The Most Absurd Items From Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP Gift Guide

[Extremely UFC guy voice] Ladies and gentlemen, iiiiiittt’sss TIMEEE… to break out your $800 platinum-plated vibrators, because the annual GOOP holiday gift guide is here, i.e. the only time upper-crust ladies feel anything approaching erotic stimulation outside of flirting with the valet at Equinox. Once again, Gwyneth Paltrow and her merry band of tastemakers are here to to help you, the hapless woman with too much money to spend, decide what to buy for your equally well-heeled friends, relatives, and frenemies.

This year, the ever-innovative Gwenny throws us for a loop by separating the gifts into like 75 different categories like Hostess, Lover, Health Nut, and Traveler. Leave it to Gwyneth to realize that, in the world of rich people, there’s nothing more gauche than assuming your friends could possibly have interests outside of the boxes you’ve mentally placed them in. Anyway, this is a lot of shit, but I’ll do my best to cover the bases.

Hostess Gifts

WHITE INSIEME CHEESE KNIVES, SET OF 3, $425

Goop Says: A set of three cheese knives, handmade in the Tuscan countryside, presented in a gorgeous wooden gift box.

I say: “Thank you for inviting me to your holiday party, Sharon. Here is a set of single-purpose knives that cost more than your television.” Those Tuscans sure know their way around a cheese knife, I always say. The thing is, though, if these get me into a devil’s 3-way with cheese, salami and water crackers faster than a regular knife, then I say no price is too high.

LARGE STANDING BOWL, $110

Goop Says: Use it as an unexpected display for fruits and veggies.

I say: Well, no shit it’s unexpected—it’s a fucking $110 mini pig trough that really only holds fruit. If you click through, you see it only holds, like, 4 pieces of fruit. THAT’S NOT LARGE, Gwenny.

Under-18 Gifts

J.D. SALINGER BOOK SET – CATCHER IN THE RYE DESIGN, $175

Goop Says: Anyone from a longtime fan to a new and curious reader will love these books.

I say: If I see anyone let a child or teenager anywhere near Salinger’s creepy “childhood innocence is a virtue worth preserving” bullshit, I’m calling Child Protective Services.

Dreamer Gifts

[I’m not bothering with any of this shit, because it’s all stuff for the absolute worst people in your life. It’s also most of the cheapest stuff, and that’s no fun.]

Personalized Gifts

PETITE SIGNET RING DIAMOND LETTER, $698

Goop Says: A goop staff favorite.

I say: I’m sorry, but who am I supposed to be buying this for? The “lovers” section is next, so it’s not for anyone I’m doing the nasty with. If not them, who? “Here mom, I spent a month’s rent to remind you of your own last name.”

SELF-INKING STAMP: COPPER + BLACK, $185

Goop Says: This personalized stamp balances timeless-classic design with a brilliant, high-tech self-inking functionality.

I Say: It’s not even personalized! According to the product description, “it comes with a gift code and instructions for setting custom rubber imprints and the option to order extras.” Also, in what world is a self-inking stamp “high-tech?” How poorly paid are the GOOP writers?

Lovers Gifts

LACE KIMONO, $595

Goop Says: Taking inspiration from a traditional kimono, but made extra sexy.

I Say: This is less sexy than a traditional kimono, somehow? Look, I guess absurdly expensive lingerie does it for some guys, but this isn’t even that. And if your dude has some kind of weird, otaku fetish thing going on, I don’t think this is going to fulfill it. Nothing short of stuffing him into a box and mailing him to Japan will, which is the appropriate course of action.

ROSE QUARTZ EGG, $55

Goop Says: Used by women to increase sexual energy—this yoni egg is made of heart-activating rose quartz, associated with positive energy and love.

I Say: Can we all agree that “yoni” is the least appealing vaginal euphemism? Anyway, if stuffing rocks in your vagina is what it takes to “activate your heart” with “positive energy and love,” you a) need either a new man or a therapist, and b) probably spend too much time on this website.

Health Nut Gifts

AMETHYST BOTTLE, $84

Goop Says: This gorgeous water bottle is made with amethyst crystal to infuse water with positive energy.

I Say: Everything GOOP sells for “health” will at best do nothing and at worst make you less healthy, but this is particularly egregious. You can’t “infuse” water with crystals, and there are multiple varieties (including the vagtastic rose quartz)—and yet, they all claim to infuse the water with “positive energy.” WHICH IS IT, GWYNETH??

MEDITATION BAND, $350

Goop Says: When your mind starts to wander, soothing nature sounds gently guide you back to a meditative state.

I Say: They’re ultra-expensive headphones that only play one thing. If there’s one rule to live by, it’s that the dumber your chosen path to “wellness,” the more expensive the snake oil they’ll try to sell you. I mean, look at the price of joining a CrossFit gym.

Stocking Stuffers

CLIPPER BRASS MONEY CLIP, $80

Goop Says: Inspired by nineteenth-century paperclips, it’s geometrically sleek and functional, too.

I Say: It’s not “inspired by” paper clips, it is a fucking paper clip. Personally, I don’t trust the kind of guy who insists upon using a money clip. He has a fedora hiding somewhere, and he’s gonna drop that fucker on you at the worst possible time.

AERO PIPE, $85

Goop Says: Handmade in small batches right here in the USA.

I Say: LOL at Gwyneth selling drug paraphernalia. She’s absolutely the girl in middle school you could fool into thinking was high when all you gave her was some dry parsley to smoke. However, I must tip my hat to the enterprising stoner who figured out they could make A LOT more money selling $85 bowls to freshmen at Sarah Lawrence.

Cooking Gifts

ONDINE PLATINE CASSEROLE, $1,220

Goop Says: This toxin-free casserole dish is crafted in a titanium grade stainless steel that’s made to last a lifetime.

I Say: Jesus fucking Christ. I thought I knew fancy cookware, but this is next level shit. OF COURSE it’s one of Gwyneth’s “favorite cooking tools.” What the fuck does “toxin-free” mean in the context of a baking pan, anyway? I’m pretty sure steel is toxic as hell if you consume it, Gwyneth. You know what else lasts a lifetime? A $30 cast iron pan from the hardware store.

Pet Lover Gifts

[Literally every pet gift over $20 should be illegal. I have some, like, terrible news for you, but your pet is going to die WAYYYY before you, and new pets don’t like hand-me-downs. They can smell your regret.]

Guy Gifts

THIS IS CAMINO, $35

Goop Says: This fire-based cookbook is packed with recipes that can be easily recreated at home.

I Say: Ah yes, a fire-based cookbook, because as a man I’m both too stupid to come up with recipes and my balls will literally wither and die if I cook over anything daintier than the effigy at Burning Man. Ladies, I hope you get turned on by the sounds of your boyfriend crying over $100, hopelessly burnt prime rib roasts.

DARTBOARD & SET OF 6 DARTS, $500

Goop Says: Bullseye.

I Say: Not included in this set? The fucking paintball gun he’ll need to keep anyone from so much as thinking about throwing an actual dart at his 500 goddamn dollar “dart board.”

Ridiculous, But Awesome Gifts

PRIVATE ISLAND IN BELIZE, $6,000,000

Goop Says: The gift of complete and total solitude.

I Say: No, you know what? Fuck this. Do not designate this shit as “ridiculous,” Gwyneth. The whole point of this gift guide is how not self-aware she is, so she doesn’t get to do this. I mean, there’s zero self-awareness to be found in $425 cheese knives as a hostess gift, but still. SELL ME on this private island, Gwyneth. I might have some change hidden in my couch cushions.

Until next year, folks, when she’ll make her gift guide somehow more onerous and difficult to navigate. I bet rich people have a secret app for it.

Read more: http://www.betches.com/goop-2017-holiday-gift-guide

Spanking Your Kid Actually Creates More Behavior Problems, According To A New Study

Disciplining kids with spanking is a divisive topic that almost every parent has an opinion on. However, over the past few years, increasing scientific evidence has been mounting against the case of disciplining your kid with physical violence. A new study has added to this, claiming that spanking might actually make a child’s behavior worse.

Psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Virginia recently found that kids who were spanked by their parents at age five years were more likely to have behavioral problems between the ages 6 and 8.

“Our findings suggest that spanking is not an effective technique and actually makes children’s behavior worse not better,” says lead author Elizabeth T Gershoff, psychology scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement.

“Parents spank for many reasons, such as their educational or cultural background or how difficult their children’s behavior is. These same reasons, which we call selection factors, can also predict children’s behavior problems, making it difficult to determine whether spanking is in fact the cause of behavior problems,” Gershoff explained. “We realized that the statistical method of propensity score matching could help us get as close to an experiment as possible.”

Their research was recently published in the journal Psychological Science. They examined data from 12,112 children who participated in the US Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. Comparing children who had been spanked and those who hadn’t, they accounted for 38 other variables, including the frequency of spanking, the child’s age, gender, overall health, and behavior problems at age 5, the parent’s education, age, and marital status; and the family’s socioeconomic background, household size, and parenting quality.

Forming a definitive link between spanking and worsening behavior is hard to control, as an immeasurable number of facts can contribute to the change in the behavior. So, it not possible to definitively conclude that spanking necessarily leads to worse behavior. However, one conclusion is clearer: it certainly doesn’t seem to have a positive effect on the child’s behavior.

This is not the first piece of research to reach this conclusion. Another study last year analyzed over 160,000 children and similarly found that spanking was “not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.” On top of that, other meta-analysis studies have linked spanking to future antisocial behavior, mental health problems, problematic relationships with their parents, and lower cognitive ability.

At least 52 countries have banned spanking over the past few decades. However, it remains prevalent in the US, where it is still legal. According to a recent ABC News Poll, 65 percent of people in the US still approve of spanking children, a rate that’s actually remained steady for over 25 years,

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/brain/spanking-your-kid-actually-leads-to-more-behavior-problems/

Facebook’s AI suicide prevention tool is a ‘black box.’ That should worry you.

Image: vicky leta / mashable

For many people who’ve dedicated their lives to preventing suicide, social media posts can be a precious dataset that contains hints about what people say and do before they attempt suicide.  

In the past few years, researchers have built algorithms to learn which words and emoji are associated with suicidal thoughts. They’ve even used social media posts to retrospectively predict the suicide deaths of certain Facebook users. 

Now Facebook itself has rolled out new artificial intelligence that can proactively identify heightened suicide risk and alert a team of human reviewers who are trained to reach out to a user contemplating fatal self-harm. 

An example of what someone may see if Facebook detects they need help.

Image: Facebook

The technology, announced Monday, represents an unparalleled opportunity to understand and predict suicide risk. Before the AI tool was even publicly announced, Facebook used it to help dispatch first responders in 100 “wellness checks” to ensure a user’s safety. The tool’s life-saving potential is huge, but the company won’t share many details about how it works or whether it’ll broadly share its findings with academics and researchers. 

That is bound to leave some experts in the field confused and concerned. 

Munmun De Choudhury, an assistant professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, commends the social media company for focusing on suicide prevention, but she would like Facebook to be more transparent about its algorithms. 

“This is not just another AI tool — it tackles a really sensitive issue,” she said. “It’s a matter of somebody’s life and death.” 

“This is not just another AI tool — it tackles a really sensitive issue. It’s a matter of somebody’s life and death.” 

Facebook understands the stakes, which is why its VP of product management, Guy Rosen, emphasized in an interview how AI significantly hastens the process of identifying distressed users and getting them resources or help. 

But he declined to talk in-depth about the algorithm’s factors beyond a few general examples, like worried comments from friends and family, the time of day, and the text in a user’s post. Rosen also said the company, which has partnerships with suicide-prevention organizations, wants to learn from researchers, but he wouldn’t discuss how or if Facebook might publish or share insights from its use of AI. 

“We want to be very open about this,” he said. 

While transparency might not be Facebook’s strength, in a field like suicide prevention it could help other experts save more lives by revealing behavior or language patterns that emerge prior to suicidal thinking or a suicide attempt. With more than 2 billion users, Facebook arguably has the largest database of such content in the world. 

De Choudhury says transparency is vital when it comes to AI because transparency instills trust, a sentiment that’s in short supply as people worry about technology’s potential to fundamentally disrupt their professional and personal lives. Without enough trust in the tool, says De Choudhury, at-risk users may decide against sharing emotionally vulnerable or suicidal posts. 

When users receive a message from Facebook, it doesn’t indicate that AI identified them as high risk. Instead, they’re told that “someone thinks you might need extra support right now and asked us to help.” That someone, though, is a human reviewer who followed up on the AI detection of risk.

It’s also currently impossible to know how the AI determines that someone is at imminent risk, the algorithm’s accuracy, or how it makes mistakes when looking for clues of suicidal thinking. Since users won’t know they were flagged by AI, they have no way of telling Facebook that it wrongly identified them as suicidal. 

De Choudhury’s research involves analyzing social media to glean information about people’s mental and emotional wellbeing, so she understands the challenges of both developing an effective algorithm and deciding which data to publish. 

She acknowledges that Facebook must strike a delicate balance. Sharing certain aspects of its findings, for example, could lead users to oversimplify suicide risk by focusing on key words or other signals of distress. And it could potentially give people with bad intentions data points they could use to analyze social media posts, identify those with perceived mental health issues, and target them for harassment or discrimination. 

“I think sharing how the algorithm works, even if they don’t reveal every excruciating detail, would be really beneficial.” 

Facebook also faces a different set of expectations and pressures as a private company. It may consider its suicide prevention AI tool intellectual property developed for the public good. It might want to use features of that intellectual property to enhance its offerings to marketers and advertisers; after all, pinpointing a user’s emotional state is something that could be highly valuable to Facebook’s marketplace competitiveness. The company has previously expressed interest in developing that ability. 

Whatever the case, De Choudhury argues that Facebook can still contribute to broader efforts to use social media to understand suicide without compromising people’s safety and the company’s bottom line. 

“I think academically sharing how the algorithm works, even if they don’t reveal every excruciating detail, would be really beneficial,” she says, “…because right now it’s really a black box.”  

Crisis Text Line, which partnered with Facebook to provide suicide prevention resources and support to users, does use AI to determine people’s suicide risk — and shares its findings with researchers and the public. 

“With the scale of data and number of people Facebook has in its system, it could be an incredibly valuable dataset for academics and researchers to understanding suicide risk,” said Bob Filbin, ‎chief data scientist for ‎Crisis Text Line. 

Filbin didn’t know Facebook was developing AI to predict suicide risk until Monday, but he said that Crisis Text Line is a proud partner and eager to work with the company to prevent suicide. 

Crisis Text Line trains counselors to deescalate texters from “hot to cool” and uses first responders as a last resort. Facebook’s human reviewers confirm the AI’s detection of risk by examining the user’s posts. They provide resources and contact emergency services when necessary, but do not further engage the user. 

Filbin expects Facebook’s AI to pick up on different signals than what surfaces in Crisis Text Line’s data. People who contact the line do so looking for help and therefore may be more explicit in how they communicate suicidal thoughts and feelings. 

One simple example is how texters at higher risk of suicide say they “need” to speak to a counselor. That urgency — compared to “want” — is just one factor that the line’s AI uses to make a judgment about risk. Another is the word “ibuprofen,” which Crisis Text Line discovered is 16 times more likely to predict the person texting needs emergency services than the word suicide. 

Filbin said that Crisis Text Line’s algorithm can identify 80 percent of text conversations that end up requiring an emergency response within the first three messages.  

That is the kind of insight that counselors, therapists, and doctors hope to one day possess. It’s clear that Facebook, by virtue of its massive size and commitment to suicide prevention, is now  leading the effort to somehow put that knowledge into the hands of people who can save lives. 

Whether or not Facebook accepts that position — and the transparency it requires — is a question the company would rather not answer yet. At some point, though, it won’t have any other option.

If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Here is a list of international resources. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/28/facebook-ai-suicide-prevention-tools/

You Dont Need To Forgive The People Who Hurt You To Heal

God & Man

There is this really dangerous idea which I have been seeing in regards to healing, and to be honest I have been seeing it since time immemorial. Almost everyone who cares about me has said it at some point to me and in general, it makes me extremely uncomfortable. The idea is this: “You must forgive your those who hurt you in order to heal”. This is all over social media and it gives off the idea that so you can begin your healing journey, you must forgive the person who abused you and that is the only way you will start your healing journey.

This is a lie.

In a previous article this month, I discussed how healing is a nuanced thing and no two people heal alike. Today I want to discuss how forced forgiveness, a concept fed to us by the media, by society, is suggested as the only “correct” way to heal or else you will remain broken forever.

Let me clear on this from one survivor to another, from one victim to another: You do not have to forgive anyone except yourself to start your healing journey. The person who hurt you, who abused you does not deserve your forgiveness, you deserve your own forgiveness. The first step to loving yourself is recognising your own flaws and learning to forgive yourself for them and live with them.

The second step to loving yourself is making a concious decision about your healing process and what you want it to be. If this means you do not want to forgive your abuser, then do not forgive them. This notion of forced forgiveness is extremely harmful to a survivor’s health.

I have said this before and I will say it again. People heal in a completely unique way, the way they process their days in a completely unique way. We cannot force them to heal the way we want them to.

Some people heal better through staying angry at their attackers and gaining justice. Some people heal better through forgiving their own selves. Some people heal through getting revenge on their attackers in some way, and although we might not agree with it, we do not get a right to say how someone ELSE’s healing journey takes place and how they choose to go about it.

So remember the next time you see the sugary sweet sign “You can only heal through forgiving the people who hurt you.” that this is a very short sighted approach to a very broad journey that is different to everyone.

Your recovery and healing journey is entirely YOUR call. You do not owe anyone your forgiveness in order to heal other than yourself.

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/nikita-gill/2017/11/you-dont-need-to-forgive-the-people-who-hurt-you-to-heal/

Sen. Chris Murphy calls on Congress to stop being ‘cowardly’ in wake of Texas shooting

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) issued an impassioned plea to his fellow members of Congress on Saturday to pass further gun control protections following a mass shooting at a Texas church that left 26 people dead.

A gunman, identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, massacred 26 people at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday. The mass shooting came just 35 days after 64-year-old Stephen Paddock killed 59 people and injured more than 500 others in Las Vegas, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

“None of this is inevitable,” Murphy said in a statement. “I know this because no other country endures this pace of mass carnage like America. It is uniquely and tragically American. As long as our nation chooses to flood the country with dangerous weapons and consciously let those weapons fall into the hands of dangerous people, these killings will not abate.”

Murphy’s plea pushes back against conservatives who argue that the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the time to debate gun control, which remains one of the most contentious issues in America. However, the debate is further muddied by reports that a bystander with his own rifle may have helped prevent the gunman from killing or injuring more people.

President Donald Trump joined others on the right who argued against further gun control measures, calling the mass shooting a mental health issue. “Mental health is your problem here,” Trump said at a news conference in Tokyo, reports the Wall Street Journal. “This isn’t a guns situation.”

“Fortunately,” he added, “there was a person shooting in the opposite direction.”

While the politics around gun control are likely made only more complicated by the most recent shooting, a troubling fact remains constant: Frequent mass shootings are, as Murphy points out, a uniquely American problem. A study by University of Alabama professor Adam Lankford puts the number of “public mass shootings”—incidents involving four or more victims that did not involve gang violence or the slaying of multiple members of the same family—at 292 across 171 countries between 1996 and 2012. The United States had the highest rate by far, with 90 public mass shootings during that period.

The problem is not simply mass shootings, Murphy argued. It is the pervasive gun violence across the U.S. A Centers for Disease Control study released on Friday found an increase in gun-related deaths in 2016, jumping to 12 for every 100,000 people.

“My heart breaks for Sutherland Springs. Just like it still does for Las Vegas. And Orlando. And Charleston. And Aurora. And Blacksburg. And Newtown,” Murphy said. “Just like it does every night for Chicago. And New Orleans. And Baltimore. And Bridgeport. The terrifying fact is that no one is safe as long as Congress chooses to do absolutely nothing in the face of this epidemic. The time is now for Congress to shed its cowardly cover and do something.”

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/chris-murphy-southerland-springs-texas-shooting-gun-control/

Self-Driving Car Tech Can Help Another Form of Transport: Wheelchairs

Autonomous vehicle technology often prompts discussions about profit, safety, efficiency, jobs, and more. But this innovation can change millions of lives today without introducing a single car to the road. Think: self-driving wheelchairs.

WIRED OPINION

ABOUT

Elizabeth Jameson (@jamesonfineart) is a health policy analyst and an artist in the San Francisco Bay Area who uses neurotechnology, science and art to shift the narrative of chronic illness. Catherine Monahon is an art educator and project manager who works with individuals, small businesses, and nonprofits to tell their stories through various media.

I have a progressive disease, multiple sclerosis, which has now rendered me quadriplegic; I no longer have use of my hands or legs. I am a part of a growing group of people with mobility challenges. With an aging population, an increase in chronic illnesses worldwide, and longer lifespans, the number of people over age 65 is expected to nearly double in the next 30 years, to 88 million by 2050. Since disability rates rise with age, this issue will affect all of us.

People with mobility challenges dream of autonomy. Assistive technology is crucial for our independence, for helping us succeed in the workplace, live meaningful lives, and get through everyday tasks that would otherwise be impossible. Self-driving wheelchairs would provide entirely new levels of independence for people living with disability. What's more, this technology exists and is even affordable. The primary obstacle is a lack of investment from the tech community.

Silicon Valley sees itself as developing technology that improves lives. It’s also famous for innovation and firsts. Self-driving wheelchairs represent an excellent opportunity for tech companies and venture capitalists to invest in a growing industry while simultaneously transforming the lives of millions.

Users of power wheelchairs are the primary potential customers. In the US alone, 6 million people like me require a power wheelchair, and many of us require assistance to operate it, as I do, since I cannot use my hands. Self-driving wheelchairs uses a power chair as a base. Unlike a manual wheelchair, the power wheelchair has a motor that allows the person to move about without physically operating the wheels.

An estimated 8 million people desperately need a better solution. There is a broad and diverse market for self-driving wheelchair users, from children or people in nursing homes often denied power chairs due to safety regulations, to people who can't operate power chairs for various reasons, such as difficulty with sensory or fine motor skills.

Even people who are able to operate their device report it can sometimes be stressful and fatiguing—navigating through crowds and tight spaces, determining the best route, and using the right amount of precision (via neck muscles, finger, or breath) to control the chair.

Here’s where self-driving car technology comes to the rescue. A handful of institutions and companies — Samsung, MIT, and Northwestern University, to name a few—are currently pursuing self-driving wheelchairs. Of all the prototypes, there is one option that is cost-effective and ready for implementation: a wheelchair designed by a Toronto-based robotics company called Cyberworks.

Last summer, Cyberworks announced a self-driving wheelchair that is expected to hit the market in the next few years, at a cost of $1,000. For comparison, a power wheelchair can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $30,000, depending on the level of disability. While so far Cyberworks’ wheelchair can only be used inside, this is the first step toward self-driving wheelchair technology that operates in all terrain.

Self-driving wheelchairs can be a profitable, stable market: after all, 8 million people in the US alone stand to benefit from such a technology. Companies that enable mobility-impaired users with self-driving technology can show that these types of systems are safe and reliable.

For those of us with mobility challenges, a wheelchair is our car. It may travel slower, using pathways other than the open road, but it is imperative to our mobility. Now the tech industry has the chance to be an absolute hero for millions of people in the coming years, especially as the world’s population ages. Investing in assistive technologies means investing in our collective survival: disability and access is everyone’s issue.

WIRED Opinion publishes pieces written by outside contributors and represents a wide range of viewpoints. Read more opinions here.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/self-driving-car-tech-can-help-another-form-of-transport-wheelchairs/

Illegal puppy trade surges for Christmas

Image copyright Dogs trust
Image caption Chow Chow puppies are one of the popular breeds being smuggled in

Record numbers of illegal puppies are being smuggled across the Channel into the UK ready for the “Christmas trade”.

In three undercover operations the Dogs Trust seized 100 young dogs in just one week from Folkestone and Dover ports.

But the UK’s largest dog welfare charity said the clampdown was “just the tip of the iceberg”, and feared people looking for a cheap puppy would fuel the illegal trade.

The pups are found in “shocking conditions”, with severe health issues.

Image copyright Dogs trust
Image caption This puppy has a skin infection from urine scalding

The Dogs Trust said it had come across seven Cane Corso pups with infected wounds after their ears and tails were cropped and docked, apparently using scissors and vodka.

According to the trust, high demand for “trendy” breeds such as French bulldogs, English bulldogs, Chow Chows and Daschunds helped to fuel the “sickening trade”, which can net bootleg breeders tens of thousands of pounds.

Dogs Trust veterinary director Paula Boyden said: “Buying an illegally imported puppy could potentially cost well-meaning but unsuspecting families thousands of pounds in quarantine and vet bills and emotional heartache for the family if the puppy falls ill or worse, dies.

“We continue to be astounded at the lengths these deceptive breeders and dealers will go to.”

Image copyright Dogs trust
Image caption Rescued British bulldog puppies at the Dogs Trust kennels

Under the Dogs Trust’s “Puppy Pilot” scheme, 582 illegally smuggled puppies were rehomed between December 2015 and 18 October 2017. About 40 rescued puppies died from the poor conditions they suffered on the journey to the UK.

In 2016 officials found 688 “illegally landed” dogs, more than treble the recorded number in 2014.

The number of dogs entering the UK to be kept as pets in 2011 was 85,299, and this figure continues to increase year-on-year, with 275,876 entering in 2016.

Between 2011 and 2013 the number of dogs coming to the UK from central and eastern Europe in particular rocketed, with a 780% increase from Lithuania and a 663% increase from Hungary.


How to avoid purchasing illegal pups

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Ask to see the mother and pup together
  • Visit the new pup, at its home, more than once and get paperwork before taking it home
  • Take new puppies for a veterinary health check immediately
  • Do not buy from anyone who can supply various breeds on demand
  • Do not to buy a puppy that looks underweight, or feel pressured into buying

Source: The Dogs Trust


Image caption Puppies found in the back of a van during an undercover operation

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-41980459

This Is How Life Will Look Nine Months After You Lose Your Mom

Annie Spratt

You’ve reached a point where you talk about your mom knowing she’s deceased. You’ve stopped counting the months and comparing that she was alive however many months ago. You talk mostly about her in the past tense and you’re able to handle it, most times.

Your bouts of crying have become fairer and fewer in between. But when those emotions overtake you, they come at you with full force and knock you down. Your grieving will not be a momentary lapse. You’ll get hit hard with it and the sadness will creep up on you like the day she passed. It still hits you like a ton of bricks.

Your father will seem happier now. He’s not as distant because he’s accepted the fact that his wife is never coming back. He’s not completely warmed by fond memories of their lives together yet because most of the time it still stings. But he will talk about her now more openly, but that also means he’ll cry just as freely.

Navigating life without her has become your new normal. You’re able to celebrate holidays with a little more excitement now, but each activity is met with an instant pang of guilt that she’s not around to share it with. You’ll be more accepting of your needs and you’ll realize that you need to take care of your mental health before you continue taking care of anyone else around you. Life will be bittersweet at this point, but it’ll have sweeter moments than you’re used to. When you experience a big life change, or good news at work, you’re not immediately saddened over the fact that you can’t share the news with her. You’ve found other outlets and other people to revel in your joy out of necessity.

You won’t feel as bad sharing your grief with those around you. You’re more open now about what you need and you don’t feel bad asking for support, or time, or a pair of ears to listen to you vent. You no longer feel like you’re burdening people with your pain, because your pain is real and you’ve stopped running as a means to hide it.

You begin to look at other family members to fill your mother’s space. They’ll never be her but you’re coming to terms with the fact that you can share your favorite activities with someone else who misses her just as much. You’ll start to shop at her favorite stores without breaking down. You’ll share stories of her that once pained you without feeling broken. You’ll be better, or as good as you can be.

Nine months after you lose your mom, you’ll both question and feel joy over how quickly the time has passed. You’ll marvel at how strong you are – and how strong you’ve been. You’ll feel proud over what you’ve been able to overcome and you have a strong sense that your mother would be too. Nine months after your mother dies, you’ll start to begin your life over again. You’ll realize that you find less joy in shopping for others around the holidays, because no material item can bring you happiness like the friendship you shared with the one you lost. You’ll have this urge to make big changes – to travel the world, to experience something new, to write that book you always wanted or to venture into unknown territory.

Nine months after you lose your mom, you’ll have this knowledge that life is fleeting and you want to soak up as much of it as you can. You’ll want to make new memories and new experiences that don’t have your mom in them. At first you’ll feel guilty about this, but then you’ll have no choice but to accept that this is your new normal, and that there’s a part of you that wants to create something new for yourself because comparing it to the past, is just too painful.

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/courtney-dercqu/2017/11/this-is-how-life-will-look-nine-months-after-you-lose-your-mom/

Democrats Pull Out of Trump Meeting After His Shutdown Tweet

The top two Democratic leaders in Congress pulled out of a meeting with President Donald Trump on Tuesday after he tweeted that a budget deal with them was unlikely, raising the odds that the U.S. government will partially shut down next week.

Trump proceeded with the meeting anyway, calling reporters into the White House Roosevelt Room to see name cards for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer at empty seats. The president was joined by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Trump blasted the Democratic leaders as “all talk and no action” and said he wasn’t surprised they didn’t come to the session. He said he expected Pelosi and Schumer would soon meet with him, but if there’s a shutdown, “I would absolutely blame the Democrats.”

The Democratic leaders said after Trump’s tweet that they’d skip a “show meeting” at the White House and instead ask for a meeting with Ryan and McConnell.

“Given that the President doesn’t see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead,” they said in a joint statement.

Pelosi later criticized the president on Twitter, saying he was engaging in political stunts.

“@realDonaldTrump now knows that his verbal abuse will no longer be tolerated. His empty chair photo opp showed he’s more interested in stunts than in addressing the needs of the American people. Poor Ryan and McConnell relegated to props. Sad!,” Pelosi tweeted.

Trump sparked the dispute Tuesday morning.

“Meeting with ‘Chuck and Nancy’ today about keeping government open and working,” Trump said on Twitter. “Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes. I don’t see a deal!”

‘Urgent Issues’

“It’s disappointing that Senator Schumer and Leader Pelosi are refusing to come to the table and discuss urgent issues,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “The President’s invitation to the Democrat leaders still stands and he encourages them to put aside their pettiness, stop the political grandstanding, show up and get to work. These issues are too important.”

McConnell and Ryan echoed the White House in a joint statement.

“We have important work to do,” they said. “There is a meeting at the White House this afternoon, and if Democrats want to reach an agreement on these issues, they will be there.”

If Democrats and Republicans do not reach a deal on spending by Dec. 8, the federal government could face a partial shutdown.

Investors’ response to the dispute was muted. The dollar dipped after the Democrats’ statement and Treasuries extended gains, with the 10-year yield reaching the 2.31 percent level, signaling some movement to safety. But the U.S. stock market’s benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index continued to rise as investors placed greater emphasis on remarks made by Federal Reserve Chairman nominee Jerome Powell which analysts interpreted as favorable to bank stocks.

‘Dreamers’ Deal

Some Democrats have called for any year-end spending deal to include legislation to codify an Obama administration policy protecting from deportation young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. Trump, who announced in September he was ending the Obama program, has said any deal protecting the so-called “Dreamers” should be paired with funding for a border wall and legislation that would reduce legal immigration.

The Dec. 8 deadline was set in a deal Schumer and Pelosi struck with Trump — against the wishes of Ryan and McConnell — to avoid a government shutdown and debt default in September. They agreed to fund the government at current levels and suspend the debt limit for three months.

Since that deal was struck, Congress has focused mostly on a tax overhaul and has made little progress reaching a spending deal to keep the government open. Other issues have also piled up, including the fate of cost-sharing subsidies that help defray deductibles and co-payments for low-income people with Obamacare insurance policies. Trump has stopped reimbursing insurers for the subsidies.

The negotiations also include efforts to lift legislative caps on military spending, raise the debt limit, provide more funding for disaster assistance, and extend a children’s health insurance program and an intelligence surveillance program.

Several of those issues face year-end deadlines and may end up in a huge spending plan requiring votes from both Republicans and Democrats.

Congressional Talks

The Trump administration does not want to include immigration as part of the year-end spending deal to keep the government open, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday.

“We hope that the Democrats aren’t going to put our service members abroad at risk by trying to hold the government hostage over partisan politics, and attaching that,” Sanders told reporters on Monday.

A Senate Democratic leadership aide said that Democratic leaders were able to reach a deal on a spending plan in April with Republicans in Congress and not the White House. They are looking to do that again.

In recent talks on a year-end budget deal, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have discussed a possible agreement to lift budget caps established under an Obama-era debt deal. The agreement would add $200 billion in spending above the caps over two years. However, the two sides haven’t agreed to divide the money equally between defense and non-defense programs, which Democrats want. Republicans are pushing for more defense spending than domestic spending.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-28/trump-tweets-i-don-t-see-a-deal-to-keep-government-open

    A Millennials Guide To Buzzed Grocery Shopping

    Broad City

    Start off at your local Bar Louie reading something you found on the NY Times Match Book column while sipping some Malbec. When it hits you, and no one comments on how cool and cultured you must be for reading in a bar alone, or at least asks what you’re reading, violently break into song, belting, “THERE MUST BE MORE THAN THIS PROVINCIAL LIFE,” before paying your tab and getting into your car.

    Stop at Panera first, because you’re not above consuming carbohydrates at this point in your life, but if you are going to eat a bagel, it needs to have those little bubbles when it’s toasted. Grab a chocolate chip cookie too, because like I said, you are NOT above carbs.

    Proceed to your local Jewel and grab an oversized cart, because you live alone, but also don’t exercise, so you won’t be able to handle carrying a basket for more than two minutes, and they are out of the “single ladies” carts that are adequately sized for the purchases you are going to make. Head straight for the wine aisle.

    You’re out of red, so grab three of your favorite bottles of Claret (which you can pronounce correctly because you are so cultured), a bottle of Chianti, Malbec, and Garnacha, because like most Millennials, you are a global citizen, which is slang for wino-in-training.

    Pick up a few other essentials, like make-up wipes and hair ties (which, let’s be honest, you’ll use to clean off last night’s make-up the morning after, a simple task you should be able to accomplish the night of, but never seem to make happen).

    Now that the necessities are out of the way, it’s time to go candle shopping. The Malbec has lowered your inhibitions, so listen to your heart. Smell everything in the aisle with the words rain, shower, ocean, patchouli, or sandalwood. Realize that your olfactory preferences include anything that is synonymous with the phrase “wet hippie”. Accept this as an irrevocable part of your identity, and load your cart with four multi-wick candles.

    Grab two bottles of “low calorie” Gatorade, because if you’re going to keep this carb game up, you’re going to have to cut calories somewhere. You also need to one bottle of Gatorade in your apartment for every three bottles of wine. Ratios – It’s simple math people.

    Toss in some milk (to drink with your cookie), eggs, and granola (yogurt is your most recent – and only – health kick, but you like it crunchy), and make your way to the checkout aisle. Try to count everything in your cart to see if you qualify for the express checkout lane – you don’t dammit. Wait behind some suburban dad buying food for his family, and think private thoughts to yourself that include the word patriarchy.

    Hand your ID to the cashier as she scans your wine bottles. She’s looking at it for a long time – longer than the kid who checked your ID on Thanksgiving when you were wearing sunglasses and a backwards baseball cap.

    “You’re year of the horse,” she tells you. “You run fast. Do everything fast.”

    Respond, “Yep, that’s why I buy wine six bottles at a time,” then go home, light all your candles at once, and eat that cookie for dinner because you didn’t actually buy real food during this trip.

    Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/nicole-stawiarski/2017/11/a-millennials-guide-to-buzzed-grocery-shopping/