Posts tagged with "The Guardian"

Trump tells former aides to defy subpoenas from January 6 House panel

October 11, 2021

Former President Donald Trump has instructed his former aides not to comply with subpoenas from the special congressional committee investigating the Capitol riot—raising the prospect of the panel issuing criminal referrals for some of his closest advisers as early as Friday, October 8, The New York Times reports.

In a letter reviewed by the Times. Trump’s lawyer asked that witnesses not provide testimony or documents related to their “official” duties, and instead to invoke any immunities they might have “to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

The House committee has ordered four former Trump administration officials — Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; Dan Scavino Jr., a deputy chief of staff; Stephen K. Bannon, an adviser; and Kash Patel, a Pentagon chief of staff — to sit for depositions and furnish documents and other materials relevant to its investigation. They all faced a Thursday, October 7, deadline to respond.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi—and the chairman of the select committee—has threatened criminal referrals for witnesses who do not comply with the subpoenas, and said the panel expected witnesses “to cooperate fully with our probe.”

The move amounted to a declaration of war by Trump on the investigation, and raised legal questions about how far the committee could go in compelling information from a former president and his advisers, the Times said.

The committee is demanding that Meadows and Patel submit to questioning on Thursday, October 14; and Bannon and Scavino, the following day.

While President Biden already has said that extending Trump’s “executive privilege” is unlikely, it remains unclear whether his Administration will see fit to offer the privilege to those who have been subpoenaed.

The Justice Department and the White House already have waived executive privilege for a previous batch of witnesses who were asked to testify before the Senate Judiciary and House Oversight committees, which were investigating both the January 6 attack and the Trump Administration’s efforts to subvert the results of the presidential election. The Justice Department argued that privilege was conferred to protect the institution of the presidency—not to provide immunity for wrongdoing.

Taylor Budowich, a spokesperson for Trump, said that the records request by the select committee was “outrageously broad” and that it lacked “both legal precedent and legislative merit.

The instructions from Trump were reported earlier by The Guardian.

Research contact: @nytimes

Like falling off a log? Viral milk crate challenge on TikTok is denounced by orthopedists

August 26, 2021

The latest challenge to take the Internet by storm involves precariously stacked milk crates, balance—and some painful falls, The Guardian reports.

To complete the challenge, which recently started on TikTok, participants face a set of milk crates piled up in the shape of a pyramid—and attempt to climb to the top and then back down again without toppling over.

As videos of people falling painfully go viral on social media and rack up millions of views, doctors across the US are coming out to warn people of the dangerous injuries that can occur.

“It’s perhaps even worse than falling from a ladder,” Shawn Anthony, an orthopedic surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City told The Washington Post this week, adding, “It’s very difficult to brace yourself from the falls I’ve seen in these videos. They’re putting their joints at an even higher risk for injury.”

With many hospitals nationwide already overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients and running short on space and staff, health departments are urging people to reconsider their choices before taking on the challenge.

George Gantsoudes, a Virginia-based orthopedic surgeon, wrote on Twitter: “The orthopaedic surgeries required to fix problems caused by this may fall under the umbrella of ‘elective surgeries’.”

On Monday, the Baltimore city health department tweeted: “With COVID-19 hospitalizations rising around the country, please check with your local hospital to see if they have a bed available for you, before attempting the #milkcratechallenge.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also weighed in on the challenge after comedian Conan O’Brien  joked about how he needed federal officials to grant permission to the challenge before attempting it—playing off the FDA’s approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine earlier this week.

“Waiting for FDA approval before I take the Milk Crate Challenge,” O’Brien tweeted on Monday. The FDA responded shortly after, writing: “Although we regulate milk, we can’t recommend you try that. Perhaps enjoy a nice glass of 2% and return all those crates to the grocery store?”

The milk crate challenge is the latest of a slew of dares that have gone viral on TikTok. In recent months, the video-sharing platform has seen a rise of dangerous challenge—among them, the blackout challenge, which encouraged young people to hold their breath until they passed out, and the Benadryl challenge, which challenged young people to intentionally consume large amounts of the antihistamine to induce hallucinations.

In a statement about the most recent challenge, a TikTok spokesperson said: “TikTok prohibits content that promotes or glorifies dangerous acts, and we remove videos and redirect searches to our community guidelines to discourage such content. We encourage everyone to exercise caution in their behavior whether online or offline.”

Research contact: @guardian

Philip Morris International CEO advocates to ban cigarettes, stop selling Marlboros in UK market

July 27, 2021

Jacek Olczak, the CEO of Philip Morris International—which makes and markets the top-selling brand of cigarettes, Marlboro, outside the United States—says his company will stop selling cigarettes in the United Kingdom within a decade.

Olczak told The Mail on Sunday that the move was part of the company’s goal to become smoke-free and to help end the use of traditional cigarettes, Business Insider reports.

Olczak also called on the UK government to outlaw cigarettes within a decade, comparing them to gas-powered cars, which are set to be barred from being sold in the country starting in 2030, according to The Telegraph.

“We can see the world without cigarettes,” he said. “And actually, the sooner it happens, the better it is for everyone. With the right regulation and information it can happen ten years from now in some countries. And you can solve the problem once and forever.”

Philip Morris International is separate from Philip Morris USA, which makes Marlboro cigarettes in the United States and is a division of the American tobacco corporation Altria. It split from Philip Morris USA in 2008 and recently announced plans to transform into a smoke-free company, as well as its intention to buy the British pharmaceutical company Vectura Group, which makes asthma inhalers.

Anti-smoking groups in the UK criticized that sale, accusing tobacco companies of trying to position themselves as anti-smoking while still selling tobacco products, according to The Guardian.

Smoking kills more than 8 million people a year, according to the World Health Organization.

Research contact: @BusinessInsider

L-shaped suction-and-swallow drinking straw device cures 92% of hiccups attacks, scientists say

June 22, 2021

From holding your breath, to breathing into a paper bag, there seem to be a plethora of  cures for hiccups—none of which works 100% of the time. Now scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio say they have found a better solution—a drinking straw device, The Guardian reports.

But what exactly are these strange (and sometimes loud) noises that most of us make—much to our own embarrassment and the amusement of others?

When you get hiccups—or singultus as they are known in medicine –the diaphragm and intercostal muscles suddenly contract. The subsequent abrupt intake of air causes the opening between the vocal folds—known as the glottis— to shut, resulting the socially dreaded “hic” sound.

However, now researchers think they have found a device that will cut hiccups short in over 90% of cases—and do it quickly, according to The Guardian.

Called “the forced inspiratory suction and swallow tool” (FISST), and patented as HiccAway, the $14 plastic device is a rigid L-shaped straw that has a mouthpiece at one end and an adjustable cap with a pressure valve, in the form of a small hole, at the other. Hiccuping people place the device into a glass of water and use it to sip.

The idea is that the enhanced suction required to draw water up through the device requires the phrenic nerve to trigger a contraction of the diaphragm, while the subsequent swallow involves activation of the vagus nerve, among others. As these two nerves are responsible for the hiccups in the first place, the researchers say keeping them busy stops them from causing the unwanted phenomenon.

 “It works instantly and the effect stays for several hours,” Dr Ali Seifi, associate professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and a co-author of the study, said.

To evaluate the device. the team analyzed responses from 249 volunteers— more than two-thirds of whom said they had hiccups at least once a month.

Published in the journal JAMA Network Open, the results reveal that the device stopped hiccups in almost 92% of cases. Just over 90% of participants said they found it more convenient than other home remedies, while 183 of 203 participants said it gave better results. The authors say the results held across all demographics, hiccup frequencies and hiccup durations.

However the study has limitations, including that it did not include a control group and was based on self-reported results.

Dr. Rhys Thomas, a consultant neurologist and epilepsy neuroscientist at Newcastle University, who was not involved in the study, said the device was likely to work and was COVID-safe as it did not require input from others.

But he added: “I think this is a solution to a problem that nobody has been asking for,” noting there were other effective and low-cost options, including his own favourite approach of plugging both ears tightly, while drinking a glass of water through a normal straw.

“Anything that allows you to inflate your chest and swallow will work–the key down the back, the ‘boo!’ and the fingers in the ears will do that to a certain degree – and then this [device], if it allows you to have a long, slow swallow, will be a pretty potent way of doing that,” said Thomas, adding another approach was to drink from a glass backwards.

“If you are prepared for the fact you’ll end up wearing some of it, that is my second favorite option,” he said.

Research contact: @guardian

Battle of the bulge: Kate Winslet says she refused offer to edit sex scene showing ‘bulgy belly’

June 3, 2021

Actress Kate Winslet has said she refused a director’s offer to edit a sex scene in which she showed a “bulgy bit of belly” for her latest television series, Mare of Easttown, The Guardian reports.

The actor claims that director Craig Zobel offered to show her body “in a more flattering light.” Winslet, who plays detective and grandmother Mare Sheehan in the HBO limited series, said she refused and told Zobel: “Don’t you dare.”

She also said she twice sent back the promotional poster for the drama because she felt it had been altered too much.

“I’m like: ‘Guys, I know how many lines I have by the side of my eye, please put them all back,’” Winslet, 45, told The New York Times.

“I said to my husband [Edward Abel Smith]: ‘Am I OK with that? Is it all right that I’m playing a middle-aged woman who is a grandmother who does really make a habit of having one-night stands?’ He’s like: ‘Kate, it’s great.’”

The actor added: “Listen, I hope that in playing Mare as a middle-aged woman – I will be 46 in October – I guess that’s why people have connected with this character in the way that they have done because there are clearly no filters.

“She’s a fully functioning, flawed woman with a body and a face that moves in a way that is synonymous with her age and her life and where she comes from. I think we’re starved of that a bit.”

Winslet said, however, that she may not be “comfortable” with doing another nude scene.  “It’s not even really an age thing, actually,” she said. “There comes a point where people are going to go: ‘Oh, here she goes again.’”

In an interview with The Guardian in February, Winslet said she had been forced to respond to derogatory comments about her weight from a young age.

“In my 20s, people would talk about my weight a lot. And I would be called to comment on my physical self. Well, then I got this label of being ballsy and outspoken. No, I was just defending myself.”

The actor said she had revisited some newspaper articles written about her in the late 1990s from when she was 19 “and it was almost laughable how shocking, how critical, how straight-up cruel tabloid journalists were to me”.

In January, Keira Knightley said she would no longer agree to shoot intimate scenes if the film was directed by a man.

The actor, who credited the “male gaze” and her own personal vanity with the decision, said: “If I was making a story that was about that journey of motherhood and body acceptance, I feel like, I’m sorry, but that would have to be with a female film-maker.

“I don’t have an absolute ban, but I kind of do with men.”

Research contact: @guardian

The big squeeze: Welcome to the pelvic floor revolution

May 10, 2021

If you want to know about the wonders of a healthy pelvic floor, you could do worse than look to Coco Berlin, who styles herself “Germany’s most famous belly dancer,” writes Emine Saner of The Guardian.

 Berlin started belly dancing in 2002, but it wasn’t until a few years later, when she went to Egypt to study dancers there, that she wondered why they were so much better. She concluded that they were seriously in touch with their pelvic floors—the internal muscular structures that supports the internal organs and prevent incontinence, among other important functions.

“When I connected to my pelvic floor, for the first time in my life, I had this feeling of embodiment,” Berlin recently told Saner in an interview for The Guardian.

It improved her dancing—before, she says, it had felt “like mimicry” – but also affected the rest of her life. She felt more confident, “I had the feeling that I own my body”. Her enjoyment of sex was greatly improved, and she felt stronger and less stressed. She thinks it is a prime reason why people assume she is much younger than she is (she’s 42 and, speaking over Zoom from her home in Germany, Saner says she looks like a woman in her 20s).

Berlin is about to release the English translation of her book Pussy Yoga, which shares her boundless enthusiasm for pelvic floor health. “Normally, the pelvic floor is only something that you get in touch with when you’re pregnant, incontinent, or have other issues,” she says. “It was such a fringe topic.”

But not anymore. Berlin’s book comes just as we are seeing an increase in the number of features in women’s health magazines about pelvic floor exercises (also known as kegels), apps (Britain’s NHS recommends Squeezy, which sets exercise plans and sends reminders), and devices that train you from the inside.

Indeed, the  Elvie Trainer— an internal trainer launched in 2015 that enables users to monitor their exercise achievements via smartphone—has been ranked 41st among Europe’s 1,000 fastest-growing companies by The Financial Times.

There are podcasts, such as Why Mums Don’t Jump, which are aimed at ending the stigma around vaginal prolapse and incontinence; and other issues with pelvic floor dysfunction.

Nobody in the world of pelvic floor health would say the increased awareness is a bad thing—up to 33% of women will experience a pelvic floor problem—but numerous surveys show many women have no idea what it is or its purpose. One survey of 1,000 women found one in six didn’t know where it was, and a quarter didn’t know what it did.

 “It’s a part of the body people haven’t been given nearly enough information about for years,” says Amanda Savage, a pelvic health physiotherapist. “The wonderful thing about pelvic health is there are a lot of things you can do that will improve the situation, through natural methods: exercise, diet, knowing how to help your bowel empty, knowing how the bladder fills and empties. There’s a lot one can do to help oneself. It’s a shame when people haven’t found out about those things they could be doing, and they are like, ‘Why did nobody tell me this ten years ago?’”

But could this become yet another body part women are supposed to be anxious about? With our outsides under more scrutiny than ever, do we need to start worrying about the insides too? “I think it’s everything in moderation,” Suzanne Hagen, professor of Health Services Research at Glasgow Caledonian University, who researches pelvic floor disorders, recently told The Guardian.

Research contact: @guardian

Hawaiian shirts are returning—but ‘people want to think twice,’ says expert

April 13, 2021

The return of the Hawaiian shirt has been celebrated in the style press, as celebrities—among them, Bill Murray, Rihanna, and Sophie Turner—have been sporting them recently, The Guardian reports.

But according to Zara Anishanslin, a fellow at the Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, people should think twice before wearing the traditional islander garments.

“They are the fashion equivalent of a plantation wedding,” Anishanslin told The Guardian, adding,  “They could be seen as fashionable embodiments of the history of American colonization, imperialism and racism against Hawaii’s indigenous inhabitants. People might want to think twice about whether the look is worth the weight of its associative past.”

What’s more, Hawaiian shirts have also been co-opted by the “Boogaloo” movement—white supremacists who advocate war against the federal government.

Initially made from leftover cloth intended for kimonos, the shirts were popularized by American veterans of the second world war. Soon Japanese motifs were replaced by Hawaiian ones and a cultural touchstone was born.

About five years ago, Hawaiian shirts became part of the “dadcore” trend. Then the “Boogaloo” movement chose to combine them with camouflage trousers, body armor and weapons.

“It might not be an aesthetically pleasing combination but it’s a smart one, in terms of picking out your fellow members of the group in the crowd,” Anishanslin said.

Last year, Reece Jones of the University of Hawaii wrote about how the brightly colored shirts came to represent something much darker.

“I know this seems like a joke and easy to dismiss,” he wrote, “but that is part of [the Boogaloo Bois’] strategy, to lure in young men and downplay what they are talking about. It is deadly serious. These men are preparing for a civil war.”

Anishanslin thinks the fashion industry needs to think about how such shirts have been co-opted.

“I do think fashion houses and individual designers and sellers should speak out about people using fashion for politics that encourage violence or racism,” she said.

Anishanslin also believes celebrities such as Cara Delevigne and Justin Bieber who have recently worn Hawaiian shirts have a chance to help to reclaim them.

“Why not design Hawaiian shirts that use anti-gun, anti-racist, pro-peace iconography and slogans?” she said. “Why not, perhaps importantly, hire indigenous designers to create them?”

Research contact: @guardian

Return of the ‘dad-bod’: Survey finds 75% prefer a softer male body type

March 30, 2021

Do most women prefer a man with muscles, or one with a few “soft spots”—including one for them?

Some 75% of respondents to a survey conducted by Dating.com said that they preferred the soft and round male body type to a more toned torso, The Guardian reports.

The term “dad bod” was first popularized in the mid-2010’s to harshly critique the beach bodies of actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Chris Pratt , as well as  non-traditional Hollywood shapes of actors such as Jason Segel and Seth Rogan. The term never quite fell out of favor: Last year Zac Efron was body shamed online for lacking a “cut” physique.

The Dating.com survey—conducted among 2,000 respondents—found that 20% of participants claimed that bod shape did not matter at all when it came to finding a partner. It also found that only 15% liked a “Barbie or Ken-like body type.”

“Very fit and in-shape bodies are seen as ideal when it comes to attracting a partner, however the users of Dating.com just proved that isn’t always the case when it comes to real-life romances,” Maria Sullivan, vice-president of the dating website, told The Guardian. “Movies and TV shows tend to promote ‘Barbie and Ken’ body types—giving people the idea they need to look similar in order to find their match. We are happy to confirm that is not how the real world world really operates.”

In March, the newly slim actor Jonah Hill spoke out on Instagram about how it felt to have his beach body discussed in the media.

“I don’t think I ever took my shirt off in a pool until I was in my mid-30s,” he wrote, “[It] probably would have happened sooner if my childhood insecurities weren’t exacerbated by years of public mockery about my body by press and interviewers.”

Body diversity has been a hot topic in fashion. Last year, Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty featured its first plus-size male model, Steven G, US size 2XL, modeling boxer briefs. “Big men, just like women, are hardly represented,” he told The Guardian.

But the picture in the fashion industry remains mixed. The women’s spring and summer fashion shows last year featured historic plus-size firsts. Versace featured three plus size models, Precious Lee, Jill Kortleve and Alva Claire, for the first time. Meanwhile, Paloma Elsesser was Salvatore Ferragamo’s first curvy model.

But, according to a report from The Fashion Spot, body diversity representation was actually down overall during the shows. There were only 19 plus size models on the catwalks, compared to 34 during the last autumn and winter 2020 season.

Research contact: @guardian

What’s the skinny? Gen Z says boyfriend jeans are in; tight jeans are out

Febraury 16, 2021

A generational war has been playing out on TikTok for some time, although anyone over the age of 24 might be oblivious to the millions of “Millennial vs. Gen Z” videos that have appeared on the social media site in the past year, The Guardian reports.

But now the kids—also known as Zoomers—have turned their sights on something that Millennials apparently hold close—maybe too close: skinny jeans.

In scenes reminiscent of the OK Boomer meme that divided the generations in 2019, the videos are shining a light on how those in Generation Z—broadly defined as anyone born between the mid-90s and 2010—identify themselves in contrast with the generation(s) that came before them.

Since January, there have been 274,000 videos tagged “no skinny jeans” on TikTok and 8.3 million millennial v Gen Z videos. Earlier in the month the male supermodel Luka Sabbat told Esquire: “Skinny jeans don’t look as flattering nowadays.”

Indeed, a video made by TikTok user @momohkd instructs her 410,000 viewers to throw their skinny jeans away, set them alight, or cut them into something new. Like other users she says Millennials should stop wearing them to look youngerthe Guardian notes.

Skinny jeans became mainstream in 2005 after featuring in the Dior Homme autumn/winter collection, as overseen by Hedi Slimane. The size of the jeans—27 inches—was considered tiny—especially in contrast to the price tag: about £200 (US$238).

“Slimane’s skinny jeans were significant for their cut, but also for the bodies he showed them on —incredibly skinny bodies, both of male and female models,” says Emma McClendon, the author of Denim: Fashion’s Frontier. “This changed the marketing and styling of jeans advertisements away from the more sensual look that had dominated the market for bootcut, low-rise jeans to a more androgynous and impossibly thin figure.”

The skinny jean became part of the 2000s boho look of It-girls such as Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Nicole Richie (as styled by Rachel Zoe); as well as a part of the alternative rock boom of the era, as seen on bands including the Strokes and Razorlight.

But, the Guardian reports, they never really went away: FLOTUS Jill Biden recently wore a pair on Instagram and they also became a distinguishing feature on the four lads in jeans meme.

What’s changing? There has been an increased focus on body inclusivity in fashion in recent years. In September Versace cast three plus-size models for the first time, and the plus-size model Paloma Elsesser was on the cover of U.S. Vogue in January..

On TikTok, Gen Z users have advocated for baggy jeans instead of slim-fit—eschewing the prescribed idea that thinness is attainable. According to market research company Edited, sales of men’s relaxed-fit jeans have increased by 15% and women’s wide-legged jeans are up 97%. The skinny v baggy online debate not only exposes a generational divide but other socioeconomic truths, too. “This is about issues of ‘taste’ but they intersect with issues of class, age, location, gender,” says McClendon.

The skinny jean, however, may prove hard to get rid of. Last month, Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh told investors he did not “think skinny jeans are ever going away on the women’s side of the business”, despite a clear trend towards “casual, looser-fitting clothes in general”, according to Business Insider.

McClendon added that they “always have a way of bouncing back. They are an extremely versatile and adaptable garment that carry such a multitude of cultural meanings that they will never be irrelevant.”

 Research contact: @guardian

‘Human Etch a Sketch’: GPS art and ‘burbing’

January 19, 2021

As Henry David Thoreau once wrote: “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” Now, more than 150 years later, a new generation of artists is proving that Thoreau’s words were remarkably prescient. They are tracing their own movements via GPS over the ‘canvas’ of entire cities and regions in order to create sketches, The Guardian reports.

That’s what Strava art is at its core. Named after the fitness tracking app that has previously helped reveal secret US military bases—and also referred to as GPS art or GPXthis medium allows you to “use your movements as the paint” and “a city block as your brush stroke.” Think of them as 21st century digital geoglyphs.

 Michael Wallace, also known as WallyGPX, is one of the more prolific Strava artists online. The high school teacher from Baltimore, Maryland, has completed more than 700 pieces across his city—ranging from a map of the world, to a scene from the game Donkey Kong, to multiple tributes to the late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia.

“I like to consider what I do is more like being a human etch-a-sketch,” he recently told The Guardian. “While I’m out there pedaling around the city, I’m sort of creating this imaginary digital spray paint behind me.”

Wallace’s artistic career began in 2009 after the proliferation of GPS technology in smartphones. His approach to planning is simple: Using a printed map and a pencil, he allows the streets and city parks to guide his lines and curves. He then jumps on a mountain bike and works his way around the path, likening it to tricking himself into exercising.

The artwork, itself, dictates the length of the ride. His largest piece required 44.7 miles (72km) of cycling as he took all day spinning a spider web across his city.

“I’ve never really cared about how fast I’m going,” Wallace says. “Like on Strava, everyone’s sort of obsessed with pace. For me it’s about where I am.”

An alternative approach to Strava art has also grown in popularity during the coronavirus outbreak. “Burbing” takes the same concept, but rather than sketching an image, you cover every street in a suburb.

It began as an alternative to Everesting —in which you ride the equivalent of the elevation of Mount Everest (for example, when two friends crisscrossed the roads of their respective Melbourne suburbs). It has since grown in popularity as the city went into strict COVID-19 lockdown with movements heavily restricted.

“Riding your suburb has a certain attraction,” Cameron James, one of Burbing’s founding fathers, told The Guardian. “You discover different places, different houses and areas you’d never have the occasion to go down.”

“There are some people who get a little bit anxious about missing a certain road or a couple of streets and feeling like they haven’t done the activity,” James says. “But at the end of the day, it’s about going out there, having fun and enjoying the experience.”

Research contact: @guardian