $260 billion worth of goods Americans returned last year were no doubt billions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent, sneaky, or just plain tacky returns. Haven’t we all seen this firsthand? A friend recently told me about a trip to Costco in which she was appalled to see that the woman in line ahead of her returned a third of a pizza.

It doesn’t feel great that my journey of self-actualization is part of a larger story of the decline of American consumer ethics. On the other hand, though, thinking back to those Coldwater Creek pants, present-me might take them and see what I could get for them. Hell, I have half a mind to write Coldwater Creek now, all these years later, and see what it’ll offer for my troubles, in the way of, ahem, restitution. The old me, who felt a sense of obligation and shame, is gone, replaced by the retail industry’s worst nightmare: a woman who isn’t afraid to ask to speak to the manager.

Charlotte Lucas - Advert - Citreon - demo

Charlotte Lucas - Advert - Citreon - demo

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Paul Matania - Narratives - Megamix - demos

Paul Matania - Narratives - Megamix - demos

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Robert Vernon - Film Trailer - demo

Robert Vernon - Film Trailer - demo

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United Airlines under fire again as giant bunny’s owners slam airline for calling Simon ‘damaged luggage’ in attempt to dismiss lawsuit 

by Alahna Kindred @ The Sun

THE owners of a giant bunny who died on a United Airlines flight have slammed the carrier – after it said the death was a case of “damaged luggage”. Tragic Simon, a 3ft continental rabbit, mysteriously died while in transit on the scandal-hit airline from the UK to the US. He was found dead after […]

Shirlie Randall - Adverts - Megamix

Shirlie Randall - Adverts - Megamix

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Richard Attlee - Narrative - demo

Richard Attlee - Narrative - demo

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Stefanie Powers - Doc - Elephants - demo

Stefanie Powers - Doc - Elephants - demo

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Tom Giles - Commercial MEGAMIX - demo

Tom Giles - Commercial MEGAMIX - demo

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James Cooney - Drama - Age of Consent - demo

James Cooney - Drama - Age of Consent - demo

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The Best of Global Digital Marketing in Dhaka, Bangladesh

by Best Marketing @ Best Marketing

26th September 2016

Simon Green - Drama - Normal - demo

Simon Green - Drama - Normal - demo

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Manchester City keeper Ederson reveals Liverpool winger Sadio Mane sent him a text following the incident that left Brazilian needing eight stitches in his face

by jhutchinson @ The Sun

EDERSON MORAES revealed he has made his peace with Liverpool forward Sadio Mane. The Manchester City keeper needed eight stitches after he was booted in the face by the Kop ace two weeks ago. EXCLUSIVE OFFER: BET £5 GET A FREE £10 BET Mane received a red card while Ederson was stretchered off after the […]

Scott Turnbull - Trailer - Discovery - demo

Scott Turnbull - Trailer - Discovery - demo

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David Jensen - Cor - Gillette Sport

David Jensen - Cor - Gillette Sport

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Matt Weyland - Drama - Animal - demo

Matt Weyland - Drama - Animal - demo

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Ignore the Viral Tweets. Airlines Aren’t Really Gouging People Ahead of Irma.

Ignore the Viral Tweets. Airlines Aren’t Really Gouging People Ahead of Irma.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

With Hurricane Irma swirling its way toward Florida, the internet has been filling up with angry accounts of airline price gouging, complete with pictures of thousand-dollar-plus fares that (of all people) Perez Hilton has been collecting. An Arizona PR exec racked up more than 30,000 retweets when she posted a screengrab showing a Delta ticket that had supposedly shot up from $547.50 to $3,258.50. The Miami Herald tracked down an absurdly sympathetic woman who wanted to fly “her mother, adult cousin, 71-year-old grandmother, [and] 11-year-old sister to New York” but could only find a flight that cost $1,318.80 per person. The issue is even getting some attention from the Sunshine State’s politicos: Florida’s attorney general says her office’s newly opened price-gouging hotline has been getting a stream of complaints about airlines, and her staff has been calling carriers about the issue.

Many of these horror stories are obviously real—I’ve found a few $1,000-plus tickets myself. But overall, the rage seems maybe a little excessive. Airfares do appear to be rising in advance of Irma, but generally not by absurd amounts. Meanwhile, some airlines have even responded to the storm by increasing flights and capping fares in order to make sure people can get to safety.

According to an analysis by the travel-booking website Kayak, people looking to fly out of South Florida within a day last week could expect to pay somewhere in the “mid-$300s.” As of yesterday, those prices were up by more than 25 percent. This is not surprising. Airlines set their prices automatically via algorithms that account for the number of seats available, demand, timing, and a whole host of other factors. Last-minute tickets can be especially expensive. When half a metro area suddenly decides to evacuate because a deadly hurricane is bearing down on it, you can expect prices to rise. “Situations such as these drive pricing anomalies due to an instantaneous imbalance between demand and supply,” airline industry consultant Bob Mann of R.W. Mann & Company told me in an email. “Same occurred to United returns to Houston, post-Harvey, and to NY-DC fares after the Amtrak crash eliminated thousands of seats daily.”

Of course, this is not necessarily a good thing. It’s the flying equivalent of Uber failing to turn off surge pricing during Hurricane Sandy, which plenty of people found ethically grotesque.

But a 25 percent bump in last-minute fares is not exactly the equivalent of a $99 case of bottled water, nor are those surges the rule. JetBlue will only charge up to $99 for flights out of Florida to help more families get out of the storm’s path. Delta is capping fares at $399 out of South Florida while adding flights on larger planes in order to provide more seats leaving the area. For what it’s worth, I’ve been able to find sub-$300 tickets along with some obvious rip-offs while searching travel sites. If anything, it seems fair to criticize airlines for being slow-footed and failing to pre-empt their normal pricing strategies before the pre-storm panic set in. But this doesn’t strike me as an example of capitalism at its most rapacious either. As far as fixes go, Mann told me one option would be for airlines to automatically flag rapid fare jumps “for a prompt manual review” by an employee.

Meanwhile, some of the gouging stories may not be what they seem. When I asked Delta spokesman Anthony Black about the $3,258 ticket that caught Twitter’s attention on Tuesday, he pointed out that the screengrab was actually from Expedia. “It wasn’t posted on our site,” he told me. And once Dow checked with Delta, it apparently addressed her issue.

Ashleigh Cheadle - Adverts - MEGAMIX - demos

Ashleigh Cheadle - Adverts - MEGAMIX - demos

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Richard Attlee - Advert - Twinning's - demo

Richard Attlee - Advert - Twinning's - demo

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Sohm Kapila - Avert - Alcohol Awareness - demo

Sohm Kapila - Avert - Alcohol Awareness - demo

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Advertising Through the Ages

Advertising Through the Ages


OnPath

A look at advertising through the ages from the 1890s to the modern day. What has changed? What has stayed the same? What do those changes mean for ads?

Colin Elmer - Nar - The Death Bed - demo

Colin Elmer - Nar - The Death Bed - demo

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Scott Turnbull - Animation - demos

Scott Turnbull - Animation - demos

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David Jensen - Advert - Bacardi Breezer

David Jensen - Advert - Bacardi Breezer

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Seretta Wilson - Adverts - Megamix US - demos

Seretta Wilson - Adverts - Megamix US - demos

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Danny Higginbotham: Pep Guardiola is making Manchester City stars into better players with merry-go-round approach to their positions

by ashilton @ The Sun

ONE of the most interesting things about Manchester City’s demolition of Palace was the flexibility of Pep Guardiola’s team. When centre-back John Stones went off, the manager moved Kyle Walker to the middle, made Danilo swap to right-back and bought on Fabian Delph to play left-back! That shows me that Guardiola wants to challenge his […]

Manchester City transfer news: Pep Guardiola tells Arsenal to forget about Raheem Sterling in the January transfer window

by gstonehouse @ The Sun

PEP GUARDIOLA has told Arsenal to forget about landing Raheem Sterling. The Gunners asked about the England forward ahead of last month’s transfer deadline. City said ‘no’ to Sterling, 22, moving to the Emirates in a swap deal with Alexis Sanchez. There were reports last week that Arsene Wenger might test the water again in […]

Catalina Blackman - Advert - Domestic Violence - demo

Catalina Blackman - Advert - Domestic Violence - demo

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Pandora Is Fleeing Two of the Three Countries Where It Operates

Pandora Is Fleeing Two of the Three Countries Where It Operates

by John Lynch @ Slate Articles

Pandora announced that its internet radio service will be discontinued in Australia and New Zealand on Monday, leaving only its United States service in operation.

Pandora subscribers and free users who tried to log on to the service in Australia and New Zealand over the weekend were reportedly warned of the shut down with the following message:

"Dear Pandora listener, We will be shutting down the Pandora service in Australia and New Zealand on July 31st, 2017. After this date, you will no longer be able to access the Pandora app of website. We're honored to have connected so many listeners with the music they love these past few years. Thank you for your loyalty and the opportunity to serve you. Sincerely The Pandora Team."

Pandora launched its regional services in Australia and New Zealand in 2012. It has recently struggled financially, lost its founder CEO, and been unable to turn around its momentum despite launching its own on-demand streaming service, Pandora Premium, in March.

In June, Pandora also landed a $480 million investment from Sirius XM, after it rejected an offer from Sirius to buy the company outright.

Pandora will now be available in the US only. Global radio operation laws have prevented Pandora from launching its radio service in any countries other than Australia, New Zealand, and the US in the past.

Pandora's stock dropped over 5 percent in trading early on Monday, following news of its Australia and New Zealand closures.

X Factor’s Sharon Osbourne hits out at cheating Ozzy as she compares him to OAP’s dead womanising husband

by lfranklin @ The Sun

SHARON Osbourne made it very clear during tonight’s X Factor that she is still angry at her cheating husband Ozzy Osbourne, when she compared him to a dead womaniser. The judging panel were faced with hilarious OAP duo, Just Us, featuring Londoner Carol, 70, and Italian Annamaria, 67. When asked about her personal life, Annamaria […]

Shirlie Randall - Cor Doc - Megamix

Shirlie Randall - Cor Doc - Megamix

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A Small Yet Soul-Crushing Illustration of Donald Trump’s Utter Economic Illiteracy

A Small Yet Soul-Crushing Illustration of Donald Trump’s Utter Economic Illiteracy

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

The full transcript of Donald Trump's Wall Street Journal interview, which leaked to Politico, is enough to make anyone spiral into despair—like most performances from our president, it's full of moments that illustrate his tenuous grasp of reality. As Slate's official economics correspondent, though, there was one section that left me especially crestfallen—in just one short paragraph of word salad, he delivers a subtle but telling demonstration of his total ignorance on how economies work.

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Here's the passage. Trump is trying to explain that he thinks the United States is growing too slowly compared with the rest of the world, and therefore we need to cut our corporate tax rate to 15 percent. I've bolded the key part.

So I’ll call, like, major—major countries, and I’ll be dealing with the prime minister or the president. And I’ll say, how are you doing? Oh, don’t know, don’t know, not well, Mr. President, not well. I said, well, what’s the problem? Oh, GDP 9 percent, not well. And I’m saying to myself, here we are at like 1 percent, dying, and they’re at 9 percent and they’re unhappy. So, you know, and these are like countries, you know, fairly large, like 300 million people. You know, a lot of people say—they say, well, but the United States is large. And then you call places like Malaysia, Indonesia, and you say, you know, how many people do you have? And it’s pretty amazing how many people they have. So China’s going to be at 7 or 8 percent, and they have a billion-five, right? So we should do really well.
But in order to do that – you know, it’s tax reform, but it’s a big tax cut. But it’s simplification, it’s reform, and it’s a big tax cut, 15 –

At some point, it appears Donald Trump heard somebody say that the United States cannot grow as fast as China or Malaysia because we have a “large” economy. No doubt, what they meant is that the U.S. is a highly developed, rich nation and therefore can't expand as quickly as developing countries that can still reap large gains from taking basic steps to improve their living standards. But Trump did not understand it that way. He apparently thought that when whoever he was listening to said “large,” they were talking about population. Therefore, in his mind, if China grows at nearly 7 percent per year with its 1.4 billion people, the U.S. should be able to do it too.

This is the man who millions of voters are relying on to bring back jobs. Bottoms up.

Seretta Wilson - Doc - Edie - demo

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Far-right gains by Alternative for Germany and protests cast a shadow over Angela Merkel’s German General Election win

by jlockett @ The Sun

PROTESTS broke out across Germany after the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) became the first nationalist party to win dozens of seats in its parliament since the Second World War. Huge crowds gathered outside  a club where the AfD was celebrating in central Berlin, shouting “Nazis out” and “all of Berlin hates the AfD”. Earlier, […]

Robert Vernon - Game - Far Cry 3 - demo

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Federal Prisons Are Now Required to Supply Tampons & Pads to Inmates For Free

Federal Prisons Are Now Required to Supply Tampons & Pads to Inmates For Free

by Clutch @ Clutch Magazine

Federal prisons are now required to provide female inmates with a range of feminine hygiene products free of charge, according to the Bureau of Prisons. “Wardens have the responsibility to ensure female hygiene products such as tampons or pads are made available for free in...

Stefanie Powers - Advert - Gu Puds - demo

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Simon Green - Advert - Children's Fund - demo

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Facebook Says No Dice To Vlogger Who Insulted A Transgender Dove Ad

Facebook Says No Dice To Vlogger Who Insulted A Transgender Dove Ad


The Daily Caller

Over the weekend, Facebook and YouTube shushed right wing vlogger Mark Dice, effectively crushing his First Amendment rights. Facebook said no dice to the San Diego YouTuber after he declared tha

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Simon Green - Nar - Doc - Megamix - demos

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Charlotte Lucas - Advert - Galaxy - demo

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Simon Green - Drama - Frontline - demo

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Does wearing makeup give you better grades? Episode 119

Does wearing makeup give you better grades? Episode 119

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

Please support the Beauty Brains by signing up for a free audio book at Audible.com. Click here to get your free audio book. Why you should listen to your toothbrush Link Here’s an interesting study that comes to us from the International Journal of Arts and Technology. Two Japanese researchers found that certain types of toothbrush noises […]

Girls as young as four ‘forced’ to wear hijabs as part of uniform at state-funded Islamic schools

by jlockett @ The Sun

GIRLS as young as four are being “forced to wear the hijab” as uniform at state-funded Islamic schools, new research claims. More than two in five Islamic schools in England that accept girls require them to wear the head covering as school uniform, according to the research. Some 59 of 142 (42%) Islamic schools, including […]

Hannah McPake - Advert - Loreal - demo

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The Housing Industry Still Hasn’t Realized It’s Building Too Many Homes for Rich People

The Housing Industry Still Hasn’t Realized It’s Building Too Many Homes for Rich People

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

It's possible to get rich if your business only caters to rich people. But it's hard to have a massive and really successful industry in the United States today if you only cater to rich people. There are only so many people in the country with good credit and lots of cash sitting around. And this week, we got evidence that one of America’s largest industries may be running into trouble because its products appeal only to the upper crust. I’m not talking about jewelry or apparel. I’m talking about housing.

On Tuesday, luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers reported a blow-out quarter, noting that contracts and sales were up 20 percent from the year before, and said it might sell more than 2,500 homes in the upcoming quarter.

On Wednesday, the Census Bureau announced that new home sales in July were down 9.4 percent from June, and down 8.9 percent from July 2016.

On Thursday, the National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales in July fell 1.3 percent in July from June—to an annual rate of 5.44 million. While the rate of sales in July was still up 2.1 percent from July 2016, this was the lowest reading of 2017 to date.

It amounts to a fairly neat summation of the American economy right now. Toll Brothers builds McMansions and expensive condos in and around wealthy urban areas. It caters to a distinctly high-end crowd, and would be psyched if it could sell 10,000 homes in a year. At the company’s Pierhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park building in New York, condos start at $1.5 million. In the most recent quarter, the average price for a Toll Brothers home that went into contract was $837,300. But yuppies, foreigners, millennials with cash, and baby boomers are lining up. In the first nine months of this fiscal year, Toll Brothers sold 22 percent more homes than it did the in the first nine months of the previous fiscal year.

Toll Brothers may not be a typical new homebuilder, but it is clear that the building industry writ large is aiming to pitch its product toward more affluent buyers. Look at the Census’ new home sales release. The median sales price of a newly constructed home sold in July was $313,700, up 7 percent from July 2016. That may not sound like much, especially if you live in an expensive coastal region. But that’s 21 percent higher than the typical price of an existing home. And over the past several years, the building industry has raised prices on its offerings at a pace that has exceeded both the rate of inflation and income growth. In July 2012, the median price of a new home sold was just $232,600. In five years, the price of a median new home has risen by 35 percent. All of which is to say that, with each passing month, the homebuilding industry is pitching its products at a smaller, wealthier demographic slice.

There’s also evidence that existing homes (about 10 times more existing homes are sold each year than new homes) are getting too expensive for buyers. For 65 straight months, the National Association of Realtors notes, the price of existing homes has notched year-over-year gains. In July, the median existing-home price for all housing types, the group says, was $258,300, up 6.2 percent from $243,200 in July 2016. Four years ago, the median existing home price was a mere $213,000. Which means that prices of existing homes have risen 21 percent in the past four years. Because income growth for typical Americans—the type of people who buy typical homes—has been stagnant, this means that as the market continues to rise, fewer and fewer people can afford to bid on and purchase existing homes.

To their credit, in this expansion, the mortgage industry has not responded to the rising challenge of affordability by massively lowering its standards or by offering no-money down mortgages and other exotic lending instruments. By and large, if you want to buy a house today, you’ve got to come up with a meaningful down payment and show good credit. Of course, there are a limited number of people in the U.S. who have $40,000 or $50,000 in cash lying around to make a down payment.

Clearly, there is something of a housing shortage in the United States. One of the reasons that the price of existing homes is rising so rapidly is that there isn’t much supply. The number of existing homes for sale fell 9 percent from July 2016 to July 2017, and, at 1.92 million, represents a meager 4.2 months of supply.

The solution to the problem is for developers to increase the supply of affordable homes, and to bring large numbers of homes to the market that are closer in price to existing homes. But there’s no evidence that is happening. In July, 9,000 new homes worth more than $500,000 were sold in the U.S.—only 8,000 homes worth less than $200,000 were.

Matthew Williamson - Ad - Smirnoff - Demo

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What Happened to the Two Reservoirs That Were Supposed to Protect Downtown Houston?

What Happened to the Two Reservoirs That Were Supposed to Protect Downtown Houston?

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

If you look at a satellite image of Harris County, Texas, where subdivisions cascading west into the Katy Prairie have helped make the Houston area the country’s fastest growing metropolitan region since 1980, you can see two large green splotches on either side of the Katy Freeway. These are the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, evidence of how Houston’s planning has been overwhelmed by unregulated urban growth and a storm no one thought possible.

On Sunday night, as Houston sank beneath record rainfall, the Army Corps of Engineers, which runs the reservoirs, announced it would begin releasing water from the dams. That means more water heading into Buffalo Bayou, the river that drains much of the Harris County watershed into the sea.

You may have seen photos of Buffalo Bayou: Normally it’s a small creek that winds through a lovely park in central Houston, running toward the Houston Ship Channel on the city’s eastern edge. On Sunday it was a sprawling mass of brown water, swallowing highways and neighborhoods in its tide. The bayou was expected to crest at 14 feet above its previous record high.

Addicks and Barker were built to protect downtown Houston and keep water out of Buffalo Bayou. So why in the world is the Army Corps opening the gates?

In part because even as Buffalo Bayou surges downtown, the back ends of the reservoirs have begun to push into residential neighborhoods upstream. The reservoirs are filling faster than they can empty, so despite the Corps releasing more water downstream, the pool is expanding upstream. The flooding is increasing on either side of the dams. There are three places for the water to go: through the dam gates, down the emergency spillways along the sides of the dams, and upstream into the neighborhoods. Officials think the water will likely go in all three directions, though ultimately it all ends up in Buffalo Bayou. It’s a balancing act to make sure this happens in the most controlled way possible.

When Addicks and Barker were completed, just after the second world war, Houston had recently endured two cataclysmic downtown floods, in 1929 and 1935. The reservoirs—mostly dry, wooded areas with creeks running through them—could be plugged up to stall whole swaths of the watershed from reaching Buffalo Bayou.

But as development has sprawled west along the Katy Freeway, more and more water is being funneled into the region’s creeks, filling the reservoirs faster. "Of the 10 largest pools that have accumulated in the reservoirs, nine have occurred since 1990 and six of those were since 2000,” ProPublica wrote last year.

Meanwhile, developers swooped in and built tract houses up to the very brink of the reservoirs, which appear in dry times to be forests. It’s probably a very pleasant place to live, except when it isn’t. During last year’s Tax Day floods, those subdivisions on the reservoirs’ western edges flooded. Now they are flooding again. None are in the 100-year floodplain. Most are in the 500-year floodplain, areas that FEMA predicts will flood once every 500 years. They are not obligated to have flood insurance. They have flooded two years in a row.

Those homes should probably never have been built. Now they’ll be flooded for quite some time: “Homes upstream will be impacted for an extended period of time while water is released from the reservoirs,” the Corps wrote in a press release. The reservoirs will take between one to three months to drain.

How “Press One for English” Became an Anti-Immigrant Meme

How “Press One for English” Became an Anti-Immigrant Meme

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

In August, White House adviser Stephen Miller unveiled Donald Trump’s new immigration plan, a points-based proposal that would favor English-speaking immigrants. In an ensuing confrontation with Miller, CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta accused the administration of “bringing a ‘Press One for English’ philosophy to immigration.”

Acosta was alluding to a right-wing grievance that’s as common as it is curious: that when English-speaking Americans call an automated customer service hotline, they are forced to press a key just to be allowed to speak English. (Para Español, oprima el dos.)

If you’re an American who’s worried about immigration, customer service lines are a convenient transmitter of immigration anxiety you may not actively experience in your everyday life. “Does it bother anyone besides me to call a business with a question or for technical support and have to press one for English or press 2 for….?” Rick Robertson asked in July, in a letter to the Clarion-Ledger. “We shouldn’t have to press ‘one’ for English,” Orwell, New York resident Brenda LaRue told Syracuse.com in March. Neither lives in a county where more than 3 in 100 residents is Latino.

Conservative columnists have picked up the refrain. In a widely shared column that ran during the presidential campaign, talk radio host Howie Carr wrote, “You may be a deplorable if you don’t think you should have to press one for English.” The whole anecdote has become a sympathetic symbol of white resentment projected as a kind of staple experience of alienation in the new multicultural America. “Plenty of Americans do see the increasing prevalence of foreign cultures in the U.S., including Hispanic culture, as an unwelcome invasion,” wrote the Atlantic’s Molly Ball. “They resent having to press 1 for English when they call customer service.”

How did this trivial annoyance, which seems more suited to an Andy Rooney segment than serious political commentary, became a right-wing meme? Many accommodations for the world’s second-largest Spanish-speaking population—the U.S. has more Spanish speakers than any country but Mexico—are largely hidden: Spanish-language baseball broadcasts, or Barack Obama doing a Spanish-language television ad. Online, UPS and Amazon both offer parallel Spanish-language interfaces that the average Anglo customer wouldn’t even know exist. But while Spanish-language functionality in customer service reflects corporate priorities for national companies like American Airlines and Verizon, it conveys national demographics to callers who may not have other interactions with immigrants to draw on. (Ironically, English-language callers to U.S. companies may find themselves speaking to deported Dreamers whose excellent English makes them stellar call-service employees in, say, El Salvador.)

And Americans are particularly sensitive about language. A Pew survey conducted in the spring of 2016 and released in January found that 7 in 10 Americans believe it’s important to speak English to be “truly American”—making English a more valued trait than religion, ethnicity, or cultural affinity. (Though several European countries consider language to be more important still.) “If you ask people to define American cultural identity, people will give you all kinds of fuzzy answers,” says Tomás Jiménez, a professor of sociology at Stanford. “But even the most strident multiculturalists will say that people should speak English.”

There’s also a trope that current immigrants don’t want to learn English as much as their predecessors did, says Deborah Schildkraut, whose 2007 book, Press “ONE” for English, explores the role of English in American identity. The perception is entirely inaccurate, Schildkraut says. In her research, she’s found that many immigrants have to sit on waitlists to enter English classes, sometimes for years. But for Anglophone Americans, language still strikes a chord. “Even people who are sympathetic to immigrants, this is the one issue that gets them,” she notes.

But while it may be annoying for native-born Americans to endure a momentary Spanish-language direction, it can be downright debilitating for immigrants who don’t speak English well to attempt to use customer service in a language they don’t understand. (Ask an American who has lived abroad.) Government forms and ISP helplines may make a convenient symbol, but no one ever learned English by talking to a representative from Delta Airlines—or decided they didn’t have to because that representative spoke Spanish.

For companies, the adoption of Spanish in customer service calls is an example of what Tod Famous, the director of product management at CISCO, called “market-driven multiculturalism.” As we’ve seen with corporate America’s blanket support of the gay rights movement, capitalism looks out for minorities because minorities are customers. “They’re just trying to make more money,” says Famous, whose company provides an automated call-response platform that companies can then customize individually. “The call center community is insular, and they’re all copying each other. Respect for language affinity improves customer loyalty. If you offer them options, they will be more likely to stay with you.” If there’s collateral damage in including Spanish-language prompts, the math doesn’t show it—no matter how many people complain about having to press one for English.

And that’s another thing about “Press One.” Do companies really make their Anglophone customers actively choose English? Turns out that hardly anyone does. In fact, if pressing one for English was ever a thing, it has ceased to exist at most of America’s largest companies. I called Albertsons, Apple, Amazon, American Airlines, Best Buy, Bank of America, Citibank, CVS, Dell, DHL, FedEx, Mars, Samsung, Spectrum-TWC, Target, T-Mobile, United Healthcare, UPS, Verizon, and Walmart. Blogs will tell you that some of these companies once forced customers to choose English. Today, none of them do. Most quickly tell you, in Spanish, how to proceed in that language. “Marque el nueve,” “Oprima el dos.” A handful—Albertsons, Amazon, Apple, Mars, Samsung, United Airlines, and Walmart—do not even offer Spanish. The only large company I found that asked callers to select English was Starbucks which also offers, inscrutably, French.

“Typically you’ll get a welcome message that says to speak in Spanish, say Spanish or press one, some combination,” says Judi Halperin, a principal consultant at Avaya. “I’ve never in 20-something years dealt with a system where you had to press one for English. I’m sure at some point it was there, but as time progressed and we started getting more and more experience, the last thing you want to do is get in the way of the caller.”

That tiny, short-lived impediment was spun out into an enduring web of resentment. What some white Americans perceive as a roadblock, in reality, constitutes a crucial bridge for their neighbors—1 in 8 Americans—whose native language is Spanish.

Horse racing tips: Kempton, Leicester and Hamilton – Steve Mullen’s betting preview for Monday, September 25

by hfuller @ The Sun

HAMILTON 1.40 GREEN HOWARD gets the nod in what looks a tough race to crack. He wasn’t beaten far in very testing conditions here last time and will prefer this sounder surface. He had earlier gone close off this mark at Ripon and has no problem with the distance. 2.10 RASTACAP was pretty impressive when […]

Dan Blaskey - Nar/Doc/Dr - MEGAMIX - demos

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The U.S. Might Not Have Enough Construction Workers to Rebuild Houston After Harvey

The U.S. Might Not Have Enough Construction Workers to Rebuild Houston After Harvey

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

The disaster that is Tropical Storm Harvey is still ongoing. It will be some time before the waters recede and the effect on Houston can be fully assessed. But it is already clear the damage to property will be immense. Tens of thousands of structures were impacted by floodwaters. Eventually, Houston will require massive cleanup, demolition, and reconstruction of individual homes, large buildings, and infrastructure.

The first concern will be the financial resources necessary: Will insurance companies cover all the losses, and how much of them? How will the federal government’s heavily indebted flood insurance program come up with the cash to pay claims? And how much additional assistance will the federal government provide?

There’s another problem: a lack of human resources. It takes a lot of labor to remove debris after a storm and then reinstall Sheetrock and drywall, rebuild floors, and fix electrical and plumbing systems. The work is resistant to automation. And it is but one way in which Houston, which was poorly situated to deal with a hurricane, may also be poorly situated to recover from it.

The issue is that the United States is suffering from a shortage of workers generally, and specifically from a shortage of workers with some of the necessary skills to assist in disaster recovery.

Let’s review. With the U.S. economy having created jobs for a record 82 months, there are 146.6 million people with payroll jobs. The unemployment rate is 4.3 percent. At the end of June, the Labor Department reports, there were a record 6.16 million jobs open in the U.S. (That compares with about 4 million in August 2005, when Katrina hit.) Put another way, it’s harder to find labor in the U.S. right now than at any point in recent history.

But that’s not the whole story. There are particular shortages in the types of trades that get called into action after a disaster. America’s construction labor force has undergone a sea change in the past decade. When the housing bust came, hundreds of thousands of roofers and other skilled and unskilled tradespeople were laid off. Because the recovery was remarkably slow, many went on to find work in different industries. Many construction workers had come to the United States (legally and illegally) from Mexico and Central America to work in the boom years, and in the bust years some of them went home. Others were deported. And in recent years, the flow of new potential workers has slowed down significantly. The result: As the U.S. housing and construction recovery has chugged on, it has become more difficult to hire construction workers. In June, there were some 225,000 open construction jobs in the U.S., up 31 percent from June 2016.

All over the United States, in Colorado, in Nebraska, and elsewhere, construction companies have been complaining that they can’t find enough labor to do their job. The National Association of Home Builders reports that 77 percent of builders are facing a shortage of framing crews while 61 percent are grappling with a shortage of drywall installation workers and 45 percent report a shortage of weatherization workers. The problem is particularly acute in Texas, where the housing industry has been powered by consistent population and job growth and whose service industries are disproportionately reliant on immigrant labor. Last fall, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “In Dallas, the King of Texas Roofing Co. says it has turned down $20 million worth of projects in the past two years because it doesn’t have enough workers.”

In the aftermath of natural disasters, first responders and recovery crews flood the zone on a temporary basis. But reconstruction, cleanup, and recovery requires many thousands of workers who can stay for many months or more. FEMA Administrator Brock Long told CNN that “FEMA is going to be there for years.” Houston will require a surge of employment—tens of thousands of people. It will have to find places for them to live, since so much of the housing stock is damaged. And it will likely have to pay them above-market wages, because it will need to lure them away from existing jobs.

And given the Trump administration’s hostility to Latinos and desire to ramp up deportations, it’s unlikely that what worked in previous disasters will work again. Back in 2007, the Washington Post reported on a Tulane and University of California, Berkeley, study that found some 100,000 Hispanic workers thronged into the Gulf Coast region in the wake of Katrina, many of them undocumented.

Houston will need a similar migration for it to recover. In 2017, from where will those workers come?

Dan Blaskey - Nar - Brand New Friend - demo

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Obamacare Repeal Might Be Dead. Trump’s Effort to Sabotage the Law Is Very Much Alive.

Obamacare Repeal Might Be Dead. Trump’s Effort to Sabotage the Law Is Very Much Alive.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Obamacare repeal appears to be dead. Again. Maybe. For the time being anyway. But in the meantime, the Trump administration is still moving forward with its backup plan to simply sabotage the law’s exchanges by making sure the fewest possible people sign up for coverage.

Their latest move? Simply shutting down healthcare.gov on days when people are likely to shop for health coverage. Phil Galewitz of Kaiser Health News has tweeted that Department of Health and Human Services is planning to close the site from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. on most of the upcoming Sundays during open enrollment, which is only supposed to last a brief 45 days this year, thanks to a rule the administration released in April.

A Department of Health and Human services spokesperson told me in an email that the shutdowns were routine “maintenance outages” scheduled for the “lowest-traffic time periods.” Here was the full statement:

Maintenance outages are regularly scheduled on HealthCare.gov every year during open enrollment. This year is no different. The maintenance schedule was provided in advance this year in order to accommodate requests from certified application assisters. System downtime is planned for the lowest-traffic time periods on HealthCare.gov including Sunday evenings and overnight.

However, Frank Baitman, a former chief information officer for HHS, seems to think the downtimes are unnecessary.

Other Obama administration health policy alums likewise appear to be aghast.

As Slavitt’s tweet points out, this is only the latest move by the administration to try and prevent Americans from signing up for health insurance on Obamacare’s exchanges, either by curtailing outreach or making the markets to harder to access. Last month, news broke that the Department of Health and Human Services would cut Obamacare’s ad budget by 90 percent, while slashing spending on “navigators” who help people sign up for insurance by 40 percent. Any one of these moves might not prove crippling to the law. But collectively, you can see how they might begin to add up.

Anyway, welcome to 2017, in which we have an executive branch fighting tooth and nail to make it harder for Americans to buy the health insurance to which they’re legally entitled.

Would the GOP’s “Skinny Repeal” Bill Really Wreck the Insurance Market?

Would the GOP’s “Skinny Repeal” Bill Really Wreck the Insurance Market?

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

At some point in the next day or so, Senate Republicans are expected to vote on their Plan C for killing Obamacare—“skinny repeal.” Nobody knows exactly what is in the bill yet, because it was still being written Thursday afternoon. But the rough idea is to wrap a handful of ideas the entire GOP can support into a piece of bare-bones legislation that avoids controversial issues like cuts to Medicaid that have split the party's moderates and conservatives. Above all, it would end the Affordable Care Act's requirement that all Americans buy insurance lest they pay a tax penalty—aka the individual mandate. It would also “partially” repeal the employer mandate requiring businesses to offer their workers coverage. Beyond that, it would make changes around the ACA’s edges.

In theory, this splinter of a bill is not supposed to reach Donald Trump's desk. Republicans are being asked to vote for it merely to keep the repeal process alive, allowing the House and Senate to meet in a conference committee to craft a final, more robust piece of legislation. But at this point, it's not clear that Republicans are actually capable of coming up with anything better. The Senate GOP has been unable to muster 50 votes for any kind of comprehensive plan to replace Obamacare. And even if those votes existed, it's becoming increasingly clear that procedural hurdles would get in the way. If Republicans are determined to notch a win—loosely defined—on health care, Congress may have to pass skinny repeal and call it a day.

What would that mean for health insurance in this country? Nothing good. The individual mandate, while politically loathed, is still the keystone that makes Obamcare's extremely popular consumer protections hold together. Republicans would remove it while leaving in place the regulations that bar insurers from rejecting or charging more to customers with pre-existing conditions. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that such a plan could cause insurance premiums to rise by an additional 20 percent within a year, as young and healthy Americans dropped their coverage, leaving behind a pool of sicker enrollees with higher medical costs. Eventually, the CBO believes 16 million more Americans would be left uninsured—some by choice, and others because they were priced out of the market.

To be clear, that 16 million figure shouldn't be taken as gospel. According to a chart the CBO provided congressional Democrats, the office thinks that by 2021, 5 million fewer Americans would have individual coverage, 4 million fewer would have insurance through their employer, and 6 million fewer would have it through Medicaid. (Presumably, there are unseen decimal points in there that round up the total to 16 million.) The Medicaid number is probably the most controversial part of that prediction, since it doesn't make a ton of intuitive sense that killing a mandate to buy insurance would drive people off a government safety net program. But Medicaid has a lot of turnover each year; people sign up for it and drop off when they find work or other insurance options. And it's entirely possible that without the mandate, some people would never discover they were eligible for Medicaid in the first place, because they would never go looking to find a health plan. Whether it would actually cause the program to shrink by 6 million heads is hard to say.

The bigger question is whether the insurance markets in some parts of the country would collapse entirely. We know that forcing insurers to cover the sick without making everybody buy coverage works poorly because several states tried it prior to Obamacare. Premiums skyrocketed as enrollment in the individual market shrank. But the difference today is that Obamacare provides insurance subsidies that cap premiums as a percentage of a household's income. As a result, there will almost always be some people ready to buy insurance no matter how high premiums shoot up, since the government will pay most of their tab. It seems very unlikely the insurance market would plunge into a full-fledged, nationwide death spiral, where rising premiums drive out the vast majority of healthy customers, and insurers are forced to abandon the market or charge unaffordable prices.

Even so, killing the individual mandate would be sure to rock the insurance market (which is why insurers are shouting apocalyptically about it). First, Obamacare's subsidies cut off for families that make more than 400 percent of the poverty line, or about $82,000 for a family of three; the millions of Americans currently paying full price for their insurance would get gouged. Second, even with subsidies around to act as a cushion, insurers might decide to abandon some parts of the country anyway. Remember, there are already some counties that could end up with zero carriers offering health plans on their exchanges next year. If skinny repeal passes, it wouldn't be surprising if that pain spreads further. We wouldn't see a coast-to-coast death spiral, but we might witness a few localized ones.

That sort of dysfunction might still be preferable to the House or Senate plans to replace Obamacare, which would have dealt a generational blow to the safety net by slashing hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid. But skinny repeal is still bad policy. It's a slight piece of legislation that could deal some heavy damage.

Commentaires sur Waxing, a social norm that’s been accommodated for half a century par Sissi

by Sissi @ Commentaires pour Womenology

Complètement déprimant ! Un sexe sans poils, c'est la mort définitive de l'érotisme, une sexualité infantile et régressive. Quand je pense que les femmes vont maintenant jusqu'à réclamer l'épilation du sexe aux hommes... l'égalité dans une érotique fade, apeurée et aseptisée, des sexes d'enfants pour tout le monde... Il faut réagir !

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The Last Place in America Without an Obamacare Insurer Lined Up for Next Year Just Got One

The Last Place in America Without an Obamacare Insurer Lined Up for Next Year Just Got One

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

As of now, every county in the United States now has at least one health insurer lined up to offer coverage on its Affordable Care Act exchange next year.

CareSource, a nonprofit health insurer, announced Thursday morning that it would offer Obamacare coverage in Ohio's Paulding County, the last remaining market that lacked a carrier for the 2018 open enrollment season. CareSource has previously said it would step in to provide insurance options for 20 other counties within Ohio that were at risk of being left bare.

At various points this year, more than 90 counties across the country have faced a serious chance of ending up stranded without any insurers offering marketplace coverage for 2018. While those communities represented a relatively a small number of enrollees—there are more than 3,000 counties in the United States—their problems were a potent political symbol and have often been cited by Republicans as evidence that Obamacare was either facing an imminent crisis or failing outright.

It is still technically possible that insurers will decide to pull out of some markets before late September, when they must sign contracts with the federal government to offer coverage on the exchanges. Many will almost certainly run for the exits if President Trump follows through on his threat to cut off important subsidies to insurance companies, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, that have been challenged in court (which is why it'd be nice if that bipartisan stabilization bill a few senators are working on actually comes to fruition). Moreover, it's still unclear how sustainable the Obamacare markets are long term in the small, rural counties that have had the most trouble securing insurers.

But for now, Obamacare's most immediate problem seems to have been solved. Take victories where you can, I guess.

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Sara Markland - Training - demo

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“If brands do decide to address gays, they don’t include lesbians”

by aufeminin @ Womenology

A meeting with Amandine Miguel, spokesperson for Inter LGBT, head of Lesbian Visibility What do you think of gay marketing (brands who particularly target the homosexual community)? Firstly, it is wrong to think that the “gay marketing” label includes all …

Continuer la lecture

The post “If brands do decide to address gays, they don’t include lesbians” appeared first on Womenology.

Robin Cousins - Documentary - demo

Robin Cousins - Documentary - demo

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It’s generally mothers who teach their daughters how to cook – and in doing so strongly influence their eating patterns, even as adults

by aufeminin @ Womenology

A qualitative study led by CREDOC in March 2004, on 26 mother-daughter duos, confirms that the majority of the time, mothers are the ones who introduce their daughters to cooking and to flavours. What’s less intuitive, however, is that these …

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Robert Vernon - Game - Joker - demo

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Seretta Wilson - Drama - US - demo

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Surgeon holds his neck in pain after being ‘stabbed outside Manchester mosque as he arrived for evening prayers’

by dcollins @ The Sun

A TOP surgeon winced in pain after being stabbed “in broad daylight” outside a Manchester mosque as he arrived for evening prayers. The victim, named locally as orthopaedic surgeon Dr Nasser Kurdy, 58, was knifed outside Altrincham’s Islamic Centre at around 6pm by who man who shouted “abusive” comments. Police said they are treating the […]

Dove, please for the love of God, stop making videos and just make soap

Dove, please for the love of God, stop making videos and just make soap


The Daily Dot

Dove, please for the love of God, stop making videos and just make soap.

Americans Are Overpaying for Insurance Because Obamacare Is Too Confusing

Americans Are Overpaying for Insurance Because Obamacare Is Too Confusing

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Millions of Americans who would qualify for financial help to buy health insurance under Obamacare seem to be leaving that money on the table by purchasing coverage that's ineligible for assistance, according to a new paper published in the journal Health Affairs.

Why are so many people turning down government help? In short, we don't know for sure. But the study, authored by researchers from the Urban Institute and Michigan State University, raises a familiar issue with the health law. For many insurance shoppers, Obamacare may just be too confusing.

If you're reading this article, chances are you're familiar with the Affordable Care Act's online insurance exchanges—the state and federal websites, like healthcare.gov, where Americans can compare plans and buy coverage every open enrollment season. Most Americans who buy insurance on the individual market now use these portals, and for good reason: In order to qualify for Obamacare's coverage subsidies, you have to get your insurance through an official exchange.

Nonetheless, there are still millions of Americans who have continued to buy their coverage off the exchange. Often, the plans they choose are identical to what's offered on ACA's marketplaces. The running assumption among health care experts I've talked to over time was that the vast majority of those customers probably made too much money to receive any government help, since only families that earn between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty line are eligible for Obamacare's tax credits. For those not getting a subsidy, it might be easier and less of a time suck to buy directly from an insurer, rather than log on to healthcare.gov and fill out a long form. They may also be able to find insurance options with slightly wider networks or other advantages.

Except, it turns out that a lot of those Americans shopping off the exchanges would qualify for subsidies. Using the data from the National Health Interview Survey, the Michigan State and Urban Institute team estimated that 6.3 million nonelderly adults bought their insurance coverage outside Obamacare's marketplaces in 2015. Almost 41 percent of them reported incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty line—meaning they should have been tax credit eligible. Almost 19 percent earned less than 250 percent of the poverty line, meaning they would have qualified for special subsidized plans that lowered their out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and co-pays.

But for some reason, they said no thanks.

For a number of consumers, that may have been a rational choice. Many younger, healthier Americans, for instance, have chosen to skip the exchanges and buy inexpensive, short-term health plans that don't meet Obamacare's regulatory standards. These policies don't cover pre-existing health conditions and can include lifetime caps on coverage. As a result, the federal government doesn't actually consider them insurance, and those who buy them still have to pay the individual mandate's tax penalty for the uninsured. Even with that added cost, short-term plans may be more affordable for some.

Still, it seems fairly obvious that some people are simply overpaying for coverage because they don't know any better. "I have to think a lot of them just aren't aware they could get better deals buying through the exchange," the study's lead author, Michigan State economist John Goddeeris, told Modern Healthcare. "Probably a good number of people are making a mistake."

This is not the first study to suggest that millions may be unwittingly forgoing Obamacare's financial assistance. A January Health Affairs study found that 31 percent of Californians who bought insurance on the individual market in 2014 missed out on the ACA's premium tax credits or cost-sharing subsidies either because they bought insurance off the exchange, or chose the wrong kind of plan. One clue about what might have gone wrong: People who qualified for aid but bought off-exchange coverage anyway were less likely to have gotten help from an insurance counselor. Meanwhile, in a 2015 survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 59 percent of the uninsured said they either did not know about Obamacare's tax credits, or didn't understand them.

The ACA has done an enormous amount of good by helping millions obtain health insurance they otherwise couldn't afford. But it's also a complicated policy contraption that assumes a relatively savvy consumer, and without extensive public education, many people are simply going to miss out on its benefits. Even the Obama White House seems to have failed at adequately spreading the word, which may well have hurt the law politically; it's easy to imagine that some voters who were enraged by rising premiums didn't realize the government was there waiting to give them a tax credit. Now, the ACA is being run by an administration that has spent months gradually sabotaging the law for political gain, and will almost surely cut back on outreach. I'm guessing the number of people paying more than they should for coverage is about to rise even higher.

What CEOs Can Suffer

What CEOs Can Suffer

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Slowly, and then all at once. That’s how President Trump’s CEO councils—the Strategic and Policy Forum and the American Manufacturing Council—came apart on Wednesday in the wake of Trump’s disastrous press conference.

It wasn’t because the nation’s executive class collectively woke up at exactly the same time. Rather, it was because Trump’s behavior and the very nature of the role of a modern American CEO made their positions on any body connected to Trump untenable.

I’m generalizing here, but bear with me. Typically CEOs of large organizations are actually quite constrained considering the power they have and the very high compensation they earn. They spend a lot of time doing things they’re supposed to do, behaving the way they’re supposed to behave, and saying things they’re supposed to say. At shareholder meetings or on earnings calls, they talk about how they’re really working hard for shareholders and thinking about the long term. In China, they marvel at the remarkable progress and bright future they see. At employee all-hands meetings, they talk up diversity and inclusion. At the World Economic Forum, they nod earnestly and pledge to reduce emissions. After elections, they express their willingness to work with the new president, no matter how bitter the campaign was. And when they’re called to the White House and Washington, they discuss the need for common-sense solutions to the big issues that plague America.

Of course, many (though by no means all) of them don’t actually care much about diversity or shareholders or Washington. You get to be a CEO because you have the ability to focus like a laser on running your division or your unit or your company to make a profit. You’re passionate about winning sales, gaining market share, doing deals, competing, and getting paid. But part of the deal is that in order to do all of those things these days, you have to adhere closely to the script.

And that’s why when a CEO goes off script—like, say, when the CEO of a big private equity firm compares mild increases in marginal tax rates to Hitler invading Poland, or when the CEO

of a giant software firm rampages on stage like a pro wrestler—it’s so noteworthy.

Typically CEOs can carry off their roles with fairly little cognitive dissonance. Having a more diverse and inclusive workforce generally leads to better results, and helps you market to an America that is increasingly diverse. To a large degree, measures that reduce emissions and promote sustainability actually save money and improve profits. When Washington does policy right and puts resources behind it, it can have huge benefits for companies and entire industries. So mouthing expected bromides about these issues is no big deal—and maybe even helps the bottom line.

But President Trump is a person who almost never says what he’s supposed to say. During the campaign, he flagrantly violated norms regarding the way you talk about women, minorities, and foreigners; he scoffed at the concepts of diversity, inclusion, and climate change; he let China have it constantly. His refusal to adhere to the script was, in fact, one of the reasons that so few CEOs of big companies publicly supported him.

Once Trump was elected, the convention called for CEOs to show up when invited. But that mismatch between Trump’s behavior and the norms and behaviors that CEOs have internalized made the meetings incredibly awkward. Look at that iconic photo of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sitting in Trump Tower with the president-elect and other tech CEOs—you can see the cognitive dissonance on their faces. They knew they were supposed to show up. But they recognized that the professed values and beliefs of the person they were sitting with differed from the values they publicly espoused (and, in many instances, privately held).

In the intervening months, Trump has done little to ease that tension. All the while, CEOs continued to defend their engagement and association with Trump with the bromides typical of their position. “We have a responsibility to engage our elected officials,” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said, explaining why he would remain on Trump’s business advisory council even though Trump had just announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. On Tuesday, Newell CEO Michael Polk said he would stay on Trump’s manufacturing council because he wanted to retain a “voice in the conversation.” A spokesman for Michael Dell this week said he would continue to “engage with the Trump administration and governments around the world to share our perspective on policy issues that affect our company, customers and employees.”

But the highly public actions by some CEOs to quit the councils earlier this week—and to call out Trump’s coddling of racists as they did so—and Trump’s bizarre statements on Tuesday defending white nationalists made these protestations laughable and untenable. What’s the point of engaging with someone who expresses views that would likely be cause for the dismissal of any middle manager? What sort of bipartisan policy is possible in an administration run by this president? What’s the point of serving as a prop in somebody else’s show? And how do you justify it to your shareholders, colleagues, employees, and family?

Simple: You don’t.

How often should I exfoliate my face?

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

Susan says… My question (& I’m sure other’s too) is how often should we exfoliate? With ever increasing choice in exfoliators on the market and differing advice as to regularity of use (sometimes as a marketing ploy to buy more product), ideally how often should we be exfoliating? Are we doing more harm than good […]

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Marco Snow - Ad - MEGAMIX - Demo

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Benefit mascara – how to find a cheaper version

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

Ellen inquires…What is the best mascara? I use Benefit’s “They’re Real!” and for me, it does what it says – no flaking, smudging, comes off with a little oil. But it is about 22 dollars. Is there a less expensive brand with similar characteristics? They all make the same claim! I have had to try […]

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Richard Attlee - Advert - Oxfam - demo

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Dove’s new ad celebrating female body shapes, sizes and beauty gets slammed on social media

Dove’s new ad celebrating female body shapes, sizes and beauty gets slammed on social media


The Indian Express

"But why are all of the bottles still white?", "What happens if you use the wrong Dove bottle shape for my body type? Will the soap not fit me? Can I die?" are some of the hilarious comebacks to the Dove UK advertisement.

Robert Vernon - Game - Assassins Creed - demo

Robert Vernon - Game - Assassins Creed - demo

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Can nail polish really be healthy?

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

KrisInPhilly asks…Can nail polish, like from Remedy Nails, be “healthy”? Is their claim that they have the most unique polish on the market true? The Beauty Brains respond Kris thanks for such a great question. I just wish I had a definitive answer about Remedy Nails. Healthy polish? I had trouble finding much information about how […]

Robert Vernon - Documentary - Desert Giants - demo

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Our Corporate Tax System Is a Mess. Republicans Might Just Make It Worse.

Our Corporate Tax System Is a Mess. Republicans Might Just Make It Worse.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

At the moment, Republicans still insist that they want to pass a tax reform bill by the end of the year. Not just a tax cut, mind you, but a full-fledged reform package that will clear out the countless deductions, loopholes, and special-interest carve-outs that have turned our corporate tax code into a sieve.

In theory, this is a completely unobjectionable goal. The United States could use a more rational tax system that leaves businesses on more even footing with one another, regardless of how many pricey lawyers and accountants they hire. Unfortunately, it's not clear the GOP's plans will move the country in that direction. In some respects, it could make the problems with our current tax code even worse.

Republicans often complain that the United States has the rich world's highest corporate tax rate, topping out at 35 percent, which they argue drives business investment and jobs overseas. But that figure is largely an illusion, thanks to the vast array of deductions that companies can claim and the ability of multinationals to shelter their profits offshore. Analysts typically find that, when all is said and done, U.S. corporations pay an average rate somewhere between 22 and 29 percent, which, depending on whose estimates you rely on, may or may not be in line with our peer nations.

The fact that few companies actually pay the top corporate rate isn't something to celebrate, however. It's a sign that our tax code is a bit of a farce. The joke gets worse once you look at how tax rates vary across businesses and industries.

Earlier this year, the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a report in which it analyzed the tax rates paid by members of the Fortune 500 between 2008 and 2015. The authors selected the 258 corporations that were profitable in all eight years to avoid dragging down the average with companies that paid no taxes because they lost money. They found 100 different companies that, despite being consistently profitable, paid zero federal taxes in at least one year, and 18 that paid no taxes in any of the years surveyed. Meanwhile, there were vast differences in average rates between industry. Utility companies paid an average rate of just 3.1 percent; tech companies paid about 20 percent; retailers and wholesalers paid more than 30 percent, as did health care providers.

A good tax code doesn't have to treat every single industry identically. Nobody but a lobbyist, however, would purposely design one in which some kinds of businesses consistently hand over a third of their profits to the IRS while others pay next to nothing. And in case you're skeptical about the findings of a liberal think tank, the U.S. Treasury Department found similar, if slightly less pronounced, disparities when it ran its own analysis on the taxes paid by all profitable corporations with more than $10 million in assets.

It can be hard to pinpoint how specific companies minimize their tax bills, because corporations aren't required to disclose the nitty-gritty of their returns. But ITEP notes a few broad issues. Multinationals are able to park profits in offshore tax havens. This disproportionately benefits large tech firms that earn profits from their intellectual property, since it’s relatively easy for them to shift profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that regularly make large capital investments in machinery and other equipment benefit from rules that let them quickly write off the cost of those purchases. Its not a coincidence that most of the companies ITEP found that paid nothing in federal taxes over all eight years were utilities, which are typically required to make major upgrades each year.

Because Republicans don't have an official tax plan yet, it's impossible to say how many holes in the tax code they'll try to plug. But the indicators so far aren't promising. House Republicans have identified some deductions they want to repeal, which are worth about $171 billion over their first 10 years—not a great deal in the scheme of a corporate tax that's expected to bring in more than $400 billion this year alone. On the big-picture issues, they seem intent on wrenching even bigger gaps in the tax code. Take the issue of tax havens. Right now, the GOP seems intent on moving the U.S. to what's known as a territorial system, where the government wouldn't tax corporations at all on profits earned abroad. This will of course eliminate the need for companies to stash profits in Ireland and the Cayman Islands. But if anything, that will only encourage companies to make like Apple and use accounting gimmicks to shift their U.S. profits overseas. It's like trying to fight shoplifting by making it legal.

Or, consider the advantages those utilities seemingly enjoy. Right now, many Republicans want to make it possible for companies to write off major capital investments even faster by moving to a system of immediate expensing. There may be some economic reasons to favor that idea—it could possibly lead to a bump in corporate investment—but it essentially doubles down on the system that now lets some companies shield their profits from taxes entirely.

“I think it’s fair to say that the Trump plan as we understand it would actually increase the gap between the haves and the have-nots,” ITEP's Matthew Gardner told me. “It would accentuate the preferential treatment that certain sectors of the business world and certain high-income Americans get.”

There is at least one way Republicans are trying to even out the corporate tax code. As of now, they're talking about lowering the top rate by 10 or 15 percentage points. That will at least ensure that companies on the high end of the tax spectrum will pay a bit less. But that's not really a tax reform. It's a plain old cut.

David Jensen - Advert - Anchor Butter

David Jensen - Advert - Anchor Butter

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How We Ruined Airline Jobs

How We Ruined Airline Jobs

by Jeff Friedrich @ Slate Articles

Nobody wants to be a pilot anymore. As the airlines tell it, a so-called pilot shortage has made it impossible to staff their fleets, forcing them to cancel flights and park hundreds of airworthy planes in the desert. One airline ventured to blame its 2016 bankruptcy on its inability to hire enough pilots, and even at always-profitable and carefree Southwest Airlines, the challenge of recruiting millennial aviators keeps middle management awake at night. “The biggest problem,” a Southwest executive told Bloomberg, “is a general lack of interest in folks pursuing this as a career anymore.”

Airline execs tend to make the shortage seem more mysterious than it is, as if something in the contrails is fueling this “general lack of interest” in the profession. That’s evasive. Rather, the shortage is best understood as an obvious manifestation—and perhaps the nadir—of a long-term deprofessionalization of what was once a solidly middle-class career: We made the pilot occupation so unattractive, so tenuous and poorly paid, that people stopped wanting to do it.

Flying, meanwhile, has also become unbearable for passengers. The airlines that survived the volatile decade following 9/11 have since consolidated themselves into a lucrative oligopoly, prompting questions about why smaller cities continue to lose service, why seats keep getting smaller, why fares have remained stubbornly high even as fuel prices dropped and profits soared, and why paying passengers are being quasi-defenestrated from overbooked flights.

The degenerating passenger and pilot experiences aren’t separate phenomena but in fact are intimately related, both resulting from policy choices that have propelled a decadeslong, ongoing makeover of the national air-transit system. The difference, perhaps, is that we are more conscious that we, the passengers, are getting a raw deal.

So are aviation workers, but there is more to the pilot shortage than just pay. Industry representatives are pushing Congress to address the rising cost of pilot training, which can exceed $100,000 after requirements became more stringent in response to a 2009 crash. Competition for pilots has also gone global, causing many young pilots to leave the U.S. to chase more exotic opportunities with Emirates and other Middle Eastern carriers. And there are class-conscious obstacles to recruitment—flying has become less glamorous.

But at the regional airlines where the effects of the pilot shortage are most acute, even management seems to have finally acknowledged that pay matters, as evidenced by their recent efforts to raise starting salaries that paid first-year pilots as little as $15,000 to $20,000. And although many jobs have gotten worse in the past few decades, pilot wage stagnation distinguishes itself in several respects.

First, airline jobs appear to be caught in a steeper free fall. Before President Carter and a Democratic Congress deregulated the airlines in 1978, few industries paid higher wages. In the 1990s, a number of studies reviewed deregulation’s impact on airline wages, attributing decreases in the range of 10 to 20 percent for pilots, and more for flight attendants. While many observers hypothesized that wages would stabilize as the shakeout from deregulation attenuated, wages never managed to find a floor in the decade after 9/11. According to a Government Accountability Office analysis, pilots’ median weekly earnings fell another 9.5 percent from 2000 through 2012—lower wage growth than 74 percent of the other professions included in the GAO’s review.

Nor has this wage erosion been limited to pilots. Today, many flight attendants begin their careers making less than minimum wage—as I did as a flight attendant for Pinnacle Airlines, where I was employed from 2011 to 2013. It’s even worse for those who work outside the aircraft. Average weekly wages for airport operations workers, a category that includes baggage handlers and other support staff, fell by 14 percent from 1991 to 2011—a growth rate that was lower even than the low-wage retail and food service industries, according to a 2013 study. Airline workers also work much harder than they did in the past; the industry had the second highest multifactor productivity growth from 1997 through 2014, according to an analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Declining wages and inequality are sometimes described as an inevitable, deterministic outcome of abstract economic forces, but none of the usual suspects seem to adequately explain what’s happening to airline jobs in the U.S.—not immigration (pilots and flight attendants must speak English), globalization (so-called cabotage laws have limited the scope of international outsourcing), automation (robots haven’t yet displaced pilots), or the decline of unions (union density remains high). How, then, could the airline industry have fared worse than most other industries?

* * *

In the recent history of pilot wages, two related trends have tipped the balance of power between the airlines and their labor force: the proliferation of outsourcing strategies after 9/11 and the consolidation of the country’s major air carriers.

Regional airlines are having the hardest time hiring pilots. These companies, where most pilots now begin their careers, operate almost half of all domestic flights on behalf of major carriers like Delta, United, and American. David Dao was actually kicked off a United flight that was operated by Republic Airways. Though the employees on the plane wore United uniforms, their paycheck came from Republic.

The regional industry grew as a strategic response to the downturn after the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks. The airlines’ losses were unprecedented. Through 2005, the airlines lost more than $50 billion and received more than $5 billion in direct government aid. Four major carriers went bankrupt, and the industry shed more than 100,000 jobs, around 15 percent of its entire workforce.

The 50-seat regional jet played a key role in the industry’s recovery. Until about 1998, smaller airports were served either by larger jets, which were oversized for these markets, or turboprops, which flew slow and not as far. As the airlines attempted to stave off bankruptcy, they began buying a repurposed corporate jet manufactured by Bombardier, the CRJ200. The plane allowed the airlines to better match their smaller markets with demand, which in turn allowed them to redeploy larger planes to more lucrative international routes. The jets could also reach markets that were beyond the reach of the turboprops, allowing airport hubs to expand their customer base.

At first these planes were operated in house or through wholly owned subsidiaries, but after a time the flying was outsourced to independent companies. That strategy was initially constrained by the pilot unions, because collective-bargaining agreements typically limited how much flying could be outsourced.

A standard response emerged: If the unions refused to renegotiate their contracts, the airlines threatened to declare bankruptcy, where they might be judicially absolved from the commitments they had promised to workers. Forced to make concessions, the unions allowed more outsourcing to avoid options that would hurt their current members more, like additional layoffs or pay cuts. Because of these dynamics, every major airline had secured permission to fly more regional jets by the mid-2000s. As a result, regional jet capacity grew by 97 percent between 2000 and 2003, suddenly making these planes an integral part of the system.

Regional airline pilots and flight attendants have always made less than their mainline counterparts, but before 2000, the regional airline workforce was much smaller. In 1978, regional aircraft flew approximately 5 percent of all domestic departures; in 2000, 16 percent; in 2015, 45 percent.

Through outsourcing, the major carriers effectively introduced a permanent secondary scale. The result is that today’s young pilots are embarking on careers that look markedly different from the ones their senior colleagues began a generation ago. Though it’s still possible to make $200,000 flying international routes at a top airline, new pilots must now progress through a regional pay scale before they begin their ascent of a major’s scale, meaning it will take them longer to get to top pay, and their lifetime earnings will ultimately be lower. This helps explain why more than $100,000 in income now separates the top-earning 10 percent of pilots from the lowest-earning decile, a wage differential matched by few occupations.

* * *

Toward the latter half of the 2000s, consolidation played an equally important role in forcing down the pay of entry-level pilots. Though Congress intended for the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 to promote competition, the four largest airlines now find themselves in control of 80 percent of the market. When the reform passed, five airlines controlled 70 percent of the market. This has helped awaken political interest in consumer rights, but less attention has been paid to how airlines could wield market power to depress wages.

In the midaughts, regionals often earned substantial profits, but as the majors struggled through bankruptcies and the 2008 recession, they sought to renegotiate the amount they were paying to the regional carriers, ultimately securing new agreements on much less generous terms. Several concurrent trends also caused the airlines to re-evaluate their reliance on 50-seat regional jets. Most significantly, jet fuel prices rose almost 500 percent between 2002 and 2008. When Bombardier released a larger, 76-seat version of the CRJ200 that had far superior fuel economy, there were suddenly powerful incentives for the airlines to find ways to get rid of their 50-seaters.

Market power made it easier for the airlines to achieve this goal. After the mergers between Delta and Northwest in 2008, United and Continental in 2010, and American and US Airways in 2013, each combined carrier found itself in control of a large fleet of undesirable 50-seat jets. The regionals, on the other hand, had fewer customers to whom they could sell their flying. The majors used their leverage, which resembles what economists call “monopsony power,” to continually bid down the price they paid to regionals.

Delta took an especially aggressive tack, suing three of its regional partners for what it alleged were performance issues, in each case withholding millions of dollars in payments it would have ordinarily owed. This helped force Mesa Airlines into bankruptcy, and all three carriers eventually consented to reworking their agreements with Delta. In the new agreements, Delta sought to pay less for its flying and to retire 50-seat aircraft.

Even as they continued to put downward pressure on regional airline wages, Delta and the other  majors began to earn record profits. Under such conditions in an ordinary market, economists would have expected the majors to face pressure to raise wages (the majors have raised the pay of direct employees, to Wall Street’s occasional chagrin), but outsourcing and market power have positioned the companies to exclude certain workers from their gains.

Certainly, a case can be made that the government should have more closely scrutinized some of the mergers of the past decade. But current antitrust law prioritizes a consumer focus. Prior to deregulation, merger review would have concerned itself with employee welfare, but as currently practiced, questions about monopsony—when there is only one buyer, in this case of labor—still might have escaped the attention of a more vigilant merger review.

In the “hipster antitrust” corner of Twitter, some are arguing for a more expansive form of trustbusting, one that could mitigate the effects corporate concentration appears to be having on wages in certain parts of the economy, and as appears to be happening in the airline industry. It’s a policy solution that deserves more consideration, but for reasons made clear to me by my own experience as a flight attendant, one that might not be enough to arrest the fall of airline wages.

* * *

The airline industry has no formal minimum wage because the Fair Labor Standards Act exempts transportation workers. Because of that, unions are it—the de facto wage floor. The problem is that America’s uniquely permissive bankruptcy laws have undermined the strength of unions.

When I interviewed for my flight attendant position at Pinnacle Airlines in 2010, the hiring manager slid a piece of paper across the table and told me, as if issuing challenge, “That’s how much you’ll make in your first year”—a fairly cinematic way of telling someone their salary is $15,500, though at least she was candid. It compelled me to justify myself, to explain to my interrogators how I planned to live in New York City on so little—less than minimum wage after accounting for the cost of my uniform and unpaid training time.

After I convinced them, I was soon working with pilots who were making about $20,000. Some of them had worked for one or even two failed regional airlines before landing at Pinnacle, where they’d once again found themselves at the bottom of the pay scale.

Nonetheless, when Pinnacle went bankrupt in 2012, a victim of what my CEO termed “a race to the bottom” among the regional carriers, labor became the focus of attention, just as it does in all airline bankruptcies. A judge agreed that the company’s pilots were paid “substantially over market,” granting approval of a reorganization plan that included a 9 percent reduction in pilot pay, plus smaller cuts to flight attendant pay and employee benefits.

As an academic matter, bankruptcy law strives to treat all creditors as equals. But in its actual practice, the law has evolved to allow certain creditors to skip to the front of the line. When that allows one party to successfully evade its fair share of the losses, other parties, including labor, stand to lose more.

Plane financiers, in particular, enjoy special treatment through Section 1110 of the bankruptcy law, a provision that essentially bankruptcy-proofs an airplane, allowing lenders to reclaim an asset that might otherwise be sold in order to pay off other creditors. This protection is unique to the perennially insolvent airline industry and helps explain why the financial industry remains willing to lend it money.

This is a notable intervention into a supposedly “deregulated” industry, and without it the airline industry might require more direct forms of public subsidy. In the case of the regional airline industry, 1110 made it much easier for airlines to make consequence-free escapes from their leases after rising fuel costs made their 50-seat jets less economical.

Labor, conversely, cannot cut the creditor line, and the courts can discharge collective bargaining contracts and employee pensions just like any contractual obligation that isn’t an aircraft. The Supreme Court’s Bildisco decision required the airlines jump through some additional hoops before a judge can allow them to rip up a union contract, but the mere fact of its possibility weakens the bargaining power of unions by making companies less accountable to what they’ve promised workers. Accordingly, the rejection of labor contracts “has not been the mechanism of last resort to save a failing business,” the Air Line Pilots Association told Congress in 2010, “but instead has often been used by employers as a business model to gain long-term economic advantage by unfairly gutting the wages and working conditions of airline and other employees.”

Most other countries’ bankruptcy courts do not work this way. Canada does not let bankrupt companies tear up labor contracts. Some countries jail the executives of bankrupt companies while the boards of insolvent American operators often award “retention bonuses” to their executives. U.S. laws don’t even require bankrupt companies to prove they’re bankrupt, allowing a number of U.S. airlines to enter the process with healthy stores of cash. Of late, as the U.S. airlines have sought to prevent Middle Eastern carriers from securing permissions to serve more U.S. airports, they have pointed out various subsidies these airlines receive from their governments. In response, the Middle Eastern carriers have inventoried the ways in which Chapter 11 shelters U.S. airlines from the free market.

* * *

Even as the airlines have earned record profits in recent years, they’ve canceled or reduced service to cities across the country, quietly rendering a dramatic remapping of the national air transit system. Twenty-three percent of U.S. airports lost more than 20 percent of their flights between 2013 and 2016, and at least 18 airports lost service altogether, according to numbers provided by the Regional Airline Association. The airlines say this is simply the pilot shortage in action, but it’s more accurately understood as the ongoing legacy of the decision to deregulate the industry.

It’s always been tough to make a buck running an airline. In general, the fixed costs of operating any airplane are high, but bigger planes tend to have lower costs per passenger. We have airline hubs because very few pairs of cities are large enough to sustain a high frequency of service using large airplanes. The hubs allow airlines to assemble enough passengers to fill a larger plane, allowing them to profitably increase service between two cities. The academic and former airline executive Michael Levine, one of intellectual forefathers of deregulation, has described hubs as “factories [that] manufacture route density.”

Southwest and other low-cost airlines have famously scorned hubs. They operate as point-to-point operations, mostly flying lucrative routes between major cities, and only as often as they can fill an airplane. By comparison, operating hubs is considerably more expensive and complex. Hub operators—these days Delta, United, and American—have historically recouped these costs by operating as “everywhere to anywhere” airlines. Through the cross-subsidization of routes, consumers paid a premium to access a comprehensive network that could get them from Bemidji to Bamako.

In the first two decades after deregulation, there was enough competition and industry turmoil to inhibit the expansion of low-cost airlines like Southwest. But in the mid-’90s government regulators began to regard Southwest as a positive competitive influence on the hubbed airlines—whenever Southwest managed to enter a new market, fares fell. To promote the expansion of what became known as the “Southwest effect,” the government helped ensure that low-cost airlines were getting opportunities to service major airports.

As more low-cost airlines began competing on the lucrative routes between major cities, it was harder for the hubbed operators to charge the premium they required to recoup their higher operating costs. In short, the point-to-point business model was compromising the sustainability of the network model. That competitive pressure motivated the hubbed carriers to use outsourcing and the market power they acquired from consolidation to continue pushing regional wages down, even while they earned huge profits.

The pilot shortage is the limit of that strategy—pay got too low, so people stopped wanting to do the job. The airlines could try to charge more money to the passengers flying from smaller airports, but that has its own drawback—at some point those passengers will opt to begin their trip by driving to a larger city. Consolidation has also made it less essential for the hubbed airlines to worry about smaller markets. As the airlines consolidated, more traffic is being handled by the largest hubs. This means airlines don’t need to reach as deep into the country to fill a large plane that’s bound for Paris or New York. In some ways the hubbed airlines have become more like Southwest.

Essentially, we have made a consumer-welfare trade-off, swapping a more comprehensive system with somewhat higher fares for a more limited one that can deliver the best value on the country’s most popular flights. The winners of the trade-off are people who make frequent trips between New York and L.A. The losers live two hours outside of Memphis, or work entry-level jobs on the flights that would serve those communities.

This is a defensible policy trade-off. But as has often been the case in the years since deregulation, the changes we made to the air transit system didn’t happen after a vigorous public debate. We have continued to allow the market to sort it out, even as it becomes clearer that the market’s imperfections might prevent it from delivering a system that can satisfy all parts of the country. It’s also an approach that has continued to pass the expense of policy transformation on to employees. We should bear such costs in mind as we continue to demand lower and lower fares.

Read the rest of our series about the airport as the hub of American anxiety.

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Sanaa Lathan Shaves Her Head For Netflix Movie

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by Clutch @ Clutch Magazine

Sanaa Lathan is currently filming the Netflix movie, Nappily Ever After, and has gone through many hair changes for the film. Earlier this summer she debuted a blond look: Do blondes really have more fun? Hmmm.. Let's see.The first of MANY hair changes for #Violet,...

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Donald Trump slams NFL stars for kneeling during National Anthem after they defied President in landmark Wembley protest

by jlockett @ The Sun

FURIOUS Donald Trump has laid into NFL players for kneeling during the US National Anthem during a landmark protest at Wembley. The President fired up his ongoing feud with American football after star players staged their biggest anti-racism protest yet at the national stadium in London. Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand […]

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Apple Is Building “Town Squares” Now, Because Somebody Has To

Apple Is Building “Town Squares” Now, Because Somebody Has To

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

At Tuesday’s Apple event in Cupertino, California, Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts revealed that the Apple Store has gone the way of the headphone jack.

“We actually don’t call them stores anymore,” she said. “We call them town squares, because they’re gathering places for the 500 million people who visit us every year. Places where everyone’s welcome, and where all of Apple comes together.” Apple’s other language strives toward the claim, with “plazas” and “forums” to complement the sale of the new, $1,000 iPhone X. “We’re going to open Apple town squares in cities around the world.”

A store is not a town square. A store belongs to a company that wants your money, a town square to a government that serves you. But the idea is of a piece with retail trends, and has long been evident in Apple’s preference for doing business in grand, pseudo-public spaces: an old post office, a train station.

In May, as the company honed its plans to restore Washington’s Carnegie Library, the Washington Post’s Jonathan O’Connell described some of the proposed changes:

Where the Carnegie Library once housed the city’s book collection, Apple plans a “Genius Grove,” a tree-lined sales floor where company reps will demonstrate how to maximize Apple products for music, photography or other passions. What long ago were reading rooms would become places to browse and sample Apple products.

It is in some ways a fitting succession: The tycoons of America’s second gilded age inherit the intellectual and civic spaces of its first. When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2013, the Atlantic’s James Fallows wrote: “let us hope that this is what the sale signifies: the beginning of a phase in which this Gilded Age’s major beneficiaries re-invest in the infrastructure of our public intelligence.”

But there is a difference between undertaking that role with corporate profit and doing so for corporate profit. Apple’s “town squares” and Google’s citywide internet should not be mistaken for philanthropic ventures. That Apple is repurposing the District’s old Carnegie Library does not make the comparison more flattering for the company. CityLab’s Kriston Capps has forcefully argued that one of the city’s “most important cultural assets” deserves a more genuine public role. And, he adds, Apple’s aspiration towards public-interest placemaking—like Amazon’s—also make it a better candidate for tax breaks.

At the same time, it is true that companies increasingly provide the functions abandoned by the retreating public sphere. Long before Apple, malls claimed to be the new town squares, and have tried to develop cultural functions to differentiate themselves in a declining retail landscape. As public libraries cut hours or closed entirely, McDonald’s provided a clean, safe space for kids to do their homework. As understaffed public bathrooms deteriorated and closed, Starbucks became the de facto place to go in many cities. As the dream of a free public education recedes, Apple teaches people how to do stuff for free.

It’s easy to be grateful. If we didn’t have a Starbucks bathroom, where would we pee? If we didn’t have an Apple plaza, where would we sit? On the other hand, if we had not designed a society so friendly to the interests of corporations and their executives, we might still be able to provide those things ourselves.

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Chloe Ferry looks worse for wear as she slumps against a wall after wild night out

by Olivia Waring @ The Sun

GEORDIE Shore star Chloe Ferry slumps against a wall and bashes her head after hours of boozing in her native Newcastle in these shocking snaps. The reality TV favourite, 22, struggled to stay upright as she emerged from a club in the early hours, and had to get a pal to help her walk after […]

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Donald Trump’s Plot to Blow Up Obamacare Would Backfire Spectacularly, Says the CBO

Donald Trump’s Plot to Blow Up Obamacare Would Backfire Spectacularly, Says the CBO

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

If Donald Trump tries to go nuclear on Obamacare, the effort might just fizzle.

For what feels like eons now, the president has been publicly hinting that he might cut off important subsidies to insurers that keep the Affordable Care Act's exchanges up and running as intended. These funds, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, are worth billions to carriers, and it's been widely assumed that halting them would have a disastrous impact on the market, forcing insurers to either bail or drastically hike premiums (which is why health wonks dubbed it the “nuclear option”). Trump has tended to lash out and threaten the subsidies whenever he's felt frustrated with his inability to repeal Obamacare. Last month, after the Republican health push sputtered to an inglorious late-night end in the Senate, he tweeted that “BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies” would “end very soon” if Congress couldn't pass a bill.

After today, however, it might be time to stop worrying and learn to love Trump's bomb threats. According to the new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, ending the cost-sharing subsidies would likely backfire badly for the administration, costing the federal government $194 billion over a decade without fatally undermining Obamacare's exchanges. In fact, the move could even allow some Americans to obtain insurance coverage for free while modestly reducing the number of uninsured by 1 million.

Let me repeat that. Trump's plot to critically sabotage the Affordable Care Act could actually lower the uninsured rate while blowing nearly $200 billion.

Now, before we get into the findings, here's a brief refresher on how the cost-sharing subsidies work, and why they're vulnerable. Under Obamacare, insurance companies are required to reduce out-of-pocket costs like co-pays and deductibles for low-income customers who buy silver plans through the law's online exchanges. (ACA plans come in three color tiers: gold, silver, and bronze.) In return, the government pays carriers money directly to cover the expense. However, last year a federal judge ruled that the payments were illegal, because Congress had never properly appropriated funding for them. The Trump administration is now debating whether to appeal that ruling.

Insurance companies are required to offer the reduced-cost silver plans whether or not the government compensates them, so if the subsidy money suddenly vanishes, they'll be on the hook for the difference. Of course, carriers could and would raise their premiums to make up the losses. But many analysts fear health plans would simply choose to exit the market, rather than deal with the additional chaos brought on by Trump's move.

The CBO thinks that, indeed, some insurers would decide to flee in that scenario. But it believes the damage to the market would be limited and temporary. In 2018, about 5 percent of Americans wouldn't have any insurers to buy individual coverage from. But within a couple years, carriers would figure out how to operate in the strange, new, subsidy-free landscape, and “people in almost all areas would be able to buy nongroup insurance.”

Killing the subsidies would also cause insurance premiums to rise. According to the CBO, the cost of a  silver plan purchased through the exchange would likely jump 20 percent in 2018 compared with current law (the Kaiser Family Foundation came to the same conclusion back in April). The happy catch is that almost nobody, except for the government, would actualy have to pay much of the extra cost. Americans who earn less than 400 percent of the poverty line would still receive tax credits that cap their premium payments as a percentage of their income. So, a single person making $18,900 a year would end up paying $500 total for a silver plan, up from $450.

Meanwhile, the federal deficit would swell by $194 billion over a decade, since the government would be stuck subsidizing more expensive insurance.

What about the people who don't get subsidies? Many analysts and health care writers, myself included, have assumed that those upper-middle-class families would be the real victims in Trump's plot. However, the CBO thinks they might come out financially unscathed as well, because insurers are unlikely to raise prices on the health plans they sell to consumers outside of Obamacare's online marketplaces, which aren't affected by the cost sharing subsidies. Millions of Americans already buy their coverage either directly from an insurer or through a broker. If the prices on the exchanges shoot up as predicted, more of the unsubsidized population will likely foresake healthcare.gov and just call their carrier instead.

Now, here's where things get extra weird. If Trump kills the subsidies, it's possible that same insurance shoppers could actually end up with cheaper, or even free, coverage. The theory goes like this: With the subsidy payments gone, insurers won't hike premiums on all of their insurance offerings. Instead, they'll pile the cost onto the silver plans, in order to cover the cost of offering discounts on them to their low-income customers. Because Obamacare's tax credits are all pegged to the cost of silver coverage, their value will shoot up. In some cases, subsidies will more than cover the cost of a bronze plan. (The CBO isn't alone on this prediction, by the way; the consultants at Oliver Wyman made the same prediction in May.) And even people who aren't lucky enough to get insurance for nothing may be able to buy a gold plan for less than before. With subsidies shooting up, the CBO finally concludes that about a million more Americans will end up insured than if Trump hadn't tried to bring the market crashing down.

If the CBO is right, what it means is that Trump really does not have a nuclear option on Obamacare. He can try to gradually undermine it by choosing not to enforce the individual mandate, or scaling back the government's efforts to sign people up during open enrollment. But there isn't a button he can simply press to send the whole law into oblivion. This should come as a relief to Republicans and Democrats alike who feared Trump might attempt to sabotage the American health care system for political gain. Instead, they just have to worry he'll light $200 billion on fire out of spite.

Matt Weyland - Corporate - Online Navigation - demo

Matt Weyland - Corporate - Online Navigation - demo

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Should you buy Organic Botox from Kim Kardashian? Episode 113

Should you buy Organic Botox from Kim Kardashian? Episode 113

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

Should you soak in Vitamin C? Mindy says…I have read about vitamin C being good for your face. What about putting it in the bath water? I heard something about it neutralizing chlorine. What I want to know is if it will give you the same benefits that it does for your face, if I […]

David Jensen - Cor - Mastercard F1

David Jensen - Cor - Mastercard F1

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Robert Vernon - Advert - University of Glamorgan - demo

Robert Vernon - Advert - University of Glamorgan - demo

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Gary Cohn May Have Lost His Shot at Becoming Fed Chair Because He Piped Up About Nazis

Gary Cohn May Have Lost His Shot at Becoming Fed Chair Because He Piped Up About Nazis

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

For a while there, Gary Cohn seemed like a pretty decent bet to become the next Federal Reserve chair—but apparently no longer. According to the Wall Street Journal, President Trump has become significantly less enamored with his chief economics adviser ever since Cohn decided to sound off on the administration’s response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia—which could end up costing him his shot at the central bank gig.

Cohn, who leads Trump’s National Economic Counsel and was previously the president of Goldman Sachs, was technically charged with leading the search for a new Fed chair to replace Janet Yellen, whose term expires next year. But from all outside appearances, the man seemed poised to pull a Dick Cheney and claim the job himself. “He doesn’t know this, but yes he is [a candidate]” Trump said in July, after the WSJ’s editors asked whether Cohn might be in line for the job (like heck he didn’t know). This was somewhat discouraging, since Cohn—who spent much of his career as a trader at Goldman—lacks many of the basic qualifications you typically want in a Fed chair, such as a background or even an obvious interest in monetary policy or economics.

But then came the moral and political calamity of Charlottesville. After Trump’s gobsmacking attempt to blame both torch-bearing white nationalists and anti-fascist counterprotesters—one of whom was killed—for the weekend’s violence, Cohn, who is Jewish, decided to speak up. Or, at least, he tried to explain to the Financial Times why he wasn’t leaving his job in protest while assuring his respectable financial world friends that, yes, he was adequately disgusted by the White House’s response.

“Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK,” Cohn told the paper. “I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities. As a Jewish American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting ‘Jews will not replace us’ to cause this Jew to leave his job.”

Oops. According to the WSJ’s sources, Trump “wasn’t aware such a blunt critique was coming” and now “visibly bristles at the mention of his economic adviser.” Cohn might be able to redeem himself by securing a tax reform deal with Congress, an effort he’s managing for the White House. But it’s also possible that his limp attempt to maintain some semblance of dignity while continuing to work for an administration that has an obvious affinity for white supremacists has backfired.

For those trying to figure out the future of American monetary policy, this means Yellen’s chances of being reappointed to the job just shot up. In the scheme of things, this is probably a good policy outcome. But it’s also a reminder that, even when it comes to picking the world’s most important central banker, personal loyalty trumps all.

Mike Duran - Advert - Jaguar - demo

Mike Duran - Advert - Jaguar - demo

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Catalina Blackman - Doc - Posh Pawn - demo

Catalina Blackman - Doc - Posh Pawn - demo

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Janan Kubba - Advert - TGI Fridays - demo

Janan Kubba - Advert - TGI Fridays - demo

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Verity May Henry - Nar - Pirates - demo

Verity May Henry - Nar - Pirates - demo

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Bill Champion - Advert - Mercedes UK - demo

Bill Champion - Advert - Mercedes UK - demo

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Joe Shire - Ad - O2 Priority Moments - Demo

Joe Shire - Ad - O2 Priority Moments - Demo

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Janan Kubba -Advert - Maybelline - demo

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10 Most Compelling Ad Campaigns of the Decade: Why They Went Viral

10 Most Compelling Ad Campaigns of the Decade: Why They Went Viral


Inc.com

Pretty pictures no longer cut it.

How do you moisturize curly hair? Episode 104

How do you moisturize curly hair? Episode 104

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

Question of the week: How do you moisturize curly hair? Chris says…My question is about the curly hair products that are out there now, brands like Diva Curl and Ouidad. They’re very expensive and targeted to people who have ethnic hair and want to go natural or girls with curly hair who don’t want to […]

Dan Blaskey - Doc - Booze Britain - demos

Dan Blaskey - Doc - Booze Britain - demos

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Robin Cousins - Advert - Anchor - demo

Robin Cousins - Advert - Anchor - demo

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Simon Green - Documentary - Battenburg - demo

Simon Green - Documentary - Battenburg - demo

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Eclipse Chasers Are Descending on Oregon

Eclipse Chasers Are Descending on Oregon

by Kate Massinger @ Slate Articles

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

If you’re driving to John Day, Oregon, from any direction, be warned. For the last 90 miles of your journey, you won’t find a single gas station. No fast food. No cell service. Just sunset-colored canyons and fossil beds. And on Monday, when a total solar eclipse creates moments of midmorning darkness, you won’t even see the canyons.

Eastern Oregon can handle a couple of campers—but what about 1 million tourists? That’s how many people the state is expecting will travel to view this summer’s transnational, total solar eclipse. The eclipse’s path of totality crosses the Pacific coast and then stretches south. It actually misses Portland, which means small towns like Dallas, Prairie City, Fossil, and Sweet Home will become unwitting temporary urban centers. The city of John Day has particularly good viewing; the path of totality stretches 35 miles to its north and south.

“If we see the numbers we’re expecting, we’ll have more than 10,000 people in John Day,” says City Manager Nicholas Green. “That’s more people than have ever been in John Day in the history of Earth.” He qualifies: There may have been 10,000 eager miners during the Gold Rush. But they were spread between John Day and neighboring Canyon City, two miles away.

Where will the 10,000 get their gas? John Day, home to 1,700 residents, has only two stations. How will small-town restaurants and groceries feed 10,000 extra bellies? How will tourists navigate and communicate, given the notoriously bad cell service around John Day?

For more than a year, 56 federal, state, local, and tribal agencies have been working to answer questions like these. It’s been difficult for planners to find an eclipse proxy, says Paula Negele of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. The eclipse is an act of nature that, unlike floods, fires, and hurricanes, isn’t a disaster in and of itself—but could bring about disastrous consequences.

To hear Negele talk, the agencies have thought of everything. The overall estimate of 1 million comes from hotel, campsite, and conference bookings. If the guess proves accurate, Oregon’s population will temporarily surge by 25 percent. That means congested highways. (Negele jokingly compares the prospective traffic jams to when Oregon State and Oregon have simultaneous football games.) The Oregon Office of Emergency Management is encouraging drivers to pack food, water, first-aid kits, and paper maps.

“Come early, stay put, and leave late,” Negele advises. “Will it get frustrating? Will people get impatient with crowds, [stores] running out of things … people parking on their front lawns? Probably. [But it’s] a once-in-a-lifetime event.”

Most eclipse prep work has been locally organized. Police forces from counties outside the path of totality will deploy to small towns within it. The city of Prineville advised its citizens to stock up on two to three weeks of food. John Day is doubling its 911 staffing. Don Williams, mayor of beachside Lincoln City, says the city has “procured every outhouse we can possibly get our hands on.”

To address issues like littering, trespassing, and road rage, eclipse planners appeal to Oregonian identity and encourage visitors to assume it too.

“Act like an Oregonian,” says Travel Oregon’s Linea Gagliano. “Leave no trace, be kind. Pack your patience.” Be a green groupie, a granola muncher. Nature is part of Oregon’s brand, and that brand seems to be working: Tourism brought the state $11.3 billion last year. Portland International Airport will welcome chasers with free pairs of eclipse-viewing sunglasses.

Yet massive ecotourism could increase the risk of environmental catastrophe, especially fire.

August is one of Oregon’s rare dry and hot months. Right now, the Department of Forestry has posted ‘high” or “extreme” fire danger rankings for much of Oregon; active wildfires rage outside of Baker City and atop Mount Jefferson, the state’s second-highest point. Alongside obvious safety concerns, smoke impedes eclipse viewing. Negele warns of untended campfires and sparks from vehicle tailpipes catching on high grass. She lays out plans for evacuation and sheltering campers in place. Driving fire trucks on congested highways might be impossible.

Still, rural Oregon communities believe the eclipse will be a net positive, at least economically. Gagliano says locals have become entrepreneurs in anticipation: Schools are hosting bake sales while farmers and ranchers are renting land to tenters. According to Prineville Planning Director Phil Stenbeck, Central Oregon alcohol sales have increased by 40 percent in the weeks leading up to the eclipse.

In John Day, one local man has invented a collapsible, stackable port-a-potty. The city itself has already made about $60,000 from RV and tent site sales (this in a community with an annual property tax revenue of only $250,000). City planners will use a portion of the revenue to build a trail system and playground along the John Day River, allowing its residents to better enjoy the outdoors.

Ecotourism could beget more ecotourism. The state hopes happy eclipse chasers will spread the word about Oregonian beauty beyond the Portland metropolitan area. Small towns look forward to increased tourism even after Aug. 21: travelers seeking canyons and rivers, 90-mile stretches of nothing but nature. Maybe they’ll even go a step further. “I used to vacation [in Lincoln City], and then I bought a vacation home, and then I moved here full time,” says Williams. “We don’t need more tourists. We need more citizens.”

Sohm Kapila - Advert - NHS Smoking Helpline - demo

Sohm Kapila - Advert - NHS Smoking Helpline - demo

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Ashleigh Cheadle - Advert - Seaworld - demo

Ashleigh Cheadle - Advert - Seaworld - demo

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Senior Conservative MPs urge Philip Hammond to ‘tax foreign buyers’ to stop them snapping up British homes instead of struggling first-time buyers

by Sun Internet 2 @ The Sun

FOREIGN buyers must be taxed hard to stop them snapping up new UK homes, top Tories urge. One Cabinet minister has called on the Chancellor to introduce “punitive” tariffs. Philip Hammond is also being pressed to consider tougher restrictions on future buy-to-lets. It comes as first-time buyers struggle to afford a home while overseas investors […]

Dove Company History and Review: Real Beauty, Real Soap!

Dove Company History and Review: Real Beauty, Real Soap!


Maple Holistics

Looking to spread your wings and learn how to fly? Learn from Dove! Check out our Dove Company History and Review feature here at Maple Holistics!

Sarah Galbraith - Advert - Yoplait - demo

Sarah Galbraith - Advert - Yoplait - demo

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Ashleigh Cheadle - Advert - Veet - demo

Ashleigh Cheadle - Advert - Veet - demo

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Emily Fairman - Advert - Virgin Trains - demo

Emily Fairman - Advert - Virgin Trains - demo

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We Appreciate Your Patience. Welcome to Always Right, Slate’s Customer Service Blog.

We Appreciate Your Patience. Welcome to Always Right, Slate’s Customer Service Blog.

by Dan Kois @ Slate Articles

Please read carefully, as our menu options have changed. We know you have a choice of blogs, and we thank you for choosing ours. To read the introduction to Always Right, press ze—

[sound of the zero button being pressed several times]

You no doubt remember a time terrible customer service made you snap. Perhaps your voice shook with bitter sarcasm as you dropped some wisdom on the guy at the Target returns counter. Perhaps you crafted a 1,000-word email to the customer care team at your internet service provider, only to have your internet go out and the message vanish. Perhaps—this is purely invented—you spent a full hour on the phone in a small open-plan office yelling at the people who messed up your wedding invitations, only to hang up and discover that your boss had literally prepared microwave popcorn for all your co-workers as they listened in.

But you also remember a time that good customer service made your afternoon, saved you money, rescued a vacation. Our interactions with companies, services, governments, and organizations can be dismal or delightful, enraging or enervating. Customer service is where capitalism intersects with emotion, where our self-image as very important people meets the cold, hard truths of commerce. It can inspire brand loyalty or create a lifelong enemy. (One friend still will not shop at Old Navy due to a poorly handled 1998 return; when she sees her grandchildren wearing affordable, comfortable Old Navy clothing, she feels betrayed. Her own daughter!)

In Always Right, we’ll spend the month of September exploring customer service from every angle. What makes a customer satisfied? How has satisfaction changed in the era of frictionless return-by-mail and Twitter tantrums? Are there errors so great that service can’t redeem them? And what does a company do when a valued customer is, well, totally wrong?

Today we’ll start out on the phone. Henry Grabar looks at how a minor inconvenience of the customer-care phone call, “press one for English,” became a bugaboo of the anti-immigrant right. And in “Call Center Confidential,” Aaron Mak talks to the people on the other end of the line—the customer service pros who, headsets firmly in place, deal with jerks like me all day.

Thanks for reading. Have I provided exemplary service to you today? If so, press the star key—

[sound of the zero button being mashed, like, nine times]

James Cooney - Advert - Jobsite - demo

James Cooney - Advert - Jobsite - demo

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Top cop admits it was a ‘mistake’ launching sex abuse inquiry outside Sir Edward Heath’s home

by gbirchall @ The Sun

A TOP cop has admitted it was a mistake launching an abuse inquiry outside Sir Edward Heath’s home into claims the ex- PM was a paedophile. Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale said the appeal for sex abuse victims should never have been held there in 2015. The “stunt” led to dozens of allegations. Det Con […]

Sam Rix - Advert - Honda - demo

Sam Rix - Advert - Honda - demo

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Colin Elmer - Cor - Coaching Essentials - demo

Colin Elmer - Cor - Coaching Essentials - demo

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Sarah Galbraith - Advert - Fancy Feast - demo

Sarah Galbraith - Advert - Fancy Feast - demo

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Richard Attlee - Advert - Crunchy Nut - demo

Richard Attlee - Advert - Crunchy Nut - demo

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Adults spend THREE hours a week on the toilet — and that’s more than twice the time they spend exercising

by rbayne @ The Sun

ADULTS spend more than twice as much time on the toilet each week as exercising, a study found. They typically clock up three hours and nine minutes on the loo but 90 minutes exercising. Experts say poor diets are leaving people “clogged up” while others lose track of time playing on their mobiles as they […]

Marco Snow - Ad - Jack Daniels - Demo

Marco Snow - Ad - Jack Daniels - Demo

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Can you exfoliate your feet with Listerene and vinegar? Episode 116

Can you exfoliate your feet with Listerene and vinegar? Episode 116

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

Please support the Beauty Brains by signing up for a free audio book at Audible.com. Click here to get your free audio book. Randy was interviewed on a radio program called “American Made Beauty” which is run by Patty Schmucker, who’s been in the industry for over 35 years. She interviews different experts to give a behinds the […]

Call Center Confidential

Call Center Confidential

by Aaron Mak @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

Dialing in to a customer service line is no one’s idea of fun. You often have to navigate through a labyrinth of menu options, crude voice recognition software, and grating hold music before finally reaching a breathing human being. And then you must explain in painstaking detail the problem with your cable box to some person thousands of miles away.

But what about that person? It’s no cakewalk for the service professional on the line, either. What is it like for company representatives fielding thousands of calls every day from customers—many of whom are irate, unreasonable, and/or clueless? We asked members of this invisible workforce from around the country to speak their minds. We didn’t record those conversations for training and quality control purposes—we recorded them to give you an idea what life’s like on the other end of the call.

What's the worst thing that a customer has ever said or done to you?

A customer said to me that they hoped that I had a son who died when he turned 5. He had just gone through that, basically. I worked in benefits administration, particularly in health and insurance. So he had a son who had passed away at 5 due to some health concerns, and had made some mistakes with the benefits he chose based off of losing a dependent. We couldn't go in and just immediately fix those; we had to go through an appeals process. He didn't want to hear that. He said, “Well I hope you have a son, and when he turns 5, I hope he dies, and you have to go through this bullshit.”
—D, customer service rep, insurance

I was calling to follow up on a payment, and he asked me to take the penis out of my mouth. And I was like, “Huh?” Not thinking he would repeat it. And then he said, “You heard me, monkey. I said take the penis out of your mouth.”
—A, customer service rep, financial services

There was a woman who said she was going to report me to the Minnesota government office because I didn’t know where the ticket window at the Minnesota State Fair was.
—P, customer service rep, ticketing services

On the HR end, we were frequently listening to calls. Everything is recorded. One that I remember vividly was an employee repeatedly being called the N-word over and over by a customer very early in the call. The employee did a great job at de-escalating the situation—just sort of kept listening to the customer, kept diverting it back to what the issue was that they were trying to deal with. That employee probably needed a break, probably needed a walk around the parking lot afterwards.
—M, human resources partner, telecommunications

There was a woman who told me that it was my fault that her husband wouldn’t make his mother’s funeral on time, because their check bounced at the store. She was buying a suit for him.
—L, customer service rep, retail

What should customers say and how should they behave to get what they want?

I would say just be clear on what they want, and sometimes they may know what they want and not how to ask for it. I would just say, “Hey, this is what I’m trying to accomplish.” Even if you don’t know specifically what to ask for, maybe say what the goal is.
—A, customer service rep, financial services

Pet peeve for me is when people cut me off. If I’m asking you a question, let me finish my question and then feel free to insert your opinion.
—J, customer service rep, international benefits

You don’t have to bake us cookies or anything, but just be nice to us on the phone and we’ll be willing to go the extra distance for you. Versus someone who’s cussing us up and down and yelling at us—we’ll still get the issue done, because that’s our job. But we’re not going to be willing to go as above and beyond.
—E, customer service rep, financial services

It’s not like a lot of people want to make being a customer service representative their life’s work. A lot of the time that’s an entry-level position so that they can get where they want to go within the company. It may already be a frustrating situation for them in that regard. I try to remember that and treat them with respect.
—L, customer service rep, retail

What’s the most positive experience you’ve had with a customer?

I dealt with an elderly person regarding a pension payment that she was expecting, and she called on the deadline to update her direct deposit. We were saying initially, “Hey, you missed the deadline, so your payment is going to be delayed.” She was like, “I need it. I depend on this money. I’m on a fixed income.” So I just reach out to the department that handles those direct deposits and said, “Hey, is this something that we can manually push through?” They said yes. I got back to her, and she was eternally grateful. She ended up sending me cards and stuff just thanking me.
—A, customer service rep, financial services

I was talking with a lady that had just lost her car and home because of Hurricane Harvey. She just had no idea what to do—she couldn’t get out. We had compiled ahead of time a list of emergency services, like how to get in touch with first responders, what to do, how to be prepared. I said, “I’m going to give this to you, but is there anything else that you’d like us to search for?” She was like, “Yes, please. I need help finding a shelter.” And then she let me know that her grandmother was with her. She was just so afraid that something was going to happen.
—J, customer service rep, international benefits

A guy called in and canceled his wife’s insurance because they were going through a divorce. She had Stage 4 cancer. She called us up and was obviously quite distraught. We were trying to figure out what we could do for her and find some loopholes and pull some strings by reaching out directly to her husband’s employer. I was able to call her back and say “Hey, we’ve got great news for you. We got you back into your benefits. You can get the medical attention you need.” That was probably the best moment that I’ve had there.
—D, customer service representative, insurance

Grandmaster Flash landed on my desk a couple times. And then when I was the manager, there were a couple times when he was escalated up to me just because he wanted to chat.
—M, customer service rep and manager, audio tech

Catalina Blackman - Advert - Match.com - demo

Catalina Blackman - Advert - Match.com - demo

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Can mouthwash make your mouth “dentist clean?” Episode 74

Can mouthwash make your mouth “dentist clean?” Episode 74

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

How can Listerine claim to make your mouth “dentist clean?” Perry and I break it down for you in this week’s show. And…more beauty science news! Take our St. Patrick’s Day Beauty Science Quiz! Are these statements about Irish Spring soap true or false? Listen to the show for the answers. 1. The first Irish Spring […]

Workers Are Going Galt

Workers Are Going Galt

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

In the early years of the Obama administration, as new taxes on upper-income Americans were enacted as part of Obamacare and the expiry of the Bush tax cut loomed, it was common to hear libertarian types warn that businesspeople and entrepreneurs might just Go Galt. That is to say, if they determined that losing 50 cents of every dollar in taxation wasn’t worth their trouble, they’d take a cue from the hero of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, fold up their businesses, and quit work altogether. Check out this March 2009 Michelle Malkin column for an exegesis of this, um, idea. “Enough,” she wrote. “While they take to the streets politically, untold numbers of America’s wealth producers are going on strike financially.”

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

The logic of protesting taxes on income above a certain threshold by forgoing all income—including the income taxed at much higher rates—always escaped me. But people don’t always behave in a rational manner, and they continually do have to weigh the utility of working for what will not be a satisfactory return against the free time or leisure they might enjoy from not working at all. Anyway, the movement fared about as well as the widely panned, hardly seen 2011 film adaptation of Rand’s book.

Fast-forward eight years, and it seems that a different group of people may be deciding to Go Galt: workers.

Earlier this week, the Department of Labor released the latest Job Opening and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) report, which tallies job openings, hires, and quits. In June, the number of open positions spiked to 6.2 million, up 461,000 from May. That’s slightly more than the entire population of Missouri. It’s a record, and it’s up 11 percent from June 2016.

There are plenty of explanations for the seeming shortage of workers. Baby boomers are exiting the workforce. Many of the undocumented immigrants who fill low-paying service jobs have left the country or have been deported. The economy has been expanding for more than eight years, and the unemployment rate is 4.3 percent. Which means many of the people who can hold down jobs—or want to hold down jobs—already have them. In some areas, the need to pass drug tests is disqualifying individuals from the workforce. And in some instances, there just aren’t enough people with the relevant skills to fill the openings.

But as readers of this column have heard me say before, one of the big—perhaps the biggest—problem in the labor market today is that employers aren’t willing to pay people enough to fill their open positions. And this is happening even as they must fill a record number of openings. Hiring today means you have to convince someone to leave their job, leave school, or get off the couch. And if the incentive isn’t sufficiently large, it is hard to find a new employee.

Now, there are plenty of people without jobs in the U.S., and there are plenty of people who are working part-time but would prefer to work full-time. But the labor market isn’t always particularly efficient. People don’t always live near where the jobs are plentiful. And even if they do, they may not be willing to do the job at the going rate. Some number of people are essentially telling employers to take their crappy jobs with their crappy wages and shove it.

And so crops are rotting in the fields in Florida and California because farmers can’t find people to pick them. (Another way to think about this is that farmers were willing to invest the money to buy seeds, plow the fields, plant the crops, buy water and pesticides—but aren’t willing to bring the stuff they grow to market.) Roofers have been forgoing taking on new jobs because they can’t hire people to schlep the shingles. Bed and breakfasts and restaurants in Maine were slow to open or have operated with reduced hours this year because they can’t find housekeepers and waiters.

It’s not just happening in rural areas. At the end of June, there were 225,000 open positions in construction, up 31 percent from 171,000 in June 2016; 723,000 open positions in accommodations and food services (hotels and restaurants), up 12 percent from June 2016, and more than 1 million in trade, transportation, and utilities (which includes retail).

When you operate in a market, you have to keep raising your price until someone is willing to accept your bid. But for the last several years, American employers have steadfastly refused to raise wages. And now their stinginess is catching up with them. In many instances, employers simply aren’t offering sufficient incentives for people to apply for their jobs, show up to interviews, accept their offers, or show up to work. Some number of people would prefer the low level of income they have, or no income at all, to doing the work on offer at the wages listed. As Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari told a group of businesspeople earlier this week, “If you’re not raising wages, then it just sounds like whining.”

10 Years After Dove's 'Real Beauty' Campaign, More Brands Fight for Real Women

10 Years After Dove's 'Real Beauty' Campaign, More Brands Fight for Real Women


TakePart

It's been 10 years since Dove launched its “Campaign for Real Beauty”—a stark series of ads that were radical and simple in equal measure—featuring lovely, normal-sized women who didn’t need Photoshop to look radiant. The ads, which ran in 2004 and 2005, lacked any screed about the pressures that come with being a woman in a visual culture that’s awash in creatively lit, digitally manipulated images of dangerously thin models. The folks behind the campaign simply let us feel our own shock at seeing women with normal curves and natural faces being celebrated for their beauty in a national advertisement. Dove didn't stop there. The soap maker added rocket fuel to the conversation in 2006, when its time-lapse "Evolution" video went viral. The movement to expose marketers' use of trickery to convince us that we're failing if we don't have flawless skin and breathtaking bodies was here to stay. Significant progress has been made since Dove's campaign: The American public, the blogosphere, and the Twitterverse now routinely call out magazine publishers and marketers for digitally altering images of girls and women to shrink their bodies, smooth their faces, and otherwise morph them to fit an unrealistic, narrow ideal of beauty. The pace is quickening. In just the past few months, there's been even more progress and a few moments that drove the dialogue forward. 1. The more bare skin a campaign flaunts, the more Photoshop it typically gets. But American Eagle says its new campaign for the Aerie line of lingerie will not use any altered images of models. Instead, “real” girls and women can upload unretouched photos of themselves to a photo gallery. Sure, it’s pretty screwed up that selling underwear using real photos of gorgeous, skinny young girls (instead of digitally improved gorgeous, skinny young girls) is seen as groundbreaking. But moving away from the idealized versions of women who don't exist is a footstep Dove took, and the clothier is now following its lead. “It’s great that we’re beginning to break that down,” said Heather Arnet, executive director of the Women & Girls Foundation, of the fakeries that line the glossies. 2. Forever Yours Lingerie didn't stop working with model Elly Mayday when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year. It featured beautiful shots of her with surgical scars unhidden and no wig or digital fakery to hide the baldness that resulted from her cancer treatment. Rather than looking like something’s missing, Mayday’s baldness comes across as strong and sexy. It’s empowering for the rest of us to see a woman outside the beauty mold we’ve been sold for so long—and to find ourselves aspiring to emulate her sexy confidence and appeal. (Forever Yours also gets points for raising money toward Mayday’s medical expenses.) 3. A new time-lapse video released by Hungarian pop star Boggie shows her singing a pop song called “Nouveau Parfum” while being Photoshopped, a fresh take on Dove's "Evolution" that's amplified by the resigned expression on her face. As the song unfolds, pieces of her disappear and are overwritten: Boggie’s eyes, like everyone else’s, aren’t exactly symmetrical. So one is deleted, then replaced by an exact copy of the other. Not a single square inch of her face or hair is left untouched. 4. Earlier last month during the Golden Globes, actor Diane Keaton took the stage to honor Woody Allen, her tousled hair and menswear-chic outfit reminding us of the trend she set when Annie Hall hit theaters in 1977. It was also clear on high-definition screens across America that at 68, she's got (oh, the horror!) lots of lines on her gorgeous face. When her speech ended, the network cut to a commercial break featuring Keaton selling L'Oréal cosmetics without a line on her digitally enhanced face, seemingly sporting the skin of a 25-year-old. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook quickly lit up with scorn. That social media response is valuable, Arnet says, because younger women and girls are active on Instagram and Twitter and are participating in those conversations. 5. Former Cosmopolitan editor Leah Hardy drew attention for admitting that during her tenure the magazine routinely Photoshopped out the protruding bones of super skinny models to keep readers from seeing how emaciated the models really were. Since that admission surfaced, before-and-after comparisons of bone-thin models and their healthier-looking altered images have been popping up around the Web. Apparently the world’s top fashion magazines, despite the huge budgets at their disposal, cannot find a single woman on the planet who isn’t either too thin or too fat for their liking. It’s further reinforcement of the conclusion we’d love to share with every tween girl who’s just beginning to notice her appearance: The elusive “perfection” that every cosmetic company and clothing retailer is trying to sell you does not exist. 6. Mindy Kaling might not have minded, but many other people did: When Elle magazine published covers for its February 2014 issue featuring Kaling, readers and pundits immediately questioned why Kaling's cover was a black-and-white close-up rather than the full-color, full-body shots of the other (skinnier and more "conventionally" beautiful) actors. That's the key: We've begun to make a habit of questioning how women are depicted and what tools are being used to change or edit their appearance for public consumption. Yes, the visual landscape is still awash with altered images, surgically altered models, and the pressure to be thinner, younger, and closer to the narrow beauty ideal that so much marketing pushes on us. Marketers aren’t going to stop selling us

Who is Pete Wicks? The Only Way is Essex lad and Megan McKenna’s on-off boyfriend

by jkavanagh @ The Sun

PETE Wicks is regularly in the spotlight due to his on-off relationship with Megan McKenna. We take a look at his love, life and career so far… Who is Pete Wicks? Pete Wicks was born on 31 October 1988, he is 28 years old. He is from Harlow in Essex and is known for his […]

California Might Be Producing Too Much Legal Weed

California Might Be Producing Too Much Legal Weed

by Akin Oyedele @ Slate Articles

California's marijuana producers are growing eight times the amount needed for consumption, according to a report by Patrick McGreevy at the Los Angeles Times.

Scaling back would be painful for growers, said Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, during a panel discussion at the Sacramento Press Club. The Times reported that a consultant in the audience estimated the pot glut at 12 times what's being consumed.

In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to permit medicinal marijuana. Its residents voted in November to legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use. But it now faces a glut ahead of new regulations that ban exports starting January 1.

A consequence of the glut, Allen added, is that some growers on the black market would most likely export their product to other states in violation of federal law.

Seven states including neighboring Nevada, Arkansas, and Massachusetts legalized marijuana in various forms on Election Day last year. In all, 29 U.S. states have legalized marijuana in some form, according to Governing.com.

 

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Gloria Hunniford reveals she was on IRA ‘death list’ and opens up about crazed stalker horror

by tpearce @ The Sun

GLORIA Hunniford has revealed that at the height of her fame she was placed on the hit list for the IRA, received death threats, and had a stalker that waited for her outside her office. The 77-year-old TV presenter, who is revealing all about her colourful life in her new book, revealed the darker side […]

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CEOs Are Running Out of Reasons Not to Bail on Trump

CEOs Are Running Out of Reasons Not to Bail on Trump

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

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CEOs of large public companies have faced something of a conundrum in the age of Trump. On the one hand, here was a historically unpopular president who lost the popular vote, who is actively hostile to many of the values to which their companies are committed—diversity, inclusion, reckoning with climate change, globalization, free trade, and all the other Davos virtues. Put aside whatever their feelings as individuals are. As leaders of companies with huge global operations and large employee bases, CEOs of large firms have to be careful not to publicly side with someone who is openly antagonistic to their modus operandi.

On the other hand, the federal government—as a policymaker, as a procurement agency, as a customer, as a dispenser of favor and tax breaks, as a rule- and standard-setter—has a great ability to impact the short-term fortunes of many companies. Trump has been in favor of much of what businesses generically want, from lower taxes to lighter regulation. And this window in which Republicans control the White House and Congress presents a rare opportunity for achieving some long-desired goals. (Global companies would really, really like to be able to repatriate all the profits they’re holding overseas on a tax-favored basis.) So the general consensus of CEOs was to not take any rash or immediate action. While it might anger their employees or spouses or children, publicly breaking with and attacking Trump wouldn’t pay any immediate dividends.

There was another reason that CEOs were circumspect. If you run a large, publicly held company, there are norms about the types of things you say. Everyone deserves a chance. We respect the office. When the president of the United States calls and asks you to come to a meeting or to serve on an advisory board, you show up. It’s part of being a public statesman or stateswoman. And with a president who insulted his way to an election victory, there was an extra reason to show up. Those who cross him are likely to be targets.

So you can understand why CEOs like Ken Frazier of Merck and Elon Musk of Tesla and so many others agreed to serve on Trump’s advisory council on manufacturing. They all had specific—and general—needs and asks. Trump would almost certainly be the president for at least the next four years. As one Trump-hostile billionaire put it to me, “He’s got the gavel now.”

But seven months into the Trump administration, we’re seeing that showing up and uttering pro forma support may not be a viable PR, business, or personal strategy for CEOs who want to lead their companies while being true to themselves.

Some CEOs have discovered that mouthing even anodyne support for Trump can have a really negative impact on their business relationships and stock price. In February, Kevin Plank, the CEO of apparel-maker Under Amour and a member of the manufacturing council, said "to have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset to this country." In response, some of the company’s leading endorsers, including Stephen Curry, expressed their anger, customers rebelled, and the stock was ultimately downgraded.

Other CEOs have discovered that while the policies of Trump and the GOP may be theoretically good for “business,” they are really bad for their particular business. Duh. Musk was the first to bail from Trump’s manufacturing council after Trump announced the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Meanwhile, companies are coming to two collective realizations. First, while the Trump administration is delivering favorable policy to energy companies, Wall Street, and for-profit colleges, the prospects for broad-based tax reform (or even tax cuts) aren’t particularly good. Second, given Trump’s unpopularity, his power to inflame the public against any single company has diminished.

Still others have concluded that, regardless of whatever pressure their business might come under, they simply can’t abide sitting quietly while Trump rampages his way through his term. That was the conclusion that Ken Frazier, the CEO of drug giant Merck, apparently reached over the weekend, as a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly and Trump condemned the violence only in broad, ambiguous terms. On Monday morning, Frazier announced over Twitter that he was resigning from the manufacturing council.

Why? “Our country’s strength comes from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs. America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal. As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscious, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

Frazier’s move—and note that this is precisely the statement that Trump should have made on Saturday—now puts the other CEOs on the manufacturing council in a tough spot. Each will likely face questions as to what they think about Trump’s response to last weekend’s events and why they remain on the council now that its only black member has resigned.

Frazier has given them all an out if they want it. Sure, Trump responded in typical fashion, immediately attacking Frazier and his company on Twitter:

But it’s not likely Frazier or his firm will suffer any immediate damage. In early trading Monday morning, Merck’s stock was up .8 percent.

The Economy Minus Houston

The Economy Minus Houston

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

It’s too early to tally the economic losses from Hurricane Harvey. But with the waters yet to subside, analysts are already suggesting that the financial impact of Harvey may not be as bad as Katrina was—at least for insurers. As CNBC reported on Monday, “Damages from Harvey, the hurricane and tropical storm ravaging Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast, are estimated to be well below those from major storms that have hit New Orleans and New York, according to [reinsurance company] Hannover Re.”

The analysis may be correct when it comes to the financial losses suffered by insurers. But the suffering is massive—in this natural disaster and in every natural disaster. And while it is understandable to look at Harvey through the lens of Katrina—they’re both hurricanes that swamped low-lying Gulf Coast areas with lots of energy infrastructure—doing so doesn’t provide the clearest possible picture of the economic damage. And it misconstrues the relative importance and economic power of New Orleans and Houston.

For the U.S. economy to lose New Orleans for a couple of weeks was a human and cultural disaster and an economic challenge. For the U.S. economy to lose Houston for a couple of weeks is a human disaster—and an economic disaster, too.

The Houston metropolitan area, with a population of well over 6 million, has nearly five times the number of people as the New Orleans metropolitan area. More significantly, Houston has more than five time as many jobs as New Orleans, 3.06 million to 578,000. And they tend to be well-paying jobs. The Houston metropolitan area gross domestic product in 2015 was $503 billion, compared with $78 billion for New Orleans. For any retailer or large e-commerce company, the Houston region likely represents close to 3 percent of annual sales.

Houston, America’s fourth-largest city, has a massive, diversified economy. Sure, New Orleans sits near the mouth of the mighty Mississippi River and is an important entrepôt and site for export of raw materials, agricultural commodities chemicals, and petroleum products. But Houston is a larger, busier, and far more important node in the networked economy. Economies derive their power and influence from their connections to other cities, countries, and markets. And Houston is one of the more connected. It is one of the global capitals of the energy and energy services industries. The Johnson Space Center has 10,000 employees. Houston is home to the headquarters of 20 Fortune 500 companies and the massive MD Anderson Cancer Center. The two airports, George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport, combined handle about 55 million passengers annually, about five times the number that Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport does.

Yes, there’s a degree to which consumption and other economic activity that is forestalled or foregone during a flood is consumption and economic activity deferred. And cleanup efforts tend to be additive to local economies. But in today’s economy, a lot of value can easily be destroyed very quickly. With only a small portion of the housing stock carrying flood insurance, billions of dollars in property will simply be destroyed and not immediately replaced. People who get paid by the hour, or who work for themselves, won’t be able to make up for the income they’re losing a few weeks from now. Hotel rooms and airplane seats are perishable goods—once canceled, they can’t simply be rescheduled. Refineries won’t be able to make up all the time offline—they can’t run more than 24 hours per day. And given that supply chains rely on a huge number of shipments making their connections with precision, the disruption to the region’s shipping, trucking, and rail infrastructure will have far-reaching effects. If you’re a business in Oklahoma or New Mexico, there’s a pretty good chance the goods you are importing or exporting pass through the Port of Houston.

There’s a conventional wisdom that holds that natural disasters aren’t always that bad for the economy. Reconstruction and relief efforts often function as miniature stimulus packages. And many sectors of our economy are indeed highly resilient and flexible—and hence able to weather the storm. Writing in the New York Times earlier this week, Neil Irwin was relatively sanguine about the economic impact of Harvey on the system at large. He noted that any disruption to supply chains was likely to be short-term and that insurers were well-situated to weather the storm. So, yes, it is tough to quibble with the notion that taking a long-term perspective, Harvey will be a blip. But we all know what John Maynard Keynes said about the long run. And in the meantime, there will be a lot of financial and human suffering.

Catalina Blackman - Narrative - demo

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Labour’s traditional working class voters are turning to the Conservatives and ‘will help Theresa May win back a majority’, report claims

by Sun Internet 2 @ The Sun

LABOUR’s traditional working class voters are turning Blue and hold the key to Theresa May remaining in power, a bombshell report claims. A think tank said the Tories and Labour were neck and neck among manual workers at 39 per cent in the Election. The Tories led 47 per cent to 35 per cent among […]

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Is This Dove Ad Racist?

Is This Dove Ad Racist?


The Root

The design of an advertisement (pictured) for Dove Visible Care body wash is under attack for what many are calling its racist imagery.

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Dove Uses Its Own "Alternative Facts" in This Hilarious New Ad That Mocks Trump

Dove Uses Its Own "Alternative Facts" in This Hilarious New Ad That Mocks Trump


POPSUGAR Beauty

There's no denying that Donald Trump's first few weeks in office have been action-packed, to say the least. Though some powerhouse companies like Google and

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'You're fat and ordinary': Dove ad reveals what women really think about themselves

'You're fat and ordinary': Dove ad reveals what women really think about themselves


Telegraph.co.uk

A new advert forces women to confront the negative thoughts they have about their own bodies

What’s the best product for frizzy hair?

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

Harshleen asks…I’ve always had thick, poufy hair that also frizzes easily. Is there a way or product to bring down the volume and smoothen hair without using a flat iron to straighten? The Beauty Brains respond Hi Harshleen. Your question reminds us of the one we received from Kenya about which hair products are best for […]

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Dove Has Women Walk Through Doors Labeled "Beautiful" Or "Average" In Latest Campaign

Dove Has Women Walk Through Doors Labeled "Beautiful" Or "Average" In Latest Campaign


BuzzFeed

Once again, soap is acting condescending. This post has been updated.

Turn Off the Price-Gouging Machine

Turn Off the Price-Gouging Machine

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

Natural disasters present opportunities for companies to burnish their brands—or tarnish them. It’s relatively easy for a company to marshal resources after the disaster has happened by sending truckloads of supplies, distributing products, and stamping its name on relief efforts. It’s much harder to do the right thing as the disaster is approaching or actually happening—and that’s in part because so much of the human activity has been removed from business operations.

Operating at scale—managing millions of customers, running intricate and highly complex operations, keeping track of a huge amount of activity in real time—requires robust systems. The more computer algorithms can perform business activities and make decisions, the more efficient and profitable companies can be. Indeed, companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, which enjoy very high margins, rely to a large degree on algorithms to run their businesses.

Software can detect and follow supply and demand in real time and adjust prices accordingly. This is how companies that sell products with set expiration dates—like hotel rooms and airplane seats—manage to eke out profits in highly competitive environments. Retailers like gas stations also use software to scour the marketplace for price information and continually adjust prices.

But we’ve seen in the past how doing so can lead to problems when things go badly. Uber, the poster child for having too much artificial intelligence and too little emotional intelligence, was justly dinged for letting its system charge surge pricing during Hurricane Sandy.

Last week, several well-known, very large companies—not exactly paragons of customer service—intervened in their algorithms and altered policies to offer relief to stressed-out customers in ways that were counterintuitive to how the machines would act.

Ordinarily, when lots of people suddenly want to fly air routes at the same time, systems will adjust prices continually higher to capture the available dollars. Not this time. Several airlines last week, led by JetBlue, American, Delta, and United, capped fares for flights leaving Florida, waived some of the fees they charge for bringing baggage and pets along, and added flights and seats to the extent possible. All of which will have the effect of reducing revenues that the system could have captured.

Airbnb generates revenues partly as a percentage of how much guests pay to stay in the homes of hosts on its network. The prospects of millions of people fleeing Irma and seeking temporary shelter would therefore present an opportunity for Airbnb and its hosts to raise prices. But, in another counterintuitive move, Airbnb assembled a list of hosts willing to open their homes for free.

For wireless companies, which make money by charging users for data, a week in which people feel compelled to keep their phones on at all times and continually refresh weather maps or video coverage would be really good for business. The system, without any tweaking, would happily tally overages and charge accordingly. Ahead of Irma’s arrival, however, both AT&T Wireless and Verizon texted customers that they would either add more data to existing plans or simply not charge for text or data overuse for the next week.

Of course, these measures aren’t being done purely out of a sense of humanitarianism. Savvy companies have come to recognize that behaving like a jerk when customers are in extremis can add to your bottom line this quarter, but it invites investigations, and, in the age of social media, backlash. 7-Eleven swung into action quickly when it was reported that several store owners in Florida had jacked up prices of bottled water last week.

Now that so many operations are run by algorithms that have no appreciation for poor optics—or the morality of gouging consumers when they are desperate, or the damage that a greedy vision can do a company’s long-term viability—more and more executives are discovering they have to shut their systems off when the waters rise.

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Robin Cousins - Advert - Barclays - demo

Robin Cousins - Advert - Barclays - demo

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Looking For A Job? I’m Hiring

by Colin @ Colin's Beauty Pages

Regular readers might have noticed that I have been running a consulting business over the last few years. It has been going pretty well and the volume of work I have is now a lot more than I can cope with on my own. So I am looking for some help. If you are in […]

The post Looking For A Job? I’m Hiring appeared first on Colin's Beauty Pages.

Your City Will Lose the Contest for Amazon’s New HQ

Your City Will Lose the Contest for Amazon’s New HQ

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

For decades, American cities and states have been competing to dismantle the high-tax postwar social model to win increasingly mobile jobs from their peers. This practice leaves the losers smarting from a diminished sense of self—hello, Hartford, Connecticut—while the winner loads the tax burden of its new prize pig onto existing citizens and businesses. It rewards corporations for being flighty, faithless partners to cities and punishes small and local businesses that cannot make credible threats to secure their own incentive packages.

The news that Amazon needs a second headquarters, announced on Thursday, will set off a competition like we have never seen for mayors and governors to pimp out their cities to the Seattle-based supercompany.

It is a one-of-a-kind, six-week sweepstakes, with a $5 billion HQ up for grabs. Nothing like this has ever happened before. At 8.1 million square feet, constituting nearly 20 percent of Seattle’s Class A office space, Amazon’s Seattle campus simply has no parallels in U.S. cities. The next biggest single urban corporate presence is Citi in New York, with 3.7 million square feet; the next biggest by percentage is Nationwide in Columbus, Ohio, which occupies 16 percent of the city’s office space.

In short, Amazon’s Seattle HQ is an outlier any way you slice it, and it’s about to build the same thing again. Corporate relocations tend to involve low-paying jobs moving south (back-office jobs or manufacturing work relocating to the Sun Belt); small numbers of white-collar jobs (General Electric’s 2015 move from Connecticut to Boston); or merger-driven relocation, which usually involves a slow exodus of executives from one city to another. Amazon’s proposal is numerically elite: 50,000 workers in a secondary headquarters is more than twice as many workers as Bank of America, the country’s second-largest bank, employs at its primary HQ in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The odds hinge in part on what Amazon is looking for. The notion of a company with two separate U.S. headquarters is basically unique; when Charlotte’s NationsBank merged with San Francisco’s BankAmerica (now Bank of America) in 1998, to take one example, the company quickly consolidated corporate control in Charlotte. But Amazon has indicated that this will not be a back office; with up to 50,000 employees and an average salary of more than $100,000, these people will not be handling your Squatty Potty return. (Disclosure: Slate is an Amazon affiliate; when you click on an Amazon link from Slate, the magazine gets a cut of the proceeds from whatever you buy.)

Let’s assume that virtually every city and state will roll out a carpet of tax breaks, plum real estate, and other local incentives. (All for a company dedicated to undermining the local businesses that will pay taxes to support the services Amazon uses.) Even if Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos already has a strong favorite in mind, a municipal race to the bottom will ensure he gets his company the best deal. And since the scale of the economic impact appears to surpass what is promised for the Summer Olympics, the packages may include anything up to and including expensive new transit infrastructure. (Mass transit, Amazon has said, is a requirement for its site.)

But how many cities really­ have a chance? Amazon may be powerful enough to command sumptuous bids from every mayor’s office in thrall to the growth machine, but cities’ limitations are as firm as the company’s needs. It’s time for some corporate-relocation theory.

Size and Talent

The first limiting factor is size: Amazon says it needs a metro area with more than 1 million people, but in reality, that is the bare minimum. In a city like Pittsburgh, as Bloomberg’s Conor Sen points out, Amazon would need to hire 1 in every 20 people in the labor force to reach full staffing. This is also a problem with Nashville, Tennessee, and Austin, Texas. If Amazon makes Seattle (regional population: 3.7 million) feel like a company town, you can only imagine the role it would play in a metro half the size.

Size, in this case, is largely a proxy for a talented labor pool—another Amazon requirement—but there’s still a large variance in educational attainment in big cities. Of the 25 metros larger than Pittsburgh, for example, several rank near the bottom in the percentage of residents with bachelor’s degrees—shorthand for a well-developed labor force. By this metric, Sun Belt cities like San Antonio, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Phoenix, and Riverside, California, are near the bottom. If Amazon were transferring thousands of workers, they might have a chance. But hiring locally? They’re probably off the list.

Cost

The single biggest difference between the remaining cities is cost: We already know that New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington have excelled at attracting companies thanks to top-notch cultural amenities, high quality of life, solid transit systems, and excellent universities. But they’re also among the most expensive places to live in the United States, with jampacked central cities where the only thing harder to place than 100 acres of offices would be 50,000 new housing units. (This is also a problem for Toronto—sorry, John Tory.)

That doesn’t mean these cities wouldn’t go out of their way to clear out space and bid for Amazon’s HQ2—or that Bezos won’t consider them strong contenders. (San Jose, California, is in, baby!) As Richard Florida points out, the best guide of corporate relocation is CEO preferences—and Bezos already owns the biggest house and the biggest newspaper in Washington. Proximity to the federal government would be an advantage for a company with a stake in virtually every sector of the economy.

You can understand why a company like Apple would be reluctant to leave Silicon Valley (even if it meant building a white elephant headquarters with 11,000 parking spaces). But relocations to high-cost areas tend to be small (as in Aetna’s move to New York), because they’re expensive. The $75,800 annual mean wage in San Jose gets the average worker just $62,100 in purchasing power, which can be had for a $58,800 wage in Durham­–Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A $17,000 per-worker premium is OK for a few hundred executives; it gets costly for 50,000 employees.

On the low-cost end, that leaves Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. Houston has its own issues to deal with right now. Detroit has no mass transit system to speak of; Charlotte isn’t far ahead and, further, lacks a strong university system. There are political risks, too: Detroit gives Amazon the potential to play savior but comes with sky-high property taxes, abysmal public schools, and a dysfunctional regional government. Charlotte is at the mercy of the reactionary North Carolina Legislature.

Location, Location, Location

What’s left are some self-similar cities in three regions: Atlanta, Dallas, and Denver are among the faster-growing, more recently developed U.S. metropolises—low-cost, low-tax cities with weaker universities and more auto-dependent transportation patterns. Of the three, Denver stands out for its massive investment in regional rail, super-high education levels, and high quality of life. Still, a second HQ in Denver wouldn’t bring the company much closer to the Eastern Seaboard.

Of the older Midwestern cities, it’s hard to imagine Chicago does not have an edge on Minneapolis and St. Louis for its sheer size, excellent universities, massive international airport, and high-quality transit system. The city’s and state’s financial problems are serious, though, and could ward off a cautious search committee.

And then on the East Coast are a pair of dark-horse candidates: Baltimore and Philadelphia. Baltimore has stellar cultural institutions, proximity to Washington without the housing costs, acres of open land, and a city government ready to play ball with big developers. Philadelphia has the same assets with a better regional transit system and easy access to New York.

The problem for the shrinking cities—Philly, Chicago, and Baltimore—may be political. As I’ve written before, the problem for those cities is not that housing is too expensive but that people don’t make enough money. Those cities tried everything to get companies to stay in the ’50s and ‘60s. But that doesn't mean that low-income tenants today won’t see a corporate giveaway as an unethical use of resources. (Which, fundamentally, it is.)

In spite of it all, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, and Philly are probably the most compelling choices for Amazon. But that doesn’t mean the company might not blow off its interest in higher education or mass transit to procure a low-cost campus in the suburbs of Dallas or Atlanta.

Greenfield vs. Infill

The differences between those cities is fodder for endless debate. But what may ultimately be more consequential is where Amazon decides to locate its headquarters within those cities. For all the talk about millennials abandoning car ownership, the biggest determinant of transportation choice is job location. In Seattle, Amazon has established an urban corporate paradigm that serves as a desperately needed counterpoint to the suburban campuses of Apple, Facebook, and Google in Silicon Valley. Amazon reports that 55 percent of Seattle employees walk, bike or use mass transit to get to work.

With its new headquarters, the company has the opportunity to tip the balance of an entire region toward or away from mass transit. The deck is stacked against infill development. But with cities scrambling to put together the pieces for Amazon, expect at least some of the proposals to double as downtown revitalization efforts. Entire cities have been built on less.

Is DIY perfume a bad idea? Episode 89

Is DIY perfume a bad idea? Episode 89

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

Cosmetic science in colonial America For those of you who are listening to this show in real time we’re only a couple of days away from the Fourth of July holiday weekend. If you’re interested in learning what life was like in colonial America, you can find an excellent summary at Fortklock.com; the details of […]

The majority of women say they find men with these more attractive… so do YOU have one?

by jnewton @ The Sun

THEY say that women are looking for men who are tall, dark and handsome. But new research has shown that ladies also find another attribute attractive in men – and its all to do with body art. The research, by dating app Type, showed that 64 per cent of women said that they would prefer […]

Emily Fairman - Adverts - MEGAMIX - demos

Emily Fairman - Adverts - MEGAMIX - demos

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Chris Riddlestone - Trailer - American Dad - Demo

Chris Riddlestone - Trailer - American Dad - Demo

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Dove's latest ad campaign features a transgender mother

Dove's latest ad campaign features a transgender mother


Topics

“There’s no one right way to do it all.”

Do anti-aging hair care products really work? Episode 130

Do anti-aging hair care products really work? Episode 130

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

Hair and skin have some things in common but there’s one big difference: skin is alive and responds to so called “anti-aging” ingredients while hair is DEAD. Check out this encore episode where we give you the straight scoop on hair care products that claim to make your hair younger.   Click here for the our […]

Pat Sharp - Adverts - MEGAMIX - demos

Pat Sharp - Adverts - MEGAMIX - demos

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Who is Chloe Meadows? The Only Way Is Essex lass who was best friends with Megan McKenna

by kpaulworika @ The Sun

AFTER falling out with Megan McKenna, Chloe Meadows has had a tough time on The Only Way Is Essex. It looks like they could finally be on the mend after Courtney Green took it on herself to heal the relationship and bring the Towie ‘Girlband’ back together – here’s all you need to know. What is […]

Brian Condon - Advert - Heinz - demo

Brian Condon - Advert - Heinz - demo

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7 of the best beauty blogs you’ll ever read

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

The Beauty Brains were nominated as one of Marie Claire’s Best Beauty Blogs. Today is the LAST DAY before voting ends. Click here to vote for the Beauty Brains now. The last few days I’ve been telling you about our nomination in Marie Claire’s Best Beauty blog competition. I thought you might like to see […]

The Senate Parliamentarian Is Throwing a Wrench Into the GOP’s Ultimate Health Care Plan

The Senate Parliamentarian Is Throwing a Wrench Into the GOP’s Ultimate Health Care Plan

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Right now, Senate Republicans are desperately attempting to pass something—anything—that can plausibly be called Obamacare repeal so they can then sit down with their colleagues in the House and craft a piece of compromise legislation both chambers will vote on. The plan is to keep making forward progress and hope that sheer momentum carries this whole shambolic legislative effort over the goal line.

There are many reasons why this strategy could fail. But one of the most important, and perhaps most underappreciated, is that it seems unlikely any bill capable of passing the House right now will also be able to pass the Senate purely due to procedural reasons.

For this we can thank Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, who since last week has ruled that several key pieces of the GOP's plan to replace Obamacare would not be eligible for a vote using the budget reconciliation process, which Republicans are banking on to pass their bill. Reconciliation is designed to pre-empt filibusters on tax and spending matters, allowing them to be enacted with a bare 51-vote majority (the GOP has 52 seats in the Senate, plus Vice President Mike Pence to break ties). But it is not supposed to be used for purely regulatory changes. MacDonough has advised lawmakers that many of their proposals don't pass muster under the procedure, including provisions that would defund Planned Parenthood and bar Americans from using government subsidies to buy insurance that covers abortion. The rule that would make people wait six months to purchase a health plan if they have a lapse in coverage—Republicans' proposed replacement for the Obamacare's individual mandate—is also a no-go, as is a change allowing insurance carriers to charge older customers up to five times what younger enrollees pay.

A repeal bill could conceivably survive Congress without these pieces. The broader problem is that the parliamentarian appears to be interpreting the reconciliation rules strictly, which means she may force the Senate to strip other key conservative regulatory demands, such as Sen. Ted Cruz's amendment allowing insurers to sell bare-bones health plans or waivers giving states the right to opt out of Obamacare's market rules.

Losing the waivers, especially, would be an enormous, possibly insurmountable obstacle for Republicans. Right now, the Senate is expected to try to pass a stripped-down “skinny repeal” bill that would kill off Obamacare's tax penalties for Americans who don't buy insurance, the requirement that employers offer their workers insurance, and the tax on medical devices. The idea is to advance a piece of legislation that almost everyone in the Senate can agree on—there's been a lot of talk about settling on the “lowest common denominator,” which, yeesh—and then go into a conference committee with the House to negotiate a final compromise. Already, House conservatives are telling the media that they won't simply accept the skinny repeal option and move on. “You’ve got to give freedom to the states at a minimum,” Rep. Raul Labrador told the Daily Beast. “In my opinion, we should get rid of the entire bill—the entire Obamacare—but that’s not going to happen. ... This is our one chance to repeal Obamacare and to give the states flexibility.”

But what if the parliamentarian decides that “state flexibility” is a no-can-do under reconciliation? At that point, Republicans have two options.

On the one hand, hard-liners could choke back their frustrations and just vote on whatever milquetoast piece of legislation the Senate is capable of producing.

On the other, Republicans could choose to overrule the parliamentarian, and thus more or less end the Senate as we know it. Technically, MacDonough's rulings are only advisory. Vice President Pence gets the actual final word on whether a bill meets the requirements for reconciliation, and he could choose to simply greenlight any bill Congress produces, allowing it to pass with 51 votes. But this would be a tectonic rupture in Senate history. No vice president has overruled the parliamentarian since Nelson Rockefeller in 1976, and choosing to do so in today's political climate would amount to gutting the filibuster, since pretty much any legislation could pass with 51 votes so long as it had the veep's blessing.

Would Republicans actually go this route? It's hard to say. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who would almost certainly make the final call on this issue, has resisted the idea of ending the legislative filibuster out of concern that, one day, a President Bernie Sanders might be able to pass single-payer or nationalize Trump Tower with fewer than 60 Senate votes. But despite his reputation as an “institutionalist,” the majority leader has shown himself more than willing to obliterate the Senate's procedural precedent during this year's secretive and rushed health care push. If he has to choose between fulfilling a seven-year pledge to blot out Barack Obama's legacy and preserving Senate traditions, it's not at all clear to me which McConnell would pick.

Smaller Is Better

Smaller Is Better

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

Like so many Americans, particularly ones who experience both the U.S. air system and transit in the New York City area, I have come to dread out-of-town travel.

Just to get home, tri-staters must endure a series of Herculean labors. Whether you’re taking the train, stomaching an expensive car service, or self-parking in a garage that’s practically in another time zone, getting to and from LaGuardia, JFK, or Newark can take an hour or three hours, depending on traffic, construction, or weather. And even once you arrive, there are mob scenes, long and hostile TSA lines, half-mile walks through the terminals, chaotic boarding procedures, and the dreaded 45-minute taxi, which inevitably ends with “We’re No. 16 for takeoff.” When my ticket reads JFK, LGA, or EWR, I now resort to mindfulness exercises.

But there is one airport code that inspires calm when I travel: HPN. That’s the identifier for the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York. Sitting on 700 acres 30 miles north of New York City, it’s not exactly hidden or undiscovered. The 99th busiest airport in America, it manages a few dozen flights daily and handled 755,000 departing passengers in April (which is about what JFK does in two days). For those fortunate enough to use it, HPN—like so many small, charming airports—offers the illusion that the American air transit system is tidier and chiller than it actually is.

In business and transport, scale is generally an advantage, leading to lower costs, more economic efficiency, and a better user experience. But over the years, I’ve come to realize that smaller airports—like the ones I’ve come to love in Lansing, Michigan; Ithaca, New York; Portland, Maine; Charleston, South Carolina; and Bismarck, North Dakota—offer a much higher level of functionality. And Westchester, while sharing all the advantages of other small airports, has a huge factor working in its favor: It’s close to where lots of people live and runs direct flights to many huge population centers.

The experience of flying out of Westchester is the polar opposite of using one of the region’s big three. The drive there from my home in Connecticut is short and peaceful. Once off the Merritt Parkway, you head up King Street, which is one of the few streets in the country in which the houses on the eastern side have an address in one state while the houses on the western side have an address in another. Cruise past the ultra-posh Brunswick School, take a hard left, carve 270 degrees of a roundabout, and you’re there. And driving is a cinch, since the parking garage is about 50 feet from the terminal.

The terminal itself is a throwback. Though the area is wealthy, the airport has no luxury retailers, no outposts of celebrity chefs, no airline lounges. It basically has the mien of a bus stop. HPN has two TSA lines and only six gates, but things move very quickly. Before security there’s an ATM and a Dunkin’ Donuts. Tucked away on the second floor is the Purchase Country Diner, whose ambitions eclipse at pancakes, BLTs, and club sandwiches. This airport may lack many of the amenities that the big airports have developed to reduce the misery of flying—fancy stores, a spa, gourmet food. But those can only take the edge off a miserable experience. What a lot of travelers really crave is less wasted time and more dignity.

The reason HPN works is precisely because it doesn’t scale—or, more accurately, can’t scale. Since the airport is located in an area where property values are high and the residents have political clout, there are sharp limits on the level of activity at the airport: Just 240 passengers may move through the terminal each hour, both arriving and departing. According to the Westchester Journal News, HPN allows just four departures or landings every 30 minutes.

Think about that. At any given time, only two flights are being prepared for boarding and takeoff. But don’t mistake the low volume for irrelevance. Four of the nation’s big airlines service the airport. American ferries passengers to Charlotte, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, and Miami. Delta takes customers to Atlanta and Detroit. United connects to its major hub at Chicago’s O’Hare. And JetBlue offers service to five airports in Florida. There are also two smaller regional operations that service Boston, Cape Cod, and Martha’s Vineyard.

There may not be much competition among airlines at Westchester. But the reality is that the airlines operating here are competing against the operations of all the airlines at the other three large airports in the region. (Somehow, the cost of flying to on short notice from Westchester to Washington on American is pretty much the same as the Delta shuttle from LaGuardia.)

So you can get from Westchester to a lot of the places you can get to from JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark and at roughly the same price. But the hassle is much lower. You don’t have to arrive 90 minutes early; it usually it takes just 10 minutes from the time you park your car to the time you’re through security. The staff and crews are much less stressed, precisely because they’re handling a maximum of two departures and two arrivals per hour. When a plane arrives at Westchester, you never sit on the runway until some other plane leaves the gate. You breeze right through the terminal and are on your way to you next destination in five minutes.

Sure, things do go wrong. In fiscal year 2016, 1.7 percent of the flights from Westchester were canceled, while 76 percent left on time, and 73 percent arrived on time. The level and frequency of delays is roughly the same at Westchester as it is at the region’s bigger airports. (At LaGuardia, 2.9 percent of flights were canceled.) But it doesn’t feel that way. That’s partly because at the big airports, airlines often build in 30 minutes for taxiing and sitting on the runway. Which means that at LaGuardia and JFK, even a normal flight can seem like it is delayed.

Of course, in an era when businesses and people are flocking to the largest cities, small, provincial airports are finding it difficult to compete. But smaller airports that are in relatively close proximity to large metroplexes are finding more fans among passengers and airlines that appreciate the smaller degree of hassle. Many frequent travelers who live near big cities have their go-to small places. T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island, which is emerging as an alternative to Boston’s Logan, has added several flights from Norwegian Air and Frontier. Many Angelenos traumatized by the scrum at LAX flock to the low-key Long Beach Airport, which has added JetBlue and Southwest flights. At the Colorado Springs airport, which connects Denver-area residents to a growing number of markets, passenger traffic in June was up 22 percent from last year.

The appeal of these places is obvious: The entire experience—the parking, the security lines, the boarding lines—is much less dehumanizing. The best thing an airport can do for you is move you into and out of it as quickly as possible. It helps when there’s less airport in the first place.

Read the rest of our series about the airport as the hub of American anxiety.

David Jensen - Advert - Science Museum

David Jensen - Advert - Science Museum

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Commentaires sur “Gender, Design and Marketing”, a book justifying marketing to women with biological arguments par Daniel

by Daniel @ Commentaires pour Womenology

Il y a en effet deux thèses qui cohabitent avec des arguments biologiques d'un côté et des arguments autour de l'éducation. Chez Womenology, nous pensons que les deux thèses sont justes et ne sont pas contradictoires car les différences sont à la fois biologiques et sociétales.

Thibaut Courtois fears England will remember Diego Costa the ‘the little bully‘ and not the nice and funny striker

by wally Downes @ The Sun

THIBAUT COURTOIS fears Diego Costa will be remembered in English football as a “little bully” rather than a top-quality striker. Chelsea No 1 Courtois is preparing for Wednesday’s Champions League return to Atletico Madrid, the club where he spent three successful years on loan. Costa has rejoined Atletico for £60million after grabbing 58 goals in 120 […]

Mike Duran - Adverts - Megamix - demo

Mike Duran - Adverts - Megamix - demo

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Scott Turnbull - Corporate - Ebay - demo

Scott Turnbull - Corporate - Ebay - demo

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Emily Fairman - Advert - Drive Safe - demo

Emily Fairman - Advert - Drive Safe - demo

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New Fidget Spinner Safety Guidelines Prove We Can’t Have Nice Things

New Fidget Spinner Safety Guidelines Prove We Can’t Have Nice Things

by Nick Thieme @ Slate Articles

Along with “decline of civilization,” add “danger” to the list of reasons fidget spinners are bad for the youth: Two recent incidents reveal the mindfulness tool and classroom distraction can burst into flames and explode.

Michelle Carr of Fenton, Michigan, told an NBC outlet in May that her Bluetooth fidget spinner caught fire while it charged on her bookshelf. Another incident in June in Gardendale, Alabama, ended with a screaming child dousing a flaming fidget spinner in the sink. Like the Samsung Galaxy Note 7s of flammable products past, the culprit seems to be the batteries: In both cases, the spinners were Bluetooth-enabled and were charging when they caught fire.

On Thursday, Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairwoman of the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, released a statement addressing reports of “fires involving battery-operated fidget spinners” and providing guidelines for usage. The regulations recommend being present when the batteries are charging, only using the charger provided with the spinner, and unplugging the spinner as soon as the batteries are fully charged—the “do not look into the sun” of safety recommendations. If their recommendations on the obsolescing toy seem uninspired, well, we’ve been here before.

The CPSC has also released guidelines in response to reports of children choking on nonbattery spinners. The most notable of these accidents happened in May, when a 10-year-old girl from Texas needed surgery to remove a bearing from her throat. The CPSC reasonably recommends not putting fidget spinners in your mouth. You can imagine the eyeroll that accompanied the writing of that sentence.

Fires and choking kids undoubtedly give ammunition to humbugs and culture critics. But the CPSC disagrees, noting “they can be fun to use,” and giving a list of ways to stay safe. Maybe instead of knocking fidget spinners, pick one up and let loose. Just make sure not to mistake it for a snack.

Simon Green - Narration - Barchester Towers - demo

Simon Green - Narration - Barchester Towers - demo

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Catalina Blackman - TV Trailer - UK Gold - demo

Catalina Blackman - TV Trailer - UK Gold - demo

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David Jensen - Doc - Megamix

David Jensen - Doc - Megamix

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Seretta Wilson - Narrative - Post & Beam - demo

Seretta Wilson - Narrative - Post & Beam - demo

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Dan Ashworth has another FA footy scandal to deal with over sacking of England U16 manager Dan Micciche

by jhutchinson @ The Sun

FA bigwig Dan Ashworth is at the centre of another scandal after sacking England Under-16 coach Dan Micciche. Ashworth is being taken to an employment tribunal by Micciche after firing the highly- regarded coach without warning. EXCLUSIVE OFFER: BET £5 GET A FREE £10 BET The FA’s power-hungry technical director is already facing questions about his […]

Matthew Williamson - Ad - AudiA4 - Demo

Matthew Williamson - Ad - AudiA4 - Demo

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James Cooney - Doc - How Ecstasy Works - demo

James Cooney - Doc - How Ecstasy Works - demo

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Nico Kaufman - Adverts - MEGAMIX - demo

Nico Kaufman - Adverts - MEGAMIX - demo

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Catalina Blackman - Nar Doc Dr - Megamix

Catalina Blackman - Nar Doc Dr - Megamix

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Robert Vernon - Documentary - Boys in Blue - demo

Robert Vernon - Documentary - Boys in Blue - demo

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The Real Price of Those Cheaper Avocados

The Real Price of Those Cheaper Avocados

by Bryce Covert @ Slate Articles

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

When Whole Foods shoppers walked into a store Monday, they were met with a likely welcome change: Prices on some of the most popular items have dropped dramatically. They’ll spend 38 percent less on bananas and 43 percent less on organic Fuji apples. Even avocados, that Whole Foodsiest of fruits, got a 20-cent price cut.

We have Amazon’s purchase of the grocery chain to thank. And for federal antitrust regulators, this would seem to be a vindication of their decision to quickly and painlessly green-light the deal last week. For decades, concerns about anti-democratic control and monopolistic power led to crackdowns on consolidation, among both direct competitors and different but complementary businesses. But the focus has narrowed considerably since the 1970s, and now typically the only metric for whether a marriage between corporate behemoths could be harmful is the impact on consumer prices.

Certainly industry consolidation can, and has, led to companies using their increased power to jack up prices, hurting consumers’ wallets. But even when prices go down, as we saw Monday while we browsed for grass-fed ground beef (also on sale!), other ill effects can still follow that hurt Americans and the economy.

The suddenly lower prices at Whole Foods, then, are the perfect example of how shortsighted antitrust regulation has become. That one small victory could very well be dwarfed by the pain felt by food producers, grocery store competitors and, ultimately, the American workforce.

The Trump administration was clearly unconcerned about any of these potential ill effects. While antitrust reviews can take years, the Federal Trade Commission decided in a little over a month, without any in-depth investigation, that the deal won’t hurt competition. The deal is, of course, not one in which two large competitors decide to declare a truce and join forces against the others in their space, but rather Amazon moving aggressively into the grocery space where it was previously just a bit player. (And even so, Whole Foods gives Amazon just 1.2 percent of the grocery market.)

But that doesn’t mean the deal won’t impact competition in the larger economy. We’ve already seen the monopoly power that can be exerted through vertical integration: Luxottica controls not just most of the companies that produce eyeglasses, for example, but also the ones that sell them to you, like LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut. That means it can set prices as high as it wants and that it’s pretty tough for anyone else to get in on the game.

It’s hard to deny that Amazon hasn’t already distorted markets with its growing power. In 2013, it sold more than the next 12 online retailers combined, and some estimates have it capturing nearly half of all online shopping. More than half of all online shoppers start perusing at Amazon.com. (Disclosure: Slate is an Amazon affiliate and may receive a commission from purchases you make through our links.) “In addition to being a retailer, it is a marketing platform, a delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, an auction house, a major book publisher, a producer of television and films, a fashion designer, a hardware manufacturer, and a leading provider of cloud server space and computing power,” Yale Law School student Lina Khan wrote in an influential look at Amazon’s anti-competitive tendencies. It got there mainly through deals like the ones with Whole Foods: buying up other companies. Now it’s a grocer, too.

Its incredible ability to hoover up consumer loyalty and market share is why markets reacted the way they did to the news of its acquisition of Whole Foods. Stocks for other grocery stores and businesses that have moved into the space dropped dramatically on the expectation that they would soon face intense pressure to drop prices in order to lure customers. So did stocks for food suppliers themselves on the assumption that they, too, would have to cut prices to appease Amazon and get on Whole Foods’ shelves. Stocks fell again after news broke that Amazon would indeed slash food prices on Monday.

Yet Amazon has thus far mostly avoided antitrust scrutiny for one crucial reason: It undercuts prices. Rather than use its position of influence to drive up profit through higher consumer costs, its business model has emphasized scale and market share over larger returns, and part of how it got there was by forcing prices as low as it could.

It is this very feature of Amazon’s business model, however, that makes it such a predatory actor for everyone else around it. It uses its influence in online shopping to pressure suppliers to dramatically drop their prices, wringing as much discount from their margins as it can. It pushes for practices in supplier warehouses that have become notorious for the ill treatment of workers—but that model helps it deliver cheap goods incredibly quickly, and few suppliers can refuse to participate.

These practices could spell danger for a variety of American workers. Amazon’s ownership could pose a risk to the smaller local farms that have thus far supplied food to Whole Foods if they can’t deliver at cutthroat rates. One place they and other food producers may look to cut: wages for workers. As David Dayen has pointed out, thanks in large part to decent wages and benefits Whole Foods employees aren’t unionized in an industry where most are. That, too, is put at risk by an owner that’s focused exclusively on low prices and quick service, both within Whole Foods’ walls and at other grocery store workplaces that now have to compete with it.

Between the 1930s and 1960s, in the heyday of anti-monopoly fervor, these problems would have been cause for quite a lot of concern. Taking an economic structuralist view of concentration, regulators and courts assumed that concentrated markets would by necessity foster anti-competitive outcomes, such as price fixing, collusion, blocking new entrants, and using their outsize power to squeeze suppliers, consumers, and workers. Prices, market share, and size weren’t the only considerations: Things like conflict of interest and the ability to ward off competition also counted against deals. The Supreme Court held in 1963 that a merger that would result in control of more than 30 percent of any market was unlawful.

But then Robert Bork published The Antitrust Paradox, a book that changed an entire regulatory regime. He argued that the sole purpose of antitrust policing should be to maximize consumer welfare—mostly, to ensure that prices don’t increase too much. The assumptions shifted, with regulators and courts taking for granted that markets are efficient and companies will seek to maximize profits. The only check needed was to ensure prices didn’t rise above competitive levels.

We still haven’t moved very far away from this framework, even as antitrust enforcement has come back into political vogue. Hillary Clinton made beefed-up antitrust enforcement a main plank of her economic agenda during the presidential election. The Democratic Party has now taken up the torch, putting a spotlight on how the government has allowed business to “tilt … the economic playing field in favor of the wealthy and powerful,” in the words of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Their “Better Deal” agenda promises to “crack down on monopolies and the concentration of economic power” by, in part, creating a new “Trust Buster” entity to more closely scrutinize proposed mergers.

Yet the Trust Buster would still be focused by and large on the impact on consumer prices. Democrats singled out the airline, beer, eyeglass, food, and telecom industries as particularly concentrated and worrisome, but mostly because costs have risen. This isn’t surprising: Voters are quick to feel outrage over prices that pinch their budgets.

The harm of increased concentration runs much deeper, however. When only a few large players exist in an industry, they have little reason to increase compensation—or even the number of jobs—given that workers in the space have few other places to go. If they don’t like the conditions, well then, too bad. Industries that have experienced the biggest increases in concentration, in fact, have also seen the largest declines in workers’ share of profits.

A rigid focus just on consumer prices misses this and all other negative outcomes of today’s increasing industry concentration, which also includes political dominance. Reverting back to a broader view of antitrust regulation and what counts as deal breakers for American consumers, workers, and voters might have, if not stopped the Amazon–Whole Foods deal, at least slowed it down and offered an opportunity for the government to demand concessions. Perhaps we don’t need to go back to the days of Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting. But in an era of stagnant wages and rising income inequality, it’s worth asking what role monopolies play.

Consumers may rejoice that Whole Foods’ prices, like $6 for water with asparagus stalks in it, are coming down. It’s a happy side effect. But it can’t cover up the deeper disease of increasing monopoly power throughout the economy and the current antitrust regime’s utter inability to keep it in check.

Timothy George - Advert - Nokia Lumia - demo

Timothy George - Advert - Nokia Lumia - demo

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David Jensen - Doc - Plague

David Jensen - Doc - Plague

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Horse racing tips: Kempton, Leicester and Hamilton – Templegate’s top betting preview for Monday, September 25

by hfuller @ The Sun

  LIGHT up the bookies with LIGHTNING CHARLIE (4.35 Kempton, nap). Amanda Perrett’s improving handicapper has been competing at a higher level than this on turf and will do better returned to the all-weather. Jim Crowley is back in the saddle and he has a great record on him. Sportsfile WILLYTHECONQUEROR (3.40 Leicester, nb) has tumbled […]

How beauty giant Dove went from empowering to patronising

How beauty giant Dove went from empowering to patronising


the Guardian

The £3bn toiletries brand was one of the first brands to embrace ‘femvertising’, but its body-shaped bottles have been roundly ridiculed. Can it repair the damage?

Joe Shire - Ad - SkyBet - Demo

Joe Shire - Ad - SkyBet - Demo

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Does Bio Oil really work? Episode 82

Does Bio Oil really work? Episode 82

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

This week we answer listener questions about Bio Oil and other products. But first, another game of Improbable Products… Improbable Products Which of these bad body odor products is not real: The iPhone bad breathalyzer that tells you if you have halitosis. Odor detecting gym socks that change color when you feet start to smell. […]

Scientists reveal humans could live on the Moon and Mars in underground tunnels

by Jacob Dirnhuber @ The Sun

HUMANS could live on the Moon and Mars in natural underground ­tunnels, scientists believe. The caves, caused by ancient volcanic activity, would protect them from deadly cosmic radiation. Getty - Contributor European Space Agency astronauts have begun training in tunnels 100ft wide on Lanzarote. But Italian scientists said caves on the Moon and Mars could […]

Mike Duran - Drama - Dogs Barking - demo

Mike Duran - Drama - Dogs Barking - demo

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Mel B makes rare red carpet appearance with formerly-estranged mother as they heal decade-long rift… as she gets VERY close to male stylist pal

by Olivia Waring @ The Sun

MEL B joins her estranged mother Andrea Brown on the red carpet in Hollywood as they’re pictured for the first time since burying their decade-long feud. The ex Spice Girl has been joined by her mum in the States for support during her divorce court battle with Stephen Belafonte – and on the same night […]

Commentaires sur The most desired US brands by women … and men par Etude : les femmes et la technologie « Les News du planning

by Etude : les femmes et la technologie « Les News du planning @ Commentaires pour Womenology

[...] La plupart des marques des secteurs concernés n’ont pas perçu ce potentiel de consommation et ont délaissés les femmes dans leurs stratégies. À l’inverse, ceux qui comme Sony ont eu du flair se sont vus récompenser : avec des actions comme « Sony loves Women ! » ou la commercialisation d’une PSP Pink (première console portable conçue pour les femmes), le groupe nippon a réussi à devenir la 2e marque préférée des consommatrices américaines. [...]

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku misses team bus home after Southampton win… because he was struggling to provide urine sample

by jhutchinson @ The Sun

MANCHESTER UNITED’S team bus left St Mary’s without match-winner Romelu Lukaku on Saturday night. But it was a different bus Jose Mourinho’s team parked on the pitch to make sure Lukaku’s first-half strike secured another victory. The Belgian found it harder to provide a urine sample for drug-testers than score goals this season and had […]

David Jensen - Adverts - Megamix 2

David Jensen - Adverts - Megamix 2

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Spelman College to Admit Transgender Female Students

Spelman College to Admit Transgender Female Students

by Clutch @ Clutch Magazine

Spelman College has announced that they will admit transgender women students starting next year. The women’s college said in a letter that they will admit those who consistently live and self-identify as women, regardless of their gender assignment at birth. Spelman will have a committee to...

Paul Matania - Documentary - Teen Trouble - demo

Paul Matania - Documentary - Teen Trouble - demo

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Lena Waithe Makes Emmy History

Lena Waithe Makes Emmy History

by Clutch @ Clutch Magazine

Lena Waithe has made Emmy history as the first African-American woman to win for comedy writing at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Waithe won for co-writing the “Thanksgiving” episode of “Master of None” with series co-creator and star, Aziz Ansari. Waithe has also had a...

Dan Blaskey - Drama - Chasing Amy - demos

Dan Blaskey - Drama - Chasing Amy - demos

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This Startup Will Let You Go to the Movies Anytime for $10 a Month. It’s Probably Doomed.

This Startup Will Let You Go to the Movies Anytime for $10 a Month. It’s Probably Doomed.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, Americans have gotten used to thinking about home entertainment as a $10-per-month, all-you-can-binge buffet. Now, a company run by one of Netflix's co-founders wants to bring a similar model to movie theaters—which are decidedly unhappy about it.

This week, the 6-year-old startup MoviePass announced that it was dropping the cost of its ticket subscription service to $9.95 a month. For a little more than the price of a large popcorn, users will (theoretically) be allowed to catch one flick every day at any theater in the country that accepts Mastercard. (According to the company's website, that covers 91 percent of theaters nationwide). However, the announcement drew a quick rebuke from AMC, the country's biggest cinema chain, which said in a statement that it was conferring with lawyers about whether it could block customers from using MoviePass at its theaters.

It's unclear whether AMC can do such a thing. Then again, it might not need to, since MoviePass seems to be counting on AMC's long-term cooperation to survive.

At the moment, MoviePass is poised to burn a prodigious pile of cash subsidizing the cost of its subscriptions. That's because every time a customer buys their movie ticket using one of the company's debit cards, it pays the theater for the full cost of admission. Given that the average film ticket cost $8.65 last year, MoviePass will end up losing money on every user who sees two or more showings a month. In big markets like New York, where catching the latest Avengers installment can easily cost $15, they'll come out behind on users who see just one movie a month.

This is not promising arithmetic. But CEO Mitch Lowe, the Netflix co-founder and Redbox executive who took the reins at MoviePass last year, thinks he has a vision to make his low, low price point work. He argues that his company's service gives theaters a big boost to ticket and concession sales, and eventually, theaters will feel compelled to hand MoviePass a slice of the extra profits, or maybe pay them back via advertising.

“There must be some way to make us whole,” Lowe told Variety. “We know we have to prove the value we deliver and, at that point in time, where we’re delivering value to studios and theaters, we can work together with them in a constructive manner so that everybody makes more money.”

That might not be quite as crazy as it sounds. U.S. movie ticket sales have been stagnant for about a decade now, as Americans have come to prefer Netflixing and chilling to sipping $6 Sierra Mists in an air-conditioned cavern full of strangers. At the same time, ticket prices have continually hit record highs, thus chagrining regular filmgoers, along with anybody who has ever suffered the indignity of paying out the nose to see a mediocre summer blockbuster. And while box office totals have edged up slightly over that time, they've failed to keep pace with inflation since 2009. In the era of unlimited TV and tunes, trying to lure Americans to go back to the cinema by cutting prices conceivably seems worth a try.

But it's also easy to guess why a company like AMC would recoil at Lowe's plan. In its statement, the chain argued that MoviePass' pricing was economically unsustainable, and “only sets up consumers for ultimate disappointment down the road if or when the product can no longer be fulfilled.” That's probably a valid concern. But more broadly, AMC can't be happy about the idea of a digital middle-man inserting itself into its industry, ultimately angling for a cut of the profits from each moviegoer even as it puts downward pressure on the price of an individual ticket. (AMC and MoviePass actually launched a pilot program together a few years ago when the startup's subscription prices were much higher, but the relationship has clearly soured.)

The sort of odd thing about MoviePass is that it's trying to become a middle man without asking permission first—or securing any payment for its services. Online ticketers like Fandango strike deals with theaters for the right to sell their seats, then market their service to the public. MoviePass is going to the public first, and hoping to gin up so much business that theaters will eventually strike a deal. The reason it can go that route is that its product is essentially just an app with movie times and a subscription debit card that customers can use to charge tickets to the company's account. Lowe argued to Bloomberg that for AMC to block his service from their theaters, they'd have to start declining Mastercard. Still, he's not going to make any money until he wins them over.

And if he can't? It's possible MoviePass could find other paths to profit. Eventually, it wants to use data on its users' moviegoing habits to sell targeted advertising. (How lucrative that could really be seems like an open question.) Or, it's possible that at $9.95, hordes of would-be film buffs will sign up for the service, then fail to see a movie each month. Milking money from subscribers who don't actually use the service was the company's original plan back when it was founded in 2011 and charged $30 a month, Bloomberg notes. But becoming the AOL of movie tickets doesn't seem like a recipe for long-term success.

It's a rather daring plan, all in all, made slightly less daring by the fact that MoviePass has already offloaded some of the risk: It sold a majority stake to a data-analytics firm on Tuesday to finance the scheme. If it succeeds, Lowe will have pulled off the impressive feat of fixing theaters' business model against their will. If it crashes and burns, at least savvy moviegoers will get a few cheap flicks out of the deal.

Jose Mourinho will escape FA punishment for being sent off against Southampton with Manchester United also set to dodge penalty for fans’ Romelu Lukaku song

by wally Downes @ The Sun

JOSE MOURINHO and Manchester United are set to escape FA raps. The United boss was sent off in stoppage time of Saturday’s 1-0 Prem win at Southampton for stepping on to the pitch. But, unlike red-carded players, managers do not face an automatic ban. And the FA could go lightly on him when they read […]

Seretta Wilson - Movie Trailer - demo

Seretta Wilson - Movie Trailer - demo

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Mike Duran - Drama - Our New Girl - demo

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Does pressed powder makeup always contain synthetic ingredients?

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

Mary asks…Is is possible to make pressed makeup without using any synthetics? The Beauty Brains respond Rather than re-opened the debate on natural vs synthetic, I’ll try to address your question as it applies specifically to powdered makeup. Loose powder needs fewer ingredients One can certainly make the case that certain brands of so-called mineral makeup […]

People Are Freaking Out Over A Photo of Super-Sized Kanye West

by Michael Harriot on The Grapevine, shared by Michael Harriot to The Root @ The Root

Black Twitter lost its collective mind yesterday when photos of a plus-sized Kanye West surfaced, forcing what could either be called “fat-shaming” or a savage roasting session, depending on which side of the aisle you sit.

Read more...

Jeff Sessions Says Dreamers Are Stealing American Jobs. The Government’s Own Numbers Show That’s Absurd.

Jeff Sessions Says Dreamers Are Stealing American Jobs. The Government’s Own Numbers Show That’s Absurd.

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

On Tuesday, the labor department came out with its latest figures on job openings in the U.S.  At the end of July, there were a record 6.17 million open positions, up from 5.97 million at the end of July 2016. It is ironic that this measure of employers’ inability to fill posts came out exactly a week after Attorney General Jeff Sessions used the alleged scarcity of jobs to justify rescinding the protection afforded to the 800,000 Dreamers—undocumented immigrants who arrived here as small children, who the government has allowed to remain and work here. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy was bad, he said, because “it also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.”

Sessions betrayed not only a cruel, zero-sum view of the economy but a shocking misunderstanding of the current job market. Today, in the 99th month of the current expansion, at a time when the unemployment rate is 4.4 percent and the economy has added payroll jobs for 83 straight months, there are a bunch of reasons why you might be unemployed. DACA is almost certainly not one of them.

It’s possible that a worker overseas took your job because your company decided your position could be done more cheaply somewhere else—say, in Mexico or China.

It’s possible that a robot or a string of code operating in the U.S. took your job, as is happening at some warehouses and fast-food restaurants.

It’s possible that norms, laws, and regulations stand in the way of you getting a job. For example, most companies ask prospective applicants whether they have been convicted of crimes—and many have formal or informal policies of not offering positions to ex-cons. In addition, per the Council of State Governments, “The American Bar Association has documented 27,254 state occupational licensing restrictions nationwide for people with a criminal record. For a host of reasons, many companies ask prospective employees to take drug tests. Due to the continuing opioid crisis, a rising number of people are effectively excluded from the labor force. The CEO of a manufacturer in Ohio in July told Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times that a quarter of applicants fail drug tests—and hence are ineligible to be hired.

It’s possible that you are what might be called geographically unemployed—i.e., you live in a place where there aren’t many opportunities (like Rome, Georgia, where the unemployment rate is 6.3 percent) but don’t have the means, ability, or desire to move to a place where jobs are more plentiful (like Fort Collins, Colorado, where the unemployment rate is 2.1 percent).

It’s possible you might not have the skills or training to find a job. To hear industry tell it, America is suffering from shortages in a range of disciplines that require specialized training or education. There’s a shortage of nurses, qualified insurance inspectors, truck drivers, and teachers, for example.

It’s possible that you might be unemployed because employers lack the ability or desire to employ you—that is to say, they’re unwilling to offer wages, conditions, or working hours that make it sufficiently attractive or compelling enough for you to accept an offer.

Each of the phenomena I’ve described is real. Each contributes to the problem of unemployment and underemployment in the U.S. Do immigrants (documented and undocumented), new labor force entrants, college graduates, mothers returning to work, old people unretiring, people leaving the military and entering civilian life compete for you to get a specific job? For sure. Is it possible that you are not working at a particular position today because someone—possibly a Dreamer—was hired for a particular position instead of you? Yes.

But their presence alone isn’t denying you a job. The 800,000 Dreamers are a tiny drop in the overall labor bucket in the United States. Every large company that has hired Dreamers has dozens, if not hundreds, of openings it is trying to fill. It is mathematically and physically impossible for the 800,000 Dreamers to displace a large number of American workers at a time when unemployment is 4.3 percent and companies are seeking to fill 6.2 million jobs.

So if Dreamers aren’t stealing jobs, Sessions must have some other reason to want them gone from this country. What ever could it be?

Toys R Us Is Dying From a Lack of Imagination

Toys R Us Is Dying From a Lack of Imagination

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

Of course Toys R Us has filed for bankruptcy protection. We’re in the midst of a retail apocalypse. Brick-and-mortar chains are losing market share to e-commerce. Big box and mall-based stores are suffering from declines in foot traffic. Kids—even little kids—prefer tablets, phones, and screens to toys and games. Live births have fallen since the onset of the Great Recession, so there are fewer toddlers for which to buy stuffed animals. How would you expect Toys R Us to survive in the Amazon age?

And yet, in some ways, this was not inevitable—or it was not inevitable that Toys R Us would meet its end as a viable company so soon. In the New York Times, Kevin Roose writes this week about how Best Buy, another big-box retailer beset by competition from e-commerce whose products are subject to massive deflation, is actually doing quite well. “Revenue figures have beaten Wall Street’s expectations in six of the last seven quarters,” Roose writes. “The company’s stock price has risen more than 50 percent in the past year. Workers are happy.”

What accounts for the difference? In two words, the balance sheet. And in one word, management. Toys R Us was owned and run by financial engineers when what it needed most was some business re-engineering.

In 2005, Toys R Us was taken private by a consortium of private equity investors—KKR, Bain Capital, and Vornado Realty Trust—for $6.6 billion. In recent years private equity investors have talked a good game about how they improve businesses. But the reality is they use a blunt instrument to impose discipline on the managers they hire to run their companies: debt.

Leverage can be a powerful motivating tool—unless you stay current on your debt, you go bust and surrender ownership. Businesses with large debt loads often act with great urgency to restructure, to cut costs, and to rationalize so they can be sure they have the cash to survive. This exercise often makes companies stronger and more valuable. The tactic works particularly well in industries where managers can rely on steady growth and don’t have to fret too much about fundamentally reinventing the business.

But this modus operandi has its limits if you’re in a deflationary environment and have a tough time maintaining positive margins. And it especially has its limits if your industry is facing fundamental, life-threatening disruption, like, say, Amazon. In these instances, the necessity to pay interest first crowds out other investment. Every penny you spend making bondholders and banks whole is a penny not spent on building new payment systems, constructing whiz-bang superefficient distribution centers, acquiring labor-saving robots, sprucing up stores so that they are more appealing to customers, or raising wages so you can attract and retain the best salespeople and managers in an increasingly competitive labor market.

There’s no guarantee that retailers who successfully make such investments will thrive. But if you’re not trying that hard, there’s no way to keep up with better capitalized competitors. Unfortunately, for the past decade, while it should have been aggressively reinventing itself, Toys R Us has been laboring under $5 billion in debt used to finance the acquisition. In 2016, a year in which Toys R Us sales fell 2.2 percent to $11.5 billion, the company spent $457 million on interest payments on its $4.6 billion in long-term debt. By comparison, the company’s operating income for the whole year was $460 million. Put another way, after paying interest, Toys R Us had only a few million dollars to invest.

Best Buy provides a good example of how to turn around a company in the same position as Toys R Us. The companies were suffering from all the same macro woes. And electronics is a brutal business. But Best Buy’s CEO is a professional business engineer, not a financial engineer. As Roose notes, since taking over in 2012, Hubert Joly, a former McKinsey consultant, has managed a turnaround by focusing on low prices, investing in customer service (so that people could have consultations on products before buying), revamping stores so they have dedicated kiosks for popular manufacturers like Apple, and quietly cutting costs.

In the most recent fiscal years, Best Buy’s sales were essentially flat at $39.4 billion. But the chain, whose sales are nearly four times larger than those of Toys R Us, has only $1.4 billion in debt—about one-third the total Toys R Us has. In all of fiscal 2017, Best Buy spent only $72 million on interest—just .2 percent of its revenues, compared with 4 percent of revenues for Toys R Us. The sharply different financial profile means that Best Buy, for the past several years, has had a far greater ability to use the cash flow it generates to pay for investments that bolster its competitive standing instead of simply channeling it all to interest payments.

Toys R Us could have borrowed from Best Buy’s playbook and added some wrinkles: strengthen its logistics systems so it could compete on price with Amazon, create party and play spaces for kids, spend more to hire employees who will engage children, offer toy and gadget repair. Ultimately, Toys R Us was undone by the lack of the precise attribute that it aims to appeal to in its core customers: imagination.

Seretta Wilson - Animation - demos

Seretta Wilson - Animation - demos

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Simon Cowell left shocked as woman strips during audition while X Factor viewers complain about HIM showing too much flesh

by lfranklin @ The Sun

SIMON Cowell may have been left shocked as a woman stripped off before her X Factor audition tonight, but he had viewers at home begging HIM to cover up. The show kicked off with 52-year-old Susan arriving in front of the panel dressed as Amy Winehouse and ready to belt out Valerie, however Simon, 57, […]

England legend Rio Ferdinand reflects on how heartbreaking death of his wife Rebecca ‘made him more loving’

by Sun Internet 2 @ The Sun

WHEN Rio Ferdinand’s wife Rebecca died of breast cancer in 2015, he was left to raise their three kids – Lorenz, now ten, Tate, eight, and Tia, six. Despite his initial despair making him turn to booze, Rio, 38, is slowly rebuilding his life. He has started dating again and girlfriend Kate Wright, 26, has […]

Simon Green - Advert - Classic FM - demo

Simon Green - Advert - Classic FM - demo

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Atlanta Teacher Suspended After Assigning Kodak Black Lyric Homework

Atlanta Teacher Suspended After Assigning Kodak Black Lyric Homework

by Clutch @ Clutch Magazine

A 6th grade teacher in Atlanta has been suspended after asking students to change the lyrics from a Kodak Black song to sound more positive. The teacher at Georgia’s Bethune Middle School asked the students to change A Boogie Wit da Hoodie’s “Drowning” for a school assignment. The...

David Jensen - Adverts - Megamix 1

David Jensen - Adverts - Megamix 1

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Seretta Wilson - Advert - Cancer Society

Seretta Wilson - Advert - Cancer Society

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Mothers criticise Baby Dove adverts

Mothers criticise Baby Dove adverts


BBC News

Dozens complain to the watchdog about the campaign which some say is against breastfeeding in public.

Domestic home help services, a precious aid for women

by aufeminin @ Womenology

Used more and more by active women to avoid being overwhelmed with household chores, domestic home help services are an excellent way of offloading certain obligations… for a relatively inexpensive price. Particularly interesting from a financial point of view due …

Continuer la lecture

The post Domestic home help services, a precious aid for women appeared first on Womenology.

Betsy DeVos Trolls America, Picks a Former For-Profit College Dean to Run an Anti-Fraud Squad

Betsy DeVos Trolls America, Picks a Former For-Profit College Dean to Run an Anti-Fraud Squad

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

This week, the Trump administration inched ever-so deeper into the realm of pitch-black comedy, when Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos selected a former for-profit college dean to head a squad that investigates fraud in higher education.

Julian Schmoke Jr., who worked as a dean at DeVry University from late 2008 to 2012, will head the Education Department’s Student Aid Enforcement Unit, which President Obama created in 2016 to both crack down on bad behavior by colleges and analyze fraud claims by former students seeking to have their loans forgiven. While the task force wasn’t exclusively designed to deal with for-profit institutions, those schools have of course been a hotbed of fraudulent activity within the world of higher ed. Under Obama, regulators led an aggressive and often successful campaign to rein in the worst practices by some of the country’s education chains.

Including, as it just so happens, DeVry. In December 2016, the company agreed to a $100 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations that for years it had misled students into enrolling using bogus employment stats. Dating back to at least 2008, the school had run TV ads claiming that 90 percent of its graduates found work within their field. But according to the FTC’s complaint, the school blatantly fudged that figure by including in it students who had actually taken menial service industry jobs. Grads who were employed selling clothes at Macy’s and serving food at the Cheesecake Factory were counted as having work “in their field,” for instance.

Ironically, the Department of Education actually bragged about the DeVry settlement in the press release announcing Student Aid Enforcement Unit, which will now be headed by one of the school’s ex-employees.

I haven’t seen anybody suggest that the Schmoke was personally involved in any of his former employers’ chicanery. There may be reason to question what he knew, since his LinkedIn page notes that, among other responsibilities, his job included “coaching and identifying students for placement into jobs and internships in collaboration with Career Services.” But ultimately, he worked for at a school that, according to the goverment, was actively scamming students at the time. Now he is in charge of policing the scammers. The administration’s bland reassurance that, “Dr. Schmoke neither had any knowledge of or involvement in the settlement agreement between the university and the U.S. Department of Education” is pretty cold comfort. The fox-guarding-the-hen-house tweets have of course written themselves.

It has been obvious from the get-go that Donald Trump and DeVos  would let for-profit colleges run wild over the next few years. Our president, after all, marketed a scam series of get-rich-quick real estate seminars as ”Trump University.” Our education secretary is basically a walking cautionary tale about the power of wealth in politics who evinced zero interest in consumer protections for students. Since taking over her Department, she’s already begun the process of rewriting and watering down the gainful employment regulations that were designed to punish schools that saddled students with too much debt and worthless degrees. Compared to that move, this appointment is relatively small potatoes. But as an act of trolling? Even by the Trump administration’s standards, it’s pretty stupendous.

Scott Turnbull - Advert - Learn Direct - demo

Scott Turnbull - Advert - Learn Direct - demo

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How Do You Create Attentive, Responsible Teens? Give ’Em Jobs!

How Do You Create Attentive, Responsible Teens? Give ’Em Jobs!

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

One of the things I love most about my small town is our grocery store. The prices are low and the selection is decent. But it’s the customer service at Market Basket that makes picking up milk and broccoli such an agreeable errand. As in many retail settings heavy on entry-level jobs, a fair proportion of Market Basket’s employees are teenagers. But these teens aren’t surly or inept or mumblingly awkward like the ones at Cinnabon. These bright young things make friendly eye contact, they dress neatly, and they make pleasantly professional small talk. When I was visibly pregnant a few years ago, baggers walked me out to my car, helped to load my bags, and whisked away the cart afterward. These days they greet my toddler by name in the store. This is Generation Z as if designed in a lab by Greatest Generation scientists.

Now, I’ve been to other stores with some perfectly adequate teenage employees, but how does Market Basket ensure that all their teens are so freshly scrubbed and gung-ho? When I asked the company’s operations supervisor, Joe Schmidt, about its training procedures, I half expected a secret formula: an intense indoctrination program, a complex mentoring system, military-style bagging drills. Instead, he described a one-day orientation, a detailed employee handbook, and corporate “core values” that put customer service first. It all sounded reasonable enough, but it didn’t quite explain why my unremarkable New England supermarket feels like the set of Pleasantville.

As it turns out, one secret to making a good teenage employee is simply employing a teenager. When I reported on teenage employment a few years ago, experts told me over and over how having a job is an invaluable tool for teaching young people “soft skills” like dependability and communication. Employers tend to be much less forgiving of attendance problems than schools are, and the workplace is often the first time teenagers are expected to interact as equals with adult supervisors and customers. Entry-level customer service jobs are where many teens first absorb the kind of basic life skills that make them employable in other fields later—and more pleasant to be around in the meantime. Hiring them is exactly what turns them into people you’d want to hire.

I was 14 when I got my first real job, working the counter at a snack bar on a college campus near my home. Yes, I learned how to operate a cash register and how to reheat the vat of old nacho cheese. But the real skills the job imparted were intangible: I had to learn how to respond to people who had special requests and obscure questions, reasonable and unreasonable. Some were grouchy for reasons that weren’t my fault, and sometimes for reasons that were my fault; they required cheerful on-the-spot solutions either way. In the next few years, those skills were honed further at a series of full-service restaurant jobs, which raised the stakes. Critics point out that tip-based systems end up privileging white men as customers and create a variety of other structural problems. All absolutely true, but I got a real charge out of hustling for tips. When you work for tips, you literally receive cash in proportion to your social expertise—the ability to quickly “read” a group of people and provide the exact style of service (chatty, speedy, flirty) that suits their needs. This was sometimes wildly satisfying, and other times stressful or humiliating. In other words, it was a lot like the rest of my working life would be.

If service-oriented jobs are where teenagers learn to be adults, it’s disturbing, then, that the teenage employment rate has dropped dramatically. In 2000, 46 percent of 16-to-19-year-olds had a job in any given month. Last year, just 30 percent were working. That slump is happening for several reasons, including the decline of entry-level jobs and the fact that more adult workers are resigning themselves to low-paying service work. Meanwhile, white teenagers and those from higher-income families are notably more likely to have jobs. In 2017, the after-school job is becoming a luxury experience.

There’s a risk to fetishizing teen employment as some kind of assembly line for producing cheerful, obedient capitalist drones. But for the teenagers who may not have their first real job until they’re in their 20s, the trend could have real consequences. “This is the first generation that will not have major work experience as part of their adolescent development,” Jeylan Mortimer, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota, told me back in 2014. “This raises major concerns.”

Which brings me back to Market Basket. Schmidt, the company’s director of operations, started working for the company at 14 as a bagger at a store in Danvers, Massachusetts. He worked there throughout high school and college, and made it a career after he graduated. He has now worked for the company for 31 years, and he’s proud that it’s a place that tries to make every employee feel important. “It’s my first job and hopefully my last job,” he said. Schmidt was an amiable, knowledgeable, and helpful guy. Perhaps he learned it on the job.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell vows to cut interest payments on debt-laden Brits – but it could cost the City £13bn

by modonnell @ The Sun

SHADOW Chancellor John McDonnell declared war on banks last night by vowing to cap interest payments on debt-laden Brits. Mr McDonnell will today outline plans for a 100 per cent ceiling for three million owing on average £3,464 in a move that could cost the City £13billion. The plan, in which someone borrowing £1,000 would […]

Puerto Rico’s Best Hope for Keeping the Lights On

Puerto Rico’s Best Hope for Keeping the Lights On

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

When Hurricane Irma swept through South Florida on Sept. 10, about 4.5 million homes lost power in an extended blackout. In the days afterward, eight people died of heat-related causes at a nursing home without power in Hollywood, Florida. Floridians directed their outrage at Florida Power and Light, one of the state’s private regulated utilities, which was accused of shorting resilience spending as profits rose year after year.

Ten days later, the blow that Hurricane Maria has delivered to Puerto Rico made Irma’s impact on Florida look like a spring shower. Meanwhile, the service, management, and upkeep of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, makes Florida Power and Light look like Amazon.

A 2016 report on PREPA commissioned by the Puerto Rican government is scathing. In the latter months of that year, for example, Puerto Ricans experienced four to five times the number of service outages as U.S. customers on average, though they pay the second-highest rates in the U.S. after Hawaii. Instead of investing in preventive maintenance, PREPA operates in a permanent state of triage. Its budget is “opaque and discretionary.” Record keeping is “subpar.” A third of the capital budget is spend on discretionary administrative expenses, hinting at a slush fund. Thirty percent of PREPA’s employees have retired or migrated to the mainland since 2012, the Washington Post reports—especially its skilled workers. Money is short, the report concludes, but so is human and intellectual capital.

The agency has $9 billion in debt and said it needs $4 billion to upgrade its infrastructure, including plants whose reliance on oil is passed onto Puerto Ricans in the form of high rates and dirty air. It filed for bankruptcy in July.

And that was before a Category 5 hurricane pounded the island this week.

Maria has left apocalyptic scenes on Puerto Rico, where 150 mph winds stripped whole hillsides bare of leaves and toppled concrete power-line poles. Precipitation rivaled global records, and river flows obliterated previous highs. Parts of the island received the sum of Hurricane Harvey’s three-day Houston rainfall in less than 24 hours—a year’s worth of Seattle precipitation in just a day, as the meteorologist Eric Holthaus noted.

PREPA director Ricardo Ramos said the power grid has been “destroyed.” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told Anderson Cooper it would take months to restore electricity to the island’s 3.5 million residents. It’s a task made more complicated by the fact that PREPA has become a political football, a problem symptomatic both of Puerto Rico’s economic crisis and the controversial Washington-run political system in place to manage the island, including its maligned power corporation.

The island has spent more than a decade in recession. Unemployment is more than 10 percent, and the population declined by more than 10 percent between 2004 and 2016. In 2015 alone, the net outward migration was more than 64,000, according to Pew. Six in 10 children live in poverty.

In May, Puerto Rico filed for bankruptcy under the provisions set forth in PROMESA (Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act), a law signed by President Obama in the summer of 2016. The act established a financial control board for the island, similar to the emergency managers that have governed Detroit and other American cities in the wake of bankruptcies.

So far, that board has made some unpopular decisions, cutting spending on public health by 30 percent, closing schools, and lowering the minimum wage for young people to a little over $4 an hour. In the near term, austerity will worsen conditions on the island, where analysts expect the recession to continue until 2020. Many Puerto Ricans see the board as a tool of colonial oversight; at the time PROMESA passed, Bernie Sanders said it was a “junta” that would rule the island like “a colonial master.”

But this summer, the financial control board did something surprisingly wise, much to the disappointment of the congressional Republicans who created it: It voted 4–3 to reject a restructuring agreement for the power authority’s $9 billion in debt, infuriating the hedge funds that had negotiated a repayment deal to recoup 85 percent of what they were owed.

Luis Santini Gaudier, a consumer representative on the PREPA board, had criticized the deal as “lucrative business” for creditors who had bought PREPA debt on the cheap. The deal was a rip-off, wrote Tom Sanzillo, the director of finance for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, in the Hill: “Puerto Rico’s economic growth for an entire generation will go largely to off-island financiers rather than into the Puerto Rican economy.” (And that was before accounting for the rest of Puerto Rico’s $60 billion in debt.)

The board’s idea is to privatize PREPA. “Lowering the price of electricity and spurring economic growth depended on reforming Prepa’s operations, not merely restructuring its credit,” the four members who had rejected the debt deal wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Privatization would allow PREPA to “modernize its power supply, depoliticize its management, reform pensions, and renegotiate labor and other contracts to operate more efficiently.” Most importantly, they wrote, no new investment will come into PREPA’s plants, transformers, and lines if Puerto Rico ratepayers are spending the next three decades paying off debt to vulture funds in New York.

This plan has made unlikely allies of New York bankers and Puerto Rican labor unions. Union officials are convinced PREPA chiefs are deliberately letting the system fall apart to strengthen the case for privatization, which the island’s governor declared was inevitable before the hurricanes hit. Unions believe their contracts and pensions are safer with elected politicians than with independent business leaders.

The banks, which sued the fiscal control board and lost, should be worried that PREPA’s assets could be sold off for a song in order to get a private operator invested in the island’s power system. They’ll wind up getting paid less, and later, than will newer investors eager to rebuild the island’s infrastructure. Their goal—getting paid for years to come by Puerto Ricans on their electricity bills—is at odds with the fiscal control board’s goal of making the island’s electricity cheaper.

PREPA has played up the extent to which recent funding shortfalls (during the control board era and before) have precipitated the crisis. Ramos, PREPA’s executive director, noted before Irma that the utility’s plants were vulnerable because no money had been spent on maintenance. Miguel A. Soto-Class, the president of the Center for a New Economy, a Puerto Rican research group, told the New York Times that a lack of tree pruning (again, to save money) had left the country’s 2,478 miles of transmission lines and 31,485 miles of distribution lines vulnerable to a storm. “PREPA’s current weak financial condition will affect the utility’s ability to quickly repair and restore service after this natural disaster,” Moody’s wrote in early September, before Irma.

Now a disaster has struck that is worse than what anyone had imagined; damage will likely cost hundreds of millions to repair, even as the future of PREPA—including such basic questions as its ownership—remains tangled up in politics. “This is a moment of crisis that we need to benefit from and transform into an opportunity of change, production and investment,” Jenniffer González, the island’s nonvoting representative in Congress, told the New York Times after Irma.

This wouldn’t be the first disaster to ease the way toward privatization. Selling off public assets has never been popular in Puerto Rico, but less popular still, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, will be a dysfunctional PREPA that can’t turn the lights on.

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Emily Fairman - Advert - OXO - demo

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Molly's story

Molly's story


Dove UK

Read on to discover Molly’s story, how she overcame her depression from losing her sight at 14 and why we asked her for her thoughts on Dove Shower Foam

Your Misery at the Airport Is Great for Business

Your Misery at the Airport Is Great for Business

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

RadioShack is barely walking—but InMotion Entertainment Group, which sells electronics in airports, is thriving. It now has 125 locations and is the 43rd-largest consumer electronics company in the U.S.

Newsstands are shutting down—even Harvard Square’s famous Out of Town News is in jeopardy. But Hudson News, many of whose locations are in airports, has dozens of stores under construction.

Yes, there is a brick-and-mortar retail apocalypse afflicting large chunks of the industry. Sure, home-improvement stores and dining establishments are doing OK, but retail chains are going bankrupt at a furious pace, malls are emptying out, Sears is enduring its decadelong calvary, and Manhattan’s avenues are suddenly pocked with vacant storefronts. But there is one chunk of the vast retailing sector that seems to be going strong, with no caveats: stores in airports.

When was the last time you saw blight in a terminal? Selling electronics, books, clothes, food, and services in U.S. airports is a booming business. Globally, airport retail sales rose 4 percent in 2016.  According to Micromarket Monitor, revenues from U.S. and Canadian airport retailing should rise from about $4.2 billion in 2015 to nearly $10 billion by 2020—an impressive compound annual growth rate of nearly 20 percent. Enterpreneurs are having success building chains that exist only in America’s great in-between spaces. Avila Retail has nearly two dozen specialty stores based in airports, including its Earth Spirit folk-art emporia and the awkwardly named Indigenous, which peddles Native American crafts at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

It shouldn’t be surprising. Airport-based retail, which underwent a transformation in the 1990s as an effort to improve the travel experience, has some significant advantages over its non-airport-based counterpart. As much as traditional brick-and-mortar operations are suffering due to mega-trends—millennials’ preference for experience over stuff, the relentless onslaught of e-commerce in general and Amazon in particular—physical retail in airports seems to be thriving in part due to them. What’s more, many of the factors that have made air travel a miserable experience are weighing in favor of airport retail.

Airports supply the greatest desideratum of physical retail: foot traffic. Outside them, people can easily go through their days without having to pass a shop window. But in airports every passenger has to walk past dozens of them. And foot traffic is increasing. The number of passengers flying has risen in every year since 2009. In 2016, according to the U.S. government, U.S.-based airlines carried a record 823 million passengers, up from 700 million in 2009. And these are good customers. While air travel is mass transit, flyers tend to be wealthier than typical Americans, and thus have more money to spend.

Another advantage: Physical retail tends to see activity concentrated in a small number of hours and often sees business drop off sharply on weekends and holidays. But airports are busy starting at 6 a.m. and don’t start to empty out until about 10 p.m. Which means a lease on a few thousand feet of airport space gets you a solid 16 hours per day of operations. It’s not quite 24/7, but it is 365 days a year. Indeed, weekends and holidays are among the busiest times at airports.

Then there are delays, which make air travelers crankier but which actually work in favor of airport retail. When bad weather or missed connections or general crappiness strands passengers for hours—out of the reach of e-commerce—one of the things they do is walk around and buy stuff. Or relieve stress by getting a massage. XpresSpa, a chain of spas based solely in airports, was acquired for $40 million last year.

There’s another way in which the immiseration of flyers brings joy to airport retailers. On many coach flights, the airline now supplies you with virtually nothing to eat or drink. Worse, the Transportation Security Administration will confiscate any liquids greater than 3.4 ounces you bring with you through security. That means there is a category of necessities that you might need on the plane but that you can only buy in the terminal. Cha-ching!

In addition, people who travel routinely forget to pack things they will need while traveling. Plans change, as well—you’re on vacation and have to go to a business meeting, say. And in these instances, e-commerce can’t be of help. If you’ve left the house without headphones and are about to board a nine-hour flight, or if you realize that you need a tie but are 4,000 miles from your closet, Amazon Prime is worthless. Here are some of the things I’ve purchased at airport retail over the years that I already owned but were inaccessible because they were in my house: inflatable pillows, eyemasks, shampoo, saline solution, contact lens cases, sunglasses, reading glasses, 17 toothbrushes, 14 containers of toothpaste, collar stays, a tie, a dress shirt, headphones, chargers, extension cords, adapters, a sweatshirt.

Many people who travel through airports are either going to a destination, or returning to one, where they are expected to show up with a gift. For a significant percentage of travelers, airport retail is the only thing that prevents them from showing up empty-handed. These are some of the gifts I’ve purchased at airport retail in recent years that I would not ordinarily buy when at home: Vanderbilt T-shirts, plastic Minnesota Viking helmets, See’s Candies, mugs, snow globes. Snow globes!

There’s more. America’s rising snobbishness surrounding food and coffee is pushing more people to purchase food and drinks in terminals. It’s not just that you have to pay for whatever fare is offered onboard; it’s that what you’re offered is likely to be swill (airline coffee) or crap (sandwiches wrapped in plastic, wan salads, highly processed protein packs). Fortunately chains (Starbucks, Shake Shack) have picked up some of the slack. And celebrity chefs and higher-end operations have viewed airports as an expansion opportunity. In the past couple of years, here are a few airport meals my family and I have devoured: burgers at the Shake Shack at JFK, a choriqueso torta from Rick Bayless’ Tortas Frontera at Chicago O’Hare, Cubano sandwiches at Café Versailles in the Miami airport, a decent brisket sandwich from Noshville at the Nashville airport, chicken tacos from Urban Taco at Dallas–Fort Worth, and a Blonde Bock at the Gordon Biersch bar in San Francisco.

There’s little relief in sight for the woes that contribute to the anxiety and depression of frequent flyers. But we’ve found on old-fashioned way to take the edge off as we wait to board: retail therapy.

Read the rest of our series about the airport as the hub of American anxiety.

“Run Them Down”

“Run Them Down”

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

When James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly revved his Dodge Challenger toward the downtown mall in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday afternoon, killing one woman and injuring more than a dozen others, he was taking a page from the ISIS playbook: Use a car as a weapon.

“Though being an essential part of modern life,” the ISIS magazine Rumiyah wrote in November 2016, “very few actually comprehend the deadly and destructive capability of the motor vehicle and its capacity of reaping large numbers of casualties if used in a premeditated manner.”

That endorsement was the latest in a string of attempts by jihadis to promote car attacks, including a 2010 article published in the al-Qaida magazine Inspire that endorsed exactly the approach Fields is accused of having carried out. “If you can get through to ‘pedestrian only’ locations that exist in some downtown (city center) areas, that would be fabulous,” the magazine’s editor wrote. The ISIS call-to-arms came a few months after a terrorist driving a truck killed 84 people during a Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France, and was followed by deadly ISIS-inspired car attacks in Berlin, Stockholm, and twice in London. The frequency of vehicular terror attacks has spiked over the past four years.

But Saturday’s attack also has a lineage closer to home: a long-running right-wing fantasy of running over protesters, especially members of Black Lives Matter who have blocked intersections and highways during rallies. It’s an idea, as the artist Gary Kavanagh observes, that has far broader currency than the white nationalism on display at the “Unite the Right” rally that brought Fields to Charlottesville. “Run them over” is a popular anti-BLM catchphrase, as this Tumblr by historian Liam Hogan demonstrates.

Even police officers have felt comfortable expressing the sentiment in public. In July 2016—after a week during which Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were shot and killed by police, and Micah Xavier Johnson killed five Dallas police officers in an apparent act of revenge—an Oregon police officer was fired after he posted a photo of a Black Lives Matter protest and wrote, “When encountering such mobs remember, there are 3 pedals on your floor. Push the right one all the way down.”

In January 2016, a police sergeant in St. Paul, Minnesota, was suspended after allegedly posting a comment on an article about a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march, instructing drivers: “Run them over. Keep traffic flowing and don’t slow down for any of these idiots who try and block the street.”

This February, Troy Baker, president of the police union in Santa Fe, New Mexico, shared an image from the “Prepare to Take America Back” Facebook page, a right-wing meme factory with links to conspiracy theories. “All lives splatter: Nobody cares about your protest,” it reads over an image of a jeep plowing through a crowd.

The Santa Fe Police Department opened an investigation into that and other memes Baker had shared disparaging blacks and Muslims. “That is a joke and taken as such,” Baker told the Santa Fe Reporter, which uncovered the posts, about the protester meme. “We don’t need to be running over people intentionally, but people shouldn’t be blocking roadways either.”

But “jokes” like those have been accompanied by a string of drivers doing exactly that. On July 10, 2016—the same day a South Carolina fire captain threatened to run over BLM protesters who had shut down Interstate 126—an SUV driver in southern Illinois plowed through a group of BLM protesters after yelling “All lives matter, not blacks, all lives.” Two days earlier, a driver had accelerated into a crowd of protesters outside the police department in Ferguson, Missouri. In January 2015, a Minneapolis driver lurched into a Ferguson solidarity rally and ran over a 16-year-old girl.

This is not just a handful of sociopaths living out a 4chan meme. Across the country, Republicans legislators have attempted to codify the idea that protesters surrender their rights when they stand in the road. The philosophy behind these bills was elucidated by Keith Kempenich, a trucking company CEO and North Dakota state legislator whose mother-in-law was stopped by a Dakota Access Pipeline protest. “There’s a line between protesting and terrorism, and what we’re dealing with was terrorism out there,” he told the Washington Post. “[Drivers] who were legally doing their business or just going home and all of a sudden they’re in a situation they don’t want to be in.” Prominent right-wing figures like Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke have also referred to BLM as a “terror” organization.

Kempenich’s state House bill to give immunity to drivers who unintentionally hit pedestrians in the road failed, 41–50. The North Carolina House approved a similar bill in April, after protesters blocked streets in Charlotte after Keith Lamont Scott was killed by a Charlotte police officer, that would give even more leeway to drivers. Lawmakers in Texas and Florida have proposed the same. Tennessee state Sen. Bill Ketron, who sponsored a similar measure in his state after a man drove through a group of anti-Trump protesters, said “[p]rotesters have no right to be in the middle of the road or our highways for their own safety and the safety of the traveling public.”

The Tennessee bill, like the rest of them, has failed. But it’s a reminder that in standoffs between protesters and drivers, many, many Americans want to shore up the rights of drivers, even if that means absolving them for whatever carnage they cause with their cars. In American cities, where drivers are almost never prosecuted for hitting pedestrians or cyclists, there’s a saying: If you want to kill someone and not get punished, use a car.

The Fields attack, then, may borrow its tactics from ISIS attacks in European cities. But as an idea, it is also indebted to all the drivers who have plowed through BLM protesters in the past three years, to the jokes and memes that legitimized that response (especially from police officers), and to the legislators who attempted to make anything but a dead stop look like a defensible course of conduct. What makes this time different? Only that somebody died.

And maybe not even that. After news broke that a woman had been killed at the counterprotest, a Massachusetts patrolman commented on Facebook: “Hahahaha love this, maybe people shouldn’t block road ways.”

Richard Attlee - Doc - Nar - Cor - demos

Richard Attlee - Doc - Nar - Cor - demos

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Dove

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Who Will Pay for Takata’s Future Victims?

Who Will Pay for Takata’s Future Victims?

by Libby Lewis @ Slate Articles

So far, exploding air bags made by the Japanese auto supplier Takata have been linked to 18 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide. For its failures, the company has been besieged by lawsuits, a global recall, and finally bankruptcy. But odds are there will be more harm. A lot more.

For now, those future victims are potentiality burrowed away in one figure: 69 million. That’s Takata’s own estimate of how many flawed or questionable air bags are still in cars on the road, or on the market, as of July. Somewhere within that best guess are the lives that will be changed, or ended, because of malfunctioning air bags that use the same chemical compound the Taliban uses to make some of its roadside bombs.

But Takata and the carmakers that used the bags have structured the company’s bankruptcy to fend off liability for their actions—arguing that it’s necessary to salvage the disaster. In the end, it may leave future victims with no one to hold liable.

For years, Takata used ammonium nitrate to deploy its air bags because it was cheaper than what its rivals used, despite evidence it was volatile and could sometimes turn an air bag’s metal inflater into a mass of flying shrapnel. (Takata still uses an altered version of the compound in some of its replacement bags, with the approval of U.S. regulators.) As injuries mounted, Takata covered up the problem, and U.S. regulators lurched into overseeing a confusing, chaotic recall—the largest in U.S. auto history. When Takata filed for bankruptcy to deal with its vast liabilities in June, more than half of the recalled air bags had not yet been replaced.

Several states and dozens of families have sued Takata and some carmakers over deaths or injuries caused by metal shrapnel from their cars’ air bag inflaters exploding, either in collisions or by deploying on their own. Those families are represented in Takata’s bankruptcy—in a formal committee of creditors who are injury victims.

So what happens to those faceless victims-to-be?

As part of its criminal settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Takata has agreed to pay $125 million to injury victims, both current and future. That won’t be enough for the losses to come. The injuries people have sustained in these cases so far range from quadriplegia to loss of sight, hearing, and speech. And insiders are expecting many, many more. “It seems to be generally accepted there will be billions of dollars in claims,” the U.S. trustee in the case wrote in a recent court filing. 

A Chinese competitor, Key Safety Systems, says it plans to pay $1.6 billion for the healthy parts of Takata’s business, which make seat belts and child seats. It is leaving behind the air bag inflater business that caused all the wreckage. That sounds like a lot of money. But if the sale goes through, most of that will likely go to the carmakers that have paid for much of the recalls and to the lawyers and advisers to the bankruptcy. It won’t leave much for victims.

The Chinese buyers won’t be responsible; why would they buy unless they were free and clear of those liabilities? And after the bankruptcy, there won’t be any Takata left for victims to appeal to.

Who’s left?

The only realistic source of payment for those future victims, in financial terms, is the carmakers. They’re the ones that installed the bad airbags. And there’s significant evidence some of them knew about the flaws and ignored them, because Takata’s air bags were cheaper. But the carmakers have positioned themselves to control Takata’s bankruptcy by persuading the disgraced supplier to let them finance the process with money they already owe Takata for air bags Takata gave them on credit. If they pull it off, it’s a brilliant plan—for them, at least.

Robert Rasmussen, a professor of bankruptcy law at the University of Southern California, said it’s a novel approach to funding a recall that will last several years at the least. “It’s good if you believe what Takata says,” he said, “and I have no reason not to.” Takata says it would cost far more to borrow the money from banks. In theory, that savings would go to creditors. 

But any savings would come at a huge price for everyone other than the carmakers.

In exchange for funding the bankruptcy, the carmakers want the bankruptcy version of superpowers. And they want to use them to fend off and limit their own liability for the Takata disaster. In other words, the carmakers want to use the powerful tools in bankruptcy law for themselves, even though they are not in bankruptcy.

Here’s some of what they’re pushing the judge to approve, according to court documents and interviews. 

First, they want the bankruptcy equivalent of a force field to protect them from the consumer and personal injury lawsuits that have been filed against both Takata and them. That powerful bankruptcy protection is normally given only to debtors, like Takata.

But carmakers argued in court this week that they, as lenders, should get that protection as well—to make the bankruptcy work. Lawyers for the injury victims called that argument “the first salvo by (the carmakers) to coopt the bankruptcy of the supplier to their own advantage.”

Next, the carmakers want the legal protections that go to lenders that loan to bankrupt firms. That would mean securing, or guaranteeing, the money they give Takata with Takata’s remaining assets. And that would give them a lot of control over how Takata’s money can be spent.

Next, they want to use that control, in part, to harness their liability for Takata’s deadly air bags. According to lawyers in the case, the carmakers want to set up a trust for paying victims’ claims, funnel all the claims to that trust, and bar victims from suing them elsewhere. 

It’s a model derived from the Johns Manville Corp. over asbestos—the first mass tort case to go into bankruptcy. But the purpose of the Manville trust was to keep a bankrupt business alive. Here, the carmakers that want the trust are not in bankruptcy. 

Another condition carmakers want as lenders: to bar the injury victims from using any money from the bankruptcy to sue them, no matter how liable the carmakers turn out to be in Takata’s fraud. And they want a strict limit on how much money Takata’s victims can spend from their official bankruptcy funds to even investigate how much carmakers knew about Takata’s fraud and when they knew it. “It’s a fact of life in many cases —where the lender wants to make it difficult and risky for the creditors to sue or challenge the lender,” said William Weintraub, a partner at Goodwin Procter and a bankruptcy expert.

Here, the lender may be co-liable in wrongdoing that has led to an unknown amount of damage.

Lawyers for the dead and injured and for the states are fighting the carmakers’ push for power; it’s for the bankruptcy judge to decide the extent of their control over the case. 

Where does this all leave those future victims? It’s certain the judge will name an advocate to speak on their behalf. There may even be a separate fund created for them. But for how much? For how many? History suggests that future victims never get compensated as well as known victims.

“The dynamics are: When you have actual breathing people with actual breathing claims, they tend to get compensated today,” Rasmussen said. The others get less, “because they’re not there.”

And now, those unknowns could also be bargaining against another living, breathing group—the carmakers, imbued with bankruptcy superpowers.

Republicans Think It’s Unfair How States That Expanded Medicaid Are Getting More Medicaid Funding

Republicans Think It’s Unfair How States That Expanded Medicaid Are Getting More Medicaid Funding

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

At this point, pretty much everybody in Washington has noticed that the new Obamacare repeal bill Senate Republicans have rallied behind, Graham-Cassidy, would transfer large amounts of cash from blue states to red states. Specifically, its funding formula would strip federal money from places that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, like California and New York, and reward those that did not, like Alabama and Texas. Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul, who opposes the bill, has described it as a “game of Republicans sticking it to Democrats.” (Of course his state, which did expand Medicaid under a Democratic governor, also stands to lose out.)

In the past couple of days, the bill’s authors, Sens. Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham, have tried to respond to this charge. Their legislation is not a partisan smash and grab, they insist. Nope. Not all. Rather, it merely fixes Obamacare’s own grossly unfair funding formula. How so? Per the New York Times:

“Right now, 37 percent of the revenue from the Affordable Care Act goes to Americans in four states”—California, New York, Massachusetts and Maryland, Mr. Cassidy said. “That is frankly not fair.”

As is his wont, Graham delivered a more elaborate version of this spiel during a floor speech Monday.

“I like Massachusetts, I like Maryland, I like New York, I like California, but I don’t like them that much to give them a bunch of money that the rest of us won’t get,” he said. “Now, if you live in Massachusetts, you don’t get twice the Social Security or 50 percent more than if you live in Pennsylvania. Now how can this happen? Obamacare, for whatever reason, favors four blue states against the rest of us.”

Graham treats this as if it’s some sort of impenetrable mystery, one accessible only to nearsighted budget wonks. But of course, there’s a very obvious, good reason why these four states receive a disproportionate share of Obamacare’s funding today: They expanded Medicaid. That’s pretty much the whole answer. Meanwhile most red-state governors decided to treat health care policy like an Appalachian blood feud and refused the money the Obama administration all but begged them to take. Thus, the high-population California and New York get a very big slice of the ACA’s pie. If Florida or Texas had decided to accept the big, gift-wrapped pile of dough Washington was offering, things wouldn’t look quite so imbalanced.

And this stat, insofar as it has any significance, really is just about California and New York. I don’t know precisely where Graham and Cassidy got their number, but according to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government is expected to spend about $117 billion on Obamacare’s marketplace subsidies and Medicaid expansion this year. As of 2015, the Kaiser Family Foundation says California was receiving $19.6 billion worth of federal funding for its Medicaid expansion population while New York got $7.7 billion. Maryland and Massachusetts both got less than $2 billion—less than the amount Ohio received for its Medicaid expansion, or than Florida gained entirely for premium tax credits this year, for that matter.

Now, it pains me to have to spell this out, but it’s worth remembering that the federal government offered every single state the same match rate for Medicaid expansion enrollees. All they had to do was sign people up. There was no inequity baked into the formula. So when Cassidy and Graham grouse about how much money California and New York get, they are essentially whining over the fact that Medicaid-expansion states get more Medicaid funding. The only way that might seem unfair is if you happen to live in a state where your stubborn Republican governor turned that money down.

Is quinoa the next super-food beauty breakthrough? Episode 118

Is quinoa the next super-food beauty breakthrough? Episode 118

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

Please support the Beauty Brains by signing up for a free audio book at Audible.com. Click here to get your free audio book. Do hand creams stop your skin from regenerating? Julia from Germany asks…I have very dry skin so I use hand cream a lot. I read an article that said if you use too […]

Bernie Sanders’ Big Single-Payer Proposal Skips Over the Hardest Thing About Single-Payer

Bernie Sanders’ Big Single-Payer Proposal Skips Over the Hardest Thing About Single-Payer

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

After weeks of buildup, Sen. Bernie Sanders has finally released his latest plan to create a single-payer health care system in the United States, tugging along 16 Democrats as co-sponsors of the Medicare-for-all legislation, many of whom appeared with him at a buoyant press conference Wednesday afternoon. On its face, the rollout was an impressive show of political support for an idea that, not so many years ago, was widely considered a patchouli-scented left-wing fantasy, on par with dragging George W. Bush before a war-crimes tribunal and cutting the defense budget in half.

But in some subtle ways, Wednesday’s health care pep rally also showed what an uphill climb Medicare for all still faces, even among Democrats.

The fact that one-third of Senate Democrats have now endorsed Sanders’ version of Medicare for all mostly affirms something that’s been obvious for a while: Thanks to America’s favorite irascible socialist, single-payer health care is now a mainstream liberal policy idea. Even more telling is the number of potential 2020 contenders who have decided to get on board with the plan. Sens. Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren each took turns at the podium Wednesday extolling the virtues of socialized health insurance. Such a scene that would have been utterly unimaginable eight years ago. Their support may or may not be 100 percent heartfelt, but it’s pretty clear where they think Democratic primary voters will be standing on this issue in four years.

It’s also important that these senators have planted a flag on what they mean by “Medicare for all.” For months now, Democrats have been murmuring the phrase without fully defining it. Now, they’re getting specific. The new bill would not only extend Medicare to the entire population, but—much like the plan Sanders campaigned on—make it dramatically more generous by eliminating co-pays and deductibles while adding benefits for dental and eye care. It’s a truly all-encompassing vision of publicly financed government health care. And it will be extremely hard for other Democrats to brand less ambitious ideas—even interesting, Medicare-related ones, like blowing out Medicare Advantage—as “Medicare for all.”

But the reality is that 16 Democrats did not back a fully workable single-payer plan Wednesday. At best, they backed half of one. While the Sanders bill details how a “Medicare for All” system would work, it tap dances around the all-important question of how to pay for it.

The legislation itself does not include any taxes. Instead, its authors have written up a complementary white paper titled “Options to Fund Medicare for All” with a menu of tax hikes that add up to about $16.9 trillion over a decade (which, for what it’s worth, might not actually be enough to cover the cost of a single-payer system). That might give wonks a sense of what the bill’s backers are thinking. But it definitely gives the co-sponsors a convenient out from endorsing any specific tax increase that could be used against them in a campaign ad. More importantly, at least if you’re a single-payer fan, it means they haven’t committed themselves to some of the more controversial trade-offs that would be necessary to make single-payer a reality. If four years from now Democrats win control of Washington, it’s entirely possible some of the politicians jumping on the Medicare for all bandwagon now will jump off once Congressional Budget Office scores start rolling in and they have to reckon with the actual cost, just as some Republicans have suddenly had second thoughts about repealing Obamacare now that they’ve had to write a bill.

It’s not especially surprising that Sanders & co. would choose to leave the sticky question of taxes for a later date. As the senator himself said, this legislation is just an appetizer designed to “begin the debate” about the future of health care and single-payer. The unveiling functioned as an early head count of Democrats who are at least enthusiastic about the idea in theory. At such an early stage, it would be political malpractice to alienate potential allies by forcing them to sign on to $17 trillion of carefully spelled out tax hikes when Democrats barely have enough power in Washington to rename a post office.

And, to be sure, the senators who endorsed Sanders’ bill Wednesday did take some risks. The polling on single-payer is mixed—the Kaiser Family Foundation describes support as “malleable”—and some voters are still going to hate the idea of giving up their current coverage for whatever plan Washington cooks up. Moreover, Wednesday’s bill would reimburse doctors at current Medicare rates, which would save the government money but would surely arouse opposition from hospitals and some physician groups. The fact that Medicare for all is still controversial was probably best illustrated by the fact that one of the Senate’s most reliably progressive members, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, declined to co-sponsor it. It’s not much of a mystery why: He’s running for re-election next year in a state Donald Trump won by eight points and that has largely elected Republicans to statewide office in recent years.

But Brown’s hesitation is a sign of the challenge single-payer supporters face. If the left wants to remake the entire U.S. health insurance system from the ground up, it will need the support of purple- and red-state Democrats. And as of now, it can’t even get a died-in-the-wool, labor-loving progressive to support a fantasy bill that shunts inevitable tax hikes into a companion document. Medicare for all might be mainstream. But it’s got a long, long way to go before it becomes consensus.

Seretta Wilson - Advert - One Tel - demo

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Are bar cleansers bad for skin? Episode 69

Are bar cleansers bad for skin? Episode 69

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

Do bar cleansers really clog your pores? Tune in to this week’s show to learn the truth about soaps and other bar cleansers.  Valentines day and beauty science It turns out that for every major Valentine’s Day meme there’s a connection to beauty science. I thought it would be fun to talk about a couple […]

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Kym Mazelle - Advert - Cool Jazz - demo

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Nico Kaufman - Documentary - Pet Pigs - demo

Nico Kaufman - Documentary - Pet Pigs - demo

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Robert Vernon - Advert - Guinness - demo

Robert Vernon - Advert - Guinness - demo

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Is it okay to use soap on hair?

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

Bunny Lake asks…Chagrin Valley Shampoo Bars are really popular with a lot of the people on the Long Hair Community, and I’ve been trying some sample bars out myself. I love some, but others give me that waxy feeling. I have soft water where I live, also. Is Chagrin Valley Soap the kind of “soap” […]

What’s the right order to apply a BHA serum?

by Perry Romanowski @ The Beauty Brains

Little Rhino asks…I would like to add a B5 Serum into my skincare routine. I use a BHA ( salycic acid 2% ) lotion in the am/pm. I works well with my skin and mild acne. However, I do need a little extra boost of hydration. So the B5 sounded like a great place to […]

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M62 closed after huge blaze engulfs crane lorry as witnesses report several ‘explosions’

by gbirchall @ The Sun

A MASSIVE blaze has broken out on the M62 after a crane lorry caught fire. Locals in the Rochdale and Milnrow areas of Greater Manchester took to Twitter claiming to have heard several large bangs. Four pumps were on the scene in an effort to get the flames under control. The Fire Brigade confirmed diesel […]

We’ve Sentenced Puerto Rico to a Greece-Like Economic Catastrophe

We’ve Sentenced Puerto Rico to a Greece-Like Economic Catastrophe

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Chances are you haven't thought much lately about the economic tragedy that's unfolding in Puerto Rico. Not with nukes in North Korea and neo-Nazis and Obamacare repeal to dwell on. But Thursday at the New York Times, Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research has written a grim reminder that, in the wake of the island's debt crisis, we've essentially sentenced it to another decade of austerity-fueled economic depression.

Puerto Rico has been in a recession more or less continuously since 2007, which helped force it into an unsustainable spiral of borrowing that ended in default last year. Congress responded to the growing crisis by passing PROMESA, an act that placed the territory under the oversight of a bipartisan financial control board. This March, that panel finally approved a fiscal repair plan meant to close Puerto Rico's budget deficit while setting aside some money for bondholders. There’s an upsetting assumption behind this road map: that it will face another full 10 years of stagnation. As this graph from the plan shows, the territory's economy isn't expected to start growing again until 2022.

Even then, the island's economy will still be smaller in 2026 than it is today, even before accounting for inflation.

And that's probably too optimistic. As Weisbrot writes, the plan doesn't factor in the effects of austerity,  “which would add more years of decline.” More generally, these sorts of debt-sustainability projections are notoriously too sanguine about the ability of governments to keep paying their creditors while absorbing deep budget cuts. We've seen this show play out repeatedly in Greece, where international technocrats spent years making fanciful projections about how the country could slash its spending, raise taxes, gradually bounce back from a depression, and somehow make good on its (reduced) debts. The difference is that, as John Jay College economics professor J.W. Mason notes, Puerto Rico is just now entering into an austerity plan after already experiencing an employment collapse similar to Greece's. And if you take the official projections seriously, Puerto Rico's economy—measured by gross national product—should reach Greece's recent nadir within the next few years.

Europe's austerity politics have reduced Greece to a perpetual economic crisis. We're handing Puerto Rico the same prescription, and bizarrely expecting different results.

Bill Champion - Advert - DFS - demo

Bill Champion - Advert - DFS - demo

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Pat Sharp - Adverts - MEGAMIX 2 - demos

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Robert Vernon - Adverts - Megamix - demos

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Trump May Try to Deal a Death Blow to Obamacare This Week

Trump May Try to Deal a Death Blow to Obamacare This Week

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

With Obamacare repeal dead in Congress for the time being, the White House is signaling that it may step up efforts to sabotage the law this week—and possibly throw insurance markets into chaos in the process.

The rumblings began with a Saturday afternoon tweet from President Trump, in which he suggested that, after months of toying with the idea, he might finally follow through on a threat to end crucial subsidies to insurers, known as cost-sharing reduction payments. Of course, he didn't use that exact language.

While wildly misleading—the cost-sharing subsidies are in no way an insurer “bailout”—the tweet left little doubt about what Trump was thinking. Then on Sunday, adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News that the president would make a final call on the issue this week. “That's a decision that only he can make,” she said, somewhat tautologically.

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

The subsidies don't appear to be the only part of Obamacare in danger. Asked by ABC's Martha Raddatz on Sunday whether the administration might stop enforcing the law's individual mandate requiring Americans to buy insurance coverage, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price suggested it was an option.

“The individual mandate is one of those things that actually is driving up the cost for the American people in terms of coverage,” he said, inaccurately. “So what we’re trying to do is make sure that Obamacare is no longer harming the patients of this land. No longer driving up costs. No longer making it so that they’ve got coverage and no care. And the individual mandate is one of those things.

“All things are on the table to try and help patients,” Price added.

Neither of these announcements comes as much of a surprise—insurers across the country have requested large rate hikes for 2018 to protect themselves in case Trump cuts off the cost-sharing subsidies or relaxes enforcement of the mandate. But even if the president won't catch the industry off guard, he can still do immense damage to the insurance markets.

Turning off the cost-sharing subsidies has often been referred to as Trump's nuclear option on Obamacare. Under the law, insurers are required to reduce out-of-pocket expenses like co-pays and deductibles for poorer customers. In return, Washington is supposed to pay the carriers directly in order to cover the expense. But several years ago, the House of Representatives sued to halt the payments, arguing they'd never been appropriated correctly. A federal trial court agreed, and Trump needs to decide whether to keep appealing the case.

If Trump hits the kill button, insurers will lose billions. Seven million Americans, or 58 percent of all marketplace enrollees, qualified for the cost-sharing reductions in 2017, and carriers will legally have to continue offering the reduced-cost plans whether or not the subsidy money keeps flowing from Washington. To make up for it, health plans would have to raise their premiums by 19 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. If that's the extent of the damage, then the nuclear option will have turned out to be a bit less than atomic. However, there's also a worst-case scenario in which many insurers would simply choose to leave the exchanges rather than stick with a line of business the White House would clearly be trying to napalm.

Scaling back the individual mandate would also roil the market, though how much would depend on precisely what Secretary Price chose to do and how insurers coped. The Congressional Budget Office believes that killing off the tax penalty for those who don't buy insurance outright would drive premiums up 20 percent as younger, healthier individuals dropped their coverage, leaving behind a sicker customer base with higher medical expenses. But marginally widening the mandate's exemptions might not have the same dramatic impact on costs. The big question, again, is whether insurers would simply get sick of the campaign to undermine the exchanges and drop out.

It is unclear exactly what Trump and his team thinks they will achieve by waging an all-out war against Obamacare using executive authority. Trump has at times suggested that the best thing Republicans can do would be to let Obamacare “implode” on its own, then clean up the damage with an all-the-more-urgent repeal bill. Perhaps he still thinks the party would more readily pass a replacement if the market is in ruins. But that's a dicey political calculation. First, Obamacare is not collapsing due to its own structural flaws; Trump is trying to tip it over, and much of the media will cover that. Moreover, voters get angry when their insurance premiums rise. Even if they don't realize that the president has taken the unprecedented step of trying to undercut the country's health coverage system for political gain, there's a strong chance they'll blame the party in power, which they've just watched spend six months bumbling in its attempt to pass health care legislation. What seems less likely is that they’ll blame the Democrats who passed the law, as Trump has suggested voters would do.

It's also worth keeping in mind that, if Trump kills the cost-sharing subsidies and the insurance markets don't crumble outright, the Americans poised to experience the brunt of the pain are basically middle-class voters. Insurers will still be required to keep a lid on out-of-pocket costs for low-income customers, and Americans who make less than 400 percent of the poverty line would still get tax credits that cap their health premiums as a percentage of their income, meaning they won't feel any pinch from rising prices. It's households that earn too much to receive subsides that'd end up paying more for their coverage. That group is incredibly vocal, and—being higher income—they tend to vote.

One sign that the administration knows it’s on shaky political ground is its obviously misleading rhetoric on both the cost-sharing subsidies and mandate. Calling the former a bailout makes absolutely no sense—it's not as if insurers accidentally underpriced their health plans in this case and now need financial help. Rather, they were required to offer low-income Americans discounted coverage, which the government promised—by statute—to subsidize.

The idea that the individual mandate drives up costs is even more absurd. Yes, people who have to buy insurance who otherwise wouldn't end up spending money they'd prefer not to. But by drawing healthy people into the market, the rule brings down the average cost of coverage. Floating these ridiculous rhetorical trial balloons suggests the administration lacks a stronger argument and knows it.

Or maybe not. Maybe this whole thing is just irrational. Maybe like Samson chained to the pillars, Trump just wants to bring Obamacare's whole structure tumbling down, even if it might kill his presidency, too. With this White House, you never know.

Here's What Bothers Me About the New Dove Ad

Here's What Bothers Me About the New Dove Ad


Bitch Media

If you’re a human being with a social media account, you’ve seen the new Dove commercial already. ...

How to test beauty products yourself – Episode 121

How to test beauty products yourself – Episode 121

by Randy Schueller @ The Beauty Brains

How to investigate a cosmetic product Link I’m going to give you a headline that I saw on a beauty blog and then you tell me what you would expect to read about in the article with that headline. “The Gloss investigates: does radiant foundation primer really make a difference?” When I saw this I […]

Simon Green - Adverts - Megamix - demos

Simon Green - Adverts - Megamix - demos

by DamnGoodVoices @ Damn Good Voices's posts

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Craigslist Posters Are Already Trying to Sell Their Used Eclipse Glasses as Collectors’ Items

Craigslist Posters Are Already Trying to Sell Their Used Eclipse Glasses as Collectors’ Items

by Aaron Mak @ Slate Articles

For many of us, tracking down the correct eyewear was hassle enough leading up to Monday’s total eclipse. But what about unloading them now that it’s over?

Just hours after the eclipse, people are looking to make some quick cash by selling their “gently used” protective glasses. On Craigslist sites for cities in and around the path of totality—a narrow region running across the country in which you could see the moon completely block the sun—dozens of eclipse viewers are now putting up listings for their secondhand spectacles, often for exorbitant prices. Though the best-selling glasses on Amazon are priced at around $30 to $50 for a pack, it’s not uncommon to see used glasses listed for hundreds of dollars on Craigslist.

Enterprising vendors have come up with a variety of selling points to justify the steep costs, often describing the glasses as historical artifacts. As one $100 listing in Portland, Oregon, reads, “These glasses are a rare treat for anyone interested in space science! These glasses actually witnessed the Eclipse! Not like the ‘new’ glasses so common on the net. Why buy new when you could own EXPERIENCED glasses!” Others emphasize how prepared the buyer will be for the next eclipse, given that the eyewear had just been proven to work. A seller in St. Louis, also asking for $100, wrote, “I know the Eclipse is done and over with. But why not have a pair of glasses, for keep sake? Plus you can always have them for the next Eclipse in 2024!”

These numbers, though outrageous, aren’t as high as the asking prices found in listings posted just before the eclipse, presumably aimed at procrastinators struck by a sudden fear of missing out. Craigslist hucksters seemed to take advantage of this desperation, often charging thousands of dollars for a pair of spectacles.

Others highlighted the extraordinary qualities of their products:

Glasses that let you not only see the eclipse but ­hear it? Those might be collectors’ items one day. Plain old normal eclipse glasses that happened to be in the right path at the right time? Total rip-off.

Paris Saint-Germain transfer news: AC Milan to offer Neymar’s rival Edinson Cavani an escape route out of PSG

by gstonehouse @ The Sun

AC MILAN are reportedly ready to offer Edinson Cavani an escape route out of Paris Saint-Germain. The Uruguayan star’s future in the French capital is under serious threat following the arrival of Neymar. And now the Serie A side hope to take advantage of that by making a move next summer, according to Rai Sport. […]

Health Benefits Of Oregano Essential Oil: Alexander Fleming Vs. Oregano

by Nate M @ Maple Holistics

Fast forward to Oregano oil and you’ve found nature’s most well-balanced antibacterial treatment. It’s widely hailed as being better than antibiotics (by doctors and users alike) because it effectively treats the formation and spread of bacteria whilst boosting your body’s overall immune system.

The post Health Benefits Of Oregano Essential Oil: Alexander Fleming Vs. Oregano appeared first on Maple Holistics.

Snapchat Is Doing Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

Snapchat Is Doing Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

by Will Oremus @ Slate Articles

On Snap Inc.’s second earnings call as a public company, CEO Evan Spiegel started with the good news. Users visited Snapchat more frequently in the latest quarter, and spent more time on it “than ever before,” Spiegel said Thursday.

It’s the sort of generic superlative that tech executives reach for when they need to put a positive gloss on a discouraging trend. Snapchat did add 7.3 million daily active users in the past three months, which sounds like a lot—until you realize it added 8 million in the three months before that. Investors were hoping for a number closer to 9 million or 10 million, which would have suggested that growth was rebounding rather than slowing.

For a company in Snap’s position, rapid growth is expected. What people really care about is: Are you growing faster than before? Or are you heading for—gasp—a plateau? In Snapchat’s case, it’s beginning to look like the latter. That’s why, as of about 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, the company’s stock had tumbled a precipitous 17 percent in after-hours trading.

That disappointing user growth was actually worse news than the ugly-sounding $443 million net loss Snapchat posted. Those investing in it were hoping for a rocket ride to global ubiquity, similar to the ones Facebook and Google enjoyed in the years following their IPOs. They would have been happy to tolerate plenty of big losses along the way, as long as the future looked bright. (Just ask Amazon.) Instead, they’re hearing whispers of dirty words like “Twitter,” whose growth began to flatline almost as soon as it went public.

Snapchat was supposed to be the hip teen that made Facebook look old and out-of-touch. Instead, Facebook is pushing it around like the class bully and stealing its lunch money. Mark Zuckerberg’s company, whose acquisition bid Spiegel once famously spurned, has copied Snapchat’s key features—not just once, but on nearly every platform it owns—and the competition appears to be taking its toll.

Spiegel sounded embattled and a little irritable on the earnings call, which at one point featured a hot mic snafu in which an analyst could be heard mocking Spiegel for failing to answer his question. That question came after Snap executives excused the company’s lackluster growth by saying that Snapchat doesn’t rely on “growth-hacking” tricks like some of its competitors do. What specific growth-hacking tricks, the analyst asked, does Snapchat not engage in? “I think there are plenty of examples online if you want to go for a Google,” Spiegel replied.

As poorly as things are going for Snapchat, there are still a few factors working in its favor. Growing by 7 million active users may be a disappointment given its previous trajectory, but the 4 million that it added in North America suggests that there is room for more even in its home market. It would be worse if Americans were fleeing and all of the growth was coming from low-hanging fruit overseas.

More importantly, those who do use Snapchat still seem to use it a lot. Daily users under 25 spend an average of 40 minutes per day on the app, Spiegel said, while those over 25 average 20 minutes. Such deep engagement has been a key to Facebook’s long-term success. Then again, Twitter has loyal users too—it’s attracting the casual ones that has given it fits.

It’s too soon to write off Snapchat, which is still by most standards a young and fast-growing company. But when your competitive edge is being the trendy upstart, it’s never good to see the trends turning in the wrong direction.

Stefanie Powers - Doc - Edith Head - demo

Stefanie Powers - Doc - Edith Head - demo

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Richard Attlee - Corporate - demo

Richard Attlee - Corporate - demo

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Nico Kaufman - Advert - British Airways - demo

Nico Kaufman - Advert - British Airways - demo

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The Tricky Path to Employment Is Trickier When You’re Autistic

The Tricky Path to Employment Is Trickier When You’re Autistic

by Sarah Carr @ Slate Articles

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Leigh epitomizes the underemployed. The 39-year-old has a master’s degree in library science from a top-ranked school, years of experience working the circulation desk in a Boston library, and an IQ of 145. He is reliable and considerate, and he works hard.

Yet for the past eight years, since he lost his salaried Boston library job due to austerity measures, the only permanent job Leigh has landed is at the T.J. Maxx near his mother’s home on Cape Cod. He works part time dusting, vacuuming, and washing the mirrors, and he is paid the minimum wage, $11 an hour. Over the past few years, Leigh has applied for dozens of library positions. Every one has turned him down, most without an interview.

What’s held him back? The library business is contracting, not expanding, and full-time employment is hard to come by, of course. But Leigh, who asked that his last name not be used to protect his family’s privacy, faces an additional hurdle: He has a mild form of autism, a condition that used to be labeled “pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified” and is distinct from both autism and Asperger’s.

Autistic adults may very well be the most disadvantaged disability group in the American workplace. Only 14 percent of adults with autism held paid jobs in their communities, according to one May report from Drexel University’s Autism Institute (the report looked just at those who had received state developmental disabilities services). Yet a pathetic 2 percent of all autism research funding goes to understanding adulthood and aging, according to a 2017 report from the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, based on 2015 numbers. While most research is focused on figuring out how to prevent or treat autism disorders when they are first diagnosed at young ages, we also have to remember that this work has not yet materialized as a solution for the more than 3.5 million Americans living with autism. “It’s only in the last 10 to 15 years that there’s been growing recognition of the fact that children grow up to be adults,” says Susan Daniels, executive secretary of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. As Leigh’s story demonstrates, autistic adults have their own needs—needs that we as a society are just figuring out how to fill.

* * *

For Leigh, autism has complicated the job search on a number of fronts: He takes most everything literally, so when a job listing requires only a bachelor’s degree, he neglects to mention his master’s degree on his résumé. He lacks the networking skills and friend base that could provide personal connections and social introductions to potential employers. And in interviews, he invariably presents as quirky, which can be off-putting for those less familiar with folks “on the spectrum.” When asked last year during one library interview how well he would do managing a small team of volunteers, Leigh replied, “Not very well. I can be tyrannical.” He did not get the job.

“I’m at a precipice,” Leigh says. “I’m so high-functioning that I don’t really register as disabled, but I’m not high-functioning enough that I can easily utilize anything social.”

When Leigh was 2 years old, his mother, Carole, noticed that her son behaved differently. He didn’t make eye contact or talk (a delay the family pediatrician implied was the mother’s fault, instructing her “to repeat until he gets it”).

Leigh clearly absorbed information and communicated in his own way, however. Carole recalls one day when Leigh, a toddler, climbed into the cabinet and started banging pots and pans. Over and over again, she cried at her son to quit the banging and put the pots down. “It was like I wasn’t there,” she says. Desperate, she finally wrote “stop” on a piece of paper and held it in front of Leigh’s face. He immediately paused. “It’s like the channels are different,” she said. “We weren’t always sure he heard or understood us.”

Leigh was teased sometimes during his years in the Nauset public schools on Cape Cod, where he took mostly honors classes and had a small group of friends—his “Faction,” he called them—who looked out for him. I was Leigh’s classmate during middle and high school and took many of those honors classes with him. I mostly remember his love for the Moody Blues’ music, as well as the rapport he developed with a few select teachers and classmates, and how grounded it was in a mutual respect for heart and mind (more grounded, I would argue, than the vast majority of teenage friendships). Leigh would regularly rise and salute our English teacher; he engaged in intellectual banter with our biology and chemistry teacher; he routinely addresses people using terms like “me lady,” “fare thee well,” or with a salute and bow. The Moody Blues (of course) quote he chose for his senior class yearbook: “Why do we never get an answer when we’re knocking at the door.”

“He had an utter respect for the people who were his friends or were kind to him, and it came out in his behaving like a knight,” recalls Amanda Sevak, one of his longtime friends and a member of his Faction.

Leigh still tries to come to the rescue: One day a few years ago, Sevak reached out to Leigh with an urgent question. She was chaperoning a field trip for her twin grade-school daughters’ class, and an autistic classmate was having a meltdown. He had cut himself but refused to wear a bandage.

Leigh calmly explained that they should tell the boy that the “strange sensation of the adhesive” would be preferable to the pain of getting an infection from air exposure. Sevak quickly relayed the message to the child. It connected with the child in a way that other pleas had not.

Although Leigh strikes most strangers as very serious, those who know him well often glimpse his humorous side. His mother recalls one time when he brought a video to his special education class featuring Victor Borge, a comedian and musician who pronounces different phonetic sounds when reading punctuation marks. It was one of his favorite clips, yet the screening still made Leigh laugh so uproariously he fell off his chair. And when the senior class decided to pelt water balloons at one another to celebrate graduation, everyone assumed Leigh would take a pass. Instead he showed up with a tin man–style container filled with water and gleefully sprayed his classmates.

When he graduated from high school, Leigh knew he wanted to pursue a career. And I don’t think anyone who knew him in high school would have questioned his capacity to succeed in a profession, at least one that didn’t require great social ease and self-possession: He had thrived in classes that were intellectually challenging and managed to find a kind of niche. He attended Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences for two years before questioning whether he could handle the patient counseling required of pharmacists. “Given my troubles with socialization, I was a bit leery,” he said.

So he switched to the library track, earning a master’s degree in library science from Simmons College. Over 12 years, he worked his way up from volunteer to full-time employee at a Boston public library branch, where he discovered that he was capable of interacting with patrons while manning the circulation desk. He lived by himself and enjoyed the independence and solitude. Unlike the more rural Cape Cod, Boston was a good city for him since he could easily navigate on foot and public transportation (he does not drive).

In 2010, Leigh’s quiet life was upended when he lost his job due to austerity measures across the city’s library system. Within a year, he moved back home to the Cape to live with his mother and look for work from there (his father died in late 2008).

The job search was unending. At first, Leigh sought out only library jobs. He estimates that he submitted resumes for 20 to 30 open positions scattered across New England—to no avail.

When he asked for advice, he sometimes ran up against job stereotyping, Leigh says. People suggest computer coding to him all the time, since many people with mild autism are detail-oriented and adept at solitary work (a new startup called Coding Autism aims to train people on the spectrum for technology jobs). “People look at my autism and assume I like coding,” Leigh says, adding an exuberant, “Not here!”

Instead, Leigh has two great passions: books and birds. He craves a job that is intellectually engaging and relates to at least one of those areas. Yet most of the jobs available for those with disabilities on the Cape are more menial in nature, like his T.J. Maxx position. “There are jobs for more severely disabled people” but not ones set aside for people with more modest challenges, Leigh says. “People with mild disabilities like my own don’t register on anyone’s radar.”

In addition to the T.J. Maxx job, Leigh eventually began volunteering at a Cape library and for an organization called Wild Care, where he feeds baby birds. He broadened his search from library work to any clerical position. He also met with a counselor through a state-sponsored vocational rehabilitation program, but for years his job search produced few interviews—and no jobs.

In early 2016, however, Leigh’s job search seemed to turn a corner when he connected with Cape Abilities, a local organization that provides a range of support and job placement services for people with disabilities. Leigh’s first counselor there, Peggy Boskey, was determined to find him a job that made better use of his mind. They began corresponding regularly and meeting every other week, working on résumés, interview strategies, and more. Given Leigh’s extensive education and experience, as well as his formidable intellect, Boskey assumed it would only take a few months to find him something more stimulating than janitorial work.

* * *

Employment rates for autistic adults are abysmal in both absolute and relative terms—they’re lower than those for just about any other disability type studied. Drexel’s Autism Institute found that 58 percent of young adults on the spectrum worked at some point in the years after high school, compared with 74 percent of those with an intellectual disability and 91 percent of those with an emotional disturbance. “People with autism tend to flounder more,” said Anne Roux, a research scientist at the Autism Institute who worked on the study.

Some employers and social service agencies have started trying to make inroads on the problem. A couple major businesses like Microsoft and PetSmart have prioritized hiring and supporting autistic employees. Microsoft, for instance, did away with its traditional interview process for applicants on the spectrum, instead inviting them to come and spend several days on site so they could be observed while working on projects.

And in many places, including Leigh’s home state of Massachusetts, adults with autism qualify for more state-sponsored job training and support than they did just a few years ago. A 2014 state law expanded the number of people on the spectrum who are eligible for help from the state’s Department of Developmental Services for services like job coaching (previously it was more difficult for those with IQs above 70 to qualify). More than 1,300 people have been newly deemed eligible for services as a result of this change.

Among the lessons learned: The autistic population is unfathomably diverse, in terms of skills, interests, and aptitudes. That means there is no easy, one-size-fits-all accommodation that employers can make and no single occupation that could be targeted as a solution for people on the spectrum. Some have severe cognitive or intellectual impairments; others, like Leigh, have sky-high IQs. Some possess little to no verbal skills; others can communicate with much greater fluency. Some are more socially aggressive than the average person; others are more withdrawn.

“The abilities of people with autism are just as diverse—maybe even more diverse than other people,” said Denise Resnik, a founder of the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center who has a 26-year-old son with autism. That means the outreach to potential employers needs to be both broader (encompassing a larger range of job types) and more concrete (making clearer the potential needs and accommodations of autistic workers). It isn’t enough to create thousands of new positions for computer coders with autism spectrum disorders because thousands of others, including Leigh, won’t go that route. Technology jobs might be higher level and better paid, but Leigh says he can’t wrap his head around HTML and doesn’t enjoy coding-related work.

Resnik, as well as some employers, agree that once an autistic worker lands a suitable job, he or she usually excels. “I’ve heard over and over that they tend to be the first to arrive, the last to leave, the hardest workers, and people who bring out the best in their co-workers,” said Resnik. For people on the spectrum, work tends to be the main priority in their lives, rather than competing against social and other interests, Resnik added.

That said, part of the employer outreach component is educating potential bosses about unique needs of employees with autism. Phil Francis, the former CEO of PetSmart, said he’s found it more challenging, on average, for workers on the spectrum to follow multistep, complicated instructions; he tells their supervisors to break it down or assign more discrete tasks. “They are different in some respects, but many of the differences are highly positive,” he says.

The biggest hurdle in many instances seems to be helping them get to the point of being employees. That might require changing interview processes, where autistic individuals typically flounder—perhaps by allowing a counselor to sit in, ensuring that someone familiar with autism conducts the interview, or adopting Microsoft’s “interview-less” approach. Julie Urda, another of Leigh’s counselors at Cape Abilities, says people on the spectrum typically “don’t get nuance or body language or social convention,” yet interviewers often rigidly assess them on those traits.

Workers who are autistic often require at least some minimal level of ongoing job support, a person who can serve as intermediary if conflicts or confusion arise over their role or conduct. Leigh’s mother, Carole, says she feels like people with autism would benefit tremendously from job coaches who they can check in with, even if only for five minutes on the phone each week. “Someone who is readily available and can step in before misunderstandings get too big,” she says, noting that people with the disorder often struggle to “read” other people, as much as they may want to.

Leigh had volunteered as a docent at one wildlife organization but stopped because he struggled to know when to approach people and when to hang back. Yet he possesses his own form of empathy, and genuinely wants other people to feel at ease around him. Said his mother: “He’s very uncomfortable about making other people uncomfortable.”

* * *

Despite the increased awareness, the problem, as always, is how to scale up solutions in a country where the national conversation surrounding autism is so focused on young children and where we know so little about what drives macrolevel trends and outcomes for autistic adults. Our knowledge is patchy and anecdotal rather than systemic and informed by data. That’s partly because it’s “less sexy and more difficult” to study adulthood than to do research on “brains and genes”—the two topics that receive the lion’s share of the funding, said Roux. There’s a lot hype around prevention and finding a “cure” and very little around helping adults thrive.

“The consequence is a stagnation to the quality of life of people who are already with us … it’s hard to improve outcomes because we don’t know enough,” said Roux. Daniels from the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee says she envisions this changing in the coming years, as the National Institutes of Health and other groups have started new programs that fund projects aimed at helping adolescents transition to adulthood or support adults on the spectrum with independent living.

Better and more widespread research could help us pinpoint the unique needs of autistic adults; the most effective ways of supporting them in finding, and keeping, jobs; and the states that are doing the best at providing services. We don’t even know exactly how many adults on the spectrum live in the United States, said Roux.

We also don’t know how severity of the disorder impacts employment prospects. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the highest-functioning people on the spectrum can be particularly hard to place in jobs since they can, and want to, do more ambitious work than the menial roles so often assigned disabled workers in the American economy. Yet routine interactions rarely come easily, even for the most verbal of them.

It didn’t turn out to be as easy as Peggy Boskey had hoped last year to find Leigh a better job. On the tourism-dominated Cape, service industry jobs abound, but entry-level office positions are more elusive. And those that exist often have dozens of qualified applicants. Leigh came close to close to landing one library job but struggled with the interview. “If they have three people who are qualified, they are going to go with the one they feel most comfortable with,” Boskey said. Leigh wants more engaging work but also needs it. He is trying to complete the paperwork to qualify for disability payments, which he currently does not receive. His mother would like him to be as financially secure as possible, particularly when she dies. Leigh has no siblings or other close relatives to fill the void that she will someday leave. “I’m trying to set things up as best I can for him,” she says.

She says she finds it encouraging how many more life and career options people with disabilities have than they did a generation or two ago. “We’ve greatly expanded our definition of who can take part in humanity,” she says. But there’s still a huge distance to go.

In January, Leigh finally got a break when the Barnstable Housing Authority hired him for a temporary, part-time position doing general office work, including preparing spreadsheets and retrieving mailings. He dropped some of his hours at T.J. Maxx but continued the two volunteer positions in an effort to keep his options open. It wasn’t clear whether the housing authority job would continue past the summer.

His counselor Urda noted that the housing authority representative who interviewed and hired Leigh has autistic relatives, which made her more aware and accommodating throughout the process. That personal connection is not something people with autism—and in need of jobs—can usually count on.

Last month, Leigh learned that his job at the housing authority would conclude at the end of August, putting him back at square one.

Leigh’s mother says that in spite of the long search, and its many disappointments, her son has never complained about his limited professional options.

As a society, though, we should be concerned. Leigh’s story has many lessons. But, for me, two stand out: First, too little attention has been paid to the employment needs of those with mild disabilities, as a di