Posts made in September 2020

Testing the water: Floater wetsuit helps non-swimmers overcome their fear of taking the plunge

October 1, 2020

A wetsuit called the Floater is getting people into the water after decades of living in fear. Invented by surfer and entrepreneur Mark Okrusko, the Floater wetsuit keeps non-swimmers buoyant with a patented flotation panel attached over the chest area

 “All wetsuits may look similar; however, [this] wetsuit stands, or floats, above the rest because of the added flotation device in the front panel.” Orusko recently told The Good News Network.

Traditionally, there are flotation belts, but they can be difficult to use—with a tricky center of gravity that can leave the wearer face down in the water. Life jackets often ride up on the neck and can be uncomfortable and bulky.

Donna Mudge, a resident of Santa Barbara, needed something special to conquer her fear. Now in her mid-fifties, she never had learned to swim. “Every time I was swimming, I feared that I would sink. And when I panicked, I would sink,” Mudge told GNN.

Swimming lessons from a lifeguard friend did little to alleviate Mudge’s fear. After one bad incident in the deep end during her swimming lessons, Mudge said, “I gripped the edge of the pool so tight, my friend couldn’t get me to let go.”

But, after trying the Floater, “I felt I could get in the water without someone watching me,” said Mudge, who now has the confidence to go boogie boarding by herself for the first time ever.

Sandra Brodeur of Nashua, New Hampshire, also has overcome her fear of water, using the floatation wetsuit. For as long as she can remember, Brodeur always feared not being able to touch the bottom, which made it difficult to learn to swim. “I tried everything—including private lessons, and could never get over the panic when I couldn’t touch the bottom of a pool or ocean floor,” said Brodeur.

Then her boyfriend, an avid sailor, wanted to take her to the British Virgin Islands for a sailing and snorkeling vacation. “He found the Floater wetsuit online and we ordered one. I felt so safe and confident at all times from the buoyancy of the suit that for the first time in my life I could relax in the water and enjoy it. At times, I was in 30-40 feet of water without fear! To me, that is a miracle.” said Brodeur.

“People write to us all the time about how they can now do activities in the water they never felt confident to do before, from children to young adults to seniors,” said Ruth Wishengrad, VP of the new California-based company., called Airtime Watertime.

The suits cost $149.95 for women; $169.95 for men; and $89.95 for the children’s style.

Research contact: @atwtfloater

‘Will you shut up, man?’: Biden sells T-shirt flaunting a memorable phrase from a loony debate

October 1, 2020

Tuesday night’s presidential debate was, well, a “sh*t show” as CNN’s Dana Bash succinctly called it. Another CNN host, Jake Tapper, was a little more reserved—but just barely—calling the Trump-Biden face-off on September 29 “a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck.”

On the other hand, Trump Campaign Manager Bill Stepien said in a statement (presumably because it would have been too hard to keep a straight face while actually speaking these words), “President Trump just turned in the greatest debate performance in presidential history.”

“Yeah,” said Fast Company on Wednesday.

But look, no matter the number of astonishing moments—like when Trump was asked to condemn white supremacists, but instead told the White nationalist hate group, the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”—there were some great, if not shocking, zingers from Biden. For instance, after Trump continued to talk over Biden, the former VP let out the words that many viewers were probably thinking: “Will you shut up, man?”

Needless to say, Biden’s plea quickly went viral. It went so viral, matter of fact, that the Biden campaign started selling “Will You Shut Up, Man?” T-shirts before the debate was even over, Fast Company reports.

While there are no sales numbers available yet, it’s easy to imagine the shirt will be one of the Biden campaign’s best-sellers. You can grab one now for $30—and, if anything, you might want to just for posterity’s sake. It could easily be one of the most memorable pieces of 2020 election memorabilia.

Then again, we have two more debates to get through. If last night is any indication, who knows what will happen—and what possible T-shirts they may spawn.

Research contact: @FastCompany

Trump allies squirm as they spin Proud Boys remarks he made at presidential debate

October 1, 2020

White House and GOP campaign aides struggled on Wednesday morning, September 30, as they attempted to clean up Donald Trump’s comments made a night earlier at the first presidential debate. Going head-to-head with Democrat Joe Biden, the POTUS declined to explicitly condemn (even at Biden’s urging) white supremacy; instead directing the far-right hate group Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” The Hill reports.

Multiple Trump surrogates faced questions about the remarks during cable news hits, where they downplayed his calls for the group to “stand by” and pointed to the president’s past denunciations of white supremacists.

“I don’t think that there’s anything to clarify,” White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah said on Fox News.

“He’s told them to stand back. This president has surged federal resources when violent crime warrants it in cities. He’s leading. He doesn’t need any sort of vigilantism,” she continued. “That’s never what we’ve called for. What we’ve called for is Democrat mayors and Democrat governors to call up the resources we’re prepared to make available.”

Pressed on if Trump missed an opportunity to condemn white supremacy, Farah noted that the president said “sure” when asked at the outset whether he would tell white supremacists to “stand down.”

“What the president’s referring to there is when we see unrest in our streets and private citizens try to defend themselves or their businesses, that’s a right that they have,” she added.

Hogan Gidley, the national press secretary for the Trump campaign, was more forceful, The Hill noted—both in his own condemnation of the Proud Boys and his interpretation of the president’s words.

“He wants them to get out of the way. He wants them to not do the things they say they want to do,” Gidley commented.”This is a reprehensible group.”

Multiple Trump allies have argued that Trump has on multiple occasions condemned white supremacist groups. The president has in fact done so, including in the aftermath of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, last year, but he has typically only denounced them after being repeatedly coaxed to do so.

On the debate stage on Tuesday night, however, Trump stopped short, The Hill said..

Moderator Chris Wallace asked if Trump was willing to condemn “white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down.”

Trump responded that he would be willing to, but when Wallace and Democratic nominee Joe Biden urged him to actually do it, the president asked for a name of a group to condemn.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said after Biden named the far-right group. “But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”

The group celebrated Trump’s comments. One social media account affiliated with the self-described “white chauvinist” organization added Trump’s comments to the Proud Boys logo.

The group’s Telegram account took Trump’s remarks as an order. “Standing down and standing by sir,” the account wrote.

A prominent Proud Boy posted on conservative Twitter-alternative Parler that “Trump basically said to go f— them up! this makes me so happy.”

“President Trump told the proud boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA… well sir! we’re ready!!” the organizer added.

Founded by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes in the midst of the 2016 election, the Proud Boys are known for their white nationalist pandering, blatant anti-Muslim rhetoric and close ties with more publicly violent extremists.

The male-only group, named after a song from the Aladdin musical, gained national prominence for its involvement in the 2016 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. It has staged multiple counter-rallies aimed at disrupting the anti-police brutality protests that have swept the country since the police killing of George Floyd in May.

According to The Hill, “Trump’s invocation of “antifa” to dodge condemning white supremacists fits into a pattern of the president trying to equivocate right- and left-wing violence. Antifa, short for anti-facist, refers to a loose collection of primarily far-left activists. FBI Director Christopher Wray in a hearing earlier this month pointed out that the term refers to an ideology, not an organization.”

Indeed, the president’s reluctance to unequivocally condemn white supremacists on the debate stage exasperated some of his allies on Wednesday.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (R) called it a “huge gaffe,” while Fox News host Brian Kilmeade lamented that Trump whiffed on “the biggest layup in the history of debates” by failing to condemn white supremacy.

GOP Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina) the lone Black Republican in the Senate, said the president should “correct” his comments.

“I think he misspoke. I think he should correct it. If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak,” Scott said.

Research contact: @thehill

How could Trump deduct $70,000 for his hair? Stylists say the answer is not ‘cut and dried’

September 30, 2020

A recent bombshell New York Times report revealed that President Donald Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017—but an almost equally “hair-raising” part of that report had to do with the price he paid for his signature bouffant ‘do .

The Times exclusive, which drops several huge bombshells—including the fact that Trump is in debt for $421 million—also reveals that he wrote off a whopping $70,000 on hairstyling expenses while he hosted of “The Apprentice.

On behalf of those Americans who have overdrawn their bank accounts shelling out $300 for highlights, on September 28, the Huffington  Post asked: How?

A request from HuffPost writer Jamie Feldman for answers from professionals on a beauty and style page on Facebook left her with some answers she expected: It’s possible but not probable; it could be due to a high day rate or medical procedure (like hair plugs); or perhaps some of that money goes toward NDAs that prevent stylists from disclosing details of their services. But the general consensus appeared to be that it would be pretty difficult to get to that number on salon services alone.

Joey Silvestera, founder of the Blackstones and Five Wits salons in New York City, said he believes there are one of two scenarios at play here, but only one seems to him to be in the realm of possibility.

When you do the math over a 12-month period, even if he went to a top stylist and colorist and went every four weeks, which most males do, it’s virtually impossible to hit those numbers,” he told HuffPost over the phone. “Unless there was some sort of medical treatment that year like hair plugs ― which still would be under $20,000 for one treatment—I don’t think it’s very likely.”

The less cutting and more logical explanation, Silvestera said, is that Trump had a hairstylist on retainer, working for a salary of $70,000.

“That’s a normal salary for a mid-level hairdresser in places like New York City or Los Angeles, where it’s high fashion and a hard cost of living,” he said. “If he has a hairdresser who follows him around for photos, appearances, to make sure his hair is OK …. It would include styling daily, haircutting, coloring, it sounds about right.”

Silvestera pointed to hairdressers he knows who work for morning news programs and make between $80,000 to $100,000. So while he said it’s easy to see how social media would twist it, the amount doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

However, if that’s not the case, Silvestera called the fees “the most expensive hair services I’ve ever heard of on the planet.”

Ashley Watts, a professional hair and makeup artist based in Raleigh, North Carolina, who also does commercial and editorial work, agreed that the amount is feasible. Her calculations, however, break it down in a slightly different way.

“On average for a political appearance, I make $500 to $1,500 for styling depending on the job, the person, the amount of time I need to be there, etc.,” she said. “But typically stylists who do this type of work are paid per day, on location, and most of us in the political world have to have high clearance to even be in the same room with politicians―something also common with celebrities.”

According to that logic, Watts said she would guess the stylist is being paid $1,000 minimum per appearance. Calculate that out weekly for a year and you get $52,000 for the stylist fee alone.

Watts also made an educated—but unfounded—guess that Trump may wear a hair piece, which could contribute to costs.

“I would assume Trump would only want the best hair piece, made from quality material billed back to the beautiful taxpayers,” she said. “A custom hand-woven lace-front piece made with real human hair would cost about $2,000. He probably had someone who maintains keeping the specimen along with any custom pieces in his wardrobe. So, for the sake of the article, let’s say it’s cleaned once a month and repaired as needed―that’s around $750 per month. So $9,000 for wig-keeping. Plus, let’s assume he has five pieces in rotation at $2,000 each. Would you look at that? $10,000.”

According to Watts’ guesses, $52,000 for styling, $9,000 for maintenance on hair pieces and $10,000 for “a couple of good custom pieces” total out to $71,000.

“As you can see, it’s pretty easy to come up with that total if he’s using freelance personnel for this type of service,” she said. “Actually, if this is what he’s paying, he’s probably getting a decent deal!”

We may never know for sure how Trump landed on a $70,000 hair write-off (in addition to reportedly written-off payments of close to $95,000 for “a favorite hair and makeup artist of Ivanka Trump”). These professional opinions are just that—opinions.

But it’s clear that Trump thinks that hair makes the man.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Is your name Orlando? Frontier Airlines wants to give you a free flight to Orlando

September 30, 2020

Low-fare carrier Frontier Airlines has joined with Visit Orlando to make it easier than ever for consumers who #LoveOrlando to visit America’s favorite vacation destination. If your first name or last name is “Orlando,” you can enter to fly for free to the Central Florida destination in October.

Specifically, people named “Orlando” are eligible to receive a $250 Frontier Airlines travel voucher for a free (up to the $250 covered by the voucher) flight to Orlando International Airport (MCO) between October 13 and October 20. Those who meet the above requirements and would like to travel during the eligible dates, must complete an entry form at this link.

The entry period begins September 29 and concludes at 11:59 p.m. (MT) on October 5. Frontier airlines will then contact entrants to confirm eligibility and provide the flight voucher.

Just how many U.S. residents are named Orlando? Between1880 and 2018, the Social Security Administration has recorded 47,501 babies born with the first name Orlando in the United States. Among the most famous are actor Orlando Bloom, comic Orlando Jones, baseball player Orlando Cabrera , wrestler Orlando Jordan, and football player Orlando Pace. That’s more than enough people named Orlando to occupy the territory of Turks and Caicos Islands (United Kingdom) with an estimated population of 44,493 (as of July 1, 2012).

And that doesn’t even count the number of Americans with the last name, Orlando. In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 12,586 people with that last name.

Additionally, now through October 5, Frontier is accepting entries for a one-of-a-kind prize package that includes a four-night hotel stay at a Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive plus activities at Andretti Indoor Karting & Games Orlando, Icon Park, and Topgolf Orlando; as well as an Enterprise rental car. Follow this link to enter.

For full prize details, sweepstakes terms and conditions and to enter to win, visit: https://experiences.wyng.com/redirect/?experience=5f6e3b1bd8fe8d00aff817a3&media=Press%20Release

“Like the hashtag says, we ‘#LoveOrlando’ and are thrilled to partner with Visit Orlando to welcome new and returning visitors to the mecca for family fun and entertainment,” said Tyri Squyres, vice president of Marketing for Frontier Airlines. “Frontier proudly offers the most nonstop routes of any airline to Orlando International Airport …. Plus, we can’t wait to welcome all the folks named ‘Orlando’ on flights to their namesake destination.”

The company notes that even during the pandemic, Orlando has debuted new ways to celebrate Halloween and seasonal food festivals with creative social distances measures—drive-thru events, virtual lines, and limited capacity—at the destination’s world-famous theme parks and attractions.

Research contact: @FlyFrontier

Revealed: Joe and Jill Biden paid nearly $300,000 in federal taxes in 2019

September 30, 2020

Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris are trolling Donald Trump by releasing their state and federal tax returns ahead of the first presidential debate. The move comes following reports by The New York Times and other media of how little Donald Trump paid to the federal government in recent years. 

According to The Independent (UK), the Biden campaign released the former vice president’s federal and Delaware tax returns from 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 online. Biden said 22 years total of tax returns would be available for the public to review. 

Additionally, Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, released their federal and California tax returns from 2019. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, reported receiving $985,233 in adjusted gross income in 2019, of which they paid nearly $300,000 in federal taxes. In 2019, Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) and her husband reported receiving just over $3M in adjusted gross income, and they owed $1,185,628 in taxes.

This starkly contrasted what President Donald Trump paid to the federal government based on a bombshell report from the Times.

According to the report, Trump failed to pay federal taxes in recent years and paid just 2016 and 2017 in $750. The president avoided paying taxes from 10 of the 15 years reviewed by the newspaper because his businesses lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, allowing him to reduce his tax burden.

The report also detailed a series of questionable expenses that Trump wrote off, including nearly $700,000 as a “consulting fee” for his daughter Ivanka Trump and $70,000 for his own hair styling.

Trump has dismissed the report as inaccurate but has declined to detail the specific errors.

The president, in stark contrast to all other past presidents, has refused to release his tax returns on his own to the American public. His campaign has claimed that he has not released his returns because they are under audit.

Research contact: @Independent

Going long: Study finds both Biden, Trump likely to be ‘super-agers’

September 29, 2020

Both 2020 presidential candidates—former Vice President Joe Biden, 77, and President Donald Trump, 74—are likely to maintain their health and cognitive functions beyond the end of the next presidential term, according to findings of a recent study published in the Journal on Active Aging, University of Illinois Chicago, Medical Xpress reports.

Indeed, longevity researcher S. Jay Olshansky and his colleagues have concluded that chronological age and fitness should not be factors in the 2020 election.

“It is our conclusion that chronological age is not a relevant factor for either candidate running for President of the United States,” the authors write. “Both candidates face a lower than average risk of experiencing significant health or cognitive functioning challenges during the next four years.”

To evaluate each candidate’s likelihood of surviving a four-year term in office, the researchers scientifically evaluated the candidates’ health status based on publicly available medical records and confirmed publicly available personal information. The medical records of each candidate were independently evaluated by three medical doctors with experience in aging and a team of research scientists with expertise in epidemiology, public health, survival analysis, and statistics.

This is the first time, Medical Xpress reports, that the medical records and personal attributes of presidential candidates have been scientifically evaluated by physicians and scientists in the field of aging.

The key findings of the study:

“We see chronological age as a topic of discussion time and again during elections, even though scientific and medical evidence tells us that biological age is far more important,” said Olshansky, professor of epidemiology and biostatics at the UIC School of Public Health.

Biological age is reflective of how rapidly a body is growing old—this occurs at different rates, Olshansky said. “Biological age is influenced by genetics and behavioral risk factors. Some people can be biologically old at age 50 while others can be biologically young at age 80.”

In prior research, Olshansky conducted the first scientific evaluation of presidential longevity; he sought to understand if being president causes an individual to age more rapidly and die sooner than expected. In that study, Olshansky concluded that most U.S. presidents actually live beyond the average life expectancy.

Research contact: @xpress_medical

Cleverhood debuts new Rover Rain Capes

September 29, 2020

As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow informed us in his 1842 poem: “Into each life some rain must fall.”  And for better or worse, we are still dealing with that reality more than 200 years later; but that doesn’t mean we have to stay home, or wear a bulky slicker, or carry an umbrella to stay dry.

In fact, a Providence, Rhode Island-based firm called Cleverhood is manufacturing outerwear for the increasing number of bikers who are hitting the streets during the COVID-19 pandemic—during good weather and bad. The rainwear is short (so it won’t get caught in spokes); available in neon-bright colors; and encourages mobility with its saucy yet chic design.

The Rover Rain Cape is a sleek and less pricey new fully waterproof  option—with a suggested retail price of $99, compared to the $249 that Cleverhood charges for its Classic Cape—with clever features and sustainable materials

Available in six colors, this seam-sealed garment features a three-way adjustable hood and a rugged YKK black zipper. Strong elastic thumb loops keep the Rover secure when biking (plus optional belt available). Reflective 3M accents provide hi-viz for dark, rainy nights. The overall effect, the company said in its September 28 news release, is coverage for your whole body when biking and a garment that looks cool when walking.

“As the coronavirus pandemic limits travel, pastime and health club options, people are walking and biking more. Cities are opening streets to pedestrians, cyclists and open-air dining. We’ve seen a 177% increase in sales, which correlates with the boom in bike sales and people’s new appreciation for their local environment, and healthy coping mechanisms,” said Susan Mocarski, founding owner of Cleverhood. “Rain or shine, it’s good to get out when the opportunity presents itself. We’ve designed the Rover Cape to extend life’s opportunities.”

Research contact: @cleverhoods

After a ‘Times’ report on Trump’s taxes, the figure $750 could stick in voters’ minds

September 29, 2020

The late hotelier Leona Helmsley famously said “Only the little people pay taxes”—a quote that is being recalled by many Americans after learning from an exclusive report by The New York Times that President Donald Trump paid only $750 in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017—and absolutely nothing for ten of the preceding 15 years.

And while most Americans will be shocked, the $750 figure may well stick in the minds of blue-collar voters who earn far less than a president, and who pay far more in federal taxes.

Indeed, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Sunday, September 27, that she had paid thousands of dollars in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017— when she was still working as a New York bartender. “He contributed less to funding our communities than waitresses & undocumented immigrants,” she wrote.

The Biden campaign on Sunday night used the report to press its case that Trump is out of touch with the working Americans he says he is fighting for. The campaign quickly put out a video showing the typical income taxes paid by an elementary school teacher, a firefighter and a nurse. Each paid thousands of dollars in taxes per year.

At a Sunday evening news conference, Trump dismissed the reporting as “totally fake news” and claimed he was never contacted about the report, despite the fact that a lawyer for the Trump Organization was quoted in the article.

The Times did not disclose just how its reporters had gotten their hands on tax return data that covers more than two decades. The president has long refused to release this information, making him the first POTUS in decades to hide basic details about his finances. His refusal has made his tax returns among the most sought-after documents in recent memory.

Among the key findings of the Times’s investigation:

It is important to remember that the returns are not an unvarnished look at Trump’s business activity. They are instead his own portrayal of his companies, compiled for the I.R.S. But they do offer the most detailed picture yet available.

But it’s inevitably a story he will face questions about in the first presidential debate on Tuesday night. And with five weeks left in the race, every day that Trump is on defense is one when he isn’t able to shift the dynamics of a race that public polls show he is currently losing.

The Times also notes, “Revelations like the fact that Trump deducted $70,000 for hairstyling expenses during “The Apprentice” also risk contributing to a sense that the president views his supporters — those who serve in the military, or pay their tax bills, or attend his rallies in the middle of a pandemic — as fools.”

To wit: The tax revelations followed a report in The Atlantic this month that said the president had privately referred to American troops killed in combat as “losers” and “suckers.”

And a former official on the coronavirus task force, Olivia Troye, has gone on the record in recent weeks to recall that the president, during a meeting she attended, said there was an upside to the virus: He would no longer have to shake hands with “disgusting” people, referring to his own supporters.

Research contact: @nytimes

Chadwick Boseman mural inspires Downtown Disney

September 28, 2020

A powerful tribute to beloved actor Chadwick Boseman, who died in late August at the age of 43, has been unveiled in California’s Downtown Disney District.

The mural, entitled “King Chad,” was created by former Disney Imagineer Nikkolas Smith and depicts Boseman, who played King T’Challa in “Black Panther,” giving a Wakanda salute to a child wearing a hospital gown and a “Black Panther” mask, ABC-TV’s Good Morning America reports..

Boseman, who succumbed to colon cancer, had famously visited with children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

“This one is special. My King Chad tribute is now on a wall on display at Downtown Disney,” Smith wrote on Instagram on September 24. “It is a full circle moment for me: My final two projects as a Disney Imagineer last summer were working on the Children’s Hospital project and the Avengers Campus.

“To millions of kids, T’Challa was a legend larger than life, and there was no one more worthy to fill those shoes than Chadwick Boseman,” Smith added, noting,. I’m so thankful to be able to honor Chadwick’s life and purpose in this way.”

Disneyland is not yet open to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Downtown Disney reopened in July, GMA reports,  with capacity restrictions.

Research contact: @GMA