Ranking The Zodiac Signs By How Basic They Are

@greganmay

Cancer

(June 22nd to July 22nd)

Cancers like what’s familiar, and the most basic things in life usually come back every year. Pumpkin spice, peppermint lattes, Shamrock Shakes, granted these things are all food related, but Cancers don’t stop there. They enjoy basic activities as well, like apple picking in the fall, carving pumpkins for Halloween, dying eggs in the spring (even if they don’t celebrate Easter). The Cancer doesn’t mind being predictable, they don’t mind being basic.

Taurus

(April 20th to May 21st)

The Taurus is both materialistic and practical, which means they’re pretty basic. They like to look nice, and keep up to date on all the latest trends. The Taurus will google whether or not chokers are still in style, and they’ll go shopping for anything if social media says it’s trending. They don’t want their iPhone 7 after the iPhone 8 comes out, and they always update their apps. Gotta have the latest snapchat filters, duh.

Libra

(September 23rd to October 22nd)

A Libra likes to be agreeable which puts them in the top 3 for the most basic of zodiac signs. They like to go with the crowd rather than disagree with them. If their significant other wants to go pumpkin picking, they’re going to put on their comfy flannel and they’ll be sure to get a cute insta out of it, preferably a couple selfie in front of a giant farm tractor or friendly-looking scarecrow.

Capricorn

(December 22nd to January 20th)

The Capricorn likes to keep it traditional, and sometimes traditions are basic. They LOVE decorating their own christmas stockings every year, and watching Hocus Pocus on the night of Halloween, traditions mean everything to them, and they live to keep them going.

Virgo

(August 23rd to September 22nd)

The Virgo loves their fresh pressed green juices with carrot, ginger, and kale. They believe in holistic approaches to healing, and are very health conscious. Their basic-ness revolves around cleanses and piYo.

Leo

(July 23rd to August 22nd)

The Leo lives for holidays and special events. They’ll use anything as an excuse to host a party. They’re the type to host a superbowl party stocked full of themed cocktails and appetizers without actually knowing who’s playing. The most basic thing about them is their absurd spirit around seasons and holidays.

Gemini

(May 22nd to June 21st)

The Gemini likes to keep an open mind. The idea of going apple picking during the fall won’t completely disgust them, but it doesn’t thrill them either. The Gemini usually just goes along with whatever their friends want to do. They’re social, friendly, and always up for a good time, so if basic activities will put a smile on their face, so be it.

Aries

(March 21st to April 19th)

Aries likes to set trends, not follow them. They don’t really care if everyone’s hyped about pumpkin spice season. They’re the type to put cinnamon and almond milk in their coffee and say it’s the “new pumpkin spice latte.” They’re not followers, they’re leaders.

Aquarius

(January 21st to February 18th)

Aquarius is far too busy harvesting intellect to be doing basic things like drinking spiced apple cider at a pumpkin patch. They enjoy deep conversations, and don’t usually flock towards individuals who surround themselves with basic things.

Scorpio

(October 23rd to November 22nd)

The Scorpio cringes at the thought of anything basic. The Scorpio is authentic, and what everyone else is doing really doesn’t concern them. You won’t find any photos of pumpkin picking on a Scorpio’s instagram.

Sagittarius

(November 23rd to December 21st)

Sagittarius isn’t basic because they’re far too busy exploring the world to know what’s basic and when. When it is pumpkin spice season here, they’re in another hemisphere where pumpkins aren’t even a thing. They decorate their home with souvenirs from their travels, and have stories to tell of all different cultures and places. Basic is the opposite of most Sags.

Pisces

(February 19th to March 20th)

The Pisces usually likes things that no one else has heard of. When it comes to music, movies, books, or art, they only like what’s underground. Pisces don’t go to Starbucks, they go to their local coffee shop where they can support their fellow local artists and performers.

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/nicole-tarkoff/2017/09/ranking-the-zodiac-signs-by-how-basic-they-are/

‘Western society is chronically sleep deprived’: the importance of the body’s clock

The 2017 Nobel prize for medicine was awarded for the discovery of how our circadian rhythms are controlled. But what light does it shed on the cycle of life?

The cycle of day and night on our planet is age-old and inescapable, so the idea of an internal body clock might not sound that radical. In science, though, asking the questions why? and how? about the most day-to-day occurrences can require the greatest leaps of ingenuity and produce the most interesting answers.

This was the case for three American biologists, Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young, who earlier this week were awarded the Nobel in medicine or physiology, for their discovery of the master genes controlling the bodys circadian rhythms.

The first hints of an internal clock came as early as the 18th century when the French scientist Jean-Jacques dOrtous de Mairan noticed that plants kept at a steady temperature in a dark cupboard unexpectedly maintained their daily rhythm of opening and closing their leaves. However, De Mairan himself concluded this was because they could sense the sun without ever seeing it.

It was only when Hall, Rosbash and Young used fruit flies to isolate a gene that controls the rhythm of a living organisms daily life that scientists got the first real glimpse at our time-keeping machinery that explains how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronised with the Earths revolutions, the Nobel prize committee said.

Using fruit flies, the team identified a period gene, which encodes a protein within the cell during the night which then degrades during the day, in an endless feedback cycle.

Prof Robash, 73, a faculty member at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachussetts, said that when his paper was published in the 1980s he had no grandiose thoughts about the importance of the discovery. During the intervening years, the picture has changed.

Its [now] pretty clear that it has its fingers in all kinds of basic processes by influencing an enormous fraction of the genome, he said.

Scientists discovered the same gene exists in mammals and that it is expressed in a tiny brain area called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN. On one side, it is linked to the retina in the eye, and on the other side it connects to the brains pineal gland, which pumps out the sleep hormone melatonin.

Modern lifestyles may no longer be constrained by sunrise and sunset, but light remains one of the most powerful influences on our behaviour and wellbeing. This realisation has fuelled a sleep hygiene movement, whose proponents point out that bright lights before bedtime and spending the whole day in a dimly lit office can dampen the natural circadian cycle, leaving people in a continual mental twilight dozy in the morning, and too alert to fall asleep promptly at night.

Rosbash welcomes this new awareness. Its been overlooked for a long time as a real public health problem, he said. All of western society is a little bit sleep deprived and, when I say a little bit, I mean chronically.

There is growing evidence that this decoupling from the natural circadian cycle can have long-term health consequences much more far-reaching than tiredness.

At first, it was assumed that the brains master clock was the bodys only internal timekeeper. In the past decade, though, scientists have shown that clock genes are active in almost every cell type in the body. The activity of blood, liver, kidney and lung cells in a petri dish all rise and fall on a roughly 24-hour cycle. Scientists have also found that the activity of around half our genes appear to be under circadian control, following undulating on-off cycles.

In effect, tiny clocks are ticking inside almost every cell type in our body, anticipating our daily needs. This network of clocks not only maintains order with respect to the outside world, but it keeps things together internally.

Virtually everything in our body, from the secretion of hormones, to the preparation of digestive enzymes in the gut, to changes in blood pressure, are influenced in major ways by knowing what time of day these things will be needed, said Clifford Saper, a professor of neuroscience at Harvard Medical School. The most common misconception is that people think that they do not have to follow the rules of biology, and can just eat, drink, sleep, play, or work whenever they want.

This discovery explains why jet lag feels so grim: the master clock adapts quickly to changing light levels, but the the rest of your body is far slower to catch up and does so at different speeds.

Jet lag is so awful because youre not simply shifted, but the whole circadian network is not aligned to each other, said Prof Russell Foster, chair of circadian neuroscience at the University of Oxford. If you were completely aligned but just five hours shifted you wouldnt feel so crappy.

It is also helps explain the extensive range of health risks experienced by shift workers, who are more likely to suffer from heart disease, dementia, diabetes and some cancers. Theyre having to override their entire biology, said Foster.

Obesity is also more common among those with irregular sleep patterns. Sapers team has found that animals that dont get enough sleep, but keep their circadian pattern, do not gain weight. But when they are placed on a 20-hour light-dark cycle, they eat more impulsively and develop glucose intolerance.

I would suggest that for humans, staying up late, watching video screens with high levels of blue light and eating high fat foods, is potentially a major cause of obesity and diabetes, said Saper.

Evidence is also emerging that our risk of acute illness rises and falls with a predictable regularity. People are 49% more likely to suffer a stroke between 6am and 12 noon than at any other time of the day and a similar pattern is true for heart attacks. This is linked to a circadian rise in blood pressure in the early morning, which happens even if youre lying in bed not doing anything.

As a result, it makes sense to take certain blood pressure medications first thing, before getting out of bed. By contrast, cholesterol is made more rapidly by the liver at night. So, statins, which lower cholesterol, work best if taken before going to bed.

Foster said that a failure to consider the circadian influence in past animal experiments may even have led to promising drug candidates being shelved. Toxicity can change from 20% to 80% depending on the time of the day you test a drug, he said.

As the impact of scientific advance slowly trickles down, the medical profession and society at large are waking up to the power of the biological clock.

A paper last year showing that jet lag impairs baseball performance, prompted some professional sports teams to take on circadian biologists as consultants on schedules for training and travel. The US Navy has altered its shift system to align it with the 24-hour clock, rather than the 18-hour day used in the old British system. Schools are experimenting with later school days, better aligned with the teenage body clock, which runs several hours later than that of adults.

As circadian rhythms have journeyed from obscure corner of science to part of the zeitgeist, companies are launching an increasing number of products on the back of a new anxiety around sleep and natural cycles. This is the western world; if somebody can make a buck theyre going to try to do it, said Rosbash.

The 73-year-old, who describes his own relationship with sleep as borderline problematic, prefers low- tech remedies, however.

I havent quite figured out how to do better, he said. I try not to take sleep medication. I dont drink alcohol too late in the evening, I read a good book. The common sense things, I think they help.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/oct/06/western-society-is-chronically-sleep-deprived-the-importance-of-the-bodys-clock

Runny eggs ‘safe for pregnant women’

Image caption Runny eggs can now be enjoyed by everyone

“Lion mark” eggs have been declared safe for pregnant women and young children, nearly 30 years after a salmonella scare.

Vulnerable groups had been advised not to eat raw, soft boiled or runny eggs.

The Food Standards Agency says “Lion Mark” eggs, which include almost all of the eggs produced in the UK, are virtually free of salmonella.

The new advice comes after a vaccination programme, and improvements to animal welfare.

In 1988, a scare over the presence of salmonella in eggs caused a dramatic collapse in sales of eggs and a series of warnings for vulnerable groups to avoid eating them if they were raw or runny.

The then junior Conservative health minister, Edwina Currie, declared: “Most of the egg production in this country, sadly, is now affected with salmonella.”

Salmonella bacteria can cause food poisoning.

Mrs Currie’s statement wildly overstated the danger and eventually led to her resignation.

But there was a problem with salmonella in eggs and by the 1990s producers started a vaccination programme.

Lion Mark

The “British Lion Mark”, printed on eggs in red ink, was introduced so that eggs could be traced back to the farm of origin and to show best-before dates.

Almost 30 years on from the initial scare, the Food Standards Agency’s Heather Hancock, says runny eggs can now be eaten by everyone.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionScience now shows the risk from salmonella in eggs is extremely low.

“We are now saying if there is a British Lion egg, you’re safe to do that.

“The risk of salmonella is now so low you needn’t worry.

“And that’s true whether you’re a fit healthy adult, or whether you’re pregnant or elderly or young.

“It’s only people on strictly medically supervised diets who need to avoid those eggs.”

Image caption UK egg production is big business

Growing appetite for eggs

The British appetite for eggs has been growing in recent years.

Last year British hens laid 10,372 million eggs, while on average we consume more than 34.5 million eggs every day.

And eggs are very good for you, packed full of vitamin D, protein and valuable omega-3 fatty acids.

Mother of two Catherine Millington is a big fan, with eggs providing quick, cheap and nutritious meals for her two daughters, who are aged nearly 4 years old and 7 months.

“Eggs are brilliant because you can boil them, break them into bits, and the baby can handle them so we can do baby-led weaning with it.

“And when you’re in a rush, they’re dead easy.”

Food safety

Just outside Penrith on the edge of the Lake District is The Lakes Free Range Egg Company.

Egg farmer David Brass says the introduction of the British Lion standard has made all the difference.

“We know from back in the ’80s when all the scare started, there was an issue with eggs.

“But what the Lion standard does, it is a fully independent, audited code of practice to make sure we have standards on the farm that make sure we can’t have any of those disease problems again.

“And it has shown time after time, in those intervening years, that it is just a brilliant food safety code.”

Over the summer, millions of eggs were pulled from supermarket shelves in more than a dozen European countries – including the UK – after it was discovered some had been contaminated with a potentially harmful insecticide at Dutch farms.

British eggs were not affected.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-41568998

Jimmy Kimmel slams GOP senator for lying ‘right to my face’ over health care

Once again, Jimmy Kimmel is slamming Republican lawmakers over healthcare. 

This time he’s attacking the Graham-Cassidy bill, proposed by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy. Cassidy actually appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in May after the talk show host’s emotional speech about his son’s heart surgery. 

The senator promised that he’d only support a bill that passed the “Jimmy Kimmel test” — meaning that it would guarantee coverage for kids like Kimmel’s son, born with congenital heart disease. 

On Tuesday night, Kimmel said Cassidy “lied right to my face.”

“This bill actually does pass the Jimmy Kimmel test — but a different Jimmy Kimmel test,” he said. “With this one, your child with a preexisting condition will get the care he needs if and only if his father is Jimmy Kimmel. Otherwise, you might be screwed.”

Then he absolutely laid into Graham and Cassidy.

“They’re counting on you to be so overwhelmed with all the information, you just trust them to take care of you,” he said. “But they’re not taking care of you. They’re taking care of the people who are giving them money, like insurance companies.”

“This guy, Bill Cassidy, lied right to my face”

There’s a reason Kimmel is so mad. The new Senate bill allows insurance companies to once again raise rates for people with pre-existing conditions, or even deny them coverage. It would also eliminate Obamacare subsidies and federal funding for Medicaid expansion.

It’s hard to tell how many people would lose their insurance thanks to this bill, because the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office hasn’t scored it yet — and won’t do so until after the Senate the votes on it. 

Kimmel might poke fun at politicians, but he isn’t known as a liberal firebrand. For the most part, he leaves that to Stephen Colbert. But he’s gone through the gut-wrenching experience of waiting out his baby son’s heart surgery.

So many Americans — myself included — have watched friends and family members deal with cancer, heart disease, and other life-threatening conditions. 

Imagining them being denied care or going bankrupt on top of having of that seems beyond cruel. And that’s why it’s so important that even people who don’t seem “political” speak out. 

“Before you post a nasty Facebook post saying I’m politicizing my son’s health problems, I want you to know — I am politicizing my son’s health problems, because I have to,” he said. 

Hopefully, Republican senators were listening. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/19/jimmy-kimmel-bill-cassidy/

CDC Now Officially Agrees That People With HIV CANNOT Sexually Transmit The Virus If Their Viral Load Is Undetectable

Clinical trials over the years have shown that HIV-positive people on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) with an undetectable viral load cannot sexually transmit the virus to an HIV-negative person. This important result was announced unequivocally in July at the Ninth International Aids Society Conference and it is now the official policy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Hundreds of medical professionals and organizations have committed to the undetectable=untransmittable (U=U) pledge. The CDC accepting this is a fantastic step forward and will help challenge the stigma HIV-positive people still face today.

“Across three different studies, including thousands of couples and many thousand acts of sex without a condom or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), no HIV transmissions to an HIV-negative partner were observed when the HIV-positive person was virally suppressed,” read the CDC Dear Colleague letter on HIV/AIDS prevention. “This means that people who take ART daily as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.”

The CDC statement also added an unfortunate “however“. Institutions and ignorance are still stopping people from getting the care and treatment they need. They noted the hurdles many have to face to get access to ART and every single one is infuriating: inadequate health systems, poverty, racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and criminalization.

“Educating the general population about U=U has the potential to put a massive dent in the stigma that’s followed people living with HIV for the last thirty years. Once people know you’re not-infectious they’re more able to see past the virus and see the person,” HIV Campaigner Tom Hayes told IFLScience. “More and more public bodies are acknowledging and backing the U=U (#uequalsu on social media) message, giving it more credibility. What we need now is a public information campaign across all forms of media to bring the general public up to date. U=U changes everything.”

ART gets rid of any actively replicating HIV, but it is possible for HIV to be latent and in hiding. This is why ART is a continuous treatment and not a one-off. Recent breakthroughs suggest a way to completely eradicate the virus, but it is still very early days.

Now more than ever it is important to remember that HIV is a manageable disease. Most of the struggle HIV-positive people face comes from being stigmatized due to other people’s misconceptions. It is important to remain informed, support the research, and fight the ignorance that surrounds HIV. As the Prevention Access campaign, who spearheaded U=U, says: “Science not Stigma!”

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/cdc-agrees-with-studies-showing-that-people-on-hiv-medication-cannot-transmit-virus/

Exclusive: footage shows young elephants being captured in Zimbabwe for Chinese zoos

Rare footage of the capture of wild young elephants in Zimbabwe shows rough treatment of the calves as they are sedated and taken away

The Guardian has been given exclusive footage which shows the capture of young, wild elephants in Zimbabwe in preparation, it is believed, for their legal sale to Chinese zoos.

In the early morning of 8 August, five elephants were caught in Hwange national park by officials at Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks).

These captures are usually kept as secret as possible. The Guardian understands that in this case the usual procedure was followed. First, a viable herd is identified. Then operatives in a helicopter pick off the younger elephants with a sedative fired from a rifle. As the elephant collapses, the pilot dive-bombs the immediate vicinity so the rest of the herd, attempting to come to the aid of the fallen animal, are kept at bay. When things quieten down, a ground-team approaches the sedated elephants on foot, bundles them up, and drags them on to trailers.

The footage, a series of isolated clips and photographs provided to the Guardian by an anonymous source associated with the operation, documents the moment that operatives are running into the bush, then shows them tying up one young elephant. The elephants are then seen herded together in a holding pen near the main tourist camp in Hwange.

Elephant
In this part of the footage, a young female elephant is seen being kicked in the head repeatedly by one of the captors. Photograph: The Guardian

Finally, in the most disturbing part of the footage, a small female elephant, likely around five years old, is seen standing in the trailer. Her body is tightly tied to the vehicle by two ropes. Only minutes after being taken from the wild, the animal, still groggy from the sedative, is unable to understand that the officials want her to back into the truck, so they smack her on her body, twist her trunk, pull her by her tail and repeatedly kick her in the head with their boots.

Altogether, 14 elephants were captured during this time period, according to the source, who asked to remain to anonymous for fear of reprisal. The intention was to take more elephants, but the helicopter crashed during one of the operations. It is estimated that 30-40 elephants were to be captured in total.

The elephants that were taken are now in holding pens at an off-limits facility within Hwange called Umtshibi, according to the source. One expert who reviewed the photographs, Joyce Poole, an expert on elephant behaviour and co-director of the Kenya-based organisation ElephantVoices, said the elephants were bunching huddling together because they are frightened.

The
The young elephants in their enclosure. According to experts, they are bunching, huddling together because they are frightened. Photograph: The Guardian

Audrey Delsink, an elephant behavioural ecologist and executive director for Executive Director for Humane Society International Africa, also reviewed the photos and footage. She believed that most of the elephants were aged between two and four. Basically, these calves have just been weaned or are a year or two into the weaning process. In the wild, elephants are completely dependent on their mothers milk until they are two, and are not fully weaned until the age of five.

A number of the calves, she said, were displaying temporal streaming a stress-induced activity. Many of the gestures indicate apprehensive and displacement behaviour trunk twisting, trunk curled under, face touching, foot swinging, head-shaking, ear-cocking, displacement feeding, amongst others. Zimparks were approached but did not make a comment.

The buyer for the young elephants is a Chinese national, according to inside sources who asked not to be named. Last year he was associated with a case involving 11 wild hyenas, who were discovered in a truck at Harare international airport that had been on the road for 24 hours without food or water and were reportedly in an extremely stressed condition, dehydrated and emaciated and, in some cases, badly injured.

One
One of the hyenas found in a consignment at Harare airport in Zimbabwe. Photograph: The Guardian

The legal live trade in wild animals

The capture of the baby elephants is just one of a number of operations that have taken place in Zimbabwe and across the continent over several decades. Nine elephants were reportedly exported from Namibia to Mexico in 2012, six from Namibia to Cuba in 2013, and more than 25 from Zimbabwe to China in 2015. In 2016, the US imported 17 elephants from Swaziland despite objections from the public and conservationists. From 1995-2015, more than 600 wild African elephants and 400 wild Asian elephants are reported to have been traded globally, according to a database kept by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

Under Cites, trading live elephants is legal, with a few stipulations. The destination must be appropriate and acceptable, and the sale must benefit conservation in the home country. But elephant conservationists and animal welfare advocates point out a number of flaws in the system. There are no criteria setting out what appropriate and acceptable means and what is really contributing to conservation, explained Daniela Freyer of Pro-Wildlife, a German-based organisation that seeks to improve international legislation protecting wildlife. Currently, it is entirely up to authorities in the importing countries to define and decide. There are no common rules and no monitoring of the conditions of the capture, the number of animals being traded, where they will end up or the conditions in which they will be kept at their destination. There is also no monitoring of the requirement that a sale benefit conservation.

For example, Zimbabwe and China are the biggest players in the live elephant trade, but Iris Ho, wildlife programme manager at Humane Society International (HSI), says they have found little information from the importing countries on the animals arrival. We dont know how many facilities in China have received the elephants imported from Zimbabwe during the last few years. We dont know the status of these animals.

Attempts to comply with the few Cites stipulations such as appropriate and acceptable destinations are sometimes dismissed. In 2016, a Zimbabwe delegation of Zimparks and ZNSPCA inspectors travelled to China to access the facilities, where they found that most of the zoos showed signs of poor treatment of the animals. But their recommendation that a shipment of 36 elephants remain in Zimbabwe until the holding facilities in China were completed and assessed for compliance by Zimbabwe, was ignored.

On September 16 Chinese papers announced in cheery headlines that three elephants two females and a male, aged approximately four years old had arrived at the Lehe Ledu wildlife zoo. Photographs of the elephants from Chinese media were analysed by Poole, who noted that the face one of the females looked pinched and stressed. The elephant appears to have begun to wear her tusks down on the bars, rubbing back and forth in frustration. Poole added that the sunken look, dark eyes and mottled skin are common for young, captured elephants. In the wild, you only see the pinched, sunken look in sick or orphaned elephants.

The zoo has said that it is providing more than 1,000 square metres of indoor space and 3,000 sq metres outdoors. The animals have six full-time babysitters and every meal is prepared carefully, based on scientific recommendation.

A video posted on YouTube celebrating the arrival of the elephants at Lehe Ledu zoo.

Finally, questions have been asked about whether Zimbabwe is complying with the Cites stipulation that the sale of the elephants must benefit their conservation in the wild. The environment minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, was reported in the Guardian last year as saying the sale of the elephants was necessary to raise funds to take care of national parks in Zimbabwe, which have been ravaged by drought and poaching. But in the past, there have been unconfirmed reports of Grace Mugabe, the presidents wife, using funds from the sales of elephants to pay off a military debt to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The international body governing the trade, Cites, is increasingly coming under fire for its role. The scientific literature states that captive facilities continue to fall far short of meeting elephants natural needs for movement, space and extended social networks, with negative effects on health, behavior and reproduction, said Anna Mul, a legal adviser on animal law at Fondation Franz Weber, an organisation that is lobbying Cites to end the trade of live elephants.

A spokesman for CITES said: The triennial CITES conference held last year (CoP17) agreed that appropriate and acceptable destinations was defined as destinations where the importing State is satisfied that the recipient of the live animals is suitably equipped to house and care for them. CoP17 also agreed on a process to assess if additional guidance on this matter is required. Further, both the importing and exporting countries are now required to be satisfied that any trade in live elephants should promote the conservation of elephants in the wild. In addition, the exporting Party must also be satisfied that animals are prepared and shipped so as to minimize the risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment of live elephants in trade… CITES does not address the way in which the animals are captured or stored prior to export.

But for now, China continues to import the vulnerable elephants at almost conveyor-belt speed. According to Ho, some pressure to stop the practice is beginning to be felt, but the country is influenced by the view that breeding is conservation. And then, of course, there is a willing partner in Zimbabwe and the thrill of seeing African elephants by the visitors.

Its a win-win, she said, for those who are financially profiting from the legal trade in the calves. But its a lose-lose for the animals, both imported and left behind.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/03/exclusive-footage-shows-young-elephants-being-captured-in-zimbabwe-for-chinese-zoos

The GOP Tax Plan Is Already Hitting Speed Bumps

The White House is showing "softness" on ending a $1.3 trillion federal tax deduction filers get for their state and local taxes, Senator Bob Corker said Monday, warning that it raises questions about the GOP’s "intestinal fortitude" and could imperil a tax overhaul.

The framework that President Donald Trump and Republican leaders released Wednesday calls for deep rate cuts and would abolish existing tax breaks to help pay for them. Without such “pay-fors,” Congress might have to settle for only temporary tax cuts.

Bob Corker

Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

Corker, who insists he won’t vote for a tax bill that adds a penny to the deficit, said in an interview that he’s concerned about the early signals from the White House. On Friday — two days after the tax framework was rolled out — National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said that ending the state and local tax break was negotiable.

“That’s the easiest one,” said Corker, a Tennessee Republican. “Some of the others are actually more offensive and produce lesser amounts of money.” 

The budget rules that Senate leaders plan to use to pass the legislation require that any changes that boost the federal deficit would have to expire in time. But the nine-page framework released Wednesday provided few details on revenue raisers. It calls for eliminating deductions, but doesn’t specify them. By showing its willingness to negotiate on one such deduction, the White House appears to be charting a rocky path.

“As a general matter in tax reform you have to acknowledge that you cannot negotiate with everybody’s single pay-for,” said Doug Holtz-Eakin, who runs the American Action Forum, a conservative group that’s working with GOP leaders on taxes. “If you do that for everything, you don’t get tax reform.”

‘New Deficits’

Ending the state and local deduction, which Trump’s aides proposed in April, faces resistance from Republican lawmakers in high-tax states like New York and New Jersey.

The same day Cohn commented on the state tax break, tax-writing chiefs Senator Orrin Hatch and Representative Kevin Brady dismissed a study that found ending personal exemptions, another one of the few offsets set forth, could raise taxes for some middle-class families. Their response: The committees haven’t made decisions about which tax breaks to end.

Asked if the state tax break and personal exemptions were negotiable, Brady reiterated Monday the bill is a work-in-progress. "We’re continuing to work on the final design of the tax reform plan that we’ll have ready after the budget is completed,” he said.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is signaling similar flexibility, saying on CNN Sunday that decisions about deductions remain up in the air as “the bill is not finished yet.” He took it a step further on Fox News Sunday, by adding that a tax plan that doesn’t add to the deficit won’t spur growth.

“I’ve been very candid about this. We need to have new deficits because of that. We need to have the growth,” Mulvaney said. “If we simply look at this as being deficit-neutral, you’re never going to get the type of tax reform and tax reductions that you need to get to sustain 3 percent economic growth.”

GOP leaders have been laying the groundwork to get tax legislation through the Senate without Democratic support. They need 50 votes to pass a bill, and hold 52 seats, leaving little margin for error.

$2 Trillion Cost

Republican leaders have insisted they want a permanent overhaul, similar to the scope of the changes enacted under President Ronald Reagan in 1986. “I want it to be the right kind of bill,” Hatch said. Asked what his biggest challenge would be in getting a tax bill across the finish line, the Utah Republican quipped, “fellow senators.”

In line with the White House, a growing number of GOP members, such as Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, have said they prefer tax cuts that would stimulate growth, even if they add to the deficit.

Corker has said he’d consider the budget effect of economic growth that results from tax cuts as long as it’s based on reasonable modeling. Senator Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, told reporters Tuesday that he also wants a tax plan to be deficit neutral when it’s evaluated using a reasonable dynamic score. Unlike Corker, Crapo didn’t pledge to vote against a tax bill that would add to the deficit when it’s dynamically scored.

“This is going to make health care look like a simple thing to do,” Corker said, referring to a tax bill. The GOP has faced a months-long, wrenching fight to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which ultimately failed on the Senate floor.

“This bill when it comes out of the House and Senate will increase the deficit,” said Steve Bell, a former Senate Republican staff director. “That’s going to be a stumbling block for some people.”

Eliminating state and local deductions along with personal exemptions would generate about $2.9 trillion in revenue over a decade, according to an analysis by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. Even with those offsets, the framework is more than $2 trillion in the red, according to estimates by the TPC and Committee For a Responsible Federal Budget.

Separate Bills

Despite the unified framework that enjoyed broadly positive reviews from within the party last week, the House and Senate are still likely to pass separate tax bills, according to Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican. Then, they’ll have to be merged into one bill in a conference committee that can pass both chambers.

Congress has a Dec. 8 deadline to keep the government funded, which threatens to distract from the tax debate. With just 35 legislative working days left this year, some congressional Republican aides privately have said the issue could get pushed into 2018, an election year.

Trying to reconcile two bills could highlight the different agendas in each chamber. One example: House GOP leaders have pushed to allow companies to immediately write off their capital expenditures while eliminating the deductions they take when they pay interest on loans. Hatch has backed a corporate integration plan to revamp the business taxation system that would incentivize companies to pay dividends to investors.

The tax-writing committees in the two chambers may also disagree over whether to tax top earners at a rate above 35 percent — as they’ve been given the power to do under the framework — or how to follow through on the promise to provide the middle class with a tax cut.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota said Republicans are committed to maintaining a progressive tax code and the tax-writing panels will have to “ensure the people on the high end, as the president has said, aren’t getting a big tax cut.”

That won’t be easy. The framework includes tax breaks for some top earners by creating a new rate of 25 percent for pass-through businesses — down from 39.6 percent. It also repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax and estate tax, which hit high earners and the wealthy, respectively. The Tax Policy Center’s analysis last week found that about half the plan’s tax breaks would go to the highest earners. GOP lawmakers said the study was flawed because it presumed details that they haven’t yet decided to include in legislation.

‘Army of Lobbyists’

Paul, a Kentucky libertarian who’s never an easy vote to win over, has been critical of the tax plan. He posted a message on Twitter Monday saying: “This is a GOP tax plan? Possibly 30% of middle class gets a tax hike? I hope the final details are better than this.”

Thune said there have been discussions about having a “top-end surcharge” of more than 35 percent on the highest incomes to mitigate the high-end tax break. Hatch cast doubt on the prospect, saying he prefers to limit it to three brackets, but hinted that political pressure could motivate the White House to add a fourth one.

“If they get beaten up enough, they might want to,” Hatch said.

Across Washington, lobbyists of all stripes have been waiting for months to see tax details and keeping their powder dry until full details are revealed — suggesting that ready-made opposition awaits actual tax legislation.

The real estate industry opposes doubling the standard deduction, arguing that it would lead to fewer people itemizing deductions and therefore diminish the value of the mortgage interest deduction. Charities also oppose it, saying it lessens the use of the deduction for charitable giving. They’re also concerned about the prospect of ending the estate tax, which they argue drives millions of dollars in charitable contributions.

Corker warned that raising trillions of dollars to pay for the individual and business tax cuts will require making “very tough decisions” that’ll be made tougher “when the army of lobbyists roll in here” to protect their treasured carve-outs.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-03/white-house-accused-of-softness-as-tax-plan-hits-early-bumps

    5 Ways Donald Trump’s Lies Are Trying To Break Your Brain

    Hey there, you awesome person you! Congratulations: you’ve survived several months of a Donald Trump presidency. And double congratulations: you’re pushing through this dark period despite having to experience it with a human brain. Our brains feel stress about everything from large predatory animals to low smartphone battery levels. Which begs the question: isn’t it worth wondering how those fragile organs are handling American history’s Dumbest Timeline?

    On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt brings in Cracked POTUS-trackers Cody Johnston and Sean “Seanbaby” Reiley to discover the scale of President Trump’s towering horses**t, and the psychological ramifications of facing it day to day. They’ll shine a light on the most staggering, pointless lies ever told by the Commander in Chief. They’ll use the latest psychological studies to examine how constant chief executive lies can scramble our brains. And they’ll wrap up with ways you can be more mentally resilient than ever, both now and through the “The Rock” Johnson Administration.

    Footnotes:

    The 5 Stupidest People On The Planet (Are All Donald Trump) (Cracked)

    Some News (Cracked)

    Trump’s Transition of Untruths, Exaggerations and Flat-out Falsehoods (Politico)

    Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All (The New Yorker)

    Psychologist: No, It’s Not Post-Election Stress ‘Disorder’ (WBUR)

    Aides warned Trump not to attack North Korea’s leader personally before his fiery U.N. address (Los Angeles Times)

    Actually, Mr. Trump, Washington’s Dress Shops Are Not All Sold Out (Washingtonian)

    Donald Trump masqueraded as publicist to brag about himself (Washington Post)

    A King in His Castle: How Donald Trump Lives, From His Longtime Butler (New York Times)

    Trump Golf Course Commemorates a Civil War Battle That Never Happened? (Snopes)

    Commander in Chaos (The Atlantic)

    Corrections Research in Washington Post (Brendan Nyhan)

    Trump’s Lies vs. Your Brain (Politico)

    How Mental Systems Believe (Daniel T. Gilbert; UT Austin)

    Jimmy Carter speaks on ‘a crisis of confidence,’ July 15, 1979 (Politico)

    President Trump’s Inaugural Address, Annotated (NPR)

    Enlightenment’s Evil Twin (The Atlantic)

    America Wasn’t Built for Humans (New York Magazine)

    Trump Temperament Consequences (Monmouth University)

    The Economics Of Happiness And A Country’s Income Inequality (NPR)

    Income Inequality and Happiness (Shigehiro Oishi, Selin Kesebir, Ed Diener; Psychological Science)

    The Lethality of Loneliness (New Republic)

    Interactive: Trump Lawsuits (USA Today)

    Andrew Jackson: Most Terrifying Man Ever Elected President (Cracked)

    Gerald Ford: The Accidental President (NPR)

    Donald Trump’s 4-Hour Sleep Habit Could Explain His Personality (Daily Beast)

    The Office – Soup Snakes

    Happy Gilmore – A Hole in One

    Jim Inhofe’s snowball has disproven climate change once and for all (Washington Post)

    Kimmel Turns Neil Gorsuch’s ‘Reality Show’ Nomination Into a Celebrity Apprentice Episode (Mediaite)

    NY Post cover depicts Trump White House as reality TV show ‘Survivor’ (The Hill)

    Things Said By Donald Trump’s Nutjob Doctor, Ranked By How Insane They Are (The Concourse)

    How Putin Is Reinventing Warfare (Foreign Policy)

    The Triumph Of The Ratfuckers (Esquire)

    Was Milo Yiannopoulos’ event a ‘publicity stunt’? UC Berkeley community debates (The Daily Californian)

    Calculords!

    October is here and that means two things: it’s John Carpenter month on Cracked Movie Club, and it’s time for the annual live Cracked Podcast spooktacular! On Saturday, October 14th at 7pm at the UCB Sunset theatre in Los Angeles, Alex Schmidt will be joined by Cracked’s David Christopher Bell and Brett Rader, as well as comedians Hallie Cantor, Greg Edwards and Danielle Radford to discuss urban myths and weird monsters that should get their own horror movie franchise, like the Pope Lick Monster (which unfortunately is not a monster that licks the pope) and the Bonnacon (which can best be described as a poop-unicorn). Tickets are $7 and available HERE.

    Black market hormones! Suitcases full of murdered sex dolls and discarded porn! A request for military-issued pee funnels! It’s never too late to catch up on the first few episodes of Cracked Gets Personal.

    Click here to subscribe to Cracked Gets Personal on Apple Podcasts or search for it your podcast app of choice.

    If you’re looking to support The Cracked Podcast and spruce up your wardrobe with some nifty tees, check out the awesome Cracked Podcast merch we’ve got at PodSwag.com

    Read more: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/5-ways-donald-trumps-lies-are-trying-to-break-your-brain

    PM struggles through interrupted speech

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media captionFive things that went wrong with May’s speech

    Theresa May had to battle losing her voice and being interrupted on stage by a comedian as she sought to reassert her Conservative leadership.

    Mrs May, who at one point was handed a throat sweet by the chancellor, did make it to the end of a speech in which she vowed to “renew the British dream”.

    She announced plans for more council houses and a cap on energy prices.

    But they were overshadowed by the problems she had delivering the set-piece speech in Manchester.

    BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the annual conference “was meant to be about restoring Theresa May’s authority – it may prove instead to have been further undermined”.

    Mrs May was interrupted early on in her speech by comedian Simon Brodkin – also known as Lee Nelson – who managed to make it to the podium to hand her a P45, a redundancy notice, saying to her that “Boris asked me to give you this”.

    After he was removed and she got encouraging cheers from the audience she joked that the only P45 she wanted to give out was to Jeremy Corbyn.

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media captionA prankster interrupted the prime minister during her speech

    But she struggled to finish the speech because of a croaky voice, having to stop several times to drink water.

    Sources close to the prime minister have said that the PM had caught the “conference cold”, and that her many interviews and meetings this week have taken their toll on her voice.

    They say the prankster who interrupted her speech has been arrested for a breach of the peace and there will be a thorough investigation of security.

    To add to her woes, some of the letters fell off the conference stage backdrop. By the end it read: “Building a country that works or everyon.”


    What now for May – Laura Kuenssberg’s view

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    Media captionLaura Kuenssberg on PM’s speech

    In normal political times, it is probably the case that what one minister described as a “tragedy” today would have led to a prime minister being forced out or quitting.

    But these aren’t normal times. Allies of Theresa May say today she has shown her resilience and determination in spades, demonstrating exactly why she deserves to stay in the job.

    A senior colleague of hers told me she importantly did manage to put forward a coherent vision and talked about her personal beliefs. More than that, for those who want her gone there are three obstacles.

    Read more from the BBC’s political editor


    Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said of the prime minister’s performance: “If ever there was a metaphor for battling through adversity, that was it.”

    In the speech itself, Mrs May delivered a call for a “modern, compassionate Britain” and focused on her personal commitment to social justice and fairness.

    She also apologised to activists in Manchester for an election campaign that had been “too scripted, too presidential”.

    And she said the “British dream” that “life should be better for the next generation” was out of reach for too many people, something she vowed to dedicate her premiership to fixing.

    Mrs May began her speech by outlining the reasons why she joined the Conservative Party more than 40 years ago, stressing that the things that have made her most proud in politics have not been the positions she has held, but “knowing that I made a difference – helped those who cannot be heard”.

    She announced that there would be an independent review of the Mental Health Act, to tackle injustice, and would press for justice to be done for the families of those killed and injured in the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

    “That’s what I’m in this for,” she said.

    Turning to Brexit, Mrs May said she was “confident that we will find a deal that works for Britain and Europe”. She also reassured European citizens living in the UK that “you are welcome here” and urged negotiators to reach agreement on this policy “because we want you to stay”.

    Image copyright Getty Images
    Image caption The prankster turned to Boris Johnson after interrupting the speech
    Image copyright Reuters
    Image caption Even the sign was against her
    Image copyright PA
    Image caption A big hug from husband Philip at the end of the speech

    Mrs May said it had “always been a great sadness for Philip and me that we were never blessed with children”, but she said this did not stop her wanting to help young people on to the housing ladder.

    Hailing plans to “reignite home ownership” in Britain, she said the government plans to invest an additional £2bn in affordable housing, taking the total budget up to almost £9bn.

    If ministers made the land available and gave young people the skills to build the houses, she challenged house builders to ensure they “build the homes our country needs”.


    Who is Simon Brodkin aka Lee Nelson?

    Simon Brodkin is an English comedian more commonly known by his TV character name Lee Nelson. Handing the prime minister a P45 was far from his first.

    His most famous interruption came at Glastonbury in 2015 when he ran onstage as Kanye West was performing. He pulled a similar stunt on The X Factor in 2014, running onstage as the Stereo Kicks were playing.

    He also threw US dollar bills over former Fifa president Sepp Blatter during the football organisation’s bidding scandal.


    The BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said the focus on council housing underlines Mrs May’s readiness to intervene and use the public sector to build houses in a way not seen since the 1950s.

    Mrs May announced that the government will next week publish draft legislation to impose a cap on energy prices. Downing Street says it will apply to all standard variable rates.

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media captionAmber Rudd says the government is ‘carefully’ looking at the stunt during PM’s conference speech

    Having seen her Commons majority vanish after June’s general election and facing calls to sack Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson over his interventions on Brexit, Mrs May attempted to use the conference to unite the party behind her “mission” to transform Britain.

    She said it would not be easy, but “it has never been my style to hide from a challenge, to shrink from a task, to retreat in the face of difficulty, to give up and turn away.”

    “And it is when tested the most that we reach deep within ourselves and find that our capacity to rise to the challenge before us may well be limitless.”

    The disruptions to the speech dominated discussion afterwards, but for Labour, shadow chancellor John McDonnell saying that there had been £15bn of pledges made by the end of the speech showing “the Tory magical money tree returns”.

    Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable called it “the speech of a brave prime minister struggling on, while her disloyal Cabinet colleagues openly plot against her”.

    Related Topics

    Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41493370

    Forever 21 called out for ripping off a shirt sold to benefit Planned Parenthood

    We’ve got another case of Forever 21 graphic tee outrage on our hands. 

    This week shoppers noticed that the retailer’s “The Woman” T-shirt bears an extremely similar design to a different tee created by the L.A.-based PR agency WORD to benefit Planned Parenthood. 

    The agency posted a side-by-side comparison of the shirts on Instagram, noting the absence of the Swahili, Arabic, Hebrew, and Japanese versions of the word “woman” on Forever 21’s tee. 

    Angela Carrasco and Zoila Darton, the founders and partners of WORD, told Jezebel that they were “confused” when they found out about the controversy on Thursday. 

    They began selling the shirt online in late July. On its site, WORD explains that the shirt is its contribution toward the fight for better women’s healthcare in the U.S. and abroad and that it represents the agency’s belief that feminism and human rights should be intersectional. WORD donates twenty five percent of the proceeds from sales of the shirt to Planned Parenthood. 

    “Maybe they want to capitalize off of feminism,” Darton said. “But feminism is not new to me, it’s something that I really believe, so to see it being co-opted this way is shocking.”

    Forever 21 faced even more harsh criticism from social media users.

    Carrasco and Darton said that they were most upset by the fact that the sales of the Forever 21 shirt are only benefiting the retailer instead of the women’s health organization. They’re considering looking into legal options and have urged the story to donate any proceeds to Planned Parenthood.

    Forever 21’s “The Woman” shirt still appeared in searches on the brand’s website as of time of writing. However, when we clicked on the shirt, we were directed back to the search page instead of to the product’s individual retail page.

    Mashable has reached out to Forever 21 to ask if customers can still purchase the shirt and if they have a response to the controversy. 

    UPDATE Sept. 16 7:49 a.m. PT: Forever 21 provided a statement regarding the shirt:

    “The shirt in question was bought from a third party source.  As soon as Forever 21 was alerted to the issue, we respectfully removed it from our website. Because this product did not have trademark or IP protections, there were no red flags raised at the time of purchase.”

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/15/forever-21-planned-parenthood-shirt/