Posts made in February 2020

Rude awakening: Find out the story behind this amazingly grumpy baby photo

February 27, 2020

They are calling it “the scowl seen ‘round the world.” A photo from Brazil has gone viral for catching the expression of a newborn baby girl who appears to angrily stare down the doctor who delivered her by C-section.

Photographer Rodrigo Kunstmann, who snapped the now-famous picture of Isabela Pereira de Jesus, said her family burst out laughing when he showed them the image.

“They were like, ‘This could be an internet meme!’” Kunstmann, 32, told TODAY Parents on NBC-TV in the United States through a translator. “Everybody thought it was funny.”

But don’t be fooled by Isabela’s expression. Kunstmann has been in touch with her parents and they insist she has an easy, gentle disposition.

“She’s very sweet,” Kunstmann revealed. “The picture was just a moment.”

Still, it’s fun to imagine what was going through Isabela’s mind when she made her entrance into the world.

“Do NOT disturb my sleep for this! Lol,” wrote one person on Kunstmann’s Facebook page.

Added another, “She’s mad at the Dr. for taking her from her warm and dark and peaceful world into a bright room with a lot of people awing over her.”

“I remember when I first laid eyes on her after her birth, that was the face she was making,” Musa’s mom, Justine Tuhy, previously told TODAY Parents. “She was born via C-section at 41 weeks, so we assume she is annoyed she was evicted.”

Research contact: @TODAYshow

Tacos, lattés, kombucha, and makeup: 7-Eleven expands ‘Evolution Store’ concept to new locales

February 27, 2020

Most people don’t associate 7-Eleven with much more than Slurpees, snacks, lottery tickets, and travel accessories—as well as the added convenience of around-the-clock shopping service. But now the Dallas-based chain, founded in 1927, is offering some of today’s trendiest menu items and cosmetics in a new store concept that is being tested at several locations nationwide.

Indeed, 7-Eleven, Inc. is scaling up its Evolution Store concept following the successful opening of its beta store in Dallas last March. These Evolution Stores serve as real-time experiential testing grounds where customers can try the retailer’s latest innovations.

Both stores include a Laredo Taco Company restaurant, a brand that 7-Eleven acquired from Sunoco in 2018. The eatery is famous for its authentic tacos—served on handmade flour tortillas that are made from scratch in stores every day—and fresh salsa bar, with a wide selection of salsas and pico de gallo.  Tacos and meals include specialties not always seen in quick-serve Mexican restaurants, such as authentic barbacoa, chorizo, carne asada, carnitas, and breakfast tacos made with fresh-cracked eggs.

“7-Eleven’s mission is to give convenience customers what they want, when and where they want it,” said 7-Eleven CEO Joe DePinto in an official company statement. “Our evolution stores bring outstanding innovation to life through new food and beverage platforms as well as through digital experiences.”

The first Evolution Store exceeded the retailer’s expectations with enthusiastic reviews, crowds of customers, and sales that continue to climb. Concepts that resonate with consumers are refined before being incorporated into the next generation of current and new store standards.

“These new stores are invaluable learning labs, where new concepts are tailored to meet the needs of the communities they will serve from sunny southern California to the fast-paced world of the East Coast,” said 7-Eleven EVP and COO Chris Tanco. “We will continue to evolve based on customer feedback and we look forward to creating the next generation of convenience together.”

In addition to Laredo Taco Company, the 7-Eleven Evolution Stores will offer an assortment of exclusive products, services, and featurescustomized to the neighborhoods and customers they serve—among them:

  • Made-to-order specialty drinks that give customers the option to customize their drinks in a full-service beverage format including custom hot coffee drinks like flavored lattés, mochas and more; as well as custom cold drinks like smoothies, agua frescas, and cold brew coffee.
  • Self-serve specialty coffee drinks with the addition of touch-screen machines that brew custom hot coffee drinks like lattés, cappuccinos, espresso shots, and more in just seconds.
  • Novelty beverages on tap that dispense cold beverages, such as tea, cold brew, kombucha, nitro cold brew, flavored drinks, and more.
  • A cold treats bar with multiple frozen yogurt and ice cream flavors that can be swirled together with multiple toppings.
  • Cookies, croissants, and pastries baked fresh in-store daily.
  • A mobile checkout at which customers can pay for their purchases via the 7-Eleven app and accompanying 7Rewards loyalty program.
  • 7NOW Delivery App, which is 7-Eleven’s on-demand delivery app , enabling items like fresh food, beverages, snacks, groceries, and household products delivered straight to the customer’s door.
  • National-brand electronics, such as tablets and Bluetooth headphones—available for sale from a secure, self-serve kiosk.
  • On-the-go beauty with expanded skin care, makeup; and other health and beauty items.
  • “The Cellar,” an alcove dedicated to an expanded selection of wines and craft beers, with a nearby growler station that features a rotating selection of local craft beer, cider and ales on tap (except in Washington, D.C.).

The Washington D.C. store is now open at 504 K St., and the San Diego store at 3504 El Cajon Blvd. will open in the coming months. 7-Eleven plans to continue to expand Evolution Stores nationwide during 2020.

Research contact: @7eleven

Boston Globe does an about-face to endorse Elizabeth Warren

February 27, 2020

After labeling Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren as the wrong candidate for 2020 in a scornful editorial in December 2018, The Boston Globe has executed a complete flip-flop.

“… One candidate stands out as a leader with the qualifications, the track record, and the tenacity to defend the principles of democracy, bring fairness to an economy that is excluding too many Americans, and advance a progressive agenda,” The Globe said on February 26 in an endorsement of Warren, adding, “She would fight the corruption and corporate influence that distort our politics, lift up working families, and combat gun violence and climate change.”

The newspaper’s editorial board said the 70-year-old politician and former academic, who has served the state as senator since 2013, “has proved us wrong and has shaped the course of the race for the better. The electorate, at least in recent polls and in the early states, is signaling its preference for the profound change that underpins Warren’s agenda.”

Indeed, the Globe believes, Warren would be the best rival for President Donald Trump on the debate stage. Fearless and brilliant on her feet, Warren has the greatest potential among the candidates to lay bare Trump’s weaknesses on a debate stage.”

The complete text of the endorsement is available here.

By contrast,  in December 2018, the Globe’s editorial board poured scorn on a potential bid by its home state senator, saying:  “Warren missed her moment in 2016, and there’s reason to be skeptical of her prospective candidacy in 2020.”

The paper went on at that time to characterize Warren as “a divisive figure” and not the “unifying voice” it said the country needed following “the polarizing politics of Donald Trump.”

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Moo-nificent: France’s biggest celebrity is this gorgeous cow

February 26, 2020

“Her name could not be more appropriate,” says the website for the 2020 Paris International Agricultural Show: Idéale, a superb, sturdy six-year-old Charolais, has been selected to represent her breed and get top billing as this year’s mascot at the exhibition, which runs from February 22 through March 1.

The annual convention brings together farmers from all over France to celebrate the country’s rich bounty of agricultural products, from its wine and cheeses to its produce, its livestock; and, according to The New Yorker, its hot-tub vendors.

Every year, New York Magazine’s “The Cut” reports, the event chooses a bovine mascot that best embodies the wonders and opulence of the event, and whose picture gets plastered around the streets and subways of Paris. First, the breed is selected by the organizing committee. Then the president of the breeding organization for the winning breed chooses a specific cow as mascot. And this year, it’s Idéale. Idéale!

Idéale hails from Monts du Beaujolais in western France. She has, according to the show, “everything going for her.” Specifically, she has “a short head, a broad muzzle with nice sharp teeth, fine crescent-shaped horns which curve perfectly around towards her eyes (referred to as cabettes), a wide and muscular back, thick haunches, etc.”

In addition to her gorgeous sharp teeth and thick haunches, she has a sweet personality. She’s described as docile, maternal, and “she cannot hide her pleasure when being stroked.”

Last year’s mascot, Imminence, was a five-year-old Bleue du Nord, who also was a delightful ambassador, we’re sure. But who can compare to Idéale, really?

Research contact: @NYMagazine

Brooks Brothers joins with White House Historical Association to offer Presidential Collection

February 26, 2020

The White House Historical Association—a nonprofit founded in 1961 by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy with a mission to protect, preserve, and provide public access to the rich history of America’s Executive Mansion—has just announced a first-ever collaboration with Brooks Brothers and a new collection of menswear accessories online and in  stores beginning February 25.

The exclusive Presidential Collection features the Truman Presidential Seal on a pocket square; as well as a selection of red, blue and navy ties; a red double-sided bow tie; a blue double-sided bow tie; and a navy bow tie. All items are 100% silk and are made in the United States. The cost from $55 to $89.50.

The Truman Presidential Seal was established in 1945 when President Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9646 which officially defined the Presidential Coat of Arms and Seal for the first time. An eagle’s head—which originally faced right toward a bundle of 13 arrows held in its talons—was turned to face left toward the olive branch it held, symbolizing peace.

Brooks Brothers, established in 1818, is America’s oldest retail brand and has had the unique distinction of serving 40 American Presidents since its founding.

Items in this collection can be purchased online at shop.whitehousehistory.org; or at the White House Visitor Center at 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.; or the White House History Shop at 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.—both in Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association will continue its partnership with Brooks Brothers with additional exclusive collections introduced later this year.

Earlier this month, on February 17, the White House Historical Association announced the availability of the Official 2020 White House Christmas Ornament, commemorating President John F. Kennedy.

Research contact: @WhiteHouseHstry

Trump politicizes Supremes: Instructs Sotomayor, Ginsburg to recuse themselves from ‘his’ cases

February 26, 2020

President Donald Trump on Tuesday slammed Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, saying both should recuse themselves from cases involving him or his administration, Politico reported.

His comments at a press conference in India — and previous tweets to the same effect —came after Sotomayor criticized the court’s conservative majority for granting a number of the administration’s emergency stay requests.

Most recently, on February 21, the Supreme Court had unveiled a 5-4 decision to allow the Trump Administration to deny entry or green cards to immigrants based on a “wealth test,” claiming that low-income immigrants were likely to become a “public charge” and use social programs such as food stamps or Medicaid, Rolling Stone reported.

In her dissenting comments on the case (Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, et. al, v. Cook County, Illinois, et. al.) Justice Sotomayor said the administration has too quickly gone to the Supreme Court to appeal unfavorable decisions made by lower courts, and that by taking the cases, the Supreme Court is “putting a thumb on the scale in favor of” the president.

“Claiming one emergency after another, the government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited court resources in each,” Sotomayor wrote. “And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow.”

“It is hard to say what is more troubling,” she added. “That the government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the Court would grant it.”

“Perhaps most troublingly, the Court’s recent behavior on stay applications has benefited one litigant over all others,” Sotomayor wrote in the sharp opinion.

As he always does, the president clapped right back:  “She’s trying to shame people with perhaps a different view into voting her way, and that’s so inappropriate,” Trump said of Sotomayor to reporters.

The president also criticized Ginsburg for her comments during his 2016 campaign, when she called Trump a “faker” who “has no consistency about him” and “really has an ego” to CNN and told The New York Times that “I can’t imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president.”

Trump at the time called on Ginsburg to resign, and she later apologized.

Trump’s call for the two justices to recuse themselves comes as the Supreme Court prepares next month to tackle several issues directly involving the president, Politico noted. On March 31, the court will hear back-to-back oral arguments on cases that ask whether the president must comply with congressional subpoenas for his financial records and whether he is immune from state criminal investigations while serving in the White House.

Research contact: @politico

In victory for ‘Me Too,’ Harvey Weinstein found guilty as sexual predator; remanded to custody

February 25, 2020

Harvey Weinstein—formerly a large and in-charge Hollywood film producer—was found guilty on two counts on Monday morning, February 24, in his New York sexual assault trial.

Specifically, the jury convicted Weinstein of two of the five charges against him: a criminal sexual act and third-degree rape, according to a report by The Hill. The 67-year-old former movie mogul has denied any wrongdoing, saying all of his sexual encounters were consensual—however, he did not testify on his own behalf.

The verdict brings to a close the high-profile New York case—during which prosecutors had characterized him as a “sexual predator” and a serial “rapist.” Indeed, during her opening arguments last month, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast said that evidence in Weinstein’s case would show he was “not just a titan of Hollywood but a rapist.”

Jurors heard emotional testimony, including from actress Annabella Sciorrawho told the court that Weinstein raped her after shoving his way into her Manhattan apartment. “I was trying to get him off me,” Sciorra testified. “I was punching him, kicking him.”

According to The Hill, another witness who accused the former film executive of rape became so emotional during an hours-long cross-examination by Weinstein’s attorney Donna Rotunno that she was dismissed for the day by the judge.

The sexual assault allegations, first brought against Weinstein in 2017—followed by a flurry of public accusations of sexual misconduct against many in the entertainment industry— helped to spur the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and to shine a spotlight on systemic sexual harassment.

In total, The Hill notes, more than 80 women—including actresses Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, and Gwyneth Paltrow—have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, ranging from harassment to rape.

Last year, Weinstein reportedly reached a $44 million settlement with some of his accusers.

Weinstein was remanded to custody by New York Supreme Court Judge James Burke pending sentencing on Wednesday, March 11. Rotunno made an unsuccessful last-ditch plea to keep her client free on bail due, in part, to his ill health and pain as a result of an auto accident last summer, but the judge did not grant the request.

The erstwhile Miramax titan could face up to 25 years in prison, with a minimum of four years.

What’s more, the legal peril isn’t over for Weinstein, who has also been indicted for alleged sexual misconduct in Los Angeles.

Research contact: @thehill

Brands see big potential in ‘nighttime nutrition’

February 25, 2020

Late-night snacks are being legitimized and “healthified” by snack brands, in hopes of creating a new and profitable niche in the industry, Food Business News reports.

A small but growing number of products designed for pre-bedtime snacking are entering the market. They’re healthier than traditional late-night fare—and offer the added benefit of promoting sleep and relaxation.

Among them is Nightfood of Tarrytown, New York, which launched a “sleep friendly” ice cream line last year. Available in a variety of flavors—including Full Moon Vanilla, Midnight Chocolate, and Cherry Eclipse—the products contain more fiber and protein (and, yes, fewer calories) than traditional ice cream. Ingredients like magnesium and glycine promote relaxation; while ingredients that may disrupt sleep, such as excess sugar, fat and caffeine, are reduced or eliminated.

“Just being delicious isn’t enough these days,” Sean Folkson, CEO at Nightfood, told Food Business News. “Neither is just being different. You need to be different, but in a way that actually matters to the consumer.”

Folkson learned that the hard way: Nightfood ice cream wasn’t the company’s first functional late-night snack—but it looks like the company’s first successful entrant in the niche. It launched a sleep-promoting nutrition bar in 2015. The brand struggled to generate consumer excitement around the product, but, Folkson said its modest results led to an important insight: When it comes to late-night snacking, consumers aren’t searching for better-for-you products like nutrition bars. They’re reaching for more indulgent items like potato chips, cookies, ice cream or candy.

“I now understand that providing night snackers with nighttime nutrition bars is like giving an eight-year old a pet rock,” he told the business publication. “Interesting, but not exciting or life-changing. On the other hand, providing night snackers with nighttime ice cream is like giving that eight-year old a puppy.”

And other companies—among them, Nestle-backed Goodnight and Milwaukee-based Good Source Foods, also are jumping on the bandwagon.

Goodnight launched last year through Foundry Foods, an internal incubator from Nestle USA. Available in milk and dark chocolate varieties, the brand’s before-bed bites contain L-Theanine, magnesium and casein protein, which interact with metabolic processes related to sleep regulation.

“(Goodnight) is confirming our beliefs that people are looking for a natural remedy for something they normally take in supplement form such as melatonin,” Doug Munk, director of New Business Ventures for Nestle USA told Food Business News. “We are also finding people are looking to replace some of their junk foods before they go to sleep with something that is a little better.”

The company currently is gearing up to launch updated “Goodnight 2.0” products following last year’s successful test run.

Good Source Foods uses dried cherries, which contain melatonin, and lavender, which is known for its calming effects, to make its Evening Calm variety of chocolate clusters. Designed to promote sleep and relaxation, the chocolates also contain turmeric, honey, oats, and walnuts.

Nightfood, Goodnight and Good Source Foods are some of the handful of brands tapping into nighttime nutrition, which Mintel called “one of the most compelling and category changing trends” in its annual Food and Drink Trends report. More than 80% of consumers snack regularly before bed, Mintel said.

There may be a biological component driving consumers to the kitchen at night. Appetite tends to peak in the evening, when cravings for sweet and salty foods are strongest. Willpower weakens throughout the day, so the later it gets, the easier it is to reach for the cookie jar or bag of candy.

At the same time, interest in better-for-you snacks is at an all-time high. As many as 80% of consumers seek healthier snacks that pack an added functional benefit.

“Scientific research over the last several years has helped us more clearly understand why people snack the way they do at night,” said Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona and adviser to Nightfood. “It seems we’re biologically hard-wired to default to sweets, salts, and fats as it gets later in the day.”

This may explain why more than 50% of consumers report dissatisfaction with their own night snacking behavior, despite spending an estimated $1 billion per week on snacks consumed between dinner and bed.

“More than half of that money … is being spent in a dissatisfied way, by people that want something better,” Folkson said.  “That speaks to, not only the size of the opportunity, but the immediacy and the motivation on behalf of the consumer, which is really powerful stuff.”

Research contact: @FoodBusiness

Is the fix in? Bloomberg purportedly is plotting a brokered convention strategy

February 25, 2020

Will Democrats actually nominate the candidate they support? Not only is the Kremlin attempting to reshape results via a not-so-stealthy influence campaign; but now, Politico reports, the fix may be in at the convention.

Indeed, the news outlet alleges, despite his bad showing at the Nevada debate last week—and his promise to fund the campaign of whomever the Democratic party chooses as its candidate—Mike Bloomberg is privately lobbying Democratic Party.

Purportedly, Bloomberg is sweet-talking officials and donors allied with his moderate opponents to flip their allegiance to him —and block Bernie Sanders—in the event of a brokered national convention.

The effort, largely executed by Bloomberg’s senior state-level advisers in recent weeks, Politico says, attempts to prime Bloomberg for a second-ballot contest at the Democratic National Convention in July by poaching supporters of Joe Biden and other moderate Democrats, according to two Democratic strategists familiar with the talks and unaffiliated with Bloomberg.

The outreach has involved meetings and telephone calls with supporters of Biden and Pete Buttigieg—as well as uncommitted DNC members—in Virginia, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, and North Carolina, according to one of the strategists who participated in meetings and calls.

With Sanders’ emergence as the frontrunner in the presidential primary, Democrats in those states have recently raised the prospect that the Democratic Socialist could be a top-of-the-ticket liability, Politico reports.

“There’s a whole operation going on, which is genius,” one of the strategists, who is unaffiliated with any campaign told the news outlet. “And it’s going to help them win on the second ballot … They’re telling them that’s their strategy.”

However, such a political play could bring havoc to the convention—raising the prospect of party insiders delivering the nomination to a billionaire over a progressive populist.

“Look, I think if the election were today, Bernie Sanders would [have] … the delegate lead,” longtime Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson told reporters Wednesday night. “In part that is because the moderate lane of the party is split, and … many of the candidates are going to split that vote. Now, that may change between now and Super Tuesday, but I think if the election were today, that would be the result.”

He called Bloomberg “the best-positioned candidate to take on Bernie Sanders.”

Responding to a question at the debate on Wednesday about whether the person with the most delegates should be the nominee, Bloomberg said, “Whatever the rules of the Democratic Party are, they should be followed.”

Asked if that meant the convention should “work its will,” Bloomberg replied, “Yes.”

Research contact: @politico

Do you have an addictive personality, or just a healthy enthusiasm?

February 24, 2020

Some people cannot stop tweeting; others stream endless episodes of a favorite TV series, drink gallons of coffee each week; bet on competitive sports;  cover themselves with tattoos, jockey for position on video games, or visit tanning salons. While they may not be taking opioids, they still might be “addicted.”

But is there such a thing as an addictive personality? The informal answer is yes, according to the American Addiction Centers—one of the largest networks of rehab facilities nationwide.

Indeed, the rehabilitation experts describe “addictive personality” as an informal term that links particular personality traits to a higher risk of addiction or other problematic behaviors—such as drug abuse, cigarette smoking, gambling, or even constant social media use—according to a report by MindyBodyGreen 

“The term is used colloquially to refer to people who have tendencies that appear to lead to addiction-like behaviors,” says George Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

“Addictive personality” is a term often used in association with alcoholism, but you can also feel addicted to other things, like certain activities, people, foods, or physical objects. According to J. Wesley Boyd, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics, behaviors like gambling, frequent social media use, or even video gaming can also be addictive.

“For people who are addicted to these behaviors—and even those who just derive intense enjoyment from them—engaging in these behaviors can result in the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is the final common pathway of basically every drug of abuse,” Dr. Boyd told MindyBodyGreen.

He also notes that you can even be addicted to another person in a dating relationship because of this neurochemical response. That said, an unhealthy addiction is very different from healthy enthusiasm.

“Being addicted to something means it has taken over your life and that you are sacrificing important things in your life in service of the addiction,” says Boyd. Koob describes addiction similarly as “being stuck in a cycle in which a person binges on a substance, feels discomfort when the substance wears off, and is preoccupied with procuring and using the substance again.” (And again, this doesn’t apply only to physical substances—it can also be behaviors or experiences.)

On the flip side, “enthusiasm means that you might love something and even that you might look forward to it much of the time, but you are not and will not compromise basic important elements in your life,” Boyd says. 

Some experts believe that the term “addicted” is used too loosely to explain behaviors that are closer to enthusiasm, so Boyd uses exercise as an example of this distinction: An enthusiastic exerciser will look forward to workouts but probably won’t work out when they’re sick, he says. An exercise “addict,” on the other hand, might continue exercising even when they have the flu, despite adverse outcomes. 

“There are definitely individuals who are prone to become addicted in various ways,” Boyd says, noting that addiction is often a combination of both genetics and the environment. “Some of this is based on personal history, but much of it is determined by having a family history of addiction.”

According to MindBodyGreen, people who are at a higher-than-average risk for addiction may have some of the following markers:

  • A close family member with an addiction. Boyd says individuals born to parents who have an addiction are more likely to become addicted themselves, and lots of research backs this up. Overall, it appears that genetic heritability affects addiction by between 40% and 70%—but Koob is careful to note that this genetic component comes from many different pathways, and the likelihood of developing an addiction is due to both the environment and your genetics.
  • An OCD diagnosis. Several other disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, are more likely to co-occur with addiction.
  • Impulsive tendencies and trouble self-regulating. A study about video game addiction found that impulsive people might be more prone to developing an addiction.
  • Low self-esteem. For certain people, low self-esteem also appears to be associated with a higher risk for developing an addiction, according to the study about video gamers.
  • ADHD. A sibling study conducted in 1997 found certain people with ADHD may be more likely to develop substance use disorders, and more recent studies have found that ADHD and substance use disorders tend to co-occur in the same patients.
  • Social anxiety. People who feel lonely and anxious during social events are more likely to develop problematic internet use tendencies, according to a 2007 study. This may be because scrolling the internet can feel soothing in the moment, which helps to reduce overall feelings of anxiety or discomfort.
  • A traumatic history. Koob says people who have a history of abuse or trauma may be more likely to initiate substance abuse in order to reduce their discomfort.

Again, Koob is careful to note, “While there are tendencies that increase the risk of a substance use disorder, they don’t comprise a specific personality type, such as an addictive personality.”

Research contact: @mindbodygreen