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Meghan blabs: Tells friends she found royal life ‘toxic’ and ‘soul-crushing’

January 20, 2020

Life with the Windsors was simply a royal pain, as Meghan Markie is telling friends now—and it was “a matter of life or death” to escape the UK with Harry and baby Archie, The Daily Beast reported at the end of last week.

A friend told DailyMail on January 16 that Meghan felt that living within the royal confines was “soul crushing” and that she didn’t want Archie growing up within such a “toxic environment ….”

According to both newspaper reports, the Duchess of Sussex told her friends that “her soul was being crushed and that the decision to leave was a matter of life or death. Meaning the death of her spirit. She felt she couldn’t be the best mother to Archie if she wasn’t being her true, authentic self. She didn’t want Archie picking up on her stress and anxiety. She felt like it was a toxic environment for him because there was too much tension.”

The Mail also reported that staff at their Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage, are being let go from those positions and reassigned to other jobs within the royal household. Palace sources told the Mail that Meghan will never return to live in Britain in “a meaningful way.”

However, The Daily Beast said, cracks are now appearing in the couple’s delicate plans to move to Canada, amid signs that the royals might have overestimated the willingness of the Canadians to have an unemployed prince and his wife on their hands.

Indeed, The Globe and Mail, billed as Canada’s national newspaper, has spoken out against the Duke and Duchess settling in Canada if they remain tied to the Royal Family professionally. The publisher claimed Canada was not a “halfway house” for the Royals while they “work out their own personal issues”.

In an article posted online, the publisher said: “The Canadian monarchy is virtual; it neither rules nor resides. Our roys don’t live here. They reign from a distance. Close to our hearts, far from our hearths.”

What’s more, findings of a poll conducted on behalf of the nonprofit Angus Reid Institute found that a stunning 73% of respondents said they would prefer Canada not to pitch in as much as a red cent to the cost of keeping the Sussexes safe.

Michael Behiels, an emeritus professor of political and constitutional history at the University of Ottawa and fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, said the Sussexes’ decision to move could end up in the Supreme Court of Canada.

He told The Times of London: “They can visit Canada on behalf of the Queen but they can’t take on any other royal family responsibilities or live in Canada permanently or part-time. I hope that [the] Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet fully respect the nature and scope of Canada’s Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982.”

Trudeau tweeted before Christmas that Harry, Meghan, and eight-month-old Archie “were among friends, and always welcome here,” but he may live to regret the open invitation.

Research contact: @dailybeast

Yelp’s top restaurant for 2020 actually is a food truck

January 20, 2020

With more than 3 million restaurant listed on its crowd-sourced review forum, , determining the top eatery nationwide was no small chore for Yelp—but a food truck serving Middle Eastern fare has been named number one on the service’s list of “Top 100 Places to Eat in 2020,” CBS News reports.

And it’s so popular, if you’re interested in ordering, you should save a little extra time for lunch: In San Diego’s South Park, the line of customers to get to the Shawarma Guys food truck stretches around the corner.

They don’t have an exclusive address or a single Michelin star—but they do get 530 reviews and five full stars on the site. Iraqi-American chef Bryan Zeto opened up in front of his friend’s liquor store 11 months ago after he quit his job selling cell phones. His father Samer is a sous chef.

The key ingredient in their popular beef plate is wagyu beef from Australia.

“We would have regulars come three to four times a week. Some people would come twice a day,” Zeto stold CBS News. “We have been working 12 to 13 hours a day, every day for the past year. But it is fun. I love what I do now.”

Currently, he serves up to 900 plates a day. “The business quadrupled overnight. We had lines a block and a half up,” Zeto said.

But he said the best part is driving a dream, with his dad in the passenger seat.  “Anything for my kids,” Samer said. “Anything for my son to be successful.”

Research contact: @CBSNews

Ukraine announces investigation into Trump flunkies amid reports of surveillance of Yovanovitch

January 20, 2020\

Ukraine finally has announced an investigation, but it has nothing to do with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son Hunter. Rather, the small eastern European nation has opened a criminal investigation into allies of President Donald Trump, following reports that they had U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch under surveillance while she was stationed in Kyiv, the Ukrainian government said on January 16.

According to a report by The New York Times, “The move was a remarkable departure from past practice for the new government of President Volodymyr Zelensky, which has tried hard to avoid any hint of partisanship in its dealings with Washington.”

The current situation has heightened those sensitivities, with Ukraine caught in the middle of the conflict between Democrats and Republicans over the impeachment of Trump for his pressure campaign on Ukraine.

But the recent release of documents in Washington has prompted a change of course, the Times notes. On Tuesday, just before the president’s impeachment trial in the Senate was scheduled to begin, House Democrats published text messages to and from Lev Parnas —who managed the president’s campaign of coercion on the ground in Ukraine for Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer. The texts pointed directly to the surveillance of Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch.

The Internal Affairs Ministry of Ukraine said in a statement released last Thursday that “the published messages contain facts of possible violations of Ukrainian law and of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, which protect the rights of diplomats on the territory of another state.”

Ukraine “cannot ignore such illegal activities” on its territory, the statement said, adding that the national police had started criminal proceedings after analyzing the new material.

“Our goal is to investigate whether there were any violations of Ukrainian and international laws,” the ministry said in the statement. “Or maybe it was just bravado and fake conversation between two U.S. citizens.”

However, Ukrainian law and international obligations to protect the rights of diplomats serving on its territory forced the country to respond, the statement said. It called on the F.B.I. to provide all available “information and materials” related to people “who may be involved in a possible criminal offense.”

Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s interior minister, said the United States should take part in the investigation.

“Ukraine expects the United States of America to respond promptly and looks forward to cooperation,” the Interior Ministry’s statement said.

Research contact: @nytimes

Use it or lose it: Sexual activity may help delay menopause

January 17, 2020

It turns out that the old saw, “use it or lose it,” is true when it comes to copulation and procreation. Women with more active sex lives may experience menopause later in life, according to the results of a ten-year study conducted at the University College of London.

Published by Royal Society Open Science, the study found that women who reported weekly physical intimacy over a decade were about 28% less likely to experience menopause than women who reported less-than-monthly sexual activity, ABC News reported this week.

The reason may be because “ovulation requires a lot of energy, and it has also been shown to impair your immune function. From an evolutionary standpoint, if a person is not sexually active it would not be beneficial to allocate energy to such a costly process,” the study’s lead author, Megan Arnot, told the news outlet.

“Doctors have long known that there were many benefits from continued sexual activity,” Dr. Jennifer Wu, a New York-based OB/GYN who didn’t participate in the project, told ABC News. “This study highlights a new finding: Women who do not engage in regular sexual activity go through menopause at an earlier age. With the earlier onset of menopause, patients experience more loss of bone and adverse cholesterol profiles.”

The study doesn’t explain the exact connection between sex and menopause, but it illustrates a possible association. Further studies would be required to establish stronger links.

The study began with a look at approximately 3,000 women— 46%  of whom were perimenopausal, meaning they had some symptoms; and 54% were premenopausal, meaning they had no symptoms. Over the next decade, 45% of the women began menopause, at an average age of 52.

The women studied were described as having sex weekly, monthly or less than once a month. Sex was defined as intercourse, oral sex, touching or caressing, or self-stimulation.

“It’s the first time a study has shown a link between frequency of sex and onset of menopause,” Arnot added. “We don’t want to offer behavioral advice at this point at all. These results are an initial indication that menopause timing may be adaptive in response to the likelihood of becoming pregnant. More research will need to be done in the future.”

Research contact: @ABC

Spotify offers to generate a playlist that your dog will love

January 17, 2020

Some romantics fondly remember making mixed tapes and CDs for their objects of affection in days gone by. But for the furry, four-legged kind?

If hand-curating a playlist that you and your pup can agree on seems like a daunting task, streaming digital music and podcast service Spotify thinks it’s up for the job, Fast Company reports.

The Stockholm, Sweden-based music service—which currently operates out of 16 nations worldwide—released Pet Playlists on January 16. The company says the project considers both “your listening habits and your pet’s attributes” to generate playlists “you both can enjoy.”

And ass you might have guessed— no, there’s not a ton of research out there to back any of this up.

However, some studies have suggested that that Fido might prefer a few musical genres over others, Fast Company notes. Indeed,  recent research conducted by the University of Glasgow and the Scottish SPCA has found that dogs chill out while listening to reggae and soft rock. Classical music also “appears particularly beneficial” for dogs, while heavy metal seemed to encourage them to bark.

While Spotify acknowledges that “music for pets isn’t an exact science,” the Pet Playlists tool considers whether your dog is relaxed or energetic, shy or friendly, curious or apathetic. The company says it consulted with cellist and musicologist David Teie, who’s built a business selling music to cat owners, to shape “how the algorithm was programmed.”

Privacy-conscious pets may be reassured by Spotify’s promise to only use the information you share about your pet to make your playlist. According to Spotify’s FAQ, “the information is not stored and is not used for any other purpose.”

Spotify’s new tool also caters to birds and hamsters. Have a different kind of companion animal? The company encourages you to try it anyway:”You may find your rabbit really likes hamster music!”

Spotify: @FastCompany

Parnas: Trump gave the orders on Ukraine; Giuliani, Pence, and Barr were ‘on the team’

January 17, 2020

The White House reeled as more damning evidence on the Ukraine plot emerged this week, even as the House voted to release its two articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Lev Parnas—the indicted associate of the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who has been implicated in an alleged attempt to coerce Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky—told Rachel Maddow of MSNBC in an exclusive and explosive interview aired on January 15, “… Trump knew exactly what was going on.”

“He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president. I have no intent, I have no reason to speak to any of these officials,” Parnas revealed.

“I mean, they have no reason to speak to me. Why would President Zelenskiy’s inner circle or Minister Avakov or all these people or President Poroshenko meet with me? Who am I? They were told to meet with me. And that’s the secret that they’re trying to keep. I was on the ground doing their work,” Parnas said.

Zelenskiy was elected president in April, defeating incumbent Petro Poroshenko. Arsen Avakov is Ukraine’s interior minister, NBC News reported.

On Tuesday, the network said, House Democrats released records as part of the evidence that attorneys for Parnas turned over to House impeachment investigators, which show that Giuliani requested a private meeting with Zelenskiy, then the president-elect, with Trump’s “knowledge and consent.”

The evidence appears to bolster Democrats’ argument that Giuliani was doing Trump’s bidding by trying to dig up dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee.

In response to Parnas’ interview, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Thursday morning, “These allegations are being made by a man who is currently out on bail for federal crimes and is desperate to reduce his exposure to prison.”

“The facts haven’t changed — the president did nothing wrong and this impeachment, which was manufactured and carried out by the Democrats has been a sham from the start,” Grisham said.

In a statement to “The Rachel Maddow Show” while the program was airing, Giuliani denied that he told Ukrainian officials that Parnas spoke on behalf of Trump.

“Never,” Giuliani responded when asked whether Parnas was speaking for Trump.

Asked whether he believed Parnas was lying, Giuliani said, “All I can say is the truth.” Giuliani said of Parnas, “He’s a very sad situation.”

The president, himself, continued to stick to the same script, tweeting, “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer just said, “The American people want a fair trial in the Senate.” True, but why didn’t Nervous Nancy and Corrupt politician Adam “Shifty” Schiff give us a fair trial in the House. It was the most lopsided & unfair basement hearing in the history of Congress!”

The impeachment articles against Trump center on an alleged campaign by Trump to pressure Zelenskiy to announce investigations into Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma in 2014 until he left last year.

“Yeah, it was all about Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and also Rudy had a personal thing with the Manafort stuff. The black ledger,” Parnas told Maddow.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, is serving a 7½-year prison sentence for tax evasion and violating federal lobbying laws after having been charged

Parnas also told the MSNBC anchor that Vice President Mike Pence’s planned trip to attend Zelenskiy’s inauguration in May was canceled because the Ukrainians did not agree to the demand for an investigation of the Bidens. “Oh, I know 100% . It was 100%,” he said.

Asked whether Pence was aware of a “quid pro quo” around the visit, Parnas replied by quoting Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who said during the House impeachment inquiry: “Everybody was in the loop.”

Maddow said her show asked for comment from Pence and had not received a response.

Parnas said Attorney General William Barr was also likely aware of what was going on. Parnas said that he never spoke with Barr but that “I was involved with lots of conversations” that Giuliani and another person had with Barr in front of him.

“Mr. Barr had to have known everything. I mean, it’s impossible,” Parnas told Maddow. “Attorney General Barr was basically on the team.”

Asked about Trump’s denial that he knows him, Parnas said, “He lied.”

Parnas said he wants to testify in the Senate impeachment trial. “I want to get the truth out,” he said, “because I feel it’s important for our country.”

The impeachment trial has been scheduled to start on January 21.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Release the clutch: Prolonged handshakes can trigger anxiety

January 16, 2020

When somebody has got you in his clutches, it’s usually not a good feeling, the Irish Examiner reports. In fact, based findings of a study conducted at the University of Dundee’s School of Social Sciences in Scotland, handshakes that are held for longer than three seconds can trigger anxiety, negatively impact business meetings, and affect the state of relationships.

There were two parts to the study. First, the 36 participants were interviewed about their work and career prospects. Then, they were introduced to a second researcher, who would either shake their hands in a “normal” fashion (for less than three seconds), in a “prolonged” way (for longer than three seconds)—or not at all.

The participants were unaware of the significance of the handshake throughout the study period, with their subsequent reactions analyzed.

Dr. Emese Nagy, a reader in Psychology who led the study, told the Examiner that the findings highlight the importance of introducing ourselves appropriately. She noted, “Handshakes are a particularly important greeting and can have long-lasting consequences for the relationships that we form.

“There has been evidence,” she said, “to suggest that many behaviors, such as hugs, fall within a window of approximately three seconds and this study has confirmed that handshakes that occur [within] this time frame feel more natural to those who participate in the greeting.

Nagy notes, “While shaking hands for longer may appear to be a warm gesture on the surface, we found that they negatively affected the behavior of the recipient, even after the handshake was finished.

“Politicians are particularly keen on prolonged handshakes, which are often used an expression of warmth but also as a means of demonstrating authority. However, our findings suggest that while doing so might look impressive for the cameras, this behavior could potentially jeopardize the quality of their working and personal relationships from the beginning, which could have repercussions for millions of people.”

The team found that participants showed less interactional enjoyment after the longer handshake—laughing less and showing increased anxiety. Handshakes lasting less than three seconds resulted in less subsequent smiling, but did feel more natural to those who participated.

No behavioral changes were associated with the no-handshake control experiment.

Research contact: @irishexaminer

NutriDrip to offer aging and hangover IV infusions at Wynn Hotels and Equinox

January 16, 2020

At Clean Market, New Yorkers have a wide menu of healthy offerings to choose from, such as “superfood smoothies” and bowls. Also available à la carte: vitamins delivered intravenously at the NutriDrip bar, CNBC reports.

They are not cheap, but the 30-minute IV infusions—administered by medical professionals—are growing in popularity.

And lately, CNBC says, they’ve been attracting new business partners, too, from the Wynn Hotel, which plans to start offering NutriDrip in Las Vegas early this year; to fitness and lifestyle company Equinox. Indeed, Equinox executives Jeffrey Weinhaus and Harvey Spevak were early investors in NutriDrip.

NutriDrip sells 15 vitamin infusions. The classic Nutribody drip aims to support fat loss with a combination of l-carnitine, taurine, vitamin C, and B complex, among others.

There also are popular hangover remedies—Basic Recover, Super Recovery, and Mega Recovery— which range in price from $119 to $199, depending on how much you’re hurting from the night before.

What’s more, the Nutriyouth drip claims the ability to “help stop cellular aging in its tracks” with a mixture of anti-aging enzymes, molecules and vitamins for $599.

Founded five years ago, NutriDrip is looking to expand in 2020 with a Series A funding round in the first half of this year. Executives declined to say how much money they’re looking to raise.

“Over the last three years, IV nutrient therapy, specifically NutriDrip, has grown, at like a 60% to 80% year-over-year growth rate, even while opening new stores,” co-founder Asa Kitfield told the cable business news channel. “So we’re really excited to see what sort of saturation the market can see on like a local and national basis.”

“As many of our guests now expect a more holistic set of wellness options, we have evolved to include broader wellness themes related to functional wellness, physical fitness, and healthy cuisine,” a Wynn Hotel spokesperson told CNBC; adding “providing IV therapy is one more way to help our guests maintain personal wellness routines while they are traveling.”

Celebrities, including Madonna, Rihanna and Simon Cowell, are reportedly fans of IV vitamin treatments, but it’s drawn some controversy.

“Anytime you poke a hole in somebody’s vein, there is some risk that they’ll bleed excessively. There’s also some risk that they will clot excessively,” Dr. David Katz, founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center told CNBC. “So the risks are not great. And the risks are not very common, but there are risks, and the only way to justify any risk in medicine is by a greater likely benefit.”

The doctor said there is “minimal evidence that there is any meaningful benefit for most people.”

On the other hand, Kitfield said NutriDrip doesn’t make grand promises about its treatments—but the company and customers clearly believe in its benefits.

“When you look at our business, where 50% to 60% of our revenue comes from regulars, and that’s why we continue to grow, the proof is kind of in the pudding,”Kitfield said.

According to the Global Wellness Institute—a nonprofit that tracks the $4.5 trillion industry—while IV therapy and alternative medicine is a small portion of the overall spending, it’s among the fastest-growing sectors.

Research contact: @CNBC

Pelosi names impeachment managers before House votes to send articles to Senate

January 16, 2020

Under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the House voted across party lines on January 15 to send two articles of impeachment to the Senate—and tapped seven managers for the trial in the upper house, ending weeks of speculation over just who would lead the effort to remove President Donald Trump from office, The Hill reported.

named to prosecute the case. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California), will take the helm. He commented in a formal statement, “I am humbled by the responsibility of serving as the lead House Manager in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump, and thank Speaker Pelosi for the trust she has placed in me and our team. It is a solemn responsibility and one that I will undertake with the seriousness that the task requires.

Representative Jerry Nadler (D-New York), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee also was selected for a high-profile role. He, too commented-directly, addressing the management of the trial: “Our Speaker has led our fight for a fair trial in the Senate. Above all, a fair trial must include additional documents and relevant witnesses. The American people have common sense. They know that any trial that does not allow witnesses is not a trial. It is a cover-up.”

Among the other Democratic House members chosen were Hakeem Jeffries (New York.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus; Val Demings (Florida), a member of both the Judiciary and Intelligence panels; and Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), a senior member of the Judiciary panel and the only member of Congress to have participated in both the Nixon and Clinton impeachments.

More unexpected were the final two picks —Representatives. Sylvia Garcia (Texas), and Jason Crow (Colorado), The Hill said. Both are freshmen, and Crow—a former Army Ranger—does not sit on any of the six committees with jurisdiction over impeachment.

In making the announcement, Pelosi touted the legal bona fides of her picks, saying their experience before entering Congress was an outsize factor in her decision-making.

The announcement came comes just hours before the House voted to send the two articles of impeachment to the Senate. Passed by the House on December 18, the articles accuse Trump of abusing his power in his dealings with Ukraine; then, obstructing Congress as Democrats sought to investigate the episode.

Aside from transmitting the articles and naming the impeachment managers, the resolution provides funding for the impeachment process.

Research contact: @thehill

Yusaku Maezawa ‘promises the moon’ for love

January 15, 2020

Japanese fashion billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is looking for that “special someone” to join him as he becomes the first private passenger to fly to the moon, Sky News reports.

Maezawa, 44, is due to travel to the moon in 2023 on SpaceX’s first tourist flight. But rather than go on his own, he wants to “visit such a special place” with someone who also is special.

Since he recently split from actress girlfriend Ayame Goriki, 27, Maezawa is looking for a “life partner” with whom he wants to “shout our love from outer space

His preference is for a woman who is “always positive,” age “20 or over,” and wants to “enjoy life to the fullest,” says the news outlet. She must be “interested in going into space and able to participate in the preparation for it.”

On his website, he explains that all applications for the date-slash-moon voyage should be entered online by January 17. Selection will be conducted on January 26 and 26; and matchmaking dates will be scheduled in February. By mid-March, candidates will be narrowed down for “special dates getting to know Yusaku Maezawa,” and he plans to make his final choice by the end of that month.

Maezawa, who made his money from fashion retailer Zozo, according to the Sky News report, is believed to have a net worth of US$1.8 billion.

In his online post, he says that “until now” he has “lived exactly as I’ve wanted to”, acquiring his “share of money, social status, and fame along the way”.He has “a passion for collecting contemporary art, Japanese antiques, supercars, wine etc.”

Research contact: @SkyNews