Posts made in July 2020

Finding puppy love: A dating app called Dig helps dog lovers start human and canine relationships

August 3, 2020

Looking for love but haven’t truly connected with your soulmate? You might just be barking up the wrong tree, according to a report by ABC-TV’s Good Morning America.

If you are someone who loves dogs, then you know just how important it is to find a human companion who feels the same way. Which is exactly why sisters, Leigh and Casey Isaacson, created Dig, which they describe as “The Dog Person’s Dating App.”

The app first launched on Valentine’s Day 2018 and now has gone national with the intention of connecting dog people, regardless of whether they actually own a pooch, or are someone who just really “digs” canines.

The idea originated one night in New York City, when Casey Isaacson discovered that her otherwise acceptable date wouldn’t let her dog into his apartment. Standing unhappily on his stoop, as the relationship abruptly dissolved, she had an idea. Casey called the only person she knew who loved dogs as much as she did— her sister Leigh—and Dig was born.

“When you’re dating and you’re a dog owner, it doesn’t matter who reaches out first or how many friends you have in common. If you don’t get along with my dog, it’s never going to work,” Leigh said in an interview with Pet Friendly House. “If you don’t have a dog but you know you’ll want one in the future, you need to know you’re dating a dog person from the start.”

According to GMA, when users join Dig, they can indicate particular preferences— including whether they are already dog owners—or just loe dogs. The app then presents users with unlimited matches every day where they can express whether they “dig,” “really dig,” or “pass” on those particular matches.

The goal of the app is to connect people who “live a dog-forward lifestyle” so Dig offers tips from veterinarians and dog trainers to help make that first date and dog meet-up go as smoothly and with as little stress as possible. Having a dog impacts every aspect of your life so it’s extremely important to find out early on not only if you’re compatible, but if your dogs are too. By offering dog-friendly date ideas, the Dig team is helping both couples looking to connect, as well as promoting dog-friendly businesses.

Lizz Evalen, a freelance writer from Chicago, told GMA that one of the great things about her Dig date was having her dog along as a buffer.“Lull in the conversation, make goofy noises at the pup,” said Evalen. “Think you have nothing to talk about? Ask anything related to the pup.”

In addition to helping people make a love connection, Dig is also using their platform to help shelter dogs find their “fur-ever” home. The team works closely with rescue organizations in various cities and at most events will have dogs available for adoption. In addition, their social media is another great way to check out those pups looking to make their own human connection.

With the recent health crisis, Dig events have been put on hold, but Leigh says the sisters have been using this time to focus on further building out the app. One new addition, which will be available over the next few weeks is the digital dog park, a space where users can interact and learn more about one another before matching with someone.

Research contact: @GMA

Oprah Magazine features Breonna Taylor on cover of September issue

August 3, 2020

O: The Oprah Magazine has covered a wide swath of American culture since it started 20 years ago, but all of its 241 issues have had one thing in common: Oprah Winfrey—the publication’s founder and America’s reigning queen of all media—has been on the cover.

That will change with the September issue, which will be available on newsstands August 11, The New York Times reports. The new cover, unveiled Thursday, features a portrait of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot and killed by the police when they erroneously conducted a drug raid at her home in Louisville, Kentucky, in March.

Winfrey started an essay for the issue with her name, writing: “Breonna Taylor. “She was just like me. She was just like you.”

She ended the essay by explaining why she had decided to give up the cover spot of her namesake magazine: “What I know for sure: We can’t be silent. We have to use whatever megaphone we have to cry for justice.

“And that is why Breonna Taylor is on the cover of O magazine.”

No criminal charges have been filed against the three Louisville Metro Police Department officers who entered the home of Taylor, an emergency medical technician, shortly after midnight on March 13.

Last month, Brett Hankison, one of the three officers, was fired. The police chief, Robert Schroeder, accused him of violating the department’s policy on the use of deadly force, saying he had “wantonly and blindly” fired ten shots into Taylor’s home. The other two officers were reassigned.

Indeed, Taylor was shot at least eight times. She did not receive medical attention for more than 20 minutes after she was struck, The Courier Journal reported, citing police logs. The officers involved in the case have said they identified themselves when they entered; however, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was present, said the police did not identify themselves.

The Louisville police said that Walker shot and wounded one officer in the leg and charged him with the attempted murder of a police officer. That charge was dismissed in May.

The idea of putting Ms. Taylor on the O cover was the brainchild of Deirdre Read, the magazine’s visual research editor, said Lucy Kaylin, the editor in chief of O, in an email to the Times.

“I brought the idea to Oprah, who immediately said ‘YES,’” Kaylin said.

The cover image is a selfie taken by Taylor and then rereated by the digital portrait artist Alexis Franklin.

On Wednesday, July 29,  O’s publisher, Hearst Magazines, and Oprah Winfrey, herself,  announced that O would discontinue regular print editions and become more digitally focused. “This is a natural progression for the brand,” Kristen O’Hara, the Hearst Magazines chief business officer, said in a statement. The company added that the December issue will be O’s last regular monthly print edition.

Research contact: @nytimes

Engel subpoenas State Department for ‘smear documents’ on Biden already given to Senate Republicans

August 3, 2020

Representative Eliot Engel (D-New York)—who is serving out his 16th term in Congress after losing his seat in the June primary to progressive challenger Jamaal Bowman—intends to go out fighting, both for his constituents and against the GOP.

Engel, who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee , subpoenaed the State Department on Friday, July 31— demanding copies of documents that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo already has provided to Senate Republicans investigating Joe Biden, Politico reported.

According to a press release issued by the committee, the subpoena demands all records purportedly dealing with the Bidens and Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings the department has produced to Republican-led Senate committees. Despite delivering Republican Senate chairmen thousands of pages of records, the Department of State has refused Chairman Engel’s request to provide duplicates to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. In addition, Chairman Engel’s subpoena seeks internal State Department correspondence about responding to Congress.

“After trying to stonewall virtually every oversight effort by the Foreign Affairs Committee in the last two years, Mr. Pompeo is more than happy to help Senate Republicans advance their conspiracy theories about the Bidens,” Engel said in a statement. “I want to see the full record of what the department has sent to the Senate and I want the American people to see it too.”

Engel also stated that, “Just days after the conclusion of President Trump’s impeachment trial, in which Secretary Pompeo refused to comply with a duly authorized subpoena for documents and attempted to block testimony of key witnesses, the State Department producing documents to Senate Republicans to help advance a political smear of Vice President Biden.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Politico.

Engel has threatened to subpoena for the documents since May, when the probe of Burisma by Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) began ramping up. Johnson has denied that his investigation is meant as a political cudgel or is being influenced by foreign interests seeking to hurt Biden, Politico says.

The House impeached President Donald Trump last year for pushing Ukraine’s leaders to investigate Biden and other Democrats, and withholding security assistance to the country—amid its war with Russia—to exert pressure.

Now, Republicans clearly are trying to change the plot line. Indeed, Trump allies responded by leveling discredited allegations that Biden pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, an energy company where his son Hunter served on the board.

Conversely, State Department leaders testified during impeachment proceedings that Biden’s work in Ukraine was done in accordance with department policy, and that efforts to remove the prosecutor were part of an international push to root out corruption.

More recently, top Democrats have cited intelligence suggesting that at least some of the anti-Biden efforts are being fueled by Kremlin-aligned Ukrainians seeking to interfere in the 2020 election.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer have demanded an all-Congress FBI briefing about intelligence they say shows a specific foreign plot to influence congressional action, Politico reports..

After attending a general election security briefing, Pelosi on Friday morning, July 31, blasted the administration for “withholding” evidence of foreign interference.

The subpoena, directed to Secretary Pompeo, requires that the records be turned over by August 7.

Research contact: @politico

Man is convinced he’s lived a past life after spotting doppelgänger in 1905 photograph

July 31, 2020

Have you ever felt an affinity for—or had phantom memories of—a long-ago era? Recently, one young man was left thoroughly spooked after spotting his doppelgänger in a photograph taken in 1905, Metro UK reports.

Michael Koropisz was left confused by a black-and-white image—which he initially assumed was some type of “selfie,” only to realise it was actually someone from the Victoria era.

The 24-year-old from Stockport, Manchester, England, said: ‘I was sent the photo on Instagram …, as someone thought it was me. [He had] seen it on a website for collars.

“I was gobsmacked when I realized it wasn’t me,” he added, noting, “We have the same hair, face shape, nose, and dress sense.”

Michael said that he couldn’t resist ‘reverse image searching’ the photo—and was shocked to discover that it was taken 115 years ago. In the snap, Michael’s doppelganger—a man in his early 20s—can be seen looking up at his new wife.

According to Metro UK, Michael has more in common with the man in the photograph, as well. He says he always been has fascinated with the Victorian era, noting, “I’ve always been obsessed with the 19th century era and have dedicated my wardrobe and lifestyle to it; and now maybe that’s because of my past life. A lot of people have called me a ‘time traveler’ online, but I don’t know what to think. It has to be one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen, It really does look just like me.”

Michael gets around town on a vintage bicycle, writes in quill, and refuses to watch TV – but he now believes these interests stem from his past life. He added: ‘I don’t know anything about the man in the photo taken in 1905 but by the looks of his fashion, he was either from the UK or USA.

“It really spooked me at first as I have never seen anyone look so similar to me, I feel like I’m looking at a recent image of myself when I look at the photo but of course it’s not. ‘I’m convinced I’ve had a past life now.”

Research contact: @MetroUK

During ‘dog days of summer,’ MasterClass makes training Fido easy with latest online course

July 31, 2020

MasterClass—the streaming platform that makes it possible for anyone to learn a skill or a subject from the best—announced on July 30 that Emmy Award-winning master animal trainer  and behaviorist Brandon McMillan will teach a class on dog training.

Through a series of easy-to-follow techniques, MasterClass members and their dogs will learn how to confidently master obedience and house training skills while building trust, executing common commands and fixing bad habits. The new course is available now at MasterClass.com, where members can subscribe for unlimited access to all new and existing 85+ classes through the All-Access Pass. MasterClass categories include business, culinary arts, film & television, music & entertainment, photography, sports and more.

“Brandon is an expert animal trainer. From working with tigers and bears for film and television to training dogs to perform specialized tasks to assist disabled veterans, he has dedicated his entire life to bringing dogs and people together to create a happy home,” said David Rogier, co-founder and CEO of MasterClass. “Brandon’s MasterClass gives members the opportunity to learn clear, easy-to-follow techniques and tips on how to train their dogs—no matter their age.”  

McMillan has dedicated his life to helping animals and humans work together. Stemming from years as a wild animal trainer for film and television, McMillan has received global acclaim for creating a unique training system that he calls a “Hybrid System,” where he’s taken his experience working with wild animals and applied it to the domestic world of dogs.

McMillan brought his expertise to television on his CBS-TV show Lucky Dog, for which he received three Emmy Awards for his work as executive producer and host. McMillan went on to author Lucky Dog Lessons: Train Your Dog in 7 Days and has become an powerful advocate for animal rescue and rehabilitation. He is co-founder of The Argus Service Dog Foundation, dedicated to training and matching service dogs with disabled veterans.

“Dog training is not about dominance, it’s about trust and conditioning,” McMillan commented in a press release. “In this class, I will teach you the training fundamentals needed to not only have a well trained dog, but also a best friend who trusts and loves you and will be there for you for the rest of their life.”

Research contact @masterclass

Go or no go? Experts say it’s ‘Constitutionally impossible’ for Trump to delay the 2020 election

July 31, 2020

Better late than never elected? President Donald Trump floated the idea of delaying the November general election on Twitter on Thursday, July 30, NBC News reports.

The president seems to be panicking about his prospects for re-election, as the U.S. economy shrinks amid the coronavirus pandemic and voters’ support for his opponent, Joe Biden, surges.

But, NBC notes, the president has no power to delay an election, and Trump’s suggestion has raised alarm bells among legal experts and presidential historians as he continues to push evidence-free claims about the security of voting by mail.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump said on Twitter. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

While states have the authority to delay their primary elections, only Congress can change the date for the general election for president under the Constitution. Since 1845, Congress has required the appointment of presidential electors (now by election in every state) to take place on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, which this year is November 3.

As to whether an election could be delayed indefinitely—such as for a public health emergency as Trump suggests—legal experts have informed NBC News that such a ploy is “out of the realm of possibility.” Even if Congress did agree to change the date of the general election, Trump’s term still would expire on January 20 in accordance with the 20th Amendment of the Constitution.

“That’s constitutionally impossible,” Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center and a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said of any indefinite delay. “The president’s term expires and there is no way for him to continue in office beyond January 20 without being re-elected.”

And there’s quite a few things that have to happen before that date: States need to choose their electors for the Electoral College, who then need to meet and choose the president. Then, Congress has to count the Electoral College votes.

“All of that has to happen by January 20,” Potter told NBC News. “That is why Congress will not delay the election even a week or two, because the timeline is pretty tight.”

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss pointed out that U.S. elections have persisted through wars.

“The president’s tweet is more an attempt to (improperly, and without any evidence) denigrate the election we’re going to have than a real attempt to postpone,” Justin Levitt, a constitutional law and democracy expert at Loyola Law School, said in a text message to NBC.

Levitt was previously a deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice during the Obama administration, working on voting rights litigation.

In his tweet, Trump also gets the facts wrong about mail voting.

“Universal mail voting” and “absentee voting” are not substantively different methods of voting: Both involve the use of ballots transmitted by mail, filled out and returned by registered voters.

Most states are expanding existing absentee voting programs— which Trump appears to praise in his tweet—so people can vote more safely, and there is no nationwide move towards all-mail elections. A handful of states—including Washington and Utah, which already vote entirely or almost entirely by mail—are continuing that practice in 2020.

The vast majority of states are planning a mix of mail and in-person voting in November. Potter suspects that the president’s complaint lies in how voters get their mail ballots—by default or by request.

“If what he means is that people are sent a ballot at home without having to first request it, which is what I think he’s saying, then almost no states do that,” Potter said. “The idea that the whole country is doing voting by mail rather than requesting an absentee ballot is simply factually completely untrue.”

Former Republican strategist and media consultant Rick Wilson replied to the president’s tweet, saying: “Every GOP official should be put on the record today. Simple yes or no answer. ‘Should we delay the election?’ Watch how many of them say, ‘What is Twitter?’ ‘Donald who?’ ‘I haven’t seen the tweet.’ ‘Ya ne govoryu po angliyski.’ ‘I’m late for lunch.’”

Former presidential candidate Tom Steyer simply tweeted: “Somone please inform the president that’s not how this works.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

‘The Great British Bake Off’ will be back for 2020—but some key ‘ingredients’ have changed

July 30, 2020

In a television landscape filled with cancellations and postponements, news that The Great British Bake Off—shown on PBS Food and  Netflix in America—is returning to our screens later this year is very welcome indeed.

And it’s not just those who have become avid bread bakers during the pandemic who will celebrate the return of the amateur contestants and their judges. In fact, according to the analytics group YouGov, The Great British Bake Off is the second-most-popular food and drink show of all time (after MasterChef)—as well as the most famous—to come out of the UK.

Along with a brand new host and location, the upcoming eleventh season will adhere to safety measures recommended for avoiding infection by COVID-19. So, although GBBO is coming back in 2020, viewers can expect a much different series this time around.

As Deadline reportsproduction on Bake Off’s latest run is now currently underway, after filming plans were derailed back in April following the nation-wide-and worldwide—pandemic lockdown.

The show’s entire cast and crew,—including brand  new host comedian and actor Matt Lucas, replacing Sandi Toksvig—each quarantined before filming started to allow filming to commence. Physical interactions on-set will also be limited with social distancing. The Paul Hollywood salutory handshake is a thing of the past, tooper a report by Eater London.

The show—which usually is filmed over a leisurely eleven weeks—is being filmed in just four, according to Deadline. New rules surrounding food safety and personal hygiene are also being observed. The crew cannot eat leftovers, for instance, and contestants cannot see their family while filming.

As Metro reports, the long-running baking competition also has moved from its usual home in Welford Park, Berkshire, and instead set up shop in a fresh, more COVID-secure filming spot. “It’s all happening in deep secret, somewhere in darkest deepest Britain in the shires,” teased Sky Studios Chief Commercial Officer Jane Millichip. However, Bake Off’s new home has since been revealed to be situated within the grounds of Down Hall Hotel in Essex.

Speaking to Metro, a representative for the show’s production company previously reassured fans that all efforts have been put into making sure the 2020 series goes ahead. “We’re working hard to deliver Bake Off to the audience this year, the priority is the safety of everyone involved in the production of the series,” the Love Productions rep explained.

The newest member of the cast, Lucas, is set to co-host alongside fellow Bake Off presenter Noel Fielding throughout the upcoming season, and discussing his delicious new TV gig, he told Britain’s  Channel 4 news: “I’m chuffed to bits to be joining the most delicious show on television. I can’t wait to break bread with Noel, Prue and Paul and meet the brilliant bakers.”

While the exact date of the new season premiere has not been announced, Sky Studios’ Millichip recently commented that “You will have your Victoria sponge this year.”

Research contact: @DEADLINE

Getting the brush-off: Clarisonic is shutting down and its devoted fans are panicking

July 30, 2020

Clarisonic, the brand that invented vibrating skin cleansing devices, stunned fans earlier this month when it announced that it was shutting down for good, CNN reports.

The news originally came via an Instagram post on July 14, in which Clarisonic, owned by L’Oreal, said the brand would shutter its operations on September 30 after “more than a decade of game-changing innovation.”

The brand—which has sold has sold more than 15 million devices and counting—has become part of the daily skincare rituals of both women and men worldwide, CNN reports.

Now, fans are responding with a mix of shock, denial and fear: One Twitter user even asked investors from the ABC-TV show Shark Tank to step in, tweeting, “@ABCSharkTank can’t help out @Clarisonic??? We don’t want this to be the end.”

Lawyer Jessica McElfresh tweeted at @LOrealParisUSA: “Do not do this! Everyone knows Clarisonic is the best. You are making a massive mistake.”

McElfresh has used a Clarisonic device since college. She said the news “just came out of nowhere” and confused her because she didn’t think there was any problem with the device or any valid reason to discontinue the brand.

“Every aesthetician I’ve ever visited uses one,” she said. “The market has more facial cleansing devices all the time, but I truly don’t believe any are as good.”

Clarisonic said the decision to close the brand was made in an effort to help L’Oréal “focus its attention on its other core business offerings.” L’Oreal did not respond to requests for comment from CNN.

In recent years Clarisonic has been grappling with competition in an increasingly crowded marketplace where other lower-priced alternatives have been winning over consumers.

A more immediate problem for all Clarisonic users now, is how to get replacement brushes since the device requires users to buy a new cleansing brush every three months.

In an FAQ section on its website, Clarisonic said it won’t sell devices, brushes, or other attachments after September 30, and all of its subscription services for replacement brushes will be inactive after July 31.

In 2018, Clarisonic owned 14% share of the U.S. market for skin cleansing devices, according to market research firm Kline & Co. As the market grew, it became fragmented with newer brands like Foreo and NuSkin, which ate into Clarisonic’s share and following.

It remains to be seen if these options will help placate disappointed Clarisonic users. “I’ve tried other options before and just didn’t like them as much,” said McElfresh. “They’re not the same as a Clarisonic.”

Research contact: @CNN

GOP Rep. Louis Gohmert tests positive for COVID-19; may have exposed Barr outside hearing room

July 30, 2020

Representative Louis Gohmert, a Texas Republican, has tested positive for the coronavirus after refusing to wear a mask on the House floor and around the Capitol, Politico first reported Wednesday.

What’s more, Gohmert may have exposed Attorney General Bill Barr to the virus, while the AG was on the Hill to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, July 28, reporter Olivia Beavers tweeted.

Gohmert defended not wearing a mask, even when he’s not able to social distance, in an interview with CNN last month— saying he’d only wear a face covering regularly if he contracted the virus.

“I don’t have the coronavirus, turns out as of yesterday I’ve never had it,” he said at the time. “But if I get it, you’ll never see me without a mask.”

The conservative, age 66, attended Attorney General William Barr’s House hearing on Tuesday and  spoke with Barr within six feet without wearing a mask.

Indeed, Beavers, a national security reporter for The Hill, tweeted, “Rep. Gohmert, who was without a mask, stood outside the men’s bathroom where Barr went before he walked into the “hearing” room. Once out, Gohmert approached the AG and exchanged a comment or two. Would say from memory, they were within arms length.”

She noted that Barr, who had arrived with a mask, removed it while he talked to Gohmert.

The next day, Jake Sherman, a Politico reporter, broke the news that Gohmert had just tested positive for COVID-19.

According to The Hill, Gohmert is now the tenth member of Congress with a presumed or confirmed case of COVID-19. Representatives. Joe Cunningham (D-South Carolina.), Ben McAdams (D-Utah), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida), Neal Dunn (R-Florida), Mike Kelly (R-Pennsylvania), Tom Rice (R-South Carolina) and Morgan Griffith (R-Virginia;s well as Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), have also tested positive for the disease.

A spokesperson for Barr said Wednesday that the attorney general would be tested for the coronavirus following the exposure to Gohmert.

Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, may want to take a test, too. Word is, he used the same microphone as Gohmert at the Tuesday hearing.

Research contact: @thehill

The sandals that are making a splash in the fashion world this season are called ‘Fish Flops’

July 29, 2020

Like goldfish, themselves, this trend may not be long-lived—but this summer, Goldfish Flops (AKA Fish Flops) are becoming the “new wave” in fashion.

The Daily Beast reports that Goldfish Flops are one of several novelty shoes available on Coddies.com—a site with a tagline that says it all: “Unusual shoes for people with imagination.”

The fish flops come in several colors, including hot pink, green, blue, and silver. (For those among us who cherish a matching set, you can also buy an adorable two-pack of face masks with a scale pattern on them!)

And it’s not just fish that Coddies offers for your feet. Other popular products, according to the site, include Bread Loafersshoes in the shape of bananas, and slides designed to look like cut mangoes. Also: cabbage creepers!

And although virtually every garment has been subject to some novelty craze or another, shoes do seem to have become the nexus of a certain kind of deranged imagination. Looking back, the hottest craze among the elementary school set during the mid-’90s was Jellies—available in a rainbow of plasticized colors! Then in marched the light-up sneakers. Then Heelys skated onto the scene.

And as just about anyone who’s ever visited Etsy knows, you can get just about anything painted on a Vans slip-on.

As Daily Beast writer Laura Bradley notes, “At a time when I have to constantly cover my face, I view the tacky, dead-eyed fish on my feet as a statement piece. I want to let others know that I, too, am losing my mind with bored, impotent desperation.

“Still,” she says, “I can only hope that next time I see these neighbors, they’ll all be wearing Cabbage Creepers and Bread Loafers and Banana Splits. Because I have to say: $27.98 might sound steep for a pair of ugly, fish-shaped novelty shoes—but it’s already the most joy per dollar I’ve found in my life. And right now, that’s priceless.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast