Neutrogena recalls Light Therapy Acne Masks, due to risk of eye injuries

July 22, 2019

Many consumers have “seen the light” when it comes to over-the counter acne LED-light therapy masks—and that’s not necessarily a good thing. In fact, earlier this month, Neutrogena issued a recall of its masks, according to The New York Times;  citing a “theoretical risk of eye injury” to a subset of users who have underlying eye conditions or are taking medicine that makes them sensitive to light.

The Times reported that Neutrogena said in a statement that its July 5 recall followed “reports of mild, transient visual adverse events, combined with a growing scientific discussion around the safety of blue light.”

A spokesperson told the news outlet that the “adverse events” had been caused by the Neutrogena masks; although she did not specify how many such events had taken place. She also said that no particular study or expert had informed the company’s decision to recall the masks.

But that is not the only brand that uses visible blue and red lights to treat facial acne. And it may not be the only mask that is causing problems—problems which the Australian Department of Health recently said could cause retinal damage or impair peripheral vision after repeated therapy with the lights.

Among the most popular among these devices are the Lacomri 7 Color LED Light Therapy Acne Mask, Convinsimo Light Therapy Acne Face Treatment, Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask, and Pulsaderm Acne Clearing Mask.

They all use the same treatment technology, explains the American Academy of Dermatology.

And that also may mean that they might share another problem: Such devices kill facial bacteria that could turn into pimples; they are not effective against existing blackhead, whiteheads, acne cysts, or nodules, the academy explains.

Indeed, says the academy, “Most people see clearing, but not 100%”—and “results vary from person to person.”

News of the recalls in the United States and in Australia was for the most part missed by consumers . A spokesperson for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told the Times that the agency was “aware of the recall” and was looking into it.

The mask was released by Neutrogena in October 2016. Actress Lena Dunham endorsed it on Instagram and said her post was not an advertisement. The product was awarded Best of Beauty in 2017 by Allure magazine..)

Dr. Rachel Nazarian, with Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, told the news outlet that only recently had concerns about blue light cropped up, and that they mostly referred to people who had baseline medical conditions that caused their retinas to be more sensitive to light.

But she said that Neutrogena’s mask did not offer enough eye protection. While she planned to continue to use LED treatments in her own practice, she said she used much stronger eyewear than was provided by the company.

“It shouldn’t be used in such a cavalier form,” Dr. Nazarian said. “If you’re using the right eyewear protection, you should be fine.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Russian roulette: FaceApp has gone viral, but is it a new case of Russkie (and risky) skullduggery?

July 19, 2019

Maybe cheese and wine get better with age, but people? Not so much. The human face and body tend to sag, wrinkle, and discolor as the years go on—no matter how good the bone structure.

So why is everyone on social media so excited about a new smartphone app that allows users to upload selfies and see their future faces, replete with jowls and graying hair?

Celebrities such as Drake, LeBron James, and the Jonas Brothers all have used the instant aging app, much to fans’ delight.

In fact, according to a report by The Washington Post, FaceApp has altered photos for more than 80 million users since its 2017 release; and allows smartphone users to change a facial photo’s age, gender, or hairstyle—often with convincing results. The app uses artificial-intelligence software to automatically alter the photos in seconds, much like similar features offered by Instagram and Snapchat.

But there is one major catch, we are just finding out: On July 17, the  Democratic National Committee warned presidential campaigns against using the viral face-transforming FaceApp, citing the software’s Russian developers. It urged campaign staff to “delete the app immediately.”

 “This novelty is not without risk: FaceApp was developed by Russians,” DNC Security Chief Bob Lord wrote in the alert to campaigns, which was first reported by CNN. “It’s not clear at this point what the privacy risks are, but what is clear is that the benefits of avoiding the app outweigh the risks.

Founder and CEO Yaroslav Goncharov told The Washington Post that FaceApp’s research-and-development team is based in Russia but that no user data is transferred into the country, and “most images” are deleted from company servers within 48 hours.

However, the app’s terms of service say users grant the company a “perpetual, irrevocable . . . [and] worldwide” license to use a user’s photos, name or likeness in practically any way it sees fit, the Post points out.

If a user deletes content from the app, FaceApp can still store and use it, the terms say. FaceApp also says it can’t guarantee that users’ data or information is secure and that the company can share user information with other companies and third-party advertisers, which aren’t disclosed in the privacy terms.

Goncharov said that users who want to remove their data from FaceApp can make the request through the app by clicking “Settings,” then “Support,” then “Report a bug” with “privacy” in the subject line. “Our support team is currently overloaded, but these requests have our priority,” a company statement read.

FaceApp’s terms of service say it can share information with a government agency if a subpoena, court order or search warrant is issued and the company has “a good faith belief that the law requires” it to do so. This information can also be shared with any country that FaceApp maintains facilities in, including Russia.

According to the Post, people who use the app also “consent to the processing, transfer and storage of information about you in and to the United States and other countries, where you may not have the same rights and protections as you do under local law.”

Kate O’Neill, a tech consultant, told the news outlet that FaceApp’s privacy terms are still murky, despite the company’s clarification. “People should be savvy about when apps and memes and games are encouraging everyone to engage in the same way,” she said. “It puts the data in a vulnerable state that becomes something that can train facial recognition and other kinds of systems that may not be intended the way people are using it.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

UCLA Health signs on to MORE Health’s global second-opinion telemedicine network

July 18, 2019

Why should a patient who doesn’t live near a major medical center lack access to the very best second opinion on a critical, life-threatening illness?

Now MORE Health—a global digital healthcare company with headquarters in both China and the United States—is providing patients, literally from Beijing to Boston, with access to the best physicians in a variety of medical specialties via its cloud-based telemedicine network, the Physician Collaboration Platform.

The process brings together a MORE Health Physician Specialist with the patient’s attending doctor—wherever he or she may be worldwide—to provide an expert medical second opinion and a carefully researched and developed treatment plan.

Already, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City; the George Washington Medical Faculty Associates in Washington, D.C.; the University of Chicago Medicine; the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio; the Boston Children’s’ Hospital, and the Beijing Henghe Hospital have signed on for the program.

And this week, UCLA Health has joined the increasingly prestigious alliance. “UCLA Health has a history of high-quality health care that produces exceptional outcomes. Our incredible faculty from the David Geffen School of Medicine enable us to treat the most complex health care needs,” says Michael Burke, executive director of UCLA Health International Services, in a press release. “We are proud to provide health care services to patients around the world. Our partnership with MORE Health will expand our existing second opinion program and allow us to serve our patients in a more flexible way, from the comfort of their home[s].”

UCLA Health includes four hospitals on two campuses— Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center; UCLA Medical Center-Santa Monica; Mattel Children’s Hospital-UCLA; and Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA—and more than 170 primary care and specialty clinics throughout Southern California. UCLA Health ranks number-one in Los Angeles, number-two in California and number 7 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s 2018-19 Best Hospitals survey.

“We are pleased to partner with this comprehensive health care institute to provide the best care possible to our patients,” said Hope Lewis, MORE Health’s co-founder and CEO, “UCLA Health offers a welcoming and nurturing environment with best-in-class treatment.”

Since 2013, MORE Health has helped thousands of patients around the world access care in the US. Through this partnership with UCLA Health, patients are able to access even more of the world’s most preeminent doctors and specialists.

Research contact: @morehealth

A ‘Green Book’ for the digital age

July 17, 2019

If you saw the 2018 movie, Green Book, you know that lodging was hard to come by in the 1960s, if your skin was the “wrong” color.

While the story has been fictionalized, the situation was true: The film is about a black concert pianist who took a driving tour of America’s South—and was forced to rely on The Negro Motorist Green Book, an annual guide prepared by Victor H. Green that listed safe places to stay nationwide during a time of racial segregation.

Unfortunately, that unspoken taboo still exists in many places today.

But now, CBS News reports, Evita Turquoise Robinson has created a “Green Book” for the digital age called the Nomadness Travel Tribe.

Robinson produced the new “travel lifestyle brand and community” from the recommendations of a 22,000-strong fellowship of black travelers—who share resources and experiences from around the globe in order to increase diversity in the travel industry.

“My focus from the beginning to end is always community. It started with a need for people—a need to be accepted,” she told CBS News. ”

“Nomadness was started eight years ago. We were really at the forefront of this entire movement and we are making a real dent in the travel industry,” she said, noting that the African-American community spends about $60 billion annually on travel.

Indeed, she describes Nomadness as “the ultimate resource” for people of color who want to feel safe abroad. It can be used, she says, “if you are going to Tulum, Mexico, and you want to know where to eat, where to stay, where as a person and traveler of color are you most comfortable and accepted.”

Put more simply, “We are a travel family, we look out for one another in a myriad of ways,” Robinson said.

Research contact: @nomadnesstribe

New Hallmark card lines celebrate Chinese, Indian, African-American, and Latino cultures

July 16, 2019

Greetings and salutations that convey an emotional connection don’t just come in one language, according to Hallmark , which on July 15 launched card lines celebrating the Chinese, Indian, African-American and Latino cultures.

Hallmark’s four newest collections—Eight Bamboo, Golden Thread, Uplifted, and Love Ya Mucho—are now available where Hallmark cards are sold.

According to a release from the Kansas City, Missouri-based company, Eight Bamboo and Golden Thread reflect the beauty and symbolism of Chinese and Indian cultures, respectively, honoring celebrations and holidays such as Lunar New Year and Diwali; as well as culturally significant moments such as Baby’s 100th day and 1st birthday.

Uplifted is a new collection within the Hallmark Mahogany division—celebrating the beauty of black womanhood and female empowerment in ways that are unique to black culture.

Indeed, Hallmark says, “Uplifted‘s bold designs and fierce editorial shine light on a resilient past, an empowered present and a radiant future.”

Love Ya Mucho is a new collection within Hallmark Vida, the company says—featuring casual and contemporary designs mixed with positive, conversational and simply stated messages with relevance to Latinos. The collection offers English cards with Spanish words and/or design elements that hold strong cultural meaning, ideal for those who flow seamlessly between English and Spanish, or who speak predominantly English but connect deeply with their Latin

“Hallmark has always been about helping people share what’s in their hearts with those they love, and our mission includes all people. We want to continue to help people connect with each other in the ways that are most meaningful and relevant to them,” said Lindsey Roy, chief marketing officer–Hallmark Greetings.

Research contact: @Hallmark

Gatorade launches BOLT24, a ‘functional beverage’ that fuels athletic performance

July 15, 2019

Gatorade is adding to its signature line of sports drinks for the first time in 20 years. The new drink, called BOLT24, is targeted at refreshing and rehydrating athletes—with a no-sugar, high electrolyte, better-for-you beverage formula, Forbes reports.

Fitting squarely in what the beverage industry identifies as the “functional drink category,” BOLT24 is said to contain only 80 calories; and 100% of the daily value of antioxidant vitamins A and C; as well as vitamins B3, B5, and B6. Notably, the product contains no artificial sweeteners or flavors. It delivers electrolytes from watermelon and sea salt.

BOLT24 is described as “the first product in a new platform for the brand,” suggesting that Gatorade intends to produce other, perhaps similar products. The launch this week coincided with the ESPY Awards, one of the biggest nights in sports. It will appear on store shelves across the country, as well as on Amazon, later this summer.

The official statement released by Gatorade’s PR agency reads: “With this launch, Gatorade’s commitment to fueling athletic performance goes beyond the field, supporting athletes’ athletic lifestyle around the clock by providing advanced, all-day hydration.”

According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the global “functional beverage” category— which includes energy drinks, sports drinks, nutraceutical drinks, dairy alternative-based beverages, fortified juices, and enhanced water—is expected to grow 8.66% in the next five years, topping $208.13 billion by 2024.

The three launch flavors are  Mixed Berry, Tropical Mango, and Watermelon Strawberry. Suggested retail price is $2.19 for each 16.9 ounce bottle.

Research contact: @Forbes

Left-leaning big tech is likely target of White House Social Media Summit

July 12, 2019

Ears must have been “ringing” at Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Twitter on July 11—since the big tech companies, likely, dominated the discourse at the Social Media Summit at the White House scheduled for that date.

While the big four were not invited to the confab, The Wall Street Journal reported that the event would offer a platform for supporters of the Trump administration, who claim they face censorship from the left-tilting social media companies—as well as a preview of a likely theme in the president’s re-election campaign.

Attendees include the Claremont Institute think tank; the right-wing media company PragerU; and the Media Research Center, a nonprofit “media watchdog” committed to “neutralizing left wing bias.” Also expected to attend are more familiar Washington conservatives, including the Heritage Foundation, the news outlet said.

The companies declined to comment on the event, but have said in the past that they seek to police harmful or fake content without regard to politics.

“It’s all about 2020,” Paul Gallant, managing director of Cowen Washington Research Group for Technology, Media & Telecom,  told the Journal. He sees it as a stage for the president to tell “the base that the media and Internet companies are against us” as well as “pressuring Facebook, Twitter, and Google to tilt content in Trump’s direction.”

The event grew out of complaints the White House has received about bias online, a spokesman said.

“Earlier this year the White House launched a tool to allow Americans, regardless of their political views, to share how they have been affected by bias online,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere. “After receiving thousands of responses, the President wants to engage directly with these digital leaders in a discussion on the power of social media.”

In May, the White House briefly opened an official website for the public to share information about “action against your account” by social-media platforms. Last month it described Thursday’s event as “a robust conversation on the opportunities and challenges of today’s online environment.”

Charlie Kirk, who leads the student group Turning Point USA, said in an interview with the financial news outlet that alleged bias by social-media companies resonates with the president’s supporters, calling it “one of the top, if not the top issue with people [who] I interact with on social media.”

Bill Mitchell, chief executive of YourVoice  made his first official White House visit at the event. Like others invitees, he told the Journal that he has seen anecdotal evidence that his pro-Trump videos and tweets should be reaching a larger audience. “We just want a level playing field so that everybody can have free speech,” he said.

But despite their enthusiasm for the cause,  neither the attendees nor the president will be able to effectively muzzle the big tech companies, experts think.

Trump “can’t do much” to change the way social-media platforms operate, said Sam McGowan, an analyst at Beacon Policy Advisers, a research firm based in Washington, D.C. “What he can do is hold these sorts of summits. …That in itself is a way to rally Trump’s base.”

The limited ability of President Trump to change the way social-media works was reinforced Monday when a federal appeals court ruled that his practice of blocking some users on Twitter violates the free-speech protections of the First Amendment.

Short of tangible action, calls to rein in tech firms could be a political winner on the campaign trail. In a March Wall Street Journal/NBC survey of 1,000 American adults, 54% said they weren’t satisfied with federal government regulation and oversight of social-media companies, compared with 36% who were satisfied and 10% who weren’t sure.

Research contact: ryan.tracy@wsj.com

NY Times: 28 women were recruited to ‘party’ with just Trump and Epstein in 1992 at Mar-a-Lago Club

July 11, 2019

Before Donald Trump purchased Mar-a-Lago in 1985—and converted the 20-acre property in Palm Beach into a posh, private club that opened in 1995—he held a very hush-hush, exclusive party at the estate in 1992, according to a July 9 report by The New York Times.

The event was attended by just Trump and his then-friend New York financier Jeffrey Epstein—as well as 28 beautiful women, flown in just for the occasion.

Florida businessman George Houraney told the Times that he was the one who fulfilled Trump’s request for a “calendar girl competition.”

“I arranged to have some contestants fly in,” Houraney told the Times in an interview. “At the very first party, I said, ‘Who’s coming tonight? I have 28 girls coming.’ It was him and Epstein.”

Houraney, who previously had partnered with Trump to host events at his casinos, said he was surprised. “I said, ‘Donald, this is supposed to be a party with V.I.P.s. You’re telling me it’s you and Epstein?’”

The businessman recalls, “I said, ‘Look, Donald, I know Jeff really well, I can’t have him going after younger girls.’ ”

Houraney told Trump that he had “pretty much had to ban Jeff from my events” but said “Trump didn’t care about that.” 

What happened at that party can only be the subject of conjecture; however, since then, Epstein has been registered as a sex offender; has spent some nights in jail in Florida after cutting a deal with then-U.S. Attorney (and now Secretary of Labor) Alex Acosta; and has this past weekend been indicted on sex trafficking charges by the Southern District of New York.

While the Times said that Trump had not responded to a request for comment earlier this week, the president talked to the media from his desk in the Oval Office—distancing himself Epstein. Back in the 1990s, the president said that he “knew [Epstein] like everybody in Palm Beach knew him.”

But Trump added: “I had a falling out with him. I haven’t spoken to him in 15 years. I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you.”

However, the Times pointed out, while the president has dismissed the relationship, Epstein has played it up since the election—claiming that he was the one who introduced Trump to his third wife, Melania.

Since the indictment , the news outlet reported, decades’ worth of rich and powerful friends of Epstein—including former President Bill Clinton—“have been running for the hills.”

Former President Bill Clinton released a statement on his relationship with the disgraced financier.

Epstein has been accused of trafficking dozens, maybe hundreds, of young teenage girls over the years—sending them across state lines for sex with him and his clients. His main accuser says she was 14 and wearing braces at the time she was approached by Epstein.

Research contact: @nytimes

Astros ace Justin Verlander says MLB is juicing baseballs; turning game ‘into a joke’

July 10, 2019

First, there was “Deflate-gate,” in January 2015, when New England Patriots quarterberback Tom Brady was accused of asking aides to under-inflate footballs during the team’s win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game. A deflated ball could be easier to grip in bad weather, such as in the heavy rain at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on the game day in question.

Now, Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander has blamed Major League Baseball’s uptick in home runs on baseballs that have supposedly been “juiced,” according to a July 9 report by Fox News.

Verlander made the claim during an interview with ESPN. He surmised that baseballs have been “juiced” or altered because they are manufactured by an MLB-owned company.

“It’s a f—ing joke. Major League Baseball’s turning this game into a joke. They own [baseball gear manufacturer] Rawlings, and you’ve got [MLB Commissioner Rob] Manfred up here saying it might be the way they center the pill. They own the f—ing company,” Verlander said.

“We all know what happened,” he added, noting, “ Manfred, the first time he came in, what’d he say? He said ‘we want more offense.’ All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It’s not coincidence. We’re not idiots.”

But, Fox pointed out, as reported by Deadspin, a spike in home runs has been observed for at least two years—and MLB purchased Rawlings last summer.

Recent changes in baseballs have made the the pitches more aerodynamic—so they produce less drag in flight but are not necessarily “juiced” to increase home runs as Verlander has claimed, the report said.

MLB did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Research contact: @FoxNews

‘Family Business’ on Netflix is a French-Jewish version of ‘Breaking Bad’

July 9, 2019

For those of us who have been mourning for Walter White—and the entire Breaking Bad ensemble—since the series went off the air in 2013 (has it been six years already?), Netflix is now filling the gaping void in our viewing schedules with an imported knockoff series.

Excited? You should be.

The French series, which debuted in late June, is called Family Business—and it’s about a down-on-his-luck Jewish entrepreneur , Joseph Hazan, and his family; who race to turn their kosher butcher shop into a marijuana café after they learn the drug is going to be legalized.

And while, Haaretz reports, it lacks the macabre violence of Breaking Bad, the two shows do share a reliance on witty dialogue and strong acting.

Boasting a solid 7.3 score on IMDB, the series has wide appeal likely in large part to how it mixes race and family relations with fart jokes and surrealist scenes. (One features the Hazans narrowly avoiding arrest by telling police that the weed-stuffed dead pig in their kosher meat truck has been genetically engineered to receive rabbinical approval.)

In one scene, in which the Hazans find themselves serving food to an entire police precinct inside their illegal growth lab, the family dishes out typically Eastern European foods alongside North African mloukhiya stew.

 In another, Joseph’s father, Gerard, asks his mother-in-law to cook kishke— or as he calls it “that awful stink of a dish —to camouflage the scent of budding marijuana plants from the cops working next door.

The family’s trademark product—the parallel of Walter White’s blue ice in AMC’s  Breaking Bad—is called “pastraweed,” a mashup of pastrami and weed.

Yiddish phrases like “bubbeleh” pepper the dialogue, along with North African Jewish slang like “ya rab” and “miskin.”

Between the lines, the show’s creator, Igor Gotesman, also used the family biography to build a sort of microcosm of French Jewry—from the liberal elements represented in Joseph’s lesbian sister, Aure, to the conservative ones, represented by Gerard.

For those who are looking for a kooky, summer crime caper, this could be for you. One drawback: If you don’t speak French, you’ll be reading lots of captions.

Research contact: @Haaretz