Trump backing off Mexico border shutdown a big relief for US carmakers as auto sales tumble

Nearly every major automaker saw sales fall during the first quarter with forecasts that US demand will be off as much as 7% this year.
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High Times: Seniors Use Marijuana For Pain Relief

LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. (AP) — The group of white-haired folks — some pushing walkers, others using canes — arrive right on time at the gates of Laguna Woods Village, an upscale retirement community in the picturesque hills that frame this Southern California suburb a few miles from Disneyland.

There they board a bus for a quick trip to a building that, save for the green Red Cross-style sign in the window, resembles a trendy coffee bar. The people, mostly in their 70s and 80s, pass the next several hours enjoying a light lunch, playing a few games of bingo and selecting their next month’s supply of cannabis-infused products.

“It’s like the ultimate senior experience,” laughs 76-year-old retired beauty products distributor Ron Atkin as he sits down to watch the bingo at the back of the Bud and Bloom marijuana dispensary in Santa Ana.

Most states now have legal medical marijuana, and 10 of them, including California, allow anyone 21 or older to use pot recreationally. The federal government still outlaws the drug even as acceptance increases. The 2018 General Social Survey, an annual sampling of Americans’ views, found a record 61 percent back legalization, and those 65 and older are increasingly supportive.

Indeed, many industry officials say the fastest-growing segment of their customer base is people like Atkin — aging baby boomers or even those a little older who are seeking to treat the aches and sleeplessness and other maladies of old age with the same herb that many of them once passed around at parties.

“I would say the average age of our customers is around 60, maybe even a little older,” said Kelty Richardson, a registered nurse with the Halos Health clinic in Boulder, Colorado, which provides medical examinations and sells physician-recommended cannabis through its online store.

Its medical director, Dr. Joseph Cohen, conducts “Cannabis 101” seminars at the nearby Balfour Senior Living community for residents who want to know which strains are best for easing arthritic pain or improving sleep.

Relatively little scientific study has verified the benefits of marijuana for specific problems. There’s evidence pot can relieve chronic pain in adults, according to a 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, but the study also concluded that the lack of scientific information poses a risk to public health.

At Bud and Bloom, winners of the bingo games take home new vape pens, but Atkin isn’t really there for that. He’s been coming regularly for two years to buy cannabis-infused chocolate bars and sublingual drops to treat his painful spinal stenosis since the prescription opiates he had been taking quit working.

It was “desperation” that brought him here, he said, adding that his doctors didn’t suggest he try medical marijuana. But they didn’t discourage him either.

The dispensary is filled with the 50 people from the bus as they peruse counters and coolers containing everything from gel caps to drops to cannabis-infused drinks, not to mention plenty of old-fashioned weed.

Adele Frascella, leaning on her cane, purchases a package of gummy candies she says helps keep her arthritic pain at bay.

“I don’t like to take an opioid,” said Frascella, 70.

Fashionably dressed with sparkling silver earrings, Frascella confirms with a smile that she was a pot smoker in her younger days.

“I used to do it when I was like 18, 19, 20,” she said. “And then I had a baby, got married and stopped.”

She took it up again a few years ago, even investing in a “volcano,” a pricey, high-tech version of the old-fashioned bong that Gizmodo calls “the ultimate stoner gadget.” But these days, like many other seniors, she prefers edibles to smoking.

Renee Lee, another baby boomer who smoked as a youth, got back into it more than a dozen years ago after the clinical psychologist underwent brain surgery and other medical procedures that she said had her taking “10 meds a day, four times a day.”

“And I wasn’t getting any better,” she said, adding that she asked her doctors if she might try medical marijuana as a last resort. They said go ahead and she found it ended her pain.

In 2012 she founded the Rossmoor Medical Marijuana Club in her upscale San Francisco Bay Area retirement community.

“We started with 20 people, and we kept it really quiet for about a year and a half,” she said, noting that although California legalized medical cannabis in 1996, it was still seen in some quarters as an outlaw drug.

Her group has since grown to more than 1,000 members and puts on regular events, including lectures by pro-cannabis doctors and nurses.

People Lee’s age — 65 and over — are the fastest-growing segment of the marijuana-using population, said Dr. Gary Small, professor of psychiatry and aging at the University of California, Los Angeles.

He believes more studies on the drug’s effects on older people are needed. And while it may improve quality of life by relieving pain, anxiety and other problems, he said, careless, unsupervised use can cause trouble.

“We know that cannabis can cause side effects, particularly in older people,” he said. “They can get dizzy. It can even impair memory if the dose is too high or new ingredients are wrong. And dizziness can lead to falls, which can be quite serious.”

Richardson said Colorado saw an uptick in hospital visits by older users soon after the state legalized cannabis in 2012. The problem, he said, was often caused by novices downing too many edibles.

That’s a lesson Dick Watts, 75, learned the hard way. The retired New Jersey roofing contractor who keeps a winter home at Laguna Woods Village began having trouble sleeping through the night as he got into his 70s. He attended a seniors’ seminar where he learned marijuana might help, so he got a cannabis-infused candy bar. He immediately ate the whole thing.

“Man, that was nearly lethal,” recalled Watts, laughing.

Now when he has trouble sleeping he takes just a small sliver of candy before bed. He said he wakes up clear-headed and refreshed.

“And I have it up on a shelf so my grandkids can’t get to it,” Watts said.

___

Associated Press Writer Krysta Fauria contributed to this story.

PHOTO: AP


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Why “Stress Relief” is the quintessential episode of The Office

Why “Stress Relief” is the quintessential episode of The Office


Why “Stress Relief” is the quintessential episode of <em>The Office</em>

The Office premiered on March 24th, 2005.

The receptionist spots the smoke first. She splutters and points at the tendrils unfurling under the door as the panic-gripped staff scramble to escape their second story tinder box. They use a photocopier as a makeshift battering ram, smash windows to cry into an empty parking lot for help, and hoist bodies into the ceiling.

But they also loot vending machines and beg for their cats to be spared—it’s one of the most chaotic, beloved moments of television comedy.

Welcome to “Stress Relief,” arguably the greatest episode in The Office’s nine-season run. You know the one: overzealous safety officer Dwight K. Schrute holds a frenzied fire drill that gives Stanley a heart attack. When Michael realizes he’s stressing Stanley out big time and could further jeopardize his health, he decides a Comedy Central-style roast is the only way to relieve tension. Cue disaster (again).

But it’s not just the wacky plot that makes this super-sized episode a re-run darling; it’s the way it epitomizes everything we love about The Office.

For newbies, “Stress Relief” is the ideal introduction to Michael and co.’s specific brand of ridiculous, awkward humor.

“Kevin is breaking into the vending machine, Oscar falls through the ceiling and it’s so hysterical to watch,” 28-year-old Nina from California says of the episode’s cold open. And Nina’s an expert authority; she’s the genius behind @dundermifflinpaperco, an Office Instagram account boasting more than 220,000 followers. “Creed’s facial expressions and Michael screaming out the window…it’s almost hard to put into words how funny it is.”

19-year-old Caroline from Tennessee, who runs Instagram’s @michaelsmanymoods, agrees. “I think it’s one of the best episodes because it’s constantly spitting off humor to the audience. Most episodes don’t do that but ‘Stress Relief’ repeatedly does.”

She’s right. It isn’t just the classic cold open that makes this episode so hilarious. We’re also treated to a highly-memed CPR class involving a Bee Gees singalong and Dwight wearing a dummy’s sliced-off face a la Hannibal Lecter. And who could forget The Roast of Michael Scott? Not only do we get a giggle when an iPod Shuffle is used as a point of anatomical reference, but we also snag a peek inside the mind of one Michael Gary Scott.

“Michael is always one step away from total disaster and yet is one of the most upbeat characters on the show,” explains Eden, a 21-year-old student in Rhode Island. “And he maintains his hope even though he’s constantly proven wrong.”

22-year-old Casey from New Hampshire puts it more simply. “He’s a 12-year-old boy with authority.”

He’s selfish. He’s childish. He’s the source of countless offensive jokes (see: every single roast he delivers when he finally gets his turn)—but his deepest desire is to make the employees of a mid-range paper supply firm fear how much they love him. And you know what? When he takes a day off work to emotionally recover from his roast (by cinematically flinging slices of white bread at pigeons), he manages to weasel his way into not only their hearts, but ours too.

We can’t talk about matters of the heart without talking about PB and J. After years of watching Pam and Jim exchange giddy glances across the office and sway to a Travis song in a moonlit Pennsylvania parking lot, “Stress Relief” shows them navigating the confusing current of Pam’s parents’ separation. Jim and Pam worry, they disagree, and they miscommunicate—but they also deliver one of the episode’s sweetest moments. Pam, a shy smile tugging at her lips, tells the camera, “When you’re a kid you assume your parents are soulmates. My kids are gonna be right about that”.

It’s the episode’s way of reminding us that ultimately, The Office is a cultural phenomenon exploring human connection.

“My family used to watch The Office every night after dinner; it was kinda like ‘our’ show,” says Eden. “Whenever I feel homesick or anything, I can rely on The Office to cheer me up because of that nostalgia… and because it’s hilarious.”

The Office was one of the ways that I stayed connected with my best friend from high school when we went to different states for college,” says Laura, 23, from Florida. “She had already seen the series, but I would keep her updated on my progress and send her my reactions as I watched along. It just made the long distance a little bit easier to bear and made our friendship that much stronger. It’s the power of Michael Scott!”

If there was ever a quintessential episode of The Office, “Stress Relief” would be it. Its secret recipe? Equal parts physical comedy and cringe-inducing jokes, a healthy dose of Michael being Michael, a peppering of Jim and Pam moments for the true romantics, and a dash of fuzzy feelings. Best served ROASTED.

The post Why “Stress Relief” is the quintessential episode of <em>The Office</em> appeared first on HelloGiggles.

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4 Secrets Debt Relief Programs Don’t Want You to Know (Plus 3 Alternatives)

You’re 30, 60 or maybe even 180 days late on your credit card payments.

Creditors are calling, interest is building and your stress is through the roof.

Then, you see an ad for a company that can seemingly make it all go away — a company that’ll finally get you some much-needed relief from your credit card debt.

What Is a Credit Card Debt Relief Program?

Credit card debt relief isn’t an official term used in the finance industry. It’s a marketing term that debt settlement companies use to play to indebted people’s desire for relief.

The term can be interchangeable with debt forgiveness, debt settlement or debt negotiation. What differentiates debt relief programs is that they’re set up by a company that does the hard work for you.

You may have seen their ads in the mail, on TV or in sidebars while searching the internet. They promise to lower your debt burden, help you avoid bankruptcy and hold your hand every step of the way. The offer sounds really enticing.

But as with anything that sounds too good to be true, there are some strings attached. Here are four things you should know about credit card debt relief programs before you join one.

1. A Debt Relief Program Will Hurt Your Credit

The program works in four steps:

  1. You make payments to the debt settlement company that go into an FDIC-insured savings account.
  2. Once that account is at a certain amount, they will start negotiating your debt.
  3. They contact you for your approval of the negotiated settlement.
  4. They pay that settlement and move on to the next debt.

In the first three steps, your debt relief company will not be making payments on your debts. The primary goal of debt relief programs is to negotiate lower settlements. Continuing to not make payments helps them achieve that goal. But depending on how large your debts are, those steps can take years — and during that time, your credit score continues to drop.

You’ll even keep receiving calls from creditors.

2. They Can’t Guarantee Success in Negotiating Your Debt Down

If you see the word ”guarantee” anywhere in a company’s marketing materials, run for the hills. No one can guarantee any level of forgiveness when it comes to debt.

In general, debt settlement companies do have a good track record in negotiating down debt, because they have insight into a lot of different creditors and previous settlements. But every case is different, and you can’t assume someone else’s success will assure your own.

3. You’ll Have to Pay Taxes on the Forgiven Amount

Contrary to what some believe, the government has no debt relief program. In fact, if you do receive debt relief, they’d like to be compensated for it. You’ll pay taxes on your forgiven debt.

Here’s how to figure out what taxes you might owe:

Let’s say you owe $ 20,000 in credit card debt. First, someone will asses the fair market value of the assets accumulated through that debt. Due to depreciation, that value is likely to be less than $ 20,000. Let’s say it’s $ 17,000. They won’t take your stuff, but hypothetically, if the creditors came and took those assets as repayment, you’d still be $ 3,000 short.

The debt relief program then negotiates $ 5,000 off your bill. You now owe $ 15,000. Woohoo! You’ll be responsible for paying income tax — between 10% and 37%, based on your income — on the difference between the forgiveness amount and what you owed after the value assessment. In this case, $ 2,000.

And that’s just a simple example. It can be unreasonably complicated to figure out what you’ll actually owe in taxes after debt forgiveness, so it’s advisable to hire an accountant to help you with it. (Another expense you’ll have to eat.)

4. They Don’t Work for Free

While debt settlement companies that market their services are now banned from collecting fees from consumers before settling or reducing the consumers’ debt, they still don’t work for free.

Debt settlement companies will charge you on a percentage basis — usually, a portion of your total debt or of the amount forgiven.

Debt Relief Program Alternatives

If you’re ready to pay off your debt, there are alternatives to debt relief programs that can lower interest rates, eliminate fees and improve your financial picture as a whole.

1. Debt Management Plan

A debt management plan, usually offered from a credit union or nonprofit financial organization, is a voluntary program that allows you to pay funds to your credit counseling agency each month. They send those funds directly to your creditors — no savings account involved.

While debt relief programs hurt your credit score, a debt management plan can actually improve your score throughout the 30-60 month program.

You can find accredited credit counselors from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or the Financial Counseling Association of America.

2. Debt Consolidation

Most debt relief programs won’t accept clients with less than $ 10,000 in debt. If you fall below this figure, a personal loan or balance transfer credit card might be good options for you.

Many types of credit card debt consolidation can lower your interest rate — sometimes down to 0% for up to 18 months — and help you avoid fees. But you have to be ready to commit to paying off your debt within the terms of the loan or card.

3. Do It Yourself

You don’t need a third party to negotiate and settle your debt for you. In fact, many people do it themselves.

It’s not a walk in the park, though. You have to save up money to make lump-sum payments, and it will also do bad things to your credit while you’re in negotiations.

Whatever way you choose to pay off your credit card debt, it pays to be informed on the risks and rewards associated with the different methods.

Do your due diligence and you’ll avoid being scammed on the path to freedom from debt.

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She and her husband paid off $ 78,000 of debt in less than two years on two less-than-average salaries. She gives money-saving and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @modernfrugality.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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When is Red Nose Day 2019, where can you buy a red nose and is Comic Relief on every year?

RED Nose Day is coming back for another year and promises to deliver a night full of fun and laughter.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 2019 fundraiser including the host and where you can buy a red nose.

Comic Relief is returning for another day
BBC

When is Red Nose Day 2019?

The Comic Relief telethon has been confirmed to air on BBC One on Friday, March 15, 2019

It usually starts around 7 pm and runs right through to 2.30am on the Saturday morning.

It briefly switches to BBC Two when coverage on BBC One breaks News At Ten from 10 pm to 10.40pm.

This broadcast information is still to be confirmed.

Who will be hosting Red Nose Day 2019?

The presenting duties is usually split among some of Britain’s best comedians, actors and TV hosts.

Sir Lenny Henry, who is one of the founding members of the Red Nose Day telethon, is normally the main presenter of the night – but this is yet to be confirmed.

The star line-up for the evening also hasn’t been released yet.

Ed Sheeran travelled to Africa for a special report
Ed Sheeran travelled to Africa for a special report in 2017
PA:Press Association

Is Red Nose Day on every year?

Comic Relief is a biennial event which means it only takes place every other year.

It used to be held annually until 2002 when Sport Relief was introduced.

Now, Comic Relief falls on odd years, whilst Sport Relief happens in even years – like 2018.

Don’t miss out on getting your Red Nose
BBC

Where can you buy a Red Nose?

This Red Nose Day they’ve got eleven new Red Noses in special surprise boxes.

Well, nine red ones, a Rare green one and an Ultra rare one which you can turn upside down.

You need to head to Sainsbury’s or Oxfam to pick up your red noses this year.

Alternatively, you can get them at the Red Nose Day online store.

They cost £1.25 each.

Four Weddings and a Funeral returns for a Red Nose Day special
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Is there going to be a Four Weddings and a Funeral sequel for Comic Relief?

Rom-com fans everywhere will rejoice at the news of a reunion of one of the all-time most beloved films in the genre.

The short film, which will be called One Red Nose Day And A Wedding, is for Red Nose Day 2019.

The one-off special follows the success of 2017’s Red Nose Day Actually based on 2003’s international hit film Love Actually.

Filming began on December 14, 2018 and it was revealed that Lily James would be playing Hugh Grant’s daughter and he would be giving her away at her wedding.


Where does the money from Comic Relief go?

Comic Relief spends the money that is raised through Red Nose Day and Sport Relief on disadvantaged people living in the UK and around the world.

Over the last 30 years over £1billion has been raised for the charity.

The Comic Relief charity is UK based and aims to free the world from poverty.

It has also backed campaigns to help disabled people get back into work and to highlight abuse of the elderly.


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Giant baby born to mom without pain relief

Whoa, baby!

If any mom deserves a push present, it’s this one.

Sydney, Australia mother Nikki Bell gave birth to a 12-pound, 6-ounce boy named Parker last Thursday without the help of pain relievers. The big bundle of joy’s weight was a record-breaker at Blacktown Hospital, according to its midwife…

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Janice Dickinson – The Alleged Victim Says She ‘Laughed With Joy And Relief’ Upon Learning About Bill Cosby’s Guilty Verdict!

One of the many women who accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, Janice Dickinson, made it very clear that she couldn’t be any happier about the man’s prison sentence. The retired supermodel, now 63, was in attendance at the Carousel of Hope Ball last night and while there, she talked to ET, opening up about Brett Kavanaugh frustratingly getting onto the Supreme Court despite the accusations brought against him.

But at least Bill Cosby was found guilty, right?

‘I have had a tough week because of the Kavanaugh thing and I really am an activist that is behind women because I was not believed in the beginning. You have to believe the women, so I am going to keep my fight going.’

She went on to share that ‘I am still suing Cosby in a civil case, even if my attorney Lisa Bloom has to go to prison to take his deposition. But, you know what, I feel vindicated. We came out on top and it was just really a good thing for all women for the biggest serial rapist in the United States history gets taken away in handcuffs.’

The outlet’s reporter was curious to know how she reacted when learning about Cosby’s verdict.

‘I just laughed. Others cried. I was laughing just with joy and relief that he will not be able to do that to another woman,’ Dickinson responded.

She also previously talked to the Daily Mail shortly after the sentencing, saying: ‘I have been holding this in since 1982 and it is slowly seeping out of me, the toxicity levels of emotion and the catastrophic pain and the nightmares for so many years. I just bounced out of bed and was like, ‘Wow.’’

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