Posts made in October 2019

Pleasingly plump hands are being celebrated by a new social media movement

October 18, 2019

There’s a new kind of “digital revolution” going on—an online celebration of “diverse fingers and hands.”

Model and plus-size fashion expert Maxey Greene uses Instagram to connect with her followers—reaching out for wisdom on fashion, culture, relationships, how they feel about their bodies, the list goes on. But, as HuffPost tells the story, she wasn’t using it for that recently when she posted a photo of her manicure. At least she didn’t think she was. Then the DMs started.

“In tiny font in the corner of the image, I mentioned how I never see fingers that look like mine,” she said of the photo she told the news outlet about the photo she posted. “About two seconds after posting it, a woman sent a photo reply of her chubby fingers and said ‘chubby hands for life!’ After that they just started pouring in.”

Fingers that look like hers, or fingers that are not extremely thin, aren’t represented in jewelry and engagement ring advertisements.  “I think a lot of women instantly felt seen,” Greene said.

The inherent message that the lack of hand diversity sends stems from a larger systematic issue that love, like high fashion, is seen as only being reserved for people who look a certain way. Photos of rings might seem like a small thing, but it plays to that same old trope, Greene explained to HuffPost.

“I think not seeing chubby fingers with rings, specifically engagement rings may stem from the mentality that ‘fat women can’t find love’ or don’t deserve it—n idea that’s been ingrained in our heads for years,” she said. “But it’s just not true! Advertising should reflect that. We’ve got plus-size dollars to spend!”

“Someone told me a story about how when they posted a picture of their engagement announcement on Facebook, she was made fun of for the ring being too small on her and that it didn’t look good on her finger,” she said. “It did fit her, that’s just the way chubby fingers look in rings. She was mortified and it turned a happy moment into an insecure one. It devastated me to read that.”

It’s a small movement just in its early stages, but it sends a clear message to the engagement ring industry—and the ring industry in general—that it’s time for a change. Inspired by the people who reached out with their stories, Greene started an Instagram account called @allhandsaregoodhands, where people can look for inspiration and to see what rings look like on hands that more closely resemble their own.

Research contact: @HuffPost

‘Come on-a My House’: Trump to host 2020 G-7 Summit at his Doral resort

October 18, 2019

There’s a Yiddish word for it: Chutzpah. In what seems to be an outright and unmitigated violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution–which forbids U.S. officials from accepting payments from foreign governments—America will host the 2020 G-7 Summit next June at the president’s own resort property in Miami, the Trump National Doral, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters on Thursday at the White House.

According to a report by The Hill, the decision is certain to provoke challenges from Democrats and ethics watchdog groups—all of whom will argue that the president is seeking to enrich his family’s brand by bringing world leaders to a Trump property.

Trump first signaled in the closing days of this year’s G-7 summit in France that his Doral resort was the front-runner to host next year’s gathering of world leaders. He boasted during his press conference in Biarritz about the property’s accommodations and proximity to Miami, The Hill noted.

“I think it’s just a great place to be. I think having it in Miami is fantastic. Really fantastic,” he said at the time. “Having it at that particular place, because of the way it’s set up, each country can have their own villa, or their own bungalow. And the bungalows, when I say, they have a lot of units in them. So I think it just works out well.”

“We thought of the 12 places that we looked at… this was by far and away the best choice,” Mulvaney said. He did not say why the Doral had been considered the best selection.

More specifically, he explained, White House staff looked at a dozen potential host sites. The list was eventually narrowed to two options in Utah, one in Hawaii, and one in Florida, Mulvaney said.

He insisted that Trump—who, notably absented himself from the press conference— would not profit from the gathering. He asserted that it would be “dramatically cheaper” to host the event at Doral because the facility had agreed to host the G-7 at cost.

” There’s no issue here on him profiting from this in any way, shape, or form,” Mulvaney said. ”

The United States last hosted the then-G-7 Summit in 2012 at Camp David in Maryland.

Research contact: @thehill

One of America’s best and brightest, Rep. Elijah Cummings, has died

October 18, 2019

He first took the national spotlight marching shoulder-to-shoulder with Martin Luther King—and he continued to demand justice over 50 years later as a key figure in the impeachment inquiry centered on President Donald Trump.

Representative Elijah E. Cummings (Maryland)—a son of sharecroppers who rose to become one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress; as well as a champion of his home city, Baltimore; and a key adversary of President Trump—died on October 17. He was 68.

According to a report by The New York Times, his passing was confirmed by a spokesperson, Trudy Perkins, in a statement that only said he died of “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.”

Cummings, who was in his 13th term serving as a representative for Maryland, was chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, a position that gave him sweeping power to investigate Trump and his administration. And he used it, the Times said—noting that as a critical ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Cummings spent his final months sparring with the president.

Indeed, Cummings said that the president’s effort to block congressional lines of inquires was “far worse than Watergate.”

They also locked horns when Trump assailed Cummings’s beloved Baltimore, the Times said —a city whose population is two-thirds African-American—as “a disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess” and “the worst run and most dangerous” city in the United States. The congressman pushed back, vociferously defended his hometown.

President Trump on Thursday tweeted his “warmest condolences” to Cummings’s family and friends and praised him for his “strength, passion and wisdom.”

Many others praised him for his honesty and forthright demeanor.“He spoke truth to power, defended the disenfranchised and represented West Baltimore with strength and dignity,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the chairman of the Democratic caucus, wrote on Twitter. “Congress has lost a Champion. Heaven has gained an Angel of Justice. May he forever #RestInPower.”

Senator Benjamin Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, who served with. Cummings in the House, said his death had left an “irreplaceable void.”

“Quite possibly no elected official mattered so much to his constituents,” Cardin said in a statement. “Chairman Cummings guaranteed a voice to so many who would otherwise not have one, and stood as a symbol for the heights one could reach if they paid no mind to obstacles, naysayers and hate.”

As his health deteriorated, the Times said, Cummings’s wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, ended her bid for governor. In a statement on Thursday, she called her late husband “a dynamic figure in American politics.”

“He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem,” said Maya Cummings, who chairs the Maryland Democratic Party.

Research contact: @nytimes

Poll: Michelle Obama would be front-runner in NH Democratic primary race

October 17, 2019

We just can’t quit her: A Franklin Pierce University-Boston Herald poll conducted between October 9 and October 13 has found that— if former FLOTUS Michelle Obama were to enter the 2020 New Hampshire Democratic primary race, she would take the lead among the current candidates.

According to a report by the Boston Herald, of the current presidential hopefuls, Elizabeth Warren (25%) and Joe Biden (24%) would lead in a statistical tie in the Granite State primary on February 11, 2020—with Bernie Sanders (22%) trailing just slightly behind.

“Today, the Democratic race is a statistical dead heat between Warren (25%), Biden (24%) and Sanders (22%),” pollster R. Kelly Myers wrote in his summary of the poll results.

“If Michelle Obama were to enter the race, it would change things dramatically,” pollster R. Kelly Myers wrote in his summary of the poll results. “Twenty-six percent of Democrats would vote for her, making her the new frontrunner. Under this scenario, Obama (26%) would lead Warren (20%), Biden (20%), and Sanders (15%).”

In doing so, Myers told the Boston Herald, Obama  would take away 4 percentage points from Warren, 4 points from Biden, and 7 points from Sanders.”

However, chances look slim that she will enter the arena: In an August interview with The National, Obama hardened her resolve about the impossibility of her running for the highest office in the nation—saying that there was “zero chance.”

“There are so many ways to improve this country and build a better world, and I keep doing plenty of them, from working with young people to helping families lead healthier lives,” she said. “But sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office will never be one of them. It’s just not for me.”

She also told talk show host Conan O’Brien back in March that eight years in the White House was “enough. It is enough. It’s time for new ideas … and people who are struggling in ways that, because of the nature of what we’ve done, we don’t do that anymore. We need fresh, real, clear eyes in this stuff.”

According to the Boston Herald, the FPU-Herald poll also found that there has been a 17 point drop in support for President Donald Trump from Republican voters going from 88% to 71% in just a month’s time.

Research contact: @bostonherald

More than meets the eye: Lululemon’s new coat shapeshifts into 26 designs, from trench to puffer

October 17, 2019

Vancouver, Canada-based fashion house and retailer Lululemon has designed a new coat that is like something out of the Transformers series.

Made n collaboration with London-based designer Roksanda Ilinčić, the “Inner Expanse Infinity Coat” is a pink ankle-length puffer coat, with a purple waterproof trench coat layer on top of it, and it’s topped off with a large puffer hood, Fast Company reported on October 16.

In campaign images, the news outlet says, a woman wears the $998 garment in a wheat field at sunset—as if it were a gown, with the puffer billowing gloriously behind her.

Indeed, Fast Company notes, “The coat encapsulates Ilinčić’s iconic aesthetic: Her love of bold colors and her feminine touch, full of ribbons, draping, and flowing fabrics. She’s best known for her collections of cocktail dresses, silk blouses, and pantsuits that come in crimson, peach, and orchid.”

Thanks to subtle, hidden buttons and zippers, the Infinity Coat can be transformed in 26 different ways. Among its many variations, it can be flipped inside out to reveal a purple puffer exterior, or the sleeves can be removed to create a vest. And to make it even more convenient, the puffer can be neatly packed into a little pouch in one of the pockets, making it easy to throw into your luggage.

The coat takes an important trend in recent outerwear design—adaptability—and pushes it to its most logical extreme.

And it’s just one part of a 16-piece collection that Ilinčić designed for Lululemon. The items include tights, joggers, and workout wear.

Although Lululemon is known for its workout wear, in recent years, Fast Company reports, the company has focused on designing streetwear, including launching The Lab, a high-end fashion-forward clothing line.

Research contact: @FastCompany

White House opens internal review of Ukraine call, as insiders run for cover

October 17, 2019

The cat is investigating who ate the canary. President Donald Trump has for weeks sought to unmask the whistle-blower who revealed his Ukraine dealings. Now, administration attorneys have begun a “fact-finding review” on the actions leading up to the current impeachment inquiry— and some White House denizens fear that it is really a hunt for a scapegoat, according to sources tapped by The New York Times.

Specifically, the news outlet reports, the legal investigators are seeking to understand White House officials’ actions around Trump’s July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, which is central to the whistle-blower’s allegation that the POTUS abused his power.

The lawyers are particularly interested in why one of their colleagues, National Security Council Legal Advisor John A. Eisenberg, placed a rough transcript of the call in a computer system typically reserved for the country’s most closely guarded secrets. The president later directed that a reconstructed transcript be released amid intensifying scrutiny from House Democrats.

According to the Times, “The review shows how quickly the impeachment inquiry escalated tensions in a West Wing already divided over the publication of the transcript, and it appears to be the latest example of administration officials rushing to protect themselves in the Ukraine scandal.”

For his own part, Eisenberg has reacted angrily to suggestions that he is under scrutiny, according to two people told of his response. He has said he limited access to the transcript over concerns about leaks, according to a person familiar with his actions. He declined through a National Security Council spokesman to comment.

It was not clear who sought the review. The Acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, is said to have encouraged it, and his aides are helping the White House Counsel’s Office, led by Pat Cipollone, sources said. Aides in the two offices have otherwise been at odds since the transcript was released, according to administration officials.

The existence of the review could threaten the president’s narrative that his call with Zelensky was “perfect.” Instead, the review underscores the evidence that he bent foreign policy to his personal advantage by pressing Zelensky to open investigations that could damage his political opponents.

Research contact: @nytimes

Daddy dearest: The seven types of ‘sugar daddy’ relationships

October 15, 2019

It’s a sweet deal: A young—or “youngish”—woman dates a wealthy, older man who lavishes gifts and money on her—financial support, material goods, professional advancement—in return for companionship, intimacy, or other forms of attention.

But it turns out that “sugar daddy” relationships can range from the chaste to the X-rated, especially in the United States.

Drawing from 48 in-depth interviews, Maren Scull, an assistant professor of Sociology a the University of Colorado-Denver, has identified seven varieties of relationships involving boyfriends with financial benefits:

  1. Sugar prostitution, which involves the exchange of gifts for sex;
  2. Compensated dating, which involves monetary or material compensation for grabbing a coffee, a meal, or attending a specific event together;
  3. Compensated companionship, which comprises a wider range of activities and often involves the woman becoming more involved n the man’s life;
  4. Sugar dating, which is the most common form of sugaring, and combines companionship with sex and an allowance (given on a weekly, monthly or as-needed basis);
  5. Sugar friendships, which are mutually beneficial relationships involving a man whom the woman knows already;
  6. Sugar friendships with benefits, which are more unstructured relationships (during which benefactors may pay for all living expenses for the women, including rent, cell phone bills, clothing, cars, and vacations); and
  7. Pragmatic love, which are essentially relationships based on the question, “What have you done for me lately?

“Whenever I read an article about Sugar Daddies or Sugar Babies, I often saw the same sensationalistic slant: The women are desperate, starved college students engaging in prostitution,” said Scull. “As someone who studies deviance, I knew there were more important nuances to these relationships.”

Such relationships are hardly new-fangled: In the 1750s, geishas were seen as socially respected entertainers—even though they were paid to amuse men, usually without sex. And during the first two world wars, soldiers paid women to join them for a night out of dinner and dancing.

What’s more, in modern-day America, Scull found that 40% of the women had never had sex with their benefactors and the ones that did often had genuine, authentic connections with the men. She also found that most forms of sugaring aren’t a play-for-pay arrangement.

“I didn’t have the intent of creating a typology, but there was so much variety that I knew I had to highlight the different nuances and forms that sugar relationships can take,” said Scull, in a press release from the university.

Finally, Scull found that some of these relationships involved two people who hoped to end up together, with the woman taken care of for the rest of her life, in a category she named “pragmatic love.”

“When we lump sugar relationships together as prostitution, it deviantizes and criminalizes these relationships,” said Scull. “We were missing how they are often organic and involve genuine, emotional connection. Many of the women didn’t intend on having a benefactor. They just happened to meet someone at work or during a catering gig who wanted to take care of them. These relationships can last decades.”

The results of her study have been published in the journal,Sociological Perspectives.

Research contact: MAREN.SCULL@UCDENVER.EDU

Investor who made smutty comments at summit loses $600 million contract in backlash

October 15, 2019

A financial executive who was crude and lewd at an industry conference has lost a major contract as a result, The Washington Post reports.

Specifically, the news outlet said, last week the State of Michigan pulled fully $600 million of its pension fund from wealth management firm Fisher Investments after the company’s founder and chairman, Ken Fisher, made boorish and sexually explicit comments during a fireside chat at the Tiburon CEO Summit, October 7-9 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco.

In a letter obtained by the Post on October 10, Michigan Chief Investment Officer Jon Braeutigam informed the state’s investment board that its Bureau of Investments, housed under the state Treasury Department, had terminated its relationship with Fisher Investments because of CEO Ken Fisher’s “completely unacceptable comments.”

During a moderated keynote discussion on October 8. Fisher allegedly compared his wealth management strategy to picking up women for sex, according to summit attendees who recounted what they heard in interviews with The Washington Post.

He spoke of doing acid and his belief that charities are immoral. He also made crude comments about genitalia, attendees said, and mentioned financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was indicted on federal sex-trafficking charges earlier this year before dying by suicide in prison.

Despite a Tiburon policy that requires summit attendees to keep private what they hear and discuss there, three CEOs publicly shared their accounts of what Fisher said in the interest of exposing his behavior and holding the self-proclaimed “self-made multibillionaire” accountable.

Alex Chalekian, founder and chief executive of Lake Avenue Financial , came forward first, posting a video to Twitter hours after Fisher’s remarks. Chalekian called the fireside chat a “true debacle” and said Fisher’s words were “absolutely horrifying,” the Post reported.

Rachel Robasciotti, founder and CEO  of wealth management firm Robasciotti and Philipson, and Sonya Dreizler, a speaker and consultant to financial services firms, publicly confirmed Chalekian’s account online and in media reports.

“When you have power and you get onstage to share your worldview, and when your worldview includes women as sexual objects … that is irresponsible,” Robasciotti said in an interview with The Washington Post. “You’re peddling your worldview, and people are adopting it.”

Amid the backlash, Fisher was initially defiant in an interview with Bloomberg, defending his remarks by saying he had “given a lot of talks, a lot of times, in a lot of places and said stuff like this and never gotten that type of response.” He also claimed attendees had mischaracterized what he said and were being unfair.

Fisher, 68, later issued a formal apology. He has been barred from attending future Tiburon summits.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Bolton resisted Ukraine pressure campaign, calling Giuliani ‘a hand grenade’

October 15, 2019

The effort to squeeze Ukraine for political help provoked a head-on battle inside the White House last summer, The New York Times reports.

Indeed, the under-the-radar strong-arm tactics being used by President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, as well as administration officials, so alarmed John Bolton—who was at that time the national security adviser—that he told aide Fiona Hill to alert White House lawyers, House investigators learned on October 14.

Specifically, the Times notes, Bolton got into a tense exchange on July 10 with Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who was working with Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, to press Ukraine to provide dirt on Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son Hunter, according to three people who heard the testimony.

The aide, Fiona Hill, testified on Monday that Bolton told her to notify the chief lawyer for the National Security Council about a rogue effort by Sondland, Giuliani, and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, according to the sources to the Times.

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr. Bolton, a Yale-trained lawyer, told Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to two people at the deposition.

It was not the first time Bolton expressed grave concerns to Hill about the campaign being run by Giuliani, the news outlet said. “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” Hill quoted Bolton as saying during an earlier conversation.

According to the Times, “The testimony revealed in a powerful way just how divisive … Giuliani’s efforts to extract damaging information about Democrats from Ukraine on President Trump’s behalf were within the White House. … Hill, the senior director for European and Russian affairs, testified that … Giuliani and his allies circumvented the usual national security process to run their own foreign policy efforts, leaving the president’s official advisers aware of the rogue operation yet powerless to stop it.”

At one point, she confronted Sondland, who had inserted himself into dealings with Ukraine even though it was not part of his official portfolio, according to the Times’ sources

Hill was the first former White House official to testify in the House impeachment inquiry. While she left her post shortly before the now-infamous July 25 telephone call in which Trump pressed Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democrats, she helped House investigators understand the early months of the pressure campaign.

Research contact: @nytimes

A cure for the common cold? Stanford-UCSF researchers are close

October 15, 2019

Disabling a single, apparently noncritical protein in cells may deter the replication of viruses known to cause 50% f all common colds—as well as polio, asthma, encephalitis, and other diseases—according to researchers at Stanford University and UC-San Francisco.

Few of us escape without catching at least one rhinovirus during the winter—when germs breed freely in closed environments. There are roughly 160 known types of rhinovirus, which helps to explain why getting a cold doesn’t stop you from getting another one a month later. Making matters worse, rhinoviruses are highly mutation-prone and, as a result, quick to develop drug resistance, as well as to evade the immune surveillance brought about by previous exposure or a vaccine.

The recent academic findings about cold prevention were made in human cell cultures and in mice.

“Our grandmas have always been asking us, ‘If you’re so smart, why haven’t you come up with a cure for the common cold?’”said Jan Carette, associate professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford. “Now we have a new way to do that.”

In a study published online in the September 16 edition of Nature Microbiology, Carette and his associates found a way to stop a broad range of enteroviruses, including rhinoviruses, from replicating inside human cells in culture, as well as in mice. They accomplished this feat by disabling a protein in mammalian cells tha tall enteroviruses appear to need in order to replicate. 

Carette shares senior authorship with Or Gozani, MD, PhD, professor of biology at Stanford and the Dr. Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology; Raul Andino, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at UCSF; and Nevan Krogan, PhD, professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology at UCSF. The lead authors are former Stanford graduate student Jonathan Diep, PhD, and Stanford postdoctoral scholars Yaw Shin Ooi, PhD, and Alex Wilkinson, PhD.

Research contact: @Stanford