Posts tagged with "Salon"

Business is booming for psychics during the pandemic

September 3, 2020

With a high-stakes presidential election; a life-threatening viral outbreak; a nationwide social uprising, widespread unemployment; and wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods to worry about, Americans are looking for answers. And if they cannot get any reassurance from the usual sources, a psychic or astrologer simply will have to do.

Since the quarantine began shutting down large swaths of the economy, astrologers, spiritual guides, tarot card readers and psychics have seen an uptick in business, Salon reports.

According to Google search trends, entries for “psychic” jumped to a one-year high during the week of March 8—just when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began issuing some guidance on COVID-19.

Likewise, business review and aggregator site Yelp published an Economic Impact Report that noted that its “Supernatural Readings” business category was up 140%.

Leslie Hale has been offering astrology readings since the late 1990s. She joined Keen.com, an online “spiritual advisor network” in 2001, and told Salon that currently her business is up about 30%. (Likewise, Keen.com told Salon they are experiencing a vast increase in traffic as of late.) Hale said usually she had 10 to 15 calls a day, but during the pandemic it’s been anywhere between 20 and 30.

“There has never been a time like this,” Hale told Salon of her 21-year astrologer career. “I think everybody wants to know if their life is going to go on, and if there’s anything in the future they have to look forward to.”

It makes sense that average people are seeking clarity in uncertain times. New Age spiritual practices have become increasingly popular over the last several years, in part due to its endorsement from the wellness industry and decline in religious affiliation among younger Americans. According to Pew Research data from 2018, an estimated 6 out of 10 American adults accept at least one “New Age belief,”

While in the past, spiritualism meant looking for connection with the dead, today it is more about seeking assurance. Alicia Butler, a 38-year-old freelance writer, usually turns to tarot card readings for comfort. She told Salon during the pandemic they’ve been especially helpful.

“It’s definitely a source of comfort right now,” Butler, who is quarantining with her parents, told Salon. “If things don’t reopen and we don’t have a vaccine or something, am I going to just be 13 again and living with my parents, and not growing emotionally or professionally ever again?”

“I mean, it’s basically somebody telling you that everything’s gonna be okay,” Butler added.

Nathalie Theodore, JD, LCSW, a psychotherapist in Chicago, told Salon it makes sense that some would turn to psychics or tarot card readers during this time.

“Uncertainty is something that many of us struggle with and, for some, it can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety,” Theodore said. “Fear of the unknown can send us into a downward spiral of negative thinking and imagining worst case scenarios.”

Theodore added that one of the hardest parts of this pandemic is not knowing how long it will last or what our lives will look like once it ends.

Hale, the psychic, said the number one question she gets from clients is when they will find a romantic partner.

“The biggest concern of most of the people who call me is still their relationship,” Hale said. “People want to know, ‘when I am going to be able to go out and meet someone special again?'”

She believes that inquiry is tied to loneliness.

“During this time of social isolation, I think people are lonely . . . . of course we have technology but that’s not the same thing as sitting across the table from someone,” Hale said.

Research contact: @Salon

Trump campaign aide paid $20,000 a month by Bannon’s shifty We Build the Wall organization

September 2, 2020

Senior Trump campaign official Jason Miller appears to have been paid about $20,000 a month for work done for We Build the Wall, the supposed nonprofit organization co-founded by former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, according to public court filings obtained by Salon.

Bannon was arrested along with three others—and charged with defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors who contributed to the fundraising campaign for the “ private border wall”—the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced on August 20, according to a report by The Hill.

The We Built the Wall nonprofit — now reportedly under investigation in connection with the federal charges against Bannonstarted paying Miller the same month that Bannon’s associates learned they were under federal investigation, court documents and public reports show.

The Trump campaign has not disclosed any payments to Miller since news of his hiring broke in June, Salon notes—nor has the campaign disclosed any salary payments to campaign manager Bill Stepien, according to mandatory federal filings. Publicly available court documents obtained by Salon together with Federal Election Commission (FEC) records suggest that the campaign is paying Miller $35,000 a month, apparently through non-public indirect transactions.

Although prosecutors do not explicitly name Bannon’s nonprofit in the indictment, the document describes “Non-Profit-1” as predating the crowdfunding campaign and being dedicated to promoting “economic nationalism and American sovereignty.” This would appear to describe the Bannon-founded nonprofit called Citizens of the American Republic (COAR), which first filed a tax return in 2017. Its website says the group “seeks to advance the ideals of Economic Nationalism and American Sovereignty.”

Miller co-hosted a podcast with Bannon for COAR, reportedly beginning in October 2019.

In an August 23 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Miller told host Chuck Todd that although he had worked for COAR, he had not been interviewed by government investigators. “I have not, and from public reports it looks like this investigation was going long before the podcast even started, the podcast and the radio show that I co-hosted with Steve,” Miller said.

While the exact timeline of the federal investigation is not a matter of public record, the Florida Agriculture Commissioner reportedly opened a probe into We Build the Wall in May 2019, but had not been contacted by SDNY investigators despite referring elements of the case to the FBI.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have charged Bannon, along with co-defendants Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, with running a multimillion-dollar fraud and money laundering scheme, in which they secretly siphoned millions of dollars in payments from their We Build the Wall crowdfunding campaign through a shell company as well as an unnamed nonprofit.

The group disguised the allegedly unlawful transactions with fake invoices to hide their own personal takes, according to the indictment.

Bannon denies the charges.

Research contact: @Salon

Republicans send North Carolina voters mail-in ballot materials featuring photo of Trump’s face

August 20, 2020

A number of voters in North Carolina  recently received brochures encouraging them to fill out mail-in ballot requests—and the brochures featured a large photograph of President Donald Trump’s face, Salon reports.

“ARE YOU GOING TO LET THE DEMOCRATS SILENCE YOU?” the mailer, sent by North Carolina Trump Victory, the joint field operation of Trump’s re-election team and the Republican National Committee, asks in large block font. “ACT NOW TO STAND WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP.”

The brochure goes on to request “immediate action” to “ensure your right to securely vote Absentee.” Next to a picture of a smiling Trump, the mailer says: “Stand with President Trump. Request your absentee ballot today.”

The president and a number of his Republican allies have routinely pushed the falsehood that voting by mail invites rampant fraud—although Trump, himself, has voted by mail a number of times.

CNN’Ana Cabrera reported last Wednesday, August 12, that the Palm Beach County elections board had delivered Trump and first lady Melania Trump mail-in ballots to Mar-a-Lago (which they had then filled out and returned).

Trump vowed in an on-air interview the next day that he would block crucial U.S. Postal Service (USPS) funding, citing concerns about universal mail-in voting. “They need that money in order to have the Post Office work, so it can take all of these millions of ballots,” he told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on Thursday, August 13. “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting. Because they’re not equipped.”

On his Twitter account, however, President Trump encouraged the use of mail-in ballots in Florida in a post on August 4, saying, “Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida, the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True. Florida’s Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot * Vote by Mail!”

:Chandler Carranza, of Gaston County, North Carolina, told CNN that was the reason he laughed when he received the campaign mailer last Thursday.

“The irony is very thick and definitely not lost on me,” Carranza said. “Trump has been saying mail-in ballots will bring fraud to the election, but absentee ballots are legit. Which is it? It can’t be both ways. I laughed because if the campaign actually took information from other times they have reached out to me, they’d know I won’t vote for Trump despite being a registered Republican.”

Research contact: @Salon

The spirits are willing: Business is up 140% for psychics during the pandemic

June 1, 2020

With a pandemic, a lockdown, painful personal losses, a spiraling economy, fewer jobs, stress on relationships, and literally nowhere to go, who can blame Americans for wanting to know what will happen in the “foreseeable future”?

Since the beginning of March, astrologers, spiritual guides, tarot card readers, and psychics have seen an uptick in business, Salon reports.

. According to Google search trends, Google searches for “psychic” jumped to a one-year high during the week of March 8—when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began issuing some guidance on COVID-19.

Business review and aggregator site Yelp posted an Economic Impact Report that noted that its “Supernatural Readings” business category was up 140%, as more Americans turned to tarot card readers, mediums and psychics.

Leslie Hale has been offering astrology readings since the late 1990s. She joined Keen.com, an online “spiritual advisor network” in 2001, and told Salon that currently her business is up about 30%. (Likewise, Keen.com told Salon they are experiencing a vast increase in traffic as of late.) Hale said usually she had from ten to 15 calls a day, but during the pandemic it’s been anywhere between 20 and 30. She charges $3.53 a minute.

“There has never been a time like this,” Hale told Salon of her 21-year astrologer career. “I think everybody wants to know if their life is going to go on, and if there’s anything in the future they have to look forward to.”

It makes sense that average people are seeking clarity in uncertain times.. According to Pew Research data from 2018, an estimated 60% of  American adults accept at least one “New Age belief,” a list that includes psychics.

While in the past, spiritualism meant looking for connection with the dead, today it is more about seeking assurance. Alicia Butler, a 38-year-old freelance writer, usually turns to tarot card readings for comfort. She told Salon during the pandemic they’ve been especially helpful.

“It’s definitely a source of comfort right now,” Butler, who is quarantining with her parents, told Salon. “If things don’t reopen and we don’t have a vaccine or something, am I going to just be 13 again and living with my parents, and not growing emotionally or professionally ever again?”

“I mean, it’s basically somebody telling you that everything’s gonna be okay,” Butler added.

Nathalie Theodore, JD, LCSW, a psychotherapist in Chicago, told Salon it makes sense that some would turn to psychics or tarot card readers during this time.

“Uncertainty is something that many of us struggle with and, for some, it can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety,” Theodore said. “Fear of the unknown can send us into a downward spiral of negative thinking and imagining worst case scenarios.”

Theodore added that one of the hardest parts of this pandemic is not knowing how long it will last or what our lives will look like once it ends.

Hale, the psychic, said the number one question she gets from clients is when they will find a romantic partner.

“The biggest concern of most of the people who call me is still their relationship,” Hale said. “People want to know, ‘when I am going to be able to go out and meet someone special again?'”

She believes that inquiry is tied to loneliness.

“During this time of social isolation, I think people are lonely . . . . of course we have technology but that’s not the same thing as sitting across the table from someone,” Hale said.

Sara Kohl, who does “remote viewing” for Keen.com, said many people are wondering about their job security, too. “I’ve had a lot of my clients get furloughed,” Kohl said. “And so they’re calling… wondering if they’re going to be going back to work, and when.”

Fortuitously, Kohl is one of those rare people who is unconcerned about job security right now.  “It’s been the busiest I’ve ever seen,” she said. “People are calling in droves.”

Research contact: @Salon

Yale psychiatrist: Pelosi ‘has the right’ to submit Trump to an ‘involuntary evaluation’

December 31, 2019

Ya think? Bandy X. Lee, a professor of Forensic Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine who also serves as president of the World Mental Health Coalition, is again sounding the alarm about President Donald Trump’s mental health—and warning that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not doing enough to respond to the danger it poses, Salon reports.

Lee actually began warning about the dangers posed by the president’s mental health before his election. She then edited the book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President and convened a conference on the president’s mental health at Yale shortly after the president’s inauguration.

In addition, she recently joined psychiatrists across the country in calling for the House Judiciary Committee to convene a panel of mental health experts to weigh in on the ongoing impeachment proceedings.

Worried by the tone and content of President Trump’s tweets, Lee  has gone so far as to “translate” some of them on her own Twitter feed, which she described to Salon as a “public service.” Lee said she wants her “translations” to help readers see past Trump’s efforts to muddle reality with his “negative influence.”

She recently “translated” Trump’s scorching six-page letter to Pelosi  in a Medium post.— noting that the president had accused the speaker of trying to “steal the election” ahead of the House vote to impeach him.

Arguing that the letter effectively served as a “confession,” Lee said that Trump’s letter was an example of the president projecting his own motives onto Pelosi. But Lee warned that Pelosi has not done enough to respond to the president.

“As a coworker, she has the right to have him submit to an involuntary evaluation, but she has not,” Lee told Salon. “Anyone can call 911 to report someone who seems dangerous, and family members are the most typical ones to do so. But so can coworkers, and even passersby on the street. The law dictates who can determine right to treatment, or civil commitment, and in all 50 U.S. states this includes a psychiatrist.

While Lee told Salon that Pelosi’s strategy of withholding the articles of impeachment from the Senate has been effective, she also warned that the delay risks making Trump even more dangerous.

“I am beginning to believe that a mental health hold, which we have tried to avoid, will become inevitable,” Lee said.

Among the most troubling symptoms? “First, Lee told Salon, he is highly unwell, which I am glad many finally seem to see now. More specifically, you can tell how unwell he is by the degree he cannot deviate from his defenses: mainly, denial and projection. We often say he is “doubling down.” A truly sick person will be unable to show any tolerance of ambiguity, doubt or flexibility in thinking. The letter, like his lengthy interviews or his chronic tweeting over years, is unable to show any variation from the characteristic rigidity of pathology.

She noted, “Some people will dispute the ethics of disclosing what I see, and my response is: danger. We are legally bound to break patient confidentiality for safety reasons, and a president is not even a patient.”

Research contact: @Salon

The unkindest cut: Why some people hate hair salons

February 5, 2019

A friend told me recently that she hates going to the hairdresser. She is an introvert and doesn’t feel comfortable engaging in the small talk required; nor does she appreciate the aggressively hands-on, eye-to-eye aspects of the encounter.

What’s more, she has been insulted twice by stylists: Once, a hairdresser stage-whispered to the professional working at the next chair, “Finally, she’s growing those bangs out!”  Another time, a stylist picked up a lock of hair at the side of her head and reproved her loudly enough for everyone in the salon to hear, saying, “Do you see how your hair is thinning in this area?”

“How was I supposed to respond to those remarks, except by feeling shamed and even a little bit guilty?” she asked me.

She did not return to those stylists—or to their salons. But, clearly, what was supposed to be a relaxing, treat-yourself experience had turned into a distressing, even mortifying, time on the hot seat.

And certainly, she’s not the only one who enters a salon with timidity, unsure how the next session will go.

An article posted on the website Mic addressed this issue, noting that there are several major reasons why both women and men might avoid the hair parlor or the barbershop—among them:.

  • Being forced to answer invasive questions: When it comes to women’s hair, a drastic cut may be interpreted as the result of a dramatic life change. But how we wear our hair and why we wear it that way is no one’s business but our own. “When I got my hair cut short the first time, I got so many questions about [whether] I was getting it cut for “any reason” (this never happened before). Like what do you expect me to say?” a reader told Mic, noting that the questions seemed intrusive and she didn’t want to answer them.
  • When your stylist is straight-up rude: The comments that are made when a customer presents his or her body to a professional, even if it’s just for a haircut, can be borderline offensive. Molly, a 27-year-old who suffers from  eczema flare-ups, told Mic, “When I was in middle school I had a hairdresser point out my dry and itchy scalp each time I saw her. She rudely addressed it, when, clearly, I knew I had a bad scalp from eczema.”. Molly always felt worse leaving the salon than she did before the appointment—no matter how her hair looked. 
  • When you’re not sure where to look: At nail salons, which also required intimacy—with the strangers who are cutting and polishing your nails (or even cleaning your feet)—the same issues can crop up. A reader told Mic she hates it, “When you see that your nail artist is trying to make conversation and you really don’t feel like socializing; so you force yourself to watch the crappy video that they are playing in the corner of the room.” 
  • When there’s uncomfortable touching: “Massages while I’m getting my hair washed—or after my nails are done—just freak me out,” said another. “It’s too much intimacy.”
  •  When you just can’t think of a single thing to say: One reader described the situation as, “When you and the stylist have nothing to talk about, so it feels like Christmas dinner with an aunt you never met.” 

Many of these problems are exacerbated by social anxiety. “Social anxiety is fraught with people being afraid of being judged,” clinical psychologist Barbara Greenberg of Katonah, New York, told Mic“Another really common and overpowering characteristic is that they become avoidant. So I would think in many cases, people would avoid doing things to enhance their appearance, like getting their hair colored or getting their nails done, because they would be afraid of being judged.”

And then there is the person on the other side of the equation—the stylist who is socially awkward, himself or herself. “I love regular clients, that I like, but if I get somebody new, sometimes I can tell they don’t want to talk; and that’s fine with me because most of the times I don’t feel like talking, but I will,” Kat, a New York City hairstylist, told the news outlet.

“Sometimes people ask me questions about myself that makes me anxious. Things that aren’t related to hair at all, but like ‘Where are you from?’ or ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ and it feels like I’m being interviewed. I don’t want to talk about myself,” Kat said.

 Then there are the oversharers: “Once, a fairly regular male client told me a story about how he got gonorrhea from the same girl three separate times!”

So, fixes? You can opt to switch stylists, as Molly did, after her negative experience discussing her exzema.

You also can seek out the now-coveted “quiet chair,” a feature of a U.K. salon that went viral recently. (A salon in Philadelphia has followed suit.)

Finally, to avoid salons altogether, contact Glam Squad ,a service that brings the stylist straight to your home or apartment, so you can stay home and get your hair done in your sweats.

Research contact: @mic

Fishy business: Bogus seafood is everywhere, even in port cities

January 29, 2019

Is your seafood retailer telling—and selling you on—a “fish story”? In New York City according to State Attorney General Letitia James, if you are buying lemon sole, red snapper, or wild salmon, it is likely that’s not what you’re taking home.

Late last month the James’ office issued a report  asserting that 43%t of the time, when premium-priced fish (fetching between $19 and $29 per pound) — like grouper, cod, halibut, striped bass, and white tuna —is purchased, inferior varieties farmed in foreign countries with very little or no regulatory oversight are substituted without the buyer’s knowledge.

“I’m very happy to see law enforcement getting involved says,” Larry Olmsted, author of “Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It,”  recently told Salon.

“Mislabeling is rampant in the seafood industry, and if you can’t reliably get the fish you want in a port city like New York, just imagine what levels of fraud are like further inland,” Olmstead said to Salon, adding, “This business has had a fraud problem for years and years—and the only people tracking it have been public interests groups,”

In the investigation leading up to the release of the new report . samples from 155 seafood retailers were purchased and tested. Farmed salmon samples were purposely mislabeled as “wild” 27% of the time. Sixty-seven percent of red snapper fillets were mislabeled; and virtually every piece of fish labeled as lemon sole (87%) was something entirely different and cheaper.

Across the board, substitutes were cheaper, less desirable, and less environmentally sustainable species. This, while the U.S. per capita consumption of seafood for 2017 has increased to 16 pounds from 14.9 pounds in 2016.

“For white-fleshed fish, supermarkets and grocery stores that are jerking their customers around usually sub-in Asian catfish varieties called swai, panga and basa,” Robert DeMasco, owner of Pierless Fish in Brooklyn, a seafood wholesaler with a client list including many of the country’s most celebrated restaurants, told Salon. .

These catfish varieties don’t even rate compared to the more well-known durable darling of American aquaculture, tilapia. “There’s no way of knowing how swai and the others are raised, what kind of antibiotics are used on them— though, you can bet whatever it is, there’s a ton of it being used. There’s no way of knowing what they get fed,” DeMasco told the news outlet.

“In Asia—Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam mostly—there’s very little regulation and you know what’s crazy? Ninety percent of the fish Americans eat is coming from foreign countries,” DeMasco revealed.

Compare that to the 18% of the total supply of vegetables that are imported, and the less than 30% of total beef eaten each year that is imported, and the challenge ahead for well-regulated domestic fishermen begins to take shape.

“For the most part, the fish Americans eat is already filleted,” says author Olmsted. “The majority of it is already prepared and served in restaurants and we all know that means battered and fried, so there’s not a lot of opportunity for consumer education and that’s what it is going to take to cut down on fish fraud.

“This is the same thing that happened with the organic movement,” Olmstead told Salon. “It can be done, it will just take time and the kind of oversight that’s being signaled from New York.”

“In the fish business there are words that sell fish. ‘Snapper’ is one of those words. Another word is ‘grouper.’ It is really hard to sell a fish that is not called snapper or grouper, so of course they’re the most ripped-off fish in the store, but people just aren’t interested in lieu de mer, or even pollack, really. Turbot? That’s a nice fish,” says Demasco. “Very hard to sell.”

On menus people like descriptions. I think it’s the romance, the story in their head,” DeMasco continues. “‘Line-caught’ this, ‘day boat’ that.’ ‘Diver scallops’ is a big one. People love a diver in a wetsuit getting their scallop for them. There are some, sure. I know a lot of the guys. But how many menus in this city, this country have a ‘diver scallop’ on it? There aren’t that many divers. No. Scallops are dredged. ‘Dredged?’ Dredged is not a sexy word.”

One of the solutions is to know where your fish is coming from. “I’m a big fan of some of the branding efforts that are going on in aquaculture, it makes it easier to identify and patronize the good guys,” says Olmsted, adding, “There are good American outfits farming salmon, even shrimp. People want this stuff and companies know it.”

Research contact: @mannyhoward

Easy come, easy go: Trump seeks new chief of staff

December 11, 2018

Nick Ayers, who currently serves as chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence, has turned down the opportunity to do the same job for President Donald following John Kelley’s departs at the end of the year, Salon reported on December 10.

Had he accepted the position, Ayers would have been the third chief of staff to serve the POTUS in the Trump administration—following Reince Priebus (January 20, 2017-July 31, 2017) and John Kelly (July 31, 2017-present).

Ayers, who has worked for Pence since July 2017—and previously served as national chairman for the vice presidential campaign in 2016—is known as a savvy political strategist with many contacts on the Hill. Before his close association with the vice president, the 36-year-old power player—named in 2010 as one of TIME magazine’s most influential people in politics under the age of 40—was executive director of the Republican Governors Association from 2007 to 2010.

“Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House. I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause. #Georgia,” Ayers tweeted late on December 9

According to the Salon report, Trump himself alluded to the possibility that Ayers might not accept the job later the same evening, tweeting that “I am in the process of interviewing some really great people for the position of White House Chief of Staff. Fake News has been saying with certainty it was Nick Ayers, a spectacular person who will always be with our #MAGA agenda. I will be making a decision soon!”

It is noteworthy, the news outlet said, that almost seven years ago, the president criticized President Barack Obama for running through three chiefs of staff in less than three years — Rahm Emanuel, Pete Rouse (who served as interim), Bill Daley and finally Jack Lew, who left at the end of Obama’s first term.

“3 Chief of Staffs in less than 3 years of being President: Part of the reason why @Barack Obama can’t manage to pass his agenda,” Trump tweeted at the time. Yet once Kelly departs and is replaced, Trump will have a similar record for his own chiefs of staff.

Nevertheless, Ayers seems to be leaving the White House on good terms, with Pence tweeting on Sunday that “@nick_ayers has done an outstanding job as my Chief of Staff and I will always be grateful for his friendship, dedication to the @VP team and his efforts to advance the @POTUS agenda. Thank you Nick! Karen and I wish you, Jamie and the kids every blessing in the years ahead.”

Now that the president has been left in the lurch, several new candidates reportedly are under discussion—including Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney; Representative Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina), the chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus; and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Research contact: @MatthewRozsa